|Our most basic common link is that we all inhabit this planet. We all breathe the same air. We all cherish our children's future. And we are all mortal. - John F. Kennedy|
No. 7, Part II, 10 January 1997
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 UKRAINIAN GOVERNMENT TO REGULATE ALCOHOL PRODUCTION, SALES. The Cabinet of Ministers is to impose stricter controls over the production and sale of alcohol, Ukrainian Radio reported on 9 January. State Food Production head Leonid Svatko said that, in the last six months of 1996, Ukraine earned $175 million from alcohol exports. He added that if the state had not regulated the sale and production of alcohol, $120 million of that sum would have remained outside Ukraine. The new regulations include a minimum price for imported alcohol. The state has also stepped up inspections of alcohol vendors; and since the beginning of the year alone, more than 2,000 vendors have lost their licenses. Meanwhile, Prime Minister Pavlo Lazarenko criticized the government for its "lack of discipline," particularly the Finance Ministry. He said that the ministry has already received eight warnings and that a ninth would not be issued. -- Ustina Markus BELARUS CONCERNED ABOUT WESTERN ALIENATION. Belarusian Foreign Minister Uladzimir Syanko has agreed to the European Union's request to allow an EU fact-finding mission into the country to assess the situation in Belarus, AFP reported on 9 January. German Foreign Minister Klaus Kinkel, meeting with Syanko in Berlin the same day, expressed EU concerns about recent political developments in Belarus. The same day, ITAR-TASS reported that First Deputy Foreign Minister Valeryi Tsypkalo has begun talks with the EU and the Council of Europe. The council is considering revoking Belarus's special status with the organization later this month. The Belarusian National Assembly, the new lower house of parliament, also ratified a number of international agreements on minority rights, the rights of deportees, and other human rights issues. -- Ustina Markus BELARUSIAN POLITICAL UPDATE. Syamyon Sharetsky, speaker of the parliament that was dissolved last year, arrived in Warsaw on 9 January to meet with Polish officials, an RFE/RL correspondent reported. A number of deputies to the 1996 parliament continue to meet under Sharetsky and refuse to recognize the legitimacy of the new legislature. Opposition leader Zyanon Paznyak, who was granted political asylum in the U.S. last year, is also in Warsaw. The same day, Radio Rossii reported that the nationalist Belarusian Popular Front picketed the presidential administration building in Minsk. They protested food shortages in the country and demanded that President Alyaksandr Lukashenka guarantee to make dairy and meat products available in shops at prices correlated to wages and pensions. The previous day, Belarusian TV reported that Lukashenka has appointed former Justice Minister Valyantsin Sukala as head of the Supreme Court. Sukala supported the president during last year's political crisis. -- Ustina Markus RUSSIA WON'T SIGN BORDER TREATY WITH ESTONIA. Russian Foreign Minister Yevgenii Primakov on 9 January said that Russia will not sign a border agreement with Estonia, Western agencies reported. He added that Russia should not be "afraid" to impose economic sanctions on Estonia to protect the rights of Russian speakers living there. Former Estonian Foreign Minister Siim Kallas said Primakov's statement was probably due to a domestic political struggle in Russia. Last November, he agreed to drop the Estonian demand that the agreement mention the 1920 Tartu Treaty. His successor, Toomas Ilves, said during an official visit to Sweden that Primakov's statement was "regrettable" and "incomprehensible," particularly because it demarcates where Russia had unilaterally fixed it two years earlier. He noted that Estonia was prepared to sign the agreement and expected Russia to do the same as a step toward enhancing the security and stability of Europe. -- Saulius Girnius LITHUANIA'S BUDGET DEFICIT IN 1996. Prime Minister Gediminas Vagnorius on 9 January announced that in 1996 the state failed to collect 356 million litai ($94 million) in planned revenues and the state social security fund Sodra 691 million litai, BNS reported. Noting that only 22% of Lithuania's GDP was collected in taxes last year, Vagnorius said that it would be "realistic" to aim to collect 32-33% of GDP in taxes, as had been the case several years ago. -- Saulius Girnius UPDATE ON DISSENT AMONG POLISH OPPOSITION. Bronislaw Komorowski, former secretary-general of the Freedom Union (UW) and one of the six deputies who have recently quit that party, has said that the UW has no program because it is split over ideological and values issues, Polish dailies reported on 10 January. He added that the leadership wanted to mend the split through "liberalism" but had failed to do so. Another dissenter, Jan Maria Rokita, announced his support for Solidarity Electoral Action (SAW), saying that the UW leaders should not be "offended" by the existence of SAW simply because it was not them who had founded the movement. Former Internal Affairs Minister Krzysztof Kozlowski, a UW senator, criticized the dissenters, saying he himself had wanted to reach an agreement with the SAW but its program was still unclear. -- Jakub Karpinski JOURNALISTS IN POLAND TO BE SUBJECT TO LUSTRATION. The Sejm commission drafting the lustration law has decided that journalists in both the state-run and private media will be screened for cooperation with the communist-era secret service, Polish media reported on 10 January. The new provision is supported by the ruling post-communist Democratic Left Alliance (SLD) and the Polish Peasant Party, while the opposition Freedom Union and Labor Union fear that broadening the scope of lustration will delay or even prevent screening state officials. Speaking to journalists, SLD deputy Jerzy Dziewulski did not deny that his party would like to try to avoid the screening of deputies and other high-ranking officials. He called the new provision "irrational," Rzeczpospolita reported. -- Beata Pasek CZECH INFLATION RATE IN 1996. The Statistical Office on 9 January announced that the annual inflation rate for 1996 was 8.8%. That is lower than predicted by economic analysts but higher than government projections at the beginning of last year. Most economists agree that the main reason for the high inflation rate is that wages grew faster than expected, outpacing the growth in labor productivity. -- Jiri Pehe SLOVAK OPPOSITION CRITICIZES STATE OF EMERGENCY BILL. Opposition representatives on 9 January slammed the Justice Ministry's draft law restricting basic human and political rights in a state of emergency, Slovak media reported. Those rights that would be targeted in such a case include personal immunity and freedom as well as the rights to ownership, assembly, and travel. Slovak National Party Chairman Jan Slota demanded the passage of such a law in January 1996 in exchange for his party's support of the Slovak-Hungarian bilateral treaty. Christian Democratic Movement Chairman Jan Carnogursky called the bill "a serious violation of basic civil rights," saying it provides for imprisonment and the confiscation of property in a state of emergency. The bill would also allow the mobilization of the army, customs guards, railway police, airport guards, and other armed forces. -- Sharon Fisher SLOVAK PRIME MINISTER ON REFERENDUM. Vladimir Meciar on 9 January told a Movement for a Democratic Slovakia (HZDS) rally that while his party supports changes to the Slovak constitution, it will not support the referendum on direct presidential elections organized by the opposition, CTK reported. Meciar said that if the referendum does take place, the ruling coalition will suggest including a second question on the immediate recall of President Michal Kovac. He also said that if the Constitutional Court agrees that it is possible to change the constitution through a referendum, the HZDS will call for a referendum on "the stabilization of Slovakia's constitutional order." Meciar plans to call a meeting of government and opposition parties next week to discuss changes in the electoral system and the timing of the next elections, which are currently scheduled for fall 1998. -- Anna Siskova CONTROVERSY IN HUNGARY OVER DRAFTING NEW CONSTITUTION. The opposition Young Democrats on 9 January rejected a proposal by the Alliance of Free Democrats (SZDSZ), the junior coalition partner, that only four of the seven parliamentary parties draft the new constitution, Hungarian dailies reported. Previously, the SZDSZ had suggested that only those parties that had supported the concept for the new basic law in December should take part in drafting the final document. The governing Socialists and Free Democrats as well as the opposition Young Democrats and Democratic People Party all voted in favor of the concept, while the other three parties voted against or abstained. The Young Democrats argue that all parliamentary parties should take part in drawing up the new constitution. -- Zsofia Szilagyi SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE BELGRADE STUDENTS WIN