Be willing to have it so; acceptance of what has happened is the first step to overcoming the consequences of any misfortune. - William James
OMRI DAILY DIGEST

No. 70, Part II, 9 April 1996


^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^TODAY'S TOP STORY^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^
BELGRADE, SKOPJE ESTABLISH DIPLOMATIC TIES. Rump Yugoslav Foreign
Minister Milan Milutinovic and his Macedonian counterpart, Ljubomir
Frckovski, met in Belgrade on 8 April to sign an accord establishing
bilateral diplomatic relations. Frckovski hailed the agreement as
opening "a new chapter" in relations with Belgrade. Milutinovic said
that the accord represents progress in "strengthening" the regional
peace process. Under the accord, both parties are to respect the
"principles of equality, non-interference in internal
affairs,...sovereignty, independence, and territorial integrity." Nasa
Borba, however, noted that the use of the term "Republic of Macedonia"
in the agreement is likely to stir controversy. -- Stan Markotich
^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^

CENTRAL AND EASTERN EUROPE

MORE DEPUTIES ELECTED IN UKRAINE. Six more deputies have been elected to
the Ukrainian parliament in a fifth round of elections, Reuters reported
on 8 April. This brings the total number of deputies in the 450-seat
legislature to 425. Ukraine's voting system demands a minimum 50% voter
turnout and that the successful candidate garner at least 50% of the
vote. As a result, a number of constituencies are without elected
deputies. Meanwhile, Ukrainian Radio on 6 April reported that
parliamentary speaker Oleksandr Moroz was hospitalized following a heart
attack. -- Ustina Markus

UKRAINE, VIETNAM SIGN AGREEMENT. President Leonid Kravchuk and his
Vietnamese counterpart, Le Duc Anh, meeting in Hanoi on 8 April, signed
an agreement on cooperation, international agencies reported. Accords on
consular protection, avoidance of double taxation, and scientific
cooperation were also signed. Kuchma is on the first leg of a week-long
tour of Indonesia and Vietnam intended to boost bilateral trade. Trade
between Ukraine and Vietnam stood at a mere $15 million last year.
Meanwhile, the issue of Vietnam's debts to former Soviet republics
remains unresolved. -- Ustina Markus

UN DOWNGRADES UKRAINE. The U.N. has agreed to downgrade Ukraine's status
from the "B" group of states to the "C" group, Reuters reported on 5
April. Kyiv asked for the downgrading during President Leonid Kravchuk's
administration since the move means a reduction in Ukraine's fees to the
UN. Ukraine owes the UN $243 million in unpaid dues. Volodymyr
Yelchenko, head of the Foreign Ministry's UN department, said the
decision to downgrade Ukraine's status meant one of Ukraine's main
foreign-policy objectives had been achieved. -- Ustina Markus

BELARUS TO SELL TANKS TO HUNGARY. An agreement was signed in Minsk on 4
April providing for the sale of 100 Belarusian T-72 tanks to Hungary,
AFP reported the following day. The tanks would have had to be destroyed
by Belarus under the terms of the CFE treaty. Ironically, they will be
used instead to replace Hungarian T-55 tanks, which were dismantled
under the same treaty. The value of the deal was not made public at
Belarus's request. -- Ustina Markus

RUSSIA WANTS COMPENSATION FROM ESTONIA FOR MISSING RUBLES. The Russian
government has requested that Estonia offer compensation for rubles it
failed to return to Russia some four years ago, Reuters reported on 8
April. In summer 1992, Estonia introduced its own currency, the kroon,
but failed to give back to Russia the 2.6 billion rubles still in
circulation, which were worth some $170 million at the June 1992
exchange rate. It has been alleged that most of the rubles were sold to
the Chechen Republic via intermediaries. Estonian authorities have
already started criminal proceedings over the sale of the rubles. --
Natalia Gurushina

UPDATE: LATVIAN-ESTONIAN BORDER TALKS. Talks on the Latvian-Estonian sea
border have made no progress, BNS reported on 6 April. Latvia has
demarcated a line on the map, saying it will use naval forces to
guarantee the safety of its fishing vessels in that zone if necessary.
Latvian Foreign Minister Valdis Birkavs on 8 April commented that the
dispute has been exaggerated and would not lead to war between the two
countries. He added that the chances of finding a solution are good but
will take time. The Latvian and Estonian prime ministers are to discuss
the issue again during a Baltic Assembly meeting this week. -- Ustina
Markus

