There is one thing more exasperating than a wife who can cook and won't, and that is the wife who can't cook and will. - Robert Frost
RFE/RL NEWSLINE

Vol. 1, No. 8, Part II, 10 April 1997


Vol. 1, No. 8, Part II, 10 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. Back
issues of RFE/RL NewsLine are available through RFE/RL's WWW
pages: http://www.rferl.org/newsline/search/

Back  issues of the OMRI Daily Digest are available through OMRI's
WWW pages: http://www.omri.cz/

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HEADLINES, Part II

*BELARUSIAN PRESIDENT SAYS RUSSIAN TV STAGED
"SAVAGERY" AT UNAUTHORIZED RALLY

*FRANCHUK MAKES COMEBACK AS CRIMEAN PRIME
MINISTER

*ITALY APPROVES ALBANIAN MISSION
xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

EAST-CENTRAL EUROPE

BELARUSIAN PRESIDENT SAYS RUSSIAN TV STAGED
"SAVAGERY" AT UNAUTHORIZED RALLY. Alyaksandr
Lukashenka has accused the opposition Belarusian Popular
Front of staging unauthorized marches in Minsk to enable
opposition and Russian media to report negatively on Belarus.
Speaking at a rally in Kobrin in the south of the country
yesterday, he said, "We do not need lessons in democracy.
Marches are allowed where they are authorized." He claimed
that rally participants are being recruited by the opposition.
Later, Lukashenka told collective farm officials in western
Belarus that Russian TV  staged clashes between protesters
and riot police. Referring to the suppression of an
unauthorized rally last week, he told the farmers that the
"savagery" they saw on Russian TV channels "never
happened."  The opposition says some 300 were injured at the
rally and another 300 detained.

ANOTHER DEMONSTRATION IN MINSK. Some 10,000
workers held an authorized rally near the tractor stadium in
Minsk yesterday to protest what they say is government
indifference toward their demands for higher wages, new jobs,
and the stable functioning of factories, Belapan reports. The
Association of Independent Industrial Trade Unions organized
the rally. Calls for militia officers' wages to be given to workers
instead  and for police to stop beating people in the streets
were greeted with a storm of applause. Participants pledged to
continue their protests until the government and president
meet their demands.

FRANCHUK MAKES COMEBACK AS CRIMEAN PRIME
MINISTER.  Anatoly Franchuk has been installed as caretaker
Crimean premier, after the peninsula's parliament voted to
oust Arkady Demidenko as head of the government, Interfax
reported yesterday. Parliamentary speaker Anatoly Gritsenko
said the move had been discussed beforehand with Ukrainian
President Leonid Kuchma. Previous attempts to remove
Demidenko had been declared invalid by Kuchma. According
to the constitution, the Ukrainian head of state must approve
cabinet changes in Crimea. Franchuk goes to Kyiv today and
then to Moscow to seek assistance.

ELECTRICITY PRICE HIKE IN ESTONIA. The Estonian
government is to increase electricity prices by one-third
starting next month, BNS reported yesterday  Heido Vitsur,
economics adviser to the prime minister, said the move was
recommended by an independent price commission. The hike
is the largest since Estonia regained independence in 1991.
The average electricity price will total 0.49 kroons (3 cents) per
one kilowatt-hour from May until the end of this year.

LATVIAN OFFICIALS RESPOND TO OSCE CRITICISM OF
CITIZENSHIP TEST. Eizenija Aldermane, director of the
Latvian Naturalization Office, told RFE/RL's Latvian Service
yesterday that the country's citizenship test is not too
"complicated." She was responding to criticism by OSCE High
Commissioner on Ethnic Minorities Max van der Stoel earlier
this week (see RFE/RL Newsline, 8 April 1997). Aldermane
said there are many reasons why non-Latvians are reluctant to
apply for citizenship, including the desire to avoid military
service. She added that only some 10% of the 124,000 non-
citizens eligible to apply have shown any interest in doing so.
But in a separate interview with RFE/RL, Janis Jurkans,
leader of the leftist Harmony Party, agreed with Van der Stoel
that the test is too stringent. He argued that the current
citizenship law is impeding the integration of non-citizens.

POLISH PARLIAMENT TO DISCUSS TOBACCO
ADVERTISING. The Polish parliament is to vote this week on
an amendment to the 1995 law on tobacco advertising,
RFE/RL's Warsaw correspondent reports. Under the law,
cigarette packs sold after the end of this year will have to carry
a health warning covering at least 30% of the front and the
back of each pack. The proposed amendment would overturn
that requirement before it takes effect. Polish anti-smoking
campaigners yesterday launched a campaign against the
amendment. Last year, some 90 billion cigarettes were sold in
Poland.

