|We are always the same age inside. - Gertrude Stein|
No. 138, Part I, 18 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 GERMAN CHANCELLOR ON EU EXPANSION. Helmut Kohl, following his meeting with Austrian Chancellor Franz Vranitzky in Vienna on 17 July, told journalists that the admission of Central European states--above all Poland--to the EU "has an existential meaning" for Germany, international agencies reported. "It would be disastrous for Germany if the EU were to end at the Oder-Neisse border. For Germany, Cracow is a Central European rather than an East European city," Kohl noted. Both Kohl and Vranitzky agreed that the Czech Republic and Hungary should also be admitted to the EU as soon as possible. Commenting on Slovakia, Kohl said he was "not enthusiastic" about internal developments in that country (see below). -- Jiri Pehe UKRAINE TIGHTENS SECURITY MEASURES FOLLOWING ASSASSINATION ATTEMPT ON PREMIER. Ukrainian President Leonid Kuchma on 17 July convened an emergency session of the National Security Council to discuss the implications of the assassination attempt on Prime Minister Pavlo Lazarenko, Ukrainian agencies reported. Some 500 commandos and 3,000 militia have been dispatched to Kyiv to assist in the hunt for the suspects and monitor train and bus stations as well as roads. The council agreed to further measures to tighten security around the country's top leaders and step up its fight against corrupt regional officials and coal mine managers in Donetsk, whom Lazarenko believes were behind the attempt on his life. Kuchma has said anti-reformist organized criminals and corrupt officials, as well as radical left- and right-wing forces, may well be responsible. Saying the incident was "an attempt to undermine the constitutional regime," he promised an "adequate and resolute response." -- Chrystyna Lapychak BELARUS PRESIDENT CALLS FOR REFERENDUM. Alyaksandr Lukashenka has proposed that a national referendum be held on 7 November, RFE/RL reported on 16 July. The ballot would include four issues: prolonging the term of office for the president from five to seven years; transforming the parliament from a single to a two chamber body; granting the president the authority to appoint all members to the Central Election Committee; and creating a 12-member constitutional court, half of whose members would be appointed by the president and half by the parliament. The current court has nine members elected by the parliament. -- Saulius Girnius RUSSIANS IN ESTONIA TO FORM BROAD ELECTION COALITION. Chairman of the Russian Party in Estonia Nikolai Maspanov told BNS on 17 July that his party will form a broad election coalition with the Russian Christian Union, the Russian Citizens' Union of Estonia, and a war veterans organization. Local elections are scheduled to take place in October. Maspanov said that lists of candidates for Tallinn and other regions will be drawn up by mid-August, together with an election platform and plans for the election campaign. He added that allies will also be sought among left-wing parties representing Estonians, but he did not specify which ones. -- Saulius Girnius DEATH PENALTY TO BE SUSPENDED IN LITHUANIA. President Algirdas Brazauskas has announced that he will no longer give his consent for the execution of convicted criminals, Die Frankfurter Rundschau reported on 17 July. The last convict to be executed was Boris Dekanidze, who organized the murder of journalist Vitas Lingys in July 1995. There are currently nine men on death row, whose sentences will be converted to life imprisonment. Although the public still supports the death penalty, Brazauskas is complying with a recommendation of the Council of Europe Parliamentary Assembly urging Russia, Ukraine, Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania to abolish the death penalty. In Estonia, 10 people have been sentenced to death since that country regained independence in 1991, but none of the sentences has been carried out. In Latvia, a convicted multiple murderer was executed last December. -- Saulius Girnius POLISH FOREIGN MINISTER ON CONCORDAT. Dariusz Rosati, in an interview with the Catholic Information Agency, said that delaying ratification of the Concordat is harming Polish interests, Polish dailies reported on 18 July. The agreement with the Holy See was signed in 1993 by Hanna Suchocka's government, but the Sejm recently voted to delay the ratification until the new constitution is adopted. Rosati commented that not ratifying the document is undermining the credibility of