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

No. 11, Part II, 16 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

BELARUS'S NEW FOREIGN MINISTER GIVES FIRST BRIEFING. Ivan Antanovich,
giving his first briefing since taking office, said that Belarus's
foreign policy will be "multi-directional" but will give top priority to
Russia, Belarusian Radio reported on 14 January. He added that union
with Russia would not affect Belarus's sovereignty and that further
steps toward integration would include synchronizing economic reforms,
customs unification, and the creation of joint energy facilities.
Antanovich also said Belarusian foreign policy will increase emphasis on
relations with the West and seek to improve relations with Asian and
Latin American countries. Meanwhile, there has been no official reaction
from Minsk to the Russian president's proposal to speed up integration.
-- Sergei Solodovnikov

NEW BELARUSIAN BANK HEAD APPOINTED. Mikalai Korbut was appointed head of
the National Bank of Belarus (NBB) on 15 January, international agencies
reported. Korbut had been vice president under Tamara Vinnikau, who was
dismissed the previous day and arrested on suspicion of embezzlement.
Commenting on the charges against his predecessor, Korbut said they were
connected to her activities before she joined the NBB. Irregularities
were discovered during an investigation launched by President Alyaksandr
Lukashenka into the financial activities of Belarusbank, which Vinnikau
had headed before her appointment to the NBB. More than 30% of loans
granted by Belarusbank had gone to companies that existed for only 24
hours; both the money and its recipients had vanished soon afterward.
Meanwhile, President Alyaksandr Lukashenka has completed all ministerial
appointments, Belarusian radio reported on 14 January. -- Ustina Markus

UKRAINIAN NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISER ON NATO. Volodymyr Horbulin said
that while Ukraine cannot join NATO at present, he does not exclude
membership in the future, ITAR-TASS and UNIAN reported on 15 January.
Since the constitution states that Ukraine is a neutral, non-aligned
state, that document would have to be amended to allow entry into the
alliance, he noted. Horbulin said Ukraine is currently seeking a special
agreement with NATO and plans to open a NATO information center in Kyiv
in the spring. He added that he hoped an agreement on special relations
with NATO will be submitted for approval at the NATO summit in July.
NATO's special relations with Russia should develop parallel to those
with Ukraine, but not on a trilateral basis, he commented. -- Ustina
Markus

ESTONIAN FOREIGN MINISTER IN FINLAND. Toomas Ilves, on a one-day
official visit to Finland on 15 January, met with his Finnish
counterpart, Tarja Halonen, who promised that visa-free travel between
the two countries would be introduced in the summer, BNS reported. Ilves
later held talks with Prime Minister Paavo Lipponen on bilateral
relations, European Union expansion, security problems in the Baltic Sea
area, and Estonian and Finnish relations with Russia. -- Saulius Girnius

NEW LATVIAN FINANCE MINISTER APPOINTED. The Seima has approved the
Democratic Party Saimnieks (DPS) nomination of 29-year-old businessman
Vasilijs Melniks as finance minister, BNS reported on 16 January. Prime
Minister Andris Skele held that post jointly with the premiership after
the dismissal of Aivars Kreituss in October. He rejected the party's
previous candidate, Sarmite Jegere, several days earlier. The daily
Diena claims that Melniks contravened the anti-corruption law by
simultaneously chairing the board of Riga Shipyards and serving on the
Riga port administration. The six caucuses in the ruling coalition
agreed to support his nomination, however, fearing in part that the DPS
might otherwise withdraw from the government. -- Saulius Girnius

POLISH CONSTITUTIONAL COMMISSION REJECTS POWIAT. The parliamentary
Constitutional Commission on 15 January rejected including an explicit
reference to a third administrative level-- the powiat--in the country's
basic law, Polish media reported. Former Prime Minister Tadeusz
Mazowiecki has proposed instead that a general clause be included
stating that "the territorial system ensures the decentralization of
public authorities." Meanwhile, commission representatives of the four
largest caucuses (the Democratic Left Alliance, Polish Peasant Party,
the Freedom Union, and the Labor Union) rejected all amendment proposals
by the two Solidarity senators Piotr Andrzjewski and Alicja Grzeskowiak.
The Commission is expected to vote today on the draft constitution. A
two-thirds majority of a quorum of half its 56 members is necessary for
the document's passage. -- Jakub Karpinski

