We are always the same age inside. - Gertrude Stein
OMRI DAILY DIGEST

No. 69, Part II, 5 April 1996


New OMRI Analytical Briefs:
- "Shevardnadze's Ankara Visit Highlights Pipeline Problems," by Lowell
  Bezanis and Liz Fuller

Available on 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^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^
BELARUSIAN PRESIDENT THREATENS TO EXPEL DIPLOMATS. Alyaksandr Lukashenka
threatened on 4 April to expel diplomats who attended mass rallies
denouncing his pro-Russian policies, international media reported. Some
20,000 people demonstrated in Minsk on 2 April against the recently
signed union treaty with Russia. Lukashenka also vowed to withdraw
accreditations from journalists who covered the events. He said he had
started "active talks" with Russian TV channels whose journalists
covered the rally. "These journalists will not be working here for many
more days," he said. Lukashenka added that Belarus has asked a number of
countries to recall diplomats from Minsk for organizing the
demonstrations. He did not name those countries but noted that, in his
view, those diplomats had "violated the laws of our country." -- Jiri
Pehe
^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^

CENTRAL AND EASTERN EUROPE

UKRAINE APPROVES CRIMEAN CONSTITUTION BUT REJECTS "SEPARATIST" ARTICLES.
The Ukrainian parliament on 4 April approved the new Crimean
constitution but rejected 20 articles it considers "separatist," UNIAN
reported. Those articles provide for "internal Crimean citizenship" and
symbols of sovereignty such as a Crimean flag, emblem, and anthem. The
constitution gives Crimea an autonomous status but states that it is an
"integral part of Ukraine." It was adopted in November by the Crimean
parliament but had also to be approved by the Ukrainian legislature.
Crimean deputies must now reconsider and resubmit the articles to Kiev
for approval. Crimea, whose population is two-thirds ethnic Russian, has
repeatedly threatened to break away and join Russia since Ukraine became
independent in December 1991 -- Jiri Pehe

LITHUANIAN PARLIAMENT AMENDS MEDIA BILL. The Lithuanian parliament on 4
April voted to allow information about the private lives of politicians
to be made public, BNS reported. Article 8 was changed to read that such
information can be published if it has a bearing on public life. The
vote took place during debates on the media bill that started two months
ago. Deputies had initially attempted to prevent the publication of
details about their and other officials' private lives. Journalist
criticized this stand, accusing them of trying to limit freedom of
expression for the sake of protecting their own reputation. The amended
article won support from all parties in the parliament. -- Dan Ionescu

ASIAN MIGRANTS END HUNGER STRIKE IN LITHUANIA. The Foreign Ministry on 4
April announced that a group of Asian asylum-seekers who began a hunger
strike three days ago have ended their protest, Reuters reported. The 44
refugees, who arrived in Lithuania via Belarus, launched their protest
at a camp at Visaginas to back claims for refugee status. They had
threatened to commit mass suicide if their applications were not
accepted. According to U.N. officials, there are some 500 refugees
stranded in Lithuania and hoping to reach the affluent Scandinavian
states. -- Dan Ionescu

RUSSIAN DEPUTY PREMIER IN POLAND. Russian Deputy Prime Minister Oleg
Davydov, on an official visit to Warsaw from 1-4 April, met with Prime
Minister Wlodzimierz Cimoszewicz and Foreign Trade Minister Jacek
Buchacz to discuss developing bilateral trade, Polish and international
media reported. Buchacz said Poland was interested in buying fighter
airplanes from Russia, while Davydov said that Polish and Russian banks
will help exporters in each country. The two sides also discussed
waiving visas for Poles and Russians wishing to visit each other's
country. Other possible areas of cooperation are the construction of a
Paris-Moscow highway and a gas pipeline from the Yamal peninsula to
Germany. Russia is Poland's third-largest trading partner, after Germany
and Italy. -- Jakub Karpinski

