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

No. 244, Part II, 18 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^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^
EU AIMS TO START MEMBERSHIP TALKS WITH EASTERN EUROPE IN 1997. EU member
countries, meeting in Madrid on 16 December, said they expected to start
membership talks with East European countries (as well as with Cyprus
and Malta) within six months after the EU's intergovernmental
conference, scheduled to end in mid-1997, Western agencies reported.
German Foreign Minister Klaus Kinkel called the summit "a breakthrough.
. . . All applicants will have the same starting conditions." The summit
asked the EU Commission to conclude reports on the countries seeking
membership. Meanwhile, Bulgaria has become the eighth East European
country to formally apply for membership. -- Michael Mihalka
^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^

CENTRAL AND EASTERN EUROPE

UKRAINIAN FOREIGN AFFAIRS UPDATE. Ukrainian Prime Minister Yevhan
Marchuk and his Belarusian counterpart, Mikhail Chyhir, on 14 December
signed four agreements on protection of investments; pensions and civil
guarantees to citizens' working and living in the other country; border
controls; and cooperation with youth groups, Belarusian Radio reported.
Radio Rossii on 17 December reported that Russian President Boris
Yeltsin has reiterated he will visit Ukraine only once the treaty on
friendship and cooperation is fully drafted. Meanwhile, Ukrainian
President Leonid Kuchma said in London on 15 December that he did not
expect any changes in Russian policy toward Ukraine, despite
parliamentary elections, as long as Yeltsin remained in power. -- Ustina
Markus

BELARUSIAN PRESIDENT IMPEDES WORK OF NEW PARLIAMENT. Belarusian
parliamentary speaker Mechyslau Hryb has accused President Alyaksandr
Lukashenka of setting up obstacles before the new parliament, Reuters
reported on 15 December. According to Hryb, Lukashenka has not provided
any funds for the new parliament's operations, has taken away Hryb's
official car and bodyguard, has made no proposals for new laws, and has
not had identification badges issued to new deputies. A statement
released by the parliamentary press office said there were "attempts by
certain forces to disrupt the work of the first session and to force
parliament to submit to their will." Meanwhile, Belarusian Radio on 15
December reported that the Constitutional Court found 14 of the 118 laws
on the parliament in either full or partial contravention of the
constitution. Lukashenka had asked the court to review the laws on the
parliament to determine if they conform with the constitution. The court
will release all its findings in some 10 days. -- Ustina Markus

BELARUSIAN TRADE UNIONS WARN OF STRIKE. Belapan on 15 December reported
that workers meeting in Minsk two days earlier unanimously decided to
begin organizing an all-out strike if their demands are not met. These
include payment of all unpaid wages by the end of the year and
guarantees that wage increases will be in line with inflation. The
Association of Independent Industrial Unions said it is trying to
organize the strike within the law, but under labor legislation it is
obliged to conduct all negotiations with management rather than the
government. -- Ustina Markus

GERMANY PLEDGES SUPPORT TO ESTONIA. German Ambassador Berndt Mutzelburg
told Estonian President Lennart Meri on 15 December that Germany will
support Estonia's rapid integration into the European Union, ETA and BNS
reported. He said an article in the previous day's Financial Times
asserting that Germany wanted only the Czech Republic, Poland, and
Hungary to be included in the first round of EU expansion was
inaccurate. Mutzelburg noted that the German government has already
given its approval to the associate membership agreements for the Baltic
States and that the parliament is expected to ratify them soon. --
Saulius Girnius

GAZPROM RAISES GAS PRICES TO LITHUANIA, LATVIA. Representatives of the
Lithuanian state gas company Lietuvos Dujos signed an agreement with
Gazprom on 14 December to purchase 3.2 billion cubic meters of natural
gas in 1996 at $78 per 1,000 cubic meters, BNS reported the next day.
The company's director-general said Lithuania succeeded in limiting the
price increase for this year to some $3 per 1,000 cubic meters because
gas to Kaliningrad is shipped via its territory. Meanwhile, the Latvian
state gas company Latvijas Gaze signed an agreement with Gazprom at an
even more favorable price of $77.5 per 1,000 cubic meters. -- Saulius
Girnius

