|Words that open our eyes to the world are always the easiest to remember. - Ryszard Kapuscinski|
No. 218, Part II, 11 November 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 CENTRAL EUROPEAN INITIATIVE SUMMIT HELD IN AUSTRIA. A two-day meeting of the Central European Initiative (CEI) was held in Graz on 8-9 November and attended by the prime ministers and foreign ministers of the group's 16 member states, international media reported. The participants agreed to increase joint efforts in fighting drugs and ended the summit with calls for more international aid for Bosnia. CEI members include Austria, Italy, Poland, Hungary, Slovakia, the Czech Republic, Slovenia, Croatia, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Macedonia, Albania, Bulgaria, Romania, Ukraine, Belarus, and Moldova. The CEI was established in 1989 by Austria, Italy, Hungary, and Yugoslavia (the successor Federal Republic of Yugoslavia's membership is pending). -- Sharon Fisher UKRAINE TO SHUT REACTOR NO. 1 AT CHORNOBYL. Prime Minister Pavlo Lazarenko said reactor No. 1 at the Chornobyl nuclear facility will be closed forever on 30 November, international agencies reported on 9 November. That will leave only reactor No. 3 in operation until it too is shut down in 1999. At a meeting of the heads of state of the Central European Initiative in Graz, Austria, Lazarenko said Ukraine is meeting its obligations concerning closing Chornobyl and called on the G-7 countries to fulfill their promises of financial aid for that purpose. Those countries had agreed to provide $3.1 billion to fund the plant's closure by 2000. -- Oleg Varfolomeyev EARLY REFERENDUM VOTING STARTS IN BELARUS. Polling stations opened in Belarus on 9 November for early voting for those who cannot vote on 24 November, the official referendum date, Belarusian and international agencies reported. Early votes will not be counted until the rest of the votes are cast. Voters have been given a standard ballot paper with seven questions. Questions two and five (the president's and parliament's versions of a constitution respectively) are strictly consultative; voters must respond to every question. Lukashenka is also asking voters whether they want to change the national holiday from the day of the declaration of independence to the day Minsk was liberated from the Germans, whether they approve of the free sale and purchase of land, and whether to abolish the death penalty. Parliament has added its own questions asking for a ban on special budgetary funds not approved by parliament and on the procedures for appointing local officials. -- Ustina Markus MORE INFORMATION ON MEETING OF ESTONIAN, RUSSIAN FOREIGN MINISTERS. Returning from Strasbourg on 8 November after ending his term as head of the Council of Europe's Council of Ministers, Estonian Foreign Minister Siim Kallas gave more information about his talks with his counterpart Yevgenii Primakov in Russia on 5 November, ETA reported. He said that in the talks on a new border agreement, Estonia has stopped demanding that Russia recognize the validity of the 1920 Tartu Peace Treaty and Russia has stopped pressing for compliance with a 1990 agreement in which Estonia had promised automatic citizenship to all residents. The date for signing the new agreement is not yet determined, as Russia rejected Kallas's request that it be signed during the OSCE summit meeting in Lisbon in December. Kallas said the upcoming visit of a group of Russian experts to investigate the situation of the Russian-speaking minority was a goodwill gesture unconnected with the border deal. -- Saulius Girnius RIGHT TRIUMPHS IN LITHUANIAN PARLIAMENT ELECTIONS. Winning 35 of the 65 single-mandate districts on 10 November, the Homeland Union (Conservatives of Lithuania) [TS(LK)] gained control of the Seimas, Radio Lithuania reported. The Christian Democratic (LKDP) and Social Democratic Party won five seats each, the Center Union four, the Democratic Labor (LDDP) and Democratic Parties two each. Eight other parties won a single seat, as did four independent candidates. The TS(LK), with 70 seats, and its ally, the LKDP, with 16 seats, are clearly in control of the 141-seat parliament (four seats will be filled in 1997). The neo-communist LDDP, which had won a majority in 1992, was reduced to 12 seats. It is expected that TS(LK) Chairman Vytautas Landsbergis will be elected Seimas chairman at its first session on 25 November. -- Saulius Girnius CONTROVERSY OVER POLISH RULING PARTY'S