If you wish to make an apple pie truly from scratch, you must first invent the universe. - Carl Sagan
OMRI DAILY DIGEST

No. 54, Part II, 15 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^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^
DEFENSE MINISTER'S DISMISSAL SPARKS POLITICAL CRISIS IN MOLDOVA.
President Mircea Snegur's decision to dismiss Defense Minister Pavel
Creanga sparked a new political crisis in Moldova, Moldovan and Western
agencies reported. Snegur on 15 March appointed General Tudor Dabija as
acting defense minister to replace Creanga, whom he had accused of
corruption. Creanga initially resisted the president's order and refused
to leave his ministry's headquarters. Special troops were deployed
around the ministry for several hours. A provisional solution to the
conflict could be brokered only after the parliament convened in an
emergency session, attended by Snegur, representatives of the
Constitutional Court, the general prosecutor, and the military. All
sides agreed to let the high court decide whether the firing had been
legal. The tug of war over Creanga's fate once more brought into the
open a long-simmering conflict between Snegur and the ruling Agrarian
Democratic Party. -- Dan Ionescu
^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^

CENTRAL AND EASTERN EUROPE

UKRAINIAN OFFICIAL GIVES CHORNOBYL SARCOPHAGUS 10-15 YEARS. Ukrainian
Environment Minister Yurii Kostenko says the steel-and-concrete tomb
encasing the ruined Chornobyl nuclear reactor will last only another 10-
15 years, UNIAN reported 16 March. That is half the time originally
estimated, Kostenko said, and hastens the need to extract the damaged
reactor's remaining 200 tons of nuclear fuel and 3,000 tons of water.
The official said the process of removing the waste could cause some
radioactive leakage and threaten the Dnipro River. Kostenko also said
there was no sense in continuing the resettlement of people still living
in contaminated areas to other regions because the radioactivity had
decreased and government funds would be better spent on cleanup,
improved medical care, and applying alternative farming methods. --
Chrystyna Lapychak

FEW BLACK SEA FLEET PERSONNEL CHOSE UKRAINE. Of the more than 1,500
Black Sea Fleet officers whose posts were cut since the first of the
year because of a staff restructuring program, only 70 have opted to
transfer to the Ukrainian navy, a spokesman for the fleet's press center
told the Unian news agency on 15 March. He also said that only 280 of
the 1,420 warrant and noncommissioned officerswho have lost their jobs
chose to switch. -- Doug Clarke

UKRAINE REACTS TO DUMA DECISION TO REVOKE CIS ACCORD. Ukrainian leaders
sharply criticized the Russian Duma's decision to repeal the 1991
Belovezhsk Accords, which created the CIS, Ukrainian and international
agencies reported. President Leonid Kuchma said that although the
decision has no legal consequences, the body's disrespect for and
questionable intentions toward Russia's neighbors poses a threat to them
and the world community. He said Ukrainian independence was based on the
results of a December 1991 referendum -- when over 90% of the population
approved the split with Moscow -- not on the CIS accord. Kuchma said the
Duma decision had, however, "placed a mine under the CIS." Leaders of
Ukraine's national-democratic parties condemned the decision as a
political ploy by Russia's communists to incite leftist unrest in
Ukraine and other former republics. -- Chrystyna Lapychak

BELARUSIAN PRESIDENT COMMENTS ON DUMA VOTE. Alyaksandr Lukashenka made a
reserved but generally positive comment on the Duma decision denouncing
the 1991 accords abolishing the USSR. "Regrettably," he said 15 March on
Russian TV, "the former union cannot exist now." He asserted that he
would cooperate with everyone favoring a new union and that the shape of
this union would depend on the positions of the parliaments and
presidents of the participating states. He noted that the union could be
even closer than before. -- Saulius Girnius

RUSSIAN ORTHODOX CHURCH RALLY IN ESTONIA. Archbishop Kornilii of Tallinn
led a procession of Orthodox believers in the Estonian capital on 16
March protesting the decision of the Constantinople patriarch in
February to take theEstonian Apostolic Orthodox Church under his
jurisdiction. ETA estimated the number of participants to be 7,000-
10,000, while ITAR-TASS put the number at 15,000.The protesters asserted
that the Orthodox Church in Estonia should remain under the Moscow
patriarch. They fear that the transfer from Moscow'sjurisdiction could
lead to the loss of church property and of the right to pursue their
religious beliefs. No incidents were reported during the hour-and-a-
half-long march. -- Saulius Girnius

