Discovery consists of seeing what everybody has seen and thinking what nobody has thought. - Albert Szent-Gyorgyi
OMRI DAILY DIGEST

No. 40, Part II, 26 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

EU TO SEND ANOTHER MISSION TO BELARUS . . . The EU is to send another
fact-finding mission to Belarus, RFE/RL reported on 25 February. The
decision comes one day after the EU foreign ministers heard an oral
report by a fact-finding mission composed of EU, Council of Europe. and
OSCE representatives on the political situation in Belarus (see OMRI
Daily Digest, 25 February 1995). The second mission is to start work
next week and will be headed by the Netherlands' Aad Kosto, who led the
previous mission. One of its tasks will be to convey to President
Alyaksandr Lukashenka the ministers' disapproval of the November 1996
referendum and the subsequent dismissal of the democratically elected
parliament. The plebiscite gave Lukashenka sweeping powers. Since then,
European bodies have criticized his authoritarian rule and threatened to
suspend assistance to Belarus until democratic norms are respected. --
Sergei Solodovnikov

. . . WHILE WORLD BANK WITHHOLDS CREDITS. World Bank representative to
Belarus Christopher Willoughby has blamed the government's
indecisiveness for the bank's refusal to grant Belarus any loans over
the past three years, Belarusian TV reported on 25 February. Willoughby
noted that if Belarus wanted to become a regional economic power, it
needed foreign investment, a tight budget, the completion of
privatization, and a competitive market environment. Similar statements
have been made on many occasions, but the Belarusian government has so
far failed to take decisive action to implement any of those measures.
-- Ustina Markus

UKRAINIAN PRESIDENT FIRES TWO MINISTERS. Leonid Kuchma has sacked
Finance Minister Valentyn Koronevskii and Statistics Minister Oleksander
Osaulenko, international agencies reported on 25 February. He also
announced that Economy Minister Vasyl Hureyev and Valerii Malev,
minister for machine-building and the military complex, would be
transferred to other posts. Prime Minister Pavlo Lazarenko had asked
Kuchma the previous day to fire the four ministers following sharp
criticism of the government over unpaid wages and the slow pace of
reform. Wage arrears totaled 4.2 billion hryvnyas ($2.3 billion) at the
beginning of 1997, while GNP in January was down by 10.4% on the January
1996 level. Kuchma launched a cabinet reshuffle earlier this month when
he fired the agriculture minister and deputy transport minister. -- Oleg
Varfolomeyev

UKRAINIAN FOREIGN AFFAIRS ROUNDUP. A Romanian delegation has arrived in
Kyiv for talks on the Romanian-Ukrainian basic treaty, international
agencies reported on 25 February. Ukrainian First Deputy Foreign
Minister Anton Buteiko was optimistic that the talks would yield
results, pointing out that Bucharest needs to conclude a comprehensive
bilateral treaty with Ukraine to improve its chances of early admission
into NATO. With regard to issue of the Ukrainian-Romanian border, he
said Ukraine is ready to make concessions, while Romanian President Emil
Constantinescu has noted that Romania is prepared to recognize Ukraine's
current borders and its ownership of Serpent Island, an outcrop with
potentially valuable energy reserves around it. Italian Prime Minister
Romano Prodi met with Ukrainian President Leonid Kuchma in Lviv on 25
February to discuss boosting economic cooperation. The same day,
Ukrainian Defense Minister Oleksandr Kuzmu and his Albanian counterpart,
Safet Zhulali, signed an agreement in Kyiv on military cooperation. --
Ustina Markus

ESTONIAN PREMIER RESIGNS. Tiit Vahi on 25 February submitted his
resignation to President Lennart Meri two weeks after he narrowly
survived a no confidence vote (see OMRI Daily Digest, 11 February 1997),
ETA reported. Meri is required to nominate within 14 days a new prime
minister, who then has two weeks to present a government for the
parliament's approval Vahi and his cabinet will remain in office until
the new government is approved. The ruling Coalition Party has named its
caucus head, Mart Siimann, as candidate for premier. The Progress,
Center, and Reform Parties reportedly back Siimann's candidacy, although
it is unclear whether any of those formations will be invited to form a
coalition. Vahi intends to return to the parliament as a deputy. --
Saulius Girnius

