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RFE/RL NEWSLINE

Vol. 1, No. 25, Part II, 6 May1997


Vol. 1, No. 25, Part II, 6 May1997

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 SIGNS PROTOCOL ON ABOLISHING DEATH
PENALTY

* SLOVAK AGRICULTURE MINISTER CRITICIZES EU
POLICIES TOWARD ASSOCIATE MEMBERS

* ITALY DEPORTS "UNDESIRABLE" ALBANIANS

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EAST-CENTRAL EUROPE

UKRAINE SIGNS PROTOCOL ON ABOLISHING DEATH
PENALTY. Ukraine has signed the Council of Europe's
protocol abolishing the death penalty, RFE/RL's Strasbourg
correspondent reported yesterday. It also signed the
organization's convention for the prevention of torture and
inhumane treatment. The signature of those two documents
means that a committee of independent experts will now
be able to visit Ukrainian prisons, police stations, and
detention centers. Four months ago, Ukraine's government
proposed a draft law on abolishing the death penalty but
the parliament has yet to pass the legislation.

NUCLEAR REACTOR IN UKRAINE SHUT DOWN FOR
REPAIRS. A reactor at the Khmelnitsky nuclear power
station was taken off line yesterday, Ukrainian media
reported. The reactor is to be closed for more than two
months to allow repairs to be carried out. Three other
reactors in Ukraine are currently undergoing repairs.
Ukrainian officials warned last month that because of
growing debts, Ukraine's five nuclear power plants will be
unable to afford annual overhauling, which is normally
carried out in spring and summer.

LATVIAN PRESIDENT WANTS FUNDS DOUBLED FOR
NATO COOPERATION. Guntis Ulmanis has said that
budgetary allocations for NATO cooperation must be
doubled next year, BNS reported yesterday. Ulmanis was
addressing foreign diplomats in Riga at a 3 May ceremony
marking the seventh anniversary of Latvian independence.
He praised Baltic security initiatives proposed by such
NATO member states as France, Denmark, Norway,
Germany, and the U.S. He also said it is necessary to better
inform the Latvian public about the EU. Recent opinion polls
suggest that Latvians are not very optimistic about the
country's accession to the union.

IMF URGES LITHUANIA TO SPEED UP PRIVATIZATION.
The IMF has urged Lithuania to push forward with
privatization, AFP reported. Julian Berengaut, the head of
the IMF mission in Vilnius, made the appeal in a meeting
yesterday with Prime Minister Gediminas Vagnorius. The
government plans this month to launch a privatization
program that includes auctioning off the
telecommunications network, a shipping company, the
Baltia shipyards, a refinery, an oil terminal, and the
national airline. The IMF has delayed releasing a $30 million
tranche of a 1994 loan worth $186 million because of
concerns about the lack of progress toward privatization in
Lithuania.

FRANCE SUPPORTS POLAND'S EFFORTS TO JOIN EU,
NATO. French President Jacques Chirac yesterday
reiterated his country's support for Poland's bid to join the
EU in the year 2000 and its efforts to enter NATO. Chirac
spoke at a press conference at the close of Polish
President Aleksander Kwasniewski's two-day visit to
France. Referring to the French parliamentary elections
later this month, he said "nothing will happen to change"
France's position on Poland. He also proposed setting up a
working group of officials from the two countries'
presidential offices and foreign affairs and defense
ministries to follow up on EU talks about its eastward
expansion. Meanwhile in Warsaw, Polish and Greek Defense
Ministers Stanislaw Dobrzanski and Akis Tsohatzopoulos
agreed to strengthen military cooperation. Tsohatzopoulos
reaffirmed support for Poland's bid to join NATO.

TWELVE DIE IN POLISH TRAIN ACCIDENT. Twelve people
were killed and 30 injured yesterday when several cars of a
passenger train separated from the locomotive and
crashed into a stationary freight train on a parallel track,
Polish media reported. The accident took place near the
train station at Reptowo, close to the port city of Szczecin.
The cause of the accident is unknown. The train is reported
to have been traveling at 120 kilometers per hour when the
accident took place.

CZECH PREMIER IN AUSTRIA. Austrian Chancellor Viktor
Klima says Austria will support the Czech Republic's bid to
join the EU. Speaking to journalists in Vienna after a
meeting with his Czech counterpart, Vaclav Klaus, Klima
said the Czech Republic was "one of the countries most
prepared for [EU] entry." In his opinion, talks with Prague
should start six months after the close of the current
intergovernmental conference on EU expansion. Klaus and
Klima agreed to prevent long delays at the Czech-Austrian
border by creating special channels to be used only by
Czech and Austrian citizens.

