Change is always powerful. Let your hook be always cast. In the pool where you least expect it, will be a fish. - Ovid
RFE/RL NEWSLINE

Vol. 1, No. 13, Part II, 17 April 1997


Vol. 1, No. 13, Part II, 17 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 CONSTITUTIONAL COURT RULES 1996
   REFERENDUM IS BINDING

* AUSTERITY MEASURES ANNOUNCED IN CZECH REPUBLIC

* OSCE MEDIATOR NOT TO MEET WITH ALBANIAN REBELS

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EAST-CENTRAL EUROPE

BELARUSIAN CONSTITUTIONAL COURT RULES 1996
REFERENDUM IS BINDING. The Constitutional Court has
overturned its ruling on the November 1996 presidential
referendum, which gave Alyaksandr Lukashenka sweeping
powers, RFE/RL's Minsk correspondent reports. The court
ruled last year that the vote was non-binding. Lukashenka
responded by issuing a decree that reversed the court ruling,
prompting the resignation of seven of the court's justices.
Yesterday, the court endorsed the presidential decree by ruling
that the referendum is binding.

UKRAINIAN PRESIDENT TO VETO OUSTER OF CRIMEAN
PREMIER. Presidential Chief-of-Staff Yevhen Kushnariov told
journalists yesterday that Leonid Kuchma will veto the ouster
of Crimean Premier Arkadiy Demydenko by the peninsula's
parliament and ask the Constitutional Court to rule whether
Crimean legislators had the right to dismiss the premier. By
announcing his planned veto, Kuchma is indirectly challenging
his former political ally Anatoliy Franchuk, whom the Crimean
parliament named as Demydenko's replacement and whose
son is married to Kuchma's daughter. Franchuk was loyal to
Kyiv during his previous term as Crimean premier in 1995. In
other news, Kuchma signed a decree yesterday banning
creation of so-called citizens organizations in Crimea, which,
he said, were unconstitutional.

SHARANSKY VISITS BABI YAR. Natan Sharansky, Israeli
trade minister and former Soviet political prisoner, paid an
emotional visit yesterday to Babi Yar, where an estimated
34,000 Jews from Kyiv were killed by the Nazis in September
1941. Later, tens of thousands of Jews and non-Jews were
also executed at the ravine. Sharansky said he was visiting the
memorial site for the first time and found it a very difficult
experience. Sharansky was persecuted for his fight to allow
Jews in the Soviet Union to emigrate to Israel. He returned to
Ukraine on 13 April for the first time since he left in the 1960s
to attend university in Moscow.

ESTONIA SAYS IT WILL NOT RENEGOTIATE BORDER
TREATY WITH RUSSIA. Prime Minister Mart Siiman says
Estonia considers a draft border agreement with Russia to be
final and does not intend to reopen negotiations, dpa reported
yesterday. Siiman was responding to a Russian Foreign
Ministry statement criticizing Tallinn's position on the draft
accord and calling for another round of negotiations (see
RFE/RL Newsline, 16 April 1997). The Estonian premier said
new talks would "indefinitely delay the signing of a treaty" and
stressed that Tallinn is ready to sign the agreement as it now
stands. Meanwhile, Estonian lawmakers yesterday were
unable to reach agreement on ratifying a protocol to the
European Convention on Human Rights, which bans the death
penalty. Most speakers called for keeping capital punishment
but voted to postpone making a decision until September.

SOLIDARITY URGES POLES TO REJECT NEW
CONSTITUTION. The National Committee of the Solidarity
trade union has urged its supporters to take part in the 25
May referendum on the country's new constitution and to cast
their ballots against that document, RFE/RL's Warsaw
correspondent reported yesterday. The new constitution was
adopted by the National Assembly earlier this month.
Solidarity chairman Marian Krzaklewski said yesterday that
the four major parliamentary parties that voted in favor of the
new constitution have refused to let the public choose between
the parliament's constitution and a draft backed by Solidarity.
He added that the four parties also rejected any amendments
to the parliament's constitution proposed by the right-wing
opposition. An opinion poll conducted last month by the Public
Opinion Research Center showed 41% of respondents
supporting the parliament's constitution, 15% rejecting it, and
the remainder undecided.

AUSTERITY MEASURES ANNOUNCED IN CZECH
REPUBLIC. The Czech government announced yesterday that
it will cut budget expenditures by 5%, slash the growth of
wages in the state sector, and introduce a system of import
deposits in a bid to stem the rapidly growing foreign trade
deficit. It will also prosecute more vigorously those involved in
economic crime and seek to improve the tax collection system.
The devaluation of the crown is not envisaged. The government
also pledged that in the long term, it will go ahead with
outstanding privatization projects and adopt laws making
capital markets more transparent. The chairmen of the three
government coalition parties told journalists that the short-
term economic measures will be painful but are unavoidable.
Long-term changes are intended to revive the economy and
"strengthen the rule of law," they added. The coalition leaders
were unable to agree on changes in the government lineup,
however.

