The discovery of a new dish does more for human happines than the discovery of a new star. - Anthelme Brillat-Savarin
OMRI DAILY DIGEST

No. 72, Part II, 11 April 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

EU PROVIDES "ROUGH GUIDE" TO MEMBERSHIP. The EU provided a "rough guide"
to membership at its meeting of foreign ministers 10 April, Western
agencies reported. The foreign ministers of six East European states--
Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland, Romania, and Slovakia--
joined the meeting as the first example of "structured dialogue" agreed
to at the EU summit in Essen in December 1994. The EU commissioner for
foreign relations, Hans van den Broek, sketched an outline of the EU
White Paper on membership requirements set to be unveiled later in
April. Although Polish Foreign Minister Wladyslaw Bartoszewski said he
and his East European colleagues were glad to see that the EU moving
ahead with its plans to expand eastward, he added, "We'd be happier if
the plan had time-tables and more specific facts." He also noted that
the EU should provide incentives for Eastern Europe to adapt its
economies to suit EU policies. Hungarian Foreign Minister Laszlo Kovacs
welcomed the opportunity to meet with his EU counterparts. "Every
meeting brings these countries closer to the EU; after every meeting we
understand each other a little better," he said. --  Michael Mihalka,
OMRI, Inc.

ZIELENIEC ON CZECH EU MEMBERSHIP. Speaking after the EU meeting on 10
April, Czech Foreign Minister Josef Zieleniec said he was convinced that
the Czech Republic can meet all criteria for EU membership within five
years. The Central European Free Trade Area (CEFTA) was discussed during
the foreign ministers' talks. Zieleniec said that the Czech Republic did
not want to establish CEFTA as "a closed institution" that would not be
open to new members. On the same day, Zieleniec also participated in the
first meeting of the so-called Association Council consisting of the 15
EU foreign ministers and the Czech foreign minister. The council will
meet once a year. --  Jiri Pehe, OMRI, Inc.

TALBOTT IN KIEV. US Deputy Secretary of State Strobe Talbott was in Kiev
on 10 March preparing for US President Bill Clinton's upcoming visit to
Ukraine in May, Ukrainian radio reported. Talbott met with Ukrainian
President Leonid Kuchma and other top officials to discuss a number of
issues, including the country's domestic and foreign problems and its
relationship with Russia. The discussions will serve as the basis for
preparing documents to be signed between the US and Ukraine during
Clinton's visit. --  Ustina Markus, OMRI, Inc.

UKRAINE WILL NOT SHUT CHORNOBYL. On 10 April UNIAN reported that a
special Ukrainian cabinet meeting was held to discuss the preparation of
a statement on the continued operation of the Chornobyl nuclear power
station. Claiming that Ukraine would incur a loss of $4 billion by
closing the station, the draft statement says it cannot be shut down in
the immediate future. The government proposes continuing operations for
the time being but putting all profits generated from the station into a
special fund for the plant's closure. Over the next month the government
will draft proposals for the G-7 countries on alternative sources of
energy to substitute for Chornobyl's output. The plant was to be closed
down at the end of 1993, but parliament voted to keep it running since
the country could not afford to replace the lost energy. Chornobyl
accounts for some 7% of the country's electricity. -- Ustina Markus,
OMRI, Inc.

BELARUSIAN NEGOTIATIONS WITH IMF. On 10 April Radio Mayak reported that
Belarusian Prime Minister Mikhail Chyhir admitted that disagreements
exist between his government and the IMF over Belarus's economic
policies. The IMF recently postponed making any final decisions about
releasing the second part of a Systematic Transformation Facility loan
worth $100 million because Belarus was not adhering to its economic
reform program. Chyhir singled out the government's raising of the
minimum wage from 30,000 to 60,000 Belarusian rubles ($3 to $6), but
said that the move would not spur inflation as the IMF fears. In April
the weekly inflation rate has been around three percent. Chyhir said he
believes the IMF will reconsider its position and release the credit. --
Ustina Markus, OMRI, Inc.

