The greatest of faults, I should say, is to be conscious of none. - Thomas Carlyle 1975-1881
RFE/RL NEWSLINE

Vol. 1, No. 1, Part II, 1 April 1997


Vol. 1, No. 1, Part II, 1 April 1997

This is Part II of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty's Newsline.
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.

^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^
EAST-CENTRAL EUROPE

UKRAINIAN PREMIER TO ADDRESS PARLIAMENT. Pavlo
Lazarenko is to address the parliament to explain the
government's position on the budget, RFE/RL reported.
Ukrainian President Leonid Kuchma has asked Lazarenko to
give the speech. Kuchma has sharply criticized the prime
minister and his government for failing to deal with the
country's severe economic crisis. He has also warned he will
dismiss the government if the situation is not fixed. Lazarenko
has returned from an official visit to Egypt, where he met on
29 March with Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak  to discuss
trade and economic cooperation between the two countries.
In other news, Gen. George Joulwan, Supreme Allied
Commander of NATO in Europe, is scheduled today to begin a
two-day visit to Ukraine.

UKRAINIAN PRESIDENT CRITICAL OF RUSSIAN-
BELARUSIAN UNION. Kuchma has told journalists in Kyiv
that the planned union between Russia and Belarus is
"nonsense." According to Kuchma, the union is a way to
destroy the CIS. Kuchma also said he does not support some
of Belarus President Alyaksandr Lukashenka's recent actions,
such as the crackdown on the media in Belarus.

ESTONIAN FORMER INTERIOR MINISTER GOES ON
TRIAL. Heiki Arike on 31 March went on trial on charges of
participating in illegal weapons trading and illegally signing
weapons trade documents. Arike, a former deputy secretary of
the Internal Affairs Ministry and internal affairs minister
under Prime Minister Mart Laar, denied the charges.  He
admitted to having signed last-user certificates beginning in
spring 1993 but only for companies previously approved by
the police for such deals. The charges against Arike carry a
maximum sentence of three years. The trial continues today.

ESTONIAN FOREIGN MINISTER ON NATO ENLARGEMENT.
Toomas Hendrik Ilves says that during talks last week in the
U.S. capital, U.S. officials expressed support for a second wave
of NATO enlargement to follow the first and for a special
charter on relations with the Baltic States. The charter would
be an explicit statement of U.S. relations to the Baltic states. It
would contain neither security guarantees nor commitments
by the U.S. Ilves was speaking at a press conference on 30
March in Washington. He said Estonia has proposed a
Washington summit in 1999 at which another batch of
European countries would be admitted to NATO.  "The Madrid
summit [in June 1997] must be the formal beginning of a
process rather than the climactic end," Ilves commented.

STRONG WINDS KILL 10 IN POLAND.  Hurricane-strength
winds killed at least 10 people in Poland, PAP reported. Most
of the victims were killed by uprooted trees or falling debris.
Dozens of others were injured. Some 13,000 firefighters took
part in rescue actions across Poland. Many villages in the
southern and western parts of the country were left without
electricity or phone links.

SLOVAK PREMIER ON NATO. Vladimir Meciar claims that
U.S. State Secretary Madeleine Albright told him in July 1996
that Slovakia will not be admitted to NATO. Albright, who at
the time was U.S. ambassador to the UN, was accompanying
Hillary Clinton, wife of the U.S. President, on a  visit to
Slovakia. Meciar made the claim in an interview with Markiza
TV on 28 March. Sme reported the next day that the U.S.
Embassy in Bratislava does not want to comment on Meciar's
statements "at this point." Meanwhile, retired Gen. Jan Husak
is quoted by Slovensko as saying his Slovak Anti-Fascist
Fighters Union has sent a letter to the Russian War Veterans
Committee defending Slovakia's possible entry into NATO and
stressing NATO membership is one of the Slovak government's
priorities. His letter comes in response to the veterans' request
that the union join them in opposing NATO's eastward
expansion.

SLOVAK POLITICIAN CALLS FOR CONGRESS OF
"NATIONALLY-ORIENTED" PARTIES. Slovak National Party
Chairman Jan Slota wants to hold a conference in Slovakia of
"European nationally-oriented parties," the Austrian news
agency APA reports today. Slota said he will discuss such a
conference with leaders of 15 parties who attended the party
congress of the French National Front in Strasbourg over the
weekend. Slota is to meet with front chairman Jean-Marie Le
Pen today.

