If you are not allowed to laugh in heaven, I don't want to go there. - Martin Luther
OMRI DAILY DIGEST

No. 34, Part II, 16 February 1996

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^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^
HOLBROOKE SAYS BOSNIAN PEACE PROCESS FACES 'MOST SERIOUS THREAT' TO
DATE. U.S. Assistant Secretary of State Richard Holbrooke said in Paris
on 16 February that the Rome summit has been brought forward to this
weekend because the peace process is facing its "most serious threat" so
far. Holbrooke said "sloppiness" in the Dayton peace accord is mainly
responsible for the current problems, as each side is interpreting it to
its own advantage. Holbrooke added that the issue of war crimes, which
prompted the Bosnian Serbs to boycott talks with the Bosnian government
and international organizations, is "non-negotiable." Meanwhile, the
international community's Carl Bildt included among the issues to be
addressed at the summit the continued Bosnian Serb boycott, unfulfilled
pledges from the international community to provide aid for
reconstruction, and the scheduled elections, which are supposed to take
place by September. -- Michael Mihalka
^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^

CENTRAL AND EASTERN EUROPE

UKRAINE, FRANCE SIGN MILITARY COOPERATION AGREEMENT. The defense
ministers of Ukraine and France, Valerii Shmarov and Charles Millon,
have signed two bilateral military cooperation agreements during the
latter's two-day visit to Kiev, Ukrainian and international agencies
reported on 15 February. The agreements provide for joint military
exercises, exchange of expertise on military training, and cooperation
in military technology. Ukraine and France have already begun to
cooperate in peacekeeping in the former Yugoslavia. Millon said France
was "satisfied" that some 600 Ukrainian military personnel were serving
in the French-monitored sector in Bosnia. -- Chrystyna Lapychak

MILITARY LEADERS PROPOSE REFORM OF UKRAINIAN ARMED FORCES. More than 700
generals and officers have signed an open letter proposing that
Ukraine's armed forces be reformed, Ukrainian TV and ITAR-TASS reported
on 15 February. They suggest that the number of troops be reduced over
the next 15 years, saying a smaller, more mobile defense force would be
more feasible financially. They also claimed their plan has won the
approval of specialists and government officials. Ukrainian Defense
Minister told reporters on 15 February that Kiev will proceed with a
plan to cut the country's armed forces from 470,000 to 350,000 over the
next four years. Meanwhile, President Leonid Kuchma on 12 February fired
Anatolii Lopata, the army's chief of staff, for proposing a larger
force. -- Chrystyna Lapychak

UKRAINIAN PREMIER SAYS IMF MAY AGREE TO LARGER DEFICIT. Yevhen Marchuk
told Ukrainian TV on 15 February that he is confident the IMF will
accept a larger deficit in the country's 1996 draft budget. He said he
believes the IMF will agree to a deficit of 6.4% of GDP rather than 6%,
as agreed previously. This would pave the way for granting Ukraine the
fourth tranche of a $1.5 billion standby loan. The IMF delayed the
installment, worth $700 million, because of Kiev's failure to approve
this year's budget and make debt payments for energy imports. Marchuk
said some 37 trillion karbovantsi of the new deficit would be covered by
National Bank credits, which he called "undesirable, but unavoidable."
He stressed that the parliament needs to adopt the budget by 6 April,
when the IMF board is scheduled to decide whether to release the funds.
-- Chrystyna Lapychak

SEJM APPROVES NEW POLISH GOVERNMENT. The Sejm on 15 February approved
Wlodziemirz Cimoszewicz's cabinet by a vote of 273 to 87 with 28
abstentions, Polish media reported. Cimoszewicz succeeded Jozef Oleksy,
who resigned in January after military prosecutors launched an
investigation into allegations that he had spied for Moscow. Cimoszewicz
said after the vote he was confident his government would remain in
office until next year's parliamentary elections. -- Jakub Karpinski

