The greatest happiness is to know the source of unhappiness. - Dostoevsky
OMRI DAILY DIGEST

No. 162, Part II, 21 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

CIVIC CONGRESS APPEALS TO COUNCIL OF EUROPE. The leftist Civic
Congress of Ukraine has appealed to the Council of Europe and
various international trade unions and human-rights organizations
to pressure the Ukrainian government to pay its huge wage debt to
public-sector employees and end its crackdown on leaders of the
coal miners' union, UNIAR reported on 19 August. The group
complained that the government's debt to workers is "the most
blatant violation" of their rights and freedoms and claimed the
wage-arrears crisis had become a deliberate policy aimed at
attracting IMF credits. It said only large organized groups, such
as the miners' unions, that could inflict substantial losses by
striking, had a chance at dialogue with the government. The Civic
Congress's appeal also demanded the release of three organizers of
the July miners' strike who were arrested recently in what is seen
as a crackdown on independent labor unions. It complained that the
mass media have been intimidated by the government into toeing the
official line on these events. -- Chrystyna Lapychak

MORE ON TAIWANESE OFFICIAL'S VISIT TO UKRAINE. The visit of
Taiwanese Vice President Lien Chan to Ukraine has given rise to
controversy, international agencies reported on 20 and 21 August.
Ukraine recognizes the People's Republic of China and, in adherence
to Beijing's "one China" policy, does not have official diplomatic
relations with Taiwan. Ukraine's Foreign Ministry denied knowledge
of Lien's trip, which was explained as an unofficial visit at the
invitation of Kyiv University, where Lien was awarded an honorary
degree. China condemned the visit, saying it had political
overtones even if it was ostensibly a private visit. A Chinese
Foreign Ministry spokesman said Beijing was preparing to lodge an
official protest with Kyiv. Last year, Ukraine's trade with Taiwan
totaled $224.8 million, with Ukrainian exports to Taipei accounting
for $180 million. Ukraine's trade with China amounted to almost $1
billion and was also slanted in favor of Ukrainian exports. --
Ustina Markus

UKRAINIAN PRESIDENT PROMOTES OFFICIALS. Leonid Kuchma has issued a
decree upgrading the chairmanships of five state committees to the
level of cabinet ministerships, Ukrainian TV reported on 19 August.
The chiefs of the Anti-Monopoly Committee, the State Property Fund,
the Secret Service of Ukraine, the State Customs Committee, and the
Committee for the Defense of State Borders will now rank as
ministers. In other news, Prime Minister Pavlo Lazarenko promised
leaders of Ukraine's writers', artists', and cinematographers'
unions that he would determine the feasibility of allowing them tax
breaks and other privileges to support their artistic endeavors.
The groups asked Lazarenko to consider such aid especially for
Ukrainian-language book publishers, who have found it most
difficult to adapt to market conditions. The government has
allocated 455 billion karbovantsi ($2.4 million) in subsidies this
year to the unions, up from 316 billion karbovantsi last year. --
Chrystyna Lapychak

TRIALS OF UKRAINIANS BEGIN IN BELARUS. The trials of seven
Ukrainians arrested in Minsk for participating in the 26 April
Chornobyl anniversary demonstration began on 21 August, ITAR-TASS
reported. The Ukrainians allegedly belong to the radical
nationalist Ukrainian National Assembly-Ukrainian Self-Defense
Organization. The Belarusian press has frequently accused the
organization of cooperating with the nationalist Belarusian Popular
Front against Belarusian President Alyaksandr Lukashenka's pro-
Russian policies. The nearly four-month detention without trial of
the Ukrainians has strained relations between Ukraine and Belarus.
-- Ustina Markus

ROUND TABLE IN BELARUS. The leaders of some 15 parties and
movements are scheduled to meet on 21 August to hold a round-table
discussion on the political and socioeconomic situation in Belarus,
ITAR-TASS reported. Participants in the discussion will include
Agrarians, Communists, and members of the nationalist Belarusian
Popular Front. It is also expected that government representatives
will take part in the talks, though President Alyaksandr Lukashenka
has said he will not participate. One of the key points on the
agenda is a resolution calling for a five-year moratorium on
amendments to the constitution. Lukashenka plans to make a number
of changes to the document and have them approved in a national
referendum in November. -- Ustina Markus

