One must learn by doing the thing; though you think you know it, you have no certainty until you try. - Sophocles
OMRI DAILY DIGEST

No. 63, Part II, 28 March 1996


New OMRI Analytical Briefs:
-  "Crisis in Baltic Banking," by Michael Wyzan

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^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^
IFOR TO HELP WITH BOSNIAN CIVILIAN RECONSTRUCTION. In an apparent
reversal of NATO policy, U.S. commander Gen. George Joulwan on 27 March
said that IFOR troops will join in civilian projects as well as perform
purely military tasks. They will concentrate on opening roads, building
bridges, and clearing mines to permit freedom of movement, AFP reported.
The general said that "if this doesn't happen right, then it's going to
be very difficult to carry out an election. If people can't travel along
the roads, I don't call that 'mission creep,' I say that's part of the
mission." IFOR had previously insisted that freedom of movement was a
police matter that did not concern the peacekeepers. Joulwan added that
the most serious Bosnian issue is now tension between Croats and
Muslims, which is threatening to undermine the federation, the BBC
reported on 28 March. In Washington, the U.S. Defense Intelligence
chief, Gen. Patrick Hughes, stated that IFOR will also arrest indicted
war criminals like Bosnian Serb civilian leader Radovan Karadzic and his
military counterpart, Gen. Ratko Mladic, Nasa Borba reported. -- Patrick
Moore
^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^

CENTRAL AND EASTERN EUROPE

UKRAINE RECEIVES 27 BLACK SEA FLEET VESSELS. Russia turned over 27
warships of different classes to Ukraine at a ceremony in Crimea on 27
March, Western and Ukrainian media reported. The ceremony was the first
stage of an expected transfer of 150 ships to Kyiv in compliance with
Russian-Ukrainian agreements to split the Soviet era Black Sea Fleet.
Ukrainian Prime Minister Yevhen Marchuk and Russian Premier Viktor
Chernomyrdin met in Moscow on 26 March to hammer out remaining
differences over dividing up the fleet. Russian agencies reported that
they reached agreements on the status of the Russian fleet in the Black
Sea and on the naval base of the Russian Black Sea Fleet. A treaty on
leasing the fleet's Crimean infrastructure by Russia and the terms of
payment remains unresolved. Both sides have been trying to finalize
agreements before Russian President Boris Yeltsin's scheduled visit to
Kyiv on 4-5 April to sign a long-awaited friendship treaty with Ukraine.
-- Chrystyna Lapychak

LEFTIST LAWMAKERS SUBMIT ALTERNATIVE DRAFT OF NEW UKRAINIAN
CONSTITUTION. A group of 125 leftist deputies have submitted to the
parliament an alternative draft of the new Ukrainian constitution,
Ukrainian agencies reported on 25 March. The document, which is called
the Basic Law of the Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic, provides for
the restoration of the former Soviet-era regime but stops short of
calling for union with other former republics. It declares Ukraine a
"socialist state," eliminates the Presidency, and grants all powers to a
supreme soviet or council. The draft also calls for Ukrainian and
Russian as state languages and the return of communist-era emblems. The
legislators are calling for a national referendum on the main provisions
of their draft constitution. Nationalist groups, including the Congress
of Ukrainian Nationalists, called the move a provocation aimed at
destroying the constitutional process. -- Chrystyna Lapychak

BELARUSIAN PARLIAMENT DISCUSSES UNION TREATY. President Alyaksandr
Lukashenka on 27 March told the parliament that he will sign a union
treaty with Russia in Moscow on 2 April, Western agencies reported. He
distanced himself from earlier comments suggesting the treaty will
create "a unified state" by saying "We are creating a union of two
states" that will be similar to the EU." Lukashenka described the
organizers of the anti-treaty demonstration in Minsk on 24 March as
"enemies of the people." The organizers, including Belarusian People's
Front Chairman Zyanon Paznyak, have gone into hiding to avoid arrest.
But the parliament seemed unimpressed by his speech, since it failed to
pass two resolutions on the treaty. -- Saulius Girnius

