Life, within doors, has few pleasanter prospects than a neatly arranged and well-provisioned breakfast-table. - Nathaniel Hawthorne
OMRI DAILY DIGEST

No. 127, Part II, 30 June 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

KUCHMA ANNOUNCES SHIFT IN ECONOMIC REFORMS. Ukrainian state TV and radio
reported on 28 June that President Leonid Kuchma announced a shift in
economic reforms during a visit to Transcarpathia. The changes would
ease fiscal policy and increase state support for restructuring industry
and overhauling the social welfare system. Kuchma admitted Ukraine would
not meet IMF targets to lower monthly inflation to 1-2% by the end of
the year. He said 4-5% was a more realistic figure and would allow the
government to support special projects in developing a self-sufficient
energy sector, agricultural reforms, aviation and shipbuilding, gold
mining, and the nuclear and space industries. Kuchma said he hoped to
begin new talks with the IMF and planned major government changes to be
announced this week. -- Chrystyna Lapychak, OMRI, Inc.

CRIMEAN ROUNDUP. Deputies from three factions blocked a quorum in the
Crimean legislature on 29 June, demanding a change in the leadership of
the 98-member assembly which is dominated by pro-Russian separatists,
Ukrainian TV reported the same day. Members of the Crimean Tatar
Kurultai faction, plus Reformists and Agrarians, refused to register for
the session, insisting the leadership be replaced by lawmakers who
better reflect the whole political spectrum. In other news, Crimean
Prime Minister Anatolii Franchuk complained that the governments of
Russia, Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan have distanced themselves from the
issue of Tatar repatriation to the peninsula. He insisted Kiev turn to
all CIS countries to take up the matter. Franchuk also complained that
Russian and local media sensationalized last weekend's violence between
Crimean Tatars and alleged criminal groups, turning away badly-needed
tourist money from the region. -- Chrystyna Lapychak, OMRI, Inc.

UKRAINIAN PARLIAMENT FAILS TO RATIFY EBRD AGREEMENT. Ukrainian radio
reported on 29 June that the parliament failed to ratify a credit
agreement with the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development. The
credits were to be used towards developing small and medium businesses,
raising the effectiveness of commercial banks, and for social programs.
Deputy Finance Minister Borys Soboliv said the failure to ratify the
agreement deprived Ukraine of substantial hard currency revenues.
Legislation is being prepared which will allow credit lines to become
available without needing the parliament to ratify agreements, so that
such situations do not recur in the future. -- Ustina Markus, OMRI, Inc.

US-BELARUSIAN RELATIONS. A special advisor to US President Bill Clinton,
Coit Blacker, met with Belarusian President Alyaksandr Lukashenka in
Minsk on 28 June, Belarusian television reported. Lukashenka said that
technical aid from the US would help Belarus greatly in attracting
investment and creating a better tax system. He pointed out that the US
had allocated $30 million to fight crime in Eastern Europe and the
former Soviet Union, and Belarus was the first country to start tracing
financial crimes. Lukashenka noted that Belarus had made other positive
initiatives towards the West, such as joining NATO's Partnership for
Peace program, but the problem of coming to terms with the IMF over a
stand-by credit must still be resolved. Blacker told Lukashenka that
officials in the US view Belarusian policies as submissive to Russia's.
-- Ustina Markus, OMRI, Inc.

POLICE PROVOCATION LEGALIZED IN POLAND. The Sejm on 29 June voted
amendments to the laws on the police, allowing police agents to conduct
otherwise prohibited transactions, such as buying and selling drugs or
arms or offering bribes. An agent's testimony and tape or video
recording of such transactions, which must be authorized by the interior
minister with the consent of the general prosecutor, can be used in
courts. Surveillance and eavesdropping will be allowed not only to
detect but also to prevent a crime, Polish media reported on 30 June. --
Jakub Karpinski, OMRI, Inc.

POLISH PARLIAMENT LIMITS PRESIDENT'S POWERS. The Sejm on 29 June, apart
from limiting the president's prerogatives in defense matters (see OMRI
Daily Digest, 29 June), also overruled a presidential veto on the law on
the National Radio and Television Council. The council, a nine-member
body appointed by the parliament and the president, issues broadcast
licenses and supervises broadcast media. The Sejm's vote deprived the
president of his right to nominate the council's chairman, who will be
appointed instead by other council members, Polish and international
media reported on 30 June. -- Jakub Karpinski, OMRI, Inc.

