It is a mistake to look too far ahead. Only one link in the chain of destiny can be handled at a time. - Sir Winston Churchill
OMRI DAILY DIGEST

No. 38, Part II, 22 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^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^
IZETBEGOVIC TAKEN TO HOSPITAL "FOR SUDDEN HEART PROBLEMS".  Bosnian
President Alija Izetbegovic has been taken to hospital because of
unspecified heart trouble. A group of doctors are treating him, and a
statement said that he must be "spared all strain." The 70-year-old
leader of the Muslim Party of Democratic Action is a professional lawyer
and lifelong activist for Islamic causes, for which he was jailed by the
communists. Izetbegovic became president in November 1990 in Bosnia's
first postcommunist elections. -- Patrick Moore
^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^

CENTRAL AND EASTERN EUROPE

UKRAINIAN PRESIDENT IN U.S. Leonid Kuchma and U.S. Vice President Al
Gore on 21 February signed an agreement allowing Ukraine to enter the
commercial satellite launch market, international agencies reported.
Ukraine will be obliged to charge as much as U.S. companies for its
launches. The agreement expires in 2001. Kuchma also addressed
allegations that Ukraine was leasing Antonov cargo planes to Columbian
drug traffickers. He said Ukraine had no control over the leasing of
Ukrainian-made aircraft, noting that it was Columbia's responsibility.
He added that the Ukrainian security service has proposed that it meet
with its U.S. counterpart to discuss the issue. Talks with U.S.
President Bill Clinton centered on economic issues, including
compensation for tactical nuclear weapons removed from Ukraine. --
Ustina Markus

UKRAINIAN WORKERS HOLD ONE-HOUR STRIKE OVER LIVING STANDARDS. Workers in
eight Ukrainian oblasts halted work for one hour on 21 February to
protest unpaid wages and declining living standards, Ukrainian and
international agencies reported. Leaders of the Federation of Trade
Unions claimed 12 million employees of primarily state-owned coal mines
and factories either took part in or supported the strike. Some 2,000
people held a rally in Dnipropetrovsk. Kiev did not respond to the
protest actions. A two-week strike by coal miners that was suspended on
16 February cost Ukrainian industry more than 40 trillion karbovantsi
($215 million). -- Chrystyna Lapychak

CEPA DELEGATION VISIT TO ESTONIA. A Council of Europe Parliamentary
Assembly delegation were in Estonia from 19-21 February to gather
information for a report about the human rights situation in the
country, according to BNS. Rudolf Bindig, chairman of the CEPA legal
affairs and human rights subcommittee, said Estonia should ratify the
European human rights convention before May, when it will preside over
the CE Council of Ministers. He also noted that the situation in
Estonian prisons was improving but was still unsatisfactory. He proposed
that the language tests for naturalization be simplified and that
Estonia draw up a refugees policy more quickly. -- Saulius Girnius

LITHUANIAN TROOPS JOIN BOSNIAN PEACEMAKING FORCE. LITPLA-4, a unit of 34
Lithuanian soldiers, has been stationed about 150 kilometers northwest
of Tuzla as part of a Danish battalion, BNS reported on 21 February.
Their assignment includes the reconstruction of a bridge over the Bosna
River and monitoring traffic crossing it. Similar Estonian and Latvian
platoons are scheduled to be sent to Bosnia as peacemaking forces later
this year. -- Saulius Girnius

POLISH FOREIGN MINISTER ON RUSSIA, NATO. Dariusz Rosati on 21 February
told the Senate Foreign Affairs Commission that regardless of the
outcome of the Russian presidential elections, Russia will oppose NATO
expansion but eventually will have to accept it, since it will need
financial support from western countries. Rosati also noted that
allegations against former Prime Minister Jozef Oleksy, who is suspected
of collaborating with Soviet and Russian secret services, damaged
Poland's credibility as a prospective Western partner. He said it was
"unfortunate" that Oleksy had been elected leader of Social Democracy of
the Republic of Poland in January, which forms the core of the governing
coalition. Prime Minister Wlodzimierz Cimoszewicz said he did not agree
with Rosati remarks on Oleksy, Polish dailies reported on 22 February.
-- Jakub Karpinski

