Для преданного друга нельзя никогда сделать слишком много. - Ибсен
RFE/RL NEWSLINE

Vol. 1, No. 36, Part II, 22 May1997


Vol. 1, No. 36, Part II, 22 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

* SLOVAKIA'S CONSTITUTIONAL COURT SAYS REFERENDUM LEGAL

* ALBANIAN SOCIALISTS WANT ELECTION MONITORING

* TENSIONS RISE ON ALBANIAN-MACEDONIAN BORDER

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EAST-CENTRAL EUROPE

UKRAINIAN, POLISH PRESIDENTS MEET IN KYIV. Leonid Kuchma and his Polish
counterpart, Alexander Kwasniewski, signed on 21 May a declaration of
reconciliation, which is aimed at helping overcome the centuries-long
animosity between the two countries. Kuchma said after the signing that the
moment had arrived to draw a line beneath the two countries' difficult past,
while Kwasniewski noted that conclusions should be drawn from history to
ensure its negative aspects are never repeated. The two presidents also spoke
out against isolating their neighbor, Belarus, which has been criticized in
the West over its human rights record.

BELARUSIAN PRESIDENT COMMENTS ON AGREEMENT WITH RUSSIA. Alyaksandr Lukashenka
said on 21 May he is confident that he and Russian President Boris Yeltsin
will overcome their differences over a Russian-Belarusian union charter at
their 23 May meeting in Moscow. Lukashenka ruled out any federation with
Russia, saying he wants a union of two equal sovereign states. Yeltsin earlier
said the ultimate goal of the union should be the merger of the two countries.


ESTONIA, U.S. INITIAL LEGAL AGREEMENT. Ain Seppik, the director-general of the
Estonian police department, and Richard Owens, the director of the U.S.
Justice Department's international relations bureau, initialed a legal aid
agreement in Tallinn on 21 May, ETA reported. The accord is an amended version
of a 1924 bilateral agreement. It provides for mutual aid in solving criminal
cases, extradition of detained persons, determining the whereabouts of
suspects, and information exchange. Also on 21 May, Prime Minister Mart
Siimann said Estonia will not be deterred by Russian opposition in its bid to
join NATO. Siimann was responding to Russian President Boris Yeltsin's
statement on 19 May that Moscow will reassess its relations with NATO if the
alliance expands to include former Soviet republics. "In determining our
foreign strategy, we have decided not to respond brutally to such
declarations," Siimann said.

RUSSIAN, LATVIAN BORDER TREATY TO BE SIGNED IN 1997? Russian Foreign Minister
Yevgenii Primakov wrote in a 21 May message to his Latvian counterpart, Valdis
Birkavs, that he is hopeful an agreement on the countries' common border can
be signed by the end of the year, Interfax reported. Latvia and Russia agreed
on the treaty text in March but are still drawing up delimitation maps.
Primakov expressed satisfaction with the development of bilateral relations
but showed concern about the problems facing ethnic Russians in Latvia. He
said he hoped that the two sides would discuss this and other issues at the
Baltic foreign ministers conference in Riga in July.

RUSSIAN, LITHUANIAN PRESIDENTS CONFIRM GOOD RELATIONS. In a telephone
conversation on 21 May, Boris Yeltsin and Algirdas Brazauskas confirmed that
bilateral relations are "constructive and good," Reuters reported, quoting a
Lithuanian spokesman. The two leaders discussed the Russia-NATO Founding Act
but did not touch upon Lithuania's bid to become a member of the alliance.
They also discussed their common border and agreed that a Brazauskas's visit
to Moscow in the fall should center on the signing of a border treaty,
Interfax reported.

POLISH INTERIOR MINISTRY PREPARES FOR POPE'S VISIT. Polish Interior Minister
Leszek Miller told journalists in Warsaw on 21 May that authorities will
prevent any group from disrupting Pope John Paul II's visit to Poland from 31
May to 10 June. Gay rights groups and Polish anarchists are planning protests
in Wroclaw, the first stop on the Pope's tour. PAP reported that 33,000
policemen will be on duty during his visit. More than 4 million Poles are
expected to see the Pope, and the Polish parliament is expected to ratify a
treaty with the Vatican during his visit. The Pope is scheduled to meet with
the presidents of Poland, Lithuania, Hungary, Germany, the Czech Republic, and
Slovakia while he is in Poland.

CZECH GOVERNMENT TO COMPENSATE SLOVAK VICTIMS OF HOLOCAUST. The Czech
government announced on 21 May that it is willing to compensate Slovak victims
of the Holocaust for gold confiscated from them and now deposited in Prague,
CTK reported. Gold seized from Slovak Jews by the Nazi regime was deposited in
a Bratislava bank until 1953, when it was transferred to Prague. Czech Prime
Minister Vaclav Klaus, however, told journalists that his government still has
to decide who should be compensated and in what way. Klaus argued the biggest
problem is that the original owners of the gold have no descendants or legal
heirs. Klaus has proposed that the Slovak government be involved in the
process and provide about a third of the compensation.

