On this shrunken globe, men can no longer live as strangers. - Adlai Stevenson
OMRI DAILY DIGEST

No. 211, Part II, 31 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

UKRAINE CONTINUES TALKS ON BLACK SEA FLEET. During talks in Sevastopol,
Ukrainian and Russian delegations agreed in principle on procedures for
evaluating military facilities to be divided, international media
reported on 31 October. Meanwhile, Rukh leader Vyacheslav Chornovil
announced that the Rukh and Reforms factions began soliciting signatures
in parliament to amend the Ukrainian constitution, which allows the
temporary deployment of foreign troops. Chornovil called for immediate
withdrawal of the Russian fleet from Ukraine, UNIAN reported on 29
October. In other news, Ukrainian Defense Minister Oleksandr Kuzmuk
signed an agreement on military cooperation with Turkmenistan's
President Saparmurad Niyazov in Ashgabat, international media reported
on 30 October. Ukraine will help Turkmenistan in equipment repair and
military training. -- Oleg Varfolomeyev

UKRAINIAN NEGOTIATIONS WITH GAZPROM. Gazprom Chairman Rem Vyakhirev
arrived in Kyiv on 30 October to negotiate Russian gas supplies to
Ukraine, Ukrainian and Russian agencies reported. This year Ukraine paid
for 97% of its supplies and owes only $447 million this year. A further
$1.4 billion debt accrued in 1993-1995. Gazprom representatives
suggested a debt-swap for shares in Ukraine's energy facilities, and a
joint-venture, Tranzgaz, to insure gas supplies flow to the West. Last
year, Ukraine's parliament blocked the initiatives because the joint-
venture planned to control two gas storage facilities in the country.
Parliament regards energy facilities as strategic assets and has kept
them off the privatization list. President Leonid Kuchma announced the
country would switch from a centralized gas distribution system to a
market system and has issued appropriate decrees. He also said it was
necessary to come to some long-term agreement on supplies for at least
20 years. -- Ustina Markus

REACTION OF WASHINGTON ON SITUATION IN BELARUS. The U.S. Commission on
Security and Cooperation in Europe held a hearing on the situation in
Belarus, RFE/RL reported on 31 October. Jack Segal, the director of
Ukranian, Belarusian, and Moldovan affairs at the U.S. State Department,
said that if the referendum on constitutional change in Belarus is held
without a less constricted press, it "would not be credible" and
violates human rights. Segal also accused President Lukashenka of
imposing "a virtual information blockade" through control of television
and radio. Previously, on 30 October, Segal pointed out that the U.S.
has no intention to isolate Belarus or interfere in its internal affairs
and will try to develop relations with the country, especially in
providing advice and aid, Itar-TASS reported on 30 October. -- Sergei
Solodovnikov

LATVIA SIGNS COUNCIL OF EUROPE CRIMINAL LAW CONVENTIONS. Latvian
Ambassador to the Council of Europe Andris Teikmanis on 30 October in
Strasbourg signed four international conventions, BNS reported. They
were the European conventions on extradition, on mutual assistance in
criminal matters, on the transfer of proceedings in criminal matters,
and on the transfer of sentenced individuals. The Latvian government
approved joining the conventions on 15 October and they will go into
effect pending parliamentary ratification. -- Saulius Girnius

POLISH PARLIAMENT COMMISSION ON OLEKSY AFFAIR. A special 12-person Sejm
commission investigating the secret services' role in the affair of
former Prime Minister Jozef Oleksy accepted on 30 October an initial
version of its final report, Polish dailies reported. Oleksy was accused
in December last year by former Internal Affairs Minister Andrzej
Milczanowski of having knowingly collaborated with Moscow spies.
Military prosecutors dropped the probe in April, deciding that the
evidence against Oleksy was insufficient. The Sejm commission prepared
two versions of the final report: one, supported by the majority,
accused Milczanowski of insufficient supervision of the State Security
Office (UOP), which was collecting evidence. In their version,
opposition deputies in the commission claim that UOP officers committed
mistakes and infringed the principles of "good work," but did not
violate the law. The version of the final report prepared by the
opposition was rejected by 6 to 4 vote. -- Jakub Karpinski

