|Our main business is not to see what lies dimly at a distance, but to do what lies clearly at hand. - Thomas Carlyle|
OMRI DAILY DIGEST - No. 62, Part II, 28 March 1997
OMRI DAILY DIGEST No. 62, Part II, 28 March 1997 **Note to readers** On behalf of the analysts, editors, and archivists involved in producing the OMRI Daily Digest since its premier on 2 January 1995, we would like to thank the many thousands of regular readers that have made it a success. 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 Everyone subscribed to the OMRI Daily Digest will automatically receive RFE/RL's NewsLine beginning on 1 April. OMRI will continue to publish a monthly magazine, TRANSITIONS (see below for more information). --OMRI Publications ======================================================================== In the 4 April issue of OMRI's journal TRANSITION**: THE BALTIC STATES - Back in Europe, to Stay - Economies Show Solid Performance Despite Many Obstacles - Poland and Lithuania Look Toward a Common Future - 'Our Problems Are Europe's Problems' interview with Vytautas Landsbergis - Political Stability Through Disenfranchisement - Conflicting Claims to Victimhood in Lithuania PLUS... - RUSSIA: The Oligarchs in Charge of 'Russia, Inc.' - RUSSIA: Slow Progress on Abolition of the Death Penalty - UKRAINE: Rival Clans Mix Business, Politics, and Murder - ROMANIA: 'The People Are Ready for Change' interview with Emil Constantinescu - POLAND: Harmonizing the Discordant Right For subscription information about OMRI's new monthly, send an e-mail message to transition-DD@omri.cz Note: Transition is not available electronically **See important message below on the upcoming changes to TRANSITION ======================================================================== CENTRAL AND EASTERN EUROPE UKRAINIAN PRESIDENT ON CIS. While in Moscow attending a CIS summit, Leonid Kuchma told reporters that the future of the CIS depended on Russia, Ukrainian radio and ITAR-TASS reported on 27 March. He said this was because Russia was the only country which enjoyed privileges within the CIS; other members were less "comfortable" in the organization. Kuchma also said he was in favor of prolonging Russia's leadership of the CIS for one more year, but not permanently. Currently, Kuchma felt there was no other CIS state which could fulfill the leadership role, and called for developing CIS integration along the European model. But he said he was dissatisfied with CIS activities, since there were none. The structure of the CIS was amorphous, and its member states have split up into separate camps that work more effectively than the CIS. On the subject of the Black Sea Fleet, Kuchma said Ukraine was ready to compromise and felt the issue should be separated from the wider treaty of friendship and cooperation between Russia and Ukraine, which he said should be signed as soon as possible. -- Ustina Markus U.S. ASKS NEW BELARUSIAN AMBASSADOR NOT TO COME. In an ongoing diplomatic feud between the U.S. and Belarus, U.S. authorities asked the newly appointed Belarusian ambassador, Valery Tsepkalo, not to come, international agencies reported on 27 March. A U.S. embassy spokeswoman, Janet Demetry, said that Tsepkalo's arrival to Washington "is not appropriate at this time in connection with the recent expulsion of the U.S. embassy first secretary" earlier this week. The American diplomat was declared persona non grata after he was detained during an anti- president demonstration with some 70 other people. The Belarusian Foreign Ministry, meanwhile, issued a statement protesting the U.S. decision to expel Vladimir Gramyka, first secretary of the Belarusian embassy in Washington, in retaliation. The statement confirmed Belarus's readiness to develop bi-lateral relations on the basis of mutual respect, but ruled out any intervention in its domestic affairs, RFE/RL reported. -- Sergei Solodovnikov ESTONIAN FOREIGN MINISTER MEETS ALBRIGHT. U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright told Toomas Ilves in Washington on 27 March that even after its Madrid summit meeting in July, NATO will remain open to all European democracies that are able to contribute to its goals, Reuters reported. The Washington Post noted that the Clinton administration is offering to negotiate a security agreement with the three Baltic states to ease their security concerns. Ilves said that Russia's objections should not prevent Estonia from ever joining NATO for a country should not "give up its aspirations to freely join an organization simply because its neighbor objects." Albright added that the first countries accepted to NATO will not be the last. -- Saulius Girnius LATVIAN PRESIDENT VISITS FINLAND. Guntis Ulmanis made a short trip to Helsinki on 26 March to discuss with Finnish counterpart Martti Ahtisaari the results of the recent Russian-U.S. summit meeting and Latvian-Finnish relations, BNS reported. Ulmanis noted that the summit had not resulted in the redivision of Europe or the creation of "gray zones" and the Russian stance on the admission of the Baltic states into NATO had softened. The presidents agreed that Russian President Boris Yeltsin's offer of security guarantees to the Baltic states "is sooner a symbolic statement ... than an offer to directly guarantee Latvia's security." Ulmanis reaffirmed that NATO membership remains Latvia's strategic goal and feels that "the door to NATO is open for those who want it." -- Saulius Girnius POLES READY TO SAVE GDANSK SHIPYARD. Polish Vice Prime Minister and Finance Minister Marek Belka said recently that the Gdansk shipyard has over $130 million in debts, Rzeczpospolita reported on 28 March. The controversy is still not resolved whether the prospective buyer will be responsible for the debt. The Solidarity trade union recently started to distribute shares valued from $1.6 to $33 in a public collection of funds to save the shipyard. The lowest valued shares--up to $3--are the most popular. Every third respondent declared his readiness to buy a share, according to a public opinion poll conducted on 22 and 23 March by Social Research Bureau and published by Rzeczpospolita on 28 March. Supporters of the opposition Solidarity Electoral Action and Movement for Poland's Reconstruction are the most inclined to buy shares, while 90% of the co-ruling Democratic Left Alliance followers would not spend a penny for the shares. -- Jakub Karpinski CZECH COALITION, OPPOSITION CLASH OVER STATE BUDGET. The lower chamber of the Czech parliament approved on 28 March a report on the state budget delivered by Finance Minister Ivan Kocarnik, Czech media reported. Opposition Social Democratic party chairman and parliament speaker Milos Zeman called the country's economic situation "critical" and demanded that Kocarnik resign. The budget showed a deficit of 8 billion crowns ($280 million) for the first months of 1997. It was originally envisaged to be balanced. -- Jiri Pehe SLOVAKIA CONCLUDES FIRST ROUND OF DEFENSE ON DAM DISPUTE. Slovakia on 27 March completed its presentation on the Gabcikovo dam controversy to the International Court of Justice in The Hague, TASR reported. Slovakia's arguments in its dispute with Hungary focused mainly on international law, legal succession, and international responsibility. Over the four days of its defense, the Slovak team called forward a number of Western experts. Peter Tomka, who heads Slovakia's delegation, expressed his conviction that his team's arguments were persuasive and understandable from the standpoint of the environment and of international law. The Hague judges will visit Gabcikovo and Nagymaros on 1-4 April to conduct on-sight inspections. The second round of the court proceedings will continue with Hungary's presentation on 10-11 April and Slovakia's on 14-15 April. The court is expected to issue a verdict in October. -- Sharon Fisher SLOVAK FOREIGN RELATIONS UPDATE. The U.S. State Department press office has said that Washington did not make any agreement with Moscow that Slovakia or any other country should be kept out of NATO expansion, CTK reported on 27 March. Slovak Prime Minister Vladimir Meciar recently said that if Slovakia is excluded from the first wave of NATO expansion, the reason is not domestic political problems but rather "global agreements" between superpowers. In the latest U.S. government report on NATO expansion for Congress, Slovakia was mentioned together with Albania as countries that have problems respecting democratic principles. In other news, the continuing chill between Slovakia and Czech Republic has become increasingly visible. Czech Premier Vaclav Klaus on 27 March said Meciar's visit to Prague is not a priority, CTK reported. Meanwhile, Czech President Vaclav Havel noted that although Meciar is welcome in Prague, he will not like what he hears from the castle. -- Anna Siskova STRONG REACTIONS OVER HUNGARY'S DEPUTY SPEAKER'S REMARK. Agnes Nagy Maczo is under fire from fellow deputies and the Jewish community for an anti-Semitic remark made in parliament, Hungarian media reported on 28 March. In a recent speech, Maczo referred to communist-era dictator Matyas Rakosi as "that Hungarian-hating Mano Roth," stressing his Jewish origins. Maczo not only made a remark widely viewed as condemnable but was also factually wrong because Rakosi's original name was Rosenfeld, not Roth. Several bodies, including the Federation of Hungarian Jewish Communities; the parliamentary Committee on Human Rights, Minorities, and Religion; and the junior coalition party, Alliance of Free Democrats, protested the remark and want to see Maczo removed from her post. Maczo is also vice president of the opposition Smallholders Party, whose chairman, Jozsef Torgyan, said the party supports her. Torgyan described the attacks against Maczo as a "fascist initiative aimed at intimidating democratic parliamentary forces and destroying multi-party parliamentary democracy." -- Zsofia Szilagyi SUPPORT FOR EU INTEGRATION DROPS AMONG HUNGARY'S FARMERS. According to a recent poll by the Kiskunsag agricultural association, the proportion of agricultural workers and producers who approve of the country's membership in the European Union fell from 40% in 1996 to only 12% this year, Magyar Hirlap reported on 28 March. Of the 1,000 people polled, about 68% thought that the country's agricultural sector will probably weaken as a consequence of EU membership; this figure was 34% a year ago. The survey also revealed that 98% of agricultural