To live is so startling, it leaves little time for anything else. - Emily Dickinson
OMRI DAILY DIGEST

No. 34, Part II, 18 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

UKRAINE TO REMOVE FUEL FROM DAMAGED REACTOR. Ukrainian Environment
Minister Yurii Kostenko said Ukraine will not build a new sarcophagus
for the destroyed reactor No. 4 at Chornobyl, international agencies
reported on 17 February. Speaking after the latest round of talks with
the G-7 on Chornobyl, Kostenko said international experts would work out
how to remove the radioactive fuel. The talks made no final decision on
how to compensate Ukraine for the loss of energy after the Chornobyl
power plant's planned closing in 2000. Kostenko reiterated warnings that
the date of Chornobyl's closing depends on the beginning of foreign
assistance. -- Oleg Varfolomeyev

KAZAKSTANI FOREIGN MINISTER IN UKRAINE. Kasymzhomart Tokayev arrived in
Ukraine for a three-day visit on 17 February, Ukrainian radio reported.
Tokayev met with his Ukrainian counterpart Hennadii Udovenko and with
President Leonid Kuchma. The purpose of the visit is to stimulate
relations between the two countries in accordance with an agreement
signed in September 1994. Emphasis was placed on developing economic
cooperation and trade. On the first day, the two sides discussed energy
supplies, news agencies reported. -- Ustina Markus

CRIMEAN PARTIES APPEAL TO KYIV, MOSCOW. The Crimean branch of the
Ukrainian Republican Party called on Ukrainian President Leonid Kuchma
to dismiss the Crimean parliament, Ukrainian television reported on 17
February. The appeal said the current governors "are not able to solve
the most vital problems." Earlier a pro-Russian Crimean organization
known as the Russian Duma of Sevastopol came out against setting up a
free economic zone in the city until the city's status is resolved,
UNIAN reported on 14 February. The organization appealed to the Russian
Federation Council to speed up work on the status of Sevastopol and
blasted the "hidden Ukrainization" of the city through Ukrainian-
language schools and "tiny pro-Ukrainian organizations." -- Oleg
Varfolomeyev

JOURNALISTS PROTEST CLOSURE OF INDEPENDENT RADIO STATION IN BELARUS.
Some 20 journalists held a demonstration in Minsk on 14 February to
protest the closure of the independent Radio 101.2 FM station by the
government last September, Belapan reported. The official explanation
was that the station interfered with government communications, but
journalists believe that was only a pretext, as the government had
turned down their request to move the aerial. Moreover, the government
intends to use the frequency for a youth station under the patronage of
the pro-presidential organization Direct Action. -- Sergei Solodovnikov

NORWEGIAN FOREIGN MINISTER VISITS LITHUANIA. Bjorn Tore Godal held talks
in Vilnius on 17 February with his counterpart Algirdas Saudargas, Prime
Minister Gediminas Vagnorius, and Seimas Chairman Vytautas Landsbergis,
Radio Lithuania reported. Godal noted that even though Norway twice
refused to join the EU, it supports the efforts of the Baltic states to
do so, as that is necessary for Baltic security. He said NATO's door
should be open to all democratic states and that "Russian fears
concerning NATO's enlargement to the East are groundless." -- Saulius
Girnius

POLISH-RUSSIAN POLITICAL UPDATE. Prime Minister Wlodzimierz Cimoszewicz
said he is not alarmed about Internal Affairs Minister Zbigniew
Siemiatkowski's statements that Russia is infiltrating Polish politics
to prevent Polish entry into NATO and the EU (see OMRI Daily Digest, 17
February 1997). "Such things are possible," Cimoszewicz said. He said he
expects "tensions concerning NATO enlargement to intensify" before the
NATO summit in Madrid in July. A spokeswoman for Russia's Foreign
Intelligence Service said on 17 February the accusations are "absolute
fantasy." Friedrich Bonnart, editor of NATO 16 Nations magazine, said
the Poles should not be astonished that the Russians would use all legal
and illegal means to prevent NATO expansion, Polish dailies reported on
18 February. -- Jakub Karpinski

POLES ON THE CONSTITUTION ISSUE. More than a quarter of respondents said
they would vote in a referendum for the Solidarity-sponsored draft
constitution, while a quarter would support parliament's draft
constitution, Polish media reported on 18 February. The proposal by
Solidarity Electoral Action (AWS) to submit both drafts in a referendum-
-contrary to the current law--is supported by 67% of respondents. More
than 40% of those surveyed think that a future parliament should approve
a new constitution; 33% think the current parliament should. The AWS
wants a future constitution to include a more explicit reference to God,
protection of human life from conception, and recognition that Poland
under communist rule was not a sovereign country. It demands that a
referendum on the constitution be valid if at least half the voters turn
out. -- Beata Pasek