POLISH FORMER PREMIER LOSES PARTY CONFIDENCE. The leadership of the
Polish Peasant Party (PSL) on 16 December failed by one vote to pass a
motion of confidence in former Prime Minister and PSL leader Waldemar
Pawlak, Polish dailies reported on 18 December. Pawlak received 4.3% of
the vote in the November presidential elections, far below the PSL's
15.4% in the 1993 parliamentary ballot, The vote has no immediate
consequences but may augur Pawlak's removal as PSL head at the party
leadership's next meeting. -- Jakub Karpinski

CZECH EXTREME RIGHT-WING LEADER SENTENCED. A Prague court on 15 December
sentenced Republican Party leader Miroslav Sladek in absentia to 10
months in jail, suspended for 18 months, for a breach of the peace and
assaulting a policeman. Sladek was also fined 6,000 koruny ($230) for
failing to attend any part of his trial, Czech media reported. On 28
October 1994, the Republican Party held a rally in central Prague to
celebrate the Czech national day. Sladek climbed up the statue of St.
Wenceslas in Wenceslas Square to address his supporters and refused
police orders to come down. Scuffles broke out and video evidence showed
Sladek punching a policeman three times in the stomach. The sentence
will not prevent Sladek from standing in next year's parliamentary
elections. -- Steve Kettle

SLOVAK PRIME MINISTER ON TREATY WITH HUNGARY. Vladimir Meciar, speaking
on Slovak Radio on 15 December, asserted that the Slovak-Hungarian
treaty will be ratified during the current parliamentary session. "If I
did not believe in the position of the government coalition, I would
strive for support from the opposition, but I am not doing that," Meciar
stressed. Participants in a Slovak TV debate two days later agreed that
the main problem with the treaty is the possibility of multiple
interpretations, particularly with regard to collective versus
individual rights and territorial autonomy. Pravda on 18 December
reported that most parties will make their final opinions on the treaty
known only during parliamentary discussions on 20 December. -- Sharon
Fisher

SLOVAK POLITICAL UPDATE. Slovak National Party deputy Vitazoslav Moric
has said that "dictates from Brussels" are beginning to be worse than
those from Moscow. Moric made this remark during the 15 December
parliamentary debate on enlarging Slovakia's permanent delegation to the
Council of Europe to include the ethnic Hungarian deputy Edit Bauer.
Moric said Bauer was an unacceptable choice because she considers
Slovakia "not a homeland but a shelter for the homeless," Sme reported.
The same day, the cabinet forwarded a request by Meciar asking the
Constitutional Court to clarify the president's powers vis-a-vis the
government. The government is seeking confirmation that the president is
not empowered to assign tasks to members of the government or to
stipulate a deadline for a task to be carried out. -- Sharon Fisher

HUNGARIAN TECHNICAL UNIT TO BOSNIA CUT BY 20%. Defense Minister Gyorgy
Keleti told MTI that the Hungarian technical team bound for Bosnia will
have only 400 members, 100 fewer than the figure endorsed by the
parliament, Hungarian newspapers reported on 18 December. He said the
contingent was cut due to financial considerations and in order to
reduce risk factors. But several newspapers reported last week that
there were only 160 soldiers in Hungary who have been trained in
peacekeeping operations and can speak English. The technical team is
expected to move to the Balkan region in the second half of January and
will be replaced by another unit after six months. Meanwhile, U.S.
President Bill Clinton has thanked Hungarian Prime Minister Gyula Horn
for Hungary's contribution to bringing about peace in the Balkans, a
spokesman for the Foreign Affairs Ministry told MTI on 15 December. --
Zsofia Szilagyi

SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE

UN, NATO APPROVE NATO-LED DEPLOYMENT. The UN Security Council on 15
December authorized the deployment of the NATO-led peacekeeping force in
Bosnia, Western agencies reported. Shortly thereafter, NATO commander-
in-chief George Joulwan issued the order to begin deploying troops,
saying "the mission is clear: limited in time and scope and with robust
rules of engagement." The UN resolution authorizes deployment for
approximately one year and allows the troops to use "all necessary
force" to implement the Dayton peace accord. Acting NATO Secretary-
General Sergio Balanzino noted "this is a historic moment for the (NATO)
alliance. It is the first ground operation, the first operation out of
area." Meanwhile, bad weather slowed deployment of troops into the
region. -- Michael Mihalka

