|Life is what happens to us while we're making other plans. - John Lennon|
No. 179, Part II, 16 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 UKRAINIAN PRESIDENT, PARLIAMENT IN FRESH DISPUTE OVER CONSTITUTION. The president and legislature have accused each other of violating the new Ukrainian constitution, Ukrainian agencies reported on 12-14 September. President Leonid Kuchma's press service charged lawmakers with violating the new basic law when they ordered the government to pay for live TV and radio transmission of parliamentary sessions and when they voted to establish a new Central Electoral Commission. The press service statement said legislators have no authority to allocate funds through a separate resolution without amending the state budget and can only form a new electoral commission at the president's request. The parliamentary press office reacted by accusing the president of assuming the powers of the yet-unformed constitutional court. It claimed the constitution states the parliament has the authority to determine the constitutionality of legislation until such a court is established. -- Chrystyna Lapychak BELARUS TO RETURN MISSILES TO RUSSIA THIS YEAR. Belarus will return the last 18 SS-25 Soviet intercontinental ballistic missiles to Russia by the end of the year, UPI reported on 13 September following a meeting in Minsk between Russian Security Council Secretary Aleksandr Lebed and his Belarusian counterpart, Viktor Sheiman. The missiles are the last of the 81 ICBMs once based in what is now Belarus. Belarus has balked at several earlier withdrawal deadlines, citing financial problems or concern over the possible eastward expansion of NATO. Lebed's spokesman, Alexander Barkhatov, said that no documents had been signed but there were "no serious obstacles that could hinder" the transfer of the remaining missiles. Lebed then traveled to Viskuli in the Brest region for a meeting of the heads of security agencies of Commonwealth of Independent States countries where he also had a meeting with Belarusian President Alyaksandr Lukashenka. -- Doug Clarke and Saulius Girnius ESTONIAN PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION UPDATE. Incumbent President Lennart Meri and Deputy Parliament Chairman Arnold Ruutel are so far the only candidates in the presidential elections on 20 September. Four other persons--Narva Mayor Raivo Murd, computer specialist Enn Tougu, Siiri Ovir of the Center Party, and Tunne Kellam of the Homeland Union--have been mentioned as possible candidates, but none has yet formally announced candidacy. The electoral college that is to elect the president will consist of 101 parliament deputies and 273 representatives of local councils. Although the councils were required to choose their representatives by 13 September, there is no deadline for reporting the decisions and only 170 of the 257 had informed the electoral committee of their choices, BNS reported that day. -- Saulius Girnius PARTY EXPELS LATVIAN FINANCE MINISTER. The council of the Democratic Party Saimnieks on 13 September voted 56 to 2 to expel Aivars Kreituss from the party and to recommend his dismissal as finance minister, BNS reported. The main charges against Kreituss were that he had sidestepped the party's program and tarnished its image by failing to support a proposal to increase wages for teachers and by favoring plans to impose taxes on pensions. His establishment of a presidential campaign fund for his wife, Saeima Chairwoman Ilga Kreituse, was also seen as incompatible with his ministerial post. Saimnieks Chairman Ziedonis Cevers said he will inform Prime Minister Andris Skele of the decision but did not say whether the party will propose a no-confidence vote against Kreituss. -- Saulius Girnius SLOVAKIA HOSTS CEFTA MEETING. The prime ministers of the five countries of the Central European Free Trade Agreement (Hungary, Poland, Slovakia, Slovenia, and the Czech Republic) met in the mountain resort of Jasna, Slovakia, on 13 and 14 September, Slovak media reported. Slovak Prime Minister Vladimir Meciar said that the liberalization of trade among CEFTA members has slowed down, noting that "not all member countries are willing to move forward." The prime ministers agreed that CEFTA should expand; Bulgaria, Romania, and Lithuania have officially applied for admission. Russian Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin sent the summit a letter proposing closer cooperation between the CEFTA states and Russia, but Meciar said that the letter "was not a topic of our discussions." -- Jiri Pehe SLOVAK PREMIER ACCUSES PRAGUE OF ANTI-SLOVAK CAMPAIGN. Vladimir Meciar told Czech Prime Minister Vaclav Klaus during their meeting in Jasna on 13 September that some Czech politicians and media have engaged in an anti-Slovak campaign, Czech and Slovak media reported. The Slovak premier said that anti-Slovak campaigns in the Czech Republic seem to be