It matters if you don't just give up. - Stephen Hawking
OMRI DAILY DIGEST

No. 180, Part II, 15 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

UPDATE ON BELARUSIAN BALLOON DOWNING. International agencies on 14
September reported that Maj.-Gen. Valerii Kastenka, commander of the
Belarusian air defense forces, was responsible for ordering the shooting
down of a hot air balloon that flew into Belarusian air space while
competing in an international race (see OMRI Daily Digest, 15 September
1995). The central command of the Belarusian air defense forces said it
had received no information on balloons entering Belarusian territory.
Belarusian authorities claim they attempted to establish radio contact
with the balloon but got no response. A combat helicopter was sent to
intercept it, and the pilots apparently did not see anyone in the
balloon even after firing warning shots. Deputy Foreign Minister Valeryi
Tsyapkala admitted that Belarus was guilty to a certain extent and said
an investigation would be launched. Two other balloons responded to
radio contact and were forced to land. Belarusian officials complained
that the balloon pilots did not have visas, and the crew of one balloon
went to Poland the following day with the proper documentation. Some
U.S. officials have expressed outrage over the incident, and the
American embassy in Minsk expressed concern that it was not informed of
the event until 24 hours later. -- Ustina Markus, OMRI, Inc.

HEAD OF BELARUSIAN NATIONAL BANK FIRED. International agencies on 15
September reported that President Alyaksandr Lukashenka accepted the
resignation of Stanislau Bahdankevich, head of the National Bank of
Belarus. Bahdankevich was reportedly advised to resign by a senior
member of Lukashenka's administration last week. A special commission is
to be established to monitor the bank, and Bahdankevich's deputy, Mykola
Kuzmich, will act as head. Bahdankevich opposed many of Lukashenka's
policies, including monetary union and the merger of a state bank with a
commercial one, which, he said, was meant to enhance the president's
control over the economy. -- Ustina Markus, OMRI, Inc.

UKRAINIAN FOREIGN MINISTER IN BRUSSELS. Ukrainian Foreign Minister
Hennadii Udovenko on 14 September signed an individual cooperation
program for Ukraine with NATO within the Partnership for Peace program,
Ukrainian Radio reported. The agreement states that any expansion of
NATO must be aimed at enhancing European security. After signing the
agreement with NATO Secretary-General Willy Claes in Brussels, Udovenko
said Ukraine is convinced that its participation in the cooperation
program will be instrumental in developing relations between Kiev and
NATO countries. Ukraine is the second country--after Russia--out of the
26 participating in the Partnership for Peace program to have an
individual "16 plus one" program . -- Ustina Markus, OMRI, Inc.

UKRAINIAN ECONOMIC NEWS. President Leonid Kuchma, speaking to a meeting
of leading Ukrainian economists, predicted that Ukraine's economy will
recover from its crisis in one to two years, Ukrainian TV reported on 14
September. He said the country cannot simply copy Western economic
models but should come up with a blueprint in which the government
continues to play a major role in the economy. Kuchma added that the
state sector's share of production has fallen to 60% and that the
government plans to reduce the number of state-owned enterprises to
between 15% and 25%. Kuchma said it will be difficult to keep its
promises to the IMF to cut monthly inflation to 1-2% by December and
halt the decline in industrial and agricultural production at the same
time. Meanwhile, the parliament voted the same day to approve a new law
on financial-industrial groups, chiefly aimed at encouraging Russian
investment in Ukrainian industry to save ailing Ukrainian enterprises,
Radio Ukraine reported. -- Chrystyna Lapychak, OMRI, Inc.

UKRAINE TO SELL TWO SPACE-MONITORING SHIPS. Ukraine will be forced to
sell two of the former Soviet Union's largest space monitoring ships
because it cannot afford to maintain them, Gen. Valery Litvinov, chief
of the agency for missile-space armaments in the Ukrainian Ministry of
Defense, told ITAR-TASS on 14 September. One of these ships is Cosmonaut
Yuri Gagarin, the world's largest ship fitted for scientific activities;
the other is Academician Sergei Koroleva, a similar ship bristling with
electronic tracking and communications equipment. Ukraine inherited the
two ships, formerly used to monitor and control Soviet space flights,
because they happened to be registered in the Ukrainian port. While
Litvinov would not name the country that wants to buy them, the press
has speculated that it is China. He said Ukraine may need them itself in
five years but cannot afford the money needed to repair and maintain
them. -- Doug Clarke, OMRI, Inc.

