The world is my country, all mankind are my brethren, and to do good is my religion. - Thomas Paine
OMRI DAILY DIGEST

No. 50, Part II, 10 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

CRIMEAN PARLIAMENT SPEAKER REINSTATED. Serhiy Tsekov was reinstated as
chairman of the Crimean parliament in the second round of voting since
deputies forced him to resign from that post last week, Reuters and
UNIAN reported on 9 March. In a dramatic turnaround in the power
struggle between the Crimean parliament and President Yurii Meshkov, 57
of the 97 deputies present voted to re-elect Tsekov. "I shall do
everything to achieve unity, work productively and avoid mistakes,"
Tsekov told deputies after Meshkov warmly congratulated him on his
reinstatement. Tsekov was a key figure in helping the Crimean parliament
win a political tug-of-war with Meskhov last fall, when legislators
stripped the president of most of his powers. But he was pressured to
resign by the industrial lobby, which feared it would lose out on the
benefits of privatization. -- Chrystyna Lapychak, OMRI, Inc.

UKRAINIAN PARLIAMENT BEGINS REVIEW OF 1995 DRAFT BUDGET. Ukrainian
parliament commissions have begun reviewing the 1995 draft budget
submitted by the government before it is debated by the full
legislature, Interfax-Ukraine reported on 9 March. Deputy chairman of
the budget commission, Pavlo Kuznetsov, said his commission has a number
of reservations about the draft, especially regarding the projected
budget deficit. The draft aims to reduce the deficit to 7.3% of GDP (or
around 3.3% according to IMF statistics) in an effort to clinch a $1.8
billion credit from the IMF for balance-of-payments support and a
stabilization fund. The Ukrainian government has also agreed to cut
inflation and liberalize foreign trade, but the draft budget must first
be approved by the parliament. IMF chief Michel Camdessus is scheduled
to meet with members of the leftist opposition on 10 March in an effort
to persuade them to accept the draft budget. -- Chrystyna Lapychak,
OMRI, Inc.

BELARUSIAN PRIME MINISTER CRITICIZES TAX BILL. Mikhail Chyhir has
criticized a bill passed by the parliament on 3 March, Belarusian Radio
reported. The bill lifts the 25% value-added tax on goods sold outside
the country, cuts the real estate tax to 1%, and removes a 5% turnover
tax from commodities, excluding luxury goods such as furs and cars.
Chyhir said if the bill became law, state revenues would be slashed by
1.4 trillion Belarusian rubles and the national currency threatened with
collapse. He also noted that the law would allow Russian registered
firms to use Belarusian resources, which cost 15-20% less than in
Russia, and to produce and then resell their goods outside Belarus for
bigger profit. Belarus would be the only party to suffer from this
arrangement, Chyhir commented. -- Ustina Markus, OMRI, Inc.

BELARUSIAN FOREIGN NEWS. A military delegation from the People's
Republic of China arrived in Minsk on 7 March for a week-long visit,
Belarusian Television reported. The delegation was scheduled to discuss
agreements reached between China and Belarus last December and to
inspect the country's military industrial complex. In other news,
Belarusian Radio reported that a Belarusian inspection group is in
Montana--along with Russian, Ukrainian, and Kazakh groups--to ascertain
that the U.S. is reducing its nuclear arsenal in line with the START-1
agreement. -- Ustina Markus, OMRI, Inc.

FINAL ESTONIAN ELECTION RESULTS. The National Election Commission
announced on 9 March the official results of the 5 March parliament
elections, Reuters reported. Voter turnout was 545,770, or 68.9% of the
electorate. The Coalition Party and Rural Union alliance won 41 mandates
in the 101-strong parliament; the Reform Party 19; the Center Party 16;
Pro Patria and the Estonian National Independence Party union eight; the
Moderates and Our Home Is Estonia six each; and the Rightists five.
Coalition Party Chairman Tiit Vahi held talks--which he described as
"political consultations" and not coalition negotiations--with Reform
Party and Center Party Chairmen Siim Kallas and Edgar Savissar. Vahi
asked the two leaders to give him in writing the principles they aim to
adhere to in the government. -- Saulius Girnius, OMRI, Inc.