SLOVAK PRIME MINISTER ON MINORITIES. Speaking in a televised debate on
30 October, Vladimir Meciar asserted that human rights in Slovakia are
guaranteed by legislation and institutions, CTK reported. Meciar said
the controversial penal code amendment on the protection of the republic
will be reworked to ensure the safeguarding of the country's
sovereignty, security, and territorial integrity. He rejected the
increased demands from the Hungarian minority, stating that half of them
are actually Roma. Noting that he would like to see a comparative study
on the position of minorities in other European countries, Meciar said
"Slovakia will not become a guinea pig for Europe." He added that he
believes double standards are applied to Slovakia, while the country's
accommodating approach toward minorities is evidenced by the growth of
such groups. -- Sharon Fisher

HUNGARY'S NEW MINISTERS PLEDGE REFORM. Two socialist officials, Judit
Csiha and Szabolcs Fazakas on 29 October were appointed ministers
without portfolio for privatization and minister of industry, trade, and
tourism, respectively. The appointments come in the wake of the recent
dismissal of Tamas Suchman from both posts following a privatization
scandal (see OMRI Daily Digest, 7 October 1996) Csiha, formerly state
secretary at the Justice Ministry, pledged to make the privatization
process more transparent to the public. Fazakas--who was administrative
state secretary of industry and trade and Hungary's ambassador to
Germany--said he wants to rename his ministry the ministry of economy
and pursue a policy of export-driven growth and economic stability. He
is the fourth minister of trade and industry of the Horn-cabinet. --
Zsofia Szilagyi

SCANDALS SHIFT POPULARITY RATINGS OF HUNGARY'S POLITICAL PARTIES. The
opposition Young Democrats have caught up with the senior governing
Socialist Party in popularity (15% each), closely followed by the
opposition Independent Smallholders' Party (14%), Magyar Hirlap reported
on 31 October. The junior coalition party, Alliance of Free Democrats,
takes fourth place with 7% of the votes in a poll by Sonda Ipsos polling
agency. Other parliamentary parties received 5% or less. The poll
reflects the impact of the recent privatization scandal on the governing
parties' popularity, as well as that of the opposition parties--in
particular, the Young Democrats with an increase of 3% in a month. --
Zsofia Szilagyi

SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE

WAR CRIMES TRIBUNAL CALLS FOR ARREST OF FOUR BOSNIAN SERB POLICEMEN. The
International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia based in The
Hague issued a statement on 30 October demanding that Bosnian Serb
authorities "immediately arrest" four indicted war criminals, AFP
reported. The court slammed the Serbs for keeping the men on the force
in violation of the Dayton agreement and international law (see OMRI
Daily Digest, 30 October 1996). In Sarajevo, the office of the
international community's High Representative Carl Bildt has changed its
story, claiming not to have known anything about the four until a few
days ago. But international police officials told The Boston Globe that
they had filed a report on the four in July, OMRI's correspondent in
Sarajevo reported. An IFOR spokesman said, however, that peacekeepers
have no mandate to engage in "manhunts," Onasa wrote. Critics charge
that the case appears to be one of international civilian and military
officials turning a blind eye to war criminals still holding official
jobs, Oslobodjenje reported. -- Patrick Moore

BOSNIAN REFUGEES ORGANIZE ACROSS ETHNIC LINES. Representatives of
Bosnian Muslim, Serb, and Croat refugees who want to go back to their
homes despite nationalist opposition have formed a group in Sarajevo to
coordinate their efforts, Oslobodjenje reported on 31 October. The
Coalition for Return says it rejects "the ideology of ethnic
separation." Meanwhile, the United States and OSCE have charged that the
Bosnian Serbs are violating arms control provisions of the Dayton
agreement by keeping a "significant number" of extra World War II tanks
in service. The Serbs have exploited a loophole in the text that allows
parties to retain such weapons if they are intended for export,
research, or museums, Reuters noted on 30 October. And in New York,
Bosnia's UN Ambassador Muhamed Sacirbey told the VOA that his government
will cooperate with investigations to determine whether Bosnian police
had forced a Serb into testifying wrongly against Dusan Tadic in The
Hague (see OMRI Daily Digest, 29 October 1996). -- Patrick Moore

