Each friend represents a world in us, a world possibly not born until they arrive, and it is only by this meeting that a new world is born. - Anaiis Nin
OMRI DAILY DIGEST

No. 237, Part II, 7 December 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, 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/Index.html

************************************************************************
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This week's edition includes stories on the economic turbulence in
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^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^TODAY'S TOP STORY^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^
DEPLOYMENT OF NATO TROOPS IN BOSNIA GETS UNDER WAY. The first U.S.
military flight landed in Tuzla on 6 December, bringing a 12-member
liaison team tasked with maintaining a permanent link with UN troops on
the ground until they are replaced by NATO forces, Reuters reported.
According to international media on 7 December, 10 planes arrived in
Sarajevo the previous day, despite delays owing to heavy snow. Of the
more than 700 military personnel the U.S. is contributing to NATO's
vanguard in Bosnia, only 41 had arrived by 6 December--the delay being
explained by the political sensitivity of having U.S. troops arrive
before the Bosnia peace accord is signed and before UN peacekeepers are
officially replaced by NATO troops. British soldiers arrived in Sarajevo
on 6 December and headed to Gornji Vakufas, where the 13,000 British
contingent will patrol central and western Bosnia. AFP on 7 December
quoted Pentagon officials as saying that mines, snipers, and the cold
weather will be the main obstacles that NATO troops face in Bosnia. A
British officer told news agencies that the new rules of engagement will
be very different from UNPROFOR's and that he intends to take firm
action against Bosnian Croat soldiers who torch and loot Serbian
villages. -- Daria Sito Sucic
^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^

CENTRAL AND EASTERN EUROPE

UKRAINE, ROMANIA WRANGLE OVER SERPENT ISLAND. Ukrainian officials are
dismayed by recent comments by Romanian Foreign Minister Teodor
Melescanu that his government is considering taking its claim on a tiny
Black Sea island, now part of Ukraine, to the International Court of
Justice in The Hague, international agencies reported on 6 December.
Ukrainian Foreign Minister Hennadii Udovenko told reporters during his
visit to China that the suggestion "was tantamount to Romania making
territorial claims on Ukraine." Udovenko said that Ukraine will not make
any territorial concessions and that it has decided to recall its
ambassador in Bucharest for consultations. Romania claims Serpent Island
was unjustly turned over by Communist authorities to the USSR in 1948.
According to Ukraine, there are potentially lucrative oil and gas
deposits off the coast of the island. Romanian claims on land annexed by
the Soviet government and now part of Ukraine have long held up the
signing of a border agreement between the two countries. -- Chrystyna
Lapychak

UKRAINIAN ECONOMIC RECESSION DEEPENS. An economic study conducted by the
Geneva-based International Labor Organization reveals that the ailing
Ukrainian economy is sinking further into recession, international
agencies reported 6 December. The report said industrial production in
Ukraine has halved since 1991, and a quarter of all managers fear
bankruptcy. Hidden unemployment affects one out of three factory
employees, with many on unpaid leave owing to their employers' inability
to pay wages. Some managers have paid workers in factory products or
food and health care goods, instead of money. The survey said some 15%
of women have been put on maternity leave, despite not being pregnant.
The official unemployment rate this year is 0.5% because many cases are
not reported. -- Chrystyna Lapychak

NEW LATVIAN GOVERNMENT. Prime Minister-designate Ziedonis Cevers
presented his cabinet to President Guntis Ulmanis on 6 December, BNS
reported. The cabinet consists only of members of the National
Conciliation Bloc, as efforts to garner the support of other right of
center parties have failed. It is composed of five ministers from
Cevers' Saimnieks party, four from the Popular Movement for Latvia, and
two each from the Unity and National Harmony Parties. Only three of the
ministers are not Saeima deputies. The Saeima session on 7 December,
voting on the approval of the government, was delayed two hours when it
was noticed that one of the deputies was absent. -- Saulius Girnius