CZECHS REJECT NEW U.S. CRITICISM OF CITIZENSHIP LAW. The Czech Foreign
Ministry on 21 February rejected renewed criticism from the U.S.
Congress that the Czech Republic's citizenship law is discriminatory,
Czech media reported. Leaders of the congressional committee that
monitors the 1975 Helsinki accords said the previous day that the law
denies citizenship to thousands of residents who were Czechoslovak
citizens before the split of the country at the end of 1992. They said a
recent amendment to the law approved by the Czech government (see OMRI
Daily Digest, 8 February 1996) did not go far enough and urged Czech
authorities to grant citizenship to all long-term residents. A Foreign
Ministry spokesman denied U.S. accusations that the law had overnight
created thousands of stateless people. The head of the parliament's
foreign affairs committee also rejected the criticism. -- Steve Kettle

CZECH SKINHEADS SENTENCED FOR RACIST ATTACK. A court in Breclav
sentenced a 21-year-old skinhead to six years in jail on 21 February for
an attack on a local Rom in which the victim lost an eye. Three other
teenage skinheads received suspended sentences for attacking Josef Polak
and his wife on a street last October with rubber truncheons. The Romani
woman was slightly injured. Polak's father and other Roma protested
inside and outside the courtroom that the sentences were unjustly light,
Mlada fronta Dnes reported. -- Steve Kettle

CONFUSION IN SLOVAK FOREIGN MINISTRY OVER AUSTRIAN COURT'S RULING. The
Slovak Foreign Ministry's reaction to the Vienna court's decision on
President Michal Kovac's son may have been the result of a
mistranslation by TASR, CTK reported on 21 February. The ministry did
not wait for official notification of the ruling but instead sent a
diplomatic note to the Austrian charge d'affaires in Bratislava based on
a "news agency report." The ministry protested the court's accusations
about the involvement of state organs in the kidnapping and demanded
that the Austrian Foreign Ministry take action. But some media
representatives present at the hearing said the court spoke of an
"abduction by [Slovak] nationals." Kovac Jr., who says he is innocent in
the Technopol fraud, told Sme on 22 February that he plans to go to
Munich to face charges. -- Sharon Fisher

SLOVAK ROUNDUP. Party of the Democratic Left (SDL) deputy chairman Pavol
Kanis on 21 February announced that his party must decide soon whether
it will enter the coalition government, possibly before the SDL congress
in April. According to Kanis, the SDL has not received an official
invitation from the ruling Movement for a Democratic Slovakia (HZDS).
But he claimed that some members of the SDL, HZDS, and Association of
Workers of Slovakia (ZRS) are in favor of cooperation among the three
parties, Narodna obroda reported. In other news, Prime Minister Vladimir
Meciar decided to sue Vladimir Palko of the opposition Christian
Democratic Movement for his behavior during a Slovak TV discussion
program on 18 February. -- Sharon Fisher

NUCLEAR TRAIN ARRIVES IN HUNGARY. A train carrying used nuclear fuel
rods from the closed nuclear power plant in Greifswald, eastern Germany,
arrived at Hungary's Paks nuclear plant on 21 February, Hungarian
dailies reported the next day. The plant was closed down for safety
reasons after German reunification. Environmentalists criticize the
Hungarian authorities' decision to "buy" the rods from Germany and argue
that Paks is not as safe as is claimed by the plant's management. Paks
officials say the fuel rods can be safely used for one year. The
shipment of the "nuclear trash" saves nearly 3 billion forints ($21.5
million) for Hungary. While the nuclear train was en route from Germany,
German authorities mobilized 800 police and border guards to monitor
protests organized by Greenpeace. -- Zsofia Szilagyi

SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE

BOSNIAN SERBS RESTORE LINKS TO INTERNATIONAL COMMUNITY. The Bosnian Serb
leadership on 21 February announced it is "reestablishing full
cooperation with representatives of the international community, in
accordance with the Dayton agreement and the results of the Rome
summit," SRNA reported. But it continued to protest the "unprincipled
conduct" of the Bosnian government in what it called the "kidnapping of
senior Serbian officers." The Bosnian Serb leaders demanded the
immediate release of the officers. Meanwhile, Carl Bildt, the
international community's chief envoy to Bosnia, met the same day with
Bosnian Serb premier Rajko Kasagic, TANJUG reported. Bildt said he was
pleased that dialogue with the Serbs has been restored, while Kasagic
said the work of the joint commissions will be resumed. -- Michael
Mihalka

