Some things have to be believed to be seen. - Ralph Hodgson
OMRI DAILY DIGEST

No. 46, Part II, 05 March 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^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^
SERBS LAUNCH NEW WAVE OF ETHNIC CLEANSING. Serbs arriving from Sarajevo
have begun forcing some of the few remaining Muslims and Croats in the
Banja Luka area from their homes. Onasa on 4 March quoted a UN spokesman
as saying that reports of expulsions are coming in "almost daily."
Elderly Serbs were said to be moving into empty houses vacated earlier
by Muslims and Croats in Trebinje, the Serbian stronghold in eastern
Herzegovina. Meanwhile in Brussels, NATO has been discussing the idea of
putting teeth into IFOR's mandate to enable it to take a more active
role in catching war criminals and protecting the evidence of war
crimes, AFP reported on 4 March. -- Patrick Moore
^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^

CENTRAL AND EASTERN EUROPE

IRANIAN FOREIGN MINISTER IN UKRAINE. Iranian Foreign Minister Ali Akbar
Velayati visited Kiev on 4-5 March, ITAR-TASS reported. Velayati met
with his Ukrainian counterpart Hennadii Udovenko and Prime Minister
Yevhen Marchuk. Talks focused on economic issues. Iran invited Ukraine
to participate in a free economic zone being created along Iran's and
Turkmenistan's border, and Udovenko and Velayati stressed the importance
of realizing the trilateral agreement between Iran, Ukraine, and
Turkmenistan over Turkmen gas deliveries to Ukraine. Under the
agreement, Iran covers part of Ukraine's gas bill to Turkmenistan.
Udovenko and Velayati noted that their countries held similar positions
on most regional and international issues. Velayati flew to Belarus at
the end of the visit, and will also visit Russia. -- Ustina Markus

ESTONIA, FLANDERS SIGN COOPERATION AGREEMENT. Flanders Prime Minister
Luc van den Brande and Estonian Foreign Minister Siim Kallas on 4 March
signed an agreement on cooperation in transport, trade, tourism,
science, and culture, BNS reported. Flanders has signed similar
agreements with Hungary and Poland. In meetings with Prime Minister Tiit
Vahi, President Lennart Meri, and Agriculture Minister Ilmar Mandmets,
van den Brande noted the problems smaller languages and cultures face in
the process of European integration, but expressed support for Estonia's
entry into the European Union. -- Saulius Girnius

OUTBREAK OF SWINE FEVER IN LATVIA. The Estonian veterinary service on 4
March imposed a 12-month ban on the import of swine, pork, and pork
products from Latvia due to an outbreak of swine fever in the Talsi
region of Latvia, BNS reported. Arnolds Zilinskis of the Latvian
veterinary service said that the last outbreak of swine fever in Latvia
was in 1993. At that time, no vaccinations were carried out in Talsi and
five other regions. -- Saulius Girnius

BELARUS COMPLETES CFE AIRCRAFT REDUCTIONS. Belarus has met its
obligations in aircraft reductions as specified by the CFE treaty,
Belarusian television reported on 2 March. Under the terms of the
treaty, Belarus was to dismantle 130 military aircraft. The last were
destroyed at the air base at Baranavichi with an inspection group from
Norway overlooking the operation. By 26 April, Belarus should fulfill
all of its treaty reductions. Under the terms of the treaty, the
reductions should have been completed by November 1995. In February
1995, Belarus suspended its reductions because of financial
difficulties, and only resumed them after Western countries promised
additional aid. Because of its geographic position, Belarus had been the
most militarized republic in the former USSR. -- Ustina Markus

WALESA CALLS FOR PARTY CONSOLIDATION. Former Polish President Lech
Walesa said on 4 March he expects the parties that emerged from the
"Solidarity" trade union to agree on a common basic program and run on
the same list during the forthcoming parliamentary elections. At a
public meeting held at the University of Gdansk, Walesa recommended at
most two party lists. The public opinion organization "Demoskop" says
that if Walesa succeeds in constructing a center-right alliance, the
chances are that the bloc will gain 30% of the vote. This would put it
ahead of the Democratic Left Alliance (28%). If the Freedom Union (UW)
and Jan Olszewski's Movement for Poland's Reconstruction (ROP) run
separately, Walesa's bloc could count on 21% support, Gazeta Wyborcza
reported on 5 March. -- Dagmar Mroziewicz

