Absence makes the heart grow fonder. -
OMRI DAILY DIGEST

No. 33, Part II, 15 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

SEJM SPEAKER AGREES TO FORM GOVERNMENT . . .  Jozef Oleksy of the
Democratic Left Alliance (SLD) has confirmed his readiness to form a
government, Gazeta Wyborcza reports. A statement issued on 14 February
after eight-hour coalition talks said the two parties have agreed on a
joint program and the division of ministerial posts. Oleksy is to begin
talks with individual candidates on 15 February. SLD leaders indicated
that party proportions in the cabinet would remain roughly the same but
that only one deputy prime minister, from the Polish Peasant Party
(PSL), would be chosen (there are now three deputies). The coalition
also accepted an SLD proposal to consolidate the economic ministries but
resolved to postpone any restructuring until draft legislation is
completed. Gazeta Wyborcza cites unofficial sources as reporting that
current Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Grzegorz Kolodko is
likely stay on to oversee the consolidation, if only because the
economist Dariusz Rosati was considered likely to refuse the offer. The
PSL overruled SLD proposals to give the task to former Finance Minister
Marek Borowski. -- Louisa Vinton, OMRI, Inc.

. . . BUT CONFLICT WITH WALESA LOOMS. While the coalition talks
reportedly proceeded smoothly, Oleksy failed to reach agreement with
President Lech Walesa on the three "presidential" ministries. Walesa, in
a telephone conversation on 14 February, proposed Zbigniew Okonski for
defense, Andrzej Milczanowski for internal affairs, and former deputy
foreign minister Andrzej Ananicz for foreign affairs. In an interview
with Polish Radio on 15 February, Oleksy stressed that the constitution
requires him merely "to seek the president's opinion" on the three
ministries. That opinion is non-binding, despite the practice of
previous premiers to give Walesa veto power over the three posts.
Moreover, Oleksy argued, the "constructive no-confidence vote" gives the
Sejm the power to elect a "parliamentary government" that the president
is obliged to appoint. Oleksy's interpretation is in keeping with the
spirit of Poland's "little constitution" but provides for a collision
course with the president. Walesa has consistently argued that the
constitution empowers him both to select the three "strategic" ministers
and to block the appointment of any government he does not accept. --
Louisa Vinton, OMRI, Inc.

UKRAINIAN CONSTITUTIONAL BILL ON SEPARATION OF POWERS NEARLY READY FOR
FINAL DEBATE. President Leonid Kuchma on 13 February said the special
commission drawing up a constitutional bill on the separation of powers
has nearly completed its work, Interfax-Ukraine reported on 14 February.
Kuchma, at a meeting with local authorities in the west Ukrainian city
of Lviv, said agreement must be reached on only two articles before the
bill is ready for final debate in the parliament in March. As proposed
by Kuchma, those two articles would give the president sweeping
executive powers, including the exclusive right to appoint a government
without the parliament's approval and the authority to dissolve the
legislature under certain conditions. The president said once the bill
was approved, he would give priority to reforming the country's
antiquated judicial system and creating a constitutional court to ensure
the institutional changes provided for by the bill are implemented. --
Chrystyna Lapychak, OMRI, Inc.

JOINT VENTURE TO MAKE CELLULAR PHONES IN UKRAINE. The U.S. Department of
Defense on 14 February announced that it was financially supporting a
joint venture between a U.S. company and Kommunar Production Association
of Kharkiv to manufacture cellular telephones in the Ukrainian city. The
Pentagon will provide $3.2 million in Nunn-Lugar funds for the $7
million project, with Federal Systems Group of Virginia putting up the
rest. Kommunar, with some 18,000 employees, formerly produced missile
and space guidance control systems for military satellites. This latest
conversion initiative is within the framework of a March 1994 agreement
between the Pentagon and the Ukrainian Ministry of Machine Building, the
Military-Industrial Complex, and Conversion. -- Doug Clarke, OMRI, Inc.

BELARUSIAN OPPOSITION AGAINST COLLECTIVE SECURITY PACT. The opposition
Belarusian Popular Front (BNF) has begun collecting signatures for a
petition demanding that the country's leadership denounce the CIS
Collective Security Pact, Belarusian Radio reported on 13 February. The
petition also requests that the government acknowledge the unfairness of
agreements signed with Russia, halt the building of Russian military
bases on Belarusian territory, and remove all Russian military forces
from Belarus. The BNF said that the agreements signed with Russia will
drag Belarusian servicemen into Russian military conflicts and that
Belarus will be exploited by Russia for its strategic location between
Russia and the West. -- Ustina Markus, OMRI, Inc.