POLAND TO TIGHTEN BORDER CONTROLS. Internal Affairs Minister Leszek
Miller has set up special teams composed of officials from various
ministries to deal with the issue of fighting organized crime, Polish
media reported on 16 January. That move is expected to streamline the
decision-making process. Miller also announced plans to tighten controls
on Poland's eastern border, which, he said, will "soon be the eastern
border of the European Union." New border crossings are to be opened and
old ones modernized. Also, the Border Guard is to be enlarged and
cooperation with border forces of Poland's eastern neighbors is to be
stepped up. -- Beata Pasek

UZBEK PRESIDENT SUPPORTS CZECH NATO MEMBERSHIP. Islam Karimov told
journalists in Prague on 15 January that he believes the Czech Republic
has the right to become a member of NATO. He added that he does not see
why the alliance should be perceived as a threat to former Soviet
countries, including Uzbekistan. At the same time, Karimov criticized
Russia's offer to Belarus to hold dual referendums on merging the two
countries. He said that although the current alliances between Russia
and Belarus and between Russia, Belarus, Kazakstan, and Kyrgystan were
established as economic blocs, Uzbekistan regarded them as military
blocs. "Russia has the right to enhance its security but it should not
be done by creating new blocs on the territory of the former Soviet
Union," argued the Uzbek president. -- Jiri Pehe

CZECH PARLIAMENTARY DELEGATION IN SLOVAKIA. A Czech parliamentary
delegation, led by Chairman of the House of Representatives Milos Zeman,
began a two-day visit to Bratislava on 15 January, Czech and Slovak
press agencies reported. Zeman reassured his Slovak counterpart, Ivan
Gasparovic, that Prague will support Slovakia's efforts to join NATO and
EU. Both sides agreed to put more pressure on their governments to step
up cooperation and to have more meetings between the two premiers.
Slovak President Michal Kovac also received the delegation. Miroslav
Sladek of the Assembly for the Republic--Czechoslovak Republican Party
refused to meet with the president, saying Kovac should feel obliged to
Premier Vladimir Meciar for his political career, Radio Twist reported.
-- Anna Siskova

HUNGARIAN PREMIER TO RE-HIRE SACKED PRIVATIZATION MINISTER? Gyula Horn
on 15 January offered Tamas Suchman the post of deputy chairman of the
parliament's European Integration Committee, Hungarian media reported.
Suchman is one of Horn's close political associates and has been
negotiating with the premier about the possibility of another government
post. Suchman was fired after a major privatization scandal broke last
October. The Socialist Party's parliamentary caucus has yet to approve
Horn's plan to re-hire his political ally and long-time friend. --
Zsofia Szilagyi

SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE

UPDATE ON BULGARIAN POLITICAL CRISIS. Bulgarian Socialist Party Chairman
Georgi Parvanov has said the BSP wants to form a new government by 19
January, Duma reported on 16 January. Petar Stoyanov is due to be sworn
in as new president on that day and to take office on 22 January. He
will then give the BSP a mandate to form a new government if no
consensus between the opposition and the Socialists is reached by then
and if outgoing President Zhelyu Zhelev refuses to issue such a mandate,
Standart noted. The BSP, saying it is prepared to accept early elections
by the end of the year, has called on the opposition to enter talks
about such a vote immediately. Union of Democratic Forces Chairman Ivan
Kostov has agreed to negotiations with the BSP. At the same time, he
demanded that no new government be formed under the present parliament
and that elections be held by May. -- Stefan Krause

PROTESTS, STRIKES CONTINUE IN BULGARIA. Tens of thousands of people took
to Sofia's streets again on 15 January to protest the propoal to form a
new BSP government and to support the opposition's demands for early
parliamentary elections, Bulgarian media reported. Hundreds of
university and high-school students as well as medical workers from
cities throughout the country took part. Some 1,200 taxis brought
traffic to a standstill in the capital. Miners in five mines stopped
working for one hour, while some 3,500 workers at chemical and
metallurgical plants downed tools. Ivan Naydenov of the Promyana trade
union said Bulgaria's biggest refinery--Neftochim in Burgas--will start
suspending operations as of 19 January if the Socialists do not meet the
opposition's demands. One of the main power plants in Sofia is to begin
today cutting heating supplies to seven Sofia neighborhoods for one hour
a day. -- Maria Koinova in Sofia

