|A man should never be ashamed to own he has been in the wrong, which is but saying, in other words, that he is wiser today than he was yesterday. - Jonathan Swift|
No. 240, Part II, 13 December 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 UKRAINE'S PARLIAMENT PASSES NEW PRIVATIZATION LAW. The Ukrainian parliament passed a new version of an enterprise privatization law on 11 December, UNIAN reported. According to the law, all Ukrainian citizens can purchase state property, but employees enjoy preferential treatment in acquiring shares in enterprises where they work. The law bans privatization of the property of the armed forces, underground mineral deposits, water resources, radio and TV transmitters and channels, pipelines, distilleries and weapons producing enterprises. The law allows Ukrainian citizens, foreigners, and persons without citizenship, along with Ukrainian and foreign corporate bodies, to purchase shares in privatized companies. Armed forces property will be subject to corporatization, with the state retaining 51% of the shares. -- Oleg Varfolomeyev UKRAINE TO SET UP COMMISSION ON LIBYAN ARMS DEAL. Ukraine's parliament set up a special commission to look into The Washington Times report alleging Ukraine was selling missiles and arms to Libya, ITAR-TASS and Ukrainian agencies reported on 12 December. The commission is to investigate the source of the allegations and dispel doubts over Ukraine's adherence to international embargoes. National Security Secretary Volodymyr Horbulin said a special investigation had proven the charges were groundless, and a document to that effect was signed by all relevant Ukrainian military chiefs. In a meeting with the U.S. State Department director for CIS affairs, James Collins, Horbulin said no documentary evidence concerning the Libyan deal was produced. He said the White House would soon publish its own findings over the charges, and hoped it would not affect the U.S. Congress in dispersing aid to Ukraine. -- Ustina Markus UKRAINIAN GOVERNMENT CUTS EDUCATION SPENDING. Education Minister Mykhailo Zhurovskii told the parliament that the country's education system is facing "total ruin," Ukrainian media reported on 10 December. The 1997 draft state budget covers only 55% of teachers' wages and 70% of students' stipends. Zhurovskii said the government will reduce spending on education by introducing partial payment for textbooks and cutting other benefits, as well as reducing the number of teachers by 23%. The Ukrainian government also decided to abolish stipends for university students from 1 January, Ukrainian television reported on 12 December. Stipends will be paid only to the best students and to those from poor families. -- Oleg Varfolomeyev BELARUSIAN PROSECUTOR GENERAL RESIGNS; ELECTIONS SET. Prosecutor General Vasyl Kapitan resigned on 12 December citing health reasons, international agencies reported. President Alyaksandr Lukashenka accepted his resignation and appointed Aleh Bozhelko as his replacement. Reuters reported that the real reason for Kapitan's replacement was not his health, but his disloyalty to the president. In other news, ITAR- TASS reported that Lukashenka signed a decree setting 26 December as the election date for the parliament's upper house. Lukashenka will appoint eight members, and the remaining 56 will be elected by secret ballot by deputies of local soviets in the country's six regions and Minsk. The 110 member lower house consists of deputies who recognized the 24 November constitutional referendum results. Meanwhile, Lukashenka appointed Ivan Luakh Minister of Labor, Belarusian radio reported on 11 December. -- Ustina Markus EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT URGES EU TO CUT BELARUS AID. The European Parliament (EP) condemned Belarusian President Alyaksandr Lukashenka as authoritarian and autocratic on 12 December, and urged the European Union to suspend financial aid to Belarus until "the Belarusian authorities have clearly indicated their intention to fully respect democratic and human rights," AFP reported. The European deputies also warned that they will not ratify the EU-Belarus partnership accord. The resolution issued by the parliament condemned the introduction of a new lower house of parliament that is completely under the president's control. It also observed that it recognizes only the previous democratically-elected parliament as the sole representative body in Belarus. The EP insisted on suspension of all aid programs except the two pro-democracy and press freedom initiatives. -- Sergei Solodovnikov ESTONIAN FOREIGN MINISTER IN BRUSSELS. Toomas Ilves noted in his speech to the foreign ministers of the North Atlantic Cooperation Council on 11 December