DEBT. Social Democracy of the Polish Republic (SdRP)--the main party in the Social Democratic Alliance, which is a senior partner in the Polish ruling coalition--is considering asking the government to negotiate a settlement for its debt, Polish dailies reported on 9 November. The SdRP, the successor to the Polish United Workers' Party (PZPR), incurred a debt of about 25 million zloty (almost $9 million) through illegal use of PZPR property, which it was obliged to return to the state under the 1990 law. Claiming the 1990 law is retroactive, the SdRP has refused to reveal how it used the PZPR assets. -- Beata Pasek CZECH COUNTERINTELLIGENCE SCANDAL. Josef Lux, deputy premier and Christian Democratic Union chairman, announced on 8 November that he has proof that the Security Information Service (BIS) followed him in late 1993 and early 1994, Czech media reported. Lux's accusations are similar to complaints voiced early last year by Jan Kalvoda, chairman of the Civic Democratic Alliance, another junior coalition party. Coming just one week before the Senate elections, Lux's announcement caused a stir on the political scene. BIS deputy head Sylva Sauerova on 10 November accused BIS interim head Stanislav Devaty of "ceaselessly" violating the law during his four-year term in office. A former dissident and a founding member of Prime Minister Vaclav Klaus's Civic Democratic Party, Devaty claimed innocence and left on vacation. Returning early from the Central European Initiative summit, Klaus tried to play down the matter. Meanwhile, President Vaclav Havel called for the appointment of a permanent BIS head. -- Sharon Fisher INTERNATIONAL SKINHEAD RALLY IN CZECH REPUBLIC. Some 700 neo-Nazis from the Czech Republic, Poland, Hungary, and Germany gathered on 9 November in the Czech village of Kozolupy near Pilsen for the first meeting of the pan-European neo-Nazi movement, CTK reported. The gathering, held on the anniversary of the 1938 Kristallnacht anti-Jewish pogrom, featured a concert by five neo-Nazi rock groups. Police reportedly arrested seven participants in the rally. -- Sharon Fisher SLOVAKIA'S TALKS AT CEI SUMMIT. At the Central European Initiative (CEI) summit, Slovak Prime Minister Vladimir Meciar said that the organization should not deal with questions of national minorities. He said the standards should be set by the Council of Europe and not any other European body. Slovak Foreign Minister Pavol Hamzik and his Hungarian counterpart Laszlo Kovacs on 8 November discussed the need to create an intergovernmental commission to oversee the fulfillment of the bilateral treaty. Although the plans are still incomplete, the commission is expected to have several working groups, including one for national minority issues. During the summit, Meciar also met European Investment Bank President Brian Unwin, who offered Slovakia 40 million ECU ($50 million) for building highways from Bratislava to the Austrian and Hungarian borders. -- Anna Siskova HUNGARIAN COALITION PARTIES FAIL TO REACH CONSENSUS AT SUMMIT. Leaders of the governing coalition parties made no substantive headway at a major coalition summit on 8 November that was organized to ease the tensions generated by the privatization scandal, Hungarian dailies reported. The Hungarian Socialist Party and the Alliance of Free Democrats (SZDSZ) only agreed to hold more consultations in the coming weeks. Meeting for the first time in the two-and-a-half year operation of the coalition government, the executive bodies of the two parties agreed to pressure the party caucuses to open consultations on the delayed conflict-of-interest bill and have it passed by mid-December. Contrary to earlier statements by leading SZDSZ politicians that the party may consider pulling out of the coalition at its mid-November national congress, Magyar Hirlap reports that the party is unlikely to vote on the issue. -- Zsofia Szilagyi SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE NATO TO DISCUSS NEW FORCE FOR BOSNIA. NATO diplomats met on 11 November in Brussels to discuss proposals for a new military force for Bosnia to replace the present NATO-led Implementation Force (IFOR) next year, international agencies reported. No firm decision is expected before the Paris meeting on Bosnia on 14 November. NATO military leaders have drawn up four options for the new force. The most likely to be adopted is Option C, which calls for a multinational force of 20,000-30,000 to remain in Bosnia for a further year, backed by rapid