ESTONIA, RUSSIA SIGN AGREEMENT ON MEDICAL INSURANCE FOR RETIRED
MILITARY. Representatives of the Estonian Social Insurance Department
and the Russian Defense Ministry on 27 March signed a medical insurance
agreement for retired Russian military, ETA reported. Russia agreed to
transfer more than 1 million kroons ($90,000) every month to a special
bank account to pay the medical expenses of the 6,500 people covered by
the agreement. Talks on the matter began in fall 1994. Meanwhile,
Russian and Estonian delegations in Tallinn have begun another round of
talks on determining the border between the two countries. -- Saulius
Girnius

LITHUANIAN POLITICAL PARTY PROPOSES REFERENDUM ON PROHIBITING SALE OF
LAND TO FOREIGNERS. The Lithuanian National Progress Party (LTPP) on 27
March proposed to the Supreme Electoral Commission that a referendum be
held on prohibiting the sale of land to foreigners, Radio Lithuania
reported. The parliament last week approved an amendment to the
constitution allowing foreigners to purchase non-agricultural land. If
the parliament passes the amendment again after a three-month interval,
it will go into effect immediately. The prohibition of sale of land to
foreigners would prevent Lithuania from becoming a member of the EU. --
Saulius Girnius

POLISH PARLIAMENT TO DISCUSS DRAFT PENAL CODE. The Polish government on
27 March submitted to the Sejm the draft penal code, which provides for
more lenient treatment of prisoners than under current legislation.
Capital punishment, which was recently suspended in Poland, is replaced
by life imprisonment. Anyone receiving a life sentence can apply to be
released after 25 years. Justice Minister Leszek Kubicki told the Sejm
that while citizens want a tough law, public sentiment cannot define
legislation that should be oriented toward the future, Polish dailies
reported on 28 March. -- Jakub Karpinski

POLISH PREMIER, PRIMATE MEET. Wlodzimierz Cimoszewicz on 27 March met
with Cardinal Jozef Glemp, Polish dailies reported. Cimoszewicz said
they discussed "friendly world-view pluralism," while the primate noted
that the meeting proved that the Church and the state were looking for
new ways to collaborate. After a meeting of the Joint Commission of the
Government and the Episcopate the same day, Archbishop Jerzy Stroba said
the Polish Foreign Ministry has asked the Vatican for clarification of
unclear points in the Concordat, which has still not been ratified.
Meanwhile, a group of left-wing deputies have proposed that an
extraordinary Sejm commission be formed to investigate the restitution
of Roman Catholic Church property; 175 deputies, mostly from the ruling
Alliance of Democratic Left, were in favor of the proposal and 136
against. -- Jakub Karpinski

BRITISH QUEEN IN PRAGUE. Queen Elizabeth II on 27 March arrived in the
Czech Republic from Poland for a three-day state visit, the first ever
by a reigning British monarch. At a state banquet in Prague Castle, she
supported Czech attempts to "regain a rightful place in the community of
free nations," Czech media reported. "We strongly support the
enlargement of the EU and NATO. We welcome your ambitions to become a
member of these institutions," the Queen added. On 28 March, she is due
to visit Brno. -- Steve Kettle

REACTIONS TO SLOVAKIA'S LAW ON PROTECTION OF REPUBLIC. President Michal
Kovac on 27 March said if he finds that the law on the protection of the
republic violates basic human rights and the constitution, he will have
no choice but to veto it, TASR reported. He added that neither the
government nor the president permanently represents "the national state
interest," emphasizing that neither is beyond criticism. Kovac said he
does not feel that Slovak statehood is currently endangered. What
Slovakia really needs, he said, is laws on the protection of the citizen
and personal freedoms, since these would strengthen democracy. Also on
27 March, Justice Minister Jozef Liscak said the "protective provisions
[of the new law] have long been required." He stressed that the law
"will never harm anyone who has not acted with the intent of subverting
the republic." -- Sharon Fisher

SLOVAK PARLIAMENT RE-APPROVES ANTI-COMMUNIST LAW. The parliament on 27
March passed a slightly amended law on the immorality and illegitimacy
of the communist regime, Narodna obroda reported. The law, first
approved in early February, was vetoed by President Michal Kovac at the
cabinet's request. Opposition deputies criticized the coalition's
"contradictory" behavior in passing a law that condemns the previous
totalitarian regime only one day after approving the law on the
protection of the republic. The parliament also approved laws on highway
and housing construction. -- Sharon Fisher

