If we are to live together in peace, we must first come to know each other better. - Lyndon B. Johnson
OMRI DAILY DIGEST

No. 165, Part II, 26 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

U.S GRANTS POLITICAL ASYLUM TO BELARUSIAN OPPOSITION LEADERS. The U.S.
Immigration and Naturalization Service on 23 August informed Belarusian
Popular Front leaders Zyanon Paznyak and Syarhei Naumchyk that it was
granting them political asylum, Western agencies reported. The service
said "it has been determined that you have established a well-founded
fear of persecution were you to return to your country." This is the
first time since the 1991 collapse of the USSR that leaders from a
former Soviet republic have been granted asylum. Poznyak said the
decision will help his "work to save democracy in Belarus." Vladimir
Zametalin, deputy head of President Alyaksandr Lukashenka's
administration, said the decision "only arouses amazement and regret."
He added that he hopes it does not signal U.S. backing for what he
called political "adventures" to undermine Belarusian authorities. --
Saulius Girnius

UKRAINE TO INTRODUCE NEW CURRENCY SOON. President Leonid Kuchma on 25
August issued a decree providing for the introduction on 2 September of
a permanent currency, the hryvna, Ukrainian and Western agencies
reported. National Bank of Ukraine Governor Viktor Yushchenko said on
national TV that residents will have until 16 September to exchange the
current temporary tender, the karbovanets, for the hryvna. An exchange
rate of 100,000 karbovantsi to one hryvna will be used. Yushchenko said
there will in principle be no limit to the amount that can be exchanged
at the 20,000 or so exchange booths being set up at the country's banks.
But he added that the banks are hoping people agree to allow sums over
100 million karbovantsi to be deposited into their accounts, instead of
requesting cash. He said wages and pensions for September will be paid
in the new currency. He also noted that Kyiv is still awaiting the IMF's
decision on a $1.5 billion stabilization fund for the hryvna. --
Chrystyna Lapychak

UKRAINIANS CELEBRATE FIVE YEARS OF INDEPENDENCE. Ukrainians celebrated
the fifth anniversary of independence from the former USSR on 24 August
with a military parade in Kyiv, Ukrainian and international agencies
reported. President Leonid Kuchma, government officials and lawmakers
watched a parade of several thousand soldiers and officers from
Ukraine's armed forces in downtown Kyiv. Defense Minister Oleksander
Kuzmuk affirmed the military's loyalty to the new state and called for
further modernization of the army. At a ceremony on European Square, the
flags of Ukraine and the Council of Europe (CE) were raised side-by-side
in the presence of Kuchma and CE officials, who praised Ukraine's
progress toward democracy. In a televised address on the eve of the
anniversary, Kuchma hailed his country's success in avoiding the kind of
violence that has plagued other former Soviet republics. He said Ukraine
has entered a new phase since the adoption of a new constitution, which,
he said, provides for a clear path toward democracy and a market
economy. -- Chrystyna Lapychak

MOSCOW, CONSTANTINOPLE PATRIARCHATES REACH ACCORD ON ESTONIAN
CONGREGATIONS. Delegations from the Constantinople and Moscow
Patriarchates reached an initial accord in Tallinn on 23 August on how
to divide the Orthodox congregations in Estonia, BNS reported. Although
two congregations have not yet decided whose rule to observe, only 30 or
so of the 84 Orthodox congregations will be under Moscow's jurisdiction.
But together they constitute some 40,000 of the estimated 55,000
believers in the republic. The delegations also signed a memorandum on
the canonical settlement of the dispute over the congregations. A joint
commission will be set up and its conclusions presented to Estonian
Prime Minister Tiit Vahi. The delegations will meet again in a few
months, probably in western Europe. -- Saulius Girnius

LATVIAN DECLARATION OF OCCUPATION SURPRISES RUSSIA. Sergei Prikhodko,
the Russian Foreign Ministry official in charge of relations with the
Baltic states, on 23 August expressed surprise over the Saeima's passage
of a declaration on the USSR's and Germany's occupation of Latvia during
World War II, BNS reported. The declaration had been approved the
previous day by a vote of 76 to 10. Prikhodko commented that "we did not
expect there to be so many open opponents to the normalization of
relations between Latvia and Russia." The document expresses regret that
"the Russian Federation has not admitted that what the USSR did
[amounted to] an occupation." It also calls on the world community to
help Latvia remove the consequences of Soviet rule, pointing out that
the Abrene district of Latvia was unlawfully incorporated into Russia in
1944. -- Saulius Girnius

