|Science and art belong to the whole world, and before them vanish the barriers of nationality. - Goethe|
November 1st, 1996 Part I
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 CONSERVATIVE APPOINTED AS NEW INFORMATION MINISTER IN UKRAINE. Zinovii Kulyk, the conservative chairman of the State Committee for TV and Radio and acting president of the National TV Company, was appointed Ukraine's new information minister, UNIAN reported on 29 October. The report said news of the appointment had not been widely publicized due to a pending government investigation into Kulyk's alleged involvement in an improper distribution of airtime on nationwide Channel 3. Kulyk is accused of aiding Ukraina TV Company takeover efforts of Channel 3 despite its lack of a broadcast license. Kulyk has also been accused of heavily censoring programs produced by independent broadcasters for Ukrainian TV. -- Chrystyna Lapychak UKRAINIAN PLANE DISAPPEARS OVER BLACK SEA. A MiG-29 disappeared off of the Crimean coast on 31 October, Reuters reported. Both the Ukrainian navy and the Russian Black Sea Fleet sent search parties. It is uncertain whether the MiG fell into the sea, or whether it was hijacked. Apart from the latest missing aircraft, two Ukrainian MiGs crashed this year. -- Ustina Markus RUSSIAN NATIONAL BANK HEAD PRAISES UKRAINIAN CURRENCY REFORM. Sergei Dubinin, on visit in Kyiv, said the currency reform in Ukraine was conducted correctly, Ukrainian television reported on 31 October. The new Ukraninan currency--the hryvnya--was introduced in September. The Russian national bank head said Russia could learn from Ukraine's success to get rid of the excessive zero digits on its own bank notes. Dubinin's Ukrainian counterpart, Viktor Yushchenko, said the Ukrainian National Bank would not interfere with the natural sinking of the hryvnya's exchange rate. The reform was praised as one of the most successful currency reforms in Europe in the past 30 years. -- Oleg Varfolomeyev BELARUSIAN CONSTITUTIONAL COURT ON REFERENDUM. The Belarusian Constitutional Court began reviewing the legality of the referendum on 1 November, ITAR-TASS reported. Parliament requested the review as a way to derail the constitutional referendum scheduled for 24 November. If the court rules that the draft constitutions put forward by the president and parliament are only amended constitutions, then the referendum will take place. Should the court rule that the drafts are actually new constitutions, then the referendum would not be legal, and President Alyaksandr Lukashenka has said he would dissolve parliament. He won a popular mandate to do so in the May 1995 referendum. On that ballot, a non-binding question was inserted asking if the president should have the power to dissolve the legislature, to which 77.7 % of voters responded yes. -- Ustina Markus LEADERSHIPS OF MAJOR ESTONIAN CITIES ELECTED. Although the Coalition Party and the Reform Party are united on the national level, they were unable to form coalitions in Tartu and Tallinn. The Reform Party was excluded from the coalition formed in Tartu where Pro Patria candidate Tonis Lukas was elected mayor with the support of the Moderates and the Tartu 2000 alliance which includes the Coalition Party. In Tallinn, the city council on 31 October elected Reform Party candidate Priit Vilba as mayor and former prime minister Mart Laar of Pro Patria as council chairman, ETA reported. The Tallinn coalition, which includes the ruling Coalition Party, was not included in the alliance. -- Saulius Girnius SOME PROGRESS IN LATVIA, RUSSIA BORDER TALKS. Negotiators agreed to discuss legal determination of the entire Latvian-Russian border rather than of separate areas as proposed earlier by Latvia, Russian delegation head Viktor Shikalov told BNS on 31 October. He said Russia, rejected proposals to discuss the settlement of ownership and financial issues in the Abrene region, asserting that it should be discussed only after the border is determined. Considerable time was devoted to discussing possible solutions to the main point of disagreement, the validity of the 1920 peace treaty between the two countries, but no solution was reached. The talks will continue on 1 November. -- Saulius Girnius CZECH PARLIAMENT VOTES ON CZECH-SLOVAK BORDER. The Czech Parliament on 30 October approved in the first reading a constitutional amendment on the Czech-Slovak border, Czech media reported. The opposition Social Democrats, who helped defeat the amendment in April, voted in favor but have indicated that they will support the amendment in the second and third readings only if the government negotiates an individual financial settlement