CZECH-GERMAN DECLARATION PASSED WITH PREAMBLE. The Czech Chamber of
Deputies passed the Czech-German declaration on 14 February, with 131 of
the lower house's 200 deputies voting in favor of the document, Czech
media reported. The governing coalition managed to secure the support of
most Social Democratic deputies by accepting at the last minute a one-
sentence preamble to the declaration. The preamble states that the
chamber accepts the declaration on the basis of speeches by Prime
Minister Vaclav Klaus and Foreign Minister Josef Zieleniec, which
expressed the will of both states to prevent the past from burdening a
common European future. Social Democratic Chairman Milos Zeman had been
pushing for a preamble that would emphasize that the Czechs refuse to
deal with questions such as restitution for expulsed Sudeten Germans.
But the compromise preamble is so watered down as to have no effect on
the declaration from the German standpoint. -- Victor Gomez

CZECH MINISTERS AGREE ON NEW HEALTH-CARE SYSTEM. After a 16 February
meeting of select cabinet ministers on the health-care system, Czech
Prime Minister Vaclav Klaus announced that next year the government will
introduce a per-patient system to pay doctors, Czech media reported.
Under the system, doctors will be paid according to how many patients
they have on their rosters, rather than according to each treatment they
perform as in the current system. Klaus has long supported a system in
which each patient would  be partially responsible for payment, though
he no longer insists on it. -- Victor Gomez

SLOVAK POLITICAL ROUNDUP. Leaders of the opposition Democratic Union and
Social Democratic Party on 17 February signed an agreement on political
cooperation, Slovak media reported. DU Chairman Jozef Moravcik said the
document focuses on completing the transformation of Slovak society,
building and maintaining the rule of law, and completing the economic
transformation. The two parties aim to set an example of how to bridge
disputes between the left and right wings of the opposition. Also on 17
February, Slovak National Party deputy Jozef Prokes told CTK that a bill
on minority languages could be submitted to the parliament within six
months. Hungarian Christian Democratic Movement deputy Gyula Bardos told
Sme the next day that the Hungarian coalition does not have any
information about the bill. -- Sharon Fisher

HUNGARY, ROMANIA BOOST MILITARY TIES. In Debrecen, Hungary, Hungarian
Defense Minister Gyorgy Keleti and Romanian Defense Minister Victor
Babiuc on 17 February signed an accord on the protection of military
secrets, Reuters reported. The two ministers also agreed to set up a
joint peacekeeping battalion for use with NATO, the UN, and the OSCE.
The battalion, scheduled to be operational by the end of the year, will
have bases in both countries, with joint command and joint exercises.
The two ministries will have periodical consultations on military
matters. Referring to NATO enlargement, Keleti said the two countries
are partners, not competitors. It was Babiuc's first visit abroad.
Analysts view the recent improvement of bilateral ties as boosting both
countries' chances of joining NATO in an early phase. -- Zsolt Mato

HUNGARIAN PRIME MINISTER ON PRIVATIZATION SCANDAL. Appearing before the
parliamentary committee investigating last fall's privatization scandal
involving consultant Marta Tocsik, Gyula Horn on 17 February distanced
himself from the affair, Hungarian media reported. Horn said his
government reacted swiftly, firing the top leadership of the state
privatization agency and the minister overseeing privatization. Free
Democrat leader Ivan Peto told the committee he was unaware of the
business activities of certain key figures in the affair who have
connections to his party. -- Sharon Fisher

SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE

MUSLIMS RETURN TO WEST MOSTAR, CROATS EVICTED FROM EAST MOSTAR. UN
spokesman Alexander Ivanko said that 23 of 28 Muslim families expelled
from Croat-held Mostar last week have returned to their homes,
Oslobodjenje reported on 18 February. The other five families feared to
return. He said the UN police were satisfied with the west Mostar
police's help in bringing Muslim families back. Police and members of
the Croat special forces are believed to have been directly involved in
the evictions of Muslims. Ivanko said the UN was concerned, however,
about reports of the first expulsion of a Croat family from Muslim-held
east Mostar. Meanwhile, another grenade exploded in Mostar on 16
February; no one was injured. -- Daria Sito Sucic