IFOR CERTIFIES COMPLIANCE WITH DAYTON PEACE AGREEMENT. IFOR commander
U.S. Admiral Leighton Smith on 21 February officially certified that the
"parties to the General Framework Agreement for Peace to be in general
compliance with the military aspects of the (Dayton) peace agreement,"
international media reported. According to UN Resolution 1022, sanctions
against the Bosnian Serbs can be lifted the day after the IFOR commander
informs the UN Security Council that the Serbs have withdrawn from the
zones of separation laid down in the peace accords. -- Michael Mihalka

SERBIAN EXODUS FROM SARAJEVO CONTINUES. Despite bad weather and calls by
Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic and the anti-nationalist Serbian
Civic Council for them to stay put, residents of five Serb-held suburbs
slated to pass to government control continue to leave. The BBC on 22
February quoted UN sources as putting the number at 20,000. Two fires
are burning out of control in Vogosca, but the fire department has
apparently already left, Reuters said. "Nervous and upset" people blamed
the mayor for not providing them with adequate transportation and
confronted him in an ugly scene. Throughout the suburbs, banks and
schools have closed or are shutting down. NATO Secretary-General Javier
Solana and Nasa Borba blamed the Bosnian Serb leadership for forcing the
exodus of ordinary Serbs. U.S. Secretary of State Warren Christopher has
urged the residents to stay. -- Patrick Moore

BOSNIAN SHORT TAKES. Some 10,000 Croats and Muslims are expected to
return to Vogosca after it reverts to federal control, Onasa reported on
21 February. A group of 50 federal experts will be sent there to clear
mines. Oslobodjenje wrote on 22 February that many of the Sarajevo
Croats who fled to Mostar and elsewhere during the war have begun to
return. But a meeting of Croatian and Bosnian government officials
slated for 26 February has been postponed. Onasa said that the problems
are Bosnian access to the port of Ploce and the abolition of Croatian
visas for Bosnian citizens. The news agency added that Bosnia's first
postwar strike ended when miners accepted assurances that their January
salaries of about DM 80 would finally be paid. -- Patrick Moore

SERBIAN ORTHODOX BISHOP CALLS ON SERBS TO REJECT ETHNIC CLEANSING. The
Orthodox bishop for northwestern Bosnia, Hrizostom, urged Serbs to
return to their homes outside the Republika Srbska and reject attempts
to settle them in dwellings of expelled Muslims and Croats. "This is the
moment when we decide whether we will be the beggars of this world, or
whether we will return to our homes as international accords and
conventions foresee. [The Pale leaders] are cheating you when they tell
you that they have solved our problems by giving us burnt and looted
homes which belong to others, who are also refugees just as we are....
The Serb politicans...have used our trust against the interests of their
people." Onasa carried the report on 21 February, citing Belgrade's
Vecernje Novosti. -- Patrick Moore

BELGRADE SEEKS IMF MEMBERSHIP. The rump Yugoslavia is officially seeking
membership in the IMF, Belgrade TV reported on 21 February. In a letter
to IMF chief Michel Camdessus, rump Yugoslav National bank Governor
Dragoslav Avramovic said "conditions for the normalization of relations
between the IMF and [rump] Yugoslavia have been met.... We believe that
we could benefit from the assistance, experience, and advice of
international organizations, above all, from the IMF." Avramovic also
wrote that the rump Yugoslav economy was undergoing reforms that would
result in a broad privatization program and liberal, free market
practices. -- Stan Markotich

CROATIA, BRITAIN SIGN AGREEMENTS. Croatia and Britain on 21 February
signed agreements on cooperation in air traffic, culture, science, and
education, Novi List reported. Croatian Foreign Minister Mate Granic
said the agreements signaled "progress in bilateral relations," while
British Foreign Ministry official Nicholas Bonsor said agreements would
pave the way for the cooperation in tourism and the improvement of air
traffic between the two countries. The situation in the region was also
discussed, especially regarding the Rome agreements on Bosnia-
Herzegovina. -- Daria Sito Sucic

WAR CRIMES TRIBUNAL INTERVIEWS SERBS IN ROMANIA. Members of The Hague
International War Crimes Tribunal are in Timisoara to interview people
from Serbia who were detained in Moslem camps during the war in the
former Yugoslavia, Radio Bucharest reported on 21 February. The
interviewees volunteered to testify. Timisoara was chosen "at the
request of the Serbian citizens," who consider the Romanian town near
the Serbian border to be "a safe place, where nothing can happen to
them." The findings will be made public once the interviews are over. --
Michael Shafir