BALTIC, NORDIC FOREIGN MINISTERS MEET. Latvian Foreign Minister
Valdis Birkavs hosted his counterparts from Estonia, Lithuania,
Norway, Sweden, Finland, Denmark, and Iceland in Riga on 20 August,
Baltic agencies reported. He said the ministers agreed that the
lifting of visa requirements would promote regional integration and
mutual contacts at various levels. While noting that the future
security structure of Europe cannot be created without the active
participation of Russia, they expressed support for NATO membership
for the Baltic states. They also stated that negotiations with the
EU on new members should begin simultaneously for all candidate
countries. It was the fourth meeting of the countries' foreign
ministers. -- Saulius Girnius

NEW LATVIAN AMBASSADOR TO LITHUANIA ACCREDITED. Ajis Sjanits
submitted his letter of accreditation to Lithuanian President
Algirdas Brazauskas on 20 August, Radio Lithuania reported. The
Latvian diplomat said his central task is to confirm and accelerate
the unity between Lithuania and Latvia in foreign policy and in
their common goal of membership in the EU and NATO. The unsettled
sea border and Latvia's plans to ratify oil-exploration agreements
with two foreign companies, however, cast a shadow over the
accreditation. The Foreign Ministry did not host the traditional
welcoming dinner for Sjanits, who also did not meet with Prime
Minister Mindaugas Stankevicius. -- Saulius Girnius

LITHUANIAN DEBTS TO GAZPROM. Prime Minister Mindaugas Stankevicius
met with Finance Minister Algimantas Krizinauskas, Energy Minister
Saulius Kutas, and Lietuvos Dujos Director Kestutis Sumacheris on
20 August to discuss the problem of debts to the Russian gas
supplier Gazprom, BNS reported. Kutas's promise to pay $7 million
in July and $8 million in August has been only partially fulfilled;
he also pledged that the republic would pay $31.7 million by the
start of the heating season. Gazprom has threatened to increase the
price of gas beginning on 1 September and to end gas supplies to
Lithuania next year if the debts are not paid. While Lithuanian
construction work in Moscow for Gazprom covers part of the debt,
the bulk of the debt is to be paid with two $10 million loans from
Swiss Union Bank. -- Saulius Girnius

POLAND TO CLAMP DOWN ON PRIVATE SECURITY COMPANIES. Prime Minister
Wlodzimierz Cimoszewicz on 20 August told reporters that the
Interior Ministry will present a bill to the cabinet later this
week regulating private security companies, Reuters reported. He
said the new legislation will specify conditions for granting
licenses, stipulate whom firms can and cannot hire, and ensure that
firearms are used acceptably. The move comes amid growing public
concern over violence involving private security companies. In the
latest such incident, a fight broke out last weekend at a border
crossing with Belarus over escorting traders from the former Soviet
Union to a large outdoor market in Warsaw. Hundreds of men attacked
a bus carrying employees of a security firm and were halted only
after an off-duty policeman on the bus fired at the ground. Seven
policemen have been suspended on suspicion of moonlighting for the
firm without permission. Cimoszewicz stressed that the police
should be prohibited from working for security companies during
their free time. -- Jan Cleave

JEWISH CEMETERIES IN POLAND REDEDICATED. Three Jewish cemeteries in
southern Poland were rededicated on 20 August by rabbis from the
U.S. and Israel, Western agencies reported. The cemeteries at
Sedziszow, Strzyzow, and Debica had been left neglected after World
War II, during which most of Poland's Jewish community perished at
the hands of the Nazis. Many of the tombstones have been restored
by the Nissenbaum Foundation, which has been working on neglected
Jewish cemeteries and synagogues in Poland since 1983. In a speech
during the rededication ceremony in Debica, Rabbi Hertz Frenkel
noted that "Jewish life in Poland is almost extinct. The least the
citizens of Poland can do is give the proper respect to those who
are buried in the existing cemeteries." -- Jan Cleave

CHINESE MILITARY DELEGATION VISITS CZECH REPUBLIC. A high-level
Chinese military delegation that arrived in the Czech Republic on
17 August for a five-day stay meant "to broaden and strengthen
Czech-Chinese military cooperation" visited the Tatra truck plant
in Koprivnice on 20 August, CTK reported. The report noted that
China has been one of Tatra's best customers, purchasing 400 trucks
this year. -- Doug Clarke