HUNGARIAN GOVERNMENT ORDERS INVESTIGATION
INTO INTELLIGENCE SERVICE. The government last week
ordered an investigation into the Information Office,
Hungarian media reported. Several office members are
reported to have gathered information on a number of
parliamentary deputies, including Environment Minister
Ferenc Baja and parliamentary speaker Zoltan Gal, without
seeking prior authorization. Minister without portfolio Istvan
Nikolits, who is in charge of the civilian secret services, is to
lead the investigation and will brief the government within two
weeks. The cabinet agreed that those deputies targeted in so-
called Operation Birch should be given the opportunity to
study the data gathered on them.

SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE

DEADLY COLLISION IN ADRIATIC. President Sali Berisha
declared 31 March a day of mourning following a collision
between an Albanian ship carrying refugees and an Italian
naval vessel three days earlier. Some 34 Albanians survived
the incident, while four are reported dead and 87 missing,
mainly women and children who were below deck. This is the
most serious incident to date in the exodus that has seen
13,000 Albanians flee to neighboring countries. Each side
blames the other for the sinking. The Italians have arrested
the Albanian captain and called for a joint investigation. The
Albanian authorities say the Italians deliberately rammed the
Albanian boat.

INTERNATIONAL MISSION APPROVED FOR ALBANIA. The
UN Security Council on 29 March voted in favor of an OSCE
proposal to ensure aid deliveries and help the Albanian
government restore order before the June elections. The
Albanian parliament gave its consent the following day.
Deployment is expected to begin as early as this week. The
force is expected to consist of some 2,500 troops, with a
similar number held in reserve. Countries mentioned as
definite or possible participants include Italy, France, Greece,
Spain, Portugal, Romania, Austria, Hungary, Turkey, and
Slovenia. The Italians have been ready since mid-March for
such an operation, but their role may have to be reviewed in
the aftermath of the incident on the Adriatic. Rebels in the
southern port of Vlora have threatened to kill any Italian
soldiers who arrive there with the mission.

UPDATE ON FORMER YUGOSLAVIA. The UN Security
Council has voted to send 186 additional police and 11 civilian
personnel to the disputed northeastern Bosnian town of
Brcko. In Vukovar, several hundred local Serbs pelted stones
at visiting politicians from the governing Croatian Democratic
Community (HDZ), RFE/RL reported. The HDZ commented
that it will nonetheless go ahead with its campaign for the
upcoming elections, which are a key element in the
reintegration of eastern Slavonia into Croatia. Meanwhile, a
Rijeka court has found four Bosnian Muslims guilty of "an act
of international terrorism" in allegedly planning to kill
renegade Muslim kingpin Fikret Abdic in April 1996.

IMMINENT CHANGES IN GERMAN DEPORTATION OF
BOSNIAN REFUGEES? U.S. spokesmen have said Washington
plans to take 18,000 people from Germany and elsewhere in
Europe who might be in special danger if sent back to Bosnia.
These include people from mixed marriages, traumatized
individuals, and former concentration camp inmates.
Elsewhere, UN spokesmen on 29 March blasted Bavaria
deporting refugees in the middle of the night and sending them
back into unsafe circumstances. In Germany itself, former
Foreign Minister Hans-Dietrich Genscher and many other
public figures have signed a declaration against the
deportations. It noted that  "among those deported were
pregnant women, patients receiving treatment for heart illness,
and other people whose deportation is incomprehensible,"
including survivors of Srebrenica. Current Foreign Minister
Klaus Kinkel admitted there are problems and said he will visit
Bosnia to discuss the policy, RFE/RL reported on 29 March.

KOSOVO ALBANIAN LEADER REJECTS SERBIAN
OPPOSITION'S OFFER. Fehmi Agani, vice president of the
Democratic League of Kosovo (LDK), called the Zajedno
coalition's latest offer inadequate. The LDK is the main ethnic
Albanian group in the country. The Serbian opposition
suggested making Kosovo a "region," RFE/RL reported on 30
March. Agani added that the Albanians "have been proven
correct" in their assessment that one should not be too eager
to embrace Zajedno and that the coalition is really no
alternative to the present Serbian regime. In other news, the
shadowy Kosovo Liberation Army has taken responsibility for a
recent series of killings, RFE/RL said on 29 March.

IMBROGLIO OVER COLLAPSED PYRAMID SCHEME IN
MACEDONIA. Political fallout continues over the demise just
over a month ago of TAT, a Bitola-based pyramid scheme. Its
collapse led to the loss of $60 million for 30,000 people and
the arrest of the firm's owner and the deputy governor of the
National Bank. Construction Minister Jorgo Sundovski denied
reports he had resigned in connection with the affair. On the
weekend, Bitola's Mayor Siljan Bicevski and his wife were
detained for helping funnel money from public and other
sources into TAT to keep it afloat.  Prime Minister Branko
Crvenkovski has meanwhile promised a war against crime and
corruption, AFP reported.

