|Men stumble over the truth from time to time, but most pick themselves up and hurry off as if nothing happened. - Sir Winston Churchill|
OMRI DAILY DIGEST - No. 59, Part II, 25 March 1997
No. 59, Part II, 25 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 ********************************************************************** OMRI, Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty Announcement: Due to a restructuring of operations at the Open Media Research Institute, OMRI will cease publication of the OMRI Daily Digest with the issue dated 28 March 1997. For more information on the restructuring of the Institute, please access the 21 November 1996 Press Release at: http://www.omri.cz/about/PressRelease.html On 2 April, Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty will launch a daily news report, RFE/RL Newsline, on the countries of Eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union. A successor to the RFE/RL Daily Report and the OMRI Daily Digest, the new daily will nonetheless represent a major departure from its predecessors. In addition to analytic materials, RFE/RL Newsline will carry news gathered by the correspondents, bureaus, and broadcast services of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty. RFE/RL will disseminate this new publication both electronically and via fax to all those now receiving the OMRI Daily Digest and for the time being under the same terms. OMRI will continue to publish the periodical Transition, for more information on Transition please access http://www.omri.cz/publications/transition/index.html or send a request for information to: transition-DD@omri.cz ********************************************************************* CENTRAL AND EASTERN EUROPE U.S. RESPONDS TO EXPULSION OF DIPLOMAT FROM BELARUS. The U.S. State Department has issued a statement condemning the expulsion of Serge Aleksandrov, first secretary of the U.S. embassy in Minsk, following his detention on 23 March after he observed clashes between demonstrators and police, international agencies reported. Spokesman John Dinger said the U.S. is considering retaliatory measures. U.S. ambassador to Belarus Kenneth Yalowitz protested the incident to the "highest level of Belarusian authorities." The Belarusian Foreign Ministry has issued a statement saying that "S. Aleksandrov's activities fall outside the 1961 Convention on Diplomatic relations." Law enforcement agencies in Belarus say they possess materials proving that Aleksandrov is a career CIA officer working under cover. Meanwhile, President Alyaksandr Lukashenka said during a meeting with new Belarusian Ambassador to the U.S., Valery Tsepkalot, that it is important to increase cooperation with the U.S. He said that despite some difficulties in relations, there is no anti- American campaign in Belarus and that the expulsion of a U.S. diplomat was aimed against a specific person. -- Sergei Solodovnikov CLAMPDOWN ON RUSSIAN JOURNALISTS IN BELARUS. Ivan Pashkevich, deputy head of the president's administration, issued an order on 23 March banning NTV, ORT, and Russian television (RTR) from broadcasting footage from Belarus, NTV and ORT reported. The following day, security guards prevented Russian journalists from entering the television building in Minsk. The same day, Belarusian authorities stripped NTV correspondent Aleksandr Stupnikov of his accreditation. The reason given for this move was Stupnikov's "deliberate distortion of information" when reporting on the situation in Belarus. Belarusian authorities have been complaining about Russian journalists' coverage of Belarus since last year, and NTV has been singled out on several occasions for criticism. -- Ustina Markus NEW OVERSIGHT COUNCIL TO TACKLE UKRAINE'S ECONOMIC CRISIS. Ukraine's government has set up an oversight council to tackle the country's economic crisis, international agencies reported on 24 March. The council is headed by leading reformist Deputy Premier Viktor Pynzenyk and will deal with tax reform, wage and pension arrears, and government bureaucracy. The move follows President Leonid Kuchma's sharp criticism of Prime Minister Pavlo Lazarenko's government in his annual address to the nation and parliament on the weekend. Kuchma has appointed liberal economist Volodymyr Lanovyi to head the State Property Fund, Ukrainian TV reported. -- Oleg Varfolomeyev ESTONIAN PRESIDENT IN JAPAN. Lennart Meri on 24 March attended the opening of the Estonian embassy in Tokyo, the country's first-ever diplomatic mission in Asia, BNS reported. He also held talks with several ministers and bankers on boosting economic cooperation. Two days earlier, he met with Japanese Prime Minister Ryutaro Hashimoto. After that meeting, he said an agreement on avoiding double taxation would help improve economic ties. Meri is scheduled to be received by Emperor Akihito today. -- Saulius Girnius LOCALS ELECTIONS IN LITHUANIA. Preliminary results show that only six out of 24 parties running in the 23 March local elections failed to