Each friend represents a world in us, a world possibly not born until they arrive, and it is only by this meeting that a new world is born. - Anaiis Nin
OMRI DAILY DIGEST

No. 55, Part II, 17 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

SLOVAKIA, HUNGARY AGREE ON BILATERAL TREATY... Vladimir Meciar and Gyula
Horn, meeting on 16 March in Bratislava, agreed on the wording of the
Slovak-Hungarian basic treaty, Pravda reported. Meciar said progress had
been made toward the "strengthening of trust, cooperation, and friendship
between our states and nations." Horn seconded Meciar's statement, saying
that "to each question we found a responsible solution. What I consider
to be particularly important [is that] the basic agreement meets European
norms and requirements." The Hungarian premier also expressed
satisfaction that the treaty will be signed on 20 March in Paris, before
the EU Conference on the Pact of Stability opens in Paris on 20 March. He
said this will demonstrate that it is possible in Central Europe to reach
an agreement without the use of weapons and to create peaceful conditions
for relations between states. The text of the agreement is being reviewed
by experts on 17 March, and for that reason further details were not
revealed. -- Sharon Fisher, OMRI, Inc.

...WHILE HUNGARY, ROMANIA CONTINUE TO DISAGREE. Hungarian Foreign
Minister Laszlo Kovacs and his Romanian counterpart, Teodor Melescanu,
failed to bridge differences of opinion over the text of a bilateral
treaty when they met in Budapest on 16 March, MTI and Western news
agencies report. Hungarian minority rights were the chief stumbling block
to reaching an agreement. Hungary wants to incorporate in the treaty a
1993 Council of Europe recommendation foreseeing "local or autonomous
authorities or a special status" for minorities. Romania fears that such
autonomy could lead to unilateral secession. Kovacs also reported
differences of opinion over the use of minority languages; the
interpretation of the right of assembly, in particular the founding of
political parties; and compensation to Churches for injustices under
communism. Hungary and Romania have come under intense pressure from
European and U.S. diplomats to sign a basic treaty before the 20 March EU
conference. -- Edith Oltay, OMRI, Inc.

CRIMEAN PARLIAMENT APPROVES 1995 PRIVATIZATION PROGRAM. The Crimean
parliament has approved a 1995 privatization plan aimed at transferring
up to 30% of state-owned enterprises to private hands by the end of the
year, Interfax-Ukraine reported on 16 March. The program provides for
privatization to be carried out on the basis of Ukrainian legislation,
which calls for distributing privatization vouchers to all citizens
through State Savings Banks. Some 100,000 Crimeans have already claimed
their vouchers. These can be traded in for shares in large enterprises at
special voucher auctions. -- Chrystyna Lapychak, OMRI, Inc.

UKRAINE NEGOTIATES WITH TURKMENISTAN ON GAS SUPPLIES. The Turkmen company
Turkmenelektro has said it may resume supplying Ukraine with gas in
exchange for Ukrainian manufactured goods, Ukrainian Television reported
on 16 March. Turkmenelektro has reportedly concluded an agreement with
the Ukrainian firm Iskra, in Mykolaiv, to supply enterprises in the area
with gas and to receive in return machinery produced by Iskra.
Turkmenistan cut off all gas supplies to Ukraine in February 1994 because
Kiev failed to make payments on a debt of more than $700 million. That
debt now tops $1 billion, and Kiev and Ashgabat have been unable to reach
agreement on payment and supplies. In other related news, the Ukrainian
government has approved a plan for the first phase of construction of a
oil terminal near the port city of Odessa, Interfax-Ukraine reported on
16 March. The terminal is expected to be able to process shipments of up
to 40 million tons of crude oil a year. -- Ustina Markus and Chrystyna
Lapychak, OMRI, Inc.

UKRAINIAN NAVY CHIEF STAYS ON THE JOB. Vice Admiral Vladimir
Bezkorovainy, commander of the Ukrainian Navy, said on 16 March that he
had withdrawn his resignation submitted several days earlier. Reuters
quoted Bezkorovainy as saying that talk of his resignation was
"premature." While he had cited poor health as the reason for stepping
down, the agency reported that he had been angry at Kiev's interference
in the running of the navy. In particular, he was said to have resisted
an order from Defense Minister Valery Shmarov to halve the crew of the
navy's flagship as a cost-cutting measure. Bezkorovainy said he had found
"support and understanding" when he met with Shmarov earlier in the week.
-- Doug Clarke, OMRI, Inc.

