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RFE/RL NEWSLINE

Vol. 1, No. 11, Part II, 15 April 1997


Vol. 1, No. 11, Part II, 15 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

* RATIFICATION OF CFE "FLANK LIMITATIONS" AGREEMENT UNDER
THREAT

* OSCE MISSION ARRIVES IN BELARUS

* ALBANIAN PRESIDENT TIGHTENS GRIP ON PARTY
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EAST-CENTRAL EUROPE

RATIFICATION OF CFE "FLANK LIMITATIONS"
AGREEMENT UNDER THREAT. Ukraine, Moldova, and
Azerbaijan intend to block ratification of the May 1996
agreement allowing Russia to temporarily exceed limitations
on the armaments it can deploy on its north- and south-
western borders under the 1990 CFE Treaty, AFP reported
yesterday, quoting unnamed diplomats in Vienna. The three
countries  argue that the 1996 agreement gives Russia carte
blanche to deploy troops  on their territories as well as in
Kazakstan, Armenia, and Georgia.  Georgia has expressed its
support for that argument.  One Armenian commentator
recently wrote in Nezavisimaya gazeta that Azerbaijan has
violated the so-called CFE "flank limitations" by deploying in
Nakhichevan more than 500 East German tanks supplied by
Turkey.

FRANCE WANTS SECURITY PARTNERSHIP WITH NATO
CANDIDATES. A spokeswoman for President Jacques Chirac
said yesterday that France wants to build a security
partnership with NATO candidate countries not invited to join
the alliance in the first round of eastward expansion. The
statement came after talks between Chirac and Latvian
President Guntis Ulmanis in Paris. The spokeswoman said
Chirac wants the partnership to take the form of a charter
between NATO and Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Finland, and
Sweden. France has tried to have Romania included in the
first group of nations but has encountered resistance from
other NATO members. Poland, Hungary, and the Czech
Republic are expected to be offered the first bids for
membership at the NATO summit in Madrid this summer.

OSCE MISSION ARRIVES IN BELARUS. An OSCE mission
arrives in Belarus today for talks with government and
opposition leaders about the political and human rights
situation there.  An OSCE spokesman in Vienna told RFE/RL
yesterday that the delegation will remain until the end of the
week. He said the Belarusian authorities have promised the
mission "full access" to whomever they wish to meet. The
delegation is led by Danish diplomat Rudolf Thorning-
Petersen. The OSCE wanted to send a mission to Belarus last
month, but the trip was canceled when it became clear the
mission would be prevented from meeting with opposition
members.

RUSSIAN PREMIER REJECTS CHARGE BY BELARUSIAN
PRESIDENT. Viktor Chernomyrdin has rejected a charge by
Alyaksandr Lukashenka that someone in the Russian
government is accepting orders from the West. Chernomyrdin
yesterday called for "common sense" in relations between the
two states, which two weeks ago signed a union accord. "I am
somewhat bewildered by President Lukashenka's
announcement that there is someone in the Russian
leadership 'who is fulfilling orders from his overseas masters'
to destroy Russian-Belarusian relations," Interfax quoted
Chernomyrdin as saying. Some Russian government members
who are concerned about Lukashenko's authoritarian
tendencies reportedly helped water down the union accord.

BELARUS APOLOGIZES FOR LITHUANIAN BORDER
INCIDENT. The Belarusian embassy in Vilnius has apologized
for the accidental border crossing by two of its military
vehicles during maneuvers. The incident occurred on 11 April
during a Belarusian military exercise in the border region of
Hozha. Two vehicles apparently lost their way and crossed over
into Lithuanian territory. The 700-km long border between the
two countries is not clearly demarcated in many places. The
Lithuanian Foreign Ministry has expressed concern over what
it called the "gross violation" of its border and says it hope
Belarus will abide by an agreement to speed up work on the
demarcation of the frontier, BNS reported on 14 April.