OTHER NEWS FROM BELARUS. Belarusian Television reported on 13 February
that President Alyaksandr Lukashenka has signed a decree regulating the
country's external economic activities. The decree calls on the Ministry
of External Economic Affairs to formulate Belarusian policy on foreign
trade activities, and to coordinate that policy with other state and
legal bodies. Meanwhile, the Belarusian forestry industry has become
that country's first economic sector to  obtain credits from the
European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, Belarusian Radio
reported on 14 February. The EBRD has released $42 million to be used
to develop forestry technology, establish new technical manufacturing
plants for wood products, and to protect Belarusian forests against
fires and vandals. -- Ustina Markus, OMRI, Inc.

RUSSIAN FOREIGN MINISTRY ACCUSES ESTONIA OF PROVOCATION. Russian Foreign
Ministry spokesman Grigorii Karasin said on 14 February that the
resolution approved by the Estonian parliament the previous day calling
for the recognition of Chechnya is "provocative" and "irresponsible" and
will "inevitably have negative consequences for Russian-Estonian
relations," Interfax reports. But Estonian Prime Minister Andres Tarand
said his government has no intention to discuss official recognition of
Chechnya in the near future. He added that the parliament's call for
recognition could not be classified as interference in Russia's internal
affairs since "human rights abuses on a mass scale are not a state's
internal matter." -- Saulius Girnius, OMRI, Inc.

LATVIA DEPORTS KURDISH, AFGHAN REFUGEES. Latvian Interior Ministry press
secretary Normunds Belskis said most of the Afghan and Kurdish refugees
sent back to Latvia from Estonia in December during an attempt to reach
Sweden have been sent home or to West or East European countries, BNS
reported on 14 February. Belskis refused to say which countries for
reasons of "confidentiality," but he noted that some refugees have
relatives living in the West. The refugees were held in barracks in Riga
and were guarded by the Mobile Police. -- Saulius Girnius, OMRI, Inc.

NORWAY SUPPORTS LITHUANIA'S INTEGRATION INTO NATO, EU. Lithuanian
Foreign Minister Povilas Gylys, on a two-day visit to Norway, held talks
with Norwegian Prime Minister Gro Harlem Brundtland, Foreign Minister
Bjorn Tore Godal, and members of the Norwegian parliament Foreign
Affairs Committee, BNS reported on 14 February. Norwegian officials
noted that although Norway voted in a referendum not to join the
European Union, it supported Lithuania's integration into it and NATO.
The two foreign ministers signed agreements on mutual customs assistance
and an accord providing for exchange of information on nuclear
facilities and prompt notification of nuclear accidents. -- Saulius
Girnius, OMRI, Inc.

NEW LAW WILL EXTEND CZECH CURRENCY'S CONVERTIBILITY. Economic ministers
and the Czech National Bank on 14 February agreed on amendments to the
foreign exchange law that should make the koruna fully convertible later
this year, Czech media report. If approved by the cabinet and the
parliament, the measures will ease restrictions on individuals and firms
obtaining hard currency, transferring money abroad, and taking out
foreign loans. Prime Minister Vaclav Klaus said the timetable for
deregulating the koruna will depend on when the parliament adopts the
law, but he hopes it will come into effect by mid-year. Changes in
limits on the amount of koruny Czech citizens can take abroad--5,000
koruny per trip with an annual ceiling of 100,000 koruny--have yet to be
decided. -- Steve Kettle, OMRI, Inc.