that his country wants to join NATO not because it fears Russia, but to contribute to peace and stability in Europe, BNS reported. He and his Russian counterpart Yevgenii Primakov later discussed the signing of a border agreement and increasing cooperation between their ministries. The next day Ilves had talks with NATO Secretary-General Javier Solana on NATO expansion. European Union Commissioner Hans van den Broek Ilves that Estonia's responses to an EU questionnaire completed during the summer suggest that trade tariffs were the key problem in the country's efforts to join the EU. -- Saulius Girnius LITHUANIA'S LOCAL GOVERNMENTS TO BE ELECTED FOR THREE YEARS. The Seimas voted unanimously (118 votes) on 12 December to amend article 119 of the constitution and changing the term of office for local government councils from two to three years, Radio Lithuania reported. The requirement of obtaining at least 94 votes in two separate votes at least three months apart has thus been fulfilled. The next elections are to be held in the spring of 1997, probably on 23 March since by- elections for the four Seimas seats are scheduled for this day. -- Saulius Girnius SOLIDARITY ELECTORAL ACTION WEIGHS ITS VOTES. Solidarity leader Marian Krzaklewski established a draft allocation of votes that the member organizations will have in the Solidarity Electoral Action (AWS), a Solidarity-led alliance of some two dozen parties and organizations, Polish dailies reported. The AWS will prepare common lists of candidates in next year's parliamentary elections. Solidarity will have half of the votes in the AWS. The numbers of votes allocated to other organizations depends on the membership, financial possibilities and other abilities. The draft allocations are valid and "AWS can start to work as a shareholder company," Krzaklewski said. But three months are left for complaints and verification of data used as the base for the vote allocation. -- Jakub Karpinski EU CALLS ON SLOVAKIA TO RESTORE DEPUTY'S MANDATE. The European parliament approved a resolution on 12 December asking Slovakia to restore the mandate of Deputy Frantisek Gaulieder, Slovak media reported. Gaulieder quit the ruling Movement for a Democratic Slovakia's parliamentary caucus in November. Although he said he wanted to retain his post, serving as an independent, the parliament stripped him of his mandate. The European Parliament pointed to Slovakia's EU Association Agreement, in which it pledged respect for human and minority rights, democracy, and the rule of law. The private Bratislava-based Radio Twist on 12 December reported that Western diplomats warned Bratislava that the Association Agreement could be canceled and visa requirements renewed if the cabinet does not follow general democratic standards. Ruling coalition representatives denied the news, Sme reported. Also on 12 December, 37 opposition deputies lodged a complaint with the Constitutional Court regarding Gaulieder's replacement. -- Sharon Fisher HUNGARIAN UPDATE. The Hungarian government on 12 December accepted a draft of a new pension system which should take effect in January 1998, Hungarian media reported. Before putting the bill up for parliamentary debate, the cabinet wants to hold consultations with parliamentary parties and interest groups . The cabinet also decided to increase the equity of national broadcaster Antenna Hungaria by 2.5 billion forints ($15.8 million). In other news, Viktor Orban, Chairman of the opposition Young Democrats said "March 1997 is the final date for [achieving] opposition cohesion," adding that the opposition will lose the 1998 general elections if it doesn't unite. -- Zsofia Szilagyi SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE BELGRADE PROTESTERS PRESS ON. On 12 December, the 23rd day of peaceful mass protests, an estimated 30,000 students attempted to march to the Belgrade residence of Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic, but were halted by a cordon of well-armed riot police. The march was aimed at putting pressure on Milosevic to resign, but Reuters reported that the police managed to stop "the students under the windows of the U.S. embassy." Meanwhile, Italian Foreign Minister Lamberto Dini met with Milosevic and leaders of the opposition Zajedno coalition. Dini stated that the opposition should drop demands to have the results of 17 November local elections validated, which gave Zajedno victories in Serbia's twelve largest municipalities. "Reinstatement of results seems to me to be something that is not in the cards," said Dini. Opposition leaders, however, say they will not compromise the election victory, Nasa Borba reported. -- Stan Markotich BELGRADE INDEPENDENT RADIO SIGNS TEN YEAR DEAL. Independent