|[America,] it is the only place where miracles not only happen, but where they happen all the time. - Thomas Wolfe|
No. 48, Part I, 08 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 BELARUS NOTES INACCURACIES IN U.S. REPORT. The Belarusian Foreign Ministry is drawing up an official response to the U.S. State Department report criticizing human rights in Belarus, Belapan reported on 6 March. Foreign Minister Ivan Antanovich said the Belarusian leadership does not agree with the conclusions of the report, noting there are a number of inaccuracies and misunderstandings. But he added that Minsk accepts some of the criticisms. On 8 March, AFP quoted Italian deputy Clemente Mastella as denying that an Italian parliamentary delegation's recent visit to Minsk meant Italy recognized the new Belarusian parliament. He said the visit was strictly a "practical trip" to work out agreements that would allow Italians to adopt Belarusian children. He noted that Belarusian speaker Anatol Malofeyev's interpretation of the visit as a sign of official recognition was erroneous. So far, only Russia and China have recognized the legitimacy of the post-referendum Belarusian parliament. (For more on Belarus, see "YELTSIN, LUKASHENKA SIGN JOINT DECLARATION," in the Russian part.) -- Ustina Markus U.S. STATE SECRETARY ON UKRAINE-NATO AGREEMENT. Madeleine Albright said she expected an agreement between Ukraine and NATO to be completed by the July summit in Madrid, international agencies reported. Following a meeting with her Ukrainian counterpart, Hennadii Udovenko, Albright said Ukraine and the U.S. were strategic partners and that an independent Ukraine was part of their shared vision of a Europe at peace. Udovenko said the further development of U.S.-Ukrainian relations is an important priority for Ukraine. -- Ustina Markus IMMINENT CHANGES IN ESTONIAN CABINET. Prime Minister-designate Mart Siimann has said he will announce the new cabinet only after the parliament has approved his program, BNS reported on 7 March. Legislators are likely to approve the program on 12 March. Eesti Paevaleht revealed in its 8 March issue that Siimann wanted to retain the cabinet of his predecessor, Tiit Vahi, but the rural parties in his coalition demanded that Agriculture and Regional Affairs Ministers Ilmar Mandmets and Tiit Kubri be dismissed. Siimann will have seven days after his program is approved to present his cabinet to President Lennart Meri. The president must appoint the cabinet within three days. Former Agriculture Minister Avo Molder is rumored to be the most likely candidate for that portfolio. -- Saulius Girnius LOWER INFLATION IN BALTIC STATES. In February, monthly inflation in Estonia was 0.9%, in Latvia 0.4%, and in Lithuania 0.6%, in each case sharply down on the January levels, BNS reported on 7 March. The combined rates for the first two months (2.3% in both Estonia and Latvia and 3.4% in Lithuania) are considerably lower than for the same period over the past six years, demonstrating that all three governments are successfully tackling inflation. -- Saulius Girnius POLISH DEPUTY PRIME MINISTER RESIGNS. Roman Jagielinski, who is also agriculture minister and a leader of the co-ruling Polish Peasant Party (PSL), has submitted his resignation to Prime Minister Wlodzimierz Cimoszewicz, effective 31 March, Polish dailies reported on 8 March. Jagielinski said he wants to take part in the EU agriculture ministers meeting next week to secure funds for Polish agriculture. Last month, the PSL's Supreme Executive Committee withdrew its support for Jagielinski. On 1 March, the PSL's Supreme Council asked him to resign immediately in exchange for the position of council vice president. Jagielinski is regarded as a rival of PSL leader and former Prime Minister Waldemar Pawlak. He has been agriculture minister for the past two years, longer than anyone else who has held that post since 1989. -- Jakub Karpinski UPDATE ON POLISH WORKERS' PROTESTS. Arms industry workers from around the country descended on Warsaw on 7 March to demand an increase in defense expenditures, Polish media reported. "The Communists are destroying the country," they shouted. Near government headquarters, demonstrators clashed with police who wielded truncheons. Solidarity official Stanislaw Glowacki apologized to Warsaw inhabitants for the "inconvenience" but blamed the police for the clashes. Police spokesman showed journalists bottles