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No. 129, Part II, 3 July 1996
* * * Note to readers: Due to American and Czech holidays, the OMRI Daily Digest will not appear on 4 and 5 July, 1996. OMRI Special Reports on the Russian presidential election will, however, be published on both of these days. * * * 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 MAJOR TRAM ACCIDENT IN UKRAINE. A crowded tram overturned in Dniprodzerzhynsk on 2 July killing 32 passengers and injuring 65, ITAR-TASS and Western agencies reported. The tram was going down a hill when its brakes failed. An investigation is under way. Meanwhile, President Leonid Kuchma postponed celebrations marking the adoption of the constitution and declared 3 July a day of mourning for victims of the accident. -- Ustina Markus NEW APPOINTMENTS, DISMISSALS IN UKRAINE. President Leonid Kuchma has issued a decree relieving Roman Shpek of his duties as deputy prime minister for economic issues and appointing him head of the Agency for Reconstruction and Development of Ukraine, Ukrainian Radio reported on 2 July. One day earlier, Vasyl Durdynets was dismissed from the post of head of the Coordinating Committee against Corruption and Organized Crime. He was replaced by Oleh Lytvaka, an assistant to the president on legal issues. Yurii Bochkarov was appointed energy minister and Anatolii Kuryzhka agriculture minister. Meanwhile, the Ukrainian parliament passed a resolution stating that any deputies who do not give up posts in the government or commercial structures by 4 July will lose their parliamentary seats. Under the new constitution, deputies may neither hold a government post nor work in commercial enterprises while serving in the legislature. This affects some 70 legislators, about 30 of whom hold government offices, including Prime Minister Pavlo Lazarenko. -- Ustina Markus UKRAINE, IRAQ DRAW UP BARTER DEAL. A Ukrainian delegation headed by Chairman of the State Committee for Oil and Gas Yevhen Dovzhok was in Baghdad on 2 July to draw up a barter agreement with Iraq, AFP reported. Iraq signed an agreement with the UN on 20 May allowing it to exchange limited amounts of crude oil for emergency food and medical supplies despite the embargo against it. That deal has not yet been approved by the UN because it is believed Baghdad is trying to use the humanitarian clause to effect a broader suspension of sanctions. Ukraine plans to offer iron and other goods in exchange for some 4 million tons of oil. -- Ustina Markus BELARUSIAN PRESIDENT SETS OUT NEW CURRENCY POLICY. Alyaksandr Lukashenka has taken further measures to institute a command economy, NTV reported on 2 July. It is now impossible to legally buy hard currency either from banks or currency exchanges. A member of the parliamentary Commission for Economic Reform, Paval Daneika, said this will force successful companies to take their profits out of the country, contributing toward capital flight. Lukashenka defended the move by saying the country was chronically short of hard currency. -- Ustina Markus ESTONIA, FRANCE SIGN DEFENSE COOPERATION PLAN. Gen. Alain Faupin, deputy head of the French general staff's international relations department, and Estonian Defense Minister Andrus Oovel, meeting in Tallinn on 2 July, signed a defense cooperation plan for 1996-1997, ETA reported. The plan foresees 13 joint projects, including having Estonian officers and NCOs who can speak French spend one month in a French infantry regiment Faupin said France, together with other countries, will propose that the Conventional Forces in Europe treaty be revised to eliminate the concept of blocs and to minimize the number of troops and armaments stationed in border regions. He added that France understood the Baltic states' concern about the proposal to allow Russia to station more tanks in Pskov Oblast. -- Saulius Girnius NO RUSSIAN ANSWER YET TO LATVIA'S PROPOSAL ON RETURNING REFUGEES. Latvian Foreign Ministry press secretary Rihards Mucins told BNS on 2 July that Russia has not yet responded to Latvia's draft agreement on the return of refugees. The agreement, submitted in February 1995, stipulates that Russia take back all illegal refugees who arrive in Latvia from Russia. Russian Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin had promised his Latvian counterpart, Andris Skele, at the 4 May summit meeting of the Council of Baltic Sea States that he would receive a reply by 1 June. The premiers also agreed to meet again after the Russian presidential elections. -- Saulius Girnius LITHUANIAN SEIMAS PASSES MASS MEDIA LAW. The