|Words that open our eyes to the world are always the easiest to remember. - Ryszard Kapuscinski|
No. 194, Part II, 7 October 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 TEACHERS HOLD RALLY TO PROTEST UNPAID WAGES. Between 10,000 and 15,000 teachers and university professors staged a rally in Kyiv on 6 October to protest against unpaid wages and deteriorating conditions in the country's schools and universities, Western agencies reported on the same day. The teachers are the latest among many categories of public sector employees to hold public protests against the government's wage arrears, which reportedly amount to $1.5 billion. The educators, who have not been paid for months, said that the nation's students were most effected by government cutbacks in education, which have created a shortage of textbooks and left many schools unable to pay for badly- needed repairs. -- Chrystyna Lapychak ETHNIC RUSSIANS IN CRIMEA FORM DUMA TO DEFEND RIGHTS. Russian activists in Crimea held a congress on 5 October and founded a Duma, or legislature, to defend their rights and push for a new Slavic union between Russia, Ukraine and Belarus, ITAR-TASS reported on the same day. Some 80 delegates from various separatist parties and groups adopted a declaration, claiming the right to use acts of civil disobedience in cases of ethnic discrimination against them in the region. The document also said the group reserved the right to use arms "in the event of genocide or open terror against the Russian people or its representatives, as well as attempts to colonize the native Russian territories." -- Chrystyna Lapychak UKRAINIAN DEFENSE MINISTER ON NATO. Oleksander Kuzmuk reaffirmed Ukraine's position on NATO expansion, saying Kyiv recognized Poland's right to join NATO, but stressed that Ukraine was opposed to the deployment of nuclear weapons in Poland, ITAR-TASS reported on 5 October. Kuzmuk was speaking at the conclusion of Polish-Ukrainian military maneuvers at Nowa Deba in eastern Poland. The same day Kuzmuk met with his Kazakstani counterpart, Alibek Kazimov, in Kyiv for an unofficial visit. The two discussed cooperation in the military industrial complex (MIC), including Ukraine building ships for Kazakstan's navy. Kazimov also met with Valerii Malev, Ukraine's Minister for Machine Building, Conversion and the MIC. -- Ustina Markus LUKASHENKA SENDS LETTER TO COUNCIL OF EUROPE. In line with President Alyaksandr Lukashenka's contradictory policies, he sent a letter to the Council of Europe (CE) at the end of August which would have shocked his usual supporters--pensioners and orthodox communists, NTV and Russian Public television (ORT) reported on 5 October. In the letter, Lukashenka writes that "Belarus is actively seeking to cooperate with European structures, including NATO," and hopes to be accepted into the CE as soon as possible. Lukashenka also wrote that he was committed to economic reforms and the protection of civil rights, and that these goals were the reason behind holding the referendum on a new constitution. Deputy parliamentary speaker Vasil Novikau said the letter reflected the president's double standards, whereby Lukashenka upheld one policy for domestic consumption and another for the West. In public appearances in Belarus, Lukashenka has only advocated "market socialism" and has accused NATO ambassadors of plotting against him. -- Ustina Markus BALTIC ASSEMBLY MEETS IN RIGA. The ninth session of the Baltic Assembly, consisting of 20 parliament deputies from each of the Baltic states. met in Riga on 5-6 October, BNS reported. Latvian President Guntis Ulmanis noted that Baltic independence would be strengthened by membership in the European Union and NATO. Assembly Chairman Ivars Kezbers, however, said that it was unrealistic to believe that the Baltic states could join either organization by the end of the century and urged them to cooperate to bring their military forces up to NATO standards. He hoped Latvia and Lithuania could reach a compromise on the sea-border question and not have to resort to international courts or mediators. -- Saulius Girnius WORSENING PUBLIC IMAGE OF POLISH TV. After almost six months in office, Polish TV (TVP) Director Ryszard Miazek had a positive rating of only 30%, according to a poll by the Public Opinion Research Center (CBOS). Former TVP Director Wieslaw Walendziak, by contrast, had a 61% approval rating as late as March, Polish media reported. The number of viewers negatively evaluating TVP programs rose from 10% to 18%, while the percentage of people considering TVP independent decreased from 51% to 40%. Miazek said he is not responsible for TVP's plummeting image since his