ESTONIAN ECONOMICS MINISTER TO FACE NO CONFIDENCE VOTE? Estonia media on
14 September reported that opposition deputy Tunne Kelam submitted a no
confidence bill against Minister of Economy Liina Tonisson. The bill was
backed by 22 deputies from the opposition. According to Kelam, there are
serious questions about privatization and the country's national
interests. Privatization has reportedly slowed in Estonia, and there
have been a number of scandals connected with the process. -- Ustina
Markus, OMRI, Inc.

POLISH COMMISSION RULES CONCORDAT DOES NOT VIOLATE CONSTITUTION. The
Parliament Commission on the Concordat, headed by Democratic Left
Alliance deputy Zbigniew Siemiatkowski, decided on 14 September that the
concordat--signed by Poland and the Holy See on 28 July 1993 and not
ratified yet--does not violate existing Polish "constitutional laws."
The commission, created in July 1994, has also been empowered to decide
whether the Concordat violates the Polish constitution that is currently
being drafted, Polish media reported on 15 September. -- Jakub
Karpinski, OMRI, Inc.

POLISH PRESS ON RUSSIAN COMECON MEMORANDUM. Polish dailies on 15
September reported that a memorandum on economic cooperation was sent by
the Russian Foreign Ministry to the Moscow embassies of the former
COMECON countries. The memorandum proposes cooperation between the CIS
countries and former COMECON countries, thus excluding the Baltic
States. Gazeta Wyborcza reports that it was impossible to find out who
was responsible for sending the memorandum. It also comments that Moscow
wants to see if there is support for COMECON's reconstruction. -- Jakub
Karpinski, OMRI, Inc.

CZECH COALITION PARTIES AGREE ON CREATION OF SENATE. Leaders of the four
parties in the Czech governing coalition on 14 September finally agreed
on how to create a second parliamentary chamber, Czech media reported.
The issue has divided the parties for almost 18 months, but now a
proposal from the dominant Civic Democratic Party (ODS) to elect one
senator in each of the 81 constituencies has been accepted. If the
parliament approves the plan, senatorial elections could be held jointly
with the parliamentary elections due next June. The coalition leaders
also accepted ODS proposals on other issues to be tackled before the
elections but remained divided on some important points such as Church
restitution and the creation of new administrative regions. The latter,
like the creation of the Senate, is stipulated in the 1992 constitution
but has yet to be implemented. -- Steve Kettle, OMRI, Inc.

AUSTRIAN COURT REFUSES BAIL TO SLOVAK PRESIDENT'S SON. An Austrian judge
on 14 September refused to release Michal Kovac Jr. on bail two weeks
after he was kidnapped, dumped in Austria, and arrested on fraud
charges, international media reported. A Munich prosecutor issued an
international arrest warrant for Kovac Jr. in November for an alleged
$2.3 million fraud, and Germany has asked Austria for his extradition.
It is widely suspected in Slovakia that the abduction of the president's
son was politically motivated, as Kovac Sr. has been involved in a long-
running dispute with Prime Minister Vladimir Meciar. President Kovac, in
an interview with Narodna obroda on 14 September, said he would not
resign over the matter and would be willing to leave office only if he
were "deeply convinced that it would help Slovakia, democracy, truth,
and justice." -- Sharon Fisher, OMRI, Inc.

HUNGARY FEELS INCREASINGLY ENDANGERED BY BOSNIAN CONFLICT. The
possibility of a military conflict involving Hungary has slightly
increased because the situation in the former Yugoslavia is still full
of question marks, Hungarian Foreign Minister Laszlo Kovacs said to
Hungarian newspapers on 14 September. He noted that while the chances of
settling the neighboring conflict have improved, Hungary "is more
endangered than before." Since the Croatian occupation of Krajina,
tension has increased along Hungary's borders, with the recent flood of
Krajina refugees upsetting the delicate balance of ethnic Hungarians in
Serbia's northern province of Vojvodina. -- Zsofia Szilagyi, OMRI, Inc.

SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE

NATO SUSPENDS AIR STRIKES AGAINST BOSNIAN SERBS . . . The UN and NATO on
14 September agreed to halt air strikes against the Bosnian Serbs
following meetings between US envoy and assistant Secretary of State
Richard Holbrooke and Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic,
international media reported. Also on 14 September, Bosnian Serb
military leader Ratko Mladic and his civilian counterpart, Radovan
Karadzic, agreed in Belgrade to the weapons withdrawal around Sarajevo.
Milosevic has pledged to exercise his influence over the Bosnian Serb
leadership in a bid to have them keep their word, but the extent of his
influence is unclear. According to a UN statement, air strikes may
resume after a 72-hour period should the Bosnian Serbs fail to comply
with their pledge to withdraw heavy artillery around the capital of
Sarajevo to outside the 20-km exclusion zone or should Bosnian Serb
forces attack safe areas. Karadzic on 15 September vowed the withdrawal
would be carried out. Meanwhile, international media have speculated
that the Rapid Reaction Force around Sarajevo may soon be replaced by
Italian and Russian troops. -- Stan Markotich, OMRI, Inc.

. . . WHILE BOSNIAN CROAT TROOPS ADVANCE. Reuters on 15 September quotes
Bosnian government radio as reporting that the Bosnian army's fifth
corps from Bihac captured the northwestern town of Bosanski Petrovac
from Bosnian Serb forces earlier the same day. Only hours earlier
government troops entered the nearby town of Kulen Vakuf. The offensive
has forced Serbian soldiers and civilians northward toward Banja Luka.
UN officials said they could not determine whether the Serbs were
carrying out a tactical retreat or had been routed. There were few signs
of any organized resistance around recently capture Jajce. Bosnian Radio
claims that many Serbian soldiers were captured in Bosanski Petrovac.
NATO Secretary General Willy Claes and his UN counterpart, Boutros
Boutros Ghali, called on "all the parties to cease immediately all
offensive military activities and hostile acts." They said they were
also "disturbed by reports of the exodus of large numbers of civilians
from the affected areas." -- Fabian Schmidt, OMRI, Inc.

OTHER BOSNIAN NEWS. Reuters on 14 September says a taped telephone call
between the Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic and an army officer at
the Lukavica barracks proves they tried to dupe the world into thinking
they were pulling their heavy weapons back from Sarajevo earlier this
month. Karadzic is quoted as telling the officer: "You have to prepare
something to start moving towards Trnovo in order for the cameras to
record it and send it to the world even if it means returning it during
the night." Meanwhile, a doctor in Doboj is quoted as saying that "145
[people have been] wounded [and] some 27 to 30 civilians have been
killed" since NATO air raids began on areas of eastern and northern
Bosnia. It remains unclear whether some of those were casualties of the
shelling of Doboj by government forces. Meanwhile the ICRC published a
report saying that about 8,000 Muslims from Srebrenica are still missing
and cannot be accounted for, international agencies reported. -- Fabian
Schmidt, OMRI, Inc.

ROMANIAN PRESIDENT WANTS TO BREAK HUNGARIAN IMPASSE. Ion Iliescu told a
Reuters correspondent on 14 September that he wanted to take the lead
with a "definitive step" toward rapprochement with Hungary. He added
that Hungarian Prime Minister Gyula Horn was receptive but gave no
details. Iliescu was speaking before a meeting with leaders of all
parliamentary parties that was aimed at enlisting support for his ideas.
Romanian TV reported that Iliescu presented three sets of documents
about to be sent to Budapest, one of which was a "code of conduct" for
dealing with the problem of national minorities. Iliescu last month
called for a "historic reconciliation" between Romania and Hungary. --
Michael Shafir, OMRI, Inc.

VOIGT WARNS ROMANIANS AGAINST EXTREMISM. North Atlantic Assembly
President Karsten Voigt told Radio Bucharest that Bucharest's chances
for NATO entry depended, among other things, on improving the country's
image abroad. Following a meeting with Ion Iliescu, Voigt said he told
the president that "if in the German parliament we had a group calling
itself Greater Germany, discontent and restlessness would be evident in
many countries. . . . [If] I were to learn that a group calling itself
Greater Romania is not only in the parliament but is also a member of
the government coalition, it would take a lot of explaining to convince
me that this does not mean the modification of borders." Meanwhile,
Corneliu Vadim Tudor, leader of the Greater Romania Party, wrote in the
party's weekly Politica that he would now wage "total war" against
director of the Romanian Information Service Virgil Magureanu. His
declaration follows the publication of documents released by the RIS
showing that Tudor was an informer of the Securitate, Nicolae
Ceausescu's secret police. -- Michael Shafir, OMRI, Inc.

