I go to encounter for the millionth time the reality of my existence, and to forge in the smithy of my soul the uncreated conscience of my race. - James Joyce
OMRI DAILY DIGEST

No. 57, Part II, 20 March 1996


New OMRI Analytical Briefs:
-  "Human Rights Group Urges Europe to Get Tough on Chechnya",
   by Scott Parrish
-  "Bosnian Summit:  Whistling in the Dark?", by Patrick Moore

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^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^
CZECH, POLISH PRESIDENTS DISCUSS NATO. Vaclav Havel and Aleksander
Kwasniewski on 19 March urged the West not to delay the enlargement of
NATO because of Russian objections, Czech and international media
reported. "Prolonging the process of expansion on the part of the
Western side could strengthen the radical groups in Russia," Kwasniewski
told a joint news conference after the two presidents met for the first
time in the Czech town of Nachod, close to the Polish border. Havel said
he could not imagine Russia becoming a member of NATO, rather a "future
partner;" but Kwasniewski said that integrating postcommunist countries
into organizations like NATO and the European Union should eventually
extend as far as to Russia. Havel said he would explain the Czech
Republic's stance on NATO to U.S. Secretary of State Warren Christopher,
who arrived in Prague on 19 March and the following day is due to
discuss European security with the foreign ministers or their deputies
from 12 Central and East European countries that are seeking to join
NATO. -- Steve Kettle
^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^

CENTRAL AND EASTERN EUROPE

CHRISTOPHER WRAPS UP VISIT TO UKRAINE. U.S. Secretary of State Warren
Christopher wrapped up his visit to Ukraine by denouncing the Russian
Duma's recent decision to revoke the 1991 accord creating the CIS as
"highly irresponsible" and reaffirmed his country's support of Ukrainian
independence, RFE/RL and Ukrainian agencies reported on 19 March.
Following talks with Ukrainian leaders, Christopher said the U.S. does
not want to see Ukraine become a Russian satellite. President Leonid
Kuchma and Foreign Minister Hennadii Udovenko expressed eagerness to
expand ties with NATO in response to the Russian Duma's resolution They
said they would like to formalize their relationship with NATO with a
charter or treaty, although they still oppose full membership.
Christopher praised Kyiv's progress in nuclear disarmament and reforms,
including its formal submission of a new draft constitution to
parliament on 19 March. He also pledged $10 million in medical aid in
light of the 10th anniversary of the nuclear accident at Chornobyl in
April. -- Chrystyna Lapychak

EDITOR OF BELARUS LARGEST DAILY SACKED. President Alyaksandr Lukashenka
on 19 March dismissed Mikalai Halko, the editor of the largest daily in
Belarus, Narodnaya Hazeta, for "a failure to carry out his duties,"
Reuters reported. Halko had been in his job for only a year. Lukashenka
had dismissed his predecessor and the editors of other newspapers,
including some that are now being printed in Lithuania. Lukashenka was
probably displeased with the paper's criticism of the state of the media
in Belarus and of his efforts to unite the country with Russia.
Opposition parliament deputies said the dismissal indicated Lukashenka's
desire to crush what was left of the free press. -- Saulius Girnius

LATVIAN BORDER QUESTIONS DISCUSSED. Latvian and Lithuanian delegations,
meeting in Jurmala on 18-19 March, agreed on the general principles for
resolving their maritime border dispute, BNS reported. They also signed
a protocol on abidance with the UN convention on maritime law,
international law, and earlier bilateral agreements. Latvian delegation
head Juris Sinka said the talks proceeded in a friendly atmosphere and
he hoped that an agreement could be signed at the next round of talks in
Vilnius on 22-23 April. Latvian Foreign Ministry State Secretary Maris
Riekstins noted that Latvia was preparing to set a provisional sea
border with Estonia to protect Latvia's fishing interests. He said
Estonia's rejection of a Latvian proposal to define a "gray area" in
which both countries could fish had prompted this action, which is
intended to speed up negotiations. -- Saulius Girnius

POLISH PUBLIC TV DIRECTOR REMAINS IN OFFICE. Polish Public TV's (TVP)
nine-person supervisory council has refused to accept the resignation
tendered last month by TVP director Wieslaw Walendziak (see OMRI Daily
Digest, 29 February 1996). Five council members voted in favor of the
resignation, one vote short of the number required by the TVP statute.
Walendziak is disliked by the ruling left-wing politicians, but remains
popular among the Polish public: 61% of respondents consider him a good
director, according to a Polish Public Opinion Research Center (OBOP)
poll, conducted on 8-12 March. -- Jakub Karpinski

