Science and art have that in common that everyday things seem to them new and attractive. - Friedrich Nietzsche
OMRI DAILY DIGEST

No. 92, Part II, 12 May 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

EASTERN EUROPE WELCOMES RUSSIA'S SIGNING OF PFP. East European foreign
ministers, attending a meeting of the Council of Europe in Strasbourg,
welcomed Russia's decision to sign an individual work program under
NATO's Partnership for Peace, Western agencies reported on 11 May.
Romanian Foreign Minister Teodor Melescanu, Czech Foreign Minister Josef
Zieleniec, and Slovak Foreign Minister Juraj Schenk each applauded the
Russian move but stressed that Russia has no right to veto their entry
into NATO. Meanwhile, the 34-member council agreed on 11 May to continue
suspending Russia's application to join that body. Council Secretary-
General Daniel Tarschys noted that "there is still a general agreement
that is it desirable to have Russia as a member as soon as possible." --
Michael Mihalka, OMRI, Inc.

CLINTON IN UKRAINE. U.S. President Bill Clinton began a two-day state
visit to Ukraine on 11 May, international and Ukrainian news agencies
reported the same day. After his meeting with Ukrainian President Leonid
Kuchma, Clinton praised Ukraine's drive to speed up the process of
nuclear disarmament, implement long-delayed radical economic reforms,
and improve relations with Russia. He also pledged further aid for
Ukrainian disarmament and offered $10 million under the so-called
"Warsaw Initiative," which, pending its approval by the U.S. Congress,
is to help countries participating in the Partnership for Peace.
President Kuchma stressed Kiev's support for the gradual expansion of
NATO but expressed concern that a hasty expansion could turn Ukraine
into a buffer zone between Europe and Russia. The two leaders also
discussed increased U.S. technical aid and private investment. Clinton
was also scheduled to deliver a speech at Kiev State University and lay
a wreath at the Babyn Yar memorial to the 180,000 mostly Jewish victims
killed there by the Nazis during World War II. -- Chrystyna Lapychak,
OMRI, Inc.

WORLD BANK RELEASES SECOND TRANCHE OF LOAN TO UKRAINE. The World Bank
has released the second tranche, worth $250 million, of a $500-million
rehabilitation loan to Ukraine, UNIAR reported on 11 May. The credit was
approved last December to finance critical imports and support the
country's balance of payments. World Bank official Oleksander Kaliberda
said the bank was ready to expand its aid program to Ukraine. He noted
that among the 19 projects currently under review for financing are a
proposal for institutional development worth $44 million, for which the
bank could appropriate $27 million, and a project to rehabilitate
hydroelectric power plants in Ukraine, with the bank possibly providing
a $115 million loan. He said that if Kiev continues to pursue economic
reforms, there will be no reason for it not to qualify for $1 billion
annually in World Bank assistance. -- Chrystyna Lapychak, OMRI, Inc.

ISRAELI-ESTONIAN COOPERATION. Israeli Brig. Gen. David Shoval,
accompanied by Israel's military attache to Latvia, held talks in
Tallinn on 11 May with Estonian Interior Minister Edgar Savisaar, BNS
reported. They discussed cooperation opportunities between the two
countries in the areas of combating crime and border defense. -- Saulius
Girnius, OMRI, Inc.

DEATH SENTENCE UPHELD IN LITHUANIA. The Lithuanian Pre-sident's Pardon
Commission on 10 May turned down the clemency plea of Boris Dekanidze,
leader of the criminal group known as the Vilnius Brigade, Interfax
reported the next day. Dekanidze was sentenced to death in November 1994
for organizing the murder of Vitas Lingys, deputy editor of the
Respublika newspaper, on 12 October 1993. President Algirdas Brazauskas
signed the official rejection of the clemency plea on 11 May. It is
likely that Dekanidze will be executed by firing squad within several
weeks. Lithuania has executed five convicted murderers since regaining
independence in 1991. -- Saulius Girnius, OMRI, Inc.

