|Every custom was once an eccentricity; every idea was once an absurdity. - Holbrook Jackson|
No. 30, Part I, 12 February 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 ************************************************************************ In the 21 February issue of OMRI's journal, TRANSITION: DISSIDENTS -- THEN AND NOW - Reshaping Dissident Ideals for Post-Communist Times - How Rude pravo 'Helped' Get Charter 77 off the Ground - In Poland, A Long-Standing Tradition of Resistance PLUS... - CENTRAL ASIA: The Gordian Knot of Energy - BOSNIA-HERZEGOVINA: Janusz Bugajski on Stabilizing Partition with SFOR - VIEWPOINT: Vladimir Shlapentokh on Creating 'The Russian Dream' After Chechnya For subscription information about OMRI's new monthly, send an e-mail message to firstname.lastname@example.org ************************************************************************ CENTRAL AND EASTERN EUROPE FOREIGN LOANS KEEP UKRAINIAN ECONOMY AFLOAT. Deputy Finance Minister Serhei Matsakaria told the parliament on 11 February that, as of the beginning of 1997, Ukraine had received $3.5 billion in foreign loans, international media reported. About $2.2 billion came from the IMF-- which is Ukraine's largest donor, followed by the EBRD and the World Bank. Matsakaria said the loans had helped last year to stabilize Ukraine's new national currency, the hryvnya, and to reduce inflation. Ukraine's foreign debt totals some $9 billion, of which $4 billion is owed to Russia and Turkmenistan. Meanwhile, the German embassy in Kyiv has announced that all German public humanitarian organizations have stopped delivering aid to Ukraine in response to the Ukrainian law banning the duty-free import of humanitarian aid. -- Oleg Varfolomeyev UKRAINE TO UNILATERALLY DELIMIT BORDER WITH RUSSIA? A Ukrainian Foreign Ministry official has warned that Ukraine might take unilateral steps in delimiting the Ukrainian-Russian border, ITAR-TASS reported on 11 February. He claimed that Russia was dragging its feet over bilateral talks on border delimitation because of the uncertain fate of the Black Sea Fleet and the status of Sevastopol. He also noted that Ukraine has solved the problem of demarcating borders with its other close neighbors--Belarus and Moldova. -- Oleg Varfolomeyev BELARUS PRESIDENT BLAMES GOVERNMENT FOR INFLATION . . . Alyaksandr Lukashenka on 11 February blamed the government for the recent increase in inflation, Reuters reported. The Belarusian president has issued a decree providing for a 2% increase in inflation in 1997; in January, however, inflation stood at 13.3%. Economists say the increase is partly due to price liberalization and the 40% rise in wages and pensions since December. They also point to the government's monetary policies and recommend that Lukashenka free currency exchange rates, which are currently fixed at 20,050 Belarusian rubles to $1 (well below the rate in Moscow). Acting Prime Minister Syarhey Linh promised to keep inflation under control by regulating prices in the energy, transport, and "communal services" sectors. -- Sergei Solodovnikov . . . AND SAYS HE WANTS SWEDISH-STYLE SOCIALISM. In an interview with a Lithuanian journalist on 11 January, Lukashenka confirmed his intention to pursue a "multi-vectorial" foreign policy, ITAR-TASS reported. He stressed that relations with Russia will remain top priority and will be built on principles similar to those of the European Union. Belarus is striving for integration that will not entail loss of sovereignty, he added. Relations with Germany, Poland, and the Baltic countries will also be important. With regard to socio-economic policy, Lukashenka said that he wants Belarus to have the same kind of socialism as in Sweden. -- Sergei Solodovnikov ESTONIAN PREMIER SEEKS TO EXPAND RULING COALITION. Tiit Vahi on 11 February announced that he has launched talks to expand his current minority government coalition, ETA reported. He said the coalition-- composed of the Coalition Party and a bloc of farmers' parties--could find backing among right-wing parties, but he did not name any party. He added that he would be willing to resign when the parliamentary parties can agree on a more suitable candidate. His decision seems to have been prompted by the narrow margin with which he escaped a no confidence motion the preivious day. -- Saulius Girnius