Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it's the only thing that ever has. - Margaret Mead
OMRI DAILY DIGEST

No. 48, Part I, 08 March 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

^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^
In the 7 March issue of OMRI's journal, TRANSITION**:

BALKAN UNREST
- Pyramid Schemes Leave Albania on Shaky Ground
- Back to the Basics in Bulgaria
- Protests in Serbia Raise Hopes of Reconciliation in Kosovo
- In Post-Dayton Balkans, Change Comes Where It's Least Expected
PLUS...
- RUSSIA: Chernomyrdin: A Prime Minister Without Politics
- VIEWPOINT: Azerbaijan: Democracy in a State of Emergency

        and "Reviving the Black Sea"

For subscription information about OMRI's new monthly, send an e-mail
message to transition-DD@omri.cz

**See important message below on the upcoming changes to TRANSITION
^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^

CENTRAL AND EASTERN EUROPE

BELARUS NOTES INACCURACIES IN U.S. REPORT. The Belarusian Foreign
Ministry is drawing up an official response to the U.S. State Department
report criticizing human rights in Belarus, Belapan reported on 6 March.
Foreign Minister Ivan Antanovich said the Belarusian leadership does not
agree with the conclusions of the report, noting there are a number of
inaccuracies and misunderstandings. But he added that Minsk accepts some
of the criticisms. On 8 March, AFP quoted Italian deputy Clemente
Mastella as denying that an Italian parliamentary delegation's recent
visit to Minsk meant Italy recognized the new Belarusian parliament. He
said the visit was strictly a "practical trip" to work out agreements
that would allow Italians to adopt Belarusian children. He noted that
Belarusian speaker Anatol Malofeyev's interpretation of the visit as a
sign of official recognition was erroneous. So far, only Russia and
China have recognized the legitimacy of the post-referendum Belarusian
parliament. (For more on Belarus, see "YELTSIN, LUKASHENKA SIGN JOINT
DECLARATION," in the Russian part.) -- Ustina Markus

U.S. STATE SECRETARY ON UKRAINE-NATO AGREEMENT. Madeleine Albright said
she expected an agreement between Ukraine and NATO to be completed by
the July summit in Madrid, international agencies reported. Following a
meeting with her Ukrainian counterpart, Hennadii Udovenko, Albright said
Ukraine and the U.S. were strategic partners and that an independent
Ukraine was part of their shared vision of a Europe at peace. Udovenko
said the further development of U.S.-Ukrainian relations is an important
priority for Ukraine. -- Ustina Markus

IMMINENT CHANGES IN ESTONIAN CABINET. Prime Minister-designate Mart
Siimann has said he will announce the new cabinet only after the
parliament has approved his program, BNS reported on 7 March.
Legislators are likely to approve the program on 12 March. Eesti
Paevaleht revealed in its 8 March issue that Siimann wanted to retain
the cabinet of his predecessor, Tiit Vahi, but the rural parties in his
coalition demanded that Agriculture and Regional Affairs Ministers Ilmar
Mandmets and Tiit Kubri be dismissed. Siimann will have seven days after
his program is approved to present his cabinet to President Lennart
Meri. The president must appoint the cabinet within three days. Former
Agriculture Minister Avo Molder is rumored to be the most likely
candidate for that portfolio. -- Saulius Girnius

LOWER INFLATION IN BALTIC STATES. In February, monthly inflation in
Estonia was 0.9%, in Latvia 0.4%, and in Lithuania 0.6%, in each case
sharply down on the January levels, BNS reported on 7 March. The
combined rates for the first two months (2.3% in both Estonia and Latvia
and 3.4% in Lithuania) are considerably lower than for the same period
over the past six years, demonstrating that all three governments are
successfully tackling inflation. -- Saulius Girnius

POLISH DEPUTY PRIME MINISTER RESIGNS. Roman Jagielinski, who is also
agriculture minister and a leader of the co-ruling Polish Peasant Party
(PSL), has submitted his resignation to Prime Minister Wlodzimierz
Cimoszewicz, effective 31 March, Polish dailies reported on 8 March.
Jagielinski said he wants to take part in the EU agriculture ministers
meeting next week to secure funds for Polish agriculture. Last month,
the PSL's Supreme Executive Committee withdrew its support for
Jagielinski. On 1 March, the PSL's Supreme Council asked him to resign
immediately in exchange for the position of council vice president.
Jagielinski is regarded as a rival of PSL leader and former Prime
Minister Waldemar Pawlak. He has been agriculture minister for the past
two years, longer than anyone else who has held that post since 1989. --
Jakub Karpinski

