Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it's the only thing that ever has. - Margaret Mead
OMRI DAILY DIGEST

No. 245, Part II, 20 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


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NOTE TO DAILY DIGEST SUBSCRIBERS:

The OMRI Daily Digest will not be published the week of December 23-27,
1996.  It will return on Monday, December 30, 1996.
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CENTRAL AND EASTERN EUROPE

UKRAINIAN PRESIDENT SIGNS DECREE ON CABINET. Leonid Kuchma signed a
decree fixing the number of ministers in the cabinet as well as the
total number of ministries, AFP and ITAR-TASS reported on 19 December.
The decree also directly subordinates the interior, foreign,
information, and defense ministers to the president. The decree has
sparked controversy among deputies, some of whom say it is
unconstitutional and accuse the president of taking over some of
parliament's prerogatives. Deputy Volodymyr Chemerys said parliament may
turn to the Constitutional Court to have the decree revoked. -- Ustina
Markus

BUDGET DEBATES PROGRESSING IN UKRAINE. Ukraine's parliament has approved
the constitutional commission's budgetary proposals for 1997 and sent
them to the cabinet for further refinement, Ukrainian Radio reported on
19 December. The government has two weeks to work out the details of the
budget. Parliament also debated a law on arbitrating in labor conflicts.
The law foresees the creation of an independent labor arbitration
service. Deputies were categorically opposed to a provision that would
allow for the mass dismissal of workers, but the law was approved in its
first reading. -- Ustina Markus

BELARUSIAN FOREIGN MINISTER ON RELATIONS WITH THE WEST. Uladzimir Syanko
said that although relations with Russia remain a priority in Belarus's
foreign policy, the country is also seeking closer cooperation with the
West as well, Belarusian Radio reported on 18 December. He noted that
Western countries have recently taken on a more reserved stance toward
Belarus, perhaps because of Belarus's support for Russia's position on
NATO expansion. At the same time, Belarusian Ambassador to the UN
Alyaksandr Sychou tried to dismiss allegations that Belarus is not
abiding by the principles of democracy. Meanwhile, the Political
Committee of the Council of Europe's Parliamentary Assembly decided to
recommend that the assembly suspend Belarus's membership as an observer
in the council, Russian TV reported on 19 December. -- Sergei
Solodovnikov

WORLD BANK LOAN TO LATVIA. The World Bank has approved a $60 million
loan to Latvia to support a program promoting private developers and
improved management of public resources, Reuters reported on 20
December. The funds would be released over three years, with the first
$20 million tranche available immediately. Since joining the World Bank
organization in 1992, Latvia has received $210 million for seven
projects. -- Ustina Markus

GERMAN, FRENCH, POLISH FOREIGN MINISTERS MEET IN WARSAW. Klaus Kinkel of
Germany, Herve de Charette of France, and Dariusz Rosati of Poland met
on 19 December for the sixth foreign ministers' meeting since 1991, when
the three countries initiated the so-called Weimar triangle of
cooperation. The ministers discussed European security and the process
of bringing new members into the EU and met with Polish President
Aleksander Kwasniewski and Prime Minister Wlodzimierz Cimoszewicz. The
three ministers said the heads of state of the three countries will meet
next year, although a date has yet to be announced. They also said their
three embassies in the Baltic states, Ukraine, and Belarus would
cooperate. A common French-German-Polish cultural institute is to be
created in Warsaw. -- Jakub Karpinski

OLEKSY AFFAIR FOLLOW UP. The Sejm on 19 December accepted a special
commission report on the Internal Affairs Ministry (MSW) and its former
minister, Andrzej Milczanowski. Milczanowski a year ago accused former
Prime Minister Jozef Oleksy of spying for the Soviet Union and Russia.
In April, military prosecutors dropped the case against Oleksy, although
investigations revealed that he had maintained social contacts with
Russian agents operating under diplomatic cover. The commission report
states that the State Security Office and Milczanowski "may have
violated the law" in conducting the Oleksy case. During the stormy
debate, Oleksy's party colleagues stated that Milczanowski and some
intelligence officers were preparing a political plot against Oleksy.
The opposition stressed the inappropriate character of Oleksy's social
contacts with Russian diplomats. MSW Deputy Minister Andrzej Anklewicz
fainted in the Sejm, suffering from what was thought to have been a
heart attack. The Sejm voted 243-90, with 31 abstentions, in favor of
accepting the report. -- Jakub Karpinski