SLOVAK OFFICIALS ON CONTROVERSIAL EDUCATION
MINISTRY DECREE. Deputy Prime Minister Katarina Tothova
says a Ministry of Education memorandum urging that some
subjects in minority schools be taught only by ethnic Slovaks
is "unfortunate." Tothova was speaking to journalists
yesterday following her meeting in Bratislava with OSCE High
Commissioner on Ethnic Minorities Max van der Stoel, who
has criticized the memorandum. Speaking on Slovak Radio,
Foreign Minister Pavol Hamzik took issue with presidential
spokesman Vladimir Stefko's statement that both President
Michal Kovac and Van der Stoel said during their meeting
yesterday that the memorandum is discriminatory and violates
human rights. Stefko said Van der Stoel noted only that the
memorandum violates the spirit of the Slovak Constitution.
Education Ministry State Secretary Ondrej Nemcok, the author
of the memorandum, told Radio Twist that the document is in
accordance with government policies. But he added that those
policies will be somewhat modified.

HUNGARIAN FOREIGN MINISTER ON NATO MEMBERSHIP.
Laszlo Kovacs says the ambassadors of all 16 NATO member
countries support Hungary's bid to join the alliance. The
foreign minister was speaking to reporters yesterday in
Brussels after he met with the permanent ambassadors'
council of the member states. He also submitted his country's
official application for NATO membership at the alliance's
headquarters. Magyar Hirlap today quotes a NATO official as
saying the minister can rest assured that Hungary will be
among the first group of applicants invited to accession
negotiations at NATO's July summit in Madrid. No more
official NATO-Hungarian meetings will take place before the
summit.

SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE

OSCE MEDIATOR NOT TO MEET WITH ALBANIAN REBELS.
Franz Vranitzky, the OSCE's mediator for Albania, is
remaining in Tirana today, after canceling plans to travel to
the northern city of Shkoder and to meet with rebel leaders in
Vlora. One of the rebels said Vranitzky's move is the result of
interference by Albanian President Sali Berisha, who
maintains the rebels are hindering progress toward elections
and refuses to negotiate with them. Vranitzky said yesterday
he believes it is useful to listen to rebel leaders but that he will
deal only with the Albanian government. Vranitzky also argued
that the June elections are being jeopardized by deep
differences among political parties on how best to deal with the
rebels.

PROBLEMS THREATEN ALBANIAN ELECTIONS. Berisha
says he does not want OSCE monitors present during the
June elections. Speaking in Tirana yesterday, he noted there
were "terrible problems" when OSCE monitors were on hand
during the May 1996 parliamentary elections. Berisha said he
prefers the Council of Europe to do the monitoring. The OSCE
and many other foreign observers claimed the 1996 vote was
flawed, but the Council of Europe was less critical. Berisha
also suggested that holding the elections should be linked to
the conclusion of an all-party agreement on ending the debate
over the collapse of pyramid schemes, which wiped out the
savings of hundreds of thousands of Albanians. Meanwhile,
Justice Minister Spartak Ngjela told Vranitzky that it will not
be possible to disarm civilians by election day.

MORE AUTHORITY FOR HAGUE COURT? Discussions have
begun at the Hague-based International Criminal Tribunal for
the former Yugoslavia that could make or break the court's
authority, an RFE/RL correspondent reported yesterday. At
issue is whether the tribunal can call for measures to be taken
against states that refuse to comply with its requests for
cooperation. If the court gets the necessary international
backing, it will be able to demand the arrest of key individuals
or invoke sanctions against the offending state. The debate
was triggered by the failure of the Croatian and Bosnian
federal defense ministers to hand over evidence in the case of
Croatian Gen. Tihomir Blaskic, who is in custody in The
Hague. Court officials insist that their work will not be a
deterrent against future war crimes unless the tribunal is able
to punish those who do not cooperate with it.

OSCE ON CROATIAN ELECTIONS. The OSCE says the 13
April Croatian elections were largely free and fair but that
problems did occur. In a report issued yesterday in Zagreb, the
organization noted problems in the Serbian enclave of Eastern
Slavonia continued even after the UN --which organized the
ballot there--extended voting to a second day. Those problems
included an absence of ballot papers and ballot boxes,
misprinted ballots, and incomplete voting lists. The OSCE
commended the UN, however, for correcting the problems. UN
officials are expected to decide later this week whether to
declare the Slavonian elections valid. The OSCE said voting in
the rest of Croatia was an "improvement" over the 1995
parliamentary elections but that problems remain. It said
opposition parties lacked proper access to state-run media and
that voting secrecy was not guaranteed at many polling
stations.