NO PROGRESS IN ROMANIAN-UKRAINIAN TALKS ON
BILATERAL TREATY... Talks between Romania and Ukraine
on a basic treaty appear to have stalled, RFE/RL reported on
the weekend. A press release issued in Bucharest said
Romania wants to review once again issues discussed in
earlier rounds of talks, while Ukraine has advanced "new
formulations" for the accompanying document. According to
Segodnya, Bucharest demands that Ukraine agree to the
demilitarization of Serpent Island and its declaration as a zone
unfit for human habitation. The Russian daily says this would
exclude the island from disputes over border areas, preventing
Ukraine from laying claim to the rich oil deposits believed to be
located in the island's continental platform. The island was
annexed by the Soviet Union in 1946.

...OR IN ROMANIAN-RUSSIAN PARLEYS. Following talks in
Moscow, a Romanian Foreign Ministry official said Russia
wants the basic treaty with Romania to be based on a text
agreed upon in April 1996. That text makes no mention of the
Molotov-Ribbentrop pact. But Romania want the text to be
supplemented by "ideas reflecting the contemporary situation
in Europe...and provisions included in similar treaties"
concluded by Bucharest. This is apparently a reference to
Security Council Recommendation 1201, which the treaty with
Hungary mentions. Romania also wants to discuss the issue of
the state treasures deposited in Moscow during the First World
War, Radio Bucharest reported on the weekend.

GREATER ROMANIA PARTY INVITES LE PEN. Corneliu
Vadim Tudor, leader of the xenophobic Greater Romania Party
(PRM), told the French National Front congress in Strasbourg
that the PRM "adheres without hesitation" to the front's
program and ideas, RFE/RL  reported on 31 March. He called
for a "brotherhood alliance" between the two parties. The
service cited French sources, according to whom Le Pen is to
visit Romania in 1997. On 28 March, thousands of farmers
demonstrated in Bucharest and Brasov last week to protest
the government's decision to close down state-owned farms
and reduce subsidies. They also chanted PRM slogans.
Meanwhile, a spokesman for the extra-parliamentary Socialist
Labor Party announced that his formation is close to forging
an alliance with the PRM.

MOLDOVAN PRESIDENT ON TREATY WITH ROMANIA.
Petru Lucinschi on 31 March told journalists in Chisinau that
Moldova wants to conclude the basic treaty with Romania "in
the nearest future."  He said the treaty should dispel "some
existing suspicions" and do away with the argument that "the
past was different," revealing his opposition to reunification.
With regard to the withdrawal of Russian forces from the
breakaway Transdniester region, Lucinschi said Russian
President Boris Yeltsin sees "no problems" but wants Moldova
to offer assurances that it will not turn into a "dangerous
state" for Russia in military terms, Radio Bucharest reported
on 31 March. Meanwhile, Lucinschi and Premier Victor
Ciubuc, attending the CIS summit in Moscow, met with
Gazprom President Rem Vyakhirev. They signed a document
on settling Moldova's 1994-1996 debts to the company, Infotag
reported on 28 March.

NEW PARTY FOUNDED IN MOLDOVA. The United Social
Democratic Party--composed of the former Moldovan Social
Democratic Party, the Party of Social Progress, the Republican
Party, the Party of Socialist Action, and the Party of Economic
Rebirth--was founded in Chisinau on 29 March, BASA-press
reported. The new party says it is "center-left oriented" and
rejects "shock-therapy in economic reforms... and the
concentration of property and capital in the hands of a small
social group." It also supports Moldova's neutrality and
opposes the country's federalization. The leaders of the five
united parties were elected co-chairmen of the new formation.

BULGARIA REDUCES GASOLINE PRICES. In a surprise
move, Bulgaria's interim cabinet on 31 March reduced the
price of gasoline by nearly 9%, according to an RFE/RL
correspondent. It ordered a report within two weeks on the
effects of the full liberalization of fuel prices.  Bulgaria has
experienced a fuel shortage for months. The government also
announced a 35% increase in the price of electricity for
households, a 30% hike in coal prices, and a 70% rise in the
cost of heating. Interim Prime Minister Stefan Sofiyanski said
last week that all wages will be go up 70% starting on 1 April
and that a new social security system will be implemented.
Meanwhile, a court has declared the state-owned Mineralbank
bankrupt, saying it was unable to meet payments to foreign
creditors exceeding $240 million, BTA reported. The bank's
total debt was not revealed.


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