|Old age is the most unexpected of all the things that happen to a man. - Leon Trotsky|
No. 171, Part II, 4 September 1996
*********************************************************************** 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: firstname.lastname@example.org *********************************************************************** 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 GERMAN CHANCELLOR SIGNS AGREEMENTS WITH UKRAINE. Visiting German Chancellor Helmut Kohl signed seven trade agreements with Ukrainian President Leonid Kuchma on 3 September, Ukrainian radio and AFP reported. They included a deal with a coal-mining enterprise near Kharkiv and an agreement to modernize the Odesa airport. Germany is Ukraine's largest trading partner in the EU; Ukrainian-German trade totaled $1.6 billion in 1995. -- Ustina Markus UKRAINIAN PARLIAMENT MEETS. Parliament met in the first day of its sixth session on 3 September, Ukrainian radio reported. The resignations of three deputies in government posts were accepted. These included First Deputy Prime Minister Vasyl Durdynets; Anatolii Zolotarov, head of the state cooperative for industry and building; and Serhii Uspuch, head of the state administration in Transcarpathia. Under the new constitution, deputies cannot simultaneously hold other government appointments. Parliament also approved the national symbols as set out in the constitution and called for a nationwide competition on the exact design of the state symbol--a trident--and for words for the national hymn. Parliament is also considering who should replace Deputy Speaker Oleh Domin, who resigned after being appointed head of the Kharkiv oblast administration. -- Ustina Markus SPLIT AMONG BELARUSIAN COMMUNISTS. Several leader of the Party of Communists of Belarus issued a protest over party First Secretary Syarhei Kalyakin's signing of a resolution by the "round-table" opposition to President Alyaksandr Lukashenka, Belapan reported on 2 September. Viktar Chykin, secretary of the party's Central Committee, called for avoiding splits in the party. Chykin said Kalyakin's alliance with right-wing forces came as a surprise to ordinary communists. He said the "round-table" forum was unconstructive, and called upon the Communists to hold a special congress to work out a concerted policy over the referendum. Chykin's exact position is unclear, since he said he did not oppose Kalyakin's position in general, but felt the Communist leader should have first discussed the matter with party leadership. -- Ustina Markus INDEPENDENT RADIO STATION CLOSED IN BELARUS. Station 101.2 was shut down because its operations were "interfering in government communications," Radio Rossii and PAP reported on 1 September. The station broadcast primarily music and some news. The head of the station, Zhanna Litvina, said the move was just another in a series aimed at curtailing media freedom. She also said it was part of the state's anti-Belarusian policy, since it was the only independent channel broadcasting in Belarusian and fostering national "rebirth." The station plans to appeal the decision. -- Ustina Markus LATVIAN ARMY CHIEF RESTORED TO OFFICE. President Guntis Ulmanis and Prime Minister Andris Skele on 3 September officially restored Home Guard Col. Juris Dalbins as commander in chief of the armed forces, BNS reported. Dalbins had been suspended in late July after numerous fatalities in the armed forces, in part caused by inadequate military discipline. Ulmanis said an investigating committee had concluded that the direct commanders of companies and platoons, not Dalbins, were to blame. -- Saulius Girnius RESCUE OF LITHUANIA'S VAKARU BANK BLOCKED. The Lithuanian Cabinet voted on 30 August not to allow the Klaipeda State Harbor to invest 20 million litai ($5 million) in frozen funds into the Vakaru Bank in Klaipeda, BNS reported. Finance Minister Algimantas Krizinauskas said the Bank of Lithuania will soon revoke the bank's license and initiate bankruptcy proceedings against it, as promised in the memorandum signed with the International Monetary Fund on 4 July. He said the government will experience losses of 70-100 million litai with the bankruptcy, but even more if it attempted to save the bank. Krizinauskas said if the Vakaru Bank's license is not revoked by 19 September, Lithuania will lose an $80 million loan from the World Bank. But he said even after the filing of bankruptcy proceedings, the bank could save itself by finding outside investors without any direct or indirect government aid. -- Saulius Girnius BATTLE OVER POLISH PUBLIC TV CONTINUES. Polish Public TV's (TVP) most viewed Channel 1 has no director after the TVP board fired Tomasz Siemoniak on 30 August (see OMRI Daily Digest, 30 August 1996). Siemoniak had replaced Maciej Pawlicki on 1 April and made some concessions to the left-dominated TVP board, cancelling programs the ruling coalition considered unfriendly. But in