The soul that is within me no man can degrade. I am not the one that is being degraded on account of this treatment, but those who are infliciting it upon me. - Frederick Douglass
OMRI DAILY DIGEST

No. 19, Part II, 28 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 PUSHES FOR TALKS ON CURRENCY UNION. Belarusian First Deputy
Prime Minister Piotr Prakapovich last week announced that the Belarusian
government has invited the Central Bank of Russia to start talks on
synchronizing the two countries' exchange rates, Belarusian Radio
reported on 26 January. This is considered an initial step toward
unification of the two currencies. But Sergei Aleksashenko, first deputy
chairman of the Russian Central Bank, has denied receiving such an
invitation from the Belarusian government. He stressed that although
currency union is crucial, it should not be the starting point for
unification in general. His point of view is shared by National Bank of
Belarus officials, who argue that monetary union should not begin until
substantial differences in the two government's monetary policies have
been addressed. -- Sergei Solodovnikov

UKRAINIAN MINERS PLAN MARCH ON KYIV. The Central Committee of the
Ukrainian miners' union has urged the Coal Industry Ministry to insist
that this year's budget include subsidies totalling $2.3 billion for
coal-mining enterprises, ITAR-TASS reported on 27 January. The
parliament is scheduled to debate the 1997 budget on 4 February. A trade
union spokesman said that miners are planning to march on Kyiv to picket
the buildings of the presidential administration and the parliament on
4-5 February. Some 2,000 miners are expected to take part in the march.
-- Oleg Varfolomeyev

ESTONIAN PRIME MINISTER ADDRESSES COUNCIL OF EUROPE. Tiit Vahi told the
Council of Europe's Parliamentary Assembly in Strasbourg on 27 January
that Estonia's future lies in a fully integrated Europe, ETA reported.
He added that he hoped the council will decide later this month to stop
monitoring Estonia. If it does, Estonia will become the second country
in Eastern Europe, after Hungary, where CE monitoring has been scrapped.
Vahi said one of his government's priorities is to help all permanent
residents, especially the Russian-speaking community, to integrate fully
into Estonian society. He also pledged to submit today the Geneva
Convention on Refugees for ratification. -- Saulius Girnius

LITHUANIA'S EU MEMBERSHIP HINDERED BY BORDER PROBLEMS. Anita Gradin, EU
commissioner for immigration, justice, and internal affairs, has said
that although Lithuania is ready to join the EU, it still needs to
resolve border security issues, BNS reported. Gradin is currently on a
three-day visit to Lithuania. She and Prime Minister Gediminas Vagnorius
signed border aid agreements similar to those recently concluded with
Latvia (see OMRI Daily Digest, 24 January 1997). Gradin noted that most
illegal refugees in Lithuania are economic migrants who are not entitled
to political refugee status. She did not say whether the EU will urge
Russia and Belarus to sign readmission agreements with their neighbors.
-- Saulius Girnius

POLISH NEWS. Grazyna Opinska, spokeswoman for the Polish Committee for
European Integration, has said Poland's relations with the EU have been
strained by favorable conditions granted to the Korean automobile
company Daewoo, Polish media reported on 28 January. Daewoo assembles
cars from imported parts at automobile factories in Lublin and Zeran
that it now owns. The EU claims that this arrangement constitutes the
duty-free import of Daewoo cars. In 1996, Daewoo sold 38,000 cars in
Poland, ten times more than in the previous year. In other news, the
opposition Freedom Union is reported to be facing parliamentary
extinction. In a recent Public Opinion Research Center (CBOS) poll,
Freedom Union (UW) received only 4% of the vote--one percentage point
short of the 5% support needed for parliamentary representation
(although it performed better in other polls). Rzeczpospolita reported
on 28 January that the UW is losing its electorate to Solidarity
Electoral Action. -- Beata Pasek and Jakub Karpinski

CZECH PARLIAMENTARY SPEAKER IN GERMANY TO DISCUSS JOINT DECLARATION.
Milos Zeman was in Berlin on 27 January to discuss the possibility of
adopting a preamble to the Czech-German declaration, international media
reported. The declaration, signed by the two countries' premiers last
week, still has to be ratified by the Czech and German parliaments.
Zeman told journalists before his departure that he would discuss
several variants of the preamble with his German partners. After meeting
with German President Roman Herzog, he said that Herzog had responded
positively to his proposals for the preamble. Zeman is scheduled today
to meet with parliamentary chairwoman Rita Suessmuth, Foreign Minister
Klaus Kinkel, and representatives of all factions in the Bundestag. --
Jiri Pehe