producers have no idea how the government is preparing for membership in the EU, while 30% had not even heard of the integration process. -- Zsofia Szilagyi SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE SERBIAN WAR VETERANS STAGE BELGRADE PROTEST. Some 300 veterans of Serbia's wars in Croatia and Bosnia demonstrated outside government offices to demand their pensions and disability benefits, AFP reported on 27 March. They charge that payments are up to ten months late. While the protesters gathered outside, a delegation from the Serbian Union of Disabled War Veterans went in to see Prime Minister Mirko Marjanovic to stress their point. The men claim that the very politicians who sent them off to war are now ignoring them and their families. Spokesmen said there are 2,628 disabled veterans in Serbia plus 2,860 fatherless families dependent on disability pensions. Worst off are the 15,000 ethnic Serbs and their families from Croatia and Bosnia, who are treated as foreigners with no right to pensions or financial aid. The authorities have not given Bosnian and Croatian Serbs citizenship lest they take revenge on President Slobodan Milosevic by voting for his opponents. -- Patrick Moore ROUNDUP FROM FEDERAL YUGOSLAVIA. Elisabeth Rehn, the UN's special envoy for human rights in the former Yugoslavia, urged Belgrade to reconsider its proposed press law, AFP reported on 27 April. The measure would reinforce the nearly complete government control over the electronic media. Also in Belgrade, the Supreme Defense Council agreed to keep the military state of alert on the frontier with Albania, Nasa Borba reported on 28 April. And in Washington, the U.S. Congress has invited a delegation from the Montenegrin parliament to discuss the "disturbing news" from Montenegro. The authorities in Belgrade and their allies in Podgorica have been working against Montenegrin politicians critical of Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic and his policies. -- Patrick Moore BOSNIA WOOS INVESTORS WITH LOAN GUARANTEES. Advised and supported by the World Bank, the government of Bosnia-Herzegovina has established an Investment Guarantee Agency (IGA) to offer guarantees to foreign investors providing loans to local industries, Reuters reported on 27 March. Each IGA guarantee will be backed by an irrevocable standby letter of credit from IMG Bank of Netherlands, which holds $18 million in government funds set aside to cover losses stemming from IGA- identified risks. Investors must provide the loans to a production- related business to qualify for the guarantees. -- Daria Sito Sucic "CRISIS ATMOSPHERE" IN BOSNIAN SERB PRESIDENT'S OFFICE? Biljana Plavsic has come under attack from her party colleagues after raising questions about war profiteering and criticizing a cooperation pact between the Republika Srpska and Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, Reuters on 27 March quoted unidentified diplomats as saying. In both cases, a person indirectly criticized by Plavsic was Momcilo Krajisnik, a Serb member of Bosnia's collective presidency. While Plavsic was never a very powerful figure on the Bosnian Serb political scene, Krajisnik is one of the most influential people in the Republika Srpska. A cabinet reshuffle this month removed two ministers who were based in city of Banja Luka, where Plavsic's offices are also located, leaving her the only one there. All other Bosnian Serb government members are based in Pale, a Serb stronghold near Sarajevo. -- Daria Sito Sucic ROMANIAN PROSECUTOR FILES CHARGES AGAINST MINERS' LEADER. Romanian television on 27 March carried a lengthy interview with prosecutor Alexandru Cinteza, who on the same day filed charges against Miron Cozma, the miners' leader who rampaged Bucharest on several occasions in 1990 and 1991. The charges, however, refer only to the rampage of September 1991, which toppled the government headed by Petre Roman. No date has been set for the trial. Charges include undermining state authority, firearms violations, incitement to violence, and compromising rail safety. Cozma faces up to 15 years in jail if convicted. In an unrelated move, miners in several locations threatened to protests plans to restructure the industry and close down unproductive pits. Marin Condeescu, leader of one of the miners' union, said its 160,000 members will strike for two hours on 3 April and go on a general strike on 5 April, the daily Adevarul reports on 28 March. A representative of miners in the Motru valley said a referendum on privatization of the mines will be conducted among its 13,588 members, who, he said, in general are opposed to the intention, Curierul national reported on 28 March. -- Michael Shafir ROMANIA, GREECE SIGN AGREEMENT TO BOOST MILITARY COOPERATION. Defense Minister Victor Babiuc and his visiting Greek counterpart Tsohatzopoulos Apostolos on 27 March signed a memorandum aimed at increasing cooperation between their armed forces, Radio Bucharest reported on the same day. The memorandum focuses on cooperation in defense technology and provides for an exchange of classified and sensitive military information. Apostolos reiterated Greece's full support for Romania to enter NATO in the first wave of new members. -- Michael