PARTY CONGRESSES IN LATVIA. The Second Congress of Latvia's Way on 9
April focused primarily on discussion of the election campaign and the
party's platform, BNS reported on 10 April. The draft party program,
which is expected to be approved at the party's conference in May, calls
Latvia's Way a liberal political party representing the interests of the
people. The party's stated goal is to transform Latvia into a highly-
developed European state which is a comfortable and safe home to the
Latvian people and other residents of the country. Also on 9 April the
6th congress of the Latvian Democratic Labor Party reelected Juris
Bojars as chairman for the third consecutive year. --  Saulius Girnius,
OMRI, Inc.

MARCH INFLATION IN THE BALTIC STATES. The Latvian Statistics Committee
announced that in March the Latvian inflation rate (2.6%) was higher
than that in Estonia (2.4%) and Lithuania (1.4%), BNS reported on 8
April. In the first two months of the year inflation in Lithuania was
5.7% and 3.9%, respectively, compared with 1.4% and 2.9% in Estonia and
3.5% and 3.2% in Latvia. In Latvia inflation was driven by higher costs
for communication services (by 38.1%), press editions (by 10.3%), public
transportation (by 8.2%), and dairy products (5.6%). In Lithuania prices
for clothes and footwear grew by 2%, for fuel and culture and education
services by 1.6%, while prices for medical services and for transport
and communication services declined by 0.7% by 0.4%, respectively,
Interfax reported on 9 April. --  Saulius Girnius, OMRI, Inc.

KWASNIEWSKI LEADS POLISH POLL. According to a CBOS poll taken on 30
March-3 April and published on 10 April, Aleksander Kwasniewski,
chairman of the post-communist Union of the Democratic Left, remains the
favorite to win this year's presidential elections. A total of 18
percent of respondents backed Kwasniewski, one percent less than in
March. Support for current President Lech Walesa fell to 7 percent from
13 percent in March, when his popularity rose following successful
efforts to remove Prime Minister Waldemar Pawlak, who was replaced that
month by Jozef Oleksy. Among other candidates, former Labor and Social
Affairs Minister Jacek Kuron, who recently gained the support of the
Freedom Union (formerly Democratic Union), got 14 percent, while Supreme
Court president Adam Strzembosz got 11 percent. --  Jakub Karpinski,
OMRI, Inc.

SLOVAK-CANADIAN DEFENSE AGREEMENT. On 9 April in Toronto Slovak Defense
Minister Jan Sitek and his Canadian counterpart David Collenette signed
an intergovernmental agreement concerning military relations and a
Memorandum of understanding between the two countries' defense
ministries, Narodna obroda and Praca report on 11 April. Stressing that
the recent signing of the Slovak-Hungarian state treaty shows that
Slovakia is able to resolve problems in bilateral relations, Collenette
said the treaty also strengthens Slovakia's position among countries
interested in NATO membership. According to Collenette, Canada will
support Slovakia's entry into NATO. Sitek is currently on a 5-day visit
to Canada and the US. Traveling to the US on 10 April, Sitek is expected
to meet with US Secretary of Defense William Perry as well as
representatives of the National Security Council and the State
Department. --  Sharon Fisher, OMRI, Inc.

GROWING DISSATISFACTION WITH HUNGARIAN GOVERNMENT. A public opinion
survey published by Magyar Hirlap on 10 April shows a substantial
decrease in support for the government of Prime Minister Gyula Horn.
Compared to March, approval for the government's performance in general
declined from 40.9 to 34.4 percent. Meanwhile, support for the
government's handling of social problems fell 12 percent, and its
credibility declined 11 percent. The survey measured the public's
reaction to the cabinet's announcement in March that it would implement
rigorous economic measures designed to reduce the state budget deficit
that involve substantial cuts in social spending. --  Edith Oltay, OMRI,
Inc.

