|The fool wonders, the wise man asks. - Benjamin Disraeli|
No. 142, Part I, 24 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 *********************************************************************** Available soon -- The OMRI Annual Survey of Eastern Europe and the Former Soviet Union -- "1995: Building Democracy." Published by M.E. Sharpe Inc., this 336-page yearbook provides a systematic and comprehensive review of the most pivotal events in the 27 countries of the former Communist bloc and former Soviet Union during 1995. Available to OMRI subscribers at a special price of $25 each (plus postage and handling). To order, please email your request to: email@example.com *********************************************************************** CENTRAL AND EASTERN EUROPE U.S. HOUSE CALLS FOR NATO EXPANSION. The House of Representatives on 23 July called for expansion of the military alliance and authorized up to $60 million to help Poland, the Czech Republic, and Hungary to prepare for membership, Reuters reported on 23 July. The leading applicant countries were said to have made the most progress on meeting NATO criteria. But the bill left the timetable for these countries' entry uncertain. According to the measure, which yet has to be taken up by the Senate, the aid could be extended to other countries of the region in the future upon the approval of the U.S. president. Representative Benjamin Gilman, who serves as chairman of the International Relations Committee, said neither the United States nor the new European democracies "can afford to wait any longer" and the bill was needed to keep pressure on the US administration to seek prompt enlargement of NATO. -- Zsofia Szilagyi UKRAINE READY TO NEGOTIATE WITH RUSSIA. Foreign Minister Hennadii Udovenko said Ukraine has invited Russia to restart negotiations in all areas of cooperation, UNIAN reported on 23 July. He said there are plans to invite his Russian counterpart, Yevgenii Primakov, to Ukraine. In addition, activities of a joint commission headed by the prime ministers of Russia and Ukraine are to be stepped up, Ukrainian Prime Minister Pavlo Lazarenko is to pay an official visit to Russia, and negotiations on border issues should begin. During the Russian elections, there was no progress in negotiations on the long-delayed treaty on friendship and cooperation. It is hoped that headway on the treaty will be made when Yeltsin meets with his Ukrainian counterpart Leonid Kuchma in August during his inauguration in Moscow. -- Ustina Markus UKRAINIAN COAL MINERS DEMAND RELEASE OF ARRESTED UNION LEADERS. Two coal mines held a day-long strike and nearly 1,000 miners held a rally in Krasnodon to demand the release of two local union leaders arrested for organizing recent strikes in the country's coal mining region, Ukrainian agencies reported on 22-23 July. Petro Kyt and Mykhailo Skrynsky, local independent miners' union leaders, were arrested on 18 July and charged with disrupting public order by organizing illegal mass strikes and blocking railroads. The latest round of strikes by coal mines demanding payment of back wages owed them by the Ukrainian government ended recently when the miners and Kyiv signed an agreement outlining a payment schedule. In the meantime, Ukrainian radio reported on 22 July that the government had allocated 1 trillion karbovantsi ($5.4 million) for payment of wage arrears to employees of the mine-construction industry and for the industry's restructuring. -- Chrystyna Lapychak BELARUSIAN PRESIDENT IN TURKEY. Alyaksandr Lukashenka arrived in Turkey on 24 June for a three-day official visit to sign a treaty on friendship and cooperation, ITAR-TASS reported. Lukashenka is to meet with his Turkish counterpart Suleiman Demirel to conclude agreements on double taxation, cooperation in tourism and in fighting organized crime, drug trafficking, and terrorism. A Turkish bank will offer Belarus a $20 million credit. -- Ustina Markus RUSSIAN DEPUTY PRIME MINISTER IN BELARUS. Russian deputy Prime Minister Aleksei Bolshakov was in Minsk on 22 July for talks on problems with the Russian-Belarusian customs union, Russian Public Television reported. Minsk has asked Moscow to impose tariffs on practically all imported consumer goods because it wants to protect its own producers from competition from cheaper imports. Moscow is unwilling to do that, and the customs union appears to be threatened. The visit comes after Belarusian President Alyaksandr Lukashenka criticized Russia for not honoring the terms of the union, and failing to write off Belarus's gas debt even though Minsk allows Russian troops to remain in Belarus free of charge. -- Ustina Markus SEVASTOPOL OPENED TO FOREIGN SHIPPING. Sevastopol has opened its port to foreign non-military shipping, AFP reported on 23 July. The city had