|The person who knows how to laugh at himself will never cease to be amused. - Shirley MacLaine|
No. 8, Part II, 13 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 NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISER IN BRUSSELS. Volodymyr Horbulin visited Brussels for talks with NATO, Ukrainian Radio reported on 10-12 January. After the visit, Ukrainian Radio announced that a special partnership agreement between NATO and Ukraine may be signed this year. Horbulin said he views the special partnership between Ukraine and NATO as an important component of European security. -- Ustina Markus GAS DISTRIBUTORS WIN CONTRACTS IN UKRAINE. Ten Ukrainian and foreign gas distribution companies won the rights to supply Ukrainian consumers with more than 80 billion cubic meters of natural gas worth $5 billion, Ukrainian Radio reported on 10 January. Competition for the contracts had been going on for several months, and involved politicians as well as businessmen. Previously, the major distributor was the Ukrhazkonsortium, made up of six companies and two banks. The Dnipropetrovsk gas system gave representatives from that region a leading role in gas distribution. Under the new distribution scheme, several other companies have emerged on the distribution arena, including Interhaz, the Ukrainian Gas Company, and others. -- Ustina Markus POLITICAL APPOINTMENTS, DISMISSALS IN BELARUS. President Alyaksandr Lukashenka issued a decree dismissing Uladzimir Syanko from the post of foreign minister, and appointing Ivan Antonovich in his place, international agencies reported on 11 January. The same day, Lukashenka confirmed acting Defense Minister Alyaksandr Chumakau in his post. Chumakau replaced Leanid Maltseu last year after Maltseu was unceremoniously dismissed for appearing drunk at a banquet. Lukashenka also appointed four members to the new 64-seat upper house of parliament, the Council of the Republic. The four include former Supreme Soviet Chairman Mikalai Dzemyantsei, who was removed from office for failing to condone the putschists in August 1991; Uladzimir Karavai, former head of the Belarusian Supreme Court during the Soviet era; Tamara Dudko, head of the Belarusian Union of Women; and Mikalai Yaromeka, head of the Belarusian Confederation of Creative Associations and Cultural Funds. -- Ustina Markus BELARUSIAN PARLIAMENT PASSES BUDGET. The National Assembly passed the draft state budget for 1997 on 11 January, ITAR-TASS and Radio Rossii reported. The budget sets expenditures at 43.3 trillion Belarusian rubles (BR) and revenues at 35.8 trillion BR. The deficit is equivalent to 3.3% of GDP. The majority of the deficit will be covered by issues of government securities, privatization of state property, and foreign loans. The rest of the deficit will be covered with loans from the National Bank of Belarus. The budget was described by deputies as "socially-oriented," with 55% of expenditures going to the social and cultural spheres. Eight percent of the budget will be used to deal with the ongoing consequences of the Chornobyl disaster. The agricultural sector is to receive the lion's share of "social" expenditures, with over half of all funds earmarked for that purpose going to support agriculture. -- Ustina Markus LATVIAN PRIME MINISTER VISITS LITHUANIA. Andris Skele made an unofficial one-day trip to Lithuania on 10 January to establish personal contacts with Prime Minister Gediminas Vagnorius and Seimas Chairman Vytautas Landsbergis, Radio Lithuania reported. Their talks touched upon security issues, NATO and EU enlargement, the implementation of the Baltic free trade agreement on farm goods that came into effect at the beginning of 1997, and the planned Baltic customs union. The leaders, however, did not discuss the most important dispute between the two countries: the demarcation of the sea border. In 1995, Latvia signed oil exploration agreements with U.S. and Swedish companies in an area claimed by both countries, but no work can be carried out on the project until the border dispute is settled. -- Saulius Girnius RUSSIA WANTS TO BUY FORMER NAVAL BASE IN LATVIA. The president of the Russian Union of Industrialists and Entrepreneurs, Arkadii Volskii, said on 10 January that Russia is continuing talks with Latvia on the purchase of the former naval base at Liepaja, AFP reported the next day. Formerly the largest Russian naval base on the Baltic Sea, it was abandoned in 1994 when Russian troops withdrew from Latvia. -- Saulius Girnius UNDP, FINLAND TO FINANCE ESTONIAN PASSPORT REGISTRATION. The UN Development Program and Finland agreed on 10 January to give about 11 million krooni ($0.9 million) in aid to the Estonian Citizenship and Migration Department to pay for the establishment of a central passport registry, ETA reported. The program aims