Radio B92 announced on 12 December that it had signed a ten-year contract with Radio and Television Serbia, allowing it to broadcast over a state-owned transmitter, Reuters reported. The station, shut down by Milosevic on 3 December for two days for its coverage and reporting of ongoing mass demonstrations in Serbia, says it will continue efforts to obtain its own frequency. -- Stan Markotich MONTENEGRIN AUTHORITIES URGE AN END TO DEMONSTRATIONS IN SERBIA. A representative for Montenegrin President Momir Bulatovic has contacted the Serbian government requesting that the issue of ongoing mass demonstrations in Serbia be addressed, Nasa Borba reported. According to the Montenegrin government, it is incumbent upon Serbia's authorities to "sort out its internal problems at the earliest opportunity" because the political situation throughout Serbia may have "unpredictable repercussions" for Montenegro. Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic, however, has so far failed to respond to the Montenegrins' request, AFP reported on 12 December. -- Stan Markotich MAN DIES AFTER TORTURE IN KOSOVO. According to the Democratic League of Kosovo (LDK), Feriz Blakcori, 34, died in a hospital in Pristina on 12 December after allegedly being tortured by police, Reuters reported. Blakcori was arrested at his home on 9 December by a 40-strong police unit on suspicion of possessing firearms. Blakcori was a member of LDK's information commission and a teacher in a local elementary school. The LDK says Blakcori was the 14th victim of Serbian police violence in Kosovo this year. Meanwhile, the Kosovar shadow-state government issued a first official statement welcoming the Belgrade protests. However, it added that the Serbian opposition "still remains anti-Albanian" and "does not as yet deserve our full support." -- Fabian Schmidt COLLECTIVE BOSNIAN GOVERNMENT ANNOUNCED. The three-man joint presidency named the first ministers for the government of Bosnia and Herzegovina on 12 December, after three months of haggling, Oslobodjenje reported. The appointments reflect a careful balance of Muslims, Serbs and Croats on the model of the "nationality key" established under Tito, which had, however, eventually led to a gridlock. The co-prime ministers are the Muslim Haris Silajdzic and the Serb Boro Bosic, who will take turns in chairing weekly cabinet meetings. A Croat will be deputy prime minister, and each nationality will get one of the three ministries: foreign affairs (a Croat), foreign trade (a Muslim), and communications (a Serb). Each minister will have two deputies from the other two nationalities, and final appointments are expected on 17 December. -- Patrick Moore ARMS FOR BOSNIA. The U.S. "train and equip" program to arm the mainly Croat and Muslim Federation is now complete, Oslobodjenje reported. Special envoy James Pardew said: "This equipment will allow the federation to defend its people and their territory. Never again will people of Bosnia be unable to effectively respond to military aggression." Pardew also criticized the Serbs for not reducing their weapons stockpile, which is part of the overall program to level the two armies. Meanwhile, at Ploce on the Adriatic, two ships (one from Egypt, one from the United Arab Emirates) arrived with weapons for the federal army. -- Patrick Moore SFOR GETS ITS MANDATE. The UN Security Council approved the new 30,000- strong Stabilization Force (SFOR), which takes over from IFOR when the latter's mandate expires on 20 December. The resolution gave SFOR an 18- month mandate and also stressed civilian reconstruction tasks, Reuters wrote. Bosnian Ambassador Muhamed Sacirbey said, however, that one must not "substitute superficiality for substance" and that real efforts must be made to ensure freedom of movement, freedom of the media, and the right of refugees to go home. It is not clear whether SFOR's mandate will be any tougher than IFOR's was, particularly regarding the matter of catching war criminals. -- Patrick Moore CROATIAN INTERIOR MINISTER SACKED; MORE OFFICIALS RESIGN IN PROTEST. Ivan Jarnjak's departure (see OMRI Daily Digest, 12 December 1996) was announced on 12 December by the ruling Croatian Democratic Community's Secretary Ivan Valent--not by the prime minister or the president as required by the constitution--international and local media reported. Valent said Jarnjak was moving to another senior government position, "which will enable him to concentrate more on party activities," Vecernji List reported on 13 December. According to Valent, Jarnjak will be replaced by former privatization minister Ivan Penic. Local media reported that more members of Jarnjak's team had resigned as a sign of solidarity with their minister, but