COURT ACQUITS FORMER ESTONIAN PREMIER. The Tallinn City Court on 16 March
acquitted Indrek Toome of charges of attempting to bribe a police
official, BNS reported. Toome, who was prime minister from 1988 to 1990,
was arrested on 28 November 1994 after giving a police official 30,000
kroons ($2,400) in exchange for three forged passports. The court
accepted defense attorneys' claims that Toome fell into a trap set by the
police, which had used methods not yet approved by law. Defense Police
Chief Juri Pihl said that the court verdict indicated that Toome was
guilty since the 30,000 kroons were confiscated. State Prosecutor Andres
Ulviste is appealing the verdict. -- Saulius Girnius, OMRI, Inc.

OSTANKINO TO RETURN TO LI-THUANIA. Broadcasts of Russian Ostankino TV
programs, which were halted in early February after Lit-poliinter TV
declared bankruptcy, will soon resume in Lithuania. The Lithuanian Radio
and TV Board on 14 March declared that the new Free Independent Channel
has won the contest to take over the channel that Litpoliinter used, BNS
reported. FIC will transmit at its own cost Ostankino's main newscasts
and selected cultural programs. Broadcasts are to run at least 18 hours a
day. FIC's founders include the state-owned Lithuanian Agricultural Bank,
the Lithuanian Workers' Union, and the joint-stock company Vingis, formed
by some former Litpoliinter employees. -- Saulius Girnius, OMRI, Inc.

BATTLE BREWING OVER POLISH TAX RATES. The Sejm will decide within a month
whether to uphold the Constitutional Tribunal's ruling that the 1995 tax
rates violate the constitution, Sejm speaker Jozef Zych told reporters on
16 March. Prime Minister Jozef Oleksy confirmed that budget necessity
will force the ruling coalition to vote to overturn it, though not
without "a certain legal distaste." Finance Ministry officials estimate
that lower tax rates would deprive the budget of at most 1.1 billion
zloty ($460 million) in planned revenues. But Rzeczpospolita argued that
such calculations are misleading, as this year's unexpectedly high
inflation would cover the budgetary gap. President Lech Walesa threatened
to take action should the parliament continue to break the law (the first
use of such rhetoric since the new government took office). Meanwhile,
the opposition Freedom Union submitted a parliament motion to remove
Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Grzegorz Kolodko from office,
on the grounds of a tax directive cited by the Constitutional Tribunal as
an egregious violation of the law. -- Louisa Vinton, OMRI, Inc.

POLISH GROWTH RATE SLOWING? The Main Statistical Office (GUS) reported on
16 March that industrial production rose by 14.5% in February compared
with the same month in 1994. Exports were up by 35.8% year-on-year in
dollar terms, and unemployment fell to 15.8%. But growth rates for both
industrial production and exports, while still very positive, have been
slowing since November 1994, Rzeczpospolita reported. Prices rose by 2.1%
in February. GUS revised upward, from 3.9% to 4.1%, its inflation count
for January. The year-on-year inflation rate amounted to 33.6% in
February, inching up from 33.4% in January. The Agriculture Ministry
predicted on 15 March that food prices (one of the chief factors driving
inflation) would rise by 25-29% this year; if import barriers are
retained, the increase could be as high as 39%. -- Louisa Vinton, OMRI, Inc.

FIRST CZECH CONVICTED OF DEFAMING HAVEL. A court in Kromeriz on 16 March
sentenced a 62-year-old Czech to four months in jail, suspended for one
year, for defaming President Vaclav Havel. Zdenek Svarovsky became the
first person since 1989 to be convicted of defaming the head of state,
Mlada fronta dnes reported. In Czech-language papers published in the
U.S. and also distributed in Canada and the Czech Republic, Svarovsky
termed Havel a traitor and false prophet and claimed he had been a member
of the Communist Party until 1967. At Havel's prompting, the
Constitutional Court last year removed provisions from the criminal code
making it an offense to defame the government and parliament, but anyone
convicted of defaming the president can still be jailed for up to two
years. Havel's spokesman said the president would not comment on the
Svarovsky case. -- Steve Kettle, OMRI, Inc.