Seimas on 2 July adopted the much-discussed mass media law, BNS reported. Until January 2002, state-owned Lithuanian Radio and TV is to be financed by budget allocations, subscription payments, sales of its programs, sponsorship, charity funds, and advertising revenues. The law establishes a National Radio and TV Board, which will appoint the LRTV director-general and approve programming. The Seimas also ratified the Lithuanian-Polish treaty on their common border. -- Saulius Girnius TWO LADIES IN POLAND. U.S. First Lady Hillary Rodham Clinton arrived in Poland on 2 July on the second leg of her East European tour aimed at demonstrating U.S. support for new democracies in the region, Polish media reported. She visited the former Nazi death camp at Auschwitz to pay tribute to victims of the Holocaust. On 3 July, she will meet with members of Polish feminist organizations and visit a children's hospital before traveling to the Czech Republic. Over the next few days, Ms. Rodham Clinton is also to visit Slovakia, Hungary, Estonia, and Finland. The same day, former British Prime Minister Lady Thatcher also arrived in Poland for a three-day visit. She met with former Prime Ministers Tadeusz Mazowiecki and Hanna Suchocka, both now in opposition, and Polish President Aleksander Kwasniewski. On 3 July, she is scheduled to receive an honorary degree from the Economics University in Poznan, which receives funding from, among others, the Know-How Fund established by Thatcher. -- Jakub Karpinski CZECH PREMIER PRESENTS NEW GOVERNMENT. Vaclav Klaus on 2 July presented a proposed list of his new minority government to President Vaclav Havel, Czech media reported. Havel said he expected to approve the list and swear in the 16 ministers on 4 July. Nine members of Klaus's previous government retain their posts, ensuring continuity in key areas such as finance, foreign affairs, internal affairs, and economic policy. Two other previous ministers switch posts, and there are five new ministers. The cabinet is a coalition of Klaus's Civic Democratic Party, the Christian Democratic Union-Czechoslovak People's Party, and the Civic Democratic Alliance. Once it has been sworn in, the government has 30 days to prepare a declaration of its policy program and put it to a vote of confidence in the parliament. -- Steve Kettle EU OFFICIAL WARNS SLOVAKIA'S RULING COALITION. Herbert Bosch, an Austrian who chairs a joint committee of European and Slovak parliamentary deputies, said on 2 July that the increased participation of opposition parties in exerting control over public life is "a crucial point" in Slovakia's relations with the EU, Slovak and international media reported. Bosch's statement, delivered at the end of a four-day visit, came one day after EU officials from France and Germany criticized certain aspects of the Slovak government's policy. Bosch said he has received assurances from Prime Minister Vladimir Meciar and parliamentary chairman Ivan Gasparovic that the opposition will gain greater access to controlling organs by this fall. If this does not occur, it will be a "negative signal to the EU," Bosch warned. Also on 2 July, the Slovak parliament approved laws on lotteries and advertising. The latter prohibits advertising tobacco products and alcohol, with the exception of beer. -- Sharon Fisher SLOVAK RADIO LICENSE GRANTED TO COALITION SUPPORTER. Board for Radio and Television Broadcasting chairman Peter Juras on 2 July announced that Radio Koliba will be granted a license to broadcast in Bratislava and Banska Bystrica, CTK reported. The new station's co-owner is Fedor Flasik, director of the Donar advertising agency, which has close ties with the ruling Movement for a Democratic Slovakia (HZDS). Flasik was among the main organizers of the HZDS's 1994 election campaign, and he composed the party's election song "Vivat Slovakia." Juras said that by granting the license "we have used all free frequencies for the next six years." -- Sharon Fisher U.S. DEFENSE SECRETARY IN HUNGARY. William Perry, visiting the Taszar air base on 2 July, said two IFOR armored battalions will be withdrawn from Bosnia and replaced by U.S. military police units, Hungarian and international media reported on 3 July. The defense secretary said NATO has more than enough tanks and other heavy armor in Bosnia to complete the peacekeeping mission. According to other U.S. officials, the switch is designed to give the NATO-led force more mobility and flexibility as it increasingly focuses on overseeing the resettlement of refugees and preparations for the September elections. Perry