Absence makes the heart grow fonder. -
RFE/RL NEWSLINE

Vol 1, No. 22, Part II, 30 April 1997


Vol 1, No. 22, Part II, 30 April 1997

NOTE TO OUR READERS:
Newsline will not appear tomorrow, 1 May, a national holiday in the Czech
Republic.

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.
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Headlines, Part II

* U.S. AMBASSADOR BACK IN BELARUS

* U.S. LAWMAKERS URGE SLOVAKIA TO IMPROVE HUMAN
RIGHTS

* THIRD TERM FOR SERBIA'S MILOSEVIC?

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EAST-CENTRAL EUROPE

U.S. AMBASSADOR BACK IN BELARUS. Kenneth Yalowitz
returned to Minsk yesterday one month after the U.S. recalled
him to Washington to protest human rights abuses in the
country, RFE/RL's Washington correspondent reported. But
State Department spokesman Nicholas Burns told reporters
that Yalowitz's return does not mean that Washington believes
that an improvement is imminent in either the human rights
situation or in U.S.-Belarusian relations. Burns said the U.S.
regards the human rights record of President Lukashenka as
"abysmal." He said Yalowitz would be carrying a "strong
message" that the U.S. continues to have serious reservations
about human rights in Belarus. He added that Yalowitz's
return does not signal " business as usual."

BELARUSIAN ACADEMICS DEFEND POET ADAMOVICH.
The Literature Institute of the Belarusian Academy of Sciences
has urged a regional court to stop prosecution of poet Slavomir
Adamovich, Belapan reported yesterday. Adamovich has been
accused of inciting terrorist acts by publishing a poem entitled
"Kill the President." The Vitebsk Regional court had asked the
Institute to rule whether Adamovich's poem can be considered
to apply to current President Alyaksandr Lukashenka. In a
letter to the court, the institute said that a judgment could not
be based on "literary analysis" and that "in civilized democratic
countries," poets and poetry are not taken to court, regardless
of the authorities' suspicions about them.

ESTONIA APPROVES SOCIAL SECURITY AGREEMENT
WITH UKRAINE. The Estonian government yesterday
approved a bill on the ratification of a social security
agreement with Ukraine. The agreement, which covers
pensions, medical services, child welfare, and compensation
for accidents, has to be endorsed by both countries'
parliaments before it goes into force. Foreign Minister Toomas
Hendrik Ilves told a news conference in Tallinn yesterday that
the agreement is a further step toward closer bilateral
relations.

ESTONIAN INTERIOR MINISTER SACKED. President
Lennart Meri yesterday relieved Riivo Sinijarv of his duties as
interior minister. ETA reported that Prime Minister Mart
Siimann sacked Sinijarv over his failure to properly investigate
the abuse of official cars by Interior Ministry officials. Sinijarv
is a member of Siimann's Coalition Party, the senior member
of the government coalition. He was Estonian ambassador to
Britain in 1993-1995 and served briefly as foreign minister
and minister for European integration in 1996. RFE/RL's
Estonian Service reports that Jaan Toots, a high-ranking
official at the Interior Ministry, was also sacked yesterday. It
recently became public that Toots had used ministry cars to
transport his wife and children.

ESTONIA, LATVIA SCRAP VISAS WITH NORDIC
NEIGHBORS. The Estonian government approved an
agreement with Iceland yesterday on visa-free travel and the
return of illegal immigrants, BNS reported. Foreign Minister
Ilves told reporters that after the agreement goes into force on
1 May, Estonian citizens will be able to travel to all Nordic
countries without visas. The same day, Latvia and Norway
initialed an agreement on the abolition of visa requirements
and the return of illegal immigrants. Norway is the last of the
Nordic countries to coordinate an agreement on the
readmission of illegal immigrants with Latvia. Latvian citizens
do not need visas to enter Denmark and Iceland, and
agreements on a visa-free regime have been reached with
Sweden and Finland. However, Sweden wants Latvia to ratify
the UN Convention on Refugees before lifting visa
requirements.