A NEW WAY TO GET BOSNIAN REFUGEES HOME? Michael Steiner, the deputy to
the international community's High Representative Carl Bildt, said a
new, radical approach may be needed to get Bosnian refugees home,
Reuters reported. To date, practically no individuals have been able to
return to territory under the control of another ethnic group, despite
their right to do so under the Dayton accord. Steiner said on 17
February: "If as much energy were put into organizing the return of
refugees [on a trade-off basis] as has been put by the OSCE into
organizing elections, perhaps by having an R-Day or Return Day instead
of an E-Day or Election Day, then we could achieve far more than we have
with pilot projects which don't work because they lack internal
balance." -- Patrick Moore

BOSNIAN ROUNDUP. The OSCE's top election official, Robert Frowick,
talked with Republika Srpska President Biljana Plavsic in Banja Luka
about problems in organizing local balloting in July in Brcko and
Mostar, AFP reported on 17 February. In Sarajevo, the World Bank
announced that the planned donors' conference has been postponed until
April because the Bosnian government has yet to set up a basic economic
reform package. Also in the capital, the leading Islamic religious body,
the Rijaset, condemned the recent desecration of a Roman Catholic
cemetery in Klopce near Zenica, Oslobodjenje wrote on 18 February. SFOR,
for its part, denied Croatian charges that it had used excessive force
in entering the Rama power plant near Prozor while searching for illegal
weapons, Dnevni avaz reported. And Oslobodjenje noted that the
respective police forces of the three main ethnic groups have been
continuing the war among themselves and also terrorizing citizens. --
Patrick Moore

CROATIA GUARANTEES SAFETY TO EASTERN SLAVONIA SERBS. Croatian President
Franjo Tudjman on 17 February met with the head of the UN Transitional
Authority for Eastern Slavonia, Jacques Klein, and a local Serbian
leader, Vojislav Stanimirovic, to discuss the process of the peaceful
reintegration of the region and an amnesty issue, Hina reported. Deputy
Prime Minister Ivica Kostovic said that Tudjman guaranteed Serbs there
would be no revanchism. But Klein requested that a final list of war
criminals be issued by the Croatian government so that people who were
not on the list knew they could stay in the area. Last year Croatia
issued an incomplete list of 811 accused war criminals. -- Daria Sito
Sucic

ECONOMIC DEMANDS REPLACE POLITICAL ONES IN SERBIAN CAPITAL. While the
opposition Zajedno coalition has called off its mass demonstrations for
three weeks to allow the ruling Socialists to make concessions such as
freeing up the state media, protests continued in Belgrade on 17
February, Nasa Borba reported the following day. The demands, however,
have shifted: independent professionals, notably teachers, were
demanding their back wages. In addition, the city's transportation
workers staged another warning strike on 17 February, cutting service on
about a quarter of the city's bus lines and leaving thousands of
commuters stranded. Transportation sector labor leaders have said they
will back a full-scale shut down of the city's public transportation
system on 18 February if there is no progress on salary demands. -- Stan
Markotich

SERBIAN OPPOSITION LEADER ON THE CAMPAIGN TRAIL? Vuk Draskovic, a leader
of the Zajedno coalition and head of the Serbian Renewal Movement (SPO),
told the Daily Telegraph that if he were elected president of Serbia, he
would work for the restoration of the Karadjorevic dynasty, Nasa Borba
reported on 18 February. Following the restoration of the monarchy,
Draskovic would retire from politics and devote himself full-time to
writing. So far, however, Draskovic has not been designated the united
opposition's presidential candidate in the election slated for later
this year. -- Stan Markotich

POSSIBLE BREAKTHROUGH ON SLOVENIAN GOVERNMENT DEADLOCK. Premier Janez
Drnovsek on 17 February announced he had reached an accord on forming a
cabinet that would include members of his own Liberal Democratic Party
(LDS), the right-wing Slovenian People's Party (SLS), and the small
Democratic Pensioners' Party (DESUS), Radio Slovenija reported.
Elections were held on 10 November, and an earlier proposal was rejected
by parliament on 6 February. A rejection of this cabinet line-up may
force early elections. -- Stan Markotich