been closed to foreigners until last year as a security precaution because it was the main base of the Black Sea Fleet. The city's authorities have decided to develop it as a tourist attraction and commercial seaport. -- Ustina Markus ESTONIA'S COALITION AND PROGRESS PARTIES SIGN COOPERATION AGREEMENT. The Coalition Party and the Progress Party (Arengupartei) signed a cooperation agreement on 23 July in Tallinn, ETA reported. The two parties could not forge a formal alliance for the October local elections because the Progress Party had not officially registered with the National Election Committee by the 17 July deadline. It has only 260 members and 1,000 members were needed in order to register. The party was founded in late May by former members of the Center Party dissatisfied with the return of Edgar Savisaar as that party's leader. Coalition Party head Tiit Vahi said that its ruling alliance partner, the Reform Party, had approved the cooperation agreement. -- Saulius Girnius EXTRADITION OF WAR CRIMINALS TO LITHUANIA DEMANDED. The public Baltic Unity Organization (BVO) demanded on 22 July that war criminals Petras Raslanas and Noachim Dusanski be extradited from Russia and Israel, respectively, to Lithuania, BNS reported the next day. They are accused of participating in the NKVD -organized murder of 74 people in the Rainiai forest in 1941. Noting that the Simon Wiesenthal Center had successfully prosecuted a number of people involved in the killing of Jews in Nazi-occupied countries, BVO Chairman Vytautas Nezgada said that the center could aid in extraditing the two war criminals and clarifying crimes committed against other nationalities. At the end of June, 10 Seimas opposition deputies circulated a statement urging President Algirdas Brazauskas to demand the extradition of Raslanas and Dusanski. -- Saulius Girnius POLISH ECONOMIC RECOVERY CONTINUES. Preliminary data for the first half of 1996 released 23 July by the Central Statistical Office show continued strong economic growth in Poland. Polish dailies reported the following day that industrial production was up 7.9% and real wages grew by 6.1% over mid-1995 levels, while the unemployment rate fell to 14.8%, its lowest level since 1992. However, consumer prices during the first half of the year rose by 11.4%, while the trade deficit climbed to $2.6 billion. While above-forecast figures for inflation, the trade deficit, real wage growth, and the government budget deficit suggest that the Polish economy may be overheating, they are not dramatically out of line with last year's numbers. Likewise, the Polish economy appears to be on track for realizing the official forecast of 5.5-6.0% real GDP growth in 1996. The Polish economic recovery, which began in 1992, is the longest and most durable in Eastern Europe. -- Ben Slay CZECH PRESIDENT URGES OPPOSITION TO APPROVE GOVERNMENT. Vaclav Havel, in a speech to the parliament on 23 July, urged opposition deputies to approve the minority coalition government led by Vaclav Klaus, Czech media reported. Havel argued that the government's composition and program were good, and should be given a chance. The opposition Social Democrats (CSSD) have threatened to vote against the government, the main sticking point being its plan to return, by decree, a large number of properties to the Catholic Church. The CSSD proposed on 23 July that the parliament approve a resolution taking the restitution of Church property out of the government's hands and requesting that the parliament first approve a special restitution law. However, the parliament would not put the proposal on the agenda of its current session, giving the government a surprising victory. -- Jiri Pehe SLOVAK PRIVATIZATION TO CONTINUE DESPITE CONTROVERSY. National Property Fund (FNM) Presidium President Stefan Gavornik told Slovak Radio on 23 July that direct sale privatization projects will continue although the opposition remains unrepresented on the FNM's boards. During June's coalition crisis, Prime Minister Vladimir Meciar reportedly signed an agreement with the opposition Party of the Democratic Left (SDL) guaranteeing that privatization would be halted until the FNM boards are reconstructed. Gavornik stressed "it is not possible to stop the privatization processsince the Presidium's most important role is to issue decisions on direct sale privatization projects." The FNM Presidium is expected to decide on about 30 direct sale privatization projects on 25 July. Meanwhile, SDL deputy chairwoman Brigita Schmoegnerova said that if Meciar breaks his pledge, her party will publish the agreement's contents, Narodna obroda reported on 23 July. -- Sharon Fisher SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE BOMB EXPLODES AT UN POLICE STATION ON SERB TERRITORY. An explosive device went off late on 22 