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RFE/RL NEWSLINE

Vol. 1, No. 29, Part II, 13 May 1997


Vol. 1, No. 29, Part II, 13 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
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Headlines, Part II

* BELARUSIAN PRESIDENT IN KYIV

* ALBRIGHT SAYS ALBANIAN ELECTIONS MUST GO
AHEAD

* INTERNATIONAL COMMUNITY WARNS CROATIA

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EAST-CENTRAL EUROPE

BELARUSIAN PRESIDENT IN KYIV. Alyaksandr
Lukashenka arrived in the Ukrainian capital yesterday for a
two-day visit. Speaking to journalists after a meeting with
Lukashenka, President Leonid Kuchma hailed a border
agreement signed by the two leaders during their meeting.
Lukashenka said the agreement is as an example of how
governments can and should solve disputes. The two
leaders also signed documents on economic cooperation
and overcoming the aftermath of the 1986 Chornobyl
nuclear accident. Kuchma admitted that differences arose
over Belarus's debt to Ukraine. Commenting on the
proposed union between Moscow and Minsk, Kuchma said
such an arrangement was the right of sovereign nations and
their peoples.

COUNCIL OF EUROPE OFFICIAL VISITS UKRAINE. Leni
Fischer, president of the Parliamentary Assembly of the
Council of Europe, arrived in Kyiv yesterday for talks with
President Kuchma and Prime Minister Pavel Lazarenko.
Fischer told journalists she plans to discuss with the
Ukrainian leaders issues that are likely to be discussed at
a Council of Europe summit in October. Ukraine's failure to
enact a law abolishing the death penalty is expected to be
among topics for discussion at that summit.

EU OFFICIAL CONCERNED ABOUT POSSIBLE RIVALRY
AMONG BALTIC STATES. EU Commissioner for Industry
and Telecommunications Martin Bangemann has expressed
concern about possible rivalry among the Baltic States
over prospects for joining the EU and NATO, ETA reported.
He met in Tallinn yesterday with Prime Minister Mart
Siimann, European Affairs Minister Andra Veidemann, and
other officials. Siimann assured Bangemann that Estonia,
Latvia, and Lithuania are agreed that the participation of
just one Baltic country would boost the membership
prospects of the other two. Also in Tallinn yesterday, the
interior ministers of Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania set up a
group to coordinate efforts in fighting drug-trafficking,
BNS reported. The coordination group has been established
at the recommendation of the UN drug control program,
which wants to donate further aid to the Baltic States
together.

UPDATE ON CONTROVERSIAL FUEL DEAL IN LATVIA.
Prosecutor-General Janis Skrastins says that although the
fuel supply agreement concluded by the Defense Ministry
is clearly disadvantageous to the state, it does not
contravene existing regulations (see RFE/RL Newsline, 9
May 1997), BNS reported. Defense Minister Andrejs
Krastins resigned yesterday over the deal at the
insistence of Prime Minister Andris Skele, while Ministry
State Secretary Einars Vaivods submitted his resignation
voluntarily. Minister of Justice Dzintars Rasnacs has been
named acting defense minister, RFE/RL's Latvian Service
reports. All documents related to the case will be
examined by the Department for the Protection of
Individual and State Rights. Also yesterday, the Defense
Ministry terminated the controversial fuel supply
agreement, which was concluded with a subsidiary of the
Man-Tess firm and provided for 2,900 tons of diesel fuel to
be supplied to the Navy. Skele suggested last week that
the deal smacked of corruption.

JAPAN PLEDGES ECONOMIC AID TO LITHUANIA.
Japanese Foreign Minister Yukihiko Ikeda has promised to
increase economic aid to help Lithuania in its efforts
toward democracy and a market economy, BNS and AFP
reported. Ikeda met in Tokyo yesterday with Lithuanian
President Algirdas Brazauskas, who reaffirmed Lithuania's
bid to join the EU and NATO. Also yesterday, Lithuanian
Transport Minister Algis Zvaliauskas announced that
Pakistan's Bhoja Airlines Limited intends to buy 11
Russian-made Yak-42 planes from Lithuania's state-owned
airlines (LAL), Interfax reported. He said LAL plans to use
proceeds from the $17 million deal to purchase new
Western-made aircraft.

