This communicating of a man's self to his friend works two contrary effects; for it redoubleth joy, and cutteth griefs in half. - Francis Bacon
OMRI DAILY DIGEST

No. 58, Part II, 21 March 1996



OMRI DAILY DIGEST
No. 58, Part II, 21 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^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^
U.S. SEEKS TO REASSURE NATO HOPEFULS. U.S. Secretary of State Warren
Christopher told Central and Eastern European countries on 20 March they
will not be kept in NATO's waiting room forever and "new allies" will be
full members of the alliance. In a speech in Prague before 12 of the
region's foreign ministers or their deputies, Christopher sharply
reaffirmed U.S. commitment to European security and NATO enlargement.
He rejected Russian suggestions that countries in the region could
join NATO as less than full members, saying: "This is no time to talk
about deals or qualified membership." Christopher, who travels to Moscow
on 21 March, called the Russian Duma's vote to reconstitute the Soviet
Union "a dark vision" but said it was critical that Russia should take its
"rightful place in the new Europe." "Central Europe's integration will
neither determine, nor be determined by, events in Russia. But we
have an equal interest in integrating, not isolating Russia," he
said. -- Steve Kettle
^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^

CENTRAL AND EASTERN EUROPE

LAWMAKERS BEGIN REVIEW OF NEW UKRAINIAN, CRIMEAN CONSTITUTIONS.
President Leonid Kuchma presented the draft of a new Ukrainian
constitution to a special session of parliament on 20 March, Ukrainian
and Western media reported. Kuchma called on deputies to work quickly to
adopt the draft because Ukraine remains the last of all the former
republics without a new post-Soviet basic law. He said the draft was
"completely European in letter and spirit and reflected Ukrainian
traditions of nationbuilding." Drafted by a special commission
consisting of lawmakers, administration officials and legal experts, the
document provides for a strong presidency and bicameral legislature.
Legislators also began examining the draft of a new Crimean constitution
after hard-liners dropped their demand to replace the region's
constitution with a charter. The vocal deputies still hope however, to
limit the Crimean legislature's authority and the region's autonomy as a
whole. -- Chrystyna Lapychak

KUCHMA ORDERS COMPLETION OF VOUCHER PRIVATIZATION BY YEAR'S END.
Ukrainian President Leonid Kuchma has issued a decree ordering the
completion of his government's voucher privatization scheme by the end
of the year, Ukrainian TV reported on 19 March. The decree calls for all
privatization certificates for shares in medium- and large-scale state-
owned enterprises to be distributed to citizens by 1 July. The decree
gives all Ukrainians until 31 December to trade in their certificates
for shares in available enterprises. -- Chrystyna Lapychak

ESTONIA INDICTS FIRST SOVIET-ERA OFFICIAL. The Estonian Security Police
on 20 March indicted 85-year old Vasilli Riis for crimes against
humanity, BNS reported. Riis was accused of signing the warrants to
arrest 340 Estonians, who were later executed, while he was the head of
the NKVD Soviet security police on the western island of Saaremaa in the
summer of 1941. If found guilty, he could be sentenced to the death
penalty or up to 15 years imprisonment. -- Saulius Girnius

NEW LITHUANIAN GOVERNMENT'S PROGRAM APPROVED. The Seimas on 19 March
approved the program of Prime Minister Mindaugas Stankevicius, formally
allowing his government to be sworn in, Radio Lithuania reported.
Stankevicius said that his cabinet would strive to revive industry,
increase tax revenues, improve the investment climate by accelerating
the privatization process, and pay off debts for Russian energy. Earlier
in the session, the Seimas amended article 47 of the Constitution,
allowing the purchase of land by foreigners. The amendment will go into
effect only if two-thirds of the Seimas approves it again after 19 June.
The prohibition of land sales to foreigners could prevent Lithuania from
becoming a member of the European Union. -- Saulius Girnius

CZECH, SLOVAK ARMED FORCES SHORT OF PERSONNEL. According to the two
chiefs of staff, both the Czech and Slovak militaries are undermanned,
CTK reported on 19 March. Czech Chief of Staff Jiri Nekvasil and his
Slovak counterpart, Jozef Tuchnya, told this to the press after a
working meeting in southern Moravia. Nekvasil said that there were
almost one-third fewer than the planned 65,000 soldiers in the Czech
forces while Tuchnya said that the Slovak military was "deep under the
figure" of 47,000 troops it should have. Under the terms of the CFE 1A
treaty, the personnel ceilings for the Czech Republic and Slovakia are
93,333 and 46,667 respectively. -- Doug Clarke

