|Upon the education of the people of this country the fate of this country depends. - Benjamin Disraeli 1804-1881|
No. 156, Part I, 13 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 ************************************************************************ Do you need sharply focused economic news? OMRI's weekly Economic Digest provides thorough coverage of business and financial developments throughout the region. The latest edition includes stories on Belarusians protesting the planned opening of a McDonald's in Minsk; the details of a new World Bank credit deal with Bosnia; and the reluctance of foreign investors in post-election Russia. For subscription and rate information, please send a message to firstname.lastname@example.org *********************************************************************** CENTRAL AND EASTERN EUROPE UKRAINIAN UPDATE. President Leonid Kuchma has appointed Mykola Biloblotsky as labor minister and Dmytro Khudolii as minister of communications, Ukrainian TV reported on 12 August. He also named Oleksander Omelchenko as mayor of Kyiv. Meanwhile, Ukraine's Ministry of Education has announced it is cutting enrollment to the country's higher education institutions by 4,600 full-time students and laying off one- third of teaching staff at medical schools, UNIAN reported on 10 August. The measures are aimed at reducing the ministry's wage debt, which nonetheless amount to 17.1 trillion karbovantsi ($92 million) after the cuts. The ministry has also closed down 12 facilities that offered evening and correspondence courses, saying it will cut jobs at the country's scientific and research institutes. -- Chrystyna Lapychak LITHUANIAN PARLIAMENT REJECTS LOWERING VOTE BARRIER. The Seimas on 12 August rejected President Algirdas Brazauskas's proposal that in order to gain a share of the proportional seats in the October parliamentary elections, parties need to win only 4% of the vote and coalitions 5%, Radio Lithuania reported. In accordance with the election law, parties will have to gain 5% of the vote and coalitions 7% in the fall ballot. While 41 deputies voted in favor of the proposal, 21 voted against and 29 abstained. The Seimas also ratified World Bank loans worth $5.9 million and $6.2 million for financing a geothermal power plant in Klaipeda and an environmental protection project in Siauliai, respectively. -- Saulius Girnius LATVIAN MINISTER URGES LITHUANIA TO STOP OIL TERMINAL CONSTRUCTION. Environmental Protection Minister Indulis Emsis, citing environmental reasons, has called on Lithuania to stop the construction of its floating oil terminal at Butinge, BNS reported on 12 August. He said the terminal should be built in a closed-port area, where it would be easier to contain spilled oil. He also complained that Lithuania has not informed Latvia about the environmental safety of the terminal, which, according to Lithuanian press reports, will also be used to reload chemical substances. Lithuanian Energy Minister Saulius Kutas told Lietuvos rytas last week that his country had expected Latvia to protest because the completed terminal will compete with Latvia's Ventspilis port for the export of Russian oil. The construction of that terminal has been suspended owing to a lack of funds. -- Saulius Girnius IS POLAND'S ECONOMIC TSAR OUT? Zycie Warszawy reported on 13 August that according to "unofficial plans" for the cabinet reshuffle, Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Grzegorz Kolodko will not have a place in the new government. Kolodko has been responsible for economic policy over the past two years. The daily suggests that he will become president of the National Bank of Poland at some later date. The Polish Peasants' Party, which is the junior member of the coalition government, has reportedly been promised two of the new government's three deputy premierships. The beneficiaries would be Miroslaw Pietrewicz (who would also be the state treasury minister) and Roman Jagielinski (who would keep his position as agricultural minister). Prime Minister Wlodzimierz Cimoszewicz of the Democratic Left Alliance (SLD), the senior coalition party, would keep his position, while SLD Labor Minister Leszek Miller would become the third deputy prime minister and minister of administration and internal affairs. Former Deputy Prime Minister Marek Borowski is to head the Economics Ministry, while Foreign Minister Dariusz Rosati is be moved to the Finance Office. If these changes were to take