Human life is but a series of footnotes to a vast obscure unfinished masterpiece. - Vladimir Nabokov
OMRI DAILY DIGEST

No. 117, Part II, 17 June 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

GOVERNMENT SHAKEUP CONTINUES IN UKRAINE. President Leonid Kuchma on 14
June dismissed Energy Minister Oleksii Sheberstov, the second top
official to be fired in a shakeup orchestrated by the country's new
premier, Ukrainian and international agencies reported. ITAR-TASS
reported that Prime Minister Pavlo Lazarenko is expected to recommend
that another four or five ministers be sacked soon. He announced on 14
June that he has ordered the layoff of 20% of government employees (some
10,000 people) in an effort to cut budget spending. The funds saved by
the layoffs and new austerity measures that, among other things, reduce
official privileges will be used to pay off some of the state's wage
debt. Lazarenko also said his government was planning to reduce social
benefits for citizens, including energy subsidies for some 17 million
people. -- Chrystyna Lapychak

BELARUSIAN REACTION TO EU TRADE BAN. The EU Parliamentary Committee for
Foreign Affairs has asked the union to suspend enacting a provisional
trade agreement with Belarus because of human rights abuses in that
country, Belapan reported on 13 June. Belarusian Deputy Foreign Minister
Mikhail Khvastau said the decision was influenced by "personal
approaches" and underlined inconsistencies in the policies of European
agencies. He downplayed the significance of the EU committee's
recommendation, commenting that if Belarus cannot cooperate with EU
countries within the framework of the union, it could continue to
cooperate through bilateral ties. -- Ustina Markus

BALTIC PRIME MINISTERS SIGN FREE AGRICULTURAL TRADE AGREEMENT. Tiit Vahi
(Estonia), Andres Skele (Latvia), and Mindaugas Stankevicius
(Lithuania), meeting in Vilnius on 16 June, have signed a free
agricultural trade agreement, Radio Lithuania reported. The agreement
lifts all import and export duties on farm products and removes quotas
on farm and fish products whose origin has been confirmed. Once it has
been ratified by the three parliaments, the accord is expected to
promote competition and thus reduce food prices. A free industrial trade
agreement between the three countries has been in force since April
1994. -- Saulius Girnius

SWEDISH PRIME MINISTER PLEDGES AID TO LITHUANIA. Goran Persson, meeting
with his Lithuanian counterpart Mindaugas Stankevicius in Vilnius on 14
June, praised Lithuania's efforts to curb illegal migration, BNS
reported. He said his government will give Lithuania another 1 million
Swedish kronor ($148,000) for the implementation of the law on refugees
in Lithuania. Sweden has already granted 2 million kronor, almost half
of which has been used to set up a refugee camp at Rukle. The premiers
also discussed cooperation in nuclear power, focusing on how Lithuania
will replace the Ignalina plant once its resources have been used up
next century. The possibility of a Baltic Ring gas pipeline that would
supply Lithuania with natural gas from Norway was mentioned. -- Saulius
Girnius

NEW GDANSK SHIPYARD REGISTERED. A new shipyard has been registered at
Gdansk to partly replace the old bankrupt one. The new company will
operate initially for 10 years and will lease 60% of the old shipyard's
property. Some 3,000 of the old shipyard's 7,300 employees will find
work in the new shipyard, which hopes to open on 1 July making use of
bank credits. Privatization Minister Wieslaw Kaczmarek told the Sejm on
14 June that bankruptcy is the best way to save the old shipyard and its
creditors, since it will allow for the re-negotiation of bad contracts.
The Sejm is to vote in two weeks on whether to replace Kaczmarek over
the closure decision. Jerzy Borowczak, Solidarity leader at the Gdansk
shipyard, said that it was a bad idea to open a new shipyard, since it
has no capital and guarantees employment for only 3,000 or so people. He
added that shipyard workers will boycott the new shipyard. Meanwhile,
the old one is expected to be declared bankrupt by 22 June. -- Jakub
Karpinski

