Every custom was once an eccentricity; every idea was once an absurdity. - Holbrook Jackson
OMRI DAILY DIGEST

No. 32, Part II, 14 February 1995

This is Part II of the Open Media Research Institute's Daily Digest.
Part II is a compilation of news concerning East-Central and
Southeastern Europe. Part I, covering Russia, Transcaucasia and Central
Asia, and the CIS, is distributed simultaneously as a second document.

EAST-CENTRAL EUROPE

POLISH COALITION AGREES ON PROGRAM . . . Leaders of the Democratic Left
Alliance (SLD) and the Polish Peasant Party (PSL) announced after
meetings on 13 February that they reached agreement on the basic aims of
the new government to be headed by Sejm speaker Jozef Oleksy,
Rzeczpospolita reports. They are: to maintain economic growth on the
basis of the "Strategy for Poland" (drafted by current Deputy Prime
Minister and Finance Minister Grzegorz Kolodko); to reform the public
administration and strengthen local government; to streamline social
welfare policy; and to take active steps towards Poland's integration
into European structures. The only specific detail agreed upon, however,
was the appointment of a government press spokesman (the SLD has long
lamented Prime Minister Waldemar Pawlak's lack of skillful public
relations). Oleksy told reporters not to expect any "revolutionary
reversal" from the new government as, he argued, Pawlak continued the
reform process without "ruining anything in an obvious fashion."
* Louisa Vinton

. . . BUT OLEKSY STILL HESITATES. Oleksy also cautioned that he has
still not decided whether to undertake the task of forming a government,
and again hinted that the president's signing of the 1995 budget is a
precondition. New sources of disagreement between the coalition partners
are emerging daily. The SLD has proposed using the government overhaul
to consolidate the economic ministries and create a new "state
treasury," but the PSL opposes this idea as premature. The PSL wants
most of the SLD economic ministers ousted, and former Justice Minister
Aleksander Bentowski (PSL) argued that only two ministers from the
outgoing cabinet should remain in office. Many SLD activists favor
removing Kolodko on the grounds that he is "difficult" and replacing him
with the economist Dariusz Rosati, whose candidacy for the finance
ministry was vetoed by President Lech Walesa early in 1994. Labor
Minister Leszek Miller (SLD) told reporters in Lodz on 13 February that
the SLD may also demand control of the Senate speaker's post, currently
occupied by Adam Struzik of the PSL. SLD leaders admitted on 13 February
that the coalition was unlikely to propose a constructive no-confidence
vote before the Sejm's 1-3 March session. * Louisa Vinton

NATO DELEGATION IN KIEV. A NATO delegation headed by the Chairman of its
Military Committee, Field Marshall Richard Vincent, arrived in Kiev on
13 February for meetings with Ukrainian Defense Minister Valerii
Shmarov, Chief of Staff Anatolii Lopata, and other defense officials,
Ukrainian television reported. After the meetings, Shmarov told
reporters that the expansion of NATO was discussed, that Ukraine's non-
aligned status is the right policy at this juncture and that the issue
of NATO's expansion is a very complex problem which could lead to
confrontation. "Today it would not be right to enlarge the circle of
NATO countries," international agencies quoted Shmarov as saying.
Vincent said NATO has no plans for early expansion, adding, "It is
something that has to take place in a constructive and evolutionary
manner." * Ustina Markus and Michael Mihalka

UPDATE ON UKRAINE'S MILITARY REFORMS. Ukrainian radio reported on 13
February that the country's armed forces are to be reduced by a further
60-65,000 this year because of insufficient funding for the military.
According to the head of the financial-economic department of Ukraine's
armed forces, Major General Hryhorii Kukharsky, the military received
only 16.9% of the funds in required for 1995. These funds, Kukharsky
said, will only cover the military's grocery bills. * Ustina Markus

CHORNOBYL TO REMAIN IN OPERATION. President Leonid Kuchma told a news
conference on 13 February that Ukraine cannot shut down the Chornobyl
nuclear power plant until alternative energy sources are found, AFP and
Interfax-Ukraine reported on the same day. The president asked for
Western aid to help build two new modern nuclear power stations at
Slavutych, a town about 28 miles from Chornobyl that was built to
accommodate plant employees and their families evacuated after the April
1986 nuclear disaster. The G-7 group of leading industrialized nations
have withheld offers of badly-needed financial aid to Ukraine until it
agrees to shut down the two remaining operating reactors at Chornobyl,
which they say are unsafe and endanger Europe. Heavily dependent on
Russia and other CIS states for energy supplies, Ukraine has been
experiencing an energy crisis and has begun to rely more on its five
nuclear power plants. The Ukrainian government has said it needs to keep
Chornobyl in operation until the end of the decade because it provides
7% of the country's energy and employs 7,000 people. Mikhail Pavlovski,
chairman of the Parliament's nuclear policy commission, said the West
should help finance the construction of the new reactors, which would
cost around $7 billion. * Chrystyna Lapychak