LATVIA PASSES VALUE-ADDED TAX BILL. The Saeima on 9 March passed a bill
replacing the current turnover tax by a value-added tax, BNS reported.
The bill, which will go into effect on 1 May, retains the same level of
taxation (18%). The difference between the two taxes is that both
physical and juridical entities previously exempt from taxation owing to
losses incurred must pay VAT. Farmers and fishermen who send their own
goods to processing enterprises can qualify for compensation for goods
whose raw materials purchase included VAT payment. -- Saulius Girnius,
OMRI, Inc.

LITHUANIA, ICELAND INITIAL FREE TRADE AGREEMENT. Audrius Navikas, the
director of the Lithuanian Foreign Ministry's Economics Department, and
Bjorgin Gudmundsson, director of the Icelandic Foreign Ministry's
Foreign Trade Department, initialed a free trade agreement on 9 March in
Vilnius, BNS reported. The agreement, which will become the basis for a
trade and economic cooperation accord, liberalizes fish trade and
expands ties in fishing between the two countries. -- Saulius Girnius,
OMRI, Inc.

POLAND ISSUES CAUTIOUS PROTEST AT MOSCOW CHURCH INCIDENT. The Polish
government and Foreign Ministry on 9 March issued a carefully worded
statement of concern at the forceful eviction of Catholic clergy and
parishioners from the Polish church in Moscow the previous day. Moscow
police and OMON troops attacked and beat a group of 100 parishioners who
had attempted to repossess a church on Mala Gruzinska street now
occupied by several private firms, Rzeczpospolita reported. Built by
Poles at the beginning of the century, the church was confiscated by the
state during the Stalinist period. Russian authorities failed to honor
repeated public pledges since 1990 to return the building to the Moscow
Catholic community. Four parishioners were arrested on 9 March, and one
nun was hospitalized with injures sustained from beating. In their 9
March statement, Polish officials expressed alarm at the "brutality" of
the police action, saying Poland expected both the return of the church
and a through investigation by Moscow authorities . But they were
careful to avoid demands or ultimatums. -- Louisa Vinton, OMRI, Inc.

CHURCH RESTITUTION CONTINUES TO DIVIDE CZECH CABINET. The Christian
Democratic Union-People's Party (KDU-CSL), a junior partner in the Czech
governing coalition, on 9 March sharply criticized Prime Minister Vaclav
Klaus and his Civic Democratic Party (ODS) for its alleged intransigence
over returning confiscated property to the Church. KDU-CSL spokesman
Jaroslav Orel called the ODS stance "inadmissible," Lidove noviny
reports. The ODS, the dominant partner in the coalition, recently
rejected again KDU-CSL demands that land as well as buildings
confiscated from the Church and nationalized before the communist
takeover of power in 1948 should be restituted. The issue is one of the
major long-running disputes within the coalition. Klaus told Lidove
noviny that the KDU-CSL rather than the ODS has taken an uncompromising
attitude and that his own party's view that the status quo on Church
restitution should not be changed is "fair and popular." -- Steve
Kettle, OMRI, Inc.

OPPOSITION PARTY SAYS SLOVAKIA'S BAD IMAGE IS SPREADING. Christian
Democratic Movement deputy Frantisek Miklosko warned at a press
conference on 9 March that the government's actions are damaging the
reputation of Slovakia abroad. He cited the slashing of the budget for
the president's office, attacks on the head of state, doubt surrounding
the parliament mandates of Democratic Union deputies, and other moves
that are "not always in harmony with the understanding of democracy in
the world." Miklosko further noted that television news is "sterile" and
"censured." Mikulas Dzurinda, also from the CDM, criticized the recently
approved state budget, stressing that it provides no funds to construct
apartments, highways, or hospitals but has put aside money to create a
new ministry and buy apartments for National Property Fund employees.
The party also criticized the decision to withdraw personal protection
for Constitutional Court Chairman Milan Cic, which it considers an act
of political pressure. -- Sharon Fisher, OMRI, Inc.

