The fool wonders, the wise man asks. - Benjamin Disraeli
OMRI DAILY DIGEST

No. 142, Part I, 24 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

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CENTRAL AND EASTERN EUROPE

U.S. HOUSE CALLS FOR NATO EXPANSION. The House of Representatives on 23
July called for expansion of the military alliance and authorized up to
$60 million to help Poland, the Czech Republic, and Hungary to prepare
for membership, Reuters reported on 23 July. The leading applicant
countries were said to have made the most progress on meeting NATO
criteria. But the bill left the timetable for these countries' entry
uncertain. According to the measure, which yet has to be taken up by the
Senate, the aid could be extended to other countries of the region in
the future upon the approval of the U.S. president. Representative
Benjamin Gilman, who serves as chairman of the International Relations
Committee, said neither the United States nor the new European
democracies "can afford to wait any longer" and the bill was needed to
keep pressure on the US administration to seek prompt enlargement of
NATO. -- Zsofia Szilagyi

UKRAINE READY TO NEGOTIATE WITH RUSSIA. Foreign Minister Hennadii
Udovenko said Ukraine has invited Russia to restart negotiations in all
areas of cooperation, UNIAN reported on 23 July. He said there are plans
to invite his Russian counterpart, Yevgenii Primakov, to Ukraine. In
addition, activities of a joint commission headed by the prime ministers
of Russia and Ukraine are to be stepped up, Ukrainian Prime Minister
Pavlo Lazarenko is to pay an official visit to Russia, and negotiations
on border issues should begin. During the Russian elections, there was
no progress in negotiations on the long-delayed treaty on friendship and
cooperation. It is hoped that headway on the treaty will be made when
Yeltsin meets with his Ukrainian counterpart Leonid Kuchma in August
during his inauguration in Moscow. -- Ustina Markus

UKRAINIAN COAL MINERS DEMAND RELEASE OF ARRESTED UNION LEADERS. Two coal
mines held a day-long strike and nearly 1,000 miners held a rally in
Krasnodon to demand the release of two local union leaders arrested for
organizing recent strikes in the country's coal mining region, Ukrainian
agencies reported on 22-23 July. Petro Kyt and Mykhailo Skrynsky, local
independent miners' union leaders, were arrested on 18 July and charged
with disrupting public order by organizing illegal mass strikes and
blocking railroads. The latest round of strikes by coal mines demanding
payment of back wages owed them by the Ukrainian government ended
recently when the miners and Kyiv signed an agreement outlining a
payment schedule. In the meantime, Ukrainian radio reported on 22 July
that the government had allocated 1 trillion karbovantsi ($5.4 million)
for payment of wage arrears to employees of the mine-construction
industry and for the industry's restructuring. -- Chrystyna Lapychak

BELARUSIAN PRESIDENT IN TURKEY. Alyaksandr Lukashenka arrived in Turkey
on 24 June for a three-day official visit to sign a treaty on friendship
and cooperation, ITAR-TASS reported. Lukashenka is to meet with his
Turkish counterpart Suleiman Demirel to conclude agreements on double
taxation, cooperation in tourism and in fighting organized crime, drug
trafficking, and terrorism. A Turkish bank will offer Belarus a $20
million credit. -- Ustina Markus

RUSSIAN DEPUTY PRIME MINISTER IN BELARUS. Russian deputy Prime Minister
Aleksei Bolshakov was in Minsk on 22 July for talks on problems with the
Russian-Belarusian customs union, Russian Public Television reported.
Minsk has asked Moscow to impose tariffs on practically all imported
consumer goods because it wants to protect its own producers from
competition from cheaper imports. Moscow is unwilling to do that, and
the customs union appears to be threatened. The visit comes after
Belarusian President Alyaksandr Lukashenka criticized Russia for not
honoring the terms of the union, and failing to write off Belarus's gas
debt even though Minsk allows Russian troops to remain in Belarus free
of charge. -- Ustina Markus

SEVASTOPOL OPENED TO FOREIGN SHIPPING. Sevastopol has opened its port to
foreign non-military shipping, AFP reported on 23 July. The city had
been closed to foreigners until last year as a security precaution
because it was the main base of the Black Sea Fleet. The city's
authorities have decided to develop it as a tourist attraction and
commercial seaport. -- Ustina Markus