NEW PROGRAM FOR LATVIAN GOVERNMENT. Prime Minister-designate Andris Skele and the leaders of six political parties have signed a draft program for the new government, BNS reported on 11 February. The program was proposed by Skele and modified by the signatory parties. It retains the provision that if a minister resigns, his party is granted priority in choosing a replacement. However, no agreement was reached on how the various ministries are to be divided between the political parties. A major bone of contention was reported to be the justice portfolio. -- Saulius Girnius ROCKY RELATIONS BETWEEN LITHUANIAN PARLIAMENT, PRESIDENT? President Algirdas Brazauskas on 10 February said he would not submit Prosecutor- General Vladas Nikitinas's resignation to the Seimas (see OMRI Daily Digest, 21 January 1997), Radio Lithuania reported. That decision will anger the ruling coalition of Conservatives and Christian Democrats, which had called for Nikitinas's ouster. It will also likely expedite the passage of a law allowing the justice minister, rather than the president, to nominate the prosecutor-general. However, the Conservatives accepted Brazauskas's recommendations on the law reorganizing the Genocide of Lithuania's Population and Resistance Center, which he had previously refused to sign. -- Saulius Girnius POLAND TO CRACK DOWN ON DRUGS. Marek Papala, the new chief of the Polish police, has announced that a special 400-strong narcotics bureau will start operating in March, international media reported on 12 February. The bureau is to fight drug-related crime by stamping out international drug trafficking routes across Polish territory, closing down laboratories that manufacture amphetamines (of which Poland is Europe's main source), and coordinating the activities of other state institutions involved in combating crime. The police are also lobbying for legal measures penalizing drug ownership. Moreover, a special unit may be created to fight child abuse and trading in women for prostitution, Papala said. Last year, 97 cases of cross-border drug smuggling were registered, compared with 69 in 1995. Officially registered drug addicts total 20,000, compared with 14,000 in 1990. -- Beata Pasek CZECH PARLIAMENT BEGINS DISCUSSING CZECH-GERMAN DECLARATION. A majority of deputies on 11 February voted in favor of the ruling coalition's proposal to start discussing the Czech-German declaration immediately rather than toward the end of the current parliamentary session, Czech media reported. Earlier that day, the parliamentary caucus of Prime Minister Vaclav Klaus's Civic Democratic Party (ODS) rejected an agreement between Klaus and opposition Social Democratic Chairman Milos Zeman that the parliament adopt an accompanying statement to the declaration. The ODS's coalition allies had previously ruled out such a possibility. As expected, deputies of the extreme-right Republican Party tried to obstruct the parliamentary debate on the declaration by holding lengthy speeches. -- Jiri Pehe SLOVAK PARLIAMENT REJECTS PENAL CODE AMENDMENT. Opposition deputies on 11 February cheered the parliament's failure to approve the penal code amendment on the protection of the republic, international media reported. The highly controversial legislation drew sharp criticism when it was first passed last March; the parliament approved a milder version of the amendment in December. But the opposition remained opposed and President Michal Kovac vetoed the second version. The Association of Workers (ZRS)--a junior coalition partner--was split over the issue. Also on 11 February, one left-wing opposition deputy was appointed to the new parliamentary committee overseeing the secret service, while other opposition candidates were rejected. The new committee monitoring military intelligence includes one representative each from the opposition Democratic Union and the leftist coalition. -- Sharon Fisher JUNIOR COALITION PARTNER TO INITIATE TALKS ON EARLY ELECTIONS IN SLOVAKIA. Slovak National Party (SNS) Chairman Jan Slota on 11 February called for coalition talks on early parliamentary elections, CTK reported. The SNS plans to discuss the issue at the next coalition meeting. According to Slota, the balance of power in the parliament between the coalition and opposition is now 50:50, which he sees as a reason for early elections. Slota