it was not officially confirmed. Analysts say Jarnjak was sacked for allowing the demonstration against the governments attempt to silence independent Radio 101 to proceed without police intervention. -- Daria Sito Sucic CROATIAN CUSTOMS CONFISCATE SOROS FOUNDATION MONEY. Croatian customs on 12 December confiscated $65,000 from Croatian Open Society foundation officials, international agencies reported. State television said border police at the Bregana border crossing with Slovenia will most probably confiscate the money that was not reported to the customs. But a Finance Ministry source told Reuters on 12 December that it was not necessary to report foreign currency upon entry to the country. The incident followed recent vows by President Franjo Tudjman to crack down on dissenters, in which he particularly named George Soros's Open Society Institute as the organization that has infiltrated the whole society in order to undermine the government. Zarko Puhovski of the Open Society foundation said the authorities were taking the issue "very seriously" this time, Reuters quoted him as saying. -- Daria Sito Sucic NEW ROMANIAN GOVERNMENT SWORN IN. Prime Minister Victor Ciorbea's cabinet on 12 December took the oath in the presence of President Emil Constantinescu, Radio Bucharest reported. Ciorbea stressed that his government differed from the preceding ones in the fact that it had "the knowledge, the possibility, and the will to change the country's fate." Constantinescu said he thoroughly trusted Ciorbea and his cabinet. Almost six weeks after the 3 November elections, the new government finally started implementing its program. However, negotiations on distributing second-level ministerial and county prefect posts within the governing coalition will continue. -- Zsolt Mato DID BULGARIAN COMMUNISTS ILLEGALLY TRANSFER $2 BILLION ABROAD? Prosecutor-General Ivan Tatarchev on 12 December said he has documents proving the existence of a financial network of the former Bulgarian Communist Party (BKP), reportedly used by nomenklatura groups to obtain start-up capital for their business empires, RFE/RL reported. Tatarchev said the money was transferred abroad before 1989 as aid to Third World revolutionary organizations but was never included in the state budget. In 1994, Financial Times reported that nomenklatura business groups with alleged links to organized crime had embezzled huge sums of state funds from secret BKP accounts in Austria and Switzerland. In November, former Communist dictator Todor Zhivkov told RFE/RL that $2 billion were transferred abroad during the term of then-Prime Minister Andrey Lukanov in 1990. This sum equals Bulgaria's debt to the Paris Club of lenders. -- Stefan Krause BULGARIAN PARLIAMENT PASSED REVISED BUDGET. The National Assembly on 12 December passed the second "actualization" of the 1996 state budget, Pari and Demokratsiya reported. The new revision puts the budget deficit at 125.3 billion leva ($762 million at the average exchange rate for 1996 so far). Expenditures for interest payments on domestic debt were increased by 125.3 billion leva to 356.3 billion leva. Some 308.5 billion leva will go for interest payments on domestic debt, and 47.8 billion for interest on foreign debt. The draft 1997 budget envisages an exchange rate of 350 leva for one dollar and a 40% annual inflation rate. In other news, the National Statistical Institute announced that unemployment stood at 12% in November, up from 11.3% in October. The number of unemployed went up from 425,419 to 460,061. Among them are 20,382 former employees from 64 state-owned firms slated for closure. -- Stefan Krause ALBANIAN STUDENTS THREATEN STRIKE. The Independent Albanian Students' Union has issued a list with 11 demands and threatened to hold a strike unless the government meets the demands by 30 December, Koha Jone reported on 13 December. The demands include better working and living conditions in the university and dormitories, a 100% increase in stipends, the legalization of a student radio and newspaper, the setting up of a freedom monument in the Student City of Tirana and the official recognition of dissident Azem Hajdari's Union of Independent Trade Unions (BSPSH). The students also demand the resignation of the director of Albanian Radio and TV, arguing that the public media misrepresented the recent dispute between Hajdari and his competitor, trade union leader Valer Xheka over the BSPSH leadership (see the OMRI Daily Digest, 26 November). -- Fabian Schmidt [As of 12:00 CET] Compiled by Sava Tatic ------------------------------------------------------------------------ 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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