|The fool wonders, the wise man asks. - Benjamin Disraeli|
No. 127, Part II, 1 July 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 UPDATE ON UKRAINE'S NEW CONSTITUTION. Crimean parliamentary speaker Yevhen Suprynyuk said the new Ukrainian constitution, which passed last week, was not ideal but rather a compromise between all sides, Ukrainian Radio reported on 29 June. He added that he was pleased that it defines Crimea's status as that of an autonomous republic, which, he noted, allows the peninsula to work out its own constitution in accordance with the new Ukrainian basic law. Some 20 articles in Crimea's draft constitution have to be reworked to harmonize with the new national constitution. Meanwhile, Black Sea Fleet personnel have expressed pleasure at the clause allowing for a transitional period during which Russian fleet bases can be stationed in Crimea, Ukrainian TV reported on 30 June. They described the clause as an expression of good-will on Ukraine's part aimed at establishing good-neighborly relations with Russia. Fleet personnel added that it will facilitate a settlement of the ongoing dispute between Russia and Ukraine over the fleet. -- Ustina Markus UKRAINIAN ECONOMY SHOWS FEW SIGNS OF IMPROVEMENT. Prime Minister Pavlo Lazarenko on 29 June announced that there has been almost no improvement in Ukraine's economic situation over the past month, UNIAN reported. He said a key problem was increasing wage arrears, which on 1 June amounted to 81 trillion karbovantsy ($444 million) in the state sector. By 28 June, this figure had risen to 86 trillion ($472 million). Lazearenko said the government was using 80% of external and internal revenues to clear the wage debt. -- Ustina Markus BELARUSIAN PARLIAMENT CONFIRMS SOVIET-STYLE NATIONAL SYMBOLS. The Belarusian parliament has ruled that the national flag and emblem adopted in 1991 are no longer valid state symbols, Radio Rossii reported on 28 June. This decision is in accordance with the May 1995 referendum, in which 75% of voters were in favor of changing the state symbols to Soviet-style ones. The new official Belarusian national flag is red and green with an embroidered border but without the hammer and sickle. The national emblem is also a replica of the Soviet emblem but replaces the hammer and sickle with an outline of Belarus. -- Ustina Markus BELARUSIAN ECONOMIC NEWS. Belarusian Radio on 28 June reported that Belarus has the highest per capita agricultural output of all CIS states, producing 722 kilograms of grain, 398 kilograms of potatoes, and 571 kilograms of milk per head. At the beginning of the year, around half a million people were involved in private business. But 27 banks were found not to have sufficient capital and only 26 financial establishments had the minimal charter capital of 2 million ECU. Only 20% of young families have their own homes, and it is estimated that by the end of the year, some 15% of Minsk's work-eligible population will be unemployed. More than 90% of property remains in state hands. -- Ustina Markus ESTONIA, LATVIA INITIAL SEA BORDER AGREEMENT. Estonian Foreign Ministry Vice Chancellor Raul Malk and Latvian Foreign Ministry State Secretary Maris Riekstins initialed an agreement on sea borders at their meeting in Stockholm on 28 June, ETA reported. The accord still has to be signed by the respective governments and approved by a majority of Latvia's Saeima and two-thirds of Estonia's deputies. Sweden hosted seven secret meetings of Latvian and Estonian officials during which the details of the agreement were worked out. -- Saulius Girnius LATVIA PLANS TO HAVE BALANCED BUDGET IN 1997. Finance Minister Aivars Kreituss told BNS on 29 June that next year, Latvia will draft a balanced budget for the first time. The draft will be based on the assumption that inflation will be 15.9% in 1996 and 13% in 1997 and that GDP will increase by 0.3% and 1.2%, respectively. Kreituss also noted that while the 1996 budget foresees a deficit totaling 59.4 million lati ($107 million), the government will seek to reduce it to 38.9 million lati in accordance with an IMF recommendation. He added that on 26 June, the budget deficit stood at 27.3 million lati. -- Saulius Girnius LITHUANIA, AUSTRIA SIGN AGREEMENTS. Lithuanian Foreign Minister Povilas Gylys and Austrian Vice Chancellor and Foreign Minister Wolfgang Schuessel, meeting in Vienna on 28 June, signed a bilateral treaty on investment promotion and protection as well as an aviation accord initialed in 1992. They also put their signature to an agreement on the abolition of visas for people