expressed regret about the parliament's failure to approve the penal code amendment, which he considers a law that could make "order in disordered Slovakia" and could stop Slovaks in southern Slovakia from feeling that they live in Hungary. He also said it was irresponsible of deputies from the ZRS and others to have voted against the amendment. -- Anna Siskova HUNGARIAN RAILROAD PRESIDENT STEPS DOWN AS NEW SCANDAL LOOMS. Sandor Kis Kalnoki, president of the Hungarian State Railroad company MAV, has resigned, Hungarian media reported on 11 February. Kalnoki's resignation comes just ahead of the release of the final results of an investigation into MAV's finances. That investigation was launched late last year by Transport Minister Karoly Lotz. MAV's losses at the end of 1996 stood at 15.7 billion forints ($98.1 million). Kalnoki is reported to have been involved in arranging adverse business deals between a company called Ples and the state railroads. Such deals may have cost MAV as much as 1 billion forints. Meanwhile, opposition leader Jozsef Torgyan told the parliament that MAV incurred losses by buying useless and outdated Romanian freight cars. He also alleged that MAV awarded contracts worth hundreds of millions of forints without issuing a tender. -- Zsofia Szilagyi HUNGARIAN OFFICIAL SAYS SLOVAKIA VIOLATES BASIC TREATY. Foreign Ministry spokesman Gabor Szentivanyi on 11 February said the Slovak government is violating the Hungarian-Slovak basic treaty and international agreements by banning bilingual school reports, Hungarian media reported. Szentivanyi warned that the Hungarian government will appeal to international organizations to protest school reports issued only in Slovak. He also reiterated Foreign Minister Laszlo Kovacs's call for the Slovak parliament to enact a minority language law. -- Zsofia Szilagyi SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE ALBANIAN LOCAL LEGISLATORS DECLINE TO DECLARE STATE OF EMERGENCY. Democratic Party (PD) deputies from the southern city of Vlora have rejected Prime Minister Aleksander Meksi's proposal that a state of emergency rule be imposed there. Former deputy Prime Minister Dashamir Shehi said, "We cannot send troops and tanks into our city..., there is always room for dialogue. This is not solved with truncheons," Reuters reported on 12 February. Meksi said the government backed the local party leaders, and he proposed again a meeting with opposition parties. Socialist Party and Democratic Alliance leaders, Namik Dokle and Neritan Ceka, paid a visit to the family of Artur Rustemi, who was killed on 10 February (see OMRI Daily Digest, 11 February 1997). They also addressed the more than 30,000 mourners at his funeral. Meanwhile, some 10,000 demonstrators rallied in the city center but later dispersed without incident. Police appeared to have abandoned the city, while protesters today are reported to have set up new barricades. -- Fabian Schmidt ALBANIAN OPPOSITION CALLS FOR PEACEFUL PROTESTS. The Forum for Democracy has called for a peaceful demonstration in Tirana today, Gazeta Shqiptare reported. Police on 11 February patrolled the streets of the capital and dispersed crowds. The Socialist Party reiterated their call for a political dialogue with President Sali Berisha, while the Republican Party withdrew from the ruling coalition and called for the government's resignation. Greece has asked the EU to consider sending aid to Albania but has also stepped up border patrols, fearing increased illegal migration, AFP reported. Meanwhile, ATSH reported that Vlora is facing a shortage of food and that prices have increased by 25% there. The city's port has been closed since 5 February. -- Fabian Schmidt SERBIAN PARLIAMENT PASSES LAW ON RECOGNIZING ELECTION WINS. Serbian legislators on 11 February voted to adopt "in principle" a law paving the way for recognition of opposition wins in the November municipal elections, international media reported. Members of the opposition Zajedno coalition have expressed both guarded optimism and skepticism about Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic's intention to honor the law. They stressed that protests against the regime will continue. Democratic Party leader Zoran Djindjic remarked that "the adoption of the bill has solved [only] one problem--[that] of the election