There is no love sincerer than the love of food. - George Bernard Shaw
OMRI DAILY DIGEST

No. 239, Part II, 12 December 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 OMRI Daily Digest, and other information about OMRI, are
available through OMRI's WWW pages: http://www.omri.cz/Index.html

CENTRAL AND EASTERN EUROPE

FOREIGN CREDITS TO UKRAINE. The World Bank approved a $300 million loan
to Ukraine for its coal sector reforms, Reuters reported on 11 December.
The loan will be dispersed in two equal tranches. It has a 17-year
maturity and a five-year grace period, and was made at the bank's
standard interest rate for dollar loans. Ukraine's coal sector reform
program spans eight years. The same day, Ukrainian radio reported that
the head of the national agency for reconstruction and development,
Roman Shpek, signed a memorandum with the EU on funding for 1996. By the
end of the year Ukraine will have received $40 million under the program
for financing state structure reform, economic restructuring, private
sector development, and for non-nuclear energy projects. -- Ustina
Markus

UKRAINE CONCERNED OVER ARMS SALES ALLEGATIONS. Deputy Foreign Minister
Kostyantyn Hrishchenko called on the U.S. to make an official
declaration that Ukraine had not violated its international commitments
and sold arms to Libya, AFP reported on 11 December. The request was
made in response to a Washington Times article, allegedly based on top-
secret CIA documents, that said Kyiv sold SS-21 missiles to Libya.
Reuters reported that the official Libyan news agency Jana denied
Tripoli had made such a deal. Libya is under a UN arms embargo for its
failure to hand over two suspects in the 1988 bombing of a U.S. airliner
over Scotland that killed 270 people. Ukraine is the third largest
recipient of U.S. aid and has been cautious not to engage in any deals
that could strain its relations with the U.S. -- Ustina Markus

UKRAINIAN DEPUTIES APPROVE LEGISLATION ON BUDGET EXPENDITURES. The
Ukrainian Parliament approved a law on financing the 1997 budget,
Ukrainian television reported on 11 December. The law stipulates that
current expenditures will be financed proportionately to budget
revenues. Social expenditures--including wages, pensions, stipends, and
subsidies for medicines--will have priority in budget financing. The law
comes into force on 1 January. The budget itself hasn't been approved
yet, and the government is pushing the legislature to do so by the end
of 1996. -- Oleg Varfolomeyev

BELARUS DEFENSE OFFICIALS MEET RUSSIAN COUNTERPARTS. Belarusian and
Russian defense ministry delegations met in Minsk on 6 December,
Belarusian TV reported. The defense officials approved a number of
documents that are to be ratified at their next meeting later this
month. The documents include a common defense policy draft and a new
agreement between the two defense ministries, based on the April
agreement on the establishment of the Belarusian-Russian Community. A
joint Belarusian-Russian commission also worked out a protocol on
Russian troops being withdrawn from Belarus. This included environmental
issues and tax problems regarding Belarusian citizens employed by the
Russian army, as well as compensation for Russian-built housing and the
handing over of military facilities. -- Sergei Solodovnikov

MEMBERS OF "OLD" BELARUSIAN PARLIAMENT MEET. Members of the old
parliament continued meeting on 12 December, RFE/RL reported. The rump
parliament includes Speaker Syamyon Sharetsky, six of the nine presidium
members of the old legislature, and nine out of 16 chairmen of its
permanent committees. Some 40 deputies refuse to acknowledge the
legitimacy of the new legislature. The deputies decided to include four
deputies elected in the 24 November runoff elections. Despite their
continued activity, the rump parliament hasn't been able to achieve
anything, and the opposition doesn't seemingly pose any real threat to
President Alyaksandr Lukashenka, NTV reported on 10 December. RFE/RL
reported that the Communist Party met on 7-8 December and expelled
Anatol Malafeev--the newly-elected speaker of the lower house of the new
legislature. The party also voted to oppose Lukashenka's domestic
policies, but voiced continued support for his policy of integration
with Russia. -- Ustina Markus