ASIAN IMMIGRANTS DETAINED IN LITHUANIA. The police in Vilkaviskis Raion
arrested 92 Asian immigrants on 5 December, BNS reported the next day.
Twenty-eight of the immigrants came from Sri Lanka, 23 from Pakistan,
and 21 from Bangladesh. The police also found the corpse of a 29-year-
old Sri Lankan who apparently suffered from diabetes and died after his
supply of insulin was exhausted. Almantas Gavenas, deputy director of
the immigration department of the Interior Ministry, said all refugee
quarters have been overcrowded for a long time and that it is becoming
more difficult to persuade Belarus to take back illegal migrants. --
Saulius Girnius

BELARUSIAN PARLIAMENT CHAIRMAN DENIED TV APPEARANCE. Belarus Television
refused to broadcast a message from Mechyslau Hryb urging people to take
part in the second round of the parliamentary elections on 10 December.
Hryb then asked Russian Television and Radio Company Chairman Oleg
Poptsov to be allowed to appear on Russian Television to do so, RFE/RL
radio reported on 6 December. -- Saulius Girnius

SOLIDARITY TO CREATE ANTI-COMMUNIST BLOC. The National Commission of the
Solidarity trade union, at its meeting on 6 December, has said it wants
to create an anti-communist bloc. In order to gain entry to the
alliance, groups will have to support Solidarity's draft constitution
and agree to endorse citizens being allowed to own shares in state
property. Commission chairman Marian Krzaklewski said that Solidarity
will respect the Supreme Court's verdict on the validity of the
elections, which is expected to be announced on 9 December,
Rzeczpospolita reported on 7 December. -- Dagmar Mroziewicz

AMERICAN FINANCIAL GROUP TAKES STAKE IN CZECH TV STATION. Stratton
Investments, which in recent weeks has spent more than $200 million
acquiring controlling stakes in several Czech companies, on 6 December
bought 15% of the ailing television station Premiera for an undisclosed
figure, Czech media reported. Stratton, headed by financier Michael
Dingman, purchased the stake from Investicni a postovni banka (IPB),
which owned 45% of Premiera. A bank spokesman said IPB will sell a
further 20% by the end of the year. IPB has been looking for investors
for more than a year for Premiera, the first Czech commercial station to
go on the air. Since its debut in 1993, Premiera has been plagued by
financial difficulties and its status as a regional station; it reaches
only about 60% of the Czech Republic. Stratton's investment has to be
approved by the Board for Radio and Television Broadcasting. -- Steve
Kettle

SLOVAK OPPOSITION PARTY ON MEDIA. Party of the Democratic Left (SDL)
Chairman Peter Weiss, in a letter to parliamentary chairman Ivan
Gasparovic, has called for opposition representation on the boards
overseeing state-run Slovak Television (STV) and Slovak Radio (SRo),
Slovak media reported on 6 December. He also proposed the creation of a
commission to work out a new law on STV and SRo. Since November 1994,
the STV and SRo boards have consisted only of members proposed by the
ruling coalition. According to Weiss, STV is being "used directly in the
political battle." In particular, he criticized the two appearances by
Peter Krylov, who is the main witness against the son of Slovak
President Michal Kovac. -- Sharon Fisher

HUNGARIAN PARLIAMENT APPROVES MAIN POINTS OF 1996 BUDGET. The Hungarian
parliament, in a marathon session on 6 December, approved setting the
1996 budget deficit at 132.6 billion forint ($1 billion)--3 billion
forint more than originally planned--and the state sector deficit at
below 4% of GDP, Hungarian media reported. Deputies approved, among
other things, allocating 15 billion forint for a wage increase for
state-sector employees and a 2 billion forint subsidy for Budapest
public transportation. The vote on the 1996 budget came in the wake of
the passage on 5 December of an amendment to the law defining tax
brackets. In 1996, a 48% tax will be levied on annual gross incomes over
900,000 forint. -- Zsofia Szilagyi

MAX VAN DER STOEL IN BUDAPEST. OSCE High Commissioner on National
Minorities Max van der Stoel arrived in Budapest on 6 December on a
fact-finding mission to investigate the status of Hungarian minorities
in Slovakia, Romania, and Serbia. Van der Stoel held talks with Csaba
Tabajdi, state secretary at the Prime Minister's Office, who stressed
that international organizations must consider how to stop the
increasingly grave trends in the situation of Eastern Europe's
minorities. Tabajdi also asked Van der Stoel to use his good offices to
ensure that the Slovak language law takes effect simultaneously with a
minority language law offsetting some of the discriminatory provisions
of the law. The high commissioner later told reporters that he would
visit Bratislava in January to discuss the minority issue with Slovak
government officials in light of the contentious language law and
pending minority bill. -- Zsofia Szilagyi

