|There is always one moment in childhood when the door opens and lets the future in. - Graham Greene|
No. 189, Part II, 30 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 ************************************************************************ Do you need sharply focused economic news? OMRI's weekly Economic Digest provides thorough coverage of business and financial developments throughout the region. The latest edition includes stories on the levels of foreign investment in Eastern Europe, how Polish banks are moving closer to privatization, the new quotas for vodka imports to Russia. For subscription and rate information, please send a message to email@example.com *********************************************************************** CENTRAL AND EASTERN EUROPE UKRAINIAN PRESIDENT IN RUSSIA. Leonid Kuchma emerged from a closed-door meeting with Russian Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin on 28 September saying that the two had agreed on the division of the Black Sea Fleet, Ukrainian and Russian agencies reported. Kuchma had arrived in Moscow the previous day on an unofficial visit. The two reportedly also discussed the issues of Russian gas supplies to Ukraine and the levying of a 20% VAT on Ukrainian imports. Kuchma said Chernomyrdin would visit Kyiv in October. Few other details of the meeting were made public, and the Russian side made no statements about the visit. -- Ustina Markus ROW OVER TV BROADCAST LICENSES IN UKRAINE. The Ukrainian government has set up a committee to monitor the distribution of broadcast licenses in response to the parliament's recent declaration of a moratorium on licensing by the National Broadcasting Council, Intelnews and UNIAN reported on 24 September. The government appointed Deputy Communications Minister Oleksander Hneletsky to chair the body, which will oversee the ministry's licensing of air time on the country's three national channels. Viktor Petrenko, chairman of the National Broadcasting Council, said the decision was an illegal attempt by the legislature and government to regain control of the airwaves from his presidentially appointed body. He said the 230 licenses his council has issued thus far to television companies would remain valid. Petrenko said the council had once again given Ukrainian State TV exclusive rights to air time on Channel 1, which has the most powerful signal. -- Chrystyna Lapychak WORLD BANK ASSESSES UKRAINE, BELARUS. Basil Kowalski, head of the World Bank department dealing with the western countries of the former USSR, said all those countries except Belarus are entering the second phase of their economic transition, RFE/RL reported on 30 September. Kowalski said the first phase was at the macroeconomic level while the more difficult second phase focuses on the microeconomic level, including privatization and working with market economies. Kowalski said Belarus had been going in a counterreform direction over the last nine months, and that the World Bank had shelved its plans to lend the country $170 million until it sees real commitment to market reforms. Kowalski praised Ukraine for its progress in reforms, and said a number of recently agreed-upon projects could open $1.3 billion in credits from the bank to Kyiv. -- Ustina Markus BELARUSIAN PARLIAMENT STRIPS STATE TELEVISION OF ACCREDITATION. The Belarusian parliament voted on 27 September to bar state television from covering parliamentary sessions because of bias in its reporting, Russian and Belarusian media reported. Parliamentary speaker Syamyon Sharetsky also instructed mass media to increase their coverage of parliament. Immediately after the resolution was passed, state radio and television were forced to leave the premises. Head of state television and radio Hryhor Kisel said parliament would have to work in a vacuum because of its decision. Last week Kisel was accused of denying parliament and opponents of the president, including Sharetsky, air time to express their views, although the law demands that the speaker be given unlimited air time. Kisel argued that under law only individual journalists are accredited, not the whole state television and radio company. -- Ustina Markus BALTIC PRESIDENTS REACT TO U.S. STATEMENT ON NATO. Presidents Lennart Meri (Estonia), Guntis Ulmanis (Latvia), and Algirdas Brazauskas (Lithuania) issued a joint statement on 28 September asking for full NATO membership as soon as possible, Western agencies reported. This was a clear reaction to the remarks by U.S. Defense Secretary William Perry the previous day that the Baltic states would not be among the first new NATO members because their armed forces do not yet have sufficient military capability. The presidents said they were "launching an intensified diplomatic