CZECH GOVERNMENT APPROVES CHURCH RESTITUTION
PROPOSAL. The Czech government yesterday approved a
Culture Ministry proposal to return 232 state-owned buildings
to the Roman Catholic Church and other religious
communities, Czech media reported. But it ruled out the
restitution of 228 other buildings and decided that the return
of another 112 is "problematic" and will be subject to further
examination. Among the real estate regarded as
"unproblematic" are the medieval Bouzov castle in Moravia,
the spa of Karlova Studanka, the Gothic church in Most, and
buildings currently used as schools, museums, galleries, and
offices throughout the country.

CZECH PRESIDENT CLARIFIES LEADERSHIP HIERARCHY.
Havel has resolved a dispute between the leaders of the two
houses of parliament and Prime Minister Vaclav Klaus over the
constitutional ranking of senior officials, according to a press
release by the President's Office yesterday. The dispute caused
protocol problems during recent official visits. Havel's
spokesman says that, following discussions between the
president and several state agencies, it has been decided that
Havel is followed in rank by Senate speaker Petr Pithart,
Chamber of Deputies Speaker Milos Zeman, and Prime
Minister Klaus, respectively. Havel's office says the reasons for
the decision were that elected officials have priority over
appointees and the Senate is the upper house.

UPDATE ON SLOVAK RESPONSE TO HAVEL STATEMENT.
Vladimir Meciar has denied that recalling the Slovak
ambassador to the Czech Republic for consultations will
worsen relations between Bratislava and Prague. Speaking on
Slovak TV last night, he said the recall is a "normal democratic
step." The move came one day after the Slovak government
demanded an apology from Czech President Vaclav Havel for
saying in an interview with Le Figaro last month that Meciar is
paranoid about Slovakia's being excluded from NATO
expansion. Meciar hinted he might retaliate by making public
the five-year-old transcripts of talks with Havel on dissolving
the Czechoslovak federation. Meanwhile, Sme quotes former
Foreign Minister Eduard Kukan of the opposition Democratic
Party as saying that recalling the ambassador can "only harm"
Slovakia. Slovakia's Hungarian Christian Democratic
Movement says the current dispute between Prague and
Bratislava is "far from sufficient cause to react in such a
manner"

NATO OFFICIAL IN BUDAPEST. NATO Deputy Secretary-
General Norman Ray says new members of the alliance from
Central Europe will be free to buy Russian military equipment,
Reuters reported. Ray told journalists that NATO has no
centralized control over armaments planning, budgeting, or
procurement. He said the main criterion for prospective
members will be their ability to work within the alliance,
regardless of the source of their military equipment. Ray was
in Budapest for discussions with Defense Minister Gyorgy
Keleti.

SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE

ITALY APPROVES ALBANIAN MISSION. The Italian
parliament agreed last night to send troops to lead a European
force to Albania. Italian Prime Minister Romano Prodi made a
last-minute deal with the center-right opposition to clinch a
majority vote. Prodi said that the more than 5,000 troops will
start deploying on 14 April.  France, Romania, Spain, Turkey,
and Greece also plan to send troops. The peacekeepers' goal is
to restore order and protect the delivery of humanitarian aid.

ALBANIAN PRIME MINISTER CALLS AGAIN FOR
DEPLOYMENT.  Bashkim Fino said in Tirana yesterday that
the international force is badly needed so that his government
can concentrate on battling organized crime. Fino told Reuters
that conditions throughout the country remain dangerous
because so many people are armed. Rebel leaders say that
they will give up their weapons only after new elections and
only to international peacekeepers. But the international
force's mandate does not include confiscating arms.
Meanwhile, President Sali Berisha says that the June elections
may not go ahead after all, the Vienna daily Die Presse reports.
"We have set the election date for June. But at the moment
there is no real progress because the [rebel] committees are
still functioning," Berisha told the newspaper.

ALBANIA LIFTS PRESS CURBS. The Albanian parliament
voted yesterday to end press restrictions. The emergency all-
party government imposed the press curbs on 2 March at the
height of the armed anarchy. The restrictions require
government-appointed committees to censor articles before
publication. The dailies of three main political parties are the
only papers still publishing, after fire destroyed the offices of
the main independent daily, Koha Jone.

UN NOT TO CUT MACEDONIAN FORCE. The Security
Council voted unanimously in New York yesterday to suspend
the planned reduction in its peacekeeping force in Macedonia.
The decision comes in response to unrest in neighboring
Albania. The council acted on  Secretary-General Kofi Annan's
recommendation that it revoke last November's decision to
reduce the size of the UN Preventive Deployment Force in
Macedonia (UNPREDEP) while extending the force's mandate
until 31 May. The 1,050 peacekeepers include some 500 U.S.
troops. UNPREDEP's main mission is to prevent conflicts
elsewhere in the former Yugoslavia from spilling over into
Macedonia.