BALTIC PRIME MINISTERS MEET IN RIGA. Prime Ministers Adolfas Slezevicius
(Lithuania), Maris Gailis (Latvia), and Andres Tarand (Estonia) met in
Riga on 13 February and adopted the Baltic Council of Ministers' action
plan for 1995 that envisions joint activities in defense, environmental
protection, and harmonization of laws, BNS reports. They founded four
new committees: Information Technology, Culture, Customs, and Border
Guarding to supplement the council. The premiers also adopted
resolutions on the Via Baltica roadlink and on the establishment of the
Baltic Customs Union by 1 January 1998. They failed, however, to sign an
anticipated trilateral agreement on agricultural trade. Lithuania will
take over from Latvia the rotating presidency of the council on 1 July.
* Saulius Girnius

ESTONIAN PARLIAMENT BACKS CHECHNYA RECOGNITION. The Estonian parliament
on 13 February by a vote of 50-0 called for the recognition of Chechnya
"at the first available opportunity as soon as the international
situation makes it possible," Reuters and Interfax report. The
resolution criticized international organizations for their inability to
react swiftly to human rights violations during the Chechnya campaign.
It views Russia's military operations in Chechnya as a violation of the
Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe Code approved by the
December 1994 summit meeting in Budapest. The parliament also called on
its Russian counterpart to end "the Moscow-waged war in Chechnya and
ensure the quickest return of refugees to their places of permanent
residency." * Saulius Girnius

COMMUNIST MINISTER RELEASED FROM JAIL. Czechoslovakia's last communist
Interior Minister, Frantisek Kincl, was released from jail on
13 February after serving 19 months of a three-year sentence for abuse
of power. In agreeing to release him early, a court in Brno put Kincl on
two years probation, Czech media report. Kincl was sentenced in October
1992, along with two other senior officials, for organizing special
police actions against dissidents and demonstrators in 1988 and 1989.
His deputy Alojz Lorenc, who acted as head of the communist security
services, has yet to serve his sentence; since the break-up of
Czechoslovakia, decisions of Czech courts are not valid in Slovakia,
where Lorenz lives. Last week, Czech authorities handed over the court
files on Lorenz to their Slovak counterparts with a request that he be
tried there. * Steve Kettle

RUSSIAN PREMIER IN SLOVAKIA. Russian Premier Viktor Chernomyrdin began a
two-day official visit to Slovakia on 13 February to meet with his
Slovak counterpart Vladimir Meciar, President Michal Kovac, parliament
chairman Ivan Gasparovic as well as business representatives, Slovak and
international media report. Twelve agreements were signed on the first
day of the visit, covering such issues as trade; cooperation in culture,
education, science and technology; legalization of employment in the
other country; cooperation in nuclear energy and in the production of
aircraft; and provisions for visa-free visits. Russian-Slovak debt
settlement as well as Slovakia's large trade deficit with Russia are
major issues of bilateral concern, as is Russia's opposition to
membership of former Soviet bloc countries in NATO. On 11 February, the
Russian-Slovak intergovernmental commission for coop- eration in trade,
economy, science and technology concluded a three-day session, led by
Slovak Deputy Premier and Finance Minister Sergej Kozlik and Russian
Deputy Premier Yuri Yarov, during which several agreements were
finalized for signature by the two countries' premiers. After the
meeting Kozlik said Russia would invest $150 million in materials, fuel
and credit to assist Slovakia in completing its controversial nuclear
power plant at Mochovce, AFP reported. Chernomyrdin is expected to visit
Warsaw on 17-18 February despite political uncertainty there. * Sharon
Fisher

HORN SAYS NATO MEMBERSHIP POSSIBLE IN 1996. Hungarian Prime Minister
Gyula Horn said during his visit last week to Brussels that Hungary
could become a member of NATO as early as 1996, Reuters reports on 14
February. "The relevant NATO decision, even if of merely orientational
character, could come at the end of this year or in the first half of
next year." Horn said. "In this case it is not completely excluded that
we will be members of the North Atlantic Organisation as early as 1996."
NATO is expected to complete its year-long study on the requirements for
membership in December. Horn said meeting the European Union's
requirements would be tougher and only under an optimistic scenario
would Hungary join before the year 2000. * Michael Mihalka