intervention units based in region. The other options -- Option A, that IFOR force withdraw without replacement; Option B, that a simple dissuasion force remain with no fighting troops; and Option D, that a mission be launched on the same scale as IFOR with the same number of soldiers -- are unlikely to be chosen. Meanwhile, U.S. President Bill Clinton said on 10 November that the U.S. troops could remain in Bosnia after December as part of a "smaller mission," AFP reported. -- Daria Sito Sucic IZETBEGOVIC WANTS EU MANDATE IN MOSTAR EXTENDED. The chairman of Bosnia's collective presidency, Alija Izetbegovic, appealed for an extension of the European Union mission in the divided city of Mostar before its mandate expires at the end of the year, Oslobodjenje reported on 11 November. Izetbegovic wrote to EU ministers urging the mission to stay to help reunify the city and praising the work of the EU administrator of Mostar, Sir Martin Garrod. Meanwhile, UN spokesman Alexander Ivanko said that armed Bosnian Croat special police had agreed to disband their units in line with a request from the UN police, AFP reported on 9 November. -- Daria Sito Sucic MLADIC'S OFFICERS REFUSE TO ACCEPT HIS OUSTER. Bosnian Serb President Biljana Plavsic on 9 November fired the Republika Srpska's military commander, Gen. Ratko Mladic, Nasa Borba reported on 11 November. Gen. Zdravko Tolimir, Gen. Milan Gvero, and other top military leaders were also sacked in the civilian leadership's latest and well-planned move against the unruly military, which has close links to Belgrade. The new chief of staff is Gen. Pero Colic, and his deputy is Gen. Dragan Josipovic. AFP quoted the Belgrade paper Blic, however, as saying that Mladic's staff refuses to accept the dismissal. Reuters added that the entire command is ignoring the changes despite their approval by parliament. Plavsic had cited pressure from the international community because of Mladic's indictment for war crimes as a reason for his ouster, but the Republika Srpska constitution bans his extradition to The Hague. -- Patrick Moore MUSLIMS, SERBS CONFRONT EACH OTHER. Over 100 Muslims marched across the inter-entity boundary toward Koraj in northern Bosnia on the morning of 11 November to go home to their village, which is now under Serb control. A UN police spokesman said that shots were fired from the Serb side, but it is not clear whether anyone was wounded, AFP reported. This is but the latest case of force being used to deter refugees from exercising their right, guaranteed by the Dayton agreement, to return to their homes. The Muslims said they had applied through UN channels to go home but had received no reply. In a related story, eight Muslim homes were blown up in the Serb-held strategic Brcko area late in the night of 9 November, Onasa reported. -- Patrick Moore MILOSEVIC ASKS UN TO STAY IN EASTERN SLAVONIA. Meeting on 8 November with Jacques Klein, head of the UN transitional administration in eastern Slavonia, Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic asked that the UN mandate in the area be extended by a year, AFP reported. Eastern Slavonia is the last Serb-held part of Croatia. Federal Yugoslavia sent a letter to the Security Council officially requesting a year-long extension of the mandate and saying that a shorter mandate could threaten regional stability through the prospect of a mass exodus of tens of thousands of Serbs. Meanwhile, Croatian President Franjo Tudjman, who agreed in principle that the UN mandate be extended for six more months, met on 9 November with local Serb leaders for the first time, Reuters reported. Serb representative Vojislav Stanimirovic said he hopes that regional elections will be possible in March 1997 and that all local Serbs, not just original prewar residents, will be able to vote. -- Daria Sito Sucic CAN SLOVENIA'S PREMIER FORM THE NEXT GOVERNMENT? Janez Drnovsek's Liberal Democratic Party (LDS) emerged the strongest after the 10 November parliamentary elections, STA reported the same day. With nearly all votes counted, the LDS has 27.1%, an increase of some 3% from its share in the 1992 elections. Drnovsek told TV Slovenija that the largest parliamentary party should be asked to form a government but questions have already arisen about how stable one anchored by the LDS can be. Two rightist parties, Marjan Podobnik's Slovenian People's Party and Janez Jansa's Social Democrats, are making inroads. Podobnik said the priority is to form a coalition government