HUNGARY WELCOMES SLOVAK RATIFICATION OF TREATY BUT NOT "INTERPRETATION
CLAUSES." Budapest has welcomed Slovakia's ratification of the bilateral
treaty but believes that the "interpretation clauses" rejecting
collective rights for minorities have no legal force, Hungarian dailies
reported Foreign Minister Laszlo Kovacs as saying on 27 March. He said
those clauses contravene the Council of Europe Recommendation 1201.
Kovacs added that they also reveal a one-sided interpretation of the
treaty that should have no consequences for Hungary. Both he and Prime
Minister Gyula Horn stressed that Hungary will only exchange
ratification documents--thereby allowing the treaty to go into force--if
the clauses are not included. Meanwhile, Hungary's opposition parties
voiced concern about the treaty, with some suggesting that it should be
renegotiated. -- Zsofia Szilagyi

UNHCR HELPS FIRST GROUP OF BOSNIAN REFUGEES RETURN HOME. Two busses and
a truck carrying 54 Bosnian Muslims and their belongings left the
Nagyatad refugee camp, in southern Hungary, as the UNHCR began helping
Bosnian refugees from outside former Yugoslavia return home, Hungarian
and international media reported on 27 March. Since January, some 300
refugees have left Hungary on their own. The International Organization
for Migration, the Hungarian authorities, and the UNHCR are all taking
part in helping the refugees. The UNHCR provides $50 each to adults, $25
to children, and cold food for two days. -- Zsofia Szilagyi

SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE

CROATIAN-MUSLIM MEETING SCRAPPED. The German government on 27 March
cancelled a planned session near Bonn to mark the second anniversary of
the Bosnian federation and to discuss practical questions about putting
federal structures in place. German officials said the feuding allies
had to learn that the international community cannot "hand them peace on
a plate," AFP reported. The meeting was scrapped because the two sides
failed to make any substantial progress on a host of issues dividing
them. But Muslim, Croatian, and Serbian lawyers meeting in Sarajevo did
set up a Human Rights Commission, Oslobodjenje said on 28 March. The UN
police force, meanwhile, protested to federal authorities about an
alleged total lack of cooperation with it on the part of federal police,
Dnevni avaz reported. -- Patrick Moore

SACIRBEY WARNS ABOUT FUTURE OF FEDERATION. Muhamed Sacirbey has resumed
his old job as Bosnia's ambassador to the UN, saying that peace "will
fail if the war crimes tribunal is not supported and does not bring
about at least a minimum level of justice," AFP reported on 27 March. He
singled out the need to protect mass grave sites and to arrest indicted
war criminals like Karadzic and Mladic. Sacirbey also warned that the
federation is threatened by powerful interests in the "Croatian para-
state of Herceg-Bosna." He alleged that such individuals would like to
torpedo the federation, not for the sake of a greater Croatia but for
their own "criminal" economic gain. This includes such pursuits as
exacting customs and transit duties, the BBC reported on 28 March. --
Patrick Moore

SERBIA'S SUPREME COURT FREES MUSLIM PRISONERS. A group of 24 Muslims
convicted of plotting the overthrow of the government and insurrection
against the rump Yugoslav authorities were freed in Novi Pazar on 27
March. All of the accused were members of the Party for Democratic
Action (SDA) of Sandzak. They were convicted in 1994 and sentenced to
six years in prison, but the terms of 18 were reduced following appeals.
The SDA members were freed after a ruling by the Serbian Supreme Court
Council, Radio Bosnia-Herzegovina reported on 26 March. -- Stan
Markotich

WHO OWNS MONTENEGRO'S AIRPORTS? A row over who owns the airports in
Podgorica and Tivat has entered the public domain. On 26 March, Zoran
Djurisic, managing director of the republic's airlines, told Pobjeda
that the airport facilities "are Montenegro's." SRNA reports that
Djurisic's remark is in response to a statement by the director of rump
Yugoslavia's airline that "[we] will soon be ready to discuss use of the
airports with the Montenegrins." But Djurisic added that "[someone] is
going to have to learn who the guest is and who the host is." -- Stan
Markotich