BOSNIAN SERB PARLIAMENT REJECTS DAYTON MAPS. The Bosnian Serb
legislature met in Jahorina on 17 December and "took note" of the Dayton
treaty while rejecting the maps and territorial settlement, Nasa Borba
and news agencies reported. It singled out the return of Sarajevo
suburbs to Bosnian government control and the setting up of a corridor
to Gorazde as particularly unacceptable. The parliament set down its
views in ten points that included limiting opposition to the agreement
to peaceful means and urging the population to stay put, the BBC said.
Civilian leader Radovan Karadzic called the pact "a general defeat for
the Serbs" because of the territorial provisions. The assembly demanded
that the Serbs get an outlet to the sea at Neum, as well as Croatia's
Prevlaka peninsula that controls access to Montenegro's Bay of Kotor. --
Patrick Moore

KARADZIC CLINGS TO POWER. The legislators meeting in Jahorina on 17
December called for the right to unite with rump Yugoslavia in a single
state, even though several speakers implied that Serbian President
Slobodan Milosevic had betrayed the Serbs of Bosnia and Croatia. The
assembly also authorized its leaders to negotiate a deployment agreement
with NATO, news agencies reported. The Dayton agreement bans the Bosnian
Serb civilian leader and his military counterpart, General Ratko Mladic,
from public office as indicted war criminals. Karadzic nonetheless
showed no sign of preparing to abandon power willingly, and reshuffled
his cabinet to strengthen the position of his hard-line loyalists. New
appointees include Velibor Ostojic, who has been linked to "ethnic
cleansing," as deputy prime minister, and security chief Dragan Kijac as
interior minister. -- Patrick Moore

SERBIAN HELSINKI COMMITTEE ACCUSES BELGRADE OF OPPRESSING MINORITIES.
The Serbian Helsinki Committee, in its annual report released on 15
December, concludes that minorities in Serbia are subject to repression,
discrimination, and "ethnic cleansing," according to AFP on 18 December.
The report charges Serbian authorities with maltreatment, torture, and
hostage-taking. It also accuse them of staging political trials in
Kosovo, while noting that residents are also subject to pressure from
the Kosovar shadow state. With regard to Vojvodina, the report concludes
that the ethnic Hungarian community may eventually disappear due to
discrimination. Some 30,000 young Hungarians have fled the country to
avoid the military draft, while dozens of families have been turned out
of their homes to make room for Croatian Serb refugees. Of the 250,000
Croats living in Vojvodina, 45,000 have been expelled since 1991. The
report adds that Croatian Serb refugees have not been treated in
accordance with international conventions. -- Fabian Schmidt

RUMP-YUGOSLAV PRESIDENT IN CHINA. Zoran Lilic arrived in China for a
six-day visit on 17 December, AFP reported the next day. Lilic is quoted
as saying that he hoped the visit will "mark the opening of doors to
Yugoslavia." He met with Chinese President Jiang Zemin to discuss
"bilateral ties and issues of common interest." Lilic will also meet
with Prime Minister Li Peng. -- Fabian Schmidt

CROATIAN OPPOSITION FILES SUIT AGAINST GOVERNMENT. Some 45 members of
Croatia's seven opposition parties have sent a request to the
Constitutional Court to determine if decisions taken by government on
the constituent session of the Zagreb city and county assemblies were in
accordance with the constitution. They have also filed a suit asking the
court to annul those decisions, Hina reported on 16 December. The
government earlier this month declared that the opposition-dominated
assemblies had not been properly constituted; and it claimed the
measures they passed were illegal because there was no quorum following
the boycott by deputies from the ruling party. President Franjo Tudjman
at a 16 December press conference said the state authorities could not
allow the Zagreb government to fall into the hands of enemies of state
policy. The opposition leaders rejected his accusations and signed a
joint statement on what they called the political crisis in Zagreb. --
Daria Sito Sucic