SLOVAK DEMONSTRATORS DEMAND RETURN OF TV SATIRES. Thousands of Slovaks
gathered in Bratislava's SNP square on 9 March to protest government
attacks on freedom of speech, Narodna obroda
reported. In particular, the demonstrators demanded the reinstatement of
three political satires taken off the air in December by Slovak
Television's new director, Jozef Darmo. The organizer of the
demonstration, Ladislav Suty, has collected over 115,000 signatures
demanding the return of the satirical programs. In related news, Narodna
obroda reports on 10 March that the Brussels-based International
Federation of Journalists has also protested the government's actions.
One IFJ representative warned that "the Meciar government is determined
to silence the critical voices in the Slovak press through the use of
economic intervention and the refusal to respect the importance of
plurality of the Slovak society." -- Sharon Fisher, OMRI, Inc.

SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE

CIA SAYS SERBS RESPONSIBLE FOR ALMOST ALL BOSNIAN ATROCITIES . . . The
New York Times on 9 March reported on a leaked CIA study of war crimes
in Bosnia that was "so sensitive . . . it was classified at 'an obscene
level.'" The survey says that the Serbs committed 90% of the atrocities
in that embattled republic and that the Serbs alone were "involved in a
systematic attempt to eliminate all traces of other ethnic groups from
their territory." The study points out that the top civilian leadership
in "Pale and perhaps Belgrade" played a key role in this deliberate
"ethnic cleansing." It concluded that the conflict is not a "civil war"
but a clear case of Serbian aggression. The article added that "to those
who think the parties are equally guilty, this report is pretty
devastating." -- Patrick Moore, OMRI, Inc.

. . . AND STATE DEPARTMENT ADMITS IT'S AUTHENTIC. U.S. spokesmen at
first avoided comment on the study, but the BBC on 10 March quotes
Assistant Secretary of State Richard Holbrooke as saying the report is
authentic. Holbrooke was the architect of January's policy of courting
Pale and was heavily involved in February's approach of wooing Belgrade.
The broadcast said Washington apparently tried to suppress the report
for fear of offending President Slobodan Milosevic and other Serbian
leaders. The New York Times article notes that the "very objective and
straightforward" study suggests that these men "could be indicted as war
criminals." -- Patrick Moore, OMRI, Inc.

SERBIAN-CROATIAN TENSIONS CONTINUE IN CROATIA. Nedjeljna Dalmacija
argues on 10 March that the international Z-4 plan for a lasting
political settlement to the Krajina conflict is the work of Croatia's
top Serbian politician, Milorad Pupovac. It compares excerpts from the
Z-4 document with one by Pupovac dated 1992. Zagreb has not rejected the
plan outright but has made it clear that it is unacceptable because it
gives the Serbs too much autonomy. Both Knin and Belgrade have refused
to talk to the Z-4 diplomats as long as Croatian President Franjo
Tudjman remains opposed to renewing UNPROFOR's mandate. Elsewhere,
Vjesnik reports on maneuvers in eastern Krajina with tanks and other
heavy weapons. -- Patrick Moore, OMRI, Inc.

ALBANIAN PRESIDENT ADVISES CROATIA TO PROLONG UN MANDATE. Albanian
President Sali Berisha said that Croatia's decision to end the UNPROFOR
mandate in its territories occupied by rebel Serbs could lead to "a
fresh war on the territory of the former Yugoslavia with unpredictable
consequences for the Balkans." Berisha expressed concern that Albania
could be drawn into a wider Balkan war but also noted some positive
developments with Greece. He said he is "convinced" that both countries
will "achieve concrete results" during the visit of Greek Foreign
Minister Karolos Papoulias to Tirana on 13 and 14 March, international
agencies reported. -- Fabian Schmidt, OMRI, Inc.

ALBANIAN DEFENSE MINISTER AGREES TO HAVE HIS IMMUNITY LIFTED. Albanian
Defense Minister Safet Zhulali has agreed to the lifting of his
parliament immunity. The opposition party Aleanca Demokratike accused
Zhulali of involvement in arms trade with various warring factions in
Bosnia and of large-scale cigarette smuggling. Zhulali has denied those
charges. Meanwhile, the Albanian parliament passed a law on 8 March
forcing politicians and public servants to publicly declare their
incomes. President Sali Berisha had decreed that measure two years
previously, but it was not enforced, international agencies reported on
9 March. -- Fabian Schmidt, OMRI, Inc.