INCENDIARY DEVICES HURLED AT POLISH EMBASSY IN ROME. Two incendiary
devices were hurled at the Polish embassy in Rome on 8 April, Polish and
international media reported. The attack has been linked to a
demonstration outside the Auschwitz concentration camp on 6 April that
was organized by the Polish National Community, a fringe political group
campaigning under the slogan "Poland for the Poles." The demonstrators
rallied in support of plans to build a shopping mall near the camp,
where the Nazis exterminated some 1.5 million people, mostly Jews.
Diplomats in Rome believe that Italian Jews were behind the attack in
protest against the Auschwitz demonstrations. -- Dagmar Mroziewicz

CZECH-GERMAN DECLARATION WILL NOT BE READY BEFORE ELECTIONS. A Czech-
German declaration to be adopted by the two countries' parliaments will
not be ready before the 31 May-1 June Czech parliamentary elections,
Prime Minister Vaclav Klaus told Czech TV on 8 April. The document is
intended to help Czechs and Germans put the traumas of their recent
common past behind them. Czech media reported last week that in the
declaration, the Czech Republic will apologize to Germany for some
aspects of the expulsion of Sudeten Germans from Czechoslovakia after
World War II. In exchange, Germany is to express willingness to abandon
Sudeten Germans' property claims related to the expulsion. According to
a survey by the Factum agency and published in Mlada fronta Dnes on 9
April, only 7% of Czechs want their government to apologize for the
post-war expulsions, saying they would vote for political parties that
favor making an apology. Some 86% of the respondents said they would not
vote for such a party. -- Jiri Pehe

SLOVAK TRADE UPDATE. Slovak imports reached 51.191 billion crowns in the
first two months of 1996, up 37% on the same period last year, TASR
reported on 4 April. The largest volume of imports came from the Czech
Republic (24.8%), followed by Russia (19.9%), and Germany (13.3%).
Imports from EU countries, which accounted for 30% of Slovak imports,
increased by 30.5%. Exports grew by only 6.3% compared with the first
two months of 1995, reaching 39.713 billion crowns. The Czech Republic
(32.6%) and Germany (20.2%) were Slovakia's biggest export markets. The
opposition Democratic Union on 4 April pointed out that although 19,000
Slovak firms are involved in exports, only 60 of them are of decisive
importance. -- Sharon Fisher

EUROPEAN COMMISSION PRESIDENT IN HUNGARY. Jacques Santer on 5 April said
that it is more likely that East European states will be admitted to the
EU one by one rather than in groups, as has been the practice, Hungarian
media reported. Santer, who was in Budapest for two-day talks on the
eastward expansion of the EU, commented that negotiations with the East
European associate countries could begin in early 1998. Prime Minister
Gyula Horn said Hungary expects the EU to make a selective approach on
the basis of candidates' individual performance. The European Commission
is soon to hand over a 100-page questionnaire to EU associates to assess
their preparations for membership. Santer urged Hungary to annul the 8%
customs surcharge on EU exports to Hungary by the end of June 1997 and
to decrease its subsidies for agricultural exports. -- Zsofia Szilagyi

SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE

REACTIONS TO RUMP YUGOSLAV-MACEDONIAN RECOGNITION. Greece on 8 April
voiced its dissatisfaction with the mutual recognition agreement between
rump Yugoslavia and Macedonia, AFP reported. Foreign Ministry spokesman
Konstantinos Bikas said recognition of Macedonia under that name "does
not help stability in the region and cannot be considered a friendly act
towards Greece." Bulgaria welcomed the agreement, saying it will
"contribute to stabilizing the climate in the Balkans." Meanwhile, Vuk
Draskovic, leader of the opposition Serbian Renewal Movement, said the
agreement means "that Macedonia will now be Serbia's bridge to Greece
and Serbia will be Macedonia's bridge to Europe." Milorad Jovanovic,
representative of the Democratic Party of Serbia, was more cautious,
saying the establishment of diplomatic relations was "a little hasty"
because talks over the official name of Macedonia have not yet been
concluded. -- Stefan Krause and Stan Markotich

