|Absence makes the heart grow fonder. -|
No. 185, Part II, 24 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 U.S. DEMANDS EXPLANATION FROM BELARUS. The U.S. embassy in Minsk has announced it is asking the Belarusian Foreign Ministry to clarify President Alyaksandr Lukashenka's televised statements that the U.S. and other Western embassies are trying to destabilize Belarus, international agencies reported on 23 September. U.S. State Department spokesman Glyn Davies called the statements "outrageous and provocative." Lukashenka the previous day had appeared on Belarusian TV claiming that U.S. and British diplomats were offering cash to Belarusian politicians who stymied his initiatives. Meanwhile, Belarusian Defense Minister Leanid Maltseu met with his Chinese counterpart, Chi Haotian, in Beijing on 23 September, international agencies reported. Chi said China's armed forces were ready to develop "all-round and all-faceted friendship and cooperation" with the Belarusian military. -- Ustina Markus UKRAINIAN PRESIDENT COMPLETES FORMATION OF NEW GOVERNMENT. Leonid Kuchma has completed forming the new government, Ukrainian and Western agencies reported on 23 September. He appointed Viktor Pynzenyk as deputy prime minister for the economy and Anatolii Minchenko as minister for industrial policy and the energy complex. Pynzenyk, a prominent reformer, is unpopular with the large leftist contingent in the parliament. He is due to present the government's economic program to lawmakers on 25 September. Minchenko is an academic and former head of the Ukrainian Association of Industrialists and Entrepreneurs. -- Chrystyna Lapychak UKRAINE TO SEEK FULL CONVERTIBILITY OF HRYVNYA. National Bank of Ukraine Governor Viktor Yushchenko has said Ukraine will soon take steps to make its new currency, the hryvnya, fully convertible on international markets, Radio Ukraine reported on 23 September. Yushchenko said the move is aimed at boosting the new tender. The government will consider such measures as pegging the hryvnya to another currency and introducing a narrow currency exchange band similar to Russia's. -- Chrystyna Lapychak UKRAINIAN FOREIGN NEWS ROUNDUP. The World Bank has approved a $2.6 million loan to Ukraine to finance the installation of an automated data processing system for its Housing and Municipal Service program, an RFE/RL correspondent reported on 23 September. Ronald Freeman, vice president of the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, met with Prime Minister Pavlo Lazarenko in Kyiv last week to discuss exploration projects for oil and gas in the Black Sea shelf and the completion of two reactors at the Khmelnitsky and Rivne nuclear power stations, Ukrainian radio reported. Lazarenko said there could be no delay in completing the reactors because 103 coal mines were to be closed by the end of 1997. Meanwhile, Croatian Defense Minister Gojko Susak arrived in Kyiv on 24 September. The two countries signed an agreement on military cooperation. -- Ustina Markus U.S. DAILY QUERIES UKRAINE'S ENTRY INTO MISSILE PACT. The Washington Times on 23 September criticized proposed U.S. policy changes allowing Ukraine to join the 28-member Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR) while continuing to produce missiles. The MTCR restricts members from exporting missiles whose range exceeds 186 miles and warheads heavier than 1,100 pounds. It also facilitates sharing missile technology among members. Argentina and South Africa both gave up their missile programs to join the MTCR, but in 1993, the U.S. redefined the MTCR restriction as covering only "offensive" missiles. This created a loophole for MTCR members to build space launchers, which are virtually identical to warhead-carrying missiles. It is unlikely Ukraine would be willing to give up it missile programs to join the MTCR, but several unnamed U.S. officials are afraid that if an exception is made for Ukraine, the MTCR would be dealt a "mortal blow." -- Ustina Markus ESTONIA, RUSSIA AGREE TO EXCHANGE LAKESIDE REGIONS. Delegations to the Estonian-Russian border talks in St. Petersburg on 19 and 20 September, while failing to reach a final solution, did agree on the exchange of territory bordering Lake Peipus, BNS reported on 21 September. Estonia is to give Russia 4.9 square kilometers of land to the north of the lake, receiving in exchange an equal-sized area near the island of Piirissaar and the Varska area to the south. The next round of talks is tentatively scheduled for the end of October in Tallinn. -- Saulius Girnius UKRAINIAN PRESIDENT IN