MACEDONIAN STUDENTS PROTEST AGAINST ALBANIAN-LANGUAGE EDUCATION. About
3,000 Macedonian students demonstrated in Skopje on 17 February against
a new law introducing teaching in the Albanian language at the teacher-
training faculty. They chanted nationalist slogans, including "Gas
chambers for Albanians," and threw eggs and stones at the government
headquarters and the Education Ministry offices, the daily Dnevnik
reported. The protesters called on Education Minister Sofija Todorova to
resign, AFP said. In early February, the Macedonian parliament had voted
for Albanian-language education. The opposition Internal Macedonian
Revolutionary Organization VMRO-DPMNE said it had appealed to the
Constitutional Court over the law, arguing that the Macedonian
constitution allows national minorities to be taught in their mother
tongues only at primary- and secondary-school levels. -- Fabian Schmidt

CIORBEA LAUNCHES "SHOCK THERAPY" PROGRAM. After having concluded parleys
with international financing institutions and the major trade unions,
Prime Minister Victor Ciorbea on 17 February presented the government's
"shock therapy" program in a live televised speech. He said 3,600 state
companies will be privatized in 1997; companies which are unprofitable
will be closed or auctioned off. The government expects a rise in
unemployment to about 8% from the current 6%. A social program
negotiated with the International Monetary Fund will compensate those
most affected by the measures--over 10% of the GDP will be channeled to
this program. The IMF has agreed to lend Romania some $400 million for
this purpose, but over the long term Romania is to receive $1 billion
from international lenders. All prices, with the exception of bread, are
to be immediately liberalized and the state budget will make only very
limited provisions for subsidies--some of which will go to agriculture.
State-owned agricultural land is also to be privatized. All banks are
also to be gradually privatized. Ciorbea said he expects inflation to
fall to 30% by the end of the year, down from the current 90%. -- Dan
Ionescu

BULGARIAN GOVERNMENT, PRESIDENT STATE DESIRE TO JOIN NATO. Bulgaria's
caretaker government on 17 February said Bulgaria will apply for full
NATO membership, Trud and Demokratsiya reported. It was the first time a
Bulgarian government unequivocally spoke in favor of NATO membership.
President Petar Stoyanov endorsed the government's decision, calling
NATO "the only serious guarantor of security." Vladimir Topencharov of
the Bulgarian Socialist Party said the decision should have been made by
a cabinet elected by the parliament rather than by a caretaker
government. Russian Ambassador to Bulgaria Leonid Kerestedzhiyants said
"the decision cannot go down without any consequences, but we will try
to keep them as small as possible." He said Moscow does not see an anti-
Russian attitude behind the decision. -- Stefan Krause

NEW PRICE HIKES IN BULGARIA. Fuel prices almost tripled on 18 February,
Pari and RFE/RL reported. The government made the move to bring prices
closer to world market prices and cut down on the losses of Bulgaria's
biggest oil refinery, Neftochim in Burgas. Prime Minister Stefan
Sofiyanski said drastic hikes were the only way to stabilize the
economy. Officially, fuel will sell for 850-1,130 leva per liter ($0.30-
$0.40), while the black market price is 10%-30% higher. Another hike
might come as early as next week, experts said. The fuel shortage
continues to leave public transport and road traffic paralyzed in large
parts of the country. Meanwhile, Agriculture Minister Rumen Hristov said
grain supplies suffice for 20 days and bread prices may go up from 250
leva to 2,000 leva if grain must be imported at market conditions. --
Stefan Krause

ALBANIANS KEEP UP PROTESTS. About 5,000 Albanians protested for a 13th
day in Vlora on 17 February and several hundred in Fier, demanding
government compensation after the collapse of fraudulent investment
schemes. Vlora students threatened to go on a hunger strike if the
demands for compensation were not met. Local representatives of
political parties, including the ruling Democrats, anti-communist
dissidents, and protesters signed a charter demanding the government
quit and hold general elections. Mayor Gezim Zile told the crowd from a
balcony that he supported their demands. The local branch of the
National Commercial Bank opened for the first time in 10 days to
distribute some of the frozen assets of failed pyramid schemes. --
Fabian Schmidt

INVESTMENT COMPANY OWNER TELLS ALBANIANS TO WORK. In Tirana, Vehbi
Alimucaj, head of the biggest investment holding firm, Vefa, said angry
investors should "roll up their sleeves and get back to work" instead of
protesting and burning down buildings, Reuters reported. Vefa froze the
deposits of its 80,000 investors after five pyramids went bust last
month, but Alimucaj continues to claim that his investors have nothing
to fear and will get back their deposits in three or four months after
the climate of insecurity has passed. Vefa continues to make interest
payments. -- Fabian Schmidt

[As of 12:00 CET]

Compiled by Susan Caskie

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