|There is always one moment in childhood when the door opens and lets the future in. - Graham Greene|
No. 128, Part II, 2 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 JAPANESE FOREIGN MINISTER IN UKRAINE. Yukihiko Ikeda, who arrived in Kyiv on 1 July for an official visit, met with his Ukrainian counterpart, Hennadii Udovenko, President Leonid Kuchma, and Prime Minister Pavlo Lazarenko, international agencies reported. Ikeda welcomed Ukraine's commitment to shut down the Chornobyl nuclear power plant and offered $55 million in new credits to Ukraine, some $5 million of which is to be used to develop the country's electronic and telecommunications industry. Excluding this latest offer, Japan has provided Ukraine with around $150 million in credits since it gained independence. -- Ustina Markus BELARUSIAN PRESIDENT PLANS STRICTER ECONOMIC REGIME. Alyaksandr Lukashenka has announced plans to introduce a "strict economic regime" that will primarily affect high-ranking public servants, Belarusian TV reported on 30 June. Lukashenka denied this was a "dictatorial move," saying it was normal in all "economically developed democratic states." Deputies and officials who continue demanding "cars, apartments, and currency for foreign travel" are the prime targets of his proposal. Radio Mayak reported that as of 1 July all Belarusian officials, deputies, and enterprise directors will be able to travel abroad only with the president's consent. -- Ustina Markus BELARUSIAN POLITICAL UPDATE. Lukashenka has signed a decree transforming the parliamentary newspaper Narodnaya hazeta into a closed joint-stock company, Belapan reported on 29 June. The Republic of Belarus will have a 75% controlling share, while the remainder will belong to members of the editorial office's working collective. Mikhail Shymansky has been appointed director-general of the company and editor-in chief of the newspaper. Meanwhile, the Belarusian parliament has passed a draft resolution creating the post of commissioner for human rights, Belarusian Radio reported on 28 June. The previous day, the KGB Collegium met to discuss improving the agency's foreign intelligence activities. -- Ustina Markus ESTONIAN-UKRAINIAN TRADE INCREASES RAPIDLY. Tiit Reiman, head of the foreign trade department of the Estonian Economics Ministry, said trade with Ukraine increased significantly after a free trade agreement went into effect in March, BNS reported on 1 July. Exports to Ukraine in the first five months of 1996 were up 238% on the same period last year, increasing from 232 million krooni ($19 million) to 552 million krooni. Ukraine now accounts for nearly 6% of Estonia's total exports and is its sixth largest export partner. During the same period, imports from Ukraine rose by 229%. Also in the first five months of this year, Estonia's total imports and exports increased by 127% and 116%, respectively. -- Saulius Girnius LATVIAN SECURITY COUNCIL DISCUSSES TRAGIC EVENTS IN ARMY. The Security Council, headed by President Guntis Ulmanis, convened on 1 July to discuss three recent murders in the Latvian armed forces, BNS reported. In separate incidents on 23 June, two soldiers were shot by their comrades after consuming alcohol. Three days later, a Latvian Home Guard officer was found fatally injured by gun shot in his apartment. Ulmanis said the passage of the new law on obligatory armed service must be sped up and military education should be resumed in schools. He said that neither armed forces commander Juris Dalbins nor Defense Minister Andrejs Krastins should resign because problems in the armed forces were linked to the attitude of society and the parliament toward the defense forces. Ulmanis also said that draft proposals on improving discipline in the army and raising the professional level of the officers would be sent to the parliament. -- Saulius Girnius UPDATE ON POLISH-JEWISH RELATIONS. Vandals have overturned and destroyed more than 60 graves at Warsaw's Jewish cemetery, Polish media reported on 2 July. A police spokesman said the police have launched an investigation into the incident, which probably took place on the night of 28 June. The police informed the PAP news agency that the vandalism was likely the result of teenagers practicing karate rather than an anti-Semitic act. Menachem Joskovitz, chief rabbi of the 1,000 or so Jews living in Poland, urged the authorities to take strict measures to prevent such incidents in the future because, he said, they perpetuated the "stereotype of Poles as anti-Semites." Meanwhile, President