Upon the education of the people of this country the fate of this country depends. - Benjamin Disraeli 1804-1881
OMRI DAILY DIGEST

No. 173, Part II, 6 September 1995

This is Part II of the Open Media Research Institute's Daily Digest.
Part II is a compilation of news concerning Central, Eastern, 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

CENTRAL AND EASTERN EUROPE

SLOVAK PREMIER SAYS PRESIDENT MISINFORMED PUBLIC ABOUT SON'S KIDNAPPING.
Premier Vladimir Meciar, speaking on Slovak TV on 5 September, alleged
that President Michal Kovac misinformed the public about his son's
kidnapping in Bratislava and subsequent arrest in Austria on suspicion
of fraud (see OMRI Daily Digest, 5 September 1995). Meciar called
statements made by the President's Office "unqualified, misleading and
in many cases contradictory," Reuters reported. Meciar also accused the
president of giving "above average assistance in the case of his son"
and of obstructing investigations into the matter. The cabinet the same
day issued a statement expressing "understanding for the state of mind"
of the president. Although Kovac asked the Foreign Ministry to formally
request the return of his son from Austria, the cabinet expressed "firm
conviction that no doubts can be cast on the democratic legal systems of
Austria and Germany," which are now both involved in the case. -- Sharon
Fisher, OMRI, Inc.

SLOVAKIA ENDS CUSTOMS DUTIES ON IMPORTED CARS . . . Government spokesman
Tomas Hasala, following a cabinet session on 5 September, announced that
customs duties on imported cars will be dropped. The measure, aimed at
cutting down on vehicles emitting high levels of pollution, applies only
to new passenger cars with engines less than 1.5 liters. It is likely to
reduce their average retail price by up to 100,000 koruny ($3,300) and
will take effect in two weeks and last through the end of 1996. Until
now, imported cars faced 19% customs duty, plus a 10% import surcharge.
The measure is expected to reduce state budget income by 40 million
koruny by the end of 1995 and by 93 million in 1996, TASR reported. The
cabinet also approved its plan for financing the Mochovce nuclear power
plant. -- Sharon Fisher, OMRI, Inc.

. . . WHILE CZECHS ARE UPSET BY SLOVAK DECISION. Czech politicians said
the Slovak government's decision to scrap customs duties and import
surcharges on foreign cars breaches the customs union between the two
countries, Czech media reported on 6 September. "The customs union is
beneficial for the Czech Republic and the Slovak Republic and I don't
understand the attempts by Slovakia to break it," Prime Minister Vaclav
Klaus told reporters. The end of import duties will seriously affect the
competitiveness of Czech automaker Skoda's cars in Slovakia: under the
Czech-Slovak customs union, they were already exempt from import duties
and surcharges but now will be only a little cheaper than other foreign
models. Skoda spokesmen played down the Slovak announcement, but even
with its hitherto advantageous position, Skoda's sales in Slovakia have
plummeted since the breakup of Czechoslovakia. Klaus said he would
discuss the customs union with his Slovak counterpart, Vladimir Meciar,
at a CEFTA summit in Brno on 11 September. -- Steve Kettle, OMRI, Inc.

HUNGARY, SLOVAKIA TO DISCUSS GABCIKOVO DAM. A spokesman for the
Hungarian Ministry of Foreign Affairs on 5 September told journalists in
Budapest that experts from Hungary and Slovakia will meet "in the coming
days" to discuss the Gabcikovo dam on the Danube River, international
media reported. In 1989, Hungary abandoned the Slovak-Hungarian project,
launched in 1977, claiming it was ecologically harmful. Slovakia went
ahead with its part of the project, while Hungary took its case to the
International Court of Justice in the Hague in 1993. Hungarian Prime
Minister Gyula Horn and his Slovak counterpart, Vladimir Meciar,
recently agreed to try to settle the dispute over the dam before the
court reaches a verdict. The Hungarian Foreign Ministry spokesman said
the experts will "clarify in which areas the two sides could reach
agreement in theory. He noted an out-of-court settlement would help
bilateral ties. -- Jiri Pehe, OMRI, Inc.

SERBIAN MINISTERS IN HUNGARY. Serbian Deputy Prime Minister Slobodan
Babic and Minister of Industry Oskar Fodor arrived in Hungary for a two-
day visit on 5 September, Reuters reported the same day. Hungarian
Political State Secretary Csaba Tabajdi, who is responsible for national
minority issues, held talks with the delegation. He later said that
"Hungary is monitoring the fate of the Hungarians in Vojvodina very
closely and a long-term solution of the problem there is a test of the
two countries' relations." About 300,000 ethnic Hungarians live in
Vojvodina and have expressed fears that they will be driven out by
ethnic Serbian refugees from Krajina. -- Fabian Schmidt, OMRI, Inc.