also said he was confident the NATO-led military mission in Bosnia will end on schedule in December. -- Zsofia Szilagyi SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE UPDATE ON MOSTAR ELECTION RESULTS. According to Onasa, the Muslim-dominated List of Citizens for a United Mostar won the Mostar municipal elections with 28,505 votes. The Croatian Democratic Community came second with 26,680 votes, while the third largest force, a list of anti-nationalist parties, received 1,937 votes. Two Croatian right-wing radical parties received 619 and 386 votes, respectively. The two main parties each gained the three districts located on their respective side of the divided city. The figures include the ballots from Oslo, Stockholm, Bonn and Bern, but official results are not expected until 3 July. EU officials said the results of the Mostar municipal elections indicate that the deep ethnic division in Bosnia is likely to remain after the September nationwide ballot, AFP reported on 2 July. -- Fabian Schmidt EU WANTS MOSTAR MANDATE PROLONGED. Meanwhile, EU spokesman Dragan Gasic said Mostar administrator Ricardo Perez Casado will ask Brussels to extend the EU mandate beyond 23 July, Onasa reported on 2 July. An EU official, who asked not to be named, told AFP that "the vote did not give a fair choice to the different candidates." He added: "I don't know why the September elections are likely to be any better. This is a fake success.... The result is that the division of the town has been legitimized." Opposition parties had almost no access to the mass media, which was controlled by the two nationalist parties. French Foreign Ministry spokesman Jacques Rummelhardt said that "prolonging the EU action in Mostar remains subordinate to pursuing the reunification process in the city." -- Fabian Schmidt STANDOFF BETWEEN PALE, WASHINGTON OVER KARADZIC. Bosnian Serb Vice President Biljana Plavsic on 2 July said that Radovan Karadzic has not resigned as president of the Republika Srpska, Nasa Borba noted. While she did not spell out her own precise function now that he has formally handed over his duties to her, she added that he will not be sent to The Hague because that would be against the republic's law, the BBC reported. Plavsic also firmly refused to cooperate with the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia, which the Bosnian Serbs regard as a political instrument against them. The U.S., however, asserted that Karadzic must leave public office or Pale will face renewed economic sanctions. The State Department added that it may seek to ban the Serbian Democratic Party from the September elections if it does not dump Karadzic as its leader, news agencies reported. -- Patrick Moore BOSNIAN SERBS TURN BACK WAR CRIMES INVESTIGATORS. Bosnian Serb police on 2 July barred the way to Finnish forensic experts who wanted to examine the remains of Muslims lying in a field near Srebrenica, where the worst atrocity in Europe since World War II took place last July. The Serbian authorities had earlier given the Finns permission to enter the area. The BBC said that a Serbian vehicle had been carting off any weapons lying about and that the incident was yet another humiliation for the international community at the hands of the Serbs. -- Patrick Moore TRIAL OF SERBIAN OPPOSITION LEADER BEGINS. Zoran Djindjic, leader of the Democratic Party, went on trial on 2 July for accusing Serbian Premier Mirko Marjanovic of direct involvement in fraudulent activities, Beta reported. The charges against the opposition leader stem from a January 1995 advertisement published in Nedeljni Telegraf, which connected Marjanovic to a shady plot to sell some 1 million tons of wheat for an exorbitant profit. AFP added that Nedeljni Telegraf editor Dragoljub Belic is also standing trial and that representatives from the British, Swiss, French, German, and Canadian embassies are observing the proceedings. -- Stan Markotich RUMP YUGOSLAVIA, UNHCR SIGN ACCORD. Federal Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs Radoslav Buljajic and Margaret O'Keefe, UN High Commissioner for Refugees mission head in rump Yugoslavia, signed an accord on 2 July aimed at strengthening cooperation and regulating the status of the UNHCR in rump Yugoslavia, Tanjug reported. The official news agency commented that the signing of the agreement represents "recognition" of Belgrade's compliance with the Dayton peace process. -- Stan Markotich CROATIAN UPDATE. The Council of Europe on 2 July invited Croatia to join that organization, Reuters reported. But it added that "the decision