|In the effort to give good and comforting answers to the young questioners whom we love, we very often arrive at good and comforting answers for ourselves. - Ruth Goode|
No. 177, Part II, 12 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 ANNOUNCES COMPLETION OF SMALL-SCALE PRIVA-TIZATION PROGRAM. State Property Fund Chairman Yurii Yekhanurov told parliament on 11 September that Ukraine had completed its small-scale privatization program, except in Crimea, Ukrainian TV reported. Yekhanurov said 80% of small enterprises were taken over via employee buyout lease options. He said 80% of privatization revenues went to local budgets. In regard to large-scale privatization, he said over 40 million residents had already picked up their vouchers. He complained, however, that investment declined because many potentially profitable companies were barred from privatization. -- Chrystyna Lapychak NEW CAUCUSES FORMED IN UKRAINIAN PARLIAMENT. Two new caucuses were formed within the legislature, Ukrainian TV reported on 8 September. A new center-left group, called Social-Market Choice, is made up of prominent figures such as former Prime Minister Yevhen Marchuk, former President Leonid Kravchuk, and ex-Donetsk governor Volodymyr Shcherban. The caucus has declared its opposition to the current government of Pavlo Laza-renko. The second caucus is a pro-government group comprising members of the Popular-Democratic Party and former members of the Statehood, Center, Unity, and Agrarians caucuses. Communist Party of Ukraine leader Petro Symonenko told Ukrainian agencies that his party will no longer argue against the legitimacy of the newly-adopted Ukrainian constitution, but will begin a campaign this autumn for early presidential and parliamentary elections. He said the group was also planning to organize mass labor strikes then. -- Chrystyna Lapychak BELARUS PARLIAMENT CHAIRMAN WARNS OF FASCISM. Syamyon Sharetsky in an article in Narodnaya Volya on 11 September said that the new Constitution proposed by President Alyaksandr Lukashenka "prepares the ground for a totalitarian fascist state," Reuters reported. In a strident attack Sharetsky noted: "There will be unlimited power for a single person. Such a draft can only be proposed by a person with a maniacal drive for power." The same day parliament deputies accused the presidential security service of searching their offices overnight under the pretext of searching for a bomb. Opposition leader Alyaksandr Dobro- volsky said that the police seemed to have been looking in vain for lists of deputies who signed a document on impeaching the president. He accused Lukashenka of using again the tactic of intimidation he had applied in April 1995, when opposition deputies on a hunger strike were thrown out of the parliament building and beaten up by masked guards. -- Saulius Girnius LITHUANIA TO DOUBLE DEFENSE EXPENDITURES. The Defense Council, made up of the president, parliament chairman, prime minister, foreign and defense ministers, decided on 10 September that Lithuania's defense expenditures in 1997 should increase to about one percent of gross domestic product (GDP), Radio Lithuania reported. This year the budget provided expenditures of 0.56% of GDP or about 200 million litai ($50 million). Defense Minister Linas Linkevicius said that the increased military spending was linked to Lithuania's effort to seek NATO membership. He noted that attention was already given this year to the purchase of needed military hardware as shown by the government guaranteeing the credit for the purchase of anti-tank armaments. -- Saulius Girnius GERMAN CHANCELLOR ON CZECH-GERMAN RELATIONS. Helmut Kohl told the German parliament on 11 September that the Czech-German declaration should be signed by the end of this year, Czech and German media reported. The declaration, to be adopted by the parliaments of both countries, will address some unresolved historical issues and hopefully help improve bilateral relations. Kohl has rarely commented on the declaration in the past. He admitted that the negotiations on the declaration have been more difficult than anticipated and that "the common past still stirs too many emotions." He noted that it was "Germans who attacked Czechoslovakia and Hitler's policies that caused injustice." Kohl suggested that Czech Foreign Minister Josef Zieleniec address the German parliament. -- Jiri Pehe SLOVAK PARLIAMENT REJECTS "DEMOCRATIZATION" PROPOSALS. Slovakia's opposition failed in its efforts to add most of its "democratization" proposals to the agenda of the parliament session that began on 11 September, Slovak media reported. In an unusual sign of unity, the opposition agreed to the moves during