|It matters if you don't just give up. - Stephen Hawking|
No. 220, Part II, 13 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 *********************************************************************** Available now -- The OMRI Annual Survey of Eastern Europe and the Former Soviet Union -- "1995: Building Democracy." Published by M.E. Sharpe Inc., this 336-page yearbook provides a systematic and comprehensive review of the most pivotal events in the 27 countries of the former Communist bloc and former Soviet Union during 1995. Available to OMRI subscribers at a special price of $25 each (plus postage and handling). To order, please email your request to: email@example.com *********************************************************************** CENTRAL AND EASTERN EUROPE UKRAINE SLAMS RUSSIA OVER BLACK SEA FLEET. The Ukrainian Foreign Ministry accused the Russian parliament of anti-Ukrainian behavior and warned it would turn to the international community to solve the Black Sea Fleet dispute, international media reported on 12 November. Foreign Minister Henadii Udovenko said Kyiv would seek support from nuclear powers to guarantee Ukraine's territorial integrity. The Ukrainian parliament scheduled for next week a debate on Russia's withdrawal of its 600-vessel share of the fleet from Crimea by 2000. Last month, the Russian State Duma voted to stop the fleet's division, but the Russian government distanced itself from the Duma resolution. -- Oleg Varfolomeyev UKRAINIAN DEFENSE MINISTER AT NATO HEADQUARTERS. Defense Minister Oleksander Kuzmuk and NATO Deputy Secretary-General Sergio Balanzino in Brussels discussed the further development of relations between Ukraine and NATO within the Partnership for Peace (PfP) program, Ukrainian media reported on 9 November. Kuzmuk on 11 November met with Dutch Defense Minister Joris Voorhoeve to discuss cooperation between Ukraine and Netherlands within the PfP program, ITAR-TASS reported. The ministers agreed to begin exchanging training visits of Dutch and Ukrainian servicemen. -- Oleg Varfolomeyev CHRISTIAN DEMOCRATS TO REUNITE IN UKRAINE. The country's two Christian Democratic parties have announced plans to reunite at an upcoming extraordinary congress in an effort to boost their chances in the 1998 parliamentary elections, UNIAN reported on 11 November. A group led by Volodymyr Stretovych last year split away from the Ukrainian Christian Democratic Party to form the Christian Democratic Party of Ukraine. The parties claim that removal of the controversial founder of the UCDP, Vitalii Zhuravsky, has paved the way for their reunion. In other news, Rukh leader Vyacheslav Chornovil said recent accusations that presidential Chief of Staff Dmytro Tabachnyk illegally obtained an apartment were part of a campaign to discredit President Leonid Kuchma, UNIAN and Vseukrainskie vedomosti reported on 11-12 November. -- Chrystyna Lapychak BELARUSIAN PEOPLE'S FRONT CALLS FOR PRESIDENT'S IMPEACHMENT. The Belarusian People's Front accused Alyaksandr Lukashenka of grossly violating the constitution and sabotaging the elections to the Belarusian Supreme Soviet, the BBC reported on 13 November. The party's governing body urged the Supreme Soviet to initiate impeachment proceedings. -- Sergei Solodovnikov LATVIAN PRESIDENT IN U.K. Guntis Ulmanis, accompanied by the foreign, defense, and communication ministers, began his first official visit to the U.K. on 11 November. The main aim of the trip is to promote Latvian membership in the EU and NATO and increase economic ties. Britain is Latvia's third-largest export partner and the greatest source of foreign investments. Ulmanis discussed Baltic security issues with British Defense Secretary Michael Portilo and toured British air force, marine, and naval bases, BNS reported. Ulmanis is scheduled to meet with Queen Elizabeth, Prime Minister John Major, and Foreign Secretary Malcolm Rifkind before returning home on 15 November. -- Saulius Girnius LITHUANIAN, RUSSIAN BORDER TALKS. Lithuanian Deputy Foreign Minister Rimantas Sidlauskas called the first day of border talks in Moscow on 12 November satisfactory, Radio Lithuania reported. He said the new head of the Russian delegation, Aleksei Obukhov, who had been recalled from his post as ambassador to Denmark after the arrest of his son in May for alleged collaboration with Western secret services, left the "impression of a very businesslike person" and not of an especially ardent Russian nationalist. The two sides have reached agreement on 90% of the border in three years of negotiations. Difficulties, however, remain with the border in Lake Vistytis, the mouth of the Nemunas River, and the Baltic Sea area called D-6, where there are possible oil deposits. -- Saulius Girnius POLISH-LITHUANIAN TELEVISION AGREEMENT. Polish Public Television (TVP) President Ryszard Miazek and Lithuanian