POLISH TEACHERS DEMAND PAY RAISES. Some 7,000 teachers from all over
Poland took part in a march in Warsaw on 15 June organized by the Polish
Teachers Union (ZNP). The teachers submitted petitions at the Finance
Ministry and the Presidential Palace demanding higher salaries and more
money for schools. The ZNP is a part of the All-Polish Labor Unions
Confederation (OPZZ), which belongs to the ruling Democratic Left
Alliance (SLD) coalition. "Polish teachers live in poverty and their
patience is running out," ZNP leader Jan Zaciura told Education Minister
and SDL leader Jerzy Wiatr. -- Jakub Karpinski

ROMANI DEMOCRATIC CONGRESS TO PROTEST POOL BAN IN CZECH REPUBLIC. Jan
Rusenko of the Romani Democratic Congress (RDK) told CTK on 14 June that
the claim that Roma under 18 living in Kladno have hepatitis is merely a
pretext to bar them from the city's public swimming pools. The Kladno
deputy mayor last week banned all Roma under 15 from the pools. Similar
bans have been issued in other Czech towns in previous summers. An
anonymous official at the Interior Ministry told RFE/RL that the ban is
unacceptable since it applies to a group instead of the general public.
Rusenko said that RDK will protest the ban. -- Alaina Lemon

NATO DELEGATION IN SLOVAKIA. Arriving in Slovakia on 15 June for a
three-day visit, North Atlantic Assembly President Karsten Voigt
stressed the need to cooperate "in convincing the majority of the
members of the West European and U.S. parliaments that democracy in
Slovakia is so stable that its entrance into NATO will not be a risk,"
TASR and Reuters reported. Voigt added that it will also be important
for Slovakia to show that membership in the alliance will strengthen
democracy in the region, which some Western countries doubt. Voigt said
NATO will expand without requiring new members to accept the location of
nuclear missiles on their territory. In Brussels on 14 June, Slovak
Defense Minister Jan Sitek noted that the Partnership for Peace program
is not an alternative to membership in NATO and stressed that Slovakia
continues to aim for full membership in the alliance. -- Sharon Fisher

SLOVAK PRESIDENT'S SON RESPONDS TO POLICE. Michal Kovac Jr. on 14 June
issued a statement questioning the police's "sudden change of opinion"
on his plans to travel to Germany to defend himself against fraud
charges, TASR reported. Kovac Jr. said the police investigator had told
him he did not see any obstacles preventing Kovac Jr.'s interrogation by
German authorities. But a police statement issued the previous day said
Kovac Jr. cannot leave Slovakia. Kovac Jr. stressed he wants to leave to
undergo official questioning. Praca on 15 June noted that if Germany
cleared Kovac Jr. of the charges, it would be "a catastrophe" for Prime
Minister Vladimir Meciar's camp, which has continually attacked the
president's son. "It seems the only option left for Kovac Jr....may be
to swim illegally across the Danube as in the good old communist times,"
the paper said. -- Sharon Fisher

WORLD CONGRESS OF HUNGARIANS UNHAPPY WITH GOVERNMENT'S MINORITY POLICY.
Hungarian Prime Minister Gyula Horn was booed and whistled by delegates
to the fourth World Congress of Hungarians in Budapest on 15 June when
he explained that the government is not planning changes in its foreign
minority policy, Hungarian media reported. Horn reiterated that Hungary
will not seek the revision of borders but that it will insist on
guaranteeing minority rights. He asked Hungarian minorities to make
clear their concept of autonomy and to distance themselves from
separatist declarations. Delegates warned that ethnic Hungarians abroad
are second-class citizens not only in their own homeland but also
compared with Hungarian citizens. Nationalist circles and the opposition
have blamed the government for trading minority rights for the signing
of the Slovak-Hungarian treaty. -- Zsofia Szilagyi

SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE

BOSNIAN DISARMAMENT AGREEMENT SIGNED. Rump Yugoslavia, the Bosnian
Federation, Croatia, and the Republika Srpska signed a disarmament
agreement in Florence on 14 June, international media reported. The deal
places restrictions on the number of tanks, other armored vehicles,
artillery, fighter aircraft, and helicopter gun ships that each of the
states is allowed to have. The UN Security Council is expected to lift
the arms embargo against the former Yugoslavia on 18 June as a result of
the agreement. The WEU will also end operation "Sharp Guard," under
which shipping in the Adriatic was monitored during the embargo. --
Fabian Schmidt

