Healthy children will not fear life if their elders have integrity enough not to fear death. - Erick Erikson
OMRI DAILY DIGEST

No. 37, Part II, 21 February 1996

New OMRI Analytical Briefs:
-  "North Korea Blasts ITAR-TASS for Coverage of Embassy Incident",
    by Scott Parrish.
-  "Hungary's Finance Minister Steps Down", by Zsofia Szilagyi
-  "Bulgarian Press Condemns Arrest of Colleagues", by Stefan Krause
-  "Austrian Court Releases Kovac Jr.", by Sharon Fisher

Available only via the World Wide Web:
http://www.omri.cz/Publications/Analytical/Index.html

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^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^
AUSTRIA RELEASES SLOVAK PRESIDENT'S SON. A Vienna court on 20 February
rejected a German request for the extradition of Michal Kovac Jr., who
was abducted to Austria last August and jailed on fraud charges based on
a warrant issued by a Munich prosecutor, Slovak and international media
reported. The court ruled that Kovac Jr. was brought to Austria
illegally and that his human rights had been violated. It said testimony
indicated that the Slovak Information Service was involved in the
abduction, noting that Slovakia had neither asked Austria for Kovac
Jr.'s return nor protested against the kidnapping. The Slovak Foreign
Ministry said the court's statements were "a grave defamation of a
sovereign state." President Kovac welcomed the decision, saying
"Austrian justice, in this case, showed the world that it is important
to respect human rights everywhere." Kovac Jr. is expected to return to
Slovakia on 23 February. -- Sharon Fisher
^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^

CENTRAL AND EASTERN EUROPE

UKRAINIAN UPDATE. President Leonid Kuchma arrived in Washington for a
three-day visit on 20 February, international agencies reported. One of
his priorities is to solicit more financial aid, particularly for
reforming Ukraine's energy sector. State Department spokesperson
Nicholas Burns, referring to recent reports that Ukraine has been
selling Antonov cargo planes to drug traffickers in Columbia, said the
subject will be raised during the visit. Meanwhile, a Ukrainian
delegation headed by Defense Minister Valerii Shmarov arrived in Moscow
on 21 February, ITAR-TASS reported. Talks are to focus on military
cooperation, joint arms production, disarmament, and cooperation in
guarding military production facilities. -- Ustina Markus

BELARUSIAN PARLIAMENT REJECTS BANK APPOINTMENT. The Belarusian
parliament has rejected President Alyaksandr Lukashenka's decree
appointing Tamara Vinnikau as head of the National Bank of Belarus,
Reuters and ITAR-TASS reported on 20 February. It explained its move by
saying the appointment violates the constitution, which stipulates that
the president nominates the bank head but the parliament must make the
appointment. Former acting bank head Mykolai Kuzmich was reconfirmed as
acting bank chairman. This is the first serious clash Lukashenka has had
with the new parliament, and it is unlikely to be settled easily since
he has said he wants the bank subordinated to the president. Recently,
in what was seen to be a conciliatory move vis-a-vis Lukashenka,
parliamentary speaker Syamyon Sharetsky asked the Constitutional Court
not to examine several decrees issued by the president. -- Ustina Markus

ESTONIA OPTS OUT OF EUROPEAN DEATH PENALTY BAN. The Estonian government
on 20 February submitted the European Convention for the Protection of
Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms to the parliament for
ratification, BNS reported. Ratification is a condition for gaining EU
membership. But the government did not submit Protocol 6, which calls
for the abolition of capital punishment. Estonian political parties have
been reluctant to approve the ban since opinion polls indicate that the
overwhelming majority of Estonians support retaining the death penalty.
There have been no executions in Estonia since it gained independence in
1991, even though courts have sentenced nine people to death during that
period. -- Saulius Girnius

LITHUANIAN FORMER PREMIER RESIGNS AS PARTY CHAIRMAN. Adolfas Slezevicius
told the Democratic Labor Party (LDDP) Presidium on 19 February that he
was resigning as party chairman, Radio Lithuania reported. He said he
made this decision in order to prevent the party from splitting into
factions. He added that he would continue to be a loyal party member.
The LDDP council will meet on 2 March to approve an extraordinary
congress to elect a new leadership. Slezevicius said he has informed
President Algirdas Brazauskas that he will refuse an offer to become
Lithuania's ambassador to the UK. He commented that "I do not think I
could represent the interests of the state after I was said to be unable
to lead the government." -- Saulius Girnius