CZECH SENATE CHAIRMAN CRITICIZES LACK OF
CONTACTS BETWEEN KLAUS, MECIAR. Petr Pithart
yesterday criticized the lack of contacts between Czech
Premier Vaclav Klaus and his Slovak counterpart, Vladimir
Meciar. Pithart told journalists that the two leaders "owe"
each other eight meetings. "Four years ago [Klaus and
Meciar] met for the last time and promised that they would
meet twice a year," he said, noting that problems have
accumulated in the meantime and created tensions
between the two countries. Pithart also said the situation
was tense due to the Czech Republic's expected
membership in NATO. He commented that it would be a
"very serious thing" if NATO's border ran along the Czech-
Slovak border.

NEW CZECH MINISTER NAMED. President Vaclav Havel
yesterday named Tomas Kvapil as minister for local
Development, Czech media reported. Kvapil, a member of
the Christian Democratic Union/People┘s Party, replaces
Jaromir Schneider, who resigned last week under pressure
from his party. Kvapil previously served as deputy prime
minister for local development.

SLOVAK OPPOSITION CAMPAIGNS FOR NATO
MEMBERSHIP. Leaders of several opposition parties in
Slovakia yesterday appealed to the public to take part in
the 23-24 May referendum on Slovak membership in NATO
and on direct presidential elections. Speaking at a rally in
Presov, Christian Democratic Movement Chairman Jan
Carnogursky, Democratic Union Chairman Eduard Kukan, and
Jan Langos, a leader of the Democratic Party, stressed that
Slovakia's future depends on the results of the referendum.
Carnogursky added it is already obvious that Slovakia is
becoming isolated abroad. "If the public rejects NATO
membership, [our] isolation will further deepen," he noted.

HUNGARIAN PREMIER WANTS GRAND COALITION. Gyula
Horn says an anti-extremist grand coalition should be
formed after next year's parliamentary elections, when the
country will face the decision on joining NATO and the EU,
Reuters reported. Horn told journalists that "four or five
parties will be represented in the next parliament and
inter-party squabbling should be subordinated to the
interests of the country." The agency said polls show that
Horn's Socialist Party and its coalition ally, the Free
Democrats, have lost much of their electoral backing as a
result of the government's austerity policy. They now trail
the opposition Smallholders Party and the Young
Democrats. Horn said non-extremist parties should be
"aware of one another" and take into consideration
"Hungary's image abroad."

HUNGARIAN CHRISTIAN DEMOCRATS POSTPONE
DECISION ON TWO-PARTY COALITION. Christian
Democratic People's Party (KDNP) leaders say Hungarian
Democratic Forum President Sandor Lezsak's proposal
calling for the two parties to form a joint parliamentary
faction is untimely, Hungarian dailies report today. At a
KDNP faction meeting yesterday, faction leader Tamas
Isepy said an electoral alliance of only two parties would
limit the opposition's chances in the 1998 parliamentary
elections. The final decision on the proposal will be made
at the faction's next meeting, scheduled for later this
month.

SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE

ALBRIGHT SAYS ALBANIAN ELECTIONS MUST GO
AHEAD. U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright told
Prime Minister Bashkim Fino in Washington yesterday that
the early elections slated for 29 June must proceed. State
Department spokesman Nicholas Burns said her message is
that "the U.S. and Europe will not tolerate attempts by one
party or faction to delay or obstruct the important
process of the preparations for the elections."

ALBANIAN POLITICAL PARTIES STILL DEADLOCKED ON
ELECTION LAW. The ten parties in the coalition
government failed again in Tirana yesterday to agree on a
new election law. The final text must reach President Sali
Berisha by 15 May if elections are to take place on 29 June,
because Albanian law requires 45 days' notice before such
a ballot. Meanwhile in Brindisi, Italian authorities announced
that a salvaging company has found the wreck of the
Albanian tug that sank on 28 March with more than 80
people on board. And in Rome, police stated that a dragnet
yesterday against Albanian smugglers resulted in the
detention of 126 illegal migrants and the seizure of $34
million worth of marijuana.

