|When in doubt, tell the truth. - Mark Twain|
No. 148, Part II, 1 August 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 ******************************************************************* EAST-CENTRAL EUROPE BELARUSIAN AUTHORITIES DENOUNCE ASYLUM SEEKERS. Mikhail Podhany, head of the political information department of the president's administration, has denied that Belarusian authorities are seeking opposition leaders Zyanon Paznyak or Syarhei Naumchyk, ITAR-TASS reported on 31 July. Paznyak and Naumchyk both applied for political asylum in the U.S. on 30 July, claiming they feared for their safety if they returned to Belarus because President Alyaksandr Lukashenka had issued a warrant for their arrest. Podhany said no death sentences have been passed on the two and that their request for asylum was motivated only by their desire to enjoy a comfortable life in the West as political refugees. Neither Paznyak nor Naumchyk has said an official death sentence was issued. Rather, they have maintained that the president would like to have them "neutralized." -- Ustina Markus BELARUSIAN PRESIDENT AGREES TO PRISONER SWAP. President Alyaksandr Lukashenka has given his preliminary approval to exchanging seven members of the Ukrainian National Assembly (UNA) currently detained in a Belarusian prison for 14 Russian border guards held prisoner by Chechens, Belarusian radio reported on 31 July. The UNA members were arrested for participating in the 26 April Chornobyl Day demonstrations in Belarus, which turned into an anti-Lukashenka rally. They have still been neither tried nor sentenced. Deputy head of UNA Dmytro Korchynsky was critical of Ukrainian officials for failing to secure the prisoners release, Ukrainian radio reported on 31 July. Ukraine's Foreign Ministry takes the official line that Ukrainians abroad must respect the laws of their host country. -- Ustina Markus UKRAINIAN PRESIDENT MEETS WITH RUSSIAN SPACE COMMANDER. Leonid Kuchma met with Russian commander of cosmic and armed forces Vladimir Ivanov in Crimea on 31 July, Ukrainian radio reported. Kuchma is currently vacationing on the peninsula. The meeting took place at the Russian's request. The two men discussed cooperation on space projects, particularly creating an area in space for peaceful purposes, joint testing of space equipment, and joint training. The same day, Ukrainian ministers and the president's administration met to discuss space issues, including the financing of the country's space industry. With some 80% of the state budget spent on social programs, only limited funds are available for subsidizing scientific research and development projects. -- Ustina Markus UKRAINE SIGNS TANK DEAL WITH PAKISTAN. Ukraine has signed a deal to sell more than 300 Ukrainian-built T-80 tanks to Pakistan, Reuters reported on 31 July. The deal is worth $550 million, and the tanks are to be delivered to Pakistan over a three-year period. The U.S. had stopped all military supplies to Pakistan in 1990, but the deal was made possible under the Pressler Amendment, which allows Islambalad a one-time exemption for weapons purchases, excluding F- 16 aircraft. Ukraine developed the tank at its plant in Kharkiv and first displayed it at an arms fair in Abu-Dhabi in March 1995. -- Ustina Markus ESTONIA TO EXPEL PEOPLE DENIED RESIDENCE PERMITS. Andres Kollist, head of the Citizenship and Migration Department, said on 31 July that his department will ask about 100 people to leave Estonia, BNS reported. Their applications for residence permits have been turned down because they supplied false information about themselves or because they had a criminal record. He said he hoped that they would the country peacefully and in a civilized manner. But he added that they would be forcibly expelled if they did not do so. Kollist said that a far greater problem was posed by the tens of thousands of illegal immigrants living in the country who have not applied for residence permits. -- Saulius Girnius LATVIAN UPDATE. A proposal by Latvia's Way to discuss "as an urgent matter" the transfer of the border guards from the jurisdiction of the Defense Ministry to that of the Interior Ministry has been rejected, BNS reported on 31 July. The issue will be considered, as scheduled, at the Saeima's fall session, BNS reported. The main reason for rejecting the proposal was the two ministries' failure to draft a program for an efficient transfer of jurisdiction. Defense Minister Andrejs Krastins favored the rapid transfer, arguing that the government will face difficulties