CROATIAN FARMERS, FISHERMEN STAGE BIG PROTEST. The Croatian Peasant
Party (HSS) on 27 March organized a two-hour demonstration to protest
imports, smuggling, and comodity prices. Farmers blocked 25 border
crossings with tractors and demanded a halt to food imports until
Croatia can determine what it can produce for itself, news agencies
said. A HSS spokesman argued that imports and smuggling are threatening
to ruin Croatian agriculture, from which roughly a quarter of the
population earns its living. The farmers blame middlemen and others for
the high cost of food, which approaches Western European levels, despite
the fact that Croats have much lower incomes. Fishermen on the Adriatic
also backed the protest. Meanwhile, Croatia has joined the list of
countries banning British beef, Reuters reported. -- Patrick Moore

MACEDONIAN PRIVATE BANK RECEIVES $10 MILLION FROM EBRD. The Skopje-based
Komercijalna Banka has received a $10 million investment and loan
package from the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development,
RFE/RL reported on 27 March. The package includes a $2.6 million
investment in the bank and a convertible loan of more than $7 million.
The EBRD said the money is to be used to increase term lending
operations to private companies and to state firms undergoing
privatization. Komercijalna Banka is one of Macedonia's leading private
banks. EBRD President Jacques de Larosiere said he expects it to "play a
key role in advancing the transition process" in Macedonia. The EBRD
will be represented on Komercijalna Banka's board. -- Stefan Krause

ROMANIA TO APPLY FOR FULL NATO MEMBERSHIP THIS WEEK. The Romanian
Foreign Ministry on 27 March announced that Romania will formally apply
for full NATO membership later this week, Romanian media and Reuters
reported. Romania is expected to ask NATO headquarters in Brussels to
begin discussions on the country's admission. A document mapping out
Romania's "individual dialogue" with the alliance has already been
approved by the Supreme Council for the Country's Defense and will be
accompanied by a letter to NATO Secretary-General Javier Solana.
Jurnalul national on 28 March quoted President Ion Iliescu as saying
that drawing up a list of favorite candidates for NATO integration could
only "arouse suspicions." Romania was the first former communist country
to sign up for NATO's Partnership for Peace program. -- Dan Ionescu

BULGARIAN ROUNDUP. President Zhelyu Zhelev on 27 March concluded a
three-day visit to Belgium, Bulgarian dailies reported. Zhelev met with
NATO Secretary-General Javier Solana, EU Commission President Jacques
Santer, EU External Affairs Commissioner Hans van den Broek, and WEU
Secretary-General Jose Cutileiro to discuss Bulgaria's integration into
Western structures. Zhelev said he was surprised by the interest shown
in Bulgaria. But RFE/RL's Brussels correspondent noted that Zhelev was
clearly disappointed by the outcome of the talks. Bulgaria's chances of
joining NATO or the EU in the near future are considered poor, partly
because of the slow pace of reform and partly because of the Socialist
government's position. In other news, Zhelev approved the government's
decision to recall Ambassador to Switzerland Elena Kircheva, following
her marriage to Petar Hadzhidimitrov, a Bulgarian emigre known for his
anti-Semitic and extreme right-wing views. -- Stefan Krause

GERMAN DEFENSE MINISTER IN ALBANIA. Volker Ruhe on 27 March wrapped up a
two-day visit to Albania, Western agencies reported. He and his Albanian
counterpart, Safet Zhulali, agreed to implement 25 military cooperation
projects this year, including training Albanian officers in Germany, a
joint military exercise, and German assistance in introducing modern
command structures into Albania's army. The projects are part of a 1995
bilateral cooperation agreement under which Germany has already supplied
Albania with military equipment and helped upgrade the Skanderbeg
Military Academy. Ruhe said Germany will continue to back Albania's
efforts to join NATO. In other news, Albania on 27 March closed its
borders to beef imports from the EU and other European countries out of
fear of the "mad cow" disease. -- Fabian Schmidt and Stefan Krause

[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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