SLOVAKIA'S CONSTITUTIONAL COURT SAYS REFERENDUM LEGAL. The Constitutional
Court has ruled that a referendum on direct presidential elections is legal
and that a change to the constitution can be the subject of a referendum. But
it also ruled that if citizens vote to change the constitution in favor of
direct presidential elections, the question remains of how the actual change
to the basic law would be made. The referendum is to be held 23-24 May.
Despite the court ruling, Interior Minister Gustav Krajci ordered on 21 May
that referendum ballot papers be printed omitting the question on direct
presidential elections. Krajci told journalists he has decided to assume
responsibility for issuing ballot papers with only the three questions about
NATO membership. The ballots with four questions--including the question on
direct presidential elections--have in the meantime been distributed on the
orders of the Central Referendum Commission.

SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE

ALBANIAN SOCIALISTS WANT ELECTION MONITORING. Socialist Party leader Fatos
Nano said in a declaration in Tirana on 21 May that his party will take part
in the 29 June elections if the international community monitors them.
Socialist Prime Minister Bashkim Fino made the same point in a letter to Franz
Vranitzky, the OSCE's special envoy to Albania. It is unclear whether the
smaller parties agree, since their main concern is not monitoring but rather
increasing the number of parliamentary seats elected by proportional
representation. Meanwhile, Fino is continuing talks aimed at securing an
all-party agreement on the elections.

OSCE DECIDES ON ALBANIAN ROLE. OSCE officials discussed in Vienna on 21 May
what that organization will do if Albanian political parties fail to reach an
overall pact on holding elections. Vranitzky announced on 22 May that the
Albanian parties have reached such an agreement, but no details have been
given. One OSCE participant called the 29 June date a "total fantasy" in view
of the anarchy prevailing in much of Albania. Other participants noted,
however, that there is little hope of ending the turmoil or disbanding the
rebel committees without an early vote. Vranitzky, Italian leaders, and other
representatives of the international community have hinted that they are
running out of patience and that outside aid to Albania will cease if there
are no elections.

TENSIONS RISE ON ALBANIAN-MACEDONIAN BORDER. The Macedonian Defense Ministry
said in Skopje on 21 May that armed incidents are increasing along the
Albanian frontier. The worst single case was a four-hour gun battle between
Albanian bands and Macedonian security forces near Debar on 19 May. Defense
Minister Blagoje Handziski visited the area the next day and promised to step
up security along the border, which is already officially closed. In an other
incident, a peacekeeper was wounded on 20 May by shots fired from the Albanian
side of the frontier.

U.S. URGES GERMANY TO HOLD OFF ON DEPORTING BOSNIANS. State Department
spokesman Nicholas Burns said in Washington on 21 May that "the United States
strongly supports the voluntary return of refugees and displaced persons to
Bosnia. [But Washington also believes] that it is premature to return forcibly
Bosnians to areas where their ethnic group is in the minority." The next day,
German Interior Minister Manfred Kanther said that Germany does not need any
advice from abroad. The State Department also announced the appointment of
David Schefferas special envoy to deal with war crimes. He is currently an
adviser to Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, who will visit Sarajevo at
the end of the month. Meanwhile, U.S. charge d'affaires in Belgrade Richard
Miles heard complaints from Sandzak human rights activists in Novi Pazar on 21
May.

TUNNELS FOUND IN MOSTAR. Local Croatian authorities said in Mostar on 21 May
that they have discovered a "catacomb" of tunnels under a road separating
Croatian and Muslim positions on the west bank of the Neretva. The officials
did not speculate on the purpose of the network, an RFE/RL correspondent
reported from Herzegovina's main town. In Sarajevo, four non-nationalist
opposition parties said they will run a joint slate in the September local
elections. Spokesmen added that their goal is to keep control of Tuzla and win
at least one of the districts of Sarajevo. The parties' "shadow government"
includes people from either side of the inter-entity frontier.

CROATIA PROTESTS TO HAGUE COURT. Justice Minister Miroslav Separovic sent an
open letter to the war crimes tribunal on 21 May charging that the court
violated Croatian sovereignty by conducting investigations in the country
without the government's permission. Also in Zagreb, Foreign Minister Mate
Granic said that Croatia needs $3 billion in foreign assistance to help
resettle returning Serbian refugees. In Vukovar, UN officials stated that
fewer people than expected took advantage of a three-day program to exchange
Yugoslav dinars for Croatian kunas (see RFE/RL Newsline, 19 May 1997). The
officials added, however, that most local Serbs are using "other mechanisms"
to convert their dinars to Croatian currency.