POLISH POLITICAL UPDATE. The Supreme Council of the Polish Peasant Party
(PSL) has concluded that the government should be recalled through a
"constructive" no-confidence vote, Polish media reported. Polish
President Aleksander Kwasniewski expressed his opposition to the idea,
saying that the re-negotiation of agreements between the PSL and the co-
ruling Democratic Left Alliance (SLD) will take too much time and
consume too much energy. SLD leader and former Prime Minister Jozef
Oleksy also criticized the PSL's announcement. Meanwhile, Solidarity
leader Marian Krzaklewski on 24 August said that former President Lech
Walesa will "certainly" support Solidarity Electoral Action, because he
"always supports what is strong." Leszek Balcerowcz, leader of the
opposition Freedom Union, called on 25 August for unity between all
Solidarity successor parties. -- Jakub Karpinski

CONTROVERSY OVER SALARIES OF TOP CZECH OFFICIALS. Defense Minister
Miloslav Vyborny, who is a leader of the coalition Christian Democratic
Union, has criticized Prime Minister Vaclav Klaus's announcement that he
will personally prepare a bill on pay cuts for top officials, Czech
media reported on 26 August. Klaus said last week he will submit the
draft legislation as a deputy, thereby excluding the government from its
preparation. Vyborny argued that the government should prepare such a
bill. The current salaries of deputies, ministers, and other top
officials are several times higher than the average wage. Klaus, whose
minority government is under pressure, apparently sees his initiative on
cutting wages as a way of increasing his popularity. The extreme-right
Republican Party recently submitted a bill proposing significant cuts in
the salaries of top officials. -- Jiri Pehe

SLOVAK PREMIER DENIES CROWN TO BE DEVALUED. Economic ministers of the
Slovak government met at Trencianske Teplice on 24 August to discuss the
future development of the economy, Narodna obroda reported on 26 August.
Prime Minister Vladimir Meciar told a press conference after the meeting
that fears about a possible devaluation of the Slovak crown are
speculative and unjustified. "On the contrary, the hard currency
reserves of the National Bank have grown by $200 million recently, so
there is no reason for devaluation," Meciar said. -- Steve Kettle

CAR BOMB IN BRATISLAVA. A car bomb exploded in central Bratislava on 25
August, causing damage to other cars parked nearby and to buildings but
no injuries, Slovak media reported. The blast occurred in front of an
apartment rented by a group of Ukrainians who were not at home at the
time. Police refused to give any details about the explosion. Previous
car bombings in and around Bratislava have been blamed on disputes
between rival criminal gangs. -- Steve Kettle

HUNGARIAN OPPOSITION WANTS PARLIAMENTARY SESSION ON TREATY WITH ROMANIA.
Four out of Hungary's five opposition parties are collecting signatures
from deputies to convene a special parliamentary session on the
Hungarian-Romanian basic treaty, Hungarian media reported on 24 August.
While the opposition Hungarian Democratic People's Party has not
officially supported the move, several of its deputies--including former
Foreign Minister Geza Jeszenszky--have joined the initiative.
Smallholders' Chairman Jozsef Torgyan noted that a special session of
the legislature cannot prevent the basic treaty from being signed, since
the governing parties have a parliamentary majority. The Hungarian
Democratic Forum commented that if the cabinet signs the current draft
of the treaty, those parties now in opposition will review the basic
treaty after the 1998 elections. Ethnic Hungarian leaders from Romania
are expected to discuss the treaty with Prime Minister Gyula Horn on 26
August. -- Zsofia Szilagyi

SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE

ARE 8,000 CANDIDATES TO BE DROPPED FROM BOSNIAN BALLOTS? A statement
issued by the OSCE says that the status of 8,000 out of the 28,000
declared candidates for the 14 September elections is in doubt because
the individuals' names do not appear on the election rolls. Those
rosters are based on the 1991 census, and it thus appears that the 8,000
may have subsequently come to Bosnia from elsewhere. The OSCE did not
identify the names of the candidates or their parties but said it was
working to clarify matters. Two of the candidates are ineligible because
they are indicted war criminals, AFP noted on 25 August. Meanwhile, the
OSCE's election supervisor, Robert Frowick, is consulting with all three
sides about postponing the municipal elections, which are one of the
seven components of the 14 September vote. A postponement seems likely
after it came to light that the Serbs were registering voters on a
massive scale in key strategic towns, although all three nationalist
parties have engaged in the practice to at least some extent. -- Patrick
Moore

