|The universe is full of magical things, patiently waiting for our wits to grow sharper. - Eden Phillpotts|
No. 47, Part II, 07 March 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 7 March issue of OMRI's journal, TRANSITION**: BALKAN UNREST - Pyramid Schemes Leave Albania on Shaky Ground - Back to the Basics in Bulgaria - Protests in Serbia Raise Hopes of Reconciliation in Kosovo - In Post-Dayton Balkans, Change Comes Where It's Least Expected PLUS... - RUSSIA: Chernomyrdin: A Prime Minister Without Politics - VIEWPOINT: Azerbaijan: Democracy in a State of Emergency and "Reviving the Black Sea" For subscription information about OMRI's new monthly, send an e-mail message to transition-DD@omri.cz **See important message below on the upcoming changes to TRANSITION ^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^ CENTRAL AND EASTERN EUROPE RUSSIA BLOCKS UKRAINIAN TANK DEAL. Russia reassured India that it would derail Ukraine's $550 million tank deal with Pakistan by refusing to deliver components necessary to complete the tanks, The Times of India reported on 6 March. Ukrainian stocks of Russian-supplied components are reportedly only sufficient to build 30-35 T-80 UD tanks. So far, Kyiv has delivered 15 out of the scheduled 320 tanks to Islamabad. Since the deliveries began last month, the Russian press has been denouncing the deal and Ukraine's decision to develop its tank industry without Russia. When Kyiv first unveiled the tank at the Abu-Dhabi arms fair in 1995, it claimed to be able to produce the vehicle and all of its component parts domestically. Moscow claims it supplies 90% of the separate components and spare parts for the T-80 series tanks, including its 125mm gun. -- Ustina Markus KYIV WOMEN INJURED IN RALLY. Police beat several elderly women with metal bars at an "empty saucepans march" on the Kyiv city administration building, international agencies reported on 6 March. Some 500 retirees, mostly women, marched through Kyiv to protest low pensions in an action organized by an association of pro-communist organizations. Pensions in Ukraine, $30 on average, are often months overdue and shrunk by inflation. Meanwhile, the Ternopil league of Ukrainian women in western Ukraine appealed to thelocal mayor to cancel International Women's Day on 8 March, Den reported on 6 March. Ternopil women blasted the holiday as a communist legacy. President Leonid Kuchma has called 8 March a "holiday of spring, youth and love." -- Oleg Varfolomeyev BELARUSIAN PRESIDENT ARRIVES IN MOSCOW. Alyaksandr Lukashenka arrived on 6 March in Moscow to hold a series of meetings with Russian President Boris Yeltsin and a number of leading Russian politicians, international agencies reported. The two leaders are to discuss the pace and strategy of the integration of the two states. Russia and Belarus have recently been coming up with a number of initiatives concerning the substance of the integration process. The options under consideration include incorporation of Belarus by Russia, which Lukashenka has recently ruled out; the signing of a new union treaty between equal republics; and the creation of a supranational legislative structure, whose decisions would be binding for both countries. The leaders would also have to decide on further economic integration, unification of legal norms, and transport and energy systems. -- Sergei Solodovnikov SIIMANN TO FORM MINORITY GOVERNMENT IN ESTONIA. Prime Minister designate Mart Siimann announced on 6 March that his recent talks with other political parties revealed that a broad-based government would face "serious, and perhaps insurmountable differences," hence he will form a minority government backed by the Coalition Party and three smaller pensioners' and farmers' parties, ETA reported. Siimann said that he would present his cabinet, including some changes in relation to the one led by Tiit Vahi, to the parliament for approval on 11 or 12 March. Center Party Chairman Edgar Savisaar said that the political consultations had improved communication and mutual understanding among the parties, but he doubted the new government would have a long life. -- Saulius Girnius HUNGARIAN PRESIDENT VISITS LATVIA. Arpad Goncz began an official two-day visit to Riga on 6 March with talks with President Guntis Ulmanis, which focused on the enlargement of the European Union and NATO, BNS reported. Latvian Interior Minister Dainis Turlais and Hungarian Interior Ministry Political Secretary Gabor Vilagos signed an agreement on combating terrorism, drug trafficking, and organized crime. Education and Science Minister Juris Celmins and Hungarian Culture and Education Deputy State Secretary Peter Medgyez signed an agreement on cooperation in education, culture, and science. Latvia also submitted draft agreements on the promotion and protection of investments, avoidance of double taxation, and free trade relations. -- Saulius Girnius GDANSK SHIPYARD FIRES EMPLOYEES. The shipyard that was the cradle of the Solidarity movement in August 1980, has finally gone bust. The shipyard's liquidator, who is taking care of the interests of the already bankrupt company, on 6 March began giving pink slips to 3,800 shipyard employees who will receive three months severance pay and other indemnities -- totaling $8.54 million -- to be paid by the treasury. The immediate cause of the liquidator's decision was the refusal of Pekao SA bank to grant the shipyard