LATVIA JOINS CONVENTION ON PROTECTION OF NATIONAL MINORITIES. Latvian
Foreign Minister Valdis Birkavs on 11 May in Strasbourg signed the
General Convention on Protection of National Minorities, BNS reported.
The convention, drafted after the 1993 summit meeting of the Council of
Europe, determines the basic principles to be observed by the signatory
countries to ensure the protection of national minorities. Birkavs also
attended an informal meeting of the foreign ministers of the Baltic and
Nordic states. He discussed with the Danish and Swiss foreign ministers
the possibility of introducing a visa-free regime. -- Saulius Girnius,
OMRI, Inc.

POLISH CONSTITUTIONAL QUARRELS CONTINUE. Polish Premier Jozef Oleksy has
written to Lech Walesa saying the president's nomination of Marek Jurek
as head of the National Radio and TV Council is unconstitutional, the
Polish press reported. According to the Polish constitution, the
president's action must be endorsed by the premier or the relevant
minister. This had not happened in the case of Jurek's nomination.
Oleksy wrote to the president that "the highest level of government
cannot be treated like a playground with the rules of one's own
choosing." Walesa recently accused Oleksy of disrespect for the
president's foreign policy prerogatives (see OMRI Daily Digest, 11 May
1995). -- Jakub Karpinski, OMRI, Inc.

"FREE CAUCASUS" RADIO TO BROADCAST FROM POLAND. Independent Russian
Television (NTV) on 11 May reported on the preparations to open the Free
Caucasus radio station, which will broadcast in several languages and be
managed by the Chechen Information Center in Cracow. The exact location
of the station is being kept secret, and its equipment has been supplied
by Solidarity, which still has radio equipment from its underground
period. NTW noted that the Russian authorities have already protested
the Chechen Information Center's activities in Cracow but that the city
authorities have called the protest an intervention in "internal city
affairs." -- Jakub Karpinski, OMRI, Inc.

MINISTER SAYS CZECH TRADE DEFICIT COULD REACH 80 BILLION KORUNY. Trade
and Industry Minister Vladimir Dlouhy on 11 May said that the Czech
Republic's foreign trade deficit may increase more than sixfold this
year to 60-80 billion koruny ($2.35-3.15 billion), Czech Television and
Mlada fronta dnes reported. Dlouhy told a conference of business leaders
that Czech goods have become less competitive internationally. The 1994
deficit was 12.5 billion koruny, but the shortfall for the first quarter
of 1995 was 18.3 billion koruny. Finance Minister Ivan Kocarnik told the
parliament's budget committee that the government expects a 3.4% rise in
GDP this year. He said industrial production rose 5.8% in the first
three months of 1995, while construction was up 11.7% -- Steve Kettle,
OMRI, Inc.

SLOVAK PRESIDENT ADDRESSES PARLIAMENT. Michal Kovac, addressing the
parliament on 11 May, said the recent no-confidence vote in him was
unlawful since "state organs can act only on the basis of the
constitution," Sme reported. According to the basic law, the parliament
can remove the president only for activities endangering "the
sovereignty or territorial integrity of Slovakia" or the country's
"democratic constitutional system." Moreover, the vote was supported by
only 80 deputies, whereas the constitution states that a three-fifths
majority or 90 votes in the 150-member parliament are required. Kovac
also stressed that his conflict with Premier Vladimir Meciar is based
not on "personal relations" but on differences of opinion over how
politics "should be applied in a parliamentary democracy and a free,
open society." The majority of the deputies representing the government
coalition walked out of the parliament prior to the speech.
Representatives of the opposition have confirmed their support for the
president, as has the Conference of Bishops of Slovakia. -- Sharon
Fisher, OMRI, Inc.

SLOVAK PARLIAMENT PASSES CONFLICT OF INTERESTS LAW. The Slovak
parliament on 11 May approved a law on conflict of interests, proposed
by the governing Movement for a Democratic Slovakia and the opposition
Party of the Democratic Left, Pravda reported. The law applies to
constitutional officials and top representatives of the state
administration. Of the 130 deputies who voted, 92 were in favor, three
against, and 33 abstained. The law will take effect on 1 November. Also
on 11 May, the parliament appointed Jozef Mudrik to the post of National
Bank of Slovakia vice governor, TASR reported. Mudrik formerly headed
Slovakia's largest bank, Vseobecna uverova banka. -- Sharon Fisher,
OMRI, Inc.

