Upon the education of the people of this country the fate of this country depends. - Benjamin Disraeli 1804-1881
OMRI DAILY DIGEST

No. 101, Part II, 24 May 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

CENTRAL AND EASTERN EUROPE

RESULTS OF MEETING BETWEEN UKRAINIAN PRESIDENT AND RUSSIAN PRIME
MINISTER. Leonid Kuchma and Viktor Chernomyrdin's 23 May meeting in Kyiv
netted no new agreements, international media reported. Disagreements
still plague the issue of whether Russia can base its share of the Black
Sea fleet in Sevastopil, and if Russia will pay Ukraine $450 million in
compensation for giving up its tactical nuclear weapons. However, the
leaders expressed their satisfaction at the meeting's progress, with
Chernomyrdin noting that the agreement was "99.9% complete," Reuters
reported. For his part, Kuchma called the meeting "very constructive,"
NTV reported. It was also decided that Russian President Boris Yeltsin
would visit Ukraine after the 16 June election, but no specific date was
set. -- Roger Kangas

IMF LOAN TO PAY BACK WAGES IN UKRAINE. The Ukrainian parliament decided
on 23 May to allocate part of the most recent tranche ($900 million) of
an IMF loan to pay wage arrears in the country, ITAR-TASS reported. The
current debt to workers stands at 177 trillion karbovantsi ($952,637
million). Although the loan was earmarked for economic reform measures,
the wage arrears crisis is viewed as an economic priority. It is hoped
that such action, as well as President Leonid Kuchma's 22 May meeting in
Donetsk with the estimated 1,000 wildcat coal mine strikers, will
resolve that crisis. -- Roger Kangas

ESTONIA'S NEW IMF MEMORANDUM. Basil Zavoico, the IMF representative in
Estonia, told BNS on 23 May the republic's new economic policy
memorandum pays great attention to the public sector debt that could
grow to as much as 4% of the country's GDP. The main problem is the lack
of fiscal policy coordination between the central and local governments.
He also said the IMF was very satisfied with Estonia's open trade
policies and efforts to join the World Trade Organization. He added that
the pressure by farmers to introduce high customs tariffs should be
resisted since similar tariffs in Latvia and Lithuania were ineffective.
The memorandum contains proposals on better support for the farm sector
with technical assistance from the EU's PHARE program. -- Saulius
Girnius

UKRAINE'S PARLIAMENT CHAIRMAN IN LATVIA. Oleksandr Moroz began a two-day
visit to Latvia on 22 May with a meeting with his Latvian counterpart,
Ilga Kreituse. He also held talks with Latvian Saeima deputies and
Finance Minister Aivars Kreituss. The next day he addressed the Saeima
and urged them to grant citizenship to the Ukrainians living in Latvia,
BNS reported. He also held talks with Prime Minister Andris Skele and
visited the Ukrainian high school in Riga. Moroz expressed reservations
about Latvia's desire to join NATO, noting that although he did not
object in principle it was necessary to know the tactical and strategic
goals of the NATO expansion. -- Saulius Girnius

RUSSIAN DEPUTY PREMIER VISITS LITHUANIA. Aleksei Bolshakov in Vilnius on
23 May held talks with Foreign Minister Povilas Gylys on the work of the
bilateral governmental commission for economic, scientific, and cultural
cooperation, BNS reported. Bolshakov also met with President Algirdas
Brazauskas and discussed extensively land border issues, while ignoring
the disputed oil deposit in the Baltic Sea shelf. Bolshakov acknowledged
the problem of illegal migrants, noting that Russia is initiating a
conference on migration in Geneva next week. According to Lithuanian
presidential advisor Justas Paleckis, Bolshakov gave "no optimistic
signs" about the restitution of the Lithuanian embassy buildings in
Paris and Rome and the return of money that Lithuanians deposited in the
former Soviet Vneshekonombank. Brazauskas said he would consider the
Russian request to open more polling stations in Lithuania for the
Russian presidential elections. -- Saulius Girnius

POLAND TO BECOME OECD MEMBER. The Polish Finance Minister Grzegorz
Kolodko said on 23 May that Poland was invited to join the Organization
for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), with its membership
beginning 11 or 12 July, Polish and international media reported. Poland
is to become the third Central European country, after Hungary and the
Czech Republic, to join the organization of leading industrial nations.
The invitation comes after Poland recently passed laws that remove
obstacles to OECD membership, including lessening restrictions on
foreign acquisition of property. -- Jakub Karpinski