POLISH OFFICIAL QUESTIONS BACKING FOR NATO. Deputy Defense Minister
Andrzej Karkoszka, speaking at a Sejm committee hearing on the
Partnership for Peace program on 5 September, stressed that NATO
membership would require Polish combat troops to participate in the
alliance's military operations. He questioned whether the public would
back putting Polish soldiers at risk in this way. Defense Committee
chairman Jerzy Szmajdzinski of the ruling Democratic Left Alliance
proposed a public debate on the subject. Opposition deputies criticized
the proposal, arguing that the public is well aware of the implications
of NATO membership. Karkoszka set the cost for Poland's PFP
participation at 20 million zloty ($8 million) this year, Rzeczpospolita
reported. -- Louisa Vinton, OMRI, Inc.

UKRAINIAN PARLIAMENT RECONVENES. The Ukrainian parliament began its
fourth session on 5 September with a speech by Socialist speaker
Oleksander Moroz, who criticized the country's continuing economic
decline, Radio Ukraine reported the same day. Citing government
statistics, Moroz said an almost 14% decrease in industrial output and a
22% drop in the production of consumer goods in the first half of 1995
showed that President Leonid Kuchma's tight fiscal policies were
insufficient. He said some signs of financial stabilization in the first
six months of the year proved weak and short-lived, with inflation
growing since June and the Ukrainian karbovanets having been recently
devalued. The legislature is expected to debate 300 issues, including
100 bills and amendments related to economic reform. Among these will be
the 1996 draft budget, the government's program for next year, and the
draft of a new Ukrainian constitution. -- Chrystyna Lapychak, OMRI, Inc.

SOCIALISTS PROTEST END TO RUSSIAN-LANGUAGE SCHOOLING IN LVIV. Members of
the Socialist Party and the leftist Civic Congress of Ukraine have been
on hunger strike since 1 September protesting a decision by the Lviv
City Council to stop enrolling students in the city's last remaining
Russian-language class, UNIAN reported 4 September. The council of the
heavily ethnic Ukrainian city ruled on 23 May to halt enrollment of
first-year students in the city's only Russian-language class at
Secondary School No. 9. Pavlo Khobzey, who heads the city's education
department, has threatened to resign if Kiev orders Lviv to renew
enrollment in the classes. -- Chrystyna Lapychak, OMRI, Inc.

PARLIAMENT VS. PRESIDENT IN BELARUS. Reuters and Belarusian Radio on 5
September reported that Chairman of the Supreme Soviet Mechyslau Hryb
has accused President Alyaksandr Lukashenka of violating deputies'
rights and seeking to increase his authority at the expense of the
courts and legislature. Hryb's statement followed confirmation that
Lukashenka passed a decree suspending deputies' immunity from arrest.
Hryb asked the Constitutional Court to rule on the legality of the
decree, while Lukashenka retaliated by withdrawing all draft laws
forwarded to the parliament for approval. -- Ustina Markus, OMRI, Inc.

ESTONIAN CONSUL-GENERAL IN ST. PETERSBURG CALLS FOR BETTER TRADE
RELATIONS. Estonian Consul-General in St. Petersburg Mart Volmar,
speaking to Smena on 5 September, complained that imports from Russia
are declining and that Russian exporters are using Finland as a transit
route to the West rather than Estonia. He attributed Russia's reluctance
to trade with Estonia to political considerations. Russia wants easier
access to Estonia for Russians who live near the border but work or own
property in Estonia. Volmar said the Estonian government is working on a
draft law to facilitate border crossings between the Russian city of
Ivangorod and the mostly Russian-speaking Estonian city of Narva. --
Brian Whitemore, OMRI, Inc., in St. Petersburg

CANADIAN FOREIGN MINISTER IN LATVIA. Andre Ouellet, during a brief trip
to Riga on 4 September, held talks with President Guntis Ulmanis, Prime
Minister Maris Gailis, and Foreign Minister Valdis Birkavs, LETA
reported the next day. Ouellet expressed support for Latvia's
integration into NATO, stressing the need for Latvia to participate
actively in the Partnership for Peace program. Birkavs said that
agreement was reached on Canadian aid for cleaning up environmental
damage at former Soviet military bases.  -- Saulius Girnius, OMRI, Inc.

SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE

NATO CONTINUES ATTACKS AGAINST BOSNIAN SERBS . . . War planes of the
Atlantic alliance suspended their assaults late on 5 September owing to
bad weather but resumed them again the next morning. The BBC said they
were "revisiting" the targets they had hit the previous week. The
Lukavica barracks near Sarajevo appear to have been destroyed. Nasa
Borba on 6 September reported that the Majevica communications tower,
linking Pale with other Serbian conquests in Bosnia, has also become
history. The Rapid Reaction Force near Sarajevo again shelled Bosnian
Serb positions. A UN press release quoted Secretary-General Boutros
Boutros Ghali as saying the Serbs must choose between continued air
strikes and meeting the Security Council's demands. A U.S. spokesman
told the VOA that the air attacks may continue even after peace talks
begin on 8 September. In anticipation of those discussions, the Bosnian
and Croatian presidents met in Split on 5 September to harmonize their
positions. -- Patrick Moore, OMRI, Inc.

. . . WHILE MLADIC REMAINS DEFIANT. "If you bomb us, we will defend
ourselves. The more they bombard us, the stronger we are." This was the
reaction of Bosnian Serb commander General Ratko Mladic to the air
strikes resumed around 1:00 p.m. on 5 September after a break of more
than three days, the International Herald Tribune reported the next day.
The VOA said Mladic was "true to form," and also threatened to wage a
Vietnam-style protracted war against his attackers. His men fired on
Sarajevo, wounding some civilians and sending UN forces to their
shelters. The BBC quoted Bosnian Prime Minister Haris Silajdzic as
saying the air strikes will accelerate the peace process. The Rijeka
daily Novi list argued that the coming seven days will be "decisive" in
the conflict. -- Patrick Moore, OMRI, Inc.

WAR CRIMES TRIBUNAL LAUNCHES INVESTIGATIONS OF CROATS. The International
Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia has formally begun looking
into charges against the Croats stemming from their retaking of Krajina
in early August. The Hague-based body had previously taken such measures
only against the Serbs, the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung noted on 6
September. UN spokesman Chris Gunness told news agencies the previous
day that 50 bodies have been found in the area and that the first
reports have emerged of the destruction or desecration of Serbian
Orthodox churches. Slobodna Dalmacija on 6 September discussed a report
by the International Helsinki Federation on the alleged systematic
torching of Serbian homes and property. Politika wrote that Serbian
lawyers intend to challenge a threat by the speaker of the Croatian
lower house of parliament to confiscate property left behind by fleeing
Krajina Serbs. Novi list quoted liberal legislator Vlado Gotovac as
warning that the ruling party's political behavior over the re-conquest
foreshadowed "the Croatian way to totalitarianism." -- Patrick Moore,
OMRI, Inc.

SERBS EXPEL MORE REFUGEES FROM BANJA LUKA. AFP reported on 5 September
that Bosnian Serbs have rounded up some 2,000 Croats and Muslims in a
football field prior to deportation. Since 15 August, the Serbs have
driven out some 17,582 people and another 11,000 are expected to follow.
The Serbs began the systematic "ethnic cleansing" of the region's once
large Croatian and Muslim populations in 1992. They have also tried to
eliminate all physical traces of those communities and have destroyed
all of Banja Luka's mosques, including two that were UNESCO-registered
international cultural properties. -- Patrick Moore, OMRI, Inc.

HOLBROOKE MEETS WITH MILOSEVIC. U.S. envoy Richard Holbrooke continued
peace talks with Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic in Belgrade on 5
September, Reuters reported the same day. Milosevic strongly protested
the resumption of air strikes. But Holbrooke said "the meeting in other
ways was productive," adding that he did not believe the NATO attacks
would jeopardize the planned meeting of foreign ministers from Croatia,
Bosnia, and rump Yugoslavia in Geneva on 8 September. Milosevic, who has
formed an alliance with Bosnian Serb General Ratko Mladic against
Bosnian Serb political leader Radovan Karadzic, promised the withdrawal
of Bosnian Serb weapons from the exclusion zone around Sarajevo. Mladic,
however, has challenged Milosevic by resuming the shelling of the
Bosnian capital. -- Fabian Schmidt, OMRI, Inc.

