|One must learn by doing the thing; though you think you know it, you have no certainty until you try. - Sophocles|
No. 126, Part II, 28 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 PASSES CONSTITUTION. Ukraine's parliament voted 315 to 36 in favor of a new constitution on 28 June, international agencies reported. The vote was taken after a 23 hour, all-night session. President Leonid Kuchma said the vote automatically cancelled his decree on a September referendum over the document which he had passed two days earlier. Kuchma apologized for calling the plebiscite, saying it was "not an entirely correct way to prompt approval for the constitution." The new constitution provides for a powerful presidency and a single chamber parliament. -- Ustina Markus UKRAINE WANTS MORE THAN PARTNERSHIP FOR PEACE. Kyiv wants an agreement with NATO that goes beyond the Partnership for Peace program, Ukraine's Ambassador to Brussels and Special Envoy to NATO Borys Tarasyuk told RFE/RL on 27 June. President Leonid Kuchma and Foreign Minister Hennadii Udovenko also recently said they want a special relationship with the alliance. In the run-up to Russian presidential elections, Moscow has not officially reacted to the statements. Kommersant-Daily pointed out that the recent vote to ban the stationing of foreign troops on Ukraine's territory would complicate Ukraine's relationship with NATO and deprive Ukraine of income, since sites in Lviv and Mykolaiv oblasts could not be used in NATO Partnership for Peace Programs. However, Kyiv could get around this complication by defining "stationing" to not include hosting short-duration military exercises. -- Ustina Markus UKRAINIAN-IRANIAN-TURKMEN MEETING IN UKRAINE. A meeting between representatives of Ukraine, Iran, and Turkmenistan over trade and economic issues took place on 27 June in Kyiv, Ukrainian radio reported. The session was attended by Ukrainian President Leonid Kuchma, Foreign Minister Hennadii Udovenko, and his Iranian and Turkmen counterparts, Ali Akbar Velyatti and Boris Shakhuradov. Talks focused on natural gas supplies, Ukraine's debt to Turkmenistan, Ukraine's machinery exports to Iran and Turkmenistan, and the maintenance and repair of gas pipelines and oil facilities. Several agreements were signed on trilateral cooperation, cooperation in investment, and an agreement between the national banks of the three countries. Shakhuradov said the agreements were not any type of integration process, and any country could join the cooperation trio as long as it was mutually beneficial for all involved. -- Ustina Markus BELARUSIAN PARLIAMENT PASSES LAW ON PROPERTY. The Belarusian parliament adopted a law on property ownership on 26 June, Belarusian television reported. The law was passed in its second reading after lengthy debates. The communists and other left-wing factions compromised and accepted articles allowing leases of private property and property inheritance. Other details were not reported. -- Ustina Markus BALTIC PRESIDENTS GET U.S. SUPPORT FOR NATO MEMBERSHIP. U.S. Defense Secretary William Perry told Presidents Lennart Meri (Estonia), Guntis Ulmanis (Latvia), and Algirdas Brazauskas (Lithuania) on 26 June that the U.S. plans to increase cooperation with their countries in defense and thus promote their membership in NATO, BNS reported. The presidents later held talks with House Speaker Newt Gingrich, Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott, and other Republicans who expressed support for their countries' accession to NATO. -- Saulius Girnius ESTONIA TO INTRODUCE MINIMUM PRICES FOR IMPORTED FARM GOODS. Prime Minister Tiit Vahi has instructed the Agriculture Ministry to prepare decrees introducing minimum prices on farming products from 1 August, BNS reported on 28 January. Vahi added that Estonia should not be afraid to follow Latvia's example by requiring an EU certificate for imported beef and pork and introducing certification of imported foods. In the same 27 June vote that enabled the government action, the parliament instructed the government to establish rules setting the minimum taxable value of imported second-hand motor vehicles. -- Saulius Girnius LITHUANIA RAISES ELECTORAL BARRIER FOR PARLIAMENT ELECTIONS. The Seimas voted adopted a new Parliamentary Election Law on 27 June raising the minimum share of votes needed to win seats in party-list voting from 4% to 5%, and to 7% for coalitions, BNS reported. A lower barrier for national-minority parties was also abolished. Also, a rating system was introduced enabling voters to express a positive or negative opinion on each candidate in a party list. These ratings will be weighed by the Chief Electoral Commission against the rankings submitted by the parties to determine which candidates gain seats in parliament. Out of 141 Seimas seats, 70 are