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RFE/RL NEWSLINE

Vol. 1, No. 17, Part II, 23 April 1997


Vol. 1, No. 17, Part II, 23 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

* UKRAINIAN, WESTERN EXPERTS AGREE ON CHORNOBYL
   MEASURES

* BULGARIAN PARTIES MEET TO DISCUSS POST-ELECTION
   STRATEGY

* CROATIA ADMITS RIGHTS ABUSES AGAINST SERBS

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EAST-CENTRAL EUROPE

BELARUS, SOUTH KOREA SIGN INVESTMENT TREATY. In
Seoul yesterday, Belarusian President Alyaksandr Lukashenka
and his South Korean counterpart, Kim Young-Sam, signed an
investment treaty as well as an agreement to accelerate
economic and diplomatic ties. Kim said the treaty was
intended to boost bilateral business ties and that he hoped
bilateral cooperation would be further enhanced by the
conclusion of various agreements currently under discussion.
Lukashenka said he supported South Korean efforts to
establish lasting peace with North Korea through four-way
peace talks that would include the U.S. and China.
Lukashenka travels today to Hanoi for a four-day visit.

MORE TALKS ON RUSSIAN-UKRAINIAN BLACK SEA
FLEET. Another round of Ukrainian-Russian negotiations over
the division of the Black Sea Fleet opened in Moscow
yesterday, RFE/RL's Kyiv bureau reported. The Ukrainian
delegation is headed by Deputy Foreign Minister Konstantyn
Hryshenko and the Russian delegation by Deputy Foreign
Minister Boris Pastukhov. Hryshchenko told journalists
yesterday there were no major breakthroughs at the outset of
the talks. But Pastuhov confirmed Russian President Boris
Yeltsin's statement last month that Russia will no longer make
the signing of a friendship and cooperation treaty with Ukraine
conditional on agreements on the Black Sea Fleet division and
the status of Sevastopol.

UKRAINIAN, WESTERN EXPERTS AGREE ON CHORNOBYL
MEASURES. Carol Kessler, head of the Western delegation to
talks in Kyiv on the closure of the Chornobyl nuclear power
plant, says Ukraine and Western countries have agreed on a
plan to reduce the threat from the radioactive ruins of the
facility. Kessler told journalists that yesterday's meeting was
"very successful" and that agreement was reached on a plan to
ensure the safety of the deteriorating concrete sarcophagus
entombing the reactor and the removal of the remaining
nuclear fuel inside. Kessler also said both Ukraine and the G-7
are "very positive" about fulfilling a 1995 agreement to close
Chornobyl by 2000. Kyiv has threatened to keep Chornobyl
open after then unless it receives international aid worth $1.2
billion to complete two new power stations.

ESTONIAN-RUSSIAN ROUNDUP. Estonia and Russia have
reached agreement on multiple-entry visas that will allow
residents close to the border to cross more easily, BNS
reported yesterday. Estonia will issue special visas to Russian
residents living near the frontier, and Russia will grant special
permits to Estonians. Authorities decided to issue the
documents rather than simplify border-crossing procedures.
Meanwhile, the Chechnya support group in the Estonian
parliament has sent a letter to Russian President Boris Yeltsin
and U.S. President Bill Clinton asking them to recognize the
independence of Chechnya, BNS and ETA reported yesterday.
The text of the letter was approved at a 21 April meeting
commemorating the first anniversary of the death of Chechen
leader Dzokhar Dudaev.

POLAND APPROVES FREE TRADE AGREEMENT WITH
LATVIA. Latvia moved closer to membership in the Central
European Free Trade Agreement (CEFTA) yesterday when the
Polish government approved a free trade pact with the Baltic
state, Reuters reported. Under the pact, customs duties will be
abolished on most industrial products. Some tariffs will
continue to apply for so-called sensitive products--such as
farm goods, textiles, steel, oil products, and cars--but will be
phased out. Latvia still needs to sign a free trade agreement
with Hungary and join the World Trade Organization to
become eligible for CEFTA. Current CEFTA members are the
Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland, Slovakia and Slovenia. On 1
July, Romania is to become its sixth member.

