|We are all apt to believe what the world believes about us. - George Eliot|
No. 159, Part II, 16 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 UKRAINIAN CENTRAL BANK GOVERNOR ON MONETARY REFORM. Viktor Yushchenko said that he believes the hryvna, the country's new currency, may be introduced by the end of the year, Ukrainian agencies reported on 15 August. He noted that his bank is close to completing a package of bills outlining the principles and parameters of monetary reform in Ukraine. Yushchenko has been meeting with an IMF delegation in Kyiv to negotiate a $1.5 billion stabilization fund for the hryvna. IMF officials said their biggest concern is the size of Ukraine's budget deficit. In other news, Deputy Prime Minister Anatolii Kinakh has noted that consumer debt for energy has continued to rise, despite the fact the government earlier this month cut off electricity to thousands of delinquent customers. He said the total debt now amounts to 226 trillion karbovantsi ($1.2 billion). -- Chrystyna Lapychak UKRAINIAN DEPUTY PRIME MINISTER RESIGNS. President Leonid Kuchma has accepted the resignation of Oleksander Yemets, the deputy prime minister for political and legal issues, Ukrainian TV reported on 14 August. Yemets resigned in order to keep his seat in the national legislature. Under the new Ukrainian Constitution, government officials cannot serve simultaneously as lawmakers. -- Chrystyna Lapychak BELARUSIAN PRESIDENT SAYS NO RUN-OFF PARLIAMENTARY ELECTIONS. Alyaksandr Lukashenka, speaking in Hrodna on 15 August, announced elections will not be held in the upcoming months to fill the 61 vacant seats in the 260-member parliament, Reuters reported. He also declared that he was adding a fifth question to the 7 November referendum "to ask for a vote of confidence in the president." The referendum will also include questions on increasing the powers of the president and creating a new parliament with a second chamber. He said that his new proposed constitution will be published in a national newspaper early next month. -- Saulius Girnius ESTONIA RATIFIES BALTIC AGREEMENT ON AGRICULTURAL FREE TRADE. The Estonian parliament on 15 August ratified a free trade agreement with Latvia and Lithuania on agricultural products, ETA reported. The three countries' prime ministers signed the agreement in Vilnius in June. Lithuania has already ratified the agreement, and the Latvian parliament will probably do so later this month. Estonian lawmakers also discussed the Estonian-Latvian sea border agreement, signed on 12 July. Foreign Minister Siim Kallas said the failure to ratify the agreement would result in the loss of credibility in the West and would be a serious obstacle to EU and NATO membership. -- Saulius Girnius LITHUANIAN MINISTER REJECTS LATVIAN ACCUSATIONS OVER OIL TERMINAL. Environmental Protection Minister Bronius Bradauskas issued a statement on 14 August rejecting charges by his Latvian counterpart, Indulis Emsis, on the location and safety of the Butinge oil terminal (see OMRI Daily Digest, 13 August 1996), BNS reported. Bradauskas noted that Norwegian and local experts had found it to be reliable. Bradauskas said Emsis's statement was an attempt to resolve political and economic problems that have nothing in common with environmental protection. -- Saulius Girnius POLISH CARDINAL ON POST-COMMUNISM. Polish Primate Jozef Glemp, in a homily on 15 August at the Jasna Gora monastery celebrating the ascension of the Virgin Mary, described Poland's existing political system as a transitional "post-communist" mixture of communism and liberalism, Polish dailies reported. According to Glemp, this system has replaced the persecution of the Church with a "superficially Western" morality that emphasizes freedom but also downplays the role of God, the Church, and spirituality. Poland's true rebirth, Glemp declared, requires a more thorough "settling of scores" with Poland's communist past. Glemp was giving expression to the views of a significant portion of Poland's political forces, especially the right-of-center parties not represented in the parliament. -- Ben Slay CZECH SOCIAL DEMOCRATS BEGIN CAMPAIGNING FOR SENATE. The opposition Czech Social Democratic Party (CSSD) on 15 August launched its campaign for the November Senate elections, Czech media reported. Beginning in the southern Bohemian town of Cesky Krumlov, CSSD Chairman Milos Zeman plans to tour the country in the "Zemak" bus, as he did before the May-June parliamentary elections. Zeman did not exclude