to supply all Estonian passports with a machine-readable code and a registry for checking passport data. The registry, which is expected to be ready by 1 May, is one of the main requirements Finland had set for establishing visa-free travel between the two countries. -- Saulius Girnius NEW PARTY CREATED IN POLAND. The Conservative-People's Party (SKL)-- uniting the People's-Christian Party (SLCh) led by Artur Balazs and the Conservative Party (PK) led by Aleksander Hall--was created on 12 January in Warsaw. A group of politicians who recently left the Freedom Union (UW), led by former ministers Jan Maria Rokita and Bronislaw Komorowski, have joined the new political formation. Former Agriculture Minister Jacek Janiszewski, formerly from the SLCh, became the SKL president, while Rokita and Miroslaw Styczen, who was formerly from the PK, are his deputies, Komorowski is the SKL general secretary, while Hall heads the SKL Political Council. The SKL wants to join Solidarity Electoral Action (SAW), a large coalition led by the Solidarity trade union. SAW leader Marian Krzaklewski and politicians linked to former President Lech Walesa attended the unification congress as guests. -- Jakub Karpinski CZECH REPUBLIC, POLAND TO COORDINATE POLICIES. Polish Prime Minister Wlodzimierz Cimoszewicz ended a two-day official visit to Prague on 10 January, Czech media reported. He and his Czech counterpart, Vaclav Klaus, discussed cooperation in a variety of fields and agreed to coordinate the two countries' purchases of foreign military planes and other equipment. Cimoszewicz said that within a few months--ahead of the EU's Madrid summit in July--the two countries are planning to come up with a joint initiative concerning their admission to NATO and the EU. -- Jiri Pehe CHARTER 77 CELEBRATES 20TH ANNIVERSARY. Charter 77, the former Czechoslovak dissident movement, on 10 January commemorated the 20th anniversary of its founding with a series of events in Prague. Czech President Vaclav Havel, one of the first three spokesmen of Charter 77, told a gathering of former signatories that "the [Czech] state no longer denies human rights to its citizens but human rights are still being occasionally violated." He called for vigilance. Nobel Prize laureates and other important personalities addressed a conference called "The Legacy of Charter 77" held the same day. -- Jiri Pehe SLOVAK PRIME MINISTER: NO CRISIS IN 1998. Vladimir Meciar rejected the possibility of a constitutional crisis following the expiration of President Michal Kovac's term in office in 1998, saying the cabinet would assume some presidential powers if no new president is elected, Slovak Radio reported on 10 January. He added if the current parliament is unable to agree on a new president, the task will fall to the next parliament, scheduled to be elected in 1998. Meciar said the next parliamentary election should be held in June 1998, three months after the end of Kovac's term. The Slovak Constitution states that a president must be elected with the support of at least 90 of parliament's 150 deputies. Meciar also rejected the current electoral system, saying he would prefer either a majority system or a combination of majority and proportional systems. -- Anna Siskova HUNGARIAN CABINET CALLS ON BELGRADE TO RESPECT LOCAL ELECTION RESULTS. The Hungarian government on 12 January expressed concern at recent developments in Belgrade, Hungarian dailies reported. The government expects Serbian leaders to find a democratic and peaceful resolution to the crisis over the recognition of the opposition's local election victories. The cabinet also said that the Serbian government should fully and unconditionally implement the OSCE's recommendations. In other news, Sandor Lezsak, president of the Hungarian Democratic Forum, addressed an opposition rally in Belgrade on 11 January. Lezsak said the recent developments in Serbia and Bulgaria amount to a new anti- Communist revolution. -- Zsofia Szilagyi SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE PROTESTS IN BULGARIA MOUNT . . . Demonstrations against the governing Bulgarian Socialist Party (BSP) continued over the weekend in Sofia, Bulgarian and Western media reported. On 10 January, protesters blocked the parliament building. Some stormed the building, causing 700 million leva ($1.1 million) worth of damage and preventing more than 100 deputies -- mainly from the BSP -- from leaving. The parliamentary opposition had previously staged a walk-out after the wording of its "Declaration on Bulgaria's Salvation" was rejected by the Socialist majority. Riot police broke up the blockade. Around 100 protesters and police officers were injured. On 11 January, protests continued on a smaller scale, but the largest demonstration so far was held in Sofia on 12 January. AFP estimated