|The fool wonders, the wise man asks. - Benjamin Disraeli|
No. 180, Part II, 17 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 WILL SEEK A SECOND TERM. Leonid Kuchma announced on Ukrainian television on 16 September that he will seek a second five- year term in the next elections scheduled for October 1999, Western agencies reported. He explained his decision by noting that world experience indicated that "ten years is the minimum period for a country that has started radical reforms to see results." The constitution that was passed this June limits the president to two consecutive terms. -- Saulius Girnius NATO OFFICIAL OFFERS UKRAINE "SPECIAL PARTNERSHIP." President of the North Atlantic Assembly Karsten Voigt said in Kyiv on 16 September that "Ukraine has the chance to establish a special partnership status with NATO," Western agencies reported. While Voigt did not define the "special" status, he said it would not jeopardize Ukrainian ties with Russia. Ukrainian officials have maintained that the country has no interest in full NATO membership, but it has participated actively in the Partnership for Peace program. -- Saulius Girnius ESTONIA "GRADUATES" FROM USAID. U.S. Ambassador to Estonia Lawrence Taylor read a letter from President Bill Clinton in Tallinn on 16 September at ceremonies officially ending U.S. Agency for International Development assistance to the country, Western agencies reported. Since 1991 Estonia has received about $30 million for projects supporting the reestablishment of democracy and promoting economic reform and environmental protection. President Lennart Meri and Prime Minister Tiit Vahi expressed thanks for the aid and satisfaction that Estonia is the first East European country considered to have advanced to the point that it no longer needs assistance to create a free market economy. -- Saulius Girnius 28 PARTIES COMPETE IN LITHUANIAN PARLIAMENTARY ELECTIONS. Only four of the 33 eligible political parties and organizations failed to register their candidates with the Supreme Election Commission for the 20 October parliament elections by the deadline of midnight of 16 September, Radio Lithuania reported. The Union of Political Prisoners and Deportees unexpectedly decided not to join a planned coalition with the Democratic Party and National Union, but those two parties nevertheless formed the only formal pre-election coalition. Some 1,400 candidates have been registered to compete for the 141 parliament seats. If the presented lists of at least 1,000 eligible voters are approved, there will also be more than 30 independent candidates. Following confirmation of the applications, ballot lists are scheduled to be printed in the state newspaper Valstybes zinios on 20 September. -- Saulius Girnius NEW WARSAW DAILY. The pilot issue of the new Warsaw daily Zycie (Life) appeared on 16 September. Tomasz Wolek, Zycie editor in chief, said a large group of potential readers looking for a traditional, bourgeois, and conservative paper, still does not have a journal; Zycie is to fill this gap. The paper is to be published by a Polish-German company owned by Wolek and two businessmen. The company has raised nearly $10 million to cover publishing costs. Wolek was until May the editor in chief of Zycie Warszawy. He and other Zycie editors left Zycie Warszawy when the paper changed ownership and the editorial policies. The first regular issue of Zycie is scheduled to appear on 28 September. -- Jakub Karpinski CZECH PRESIDENT STARTS TOUR OF SOUTH AMERICA. Vaclav Havel arrived in Brazil on 15 September for a week-long official visit, Czech and international media reported. The tour of Brazil is to be followed by visits to Chile, Argentina, and Uruguay. On 16 September, Havel met Brazilian President Henrique Cardoso. The two politicians discussed bilateral economic ties and global issues, such as the reform of the United Nations. Havel is accompanied by Trade Minister Vladimir Dlouhy and a group of Czech entrepreneurs. Dlouhy told reporters that the Czech company Skoda was considering building a truck factory in Brazil. -- Jiri Pehe CZECH BANK CRISIS SPREADS. The Czech National Bank announced on 16 September that the country's largest private bank, Agrobanka, "has suffered money-flow problems as a result of the recent collapse of Kreditni Banka," and that the National Bank is temporarily naming its own administrator to take over the bank, Czech media reported. Czech Prime Minister Vaclav Klaus, admitted the same day that "not everything is in order in our banking sector" and demanded investigation into criminal