OFFICIAL RESULTS OF OWNERSHIP REFERENDUM IN POLAND. Turnout in the
Polish ownership referendum on 18 February fell well short of the
required 50%, meaning that the vote will be non-binding. Only 32.4% of
the 28 million eligible voters participated, the State Electoral
Commission said on 20 February. Of those, 94.5% approved the proposal to
distribute among the population assets that remain in state hands. Prime
Minister Wlodzimierz Cimoszewicz on 20 February said the government will
take the result into account even if the referendum is invalid. -- Jakub
Karpinski

NEW APPOINTMENTS IN POLISH PARLIAMENT, TV. Marek Mazurkiewicz on 20
February was elected chairman of the parliamentary commission drafting
the new Polish constitution. Mazurkiewicz is a deputy from the ruling
Democratic Left Alliance (SLD), like the commission's two former
chairmen: Aleksander Kwasniewski, who was elected president in November,
and Wlodzimierz Cimoszewicz, appointed premier on 1 February. Last week,
Marek Borowski, a member of the SLD and former chief of the office of
the Council of Ministers, replaced Cimoszewicz as deputy Sejm speaker.
Meanwhile, the Polish Public TV Board on 20 February elected 29-year-old
Tomasz Siemoniak as the new director of the Polish TV's Channel 1, the
most popular TV channel in Poland. -- Jakub Karpinski

ROMA PROTEST AT START OF PICKPOCKETS' TRIAL IN PRAGUE. Some 50 Roma
demonstrated outside a Prague courthouse on 20 February to protest the
start of a trial of 24 Roma accused of membership in organized groups of
pickpockets, Czech media reported. The protesters claimed that the
accused Roma were victims of racism and had been unjustly charged. If
convicted, they face up to eight years in jail. Police registered almost
7,000 cases of pickpocketing in Prague last year, with victims being
robbed of a total of some 50 million koruny (almost $2 million), Mlada
fronta Dnes reported. -- Steve Kettle

SLOVAKIA REJECTS POLISH PRESIDENT'S STATEMENTS. Slovak Foreign Ministry
spokesman Juraj Matejovsky on 20 February criticized Alexander
Kwasniewski for saying during a recent visit to Budapest that Slovakia
will gain EU membership later than the other Visegrad countries because
of its domestic political situation, Slovak media reported. According to
Matejovsky, Kwasniewski said Poland, Hungary, and the Czech Republic
could become EU members at the same time. "Slovakia does not consider
the process of integration into EU structures as a race," Matejovsky
stressed, noting that his country "does not...publicly evaluate
difficulties its neighboring countries are experiencing in the
transformation process." Kwasniewski is scheduled to meet with his
Slovak counterpart, Michal Kovac, on 1 March in the High Tatra
mountains. -- Sharon Fisher

HUNGARY, AUSTRIA OUTLINE PLAN FOR ECONOMIC ZONE. Hungarian and Austrian
local government officials have outlined plans for creating an economic
cooperation zone to include three west Hungarian counties and three
Austrian provinces, Magyar Hirlap reported on 21 February. The zone
would cover the Hungarian counties of Gyor-Sopron- Moson, Vas, and Zala
as well as the Austrian states of Burgenland, Steiermark, and
Niederosterreich. Negotiations were chaired by Georg Katz, leader of the
local World Trade Center in Schwechat, Austria. Hungarian ambassador to
Austria Sandor Peisch said the main areas of cooperation would be
infrastructure, environmental protection, and industrial development. He
added that west Hungarian counties will be able to benefit from the EU's
generous support for Burgenland. -- Zsofia Szilagyi

SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE

SARAJEVO SERBS STAYING PUT? CNN on 21 February reported less than full
success for the Pale leadership's forced exodus of Serbs from the five
Sarajevo suburbs slated to pass to government control. Despite
assurances from Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic that the Serbs
could stay put and statements by the mayor of Ilidza that the Pale
leadership was trying "to make 80,000 people homeless," Pale launched a
three-day forced migration on 20 February. Nasa Borba said the deadline
will be extended to 19 March "because of snowstorms." The leaders, who
coined the term "ethnic cleansing," were trying to consolidate their
hold on territories by moving their own people from their homes in
Sarajevo to the conquered regions. Reuters said the committee formed by
Pale to organize the enterprise had ordered people to leave but that it
failed to provide adequate transportation and left "hundreds of panicky
Serbs" stuck without vehicles in a snowstorm and protesting outside the
offices of the mayor of Vogosca. -- Patrick Moore

