|To appreciate nonsense requires a serious interest in life. - Gelett Burgess|
No. 139, Part I, 19 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 SECURITY COUNCIL ORDERS "EMERGENCY MEASURES"... The National Security Council ordered the government to draft by 1 October a plan aimed at eliminating the country's gray economic market and clearing its huge arrears in welfare and wage payments, Ukrainian agencies reported on 18 July. The resolution was in response to the recent attempted assassination of Prime Minister Pavlo Lazarenko, which is believed to have been related to his efforts to clean up the coal industry. The council also called on the Ukrainian Security Service to begin work on setting up a national anti-terrorism center and proposed stiffer penalties for organized crime and stricter measures against terrorism. Council chairman Volodymyr Horbulin added that the administration was planning to crack down on extremist political parties, especially those with paramilitary formations, that pose a "threat to national security." Among them, Horbulin said, would be the right-wing ultranationalist Ukrainian National Self-Defense Organization. -- Chrystyna Lapychak ...WHILE DEMOCRATS WARN AGAINST CRACKDOWN. Democratic lawmakers and activists have warned that the Ukrainian government may use the 18 July attack on Premier Pavlo Lazarenko as an excuse to crack down on its political foes and grab more control of the economy, Ukrainian agencies reported on 18 July. Although he believes the attempted assassination was destabilizing, Democratic Party chief Volodymyr Yavorivsky said some of council's emergency measures "could antagonize the whole world." Instead of cracking down on the gray market, he commented, the government should "give the people more economic freedom." -- Chrystyna Lapychak ESTONIA, BRITAIN STEP UP POLITICAL COOPERATION. Minister of State at the British Foreign and Commonwealth Office Sir Nicholas Bonsor held talks in Tallinn on 18 July with Estonian Premier and Foreign Minister Tiit Vahi, BNS reported. They discussed Estonia's accession to the EU, while Bonsor noted that the British parliament would ratify Estonia's association agreement with the EU in its fall session. Bonsor, who coordinates relations with Central and East European countries, underscored that the door to NATO must be open to all applicants but that these must give something in return. Education Minister Jaak Aaviksoo and Bonsor signed an agreement on cooperation in education, science, and culture. -- Saulius Girnius TAIWAN WANTS TO IMPROVE RELATIONS WITH LATVIA. A delegation of 11 Taiwanese parliamentary deputies began a four-day visit to Latvia on 16 July to discuss with Saeima deputies the prospects for increasing political and economic cooperation. One member of the Taiwanese delegation, speaking at a press conference on 18 July, suggested that Latvia open a representation in Taiwan because potential investors lack information about the state. The delegation wants to sign an agreement on avoiding double taxation with Latvia because it can be done without government-level relations. Taiwan has such agreements with many Western countries and is currently negotiating similar ones with Germany and Poland. Possible areas of Taiwanese investment are tourism. paper production, forest industry, and telecommunications as well as the planned economic free zone in Liepaja. -- Saulius Girnius IAEA DIRECTOR IN LITHUANIA. International Atomic Energy Agency Director- General Hans Blix met with President Algirdas Brazauskas in Vilnius on 17 July to discuss the safety and future of the atomic power plant at Ignalina and the state of the republic's entire energy system, Radio Lithuania reported. In talks with Prime Minister Mindaugas Stankevicius the next day, Blix noted that Lithuania resembled France in that it received more than 80% of its electricity from nuclear power. He expressed satisfaction with the current safety situation at the Ignalina plant, which he visited, but added that old-style reactors should be replaced and not merely modernized. -- Saulius Girnius POLISH FOREIGN MINISTER IN IRELAND, PRESIDENT IN U.S. Polish Foreign Minister Dariusz Rosati arrived in Dublin for a one-day visit on 18 July, Polish media reported. Rosati met with Irish Prime Minister John Bruton and Foreign Minister Dick Spring to discuss EU issues. Ireland