activities. At the same time, Klaus condemned "some political parties" for trying to make political capital out of the crisis and said there is "no reason for panic." Also on 16 September, the financial group Motoinvest, whose officials have been charged with crimes related to the collapse of Kreditni Banka, accused an official of the coalition Civic Democratic Alliance (ODA) of accepting kickbacks from the bank and being partly responsible for its collapse. The ODA has promptly rejected the charges. According to Business Central Europe, Motoinvest is a major shareholder in Agrobanka. -- Jiri Pehe CZECH GOVERNMENT TO FREE ENERGY PRICES. The economic ministers of the Czech government recommended at their 16 September meeting that energy prices be gradually freed over the next two years, Czech media reported. At the same time, the ministers agreed that families with lower incomes need to be compensated for the higher energy prices. Czech Labor Minister Jindrich Vodicka said the higher energy prices will also be reflected in increases in pensions. Energy prices have been subsidized by the state, and the cost of producing energy is currently higher than its sale price. The opposition Social Democrats have said they are not against freeing energy prices but want first to study the possible impact of the measure. -- Jiri Pehe OECD RELEASES REPORT ON SLOVAKIA. In a report released on 16 September, the OECD says that the quick economic growth of Slovakia has astonished many analysts, Slovak and international media reported. Slovakia recorded one of the best macroeconomic performances among Central and East European countries. The country's gross domestic product grew by 7.4% in 1995. The inflation rate, which stood at 25.1% at the end of 1993, was reduced to 6.1% by May 1996. State budget and current account balances recorded surpluses in 1995. The unemployment rate peaked at the beginning of 1995, with 15%, but fell to 11.9% by May 1996. The report focuses on the need to restructure the banking sector and privatized companies. It also deals extensively with Slovakia's potential for expanding its tourist industry. -- Jiri Pehe CONTROVERSY OVER HUNGARY'S DRAFT CONSTITUTION. The six-party agreement within the Hungarian parliament's constitution committee that has facilitated the drafting of a new constitution may be breaking down, Nepszabadsag reported on 17 September. Deputies from the opposition Christian Democratic Party are threatening to boycott constitution committee sessions unless their demands for a plebiscite on the basic rules of the constitution are accepted. Socialist Party deputy Mihaly Bihari told Nepszabadsag that the Christian Democrats' stand can only be interpreted as a putsch against the six-party agreement on constitutional reform. Although the draft constitution has been amended frequently since 1989, Hungary is still working with the 1949 constitution set up by the communist regime. -- Petronella Gaal and Ben Slay SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE IZETBEGOVIC LEADS IN BOSNIAN PRESIDENTIAL RACE. President Alija Izetbegovic is ahead of his top challenger for the Muslim seat on the Bosnian presidency, Haris Silajdzic, by 81% to 15%, OMRI's special correspondent reported from Sarajevo on 17 September. In the Serb race, Momcilo Krajisnik has 78%, but his opposition challenger Mladen Ivanic has 20%, a remarkably strong showing given the hold of the governing Serbian Democratic Party on the police and the media. A similar development is taking place among the Croats, where Kresimir Zubak is polling only 85% despite his Croatian Democratic Community's virtual monopoly on Croatian political life. His opponent, Ivo Komsic, has 13% support as of 9:00 a.m. Izetbegovic narrowly leads Krajisnik in total number of votes, which puts him in line to be the first to hold the rotating chair of three-man presidency, Reuters noted. CNN said that final presidential returns are expected later in the day. The complete tally for all contests is not due until later this week. -- Patrick Moore NATIONALISTS RIDING HIGH IN BOSNIA. Despite the challenges offered by Silajdzic, Ivanic, and Komsic, it seems clear that the three nationalist candidates will sweep the race. Similar results can be expected across the board, except perhaps for isolated cases such as Tuzla, where the anti-nationalist tradition is strong. U.S. envoy John Kornblum is now stressing the need to build common institutions, but it is difficult to see how this will happen with nationalists in control of all three groups. OMRI's special correspondent reported from Sarajevo