|The worst sin towards our fellow creatures is not to hate them, but to be indifferent to them; that's the essence of inhumanity. - George Bernard Shaw|
No. 124, Part II, 26 June 1996
This is Part II of the Open Media Research Institute's Daily Digest. Part II is a compilation of news concerning Central, Eastern, and Southeastern Europe. Part I, covering Russia, Transcaucasia and Central Asia, is distributed simultaneously as a second document. Back issues of the Daily Digest, and other information about OMRI, are available through OMRI's WWW pages: http://www.omri.cz/Index.html CENTRAL AND EASTERN EUROPE UKRAINIAN PARLIAMENT BANS FOREIGN MILITARY BASES... More than 300 of 340 deputies attending the 25 June session of parliament voted to ban foreign military bases on Ukrainian territory, Russian Public Television reported. The vote was part of an article-by-article review of the draft Ukrainian constitution. Since the Russian Black Sea Fleet is still based in Ukraine, deputies allowed for a transition period of an unspecified length during which the Russian fleet would be allowed to remain in Ukraine. -- Ustina Markus ...AS IT CONTINUES TO REVIEW DRAFT CONSTITUTION. Lawmakers reviewed another 10 articles of the draft Ukrainian constitution on 24 June, but again failed to approve many key provisions, UNIAN and Holos Ukrainy reported on 24-25 June. The legislature approved articles outlining foreign-policy objectives and promoting nation-building, political pluralism, and environmental protection. Deputies rejected provisions on the rule of law, the validity of international treaties on Ukrainian territory, use of the state language, and a ban on formation of armed groups. Leftist opposition to a land market prevented the approval of an article on land-ownership rights. Unapproved provisions within articles that have been adopted are to be rescheduled for another reading. Legislators were scheduled to review the next section, on "the rights, freedoms, and duties of a person and a citizen," on 25 June. -- Chrystyna Lapychak NATIONAL DEMOCRATS DEMAND BAN ON COMMUNIST PARTY OF UKRAINE. Ukrainian agencies reported on 24 June that national democratic forces in Ukraine, led by the Rukh party, have collected 2 million signatures for a petition demanding a ban on the Communist Party of Ukraine (CPU). Rukh leader Vyacheslav Chornovil has presented the petition to President Leonid Kuchma. Rukh activists have been collecting signatures since late April. Rukh has long lobbied for a ban on the CPU, which it claims is deliberately sabotaging the adoption of a new Ukrainian constitution because it is fundamentally opposed to Ukrainian independence. -- Chrystyna Lapychak BELARUSIAN ROUNDUP. Russian Duma Deputy and professor of psychology Galina Starovoytova said Belarusian deputy Stanislau Shushkevich is mentally healthy, NTV reported on 24 June. Her statement was in response to the Belarusian president's chief ideologue Uladzimir Zamyatalin's demand that Shushkevich undergo a psychiatric examination because of his criticism of the Belarusian regime. According to Starovoytova, Shushkevich's "intellect is considerably more highly developed than the average CIS level." In other news, Reuters reported on 25 June that liberal politicians have denounced the beating of the wife of an RFE/RL correspondent. The woman was attacked by unknown assailants in her home, apparently to intimidate her husband, who works for RFE/RL and the banned independent weekly, Belarusskaya delovaya gazeta. -- Ustina Markus BALTIC PRESIDENTS MEET CLINTON. Presidents Lennart Meri (Estonia), Guntis Ulmanis (Latvia), and Algirdas Brazauskas (Lithuania) only partially achieved their aims in their meeting with U.S. President Bill Clinton in Washington on 25 June, RFE/RL reported. Clinton did not accept the Lithuanian formula of "who, not when" on NATO enlargement, but affirmed that "the first nations admitted will not be the last." The talks were not limited to the topic of NATO. Meri asked for help in countering Moscow's "disinformation and destabilization" campaign in the region, while Ulmanis focused on the importance of economic integration into Europe. Brazauskas stressed his concern about changes in the Conventional Forces in Europe (CFE) treaty that allow Russia to station more tanks in the Pskov Oblast, which borders Latvia and Estonia. -- Saulius Girnius BALTIC STATES APPEAL FOR SECURITY GUARANTEES. The Latvian and Lithuanian delegations to the Council of Europe Parliamentary Assembly made an appeal on 25 June in Strasbourg to the member states of the CFE treaty to provide them with adequate security guarantees, BNS reported. The head of the Estonian delegation, Kristiina Ojuland, did not join the appeal, arguing that the assembly was not the place to discuss