HUNGARIAN REFERENDUM ON ELECTION OF PRESIDENT? The National Election
Committee announced on 10 April that the Independent Smallholders Party
headed by Jozsef Torgyan collected enough valid signatures (157 000) to
initiate a referendum on whether the president of the republic should be
elected by direct popular vote and whether the scope of his authority
should be expanded, Magyar Hirlap of 11 April reports. Under the current
constitution the president has limited powers and is elected by the
parliament, thus receiving his mandate from the legislature and not from
the people. The referendum would also ask the population to answer
whether the right of young people to a place of employment and to
housing should be enshrined in law and whether the pension age of women
should be reduced to 55. Some constitutional lawyers and government
politicians questioned the legality of holding a referendum on a
question that involves changing the constitution. The parliament's
constitutional committee plans to ask the Hungarian Constitutional Court
to decide the matter. --  Edith Oltay, OMRI, Inc.

SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE

UN CALLS IN NATO FLIGHTS OVER SARAJEVO. AFP reported on 11 April that
NATO aircraft flew in pairs over the Bosnia capital for several hours
the previous night. The UN called them in for at least the third time in
a week in the face of repeated Serb shelling. The Bosnian government has
banned public gatherings, including outdoor cafes and markets, as of 11
April to help prevent further casualties at the hands of Serb gunners
and snipers. Elsewhere, Serb and Croat forces on 10 April clashed near
Zepce to the north of Sarajevo, while government artillery wounded five
civilians in Serb-held Teslic. --  Patrick Moore, OMRI, Inc.

RUSSIAN GENERAL SACKED IN EASTERN CROATIA. The 11 April Frankfurter
Allgemeine Zeitung reports that the Russian general in charge of UN
forces in Sector East of Serb-held Croatia has been relieved of his
command. The paper says this indirectly confirms a Croatian government
charge in late March that the general at least covered the movement of
900 Serbian troops and 20 or more tanks from Serbia into Sector East
(see OMRI Daily Digest, 30 March). The UN subsequently tried to avoid
confirming the report, which Croatia maintained was true and which
seemed to fit into a larger pattern of Serbian support for the Krajina
rebels. Croatia suspects Russian peacekeepers of sympathizing with and
aiding the Serbs, as well as of dealing heavily on the thriving black
market. -- Patrick Moore, OMRI, Inc.

SERBIAN UPDATE. Nasa Borba on 11 April reports that representatives of
the international Contact Group are heading to Belgrade for what appears
to be another round of attempts to convince Serbian authorities to
extend recognition to Bosnia and Croatia in exchange for an easing of
sanctions against rump Yugoslavia. This latest diplomatic initiative
comes, however, in the wake of Belgrade's reinvigorated resistance to
such proposals. On 10 April Tanjug and Reuters quoted rump Yugoslav
Foreign Minister Vladislav Jovanovic as saying that "We do not wish to
repeat the mistake the European Community and then others in the
international community made by prematurely recognizing the former
Yugoslav republics. That was not wise." Meanwhile, Tanjug reports of 10
April suggested also that Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic,
following meetings with China's visiting foreign minister, has focused
attention on urging Beijing to exert pressure on the international
community to have sanctions against Belgrade lifted. --  Stan Markotich,
OMRI, Inc.

MACEDONIA RULES OUT FEDERATION WITH NEIGHBORS. In an interview with
Macedonian radio on 8 April, President Kiro Gligorov ruled out the
possibility of a Yugoslav or Balkan federation or confederation, saying
it would "only lead to new divisions and new conflicts in the Balkans,"
Nasa Borba reported on 10 April. Politika cited Gligorov as saying his
country will not consider participating in any federation "based on
ideological, religious, ethnic of other foundations." Considering any
kind of "organic" ties with neighboring states is possible only if all
Balkan states have a democratic and European orientation, Gligorov
stated. --  Stefan Krause, OMRI, Inc.

ROMANIA-EU ASSOCIATION COUNCIL HOLDS FIRST MEETING. A joint Romanian-
European Union council met for the first time on 10 April in Luxembourg.
Radio Bucharest, which defined the council as being the main mechanism
for monitoring the implementation of the 1 February 1993 association
agreement between Romania and the EU, reported on 11 April that the
meeting was attended by Romanian Foreign Minister Teodor Melescanu. The
radio quoted Melescanu as saying that Romania intended to officially
apply for full EU membership as soon as the drafting of a national
strategy to join the EU was completed. He mentioned June as a possible
deadline. Also on 10 April, Melescanu participated in the "15 + 6"
foreign ministers' conference in Luxembourg. --  Dan Ionescu, OMRI, Inc.