the number of protesters at 50,000, while RFE/RL put it at 150,000-200,000. Protests are expected to continue. Meanwhile, the Confederation of Labor Podkrepa called a nationwide strike on 15 January. -- Stefan Krause . . . AS POLITICIANS WRANGLE OVER POSSIBLE SOLUTION. Outgoing President Zhelyu Zhelev on 10 January said he will not give the BSP a mandate to form a new government, saying the current political situation makes that impossible, RFE/RL reported. The next day, he called for early parliamentary elections on state TV. President-elect Petar Stoyanov and the BSP prime minister-designate, Interior Minister Nikolay Dobrev, met on 11 January and agreed that the government and opposition should hold talks to resolve the crisis. Stoyanov called for early elections. Meanwhile, the BSP insisted that Dobrev be given a mandate to form a new government. BSP Chairman Georgi Parvanov on 12 January said talks with the opposition on early elections can start anytime, but he said he expects the BSP to stay in power for at least another year to "stabilize" Bulgaria. Also on 12 January, parliamentary speaker Blagovest Sendov -- elected on the BSP ticket -- said that early elections are necessary in his "personal opinion." -- Stefan Krause GREEK FOREIGN MINISTER IN BELGRADE. Theodoros Pangalos held meetings on 12 January with both the Serbian authorities and leaders of the opposition Zajedno coalition but failed to make any progress on a solution to the crisis gripping the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia (FRY), Radio B-92 reported. He did, however, say that the Belgrade regime should recognize the opposition's 17 November victories in the local elections. Pangalos, who described Serbia as "a loyal and real friend," also expressed concern that the FRY may be heading for international isolation once again. Pangalos also met with the head of the Orthodox Church, Patriarch Pavle. Meanwhile, mass demonstrations against the regime of Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic continued on 12 January despite the continuing presence of heavily armed riot police. -- Stan Markotich CONTACT GROUP WARNS SERBIA. The five-member International Contact Group met in Brussels on 11 January, but this time its attention was centered more on Serbia than on Bosnia, international media reported. The session called for greater democratization in the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, including recognition of the 17 November local election results and promotion of independent media. The representatives of the U.S., U.K., France, Germany, and Russia nonetheless agreed not to pursue fresh sanctions against Belgrade. U.S. Assistant Secretary of State John Kornblum, however, said that Washington has a program to increase pressure on Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic, Nasa Borba reported on 13 January. Measures include freezing bilateral economic relations; maintaining international political pressure; and promoting democracy and a civil society within Serbia, including human rights in Kosovo. -- Patrick Moore HIGH OFFICIAL SAYS SERBIAN ECONOMY TEETERING ON COLLAPSE. Carl Bildt, the international High Representative to Bosnia, on 12 January said the Serbian economy remains in tatters and is showing signs of further disintegration. Bildt, speaking at an economic policy conference in Sarajevo, was joined by other officials in warning the Bosnian Serbs that they also face the prospect of near total economic ruin if they remain steadfast in their resolve to maintain and solidify economic links with Belgrade. For his part, David Lipton, assistant secretary of the U.S. treasury, told the gathering that "For those of you representing [the Republika Srpska] -- if you maintain a link to the economy of Serbia as your principle economic link-- you will inevitably follow Serbia downwards through the economic valley, the valley of despair and isolation," Reuters reported. -- Stan Markotich BLUNT WORDS FOR BOSNIA. Representatives of the international community on 12 January said in Sarajevo that the Bosnians must get their government functioning and start serious economic reforms or there will be no international donors' conference in March. Envoys said that donors want proof that the Bosnians have made real progress in, among other things, adopting laws on a single central bank, a single currency, a 1997 budget, and servicing the foreign debt, Reuters reported. The diplomats added that donors are interested in helping to sustain long- term recovery but not in financing short-term aid projects. Meanwhile, federal Agriculture Minister Ahmed Smajic told Oslobodjenje that the economy is functioning at only 10 to 15% of its prewar level. -- Patrick Moore CROATIAN PRESIDENT REAPPEARS. Franjo Tudjman was shown on state-run television