SLOVAK PREMIER ON CZECH-SLOVAK CLEARING AGREEMENT. Vladimir Meciar on 11
May told journalists that the Czech cabinet's "unilateral" decision to
cancel the clearing system governing Slovak-Czech trade is "an
ultimatum, which is unusual in international relations." The system has
been in place since the split of Czechoslovakia in January 1993. He also
stressed that Slovakia is ready to negotiate changes in payment
conditions in accordance with international norms and the Czech aims of
OECD membership and securing full convertibility for the Czech koruna.
-- Sharon Fisher, OMRI, Inc.

HUNGARY TO RATIFY TREATY WITH SLOVAKIA SOON. A Hungarian government
official on 11 May said that the parliament will soon ratify the basic
treaty with Slovakia, Hungarian and international media reported. The
treaty was signed in April by the countries' prime ministers. According
to the official, the vote is likely to take place on 22 or 23 May. Also
on 11 May, the Hungarian government made public a letter from Hungarian
Prime Minister Gyula Horn to Slovak President Michal Kovac saying "the
Hungarian side aims to execute the treaty as soon as possible." Although
some political groups in the Hungarian parliament are opposed to the
treaty, unofficial reports indicate it is likely to be ratified. There
is also opposition to the treaty in the Slovak parliament, and disputes
over it have caused strains within Slovakia's ruling coalition. Both
governments have been informed that ratification of the treaty is
crucial for their joining the European Union and NATO. -- Jiri Pehe,
OMRI, Inc.

SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE

SARAJEVO'S "SNIPER ALLEY" CLAIMS ANOTHER VICTIM. A French UN peacekeeper
was critically wounded on 11 May after being shot in the head along
Sarajevo's main strip, known as "Sniper's Alley," Nasa Borba reported
the following day. The total of French peacekeepers critically wounded
or killed in Bosnia-Herzegovina now stands at 37. French Foreign
Minister Alain Juppe on 11 May said the new French government will
debate the possibility of withdrawing its troops from the former
Yugoslavia if safety conditions do not improve, international media
reported. Emerging from meetings with UN Secretary-General Boutros
Boutros Ghali the same day, Juppe also indicated that empowering UN
peacekeepers to employ greater force against violence may be an
alternative to a pullout. France has some 4,500 troops in Bosnia--the
largest contingent in the region. Meanwhile, representatives of the
Contact Group are slated to meet on 12 May to probe ways of improving
prospects for peace in war-torn Bosnia, Vecernji list reported. -- Stan
Markotich, OMRI, Inc.

FIERCE BATTLES IN NORTHEASTERN BOSNIA. Serbian forces continue to pound
the Croatian enclave of Orasje, in northeastern Bosnia-Herzegovina,
international media reported on 12 May. According to Reuters, recent
Serbian attacks on the enclave appear to be the fiercest in several
years, with an estimated 500 shells landing in the hamlet of Matici on
11 May. The Serbian offensive appears to be aimed at forcing the Orasje
Croats back across the border into Croatia in order to remove the pocket
as an obstacle to a Serbian supply corridor. -- Stan Markotich, OMRI,
Inc.

SERBIAN PARLIAMENT REBUKES CROATIA. The Serbian legislature on 11 May
adopted a resolution condemning Croatia's 1 May offensive against a
rebel Serb-held enclave in Western Slavonia, Nasa Borba reported the
following day. The offensive resulted in the retaking of territory.
Tanjug reports that according to the text of the resolution, the Serbian
parliament especially condemns "crimes against the civilian population"
and Croatia's "lack of respect for the ceasefire." Ultranantionalists,
notably accused war criminal and Serbian Radical Party leader Vojislav
Seselj and leader of the Democratic Party of Serbia Vojislav Kostunica,
have registered their opposition to the resolution. They claim it is too
mild and a de facto testament to Serbian President Slobodan Milo-sevic's
unwillingness to defend either Croatia's rebel Serbs or the ideal of a
greater Serbia. Meanwhile, Reuters on 11 May reported that UN
authorities have somewhat "backed away from earlier allegations that the
[Croatian] army shot fleeing Serbs" as it advanced in Western Slavonia.
-- Stan Markotich, OMRI, Inc.