SLOVAK AGRICULTURE MINISTER CRITICIZES EU
POLICIES TOWARD ASSOCIATE MEMBERS. Peter Baco has
sharply criticized the EU for its agricultural trade policy
toward associate member states. Baco told journalists in
Bratislava yesterday that the situation is "shameful." He
noted that "Slovakia exports to EU countries half as much
produce as it did before 1990, while it imports twice as
much as it did before 1990." He added that the situation in
the Czech Republic and other EU associate member states
was similar and reflected the "real commercial interests"
of EU countries. "Our foolishness lies in the rapid decrease
in subsidies to Slovak agriculture, which are currently a
quarter of those in EU countries," Baco remarked.

PORTUGUESE FOREIGN MINISTER IN BRATISLAVA.
Jaime Gama says Portugal is in favor of EU and NATO
expansion including Central European countries. Gama was
speaking to journalists in Bratislava yesterday following
his meeting with Slovak Foreign Minister Pavol Hamzik. He
denied that Lisbon was opposed to EU expansion for fear of
losing European subsidies and remarked that joining the EU
and NATO enabled Portugal to stabilize its economic and
political situation. But he pointed out that all applicants for
EU and NATO membership must first meet certain criteria
related to a political democracy and market economy.

HUNGARY'S DEPUTIES DECLARE ASSETS. Some 350 out
of the country's 384 deputies have submitted statements
declaring assets held by themselves and their immediate
family members, Hungarian dailies report. As of today,
deputies who fail to submit declarations of their assets are
not allowed to vote in the legislature or draw their salaries
as deputies. Socialist deputies Lajos Varga and Laszlo Pal,
who is chairman of the board of the state oil and gas
company MOL Rt., are the only members of the parliament
who have so far decided to give up their seats in favor of
business interests. The Constitutional Court last week
interpreted the law on conflict of interests to include
politicians who took up business positions before 1994.
Under the earlier interpretation of the law, deputies who
held business positions before the last elections were
allowed to keep both posts.

HUNGARIAN PREMIER RESPONDS TO PARTY
DISSENTERS. Gyula Horn says that as long as he is prime
minister, he will "not support any changes in the
government's and the Socialist Party's policies," Hungarian
Radio and Budapest dailies report today. Horn was
responding to the Socialist Democratic Group, a faction of
the Socialist Party, which last week demanded his
replacement as chairman of the party (see RFE/RL
Newsline, 29 April 1997). He said the dissenting members
of the group differ from Smallholders' Party leader Joszef
Torgyan "only in style." Ivan Vitanyi, one of the group's
leaders, reiterated yesterday that the party's chances in
the next elections will improve only if it carries out
personnel changes, including at the top.

SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE

ITALY DEPORTS "UNDESIRABLE" ALBANIANS. Military
spokesmen said in Bari yesterday that 180 Albanians were
deported soon after their arrival on an overcrowded
Montenegrin tanker on 4 May. The spokesmen added that an
additional 300 "undesirable" Albanians from the same ship
will be sent home today. Meanwhile in Tirana, Lt.-Gen.
Luciano Forlani, the commander of the international force,
said foreign troops have calmed the situation in Albania
but are powerless to stop the exodus of refugees.

ALBANIAN POLITICIANS STILL DEADLOCKED. Leaders of
the Democratic and Socialist Parties have again failed to
agree on terms for holding early elections in June, the
official ATA news agency reported yesterday. The
Socialists want the Democrats to endorse a new election
law as a precondition, while the Democrats want the
Socialists first to disband the rebel committees in the
south. The Socialists say they do not control the
committees. Over the weekend, leading independent and
opposition Tirana dailies praised U.S. Secretary of State
Madeleine Albright's invitation to Prime Minister Bashkim
Fino to visit Washington. The papers agreed that the
invitation is a message to President Sali Berisha not to
make trouble for Fino.

VOTER REGISTRATION STARTS IN BOSNIA. Some 420
OSCE offices opened in Bosnia-Herzegovina yesterday to
allow citizens to register for the 13-14 September local
elections. Carl Bildt, the international community's High
Representative, said in the disputed town of Brcko that
registration offices will open there in a few days, an
RFE/RL correspondent reported from Sarajevo. The state-
run media in federal Yugoslavia report that refugees can
sign up for the Bosnian elections in various location in
Serbia and Montenegro. Refugees living outside Bosnia
have until 7 June to register either in person or by mail.
The vote is seen as a last opportunity to reverse "ethnic
cleansing" because refugees can cast ballots that will be
counted in their former home towns.

SERBIAN HOMES TORCHED IN CROAT-HELD AREA. The
UN police and Bildt's office announced in Sarajevo
yesterday that 25 empty Serbian houses were burned in
Drvar over the weekend, an RFE/RL correspondent
reported from the Bosnian capital. Bildt's spokesman added
that unidentified persons had also prepared an additional
25 Serbian dwellings for torching. The UN police say they
will conduct their own investigation because they are
dissatisfied with work of the local Croatian police in such
matters. Local Croatian authorities had earlier agreed that
the Serbs could return in keeping with the Dayton
agreement. Drvar was a mainly Serbian town before the
Croatian-Muslim offensive in 1995. Local Croatian
nationalists want to consolidate their hold on the area,
which is near the Herzegovinian Croat heartland and Croatia
proper.

