Be slow of tongue and quick of eye. - Cervantes
OMRI DAILY DIGEST

No. 21, Part II, 30 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

CRIMEAN PARLIAMENT RE-CONFIRMS GOVERNMENT'S OUSTER. For the second time
in less than a week, the Crimean parliament has approved a no-confidence
motion against Arkadii Demidenko's government, international media
reported on 29 January. The pro-Russian majority voted 54 to one to oust
the government, defying Ukrainian President Leonid Kuchma's decree
suspending the resolution on the government's dismissal (see OMRI Daily
Digest, 29 January 1997). Crimean Tatar deputies protested the motion by
abstaining. Crimean parliamentary speaker Vasyl Kyselyov said the vote
was a "grave mistake and an act of defiance against the Ukrainian
president," while Demidenko warned he would urge Kuchma to disband the
Crimean parliament. -- Oleg Varfolomeyev

UKRAINE RESPONDS TO COUNCIL OF EUROPE RESOLUTION ON DEATH PENALTY.
Following the Council of Europe's resolution severely criticizing Russia
and Ukraine for their continued use of the death penalty (see item in
Russian section above), Ukrainian President Leonid Kuchma and Justice
Minister Serhii Holovaty pledged that Ukraine will abide by its
commitment to stop executions, international media reported on 29
January. The previous day, the government submitted to the parliament a
draft law providing for a moratorium on executions and for life
imprisonment to replace the death penalty. Ukraine pledged to stop
executions when it became a member of the Council of Europe in November
1995. However, more than 100 people in Ukraine were executed in 1996. --
Oleg Varfolomeyev

BELARUSIAN TRADERS PROHIBITED FROM RE-SELLING FOODSTUFFS. The Belarusian
authorities have banned private traders from reselling foodstuffs, ITAR-
TASS reported on 30 January. Under the new regulation, the sole right to
sell agricultural products is given to the manufacturers. This rule is
in effect at Minsk's central market, which was recently taken over by
the state. President Aleksandr Lukashenka said he believes that city
markets play the most important role in setting food prices. He added
that criminal groups were preventing farmers from setting up market
stalls and were thus able to set their own high prices. -- Sergei
Solodovnikov

ESTONIAN FOREIGN MINISTER IN LATVIA. Toomas Hendrik Ilves, on his first
official visit to Latvia, has met with President Guntis Ulmanis, Prime
Minister Andris Skele, Foreign Minister Valdis Birkavs, and Saeima
Chairman Alfreds Cepanis, BNS reported on 29 January. The foreign
ministers exchanged the documents of ratification of an agreement on
cooperation in social security and discussed increased bilateral
cooperation in improving border controls, fighting organized crime, and
working for a common Baltic market and customs union. They also agreed
to coordinate actions for integration into NATO and the EU and to inform
each other about border talks with Russia. -- Saulius Girnius

SKELE RE-NOMINATED AS LATVIAN PRIME MINISTER. President Guntis Ulmanis
has asked Andris Skele, who unexpectedly resigned as prime minister last
week, to form a new government, BNS reported on 29 January. Skele said
that the cabinet would probably include the three major caucases--
Latvia's Way, Democratic Party Saimnieks (DPS), and For the Fatherland
and Freedom--but not the Unity Party. Skele is likely to cancel an
earlier informal agreement between former coalition parties giving a
resigning minister's party the right to nominate a new candidate for the
vacant post. He has already said that the finance minister will be
chosen by him and not the DPS. That party's choice of Vasilijs Melniks
for the finance portfolio caused a controversy because he was not
considered appropriate for the post, prompting Skele's resignation (see
OMRI Daily Digest, 21 January 1997). -- Saulius Girnius

POLISH PRIME MINISTER IN FRANCE. Wlodzimierz Cimoszewicz, meeting with
French President Jacques Chirac in Paris on 29 January, discussed
Poland's admission into the EU and NATO, international agencies
reported. Chirac expressed his continued strong support for Polish EU
membership as early as 2000. Cimoszewicz handed over to the French
leader the "National Integration Strategy," outlining the Polish
government's plans for becoming a member of both organizations (see OMRI
Daily Digest, 29 January 1997). The two men agreed that an acceptable
role for Russia in European security was crucial to NATO expansion.
Chirac had expressed France's strong support for Poland's admission to
NATO during his visit to Warsaw last September. -- Jakub Karpinski