PREPARATIONS FOR KWASNIEWSKI'S VISIT TO MOSCOW. Polish President
Aleksander Kwasniewski on 4 April met with opposition party leaders to
seek advice on his visit to Russia from 8-11 April. Bronislaw Gieremek,
head of the Sejm International Affairs Committee, said he should present
Poland's position on NATO enlargement very clearly. Before going to
Moscow, Kwasniewski will visit Katyn, site of the 1940 massacre of
Polish officers. -- Jakub Karpinski

EU COMMISSION CHIEF IN PRAGUE. Jacques Santer on 4 April said
negotiations with the Czech Republic and other candidates for EU
membership could begin in early 1998, Czech media reported. At a seminar
in Prague, Santer warned Czech politicians who have criticized aspects
of the EU's functioning not to be skeptical and said that joining the EU
must be based on enthusiasm for membership. He said the process of
harmonizing laws with EU norms will be "long and sometimes difficult,"
but it must be carried out without interruptions. After meetings with
President Vaclav Havel and Prime Minister Vaclav Klaus, Santer praised
the Czech Republic's reforms, stressing that they have taken place
without causing political or social instability. -- Steve Kettle

SLOVAK OFFICIALS DEFEND LAW ON PROTECTION OF REPUBLIC. Foreign Minister
Juraj Schenk on 4 April criticized the EU for knocking the law on the
protection of the republic "before it came into force." Following a
meeting with three EU envoys, Schenk told TASR that he regrets that the
EU expressed an opinion without first giving Slovakia the chance to make
its views known, thus violating the EU association agreement. Meanwhile,
Deputy Premier Jozef Kalman said pressure from EU leaders "must be
considered [to represent] their point of view." New U.S. Ambassador to
Slovakia Ralph Johnson, sworn in on 4 April, promised that the U.S. will
closely follow developments in Slovakia and point out any deviations
from the path toward integration with Western structures. -- Sharon
Fisher

SLOVAK TV CONTINUES CASE AGAINST PRESIDENT'S SON. Slovak TV (STV) on 4
April featured an interview with Ladislav Matt, a witness in the
Technopol fraud, in which Michal Kovac Jr. is implicated. Matt, a former
Technopol manager, said the director-general allowed him to conclude
contracts that cost the firm $2.3 million. In connection with those
contracts, he named Marian K., against whom Technopol filed a lawsuit
one year ago, Michal Kovac Jr., and President Michal Kovac. Matt is the
latest in a series of witnesses who have appeared on STV claiming that
the kidnapping was a fake and giving details of Kovac Jr.'s alleged
involvement in the Technopol fraud. -- Sharon Fisher

HUNGARY REJECTS SLOVAK INTERPRETATION OF BASIC TREATY. The Hungarian
government on 4 April told Slovakia that the exchange of ratification
documents on the bilateral treaty will not take place if Slovakia
attaches its so-called "interpretation" clauses, MTI reported. State
Secretary at the Foreign Ministry Istvan Szent-Ivanyi said Hungary has
already informed the Slovak government of its decision. Szent-Ivanyi
warned that attaching interpretation clauses is "virtually unprecedented
in international law." The Slovak parliament approved an addendum last
week that includes a unilateral interpretation of the Slovak-Hungarian
treaty. -- Zsofia Szilagyi

HUNGARY TO PRIVATIZE ROYAL GRAND HOTEL, AMUSEMENT PARK. Hungary is to
sell Budapest's century-old Royal Grand Hotel and amusement park,
Hungarian media reported on 5 April. The four-star Royal Hotel, once the
biggest hotel in the Austro-Hungarian empire, is up for sale at a
provisional price of $6.8 million. It has been closed since October 1991
pending renovation. Following two unsuccessful attempts to sell it, the
buyer is now obliged only to preserve its facade. The amusement park,
located in the City Park, is to be sold because the municipality lacks
funds to modernize it. -- Zsofia Szilagyi

SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE

IFOR SAYS NO MORE FIXED CHECKPOINTS IN BOSNIA. NATO peacekeepers have
said that all fixed control posts have been removed in northwestern
Bosnia around Banja Luka, Prijedor, and Bihac, and in central Bosnia
around Travnik. Mobile checkpoints are still allowed, provided they do
not stay in one place for more than 30 minutes, Onasa news agency
reported on 4 April. It is unclear what has happened to the control
posts around Mostar in Herzegovina. The Dayton treaty is quite specific
about the need for freedom of movement across Bosnia, but IFOR at first
said it would not do "police work," even though the international police
force was greatly understaffed and unable to do its job. IFOR recently
changed its position and has removed checkpoints. -- Patrick Moore

REACTIONS TO U.S. SECRETARY OF COMMERCE'S DEATH IN CROATIA. Bosnian
media responded to Ron Brown's death in a plane crash outside Dubrovnik,
Croatia, on 3 April by noting he was at the center of reconstruction
efforts and that it will not be easy to find someone to replace him. The
Croatian government ordered flags flown at half-mast and entertainment
shows canceled following the crash, in which 35 people are reported to
have died. The Bosnian and Croatian prime ministers said their
respective countries had lost a friend, local news agencies reported.
The crash in heavy rain may have been caused by the malfunction of a
rudder, which has happened before on Boeing 737s. Croatian officials
said that the crash could not be blamed on air safety standards in their
republic, Slobodna Dalmacija wrote on 5 April. The Serbian daily Nasa
Borba said that pilot error was the most likely cause and that gunfire
could be ruled out. -- Patrick Moore

KARADZIC TURNS DOWN OFFER OF ASYLUM IN MONASTERY. Bosnian Serb leader
Radovan Karadzic has declined an offer of refuge by the Serbian Orthodox
Shilandar monastery on Mt. Athos, which enjoys extraterritorial status.
The leadership of the church proposed that the internationally wanted
war criminal become a monk there, AFP on 5 April quoted the Montenegrin
weekly Monitor as saying. Karadzic, a licensed psychiatrist, said he
intends to set up a private mental hospital with his wife, who is a
doctor, and his daughter, who studies medicine. -- Patrick Moore

ANOTHER OPPOSITION LEADER FALLS FOUL OF SERBIAN PRESIDENT? Zoran
Djindjic, leader of the Democratic Party, appears to be the latest
target of Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic's crackdown on the
opposition. Tanjug on 3 April reported that the Belgrade District Public
Prosecutor's Office has requested that an investigation be launched into
Djindjic in connection with a short piece he placed in the daily
Telegraf accusing Serbian government ministers of abusing their official
position to buy wheat at very low prices and then sell it for a huge
profit. The prosecution claims that Djindjic committed a "criminal
offense against the reputation of the Republic of Serbia." -- Stefan
Krause and Stan Markotich

GERMAN FOREIGN MINISTER REPLIES TO SERBIAN OPPOSITION LEADER. Klaus
Kinkel, in a reply to a letter sent by Serbian Renewal Movement leader
Vuk Draskovic to several foreign ministers (see OMRI Daily Digest, 27
March 1996), said the democratization of rump Yugoslavia is a
precondition for its readmission into European structures, Nasa Borba
reported on 4 April. He said that it was particularly important that
democratic institutions be established and human and minority rights
respected. Klaus also noted that Germany and its EU partners see certain
developments in rump Yugoslavia as "incompatible with the obligations
your country undertook within the framework of the peace and
stabilization process." -- Stefan Krause

CROATIA WANTS NO REGIONAL GROUPINGS. Croatian Foreign Minister Mate
Granic told his visiting Albanian counterpart, Alfred Serreqi, that
Croatia wants good relations with all countries in the region, including
rump Yugoslavia. He stressed, however, that Zagreb does not want "any
[regional] association, nor will [it] join any kind of Balkan
conferences," Vecernjli list reported on 4 April. Croatia, like
Slovenia, has repeatedly pointed out since 1991 that it wants nothing to
do with any grouping that smacks in any way of being some kind of new
Yugoslavia. Granic added that Croatia's "basic strategic goal is to join
the Euro-Atlantic political and security associations." It also wants
"direct relations with the EU" rather than any regional grouping, which
Croatia regards as a half-way house. The two men discussed bilateral
relations, with Serreqi paying "special attention to the Kosovo
question." -- Patrick Moore

