When in doubt, tell the truth. - Mark Twain
OMRI DAILY DIGEST

No. 9, Part II, 14 January 1997


OMRI DAILY DIGEST
No. 9, Part II, 14 January 1997

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

BELARUSIAN SPECIAL STATUS IN COUNCIL OF EUROPE SUSPENDED. The Council of
Europe suspended Belarus's special guest status in the organization on
13 January, international agencies reported. Council President Leni
Fischer said the new Belarusian constitution does not respect human
rights. The pan-European body is geared toward promoting democracy and
human rights. Fischer added that the council cannot recognize the new
Belarusian parliament, which was not elected under the new constitution
but formed on the basis of the deputies' loyalty to the president. As
Belarus has become more alienated from the West and its East European
neighbors, Belarusian President Alyaksandr Lukashenka has been pushing
for tighter ties with Russia. -- Ustina Markus

BELARUSIAN UPPER HOUSE MEETS. The Council of the Republic met for the
first time on 13 January, ITAR-TASS and NTV reported. The new body
consists of 64 senators--eight from each of the six regions as well as
Minsk with the remaining eight appointed by President Alyaksandr
Lukashenka. So far, 58 senators have been elected. During the session,
deputies unanimously elected Paval Shypuk to head the new chamber.
Lukashenka said the role of the new upper house is to review laws
drafted by the lower house rather than to draft them. He added that the
parliament should busy itself with bringing Belarus's legislation into
line with Russia's to facilitate integration (see "Yeltsin Proposes
Referendum on Merger With Belarus," in Russian section) . -- Ustina
Markus

UKRAINIAN PRESIDENT MEETS SACHS, WIFE IN CRIMEA. Leonid Kuchma met with
the U.S. economist and architect of Poland's economic reforms, Jeffrey
Sachs, Ukrainian Radio reported on 13 January. Sachs noted that foreign
investment in Ukraine has been low and said the parliament must pass a
new budget based on a reformed tax system in order to attract more
investment. He also said the National Bank of Ukraine must continue with
its tight monetary policy. The same day, the president's wife, Lyudmilla
Mykolaivna, visited children's homes in Simferopol, Sevastopol, and
Yalta to familiarize herself with the conditions there. She donated
vitamins worth $2,000 to local pharmacies. -- Ustina Markus

ENERGY SITUATION IN UKRAINE. Energy Minister Yurii Bochkarov made a
special appeal to the Ukrainian public on 13 January, Ukrainian Radio
reported. He warned that energy supplies are at a critical level and
called on everyone to lower their consumption of energy by 20%. The
energy production potential of the Dnipropetrovsh hydroelectric station,
which supplies water to one-third of Ukraine's territory, has been
almost completely used up. Bochakov said one of the biggest problems has
been the indebtedness of consumers. Ukrainians owe 2.5-2.7 billion
hryvnyas ($1.4 billion) for energy, and Bochakov warned that those who
do not pay will not receive energy supplies. -- Ustina Markus

CRIME IN BALTIC STATES IN 1996. The number of crimes in Lithuania in
1996 increased by 11.9% compared with the previous year but fell by 2.4%
in Latvia and 10.5% in Estonia, ELTA reported on 13 January. Estonia,
however, had the highest per capita crime rate with 239.9 crimes per
10,000 population, while Lithuania and Latvia had rates of 183.3 and
151.8, respectively. The crime-resolution rate in Estonia was only
32.5%, while it was 41.3% in Lithuania and 44.2% in Latvia. -- Saulius
Girnius

NORWEGIAN FOREIGN MINISTER VISITS LATVIA. Bjorn Tore Godal held talks
with Prime Minister Andris Skele, Foreign Minister Valdis Birkavs,
Saeima Chairman Alfreds Cepanis, and other officials in Riga on 13
January, BNS reported. He stressed that NATO and the EU should start
membership talks with the Baltic states simultaneously and that
Scandinavia is not distinguishing between the three countries. He
criticized attempts to give any of them precedence in membership,
describing efforts to see Lithuania as closer to Central and Eastern
Europe and Estonia as almost a part of Finland as "rubbish." Godal noted
that Europe cannot have a common security system without the involvement
of Russia, but he added that Russia does not have a right to veto NATO
enlargement. -- Saulius Girnius