MONTENEGRIN PRIME MINISTER TO CHANGE
GOVERNMENT BUT ON OWN TERMS. At the start of his visit
to Greece, Milo Djukanovic has received pledges for credits
worth $90 million from bankers in Athens, Nasa Borba reports
today. Before leaving home, he said at a stormy meeting of the
governing Democratic Socialist Party (DPS) that he will
reorganize the government within 60 days. He insisted,
however, that he will not make the changes "immediately or on
anyone's orders," an RFE/RL correspondent reported from
Podgorica yesterday. Djukanovic is under pressure from
President Momir Bulatovic to fire three ministers who have
been critical of Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic.

SLOVENIA STARTS TO RATIFY EU AGREEMENT. Prime
Minister Janez Drnovsek said in Ljubljana yesterday that the
parliament will start procedures today to ratify Slovenia's
association agreement with the EU. He added that his party
will also press for changes in Slovenian law in keeping with
that agreement. The main issue is changing the constitution to
allow foreigners to own property. Fears remain among the
public that such changes will enable Austrians and especially
former Italian residents of Slovenia to buy up real estate.
Slovenia is the only former Yugoslav republic to have an
association agreement with the EU.

ROMANIAN DEFENSE MINISTER ON TREATY WITH
UKRAINE. Victor Babiuc says talks with Ukraine on the
pending basic treaty are deadlocked over the demarcation of
the countries' common border in the Danube delta, ownership
of the continental shelf around Serpents Island in the Black
Sea, and the situation of the Romanian minority in the
Ukraine. In an interview with RFE/RL's Romanian service
yesterday, Babiuc said that contrary to international practice,
Ukraine wants the common border traced on the Romanian
side of the Danube's Chilia branch instead of in the middle of
the waterway. Kyiv is also demanding ownership of the
continental shelf around Serpents Island, while Bucharest
wants the Hague International Tribunal to rule on the matter if
negotiations are still stalled after two years. Finally, Bucharest
is demanding that the Romanian minority in Ukraine be
granted rights recognized by the Council of Europe.

ROMANIAN POLICE LAUNCH INVESTIGATION INTO
BUSINESS TYCOON. George Constantin Paunescu, the
business tycoon known for his close ties with Romania's
previous government, has been officially placed under
investigation for forgery, RFE/RL's Bucharest bureau reports.
Colonel Pavel Abraham, chief of the police general
inspectorate, told a press conference yesterday that Paunescu
is suspected of using a $10 million loan from abroad for
purposes other than those officially declared. Crin Halaicu,
former mayor of Bucharest, is also under investigation for
fraud.

MOLDOVA CUTS NATURAL GAS SUPPLIES TO
TRANSDNIESTER. Moldova has cut off or substantially
reduced natural gas supplies to several towns in its breakaway
Transdniester region, Infotag reported. Yesterday's move is
linked to the announcement earlier this week that Russia will
sever supplies to Moldova if its debts to Gazprom are not
settled within 30 days (see RFE/RL Newsline, 16 April 1997).
More than half of the $570 million debt is owed by Tiraspol.
Vladimir Atamaniuk, deputy chairman of the Transdniester
Supreme Soviet, said that if Tiraspol is asked to pay separately
for its gas deliveries, it should also "receive its legitimate share
of the assets of the former Soviet Union." He accused
Moldovan President Petru Lucinschi of applying "massive
economic and political pressure" on the Transdniester.

RUSSIAN DEPUTY DEFENSE MINISTER ON TROOP CUTS
IN TRANSDNIESTER. Gen. Vladimir Toporov says the
Russian military contingents stationed in the Transdniester
will be reduced to the "most propitious level," BASA-press
reported. Toporov, who met yesterday in Chisinau with
Moldovan Defense Minister Valeriu Pasat, said the "very large"
infrastructure of Russia's Transdniester-based troops "imposes
huge expenses." He said the reorganization of the contingent
has already started and will continue, adding that no decision
has yet been taken on "what [Russian military equipment] can
be destroyed, what will be withdrawn, and what will remain."
He did not specify a deadline for the withdrawal, nor did he
confirm Russian Defense Council Secretary Yurii Baturin's
February statement that of the 6,000 or so troops stationed in
the region, only 2,500 will remain after the reorganization.

BULGARIAN PRESIDENT SAYS HE FAVORS REFERENDUM
ON MONARCHY. Petar Stoyanov says that if the new
parliament elected this weekend decides to hold a referendum
on reintroducing the monarchy, he would "accept the decision
with satisfaction and immediately set a date for it," RFE/RL's
Sofia bureau reported. Stoyanov was speaking yesterday after
meeting with Bulgaria's former monarch, Simeon II. The
president pointed out that the Tirnovo constitution, which
provided for a constitutional monarchy, was abolished when
the country was "under the occupation of a foreign military
power."

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