orchestrated. In particular, Meciar criticized Czech Parliament Chairman Milos Zeman, who recently said that Bratislava, "with its current notion of democracy, cannot expect to be admitted into the European Union and NATO." Klaus rejected Meciar's criticism, noting that his government cannot interfere with the work of the media and that each country's image abroad is formed by domestic developments. The Czech premier expressed support for Slovakia's efforts to join NATO and the EU at the same time as the other Visegrad countries. -- Jiri Pehe SLOVAK PRESIDENT SAYS HE PRAYS FOR MECIAR. Michal Kovac said in a statement released on 13 September that he is sorry for Slovak Prime Minister Vladimir Meciar and prays for him. Kovac reacted to Meciar's recent statements at a rally of the premier's Movement for a Democratic Slovakia, where Meciar said that Kovac was "linked with criminal elements." According to Meciar, "all the frauds who want to steal can steal with the president's son, because they will be pardoned." In his statement, Kovac said that Meciar has been so full of hatred that "he no longer has full control over what he says and does. The hatred is so great that it has caused him to break laws and take part in crimes." -- Jiri Pehe CZECH POLICE CHARGE SUSPECTS IN BANK COLLAPSE. Czech police on 13 September charged five people with crimes related to the recent collapse of Kreditni banka, Czech media reported. Several more of the bank's officials were charged on 14 September. Some 12 billion crowns ($450 million) have been lost in the bank's collapse. Two of the accused, Jan Dienstl and David Knop-Kostka, are officials of the financial group Motoinvest, which recently acquired large holdings in several Czech companies. Investigators said they have seized documents that prove illegal money transfers and fraud took place. The opposition Social Democrats have demanded that a special parliamentary committee be named to investigate the scandal. The parliament's bank committee, however, decided on 13 September that the parliament will wait for the results of the police investigation before deciding whether to set up a special committee. -- Jiri Pehe RESULTS OF CHIRAC'S VISIT IN POLAND. French President Jacques Chirac, who ended his three-day visit to Poland on 13 September, mentioned 2000 as a possible year for Poland's entry into the EU. The date was welcomed by Polish politicians and the media, but Nico Wegter, a spokesman for the EU Commission, said Chirac's vision is too optimistic and 2002 is more realistic. Chirac's views were criticized by French National Front leader Jean-Marie Le Pen, who said integration with Europe would bring serious harm to Poland as well as to France. In the last day of his trip, Chirac visited Krakow and Auschwitz. -- Jakub Karpinski DOCTORS PROTEST IN POLAND. Around 10,000 doctors on 13 September took part in a silent march and demonstration in front of the parliament building in Warsaw to demand health care reform and pay raises. Every tenth Polish doctor took part in the demonstration, Polish media reported. The doctors want an increase in the health care budget from 4.6% of GDP to at least 6%. They demand that their overdue wages in 1991-1992 be paid, pay be raised to 5.5% above inflation, and the Sejm pass a law regulating the state's obligations to doctors. Health Minister Jacek Zochowski said that next year medical professions will be considered a budget priority. -- Jakub Karpinski HUNGARIAN REACTION TO BASIC TREATY WITH ROMANIA. Hungarian Prime Minister Gyula Horn left for Timisoara on 16 September to sign the Hungarian-Romanian basic treaty, Hungarian and international media reported. In addition to Horn and Romanian Prime Minister Nicolae Vacaroiu, Romanian President Ion Iliescu and other Hungarian and Romanian politicians were scheduled to be present at the signing. The Hungarian political opposition, particularly the Democratic Forum and the Christian Democratic parties, continued to voice opposition to the treaty and called on the Hungarian cabinet not to sign the document. Opposition from the Hungarian minority in Romania was also registered, as Protestant pastor Laszlo Tokes called on his congregation in Timisoara to protest against the treaty. Still, the Democratic Federation of Hungarians in Romania decided to send a representative to the signing ceremony. -- Ben Slay SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE BOSNIAN ELECTIONS END. Voting took place across Bosnia-Herzegovina on 14 September for six categories of offices, international media reported the next day. OSCE monitors called the election one of the most complicated in history but also described the vote in glowing terms as a virtually flawless success. Estimates of the turnout ranged from 65% to 80% of the electorate. The BBC pointed out that despite stringent security measures taken by IFOR and the UN police, only about 15% of the refugee voters made use