He who receives an idea from me receives instruction himself without lessening mine; as he who lights his taper at mind, receives light without darkening me. - Thomas Jefferson
OMRI DAILY DIGEST

No. 61, Part II, 26 March 1996


New OMRI Analytical Briefs:
-  "Slovak Parliament Aproves Territorial Arrangement Law," by Sharon Fisher

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^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^
HILLARY RODHAM CLINTON PLEDGES AID TO HELP REBUILD BOSNIA. The U.S.
first lady visited Tuzla on 25 March and met American IFOR soldiers,
Bosnian government officials, and Bosnian women who suffered during the
war. Ms. Clinton promised $25 million to rebuild damaged homes and
provide work for the huge number of unemployed, whose ranks have further
swelled with demobilization. She talked with Vice President Ejup Ganic,
who is filling in for ailing President Alija Izetbegovic, about
reconstruction, reintegration, women's affairs, and respect for human
rights, about freedom to express different religious and cultural
traditions, Onasa reported. -- Patrick Moore
^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^

CENTRAL AND EASTERN EUROPE

UKRAINIAN LAWMAKERS APPROVE PEACEKEEPERS FOR EASTERN SLAVONIA. The
Ukrainian parliament has agreed to dispatch 500 soldiers to serve as UN
peacekeepers in Serb-controlled eastern Slavonia, Reuters reported on 25
March. Defense Ministry officials said the troops will be based near
Vukovar and equipped with 11 tanks and 16 helicopters. Communist
deputies opposed the decision. Ukrainian servicemen have been eager to
join UN forces in the former Yugoslavia, where their wages are
substantially higher than the $8 per month they earn at home. Ukraine
has about 500 troops in Croatia and another 500 in the NATO-led IFOR
mission in Bosnia. -- Chrystyna Lapychak

CONSOLIDATION OF UKRAINIAN CENTRISTS CONTINUES. Three Ukrainian
political parties have formed a new political alliance called Mist
[Bridge], Radio Ukraine reported on 22 March. The center-right
Democratic Party of Ukraine, the centrist Social-Democratic Party, and
the center-left Labor Party support democratic and free-market reforms
but also favor maintaining a social safety network. Another center-right
party, the Christian Democrats, announced it was joining several civic
organizations in another political alliance, the Christian-Social Union,
Ukrainian TV reported on 22 March. They are joined by the All-Ukrainian
Association of Entrepreneurs as well as several similar regional groups.
Recently, a new centrist caucus, Social-Market Choice, was formed. Its
31 members, which include former President Leonid Kravchuk and other
well-known figures, is now the second-largest caucus after the
Communists. -- Chrystyna Lapychak

BELARUS SIGNS INTERIM TRADE AGREEMENT WITH EU. Belarusian Prime Minister
Mikhail Chyhir signed an interim trade accord with the EU in Brussels on
25 March, Western agencies reported. The accord implements the economic
aspects of a broader partnership agreement signed last year with the EU
before that agreement is ratified by all 15 EU states. EU Commissioner
for Foreign Affairs Hans van den Broek said the EU had hesitated to sign
the trade accord because of doubts about the progress of political and
economic reforms in Belarus. He added that he hoped the signing of the
agreement would "contribute to the preservation of Belarus's
independence and sovereignty." Chyhir noted that increased trade with
the West would help Belarus pay its enormous debts to Russia for oil and
gas. -- Saulius Girnius

ESTONIAN PRESIDENT IN BENELUX COUNTRIES. Lennart Meri arrived in Holland
on 25 March at the start of a three-day visit to the Benelux countries,
ETA reported. He met with Prime Minister Wim Kok and Queen Beatrix to
discuss the EU and its future development. Kok noted the importance of
bilateral relations in preparing for EU enlargement and offered help for
training Estonian officials. Meri is scheduled to meet with European
Commission President Jacques Santer and European Parliament President
Klaus Haensch in Brussels today. He is also to hold talks with NATO
Secretary General Javier Solana and Belgian Prime Minister Jean-Luc
Dehaene. -- Saulius Girnius