SLOVAK CABINET APPROVES DRAFT UNIVERSITY LAW. Marian Tolnay of the
Education Ministry's university department said the university
bill--passed by the government on 20 August--is "acceptable" to the
academic and scientific communities, Narodna obroda and CTK
reported. The cabinet refused, however, to consider the
recommendations of the Slovak Rectors Conference, which, according
to Tolnay "is not a partner of the government" and is "dictating"
its demands. The academic community reportedly is most opposed to
Article 15, which defines the ministry's powers in relation to
universities, and to Article 22 on postgraduate study. If passed by
the parliament, the legislation would restrict universities'
autonomy by allowing a failed student or dismissed professor to
appeal the decisions of academic councils to the ministry. The
ministry would also control financial flows to individual
institutions. Although the bill provides for the establishment of
private universities, it requires that two branches of Hungarian
universities in southern Slovakia ask for government approval. --
Sharon Fisher

SLOVAK BILL ON PROSECUTOR-GENERAL PASSED. Also on 20 August, the
cabinet approved a bill on the prosecutor-general, limiting his
term in office to seven years. Prosecutor-General Michal Valo told
CTK that the bill would help make the public prosecution service
"more independent," since dismissal would be possible only for
health reasons, at the prosecutor-general's own request, or
following a court decision. Presently, the prosecutor-general is
elected for an unlimited term and can be dismissed at any time by
the president at the parliament's recommendation. Opposition
politicians have been calling for Valo's dismissal based on alleged
unconstitutional moves and political bias. The government also
approved the unilateral abolition of visa requirements for Canadian
tourists and business people for visits of up to 90 days, TASR
reported. The move "demonstrates the closeness of [the two
countries'] political and economic systems and confirms
[Slovakia's] interest in intensive cooperation," according to a
government statement. -- Sharon Fisher

ETHNIC HUNGARIAN LEADERS CALL FOR ANOTHER MINORITY SUMMIT. The
leaders of ethnic Hungarian organizations beyond Hungary's borders
have harshly criticized the draft of the Romanian-Hungarian basic
treaty and demanded that yet another Hungarian minority summit be
convened, Hungarian media reported on 21 August. The minority
organizations oppose Budapest's plan to sign the treaty in its
present form. They fear that the inclusion in the treaty of an
interpretation of Council of Europe Recommendation 1201 could dash
their hopes of establishing ethnicity-based autonomy and collective
rights. Hungarian Prime Minister Gyula Horn told Hungarian Radio
over the weekend that he fully supports the draft and sees it as an
essential step to Hungary's joining the EU. Meanwhile, a Romanian
negotiating team arrived in Budapest on 20 August for consultations
on the final text of the treaty. -- Zsofia Szilagyi

SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE

'OPERATION VOLCANO' CONTINUES, AS DOES CRITICISM. IFOR went ahead
on 20 August with Operation Volcano, its destruction of
unauthorized Bosnian Serb munitions discovered in Margetici two
weeks ago (see OMRI Daily Digest, 19 August 1996). According to
Onasa reports on 20 August, IFOR that day destroyed 36 tons of
anti-tank and anti-personnel mines and other munitions in pits 27
meters wide and 7 meters deep. Also continuing are Bosnian Serb
protests against the IFOR operation. Acting President Biljana
Plavsic, complaining that the arms are being destroyed at the same
time as the Muslims and Croats in the Bosnian federation are being
armed, proposed that IFOR instead sell the weapons or transfer the
depot, AFP reported. As part of an aggressive media campaign, the
Pale-based news agency SRNA alleged that the detonations have
caused cracks in the walls of "the region's oldest church." Bosnian
Serb officials' litany of complaints against Operation Volcano also
includes allegations that the operation is jeopardizing underground
water supplies and that IFOR has been dumping radioactive waste
materials. Responding to the allegations, IFOR spokesman Maj. Max
Marriner has said water sources are in no danger and IFOR is "not
in the business of dumping radioactive waste," Onasa reported. --
Stan Markotich and Daria Sito Sucic

IFOR STEPS UP CONTROL IN BRCKO REGION. IFOR troops have increased
their control over goods and passengers and set up new checkpoints
around the northern Bosnian town of Brcko, Onasa reported on 19
August. Brcko is becoming an increasingly important issue for both
the Bosnian Serbs and the Muslim-Croat federation. While Bosnian
Serb leaders have said that "Brcko is more important for Serbs than
peace," Bosnian federation officials and parties also underscore
its significance for their side. The status of Brcko is to be
decided by 14 December through arbitration. The only traffic artery
connecting Bosnian Serbs in western parts of the country with those
in eastern areas and with Serbia runs through Brcko. Bosnian
federation Vice President Ejup Ganic stressed that 56% of Brcko's
prewar population was Muslim and that those forcibly expelled by
Serbs should return to their homes. Ganic said the subject of
arbitration is the whole area, including the town itself, and not
just the contentious line of separation around the town, as Serbs
claim. -- Daria Sito Sucic