MOSTAR REUNIFICATION UNDER WAY. U.S. Secretary of State Warren
Christopher on 20 February said that "the news this morning is good from
Mostar. The city has been reunited." AFP added that he was referring to
the setting up of a joint police force, despite some scuffles. The move
follows a compromise reached in Rome on 18 February whereby the Croats
won a demand on setting up only a small central district and the Muslims
obtained their wish for immediate freedom of movement. Bosnian President
Alija Izetbegovic, however, said he is not satisfied with the pace of
the reunification and that he fears more delays down the road. The
Sarajevo daily Vecernje novine on 21 February quoted Croatian Interior
Minister Ivan Jarnjak as stressing the importance of freedom of
movement. -- Patrick Moore

BOSNIAN SERB BOYCOTT TO CONTINUE. Maj.-Gen. Zdravko Tolimir, deputy
Bosnian Serb army commander, said on 20 February that his forces will
continue to boycott contacts with IFOR until two of his officers held in
The Hague on war crimes charges are released, SRNA and international
media reported. Tolimar was speaking after a meeting in Pale with Lt.-
Gen. Sir Michael Walker, commander of IFOR ground forces. Tolimar said
he had failed to attend the meeting with his IFOR, Croatian, and Muslim
counterparts on 19 February aboard the U.S. aircraft carrier George
Washington because of bad weather and insufficient notice. -- Michael
Mihalka

BOSNIANS DEPORT THREE IRANIANS. The Bosnian government on 20 February
deported three Iranians detained last week following a raid of a
suspected terrorist safe house, international media reported. A U.S.
State Department spokesman warned that the continued presence of
"foreign fighters" in Bosnia threatened further U.S. military aid. He
cited IFOR estimates that up to 300 fighters remain in the country.
Meanwhile, Bosnian Croat police detained nine unarmed Iranians in
central Bosnia and asked IFOR to take them into custody. A Bosnian Croat
official said the Iranians were not mujahedeen, but the Bosnian
government had failed to inform the Bosnian Croat authorities of the
Iranians' itinerary. Hina quoted the Iranians as saying they were in
Bosnia to perform in concerts. -- Michael Mihalka

INSUFFICIENT AID FOR BOSNIA. The EU on 20 February said the
reconstruction effort in Bosnia is threatened by donors' failure to
deliver on their pledges of aid. Although more than $700 million was
promised for vital reconstruction work in the first three months of
1996, only $62.5 million has arrived so far. Reportedly, that entire sum
comes from the EU. The U.S., Japan, the Islamic countries, and the World
Bank have so far not lived up to their promises, international media
reported. Meanwhile, U.S. President Bill Clinton said he would ask
Congress for $820 million in aid for Bosnia. -- Michael Mihalka

RUMP YUGOSLAVIA RESTORES TIES WITH VATICAN. Tanjug on 20 February
reported that Belgrade has restored full diplomatic relations with the
Vatican. Dojcilo Maslovarica was named rump Yugoslav ambassador to the
Vatican, a post that has been vacant for some three years. The
announcement marks a decisive change in Belgrade's perception of the
Vatican, which during the wars in the former Yugoslavia was vilified by
Belgrade as one of the world centers of anti-Serb conspiracy. -- Stan
Markotich

BELGRADE PROPOSES AMNESTY. The federal government of the rump Yugoslavia
has proposed legislation granting an amnesty to all fighting-age men who
avoided military service during the wars throughout the former
Yugoslavia, Nasa Borba on 21 February reports. The amnesty legislation
has to be approved by the federal parliament. Some estimates suggest
that up to 200,000 people from the rump Yugoslavia opted not to fight in
the regional wars. -- Stan Markotich

KRAJINA UPDATE. The International Criminal Tribunal for the Former
Yugoslavia will begin hearings on the case of Krajina Serb leader Milan
Martic, who has been indicted for war crimes because of a rocket attack
on Zagreb, Nasa Borba reported on 21 February. The Hague-based court has
also received documents from the Bosnian government charging rump
Yugoslavia with genocide. Novi list wrote that some 14,000 Krajina Serbs
have appealed to Croatia to be allowed to go home. Some 2,000
applications have already been approved. The organized return of Croats
who fled western Slavonia during the Serbian occupation has begun and is
slated to end by early May. -- Patrick Moore