Aleksander Kwasniewski, meeting with government officials and Jewish community leaders on 1 July, pledged his support for a plan to better preserve the former Auschwitz death camp, now a museum. Kwasniewski will discuss ways to promote ties between Poland and U.S. Jewish groups during his visit to Washington and New York next week. -- Jakub Karpinski CZECH GOVERNMENT RESIGNS. As a formal consequence of the recent parliamentary elections, Prime Minister Vaclav Klaus submitted his government's resignation to President Vaclav Havel on 2 July, CTK reported. Later the same day, he is due to present Havel with a list of 16 ministers in a new minority government formed on the basis of the coalition agreement signed last week by the three parties in the outgoing center-right coalition. In the new cabinet, Klaus's Civic Democratic Party will no longer have a majority of posts. Instead, it will have eight ministers, while the Christian Democratic Union- Czechoslovak People's Party, and the Civic Democratic Alliance, will have four each. The new government is expected to be sworn in this week. -- Steve Kettle SLOVAK COALITION BACK TO NORMAL. At the parliamentary session on 1 July, Slovakia's ruling coalition demonstrated that the internal crisis has been resolved, Slovak media reported. The coalition parties united to remove from the session's agenda motions giving the Supreme Supervisory Office control over the National Property Fund (FNM) and implementing changes in the FNM Presidium. Motions to reconstruct the Slovak TV Board and to fill the second opposition slot on the board overseeing the secret service were also rejected. None of those motions will be discussed before September, the coalition said. Meanwhile, the parliament expanded its agenda to include discussion of the controversial territorial administration bill, which was vetoed by the president in April. It also passed a resolution asking authorities in the southern town of Velke Kapusany to abandon plans to build a monument commemorating the 1,100 anniversary of Hungarian settlement of the region. -- Sharon Fisher EU CRITICIZES SLOVAKIA AGAIN. Two senior EU officials visiting Bratislava on 1 July warned that Slovakia's political reputation does not correspond to its economic realities, Narodna obroda and CTK reported. German State Minister of Foreign Affairs Werner Hoyer and French European Affairs Minister Michel Barnier said their visit--the first French-German mission of its kind--represented coordinated activity of the countries that are the "motors of European integration." Barnier stressed that key EU values include democratic culture and peaceful relations among member states. Hoyer said the draft penal code amendment on the protection of the republic, the recently passed law on foundations, legislation regulating minority rights, and the parliamentary majority's treatment of the opposition "have provoked certain emotions in the EU." -- Sharon Fisher IMF DELEGATION CONCLUDES TWO-WEEK VISIT TO HUNGARY. The IMF delegation to Hungary told Finance Ministry officials on 1 July that Hungary's macroeconomic progress is unlikely to be jeopardized by either the high rate of inflation or the social insurance deficit, which is larger than anticipated, Hungarian dailies reported on 2 July. The IMF has recently reviewed the government's economic program following the approval in March of a $387 million stand-by credit. But the government may be able to make good on only one of its promises to the IMF: to ensure the current account deficit stays below $2 billion in 1996. Finance Minister Peter Medgyessy recently admitted that the government will not be able to meet the IMF requirement to keep the budget deficit below 3.9% of GDP and that it will be unable to prevent real wages from dropping by more than 2% in 1996, as promised to trade unions earlier this year. Nor has a solution been found to reduce the ballooning social insurance deficit. -- Zsofia Szilagyi SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE KARADZIC NOMINATED FOR BOSNIAN SERB PRESIDENCY... The pre-election convention of the governing Serbian Democratic Party (SDS) has endorsed incumbent President Radovan Karadzic for another term. The first time he was elected by the parliament, not by a direct vote. It is unclear whether Karadzic has accepted, international media reported from Pale on 1 July. He is an indicted war criminal, and the Dayton agreement bans such individuals from public life. Speaking of Karadzic's candidacy, the international community's