|Life is what happens to us while we're making other plans. - John Lennon|
No. 137, Part I, 17 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 EAST-CENTRAL EUROPE UKRAINIAN PREMIER IN CAR BOMB EXPLOSION. Pavlo Lazarenko was unhurt but shaken after a bomb explosion damaged his car on the way to Kyiv's Boryspil airport, Ukrainian and Western agencies reported on 16 July. The apparent assassination attempt took place as the prime minister's motorcade was overtaking a bus. Both the trunk of his car and another vehicle in his entourage were damaged. Lazarenko was examined at the scene and then transported in another car to the airport, where he boarded his scheduled flight to Donetsk. Authorities said the blast was triggered by a remote-controlled bomb detonated from a nearby car. Later in Donetsk, Lazarenko met with Deputy Prime Minister Vasyl Durdynets, who suggested the attempt on the premier's life was related to his efforts to clean up the country's ailing coal industry. Lazarenko has exposed widespread abuses of government funds by coal pit managers and Donetsk officials. -- Chrystyna Lapychak ESTONIAN POLITICAL UPDATE. The Blue Party, a small group of intellectuals that failed to win parliamentary representation, has joined a pre-election alliance formed on 15 July by the Country People's Party, the Rural Union, and the Pensioners' and Families' League, BNS reported. The alliance has adopted the name "National Cooperation" and intends to support Arnold Ruutel's candidacy for president in August. It will also run joint candidates in the October local elections. Coalition Party Chairman Tiit Vahi responded by saying his party will not support Ruutel's candidacy. Leaders of the Progress Party, established in the spring by former members of the Center Party, said they want to form an alliance with the Coalition Party for the local elections. -- Saulius Girnius LITHUANIAN MUNICIPALITIES DEMAND INDEPENDENCE FOR CHECHNYA. Algirdas Endriukaitis, chairman of the Executive Committee of the International Parliamentary Group on the Problem of Chechnya, has announced that 46 of the 56 municipalities in Lithuania have adopted resolutions addressed to the Lithuanian parliament and government calling on them to recognize Chechnya's independence both de facto and de jure, BNS reported on 16 July. Some 3.2 million people or 86.4% of the republic's population live in these 46 municipalities. The problem of Chechnya has still to be discussed in the other municipalities. -- Saulius Girnius EU DISSATISFIED WITH POLISH TRADE REFORM. EU Commissioner Hans van den Broek, meeting with Polish Foreign Minister Dariusz Rosati in Brussels on 16 July, complained about Polish protectionism, international media reported. The EU is dissatisfied with the slow pace at which Poland is dismantling trade barriers. The EU criticized measures to protect the oil sector and restrict the import of commercial vehicles. It also objected to import surcharges and long lines at border crossings. Van den Broek said the EU is concerned about a deal between Poland and Korean car manufacturer Daewoo whereby the latter bring into Poland some 110,000 disassembled cars duty-free for two years. Rosati blamed the EU for the difficulties, saying its refusal to name a date for Polish admission into the union had forced Poland to protect itself. -- Jakub Karpinski TRANSPORT WORKERS STRIKE IN SILESIA. Transport workers in the Katowice region began an indefinite strike on 16 July over demands for pay and replacement of decrepit vehicles, Polish media reported. Bus and streetcar services were seriously disrupted, although replacement and private buses helped citizens get to work. Transport Minister Boguslaw Liberadzki said some of the workers' demands were justified, especially calls for new vehicles and a coordinated transport policy for the area. But at the same time, he suggested that they direct their demands elsewhere. -- Jakub Karpinski SOCIALIST INTERNATIONAL WRAPS UP MEETING IN BRATISLAVA. European Socialists on 16 July called for the arrest, prosecution, and punishment on war crimes charges of Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic and military chief Gen. Ratko Mladic, Slovak media and Reuters reported. The resolution said neither should play any role in the upcoming Bosnian elections. Meeting with Slovak Prime Minister Vladimir Meciar, Socialist International representatives expressed support for Slovak membership in the EU and criticized those who call for