in drafting next year's budget if the issue of the transfer is not resolved. -- Saulius Girnius LITHUANIAN PROGRAM FOR AGRICULTURAL DEVELOPMENT TO BE AMENDED. Agriculture Minister Vytautas Einoris has said that Lithuania's national agricultural development program will have to be changed to reflect more accurately changes that have occurred, BNS reported on 31 July. The program was approved by the government in 1993 and was to apply until 2005. Over the past three years, the number of land owners has increased while the area of farm land in use declined. The original program called for the production of 3.64 million tons of grain in 1995, but only 1.95 million tons were harvested. The production of 208,000 tons of meat and 2.3 million tons of milk in 1995 was far below the planned 319,000 tons and 2.3 million tons, respectively, Einoris said the revised program would reflect the real situation and that emphasis will be placed on increasing the competitiveness of food products, expanding exports, and creating new jobs in the agricultural sector. -- Saulius Girnius POLISH-U.S. AGREEMENT ON FIGHTING ORGANIZED CRIME. Leszek Miller, chief of the Polish Government's Office, signed an agreement on collaboration in fighting organized crime during his recent visit to the U.S., Polish dailies reported on 1 August. The agreement-- which provides for the exchange of information between the countries' police forces, treasuries, customs, border guards, and judiciaries--aims at preventing the smuggling of drugs, arms, and people as well as money-laundering. Miller noted that Poland is particularly threatened by drug smuggling and drug trafficking since it is on the crossroads of major communication routes. The FBI is to open a bureau in Warsaw this fall--its second in the former East bloc, after Moscow. A U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency bureau is also to be opened in Warsaw. -- Jakub Karpinski MOCK TV CREW FILMED DEMONSTRATION IN POLAND. Polish dailies reported on 1 August that a march in Gdansk last month to protest government policy in the region (see OMRI Daily Digest, 18 July 1996) was filmed by a mock TV crew. While the fakeTV reporters used a camera with TV Gdansk logo, the equipment was different from cameras used by the TV station, the press noted. The Gdansk daily Dziennik Baltycki suggested members of the Government Protection Office had imitated TV reporters, but a spokesman for the office denied that had been the case. The mock TV crew was filmed by real TV reporters whose superiors gave the order not to show the tape to anyone and not to talk with other media outlets. -- Jakub Karpinski SLOVAK GOVERNMENT RAISES ENERGY PRICES. As of 1 August, Slovak citizens will have to pay more for electricity, water, and fuel. Electricity prices are increasing by 5% for businesses and 10% for households, the cost of household water is rising from 4 to 5 crowns per cubic meter, and maximum prices for gasoline and diesel fuel are growing by 1.30 crowns per liter. Revenues from the electricity price increase will be used for investment in firms producing and distributing energy. Slovak Confederation of Trade Unions President Alojz Englis stressed on 31 July that the price increases are a violation of the social partnership between the government, unions, and employers, Praca reported. Englis said the government succumbed to the pressure of industry, transferring firms' problems to the population, "which is least able to defend itself." -- Sharon Fisher SLOVAK OPPOSITION CALLS FOR DEMOCRATIZATION. Party of the Democratic Left Deputy Chairman Peter Weiss told Narodna obroda on 1 August that his party is initiating talks with other opposition parties to coordinate foreign policy aimed at boosting Slovakia's NATO and the EU integration efforts. "If Prime Minister Vladimir Meciar does not want to go down in history as a man who damaged Slovakia's long-term interests, he has to take unavoidable democratic steps," Weiss stressed. In other news, police official Ondrej Laciak told TASR that it remains unclear whether the car explosion that killed former police officer Robert Remias was caused by someone or was a technical failure. The opposition called the death of Remias, who was connected to the kidnapping case of the president's son, the first political murder in Slovakia since 1989. -- Sharon Fisher SLOVAK CULTURE MINISTRY OFFICIAL CRITICIZES THEATER POLICY. Speaking on Radio Twist on 31 July, Olga Salagova, state secretary at the Culture Ministry, distanced herself from Culture Minister