UPDATE ON THE PRESIDENTIAL CAMPAIGN IN POLAND. Right-of-center party
leaders and presidential candidates met on 29 June in the Sejm at the
invitation of Republican Party leader Zbigniew Religa. Polish National
Bank President Hanna Gronkiewicz-Waltz, still hesitating over her
candidacy, said that she cannot withdraw from the presidential race,
having read recent opinion poll returns that gave her second place in
popularity with 64%, behind former Labor Minister Jacek Kuron on 69%,
Rzeczpospolita reported on 30 June. -- Jakub Karpinski, OMRI, Inc.

CZECH PARLIAMENT REDUCES TOP TAX RATES. Czech lawmakers on 29 June voted
to reduce taxes further than the government wanted, Czech media report.
From next year, the highest rate of income tax will fall from 43% to 40%
for people earning more than 564,000 koruny annually. The threshold for
paying tax was raised by 2,400 koruny to 26,400 koruny annually while
the bands for the lower rates of income tax were widened. Company tax
was reduced from 41% to 39%. On the other hand, cigarettes, non-leaded
petrol and sparkling wine will be more expensive. Finance Minister Ivan
Kocarnik, who had proposed milder tax reductions, said they would take
22.5 billion koruny out of the state budget. -- Steve Kettle, OMRI, Inc.

CZECH TEACHERS STAGE DEMONSTRATION. Around 5,000 teachers held a rally
in Brno on 29 June to protest what they consider to be inadequate wage
rises. Union leaders who addressed the rally confirmed that a one-day
strike will take place on 4 September, the first day of the new school
year, if the government does not relent. The teachers want a 20% wage
rise, while the government has decreed a 10% increase. Meanwhile, the
deans of four philosophy faculties -- from universitites in Brno,
Olomouc, Ostrava and Prague's Charles University -- issued a declaration
warning that the future study of humanities in the Czech Republic is
seriously threatened. The declaration, published in Lidove noviny on 30
June, called on the education ministry to reconsider the way it allots
places and funds. -- Steve Kettle, OMRI, Inc.

ETHNIC HUNGARIANS HOLD PROTESTS IN SOUTHERN SLOVAKIA. Ethnic Hungarian
parents and teachers held demonstrations in a number of towns across
southern Slovakia on 29 June, protesting the dismissal of directors of
several schools for the Hungarian minority who had objected to the
government's plan to implement "alternative" (bilingual) education in
the fall, Narodna obroda reports. The Education Ministry issued a
statement on 29 June stressing that alternative education is aimed at
improving the level of teaching of the Slovak language in ethnically
mixed territories. Protesting the "disinformation" of ethnic Hungarian
politicians about the program, the ministry says it will be implemented
on a voluntary basis and will proceed unhindered by protests or the
disruption of classes. -- Sharon Fisher, OMRI, Inc.

SLOVAK TELEVISION REFUSES TO BROADCAST PRESIDENT'S SPEECH. Slovak
Television (STV) officials refused to allow President Michal Kovac to
appear on television the day before the visit of Pope John Paul II to
Slovakia. According to a report in Pravda on 30 June, STV responded to
Kovac's request for 5-6 minutes of airtime by saying that because the
pope was invited by the Bishops' Conference, representatives of the
Roman Catholic Church would appear instead. Since last fall's
parliamentary elections, the ruling coalition has taken control of STV,
limiting appearances of opposition representatives as well as the
president. In a press conference on 29 June, the opposition Democratic
Union protested posters which have appeared around Slovakia, featuring a
picture of Premier Vladimir Meciar alongside the pope. The DU said the
posters give the impression that the papal visit, due to start on 30
June, is a governmental one. -- Sharon Fisher, OMRI, Inc.

SLOVAKIA TO LIMIT CZECH IMPORTS. According to a TASR report on 29 June,
the Slovak Economy Ministry on 1 July will begin to monitor imports of a
number of Czech products, including live cattle, pigs and poultry; milk;
cream; butter; sugar; non-alcoholic drinks; beer; wine; spirits; cigars;
cigarettes; brown coal and tractors. According to ministry official
Ladislav Sandtner, Czech exporters will require a license to sell such
goods in Slovakia. The ministry will also implement quotas on Slovak
exports of raw wood and iron waste to the Czech Republic. The two
countries have had a customs union since the split of Czechoslovakia in
1993, but Slovakia threatened to cancel it after the Czech parliament
voted to abolish the bilateral trade clearing agreement. -- Sharon
Fisher, OMRI, Inc.

