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. 16, Part II, 23 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

MORE THAN ONE THIRD OF UKRAINIANS WANT TO JOIN NATO. 36% of Ukrainians
believe Ukraine should some day join NATO, according to a poll conducted
by Socis-Gallup and the Democratic Initiatives Fund, UNIAN reported on
22 January. 19% said Ukraine should never join NATO; 45% were undecided.
12% of respondents said they trusted NATO, 19% did not trust it, 28%
neither trusted nor mistrusted it, and 41% were undecided. Those who
supported joining NATO were mostly young people, university graduates,
and people who also favor private enterprise. -- Oleg Varfolomeyev

DISCORD IN CRIMEAN POLITICS. Crimean political leaders continued to
quarrel over how to react to the demands placed upon them by the new
Ukrainian constitution, Ukrainian and Russian media reported on 22
January. Crimean Prime Minister Arkadii Demidenko, whose government is
supposed to resign, said last week's vote by the Crimean parliament to
change the name of his government in accordance with the Ukrainian
constitution was unconstitutional. Meanwhile, pro-Ukrainian and Tatar
deputies in the Crimean parliament failed in a new attempt to oust
speaker Vasel Kyselyov. More than one-third of deputies voted to put a
no-confidence motion against Kyselyov and the parliament's presidium on
the official agenda. In other news, leaders of the Crimean Tatars'
unofficial parliament appealed to Ukrainian and Crimean leaders to
reverse sharp cuts in broadcasting in the Tatar language. Tatar leaders
are collecting signatures to draw international attention to the
problems of Tatars who have returned to Crimea after their nation's
mass-expulsion in the 1940s. Some 100,000 repatriated Tatars still do
not have housing, and over 250,000 who want to return are not able to
because of lack of funds. -- Oleg Varfolomeyev

BELARUSIAN PRESIDENT DEFINES TERMS FOR UNION WITH RUSSIA. Speaking to
the Belarusian Foreign Ministry Collegium on 21 January, President
Alyaksandr Lukashenka said there are three basic principles under which
Belarus can be part of any alliance, including a union with Russia,
Belarusian radio reported. First and foremost is that Belarus retain its
sovereignty and statehood by being an equal partner. Second, Belarusian
citizens will never be sent to fight outside of the country, and third,
any alliance must be mutually beneficial. Meanwhile, Defense Minister
Alyaksandr Chumakou ruled out the possibility of a joint Russian-
Belarusian Army, ITAR-TASS reported. Both men were reacting to Russian
CIS Affairs Minister Aman Tuleev's statement the same day that Russia
and Belarus would unite by the year 2000 (See OMRI Daily Digest, 22
January 1997). -- Sergei Solodovnikov

CONTROVERSIAL LATVIAN FINANCE MINISTER RESIGNS. Prime Minister Andris
Skele accepted the resignation of Vasilijs Melniks on 22 January and
became acting finance minister, BNS reported. The controversy
surrounding Melniks's appointment had prompted Skele's own resignation
on 20 January. Skele and his cabinet will continue to work until the
Saeima confirms a new government. The Democratic Party Saimnieks, the
Latvia's Farmers Union, and the Christian Democratic Union have asked
President Guntis Ulmanis to renominate Skele as prime minister. The
second-largest party, Latvia's Way, while not yet formally backing
Skele, conceded that his reappointment was likely. Ulmanis plans to meet
with representatives of all the political parties, including opposition
ones, before nominating a new prime minister. -- Saulius Girnius

FIRST GENOCIDE TRIAL CONCLUDED IN LITHUANIA. A Vilnius district court
found three Lithuanian former members of the NKVD (a predecessor of the
KGB) guilty of "genocide" on 21 January, BNS reported. According to the
verdict, on 17 May 1945, Kirilas Kurakinas, Petras Bartasevicius, and
Juozas Sakalys burned Leopoldas Gaidys's house and killed four people,
including his pregnant wife and six-month-old child. Gaidys had been
hiding from the Soviet army. Kurakinas was formally sentenced to seven
years imprisonment and the other two to three years imprisonment, but in
compliance with an amnesty law, Kurakinas's sentence was reduced to two
years while the other two men's prison sentences were canceled. However,
the court confiscated all three of the men's property. The prosecutor
general's office is investigating another six "genocide" cases, but none
of those have yet been brought to court. -- Saulius Girnius