SERBS DISCUSS KOSOVO. Representatives of several political parties met in
Kosovo's Decani monastery and agreed that the province must remain part of
Serbia and that the ethnic Serbs there must enjoy full rights. The parties
also called for a democratic, peaceful solution to the Kosovo problem. Neither
the governing Socialists nor Vojislav Seselj's Radicals attended the meeting,
BETA noted. Meanwhile in Belgrade, Bratislava Morina, the federal official in
charge of refugees, said that only 10% of the Bosnian refugees entitled to
register to vote for the September elections have done so. Morina called for
an extension of the registration deadline and said refugees' fears that voting
will lead to deportation to Bosnia are "unfounded."

ROMANIA, UKRAINE TO SIGN TREATY NEXT MONTH. The basic treaty initialed between
the Romanian and Ukrainian foreign ministers on 3 May (see RFE/RL Newsline, 5
May 1997) will be signed by the two country's presidents, Emil Constantinescu
and Leonid Kuchma, on 2 June in the Romanian Black Sea port of Constanta. The
announcement was made by President Kuchma in Kyiv and was confirmed by the
Romanian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman. On the same occasion, the signatories
will exchange letters detailing the agreed solutions to problems not mentioned
in the treaty. Among these are the non-deployment of offensive weapons by
Ukraine on the Black Sea Serpents Island, navigation on the Chilia branch of
the Danube River delta and the delimitation of the continental shelf around
Serpents Island. In the treaty itself, the two countries recognize present
frontiers as inviolable and grant extensive rights to each other's national
minorities.

ROMANIA REFUSES ENTRY TO U.S.-EXPELLED NAZI. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs
says Nikolaus Schiffer lost his Romanian citizenship when he joined the German
SS in 1943 and will not be allowed back in the country. The U.S. Justice
Department announced earlier this week that it would deport Schiffer, who was
a concentration camp guard during World War II, to Romania (see RFE/RL
Newsline, 20 May 1997). RFE/RL's Bucharest bureau reports that the ministry's
spokeswoman said on 21 May that Schiffer lost his Romanian citizenship in line
with the provisions of a 1939 law that prohibited service in foreign armies.
She said Romania had on these grounds rejected a U.S. request in 1995 to allow
Schiffer to return and had not been approached since.

BELL HELICOPTER MAIN SHAREHOLDER IN ROMANIAN COMPANY. The U.S. Bell Textron
Helicopter company has acquired 70% of the shares in the Brasov IAR aircraft
company, RFE/RL's Bucharest bureau reported on 21 May. The remaining shares
are to be held by IAR employees. An agreement signed the same day in Bucharest
stipulates that the Bell Textron IAR subsidiary will produce 96 Cobra
helicopters, to be called AH-1 Ro Dracula, for the Romanian Defense Ministry.

MOLDOVAN PARLIAMENT REFUSES CHANGE TO HOUSE RULES. The parliament on 21 May
rejected an initiative to change house rules to allow deputies who have left
the faction on whose lists they were elected to form new factions, Infotag
reported. The initiative was submitted by 18 members of the house who, at
different times, quit their parties. The largest number of supporters were
defectors from the Democratic Agrarian Party of Moldova and from the Socialist
Unity-Edinstvo faction. Opponents of the initiative said it would encourage
factionalism and thereby complicate and even paralyze the work of the
legislature.

BULGARIAN PARLIAMENT APPROVES NEW CABINET. The parliament on 21 May confirmed
Prime Minister Ivan Kostov's government by a vote of 179 to 55. All deputies
present, except for the opposition Socialists, voted in favor. Kostov told
legislators that the "years of false reform" and "officially-sanctioned theft"
have come to an end. He said his cabinet would immediately set to work to
"bring Bulgaria into the 21st century as a civilized European country." The
immediate priority of the government, he said, is to stabilize the national
currency by tying the domestic money supply to foreign exchange reserves. The
government would also privatize many state companies, sell off state banks,
cut bureaucracy, and intensify the struggle against organized crime. Kostov
said joining the EU and NATO are the country's main foreign policy goals.

BULGARIAN PREMIER DEMANDS RESIGNATION OF BANK CHIEF. In his first act as
premier, Ivan Kostov on 21 May demanded the resignation of State Savings Bank
(DKS) chief Bistra Dimitrova. Dimitrova said she will resign by the end of the
week. She was appointed to head the bank, where most Bulgarians keep their
savings, by the previous Socialist-controlled parliament. An RFE/RL Sofia
correspondent says Kostov's demand indicates his intention to do away with
credit policies at state banks that are alleged to be politically-biased. The
DKS is blamed for issuing bad loans to companies with links to the former
Socialist government and failing to protect the interests of savers.





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