on 10 January for the first time since New Year's, news agencies reported. He appeared thin but robust and looking fit. The failure of the usually publicity-conscious leader to appear in public for several days led to renewed speculation at home and abroad regarding his health, and some observers suggested that he has only months to live (see OMRI Daily Digest, 9 January 1997). His own office had meanwhile added to the confusion by failing to issue an unambiguous message that the president is indeed healthy and instead put out statements that could be interpreted in different ways. But on 13 January the official media carried a new statement from his office, which said that: "President Tudjman is pleased to inform the public that his recovery is going well and that he is carrying out all his presidential duties. With the will of the people and God, he will be able to continue carrying them on for a long time." -- Patrick Moore RE-ELECTED SLOVENIAN PRIME MINISTER ON POLITICAL FUTURE. Janez Drnovsek, the leader of the center-left Liberal Democratic Party (LDS), said on 10 January that he would likely approach the conservative People's Party in his search for allies in a new coalition government, STA reported. Drnovsek, who has 15 days to unveil a new government lineup, was re- elected prime minister by a margin of 46-44 votes on 9 January. The 10 November parliamentary elections gave no single party a clear mandate. Meanwhile, police on 10 January opened an inquiry into allegations that the LDS had attempted to "buy" opposition votes for Drnovsek. Drnovsek on 10 January dubbed the allegations groundless. -- Stan Markotich DID THE LIBERATION ARMY OF KOSOVO KILL THE FIRST ALBANIAN? Maliq Sheholi, an ethnic Albanian member of the ruling Serbian Socialist Party (SPS), was shot by unidentified assailants in Podujevo, Reuters reported on 10 January. Sheholi was a member of the local city council. No organization has claimed responsibility for the killing, but the notorious Kosovo Liberation Army, which has been accused of killing nine Serbs in 1996, threatened last October to kill Albanian collaborators with the Serbian regime. -- Fabian Schmidt CONTROVERSIAL MINERS' LEADER ARRESTED IN ROMANIA. Miron Cozma, the leader of the miners' trade union in the Jiu Valley, was arrested on 10 January at the Prosecutor General's Office in Bucharest, Romanian and Western media reported. He was detained on a 30-day warrant on various charges, including "undermining state authority" and breaking firearms regulations. Cozma, who led thousands of miners in violent marches on Bucharest in 1990 and 1991, could face up to 15 years in jail. The last miners' rampage, in September 1991, forced Prime Minister Petre Roman to resign and left several people dead and dozens injured. Former President Ion Iliescu, who has been accused of summoning the miners to Bucharest, described Cozma's detention as politically motivated. Incumbent President Emil Constantinescu, however, on 12 January rejected a plea by miners' representatives to intervene on Cozma's behalf and said he would use his powers to prevent violence. -- Dan Ionescu DNIESTER PRESIDENT SWORN IN FOR SECOND TERM. Igor Smirnov, the president of the self-declared "Dniester Moldovan Republic," was inaugurated for a second term on 10 January, BASA-press reported. Smirnov, who was congratulated by Tiraspol officials and blessed by the local Orthodox bishop, stated at the ceremony that the creation of the secessionist republic has made it more difficult for "Romania to incorporate Moldova." He stressed that the future relationship between Chisinau and Tiraspol should be based on treaties and that Moldova should "view the Dniester region as a [separate] state." The special session of the Supreme Soviet was attended by deputies of the Russian State Duma. Smirnov was re-elected president with 71% of the votes on 22 December. -- Dan Ionescu ALBANIA PROTESTS EXPULSIONS FROM GREECE. Albania has protested against Greece's recent expulsions of Albanian emigrants. Hundreds of Albanians have been deported from Greece in a crackdown on illegal immigration following a series of burglaries in an Athens suburb that have been blamed on Albanian crime rings, Reuters reported on 10 January. Police at the Kakavie border checkpoint said the number of expelled Albanians has increased three-fold in recent days, reaching up to 300 a day, with most of the deportees coming from Athens. Greece has, however, pledged to issue working permits to most of the estimated 350,000 illegal Albanian immigrants living in the country. -- Fabian Schmidt [As of 12:00 CET] Compiled by Victor Gomez ------------------------------------------------------------------------ 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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