Eat to live, and not live to eat. - Benjamin Franklin
OMRI DAILY DIGEST

No. 136, Part I, 16 July 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

UKRAINIAN PRESIDENT MEETS WITH GAZPROM DELEGATION. Leonid Kuchma met
with visiting Gazprom officials to discuss expanding business links,
Ukrainian agencies reported. The talks focused on how to improve the
current system of supplying gas to Ukraine and transporting it across
its territory to Eastern Europe. There was also discussion of the
possibilities for mutual investment in the Russian and Ukrainian gas
industries. Commentators on Ukrainian TV speculated the visit was
spurred by Russian gas and oil industry concerns that Ukraine is seeking
alternative sources of energy. They claimed recent talks between the
Ukrainian and Iraqi governments about trading Iraqi oil for Ukrainian
food supplies has made Russian gas and oil barons nervous about losing a
major customer. -- Chrystyna Lapychak

UKRAINIAN GOVERNMENT PAYS OFF PART OF WAGE DEBT TO COAL MINERS. The
Ukrainian government has paid off part of its wage debt to coal miners,
Ukrainian Radio reported on 15 July. The government allocated 15
trillion karbovantsi ($81 million) to coal mines to cover wages for
June. It has also promised that by 15 September, it will pay all wages
owed since February. A special government commission assigned to deal
with the crisis-stricken coal sector said a 12-day-old strike by miners
throughout the country caused losses totaling nearly 4 trillion
karbovantsi. First Deputy Prime Minister Vasyl Durdynets, who heads the
commission, said total losses from various miners' strikes so far this
year has cost the industry 20 trillion karbovantsi. -- Chrystyna
Lapychak

ESTONIAN PRESIDENT IN GERMANY. Lennart Meri, during his visit to Germany
from 13-15 July, met with Chancellor Helmut Kohl for talks that focused
on the possible eastward expansion of NATO and the EU. The German
Investment and Development Fund announced during his trip that it will
loan the Hansapank bank in Tallinn 10 million German marks ($6.7
million), according to Western media. -- Saulius Girnius

LATVIAN GOVERNMENT RESHUFFLED. Prime Minister Andris Skele on 15 July
announced he has approved the resignations of three ministers and the
abolition of three ministerial posts, BNS reported. Environment Minister
Maris Gailis, Culture Minister Ojars Sparitis, and Industry State
Minister Eriks Kaza are resigning voluntarily for various reasons and
will be replaced by candidates proposed by their parties. Skele
abolished the posts of minister in charge of local government issues,
state minister at the Foreign Ministry, and education state minister. He
added that other ministerial posts not considered "useful" will be
abolished in an attempt to reduce administrative personnel and state
expenditures. -- Saulius Girnius

LITHUANIA'S GAYS URGE CONSTITUTIONAL AMENDMENT. Eduardas Platovas,
secretary of the Lithuanian Gay League, said the republic's gays are
preparing to initiate a constitutional amendment legalizing freedom of
sexual orientation, BNS reported on 15 July. He commented that the
absence of any mention in the constitution of the individual's right to
decide his or her sexual orientation provides the legal basis for
justifying discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation. Platovas
said gays will participate in the meetings of all political parties to
gain an understanding of their position on gays. They will then decide
which party to support. The gay community claims to constitute 4% of the
population. -- Saulius Girnius

POLISH PUBLIC OPINION ON NATO. Poles want to join NATO but do not want
to pay for it, according to a poll conducted by the Public Opinion
Research Center (CBOS) earlier this month. Of the respondents, 83% are
in favor of Poland joining NATO and concede that membership would mean
large expenditures. Only 23%, however, want to reduce other budget
expenditures to meet the cost of membership, Gazeta Wyborcza reported on
16 July. The daily also reported that according to data published by the
U.S. Information Agency, 9% of Hungarians, 8% of Czechs, and 7% of
Slovaks approve of using public funds to bring their armies up to NATO
standards. -- Jakub Karpinski