distributed in party-list voting. -- Saulius Girnius POLAND INVITED TO JOIN OECD. Poland has been invited to join the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), the Paris- based OECD announced on 27 June. Poland will be the OECD's 28th member and the third Central European country after Hungary and the Czech Republic. Its accession agreement would be signed in Paris on 11 July. -- Jakub Karpinski POLISH PRIVATIZATION MINISTER SURVIVES A NO-CONFIDENCE VOTE. The Sejm on 28 June rejected a no-confidence motion against Wieslaw Kaczmarek, accused of intentionally neglecting opportunities to save the Gdansk shipyard, where the Solidarity trade union was born in 1980s. The motion against the privatization minister, a member of the ex-communist Democratic Left Alliance, was brought by a group of deputies including some from the co-ruling Polish Peasant Party (PSL). The embattled privatization minister was supported by a vote of 187 to 124 with 95 abstentions. It was the third no-confidence vote on Kaczmarek since he took office in the fall of 1993. -- Jakub Karpinski HUNGARIAN PRESIDENT CANCELS VISIT TO POLAND. Hungarian President Arpad Goncz has canceled a planned 28 June visit to Poland at which Goncz intended to commemorate the 40th anniversary of the 1956 anti-communist uprising in Poznan. Goncz's spokesman said the Hungarian president decided to postpone the trip because of political tensions in Poland; at least three opposition groups planned to protest Polish President Aleksander Kwasniewski's presence at the ceremonies. But his spokesman said Kwasniewski also will not attend the ceremonies, Polish dailies reported on 28 June. Kwasniewski was a minister in communist governments before 1989. -- Jakub Karpinski CZECH OPPOSITION LEADER ELECTED PARLIAMENT CHAIRMAN. Social Democratic leader Milos Zeman was elected chairman of the Czech parliament's lower chamber on 27 June, Czech media reported. Zeman's election was part of a deal under which, in return for Zeman's election, the Social Democratic Party (CSSD) will support a minority government formed by three right- of-center parties (the Civic Democratic Party, the Civic Democratic Alliance, and the Christian Democrats) and led by Vaclav Klaus. Also on 27 June, the three parties officially signed a coalition agreement that appears to have incorporated many of the CSSD's policy demands. -- Jiri Pehe SLOVAK POLITICAL NEGOTIATIONS CONTINUE. Amidst an ongoing coalition crisis, the ruling Movement for a Democratic Slovakia continued talks with opposition parties, meeting on 27 June with representatives of the Christian Democratic Movement (KDH), Slovak media reported. KDH deputy Frantisek Miklosko called for a change in coalition-opposition relations, giving opposition parties the ability to share all areas of control. The KDH also insisted on the return of all powers taken from the president and demanded the dismissal of Interior Minister Ludovit Hudek and Slovak Information Service director Ivan Lexa. Also on 27 June, Hungarian Civic Party chairman Laszlo Nagy accused Prime Minister Vladimir Meciar of lying when he told the Council of Europe the previous day that Hungarians can use their native language during wedding ceremonies, Sme reported. Nagy pointed out that this is true only in churches, not in state institutions. -- Sharon Fisher UPDATE ON SLOVAK DAILY TAKEOVER. Narodna obroda published a statement by editor-in-chief Tatiana Repkova on 28 June that she remains responsible for the daily and is currently negotiating with the paper's new owners. In an interview with the RFE/RL Slovak Service the previous day, Repkova said she recently handed in her resignation to the paper's publisher, NOFRA, in which the east Slovak steel giant VSZ recently gained a nearly 100% share (see OMRI Daily Digest, 26 June). Interference in her work by NOFRA representatives was the reason for her decision, she said. Several commentators who are critical of the current government have reportedly been dismissed. VSZ reportedly also now owns about half of the most popular private radio station in Slovakia, Fun Radio. After VSZ purchased the opposition east Slovak daily Slovensky vychod last fall, it merged it with the pro-government daily Luc. -- Sharon Fisher AGREED-ON AMENDMENTS TO HUNGARIAN CONSTITUTION DEFEATED. The parliament narrowly rejected proposals for amending the constitution on 27 June, Hungarian media reported. The vote was five short of the necessary two- thirds majority, mainly due to lack of support from the ruling Socialist Party. Opposition Young Democrats deputy Janos Ader accused the Socialists of breaking a six-party agreement concluded eight months ago. Free Democrats (SZDSZ) President Ivan Peto said his party must draw far- reaching conclusions from the Socialists' behavior. Asked by MTI if the SZDSZ's confidence in