POLISH PRIME MINISTER ENDS VISIT TO INDONESIA. Polish Prime Minister
Wlodzimierz Cimoszewicz ended a two-day official visit to Indonesia on
19 March, which included meetings with Indonesian President Suharto and
other officials. The two sides agreed to boost cooperation in coal
mining, modernizing Indonesian shipping facilities and generating
electric power, as well as in the aircraft industry. Trade between the
two countries is valued at about $150 million a year. Next, Cimoszewicz
arrived in Bangkok on 20 March for a two-day visit to Thailand, which is
expected to focus on bolstering economic ties. It is the first visit of
a Polish premier to Thailand since the two countries established
diplomatic relations in 1972, Polish and international agencies
reported. -- Jakub Karpinski

CZECH POLITICIAN'S ANTI-ROMA SIGN TO BE REMOVED. A Free Democrats-
Liberal National Social Party candidate in southern Moravia, Rudolf
Baranek, has promised to take down a sign barring Roma from his hotel in
Breclav, CTK reported on 19 March. The sign read, "Because of repeated
stealing, access is banned to those of Romani nationality" (see OMRI
Daily Digest, 19 March). Baranek and Jiri Dienstbier, a party co-
chairman, have been criticized by civil-rights organizations such as
Citizen's Solidarity and Tolerance Movement (HOST) for claiming on
television that the sign was not racist. Dienstbier is a former
Czechoslovak dissident and a signatory of Charter 77. HOST said that
people like Dienstbier, who defended Roma before 1989, .are "less
willing now to take effective steps against racism." -- Alaina Lemon

GENERAL AGREEMENT SIGNED IN SLOVAKIA. Representatives of Slovak trade
unions, employers' groups, and the government on 19 March signed the
trilateral General Agreement for 1996, Praca reported. The agreement
represents the starting point for bargaining and enables unions to
participate in the drafting of legislation. Wage increases proved to be
a sticking point between unions and employers; however, Confederation of
Trade Unions chairman Alojz Englis voiced satisfaction with the
agreement, which secures growth in real wages by at least as much as
last year. In other news, representatives of the KOVO trade union on 18
March criticized the law on the protection of the republic, which is on
the agenda of the parliament's current session. They expressed fear that
the law would pose a serious threat to democracy and could be used
against trade union officials. -- Sharon Fisher

SLOVAK PARLIAMENT SESSION STARTS. On the eve of the opening of the March
parliament session, opposition parties on 19 March held a secret meeting
to discuss a common strategy aimed at bringing privatization
controversies and the Slovak Information Service's alleged involvement
in the kidnapping of President Michal Kovac's son on to the agenda,
Slovak media reported. Although evidence against the SIS exists, current
police investigator Jozef Ciz has been reluctant to use it, claiming
that former SIS agent Oskar F.'s testimony is of questionable value
since he was issued a presidential pardon. Rejecting Ciz's claims, Kovac
on 19 March said the pardon was granted only for specific crimes and
would not free him from possible charges of providing false witness. In
other news, in an interview with Sme on 18 March, an anonymous judge
provided proof that the SIS led the attempt to discredit Banska Bystrica
Bishop Rudolf Balaz last summer. -- Sharon Fisher

SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE

BOSNIAN PEACE PROCESS ENTERS SECOND STAGE. Crowds in a festive mood came
from the rest of Sarajevo into Grbavica on 19 March to mark the
reunification of the city and inspect their flats, CNN reported. A
wreath was laid atop Mt. Trebevic, the former excursion site just above
the city from which the Serbs shelled Sarajevo during their four-year
siege, Sky News added on 20 March. Strict controls are in effect to
prevent the activity of Muslim gangs that marred the transfer of Ilidza,
Nasa Borba said. IFOR confirmed that government troops have pulled out
of the Marshal Tito barracks as they were required to do following the
Serbian army's departure from the suburbs. The reunification of Sarajevo
marks the end of the military disengagement stage of the peace process,
which will now focus on reconstruction, elections, the return of
refugees, and other civilian issues. Some 90 days after the Dayton
agreement came into effect, the republic is now fully divided into the
Federation and the Republika Srpska. -- Patrick Moore

