|When in doubt, tell the truth. - Mark Twain|
No. 9, Part II, 14 January 1997
OMRI DAILY DIGEST No. 9, Part II, 14 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 BELARUSIAN SPECIAL STATUS IN COUNCIL OF EUROPE SUSPENDED. The Council of Europe suspended Belarus's special guest status in the organization on 13 January, international agencies reported. Council President Leni Fischer said the new Belarusian constitution does not respect human rights. The pan-European body is geared toward promoting democracy and human rights. Fischer added that the council cannot recognize the new Belarusian parliament, which was not elected under the new constitution but formed on the basis of the deputies' loyalty to the president. As Belarus has become more alienated from the West and its East European neighbors, Belarusian President Alyaksandr Lukashenka has been pushing for tighter ties with Russia. -- Ustina Markus BELARUSIAN UPPER HOUSE MEETS. The Council of the Republic met for the first time on 13 January, ITAR-TASS and NTV reported. The new body consists of 64 senators--eight from each of the six regions as well as Minsk with the remaining eight appointed by President Alyaksandr Lukashenka. So far, 58 senators have been elected. During the session, deputies unanimously elected Paval Shypuk to head the new chamber. Lukashenka said the role of the new upper house is to review laws drafted by the lower house rather than to draft them. He added that the parliament should busy itself with bringing Belarus's legislation into line with Russia's to facilitate integration (see "Yeltsin Proposes Referendum on Merger With Belarus," in Russian section) . -- Ustina Markus UKRAINIAN PRESIDENT MEETS SACHS, WIFE IN CRIMEA. Leonid Kuchma met with the U.S. economist and architect of Poland's economic reforms, Jeffrey Sachs, Ukrainian Radio reported on 13 January. Sachs noted that foreign investment in Ukraine has been low and said the parliament must pass a new budget based on a reformed tax system in order to attract more investment. He also said the National Bank of Ukraine must continue with its tight monetary policy. The same day, the president's wife, Lyudmilla Mykolaivna, visited children's homes in Simferopol, Sevastopol, and Yalta to familiarize herself with the conditions there. She donated vitamins worth $2,000 to local pharmacies. -- Ustina Markus ENERGY SITUATION IN UKRAINE. Energy Minister Yurii Bochkarov made a special appeal to the Ukrainian public on 13 January, Ukrainian Radio reported. He warned that energy supplies are at a critical level and called on everyone to lower their consumption of energy by 20%. The energy production potential of the Dnipropetrovsh hydroelectric station, which supplies water to one-third of Ukraine's territory, has been almost completely used up. Bochakov said one of the biggest problems has been the indebtedness of consumers. Ukrainians owe 2.5-2.7 billion hryvnyas ($1.4 billion) for energy, and Bochakov warned that those who do not pay will not receive energy supplies. -- Ustina Markus CRIME IN BALTIC STATES IN 1996. The number of crimes in Lithuania in 1996 increased by 11.9% compared with the previous year but fell by 2.4% in Latvia and 10.5% in Estonia, ELTA reported on 13 January. Estonia, however, had the highest per capita crime rate with 239.9 crimes per 10,000 population, while Lithuania and Latvia had rates of 183.3 and 151.8, respectively. The crime-resolution rate in Estonia was only 32.5%, while it was 41.3% in Lithuania and 44.2% in Latvia. -- Saulius Girnius NORWEGIAN FOREIGN MINISTER VISITS LATVIA. Bjorn Tore Godal held talks with Prime Minister Andris Skele, Foreign Minister Valdis Birkavs, Saeima Chairman Alfreds Cepanis, and other officials in Riga on 13 January, BNS reported. He stressed that NATO and the EU should start membership talks with the Baltic states simultaneously and that Scandinavia is not distinguishing between the three countries. He criticized attempts to give any of them precedence in membership, describing efforts to see Lithuania as closer to Central and Eastern Europe and Estonia as almost a part of Finland as "rubbish." Godal noted that Europe cannot have a common security system without the involvement of Russia, but he added that Russia does not have a right to veto NATO enlargement. -- Saulius Girnius ROMANIAN PRESIDENT IN POLAND. Emil Constantinescu and his Polish counterpart, Aleksander Kwasniewski, agreed in Poland on 13 January that their two countries would boost economic and political relations and cooperate in their efforts to join the EU and NATO, international agencies reported. Kwasniewski said experts from both countries would meet to work out concrete measures. He also promised that Poland would back Romania's efforts to join the Central European Free Trade Agreement. Both presidents said that Ukraine has a