programming schedule has only been on the air for two weeks. -- Beata Pasek CZECH PRESIDENT COMMENTS ON POLITICS, CELEBRATES BIRTHDAY. Vaclav Havel said on 6 October, in his regular radio address, that "it would not be good if there existed [in the Czech Republic] a dictatorship of the parliament, and if the government were to be only an arm of the parliament." Havel was reacting to recent statements by Prime Minister Vaclav Klaus, who accused the opposition Social Democrats of trying to "govern through the parliament" and turn his government into a "puppet government." On 5 October, Havel celebrated his 60th birthday at a party in Prague's Archa Theater. A number of celebrities and politicians, including Klaus and parliament chairman Milos Zeman, attended the party. -- Jiri Pehe SLOVAK ACTORS' STRIKE INTERRUPTED. Slovak National Theater (SND) employees ended their strike on 4 October after the reinstatement of Stage Director Peter Mikulik by the new SND general director, Miroslav Fischer, Slovak media reported. Mikulik's dismissal in July by Culture Minister Ivan Hudec caused an outburst of criticism, and his replacement -- actor Lubomir Paulovic -- quit after little more than one month on the job. Fischer, who was a candidate of the ruling Movement for a Democratic Slovakia in the last elections, reappointed Mikulik after talks with the theater's trade union. Mikulik's reinstatement for the 1996-97 season was one of the actors' conditions for ending the strike. Fischer also agreed with the actors' other conditions; the holding of a public competition to replace Mikulik that will include SND drama representatives on the selection committee. -- Sharon Fisher SLOVAK HUNGARIANS COMPLAIN TO EU, NATO. More than 500 ethnic Hungarians gathered on 5 October in Komarno, where they were acquainted with an open letter to EU and NATO countries signed by their top political and cultural representatives, Slovak media reported. Titled "Democracy is Endangered," the protest focused not only on the situation of minorities but also on more general trends. The letter pointed to what they considered the Slovak government's moves to restrict democracy, jeopardize regional security, centralize state power, and nationalize culture. In particular, the statement criticized the language law, the laws on foundations and universities, the situation of minority education, the country's new administrative division, and the recently approved law on parliamentary negotiation order that bars Hungarian deputies from addressing the parliament in their mother tongue. -- Sharon Fisher HUNGARIAN GOVERNMENT SACKS MINISTER AND PRIVATIZATION AGENCY MANAGEMENT. The Hungarian government on 4 October sacked the entire board of the State Privatization and Holding Co. (APV), after revelations that the APV had made irregular payments to a consultant who negotiated with municipalities on APV's behalf, Hungarian dailies reported on 7 October. The cabinet ordered the consultant, Marta Tocsik, to repay the more than 800 million forint ($5.1 million) "success fee" to the treasury within 15 days. Prime Minister Gyula Horn wanted to spare Industry and Trade Minister Tamas Suchman, but upon pressure from both the Socialists and the junior coalition party Alliance of Free Democrats, he called upon Suchman to resign on 7 October. Suchman has been in charge of privatization since January 1995 and was named industry and trade minister only last month. Parallel with his nomination, supervision of the privatization process was put under the Industry and Trade Ministry. -- Zsofia Szilagyi THOUSANDS DEMONSTRATE AGAINST GOVERNMENT AUSTERITY MEASURES IN BUDAPEST. Concurrent with the increasing privatization scandal, the opposition Hungarian Democratic Forum on 5 October staged a demonstration outside parliament, protesting the government's austerity program, Hungarian media reported on 7 October. Vice President and former Prime Minister Peter Boross sharply criticized government policies, especially those on health care and pension reform. The estimated 15,000 strong crowd called for the re-establishment of social welfare payments, a return to three- year maternity leaves, and the elimination of a 2,000 forint ($20) monthly fee for university education. -- Zsofia Szilagyi SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE BOSNIAN SERBS BOYCOTT PRESIDENCY, PARLIAMENT. Representatives from Pale failed to attend the opening of the new all-Bosnian legislature and a session of the three-man presidency in Sarajevo on 5 October, Oslobodjenje reported. Serbian presidency member Momcilo Krajisnik said that he feared for the Serbs' safety, but it also appears that he was unwilling to take the loyalty