|Praise yourself daringly, something always sticks. - Francis Bacon|
No. 225, Part II, 20 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 OMRI Daily Digest, and other information about OMRI, are available through OMRI's WWW pages: http://www.omri.cz/Index.html CENTRAL AND EASTERN EUROPE BELARUSIAN POLITICAL UPDATE. Parliamentary speaker Syamyon Sharetsky called on deputies not to leave the parliamentary building on the night of 18 November because he feared the president would try to disband parliament, Russian agencies and Belapan reported. An unspecified number of deputies spent the night in the parliamentary building patrolling the corridors, but no attempt was made to storm the building. On 19 November, between 70 and 80 deputies met with President Alyaksandr Lukashenka at his invitation. Lukashenka also met with Constitutional Court Chief Justice Valeyi Tsikhinya to discuss possible solutions to the political crisis, but the president has said he will not back down. The court has begun reviewing parliament's motion to start impeachment proceedings against the president. It must approve the motion before those proceedings can begin. -- Ustina Markus CONTINUED INTERNATIONAL REACTION TO BELARUSIAN CRISIS. The French, German, Italian, and British ambassadors in Minsk have protested what they call "the illegal nature" of Lukashenka's proposed referendum, RFE/RL reported on 19 November. The Council of Europe also issued a statement saying that the president's efforts to boost his powers in a way that contradicts democratic norms is jeopardizing the country's bid to join the council. Polish President Aleksandr Kwasniewski said he and his Lithuanian and Ukranian counterparts intend to make a joint appeal expressing their growing concern about the situation in neighboring Belarus. Ukraine, for its part, has rejected Lukashenka's request to visit the Chornobyl nuclear power station. Russian President Boris Yeltsin called for compromise and common sense in Belarus. -- Sergei Solodovnikov MEDIA RESTRICTIONS IN BELARUS. President Lukashenka on 19 November issued a decree cutting off Russian Public TV and NTV's communication lines to Belarus, Russian media reported on 19 November. The restrictions, however, were lifted later that day. Lukashenka had claimed the move was justified because the Russian channels were unobjective and provocative in their reporting on Belarus. Under the decree, Russian reports on Belarus could be sent to Russia only after Belarusian media authorities had checked and approved them. Electronic mail links with Russia were also to have been cut. The Russian Foreign Ministry warned that it would react accordingly if Russian journalists were stripped of their accreditation in Belarus. -- Ustina Markus UKRAINIAN NATIONAL BANK TO PREVENT HRYVNYA FROM FALLING FURTHER. Ukrainian National Bank Director Viktor Yushchenko has said the devaluation of the national currency has ended, Ukrainian TV reported on 19 November. He noted that the bank will intervene to support the exchange rate against the dollar because if the hryvnya falls below 1.9 to $1, inflation will soar. The new currency was introduced in early September. It had devalued by 7 percentage points at the end of October, following nearly two months of stability. Meanwhile, IMF officials declined to comment on Yushchenko's remarks that the fund will accept a larger budget deficit if the government pushes a deregulation and tax reduction package through the parliament, RFE/RL reported on 19 November. A one-year IMF standby loan program that helped stabilize the hryvnya is about to conclude. Ukraine is currently negotiating an extended IMF credit worth some $2.5 billion. -- Oleg Varfolomeyev NORWAY'S PRIME MINISTER IN ESTONIA. Thorbjorn Jagland, on his first foreign visit as prime minister, met with Estonian Prime Minister Tiit Vahi in Tallinn on 19 November to discuss bilateral relations, European security, and relations with Russia, BNS reported. Jagland said that a visa free regime between the two countries could be established under conditions similar to the ones Finland had set with Estonia. Vahi noted that his country was ready to conclude a border agreement with Russia this year, but it would be postponed until next year at Russia's request. President Lennart Meri, who has just returned from a visit to Germany, will meet with Jagland today. -- Saulius Girnius GAZPROM THREATENS LITHUANIA WITH SANCTIONS FOR GAS DEBTS. Kestutis Sumacheris, director-general of the national gas company Lietuvos Dujos, told BNS on 18 November that Gazprom is threatening to reduce supplies of natural gas if old debts and penalties are not paid. Lietuvos