SOLIDARITY-LED COALITION LEADS POLISH POLL. According to a poll
conducted by the Public Opinion Research Center on 9-12 January, the
center-right coalition Solidarity Electoral Action (AWS) is the most
popular political force in Poland with 29% of public support. According
to the poll, published by Gazeta Wyborcza on 23 January, the co-ruling
Democratic Left Alliance (SLD) has 25%, the right-wing Movement for
Poland's Reconstruction (ROP) 16%, the co-ruling Polish Peasant Party
(PSL) 12%, and the centrist Freedom Union (UW) 7%. However, 35% of
respondents expected the left to win this fall's parliamentary elections
while 31% predicted the right's victory. There was also much greater
consensus on who should lead a future left-wing government than on who
should lead a right-wing one: 29% of respondents picked current Prime
Minister Wlodzimierz Cimoszewicz (SLD), while the next-most popular
choices -- former prime ministers Jozef Oleksy (SLD, 4%) and Waldemar
Pawlak (PSL, 3%) -- came far behind. ROP leader Jan Olszewski led with
11% among potential right-wing future prime ministers, ahead of UW
leader Leszek Balcerowicz (10%) and AWS leader Marian Krzaklewski (7%).
-- Jakub Karpinski

HAVEL EXPLAINS KOHL'S COMMENT ON PROPERTY CLAIMS. After meeting German
Chancellor Helmut Kohl on 21 January, Czech President Vaclav Havel spoke
on Czech Television about Kohl's comment that the Czech-German
declaration addressing mutual historical grievances does not preclude
property claims, which Kohl made during the signing ceremony in Prague
the previous day. Havel explained that although the Czech Republic and
Germany promise in the declaration not to burden their future relations
with legal claims arising from the past, the two countries cannot
prevent individual Sudeten Germans from individually demanding property
that was confiscated during the post-war expulsions of some 3 million
Germans from Czechoslovakia. "What's important for us is that the German
government will no longer support such claims," Havel said. In their
meeting, the two politicians talked mainly about European integration,
Czech media reported. -- Jiri Pehe

IMF SAYS SLOVAK ECONOMY COULD OVERHEAT. In a report made public on 21
January, the International Monetary Fund warns Slovakia its economy is
in danger of overheating and urges the introduction of stricter
financial policies to curb domestic consumption. According to the
report, which resulted from an IMF mission to Slovakia in October,
"After three years of fast economic growth and decreasing inflation the
Slovak economy shows signs of overheating." One such sign is the
significant deterioration of the current account (essentially the
foreign trade balance), which ran a $1.5 billion deficit in 1996 after a
$648.8 million surplus in 1995. "A further signal of overheating is the
fast growth of real wages, which increased by 12 percent over the past
12 months and to a high degree surpassed the growth of productivity,"
the report added. -- Jiri Pehe

SLOVAK UNEMPLOYMENT INCHES UP. At the end of 1996, Slovakia's
unemployment rate stood at 12.84%, up 0.67% from November, the National
Labor Office announced on 22 January. Slovakia's average unemployment
rate during the first nine months of 1996 was 12.2%. During that period,
the lowest unemployment by region was 4.4% in Bratislava; the highest
rates were in Trebisov (22.98%) and Rimavska Sobota (21.78%). -- Jiri
Pehe

EU SHOULD GIVE NEW MEMBERS SOME SLACK, SAYS HUNGARIAN BANK GOVERNOR.
Central European countries seeking EU membership should not be required
to meet the Maastricht economic criteria immediately, Hungarian National
Bank Governor Gyorgy Suranyi told leading financial experts at a
conference in Vienna sponsored by the British economic magazine
Euromoney. Suranyi said inflation in the region will be much higher for
at least five to ten years than what is required in the strict
Maastricht criteria, Hungarian media reported on 23 January. In the
course of accession negotiations, it should be taken into consideration
that EU countries are slowly and gradually adjusting to the criteria
while the Central European economies are going though a much faster and
more painful transition, he added. -- Zsofia Szilagyi

TWO HUNGARIAN OPPOSITION PARTIES SIGN COOPERATION AGREEMENT. The
Smallholders Party and the Christian Democrats began joint preparations
for the next general elections in 1998 with a pact signed on 22 January
by the two parties' presidents, Hungarian dailies reported. Smallholders
President Jozsef Torgyan and Christian Democratic President Gyorgy Giczy
described the agreement as a loose grouping of conservative-oriented
politicians. Giczy said the agreement could promote broader opposition
cohesion and will provide an opportunity for opposition parties to carry
out radical changes in Hungary once they win the elections. The pact
follows the 14 January announcement by the opposition Young Democrats
and Democratic Forum that they intend to field joint candidates in 1998
and would conclude a pre-election agreement by April. -- Zsofia Szilagyi

SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE

BOSNIAN CROAT-MUSLIM COALITION ON VERGE OF COLLAPSE? The Croatian
Democratic Community (HDZ) made good on its threat to boycott parliament
and government sessions of the mainly Croat and Muslim federation,
Oslobodjenje wrote on 23 January (see OMRI Daily Digest, 22 January
1997). Some opposition politicians spoke of a "collapse" in the
coalition between the federation's two ruling nationalist parties, the
HDZ and the Muslim Party of Democratic Action (SDA). Matters were
further complicated when Muslim Prime Minister Edhem Bicakcic pressed
for the removal of his deputy and finance minister, the Croat Drago
Bilajdzija, Dnevni avaz reported. Bicakcic has accused Bilandzija of
giving special treatment to a Herzegovinian Croat company that cost the
government $23 million in lost revenue, Onasa added. Political as well
as economic motives may well be behind Bicakcic's move, given the
generally poor relations between the SDA and HDZ. -- Patrick Moore

BOSNIA'S IZETBEGOVIC LEAVES HOSPITAL. Alija Izetbegovic, the Muslim
member of the three-man Bosnian presidency, left Sarajevo's Kosevo
Hospital on 22 January after a five-day stay. He underwent a planned
checkup approximately one year after he suffered a heart attack that
removed him from public life for some time. His doctor said tests showed
his "condition is satisfactory," Reuters reported. -- Patrick Moore

TUDJMAN SLAMS BALKAN INTEGRATION. Croatian President Franjo Tudjman,
delivering his annual state of the nation speech before parliament on 22
January, attacked recent attempts by the EU and the United States to
persuade Croatia to join regional cooperation arrangements for
southeastern Europe (see Pursuing Balkan Peace, 21 January 1997). For
most Croats -- and for most Slovenes -- such groupings are anathema as
they smack of an attempt to resurrect some form of Yugoslav state.
Tudjman got hearty applause when he said: "Reintegration of Croatia into
the Balkans is totally unacceptable for the Croatian people ... Croatia
belongs to Central European and Mediterranean circles. A short Balkan
episode in Croatian history [i.e. its inclusion in Yugoslavia] must
never be repeated ... We should add a new article, a constitutional ban
on attempts to merge Croatia with any Yugoslav or Balkan state or
federation." He warned that any ostensibly economic regional project
could lead down a slippery slope toward unacceptable political links.
Tudjman said Croatia would enter into agreements with Balkan countries
only when it was a member of the EU and could act together with its EU
partners. -- Patrick Moore

TUDJMAN GIVES NO HINT OF PLANNING CHANGES IN CROATIAN PRESIDENCY. During
his 22 January state of the nation address, President Franjo Tudjman
said presidential elections should go ahead in the second half of 1997
as scheduled, but did not say whether he would seek a third term.
Independent newspapers had suggested that his health problems are so
serious that he would try to postpone that vote and would propose
sweeping constitutional changes to prevent any future head of state from
having the French-type presidential powers he enjoys. But Tudjman did
not even mention such changes. Western news agencies suggested that he
looked thin but not as gaunt as immediately following his week-long stay
at Washington's Walter Reed Army Hospital last November. At that time,
American papers quoted unnamed diplomats saying Tudjman had inoperable
cancer and perhaps only months to live. -- Patrick Moore

FORMER MUNICIPAL OFFICIAL DESCRIBES SERBIAN VOTE RIGGING. Branko
Todorovic, a former deputy head of the municipal authority in the
industrial city of Nis, was quoted by the weekly Nedeljni Telegraf on 22
January saying the ruling Socialist Party of Serbia was involved in
massive vote rigging during the 17 November municipal runoffs. According
to Todorovic, two confidantes of Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic,
Nikola Sainovic and Gorica Gajevic, were largely responsible for the
vote rigging. "Before the elections, between 15,000 and 20,000 forged
ballots were handed to the Socialist Party of Serbia, along with the
instruction to stuff them into ballot boxes," Todorovic said. In other
news, the Belgrade electoral commission has again ruled that the
opposition Zajedno coalition did in fact win the 17 November election in
the capital, garnering 64 of a possible 110 seats in the Belgrade
Assembly. -- Stan Markotich