POLAND MAY BUY RUSSIAN ARMS EVEN AFTER NATO
ENTRY. Marek Siwiec, head of Poland's National Security
Bureau, says his country may buy Russian arms even if it is
allowed to join NATO. Siwiec was speaking at a news
conference in Warsaw following his talks with Ivan Rybkin,
head of the Russian National Security Council. Rybkin
yesterday also met with President Aleksander Kwasniewski
and top security officials. Meanwhile, Finnish President Martti
Ahtisaari arrived in Warsaw for a three-day visit yesterday. His
Polish counterpart Aleksander Kwasniewski thanked him for
Finland's role in mediating disputes between Russia and NATO
over the alliance's planned expansion.

CZECH MAIN OPPOSITION PARTY'S ASSETS FROZEN. The
financial assets of the Czech Social Democratic Party (CSSD)
have been frozen because the party has not paid taxes since
1991, Czech media report. The CSSD is now unable to pay
salaries or loan payments. CSSD Senator Egon Lansky, who
also is as an adviser to parliamentary chairman Milos Zeman,
called the move "political persecution." Czech Prime Minister
Vaclav Klaus told Czech Radio yesterday that Lansky's
assertion was scandalous. He said the minister of finance was
in no way involved in the decision to freeze the party's assets.

SLOVAKIA TO ADOPT COUNTERMEASURES AGAINST
CZECH IMPORT DEPOSITS. Slovak officials say the Slovak
government is preparing measures to counter the Czech
Republic's introduction of import deposits, Czech TV reported
on 22 April. Slovak Deputy Prime Minister Sergej Kozlik has
submitted the proposed countermeasures to the government
for discussion, but officials have refused to give any details.
The Czech Republic last week announced steps designed to
boost the economy and, in particular, to stunt the growth of
foreign trade deficit. Importers of consumer goods and food
stuffs will have to deposit 20% of the value of the imported
goods with a bank and will get the money back only after six
months. Slovakia says the import barriers violate the Czech-
Slovak customs union agreement.

SLOVAK GOVERNMENT SUSPENDS REFERENDUM
PREPARATIONS. The Slovak government says preparations
for a referendum on direct presidential elections have been
suspended pending a ruling by the Constitutional Court.
Deputy Prime Minister Katarina Tothova told reporters
yesterday that the cabinet has asked the court to rule whether
the constitution can, in fact, be changed by a referendum.
President Michal Kovac last month set referenda for next
month on the presidential ballot and on whether Slovakia
should join NATO. The opposition proposed the referendum on
direct presidential elections in a bid to prevent Meciar from
assuming presidential powers when Kovac's term in office
expires in March 1998.

SLOVAK OPPOSITION SPEAKS OUT AGAINST PRAISING
WARTIME LEADER. The opposition Democratic Union has
issued a statement denouncing attempts by the Slovak
National Party to use the anniversary of the execution of Jozef
Tiso to exonerate the "totalitarian regime of the wartime
Slovakia," RFE/RL's Bratislava bureau reported yesterday.
Tiso, who was executed in 1947 on charges of war crimes, was
president of the fascist Slovak State during World War II. In a
related development, the opposition post-communist
Democratic Left Party (SDL) has appealed to the government,
political parties, and democratically-minded people to radically
oppose the questioning of "anti-fascist traditions" in present-
day Slovakia. The SDL says it is appalled by the dissemination
of fascist and nationalist views in society as well as by the
recent praise of Tiso.

HUNGARIAN FOREIGN MINISTER SAYS "NO NUKES" WITH
NATO MEMBERSHIP. At the end of his five-day visit to Japan,
Laszlo Kovacs told the newspaper Nihon Keizai yesterday that
if Hungary joins NATO, no nuclear arms will be deployed on its
territory. Kovacs said Budapest is also opposed to having
NATO troops stationed in the country "on a permanent basis,"
according to an ITAR-TASS report. He said entry to NATO
should not be viewed as posing any threat to Russia, with
which Hungary has no common border. In other news, Premier
Gyula Horn yesterday concluded a four-day visit to Malaysia.
The two countries agreed to set up their first joint venture,
which will be in telecommunications.

