Healthy children will not fear life if their elders have integrity enough not to fear death. - Erick Erikson
OMRI DAILY DIGEST

No. 12, Part II, 17 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

COUNCIL OF EUROPE WARNS BELARUS OVER FUTURE RELATIONS. The Council of
Europe warned Belarus on 16 January that further cooperation and
eventual membership are conditional on that country's greater respect
for democratic principles and human rights, international agencies
reported. Earlier this week, the CE Parliamentary Assembly suspended
Belarus's special guest status, which was conferred four years ago and
allowed the country to participate in assembly meetings without voting
rights. The assembly said the reason for the suspension was the
"undemocratic" way in which the November 1996 referendum was held. The
plebiscite gave sweeping powers to President Alyaksandr Lukashenka. The
CE, however, has said it is prepared to continue assisting Belarus in
the development of a civil society and free media. Meanwhile, Niels
Helveg Petersen, the new president of the OSCE, has voiced concerns over
Belarus's failure to restore democracy. He called on the government to
respect OSCE norms and principles by entering into a dialogue with the
opposition and ensuring freedom of the media, Reuters reported. --
Sergei Solodovnikov

BELARUSIAN PARLIAMENTARY LEADERS MEET WITH RUSSIAN DUMA SPEAKER. Anatol
Malafeyev and Paval Shypuk, leaders of the Belarusian lower and upper
houses, respectively, met with Russian State Duma speaker Gennadii
Seleznev, ITAR-TASS reported on 16 January. The April 1996 Treaty on the
Formation of a Community provides for such meetings to take place
regularly. One of the purposes of the meeting was to decide on a new
head for the Russian-Belarusian integration committee. The previous
incumbent was former Belarusian speaker Syamyon Sharetsky. Seleznev
announced after the meeting that "the Russian side is suggesting that I
take over the post, but this would have to be done with Belarus's
approval." -- Ustina Markus

CONTINUING DISPUTE OVER UKRAINE'S 1997 BUDGET. Parliamentary Chairman
Oleksander Moroz has expressed displeasure at the "new anti-parliament
campaign" over the passage of the 1997 budget, Ukrainian TV reported on
16 January. Moroz complained that the government has ignored the
legislature's 19 December resolution instructing the executive to revise
the 1997 budget draft within two weeks, adding that legislators would
not approve half-finished documents. However, the parliament has not yet
passed the tax-reform package necessary for the government to revise the
budget draft. U.S. economist Jeffrey Sachs, following a meeting with
President Leonid Kuchma on 13 January, said the parliament's repeated
delays over adopting tax-reform legislation were "dangerous," Ukraina
Moloda reported on 15 January. The parliamentary budget commission said
a second reading of the draft will take place in late February or early
March, according to Fax-gazeta on 16 January. -- Oleg Varfolomeyev

UKRAINIAN DEFENSE MINISTER ON ARMED FORCES' MEAGER BUDGET. Oleksandr
Kuzmuk, echoing the annual lament of his predecessors following the
passage of the state budget, has said that the military has sufficient
funds only to pay for the salaries and provisions of the armed forces,
Ukrainian radio reported on 16 January. He complained that the role of
the army is not limited to "eating porridge and receiving a paycheck"
but should include enhancing the security of the country. He noted that
no funds have been allocated for the purchase of military hardware and
that the army has had to sell off military assets to cover other needs.
Last year, such sales brought in 32 million hryvnyas ($17.7 million),
most of which was spent on building housing for servicemen and buying
military equipment. Kuzmuk said if the situation does not change, the
army will be left with nothing but "national awareness and Kalashnikovs"
by 2005. --  Ustina Markus

ESTONIAN POLICE CHIEF GIVES POLICEMEN TWO YEARS TO LEARN VERNACULAR.
Police Department Director-General Ain Seppik on 16 January announced
that non-Estonian-speaking policemen in Estonia's northeastern Ida-
Virumaa region and Narva will have until 1 January 1999 to pass the
language proficiency test required for citizenship, BNS reported. The
1996 Public Service Act provides for the dismissal of policemen who have
not been granted or have not submitted applications for Estonian
citizenship by 1 February or who do not speak the Estonian language
sufficiently well. A total of 192 policemen in Ida-Virumaa and Narva
come under those categories. Twenty-two have already declared they will
not submit citizenship applications. -- Saulius Girnius

