Nothing helps scenery like ham and eggs. - Mark Twain
OMRI DAILY DIGEST

No. 63, Part II, 29 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. Back
issues of the Daily Digest, and other information about OMRI, are available
through OMRI's WWW pages:  http://www.omri.cz/OMRI.html

EAST-CENTRAL EUROPE

UKRAINIAN PRESIDENT AND CRIMEAN PARLIAMENT SPEAKER MEET IN KIEV. Leonid
Kuchma and Serhii Tsekov met in Kiev on 27 March to try to resolve the
constitutional standoff over Crimea's status, Interfax-Ukraine reported
the next day. Kuchma told reporters after the meeting he was ready to
cooperate with the Crimean parliament if it respected Ukrainian law. He
said he had refrained from calling for the dissolution of the Crimean
legislature during the recent crisis because there was no guarantee that
new elections would bring a "better" parliament to power. Tsekov told
reporters he was pleased with the results of the meeting and expected
progress within weeks on resolving the standoff. Tensions have been high
between Ukraine and Crimea since the Ukrainian parliament annulled what
it views as Crimea's separatist constitution and abolished its
Presidency on 17 March. Crimean deputies retaliated on 22 March by
dismissing Crimean Prime Minister Anatolii Franchuk, whom they consider
close to Kiev. -- Chrystyna Lapychak, OMRI, Inc.

LITHUANIAN PRESIDENT IN KIEV. Algirdas Brazauskas signed several
agreements on partnership and cooperation with his Ukrainian
counterpart, Leonid Kuchma, in Kiev on 28 March, Ukrainian Radio
reported. The two presidents spoke positively about increasing
cooperation between their countries. Kuchma said his only regret over
the visit was that the parliament was not meeting and so he could not
ask his Lithuanian guest to attend a session to explain the difference
between legislative rule and executive rule. -- Ustina Markus, OMRI,
Inc.

BELARUSIAN PRESIDENT VISITS CHORNOBYL. Alyaksandr Luka-shenka, after
touring Belarusian regions affected by the 1986 Chornobyl disaster,
visited the Ukrainian nuclear power station, Ukrainian Radio reported on
28 March. He was accompanied by Ukrainian Defense Minister Valerii
Shmarov. Ukrainian President Leonid Kuchma said that the nuclear
facility is primarily a political problem and that Ukraine was prepared
to close the plant, provided that all problems related to its closure
were resolved at the same time. Lukashenka extended an official
invitation to Kuchma to visit Belarus. -- Ustina Markus, OMRI, Inc.

IMF CRITICIZES BELARUSIAN
ECONOMIC REFORMS. Willem Middlekoop, the IMF representative to Belarus,
said that the fund has postponed considering a $250 million stand-by
loan to Belarus because of the country's failure to adhere to its
economic stabilization program, Interfax reported on 28 March. The
program was approved by the IMF in February. Inflation has been running
at 33.7%, not 10%, as foreseen by the program. None of the 371
enterprises slated for privatization by the end of March has been
privatized. And inefficient and insolvent enterprises have not been
declared bankrupt by the government. -- Ustina Markus, OMRI, Inc.

ESTONIA NEARING COMPLETION OF LARGE-SCALE PRIVATIZATION. Reform Minister
Liia Hanni told a news conference on 28 March that the majority of
state-owned companies have been sold into private hands, BNS reported.
The Privatization Agency sold 339 companies for 1.4 billion kroons ($112
million) in 1994, but as most contracts provided for payment by
installments, privatization income amounted to only 431 million kroons.
Among the major companies still to be privatized are Estonian Energy,
Estonian Shipping Company, Estonian Railways, Estonian Air, and Estonian
Oil Shale. After hearing Hanni's report, the government said that more
attention should be paid to environmental protection during the
privatization of companies. -- Saulius Girnius, OMRI, Inc.

LITHUANIA, LATVIA IN DISPUTE OVER ASIAN REFUGEES. The Lithuanian Foreign
Ministry on 28 March handed a note to the Latvian embassy in Vilnius
protesting Latvia's decision to send a train with about 100 Kurdish,
Palestinian, and Afghan refugees to Lithuania, Reuters reported. The
refugees were sent back to Latvia on 24 March, and both Russia and
Lithuania have refused to accept them. Laurens Jolles, a UNHCR spokesman
in Moscow, said the agency planned to send two people on 29 March to
investigate the situation. "We want to find out who they are, if we know
them, if Russia will admit, or re-admit them, what's happened to them
and what the conditions are like," Jolles said. Officials believe that
organized crime is behind the expanding business of smuggling people
from Asia through the CIS and the Baltic States to Scandinavia. --
Saulius Girnius, OMRI, Inc.

