If we are to live together in peace, we must first come to know each other better. - Lyndon B. Johnson
OMRI DAILY DIGEST

No. 48, Part II, 8 March 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

EAST EUROPEANS SKEPTICAL ABOUT THEIR FUTURE. The results of a
Eurobarometer opinion poll, released on 7 March in Brussels, show that a
majority of citizens in East-Central European countries view negatively
the political and economic developments that took place in their
countries in 1994. In none of the 18 countries surveyed were a majority
of citizens satisfied with the development of democratic institutions.
The lowest percentage of dissatisfied citizens was recorded in the Czech
Republic (53%) and the highest in Bulgaria (91%). Since the previous
Eurobarometer poll, the number of people who hope their country will
gain membership in the European Union has doubled to 36%. Paradoxically,
the lowest percentages of citizens who view the EU positively were
registered in those countries whose governments are most actively
striving for EU membership--Hungary (32%), the Czech Republic (34%), and
Poland (42%). In only four countries--the Czech Republic, Slovenia,
Albania, and Estonia--were more than half of the poll's respondents
convinced that the situation in their countries is improving. The market
economy is viewed most favorably in Romania (71%) and Albania (67%). The
Eurobarometer poll was commissioned by the European Union. -- Jiri Pehe,
OMRI, Inc.

EUROPEAN AGREEMENTS WITH BELARUS. Belarusian President Alyaksandr
Lukashenka, during a visit to Brussels on 6 March, signed an agreement
with the European Union aimed at improving trade and opening the way for
an eventual customs union between Belarus and the EU, Reuters reported.
Once the accord is ratified by the European parliament and its 15 member
states, Belarus is to be offered most-favored-nation status and
restrictions on its exports will be removed. Belarusian Television
reported the same day that the Belarusian Cabinet of Ministers has
empowered Deputy Prime Minister Syarhei Linh to sign an agreement with
Great Britain and Northern Ireland on taxation. The agreement is
intended to prevent double taxation on income and savings. -- Ustina
Markus, OMRI, Inc.

INFLATION IN ESTONIA AND LITHUANIA. The Estonian State Statistics Office
has announced that the consumer price index increased by 2.9% in
February, or 0.6% less than in January, BNS reported on 7 March. The
price of goods grew by 3.0% (food by 4% and consumer goods by 1.3%) and
services by 2.8%. Meanwhile, Kestutis Zaborskas, the head of the
Lithuanian Statistics Department, said inflation was 3.9% in February,
or 1.8% down on January, RFE/RL's Lithuanian Service reported. The price
of margarine, which Lithuania does not produce and imports primarily
from Sweden, increased by 24%. The increase was due to the decision to
place higher import duties on Swedish goods after it joined the European
Union. -- Saulius Girnius, OMRI, Inc.

SWEDISH FERRY DECIDES TO RETAIN LINKS WITH ESTONIA. The Swedish ferry
company Nordstrom & Thulin AB announced on 7 March that it was reversing
its earlier decision to stop services between Sweden and Estonia,
Reuters reported. The company, together with the state-owned Estonian
Shipping Company, operated Estline, whose ferry "Estonia" sank off the
coast of Finland on 28 September 1994, resulting in more than 900
deaths. This tragedy prompted the company to end ferry services between
the two countries, but at the urging of the Estonian authorities, it
decided to retain the Stockholm-Tallinn ferry link. -- Saulius Girnius,
OMRI, Inc.

LATVIAN PARLIAMENT DEPUTY SECRETARY OFFERS RESIGNATION. Zigurds Tomins,
a member of the Farmers' Union, issued a statement on 7 March urging the
parliament to release him from his duties as Presidium member and
parliament deputy secretary, BNS reported. Tomins said the reasons for
his resignation were an incident in Washington and "the subsequent
biased media campaign casting a shadow on the prestige and honor of a
parliament official and member of parliament." Tomins was detained on 5
February by the police over an argument with an American woman who
claimed Tomins had assaulted her. Tomins insisted he was the victim, and
the U.S. authorities later dropped all charges. -- Saulius Girnius,
OMRI, Inc.

POLISH GOVERNMENT DECLARES WAR ON CRIME. Prime Minister Jozef Oleksy, at
a meeting of key ministers in the new Polish government, declared war on
"all forms of crime," Polish media reported on 7 March. A spokesman for
Oleksy told the media that internal security issues will be the top item
on the new cabinet's agenda when it meets for its first regular session.
According to the spokesman, the government intends to target organized
crime in particular. He said Oleksy is planning to set up a special
commission whose main task will be dealing with organized crime. The
spokesman also said that Polish cities have experienced a wave of bomb
explosions and assassination attempts--as a result of intensified
conflicts among various organized criminal gangs. The motives are not
political, the spokesman commented. Rather, the gangs usually target
either businessmen who cannot or will not pay "protection" money or
members of other gangs. -- Jiri Pehe, OMRI, Inc.

