|[America,] it is the only place where miracles not only happen, but where they happen all the time. - Thomas Wolfe|
No. 157, Part II, 14 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 EAST-CENTRAL EUROPE IMF MISSION IN UKRAINE. An IMF mission arrived in Kyiv on 12 August to assess whether Ukraine is meeting the requirements for the disbursement of a stand-by credit, AFP reported. The mission is empowered to begin negotiations that may lead to credits worth $2.5 billion. It is also scheduled to discuss a $1.5 billion stabilization fund for Ukraine to introduce its national currency, the hryvna, by the end of the year. -- Ustina Markus AFTERMATH OF DONBAS STRIKES. A government commission looking into the effects of the July miner's strike in the Donbas has concluded that losses amounted to 4 million tons of unmined coal, and 25 trillion karbovantsy ($66 million), Ukrainian radio reported on 12 August. The strike also left some 50 mines virtually paralyzed. As a result, the current coal output is almost half of last month's. -- Ustina Markus DATE SET FOR BELARUSIAN ELECTIONS. The Belarusian parliament has set 24 November as the date for parliamentary and local by- elections, Belarusian TV reported on 12 August. ITAR-TASS the same day reported that President Alyaksandr Lukashenka has announced he wants to ask how people feel about the death penalty in the referendum scheduled for 7 November. He also said the public needed to have the issues of privatization and NATO expansion explained. -- Ustina Markus BELARUSIAN NEWSPAPER UNHAPPY WITH RUSSIAN POLLSTERS. The parliamentary newspaper Narodnaya hazeta has canceled an agreement with Russia's Nazavisima gazeta and Voks popul because it is dissatisfied with the results of polls they have conducted for it, Ekho Moskvy reported on 11 August. The Belarusian president's administration is reportedly displeased with the results of a poll on the popularity of 50 Belarusian politicians, and the editor of Narodnaya hazeta has accordingly sent an official letter to his Russian colleagues in Moscow asking for the pollsters to be replaced. This is not the first time Belarus has voiced its displeasure with Russian media. The Belarusian president's administration has already asked the Russian Duma to replace Russian correspondents in Minsk. -- Ustina Markus RUSSIAN PARTY IN ESTONIA SEEKS TO EXTEND REGISTRATION PERIOD FOR NON-CITIZENS. The Russian Party in Estonia has asked the government to extend the period in which non-citizens can register to vote in the 20 October local elections, BNS reported on 13 August. Registration began on 10 August and is scheduled to last until 10 September. It requested that the registration period be extended until 18 October since it would be impossible for all eligible non- citizens to register in one month. Unlike the parliament elections where only citizens are eligible to vote, non-citizens who have applied for a residence permit and have lived in the respective territory for at least five years are allowed to take part in local elections. -- Saulius Girnius LITHUANIAN FINANCE MINISTER ON LOW BOND INTEREST. Algimantas Krizinauskas told the parliament on 13 August that three-month treasury bills were sold at 11.7% interest at an auction earlier that day, BNS reported. This was 4.23 percentage points down on last week's level and less than half of the year's average interest of 25.8%. He also said that it will cost the government twice as much to revive the Vakaru Bank as letting it file for bankruptcy. The cabinet will probably decide next week whether to allow the Klaipeda state seaport to invest 20 million litai to purchase stock capital in the bank. -- Saulius Girnius POLISH CABINET APPROVES PRIVACY LAW. The government on 13 August approved legislation giving Polish citizens greater control over personal data, Rzeczpospolita reported. Based on EU standards, the legislation prohibits the collection or use of personal data without the consent of the individual in question, stipulating only a few exceptions to the rule. It also creates a Privacy Protection Office to safeguard this practice. If approved by the parliament and the president, the legislation would primarily impact institutions that are currently repositories of such information, including the military, passport offices, vehicle registration agencies, banks and insurance companies, schools and universities, as well as civil institutions registering property sales, births, deaths, marriages, and