Slovakia's isolation. The opposition Slovak Social Democratic Party is member of the Socialist International, and the Party of the Democratic Left is expected to be admitted in September. -- Sharon Fisher NATIONAL BANK OF SLOVAKIA TAKES SPECIAL MEASURES. The National Bank of Slovakia on 15 July approved new monetary policies aimed at maintaining internal and external stability and supporting healthy economic growth, Praca reported two days later. The first half of the year witnessed continued favorable inflation and a high GDP growth rate but also saw an increasing trade deficit, increased lending, and fast growth of money supply. As of 17 July, the Slovak crown is floated in a band widened from plus/minus 3% to plus/minus 5%, while the NBS's Lombard rate has been raised from 13% to 15%. From 1 August, minimum required reserves at commercial banks must increase to 9% of primary deposits, while those banks' minimum reserves at the NBS must reach 1.5%. -- Sharon Fisher HUNGARIAN FOREIGN MINISTER BRIEFS VAN DEN BROEK ON "AUTONOMY" DEBATE. Laszlo Kovacs, meeting with EU Commissioner Hans van den Broek in Brussels on 16 July, reiterated that the recent declaration supporting autonomy for Magyar minorities abroad (see OMRI Daily Digest, 9 July 1996) is in line with existing European norms, Hungarian media reported. Van den Broek was quoted as saying that while he is not familiar with the details of the document, he is convinced that the Hungarian government is pursuing a policy in full harmony with European legislation and practices. Kovacs told a Brussels press conference that Hungary is working on a detailed answer to sharp criticism from the Slovak and Romanian Foreign Ministries. -- Zsofia Szilagyi HUNGARIAN TRADE UNIONS WARN AGAINST PLANNED PERSONNEL CUTS IN EDUCATION. Student and university employee unions on 16 July threatened to stage demonstrations and delay the start of the next academic year if the government does not withdraw its plans to dismiss 4,500 teachers, researchers, and other employees at institutes of higher education in 1997, Hungarian dailies reported. Union leaders condemned the government's failure to allocate the necessary funds for the education sector as well as its plans to dismiss personnel as a money-saving measure. Officials also pointed out that while only $40 was spent on one college student in Hungary, the average in OECD countries is six times higher. In other news, unions representing public service employees on 16 July raised the possibility of a general strike in September unless the government makes good on its pledge to retroactively raise wages by 10% as of 1 July. -- Zsofia Szilagyi SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE UN GIVES UP ON BOSNIAN REFUGEES' GOING HOME. The UNHCR has accepted that Bosnia-Herzegovina will remain "ethnically cleansed" and divided into three distinct entities, AFP quoted The Independent as saying on 17 July. An unpublished report concluded that only refugees who want to go to areas in which their ethnic group will form the majority should be given assistance. This will mean scaling down considerably projected budgets to help displaced persons go home. The UNHCR's own target will also be reduced from assisting 870,000 people down to 135,000. The study noted that virtually no refugees have gone home to areas outside their own group's control. The UN's conclusions reflect the unraveling of the Dayton agreement stemming from the international community's refusal to enforce the key principles of freedom of movement, the right of refugees to go home, and the endorsement of Bosnia as a single multi-ethnic state. -- Patrick Moore MUSLIMS FORTIFY VILLAGE IN SERB-HELD AREA. The UN's International Police Task Force (IPTF) has discovered 250 military-age Muslim men in the village of Dugi Dio in northeastern Bosnia, AFP and Onasa reported on 16 July. The number is about twice that of such men living in the village before the war. The Muslims abandoned the front-line village during the conflict but have now returned and engaged in what UN spokesman Alexander Ivanko called "preparations for combat. Vegetation has been cut away to give a clear line of sight, wrecked cars have been moved into strategic positions as barricades or firing points, and buildings bricked except for small holes." The Serbian police expressed concern but have stayed out of Dugi Dio. In yet another case of the Dayton agreement's unravelling, the IPTF has started night patrols in Stolac in