|[America,] it is the only place where miracles not only happen, but where they happen all the time. - Thomas Wolfe|
No. 161, Part II, 20 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 CENTRAL AND EASTERN EUROPE TAIWANESE VICE PRESIDENT IN UKRAINE. Taiwanese Vice President Lien Chan has made a secret journey to Ukraine, Reuters and ITAR-TASS reported on 20 August. Lien reportedly disappeared from New York on 18 August and flew to Kyiv to meet with President Leonid Kuchma. Ukraine recognizes the People's Republic of China, which has a strict policy against official recognition of Taiwan. Last year, Beijing denounced the Czech Republic and Austria after Lien visited those countries, and in 1992 China recalled its charge d'affaires from Latvia because Riga had established consular relations with Taipei. Under pressure from China, Latvia formally terminated consular ties with Taiwan in 1994. Taiwanese Foreign Minister John Chang did not confirm that Lien was in Ukraine but said the vice president was in a "third country." -- Ustina Markus CRIMEAN ECONOMY CONTINUES TO DECLINE. A Ukrainian government commission headed by Deputy Prime Minister Vasyl Durdynets has found that the Crimean economy has continued to deteriorate at a faster pace than most other regional economies, Ukrainian TV reported on 17 August. The agriculture sector has the worst record in output and sales. Ukrainian officials revealed that the Crimean government had provided Kyiv with falsified reports enhancing grain-procurement figures for the region's grain reserve. President Leonid Kuchma fired several local officials as a result. Only the tourism sector has seen improvement, its income increasing by 17% in the first six months of the year over the same period last year. Durdynets admonished Crimean authorities for poorly implementing budgetary policy, and he revealed a number of abuses and cases of embezzlement involving officials in the Education, Social Welfare, and Culture ministries. His commission also said the resettlement of exiled Tatars in Crimea had virtually stopped because of local funding cuts. -- Chrystyna Lapychak CRIMEAN PARTIES REFUSE TO RE-REGISTER UNDER UKRAINIAN LAW. Five pro- Russian political parties in Crimea have refused to re-register in accordance with a Ukrainian law on public associations that acknowledges only national parties, UNIAR reported on 16 August. The parties, including the Rossiya bloc, have protested a recent order by the Justice Ministry that they re-register under the conditions of the legislation or find themselves formally outside the party system. They claim the law, which does not recognize regional parties, violates their civil rights and Crimean autonomy. -- Chrystyna Lapychak BELARUSIAN DEPUTY SPEAKER ON BY-ELECTIONS. Belarus's first deputy parliamentary speaker, Vasil Novikau, said preparations for the 24 November by-elections will continue despite statements by President Alyaksandr Lukashenka that there is no need to fill the 60 vacant parliamentary seats, Belapan reported on 19 August. Novikau did not exclude the possibility that elections would not take place. He said that because the Constitutional Court has already ruled that 16 of Lukashenka's decrees contravened the constitution, it was possible the president would ban the by-elections, and there would be nothing the legislature could do about it. -- Ustina Markus ESTONIAN-CHINESE COOPERATION IMPROVING. Chinese Minister of State Li Tieying and Estonian Prime Minister Tiit Vahi on 19 August in Tallinn talked about ways of improving economic cooperation, such as signing an agreement to prevent double taxation, ETA reported. Li Tieying said that China would like to open a duty-free-goods warehouse and a department store in Estonia and use Estonia as a transit country for developing trade with the EU. The ministers also discussed the import of Chinese raw material for the production of rare-earth metals at the RAS Silmet plant. Vahi was invited to visit China with an economics and business delegation. -- Saulius Girnius LATVIAN, LITHUANIAN SEA-BORDER PROBLEMS. The Latvian parliament on 22 August is scheduled to discuss ratification of an agreement signed last October with Amoco and Sweden's OPAB on exploring possible oil deposits off its coast, BNS reported. Some of the area, however, is also claimed by Lithuania, and talks on determining the exact border have been unsuccessful. The two companies can cancel their agreements if the Saeima fails to ratify them by 31 October. Latvian Foreign Minister Valdis Birkavs said that the optimal time to sign a border agreement would be before Lithuania's parliamentary elections on 20 October as that