Что, в сущности, дурного в том, что себя мой друг любит больше, чем меня? - Ф. Бэкон
OMRI DAILY DIGEST

No. 170, Part II, 3 September 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

UKRAINE INTRODUCES NATIONAL CURRENCY. Ukraine's national currency, the
hryvnya, was introduced on 2 September, international agencies reported.
For a transitional period, both karbovantsy and hryvnyas will be
accepted as legal tender, and prices will be frozen for the month. As of
the hryvnya's introduction, all wages, pensions, and foreign exchanges
will now be made in the new currency. -- Ustina Markus

GERMAN CHANCELLOR IN UKRAINE. German Chancellor Helmut Kohl arrived in
Ukraine on 2 September for an official visit, international agencies
reported. It was Kohl's third visit. Kohl met with President Leonid
Kuchma, Prime Minister Pavlo Lazarenko, and parliamentary speaker
Oleksandr Moroz. The visit will last until 4 September, and Kohl is to
receive an honorary degree from Kyiv's state university. An agreement is
to be signed on consultations over Ukraine's economic reforms, for which
Germany will give 28.7 million DM this year. An accord is also expected
on cooperation between German and Ukrainian TV, and on the status of
Ukraine's 40,000 ethnic Germans. -- Ustina Markus

BELARUSIAN PRESIDENT UNVEILS NEW CONSTITUTION . . . President Alyaksandr
Lukashenka presented his draft constitution on 31 August, Russian TV and
Radio Rossii reported on 1 and 2 September. The draft extends the
president's term of office and gives him the right to annul decisions by
local councils, set election dates, call parliamentary sessions, and
dissolve parliament. He can also appoint judges, five members of the
Constitutional Court and the chief justice, Central Election Commission
officials, and the head of the State Control Service. The draft
envisages a two-chamber parliament with a 110-member house of
representatives and a senate. All former presidents will be senators for
life. There was no mention of what should happen to the currently
elected 199 deputies in the smaller new legislature. The president will
have the right to appoint a third of the senate. An All-Belarusian
Congress of 5,000 members is to convene on 19 October to discuss the
draft. -- Ustina Markus

. . . LEADING TO MORE DEMONSTRATIONS. Lukashenka's draft constitution
was immediately denounced by parliamentary speaker Syamyon Sharetsky. He
said the document was meant to enhance the president's powers and was
dangerous given Lukashenka's "boundless appetite for power." On 2
September ITAR-TASS reported 3,000 demonstrated in Minsk against
Lukashenka's proposed new constitution and referendum. The rally ended
with protestors collecting signatures for the removal of the president.
-- Ustina Markus

U.S.-BALTIC ACTION PLAN PRESENTED TO AMBASSADORS. U.S. Assistant
Secretary of State Strobe Talbott presented the so-called Baltic Action
Plan to the ambassadors of Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania in Washington
on 29 August, BNS reported the next day. The state department-developed
plan has three parts. The first foresees U.S. aid to the Baltic states
for integration into Western institutions, primarily in the area of
security, including NATO. The second stresses the importance of good
relations with neighbors, especially Russia. The third provides for the
signing of individual cooperation charters between the U.S. and the
three states. Lithuanian Foreign Ministry Political Department Director
Vygaudas Usackas said the charters, which will encompass aspects of
economic, political, and security cooperation, should be signed early
next year. -- Saulius Girnius

ABORTION LAW EASED BY THE POLISH PARLIAMENT. The Sejm approved an
amendment to the abortion law on 30 August, allowing abortion up to the
12th week of pregnancy in cases where the woman faces "major financial
or personal difficulties." Pope John Paul II was critical of the
amendment, saying in Polish on 1 September in Castelgandolfo: "A nation
that kills its own children is a nation without hope." Polish Catholic
Primate Jozef Glemp was also critical. Glemp said on 1 September that
the law was a "general license to kill, aimed at children." Polish
public opinion is divided over the issue and many Catholics are against
the criminalization of abortion. President Aleksander Kwasniewski said
on 2 September: "Liberalizing the law on abortion is a means of fighting
hypocrisy which unfortunately emerged in Poland in recent years." The
Senate and Kwasniewski are expected to approve the amendment. -- Jakub
Karpinski