the government, which, he said, should respect its predecessors' obligations. The Sejm majority and many of his government colleagues belonging to the ruling Democratic Left Alliance disagree with Rosati over this issue. Rosati argued that it was precisely the ruling left- wing formation that should prove a reconciliation between the Left and the Church is possible. -- Jakub Karpinski PROTEST MARCH IN GDANSK. More than 2,000 shipyard workers marched through the downtown Gdansk on 17 July to protest government policy in the region. Solidarity, which organized the protest, argued that the ruling coalition was discriminating against the Province of Gdansk, the birthplace of the union. By way of example, Solidarity cited the poor state of health care, the bankruptcy of the indebted Gdansk shipyard, and the dismissal this month of the Gdansk Governor Maciej Plazynski, who has links to Solidarity. The protesters carried banners with the slogans "Free Gdansk of Commies" and "Abolish the SLD--They also have debts." The police did not intervene. The same day, the government earmarked 2 million zlotys ($740,740) to fight unemployment in the Gdansk region, Polish dailies reported. -- Jakub Karpinski CZECH GOVERNMENT PROGRAM READY. The Czech government on 17 July approved the official version of its program, which Prime Minister Vaclav Klaus is to present to the parliament on 23 July, Czech media reported. Klaus told journalists the same day that the government will make the text of the program available to all six parliamentary caucuses before that legislative session. The opposition Social Democrats (CSSD) had threatened to vote against the government program unless they had a chance to study it before 23 July. Meanwhile, the government is ignoring the CSSD's opposition to a coalition agreement on the large-scale restitution of Catholic Church property. The agreement was signed on 17 July, prompting renewed CSSD threats to vote against the government. -- Jiri Pehe GERMAN CHANCELLOR CASTS DOUBT ON SLOVAKIA'S EU MEMBERSHIP. Helmut Kohl on 16 July told Austria's ORF TV that conditions for Slovakia's entry to the EU have not "improved but have rather worsened," Narodna obroda reported two days later. "I deeply regret that Slovakia's internal development is very harmful with regard to this matter," Kohl said. At the same time, he praised the progress being made in Slovenia. Democratic Union deputy Eduard Kukan, noting that Slovakia is no longer among the first group for NATO membership, told Sme that the government must change its policies. In other news, Slovak youth organizations allied to both coalition and opposition parties on 17 July sent a letter to the U.S. Congress asking that Slovakia be included in the first wave of NATO expansion. A bill drafted in January by Republicans lists only the Czech Republic, Poland, and Hungary as the top candidates. -- Sharon Fisher SLOVAK PRESIDENT SIGNS TERRITORIAL ADMINISTRATION LAW. Michal Kovac on 17 July signed a law defining the areas of competence of regions and districts under Slovakia's new territorial reform, CTK reported. Although he called the law "too centrist," he opted not to veto it because, he said, this would create "serious problems" given that the law outlining the country's new administrative division has already been approved twice. The opposition has said it will appeal to the Constitutional Court. In other news, a private individual called Ladislav Babiak has established a new foundation called "Kvietok" aimed at forcing Kovac out of office. Babiak intends to give financial support to experts and journalists who write against Kovac. He said he was not afraid that Kvietok would be abolished under the new law on foundations, which does not allow foundations to support political aims. "The foundation does not serve political goals but the protection of human rights," Babiak told CTK. -- Sharon Fisher SLOVAK PRIME MINISTER ON SECRET SERVICE. Speaking on Slovak TV on 17 July, Vladimir Meciar said the post-revolution Czechoslovak counter- intelligence service, the FBIS, had planned to murder him before the 1992 elections. The FBIS treated us as "extremists," Meciar said, adding that "I was supposed to be arrested, and there even exists evidence that they prepared my murder." He alleged that there is no proof that the Slovak Information Service (the FBIS's successor) participated in last August's abduction of the president's son. And he stressed that it is not even clear whether it really was an abduction. -- Sharon Fisher HUNGARIAN POLICE INVESTIGATES