|When in doubt, tell the truth. - Mark Twain|
No. 134, Part II, 12 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 ************************************************************************ Do you need sharply focused economic news? OMRI's weekly Economic Digest provides thorough coverage of business and financial developments throughout the region. This week's edition includes stories on Russia's looming budget problem, a crisis hitting Romanian banks, and the newest venture by Stratton and Harvard Funds in the Czech Republic. For subscription and rate information, please send a message to firstname.lastname@example.org *********************************************************************** CENTRAL AND EASTERN EUROPE EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT TO DISCUSS ROMA. The European Parliament in Strasbourg is holding a special session on 12 July to discuss the plight of Roma in Central and Eastern Europe, the BBC reported. The region is home to an estimated 8-10 million Roma, who have often borne the brunt of economic transition in terms of unemployment and cuts in social services. -- Peter Rutland LAZARENKO RE-APPOINTED UKRAINIAN PRIME MINISTER. The Ukrainian parliament approved President Leonid Kuchma's nomination of Pavlo Lazarenko as premier, Ukrainian agencies reported on 10 July. Lazarenko, whose cabinet resigned on 5 July after the parliament adopted a new Ukrainian constitution, is required to present a program to lawmakers in September. The new prime minister said his main policy objectives include support for domestic industry and agriculture, energy conservation, creating a favorable climate for investment, meeting budget revenue targets, easing budgetary pressures, and protecting the poor. Lazarenko said he will attempt to combat the rampant crime and corruption; at least 50% of national income is generated in the gray market. -- Chrystyna Lapychak UKRAINIAN PRESIDENT APPOINTS NEW KEY MINISTERS. Leonid Kuchma on 12 July appointed Gen. Oleksander Kuzmuk as defense minister, Volodymyr Radchenko as head of the Ukrainian Security Service, Yurii Kravchenko as interior minister, Viktor Bannykh as commander of the border guards, Ihor Valkiv as commander of the National Guard of Ukraine, Leonid Derkach as chairman of the State Customs Committee, and Hennadii Udovenko as foreign minister, RFE/RL and Ukrainian agencies reported. Ukraine's newly adopted constitution gives the president authority to fill those positions without parliamentary approval. Lawmakers must consent to all other portfolios. -- Chrystyna Lapychak FRANCE SIGNS FRIENDSHIP TREATY WITH BELARUS. Belarusian President Alyaksandr Lukashenka signed a treaty on friendship and cooperation with his French counterpart Jacques Chirac on 11 July in Paris, international agencies reported. Lukashenka was in France for a three-day official visit. Several human rights organizations during Lukashenka's visit protested censorship and strong-arm tactics used against the opposition in Belarus. Lukashenka said there was a distorted image of Belarus in the West, and assured Chirac that his country was democratic. Chirac raised the issue of civil liberties and lack of economic reform in Belarus. -- Ustina Markus ESTONIAN CABINET DELAYS DECISION ON RESIDENCE PERMITS. The government put off a final decision on granting residence permits to 4,077 retired Soviet military officers and their families by giving them six-month residence permits, BNS reported on 11 July. Regional Affairs Minister Tiit Kubri said most would receive permits soon. A total of 19,340 retirees have applied for residence, of which 14,392 received five-year permits, and 331 two-to-four year permits. The Citizenship and Migration Department has received 345,474 residence permit applications and has granted permits to almost 333,000. -- Saulius Girnius TWO LATVIAN PARTIES TO MERGE. The boards of the Democratic Party Saimnieks (DPS) and Latvia's Unity Party (LVP) on 11 July confirmed that the two parties will merge, BNS reported. The merger first must be ratified by party congresses. DPS Chairman Ziedonis Cevers predicted the merger would occur before local elections in the spring. Winning 18 of the 100 seats in the fall Saeima elections, the DPS faction recently increased to 20 deputies when two Popular Concord Party members defected. LVP Chairman Alberts Kauls said that five of his seven deputies support the merger and if the others agree, the new party would have 27 deputies. -- Saulius Girnius LITHUANIA'S TOP TAX INSPECTOR TO CHANGE APPROACH. Antanas