We are so bound together that no man can labor for himself alone. Each blow he strikes in his own behalf helps to mold the universe. - K. Jerome
RFE/RL NEWSLINE

Vol. 1, No. 18, Part II, 24 April 1997


Vol. 1, No. 18, Part II, 24 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

* SLOVAK FOREIGN MINISTER MEETS WITH ALBRIGHT

* BULGARIA'S ODS NOMINATES KOSTOV AS PREMIER

* INTERNATIONAL FORCE SHUNS CONTACT WITH
   ALBANIAN REBELS

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EAST-CENTRAL EUROPE

BELARUSIAN PRESIDENT IN VIETNAM. Alyaksandr
Lukashenka met with Vietnamese President Le Duc Anh in
Hanoi yesterday to discuss a friendship pact and ways to boost
economic relations. Bilateral trade between Vietnam and
Belarus totaled just $14.5 million last year. Belarus buys
natural rubber, coffee, tea, and textiles from Vietnam and
exports tires and mining machinery. An agreement on
eliminating double taxation between the two countries is
expected to be signed. Lukashenka is also scheduled to meet
with Communist Party Secretary-General Do Muo before
traveling to Ho Chi Minh City today. His visit to Vietnam is the
first by a Belarusian president since the two countries
established diplomatic ties in 1992.

BELARUS MAY RESTRICT TELEPHONE USE. The Ministry of
Communications may outlaw private telephone lines used
"contrary to state interests and public order," Belapan reported
yesterday. Provisions for switching off such lines have been
added to the ministry's set of regulations governing phone use.
The ministry is currently reviewing the status of all phone
lines in the country. Meanwhile, a conference on cooperation
among law enforcement agencies of CIS members opened
today in Minsk, ITAR-TASS reported. Among the participants
are representatives of CIS Interior and Justice Ministries.

UKRAINE SAYS IT HAS SPENT $14 BILLION ON
CHORNOBYL CLEANUP. Ukrainian Deputy Emergencies
Minister Volodymyr Potikha says Ukraine has spent $14
billion over the last five years to deal with the consequences of
the 1986 Chornobyl nuclear disaster. Potikha told journalists
yesterday that Ukraine's expenditures on Chornobyl are
several times more than the West can offer in aid. Western
governments have pledged $1.3 billion to help close the station
by 2000. Potikha also said that over the past decade, Ukraine
has spent 6% of each year's national budget to clean up and
contain the damage from the disaster. Meanwhile, Olga
Babilova, head of the Health Ministry's radiology department,
told reporters yesterday in Kyiv that 772 children have
developed thyroid cancer since the Chornobyl catastrophe.
Forty cases were registered last year alone.

ESTONIAN FOREIGN MINISTER IN BRUSSELS. Toomas
Hendrik Ilves told the North Atlantic Council yesterday that
"Baltic membership in NATO is the best means to signal to
both Western [and] Eastern and Central Europe that the Cold
War is truly over," BNS reported. Ilves stressed that it is in
Tallinn's interests to support the security and independence of
Ukraine. Addressing the Foreign Affairs Committee of the
European Parliament on 22 April, Ilves said that while Estonia
would not object if Latvia and Lithuania were accepted into the
EU first, it would be best if all three Baltic countries became
EU members simultaneously. He again warned against
attempts to decide EU expansion on the basis of geopolitical
considerations.

ESTONIA, LATVIA, RUSSIA AGREE ON BORDER
CONVERGENCE. Delegations from Estonia, Latvia, and
Russia met in the Russian town of Pskov on 22 April and
initialed an agreement on the convergence of their borders,
BNS reported yesterday. Estonian Foreign Ministry State
Secretary Indrek Tarand, who headed the Estonian delegation,
said there was no discussion about Moscow's desire to add a
clause about the three-way border convergence to the
Estonian-Russian border treaty. Estonia regards the text of the
Estonian-Russian treaty agreed on last November as final and
says Russia's insistence on further talks are intended to delay
signing the document.

LITHUANIAN PARLIAMENT AMENDS REFUGEE STATUS
LAW. The Lithuanian parliament has amended the law
ratifying the 1951 Geneva convention on refugee status and
the 1967 New York protocol on refugee status, BNS reported
yesterday. Following ratification in January of the Geneva
convention, Lithuania had to choose between two categories of
"refugees." At the suggestion of President Algirdas Brazauskas,
the parliament chose the broader of the two categories, which
includes victims of conflicts worldwide. Lithuania must now
deposit the convention with the secretary-general of the United
Nations. by 1 May, when visa requirements with Sweden are
eliminated. The convention will go into effect in Lithuania
some 90 days after deposition of the convention at the UN.