HUNGARY TO PRIVATIZE ITS UTILITIES. Privatization Minister Tamas Suchman
told journalists on 29 June that the government has approved a plan to
privatize some of the country's biggest businesses, such as oil and gas
supply and distribution companies. The sales would start later this
year. The government expects to earn the equivalent of $1.2 billion from
the sales to offset Hungary's huge trade deficit. Hungarian trade unions
are opposed to the move, fearing job losses. The union representing
electricity workers has already called for a strike to protest the plan.
-- Jiri Pehe, OMRI, Inc.

SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE

CROATIA PROTESTS RUMP YUGOSLAV MILITARY PRESENCE. Croatia sent another
protest letter to the UN on 29 June over what Zagreb has described as a
growing rump Yugoslav military presence on Croatian soil occupied by
rebel Serbs. Ambassador Mario Nobilo, delivering the letter on behalf of
his foreign ministry, told a news conference: "We would not be surprised
if these troops and equipment are used against Bihac [in Western Bosnia]
in a matter of days. In fact we have convincing information to this
effect." Reuters also reports that the letter to UN Secretary-General
Boutros Boutros-Ghali alleges that nearly 5,000 soldiers have been sent
to Croatia from the rump Yugoslavia since 14 June. A prior Croatian
claim of a rump Yugoslav military presence is being investigated by the
UN. (See OMRI Daily Digest, 26 June). -- Stan Markotich, OMRI, Inc.

BOSNIAN SERBS BLAST UN IN SARAJEVO. Bosnian Serb forces on 29 June
launched three mortar rounds into the headquarters of UN operations in
Sarajevo, Reuters reports the following day. "It is difficult to say
but, when we receive three rounds together, we are obliged to consider
this as a direct attack," said spokesman Major Guy Vinet. No casualties
were reported. In other news, Nasa Borba on 30 June reports that on the
previous day Bosnian Serb forces fired another rocket at the media
facility of Radio and Television Sarajevo. While there were no
casualties in this incident, Bosnian Serb bombing of the facility on 28
June resulted in 5 deaths and 38 people injured. -- Stan Markotich,
OMRI, Inc.

TRAVEL BAN FOR BOSNIAN SERB LEADERS. Vjesnik on 30 June reports that the
US has petitioned the UN sanctions committee to bar 40 Bosnian Serb
leaders from traveling abroad. International sanctions introduced in
1994 already prevent Bosnian Serb leaders from leaving the country for
any reason apart from peace talks, but as yet no list of specific
affected individuals has been compiled. The US proposal names, among
others, Radovan Karadzic and Bosnian Serb military head General Ratko
Mladic. In other news, Nasa Borba on 30 June reports that US President
Bill Clinton has told Congress that the White House plans to take $50
million from the Pentagon budget as support for the rapid reaction force
in Bosnia. -- Stan Markotich, OMRI, Inc.

BLACK SEA SUMMIT IN BUCHAREST. Bucharest hosts a conference of senior
political leaders from the Black Sea region on 30 June, Western agencies
and Radio Bucharest report. The conference, which is attended by heads
of state, prime ministers and other top officials from the 11 countries
belonging to the "Black Sea Economic Cooperation" organization, is
expected to focus on boosting economic ties as well as on ways to defuse
tension in the region. The three-year old organization groups Albania,
Armenia, Azerbaijan, Bulgaria, Greece, Georgia, Moldova, Romania,
Russia, Turkey and Ukraine. Several countries, including Poland, Austria
and Italy, have been admitted as observers. On 29 June, Romanian
President Ion Iliescu received his Georgian and Moldovan counterparts,
Eduard Shevarnadze, and Mircea Snegur, respectively. -- Dan Ionescu,
OMRI, Inc.

SNEGUR IN BUCHAREST. Moldovan President Mircea Snegur on 29 June arrived
in Bucharest to attend the Black Sea conference, Romanian media
reported. In a statement broadcast by Radio Bucharest, Snegur said that
security was a top priority for all countries in the region. He also
stressed the importance of economic cooperation in the Black Sea zone.
In a reference to his talks in Moscow with Russian President Boris
Yeltsin on the previous day, Snegur reiterated Moldova's rejection of
Russian plans to set up military bases in the breakaway Dniester region,
and insisted that the 14th Russian Army should be withdrawn from the
area. On the same day, Snegur discussed bilateral relations with
Romanian President Ion Iliescu. -- Dan Ionescu, OMRI, Inc.