RUSSIAN EXPERT GROUP VISITS ESTONIA. A group of Russian Foreign Ministry
officials investigated the human rights situation of the Russian-
speaking minority in Estonia on 10-11 December, BNS reported. The group
was headed by the deputy head of the international and human rights
department, Vladimir Parshikov. After meetings with Estonian Foreign
Ministry officials, the OSCE mission in Tallinn, the parliament, and
other government departments as well as representatives of the ethnic
minorities, they admitted the situation was not as bad as they had
thought. The inability of Russians to obtain citizenship, however,
remained the key problem. The visit had been agreed upon at the 5
November meeting of the Estonian and Russian foreign ministers (see OMRI
Daily Digest, 11 November 1996). The experts did not connect their visit
with the signing of a Russian-Estonian border treaty. -- Saulius Girnius

LITHUANIAN PREMIER MEETS WITH IMF, WORLD BANK OFFICIALS. Gediminas
Vagnorius on 11 December met with the IMF representative to Lithuania,
Domenico Fanizza, to discuss the tax policies of his new government,
Radio Lithuania reported. Reports said the value added tax is to be
reduced from 18% to 15%; taxes on profits, interest, and dividends
redirected into investments will end; and the property tax will be
increased from 1% to 1.5%. He also discussed his economic plans and
Lithuania's banking and energy problems with the World Bank's Baltic
States Department Manager James Harrison. Noting that both officials
stressed that Lithuania has already exceeded the 1996 borrowing limit of
1.98 billion litai ($495 million), Vagnorius said December would be "a
diet month" and that the government will have problems in meeting
commitments assumed earlier in the year. -- Saulius Girnius

POLISH COMMENTS ON NATO ENLARGEMENT. Polish Deputy Defense Minister
Andrzej Karkoszka said Poland welcomes the NATO ministers' decision,
made on 10 December in Brussels, not to deploy nuclear weapons on the
territory of any new pact members. The decision removes the ground for
escalation of "suspicions and distrust" in the neighboring countries,
Karkoszka said after the "Integra '96" international seminar on
strategic planning after NATO enlargement. Polish Foreign Minister
Dariusz Rosati, commenting on recent statements by his Russian
counterpart Yevgenii Primakov in Brussels, said Russia wants to slow
down the process of NATO enlargement but is preparing to accept the
inevitable fact. -- Jakub Karpinski

CHECHEN CONFERENCE IN POLAND. A "Round-table Conference on Rebuilding
Chechnya, Peace in the Caucasus, and Democracy in Russia" opened on 11
December in Warsaw under the auspices of the Warsaw and Krakow town
councils, Polish dailies reported. The Chechen interim deputy prime
minister and foreign minister are at the conference, and Alla Dudayeva,
deceased President Dzhohar Dudayev's widow, is a guest of honor.
Answering Russian official demands to clarify his government's position
on the conference, the Polish ambassador in Moscow, Andrzej Zalucki,
said it is a municipal and not a governmental initiative. He was told
that Russia is concerned by the activities of the "so-called Chechen
representatives" in Poland. The Russian Foreign Ministry warned on 27
November that efforts to establish Chechen representations abroad with
diplomatic status will be considered a gesture "inimical to Russia." A
Chechen center is active in Krakow and another one is to open in Warsaw
on 15 December. -- Jakub Karpinski

POLISH DEMOGRAPHIC DEPRESSION. Poland's birthrate has declined from 79
live births per 1,000 women in reproductive age at the beginning of the
1980s to 45 live births/1,000 women, Polish media reported on 12
December, citing Main Statistical Office data. A drop in the birthrate
characterized the period between 1994 and 1996, despite the introduction
of a restrictive abortion law in early 1993 (recently amended). In the
first quarter of this year there were more deaths than live births, the
first time this has occurred in post-war Poland. Demographers estimate
that by 2020 the total number of children in the country will decline by
1.1 million (compared to 1995). Polish couples frequently cite difficult
economic conditions as the reason for having fewer children. -- Beata
Pasek

SLOVAK PRESIDENT ADDRESSES PARLIAMENT. President Michal Kovac delivered
a very critical annual report on the state of the nation on 11 December,
saying the ruling coalition is leading Slovakia into international
isolation, press agencies reported. Before the speech, all governing
coalition deputies left the parliament. Kovac said it is becoming
customary that Slovakia is excluded from the first group of candidates
for NATO and EU membership and added that the government is not reacting
to such signals. He also criticized state TV for broadcasting
"disinformation, apparently produced to manipulate public opinion," and
called for a dialogue with minorities and implementation of the Slovak-
Hungarian treaty. -- Anna Siskova