CZECH PRESIDENT IN BONN TO MAKE HISTORIC
SPEECH. Vaclav Havel will address the Bundestag in Bonn
today on the recently signed Czech-German declaration of
reconciliation. German President Roman Herzog is scheduled
to visit Prague next week and address the Czech parliament.
The declaration was signed by Czech Prime Minister Vaclav
Klaus and German Chancellor Helmut Kohl on 21 January
and approved by their respective parliaments a few weeks
later.

CZECH POLICE CHARGE ELEVEN IN AGROBANKA CASE .
Eleven people were charged yesterday with crimes related to
the Agrobanka case. CTK quoted police as saying they are
accused of embezzlement, aiding and abetting embezzlement,
and breaking economic legislation. Agrobanka, the largest
Czech private financial institution, was put under forced
administration by the Czech National Bank last September.
The auditor estimated Agrobanka's losses at the time at some
10 billion crowns (more than $330 million).

SLOVAK FOREIGN MINISTER MEETS WITH ALBRIGHT.
U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright met with Slovak
Foreign Minister Pavol Hamzik in Washington yesterday to
discuss Bratislava's goal of integrating into Western political,
security, and economic structures, TASR reported. No details
have been released. Before the meeting, State Department
spokesman Nicholas Burns said Washington has been
concerned about various aspects of Slovakia's democratic
reform process. But, he said, Slovakia has made impressive
economic progress. He also praised the country's contributions
to peacekeeping operations in Bosnia-Herzegovina and eastern
Slavonia.

SLOVAK OPPOSITION DENOUNCES SUSPENSION OF
REFERENDUM. Slovak opposition leaders say the
government's 22 April decision to suspend a referendum on
direct presidential elections is illegal, RFE/RL's Slovak service
reports. The government wants the Constitutional Court to
rule whether the constitution can be changed by a plebiscite.
Democratic Union deputy chairman Ludovit Cernak, Christian
Democratic Movement deputy chairman Ivan Simkom, and
ethnic Hungarian leader Bela Bugar told journalists that the
opposition will take countermeasures if the government blocks
the referendum. Premier Vladimir Meciar said on Slovak TV
yesterday that the constitution can be changed only by the
parliament, not by a referendum. He also said he would not
advise Slovaks how to vote in the referendum on NATO
membership.

SLOVAKIA TO INTRODUCE IMPORT DEPOSITS. Slovakia
will introduce a system of import deposits similar to that
announced by the Czech Republic last week. Deputy Prime
Minister and Finance Minister Sergei Kozlik told a press
conference in Bratislava yesterday that the decision is aimed
at countering the possible impact of the Czech decision on the
Slovak economy. The measures, which will go into effect on 1
May, require importers of consumer goods to deposit 20% of
the imported goods' value with a bank; the money will be
returned six months later. Kozlik said the Slovak cabinet will
also introduce quotas on the imports of selected agricultural,
food, and industrial products.


SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE

BULGARIA'S ODS NOMINATES KOSTOV AS PREMIER. The
Union of Democratic Forces (ODS) today nominated party
leader Ivan Kostov as prime minister, Bulgarian Radio
reported. The nomination must be approved by the new
parliament, which is expected to convene on 5 May.
Meanwhile, the final returns of the 19 April parliamentary
elections show the ODS won 52.2% of the vote and will have
137 seats in the 240-seat legislature, RFE/RL's Bulgarian
service reported yesterday. It is followed by the former ruling
Socialist Party with 22% (58 seats); the Union for National
Salvation, whose largest member is the ethnic Turkish
Movement for Rights and Freedoms, with 7.6% (19 seats); the
Euroleft party, which includes many Socialist dissidents, with
5.6% (14 seats), and the populist Bulgarian Business Bloc
with 4.9% (12 seats).

BULGARIAN PRESIDENT ADDRESSES COUNCIL OF
EUROPE PARLIAMENTARY ASSEMBLY. Addressing the
Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe in
Strasbourg yesterday, Petar Stoyanov said Bulgaria has made
an "irrevocable choice" in favor of reforms and democracy and
put an end to the previous "tactics of imitation of reforms."
Stoyanov said that in the past few months, a "new social
contract" has emerged between the people and the
government. He pledged to be the "guarantor of the human
rights of all Bulgarian citizens" and to fight "any forms of racial
intolerance, xenophobia, and anti-Semitism." Stoyanov also
told the assembly that "democracy cannot be established once
and for all" and needs to be "mastered and rediscovered by
every generation."

INTERNATIONAL FORCE SHUNS CONTACT WITH
ALBANIAN REBELS. Gen. Luciano Forlani, the commander of
the Italian-led multinational troops, said in Tirana yesterday
that the 6,000-strong force is expected to be entirely in place
within 10 days. Forlani added that the troops have secured
Tirana airport and the key ports of Durres and Vlora. He also
said his forces will not have contacts with the rebel
committees that control much of southern Albania. President
Sali Berisha wants the committees dissolved as a precondition
for elections and strongly objects to foreigners or the Albanian
government treating those bodies as legitimate negotiating
partners. The rebels say that anyone who ignores the
committees is, in effect, supporting Berisha. Meanwhile, Leka
Zogu, the claimant to the throne, visits Vlora today. It is
unclear whether he will have direct talks with the rebel
committees.