the possibility of trade union sponsorship for CSSD candidates. Christian Democratic leader Josef Lux on 15 August said tensions within Prime Minister Vaclav Klaus's Civic Democratic Party should not affect the government and relations within the ruling coalition. But Mlada fronta Dnes the following day commented that the CSSD "could hardly have imagined better conditions for starting the Senate campaign." -- Sharon Fisher GERMAN, CZECH PRESIDENTS TO MEET. German President Roman Herzog will visit the Czech Republic on 4 September to meet with his Czech counterpart, Vaclav Havel, CTK reported on 15 August. The two presidents will take part in meeting of German and Czech young people in Policka, in eastern Bohemia. German opposition parties-- particularly the Greens--have been urging German Chancellor Helmut Kohl to complete the Czech-German parliamentary declaration as soon as possible. That document has been blocked by the Christian Social Union of Bavaria, which supports the interests of the Sudeten Germans, who were expelled from Czechoslovakia after World War II. In an interview with RTL TV last week, Kohl said he is "not under any time pressure." He noted that he has "great understanding for the Czech side" but added that, as the German chancellor, he must "represent German interests." -- Sharon Fisher RUSSIA HELPS SLOVAKIA LAUNCH NATIONAL AIRLINE. Igor Dula, director of Slovakia's Airport Authority, announced on 15 August that representatives of Russia's Aeroflot are helping to start a national carrier in Slovakia, RFE/RL reported. Since the Czech-Slovak split, Slovakia has been left without a national airline, although a number of small carriers do exist. Aeroflot official Yevgenii Shaposhnikov met in Bratislava earlier this month with Slovak government officials, including Prime Minister Vladimir Meciar. The Russians are reportedly prepared to provide four to six planes for the new airline. Dula said it is too early to say when the airline will begin operations. Nearly 200,000 passengers used Bratislava's airport in 1995, a 33% increase over the previous year. Because of Bratislava's proximity to Vienna, many Slovaks fly from that city's airport. -- Sharon Fisher CONFLICT BREWING AMONG PRO-GOVERNMENT JOURNALISTS IN SLOVAKIA. Peter Strelinger, deputy editor in chief of Slovenska Republika, on 15 August rejected the Ludovit Stur prize for journalism, Narodna obroda reported. In a letter to Slovak TV director Jozef Darmo, Strelinger said the reason for his refusal was the "personal and moral situation" at Slovenska Republika. The prize was awarded by the Association of Slovak Journalists in cooperation with the government. It recipients to date have been only pro-government journalists and newspapers. Slovenska Republika reported on 15 August that besides Strelinger, the winners include the weekly Literarny tyzdennik and the state press agency TASR. -- Sharon Fisher SLOVAK ROUNDUP. The Academic Senate of Bratislava's Comenius University on 15 August made clear its opposition to the government's draft law on universities, TASR reported. Particular concern was expressed over limitations of academic freedom by jeopardizing the universities' autonomy. Also on 15 August, Meciar attended ceremonies in Zilina, the first of Slovakia's eight new administrative regions to be inaugurated. In other news, the opposition Democratic Union called for the dismissal of Slovak TV (STV) Director Jozef Darmo and Prosecutor-General Michal Valo. The former has been accused of illegal labor practices, such as the firing of STV staff, while the latter has come under attack for violating the constitution (see OMRI Daily Digest, 9 August 1996). -- Sharon Fisher HUNGARIAN INDUSTRY MINISTER RESIGNS. Imre Dunai, a non-party technocrat, resigned from his post on 15 August, Hungarian dailies reported. Dunai seems likely to be replaced by current Privatization Minister Tamas Suchman of the Hungarian Socialist Party, the coalition government's senior partner. Dunai, in his resignation letter to Prime Minister Gyula Horn, cited ill health as the reason for his departure. However, he has been at odds with other ministers over several economic policy measures. For example, he has been a leading proponent of energy price increases scheduled for this fall, which the government decided to scale back for "social" reasons. Dunai has promised to refrain from public comment for at least six months after his resignation, and he is not expected to leave the government until the fall. -- Ben Slay SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE WILL KEY PLAYERS BOYCOTT BOSNIAN ELECTIONS? U.S. officials said that Haris Silajdzic, former Bosnian prime minister and leader of the Party for Bosnia and Herzegovina, plans to boycott the 14 September vote. He fears that the ballot will be manipulated by the dominant nationalist parties of the Muslims, Serbs, and Croats and will serve to legitimize the partition of the country along ethnic lines. Silajdzic called it "ratification of genocide," AFP reported on 15 August. The previous day, parliamentary speaker Miro Lazovic said his Social Democratic Party and its anti-nationalist coalition of five parties is also considering a boycott. Meanwhile, in Sarajevo, the International Crisis Group, composed of former prime ministers, foreign ministers, and other public figures, called for the elections to be postponed and for a new Dayton-style agreement to be worked out, Oslobodjenje wrote on 16 August. President Alija Izetbegovic condemned attacks by his supporters on opposition rallies, Dnevni avaz said. Belgrade's Vreme added that the most recent such incident, in Gradacac, could trigger a mass boycott of the vote by the opposition. -- Patrick Moore OSCE PENALIZES RULING BOSNIAN SERB PARTY. The OSCE Election Appeals Subcommittee on 13 August decided that the ruling Serb Democratic Party (SDS) in Doboj, Republika Srpska, is guilty of having denied humanitarian aid to refugees unless they agree to vote in their new settlements in the upcoming Bosnian elections, Reuters reported on 15 August. The subcommittee levied a $25,000 fine against the SDS and demanded a public apology from its list of candidates in Doboj. It also noted that election rules had been violated in the Serb-held town of Modrica. Meanwhile, OSCE Chairman Flavio Cotti has cast serious doubt on how free and fair the Bosnian elections will be, AFP reported on 14 August. Cotti expressed his "greatest concern" over freedom of movement, the return of refugees, and prevailing attempts to create ethnically pure states. -- Daria Sito Sucic SARAJEVO AIRPORT REOPENS FOR COMMERCIAL FLIGHTS. U.S. Secretary of State Warren Christopher and Bosnian President Alija Izetbegovic on 15 August presided over the opening of the Sarajevo airport to commercial flights for the first time since 1992, international and local media reported. The first such flight was to Turkey. The airport was a major battlefield during the Bosnian war and hundreds of lives were lost there. Christopher said he had come to Sarajevo to witness "Bosnia's summer of hope" ahead of the September general elections, AFP quoted him as saying. In an televised address to the nation, he appealed to Bosnian voters to support the landmark elections. -- Daria Sito Sucic IS AN "OIL WAR" LOOMING BETWEEN SERBIA, MONTENEGRO? Montenegrin police on 15 August blocked a convoy of 53 Serbian trucks transporting oil to Montenegro, local media reported. This move seemed to be in retaliation for an earlier incident in which Serbian police officials blocked oil shipments from private Montenegrin firms. At issue was likely oil prices. Montenegro has protested that local refineries--notably at Pancevo, in Serbia--are dictating prices higher than those demanded by facilities in other countries. The political consequences of an "oil war" between the two republics are difficult to predict. -- Stan Markotich BELGRADE, BUDAPEST RESTORE DIPLOMATIC RELATIONS. Full diplomatic relations have been restored between Belgrade and Budapest, Nepszabadsag reported on 16 August. Hungarian Ambassador Janos Toth presented his credentials to federal President Zoran Lilic on 15 August. Belgrade's ambassador, Balsha Shpadiyer, had presented his credentials earlier this year. Hungary withdrew its ambassador following the 1992 imposition of sanctions against Serbia-Montenegro but had maintained contacts at the level of chargé d'affaires. -- Stan Markotich KOSOVO LOCAL AUTHORITIES SEEK TO ENFORCE LAW BANNING SALES OF LAND TO ALBANIANS. Tanjug reported on 13 August that the ban on the sale of real estate to ethnic Albanians in Kosovo is widely being ignored. This prompted local politicians in Istok to put the issue on the agenda of the local municipal assembly and to appoint a commission to investigate sales of land. Malisa Perovic, president of the Istok Municipal Assembly, has now decided to publicize the names of Serbs who have sold land to Albanians and to call on the Serbian government to assist in enforcing the law that stipulates the ban. She also