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RFE/RL NEWSLINE

Vol. 1, No. 24, Part II, 5 May 1997


Vol. 1, No. 24, Part II, 5 May 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

* UKRAINE, ROMANIA INITIAL FRIENDSHIP TREATY

* ITALY CALLS FOR HALT TO ALBANIAN EXODUS

* FAILED ASSASSINATION ATTEMPT ON
CONSTANTINESCU, STOYANOV IN SOFIA?

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EAST-CENTRAL EUROPE

UKRAINE, ROMANIA INITIAL FRIENDSHIP TREATY.
Ukrainian Foreign Minister Hennady Udovenko and his
Romanian counterpart, Adrian Severin, met in Kyiv on 3 May
to initial a friendship treaty proclaiming the current
borders between the two countries "inviolable." Romania
thereby renounced any claim to territory that was seized
by the Soviet Union in 1940 and is now in Ukraine.
Udovenko told journalists in the Ukrainian capital that
neither country has any claims on the territory of the
other. Severin, speaking at a press conference in Bucharest
the following day, rejected criticism that Romania has
made an "historical sacrifice." The treaty still has to be
signed by the Ukrainian and Romanian presidents and
ratified by the two countries' parliaments.

ROMANIAN OPPOSITION REACTIONS TO TREATY WITH
UKRAINE. Teodor Melescanu, the deputy chairman of the
Party of Social Democracy in Romania, said on 2 May that
his formation supports the conclusion of the basic treaty
with Ukraine but is opposed to its being "too hastily
concluded" in a bid to influence NATO's decision on
enlargement at the July summit in Madrid. Melescanu said
the government should strive for provisions that better
guard the rights of the Romanian minority in Ukraine.
Corneliu Vadim Tudor, the chairman of the Greater Romania
Party, called the treaty "the most serious act of national
treason in Romania's modern history," Radio Bucharest
reported the same day. Valeriu Tabara, the leader of the
Party of Romanian National Unity, said the PUNR was
opposed to the treaty because it did not include a
denunciation of the 1939 Ribbentrop-Molotov pact and did
not satisfactorily clarify the issue of Serpent Island and
the continental shelf around it.

UKRAINIAN PRESIDENT DELAYS TURKMENISTAN VISIT.
Leonid Kuchma has postponed an official visit to
Turkmenistan scheduled to begin today because of an
ongoing dispute over payments for Turkmen gas. Interfax
yesterday quoted Ukrainian State Minister Anatoly
Minchenko as saying that Kuchma's decision follows a
Turkmen Foreign Ministry proposal that his visit take place
only after the two countries resolve the issue of the
Ukrainian International Energy Corporation's debts for gas
supplies and sign an agreement providing for direct gas
shipments that exclude the involvement of government
structures. Minchenko said that the Ukrainian government
has nothing to do with the debt, which, he added, amounts
to $205 million.

BELARUSIAN OPPOSITION LEADER JAILED. Nikolai
Statkevich, the leader of the Belarusian Social Democratic
Party, was sentenced on 2 May to 10 days in jail for
violating a presidential ban on organizing unsanctioned
rallies, Belapan reported. Statkevich was arrested the
previous day after he persuaded participants in a trade
union rally to join an opposition march against President
Alyaksandar Lukashenka (see RFE/RL Newsline, 2 May
1997). It was the third time he had been arrested over the
past six months.

BELARUSIAN, ALBANIAN LEADERS AMONG "ENEMIES
OF PRESS." The U.S.-based Committee to Protect
Journalists says in its annual report that the leaders of
Belarus and Albania are among the world's top 10 "enemies
of the press," RFE/RL's Washington correspondent reported
on 3 May. According to the report, President Lukashenka
"bullies the press with Soviet-era tactics, tightening his
stranglehold by shutting down independent media and
publicly denouncing journalists." Albania's President Sali
Berisha was criticized for censoring the media, authorizing
the intimidation and beating of journalists, and insisting on
the seizure of publications critical of the government.