PARLIAMENTARY COMMITTEE SAYS CZECH REPUBLIC IS NOT A POLICE STATE. The
parliamentary committee overseeing the Security and Intelligence Service
(BIS) has concluded that documents recently submitted by parliamentary
speaker Milos Zeman do not show that the country is becoming a police
state, Czech media reported. According to Zeman, the documents
demonstrated that the BIS had trailed members of political parties,
including his Social Democrats. He added that, in doing so, it had
coordinated its activities with the Ministry of Internal Affairs. The
committee rejected those claims, saying most documents submitted by
Zeman were forged. Some government coalition politicians say that Zeman
must have known the documents were forgeries and that he should bear
political responsibility for triggering a political scandal and
destabilizing the country. -- Jiri Pehe

SLOVAKIA, CROATIA DISCUSS FREE TRADE ZONE. Prime Minister Vladimir
Meciar and his visiting Croatian counterpart, Zlatko Matesa, signed a
declaration on 29 January expressing interest in setting up a Slovak-
Croatian free trade zone, Slovak media reported. Slovakia supports
Croatia's admission to the Central European Free Trade Zone (CEFTA), and
Croatia has to conclude free trade agreements with all CEFTA members to
become a member. Also on 29 January, the Slovak government announced
that "a free trade agreement with Russia is not the only solution to
Slovakia's trade deficit with Russia." Recently, the possibility of a
free trade zone with Russia has been widely discussed in Slovakia. At
the same time, the government says that "developing economic cooperation
with Russia will undoubtedly strengthen Slovakia's economic power." --
Jiri Pehe

SLOVAK RULING PARTY STARTS MEMBERSHIP CAMPAIGN IN BIGGEST FACTORY. The
Movement for a Democratic Slovakia (HZDS) has started a membership
campaign in Slovakia's biggest industrial enterprise, CTK reported on 29
January. According to some employees at the East Slovak Ironworks (VSZ),
the campaign is targeted at staff occupying "higher positions." VSZ
employs some 25,000 people. VSZ spokesman Jozef Marko said no pressure
has been put on employees to join the HZDS. The HZDS is seeking to boost
its membership ahead of the next parliamentary elections, scheduled for
1998. -- Anna Siskova

HUNGARIAN POLITICAL ROUNDUP. The opposition Hungarian Democratic Forum
has again called for a no-confidence motion in Prime Minister Gyula
Horn's coalition government, Hungarian media reported on 30 January. It
argued that economic problems--together with the ongoing privatization
scandal in which both governing parties have been implicated--are behind
the country's current crisis. But despite its repeated calls for Horn's
resignation, the Smallholders' Party seems unlikely to back the
initiative. Meanwhile, Tamas Deutsch, vice president of the opposition
Young Democrats, has ruled out pre-election cooperation between his
party and two of the four other opposition parties in the parliament.
Horn has indicated that general elections will be held in May 1998. --
Ben Slay

SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE

ALBANIAN MILITARY REMOVED FROM PUBLIC BUILDINGS. Army personnel sent to
guard key buildings in central Tirana last weekend left on 30 January,
AFP reported. Tritan Shehu, who is foreign minister and head of the
governing Democratic Party, said "the situation is calm this morning and
it is no longer necessary to keep the army outside public buildings."
They were sent in response to the unrest resulting from the collapse of
pyramid schemes. Following those protests, the government claimed that
damage to state and public property totaled $50 million. The previous
day, President Sali Berisha said that victims of two scams will be
compensated but not entirely and only in stages lest there be serious
damage to the economy, VOA reported. This approach risks generating even
more unrest, however. Meanwhile in Washington, State Department
spokesman Nicholas Burns said: "The United States remains very concerned
about the political and economic unrest in Albania," and has dispatched
two economists to Tirana. -- Patrick Moore