ROMANI ELECTION ALLIANCE FORMED IN ROMANIA. The Roma Party of Romania
announced last week that it and 11 other Romani organizations have
agreed to run on joint lists in the local elections, Radio Bucharest
reported on 2 April. The groups will compete as the Roma Alliance.
Gheorghe Raducanu, executive chairman of the Roma Party, said that any
other Romani parties who wish to join have until 9 April to do so. The
local elections are expected to take place in May. -- Alaina Lemon

MOLDOVAN COURT RULES AGAINST SNEGUR. Moldova's Constitutional Court has
ruled that President Mircea Snegur's dismissal of Defense Minister Pavel
Creanga last month was illegal, international agencies reported on 4
April. Under the constitution, cabinet members can be fired only by the
premier or through a vote in the parliament. Snegur's legal adviser said
after the court's ruling that Creanga was now "free to return to
office." Creanga said the decision was a "victory of the truth." Prime
Minister Andrei Sangheli commented that he thanked God that no bloodshed
was caused by Snegur's decision, although "we were only inches away from
it." -- Michael Shafir

ROVER CLOSES BULGARIAN PLANT. Rover Group on 4 April announced that it
will stop assembling automobiles at its Bulgarian plant, RFE/RL and
Reuters reported. Rover owns a 51% stake in Rodacar, Bulgaria's only car
maker. The other 49% is held by Daru Group, which has been experiencing
severe financial difficulties. The plant, located in Varna, was opened
less than seven months ago. Rover was the biggest foreign investor in
Bulgaria outside the food sector. A Rodacar spokesman said, "We were led
to believe that we could rely on government support in setting up our
plant here, but that support failed to materialize." -- Stefan Krause

BULGARIAN PRIVATIZATION DEADLINE EXTENDED. The Bulgarian parliament on 4
April voted to extend the deadline for selling privatization vouchers,
RFE/RL reported. The initial deadline was 8 April, but legislators
decided to extend it by one month because so far vouchers have been
bought by only 18.4% of those eligible to do so. Some 1,063 companies
are to privatized. Also on 4 April, Industry Minister Kliment Vuchev
returned from a three-day visit to Slovenia where he signed a protocol
on economic and trade cooperation. Other economic agreements with
Slovenia will be signed soon, Vuchev said. -- Stefan Krause

BULGARIAN FOREIGN MINISTER IN GREECE. Georgi Pirinski, on an official
visit to Athens, held talks with his Greek counterpart, Theodoros
Pangalos, on 4 April, RFE/RL reported. Pirinski also met with Prime
Minister Kostas Simitis, President Kostis Stephanopoulos, and Parliament
President Apostolos Kaklamanis. Pirinski and Pangalos discussed the
Burgas-Alexandroupolis oil pipeline, the proposed meeting of Balkan
foreign ministers in Sofia, and closer economic cooperation. Pirinski
said he believes Greece and Bulgaria are ready "to discuss [the
pipeline] constructively." Pangalos assured Pirinski that the Greek
parliament will ratify bilateral accords on the use of water from the
River Mesta/Nestos and on the opening of new border crossings, which the
Bulgarian parliament ratified last month. -- Stefan Krause

ALBANIAN PRESIDENT KICKS OFF ELECTION CAMPAIGN. Sali Berisha on 4 April
kicked off the parliamentary election campaign by addressing a congress
of his Democratic Party, Reuters reported. Berisha urged Albanians to
support the Democrats, which he called "the locomotive of the
development of democracy, a market economy, and the country's
integration in Europe." He said that if the Democrats win the elections,
they will cut taxes and privatize banks, mines, the oil sector,
hydroelectric power stations, and telecommunications within two years.
-- Stefan Krause

[As of 12:00 CET]

Compiled by Jan Cleave

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