effort to gain the support of all countries for our security via NATO membership and bilateral security arrangements with Western countries." They also asserted that their countries are prepared to make needed sacrifices "to develop our defense in order to be able to defend ourselves and other European countries." -- Saulius Girnius PEASANT PARTY COMES OUT ON TOP IN POLISH COALITION TUS- SLE. Weeks of sparring between the Democratic Left Alliance (SLD) and the Polish Peasant Party (PSL) over a government reorganization apparently ended on 28 September in the smaller party's favor, Polish dailies reported. The two parties of Poland's ruling coalition agreed that the PSL's Miroslaw Pietrewicz, currently a deputy prime minister and director of the Central Planning Office, would become treasury minister, instead of the SLD's Wieslaw Kaczmarek, the current minister of privatization. Pietrewicz's appointment would give the PSL direct control over privatization and the management of thousands of state enterprises. The coalition also agreed to support the SLD's Marek Borowski as economics minister. This would imply a demotion for Grzegorz Kolodko, the current deputy prime minister in charge of economic affairs. However, Kolodko insisted in a 30 September interview in Rzeczpospolita that he would remain in the government, presumably as finance minister. -- Ben Slay POLISH GAS SHORTAGE WORSENING. In the face of a worsening gasoline shortage that has left many of Poland's smaller private service stations without adequate fuel supplies, Deputy Minister of Industry Roman Czerwinski announced on 28 September that an additional 200,000 tons of fuel would be sold at auction from state reserves, Zycie Warszawy reported. Despite rising prices on the world oil market, the Polish government has not permitted the domestic price of gasoline to rise since late June. Rising demand fueled by Poland's booming economy has caused some municipalities to curtail public transport, and resulted in surreptitious increases in gasoline prices. This auction will be the largest of three conducted by the Polish government in the past two weeks. -- Ben Slay CZECH CENTRAL BANK REPORTS ON BANKING SECTOR. A report released to the media by the Czech National Bank on 28 September says the government has spent some 90 billion crowns ($3.3 billion) on stabilizing the banking sector. Most of the money was spent writing off bad loans and taking over as guarantor of deposits in the 12 banks that have collapsed in the last two years. The report states that high-risk loans constituted one- third of all loans provided by the failed banks and that most of their bad loans were made before 1994. According to the report, the main danger for the banking sector is that "nontransparent financial groups" are involved in banking operations. Such groups have attempted to channel money out of the banking sector into their own business operations. The report also criticizes auditing firms for generally failing to uncover serious problems. -- Jiri Pehe SLOVAK OPPOSITION PARTIES PLAN 'BLUE' COALITION. Democratic Party Chairman Jan Langos told CTK on 27 September that his party is preparing a permanent alliance with the Christian Democratic Movement (KDH), with the Democratic Union (DU) as a possible third partner in the "blue coalition." The name, based partly on the blue EU flag, is designed to stress the three center-right parties' pro-European orientation. DU Chairman Jozef Moravcik responded that although close cooperation among all opposition parties is needed, his party will most likely run independently in the next elections. He added that he sees no need to create such a group so early before the next parliamentary elections, scheduled for fall 1998. In other news, the KDH's council on 28 September expressed its support for party chairman Jan Carnogursky. The party's economic expert Mikulas Dzurinda had announced that he would run for Carnogursky's position at the party's November congress. -- Sharon Fisher NEW TRADE AND INDUSTRY MINISTER UNDER FIRE IN HUNGARY. The opposition Young Democrats on 29 September demanded that Tamas Suchman be dismissed over an allegedly unjustified payment of fees by the State Privatization and Holding Company (APV) to a legal representative earlier this month, Hungarian media reported. Until his recent appointment as trade and industry minister, Suchman oversaw privatization as a minister without portfolio. Press reports revealed last week that the APV paid nearly 300 million forints ($1.9 million) to a representative that was not a qualified lawyer. The daily Magyar Nemzet quoted the minister as saying he accepts "political and ministerial responsibility" in the matter, and will launch an investigation. -- Zsofia Szilagyi SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE OSCE VALIDATES BOSNIAN ELECTION RESULTS. The OSCE has declared the results of the 14 September Bosnian vote valid, the BBC reported on 29 September. On 27 September, following widespread criticism of irregularities including vote totals from individual polling places that exceeded the number of registered voters, the OSCE's own legal advisory body had called for a recount. But the OSCE said the isolated irregularities did not add up to massive fraud; election supervisor Robert Frowick told Reuters that "it was a reasonably democratic process and a reasonably democratic result which reflects the will of the people." Critics have accused the OSCE of yielding to U.S. pressure so that President Bill Clinton can claim the Dayton agreement is being carried out on schedule. The decision cleared the way for a meeting of the three-man Bosnian presidency and for sanctions against Belgrade and Pale to be lifted. -- Patrick Moore SCATTERED VIOLENCE IN BOSNIA. Oslobodjenje on 30 September reported the killing in Sarajevo two days earlier of Nedzad Ugljen, the deputy head of the controversial Bosnian Agency for Research and Documentation. In Mostar, a hand grenade landed on the apartment balcony of Josip Jole Musa of the opposition Joint List, causing material damage. He was recently elected to the Bosnian Federal Assembly. Along the busy but dangerous Route Arizona in northern Bosnia, a Muslim was shot and wounded on 27 September when his car was hijacked on Bosnian Serb territory, Onasa reported. Meanwhile, officials of more than 30 countries met in Dublin, Ireland, on 28 September to discuss plans for a modern and democratic police force for Bosnia-Herzegovina. The UN- sponsored conference sought to raise $99 million, but few countries made firm commitments. The largest was a $17 million package from the U.S. -- Patrick Moore GERMANY RESOLVED TO SEND BOSNIAN REFUGEES HOME. German Interior Minister Manfred Kanther warned that Bosnian refugees who refuse to repatriate to Bosnia-Herzegovina "will not end up in the Bosnian winter but in court," AFP reported on 30 September. The interior ministers of Germany's federal states agreed in September that repatriation of the 320,000 Bosnian refugees currently in Germany should start on 1 October, but they left it up to each state to decide on timing and procedure. Repatriation is to start with unmarried people and couples with no children, and refugees may only be sent back to "safe" regions, with each case to be dealt with on an individual basis. Vehid Sehic, head of the Tuzla-based Alternative Citizens' Parliament, said on 28 September that repatriation of refugees is a higher priority than a civic society and democracy, Nasa Borba reported on 30 September. -- Daria Sito Sucic FORMER CENTRAL BANK GOVERNOR TO LEAD OPPOSITION COALITION IN YUGOSLAV ELECTIONS. Former Central Bank Governor Dragoslav Avramovic announced he would lead the joint list of the Zajedno coalition in rump Yugoslavia's 3 November parliamentary elections. Avramovic successfully halted hyperinflation two years ago but was sacked in May after a dispute with Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic about economic and political reforms. Avramovic said his coalition wants to liberalize the state-run economy, to enact Western-style democratic reforms and reduce the size of the federal government. Observers suggest Avramovic's coalition could cost the ruling Socialists their two-thirds majority. Zajedno is made up of Vuk Draskovic's Serbian Renewal Movement, Vojislav Kostunica's Serbian Democratic Party, Zoran Djindjic's Democratic Party, Vesna Pesic's Citizens Union, and the Independent Trade Unions. -- Fabian Schmidt BOMB ATTACKS ON ARMY BARRACKS IN KOSOVO. Unknown assailants attacked army barracks near Vucitrn with two bombs on 27 September, AFP reported. No one was hurt in the incident, but shots were reportedly exchanged between soldiers and the attackers. The same day, police stations on the Belgrade-Podujevo road were sprayed with machine gun fire. -- Fabian Schmidt CROATIA PASSES RESOLUTION ON UN MANDATE IN EASTERN SLAVONIA. The Croatian parliament on 27 September passed a resolution saying the mandate of the UN Transitional Authority in Eastern Slavonia (UNTAES) "must end on 15 January 1997," AFP reported. Zagreb is stepping up pressure to prevent the renewal of UNTAES's one-year mandate, as requested by rebel Serbs who still hold the area of eastern Slavonia. But UN spokesman Philip Arnold responded that renewal of the UN mandate will "be only a UN Security Council decision." Meanwhile, the state-run newspaper Vjesnik reported on 30 September that the UN mandate in eastern Slavonia would most probably end by 15 April 1997, while the UN forces