INTERNATIONAL COMMUNITY WARNS CROATIA. The
ambassadors of the Contact Group countries called on
Croatian Foreign Minister Mate Granic in Zagreb yesterday
to strengthen his country's ties with Bosnia-Herzegovina,
an RFE/RL correspondent reported from the Croatian
capital. Earlier, U.S. Ambassador to Croatia Peter Galbraith
gave President Franjo Tudjman a letter from U.S.
counterpart Bill Clinton urging Tudjman to improve
relations with Sarajevo and Belgrade. The U.S. president
also insisted that Zagreb cooperate fully with the Hague-
based war crimes tribunal. He promised to help Croatia
achieve integration in Western political and military
institutions if Tudjman complies. If he does not, Washington
will block Croatia's relations with the IMF, Clinton said.
Domestic and foreign critics have accused Tudjman of
seeking economic integration with the West while
maintaining his foreign policy.

GEN. JOULWAN WANTS MORE TROOPS FOR BOSNIA.
Gen. George Joulwan, NATO's commander in Europe, said in
Washington yesterday that 3,000 more troops from the
alliance may go to Bosnia. He argued that the additional
SFOR soldiers could be necessary to ensure that the
September local elections run smoothly, especially in the
contested regions of Mostar and Brcko. Meanwhile in
Sarajevo, a SFOR spokesman said that Bosnian Gen. Atif
Dudakovic threatened Canadian troops over the weekend
when they tried to confiscate unauthorized anti-aircraft
weapons from the Fifth Corps in the Bihac area.

PLAVSIC SAYS BOSNIAN SERBS WILL NOT START WAR.
Republika Srpska President Biljana Plavsic says the
Bosnian Serbs will never start a new war but that their
army will preserve peace and, if necessary, defend the
Republika Srpska. She noted that the Dayton peace treaty
gives the Bosnian Serbs "a high degree of sovereignty."
Plavsic was speaking at a parade in Prijedor in which some
2,500 soldiers took part to mark Bosnian Serb army day.
Meanwhile in Sarajevo, the government of the mainly
Croatian and Muslim Federation said it is willing to resettle
50,000 ethnic Serb refugees in the Sarajevo, Tuzla, and
Zenica regions, Nasa Borba reports today.

MONTENEGRIN PRIME MINISTER SLAMS BELGRADE. Milo
Djukanovic said in Podgorica yesterday that federal
Yugoslav diplomats in Athens are obstructing payment of
the Greek credits that he recently negotiated for
Montenegro. He accused the diplomats of "shocking
behavior" and of working against the republic's interests,
an RFE/RL correspondent reported from Podgorica. This
development marks a further heightening of tensions
between Djukanovic and Serbian President Slobodan
Milosevic.

SERBIAN MINISTER THREATENS RADIO OVER "LIES."
Borisav Stevanovic, the director of the opposition-run
Radio-Television Kragujevac, told AFP on 11 May that his
company is "proud to be targeted in an attack by a corrupt
and incompetent regime." Serbian Information Minister
Radmila Milentijevic said in an interview with Belgrade's
Dnevni telegraf the same day that the station will have to
"pay for" its repeated warnings to listeners that state-
supplied news bulletins are "lies." She added that Radio-
Television Serbia "must take control of Radio-Television
Kragujevac and bring its management to justice."
Milentijevic also said recently that Serbia has no "need for
radio like Deutsche Welle, Voice of America, and [Radio]
Free Europe." A few months ago, she returned to Serbia
after living in the U.S. for decades and has taken charge of
media policy in the runup to elections due later this year.