Nesteckas, the recently appointed head of the State Tax Inspectorate, said he will change the focus of his bureau's work, Radio Lithuania reported on July 11. He said tax inspectors should help taxpayers, not only penalize them. In other news, Nesteckas said that the 173.6 million litai ($43.4 million) deficit in anticipated revenues as of 9 July was due to the banking crisis and changes in tax laws. For example, the VAT tax on agricultural producers was reduced from the 18% foreseen in the budget to 9%, resulting in a shortfall of 400 million litai. He said the budget problems should be solved--not by raising taxes or increasing late fines--but by collecting unpaid taxes, especially on illegal oil and alcohol. -- Saulius Girnius POLAND JOINS OECD. Poland on 11 July joined the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), a group of the world's richest nations, Polish and international media reported. Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Grzegorz Kolodko, who signed the agreement, said Poland will press forward with plans to join the EU by 2000. Poland will become the OECD's 28th member after the Sejm ratifies the accession treaty, probably in the early fall. To meet the OECD's criteria for membership, Poland agreed to free up the flow of capital and loosen restrictions on foreign ownership of land. -- Jakub Karpinski POLISH INTERNAL AFFAIRS MINISTER ON ARCHIVES. Polish historians will be able to view older Internal Ministry files dating until 1966, Polish Internal Affairs Minister Zbigniew Siemiatkowski said on 11 July, Polish dailies reported. More recent material will be available only after 30 years, released year by year. The exception to the open files are the secretly collected "operational" data and material concerning secret service agents, which would be released only to the prosecutor's office or to courts in cases of grave crimes. Siemiatkowski said there are files so secret that they will be never put in the archives in the ministry's basement--they will remain forever in a safe in the minister's office. If released, those files would be a "political bomb," he said. -- Jakub Karpinski U.S. SENATORS BACK POLISH, CZECH, HUNGARIAN NATO MEMBERSHIP. Hungary, Poland, and the Czech Republic have made the most progress toward NATO membership, members of the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee said on 10 July, Magyar Hirlap reported. They told visiting Hungarian Foreign Ministry State Secretary Istvan Szent-Ivanyi that the three countries could be entitled to $60 million in military aid; the Senate has yet to approve that package. Szentivanyi also conferred with deputy Secretary of State Strobe Talbott on NATO expansion. Talbott said Hungary's hopes of joining NATO by 1999 are "realistic." Szent-Ivanyi said he got the impression Slovenia could be next on the US's NATO list. -- Zsofia Szilagyi CZECH GROUP DISTRIBUTES ANTI-SEMITIC LEAFLETS. A group calling itself The Patriotic Front claimed responsibility for distributing leaflets that protest an exhibit in Brno honoring the recently murdered Israeli Prime Minister Itzak Rabin, Czech media reported on 12 July. The leaflets claim, among other things, that the influence of Jews in Czech politics is too strong. Tomas Kraus, the secretary of the Federation of Czech Jewish Communities, said the leaflets are of marginal importance and the public has either ignored or condemned them. -- Jiri Pehe SLOVAK PRESIDENT CRITICIZES HUNGARIAN CALLS FOR AUTONOMY. Michal Kovac said the declaration adopted at the recent Hungarian summit that called for autonomy for ethnic Hungarians living in neighboring countries "rouses mistrust" between Slovaks and Hungarians, he told Slovak TV on 11 July. He expressed particular concern over the connection made between Hungarian minorities' identity and survival on non-Hungarian territory with autonomy and a special legal position. He said the development of identity is closely linked with "the development of democracy and the safeguarding of individual rights." Also on 11 July, Parliamentary Foreign Relations Committee chairman Dusan Slobodnik said the declaration violates Slovakia's constitutional order, and he added that the parliamentary Mandate and Immunity Committee will take measures against the five ethnic Hungarian deputies from Slovakia who attended the conference. -- Sharon Fisher HUNGARIAN WRITER TO RECEIVE LEGION D'HONNEUR AWARD. Hungarian writer and former dissident Gyorgy Konrad will receive the Legion d'honneur, France's highest award for foreigners, Magyar Hirlap