Herzegovina to prevent Croats from damaging the repaired homes of Muslim refugees. Despite pleas from the UN, the Croats have neither let Muslims come back nor prevented vandalism to their homes. -- Patrick Moore HOLBROOKE, NATO WARN SERBS. The Bosnian Serbs have been told they will face severe consequences if they carry out their threats to harm international personnel (see OMRI Daily Digest, 16 July 1996). U.S. envoy Richard Holbrooke said that "if [the Serbs] take any action against IFOR, they'll be met with swift military action," the International Herald Tribune reported on 17 July. He also said in Sarajevo that the Serbs are the main culprits in violations of the Dayton accord, AFP added. IFOR spokesman Lt. Col. Max Marriner stated: "We've listened to the threats. In return, the message going back is: don't try messing. We have a very strong mandate." -- Patrick Moore RUMP YUGOSLAV PARLIAMENT PASSES CONTROVERSIAL CITIZENSHIP LAW. The rump Yugoslav legislature on 16 July passed a law stating that only individuals registered in rump Yugoslavia from March 1992, when Serbia and Montenegro declared the present federation, are entitled to citizenship, Beta reported. The legislation seems intended to bar the country's roughly 700,000 refugees from voting in upcoming elections, since it is expected that they would vote against President Slobodan Milosevic. Opposition politicians have roundly condemned the law. Tanjug on 16 July quoted a Milosevic supporter as saying "the refugees' problems should not be taken up by Yugoslavia; rather, they should be the international community's [problem]." -- Stan Markotich KOSOVO UPDATE. Kosovar shadow state President Ibrahim Rugova and Albanian President Sali Berisha, meeting in Tirana on 14-15 July, stressed the need for a mediated dialogue between Pristina and Belgrade, KIC reported. They also discussed Rugova's meeting with German Foreign Minister Klaus Kinkel but reportedly once again declined to address the differences between Germany, Albania, and the Kosovars over independence for Kosovo. Rugova called the Albanian elections "a historical victory for the Albanian nation." Meanwhile, the Kosovar Human Rights Council's monthly report for June lists 511 cases of police brutality, 81 arbitrary arrests and 74 cases police interrogations. Seventy-three homes were raided under the pretext of arms searches. -- Fabian Schmidt SIX CROATS ACQUITTED OF MURDERING SERBS, TWO CONVICTED. A Croatian court has found no evidence to incriminate six former Croatian army soldiers who are accused of killing 18 Serbian civilians following the military campaign last summer in the former Serb-held enclave of Krajina, Novi List reported on 16 July. But one man accused of murdering a Serbian civilian in August 1995 was sentenced to six years in jail, and another, charged with armed robbery and attempted murder, 18 months. In other news, 20 Serb refugees who escaped last year to the rump Yugoslavia have returned to Croatia to a family reunion organized by the UNHCR, Vecernji List reported on 17 July. -- Daria Sito Sucic MACEDONIAN ALBANIANS PROTEST IMPRISONMENT OF DEAN OF TETOVO UNIVERSITY. Some 3,000 ethnic Albanians demonstrated in Skopje on 16 July to protest the impending imprisonment of the dean of the banned Tetovo University and four other ethnic Albanian activists, MILS reported. All five are to start serving sentences soon for instigating riots in the vicinity of the university in May 1995. Arben Xhaferi, leader of the Party for Democratic Action of the Albanians, has threatened that both his group and the Democratic Peoples' Party will boycott the parliament if the sentences are not lifted. Macedonian media described the rally as part of the campaigning for the fall local elections. -- Fabian Schmidt ROMANIAN FOREIGN MINISTER IN U.S. Teodor Melescanu met with U.S. Defense Minister William Perry in Washington on 16 July to discuss Romania's application for NATO membership, Radio Bucharest reported on 16-17 July. Melescanu described the talks as "positive." Chief of Staff Gen. Dumitru Cioflina is also in the U.S. to seek support for Romania's admission to the alliance. Melescanu, who is on a five-day official visit to the U.S., also met with U.S. Congress members to discuss granting Romania permanent most-favored-nation status in trade with the U.S. A vote in Congress on this issue was postponed for 17 July after debates in which some congressmen expressed harsh criticism of President Ion Iliescu and the