He who knows nothing is nearer the truth than he whose mind is filled with falsehoods and errors. - Thomas Jefferson
RFE/RL NEWSLINE

Vol. 1, No. 2, Part II, 2 April 1997


Vol. 1, No. 2, Part II, 2 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.

^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^
UZBEK-GREEK RELATIONS
UKRAINE WANTS SPECIAL RELATIONS WITH NATO
ALBANIAN PRIME MINISTER MEETS SOUTHERN REBELS
BULGARIAN INFLATION FALLS SHARPLY


EAST-CENTRAL EUROPE

DEMONSTRATION IN MINSK. Police in the Belarusian capital
dispersed about 400 demonstrators who gathered yesterday to
protest the signing of the union treaty between Belarus and
Russia, ITAR-TASS reported. Police and protesters, most of
whom were from the opposition Popular Front, engaged in a
stand-off for more than an hour. After unsuccessful efforts to
persuade the crowd to disperse, police moved in and broke up
the rally. Some protesters were detained by the police. The
previous day, Belarusian police detained Irina Vazhnik, a
member of the Popular Front, and her husband for
distributing leaflets calling on people to take part in opposition
demonstrations, RFE/RL reported.

OBSTRUCTIONS TO INVESTMENT IN UKRAINE. Andriy
Bihun, commercial attache at the U.S. Embassy in Kiev, told
RFE/RL yesterday that the main obstruction to investment in
Ukraine "is the government which creates an unfavorable
climate for investors." His comment comes after the U.S.
electronics firm Motorola announced last week it is leaving
Ukraine because of the "unfavorable investment climate."
Motorola planned to invest some $500 million in Ukraine.
Bihun said the Communications Ministry granted Motorola a
license to operate a mobile phone system in Ukraine but later
insisted that Motorola apply for permission to use the GSM-
900 frequency. Meanwhile, the state-backed company
KyivStar, one of three winners for a recent tender for GSM-900
cellular frequency licenses, announced it intends to invest $30
million in its mobile telephone network this year.

UKRAINE WANTS SPECIAL RELATIONS WITH NATO.
Ukrainian Defense Minister Alexander Kuzmuk says Ukraine
wants to establish special relations with NATO. But he adds
that as long as Ukraine intends to stay outside military blocs
there is no question of it joining NATO. Kuzmuk was speaking
to journalists on 1 April after meeting with visiting Gen.
George Joulwan, NATO's supreme allied commander in
Europe. Joulwan told reporters that Ukraine's further
participation in NATO's Partnership for Peace program would
serve to strengthen relations between Ukraine and NATO. He
added that it would also increase confidence and mutual
understanding between Eastern European countries.

UKRAINIAN FOREIGN MINISTER ON TREATY WITH
ROMANIA. Hennady Udovenko says that talks on concluding
a treaty with Romania could be concluded soon, ITAR-TASS
reported from Kyiv on 1 April. He urged both sides to work
together to overcome differences. His statement comes after
the latest round of talks between the two countries stalled.

INTERNATIONAL COMMISSION ON SINKING OF ESTONIA.
The international commission investigating the sinking of the
ferry Estonia will not name who was responsible for the
installation of locks on the bow door, whose failure likely
caused the disaster that killed 852 people, RFE/RL reported
on 1 April. The Estonia sank on 28 September 1994 en route
from Tallinn to Stockholm. The commission's members are
from Estonia, Sweden, and Finland. Its task is to say why the
incident occurred, not who was responsible. A final report is
expected to be released in late April or early May.

RESULTS OF LITHUANIAN MUNICIPAL ELECTIONS
CONFIRMED. The Supreme Electoral Commission has
confirmed the results of the 23 March local elections, BNS
reported. The Conservatives received the largest number of
mandates in municipal councils, chalking up 493 (33.22
percent). The Lithuanian Democratic Labor Party (LDDP)
finished second with 212 mandates (14.29 percent), while the
Christian Democrats were in third place with 180 mandates
(12.13 percent). The Lithuanian Social Democrats received 136
mandates (9.16 percent), the Lithuanian Centrist Union -- 135
(9.10 percent). Other parties received less than 5 percent of
the votes.