AGRICULTURAL SITUATION IN LITHUANIA "DISMAL BUT
NOT HOPELESS." Agriculture Minister Vytautas Knasis told
the parliament yesterday that the agricultural situation in
Lithuania is "dismal but not hopeless," ITAR-TASS reported.
He said that as of 1 April, processing factories owed farmers a
total of 104.7 million litai ($26.17 million) largely due to the
limited demand for agricultural products. Grain processing
factories alone currently owe farmers more than 12.5 million
litai. Farmers, meanwhile, have been unable to buy fuel,
machinery, spare parts, or fertilizers. Knasis said that the
government was making an effort to sell meat and dairy
products on the Russian market but noted that those
operations would require state subsidies.

POLISH PREMIER ON EU.  Wlodzimierz Cimoszewicz has
denounced some EU states for taking unfair advantage of what
he called Poland's weak negotiating position to enforce their
demands over trade issues, Reuters reported. Poland yesterday
submitted to Spanish demands by agreeing to cut value-added
tax on imported citrus fruit from 22% to 7%. Failure to do so
would have derailed today's annual Association Council
meeting of EU and Polish foreign ministers in Luxembourg,
which is seen as a step toward Polish membership in the
union. Cimoszewicz also warned senior Polish officials that
they will be fired if they once again fail to fully coordinate
Warsaw's policy toward the EU.

GERMAN PRESIDENT ASKS CZECHS FOR FORGIVENESS.
Roman Herzog addressed a joint session of the Czech
parliament and government yesterday and apologized to
Czechs for past injustices. Herzog's speech was meant to be
the final formal act in approving the Czech-German
declaration of reconciliation, which was signed in January
after two years of negotiations. In that document, both the
Czechs and the Germans admit to wrongs committed during
World War II. Herzog praised Czech President Vaclav Havel as
"Europe's mentor" and a "spiritual pioneer" in overcoming the
Cold War division of Europe. Herzog said Germany
wholeheartedly supports Czech membership in NATO and the
EU. "Europe remains incomplete as long as Prague, Budapest,
and Warsaw do not belong to it," Herzog said.

CZECH MINISTER, INTERPOL OFFICIAL RESIGN. Local
Development Minister Jaromir Schneider, a member of the
Christian Democratic Union--People's Party, resigned from his
post yesterday under pressure from the party leadership,
Czech TV reported. Local authorities in southern Moravia have
launched an investigation into Schneider over a suspicious
loan to the Zlin City Hall in 1994. Schnieder was mayor of Zlin
at the time. In a separate development, Frantisek Zelenicky,
the director of the Czech Republic branch of Interpol,
announced his resignation yesterday following accusations
that he had contacts with members of organized crime groups.

SLOVAKIA, RUSSIA SIGN SERIES OF AGREEMENTS.
Russian Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin told journalists
in Bratislava yesterday that the 15 agreements he signed
during his visit to Slovakia will boost the growth of trade and
technical cooperation. Contrary to earlier reports, the two
sides signed a deal on forming a joint-stock company between
Russia's Gazprom and the Slovak Gas Industry as well as a
long-term agreement on Russian gas supplies to Slovakia.
Slovak Prime Minister Vladimir Meciar told reporters that
Slovakia's needs will be fully covered under the accord on gas
supplies, which is valid until 2008. Meciar also said that "in
view of the U.S.'s negative attitude, it is very unlikely that
Slovakia will be in the first wave of NATO applicants."

U.S. LAWMAKERS URGE SLOVAKIA TO IMPROVE HUMAN
RIGHTS. U.S. Senator Alfonse D'Amato and Representative
Christopher H. Smith say in a letter to Slovak Prime Minister
Vladimir Meciar that the deteriorating human rights situation
in Slovakia over the past year means Slovakia most probably
will not be among the first countries invited to begin
negotiations on NATO accession. The text of the letter was
released to the media yesterday. The two politicians called on
Meciar to respond by making a determined effort to reverse the
situation. The letter said Slovakia's most pressing human
rights issue is the unsolved problem of political violence
against government opponents. It said that unless those cases
are reopened and solved, "a deep and lasting shadow will be
cast over Slovakia's hopes for a future as a democratic state
integrated into the West."