is not immediately effective as the [Council's ministerial] committee reserved the possibility of reconsidering it in the second half of September with reference to Croatia's observance of the Dayton peace agreement and, in particular, its attitude during the elections in Bosnia-Herzegovina." An acrimonious exchange has been going on for some months between Zagreb and the Council over Croatia's record on human rights and media policy. Meanwhile, Novi list reported on 2 July that Croatian TV (HTV) suddenly dropped a popular late-evening news program. No reason was given, but the authorities later said it would be merged with another news program as part of summer schedule changes. HTV is tightly controlled by the governing party, but the banned program had managed to provide some coverage of stories the authorities would rather not publicize. -- Patrick Moore MACEDONIAN ROUNDUP. Macedonia and Slovenia have signed a free- trade agreement covering both industrial and agricultural products, Nova Makedonija and MILS reported on 3 July. Duties on all Macedonian industrial products will be lifted as of October, as will those on 60% of Slovenian industrial goods. Duties on the remainder will be reduced gradually. Free trade of agricultural products on a quota system will begin in December 1996. Goods exceeding the quota will be subject to regular duties. In other news, the EU has announced it will ban all meat imports from Macedonia following the outbreak of hoof-and-mouth disease among cattle in parts of the country. -- Stefan Krause ROMANIAN GOVERNMENT TO COMPENSATE FOR PRICE HIKES. The government, meeting with representatives of employers' unions and labor confederations on 2 July, discussed measures to compensate for massive hikes in the price of energy, fuel, and bread, Radio Bucharest reported. It offered a compensation payment to employees of 9,340 lei ($3) and an additional wage indexation of 4%. Prime Minister Nicolae Vacaroiu said the sharp increases were due to the recent devaluation of the national currency and the need to import oil, natural gas, and electricity in order to keep the economy afloat. Chairman of the Alfa Trade Union Cartel Bogdan Hossu was quoted as saying that the offer was not sufficient to compensate for the price hikes. Trade unions have threatened with massive protests against the government's economic policies. -- Dan Ionescu MOLDOVAN OPPOSITION PARTY CRITICIZES PACT WITH DNIESTER REGION. The opposition Party of Democratic Forces on 2 July strongly criticized a draft memorandum on normalizing Moldovan- Dniester relations, Infotag reported. It expressed concern about "the strange haste with which the document was drafted at Moscow's insistence." Party leaders also described the memorandum as "capitulating to both Tiraspol and Moscow," since, they said, it makes so many concessions to Dniester separatists that it is a de facto acceptance of Moldova's federalization. The draft was due to be signed in the Kremlin on 1 July, but the signing ceremony was postponed at the last moment until after the second round of the Russian presidential elections. -- Dan Ionescu BULGARIAN PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION UPDATE. The Union of Democratic Forces on 2 July decided to ask the Constitutional Court to clarify whether Foreign Minister Georgi Pirinski can be elected president, Standart reported. Pirinski is to run in the fall elections as the candidate of the ruling Bulgarian Socialist Party. Article 93 of the Bulgarian Constitution stipulates that the president must be a Bulgarian by birth. Pirinski was born in New York in 1948 into the family of a Bulgarian emigre who later returned to Bulgaria. The opposition doubts whether this meets the constitutional requirements, while Pirinski notes that he relinquished his U.S. citizenship in 1974. -- Stefan Krause U.S.-ALBANIAN UPDATE. U.S. press attachИ Charles Walsh has said that U.S. diplomats stayed away from the new parliament's opening session to make clear they do not consider disputes about the 26 May elections to be over, Reuters reported on 2 July. He added that "it's fairly urgent for the government to address these [election] irregularities." Virtually all other diplomatic corps attended the ceremony. Meanwhile, the first shipment of U.S. military equipment pledged by Defense Secretary William Perry in March arrived in Durres, ATSH reported. The shipment included 180 trucks, unused weapons, and other supplies mainly from German bases. -- 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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