GROWING PUBLIC DISSATISFACTION WITH HUNGARIAN GOVERNMENT. An opinion
poll, conducted by the National Marketing Institute in the week
following the resignation of Finance Minister Laszlo Bekesi, registered
for the first time since September 1994 a significant drop in public
satisfaction with the work of the government, Nepszava reports on
14 February. Public satisfaction with the government's work, which was
not high to begin with, dropped by 6% to 26 points on a scale of 100,
and trust in the government dropped by 7% to 35 points. The poll showed
that the president of the republic continues to enjoy the highest public
trust with 68 points followed by the Constitutional Court with 55
points. * Edith Oltay

SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE

MORE SERB FLIGHTS - THIS TIME NEAR TUZLA. The 14 February Frankfurter
Allgemeine Zeitung reports that UN personnel have observed yet more
flights over Bosnia in recent days by "Serbian combat aircraft," this
time around Tuzla. Previously, Serbian helicopters and airplanes had
been detected in the Bihac and Srebrenica areas. The UN reported its
findings to NATO headquarters in Naples, but the Atlantic Alliance once
again claimed to have found no trace of the Serbs on its radar screens.
* Patrick Moore

MORE REINFORCEMENTS FOR SERBS IN BIHAC POCKET. News agencies on 13
February noted that some 1,000 Serb fighters have arrived in northwest
Bosnia from Krajina. It is not clear whether they are Croatian Serbs
coming to help their allies or Bosnian Serbs who have been training in
Krajina. In any event, this and other developments underscore the close
connection between the Bosnian and Croatian Serb forces, the Frankfurter
Allgemeine Zeitung says on 14 February. Meanwhile, UN officials warn of
growing starvation in Bihac, with the most vulnerable already dying and
even the better off now in danger. * Patrick Moore

US SOURING ON THE CONTACT GROUP? The 14 February Washington Post reports
that US envoy Charles Thomas will leave his full time position as
representative to the Contact Group and will be replaced by a part-time
appointee. Thomas will concentrate instead on helping reinforcing the
Croat-Muslim alliance. Thomas was active in recent direct negotiations
with Pale, which Washington has now "concluded . . . were not leading to
any productive discussion." The paper also notes that US Ambassador to
Bosnia Victor Jackovich has been reassigned to Slovenia. Jackovich was
reportedly unhappy with the Clinton administration's talking directly to
the Bosnian Serbs in violation of a UN ban on such contacts as long as
the Serbs reject the peace plan. * Patrick Moore

CRIME NEWS FROM THE YUGOSLAV AREA. War is not the only source of news in
the former Yugoslavia, and recent days have featured crime in the
limelight. The Croatian media have been reporting at length about a
weekend drug-bust, in which police confiscated some 30 kilograms of
heroin. It was one of the biggest drug seizures ever reported in
Croatia. Elsewhere, Nasa borba notes on 14 February that the Hungarian
airline Malev has sacked 11 employees for stealing money from airmail
letters being sent by citizens of rump Yugoslavia via Malev. The full
extent of the thefts is still being investigated. * Patrick Moore

SERBIAN OPPOSITION LEADERS SIGN PACT, ALLEGED WAR CRIMINALS CHARGED.
Nasa borba reports on 14 February that on the previous day opposition
leaders from the Democratic Party (DS), the Democratic Party of Serbia
(DSS), and the Serbian Radical Party (SRS), signed an agreement which
details how the opposition will cooperate in future local and
parliamentary elections. Leader of the Serbian Renewal Movement (SPO)
Vuk Draskovic has not, at least yet, signed the accord and AFP quotes
controversial SRS leader Vojislav Seselj as saying the purpose of the
pact is to effect "the overthrowing of the ruling Socialist Party and
[Serbia's President] Slobodan Milosevic, starting from the local level."
In other news, international media report that the UN tribunal for the
former Yugoslavia has issued arrest warrants for 21 Serbs, including
Omarska camp commander Zeljko Meakic, suspected of a host of war crimes
and crimes against humanity in Bosnia and Herzegovina. At present, only
one of those charged is in custody. * Stan Markotich