place, the PSL's influence, especially in economic policy, would be greatly increased. -- Ben Slay POLISH TELECOM COMES UNDER ATTACK. Polish Telecom, which has a monopoly on most telephone services in Poland, has come under strong criticism for its apparently high-handed ways, Polish dailies reported 13 August. In response to a complaint against PT filed by the Consumers' Federation and the Human Rights Ombudsman, Polish Antimonopoly Office President Andrzej Sopocko called for a recent Communications Ministry decision to be overturned. According to that decision, PT would have been allowed to supply network access to two cellular phone companies on terms favorable to it. The recent unilateral withdrawal by PT's Cracow office from an agreement with the Polish Post Office has left small towns in five regions in southeastern Poland without any telephone or telegraph services. An Antimonopoly Office spokesman promised that the matter would be investigated, adding that "this is only one part of a greater whole. Unfortunately, we have many complaints against PT." -- Ben Slay CZECH PREMIER SAYS NO RIFT IN RULING PARTY. Prime Minister Vaclav Klaus on 12 August said there is no rift -- and no need for factions -- within the Civic Democratic Party (ODS), Czech media reported. The statement followed a meeting of his party's executive council, the first since Foreign Minister and ODS Deputy Chairman Josef Zieleniec called for more pluralism and political debate within the party (see OMRI Daily Digest, 7 August 1996). "I know more or less these views of Zieleniec, and I have repeatedly discussed them with him," Klaus said. He added that they had gained "popularity" because they were published in "the silly season." Klaus said he and Zieleniec have "fundamentally different" views on the problems faced by the ODS in the post-election period. -- Sharon Fisher CZECH SOCIAL DEMOCRAT CHAIRMAN INSTILLS DISCIPLINE. Milos Zeman has reprimanded three deputies from the Czech Social Democratic Party (CSSD) for their recent absence from the parliament, Pravo reported on 10 August. Zeman noted that by leaving for vacation, the deputies allowed the law on Church restitution to pass by a single vote. The opposition was also one vote short in the ballot on the establishment of a commission to investigate the situation of the Poldi Kladno steel firm. "If any deputy is unable to bear the responsibility, there is only one honorable solution: to free his post for a replacement," Zeman said. Four other CSSD deputies--including the popular deputy chairwoman Petra Buzkova--will reportedly also be reprimanded for violating the CSSD's election program when they voted against holding a referendum on the country's EU and NATO membership. One of those singled out rejected the criticism. Kvetoslava Korinkova said she learned of the scheduling of the session one day before leaving for vacation and could not put off her flight. -- Sharon Fisher SLOVAK-HUNGARIAN TENSIONS FLARE . . . The Slovak National Party (SNS) on 12 August strongly criticized Hungarian Prime Minister Gyula Horn for supporting autonomy for ethnic Hungarians living in neighboring countries, Slovak media reported. The SNS--a junior partner in Slovakia's ruling coalition--was responding to Horn's statement the previous day that the joint declaration approved at the July Budapest summit does not contain anything that could offend neighboring countries. Horn had also stressed that the document is in harmony with both the government's program and European norms and does not conflict with the Slovak-Hungarian treaty. The SNS said it is "very dangerous" for Hungary's official representative to openly endorse the joint declaration, which demands territorial autonomy for Hungarians living in neighboring countries as a condition for maintaining their identity. -- Sharon Fisher . . . WHILE PREMIERS' MEETING IS CANCELED. A meeting between Horn and his Slovak counterpart Vladimir Meciar scheduled for 13 August has been postponed indefinitely, according to Hungarian and Slovak media. Slovakia reportedly requested that the meeting be put off until a later date. Horn had said on Hungarian TV on 11 August that issues on the meeting's agenda included the rights of ethnic Hungarians living in Slovakia, the Gabcikovo dam, bilateral cooperation in privatization, and European integration efforts. One Hungarian daily speculated that Meciar called off the meeting because nationalists in his governing coalition objected to the July