LATVIAN-ESTONIAN SEA BORDER TALKS. Latvian Foreign Ministry State
Secretary Maris Riekstins has said it may be necessary to refer Latvia's
maritime border dispute with Estonia to an international court or to
arbitration, BNS reported on 15 February. Negotiations with Estonia on
13 February in Stockholm reportedly made little progress in settling the
dispute. Latvia, rejecting Estonia's claim that the area around the
Ruhnu and Kihnu islands is part of its economic zone, has proposed that
the two states divide up the Gulf of Riga equally. In December, Estonian
warships forcibly expelled Latvian fishing boats that entered the
disputed area. The next round of talks on the sea border are likely to
take place in late March. -- Saulius Girnius

LITHUANIAN PREMIER APPROVED. The Seimas on 15 February approved the
appointment of Mindaugas Stankevicius as prime minister by a vote of 70
to six with two abstentions, BNS reported. The major opposition parties
did not participate in the vote, saying that although they were opposed
to the formation of another Democratic Labor Party government, they
would not hinder the appointment of Stankevicius. Stankevicius has 15
days to name a government, which must be approved by President Algirdas
Brazauskas, and to present his program to the Seimas. It is unclear
whether the opposition will try to force early parliamentary elections.
-- Saulius Girnius

CZECH PARLIAMENT PASSES MONEY LAUNDERING LAW. By an almost unanimous
vote, the Czech parliament on 15 February adopted a law designed to
restrict money laundering. Under its terms, banks and other financial
institutions will have to report the details of people making
transactions of more than 500,000 koruny ($18,500) and unspecified
"unusual transactions" to the Finance Ministry, Czech media reported.
The law was three years in the making. Meanwhile, the country's mass
privatization program, now officially completed, has repeatedly been
described as providing a perfect cover for laundering "dirty money." --
Steve Kettle

CZECH STEEL GIANT FACES BANKRUPTCY. The Ministry of Labor and Social
Affairs on 15 February began bankruptcy proceedings against the leading
Czech steel producer, Poldi Ocel, for not paying employees' social
security payments totaling 170 million koruny ($6.3 million), Czech
media reported. The move followed the breakdown of a government-endorsed
rescue plan whereby engineering giant Skoda Plzen would have taken over
the hugely indebted steelworks. Vladimir Stehlik, Poldi Ocel's
controversial majority owner, refused to relinquish control to Skoda.
National Property Fund Chairman Roman Ceska said a suit will also be
filed accusing Stehlik's firm Bohemia Art of improperly acquiring a
majority stake in Poldi Ocel, which employs 6,500 workers and which
during the communist era was a major supplier to the Comecon countries.
-- Steve Kettle

SLOVAK PRESIDENT ACCUSES SECRET SERVICE OF SON'S KIDNAPPING. Michal
Kovac on 15 February for the first time publicly accused the Slovak
Information Service (SIS) of kidnapping his son to Austria last August,
Sme and international media reported. He told a news conference that
Prime Minister Vladimir Meciar had spoken "untruths and half-truths" a
day earlier when he said there was no evidence of SIS participation in
the abduction. Kovac said SIS equipment and employees were involved in
the kidnapping, adding: "I do not assume, however, that the prime
minister knew about it." Kovac called on the director of the SIS,
Meciar's ally Ivan Lexa, to resign, saying that the kidnapping could not
have taken place without his involvement. -- Steve Kettle

HUNGARIAN PRIME MINISTER RECEIVED BY POPE. Gyula Horn on 15 February had
a private audience with John Paul II in the Vatican, international
agencies reported. The two men talked about an expected papal visit to
Hungary in June 1996, when Hungary celebrates the 1,100 anniversary of
its founding. They also discussed a possible concordat between Hungary
and the Roman Catholic Church. Horn the previous day met with outgoing
Italian Prime Minister Lamberto Dini for talks on Hungarian membership
in the EU. -- Jiri Pehe

SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE

IFOR SEIZES 'FOREIGN FIGHTERS.' IFOR on 15 February detained 11 heavily
armed individuals near Sarajevo who were carrying a significant number
of weapons and munitions, international media reported. IFOR did not
reveal the identity of the individuals, saying only they were not
natives of Bosnia and that their presence appeared to violate provisions
of the Dayton peace accords prohibiting the presence of "foreign
forces." Some sources say that a few of the men were Iranians. Both IFOR
and the Bosnian government have officially maintained that there are no
"foreign fighters" in the country, but the U.S. has repeatedly
complained to the Bosnian government that their continued presence
threatens military aid. -- Michael Mihalka

