|No passion so effectually robs the mind of all its powers of acting and reasoning as fear. - Edmund Burke|
No. 125, Part II, 27 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 PRESIDENT DECREES REFERENDUM ON DRAFT CONSTITUTION. In an apparent effort to end months of wrangling among lawmakers, Leonid Kuchma signed a decree on 25 June calling for a 25 September national referendum on a draft Ukrainian constitution, Reuters and NTV reported on 26 June. The president's chief of staff, Dmytro Tabachnyk, said Kuchma went ahead with the decision after winning the support of the country's National Security Council. He said delays in adopting the new constitution by the divided parliament posed a threat to national security and stability. The decree will put to a nationwide vote the draft approved in March by the Constitutional Commission, without any of the changes adopted by deputies over the past two months. That version gives the president stronger powers, provides for a bicameral legislature, and limits Crimean autonomy. -- Chrystyna Lapychak POLITICAL FIGURES REACT TO KUCHMA'S DECREE. Parliamentary Speaker Oleksander Moroz called the decision to hold a referendum on the draft constitution socially divisive, while leftist forces vowed to campaign for a "no" vote. Although some national democrats, such as Rukh leader Vyacheslav Chornovil, hailed the move, others said it would split the country and deepen the economic crisis. They also claimed the choice of the unamended draft undermined Kuchma's supporters in parliament and would turn the poll into a vote of confidence in the president. -- Chrystyna Lapychak KUCHMA ON SECURITY. Speaking at a news conference in Warsaw (see below) the Ukrainian president once again warned against creating a new border between East and West in Europe, international agencies reported on 26 June. Kuchma reiterated Ukraine's interest in integrating with Western political and economic structures and said that Kyiv is seeking associate membership in the EU and Western European Union, the EU's defense arm. He also touted his previous proposal to make Central Europe a nuclear-arms-free zone. -- Ustina Markus DEFENSE FACTORY STRIKE IN BELARUS. The largest strike in Belarus so far this year took place at a defense factory in Minsk, NTV reported on 26 June. Some 5,000 workers rallied, demanding wages that had not been paid since April. The factory formerly employed 12,000 workers and produced precision instruments for missiles and submarines. Now it works only four days a week, producing mixers and other appliances, and employs only 5,000. Unsold goods worth 30 billion Belarusian rubles ($1.9 million) lie about the premises. Workers say the only section of the plant that still functions normally is that producing medals, such as the medal of "Mother Heroine" (for women who have multiple children), or the "Medal for Valiant Labor." The spontaneous strike is the first since last August, when organizers of a transport-worker strike were arrested and picketers forcibly broken up by security forces. -- Ustina Markus ALTERNATIVES TO LITHUANIAN POLITICAL PARTIES. The founding congress of a new public organization, Lietuvos Samburis (Gathering of Lithuania), was held in Vilnius on 22 June, Radio Lithuania reported. The congress elected a 27-member council including independent Seimas deputies Kazimieras Antanavicius and Antanas Baskas. The main address at the congress was given by Valdas Adamkus, a U.S. Environmental Protection Agency official whom polls indicate is among the leading presidential candidates in Lithuania. Seimas deputy Julius Veselka announced on 25 June that another new group, Rinkimai '96 (Elections '96), will hold its founding congress on 6 July. Both groups present themselves as alternatives to the leftist ruling party and the conservative opposition. While not planning to compete in party-list voting, both groups intend to run candidates for the 71 single-mandate seats in this fall's parliamentary elections. -- Saulius Girnius SOLIDARITY CONGRESS MEETS IN POZNAN. Some 400 delegates started a three- day discussion of Solidarity's strategy and political alliances for the 1997 parliamentary elections at the trade union's eighth national congress in Poznan on 26 June. A recent Public Opinion Research Center poll showed Solidarity with 14% of voters' support, while the co-ruling Democratic Left Alliance has 18%, former Prime Minister Jan Olszewski's new party Movement for Poland's Reconstruction (ROP) has 16%, the co- ruling Polish Peasant Party 14%, the Freedom Union 11%, and the Labor Union 