ESTONIAN-RUSSIAN BORDER TREATY TO BE SIGNED
SOON? Aleksandr Nikolaev, the head of the Russian
Federal Border Guard Service, says the border treaty
between Russia and Estonia is 98% ready and will be signed
in the near future, BNS reported on 3 May. Nikolayev spoke
after a meeting with his Estonian and Finnish counterparts
on the Estonian island of Saaremaa. Estonia and Russia
agreed on the text of the border treaty last November.
Tallinn regarded the treaty as final, but Moscow insisted on
further talks and its right to make changes to the text.
Meanwhile, the three border guard chiefs agreed this
weekend to increase cooperation, particularly in sea
rescue and combating organized crime.

MISSING SWEDISH ELECTION MONITOR FOUND DEAD IN
LATVIA. The body of Jan Oke Dellebrant was found by an
angler in Lake Liepaja on 2 May, BNS reported. The 51-
year-old professor from Stockholm University was
reported missing some two months ago. He was in Latvia as
part of a 15-member international monitoring team for the
9 March elections. An Interior Ministry spokesman said a
preliminary examination of the body had not revealed any
external injuries. Dellebrant was last seen alive at a
nightclub in Liepaja.

LITHUANIA, TAIWAN TO BOOST TRADE. Visiting
Taiwanese Deputy Foreign Minister Chien Jien-Chen and
Lithuanian Minister for European Affairs Laima Andrikiene
told reporters on 2 May that trade offices will be opened in
Vilnius and Taiwan soon, AFP reported. The two sides
agreed to open such offices in November 1991 but the
Lithuanian Democratic Labor Party, which came to power
the following year, was anxious to maintain good relations
with China. Chien, who is the first senior Taiwanese official
to visit Lithuania, also met with Prime Minister Gediminas
Vagnorius and other senior officials. He said he would like
to see bilateral trade increase from its current annual
volume of $8 million and expressed particular interest in
the textile and wood-processing industries.

POLAND WILLING TO PAY ALL NATO MEMBERSHIP
COSTS. Prime Minister Wlodzimierz Cimoszewicz says
Warsaw will assume all costs for joining NATO and accept
arms restrictions to appease Russian security fears.
Cimoszewicz told German TV yesterday that Poland
estimates those costs at $100-150 million a year over the
next 10 years but he stressed that taxes would not be
raised. With regard to Russian concerns over NATO
expansion, Cimoszewicz said Poland is ready to accept
demands "never" to allow nuclear weapons or foreign
troops on its soil. Meanwhile, President Aleksandr
Kwasniewski arrived in France yesterday for an official
two-day visit to press his country's case for membership
in NATO and the EU.

CZECHOSLOVAK COMMUNIST LEADERS CHARGED WITH
TREASON. Prague municipal prosecutor Jan Krivanek
announced on 2 May that treason charges have been
brought against former Czechoslovak communist leaders
Milos Jakes, Jozef Lenart, and Karel Hoffmann. The
prosecutor told journalists that Jakes and Lenart
committed treason by attending a meeting at the Soviet
embassy in Prague one day after the Soviet-led invasion of
Czechoslovakia on 21 August 1968. At the meeting, the two
former Politburo members allegedly discussed creating a
new leadership to replace the Czechoslovak government.

CZECH PRESIDENT ON COMPENSATION FOR JEWISH
VICTIMS OF NAZISM. Vaclav Havel said yesterday in his
regular radio address that he understands the "cautious
attitude of people of Jewish origin toward developments in
Czech-German relations." He remarked that Germany "could
not or did not want to" address the issue of compensation
for the victims of Nazism in the recently signed Czech-
German declaration. He added that there would probably
have been no declaration if Prague had insisted on the
issue being included. Jewish organizations refused to
attend German President Roman Herzog's speech in Prague
last week and say that the declaration ignores the issue of
compensating victims of the Nazi regime.