SERBIA SENTENCES ITS 'SPIES.' Four people have been sentenced by a
military court in the Serbian city of Nis on charges of
participating in criminal activities against the state, including
spying and compromising military secrets, Politika reported on 21
August. According to the report, Marjan Cop has received one and a
half years' imprisonment, Ankica Brckovic five years in prison, and
Zeljko Medic a two-and-a-half-year term, with each being sentenced
for spying. The fourth, Josip Baric, received one year in prison
for compromising military secrets. -- Stan Markotich

MONTENEGRIN PARTIES PLAN, CONSIDER ELECTION BOYCOTT. Two of
Montenegro's main opposition parties failed to attend a 19 August
meeting in Belgrade at which participating parties signed an accord
on media coverage of the run-up to the 3 November federal
elections. A representative of the Liberal Alliance of Montenegro
explained his party's absence by noting that it was not concerned
with how the state-backed media especially would provide coverage,
since his party "will not be taking part in the elections," Beta
reported on 19 August. In a related development, Dragisa Burzan, a
representative of the Social Democratic Party of Montenegro, said
that party "has yet to decide whether to run." -- Stan Markotich

CONTROVERSY OVER ROMANIAN OPPOSITION LEADER'S PRO-MONARCHY
STATEMENT. The Party of Social Democracy in Romania (PDSR) on 20
August charged the presidential candidate of the Democratic
Convention of Romania (CDR), Emil Constantinescu, with endangering
national security. The PDSR statement was triggered by an interview
with Constantinescu reprinted in the daily Jurnalul national on the
same day. Constantinescu said in the interview (which was
originally given to a Romanian-language U.S. publication) that he
hoped for a hand-off of power to the country's "lawful leader,"
King Michael, after a referendum on the monarchy. The CDR said in
reaction to the PDSR attack on Constantinescu that it reflected the
ruling party's panic in view of its likely electoral defeat, which
makes it resort to "insult and calumny" instead of rational
argumentation. -- Michael Shafir

ROMANIAN ECONOMIC CRISIS. International financial experts and U.S.
officials say Romania has virtually emptied its foreign-exchange
reserves, has stopped paying its oil-import bills, and faces a
winter without adequate fuel to heat homes or keep factories
working. An RFE/RL correspondent in Washington reported on 20
August that the "grave" Romanian situation has been triggered by
the government's move last November to "artificially" freeze the
exchange rate at around 3,000 lei to the U.S. dollar. The move was
designed to hold domestic energy prices and inflation down until
after the November 1996 presidential and parliamentary elections.
It has, however, drained the country's foreign-currency reserves,
leaving importers unable to pay for the needed crude oil. --
Michael Shafir

CIS OFFICIAL VISITS MOLDOVA. The executive director of the CIS,
Ivan Karatchenya of Belarus, on 20 August met with Moldovan
President Mircea Snegur, Prime Minister Andrei Sangheli, and
parliament Chairman Petru Lucinschi. BASA-Press quoted Snegur as
telling Karatchenya that Moldova aims at "integration into European
structures" but will pay special attention to "mutually
advantageous bilateral ties" with many of the former Soviet
republics. Lucinschi told the guest that, in CIS activity, emphasis
should be laid on economic, rather than political, issues. Moldova
is a founding member of the CIS but participates only in the
economic functions of the organization, refusing to join its
political-military structures. -- Michael Shafir

BULGARIAN PREMIER CRITICIZES FARMERS. Prime Minister Zhan Videnov
in an interview with the Socialist daily Duma published on 21
August blamed the present grain crisis largely on producers.
Videnov said farmers have not fulfilled their obligations under
contracts signed with the state, for which they received money from
the state agricultural fund. Videnov said the farmers tend to hold
back grain in expectation of rising prices and thus threaten the
living standard of the population. He said that the state would
have to get more involved in pricing. Videnov admitted that the
import of grain will not solve the problem and that "grain
production must be stimulated by higher domestic prices, ... and on
this basis we must steadily liberalize foreign trade--not just
imports but also exports." Government policy aims to keep domestic
prices under world market prices and at the same time tightly
restricts exports of foodstuffs. -- Stefan Krause


[As of 12:00 CET]

Compiled by Tim Rostan

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