4%. Former President Lech Walesa, also the former Solidarity chairman, is attending the congress, but no other politicians were invited. The ROP signed an agreement on 26 June on collaboration with Rural Solidarity and has asked the Solidarity trade union to join on. -- Jakub Karpinski UKRAINIAN PRESIDENT IN THE POLISH PARLIAMENT. Quoting Polish interwar leader Jozef Pilsudski, Leonid Kuchma told the Polish parliament on 26 June that there is no independent Poland without an independent Ukraine, Polish dailies reported. Wrapping up a two-day visit in Warsaw, Kuchma did not rule out expansion of NATO to former East Bloc countries but said the security of all countries had to be considered. Kuchma asked Warsaw for its support in admitting Ukraine into the Central European Free Trade Agreement, and proposed Kyiv be admitted to the Weimar Triangle, a special understanding between Poland, Germany, and France. His Polish hosts proposed granting Ukraine $25 million in credits to stimulate its economy. On 25 June, Kuchma and Polish President Aleksander Kwasniewski signed a joint declaration on forming a "strategic partnership" and signed accords on visa-free traffic and the return of cultural treasures "lost and illegally moved during World War II." -- Jakub Karpinski CZECH RULING COALITION AGREED ON. The Civic Democratic Party (ODS) of Vaclav Klaus, the Civic Democratic Alliance (ODA) of Jan Kalvoda, and the Christian Democratic Union (KDU) of Josef Lux on 26 June reached an agreement on the division of posts in a new minority government and the text of their coalition agreement, Czech media reported. The future government, led by Klaus, will have 16 members; the ODS will hold 8 portfolios, including the finance, foreign affairs, and internal affairs ministries. The KDU will get, among others, defense and regional development ministries, while the ODA will be responsible for justice, trade and industry. The coalition agreement is to be officially signed on 27 June. -- Jiri Pehe SLOVAK POLICE CONFISCATE PASSPORT OF PRESIDENT'S SON. Border police seized Michal Kovac Jr.'s passport as he attempted to travel to Munich via Austria on 26 June, Slovak media reported. Kovac Jr. intended to testify in Germany concerning the $2.3 million fraud case involving the Slovak trade firm Technopol. His passport was confiscated on the orders of an investigator at the Bratislava City Office of Investigation. Although fraud charges were brought against Kovac Jr. in Slovakia in December, Sme reported on 20 June that his passport was not blocked until 6 June, after he announced his intention to travel to Germany. Kovac Jr.'s lawyer, Jan Havlat, had the German arrest warrant suspended until 20 July so that his client can go to Germany; however, it now seems unlikely that Kovac Jr. will be able to travel by that date. Kovac Jr. said the police action shows that the authorities do not want the case resolved. -- Sharon Fisher HUNGARY'S INTEGRATION COMMITTEE ANGRY OVER EU QUESTIONNAIRE SECRECY. Members of the Hungarian parliament's European Integration Committee are complaining about secrecy surrounding the government's responses to the EU's questionnaire on potential membership, Hungarian dailies reported on 27 June. Foreign Ministry State Secretary Ferenc Somogyi--who has been coordinating the work in the respective ministries--said on 26 June that parliamentary deputies will only be able to see the finalized version of the EU questionnaire responses and that Integration Committee members would be given only a verbal briefing by the prime minister. The forms are due to Brussels by 26 July. The various bodies involved in coordinating Hungary's EU integration have been battling over turf for the past year. -- Zsofia Szilagyi SOROS: HUNGARIAN INTERNET CENTER PROMOTES OPEN SOCIETY. A new Internet and computer-arts center set up by his foundation in Hungary will promote the free flow of ideas and information in post-communist Eastern Europe, Hungarian-born U.S. financier George Soros said on 26 June. The center will "facilitate a horizontal, non-hierarchical network of communication which fits in with our concept of an open society," Soros told Reuters at the opening of the Center for Culture & Communications. The equipment, including advanced computer-imaging equipment and 14 Internet terminals, is valued at $1.5 million. Soros is a leading advocate of communications technology as a means of promoting democracy. In May he announced a five-year, $100 million program to install Internet connections at universities across Russia. -- Zsofia Szilagyi SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE U.S. SAYS ISLAMIC FIGHTERS ARE GONE FROM BOSNIA. Bosnia-Herzegovina has ended its "military and intelligence relationship" with Iran and there are no "organized" foreign fighters left on government-controlled territory, the White House announced on 26 June. This opens the way for a $70 million American program to train and equip the mainly Muslim and Croatian armed forces. The statement was issued in Lyon, France, in conjunction with the G-7 conference there, news agencies reported. National Security Council spokesman Brian Cullin said some former Iranian fighters remain "in civilian roles, but we see no evidence of any remaining organized mujahedin units, nor do we believe that any of the individuals remaining are engaged in military or intelligence activity." Lingering Iranians were a point of contention between Washington and Sarajevo, which had agreed that all foreign fighters were to leave Bosnia by January. -- Patrick Moore BOUTROS GHALI BLASTS SEPARATISM IN BOSNIA. The UN has issued a report under the name of its secretary general charging the Bosnian Serbs with consolidating and continuing ethnic cleansing, Reuters and AFP reported on 26 June. The study cites the resettling of Serbs from Sarajevo suburbs in the Brcko area of northern Bosnia, the fate of which is to be determined by international arbitration later this year. Boutros Boutros Ghali concluded that "it appears that the Republika Srpska remains active in its efforts aimed at separation, as publicly declared by its present leadership and reflected by events on the ground." The report added that UN efforts to improve police work throughout Bosnia- Herzegovina will be meaningless if local police continue "to discriminate against, harass, and intimidate citizens who are not of their own ethnicity." He also condemned Croatia for the killing of Krajina Serbs and the pillaging of their property. -- Patrick Moore WAR CRIMES TRIBUNAL TO HEAR CASE AGAINST KARADZIC, MLADIC. The International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia was to begin hearing testimony against Bosnian Serb leaders Radovan Karadzic and Gen. Ratko Mladic on 27 June, AFP reported. The hearing is not a trial in absentia, and is based on the tribunal's Rule 61, drawn up specifically to deal with cases in which the accused is hiding behind a state's refusal to hand him over. Two lists of charges have been drawn up for each of the two accused. The first concerns the war in Bosnia in general, and the other concerns the "direct responsibility" of Karadzic and Mladic in the killings that followed the fall of Srebrenica. At the end of the hearings, the tribunal is expected to issue an international arrest warrant for the two accused. -- Daria Sito Sucic KARADZIC MAKES HIS STEPPING DOWN CONDITIONAL ON RS STATUS. Unconfirmed sources from the Republika Srpska (RS) say that Radovan Karadzic has already signed his resignation from the post of RS president, but made it conditional on the RS having a "minimum status as a state" enjoying full sovereignty within Bosnia-Herzegovina, Nasa Borba reported on 27 June. However, Bosnian Serb Prime Minister Gojko Klickovic said on 26 June that Karadzic will not run in September elections, but will stay on as president until elections are held, AFP reported. After the vote, Karadzic will remain only as "president of the Serbian Democratic Party," Nasa Borba quoted Klickovic as saying. -- Daria Sito Sucic MONTENEGRIN PRESIDENT ON BOSNIAN SERB AFFAIRS. Momir Bulatovic went on record saying that Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic "may not officially and legally enter Montenegro," Nasa Borba reported. When told at a 26 June press conference that "some months ago Karadzic was not apprehended during 'a walkabout of Montenegro,'" Bulatovic said he had no "official information" about Karadzic's "sojourns in these parts." Bulatovic described Karadzic as "a very well-protected man ... his house is guarded by some 500 heavily armed men." He added that he did not believe the Republika Srpska would collapse if Mladic and Karadzic were to give up politics and, according to 26 June Montena-fax reports, felt "that not even the international community insists on [Karadzic] being sent to The Hague, but only on his removal from political life." -- Stan Markotich SLOVENIA BECOMES ASSOCIATE WEU MEMBER. Slovenia has become the tenth country to gain associate partner status in the Western European Union (WEU), the defense structure of the European Union, local Slovenian media reported on 25 June. Full WEU membership is contingent