POLISH COALITION SPLIT OVER CONCORDAT. The Polish Peasant Party (PSL)
has proposed that the Sejm revise its July 1994 resolution on the
concordat with the Vatican to eliminate the requirement that a vote on
ratification be postponed until the new constitution is completed. The
party argues that consideration of the concordat cannot be held up
because of a document that does not yet exist. The motion will be
considered during the Sejm session beginning on 29 March, as will the
report by the special commission that ruled the concordat does not
violate the current constitution. The parliament is almost evenly split
on the issue. The Democratic Left Alliance (SLD) and the Union of Labor
will vote against, while most Freedom Union deputies and other
opposition parties will back the motion. There has been press
speculation that SLD leaders would be relieved to see the concordat
approved (to avoid further conflict with the Catholic hierarchy),
provided they themselves do not have to provide the necessary votes. --
Louisa Vinton, OMRI, Inc.

POLISH GOVERNMENT PREPARES RESTITUTION LAW. Privatization Minister
Wieslaw Kaczmarek on 28 March announced that the government will submit
a draft law on restitution to the Sejm in May, Rzeczpospolita reported.
Of the many drafts considered and rejected since 1989, the current
proposal would place the smallest burden on the budget. Only property
confiscated between 1944 and 1962 in violation of the law at the time
would be covered. Compensation would be paid out in "privatization
coupons" valid for the purchase of shares in privatized firms. No
restitution in kind would be possible, though former owners would have
first refusal if former assets were put up for sale. The larger the
property, the smaller the proportion of its value the state would
restore. Former owners have so far lodged 500,000 claims for property
worth 20 billion zloty ($14 billion), or a quarter of the annual budget.
-- Louisa Vinton, OMRI, Inc.

CZECH INTELLECTUALS DEMAND DIALOGUE WITH SUDETEN GERMANS. Lidove noviny
reported on 29 March that 105 Czech intellectuals have signed a
statement urging the Czech government to start talks with
representatives of Sudeten Germans. They said no question considered
important by either side should be omitted from such talks. Former Czech
Prime Minister Petr Pithart and a number of former dissidents are among
the signatories. The Czech Ministry of Foreign Affairs responded by
stressing its position that the Czech government will discuss Czech-
German relations and Sudeten German questions only with the German
government. President Vaclav Havel, in a partial reversal of previous
statements apologizing for the postwar expulsion of some 3 million
Sudeten Germans from Czechoslovakia, said on 15 March that the Czech
Republic and Germany must stop making apologies to each other for past
deeds. Some leading German politicians refuse to consider the Sudeten
German question closed and have suggested that the Czech government
start a dialogue with former Czechoslovak citizens of German origin. --
Jiri Pehe, OMRI, Inc.

CZECHS OFFER TO FINISH MOCHOVCE. Slovakia has received an offer from the
Czech firm Skoda Praha to finish two reactors at its nuclear plant at
Mochovce, Sme reports on 29 March. The EBRD was to have decided on 27
March whether to grant a loan to Slovakia to allow a Slovak-French joint
venture to complete the project, but Slovak Deputy Premier and Finance
Minister Sergej Kozlik asked the EBRD to delay its decision until April.
Kozlik said the request was based on the European Parliament's 15 March
resolution stating that funding to finish the plant should be delayed
until various safety measures have been addressed, but he added that the
Economy and Finance Ministries have not yet completed their analysis for
the project's financing. The Czech offer undercuts that of Electricite
de France by one-third, but it remains unclear whether Western safety
standards would be guaranteed. Russia has also expressed interest in
helping to complete the plant. It offered to put up $150 million in
February. -- Sharon Fisher, OMRI, Inc.