military issues. Lithuanian delegate Vytautas Landsbergis suggested that the Baltic states be given 600 anti-tank missiles to match the 600 tanks that Russia will be permitted to station in the Pskov Oblast. -- Saulius Girnius UKRAINIAN PRESIDENT IN POLAND. Leonid Kuchma arrived in Warsaw on 25 June for a two-day trip to cement the partnership between the two neighbors, international media reported. Kuchma and Polish President Aleksander Kwasniewski signed a declaration on bilateral relations that included assurances that Ukraine will not oppose Poland's aim to join NATO. Poland in turn promised that future NATO membership will not be aimed against any country, Kwasniewski's spokesman said. Ukraine, however, remained opposed to any nuclear arms on Polish soil. Kuchma called Poland Ukraine's "special strategic partner" in its bid to move closer to European structures and said his country will seek associate NATO membership if the alliance expands. The two presidents also signed four economic accords, including one on regulating visa-free travel between the two countries and the return of artwork. Also, Poland promised to support Ukraine's bid to join the Central European Free Trade Agreement. -- Zsofia Szilagyi NEW CZECH PARLIAMENT MEETS. The 200 deputies elected to the new Czech parliament took their oath of office on 25 June at the assembly's first session. The election of a parliamentary chairman, expected to be Social Democrat leader Milos Zeman, will take place later this week, along with the nomination of other officials, Czech media reported. Meanwhile, leaders of the three parties trying to form a minority government met again and reported to President Vaclav Havel, who said a coalition agreement could be signed imminently. The parties have almost reached agreement on the distribution of posts in a 16-member cabinet whereby the Civic Democratic Party of Prime Minister-designate Vaclav Klaus will have eight seats and the two other parties four each. According to lists published in Czech dailies on 26 June, the outgoing ministers of finance, foreign affairs, internal affairs, and industry will retain their posts. -- Steve Kettle SLOVAK PARLIAMENT SESSION ADJOURNS... The parliament on 25 June interrupted its session until 1 July, delaying a vote on changes in the boards overseeing the National Property Fund (FNM), Slovak and international media reported. The adjournment was supported by the three coalition parties and the Party of the Democratic Left (SDL), which recently said it would support a minority government led by Prime Minister Vladimir Meciar under certain conditions. SDL deputy chairman Robert Fico said more time is needed to determine whether the ruling coalition, led by Meciar's Movement for a Democratic Slovakia (HZDS), remains together. Other opposition parties have been highly critical of the SDL's behavior, beginning with the party's 21 June violation of an opposition agreement on the expansion of the board that oversees the Slovak Information Service. SDL deputy Viliam Sopko was appointed to the board while other opposition candidates were rejected. -- Sharon Fisher ...AS COALITION'S FUTURE REMAINS UNCERTAIN. Speculation about the coalition's future currently dominates the Slovak media and will continue at least until the parliament reconvenes on 1 July. Association of Workers of Slovakia (ZRS) chairman Jan Luptak told Slovak Radio on 25 June that the coalition agreement remains "firmly in force," and that "the HZDS will never have a better coalition partner than the ZRS." Slovak National Party chairman Jan Slota also insisted that the coalition agreement remains valid, as shown by the votes on the foundations law and the adjournment of the current parliament session. Luptak said the coalition parties "reached agreement" during secret talks on 25 June. On 24 June, Meciar said that Slota and FNM presidium president Stefan Gavornik (a ZRS member) are "unacceptable partners," and Slota reportedly said someone other than Meciar should be prime minister. -- Sharon Fisher SLOVAK STEEL COMPANY GAINS CONTROL OF INDEPENDENT PAPER. Tatiana Repkova, editor-in-chief of the opposition daily Narodna obroda, reported on 26 June that the eastern Slovak steel giant VSZ now has a controlling stake in her paper's publisher, NOFRA. Repkova explained that while VSZ already had some shares in NOFRA, it recently bought another 49% that was previously held by a German company. The sale will likely mean the end of the paper's independence; VSZ has close ties to the government, marked by the recent appointment of Julius Rezes--the 26-year-old son of Slovakia's transport and communications minister--as the firm's vice president. Meanwhile, the daily Nova Smena mladych is closing due to low circulation, CTK reported