SLOVAK UPDATE. President Michal Kovac has asked Movement for a
Democratic Slovakia (HZDS) deputy Dusan Macuska to prove in court that
recent allegations about the president's "economic crimes" are true,
TASR reported on 27 January. Macuska made the allegations during a
Slovak TV talk show broadcast on 26 January. Meanwhile, the private
television station VTV--which has close ties to the HZDS--has broadcast
a third "documentary" attacking Kovac's son (see OMRI Daily Digest, 30
December 1996). The program featured more "secret witnesses" who backed
government claims that Kovac Jr. himself staged his August 1995
abduction. Kovac Jr. plans to sue the station. Novy Cas reported on 28
January that the name of former VTV Director Jan Izak, who moderated and
directed the program, appeared on the list of employees of the former
communist secret police. In other news, Kovac Jr. received an anonymous
death threat on 27 January. -- Anna Siskova and Sharon Fisher

HUNGARIAN JEWS DISAPPOINTED ABOUT SWISS LIST OF DORMANT ACCOUNT HOLDERS.
Hungarian Jewish leaders have said that a Swiss list of 33 wartime bank
account holders is only a fraction of what they believe could be the
total number of accounts that belonged to Hungarian holocaust victims,
Reuters reported. Switzerland on 27 January handed over to Hungary the
list of accounts that were declared ownerless after World War II.
Foreign Minister Laszlo Kovacs commented that it is not easy to identify
the legitimate owners of the accounts because the list gives only names,
many of which are followed by a question mark. Peter Feldmajer,
president of the Hungarian Jewish Communities estimates that there could
be several thousand dormant account holders. He added that they will
search for the inheritors of the accounts and that the rest of the money
will go into a foundation soon to be established to administer
compensation to Jews. -- Zsofia Szilagyi

SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE

ALBANIAN DEMOCRATS, OPPOSITION BLAME EACH OTHER FOR PYRAMID CRISIS . . .
The ruling Democratic Party has issued a resolution calling the recent
riots "terrorism organized by the leaders of the Socialist Party and
other extreme left-wing parties against democratic institutions in
Albania," local media reported. Tens of thousands of Albanians have
recently taken to the streets to protest the collapse of pyramid
schemes. The opposition, meanwhile, accused the government of
involvement in the pyramid schemes and called for a caretaker government
and new elections. It also criticized the parliament's decision to
deploy the army, claiming that the country is de facto under martial
law. President Sali Berisha, however, has rejected suggestions that
martial law be imposed, and Defense Minister Safet Zhulali has said the
army will "never be used against the people." Both the Democrats and the
opposition have called for demonstrations in Tirana today. -- Fabian
Schmidt

. . . WHILE PROTESTS SPREAD NORTH. Some 1,000 people took to the streets
in Shkoder on 27 January to demand a solution to the current crisis over
the collapse of the pyramid schemes, international media reported. No
clashes were reported. In Peshkopija, a mob set fire to the city hall
and ambushed the local police station, injuring an unspecified number of
policemen. Protesters also beat up a state TV cameraman and smashed his
camera. In Tirana, soldiers guarded the central bank, television
headquarters, and government buildings. Elsewhere, they cleared roads of
barricades. Meanwhile, Socialist Party leader Ndre Legisi suffered a
fractured skull after he was attacked by three or four unidentified men
near the office of Zeri i Popullit. His condition is reported to be
critical. -- Fabian Schmidt

BULGARIAN PRESIDENT CALLS ON SOCIALISTS, OPPOSITION TO REACH COMPROMISE
. . . Petar Stoyanov, in his first nationwide address as president,
appealed to the Bulgarian Socialist Party and the opposition to find a
solution to the current political crisis, RFE/RL reported on 27 January.
Stoyanov said he will give the BSP a mandate to form a new government,
as required by the constitution. But he urged the Socialists not to
accept it and to agree instead to opposition demands for early
parliamentary elections in May. Stoyanov also called on the opposition
to end their boycott of the parliament and asked both sides to respond
to his appeal today. He said he wants to name an interim government and
call an extraordinary 10-day session of the parliament to pass crucial
economic legislation. -- Stefan Krause