Radio and Television Chairman Juozas Neverauskas signed a cooperation agreement, Polish media reported on 13 November. The deal envisages trading and exchanging programs and information materials. Lithuanian television will broadcast some Polish programs nationwide, while TVP will air Lithuanian-language programs on a regional channel; neither side will charge for use of its programs. The approximately 260,000 Poles living in Lithuania make up 7% of its population. In Poland there are 10,000-20,000 Lithuanians. -- Beata Pasek CELLULAR PHONES COMPETE WITH ETHICS OF POLISH POLITICIANS. Cellular phone company Plus GSM organized a promotion campaign, "Friends of Plus GSM," to provide cellular phones "for testing" to ministers, deputies, higher civil servants, and public institutions. The company, which recently received its license, sent several hundred offers to well-known politicians and institutions. Freedom Union (UW) parliamentary leaders refused the offer. But National Radio and TV Council (KRRiT) member Andrzej Zarebski said he did not have ethical problems in taking the offer, because KRRiT has no common interests with cellular-phone networks. Several ministers are "testing" the cellular phones, Gazeta Wyborcza reported on 13 November. -- Jakub Karpinski CZECH PRESIDENT CRITICIZES OPPOSITION LEADER. Vaclav Havel on 12 November criticized Social Democratic Party leader and Parliament Chairman Milos Zeman for alleging publicly that the Czech Intelligence Service (BIS) and the Ministry of Internal Affairs were working hand in hand. Under Czech law, the BIS is a separate organization not subordinated to the ministry. Havel called Zeman's statements irresponsible. Zeman responded by making an appointment with the president for next week, at which, he said, he will present the necessary evidence to support his statements. BIS Chairman Stanislav Devaty resigned on 11 November after Christian Democratic Union leader Josef Lux accused the BIS of following him. -- Jiri Pehe SLOVAK FOREIGN MINISTRY SPOKESMAN RESPONDS TO CRITICISM. Ivan Korcok on 12 November reacted to criticism that diplomatic protocol was violated when neither Foreign Minister Pavol Hamzik nor State Secretary Jozef Sestak accompanied President Michal Kovac on his current two-day official visit to Holland, Slovak media reported. Former Foreign Minister Eduard Kukan told Narodna obroda that the absence of Hamzik or Sestak was "a slap in the face" to Holland, particularly since Holland expressed special interest in Hamzik's participation. Although the ministry considers the visit "very important," Korcok said, Hamzik had to attend the 12 November cabinet session at which the 1997 budget was discussed, while Sestak had business in Brussels. -- Sharon Fisher HUNGARIAN PARLIAMENT LOWERS TAXES. The parliament on 12 November lowered the average rate of the income tax, profit tax, and consumption tax for 1997, Hungarian dailies reported. The highest personal-income tax rate will drop from 48% to 42%. Tax deductions pertaining to salary incomes will go up from 18% to 20%. Parliament also approved tax exemptions for employers' meal contributions and granted taxpayers the right to determine how 1% of their taxes should be spent. The bills were passed in the absence of all opposition deputies, who had walked out earlier to protest a vote on Constitutional Court judges. The Hungarian legislature has amended tax laws every year since 1990, which has made economic planning and tax-return filing problematic for firms and individuals. Due to tightened tax laws last year, tax evasion has become widespread. -- Zsofia Szilagyi HUNGARIAN OPPOSITION PARTY DEMANDS ANOTHER MINISTER'S RESIGNATION. The Young Democrats on 12 November demanded the resignation of Ferenc Baja, minister of environmental protection and regional development, for failing to clean up pollutants around the waste dump of Gare in southwest Hungary, Hungarian media reported. Although ministry officials ruled out any threat of disaster, the party insisted that the 15,000 tons of hazardous waste, which were shipped to Gare by the Budapest Chemical Works more than 15 years ago, have been contaminating the area. Baja said the ministry has made repeated attempts to break the deadlock over the matter and will order the Chemical Works to stop the spread of contaminants within 15 days. -- Zsofia Szilagyi SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE WORST FIGHTING SINCE THE END OF THE BOSNIAN WAR. The armed confrontation between Republika Srpska police and Muslim refugees trying to return to their homes has led to the most serious fighting since the Dayton agreement took effect. Local and international media on 12 and 13 November agreed that at least one Muslim has died and several persons of both nationalities have been wounded in the separation zone between Muslim-held Celic and