SALE OF BABIES TO U.S. COUPLES. Hungarian police are investigating a scheme whereby Hungarian pregnanat women traveled to the U.S. to give up their babies for large sums of money, Hungarian media reported. Last month, U.S. federal officials filed a criminal complaint against Marianne Gati, a U.S. citizen living in California who is accused of running the baby selling ring. Gati and her Hungarian associates reportedly brought 30 Hungarian women into the US over the past two years. The women received $1,000 for dark-skinned children and $12,000 for white- skinned ones. Gati then sold the babies for $20,000 to Americans couples. One of her main liaisons in Hungary was the well-known physician Endre Czeizel. While arranging adoptions for a fee is not illegal in California, paying mothers is considered an offense. -- Zsofia Szilagyi SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE HOLBROOKE IN BELGRADE. U.S. envoy Richard Holbrooke emerged from a four-hour meeting with Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic on 17 July saying their talks were "inconclusive" but giving no other details. The talks had focused on Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic and Milosevic's role in removing him from public life. Reuters quoted the U.S. envoy as saying "I cannot tell you we made any progress today, and I will not characterize the talks except to say they were inconclusive." Holbrooke, who later traveled to Zagreb, is to return to Belgrade on 18 July before returning to Washington. -- Stan Markotich BOSNIAN FEDERATION TO RECEIVE $400 MILLION IN U.S. MILITARY AID. The Bosnian Federation signed an agreement for $400 million in U.S. military aid to ensure a military balance between the Muslim-Croatian federation and the Republika Srpska, Reuters reported on 16 July. The "Equip and Train" program was scheduled to start after the Muslims and Croats agreed on a controversial defense law merging their armies. It will run for 13 months with the option of a one-year extension. All equipment is to be delivered before the mandate of the NATO-led force in Bosnia expires in December 1996. -- Daria Sito Sucic MUSLIMS HARASS SARAJEVO SERBS. Alexander Ivanko, spokesman for the UN's International Police Task Force, said that violence against Serbs in the Sarajevo suburbs is getting worse, Onasa reported on 16 July. He stressed that the Bosnian government is doing nothing about it, although it has the means to do so and claims that it still believes in a multi-ethnic state. There are 8,000-10,000 Serbs left; they resisted intimidation from other Serbs to force them to leave at the beginning of the year, when the suburbs passed from Serbian to government control. The governing Muslim Party of Democratic Action has been accused by the opposition of trying to populate the suburbs with Muslim refugees from eastern Bosnia and other Serb-held areas, thereby consolidating ethnic cleansing and the division of Bosnia into three nationalist states. -- Patrick Moore BOSNIAN SHORTS. International forensic experts have to date exhumed 86 bodies of Muslim males from a site near Srebrenica, while 13 bodies have been removed from another mass grave near Sarajevo, news agencies reported on 17 July. The international community's High Representative Carl Bildt noted that 68 war criminals remain free: 50 in the Republika Srpska, 15 in the Croat-Muslim federation, and three in rump Yugoslavia. Following a series of incidents in which peacekeepers have caught Serbs and Muslims moving heavy weapons out of assigned areas, a diplomat in Vienna told AFP that the Serbs are "abusing" a clause in the Dayton treaty by claiming that some 300 tanks, 150 armored vehicles, and 800 pieces of artillery are awaiting export. -- Patrick Moore MACEDONIAN BORDER POLICE CONFISCATE ALBANIAN-LANGUAGE HUMAN RIGHTS LITERATURE. Macedonian border police have confiscated 225 Albanian- language texts on human rights, international agencies reported. The Albanian Helsinki Human Rights Committee was trying to bring the material into the country. The group said the confiscated texts included documents issued by the OSCE and the Council of Europe as well as the constitutions of West European countries. They were bound for ethnic Albanian educational and cultural institutions in Macedonia. Police said they confiscated the material suspecting it to be "illegal literature." The Helsinki Committee called on the Macedonian authorities to ensure freedom of information. -- Fabian Schmidt SLOVENIA WANTS NORMALIZATION OF RELATIONS WITH RUMP