TECHNICAL FAULT BLAMED FOR ROMANIAN AIRBUS CRASH. Investigators of the
31 March Airbus crash near Bucharest said on 10 April that the accident
resulted from an engine's failure to respond to a command to reduce
power, Radio Bucharest and Western agencies report. The inquiry
commission, which is expected to release a preliminary report soon,
formally ruled out an explosion or fire on board. All 60 passengers and
crew died in the crash. --  Dan Ionescu, OMRI, Inc.

MOLDOVA LAMBASTES RUSSIAN DUMA. The Moldovan Foreign Ministry released
on 10 April a statement accusing the Russian State Duma of interference
in Moldova's internal affairs, Interfax and Reuters report. The ministry
criticized a Duma vote of 7 April on staging a debate over the
"inadmissibility" of the Russian 14th army withdrawal from Moldova's
breakaway Dniester region. It also denounced the presence of Duma
deputies at last month's local elections and referendum in that region.
According to the statement, such steps represent an interference in the
internal affairs of an independent and sovereign state, and a violation
of international law principles. The declaration further accused some
Duma deputies of "striving to give open support to separatism" in
Moldova. The Duma, which is dominated by conservatives and nationalists,
opposes a deal concluded in October 1994 between Moscow and Chisinau
providing for the withdrawal of the 14th army within three years. The
agreement has not gone into effect thus far. --  Dan Ionescu, OMRI, Inc.

GENERAL WARNING-STRIKE IN ALBANIA. The Albanian independent trade unions
announced a one-hour long general strike, beginning at 11:OO on 11
April. The unions expect 70,000 workers in the education, telecom and
hospitals to join the strike, Gazeta Shqiptare reported on 11 April.
According to the unions, during the strike no telephone lines will be
working in Albania and only the emergency departments of the hospitals
will be served. The strikers demand a wage increase of about 35% to
cover increases in consumer prices. The unions warned that a 24-hour
long general strike might follow on 22 April, if the strikers' demands
will not be met. The government, however, had announced earlier that the
state's current finances do not allow it to meet the demands. --  Fabian
Schmidt, OMRI, Inc.

TURKISH DEFENSE MINISTER IN ALBANIA. Turkish Defense Minister Mehmet
Golhan began a three-day visit to Albania on 10 April, Reuters reported
the same day. Golhan is expected to work out an agreement on bilateral
military ties which will be signed during the visit. Golhan, who will
also meet with President Sali Berisha and visit military units, said:
"The visit will develop our relations more deeply and is another measure
in stopping the spillover of the (Yugoslav) conflict down in the south."
Meanwhile, Albanian Foreign Minister Alfred Serreqi is paying a two-day
visit to Croatia, Rilindja Demokratike reported on 11 April. Serreqi is
expected to meet with his counterpart Mate Granic and Croatian Prime
Minister Nikica Valentic and to sign a cooperation agreement with
Croatia. --  Fabian Schmidt, OMRI, Inc.

BULGARIANS SAY DETAINED ARMS ARE NOT BULGARIAN. Bulgarian government
officials and representatives of Air Sofia denied that the weapons on
board of an airplane detained in Cap Verde on 9 April (see OMRI Daily
Digest, 10 April 1995) came from Bulgaria, Bulgarian media reported on
11 April. Ivan Kolev, deputy chairman of the Council for Trade with
Military and Special Products, stated that no Bulgarian arms were on
board the Antonov AN-124, and that Bulgaria has no part in the arms deal
with Ecuador. A Bulgarian company was just the intermediate between the
producer and the buyer. Duma said that the plane came from Minsk in
Belarus and did not fly over Bulgarian territory. According to
Kontinent, the Air Sofia plane was leased by a company in Minsk which
has a license to export arms. BTA cited Air Sofia Chairman Evgeniy
Neychev as saying that competitors tried to defame his company.
Demokratsiya notes, however, that Air Sofia was involved in a failed
attempt to transport arms to Sarajevo or Zagreb in 1993. --  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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