Ivan Hudec's controversial steps to merge Slovak's theaters and make personnel changes. Although Salagova recognized the need for change, she stressed that "we certainly could have found an easier path than that chosen by Hudec. I do not agree with it, and I distance myself from such actions. It is necessary to speak with our artists." She noted that despite her high ministerial position, she is "not allowed" to deal with the issue. Hudec told Slovenska Republika that the actors at the Slovak National Theater--several of whom have announced their resignations as a result of recent personnel changes--are behaving like "privileged children of the revolution." -- Sharon Fisher CIVIC ORGANIZATIONS ISSUE APPEAL FOR NUCLEAR-FREE HUNGARY. More than 40 Hungarian civic organizations have issued a statement expressing concern that the country's politicians have not dissociated themselves from a possible deployment of nuclear weapons on Hungarian soil, Hungarian radio reported on 30 July. The statement says that the deployment of nuclear weapons in Hungary would be tantamount to the country becoming a potential target for nuclear attack. Istvan Gyarmati, state secretary at the Ministry of Defense, responded by saying it is very important to hold a dialogue with civil organizations opposed to his government's plans. He added that Hungary is not interested in and cannot have partial NATO membership. "We want to be a member of NATO as soon as possible, for that would best guarantee the country's security. Stationing more and more nuclear weapons does not seem to be the current tendency in Europe, just the opposite. NATO's expansion is unlikely to change that," he commented. -- Zsofia Szilagyi SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE KORNBLUM MEETS WITH BOSNIAN SERBS. U.S. assistant Secretary of State for Canadian and European affairs John Kornblum on 31 July met with top Bosnian Serbs to remind them that indicted war criminal Radovan Karadzic must stay out of politics, AFP reported. A U.S. official said the talks focused on the need for the Bosnian Serb leadership to respect an agreement with U.S. envoy for Bosnia Richard Holbrooke on Karadzic's withdrawal from all political activities. However, Karadzic's photographs still appear in the Republika Srpska media, and he is reported to have attended closed meetings of the ruling Serbian Democratic Party. Last week Holbrooke announced that Kornblum would attempt to force Karadzic to leave his base in Pale, but press reports did not specify whether the issue was raised at the 31 July meeting. -- Daria Sito Sucic WORLD BANK APPROVES $75.6 MILLION FOR BOSNIA'S RECONSTRUCTION. The World Bank has agreed to grant Bosnia-Herzegovina $75.6 million in credits to finance five reconstruction programs, AFP reported on 31 July. The projects involve de-mining, housing reconstruction, electricity production, employment, and the demobilization and reintegration of 425,000 Bosnian army soldiers. The loans are interest-free and will mature in 35 years. In other news, Biljana Plavsic, acting president of the Republika Srpska, on 30 July began her campaign for the September general elections by touring Serb- held towns in northwestern Bosnia, Onasa reported. -- Daria Sito Sucic WILL SEPARATIST BOSNIAN CROATS GIVE UP THEIR STATE? Separatist Bosnian Croats have agreed to transform their mini-state, Herceg- Bosna, into a "political community," Croatian radio reported, citing a comminqué adopted by the Bosnian Croat leadership. But Croatian leaders in both Bosnia-Herzegovina and Croatia were unavailable to clear up ambiguities in the comminqué, AFP reported on 31 July. Bosnian Vice President Ejup Ganic, speaking in Zagreb on 31 July, remarked that Zagreb's position on Herceg-Bosna remains unclear, adding that Croatian President Franjo Tudjman has "not promised to agree to the dissolution of Herceg-Bosna, but we will see [what happens] in the next five to six days." Meanwhile, Tudjman is scheduled to arrive in the U.S. on 1 August for what local media describe as " a working visit" and meetings with President Bill Clinton. -- Stan Markotich SERBIAN PREMIER IN KOSOVO. Mirko Marjanovic, addressing ethnic Serbian "business leaders and political officials" in the predominantly ethnic Albanian province of Kosovo on 30 July, described Kosovo as an "integral and inalienable" part of Serbia. Marjanovic said his government's priority was to advocate policies promoting "peace, the rule of law, economic prosperity and the fight against crime,...