Every individual has a place to fill in the world, and is important, in some respect, whether he chooses to be so or not. - Nathaniel Hawthorne
OMRI DAILY DIGEST

No. 239, Part II, 11 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

^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^TODAY'S TOP STORY^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^
LONDON CONFERENCE DISCUSSES BOSNIA. Some 52 countries and international
organizations took part in the meeting on 8-10 December to plan the
reconstruction of the war-torn republic. The Frankfurter Allgemeine
Zeitung reported on 11 December that the session approved a 47-point
document setting down the broad guidelines that will have to be fleshed
out. A steering committee has been set up and chief EU negotiator Carl
Bildt will serve as its head. Bildt's first task centers on Sarajevo. He
told Nasa Borba that "the civilian [reconstruction] aspect is the real
key to a lasting peace." -- Patrick Moore
^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^

CENTRAL AND EASTERN EUROPE

CRIMEAN PRIME MINISTER VOTED OUT OF OFFICE. The Crimean parliament on 8
December voted by 73 to 8 to remove Anatolii Franchuk from the post of
prime minister, international agencies reported. The reason given for
his dismissal was the failure to improve the economic situation on the
peninsula. Crimean deputy Volodymyr Klychnikov said electricity was
being cut off throughout the region, salaries had not been paid in
months, and Crimea was not at all prepared for the winter. In March, the
Crimean parliament voted to remove Franchuk, but the decision was
reversed by a presidential decree from Kiev placing Crimea's government
under Ukrainian control. Franchuk favored improving relations with
Ukraine and was considered to have influence with President Leonid
Kuchma. Nonetheless, he was viewed with suspicion by Crimean politicians
who expressed reservations about his business links. -- Ustina Markus

UKRAINIAN ELECTIONS ARE UNSUCCESSFUL . . . Another round of by-elections
took place in 45 constituencies in Ukraine on 10 December to complete
the country's 450-member parliament, international agencies reported.
Preliminary results indicate the elections were valid in only 16
districts, with turnout in the remainder below the required 50%. But a
second round may be necessary in most of the 16 districts where
elections were deemed valid, because the winning candidate has to win
over 50% of the votes cast. The strict provisions of Ukraine's election
law made it necessary to hold a series of repeat elections after the
first round of parliamentary elections in March 1994. In May 1995, a
six-month moratorium was placed on elections because of the cost and
because voter apathy continued to be in evidence. -- Ustina Markus

. . . WHILE BELARUS FINALLY ELECTS PARLIAMENT. Preliminary results
indicate that Belarus has succeeded in electing a parliament in the 10
December by-elections, international agencies reported. Since May, when
voters elected only 119 deputies to the 260-seat legislature (55 short
of the two-thirds necessary for the new legislature to convene),
President Alyaksandr Lukashenka has refused to acknowledge the
legitimacy of the old parliament and has sought to impede by-elections
in the apparent hope that he could impose direct presidential rule.
Voter turnout was put at 52.4% in the December runoffs, and a further 59
deputies were elected, bringing the total number of deputies to 198. --
Ustina Markus

UN SUPPORTS LITHUANIAN PARLIAMENTARY INSPECTORS. Seimas Chairman
Ceslovas Jursenas and Cornelius Klein, a representative of the UN
Development Program in Lithuania, signed an agreement on 8 December
providing $270,000 for the parliamentary institute of ombudsmen,
established in Lithuania in 1994, BNS reported. Algirdas Taminskas, who
is head of the institute, said that although the official document
providing assistance has just been signed, the UN has been financing
their projects for more than a year. The ombudsmen have used the UN . --
Saulius Girnius

POLISH SUPREME COURT VALIDATES PRESIDENTIAL ELECTIONS. The Polish
Supreme Court on 9 December announced that the November presidential
elections were valid and that Aleksander Kwasniewski is therefore
Poland's legally elected president for the next five years, Polish media
reported. The decision was not unanimous, however, and was based on
rulings by three panels of judges. The panels were unanimous that
Kwasniewski violated the elections law by giving false information about
his education, but they were divided over the effect that the
misinformation had on the election result. The Supreme Court's ruling
that it had no decisive influence cannot be appealed. Kwasniewski will
be sworn in on 23 December. -- Jakub Karpinski