August, Siemoniak refused to satisfy the demands of the board. The board then pressed Siemoniak to postpone the airing of a political program called "Echoes of the Day" and to remove its creators from other political programs. Several TV journalists resigned in protest. The opposition Freedom Union party accused the ruling coalition of trying to grab control of public TV, but Prime Minister Wlodzimierz Cimoszewicz denied on 3 September any attempts to influence the TVP. -- Jakub Karpinski SLOVAK POLITICAL UPDATE. The government on 3 September fired four state secretaries, Slovak media reported. The dismissal of Pavol Hrma and Pavol Kacic, state secretaries of the economy and interior ministries, respectively, followed last week's sacking of the heads of those ministries. Also fired were Environment Ministry State Secretary Jan Prislupsky and Culture Ministry State Secretary Olga Salagova, a former actress who supported the Slovak National Theater staff in their conflict with Culture Minister Ivan Hudec. Government spokeswoman Ludmila Bulakova told Slovak Radio that the changes are the result of coalition talks, and the cabinet approved the proposals without comment. The government also dismissed the heads of two ministerial offices. In other news, SND director Dusan Jamrich on 3 September warned that the theater is experiencing "the darkest period in its history, including the Fascist era." He denied Culture Ministry charges that he was involved in financial fraud, CTK reported. -- Sharon Fisher HUNGARY'S OPPOSITION ATTACKS DRAFT BASIC TREATY WITH ROMANIA . . . During a special session of the parliament on 3 September, opposition parties condemned the draft Hungarian- Romanian basic treaty, Hungarian dailies reported the next day. They accused governing parties of "supporting a draft that sets limits to minority rights, of neglecting the interests of the Hungarian community in Romania, and of supporting Iliescu's election campaign." Opposition leaders said the "approval of the basic treaty could win a pat on the back from Europe but never its respect." The session was convened on the initiative of the opposition in an effort to ensure that the cabinet will not sign the treaty without preliminary authorization from parliament. The initiative, however, was rejected in a parliamentary vote by governing parties, who hold 72% of all seats. -- Zsofia Szilagyi . . . BUT GOVERNMENT REMAINS ADAMANT. In reaction to the opposition's heated criticism, socialist Prime Minister Gyula Horn said, "I have heard nothing that would prevent me from signing the treaty." Foreign Minister Laszlo Kovacs argued that the international community considers the basic treaty the most important indication of an intention to improve bilateral relations with Romania. He said the treaty will help Hungary's Euro-Atlantic integration efforts and will contribute to stability in the region. He said the draft is the "maximum that can be attained under present conditions." Matyas Eorsi, chairman of Parliament's foreign affairs committee, warned that a failure to approve the treaty could lead to an increase in anti-Hungarian manifestations in Romania. He added that the chances of signing a document that is acceptable to both Bucharest and ethnic Hungarian organizations in Romania are close to zero. -- Zsofia Szilagyi SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE STATES OF FORMER YUGOSLAVIA MEET FOR SUCCESSION TALKS. Representatives from Bosnia, Croatia, Macedonia, and Slovenia met in Ljubljana on 3 September to discuss the succession issue but failed to make any headway, according to Reuters. A plan submitted by Sir Arthur Watts, legal expert to the international community's high representative Carl Bildt, was discussed at length but ultimately panned. While details of the Watts proposal remain sketchy, international media reports suggest its main weakness insofar as the representatives were concerned was its treatment of former Yugoslav assets held abroad. Shedding some light on the Slovenian position, Miran Majek, head of Slovenia's succession commission, said, "We cannot agree that the new Yugoslavia retains embassies that used to belong to the former Yugoslavia." -- Stan Markotich BOSNIAN REFUGEE VOTING ENDS. Voting by the 641,010 Bosnian citizens living abroad has finished, international media reported on 4 September. Voters live in 55 countries or territories ranging from Serbia- Montenegro, Croatia, and Germany--which have the largest numbers--to Albania and New Caledonia with but a handful each. The turnout was affected by technical problems--including late delivery of ballot papers or issuing of the wrong papers--as well as by various political problems and general confusion about candidates and parties. Voting lasted from 28 August to 3 September in Serbia-Montenegro, where the turnout reached 56%. Many Muslim voters stayed away from the polls in Germany, apparently confused as to whether their leaders back