SLOVAK PRIME MINISTER VISITS AUSTRIA. Meeting on 20 March with Austrian
officials, Vladimir Meciar said Slovakia's nuclear power plant in
Jaslovske Bohunice could be closed by the end of 1999, Slovak media
reported. However, he stressed that such a move is linked to the
completion of Slovakia's second nuclear plant in Mochovce. Meciar asked
Austrian Foreign Minister Wolfgang Schuessel for support in Slovak
efforts at EU integration. He also delivered a lecture on the Slovak
economy hosted by the Slovak-Austrian Economic Forum and International
Vienna Council in which he called for closer bilateral cooperation in
infrastructure development. Following Meciar's meeting with Austrian
President Thomas Klestil, the presidential office called the talks
"purely polite" and gave no further details. -- Sharon Fisher

NO LEAP FORWARD IN HUNGARIAN, SLOVAK FOREIGN RELATIONS. Although
Bratislava is reportedly preparing the ratification of the Slovak-
Hungarian treaty, it is simultaneously taking measures that arouse
concern among ethnic Hungarians in Slovakia, Hungarian Foreign Minister
Laszlo Kovacs said. He was holding a meeting with his Slovak counterpart
Juraj Schenk on 20 March, CTK reported. Kovacs called attention to the
Slovak language law, passed last year, and the new administrative
division of Slovakia--now being discussed--which will further restrict
minority rights of the 600,000 ethnic Hungarians in Slovakia. Kovacs
told journalists that Schenk had called his concerns groundless and
assured him that the Slovak-Hungarian basic treaty would be ratified
soon. -- Zsofia Szilagyi

SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE

IFOR TROOPS ENTER SARAJEVO SUBURB. NATO peacekeepers moved into Dobrinja
on 20 March to defuse tensions between Serbs and their Muslim and Croat
neighbors, the BBC reported on 21 March. Gunfire and explosions had been
reported. The Dayton boundary line between federal and Serb territory
there runs right through the middle of two apartment buildings, and
there were disputes as to which side owns what. This development
reflects the glitches that emerged from the Dayton boundary demarcation
maps and the problems of partitioning what had been ethnically mixed
territory. The Dayton agreement set up a joint commission to prepare
territorial exchanges by mutual consent, but to date there have been no
agreements. Elsewhere in Sarajevo, British peacekeepers on 19 March
prevented government and Croatian troops from entering two barracks that
both were claiming, Reuters noted the next day. -- Patrick Moore

SERBS DEPLOY IN CENTRAL BOSNIA. Following the withdrawal of federal
forces in keeping with the Dayton treaty, Bosnian Serb forces (VRS)
entered the "anvil" region around Sipovo and Mrkonjic Grad on 20 March.
AFP said that some 1,000 men from the VRS were being monitored by 2,000
IFOR peacekeepers and by NATO air patrols. Serb refugees are returning
by the thousands to the area lost to the allied armies last September,
and IFOR reports that the situation is peaceful. Nearby, IFOR said some
homes belonging to Muslims near Croat-held Jajce went up in flames,
Oslobodjenje wrote on 21 March. Onasa added that the peackeepers said
the destruction did not appear systematic. The commander of U.S. forces
in Europe, Gen. George Joulwan, has become the latest Western official
to warn Congress that the "number one issue" facing the peace process is
keeping the Muslim-Croat federation together, AFP stated the previous
day. -- Patrick Moore

IZETBEGOVIC SAYS ELECTIONS KEY TO DAYTON PROCESS. Bosnian President
Alija Izetbegovic is recuperating at home from heart problems but has
given a major interview to Focus, its parent publication Dnevni avaz
reported on 20 March. He stressed that the cornerstone of the Dayton
structure is holding elections later this year, and that if the Serbs
block them, his government will withdraw recognition of the Republika
Srpska. Turning to the Croats, the Muslim leader said that some were
supporters of the Federation but that others were just playing a game,
hoping to provoke the Muslims into torpedoing the project first.
Addressing American concerns about the Iraninan presence in Bosnia,
Izetbegovic said that only 50 ex-fighters are left and that they are all
now civilians with families and Bosnian citizenship. He added that the
prime minister's recent visit to Iran was linked to the ending of
bilateral military relations and that, in keeping with Dayton, such ties
would now be purely peaceful. -- Patrick Moore