WALESA SENDS TAX BILL TO CONSTITUTIONAL TRIBUNAL. President Lech Walesa
sent the tax bill to the Constitutional Tribunal on 8 December, saying
it "infringes on the principles of a democratic law-based state,"
Rzeczpospolita reported the next day. The bill introduces six tax
brackets, abolishes indexation, cancels deductions for those who give
money or goods to family members, and limits deductions for private
health care. If the Constitutional Tribunal rules that the bill is
constitutional, the president has to sign it immediately. -- Dagmar
Mroziewicz

CZECHS APPROVE TROOPS FOR BOSNIA, NATO TRANSIT. The Czech parliament on
8 December agreed to send a Czech military unit to join the NATO peace
implementation force (IFOR) in Bosnia, as well as approving the transit
of NATO and other foreign troops across the Czech Republic, Czech media
reported. Government and opposition deputies voted for the proposals,
which were opposed only by the extreme left and extreme right. The
Czechs intend to send an 850-man mechanized battalion that will be part
of the Canadian brigade in the British sector in Bosnia. More than 1,000
Czech soldiers have already volunteered to serve in the battalion. By 10
December, four NATO trains from Germany had crossed the Czech Republic
and Slovakia and entered Hungary, where troops and equipment will gather
before going to Bosnia. The Slovak parliament approved the transit on 7
December. -- Doug Clarke and Steve Kettle

ROMA DEMONSTRATE AGAINST RACISM IN CZECH CAPITAL. Between 200 and 400
people, mostly Roma, on 10 December gathered in Prague to demonstrate
against racism and to commemorate the 28 Roma killed in racially
motivated attacks in the Czech Republic over the last three years.
Romani leaders and a Prague rabbi addressed the crowd. Placards bore
messages recalling Auschwitz and Lety concentration camps, pictures of
Martin Luther King and Vaclav Havel, and phrases such as: "Nazism is
alive in this country." -- Alaina Lemon

SLOVAK POLITICAL UPDATE. Prior to the opening of the parliamentary
session on 11 December, which will deal with the ratification of the
Slovak-Hungarian treaty, Robert Fico of the opposition Party of the
Democratic Left (SDL) on 9 December challenged the coalition to start
talks with the opposition if it lacks sufficient support for the treaty.
Fico stressed that his party will not publicize its position on the
treaty until the document is presented in the parliament. Meanwhile, the
SDL has said the draft budget, which is to be discussed at the same
session, is "unacceptable." The Democratic Party has also rejected the
draft, criticizing in particular increased funds for the government
office and the Slovak Information Service. In other news, the Slovak
Cultural Ministry on 8 December announced that it has created a working
group to draw up a bill on the protection of minority languages, TASR
reported. -- Sharon Fisher

HUNGARY SIGNS ELECTRICITY, GAS PRIVATIZATION CONTRACTS. The State
Privatization and Holding Company (APV Rt.) on 8 December signed
contracts with the new owners of minority stakes in Hungarian
electricity companies and majority stakes in the country's gas
companies, Hungarian media reported. The sales brought the APV Rt.'s
total revenues for 1995 to an estimated 233 billion forint. The major
investors include the German consortium RWE-Energie-Versorgung Schwaben,
Bayernwerk, and Isar Amperwerk; the French Electricite de France and Gaz
de France; and the Belgian concern Powerfin S.A. -- Zsofia Szilagyi

FIRST U.S. TRANSPORT PLANES LAND IN HUNGARY. The first Hercules C-130
transport planes, carrying 115 U.S. soldiers, landed in southwestern
Hungary's Taszar air base on 9 December, Hungarian media reported.
Meanwhile, Col. Jozsef Ronkovics, a department head at Budapest's Lajos
Kossuth Military College, has been appointed commander of Hungary's 500-
strong technical contingent that will be part of the Bosnian
peacekeeping forces. Defense Minister Gyorgy Keleti said the Hungarian
contingent will be under British command and will help build and
maintain roads and bridges, carrying weapons to be used in self-defense
only, Magyar Nemzet reported. -- Zsofia Szilagyi

SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE

FRANCE'S ULTIMATUM ON PILOTS RUNS OUT. The London meeting on the
reconstruction of Bosnia was overshadowed by a French demand that the
Bosnian Serbs free the two downed airmen by 10 December or face
unspecified consequences. The Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung the next
day said that his colleagues were supportive of the French foreign
minister, and Germany's Klaus Kinkel pointed out that 50 of the 200
foreign casualties in the conflict have been French. The French have
used tough but vague language to describe what they would do if the
Serbs did not comply. CNN said that the Serbs remained silent as the
deadline went past, and AFP noted that the usually loquacious Bosnian
Serb leader Radovan Karadzic refused to give an interview. -- Patrick
Moore

OSCE APPROVES BOSNIAN MISSION. The OSCE, at a two-day meeting of its
foreign ministers in Budapest on 7-8 December, has taken on its greatest
challenge in its 20-year history by agreeing to oversee elections, arms
control, and human rights in Bosnia, Western agencies reported. But it
failed to agree on an individual to head its mission, with France
opposing the U.S candidate. Many delegates expressed doubts as to
whether the OSCE, which has few resources of its own, is up to the job.
"Even if the military operation succeeds to the extent that you can
establish security on the ground, it will not succeed if you don't
manage to get elections going, to get the reconstruction of civil
society," OSCE Secretary-General Wilhelm Hoynck said. -- Michael Mihalka

BOSNIAN SERB LEADERSHIP WANTS KARADZIC IN PARIS. Speaker of the Bosnian
Serb legislature Momcilo Krajisnik said in Banja Luka on 9 December that
the leadership of the Republika Srpska insists that its head, Radovan
Karadzic, attend the peace conference in Paris on 14 December and sign
the final peace agreement, AFP and Nasa Borba reported on 11 December.
He said that his government's delegation has not been consulted about
the final version of the Dayton treaty and has not signed it. He also
said that "no integral Bosnia" will exist after Dayton, claiming that
the "full political independence" of the Republika Srpska has been
agreed to. Meanwhile, Karadzic again warned the international community
that having Sarajevo's Serbs under Moslem authorities would create "a
Beirut," the BBC reported on 11 December. -- Daria Sito Sucic

IZETBEGOVIC REASSURES SARAJEVO'S SERBS. Bosnian President Alija
Izetbegovic promised that all foreign Islamic fighters in his country
will be sent home within 30 days, the International Herald Tribune
reported on 11 December. He added that his government will work to
reassure the 60,000-70,000 Sarajevo Serbs who will pass from Pale's to
government control under the Dayton agreement. He added that the anxious
population "is not fully informed of the provisions" of the treaty. Nasa
Borba noted that the Croats and Muslims under Pale's rule have not asked
for special guarantees, and that General Ratko Mladic offered none for
the 70,000 Bosnian Serbs who remained loyal to the Bosnian government
when Mladic's men shelled the city. The Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung
pointed out that traditionally Sarajevo has not had ethnic ghettos,
which are a concept of the nationalists. Elsewhere, Hina said on 10
December that the Bosnian Croat parliament approved the Dayton treaty,
albeit with misgivings over northern Bosnia. -- Patrick Moore

BELGRADE MINISTER INTENSIFIES INTEGRATION EFFORTS. BETA on 9 December
quoted Foreign Minister Milan Milutinovic as saying at the London
Conference on Bosnia-Herzegovina that Belgarde has given "a big boost to
the [Balkan] peace process" and for that reason should have "the right
to suitable relations with the EU, the International Monetary Fund, the
World Bank, and other institutions." Milutinovic also used the
opportunity to aruge once again that Belgrade was a victim of
circumstances and not involved in instigating and supporting the war. "I
would say that [the rump] Yugoslavia, because of the war in its
neighborhood and because of the sanctions it was subjected to, has
endured serious economic hardships," he added. -- Stan Markotich

ROMANIAN FOREIGN MINISTER ON UKRAINE, BOSNIA. Returning from London,
where he participated in the international conference on the Dayton
agreement, Foreign Minister Teodor Melescanu told Radio Bucharest on 9
December that he and his Ukrainian counterpart have decided to prepare a
summit meeting between the two countries' prime ministers to discuss
"steps that may be conducive to the conclusion of the bilateral treaty"
between the two countries. Melescanu added that Romania has expressed
its readiness to contribute to the NATO peacekeeping force with non-
combat units. NATO's secretary-general approved his proposal and details
are to be worked out soon, he said. Melescanu also noted that Romania
wanted to contribute to the group of experts that will oversee the
implementation of the human rights provisions of the Dayton agreements.
-- Michael Shafir