would allow Lithuanian politicians to demonstrate "an ability to settle relations with a very friendly country." Birkavs, however, noted that Latvia will submit a memorandum to Lithuania on its position toward Lithuania's attempt to resume construction of the Butinge floating oil terminal, which Latvian environmentalists have protested. -- Saulius Girnius POSSIBLE REFERENDUM QUESTIONS IN LITHUANIA. Ruling Democratic Labor Party (LDDP) caucus head Gediminas Kirkilas announced on 19 August that, due to sharp criticism from other parties, the LDDP would abandon its plan to hold a referendum on giving the president the right to call early parliamentary elections and to appoint the defense, interior, and foreign affairs ministers, BNS reported. Kirkilas nevertheless said that a referendum should be held together with the parliamentary elections on 20 October. He said the referendum should include questions on strengthening the president's power over the courts, changing the date of parliamentary elections from fall to spring, and reducing the size of the parliament from 141 to 101 members. A referendum can be held on these questions only if 71 Seimas deputies submit them to the parliament for discussion. -- Saulius Girnius UNEMPLOYMENT IN POLAND SINKS TO FOUR-YEAR LOW. The Labor Ministry on 19 August announced that, in July, unemployment reached its lowest level since 1992, international agencies reported. Of working-age Poles, 14.1% were without jobs last month, compared with 14.3% in June and 14.9% at the end of 1995. The ministry also announced that the number of jobless registered at employment agencies in July was down 42,000 from the previous month. Unemployment is in single digits in Warsaw, while in the northern city of Slupsk it stands at 27%. -- Jan Cleave GOLDSTONE IN PRAGUE, CRITICIZES IFOR. Speaking on 19 August after a meeting in Prague with Czech Deputy Foreign Minister Sasa Vondra, the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia's chief prosecutor, Richard Goldstone, criticized IFOR for not arresting leading war-crimes suspects. CTK quoted Goldstone as saying that he believes there is still time to correct a "mistaken and unfortunate policy." Goldstone, who is to quit his post at the Hague tribunal this fall after two years of service, said he is optimistic that it is only a matter of time before other suspected war criminals are arrested. Goldstone argued that all UN member states need to adopt laws that make cooperation with the tribunal mandatory. Vondra told journalists that the Czech Republic is preparing such a law. -- Jiri Pehe SLOVAK RULING COALITION IN AGREEMENT. Following coalition discussions on 19 August concerning Slovakia's new territorial administration, Slovak National Party (SNS) Chairman Jan Slota told Slovak Radio that the three partners are in "100%" agreement. Slota, who stirred up a coalition crisis in June over privatization, noted that the meeting's participants were "pleasantly surprised" at the willingness of the Movement for a Democratic Slovakia (HZDS)--the senior coalition partner--to compromise. Meanwhile, Prime Minister and HZDS Chairman Vladimir Meciar noted that all parties had left the discussion "satisfied." He confirmed that the chiefs of the eight new regions will represent the HZDS, while three deputy posts will go to the SNS and five to the Association of Workers of Slovakia. -- Sharon Fisher SLOVAKIA'S TROUBLED NONPROFITS. Third Sector Association (GTS) representative Helena Wolekova on 19 August rejected assertions by Deputy Prime Minister Katarina Tothova that the UN approves of Slovakia's controversial law on foundations, Narodna obroda reported. Tothova, who traveled to Geneva earlier this month, said that UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Jose Ayal Lasso had no objections to the law, which was re-approved by the parliament in June after being vetoed by the president. The GTS, however, pointed out that Lasso had sent a letter expressing his reservations about the law before its re-approval. Although the law does not take effect until 1 September, Wolekova said the registrations of two foundations have already been rejected by the Interior Ministry, which will be responsible for approving new foundations. Tothova said Lasso's letter was not a "condemnation" of the law but a "challenge for discussion." -- Sharon Fisher HUNGARIAN UPDATE. Hungary's political and cultural leaders on 19 August attended celebrations commemorating the 1,100th anniversary of Hungarians' arrival in the Carpathian basin, international media reported. In a public address, Prime Minister Gyula Horn paid special attention to the importance of settling