gain seats, Radio Lithuania reported the next day. Turnout was 39.9%, down 4% on the 1995 elections. The ruling Homeland Union (Conservatives of Lithuania) won 34% of the vote, up 6% on 1995, but its coalition partner, the Christian Democratic Party, received 13%, down 3%. The opposition Democratic Labor Party won 15% of seats, down 5 points on its 1995 showing. In by-elections for four parliamentary seats, the Election Action of Lithuania's Poles won one seat outright and has two candidates in the second round of voting. Turnout of less than 40% invalidated the vote in the Naujoji Vilnija district of Vilnius. -- Saulius Girnius NEW PLAN TO SAVE GDANSK SHIPYARD. Prime Minister Wlodzimierz Cimoszewicz and Andrzej Wiercinski, responsible for liquidating the Gdansk shipyard, have agreed on a possible way to prevent the company's demise, Polish media reported on 25 March. A tender for the shipyard has been issued and its sale already announced in Rzeczpospolita and Lloyd's List. If no buyer is found, the shipyard will build five ships for a new joint venture set up by Pomorski Bank Kredytowy, the Szczecin shipyard, and Polish Steamship Co. Some 2,000 of the 3,800 employees would be given jobs. Each of the five ships would require state subsidies worth $4 million. According to preliminary estimates, the shipyard had losses totaling 90 million zloty ($29 million) last year. -- Beata Pasek POLES MARCH TO PROTEST VIOLENT MURDER. Some 50,000 people took part in an hour-long march in Krakow on 24 March to protest the murder of 24- year old Jagiellonian University student Michal Lysek, Polish media reported on 25 March. Lysek was beaten to death by two teenagers earlier this month. Student organizations in Krakow organized the march. Andrzej Koj, rector of the Jagiellonian University, said "we want to show our unrelenting protest against the increasing brutality of criminals, ineffectual prosecution, and flagrant violation of the law without any consequences." He remembered two students who were also murdered recently. The new penal code, adopted by the Sejm last week, broadens the right to self-defense. -- Beata Pasek CZECH RULING COALITION CHALKS UP MAJORITY. Mlada fronta Dnes today quotes parliament deputy Jozef Wagner as saying that the government is no longer a minority one. Wagner was recently expelled from the opposition Social Democratic Party (CSSD) after voting for the government's 1997 budget proposal. The right-of-center three-party coalition emerged from the June 1996 elections just two seats short of an absolute majority. Tomas Teplik, another CSSD deputy expelled from the party, announced recently he would support the ruling coalition. The coalition now has 101 votes in the 200-member lower chamber as well as a comfortable majority in the Senate. -- Jiri Pehe SLOVAK ACTORS HEED PRESIDENT'S CALLS TO END STRIKE. At a meeting with President Michal Kovac on 24 March, Slovak theater representatives decided to end their nearly month-long strike, Sme reported. Kovac said he supported the theaters but expressed regret that performances had been canceled. He challenged theater employees to change their form of protest and renew performances. Theater workers will return to work on 26 March, although a strike warning will continue and audiences will be informed of the actors' demands during performances. Actor Stefan Bucko explained that "our gesture is an expression of good will to finally reach a dialogue and resolve our problems." The next round of tripartite talks between the cabinet, employers, and theater unions is scheduled for later this week. -- Sharon Fisher SLOVAKIA PRESENTS ITS CASE ON DISPUTED DAM . Slovakia on 24 March began presenting its case at the International Court of Justice at The Hague in the dispute with Hungary over the Gabcikovo-Nagymaros dams, Reuters reported. Slovakia believes the Gabcikovo dispute was caused by Budapest's failure to meet its legally binding commitments laid out in the 1977 treaty. It accuses Hungary of invoking environmental concerns to obscure legal issues. The Slovaks want Hungary to pay damages, arguing that Budapest's decision to halt construction of the Nagymaros dam caused environmental problems because of the reduced water flow. The 1977 treaty was negotiated by the Czechoslovak and Hungarian governments, but Hungary suspended work on its companion dam in Nagymaros in 1989. -- Anna Siskova YET ANOTHER SCANDAL HITS HUNGARY. Two staff members of the Intelligence Office were dismissed on 24 March following reports that the office collected information on Socialist deputies without informing either Minister for Secret Services Istvan Nikolits or the parliament's National Security Committee, Hungarian dailies reported. According to Vilaggazdasag, the office was investigating alleged links between organized crime groups and Ferenc Baja, environment minister and a Socialist Party leader. Those under investigation also included Laszlo Pal, former industry and trade minister and now president of the Hungarian Oil