LITHUANIA. Leonid Kuchma, during his two-day visit to Lithuania from 23-24 September, met with his Lithuanian counterpart, Algirdas Brazauskas, Radio Lithuania reported. The presidents signed a joint declaration affirming that the two countries are prepared to contribute to the creation of a new European security system. Foreign Ministers Povilas Gylys and Hennadii Udovenko signed an agreement on travel by their citizens and on the return of illegal migrants. The countries' finance ministers also signed agreements on avoiding double taxation and financial violations. Kuchma also met with Prime Minister Mindaugas Stankevicius and Lithuanian businessmen. -- Saulius Girnius POLAND HAD SPIES IN VATICAN DURING COMMUNIST ERA. Poland's communist-era Interior Ministry (MSW) had agents in the Vatican during the 1960s and 1970s, the Berlin daily Der Tagesspiegel revealed on 21 September. The paper quoted East German secret service (Stasi) files that included reports on Pope Paul VI's talks with the French and British foreign ministers as well as German Chancellor Willy Brandt. A former Polish secret service officer told Zycie Warszawy that a clergyman close to two popes was an MSW agent whose reports to Warsaw were forwarded to Moscow and Berlin. But former MSW Minister Krzysztof Kozlowski said Polish priests in the Vatican were too low-ranking for them to have access to the kind of information included in the Stasi files. -- Jakub Karpinski JOURNALIST ON U.S. FUNDING FOR SOLIDARITY IN 1980s. In a book due to be published in the U.S. today, journalist Carl Bernstein says that during the 1980s, the CIA and Western trade unions financially supported Solidarity to the tune of some $50 million, Gazeta Wyborcza reported. Bernstein claims his information was obtained from confidential CIA sources and confirmed by retired CIA head Robert Gates and former President Ronald Reagan's national security adviser, William Clark. Gates denied revealing such information, adding that the amount quoted by Bernstein is too high and that information on CIA funding is classified. Bernstein is known for his role in uncovering the Watergate affair, which ended President Richard Nixon's political career in 1974. -- Jakub Karpinski and Beata Pasek STRIFE AMONG CZECH OPPOSITION PARTIES. Leaders of the Communist Party of Bohemia and Moravia (KSCM) have criticized the Social Democratic Party (CSSD) for refusing to back the KSCM's demand to recall the minority government, Czech media reported on 24 September. The KSCM intends to propose a vote of no confidence in Vaclav Klaus's government at the next parliamentary session. The extreme-right Republican Party has announced it will support the KSCM, but CSSD representatives have indicated that the two other opposition parties cannot count on its support. CSSD deputy Pavel Dostal on 22 September called the attempts to dismiss the right-of-center government "a populist measure." He said that dismissing the government amid the current banking scandal would further shake foreign investors' confidence in the country. -- Jiri Pehe OPINION POLL SHOWS CZECH RULING COALITION AHEAD. An opinion poll conducted by the Institute for Public Opinion Research (IVVM) in early September--before the latest banking scandal--indicated that the ruling coalition would gain 114 seats in the 200-strong parliament. In the June elections, the three coalition parties gained only 99 seats and had to form a minority government. The poll, published in the Czech press on 24 September, showed that Klaus's Civic Democratic Party would gain 25% of the vote, the Social Democrats 24%, the Christian Democrats 11%, the Communist Party 9%, and the Civic Democratic Alliance (8%). The extreme- right Republicans would fail to win any seats. However, the Republicans traditionally gain more support in elections than in opinion polls. -- Jiri Pehe U.S.-SLOVAK MILITARY COOPERATION OFFICE OPENS IN BRATISLAVA. Slovak Defense Minister Jan Sitek opened a Consolidated Military Assistance Office in Bratislava on 23 September, TASR reported. U.S. Ambassador to Slovakia Ralph Johnson and military and air force attaches accredited in Slovakia attended the opening ceremony. The office is to coordinate all joint military activities undertaken by the Slovak and U.S. armed forces. -- Jiri Pehe HUNGARIAN PARLIAMENT CRITICIZES SLOVAK BAN ON FOREIGN ANTHEMS. The Alliance of Free Democrats (SZDSZ), the junior coalition partner, and the opposition parties on 23 September strongly criticized the Slovak parliament's recent ban on singing foreign national anthems in public, Hungarian