Much unhappiness has come into the world because of bewilderment and things left unsaid. - Dostoevsky
OMRI DAILY DIGEST

No. 160, Part II, 19 August 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

CRIMEAN SEPARATIST FAIL TO FORCE SPECIAL PARLIAMENTARY SESSIONS.
Separatist forces in Crimea, demanding greater autonomy for their
region, failed to garner the support of lawmakers to call special
sessions of the Ukrainian and Crimean legislatures, Ukrainian
agencies reported on 17-18 August. Nine legislators out of 35 in
Kyiv who had backed the effort withdrew their signatures at the
last moment from a petition demanding an extraordinary session to
amend the new national constitution in favor of more Crimean
autonomy. Serhii Tsekov, former Crimean assembly speaker, initiated
the petition for the special session, which by law requires 33
signatures. Tsekov's drive to call a special session of the
regional legislature on 17 August also failed to garner the support
of the required number of deputies. Tsekov and the Rossiya bloc had
hoped legislators would vote to hold a regionwide referendum on
provisions in the new Ukrainian constitution that, they feel,
afford the region insufficient powers. They also aimed to call a
vote of confidence in Crimean Prime Minister Arkadii Demydenko. --
Chrystyna Lapychak

UKRAINIAN-U.S. NAVAL EXERCISES. The flagship of the U.S. 6th Fleet,
the USS La Salle, was in Odessa from 16 to 18 August, NTV and UNIAN
reported. U.S. Vice Adm. Charles Abbott called joint naval
exercises and working visits the most effective ways of
consolidating cooperation between the two countries' navies within
NATO's Partnership for Peace program. He said the exercises
demonstrate America's commitment to Eastern Europe. Abbott was in
Odessa on Ukrainian Commander Volodymyr Bezkorovainy's birthday.
U.S. naval representatives plan four more visits to Ukraine this
year, and two Ukrainian warships are to participate in joint naval
exercises in the United States in September. -- Ustina Markus

MORE ON BELARUSIAN PRESIDENT'S HRODNA SPEECH. President Alyaksandr
Lukashenka gave a lengthy speech in Hrodna on 15 August urging the
Belarusian electorate to support him in a 7 November referendum,
Belarusian television reported. Lukashenka told the public that
there is no need for the 24 November parliamentary by-elections and
that the 200 deputies already elected are sufficient for a country
the size of Belarus. He also recommended votes against the right to
buy and sell property and against the abolition of the death
penalty. Lukashenka announced that his amended version of the
constitution would be published on 3 September and debated 11 days
later at the first Belarusian National Congress by 6,000 people
representing all of the country's regions. Lukashenka praised
Russian President Boris Yeltsin for writing off Belarus's debts but
criticized Moscow for not implementing the customs union. He also
assured the public that Russia would continue to offer Belarus oil
and gas for less than world prices. He made a sensational
revelation when he said he had been offered $10 billion by the West
for the radar station near Baranovichy used by Russian troops, but
he said he would not trade his friendship with Russia for Western
money. -- Ustina Markus

MERI AGREES TO SEEK ESTONIAN PRESIDENCY. Incumbent Lennart Meri
held an impromptu press conference on 16 August following a visit
by 21 parliamentary deputies supporting his candidacy for Estonia's
presidency, ETA reported. Meri announced that he had accepted the
proposal and expected to receive the necessary 68 of 101 votes from
legislators on 26 August. Another possible candidate, Rural
People's Party Chairman Arnold Ruutel, said he would decide whether
to run after his party's congress on 21 August. Center Party
Chairman Edgar Savisaar the next day called Meri's decision to run
"rash," since, according to Savisaar, Meri is unlikely to get 68
votes and other candidates will appear in the next round. --
Saulius Girnius

LATVIAN, RUSSIAN PRIME MINISTERS DISCUSS IMPROVING RELATIONS.
Andris Skele telephoned Viktor Chernomyrdin on 16 August and
accepted an invitation for a short working visit to Moscow in early
September, BNS reported. Skele congratulated Chernomyrdin on his
recent reappointment as prime minister and expressed the hope of
further developing bilateral relations, especially economic
relations. Chernomyrdin said he would appoint his deputy Valerii
Serov as the Russian head of a Latvian-Russian intergovernmental
commission to discuss the completion of unconcluded bilateral
agreements on such topics as air communications and the avoidance
of double taxation. The commission, whose formation was agreed upon
in late 1994 but has never met, would also review Russia's decision
to abolish beginning on 1 September lower railroad rates for
Russian cargo passing through Latvia. -- Saulius Girnius