CZECH PRIME MINISTER THREATENS TO LEAVE THE RULING COALITION. Vaclav
Klaus on 19 December said that his Civic Democratic Party (ODS) may
leave the coalition government, should parliament approve two
controversial laws the ODS opposes. Klaus accused one the ODS's two
junior coalition partners, the Christian Democratic Union-Czechoslovak
People's Party (KDU-CSL), of violating the coalition agreement by
helping to pass in the first reading an amendment to the retirement law
and a bill on farming. Klaus was also angered by the fact that the KDU-
CSL banded together with the Social Democrats to elect former Premier
Petr Pithart to the post of Senate chairman, despite strong resistance
from the ODS. Klaus said the two laws, if passed, would cast doubt on
the country's transformation drive, and the ODS could not stay in the
government under such circumstances. -- Jiri Pehe

SLOVAKIA'S MAIN RULING PARTY DEFENDS CONTROVERSIAL AMENDMENT.
Representatives of the leading coalition party, the Movement for a
Democratic Slovakia (HZDS), say it will be impossible for the
authorities to abuse the protection of the republic amendment to the
penal code. HZDS legal expert Jan Cuper said on 19 December that the
amendment's provision concerning the spread of false information about
Slovakia abroad has been deleted from the original version. Cuper
continued that opposition parties, which protested against the original
version, do not even attempt to hide their own cooperation with
"international political structures, which they effectively use for
fighting against the government coalition." The new amendment, passed by
parliament, makes it illegal to call for mass disturbances with the aim
of overturning the constitution or Slovakia's territorial integrity and
sovereignty. -- Anna Siskova

HUNGARIAN PARLIAMENT PASSES ACT TO MAKE PRIVATIZATION MORE TRANSPARENT.
Parliament on 19 December passed an amendment to the privatization law,
which aims to make the process more transparent, Hungarian dailies
reported. The amendment was drafted by three deputies of the junior
coalition partner, Alliance of Free Democrats. The legislation instructs
the State Privatization & Holding Co. APV to place privatization related
documents in the National Archives for public perusal within 30 days
after closing each deal. Before the vote, deputies held a heated debate
over the parliamentary constitutional committee's proposal for amending
the draft law. The committee proposed that--under exceptional
circumstances--APV be allowed to transfer state-owned property to local
governments and cooperatives for free. The opposition Young Democrats
said that the proposal, put forward by the Socialist-dominated
committee, suggests that, in the wake of the privatization scandal, the
government wants to establish the legal conditions for corruption,
instead of concluding that corruption is wrong. -- Zsofia Szilagyi

SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE

FEDERAL YUGOSLAV FOREIGN MINISTER DOES NOT RULE OUT NEW ELECTIONS . . .
The Federal Republic of Yugoslavia's foreign minister, Milan
Milutinovic, said on 19 December that yet another round of municipal
elections in those centers where the opposition Zajedno coalition
originally scored victories cannot be ruled out. But he added that such
elections would be contingent on an OSCE recommendation. "Should the
OSCE delegation which is coming here [on 20 December] recommend new
elections in Serbia after making a thorough and impartial review, we
would accept that," he said. Meanwhile, CNN reported that Milutinovic
also said that the strategy of the demonstrators has outlived its
usefulness. "Here in Serbia, there is an old saying that when the song
is over, you stop singing," he said. -- Stan Markotich

. . . AND DEMONSTRATIONS CONTINUE. Across Serbia, meanwhile, mass
demonstrations demanding that the regime recognize the opposition
electoral victories continued into a their 30th day on 19 December.
Radio Index reported that more than 200,000 people marched in Belgrade
in one of that city's largest single protest actions to date. For their
part, Zajedno leaders also used the occasion for a mass celebration of
St. Nicholas Day. On 18 December, some 37 students began a march from
Kragujevac, about 120 km from Belgrade, to the capital with a protest
letter they were intending to deliver to Serbian President Slobodan
Milosevic. Meanwhile, pro-Milosevic demonstrations continued on 19
December for a second day throughout small towns in Serbia, including
Kosovo. So far, such events have been attended by only a few thousand
people, mostly elderly and die-hard communists, and they have not taken
place in Belgrade. -- Stan Markotich