on 25 June. The paper came into existence on 2 January thanks to funding from the Meciar government, which saw a need for another pro-government daily. -- Sharon Fisher HUNGARIAN PARLIAMENT COMMEMORATES EXECUTED PREMIER. Parliament on 25 June passed a bill "immortalizing the memory" of the martyred prime minister Imre Nagy, leader of Hungary's 1956 uprising against Soviet domination, Hungarian and international media reported. Most votes in favor of the controversial bill came from the Socialist Party (MSZP), while the junior coalition partner Alliance of Free Democrats (SZDSZ) abstained and most opposition deputies voted against it. The bill, which sparked emotional exchanges before approval, declares that "the personality, behavior and morality of Imre Nagy is inseparable from the 1956 revolution, from the idea of democracy and national independence." The MSZP has embraced Nagy as a means of distancing itself from its predecessor, which collaborated with the Soviets in crushing the revolution. Opponents of the bill said the MSZP had no business celebrating a man their predecessors killed. -- Zsofia Szilagyi SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE BOSNIAN ELECTIONS TO GO AHEAD ON 14 SEPTEMBER... OSCE chairman Flavio Cotti announced on 25 June that the Bosnian general elections will take place on the last possible date set down in the Dayton peace agreement. The elections have been described as the most complicated in history and will take place on seven different levels in the Croat-Muslim federation and in the Republika Srpska. An OSCE diplomat told the BBC that the upcoming elections will give an impetus to all sides to respect the civilian provisions of the treaty, such as freedom of movement and open media. But to date such provisions have largely been ignored, and, as long as IFOR refuses to enforce them, they are likely to be ignored in the future. -- Patrick Moore ...WHILE DOUBTS REMAIN. Bosnian Vice President Ejup Ganic welcomed the announcement of the vote, saying: "we think the elections will reinforce the stability of Bosnia-Herzegovina." But his government also stressed that the Serbs' non-compliance with the civilian aspects of Dayton threatens to render the electoral process meaningless. Cotti himself added that the vote could face "serious problems" if Serbian war criminals remain in power, AFP reported on 25 June. The Clinton administration and some other Western governments have been pressuring the OSCE to press ahead with the elections regardless. The White House wants the vote out of the way before the U.S. elections in November. -- Patrick Moore BOSNIAN SERB SPEAKER SUGGESTS KARADZIC WILL STEP DOWN... The Bosnian Serb parliament in Pale debated the fate of Republika Srpska President and indicted war criminal Radovan Karadzic, AFP reported on 26 June. Parliament speaker Momcilo Krajisnik said the deputies debated Bosnian Serb officials' recent talks with High Representative Carl Bildt and rump Yugoslav officials. Bildt threatened Krajisnik the day before that sanctions would be reimposed on the Bosnian Serbs if Karadzic was not removed. Krajisnik said Karadzic would be ready to step down from office "if it was in the interest of the Serb people," and that parliament deputies had decided to eliminate "all obstacles" to holding elections. BBC reported on 25 June that Karadzic will resign as the Bosnian Serb leader at a 28 June congress of his Serb Democratic Party (SDS), while Belgrade media reported that Karadzic has hired a Belgrade lawyer to advocate his interests in The Hague. -- Daria Sito Sucic ...AS BELGRADE GIVES BOSNIAN SERB LEADER ULTIMATUM. Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic, along with his federal counterpart Zoran Lilic and Montenegrin President Momir Bulatovic, have delivered Karadzic an ultimatum demanding his immediate departure from the Bosnian Serb presidency, Nasa Borba reported on 26 June. According to the ultimatum, Karadzic's noncompliance with the terms of the Dayton deal warrants his ouster, and his failure to leave office would result in a renewed round of sanctions against the Republika Srpska by rump Yugoslavia. Reuters observed that the ultimatum "came after months of lobbying by U.S. and European officials who believe Karadzic's continued presence in office is a threat to the Bosnian peace process," and adds that with Karadzic's ouster, other Bosnian Serb hardliners may become easier to prosecute at The Hague. -- Stan Markotich BOUTROS-GHALI CRITICIZES CROATIA ON HUMAN RIGHTS. UN Secretary General Boutros Boutros-Ghali has submitted a report to the Security Council that criticizes the human rights situation in Croatia, AFP reported on 25 June. Since the UN's last critical report on the situation in Croatia, published in February, Ghali