Silence is the real crime against humanity. - Nadezhda Mandelstam
RFE/RL NEWSLINE

Vol. 1, No. 19, Part II, 25 April 1997


Vol. 1, No. 19, Part II, 25 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

* CZECH PRESIDENT ADDRESSES GERMAN PARLIAMENT

* SERBIA'S RULING PARTY STRENGTHENS HARD-LINERS

* ROMANIAN INTELLIGENCE SERVICE CHIEF RESIGNS

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EAST-CENTRAL EUROPE

CZECH PRESIDENT ADDRESSES GERMAN PARLIAMENT.
Vaclav Havel told the Bundestag yesterday that "just as today's
Germany cannot bring back to life the tens of thousands of
Czech victims of Nazism..., neither can today's Czech Republic
give back homes to the [Sudeten] Germans who were driven
out of the country" after World War II. Havel also argued that
the concept of the "nation state" has outlived itself. Earlier this
year, German Chancellor Helmut Kohl and Czech Prime
Minister Vaclav Klaus signed a joint declaration in which both
countries expressed regret for the past injustices. German
President Roman Herzog is due to address the Czech
parliament on 29 April. Meanwhile, groups representing Czech
Jews who survived Nazi concentration camps yesterday called
on the German government and parliament to compensate
Czech victims of Nazism.

POPE, GORBACHEV IN CZECH REPUBLIC. Pope John Paul II
today begins a visit to the Czech Republic to commemorate the
1,000th anniversary of the death of St. Adalbert, Czech media
reported. The pope is due to meet with President Vaclav Havel
tomorrow before celebrating mass in Hradec Kralove to mark
the death of the Czech saint, who brought Christianity to
Poland and who was the first bishop of Czech origin. The
pontiff will also hold an open-air mass in Prague on 27 April.
Meanwhile, former Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev arrives
in Prague today to attend the funeral of his friend Zdenek
Mlynar, who was one of the leaders of the 1968 Prague Spring
reforms. Gorbachev will also meet with President Havel, CTK
reported.

UKRAINE, G-7 AGREE ON CHORNOBYL SARCOPHAGUS
PLAN. Ukraine and the Group of Seven major industrial
nations have agreed on a plan to stabilize the sarcophagus
encasing the reactor at Chornobyl that caused the world's
worst nuclear accident 11 years ago. Ukrainian Environment
Minister Yuri Kostenko and Carol Kessler, a representative of
the G-7, said in Kyiv yesterday that the plan will run through
the year 2005 and could cost up to $780 million. A new shell
is be built around the cracked sarcophagus, while the
corroded and broken parts of the present containment
structure are to be removed.

RUSSIA'S BLACK SEA FLEET COMPLETES EXCERCISES.
Russia's Black Sea fleet is concluding10-day exercises today
with a major landing operation involving 5,000 men and 500
pieces of military hardware, Interfax reported. Ukrainian ships
and aircraft are also taking part. Relations between Moscow
and Kyiv have worsened because Russia wants to make the
Ukrainian port of Sevastopol the base of its Black Sea Fleet.

ESTONIA AMENDS LAND REFORM LAW TO CHURCHES'
ADVANTAGE. The Estonian parliament yesterday amended
the 1991 land reform law to grant Churches the right to buy
land at prices lower than the market price, RFE/RL's Estonian
service reported. Under the amended law, both Churches and
student organizations are exempted from restitution costs (of
delimiting and measuring the land returned to them, for
example). Previously, only private individuals did not have to
those costs. The latest amendments are seen as simplifying
the restitution process for Churches and organizations and as
speeding up land reform, which has been criticized as
sluggish.

LITHUANIA IS WORLD'S MOST NUCLEAR-DEPENDENT
COUNTRY. The Vienna-based International Atomic Energy
Agency (IAEA) says Lithuania is more dependent on nuclear
energy than any other country in the world, dpa reported
yesterday. A new IAEA study says that more than 83% of
Lithuania's electricity supply last year was generated by the
Ignalina nuclear power plant. France is the second most
nuclear-dependent country, with 77% of its 1996 energy
derived from nuclear power. The Ignalina reactor, which also
exports electricity to Belarus and Latvia, has long been
criticized in Western Europe for its obsolete design and
insufficient security procedures. The EU has hinted that
Lithuania's reliance on Chornobyl-type reactors could hinder
its bid for union membership.