ROMANIAN PRESIDENT IN POLAND. Emil Constantinescu and his Polish
counterpart, Aleksander Kwasniewski, agreed in Poland on 13 January that
their two countries would boost economic and political relations and
cooperate in their efforts to join the EU and NATO, international
agencies reported. Kwasniewski said experts from both countries would
meet to work out concrete measures. He also promised that Poland would
back Romania's efforts to join the Central European Free Trade
Agreement. Both presidents said that Ukraine has a special role in their
foreign policies. It is Constantinescu's first official trip abroad
since his election in November last year. -- Jakub Karpinski

POLISH CONSTITUTIONAL UPDATE. Representatives of the four biggest party
caucuses in the Sejm--the Democratic Left Alliance, Polish Peasant
Party, the Freedom Union, and the Labor Union--on 13 January met for the
third time to discuss the draft constitution. Former Prime Minister
Tadeusz Mazowiecki (UW) said they were in such agreement "on the basic
problems" and "the rest can be discussed at the meeting of the
Constitutional Commission." Some controversies remain: whether to
introduce a three-tier territorial administration or stick with the
current two-level version; whether a so-called "social rights" provision
should be included that would guarantee housing, education, and health
care for all citizens; how many votes it would take in the Sejm to
override a presidential veto; what categories of Constitutional Tribunal
decisions are final. The Constitutional Commission will meet on 15
January. -- Jakub Karpinski

YAVLINSKII IN PRAGUE. Grigorii Yavlinskii, chairman of Russia's Yabloko
political faction and a recent presidential candidate, said at a seminar
organized by a private foundation in Prague that Russia has natural and
economic resources but lacks experience with democracy, Czech media
reported. Yavlinskii emphasized that 1996 was an important year in
Russia's history because "it was the first time that 75% of people took
part in democratic presidential and parliamentary elections." According
to Yavlinskii, no country, including Russia, has a right to lecture
other countries on who should become a NATO member. But he warned that
NATO's expansion would worsen the domestic political situation in Russia
and could lead to the collapse of Russian foreign policy as it has
developed over the last five years. -- Jiri Pehe

SLOVAK PRIME MINISTER CALLS FOR NATO REFERENDUM. Slovak Prime Minister
Vladimir Meciar has confirmed his view that a referendum must be held on
Slovakia's membership in NATO, TASR and CTK reported on 13 January. In
interview for Slovak Radio, Meciar stressed that the government will
discuss the issue at a 14 January meeting. Meciar said the referendum
campaign should last three months and said experts from various
countries, including the U.S. and Russia, would be invited to
participate in the campaign. Opposition Christian Democratic Movement
Chairman Jan Carnogursky said Slovakia should exercise restraint in its
attempt to join NATO in order to buy time for maneuvering between East
and West. -- Anna Siskova

SLOVAK RULING PARTY REJECTS REFERENDUM ON PRESIDENTIAL ELECTIONS. The
governing Movement for Democratic Slovakia (HZDS) called on its
supporters and members to not support the referendum on direct
presidential elections, which is being organized by the opposition
parties, CTK reported on 14 January. In a statement, the HZDS accused
the opposition of "demagogy" and unconstitutional maneuvering. Slovak
President Michal Kovac signed a parliamentary petition to hold a
referendum on 13 January. Kovac said he is not interested in running for
another term as president. -- Anna Siskova

HUNGARIAN PRIME MINISTER CRITICIZES SERB, BULGARIAN HARDLINE SOCIALISTS.
Gyula Horn on 13 January fiercely criticized the Belgrade and Sofia
governments, blaming the current wave of mass unrest on the fact that
the two Socialist governments have delayed democratic reforms. He noted
that while his Hungarian Socialist Party has been accepted into the
worldwide Socialist International, the Serbian and Bulgarian Socialist
parties have not. Horn's remarks follow a 12 January government
statement voicing concern over recent developments in Serbia and a
Hungarian deputy's speech that was critical of Serbian President
Slobodan Milosevic at an opposition rally in Belgrade. -- Zsofia
Szilagyi

SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE

NEW DEMONSTRATIONS, UPCOMING GENERAL STRIKE IN BULGARIA. Between 30,000
and 100,000 people took to the streets in Sofia on 13 January to support
opposition demands for early elections, Bulgarian media and AFP
reported. Their rally was preceded by a student's demonstration that
passed by the embassies of Italy, Austria, and the U.S. The students
handed out appeals to the diplomats asking them not to support a new
Bulgarian Socialist Party (BSP) government. "We don't want to fill the
immigration lists of your countries," students said in the appeal.
Meanwhile, the Confederation of Labor "Podkrepa" announced that it had
scheduled a nationwide strike for 15 January. Members of the "Promyana"
alliance have already started striking in the Burgas and Varna harbors
and in Bulgaria's largest fuel plant, Neftohim Burgas. The Confederation
of Independent Trade Unions in Bulgaria was the last major union to join
the general strike. All striking activities will be coordinated by the
opposition. -- Maria Koinova in Sofia