PROBLEMS AT UKRAINIAN NUCLEAR PLANT FIXED.
Operators at the Zaporizhska power plant, one of the largest in
Europe, have restarted a reactor shut down yesterday because
of a malfunctioning control rod. A  plant spokeswoman told
journalists that one of the 61 rods regulating chain reactions
in the reactor core was descending into the core more slowly
than regulations permit. She said operators fixed the
malfunction by repeatedly dropping the rod down and pulling
it back until it was moving at normal speed.  Zaporizhska's
output has decreased owing to recent minor incidents that
forced five reactor to shut down. Officials say none of the
problems has posed any danger within or outside the plant.

EBRD TO INVEST IN POLAND'S SHIPYARDS. Allan Pillaux,
who oversees Polish affairs at the European Bank for
Reconstruction and Development, says the EBRD will invest in
the Polish shipyard industry, RFE/RL's Warsaw correspondent
reported. Pillaux was speaking after an EBRD meeting in
London yesterday, which was attended by Polish Deputy Prime
Minister Marek Belka and Polish National Bank President
Hanna Gronkiewicz-Waltz. Former Prime Minister Jan
Krzysztof Bielecki, who is Poland's representative at the EBRD,
told journalists that Polish contracts with the bank will total
$100 million.

CZECH FOREIGN MINISTER MEETS WITH ALBRIGHT.
During her meeting with Jozef Zieleniec yesterday in
Washington, U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright
pledged equality for all new members in an enlarged NATO.
Albright told journalists later that "there is no such thing as
second-class membership" and that no deals will be struck
with Moscow behind the backs of candidate countries.
Zieleniec said only full membership in NATO is acceptable to
Prague but added he does not believe NATO is negotiating any
secret deals with Moscow. A spokesman for the Czech embassy
in Washington told RFE/RL  that Albright assured Zieleniec
that NATO expansion will go ahead regardless of whether
Russia agrees.

CZECH PRIME MINISTER IN BRUSSELS TO DISCUSS NATO
MEMBERSHIP. NATO Secretary-General Javier Solana told
Vaclav Klaus yesterday in Brussels that the Czech Republic
should engage in a more active dialogue with Russia. Klaus
said at a press conference later that the NATO leadership does
not want candidate countries to think that the alliance's talks
with Russia are taking place without those countries'
participation.  Addressing the NATO Council, Klaus warned
that the deepening of relations between NATO and Russia
should not be allowed to "damage the position of new
members."

COUNCIL OF EUROPE SECRETARY-GENERAL ON SLOVAK
LANGUAGE LAW. Daniel Tarschys says Slovakia should adopt
a bill on the language rights of ethnic minorities. Slovak media
reported. Tarchys, who is on a three-day visit to Slovakia, met
with Slovak Prime Minister Vladimir Meciar and other top
officials in Bratislava yesterday. He praised cooperation
between the Council of Europe and Slovak officials, especially
in amending legislation to conform to European standards.
Foreign Minister Pavol Hamzik said the government is not
opposed in principle to an ethnic-language law. In other news,
Slovak President Michal Kovac has announced that Alexandr
Rezes is to be replaced by Jan Jasovsky, director-general of
the Slovak Post Service, as transportation minister. Rezes has
suffered from serious health problems in recent months.

HUNGARIAN JUNIOR COALITION PARTY LEADER
RESIGNS. Ivan Peto resigned yesterday as chairman of the
Alliance of Free Democrats and leader of the party's faction,
Hungarian media reported. He said he was stepping down
because of the need to "renew" the party before next year's
elections. Peto denied any connection between his resignation
and the "Marta Tocsik affair." Tocsik is an independent
consultant who received fees totaling some $5 million for her
services to the State Privatization and Holding Agency. Those
funds are believed to have reached businessmen close to the
Free Democrats. Peto is replaced as party chairman by Interior
Minister Gabor Kuncze until a special congress next month
elects his successor.