INDEPENDENT MEDIA IN REPUBLIKA SRPSKA RESIST GOVERNMENT PRESSURE. On
October 28, representatives of the major independent Bosnian Serb media
met in Banja Luka to discuss their response to a recent government
campaign against dissident media voices (see Pursuing Balkan Peace, 29
October 1996). The representatives of Novi Prelom, Nezavisne Novine and
Radio Krajina from Banja Luka, Alternativa from Doboj, and Extra Magazin
and Panorama from Bijeljina debated coordinating their marketing,
starting an independent journalists' union, and possibly setting up an
independent printing house. The government-owned printing office Glas
Srpski recently refused to print dissident periodicals. Radio Krajina
faces attempts by the Information Ministry to take away its equipment
and broadcasting frequency. Two Alternativa journalists face flimsy
libel charges by two officials of the governing Serbian Democratic
Party. -- Jan Urban in Sarajevo and Patrick Moore

FORMER YUGOSLAV STATES OPPOSE AUTOMATIC UN MEMBERSHIP FOR BELGRADE. The
UN ambassadors of Bosnia, Croatia, Macedonia, and Slovenia sent an
appeal to Secretary General Boutros Boutros Ghali requesting that
Serbia-Montenegro not automatically inherit the UN seat of Tito's
Yugoslavia. The four asked that Belgrade be required to apply for
membership, like any other new candidate lest the move "make an impact
on the division of common assets," Onasa noted on 30 October. Serbian
President Slobodan Milosevic's Federal Republic of Yugoslavia claims
that it is the sole successor to Tito's state and hence it alone is
entitled to its rights and properties, a point that the other four
states dispute. -- Patrick Moore

BOSNIA APPOINTS CENTRAL BANK GOVERNOR. The Bosnian three-man presidency
on its meeting on 29 October accepted Serge Robert to the post of
governor of the new central bank, Oslobodjenje reported on 31 October.
Under the Dayton peace accord, the central bank governor is chosen by
the International Monetary Fund (IMF), and approved by the collective
presidency. In addition, other three senior bank officials were
appointed: Kasim Omicevic and Jure Pelivan from the Bosnian Federation
and Manojlo Coric from the Republika Srpska. All appointed members of
the governing board will serve a six-year term. The presidency also
appointed two working groups. One of them will make appointments for the
joint council of ministers which is responsible for foreign trade and
relations, AFP reported. The second group will examine the issue of
Bosnia's foreign-affairs policy. The High Representative Carl Bildt said
it was "too early" for the appointment of the council of ministers. --
Daria Sito Sucic

SERBIAN ENTREPRENEURS REGISTER THEIR OWN PROTEST. Among the latest to
register their protest against government polices in the Federal
Republic of Yugoslavia were "several hundred private businessmen,"
Reuters reported on 30 October. Serbian entrepreneurs are calling
attention to discriminatory taxation and fiscal policies, which
reportedly heavily favor state-run and state-backed firms. Dragan
Nikolic, president of Serbia's association of private entrepreneurs,
said, "the fiscal burden should correspond to the economic strength of
taxpayers." In a related development, on 28 October, Nasa Borba reported
that private lawyers were withholding services to clog the court system
in their own three-day job action to protest high taxes and corruption,
which bar association representatives say have driven many barristers to
the brink of poverty. -- Stan Markotich

BOUTROS-GHALI RECOMMENDS UN MANDATE TO EXTEND FOR A YEAR. UN Secretary-
General Boutros Boutros-Ghali said on 29 October the UN Transitional
Administration in Eastern Slavonia (UNTAES) should have a presence in
this last Serb-held enclave of Croatia until the end of 1997, with
troops leaving in mid-July, international and local media reported. But
Croatian President Franjo Tudjman said he has already agreed with Gen.
Jacques Klein, the UN administrator for eastern Slavonia, on 3 plus 3
extension of the UN mandate that would end in July 1997. The UNTAES
mandate in Eastern Slavonia expires on 15 January, and the UN Security
Council is expected to vote on its extension sometime in November.
Croatian Defense Minister Gojko Susak said that Croatia was surprised by
Boutros-Ghali's recommendation, Hina reported on 30 October. -- Daria
Sito Sucic

ROMANIAN LOBBYING IN THE U.S. STIRS CONTROVERSY. Independent dailies
accused the ruling Party of Social Democracy in Romania (PDSR) on 30
October of spending large amounts of public money for improving its
image in the United States. The papers based their allegations on
documents provided by two American journalists who claimed that the PDSR
misused $4 million on contracts with consulting firms, originally
designed to influence the U.S. government on granting permanent most
favored nation status in bilateral trade. In response, Presidential
Spokesman Traian Chebeleu stated that the contracts were perfectly
legal, and that the timing of the accusations--the penultimate day of
electoral campaigning--was calculated to leave no place for an official
reply. Moreover, Cronica Romana accused one of the two journalists of
being close to the Party of Romanian National Unity, a former PDSR ally
and currently one of its arch-enemies. -- Zsolt Mato