NATO LAUNCHES EXERCISE IN MACEDONIA. Some 1,000
soldiers from nine countries began a five-day NATO-
sponsored military exercise in central Macedonia
yesterday. Operation Savior simulates a chemical disaster
caused by an earthquake. NATO-member participants are
Italy, Greece, Turkey, and the U.S.. Soldiers from Albania,
Bulgaria, Slovenia, Romania, and Macedonia are taking part
within NATO's Partnership for Peace program. Hungary,
Poland, and the Czech Republic, all of which are expected to
be included in NATO's first wave of eastward expansion,
have sent observers. This is the first multinational military
exercise to be held in Macedonia.

WORLD BANK PRESIDENT PRAISES ROMANIAN
REFORMS. James Wolfensohn says Romania has made
"enormous progress" toward economic reform in recent
months and notes that there has also been progress in the
realm of social protection. He told a press conference
yesterday that the situation is "less good" in rural areas,
RFE/RL's Bucharest bureau reported. Wolfensohn announced
that the bank will grant Romania loans totaling $625
million, of which $ 330 million will be granted this year.
Prime Minister Victor Ciorbea emphasized at the press
conference that the loans were "considerably larger" than
those originally envisaged. Wolfensohn was received by
President Emil Constantinescu and by the chairmen of the
two chambers of parliament. This was the first visit to
Romania by a World Bank president in 20 years.

CLUJ MAYOR LAYS DOWN CONDITIONS FOR
HUNGARIAN PRESIDENT'S VISIT. Gheorghe Funar says he
will picket a visit planned later this month by Hungarian
President Arpad Goencz unless the guest agrees to
renounce what Funar says are irredentist claims to
Romanian territory, Romanian and Hungarian media report.
Funar said Goencz made those claims in a book on
Transylvania which he wrote a few years ago. Funar is also
objecting to the planned opening of the Hungarian
consulate in Cluj during Goencz's visit. Last week, Funar,
who was dismissed in March as leader of the Party of
Romanian National Unity, wrote to President Emil
Constantinescu to protest the visit.

CHISINAU, TRANSDNIESTER DISAGREE ON
INTERPRETATION OF MEMORANDUM. President Petru
Lucinschi says the 8 May memorandum on normalizing
relations with the separatist Transdniester region
commits both sides to developing "relations within the
framework of a single state." Lucinschi spoke to reporters
in Chisinau after his return from Moscow. But separatist
leader Igor Smirnov said at a press conference in Tiraspol
yesterday that the memorandum recognizes the existence
of "two states." Lucinschi demanded the removal of border
and custom guard posts along the Dniester River by 1 June
and the setting up of joint check points along the Ukrainian
border. He said Tiraspol must now allow schools in the
region that offer "Moldovan-language" instruction to use
the Latin script, BASA-press and Infotag reported
yesterday.

MOLDOVAN PREMIER ON RELATIONS WITH ROMANIA.
Ion Ciubuc says relations between his country and Romania
"go beyond normal ties between neighbors." In an interview
with Rompres ahead of his visit to Romania this week,
Ciubuc said the two peoples' "common historical origin"
transforms their relationship into one of a "special
character" with a "spiritual" dimension. Ciubuc also said
Romanian President Emil Constantinescu's proposal to set
up two "Euroregions" in areas where the Moldovan,
Ukrainian, and Romanian borders converge (introduced in
the recent Romanian-Ukrainian treaty) is a framework for
solving both economic and ethnic-cultural problems.

BULGARIAN ADMINISTRATION TO BE STREAMLINED.
Ivan Kostov, the candidate for premier of the coalition
United Democratic Forces, says he is determined to cut
bureaucracy and make administration efficient. RFE/RL's
Sofia bureau reported yesterday that Kostov said
administrative reform will be financed by a $700 million
grant from the EU's Phare program. He said streamlining
means that government employees can do more work in
less time.