SLOVAK POLITICAL NEWS. The Slovak cabinet on 28 March removed Zdenko
Kovac from his post as chairman of the Anti-Monopoly Office, replacing
him with Pavol Frano. It also approved proposals for several draft laws
to be discussed at the next parliament session on 5 April. Bills on
Slovak Television (STV) and Slovak Radio (SRo) would provide for members
of the boards overseeing these bodies, who are currently unpaid, to
receive compensation from the STV and SRo budgets. The government also
approved the budget of the Employment Fund. In preparation for Prime
Minister Vladimir Meciar's scheduled visit to Ukraine from 4-5 April, an
intergovernment agreement was passed on international transport. A
memorandum on the liberalization of Slovak-Bulgarian trade was approved.
And for the third consecutive week, the cabinet refused to take part in
a press conference, sending instead its new 23-year-old spokesman, Tomas
Hasala, who studied in the U.S. and worked as a journalist for several
French dailies, Pravda reported on 29 March. -- Sharon Fisher, OMRI,
Inc.

SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE

IZETBEGOVIC FIRM ON PRECONDITIONS FOR TALKS. International media on 28
March reported that Bosnian President Alija Izetbegovic, addressing the
congress of his Party of Democratic Action, reaffirmed "the two minimal
conditions" necessary for him to agree to peace talks: Serbia's
recognition of Bosnia-Herzegovina and the Bosnian Serbs' acceptance of
the Contact Group's peace plan. Meanwhile, Nasa Borba on 29 March writes
that the Contact Group has decided there will be no more "solo trips" by
its individual members to Belgrade. American and Russian diplomats in
particular have repeatedly tried to woo Serbian President Slobodan
Milosevic in recent weeks. The diplomats in Brussels agreed on the basic
form of their next offer to Milosevic, namely that he recognize his
neighbors, accept current peace plans, and allow effective monitoring of
his border with the Bosnian Serbs before sanctions are suspended. He has
repeatedly refused to budge until the sanctions are completely lifted,
however. Moscow may in any event be preparing to offer him another "solo
initiative" more to his liking, the independent Belgrade daily reports.
-- Patrick Moore, OMRI, Inc.

CONFUSION STILL SURROUNDS BOSNIAN FIGHTING. Both the Bosnian government
and Serbian rebels continue to claim success in the current fighting
amid heavy snowfall in central and northeastern Bosnia. Both also seem
equally determined to prevent UN observers and the media from
independently checking out those claims. The stakes are high: Nasa Borba
on 29 March notes that 90% of Serbian communications travel via the
transmitter on Mt. Vlasic near Travnik and via another one at Stolice,
in the Majevica hills near Tuzla, to the northeast. The paper adds that
controlling these television relay stations is more important than
taking cities and that government control of them would open up vast
reaches of the republic to Sarajevo television broadcasts. It also
quotes UN observers as saying the government wants to test the combat
readiness of the Serbs. Vecernji list on 28 March suggests that the
Bosnian government has not lost sight of its ultimate strategic goals in
the northeast, namely liberating the Semberija region and cutting the
vital Posavina land corridor linking Serbia with its conquests in Bosnia
and Croatia. Finally in Sarajevo, the UN-sponsored airlift on 29 March
marks its 1,000th day. -- Patrick Moore, OMRI, Inc.

CELEBRATIONS OF "SERBIAN NATIONAL DAY" IN KOSOVO. Serbian nationalists
in Kosovo celebrated the sixth anniversary of the current Serbian
Constitution on 28 March. Following protests in Kosovo in which 22
Albanians were killed by Serbian police in 1989, the Serbian legislature
passed amendments to the republic's constitution effectively abrogating
the autonomy of the Serbian regions of Kosovo and Vojvodina. The
Albanian language-service of Deutsche Welle noted the same day that
Albanian-language education was banned in elementary schools in
recognition of the Serbian holiday. Meanwhile, Bosnian Serb leader
Radovan Karadzic sent a greetings message to Serbian President Slobodan
Milosevic saying that "the stability of Serbia guarantees the freedom of
all Serbs," Nasa Borba reported on 29 March. -- Fabian Schmidt, OMRI,
Inc.

ROMANIAN PRESIDENT MEETS WITH POPE. Pope John Paul II on 28 March
received Romanian President Ion Iliescu, who is currently paying an
official visit to Italy and the Vatican. They discussed bilateral
relations as well as the return of Greek-Catholic Church properties
confiscated by the Communists in the late 1940s and early 1950s. Most of
those properties eventually ended up in the hands of the Romanian
Orthodox Church. Iliescu, in an interview with Radio Bucharest after the
meeting, said he was confident that dialogue between the two Churches
would result in a solution to the issue. He praised the Vatican's stance
as "constructive." This was Iliescu's third meeting with the Pope,
following audiences in 1991 and 1992. -- Dan Ionescu, OMRI, Inc.