PRIVATIZATION VOUCHERS ON POLISH STOCK EXCHANGE. Vouchers for Poland's
mass privatization program were listed on the Warsaw Stock Exchange on
15 July, Polish media reported. They began selling at more than five
times the price citizens are required to pay for them. Since November
1995, Poland's adult citizens have been able to buy one voucher each for
shares in funds that oversee some 500 former state-owned companies.
While they have to pay only 20 zlotys ($7.40) for their vouchers, the
price on the stock exchange was quoted at 104 zlotys. -- Jakub Karpinski

SOCIALIST INTERNATIONAL MEETS IN SLOVAKIA. The Central and East European
Committee of Socialist International is holding its first-ever meeting
in Bratislava, Slovak media reported. More than 70 delegates and guests
gathered in the Slovak capital on 15 July for the two-day session.
Meeting with Slovak President Michal Kovac, Socialist International
Secretary-General Luis Ayala said his organization aims to help
strengthen democracy in Slovakia and to work toward the country's full
integration into European structures. With regard to the political
situation in Slovakia, Social Democratic Party chairman Jaroslav Volf
noted that sharing of power among the coalition parties and
participation in property distribution were the main reasons for the
recent coalition crisis. Volf criticized the opposition's continued
exclusion from key oversight committees. -- Sharon Fisher

SLOVAK PRIME MINISTER CLASHES WITH GM. Meeting with workers in eastern
Slovakia on 14 July, Vladimir Meciar was accused of not helping the
ailing armaments factory ZTS Dubnica by refusing GM's offer to buy it.
Meciar responded by saying that his government offered to sell the firm
to GM for 1 crown, to build villas with swimming pools for the managers
in the nearby spa town of Trencianske Teplice, and to send a helicopter
to Vienna weekly to buy goods for the managers' wives. "They did not
accept it," Meciar said, alleging that GM's offer was not "serious." GM
responded the next day by saying it "would not have negotiated with the
Slovak government for more than 10 months if it did not seriously want
to carry out the project." -- Sharon Fisher

HUNGARY PREDICTS LARGE SOCIAL INSURANCE DEFICIT. Hungarian officials
estimate that the pension and health insurance funds could run up a
deficit totaling 68 billion forints ($453 million) by the end of the
year, Magyar Hirlap reported on 16 July. That figure is almost four
times higher than the amount stipulated earlier this year as a condition
for an IMF $387 million standby credit. Both pension and health
insurance officials blame the deficit on the failure to collect debts
and contributions. Since the departure of former Finance Minister Lajos
Bokros, who was a strong advocate of social welfare reform, his
successor, Peter Medgyessy, has failed to come up with a plan to reform
social insurance and tackle the social insurance deficit. -- Zsofia
Szilagyi

SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE

OSCE GIVES SERBS UNTIL FRIDAY TO SACK KARADZIC . . . Robert Frowick,
OSCE administrator for the Bosnian elections, has told the Serbian
Democratic Party (SDS) that it must find a way to "settle the matter" of
Radovan Karadzic by 19 July, Nasa Borba and Reuters reported on 16 July.
"By definition, if this campaign starts on Friday, you can be sure that
things must be straightened out by that date," he said. Frowick has
ruled that parties may not run in the 14 September elections if they are
headed by indicted war criminals, Onasa added. The SDS recently re-
elected Karadzic as its chairman, which is the most powerful job in the
Republika Srpska. -- Patrick Moore

...AND DISQUALIFIES SEVEN CANDIDATES IN BOSNIAN ELECTIONS. The
international organization has disqualified seven leading candidates of
the ruling Party of Democratic Action (SDA) in Cazin, northern Bosnia,
on the grounds that they were responsible for the incident in which
former Bosnian Premier Haris Silajdzic was injured (see OMRI Daily
Digest, 17 June 1996), Oslobodjenje reported on 15 July. Silajdzic's
Party for Bosnia-Herzegovina (SBiH) said this punishment is too mild and
would only encourage those opposed to a democratic climate in Bosnia. It
also accused the Bosnian authorities of failing to remove those who had
organized and committed the attack on Silajdzic. Meanwhile, the Cazin
branch of the SDA criticized the OSCE decision, saying it shows the
organization is biased against the SDA, Onasa reported. -- Daria Sito
Sucic