EASTERN EUROPEAN FOREIGN MINISTERS ATTEND NACC MEETING. Foreign
ministers from neutral and former Warsaw Pact countries joined their
NATO counterparts in Brussels on 6 December for the semi-annual meeting
of the North Atlantic Cooperation Council, Western agencies reported.
The ministers were eager to take part in NATO's deployment operations in
Bosnia but were disappointed to hear that NATO has effectively shelved
plans for enlargement for at least a year. Bulgaria has proposed
participating in the NATO force, although Foreign Minister Georgi
Pirinski said this was unlikely to involve military troops and would
require external financing, BTA reported on 6 December. -- Michael
Mihalka

SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE

CHIRAC WARNS MILOSEVIC OVER FATE OF PILOTS. At a time when Serbian
President Slobodan Milosevic seems eager to make domestic and
international political capital out of his new-found role as a man of
peace, French President Jacques Chirac reminded him in a telephone call
on 6 December of his obligations stemming from the Dayton treaty. That
document, plus an earlier agreement between Belgrade in Pale, makes
Milosevic responsible for the conduct of the Bosnian Serbs. Chirac
warned Milosevic that if the two pilots shot down in August "were not
released in the coming days, France would be forced to draw all the
appropriate conclusions," the International Herald Tribune and Nasa
Borba reported on 7 December. The Bosnian Serbs originally said they
were holding the two men and providing medical treatment, but later
Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic claimed they had been "kidnapped"
by unknown abductors. -- Patrick Moore

BOSNIAN SERBS DENY KARADZIC'S IMMINENT DISMISSAL. After several days of
speculation that Milosevic was about to remove Karadzic from power (see
OMRI Daily Digest, 6 December 1995), Karadzic's colleagues have formally
denied the rumors. Pale's SRNA news agency said that the leadership "is
absolutely united on all the essential matters" and that the report,
first carried by the independent Beta agency, "is just another attempt
to cancel out the results of four years' struggle by the Serb people for
their basic right to liberty in their own country and in their own
state. This manner of proceeding has no chance of succeeding, because
the people and the army are backing [their] leaders, despite attempts to
sow dissension among them." -- Patrick Moore

GERMAN PARLIAMENT VOTES TO PARTICIPATE IN NATO BOSNIAN FORCE. By a
surprising vote of 543 to 107, the German parliament on 6 December voted
to send 4,000 troops to participate in the NATO force in the former
Yugoslavia, Western agencies reported. Even half of the deputies
belonging to the leftist Green party voted for the resolution, signaling
a considerable turnaround in German policy toward the region. As
recently as June, the Bundestag agreed by a vote of 386 to 258 to send
Tornados to support UN peacekeepers in Bosnia. Meanwhile, NATO officials
are expressing concern that the deployment of the civilian
administration provided for by the Dayton peace accord is not keeping
pace with that of its military counterpart. -- Michael Mihalka

SLOVENIA ENDS SANCTIONS AGAINST RUMP YUGOSLAVIA. STA reported on 6
December that Slovenia has become the first former Yugoslav republic to
lift sanctions regime against the rump Yugoslavia. The announcement
followed in the wake of a parliamentary vote held the previous day.
Despite the decision to lift sanctions, Ljubljana is to continue to
insist that all assets from the former Yugoslavia remain frozen until
their distribution can be negotiated. According to Ljubljana, its share
of assets includes at least $2 billion worth of property that remains in
the rump Yugoslavia. -- Stan Markotich

SERBIAN OPPOSITION PARTIES FORM "DEMOCRATIC ALLIANCE." BETA on 6
December reported that Milorad Jovanovic of the Democratic Party of
Serbia announced that his party has reached an agreement with the
Democratic Party, the Serbian Liberal Party, and the Parliamentary
People's Party to forge a coalition--the Democratic Alliance--in the
near future. While the objective is to coordinate efforts in upcoming
electoral contests, Jovanovic stressed that each party will "retain its
full autonomy." Jovanovic also remarked, presumably only on behalf of
his own party, that the presence of NATO troops in Bosnia amounts to "a
[foreign] invasion." Meanwhile, Nasa Borba on 7 December reported that
Milos Minic, former minister of foreign affairs, is appealing for the
release of General Vlada Trifunovic and several of his co-defendants.
Trifunovic and other officers are currently serving sentences for
undermining national security. In 1991, the Varazdin corps, which at the
time were under their command, fled from advancing Croatian troops. --
Stan Markotich