currently holds the rotating EU presidency. Rosati proposed that East European security be based on three pillars: an expanded NATO, the OSCE, and special relations between NATO and Russia. Meanwhile, Polish President Aleksander Kwasniewski arrived on a private visit to the U.S to attend the Olympic Games in Atlanta. Kwasniewski was minister for sports during the 1980s. -- Jakub Karpinski SLOVAK PRESIDENT PARDONS SON'S ASSOCIATES. Michal Kovac told RFE/RL's Slovak Service on 17 July that he has pardoned two of his son's former business associates to allow them to testify before German courts. Munich police want to question the two men--along with Kovac's son--in connection with the $2.3 million fraud case involving the Bratislava- based Technopol trade firm. But charges have also been filed against the three men in Slovakia, and Slovak border guards recently confiscated Kovac Jr.'s passport when he tried to travel to Germany. Noting that the Technopol case has been politicized, Kovac told RFE/RL that "it seems that [Slovak authorities] are not interested in a quick conclusion." Kovac decided not to pardon his son for the time being in the hope that his passport will be returned and he will be allowed to travel to Germany. -- Sharon Fisher SLOVAK OFFICIALS REACT TO GERMAN CHANCELLOR'S STATEMENTS. Representatives of the ruling Movement for a Democratic Slovakia (HZDS) on 18 July criticized Helmut Kohl's recent statements casting doubt on Slovakia's prospects for EU membership, Narodna obroda reported. Parliamentary Foreign Affairs Committee chairman Dusan Slobodnik stressed that "Kohl is not an expert on Slovakia." Jan Cuper, the HZDS's legal expert, blamed the opposition for Kohl's remarks, adding that "we will be acceptable to Kohl when we raise the privatization activity of German capital to the level of the Czech Republic." Meanwhile, Austrian Foreign Ministry State Secretary Benita Ferrero-Waldner, during a visit to Bratislava on 18 July, stressed that Slovakia's political shortcomings can be corrected within several months if the "political will" exists. She said Vienna holds a "slightly different view" of Slovakia's chances for EU membership from Kohl's. -- Sharon Fisher HUNGARY BANS IMPORT OF LIVE ANIMALS FROM BALKANS. The Ministry of Agriculture has banned the import of live animals and animal-derived products from several countries in the Balkans for an indefinite period, Hungarian media reported on 18 July. The ban comes in the wake of the outbreak of hoof-and-mouth disease in Albania, Greece, Macedonia, Serbia, and Turkey. At the same time, customs authorities have begun strict checks on food packages carried by tourists crossing the Ukrainian, Romanian, and Serbian borders. They will confiscate products that are potential carriers of viruses. -- Zsofia Szilagyi HUNGARIAN POLICE CORRUPTION ON THE RISE. According to a recent police report, corruption among policemen on duty is increasing, Magyar Hirlap reported on 18 July. Policemen often fail to issue receipts or tend to strike bargains when imposing fines for traffic violations. The opposition has repeatedly voiced concern about worsening public security, the growth of black market activities, and mafia operations. -- Zsofia Szilagyi SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE HOLBROOKE GETS DEAL ON KARADZIC... U. S. special envoy Richard Holbrooke told CNN on 19 July that he has obtained an agreement in Belgrade to remove indicted war criminal Radovan Karadzic from Bosnian Serb politics. Following a second and unexpected round of talks between Holbrooke and Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic, Karadzic signed a text saying he will withdraw "immediately and permanently [from all] political activities," including public appearances and interviews as well as state and party offices. Holbrooke summed up the agreement with the words that Karadzic's "political career came to an end last night." This opens the way for Robert Frowick, the OSCE's administrator of the 14 September elections, to authorize the participation of the Serbian Democratic Party (SDS) in the vote. Frowick had threatened to ban the SDS from the ballot if it continued to have an indicted war criminal as chairman. -- Patrick Moore ...BUT WILL IT STICK? Holbrooke also told CNN on 19 July that he has "no guarantee" that the latest agreement will work. He noted that