TOP U.S. OFFICIAL MEETS WITH SERBIAN STUDENTS. Assistant Secretary of
State John Kornblum met with representatives of Serbian students
protesting the regime of Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic, Reuters
reported on 22 January. "It was important for us to hear their views ...
we were able to stress to them our support for what they are doing,"
Kornblum said. Meanwhile, thousands of students continued their round-
the-clock demonstration in front of a police barricade in downtown
Belgrade, designed to prevent protesters from marching along the
capital's main streets, Nasa Borba reported on 22 January. -- Stan
Markotich

SERBIAN, MONTENEGRIN PRESIDENTS MEET. Serbian President Slobodan
Milosevic met with Montenegrin President Momir Bulatovic in Belgrade met
on 22 January. Afterward the two presidents issued a joint communique
stressing their commitment to unity. According to Nasa Borba, the main
purpose of the meeting was for the two leaders to emerge denying a spate
of recent reports of a rift in relations between the two republics of
the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia. The Montenegrin and Serbian
leaderships have at times appeared divided over how to resolve the
ongoing mass protests in Serbia, with some Montenegrins, notably Premier
Milo Djukanovic, advocating that at least partial concessions be made to
end the crisis. Federal Yugoslav Foreign Minister Milan Milutinovic's
failure to attend the 18 January funeral of Montenegrin Foreign Minister
Janko Jeknic had been interpreted as a sign that relations between
Serbia and Montenegro were deteriorating. -- Stan Markotich

WORLD BANK TO GRANT MOLDOVA LOANS FOR REFORMS. Moldova will get $100
million of credits from the World Bank in 1997, Moldpres reported on 22
January. The money is for various projects, including programs to speed
up industrial restructuring and stimulate private investment. James
Parks, the bank's permanent representative in Moldova, said the bank has
been "encouraged" by recent statements made by Moldova's new President
Petru Lucinschi and Premier Ion Cebuc in favor of speeding up economic
reforms and the transition to a market economy. "The slowdown in
structural reform has contributed to a further decline in industrial
output," Parks said, speaking of the previous government. According to
official data released on 21 January, the gross domestic product and
industrial output both fell by a record 8% in 1996. -- Dan Ionescu

DISPUTE OVER NEXT BULGARIAN GOVERNMENT CONTINUES. Bulgarian Socialist
Party (BSP) leader Georgy Parvanov denied his party plans to organize
"counter-rallies" against the opposition's protests, Standart reported
on 23 January, but said the BSP could undertake "civilized mass action"
to support the formation of a new BSP government. Stefan Savov, co-
chairman of the opposition People's Union, said that if President Petar
Stoyanov gives a mandate to the BSP, the BSP's attempt to form a cabinet
would lead to "unwanted consequences" for Bulgaria. Union of Democratic
Forces Chairman Ivan Kostov was cited by Trud saying that if the
opposition agrees to a new BSP cabinet that would mean accepting that
the Socialists hadn't failed and giving them a grace period. Stoyanov
and Vice President Todor Kavaldzhiev, elected on the opposition ticket
in the fall 1996 presidential election, took office in an official
ceremony on 22 January. -- Maria Koinova

ALBANIAN COURT SENTENCES PROTESTERS. Tirana District Court Chief Judge
Qazim Gjonaj sentenced 13 out of 54 defendants to between one and two
weeks in jail for participating in recent protests, Reuters reported on
22 January. Another 41 were fined 5,000 to 20,000 leks (about $50-$200)
and two were acquitted. The average monthly wage in Albania is around
$80. The protesters had participated in an anti-government demonstration
on 19 January organized by the opposition Socialist Party and the Center
Pole coalition. Prosecutors also started proceedings against the
organizers. The Socialist Party has pledged to sue the government for
using violence against the demonstrators. The protests were triggered by
the collapse of pyramid schemes; in a related development, AFP reported
on 23 January that the Albanian government had arrested about 50 people
for alleged involvement in those schemes. In other news, an appeals
court on 20 January acquitted former politburo member Pali Miska from
charges of crimes against humanity but upheld long prison terms for
eight other communist-era officials. -- Fabian Schmidt

[As of 12:00 CET]

Compiled by Tom Warner

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