. . . AND GETS MIXED RESPONSE. BSP Chairman Georgi Parvanov criticized
Stoyanov's proposal, saying that 10 days is not enough to adopt the
necessary economic legislation, international media reported. He added
that he wants the next government to be headed by Interior Minister
Nikolay Dobrev. But the opposition is unlikely to agree to that proposal
since it holds Dobrev responsible for the violent clashes between
demonstrators and police on 10-11 January. Meanwhile, Dobrev hinted that
he may withdraw his candidacy if no solution to the crisis can be found,
Trud reported. Union of Democratic Forces Chairman Ivan Kostov said "I
did not exactly expect that from [Stoyanov], but we will support his
efforts to overcome the crisis." Meanwhile, around 18,000 people in
Sofia demonstrated against the formation of a new BSP government and
called for early elections. Demonstrations also took place in other
towns. The Confederation of Labor Podkrepa staged strikes throughout the
country, but it is not known how many workers were involved. -- Stefan
Krause

BELGRADE COURT OVERTURNS ELECTORAL COMMISSION RULING. Belgrade's First
District Court has overturned a ruling by the city's electoral
commission recognizing opposition wins in the November local election
run-offs, Nasa Borba reported on 28 January. Commission Chairman Radomir
Lazarevic expressed his regret over the court's decision, saying it was
"contrary to the law." The Belgrade electoral commission has several
times recognized Zajedno victories in the capital. Most recently, it
announced that the opposition coalition had won 64 of the Municipal
Assembly's 110 seats. Meanwhile, Zajedno took office in the city of Nis-
-one of four municipalities where the ruling Socialists seem to have
accepted defeat. But it is unclear how much authority Zajedno will have.
The local police force, for example, continues to report directly to the
federal Interior Ministry, which is firmly under Serbian President
Slobodan Milosevic's control. -- Stan Markotich

U.S. CRITICIZES SERBIAN POLICE VIOLENCE AGAINST CIVILIANS. U.S. State
Department spokesman Nicholas Burns on 27 January said Washington has
delivered a note to Belgrade protesting the "systematic use of the
police to intimidate," Reuters reported. Meanwhile, men serving in the
armed forces of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia are being forced to
join police cordons in downtown Belgrade, Onasa reported on 27 January,
citing a Zajedno press statement. The report also noted that some
victims of police intimidation are refusing to seek medical help for
"fear that, by revealing their identity, they will continue to suffer
police torture." -- Stan Markotich

U.S. TO SET UP SPECIAL FORCE TO CATCH BOSNIAN WAR CRIMINALS? White House
press spokesman Mike McCurry on 27 January said that the administration
is considering options for catching indicted war criminals and bringing
them to the Hague-based tribunal, U.S. media reported. "We've said for
some time we're looking at ways of making that tribunal more effective.
One possible option is to set up some type of special police force. We
haven't made a decision on whether that's the best way to help the
tribunal, but it does suggest itself as an option." NATO peacekeepers
and UN police take the position that it is not in their mandate to go
after war criminals, although they may detain ones with whom they come
into contact. There is, however, ample evidence to suggest that the
peacekeepers have frequently looked the other way and let such
individuals slip past rather than risk casualties. Any new force would
presumably be created with the clear understanding that it could expect
to suffer casualties in carrying out its mandate. -- Patrick Moore

BOSNIAN REFUGEE RETURN PROGRAM ON HOLD. The UNHCR-sponsored plan to
return Muslim families to their home village of Gajevi, just inside
Serbian territory, has been suspended for 48 hours. The Muslims had gone
through lengthy procedures agreed to by all sides, but in recent days
were subjected to well-organized mob violence by Serb civilian crowds
with the apparent complicity of the Republika Srpska police. SFOR troops
in the area did nothing to help. The international community's Carl
Bildt began talks with Republika Srpska President Biljana Plavsic on 27
January, AFP wrote. Department spokesman Nicholas Burns said the Bosnian
Serb authorities "clearly reneged" on commitments made in the Dayton
agreement "to facilitate the return of refuges and to avoid the
destruction of property." -- Patrick Moore