POLAND FIRM ON NATO DESPITE MOSCOW SECURITY-GUARANTEE OFFER. Poland
rejected Russia's suggestion of a security guarantee from Moscow on 15
March and said it intends to go ahead with seeking full NATO membership,
Polish and international media reported the next day. Gazeta Wyborcza on
18 March reported that Washington also rejected the idea of a U.S.-
Russian joint security guarantee for Poland. President Aleksander
Kwasniewski told visiting Russian Foreign Minister Yevgenii Primakov
that while Poland fully intended to join NATO, it also wishes to
maintain good relations with Russia. Although Primakov reaffirmed his
country's opposition to an enlargement of NATO, the two sides declared
success in warming recently frosty relations. The countries have decided
to seek liberalization in trade and business and are working on a
military agreement facilitating arms trade. -- Dagmar Mroziewicz

PRIMAKOV SAYS OLEKSY WAS NOT A SPY. Russian Foreign Minister Yevgenii
Primakov, who headed Moscow's intelligence services in 1991-1996, said
on 15 March that former Polish Prime Minister Jozef Oleksy, accused by
the security services of spying for Moscow, has had no links with
Russian intelligence. Gazeta Wyborcza on 16 March quoted Primakov as
saying that there had been no operational file on Oleksy and therefore
no "secret-agent relationship" with him. Military prosecutors are to
decide next month whether to bring charges against Oleksy, who has
denied all spying allegations but resigned from office (see OMRI Daily
Digest, 25 January 1996) when prosecutors began a probe. -- Dagmar
Mroziewicz

CZECH JUNIOR GOVERNMENT PARTIES RISE IN POLL. The two junior members of
the Czech governing coalition, the Civic Democratic Alliance (ODA) and
the Christian Democratic Union-Czechoslovak People's Party (KDU-CSL),
are gaining support as the late-May parliamentary elections approach,
according to a poll published on 16 March. The ODA's rating rose from
6.4% in February to 9.3% in the poll conducted by STEM, and the KDU-CSL
went from 7.8% to 8.9%. The Civic Democratic Party, led by Prime
Minister Vaclav Klaus, fell slightly to 28.3%, while the opposition
Social Democrats rose marginally to 20%. According to the poll, only two
other parties are likely to win seats in the next parliament: the
Communists with 8.7% and the extreme-right Republicans with 5.6%. Up to
25% of voters are, however, still undecided, Mlada fronta Dnes reported
on 18 March. -- Steve Kettle

CZECH MiG-29s FOR POLISH HELICOPTERS. The Czech Republic will receive 11
Polish-built Sokol helicopters in the last quarter of this year in
exchange for MiG-29s that were part of the Czech air force, CTK reported
on 8 March. The agency quoted the Defense Ministry as saying the
helicopters would be used for medical services. When Czechoslovakia
split up, the Czech Republic received 10 MiG-29s, but the ministry
decided they were too expensive to operate and maintain. -- Doug Clarke

SLOVAK PRIME MINISTER DEFENDS PENAL-CODE AMENDMENT. Vladimir Meciar on
15 March told Slovak Radio that his government's controversial bill on
the protection of the republic is needed "to protect the foundations of
Slovakia, its sovereignty, territorial integrity, security, and
constitutional system." He said comparable laws are in effect in such
countries as Germany, Austria, France, Sweden, Belgium, the Netherlands,
the Czech Republic, and Hungary. "Anyone who rejects the bill and
considers it undemocratic is also attacking the legal arrangements of
these other countries," Meciar stressed. He said the bill is intended
"to protect the state from anarchy and upheaval. It is not an
interference in personal freedom, the right to one's opinion, the right
to expression, and the right to a political position." Critics fear that
the bill, which is on the parliament's agenda this month, will be used
against journalists and ethnic Hungarian politicians. -- Sharon Fisher

IMF APPROVES LONG-AWAITED LOAN FOR HUNGARY. The International Monetary
Fund board unanimously endorsed a $387 million standby loan for Hungary
on 15 March, Hungarian media reported. The decision carries great
significance for Hungary, as it acknowledges the results of a strict
austerity program and is expected to enhance foreign investors'
confidence in Hungary. The IMF agreement removes the last barrier to the
country's Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development
membership -- on which an official decision is expected within two
weeks. Meanwhile, preparations are well under way for a nearly $200
million World Bank loan to finance reform of Hungary's banking sector
and accelerate privatization. The IMF agreement was effectively a
precondition for the long-term World Bank loan, which would carry a 15-
year repayment period at low interest. The loan would be the first part
of a larger credit package of up to $400 million-$500 million, with the
second part geared toward state-budget reform. -- Zsofia Szilagyi

SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE

ARSON AND LOOTING IN GRBAVICA. Bosnian Serbs continued over the weekend
to torch and trash the last of the Sarajevo suburbs slated to pass to
federal control on 19 March. In an apparently unique move against the
vandals, IFOR soldiers detained a total of 12 suspected arsonists. The
peacekeepers then handed them over to Serbian police, however, and the
police released the men, Reuters reported on 17 March. Federal
firefighters who had come to Grbavica to control the blazes were forced
out by Serbian grenade attacks on 16 March. Bosnian President Alija
Izetbegovic condemned the destruction and called for protection for
Serbs wanting to stay in their homes. In any event, Onasa said on 17
March that Serbs will be able to return to their government-owned flats
any time up to six months after fleeing them. -- Padraig O'Moore

DIVISIONS DEEPEN IN BOSNIA. Former Bosnian Prime Minister Haris
Silajdzic said on 17 March that the work of the international community
in Bosnia to date was actually helping to reinforce divisions rather
than promote a unified state. The previous day, the international
community's high representative, Carl Bildt, had also pointed out the
dangers of increasing ethnic polarization. News agencies further
reported that Muslims have been preventing Croatian refugees from
returning to their homes in Bugojno. Federal President Kresimir Zubak
said that it will take three to four years to make the federation work,
Reuters noted on 17 March. Western officials, moreover, are concerned
about recent moves by the Muslim leadership that seem aimed at setting
up a Muslim ministate rather than a real multi-ethnic polity, the
International Herald Tribune reported on 16 and 18 March. -- Padraig
O'Moore

BOSNIAN SHORTS. Near Mostar, Croatian police allowed Muslims to visit
graves on Croat-held territory, ending a blockade, news agencies
reported on 17 March. Meanwhile, IFOR is preparing across Bosnia for the
last stage of mutual land transfers between the Muslim-Croat federation
and the Republika Srpska on 19 March. In Ankara, the Bosnia "Train and
Equip" Donors Conference ended with only the U.S. and Turkey pledging
definite amounts to build the federal army. Washington offered $100
million and Ankara $2 million, the Turkish Daily News reported on 16
March. -- Padraig O'Moore

SERBIAN PRESIDENT TO VISIT SKOPJE. Slobodan Milosevic will visit Skopje
on 20 March to announce diplomatic recognition of Macedonia,
international media reported on 17 March, based on Vecer and Foreign
Ministry sources.Vecer reported that during his visit Milosevic will
"announce the normalization of relations" between rump Yugoslavia and
Macedonia, while Foreign Ministry sources said Macedonian Foreign
Minister Ljubomir Frckovski will visit Belgrade on 21 March to sign
documents on mutual recognition. -- Stefan Krause

RUMP YUGOSLAV OFFICIAL'S 'SUCCESS' WITH BOSNIAN SERBS. Mihailo
Milojevic, the head of rump Yugoslavia's chamber of commerce, has said
that his recent visit to the Republika Srpska was "most successful" and
that there would in the very near future be development of economic
links between Belgrade and the Bosnian Serbs. While declining to give
many specifics, Milojevic did say that his Bosnian Serb hosts were
interested in reopening the Bijeljina-Sid and Ruma-Sabac-Zvornik railway
links with rump Yugoslavia as well as establishing regular flights
between Belgrade and Banja Luka. No concrete agreements on restoring the
communication links were reached, but Milojevic stressed that they would
be "soon," SRNA reported on 15 March. -- Stan Markotich

COUNCIL OF EUROPE SETS CRITERIA FOR CROATIA'S ADMISSION. The Council of
Europe's Political Committee has sent Croatia a 21-item list of
admission criteria that is to be signed by Croatian President Franjo
Tudjman and Croatia's parliamentary chairman by 19 March if Croatia is
to enter the organization in April, Croatian media reported on 14 and 15
March. The list was detailed and specific, including references to
freedom of the media and democracy in electing the mayor of Zagreb. --
Daria Sito Sucic

PRESIDENTS OF BOSNIA, CROATIA, SERBIA MEET WITH CHRISTOPHER. U.S.
Secretary of State Warren Christopher is to chair a meeting of the five-
nation Contact Group on Bosnia on 18 March in Geneva, also to be
attended by Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic; his Croatian
counterpart, Franjo Tudjman; and Bosnian Vice President Ejup Ganic,
representing President Alija Izetbegovic, Nasa Borba and AFP reported.
Russia's mission spokesman on 16 March said a Russian representative
would not attend the U.S.-convened meeting in Geneva ahead of the Moscow
Contact Group meeting next week, calling it hastily arranged and
unnecessary. Christopher confirmed that Russia would not take part in
the Geneva meeting but played down the importance of its absence, AFP
reported. Christopher reportedly was set to discuss with the Balkan
leaders the forthcoming elections in Bosnia, issues of free movement,
and the prosecution of war criminals, as well as the presence of foreign
forces on the ground. -- Daria Sito Sucic