round-table discussions two days earlier (see OMRI Daily Digest, 10 September). However, only one of these proposals made it to the parliament's agenda: the no-confidence vote in Culture Minister Ivan Hudec, who has been under attack for his controversial policies on theaters and museums. The deputies also approved a separate proposal by Christian Democratic Movement Chairman Jan Carnogursky demanding that Interior Minister Gustav Krajci explain the spread of child pornography in Slovakia and the police's failure to stop it. -- Sharon Fisher PROCEDURAL CONTROVERSIES IN THE SEJM. The Sejm rejected on 11 September a motion demanding that the 30 August vote on the abortion law be repeated. The law broadened the conditions under which abortion is legal (See OMRI Daily Digest, 3 September 1996). Three deputies declared that their votes had been wrongly recorded by the Sejm's computerized system. Sejm Speaker Jozef Zych, however, noted that experts determined that the counting device was not broken during the August vote. The motion to repeat the August vote was supported by 158 deputies, mostly from the opposition, but also by 60 from the co-ruling Polish Peasant Party; 234 deputies, coming mostly from the co-ruling Democratic Left Alliance and the leftist Labor Union, were against and 31 deputies abstained. -- Jakub Karpinski CHIRAC, LANDSBERGIS IN WARSAW. French President Jacques Chirac told the Polish parliament on 12 September that France hopes Poland will join the EU by the year 2000. Chirac also supported Poland's desire to enter NATO quickly, saying this process should begin next year. "The year 1997 should engage the process, in an irreversible way," he said. Chirac arrived in Warsaw the previous day accompanied by four ministers for a three-day visit. Chirac also met his Polish counterpart Aleksander Kwasniewski and said Poland will be "one of the first or the first to enter the EU." Leader of the Lithuanian Conservatives and former parliament chairman Vytautas Landsbergis held talks with Kwasniewski and parliament speaker Jozef Zych. Kwasniew-ski said Warsaw will make efforts that Lithuania would not be left outside the European security structure. -- Jakub Karpinski SPANISH ROYAL COUPLE IN HUNGARY. King Juan Carlos and Queen Sophia arrived in Hungary on 10 September for a three-day official visit at the invitation of Hungarian President Arpad Goncz, international media reported. The highlight of the king's second trip to Hungary was his address to the parliament the next day, during which he expressed support for Hungary's European integration. "Hungary is destined to play an important role in building the new European security structure," Juan Carlos said. He also expressed appreciation for Hungary's stand on relations towards the neighboring countries, but warned that eventual NATO membership should not lead to further splits. -- Sharon Fisher and Petronella Gaal HUNGARIAN PARLIAMENT ON RESTITUTION OF JEWISH PROPERTY. Most Hungarian parties on 11 September agreed on a proposal to handle the restitution of Jewish property, Hungarian media reported. The proposal states that restitution will take place in accordance with paragraph 27 of the Paris Peace Treaty, which stipulates that the Hungarian government must compensate all victims of racial, religious, or fascist discrimination and transfer the compensation to the organizations that represent the victims. The Constitutional Court ruled that parliament had to settle the issue by 31 December 1993; however, few efforts were made before 1994, when the government of Gyula Horn established a committee to negotiate with Jewish organizations. In recent discussions, the parties agreed to create a foundation whose board of trustees will handle the property transfers. Foreign Affairs State Secretary Istvan Szent-Ivanyi said the restitution will be partial and gradual. -- Petronella Gaal SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE BOSNIAN SERB LEADER CONFRONTS SERB UNITY... Republika Srpska's (RS) acting President and the Serbian Democratic Party's (SDS) candidate for RS president Biljana Plavsic has again spoken out on the question of a Greater Serbia. Plavsic, in remarks reported by Nasa Borba on 12 September, observed that there is "no peace without the unity of all Serb lands." Plavsic also went on record as saying that the RS "has only that sovereignty which is afforded it by the Dayton peace, and for now we are happy with that." Nevertheless, she said "there won't always be this kind of anti-Serb climate in the world," implying that her commitment to partitioning Bosnia remains solid. -- Stan Markotich ...BUT IS THE SERBIAN PRESIDENT FINESSING THE ISSUE? But there is open