ALBANIAN SOCIALISTS CLAIM 500 MEMBERS ARRESTED. The opposition Socialist
Party's daily Zeri i Popullit wrote on 30 January that police the
previous day arrested 500 of its members, AFP reported. The Socialists
charge that the authorities are using moves against the unrest as a
pretext for cracking down on the opposition. The Democrats, in turn,
have accused the Socialists of stirring up trouble and violence by
politicizing the anger of those who lost their savings in the scams. The
Interior Ministry said: "In all regions where there were incidents, a
considerable number of citizens who committed acts of violence [were
taken into custody]. The police have information and irrefutable
documents proving that the persons in question encouraged, organized, or
committed acts of violence and participated in the destruction of
government property." It is unclear whether those rounded up have been
formally arrested or just detained. -- Patrick Moore

NATIONWIDE STRIKES, PROTESTS IN BULGARIA. One-hour warning strikes,
rallies, and temporary street blockades took place throughout Bulgaria
on 29-30 January in response to a strike call by the country's three
main trade unions, RFE/RL reported. The strike action, which did not
affect key industries, was supported by the opposition. Up to 50,000
people demonstrated in Sofia, while protests also took place in other
cities. Meanwhile, Interior Minister Nikolay Dobrev, who is the
Bulgarian Socialist Party's premier-designate, called on the opposition
to join talks on holding early parliamentary elections within three to
five months, saying that such a ballot was the "only alternative," AFP
reported. He added that if a coalition government were to be formed,
someone else might become premier. Meanwhile, Union of Democratic Forces
Chairman Ivan Kostov said no talks on a coalition government will be
held unless Dobrev gives up his mandate to form a government. -- Stefan
Krause

BULGARIA STRUGGLES WITH HIGH INFLATION. The outgoing government on 29
January announced that public-sector wages and pensions will be doubled
beginning 1 February, Duma reported. However, these increases will not
be paid out in full until the end of February. First, the parliament
must pass legislation enabling the government to function before
adoption of the 1997 budget. It is expected that such a law will be
passed today. The government has also prepared a memorandum to the EU
requesting $23.5 million for one-time payments of up to 6,000 leva
($5.87) to Bulgaria's poorest families. Meanwhile, President Petar
Stoyanov, in Brussels on his first foreign visit since taking office,
called on the EU to help Bulgaria help itself. He also urged more direct
EU investment and quick talks on EU membership in order to stabilize the
Bulgarian economy and democracy, RFE/RL and Reuters reported on 29
January. Stoyanov was addressing the European Parliament's Foreign
Affairs Committee. -- Michael Wyzan and Stefan Krause

BELGRADE POLICE KEEP A LOW PROFILE . . . While some 10,000 students
blocked traffic in downtown Belgrade on 29 January, local traffic police
and riot forces seemed to be keeping well out of sight, Nasa Borba
reported. In recent weeks, police have been highly visible and have
resorted to force against demonstrators. Reuters estimated that up to
20,000 students squeezed on to Slavija Square, bringing motorists to a
halt. The students also marched along the city's main boulevards past
state-run and pro-regime media outlets, whose staff were regaled with
chants of "Join Us." -- Stan Markotich

. . . AS ZAJEDNO LEADERS VOW TO CONTINUE PROTESTS. Opposition Zajedno
leaders told protesters assembled in the Serbian capital that they will
continue the protest action at least until Serbian President Slobodan
Milosevic's regime recognizes opposition wins in the November local
elections. Democratic Party leader Zoran Djindjic said that, "We have
been here for 70 days but we shall last 700 days, if need be," Reuters
reported. But Vesna Pesic, opposition Serbian Civic Alliance leader,
recently hinted that her party may be willing to reach a compromise
whereby demands for the recognition of wins in all municipalities where
Zajedno came out ahead would be dropped in exchange for recognition of
the opposition's victory in Belgrade, CNN reported on 30 January.
Milosevic has consistently hinted that his regime will not tolerate an
opposition municipal government in Belgrade. -- Stan Markotich

CLINTON RULES OUT ROLE FOR SFOR IN CATCHING WAR CRIMINALS. President
Bill Clinton told a Pentagon meeting with new Secretary of Defense
William Cohen on 29 January that SFOR will not be used in arresting
indicted war criminals in Bosnia. He suggested, however, that a
permanent war crimes tribunal might be set up with some means of going
after those it wants to try, news agencies reported. "We can't expect
people who are sent into a very volatile situation...to do this other
work unless they literally come in contact with those people who should
be arrested and returned. So there would have to be a completely
different way of dealing with this if we're going to have a permanent
war crimes tribunal, which I think has a lot of merit." He added that
the tribunal would be responsible not just for Bosnia. -- Patrick Moore