RESTITUTION OF JEWISH PROPERTY IN ROMANIA. Chamber of Deputies chairman
Adrian Nastase on 5 September said that "synagogues confiscated by the
former regime and turned into warehouses should be restored to the
Jewish community," Reuters reported the same day. The agency stressed
that Nastase was referring only to property owned by the Jewish
community, not to real estate confiscated from individuals by Romania's
fascist and communist governments. The Israeli parliament in July passed
a resolution demanding that Romanian Jews be compensated for properties
they were dispossessed of. President Ion Iliescu rejected that demand.
Iulian Sorin, secretary of the Federation of Jewish Communities of
Romania, revealed soon afterward that a commission to study the return
of property belonging to the Jewish community had been set up within the
Council for the National Minorities. Nastase's 5 September statement
comes amid preparations for Iliescu's unofficial meeting with U.S.
President Bill Clinton in Washington on 26 September. Two U.S.
congressmen had protested Romania's stance on the matter in July, and
U.S. Ambassador to the EU Steward Eisenstadt discussed the matter with
Foreign Minister Teodor Melescanu in Bucharest in late August. --
Michael Shafir, OMRI, Inc.

ROMANIAN INTERNATIONAL MILITARY CONTACTS. Radio Bucharest on 5 September
announced that Romanian and Hungarian troops have conducted joint
military exercises within the framework of the Partnership for Peace
program. The nature of the exercises, held in Timis County, was not
specified. Defense Minister Gheorghe Tinca will attend a ceremony
marking the end of the exercises on 6 September. Meanwhile, Radio
Bucharest also reported that Chief of Staff Maj.-Gen. Dumitru Cioflina
has returned from a visit to Greece to discuss Balkan collaboration on
improving regional security. Greece proposed that former Yugoslav states
that have a "clear political identity and status" also participate.
Radio Bucharest the same day reported the departure for Angola of a new
battalion of Romanian peacekeeping forces. Col. Lucian Radulescu was
quoted as saying that Romanian peacekeepers in Angola will total 659. --
Michael Shafir, OMRI, Inc.

MORATORIUM EXTENDED ON CHISINAU STRIKES. The strike committee of
students and teachers has decided to extend the moratorium on protests
declared on 4 May, Infotag and BASA-press reported on 5 September. The
committee said the government has not met the strikers' economic demands
but that it has nevertheless decided not to resume demonstrations on 6
September. The decision took into account both President Mircea Snegur's
initiative to amend the constitution's provisions on the state language
and the harvesting season. Meanwhile, Snegur on 5 September submitted to
the parliament draft amendments to the property law and to land-
ownership related legislation, Infotag reported the same day. His
proposals are aimed at facilitating the sale and purchase of land.
According to current legislation, land can be neither sold nor purchased
before 2001. -- Michael Shafir, OMRI, Inc.

GONZALEZ SAYS SPAIN WILL HELP BULGARIA TO JOIN NATO, EU. Spanish Prime
Minister Felipe Gonzalez, during his two-day visit to Sofia, said on 5
September that his country will support Bulgaria's efforts to join NATO
and the European Union, Reuters and Demokratsiya reported. According to
Gonzalez, the EU "has an obligation to expand eastwards . . . [and]
Bulgaria has the right to belong to the EU." But he noted that meeting
EU requirements will be "difficult and complicated" for Bulgaria.
Gonzalez said Spain will also support Bulgaria's bid to join NATO,
saying "no other country has the right to veto such a decision."
Bulgarian Prime Minister Zhan Videnov said his country has a long way to
go to comply with EU standards. Experts estimate that the country has to
adopt about 2,000 new laws to meet EU legislative standards, Videnov
said. -- Stefan Krause, OMRI, Inc.

VANCE SAYS GREECE TO LIFT MACEDONIAN EMBARGO. UN mediator in the Greek-
Macedonian conflict Cyrus Vance on 5 September said Greece will lift the
trade blockade on Macedonia as soon as an agreement between the two
countries is signed, Western agencies reported the same day. In return,
Macedonia will change its flag and amend certain articles of its
constitution. The agreement is expected to be signed by Greek Foreign
Minister Karolos Papoulias and his Macedonian counterpart, Stevo
Crvenkovski, in New York early next week. Vance called the meeting "the
culmination of a long mediation effort" and added that the agreement
will cover all outstanding issues, except for the name of the former
Yugoslav republic, which will be discussed separately. Vance said that
he does not expect the name issue to be resolved before the opening of
the next UN General Assembly on 19 September. Both the Greek government
and Skopje hailed the announcement, with the former denying it had bowed
to U.S. pressure. -- 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
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            Copyright (C) 1995 Open Media Research Institute, Inc.
                             All rights reserved. ISSN 1211-1570


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