SERBS THREATEN TO RETALIATE AGAINST PEACEKEEPERS. Bosnian Serb police
have said they will take unspecified measures against international
police if the two top indicted war criminals--Karadzic and Gen. Ratko
Mladic--are arrested, AFP reported on 15 July. "The Pale police chief
threatened that if [they] are arrested the population will be mobilized
against the [UN police] and other international organizations," UN
spokesman Alexander Ivanko said. In May 1995, the Serbs took
peacekeepers hostage in a successful attempt to force NATO to end its
air strikes. A lack of decisiveness on the part of the international
community in enforcing the Dayton agreement appears to have encouraged
the Serbs to test the limits of the possible again. There has been a
recent upsurge of attacks by the Serbs against the UN police across
Bosnia, Oslobodjenje noted on 16 July. -- Patrick Moore

BELGRADE CRITICIZES BOSNIAN SERBS. Belgrade's Foreign Ministry has
sternly rebuked the Bosnian Serb leadership following reports that Pale
is unsatisfied with conditions for arbitration on the future of the
north Bosnian town of Brcko. Reuters quoted the ministry as saying the
Bosnian Serbs' latest actions are "genuinely hostile to the people and
citizens of the Bosnian Serb republic.... This latest act by the
leadership deserves the strongest possible condemnation." AFP, citing
SRNA, reported on 16 July that the Bosnian Serbs deny intending to
withdraw from the Brcko arbitration talks. Vladimir Popovic, Bosnian
Serb representative on the arbitration commission, said Pale was
demanding only that the international community provide maps of the
disputed territory. -- Stan Markotich

EU APPOINTS NEW MOSTAR ADMINISTRATOR... The EU on 15 July appointed
British commander Sir Martin Garrod to replace Ricardo Perez Casado as
Mostar's EU administrator. Perez Casado, who recently announced his
resignation from that post, had been criticized by Croats and Muslims
for being absent from Mostar at crucial times, Reuters reported. Garrod
came to Mostar in June 1994 as a member of an advance EU team. He
announced the official results of the Mostar elections on 13 July. The
EU also agreed to extend its mandate in the city for another six months.
-- Fabian Schmidt

...WHILE CROATIAN MOSTAR MAYOR CRITICIZES GARROD. Mijo Brajkovic has
criticized Garrod's decision to publish the final election results
despite opposition from the Croatian members of the Electoral
Commission, Slobodna Dalmacija reported on 13 July. The Croats continue
to argue that there were irregularities in the ballots in Bonn and other
European cities, where the Croatian Democratic Community (HDZ) failed to
gain a majority of the vote. Brajkovic argues that the decision of an EU
ombudsman to declare the Bonn ballot valid is a violation of the
electoral law. Brajkovic said Garrod's announcement of the election
results, which paves the way for the formation of city council was the
result of an "occupation." He added that the HDZ would not participate
in such a body. -- Fabian Schmidt

UN EXTENDS MANDATE ON PREVLAKA PENINSULA. The UN Security Council on 15
July extended for six months the mandate of UN monitors on Prevlaka, the
disputed peninsula on the border between Croatia and rump Yugoslavia,
Nasa Borba reported. The council resolution asks both sides to continue
negotiations on full normalization of relations. In other news, the
Adriatic oil pipeline was opened on 16 July for the first time since
September 1991, Nasa Borba reported. Serbia will be supplied with oil
transported by ship to Croatia's Adriatic ports and then by pipelin
through Croatian territory. -- Daria Sito Sucic

SERBIA TO ABOLISH DEATH PENALTY? Serbian Justice Minister Arandjel
Markicevic has said that Serbia plans to abolish the death penalty,
Tanjug reported on 14 July. Speaking during a discussion sponsored by
the official news agency, Markicevic said he envisaged changes to the
criminal code whereby the most heinous capital crimes would be
punishable by a 30-year prison sentence. The minister also commented on
Belgrade's relations with The Hague tribunal, saying that he believed
"remarks about the tribunal being a political rather a than legal
institution...are justified." -- Stan Markotich

ROMANIAN JOURNALISTS' JAIL SENTENCE SUSPENDED. Romania's chief
prosecutor has decided to suspend the jail sentences of two journalists
convicted last week for libel pending a re-examination of their case,
Radio Bucharest reported on 15 July. The journalists, who work for the
Constanta daily Telegraf, had reported on corruption in the city's
municipal council (see OMRI Daily Digest, 12 July 1996). The suspension
follows protests by Romanian and international human rights
organizations. According to Telegraf, police have been ordered not to
carry out the sentence until 30 August. -- Michael Shafir