ESTONIA'S COALITION AND PROGRESS PARTIES SIGN COOPERATION AGREEMENT. The
Coalition Party and the Progress Party (Arengupartei) signed a
cooperation agreement on 23 July in Tallinn, ETA reported. The two
parties could not forge a formal alliance for the October local
elections because the Progress Party had not officially registered with
the National Election Committee by the 17 July deadline. It has only 260
members and 1,000 members were needed in order to register. The party
was founded in late May by former members of the Center Party
dissatisfied with the return of Edgar Savisaar as that party's leader.
Coalition Party head Tiit Vahi said that its ruling alliance partner,
the Reform Party, had approved the cooperation agreement. -- Saulius
Girnius

EXTRADITION OF WAR CRIMINALS TO LITHUANIA DEMANDED. The public Baltic
Unity Organization (BVO) demanded on 22 July that war criminals Petras
Raslanas and Noachim Dusanski be extradited from Russia and Israel,
respectively, to Lithuania, BNS reported the next day. They are accused
of participating in the NKVD -organized murder of 74 people in the
Rainiai forest in 1941. Noting that the Simon Wiesenthal Center had
successfully prosecuted a number of people involved in the killing of
Jews in Nazi-occupied countries, BVO Chairman Vytautas Nezgada said that
the center could aid in extraditing the two war criminals and clarifying
crimes committed against other nationalities. At the end of June, 10
Seimas opposition deputies circulated a statement urging President
Algirdas Brazauskas to demand the extradition of Raslanas and Dusanski.
-- Saulius Girnius

POLISH ECONOMIC RECOVERY CONTINUES. Preliminary data for the first half
of 1996 released 23 July by the Central Statistical Office show
continued strong economic growth in Poland. Polish dailies reported the
following day that industrial production was up 7.9% and real wages grew
by 6.1% over mid-1995 levels, while the unemployment rate fell to 14.8%,
its lowest level since 1992. However, consumer prices during the first
half of the year rose by 11.4%, while the trade deficit climbed to $2.6
billion. While above-forecast figures for inflation, the trade deficit,
real wage growth, and the government budget deficit suggest that the
Polish economy may be overheating, they are not dramatically out of line
with last year's numbers. Likewise, the Polish economy appears to be on
track for realizing the official forecast of 5.5-6.0% real GDP growth in
1996. The Polish economic recovery, which began in 1992, is the longest
and most durable in Eastern Europe. -- Ben Slay

CZECH PRESIDENT URGES OPPOSITION TO APPROVE GOVERNMENT. Vaclav Havel, in
a speech to the parliament on 23 July, urged opposition deputies to
approve the minority coalition government led by Vaclav Klaus, Czech
media reported. Havel argued that the government's composition and
program were good, and should be given a chance. The opposition Social
Democrats (CSSD) have threatened to vote against the government, the
main sticking point being its plan to return, by decree, a large number
of properties to the Catholic Church. The CSSD proposed on 23 July that
the parliament approve a resolution taking the restitution of Church
property out of the government's hands and requesting that the
parliament first approve a special restitution law. However, the
parliament would not put the proposal on the agenda of its current
session, giving the government a surprising victory. -- Jiri Pehe

SLOVAK PRIVATIZATION TO CONTINUE DESPITE CONTROVERSY. National Property
Fund (FNM) Presidium President Stefan Gavornik told Slovak Radio on 23
July that direct sale privatization projects will continue although the
opposition remains unrepresented on the FNM's boards. During June's
coalition crisis, Prime Minister Vladimir Meciar reportedly signed an
agreement with the opposition Party of the Democratic Left (SDL)
guaranteeing that privatization would be halted until the FNM boards are
reconstructed. Gavornik stressed "it is not possible to stop the
privatization processŠsince the Presidium's most important role is to
issue decisions on direct sale privatization projects." The FNM
Presidium is expected to decide on about 30 direct sale privatization
projects on 25 July. Meanwhile, SDL deputy chairwoman Brigita
Schmoegnerova said that if Meciar breaks his pledge, her party will
publish the agreement's contents, Narodna obroda reported on 23 July. --
Sharon Fisher

SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE

BOMB EXPLODES AT UN POLICE STATION ON SERB TERRITORY. An explosive
device went off late on 22 July outside an International Police Task
Force (IPTF) office in Doboj in northern Bosnia, news agencies reported.
There were no injuries or casualties. The IPTF monitors local police
forces and will play a key security role in the fall elections. The
latest bombing fits into a pattern of intimidation and threats against
the IPTF on Bosnian Serb territory. -- Patrick Moore