of bus transportation to cross the former front lines and vote in their old homes. Preliminary results are expected on 16 September, with more complete tallies due later. Parties have already begun exchanging charges of vote-rigging. In particular, the Muslim Party of Democratic Action and the Serbian opposition Alliance for Peace and Progress have slammed the behavior of the Serbian Democratic Party. -- Patrick Moore THE BOSNIAN VOTE: A TURNAROUND OR A CONTINUATION? OMRI special correspondents in Sarajevo witnessed numerous irregularities or provocations, such as incomplete voting lists, voters being given pencils instead of pens to mark their ballots, refugees not being provided with bus transportation, and refugee polling places being set up not in normal buildings but in a mine. The correspondents gained the impression that the international community is determined to call the vote a success and will ignore any irregularities. Analysts suggest that the three nationalist parties--which control the bulk of the media and other resources, including the local police--will take the most votes among Muslims, Serbs, and Croats, respectively. If so, the vote is unlikely to mark Bosnia's return to being a single multi-ethnic state but will instead be one more step toward ethnic partition. -- Jan Urban and Yvonne Badal in Sarajevo, and Patrick Moore KARADZIC VOTES IN PALE. Bosnian Serb war crimes suspect Radovan Karadzic voted in the Bosnian elections in a polling station outside Pale on 14 September, AFP reported. His voting has embarrassed the UN and IFOR, whose commander Adm. Joseph Lopez said he did not know of any reports that any IFOR soldiers had seen Karadzic. Lt. Gen. Michael Walker, the commander of the NATO ground troops, said the IFOR mandate is not to seek out war criminals. -- Daria Sito Sucic PLAVSIC APOLOGIZES FOR SECESSIONIST RHETORIC. The OSCE on 13 September ordered acting Bosnian Serb President Biljana Plavsic to apologize on Serbian television for making repeated calls for the breakup of Bosnia in violation of the OSCE ban on such comments, Onasa reported. Plavsic, a hardline nationalist, read the apology three times that day. But Momcilo Krajisnik, Bosnian Serb candidate for Bosnia's rotating presidency, said the following day that Plavsic's statement was given under pressure and "we will quickly forget it and move forward." -- Daria Sito Sucic CROATIA PROTESTS HAGUE TRIBUNAL'S ALLEGATIONS. Croatia protested on 14 September against allegations by the UN International Criminal Tribunal for Former Yugoslavia (ICTY) that regular Croatian troops were directly involved in fighting in Bosnia during the Muslim-Croat war in 1993, local and international agencies reported. Foreign Minister Mate Granic warned in his letter to ICTY Chairman Antonio Cassese that allegations of Croatia's direct involvement in the Bosnia's conflict are untrue and could have far-reaching consequences for the peace process, Vjesnik reported the next day. The ICTY on 13 September confirmed its indictment of Ivica Rajic, a former Bosnian Croat general who later became a general in the Croatian Army, and issued an international warrant for his arrest. The tribunal warned that it would report Croatia to the UN Security Council if Croatia failed to hand Rajic over to The Hague. -- Daria Sito Sucic WAR WOUNDED PROTEST CROATIAN STATE SOCIAL POLICY. Some 4,000 veterans wounded in Croatia's 1991 war demonstrated peacefully on 14 September against the government's policy toward them, international and local media reported. Of 120,000 soldiers demobilized in 1995, 18,000 are now invalids, and they demand higher wages, better social care, and decent housing, as well as jobs for those able to work. Originally, the rally was designed to highlight the veterans' complaints about being abandoned by the government. But the protest rally was attended by high government officials, including President Franjo Tudjman himself, while state-run radio informed veterans throughout the country that attendance at the rally was limited. Thus, it appeared that the demonstration against the government was organized by the government itself, Novi List reported on 16 September. -- Daria Sito Sucic RUMP YUGOSLAV OFFICIALS ON SANCTIONS LIFTING. Federal Trade Minister Djordje Siradovic said on 13 September that the last layer of international sanctions against rump Yugoslavia should be lifted 10 days after the 14 September Bosnian elections, Reuters reported. Siradovic said Belgrade "considers that to be absolutely the moment for the definite removal of sanctions, since it has done everything in its power to implement the Dayton and Paris accords." But Montenegrin President Momir Bulatovic, speaking on a visit to the United States, said that sanctions against trade and travel should be lifted by 24 September but added that "the important changes will come only when [Belgrade's] membership in the United Nations, the World