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RFE/RL NEWSLINE

Vol. 1, No. 12, Part II, 16 April 1997


Vol. 1, No. 12, Part II, 16 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

* BELARUS REJECTS EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT CRITICISM

* SLOVAKIA TAKES ISSUE WITH U.S. CRITICISM

* ALBANIAN PREMIER WELCOMES FOREIGN TROOPS

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EAST-CENTRAL EUROPE

BELARUS REJECTS EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT CRITICISM.
The Belarusian Foreign Ministry says a European Parliament
resolution criticizing the union agreement between Moscow
and Minsk is unjustified, ITAR-TASS reported yesterday. Last
week, the European Parliament passed a resolution saying it
would not recognize the agreement until the Belarusian
legislature has been consulted and warning that it will block a
planned trade and aid pact between the EU and Belarus
unless Minsk undertakes genuine political and economic
reform. The ministry said the resolution proved that the
European Parliament does not understand the ongoing
development of Belarusian-Russian ties.

NEW INFORMATION ON BELARUSIAN DELEGATION'S TRIP
TO NATO. Details of a Belarusian delegation's visit to NATO
headquarters last week are just becoming available, RFE/RL's
Brussels correspondent reports. The delegation was headed by
Ural Latypof, a top adviser to President Alyaksandr
Lukashenka, who stressed Minsk's desire for closer
Belarusian-NATO cooperation. Latypof said Minsk would soon
be submitting ideas for its participation in the Partnership for
Peace program. Belarus has applied to join that program but
has not yet met membership requirements by submitting its
participation proposals.

BELARUSIAN PRESIDENT ON RELATIONS WITH UKRAINE.
Alyaksandr Lukashenka says there are almost no problems in
Belarusian-Ukrainian relations, ITAR-TASS reported.
Lukashenka was speaking in Minsk yesterday at talks with
Ukrainian Foreign Minister Hennady Udovenko. Udovenko told
Lukashenka that relations with Belarus are a high priority for
Kyiv, noting that a recent meeting between Lukashenka and
Ukrainian President Leonid Kuchma has boosted bilateral ties.
According to RFE/RL's correspondent in Minsk, Udovenko
reiterated the Ukrainian government's position that a Russian-
Belarusian union will destroy the CIS. Today, Udovenko and
his Belarusian counterpart, Ivan Antanovich, initialed a treaty
defining the countries' common border.

ISRAEL'S SHARANSKY MEETS WITH UKRAINIAN
PRESIDENT. Israeli Trade Minister Natan Sharansky says
Ukrainian President Leonid Kuchma has assured him that
Kyiv will not help Russia build a nuclear reactor in Iran.
Sharansky told reporters in the Ukrainian capital yesterday
that Israel has received "clear assurances" that Ukraine will
not supply Moscow with any parts needed to build the nuclear
power plant near the Iranian city of Bushehr, which Russia is
helping Tehran construct. Sharansky also said Ukraine agreed
that it will never supply Iraq, Iran, or Libya with parts needed
to build nuclear weapons. Today, Sharansky, a former Soviet
political prisoner and native of Ukraine, is due to meet with
members of the Ukrainian Jewish community and visit Babi
Yar, site of the Nazi massacre of some 34,000 Jews in 1941.

EU OFFICIAL URGES LEGISLATIVE CHANGES IN ESTONIA.
EU Commissioner for Central and Eastern Europe Hans van
den Broek said yesterday that Estonia needs to speed up
legislative changes before it can be considered for EU
membership. Van den Broek, who was in Tallinn on a two-day
visit, noted that Estonia lags behind other former communist
countries in adopting European single market legislation and
suggested that an ombudsman be appointed to handle
minority and non-citizen complaints. He also criticized Russia
for trying to link minority rights to the conclusion of a border
treaty. Meanwhile, a Russian Foreign Ministry spokesman said
yesterday in Moscow that negotiations on the treaty are
"complicated" by the Estonian stand, ITAR-TASS reported.
Estonia considers the text drawn up last fall to be final, while
Moscow insists it has the right to make amendments to the
document before signing it.