VOTES ON POLISH CONSTITUTION. The Polish National
Assembly votes today on amendments to the draft constitution
proposed by President Aleksander Kwasniewski following
consultations with the main political parties, RFE/RL's
correspondent in Warsaw reports. The assembly's
Constitutional Commission recommended last week that most
of those amendments be accepted. The assembly will also
decide today on the whole text of the constitution in the final
vote. A two-thirds majority is needed for the document to pass.
The constitution's passage is virtually assured, because the
four biggest parties in the parliament, both from the
government and the opposition, worked together on the draft.
The constitution is also to be put to a referendum.

JOINT POLISH-UKRAINIAN BORDER PATROLS. Ukraine
and Poland are introducing joint controls at the Zosin-Ustilug
road border crossing today, RFE/RL's Warsaw correspondent
reports. The operation--the first of its kind between the two
countries--is the direct result of a bilateral agreement signed
last month. If successful, other border crossings will adopt the
same procedures. Under the new regime at Zosin-Ustilug,
travelers to Ukraine will be checked on the Ukrainian side of
the border by a joint patrol, while people traveling in the
opposite direction will be checked on the Polish side by a joint
Polish-Ukraine team.

CZECH PRESIDENT ON NATO, FRENCH PRESIDENT IN
PRAGUE. Vaclav Havel says he is opposed to a referendum on
NATO membership. Since membership is "basically a treaty
between states," it does not need to be approved in a
plebiscite, Havel told Czech TV yesterday. Havel was speaking
on the eve of a two-day visit by French President Jacques
Chirac to Prague, RFE/RL reported. The French president is
expected to express support to Prague's bid for early
membership in EU and NATO. He has already given similar
pledges to Hungary and Poland.

HAGUE JUDGES TOUR GABCIKOVO-NAGYMAROS
PROJECT. Judges from the International Court of Justice in
The Hague have begun a four-day, fact-finding tour of the
stretch of the Danube disputed in the ongoing trial over the
Gabcikovo-Nagymaros dam, a Slovak Foreign Ministry official
told RFE/RL on 1 April. The judges will inspect first the
Gabcikovo project in Slovakia and then the aborted Hungarian
side of the project at Nagymaros. The trial is due to resume in
mid-April, when the two countries will each have two days to
respond to the other's arguments. A final verdict is not
expected before the fall.

SLOVAK PRESIDENT DISTANCES HIMSELF FROM
PREMIER'S NATO STATEMENTS. Michal Kovac has
distanced himself from Premier Vladimir Meciar's statements
that the U.S. and Russia agreed Slovakia should not be invited
to NATO membership talks. Kovac says that from the
countless talks he has had with representatives of NATO
countries and from his personal talks with U.S. Secretary of
State Madeleine Albright, it is quite clear that "Slovakia will
decide on its fate itself insofar as it is capable of putting the
principles of democracy into practice." Kovac released these
comments to the media on 1 April.

SLOVAK NATIONAL PARTY CHAIRMAN INVITES LE PEN.
Jan Slota says that Jean-Marie Le Pen, leader of the extreme-
right French National Front, will visit Bratislava at the end of
April or the beginning of May. Slota attended the front's
congress in Strasbourg last weekend. He told Radio Twist his
party wants Le Pen to be received in Slovakia at government
and parliamentary levels. Slota objected to dubbing Le Pen's
supporters "fascists or Nazis." Instead, he described them as
people who want "turn France into a state for the French
again." He also confirmed his efforts to create a "community of
nationally-oriented European parties."

HUNGARIAN GOVERNMENT WANTS SMALLHOLDERS TO
RESPOND TO ANTI-SEMITISM CHARGE. The Coalition
Consultative Council--the top decision-making body of the two
Hungarian coalition parties--says the most important aspect of
the "Maczo controversy" is not Agnes Nagy Maczo's eventual
dismissal as deputy parliamentary speaker but the question of
whether to allow anti-Semitic tones in parliamentary debates,
the Hungarian press reports. Maczo, who is a deputy of the
Smallholders' Party, last week made remarks in the house that
many consider to have been anti-Semitic. The council wants
the Smallholders to answer the question of whether they
accept political anti-Semitism, RFE/RL reported.