July outside an International Police Task Force (IPTF) office in Doboj in northern Bosnia, news agencies reported. There were no injuries or casualties. The IPTF monitors local police forces and will play a key security role in the fall elections. The latest bombing fits into a pattern of intimidation and threats against the IPTF on Bosnian Serb territory. -- Patrick Moore SERBS ALREADY BREAKING LATEST ELECTION AGREEMENT. The governing Serbian Democratic Party (SDS) has used Radovan Karadzic as a vote-getter in an ad in Vesti, a daily aimed at Serbs living abroad, Onasa reported on 22 July. The text appealed for votes for some of his staunch supporters, including acting President Billjana Plavsic, parliament speaker Momcilo Krajisnik, and Foreign Minister Aleksa Buha. The ad said that "they are the closest partners of Radovan Karadzic, who is the best fighter for a free and democratic Republika Srpska. Our enemies hate him because he cannot be blackmailed and because he will not sell at any price the Republika Srpska, which was obtained [so] painfully. He is a symbol of Serb heroism and many rightly compare him to the greatest figures of our history," Beta stated. U.S. envoy Richard Holbrooke clinched a deal on 19 July requiring the indicted war criminal and SDS chairman to withdraw from politics--including media appearances--so that the 14 September elections can go ahead with SDS participation. The OSCE said it will raise the issue with the SDS, Reuters reported. -- Patrick Moore UN STARTS WORK ON THIRD MASS GRAVE. International forensic and archeological experts began work on 24 July on a third site believed to contain the remains of Muslim males executed by the Serbs following the fall of Srebrenica one year ago. Evidence from other graves points to a huge massacre of civilians, many of whom had their hands wired together behind their backs. The Serbs claim that the men are military casualties, but chief investigator William Haglund told Reuters: "I don't know how many soldiers fight with their hands tied behind them." But a local Serb resident said that "there are bodies there. We plow them up all the time, but they are all of Serbs whom the Turks [Muslims] killed. Why is it that the world blames us Serbs, when everyone was involved in a war?" -- Patrick Moore EU TRIES TO NEGOTIATE AFTER CROATIAN BOYCOTT OF MOSTAR CITY COUNCIL. At a meeting with Michael Steiner, deputy to the international community's High Representative Carl Bildt, and EU envoy Tom Bolster, Croatian Democratic Community (HDZ) leader Mile Puljic, whose party boycotted the opening session of the Mostar City Council on 23 July, claimed he did not receive proper notification of the session, AFP reported. After the meeting with international officials, Puljic said that the "conversation wasn't fruitful." EU spokesman Tom Walker said there was no sign that an agreement was imminent, Reuters reported. The HDZ is pushing for a joint interim administrative body that would run the city pending a final decision on whether to annul the controversial 30 June elections. Meanwhile, Croat West Mostar mayor Mijo Brajkovic said that "whatever the [new city] council decided today is completely irrelevant for us" and threatened not to extend the EU administration's mandate. -- Fabian Schmidt BRUSSELS CONFERENCE ON BOSNIA'S RECONSTRUCTION OPENS. Representatives of 200 European companies and banks on 23 July attended the meeting called by the European Commission to bid for Bosnia's reconstruction program, Nasa Borba reported. Hans Van den Brock, EU commissioner for central and southeast Europe, said the success of Bosnia's reconstruction will greatly determine the future and even survival of Bosnia-Herzegovina as a state. Van den Brock also said that the war damage in Bosnia- Herzegovina has been estimated to be between $30 and $50 billion. The international community has pledged $5 billion for reconstruction of Bosnia, of which $1.8 billion will be spent by the end of 1996. More than one third of this amount has been pledged by the EU. U.S. companies have already started business negotiations in Bosnia. -- Daria Sito Sucic BOSNIAN DELEGATION IN SERBIA. Bosnian Vice-President Ejup Ganic led 15- member delegation that arrived in Belgrade on 23 July for a landmark visit designed to restore contacts and promote bilateral trade, Nasa Borba reported on 24 July. The arrival of the Bosnian delegation is the first such since war broke out in Bosnia and Herzegovina four years ago, and observers have hailed the development as the first significant step towards possible mutual reconciliation. Ganic, who met with Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic, said just prior to departing that his was a "risky step for me but a very sure and safe step for Bosnia," Reuters reported. Ganic, who advocated strong