on 17 September that the Bihac pocket kingpin and enemy of Izetbegovic, Fikret Abdic, attracted few votes in his presidential challenge. In Muslim-held Bugojno, experts said that the bomb that blew up the home of a prominent Croat on 13 September was the work of a professional, Onasa reported on 16 September. -- Patrick Moore IZETBEGOVIC AND MILOSEVIC TO MEET. French Foreign Minister Herve de Charette confirmed on 16 September that Bosnian President Alija Izetbegovic and his Serbian counterpart Slobodan Milosevic would meet in Paris this week, AFP reported. The summit will be the first bilateral meeting between the two presidents, although they have met at several international conferences on Bosnia. Despite an earlier visit to Belgrade by Ejup Ganic, the Bosnian Federation vice president, after which communication lines between the two countries were reestablished, Belgrade has yet not formally recognized the Sarajevo government. Belgrade warned it would not establish diplomatic ties with Bosnia until Bosnia dropped a charge of genocide filed against rump Yugoslavia with the Hague-based criminal tribunal. -- Daria Sito Sucic BOSNIAN SERBS WANT TO PLACE JOINT INSTITUTIONS ON DEMARCATION LINE. Aleksa Buha, head of the Bosnian Serb ruling Serbian Democratic Party (SDS), on Serbian TV expressed worry about the location of future common governmental institutions in Bosnia-Herzegovina and said that equality must prevail, Nasa Borba and Oslobodjenje reported on 17 September. "There was plenty of time for [the international community's high representative] Carl Bildt and [deputy high representative] Michael Steiner to find premises on the demarcation line between the Bosnian Federation and the Republika Srpska, or even to build new buildings [along that line]. I foresee further problems regarding this issue," Oslobodjenje quoted him as saying. Buha called the postponement of municipal elections in Bosnia an irrational decision. -- Daria Sito Sucic SERBIAN STRIKE MARKS TWENTY-FIRST DAY. About 20,000 workers, including those from the Zastava arms plant and the local automobile manufacturer, and their supporters demonstrated in Kragujevac on 16 September, the 21st day of the strike, Nasa Borba reported the following day. The job action shows no sign of letting up, and some participants predict that "the entire city of Kragujevac will hit the streets" within a day. On 14 September, however, Beta had reported that the workers had met with a partial success in having received an "advance" payment for July wages in arrears. Kragujevac Zastava autoworkers also received the promise of a 120 dinar ($24) bonus, Beta reported. -- Stan Markotich THE POLITICS OF POPULARITY IN RUMP YUGOSLAVIA. According to a recent poll of 1,045 citizens of rump Yugoslavia, Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic remains by far the most popular politician in the country. Nearly 46% of respondents picked Milosevic as the most popular and effective politician, while Montenegrin opposition leader Novak Killibarda came in second with 12.4%. Ultranationalist leader of the Serbian Radical Party Vojislav Seselj and Montenegrin President Momir Bulatovic tied for third, each garnering the approval of about 9.5% of survey participants. In Serbia proper, Milosevic was supported by 54.2% of respondents, with Seselj coming in a distant second with 12.45 support. Vecernje novosti reported the poll results on 14 September. -- Stan Markotich ROMANIA, HUNGARY SIGN HISTORIC TREATY. The Romanian and Hungarian prime ministers, Nicolae Vacaroiu and Gyula Horn, on 16 September signed a basic bilateral treaty that is aimed at controlling the two countries' historic rivalry over the province of Transylvania, local and Western media reported. The document was signed in the western Romanian town of Timisoara, the cradle of the December 1989 revolt that marked the end of the Communist regime in Romania. Romanian President Ion Iliescu, as well as the foreign ministers and political leaders from both countries, attended the ceremony. Romania's two main ultra-nationalist parties, the Party of Romanian National Unity (PUNR) and the Greater Romania Party, boycotted the event. PUNR leader Gheorghe Funar, who is also mayor of Cluj, proclaimed 16 September a "day of mourning" there. -- Dan Ionescu INTERNATIONAL RESPONSE TO HUNGARIAN-ROMANIAN TREATY. The United States on 16 September congratulated the Romanian and Hungarian governments for their signing of the basic treaty on that day, Reuters reported. According to State Department spokesman Nicholas Burns, the treaty "demonstrates the