LITHUANIAN PRESIDENT LOSES A NOMINATING PRIVILEGE. The Seimas on 25
February accepted the resignation of Vladas Nikitinas as prosecutor-
general but asked him to remain in office until a successor is
appointed, Radio Lithuania reported. Deputies rejected President
Algirdas Brazauskas's suggestion that Deputy Prosecutor-General Arturas
Paulauskas serve as an interim head. They also transfered the right to
nominate the prosecutor-general from the president to the Seimas Law and
Order Committee. That body will consider candidates proposed by the
chairman of the Supreme Court and the justice minister. The Center
Union--which has two portfolios but is not a formal coalition partner--
did not take part in the vote on the right to nominate the prosector-
general because it believes that changes in the legal system should be
made only after a broader public debate. -- Saulius Girnius

PARLIAMENTARY DEBATE OVER POLISH CONSTITUTION HEATS UP. During the
second day of the joint parliamentary session to debate the draft
constitution, Polish Solidarity leader Marian Krzaklewski rejected the
draft and argued for a constitution based on religious values, Polish
media reported. "Poland has always founded its system of values and its
constitutional law on Christian values," Krzaklewski said. Former Prime
Minister and Freedom Union leader Tadeusz Mazowiecki expressed
astonishment at Krzaklewski's statement. Mazowiecki is the author of a
compromise formula in the preamble to the draft, which stresses that
Poland is a nation made up both of believers and non-believers.
Solidarity senator Barbara Lekawa demanded that the word "citizens" be
replaced in the constitution by "nation." -- Jakub Karpinski

SLOVAK INTEGRATION INTO EURO STRUCTURES. Foreign Ministry State
Secretary Jozef Sestak told journalists on 25 February that he believes
the referendum on NATO membership will confirm the government's program
and give it a clear mandate to forge ahead with negotiations over
Slovakia's entry into the alliance. He added that there is no
alternative for Slovakia to NATO membership. In other news, European
Commissioner Hans van den Broek said after a meeting of the EU-Slovak
committee in Brussels that the lack of foreign investment in Slovakia is
a result of the political climate. Van den Broek expressed hope that the
Slovak parliament will soon pass a law on the use of minority languages.
-- Anna Siskova

SLOVAK POLITICAL UPDATE. Spokeswoman Marta Podhradska said on 25
February that Minister of Culture Ivan Hudec will not meet theater
unions demands because he considers the protest action among theater
employees illegal, CTK reported. The theaters want all theaters to be
declared legal entities and an open competition for the directorships of
all theaters and ensembles. Thirteen of Slovakia's 21 theaters are
affected by the protest, which is taking the form of a statement read to
the audience after a performance. Meanwhile, Slovak President Michal
Kovac has met with the top representatives of the opposition parties to
discuss the petition drive for a referendum on direct presidential
elections. Presidential spokesman Vladimir Stefko said Kovac is
considering holding the referendums on membership in NATO and on direct
presidential elections at the same time to save money and simplify
organizational matters. -- Anna Siskova

HUNGARIAN FARMERS, CABINET REACH PRELIMINARY AGREEMENT. Farmers'
representatives and a government delegation headed by Finance Ministry
State Secretary Tibor Draskovics have reached a preliminary agreement
over new tax and social insurance measures, Hungarian media reported on
25 February. The agreement simplifies tax procedures and eases the
farmers' tax and social insurance burdens. However, farmers have started
their third--and final--scheduled day of protests, partly blocking roads
mainly in eastern Hungary. Hungarian Radio reported some protesters as
saying they are no longer protesting simply the new taxes but the
government's agriculture policy as a whole. -- Zsolt Mato

HUNGARY, ROMANIA AGREE TO OPEN CONSULATES. Hungarian and Romanian
Foreign Ministry officials, meeting in Budapest on 25 February,
exchanged documents providing for consulates on each other's territory,
Reuters reported. Romania will open a consulate in the southeastern city
of Szeged, while the Hungarian consulate will be located in the
Transylvanian city of Cluj. Two honorary consulates, mainly aimed at
improving economic ties, are to open in the west Hungarian town of Gyor
and in Constanta, on Romania's Black Sea coast. The opening of the Cluj
consulate has triggered widespread controversy, with local nationalists
and all parliamentary opposition parties voicing their objections (see
OMRI Daily Digest, 14 January 1997). In related news, a delegation from
the Hungarian parliament's European Integration Committee held talks
with senior Romanian officials in Bucharest. Viktor Orban, president of
the committee, reiterated Hungary's desire that Romania and Hungary join
NATO simultaneously. -- Zsolt Mato

SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE

U.S., EU EXPRESS CONCERN OVER DEVELOPMENTS IN ALBANIA. The State
Department on 25 February said it is "deeply concerned" about recent
developments in Albania, AFP reported. It also urged local leaders to
call for an end to the violence and to "respect the right of their
citizens to demonstrate peacefully." The U.S. is "deeply troubled by
reports of beatings and other acts of intimidation," the statement
stressed. In Brussels, the EU foreign ministers backed moves by the
European Commission to give money and technical assistance to Albania
through its PHARE program, Reuters reported. Aid would be targeted at
agriculture, small and medium-sized businesses, and local communities.
Technical assistance would also be offered to Albania's banking sector.
But the ministers made clear they expected Albania to abide by
democratic principles. -- Fabian Schmidt

MORE CLASHES IN TIRANA. Men claiming to be students broke up an anti-
government sit-in at Tirana University on 25 February, attacking
students and journalists, local media reported. Pro-government student
union leader Shkelzer Margjeka was reported to be among the men who
broke up the gathering. The head of the Tirana Engineering School said
at least 90% of students stayed away from classes that day. Meanwhile,
48 students in Vlora continued the hunger strike they began last week.
They have been joined by striking students in Fier, Gjirokastr, and
Shkoder. In Berat, President Sali Berisha, addressing some 1,000 invited
supporters, dismissed the student's demands as illegal. The Democratic
Party has said it will return a $50,000 donation received from the
Gjallica pyramid company last year before the election campaign.
Meanwhile, Albania's premier soccer team, Flamurtari, has pledged to
continue its boycott of matches in support of the protests. -- Fabian
Schmidt

SERBIAN UPDATE. Thousands of students continued their protest in
Belgrade on 25 February, calling for increased reforms and the dismissal
of the pro-regime rector of Belgrade University, local independent media
reported. Teachers also kept up their strike action to demand increased
pay, while doctors staged a one-hour warning strike in support of their
demand for improved wage packages. In other news, Reuters reported that
the newly appointed Zajedno members of Belgrade's Municipal Assembly
traveled to Spain on 25 February to launch an appeal for funds to
rebuild Belgrade's infrastructure, which, they say, is in ruins because
of Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic's policies. -- Stan Markotich

SERBIAN STATE MEDIA RENEW ATTACK AGAINST MONTENEGRIN PREMIER. Serbia
state-run television and most state-controlled dailies have made more
barbs against Milo Djukanovic, accusing him of "arrogance" and
involvement in conspiracies to destabilize the Federal Republic of
Yugoslavia. This is the second verbal attack agains the Montenegrin
premier within a week (see OMRI Daily Digest, 24 February 1997).
Djukanovic is among those leaders seeking to undermine Milosevic's
authority and break up Montenegro's political union with Serbia.
Meanwhile, prominent members of Montenegro's literary circles have
signed a letter to Montenegrin President Momir Bulatovic appealing to
the Montenegrin authorities to put a stop to Milosevic's "dictatorship."
The letter--signed by the head of Montenegro's PEN club, Jakov
Mrvaljevic--appears in today's issue of Nasa Borba. -- Stan Markotich

HAGUE COURT STEPS UP PRESSURE IN BLASKIC CASE. The International
Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia is continuing efforts to
obtain information in the case against Gen. Tihomir Blaskic, who has
served with the armies of both Croatia and the Bosnian Croats. The court
expects current Bosnian Defense Minister Ante Jelavic, a Croat, to
appear on 28 February to present documents as promised by the Sarajevo
government, AFP wrote on 25 February. The tribunal's chief prosecutor,
Louise Arbour, will also meet with Croatian officials in Zagreb to
obtain yet more information. Blaskic agreed in a deal to come to The
Hague, where he is being tried for a series of war crimes in 1993 and
early 1994 against Muslims, primarily in the Lasva valley area. --
Patrick Moore.