speculation that Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic is influencing parties under his control in the Republika Srpska to address, or specifically to evade, the issue of the Bosnian Serb entity's status. On 12 September Nasa Borba reported that Milosevic recently held a closed- door meeting with officials from the Socialist Party of the Republika Srpska (SPRS), including its chairman, Zivko Radisic, who subsequently dropped his candidacy for the RS presidency. Radisic maintains he was not forced to withdraw his candidacy, but only that Milosevic asked him to mute any rhetoric dealing with "the issue of unity with Serbia because they [Milosevic's governing Socialist Party of Serbia] are under great international pressure to recognize Bosnia and Herzegovina." The limelight and the politicking of dealing with the RS's status, noted Nasa Borba, was the "hot chestnut [Milosevic] tossed into Plavsic's hands." -- Stan Markotich OPINION POLLS AHEAD OF BOSNIA'S ELECTIONS. A survey in September of 517 voters in the Bosnian federation conducted by the Sarajevo magazine Dani and the U.S. Information Agency indicated that 54.8% would vote for the ruling Muslim Party of Democratic Action (SDA), 17.2% or the opposition parties' coalition Joint List, 12.3% for former Prime Minister Haris Silajdzic's Party for Bosnia-Herzegovina, 1.3% for the Liberal Party, and 0.1% for the Women's Party, Onasa reported. It also revealed that in the Bosnian presidential elections 63.2% would vote for incumbent President Alija Izetbegovic, 23.1% for Silajdzic, and 5.8% for Social- Democratic Party candidate Sead Avdic. A poll of 1,000 Bosnian Serbs in the Republika Srpska conducted by the Bijeljina Extra Magazine indicated that 37.4% would vote for the ruling Serbian Democratic Party (SDS), 16.8% for the opposition coalition Alliance for Peace and Progress (SMP), and 16.4% for the opposition Democratic Patriotic Bloc (DPB). In the presidential race, 30.1% would vote for DPB's president Predrag Radic, and 29.4% for Biljana Plavsic from the SDS, Nasa Borba reported. -- Daria Sito Sucic INTER-ENTITY VOTER ROUTES AGREED. Interior ministers of the Bosnian Federation and the Republika Srpska on 10 September agreed on 19 routes across the entity line that voters could take to cast ballots in Bosnia's general elections on 14 September, Onasa reported. Bosnian Serb Interior Minister Dragan Kijac predicted that about 350,000 people would cross inter-entity borders that day. People will be able to cross the borders only in approved vehicles. The three officials in a joint statement assumed joint responsibility for ensuring maximum police presence along the agreed routes "to provide for the safety of all citizens." According to the agreement, voters have to return to their entities immediately after casting their ballots, and rallies and demonstrations are forbidden on election day. The mass movement of people will be closely watched by IFOR forces. -- Daria Sito Sucic BOSNIAN REFUGEE VOTER TURNOUT 75 PERCENT SO FAR. The OSCE said that three-quarters of the nearly half million Bosnian refugees registered to vote abroad have already cast their ballots for Bosnia's elections, AFP reported on 10 September. The figure of 75% is provisional, because voting slips are still arriving, and the final tally would be known only the day after the vote in Bosnia itself. Of 58 countries that accepted Bosnian refugees, Austria has the highest voter turnout with 86%, followed by Germany with 83%, and Serbia-Montenegro with 73%. Some 140,000 other Bosnians living abroad have registered to vote in person on 14 September in Bosnia. -- Daria Sito Sucic KOSOVAR SHADOW STATE PREMIER ON SCHOOL AGREEMENT WITH SERBS. Bujar Bukoshi voiced careful optimism about the latest agreement between Kosovar shadow state President Ibrahim Rugova and Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic allowing Albanian children to return to school (see OMRI Daily Digest, 3 September 1996), Illyria reported on 10 September. He said it would be a "significant moment in our political movement" if Albanian children returned to school. But Bukoshi also warned against "uncontrolled euphoria," noting that Belgrade had signed and then broken agreements before. He predicted Belgrade will put forward "substantial problems and obstruction" when it comes to implementing the agreement and noted that the agreement contained many "ambiguities leaving room for different interpretations." Bukoshi charged that Kosovo's Albanians gained nothing from the agreement while Milosevic manipulated all the parties involved to score points both at home and abroad. -- Stefan Krause MENINGITIS EPIDEMIC STIRS CONTROVERSY IN