|A man should never be ashamed to own he has been in the wrong, which is but saying, in other words, that he is wiser today than he was yesterday. - Jonathan Swift|
No. 175, Part II, 10 September 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 UKRAINE TO LIFT PRICE FREEZE TWO WEEKS EARLY. Prime Minister Pavlo Lazarenko has announced that his government will lift its statewide price freeze on 16 September, two weeks early, Ukrainian agencies reported on 9 September. Lazarenko said his government had already informed international monetary institutions, including the IMF, about the decision, which was made because the introduction of the country's new currency, the hryvnya, has been going smoothly. Ukraine's temporary tender, the karbovanets, is scheduled to be phased out by 16 September. Lazarenko also announced that after raising excise taxes on spirits and tobacco products, Kyiv found funds to pay its wage arrears to coal miners for July by 16 September and pledged to pay off its August debt within a month. He added that some 60% of pensioners are set to receive the pensions owed them by mid-September. -- Chrystyna Lapychak POWER STRUGGLE ENSUES WITHIN CRIMEAN LEGISLATURE. A majority of Crimean lawmakers boycotted the scheduled opening session of the regional parliament over a demand by pro-Russian deputies that the assembly's leadership step down, Radio Ukraine reported on 9 September. Legislators failed to reach a quorum, thus preventing the opening of the session. Members of the Rossiya bloc of pro-Moscow caucuses accused supporters of the current presidium of deliberately blocking the session in order to stall a vote of confidence in the leaders, which the bloc has been pressing for. The separatist forces have called for the replacement of the speaker, Yevhen Supruniuk -- who remains hospitalized since he escaped a recent kidnapping attempt -- whom they consider to be ineffectual and overly pro-Kyiv. -- Chrystyna Lapychak BELARUSIAN PRESIDENTIAL AIDE WARNS OF COUP. Deputy chief of the president's administration Uladzimir Zamyatalin said there is "every indication of a coup d'etat" for which parliament was responsible, Belapan and Russian agencies reported on 9 September. Zamyatalin made the statement in reaction to the parliament's decision to place its own referendum questions on the ballot alongside President Alyaksandr Lukashenka's, including its version of a new constitution that would abolish the country's presidency. Lukashenka backed Zamyatalin, saying deputies were looking into the possibility of buying weapons and creating "another White House," Reuters reported. Parliamentary speaker Syamyon Sharetsky denied deputies had begun arming themselves in anticipation of a coup. -- Ustina Markus BELARUSIAN PRESIDENT EXAGGERATES SUCCESS IN RUSSIA. Attempting to show he has Russia's backing, Lukashenka on 7 September made a "blitz" visit to Moscow and made exaggerated claims about his meetings there, NTV and Russian Public Television reported two days later. Russian President Boris Yeltsin's press secretary Sergii Yastrzhembsky refuted Lukashenka's claims that he met with Yeltsin and even denied that any telephone conversation occurred. Lukashenka did meet with Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin and said the talks were very fruitful; however, Chernomyrdin's press service played it down as strictly a private visit. Foreign Minister Yevgenii Primakov's office could not confirm the minister met with Lukashenka. Russian Defense Minister Igor Rodionov and Security Council head Aleksandr Lebed did meet the Belarusian president at Lukashenka's initiative, and discussed the withdrawal of nuclear missiles from Belarus. On 9 September Lukashenka announced that beginning next year, Russia will pay for the external protection of Belarus's borders. -- Ustina Markus LATVIAN, LITHUANIAN PRIME MINISTERS MEET. Andres Skele and Mindaugas Stankevicius on 9 September in the village of Nica, Latvia discussed the delimitation of their countries' sea border, Radio Lithuania reported. The main problem is determining the borders of the economic sea zones since Latvia has signed oil exploration agreements with two foreign oil companies in areas claimed by both countries. Lithuania rejects Latvia's consideration of the Curonian Spit as a reef or uninhabited rock, arguing that the population density of Latvia and the spit, 42 and 32 people per square kilometer, respectively, does not differ significantly. If the spit is recognized as inhabited, Lithuania would claim about 70-80% of the disputable area where the oil fields are expected to be found. -- Saulius Girnius POLISH FOREIGN TRADE MINISTER GIVES LAST PRESS CONFERENCE. Jacek Buchacz on 9 September gave his last press conference in the Sejm, Polish dailies reported. Buchacz, who