Dujos, which owes 97.9 million litai ($24.5 million) for current gas supplies, is unable to pay its debts because customers, especially the state electrical and thermal energy company Lietuvos Energija, owe it a total of 158.2 million litai as of 1 December. -- Saulius Girnius HUNGARIAN PRIME MINISTER IN POLAND. Gyula Horn, during his two-day visit to Poland from 19-20 November, told Polish President Aleksander Kwasniewski that the two countries are "strategic partners," international agencies reported on 19 November. Horn also met with his Polish counterpart Wlodzimierz Cimoszewicz. The two leaders called for closer bilateral economic ties. Poland and Hungary plan to coordinate their efforts at integration with the EU and NATO. -- Jakub Karpinski CZECH COALITION LEADERS CLASH BEFORE SECOND ROUND OF SENATE ELECTIONS. Christian Democratic Union Chairman Josef Lux and Civic Democratic Alliance Chairman Jan Kalvoda have criticized Prime Minister Vaclav Klaus for phoning several members of their parties who failed in the first round of last week's Senate elections, Czech media reported. Klaus had asked them to endorse candidates of his Civic Democratic Party (ODS) before the second round. Lux and Kalvoda charged that Klaus had violated agreements among coalition parties and abused his post as premier, since some approached candidates are state employees. Klaus argued that state employees who run should be treated as politicians and not as his subordinates. He also said "it is scandalous" that the three coalition parties were unable to agree on a common strategy ahead of the second round. Lux retorted that it was the ODS who had refused to nominate candidates jointly with the two junior parties. -- Jiri Pehe SLOVAKIA PUSHES FOR FIRST-ROUND INTEGRATION INTO NATO. At a meeting of the North Atlantic Assembly in Paris on 19 November, Slovak representatives argued for inclusion in the first round of NATO expansion, Praca reported. NAA Chairman Karsten Voigt said "the door to entry in the first wave is not yet shut for Slovakia," but he added that "I would not go so far as to say that everyone in Slovakia should be too optimistic." Most important are neither geopolitical considerations nor any kind of agreement between Russia and NATO but rather "how the West perceives the state of democracy in Slovakia," Voigt noted. Slovak Foreign Minister Pavol Hamzik addressed the same subject on 19 November at a West European Union meeting in Ostende, Belgium, Slovenska Republika reported. He stressed that Slovakia has no enemies but that "developments in our region cannot be foreseen to such an extent that we can afford to leave our security question open." -- Sharon Fisher SLOVAKIA EXTENDS RFE/RL LICENSE. The Slovak Board for Radio and TV Broadcasting on 19 November extended RFE/RL's license for 18 months, Sme reported. The decision was made just six weeks before the U.S.-funded station's current license was to expire. Last year, the board extended RFE/RL's license for only one year. Ruling coalition representatives have repeatedly accused RFE/RL of being "biased" and "anti-Slovak," but Slovak Service Director Miroslav Neovesky argued that the station strives to provide listeners with the "broadest, most balanced, and objective information." Also on 19 November, the government barred four journalists from attending a regular press conference after the weekly cabinet meeting. Government spokeswoman Ludmila Bulakova said access was denied because "we have not had good experiences [with them]." CTK reported that the four journalists come from TV Markiza, Radio Twist, and the dailies Novy Cas and Pravda. -- Sharon Fisher HUNGARY'S YOUNG DEMOCRATS WOULD HAVE WAITED TO SIGN BASIC TREATY WITH ROMANIA. The opposition Young Democrats have said the signing of the Hungarian-Romanian basic treaty in September was premature, Nepszava reported on 20 November. They claim that the Hungarian leadership could have concluded a treaty that guarantees more rights for ethnic Hungarians if they had waited for Romania's new government to take office. Meanwhile, Adrian Severin, who is expected to become Romania's new foreign minister, said the Hungarian community in Romania should play a bridge-building role in relations between the two countries, Nepszabadsag reported. He claimed he would prefer to see the two countries admitted to NATO simultaneously, but if Hungary precedes Romania, he hopes that Budapest will support Romania's integration efforts. Romania needs good neighborly relations with Hungary rather than reconciliation, he added. -- Zsofia Szilagyi HUNGARY TO PARTICIPATE IN DEVELOPMENT OF EASTERN SLAVONIA. Jacques Klein, head of the UN