joint declaration as well as to Hungarian participation in Slovakia's privatization process. -- Sharon Fisher HUNGARIAN OPPOSITION CRITICIZES PREMIER'S STATEMENT ON TREATY WITH ROMANIA. Hungarian opposition leaders have responded with surprise and skepticism to Prime Minister Gyula Horn's statement on 11 August that Hungary is about to ratify the basic treaty with Romania, Hungarian dailies reported. Former Foreign Minister Geza Jeszenszky said he sees no indication that Romania is modifying its treatment of its Hungarian minority. Tensions have arisen between the two countries over this issue. Meanwhile, Hungarian Foreign Ministry state secretary Ferenc Somogyi has left for Bucharest to discuss unresolved issues in the basic treaty. Somogyi said agreement has been reached on 95% of the basic treaty and the outstanding issues are related to the Council of Europe Recommendation 1201 on ethnic minorities. -- Ben Slay HUNGARIAN MILITARY REINFORCED CROATIAN BORDER LAST SUMMER. Hungarian Defense Minister Gyorgy Keleti and Secret Services Minister Istvan Nikolits on 12 August confirmed that Hungary's border guard troops were substantially reinforced along the border with eastern Slavonia in Croatia during the summer of 1995, Vilaggazdasag reported. This move reflected the heightened threat of war related to the Croatian military offensives to retake Serb-held western Slavonia in May 1995 and Krajina in August 1995. Although eastern Slavonia remains the sole Croatian region under the control of rebel Serbs, Keleti said that no such threat exists today. -- Ben Slay SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE BOSNIAN SERBS GIVE IN TO NATO FIRMNESS. The Pale leadership on 12 August agreed to allow IFOR to inspect sites at Gen. Ratko Mladic's headquarters, located at the mountain stronghold of Han Pijesak. The Serbs had blocked NATO inspectors two days earlier, and IFOR had responded with the unprecedented step of pulling its liaison officers out of Pale (see OMRI Daily Digest, 12 August 1996). NATO the same day activated "Operation Fear Naught," which placed its own forces in the Republika Srpska on a higher state of alert, consolidated them in more readily defendable positions, and effectively ordered civilian aid workers to leave. NATO Secretary-General Javier Solana and NATO's commander in Europe, Gen. George Joulwan, met with Republika Srpska Acting President Biljana Plavsic and other Serbian officials, who then said that the inspection could go ahead. On 13 August, IFOR commander Gen. Sir Michael Walker flew his helicopter from Sarajevo to Pale to collect Plavsic en route to Han Pijesak to ensure that all went smoothly, international media noted. -- Patrick Moore CROATIAN PRESIDENT AGREES TO 3-MONTH EXTENSION OF UN MANDATE. Franjo Tudjman on 12 August told Jacques Klein, UN administrator of eastern Slavonia, that Croatia will agree to have the UN's mandate extended by three months, Hina reported. Serbs living in the region have said they would like a one-year extension, and UN Secretary-General Boutros Boutros Ghali has supported that view (see OMRI Daily Digest, 8 August 1996), while Tudjman said that he would request that during the period of extension, local government elections take place on the basis of the 1991 census and that the UN create the conditions for the return of refugees. But Klein said those requests could not be met before Croatia issued an amnesty for rebel Serbs. Meanwhile, a Croatian government team on 12 August began excavating mass graves in the Plitvice region, central Croatia, that are thought to contain the bodies of Croats killed by rebel Serbs, AFP reported. -- Daria Sito Sucic SUPPORTERS OF BOSNIAN MUSLIM RULING PARTY DISRUPT OPPOSITION RALLY. A Bosnian opposition rally on 10 August in Gradacac, northern Bosnia, was disrupted by a group of supporters of the ruling Muslim Party of Democratic Action (SDA), Onasa reported on 12 August. Youths wearing SDA T-shirts caused a commotion and broke up the meeting, organized by the opposition Joint List, which consists of anti-nationalist parties and one Croatian group. The Joint List has accused the SDA of wanting the Muslim-Croatian federation to be controlled by ethnic Muslims. The rally was staged in Gradacac because Muslims and Croats have never stopped cooperating in that city and because their respective parties -- the SDA and the Croatian Democratic Community -- have only limited support there. Meanwhile, Sejfudin Tokic, vice president of the