Romanian government. -- Michael Shafir UKRAINIAN AMBASSADOR ON TREATY WITH ROMANIA. Ukrainian ambassador to Bucharest Oleksander Cheli told a seminar on mass media at the Black Sea resort of Eforie Nord that Ukraine will agree to denouncing the Ribbentrop-Molotov pact in a Ukrainian-Romanian basic treaty if Romania agrees to denounce the pact between its wartime leader, Marshal Ion Antonescu, and Adolf Hitler, Romanian media reported on 16 July. Cheli noted that the latter pact had caused widespread suffering to the Ukrainian population after Hitler and Antonescu invaded their country in 1941. -- Michael Shafir NEW POLITICAL ALLIANCE IN ROMANIA. The Democratic Agrarian Party of Romania (PDAR) and the extra-parliamentary Romanian Humanist Party have formed an electoral alliance, called the National Centrist Union, Romanian agencies reported on 16 July. The two parties said the Romanian Ecologist Movement (MER) may also join the alliance, but a decision has been postponed owing to the MER's "internal problems." It is unclear what will now happen to the National Unity Bloc, which includes the PDAR, MER, and the Party of Romanian National Unity. -- Michael Shafir DNIESTER SEPARATISTS WANT DEMILITARIZED MOLDOVA. Valerii Litskai, foreign minister of the breakaway Dniester region, has said all troops in the region must be withdrawn or disbanded after the conclusion of the peace memorandum scheduled for signing next month in Moscow, Reuters reported on 16 July. Litskai added that all Moldova should be demilitarized and that neither Chisinau nor Tiraspol should have armies. He said Tiraspol would agree only to troops carrying light arms, and he demanded international guarantees "similar to those Ukraine received in order to rid itself of Ukrainian weapons." -- Michael Shafir BULGARIAN PRESIDENT, SOCIALISTS CLASH AGAIN. Another conflict between Zhelyu Zhelev and the ruling Bulgarian Socialist Party (BSP) broke out on 16 July, when two presidential decrees were pulled from the parliamentary newspaper Darzhaven Vestnik, Bulgarian and Western media reported. The decrees, appointing the heads of the Supreme Administrative Court and the Supreme Court of Appeal, appeared only in a part of the print-run that was not circulated. The appointments are controversial (see OMRI Daily Digest, 28 June 1996), and Justice Minister Mladen Chervenyakov refused to countersign Zhelev's decree as required. Zhelev said he might ask the Constitutional Court to rule on the "BSP's constitutionality." The editor of Darzhaven Vestnik said the issue was changed for technical reasons. The Prosecutor-General has launched an investigation to establish who pulled the decrees. -- Stefan Krause BULGARIAN ROUNDUP. The U.S. is to grant Bulgaria $100,000 to improve safety at the Kozloduy nuclear power plant, AFP reported on 16 July. It will also give the Bulgarian Transport Ministry $2.5 million in aid to modernize its railways, including building a link from Radomir to the Macedonian border. In other news, the BSP proposed that the first round of presidential elections be held on 27 October, Duma reported. The date has to be set by the parliament. Meanwhile, Standart published a poll indicating that the BSP and opposition presidential candidates, Georgi Pirinski and Petar Stoyanov, have an equal chance of winning the Presidency. Finally, a bomb exploded in an underpass at the Palace of Culture in Sofia shortly after midnight on 17 July, causing considerable damage but no casualties or injuries, Reuters reported. -- Stefan Krause ALBANIAN PROSECUTOR-GENERAL INTERROGATES SOCIALIST LEADERS. The Prosecutor-General's Office on 15 July interrogated Socialist leaders Servet Pellumbi, Pandeli Majko, and Ndre Legisi in connnetion with a protest rally in central Tirana on 28 May. The government had banned the demonstration, and police brutally dispersed the protesters. Ten people were charged with taking part in the rally, but the prosecutor-general now seems to be looking for the organizers, ATSH reported. Meanwhile, the Tirana-based Society for Democratic Culture has issued a report saying that the Albanian elections were marred by irregularities and did not meet democratic standards, Reuters reported on 16 July. The Central and Eastern Europe Committee of the Socialist International also criticized the ballot at a meeting in Bratislava on 16 July, Poli I Qendres reported. -- 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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