Experience is in the fingers and head. The heart is inexperienced. - Henry David Thoreau
OMRI DAILY DIGEST

No. 24, Part II, 4 February 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

***********************************************************************
OMRI, Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty Announcement:

Due to a restructuring of operations at the Open Media Research
Institute, OMRI will cease publication of the OMRI Daily Digest with the
issue dated 28 March 1997. For more information on the restructuring of
the Institute, please access the 21 November 1996 Press Release at:
http://www.omri.cz/about/PressRelease.html

On 2 April, Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty will launch a daily news
report, RFE/RL Newsline, on the countries of Eastern Europe and the
former Soviet Union. A successor to the RFE/RL Daily Report and the
OMRI Daily Digest, the new daily will nonetheless represent a major
departure from its predecessors. In addition to analytic materials,
RFE/RL Newsline will carry news gathered by the correspondents,
bureaus, and broadcast services of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty.
RFE/RL will disseminate this new publication both electronically and via
fax to all those now receiving the OMRI Daily Digest and for the time
being under the same terms.

OMRI will continue to publish the periodical Transition, for more
information on Transition please access
http://www.omri.cz/publications/transition/index.html or send a
request for information to: transition-DD@omri.cz

*********************************************************************

CENTRAL AND EASTERN EUROPE

BRITISH DEFENSE SECRETARY VISITS UKRAINE. In his first official trip to
Ukraine on 2-3 February, Michael Portillo urged Ukraine to seek a
special relationship with NATO, Western agencies reported. In talks with
Ukrainian National Security and Defense Council Secretary Volodymyr
Horbulin and Defense Minister Oleksander Kuzmuk on the first day,
Portillo said that a special partnership agreement could be worked out
before the next NATO summit in July during which the first candidates
for NATO membership are likely to be announced. The partnership entails
cooperation, but is not full NATO membership. The next day he met with
Foreign Minister Hennadii Udovenko and gave a speech at the Ukrainian
Defense Ministry in which he said that the partnership agreement would
guarantee Ukraine's "sovereignty and integrity." -- Saulius Girnius

RESIGNATION OF LITHUANIAN FINANCE MINISTER ACCEPTED. After an hour-long
meeting with Prime Minister Gediminas Vagnorius on 3 February, President
Algirdas Brazauskas accepted the resignation of Rolandas Matiliauskas,
Radio Lithuania reported. When Matiliauskas submitted his letter of
resignation last month (see OMRI Daily Digest, 24 January 1997),
Vagnorius asked the procuracy to investigate his then unrepaid low-
interest loan from the Kreditas Bank. Although nothing irregular was
discovered, Matiliauskas was arraigned on 31 January on criminal charges
of embezzlement and foreign currency violations. Vagnorius said that he
would name a replacement soon, -- Saulius Girnius

RESIGNATION OF POLISH FINANCE MINISTER. Polish Prime Minister
Wlodzimierz Cimoszewicz said in a radio interview on 4 February he has
accepted the resignation of Finance Minister and Deputy Prime Minister
Grzegorz Kolodko. The Polish press on 4 February reported that Kolodko
submitted his resignation on 24 January. Cimoszewicz said President
Aleksander Kwasniewski, would also accept the resignation and Kolodko
would be replaced by President Aleksander Kwasniewski's economic
adviser, professor Marek Belka. -- Jakub Karpinski

POLISH, GERMAN AND FRENCH DEFENSE MINISTERS MEET. France's Charles
Millon, Volker Ruehe of Germany, and Stanislaw Dobrzanski of Poland
ended a two day meeting in Warsaw on 3 February and signed a document
providing for the three armed forces to hold annual military exercises
and creating a special military coordinating group to oversee the links
between the members of the Weimar Triangle, consisting of France,
Poland, and Germany. The German and French ministers assured Warsaw that
its NATO entry bid was on track despite Russian opposition. At a joint
news conference after the signing, Ruehe made clear that the first
candidates for NATO entry, widely expected to include Poland, would be
invited to start talks at a NATO summit in Madrid on July 8 and 9,
whether or not the Western alliance had reached an arrangement with
Russia by then. -- Jakub Karpinski

CZECH WRITER FALLS TO HIS DEATH. Bohumil Hrabal, considered one of the
greatest Czech writers of the 20th century, died on 3 February in tragic
accident, Czech media reported. Hrabal, who was 82 years old, fell out
of a fifth-floor hospital window while attempting to feed pigeons on the
window sill. Hrabal had been in the hospital since December for back
pain. Hrabal's works have been translated into many languages. The film
adaptation of his book, Closely Observed Trains, won the Oscar for best
Foreign Film in 1967. Under the communist regime, Hrabal was allowed to
publish some of his books; others were widely distributed via samizdat
publications. -- Jiri Pehe