LITHUANIAN PARLIAMENT OVERRIDES PRESIDENTIAL VETOES. The Seimas on 16
January approved once again three laws that President Algirdas
Brazauskas had refused to sign and had returned to legislators with
suggested amendments, RFE/RL reported. Brazauskas is now required to
sign the laws within three days. This is the fourth time the Seimas has
rejected the president's veto, suggesting that the ruling coalition of
Conservatives and Christian Democrats will feel confident to ignore his
objections also in the future. The same day, the Seimas ratified the
free-trade treaties with Slovenia, the Czech Republic, and Slovakia. --
Saulius Girnius

PARLIAMENTARY COMMISSION APPROVES POLISH DRAFT CONSTITUTION. The
parliamentary Constitutional Commission on 16 January approved the draft
constitution, Polish media reported. The draft now goes to the National
Assembly, which is expected to approve the document in February. It
reduces the powers of the president and guarantees all citizens equality
before the law as well as "free" public health care and education.
Discrimination is prohibited on the basis of religion, gender, and
sexual orientation. While virtually all parliamentary parties support
the draft constitution, representatives of the opposition Solidarity
trade union and other right-of-center parties not represented in the
parliament are opposed to it. A national referendum on the basic law is
expected in May. -- Ben Slay

POLISH PRIME MINISTER CRITICIZED IN ISRAEL. Discussions about the
restitution of property confiscated from Polish Jews by the Polish
government in 1968 dominated the second day of Prime Minister
Wlodzimierz Cimoszewicz's visit to Israel, Zycie Warszawy reported on 17
January. Cimoszewicz pointed out that his cabinet's re-privatization
legislation provides for restitution of confiscated properties to all
present and former Polish citizens, irrespective of nationality or
religion. Representatives of Polish Jewish organizations in Israel
called for more favorable terms for the restitution of Jewish property.
"The failure to amend the legislation raises questions about the
continuation of a dialogue with the Polish government," one
representative said. Legislation regulating restitution of and
compensation for property confiscated during the communist period has
been languishing in the Sejm since 1991. -- Ben Slay

SLOVAK RULING PARTY SETS DATE FOR ALL-PARTY TALKS. Movement for a
Democratic Slovakia (HZDS) chairman Vladimir Meciar and leaders of all
parliamentary parties will meet for talks next week, TASR reported on 16
January. Meciar had announced last month that such a meeting would take
place. Among the topics to be discussed are changes in the electoral
system and the timing of the next elections, HZDS spokesman Vladimir
Hagara announced. Meciar is in favor of holding parliamentary elections
next year in July rather than autumn and prefers combined or majority
electoral system over the current proportional one. While the opposition
rejects any changes in the electoral system, the HZDS has dismissed its
petition calling for a referendum on direct presidential elections. --
Anna Siskova

CZECH, SLOVAK RIGHT-WING PARTIES DISCUSS COOPERATION. Slovak National
Party Deputy Chairman Marian Andel and Czech Republican Party Chairman
Miroslav Sladek met in Bratislava on 16 January to discuss cooperation
in preventing "media demonization" of their parties, Slovak and Czech
news agencies reported. They also agreed to meet regularly for further
consultations. In an interview with the Slovak pro-government newspaper
Slovenska republika, Sladek once again commented that President Michal
Kovac is bad for Slovakia's reputation. The previous day, he had refused
to attend a meeting with the president. -- Anna Siskova

FRENCH PRESIDENT WANTS HUNGARY TO JOIN EU IN 2000. Jacques Chirac on 16
January said that France supports Hungary's joining the European Union
as early as 2000 and its application to join NATO, international media
reported. He added that "France will do everything possible to realize
this goal." Chirac was addressing the Hungarian legislature at the start
of his two-day visit to Budapest. Later, Chirac conferred on Hungarian
President Arpad Goncz and 12 other veterans of the 1956 uprising the
Grand Cross of the Legion d'Honneur. Goncz honored Chirac with the Grand
Cross of the Medal of Merit of the Republic of Hungary. The same day,
the Hungarian Supreme Court handed down its first verdicts in the trials
of those who helped put down the 1956 uprising. Three people have been
sentenced to four to five years in jail for their involvement in the
massacre of 46 protesters in the northern town of Salgotarjan in
December 1956, more than a month after the revolution was over. --
Zsofia Szilagyi

SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE

OUTGOING PREMIER SAYS BULGARIA ALMOST BANKRUPT . . . Zhan Videnov on 16
January said Bulgaria is on the verge of bankruptcy and that a new
government must be formed by the end of the month, RFE/RL and Duma
reported. He said the state will "soon be unable to function" because
its funds are exhausted and the 1997 state budget has not yet been
passed by the parliament. He added that a new government is needed for
negotiations with the IMF, urging that they start within a week.
Meanwhile, four leaders of the Alliance for Social Democracy--a
reformist faction within the ruling Bulgarian Socialist Party--have
announced they will quit the BSP because it is "incapable of reform."
They called for immediate parliamentary elections. Kontinent reported
they will form a new leftist party on 18 January. -- Stefan Krause

. . . WHILE NO LETUP IN PROTESTS IN SIGHT. Some 15,000 people on 16
January protested in Sofia against a new BSP-led government and urged
that early parliamentary elections be held, RFE/RL and Reuters reported.
Some 2,000 students marched to the president's office, where a
delegation was received by outgoing President Zhelyu Zhelev. Zhelev is
still refusing to give the BSP a mandate to form a new government.
Rallies were held in dozens of other towns throughout the country, and
miners, factory workers, teachers, doctors and others continued with
one-hour work stoppages. The BSP and the opposition appear to be no
closer to an agreement on forming a new government and calling early
elections. The opposition plans to stage a rally on 17 January near the
parliament building, which was the scene of violent clashes last Friday.
Zhelev is scheduled the same day to meet with Union of Democratic Forces
leaders to discuss the situation. -- Stefan Krause

HAS SERBIAN PRESIDENT BEEN MEETING WITH OPPOSITION? The Bosnian news
agency Onasa, citing Beta, reported on 16 January that Zajedno leaders
Vuk Draskovic and Zoran Djindjic have in recent weeks met with Serbian
President Slobodan Milosevic. No details of the meetings were given.
According to Onasa, Djindjic has said the main purpose of the meeting
was to find a solution to the political crisis gripping Serbia. He is
also quoted as saying that Milosevic "indirectly proposed to the
opposition that new elections be organized." However, Nasa Borba on 17
January reports that both Djindjic and Draskovic are categorically
denying having met with Milosevic. Draskovic said that the Beta report
alleging such meetings took place was a "lie." -- Stan Markotich

PRESSURE ON MILOSEVIC INCREASES . . . Meanwhile, pressure on the Serbian
president to recognize opposition wins in the 17 November municipal
runoff elections shows no signs of abating. On the contrary. Zajedno
leaders pledged at a mass rally in Belgrade on 16 January to continue
the protests and, if necessary, to intensify pressure. Zajedno leader
Vesna Pesic said, "I propose that we issue [the Serbian authorities] a
deadline for fully recognizing the election results, and to say that
after that deadline not a single institution in Serbia will have any
legitimacy," Reuters reported. The OSCE has said it opposes the idea of
Milosevic making piecemeal concessions to Zajedno. It urged him instead
to recognize the opposition wins without delay. -- Stan Markotich

. . . WHILE HE BIDES HIS TIME. For his part, Milosevic continues to
deploy stalling tactics. Tanjug reports that he has offered concessions
to the opposition, such as economic reform and cabinet shuffles, but has
resisted recognizing the opposition victories. In what may be a related
development, the Yugoslav Defense Council--which includes Milosevic,
Federal Premier Radoje Kontic, Montenegrin President Momir Bulatovic, as
well as top military leaders--met on 16 January to discuss solutions to
the political situation. Meanwhile, New Democracy, a coalition ally of
Milosevic's ruling Socialists, has said it advocates finding a solution
to the political crisis, Reuters reported on 16 January. -- Stan
Markotich

FORMER BOSNIAN SERB LEADER COMMITS SUICIDE. Nikola Koljevic, a professor
of English literature and former vice president of the Republika Srpska,
shot himself in the head in Pale on 16 January, news agencies reported.
The 60-year-old Koljevic had attempted several times to end his life
since his replacement as vice president following the September 1996
Bosnian elections. Koljevic participated in the talks that led to the
Dayton agreement and cultivated an image abroad as a moderate, but
Muslims in particular regarded him as a war criminal because of his role
in the siege of Sarajevo. -- Patrick Moore