SLOVENIAN PRESIDENT IN BUDAPEST. Milan Kucan says
Europe is "doomed to cooperate" but the divides on the
continent are "still tangible," Hungarian media reported.
Kucan was addressing the Hungarian parliament yesterday.
He also met with President Arpad Goencz. The two leaders
agreed to open a Hungarian consulate in Szentgotthard and a
Slovenian consulate in a location still to be decided. Prime
Minister Gyula Horn told Kucan that Ljubljana is "slow" in
responding to requests related to the problems of the
Hungarian minority in Slovenia.

ROMANIAN SENATE CHAIRMAN IN HUNGARY. Hungarian
Foreign Minister Laszlo Kovacs told visiting Romanian Senate
chairman Petre Roman in Budapest yesterday that Hungary
will continue "to do its utmost" to make sure that Hungary and
Romania join an enlarged NATO at the same time, an RFE/RL
correspondent in the Hungarian capital reported yesterday.
President Arpad Goencz also met with Roman and said that
Budapest is ready to share with Romania its experience in
overcoming economic crisis during the transition to the
market.

SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE

ALBANIAN UN AMBASSADOR PRAISES ITALIAN-LED
MISSION. Pellumb Kulla told a press conference in New York
yesterday that the situation in his country has improved since
Operation Alba began earlier this month. He says that the
foreign troops have "positively inspired" the Albanian military
and police to restore order. Kulla added that most schools
reopened under police protection yesterday and that the rest
are slated to open today. He pointed out that the authorities
are currently lifting press restrictions and that all political
parties want the 29 June elections to go ahead. The
ambassador noted, however, that there are still parts of the
country where armed bands block access even to government
officials.

LEKA ZOGU CALLS FOR GREATER ALBANIA. The claimant
to the throne said in Tirana yesterday that the unification of
all Albanian-speaking areas would be in the long-term interest
of all Balkan peoples and would promote regional stability. He
added, however, that the Albanians must achieve unity only by
peaceful means and that "the last thing we need is another
conflict in the Balkans." Leka stressed that he regards himself
as king of all Albanians, including those living in Kosovo,
Macedonia, and Montenegro. He argued that Albanians have
the same right as Germans to national unification and that the
"Albanian question" exists only because of foreign interference.

ALBANIAN ROUNDUP. An Italian army spokesman told a
press conference in Tirana yesterday that Italian soldiers acted
within their mandate on 28 April when they intervened to help
a bus driver, whom gunmen were attacking. Also in the
capital, President Sali Berisha urged the IMF yesterday to send
a team of experts to investigate the collapse of the pyramid
schemes. At the EU foreign ministers' conference in
Luxembourg, Italian diplomats called for an international
conference on Albania. And at the Black Sea conference in
Istanbul, Albanian representative Mirgjind Pefiku asked for
help in reviving his country's economy.

THIRD TERM FOR SERBIA'S MILOSEVIC? Opposition leader
Zoran Djindjic told Nasa Borba today that it would be
unconstitutional for President Slobodan Milosevic to serve a
third term. Earlier, Deputy Prime Minister Ratko Markovic
said to the pro-regime Belgrade daily Politika ekspres that
Milosevic could seek another term when his current one runs
out this year. Markovic believes that the constitutional ban on
more than two terms applies only to full terms of five years
each, an RFE/RL correspondent reported from Belgrade
yesterday. Milosevic's first time in office, the deputy prime
minister argues, was shorter and hence does not count toward
his constitutional limit. Observers at home and abroad have
long been expecting Milosevic to run for federal Yugoslav
president later this year. Growing anti-Milosevic sentiment in
Montenegro, however, may have prompted him to change his
tactics.

EU RETURNS TRADE PERKS TO BELGRADE. The federal
Yugoslav government applauded the decision of the EU foreign
ministers in Luxembourg yesterday to restore federal
Yugoslavia's commercial privileges (see RFE/RL Newsline, 29
April 1997). Belgrade says that the move will strengthen links
between it and western Europe but added that the EU should
have lifted curbs soon after Milosevic signed the Dayton
agreement in December 1995. The EU praised what it called
an improvement in the opposition's access to the state media
but said that future trade privileges will depend on Belgrade's
policy toward the media, Kosovo, and a new election law. Also
in Luxembourg, Macedonian Prime Minister Branko
Crvenkovski signed a four-year cooperation pact with the EU.