STANDOFF WITH POLICE. Student protesters held a triumphant and noisy march through the heart of the capital in the early hours of 10 January following the withdrawal of security forces. The students had organized shifts in order to confront the police for 13 hours, CNN and AFP reported. It was the first march since the authorities banned such demonstrations on 25 December, and the students say they will now seek a formal lifting of that prohibition. Opposition leader Vuk Draskovic, for his part, demanded that Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic resign. Meanwhile, the Supreme Court on 9 January recognized the opposition's 17 November election victory in Vrsac, but the protesters say they will continue until all 14 of their successes are acknowledged. Also on 9 January, 52 of the 160 members of the Serbian Academy of Sciences warned the government to recognize all opposition victories lest the country degenerate into "a complete police dictatorship" and civil war, Nasa Borba wrote. -- Patrick Moore CONSTITUTIONAL MONARCHY FOR SERBIA? Prince Alexander, heir to the throne from the Karadjordjevic dynasty, who has spent his entire life in Britain, has said he has close links to the Serbian opposition and is ready to return as king if the people want him. He told the Daily Telegraph on 9 January that "it's time for a change. The people are fed up." Royalist roots run deep in Serbia, and many observers and politicians have suggested that the country might eventually restore the Karadjordjevic dynasty, which the communists overthrew in 1945. Alexander's realm would be confined to Serbia and Montenegro rather than the entire former Yugoslavia, which his family had ruled since 1918. But he does not exclude Bosnian Serb territories linking up with Serbia: "One day, there will have to be a Dayton Two," he argued. He also warned that "Milosevic is planning a collective suicide of the nation" and must be gotten rid of. Alexander added that his role model is Spain's King Juan Carlos, who helped Spain become a prosperous democracy integrated into Europe. "What does the king provide? He provides unity," Alexander concluded. -- Patrick Moore BOSNIAN SERBS SAY TRACKING DOWN WAR CRIMINALS WOULD ENDANGER PEACE. Momcilo Krajisnik, the Serbian member of the Bosnian Presidency, has said establishing an international police force to apprehend indicted war criminals in Bosnia would pose a threat for peace in the country, Onasa reported on 9 January, citing Bosnian Serb Radio reports. Krajisnik said the Serbs are willing to try their own war criminals using files received from the Hague-based international criminal tribunal. Meanwhile, Bosnian Serb President Biljana Plavsic said in a letter to UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan that the Bosnian Serbs will not hand over their former President Radovan Karadzic or military commander Ratko Mladic, both of whom are indicted war criminals, Reuters reported on 9 January. Plavsic said the indictments were no longer valid since fighting was over and there were no more reports on war crimes in the Republika Srpska. Delivering Karadzic and Mladic to The Hague would only threaten peace, Plavsic added. -- Daria Sito Sucic BRCKO'S FATE CONTINUES TO HANG IN BALANCE. While international mediators were meeting in Rome to discuss the fate of Brcko (see OMRI Daily Digest, 9 January 1996), Bosnian Serb leaders warned that war could re- ignite in the Balkans if the town was awarded to the Muslim-Croat federation, Reuters reported. "Brcko is Serb and must remain Serb," Bosnian Serb President Biljana Plavsic said at a ceremony in the northern Bosnian town marking the founding of the Republika Srpska. Krajisnik said Serbs would be compelled to wage war if the town were not in Serbian hands. But the Bosnian Federation argues that Brcko should be granted to Muslims and Croats, who constituted a majority of the city's pre-war population and were subsequently "cleansed" by Serbs during the war. Kresimir Zubak, the Croatian member of Bosnian Presidency, warned the Serbs of "total defeat" if they were to go to war over Brcko, AFP reported on 9 January. -- Daria Sito Sucic CROATIA EXTENDS LICENSE OF ZAGREB INDEPENDENT RADIO. The Croatian government has extended the broadcasting license of the independent Radio 101 until the end of this month, Croatian media reported on 10 January. The license was due to expire on 15 January. Some 100,000 people staged a protest in Zagreb in November when the government tried to silence the station by granting its broadcasting concession to a rival station. The government gave no reason for the