NEW LAWS STIR CONTROVERSY IN ROMANIA. A law on restitution of houses
nationalized under communism has stirred widespread controversy in
Romania, western and Romanian media report. The law, which was adopted
by a 289 to 153 vote in a joint session of the parliament on 28 June,
rules out full restitution of property seized by the former regime in
the late 1940s and the 1950s. It provides that former owners are
entitled to get back only one habitation unit, while receiving up to 48
million lei ($24,000) for any further confiscated property. The Liberal
Party '93 said that the law de facto sanctioned communist abuses and
announced it would challenge it in the Constitutional Court. In another
development, deputies belonging to the Hungarian Democratic Federation
of Romania on 27 June issued a declaration denouncing the "cynical way"
in which their amendments to a new education bill had been rejected by
the parliament. The law, which was adopted in parliament on the
following day, has been criticized for restricting ethnic minority
rights to mother tongue education. -- Dan Ionescu, OMRI, Inc.

AZERBAIJANI PRESIDENT IN BULGARIA. Heidar Aliev on 29 June arrived in
Sofia on an official visit, Reuters reported the same day. Aliev and his
Bulgarian counterpart Zhelyu Zhelev signed a cooperation accord between
the two countries and several trade and economic documents. They also
discussed possibilities of piping Azerbaijani oil to Italy via Bulgaria,
Macedonia, and Albania. Zhelev stressed the importance of "an
alternative source of such strategic supplies." Bulgaria is currently
totally dependent on Russian gas and oil. A $35 million deal to export
Bulgarian buses to Azerbaijan was arranged, and concrete steps were
taken for a Bulgarian firm to build a pharmaceutical plant in
Azerbaijan. The two sides are also negotiating to import 6,000 tons of
Azerbaijani cotton to Bulgaria. International agencies reported that,
during his visit, Aliev confirmed that Bulgarian communist leaders
repeatedly tried to join the Soviet Union in the 1970s, but he said he
always "confidentially advised" them to stay independent. -- Stefan
Krause, OMRI, Inc.

GREECE ATTACKS CHIRAC. Greek Foreign Ministry spokesman Konstantinos
Bikas on 29 June lambasted French President Jacques Chirac for his
support of Turkey's aim to establish closer ties with the EU,
international agencies reported the same day. During the EU summit in
Cannes, Chirac proposed that the Union immediately forge closer links to
Turkey to strengthen its southern flank and to prevent the country from
slipping towards Islamic fundamentalism, even though he said he was
aware of Turkey's poor human rights record. Bikas said that Greece
disagrees and said the country "considers that the logic of
unconditional support for [Turkish Prime Minister Tansu] Ciller . . .
is simplistic and dangerous." He drew a parallel to the 1930s, when
"humanity had to pay a dear price for supporting Nazism in order to
fight Bolshevism." It was one of the strongest attacks the Greek
government has ever made on one of its European partners. -- Stefan
Krause, OMRI, Inc.

COUNCIL OF EUROPE APPROVES ALBANIAN MEMBERSHIP. The Council of Europe's
Parliamentary Assembly on 29 June approved Albania's application for
membership in the organization, international agencies reported the same
day. The approval came after Pjeter Arbnori, chairman of the Albanian
parliament, signed a declaration pledging to respect the CE's demands to
guarantee human rights and democracy. Albania promised to impose a
moratorium on the death penalty immediately and abolish it within three
years, introduce reforms guaranteeing the independence of the judicial
system, increase press freedom and adopt a new constitution. Also,
Albania has to sign the European convention on the rights and the
protection of ethnic minorities. The decision is due to be approved by
the CE's Committee of Ministers, probably in mid-July. Presidential
Spokesman Fatos Beja said the membership represents another step for
Albania's integration into the international community. -- Stefan
Krause, OMRI, Inc.

[As of 12:00 CET]

Compiled by Steve Kettle

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 OMRI Daily
Digest is distributed electronically via the OMRI-L list. To subscribe,
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OMRI also publishes the biweekly journal Transition, which contains
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Transition subscription information send an e-mail to TRANSITION@OMRI.CZ

            Copyright (C) 1995 Open Media Research Institute, Inc.
                             All rights reserved.


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