MECIAR, CHERNOMYRDIN DISCUSS NATO. Russian Premier Viktor Chernomyrdin,
during the second day of his visit to Slovakia, told reporters on 14
February that Moscow fears a new division of Europe if East European
countries are admitted to NATO. He said that although Russia would not
stop Slovakia from joining NATO, he warned the organization not to
create artificial tensions in Europe. He also said he did not understand
why Slovakia wants to join the alliance "so quickly" when no danger
exists. Slovak Premier Vladimir Meciar said his discussions with
Chernomyrdin on NATO were uncontroversial and that "Russia considers
this matter our internal affair," Narodna obroda reports. The two
premiers also discussed economic issues and began preparations for a
free trade zone. Meciar asked "Why should we leave the Russian market?
It is our obligation to return back where we were," Pravda reports. With
regard to Slovakia's controversial nuclear plant now under construction
at Mochovce, Meciar said on 14 February that it will be completed even
if the EBRD fails to provide a loan. Russia and Slovakia signed an
agreement the previous day whereby Russia will provide funding,
technology, and nuclear fuel for the plant. -- Sharon Fisher, OMRI, Inc.

NEW MINISTER FOR PRIVATIZATION IN HUNGARY. The two governing parties--
the Hungarian Socialist Party and the Alliance of Free Democrats--have
agreed  to appoint a new minister without portfolio to supervise
privatization, MTI reports on 14 February. The two parties also agreed
to extend the authority of the finance minister: he will approve all
economic proposals forwarded to the government. The AFD originally
opposed creating the new post and wanted the finance minister to
supervise privatization. The extension of the finance minister's
authority was a compromise solution. The coalition partners expect to
reach agreement on the candidate for the new post later this week. --
Edith Oltay, OMRI, Inc.

SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE

U.S. OFFERS SERBIA CONDITIONAL LIFTING OF SANCTIONS. The Washington Post
and the BBC on 15 February report that the Clinton administration has
again made a major change in its policy toward the former Yugoslavia in
the hope of cobbling together a settlement before fighting resumes in
Bosnia in the spring. The new plan calls for the immediate lifting of
sanctions against Serbia and Montenegro for two months, with extensions
if President Slobodan Milosevic agrees to several conditions. Those
include recognizing the other former Yugoslav republics in their Tito-
era boundaries, tightening his dubious blockade of the Bosnian Serbs,
and pressuring Pale to accept the Contact Group's peace plan. The policy
was agreed to only after much heated discussion, with opponents fearing
that once the sanctions are lifted they will not be reimposed, even if
Milosevic flagrantly breaks any promises he makes. The Serbian president
is unlikely to agree to recognize Croatia's and Bosnia's frontiers,
since that would mean giving up hopes of a Greater Serbia that he
harbored even before starting the current war. -- Patrick Moore, OMRI,
Inc.

BOSNIAN ARMY RETAKING LOST GROUND IN BIHAC POCKET.  Radio Bosnia and
Herzegovina reported on 14 February that government forces have reversed
most, if not all, the gains the Serbs made in their counteroffensive
last fall. The broadcast claimed that the Fifth Corps has retaken the
strategic Debeljaca Hill from the Serbian forces there, which consist of
units from both Bosnia and Krajina as well as of those loyal to local
kingpin Fikret Abdic. If the reports are correct, then the government
forces now control the frontiers of the UN-declared "safe area" of
Bihac. The Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung of 15 February also notes that
the UN is trying to confirm the Bosnian claims. -- Patrick Moore, OMRI,
Inc.

WILL CROATIA AGREE TO A NEW MANDATE FOR UNPROFOR? Ever since President
Franjo Tudjman announced last month that UNPROFOR must leave Croatia
when its current mandate runs out on 31 March, there has been much
speculation as to whether his decision will stick. Some observers
suggested that he had to stand by the new policy because of domestic
political pressures. Others felt that equally strong demands from
Washington and the EU would force him to reconsider. Now Vecernji list,
Nasa Borba, and the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung on 15 February
suggest that a compromise may have been found. The reports quote Deputy
Director of the German Foreign Ministry Klaus-Peter Klaiber and the
Croatian ambassador to the US as saying that UNPROFOR may be able to
stay but under redefined conditions. Vecernji list notes that Klaiber
did not spell out what changes he had in mind and whether they would be
major or minor, but the Contact Group has reportedly made a concrete
proposal to Zagreb. The Frankfurt daily quotes Ambassador Sarcevic as
saying that "a new UN contingent for controlling the frontiers and
monitoring human rights could be accepted."  Elsewhere, Slovenia's
foreign minister told his German counterpart that he hopes UNPROFOR's
mandate can somehow be renewed but added that he understands that
Croatia cannot accept a UN presence that merely serves to protect
Serbian conquests and effectively partition the country. -- Patrick
Moore, OMRI, Inc.