BOSNIAN SERBS CELEBRATE CONFERENCE AS VICTORY. Returning from Florence,
Bosnian Serb Prime Minister Gojko Klickovic told Srna that he was
"satisfied" with the treatment of his delegation at the meeting. He
added "we have made it clear that the elections cannot be linked to
demands for the extradition of the leaders of the Republika Srpska, and
we did not come to Florence to make new concessions." Foreign Affairs
Minister Aleksa Buha said the meeting "had calmed the hysteria" about
extradition of Radovan Karadzic and Ratko Mladic, AFP reported. --
Fabian Schmidt

FORMER BOSNIAN PREMIER ATTACKED IN PRE-ELECTION RALLY. Haris Silajdzic,
leader of the opposition Party for Bosnia-Hercegovina (SBiH), was
attacked and injured while campaigning in the northwestern town of Cazin
on 15 June, international and local media reported. SBiH spokesman
Mustafa Mujagic said Silajdzic was hit on the head with an iron bar and
sustained a serious cut and bruises. He added that members of the ruling
Muslim Party for Democratic Action (SDA) were responsible for what he
called the "obviously organized" attack, Onasa reported. Silajdzic was
surrounded by a crowd of some 100 people carrying SDA banners and
shouting Muslim religious prayers. Both SBiH and OSCE officials claimed
police did nothing to prevent the incident. But the SDA, which condemned
the attack the next day, claimed that the police "saved" Silajdzic. --
Daria Sito Sucic

BOSNIAN CROATS NAME NEW HERCEG-BOSNA GOVERNMENT. Pero Markovic, a local
official from the town of Capljina, has been appointed prime minister of
Herceg-Bosna by the self-styled Bosnian Croatian "presidential council."
Onasa reported on 16 June. Markovic proceeded to appoint several new
ministers, including Vladimir Soljic as defense minister. Soljic also
holds that post in the Bosnian Federation. Bosnian Prime Minister Hasan
Muratovic condemned the Bosnian Croat leadership for naming a new
government for a rebel state that, he said, should have been disbanded
months ago, AFP reported. Muratovic condemned the move as illegal,
saying its shows that the Bosnian Croats are not committed to a federal
government in Bosnia-Herzegovina. -- Daria Sito Sucic

BOSNIAN MUSLIMS APPLY TO RUN IN REPUBLIKA SRPSKA ELECTIONS. Muslims from
six villages in northeastern Bosnia have applied to run in elections in
the Republika Srpska, AFP reported on 16 June, citing Oslobodjenje.
Inhabitants of villages held by the Muslims during the war in Bosnia and
transferred to Bosnian Serb control under the Dayton agreement have
nominated candidates for municipal and regional elections. Meanwhile,
the deadline for registering for the fall Bosnian elections passed on 14
June. The OSCE said that 45 parties and 16 independent candidates
submitted applications. An OSCE spokesman said no details will be
announced until the applications have been checked and possible appeals
considered. In related news, Reuters reported that the U.S. said
refugees who vote will not lose their refugee status and will not be
forced to return to Bosnia. -- Stefan Krause

U.S. OFFICIAL ADMONISHES SERBIAN PRESIDENT. Assistant Secretary of State
John Kornblum, visiting Belgrade on 16 June, told Slobodan Milosevic
that Washington wants Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic ousted from
power in the coming weeks. Kornblum stressed the need to implement the
Dayton agreement, adding that "the patience of the international
community...was beginning to wear thin." Kornblum and Milosevic also
discussed freedom of the press in Serbia, freedom of movement, and
preparations for the elections, AFP reported. -- Fabian Schmidt

CROATIAN PRESIDENT SAYS COMMUNISTS WERE PARTLY RESPONSIBLE FOR JASENOVAC
VICTIMS. Franjo Tudjman, during a visit to the World War II
concentration camp at Jasenovac, has given a new interpretation of what
happened there 50 years ago, AFP reported on 15 June. Tudjman said
Communists loyal to Yugoslav President Josip Broz Tito killed thousands
of the people buried at the site. The generally accepted official
version is that all those buried there were killed by the Croatian
Ustachi, which ran the camp during the war. Tudjman's visit to Jasenovac
came one day after the opening of the trial of two Croatian journalists
who criticized Tudjman's plan to bury members of the pro-Nazi regime
together with their victims. Tudjman paid homage to "all the victims" of
the camp, including both "the victims of fascism but also those of
communism," Hina reported. -- Daria Sito Sucic