oath to Bosnia-Herzegovina that was administered at the session. The Bosnian Serb leadership was also probably still angry that the Muslim presidency member and current presidency chair, Alija Izetbegovic, agreed to establish diplomatic relations with Belgrade last week without consulting Pale. Krajisnik denied that he and the others had staged a boycott but instead stressed the safety issue and added that the Serbs are ready to participate in joint institutions. International officials have protested to Pale, but it is not clear who has the next move in the ongoing chess game. -- Patrick Moore BOSNIAN LOCAL ELECTIONS TO GO AHEAD IN NOVEMBER. The OSCE's supervisor of the Bosnian elections, U.S. diplomat Robert Frowick, said on 4 October that the vote for local officials will go ahead on 22-24 November. It is not clear what he intends to do about the extensive political engineering that had been involved in the voter registration process and forced the postponement of the local ballot from the original 14 September date. Frowick said that he wants the elections to take place before the international military presence is reduced or withdrawn, the BBC noted. But critics claim that he is under strong political pressure from the Clinton administration to wind things up as quickly as possible, so that the president can claim to the U.S. electorate that things are proceeding on schedule. -- Patrick Moore CROATS LEAVE INAUGURAL SESSION OF SARAJEVO CANTONAL ASSEMBLY. Members of the ruling Croatian Democratic Community (HDZ) staged a walkout on 5 October at the first meeting of a lower-level parliament body to protest their lack of power in the Muslim-dominated assembly, AFP reported. Deputies of the assembly representing the HDZ arrived in the municipal center building but then walked out before taking the oath. In the 14 September Bosnian vote for Sarajevo's cantonal assembly, the HDZ won only 6%, while the Muslim Party of Democratic Action (SDA) won 59% of the vote. But although Sarajevan Croats did not vote for it, the HDZ wants one-third of the power in the Sarajevo canton, Oslobodjenje reported on 7 October. -- Daria Sito Sucic U.S. ENVOY DISCUSSES UN MANDATE IN EASTERN SLAVONIA. UN spokesman Douglas Coffman said that John Kornblum arrived in eastern Slavonia on 4 October to meet Jacques Klein, head of the UN administration of the region, to discuss the possibility of extending the mandate of UN troops in the last Serb-held region of Croatia, AFP reported. Coffman said that Kornblum came to show U.S. support for the reintegration process of eastern Slavonia to Croatia -- which is due after the UN mandate in the region expires -- but he also discussed the possibility of extending the mandate. The Serbs in the area want that UN mandate extended, while Croats want the troops to leave. According to the state-run Hina news agency, Kornblum met with Croatian President Franjo Tudjman and expressed hope that the UN mandate would end successfully. Tudjman repeated that the reintegration should be completed by 15 January. -- Daria Sito Sucic CROATIA CHARGES YUGOSLAV ARMY CHIEF WITH WAR CRIMES. Croatian prosecutors have charged Momcilo Perisic, the current Yugoslav army chief of staff, with war crimes when he was a colonel in the former Yugoslav People's Army (JNA), AFP reported on 5 October, quoting a Slobodna Dalmacija report. The prosecutor in the town of Zadar indicted Perisic along with eight other former JNA officers for having ordered and carried out attacks against civilian targets in Zadar and the surrounding region in August and September 1991. They are charged with war crimes, crimes against humanity, and for having violated international war conventions. In other news, the UN International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia on 4 October announced that the trial of Bosnian Croat General Tihomil Blaskic, charged of massacring Bosnian Muslim civilians, has been set for 8 January, AFP reported. -- Daria Sito Sucic UN HUMAN RIGHTS ENVOY VISITS KOSOVO. Elisabeth Rehn met with the Serbian prefect in Kosovo, Aleksa Jokic, and Kosovar shadow-state President Ibrahim Rugova on 6 October, AFP reported. She urged the opening of UN and EU offices in Pristina and discussed with Rugova the idea of an international administration. Rehn, however, said it was only one of many proposals. She also met human rights activist Adem Demaci. With Jokic she discussed the education crisis in the region. Despite a previous agreement between Rugova and Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic, some 200 schools still operate in private homes. -- Fabian Schmidt BELGRADE-SKOPJE ELIMINATE TARIFFS ON MUTUAL TRADE. In accordance