SERBIAN OPPOSITION SPLIT AGAIN? The Democratic Party
says that the Serbian Renewal Movement (SPO) seems about
to leave the Zajedno coalition, an RFE/RL correspondent
reported from Belgrade yesterday. SPO leader Vuk Draskovic
announced that his party is launching its own pre-election
campaign, which prompted the Democrats' comment.
Draskovic also said he will call "all of Serbia" out on the streets
again if the government refuses to talk with the opposition
about election rules. Also in Belgrade, former Prime Minister
Milan Panic confirmed that he has joined Zajedno, according
to Nasa Borba today. Panic added that the Kosovo problem is
"more or less solved" because the international community
feels that the province must remain part of Serbia. Panic
argues that the Albanians must now "join the system, vote,
and obtain the same rights as the Serbs."

OSCE SETS UP BOSNIAN REFUGEE VOTING PROGRAM.
The OSCE announced in Vienna yesterday that Bosnian
citizens living abroad can register to vote in person or by mail
between 5 May and 7 June. In Bosnia itself, the OSCE will
have 2,300 observers on hand for the 13-14 September local
elections, more than twice the number it had for last year's
vote. The OSCE still needs more money to hold the elections,
however, even though Germany and the U.S. recently
announced additional contributions. Many observers regard
the local elections as a last chance to reverse "ethnic
cleansing" because voters will have the right to vote for local
governments in their original home towns.

ROMANIAN PREMIER ATTACKS OUTGOING
INTELLIGENCE SERVICE CHIEF. Premier Victor Ciorbea
says that Virgil Magureanu was among the country's "last
Soviet relics," RFE/RL reported. Magureanu resigned last week
as director of the Romanian Intelligence Service (SRI). Ciorbea
told journalists in Bucharest yesterday that Moscow-trained
staff in governmental and presidential institutions have been
forced to quit their posts. Today, Magureanu is to submit the
SRI's report for 1996 to a joint session of the bi-cameral
parliament. The report was first submitted late last year but
was sent back for revison following demands for clarifications.

ROMANIA, TURKEY SIGN FREE TRADE AGREEMENT.
Turkish President Suleyman Demirel and his Romanian
counterpart, Emil Constantinescu, met in Istanbul yesterday
and signed a free trade agreement, RFE/RL's Bucharest
bureau reported. The agreement is aimed at increasing the
volume of bilateral trade to $ 1 billion. The two leaders also
pledged mutual support in pursuing further integration with
Europe. Demirel said Turkey considers it a "priority" to back
Romania's bid to join NATO.

ROMANIAN DEFENSE MINISTER IN WASHINGTON. U.S.
Defense Secretary William Cohen says Romania has made
"tremendous progress" in asserting civilian control over the
military and in modernizing its armed forces, an RFE/RL
correspondent in Washington reported. Cohen was welcoming
Romanian Defense Minister Victor Babiuc on his arrival at the
Pentagon yesterday. Cohen reiterated that for the time being,
the U.S. will take no position on which countries should be
invited to join the enlarged NATO. Before his meeting with
Cohen, Babiuc told reporters that he hopes to convince the
U.S. that NATO expansion should include both the northern
and the southern flanks of the alliance. This, he said, is the
only way to preserve NATO's "cohesion."

MOLDOVAN PROSECUTOR'S OFFICE REOPENS CASE
AGAINST NEWS AGENCY. The Prosecutor-General's Office
has asked a court to overturn a November 1996 ruling
rejecting a demand by the office that BASA-press be forced to
reveal an information source within the Ministry of Defense. In
June 1996, BASA-press had cited a ministry source in
connection with former Minister of Defense Pavel Creanga's
statement that he would the army on alert, if President Mircea
Snegur attempted to dismiss him. Snegur, who was voted out
of office late last year, attempted to dismiss Creanga but failed
to win the support of the government. Creanga has not denied
the information that BASA received from the ministry last
June. The Prosecutor-General's Office says that information
had affected "state interests."





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