CROATIA TO BE ADMITTED TO COUNCIL OF EUROPE. The Political Committee of
the Council of Europe's Parliamentary Assembly proposed on 19 March that
Croatia be admitted to the Council of Europe as a full member, Hina
reported. The committee adopted a report on Croatia with 25 votes for,
three against and four abstentions, and proposed that Croatia be
admitted at the Parliamentary Assembly session scheduled at the end of
April. Earlier, Zdravko Tomac, chairman of the Zagreb City Council, on
behalf of the councilmen from the seven opposition parties forwarded a
letter in which the Council of Europe was urged to accept Croatia. "The
Zagreb crisis was no reason for refusing Croatia admittance," the letter
said, stating the crisis could be resolved "only if Croatia accepted
European standards and was integrated into the European legal system,"
Hina reported. -- Daria Sito Sucic

SADAKO OGATA ANNOUNCES BEGINNING OF REPATRIATION. The UN High
Commissioner for Refugees said on 20 March that the UNHCR in the former
Yugoslavia is to switch from aid delivery and immediate protection of
the victims of war to help in organizing the return of two million
refugees to the area, Nasa Borba reported on 21 March quoting Tanjug.
"The biggest operation ever undertaken by the UNHCR" will start at the
beginning of April, Ogata announced at the session of the UN Committee
for Human Rights. Meanwhile, the international community's High
Representative Carl Bildt's office on 20 March established a housing
commission to help refugees and displaced persons return to their homes,
Onasa reported. The commission's mandate is to rule on refugee rights to
return and help put them into practice. It will also help refugees to
sell, lease or exchange their homes or receive reimbursement. -- Daria
Sito Sucic

SERBIAN PARAMILITARY LEADER BUYS RADIO STATION. Zeljko Raznatovic, alias
"Arkan," has bought Belgrade's Radio Pingvin from an Italian businessman
and has named it after his paramilitary Tigers. Arkan, an alleged war
criminal who is also wanted throughout Europe on murder and other
serious charges, said the music-based format of the station will not be
changed and will not feature political commentary, AFP reported on 20
March. The new station editor is Borislav Pelevic, a high ranking
official in Arkan's ultranationlist political party, the Serbian Unity
Party. -- Stan Markotich

MILOSEVIC POSTPONES VISIT TO SKOPJE. Serbian President Slobodan
Milosevic on 20 March postponed a visit to Macedonia scheduled for the
same day, Nova Makedonija reported. No reason was given for the
cancellation, but well informed sources in Skopje were cited as saying
that Milosevic might come next week. Milosevic and his Macedonian
counterpart Kiro Gligorov had been expected to announce mutual
recognition of Macedonia and rump Yugoslavia. -- Stefan Krause

SLOVENIAN JOURNALISTS END STRIKE. Journalists at the state-backed Radio
and Television Slovenija corporation ended their strike for higher wages
and improved working conditions for freelancers on 20 March. The staff
ended its job action after three days, following a management decision
to increase salaries by some 15% effective in April, raising an
employee's minimum monthly wage to $1,200, Reuters reported. Strike
committee officials said that staff will again strike on 16 April in the
event the deal breaks down. -- Stan Markotich

ROMANIAN MINISTERS ON EURO-ATLANTIC INTEGRATION. Defense Minister
Gheorghe Tinca told journalists on 20 March that Romania was firmly
committed to join NATO. Radio Bucharest quoted Tinca as saying that
Romania's military was interested in establishing very good ties with
armies in neighboring countries to promote stability in the region. In a
separate development, Foreign Minister Teodor Melescanu, who was
attending the Prague meeting with Christopher, told Radio Bucharest that
he was optimistic about Romania's chances to be admitted to NATO as a
full member. Also on 20 March, a Foreign Ministry spokesman said in
Bucharest that Romania made "a firm option in favor of integration into
the Euro-Atlantic structures, be they political, strategic, or
economic." -- Dan Ionescu