BOSNIAN SERBS PRESENT EVIDENCE OF WAR CRIMES. Serbian pathologists have
spent some days examining the bodies of at least 181 people from a mass
grave near Mrkonjic Grad in western Bosnia. The area was held by Bosnian
Serb forces for most of the war but fell to Croatian units last fall.
Doctors say that 102 out of the 181 show evidence of having been beaten
to death, Nasa Borba reported on 9 April. -- Patrick Moore

BOSNIAN BRIEFS. President Alija Izetbegovic warned that moves by former
Prime Minister Haris Silajdzic to found his own centrist party could
split the Muslim vote. He added that his own political future would
depend on his health, Oslobodjenje reported on 7 April. The daily two
days later discussed concern over the rapid loss of value of the Bosnian
dinar. A rise in the legal limits on personal income and recent large
payments to workers in state enterprises led to the fall in confidence
in the currency, Vjesnik wrote. On 5 April, government forces freed 18
POWs, while the Croats released 28, the Onasa news agency reported.
Controversy continues over whether the Serbs will be allowed to attend
the upcoming conference on reconstruction aid if they do not free all
their remaining prisoners. -- Patrick Moore

CROATIA ARRESTS FOUR BOSNIANS ON TERRORISM CHARGES. The Interior
Ministry on 4 April arrested four armed Bosnians in the Adriatic town of
Senj on suspicion that they intended to carry out terrorist activities
in Croatia, Vjesnik said on 8 April. The four reportedly had documents
from the Bosnian Interior Ministry in Bihac, and it thought they may
have been sent to assassinate former Bihac kingpin Fikret Abdic. The
renegade Muslim leader has been living quietly in Croatia since last
fall, after Croatian and Bosnian government forces put an end to his
self-declared mini-state, which had become a client of the Krajina
Serbs. Abdic is currently based in Rijeka, north of Senj. -- Patrick
Moore

MORE MOVES AGAINST PRESS FREEDOM IN CROATIA. Tax authorities have
presented the country's only independent daily, Rijeka's Novi list, with
a bill for DM 4 million. Customs authorities assessed the Italian
minority's periodical Unija as owing similar amounts, Nasa Borba
reported on 7 April. Opposition groups charged that the move is an
attempt to crush what little press freedom there is in Croatia, Novi
list wrote on 9 April. The tax and customs bills recall the earlier
attempt to drive the independent weekly Feral Tribune out of business
with a pornography tax. The latest measures come on the heels of two new
major restrictive pieces of legislation and the impending closure of the
independent Zagreb radio station "101." -- Patrick Moore

SERBIAN CRACKDOWN ON ALBANIAN-LANGUAGE MEDIA IN KOSOVO. Serbian police
in Kosovo have closed down the printing house of the Albanian-language
weekly Koha, local media reported. The authorities had insisted that
last week's issue be censored by the prosecutor-general's office before
being printed but the weekly had refused to comply. That office has
since initiated legal proceedings against Koha. The prosecutor-general
reportedly took exception to photograph montages of Serbian President
Slobodan Milosevic standing next to men in Nazi uniforms under the title
"Anschluss 1989." The montages appeared in an issue commemorating the
abolition of Kosovo's autonomous status. Koha Editor in Chief Veton
Surroi said he stands "firmly behind the main messages" of the satirical
montage. He added that the prosecutor-general's action indicates that
the weekly was right and that his office is trying conceal what
happened. -- Fabian Schmidt

ROMANIAN ELECTION UPDATE. Nicolae Manolescu, leader of the Party of
Civic Alliance, said the Liberal Party '93 may soon join the pact
concluded by his party and the Social Democratic Union for the local
elections in May, Radio Bucharest reported on 7 April. The pact, which
was announced on 4 April, provides for the signatories to jointly
monitor election procedures and to support one another in the second
round. Meanwhile, a new party calling itself Romania's Alternative held
its first congress in Bucharest on 5 April. Also on 5 April, the
Romanian Ecological Movement merged with the Ecological Convention, the
National Agrarian Party and several non-government organizations to form
a party called The Ecologists. -- Michael Shafir