SLOVAK NATIONAL BANK LOWERS DISCOUNT RATE. The Slovak National Bank's
discount rate is to be lowered from 12% to 11% beginning 17 March, Pravda
reports. The bank justified the decision by saying inflation in February
reached only 0.5%. In other economic news, the Slovak Statistical Office
reports that GDP reached 398.3 billion koruny in 1994, representing a
nominal annual growth rate of 17.1% and a real growth rate of 4.8%.
Average monthly nominal wages grew 17% in 1994, while real wages rose by
3%. Labor productivity at current prices grew 18.2% and nominal wages
17.0%, Praca reports on 17 March. -- Sharon Fisher, OMRI, Inc.

SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE

CROATIAN AND MUSLIM LEADERS GATHER IN WASHINGTON. Meetings took place on
16 March to mark the first anniversary of the U.S.-sponsored Croatian-
Muslim federation in Bosnia and Herzegovina. Vecernji list on 17 March
said that Presidents Franjo Tudjman and Bill Clinton held a private
discussion for about an hour before Tudjman went on to New York to talk
with UN Secretary-General Boutros Boutros Ghali. Both meetings presumably
focused on the future of international peacekeeping operations in
Croatia. Bosnian Croat leader and federal President Kresimir Zubak was
the only original signatory present in Washington, although Bosnian
President Alija Izetbegovic took part via a video hookup while visiting
Bonn. From there, he told reporters that there will be no extension of
the current cease-fire unless the Serbs accept the Contact Group's peace
plan, since the present arrangement only freezes Serbian conquests. In
Washington, Bosnian and federal Vice President Ejup Ganic called on
Clinton to pressure Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic to recognize his
government's sovereignty over Bosnia and Herzegovina. -- Patrick Moore,
OMRI, Inc.

SANTIC AFFAIR CASTS SHADOW OVER FESTIVITIES. While the VOA's broadcasts
in Serbo-Croatian on 17 March stress the positive aspects of the
federation, the BBC's emphasize its problems. One commentator called it
"an anti-Serbian political idea" that has achieved nothing except to stop
the 1993 Croatian-Muslim war. The BBC discussed at length the tensions
stemming from the kidnapping in the Bihac pocket on 8 March of the
Bosnian Croat commander there, General Vlado Santic. The Muslims have
admitted that their military police were last seen with him after a
drinking session but deny knowing where he is now. One theory holds that
he has been killed in a settling of old scores, while another suggests it
is the work of rogue Muslims who have never wanted peace with the Croats.
The BBC and Nasa Borba both quote Bosnian Croat representatives as saying
they are "freezing" official contacts with the Muslims until the affair
is cleared up. -- Patrick Moore, OMRI, Inc.

DIFFERING AGENDAS IN THE FORMER YUGOSLAVIA? Nasa Borba on 17 March,
reporting on apparent differences of strategies among the five countries
of the Contact Group, says Russia is interested primarily in shoring up
its status as a great power. Britain and France, the paper continues,
wants to prevent conflict; but fears of an alleged American or German
preponderance in the post-1989 world have long been evident in their
policies in the former Yugoslavia. Those policies often seem aimed at
shoring up the Serbs and blocking the Croats and Muslims, who are
perceived in London and Paris as clients of Bonn or Washington. The
article adds that in reality, the U.S.'s "special relationship" in Europe
is now with Germany, not Britain. The Frankfurter Allge-meine Zeitung
picks up the theme, noting that Washington and Bonn are in the forefront
of efforts to bolster the Croatian-Muslim alliance. That federation "is
the cornerstone on which the Contact Group's peace plan rests, not the
other way around," the German daily comments. -- Patrick Moore, OMRI, Inc.

RUMP YUGOSLAV FOREIGN MINISTER IN ROME. Vladislav Jovanovic met briefly
with his Italian counterpart, Susanna Agnelli, in Rome on 16 March, Nasa
Borba reported the next day. The leaders described the meeting, which
focused in part on international sanctions against the rump Yugoslavia,
in positive terms. Agnelli added that Italy may support the idea of
easing the embargo. Nasa Borba also adds that Jovanovic is expected to
meet with Vatican officials. -- Stan Markotich, OMRI, Inc.