HUNGARIAN PREMIER ON AGREEMENT WITH CHURCHES.
Gyula Horn says he expects a final agreement over public
financing of Churches and the ownership of former
ecclesiastical property will be reached in June, the Hungarian
press reports. Church and government representatives met
recently to discuss the issue. Horn said he firmly intended to
ensure that Churches and affiliated institutions are not
disadvantaged in any way. A preliminary agreement stipulates
that 1% of income tax revenues be allocated for this purpose.
If insufficient, the total sum will be supplemented by budget
funds.

SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE

ALBANIAN PRIME MINISTER MEETS SOUTHERN
REBELS... Bashkim Fino went to Gjirokaster yesterday, his
first trip to his troubled political home base since becoming
head of the coalition government last month. He was greeted
by cheering, heavily-armed rebel leaders from Gjirokaster and
Tepelene. Fino met with elected officials as well as with the
rebels and insurgent Committees of Public Salvation, Reuters
reported. The Democratic Party of President Sali Berisha has
threatened to pull out of the coalition government if officials
from the Socialist Party--to which Fino belongs--maintain
contacts with the rebels.

...AND ANNOUNCES CHANGES IN SECRET POLICE. Fino
used his trip to Gjirokaster to announce the abolition of SHIK,
the secret police, which is widely seen as an arm of President
Sali Berisha's Democratic Party. Fino said he and Berisha met
with SHIK boss Bashkim Gazidede and his deputy, Bujar
Rama, last weekend and formally accepted their resignations,
Reuters reported on 1 April. Fino also blocked funds for the
agency. "We are going to build a new intelligence service, with
a new face," he said. Elsewhere in Gjirokaster, there was an
attack on the home of the Greek consul. The incident is not
expected to overshadow Fino's trip to Greece today, since both
sides are determined to work together closely in the face of the
current crisis.

ITALIAN PRIME MINISTER FLIES TO ALBANIA. Romano
Prodi paid a half-hour surprise visit to Gjirokaster this
morning to talk with Fino about plans for a multinational force
to secure the delivery of relief supplies to Albania. Both
governments are anxious to press ahead with the project,
despite the imbroglio that arose following the fatal maritime
collision last week. Italian Defense Minister Beniamino
Andreatta said yesterday that the multinational intervention
force should be ready within 10 days. His Albanian
counterpart, Shaqir Vukaj, is in Italy to help prepare
the way. Meanwhile, the rebel Committee of Public Salvation in
Vlora says Italian troops are welcome there, AFP reported. An
Albanian government spokesman told Radio Tirana yesterday
that the maritime collision and the intervention force are
unrelated issues. He blasted "left extremists and Mafiosi" for
previously threatening the Italians.

UN WARNS OF HUNGER IN ALBANIA. A mission from the UN
Department of Humanitarian Affairs says 400,000 Albanians
are threatened by hunger in the wake of the current strife and
the collapse of the central state apparatus. A spokesman
added that while famine is not imminent and that the
quantities of food needed are modest compared with Bosnia
and some African crisis spots, it is still necessary to "fill the
gaps," Reuters reported on 1 April. The spokesman said that
anarchy and banditry are the main problems, not the
destruction and dislocation that plagued relief efforts in
Bosnia. Elsewhere, the Albanian Interior Ministry reports that
10 people died the previous day in incidents stemming from
the proliferation of weapons among civilians, AFP reported.

UPDATE ON FORMER YUGOSLAVIA. Montenegrin President
Momir Bulatovic insists on firing various ministers critical of
Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic, RFE/RL reported. But
Prime Minister Milo Djukanovic refuses to do so, arguing that
only parliament can make the decision. In Sarajevo, Bosnia's
Energoinvest company says it will no longer import any gas
from Russia. The decision came after Russia's Gazeksport cut
deliveries to Bosnia to a bare minimum because of unpaid
bills. In Banja Luka, today's Nasa Borba writes that Republika
Srpska President Biljana Plavsic's position is increasingly
under threat after her Serbian Democratic Party overruled her
objections to a new treaty on relations with Belgrade. Over the
weekend, Muslim and international officials charged that the
Pale-Belgrade agreement could lead to the economic division of
Bosnia by setting up special ties between the Republika
Srpska and federal Yugoslavia.