military resistance to Serbian aggression, was throughout the conflict dubbed "a war criminal" by the Belgrade state-run media. After meeting with Milosevic, Ganic remarked that talks were "open, straightforward. The two countries are closer than they were before." -- Stan Markotich LJUBLJANA, BELGRADE TAKE SHOWDOWN TO OFFSHORE BANKS? Belgrade's assets in Cyprus have been frozen by court order, Nasa Borba reported first on 22 July. Beobank director Borka Vucic initially responded saying "our resources are not blockaded." Reuters, however, quoted Cypriot lawyer Evros Evripido, acting for the Slovenian government, as saying on 22 July that Ljubljana was seeking its share of assets, totaling some $650 million. Efforts to freeze the assets stemmed from the position that as a former Yugoslav republic, Slovenia had both a right and obligation to maintain a portion of those federal assets now hidden on Cyprus. The issue of resources in Cyprus is of paramount concern to Belgrade, which likely weathered the storm of sanctions by dipping into the cash reserves ensconced on the island. Slovenia's case is slated for a 29 July hearing, and on 23 July Nasa Borba added that other claimants are surfacing. -- Stan Markotich ROMANIA FEARS NATO BASES IN HUNGARY. Defense Minister Gheorghe Tinca said in an interview with the Hungarian daily Magyar Nemzet that his country fears that the setting up of NATO bases on Hungarian territory might encourage "Hungarian extremist forces," the daily Evenimentul zilei reported on 24 July. Tinca said these forces might believe the NATO presence would make it possible for them to achieve "their decades- long dream" of "recuperating Transylvania." -- Michael Shafir UNEMPLOYMENT IN MOLDOVA. According to data released by the Moldovan State Statistics Department, 26,100 persons were officially registered as unemployed, two thirds of whom were women, Infotag reported on 23 July. About 28% of those unemployed receive unemployment benefits averaging 68 lei (about $15.50) per month. In addition, 124,000 persons were on forced leave, the average duration of which is 39 days. -- Michael Shafir SOCIALIST CANDIDATE BARRED FROM BULGARIAN PRESIDENTIAL ELECTIONS. A decision of the Constitutional Court on 23 July effectively prevents Foreign Minister Georgi Pirinski from seeking the country's presidency, RFE/RL reported. Under the constitution, the president must be "Bulgarian by birth." Pirinski, who was born in New York in 1948 to the family of a Bulgarian emigre, could not acquire immediate Bulgarian citizenship under the citizenship law valid at that time since he already had U.S. citizenship by birth. Nine of the 12 judges ruled that whether someone is "Bulgarian by birth" is determined by the legislation valid at his birth. The opposition had asked the court to rule on the question. Judge Ivan Grigorov said the ruling was not directed against any single person. Pirinski can still be registered with the Central Electoral Commission, but his candidacy could then be overruled by the commission or the Supreme Court. -- Stefan Krause BULGARIAN SOCIALISTS SAY PIRINSKI REMAINS THEIR CANDIDATE. The Bulgarian Socialist Party (BSP) reacted harshly to the latest Constitutional Court ruling. The BSP daily Duma called the decision political and claimed that the judges violated the constitution. BSP parliamentary faction leader Krasimir Premyanov said Pirinski remains the party's candidate despite the Constitutional Court's ruling, but Kontinent cites unnamed sources as saying the BSP is already looking for a new candidate. Pirinski himself has not commented on the ruling so far, but he is expected to make a statement on 24 July. Pirinski is widely seen as the only Socialist candidate who can win the presidential elections in the fall. The Union of Democratic Forces daily Demokratsiya called on the BSP to withdraw Pirinski's candidacy and said the BSP should not have nominated him in the first place if it is worried about society's stability. -- Stefan Krause ROMA COVERED WITH FUEL AND BURNT IN ALBANIA. At least four men on 17 July kidnapped three teenage Roma near Tirana's train station, took them to a field outside the city, robbed and then tortured them for some three hours, the European Roma Rights Center reported on 22 July. They reportedly then poured gas over the head of 15-year-old Fatmir Haxhiu and set him on fire. He was able to testify to human rights organizations before he died of severe injuries on 21 July. Two of the culprits have reportedly been arrested. There was no independent confirmation of the incident. -- Fabian Schmidt [As of 12:00 CET] Compiled by Carla Atkinson ------------------------------------------------------------------------ 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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