BUDAPEST SOCIALIST PARTY OFFICE TARGETED IN PIPE
BOMB ATTACK. Hungarian TV reported yesterday that a pipe
bomb exploded at a district office of the governing Socialist
Party in Budapest. The blast caused some damage, but there
were no injuries. It was the second bomb attack on a Socialist
party office in the last three months.

SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE

BULGARIAN PARTIES MEET TO DISCUSS POST-ELECTION
STRATEGY. Ivan Kostov, leader of the United Democratic
Forces (ODS), which won the 19 April parliamentary elections,
yesterday met with representatives of the four other parties
that won seats in the legislature, an RFE/RL correspondent in
Sofia reported. Socialist Party leader Georgi Parvanov said
after the talks that his formation agrees in general with the
ODS's anti-crisis program but remains opposed to the
application to join NATO. Euroleft, which is composed largely
of Socialist Party defectors, will support the program. Leaders
of the Union for National Salvation (ONS) told Kostov they
wanted a more detailed discussion of the IMF deal agreed on
last month. But Ahmed Dogan, leader of the largely ethnic
Turkish Movement for Rights and Freedoms, which is also a
member of the ONS, did not attend the meeting. Kostov said
his absence was a "bad beginning" for future cooperation.

ALBANIAN REBELS CALL MEETING TO DISCUSS
INTERNATIONAL FORCE. Rebel leader Albert Shyti
announced in Vlora yesterday that representatives from all
rebel town councils in southern Albania will meet in Vlora on
25 Arpil. Shyti says it is "time to evaluate the relations
between us and the multinational force." Vlora council
member Ylli Mecaj said that the foreign troops are officially in
the city to distribute aid, adding that "they must involve
themselves only with that and not form a direct or indirect
alliance with [President Sali] Berisha." Rebel leaders fear that
the force may help to shore up the embattled president as the
June elections draw near. Vlora residents have so far given the
foreign troops a friendly welcome.

ALBANIAN PRESIDENT STANDS BY POLICE CHIEF.
Speaking in Tirana yesterday, Berisha reiterated his opposition
to the 19 April dismissal of national police chief Agim Shehu.
The government has defended its decision to sack Shehu by
saying he is not acceptable to the Albanian public. It is unclear
whether Socialist Prime Minister Bashkim Fino has signed a
formal dismissal. Shehu is a close Berisha ally, and many
Albanians blame him for police brutality against Berisha's
opponents. Nine out of the ten parties in the broad coalition
government voted to oust Shehu.

ALBANIAN ROUNDUP. Italian military spokesmen said in
Rome today that tugs have freed the cruiser Vittorio Veneto,
which ran aground off Vlora on 21 April. In the central
industrial town of Elbasan, the World Food Program reported
yesterday that it has delivered more than 200 tons of flour in
the presence of Italian troops. In Brussels, the WEU said it is
sending a delegation to Tirana today to assess what is needed
to rebuild Albania's police force. In Tirana, police officials said
yesterday that a bomb destroyed the car of Arben Ujka, deputy
chief of the city's criminal police force. And in Rome, the
Health Ministry announced that it has signed an agreement
with its Albanian counterpart to help revive Albania's health
care services.

UN'S KLEIN CERTIFIES SLAVONIAN ELECTIONS. Jacques
Klein, the UN administrator for the last Serb-held part of
Croatia, said in Vukovar yesterday that the 13-15 April
elections in the region were "free and fair," despite
irregularities that prompted an extension of polling time. He
remarked that the vote in eastern Slavonia presented "a victory
for reconciliation, [refugees'] return, and a better future." Klein
said he had "duly considered but dismissed" all complaints
and based his decision on monitors' reports. Final election
returns confirmed earlier, unofficial ones (see RFE/RL
Newsline, 21 April 1997). Klein is now preparing a plan to
enable refugees to return to their homes on either side of the
former front lines.

SERBIAN-CROATIAN COALITION IN VUKOVAR? Vojislav
Stanimirovic, the leader of the Independent Democratic
Serbian Party (SDSS), said in Zagreb yesterday that he can
envisage a coalition in the Vukovar town council between his
party and President Franjo Tudjman's Croatian Democratic
Community (HDZ), an RFE/RL correspondent reported from
the Croatian capital. The SDSS and HDZ are the two largest
parties in the council, but the balance of power lies with the
Independents, led by local kingpin Tomislav Mercep. Mercep is
regarded by many Serbs as a war criminal and has many
enemies in the HDZ. The Serbs took Vukovar in a long and
destructive siege in 1991, and its return to Croatia is a highly
emotional issue in that country.