reported on 11 July. Konrad was nominated for the award by French President Jacques Chirac for his work as a writer and as a promoter of French-Hungarian cultural relations. Konrad has published four novels and two lengthy essays in French, and several of his articles have appeared in the French daily Le Monde. -- Zsofia Szilagyi SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE KARADZIC'S PARTY ALLOWED TO RUN IN ELECTIONS? The Serbian Democratic Party (SDS) can stand in the vote, said the OSCE's supervisor of the Bosnian elections, Nasa Borba reported on 12 July. Superivisor Robert Frowick said Serbs should be able to vote on 14 September for whomever they want, including the SDS, Onasa reported on 11 July. An OSCE spokesman in Sarajevo told OMRI, however, that Frowick still believes that the SDS should not run if headed by indicted war criminal Radovan Karadzic. The international community's High Representative Carl Bildt again said the SDS should be allowed to run even if Karadzic is still in charge. The U.S. and its allies appear to be content simply with Karadzic's "marginalization," Nasa Borba reported. In Sarajevo, however, Haris Silajdzic of the Party for Bosnia and Herzegovina said his group probably will boycott the elections unless war criminals such as Karadzic are out of public office, Onasa reported on 10 July. -- Patrick Moore HAGUE TRIBUNAL ISSUES ARREST WARRANTS FOR KARADZIC, MLADIC. The International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia put out international arrest warrants for Karadzic and his military counterpart, Gen. Ratko Mladic, Nasa Borba and Oslobodjenje reported on 12 July. The move is expected to have few practical consequences and is largely a political and psychological attempt to keep up pressure on the Serbs and on the international community. The two men have already been indicted twice for war crimes and have publicly visited Serbia, although existing warrants are theoretically valid there. Bosnian Prime Minister Hasan Muratovic said Karadzic and Mladic are still free on Bosnian Serb territory despite the presence in Bosnia of 60,000 NATO troops. He said the two men's freedom shows a "lack of determination of the international community," AFP reported on 11 July. -- Patrick Moore SREBRENICA SURVIVORS MARK ANNIVERSARY. Some 5,000 Muslim former inhabitants of Srebrenica rallied in Tuzla on the first anniversary of the town's capture by Gen. Mladic's forces, Oslobodjenje reported on 12 July. The meeting was intended as a gathering of women, with foreign guests, but some of the few hundred males who escaped the massacres also showed up, turning it into what the BBC called "a gathering of the survivors." The Serbs, meanwhile, held a rally in Srebrenica to mark its "liberation." -- Patrick Moore IT WILL NOW COST MORE TO LEAVE RUMP YUGOSLAVIA... The federal government on 11 July hiked its departure tax, Tanjug reported. The new rates are slated to come into effect on 20 July. Individual citizens crossing the border must then pay 100 dinars (about $20) instead of 60, and cars will be obliged to hand over 200 dinars, up from 150. The move is intended to stem the outflow of hard currency. -- Stan Markotich ...AND TO BUY A LOAF OF BREAD. The price for basic bread will rise an average of 30%, said Serbia's Trade Minister Srdjan Nikolic on 10 July, Nasa Borba reported. The increases, expected on or shortly after 13 July, will up the price of a loaf of "prime-grade" white bread to about 2.4 dinars or 50 cents; "second-grade" bread will retail for about 1.8 dinars or 35 cents. Nikolic said the government will require bakeries to produce at least 30% of their bread output as "second-grade," in order to cushion the poorest segments of the population. -- Stan Markotich KOSOVAR LEADER MEETS GERMAN FOREIGN MINISTER. Ibrahim Rugova met Klaus Kinkel in Bonn on 11 July and said he was ready for talks with Belgrade, Nasa Borba and AFP reported. Kinkel said Serbia's ties with the EU depended on settling the Kosovo issue, Reuters reported. The German foreign ministry said the situation in Kosovo is marked by fear and discrimination against the Albanian majority there, adding that Germany's ties with Belgrade would be affected by how fully Belgrade respects human and minority rights in the region. Rugova repeated the Kosovars' demand for independence. Meanwhile, a Serbian policeman was injured in a shootout in Podujevo, Tanjug reported. -- Fabian Schmidt ROMANIAN COALITION WILL NOT BE DISMEMBERED. The Party of Social Democracy in Romania (PDSR) and its extremist