PLAN FOR TRANSFER OF SERB-HELD SARAJEVO SUBURBS. Michael Steiner, deputy
to the international community's Carl Bildt, on 15 February presented a
plan for the phased transfer of Serb-held Sarajevo suburbs to Bosnian
government control, Hina and international media reported. A federal
police force is to take over on 20 March and will reflect the
composition of the national population based on the 1990 census. Serbian
police officers who are not indicted for war crimes may serve in the
force. Steiner added there was no longer any need to discuss the matter
with Bosnian Serb authorities, who have boycotted meetings with
international organizations. -- Michael Mihalka

SARAJEVO BUS TARGETED FROM "KNOWN LOCATIONS." An IFOR spokesman has said
that sniper shots aimed at a Sarajevo bus on 14 February can be traced
to "the same location from which IFOR soldiers were fired at," Onasa
reported the next day. Two people were injured in the 14 February
shooting. Meanwhile, Onasa also reported that a spokesman for the UN
High Commissioner for Refugees has said that the corridor linking
downtown Sarajevo to Serb-populated Ilidza will be restored when
authorities determine it to be safe. -- Stan Markotich

HOLBROOKE SAYS BOSNIAN SERB GENERAL MUST GO. Reuters on 15 February
quoted U.S. Assistant Secretary of State Richard Holbrooke as saying
NATO will "demand compliance" with regard to the status of Bosnian Serb
General and accused war criminal Ratko Mladic. Holbrooke said that by
continuing to hold onto his post, Mladic is "defying the Dayton
agreement." He also said that Mladic is likely to be a major topic of
discussion at the Rome summit this weekend. -- Stan Markotich

CROATIAN POLICE ARRIVE IN MOSTAR. Hina on 15 February reported that 101
police officers from Croatia have arrived in the Bosnian city of Mostar
with the mandate to preserve peace and law and order. Josko Moric,
Zagreb's deputy interior minister, said the officers will wear Croatian
uniforms. He added that they will not police Muslim-held parts of the
city and will not come under the command of EU police authorities.
Croatia had promised at Dayton to send more than 100 police officers to
Mostar. Meanwhile, Slobodna Dalmacija on 16 February reported that
Mostar's Croatian and Muslim mayors are slated to meet in Sarajevo on
16-17 February for discussions aimed at restoring contacts and resolving
outstanding differences. -- Stan Markotich

SERBIAN AUTHORITIES CLAMP DOWN ON INDEPENDENT TV. Belgrade's only
politically independent television station, Studio B, is the latest
target in the government's campaign against independent media in the
rump Yugoslavia, Nasa Borba reported on 16 February. A Belgrade court
the previous day revoked the station's status as a private company.
Reuters quoted Milorad Roganovic, general manager of Studio B TV, as
saying "I don't know how you can have a private company for six years
and then all of a sudden it doesn't exist. This is stupidity." The BBC
on 16 February reported that the attempt to take over Studio B appears
to be part of Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic's plan to control and
manipulate information as rump Yugoslav general elections approach. --
Stan Markotich

ROMANIAN SENATE PASSES LAW ON POLITICAL PARTIES. The Romanian Senate on
15 February approved the draft law on political parties, Radio Bucharest
reported. Since the draft differs from one passed by the Chamber of
Deputies, a mediation commission will now attempt to bridge differences
between the two texts. The bill raises the minimum membership of
political party from 2,500 to 10,000 members. The Hungarian Democratic
Federation of Romania (UDMR) faction walked out in protest and did not
participate in the ballot. UDMR senator Gyorgy Frunda told the
parliament before the vote that the draft infringes on both the right to
free association and the international convention on the rights of
national minorities, which Romania has signed. The UDMR has said it will
appeal the bill at the Constitutional Court. -- Michael Shafir

