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RFE/RL NEWSLINE

Vol. 1, No. 41, Part II, 29 May1997


Vol. 1, No. 41, Part II, 29 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, RUSSIA SIGN AGREEMENTS ON BLACK SEA FLEET

* BELARUSIAN PRESIDENT READY TO TALK WITH OPPOSITION

* ALBANIAN CONSTITUTIONAL COURT OVERTURNS GOVERNMENT DECISION TO SACK POLICE
CHIEF

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EAST-CENTRAL EUROPE

UKRAINE, RUSSIA SIGN AGREEMENTS ON BLACK SEA FLEET. Russian Prime Minister
Viktor Chernomyrdin and his Ukrainian counterpart, Pavlo Lazarenko, signed on
28 May agreements on the division of the former Soviet Black Sea Fleet and the
conditions for stationing the Russian part on Ukrainian territory, ITAR-TASS
reported. Ukrainian President Leonid Kuchma attended the signing ceremony in
Kyiv. Chernomyrdin told reporters later that Ukraine had agreed to allow
Russia to keep its share of the fleet at Sevastopol for the next 20 years.
During that period, Ukraine will lease port facilities to Russia. He said the
documents also addressed the technical and financial aspects of the stationing
of the Russian and Ukrainian parts of the fleet on the Crimean peninsula. In
addition, Chernomyrdin and Lazarenko signed agreements on long-term economic
and technical cooperation. Russian President Boris Yeltsin is scheduled to
visit Kyiv on 30-31 May to sign a wide-ranging political treaty with Ukraine.

BELARUSIAN PRESIDENT READY TO TALK WITH OPPOSITION... Alyaksandr Lukashenka
told a news conference on 28 May he is ready to open talks with the opposition
on possible changes to the constitution. Adopted in November 1996 in a
controversial referendum, the constitution gave broad powers to Lukashenka,
who has imposed restrictions on opposition parties and media. The opposition
has refused to recognize the text. Lukashenka said he was ready to listen to
all opposition proposals for reforming the political system and the
constitution. He urged the opposition to come up with constructive ideas and
to avoid what he called "political clashes."

...SUPPORTS RUSSIA-NATO TREATY. Lukashenka also said he supports the
Russia-NATO treaty, signed the previous day in Paris. But he added that he
regretted that Russian President Boris Yeltsin had failed to inform him about
his decision to re-target nuclear missiles away from NATO member countries. He
also said Yeltsin's statement came "as a bit of a surprise." Lukashenka noted
the treaty had not reduced the "strategic significance of Belarus" for the
defense of the CIS.

ESTONIAN DEPUTIES CRITICIZE PRIMAKOV STATEMENT ON BORDER PACT. Parliamentary
deputy speaker Tunne Kelam says that Russia's opposition to referring to the
1920 Tartu Peace Treaty in an Estonian parliament declaration on the
Russian-Estonian border pact is a "typical pretext not to sign the accord,"
BNS reported on 28 May. Kelam was responding to recent comments by Russian
Foreign Minister Yevgenii Primakov (see RFE/RL Newsline, 26 May 1997). The
Estonian official compared those comments to "previous excuses" not to sign
the agreement such as humanitarian issues and technical problems. Meanwhile,
Prime Minister Mart Siimann told journalists in Tallinn on 28 May that the
summit meeting of the Baltic, Polish, and Ukrainian presidents the previous
day was "in no way directed against Russia." Siimann's statement followed
Russian press reports suggesting the summit had an "anti-Russian tone" and was
scheduled to take place at the same time as the Russian-NATO meeting for a
"certain purpose."

LATVIAN GREENS OPPOSE CONSTRUCTION OF LITHUANIAN OIL TERMINAL. Latvia's Green
Party is opposed to Lithuanian plans to construct an off-shore terminal at
Butinge for the transshipment of oil and oil products, BNS reported on 28 May.
Green Party Co-Chairman Askolds Klavins said that if there were an oil leakage
or an accident at Butinge, the Latvian environment would suffer because winds
and sea currents would spread pollution to the Latvian coasts. The oil
terminal will be situated 1.3 km from the Latvian border with Lithuania. The
total cost of the project is estimated at $260 million.

POLISH COURT CALLS FOR ABORTION LAW TO BE RE-EXAMINED. The Constitutional
Tribunal ruled on 28 May that the abortion law lacks clarity and must be
re-examined by the parliament, RFE/RL's Warsaw correspondent reported. The law
allows women to terminate pregnancies until the 12th week for difficult social
and economic reasons. A court official told journalists that the law poorly
defined what "difficult conditions" meant. A two-thirds majority in the
parliament is needed to override the court's ruling. However, it is unlikely
to do so since the election campaign is under way and abortion is certain to
be a major issue. Parliamentary elections are scheduled to take place in
September.