SERBIAN NATIONALISTS CALL FOR UNITY AGAINST KOSOVARS. Momcilo Trajkovic,
leader of the Serbian Defense Movement for Kosmet, has called for unity
among "all political forces, regardless of party affiliation, to hinder
the [creation of a] parallel state of Albanian separatists in Kosovo and
Metohija," the state-run Borba reports on 15 February. Trajkovic alleged
that the Kosovar shadow government is harboring  a "war option." Since
the abolition of Kosovar autonomy in 1989, the Albanians have followed a
program of non-violent resistance. According to the independent Nasa
Borba, Trajkovic admitted that his organization has not yet gotten an
answer to an open letter addressed to various institutions and parties
in December calling for the creation of a "national council in which all
political parties would work out one common national program." But he
said that 40,000 people in Pristina have so far signed the letter.
Reuters reported on 13 February that Albanian President Sali Berisha
said a peace conference on former Yugoslavia, as proposed by French
Foreign Minister Alain Juppe, should discuss the Kosovo crisis and
invite the Kosovar shadow state government as that country's "legitimate
representatives." -- Fabian Schmidt, OMRI, Inc.

MACEDONIA SUFFERS HUGE LOSSES FROM EMBARGO, WANTS TALKS WITH GREECE. The
Macedonian government wants UN-brokered talks with Greece, AFP reported
on 14 February. Foreign Minister Stevo Crvenkovski said Macedonia favors
dialogue, but only under UN auspices. Dimitar Bercev of the Foreign
Ministry's economic desk revealed that the Greek trade embargo, which
was implemented one year ago, has cost Macedonia about $500 million.
Macedonia has been forced to reroute its trade through Albania and
Bulgaria since Greece closed Thessaloniki harbor to Macedonian imports
and exports. A ton of oil imported earlier via Greece cost $19; it now
costs $57 via the Bulgarian port of Burgas. -- Stefan Krause, OMRI, Inc.

ROMANIAN OPPOSITION PROTESTS DISMISSAL OF MAYORS. Seventy-one opposition
deputies on 14 February tabled a motion expressing  "deep concern" over
what was described as the government's massive dismissal of local mayors
and councilors and requesting their reinstatement until court decisions
are taken on a case-by-case basis.  In a communique released the same
day and broadcast by Radio Bucharest, the government admitted that 133
mayors and 98 councilors have been dismissed over the last two years.
But it noted that the dismissals were warranted on such grounds as
corruption and abuse of office. The government also rejected
accusations that those personnel changes were directed against the
opposition, pointing out that some of those dismissed belonged to the
ruling Party of Social Democracy in Romania. -- Dan Ionescu, OMRI, Inc.

BUCHAREST ON TIES WITH CHISINAU. The Romanian government, in a 14
February statement, has provided details of Premier Nicolae Vacaroiu's
forthcoming official visit to the neighboring Republic of Moldova. The
visit, scheduled for 20 and 21 February, is to take place at the
invitation of Moldovan Premier Andrei Sangheli. The statement said the
visit will offer the opportunity to analyze in depth "ties between the
Republic of Moldova and Romania and prospects for economic integration
and consolidation of the common cultural and spiritual space" of the two
countries. The Romanian delegation will include Foreign Minister Teodor
Melescanu, Transportation Minister Aurel Novac, and other senior
government officials. -- Dan Ionescu, OMRI, Inc.

GREECE TO AGREE TO EU-TURKEY AGREEMENT? Greek government spokesman
Evangelos Venizelos said on 13 February that Athens will probably sign a
customs union agreement between the EU and Turkey, but only if several
points are cleared up first, Reuters reported the same day. Greece last
week drew criticism from most of its EU partners for saying it would
veto the union. The Greek government has linked the customs union issue
to EU membership talks with Cyprus. It is also demanding that less money
be offered to Turkey to implement the  union and that Greece receive
more compensation for potential losses sustained by its textile
industry. Turkish Foreign Minister Murat Karayalcin said his country
hopes to overcome Greek objections, but not at too high a price.
Meanwhile, the other EU members rejected most of Greece's conditions,
AFP reported on 14 February. -- Stefan Krause, OMRI, Inc.

[As of 1200 CET]

Compiled by Jan Cleave

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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