Union of Bosnian Social Democrat, has said he is concerned about the lack of neutrality among police officials at campaign rallies, Onasa and AFP reported. -- Daria Sito Sucic REFUGEES IN SERBIA-MONTENEGRO REGISTER TO VOTE IN BOSNIAN ELECTIONS. An OSCE representative has said that 220,640 refugees have registered with his organization to vote in the 14 September elections in Bosnia- Herzegovina, Beta reported on 12 August. Of those, 97,636 have opted to cast their ballots in Serbia-Montenegro and the remainder will vote in Bosnia, with the majority expected to do so in the Republika Srpska. Polling in Serbia-Montenegro will take place between 28 August and 3 September and will be supervised by OSCE monitors. Beta reported that there are 450,000-480,000 Bosnian refugees in Serbia-Montenegro and that 633,584 refugees in a total of 28 countries have registered to vote in the elections. -- Stan Markotich AMMUNITION CACHE FOUND IN DNIESTER REGION. An ammunition cache has been discovered in Colbasna, a village in Moldova's breakaway Dniester region near the Ukrainian border, BASA-press reported on 12 August. The discovery follows the arrest in a nearby town of several Ukrainian teenagers who were in possession of ammunition from the former 14th Russian army depositories. The Russian command in Tiraspol was quoted as saying that the military of the self-declared Dniester Moldovan Republic may have hidden the ammunition in 1995. The Dniester military has insisted that it have control over the equipment and ammunition slated for liquidation by the Russian troops. Up to 100,000 tons of ammunition are believed to be in the Colbasna cache. -- Dan Ionescu PEACETIME NAVAL EXERCISE OFF BULGARIAN COAST. Vessels from eight nations--the U.S., Russia, Italy, Greece, Turkey, Romania, Ukraine, and Bulgaria--gathered off the Bulgarian coast on 10 August to take part in a six-day peacekeeping naval exercise. According to a statement issued by the Bulgarian Defense Ministry, Bulgaria's contingent consists of nine ships, six planes, and two helicopters. Bulgarian media reported that the exercise would focus on communication drills and damage-control maneuvers. -- Stan Markotich ALBANIAN APPEALS COURT REDUCES SENTENCES OF COMMUNIST OFFICIALS. The Tirana appeals court on 12 August reduced the life sentences of former party chief ideologue Foto Cami, former Defense Minister Prokop Murra, and regional party leader Muho Asllani, Reuters reported. Cami's sentence was commuted to a five-year suspended jail term, while Murra and Asllani received 20- and 18-year terms respectively. The court upheld the sentences handed down to former party secretary Gaqo Nesho, national Police Chief Dilaver Bengasi, and Tirana secret police chief Zef Loka, who were sentenced in May to between 16 and 20 years. All were charged with crimes against humanity and deportation of dissidents. -- Fabian Schmidt MILITARY EXERCISES IN ALBANIA. U.S. and Albanian troops on 12 August began a joint military exercise in Albania. Code-named "Salvation Eagle 96," the maneuvers will focus on peacekeeping and search-and-rescue operations, ATSH reported. Over the past four years, Albanian troops have taken part in more that 20 joint exercises with armies of NATO countries and member states of the Partnership for Peace program. -- Fabian Schmidt CRIME IN ALBANIA DECREASING. Deputy Interior Minister Agim Shehu has announced that crime in Albania is down 45% compared to 1992, ATSH reported. Shehu argued that the decrease is largely due to reforms, adding that the per capita level of crime is now comparable to that of major Western countries such as France, Italy, and England. Crime began to increase in 1990 and 1991, when the transition to democracy got under way. -- Fabian Schmidt ALBANIAN HUMAN RIGHTS GROUP CONCERNED ABOUT PROSTITUTION ABROAD. The Albanian Helsinki Committee has expressed concern about the increase in prostitution among Albanian women living in neighboring states, Poli i Qendres reported on 13 August. The group estimates that about one-third of female prostitutes in Italy are from Albania and that the majority were smuggled into that country by criminal gangs who then force the women to engage in prostitution. Stranded abroad, the women become dependent on criminal organizations and, as illegal immigrants, are deprived of legal protection and human rights. -- Ismije Beshiri [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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