theft." Ultranationalist deputies, notably from the Serbian Radical Party (SRS), attempted to stonewall the debate and walked out before the vote. SRS leader and accused war criminal Vojislav Seselj has said he will contest the law's validity in court. -- Stan Markotich SERBIAN GOVERNMENT RESHUFFLE. The Serbian parliament has endorsed changes in the cabinet lineup, Vecernje novosti reported on 12 February. Seven ministers have been dismissed and 13 new ones appointed; of the latter all belong either to the ruling Socialist Party of Serbia or Mirjana Markovic's (wife of President Slobodan Milosevic's) Yugoslav United Left. The most controversial appointment is that of Radmila Milentijevic as information minister. Milentijevic, who has reportedly lived in the U.S. for some 45 years, is a hard-line defender of Milosevic's regime. -- Stan Markotich ILLEGAL EVICTIONS CONTINUE IN MOSTAR. UN police have said that 26 illegal evictions of Muslim families living in the Croat half of Mostar were reported during the night from 10-11 February, according to AFP. The evictions followed clashes between Muslims and Croats that, according to UN sources, resulted in one dead and more than 30 wounded (see OMRI Daily Digest, 11 February 1997). Meanwhile, Bosnian Croat police have set up roadblocks preventing Muslims living in the Croat- controlled districts to return to their homes following visits to their relatives living in the eastern, mostly-Muslim half of Mostar during the Islamic religious holiday of Bajram. UN spokesman Kris Janowski said the Croats were not allowing anyone in and were therefore violating freedom of movement. Meanwhile, Croat media reported a spate of Muslim assaults on Croat motorists on the main highway northeast of town, and said two had gone missing, Reuters reported. Meanwhile, Croatian and Bosnian presidents Franjo Tudjman and Alija Izetbegovic have met to discuss the Mostar crisis, Hina reported. -- Daria Sito Sucic PLANS AFOOT FOR "SNATCH SQUADS" FOR BOSNIA? Pentagon officials on 11 February said that Washington is consulting with its allies on how to bring war criminals to justice but that no firm plans have been made, AFP reported. The previous day, the London Daily Telegraph ran a story claiming that "a series of 'snatch operations' [to catch war criminals]...has reached the detailed planning stage, diplomatic and military sources have disclosed." The article suggested that SFOR would provide support and that all 66 war criminals on the loose would probably be rounded up at once. It also intimated that UN observers would be withdrawn before the operation began and that the force would probably consist of elite British, French, and U.S. units under their own national commands. But the paper, which has close ties to the Foreign Office, hinted that some "senior British sources" are concerned lest the project expose British troops on the ground to retribution. -- Patrick Moore CROATIAN ELECTIONS TO BE POSTPONED? The local vote slated for 16 March seems likely to be put off until 13 April, Slobodna Dalmacija wrote on 12 February. An agreement to that effect appeared to have been reached by President Franjo Tudjman and UN Gen. Jacques Klein early this week. Klein stressed that conditions will not be right in Serb-held eastern Slavonia before then, while the Croats want the elections to go ahead everywhere at the same time in order to emphasize that eastern Slavonia has been reintegrated into Croatia. Some Zagreb opposition party leaders, however, want the elections to take place as soon as possible. They see the delay as a conspiracy between a pro-Serb international community, Serbs anxious to stay free of Croatian control, and a governing party in Croatia that fears defeat at the polls. -- Patrick Moore ROMANIAN SENATE GRANTS FOREIGNERS RIGHT TO OWN LAND. In an attempt to lure foreign investment, the upper house on 11 February passed a law allowing foreign companies to buy land in Romania. The new legislation had been hotly debated both in the parliament and in the media; and the slogan "We won't sell out our country," frequently invoked during the past seven years, was voiced many times. Victor Ciorbea's government is eager to create incentives for foreign investors. To date, direct foreign investment in Romania totals just over $2 billion since 1990. The bill has still to be