SLOVAK FOREIGN MINISTER ON U.S. CRITICISM. Pavol
Hamzik told Slovak TV yesterday that U.S. officials and
institutions "paint a completely negative picture of the
situation in Slovakia and challenge everything that has
been done [there] over the past eight years." He said that
such an attitude was "counterproductive" shortly before
the referendum on NATO membership scheduled to take
place in Slovakia later this month. According to Hamzik,
Slovakia is going through a very difficult period, which, he
said, "requires...understanding, confidence, and
cooperation, not writing off the country." Meanwhile,
German Foreign Minister Klaus Kinkel told reporters in
Bratislava on 2 May that even if Slovakia is left out of the
first round of NATO expansion, Bratislava should not
consider this a rejection.

HUNGARIAN OPPOSITION PARTY LEADER REFUSES TO
RESIGN. Gyorgy Giczy, leader of the Christian Democratic
People's Party (KDNP), says he is the legitimate chairman
of the party and wants to run again for that position,
Hungarian media reported. The Supreme Court recently
annulled the results of the December 1996 elections to the
KDNP leadership and reinstated Janos Latorcai as party
chairman. But at a 2 May meeting of the party's regional and
national representatives, Giczy rejected appeals that he
should refrain from running again for the party's
chairmanship. The meeting decided that new elections
should be held by the end of June.

SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE

ITALY CALLS FOR HALT TO ALBANIAN EXODUS. Italian
Prime Minister Romano Prodi has demanded that Albanian
President Sali Berisha and Prime Minister Bashkim Fino put
a stop to the sea-borne exodus of Albanians to Italy (see
RFE/RL Newsline, 28 April 1997). Prodi spoke on the phone
yesterday with the Albanian leaders. A ship carrying more
than 1,000 Albanians arrived in the Italian port of Bari
yesterday, despite the Italian Coast Guard's appeals to the
captain to turn back. Italian authorities say they will treat
most of the Albanians as illegal immigrants and deport
them soon. A well-organized and lucrative traffic in
refugees has reportedly sprung up again in recent weeks.
Professional smugglers buy old ships in Montenegro and
charge those desperate to leave Albania $600 for passage.

ALBANIAN ROUNDUP. The Interior Ministry said in Tirana
on 3 May that five people were killed in recent incidents in
Permet, Berat, and Shkoder. In the Tirana area, Italian
troops participating in Operation Alba made efforts on 2
and 3 May to identify ammunition and weapons dumps (see
RFE/RL Newsline, 2 May 1997). Italian spokesmen denied
that the soldiers were exceeding their mandate and said
that the search was part of their mission to make the area
safe for humanitarian aid shipments. The Albanian
government wants the foreigners to secure the arms and
ammunition depots and the country's borders, but French
and Italian commanders say that is not their job.

SESELJ TO RUN FOR SERBIAN PRESIDENCY. Vojislav
Seselj announced in Belgrade yesterday that he will be the
Serbian Radical Party's (SRS) candidate for president in the
Serbia-wide elections expected later this year. Seselj is a
leader of the SRS and an ultra-nationalist whom the
Croatian, Bosnian, and U.S. authorities have accused of war
crimes. Recent polls show him to be the second most
popular politician in Serbia after President Slobodan
Milosevic. The only other candidates so far are the Serbian
Renewal Movement's Vuk Draskovic and the independent
businessman Bogoljub Karic.

INDEPENDENT CROATIAN WEEKLY FINED. The Split daily
Slobodna Dalmacija wrote yesterday that the Croatian
authorities have fined Feral Tribune $7,000 for running a
cover photo that the authorities called pornographic.
Tomislav Mercep, a local kingpin in eastern Slavonia who
recently broke with the ruling party and headed an
independent slate in last month's elections, was featured in
the photo-montage urinating. The authorities have
frequently harassed Feral Tribune with lawsuits.