High Representative Carl Bildt said: "That will be an interesting development, we'll see if that happens." The latest move of the SDS seems to be another attempt by the Bosnian Serbs to defy the international community and test the limits of its patience. Pale is also under pressure from Serbia to regulate its controversial leader to the sidelines. Washington and its allies insist that Karadzic resign, leave public life, and face charges in The Hague. -- Patrick Moore ...AND RALLIES THE SERBS. The Bosnian Serb leader, who was reelected SDS president on 29 June, gave a major televised address to the party's executive committee on 1 July, Reuters reported. He stressed a now- familiar theme to his electorate, namely that his fight is theirs as well: "The international community is pressuring me not only to resign but not to engage in party business, not to support our candidates. Their opponent therefore is not Radovan Karadzic, their opponent is the Serbian Democratic Party. Their opponent is the Serb people.... They know that the people are determined to have their own country and oppose any forced mixing with others...That is why they will try everything so that the SDS does not win." -- Patrick Moore NATIONALISTS WIN MOSTAR ELECTIONS. The List for a United Mostar, led by east Mostar mayor Safet Orucevic, gained 48% of the vote in the recent municipal elections, while the Croatian Democratic Community of west Mostar mayor Mijo Brajkovic received some 45%, Oslobodjenje reported on 2 July. AFP, however, quoted an EU official who did not want to be named as suggesting that the ballot was fraudulent. "My impression is that everything has already been agreed," he commented. The 37-member City Council will be comprised of 16 Muslims and Croats each and five members of other nationalities. The election outcome confirms the nationalist polarization in the city and gives little hope for reconciliation. -- Fabian Schmidt U.S. DOES NOT RULE OUT SANCTIONS IF KARADZIC STAYS IN OFFICE. State Department spokesman Nicholas Burns on 1 July said that Washington will advocate reimposing sanctions if Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic remains in office, Reuters reported. Burns, however, stressed that Washington will not press for an embargo to be reimplemented in the near future. "I wouldn't want to lead you to believe that that's something that we're going to exercise today," he commented. Meanwhile, a high- ranking delegation of Bosnian Serbs, including Republika Srpska parliamentary speaker Momcilo Krajisnik, met with Slobodan Milosevic in Belgrade on 1 July, Nasa Borba reported. It is unclear whether the meeting was linked to Karadzic's continued maneuvering to retain power in the republic. -- Stan Markotich MACEDONIAN ALBANIAN GROUPS ORGANIZE PROTEST RALLY. Seven ethnic Albanian organizations have called for a rally in Tetovo on 4 July following the decision last week to reduce the sentences of Fadil Sulejmani, dean of the illegal Tetovo University, and other Albanian activists, Macedonian media reported. Sulejmani's supporters had been hoping that the sentences would be dropped altogether. Instead, his sentence was shortened to one year. Others sentenced include university professor Milaim Fejziu and former leader of the Party of Democratic Prosperity (PPD) Nevzat Halili. Sulejmani had earlier charged the PPD, which is represented in the parliament, with failing to support the interests of ethnic Albanians in Macedonia and of Tetovo University. Meanwhile, Serbian police have arrested Kosovar writer Agim Vinca because he had a three-year-old Albanian stamp in his passport. Before early 1996, Kosovars were prohibited from traveling to Albania. -- Fabian Schmidt INFECTED CATTLE TO BE SLAUGHTERED IN MACEDONIA. The Macedonian government on 1 July ordered that some 1,000 cattle infected with hoof- and-mouth disease be slaughtered, Nova Makedonija and Western media reported. It appealed to the EU to supply vaccines for the remaining cattle. The disease, which can affect humans, is believed to have come from Albania. Six villages near Skopje and a village in the Titov Veles region are mainly affected. Some 80 cows and 100 sheep have been killed near Kumanovo, in northern Macedonia, for fear that they might be infected. Skopje has tightened border controls with Albania and rump Yugoslavia has imposed restrictions on goods from Macedonia. One of three border crossings between Macedonia and rump Yugoslavia has been closed for all traffic and another for freight transports. -- Stefan