U.S. AMBASSADOR MEETS SLOVAK PRIME MINISTER. Ralph Johnson held a two-
hour long confidential talk with Vladimir Meciar on 11 December, Slovak
media reported. Calling the meeting "friendly," Meciar's spokeswoman
Magda Pospisilova denied that Johnson had issued a demarche. Over the
past two years, Slovakia received one U.S. and two EU demarches over
domestic political developments. Observers speculated that Johnson's
meeting with Meciar dealt with the parliament's controversial decision
to strip Frantisek Gaulieder--a breakaway deputy from Meciar's party--
of his parliamentary mandate (see OMRI Daily Digest, 5 December). The
meeting came one day after parliament Chairman Ivan Gasparovic held
talks with a group of EU diplomats. Meanwhile, a Focus agency poll
released on 11 December showed that 30% of Slovaks thought it was mainly
the opposition that is damaging Slovakia's interests abroad, while 50%
disagreed, TASR reported. -- Sharon Fisher

SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE

SERBIAN WORKERS JOIN PROTEST. Organized labor is beginning to add its
voice to the peaceful mass protests, which concluded their 22nd day in
Belgrade on 11 December, Nasa Borba reported. Meanwhile, CNN said that
in some centers, such as Serbia's second largest city, Nis, crowds are
beginning to thin. Nevertheless, delegations from throughout Serbia have
arrived in the capital and Belgrade demonstrations continue to draw at
least 100,000 supporters. Nasa Borba also reports that Italian Foreign
Minister Lamberto Dini is due in Belgrade on 12 December for talks with
both Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic and leaders of the opposition
Zajedno coalition. Dini has told reporters he hopes to make "a
contribution to resolving the crisis." Reuters reported on 12 December
that Zajedno leaders are "pinning ... hopes on [trade] union backing and
growing international support" in their efforts to have their 17
November municipal election victories recognized. -- Stan Markotich

SERBIAN OPPOSITION CALLS FOR ASSET FREEZING. Serbian opposition leaders
asked the international community to freeze overseas assets of twenty of
Serbia's most influential families involved in the governing of the
state, international media reported. Miodrag Perisic, vice president of
the opposition Democratic Party, explained the request, observing "this
is a way in which the international community can punish this
dictatorship without imposing an economic embargo against the entire
population." Opposition leaders oppose a reintroduction of sanctions,
saying they hurt only ordinary people. Meanwhile, AFP reported that VOA
announced on 11 December it will be broadcasting a daily 30-minute TV
program throughout much of the former Yugoslavia in response to the
political upheaval in Serbia. The show, called "America Calling Serbia,"
will air five times weekly and feature newscasts. -- Stan Markotich

UN POLICE SPOT BUT DO NOT ARREST KARADZIC. Members of the International
Police Task Force (IPTF) saw indicted war criminal and former Bosnian
Serb leader Radovan Karadzic pass by in a car en route to his offices
but did nothing to stop him, Oslobodjenje wrote on 12 December. Karadzic
was accompanied by Republika Srpska special police armed with
Kalashnikovs. The IPTF informed IFOR of the incident but the
peacekeepers took no action. "We are not authorized to chase war
criminals," IFOR Spokesman Major Brett Boudreau said in Sarajevo, AFP
reported. Critics have charged that IFOR and the IPTF deliberately avoid
bothering indicted war criminals. The IPTF's spokesman nonetheless
publicly reminded the Bosnian Serb leadership that they are obliged to
provide Karadzic with only one escort, "and that's to The Hague." --
Patrick Moore

CROATIA'S TUDJMAN REPORTEDLY FIRES INTERIOR MINISTER . . . President
Franjo Tudjman has fired Interior Minister Ivan Jarnjak, Radio 101
reported on 11 December. The ostensible reason was the discovery of a
bugging device in the office of the opposition mayor of Rijeka, but some
observers say the real reason was that Jarnjak failed to prevent massive
anti-government protests in late November. There was no official
confirmation of the firing, but the independent daily Novi List also ran
the story on 12 December. Tudjman has taken a tough line against all
manner of foreign and domestic "enemies" since his recent return from
medical treatment in the U.S. (see Pursuing Balkan Peace, 10 December
1996). -- Patrick Moore