ROMANIAN PENAL CODE WOULD RESTRICT PRESS FREEDOM. The Chamber of
Deputies on 14 September approved an article in the Penal Code that
would send journalists to jail for up to two years for offending a
person's honor or reputation, Radio Bucharest reported. A similar
version of the article was approved earlier this year by the Senate.
Journalists and some opposition members protested the new article,
saying its wording was vague and could be used to clamp down on
reporters who criticized the government. Following debates in the
Chamber of Deputies, President Ion Iliescu has to promulgate the text
agreed on by the two chambers after mediation. -- Michael Shafir, OMRI,
Inc.

SNEGUR ON NEGOTIATIONS WITH TIRASPOL. Moldovan President Mircea Snegur
has told Dmitrii Ryurikov, foreign policy adviser to Russian President
Boris Yeltsin, that Moldova is ready to consider new proposals for
solving the dispute with the breakaway republic of Transdniester in
order to continue dialogue and prevent a new outbreak of the armed
conflict. Infotag on 14 September reported that Moldovan officials
expressed "concern" to Ryurikov about information published in the media
on the delivery to the Tiraspol authorities of combat machinery and
other military equipment by the Russian contingent. Chisinau also
expressed discontent about the participation of Russian troops in the
recent celebrations of Transdniester's "independence day." -- Michael
Shafir, OMRI, Inc.

BULGARIA NOT INVOLVED IN ATTEMPT TO KILL POPE? Ali Agca, the man who
tried to kill Pope John Paul II in 1981, has said that Bulgaria was not
involved in the plot, Bulgarian newspapers reported on 13 September,
citing BTA reports from the previous day. Agca told Italian judges and
his lawyer that "the Bulgarian connection was completely fabricated."
According to 24 chasa, Agca said the CIA urged him to speak about a
Bulgarian involvement. Standart claims that a KGB agent was involved in
the attempt. Former BTA Director Boyan Traykov, in an article in Trud on
15 September, said Bulgarian officials now have to seek Bulgaria's total
rehabilitation. Demokratsiya, however, noted that Agca was branded a
liar, lunatic, and terrorist by people in Bulgaria who now say he is a
credible witness in an attempt to whitewash over the affair. -- Stefan
Krause, OMRI, Inc.

BULGARIAN MUSLIMS STAGE ANTI-GOVERNMENT PROTEST. Several hundred Muslims
demonstrated in Sofia on 14 September against what they described as
government interference in their religious affairs, Reuters reported the
same day. They accused the government of trying to "control [their] fate
. . . by administrative decree" and demanded the resignation of Hristo
Matanov, director of the government's Religions Directorate. The
demonstration was headed by Fikri Salih, who was elected chief mufti by
part of the Bulgarian Muslim community. His followers have protested
government backing for his rival, Nedim Gendzhev, who was chief Mufti
before 1989 and whose reelection to this post in 1994 is not recognized
by Salih followers. A statement issued by them said Gendzhev has
"nothing to do with religion" and "continues to promote atheism among
the Muslims." Matanov refused to resign, saying the Supreme Court backed
the cabinet's decision to appoint Gendzhev as chief mufti. -- Stefan
Krause, OMRI, Inc.

MIXED REACTIONS TO GREEK-MACEDONIAN AGREEMENT. The signing on 13
September of the Greek-Macedonian agreement met with mixed reactions in
both countries, AFP reported the following day. Greek government
spokesman Evangelos Venizelos called the agreement a "historic step,"
noting that Greek arguments were "accepted in their entirety."
Macedonian President Kiro Gligorov said the accord may be "a decisive
event for the future of the Balkans" and praised Greece's "realistic
attitude." The Greek press assessment of the accord ranged from
"historic" to "betrayal" and "shameful," while opposition leader
Miltiadis Evert said the agreement was unacceptable. Some 4,000
opposition supporters rallied in Skopje to protest the agreement,
calling it "contrary to the . . . interests of . . . Macedonia."
Opposition parties said it was a "shameful document [that harms]
Macedonia's national dignity." -- 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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