with diplomatic passports, BNS reported. During his two-day visit, Gylys met with National Council President Heinz Fischer to discuss prospects for cooperation in EU integration. -- Saulius Girnius SOLIDARITY HOLDS NATIONAL CONGRESS. Solidarity's Eighth National Congress, which ended on 28 June, decided that the union will run in next year's parliamentary elections, Polish media reported. Last month, Solidarity and several rightist parties formed a coalition called Solidarity Electoral Action. The union asked all organizations that agree with its program to join the coalition. This invitation is targeted in particular at the Movement for Poland's Reconstruction, led by former Prime Minister Jan Olszewski, which has placed second--after the co-ruling Democratic Left Alliance--in recent opinion polls. Solidarity also proposed a "non-aggression pact" with other parties, singling out the Polish Peasant Alliance, a junior coalition partner in the ruling coalition, and the opposition Freedom Union. Former Solidarity leader and Polish President Lech Walesa was present at the congress but was not invited to speak. -- Jakub Karpinski POLISH SOCIAL DEMOCRATS DISCUSS NEW PROGRAM. Izabella Sierakowska, vice president of the Social Democracy of the Republic of Poland, told the SdRP Supreme Council on 29 June that the party must have more "social sensitivity," Polish media reported. The SdRP has been a ruling coalition party since the 1993 parliamentary elections. The party stressed that it is in favor of a parliamentary democracy, Church-state separation, a market economy "oriented toward the fulfillment of social needs," privatization, and joining NATO and the EU. A program based on these principles could be adopted at the SdRP congress scheduled next year, according to the media. -- Jakub Karpinski CZECH PRESIDENT IN IRELAND, ENGLAND. Vaclav Havel, arriving in Ireland on 28 June for an official visit, met with President Mary Robinson and other Irish officials to discuss, among other things, European integration, Czech media reported. He also discussed the role of the UN with Robinson, who has been proposed to head the organization. On the way back to Prague, Havel stopped off in London to watch the finals of the European Soccer Championship, in which the Czech team lost to Germany by 2:1. He met briefly with Queen Elizabeth II, British Prime Minister John Major, and German Chancellor Helmut Kohl, all of whom also attended the match. -- Jiri Pehe SLOVAK COALITION CRISIS RESOLVED. Prime Minister Vladimir Meciar announced that at talks on 28 June, the leaders of the three ruling parties agreed that the composition of the boards overseeing the National Property Fund (FNM) will not be changed at the parliamentary session scheduled to continue on 1 July, Slovak media reported. Meciar said the governing coalition will now remain in place. It is uncertain whether the FNM, the secret service, and the TV and radio boards will ever be expanded to include opposition representatives. The opposition said an opportunity had been lost, blaming the Party of the Democratic Left (SDL), which broke an opposition agreement on the expansion of the boards overseeing the FNM and the secret service and offered to back a minority government led by Meciar's Movement for a Democratic Slovakia under certain conditions. Meanwhile, the SDL took credit for averting the fall of Meciar's government and ensuring that the premier takes responsibility for his policies. -- Sharon Fisher HUNGARY'S SOCIALISTS WANT TO POSTPONE FINAL VOTE ON NEW CONSTITUTION. The Hungarian Socialist Party (MSZP) has suggested that the final vote on the new constitution be postponed until September, Hungarian dailies reported on 1 July. While the coalition Alliance of Free Democrats (SZDSZ) and the opposition both supported the much-discussed draft constitution in the ballot on 27 June (see OMRI Daily Digest, 28 June 1996) several MSZP deputies voted against it, despite having signed an all-party agreement in favor of the draft basic law. The vote, which SZDSZ leader Ivan Peto described as a "scandalous fiasco," came as a surprise, since the governing parties seemed to agree on basic principles. Opponents of the draft constitution, among whom are several ministers, want references to a "social state" to be included, as well as a provision stipulating that the president be elected directly. They also want to ensure "interest coordination" among the governing parties. -- Zsofia Szilagyi HUNGARIAN INCOME TAX RATES TO BE LOWERED NEXT YEAR. The government has proposed to lower the top rate of personal