relations with Hungary's neighbors. Meanwhile, the World Federation of Hungarians on 18 August announced its opposition to the Hungarian-Romanian basic treaty-- particularly since collective rights for ethnic Hungarians are not guaranteed--and asked Hungary to reconsider its stance, the BBC reported two days later. Following a meeting in Budapest on 19 August with representatives of the Hungarian Democratic Federation of Romania, Miklos Duray of the Bratislava-based Coexistence movement said Hungarian minority representatives will ask for more discussions with Horn, TASR reported. -- Sharon Fisher SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE OSCE OFFICIAL SAYS ELECTIONS MUST GO ON. The head of the OSCE office in Sarajevo, Robert Frowick, said Bosnia's elections should go ahead as planned, despite problems and appeals, Onasa reported on 16 August. Frowick's statement came after the International Crisis Group, an international monitoring team, had recommended postponement of the September elections because conditions for free and fair voting are not yet in place. But Frowick on 19 August warned that the OSCE "reserves the right to invalidate electoral results" in areas where local officials fail to comply with the Dayton accord, AFP reported. Frowick warned that if government officials continue discouraging or prohibiting freedom of movement, the return of refugees and displaced persons to their homes, freedom of the press, and freedom of expression, they will face "serious consequences," according to the 20 August Oslobodjenje. -- Daria Sito Sucic TUDJMAN AND BOSNIAN CROATS DISCUSS ABOLITION OF HERCEG-BOSNA. Croatian President Franjo Tudjman on 19 August held talks on Brioni Island with senior Bosnian Croat officials to discuss the phased abolition of the Croatian ministate of Herceg-Bosna, international and local media reported. Kresimir Zubak, the president of the Muslim-Croat federation, said the Bosnian Croats will respect the 31 August deadline for Herceg- Bosna's dissolution, as agreed with their Muslim partners over the weekend. Following talks with Tudjman, Zubak said that "the ball is now in our [Muslim] partners' court." Meanwhile, Bosnian Premier Hasan Muratovic, on an official visit to The Hague, said the Bosnian general elections would be compromised if Herceg-Bosna is not dissolved by 14 September, AFP reported. -- Daria Sito Sucic CROATIA VIOLATES ITS OWN CONSTITUTION, DAYTON ACCORD. Kasim Trnka, the Bosnian ambassador to Zagreb, reproached the Croatian government for allowing election propaganda for the Bosnian branch of the Croatian Democratic Community and Fikret Abdic's Democratic People's Union on its territory, thus violating the Croatian constitution, the Dayton peace agreement, and a memorandum signed with the OSCE, Onasa reported on 18 August. Abdic, a Muslim rebel kingpin who found a safe haven in Croatia after his forces were defeated by the Bosnian army last summer, was granted Croatian citizenship by President Franjo Tudjman. He registered his political party in the Croatian portion of the Bosnian city of Mostar. Trnka complained about the OSCE decision to approve Abdic's election registration. The organization had noted that Abdic has not been accused by the war-crimes tribunal. A court in the northwestern Bosnian town of Bihac, though, indicted Abdic for war crimes on 10 August, Onasa reported. -- Daria Sito Sucic HAVE ZAGREB-BELGRADE TALKS HIT AN IMPASSE? Ivan Simonovic, Croatia's deputy foreign minister, met in Belgrade on 19 August with rump Yugoslavia's foreign minister, Milan Milutinovic, and emerged from talks observing that a number of issues, including a dispute over jurisdiction of the strategic Prevlaka peninsula, may delay the signing of a mutual- recognition agreement between Zagreb and Belgrade, Nasa Borba reported on 20 August. Croatian Foreign Minister Mate Granic was to travel to Belgrade on 23 August to participate in a signing ceremony, but Simonovic has now hinted that the signing may be postponed. "As far as Croatia is concerned, the quality of any agreement is much more important than the date when an accord on the normalization of relations is reached," Simonovic said on Croatian radio. -- Stan Markotich CROATIAN AUTHORITIES ARREST WAR-CRIMES SUSPECT. Police arrested a 29- year-old man identified only as "Goran V." near Osijek, Croatia, on 17 August, Hina reported on 19 August. According to Croatian authorities, the suspect, an ethnic Serb allegedly involved in supporting Croatia's rebel Serbs in 1991 and 1992, faces war-crimes charges that include armed insurrection. In May, Croatia passed amnesty legislation, but on 19 August AFP reported that