RUSSIA DISMISSES ITS AMBASSADOR TO LITHUANIA. President Boris
Yeltsin signed a decree on 15 August relieving Nikolai Obertyshev
of his duties as ambassador to Lithuania because of a transfer to
another post, ITAR-TASS reported. Lithuanian Foreign Minister
Povilas Gylys told BNS the next day that he had not yet received
official notification of the change. Gylys expressed the hope that
the appointment of a new ambassador would not change the character
of Lithuanian-Russian relations. Unconfirmed reports state that
Russia's ambassador to Tajikistan, Mechyslau Sienkevich, a 59-year-
old ethnic Belarusian known for his advocacy of imperial policies,
may replace Obertyshev. -- Saulius Girnius

RUSSIAN AIRLINER MAKES EMERGENCY LANDING IN WARSAW. An Aeroflot
airliner on a flight from Rome to St. Petersburg made an
unscheduled landing at Warsaw's Okecie International Airport on 18
August after receiving a warning that there was a bomb onboard, PAP
reported the same day. Police searched the plane but found nothing.
Following the search, the plane, with 144 passengers, resumed its
flight to St. Petersburg. Airport authorities said they would issue
a detailed statement on 19 August. -- Jiri Pehe

POLAND'S UNIATE CHURCH MARKS 400th ANNIVERSARY. Three days of
ceremonies commemorating the founding of the Uniate Church in
Poland culminated on 18 August in the town of Jaroslaw, PAP
reported. The Uniate Church was founded in 1596 in the so-called
Union of Brest. Under the union, the Orthodox bishops accepted the
authority of the pope, while retaining their Byzantine liturgy,
priests' right to marry, and their own hierarchy. The church was
founded partly to strengthen Poland's rule over its eastern
territories, embracing much of Ukraine. In 1946, Stalin outlawed
the church in the Soviet Union, forcing it to merge with the
Russian Orthodox Church. Since the fall of communism, it has
enjoyed a revival. On 18 August, papal envoy Achille Silvestrini
adorned with diamonds and a crown a famous icon of the Virgin Mary
in a Jaroslaw church. Tens of thousands of pilgrims, many of them
from Belarus and Ukraine, also gathered on 18 August at the Gabarka
shrine near the Belarusian border. -- Jiri Pehe

SLOVAK PRIME MINISTER ON RELATIONS WITH HUNGARY. Speaking on Slovak
Radio on 16 August, Vladimir Meciar commented on the declaration
issued at last month's ethnic Hungarian summit in Budapest that
called for autonomy for ethnic Hungarians in neighboring countries.
Meciar said the declaration is a continuance of the "permanent
effort, apparent in Slovakia since 1918, to renew greater Hungary
under various pretexts." He continued: "We understand these
autonomy [efforts] as the first step. . . . We have the right to
request that the Hungarian government publicly distance itself from
the signing of the document as an act that conflicts with
international law." The Slovak prime minister added, however, that
such a distancing is not a condition for a meeting with his
Hungarian counterpart, Gyula Horn. Meciar said his recently
canceled meeting with Horn had been postponed after "mutual
agreement." -- Sharon Fisher

SLOVAK POLITICAL ROUNDUP. Prime Minister Vladimir Meciar attended
the inauguration of the second of Slovakia's eight new
administrative regions in Nitra on 18 August, Slovak media
reported. Meciar stressed the importance of the new administrative
plan, the main goal of which is "decentralization and bringing the
state administration closer to the citizen." The Hungarian minority
accounts for more than 30% of the population in the Nitra region,
and the publicly elected mayors of three Hungarian-dominated
districts refused to attend the ceremony. Ethnic Hungarian
politicians have criticized the new system, as have opposition
representatives, who claim it strengthens the position of Meciar's
Movement for a Democratic Slovakia. -- Sharon Fisher

CARTER AWARDED PRIZE IN HUNGARY. Former U.S. President Jimmy Carter
on 17 August received Hungary's Order of Merit for contributing to
the development of bilateral ties and for returning St. Stephen's
crown in 1978, international media reported. The crown, a Hungarian
national symbol, was confiscated by the Nazis during World War II
and later captured by Americans. It remained in the United States
until Carter returned it to Hungary. Hungarian President Arpad
Goncz noted that the crown's return "fundamentally changed
bilateral relations and triggered the process of deep change [in
Hungary]." Last week, Carter and his wife, Rosalynn, helped build
10 new houses for the socially disadvantaged in the northern
Hungarian town of Vac under the auspices of U.S.-based Habitat for
Humanity. Carter and his wife were given the key to the city of
Budapest by Mayor Gabor Demszky, and Carter announced Habitat for
Humanity's plans to build houses in Budapest for Roma. -- Sharon
Fisher