PLAVSIC SAYS MUSLIMS CAN COME HOME. Republika Srpska President Biljana
Plavsic said that Muslim refugees can return provided they actually had
homes in the area in question before the war and have completed mutually
agreed procedures, Oslobodjenje wrote on 30 January. She and the
international community's High Representative, Carl Bildt, agreed to set
up a joint commission to begin immediately to investigate a 26 January
incident in which a well-organized Serbian mob attacked Muslims helping
to rebuild the village of Gajevi just inside the Serbian side of the
former front line. It is unclear, however, whether the agreement between
Plavsic and Bildt to set up joint UN-Bosnian Serb police patrols in the
area has gone into effect. -- Patrick Moore

BOSNIAN MUSLIMS, CROATS REACH ACCORD ON JOINT ARMY. Ambassador James
Pardew, U.S. military envoy in charge of supervising the U.S.-backed
military program "Equip and Train," announced on 29 January that Bosnian
Muslims and Croats have taken the final steps to form a joint army after
a long-stalled process, Oslobodjenje reported on 30 January. Alija
Izetbegovic, Muslim member of Bosnia's three-man presidency, and
Kresimir Zubak, the presidency's Croatian member and president of the
federation, signed orders for the appointment of the commander and joint
command of the army. -- Daria Sito Sucic

SERBS BLOCK ACCESS TO PENSION OFFICES IN EASTERN SLAVONIA. Between 30
and 40 young Serbs on 29 January blocked access to offices distributing
Croatian pensions in Borovo Selo and Trpinja, AFP reported. The previous
day, some 50 Serbs had stoned Croatian pension officials in Borovo Selo
(see OMRI Daily Digest, 29 January 1997). The payment of pensions to
local Serbs has since been postponed. Pension distribution to Serbs
started recently as part of the process to reintegrate the last Serb-
held region of eastern Slavonia. Local Serbian officials condemned the
incidents and refused help offered by the UN, saying they would handle
the situation. Meanwhile, Serbian political representatives in eastern
Slavonia have called on Croatian Serbs in the area to take Croatian
citizenship. UN Administrator for Eastern Slavonia Jacques Klein also
called on Croatian Serbs either to become Croatian citizens or to live a
life of a refugee deprived of human dignity, Novi List reported on 30
January. -- Daria Sito Sucic

ROMANIA SEEKS CLOSER TIES WITH NEIGHBORS. Foreign Minister Adrian
Severin told a press conference in Strasbourg that Romania is actively
seeking closer relations with its neighbors, an RFE/RL correspondent
reported on 29 January. Severin said that his country was considering
forming a "triangular association" between Poland, Ukraine, and Romania
and that Hungary might eventually join the group. According to Radio
Bucharest, he also discussed the pending basic treaty with Ukraine,
saying it was imperative to avoid the "Pandora box" in which the talks
had been stranded so far--an apparent allusion to Romania's former
insistence that the treaty mention the Molotov-Ribbentrop pact. Severin
added that Romania now wants a reference to Council of Europe
Recommendation 1201 to be included in the treaty to ensure the
protection of the rights of the Romanian minority in Ukraine. That
recommendation is referred to in Romania's basic treaty with Hungary.
Romania's relations with Hungary have improved recently, Severin
commented, adding that they are even considering the formation of a
joint military unit similar to the Franco-German one. -- Zsolt Mato

MOLDOVAN SOCIALIST UNITY PARTY DISAPPOINTED OVER NEW GOVERNMENT LINEUP.
The Moldovan Socialist Unity-Edinstvo faction in the parliament told
Infotag on 29 January that it is disappointed that none of its
candidates had been included in Ion Ciubuc's cabinet. It expressed
"particular concern" over the government's "monoethnic" composition,
saying it went against President Petru Lucinschi's electoral pledge to
ensure that non-Moldovan ethnics would be represented. The faction also
commented that the new cabinet lineup will "complicate ... the
Transdniestrian reintegration process." At the same time, it said it had
voted in favor of the new cabinet because it had no reason to doubt the
"professionalism" of its members. -- 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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