SOLIDARITY DEMONSTRATION IN WARSAW. Solidarity trade union organized on
1 September a demonstration in Warsaw marking the union's 16th
anniversary. The demonstration began with an open-air mass conducted by
Polish Primate Archbishop Jozef Glemp at St. Stanislas, the former
church of Father Jerzy Popieluszko, murdered by communist secret police
in 1984 and buried in the churchyard. "Solidarity still has commitments
to fulfill," Glemp said. The demonstrators shouted "Down with
communism!" Police said about 35,000 took part. Solidarity chief Marian
Krzaklewski criticized the ruling coalition's tendency to "ideologize
all aspects of life," and to limit workers rights. -- Jakub Karpinski

CZECH DEFENSE MINISTRY PROPOSES REDUCTION OF ARMED FORCES. A Czech
Defense Ministry official on 30 August announced a plan for radical cuts
in the army, Reuters reported. Defense Minister Miroslav Vyborny drafted
the plan, aimed at maintaining the country's defense capability "with
respect to economic possibilities." The plan must be approved by the
government and parliament; proposals put forward by his two predecessors
were rejected by the cabinet. Vyborny's plan has already been criticized
by the opposition Social Democrats and Communists and praised by the
Civic Democratic Alliance of the ruling coalition, CTK reported.
Meanwhile, Prime Minister Vaclav Klaus has reportedly asked for more
details. The proposal is said to include a reduction of the army--which
currently has 65,000 soldiers and 27,000 civilians--by 1,500 soldiers
and 5,500 civilians. It also reportedly includes a cut in compulsory
military service from the current 12 months. -- Sharon Fisher

NEW PRIVATE TV LAUNCHED IN SLOVAKIA. TV Markiza, Slovakia's first
private terrestrial station, began broadcasting on 31 August, Slovak
media reported. Markiza broadcasts on Slovakia's third terrestrial
channel, while the country's other two terrestrial channels are
controlled by the pro-government Slovak TV. Currently covering about 60%
of Slovakia's territory, Markiza plans to broadcast 20 hours a day.
Central European Media Enterprises, which holds a majority share in the
successful Czech station Nova, owns 49% of Markiza. Although other
private stations exist in Slovakia--broadcasting through regional
transmitters, cable, and satellite--Nova has dominated Slovakia's TV
market where it is available. Markiza's General Director Pavol Rusko
said Markiza's news will be "factual, without commentary," Narodna
obroda reported on 31 August. -- Sharon Fisher

SLOVAK ACTORS CALL FOR CULTURE MINISTER'S RESIGNATION. Actors and other
staff of the Slovak National Theater (SND) on 2 September called for
Culture Minister Ivan Hudec's resignation, Slovak media and Reuters
reported. Returning from summer vacation, SND staff met to discuss
Hudec's controversial replacement six weeks ago of the theater's stage
director with actor Lubomir Paulovic. The staff said Hudec violated the
SND's autonomy by changing the stage director without consulting the
theater's general manager, Dusan Jamrich. That same day, Paulovic
announced his resignation from the SND. Also on 2 September, Slovakia's
opposition parties met to discuss the country's foreign relations and
the upcoming parliamentary session. The opposition expressed solidarity
with the SND actors and said they will propose Hudec's dismissal. The
Democratic Union is also demanding the removal of Prosecutor-General
Michal Valo. -- Sharon Fisher

SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE

FIRST BREAKTHROUGH IN KOSOVO DEADLOCK IN SEVEN YEARS. Serbian President
Slobodan Milosevic and Kosovar shadow state President Ibrahim Rugova
signed an agreement on the return of ethnic-Albanian elementary and
secondary school children to school premises on 1 September,
international media reported. The agreement, negotiated under mediation
of the Roman Catholic community San'Egidio, is apolitical and both sides
expressed the understanding that it was of purely social and
humanitarian character. It is, however, the first case in which
Milosevic accepted Rugova as a negotiating partner. Albanians in Kosovo
have been boycotting the Serbian schools and established an underground
school system in private homes since 1990. Albanian President Sali
Berisha praised the accord as an important step for human rights. Rugova
said the agreement lacked clarification on the status of university
education. A committee made up of three members from each side has been
appointed to work out terms for applying the accord. -- Fabian Schmidt

MUSLIM BOYCOTT OF BOSNIAN BALLOTING CALLED OFF. The governing Muslim
Party of Democratic Action (SDA) and the opposition Party for Bosnia and
Herzegovina (SBiH) have decided to call off their threat of an election
boycott, the BBC reported on 31 August. The OSCE apparently told them
that the current election rosters--which the Serbs in particular had
packed to gain strategic advantages in key towns--will not be used after
the 14 September vote. The SDA and SBiH were thereby reassured that the
Serbs would not be able to use the lists as a basis for rigged voting in
future local elections or referendums. -- Patrick Moore