income tax from the record- high of 48% to 44%, Hungarian media reported on 1 July. It also intends to implement further reform measures in the tax system in 1997, including increasing capital gains payments and introducing a new tax on tobacco, alcohol, and oil products. The proposal is scheduled to be debated by the parliament in August. -- Zsofia Szilagyi SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE KARADZIC'S SLEIGHT OF HAND... Bosnian Serb civilian leader and indicted war criminal Radovan Karadzic on 30 June announced he will delegate all his powers as president of the Republika Srpska (RS) to his hard-line vice president, Biljana Plavsic. He will continue to retain the title of president, the chair of his governing Serbian Democratic Party (SDS), and the option of running in the 14 September Bosnia-wide elections, the BBC reported. The move comes in connection with the SDS's election convention and following threats by representatives of the international community and Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic that Karadzic must go or the republic will face renewed sanctions (see OMRI Daily Digest, 26 June 1996). The Dayton agreement states that there is no place in public life for war criminals. Karadzic had earlier delegated some of his duties to Plavsic, and recently made any resignation conditional on political and territorial concessions to the Republika Srpska. -- Patrick Moore ...AND THE WEST'S RESPONSE. The major Western allies found Karadzic's conditions unacceptable last week, and it appears that his latest move has not impressed them, either. White House spokesman David Johnson said on 30 June that "Our policy on him remains what we have said in the past: that he needs to be not only out of power but he needs to be out of influence, out of town and in the dock." Reuters also reported that Germany, France, and the U.K. agreed with the U.S. but that Johnson admitted that there has been "some confusion" regarding the Western reaction in general. This stemmed from the initial position taken by some international representatives dealing with Bosnia, such as High Representative Carl Bildt, who seemed to be content with Karadzic's move as "a step in the right direction." The BBC added that the Bosnian government denounced Karadzic's announcement as a sham but that entire affair has served to boost Karadzic's popularity with the Bosnian Serbs. -- Patrick Moore EU SAYS MOSTAR ELECTIONS WERE SUCCESSFUL. EU Administrator Ricardo Perez Casado said the Mostar municipal elections on 30 June were well organized and a significant step toward the re-establishment of structures that will enable "political and social coexistence" in the city, international media reported. No significant disruptions were noted during the ballot. While Bosnian Prime Minister Hasan Muratovic complained that 20% of Muslim names did not appear on the polling stations' registers, an EU spokesman claimed that only some 400 people's names were omitted, even though they were registered centrally. Muratovic called for new elections in some districts. Voter turnout was put at more than 50%, with over 3,000 international troops and hundreds of Bosnian Muslim and Croatian and international police ensuring freedom of movement in the city. Thousands of refugees from Mostar voted in Stockholm, Bonn, Bern, and Oslo. The EU organized bus transfers to these polling stations from other European cities. Final results are expected on 3 June. -- Fabian Schmidt MONTENEGRIN PRESIDENT RENEWS CALL FOR KARADZIC'S REMOVAL. Momir Bulatovic, in an interview with RFE/RL on 28 June, has once again called for Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic to step down from the presidency of the Republika Srpska. He noted that Karadzic has "refused to meet [conditions] he has already agreed to." But when asked whether rump Yugoslavia would send to The Hague the three Yugoslav army officers accused of involvement in the massacre of at least 260 Croatian civilians near Vukovar in 1991, he said that question was "too sensitive to answer with just a 'yes' or a 'no.'" Bulatovic also said he believed that the Yugoslav United Left's (JUL) electoral prospects were bleak and that the group "has no chance in Montenegro." -- Stan Markotich MACEDONIAN PRESIDENT ENDS VISIT TO TURKEY. Kiro Gligorov on 30 June concluded a four-day official visit to Turkey, Macedonian and international media reported. Gligorov held talks with his Turkish counterpart, Suleyman Demirel, on strengthening bilateral ties. Other discussions focused on improving bilateral economic and