HUNGARIAN OPINION POLL RESULTS. A poll carried out by Szonda Ipsos
showed that trust in the Hungarian government was up slightly in
July over the previous month, reaching 51.7%, Hungarian media
reported on 17 August. Among the individual ministers, respondents
had the most trust in Foreign Minister Laszlo Kovacs (69%),
followed by Defense Minister Gyorgy Keleti (61%). Prime Minister
Gyula Horn had the trust of only 49% of respondents, putting him in
ninth place. The most popular politician was President Arpad Goncz,
with the trust of 75% of respondents in July. Kovacs was next with
65%, followed by Budapest Mayor Gabor Demszky with 62%. -- Sharon
Fisher

SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE

'OPERATION VOLCANO' UNDER WAY AMID SERBIAN CRITICISMS, THREAT. IFOR
troops destroyed the first batch of contraband Bosnian Serb
munitions on 19 August, international media reported. The batch,
reportedly comprising several hundred tons of material, was part of
an ammunition dump consisting of "rockets, packets of TNT, small
arms ammunition, and about 5,700 cases of anti-tank and anti-
personnel mines" found in a former schoolhouse in Margetici two
weeks ago, Onasa reported on 18 August. Onasa added that the
Bosnian Serb reaction to the destruction was hostile, with the
Bosnian Serb army dubbing the destruction plan, or Operation
Volcano, "a very dangerous provocation" and saying the munitions
dump was kept in accordance with the terms of the Dayton accord.
Destroying the rest of the munitions is expected to take nearly a
week. -- Stan Markotich

OPPOSITION SUPPORTERS ATTACKED IN BOSNIA. The day after three
separate explosions occurred in the northwestern Bosnian city of
Cazin, Alexander Ivanko, a UN spokesman, noted on 16 August that
violent harassment of opposition-party supporters continues there,
Onasa reported. Explosive devices were aimed at the homes of three
people campaigning on behalf of opposition candidates in Bosnia's
upcoming elections. No injuries were reported. Ivanko said the
International Police Task Force was encouraging the Cazin police to
conduct a full investigation, but one of the victims said he did
not trust the police force, which, he said, had harassed him.
Meanwhile, the Joint List of Bosnia-Herzegovina, a coalition of
five opposition parties, issued a statement complaining that the
regional police in Bihac on 15 August confiscated the coalition's
campaign posters and leaflets, Oslobodjenje reported on 18 August.
-- Daria Sito Sucic

BOSNIAN SERBS APOLOGIZE FOR VOTER MANIPULATION. The ruling Serbian
Democratic Party (SDS) on 17 August issued a public apology for
using humanitarian aid to manipulate voters in the towns of Doboj
and Modrica, Reuters reported. The apology was prompted by the OSCE
(see OMRI Daily Digest, 16 August 1996). In other news, the
international community's high representative for Bosnia, Carl
Bildt, visited Srebrenica and Zvornik. He warned SDS officials
there that they risk disqualification from Bosnia's elections
unless Radovan Karadzic posters disappear, Reuters reported on 18
August. An SDS official in Srebrenica said the international
community can eliminate Karadzic from public life but cannot forbid
people to love him. Srebrenica officials complained to Bildt about
such problems as a shortage of running water and electricity. In
response to pleas for help, Bildt said Bosnian Serb leaders have
refused international assistance earmarked for Bosnia-Herzegovina
because they want their own independent state. -- Daria Sito Sucic

SERBIAN GENERAL KILLED IN CROATIA. Milorad Miscevic, a retired 75-
year-old ethnic Serbian general of the former Yugoslav army, was
reportedly killed in Vrebac on 14 August when a mine planted at his
doorstep exploded, AFP reported on 18 August, citing Novi list.
Croatia's Interior Ministry has said it is investigating the
incident but would neither confirm nor deny reports linking
Miscevic's death to the circumstances mentioned by Novi list. AFP
also reported that "a number of sometimes deadly attacks" have been
made against mostly elderly Serbs residing in parts of Croatia that
were reclaimed in 1995 from rebel Serbs. -- Stan Markotich

BELGRADE DELEGATION IN ZAGREB, AND VICE VERSA. A Foreign Ministry
delegation from Belgrade arrived in Zagreb on 16 August. The
delegation, on a two-day visit, was reportedly charged with helping
arrange the "final details" of an agreement that would move Croatia
and Serbia-Montenegro toward a normalization of relations, Hina
reported that same day. On 19 August, Nasa Borba reported that a
Foreign Ministry delegation from Zagreb was to arrive in Belgrade
that day to continue talks. These latest rounds of diplomatic
activity follow in the wake of a 7 August summit between Croatian
President Franjo Tudjman and Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic,
held near Athens, where both leaders agreed in principle on a
normalization of relations. Croatian Foreign Minister Mate Granic
is slated to meet his Belgrade counterpart, Milan Milutinovic, on
23 August in Belgrade. -- Stan Markotich