[and] equality for all citizens." The premier also said that the leadership of the Kosovar shadow state "has put [ethnic Albanians] in a very difficult situation by implementing polices of self-imposed isolation," Tanjug reported. -- Stan Markotich MACEDONIA, BRITAIN SIGN DEFENSE AGREEMENT. Visiting British Defense Secretary Michael Portillo and Macedonian Defense Minister Blagoj Handziski on 31 July signed a defense cooperation agreement, AFP reported. Portillo said Britain will help Macedonia remain independent and sovereign. An official Macedonian statement said the agreement "aims at integration of Macedonia into Europe's collective defense and security system." -- Stefan Krause SLOVENIAN NAVY ACQUIRES VESSEL. A 29-meter military patrol boat, equipped with two 20-millimeter canons, arrived in the port of Koper on 31 July, STA reported that same day. The vessel--the independent Slovenian Navy's first-ever ship--was purchased from an Israeli firm in 1993 but could not be delivered until recently owing to the internationally imposed arms embargo on all republics of the former Yugoslavia. -- Stan Markotich ROMANIAN ROUNDUP. Foreign Minister Teodor Melescanu described his one-day official visit to France on 31 July as part of a lobbying drive for Romanian membership in European and Euro-Atlantic structures, Radio Bucharest reported. Melescanu was received by French Premier Alain Juppe, and his French counterpart, Herve de Charette, with whom he agreed to set up a working group on bilateral economic cooperation. Meanwhile, an accord on the use of Western European Union (WEU) documents enters into force on 1 August, Radio Bucharest reported. The new accord allows Romania to use confidential information from the WEU, the military arm of the EU. -- Dan Ionescu MOLDOVAN PARLIAMENT CHAIRMAN MEETS COMMUNISTS. Petru Lucinschi on 31 July met with the leadership of the Communist Party of Moldova (PCM), BASA-press reported. PCM Chairman Vladimir Voronin said after the meeting that Lucinschi was clearly seeking the Communists' support in the run-up to the presidential elections, though he did not say as much. Voronin added that Lucinschi, who was a Central Committee Secretary of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union in its final days, should first clarify his own "contribution to the collapse of the party and, implicitly, of the Soviet Union" before counting on the PCM's support. -- Dan Ionescu BULGARIAN UPDATE. The Bulgarian Socialist Party and its two tiny coalition partners--the Bulgarian Agrarian People's Union "Aleksandar Stamboliyski" and the Political Club "Ekoglasnost"-- have signed an agreement endorsing Foreign Minister Georgi Pirinski and Culture Minister Ivan Marazov as their joint presidential and vice presidential candidates, Duma reported on 1 August. In other news, Social Minister Mincho Koralski has announced that the minimum wage will rise from 4,000 leva ($21.40) to 5,500 leva on 1 October, 24 chasa reported. The minimum pension will be increase from 2160 to 2760 leva and the maximum pension from 6480 to 8250 leva. Subsidies for the socially needy will also be raised. Meanwhile, prices for electricity, fuel, and heating went up by 22- 23% on 1 August (just one month after the last hike), while average bread prices increased by 51.8% over the past two weeks. -- Stefan Krause U.S. EXPRESSES CONCERN OVER ALBANIA'S "AUTHORITARIAN TENDENCIES." U.S. Secretary of State Warren Christopher on 31 July expressed disappointment with developments in Albania, RFE/RL reported. Christopher told the U.S. House of Representatives' International Affairs Committee that Albania is not moving toward democracy as vigorously as it should. He added that he is "profoundly disturbed" by recent authoritarian tendencies there. Congressman Tom Lantos questioned whether the U.S. should continue to provide Albania with economic assistance, saying Albania should be pressed to establish an independent judiciary, a free press, and equal rights for the Greek minority. Meanwhile, the Albanian parliament has invited the Council of Europe, the European Parliament, and the OSCE to send observers to monitor the 20 October local elections, AFP reported. It also ratified the European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms and the European Convention on the Ban of Tortures. -- Stefan Krause [As of 12:00 CET] Compiled by Jan Cleave ------------------------------------------------------------------- ----- Copyright (c) 1996 Open Media Research Institute, Inc. All rights reserved. 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