CROATS, SERBS, MUSLIMS ON CAMPAIGN TRAIL. The Croatian Democratic
Community (HDZ) officially launched its campaign on 25 August in
Sarajevo, AFP reported. The party is the leading Croatian party in both
Bosnia-Herzegovina and Croatia. Bosnian federal President Kresimir Zubak
told 1,000 supporters at the local sports center that Bosnia must be the
home of Croats, Serbs, and Muslims alike. Meanwhile in Banja Luka,
Bosnian Serb acting President Biljana Plavsic argued for "a single Serb
state" and ruled out any union with other nationalities. She slammed the
idea of "unification with the Muslims and Croats," claiming that Bosnian
Serbs "want the unification of all the Serbs of the Balkans in a single
state called Serbia." Plavsic added that "there is an alternative to
peace. . . . The Serb nation and its state are more sacred than any
peace." In Croat-held Capljina, a local imam told a rally of the Muslim
Party for Democratic Action (SDA) on 24 August that "the Koran is our
constitution. Jihad is our path, our salvation." -- Patrick Moore

ZAGREB, BELGRADE SIGN NORMALIZATION ACCORD. Croatian Foreign Minister
Mate Granic and his rump Yugoslav (SRJ) counterpart, Milan Milutinovic,
have signed an agreement on the normalization of bilateral relations,
Tanjug reported. The two leaders met in Belgrade on 23 August. While
parts of the text remain open to interpretation, the document notes that
the two countries will establish "full diplomatic and consular relations
. . . within 15 days of the signing." Tanjug noted that Zagreb has
accepted the continuity between the SRJ and the former Socialist Federal
Republic of Yugoslavia and that the outstanding issue of succession is
to be resolved by consensus. Outstanding territorial questions, such as
the Prevlaka peninsula, are to be considered within "the framework of
negotiations and in the spirit of the UN Charter and good-neighborly
relations." Nasa Borba reported that Western diplomats have praised the
accord for its importance to regional peace, while the ultranationalist
Serbian Radical Party dubbed it "the biggest treason and capitulation."
-- Stan Markotich

SLOVENIAN COURT RELEASES SERBIAN GENERAL. A Ljubljana district court on
23 August found Gen. Milan Aksentijevic not guilty of serving "an enemy
army," Delo reported. Aksentijevic was indicted in September 1995 on
charges related to his leading Yugoslav army forces against Slovenia
during the 1991 war. He was detained on 12 July while visiting relatives
in Slovenia (see OMRI Daily Digest, 15 July 1996). The court ruled that
the Yugoslav army had not been formally designated an "enemy" before the
war; and, on these grounds, it decided in the general's favor. -- Stan
Markotich

SLOVENIA, HUNGARY TO ABOLISH PASSPORT REQUIREMENTS. Hungarian President
Arpad Goncz met with his Slovenian counterpart, Milan Kucan, in the
Slovenian town of Prosenjakovci on 25 August, AFP reported, citing
Hungarian radio. They agreed to abolish passport requirements for
citizens crossing the Hungarian-Slovenian border. Hungary will now have
to make some legislative changes enabling its citizens to cross the
border with only an identity card. -- Stan Markotich

NEW CABINET APPOINTMENTS IN ROMANIA. Two new ministers were appointed on
23 August to replace those who resigned earlier last week, Radio
Bucharest reported. Daniela Bartos, a 44-year-old cardiologist, is the
new health minister and the first woman to be given a portfolio since
the end of Nicolae Ceausescu's regime. She pledged to continue reforming
the health system in Romania, saying she will ask for more funding for
the sector. Grigore Zanc, a university professor and a former prefect of
Cluj County, was appointed culture minister. He said he plans to reform
the department's structures. A government spokesman announced further
personnel changes, including the replacement of two secretaries of state
at the Industry Ministry and one at the Health Ministry. -- Dan Ionescu

