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RFE/RL NEWSLINE

Vol. 1, No. 37, Part II, 23 May 1997


Vol. 1, No. 37, Part II, 23 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

* PROGRESS IN RUSSIA-UKRAINE FLEET TALKS

* VRANITZKY SAYS ALBANIAN ELECTIONS WILL GO AHEAD

* ALBRIGHT SAYS U.S. HAS LONG-TERM INTEREST IN BOSNIA

End Note : SLOVAK-RUSSIAN ACCORDS RAISE QUESTIONS
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EAST-CENTRAL EUROPE

PROGRESS IN RUSSIA-UKRAINE FLEET TALKS. Volodymyr Horbulin, secretary of
Ukraine's Security and Defense Council, said on 22 May that progress has been
made in talks with Russia over the Black Sea Fleet, Reuters reported. But he
noted that some people in Russia are trying to stop the fleet deal, which is
scheduled to be signed next week. Horbulin said he had a "bad feeling" about
Russian President Boris Yeltsin's planned visit to Kyiv on 30 and 31 May,
which has been canceled six times. "A very active campaign has begun in
Russian circles...aimed at breaking off President Yeltsin's visit," Horbulin
commented. Interfax on 22 May quoted Kremlin spokesman Sergei Yastrzhembskii
as saying the visit would take place as planned but that it was unclear what
documents would be ready for signing.

UKRAINIAN PARLIAMENTARY SPEAKER FILES SUIT AGAINST PREMIER. ITAR-TASS reported
on 23 May that Olexander Moroz has filed suit against Pavel Lazarenko for
retaining his parliamentary mandate while serving as premier. Some 41 deputies
had urged Moroz to take legal action following a ruling last week by the
Constitutional Court that allowed Lazarenko to hold onto his parliamentary
mandate. The court ruled that parliamentary deputies cannot hold government
positions but permitted lawmakers who were elected before June 1995 and held
state office continuously since before that date to keep both jobs. According
to Interfax, Moroz said the clause does not apply to Lazarenko because he was
not appointed to a government position until July 1995, one month after the
cutoff date. The largely anti-reform parliament has been battling with
Lazarenko's government over tax and economic reforms.

CHORNOBYL REACTOR BACK ON LINE. Valeri Idelson, a spokesman for the nuclear
power station in Chornobyl, told journalists on 22 May that the only reactor
still functioning is back on line after a four-day breakdown. Idelson said the
reactor was shut down owing to a still unexplained problem with an electrical
transformer. But no increase in radiation levels around the reactor has been
reported. Chornobyl's fourth reactor exploded 11 years ago, causing the
worst-ever civil nuclear catastrophe.

ITALIAN PRESIDENT IN ESTONIA, LATVIA. Oscar Luigi Scalfaro told his Estonian
counterpart, Lennart Meri, in Tallinn on 22 May that Italy supports Estonian
membership in the EU and NATO, BNS reported. Scalfaro commented that Estonia's
hopes to become an EU member are justified owing to its rapid economic and
political progress. The same day, Estonian Foreign Minister Toomas Hendrik
Ilves and Italian Deputy Foreign Minister Patrizia Toia signed agreements on
the readmission of illegal immigrants and on cooperation in culture,
education, science, and technology. In address to the Latvian parliament on 22
May, before his departure for Estonia, Scalfaro endorsed Latvia's bid for EU
and NATO membership. He said that EU membership would guarantee Latvia's
security vis-a-vis "its bigger neighbor, Russia." He also noted that Italy
wants to see "clear security prospects" for all states in the course of NATO
expansion and after the accord between Russia and NATO is signed.

ESTONIA, POLAND FAIL TO AGREE ON FREE TRADE. A third round of free trade talks
between Estonia and Poland in Tallinn on 21-22 May failed to result in
agreement, an Estonian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman told BNS. She said the two
sides do not see eye to eye on farming questions but gave no further details,
noting only that the negotiations will continue. Tallinn had hoped to reach an
agreement with Warsaw last month. Poland is Estonia's main trade partner in
Central Europe. Bilateral trade totaled some $55 million last year.