HUNGARIANS PROTEST ROMANIAN EDUCATION LAW. Thousands of ethnic Hungarian
high-school students protested Romania's controversial education law,
which, they say, discriminates against their language, Romanian and
international media reported on 8 December. An estimated 3,000 pupils
from the Transylvanian town of Sfantu Gheorghe demanded equal rights,
equal chances, and education in [their] mother tongue." The protesters
also demanded the return of Church property seized by the communists.
Meanwhile, the Hungarian minority announced it will suspend its protest
actions, started at the beginning of the school year, until after the
winter holidays. -- Matyas Szabo

MOLDOVA ABOLISHES CAPITAL PUNISHMENT. The Moldovan parliament on 8
December voted unanimously to abolish the death penalty, Moldovan and
international agencies reported. Sentences ranging from 25 years to life
will be meted out for such crimes as high treason, murder, terrorism,
desertion during war, and rape of minors. "This is an important step
toward bringing Moldovan legislation in line with that of other European
countries," Deputy Parliamentary Speaker Dumitru Diacov said. Since
1991, 21 death penalties have been handed out. None has been carried out
in Moldova, but an unknown number of people have been sent to Russia and
Ukraine for execution. -- Matyas Szabo

BULGARIAN JOURNALISTS FORM UNION. Some 64 journalists working for
Bulgarian National Radio (BNR) on 7 December formed a trade union called
Svobodno Slovo (Free Word), Demokratsiya reported. Most belong to the
group of journalists who have accused BNR's management of censorship
(see OMRI Daily Digest, 27 November 1995). Representatives of the new
union met with BNR Director-General Vecheslav Tunev to talk about
procedural rules under which they will hold talks with the BNR
management. Tunev on 8 December declared on BNR that the dissenting
journalists have no desire for a constructive dialogue and that they
have served the interests of all systems--from the communist era to the
present day--"with the same servility." -- Stefan Krause

SLOVAK PRIME MINISTER IN BULGARIA. Vladimir Meciar, on a visit to Sofia
from 7-8 December, met with his Bulgarian counterpart, Zhan Videnov, and
parliamentary chairman Blagovest Sendov, RFE/RL reported. The two
premiers signed five bilateral agreements, including one calling for the
elimination of tariffs between the two countries within three years.
Videnov and Meciar told the press that they have agreed on coordinated
efforts toward European integration. During a visit to Slovenia earlier
last week, Meciar won Slovenian support for Bulgarian membership in the
Central European Free Trade Agreement (CEFTA). On returning to
Bratislava, Meciar said that as a result to his visit to Ljubljana and
Sofia, his country now has "an open road to three seas"--the Baltic, the
Adriatic, and the Black Sea. -- Stefan Krause

BULGARIAN BUDGET DEFICIT EXCEEDS PROJECTION. By the end of November,
Bulgaria's budget deficit had reached 54 billion leva ($766 million), as
compared with the projected deficit of 48 billion leva ($681 million),
Leff Information Service quoted Finance Minister Dimitar Kostov as
saying on 7 December. This puts the deficit at close to 7.5% of GDP.
Kostov also predicted that December-to-December consumer price inflation
for 1995 would be 35%. In a commentary in 24 chasa on 11 December, the
opposition deputy Ventsislav Dimitrov pointed out that the increase in
the deficit is due to the government's decision in April to help improve
the balance sheets of two ailing state commercial banks. -- Michael
Wyzan

BERISHA PARDONS JOURNALIST IN SLANDER CASE. Albanian President Sali
Berisha has pardoned Aleanca chief editor Blendi Fevziu, who was found
guilty of slander, Koha Jone reported on 9 December. Fevziu was fined
$2,000 for publishing an article that suggested that the head of the
State Control Commission was involved in corruption (see OMRI Daily
Digest, 6 December 1995). Meanwhile, the Constitutional Court has ruled
that the protocols of Supreme Court Chief Judge Zef Brozi's trial will
be made available to the parliament. Deputies from the Democratic
Alliance and the Socialist Party had demanded to see the documents. --
Fabian Schmidt

[As of 12:00 CET]

Compiled by Jan Cleave

The OMRI Daily Digest offers the latest news from the former Soviet
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            Copyright (C) 1995 Open Media Research Institute, Inc.
                             All rights reserved. ISSN 1211-1570
 
         

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