has said that there has been no improvement either in investigating numerous human rights violations, particularly in sectors formerly held by Serbs, or in the repatriation of the 200,000 Croatian Serbs who fled to rump Yugoslavia after the Croat offensive in Krajina in summer 1995. -- Daria Sito Sucic SLOVENIA'S POLICE CITED FOR BRUTALITY. The Council of Europe condemned alleged brutality on the part of Slovenia's police on 26 June, Reuters reported. According to a report from the council's Committee for the Prevention of Torture, "a number of people have stated that they have been subjected to excessive force, in particular baton blows, from the police when they were arrested." The council also requested the Slovenian government to assert authority over the country's police forces. -- Stan Markotich ROMANIAN PRESIDENT IN GERMANY. Ion Iliescu was received by his German counterpart Roman Herzog on 25 June at the start of a four-day state visit to Germany, Western and Romanian media reported. On the same day, he met with Chancellor Helmut Kohl, who stressed Germany's support for Romania's bid for closer ties to Euro-Atlantic structures and asked Bucharest to continue its course of democratic, legal, and economic reforms. Iliescu, who described Germany as a key trade and security partner for Romania, is also scheduled to meet with German Foreign Minister Klaus Kinkel, Finance Minister Theo Waigel, Bundestag President Rita Suessmuth, and other senior German officials and businessmen. The two sides are due to sign accords on investment protection, transportation, and war graves. -- Dan Ionescu MOLDOVAN OPPOSITION PARTY GEARS UP FOR ELECTIONS. The Party of Democratic Forces (PFD) claimed to be the first organization to officially announce its participation in the upcoming presidential elections and to have already nominated its candidate, Infotag reported on 25 June. The statement was made at a press conference staged by the PFD two days after its national congress, which nominated party chairman Valeriu Matei as the party's candidate for the November presidential elections. PFD deputy chairman Alexandru Mosanu said his party's stance is that Moldova should quit the structures of the Commonwealth of Independent States. He also criticized a draft memorandum for the settlement of the Dniester crisis for allegedly "creating a state within a state," which he said could lead to the "Dniesterization" of the entire Republic of Moldova. -- Dan Ionescu RECORD HIGH NUMBER OF ABORTIONS IN BULGARIA. A record high 120,000 women in Bulgaria had an abortion in the first five months of 1996, Trud and Kontinent reported on 26 June, of which 100,000 were legal and the rest illegal. According to official data, 150,000 pregnancies were interrupted in 1995, while only 72,000 babies were born. Sociologists believe that within a few years, one out of four families will have only one child. Among the educated, the young, and the rich, the desire to have children is constantly declining. -- Stefan Krause ALBANIAN OPPOSITION SUPPORTERS TO STAND TRIAL. A Tirana court charged ten people with taking part in a 28 May rally, Reuters reported on 25 June. The Socialists, the Social Democrats, the Democratic Alliance, and the Party for National Unity had called the rally to protest election fraud. The rally was quickly and bloodily broken up by police, who severely injured many demonstrators. The protesters are now charged with ignoring "numerous and continuous warnings made by the Interior Ministry" and with provoking the police. OMRI correspondents at the scene of the demonstration saw no provocation by the demonstrators other than their meeting in Tirana's main square. The government news agency ATSH called the defendants "Socialist Party militants and ex-employees and collaborators of the communist secret police." They face penalties of up to 200,000 leks ($2,000) or up to three months in jail. -- Fabian Schmidt MOUSE CAUSES POWER OUTAGE IN TWO ALBANIAN CITIES. Two Albanian towns were blacked out when a mouse caused a short circuit and sparked a $10,000 power-plant blaze, Reuters reported on 25 June. The fire burned down a high-voltage distribution center in Kruja, causing a second blaze at a power station in Fushe-Kruje. Local power supplies were cut for several hours and bread supplies were subsequently disrupted. The power- plant machinery was designed to shut down in the event of a short circuit to stop power surges but there was a technical fault and the machinery went up in smoke. -- Fabian Schmidt [As of 12:00 CET] Compiled by Tom Warner ------------------------------------------------------------------------ Copyright (c) 1996 Open Media Research Institute, Inc. All rights reserved. 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