Company, parliamentary speaker Zoltan Gal, and deputy Tibor Bajor. Nikolits had ordered the investigation last week on suspicion of breach of state secrets. -- Zsofia Szilagyi SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE EU FAILS TO AGREE ON MILITARY PROTECTION FOR AID CONVOYS TO ALBANIA. The EU foreign ministers, meeting in Brussels on 24 March, failed to agree on a joint force to provide security to aid workers in Albania, international media reported. Italy, Greece, and France said they would provide troops for such a force, but the other EU member states made clear they would not. Turkey has also offered to send troops. German Foreign Minister Klaus Kinkel said the EU was ready to provide aid and that security would be provided by individual states on a voluntary basis. He added that the OSCE should coordinate the operation. But his French counterpart, Herve de Charette, insisted that the EU take a leading role and proposed that the UN Security Council issue a mandate for intervention. The EU foreign ministers are scheduled to discuss the issue with Albanian Premier Bashkim Fino in Rome today. -- Fabian Schmidt ALBANIA, ITALY AGREE TO CLOSE STRAITS OF OTRANTO. Fino and Italian counterpart, Romano Prodi, have agreed to coordinate efforts to stem the flow of emigrants across the Adriatic Sea, international media reported on 24 March. The number of refugees now exceeds 12,000. The Italian navy began returning all unauthorized ships by towing two trawlers with refugees back to Albania. But later the same day, another Albanian boat with several hundred refugees docked in Brindisi, while an Italian air force transport plane brought six tons of emergency medical aid for the northern part of the country. Meanwhile, the world-famous ruins at Butrint have been looted and vandalized, Reuters reported on 24 March. Doors to the museum and archaeological storerooms have been smashed and some statues stolen. -- Fabian Schmidt IZETBEGOVIC IN WASHINGTON. Alija Izetbegovic, chairman of the Bosnian presidency, has urged U.S. Defense Secretary William Cohen to accelerate a U.S.-sponsored program to arm and train Bosnia's Muslim-Croat federation, AFP reported on 24 March. Izetbegovic said only 20% of the program has been implemented so far. The Bosnian president also asked Cohen to put more pressure on the Serbs to reduce weapon stocks in keeping with an arms control agreement. He underscored the need to send war criminals Radovan Karadzic and Ratko Mladic to The Hague, saying that, otherwise, there will be "no real peace in Bosnia." Meanwhile, Haris Silajdzic, Muslim co-chairman of the Bosnian government, warned in Egypt of the risk to stability in Bosnia and the whole region if U.S. troops pull out. Cohen has said that U.S. troops will leave Bosnia in mid 1998 even if war breaks out again. -- Daria Sito Sucic SERBS AGREE TO UN POLICE FORCE IN BRCKO. The Bosnian Serbs on 23 March agreed to allow the deployment of 200 unarmed UN policemen in the disputed town of Brcko, in northern Bosnia-Herzegovina, AFP reported. Bosnian Serb Interior Minister Dragan Kijac said the UN police will work with local Serb police to "strengthen security in the region." But Bosnian Serb President Biljana Plavsic has rejected the idea of a joint Serb-Muslim force in the town, saying it was "out of question." Brcko is claimed by both Bosnian entities and was the only issue unsolved in the Dayton peace accord. A final decision on who will rule the town has been postponed until March 1998. Meanwhile, Brcko will remain under the Serbian administration but also under international control. -- Daria Sito Sucic SERBIA'S BK TELEVISION RETURNS TO AIRWAVES. Following a ruling by the Economic Court in Belgrade in favor of independent BK Television and against the Serbian Post, Telephone, and Telegraph (PTT) , the station resumed broadcasting to southern Serbia for the first time since 20 March, Nasa Borba reported on 25 March. The PTT had denied BK use of the Avala-Jastrebac relay line on the alleged grounds of unpaid bills and licensing irregularities. As a result, BK's range was limited to the Belgrade and Novi Sad areas (see OMRI Daily Digest, 24 March 1997). BK Television returned to the airwaves with a vengeance by hosting a round table on media freedom on 24 March. Zajedno coalition leader Vuk Draskovic said that demonstrations would resume unless there were media freedom, and all opposition leaders backed Radical Party leader Vojislav Seselj's call for complete privatization of the media. The regime has recently spoken about the need for change, but its proposed media law aims at more restrictions rather than at liberalization. -- Patrick Moore CROATIA, ITALY DISAGREE OVER REPAYMENT OF WAR-TIME DEBT. Croatian and Italian experts met on 24 March in the Croatian port of Split to discuss Croatia's $35 million debt to Italy, Vecernji List reported. Croatian Deputy Foreign Minister Hido Biscevic offered to pay one half in cash and the other half in stocks from the portfolio Croatia's Privatization