CROATIA TRIES YUGOSLAV GENERAL FOR WAR CRIMES.
The Zadar county court on 22 April resumed the trial in
absentia of federal Yugoslav army commander Gen. Momcilo
Perisic and 18 other officers on charges of war crimes in the
Zadar area during fall 1991, when at least 30 civilians died
and 120 cultural monuments were destroyed. At the time,
Perisic was in command of an artillery unit in the historical
coastal town. The prosecution says he personally directed the
attack and explicitly ordered the shelling of civilian targets, an
RFE/RL correspondent reported from Zadar.

CROATIAN ELECTION UPDATE. Election officials said in
Zagreb yesterday that President Franjo Tudjman's Croatian
Democratic Community (HDZ) received the largest number of
votes of any single party or coalition in the race for the city
council. The HDZ edged out an opposition coalition for first
place by just half a percentage point. The HDZ will have 24
seats, the opposition coalition 23, and the Croatian Peasants'
Party three. Meanwhile, the Constitutional Court ruled that
the election for the Pakrac council, in western Slavonia, will
have to be repeated within two weeks. The Independent
Democratic Serbian Party asked for another vote because the
names of its council candidates did not appear on the original
ballot, Nasa Borba reported today.

UN'S OGATA CALLS FOR SOLUTION TO BOSNIAN
REFUGEE PROBLEM. Sadako Ogata, the UN high
commissioner for refugees, said in Geneva yesterday that
foreign governments must find a "durable solution" to the
situation of the 8l5,000 Bosnian refugees. She said that
90,000 Bosnians went home last year and that another
410,000 have permanent residence in other countries. But she
said the future is uncertain for those who are still refugees but
added that 200,000 may go back to Bosnia this year. Ogata
also pointed out that at least half of the refugees cannot return
to their homes because they are located in areas under the
control of another ethnic group.

IS BOSNIAN MUSLIM LEADERSHIP CONSIDERING
PARTITION? The Sarajevo magazine Dani suggests in its ??
April issue that the Muslim leadership has given up on the
idea of a unified state and is considering a three-way division
of the country. The maps shown in Dani and some other
Sarajevo newspapers indicate that Muslim leaders might seek
additional territories from the Croats and especially from the
Serbs. Muslims would like to receive land west of Brcko
currently controlled by the Serbs. The main Serbian and
Croatian parties favor an ethnic division, but each has its own
terms for such an option. Any demands for a significant
revision of the territorial provisions of the Dayton agreement
could lead to a new war.

BILDT REJECTS IZETBEGOVIC'S CHARGES ON DAYTON
AGREEMENT. The office of High Representative Carl Bildt
announced in Sarajevo yesterday that the international
community is not responsible for the delays and other
problems in carrying out the Dayton agreement, an RFE/RL
correspondent reported from the Bosnian capital. Bildt's
statement came in response to charges by Alija Izetbegovic, the
Muslim chairman of the joint presidency, that Bosnia is falling
apart and that the international community is to blame (see
RFE/RL Newsline, 22 April 1997). Also in Sarajevo, the
"shadow government," which consists of 10 opposition parties
drawn from both entities, warned yesterday that social and
economic problems are assuming dangerous dimensions.

SERBIAN OPPOSITION MAY TAKE TO STREETS AGAIN.
Vuk Draskovic, the presidential candidate of the Zajedno
coalition, said in Belgrade on 22 April that the opposition will
call for street protests if the governing Socialists to not agree
by 28 June to pass a new election law and to give the
opposition access to state media. Also in Belgrade, former
Yugoslav Prime Minister Milan Panic is about to announce his
membership in Zajedno, according to Nasa Borba today.
Meanwhile in Novi Sad, the opposition Vojvodina coalition says
it cannot support Draskovic for the Serbian presidency.
Coalition spokesmen called him a Serbian nationalist who is
using the presidential campaign to promote plans to restore
the former Karadjordjevic dynasty.

ROMANIAN FOREIGN MINISTER ON TREATY WITH
UKRAINE. Adrian Severin says he hopes the Romanian-
Ukrainian treaty will be signed on 3 May, the independent
Mediafax news agency reported yesterday. Severin, who is
currently in the U.S. to promote Romania's early entry into
NATO, said he has received an invitation from his Ukrainian
counterpart, Hennadii Udovenko, to visit Kyiv. It is widely
believed that the conclusion of the treaty with Ukraine will
boost Romania's chances of early admission into NATO.