NEW UNPREDEP COMMANDER NAMED. Swedish Brig.-Gen. Bo Lennart Wranker on
20 February was named commander of the UN Preventive Deployment Force in
Macedonia, AFP reported the same day. He will begin his duties on 1
March. The same day, Wranker was received by Macedonian Defense Minister
Blagoj Handziski, who briefed him on the country's defense system, Nova
Makedonija reported. -- Stefan Krause

LABOR PROTESTS IN ROMANIA. Tens of thousands of workers in Bucharest and
other Romanian towns on 20 February took part in demonstrations and
other protest actions to demand job protection and state support for
ailing companies, local and international media reported on the same
day. The Democratic Convention of Romania introduced in the parliament a
motion against the government of Nicolae Vacaroiu claiming the cabinet
has shown an "irresponsible lack of interest" in ensuring energy
resources. The motion has to be debated within six days but is not a no-
confidence vote. The energy crisis has forced many companies to
temporarily lay off workers with partial pay. Workers in Romania's arms
industry in five towns protested against receiving reduced wages due to
the crisis faced by this sector. The industry has lost many of its
foreign customers in recent years. -- Michael Shafir

ROMANIAN COURT FREES FORMER BANK BOSS SUSPECTED OF FRAUD. Marcel Ivan,
former head of the Credit Bank who was re-arrested after serving a one-
year sentence, has been freed by a Bucharest court, Romanian TV and
Reuters on 20 February reported. Ivan's lawyer told Reuters that the
court decided his arrest was "inappropriate" due to "lack of evidence to
sustain the suspicions of fraud and forgery." The Prosecutor-General's
office can appeal against the ruling within three days. -- Michael
Shafir

TWO BULGARIAN JOURNALISTS ARRESTED. Dimitar Shtirkov and Valentin
Hadzhiev, correspondents for Trud and 24 chasa in the town of Smolyan,
have been arrested and charged with libel, Pari reported on 21 February.
Regional Prosecutor Slavcho Kardzhev ordered their arrest after they
reported that the Devin district prosecutor was dismissed from the
Smolyan police force because of corruption. The Interior Ministry said
he was dismissed for damaging the police's prestige rather than for
corruption. Bulgarian newspapers and journalists' organizations of all
political stripes strongly condemned the arrests. Stefan Prodev, editor-
in-chief of the Bulgarian Socialist Party's daily Duma, called the
arrests a "scandal...impairing the freedom of the journalistic
profession." Under Bulgarian law, arrests are allowed only if a suspect
tries to escape. -- Stefan Krause

ALBANIAN JOURNALISTS DEMAND TO MEET PRESIDENT. The Albanian Association
of Professional Journalists on 20 February organized a meeting with the
chief editors of the 14 newspapers threatened with closure following
Finance Minister Dylber Vrioni's order that the publishing house
Demokracia stop printing those publications. The journalists demanded a
meeting with President Sali Berisha, pointing out that Vrioni should
take the matter to court if he suspects the publications of tax evasion.
A government spokesman has denied that Vrioni gave such an order, but
both international agencies and Koha Jone on 21 February maintain the
contrary is true. Vrioni demands that the papers retroactively pay a 15%
turnover tax from the day of registration. -- Fabian Schmidt

GREEK-TURKISH UPDATE. Inal Batu, Turkish deputy undersecretary
responsible for Greek-Turkish affairs, told the Greek media on 20
February he was "happy" the crisis over the disputed Aegean islet of
Imia/Kardak has abated. He linked its escalation to a breach in the
"silent diplomacy" practiced by both sides before the mayor of Kalymnos
hoisted the Greek flag on the islet. Noting that both Turkey and Greece
do not want to take the case to the International Court of Justice, he
proposed that a legal experts committee be established to help resolve
the dispute. Meanwhile, Athens has protested to Turkey over the holding
of a camel wrestling match in the ancient city of Ephesus last month,
the BBC reported on 21 February. Greece considers Ephesus to be part of
Hellenic civilization and has at times protested what it regards as the
inappropriate use of such historical sites. -- Lowell Bezanis


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

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