SERBS ALREADY BREAKING LATEST ELECTION AGREEMENT. The governing Serbian
Democratic Party (SDS) has used Radovan Karadzic as a vote-getter in an
ad in Vesti, a daily aimed at Serbs living abroad, Onasa reported on 22
July. The text appealed for votes for some of his staunch supporters,
including acting President Billjana Plavsic, parliament speaker Momcilo
Krajisnik, and Foreign Minister Aleksa Buha. The ad said that "they are
the closest partners of Radovan Karadzic, who is the best fighter for a
free and democratic Republika Srpska. Our enemies hate him because he
cannot be blackmailed and because he will not sell at any price the
Republika Srpska, which was obtained [so] painfully. He is a symbol of
Serb heroism and many rightly compare him to the greatest figures of our
history," Beta stated. U.S. envoy Richard Holbrooke clinched a deal on
19 July requiring the indicted war criminal and SDS chairman to withdraw
from politics--including media appearances--so that the 14 September
elections can go ahead with SDS participation. The OSCE said it will
raise the issue with the SDS, Reuters reported. -- Patrick Moore

UN STARTS WORK ON THIRD MASS GRAVE. International forensic and
archeological experts began work on 24 July on a third site believed to
contain the remains of Muslim males executed by the Serbs following the
fall of Srebrenica one year ago. Evidence from other graves points to a
huge massacre of civilians, many of whom had their hands wired together
behind their backs. The Serbs claim that the men are military
casualties, but chief investigator William Haglund told Reuters: "I
don't know how many soldiers fight with their hands tied behind them."
But a local Serb resident said that "there are bodies there. We plow
them up all the time, but they are all of Serbs whom the Turks [Muslims]
killed. Why is it that the world blames us Serbs, when everyone was
involved in a war?" -- Patrick Moore

EU TRIES TO NEGOTIATE AFTER CROATIAN BOYCOTT OF MOSTAR CITY COUNCIL. At
a meeting with Michael Steiner, deputy to the international community's
High Representative Carl Bildt, and EU envoy Tom Bolster, Croatian
Democratic Community (HDZ) leader Mile Puljic, whose party boycotted the
opening session of the Mostar City Council on 23 July, claimed he did
not receive proper notification of the session, AFP reported. After the
meeting with international officials, Puljic said that the "conversation
wasn't fruitful." EU spokesman Tom Walker said there was no sign that an
agreement was imminent, Reuters reported. The HDZ is pushing for a joint
interim administrative body that would run the city pending a final
decision on whether to annul the controversial 30 June elections.
Meanwhile, Croat West Mostar mayor Mijo Brajkovic said that "whatever
the [new city] council decided today is completely irrelevant for us"
and threatened not to extend the EU administration's mandate. -- Fabian
Schmidt

BRUSSELS CONFERENCE ON BOSNIA'S RECONSTRUCTION OPENS. Representatives of
200 European companies and banks on 23 July attended the meeting called
by the European Commission to bid for Bosnia's reconstruction program,
Nasa Borba reported. Hans Van den Brock, EU commissioner for central and
southeast Europe, said the success of Bosnia's reconstruction will
greatly determine the future and even survival of Bosnia-Herzegovina as
a state. Van den Brock also said that the war damage in Bosnia-
Herzegovina has been estimated to be between $30 and $50 billion. The
international community has pledged $5 billion for reconstruction of
Bosnia, of which $1.8 billion will be spent by the end of 1996. More
than one third of this amount has been pledged by the EU. U.S. companies
have already started business negotiations in Bosnia. -- Daria Sito
Sucic

BOSNIAN DELEGATION IN SERBIA. Bosnian Vice-President Ejup Ganic led 15-
member delegation that arrived in Belgrade on 23 July for a landmark
visit designed to restore contacts and promote bilateral trade, Nasa
Borba reported on 24 July. The arrival of the Bosnian delegation is the
first such since war broke out in Bosnia and Herzegovina four years ago,
and observers have hailed the development as the first significant step
towards possible mutual reconciliation. Ganic, who met with Serbian
President Slobodan Milosevic, said just prior to departing that his was
a "risky step for me but a very sure and safe step for Bosnia," Reuters
reported. Ganic, who advocated strong military resistance to Serbian
aggression, was throughout the conflict dubbed "a war criminal" by the
Belgrade state-run media. After meeting with Milosevic, Ganic remarked
that talks were "open, straightforward. The two countries are closer
than they were before." -- Stan Markotich