LITHUANIAN ROUNDUP. Hundreds of detainees at a refugee camp in the eastern
town of Pabrade rioted late on 21 May to protest poor living conditions and
restrictions on their movements, Reuters reported. Two guards were beaten up
by the detainees, most of whom are from countries such as Pakistan, Sri Lanka,
India, and Iraq. The situation stabilized after riot police were sent to the
camp. A UNHCR representative in Vilnius said the riot highlighted the need for
a less authoritarian regime at the camp. Meanwhile in the capital, some 150
people pitched tents outside the parliament building on 22 May to protest a
proposal to return homes to their pre-Soviet owners. The protesters fear they
will be forced out of their homes, but the government has denied this will be
the case. The law received its first reading the same day.

CZECH POLITICAL DEVELOPMENTS. The parliament on 22 May voted down a draft
resolution by the opposition Social Democrats (CSSD) asking the government to
recall Trade and Industry Minister Vladimir Dlouhy and Finance Minister Ivan
Kocarnik. It also approved the government's economic program, despite the
country's current economic difficulties. Meanwhile, an alternative economic
program presented by the CSSD on 21 May was rejected by Prime Minister Vaclav
Klaus and criticized by leading economists as "socialist." Leaders of the
three coalition parties met on 22 May with President Vaclav Havel to discuss
plans for government changes. Havel told journalists after the meeting that
the country is not in economic and social crisis. The coalition leaders said
they will announce changes in the government within several days. Meanwhile,
the Central Bank on 22 May again spent several hundred million dollars in an
effort to prevent the devaluation of the Czech crown.

VIETNAMESE PRIME MINISTER IN PRAGUE. Vo Van Kiet arrived in the Czech capital
on 22 May for an official two-day visit, the first by a Vietnamese leader in
20 years, Czech media report. The trip is aimed at improving economic
relations between the two countries. During his visit, Vo Van Kiet is to meet
with President Vaclav Havel, Prime Minister Vaclav Klaus, and Foreign Minister
Josef Zieleniec. He and Czech officials are scheduled to sign agreements on
avoiding double taxation and on civil aviation.

SLOVAK PRESIDENT CALLS INTERIOR MINISTER'S ACTIONS ILLEGAL. Michal Kovac on 22
May appealed to the public, mayors, and state officials to respect the Central
Referendum Commission's decision to issue referendum ballots with four
questions--three on NATO membership and a fourth on direct presidential
elections. The previous day, the Constitutional Court ruled that the
constitution can be changed by a referendum, paving the way for including the
fourth question. The court, however, also ruled that if voters endorsed
changing the constitution, it remains unclear how the change would take place.
The government has responded by claiming this means the question on direct
presidential elections is not legally binding and should not be included on
ballots. Interior Minister Ivan Krajci on 22 May ordered that ballots be
printed with only the three NATO questions. Kovac called Krajci's actions
"illegal" and said the "emerging chaos is quite deliberate."

CLINTON SENDS LETTER TO SLOVAK PRESIDENT. In a letter delivered to Kovac and
released to journalists on 22 May, U.S. President Bill Clinton wrote that he
is concerned about Bratislava's slow pace of democratic reform. The letter
hints that Slovakia will not be among the countries invited to apply for
membership in the first wave of NATO expansion. Clinton said Slovakia must do
more to promote an "atmosphere of openness to opposing views and concerns of
minorities." He added that NATO's core principles are clear regarding which
countries will be invited to join at the Madrid summit in July. "Each
prospective member country must demonstrate a commitment and respect for
democratic principles," he noted. Clinton also said the U.S. is "committed to
ensuring that [NATO's] enlargement process will continue after the Madrid
summit."

CLINTON ON TRANSFER OF RFE/RL TAPES TO HUNGARIAN GOVERNMENT. In a statement
released to mark the transfer of tapes of RFE/RL Hungarian-language broadcasts
to the Hungarian government, U.S. President Clinton said that "for more than
40 years, Radio Free Europe has helped keep alive the flame of democracy and
promoted freedom of expression behind the Iron Curtain." Clinton says the
tapes, which will be available to researchers in the National Szechenyi
Library, are a "unique part of the Hungarian cultural heritage." He says the
U.S. "can be proud of the triumph of democracy in Hungary and the role that
Radio Free Europe played in making that possible."

SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE

VRANITZKY SAYS ALBANIAN ELECTIONS WILL GO AHEAD. Voting seems set to go ahead
on 29 June following the Socialists' announcement in Tirana that they will
take part (see RFE/RL Newsline, 22 May 1997). OSCE special envoy Franz
Vranitzky said in Vienna that Socialist Prime Minister Bashkim Fino told him
that the other opposition parties will also participate. Vranitzky added that
the international community will help Albania in its political and economic
recovery. He stressed, however, that the ultimate responsibility lies with the
Albanians themselves, an RFE/RL correspondent reported from the Austrian
capital. Vranitzky told the Sueddeutsche Zeitung that he can well imagine
Operation Alba being extended for three months beyond the elections. He said
that the Albanian political scene contains many "absurdities" rooted in that
country's recent history but that the elections should nonetheless go ahead
because they will contribute to stability.

ALBRIGHT SAYS U.S. HAS LONG-TERM INTEREST IN BOSNIA. Secretary of State
Madeleine Albright said in New York on 22 May that Washington has a lasting
concern over Bosnia's stability and will do all it can to preserve peace and
promote unity there. She warned that the U.S. insists on full implementation
of the Dayton accord and "the parties cannot pick and choose [to enforce only]
those elements they prefer." Albright added that "Bosnians should either join
the effort to make [Dayton] work or get out of the way." She said that SFOR
could expand its role to provide "a secure environment for managed refugee
returns" and to help with civilian reconstruction projects, such as restoring
telecommunications links. However, Pentagon officials stated that NATO already
does such things. State Department spokesman Nicholas Burns added that there
are no plans to keep SFOR troops in Bosnia after their mandate runs out in
June 1998. The New York speech was Albright's first major address on Bosnia as
secretary of state and marks the end of a six-week policy review.

DUAL CITIZENSHIP FOR BOSNIAN SERBS? Nasa Borba reported on 23 May that Serbian
President Slobodan Milosevic discussed federal Yugoslav citizenship for
Bosnian Serbs in his recent meeting with Bosnian Serb leaders. Such a move
would contradict the provision of the Dayton accords saying Bosnia is a
unitary state made up of two entities. Milosevic also wants dual citizenship
for Croatian Serbs but denies it to Yugoslavia's own Albanians, Muslims,
Hungarians, and Croats. In another move that may run counter to the spirit of
Dayton, the Bosnian Serb authorities said on 21 May that they will set up a
company to be called RS Airlines to connect Banja Luka with five or six
neighboring countries.

MILOSEVIC BLASTS FOREIGN CONSPIRACIES AGAINST SERBIA. Milosevic told
supporters in Arandjelovac, in the Serbian heartland of Sumadija, on 22 May
that the "opposition parties with foreign assistance are trying to destabilize
Serbia," an RFE/RL correspondent reported from the area. The Serbian president
also promised his audience that this year their country will enjoy the highest
growth rate in Europe, which, he claimed, will be twice as high as that of any
other country. Independent Belgrade media, meanwhile, suggested that Milosevic
will replenish state coffers before the elections due later this year by
selling off half of the state telephone monopoly to an Italian firm for $923
million.

CROATIAN OPPOSITION UNITES BEHIND LIBERAL PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE. At least six
opposition parties agreed in Zagreb on 22 May to back the Liberals' candidate,
Vlado Gotovac, in next month's presidential elections, an RFE/RL correspondent
reported from the capital. The move in effect narrows down the race to
Gotovac, President Franjo Tudjman of the Croatian Democratic Community, and
the Social Democrats' Zdravko Tomac. Polls suggest that Tudjman will easily
win another term. Also in Zagreb, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov
said Russia wants to extend by six months the mandate for a reduced UN
peacekeeping force in eastern Slavonia. Tudjman insists the mandate end as
scheduled on 15 July.