ROMANIAN PARLIAMENT CONDEMNS HDFR STATEMENTS. Romania's Senate on 13
February adopted by a 103-1-5 vote a declaration voicing "perplexity and
concern" over statements made by Bela Marko, chairman of the Hungarian
Democratic Federation of Romania, during a recent visit to London. The
declaration, of which large excerpts were broadcast by Radio Bucharest,
said that Marko's statements on the current status and situation of
Romania's Hungarian minority were in "evident contradiction" to reality
and were trying to "spread untruths." Marko was quoted as rejecting the
1991 Constitution's definition of Romania as a "national state" as
detrimental to ethnic minority rights. Also on 13 February, the Chamber
of Deputies adopted a separate declaration on the same issue. In another
development, a spokesman for the National Peasant Party-Christian
Democratic, one of the main forces in Romania's opposition, said on 13
February that the decision to withdraw the party's representatives from
a planned seminar on interethnic relations in Atlanta, Georgia, had been
made by NPP-CD Chairman Corneliu Coposu. The spokesman said Coposu
opposed the idea of having "a dialogue between Romanians and Hungarians
staged abroad," since "this could convey the impression of arbitration
by a foreign power." * Dan Ionescu

ROMANIAN FOREIGN MINISTER IN SYRIA, LEBANON. Romania's Foreign Minister
Teodor Melescanu started a four-day visit to Syria and Lebanon on 11
February, Radio Bucharest reports. In Damascus, Melescanu attended the
first meeting of the joint Romanian-Syrian economic cooperation
commission since 1988, and, on 12 February, co-signed a bilateral
economic cooperation agreement. On 13 February, he was received by
Syria's President Hafez al-Assad and held talks with his Syrian
counterpart Farouq al-Shara. Melescanu expressed his country's support
for Syria's call for a full Israeli withdrawal from the Golan Heights
and offered Romanian participation in a possible future peace-keeping
force to separate Syrian and Israeli troops. On the say day, he went to
Beirut for talks with high-ranking Lebanese officials, including the
president, the premier and the foreign minister. He reiterated Romania's
interest in participating in Lebanon's economic reconstruction. * Dan
Ionescu

BULGARIAN PRESIDENT VISITS US. Zhelyu Zhelev and US President Bill
Clinton on 13 February signed a declaration of principles stressing the
importance of democracy and human rights, international news agencies
reported the following day. The declaration asserts that the security of
Bulgaria and other countries in the region "is inseparably linked to
that of the United States." The signing took place during talks the
Bulgarian delegation had with Clinton, Vice President Al Gore, Secretary
of State Warren Christopher and National Security Adviser Anthony Lake.
Clinton said the US supports Bulgaria's progress towards democratic and
economic transition. He briefed Zhelev on details of a $7 million loan
program for Bulgaria to support small and medium-sized private business,
especially in rural areas. Zhelev stressed the importance of US support
for his country, while he also pointed to Bulgaria's problems caused by
UN sanctions against rump-Yugoslavia. Zhelev, who is on a three-day
visit to the US, is accompanied by Foreign Minister Georgi Pirinski,
Defense Minister Dimitar Pavlov and Deputy Prime Minister and Minister
for Economic Development Rumen Gechev. On 13 February, Zhelev met with
Defense Secretary William Perry in the Pentagon. * Stefan Krause

7,000 HOMELESS FAMILIES IN TIRANA. More than 7,000 families in Tirana
are homeless, Aleanca Nacionale reported on 14 February. The paper adds
that about 1,500 families will have to give up their flats by the end of
1995, when a restitution law takes effect. Meanwhile, the staff of
Tirana's state- run bread shops, most of whom are women, went on hunger
strike on 13 February, Populli Po reported on 14 February. The hunger
strikers are protesting against the restitution of the shops, arguing
that the delivery of cheap bread by state shops would be endangered if
too many shops have to close. The strikers also fear for their jobs.
Elsewhere, the Council of Ministers discussed issuing privatization
bonds, Rilindja reported on 14 February. The Ministry of Finance will
distribute the bonds among all Albanians who were 18 years old by 1
August 1991. Rilindja said issuing the bonds would provide "the legal
basis for a massive privatization of state enterprises." * Fabian
Schmidt

[As of 1200 CET]

Compiled by Steve Kettle

The OMRI Daily Digest offers the latest news from the former Soviet
Union and East-Central and Southeastern Europe. It is published Monday
through Friday by the Open Media Research Institute. The Daily Digest is
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