LITHUANIA APPEALS FOR NATO MEMBERSHIP. Lithuania's
parliament yesterday sent an appeal to NATO urging the
alliance to include at least one Baltic state in the first wave of
enlargement, BNS and Reuters reported. The appeal said that
Lithuania is convinced the Baltic States' progress toward
democracy and stability would be threatened if they were left
out of NATO. Eighty-six of the 87 deputies present in the 138-
seat house approved the appeal. The U.S. has repeatedly
reassured the Baltic States that they will not be left in a
security gray zone and that NATO entry remains open for
those not included in the first wave.

POLISH PREMIER CRITICIZES EU OVER ALLEGED
PROTECTIONISM. Wlodzimierz Cimoszewicz has criticized the
EU for alleged protectionism following a row between Poland
and Spain over citrus fruit, Reuters reported. Spain has
insisted that Poland scrap its 22% value-added tax on
imported citrus fruits, while Poland argues that if it abolishes
the tax, it will lose some 200 million zlotys ($65 million) in
revenues. Cimoszewicz told the news agency that Poland has
opened up many areas to competition from EU countries, even
though its economy is much weaker. He noted that some of
those moves have not been reciprocated and that the EU's
advantage in trade relations is highlighted by Warsaw's large
trade deficit with EU countries, which accounted for 60% of its
total shortfall in 1996 of $8.2 billion.

SLOVAK PRESIDENT BLASTS GOVERNMENT OVER
REFERENDUM DELAY. Michal Kovac yesterday accused the
government of undermining confidence in the rule of law by
postponing a referendum on whether the public or the
parliament should elect the president. Earlier this week, the
government ordered that preparations for the 23 May
plebiscite be suspended, saying the Constitutional Court must
first rule whether the constitution can be changed by a
referendum. Premier Vladimir Meciar said on Slovak TV on 23
April that the basic law can be changed only by the
parliament.

SLOVAK AMBASSADOR TO RETURN TO PRAGUE. Ivan
Mjartan, who was recalled to Bratislava for "consultations" two
weeks ago, will return to Prague "in a relatively short time,"
Slovak Foreign Ministry State Secretary Josef Sestak told CTK
yesterday. He said Mjartan will go back to the Czech capital
tasked with taking "diplomatic-political steps" aimed at
resolving problems in Czech-Slovak relations. Mjartan was
recalled after Czech President Vaclav Havel gave an interview
to the French newspaper Le Figaro in which he described
Slovak Prime Minister Vladimir Meciar as "paranoid" in his
position on NATO expansion. The Slovak government has
demanded an apology and demanded that the Czech Republic
return some 4.5 tons of Slovak gold.

HUNGARIAN DEPUTIES SUSPECTED OF SECRET AGENT
ACTIVITIES UNDER COMMUNISM. Zoltan Hodaszi, who
chairs a panel screening judges, says several deputies are
suspected of having worked as secret agents, Hungarian media
reported yesterday. Two committees are currently examining
the records of some 600 officials to establish whether any were
employees of the III/III counter-intelligence department of the
communist-era Interior Ministry, whether they collaborated in
the hunting down of insurgents in the 1956 uprising, or
whether they had links with the pre-communist Arrow Cross
fascist party. Hodaszi did not specify for whom the suspected
deputies are supposed to have worked. Meanwhile, the ruling
Socialist Party leadership has said that Istvan Nikolitis,
minister without portfolio overseeing the civilian services,
bears no political responsibility for the way "Operation Birch
Tree" has been handled (see RFE/RL Newsline, 18 and 22 April
1997).

SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE

ALBANIA'S WOULD-BE KING LEKA GETS COOL WELCOME
IN VLORA. Leka Zogu spent only 20 minutes in the turbulent
southern port of Vlora yesterday, leaving after chants from the
crowd of up to 5,000 people switched from "Long live the king"
to "Down with Berisha" and "We want our money back."
Bystanders told reporters that Leka should run for parliament
if he wants to have a role in Albanian public life. Before his
departure, Leka laid a wreath in honor of independence leader
Ismail Qemali. Also in Vlora, an additional 150 Italian soldiers
arrived as part of the multinational force to ensure the delivery
of aid shipments.

ALBANIAN ROUNDUP. Slovenian Defense Minister Tit
Turnsek announced in Ljubljana yesterday that his country
will soon send a specialized medical unit of 20 soldiers to
Albania. Slovenia has told NATO that the Alpine republic can
make a valuable contribution to the alliance because it is able
to offer trained specialists for specific projects. Meanwhile, the
official news agency ATA reports that primary and secondary
schools in the capital will reopen on 29 April with armed
guards on duty. Schools across the country have been shut
since 2 March, but it is unclear when those outside Tirana will
reopen.

BOSNIAN SERB, CROATIAN LEADERS MEET.
Representatives of the Serbian Democratic Party (SDS) and the
Croatian Democratic Community (HDZ) met in Pale yesterday
to discuss refugee return and the administration of localities
divided by the inter-entity border, an RFE/RL correspondent
reported from Sarajevo. The SDS and HDZ expressed
dissatisfaction with the composition of the joint Bosnian
diplomatic service, saying that the Muslims hold an unfair
number of key jobs. Next week, HDZ and SDS representatives
will meet in Banja Luka to discuss the possible revision of
borders between Croat- and Serb-held areas, which the
Dayton treaty allows by mutual agreement.

BOSNIAN SERBS SENTENCE "ZVORNIK SEVEN." A court in
Zvornik yesterday sentenced three Muslims to 21 years in
prison for the murder of four Serbs and for carrying illegal
weapons. The other four accused Muslims got one year each
on the weapons charge. Since they have all spent 12 months
in prison already, the three men will serve 20 years each and
the other four will go free. The international community has
widely slammed the trial as unfair. Meanwhile in Brcko, the
international community's administrator Robert Farrand
announced a plan for refugees to come back to that strategic
Serb-held town. It is unclear, however, who will enforce the
procedure or what will happen if one side balks. Refugees
enjoy the right to go home under the Dayton agreement, but
that provision has remained a dead letter.

INTERNATIONAL COMMERCIAL AIR TRAFFIC RETURNS
TO BOSNIA. SFOR announced in Sarajevo yesterday that
international commercial air traffic over Bosnia-Herzegovina
has restarted after a five-year hiatus. A NATO spokesman said
that air corridors at altitudes higher than 10,000 meters have
been reopened for civilian aircraft. He said SFOR will continue
to control the overall airspace above Bosnia-Herzegovina, while
air traffic control in Zagreb and Belgrade will guide the aircraft
onto established routes. SFOR gave no date for normalizing
civilian air traffic within Bosnia and for reopening the airports
in Mostar, Tuzla, and Banja Luka for civilian use.

CROATIAN UPDATE. Election officials in Zagreb said
yesterday that final returns show the HDZ won 42 out of 63
elected seats in the upper house of the parliament. The
Croatian Social and Liberal Party follows with 11 seats, while
the remaining 10 are claimed by other opposition parties. Also
in Zagreb, Development Minister Jure Radic unveiled a plan to
enable 40,000 refugees to go back to their original homes
across Croatia, regardless of the refugees' nationality. The
authorities will provide temporary housing for those whose old
homes were destroyed or occupied during the war. Non-
citizens will not be allowed to keep the homes they have taken,
however. Meanwhile in Zadar, a court has sentenced in
absentia Yugoslav Gen. Momcilo Perisic to 20 years in prison
for his role in deliberately shelling civilian targets there in
1991.