MOLDOVA COMMUTES DEATH SENTENCES. Death sentences passed on 19 people in
Moldova have been commuted to life imprisonment to meet commitments made
when that country joined the Council of Europe in July 1995, Moldovan
and international agencies reported on 21 February. President Mircea
Snegur signed a decree commuting the sentences. The Moldovan parliament
abolished capital punishment in December 1995. Those to whom the decree
applies were sentenced before then. -- Michael Shafir

BELARUSIAN PRIME MINISTER ENDS VISIT TO SOFIA. Mikhail Chyhir on 21
February concluded a two-day official visit to Bulgaria, Bulgarian and
international media reported. Chyhir and his Bulgarian counterpart, Zhan
Videnov, signed eight bilateral agreements on trade and industrial
cooperation, including the mutual protection and promotion of
investments. They said the agreements lay the foundation for broad
cooperation in a number of areas and that they expect bilateral trade to
increase. Belarus will export more butter, grain, and car tires to
Bulgaria, while Bulgaria will increase its exports of vegetable oil and
pharmaceuticals to Belarus. In 1995, bilateral trade turnover was $40
million. -- Stefan Krause

BULGARIAN JOURNALISTS RELEASED. Dimitar Shtirkov and Valentin Hadzhiev,
correspondents in Smoylan for Trud and 24 chasa, on 21 February were
released from detention, 24 chasa reported. Legal proceedings against
them will continue, however. The two journalists were arrested for libel
on 20 February. Regional Prosecutor Slavcho Karzhev, who ordered the
arrests, said he considers his action to conform with Bulgarian law and
added that he will initiate proceedings against the local correspondents
for Duma and Novinar who wrote similar reports. The Union of Bulgarian
Journalists and Svobodno Slovo (Free Speech) have protested the arrests.
Since the fall of the communist regime, several journalists have been
charged with libel. This was the first time that journalists were
arrested. -- Stefan Krause

CROATIAN FOREIGN MINISTER IN ALBANIA. Mate Granic arrived for a two-day
visit to Tirana on 21 February, international agencies reported. Meeting
with his Albanian counterpart, Alfred Serreqi, both sides agreed on the
territorial integrity of all Balkan countries and the inviolability of
present borders. Granic said that Croatia supported the rights of all
ethnic minorities in the Balkans, while Serreqi stressed that the
problem of Kosovo could not be reduced to a question of basic human
rights and freedoms. He added that "Kosovo is [not] only an internal
problem of Serbia [but a] a fundamental element of the crisis in the
former Yugoslavia." The two sides agreed on increased economic and
cultural cooperation. Meanwhile, British Foreign Secretary Malcolm
Rifkind, in Tirana on 21 February, told President Sali Berisha that
Britain will raise its diplomatic representation in Albania from charge
d'affaires to ambassador, AFP reported. -- Fabian Schmidt

GREECE, ALBANIA AGREE ON PRISONER RETURN. Albanian Justice Minister
Hektor Frasheri and his Greek counterpart, Evangelos Venizelos, meeting
in Athens on 21 February, agreed on the return of some 730 Albanians
serving prison sentences in Greece, Reuters reported. Greece will now
speed up the implementation of an agreement whereby prisoners will serve
sentences in Albanian prisons. The first 70 inmates will be moved to
Albania in the next two weeks. Some 130 of the inmates are juveniles,
and another 400 are still awaiting trial. It is unclear whether the
latter will be tried in Greece. There are no imprisoned Greeks in
Albania. Greek prisons are overcrowded. and tensions between Greek and
Albanian prisoners recently resulted in riots. -- Fabian Schmidt

GREEK-TURKISH NEWS. Greek Prime Minister Kostas Simitis on 21 February
began a tour of EU capitals in a bid to rally support for his country in
the dispute with Turkey over the islet of Imia/Kardak, AFP reported the
same day. Simitis met with EU Commission President Jacques Santer and
Belgian Prime Minister Jean-Luc Dehaene in Brussels. He told a news
conference that Turkey's position makes it "difficult for us to
cooperate so that the customs union [between the EU and Turkey]
functions freely." Meanwhile, Reuters cited EU sources as saying Greek
Foreign Minister Theodoros Pangalos has threatened to block a vote
approving 375 million ECU ($487 million) in EU aid to Turkey. Turkish
Foreign Minister Deniz Baykal said Turkey has fulfilled its commitments
vis-a-vis the customs union, and he called on the EU not to give in to
"Greek blackmail." -- Stefan Krause

[As of 1200 CET]

Compiled by Roger Kangas and Jan Cleave




[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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