GERMAN DEFENSE MINISTER SAYS POLAND TO BE AMONG FIRST NEW NATO MEMBERS.
Volker Ruehe on 7 March said Poland will be among the first countries to
be granted admission to NATO, AFP reported. He said that the Visegrad
countries were particularly promising candidates, adding "There will be
different speeds. Poland will certainly be in front in this." Ruehe also
noted that Poland has made considerable efforts in its political and
economic reforms and in adapting its military to NATO standards. He
hoped that Germany will soon be able to make good on German President
Roman Herzog's promise to facilitate Polish entry into NATO and the EU.
-- Michael Mihalka, OMRI, Inc.

CZECH CONSTITUTIONAL COURT TO REVIEW GERMAN CONFISCATIONS. The Czech
Constitutional Court is due on 8 March to hear a case challenging the
legality of the confiscation of property owned by Sudeten Germans
expelled from Czechoslovakia at the end of World War II, Czech media
report. Decrees issued by President Eduard Benes in exile during the war
and following his return to Prague in 1945 included ordering the
expulsion of up to 3 million Sudeten Germans without compensation; they
were termed enemies of the country and held responsible for its prewar
break-up. The case was brought before the Constitutional Court by an
ethnic German from the North Bohemian town of Liberec whose request for
the return of property expropriated from his family was refused by a
local court. Czech restitution laws provide only for the return of
property confiscated after the communist takeover in 1948. -- Steve
Kettle, OMRI, Inc.

SLOVAK PARLIAMENT PASSES 1995 STATE BUDGET. The parliament on 8 March
approved the 1995 draft budget by a vote of 83 to 52 with three
abstentions, Praca and Pravda reported. Proposals by opposition deputies
to increase funding for the Health Ministry, state health and social
insurance companies, education, and environmental protection were
rejected. The opposition also complained that the budget provides higher
subsidies for local transportation in Zilina than in Bratislava, arguing
that the results of the November 1994 local elections were a major
factor in that decision. (Slovak National Party Chairman Jan Slota was
reelected as mayor of Zilina, while Peter Kresanek, the candidate of
five centrist and rightist parties, won in Bratislava.) Meanwhile,
Christian Democratic Movement deputy Mikulas Dzurinda told Sme that the
budget offers practically no funding for public investment. Many
consider the cabinet's macroeconomic forecasts unrealistic. The budget
foresees 5% growth in GDP, 9% annual inflation, 14% unemployment, a
trade surplus, and a budget deficit of 21 billion koruny. -- Sharon
Fisher, OMRI, Inc.

SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE

UPDATE ON CROATIAN-MUSLIM JOINT COMMAND. Nasa Borba on 8 March quotes
Croatian President Franjo Tudjman as saying that the new military
agreement with Sarajevo "is not directed against any third party."
Croatian Television noted that the command will be headed by Croatian
Chief-of-Staff General Janko Bobetko and that its purpose is "the
defense of territory, borders, and population." Bosnian Foreign Minister
Irfan Ljubijancic told the BBC that the new staff is not intended for
war but for defense. He added that Bosnia fears that the current cease-
fire could lead to a de facto partition of the republic, as has happened
in Cyprus. He said he could offer no optimistic prognosis for peace. --
 Patrick Moore, OMRI, Inc.

ARKAN'S MEN READY FOR A NEW WAR. If a fresh conflict breaks out, Arkan's
Tigers are likely to be used once again as shock troops for Serbian
attacks on Croatia. Nasa Borba reports that they are ready "to defend
Krajina and Prevlaka," a strategic strip of Croatian territory running
south from Dubrovnik down to the Montenegrin border. Vjesnik, meanwhile,
says the Sarajevo-Zagreb alliance has the military advantage over the
Serbs in numbers and in training. It also notes that "the Bosnians and
Croats have been preparing for [a new war] for months." The BBC quoted
the Red Cross as saying that a new conflict could send 200,000 refugees
fleeing into Slovenia. -- Patrick Moore, OMRI, Inc.

BELGRADE TO OFFER RECOGNITION TO EX-YUGOSLAV STATES? Nasa Borba on 8
March speculates whether Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic intends to
offer recognition to states of the former Yugoslavia. In a front-page
story headlined "Milosevic Prepared to Recognize Slovenia and the
'Republic of Skopje,'" the newspaper says possible efforts to recognize
Macedonia as the "Republic of Skopje" may be aimed at appeasing
Belgrade's regional ally Greece, which is opposed to the former Yugoslav
republic's use of the name "Macedonia." The same daily also observes
that there is apparently some concrete development in bilateral
Slovenian-rump Yugoslav relations. The daily reports on a press
conference held by Slovenian Premier Janez Drnovsek the previous day at
which he said Slovenia was prepared to resolve "practical" issues with
Belgrade. He also hinted that a Ljubljana bureau will be opened in
Belgrade in "the near future." -- Stan Markotich, OMRI, Inc.