anti-Hungarian coalition ally, the Party of Romanian National Unity (PUNR), agreed to continue their partnership in the government coalition, Romanian media reported on 11-12 July. In May, the PDSR had announced it intended to end the cooperation. Observers attribute the reversal to the PUNR's electoral success in June's local elections and to the PDSR's apprehension that it might be left without potential allies after the general elections scheduled for early November. The two sides agreed to draft "a non- aggression pact" for the electoral contest. -- Michael Shafir ROMANIAN JOURNALISTS SENTENCED FOR LIBEL. Two journalists from the Constanta daily Telegraf were sentenced for libel to seven months in prison, local and international media reported on 11-12 July. That was the first such conviction in the post-communist era. In 1993, the two reported on corruption cases in the Constanta city council. The city's deputy mayor was dismissed, but a council official on whom they had reported was made a judge. The Supreme Court on 11 July ruled against the journalists' appeal and ordered them to pay 25 million lei ($8,200) in damages. President Ion Iliescu said he cannot intervene in the case. -- Michael Shafir TINCA ON ROMANIAN EFFORTS TO JOIN NATO. Romania hopes its new military reforms will boost its chances of NATO membership, said Defense Minister Gheorghe Tinca, local and international agencies reported on 11-12 July. Tinca was speaking in advance of Romania's second round of individual talks with NATO in Brussels, due to be held on 15 July. He said his country was aiming to create a core of 20,000 army professionals by the end of the year 2000. He said dropping compulsory military conscription was not yet possible, but the army now has 17,000 professionals. Romania has pledged to cut its 230,000-strong force to 190,000 over the next four years. Tinca denied local media reports of a rise in the number of suicides and desertions among the conscripts. -- Michael Shafir GENERAL LEBED SUMMONS COLONEL FROM MOLDOVA. Colonel Mikhail Bergman, former Tiraspol military commander, left for Moscow on 11 July, where he was convoked by Russian Security Council Secretary Gen. Alexandr Lebed. Bergman will likelybe re-appointed to the post from which he was dismissed eight months ago by Gen. Valerii Yevnevich, commander of the Transdniester-based Russian troops, at the order of former Defense Minister Pavel Grachev, BASA-press reported. In an interview with BASA- press, Bergman said Yevnevich will be transferred to China as military attache. -- Michael Shafir BULGARIA PROMISES IMPROVED ECONOMY. In an economic policy memorandum to the IMF, the Bulgarian government pledged that all enterprises not privatized by September 1997 will be included in mass privatization, Sega reported on 11 July. It also said foreign reserves--currently $600 million--will rise to $1.3 billion by end-1996 and $1.7 billion by end- 1997. The lev is to stabilize at 150/dollar in the second half of 1996, (though it is already at 184.6.) Inflation will be reduced to 2.5% monthly by December 1996 (vs. 20.3% in June) and 1.5% by December 1997. The budget deficit will be 3.1% of GDP in 1997, falling from 5.4% this year. However, by 3 July, that deficit was already 66.7% of the planned annual figure. The IMF's Executive Board will consider the memo on 19 July. -- Michael Wyzan ALBANIAN PRESIDENT ANNOUNCES NEW GOVERNMENT. Sali Berisha on 11 July officially announced Prime Minister Aleksander Meksi's new government, Reuters reported. The Democratic Party (PD) holds 22 of 25 posts in the new cabinet, with the remainder going to small coalition partners. Democratic Party Leader Tritan Shehu was named deputy premier and foreign minister, Dylber Vrioni heads the new privatization ministry, Ridvan Bode is the new finance minister, and Halit Shamata is new interior minister. Safet Zhulali kept the defense portfolio. Teodor Laco of the Social Democratic Union stays on a culture minister, Arjan Madhi of the Republican Party was appointed secretary general of the council of ministers, and Arben Babameto is state secretary for transport. Bamir Topl became agricultural minister, and Kristofor Peci is justice minister. The PD-dominated parliament is expected to approve the new government next week. -- Stefan Krause and Fabian Schmidt [As of 12:00 CET] Compiled by Maura Griffin Solovar ------------------------------------------------------------------------ Copyright (c) 1996 Open Media Research Institute, Inc. 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