CROATIA, VATICAN SIGN KEY AGREEMENTS. Croatia and the Holy See signed
three documents on 19 December to regulate their relations, Croatian and
international media reported. The texts cover legal issues, education
and culture, and the role of priests in the army and police. The head of
the government's religious affairs commission, Jure Radic, said that
Croatia has thus become the first former communist country of Eastern
Europe to establish "full ties" with the Vatican, Reuters added.
Cardinal Franjo Kuharic praised the agreements as legalizing the status
of the Roman Catholic church, and stated that the still-open question of
former church properties confiscated by the Communists could be solved
soon. More than 90% of Croats are nominally Roman Catholic, but polls
consistently show that, while Kuharic himself is well liked, there is
strong opposition to a larger political role for the church and to the
church's stand on abortion. -- Patrick Moore

IZETBEGOVIC WARNS AGAINST SERBIAN BLACKMAIL OVER BRCKO. The Muslim
member of the Bosnian presidency, Alija Izetbegovic, has warned the
international community against yielding to Serbian pressure in the
upcoming arbitration over the strategic town of Brcko, Onasa reported on
19 December. The president of the Republika Srpska, Biljana Plavsic, had
said on 16 December that there will be war if anyone tries to take the
formerly majority Muslim town away from the Serbs (see Pursuing Balkan
Peace, 17 December 1996). Izetbegovic has now responded that his forces
could have taken the town in late 1995 but accepted arbitration under
the Dayton agreement instead. He said he did so because he believes the
legal arguments are on his side, a point Dnevni avaz reiterated on 20
December. Izetbegovic concluded: "The only right that [the Serbs] stress
is the right of the stronger. This right exists no more, because they
are not stronger any more. If there really were a war for Brcko, there
is no doubt who would win it. -- Patrick Moore

HERCEG-BOSNA SAID TO BE OFFICIALLY DISMANTLED . . . Kresimir Zubak, the
former president of the Muslim-Croat Federation and a Croat member of
the three-man Bosnian presidency, said on 19 December that the Bosnian
Croat para-state of Herceg-Bosna ceased to exist on 17 December, the
same day that the Bosnian republican government transferred its
functions to the federation, Oslobodjenje reported the next day. In a
letter to international peace envoy Carl Bildt and U.S. envoy John
Kornblum, Zubak said a special commission will be in charge of the
details of dismantling the mini-state. Zubak said all stamps,
stationery, and other documents will be withdrawn and requested that the
same be done by the Bosnian government. Zubak also asked that the
information and documentation agency, which the Croats claim is an
espionage organization directed against them, be dismantled. He said the
Federation Forum, which he prevented from convening last week, should
meet as soon as possible to deal with the question of implementing the
federation. -- Daria Sito Sucic

. . . BUT EVICTIONS OF MUSLIMS FROM MOSTAR CONTINUE. UNHCR spokeswoman
Ariane Quentier said an elderly Muslim couple was expelled from the
Croat-held part of Mostar on 18 December, thus bringing the number of
Muslims driven out since the beginning of the year to 73, AFP reported
on 19 December. The couple were forced out by men who showed them "a
temporary authorization" from Herceg-Bosna authorities to move into the
apartment. Meanwhile, the Croat mayor of Mostar, Ivan Prskalo, accused
his Muslim deputy, Safet Orucevic, of wanting to spark a conflict in the
city, saying that his statements "only offer one option for the future:
war," AFP reported. In other news, Croatian Ambassador to the UN Mario
Nobilo said Croatia is not willing to support the Croat-Muslim
Federation until the alleged poor treatment of Croats in central Bosnia
and Sarajevo stops, Oslobodjenje reported on 18 December. -- Daria Sito
Sucic

RUGOVA MEETS BERISHA. After concluding visits to the U.S. and France,
Kosovar shadow state President Ibrahim Rugova arrived in Tirana on 19
December for a meeting with President Sali Berisha. Both sides said they
"wholeheartedly support the active protests of the Belgrade students and
the Serbian democratic forces," adding that "this movement is directed
against the dictatorship of [Serbian President Slobodan] Milosevic." The
presidents concluded that "the democratization of Serbia in a democratic
and peaceful way is an important and positive development ... for peace
and stability in the region." The statement did not call on the Kosovo
Albanians to turn out for street protests. -- Fabian Schmidt