approved by the lower house, the Chamber of Deputies. -- Zsolt Mato BATURIN ON RUSSIAN TROOPS IN MOLDOVA. Russian Defense Council Secretary Yurii Baturin, on the first day of his visit to Chisinau, said that Russia will withdraw its troops from Moldova's Dniester region when the political conflict there is resolved and not when NATO demands that they be withdrawn, international media reported on 11 February. NATO Secretary-General Javier Solana, visiting the Moldovan capital the previous day, asked Russia to pull out its troops from eastern Moldova in compliance with OSCE recommendations. Solana had met with senior Moldovan officials, including President Petru Lucinschi and Foreign Minister Mihai Popov, to discuss possible NATO enlargement. Baturin's statement is likely to escalate the war of words between Russia and the West over NATO's plans to expand eastward. Meanwhile, the Moldovan Foreign Ministry said there was no connection between Solana's and Baturin's visits. -- Dan Ionescu NEW BULGARIAN CABINET GRANTED WIDE POWERS. The outgoing Socialist government on 11 February conferred sweeping powers on the new caretaker government, despite having balked at the idea previously, Bulgarian dailies reported. The new cabinet has the authority to negotiate with international organizations and leaders in order to deal with the nation's economic crisis, including the serious food shortage. President Petar Stoyanov, who chaired the multiparty proceedings that led to an agreement on the interim government (see OMRI Daily Digest, 11 February 1997), hailed the accord as a major political breakthrough and "a historic and political consensus." The deal has still to be approved by the parliament. In other news, 300 army officers continued their protest over wages. They complain that they have received only a 60% increase, while other state wages have doubled in recent weeks. -- Stan Markotich [As of 12:00 CET] Compiled by Jan Cleave ------------------------------------------------------------------------ Copyright (c) 1997 Open Media Research Institute, Inc. All rights reserved. ISSN 1211-1570 ------------------------------------------------------------------------ SUBSCRIBING/UNSUBSCRIBING 1) Compose a message to email@example.com 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. WWW http://www.omri.cz/Publications/DD/Index.html FTP ftp://FTP.OMRI.CZ/Pub/DailyDigest/ REPRINT POLICY To receive a copy of OMRI's reprint policy, contact OMRIPUB@OMRI.CZ or see the Web page at http://www.omri.cz/Publications/Reprint.html OTHER OMRI PUBLICATIONS TRANSITION OMRI publishes the biweekly journal TRANSITION, which contains expanded analysis of many of the topics in the OMRI Daily Digest. For subscription information send an e-mail to TRANSITION@OMRI.CZ or visit the Transition Web page at http://www.omri.cz/Publications/Transition/Index.html RUSSIAN REGIONAL REPORT The Russian Regional Report is a weekly publication (published every Wednesday) initially focusing on the local elections taking place throughout Russia during the Fall of 1996. After the election season is over, the Russian Regional Report will continue, turning to broader social, political, and economic issues of Russia's regions. To subscribe, please follow these instructions: 1) Compose a message to: MAJORDOMO@OMRI.CZ 2) In the body of the message, write: SUBSCRIBE REGIONS Your Name Fill in your own first and last names where shown 3) Send the message PURSUING BALKAN PEACE Pursuing Balkan Peace contains the latest news about developments in the Republic of Bosnia-Herzegovina and the other countries of Southeastern Europe. Published every Tuesday, it contains both brief news summaries and longer essays on specific events or issues facing the people of the region. To subscribe, please follow these instructions: 1) Compose a message to: MAJORDOMO@OMRI.CZ 2) In the body of the message, write: SUBSCRIBE BALKAN-PEACE Your Name Fill in your own first and last names where shown 3) Send the message RUSSIAN-LANGUAGE TRANSLATION OF THE OMRI DAILY DIGEST The full text of the OMRI Daily Digest is translated into Russian and distributed the following day. 1) Compose a message to: MAJORDOMO@ISF.RU 2) In the body of the message, write: SUBSCRIBE OMRI Your Name Fill in your own name where shown 3) Send the message
write to us
with your comments and suggestions.