with each of the seven Czech families whose village of U Sabotu will be transferred to Slovakia under the amendment. The government has proposed equal compensation for each family. The amendment is based on a Czech-Slovak border treaty signed earlier this year after several years of negotiations. The Slovak parliament has approved a constitutional amendment on the border change. -- Jiri Pehe OPPOSITION CRITICIZE SLOVAK FOREIGN POLICY. Leaders of three opposition parties on 31 October expressed disquiet over the results of the third meeting of the joint EU-Slovak parliamentary committee, press agencies reported. Prime Minister Vladimir Meciar caused the main stir by accusing President Michal Kovac and the opposition of failing to consult with the government and damaging Slovakia's reputation abroad. Democratic Union deputy Eduard Kukan said the session reminded him of "an academic debate of the deaf." The session confirmed the lack of dialogue between coalition and opposition in Slovakia and the political strategy of ruling coalition, which denies all criticism and claims Western doubts about Slovakia are caused by the opposition, Sme and Pravda observed on 31 October. -- Anna Siskova SLOVAK NUCLEAR PLANT CONCERNS AUSTRIAN FACTIONS. Slovak Environment Minister Jozef Zlocha announced on 31 October in Austria that all four reactors of the Mochovce nuclear power plant will be completed, TASR reported. The first two reactors are under construction, mainly through Czech financing but also with Russian and German involvement. The Vienna-based group, Global 2000, on 30 October said that plans to complete the third and fourth reactors of Mochovce -- located some 80 kilometers from the Austrian border -- demonstrates the "lack of conception" of the Slovak government's energy policy. The group accused the government together with the German nuclear industry of planning "a total atomic offensive." Austrian People's Party representative Maria Rauch-Kallat on 31 October called Slovak plans to complete all four reactors "an eminent threat to the Austrian population." -- Sharon Fisher HUNGARIAN PARLIAMENT TO PROBE OPPOSITION'S EARLIER OFFICE DEALS. The Hungarian parliament's constitutional committee on 30 October agreed to investigate deals in which the opposition Young Democrats and the Hungarian Democratic Forum sold their party headquarters in 1992, Hungarian dailies reported on 1 November. The two parties were entitled to office buildings under a 1991 government resolution on allocation of office space to parliamentary political parties. Both parties sold their properties ten days after receiving them and then blocked setting up a committee to examine the deals. The Young Democrats claim the governing parties' insistence to investigate those deals is in retaliation for their having uncovered a privatization scandal that recently embarrassed the government. -- Zsofia Szilagyi HUNGARY TO DISCLOSE DETAILS OF SECRET ACCORD WITH SWITZERLAND. According to Hungarian foreign ministry officials, the Hungarian and Swiss governments signed a secret accord in 1973 on the transfer of assets belonging to Hungarian victims of the Holocaust kept in Swiss banks, international media reported on 31 October. Officials, however, do not know whether the transfer of funds was actually carried out. The former governor of the National Bank of Hungary, Janos Fekete, who claimed no previous knowledge of the 1973 accord, said recently that Hungary had tried to recover those assets, but the Swiss authorities--citing banking secrecy rules--refused their request. The contents of the accord would not affect the ongoing negotiations on Jewish compensation, the ministry added. -- Zsofia Szilagyi SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE IFOR SEARCHES MUSLIM HOMES FOR WEAPONS. IFOR searched 109 Muslim homes in Jusici for arms and other contraband on 31 October finding nothing, Reuters reported. Muslims began returning this summer to that village on the Serbian edge of the tense interentity border. The resettlement has been much to the consternation of the Serbs and of IFOR, which tends to regard them as troublemakers. The Dayton agreement guarantees all refugees the right to go home. The president of the Community of Croatian Refugees in Bosnia-Herzegovina, Stef Masatovic, charged that none of the three sides is interested in letting refuges go home and the only solution is to build new towns for them, Oslobodjenje wrote on 1 November. -- Patrick Moore CONCERN OVER NATIONALIST INCIDENTS IN BOSNIA. In Sarajevo, the anti- nationalist opposition Social Democrats (UBSD) criticized the Serb member of the three-member presidency, Momcilo Krajisnik, for