MOLDOVAN PREMIER REFUSES TO  NOMINATE DEFENSE MINISTER. Prime Minister
Andrei Sangheli has refused to nominate a new defense minister, accusing
President Mircea Snegur of ignoring a Constitutional Court ruling (see
OMRI Daily Digest, 5 April 1996). Sangheli wants Pavel Creanga to remain
in his post, but Snegur, in a letter to Sangheli dated 6 April, said
investigations have "unequivocally" established that there is corruption
within the Defense Ministry and that Creanga has failed to take
appropriate measures, BASA-press reported on 6 and 8 April. Snegur also
pointed to a statement by 100 army officers on 5 April saying Creanga
cannot remain Defense Minister and that the court's ruling has only
"aggravated" the situation. The officers say that until the problem is
resolved, they will obey only orders from Snegur in his capacity as
commander in chief of the military. Creanga says he intends to resume
office. -- Michael Shafir

MOLDOVAN PRESIDENT MEETS WITH TRANSDNIESTER LEADER. Snegur on 8 April
met with the leader of the breakaway Transdniester region, Igor Smirnov,
in Tiraspol to discuss political and socio-economic issues, Moldovan
media reported. Snegur asked Smirnov to pardon the so-called Ilascu-
group, whose leader, Ilie Ilascu, was sentenced to death in 1992 for
alleged terrorist activities. His sentence was later commuted to life
imprisonment. Meanwhile, Romanian Justice Minister Iosif Gavril
Chiuzbaian has urged France to intervene to secure the release of
Ilascu, whom Bucharest is proposing for the Nobel Peace Prize, AFP
reported on 8 April. -- Michael Shafir

BULGARIAN GOVERNMENT DENIES LACK OF SUPPORT FOR ROVER. Minister for
Economic Development Rumen Gechev on 8 April rejected as "absolutely
groundless" charges by the Rover Group that the closure of the company's
assembly plant in Varna was dictated by bureaucratic obstacles and lack
of government support, Demokratsiya reported. Rover on 4 April had
announced its decision to stop assembling cars in Bulgaria after only
seven months (see OMRI Daily Digest, 5 April 1996). Gechev said the main
reasons for Rover's failure were uncompetitive products, a wrong
marketing strategy, and lack of funding from the Bank for Agricultural
Credit, which owns Rover's partner, Daru Group. He said the government
will help Rover to find a new partner in the form of a "stable state-
owned firm." Meanwhile, Standart reported that rump Yugoslav car maker
Zastava has proposed assembling cars in Bulgaria. -- Stefan Krause

BULGARIAN POLITICAL ROUNDUP. Hristo Miladinov, Bulgarian ambassador in
Moscow, has handed a note to the Russian Foreign Ministry protesting
Russian President Boris Yeltsin's remark that Bulgaria may join the
integration agreement recently signed by Russia, Belarus, Kazakhstan,
and Kyrgyzstan, 24 chasa reported. Miladinov noted that relations with
Russia nonetheless remain a top foreign-policy priority for Bulgaria.
Bulgarian President Zhelyu Zhelev has insisted that the government
officially reject Yeltsin's proposal. Meanwhile, Standart reported that
Zhelev and Petar Stoyanov have vowed to conduct a fair campaign for
primary elections scheduled for 1 June, which are aimed at finding a
presidential candidate for the united opposition. Zhelev and Stoyanov
are the only candidates in the primaries. -- Stefan Krause

ALBANIAN DEMOCRATS ELECT NEW PARTY LEADER. More than one year after
party leader Eduard Selami was fired, the Albanian Democrats have
elected Tritan Shehu as his successor, Albanian media reported. Shehu
has been acting party leader since Selami's dispute with President Sali
Berisha in March 1995, which led to his dismissal. Selami offended
Berisha by supporting the opposition view that the constitution should
be adopted by the parliament. He also demanded that the position of
party leader and prime minister be combined. Meanwhile, Berisha has
pledged that the Democrats will promote "both pre- and post-election
cooperation" among right-wing parties, Reuters reported. The Democrats'
most likely coalition partner is the Republican Party, led by historian
Sabri Godot. Godot has said that the two parties have the common aim of
"fighting communism." -- Fabian Schmidt

[As of 12:00 CET]

Compiled by Jan Cleave
 
         

[English] [Russian TRANS | KOI8 | ALT | WIN | MAC | ISO5]

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