Bank, and the International Monetary Fund are reactivated," Nasa Borba reported on 16 September. -- Stan Markotich MONTENEGRIN TRADE MISSION IN U.S. Bulatovic on 12 September presided over the opening of a Montenegrin trade mission in the U.S. with offices in Washington, Montena-fax reported the next day. The Montenegrin president said the opening of the office was of vital importance for the rump Yugoslav republic and would serve in part to "rectify the negative image Montenegro has [in the West]." Bulatovic also said: "This is the first time in history that Montenegro is opening a trade mission in the desire both to contribute to relations between America and [rump] Yugoslavia and to pursue its [Montenegro's] own separate interests." -- Stan Markotich MORE CONTROVERSY IN ROMANIA OVER TREATY WITH HUNGARY. The signing of a Romanian-Hungarian basic treaty, scheduled for 16 September, has continued to stir controversy in Romania. The nationalistic Party of Romanian National Unity (PUNR) called upon the participants in a ceremony to honor Avram Iancu, a 19th-century hero of the anti-Hungarian resistance in Transylvania, to give President Ion Iliescu and senior government officials "the reception they deserve for having negotiated the treaty." The ruling Party of Social Democracy in Romania accused the PUNR of "inciting violence against the president, the prime minister, and the foreign minister." In another development, Adrian Paunescu, deputy chairman of the leftist Socialist Labor Party and a presidential candidate, called Iliescu "Hungary's new foreign minister." -- Dan Ionescu MENINGITIS POSTPONES SCHOOL YEAR IN ROMANIA. The Education Ministry on 13 September announced that the beginning of the school year would be delayed in Bucharest and in five counties because of an epidemic of viral meningitis, Radio Bucharest reported. The authorities initially played down the threat and criticized a decision by Bucharest Mayor Victor Ciorbea, a member of the opposition Democratic Convention of Romania (CDR), to postpone the new school year because of the appalling hygiene conditions in many schools. According to the latest data, almost 450 cases of viral meningitis were registered since the beginning of August; 30 were fatal. Meanwhile, the political row over the epidemic continues. The ruling Party of Social Democracy in Romania accused the CDR of having exaggerated the outbreak's magnitude in order to create panic and force the postponement of the presidential and general elections, scheduled for 3 November. -- Dan Ionescu DISPUTE CONTINUES OVER ALBANIAN ELECTIONS . . . Albanian President Sali Berisha on 13 September rejected a call by seven opposition parties to postpone 20 October's local elections, saying it was unconstitutional, Reuters reported. The dispute comes after a 4 September agreement between the opposition and the Social Democrats on changes in the electoral law and other laws and procedures. Social Democratic leader Gaqo Apostoli, however, expressed doubts whether the agreement would work out and said the elections should be postponed "until democratic standards are guaranteed." He also criticized a new law providing that members of local electoral commissions who boycott the polls can be sentenced to up to three years in jail. The Albanian branch of the U.S. Republican Institute, however, welcomed the recent "progress on electoral reform," Rilindja Demokratike reported on 15 September. -- Fabian Schmidt . . . AND WHO WILL MONITOR THEM. The OSCE's Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR), which gave a strongly critical report after the 26 May parliamentary elections, will not monitor Albania's local elections, an ODIHR official told OMRI on 16 September. Instead the OSCE's Parliamentary Assembly will send a monitoring mission. Poli i Qendres on 16 September alleged that Berisha told ODIHR head Audrey Glover during a recent visit that the organization was not invited to monitor the ballot. The ODIHR did not confirm the report, indicating that monitoring local elections was not its priority. The EU Parliamentary Assembly issued a much weaker and less detailed report after the ballot, and most of the international criticism of irregularities was based on the final ODIHR report. -- Fabian Schmidt [As of 12:00 CET] Compiled by Susan Caskie ------------------------------------------------------------------------ Copyright (c) 1996 Open Media Research Institute, Inc. All rights reserved. ISSN 1211-1570 ------------------------------------------------------------------------ SUBSCRIBING/UNSUBSCRIBING 1) Compose a message to LISTSERV@UBVM.CC.BUFFALO.EDU 2) To subscribe, write: SUBSCRIBE OMRI-L FirstName LastName (include your own name) To unsubscribe, write: UNSUBSCRIBE OMRI-L 3) Send the message BACK ISSUES Back issues of the OMRI Daily Digest are available through the World Wide Web, by FTP and by E-mail. 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