STRIKING WORKERS CLASH WITH POLICE IN ROMANIA. Some 200 workers,
demanding the resignation of the Drobeta-Turnu Severin CELROM paper-
mill's manager, clashed with riot police, who were called to clear
strikers from the factory's gate so that management and non-striking
workers could enter, Romanian and international media reported on 20-21
March. A worker said an armored police car broke the gate and some 200
policemen beat the protesters. Several workers suffered injuries. Col.
Marian Tutilescu, police chief of the town, said "the workers were
waiting for us with clubs and one worker lit two bottles with gasoline
and threw them at us." According to him, 11 policemen were slightly
injured. CELROM's workers have been on strike since 17 February,
accusing the factory's management of fraudulent privatization. -- Matyas
Szabo

BULGARIAN MINERS GO ON STRIKE. Around 11,000 workers at Bulgaria's
biggest coal mine went on strike on 20 March, Bulgarian and Western
media reported. It is the largest such action since the Socialists
returned to power. The miners at the Maritsa Iztok mine, which produces
30% of the fuel used by the country's electricity system, are demanding
a 60% pay raise and better working conditions. Officials of the
Confederation of Labor "Podkrepa," who organized the strike, said the
miners will strike until their demands are met. Miners in other coal
mines held mostly short protest strikes in solidarity with their
colleagues, and the strike has the support of the ex-communist union as
well. Energy Committee head Konstantin Rusinov called the demands
unrealistic and said the strikes were a "stab in the back" to the
country. Other officials said that power cuts and rationing are possible
if the strike goes on until the end of the month. Kontinent on 21 March
reported that Bulgaria has enough coal supplies for one week. -- Stefan
Krause

BULGARIAN PRESIDENT AGREES TO PARTICIPATE IN PRIMARIES. Zhelyu Zhelev on
20 March agreed to be the candidate of the Bulgarian Agrarian People's
Union (BZNS) in the upcoming presidential elections and to participate
in primary elections aimed at finding a common candidate for the
opposition, Standart reported. Stefan Savov, chairman of the Democratic
Party which together with the BZNS forms the People's Union, said that
if Zhelev loses the primaries, his party will stick to the agreement
with the Union of Democratic Forces and the ethnic Turkish Movement for
Rights and Freedom saying that the opposition will support the winning
candidate. In other news, German President Roman Herzog, on the second
day of his visit to Bulgaria, met with Prime Minister Zhan Videnov and
Deputy President of Parliament Nora Ananieva. Herzog also addressed the
parliament and pledged German support for Bulgaria's integration into
European structures, Demokratsiya reported. -- Stefan Krause

BULGARIAN SUPREME COURT OVERTURNS BANKS CLOSURES. The Bulgarian Supreme
Court on 19 March stopped "preliminary execution" of the 8 March
decision by the national bank (BNB) to remove the licenses of two
private banks, Kristalbank and the Private Agricultural and Investment
Bank (see OMRI Economic Digest, 11 March 1996), Demokratsiya reported on
21 March. The ruling -- which caught the BNB by surprise -- restores the
banks' licenses and renders inoperative the BNB fund that guarantees
their 250,000 leva ($3,200) in personal deposits. It also removes the
BNB-appointed examiners who had entered the banks to halt their
decapitalization. Both banks are insolvent, Kristalbank finding itself
in that state for over a year. -- Michael Wyzan

ALBANIAN PRESIDENT AND PARTIES DISCUSS ELECTIONS. Sali Berisha met with
the leaders of eight Albanian parties to discuss the upcoming elections,
scheduled for the last week in May or the first weeks of June. The exact
date will be announced after parliament has been dissolved on 3 April.
Other issues discussed were the construction of the electoral commission
and districts, Gazeta Shqiptare reported on 21 March. Opposition
politicians had earlier expressed fear that the district boundaries may
be drawn in a way that would increase the Democrats' chances of electing
direct candidates. They also said that the commissions may manipulate
the election results, but Berisha reassured them that the elections will
be free and democratic and that the number of voters will determine the
size of the electoral districts. The Socialists expressed disappointment
that no decision was reached on setting up a commission to verify the
credentials of candidates. -- Fabian Schmidt

ALBANIAN FOREIGN POLICY UPDATE. Greek President Kostis Stephanopoulos
arrived for a two-day visit to Albania on 21 March, international
agencies reported. Stephanopoulos and his Albanian counterpart Sali
Berisha will sign a friendship and cooperation treaty regulating the
status of Albania's Greek minority and of illegal Albanian workers in
Greece. Stephanopoulos had delayed the visit until Albania agreed to
open three Greek schools for its Greek minority. -- Fabian Schmidt

[As of 12:00 CET]

Compiled by Chrystyna Lapychak

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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