BULGARIAN INTERIOR MINISTER ON VIOLENT CLASHES LAST WEEK. Nikolay
Dobrev, who is also the BSP premier-designate, has said the police made
mistakes when they tried to contain the situation around the parliament
building on the weekend, RFE/RL and Bulgarian media reported. The
building was surrounded and subsequently stormed by protesters on 10-11
January, and several hundred protesters and policemen were injured.
Dobrev said the main objective of containing the situation "with the
least possible violence and without loss of life" had been achieved. But
he noted that there had been insufficient coordination among police
units and the lack of a special riot unit had been felt. Six people were
arrested in connection with the incidents, Dobrev said, adding that he
believed more arrests should have been made. He said it was unclear who
had beaten up former Prime Minister and SDS leader Filip Dimitrov and
other citizens. The police have claimed they did not use tear gas,
despite eye-witnesses claiming the opposite. -- Stefan Krause

PROTESTS IN SERBIA RESUME . . . An estimated 20,000 protesters returned
to Belgrade's streets on 15 January following a one-day break. Local
election commissions on 14 January recognized opposition Zajedno
victories in 14 municipalities, while the authorities indicated they
might accept at least some opposition coalition wins. But according to
Nasa Borba, the demonstrations have been resumed because fears persist
that the regime may be wavering. Democratic Party leader Zoran Djindjic
told the demonstrators that "We want our victory in its entirety."
Zajedno leader and head of the Serbian Renewal Movement Vuk Draskovic
added that "nothing is certain until we see whether the ruling
[Socialist Party of Serbia] will challenge" the electoral commissions.
-- Stan Markotich

. . . WHILE SPS DECLINES TO MAKE CONCESSIONS TO OPPOSITION. Radio B-92
reported on 15 January that members of the Belgrade University Council
left the premises that day under police escort following their decision
not to oust controversial university rector. Student leaders had
demanded that the hard-line university official be removed, saying that
otherwise nationwide student protests would continue. In other news,
media reports have suggested that while Serbian President Slobodan
Milosevic may be willing to compromise on some opposition wins, he is
attempting to hold on to other key cities, notably Belgrade. -- Stan
Markotich

DEAN OF KOSOVO UNIVERSITY INJURED IN CAR BOMB. The dean of the official
Serbian University of Pristina Radivoje Papovic and his driver were
seriously injured earlier today in a car bomb, a Koha journalist told
OMRI. Police said the bomb was placed in a parked vehicle in the central
Pristina district of Dardania and was probably activated by remote
control. Both that vehicle and the car Papovic was traveling in were
destroyed by the blast. Papovic is known for his fierce opposition to
allow ethnic Albanian students to continue their studies on the premises
of Pristina University under an agreement reached last September by
Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic and shadow-state President Ibrahim
Rugova. The Kosovo Liberation Army is thought to be behind the attack.
The group has taken responsibility for the killing of eight Serbs in
1996 as well as the murders since late December of three ethnic
Albanians working with the Serbian administration. -- Fabian Schmidt

DOES WASHINGTON FAVOR ASSIGNING BRCKO TO SERBS? Diplomats who asked not
to be named told Reuters on 15 January that U.S. envoy John Kornblum has
recommended to U.S. mediator Roberts Owen that the contested town of
Brcko be given to the Republika Srpska. Croats and Muslims would be
allowed to return to their homes in the area and be given an
internationally monitored transit corridor. The joint government of
Bosnia, which includes all three peoples, would control the town's
harbor on the Sava River, Oslobodjenje added on 16 January. The Dayton
agreement already supposedly guarantees the right of refugees to go home
and the right to freedom of movement. Owen, who is currently at
arbitration meetings in Rome, must reach a decision on the fate of the
town and the surrounding area by 15 February. -- Patrick Moore

SWIFT REACTION TO BRCKO REPORTS. The U.S. State Department quickly
denied that the leaked report represents Washington's policy, stressing
that any decision will be made by the arbitration commission itself,
Reuters and AFP reported on 15 January. Bosnian Co-Prime Minister Haris
Silajdzic added that he doubts that the contents of the report are
authentic, Oslobodjenje wrote. Vital considerations are at stake both
for the Serbs and for the mainly Croat and Muslim federation. The
controversy is so intense that Brcko was the one territorial issue that
proved impossible to resolve at the Dayton conference in late 1995. The
Serbs claim it because they have held it since early in the war and,
above all, because it connects the eastern and western halves of their
territory. The Muslims and Croats insist it is theirs on the basis of
the prewar census--that is, before ethnic cleansing. -- Patrick Moore