BUCHAREST. Bucharest's mayor Victor Ciorbea on 11 September announced that the start of the new school year would be delayed from 16 September until 1 October because of a meningitis epidemic that has swept through Romania since early August, Radio Bucharest reported. But Romanian Education Minister Liviu Maior said on the same day that mayors do not have the competence to interfere in the functioning of the educational system. The controversy appears to be of political nature, since Ciorbea is a member of the opposition Democratic Convention of Romania. Meanwhile, the epidemic of meningitis and meningo-encephalitis continues to spread. According to the latest data released by the Health Ministry, 414 cases have been registered until 11 September, of which 50 are children. The epidemic has resulted in 21 deaths so far. -- Dan Ionescu CONFERENCE ON MINORITIES ENDS IN BUCHAREST. The third international meeting of government offices for ethnic minorities questions ended in Bucharest on 11 September, Radio Bucharest reported. The two-day conference, sponsored by the Council of Europe (CE) and the Executive Commission of the European Union, was attended by delegations from 17 former communist countries from Central and Eastern Europe. This year's seminar, presided over by CE Deputy Secretary-General Peter Leuprecht and Viorel Hrebenciuc, Coordinator of the Romanian government's Council for National Minorities, focused on the implementation of the CE Convention for the Protection of National Minorities, as well as on cooperation among governmental offices dealing with minorities. -- Dan Ionescu DNIESTER LEADER REPLIES TO SNEGUR'S MESSAGE. In a letter addressed to Moldovan President Mircea Snegur, the president of the self-declared Dniester Moldovan Republic, Igor Smirnov, suggested that they resume talks only after the signing of a memorandum on the normalization of relations between the two sides, Infotag reported on 11 September. Smirnov repeated earlier accusations that the present deadlock in negotiations was caused by Moldova's reluctance to sign the memorandum. His letter came in reply to a 3 September message from Snegur, urging the Dniester leadership to resume talks on the region's future legal status within the Republic of Moldova, as well as regular summit meetings. Infotag also reported that Moldovan and Dniester experts will meet in Tiraspol on 16 September to continue drafting the status, after a break of more than two months. -- Dan Ionescu BULGARIA DENIES HOSTING SOVIET NUCLEAR WEAPONS. The Defense Ministry on 11 September dismissed as "pure insinuation" a report in Moscow's Komsomolskaya Pravda that Soviet nuclear missiles were stationed in Bulgaria in the 1980s, Bulgarian and international media reported. The Russian daily cited a former Soviet Army captain's assertion that he served in a "super-secret base" near the resort of Borovets, 60 kilometers from Sofia, which he claims contained 70 nu-clear warheads. President Zhelyu Zhelev and Chief of General Staff Tsvetan Totomirov in a joint statement denied the report and suggested someone might want to cause friction between Bulgaria and its neighbors Greece and Turkey, which are named as possible targets in the Russian publication. Former communist dictator Todor Zhivkov also dismissed the report, while then- Defense Minister Dobri Dzhu-rov did not comment. Komso-molskaya Pravda said former Soviet Defense Minister Dmitrii Yazov confirmed the existence of the base. -- Maria Koinova and Stefan Krause UPDATE ON BULGARIAN GRAIN CRISIS. Agriculture Minister Krastyo Trendafilov and Trade Minister Atanas Paparizov on 11 September informed the BSP Executive Bureau about efforts to ensure sufficient grain supplies, Pari reported. Trendafilov said that currently 130,000 tons of grain are being imported and a further 680,000 tons were purchased domestically. He assumed responsibility for ensuring the bread supply of Sofia and some mountainous regions. He said that other regions should take care of their problems by themselves, claiming that there are large amounts of grain in private bakeries and households. He said Bulgaria wants to import more grain, but needs credits because the government does not want to strain further the balance of payments. Paparizov called the grain problem short-term and financial. The grain and bread shortage that started at the beginning of 1996 has so far caused the resignations of two agriculture ministers. -- Stefan Krause [As of 12:00 CET] Compiled by Saulius Girnius ------------------------------------------------------------------------ Copyright (c) 1996 Open Media Research Institute, Inc. All rights reserved. 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