BULGARIAN SOCIALISTS AGREE "IN PRINCIPLE" TO EARLY ELECTIONS. The BSP
Executive Bureau on 13 January "agreed in principle to the idea of
holding early parliamentary elections in the context of the
implementation of a national anti-crisis program," Bulgarian and Western
media reported. The Socialists said they are ready to start talks with
the opposition on early elections and on the "character and composition"
of a new government which they insist must be led by the BSP. The BSP
said its premier-designate, Interior Minister Nikolay Dobrev, is non-
negotiable. BSP leaders also said that early elections should not be
held before the end of the year. The Union of Democratic Forces (SDS)
leadership will meet on 14 January to discuss the offer. SDS Chairman
Ivan Kostov accused the Socialists of tactical delays since only the BSP
Supreme Council--rather than Executive Bureau--is authorized to make a
final decision on the issues at stake. -- Stefan Krause

BELGRADE MASS PROTEST USHERS IN NEW YEAR. Demonstrators gathered in
Belgrade for one of the largest protest marches so far on 13 January as
the country celebrated the Christian Orthodox New Year's Eve, Nasa Borba
reported. According to some estimates, as many as 500,000 demonstrators
flooded into Belgrade's streets to protest against the regime of Serbian
President Slobodan Milosevic and to demand that the authorities
recognize opposition victories in the 17 November runoff of the
municipal elections. Riot police, who had assumed a high public profile
in recent weeks, remained for the most part in their barracks,
international media reported. Mass demonstrations also took place in
other cities across Serbia, marking the 55th consecutive day of the
ongoing protest. -- Stan Markotich

IS SERBIA'S PRESIDENT SINCERE ABOUT MAKING CONCESSIONS? According to a
14 January report in Dnevni Telegraf, Serbian President Slobodan
Milosevic is preparing to recognize the Zajedno opposition coalition's
electoral victories in 13 municipalities. He is not expected, however,
to make concessions on the Belgrade Municipal Assembly but may recognize
opposition wins in a handful of Belgrade's municipal districts. The
newspaper speculates that Milosevic may attempt such a move as a way of
putting a stop to the ongoing mass demonstrations across Serbia. It
would also provide him with a pretext for resorting to force should the
demonstrations continue. -- Stan Markotich

BOSNIAN FEDERAL ARMY TAKES SHAPE. The planned structure of the new
mainly Croatian and Muslim joint army was announced in Sarajevo on 13
January, two days after presidency members Kresimir Zubak and Alija
Izetbegovic signed an agreement. The new force will include 14 brigades
divided among four corps--three [Muslim] and one Croat--plus two rapid-
reaction battalions. There will also be a combined artillery division
and other combined units for air-defense, logistics, training, and
helicopters, AFP reported. The two nominal allies fought a brief but
vicious war in 1993, which was ended only thanks to vigorous U.S.
political and economic pressure on both sides. A major problem has
subsequently been to overcome mutual mistrust and local power interests
in order to make the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina a reality.
Nowhere has real cooperation proven more difficult than in military and
police affairs. -- Patrick Moore

BRITAIN WARNS BOSNIA ON RECONSTRUCTION AID. U.K. Defense Minister
Michael Portillo said in Banja Luka on 12 January that aid will be
contingent on the implementation of the Dayton agreement, Onasa wrote.
He added that war criminals must be brought to justice if a lasting
peace is to take root but pointed out that the present peace is no
guarantee that war will not break out again some months hence. In
contrast to many Western official visitors to the region, he spoke
bluntly and refused to paint a rosy picture: "Despite political
progress, I don't think there is much progress in reconciliation...
There is precious little sign of the population wishing to tolerate each
other." The following day, Portillo warned that SFOR's mandate will not
be extended after it runs out in mid-1998. He added that all sides
should now concentrate on restoring basis infrastructure links. --
Patrick Moore