CROATIA'S TUDJMAN MEETS WITH BOSNIAN CROAT
LEADER. President Franjo Tudjman and Kresimir Zubak, the
Croatian member of the Bosnian joint presidency, met in
Zagreb on 3 May, an RFE/RL correspondent reported from
the Croatian capital. Zubak said afterward that Bosnian
government ministers will meet with representatives of
the international community soon to discuss the legislation
on which the three Bosnian sides must agree if the
frequently postponed international aid donors' conference
is to take place. On 2 May, the office of Alija Izetbegovic,
the Muslim member of the presidency, announced that a
meeting between Izetbegovic and Tudjman slated for today
has been indefinitely postponed. The pro-government
Zagreb daily Vjesnik reports that the Muslims backed out
of the talks because they do not think Tudjman is ready to
compromise on key points of contention.

BOSNIAN ELECTION UPDATE. The Party of Democratic
Action, the main Muslim political organization in Bosnia,
said on 3 May that it will run in the September local
elections in coalition with five smaller parties. The most
important of those formations is the Party for Bosnia and
Herzegovina of Haris Silajdzic, the Muslim joint prime
minister. Also in Sarajevo, the OSCE announced on 2 May
that some 93 parties have said they will field candidates in
the local elections. Only 48 of those parties ran in last
year's vote; the other 43 are new. The OSCE also said that
the Muslims, Serbs, and Croats have been unable to agree
on election rules for the disputed strategic town of Brcko.

FORMER BULGARIAN INTERIOR MINISTER CLEARED OF
ORDERING JANUARY CRACKDOWN ON
DEMONSTRATORS. The military prosecutor's office on 2
May announced that former Minister of Interior Nikolai
Dobrev, a member of the Socialist Party, did not issue
orders to use violence against the siege of the parliament
by demonstrators in January, an RFE/RL Sofia
correspondent reported. The prosecution also cleared
former Interior Ministry secretary Georgi Lambrov and
former Sofia police chief Krassimir Petrov of committing
any crime in connection with the demonstrations. Some 300
persons had to be hospitalized after police and special
forces broke up the siege of the parliament. The
prosecution said the excessive violence was the result of
individual officers' behavior.

FAILED ASSASSINATION ATTEMPT ON
CONSTANTINESCU, STOYANOV IN SOFIA? The Bulgarian
daily Trud reported yesterday that visiting Romanian
President Emil Constantinescu and his Bulgarian host, Petar
Stoyanov, were the targets of an assassination attempt
during Constantinescu's one-day visit to Sofia last week.
The daily said a home-made device consisting of 700
grams of explosives and an army hand grenade were found
near Sofia's airport, close to where the cars transporting
the two presidents would have needed to slow down
because of a road curve. The daily speculated that the
attack might have been planned by Kurdish terrorists in
retaliation for strict measures implemented in Romania
against the Kurdistan Workers' Party.

U.S. PRESIDENTIAL ADVISER IN BULGARIA. Richard
Shifter, adviser to U.S. President Bill Clinton, met with
interim Prime Minister Stefan Sofiyanski in Sofia on 1-2
May to discuss issues related to intensified regional
cooperation in the Balkans, RFE/RL's Sofia bureau reported.
Sofiyanski stressed that the Balkan countries, especially
Bulgaria and the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, are
important links between Europe and Asia. Meanwhile, the
Bulgarian government has resumed discussions over a
long-delayed project to construct a pipe-line from the
Black Sea port of Bourgas to the Greek Aegean port of
Alexandropolis to transport Russian oil. The issue was
raised again during Bulgarian Foreign Minister Stoyan
Stalev's visit to Greece last week.

AGRICULTURE MINISTERS MEET IN BUCHAREST.
Agriculture ministers from 19 East and Central European
countries yesterday concluded a four-day meeting in
Bucharest, Romanian media reported. The conference is
also attended by experts from the UN. Delegates discussed
ways of increasing agricultural output to match EU levels.
Prime Minister Victor Ciorbea told the conference that his
government envisages amending agricultural legislation
and providing for ownership of up to 200 hectares per
family.