divorces. It is estimated that it will cost 6.5 billion zloty ($2.4 billion) a year to implement the law. -- Ben Slay POLISH ALCOHOL CONSUMPTION DECLINING. Per capita annual consumption of alcohol in Poland declined to 8-8.5 liters in 1995, down from 9- 11 liters in the past, Rzeczpospolita reported 14 August. Despite this decline, Poland still ranks among the top 30 countries worldwide in alcohol consumption. With regard to the consumption of liquor with a high alcohol content (especially vodka), Poland ranks among the top 10. -- Ben Slay CZECH PRIME MINISTER CALLS FOR PARTY MERGER. Vaclav Klaus told Czech Radio on 13 August that his Civic Democratic Party (ODS) might win 40% of the vote if it merged with its smaller coalition partner, the Civic Democratic Alliance (ODA). He was responding to a statement by ODS Deputy Chairman Josef Zieleniec that the party might win 40% support--rather than the 30% it received in the last elections--if it showed "a more open face." Several former and current ODS deputies have said that party members who hold different views from those of the premier are silenced. Klaus argued that a merger would "clean up" the political spectrum, leaving five parties with markedly different ideologies. "If we have 20 or 25 parties, then it is very difficult for one to gain 40%," he noted. ODA Chairman Jan Kalvoda said he considered it "politically naive" to view the merger of two parties as a way either of dealing with inter-party tensions or obtaining 40% of the vote. -- Sharon Fisher CANCELLATION OF CZECH PUBLIC TENDER CAUSES CONTROVERSY. The U.S. firm Unisys has expressed disappointment over the cancellation of a public tender for the Czech army's 4 billion crown ($145.4 million) staff information system, Czech media reported on 14 August. Unisys won the tender last year, but former Defense Minister Vilem Holan canceled the order in December, saying he was convinced his subordinates had made mistakes during the bid. Because Holan was not empowered to make such decisions, the former Ministry for Economic Competition overrode Holan's verdict and canceled the tender. Klaus--who is temporarily heading the ministry's successor, the Office for the Protection of Competition--has now taken the final decision on the cancellation. Mlada fronta Dnes on 13 August reported that Klaus gave the army 60 days to launch a new tender. Unisys has yet to decide whether it will participate again and is considering taking the case to court. -- Sharon Fisher SLOVAK CABINET APPROVES NEW DISTRICT CHIEFS. The government on 13 August agreed on the heads of Slovakia's eight new regions and all but one of its 79 new districts, Narodna obroda reported. The cabinet also approved changes to the district boundaries. The new state officials were selected by a special Interior Ministry commission. CTK reported that only one of the regional and district heads is not an ethnic Slovak, despite the fact that ethnic Hungarians have a majority in a number of the districts. Nine of the officials were reportedly members of the election team of Prime Minister Vladimir Meciar's party. Meanwhile, government spokeswoman Ludmila Bulakova, responding to a Sme report on 13 August, denied that Meciar spent his recent vacation in Russia. "The prime minister spent this year's summer vacation on Slovak territory," she said, adding that the report was "absurd speculation." -- Sharon Fisher REACTION IN HUNGARY TO CANCELED HORN-MECIAR MEETING. Gyorgy Giczy, president of the opposition Christian Democratic Party, has said that the Slovak government's unexpected cancellation of a meeting between Hungarian Prime Minister Gyula Horn and Slovak Prime Minister Vladimir Meciar is a "slap in the face" to Hungary, Hungarian dailies reported on 14 August. In an open letter to Horn, Giczy said that if Horn seeks another meeting with Meciar or if the government takes "irrevocable steps" in the negotiations over the basic treaty with Romania, the Christian Democrats will call for a special parliamentary session. The opposition Smallholders' Party released a statement calling the canceled prime ministerial meeting another "affront" to Hungary. Meciar and Horn are expected to meet in Slovakia on 13-14 September during a summit meeting of premiers from the CEFTA member states. -- Ben Slay SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE IFOR COMPLETES INSPECTION OF SERBIAN MILITARY CENTER. NATO inspectors, led by commander Gen. Sir Michael Walker, visited