GERMAN CHANCELLOR PRAISES BUSINESS TIES WITH
LITHUANIA. During his meeting with Lithuanian
parliamentary chairman Vytautas Landsbergis in Bonn
yesterday, Helmut Kohl praised growing German-Lithuanian
business ties and pledged support for closer links between
Vilnius and the EU and NATO, dpa reported. In particular,
Kohl stressed the close dialogue between the two countries
and positive developments in bilateral trade.  Last year,
German exports to Lithuania totaled 1.1 billion German marks
($636 million), while imports from Lithuania were valued at
739 million marks, according to German government figures.
Germany is Lithuania's second major trading partner after
Russia.

POLISH PRIME MINISTER SIGNS DECLARATION ON
CONCORDAT. Wlodzimierz Cimoszewicz yesterday signed a
government declaration clearing up controversial issues that
have postponed Poland's ratification of the 1993 Concordat
with the Vatican, RFE/RL's Warsaw correspondent reported.
Cimoszewicz expressed satisfaction that following months-long
negotiations with the Vatican, agreement has now been
reached on the contents of the declaration. The document says
that Catholic Church will not refuse burial in Catholic
cemeteries to non-believers or people of other denominations.
It also states that civil and religious marriages will have the
same legal status and that priests providing voluntary
religious education in state schools will be treated and paid
like other teachers. Pope John Paul II is due to visit Poland
from 31 May to 10 June.

CZECH PRESIDENT, PREMIER MEET WITH EUROPEAN
COMMISSION PRESIDENT. Vaclav Havel met with European
Commission President Jacques Santer in Brussels yesterday to
discuss Czech efforts to join an expanded NATO and EU. Havel
told CTK after the meeting that the Czech Republic has always
belonged to Europe as far as  history and culture are
concerned. He said the question now is joining European
organizations and cultivating a European political culture.
Earlier the same day, Czech Prime Minister Vaclav Klaus met
with Santer, who told journalists later that the Czech Republic
is well prepared for EU enlargement. In a meeting with Klaus
following his two-week vacation in Italy, Havel expressed
support for the package of economic measures that the
government will unveil today in an effort to stem negative
economic trends. Havel called on the opposition to support
those measures.

SLOVAKIA TAKES ISSUE WITH U.S. CRITICISM. Slovak
Foreign Ministry spokesman Ivan Korcok says Slovakia has
officially asked the U.S. State Department to explain
spokesman Nicholas Burns' recent statements on Slovakia,
Slovak TV reported yesterday. Following his talks with Czech
Foreign Minister Josef Zieleniec in Washington on 14 April,
Burns told journalists that the Czech Republic's policies of
opening its economy and striving for close economic and
political cooperation with the EU are correct but that
Washington is disappointed that similar changes have not
taken place in Slovakia. Korcok said the Foreign Ministry was
surprised at Burns' statements. He remarked that  Slovakia is
a pluralistic, parliamentary democracy, which, he said, should
be the main criterion for assessing political reform.

OSCE HIGH COMMISSIONER ON MINORITIES IN
SLOVAKIA. Slovak President Michal Kovac has told Max van
der Stoel, who is in Slovakia, that "things have not much
improved" since his last trip to Slovakia half a year ago. The
president's spokesman told journalists today in Bratislava that
the two men discussed the lack of a law on ethnic minority
languages in Slovakia, the abolition of bilingual school reports,
and the recent Education Ministry decree that some subjects
be taught only by ethnic Slovaks. Van der Stoel said the decree
violated the spirit of the Slovak Constitution. He also said
Slovakia's ethnic Hungarians have convinced him that they
have no separatist aspirations.

PENAL CODE DEBATE BEGINS IN HUNGARY. The
parliament yesterday began debating proposed amendments to
the penal code, the Hungarian media reported. Justice
Ministry State Secretary Dezsoe Avarkeszi said the four-fold
increase in crime since the beginning of the 1990s justifies
comprehensive changes to the code. Under the proposed
amendments, those sentenced to life imprisonment would not
be eligible for parole until they have served between 20 and 30
years, as opposed to 15-20 years stipulated in the current
code. Those found guilty of tax fraud could receive prison
sentences of between two and eight years. Harsher sentences
for child pornography and sexual abuse are also included.
Setting up an organization for the purposes of criminal activity
would also be punishable.

SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE

ALBANIAN PREMIER WELCOMES FOREIGN TROOPS.
Bashkim Fino said yesterday in Tirana that the arrival of
multinational troops will help restore peace and order after
months of violence. In particular, he thanked Italy, which is
leading the force of 6,000 troops from eight countries. The first
1,200 troops from Italy, France, and Spain began arriving
yesterday by air and sea. Fino also thanked the UN, the EU,
the U.S., and the OSCE for backing the mission. The OSCE's
chief envoy in the crisis, former Austrian Chancellor Franz
Vranitzky, arrives in Tirana today for two days of talks.
Meanwhile, Turkish Defense Minister Turhan Tayan said in
Ankara yesterday that more than 500 Turkish marines will
leave next week to join the force. The Turks' main task will be
to secure Tirana airport. Greece is to send 760 soldiers to
Albania today.

ALBANIA'S LEKA TO BACK KOSOVAR INDEPENDENCE. The
new Kosovar independent daily Koha Ditore yesterday quoted
Leka, pretender to the Albanian throne, as saying he would
back independence for Kosovo if the people there wanted it. He
argued that the monarchy could be a "useful unifying force for
our brothers and sisters living outside Albania." He stressed,
however, that unity must be achieved by peaceful means. Leka
added that he would like to visit Kosovo "if the Serbian
authorities have no objections." The current Albanian
government works closely with its Western allies on minority
issues and does not encourage irredentism.

TUDJMAN'S PARTY CLAIMS WIN IN CROATIAN
ELECTIONS. According to unofficial returns, the governing
Croatian Democratic Community (HDZ) won 41 of the 63
upper house seats contested in the 13 April elections. The
party had 37 seats in the outgoing legislature, an RFE/RL
correspondent reported from Zagreb yesterday. The HDZ
announced that it expects to govern the capital city, where the
opposition has had a majority in the municipal council since
October 1995. The HDZ looks set to win 24 of the 50 council
seats and is seeking at least two more votes among the
fragmented opposition. President Franjo Tudjman vetoed the
old  council's four attempts to elect a mayor, saying he cannot
entrust Zagreb to "enemies of the state."

UN OFFICIAL PLEASED WITH SLAVONIAN VOTE. Jacques
Klein, chief UN administrator in Serb-held eastern Slavonia,
said in Vukovar yesterday that 85% of the local Serbs cast
their ballots on 13-14 April. He added that the high turnout
shows their commitment to the future and to democracy.
Yesterday, voting in some places continued for an
unscheduled third day. Results will not be announced until
the authorities have counted the  absentee ballots from some
70,000 Croat refugees living outside the region. Eastern
Slavonia reverts to Croatian control in July.

BOSNIA'S IZETBEGOVIC VOWS TO HOUND WAR
CRIMINALS. Alija Izetbegovic, the Muslim member of the joint
Bosnian presidency, said at a military parade in Sarajevo
yesterday that he will do everything in his power to pursue war
criminals. "We cannot and will not forgive them. We will chase
them to the end of the world," he pledged. Momcilo Krajisnik,
Serbian member of the presidency, said after meeting with
Pope John Paul II on 13 April  that Bosnia needs calm and
that insistence on catching war criminals could lead to a new
war,  Nasa Borba reported on 14 April. The Hague-based war
crimes tribunal says the trials are necessary to identify guilty
individuals lest victims blame entire peoples for the crimes.

BOSNIA GETS NEW CURRENCY. U.S. and Bosnian officials
announced in Sarajevo yesterday that the three Bosnian sides
have agreed to set up a central bank and a common currency,
an RFE/RL correspondent in the Bosnian capital reported. The
new unit will be called the convertible mark and will be pegged
to the German mark on a one-to-one basis and backed by hard
currency reserves. Bank notes printed in the Croatian-Muslim
federation and in the Republika Srpska will have different
designs, but all bank notes will be devoid of nationalist
symbols and valid throughout Bosnia. The Dayton peace
agreement and foreign investors regard the common bank and
currency as crucial.

MONTENEGRO'S PARLIAMENTARY SPEAKER SLAMS
PRESIDENT. Svetozar Marovic yesterday blasted President
Momir Bulatovic's call for a special session of the parliament
to investigate the State Security Service (SDB). Marovic said
that only the speaker can determine the parliament's agenda
and that routine checks have uncovered no wrongdoing by the
SDB. AFP reported yesterday that the SDB has been working
against agents of Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic sent
into Montenegro from Belgrade. Nasa Borba reports today that
Bulatovic made clear at a meeting of the governing Democratic
Socialist Party that he wants to fire Marovic and Prime
Minister Milo Djukanovic.