VAN DER STOEL IN BUCHAREST. Romanian Foreign
Minister Adrian Severin says his country still needs OSCE
High Commissioner for National Minorities Max van der Stoel
for the protection of national minority rights in Romania as
well as for the protection of the Romanian national minorities'
rights in neighboring countries. Van der Stoel met with Severin
yesterday at the beginning of his three-day visit to Romania,
RFE/RL reported. Severin told Van der Stoel that the problem
of the Babes-Bolyai university in Cluj should be solved by
setting up a Romanian and a Hungarian department within
the university, rather than creating two ethnic universities.
Van der Stoel will also meet with President Emil
Constantinescu, Premier Victor Ciorbea, and leaders of the
UDMR--the Hungarian ethnic alliance.

NEW FOREIGN INVESTMENTS IN ROMANIA. Tokyo is to
grant Romania a $ 177 million credit for Transportation
Ministry projects to build a container-terminal in Constanta
and improve roads in the southwestern part of the country. In
other news, Lockheed President Norman Augustine says the
company is interested in investing in the Romanian arms
industry. He adds that the company has already started
lobbying in the U.S. Congress and the White House for
Romania's admission to NATO, RFE/RL reported on 1 April.

NEW MOLDOVAN PARTY BACKS PRESIDENT. The United
Social Democratic Party of Moldova (PSDUM) says it supports
President Petru Lucinschi's political program but does not
want to be considered a pro-presidential party, Infotag
reported on 1 April. Anatol Taranu, co-chairman of the
PSDUM, told a news conference in Chisinau that his party will
back Lucinschi insofar as he implements his program. Eugen
Sobor, another PSDUM co-chairman, said that while the party
strives to attract "prestigious personalities" to its ranks, it does
not wish to turn itself into a mass party. He added that it "will
close its doors to renegades who have tried many parties in the
last years."

MOLDOVA'S HOMELESS CHILDREN. At least a third of all
homeless children in Chisinau are ill with syphilis, RFE/RL
reports on 2 April. In addition, at least half of these children
suffer from various infectious skin diseases, according to
statistics released by police. The number of homeless children
in Moldova is rising steadily. In 1996 alone, shelters in
Chisinau received more than 1,500 children--an increase of
25% over the previous year. Most of them are from homes
affected by alcoholism or extreme poverty.

BULGARIAN PROSECUTOR SAYS EX-COMMUNISTS
SABOTAGED LUKANOV CASE. Bulgaria's chief prosecutor
has accused the previous Socialist government of doing
everything possible to help late Prime Minister Andrei Lukanov
win his case against Bulgaria at the Council of Europe's
Human Rights Court in Strasbourg, RFE/RL reported on 1
April. Ivan Tatarchev says an investigation is being launched
to clarify the activities of former Premier Zhan Videnov and his
justice minister, Mladen Chervenyakov. The court ruled last
month that the human rights of Lukanov were violated when
he was arrested in 1992 on charges of misappropriation. It
ordered the state to pay his widow and two children more than
$ 20,000 in legal costs and compensation. Lukanov was
assassinated last October.

BULGARIAN INFLATION FALLS SHARPLY. Alberto
Mussalem, representative of the World Bank in Sofia, says that
since Stefan Sofiyanski's caretaker cabinet took office in
February, inflation has fallen sharply, while treasury and
hard-currency reserves have increased. RFE/RL's
correspondent in Sofia quotes Sofiyanski as saying Bulgaria is
on the brink of "relative financial and economic stabilization."
Sofiyanski said price liberalization will not lead to economic
hardship for the country's citizens. He added that the World
Bank has pledged $40 million for grain imports and that the
U.S. will soon donate $25 million worth of forage grains for
livestock.

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