GROWING LABOR UNREST IN ROMANIA. Most of the 4,000 employees at a
Romanian car plant co-owned by South Korea's industrial giant Daewoo
have been on strike for more than a week, despite a court ruling that
the protest action is illegal, Romanian and international media reported
on 15 February. The strikers are demanding that their wages be indexed
to the dollar. President Ion Iliescu, meeting with union leaders and
management at the car plant, said the strike was endangering Korean
investment in Romania. South Korea is Romania's largest foreign
investor. Meanwhile, more than 5,000 steel workers in the town of
Hunedoara protested for the third consecutive day against lay-offs
caused by cuts of energy supplies at their plant. At a rally outside the
city hall on 15 February, they threatened to launch an indefinite strike
if energy supplies are not resumed. -- Matyas Szabo

MOLDOVAN FOREIGN MINISTER AT EU HEADQUARTERS. Mihai Popov on 15 February
held talks in Brussels with Hans van den Broek, the EU Commissioner for
relations with Eastern Europe and the CIS, to review progress on the
withdrawal of Russian troops from Moldova. Reuters quoted Popov as
saying there were good chances that Russia's commitment to withdraw its
troops from eastern Moldova will be carried out soon. He added, however,
that the unstable political situation in Russia may complicate the
withdrawal. Russia has pledged to remove troops from the breakaway
Dniester region within six months to comply with one of the conditions
for its recent successful application to join the CE. -- Matyas Szabo

BULGARIAN OPPOSITION ON PRESIDENTIAL ELECTIONS. Leaders of the Union of
Democratic Forces (SDS), the People's Union (NS), and the ethnic Turkish
Movement for Rights and Freedom on 15 February held talks on selecting a
joint candidate for upcoming presidential elections. Standart reported
that SDS Chairman Ivan Kostov failed to persuade other party leaders to
preliminary elections among the parties' members. Kostov said that
incumbent President Zhelyu Zhelev can "on no account" be the SDS's
candidate but he can be the candidate of the united opposition. But he
added that the president will have to participate in the preliminaries.
Kostov also said that the "necessary circumstances" for former Tsar
Simeon's candidacy do not exist. Kontinent reported that the NS will set
up a political council of all parties supporting Zhelev's candidacy. --
Stefan Krause

ALBANIAN MINE PRIVATIZATION TO GET UNDER WAY. Albanian authorities on 15
February announced they will start the privatization of the country's
mines in the coming weeks, international agencies reported the same day.
Director of the National Privatization Center Niko Glozheni said smaller
mines will be put up for auction in the first wave of privatization.
Glozheni said that in 1995, 2,924 small and medium-sized state
enterprises and 50 large ones were privatized. Albania is the world's
third biggest chrome producing country. In other news, Albania and
Germany signed an agreement whereby Germany will provide aid worth $13
million to help improve the water supply system in three Albanian towns.
The agreement is the second stage of a project on which Germany has
already spent about $5.8 million. Negotiations on a similar program in
two other towns are currently under way. -- Stefan Krause

EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT BACKS GREECE IN DISPUTE WITH TURKEY . . . The
European Parliament on 15 February passed a declaration backing Greece
in its dispute with Turkey over the islet of Imia/Kardak, AFP reported
the same day. The vote was 342 to 21 with 11 abstentions. The resolution
condemned "Turkey's dangerous violation of Greek sovereignty" and voiced
concern about "increased military tension in the Aegean." Meanwhile, a
Greek Aegean Ministry official said Athens will continue with a
resettlement program involving 10 islets, which was unveiled last July.
Also on 15 February, the Greek government named Gen. Athanasios Tzoganis
as new armed forces chief of staff. Tzoganis, until now chief of the air
force, replaces Admiral Christos Limberis, who was fired on 8 February
for his handling of the crisis. -- Stefan Krause

. . . WHILE TURKEY REJECTS LEGALITY OF RESOLUTION. The Turkish Foreign
Ministry, meanwhile, termed the European Parliament's resolution "devoid
of any legal basis" and noted that the parliament is maintaining its
"biased and far from constructive stance," Reuters reported on 15
February. The ministry the same day summoned a Greek envoy to demand
that Greece withdraw a speedboat reportedly anchored off the Kardak/Imia
islet in the Aegean. -- Lowell Bezanis

[As of 12:00 CET]

Compiled by Jan Cleave

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            Copyright (c) 1996 Open Media Research Institute, Inc.
                             All rights reserved. ISSN 1211-1570

 
         

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