ROMANIAN LIBERALS CLOSE RANKS. Two liberal formations on 30 October
signed a protocol of post-electoral cooperation, Romanian media reported
the following day. The two parties--the National Liberal Party and the
National Liberal Party-Democratic Convention--agreed to set up joint
parliamentary groups in both chambers. The document, which was signed by
the leaders of the two parties, Mircea Ionescu-Quintus and Nicolae
Cerveni, paves the way for a possible liberal unification under the
umbrella of the opposition Democratic Convention of Romania in the first
half of 1997. -- Dan Ionescu

MOLDOVAN, RUSSIAN PARLIAMENTS SIGN COOPERATION AGREEMENT. A cooperation
agreement between the parliament of the Republic of Moldova and Russia's
two-chamber parliament was signed in Moscow on 29 October, Infotag
reported the following day. The accord was signed by Moldovan Speaker
Petru Lucinschi, and by Yegor Stroev and Genadii Seleznev, chairmen of
the Council of the Federation and the State Duma, respectively. The
document provides for setting up an inter-parliamentary commission to
harmonize the two countries' legislation in the economic field. At the
end of a two-day official visit to Moscow, Lucinschi said that
"relations with the Russian Federation are a top priority for Moldova"
and pledged to "improve them considerably" if elected Moldova's
president on 17 November. Meanwhile, media in Chisinau claimed that
Lucinschi was closely cooperating with Russian communists led by
Ghenadii Zyuganov. Lucinschi's supporters denied the accusations. -- Dan
Ionescu

BULGARIAN ELECTIONS FAIR, OBSERVERS SAY. The OSCE's international
observer mission on 29 October said that the Bulgarian presidential
elections on 27 October took place in a "calm and thoughtful fashion,"
an OMRI correspondent reported. They also said the elections "assisted
in the further development and entrenchment of democracy in Bulgaria."
Observers were critical of certain parts of the electoral law, however,
singling out that candidates nominated by parties represented in
parliament had more air time on the national media, were represented on
all electoral commissions, and did not have to produce bank guarantees
for registration. Observers also noted that according to demographic
statistics, at least 350,000 more people were registered to vote than is
possible.  -- Stefan Krause in Sofia

REACHING CONCLUSIONS ABOUT THE PRESIDENTIAL ELECTIONS. Three major
trends were observed in Bulgaria's 27 October first round of
presidential elections, reported Standart. First, a new political
majority is being formed. Second, the Bulgarian Socialist's Party's
(BSP) electorate is dissatisfied and falling away from that party, and
finally, opposition voting is shifting and undergoing at least a partial
realignment. Those conclusions stem from the relatively high percentage
of votes going to the Bulgarian Business Block Leader Georges Ganchev,
the solid showing of united opposition candidate Petar Stoyanov, and the
extremely poor showing of BSP's Ivan Marazov. 24 Chasa observed that the
BSP was "suspiciously" self-critical. Marazov's loss appeared
intentional, noted the daily, because united opposition candidate
Stoyanov, as president, may serve to further conflicts between
government institutions, drawing attention from substantive issues. --
Maria Koinova

STRUGGLE FOR MORE VOTES IN BULGARIA'S PRESIDENTIAL RUNOFF. After a poor
showing by BSP candidates Ivan Marazov and Irina Bokova in the 27
October first round, socialists began wooing voters of third and fourth
place finishers Georges Ganchev and Alexander Tomov, hoping to secure
their votes in the runoff. Premier Zhan Videnov allegedly had an
"intense" private conversation with Ganchev on 28 October, which yielded
no result, Kontinent reported on 30 October. Chairman of the Union of
Democratic Forces Ivan Kostov said the united opposition will hold talks
with politicians, adding that on election night, both Ganchev and Tomov
said that the government's politics needed changing. After meeting with
BSP officials on 30 October, Ganchev and Tomov said they will ask
supporters to vote their conscience, national media reported. -- Maria
Koinova

[As of 12:00 CET]

Compiled by Valentina Huber

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            Copyright (c) 1996 Open Media Research Institute, Inc.
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