DIPLOMATIC INCIDENT BETWEEN LITHUANIA, ICELAND. The decision of the
Lithuanian Agricultural Bank to order the trawler Vydunas to return to
Klaipeda has created a diplomatic incident, Radio Lithuania reported on
25 March. In March 1994, the ship was leased for five years to an
Icelandic fishing company. The bank claims that the firm owes it more
than $500,000 and ordered its Lithuanian captain to return home. The
firm denies it has any such debt. Four of the 63-man crew are Icelandic
citizens who radioed to the police alleging that they were being held
hostage. Lithuanian and Icelandic diplomats have discussed the matter
and hope that it will be settled when the ship docks in Klaipeda on 27
or 28 March. -- Saulius Girnius

QUEEN ELIZABETH II IN POLAND. The British monarch arrived in Poland on
25 March, Polish and international media reported. She laid a wreath at
the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier and met with Polish pilots who fought in
the 1940 Battle of Britain and other war veterans who were under British
command. She also paid tribute at a memorial to Warsaw Jews who died in
the Holocaust. At a reception at the presidential palace, the queen
said: "We strongly support the enlargement of the European Union and
NATO. We welcome your aspirations to join these institutions." On 26
March, she will visit Cracow and fly to Prague. -- Jakub Karpinski

THOUSANDS JOIN CZECH DOCTORS' STRIKE RALLY. Doctors, nurses and other
workers from around 130 of the Czech Republic's 200 state-run hospitals
on 25 March joined a two-day strike to demand higher wages and protest
the government's health policy, Czech media reported. Reduced services
were maintained at all hospitals. According to police estimates, 16,500
people attended a mass rally in the center of Prague, making it one of
the biggest strike protests in recent years. The strike was organized by
the Doctors' Trade Union Club, whose chairman David Rath told the
demonstrators the rally should demonstrate to the government how strong
support was for the health worker's demands. They are pushing for a 40%
wage increase and changes in the financing of the state health service.
Rath said protest action would continue after the end of the strike on
26 March, possibly including another strike on 15 May--the official
start of the parliamentary election campaign. -- Steve Kettle

SLOVAK COMMISSION SAYS SECRET SERVICE INVOLVED IN KIDNAPPING OF
PRESIDENT'S SON. An independent commission chaired by Christian
Democratic Movement (KDH) deputy Ladislav Pittner on 25 March accused
the Slovak Information Service of kidnapping President Michal Kovac's
son, Sme reported. Pittner, a former interior minister, announced the
commission's preliminary conclusions at a KDH meeting, saying the final
results should be available next month. He gave the first names and
last-name initials of SIS agents who allegedly prepared and participated
in the kidnapping, specified their tasks, and described the cars they
used. The commission also found that several of the police officers
currently working on the case have criminal records. In other news,
Kovac Jr. on 25 March filed a lawsuit against the "secret witness" who
recently appeared on Slovak TV to allege that the kidnapping was staged.
-- Sharon Fisher

SLOVAK BISHOPS PROTEST DRAFT LAW ON PROTECTION OF REPUBLIC. A group of
Catholic bishops on 25 March sent a letter to "the government, the
parliament and the nation" expressing opposition to the draft law on the
protection of the republic, Slovak media reported. The bishops warned
that the bill compares to the 1948 law "based on which hundreds of
thousands of innocent people were convicted, imprisoned, and tortured,
sometimes to death." If passed, the amendment would put policemen,
public prosecutors, and judges in the same position "as the criminals of
totalitarianism," they stressed. Protests against the bill have recently
come from the Association of Slovak Judges, the Slovak Helsinki
Committee, and Greenpeace. -- Sharon Fisher