UPDATE ON  ROW OVER HUNGARIAN HEALTH INSURANCE
FUND. Agnes Cser, director-general of the Health Insurance
Fund, remains in her post for the time being, following a
"stormy" meeting of the Health Insurance Authority board
Hungarian media reported yesterday. Peter Simsa, head of the
board, has accused Cser of causing billions of forints in losses
((see RFE/RL Newsline, 14 April 1997). No-confidence motions
against both Simsa and the board as a whole were voted down,
while Welfare Minister Mihaly Kokeny told the gathering that
the report accusing Cser was "inadequately prepared" and
"one-sided."

SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE

OPERATION ALBA GETS UNDERWAY.  The deployment of an
Italian-led multinational force in Albania began today at dawn.
A French naval ship arrived in the western port city of Durres,
and its marine commandos secured the port. More troops and
a shipment of 400 tons of food aid are also due today in
Durres. Meanwhile, the first of six Italian military aircraft
carrying paratroopers has landed at Tirana's airport. An
advance unit of about 100 Italian troops arrived in Albania on
Friday. The total force will number about 6,000 and will seek
to secure aid deliveries.

ALBANIAN PRESIDENT TIGHTENS GRIP ON PARTY. At a
meeting of the National Council of President Sali Berisha's
Democratic Party late Sunday, the majority firmly rebuffed 13
dissidents who had challenged his control over the party. The
council also sacked three leading dissidents from the party
presidency: former Finance Minister Dylber Vrioni and former
Deputy Prime Ministers Dashamir Shehi and Bashkim
Kopliku. Berisha's position was further strengthened by the
naming of  his closest aide, Genc Pollo, as secretary-general of
the party.

ALBANIAN SOCIALIST LEADER BACKS INTERVENTION
FORCE. Fatos Nano says the Italian-led mission is necessary
to stabilize Albania. Nano was speaking to RFE/RL's Russian
Service by telephone yesterday. He said the multinational force
has his full backing and that political trends in the country are
moving against President Sali Berisha, whom he blames for
much of the current crisis. Nano was prime minister in one of
the post-communist transition governments in 1991 but until
recently was imprisoned for embezzlement. His backers and
many foreign human rights organizations say the charges
against him were politically motivated.

TUDJMAN'S PARTY STILL STRONGEST IN CROATIA.
Unofficial results of Croatia's local and parliamentary elections
on 13 April show voters endorsed the status quo, with the
largest group backing the nationalist Croatian Democratic
Community (HDZ) of President Franjo Tudjman. The unofficial
results, obtained by an RFE/RL correspondent in Zagreb,
show the HDZ has increased its majority in the upper house of
parliament. They also show that Tudjman's party has a slight
lead in elections for the crucial Zagreb City Council,
controlling 24 out of 50 seats. The opposition has won other
key cities, such as Rijeka, Osijek, Split, and Dubrovnik.

VOTING ENDS IN EASTERN SLAVONIA. UN spokesmen, U.S.
Ambassador to Croatia Peter Galbraith, and local Serb leader
Vojislav Stanimirovic all said in Vukovar on Monday that the
vote in eastern Slavonia was largely free and fair. UN officials
nonetheless blasted Croatian authorities for not delivering
enough ballot papers and for irregularities in the voting lists.
Polls closed early yesterday evening after a second day of
voting in Croatia's last Serb-held area. First results in the vote
for local and county offices are due later today. The Serbs put
forward a united slate, but the Croatian vote is likely to be
split between several parties.

SERBIAN OPPOSITION LEADERS SAY THEY ARE UNITED.
Vuk Draskovic, Zoran Djindjic, and Vesna Pesic of the
Zajedno  coalition say the "crisis of confidence" is now behind
them and that they will stick to cooperation agreements they
signed earlier, an RFE/RL correspondent reported from
Belgrade. The three leaders met yesterday in the Serbian
capital to discuss their differences, which recently became
public. Djindjic had objected to Draskovic's decision to run as
a joint presidential candidate in the Serbian parliamentary
and presidential elections due by the end of the year.