CROATIA CAUTIOUS ON U.S. BALKAN INITIATIVE. State Department envoy
Richard Stifter met with President Franjo Tudjman on 14 January to
discuss a proposal on economic and ecological cooperation in
southeastern Europe. The American position is that the region extending
from Hungary to Turkey contains at least 12 mainly small countries that
should best tackle problems of infrastructure and communications
together. Tudjman said that his country is interested in cooperation on
specific projects of an economic nature but rejects any new political
grouping. Croatia and Slovenia are the only ones of the 12 countries
approached so far that have yet to sign on to the project. The trend in
both countries is to stress themselves as being central European rather
than Balkan and to be deeply suspicious of anything that smacks of
relegating the two countries to the Balkans or of setting up a new
Yugoslavia, Croatian dailies on 14 and 15 January reported. -- Patrick
Moore

ROMANIAN CABINET, UNIONS DISCUSS ECONOMIC, SOCIAL PACKAGE. Several
ministers and trade union leaders on 15 January discussed a complex
reform package aimed at dealing with the country's economic and social
malaise, Radio Bucharest reported. Premier Victor Ciorbea said after the
meeting that the government has asked for a moratorium of two to three
weeks on implementing the program. He added that the delay was necessary
to get vital support from international financial organizations for the
reform process. Ciorbea also noted that the recent three-day talks with
World Bank representatives in Bucharest offered Romania "a big change"
to secure support from the bank to soften the effects of massive recent
price hikes. Trade unions warned against widespread social protests if
the government fails to improve social protection. -- Dan Ionescu

NEW MOLDOVAN PRESIDENT SWORN IN. Petru Lucinschi on 15 January was sworn
in as Moldova's second president since the country declared independence
from the Soviet Union in August 1991, local news agencies reported.
Lucinschi won the December run-off against his predecessor, Mircea
Snegur. Deputy Parliamentary Speaker Dumitru Diacov presided over the
inauguration ceremony. The parliament has failed three times to elect a
new chairman to replace Lucinschi, who resigned from that post last
week. In his inaugural speech, the new president repeated his electoral
pledge to ensure the country's "stability, order, and prosperity." He
said "normalization" of the situation in the breakaway Dniester region
was a "top priority" and expressed the hope that Russia would help
"eliminate that hotbed of conflicts in Europe." Dniester leaders
declined a formal invitation to attend the inauguration ceremony. -- Dan
Ionescu

ALBANIAN OPPOSITION CALLS ON COUNCIL OF EUROPE TO SUPPORT NEW ELECTIONS.
The Center Pole coalition and the Socialist Party have signed a
declaration to the Council of Europe calling for its support for
strengthening democracy in Albania, Gazeta Shqiptare reported on 15
January. The parties expressed concern about the continuing lack of a
full-fledged constitution, the failure of the government to adopt a law
providing for private broadcasting media, and "systematic human rights
violations." They also repeated their demand for new parliamentary
elections. Meanwhile, the Swedish government has decided to give former
Albanian ambassador ten days to leave the country. Bardhyl Kokalari
asked for political asylum in 1994, saying he risked the death penalty
for high treason if he was forced to return to Albania. Tirana had
recalled him after he helped an Albanian asylum-seeker write a letter to
the Swedish immigration authorities. -- Fabian Schmidt

ALBANIAN POLICE ARREST FOUNDER OF PYRAMID SCHEME. Police arrested
Maksude Kademi, the founder of the Sude investment company, and 18 of
her close collaborators on 15 January, Albania reported. Kademi had
stopped paying the investors in her pyramid scheme in November. Some
5,000 angry Sude investors clashed with police while marching into
central Tirana after Central Bank Governor Kristaq Luniku ruled that the
daily withdrawal for a single client would be limited to $300,000.
Following the ruling, Kademi put the blame for her insolvency on the
government. The demonstrators reportedly charged the government with
stealing investors' money. Luniku strongly rejected these charges and
said limiting access to assets was "normal," Gazeta Shqiptare reported.
Elsewhere, cheated investors of the Gjallica scheme clashed with police
in Vlora on 16 January. -- Fabian Schmidt

[As of 12:00 CET]

Compiled by Jan Cleave

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