transitional administration in Eastern Slavonia, met in Budapest on 19 November with Hungarian Foreign Ministry State Secretary Istvan Szent-Ivanyi in Budapest to discuss how Hungary can participate in developing Eastern Slavonia, the former Yugoslav region under Serbian control that is soon to return to Croatian administration, Hungarian dailies reported. In other news, the Hungarian Foreign Ministry said Hungary has not yet received an official request to participate in operations of SFOR, the new international peacekeeping force. But it noted that Hungary is prepared to keep its technical unit in Bosnia and to allow SFOR to continue using the Taszar air and logistics base. -- Zsofia Szilagyi SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE U.S. RESUMES ARMS SHIPMENTS TO BOSNIA. James Pardew, the envoy supervising Washington's Train and Equip military aid program to the mainly Croatian and Muslim Federation, said that light and heavy weapons worth $100 million will be unloaded soon in the Croatian port of Ploce. The ship arrived weeks ago but put out to sea again amid a messy public dispute between Sarajevo and Washington. The Americans insisted that the Bosnian government sack a deputy minister of defense with close ties to Iran (see Pursuing Balkan Peace, 19 November 1996), the VOA noted on 20 November. A face-saving formula was reached whereby not only the Muslim deputy but also the ethnic Croat defense minister left office. Now the Croats are unable to agree among themselves on the choice of a new minister, Oslobodjenje reported. -- Patrick Moore REPUBLIKA SRPSKA PRIME MINISTER SAYS MLADIC TO RESIGN TODAY. Gojko Klickovic said on 19 November that cashiered Gen. Ratko Mladic has finally agreed to accept his dismissal, the BBC reported. Klickovic added that the indicted war criminal "will benefit from special treatment and will be able to get involved in the defense affairs of the Serb state," AFP noted, quoting SRNA. Mladic's staff has not confirmed the statement, and it is unclear what is meant by any future role for him in defense matters. It nonetheless seems certain that neither Pale nor Belgrade will allow him to be taken to the Hague-based tribunal, since he knows too much and could incriminate many important people if he feels he has nothing to lose. -- Patrick Moore UPDATE ON CROATIAN PRESIDENT. The state-run media continue to stress that Franjo Tudjman is in fine shape and that his treatment is moving along well at Washington's Walter Reed Army Hospital. Slobodna Dalmacija wrote on 20 November that the president "is working as though he were in Zagreb," while Vecernji list said that he will visit the Croatian embassy on 21 November and return to Zagreb two days later. That same daily on 19 November hinted that opposition political figures and independent papers have unkind motives in speculating about Tudjman's health and a possible succession crisis. The independent daily Novi List quoted Ambassador Miomir Zuzul as denying media reports that Tudjman has cancer and that he has undergone surgery. -- Patrick Moore RESULTS OF BELGRADE LOCAL ELECTIONS. The Belgrade Electoral Commission has announced that the opposition Zajedno coalition won 60 of the 110 seats in the municipal assembly, RTS reported on 20 November. The ruling Socialist Party of Serbia and its ally, the United Yugoslav Left, have 23 seats, Vojislav Seselj's ultranationalist Serbian Radical Party 15, and the Democratic Party of Serbia (DSS) two. Ten seats will be contested in a second round, slated for 27 November. Parties may still contest the returns. At a19 November press conference, DSS head Vojislav Kostunica announced that his party will back Democratic Party and Zajedno leader Zoran Djindjic as candidate for Belgrade mayor. -- Stan Markotich in Belgrade SERBIAN OPPOSITION LEADER CHARGES LOCAL ELECTION FRAUD. Vuk Draskovic, head of the Serbian Renewal Movement and a leader of the Zajedno coalition, told some 35,000 demonstrators in Nis on 19 November that the ruling Socialists were responsible for election breaches during the 17 November local election run-offs, Nasa Borba reported. He added that some irregularities are so serious that a third round of balloting will have to take place in some districts. Violations allegedly range from falsification of ballots to the theft of ballot boxes. Meanwhile, Nasa Borba reported that the authorities are mobilizing police and military reserves with the likely intent of at least intimidating those attending opposition rallies. -- Stan Markotich in Belgrade MACEDONIAN OPPOSITION CALLS FOR EARLY ELECTIONS. The nationalist opposition, led by the Internal Macedonian Revolutionary