RIVER RELIEF FOR BELGRADE? Reuters reported on 9 March that the UN
Security Council may soon grant Belgrade permission to use a Romanian
lock on the Danube while the rump Yugoslavia's is subject to "badly-
needed repairs." Since the introduction of Security Council Resolution
820 in April 1993, Romanian authorities have not been able to grant
Belgrade permission to transit their country. The report also observes
that over the past quarter century, Romania and Yugoslavia have
maintained a system of locks and power stations on the river and that
"when one country's lock was closed for periodic repairs, shipping
normally passes through the other country's system." -- Stan Markotich,
OMRI, Inc.

ROMANIAN PRESIDENT ON "PATAPIEVICI CASE." Presidential spokesman Traian
Chebeleu told a press conference that President Ion Iliescu regards
allegations that a "political police force" is being revived in Romania
as "groundless," Romanian Television reported on 9 March. Nine
intellectuals have protested the Romanian Intelligence Service's attempt
to question a neighbor of the philosopher Horia R. Patapievici, who has
published articles criticizing Iliescu. Chebeleu said a "professional
institution" like the RIS would not act in such a way as alleged in
various press reports. The president, he added, takes no interest in
"trailing {his] numerous critics." Chebeleu also said that as a matter
of principle, Iliescu was "profoundly hostile to any idea of
resuscitating any form of political police in our country." -- Michael
Shafir, OMRI, Inc.

ROMANIA RECEIVES WORLD BANK LOAN FOR SOCIAL SAFETY NET. The World Bank
has approved a $55.4 million loan to Romania to help the government
improve its social safety net, Radio Bucharest reported on 8 March. The
credit is part of a $95 million package to help the Romanians process
the increasing number of unemployment benefit claims, develop a flexible
adult training system, and implement reforms in social insurance and
assistance programs. The World Bank said the reforms will include
restructuring the Ministry of Labor and Social Protection to improve the
management of pension funds and to develop a more efficient system of
cash benefits. In other news, Secretary-General of the Western European
Union Jose Cutilheiro on 9 March arrived in Romania to monitor the
enforcement of UN sanctions against the rump Yugoslavia, Radio Bucharest
reported. He visited the port of Calafat, on the River Danube, where UN
observers are located. -- Michael Shafir, OMRI, Inc.

BULGARIAN PRESIDENT BLOCKS LAW ON EX-COMMUNIST ACADEMICS. Zhelyu Zhelev
on 9 March rejected a parliament decision lifting a ban on former
leading communists holding top academic posts, Reuters reported the same
day. The parliament's 23 February decision overturned a law passed in
1992 under which former senior communist officials could not hold posts
in governing bodies of universities, research institutes, and the
Central Examination Board. Bulgarian newspapers on 10 March cite Zhelev
as saying that the new law violates the autonomy of academic
institutions. This is the second time Zhelev has returned a law to the
parliament for further discussion since the Socialist government took
office in January. -- Stefan Krause, OMRI, Inc.

GREEK, BOSNIAN, IRANIAN FOREIGN MINISTERS MEET IN ATHENS. Karolos
Papoulias, Ali Akbar Velayati, and Irfan Ljubijancic met in the Greek
capital on 8 March to discuss the political situation in the Balkans,
Reuters reported the same day. The top item on their agenda was how to
broker peace in Bosnia and Herzegovina before the truce there expires on
1 May. Ljubijancic said the ministers "exchanged ideas which we are
going to explore in the next few days." Papoulias announced they would
meet again in Teheran before the end of the truce. He added that he
would travel to Belgrade in the next several days to inform Serbian
President Slobodan Milosevic of their initiative but gave no details. --
Stefan Krause, OMRI, Inc.

"MR. BALKANS" LEAVES POLITICAL SCENE. Konstantinos Karamanlis, one of
the trailblazers of Balkan cooperation and of Greece's integration into
Europe, retired from political life on 9 March, Reuters reported the
same day. Karamanlis stepped down from the post of president one day
after the election of Kostis Stephanopoulos as his successor.
Karamanlis, born in 1907, was prime minister from 1955-1963 and from
1974-1980, after the collapse of the military dictatorship. He is
regarded as a symbol of Greece's transition to democracy. He was state
president from 1980-1985 and again from 1990-1995. During his first term
as prime minister, important progress was made in the field of
cooperation between Greece and its neighbors. During his second term,
Karamanlis was active in Balkan diplomacy and negotiated Greece's
membership in the European Community, which took effect in 1981. --
Stefan Krause, 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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