of rightist parties under the "Slovenian Spring" banner, but he does not rule out cooperation with Drnovsek. Projections have the LDS winning 25 of 90 seats, with Podobnik's party second gaining 19, and Jansa's third with 16. -- Stan Markotich SEATS DISTRIBUTED IN ROMANIA'S NEW PARLIAMENT. The Central Electoral Bureau released final data on the distribution of parliamentary seats among the six parties that passed the 3% hurdle, Radio Bucharest reported on 10 November. The number of seats for the Senate and the Chamber of Deputies, respectively, are as follows: Democratic Convention of Romania (CDR): 53, 122; Party of Social Democracy in Romania: 41, 91; Social Democratic Union (USD): 23, 53; Hungarian Democratic Federation of Romania (UDMR): 11, 25; Greater Romania Party: 8, 19; and the Party of Romanian National Unity: 7,18. In addition, 15 minority organizations have each received a seat in the Chamber of Deputies. The CDR-USD governmental coalition has a majority of 53% in the Senate and of 51% in the Chamber of Deputies. With the support of the UDMR the coalition could reach a majority of about 60% in both chambers. -- Zsolt Mato MOLDOVA ACCEPTED INTO THE CENTRAL EUROPEAN INITIATIVE. Moldova on 9 November became the 16th member of the Central European Initiative, RFE/RL reported the same day. Moldovan Foreign Minister Mihai Popov said his country's acceptance into the regional cooperation organization means Moldova is viewed as a Central European state in all respects. In other news, preparations continue for Moldova's 17 November presidential elections. The Central Electoral Commission (CEC) settled the problem of voting in the breakaway Dniester republic, Infotag reported on 8 November, setting up 12 polling stations where Dniester residents can cast their votes. The CEC accused the Dniester authorities of violating citizens' right to vote by failing to establish electoral constituencies. -- Zsolt Mato BULGARIAN PRIME MINISTER UNSURE ABOUT HIS POLITICAL FUTURE. Zhan Videnov will ask for a confidence vote during the plenary meeting of the Bulgarian Socialist Party (BSP) on 11 November, Bulgarian and international media reported. But Videnov said on 9 November he does not know whether he will survive such a vote since the majority in his favor "is not very stable right now." Videnov came under strong pressure after the BSP candidate's weak showing in the recent presidential election and a call for a new government by 19 top BSP members. One party official told RFE/RL that political "bloodshed" is expected at the plenary meeting. In other news, a gun with a silencer was found hidden behind the radiator in the entrance hall of a house near where former Prime Minister Andrey Lukanov was murdered on 2 October, RFE/RL reported on 8 November. -- Stefan Krause FIGHT CONTINUES OVER ALBANIAN TRADE UNIONS. Democratic Party (DP) legislator Azem Hajdari and his followers tried to break into the congress of the Independent Trade Unions (BSPSH) on 9 November and to forcefully take over its headquarters, but police intervened. The DP publicly distanced itself from Hajdari, Zeri i Popullit reported on 10 November. Hajdari, meanwhile, called for a mass demonstration on 12 November against current BSPSH leader Valer Xheka. Xheka called Hajdari an adventurer and said the current leadership enjoyed the support of all BSPSH branches. He also brought legal charges against Hajdari. Hajdari on 8 November got a writ of mandamus blocking the bank accounts of the BSPSH, but the next day the court lifted the ruling, ATSH reported. Elsewhere, police detained three participants in the 5 November rebel congress at which Hajdari was elected new trade union leader, Koha Jone reported on 10 November. -- Fabian Schmidt EU GRANTS ALBANIA 33 MILLION ECU. The European Union on 8 November granted Albania 33 million ECU ($42 million), Rilindja Demokratike reported. The money is for reform measures and infrastructure projects including modernizing the judicial and education systems, supporting market economy reforms, and improving roads. The EU representative in Albania, Elio Germano, claimed that relations between the EU and Albania had normalized. The EU has granted Albania a total of 212 million ECU until 2000. -- Fabian Schmidt [As of 12:00 CET] Compiled by Susan Caskie ------------------------------------------------------------------------ Copyright (c) 1996 Open Media Research Institute, Inc. All rights reserved. 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