Shafir STATEMENT OF MEDIATORS IN TRANSDNIESTRIAN CONFLICT. Representatives of Russia, Ukraine, and the OSCE mission in Moldova, who are mediating in the Transdniestrian conflict, on 27 March released a statement saying the problems connected with the memorandum on the conflict's settlement can be overcome, Infotag reported on the same day. Yurii Karlov, Yevhen Levitsky, and Donald Johnson said in the joint statement the provisions of the memorandum (which Moldova refuses to sign, regarding it as a breach of its sovereignty) cannot contradict and should not be interpreted as a violation of existing international agreements, of the OSCE decisions--which acknowledged Moldova's territorial integrity--or of the joint Moldovan-Russian-Ukrainian declaration of 19 January 1996, which recognizes Moldovan sovereignty. The three representatives said signing the memorandum would represent but one step in the completion of the negotiating process. A more important step, involving a final settlement agreement, is to follow immediately after the memorandum is signed. -- Michael Shafir GERMAN FOREIGN MINISTER IN BULGARIA. Klaus Kinkel on 27 March paid a brief visit to Plovdiv, Trud and Reuters reported. He met with President Petar Stoyanov, interim Prime Minister Stefan Sofiyanski, and his Bulgarian counterpart, Stoyan Stalev. Kinkel signed a technical cooperation agreement and delivered a private donation of 40,000 marks ($23,650) to the regional hospital in Kazanlak. He promised German backing for Bulgaria's efforts to join NATO and the EU. Kinkel gave no timeframe, saying Bulgaria is "welcome in the [EU] as soon as possible." He also pledged German support at the upcoming meeting of the G-24 industrialized countries. Kinkel warned that measures to recover Bulgaria's economy will be painful but are inevitable. -- Stefan Krause MASS POLICE ACTION IN BULGARIA, TOP MANAGEMENT DISMISSAL. Following an order by Interior Minister Bogomil Bonev on 28 March, police in a high- profile action on Sofia's streets seized cars worth more than $59,000, RFE/RL and national media reported. Sofia is one of the biggest stolen- car markets in Eastern Europe. Police beat 4 people and seized 700 cars according to Novinar, but Duma cited Bonev saying that their were 78. Media attribute a possible political motivation to the action, as parliamentary elections are due in three weeks and the former Socialist government was allegedly implicated in corruption. -- Maria Koinova ALBANIAN VILLAGE CLASH LEAVES 18 DEAD. At least 18 died in the southern village of Levan, which broke out after an armed gang killed the village chief, AFP reported on 28 March. Most of the dead were gang members, apparently on a looting raid. Meanwhile, the Albanian parliament issued a general amnesty for 600 of the 1,309 prisoners who escaped from jail, and a partial amnesty for 150 more. Justice Minister Spartak Ngjela said that prisoners who returned on their own accord would have their sentences reduced by one-third. Those serving life imprisonment would have their sentence cut to 20 years. Those imprisoned for murder, rape, genocide, corruption, or organized prostitution are excluded from the amnesty. -- Fabian Schmidt UN SECURITY COUNCIL HESITATES ON MILITARY MANDATE. The UN Security Council met informally late on 27 March on Italy's request, but failed to issue a mandate for international troops to protect aid convoys to Albania, Reuters reported. Most delegations were in favor of endorsing a multinational force but hesitated on giving quick approval without details on its mandate, its duration and who would pay. The UN also said it needed a formal request from Albania. Italy, which is expected to lead such an operation, asked the council to meet during the three-day holiday weekend when the UN is officially closed. France, Portugal, Spain, Greece, Turkey, Romania, and Austria also have expressed a willingness to send troops. Italy has estimated about 2,500 personnel would be deployed initially, with another 2,500 in reserve. If authorized, the troops' status will be similar to the U.S.-led operation to expel Iraqi troops from Kuwait in which the UN gave the operations international legitimacy without organizing the missions. -- Fabian Schmidt FIFTEEN MORE KOSOVAR ALBANIANS CHARGED WITH TERRORISM. Prosecutors charged fifteen Kosovo Albanians with terrorism on 27 March, AFP reported. They are accused of membership in the Kosovo Liberation Army, suspected of having killed over 20 people since early 1996. Three of the accused, Besim Rama, Avni Nura, and Idriz Aslani, were arrested late last year. The other 12 are still being sought. The charges against those arrested also relate to attacks on army and police property between 1992 and 1996 in which four people were killed and 16 wounded. So far this year, police have arrested 66 Albanians suspected of "terrorist organization" membership. Eighteen of them were charged on 21 March. Defense lawyers have raised doubts about the validity of those charges. -- Fabian Schmidt [As of 12:00 CET] Compiled by Valentina Huber *^!*^!*^!*^!*^!*^!*^!*^!*^!*^!*^!*^!*^!*^!*^!*^!*^!*^!*^!*^!*^!*^!*^!*^! 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. 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