Fund, which consists of state-owned hotels and other tourist facilities. But Italy rejected the proposal saying the whole debt should be paid in real estate. The debt originates in the post-war period, when Yugoslav partisans recaptured areas in the northern Adriatic Istrian peninsula from the Italian fascist state and expelled the ethnic Italian minority from Istria. A treaty between former Yugoslavia and Italy on settling territorial and material disputes was never fully implemented. -- Daria Sito Sucic NATO SECRETARY-GENERAL IN MACEDONIA. Javier Solana, at the beginning of his two-day visit to Macedonia, met with President Kiro Gligorov, Premier Branko Crvenkovski, Foreign Minister Ljubomir Frckovski, and Defense Minister Blagoj Handziski to discuss the situation in the Balkans and NATO enlargement, Nova Makedonija reported on 25 March. Solana noted Macedonia's "very positive" contribution to NATO's Partnership for Peace program but did not comment on Skopje's desire to join NATO. Solana said he and Gligorov did not discuss the possibility of replacing UNPREDEP forces currently stationed in Macedonia with NATO troops. Solana's visit is the first by a NATO secretary-general to Macedonia. -- Stefan Krause ROMANIAN FOREIGN NEWS. Prime Minister Victor Ciorbea met with his Spanish counterpart, Jose Maria Anzar, in Madrid on 24 March, Radio Bucharest reported. They discussed Romania's application for integration into NATO and the EU, which Spain supports. Later that day, he addressed a meeting of European Christian Democratic and Popular parties in Lisbon, talking on NATO's expansion to the East. Meanwhile, Foreign Minister Adrian Severin was in Brussels to attend the third session of the Romania-EU Association Council and an EU meeting on the organization's enlargement. He urged the union to open talks with all applicants at the same time, Reuters reported. Finally, Radio Bucharest reported on 25 March that former King Mihai arrived in London to begin his role as "ambassador of Romanian interests," promoting that country's admission to NATO. He met with Prince Charles and is scheduled to have lunch with Queen Elizabeth today. -- Michael Shafir ROMANIAN JOURNALISTS ACQUITTED OF OFFENDING FORMER PRESIDENT. A Bucharest court on 24 March overturned a lower court ruling whereby two journalists were found guilty of "offense to authority," RFE/RL and Romanian TV reported. Sorin Rosca Stanescu and Tana Ardeleanu had claimed that former President Ion Iliescu was recruited by the KGB while studying in Moscow in the 1950s. Stanescu, chief editor of the daily Ziua, writes today that the latest ruling is correct, but he says he is not satisfied because the Penal Code article under which he and Ardeleanu were sentenced remains valid. Stanescu challenges Iliescu to sue for libel as an individual rather than hiding behind the Prosecutor- General's Office. The prosecution has 10 days to appeal the sentence. -- Michael Shafir MOLDOVAN COMMUNISTS, SOCIAL DEMOCRATS HOLD CONGRESSES IN CHISINAU. Vladimir Voronin, leader of the Party of Moldovan Communists, addressed the party's third congress in Chisinau on 22 March, BASA-press and Infotag reported. He said the Communists should start preparing for the next elections and do their best to shorten the life of the present government. Meanwhile, the two rival wings of the Moldovan Social Democratic Party held parallel congresses in Chisinau on 22 March, Infotag and BASA-press reported. The wing led by Anatol Taran, special advisor to President Petru Lucinschi, adopted a resolution establishing a United Social Democratic Party of Moldova. The rival congress of the wing led by Oazu Nantoi appealed to center-left formations to form a coalition for the next parliamentary elections. The congress elected Andrei Turcanu chairman of the party and Nantoi chairman of its political council. -- Michael Shafir ETHNIC TURKISH FORCES TO SPLIT BEFORE BULGARIAN ELECTIONS? Almost all northern chapters of the mainly ethnic Turkish Movement for Rights and Freedom (DPS) met in Razgrad on 24 March to support the local DPS branch's proposal to form a DPS within the United Democratic Forces (ODS), Standart reported. The DPS leadership recently decided not to join the ODS, opting instead to form a Union for National Salvation (SNS) with the monarchists and other forces. Participants of the Razgrad meeting called DPS leader Ahmed Dogan's decision "disastrous" for the DPS. Ivan Kostov, leader of the Union of Democratic Forces, the biggest group within the ODS, said the ODS's door remained open to Dogan, 24 chasa noted. Meanwhile, former Tsar Simeon II decided to openly support the SNS. Just two weeks earlier, Simeon indirectly called on his followers to vote for the ODS. -- Stefan Krause [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. 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 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. 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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