home had called for a boycott or not. Things went relatively smoothly in Croatia, where over two-thirds of those eligible voted. Balloting in Bosnia-Herzegovina itself is slated for 14 September. -- Patrick Moore NEW SLANDER CHARGES AGAINST INDEPENDENT MEDIA IN CROATIA. The ruling Croatian Democratic Community (HDZ) on 3 September filed slander charges against two independent newspapers, the daily Novi List and the weekly Nacional, international agencies reported. Senior editors of the two papers were accused for publishing "lies and delusions," muddying the leaders of the HDZ and its members. The charges were made under a new law providing for prosecution of journalists who offend top state officials, and only a few weeks before the country's first freedom of speech-related trial against a senior editor of the satirical weekly Feral Tribune. Novi List is Croatia's only independent daily, with a circulation of 40,000, and Nacional is a weekly magazine often critical of top officials. A free media was one of the conditions for Croatia's accession to the Council of Europe. -- Daria Sito Sucic GERMANY DETERMINED TO RETURN BOSNIAN REFUGEES. German Interior Minister Manfred Kanther said on 1 September the repatriation of about 320,000 Bosnian refugees will go ahead as planned on 1 October, AFP reported. Kanther said forcible expulsions may have to be used because not all the refugees would return voluntarily. A meeting of Germany's state authorities, who opposed the federal authorities on the issue of refugee repatriation, is scheduled for mid-September, when Kanther will be seeking formal approval of the repatriation scheme. But the Bosnian Ministry for Refugees said the 1 October deadline is too soon for refugee repatriation, and insisted on their voluntary return, Oslobodjenje reported on 4 September. Bosnian refugees in Germany hope to extend their refugees status there due to the postponement of Bosnia's municipal elections, originally scheduled in September, until spring. -- Daria Sito Sucic SERBIAN ARMS PLANT WORKERS CONTINUE JOB ACTION. Hunger strikers at the Zastava plant are being encouraged to give up that protest, Nasa Borba reported on 4 September. On 2 September Beta reported that opposition leader Vuk Draskovic's Serbian Renewal Movement had issued an appeal to the hunger strikers, urging them "not to take [this protest] to the end" since the government "wants nothing more than for [you]...to die of hunger." In other news, on 3 September Tanjug reported that visiting Polish Foreign Minister Dariusz Rosati met with Milosevic, and that both leaders called for improved relations between rump Yugoslavia and Poland in various fields, including agriculture, economics, and tourism. -- Stan Markotich CONFUSION SETTLED OVER KOSOVO AGREEMENT? Translation errors between the Serbo-Croatian and Albanian version continued to cause confusion over the education agreement that Kosovar shadow state President Ibrahim Rugova and Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic separately signed in Pristina and Belgrade on 1 September. The Albanian version explicitly mentions universities, while the Serbo-Croatian version does not. But the Sant'Egidio Community, a Rome-based Roman Catholic peace group that mediated the deal, said it had settled the dispute in talks on 2 September. Sant'Egidio's founder Andrea Riccardi said his group would continue to support the dialogue between the Serbian government and the LDK, Reuters reported. "There is no agenda, but I sense the next steps will be in the areas of civil life, culture, economy and health," he added. -- Fabian Schmidt MACEDONIA, BOSNIA TO ESTABLISH DIPLOMATIC TIES. Visiting Bosnian Prime Minister Hasan Muratovic and his Macedonian counterpart, Branko Crvenkovski, on 30 August agreed to establish diplomatic relations after the 14 September Bosnian elections, international media reported. Following the establishment of diplomatic ties, the two countries will sign agreements on economic and trade cooperation, on protection of investment, and against double taxation. -- Stefan Krause ITALY BACKS SLOVENIA ON NATO, EU. Italian Foreign Minister Lamberto Dini said on 3 September that "Italy will give full support to Slovenia's intentions" to join NATO and the European Union, Reuters reported. Those remarks came after Slovenian Foreign Minister Davorin Kracun met with Dini in Rome that same day. For his part, Kracun said both parties had signed two agreements aimed at allowing citizens of each country to travel to the other without passports or visa requirements. Slovenian- Italian relations have been steadily improving since May 1996, after Ljubljana dropped its objections to foreigners owning property, a move widely regarded as enabling Italian citizens whose property was nationalized after they left Slovenia after World War II to buy back real estate. -- Stan Markotich ROMANIAN CABINET RESHUFFLE. Following the ouster of the Party of Romanian