DUMA DEPUTIES SAY RUSSIAN TROOPS MUST STAY IN MOLDOVA. Russian deputies
who monitored the 26 March elections and referendum in Moldova's
breakaway Dniester region say they are convinced that the Russian 14th
Army must remain there. Interfax quoted members of the Russian
delegation as saying the best solution would be to give the area the
status of a Russian military base. The deputies, who are in the Dniester
region on an unofficial visit, belong to the Liberal Democratic and
Socialist Parties as well as to the Communist and Agrarian factions.
Moldova's Foreign Ministry protested the deputies presence in the
Dniester Republic, saying it encroached on Moldova's sovereignty and
violated international law. -- Dan Ionescu, OMRI, Inc.

MOLDOVAN STUDENT PROTESTS SUSPENDED. Radio Bucharest, citing Moldpres,
reported on 28 March that students and teachers in Chisinau agreed to
suspend their protests until negotiations with the government are
concluded. According to the same source, the Education Ministry in
Chisinau has decided to revise plans to replace the study of the
Romanian language and Romanian history with Moldovan language and
history courses. The decision was taken after a new round of talks
between a government commission and representatives of the students, who
have been on  strike for almost two weeks. -- Dan Ionescu, OMRI, Inc.

BULGARIA, RUSSIA REACH AGREEMENT ON DEBTS. Russia will repay its $100
million debt to Bulgaria by providing equipment, spare parts, and repair
services for its air force as well as industrial equipment, Duma
reported on 29 March. An agreement on mutual obligations was signed the
previous day in Moscow by Bulgarian Deputy Prime Minister and Minister
of Trade Kiril Tsochev and Russian Finance Minister Vladimir Panskov.
Tsochev also held talks with Russian Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin,
who reaffirmed his intention to visit Bulgaria in mid-May. Tsochev said
that 15 accords to promote trade and cooperation in the transportation
and construction fields have already been drafted for the visit. He
stressed that Bulgaria wants closer military technological cooperation
with Russia. -- Stefan Krause, OMRI, Inc.

BULGARIAN BUSINESS BLOC ABOUT TO SPLIT? A joint meeting of the Bulgarian
Business Bloc's executive council and parliament faction failed to
resolve political frictions, Demokratsiya reported on 29 March. The
meeting was aimed at preventing the 12-member faction from splitting.
BBB deputies have recently threatened to leave the party if BBB leader
Georges Ganchev does not change party policies and his own leadership
style. Orlin Draganov, a member of the BBB faction, accused Ganchev of
pursuing "a leftist policy despite the [party's] rightist platform." A
declaration stating that the faction "remains united and will fulfill
its election program" was signed by just eight of the party's deputies.
If more than two deputies leave the group, it will lose its status of
parliament faction. -- Stefan Krause, OMRI, Inc.

BULGARIAN NAVY IN TROUBLE. Rear Admiral Hristo Kontrov, acting commander
of the Bulgarian Navy, warned that Bulgaria would have only three
medium-sized and six small warships by 2000 unless urgent measures were
taken, BTA reported on 24 March. Kontrov said the navy needed 11 billion
leva for repairs, maintenance, and a recommended ship-building program.
Of the four ex-Soviet Romeo-class submarines once in the navy, two have
been sold, one is used only for exercises, and the fourth needs new
batteries. Kontrov also complained that the navy was severely
undermanned. -- Doug Clarke, OMRI, Inc.

ALBANIAN SOCIALIST LEADER CHARGED WITH CORRUPTION. Namik Dokle, deputy
leader of the Socialist Party, has been accused by the Democratic Party
newspaper Rilindja Demokratike of embezzling some $400,000, the
Albanian-language service of Deutsche Welle reported on 28 March. Dokle,
who has denied the charges, allegedly received that sum in 1991 from
communist-era President Ramiz Alia to buy a printing machine in Canada
for the Socialist Party newspaper Zeri i Popullit. At the time, Dokle
was chief editor of the newspaper. He claims the machine was bought but
says he does not know of its whereabouts. -- 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
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