UPDATE ON POLISH WORKERS' PROTESTS. Arms industry workers from around
the country descended on Warsaw on 7 March to demand an increase in
defense expenditures, Polish media reported. "The Communists are
destroying the country," they shouted. Near government headquarters,
demonstrators clashed with police who wielded truncheons. Solidarity
official Stanislaw Glowacki apologized to Warsaw inhabitants for the
"inconvenience" but blamed the police for the clashes. Police spokesman
showed journalists bottles and metal objects that had been thrown at
policemen. Meanwhile, striking bus drivers in Silesia signed an
agreement with city authorities on 7 March but are continuing their
protest action because of lack of progress in talks with transport
companies. -- Jakub Karpinski

SLOVAK OPPOSITION PARTY CALLS FOR PRE-ELECTION COALITION. Democratic
Union Deputy Chairman Jan Budaj on 8 March announced that his party will
initiate talks with other opposition parties to pave the way for a broad
coalition cabinet following the next parliamentary elections, Slovak
media reported. Speaking after a DU republican council session, Budaj
said the union will concentrate on forming a pre-election coalition with
the Christian Democratic Movement (KDH) and the Democratic Party (DS).
The DU also discussed preparations for the next party congress, at which
former Foreign Minister Eduard Kukan will compete with Jozef Moravcik
for party chairmanship. Also on 8 March, KDH Chairman Jan Carnogursky
said his party is prepared to enter a pre-election coalition with the DS
and to begin talks with the DU. Opinion polls show that the three
parties combined have roughly the same level of support as the ruling
Movement for a Democratic Slovakia. -- Sharon Fisher

SLOVAK ROUNDUP. Slovak dailies on 10 March were full of allegations
about close links between the government and Devin banka. The only
Slovak bank with significant Russian capital, Devin banka is said to be
an instrument of Russian influence over the Slovak government. Recently,
the director's wife, Blazena Martinkova, has often been seen with Prime
Minister Vladimir Meciar, although she does not work at the government
office, Praca reported. In other news, a private radio station, Radio
Koliba, is to be launched on 1 April, Sme reported on 8 March. One of
the station's co-owners is Fedor Flasik, the director of the Donar
advertising agency, which has close ties with the ruling Movement for a
Democratic Slovakia. The station is not expected to broadcast news
commentary. The owners of Radio Koliba are also said to have a good
chance of winning the competition for the privatization of Slovak TV's
second channel. -- Sharon Fisher

HUNGARIAN FOREIGN MINISTER OPTIMISTIC ON NATO FOLLOWING U.S. TRIP.
Laszlo Kovacs said on 7 March that meetings with U.S. Secretary of State
Madeleine Albright and other officials have reassured him about
Hungary's prospects of joining NATO in the first round, Reuters
reported. "The United States has indicated a very strong intention to
implement [NATO] expansion as scheduled," Kovacs told journalists on
returning to Hungary. Commenting on Romania's efforts to become a member
during the first round, Kovacs said Hungary supports the simultaneous
entry of Hungary and Romania into NATO but does not want to sacrifice
its chances of first-round membership on that account. In other news,
Prime Minister Gyula Horn on 9 March said ethnic Hungarians in Romania
could better promote their interests if the two countries were admitted
to NATO at the same time. -- Zsofia Szilagyi

HUNGARY'S YOUNG DEMOCRATS BACK FARMERS' PROTESTS. Viktor Orban, chairman
of the opposition Young Democrats, has expressed his party's full
support for farmers' demands, including the immediate cancellation of
social insurance and tax regulations, Hungarian media reported on 7
March. Farmers first erected road blockades in eastern Hungary two weeks
ago. Following extensive talks with government officials last week,
farmers are today continuing their protest against unfavorable
legislation. In other news, a recent poll conducted by the Szonda Ipsos
agency shows the opposition Smallholders party leading the popularity
ratings with 29% support. It is followed by the Young Democrats (24%)
and the ruling Socialist Party (22%). -- Zsofia Szilagyi

SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE

ALBANIAN PRESIDENT OFFERS DEAL... Sali Berisha on 9 March appeared on
state radio and television to offer a deal to the rebels, who now
control several towns in the southern part of the country. In a bid to
halt the violence, Berisha extended an amnesty beyond its 9 March
deadline and agreed, with the support of the opposition parties, to the
formation of a government of reconciliation that will include the
opposition. He also acceded to calls for early elections, which, he
said, will be held no later than June. The same day, Albanian TV
announced that its chief director, Qemal Sakajeva, has quit his post.
Rebels and protesters demanded his removal after the state media started
dubbing the rebels "terrorists." -- Stan Markotich