ROMANIA, HUNGARY TO RECONCILE IN SPRING? Romanian President Ion Iliescu
and Hungarian Prime Minister Gyula Horn, attending the EU summit in
Madrid on 16 December, said the two sides want to finalize negotiations
on Iliescu's proposal for a historic reconciliation with Hungary by
March 1996, Romanian media reported. Romanian Ambassador to Budapest
Ioan Donca said Hungary's official response to the proposal, which was
supposed to be given on 15 December, has yet to be discussed with the
six parliamentary parties. Its response is thus likely to be delayed
until after Christmas, he said. -- Matyas Szabo

ACUTE FOOD SHORTAGES IN MOLDOVA'S BREAKAWAY DNIESTER REGION. Igor
Smirnov, president of the self-proclaimed Dniester republic, and
Grigorii Marakutsa, chairman of the region's Supreme Soviet, left for
Moscow to ask for urgent economic assistance, BASA-press reported on 16
December. According to an official at the Agriculture Ministry in
Tiraspol, the region has run out of food and cash, and its cereals
reserves are enough for only ten days. Local bakeries are reportedly
short of flour supplies and operating at reduced capacity. Daily bread
rations were recently cut by half but had to be restored to their full
level of 500 grams following protests from the population. -- Dan
Ionescu

BULGARIAN OPPOSITION TO ASK FOR NO CONFIDENCE VOTE. The Union of
Democratic Forces, the People's Union, and the ethnic Turkish Movement
for Rights and Freedom on 15 December agreed to request a vote of no
confidence in the government, Demokratsiya reported the following day.
The three leaderships have decided to form a working group to draft a
joint motion. The reason for the no confidence vote is the ongoing grain
shortage (see OMRI Daily Digest, 28 November 1995). Flour and bread are
either unavailable in the shops or have been pushed up in price. The
opposition blames the crisis on the government, which controls some 40%
of the grain supplies. The opposition will meet on 20 December with the
trade unions to discuss joint action. -- Stefan Krause

BULGARIA TO RESTITUTE JEWISH PROPERTY. President Zhelyu Zhelev on 15
December said "the Jews will receive everything that was taken away from
them," 24 chasa reported the following day. Their property will be
returned to the organization Shalom, which is the successor to the
Jewish community in Bulgaria and defends the interests of some 50,000
Jews who were forced to leave Bulgaria. According to Shalom, the
property in question is worth about 1 billion leva ($14.2 million). The
organization has waived its claims on a building in Varna that is the
navy's headquarters but insists that other property be returned. --
Stefan Krause

BULGARIAN BANK CHIEF ON IMF LOAN. Bulgarian National Bank governor Todor
Valchev on 15 December said that the IMF will probably accept the
projected 1996 budget deficit of 4.8% of GDP if progress is made on
structural reform, Pari reported the next day. He asserted that a lower
deficit will hurt health, education, and the legal system. Agreement
with the IMF on a new stand-by loan is crucial because Bulgaria's
foreign reserves stand at $1.4 billion while debt payments in 1996 will
be $1.25 billion. Meanwhile, Pari on 18 December reported that the
ruling Socialists are considering four candidates to replace Valchev
early next year. They include Atanas Paparizov, a former deputy minister
in the last communist government; Lyubomir Filipov, head of the BNB's
lev operations; and Chavdar Kanchev, head of the state bank for foreign
economic relations and a former negotiator with the London Club. --
Michael Wyzan

ALBANIAN COMMUNIST OFFICIALS CHARGED WITH CRIMES AGAINST HUMANITY. An
Albanian court has ordered the arrest of 14 communist-era officials on
charges of sending dissidents into internal exile for political reasons,
Reuters reported on 16 December. Those accused include Haxhi Lleshi,
president of the parliament from 1953 until 1982; former first party
secretary in Tirana Pirro Kondi; and former Defense Minister Prokop
Murra. Lleshi, who is 82 years old, has been confined to house arrest.
Four suspects, including former Prosecutor-General Qemal Lame, have fled
abroad. Prosecutors launched investigations after the National Forum of
Intellectuals filed a lawsuit charging the officials with violating
communist-era legislation. About 100,000 people were sent into internal
exile; of these, some 5,100 are estimated to have been executed. --
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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