AIR TRAGEDY NEAR BELGRADE. A Russian transport plane crashed near
the Belgrade airport early on 19 August, reportedly killing all 12
people aboard. One security official said the plane's cargo was
class "B"--that is, consisting of military supplies, Reuters
reported. Witnesses and airport officials said the craft exploded
into a giant fireball before collapsing in a cornfield near the
airport. -- Stan Markotich

KOSOVO ALBANIANS WILL BOYCOTT RUMP YUGOSLAV ELECTIONS. Kosovar
shadow state President Ibrahim Rugova on 16 August said ethnic
Albanians in Kosovo will boycott the 3 November rump Yugoslav
elections, AFP reported. He said the Kosovars "have held [their own
elections], and thus the elected body is legitimate and legal."
Meanwhile, Albanian President Sali Berisha rejected rumors that
Albania wants to annex Kosovo. In an interview with the Austrian
daily Die Presse, he said that Albania respects other countries'
borders but would "not tolerate a division of [Kosovo] or any
ethnic-cleansing campaigns." He said he favors negotiations
involving Tirana, Belgrade, and a third party on the Kosovo
problem. Berisha said that the situation of Kosovo's Albanians has
deteriorated significantly since the signing of the Dayton
agreement in December 1995. -- Stefan Krause

U.S. WELCOMES ROMANIAN-HUNGARIAN BASIC TREATY. The U.S. State
Department on 15 August welcomed the successful negotiation of a
bilateral basic treaty between Romania and Hungary, RFE/RL reported
the following day. The statement described the agreement as a
"significant breakthrough" that demonstrates the two countries'
commitment to European integration. Meanwhile, politicians in
Hungary and Romania continued to react to the event. Hungarian
Foreign Minister Laszlo Kovacs on 16 August told representatives of
parliamentary parties that Budapest had "made no concessions" to
the Romanian side. A spokesman for Romanian President Ion Iliescu
on 17 August described as "an act of gross disinformation" a
statement released by Gheorghe Funar, the leader of the
chauvinistic Party of Romanian National Unity, warning of dangers
posed by the treaty. The extreme-nationalist Greater Romania Party
called for the postponement of the treaty's signing until after the
November presidential and parliamentary elections. -- Dan Ionescu

MOLDOVAN DEFENSE MINISTER CRITICIZES SNEGUR. Gen. Pavel Creanga
renewed accusations that President Mircea Snegur, who is also the
country's supreme commander, was hindering his activity, BASA-press
reported on 17 August. The attack came in an interview published in
Pamant si Oameni (Land and People), the mouthpiece of the ruling
Agrarian Democratic Party of Moldova. Creanga further suggested
that the president is trying to take control of the army through
orders that lack any legal basis. According to Creanga, Snegur's
ultimate goal is to provoke a crisis to justify the proclamation of
a state of emergency and the establishment of direct presidential
rule in the Republic of Moldova. Creanga had been dismissed by
Snegur on 15 March for inability to stem corruption at his
ministry. The Constitutional Court, however, reinstated Creanga on
4 April. -- Dan Ionescu

BULGARIAN ROUNDUP. Interior Minister Nikolay Dobrev on 18 August
announced new measures against rising street crime, Standart
reported. After a meeting of high-level police and intelligence
officials, Dobrev said video cameras would be put up at strategic
locations in big cities and that new police cars and uniforms would
be introduced. Dobrev said that the fight against crime has thus
far been "ineffective and inadequate." On 17 August, police
conducted a major raid in Sofia, reclaiming eight stolen cars and
arresting three suspects. In other news, the U.S. oil company Amoco
announced plans to invest $50 million to build a network of about
50 filling stations in Bulgaria, Pari reported. That would make
Amoco one of the biggest foreign investors in Bulgaria. The first
Amoco station is scheduled to open in Burgas on 14 September. --
Stefan Krause

ALBANIAN ROUNDUP. Albania's opposition parties on 16 August
rejected an offer by the ruling Democratic Party to participate in
round-table talks regarding the upcoming local elections,
international media reported. The Socialist Party and six other
opposition parties in a joint statement objected to the election
date and to President Sali Berisha's decision to create an
electoral commission by decree, without consulting them. The
opposition demands a review of the local-elections law and new
parliamentary elections by the end of 1997. In other news, Greek
Foreign Minister Theodoros Pangalos plans to visit Albania in late
August to discuss improving bilateral relations. Greek Prime
Minister Kostas Simitis will reportedly visit Albania at the end of
1996. Relations greatly improved after Albania announced the
opening of Greek-language schools and Athens pledged to legalize
the status of most of the approximately 300,000 Albanians living in
Greece. -- Stefan Krause


[As of 12:00 CET]

Compiled by Tim Rostan

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