a $100 million credit to finance the construction of five ships. The value of the shipyard's property has been estimated at $88 million (excluding land); 200 people will remain employed to guard that property. Prime Minister Wlodzimierz Cimoszewicz asked the Szczecin shipyard to analyze possibilities of cooperation with the Gdansk shipyard that would save as many jobs as possible and preserve the shipyard's property. -- Jakub Karpinski CZECH METALLURGICAL GIANT IS BANKRUPT. A Czech court ordered on 6 March that bankruptcy proceedings be started against the giant steel company Poldi Kladno, Czech media reported. The decision came only two days after a company called ProWin bought the Bohemia Art company that was the principal owner of Poldi Kladno. The steel giant, employing some 5,000 people, has faced severe economic problems for more than a year. The government has been trying to force out Vladimir and Marko Stehlik, who bought Poldi Kladno several years ago and later formed Bohemia Art as an umbrella company. Both Stehliks are currently under investigation for dubious business deals. The new court-appointed administrator of the company immediately fired Marko Stehlik from his post as Poldi director. Vladimir Stehlik is currently in police custody. -- Jiri Pehe CZECH BUDGET IN TROUBLE. Czech Finance Minister Ivan Kocarnik announced on 6 March that his ministry will propose to the government to make budget cuts amounting to 11 billion crowns ($400 million), Czech media reported. Kocarnik said the cuts would take place across the board. Kocarnik's proposal followed his recent announcement that the latest figures show the state budget with a 6.7 billion crown deficit in February, a development pointing to a slowdown in economic growth. Opposition Social Democratic Party Chairman Milos Zeman said on 6 March that the decline in budget receipts is, among other things, a logical consequence of the present government's inability to collect taxes. Zeman contended that the current right-of-center government, led by Vaclav Klaus, does not have any breakthrough economic policies in stock. -- Jiri Pehe SLOVAK JUNIOR COALITION PARTNER SAYS "NO" TO NATO. Association of Workers Deputy Chairman Jan Borovsky on 6 March announced that his party will ask its supporters to vote "no" on NATO membership in the upcoming referendum, Slovak media reported. The party is also against the second and third referendum questions, which ask Slovaks whether they favor deploying nuclear weapons and having foreign military bases in Slovakia. Only the ethnic Hungarian parties are encouraging their supporters to vote "yes" on all three questions. Also on 6 March, U.S. Deputy Secretary of State John Kornblum visited Bratislava where he noted the Slovak government's unwillingness to heed certain recommendations, particularly on the passage of the minority language law. Meeting with Kornblum, Slovak Foreign Ministry State Secretary Jozef Sestak criticized the U.S. government report on NATO expansion, especially the section comparing the observance of democratic principles in Slovakia with the situation in Albania, CTK reported. -- Sharon Fisher OPPOSITION LEADER, PROTESTING FARMERS TO ATTEND FAR-RIGHTIST RALLY. Gyorgy Giczy, chairman of the opposition Christian Democrats has announced that he will deliver a speech at a rally staged by the far- right Hungarian Justice and Life Party (MIEP) in Budapest on March 15, one of the country's national days, Hungarian media reported on 6 March. Istvan Csurka, president of the extra-parliamentary MIEP, said that protesting farmers in eastern Hungary have also decided to participate in his rally. In other news, the farmers on 5 March rejected Prime Minister Gyula Horn's invitation to hold further negotiations on the new tax and social-insurance code, after government officials seemed determined to stick to their original plans during a morning consultation. The farmers announced on 6 March that a convoy of 300 tractors will drive through downtown Budapest on 10 March to further protest the government's agricultural policy and legislation. -- Zsofia Szilagyi SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE AMNESTY IN ALBANIA . . . President Sali Berisha met with leaders of the opposition on 6 March in an attempt to calm fighting in the southern part of the country. Emerging from the meeting was an announcement of a blanket amnesty for all involved in hostilities, except those who had "committed crimes," CNN reported on 7 March. According to the terms, armed rebels were to hand over all weapons, beginning at 6 a.m. local time today, at which point the military were to cease all actions for a 48-hour period. In addition, Berisha and the opposition agreed to the formation of a multiparty commission to investigate pyramid scheme investments, as the collapse of several of those had led to thousands losing their life savings and ultimately triggered the armed conflict. Finally, Berisha has also reportedly agreed to the idea of holding early elections. -- Stan Markotich . . . BUT REBELS SET TO CONTINUE FIGHTING. Rebels throughout the southern part of the country have signaled their intention to continue the conflict. One rebel leader, identified as Captain Tato by Greek television, vowed "We won't turn over our weapons until our demands are met." Surrounded by well-armed supporters, Tato reiterated the call for Berisha's immediate resignation. "He [Berisha] wants our guns, but we want his head," he reportedly said. And just before the announcement of the amnesty, leaders in Sarande reiterated their list of demands, which include Berisha's resignation, a new coalition government, and compensation for those who lost their savings in the investment schemes. -- Stan Markotich BOSNIAN LOCAL ELECTIONS POSTPONED AGAIN. Danish Foreign Minister Niels Helveg Petersen, chairman of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, said on 6 March that the Bosnian elections were rescheduled from July to September, international media reported. That is the third postponement of the elections -- originally scheduled for September 1996, along with the general elections, then moved to November, and then again to July 1997. U.S. Defense Minister William Cohen sharply criticized the delay, and blamed civilian authorities for the setback. Cohen said the delay will not stand in the way of a U.S. pullout from Bosnia in June 1998, although "it complicates matters," AFP reported. But the U.S. State Department fully supported the decision to postpone the polls, and said there was a greater hope to have free and fair elections, Reuters reported. High Representative Carl Bildt also welcomed the OSCE decision. -- Daria Sito Sucic BOSNIAN SERB ASSEMBLY TO RATIFY TREATY WITH YUGOSLAVIA. The Bosnian Serb parliament on 15 March will ratify a controversial pact with the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, despite objections by the Muslim and Croat partners in the central government of Bosnia-Herzegovina (see OMRI Daily Digest, 3 March 1997), Oslobodjenje reported. The accord only calls for ratification by the Yugoslav federal parliament and the Bosnian Serb assembly, although international treaties and foreign relations lie within the jurisdiction of Bosnia's central government in Sarajevo. The U.S. State Department supported a protest by Bosnia's Muslim presidency member, Alija Izetbegovic, who said the pact was unconstitutional, Nasa Borba reported on 5 March. The high representative for Bosnia, Carl Bildt, urged Yugoslavia not to ratify the agreement before it has been approved by Bosnia's multiethnic parliament. Bosnia's Muslim Party of Democratic Action said its deputies will not ratify the agreement, Oslobodjenje reported. -- Daria Sito Sucic SERBIAN STATE TELEVISION STANDS BY MILOSEVIC. The state-run Radio and Television Serbia on 6 March announced that it would no longer provide relays of programs broadcast on BK Television, international media report. BK, owned and run by wealthy entrepreneur Bogoljub Karic, has the capacity to reach an estimated 60% of Serbia's population, but in recent weeks the station has stepped up criticism of Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic. In addition, reports have recently circulated that Karic is preparing to launch a political party to run against the governing Socialists in republican presidential and parliamentary elections -- slated for later this year -- and has plans to solicit the support of such influential and popular individuals as American businessman and former Premier of Yugoslavia, Milan Panic (see OMRI Daily Digest, 28 February 1997). -- Stan Markotich MACEDONIAN STUDENT HUNGER STRIKE IN THIRD DAY. A hunger strike by some 20 Macedonian students from the Pedagogical Faculty (PF) in a Skopje park near parliament entered its third day on 6 March, MILS reported. The hunger strikers are conducting their protest in the open because a permit issued for erecting tents there has been declared invalid for environmental and public-safety reasons. The hunger strikers were supported by 3,000 to 4,000 protesters, who marched for the 19th consecutive day. The protesters included students from Kumanovo, Ohrid, Skopje, and Stip, along with other citizens. The protesters are demanding suspension of both a law on the PF passed on 30 January (allowing instruction in Albanian) and of minority university admission quotas, along with the resignation of Education Minister Sofija Todorova. University officials addressed the protesters, asking them to suspend the strike until the Constitutional Court rules on the law. -- Michael Wyzan ROMANIA SLAMS OPPOSITION TO UKRAINE TREATY. A press release from the Foreign Ministry vowed on 6 March to pursue efforts to sign a basic treaty with Ukraine, which is regarded as boosting Romania's chances of admission to NATO, Reuters reported on the same day. The ministry warned against "recent agitation" against the pending treaty, saying it was "fueled by circles alien to Romania's interests, which want the country to stay out of European and Euro-Atlantic structures," and called the drive "unpatriotic." On 6 March, the media reported that hundreds of leaflets denouncing the intention to agree to a loss of territories incorporated into the Soviet Union had been distributed overnight in Timisoara. There had been earlier reports of such leaflets in Bucharest, Suceava, and Turnu Severin. Police launched an investigation to trace the authors of the leaflets. -- Michael Shafir COUNCIL OF EUROPE TO STOP SPECIAL MONITORING OF ROMANIA? A Council of Europe (CE) delegation of rapporteurs is investigating the possibility of removing special monitoring of Romania's implementation of the commitments it took upon joining the organization, Romanian media reported. Delegation leader Gunnar Jansson said the monitoring might end in April, but the