short-term extension of Radio 101's license. -- Daria Sito Sucic U.S. OFFICIAL ON ROMANIA'S CHANCES OF EARLY ADMISSION INTO NATO. U.S. Defense Undersecretary for Policy Walter Slocombe, in Bucharest on 9 January for a one-day visit, said Romania's chances of early admission into NATO have significantly increased following recent democratic elections and improved relations with its neighbors, international media reported. But Slocombe stressed that his visit to the Romanian capital should not be interpreted as indicating which countries will be nominated to join the alliance first. At meetings with senior defense officials, he discussed Romania's efforts to join NATO. President Emil Constantinescu and Premier Victor Ciorbea both argued for the country's integration into NATO, stressing again that Romania has no alternative but to join NATO. -- Zsolt Mato LUCINSCHI RESIGNS AS MOLDOVAN PARLIAMENTARY SPEAKER. President-elect Petru Lucinschi on 9 January handed in his resignation as parliamentary speaker, Moldpres reported. In a secret ballot the same day, Dumitru Motpan, head of the ruling Agrarian Democratic Party, failed to win the required 50% of the vote to be elected to that post. Another round of voting is expected to take place today after further consultations. One of the favorites for the post is Dumitru Diacov, who is deputy speaker and one of the organizers of Lucinschi's election campaign. Lucinschi will officially take office as president on 15 January. He defeated Mircea Snegur in the second round of presidential elections last month. -- Dan Ionescu ANTI-SOCIALIST DEMONSTRATIONS CONTINUE IN BULGARIA. Thousands of people took to Sofia's streets again on 9 January to call for new elections, AFP reported. Organizers have promised a third consecutive day of protests today, saying they hope to form a human chain around the parliament building. The protests follow the BSP's nomination of Interior Minister Nikolai Dobrev to replace Zhan Videnov, who resigned as prime minister on 28 December. Videnov had been blamed for Bulgaria's dire economic situation. President Zhelyu Zhelev is scheduled on 11 January to formally ask Dobrev to form a new government backed by the BSP and its two allies, Ecoglasnost and the Agrarian Party. Dobrev has said he will take no action against the demonstrators "unless they become violent." Opposition leader Ivan Kostov has likened the Bulgarian protests to those currently taking place in Belgrade. -- Fabian Schmidt BULGARIAN INFLATION IN 1996 REACHED 310%. According to the Statistics Institute, inflation soared to 310.8% in 1996, AFP reported on 9 January. The head of the institute said this was 10 times the average rate in east and central Europe. Inflation in December totaled 26.9%-- the highest monthly figure since prices were deregulated in February 1991. The institute forecast that inflation in 1997 would be 150%, but it warned that if the lev continued to fall against the dollar, inflation this year could exceed the figure for 1996. -- Fabian Schmidt WIDOW OF ALBANIAN DICTATOR RELEASED FROM PRISON. Nexhmije Hoxha, the 76- year-old widow of late communist-era dictator Enver Hoxha, was released from a Tirana jail earlier today, Reuters reported. She was arrested in 1991 and sentenced in 1993 to 11 years in prison on embezzlement charges, but her term was reduced three times in various amnesties by President Sali Berisha. She is quoted as saying "I am very pleased to be out but I am now rushing off to see my children and family.... I don't know where I'm going to live because I have no home." She added that one of her first priorities is to visit the grave of her husband, which, she said, she has not seen. Enver Hoxha was buried in the Martyrs of the Nation cemetery in 1985. His body was exhumed and re-buried in a public cemetery in 1992. -- Fabian Schmidt ANOTHER ALBANIAN PYRAMID SCHEME COLLAPSES. The Malvasia investment company has gone bankrupt, Republika reported on 9 January. The Kucove- based investment company, which was founded in 1991, offered monthly interest rates of 7-10%. It is the third pyramid scheme to collapse since December. Meanwhile, Koha Jone on 9 January published the full text of a Democratic Alliance Party (PAD) statement accusing the government of having received substantial funding from various pyramid investment schemes. According to the PAD, the Gjallica investment scheme alone gave the equivalent of $500,000 to the Democrats for their election campaign. The government has denied the charges. -- 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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