SLAVONIAN UPDATE. Bosnian Prime Minister Haris Silajdzic, a Muslim,
warned against attempts to resettle ethnic Serbs from eastern Slavonia
into Bosnia when eastern Slavonia returns to Croatian control this
summer. He said that such a migration would endanger peace in Bosnia,
Oslobodjenje on 11 January quoted him as saying. U.S. Ambassador to
Croatia Peter Galbraith meanwhile told eastern Slavonian Serbs that the
Croatian army will be stationed in Vukovar and elsewhere in the area
after Croatian officials return on 17 July, Vecernji list reported. The
international community has been urging the Serbs to stay put, but they
have been seeking guarantees that go beyond existing agreements as a
prerequisite to do so. Croatian authorities on 13 January presented a
document to the UN outlining future rights for the Serbs, which the UN
administrator Jacques Klein said was very positive and does indeed go
well beyond existing agreements, AFP reported. -- Patrick Moore

KOSOVO LIBERATION ARMY CLAIMS RESPONSIBILITY FOR KILLING ALBANIAN. The
secretive Kosovo Liberation Army (UCK) has claimed responsibility for
the 9 January killing of Maliq Sheholli, international agencies reported
on 13 January. Sheholli was a member of Serbian President Slobodan
Milosevic's Socialist Party of Serbia and a member of the Podujevo City
Council. The UCK said in a statement that the killing "is a warning to
all other collaborators and national traitors." The group called the
murder an "execution," adding it had warned Sheholli to "stop
cooperating with enemies." The group killed eight Serbs and one ethnic
Albanian police officer last year. -- Fabian Schmidt

CONSERVATIVE LEADER OPEN TO COOPERATION WITH SLOVENIAN PRIME MINISTER.
Slovenian People's Party leader Marjan Podobnik 13 January said he is
considering the idea of joining a coalition led by Liberal Democratic
Party leader Janez Drnovsek, who was recently re-elected prime minister.
"We support a government of national unity in which all or most
parliamentary parties would be included," Reuters quoted Podobnik as
saying. Podobnik, whose party controls 19 of the parliament's 90 seats,
had previously ruled out any cooperation with the legislature's 25
Liberal Democrats. The parliamentary elections were held on 10 November
1996. -- Stan Markotich

TENSION IN ROMANIA'S RULING COALITION. Constantin Ticu Dumitrescu, head
of the Former Political Detainees' Association which is affiliated to
the coalition party Democratic Convention of Romania (CDR), suggested on
13 January that Senate Chairman Petre Roman, the head of the coalition
party Social Democratic Union (USD), shares responsibility with former
President Ion Iliescu for the miners' violent marches on Bucharest in
1990, Romanian media reported. Ion Diaconescu, chairman of the National
Peasant Party Christian Democratic, said it was "natural" that Roman,
who was prime minister at the time, had to be "on Iliescu's side."
Another CDR member, Romania's Alternative Party, proposed the creation
of a technical secretariat to prevent future "misunderstandings" between
the CDR and USD. Meanwhile, the CDR might exclude the National Liberal
Party-Democratic Convention, because its chairman, lawyer Niculae
Cerveni, took over the defense in corruption cases. -- Dan Ionescu

ROMANIAN NATIONALISTS OPPOSE HUNGARIAN CONSULATE IN CLUJ. The Local
Council of Cluj on 13 January issued a statement calling the decision to
reopen a Hungarian consulate there as "unwelcome and lacking any
pragmatic basis," Radio Bucharest reported. Cluj Mayor Gheorghe Funar,
who heads the extremist Party of Romanian National Unity, said that he
would use all democratic means to fight against what he described as an
"irresponsible" decision. The government coalition councilors walked out
of the extraordinary council meeting in protest. The council's statement
came after news that Foreign Minister Adrian Severin had agreed to the
consulate's reopening during a visit to Budapest in late December. Last
week, all parliamentary opposition parties objected to the reopening.
The consulate was closed down in 1988 under Nicolae Ceausescu. -- Zsolt
Mato

ALBANIAN GOVERNMENT GIVES IN TO STUDENTS' DEMANDS. The Albanian
government has responded to a student strike that began on 6 January by
pledging to take a series of measures to improve the living and working
conditions of university students. The Independent Students Union has
called of the strike, Republika reported on 13 January. The government
will establish a special governmental body to look after the students'
problems, the students will be allowed to administer cultural and sports
facilities at their campus, and living conditions at the dormitories
will be improved. Talks with the government are scheduled for 14 January
and will focus on questions of financial support for students and a
shorter compulsory military duty. The government had already allocated
special funds in the 1997 budget to improve living and teaching
conditions for students, international agencies reported. -- Fabian
Schmidt

[As of 12:00 CET]

Compiled by Victor Gomez

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            Copyright (c) 1997 Open Media Research Institute, Inc.
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