trade relations as well as Turkish investment in Macedonia. Bilateral trade reached $126 million in 1995, a 60% increase over 1994. In an address at Istanbul University on 29 June, Gligorov called for open borders in the Balkans and respect for individual, minority, and religious freedoms, noting that the improvement of norms for democracy and social justice must be a common objective. Meanwhile, the Macedonian Komercijalna Banka and the Turkish Ziraat Bank signed a protocol on the creation of a Turkish- Macedonian bank. -- Stefan Krause CHINESE PRESIDENT IN ROMANIA. Jiang Zemin on 29 June began a four-day state visit to Romania aimed at boosting bilateral relations, local and Western media reported. Jiang, currently on a one-month tour of Europe and Central Asia, is accompanied by more than 90 officials and experts, including Foreign Minster Qian Qichen. He met with his Romanian counterpart, Ion Iliescu, Prime Minister Nicolae Vacaroiu, and the chairmen of the parliament's two chambers, Oliviu Gherman and Adrian Nastase. The two countries are expected to sign agreements on economic, technical, and scientific cooperation. They concluded a treaty of friendship in 1994. Before the collapse of the communist regime in Romania in 1989, annual bilateral trade amounted to an average of $1 billion; by 1995, that figure had sunk to $300 million. -- Dan Ionescu BREAKTHROUGH IN MOLDOVAN-DNIESTER NEGOTIATIONS. Moldovan and Dniester officials, meeting in Chisinau on 28 June, initialed the final version of a memorandum "On the Basic Principles for Normalizing Moldovan- Dniester Relations," BASA-press and Infotag reported. Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Boris Pastukhov attended the talks, which were brokered by envoys of the Russian and Ukrainian presidents as well as OSCE representatives. He was quoted as saying that the document was "a constructive step toward a final, full-fledged settlement of the Dniester conflict." According to ITAR-TASS, Boris Yeltsin has invited Moldovan President Mircea Snegur, president of the self-styled "Dniester republic" Igor Smirnov, and Ukrainian President Leonid Kuchma to attend the signing ceremony at the Kremlin on 1 July. -- Dan Ionescu BULGARIAN UPDATE. Dimitar Moskov, head of the Bulgarian economic police force, has revealed that the state lost 17.9 billion leva ($115 million) in the first five months of 1996 because of white-collar crime, according to Standart. Moskov said 4,344 cases of white-collar crime were registered during that period, up 300% on the same period last year. Moskov said nobody knows just how widespread corruption is within the state apparatus, but he admitted that it takes place at all levels. In other news, prices for fuel, cigarettes, alcohol, public transport, and other goods and services went up on 1 July, Trud reported. A number of taxes, including VAT, also increased. Bulgarian economists predict that inflation will go up in July, possibly reaching 20%. -- Stefan Krause ALBANIA'S SOCIALIST PARTY BOYCOTTS ROUND-TABLE. Albanian Socialists on 29 June boycotted a round table that President Sali Berisha had invited them to attend, Reuters reported. Only parties represented in the new parliament were invited to the talks. The Socialists said they would only take part if all parties were represented. They also explained that Berisha had wanted to discuss only the formation of a new government, whereas they had demanded that new election regulations be included on the agenda. The Council of Europe has called for new regulations to be drawn up following an outcry over massive ballot irregularities. Meanwhile, the new parliament is due to convene on 1 July to elect a new government. -- Fabian Schmidt [As of 12:00 CET] Compiled by Jan Cleave ------------------------------------------------------------------------ Copyright (c) 1996 Open Media Research Institute, Inc. All rights reserved. ISSN 1211-1570 ------------------------------------------------------------------------ SUBSCRIBING/UNSUBSCRIBING 1) Compose a message to LISTSERV@UBVM.CC.BUFFALO.EDU 2) To subscribe, write: SUBSCRIBE OMRI-L FirstName LastName (include your own name) To unsubscribe, write: UNSUBSCRIBE OMRI-L 3) Send the message REPRINT POLICY To receive a copy of OMRI's reprint policy, contact OMRIPUB@OMRI.CZ or see the Web page at http://www.omri.cz/Publications/Digests/DigestReprint.html OTHER OMRI PUBLICATIONS TRANSITION OMRI publishes the biweekly journal TRANSITION, which contains expanded analysis of many of the topics in the Daily Digest. 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