its senior coalition partner had been shaken, Peto responded: "it would do no good to say no." -- Sharon Fisher SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE UNLESS GRANTED "GUARANTEES," KARADZIC WILL RUN IN ELECTIONS. Unless the Republika Srpska's (RS) international recognition is guaranteed, Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic will run in the forthcoming elections and win, he said at the 27 June session of the Serb Democratic Party's (SDS) steering committee, Nasa Borba reported. The daily also reported that posters of Karadzic as the SDS candidate appeared in the Bosnian Serb stronghold of Pale as a part of the SDS's pre-election campaign. However, U.S. Assistant Secretary of State John Kornblum said in Sarajevo the same day that the U.S. will accept no conditions on Karadzic's resignation. "He must now quickly bow to the pressure of the international community, ... leave office and go to The Hague," AFP quoted him as saying. -- Daria Sito Sucic SERBIAN RADICALS BACK KARADZIC. The Serbian Radical Party (SRS), led by accused war criminal Vojislav Seselj, remains Karadzic's most vocal supporter within rump Yugoslavia. Nasa Borba reported on 28 June that Seselj has almost unconditionally backed a Karadzic run for the Bosnian Serb presidency. According to the daily, Seselj has said that the SRS in the Republika Srpska would "[even] endorse Karadzic and ... withdraw their own candidate." -- Stan Markotich UPDATE ON THE HAGUE HEARINGS ON KARADZIC, MLADIC. Week-long hearings on the cases against Karadzic and his military counterpart Gen. Ratko Mladic, both of whom are charged with genocide and crimes against humanity (see OMRI Daily Digest, 27 June 1996), started on 27 June in The Hague. Karadzic's Belgrade lawyer, Igor Pantelic, appeared before the court and requested to listen to proceedings and be given access to the documents prepared by the prosecutor's office, Nasa Borba reported. The latter request was rejected as contradicting tribunal rules. After the proceedings, Pantelic said he was quitting because he found the court's treatment unfair. Meanwhile, the tribunal's prosecution office presented evidence against the Republika Srpska and rump Yugoslavia for not arresting the two accused despite having had "numerous chances," and called for the tribunal president to officially inform the UN Security Council of the two countries' non-cooperation. -- Daria Sito Sucic WAR CRIMES TRIBUNAL INDICTS RAPE SUSPECTS. Seventeen more people, including nine ethnic Croats accused of taking part in attacks against Muslim settlements and massacres against Muslim civilians and eight ethnic Serbs accused of taking part in mass rapes of Muslim women, have been indicted by the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia, Nasa Borba reported on 28 June. According to various reports, the indicted Serbs took prisoners, some as young as twelve years old, near the southeast Bosnian town of Foca between April 1992 and February 1993, where they were enslaved, beaten, and forced to work in make-shift brothels. The indictments represent the The Hague tribunal's first attempt to deal with rapes as war crimes. -- Stan Markotich BOSNIAN FEDERATION AND REPUBLIKA SRPSKA SIGN PAYMENT SYSTEM AGREE-MENT. Representatives of Bosnia-Herzegovina's two entities signed an agreement on 26 June on connecting their two existing payment systems, Nasa Borba reported. Radio Sarajevo reported that the payment system will use German marks, and will be operational at the beginning of the next week. -- Daria Sito Sucic BOSNIAN SERB GENERAL SEES POSSIBILITY FOR RENEWED FIGHTING. Bosnian Serb Gen. Manojlo Milovanovic, speaking to local radio in Pale on 26 June, did not rule out the possibility for renewed conflicts in Bosnia and Herzegovina. Dubbing the existing peace in the country "unstable," Milovanovic said the Bosnian Serb military's priorities include "maintaining and equipping the army ... [and] the welfare of our soldiers," allegedly because "the very survival of the Republika Srpska depends [on such factors]." The general timed his remarks to coincide with his message for Vidovdan, the 28 June Serb holiday marking the loss to Ottoman invaders in 1389. In an unrelated development, John Kornblum said in Sarajevo on 27 June that the U.S. will not give military aid to the Bosnian Federation until a controversial draft bill uniting the Muslim and Croat armed forces in Bosnia is made law, AFP reported. -- Stan Markotich and Daria Sito Sucic CROATIAN UPDATE. The Justice Ministry has published the names of over 800 ethnic Serbs alleged to have committed war crimes between the time of the rebel Serb uprising in Croatia in 1991 and 1995, AFP reported on 27 June. Cases have been opened against some 299 of those named; the report also observed that the list is not "exhaustive." Those named