with an agreement signed in Skopje on 4 September between the Macedonian and Federal Republic of Yugoslavia's premiers, all tariffs on goods traded between the two countries were eliminated on 7 October, Nova Makedonija reported. A uniform 1% registration fee will replace variable customs fees ranging up to 7.5%. However, quantitative restrictions on certain exports and imports remain, although Skopje and Belgrade have agreed not to introduce new ones. Macedonia continues to restrict importation of pork, milk, cheese, tobacco, ferrous metals, refrigerators, buses, and oil products, while federal Yugoslavia restricts exports of livestock, sugar, oil seeds, and leather. The trade liberalization is expected to increase bilateral trade turnover. The two sides intend to establish a free-trade zone by 1999. -- Michael Wyzan ROMANIAN ELECTIONS UPDATE. The Central Electoral Bureau announced on 3 October that sixteen candidates had registered for the presidential elections due to be held on 3 November, Radio Bucharest announced on 4 October. The bureau did not specify how many parties will be competing in the parliamentary elections, to be held concurrently with the presidential election. Registration for running in the elections was closed on 3 October. Among those running for the highest office are a faith healer and two former court poets of executed dictator Nicolae Ceausescu. The three top candidates are incumbent President Ion Iliescu, the candidate of the ruling Party of Social Democracy in Romania; Emil Constantinescu, the chairman of the Democratic Convention of Romania; and Petre Roman, former prime minister between 1990 and 1991 and the candidate of the Social Democratic Union. -- Zsolt Mato and Michael Shafir UPDATE ON TALKS BETWEEN BULGARIA, IMF, WORLD BANK. Bulgarian National Bank Governor Lyubomir Filipov said on 5 October that Bulgaria will receive the second installment of an IMF standby loan, the daily Duma reported on 7 October. Filipov said the $116 million installment will be disbursed in November at the earliest. At the end of October, an IMF mission will visit Bulgaria for a review of implementation of economic reforms. But Standart reported that the IMF on 4 October decided not to disburse the installment until 15 big state firms are sold. It added that Bulgaria will not receive a World Bank structural-reform loan until progress is made in mass privatization. The same report notes that the IMF only agreed to give Bulgaria a $35-50 million loan for urgent grain purchases. Standart noted that the government did not meet its obligations and that "in practice there is no structural reform." -- Stefan Krause BULGARIAN PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATES ON TV. The 13 presidential candidates gave short addresses on state television on 5-6 October. Culture Minister Ivan Marazov, candidate of the Bulgarian Socialist Party, said voters on 27 October will determine what Bulgaria's future will look like. Marazov blamed politicians for creating tension and said the killing of former Prime Minister Andrey Lukanov should "unite the nation." The united opposition's Petar Stoyanov said Bulgaria must chose between "national irresponsibility and catastrophe and the change of political and economic realities." He said he will strengthen the president's position vis-a-vis the government. In other news, Standart reported on 7 October that Lukanov had put together a new government list, planning to oust Prime Minister Zhan Videnov after the presidential elections. He reportedly named Interior Minister Nikolay Dobrev as Videnov's successor. Former President and Communist Party leader Petar Mladenov, however, dismissed the report. -- Stefan Krause GENERAL STRIKE IN ALBANIA. The Union of Independent Trade Unions of Albania (BSPSH) held a one-day general strike in Albania on 4 October, Dita Informacion reported on October 5. The trade unions demanded compensation for recent price hikes of bread and fuel. Dita Informacion points out that the protest was directed mainly against Prime Minister Aleksander Meksi's government, although "all of the relevant economic measures ... had the blessing of President [Sali] Berisha." Dita Informacion surmises that Berisha may sacrifice Meksi as a scapegoat to decrease social tensions in the country, adding that Berisha is interested in maintaining good relations with the trade unions and recently sponsored and addressed the BSPSH congress. -- Dukagjin Gorani [As of 12:00 CET] Compiled by Pete Baumgartner ------------------------------------------------------------------------ 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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