...BUT WILL IT BRING PEACE? Opposition political leaders have said they
will support Berisha's proposed deal, and some rebels in the south of
the country have deemed the concessions to be at least a partial
victory. But some rebels appear to remain defiant and unwilling to
surrender their arms. Just before Berisha announced his proposals,
rebels seized the southern town of Permet, Reuters reported on 10 March.
According to eyewitnesses, at least six people were killed in the
fighting. Rebel leaders claimed they fended off government troops, who
allegedly broke ranks and fled. Reuters notes that many of the southern
rebel leaders have already said they want Berisha to resign before they
consider turning in any of their artillery. -- Stan Markotich

YET ANOTHER RALLY IN BELGRADE. An estimated 50,000 opposition supporters
crowded into downtown Belgrade on 9 March to attend a rally
commemorating the sixth anniversary of the first mass protest against
Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic, Nasa Borba reported the next day.
In 1991, Milosevic deployed army tanks and armed police units to
disperse the crowds, resulting in the deaths of one protester and one
policeman. But at the most recent demonstration--the first to be held
since Milosevic recognized opposition Zajedno coalition wins in local
elections some three weeks ago -- police kept a very low public profile.
The three main Zajedno leaders, Vuk Draskovic, Vesna Pesic, and new
Belgrade mayor Zoran Djindjic, appealed for reform and called for
greater media freedom. -- Stan Markotich

BRCKO SUPERVISOR APPOINTED. At the Vienna conference on Brcko, U.S.
diplomat Robert W. Farrand was appointed supervisor of the disputed
Bosnian town, international agencies reported on 7 March. Both Muslims
and Serbs are claiming control over Brcko. Farrand's main task will be
to ensure that the Serbian authorities currently controlling the town
allow Croat and Muslim refugees to return to their homes. Brcko was the
only unresolved issue in the Dayton peace accords. Its fate was to have
been decided on 14 February, but it was decided to postpone a final
ruling until March 1998 and to appoint a supervisor to oversee the
running of the town and return of refugees. An extra 200 UN police will
be stationed in the town to monitor and advise the Serbian police. They
will have the same unarmed status as other UN police in the town, AFP on
8 March quoted diplomats at the Vienna conference as saying. The U.S.
wanted an armed force in Brcko, but its European partners vetoed that
proposal. -- Daria Sito Sucic

BOSNIAN SHORTS. A gang of Serbs on 7 March attacked a bus carrying
Muslim passengers on a road that runs from Sarajevo to the Muslim
enclave of Gorazde through the Bosnian Serb entity, Oslobodjenje
reported the next day. The Serbs stopped the bus, robbed and beat the
passengers, and threw a hand grenade into the bus. The grenade failed,
however, to explode. The Bosnian Federation Interior Ministry has
demanded that the UN police and SFOR provide better protection for
vehicles using the road. Meanwhile, some 500 Sarajevo citizens
demonstrated against the recent bombings of Catholic Churches in the
Bosnian capital. The 8 March demonstration was organized by the
independent monthly Dani under the motto "Build Mosques, Save Churches."
It was intended to show solidarity among all Bosnians against attacks on
religious monuments. In other news, Austria is to offer cash incentives
worth $2,500 to Bosnian refugees in the country to encourage them to
return home, AFP reported. -- Daria Sito Sucic

SERBS IN EASTERN SLAVONIA WANT DUAL CITIZENSHIP. Vojislav Stanimirovic,
head of the Serbian authorities in eastern Slavonia, has said that all
Serbs in the region would remain if the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia
were to conclude a dual citizenship agreement with Croatia, Reuters
reported on 9 March. The region is slated to revert to Croatia control
later this year. Croatian law allows for dual citizenship, but
Yugoslavia has not given its citizens that option. Stanimirovic said the
decision whether the Serbs will take part in Croatia's April elections
depends largely on UN chief for eastern Slavonia Jacques Klein meeting
their demands. But Stanimirovic did not specify what those demands are.
Meanwhile, the UN Security Council has agreed to 13 April as the date
for local elections in eastern Slavonia. But the council criticized both
Croatia and local Serbs for preventing the smooth transition of the area
to Croatian rule. -- Daria Sito Sucic