and metal objects that had been thrown at policemen. Meanwhile, striking bus drivers in Silesia signed an agreement with city authorities on 7 March but are continuing their protest action because of lack of progress in talks with transport companies. -- Jakub Karpinski SLOVAK OPPOSITION PARTY CALLS FOR PRE-ELECTION COALITION. Democratic Union Deputy Chairman Jan Budaj on 8 March announced that his party will initiate talks with other opposition parties to pave the way for a broad coalition cabinet following the next parliamentary elections, Slovak media reported. Speaking after a DU republican council session, Budaj said the union will concentrate on forming a pre-election coalition with the Christian Democratic Movement (KDH) and the Democratic Party (DS). The DU also discussed preparations for the next party congress, at which former Foreign Minister Eduard Kukan will compete with Jozef Moravcik for party chairmanship. Also on 8 March, KDH Chairman Jan Carnogursky said his party is prepared to enter a pre-election coalition with the DS and to begin talks with the DU. Opinion polls show that the three parties combined have roughly the same level of support as the ruling Movement for a Democratic Slovakia. -- Sharon Fisher SLOVAK ROUNDUP. Slovak dailies on 10 March were full of allegations about close links between the government and Devin banka. The only Slovak bank with significant Russian capital, Devin banka is said to be an instrument of Russian influence over the Slovak government. Recently, the director's wife, Blazena Martinkova, has often been seen with Prime Minister Vladimir Meciar, although she does not work at the government office, Praca reported. In other news, a private radio station, Radio Koliba, is to be launched on 1 April, Sme reported on 8 March. One of the station's co-owners is Fedor Flasik, the director of the Donar advertising agency, which has close ties with the ruling Movement for a Democratic Slovakia. The station is not expected to broadcast news commentary. The owners of Radio Koliba are also said to have a good chance of winning the competition for the privatization of Slovak TV's second channel. -- Sharon Fisher HUNGARIAN FOREIGN MINISTER OPTIMISTIC ON NATO FOLLOWING U.S. TRIP. Laszlo Kovacs said on 7 March that meetings with U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright and other officials have reassured him about Hungary's prospects of joining NATO in the first round, Reuters reported. "The United States has indicated a very strong intention to implement [NATO] expansion as scheduled," Kovacs told journalists on returning to Hungary. Commenting on Romania's efforts to become a member during the first round, Kovacs said Hungary supports the simultaneous entry of Hungary and Romania into NATO but does not want to sacrifice its chances of first-round membership on that account. In other news, Prime Minister Gyula Horn on 9 March said ethnic Hungarians in Romania could better promote their interests if the two countries were admitted to NATO at the same time. -- Zsofia Szilagyi HUNGARY'S YOUNG DEMOCRATS BACK FARMERS' PROTESTS. Viktor Orban, chairman of the opposition Young Democrats, has expressed his party's full support for farmers' demands, including the immediate cancellation of social insurance and tax regulations, Hungarian media reported on 7 March. Farmers first erected road blockades in eastern Hungary two weeks ago. Following extensive talks with government officials last week, farmers are today continuing their protest against unfavorable legislation. In other news, a recent poll conducted by the Szonda Ipsos agency shows the opposition Smallholders party leading the popularity ratings with 29% support. It is followed by the Young Democrats (24%) and the ruling Socialist Party (22%). -- Zsofia Szilagyi SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE ALBANIAN PRESIDENT OFFERS DEAL... Sali Berisha on 9 March appeared on state radio and television to offer a deal to the rebels, who now control several towns in the southern part of the country. In a bid to halt the violence, Berisha extended an amnesty beyond its 9 March deadline and agreed, with the support of the opposition parties, to the formation of a government of reconciliation that will include the opposition. He also acceded to calls for early elections, which, he said, will be held no later than June. The same day, Albanian TV announced that its chief