Karadzic could still exercise considerable power from behind the scenes in a Bosnian version of what he called the "Pol Pot problem." He was referring to the fact that the Cambodian mass murderer withdrew from public life in the late 1970s but continued to control the Khmer Rouge through hidden channels. Holbrooke might have added that the people with whom he talked in Belgrade have made and broken agreements time and again. On the positive side, however, the envoy pointed out that the Serbs are fully aware of the "very serious consequences" they will face if they break their word, which presumably means renewed economic sanctions. He also stated that Bosnian Vice President Ejup Ganic will soon lead an economic delegation to Belgrade and that this shows that Serbia is serious about its relations with Bosnia-Herzegovina. -- Patrick Moore SERBS DEMAND EXTENSION OF UN MANDATE IN EASTERN SLAVONIA, TUDJMAN REFUSES. Serbs in eastern Slavonia on 18 July sent a letter to the UN Security Council asking the UN mandate in the area to be extended by one year, Nasa Borba reported. The mandate is due to expire in January. The letter cited Croatia's "lack of cooperation" and claimed that Zagreb is seeking to avoid implementing the accord with the Serbs. But Croatian President Franjo Tudjman, meeting on 17 July with U.S. special envoy Richard Holbrooke, said that extension of the UN mandate was out of the question. He underscored the importance of holding elections in the area in December and that these elections take place in accordance with Croatian laws and the 1991 census. -- Daria Sito Sucic BIG FIRE DAMAGES WESTERN MOSTAR RADIO. A large fire on 18 July caused serious damage to the buildings of local Croatian radio and television, AFP reported. No one was injured, and the fire was put out within hours. EU officials suspected no foul play behind the incident, but a team is investigating. A book shop and an alternative theater in the same building were also damaged. -- Fabian Schmidt CONTROVERSY IN MONTENEGRIN LEGISLATURE. The Montenegrin Assembly on 18 July passed a law delineating 14 electoral districts for the upcoming ballot in the republic. Before the vote took place, deputies from three opposition parties--the People's Party, the Liberal Alliance of Montenegro, and the Social Democratic Party--walked out in protest, declaring that the division of the country into electoral districts was a ploy on the part of the ruling Democratic Party of Socialists to stay in power, Nasa Borba reported on 19 July. The three parties have vowed to unite in a "national salvation coalition" to contest the elections. Meanwhile, Montena-fax reported that the ballot seems likely to take place on 17 November. -- Stan Markotich BOMB ATTACK ON CROATIAN HUMAN RIGHTS ACTIVIST. A group of unidentified persons detonated a bomb close to the island home of Ivan Zvonimir Cicak, president of the Croatian Helsinki Committee for Human Rights, during the night from 17-18 July, Beta reported. Cicak and his family were spending vacation on Brac. Police said the group employed explosive materials designed for commercial use. The committee issued a statement saying the bomb was an act of intimidation resulting from the intensive campaign against the committee carried out by the state-controlled media. -- Daria Sito Sucic SERBIAN GENERAL APPEARS IN SLOVENIAN COURT. Milan Aksentijevic, a former Yugoslav army general, appeared in a Ljubljana district court on 18 July to answer questions about his alleged role in leading troops in campaigns against Slovenia during the 1991 war (see OMRI Daily Digest, 15 July 1996). Aksentijevic's hearing is the first of its kind in independent Slovenia's history. STA reported the court would announce its verdict "within 48 hours." -- Stan Markotich ROMANIAN GOVERNMENT IRKED BY ROYAL VISIT. The Romanian authorities were irritated by the warm reception extended to Anne of Bourbon-Parma, former King Michael's spouse, and their eldest daughter, Princess Margaret, during their visit this week to Romania, local media and Reuters reported. President Ion Iliescu told a press conference in Bucharest on 18 July that Romania was a republic and "has no queen." One day earlier, the government issued a statement saying the behavior of local officials during the visit was "in total contravention of the country's constitutional norms." It added that