CZECH REGIONAL COURT RULING CHANGED TO RACIAL VIOLENCE BY HIGH COURT. A
Czech High Court on 23 May ruled that the killing of Tibor Berki in Zdar
nad Sazavou last May was racially motivated, overturning last fall's
verdict of a lower court in Brno, CTK reported. Berki, a Rom, was killed
when four Czech youths broke into his house. The youths were overheard
in a restaurant before the attack saying they planned to "get some
Gypsies." However, the Brno court ruled that the killing was not
racially motivated because the attackers were not shouting slurs at the
moment of the assault. The new verdict increased the prison sentences of
the attackers, but most important, according to the Romany Civic
Initiative, the case could serve as a precedent. -- Alaina Lemon

SLOVAK OPPOSITION FAILS TO OUST INTERIOR MINISTER. The parliament on 23
May gave a vote of confidence to Ludovit Hudek, the first minister in
the current government whose dismissal was debated in the legislature,
Slovak media reported. In a secret ballot vote, only 60 deputies voted
to remove Hudek, 16 less than required. The opposition demanded the vote
after a controversial private conversation between Hudek and Slovak
Information Service (SIS) director Ivan Lexa was broadcast on private
radio (see OMRI Daily Digest, 14 May). Also on 23 May, President Michal
Kovac said the report Lexa presented to the parliament the previous day
"proved that the SIS is...engaged in unlawful activities," namely
following and evaluating the actions of the president, political
parties, the church, and journalists. Finally, Michal Kovac Jr. on 23
May filed a complaint against the police's decision to adjourn the
investigation into his abduction. -- Sharon Fisher

SLOVAK PRIME MINISTER CALLS FOR "CLEAN" HUNGARIAN CONSTITUENCIES.
Meeting with OSCE High Commissioner on National Minorities Max van der
Stoel in Bratislava on 23 May, Vladimir Meciar stated that "creating
clean Hungarian electoral districts is in Slovakia's interest," Narodna
obroda reported. "The new territorial administration will not influence
Hungarian representation in Slovakia's parliament," government
spokeswoman Ludmila Bulakova quoted Meciar as saying. Meanwhile,
Hungarian minority representatives asked for the OSCE's help in
resolving their problems and called the idea of "clean" Hungarian
constituencies "nonsense." In other news, Meciar's 17 May interview on
Slovak Radio has brought criticism from ethnic Hungarians. "People who
are not satisfied here and want to leave must be accommodated," Meciar
said. Hungarian Christian Democratic Movement chairman Bela Bugar on 22
May stressed that "every prime minister has the . . . obligation to take
steps to make citizens feel at home." -- Sharon Fisher

SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE

MLADIC'S WHEREABOUTS NOW UNCERTAIN . . . According to some media
accounts, such as those published in Nasa Borba on 24 May, Bosnian Serb
Gen. Ratko Mladic has made a safe return to the Republika Srpska
following the funeral services of his colleague and fellow accused war
criminal, Bosnian Serb Gen. Djordje Djukic. Onasa, however, reported on
23 May that Mladic was apprehended after the funeral and placed under
house arrest in Belgrade. According to OMRI reports from the field, the
consensus in Sarajevo is that Mladic has been arrested. Thus far, only
IFOR has confirmed Bosnian Serb military reports that say Mladic is back
in Republika Srpska. Radio B 92 reported that Milosevic spoke with
Mladic on 22 May, urging him to prove his innocence at The Hague. --
Stan Markotich

. . . BUT MLADIC WAS NOT THE ONLY ACCUSED WAR CRIMINAL TO BE SEEN IN
BELGRADE. President of the UN Criminal Tribunal for the Former
Yugoslavia, Judge Antonio Cassese, observed in a letter to the UN
Security Council that Col. Veselin Sljivancanin, one of three accused in
the 1991 massacre of at least 260 Croatian civilians near the town of
Vukovar, also attended Gen. Djordje Djukic's funeral. Cassese described
Sljivancanin's presence as evidence of "this continuing violation by the
Federal Republic of Yugoslavia of its obligation to cooperate with our
tribunal," Reuters reported on 23 May.-- Stan Markotich