on EU membership. Prime Minister Janez Drnovsek signed an agreement on Slovenia's EU associate member status on 10 June. -- Stan Markotich MACEDONIAN PARLIAMENTARY COMMISSION PROPOSES NEW MEDIA HEAD. The parliamentary commission in charge of nominations and appointments to state posts proposed on 26 June that Macedonian Radio and Television (MRT) Director General Melpomeni Korneti be dismissed and Slobodan Trajkovski be appointed in her place, Nova Makedonija reported. The ruling Social Democratic Union of Macedonia (SDSM) officially blamed Korneti for failing to present a report on MRT's 1995 activities, but the real reason appears to be her affiliation with the Liberal Party (see OMRI Daily Digest, 25 June 1996). The SDSM's Nako Stojanovski asked whether in any other state the member of a party that had left the government and joined the opposition would stay on. Liberal deputies defended Korneti, who they argued built up a functioning state media despite the lack of a legal framework. -- Stefan Krause ROMANIAN GOVERNMENT AGAINST JEHOVAH'S WITNESSES CONGRESS. An international congress of Jehovah's Witnesses scheduled to take place in Bucharest on 19-21 July has aroused a storm of protests in Romania, Radio Bucharest and Western media reported on 25 and 26 June. The government's General Secretariat declared on 25 June that it considers "thoroughly inopportune the attempt to improvise such a meeting in Bucharest in July or at any time in the future." The announcement came in response to a strongly worded communique issued by Patriarch Teoctist of the Romanian Orthodox Church on 21 June. Teoctist expressed concern over the planned meeting and accused the sect of "irresponsibly contributing to growing violence and hatred in the world." Romanian students announced that they would stage a demonstration in downtown Bucharest on 31 June to protest what they described as the "satanic congress." -- Dan Ionescu MOLDOVAN PARLIAMENT SETS PRESIDENTIAL ELECTIONS DAY. The parliament formally selected 17 November as the date for this year's presidential elections, Infotag reported on 26 June. The election campaign will officially start on 17 August, three months before the vote. If no candidate receives a majority of the votes, a run-off between the two best-placed rivals will be staged on 1 December. Meanwhile, Nicolae Andronic, deputy chairman of the Party for Revival and Conciliation in Moldova (PRCM), announced that the party's council had nominated the incumbent President and PRCM Chairman Mircea Snegur as its candidate in the elections. A formal announcement will be made at the PRCM's second national congress on 13 July. -- Dan Ionescu BULGARIA WANTS CLARIFICATION FROM GREECE ON POMAKS. The Bulgarian Foreign Ministry on 26 June said it had asked the Greek government to clarify its position on the status of the 35,000 Bulgarian-speaking Muslims of Western Thrace, Reuters reported. Bulgarian Foreign Minister Georgi Pirinski called in Greek Ambassador Anastasios Sideris and demanded an "unequivocal statement" on the matter. Bulgaria regards the Muslim Pomaks, who live on both sides of the common border, as ethnic Bulgarians. Greek media in recent months suggested Athens would like to treat the Pomaks as a separate community, apart from the region's ethnic Turks. Some Greek politicians suggested that this would not include tuition in Bulgarian, but textbooks, dictionaries, and grammars of the "Pomak language." They made it clear that this move is aimed against Turkey, which wants to exert influence over Greece's Muslim minorities. -- Stefan Krause COUNCIL OF EUROPE CALLS FOR ALBANIAN ROUND TABLE. The Council of Europe Parliamentary Assembly on 26 June called for roundtable talks between all Albanian political groups, Reuters reported. The assembly issued a resolution assigning responsibility for election irregularities on 26 May to both the opposition and the government. The resolution did not explicitly demand new elections but said the credibility of democratic procedures in Albania has been shaken and a new ballot should be planned after new legislation is enacted. The resolution said "free and fair elections ... are an essential condition for Council of Europe membership," implying that failure to comply may lead to suspension. The assembly added that it would send its own delegation to Tirana to investigate fraud allegations. Meanwhile, the opposition has called for a protest rally in Tirana on 28 June, Gazeta Shqiptare reported. -- 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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