media reported. They argued that the ban violates the basic treaty between the two countries, which entered into force earlier this year. The Foreign Ministry has already protested the issue to Slovakia. Opposition politicians warned that there is no guarantee that Romania will not act in a similar fashion, thereby violating the basic treaty it signed with Hungary last week. Meanwhile, the opposition has called on the government to clarify why both countries' media were given a preliminary rather than final version of the text of the Romanian- Hungarian treaty. -- Zsofia Szilagyi SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE DOUBTS GROW ABOUT BOSNIAN ELECTIONS. A quick recount of votes on 22 September confirmed that the three nationalist parties won the 14 September vote, but more questions are being raised about how free and fair the ballot was. No single example of gross fraud has been given, but various violations across Bosnia-Herzegovina led to vote totals vastly exceeding the originally estimated 60-70% turnout, Reuters reported on 24 September. In some cases, the results were as high as 111% in what a spokesman for the NGO International Crisis Group called "a mathematical impossibility." Controls were lax, monitors were present at only a third of the stations, and one monitor told OMRI that IFOR seemed to regard his colleagues as a nuisance. The OSCE, which supervises the elections, nonetheless appears anxious to validate the vote. OMRI's special correspondent reports from Sarajevo that the OSCE may well say that the various sides' "dirty tricks" canceled each other out and that the vote was basically fair. -- Patrick Moore BOSNIAN SERBS GIVE MUSLIMS ULTIMATUM TO LEAVE VILLAGE. Bosnian Serb authorities have given an ultimatum to a group of some 100 Muslims who on 22 September returned to the village of Jusici, in eastern Bosnia, carrying weapons that are banned in the separation zone, Reuters reported. The Muslims were told to leave by the next day or to be thrown out. That deadline was later extended to 25 September. AFP quoted NATO sources as saying that moving armed people into sensitive areas was clearly "provocative" and should have been done in "phases." Oslobodjenje on 24 September argued that while the Dayton peace agreement provides for the right of refugees to return to their homes, international mechanisms were not designed to ensure their safe return. The Muslims in Jusici were quoted as saying they will stay in the village at the cost of death, AFP reported. -- Daria Sito Sucic FIFTY BODIES RECOVERED FROM PILICA MASS GRAVE. International experts working at the Pilica mass grave site in eastern Bosnia have recovered 50 bodies so far, AFP reported on 23 September. The grave--the fourth Srebrenica site to be excavated--is believed to contain some 100 bodies of Muslim men killed after the fall of Srebrenica in July 1995. Some 154 bodies were recovered from the Cerska mass grave, 33 from Nova Kasaba and at least 58 from Lazete. Meanwhile, Bosnian government experts have been recovering bodies left in the open on the Kravice hillside, close to Srebrenica. Finally, war invalids and dependents of soldiers killed in the war demonstrated in Tuzla and the village of Gornji Rahici on 23 September to demand their pensions, Oslobodjenje reported. They have received no payments in six months. -- Daria Sito Sucic LIFTING OF SANCTIONS AGAINST RUMP YUGOSLAVIA TO BE POSTPONED? The independent Serbian daily Nasa Borba on 24 September reported that a disagreement between Moscow and Washington may mean that a UN Security Council resolution on lifting sanctions against the rump Yugoslavia will be postponed. Under the Dayton accords, sanctions were to be removed 10 days after elections took place in Bosnia-Herzegovina. Russian Ambassador to Belgrade Sergei Lavrov, argues that sanctions should be lifted on 24 September, since the elections took place on 14 September. Washington, however, stresses that the 10-day period cannot be considered to commence until the election results have been validated. -- Stan Markotich UPDATE ON RUMP YUGOSLAV-CROATIAN RELATIONS. Veljko Knezevic, an official at Belgrade's embassy in Zagreb, is quoted by Politika on 24 September as saying that Belgrade is prepared to eliminate visa restrictions for Croatian citizens. He added that owing to Croatians' "great interest" in traveling to the rump Yugoslavia, Belgrade is considering opening consular offices throughout Croatia, including in Osijek and Split. Meanwhile, the Croatian parliament on 20 September ratified the 23 August accord normalizing