director, Qemal Sakajeva, has quit his post. Rebels and protesters demanded his removal after the state media started dubbing the rebels "terrorists." -- Stan Markotich ...BUT WILL IT BRING PEACE? Opposition political leaders have said they will support Berisha's proposed deal, and some rebels in the south of the country have deemed the concessions to be at least a partial victory. But some rebels appear to remain defiant and unwilling to surrender their arms. Just before Berisha announced his proposals, rebels seized the southern town of Permet, Reuters reported on 10 March. According to eyewitnesses, at least six people were killed in the fighting. Rebel leaders claimed they fended off government troops, who allegedly broke ranks and fled. Reuters notes that many of the southern rebel leaders have already said they want Berisha to resign before they consider turning in any of their artillery. -- Stan Markotich YET ANOTHER RALLY IN BELGRADE. An estimated 50,000 opposition supporters crowded into downtown Belgrade on 9 March to attend a rally commemorating the sixth anniversary of the first mass protest against Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic, Nasa Borba reported the next day. In 1991, Milosevic deployed army tanks and armed police units to disperse the crowds, resulting in the deaths of one protester and one policeman. But at the most recent demonstration--the first to be held since Milosevic recognized opposition Zajedno coalition wins in local elections some three weeks ago -- police kept a very low public profile. The three main Zajedno leaders, Vuk Draskovic, Vesna Pesic, and new Belgrade mayor Zoran Djindjic, appealed for reform and called for greater media freedom. -- Stan Markotich BRCKO SUPERVISOR APPOINTED. At the Vienna conference on Brcko, U.S. diplomat Robert W. Farrand was appointed supervisor of the disputed Bosnian town, international agencies reported on 7 March. Both Muslims and Serbs are claiming control over Brcko. Farrand's main task will be to ensure that the Serbian authorities currently controlling the town allow Croat and Muslim refugees to return to their homes. Brcko was the only unresolved issue in the Dayton peace accords. Its fate was to have been decided on 14 February, but it was decided to postpone a final ruling until March 1998 and to appoint a supervisor to oversee the running of the town and return of refugees. An extra 200 UN police will be stationed in the town to monitor and advise the Serbian police. They will have the same unarmed status as other UN police in the town, AFP on 8 March quoted diplomats at the Vienna conference as saying. The U.S. wanted an armed force in Brcko, but its European partners vetoed that proposal. -- Daria Sito Sucic BOSNIAN SHORTS. A gang of Serbs on 7 March attacked a bus carrying Muslim passengers on a road that runs from Sarajevo to the Muslim enclave of Gorazde through the Bosnian Serb entity, Oslobodjenje reported the next day. The Serbs stopped the bus, robbed and beat the passengers, and threw a hand grenade into the bus. The grenade failed, however, to explode. The Bosnian Federation Interior Ministry has demanded that the UN police and SFOR provide better protection for vehicles using the road. Meanwhile, some 500 Sarajevo citizens demonstrated against the recent bombings of Catholic Churches in the Bosnian capital. The 8 March demonstration was organized by the independent monthly Dani under the motto "Build Mosques, Save Churches." It was intended to show solidarity among all Bosnians against attacks on religious monuments. In other news, Austria is to offer cash incentives worth $2,500 to Bosnian refugees in the country to encourage them to return home, AFP reported. -- Daria Sito Sucic SERBS IN EASTERN SLAVONIA WANT DUAL CITIZENSHIP. Vojislav Stanimirovic, head of the Serbian authorities in eastern Slavonia, has said that all Serbs in the region would remain if the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia were to conclude a dual citizenship agreement with Croatia, Reuters reported on 9 March. The region is slated to revert to Croatia control later this year. Croatian law allows for dual citizenship, but Yugoslavia has not given its citizens that option. Stanimirovic said the decision whether the Serbs will take part in Croatia's April elections depends largely on UN chief for eastern Slavonia Jacques Klein meeting their demands. But Stanimirovic did not specify what those