KOSOVO TALKS END IN NEW YORK. Inter-communal talks
in New York aimed at easing tensions in Kosovo ended
yesterday without significant agreement. But participants
described the discussions as a solid first step toward resolving
the decade-old crisis. They also agreed to meet regularly,
although they did not set a date for the next round of talks. In
a final statement, Serbs and ethnic Albanians said any future
agreement must be based on principles of democratization,
mutual respect, respect for human rights, and promotion of
regional stability. Albanians, who make up 90% of Kosovo's
population, seek independence for the region, while Serbs
insist it must remain part of Serbia.

SLAVONIAN SERBS URGED TO VOTE. Serbian leaders in
eastern Slavonia said in Vukovar yesterday that local Serbs
should go to the polls on 13 April to elect representatives, an
RFE/RL's correspondent in Osijek reported. Earlier, the
Serbian leaders met with UN administrator Jacques Klein, who
once again urged them to take part in the elections. Eastern
Slavonia is the last Serb-held part of Croatia. The 13 April
ballot is seen as a key step in the UN-administered region's
return to Croatia. The local Serbian leadership had delayed a
final decision on participating in the polls in the hope of
winning more concessions from the UN and the Croatian
authorities.

SCANDINAVIA ENCOURAGES BOSNIANS TO GO HOME.
Norway is offering two-year residency permits to its 12,000
Bosnian refugees if they now agree to go home, an RFE/RL
correspondent in Copenhagen reported yesterday. Denmark
will give its 16,000 Bosnians $2,500 each if they leave and,
beginning 1 May, Sweden will raise departure payments to its
60,000 Bosnians from $300 per individual to $3,000 per adult
and $2,000 per minor. The Sueddeutsche Zeitung yesterday
quotes Swedish Development Minister Pierre Schori as saying
his government is not trying to encourage the Bosnians to
leave but rather make things easier for them if they want to go.
Most Bosnians in Denmark and Sweden have permanent
residency status and show little interest in going home.

ROMANIA, IMF SIGN LETTER OF INTENT. Finance Minister
Mircea Ciumara, National Bank Governor Mugur Isarescu, and
chief IMF negotiator for Romania Poul Thomsen yesterday
signed a letter of intent for an IMF loan. RFE/RL's Bucharest
bureau reported that the agreement, which provides for a $400
million loan to support reforms, is to be approved by the IMF's
board later this month. Prime Minister Victor Ciorbea said the
World Bank is also expected to approve a $600 million loan on
22 April. He added that Bucharest anticipates funds this year
from the EU and donor countries totaling some $1 billion.
Most of those funds will be channeled to the social welfare
system, restructuring industry and agriculture, road
construction and repairs, and environmental protection.
Meanwhile, Citibank has announced it will grant credits worth
$157 million to help the state-owned RAIF agricultural
company purchase U.S.-made agricultural machines.

ROMANIAN EXTREMIST PARTIES CONCLUDE POLITICAL
PACT.  The Greater Romania Party (PRM) and the
extraparliamentary Socialist Labor Party (PSM) have formed a
political alliance, RFE/RL's Bucharest bureau reported
yesterday. The PRM will represent PSM standpoints in the
parliament. The agreement also provides for joint candidates
in local by-elections scheduled for next month. PRM chairman
Corneliu Vadim Tudor said that given the current political
situation, the alliance's doctrine "is neither of the left nor of
the right, but Romanian." The PSM failed to win representation
in the legislature last autumn.

IMF DISSATISFIED WITH MOLDOVA'S ECONOMIC
PERFORMANCE. The IMF says that Moldova's economic
performance is "unsatisfactory" and that it will not release the
remaining installments of a May 1996 loan worth a total of
$195 million, the Romanian independent news agency
Mediafax reported yesterday. Only two installments worth
$16.25 million each have so far been released. An IMF
delegation is to visit Chisinau later this month to discuss
measures needed to improve the Moldovan economy. A recent
IMF statement says the Moldovan government has not yet
implemented measures agreed on early last year.

OSCE MISSION IN TRANSDNIESTER STILL FACES
PROBLEMS. Infotag reported yesterday that another car
transporting OSCE mission members was stopped by Tiraspol
law enforcement officials  on the outskirts of Bendery-Tighina.
This was the third such incident in three weeks preventing the
OSCE from participating in a meeting of the Joint Control
Commission, which is overseeing the truce in Moldova's
Transdniester breakaway region. Tiraspol began last month
voicing objections to the OSCE's participation in the
commission meetings, claiming the agreement on the
commission, which expired in early February, must be
renewed. Besides the OSCE officials, the members of the
commission are representatives of Moldova, Russia, and
Tiraspol.