special role in their foreign policies. It is Constantinescu's first official trip abroad since his election in November last year. -- Jakub Karpinski POLISH CONSTITUTIONAL UPDATE. Representatives of the four biggest party caucuses in the Sejm--the Democratic Left Alliance, Polish Peasant Party, the Freedom Union, and the Labor Union--on 13 January met for the third time to discuss the draft constitution. Former Prime Minister Tadeusz Mazowiecki (UW) said they were in such agreement "on the basic problems" and "the rest can be discussed at the meeting of the Constitutional Commission." Some controversies remain: whether to introduce a three-tier territorial administration or stick with the current two-level version; whether a so-called "social rights" provision should be included that would guarantee housing, education, and health care for all citizens; how many votes it would take in the Sejm to override a presidential veto; what categories of Constitutional Tribunal decisions are final. The Constitutional Commission will meet on 15 January. -- Jakub Karpinski YAVLINSKII IN PRAGUE. Grigorii Yavlinskii, chairman of Russia's Yabloko political faction and a recent presidential candidate, said at a seminar organized by a private foundation in Prague that Russia has natural and economic resources but lacks experience with democracy, Czech media reported. Yavlinskii emphasized that 1996 was an important year in Russia's history because "it was the first time that 75% of people took part in democratic presidential and parliamentary elections." According to Yavlinskii, no country, including Russia, has a right to lecture other countries on who should become a NATO member. But he warned that NATO's expansion would worsen the domestic political situation in Russia and could lead to the collapse of Russian foreign policy as it has developed over the last five years. -- Jiri Pehe SLOVAK PRIME MINISTER CALLS FOR NATO REFERENDUM. Slovak Prime Minister Vladimir Meciar has confirmed his view that a referendum must be held on Slovakia's membership in NATO, TASR and CTK reported on 13 January. In interview for Slovak Radio, Meciar stressed that the government will discuss the issue at a 14 January meeting. Meciar said the referendum campaign should last three months and said experts from various countries, including the U.S. and Russia, would be invited to participate in the campaign. Opposition Christian Democratic Movement Chairman Jan Carnogursky said Slovakia should exercise restraint in its attempt to join NATO in order to buy time for maneuvering between East and West. -- Anna Siskova SLOVAK RULING PARTY REJECTS REFERENDUM ON PRESIDENTIAL ELECTIONS. The governing Movement for Democratic Slovakia (HZDS) called on its supporters and members to not support the referendum on direct presidential elections, which is being organized by the opposition parties, CTK reported on 14 January. In a statement, the HZDS accused the opposition of "demagogy" and unconstitutional maneuvering. Slovak President Michal Kovac signed a parliamentary petition to hold a referendum on 13 January. Kovac said he is not interested in running for another term as president. -- Anna Siskova HUNGARIAN PRIME MINISTER CRITICIZES SERB, BULGARIAN HARDLINE SOCIALISTS. Gyula Horn on 13 January fiercely criticized the Belgrade and Sofia governments, blaming the current wave of mass unrest on the fact that the two Socialist governments have delayed democratic reforms. He noted that while his Hungarian Socialist Party has been accepted into the worldwide Socialist International, the Serbian and Bulgarian Socialist parties have not. Horn's remarks follow a 12 January government statement voicing concern over recent developments in Serbia and a Hungarian deputy's speech that was critical of Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic at an opposition rally in Belgrade. -- Zsofia Szilagyi SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE NEW DEMONSTRATIONS, UPCOMING GENERAL STRIKE IN BULGARIA. Between 30,000 and 100,000 people took to the streets in Sofia on 13 January to support opposition demands for early elections, Bulgarian media and AFP reported. Their rally was preceded by a student's demonstration that passed by the embassies of Italy, Austria, and the U.S. The students handed out appeals to the diplomats asking them not to support a new Bulgarian Socialist Party (BSP) government. "We don't want to fill the immigration lists of your countries," students said in the appeal. Meanwhile, the Confederation of Labor "Podkrepa" announced that it had scheduled a nationwide strike for 15 January. Members of the "Promyana" alliance have already started striking in the Burgas and Varna harbors and in Bulgaria's largest fuel plant, Neftohim Burgas. The Confederation of Independent Trade Unions in Bulgaria was the last major union