SLOVENIAN RAIL STRIKE ESCALATES. Railroad workers halted all freight traffic
throughout the country on 23 May after management sacked the members of the
strike committee. The unions say they will stop all trains later in the day if
the strike leaders are not given back their jobs. Also in Ljubljana, President
Milan Kucan said on 22 May that he will seek another term when elections take
place later this year. The 56-year-old Kucan has been in office since 1990 and
was last re-elected in 1992 with 64% of the vote. Meanwhile, the
Constitutional Court has put off a decision on the legality of foreigners
owning land in Slovenia. The issue must be clarified before Slovenia can join
the EU. Many Slovenes fear that Italians with family ties to Slovenia will buy
up land if allowed to do so.

ROMANIAN PRESIDENT IN GREECE. At the beginning of his three-day visit to
Greece, Emil Constantinescu met with his Greek counterpart, Konstantinos
Stephanopoulos, and Premier Costas Simitis on 22 May, RFE/RL's Bucharest
bureau reported. The talks focused on bilateral relations. Stephanopoulos
reiterated Greece's full support for Romania's accession to NATO in the first
wave of expansion. Constantinescu said the two countries are united in a
"strategic political partnership" that may enable them to become an "axis of
stability in the region." The two countries' foreign ministers, Theodoros
Pangalos and Adrian Severin, signed a cooperation memorandum providing for
Greek support for Romania's bid to join NATO and the EU. Greece pledged to
inform other members of the two organizations on Bucharest's progress in the
democratization of its legal, economic, and military systems.

LEADING U.S. LEGISLATORS BACK ROMANIA'S ENTRY TO NATO. Senator Alphonse
d'Amato and Representative Christopher Smith, the joint chairmen of the U.S.
Congressional Helsinki Commission, have called on U.S. President Bill Clinton
to back Romania's quest to become a NATO member in the first wave of
expansion, an RFE/RL Washington correspondent reported. In a letter addressed
to Clinton on 22 May, they say Romania deserves to be invited because of its
recent progress toward meeting admission criteria and because of its strategic
position in what will be NATO's southeastern tier. The U.S. legislators also
say that, in particular, Romania meets the criteria on respect for human
rights, treatment of national minorities, freedom of expression, and a free
press.

ROMANIAN EXTREMIST PARTY ORGANIZES DEMONSTRATION AGAINST TREATY WITH UKRAINE.
The extremist Greater Romania Party (PRM) and several other associations
staged a demonstration in Bucharest on 22 May against the forthcoming signing
of the basic treaty between Ukraine and Romania. PRM leader Corneliu Vadim
Tudor said the government's decision to conclude a treaty that recognizes
Ukrainian sovereignty over northern Bukovina, southern Bessarabia, and the
Herta territory (incorporated into the former Soviet Union in 1940) is an act
of "national treason." He added that the government had no right to sign the
treaty without first submitting it to a national referendum. The demonstrators
carried maps showing the old borders of the country.

DAEWOO ACCUSED OF BREAKING INVESTMENT PROMISES IN ROMANIA. A Romanian
parliamentary commission says the South Korean Daewoo Motor Company has broken
pledges made when it acquired 51% of the ownership of a Craiova car
manufacturer, AFP and Romanian media reported. Daewoo undertook to ensure that
60% of the parts were produced in Romania, but only 10% are in fact produced
locally, the commission said. The commission accuses the Koreans of wanting to
"give work to the South Koreans only" and to "profit from facilities without
honoring its commitments." It says Daewoo has imported 20,000 cars into
Romania at "dumping prices" and benefited from exemption of custom duties
because it declared the cars were spare parts needed for production. A
spokesman for Daewoo said more time is needed to ensure that the pledges
undertaken will be fulfilled.

MOLDOVAN PREMIER ON AGREEMENT WITH WORLD BANK. At a press conference in
Chisinau on 22 May following his return from Washington, Ion Ciubuc said the
memorandum signed by Moldova and the World Bank in the U.S. capital earlier
this week provides for a loan of $100 million, which is to be repaid by
Moldova over 30 years, an RFE/RL correspondent in Chisinau reported. Ciubuc
said that 20% of the loan carries a 2% interest and that the first installment
of the loan, worth some $35 million, could reach Chisinau as early as June.
The loan is conditional on Moldova's reducing the budget deficit to 3% of GDP
by the end of this year, land privatization, demonopolization of the
agricultural and energy sectors, and speeding up the reform of the social
protection and pension systems.