demands are. Meanwhile, the UN Security Council has agreed to 13 April as the date for local elections in eastern Slavonia. But the council criticized both Croatia and local Serbs for preventing the smooth transition of the area to Croatian rule. -- Daria Sito Sucic VAN DER BROEK WRAPS UP ROMANIAN VISIT. EU Foreign Affairs Commissioner Hans van der Broek met with President Emil Constantinescu, Prime Minister Victor Ciorbea, Foreign Minister Adrian Nastase, and other officials during his visit to Romania, Radio Bucharest reported on 7 March. Noting that reforms instituted by Ciorbea's government are "encouraging," he said the EU commission will offer Romania a $ 80.5 million loan to facilitate the implementation of reforms. Romania's integration into the EU will heavily depend on the passage of legislation that meets EU norms, on "administrative efficiency," and on the existence of a fully free market, he commented. Van der Broek also praised the government's policy toward national minorities. In other news, three Council of Europe rapporteurs said at the end of their visit to Bucharest on 7 March that they are impressed by Romania's progress and that their report will be "positive." The council has to decide in April whether to stop monitoring Romania's democratization. -- Michael Shafir ROMANIAN PARTY SPLITS. The wing of the National Liberal Party-Democratic Convention that supports unification of liberal formations within the framework of the Democratic Convention of Romania (CDR) elected a tripartite leadership to replace chairman Nicolae Cerveni at a congress in Sibiu on the weekend, Romanian media reported. Each of the three new party leaders will hold the chairmanship for six months; Senator Alexandru Popovici is first in line. Cerveni, who wants liberal formations to unify outside the CDR, said the gathering was illegal. Earlier, he demanded that members of the Popovici wing be dismissed from the government. But the presence of delegations from other formations representing CDR members at the Sibiu congress suggests support for the anti-Cerveni wing. -- Michael Shafir RUSSIAN OFFICIALS IN BULGARIA. Russian Deputy Prime Minister Oleg Lobov and Gazprom head Rem Vyakhirov arrived in Sofia on 10 March for a two- day visit, Bulgarian media reported. Lobov, who is also co-chair of the Intergovernmental Bulgarian-Russian Commission for Commercial and Scientific-Technical Cooperation, said Bulgaria needs to have more faith in Gazprom and that it will profit annually if a gas pipeline is built through the country. Gazprom and former socialist Prime Minister Zhan Videnov have sparred over the "TopEnergy" joint venture. Videnov insisted that the government should represent Bulgaria in managing that joint venture, while the Russians favor Multigroup, a private business grouping. Talks are to center on Russian credits for Bulgarian nuclear energy, Russia's supplying parts and equipment for the Kozloduy nuclear power facility, military-technical cooperation, and transport ties. -- Michael Wyzan HARVARD ECONOMIST CRITICIZES WEST IN BULGARIA TALK. Jeffrey Sachs, a Harvard University economics professor famous for his role in shaping reforms in Poland and Bolivia, has criticized the West's approach to Bulgaria's economic problems, Bulgarian media reported. Sachs was speaking to journalists and economists in Sofia on 8 March. He argued that while it may have been necessary to introduce a currency board under the Socialists, such a body may not be needed under a government committed to economic reform. Sachs argued that the country's small foreign reserves (about $400 million) casts doubt on the efficacy of a currency board, adding that the introduction of one will not restore faith in the banks. Noting that annual debt service is about 10% of GDP, Sachs lambasted the West for being more concerned about the welfare of Western creditors than about that of the Bulgarian people. He advised the Bulgarian government to be tough in negotiations with the IMF and not to accept onerous conditions, despite the desperate situation. -- Michael Wyzan [As of 12:00 CET] Compiled by Jan Cleave *^!*^!*^!*^!*^!*^!*^!*^!*^!*^!*^!*^!*^!*^!*^!*^!*^!*^!*^!*^!*^!*^!*^!*^! 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. 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 firstname.lastname@example.org 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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