DUTCH EU PRESIDENCY WANTS BOSNIA TO HAVE PRIORITY. Dutch Foreign Aid
Minister Jan Pronk, during his current visit to Bosnia, said on 27
January that the Netherlands will insist that Bosnia be a priority for
the European Union, AFP reported. The Netherlands took over the six-
month rotating EU presidency on 1 January. He noted that the Dutch
government will strongly urge the EU donor conference for Bosnia take
place in March, as scheduled, because a delay would have negative
consequences for the country's reconstruction. Pronk is due to meet with
refugees from Srebrenica, the former Muslim enclave that was overrun by
Bosnian Serb forces in July 1995, despite the presence of Dutch
peacekeeping troops. Those troops later came under widespread
international criticism. The Netherlands last year allocated $100
million for Bosnian reconstruction programs. Meanwhile, Haris Silajdzic,
co-premier in the Bosnian government, called on the EU to grant Bosnia
associate member status. -- Daria Sito Sucic

STEP CLOSER TO ESTABLISHING CROATIAN COMMUNITY OF HERCEG-BOSNA? Bozo
Rajic, head of the ruling Croatian Democratic Community (HDZ) in Bosnia-
Herzegovina, proposed on 27 January that representatives of all Bosnian
Croat associations meet to set up a Croatian Community of Herceg-Bosna,
AFP reported. The new community would replace the banned para-state of
the same name. Rajic said that the topics discussed at such a meeting
would include the convening of a constitutive assembly to elect a
president and executive council of the new community. Under the Dayton
peace accords, the Bosnian Croat para-state of Herceg-Bosna should have
been dissolved long ago. -- Daria Sito Sucic

ALLEGED HEAD OF KOSOVO LIBERATION ARMY ARRESTED. Serbian police have
arrested the alleged head of the Kosovo Liberation Army (UCK), Reuters
reported. Police said the 31-year-old Avni Klinaku was taken into
custody on 26 January, along with several other members of the National
Movement for the Liberation of Kosovo. It remains unclear whether the
UCK is part of that movement, but police claim they found "arms and
ammunition of various calibers, drawings and plans for attacks on
facilities, and other means for carrying out terrorist actions." --
Fabian Schmidt

ROMANIAN FOREIGN MINISTER ANNOUNCES NEW FOREIGN-POLICY PRIORITIES.
Foreign Minister Adrian Severin told Reuters on 28 January that, in
order to boost its chances of early admission into NATO, Romania has put
improved ties with Ukraine at the top of its foreign-policy agenda and
is also seeking a new partnership with Hungary and Poland. Severin, who
is due to meet today with visiting British Foreign Secretary Malcolm
Rifkind, said a "strategic partnership" with Poland and Hungary must be
implemented very quickly, noting that it signaled "a different tune in
our foreign policy." He added that Romania has a "strategic interest in
the consolidation of Ukraine's independence and statehood." Romania and
Ukraine resumed talks over a basic treaty earlier this month, but
differences remain over Bucharest's insistence that the treaty mention
the unjustness of the Molotov-Ribbentrop pact. As a result of that
agreement, Romania lost territory now incorporated into Ukraine and
Moldova. -- Zsolt Mato

MOLDOVAN PRESIDENT "NOT SATISFIED" WITH NEW CABINET LINEUP. A
presidential adviser who asked to remain anonymous told Infotag on 27
January that Petru Lucinschi is "not quite satisfied" with Ion Ciubuc's
new cabinet. He said Lucinschi had not been able to keep his electoral
promise of including "young, promising professionals" in the executive
because of the composition of the parliament and because of the
"divisions [within] and ambitions of" the Agrarian Democratic and
Socialist Unity caucuses. The presidential adviser added that most of
the new ministers had supported Lucinschi's rival--former premier Andrei
Sangheli--in the first round of the presidential elections and had
switched their allegiance to Lucinschi in the run-off. The president had
fought "to the very end" to change the composition of the cabinet but
was unable to do so owing to the "stubborn parliamentary majority," he
added. The adviser also claimed that as a result Lucinschi had suffered
a nervous breakdown and had received medical help. -- Dan Ionescu

[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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