CROATIAN DEFENSE MINISTER UNDERGOES LUNG SURGERY. Gojko Susak has been
operated on at the Walter Reed Army Hospital in the U.S., AFP said on 20
March, quoting Globus. The Croatian Defense Ministry refused to comment,
although rumors of Susak's hospitalization in the U.S. have been
circulating for at least a week. He is one of the most powerful men in
Croatia because of his key office, his close relationship with President
Franjo Tudjman, and his prominence among the influential "Herzegovinian
lobby" in political and economic life. -- Patrick Moore

THREE WAR CRIME SUSPECTS ARRESTED. Three Bosnian war crimes suspects
were arrested in Germany and Austria on 17 March, AFP reported. The
Austrian interior ministry said the men, held in Vienna and Munich, will
not be identified until they are charged, which indicates that neither
is on The Hague-based International Criminal Tribunal list of war-crimes
suspects. Bosnian Serb media identified one of them as a Bosnian Croat,
arrested for alleged atrocities against Serbs, and the other as Muslim,
wanted for the same reason. The Hague-based tribunal spokesman Christian
Chartier said that a third suspect arrested in Germany matched the
description of one of its indicted suspects. He is suspected of
mistreating inmates in a prison camp in Bosnia in 1992. His ethnicity
was not revealed, but the court statement said the camp housed mainly
"non-Serbs." Meanwhile, Croatia's foreign minister told Vjesnik that
Bosnian Croat General Tihomir Blaskic, indicted for crimes against
humanity, would surrender to the tribunal, while the Serbian President
also promised to transfer to The Hague two Serbs suspected of war
crimes. -- Daria Sito Sucic

MUSLIMS, CROATS RESUME JOINT PATROLS IN MOSTAR. Muslims and Croats
agreed to resume joint police patrols in Mostar after suspending them
for several hours following a series of arrests carried out by both
sides over the weekend, AFP reported on 18 March. EU police spokesman
said the police officers agreed to resume their patrols after Muslims
and Croats arrested over the weekend were released. Three Muslims were
arrested on 16 March in the Croat part of the city following a blast
that destroyed a shop. Two Croat truck drivers were arrested in the
Muslim part of the city. Despite an agreement on reunification of the
city reached during the Geneva 17 March summit, Croats and Muslims
maintained their police barricades, AFP and Nasa Borba reported on 19
March. -- Daria Sito Sucic

AUSTRIA PREPARED TO SEND AN AMBASSADOR TO RUMP YUGOSLAVIA. Michael
Weninger, Austria's charge d'affaires in Belgrade, said on 19 March that
Vienna has taken steps to upgrade relations with rump Yugoslavia to
ambassadorial level. Nasa Borba on 20 March reported that he did,
however, stress that the appointment of an ambassador shall be linked to
regional developments. The chargee said Vienna, following the lead of
the European Union, is ready to extend full diplomatic recognition "just
as soon as mutual recogniton between [rump] Yugoslavia and Macedonia
takes place." -- Stan Markotich

SLOVENIAN ENVIRONMENTALISTS SEEK PLANT CLOSURE. Slovenia's Ecological
Movement, supported by Greenpeace, began to collect petition signatures
on 19 March in a bid to try to force the government to close down the
country's only nuclear plant, Krsko. If 40,000 signatures are collected
by 17 May, the environmentalists will be able to force a referendum on
the plant's closure. One Greenpeace representative observed: "In 10
years Slovenia would be able to replace the energy which is produced by
the nuclear plant, mainly by new small gas and hydro power plants and by
household efficiency programmes." Last year neighboring Croatia said it
would give up its claims to the plant and its resources and not protest
its closure on condition that Zagreb is fully compensated. Efforts in
1995 in the Slovenian legislature to close the plant failed due to lack
of support. Reuters carried the story. -- Stan Markotich

ROMANIAN RULING PARTY, OPPOSITION ATTACK RUSSIAN DUMA VOTE. The ruling
Party of Social Democracy in Romania on 19 March stated that although
the Russian Duma's recent resolution denouncing the breakup of the
Soviet Union cannot have any direct legal or political consequences, it
may represent an infringement on the sovereignty of the newly
independent states, including Moldova. Opposition parties expressed fear
that Russia might return to a policy of spheres of influence and
endanger the independence of former Soviet bloc states, Romanian and
international media reported on 18-19 March. Adrian Severin of the
Democratic Party said the logical consequence of Duma's decision was
"Russia's return to an imperial formula and to an authoritarian rule."
Dinu Zamfirescu, leader of the Liberal Party '93, expressed astonishment
over President Ion Iliescu's lack of response to the Duma decision. --
Matyas Szabo