ROMANIAN-GERMAN RELATIONS THREATENED BY ROMANIAN CRIMINALS IN GERMANY.
Romanian Interior Minister Doru Ioan Taracila on 6 December began an
official visit to Germany to discuss cooperation between the two
countries' Interior Ministries in combating crimes committed by
Romanians on German territory, Radio Bucharest reported. German police
sources quoted by the Romanian press suspect that the criminals, who are
reported to be well trained, have links to the Bucharest authorities.
Die Welt quoted a high-ranking German government official as saying the
Romanian authorities' unwillingness to cooperate may affect relations
between the two countries, which he described as "tense." -- Matyas
Szabo

JEWISH BLOOD LIBEL REVIVED BY BABY SMUGGLING SCANDAL IN ROMANIA.
Romanian police on 6 December announced they had detained an Israeli
citizen and three Romanians in Iasi on suspicion of smuggling babies
across the border into Moldova and to Israel, Reuters reported the same
day. A spokesman for the police identified the Israeli citizen as Mahmud
Asadi, a Palestinian who converted to Judaism and claims to have been a
personal secretary to assassinated Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin.
Resurrecting a centuries-old anti-Semitic blood libel, the Bucharest
weekly Baricada had written in mid-November that there was no chance of
ever seeing the smuggled children alive because "as is well known,
Jewish matza [unleavened bread] demands kosher, young Christian blood."
But "as long as the Jewish Mafia" involved in "collecting kosher blood"
is protected by the Mossad, it is "unlikely" that proof of the horrible
deed can be produced, the weekly said. -- Michael Shafir

BULGARIAN STATE RADIO BOSS SACKS DEPUTY. Director-General of Bulgarian
National Radio Vecheslav Tunev on 4 December dismissed his deputy, Rayna
Konstantinova, saying it was "in the interest of the [radio's] work,"
Demokratsiya reported on 7 December. Tunev reportedly accused
Konstantinova of involvement in the protest staged by 53 BNR journalists
who accuse the radio's management of censorship. Konstantinova claims
not to have met with them, and her claim is supported by the dissenting
journalists. In an interview with 24 chasa, Tunev said the dismissal has
"neither political nor professional reasons." Konstantinova in an
interview with the same paper stressed that she did not have anything to
do with the program on which the journalists worked, since she was
responsible for BNR's foreign language service. -- Stefan Krause

BULGARIAN HEALTH MINISTER SAYS SHE WILL NOT RESIGN. Mimi Vitkova,
responding to demands by medical organizations and trade unions that she
resign, said on 6 December that there is no need for her to do so since
"the reform of the health care [system] is not blocked--on the contrary
it is starting to take effect," 24 chasa reported the following day.
Vitkova is accused of hindering reforms in the health care sector,
putting obstacles in the way of physicians running private practices,
and preventing the creation of an effective health insurance system.
Vitkova announced that a new salary scale will be introduced in 1996,
leading to a significant hike in doctors' incomes. The average salary
among physicians is currently 9,000 leva ($128). -- Stefan Krause

ARTICLE 19 EXPRESSES CONCERN OVER LUSTRATION LAW. The International
Center Against Censorship (also known as Article 19) sent a letter to
Albanian President Sali Berisha on 4 December expressing concern about
Albania's screening law, adopted on 30 November (see OMRI Daily Digest,
1 December 1995). Article 19 criticizes the fact that the commission
reviewing communist-era secret service files will be composed of seven
people nominated by the premier, the justice, defense and interior
ministers, the parliament, and the head of the secret service. The group
argues that the commission will not be independent and could veto the
right of citizens to participate in elections. It also says that since
journalists are included in the categories of people to be examined by
the commission, freedom of expression is endangered in Albania. --
Fabian Schmidt

[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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