commitment of Hungary and Romania to rejoin the Western community of democratic nations and is consistent with the purposes of NATO enlargement." The treaty drew a cooler response from Moscow, AFP reported on 17 September. Although a Foreign Ministry statement did offer some words of praise, it also said: "Russia's attitude to enlargement of NATO eastward is well known in Hungary and Romania, as is the belief that our relations would only gain if this attitude were taken more fully into account." -- Ben Slay ROMANIAN EXTREMIST LEADER REGISTERS AS PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE. Corneliu Vadim Tudor, chairman of the extremist Greater Romania Party, on 16 September registered as candidate in the presidential race to take place on 3 November, Radio Bucharest reported. Tudor, who was accompanied by 40 associates and fans, presented a list with 125,000 signatures in support of his candidacy. Tudor pledged that if he is elected, he will rule Romania with "the Bible in one hand and the constitution in the other." He also said that he wished Romania to get back "its natural borders, [as they were set] on 1 December 1918." Tudor is the seventh candidate to formally register with the authorities. -- Dan Ionescu MOLDOVAN, DNIESTER EXPERTS RESUME TALKS. Expert teams from the Republic of Moldova and the self-declared Dniester Moldovan Republic met on 16 September in Tiraspol to continue negotiations over the Dniester region's legal status within the Moldovan state, BASA-press reported. The meeting was the first since June, when talks broke down following a chill in Chisinau-Tiraspol relations. Moldovan Deputy Foreign Minister Vasile Sova told journalists that another meeting might follow soon, with the participation of mediators from the OSCE, Russia, and Ukraine. The main stumbling block in the negotiations appears to be Tiraspol's insistence that Moldova recognize its distinct statehood within the framework of a loose confederation. -- Dan Ionescu DRASTIC MEASURES FOR THE BULGARIAN ECONOMY. Bulgarian local and national government leaders and leaders of the parliamentary Democratic Left held a closed meeting on 15 September, Bulgarian newspapers reported the next day. Prime Minister Zhan Videnov said the meeting's aim was to introduce the government's strategy for overcoming the national economic crisis, 24 Chasa reported. Some 14 banks will close, and some may be put under special governmental supervision, Demokratsiya reported. Depositor insurance is currently 100% for private persons and 50% for enterprises; the new insurance reportedly will not exceed 20% in cash repayments for any account, but depositors may expect 100% repayment in government bonds. Pari on 17 September reported that the meeting also addressed privatizing state firms, including those no longer needed for military production. The Bulgarian government vowed to take drastic measures following the IMF refusal of additional loans. -- Maria Koinova FOUR ALBANIAN COMMUNISTS SENTENCED FOR SETTING UP PARTY. A Tirana court led by Gjergj Pojani on 16 September sentenced four Albanians to 12-18 months in prison for founding a communist party and trying to overthrow the government by violence, AFP reported. The four (Timoshenko Pekmezi, 54; Sami Meta, 52; Tare Isufi, 73; and Kristaq Mosko, 45) were arrested in February during an investigation into a car-bomb explosion in Tirana, but the charges brought against them were not related to the incident. Pojani said the four were convicted "not because of their beliefs and communist convictions but because of their anti-constitutional activities." Communist parties have been banned in Albania since June 1992. The defendants had allegedly made organizational preparations and collected propaganda material. They said they would appeal the case. -- Fabian Schmidt ALBANIAN WORKERS STAGE GENERAL STRIKE. Some 150,000 public-sector workers staged a one-hour warning strike on 16 September, Reuters reported. They demanded full compensation from the government for recent price hikes in bread, gas, and fuel and for rising inflation. The Independent Trade Union and the Confederation of Albanian Trade Unions met government officials later that day but no results were announced. The unions threatened to hold a one-day strike in two weeks if no compromise is found. Workers in education, energy, health care, telecommunications, transport, and light industry participated in the strike, which also affected more than 700,000 pupils. -- 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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