ROMANIAN GOVERNMENT APPROVES TREATY TALKS WITH HUNGARY. The cabinet on
23 August discussed progress to date in the negotiations over the basic
treaty with Hungary, Radio Bucharest reported. Foreign Minister Teodor
Melescanu said the current draft was a "reasonable compromise," and he
suggested that the text could be signed in the first half of September.
Melescanu's remarks were made after a two-day meeting of experts in
Budapest designed to put the finishing touches to the treaty. Also on 23
August, Gheorghe Funar, chairman of the chauvinistic Party of Romanian
National Unity, asked for an extraordinary meeting of the parliament's
two chambers to debate the treaty, which he described as "crucial for
Romania's future." Corneliu Vadim Tudor, leader of the Greater Romania
Party, said his party "vehemently opposes" the inclusion in the treaty
of the "villainous" Recommendation No. 1201 of the Council of Europe. --
Dan Ionescu

BULGARIAN AGRARIANS SACK LEADER . . . The Governing Council of the
Bulgarian Agrarian People's Union (BZNS), meeting in an extraordinary
session on 24 August, dismissed Anastasiya Dimitrova-Mozer as the BZNS
chief secretary, Demokratsiya reported. Party speaker Georgi Pinchev has
been appointed to replace her. The council said Dimitrova-Mozer will no
longer represent the party within the People's Union, a coalition of the
BZNS and the Democratic Party. She was blamed for "the deep
organizational crisis" within the BZNS and for trying to usurp the
party's name. Her dismissal follows long-standing conflicts within the
party in which she has been directly involved. Dimitrova-Mozer, who is
currently in the U.S., said she will not accept her dismissal. She
called the present Governing Council "illegitimate," arguing that
procedures for a party congress are under way and that calling a council
meeting now thus contravenes the BZNS statutes. -- Stefan Krause

. . . AND CAST DOUBT OVER OPPOSITION COOPERATION. President Zhelyu
Zhelev on 23 August warned that Dimitrova-Mozer's sacking will
inevitably lead to breakups of both the BZNS and the People's Union,
RFE/RL and Bulgarian newspapers reported. He said her dismissal means
that one of the signatures to the opposition agreement on a common
presidential candidate is no longer valid and thus the agreement as a
whole has been "nullified." Under that agreement, Zhelev will not run in
the 27 October presidential elections after losing in the primaries to
Petar Stoyanov of the Union of Democratic Forces (SDS). Zhelev did not
say whether he will run after all. SDS Chairman Ivan Kostov criticized
Zhelev's statement, saying the agreement was signed by political forces
and not by individuals. But Kostov and many other opposition leaders,
including People's Union Co-Chairman Stefan Savov, were critical of
Dimitrova-Mozer's dismissal shortly before the presidential elections
and in her absence. -- Stefan Krause

ALBANIAN SOCIALISTS DROP MARXIST DOCTRINE FROM PARTY PROGRAM. The
Socialist Party, convening for its annual congress in Tirana on 25
August, officially condemned the former Stalinist dictatorship and
dropped all references to Marxist philosophy from its program, Reuters
reported. The move is seen as the biggest push for reform since the fall
of communism in 1990. The congress voted for the party program to be
reformed to embrace social democratic elements and expressed its
commitment to stimulate the private sector. Delegates re-elected
imprisoned party leader Fatos Nano, who previously had rallied for such
reform and had criticized the current leadership for resisting change.
Servet Pellumbi, acting party leader, resigned, saying that his
viewpoints differ too much from those of Nano. The Socialists also
decided to continue their boycott of the parliament, which they started
after the elections because of alleged fraud. -- Fabian Schmidt

U.S. CALLS FOR BROADER POLITICAL DIALOGUE IN ALBANIA. The U.S. State
Department has called for "broadening the political dialogue in Albania
between the ruling and opposition parties as the first step toward
holding free and fair local elections," Reuters reported. The statement
also called for adopting a new constitution and holding new
parliamentary elections "at the earliest opportunity." The Democrats
should offer the opposition a substantive role in preparing local
elections and in the electoral commission, the statement continued. It
called on the opposition to participate fully in the election process.
The opposition has threatened to boycott a new ballot, saying the makeup
of the electoral commission is no better than it was during the
parliamentary elections. -- Fabian Schmidt

[As of 12:00 CET]

Compiled by Jan Cleave

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