BOSNIAN REFUGEE VOTING ABROAD YIELDS MIXED RESULTS. Voting in Serbia and
Montenegro continued to produce a poor turnout, with only 25% of those
eligible having cast their ballots by the end of the weekend, AFP
reported on 2 September. Voting there began on 28 August and is slated
to end on 3 September. The initial call by the SDA and SBiH for a
boycott apparently helped contribute to a low turnout among Muslims in
Germany, and as of 2 September only 10% of the ballot papers from that
country had been returned. Many could still be in the mail, however, so
the last word is not in. Things were considerably different in Croatia,
however, where some two-thirds of the potential electorate turned out to
vote on 31 August-1 September. Many others were expected to travel home
to cast their ballots in person. OSCE monitors described the vote in
Croatia as "without fraud or major irregularities." The only problem was
in Dubrovnik, where 1,700 voters were given Serbian ballots by mistake
and will later have to be issued Croat-Muslim ones. -- Patrick Moore

WILL HERCEG-BOSNA VANISH? U.S. Assistant Secretary of State John
Kornblum announced on 30 August the self-styled Bosnian Croat para-state
of Herceg-Bosna would legally cease to exist as of the next day,
international media reported. In turn, certain republican, mostly
Muslim-controlled ministries would be also dissolved into joint federal
structures. Kornblum said specific institutions of Herceg-Bosna would be
changed over the coming fortnight. But nothing really changed on 31
August. Ivan Bender, the Herceg-Bosna senior official, said Bosnian
Croats will abolish their para-state only after getting guarantees from
Muslims about simultaneous dissolution of the republic authorities,
Dnevni Avaz reported on 3 September. Bender announced the para-state of
Herceg-Bosna will be replaced by the Croatian Community of Herceg-Bosna,
a future political institution to guarantee political rights of Bosnian
Croats. -- Daria Sito Sucic

BOSNIAN AND CROATIAN SHORTS. Four explosions rocked Brcko early on 1
September, hitting three Muslim-owned houses and one Muslim company
specializing in housing repair materials, news agencies reported. This
is not the first such incident involving Muslim property in the
strategic Serbian-held town, the future of which will be decided by
arbitration later this year. In Doboj, peacekeepers on 31 August fired a
warning shot at a Serbian ambulance that was transporting unauthorized
weapons. Meanwhile, at Ovcara near Vukovar in Croatia, international
forensic experts arrived on 30 August to begin work on excavating a
probable mass grave. The site presumably holds the remains of at least
250 Croatian hospital patients killed by rump Yugoslav forces who took
the town in November 1991. Vukovar is synonymous with heroism and
martyrdom in Croatia, and work at the site will be followed closely by a
broad public. -- Patrick Moore

BREAKTHROUGH ON THE SERBIAN STRIKE FRONT? The director of the Zastava
arms facility in Kragujevac, Col. Vukasin Filipovic, is resigning, Nasa
Borba reported on 2 September. Beta on 29 August reported him saying
that same day that he fully intended to resign, noting the action "was
for the [future] good of the plant, for the honest workers . . . and to
preserve the integrity of the office of plant director." Zastava workers
are waging a strike action, demanding unpaid wages, and have insisted on
Filipovic's ouster (see OMRI Daily Digest, 29 August 1996). Meanwhile,
on 29 August Beta also reported that Tomislav Banovic, chair of the
Council of Independent Workers of Serbia, said that with the conclusion
of "an agreement with the federal government," most of the Zastava
workers' demands had been addressed and the issue of unpaid wages
"should be resolved through negotiations with plant management." -- Stan
Markotich

SLOVENIAN UPDATE. Slovenian President Milan Kucan opened a second round
of dialogues on 2 September with the country's political parties, aimed
at securing agreement on a national election date, Reuters reported. By
3 September, Kucan is expected to have met with representatives of 11
parties. According to the Slovenian constitution, Kucan will have to
announce the date 60 to 90 days in advance, and an election must be held
between 27 October and 8 December 1996. In other news, Nasa Borba of 31
August-1 September reported that Slovenian Premier Janez Drnovsek
reiterated at a recent press conference that Slovenia "wants normalized
relations with [rump Yugoslavia]." He added that Belgrade "continues to
be overly preoccupied with the question of continuity," suggesting that
outstanding issue may be a stumbling block to normalization. -- Stan
Markotich