MILOSEVIC MEETS WITH PAVLE? According to Nasa Borba on 17 March,
"Belgrade political circles" have revealed that Serbian President
Slobodan Milosevic recently held "secret" talks with the leader of the
Serbian Orthodox Church, Patriarch Pavle. Sources within the Church have
not confirmed those reports, but nor have they denied them. High Church
officials from the Republic of Srpska and the Republic of Serbian Krajina
are believed to have attended the meeting, which reportedly included
discussion of Yugoslav Foreign Minister Vladislav Jovanovic's recent
contacts with Vatican officials. -- Stan Markotich, OMRI, Inc.

MACEDONIA WANTS CHANGE IN STATUS OF UN TROOPS. Macedonia is demanding
that the UN peacekeeping forces stationed on its territory be made
independent of the UN forces in the former Yugoslavia, AFP reported on 16
March. UN Secretary-General Boutros Boutros Ghali was quoted as saying
that, like Croatia, Macedonia wants an "independent operation that is not
linked to other countries" that were part of Yugoslavia. Macedonian
Foreign Minister Stevo Crvenkovski said that the government is seeking a
new mandate with a "separate military, logistical and administrative
structure under a special [UN] representative." The UNPROFOR mandate in
Croatia expires on 31 March. Some 1,100 peacekeepers are currently in
Macedonia. -- Stefan Krause, OMRI, Inc.

U.S., ROMANIAN PRESIDENTS EXCHANGE LETTERS. U.S. President Bill Clinton,
in a letter to his Romanian counterpart, Ion Iliescu, dated 13 March,
welcomed Romania's intention to join NATO, Radio Bucharest reported on 16
March He also praised efforts by the Romanian and Hungarian governments
to sign a bilateral treaty as soon as possible, saying that it is
particularly important to avert conflicts and tension in Central Europe
in order to maintain stability in the region. He stressed that the U.S.
was prepared to support Romania's democratization and economic reforms.
In his reply on 16 March, Iliescu hailed Clinton's message as signaling a
"friendly and benevolent stance toward Romania." He repeated his
invitation to Clinton, issued last September in Washington, to visit
Romania. -- Dan Ionescu, OMRI, Inc.

RUSSIAN PRIME MINISTER POSTPONES VISIT TO BULGARIA. Viktor Chernomyrdin
has postponed a visit to Sofia scheduled for 23-25 March, Bulgarian
newspapers reported on 17 March. Russian Ambassador to Bulgaria Aleksandr
Avdeev said that the postponement was due to Russian domestic reasons and
to the fact that President Boris Yeltsin is going on vacation on 27
March. But had added that Chernomyrdin will come "at the end of spring."
Avdeev denied that disputes over Russia's $100 million debt to Bulgaria
or Sofia's aspirations to join NATO were reasons for postponing the
visit. -- Stefan Krause, OMRI, Inc.

BULGARIAN NUCLEAR REACTOR SHUT DOWN AFTER LEAKS. The No. 5 Reactor at the
Kozloduy nuclear power plant was shut down on 16 March, AFP reported the
same day. The reactor had to be turned off after a leak was discovered in
a generator cooling system. Officials at the power plant said the
incident posed no danger of a radioactive leak, as the generator is
located outside the reactor's nuclear core. Ivan Ivanov, deputy director
of the Kozloduy power plant, was quoted by Bulgarian Radio as saying that
the pipeline will be repaired within 24 hours and that the reactor will
then be operational again. -- Stefan Krause, OMRI, Inc.

ALBANIAN PARLIAMENT REFUSES TO LIFT LEGISLATORS' IMMUNITY. The Albanian
parliament on 16 March refused to lift the immunity of two deputies from
the ruling Democratic Party, Gazeta Shqiptare reported the next day. The
prosecutor-general asked for former Finance Minister Genc Ruli and former
Agriculture Minister and Deputy Prime Minister Rexhep Uka to be stripped
of their immunity in order to investigate allegations of abuse of office
and corruption. Sixty-three legislators voted against lifting their
immunity, while 44 cast their ballot in favor. -- Fabian Schmidt, OMRI, Inc.

ALBANIAN BUDGET FOR 1995. The Albanian Finance Ministry has presented the
1995 budget after consultations with the International Monetary Fund,
Gazeta Shqiptare reported on 16 March. The government expects revenues to
total 53.4 billion lek (compared with 46,2 billion in 1994) and
expenditures 87.2 billion lek (72.9 billion). The budget deficit is
expected to increase from 26.8 to 33.9 billion lek but would fall from 8%
to 7% of GDP. One US dollar is about 92 lek. -- Fabian Schmidt, 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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