G-24 ENDORSES BULGARIAN STABILIZATION PROGRAM.
The G-24 group of donor nations and organizations has agreed
to grant loans and credits to cover Bulgaria's external
financing obligations for 1997-98. RFE/RL's Washington
bureau that the group said in Brussels yesterday that
Bulgaria's caretaker government has shown "strong
commitment to implementing a bold macroeconomic
stabilization and structural reform despite exceptionally
difficult circumstances." The IMF is expected to approve
tomorrow a new stand-by loan of some $659 million. In
addition, Bulgaria will be allowed to draw about $29 million
from a special facility the fund maintains for countries
experiencing a temporary export shortfall or a sudden increase
in cereal imports.

LEADING BULGARIAN BANKERS ARRESTED. The Interior
Ministry yesterday announced the arrest of three top bankers
for allegedly granting bad loans totaling some 100,000 million
leva ($65 million). An RFE/RL correspondent in Sofia reported
that three more bankers have been put under police
surveillance and made to post bail.  One of those under
surveillance is former deputy director of the National Bank
Emil Harsev, who is known to oppose IMF involvement in the
country. Harsev told RFE/RL's Bulgarian service that the
prosecutor's decision was a politically motivated move before
the 19 April elections. He rejected any accusations of
mismanagement. All six bankers were on the board of
directors of Mineral Bank, which declared bankruptcy last
year.

POLAND TO VOTE ON NEW CONSTITUTION

by Jan B. de Weydenthal

        Poland, the first Central European country to end
communist domination in 1989, is the last to adopt a charter
institutionalizing the political and economic changes since
then. On 25 May, Poles are to cast their votes in a national
referendum on the long-awaited new constitution. Until now,
the country has used as its constitution a communist-era
document enacted at the height of Stalinist rule in 1952,
although that document has been frequently amended in
recent years.
        Early efforts to prepare a new constitution repeatedly
failed owing to recurrent political crises. Finally, after more
than three years of protracted debates in the parliament and
animated public discussions in the media, Poland's National
Assembl--composed of both parliamentary chamber--last
month overwhelmingly approved a draft of the basic law. The
vote was 461 to 31, with five abstentions.
        Before becoming law, the constitution has to be signed by
the president, who has the right to suggest modifications. The
assembly then discusses his suggestions, and the final
document is put to a national referendum.
        The debate on President Aleksander Kwasniewski's
suggested changes was brief. His proposals were largely minor,
merely confirming his right to several appointments in the
military and the judiciary. Following the debate, the date for
the referendum was set by Kwasniewski.
        The draft is a compromise between the individual
parliamentary groups. But it also includes the views of parties
and organizations not represented in the parliament, most
notably the Catholic Church. The draft's preamble invokes
God as the "source of truth, justice, goodness, and beauty,"
but it also says that non-believers can draw those universal
values from other sources. The demand, made by the Church
and right-wing politicians, that the charter recognize God-
given or "natural" law as higher than any man-made law was
rejected.
        The draft protects human life, but not from conception to
natural death, as was demanded by the Church. Rather, it
leaves the issue open to interpretation. At the same time,
accepting the Church's views, the draft outlaws homosexual
marriages and provides guarantees for religious instruction in
schools. The Church itself is granted autonomy from the state.
        The draft says that democracy returned to Poland in
1989, after a long period in which the former communist
regime violated "fundamental freedoms and human rights."
It also enshrines market economy as the basis of the country's
political and economic systems but emphasizes the need to
respect social needs through cooperation and dialogue
between individual groups. It clearly defines relations between
the parliament, the president, and the government, eliminating
ambiguities that have repeatedly caused political conflicts
within the institutional establishment. It also provides for the
independent judicial review of laws.
        The draft was approved by the ruling coalition of post-
communist and left-wing peasants but also by the opposition
democratic left and centrist groups. It was opposed by some
right-wing opposition deputies.
        Commenting on the draft, Tadeusz Mazowiecki, a former
centrist prime minister and one of the principal authors of the
preamble, said the proposed charter is "perhaps not ideal, but
not bad." He also said that the intention of the draft was "to
unite rather than divide" Poles.  Poland's Catholic Primate
Jozef Cardinal Glemp said that "many people accept this
compromise constitution, regarding it as historically
important."
        The draft has been strongly criticized by several right-
wing politicians. Piotr Zak, spokesman for the Solidarity-led
coalition of rightist groups, said that the proposed charter was
"imposed on the nation by left-wing parties." Solidarity has
drafted its own version of the basic law, which is rooted in
religious principles and replete with anti-communist
arguments. It demanded that its version be put to the
referendum as well but failed to win parliamentary and
presidential approval.

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