Endnote

CROATIA CONTINUES TO GRAPPLE WITH PRESSING PROBLEMS

by Patrick Moore

        Last month's elections in Croatia reinforced the
governing Croatian Democratic Community's (HDZ) claim that it
is the strongest political force in the country. The ballot
also showed that Serb-held eastern Slavonia is well on the
way to reintegration. The Croatian leadership nonetheless
continues to face several pressing problems.
        The HDZ clinched 42 out of 63 elected seats in the upper
house and scored a similarly impressive victory in the local
elections. The only blot on its performance was the
opposition's gaining control over Rijeka, Split, Osijek, and
some other municipalities. But, in the bitter contest for the
Zagreb city council, the HDZ emerged much stronger than
before. Appropriately, the independent weekly Globus, which
has often crossed swords with President Franjo Tudjman,
showed a picture of him grinning on the cover of its post-
election issue.
        The opposition has nobody but itself to blame for its
poor performance. Many observers expected big losses for the
HDZ, which, according to opinion polls, is increasingly
regarded as authoritarian, ossified, and corrupt. But the
parties that have dominated the opposition scene since
independence paid the price once again for failing to promote
leaders and develop programs that set those formations apart
from the HDZ. In particular, the ex-communist Social
Democratic Party had good reason to celebrate. It bounced
back from near political oblivion to become the opposition
party with the fastest-growing electorate. More and more
voters seem to think that only the Social Democrats are
addressing the electorate's key concern, which is making ends
meet.
        Meanwhile, the vote in eastern Slavonia gave grounds for
optimism that the reintegration of the last Serb-held part of
Croatia will go ahead peacefully when Croatian sovereignty is
re-established in July. Serbs and Croatian refugees turned
out in large numbers to vote. The HDZ emerged the strongest
party, but the Serbian Independent Democratic Party (SSDS)
took several counties and towns. The SSDS narrowly edged out
the HDZ for control over the Vukovar town council, but the
two may cut a deal in order to shut out a third party
controlled by a local Croatian warlord, who is anathema to
the Serbs and the HDZ alike.
        International observers declared the vote both in
eastern Slavonia and in Croatia proper to have been largely
free and fair. One of the few flaws they discovered was the
authorities' continued iron grip on the press in general and
on the electronic media in particular. State-run TV, for
example, provided free publicity to HDZ candidates. While the
HDZ may assert that it won fairly in a free election, that
claim will remain questionable until the authorities open up
access to the air waves and stop harassing the independent
press with dubious legal measures.
        Many problems arise from the daunting task of
reintegrating not just eastern Slavonia but also all former
Serb-held areas retaken by the army in 1995. Money and
resources must be marshaled to restore the infrastructure
after years of war and neglect. Refugees must be resettled in
their homes, many of which are in need of repair or have to
be rebuilt. And ethnic Serbs and Croats have to be convinced
that they have a place in society and should return to their
old homes. Many observers feel that the government would be
only too happy if no Serbs remained in Croatia. But Zagreb
knows that its foreign partners can withdraw vital economic
and diplomatic support if they think that Croatia is openly
discriminating against ethnic minorities. The authorities
will therefore try at least to give the impression that they
are welcoming the Serbs.
        Finally, Croatia's sometimes shaky relations with its
allies in the U.S. and western Europe are also causing
concern in some quarters. Opposition politicians and some
foreign newspapers even talk of Zagreb's growing isolation.
While Croatian Ambassador to the U.S. Miomir Zuzul told
RFE/RL last week that such views are wrong and that Croatia's
international standing is good, an RFE/RL correspondent in
Zagreb called his viewpoint "too rosy." Croatian policy, the
correspondent argues, is torn between reaping the benefits of
economic integration with the West and refusing to
subordinate Croatia's interests at home or abroad to the
political considerations of its allies.



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