ROMANIAN TROOPS TO STAY WITH BOSNIA FORCE. Parliament on 19 December
voted to keep the 200-strong Romanian engineering battalion in NATO's
new SFOR force in Bosnia and offered Timisoara's airport, near the
Serbian border, for possible use by SFOR. The decision came in response
to President Emil Constantinescu's formal request in a letter to the
legislature, Romanian and international media report. Constantinescu
said maintaining the force (which was first sent to Bosnia in February
as part of the former IFOR) will increase the prestige of the country
and enhance its chances of being included in the first wave of new NATO
members. -- Michael Shafir

ION CEBUC LIKELY TO BECOME MOLDOVA'S NEXT PRIME MINISTER. Infotag
reported on 19 December that Ion Cebuc, the current chairman of the
State Accounting Chamber, is the candidate most likely to be designated
the country's next prime minister. Citing Agrarian Democratic Party of
Moldova (PDAM) leader Dumitru Motpan, the agency reported that Cebuc's
nomination was discussed at a recent meeting between President-elect
Petru Lucinschi and the PDAM leadership. Motpan added that Cebuc has
"vast experience" in politics and managing the economy, having served at
different times as the head of Moldova's representation in Moscow,
deputy foreign minister, and deputy minister of the economy. Infotag
added that Motpan himself has a good chance of replacing Lucinschi at
the head of the country's parliament. -- Michael Shafir

TRANSDNIESTER AMENDS ITS CONSTITUTION. An amendment to the constitution
passed by the Supreme Soviet of the breakaway Transdniester region on 19
December will make it possible to hold the 22 December presidential
election as scheduled even if only one candidate is running for the
post. The previous stipulation required at least two candidates. The
amendment was passed after President Igor Smirnov's electoral rival,
Vladimir Malakhov, threatened to withdraw from the race, arguing that
his campaign had received "unequal treatment" from the Smirnov-dominated
media. In related news, the Russian ultra-nationalist leader Vladimir
Zhirinovsky appealed on Transdniestrian television to the electorate,
calling on it to back Smirnov. -- Michael Shafir

ANTI-GOVERNMENT DEMONSTRATIONS IN BULGARIA. Between 20,000 and 50,000
people demonstrated outside the parliament building in Sofia on 19
December to demand the government's resignation. The event was organized
by the Union of Democratic Forces and the "Promyana" alliance, Standart
and Trud reported. The demonstrators blocked downtown traffic, chanted
slogans such as "Red garbage," and burned an effigy of Prime Minster
Zhan Videnov. Speakers at the demonstration appealed to Sofia's citizens
to rally against the government. They also announced that miners in
Burgas have descended into their mines and gone on hunger strike,
threatening not to come out until the government resigns. The
demonstrators also protested against censorship in the national media.
-- Maria Koinova in Sofia

NO CONSENSUS ON BULGARIA'S CURRENCY BOARD. The parliamentary faction of
the ruling Bulgarian Socialist Party (BSP) on 19 December rejected the
opposition formula for a national consensus on the adoption of the
currency board adoption, Standart and Kontinent reported. The United
Democratic Forces proposal for early parliamentary elections and the
immediate resignation of the Bulgarian National Bank's executive board
in exchange for the opposition support of the currency board idea, is
"strange and not understandable," BSP deputy Stefan Gaitandzhiev said in
parliament. Union of Democratic Forces deputy Alexander Bozhkov said
that if the BSP parliamentary faction rejects the opposition proposal,
the government should be ousted by street demonstrations. -- Maria
Koinova in Sofia

ALBANIA FACES FOOD SHORTAGE DUE TO GREEK ROAD BLOCKADES. Twenty-two days
after Greek farmers set up road blocks all over Greece, Albania is
facing a food shortage, Reuters reported. The blockade has so far
inflicted $100 million worth of damage on the Greek economy and forced
several Albanian factories to shut down. It has resulted in price hikes
of up to 20% in Gjirokaster. Prices for oranges, apples, and potatoes
have gone up by 30%. -- Fabian Schmidt

SECOND COLLAPSE OF ALBANIAN PYRAMID SCHEME WITHIN A MONTH. Police
prevented thousands of Albanians from storming the premises of the Sude
investment company in Tirana on 19 December, Radio Deutsche Welle's
Albanian language service reported. The four-year-old company was one of
many Albanian pyramid schemes offering monthly interest rates of up to
30%. More than 10,000 Albanians are estimated to have invested in Sude.
Many cheated Albanians reportedly blamed the government for allowing the
companies to operate. Another pyramid scheme head disappeared with $13
million in November. -- Fabian Schmidt

[As of 12:00 CET]

Compiled by Victor Gomez

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