was dismissed on 4 September, said he did not want to follow Prime Minister Wlodzimierz Cimoszewicz's dictates. He argued that his decisions to provide state funds to private corporations were correct, and he announced plans to sue Cimoszewicz if he finds a lawyer ready to take his cause. Cimoszewicz's spokeswoman Aleksandra Jakubowska said the prime minister's statements on Buchacz on 7 September have been analyzed by lawyers, and she can only wish Buchacz the best of luck. -- Jakub Karpinski POLAND ON ARMING BOSNIA. U.S. special Balkan envoy James W. Pardew Jr. visited Warsaw on 6 September to determine what Poland can do to help the "Train and Equip" program aimed at strengthening Bosnia's Moslem- Croat Federation military forces, Polish media reported. Polish Deputy Foreign Minister Robert Mroziewicz said Poland would like to participate in the "Train and Equip" program "at the lowest possible level." The U.S. asked Poland to sell T 72 tanks to be financed by a NATO fund; however, Poland declined in line with the policy of many EU states of equal distance from all sides in the Bosnian conflict. The U.S. will sell M60A tanks. Mroziewicz said Poland will decide the extent of its assistance after Bosnia's elections on 14 September. -- Jakub Karpinski CZECH MINISTERS DEAL WITH BANK FRAUD. Czech Justice Minister Jan Kalvoda and Internal Affairs Minister Jan Ruml on 9 September agreed to set up a special team to investigate bank fraud and other large scale financial machinations, Czech media reported. The creation of the team has been prompted by the recent collapse of several Czech banks. Some 12 billion crowns ($440 million) were lost in the collapse of Kreditni and Investicni Banka, some of which apparently due to fraud. The special team will consist of the internal affairs ministry's investigators, experts from the Finance Ministry and the Czech National Bank, and possibly also foreign experts. Some Czech officials have admitted that the country does not have enough domestic experts to understand and deal with the complexities of bank fraud. -- Jiri Pehe SLOVAK OPPOSITION TO COOPERATE. Opposition representatives met on 9 September to discuss a strategy for the upcoming parliament session, RFE/RL's Slovak Service reported. The parties stressed that the ruling coalition has yet to respond to the opposition's challenge for discussions on questions of future development and EU and NATO integration. Social Democratic Party Chairman Jaroslav Volf said the following demands will be made: the dismissal of the board members overseeing Slovak TV and Radio and the National Property Fund, the abolishment of the OKO commission overseeing the Slovak Information Service and the establishment of a regular parliamentary committee with adequate opposition representation, the dismissal of Culture Minister Ivan Hudec and Prosecutor-General Michal Valo, and the return of the president's right to name the SIS director. Early elections must be prevented since they would free the government of responsibility for current policies, the opposition said. -- Sharon Fisher TWO OF THREE SLOVAK COALITION PARTIES SUPPORT CAPITAL PUNISHMENT. Association of Workers of Slovakia (ZRS) spokesman Jozef Mazar on 9 September announced his party's support for the reintroduction of the death penalty, CTK reported. Mazar was reacting to a statement made three days earlier by Slovak National Party Chairman Jan Slota, who said his party will launch a petition drive to reintroduce capital punishment if the parliament refuses to call a referendum on the matter during its September session. Mazar said the ZRS always favored the death penalty as "an effective means against murders and inhuman brutality." Capital punishment is prohibited by the constitution and by Slovakia's membership in the Council of Europe. Opposition representatives pointed out that studies have shown that implementing the death penalty does not necessarily decrease violent crime. -- Sharon Fisher HUNGARIAN DEFENSE ROUNDUP. Defense Minister Gyorgy Keleti on 9 September announced that 40 overhauled T-72 tanks purchased from Belarus will arrive in Hungary on September 20 as part of Russia's repayment of its state debt to Hungary, Hungarian dailies reported. Another 60 T-72 tanks and 30 new armored personnel carriers will also arrive soon in Hungary. In other news, Magyar Hirlap reported that Defense Ministry State Secretary Laszlo Borsits will resign soon over the uproar that followed the participation in May of Hungarian MiG-29 fighters in a training exercise in Poland, without parliamentary authorization. Meanwhile, Keleti has proposed reducing the term of basic military service from 12 to 9 months, starting next August, Nepszabadsag reported on 10 September. -- Ben Slay SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE BELGRADE, ZAGREB ESTABLISH FULL DIPLOMATIC RELATIONS. Croatia and rump Yugoslavia on 9 September established full bilateral relations with the exchange of diplomatic letters, Nasa Borba reported on 10 September. A Croatian Foreign Ministry statement said both sides have upgraded their existing liaison offices to embassy status. AFP reported that in Zagreb the exchange of letters involved Deputy Foreign Minister Ivan Simonovic and head of the rump Yugoslav mission Veljko Knezevic, while in Belgrade an identical ceremony included Deputy Foreign Minister Radoslav Bulajic and the head of the Croatian mission Zvonimir Markovic. Ambassadors will be named before year's end, and Croatian state media reported that Damir Zoric, head of Zagreb's refugee bureau, will represent Zagreb in Belgrade. -- Stan Markotich TWO EXTREMES OF BOSNIAN SERB POLITICAL SPECTRUM CAMPAIGN IN BRCKO. Two parties having completely divergent programs rallied on 9 September in Brcko, a potential point of a new Bosnian crisis. The relatively moderate Democratic Patriotic Block of Republika Srpska, led by Banja Luka's former mayor Predrag Radic, encountered jeers and catcalls when it called for more democracy. Meanwhile, the ultra-nationalist Radical Party of Republika Srpska gathered some 10,000 people attracted by the announcement that Vladimir Zhirinovsky would be one of the speakers; however, Zhirinovsky missed the rally due to a hold-up at the border with Serbia. Radicals in Brcko said Serbs should be united into a single state, and were greeted with shouts of "Long live Greater Serbia," AFP reported. -- Daria Sito Sucic BILDT WARNS SERBS THEY CANNOT SECEDE AFTER POLL. High Representative for Bosnia Carl Bildt said the Bosnian Serbs will not be allowed to secede from Bosnia after next weekend's elections, international and local agencies reported on 9 September. He threatened action against any party seeking to split from the republic. The secessionist rhetoric that dominates Serb preelection campaigning led Bosnia's main Muslim leaders on 7 September to ask the international community for guarantees that the forthcoming election will not result in the country's division, AFP reported. Meanwhile, at their meeting in Tralee, Ireland on 7 September, EU foreign ministers decided that troops will remain in Bosnia for at least two more years, Onasa reported. Bildt backed the idea and urged full implementation of the constitution agreed to under the Dayton peace accords. -- Daria Sito Sucic INTERNATIONALLY-SPONSORED INDEPENDENT TELEVISION ON AIR. Open Broadcast Network began broadcasting on 7 September, after delays caused by all Bosnian parties' unwillingness to cooperate, AFP reported the next day. The network -- established by the Office of the High Representative, the leading civic agency in Bosnia -- is designed to bring together five existing independent channels in the Bosnian federation. But disagreements over a basic program concept are already noticeable. Heads of the local television stations that joined the OBN fear it will become a new organization employing new journalists, while destroying existing stations, Oslobodjenje reported on 10 September. Meanwhile, Tuzla's mayor Selim Beslagic closed down the town's local television station for unknown reasons, local media reported. -- Daria Sito Sucic LJUBLJANA, ROME SIGN DEFENSE ACCORD. Slovenian Defense Minister Jelko Kacin on 9 September met his Italian counterpart Beniamino An-dreatta in Bologna to sign a bilateral defense agreement, AFP reported. According to a statement issued by the Italian ministry, Ljubljana's signing of the accord was in keeping with its aim of NATO integration. The Italian side also reiterated its support for Slovenian efforts to join the international organization. -- Stan Markotich HISTORIC CROATIAN CITY AND ENVIRONS ROCKED BY QUAKES, TREMORS. Dubrovnik and environs were again hit on 9 September by a tremor, adding to damage caused since the first 5 September quake. Then, the town of Ston, some 30 kilometers north of Dubrovnik, was the quake epicenter that measured 5.9 on the Richter scale. Some estimates say nearly 70 tremors struck the area since. AFP on 8 September reported that at least 90% of Ston's buildings are damaged, many seriously, and on 9 September Foreign Minister Mate Granic asked for EU aid for the Ston area, Hina reported. On 10 September, Zagreb and surrounding areas experienced quakes. In other news, AFP reported on 7 September that a strategic 500 meter-long bridge across the Sava, linking the Croatian town of Slavonski Brod with the Serb-held Bosnian town of Srpski Brod (or Bosanski Brod) was reopened that same day. -- Stan Markotich GERMAN PRESIDENT IN MACE-DONIA. Roman Herzog on 9 September arrived on a two-day state visit in Skopje, AFP