HUNGARIAN OFFICIAL SAYS PROBLEMS WITH ROMANIAN-HUNGARIAN TREATY PERSIST.
After signing the document to accompany the basic treaty with Romania,
Ferenc Somogyi, secretary of state at the Hungarian Foreign Ministry,
said there are "still problems," Radio Bucharest reported on 7 March.
Disagreement persists on issues that one side considers important and to
which the other gives lower priority, he added. Radio Bucharest quoted a
spokesman for the Hungarian Foreign Ministry who said the signing of the
document in Bucharest neither replaces the negotiations on the basic
treaty nor has relevance for those talks. Somogyi's Romanian
counterpart, Mircea Dinu, praised the document, saying it provides for a
semi-annual review of the "level of [progress in] collaboration between
Romania and Hungary." Radio Bucharest, quoting "sources close to the
Romanian delegation," said "substantial progress" was made at the
expert-level negotiations on the basic treaty in Budapest on 7 March.
The next round of negotiations at expert level are to begin in Bucharest
on 13 March. -- Michael Shafir, OMRI, Inc.

DEMIREL IN ROMANIA. Turkish President Suleyman Demirel paid a one-day
visit to Romania on 7 March, Romanian media report. He met with
President Ion Iliescu to discuss bilateral economic relations, regional
cooperation, and cooperation with European and international
organizations. Iliescu and Demirel told the press they supported any
initiative aimed at achieving a peaceful, political solution to
conflicts in the former Soviet Union, the former Yugoslavia, and the
Balkans. It was the fourth meeting between Iliescu and Demirel in the
last two years, and Demirel's second visit to Romania over the same
period. -- Michael Shafir, OMRI, Inc.

BULGARIAN SOCIALISTS PLAN TO RESTRICT LAND OWNERSHIP. The Bulgarian
Socialist Party plans to submit to the parliament an amendment to the
land law, international news agencies reported on 7 March. The amendment
will limit land owners' rights to use and sell their land and will
promote collective farming. Owners wishing to sell their land will have
to offer it first to the state, which will decide within two months
whether to purchase it at fixed prices. Only if the state decides not to
buy the land will the owner be allowed to sell it to a third party. The
amendment will allow newly formed cooperatives to inherit the best and
largest plots from the abolished communist collective farms. Deputies
from the Union of Democratic Forces said they will go to the
Constitutional Court if the amendment is approved. They argue that the
planned amendment infringes the constitution, which states that "private
property is inviolable." -- Stefan Krause, OMRI, Inc.

BULGARIAN GOVERNMENT LIFTS TAX DEMAND ON SOCIALIST PARTY. The Socialist-
led government on 6 March overturned a state demand that the Bulgarian
Socialist Party, the successor to the communist party, pay around $2
billion in outstanding taxes, AFP reported the following day. Government
spokesman Nikola Baltov said the decision is one of the government's
measures aimed at overturning anti-communist legislation passed by the
Union of Democratic Forces government in 1991-92. The UDF government led
by Filip Dimitrov froze the BSP's accounts in 1991 and demanded payment
of 2.2 billion leva in taxes and another $700 million allegedly spirited
away by the Communists in various state budgets from 1954-1989. UDF
Chairman Ivan Kostov was quoted by Demokratsiya on 8 March as saying
that the government is attempting to conceal "the dark side" of the
communist party's finances. -- Stefan Krause, OMRI, Inc.

ALBANIAN TRADE UNIONS DEMAND GOVERNMENT'S RESIGNATION. The National
Council of the Trade Union Confederation has called for the government
to resign, Populli PO reported on 8 March. The trade unions claim that
the government has taken no measures to raise wages and pensions in the
three years since it came to power. They also note that Albanian prices
have risen tenfold on average, while the wages and pensions have
increased only threefold. -- Fabian Schmidt, OMRI, Inc.

ALBANIAN RADIO ENDANGERED BY VANDALISM. Albanian TV and Radio broadcasts
are endangered in more than one-third of Albania because of robbery and
vandalism at transmitter stations, Gazeta Shqiptare reported on 8 March.
Over the past two years, 76 such cases have been reported. The director-
general of Albanian TV and Radio has asked the government to cover the
costs for reconstruction, estimated at about $500,000. Meanwhile, it is
reported that Tirana will have its own public TV and radio channel. --
 Fabian Schmidt, OMRI, Inc.

GREECE THREATENS TO BLOCK EU-TURKEY CUSTOMS UNION OVER CYPRUS . . .
Greece on 7 March again threatened to veto the customs union between EU
and Turkey, Reuters reported the same day. The Greek move came after
Ankara indicated it would annex northern Cyprus if the divided island
joined the EU. French Foreign Minister Alain Juppe said the customs
accord was "definite" and ruled out the Greek demand for an urgent
meeting on the issue. He also said the Turkish threats are "null and
void." EU officials noted that Turkey has no say in whether Cyprus
becomes an EU member. The customs union was signed on 6 March, after
Greece lifted its veto. -- Stefan Krause, OMRI, Inc.

. . . AND JOINS WEU. Greece became the tenth member of the Western
European Union on 7 March, international agencies reported. It had
applied for membership in November 1992 but had to wait for ratification
by all WEU member states. -- Michael Mihalka, OMRI, Inc.

[As of 12:00 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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