would withdraw from Croatia by 15 June. -- Daria Sito Sucic WORLD BANK GRANTS MACEDONIA $45 MILLION LOAN. A Macedonian delegation to the annual meeting of the World Bank and IMF in Washington agreed with the bank on 28 September on a $45 million structural adjustment loan, Nova Makedonija reported. The money will provide balance-of-payments support. The government agreed to further liberalize its foreign trade regime and privatize agricultural estates. The credit follows a 1994 economic renewal loan ($40 million) and a 1995 financial and enterprise sector adjustment credit ($20 million). -- Michael Wyzan ROMANIA OPENS OVER THE COUNTER STOCK EXCHANGE. Romania on 27 September inaugurated a long-awaited over-the-counter stock exchange that would help Romanians trade their shares in state-owned enterprises slated for privatization, Radio Bucharest reported. The ceremony, which took place at Bucharest's World Trade Center, was attended by President Ion Iliescu; Minister of State Mircea Cosea, who heads the government's Council for Economic Coordination, Strategy, and Reform; and other senior Romanian officials. The event is seen as the final stage in Romania's large-scale privatization scheme and a major step forward for the country's fledgling capital market. -- Dan Ionescu ROMANIAN, UKRAINIAN FOREIGN MINISTERS DISCUSS TREATY. Romanian Foreign Minister Teodor Melescanu and his Ukrainian counterpart Hennadii Udovenko on 28 September discussed ways of overcoming the current impasse in negotiations over a basic treaty, Radio Bucharest reported. The meeting took place in New York, where the two were attending the 51st session of the UN General Assembly. The ministers agreed that talks over the draft document be resumed at legal experts' level in the second half of October. The two countries have been unable so far to complete the negotiations, mainly due to Romania's insistence that the document include a formal denunciation of the 1939 Ribbentrop-Molotov Pact that resulted in Romania losing Bessarabia, northern Bukovina and the Herta region to the former Soviet Union. The last two territories, as well as southern Bessarabia and the Serpents' Islands, are currently part of Ukraine. -- Zsolt Mato IMF, WORLD BANK URGE REFORMS IN BULGARIA. IMF and World Bank sources said the two organizations will do everything possible to help Bulgaria get out of its present crisis but urged Sofia to take strong measures to get reforms back on track, RFE/RL reported on 28 September. They said Sofia must reform its banking system and speed up privatization. Bulgarian top officials and the IMF and World Bank held talks in recent days, but no side commented on them. IMF and World Bank sources said both organizations are working to put aid programs together, but such programs must await an agreement between the IMF and Bulgaria about the disbursement of the second installment of a $580 million standby loan. President Zhelyu Zhelev said he had sent a letter to IMF Managing Director Michel Camdessus "with a personal plea for financial and moral support for reforms in Bulgaria." -- Stefan Krause NINE ALBANIAN COMMUNIST-ERA OFFICIALS SENTENCED. Tirana Judge Mehdi Bici on 28 September sentenced nine senior communist-era officials to prison terms of up to 20 years, Reuters reported. The defendants were charged with sending dissidents into internal exile. They included Llambi Gegprifti, Lenka Cuko, and Irakli Vero, the former party leaders in Tirana, Lushnja, and Fier, respectively; former Kruja party chairman and local judge Idajet Beqiri, who currently heads the National Unity Party; Agron Tafa, Sulejmani Abazi, and Veiz Haderi, the secret police chairmen in Kruja, Tropoja, and Saranda, respectively; and former Interior Ministry department directors Nazmi Domi and Shkelzen Bajraktari. -- Fabian Schmidt CENTER POLE TO TAKE PART IN ALBANIAN LOCAL ELECTIONS. The Social Democrats and the Democratic Alliance said they would take part in 20 October's local elections, Reuters reported on 26 September. The two members of the Center Pole coalition thus abandoned earlier threats of a boycott. "Our fight should be held at the voting centers," Social Democrat leader Skender Gjinushi said. Democratic Alliance leader Neritan Ceka will run for mayor of Tirana. In other news, the Central Election Commission agreed on the division of TV broadcasting time for all parties in the election campaign. The governing coalition and the opposition will each receive 50 percent of the time, Rilindja Demokratike reported on 27 September. -- Fabian Schmidt [As of 12:00 CET] Compiled by Tom Warner ------------------------------------------------------------------------ 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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