to join the general strike. All striking activities will be coordinated by the opposition. -- Maria Koinova in Sofia BULGARIAN SOCIALISTS AGREE "IN PRINCIPLE" TO EARLY ELECTIONS. The BSP Executive Bureau on 13 January "agreed in principle to the idea of holding early parliamentary elections in the context of the implementation of a national anti-crisis program," Bulgarian and Western media reported. The Socialists said they are ready to start talks with the opposition on early elections and on the "character and composition" of a new government which they insist must be led by the BSP. The BSP said its premier-designate, Interior Minister Nikolay Dobrev, is non- negotiable. BSP leaders also said that early elections should not be held before the end of the year. The Union of Democratic Forces (SDS) leadership will meet on 14 January to discuss the offer. SDS Chairman Ivan Kostov accused the Socialists of tactical delays since only the BSP Supreme Council--rather than Executive Bureau--is authorized to make a final decision on the issues at stake. -- Stefan Krause BELGRADE MASS PROTEST USHERS IN NEW YEAR. Demonstrators gathered in Belgrade for one of the largest protest marches so far on 13 January as the country celebrated the Christian Orthodox New Year's Eve, Nasa Borba reported. According to some estimates, as many as 500,000 demonstrators flooded into Belgrade's streets to protest against the regime of Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic and to demand that the authorities recognize opposition victories in the 17 November runoff of the municipal elections. Riot police, who had assumed a high public profile in recent weeks, remained for the most part in their barracks, international media reported. Mass demonstrations also took place in other cities across Serbia, marking the 55th consecutive day of the ongoing protest. -- Stan Markotich IS SERBIA'S PRESIDENT SINCERE ABOUT MAKING CONCESSIONS? According to a 14 January report in Dnevni Telegraf, Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic is preparing to recognize the Zajedno opposition coalition's electoral victories in 13 municipalities. He is not expected, however, to make concessions on the Belgrade Municipal Assembly but may recognize opposition wins in a handful of Belgrade's municipal districts. The newspaper speculates that Milosevic may attempt such a move as a way of putting a stop to the ongoing mass demonstrations across Serbia. It would also provide him with a pretext for resorting to force should the demonstrations continue. -- Stan Markotich BOSNIAN FEDERAL ARMY TAKES SHAPE. The planned structure of the new mainly Croatian and Muslim joint army was announced in Sarajevo on 13 January, two days after presidency members Kresimir Zubak and Alija Izetbegovic signed an agreement. The new force will include 14 brigades divided among four corps--three [Muslim] and one Croat--plus two rapid- reaction battalions. There will also be a combined artillery division and other combined units for air-defense, logistics, training, and helicopters, AFP reported. The two nominal allies fought a brief but vicious war in 1993, which was ended only thanks to vigorous U.S. political and economic pressure on both sides. A major problem has subsequently been to overcome mutual mistrust and local power interests in order to make the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina a reality. Nowhere has real cooperation proven more difficult than in military and police affairs. -- Patrick Moore BRITAIN WARNS BOSNIA ON RECONSTRUCTION AID. U.K. Defense Minister Michael Portillo said in Banja Luka on 12 January that aid will be contingent on the implementation of the Dayton agreement, Onasa wrote. He added that war criminals must be brought to justice if a lasting peace is to take root but pointed out that the present peace is no guarantee that war will not break out again some months hence. In contrast to many Western official visitors to the region, he spoke bluntly and refused to paint a rosy picture: "Despite political progress, I don't think there is much progress in reconciliation... There is precious little sign of the population wishing to tolerate each other." The following day, Portillo warned that SFOR's mandate will not be extended after it runs out in mid-1998. He added that all sides should now concentrate on restoring basis infrastructure links. -- Patrick Moore SLAVONIAN UPDATE. Bosnian Prime Minister Haris Silajdzic, a Muslim, warned against attempts to resettle ethnic Serbs from eastern Slavonia into Bosnia when eastern Slavonia returns to Croatian control this summer. He said that such a migration would endanger peace in Bosnia, Oslobodjenje on 11 January quoted him as saying. U.S. Ambassador to Croatia Peter Galbraith meanwhile told eastern Slavonian Serbs that the Croatian army will be