YUGOSLAVIA. Milan Kucan on 17 July met in Ljubljana with Dusan Mihailovic, leader of the New Democracy party, which is a de facto wing of Milosevic's Socialist Party of Serbia in the Serbian legislature. Nasa Borba quoted Kucan as stressing that the normalization of bilateral relations with Belgrade was among Ljubljana's priorities. Mihailovic noted that this was also a priority for his party. When asked whether his visit could be somehow linked to his earlier talks with Milosevic, Mihailovic said that was not the case and that an earlier visit to Belgrade had the "nature of a fact-finding" mission. -- Stan Markotich ROMANIA RECEIVES MOST-FAVORED-NATION STATUS. The House of Representatives on 17 July voted to grant Romania permanent most- favored-nation status, Romanian media reported. The Senate must also vote on the issue before President Bill Clinton signs the bill. Until now, Romania's status was subject to yearly revision. Former US Ambassador to Romania David Funderburk, who was opposed to Romania's status being upgraded, had argued that the voted should be postponed until after the Romanian elections to avoid its being exploited by the ruling coalition. He added that President Ion Iliescu's regime "does not have a democratic bone in its whole body." Visiting Foreign Minister Teodor Melescanu met the same day with his American counterpart, Warren Christopher, to discuss Romania's application to join NATO. Christopher said Bucharest has "done a great deal" to qualify for membership but stressed that no final decision had been made on which countries would be accepted. -- Michael Shafir ROMANIAN PARTY ATTACKS HUNGARY, HUNGARIAN MINORITY PARTY. The Party of Social Democracy in Romania (PSDR), the major partner in the ruling coalition, has attacked the Hungarian Democratic Federation of Romania's (UDMR) decision to include in its presidential election program the declaration recently issued in Budapest in support of autonomy for Hungarian ethnic minorities abroad (see OMRI Daily Digest, 9 July 1996). Romanian and international agencies quoted the PSDR as saying the UDMR's presidential campaign will be "financed by a foreign state, thus infringing on Romanian legal norms." It demanded that the UDMR renounce its decision and also protested the Budapest declaration, which, it said, aimed at "transforming national minority organizations into instruments of Hungary's policies." -- Michael Shafir BULGARIAN PARLIAMENT EVACUATED AFTER BOMB THREAT. The parliament building on 17 July was evacuated following a bomb threat, Pari reported. No bomb was found in the parliament building. An anonymous phone caller made the threat just hours after a bomb exploded in an underpass at the Palace of Culture causing damage estimated at 10-15 million leva ($52,000-79,000). Nobody was injured, although several hundred people were in a nearby club at the time. Police said it was the "first major terrorist attack in Bulgaria in a decade." So far nobody has claimed responsibility. -- Stefan Krause ALBANIAN SOCIALISTS THREATEN TO BOYCOTT LOCAL ELECTIONS. The Socialist Party on 17 July said it will not participate in local elections unless the electoral law is changed, the disputed "genocide law" abolished, and sufficient international observation during the ballot ensured, international agencies reported. One day earlier, President Sali Berisha had proposed holding multi-party talks to discuss the date of the ballot and the creation of a central election commission. The opposition described Berisha's proposal as "hasty and dubious" and called for a political dialogue among all parties in order to reach a consensus on measures ensuring fair and free elections. The opposition considers the local elections a test of the government's credibility after alleged manipulations in the 26 May parliamentary elections. -- Fabian Schmidt GREEKS PREVENT MACEDONIAN PLANE FROM TAKING OFF. Authorities on the island of Corfu on 17 July prevented a Macedonian plane from leaving the island because it carried the inscription "Palair Makedonija," international media reported. Palair Makedonija's chief executive Vanja Bitoljanu said the Greeks insisted that the name of the carrier be removed from the plane. The airport authorities allowed it to take off only after the inscription had been painted over. It was the first Palair flight to a Greek island since the signing of the bilateral interim accord in September 1995. -- Stefan Krause [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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