ZAGREB, BELGRADE TO WORK TOGETHER ON MISSING PERSONS. The governments of
Croatia and federal Yugoslavia agreed in principle on 25 February to
speed up work in investigating the fate of some 2,400 Croats and 3,000
Serbs missing since the 1991 war. The Croatian Foreign Ministry released
the statement, adding that the head of the Croatian commission for
missing persons, Ivan Grujic, and his federal Yugoslav counterpart,
Pavle Todorovic, will meet again on 6 March. The fate of the missing
remains an emotionally charged issue across the former Yugoslavia.
Although it is widely assumed that most of the persons in question are
now dead, both sides are demanding the clarification of each case.
Meanwhile, the UN has published a report saying that there are 25,000
missing in all across the former Yugoslavia and blaming the Belgrade
government and NATO peacekeepers for the lack of progress in clearing up
these cases. -- Patrick Moore

UN HOLDS CROATIAN POLICE RESPONSIBLE FOR MOSTAR VIOLENCE. The UN police
has said that Bosnian Croat policemen were responsible for the shooting
of Muslims in the Croat-held part of Mostar during Muslim-Croat clashes
there on 10 February, which left one dead and 34 wounded, international
media reported on 26 February. The report said at least two West Mostar
police officers in plain clothes were photographed firing into the
Muslim crowd, including the Croatian police deputy chief. Michael
Steiner, deputy High Representative for Bosnia-Herzegovina, called on
top Bosnian officials to dismiss, arrest, and put on trial criminals
identified by the report. Alija Izetbegovic, the Bosnian Muslim member
of the presidency, has accepted Steiner's request unconditionally. But
the Croatian member, Kresimir Zubak, said his acceptance was conditional
on the submission of further reports about violence after the 10
February incident. But Steiner said this is unacceptable. Meanwhile, the
U.S. State Department called on the Bosnian Federation authorities to
bring to justice those singled out by the UN report. -- Daria Sito Sucic

ZAGREB SUBMITS FINAL LIST OF SERBIAN WAR CRIMINALS. Croatian Deputy
Premier Ivica Kostovic on 25 February said Zagreb has submitted to the
UN a list of suspected war criminals in the 1991 Serbian-Croatian war,
Vjesnik reported the next day. The list was not made public. According
to Kostovic, it contains the names of between 140 and 170 people who
lived in eastern Slavonia in 1991 and who are currently resident in the
area. -- Daria Sito Sucic

MACEDONIAN PRIVATIZATION DISPUTE RESULTS IN BRAWL. Four people were
injured and 14 arrested in a fistfight in Skopje on 24 February after
Ivan Dicev, ousted director of the Pelagonija construction company, and
30 "bodyguards" forced their way into the company's premises, Macedonian
media reported. The police restored order and arrested Dicev and his
entourage. Workers were on strike from mid-December 1996 until early
February to protest massive layoffs, wage and social-benefit arrears,
alleged criminal offenses, and the method used to privatize the company.
The workers' strike committee decided last month to suspend Dicev and
the board of directors and to appoint a new management. During the
strike, Dicev claimed he had signed a $400 million deal with Albania's
Vefa Holding, a suspected pyramid scheme. -- Michael Wyzan

ROMANIAN PREMIER ON IMPACT OF ECONOMIC REFORM. Victor Ciorbea on 25
February said during a two-hour live broadcast on Radio Bucharest that
Romania needed strict economic reform to avoid the kind of economic
collapse experienced by neighboring Bulgaria and to make up for the time
wasted by the former leftist administration. Ciorbea remained confident
that the first positive effects of his cabinet's austerity and reform
program would be felt later this year if the program were implemented in
full. Meanwhile, former President Ion Iliescu told Cronica romana on 26
February that the current cabinet's package of economic and social
reforms was a "big hoax." -- Dan Ionescu

BULGARIAN ROUNDUP. IMF representative to Bulgaria Anne McGuirk, at the
start of two-week negotiations with the interim government to conclude a
fifth stand-by loan agreement, confirmed that she would like to work
with the cabinet but was not certain if the IMF could sign an accord
with it, local media reported on 26 February. Nonetheless, at a meeting
with President Petar Stoyanov, McGuirk said she is impressed by the
willingness of the new cabinet to introduce tough reforms. Meanwhile,
Bulgaria's leading trade unions on 25 February signed an agreement with
the interim government and the Chamber of Commerce on protecting incomes
and imposing a moratorium on strikes, RFE/RL reported. The unions have
agreed not to make unrealistic wage demands and to support the
government during the transitional period of structural reform.
Caretaker Prime Minister Stefan Sofiyansky described the agreement as an
"extremely important [demonstration of] support." -- Maria Koinova

[As of 12:00 CET]

Compiled by Jan Cleave

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