IZETBEGOVIC ENTERS THE HOSPITAL. Alija Izetbegovic, the Muslim member
and current chair of the three-man collective presidency of Bosnia-
Herzegovina, entered the heart clinic of Sarajevo's Kosevo hospital on
16 January. His representative Mirza Hajric said that the 71-year-old
leader will undergo a planned series of tests during a five-day stay,
news agencies reported. Izetbegovic suffered a heart attack almost a
year ago. The Croatian member of the presidency, Kresimir Zubak, has
written Izetbegovic to ask him to name an acting chair of that body
during his absence, Oslobodjenje wrote on 17 January. -- Patrick Moore

MOSTAR CROATS EVICT ANOTHER MUSLIM FROM HER HOME. Two armed men on 14
January threw an unnamed 71-year-old woman Muslim woman out of the
apartment in Croat-held west Mostar where she had lived for 30 years,
AFP reported, quoting UN police. The thugs then took her out of town and
dumped her. They warned her not to scream or she would "end up the same
way" as another elderly Muslim woman who was evicted from her flat and
left to die in an abandoned building on Christmas Eve. A Croatian
soldier later moved into that apartment, claiming he had bought it in a
bar for DM 3,000. The woman invovled in the latest forcible eviction
case told police she is too afraid to go home. Both the UN police and
the international community's High Representative Carl Bildt condemned
the latest evictions, but they failed to say how such acts will be
prevented in the future or what they will do to punish those involved.
West Mostar is widely regarded as one of the most lawless areas in
Bosnia-Herzegovina and a place where Croatian military personnel,
politicians, and mafia figures cooperate closely. -- Patrick Moore

NEW ROMANIAN DEFENSE MINISTER ON NATO INTEGRATION. Victor Babiuc on 16
January excluded the possibility of Romania not joining NATO, Radio
Bucharest reported. Babiuc said "Romania should be admitted in the first
wave and by all means alongside Hungary." According to Reuters, he also
mentioned plans to privatize the country's weapons industry in order to
bring its military structures in line with NATO standards. Such plans
would depend largely on foreign investors, he added. In related news,
Romanian Foreign Minister Adrian Severin has responded to a statement by
his Hungarian counterpart, Laszlo Kovacs, saying that the change of
power in Romania facilitates Hungary's entry into NATO. Severin
emphasized that the two countries should join the alliance
simultaneously, pointing out that the September 1996 bilateral treaty
calls for mutual support in the countries' bid for NATO, EU, and WEU
integration. -- Zsolt Mato

MOLDOVAN PRESIDENT NOMINATES NEW PREMIER. Petru Lucinschi on 16 January
nominated Ion Ciubuc as prime minister to replace Andrei Sangheli,
international agencies reported. The 54-year-old Ciubuc pledged to form
a "cabinet of experts, irrespective of their political views." At the
same time, he said he would offer posts to some 30% of the previous
cabinet's members. Painting a bleak picture of the Moldovan economy, he
promised to foster privatization and restructuring. During the Soviet
era, Ciubuc, a trained economist, was a senior official at the State
Planning Committee. After independence, he served as a first deputy
prime minister and a deputy foreign minister. Since December 1994, he
has headed the State Auditing Office. -- Dan Ionescu

ALBANIAN GOVERNMENT SEIZES PYRAMID SCHEME FUNDS. In response to protests
over crumbling get-rich-quick investment schemes, the government on 16
January ordered the seizure of 25.5 billion leks ($255 million)
deposited in state-owned banks, Reuters reported. It said government
sequestration will continue until a parliamentary committee has studied
each investment account and ruled whether it belonged to a pyramid
scheme. Large numbers of police were deployed around Tirana to prevent a
repeat of clashes earlier this week. However, demonstrations against
collapsing pyramid schemes have now spread beyond Tirana. Protesters in
Vlora hurled stones at the city hall, breaking nearly all windows, to
express their outrage over the Gjallica scheme's decision to postpone
resuming payments to depositors. Similar protests have taken place in
Shkoder. In the wake of the demonstrations, the opposition has called
for mass protests against the government. -- Fabian Schmidt

[As of 12:00 CET]

Compiled by Jan Cleave

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