and Nova Makedonija reported. Herzog held talks with his Macedonian counterpart, Kiro Gli-gorov, and Parliament President Tito Petkovski. He singled out Macedonia's "moderate" policies that led to a peaceful split form the former Yugoslavia and called its minority policy "exemplary." Herzog will meet Prime Minister Branko Crvenkovski on 10 September. During Herzog's visit, an agreement on bilateral protection of investments will be signed. Herzog is the first head of state of an EU member to visit Macedonia. -- Stefan Krause ROMANIAN ELECTORAL CAMPAIGN "GOES WEST." An American public relations person will manage incumbent President Ion Iliescu's electoral campaign for the ballot scheduled in early November, Romania libera reported on 9 September. George Gorton, who was also involved in Russian President Boris Yeltsin's successful electoral campaign, has arrived in Bucharest with a staff of 16 experts. Meanwhile, the executive chairman of the Party of Social Democracy in Romania, Adrian Nastase, has accused the presidential candidate of the Social Democratic Union, Petre Roman, of trying to bribe the electorate. Roman made a largely-publicized present of money (one million lei or some $315) to a couple at whose wedding he was best-man. -- Michael Shafir ISRAEL TO MODERNIZE ROMANIAN MiGs. Radio Bucharest and AFP reported on 8 September that Israel has struck an agreement to modernize around 100 MiG fighter-bombers for Romania's airforce. Citing the Tel-Aviv daily Ma'ariv, the report said a prototype of the modernized plane was shown last week at the Farnborough airshow in Great Britain. It was furnished with a new avionic system by the Israeli company Albit, and equipped with Russian air-air missiles usually mounted on MiG-29. -- Michael Shafir BULGARIAN "POPULAR UPRISING" ANNIVERSARY GETS MIXED REACTIONS. The 52nd anniversary on 9 September of the insurrection that overthrew the monarchist regime in 1944 and ultimately led to the establishment of a Communist regime was marked throughout the country by manifestations of both supporters and adversaries, Bulgarian newspapers reported. Most papers noted that this date, like no other, shows the deep division of Bulgarian society. In Sofia, around 2,000 mostly elderly followers of the ruling Bulgarian Socialist Party (BSP) met to mark the event. Zemya -- a paper associated with the BSP -- called the event "a great day that will forever remain in the memory of the Bulgarian people." Meanwhile, the opposition held a meeting in central Sofia commemorating the victims of Communist terror. The opposition daily Demokratsiya charged that the leftist demonstrations "unmask the demagogy of the Socialists' tales about change." -- Stefan Krause BULGARIAN PRESIDENTIAL ELECTIONS UPDATE. President Zhelyu Zhelev and Union of Democratic Forces (SDS) Chairman Ivan Kostov on 9 September discussed the political situation in light of the upcoming presidential elections, Kontinent and Standart reported. Zhelev -- who will not run in the October elections -- said the liberal forces will support the presidential candidate of the united opposition, Petar Stoyanov of the SDS. Kostov and Zhelev stressed the need for a united opposition. They said the ongoing economic crisis may complicate the election process and called on the government to ensure that the elections are free and fair. Meanwhile, former caretaker Prime Minister Reneta Indzhova announced that she will run for president as an independent candidate. Zhelev said he had warned her twice not to run because she lacks the support of "any serious political force." -- Stefan Krause ALBANIAN ROUNDUP. The Culture Ministry on 9 September announced that Albania's 15 Islamic theological schools will be closed down in 1997, Koha Jone reported. Effective immediately, they are not allowed to admit new students. The ministry gave no reason. The Muslim community denied a connection to the recent desecration of an Orthodox church in Voskopoja (see OMRI Daily Digest, 30 August 1996) and announced that it will try to have the decision revoked. Otherwise they will continue tuition in private houses. In other news, the independent trade unions called a nationwide one-day strike in most sectors for 16 September, Gazeta Shqiptare reported. They demand general compensation for the liberalization of bread prices, claiming that a government plan would compensate only 33% of the population. They also accuse the government of breaching an agreement providing for compensation of price hikes twice a year. -- Ismije Beshiri and Stefan Krause [As of 12:00 CET] Compiled by Sharon Fisher ------------------------------------------------------------------------ Copyright (c) 1996 Open Media Research Institute, Inc. All rights reserved. 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