ignoring incidents against non-Serbian refugees and their property in the Republika Srpska, and slammed the Muslim Alija Izetbegovic for not providing full security for Serbs in Ilidza, Onasa wrote on 31 October. The UBSD also criticized the Croat Kresimir Zubak for not responding to the destruction of Serb-owned property in Drvar and to the expulsion of Muslims from west Mostar. -- Patrick Moore FEDERAL REPUBLIC OF YUGOSLAVIA NEARS 3 NOVEMBER ELECTION. An estimated 30,000 people gathered in Belgrade's Republic Square on 31 October for the final election rally held by the opposition Zajedno (Together) coalition. Serbian Renewal Party leader Vuk Draskovic told the crowd that the ruling Socialists "... are trying to turn back the clock. They want to turn the whole of Serbia into a concentration camp and plunge it into total darkness and isolation." State controlled radio and television did not report the event. Meanwhile, Reuters reported Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic that same day made an appearance at a convention of his leftist coalition, dominated by his own Socialist Party of Serbia. Milosevic, speaking to about 6,000, claimed he was committed to regional peace and values such as reconciliation, prosperity, and democracy. -- Stan Markotich GROWING TIES BETWEEN BELGRADE, MOSCOW. In Belgrade on 31 October Russian and federal Yugoslav representatives of the Inter-governmental Russian- Yugoslav Committee for Trade, Economic and Scientific-Technological Cooperation signed four accords, dealing principally with agricultural issues and the "liberalization of trade," Nasa Borba reported the following day. Signing for the federal Yugoslav side was committee co- chairman and federal Yugoslav Trade Minister Djordje Siradovic, while First Deputy Economics Minister Andrei Shapovalyants signed for the Russian side. (For more on this topic, see "Russia Wants Base in Former Yugoslavia," in the Russian part). -- Stan Markotich KOSOVO ALBANIANS PLEDGE TO BOYCOTT ELECTIONS. Shadow-state president Ibrahim Rugova said that Kosovar Albanians would boycott the federal Yugoslav elections, as they did since abolition of the regions autonomy in 1989, AFP reported on 31 October. He said "elections organized by Belgrade don't interest us, they are not ours. The Albanians in Kosovo had their [presidential and parliamentary] elections in 1992." Those elections were not internationally recognized. Kosovo has 13 seats in the 138 member federal parliament for which only Serb and Montenegrin candidates run. The Socialist Party of Serbia is the strongest candidate among Kosovo Serbs. The Serbian opposition charges Rugova with playing into Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic's hands by giving up the 13 seats. -- Fabian Schmidt UN SAYS SERBS ARE LEAVING EASTERN SLAVONIA. UN spokeswoman in Belgrade Susan Manuel said that fifty-two Serb families left Croatia's last Serb- held region of eastern Slavonia last weekend, AFP reported on 31 October. In other news, about 2,000 Croats are expected to visit family graves in eastern Slavonia on 1 November, All Saints' Day. They will visit sites protected by the UN Transitional Police Force in selected villages and escorted by UN vehicles. The Croat authorities agreed to allow reciprocal visit by Orthodox Serbs to graves in Croatian government territory. Meanwhile, the UN has returned five villages in the southwestern tip of eastern Slavonia, to Croatian government rule beginning the region's reintegration into the rest of the country, Reuters reported on 31 October. -- Daria Sito Sucic CROATIA BUYS U.S. MILITARY HELICOPTERS. Croatian Deputy Defense Minister Vladimir Zagorec and Bell Helicopter Textron Ltd. deputy president Fred Hubbard signed a $15-million deal to purchase ten Bell helicopters for Croatian armed forces, Hina reported on 31 October. Croatian Defense Minister Gojko Susak said Croatia intends to fully introduce a Western military structure and weapons by year 2005. In Washington, Susak discussed with U.S. officials Croatia's desire to join NATO's Partnership for Peace program. He said Croatia's admission to the program was postponed at the latest NATO meeting although the United States supports its membership. Admission will depend on the situation in Bosnia-Herzegovina, particularly, the Bosnian Federation, reported Hina. Susak also said the United States would support termination of the UN mandate in eastern Slavonia in mid-July next year. -- Daria Sito Sucic ROMANIA ENDS ELECTORAL CAMPAIGN. Campaigning for the 3 November presidential and general elections officially ended at midnight on 31 October, Romanian media reported on 1 November. A five-hour