MONTENEGRIN PRESIDENT BLASTS SECRET SERVICE.
Speaking in Podgorica yesterday, Momir Bulatovic attacked
the State Security Service (SDB) and called for an urgent
session of the parliament to look into what he called its
"violations of human rights and citizens' freedoms." An
RFE/RL correspondent in Podgorica says this is the latest
episode in the dispute between Bulatovic and some members
of his party and of the government over ties to President
Slobodan Milosevic. Bulatovic recently tried unsuccessfully to
sack three ministers, including SDB chief Vukasin Maras.

ROMANIAN SENATE APPROVES BANK PRIVATIZATION
BILL. The Senate yesterday approved the bill on the
privatization of banks, an RFE/RL correspondent in Bucharest
reported. The bill, which will now be debated by the Chamber
of Deputies, frees three-quarters of the banking system from
state control. Ninety percent of the shares of each bank to be
privatized will be offered for sale to Romanian or foreign
investors, and the remaining 10% will be retained by the State
Property Fund. Only leading international banks and financial
institutions will be allowed to acquire more than 20% of the
shares in a single bank. The bank privatization bill is one of
the major pieces of legislation stipulated by the IMF and the
World Bank as a condition for loans.

ROMANIAN PRESIDENT MEETS WITH OPPOSITION
LEADERS. At his own request, Emil Constantinescu yesterday
met with parliamentary opposition leaders to discuss laws
aimed at promoting economic reforms and ways to prevent
social unrest after the passage of the legislation, RFE/RL's
Bucharest bureau reported. At the meeting, the opposition
protested what it called the government's  "political cleansing"
policies in the public economic sector. Neither Ion Iliescu,
former president and leader of the Party of Social Democracy
in Romania, nor Corneliu Vadim Tudor, leader of the Greater
Romania Party (PRM), attended the meeting, opting instead to
send their deputies. Iliescu said he will participate in such
discussions only if his party is invited to a separate meeting
with Constantinescu or if all parliamentary parties are
present. Tudor, a former Ceausescu "court poet," is currently
in Libya attending a poetry festival.

BULGARIAN STATE OIL REFINERY TO BE PRIVATIZED.
The Bulgarian caretaker government yesterday approved a
Privatization Agency proposal to sell up to 75% of the
Neftochim oil refinery, located in the Black Sea port city of
Burgas. RFE/RL's correspondent in Sofia reported that the
only known bidder for the state-owned refinery to date is the
Russian company Rossinvestneft. Neftochim's assets are
estimated to be worth more than $9 million, but the company
has debts totaling nearly $6 million. Meanwhile, caretaker
premier Stefan Sofiyanski has left for Moscow to resume talks
on the construction of transit pipelines on Bulgarian territory
and Russian gas supplies to Bulgaria (see RFE/RL Newsline, 9
and 11 April 1997).

BULGARIAN ELECTION UPDATE. Ahmed Dogan, leader of
the ethnic Turkish Movement for Rights and Freedoms (DPS),
yesterday  canceled an election rally in the DPS stronghold of
Kardzhali. The move was in protest against police raids the
same day on properties belonging to Elzhan Rashid, one of the
country's wealthiest ethnic Turk businessmen, RFE/RL's local
corespondent reported.  Police seized firearms, counterfeit
foreign currency, and a substance believed to be heroin.
Rashid himself was beaten after he put up resistance. Dogan
denounced the police action as a "provocation against  ethnic
peace" aimed at discrediting ethnic Turk businessmen on the
eve of the 19 April parliamentary elections.  Dogan said many
corrupt businessmen in Kardzhali were protected by groups
close to the United Democratic Forces and the Socialists.

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               Copyright (c) 1997 RFE/RL, Inc.
                     All rights reserved.
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