stationed in Vukovar and elsewhere in the area after Croatian officials return on 17 July, Vecernji list reported. The international community has been urging the Serbs to stay put, but they have been seeking guarantees that go beyond existing agreements as a prerequisite to do so. Croatian authorities on 13 January presented a document to the UN outlining future rights for the Serbs, which the UN administrator Jacques Klein said was very positive and does indeed go well beyond existing agreements, AFP reported. -- Patrick Moore KOSOVO LIBERATION ARMY CLAIMS RESPONSIBILITY FOR KILLING ALBANIAN. The secretive Kosovo Liberation Army (UCK) has claimed responsibility for the 9 January killing of Maliq Sheholli, international agencies reported on 13 January. Sheholli was a member of Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic's Socialist Party of Serbia and a member of the Podujevo City Council. The UCK said in a statement that the killing "is a warning to all other collaborators and national traitors." The group called the murder an "execution," adding it had warned Sheholli to "stop cooperating with enemies." The group killed eight Serbs and one ethnic Albanian police officer last year. -- Fabian Schmidt CONSERVATIVE LEADER OPEN TO COOPERATION WITH SLOVENIAN PRIME MINISTER. Slovenian People's Party leader Marjan Podobnik 13 January said he is considering the idea of joining a coalition led by Liberal Democratic Party leader Janez Drnovsek, who was recently re-elected prime minister. "We support a government of national unity in which all or most parliamentary parties would be included," Reuters quoted Podobnik as saying. Podobnik, whose party controls 19 of the parliament's 90 seats, had previously ruled out any cooperation with the legislature's 25 Liberal Democrats. The parliamentary elections were held on 10 November 1996. -- Stan Markotich TENSION IN ROMANIA'S RULING COALITION. Constantin Ticu Dumitrescu, head of the Former Political Detainees' Association which is affiliated to the coalition party Democratic Convention of Romania (CDR), suggested on 13 January that Senate Chairman Petre Roman, the head of the coalition party Social Democratic Union (USD), shares responsibility with former President Ion Iliescu for the miners' violent marches on Bucharest in 1990, Romanian media reported. Ion Diaconescu, chairman of the National Peasant Party Christian Democratic, said it was "natural" that Roman, who was prime minister at the time, had to be "on Iliescu's side." Another CDR member, Romania's Alternative Party, proposed the creation of a technical secretariat to prevent future "misunderstandings" between the CDR and USD. Meanwhile, the CDR might exclude the National Liberal Party-Democratic Convention, because its chairman, lawyer Niculae Cerveni, took over the defense in corruption cases. -- Dan Ionescu ROMANIAN NATIONALISTS OPPOSE HUNGARIAN CONSULATE IN CLUJ. The Local Council of Cluj on 13 January issued a statement calling the decision to reopen a Hungarian consulate there as "unwelcome and lacking any pragmatic basis," Radio Bucharest reported. Cluj Mayor Gheorghe Funar, who heads the extremist Party of Romanian National Unity, said that he would use all democratic means to fight against what he described as an "irresponsible" decision. The government coalition councilors walked out of the extraordinary council meeting in protest. The council's statement came after news that Foreign Minister Adrian Severin had agreed to the consulate's reopening during a visit to Budapest in late December. Last week, all parliamentary opposition parties objected to the reopening. The consulate was closed down in 1988 under Nicolae Ceausescu. -- Zsolt Mato ALBANIAN GOVERNMENT GIVES IN TO STUDENTS' DEMANDS. The Albanian government has responded to a student strike that began on 6 January by pledging to take a series of measures to improve the living and working conditions of university students. The Independent Students Union has called of the strike, Republika reported on 13 January. The government will establish a special governmental body to look after the students' problems, the students will be allowed to administer cultural and sports facilities at their campus, and living conditions at the dormitories will be improved. Talks with the government are scheduled for 14 January and will focus on questions of financial support for students and a shorter compulsory military duty. The government had already allocated special funds in the 1997 budget to improve living and teaching conditions for students, international agencies reported. -- Fabian Schmidt [As of 12:00 CET] Compiled by Victor Gomez ------------------------------------------------------------------------ Copyright (c) 1997 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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