alleged that senior military officials, former and present government ministers, and other high ranking officials have been involved in selling land to Albanians. -- Fabian Schmidt MACEDONIA SAYS CANCELED MEETING WITH GREECE WAS NOT PLANNED. Sources within the Macedonian Foreign Ministry said that a meeting between the foreign ministers of Macedonia and Greece, Ljubomir Frckovski and Theodoros Pangalos, in September in New York, was not planned "so there is nothing to cancel," MIC reported on 15 August. Pangalos on 13 August had canceled what he described as a scheduled meeting after Frckovski said Macedonia would refuse to negotiate its name. The Macedonian source said there had been the possibility of a meeting between Frckovski and Pangalos but "it was not formally prearranged." Meanwhile in Greece, Antonis Samaras, leader of the small nationalist Political Spring party, called on the government to stop all negotiations with Macedonia. He claimed that the government was about to reach a compromise on the name issue and was causing a fuss that "convinces nobody." -- Stefan Krause FURTHER REACTIONS TO AGREEMENT ON HUNGARIAN-ROMANIAN TREATY AGREEMENT. The Hungarian government, responding to the announcement that Bucharest and Budapest is ready to sign the bilateral treaty, said on 15 August that an improvement in Hungarian-Romanian relations would be beneficial for Hungary. But former Hungarian Foreign Minister Geza Jeszenszky was quoted by Reuters as describing the treaty as "meaningless." The Hungarian Democratic Forum commented that the treaty agreement runs counter to the interests of Hungarians in both Hungary and Romania. Meanwhile, in an interview with Adevarul, Romanian President Ion Iliescu said that including a mention of Council of Europe Recommendation No. 1201 in an annex to the treaty is not tantamount to recognizing collective rights or territorial autonomy based on ethnicity. However, the Socialist Labor Party, a former member of the ruling coalition, rejected any reference to the controversial recommendation. -- Dan Ionescu MOLDOVAN PRESIDENT ON INTEGRATION INTO EUROPEAN STRUCTURES. Mircea Snegur has called again for his country's integration into European structures, local agencies reported on 15 August, quoting an interview with a British publication. Snegur said that joining those structures would provide guarantees for consolidating Moldovan statehood and implementing democratic and economic reforms. He promised that his administration would work out a coherent program for cooperation with the EU, the Council of Europe, and the Western European Union. Snegur's main opponents in the fall presidential election--Prime Minister Andrei Sangheli and Parliamentary Speaker Petru Lucinschi--are widely seen as favoring closer relations with the CIS and Russia rather than with Western Europe. -- Dan Ionescu BULGARIANS GET INFO FROM STATE MEDIA BUT DON'T TRUST IT. According to a poll published in Standart on 16 August, the vast majority of Bulgarians living in Sofia and Plovdiv receive information on domestic affairs from the state media. Some 74% of respondents said state TV was their main source of information on events in Bulgaria and another 10% said state radio. Only 9% get their information from newspapers and 3% from private radio stations. At the same time, 56% of respondents said the news coverage and commentary of the state media is politically biased. -- Stefan Krause ALBANIAN SOCIALIST LEADER CALLS FOR "CIVIL BOYCOTT." Fatos Nano, in an interview with Koha Jone on 15 August, called for a "civil boycott of President Sali Berisha's illegal regime." Nano said he hoped that Berisha could be forced to the negotiating table, thereby increasing the chances of a change of government. He called on other opposition parties to continue their boycott of the parliament, adding that his goals are to approve a new constitution and to reach agreement on a date for early parliamentary elections. Nano also said that there are serious disagreements within the Socialist leadership over reform of the party's statute and program. He has demanded that all references to Marxism be dropped from the program and that long-time communist officials be removed from the party leadership. A Socialists party congress is scheduled for 24 August. -- Fabian Schmidt [As of 12:00 CET] Compiled by Jan Cleave --------------------------------------------------------------------- Copyright (c) 1996 Open Media Research Institute, Inc. 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