END NOTE

SLOVAK-RUSSIAN ACCORDS RAISE QUESTIONS

by Jolyon Naegele

        Slovakia's 23-24 May referendum on NATO membership comes at a time when
Bratislava's relations with Brussels are strained while its ties with Moscow
are blossoming.
        Slovak Prime Minister Vladimir Meciar and his Movement for a Democratic
Slovakia have not taken a stand on how they would like to see the public vote.
NATO membership is part of his government's 1995 program. But Meciar's two
coalition partners, the nationalist Slovak National Party and the left-wing
Party of Slovak Workers, advocate a "no" vote in the referendum. Opposition
parties are calling on the public to vote "yes."
        The referendum comes just one month after Russian Prime Minister Viktor
Chernomyrdin paid a three-day visit to Bratislava during which he and members
of his delegation signed 16 agreements with Slovakia. Those range from
cooperation in the fields of nuclear energy and military technology to the
supply and transit of Russian natural gas. But none has been published. It
remains to be seen whether any of them will help ease Slovakia's $1.5 billion
trade deficit with Russia.
        The chairman of the opposition center-right Democratic Party of Slovakia
  Jan
Langos, who was Czechoslovak Interior Minister from 1990 to 1992, says
Meciar's policies support the interests of Russia. He notes that the content
of the 16 accords are known, even though the Slovak government has tried to
keep them secret. Langos says that through signing the agreement on military
technical cooperation with Russia, Meciar promised that whatever is to be
produced in Slovakia in cooperation with the Russians cannot be sold on third
markets without Moscow's written agreement.
        Alexander Duleba, analyst of Slovak relations with Russia and Ukraine in
  the
independent Research Center of the Slovak Society for Foreign Policy, says
Russia and Slovakia have concluded 130 agreements since Slovakia became an
independent state in January 1993. In Duleba's opinion, Slovakia's decision to
sign the agreement on cooperation in military technology, which will require
both sides' consent to export to a third market, was prompted by political
rather than economic interests.
        Duleba says "these relations [with Russia] limit Slovakia's ability to
conduct foreign policy." Slovakia and Russia are unequal partners in bilateral
relations, he argues. Duleba also comments that the Meciar government's
pro-Moscow orientation is not based on pan-Slavic ideals of shared values;
rather, it is being conducted by pragmatists who made careers in the Communist
Party until 1989 and who now see the opportunity to enrich themselves. He says
that because of its close relations with Russia, the Meciar government is both
unwilling and incapable of leading Slovakia into NATO and the EU. As Duleba
puts it, "this government is closer to Moscow than to its own people."
        RFE-RL has obtained a draft of the agreement on the protection of state
secrets against leakage to third parties or misuse against the Slovak Republic
and Russian Federation. The draft, which is a "bid to strengthen traditionally
friendly relations and develop mutually beneficial cooperation," says that in
the event of a loss or betrayal of a state secret, the two sides are to hold
immediate joint consultations, organize an investigation, and inform each
other within 90 days after the loss or leak has been discovered. The side
responsible for the loss or betrayal is to pay damages to the other.
        The draft also says that the accord is valid for five years and is
automatically renewable. Terminating the agreement does not relieve the
parties of the duty to protect secrets gained while the treaty was in effect
or to continue to bear responsibility for the loss or betrayal of secrets
covered by the accord.
        Igor Cibula, a leading Slovak intelligence expert who nearly five years
 ago
co-founded Slovakia's intelligence service, the SIS, says this and other
treaties on cooperation in the military sector call into question Slovakia's
declared intention of joining NATO and the European Union.
        Meanwhile, in another pro-Moscow move, the Slovak government has granted
newly established Slovak Airlines the status of "national carrier". The
airline is backed by a Russian-controlled Slovak-registered bank, Devin banka,
which was also involved Russia's transfer of MiG-29 fighters to Slovakia as
partial repayment for outstanding debts. In that deal, Devin banka took a 5%
commission of the equivalent of nearly $10 million.
        Slovak Airlines will fly new, Russian-made Tupolev aircraft. Slovak Airl
 ines
president Viliam Veteska told Slovak TV last week that flights will begin in
late October on routes between Moscow and the Slovak cities of Bratislava and
Poprad.




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