LOW TURNOUT REPORTED IN ROMANIAN LOCAL ELECTIONS. Romania's Central
Electoral Bureau (BEC) noted that turnout at the second round of local
elections in Romania on 16 June was even lower than during the first
round (56%) two weeks earlier, Romanian TV reported. Polling stations
stayed open till midnight in accordance with a BEC order, but longer
voting hours apparently failed to attract more voters. Exit polls
suggest that in the race for mayor of Bucharest, Democratic Convention
of Romania (CDR) candidate Victor Ciorbea beat former international
tennis star Ilie Nastase, who ran as the candidate of the Party of
Social Democracy in Romania. According to final results broadcast by
Radio Bucharest on 17 June, the CDR also won the mayoralty of Sibiu. In
addition to run-offs, voting was repeated in 334 districts and in two
counties where participation in the first round had been less than 50% .
-- Michael Shafir

MOLDOVA AND JAPAN TO BOOST COOPERATION. The Japanese government has
decided to upgrade Moldova from the status of "transition-economy
country" to that of "developing country," President Mircea Snegur and
Japanese Ambassador at Large Sumio Edamura announced in Chisinau on 14
June. The two states will also increase economic cooperation. Infotag
reported that Snegur thanked the Japanese envoy for a $40 million credit
and humanitarian aid worth $2.5 million. -- Michael Shafir

BULGARIAN SOCIALISTS NAME PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE... The ruling Bulgarian
Socialist Party's Supreme Council on 16 June nominated Foreign Minister
Georgi Pirinski as BSP presidential candidate, RFE/RL reported.
Following a 10-hour debate, 70 members voted for Pirinski, one against,
and 16 abstained. Under the Bulgarian Constitution, the president must
be Bulgarian by birth. Since Pirinski was born to a Bulgarian father and
an American mother in New York in 1948, questions have been raised as to
whether he can become president. But the constitution also says that
everybody with one Bulgarian parent is considered Bulgarian. Pirinski is
to run against Petar Stoyanov of the Union of Democratic Forces in
elections that will most likely take place in November. Prime Minister
Zhan Videnov told the Supreme Council that the BSP has to win the
Presidency in order to implement its program. -- Stefan Krause

...AND INTRODUCE CHANGES IN PARTY LEADERSHIP. The Supreme Council also
endorsed Videnov's proposal to change the lineup of the BSP Executive
Bureau, Trud reported. Videnov and his four deputies will continue to
serve on that body, while seven members have been removed and five new
ones appointed. Meanwhile, former Tsar Simeon II wrapped up a three-week
visit to Bulgaria, AFP reported. While he did not elaborate on his
plans, he did suggest that he intends to play a role in Bulgarian
politics. He spoke in favor of a constitutional monarchy, which he
described as a "flexible and pragmatic form of government." Simeon also
urged the government to speed up economic reforms. -- Stefan Krause

ELECTION RE-RUNS IN ALBANIA. Albania's Central Electoral Commission
claimed a 55% turnout at re-runs in 17 of Albania's 115 electoral
districts on 16 June, Albanian media reported. President Sali Berisha
decreed the new ballots following opposition claims of manipulation and
calls by international institutions and several countries for a repeat
of the vote. However, the opposition Socialists, Social Democrats,
Democratic Alliance, Party of the Democratic Right, and Party of
National Unity all boycotted the ballots, demanding that the elections
be held afresh. The Constitutional Court on 15 June rejected an appeal
by the Social Democrats and Democratic Alliance to declare the ballot
illegal, according to international agencies. No official OSCE observers
were present during the re-runs, but the Democrats reportedly invited
members of conservative and right-wing parties from France, Greece,
Italy, and Austria to oversee the voting process. -- Fabian Schmidt

ALBANIAN DEPUTY PREMIER INVOLVED IN BAR BRAWL. Dashamir Shehi hit Koha
Jone journalist Frrok Cupi in the face in a Tirana bar on 15 June,
international agencies reported. Cupi had earlier charged Shehi with
incompetence. Shehi was Cupi's bodyguard in 1991 when the latter was the
chief editor of Rilindja Demokratike. Meanwhile, Shehi has denied that
the incident took place, Albanian media reported. -- Fabian Schmidt


[As of 12:00 CET]

Compiled by Jan Cleave

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