MYSTERIOUS ARSON AT POLISH JOURNALIST'S APARTMENT. A fire was set during
the night of 2-3 March outside the Warsaw apartment of Polish political
journalist Jerzy Slawomir Mac, who has recently written articles about
spying allegations against former Prime Minister Jozef Oleksy and
financial support given to Poland's communist party by Moscow. Mac said
he and other journalists at Wprost had recently received threatening
letters and phone calls. He told Polish Television that he suspected the
arson was politically motivated. One suspect was arrested on 4 March and
two others detained but initial evidence points to a purely criminal and
not political act, Polish dailies reported. In other news, Dariusz
Fikus, the 64-year old editor-in-chief of the Rzeczpospolita daily, died
of a heart attack on 2 March. -- Jakub Karpinski

CZECH PREMIER IN BELGRADE, FOREIGN MINISTER IN MOSCOW. Vaclav Klaus,
beginning a two-day visit to rump Yugoslavia and Croatia, on 4 March
called for Belgrade to be reintegrated into international organizations,
Czech media reported. "I personally regard is as reasonable and rational
because it is senseless for Yugoslavia to remain outside," he was quoted
as saying. Klaus had talks with Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic and
rump Yugoslav Prime Minister Radoje Kontic, centering on boosting trade
links and removing bilateral visa requirements. Meanwhile, Josef
Zieleniec discussed repayment of Russian commercial debts to the Czech
Republic - worth some $380 million - with Russian Prime Minister Viktor
Chernomyrdin during a visit to Moscow. -- Steve Kettle

SLOVAK JUSTICE MINISTRY PREPARES DRAFT LAW ON PROTECTION OF REPUBLIC.
Slovak National Party (SNS) deputy chairwoman Anna Malikova expressed
satisfaction with the Justice Ministry's proposed amendment to the
criminal code, Narodna obroda reported on 5 March. Malikova, noting that
the amendment was inspired by her party's law on the protection of the
republic which was drafted last April, said the SNS will submit the
legislation to the parliament this month. Although the ministry's draft
has not yet been publicized, the SNS version would inflict punishment on
participants in activities aimed against Slovakia, including activities
which are only "a potential threat." Other crimes would include "the
spreading of false news on Slovak territory or abroad which endangers
the security of the republic or damages its interests." The bill is
reportedly aimed mainly against representatives of the Hungarian
minority and journalists. -- Sharon Fisher

UPDATE ON KIDNAPPING OF SLOVAK PRESIDENT'S SON. Christian Democratic
Movement deputy Ladislav Pittner, a former interior minister who now
heads an independent group investigating the Michal Kovac Jr. abduction,
announced on 4 March that the case could be closed within a month,
Narodna obroda reported. Pittner said his group, which was created a
month ago because of dissatisfaction with the state of the police
investigation, already has evidence pointing to the participation of the
Slovak Information Service. In other news, Prime Minister Vladimir
Meciar's long-awaited invitation for an official visit to Germany will
not arrive until the kidnapping case is cleared up, Narodna obroda
reported on 5 March, quoting "well-informed sources" in Bonn. Germany
has apparently coordinated this position with other EU members, the
paper said. -- Sharon Fisher

HUNGARY'S MDF SPLITS. The Hungarian Democratic Forum (MDF), the
country's major opposition party and senior coalition partner in the
former government, split into two on 4 March, Hungarian and
international media reported. The split followed the MDF national
convention, which was called to decide on the future direction of the
party, and the election of a new party presidium (see OMRI Daily Digest,
4 March 1996). The election of Sandor Lezsak as president led to the
more liberal members of MDF to dissociate themselves from the party. The
group, led by former executive president and parliamentary caucus leader
Ivan Szabo, includes former senior members of MDF, among them Geza
Jeszenszky, Gyorgy Szabad and Imre Konya. After reconciliation talks
with Lezsak failed, Szabo announced the formation of the Hungarian
Democratic People's Party. Szabo and his adherents will form a new
caucus in parliament once their party is registered later this week. --
Zsofia Szilagyi

COURT ACQUITS HUNGARIAN NEO-NAZIS. A municipal court in Budapest found
the leaders of two extreme right-wing organizations innocent of
violating the law which bans incitement to hatred and use of prohibited
symbols, Hungarian media reported on 5 March. In the first ever neo-Nazi
trial in Hungary, which began last November, chief defendants Albert
Szabo, 41, and Istvan Gyorkos, 55, were acquitted under freedom of
speech provisions. The two men have used prohibited swastika-like
symbols and circulated neo-Nazi propaganda material. They were arrested
after a march in Budapest on 23 October 1995. The president of the
Hungarian Jewish Communities, Peter Feldmajer, said that the court
decision "only focuses attention on the shortcomings of Hungarian
legislation in this regard". The state prosecutor said an appeal will be
launched and the case will go to the Supreme Court. -- Zsofia Szilagyi

SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE

FRENCH OFFICIALS FREE KARADZIC'S VICE PRESIDENT. French police briefly
arrested Bosnian Serb Vice President Nikola Koljevic In Paris on 2 March
on the basis of an international arrest warrant issued in Sarajevo in
1992 for genocide, AFP noted on 4 March. He was freed after French
government officials intervened and he went on with an advisor to
Radovan Karadzic to visit the Serbian community in France. In The Hague,
indicted war criminal General Djordje Djukic of the Serbian army said he
"does not feel himself guilty" as charged, Nasa Borba wrote on 5 March.
And in Croatia, the Helsinki Committee reported on atrocities committed
against mainly elderly Serbs by uniformed Croats in Krajina since the
area fell last summer, Novi list reported. -- Patrick Moore

BILDT, REHN: TRIALS FOR WAR CRIMINALS ESSENTIAL TO PEACE. Carl Bildt,
the high representative for civilian affairs in Bosnia, told an
international conference in Vienna on 4 March that the prosecution of
alleged war criminals before the Hague-based international tribunal is a
crucial element in the Bosnia peace process, AFP and Nasa Borba
reported. The UN reporter on human rights in former Yugoslavia,
Elisabeth Rehn, said recognition of rump Yugoslavia must depend on the
human rights situation there. She appealed to the international
community to make the lifting of sanctions and provision of
reconstruction assistance to Yugoslavia contingent on that. Bildt
announced that the chamber of human rights, an independent court of
justice, would be constituted in the middle of March. The conference,
held to discuss the human rights provisions of the Dayton accords, was
sponsored by the Austrian Foreign Ministry and attended by 150 delegates
from 30 countries. -- Daria Sito Sucic

TUDJMAN APPOINTS NEW ZAGREB LEADER. Croatian President Franjo Tudjman on
2 March named Marina Matulovic-Dropulic as a commissioner to fulfill the
duties of mayor of Zagreb, Croatian media reported the following day.
Tudjman earlier refused to confirm two candidates for mayor nominated by
the opposition majority on the city council, and instead decided to
appoint a commissioner while calling for new elections. Zagreb City
Assembly President Zdravko Tomac said the council would not confirm
Matulovic- Dropulic's appointment. The opposition alliance will nominate
another candidate for the post of mayor, Hina reported. "We will not
give in, because it is Zagreb that will decide whether democracy is to
stay or vanish," Vjesnik quoted Tomac as saying. -- Daria Sito Sucic

WILL SESELJ DIVIDE THE SERBIAN OPPOSITION? Nasa Borba on 5 March runs a
series of articles which attempt to evaluate the impact of the
controversial Serbian Radical party (SRS) and its leader, accused war
criminal Vojislav Seselj, on opposition party relations. A recurring
theme appears to be a suspicion in opposition ranks that any serious
cooperation aimed at forging unity aimed to dislodge the ruling
Socialist Party of Serbia likely shall not or cannot include the SRS. In
one piece, titled "What Opposition Colleagues Say About the Radicals,"
Aleksandar Cotric of the Serbian Renewal Movement (SPO) argues: "The
question is just whether or not Seselj is really even a member of the
opposition, because everybody remembers a time when there was tight
cooperation [between the SRS] and the socialists...when he [Seselj] even
told his voters to cast their ballot for Milosevic for president." --
Stan Markotich

SLOVENIAN FOREIGN MINISTER IN EGYPT. Zoran Thaler met in Cairo with
Egyptian Prime Minister Kamal Ahmad al-Janzuri and Foreign Minister Amr
Musa on 3 March, STA reported that same day. At the top of the agenda
were continuing and developing bilateral economic ties, but the
possibility for Slovenian-Egyptian cooperation on issues relating to
Bosnia-Herzegovina was also discussed. "Slovenia and Egypt have a
similar point of view on resolving the Bosnia crisis...and [our] two
countries will cooperate in reconstruction projects for Bosnia and
Herzegovina," said Thaler. -- Stan Markotich