POLAND SUPPORTS SLOVAKIA'S NATO MEMBERSHIP. Foreign Minister Dariusz Rosati
told journalists in Warsaw on 28 May that "Poland certainly wants to see
Slovakia in NATO even after the recent controversial Slovak referendum." He
added that "it is in Poland's interest to have a nation that is a member of
NATO at its southern border." He noted that Poland wants its "friends" to put
in their domestic affairs in order and enter NATO as soon as possible.

CZECH COALITION ANNOUNCES STABILIZATION PROGRAM, GOVERNMENT CHANGES. Leaders
of the three government coalition parties on 28 May announced radical
stabilization measures aimed at dealing with growing economic problems. Prime
Minister Vaclav Klaus told journalists the new set of austerity measures will
be "painful" and will result a temporary economic decline and rising
unemployment. The measures include budgetary cuts, wage restrictions, and
possibly new import barriers. The coalition leaders also announced that
Education Minister Ivan Pilip will replace Finance Minister Ivan Kocarnik and
Czech Ambassador to London Karel Kuenhl will take over the trade and industry
portfolio from Vladimir Dlouhy. Parliamentary Security Committee Chairman Petr
Necas is Interior Minister Jan Ruml's replacement, and Czech Ambassador to
Germany Jiri Grusa is to become minister of education.

MECIAR SAYS SLOVAKIA CAN STILL JOIN NATO. Slovak Prime Minister Vladimir
Meciar argued in a television debate on 28 May that the door to NATO is not
yet closed for Slovakia. He said it is still being decided which countries
will be invited to the talks on admission. Meciar denied that either his
government or Interior Minister Gustav Krajci is responsible for the failure
of the 23-24 May referendum on NATO membership and direct presidential
elections. He said the referendum was invalid not because it was flawed but
because not enough voters turned out at polling stations. Meanwhile, the
Slovak Foreign Ministry has issued a statement saying that U.S. State
Department spokesman John Dinger's statements on the referendum were rash and
inappropriate (see RFE/RL Newsline, 28 May 1997).

HUNGARIAN-RUSSIAN PROTOCOL ON MINORITIES. Csaba Tabajdi, state secretary at
the Prime Minister's Office, and Russian Minister for Nationalities Vyacheslav
Mihailov met in Budapest on 28 May and initialed an agreement on cooperation
in minority affairs, Hungarian media reported. The agreement says the two
sides will study each other's minority policies and exchange delegations
annually. Tabajdi said that owing to the large ethnic minorities the two
countries have outside their state borders, he considers Russia to be
Hungary's "strategic partner."

SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE

ALBANIAN CONSTITUTIONAL COURT OVERTURNS GOVERNMENT DECISION TO SACK POLICE
CHIEF. Judge Rustem Gjata ruled in Tirana on 28 May that a decision by Prime
Minister Bashkim Fino to sack police chief and deputy Interior Minister Agim
Shehu was illegal, Indipendent reported the following day. Shehu is a member
of the Democratic Party and has often been accused by the opposition of using
the security forces for political purposes. Gjata argued that "the appointment
and sacking of high [security] officers is in the competence of the president
only." Gjata is a communist-era judge whose previous rulings have often been
in line with the policies of President Sali Berisha. Justice Minister Spartak
Ngjela, who supported Fino's decision, has refused to comment on Gjata's
ruling.

SOCIALISTS AGAIN THREATEN ALBANIAN ELECTION BOYCOTT. Fatos Nano repeated
warnings in Tirana on 28 May that his party may boycott the June elections
unless the state of emergency is lifted. Parliamentary speaker Pjeter Arbnori
of the Democrats, however, rejected the idea. He told Dita Informacion that
the state of emergency is no longer as tough as originally and does not hinder
election campaigns or meetings. He also called on the opposition to use their
influence with the southern insurgent committees to persuade them to dissolve
before the ballot.

ALBANIAN SOCIALIST LEADER TO RUN IN VLORA. The Socialist Party leadership
proposed on 28 May in Tirana that Nano run for parliament from Vlora, Dita
Informacion reported the following day. The local party branch in Vlora has
welcomed the idea. Also in Vlora on 28 May, the local organization of the
Democratic Party has said they do not want Berisha to hold an election rally
in the town, which was the center of the anti-Berisha revolt earlier this
year. In other news, monarchist Legality Party leader Guri Durollari announced
in Tirana that his party is ending its electoral alliance with the Democrats,
the Albanian Daily News reported. Some opposition politicians have charged
claimant to the throne Leka Zogu with being too close to Berisha.

ALBRIGHT ADDRESSES YUGOSLAV WAR CRIMES TRIBUNAL. U.S. Secretary of State
Madeleine Albright pledged in The Hague on 28 May to intensify efforts to
catch and bring to justice indicted war criminals from the former Yugoslavia.
Referring to her upcoming visit to that region, she said: "I'm going to be
delivering a new, tougher message to both [Croatian President Franjo] Tudjman
and [his Serbian counterpart Slobodan] Milosevic that their lack of
cooperation is a roadblock...to their full membership in the international
community.... I am confident that a price will be paid for the atrocities that
ravaged Bosnia for four years. Until it paid by those who perpetrated the
crimes, it will be paid by those who protect them." Meanwhile in Sarajevo,
U.S. envoy Robert Gelbard handed over to the Bosnian presidency a letter from
President Bill Clinton pledging tough action to help implement the Dayton
agreement in the coming weeks.