ROMANIAN FOREIGN MINISTER ON NATO BID. Adrian
Severin says that if Bucharest is left off the short-list of new
NATO members, the alliance would be robbed of the chance to
bolster its southern flank. In an interview with Reuters before
his departure for Italy and the U.S., Severin said that a "logical
enlargement would include the strengthening of NATO's most
vulnerable flank, and that is not the nordic, but the southern
one." He pointed out that in the south, there are numerous
threats posed by terrorism, illegal immigration, and drugs and
arms trade. He also offered to forge special ties with Poland to
safeguard NATO's interests in the Baltic and Black Seas and to
help Ukraine integrate with Europe. Meanwhile, the Foreign
Ministry has launched a "White Book" on Romania's bid for
NATO membership.  RFE/RL's Bucharest bureau reports that
the book says Romania is capable of making its own
contribution to the alliance.

ROMANIAN GOVERNMENT TO SUPERVISE PRIVATIZATION
DIRECTLY. The government yesterday announced it will
directly supervise the State Property Fund (FPS), which
oversees the privatization process, RFE/RL's Bucharest
bureau reported. Until now, the FPS has been supervised by
the parliament. Prime Minister Victor Ciorbea said the decision
was taken after an FPS spokesman had denied that a list of 10
state companies singled out by the executive either for
liquidation or privatization was final (see RFE/RL Newsline, 14
April 1997). The spokesman has since been dismissed.

MOLDOVAN OPPOSITION PARTY ATTACKS AGREEMENT
WITH TIRASPOL. The Party of Revival and Accord (PRAM)
yesterday denounced the 10 April agreement between
Chisinau, Moscow, and Tiraspol to amend the memorandum
on normalizing Moldovan-Transdniestrian relations, Infotag
reported. The PRAM said that President Petru Lucinschi's
"policy of concessions" contravenes constitutional norms and
that the compromise term "united state" in the agreement
contravenes the constitutional provision stipulating that
Moldova is a "unitary state." Deputy Eugen Rusu argued that
"united state" may mean several things, including "federative
state" or "confederation." PRAM deputy chairman Nicolae
Andronic told Infotag that the memorandum "will create a
dangerous precedent and the separatists in Crimea will just
rub their hands with joy."

RUSSIAN DELEGATION WRAPS UP VISIT TO MOLDOVA.
Aman Tuleev, Russian minister for CIS affairs, says energy
supplies to Moldova might be cut within 30 days if the issue of
Moldova's debt to Gazprom is not resolved. Tuleev was
speaking in the Moldovan capital yesterday at the end of a
Russian delegation's two-day visit. The two sides agreed to
examine the possibility of settling the $570 million debt ($300
million of which is owed by the  breakaway Transdniester
region) through bonds and shares in Moldovan companies.
Tuleev and Moldovan Deputy Prime Minister Valeriu Bulgari
signed several long-term economic cooperation agreements.
One accord provides for a five-year 150 billion ruble credit for
the purchase of Russian-made agricultural machinery and
another for Russian participation in Moldova's electrification
program, ITAR-TASS reported.

KING SIMEON CALLS FOR "BROAD COALITION" IN
BULGARIA. Speaking in the northern town of Veliko Tirnovo
yesterday, Bulgaria's former monarch called for a "broad
coalition" to be set up after the 19 April parliamentary
elections. An RFE/RL correspondent in Sofia says the call is to
be regarded as endorsing the new Union for National
Salvation, which includes several small pro-monarchy parties
and whose backbone is the ethnic Turkish Movement for
Rights and Freedoms. Simeon said he was "extending his
hand" to all political forces because "patriots can be found in
every camp." He called on voters to cast their ballot in favor of
the reforms. The former monarch is due today to meet with
President Petar Stoyanov before returning to Madrid.

EBRD PREDICTS SOARING INFLATION IN BULGARIA.
According to an EBRD report, inflation in Bulgaria could soar
to 1,000% this year, reflecting the "extreme" economic crisis in
the country. An RFE/RL correspondent in London says the
report predicts a 10% slowdown in growth, a serious drop in
living standards, and a huge increase in bread prices.  Most
other indicators, including Bulgaria's external debt and its
rising budget deficit, also show economic deterioration. The
EBRD says that the crisis reflects lack of progress toward
reforms as well as corruption and mismanagement. But it
predicts that if  action is taken and the measures agreed by
the government and the IMF work, this year could witness the
"beginnings of a turnaround."

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