Croatia's Ministry of Justice has not said how many individuals remain on its wanted list for war crimes. -- Stan Markotich BOSNIAN FEDERATION'S VICE PRESIDENT IN SLOVENIA. Ejup Ganic met Slovenian President Milan Kucan on 19 August for discussions on bilateral relations and regional political developments. Onasa quoted Ganic as saying that "Bosnia is prepared to step up contacts with Slovenia to the maximum, from sports to science and politics." For his part, Kucan predicted that the 14 September elections in Bosnia will be a watershed, saying he hopes the balloting will "affirm Bosnia as an independent state." -- Stan Markotich MACEDONIAN GOVERNMENT APPROVES DRAFT LOCAL-ELECTION LAW. The Macedonian government on 19 August approved the draft version of the local-election law, Nova Makedonija reported. According to the draft, municipal councils would be elected by a proportional system and mayors by majority vote. The term for both council members and mayors would be four years. The first local elections are to be called by the president of the Macedonian parliament and subsequent ones by the mayors. The government also discussed the draft law on the administrative division of Macedonia, which is to define the territories of individual communities. The parliament is expected to vote on both laws soon. -- Stefan Krause ROMANIAN NATIONALISTS STEP UP ATTACKS ON TREATY WITH HUNGARY. Gheorghe Funar, leader of the chauvinistic Party of Romanian National Unity, on 19 August continued to attack the recent agreement on a Romanian- Hungarian basic treaty. In a statement broadcast by Radio Bucharest, Funar rejected accusations by President Ion Iliescu's spokesman that he was "grossly misinforming" the public about the meaning of key clauses in the treaty. Funar also claimed that the negotiation of the treaty lacked transparency. He said the draft has remained unknown to the government, political parties, parliamentary commissions, and the media. Funar challenged Iliescu to take part in a public debate on national TV. -- Dan Ionescu MOLDOVAN ELECTORAL CAMPAIGN OFFICIALLY STARTS. The run-up to the 17 November presidential election in the Republic of Moldova formally opened on 19 August, Infotag reported the same day. Out of the country's population of 4.5 million, 2.4 million are entitled to take part in the vote (of whom some 150,000 reside in Moldova's breakaway Dniester region). Ten candidates have announced their intention to run for the presidency. Initiative groups (of which four had already registered with the Central Electoral Commission on 19 August) are busy seeking the 20,000 signatures required by law to validate a presidential candidacy. -- Dan Ionescu BULGARIAN PRESIDENTIAL-ELECTION UPDATE. The Bulgarian Socialist Party (BSP) believes that the registration of its candidate, Foreign Minister Georgi Pirinski, with the Central Electoral Commission will be challenged and consequently annulled, Kontinent reported on 20 August. Pirinski's eligibility is in question after the Constitutional Court effectively ruled that he is not a "Bulgarian citizen by birth" as required by the constitution (see OMRI Daily Digest, 24 July 1996). A leading BSP member said a plenary meeting that will nominate a new candidate is already being prepared. Meanwhile, the secretary-general of the Bulgarian Communist Party (BKP) and of the Communist International, Vladimir Spasov, on 19 August said he hopes to register two women as the BKP's presidential and vice presidential candidates. -- Stefan Krause RUSSIAN ADMIRAL OBJECTS TO U.S. PRESENCE IN BLACK SEA. On a visit to Bulgaria, the Russian Black Sea Fleet commander, Adm. Viktor Kravchenko, said Moscow does not approve of the presence of U.S. Navy vessels in the Black Sea, 24 chasa reported. "It is funny that the States claim that the Black Sea is a zone of strategic interest for them," Kravchenko said. He said the presence of U.S. ships in Bulgarian territorial waters contravenes the 1936 Montreux Convention, which regulates the presence of military ships of non-Black Sea countries. In 1995, 25 such ships passed through Bulgarian waters, and 20 have done so thus far in 1996. Kravchenko said Turkey's navy is the strongest in the Black Sea at present, both in terms of quantity and quality. Kravchenko admitted that the Soviet Union in 1945-50 dumped "small quantities" of chemical weapons in the Black Sea, but he said "they pose no danger." -- Stefan Krause [As of 12:00 CET] Compiled by Tim Rostan ------------------------------------------------------------------------ Copyright (c) 1996 Open Media Research Institute, Inc. All rights reserved. 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