ZHELEV WANTS HEADS OF BULGARIAN NATIONAL BANK EXECUTIVES. Bulgarian
President Zhelyu Zhelev, at a meeting on 14 March with newly appointed
Bulgarian National Bank Governor Lyubomir Filipov, demanded that four of
the bank's top executives be replaced. The most prominent names
mentioned were Kamen Toshkov, head of banking supervision, and Stoyan
Shukerov, chief of foreign-currency operations. Zhelev charges these
figures with exercising little control over the banking system and
lending large amounts of money to selected struggling banks,
contributing to the decline of the lev. In other economic news, the
International Monetary Fund and World Bank concluded a round of talks
with the government on 14 March without agreement on a new standby loan,
Duma reported. However, the government is taking measures to demonstrate
its seriousness on structural reform, announcing the official closing of
30-40 loss-making enterprises. According to the World Bank, losses at
state enterprises are 20% of GDP. -- Michael Wyzan

BULGARIAN, ROMANIAN, GREEK FOREIGN MINISTERS MEET. Georgi Pirinski,
Teodor Melescanu, and Theodoros Pangalos met in Varna on 16-17 March,
Bulgarian and Western media reported. The three officials discussed the
location of a second Danube bridge linking Bulgaria and Romania but
failed to reach a decision. The EU is willing to finance the
construction, but Sofia and Bucharest cannot agree on a site. They also
talked about transport, telecommunication, and energy projects,
including the planned oil pipeline from Burgas in Bulgaria to
Alexandroupolis in Greece, and agreed to set up a regional center for
coordinating infrastructure projects in the Balkans. Melescanu and
Pangalos backed a Bulgarian initiative to host a meeting of all Balkan
foreign ministers aimed at promoting regional cooperation and stability.
Greece said it will support Bulgaria's and Romania's wishes for parallel
negotiations for EU membership with all associated members from Eastern
Europe. -- Stefan Krause

ROMANIAN RULING PARTY, NEO-COMMUNISTS END ALLIANCE. The ruling Party of
Social Democracy in Romania (PDSR) and the Socialist Labor Party on 16
March formally ended their political alliance, Romanian and Western
media reported. The announcement came after a meeting of the parties'
chairmen, Oliviu Gherman and Ilie Verdet, respectively. The two leaders
were quoted as saying that they parted because their alliance did not
work anymore. The PDSR, which denounced its alliance with the
ultranationalist Greater Romania Party in October last year, has only
one ally left, the Party of Romanian National Unity, but relations
between the two are also deteriorating. Observers of the Romanian scene
see the PDSR's efforts to rid itself of its former nationalist and neo-
communist allies as aimed at improving the party's image both at home
and abroad. -- Dan Ionescu

ETHNIC HUNGARIANS IN TRANSYLVANIA CELEBRATE 1848 REVOLUTION. Some 8,000
ethnic Hungarians on 15 March gathered in the town of Sfantu Gheorghe to
mark the anniversary of a short-lived anti-Austrian revolution in 1848,
Radio Bucharest and Western media reported. The meeting was attended by
leaders of the Hungarian Democratic Federation of Romania (UDMR),
representatives of the Hungarian Embassy in Bucharest, and guests from
Hungary. Similar rallies took places in several towns in Transylvania,
where most of Romania's 1.6 million Hungarians live. Meanwhile, Romanian
Foreign Minister Teodor Melescanu was quoted as saying that Romania
wants to get a long-delayed treaty with Hungary signed before this
year's presidential and general elections. A bilateral treaty is vital
to both countries' ambitions of joining Euro-Atlantic structures. -- Dan
Ionescu

ALBANIAN PRESIDENT CANCELS FINE FOR KOHA JONE EDITOR. Sali Berisha has
canceled a court fine imposed on Koha Jone Editor in Chief Aleksander
Frangaj, international agencies reported on 17 March. Frangaj was fined
$1,000 for publishing a false report under a disputed press law (see
OMRI Daily Digest, 15 March 1996). In unrelated news, Human Rights Watch
published its annual report on Albania. It concludes that, five years
after the first free post-communist elections, the citizens of Albania
are still plagued by serious human rights violations, such as
restrictions on freedom of expression and association, manipulation of
the legal system, and violence by the police. -- Fabian Schmidt

[As of 12:00 CET]

Compiled by Tim Rostan

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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