it reserved "the right to sanction, in accordance with the law, those attitudes, which run counter to the status of civil servants." Romanian mayors, however, do not have the status of civil servants. The daily Ziua reported on 18 July that on the last day of their visit, Orthodox Church Patriarch Teoctist in the southern town of Targoviste received the two visitors with ceremonies "reserved for reigning monarchs." -- Michael Shafir COLONEL REINSTATED AS TIRASPOL GARRISON COMMANDER. Col. Mikhail Bergman, who was dismissed by former Russian Minister of Defense Pavel Grachev, has been reinstated as commander of the Tiraspol garrison, BASA-Press reported on 18 July. The agency quoted Bergman as saying that Igor Smirnov, "the impostor leader" of the Transdniester breakaway region, "can do no good for the people since he is held in the clutches" of Security Minister Vadim Shevtsov, former OMON head in Latvia. Shevtsov, Bergman added, "will never willingly renounce his powers." -- Michael Shafir BULGARIAN PARLIAMENT PASSES MEDIA LAW. Following debates over the past six years, the parliament on 18 July passed a controversial media law, Bulgarian media reported. The law provides for a National Radio and TV Council to oversee media operations and elect the directors-general of state radio and TV. Seven members will be appointed by the parliament and two each by the president and the government. Political parties, trade unions, religious groups, and non-profit organizations are not permitted to broadcast their own radio and TV programs, but political parties in the parliament will have the right to two monthly nationwide five-minute addresses on state media. TV and radio stations can be run by Bulgarian citizens, legal entities registered in Bulgaria under the commercial law, city councils, universities, or foreign broadcasters meeting the requirements of the new media law. One such requirements is that they incorporate themselves in Bulgaria. -- Stefan Krause FORMER BULGARIAN PREMIER REPLACED AS "TOPENERGY" BOSS. Andrey Lukanov on 18 July was removed as chairman of the board of directors of the Bulgaro-Russian "Topenergy" company, Pari reported. He is to be replaced by Iliya Pavlov, head of Multigroup, the biggest private business conglomerate in Bulgaria. Topenergy was founded in 1995 by Bulgargaz and Russia's Gazprom to coordinate Russian gas supplies to the Balkans. Lukanov is one of the most prominent opponents of Bulgarian Prime Minister Zhan Videnov, and his removal is expected to improve relations between Topenergy and the Bulgarian government. -- Stefan Krause ITALIAN FOREIGN MINISTER URGES NEW ELECTIONS IN ALBANIA... Lamberto Dini on 18 July urged the Albanian government to repeat May's disputed parliamentary elections, Reuters reported. Dini told his visiting Albanian counterpart, Tritan Shehu, that Italy wanted to see "a fully democratic dynamic in Albanian politics and the opening of a dialogue between the government and opposition." He added that such talks should "set out the political and electoral norms to allow a return to conditions of full democratic and constitutional normality, including the possibility of calling new elections in a reasonably short time." Dini also wanted to send special envoy Luigi Vittorio Ferraris to Albania to help in the process, Koha Jone reported on 19 July. -- Fabian Schmidt ...WHILE ALBANIAN PRESIDENT ANNOUNCES LOCAL ELECTIONS FOR OCTOBER. Sali Berisha, following round-table talks with the opposition on 18 July, announced that local elections will take place on one of the last two Sundays in October, Reuters reported. Socialist Party deputy leader Servet Pellumbi confirmed the decision, adding that fair local elections could help restore Albania's tarnished image. The round table will continue to discuss possible changes in the local election law. Zeri i Popullit on 19 July published a list of the Socialist Party's demands with regard to the local elections. Those include a review of the law on local administration, changes in the electoral law, the abolition of the disputed "genocide law," guarantees by police and the secret service not to interfere in the voting process, and sufficient logistical assistance from the OSCE and the Council of Europe in organizing the vote. -- 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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