decision is to be made by the CE General Assembly on 25 April. In related news, the EU commissioner in charge with relations with Central and Eastern European countries, Hans van den Broek, on 6 March arrived in Bucharest in an attempt to boost cooperation between the EU and Romania. He said the EU will effectively support the new government's economic reform program. -- Zsolt Mato MOLDOVAN MEDIA DEVELOPMENTS. The government decided on 3 March to dismiss Andrei Hropotinschi, the editor in chief of the government daily Moldova suverana, BASA-press reported on 6 March. Hropotinschi, in fact, had announced on 15 February that he would resign on grounds of his strong backing of former Premier Andrei Sangheli in November's presidential race. Constantin Andreev, currently a reporter for the daily, was named by State Minister Nicolae Cernomaz as the most likely candidate to succeed Hropotinschi, but the Moldova suverana deputy editor in chief, Tudor Topa, told BASA press that "neither I, nor the staff, will accept to work under Andreev." In other news, the Communications and Information Ministry announced on 6 March that the airing of Ukraine's first channel television programs will be stopped on 10 March because the channel refuses to pay its debts to Moldovan television for the period July 1996-March 1997. Since February 1996, the channel has aired six hours daily. It covers over 80% of Moldova. -- Michael Shafir REGISTRATION OF BULGARIAN PATRIARCH MAKSIM INVALIDATED. Bulgaria's Supreme Administrative Court declared void the registration of one of the two rivaling synods of the Bulgarian Orthodox Church, headed by Patriarch Maksim, Reuters and local media reported on 6 March. Patriarch Maksim was elected in 1971, but his synod has never been registered by the communists. After almost 5 years of intrachurch feuding over his legitimacy, the former Socialist government registered Maksim in December 1996. However, his opponents, backed by the anti-communist Union of Democratic Forces, enthroned former Metropolitan Pimen as patriarch in July 1996. It was Pimen who conducted the blessing ceremony when President Petar Stoyanov took office in January 1997. "It is not possible to withdraw as patriarch, not only because I do not have any grounds to, but because I would commit a sin before God and would be betraying those who have elected me," Patriarch Maksim commented after a meeting with Stoyanov. -- Maria Koinova BULGARIA ABOLISHES VISA REQUIREMENT FOR WEST EUROPEANS. Bulgaria's interim government on 6 March abolished visas for Western Europeans, RFE/RL and Pari reported. The move is aimed at strengthening the country's position in seeking visa concessions for Bulgarian citizens and at fostering tourism from EU countries. The government also took measures to restrict the illicit trade in Bulgarian passports, deciding that a criminal check will be required before a new international passport is issued. "We have to stop serving as a transit point to Europe for people from the Third World," Interior Minister Bogomil Bonev commented. Citing budget cuts, the ministers also decided that Bulgaria will reduce staff at its missions in Ethiopia, Uruguay, Nicaragua, Cambodia, and North Korea. In other news, the head of the Bulgarian Intelligence Service, Brigo Asparuchov, on 6 March was replaced by a little-known 34-year-old lawyer, Dimo Gyaurov, a deputy of the Union of Democratic Forces in the recently dissolved parliament. -- Maria Koinova [As of 12:00 CET] Compiled by Sava Tatic *^!*^!*^!*^!*^!*^!*^!*^!*^!*^!*^!*^!*^!*^!*^!*^!*^!*^!*^!*^!*^!*^!*^!*^! What's in Store for the magazine Transition We've learned much in the last two years about what sort of magazine Transition can be and what role it should play in Central and Eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union. Of greatest help in this process has been the advice of readers. Among some of the desired changes are for Transition to offer even more articles by writers in the region - lively opinion pieces as well as fact-filled analysis and expanded departments. Accordingly, Transition will be substantially restructured and relaunched as a monthly with the issue dated June 1997. The last biweekly issue will be 6 April, followed by a brief hiatus. All existing subscriptions will be honored and extended according to the new monthly frequency, which is priced at $65 for 12 issues. As before, we offer a substantial discount for readers in and of the countries we cover (apply to the contacts listed below for more information). For engaged intellectuals, policymakers, journalists, and scholars from the region, the new Transition will provide a rare forum for the exchange of ideas and criticism on political, economic, and cultural issues and events. Transition will also offer readers from abroad a window on the experiences of countries moving away from a single ideology. We are certain that the magazine's new format and orientation will make it even more useful for your work, as well as contributing more to your understanding. For more information, contact the OMRI Marketing Department at tel. (420-2) 6114 2114, fax (420-2) 6114 3181; email: transition-DD@omri.cz *^!*^!*^!*^!*^!*^!*^!*^!*^!*^!*^!*^!*^!*^!*^!*^!*^!*^!*^!*^!*^!*^!*^!*^! ------------------------------------------------------------------------ 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. 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