METRO STRIKE CAUSES TRAFFIC CHAOS IN BUCHAREST. Metro workers in
Bucharest on 4 March went on an indefinite strike to press demands for a
30% pay rise and better terms, Radio Bucharest reported. The strikes
will be held daily from 4 a.m. to 4 p.m. to get around legal
requirements that metro workers must not strike for more than two-thirds
of the 19-hour-a-day timetable. The strike has affected some 700,000
commuters in Romania's capital who use the underground rail network
regularly. On 4 March, thousands of commuters lined up at bus and tram
stops despite low temperatures of some -10 Celsius. Romania's Transport
Ministry declared the strike "illegal" and "unwarranted," pointing at
the fact that the metro system receives state subsidies. Premier Nicolae
Vacaroiu also spoke of an "illegal" strike and urged the workers to
resume their activity. -- Dan Ionescu

SIX ROMANIANS DIE IN JERUSALEM BOMB ATTACK. Five Romanian guest workers
and a tourist were among the victims of last weekend's suicide bomb
attack in Jerusalem, Romanian and international media reported on 3-5
March. President Ion Iliescu condemned the attack, and expressed hopes
that such fanatical acts would not derail the peace process. The
Romanian Foreign Ministry released the names of the six victims and said
the bodies will be repatriated on 6 March. -- Matyas Szabo

BULGARIAN INTEREST RATE GOES UP. The Bulgarian National Bank (BNB) on 4
March raised the prime interest rate by 7%, Pari reported. The new rate
of 49% becomes effective on 6 March. BNB Governor Lyubomir Filipov said
"chaos on the currency market" necessitated the move but he hopes the
rate will fall under 25% by the end of 1996. The raise came just one
month after the BNB raised the prime interest rate from 34% to 42% on 1
February. In 1995, the rate was lowered seven times. Trud cited Filipov
as saying that without help Bulgaria can not meet its obligations to
repay foreign debts in 1996 because it would have to use its foreign
currency reserves which would further devalue the lev. 24 chasa said the
BNB's foreign currency reserves fell from $1.4 billion on November 1995
to $930 million. -- Stefan Krause

BULGARIAN UPDATE. Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Economic
Development Rumen Gechev and Interior Minister Lyubomir Nachev are
likely to be replaced soon, 24 chasa reported on 5 March. A report by
the Bulgarian Socialist Party's (BSP) sociopolitical commission said
they must leave the government of Prime Minister Zhan Videnov
immediately. BSP Deputy chairman Georgi Parvanov called for immediate
personnel changes, an intensified fight against crime, and a smoother
implementation of economic reforms. In other news, Standart reported
that official documents were falsified in order to allow for increased
grain exports. The Confederation of Independent Trade Unions in Bulgaria
(KNSB) claims that more than one million tons of grain were exported
instead of the 500,000 tons the government had approved, thus causing a
severe grain shortage. -- Stefan Krause

GREEK "SPY STORY" UPDATE. Greece on 4 March demanded that Italy and the
Netherlands replace their military attaches, Reuters reported. Rome and
The Hague had recalled the attaches after Athens accused them of spying
(see OMRI Daily Digest, 4 March 1996). A senior government official said
Greece "will not accept the same people." Dutch Foreign Minister Hans
van Mierlo called the row "a little storm in a very big teacup" and said
there was no question of the Netherlands spying on a NATO partner. But
parliamentary deputies in The Hague said that if Greece does not
withdraw its accusation it will be asked to recall a diplomat from the
Netherlands. Italy said it will not send its military attache back until
Athens ends the "blown-up episode." -- Stefan Krause

TWO ALBANIAN PAPERS CLOSE DOWN. The Koha Jone publishing house has
announced it will close down two of its smaller publications to overcome
a financial crisis following a police crackdown on its delivery system,
Gazeta Shqiptare reported on 3 March. Editors-in-Chief Nikolle Lesi and
Aleksander Frangaj argued that Koha Jone is forced to close down AKS and
Sport Ekspres as police are continuing to impound nine of the daily's
delivery vans, some for over a month. Koha Jone has also been charged
with tax evasion for wrongly registering as a magazine rather than a
newspaper. -- Fabian Schmidt

FOUR ALBANIANS ARRESTED FOR FOUNDING COMMUNIST PARTY. A Tirana court
ordered the continued detention of three people who tried to re-found a
Communist Party and youth organization, Koha Jone reported on 5 March. A
fourth man, aged 73, has been put under house arrest. All those arrested
are over 50 years old and will be charged with founding anti-
constitutional parties or organizations. -- 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) 1996 Open Media Research Institute, Inc.
                             All rights reserved. ISSN 1211-1570
 
         

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