ROMANIAN PARLIAMENT ADOPTS POLITICAL PARTIES' LAW. The parliament's two
chambers on 19 March passed in joint session a long-delayed Political
Parties' Law, Radio Bucharest reported. The law allows parties set up on
ethnic criteria to function in Romania. Its draft -- and especially the
provisions regarding the financing of political organizations and the
functioning of ethnic parties -- aroused heated debates in Romania.
Parliament eventually adopted a more conciliatory version, proposed by
the Chamber of Deputies. Parliamentarians representing the extreme
nationalist Party of Romanian National Unity and Greater Romania Party,
and the neo-communist Socialist Labor Party voted against ethnic
parties. Petre Turlea, an independent, described those parties as
"racist by definition" and "non-constitutional." Romanian TV said that,
if not attacked at the Constitutional Court, the bill is going to be
promulgated by President Ion Iliescu. -- Dan Ionescu

MOLDOVAN POLITICAL CRISIS UPDATE. The situation has remained calm in
Chisinau as the country awaits a Constitutional Court ruling on the
legality of Defense Minister Pavel Creanga's dismissal last week. The
move has provoked a serious political crisis in the Republic of Moldova
that ended in a war of words between President Mircea Snegur and his
opponents. Meanwhile, Igor Smirnov, the president of the self-proclaimed
Dniester republic, expressed concern over the situation in Moldova,
BASA-press reported on 18 March. He said recent developments signaled "a
split among the top leadership in Chisinau." Smirnov on 16 March had
discussed the crisis by telephone with Moldovan Premier Andrei Sangheli
and Parliament Speaker Petru Lucinschi, and met the same day in Tiraspol
with the Russian Ambassador to Moldova, Aleksandr Papkin, in the
presence of Gen. Valerii Yevnevich, commander of the Russian troops
headquartered in Tiraspol. -- Dan Ionescu

GERMAN PRESIDENT IN BULGARIA. Roman Herzog arrived in Sofia on 19 March
for a three-day official visit, Bulgarian and Western media reported.
After meeting with Bulgarian President Zhelyu Zhelev, Herzog said
Germany will help Bulgaria during its "difficult transition phase." He
also pledged German support if Bulgaria wants to join the EU and NATO.
Herzog also proposed German help for the reconstruction of Bulgaria's
dilapidated nuclear power plant at Kozloduy, considered a safety risk by
the West. Addressing the parliament on 20 March, Herzog said the road to
EU membership will be "long and hard." On 19 March, both sides signed a
cultural agreement which among others provides for mutual recognition of
university degrees. Germany is the biggest foreign investor in Bulgaria,
providing nearly half its foreign capital. -- Stefan Krause

BULGARIA TO SELL STATE ASSETS. Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of
Economic Development Rumen Gechev on 19 March announced that the
government will auction off some of the country's largest state-owned
companies this year, Western media reported. Gechev declined to list all
enterprises, but he said they include a 25-30% share in the national
telecommunications company and the Sodi works in Devnya, one of the
world's largest producers of calcined soda. Gechev said that if Bulgaria
does not have several big privatization deals in 1996, it will not be
able to service its debts. According to Gechev, Bulgaria spent 10% of
last year's budget to service foreign debt, and another 39% to keep
loss-making enterprises going. He said that the government and the
Bulgarian business community are "displeased with the quite low level of
foreign investment" but admitted that the cabinet failed to create
favorable conditions in 1995. -- Stefan Krause

GERMAN DEVELOPMENT MINISTER VISITS ALBANIA. German Minister of Economic
Cooperation and Development Carl Dieter Spranger arrived for a two-day
visit to Albania on 19 March, the Albanian language service of Radio
Deutsche Welle reported. Spranger told Albanian President Sali Berisha
that he was impressed by the progress of reform in Albania and assured
him that the German government will support the economic development of
Albania and help it reach an association agreement with the European
Union. It is his third visit to Albania since 1992. -- Fabian Schmidt

[As of 12:00 CET]

Compiled by Chrystyna Lapychak

The OMRI Daily Digest offers the latest news from the former Soviet
Union and East-Central and Southeastern Europe. It is published Monday
through Friday by the Open Media Research Institute. The OMRI Daily
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Transition subscription information send an e-mail to TRANSITION@OMRI.CZ

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

 
         

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