will be exempted from an amnesty recently offered to rebel Serbs by President Franjo Tudjman. In another development, UN Secretary-General Boutros Boutros Ghali recommended on 27 June that the UN peacekeeping mission in Slavonia be extended until 15 January, Reuters reported. The mandate for the UN Transitional Authority in Eastern Slavonia, headed by U.S. diplomat Jacques Klein, expires on 30 July. -- Stan Markotich ROMANIAN OPPOSITION LEADER LAUNCHES PRESIDENTIAL PROGRAM. The leader of the Democratic Convention of Romania (CDR), Emil Constantinescu, launched his platform on 27 June for the upcoming presidential elections, Radio Bucharest reported. According to Constantinescu, the key ideas of the program are that the next president should be a president for all Romanians, and able to lead the country to a top position among East European states. The president, he added, should be the guarantor of law and order and stay in permanent touch with the government without interfering with its authority. Constantinescu vowed to speed up privatization and encourage both domestic capital and foreign investment. The formal presidential campaign will not begin for another three months. -- Dan Ionescu RUSSIAN, MOLDOVAN PRESIDENTS WANT DNIESTER ACCORD SIGNED SOON. Boris Yeltsin hopes a memorandum on the settlement of the Dniester conflict can be signed in Moscow in early July, a Russian presidential adviser said in Chisinau on 27 June. The foreign-policy adviser, Dmitrii Ryurikov, is accompanying Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Boris Pastukhov on a visit in Moldova, Infotag and BASA-press reported. At a meeting with the two officials, Moldovan President Mircea Snegur stressed the importance of having the accord signed without delay. But he warned that a majority of Moldovans "do not accept confederalization and are against Moldova's [territorial] division." Snegur urged experts to draft a less ambiguous definition of the Dniester region's future legal status. -- Dan Ionescu NEW PRICE HIKES IN BULGARIA. The government on 27 June announced a new round of price hikes effective on 1 July, Trud reported. Fuel prices will go up by 15%, after a 79.5% hike just one month ago. Cigarettes prices are expected to rise by 30%-300%, while alcohol will be subject to an excise duty of up to 50%. A new import tax of 5% also becomes effective on 1 July, as does a VAT hike from 18% to 22%. The new taxes and duties are part of an austerity package worked out in cooperation with the IMF. The fuel-price hike is expected to result in an increase of virtually all other prices. Electricity prices will also go up on 1 July. According to Kontinent, they will at least double. -- Stefan Krause CONTROVERSY OVER APPOINTMENT OF TOP BULGARIAN JUDGES. The Socialist daily Duma blasted President Zhelyu Zhelev's 27 June appointments to two top Bulgarian courts as "scandalous and anti-constitutional." Demokratsiya stressed that Zhelev's appointments of Rumen Yankov to head the Supreme Court of Appeals and Vladislav Stankov to head the Supreme Administrative Court followed the proposal of the Supreme Judicial Council and conforms with the Law on the Judiciary. But Duma called the two appointees "bosses of phantom courts" because neither court has begun to function. Justice Minister Mladen Chervenyakov said the appointments were politically motivated. Yankov and Stankov were appointed to seven-year terms and under present laws cannot be dismissed earlier. According to press reports, the Socialist parliamentary faction will propose a law to invalidate Zhelev's decision. -- Stefan Krause GREECE BRUSHES ASIDE BULGARIAN CONCERNS OVER POMAKS. Replying to a Bulgarian request for clarification of Greece's position on the Bulgarian-speaking Pomaks of Western Thrace (see OMRI Daily Digest, 27 June 1996), the Greek government said on 27 June that its Muslim minorities are free to use any language they choose, Reuters reported. Foreign Ministry spokesman Kostas Bikas said research and publications are free and the government "is not allowed to intervene." He stressed Athens' interest in good relations with Sofia and said "those who attempt to undermine [the relationship] with unsubstantiated rumors or nonexistent issues are catering to other interests and suspect third- party ambitions." But Demokratsiya noted that the Greek Defense Ministry financed the publication of a textbook in the "Pomak language" for the army and that "Pomak" grammars and dictionaries were recently published in Greece. The Bulgarian government regards the Pomaks as ethnic Bulgarians. -- Stefan Krause [As of 12:00 CET] Compiled by Tom Warner ------------------------------------------------------------------------ Copyright (c) 1996 Open Media Research Institute, Inc. All rights reserved. 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