HUNGARY URGES SLOVAKIA TO PASS MINORITY LANGUAGE LAW. Hungary on 3
February appealed to Slovakia to approve a long-delayed minority
language law, Reuters reported. Hungarian Foreign Minister Laszlo Kovacs
said that by delaying the law's passage, Slovakia is contravening
commitments to its Hungarian minority and to the Council of Europe.
Slovak Prime Minister Vladimir Meciar and other government officials
promised to approve the legislation after the parliament passed a
controversial law on the Slovak language in November 1995. However, the
minority languages bill has yet to be placed before parliament, and the
Slovak nationalities council on 21 November voted against the approval
of such a law. Although that Slovak language law took effect at the
beginning of last year, its actual implementation was delayed until 1
January 1997. In recent days, controversy has centered over the fact
that Hungarian-language schools have begun to issue grade reports only
in Slovak, although bilingual versions had been issued by such schools
since 1921, Sme reported on 1 February. -- Sharon Fisher

SLOVAK OPPOSITION AGREES TO COOPERATE. Opposition representatives met on
3 February, agreeing to work together to renew parliamentary democracy
in Slovakia, TASR reported. They criticized the methods of the ruling
coalition parties, which aim to "strengthen their own power" and confirm
that the ruling coalition does not have an interest in creating real
conditions for Slovakia's entry into NATO and the EU. The opposition
also accused Prime Minister Vladimir Meciar of not having a real
interest in holding multiparty talks. In other news, parliament chairman
Ivan Gasparovic announced on 3 February that he will not respond to the
U.S. Helsinki Commission's complaint about the stripping of deputy
Frantisek Gaulieder's parliamentary seat (see OMRI Daily Digest, 29
January 1997). He said that the Slovak Constitutional Court must first
decide on the issue. -- Sharon Fisher

HUNGARIAN FOREIGN MINISTER SAYS RUSSIA HAS OBSOLETE VIEW OF NATO. Laszlo
Kovacs on 3 February told Reuters that Russia's opposition to the
enlargement of NATO was based on an obsolete view and dismissed as
"nonsense" the idea that enlargement to include the Central European
states posed a threat to Moscow. Kovacs also said that the accession of
those who are widely considered the most advanced to join the
organization would not turn over the military balance in the region.
According to Kovacs, both by ruling out early membership for the Baltic
States and by stating it had no intention of stationing nuclear weapons
in Central Europe, NATO had taken away the biggest reasons for Russia to
feel threatened. -- Zsofia Szilagyi

SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE

SERBIAN PROTESTERS' RESOLVE IN FACE OF GOVERNMENT VIOLENCE. Serbian
opposition leaders on 3 January called for peaceful resistance in the
face of police crackdowns to the continuing protests. Vuk Draskovic,
head of the Serbian Renewal Movement and Zajedno leader, urged "We must
all turn into a river of non-violent resistance...All schools and
faculties must close, we must not pay any taxes and bills and we must
all go on strike. They are taking money from the citizens to pay the
police who beat the people," Reuters reported. Meanwhile, reports from
3-4 February continued to circulate of police beatings, albeit on a
scale which did not reach that of the previous evening. Nasa Borba on 4
February, meanwhile, reported on the magnitude and severity of the
police crackdown on that night of 2-3 February under the headline "The
Police Beat Whomever They Could." -- Stan Markotich

INTERNATIONAL COMMUNITY CONDEMNS CRACKDOWN IN SERBIA. A flood of
international criticism has greeted Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic
and his government for the decision to employ violence against peaceful
protests. State Department Spokesman Nicholas Burns deplored "the most
serious use of force [on 2-3 February]" and called "on the Serb police
and the Serb authorities led by President Milosevic to exercise
restraint in the streets of Belgrade," Reuters reported on 3 February.
Meanwhile, U.S. charge d'affaires Richard Miles met Foreign Minister
Milan Milutinovic on 3 February to "condemn" the police violence and "to
call upon the Serbian government officially to refrain from using police
force in the streets of Belgrade." But for his part, Serbian President
Slobodan Milosevic attended a state medal awards ceremony in which high
ranking officials, including police dignitaries, were honored,
international media reported. -- Stan Markotich

SERB LEADERSHIP BREAKS OFF COOPERATION WITH CROATIAN GOVERNMENT. Mirko
Tankosic, deputy head of the Office for Transitional Administration in
eastern Slavonia, told the Croatian pro-government daily Vjesnik on 4
February that the local Serb leadership has decided to break off all
contacts and cooperation with Croatian government representatives.
Tankosic said the break will possibly last until 5 February, when the
Serb "regional assembly" will meet and decide on a future political
direction. The local Serb TV station, Beli Manastir, reported on 3
February that local Serb leadership is very disappointed by the UN
Security Council's decision to endorse the Croatian government's letter
of intent for reintegration of eastern Slavonia into the rest of
Croatia. -- Daria Sito Sucic