HUNGARIAN PRESIDENT IN EGYPT. Arpad Goncz arrived in Cairo on 25 March
to hold talks with his Egyptian counterpart, Hosni Mubarak, Hungarian
dailies reported. The two leaders discussed boosting economic ties as
well as the situation in Bosnia-Herzegovina and the Middle East.
Egyptian officials said Egypt hoped to redress the imbalance of annual
bilateral trade, which is currently $27 million in Hungary's favor. The
two countries are to sign accords on economic, legal, and scientific
cooperation and on fighting organized crime. This is the first visit by
a Hungarian president to Egypt since the two countries established
diplomatic relations more than 40 years ago. -- Zsofia Szilagyi

SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE

NEW MOSTAR ADMINISTRATOR UNBURDENED BY HISTORY. EU foreign ministers on
25 March endorsed the appointment of Spain's Ricardo Perez Casado to
replace Hans Koschnick as administrator in Mostar. He is a socialist
politician from Valencia who is better known as a businessman, Onasa
reported. The news agency added that Perez "admitted he does not know
much about issues in Bosnia and Mostar, which is regarded in Brussels as
a comparative advantage, because the new administrator will be more
efficient in solving unfinished tasks in Mostar by not being burdened
with the past." Perez enters a complex environment that has no fewer
than seven police forces, AFP noted on 26 March. Elsewhere in Mostar,
the Croats freed 10 Serbian prisoners, the International Herald Tribune
reported. -- Patrick Moore

BRAWL BETWEEN BACKERS OF KARADZIC, MILOSEVIC. Supporters of Bosnian Serb
leader Radovan Karadzic lobbed a tear gas grenade into a meeting of the
Socialist Party of the Republika Srpska (SPRS), which is the Bosnian
branch of the ruling Serbian party of President Slobodan Milosevic. The
incident took place on 24 March in the small town of Blatnica southwest
of Doboj, AFP on 26 March quoted Radio Belgrade as saying. Among
Karadzic supporters were local police officials. Several people were
injured and some had to be taken to the hospital. Milosevic backers said
that this was not the first such incident and that Karadzic's people are
trying to intimidate the opposition in the run-up to the elections. The
SPRS stated that it will file a formal complaint with the OSCE. --
Patrick Moore

RUMP YUGOSLAV-TURKISH RELATIONS ON THE MEND. Ankara and Belgrade are
preparing to upgrade bilateral relations, and may restore ambassadorial
ties next month. Beta on 25 March quoted an unnamed official as saying
that "establishing relations at the ambassadorial level may come as
early as April. After that, [Turkish] President Suleyman Demirel is
expected to include Belgrade as one of his planned stops during his
[June] tour of the republics of the former Yugoslavia." Relations
between Turkey and rump Yugoslavia have recently been strained and
acrimonious over disagreements related to the war in Bosnia-Herzegovina.
-- Stan Markotich

INTERNATIONAL INVESTORS IN BELGRADE. A group of U.S. bankers arrived in
the rump Yugoslav capital on 25 March. Reports did not specify which
individuals or companies are involved, by Tanjug suggested that
Citibank, Chemical and Standard Bank, and Saloman Brothers are among the
firms represented. Federal rump Yugoslav Finance Minister Jovan Zebic
hinted that Belgrade wants to persuade the bankers to invest in rump
Yugoslavia's recovery. After emerging from meetings with the group, he
observed that rump Yugoslavia is aware of "the need for an international
financial injection." -- Stan Markotich

"ECOLOGICAL CATASTROPHE" OFF CROATIAN COAST. The state-owned oil company
INA dumped between 100 and 150 metric tons of waste oil into Bakar Bay,
a branch of the Adriatic south of Rijeka. The incident took place on 18
March and led to a protest by local mayors, the pro-government daily
Vjesnik reported on 26 March. One of the mayors demonstrated how a stone
thrown into the bay floated on the slick. Damage is estimated at DM 6
million. INA is known as a sinecure for politicians from the governing
Croatian Democratic Community, and the mayors said it had become "a
state within a state." The area is part of the Kvarner region that
includes the nearby island of Krk and some of Croatia's best-known
tourist resorts. -- Patrick Moore