VAN DER BROEK WRAPS UP ROMANIAN VISIT. EU Foreign Affairs Commissioner
Hans van der Broek met with President Emil Constantinescu, Prime
Minister Victor Ciorbea, Foreign Minister Adrian Nastase, and other
officials during his visit to Romania, Radio Bucharest reported on 7
March. Noting that reforms instituted by Ciorbea's government are
"encouraging," he said the EU commission will offer Romania a $ 80.5
million loan to facilitate the implementation of reforms. Romania's
integration into the EU will heavily depend on the passage of
legislation that meets EU norms, on "administrative efficiency," and on
the existence of a fully free market, he commented. Van der Broek also
praised the government's policy toward national minorities. In other
news, three Council of Europe rapporteurs said at the end of their visit
to Bucharest on 7 March that they are impressed by Romania's progress
and that their report will be "positive." The council has to decide in
April whether to stop monitoring Romania's democratization. -- Michael
Shafir

ROMANIAN PARTY SPLITS. The wing of the National Liberal Party-Democratic
Convention that supports unification of liberal formations within the
framework of the Democratic Convention of Romania (CDR) elected a
tripartite leadership to replace chairman Nicolae Cerveni at a congress
in Sibiu on the weekend, Romanian media reported. Each of the three new
party leaders will hold the chairmanship for six months; Senator
Alexandru Popovici is first in line. Cerveni, who wants liberal
formations to unify outside the CDR, said the gathering was illegal.
Earlier, he demanded that members of the Popovici wing be dismissed from
the government. But the presence of delegations from other formations
representing CDR members at the Sibiu congress suggests support for the
anti-Cerveni wing. -- Michael Shafir

RUSSIAN OFFICIALS IN BULGARIA. Russian Deputy Prime Minister Oleg Lobov
and Gazprom head Rem Vyakhirov arrived in Sofia on 10 March for a two-
day visit, Bulgarian media reported. Lobov, who is also co-chair of the
Intergovernmental Bulgarian-Russian Commission for Commercial and
Scientific-Technical Cooperation, said Bulgaria needs to have more faith
in Gazprom and that it will profit annually if a gas pipeline is built
through the country. Gazprom and former socialist Prime Minister Zhan
Videnov have sparred over the "TopEnergy" joint venture. Videnov
insisted that the government should represent Bulgaria in managing that
joint venture, while the Russians favor Multigroup, a private business
grouping. Talks are to center on Russian credits for Bulgarian nuclear
energy, Russia's supplying parts and equipment for the Kozloduy nuclear
power facility, military-technical cooperation, and transport ties. --
Michael Wyzan

HARVARD ECONOMIST CRITICIZES WEST IN BULGARIA TALK. Jeffrey Sachs, a
Harvard University economics professor famous for his role in shaping
reforms in Poland and Bolivia, has criticized the West's approach to
Bulgaria's economic problems, Bulgarian media reported. Sachs was
speaking to journalists and economists in Sofia on 8 March. He argued
that while it may have been necessary to introduce a currency board
under the Socialists, such a body may not be needed under a government
committed to economic reform. Sachs argued that the country's small
foreign reserves (about $400 million) casts doubt on the efficacy of a
currency board, adding that the introduction of one will not restore
faith in the banks. Noting that annual debt service is about 10% of GDP,
Sachs lambasted the West for being more concerned about the welfare of
Western creditors than about that of the Bulgarian people. He advised
the Bulgarian government to be tough in negotiations with the IMF and
not to accept onerous conditions, despite the desperate situation. --
Michael Wyzan

[As of 12:00 CET]

Compiled by Jan Cleave

*^!*^!*^!*^!*^!*^!*^!*^!*^!*^!*^!*^!*^!*^!*^!*^!*^!*^!*^!*^!*^!*^!*^!*^!

What's in Store for the magazine Transition

We've learned much in the last two years about what sort of magazine
Transition can be and what role it should play in Central and Eastern
Europe and the former Soviet Union. Of greatest help in this process has
been the advice of readers. Among some of the desired changes are for
Transition to offer even more articles by writers in the region --
lively opinion pieces as well as fact-filled analysis and expanded
departments.

Accordingly, Transition will be substantially restructured and
relaunched as a monthly with the issue dated June 1997. The last
biweekly issue will be 6 April, followed by a brief hiatus. All existing
subscriptions will be honored and extended according to the new monthly
frequency, which is priced at $65 for 12 issues. As before, we offer a
substantial discount for readers in and of the countries we cover (apply
to the contacts listed below for more information).

For engaged intellectuals, policymakers, journalists, and scholars from
the region, the new Transition will provide a rare forum for the
exchange of ideas and criticism on political, economic, and cultural
issues and events.

For more information, contact the OMRI Marketing Department at tel.
(420-2) 6114 2114, fax (420-2) 6114 3181; email: transition-DD@omri.cz

*^!*^!*^!*^!*^!*^!*^!*^!*^!*^!*^!*^!*^!*^!*^!*^!*^!*^!*^!*^!*^!*^!*^!*^!

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