Serb-controlled Koraj in northern Bosnia. Each side blamed the other and IFOR blamed them both, adding that the Sarajevo authorities may have deliberately staged a provocation. Russian IFOR troops were caught in the cross-fire and briefly pulled back, but a U.S. IFOR representative stressed that at no time did either side directly fire at the U.S. or Russian peacekeepers. NATO reported on 13 November that the area was calm and that IFOR intended to "contain the situation," AFP noted. -- Patrick Moore MLADIC LOYALISTS WARN OF "FRATRICIDAL WAR." The cashiered Bosnian Serb General Staff published a letter in the Belgrade paper Blic on 13 November warning of a "fratricidal war," AFP reported. They demanded that the Republika Srpska police stop harassing those in the military who are loyal to their sacked commander, Gen. Ratko Mladic. The police are believed to be trying to cut off all communication links to Mladic's command center at Han Pijesak. Mladic loyalists charge that the one responsible for the "putsch" against them is Radovan Karadzic, the indicted war criminal who is widely believed to be still the real power in Pale, BETA noted. Both the group of 80 cashiered officers and their replacements announced by Republika Srpska President Biljana Plavsic claim that the army is behind them, Nasa Borba and Novosti noted. -- Patrick Moore SERBIAN PRESIDENT INTERVENES IN CIVILIAN-MILITARY DISPUTE. Slobodan Milosevic has taken the unusual step of publicly entering the confrontation between the Bosnian Serb civilian and military leaderships. On 12 November he sent Federal Yugoslav Deputy Prime Minister Nikola Sainovic to Pale with the message that Mladic must step down, AFP reported. U.S. envoy John Kornblum visited the Serbian president and insisted that Mladic must go, Nasa Borba reported the next day. Kornblum stressed the need for more democracy in Serbia, particularly where the media and Kosovo are concerned, VOA added. It is not clear why Milosevic has intervened against Mladic. Until now, Belgrade has had stronger links to Han Pijesak than to Pale. -- Patrick Moore BOSNIAN PRESIDENCY AGAIN FAILS TO REACH AGREEMENT ON GOVERNMENT. In its seventh session on 12 November, the three-man Bosnian presidency still did not succeed in agreeing on a government for postwar Bosnia- Herzegovina, Oslobodjenje reported the next day. The Muslim member and chairman, Alija Izetbegovic, and the Bosnian Croat member, Kresimir Zubak, advocate a government made up of five ministers and a premier. Serb member Momcilo Krajisnik, however, wants two ministers and a premier, in line with the Serb policy of limiting the powers of any central body. The presidency did agree in principle on a common platform for the Paris conference on Bosnia on 14 November. In other news, the U.S. State Department said a delay in delivering a consignment of U.S. arms to the Muslim-Croat federation is costing nearly $50,000 per day, Reuters reported on 12 November. Washington is delaying delivery until Sarajevo fires Deputy Defense Minister Hasan Cengic, whom Washington considers too close to Iran. -- Daria Sito Sucic "SPRINGTIME" FOR SLOVENIA? A possible alliance of three conservative parties, the Slovenian People's Party (SLS), the Social Democratic Party of Slovenia (SDSS), and the Christian Democratic Party (SKD) could emerge with a total of 45 legislative seats and exclude the governing Liberal Democratic Party (LDS) from power, Reuters reported on 12 November. The SKD, one-time coalition partner of the LDS, hinted that it may stand firm with the alliance of conservative and rightist parties grouped under the "Slovenian Spring" banner. SLS leader Marjan Podobnik refused to rule out working with the LDS but said it is conditional on several factors, including LDS leader Janez Drnovsek relinquishing the premiership. Vote and seat tallying from the 10 November elections will be made official on 15 November. -- Stan Markotich SERBIA'S LIBYAN CONNECTION. Belgrade appears to be covertly helping Libya with its medium-range ballistic missile program, AFP reported on 12 November, citing The Washington Times. According to the report, the CIA has learned that the Serbian company JPL reached a $30 million agreement with the Libyan Al Fatah missile development program. It is unclear what specific role Serbian advisers are playing, since Serbian technical knowledge is reportedly "limited to production of long-range multiple-rocket launcher systems." On 7 November, the New York Times had reported that Belgrade was secretly transporting arms shipments to Libya -- further evidence of Belgrade's violation of the weapons ban imposed by the UN after Tripoli refused to allow extradition of suspects in the 1988 bombing of Pan Am flight 103 over Lockerbie, Scotland. -- Stan Markotich ILIESCU PLAYS THE NATIONALIST CARD AHEAD OF ELECTION. With the 17 November presidential