. . . AND PLAYS TENNIS WITH THE GOVERNMENT WATCHING. Apparently to
dispel rumors that he has terminal cancer, Tudjman appeared on Croatian
Television playing tennis with the government in attendance, Reuters
reported on 11 December. Critics called the event "surreal" and likened
it to similar public shows of vitality once put on by communist leaders.
Tudjman's recent statements against "enemies" have also been compared to
communist-era rhetoric. An unnamed diplomat said that Tudjman is
behaving like a man who has nothing to lose and will do as he wants. --
Patrick Moore

ROMANIAN PARLIAMENT APPROVES NEW GOVERNMENT. A joint session of the
parliament's two chambers on 11 December approved Victor Ciorbea's
coalition government with 316 votes to 152, Radio Bucharest reported.
The vote followed a five-hour debate in which the former ruling
coalition, now in opposition, criticized the new government's economic
program for containing "little concrete." Referring to the issue of
Romania's integration into European and Euro-Atlantic structures, the
premier told the parliament that the next five years would determine
"the future of many generations." Ciorbea and his government are
committed to speed up the country's admittance into NATO and the EU. The
new government will be sworn in today. -- Zsolt Mato

SNEGUR CLAIMS SUPPORTERS PERSECUTED. Outgoing Moldovan President Mircea
Snegur on 11 December decried the persecutions to which his supporters
were allegedly submitted to by the new administration, Infotag reported.
The statement came in response to an appeal sent by the Pro-Snegur Civic
Movement to both Snegur and President-elect Petru Lucinschi, claiming
that its members have been fired from their jobs or received threats of
physical violence. Snegur described the campaign as "political
blackmail" and warned that it "may seriously destabilize the political
situation." In a separate development, acting Premier Andrei Sangheli on
11 December concluded a three-day official visit to Moscow, the second
in less than two months. Sangheli met with his Russian counterpart,
Viktor Chernomyrdin, and other senior officials, with whom he discussed
loan agreements and Russian fuel deliveries for the winter. In exchange,
Moldova will deliver, among other things, between 5 and 6 million liters
of vodka. -- Dan Ionescu

ANTI-CRIME CONFERENCE OPENS IN BULGARIA. A three-day conference on
combating organized crime and corruption opened in Sofia on 11 December,
RFE/RL reported. The meeting is jointly sponsored by the Council of
Europe (CE) and the EU. Ministers and experts from 16 Central and East
European countries (Albania, Bulgaria, Croatia, the Czech Republic,
Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Macedonia, Moldova, Poland,
Romania, Russia, Slovakia, Slovenia, and Ukraine) and CE legal and crime
experts will attend. The conference is part of a year-long "Octopus"
project, which aims at providing the participating countries with legal
instruments to fight crime. -- Stefan Krause

BULGARIAN OPPOSITION PROPOSES NATIONAL CONSENSUS FORMULA. The united
opposition's Political Council on 11 December supported the Union of
Democratic Forces' (SDS) formula for national consensus on setting up
the currency board--an independent body in charge of monetary policy--
Duma and Demokratsiya reported. The plan links the consensus over the
board with the demand for early parliamentary elections. SDS Chairman
Ivan Kostov warned that if the currency board is set up by the current
government without a broader consensus, it will fail and hyperinflation
and a new moratorium on the foreign debt payments could be in the cards.
The opposition project will be forwarded to the Bulgarian Socialist
Party (BSP) for consideration before it reaches the parliament. BSP
Deputy Nikola Koychev told Trud on 10 December that Kostov's demands are
"nebulous," adding that the currency board could be adopted even without
a political consensus, although this was not "desirable." -- Maria
Koinova

ALBANIAN PRESIDENT PROMISES TO LOWER TAXES ON NEWSPAPERS. Albanian
President Sali Berisha has asked the country's two journalists'
associations to present him with concrete proposals for a lifting of
taxes on newspapers, Koha Jone reported on 12 December. Berisha's
announcement came as a surprise for the papers, which long demanded such
a step. Newspapers are currently subject to 11 different taxes, and many
of them are reportedly facing bankruptcy. Berisha, meanwhile, said the
introduction of the VAT and the discontinuation of price controls and
subsidies on bread, fuel, and electricity earlier this year had given
the economy a boost, but admitted that it also resulted in a budget
deficit due to tax evasion and an increase in inflation from 7% in 1995
to an estimated 16% this year. -- Fabian Schmidt

[As of 12:00 CET]

Compiled by Sava Tatic

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            Copyright (c) 1996 Open Media Research Institute, Inc.
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