LJUBLJANA, BELGRADE TAKE SHOWDOWN TO OFFSHORE BANKS? Belgrade's assets
in Cyprus have been frozen by court order, Nasa Borba reported first on
22 July. Beobank director Borka Vucic initially responded saying "our
resources are not blockaded." Reuters, however, quoted Cypriot lawyer
Evros Evripido, acting for the Slovenian government, as saying on 22
July that Ljubljana was seeking its share of assets, totaling some $650
million. Efforts to freeze the assets stemmed from the position that as
a former Yugoslav republic, Slovenia had both a right and obligation to
maintain a portion of those federal assets now hidden on Cyprus. The
issue of resources in Cyprus is of paramount concern to Belgrade, which
likely weathered the storm of sanctions by dipping into the cash
reserves ensconced on the island. Slovenia's case is slated for a 29
July hearing, and on 23 July Nasa Borba added that other claimants are
surfacing. -- Stan Markotich

ROMANIA FEARS NATO BASES IN HUNGARY. Defense Minister Gheorghe Tinca
said in an interview with the Hungarian daily Magyar Nemzet that his
country fears that the setting up of NATO bases on Hungarian territory
might encourage "Hungarian extremist forces," the daily Evenimentul
zilei reported on 24 July. Tinca said these forces might believe the
NATO presence would make it possible for them to achieve "their decades-
long dream" of "recuperating Transylvania." -- Michael Shafir

UNEMPLOYMENT IN MOLDOVA. According to data released by the Moldovan
State Statistics Department, 26,100 persons were officially registered
as unemployed, two thirds of whom were women, Infotag reported on 23
July. About 28% of those unemployed receive unemployment benefits
averaging 68 lei (about $15.50) per month. In addition, 124,000 persons
were on forced leave, the average duration of which is 39 days. --
Michael Shafir

SOCIALIST CANDIDATE BARRED FROM BULGARIAN PRESIDENTIAL ELECTIONS. A
decision of the Constitutional Court on 23 July effectively prevents
Foreign Minister Georgi Pirinski from seeking the country's presidency,
RFE/RL reported. Under the constitution, the president must be
"Bulgarian by birth." Pirinski, who was born in New York in 1948 to the
family of a Bulgarian emigre, could not acquire immediate Bulgarian
citizenship under the citizenship law valid at that time since he
already had U.S. citizenship by birth. Nine of the 12 judges ruled that
whether someone is "Bulgarian by birth" is determined by the legislation
valid at his birth. The opposition had asked the court to rule on the
question. Judge Ivan Grigorov said the ruling was not directed against
any single person. Pirinski can still be registered with the Central
Electoral Commission, but his candidacy could then be overruled by the
commission or the Supreme Court. -- Stefan Krause

BULGARIAN SOCIALISTS SAY PIRINSKI REMAINS THEIR CANDIDATE. The Bulgarian
Socialist Party (BSP) reacted harshly to the latest Constitutional Court
ruling. The BSP daily Duma called the decision political and claimed
that the judges violated the constitution. BSP parliamentary faction
leader Krasimir Premyanov said Pirinski remains the party's candidate
despite the Constitutional Court's ruling, but Kontinent cites unnamed
sources as saying the BSP is already looking for a new candidate.
Pirinski himself has not commented on the ruling so far, but he is
expected to make a statement on 24 July. Pirinski is widely seen as the
only Socialist candidate who can win the presidential elections in the
fall. The Union of Democratic Forces daily Demokratsiya called on the
BSP to withdraw Pirinski's candidacy and said the BSP should not have
nominated him in the first place if it is worried about society's
stability. -- Stefan Krause

ROMA COVERED WITH FUEL AND BURNT IN ALBANIA. At least four men on 17
July kidnapped three teenage Roma near Tirana's train station, took them
to a field outside the city, robbed and then tortured them for some
three hours, the European Roma Rights Center reported on 22 July. They
reportedly then poured gas over the head of 15-year-old Fatmir Haxhiu
and set him on fire. He was able to testify to human rights
organizations before he died of severe injuries on 21 July. Two of the
culprits have reportedly been arrested. There was no independent
confirmation of the incident. -- Fabian Schmidt

[As of 12:00 CET]

Compiled by Carla Atkinson

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