IS THE U.S. GETTING TOUGH ON KARADZIC? Washington now says "there is
absolutely no deal" over the fate of Bosnian Serb civilian leader and
indicted war criminal Radovan Karadzic, AFP reported on 24 May. This
follows several days of guarded or equivocal statements regarding U.S.
policy on his future. An unnamed senior official told the New York Times
that the U.S. has rejected a suggestion from Serbian President Slobodan
Milosevic that Karadzic be allowed to "shed his formal duties and drop
from sight" but not be handed over to the International Criminal
Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia based in The Hague. -- Patrick Moore

BOSNIAN FEDERATION PRESIDENT SAYS MOSTAR ELECTIONS TO BE DELAYED.
Kresimir Zubak said on 23 May that an agreement was reached on the delay
of Mostar elections originally scheduled for 31 May, Oslobodjenje
reported. He added that elections will take place "before the end of
June," but Mostar EU administrator Ricardo Peres Casado must announce a
new date. An agreement between the Croatian and Muslim officials that
would enable the city's pre-war population to vote either in Mostar or
at designated places abroad where they live as refugees should be signed
on 25 May. Meanwhile, Peres Casado held talks with both Bosnian
President Alija Izetbegovic and Croatian President Franjo Tudjman. While
Tudjman was against the election delay, Michael Steiner, the High
Representative deputy for Bosnia, said the Croatian Foreign Minister
Mate Granic helped find a compromise, Oslobodjenje reported. Meanwhile,
EU officials in Mostar refused to confirm an announcement on the
elections' delay, AFP reported on 23 May. -- Daria Sito Sucic

BOSNIAN SERBS VETO CROSS-BORDER BUS ROUTES. UNHCR spokesman Kris
Janowski said on 23 May that the Bosnian Serb police prevented a bus
from the government-held Sarajevo suburb of Ilidza from reaching the
Serb-run district of Lukavica. Police said the bus failed to meet
"safety standards," but the Bosnian Serb authorities indicated that they
intend to ban all such bus traffic between the federation and the
Republika Srpska, AFP reported. Janowski said the police claims were
"complete nonsense and another example of the hostility of the Republika
Srpska authorities to freedom of movement." That principle is a
cornerstone of the Dayton agreement, but IFOR has shown little
enthusiasm for enforcing it. The bus carried mainly Sarajevo Serbs who
wanted to telephone friends or collect pensions. -- Patrick Moore

CROATIAN PRESIDENT'S DAUGHTER SUES PAPER FOR $635,000. Nevenka Kosutic
has sued the independent weekly Feral Tribune for 3.5 million kuna,
Reuters reported on 23 May. The paper claimed that she set up a
profitable business using government connections. This is but the latest
in a series of reports in the independent media that Tudjman's family
and friends have enriched themselves while much of Croatia lives in or
near poverty. It is also one of many legal moves that seem aimed at
bankrupting Feral. -- Patrick Moore

KOSOVARS POSTPONE ELECTIONS. Shadow-state President Ibrahim Rugova
postponed elections planned for 24 May for one year, AFP reported. He
set the date for presidential and parliamentary elections for 24 May
1997. No reason was given for the postponement, but a statement by
Rugova said the step was taken "in accordance with the constitution" and
after consultation with "parliamentary parties." Meanwhile, Macedonian
President Kiro Gligorov, in an interview for Nova Makedonija on 24 May,
urged a solution to the Kosovo problem, which he said poses a "huge risk
for the whole region." The "dream of liberation and unification with
Albania" would lead to conflicts in which the Macedonian Albanians would
inevitably be involved, Gligorov said. -- Stefan Krause

ROMANIAN ELECTORAL UPDATE. The National Peasant Christian Democratic
Party (PNTCD) went back on its earlier decision to support separate
presidential and parliamentary elections in the fall, local media
reported on 23-24 May. Emil Constantinescu, a prominent PNTCD leader and
the candidate of the Democratic Convention of Romania (CDR) in the
presidential elections, also said the CDR will back the raising of the
electoral hurdle for the parliamentary elections from 3% to 5%. In other
news, the leader of the Party of Civic Alliance (PAC), Nicolae
Manolescu, told a press conference he no longer "gives a chance" to the
alliance struck by PAC with the Social Democratic Union for the June
local elections due to the latter's "repeated political
inconsistencies." Finally, a meeting between representatives of the
coalition partners, the Party of Social Democracy in Romania and the
Party of Romanian National Unity, to decide the future of the conflict-
ridden alliance, ended with no results and the decision was deferred to
another encounter at party-leadership top level. -- Michael Shafir