National Unity (PUNR) from the governmental coalition, three new ministers, all members of the Party of Social Democracy in Romania (PDSR), were sworn in by President Ion Iliescu on 3 September, Radio Bucharest reported. They are Ion Predescu, former chairman of the Senate's judicial commission, who takes over the justice portfolio; Alexandru Lapusan, at agriculture; and Virgil Popescu, who is now communications minister. Lapusan and Popescu were formerly deputy ministers. The government also dismissed five PUNR county prefects and several deputy prefects. In a press release, the PUNR attacked the PDSR for its decision to break up the coalition, calling it "immoral" and aimed at achieving sole control of the parliamentary and presidential elections scheduled for 3 November. The PUNR also accused the PDSR of jeopardizing the country's national interests by deciding to sign the basic treaty with Hungary. -- Michael Shafir ROMANIAN MILITARY NEWS. Defense Minister Gheorghe Tinca on 2 September signed an agreement in London with the Bell Textron Company providing for the construction of the Cobra attack helicopter under license, Radio Bucharest reported. In other news, Romanian and international media on 31 August reported the beginning of a new NATO 10-day military exercise in the Black Sea. The exercise, conducted near the Romanian port of Constanta within the framework of the Partnership for Peace, is focusing on humanitarian and peacekeeping operations. Apart from Romanian and U.S. forces, participants include Greece, Italy, and Ukraine. -- Michael Shafir NEW MOLDOVAN PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATES. Moldovan Communist Party Chairman Vladimir Voronin has announced his candidacy in the presidential elections scheduled for 17 November, Infotag reported on 30 August. Voronin, who was Soviet Moldova's last interior minister, told Reuters he expected the support of many Moldovans disillusioned by the painful market reforms. In related news, Ilie Ilascu, who has been sentenced to death and has been in prison since 1992 for alleged terrorist acts in the breakaway Dniester Republic, also announced his intention to run. -- Michael Shafir BULGARIAN SOCIALISTS PICK NEW PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE. The Bulgarian Socialist Party (BSP) on 3 September nominated Culture Minister Ivan Marazov as presidential candidate and Deputy Foreign Minister Irina Bokova as vice-presidential candidate, Duma reported. Marazov had been the running mate of Foreign Minister Georgi Pirinski, who was rejected by the Central Electoral Commission and the Supreme Court. According to Kontinent, BSP leader and Prime Minister Zhan Videnov wanted Justice Minister Mladen Chervenyakov to run for president, while former party leader Aleksandar Lilov preferred Nikolay Kamov, chairman of the parliamentary foreign affairs committee. Standart reported that Videnov objected to Marazov, saying he is unsuitable as commander in chief of the armed forces and has health problems. The BSP again criticized the ruling but said it accepts it because it respects the democratic institutions. Meanwhile, Pirinski said he will file a complaint with the European Court of Justice for Human Rights. -- Stefan Krause BULGARIAN ROUNDUP. A Tupolev 154 of the Bulgarian carrier Hemus Air was hijacked on 3 September by a Palestinian man, Reuters reported. He hijacked the plane on a flight between Beirut and Varna, released the 150 passengers in Varna, and was then flown to Oslo, where he surrendered to the police. A Norwegian police official said the man asked for political asylum. In other news, Michael Kapustin, a Russian- born Canadian businessman and former owner of the "Life Choice" investment fund, was extradited from Germany, AFP reported. Kapustin is accused of defrauding investors of $18 million in "Life Choice," an obvious pyramid scheme. Kapustin claimed the fund was developing a cure for AIDS and promised 151% interest in 1993 and 227% in 1994. "Life Choice" paid the interest in 1993, attracting 10,000 new investors in 1994, put stopped paying in 1995 after transferring its funds overseas. -- Stefan Krause ALBANIAN OPPOSITION AGREES TO PARTICIPATE IN ROUND TABLE. Fourteen Albanian parties, including the opposition Socialists, Social Democrats and the Center Pole coalition, agreed to participate in talks with President Sali Berisha on 4 September, Rilindja Demokratike reported on 4 September. Zeri i Popullit said the talks would focus on a new law on local elections and added that the opposition parties in a previous debate had agreed to the meeting despite the fear that it "may be turned into a propaganda spectacle" by the government. -- Fabian Schmidt [As of 12:00 CET] Compiled by Janet Hofmann ------------------------------------------------------------------------ Copyright (c) 1996 Open Media Research Institute, Inc. All rights reserved. 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