run-off drawing close, incumbent President Ion Iliescu's campaign has become radical, Romanian dailies reported on 13 November. At a rally in the Transylvanian town of Alba Iulia on 9 November, Iliescu accused the leaders of the Hungarian Democratic Federation of Romania of plotting Yugoslav-style secession from Romania. Evenimentul Zilei wrote that Iliescu was becoming "Zhirinovsky-ized." Meanwhile, a growing number of political parties, trade unions, and organizations announced their support for Iliescu's opponent, Emil Constantinescu. -- Zsolt Mato DNIESTER LEADER REJECTS ALL PARTICIPATION IN MOLDOVAN VOTE. The president of the self-declared Dniester republic, Igor Smirnov, reaffirmed his opposition to any participation of Dniester residents in the 17 November Moldovan presidential election, BASA-press reported on 12 November. His statement was addressed to Russian President Boris Yeltsin, Ukrainian President Leonid Kuchma, and the chairman of the OSCE Permanent Council. Smirnov's remarks came in response to a proposal by Moldovan Parliament Speaker Petru Lucinschi that polling stations be opened at peacekeeping-force bases located in the Dniester areas where ethnic Moldovans are in the majority. Smirnov said the vote could destabilize the situation in the region. He pledged, however, that the Dniester authorities would not prevent locals from traveling to Moldova proper to cast their ballots if voters used their own means of transport. -- Dan Ionescu BULGARIAN PREMIER SURVIVES PARTY CONFIDENCE VOTE. At the end of a 22- hour closed-door session, the Bulgarian Socialist Party (BSP) Supreme Council and the BSP parliamentary deputies on 12 November gave Zhan Videnov a vote of confidence, RFE/RL and other media reported. Of the 158 delegates, 87 supported Videnov, 69 voted against him, and two abstained. The vote means that Videnov can stay in office at least until an extraordinary BSP congress meets on 21-22 December to discuss future policies and leadership questions. The delegates also gave Videnov a mandate to begin consultations on the introduction of a currency board, as proposed by the IMF. Deputy BSP Chairman Yanaki Stoilov, Nikolay Kamov, and Filip Bokov resigned from the Executive Bureau. All three had signed a recent letter by 19 top BSP politicians demanding Videnov's resignation. Bokov also gave as a reason for his resignation the failure of the BSP's presidential election campaign, which he managed. -- Stefan Krause WERE BULGARIAN OPPOSITION HEADQUARTERS BUGGED? Bulgaria's military prosecutor and Interior Ministry opened an investigation after Union of Democratic Forces (SDS) Chairman Ivan Kostov complained of microphones in the SDS headquarters, Kontinent and RFE/RL reported on 12 November. Kostov said the bugs were hidden in his office and in the office of President-elect Petar Stoyanov several months before the presidential election in October-November, but the SDS decided not to report the incident before the voting. Members of the security services might be involved, Kontinent observed. -- Maria Koinova GREECE, UKRAINE SIGN COOPERATION AGREEMENTS. Ukrainian President Leonid Kuchma on 12 November wrapped up a two-day official visit to Greece, ITAR-TASS reported. The previous day, Greek Foreign Minister Theodoros Pangalos and his Ukrainian counterpart, Henadii Udovenko, signed three bilateral agreements: on international passenger and freight transportation, on tourism, and on science and culture. Udovenko said the accords complement the friendship and cooperation treaty signed earlier that day. Pangalos said Greece supports "the establishment of Ukraine's close relations with the European Union [and] its developing contacts with NATO as well as active participation in Balkan cooperation." -- Stefan Krause ALBANIAN TRADE UNION CONFLICT CONTINUES. Police on 12 November banned a rally of Democratic Party legislator Azem Hajdari's breakaway faction from the Independent Trade Unions (BSPSH), Zeri i Popullit reported. The Socialist Party daily implied that Hajdari is the legitimate BSPSH president. The government media, however, maintains that the congress in Durres that elected Hajdari on 5 December had no mandate and that Valer Xheka is the legitimate president. A Tirana court also ruled in Xheka's favor. Xheka has asked parliament to lift Hajdari's immunity so that the prosecutor could start investigations for slander. Hajdari had charged Xheka with corruption and embezzlement of $17,000 from trade union seminars in 1992. Meanwhile, Hajdari participated in BSPSH meetings in Lezha and Lushnja, where he rallied for support. He also scheduled a nationwide congress for 23 November and claimed that his office received support letters from BSPSH branches all over the country. -- 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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