debate--with all 16 presidential candidates--ended the campaign, which was aired live by the national TV and radio stations. Incumbent President Ion Iliescu vowed moderation in order to avoid "violent ruptures that may destroy the delicate balance in society." His main opponent, Emil Constantinescu, of the Democratic Convention of Romania, pledged to take Romania out of its current economic and social crisis, for which he blamed Iliescu and his ruling Party of Social Democracy in Romania. Romania's electoral law prohibits any public electoral activity in the two days preceding the voting. -- Dan Ionescu THOUSANDS RALLY IN BUCHAREST IN SUPPORT OF THEIR CANDIDATES. Thousands of Romanians on 31 October marched through downtown Bucharest in support of the main opposition organization, Democratic Convention of Romania, and its presidential candidate, Emil Constantinescu, international media reported the same day. Ion Iliescu, who has a slight lead over Constantinescu in latest opinion polls, told supporters he and his Party of Social Democracy in Romania want a new term in office to build on what has already been started. Petre Roman, a former prime minister between 1990 and 1991 and a close third in the presidential race, on 30 October organized an electoral meeting, which ended with a rock concert. Roman, who accused Iliescu of having "condoned the corruption and dishonesty spread across the country," called for the ousting of what he called the "Iliescu regime." -- Zsolt Mato RUSSIA SUPPORTS DNIESTER PARTICIPATION IN MOLDOVAN PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION. Moldovan Parliament Speaker Petru Lucinschi stated that Russian Premier Viktor Chernomyrdin favors participation of Dniester inhabitants in the 17 November Moldovan presidential election, BASA- press and Infotag reported on 31 October. Lucinschi's comment came after meeting with Chernomyrdin and other senior Russian officials in Moscow. Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Boris Pastukhov said that Dniester participation in the voting "would be a big political step [forward]" since it would imply that the region is part of the Republic of Moldova, reported a Chisinau parliament press release. But Dniester Supreme Soviet Chairman Grigorii Marakutsa on 31 October denied that the Tiraspol leadership had "received any recommendations from Russia" concerning the region's participation in Moldovan elections. -- Dan Ionescu BOMB BLAST AGAINST A HIGH BULGARIAN OFFICIAL. A bomb on October 31 exploded in the car of the secretary of the Central Electoral Committee. Haralambi Anchev, who is also a bank liquidator, was in the car during the blast but unhurt. While Standart linked the explosion to the upcoming presidential election runoff on 3 November, Kontinent reported that Anchev was chased by the "shadow of Orion," an economic circle "friendly" to Premier Zhan Videnov. At the time of the blast, Anchev was liquidating the Bulgarian Agricultural and Industrial Bank, linked to Orion. -- Maria Koinova BANKRUPTCY FOR EIGHT BULGARIAN BANKS, LOWER INTEREST RATE. The Bulgarian National Bank (BNB) on 31 October called for bankruptcy proceedings to begin against eight of the nine banks put under "special supervision" on 23 September (see OMRI Daily Digest, 24 September 1996) and revoked the licenses of 15 brokerages, Pari reported on 1 November. The banks include the state-owned Balkanbank and Stopanska banka, and six private banks - TS, Biznes, Slavyani, Mollov, Yambol, and Dobrudzha banks. The fate of the ninth institution, Elitbank, remains unclear. The decision, which was supposed to be made by 23 October, comes a day before Anne McGuirk, head of the IMF's Bulgaria mission, arrives in Sofia for negotiations over release of a twice-delayed, $115 million tranche of a standby loan agreed to in July. -- Michael Wyzan U.S. STATE DEPARTMENT SATISFIED WITH ALBANIAN LOCAL ELECTIONS. State Department spokesman Nicholas Burns said on 31 October that "the U.S. government believes that the [20 October] Albanian local elections were sufficiently democratic to be accepted as an expression of the will of the people of Albania," Reuters reported. But he urged the Albanian government "to follow the adoption of a constitution by holding a popular referendum and parliamentary elections, which would be organized under a new constitutional framework." The U.S. had strongly criticized May's parliamentary elections. -- Fabian Schmidt [As of 12:00 CET] Compiled by Valentina Huber ------------------------------------------------------------------------ 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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