ROMANIA SIGNS CONVENTION ON PROTECTION OF NATIONAL MINORITIES. Foreign
Minister Teodor Melescanu on 11 May presented in Strasbourg the
instruments of ratification for the Council of Europe's Framework
Convention on the Protection of National Minorities. The Romanian
parliament ratified the convention in April. According to Radio
Bucharest, Romania was the first country to officially complete the
ratification procedure. Melescanu was quoted by Radio Bucharest as
saying that the event was a clear indication that Romania was attaching
particular importance to basic human rights and freedoms, including
those of ethnic minorities. Romania has repeatedly stressed that it
prefers the framework convention to other Council of Europe documents,
which appear to favor territorial autonomy based on ethnic criteria. It
recently expressed serious reservations about a decision by the
council's Parliamentary Assembly making Recommendation 1201 mandatory
for all members. -- Dan Ionescu, OMRI, Inc.

TRANSDNIESTER WOMEN DEMONSTRATE IN MOSCOW. Thirty women from Moldova's
breakaway Dniester region arrived in Moscow on 10 May to picket the
Russian Defense Ministry in protest over plans to reorganize the 14th
Army, headquartered in Tiraspol, BASA-press reported. The group is
headed by Svetlana Migulya, a 14th Army female soldier, and is composed
of members of the Women's Union for the Defense of Transdniester. The
protesters intend to hand over to State Duma deputies letters from
Transdniester citizens criticizing the plans to downgrade the 14th Army,
which were recently announced by Russian Defense Minister Pavel Grachev.
-- Dan Ionescu, OMRI, Inc.

BULGARIAN PARLIAMENT RECOGNIZES PARTISANS AS WW II COMBATANTS. The
Socialist majority on 11 May adopted a law giving former partisans the
status of combatants against Nazi Germany in World War II, Demokratsiya
reported the following day. Opposition deputies voted against the bill.
The Union of Democratic Forces argued that the communist-dominated
partisan movement was controlled by Moscow and did not emerge until
Germany's attack on the Soviet Union in 1941. They also pointed out that
most sabotage acts were directed against Bulgarian installations and not
against German military facilities. Socialist Deputy Angel Wagen-shtayn,
a well-known film director, said that "whoever thinks the anti-fascist
resistance was illegitimate is a fascist." The UDF faction issued a
declaration saying that the law in effect restores the privileges of
former communist party members and proves that the Socialists have not
broken with their communist past. -- Stefan Krause, OMRI, Inc.

BULGARIAN CABINET EXPECTS ECONOMIC GROWTH, SWIFT PRIVATIZATION. Deputy
Prime Minister and Minister for Economic Development Rumen Gechev on 10
May said that the government's major economic goals in 1995 are strict
financial discipline and 2.5% economic growth, BTA reported the same
day. The cabinet projects an increase in GDP averaging 4.5% a year
during its term in office. Gechev said that privatization, to be carried
out in two stages, will start in January 1996 and end in late 1997. Some
150 enterprises will be selected for privatization. The Kozloduy nuclear
reactor, the military-industrial complex, the Bulgarian
Telecommunications Company, the Bulgarian Post, and one or two major
banks are among those enterprises that will not be privatized, Gechev
said. The private sector's share in GDP, which accounted for 30% in
1994, is projected to reach 55-60% by the end of 1996 and 70-75% in late
1997. -- Stefan Krause, OMRI, Inc.

BULGARIAN PRIME MINISTER TOPS OPINION POLLS IN SOFIA. In an opinion poll
published by Trud on 12 May, Zhan Videnov headed the list of Bulgarian
top politicians. Some 36% of respondents said they have a favorable
impression of him, while 23% said their impression is unfavorable. Ivan
Kostov, leader of the Union of Democratic Forces, came second, with 26%
and 11%, respectively. President Zhelyu Zhelev ranked third (23% and
28%). Videnov's strong showing and the high percentage of negative votes
for Zhelev are attributed to the ongoing fight between the president and
government, particularly over Bul-garia's possible application for NATO
membership and the land restitution law. The opinion poll was conducted
in Sofia, which is one of the UDF's strongholds. -- Stefan Krause, OMRI,
Inc.

[As of 1200 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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