Han Pijesak on 13 August, Nasa Borba and Oslobodjenje reported. They had brought along Bosnian Serb acting president Biljana Plavsic as a guarantee that their access would not be blocked, as was the case the previous weekend (see OMRI Special Report, 13 August 1996). Walker and Plavsic were welcomed and escorted by Gen. Milan Gvero, the number two in the Serbian command. An IFOR spokesman denied media speculation that the purpose of the weekend mission was to arrest Bosnian Serb commander and indicted war criminal Gen. Ratko Mladic, whose headquarters is located at the mountain stronghold, Onasa noted. Meanwhile in Washington, a Defense Department spokesman said that U.S. forces in Bosnia have been on special alert since late last week because of bomb threats by an offshoot of Hezbollah, CNN reported on 14 August. -- Patrick Moore BOSNIAN SHORTS. Plavsic told Serbian TV that the Bosnian Serbs' Republika Srpska will "have more than 80 percent sovereignty" after the 14 September elections, Nasa Borba reported on 14 August. This is a climb-down from her position that the vote will mean complete sovereignty. Her view is, nonetheless, still in conflict with the Dayton agreement, which specifies that Bosnia-Herzegovina is one state consisting of two "entities," namely the Republika Srpska and the Croatian-Muslim federation. Meanwhile, Sarajevo airport will re-open on 15 August to civilian traffic with an Air Bosna flight to Istanbul, Oslobodjenje noted on 14 August. Conditions at the airport are still poor, and standard navigation equipment is lacking. Flight safety will depend on French IFOR and on pilots' professional skills. -- Patrick Moore OSCE REJECTS CROATIAN SERBS APPEAL TO VOTE IN BOSNIA. The OSCE Election Appeals Sub-Committee on 12 August said it has rejected an appeal by Croatian Serb refugees to be allowed to vote in the September elections in Bosnia-Herzegovina, Onasa reported. The Association of Croatian Serbs in Bosnia, which made the appeal, said it represented the interests of almost 60,000 people, some of whom had acquired real estate and settled in the Republika Srpska. The OSCE noted that, according to preliminary estimates, 77% of all voters living abroad have so far registered to vote in the elections, Onasa reported on 13 August. Meanwhile, Croats and Muslims have agreed to hold the first joint session of the new Mostar City Council on 14 August, Oslobodjenje reported. Both, however, have proposed different agendas for that meeting. -- Daria Sito Sucic BELGRADE REAFFIRMS WISH TO NORMALIZE RELATIONS WITH SUCCESSOR STATES. Belgrade on 13 August reaffirmed its wish for a complete normalization of relations with Croatia and other successor states of former Yugoslavia, Nasa Borba reported. Belgrade and Zagreb committed themselves to normalizing bilateral relations following the meeting in Greece last week between Presidents Slobodan Milosevic and Franjo Tudjman. The rump Yugoslav authorities said current ties with Croatia in the economic and humanitarian fields are "positive" and stressed the importance of finding solutions to the issue of the Prevlaka peninsula, claimed by both Belgrade and Zagreb. Meanwhile, Novak Kilibarda, head of the Montenegrin People's Party, said Milosevic is not authorized to solve the border problem of rump Yugoslavia and Montenegro. He added that the issue should be decided by the people, Nasa Borba reported on 14 August. -- Daria Sito Sucic BELGRADE'S UN REPRESENTATIVE STARTS NEGOTIATIONS ON TRIBUNAL OFFICE. The head of Belgrade's diplomatic mission at the UN has begun negotiations on the opening of an office of the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia in Belgrade, Nasa Borba reported. Vladislav Jovanovic exchanged letters about the office with UN Secretary-General Boutros Boutros Ghali after the Belgrade government expressed its willingness to reach an agreement. Meanwhile, a bush fire in the nature reserve of Deliblatska Pescara, about 70 km north of Belgrade, destroyed some 3,000 hectares of forest, Nasa Borba reported. Some 600 refugees from Bosnia and Croatia who were settled in the area were evacuated to nearby towns. -- Fabian Schmidt MEETING BETWEEN MACEDONIAN, GREEK FOREIGN MINISTERS CANCELED. Greek Foreign Minister Theodoros Pangalos on 13 August canceled a scheduled meeting with his Macedonian counterpart, Ljubomir Frckovski, after the latter said Macedonia will not change its name, Nova Makedonija reported. Pangalos and Frckovski were to meet in