Organization (VMRO-DPMNE), has said it will use its strong showing in the 17 November local elections to try to force early parliamentary elections. The VMRO- DPMNE claimed victory in some of the country's biggest towns and in three of Skopje's four districts. The opposition had boycotted the second round of the 1994 parliamentary elections, charging fraud. Meanwhile, an OSCE observer mission said that reported irregularities did not put the validity of the local ballot into question. Council of Europe observers, however, estimated that as many as 25% of voters may not have appeared on electoral lists, Reuters reported. -- Fabian Schmidt BUCHAREST MAYOR DESIGNATED NEW ROMANIAN PREMIER. The National Peasant Party Christian Democratic has named Victor Ciorbea as prime minister- designate, Romanian media reported on 19-20 November. Ciorbea's nomination has to be approved by the parliament, which is expected to give its consent. The Democratic Convention of Romania (CDR) is now consulting legal experts over the fate of the Bucharest mayoralty. It is most likely that new elections for that post will take place in the next few months, with a CDR deputy mayor temporarily replacing Ciorbea. In other news, Libertatea reports that outgoing President Ion Iliescu will probably be elected chairman of the Party of Social Democracy in Romania. -- Michael Shafir RULING PARTY SUPPORTS LUCINSCHI IN MOLDOVAN PRESIDENTIAL RUN-OFF. The Agrarian Democratic Party of Moldova (PDAM) is backing parliamentary chairman Petru Lucinschi in the run-off against incumbent President Mircea Snegur scheduled for 1 December, Infotag reported on 19 November. Premier Andrei Sangheli, the PDAM candidate, lost in the first round with only 9.5% of the vote. Radio Bucharest reported that Lucinschi will likely also be endorsed by the Communists' party, whose candidate, Vladimir Voronin, also lost in the first round. Meanwhile, Vasile Nedelciuc, deputy chairman of the Party of Democratic Forces, said his formation is still considering whether to back President Mircea Snegur. Snegur told a press conference in Chisinau on 19 November that Moldova was "in danger" and must "unite in the struggle against communist leftism." -- Michael Shafir MAIN BULGARIAN OPPOSITION GROUP TO BECOME PARTY. The National Executive Council of the Union of Democratic Forces (SDS) on 19 November proposed that the SDS transform itself from a coalition into a party, Bulgarian media reported. The council will present this proposal to the next SDS national conference. SDS Chairman Ivan Kostov said talks with leaders of the SDS member organizations started on 18 November. The SDS was formed in December 1989 as an umbrella organization of anti-communist organizations. Fifteen parties and movements ranging from monarchists to Social Democrats currently belong to the coalition, while two more have observer status. The platform of the new SDS still has to be worked out, but Kostov said it will be close to the "principles of [European] people's parties but [will] include social-democratic and liberal elements." According to 24 chasa, seven SDS member parties are opposed to the council's proposal. -- Stefan Krause WERE ARMS SHIPPED FROM ALBANIA TO RWANDA? According to documents found in a camp abandoned by Hutu militia in eastern Zaire, a British- registered company shipped mortars, rifles, and heavy machine-gun ammunition from several countries, including Albania, to the former Rwandan government during the 1994 genocide. The Albanian Defense Ministry denied the allegations, saying Albania has never violated the UN arms embargo against Rwanda, which took effect in May 1994, Reuters reported on 19 November. The British government has set up a commission to investigate the company, identified as Mil-Tec Corporation Ltd., AFP reported. -- Fabian Schmidt ALBANIAN JOURNALIST FINED FOR LIBEL. A Tirana court has ruled that Koha Jone journalist Arban Hasani must pay a fine of $2,160 or face seven months in prison on charges of libel. The SHIK secret service and the patriotic organization Kosova accused Hasani of publishing false information when he was editor in chief of Populli Po, Gazeta Shqiptare reported on 19 November. Hasani had alleged that many current SHIK employees had worked for the communist-era secret service. The Association of Professional Journalists has sent an appeal to President Sali Berisha protesting the sentence and calling for an amnesty. -- Fabian Schmidt [As of 12:00 CET] Compiled by Jan Cleave ------------------------------------------------------------------------ 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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