ATTACK ON INDEPENDENT SARAJEVO MONTHLY. Five people on 2 February
entered the premises of the independent Sarajevo magazine Dani and tried
to evict its staff, Onasa quoted a press release by the Sarajevo Canton
Interior Ministry. Claiming they owned the premises, the five threw tear
gas canisters and attacked the magazine's deputy editor in chief, Ozren
Kebo. Police arrested the perpetrators and said charges would be filed
against them. In other news, another cab-driver was murdered in Vogosca,
a Sarajevo suburb, on 2 February, following the murder of a cab-driver
at suburb of Ilidza several weeks ago, Onasa reported. -- Daria Sito
Sucic

KARADZIC INTERVIEW PRODUCES OUTRAGE . . . In response to the public
warning by indicted war criminal Radovan Karadzic that a Serbian loss of
Brcko could lead to war (see OMRI Daily Digest, 3 February 1997), Colum
Murphy, the spokesman for the international community's High
Representative Carl Bildt, said: "Dr. Karadzic's statement threatening
war over Brcko is an outrageous provocation. Dr. Karadzic has made a
major mistake. He will not only not be allowed to fan the flames of war,
but by such outrageous statements he has hastened the day when he will
be able to comment only from The Hague. We will also demand of our
colleagues of the international community that indicted war criminals
should go sooner rather than later to the Hague tribunal," reported AFP.
Bosnian co-Prime Minister Haris Silajdzic said, however, that the
international community deserved Karadzic's remarks "because they left
those war criminals running around freely for so long." -- Patrick Moore

. . . AND A DENIAL. The Republika Srpska's Information Ministry, AFP
continued, denied the whole story, which ran in the Greek daily,
Elevtheros Typos: "At the most delicate moment in the process of
arbitration ... [the paper] inexplicably carried out an invented
interview with Radovan Karadzic. [The text runs] completely contrary to
the positions of the Republika Srpska regarding war and peace, the
Dayton agreement, and the arbitration itself. Having transferred all his
powers to [Republika Srpska President] Biljana Plavsic on 30 June 1996,
Radovan Karadzic has not made any public appearances, nor has he
authorized anybody to put forward any views in public on his behalf,
particularly not views contrary to the official Serb position."
Regarding Brcko, the Bosnian Serb leadership has relied primarily on
quiet diplomacy in recent weeks, although on 16 December, Plavsic also
raised the specter of war should the arbitration go against the Serbs.
The Greek journalist, for his part, contended that the interview took
place on 25 January, and his paper published a photo of the interview in
progress. -- Patrick Moore

CONSTANTINESCU IN BRUSSELS. President Emil Constantinescu is scheduled
today to meet with NATO Secretary General Javier Solana for talks on
Romania's bid to join the alliance, international agencies reported.
After meeting with Constantinescu, European Commission President Jaques
Santer said on 3 February that the EU has been encouraged by progress in
Romania since the November 1996 elections. The EU's Foreign Affairs
Commissioner, Hans van der Broek, said after talks with Constantinescu
that the EU nations should release some $80 million in aid for Romania,
which had been blocked when the former government failed to meet its
pledge for reforms. He also said that the commission will "give a
willful ear" to a $640 million program for aiding those likely to be
hardest hit by the envisaged reforms. -- Zsolt Mato

CONTROVERSY OVER TREATY WITH UKRAINE? Responding to Ukrainian President
Leonid Kuchma's opposition to Romania joining NATO without previously
recognizing the existing borders (see OMRI Daily Digest, 3 February),
Foreign Minister Adrian Severin said Kuchma's attitude was "unsuitable"
and amounted to "blackmail," the daily Jurnalul national reported. He
emphasized that his country has no territorial claims on Ukraine. Adrian
Nastase, deputy chairman of the opposition Party of Social Democracy in
Romania, said the present leaders' change of policy toward a
Romanian/Ukraine treaty was "worrying." Nastase added that the treaty
should not be concluded "at any price." The leader of the extreme
nationalist Greater Romania Party, Corneliu Vadim Tudor, said his
party's very denomination indicated its position and "we would rather
forego the conclusion of the treaty than recognize the abandon of those
ancient Romanian lands." At that price, he added, "we do not understand
why we should join NATO at all." -- Zsolt Mato