IRON GUARD REVIVAL IN ROMANIA. The Legionary Movement--also known as the
Iron Guard--has launched a month-long "summer camp" at the Black Sea
resort of Eforie-Sud, the Bucharest daily Libertatea reported on 16 July
The camp is modeled on those organized by the inter-war fascist movement
and claims to be educational, including the study of the Legionary
Movement doctrines. Last year, a similar camp organized at Padina, in
the Carpathian mountains, was strongly criticized by the Romanian
Intelligence Service (SRI) as undermining state security. Journalists
and SRI representatives have been invited to the 1996 camp in order to
see that its activities are not subversive. -- Michael Shafir

MOLDOVAN POLITICAL UPDATE. The Socialist Party of Moldova (PSM), at its
congress in Balti on 13 July, expelled the leadership of the Chisinau
and Ungheni branches, Moldovan media reported on 15 July. Both
leaderships were accused of engaging in activities that might split the
party. Among those expelled is Veronica Abramciuc, who had been proposed
as the party's presidential candidate by the Chisinau branch. The
congress did not name a PSM candidate for the fall presidential
elections, despite including the issue on its agenda. Also on 13 July,
the National Coordinating Council of the Social Democratic Party of
Moldova declined to nominate its own candidate and announced that it
will support instead parliamentary chairman Petru Lucinschi, the
candidate of a center-left electoral bloc not yet set up. -- Michael
Shafir

BULGARIAN PRESIDENT WARNS OF DICTATORSHIP. Zhelyu Zhelev, in an
interview with a Western news agency on 15 July, warned that political
and economic chaos might lead to social unrest, Standart reported. He
repeated his call for the president's powers to be increased at the
expense of the parliament. Otherwise, he said, "people will not want a
presidential republic but a dictatorship because they are used to it."
He said he was "not too enthusiastic" about the upcoming presidential
elections, since neither Socialist candidate Foreign Minister Georgi
Pirinski nor opposition candidate Petar Stoyanov "have anything
reasonable to offer." He said Stoyanov's victory over him in the
primaries was the result of "massive manipulation" but did not give
further details. -- Stefan Krause

BULGARIAN GOVERNMENT RAISES PENSIONS, MINIMUM WAGE. The government has
retroactively raised the minimum monthly pension to 2,160 leva ($11.50)
as of 1 July, Standart reported on 16 July. This move is to partially
compensate for inflation--consumer prices rose by 20.3% in June alone.
The minimum monthly wage has been increased to 4,000 leva, while public
employees are to receive a 20% increase, although no single hike may
exceed 3,000 leva. The government forecasts that inflation will fall to
3.1% in August and amount to 100.9% for the year. The trade unions,
however, predict at least 200% inflation for 1996. -- Michael Wyzan

ALBANIAN DAILY THREATENED WITH BANKRUPTCY. With debts exceeding
$300,000, Koha Jone is facing closure, international agencies reported
on 16 July. Editor-in-chief Alexander Frangaj, who owns 40% of shares in
the newspaper, resigned on 14 July, accusing publisher Nikolle Lesi of
incompetence. The Demokracija printing house has refused to print any
more issues of Koha Jone until it pays off its debts. Koha Jone has been
a symbol of the independent media since its foundation in 1991 and has
frequently been harassed by the authorities. The paper's decline was
expedited by Lesi and Frangaj's using it as a platform for their
election campaign in May.-- Fabian Schmidt

MULTINATIONAL MILITARY EXERCISES IN ALBANIA. Troops from Albania, the
U.S., Bulgaria, Greece, Italy, Macedonia, Romania, Turkey, and Slovenia
have begun a joint military exercise code-named "Peaceful Eagle 96"
within the framework of NATO's Partnership for Peace Program, Reuters
reported. The week-long exercise involves 2,000 troops and is taking
place in the Martanesh mountains east of Tirana. It is the largest
multinational exercise held so far in Albania. -- Fabian Schmidt

[As of 12:00 CET]

Compiled by Jan Cleave

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