BULGARIAN CARETAKER PREMIER QUESTIONS
BULGARGAS CLAIMS ABOUT GAS RESERVES. Stefan
Sofiyanski says he "seriously doubts" the claims of
Bulgargas director Petar Sabaev that the country has
enough natural gas reserves for the next 20 years.
Stoyanov spoke yesterday in response to a statement by
Sabaev one day earlier, an RFE/RL correspondent in Sofia
reported. During a visit to Moscow last month, Stoyanov
signed an agreement on imports and pipeline transit of
Russian gas through Bulgaria, but the agreement did not
specify prices or fees. Sabaev also announced that
Bulgargas has started negotiations with the U.S. company
ARCO for joint exploitation of reserves in four different
locations, which, he said, were "a trade secret."

END NOTE

THE KOSOVO SHADOW STATE AND ITS INVISIBLE
PARLIAMENT

by Fabian Schmidt

        In late May, the Kosovar shadow-state parliament┘s
term was due to run out, five years after the underground
vote that elected it. Shadow-state President Ibrahim
Rugova recently extended the parliament's mandate by
decree and said new elections will be held by 24 December.
His Western backers, however, would prefer that the
Kosovars give up the shadow state completely and return
to Serbian political life.
        The parliament, which came to power on 24 May 1992
in elections considered illegal by Belgrade, has never
convened. Police blocked the one attempt to hold an
opening session of the legislature, which took place soon
after the vote. Since then, deputies have repeatedly met in
small groups and Kosovar political parties have sought to
maintain a consensus among themselves by setting up a
multi-party coordination council. But Rugova┘s Democratic
League of Kosovo has used the council to dominate the
shadow-state┘s political life. And the shadow state, for its
part, has repeatedly failed to pump life into its legislature.
        Owing to the deadlock between Pristina and Belgrade,
opposition parties within Kosovo have stepped up pressure
to give the underground legislators more responsibility.
They argue that the inability of the shadow state to form
internal democratic structures and debate its strategy
contributes to its political failure. Adem Demaci, leader of
the opposition Parliamentary Party and a leading human
rights activist, has gained the support of 57 deputies to
demand that the parliament finally meet. But the backing of
at least 66 out of a total of 130 legislators is needed for
that move, and it is unlikely that Rugova and his party will
support Demaci in this initiative. Rugova, in fact, has made
clear that the legislators will continue to meet in
committees only.
        Previously, Demaci had said he would run against
Rugova but at the same time had expressed doubts about
holding new elections. The independent Pristina weekly
Koha quoted him as asking rhetorically at a press
conference in late April: "Who would organize [new
elections] and who would have the moral right to hold
[them]?" He added that ´the people would become the
victim of our political games└ if such a vote were held.
        The shadow state is now faced with a growing
dilemma. On the one hand, it has presented itself over the
past five years as the legitimate, democratically elected
representative of Kosovo┘s population. But at the same
time, it has failed to inject life into its most fundamental
democratic institution. Furthermore, the exile government
of Prime Minister Bujar Bukoshi has been convening since
1990 but has no accountability to the legislature. That
government was appointed by deputies of the former
communist-era parliament and has since financed the
shadow-state┘s underground education and health systems
by collecting taxes from Kosovars working abroad.
However, it has had little influence on Rugova's policies and
has been constantly plagued by turf wars.
        At the same time, the West is increasingly pressuring
the Kosovars to recognize that they do not enjoy
international support in their desire for independence from
Serbia and to tailor their policies accordingly. At a
meeting with Rugova last week, Richard Miles, the U.S.
charge d'affaires in Belgrade, made clear that the U.S. does
not support new underground elections. Rugova┘s decision
to postpone the ballot again for half a year may have been
prompted by Miles┘s admonitions, but Rugova may also
have opted for a December vote because he believed it
was impossible to organize an underground election
sooner.
        Whatever the case, all countries concerned, including
Albania, have accepted that a solution must be found within
the framework of a democratic Serbia and through peaceful
negotiations. Observers argue that the Kosovars need to
launch a discussion about their political goals and how to
achieve them. They also say that, like the Serbs, the
Kosovars need to develop democratic institutions through
which they can debate difficult and controversial issues.
With or without new elections, the underground parliament
could become such a forum.





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