relations with Belgrade. It also adopted legislation granting amnesty to rebel ethnic Serbs, excluding war criminals, who fought against Croatia in 1991. -- Stan Markotich ROMANIAN DEFENSE MINISTER ENTERS ELECTION CAMPAIGN. Gheorghe Tinca, speaking on the Radio Bucharest program "Election Tribune" on 23 September, praised the ruling Party of Social Democracy in Romania (PDSR) for favoring Romania's integration into the EU and NATO. He said that President Ion Iliescu was "probably the only politician who was doing his best for Romania's [European and Euro-Atlantic] integration." Tinca announced over the 21-22 September weekend his intention to run for the Senate on the PDSR's ticket in Cluj-Napoca. Last week, Foreign Minister Teodor Melescanu said he would join the ruling party and run for the Senate. Both Melescanu and Tinca were senior Foreign Ministry officials under communist dictator Nicolae Ceausescu. -- Dan Ionescu MAJOR HASHISH SEIZURE IN ROMANIA. In the biggest drugs seizure in Romania so far this year, border police on 20 September confiscated more than 4.5 tons of hashish at a crossing point on the border with Hungary, Jurnalul national and Reuters reported on 23 September. The drugs were hidden in two containers filled with furniture. Romanian investigators are cooperating with the Bulgarian and Turkish police to find out how the drugs were smuggled into Romania. -- Dan Ionescu MOLDOVAN PRESIDENT MEETS WITH NEW OSCE MISSION HEAD. Mircea Snegur on 23 September received Donald Johnson, the new head of the OSCE mission in the Republic of Moldova, BASA-press reported. Johnson told Snegur that he will continue to uphold the OSCE's position that the breakaway Dniester region is part of the Moldovan state. Snegur said that Moldova will carry on seeking a peaceful solution to the conflict. Meanwhile, Moldovan Foreign Minister Mihai Popov and his Russian counterpart, Yevgenii Primakov, discussed the Dniester issue in New York, where they are participating in the 51st session of the UN General Assembly. -- Dan Ionescu BULGARIAN PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION UPDATE. The Central Election Committee has refused to register former caretaker premier Reneta Indzhova as a presidential candidate, Reuters reported on 23 September. It explained its decision by noting that her vice presidential candidate, Gen. Stoyan Tsonkov, is still a member of the armed forces and, as such, is precluded by the election law from running in the ballot. Indzhova announced that she will appeal the decision to the Supreme Court, saying a candidate's military status should not nullify his candidacy. Meanwhile, the parliament has supported a presidential veto of the country's new coat of arms (see OMRI Daily Digest, 11 September 1996), Duma reported on 21 September. -- Maria Koinova BULGARIAN ENTERPRISES FOR SALE, BANKS UNDER SUPERVISION. The government has approved a list of 15 state-owned enterprises to be privatized in a bid to gain a $116 million loan from the IMF, international media reported. On that list are seven major chemical works, two metallurgic plants, two shipyards, and four engineering companies. Meanwhile, the National Bank on 23 September placed nine banks teetering on the brink of collapse under government supervision. It also ordered the restructuring of several others. Five banks--including the major state- owned Mineral bank and the largest independent bank, First Private--are currently undergoing bankruptcy procedures, AFP reported on 24 September. -- Maria Koinova ALBANIAN PUBLIC WORKS MINISTER RESIGNS. Albert Brojka has resigned in order to be able to run as a candidate for the Tirana mayoralty in the 20 October local elections, Gazeta Shqiptare reported on 24 September. Meanwhile, Dita Informacion says that the permanent Central Electoral Commission is not performing its work properly and that disputes between the Democrats and the opposition are still prevalent. No consensus seems to have been reached over the radio and TV coverage to be granted each party during the election campaign. Zeri i Popullit has protested that the local election law has been violated by President Sali Berisha, who has engaged in election campaigning, and by public TV, which broadcast four times the opening of the ruling Democrats' 22 September election campaign. -- Fabian Schmidt [As of 12:00 CET] Compiled by Jan Cleave ------------------------------------------------------------------------ Copyright (c) 1996 Open Media Research Institute, Inc. All rights reserved. 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