U.S. SPECIAL ENVOY IN ROMANIA . . . Richard Schifter in Bucharest on 23
May discussed with Romanian Foreign Minister Teodor Melescanu south-east
European economic cooperation matters and bilateral relations between
their countries, local media reported on 23-24 May. Schifter is also
scheduled to meet President Ion Iliescu and Premier Nicoale Vacaroiu. --
Michael Shafir

. . . ALSO DISCUSSES BALKAN COOPERATION IN SOFIA. Shifter also on 23 May
briefed Bulgarian politicians on a U.S. plan for regional cooperation,
international and Bulgarian media reported. The plan includes
infrastructure development, energy, and environmental protection. After
talks with Bulgarian President Zhelyu Zhelev and Foreign Minister Georgi
Pirinski, Shifter said there is "full consensus about the American
initiative" between the ruling Socialists and the opposition, while
Pirinski said the plan coincides to a large extent "with the emerging
approach of the Balkan countries." Shifter also discussed the meeting of
Balkan foreign ministers scheduled to take place in Sofia on 8-9 June.
-- Stefan Krause

PARLIAMENT'S RESOLUTION ON MOLDOVAN PRESIDENT'S MESSAGE. The Moldovan
parliament on 23 May approved its final resolution on President Mircea
Snegur's message (see OMRI Daily Digest, 26 April) concerning the socio-
political situation in the republic, Infotag reported. According to the
resolution, most of the existing economic problems date back to the time
before the existing government. "We had to pay a very high price to
ensure the stability of the national currency, to stop inflation, and to
restructure the country's economy," the document reads. The parliament
acknowledged, however, that the government failed to implement its 1994-
1997 program and called on it to submit a schedule of clearing wage and
pension arrears, as well as to improve the activities of ministries and
other state structures mentioned in Snegur's message. -- Matyas Szabo

CIS FINANCE MINISTERS REUNION IN MOLDOVA. At the initiative of the
Moldovan government, CIS finance ministers on 23 May began a reunion in
Chisinau, Moldovan agencies reported. The delegations representing 10
CIS countries discussed issues related to regional cooperation,
taxation, trade, and banking. Moldova and the Caucasus states opted for
a consulting status of the reunion, while Russia wants to set up a
permanent council with financed executive structures. Moldovan Finance
Minister Valeriu Chitan said some delegations favored radical changes in
customs duties. According to Yurii Belousov, first assistant of the CIS
Executive Secretary, the meeting was a positive step toward the economic
integration of CIS states. -- Matyas Szabo

ALBANIAN HELSINKI COMMITTEE PROTESTS VIOLENCE BEFORE ELECTIONS. The
Albanian Helsinki Committee for Human Rights called on the government to
ensure that recent violent incidents are not repeated, Gazeta Shqiptare
reported on 24 May. On 22 May, Democratic Party supporters attacked a
Socialist Party rally in Durres. According to various eye witnesses,
police did not interfere to arrest the culprits who injured a number of
Socialists with sticks. Later the electricity in the assembly hall was
cut off. Other reports said that windows of the Socialist's cars were
smashed at roadblocks. Meanwhile, Deputy Interior Minister Agim Shehu
blamed the incidents on agents of the communist-era secret police,
saying they were acting on the Socialists' behalf. An OMRI journalist,
however, noted a government license plate among cars where one roadblock
was being built. A Socialist rally in Tirana the following day and a
rally of Democrats in Shkoder ended with no incidents. -- Fabian Schmidt
in Tirana

ALBANIAN NATIONAL BANK INTERVENES TO SUPPORT THE LEK. Following a recent
period of rapid devaluation of the lek against the U.S. dollar and other
international currencies, the Albanian National Bank has intervened and
reduced the amount of money in circulation by buying up large amounts of
lek on the free market, Albanian media reported. National Bank director
Kristaq Luniku said that "the Bank of Albania has...eliminated
unnecessary liquidity on the market." The free market value of the U.S.
dollar against the lek fell from 115 on 22 May to only 101 the following
day. The official exchange rate fell from 117.5 to 111 lek. Observers
said the move is an attempt to maintain a stable lek until elections on
26 May and predicted that the falling tendency will resume again after
elections. National Bank governor Kristaq Luniku, however, predicted
that the lek will continue to be a stable currency. -- Fabian Schmidt in
Tirana

[As of 12:00 CET]

Compiled by Deborah Michaels

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