SERBIA'S RULING PARTY STRENGTHENS HARD-LINERS.
The steering committee of the Socialist Party of Serbia (SPS)
met in Belgrade yesterday to reorganize the SPS leadership in
time for the Serbian elections due later this year. Prominent
hard-liners returned to several key posts after having been out
of the political limelight for some time, an RFE/RL
correspondent reported from the Serbian capital. Meanwhile,
Nasa Borba today reports the results of a poll showing that the
Zajedno coalition is the country's most popular political
formation. It would take 22% of the vote, compared with 15%
for the SPS and 13% for the Serbian Radical Party of Vojislav
Seselj. Some 31% of the respondents were undecided.

BULGARIAN PRESIDENT SAYS SOFIA MUST SIGN
MINORITY RIGHTS CONVENTION. Petar Stoyanov says his
country must sign the Council of Europe's Convention for the
Protection of National Minorities, BTA reported. Stoyanov told
reporters on returning from Strasbourg on 23 April that the
Council of Europe is now looking with "new eyes at Bulgaria's
new face" and that the Bulgarians deserve this respect
because of the reform steps taken in recent months. Some
political forces in Sofia have expressed concern that the
convention would enable Bulgaria's ethnic Turkish minority to
declare autonomy. Stoyanov's 23 April statement is the
strongest sign to date that Bulgaria will sign the convention.

ROMANIAN INTELLIGENCE SERVICE CHIEF RESIGNS.
Virgil Magureanu submitted his resignation to President Emil
Constantinescu yesterday, RFE/RL reported. The controversial
chief of the Intelligence Service (SRI) had headed that body
since it was established in March 1990. Next week, he is
scheduled to present to the parliament a report on the SRI's
activities last year. Recently, he has been the target of
numerous attacks by Romanian journalists as well as by
Romanian exiles. Former communist spy Ion Mihai Pacepa,
who defected to the U.S. in the early 1980s, wrote in The
Washington Times last week that Magureanu's presence at the
head of the SRI hinders Romania's entry into NATO. In late
1995, Magureanu admitted to having been a captain in the
Securitate, the communist secret police.

ROMANIAN FOREIGN MINISTER WRAPS UP U.S. VISIT.
Adrian Severin said at the end of his four-day visit to the U.S.
that Romania is waiting for Washington to decide on "a clear
strategy" for NATO expansion. In an interview with RFE/RL
Romanian service's yesterday, Severin said his country will
"not abandon" its efforts to be admitted if it is not nominated
at the NATO's July summit in Madrid because "this is our
historical chance." But he noted that the decision not to
include Romania in the first wave would have a negative
impact on joint security structures that Romania has
established or is about to establish with its neighbors. Also
yesterday, the parliament unanimously passed a resolution
appealing to all NATO members to support Bucharest's bid.

COUNCIL OF EUROPE ENDS SPECIAL MONITORING OF
ROMANIA. The Council of Europe's Parliamentary Assembly
yesterday announced it will cease special monitoring of
Romania's commitment to respect human rights. Romania
undertook to honor those rights when it was admitted to the
council in October 1993. The assembly said Romania has
"honored the most important obligations" but noted special
monitoring will resume if Bucharest fails to keep its pledges. It
also said Romania must still amend its penal code and other
legislation to confirm with the European Convention on
Human Rights. The assembly urged Bucharest to take
"resolute action" to combat racism, xenophobia, and
intolerance, particularly toward the Roma population.
Romania will now be subject to the regular monitoring that
applies to all 40 countries.

MOLDOVAN OPPOSITION RESPONDS TO STATEMENT
BACKING RUSSIAN-BELARUSIAN UNION. A group of
deputies from the opposition Party of Revival and Accord in
Moldova (PRAM) says the decision by 57 deputies from the
ruling party and its allies to back Russian-Belarusian union is
a "denial of independence and democracy," Infotag reported on
22 April. The 57 deputies issued a statement the previous day
saying the union was proof of "current international
integration tendencies" and set a positive example "for the
further integration of the CIS." The PRAM deputies argue that
the statement is "a cynical betrayal" of the signatories' "own
nation" and demonstrates that the ruling party and its allies
are striving to "turn the Republic of Moldova into a new
colony."
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               Copyright (c) 1997 RFE/RL, Inc.
                     All rights reserved.
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