ROMANIAN PRESIDENT, OPPOSITION LEADER CLASH OVER TIES WITH RUSSIA. A
presidential spokesman has rejected accusations by Emil Constantinescu,
leader of the opposition Democratic Convention of Romania, that Ion
Iliescu is promoting pro-Russian policies. In a communique published in
Cronica romana on 26 March, the President's Office expressed "surprise"
at Constantinescu's remark last week recalling that Iliescu had signed a
treaty with the now defunct Soviet Union some five years ago. That move
was widely seen as an attempt to place Romania in Russia's sphere of
interests. The Soviet Union's demise prevented the treaty from being
ratified. But the Romanian opposition has continued to suspect Iliescu--
a student in Moscow in the early 1950s--of pro-Russian sentiment. -- Dan
Ionescu

BULGARIAN PRESIDENT IN BELGIUM. Zhelyu Zhelev on 25 arrived in Belgium
for a three-day official visit, 24 chasa reported. Zhelev said only NATO
can guarantee Bulgaria's security and the irreversibility of its
democratic changes. He added that no country outside the alliance should
have the right to block NATO expansion. Referring to the Russian State
Duma's resolution on 15 March denouncing the dissolution of the Soviet
Union, Zhelev said it only reaffirms the intention of countries wanting
to join NATO. Zhelev held talks with NATO Secretary-General Javier
Solana and Belgian Prime Minister Jean-Luc Dehaene. He also addressed
the North Atlantic Council. -- Stefan Krause

RUSSIAN DUMA DELEGATION IN SOFIA. A delegation from the Russian State
Duma, headed by Chairman Gennadii Seleznev, arrived in the Bulgarian
capital on 25 March for a three-day visit, Trud reported. Seleznev
accused Zhelev of "getting all worked up" about the 15 March Duma
resolution without having read the document first. At the same time, he
hailed Prime Minister Zhan Videnov for intensifying Russian-Bulgarian
relations, Kontinent noted. After meeting with Foreign Minister Georgi
Pirinski, Seleznev admitted Russia can not prevent any country from
joining NATO, but he repeated Moscow's anti-expansion position. --
Stefan Krause

ARE RELATIONS BETWEEN TIRANA, ATHENS STILL TENSE? Greek Defense Minister
Gerasimos Arsenis has said he will not attend a Balkan conference on
security policy in Tirana later this week, Albania reported on 23 March.
Albanian Defense Minister Safet Zhulali has invited his counterparts
from the U.S., Bulgaria, Macedonia, Greece, Turkey, and Italy to take
part in the meeting. Arsenis argued that the conference has been hastily
organized and complained that Belgrade has not been invited. His
announcement is seen as an indication that Greek-Albanian relations
remain strained, despite Greek President Kostis Stephanopoulos's recent
visit to Tirana. Outstanding unresolved issues are opening Greek schools
in southern Albania and practical steps by Athens to legalize Albanian
immigrants. -- Fabian Schmidt

LARGE FIRE DESTROYS MILITARY DEPOT NEAR TIRANA. A large fire has
destroyed an army depot in Ndroq, 18 kilometers south west of Tirana.
The depot belonged to an air defense unit, Gazeta Shqiptare reported on
26 March. Some toxic material was stored at the depot. No injuries or
casualties have been reported. -- Fabian Schmidt

GREEK-TURKISH UPDATE. Greece on 25 March said that Turkish Prime
Minister Mesut Yilmaz's proposal for negotiations to settle the Greek-
Turkish dispute over Aegean islets was "insufficient," Western agencies
reported. Greek government spokesman Dimitris Reppas said Turkey must
take the first step to quell tensions between Athens and Ankara before
dialogue can be reopened. Yilmaz on 24 March proposed that Greece and
Turkey sign a declaration of friendship and cooperation and work out
military confidence-building measures. He said Turkey will agree to any
mutually-acceptable form of settling disputes, including mediation by a
third party. This is the first time Ankara hinted at the possibility of
arbitration by the International Court in The Hague, which Greece has
proposed several times. -- Stefan Krause

[As of 12:00 CET]

Compiled by Jan Cleave

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

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