ROMANIAN COALITION BREAKS. The Party of Social Democracy in Romania on 2
September decided to oust its junior partner from the governmental
coalition, Radio Bucharest announced on 2 September. The decision was
made after the Party of Romanian National Unity (PUNR), at a meeting the
previous day, reiterated attacks on President Ion Iliescu over his
intent to sign the Romanian-Hungarian basic treaty. PUNR Chairman
Gheorghe Funar earlier called the intention "treason" and called for
Iliescu's suspension from office. Transportation Minister Aurel Novac
immediately announced he was resigning as PUNR deputy chairman and from
the party itself in protest against what he called Funar's "unjustified"
attacks on Iliescu, which he said are aimed at building "political
capital" in Funar's race against the incumbent president. Novac will
stay in the government as an independent. Prime Minister Nicolae
Vacaroiu asked Iliescu to approve the dismissal of the other three PUNR
ministers and said their replacements will be made known on 3 September.
-- Michael Shafir

DNIESTER REGION MARKS "INDEPENDENCE DAY." Moldova's breakaway Dniester
region on 2 September staged what Reuters called "pompous" celebrations
to mark the sixth anniversary of the region's "independence." Several
thousand Dniester troops marched in Tiraspol's main square. Leader Igor
Smirnov read congratulatory telegrams from the heads of several
autonomous Russian regions and from the leader of the Russian Liberal
Democratic Party, Vladimir Zhirinovsky. Infotag quoted Smirnov as saying
there will be no voting for the Moldovan presidential elections on
Dniester territory. Those wishing to vote will not be obstructed from
doing so, but will have to travel to the territory controlled by
Chisinau, Smirnov said. -- Michael Shafir

BULGARIAN SOCIALISTS' PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE REJECTED. The Supreme Court
on 2 September rejected an appeal against the Central Electoral
Commission's (TsIK) refusal to register Foreign Minister Georgi Pirinski
as presidential candidate of the Bulgarian Socialist Party (BSP) on the
grounds that he is not a "Bulgarian citizen by birth" as required by the
constitution, Bulgarian media reported. The unanimous decision of a
five-member magistrate under Chief Justice Rumen Yankov is final. The
BSP daily Duma accused the court of acting on political orders by the
opposition. Pirinski has not commented so far. He will hold a press
conference on 3 September. Trud named Culture Minister Ivan Marazov--so
far Pirinski's running mate--as the most likely new BSP candidate. Other
possible candidates include Parliament Chairman Blagovest Sendov and
Interior Minister Nikolay Dobrev. A BSP plenary meeting is expected to
decide on a new candidate later this week. -- Stefan Krause

GREEK FOREIGN MINISTER ENDS ALBANIAN VISIT. Greek Foreign Minister
Theodore Pangalos left Albania on 1 September after a two-day official
visit, AFP reported. The previous day he met with Albanian President
Sali Berisha in Vlora after inaugurating the Greek consulate in
Gjirokastra. The two countries agreed to set up a department of Albanian
language at Athens University, and a Greek high school in Tirana.
Berisha and Pangalos also discussed ways to legalize the immigration of
Albanians to Greece as seasonal workers. Berisha accepted an invitation
from Greek President Kostis Stephanopoulos for a visit in the near
future. In other news, Bosnian Vice President Ejup Ganic arrived in
Tirana on 2 September. He met Berisha and Foreign Minister Tritan Shehu.
-- Fabian Schmidt

COUNCIL OF EUROPE THREATENS TO SUSPEND ALBANIA. Lord Finsberg, leading a
delegation of the Council of Europe's parliamentary assembly, implied
that the Council was ready to suspend Albania unless the government and
opposition parties respected its call to start serious talks to sort out
their differences, Reuters reported on 30 August. Finsberg also said the
Council would send technical aid to Albania to help it hold free and
fair local elections on 20 October. Meanwhile, the Socialists pledged to
participate fully in the local ballot, but demanded the government
guarantee free and fair elections. They further demanded round-table
talks to change the electoral law, a new constitution and new
parliamentary elections as soon as possible and the annulment of the
controversial "genocide law." -- Fabian Schmidt

[As of 12:00 CET]

Compiled by Janet Hofmann

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