New York in September during the UN General Assembly. A Greek Foreign Ministry statement said that Frckovski's recent statements have created a "negative climate" in bilateral relations. In an interview with the Greek weekly To Vima on 11 August, Frckovski said Macedonia wants to continue bilateral talks in New York to sort out differences but will not change its name. He conceded that a modus vivendi between Skopje and Athens must be found on the name issue. -- Stefan Krause ROMANIAN CABINET DISMISSES EIGHT PREFECTS. Octavian Cozmanca, head of the government's local administration department, on 13 August announced that eight prefects were being replaced on the recommendation of the Permanent Delegation of the ruling Party of Social Democracy in Romania (PDSR), Radio Bucharest reported. Seven of the dismissed prefects are PDSR members, while the eighth belongs to the Socialist Labor Party, a former PDSR ally. Some had been involved in public scandals, including Constantin Raducanoiu (PDSR), whose children were arrested after beating up other youths. The police officer leading the investigation into the incident was initially removed in what the opposition claimed to be a clear case of power abuse. Romanian observers link the dismissals to the PDSR's efforts to polish its image ahead of the November general elections. -- Dan Ionescu SNEGUR ON MOLDOVAN-DNIESTER MEMORANDUM. President Mircea Snegur on 13 August issued a statement explaining his reluctance to sign a memorandum on the normalization of relations between the Republic of Moldova and its breakaway Dniester region. BASA-press quoted Snegur as saying that the draft memorandum fails to specify that the Dniester region is a part of Moldova and instead refers to a "common [Moldovan-Dniester] state," which, he pointed out, is contrary to the spirit of the Moldovan Constitution. Snegur commented that, under these circumstances, signing the document would set "a dangerous precedent for Europe that might lead to destabilization at regional levels." He also criticized the Moldovan parliament, which is dominated by conservative and leftist forces, for putting pressure on him to sign the current version of the memorandum. Such pressure could only "complicate the negotiations," he concluded. -- Dan Ionescu BULGARIAN POLITICIANS TO RECEIVE MORE PAY. The salaries of parliamentary deputies have been raised from 26,169 leva ($130) a month to 32,169 leva ($170), 24 chasa reported on 14 August. Under the parliament's statutes, deputies are to receive three times the average salary, which the National Statistical Institute put at 10,728 leva for the past three months. Since all deputies are members of parliamentary commissions, they receive an extra 10% of their basic wage. This means they will now have a monthly wage package of 35,385 leva. President Zhelyu Zhelev, Prime Minister Zhan Videnov, and Parliamentary Chairman Blagovest Sendov earn 50% more than deputies, or 48,253 leva at the current level. Sendov's deputies will now receive 45,036.60 leva, and ministers and heads of parliamentary commission 41,819.70 leva. -- Stefan Krause ALBANIAN PRESIDENT MAKES APPOINTMENTS TO ELECTION COMMISSION BY DECREE. Sali Berisha on 13 August issued a decree giving the three leading posts on the permanent Election Commission to government appointees. The ruling Democrats received four posts and their allies--the Republicans, the Christian Democrats, and the Social Democratic Union--one each. The opposition Socialists, Social Democrats, and Agrarians received a total of six seats, Albania reported on 14 August. But the opposition has refused to accept its seats, saying that the formation of the commission is based on a presidential decree, not the law. They argued that the commission is fully controlled by the Democrats and therefore could not guarantee free elections, international agencies reported. A meeting between the Democrats and the Socialists the same day failed to resolve the dispute. -- Fabian Schmidt TWO ALBANIAN POLICEMEN SHOT DEAD. Unidentified persons on 12 August shot dead two policemen in a Tirana suburb, Reuters reported. It was the latest in a series of police murders. The two officers were brothers and were off duty when they were attacked. No suspects have been arrested, but police said they believed the killing is linked to the attempted arrest of a murder suspect. -- 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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