ROMANIAN PREMIER ON IMF LOAN. Victor Ciorbea says the
IMF stand-by loan to Romania is a "green light" to foreign
investors, RFE/RL's Bucharest bureau reported yesterday.
Ciorbea told journalists in the Romanian capital that the loan,
which was granted on 22 April, proves his government has a
"credible program." He noted that Romania cannot meet the
costs of reforms by itself and needs the support of
international financial organizations. Meanwhile, foreign
investments in Romania grew by 35% in the first quarter of
this year, compared with the same period last year, and now
total $ 2.3 billion, according to figures released by the
Romanian National Agency for Development.

TRANSDNIESTER LEADER THREATENS TO POSTPONE
SIGNING OF MEMORANDUM. Igor Smirnov says the signing
of the memorandum between Chisinau and Tiraspol may have
to be postponed, BASA-press reported. The document, which
was agreed on under Russian Foreign Minister Yevgenii
Primakov's mediation earlier this month, is due to be signed
on 8 May in Moscow. Smirnov said yesterday that he may
postpone signing because "Ukraine intends to introduce
changes in the document." He added that Chisinau and OSCE
officials are also demanding amendments to the document.
Ukraine, which is a guarantor of the memorandum, says it has
reservations about some of its provisions (see RFE/RL
Newsline, 23 April 1997).

Albania Prepares for Elections

by Fabian Schmidt

        With elections scheduled for late June, Albania's political
parties are getting ready for the ballot. The recent crisis has
rapidly changed the country's political landscape, making it
difficult to predict the ballot's outcome. Most voters in
previous elections supported either the Democrats or the
Socialists, but the electorate may now look for other options.
Leka Zogu, claimant to the throne and son of Albania's last
king, is one such option.
        When Sali Berisha was voted president in 1992, the
political scene was divided into two main camps. The Socialist
Party, reformed heirs to the communist Party of Labor, was the
largest opposition party. Berisha's ruling Democratic Party
brought together politicians of all stripes, with many of its
members coming from the student movement that helped
bring about the end of communism. But since then, the
Democrats have evolved into a conservative party with a strong
anti-communist platform and a clear identification with
Berisha. Several former high-ranking Democrats have left the
party, criticizing Berisha for his authoritarian rule.
        Today, Albania's political scene is much more diversified.
There are a large number of small conservative parties, but
they have failed to formulate a common policy and join forces.
The Republican Party, a former coalition partner of the
Democrats, offers a nationalist platform calling for minimal
state influence over the private sector. The tiny Christian
Democratic Party has support mainly among the North's
Catholic communities and in Shkoder. In the middle of the
political spectrum, the Social Democrats and the Democratic
Alliance have formed the Center Pole coalition.
        An important factor in the upcoming elections will be the
election law. The current legislation provides for direct rather
than proportional representation, which puts the smaller
parties at a disadvantage. The Democrats won more than 80%
of parliamentary seats in last year's elections, even though
they received only just over half of the votes nationwide. Much
thus depends on whether a new election law goes into force
before the June ballot.
        Another major factor will be the impact of the recent
crisis. Since many Albanians are deeply disappointed with
Berisha, the Democrats can expect heavy losses and the
Socialists significant gains. The Socialists have a strong
traditional base, and Socialist leader Fatos Nano has remolded
the party into a Western-oriented, social-democratic formation.
Moreover, Socialist Bashkim Fino's appointment as interim
premier has given the reform-minded Socialists positive
publicity and the chance to present themselves in a better
light.
        But there are many disenchanted former Democratic
Party supporters who, under no circumstances, would back
the Socialists. They are more likely to opt for the Center Pole
coalition, which puts stress on civil liberties and on a
constitution providing for a strong parliament to replace the
current presidential system. Some may also vote for the
conservative parties.
        In the south of the country, which is still largely
controlled by rebel committees, the election results are even
more difficult to predict. Last year's ballot gave the Democrats
solid majorities there. But the Socialist Party has traditionally
had its support base in the south, and Fino, who is a
southerner, and other Socialists are on good terms with some
rebel committees.
        Given that many conservative voters throughout the
country are likely to be looking for other options, Leka Zogu,
who recently returned to the country, has a unique
opportunity to push ahead with his idea of re-establishing the
monarchy. Even though his Legality party has failed to gain
entry to the parliament in the past, Zogu may now have
realistic chances of winning the planned referendum on the
future form of government--monarchy, presidential republic,
or parliamentary republic--which may take place at the same
time as the elections.
        Seeking to capitalize on the current crisis, Zogu has
recently been touring the country, calling for national
reconciliation and peace. He is promoting himself as a padrone
who safeguards local and national interests. Moreover, he can
project the image not only of a future monarch but also of a
savvy, experienced international businessman.

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