GERMAN FOREIGN MINISTER SAYS BOSNIAN
RECONSTRUCTION AID DEPENDS ON GOOD BEHAVIOR.
Klaus Kinkel said in Bonn yesterday that "by making
reconstruction help strictly conditional, the international
community disposes of an effective means of fixing bounds
for the fomenters of ethnic tensions. Misguided fanatics
must not be allowed to endanger what has been achieved."
Kinkel spoke in response to the torchings in Drvar, which he
called "alarming." Germany remains the most important
foreign economic influence throughout the former
Yugoslavia.

CROATIAN POLITICAL UPDATE. The pro-government
daily Vjesnik reports today that presidential elections will
take place on 15 June and that the authorities will confirm
the date within a week. Candidates will then have 12 days
to register. Most observers expect President Franjo
Tudjman to be re-elected. Yesterday, he set 12 May as the
date for the opening session of the upper house elected
last month. Meanwhile, the Zagreb county court pardoned
seven ethnic Serbs charged with spying for the federal
Yugoslav army at the start of the war in 1991, an RFE/RL
correspondent reported from the Croatian capital. Two of
the men will still have to face conspiracy charges.

POWER MEETING IN BELGRADE. Federal Yugoslav
President Zoran Lilic, Serbian Prime Minister Mirko
Marjanovic, Montenegrin President Momir Bulatovic, and
several other top officials met with Serbian President
Slobodan Milosevic in Belgrade yesterday, Nasa Borba
reports. No details of the meeting were given. Observers
expect Milosevic to announce soon whether he will seek
the federal presidency or try to run for a third term,
despite the constitutional provision that the holder of that
office may serve for only two terms. Also in Belgrade,
Politika reported yesterday a growth in the murder rate.
Some 40 murders took place this year, compared with 55
for all of 1996. Most such crimes involved an unregistered
firearm and half remain unsolved.

ITALIAN PREMIER BACKS ROMANIA'S BID TO JOIN
NATO, EU. Romano Prodi says his country "irrevocably
supports" Romania's bid to join NATO and the EU, RFE/RL's
Bucharest bureau reported. Prodi, who was in the Romanian
capital yesterday to meet with his counterpart Victor
Ciorbea, expressed his country's gratitude for Romania's
participation in the international force in Albania. He also
held talks with the chairmen of the two houses of
parliament and was received by President Emil
Constantinescu. Prodi is the first Italian prime minister to
visit Romania in 20 years. Italy is Romania's second largest
investor.

ROMANIAN DEPUTY DEFENSE MINISTER TO BECOME
NEW INTELLIGENCE CHIEF? Dudu Ionescu says in an
interview with the independent news agency Mediafax that
he has been asked to become the new chief of the
Intelligence Service (SRI). He did not say who made the
offer but noted he would "have to accept" if it came from
"those authorized" to make it. Under Romanian law, the
president appoints the SRI chief. Sources within the major
governmental party, the National Peasant Party--Christian
Democratic, say Ionescu has the support of party chairman
Ion Diaconescu. But Mediafax says that President Emil
Constantinescu favors Costin Georgescu, a deputy for the
National Liberal Party and former financial manager of
Constantinescu's presidential campaign.

ROMANIAN COAL MINERS LEADER SAYS HIS TRIAL IS
POLITICAL. Miron Cozma, the leader of the coal miners who
rampaged through Bucharest on several occasions in 1990
and 1991, says the accusations against him are "politically
motivated," Romanian media reported on 5-6 May. Cozma is
charged with "undermining state authority" by playing a
leading role in the demonstrations, which triggered the
dismissal of Petre Roman's government in September
1991. He is also charged with the illegal possession of
firearms and other offenses. Cozma said the miners were
manipulated in 1991 by people who knew they would react
violently to wage arrears and who wanted to bring about
changes in the government but did not want to force Roman
out of office. His trial began yesterday in Bucharest and is
expected to last several months.

BULGARIAN INTERIOR MINISTER DENIES
ASSASSINATION ATTEMPT. Bogumil Bonev says there is
no evidence that the bomb found near Sofia airport last
week was planted there to assassinate the presidents of
Bulgaria and Romania (see RFE/RL Newsline, 5 May 1997).
An RFE/RL Sofia bureau correspondent quoted the
caretaker interior minister as saying an investigation is
under way to establish who planted the explosive device
and why.



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               Copyright (c) 1997 RFE/RL, Inc.
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