Krause U.S. FIRST LADY IN ROMANIA. Hillary Clinton arrived in Bucharest on 1 July on the first leg of a tour through seven Eastern and Central European countries, Romanian and Western media reported. Addressing some 3,000 people at Revolution Square in downtown Bucharest, she said the U.S. supports "the courageous efforts under way in Romania to build a new and lasting democracy." Members of the crowd chanted slogans directed against President Ion Iliescu and in support of exiled King Michael. The First Lady visited a pediatric AIDS clinic, a primary school, and a nursery school but called off a visit to the Kretzulescu church in protest at the intolerant attitude of the Romanian Orthodox Church toward Jehovah's Witnesses. She was also received by Iliescu at the presidential residence. Before leaving Romania on 2 July, she is expected to meet with representatives of non-governmental organizations. -- Dan Ionescu SIGNING OF MOLDOVAN-DNIESTER PACT POSTPONED. An adviser to Moldovan President Mircea Snegur on 1 July said the signing in Moscow of a memorandum on normalizing Moldovan-Dniester relations has been postponed until after the second round of the Russian presidential elections. Infotag quoted the adviser as saying that Snegur, Igor Smirnov, president of the self-proclaimed "Dniester republic," and Ukrainian President Leonid Kuchma all canceled their trip to Moscow at the last moment. The memorandum was initialed on 28 June following talks brokered by Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Boris Pastukhov and other Russian, Ukrainian, and OSCE officials. -- Dan Ionescu MORE PRICE HIKES IN BULGARIA. The government on 1 July raised electricity prices by an average of 118% and telephone and postal rates by some 40%, Pari reported. The new prices take effect immediately. The government also pegged electricity, heating, and coal prices to inflation and the U.S. dollar. It discussed raising the minimum monthly salary from 3,040 leva ($19.4) to 4,000 leva on 1 July and 6,000 leva on 1 October. Other issues on the agenda were adjustments for employees to compensate for inflation and additional benefits for the socially needy. Meanwhile, the big trade unions called for protests against the latest price hikes and announced a wave of strikes. Miners went on a one-day nationwide strike on 2 July to protest the imminent closing of four mines, Trud reported. -- Stefan Krause BULGARIAN POLITICAL UPDATE. The Foreign Ministry on 1 July announced it will recall Ambassador to Albania Stefan Naumov and initiate legal proceedings against him, Reuters reported. Naumov has been accused by employees at the Tirana embassy of issuing them with death threats (see OMRI Daily Digest, 25 June 1996). An investigation conducted by the Foreign Ministry substantiated these charges and concluded that Naumov harmed Bulgarian state interests and failed to fulfill his basic duties, a ministry spokesman said. President Zhelyu Zhelev must approve Naumov's dismissal. Naumov has denied all allegations and is expected to stay in Tirana, where he has strong personal ties. In other news, a national convention of dissident clergy under Metropolitan Pimen has opened in Sofia, Standart reported. On the agenda is whether to break away from the official Bulgarian Orthodox Church, headed by Patriarch Maksim. -- Stefan Krause NEW ALBANIAN PARLIAMENT CONVENES. Addressing the new Albanian parliament at its inaugural session on 1 July, President Sali Berisha called on the Socialist opposition to take up their 10 seats in the 140-member legislature, Reuters reported. The Socialists and several other parties that were represented in the previous parliament have boycotted the new legislature, claiming the recent elections were fraudulent. Only Socialist Sali Rexhepi has said he will defy his party's policy and take up his seat. Berisha charged the opposition with seeking to "destabilize Albanian democracy and to tread upon Albania's sovereignty." International monitors, however, have confirmed irregularities in the ballot; and Western diplomats, including from the U.S., refused to attend the parliamentary opening ceremony. The new legislature is composed of 122 Democrats, three Republicans, two members of Balli Kombetar, and three members of the Human Rights Party. -- Fabian Schmidt [As of 12:00 CET] Compiled by Jan Cleave ------------------------------------------------------------------------ Copyright (c) 1996 Open Media Research Institute, Inc. All rights reserved. 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