ROMANIAN EX-MONARCH INVITED TO ROMANIA. Exiled King Michael has been
invited to visit the northeastern Romanian city of Iasi by its mayor,
Constantin Simirad, Romanian television reported on 2 February. Simirad
said he sensed there was still "reluctance" on the part of the
government to the king's visit and thus wanted to test declarations that
the former monarch could visit the country at any time. The promise,
first made by Foreign Minister Adrian Severin shortly after the new
government had been sworn in, was reiterated by the secretary general of
the main coalition member, the National Peasant Party Christian
Democratic. King Michael's citizenship was revoked by the communists
after his forced abdication in 1947 and has never been restored to him.
-- Dan Ionescu

TIRASPOL LEADERSHIP CONFLICT OVER GOVERNMENTAL STRUCTURE. The
Transdniester Supreme Soviet has refused to approve the new government
proposed by the breakaway region's president, Igor Smirnov, BASA press
reported on 3 February. On 30 January, the legislature proposed
nominating a first deputy premier, who should become prime minister
following an amendment to the existing constitution. Under the present
basic law, Transdniester's president is also prime minister. -- Dan
Ionescu

BULGARIAN SOCIALISTS ANNOUNCE NEW GOVERNMENT . . . Bulgarian Socialist
Party (BSP) premier-designate Nikolay Dobrev on 3 February announced the
lineup for his government, RFE/RL reported. Dobrev will present his
cabinet to President Petar Stoyanov on 4 February, and a confidence vote
in the parliament is scheduled for the following day. The government
includes two deputy premiers: Georgi Pirinski, who returns to the
Foreign Ministry, and newly-appointed Social Affairs Minister Nikola
Koychev. More than half of the portfolios will be headed by new
ministers, including interior, defense, industry, and justice. Gen. Sava
Dzhendov will become interior minister, while Gen. Lyuben Petrov will
take over defense. Finance Minister Dimitar Kostov, Foreign Trade
Minister Atanas Paparizov, and Agriculture Minister Krastyo Trendafilov
are among the key ministers who will keep their post. Dobrev said he
will announce the ministers of economic development and of education at
a later date. A BSP plenary meeting passed the new lineup with 146 votes
to 7. -- Stefan Krause

. . . WHILE PROTESTS MOUNT. Protests against the formation of a new BSP
government and for early parliamentary elections intensified on 3
February, Reuters and AFP reported. Traffic came to a virtual standstill
in Sofia and Plovdiv as public transport workers struck and students and
protesters blocked main intersections. In Sofia, 15 students were
injured by angry drivers. Some 20,000 people demonstrated in the
capital. Bus and train services were suspended, while roads were blocked
throughout the country. Road and train links to Greece were blocked for
a 6th consecutive day. Union of Democratic Forces Chairman Ivan Kostov
said the protests will continue until early elections are called. Strike
organizers said Sofia public transport will go on an indefinite strike
if the parliament approves the new government. Meanwhile, Dobrev warned
that "peaceful protests are understandable, but civil disobedience is
outside the law." National Police Chief Hristo Marinski called on
Stoyanov and politicians to find a way of keeping the protests peaceful.
-- Stefan Krause

ALBANIAN OPPOSITION REJECTS PRESIDENT'S ROUND TABLE. Opposition parties,
newly united in a "Forum for Democracy," dismissed the invitation of
President Sali Berisha for round table talks of about 20 political
parties and organizations. Instead, they renewed demands for the
government's resignation, Reuters reported. "The Forum is not in favor
of a technical solution as advanced by this round table but for a
political solution," senior Socialist Party leader Pandeli Majko said,
adding that "we have already declared that the first step for a
political solution is the resignation of the government." The Social
Democratic Party accused Berisha of staging a public relations exercise.
Elsewhere, 24 more demonstrators have been formally charged with public
offenses in Lushnje and Berat. -- Fabian Schmidt

ALBANIAN INVESTORS TO GET MONEY BACK. Some 350,000 distraught investors
are scheduled to receive partial refunds on 4 February. Five schemes
have folded in the past three months, but compensation has been
announced only for two pyramid schemes whose assets were seized in state
banks. Bankers told state television that investors in the Populli
scheme would get back 60% of their stake, while payments from the
Xhaferri scheme would start a day later. Depositors would be free to
choose between cash or government certificates, which could be exchanged
later. A top official in the Gjallica pyramid scheme has been arrested
on fraud charges. The crisis has put pressure on the lek currency, which
has lost 30% of its value against the dollar since January. Last week,
it sank to 135 lek to the dollar, rallied at the weekend, but fell again
on 3 February to 120. -- Fabian Schmidt

[As of 12:00 CET]

Compiled by Valentina Huber

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            Copyright (c) 1997 Open Media Research Institute, Inc.
                      All rights reserved. ISSN 1211-1570
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