CROATIA ADMITS RIGHTS ABUSES AGAINST SERBS. Ante
Klaric, the Croatian government's ombudsman, said in Zagreb
yesterday that there have been violations of Croatian Serbs'
human rights and that Serbian refugees have been prevented
from going home. Klaric noted that returning refugees face
legal obstacles to getting their homes back and then often find
that Croats are living in them. This is the first time that a
government official has admitted such abuses against Serbs in
the areas recaptured by the Croatian army in 1995, an
RFE/RL correspondent reported from Zagreb.

TRIAL OF "ZVORNIK SEVEN" ENDS. Bosnian Serbs wrapped
up a controversial murder trial of seven Muslims in Zvornik
yesterday. The proceedings closed after the court-appointed
defense lawyers were given just five minutes to speak. The
international community's Deputy High Representative
Michael Steiner had demanded that the Serbs allow the
"Zvornik Seven" to choose their own lawyers. The Serbs
refused on the grounds that the Muslim lawyers chosen by the
men are not citizens of the Republika Srpska. The accused say
the Serbs tortured them in the jail where they have been since
U.S. peacekeepers handed them over to Serb police last May. A
verdict is due to be announced tomorrow.

ROMANIA OFFERS TO REPLACE U.S. TROOPS IN BOSNIA.
Foreign Minister Adrian Severin says Romania is ready to
replace the U.S. troops in Bosnia when they withdraw next
year. Severin was speaking at his meeting yesterday with U.S.
Assistant Secretary of State John Kornblum, Radio Bucharest
reported. State Department spokesman Nicholas Burns said
that Secretary of State Madeleine Albright told Severin on 21
April that the U.S. wants Romania to be part of the process of
unifying Europe. But she said "no decisions have been made
by NATO on which new countries would be taken in."
Meanwhile, leaders of the U.S. Jewish communities have
urged the Romanian government to take down a statue of
wartime leader Ion Antonescu erected by his sympathizers on
the site of the marshal's 1946 execution, an RFE/RL
correspondent in Washington reported.

IMF APPROVES LOAN TO ROMANIA. The IMF yesterday
approved a $400 million stand-by loan to Romania, which will
be released in five installments of $80 million each, Radio
Bucharest reports. The IMF will monitor the progress of
Romania's implementation of the reforms program before
releasing each installment. In other news, George Danielescu,
a former deputy chairman of the National Liberal Party and a
former minister of finance, is under investigation on suspicion
of forgery and fraud in connection with a mutual investment
fund, Romanian TV reported yesterday. Gen. Victor Athanasie
Stanculescu, who is also under investigation (see RFE/RL
Newsline, 21 April 1997), said the case against him was
"political" and aimed at discrediting the former government of
Petre Roman. Finally, the government on 21 April revoked the
licenses of two private banks--Credit Bank and Dacia Felix--
which ran into solvency difficulties nine months ago.

UKRAINE DISTANCES ITSELF FROM CHISINAU-TIRASPOL
MEMORANDUM. Ukrainian Ambassador to Chisinau Evhen
Levitsky says his country welcomes the readiness of Chisinau
and Tiraspol to sign the memorandum on ways to settle the
conflict in Moldova but cannot agree with all its provisions.
Levitsky told Infotag that Ukraine objects in particular to the
memorandum's inclusion of a provision saying the CIS "has
experience" in settling such conflicts. Ukraine believes that the
OSCE, rather than CIS, can provide the best mechanisms for
such tasks. Ukraine is a guarantor of the memorandum,
which is to be signed in Moscow on 8 May. Levitsky said Kyiv
considers the text of the memorandum "still open" because it
has not been consulted on all the provisions.

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               Copyright (c) 1997 RFE/RL, Inc.
                     All rights reserved.
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Natasha Bulashova,Greg Koul
Updated: 1998-11-

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