CROATIAN PRESIDENTIAL CAMPAIGN BEGINS. The three candidates approved by the
electoral commission on 27 May launched their campaigns in Zagreb the
following day. President Franjo Tudjman of the Croatian Democratic Community
used the backdrop of a ceremony honoring air force pilots to stress his and
his party's record in achieving independence and sovereignty. The Social
Democrats' Zdravko Tomac and the Liberal-led coalition's Vlado Gotovac each
promised at separate press conferences to call new parliamentary elections
should Tudjman win the 15 June presidential vote. Polls suggest that the best
the opposition can expect to do is to force the incumbent into a second round
of voting.

SERBIAN-CROATIAN UPDATE. Representatives of the leading Croatian Democratic
Community (HDZ) and Independent Democratic Serbian Party met in Vukovar on 28
May to conclude local power-sharing arrangements, an RFE/RL correspondent
reported from the east Slavonian town. The mayor of Vukovar will be a Croat
and the council president a Serb. In Beli Manastir, the mayor will be a Serb
and the council chief a Croat. UN administrator Jacques Klein stepped in to
block the HDZ from shutting out the Serbs and making a deal with a small
hard-line Croatian party in Vukovar. And in Zagreb on 27 May, Foreign Minister
Mate Granic and his Yugoslav counterpart, Milan Milutinovic, signed an
agreement on diplomatic and consular relations. Granic said he is unhappy with
the situation of Croats in Serbia, while Milutinovic insisted that all
Croatian Serbs who want to go home should be allowed to do so. The two
countries will seek to draft by mid-June agreements on border regulations and
on road and rail transportation.

NEWS FROM AROUND FORMER YUGOSLAVIA. The UN Security Council on 28 May voted to
extend the mandate for the 1,100 peacekeepers in Macedonia until the end of
the year. In Ljubljana, Slovenian officials say they have been told by NATO
representatives in Brussels that Slovenia will be included in the first round
of NATO expansion, the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung reported. Prime Minister
Janez Drnovsek, for his part, wrote in the Christian Science Monitor that
Slovenia will bring NATO only benefits and not burdens. In The Hague, Carl
Bildt said on 27 May in his farewell speech as chief international
representative in Bosnia that Europe's poor performance in the former
Yugoslavia since 1991 proved that "only the United States can act and only the
United States can deliver" in the Balkans. In Sarajevo, over 500 foreign and
local companies launched a trade fair to promote the rebuilding of Bosnia's
infrastructure. In Podgorica, the governing Democratic Socialist Party reached
agreement with the opposition Popular Concord coalition on parliamentary
control of the Montenegrin intelligence services.

CLINTON PRAISES IMPROVED ROMANIAN-HUNGARIAN RELATIONS... In a speech in The
Hague marking the 50th anniversary of the Marshall Plan, U.S. President Bill
Clinton on 28 May praised improved relations between Romania and Hungary. He
noted that "in Bucharest, democracy has overcome distress, as Romanians and
ethnic Hungarians for the very first time are joined in a democratic coalition
government." President Emil Constantinescu attended the ceremony.

...WHILE ROMANIAN, HUNGARIAN PRESIDENTS SEND MESSAGE TO CLINTON.
Constantinescu and Arpad Goencz, in a joint letter to President Clinton, say
their countries are "both interested in joining a united Europe built on
democratic values." They thanked Clinton for his support and said that the
"favorable evolutions in Romania in the last months" and the implementation of
provisions of the treaty Hungary and Romania concluded last year have created
"a historic chance for an active partnership" between the two countries. That
partnership, they noted, serves the interests of both the Magyar minority in
Romania and the Romanian minority in Hungary, Rompres reported on 28 May.

ROMANIAN DEFENSE MINISTER ON NATO MEMBERSHIP. Victor Babiuc says his country
is optimistic that it will soon join NATO because of its strategic position
and because Russia has not expressed opposition to the possibility of
Romania's joining the alliance in the first wave of expansion. In an interview
with AFP on 28 May, Babiuc said Romania was "happy" that Moscow "did not raise
any special objections against Romania, as it did for the Baltic countries."
He also said that the "countries of the northern zone of NATO" are beginning
to understand that Romania was the "link which was missing in the southern
flank, from the Atlantic to the Black Sea, all the way to Turkey." Babiuc
added that Romania was a stabilizing factor between the Balkans and the Middle
East, which should be viewed as high-risk zones because of "Islamic
fundamentalism, terrorism, [and] drug trafficking."

RUSSIAN TROOPS COMMANDER IN TRANSDNIESTER SAYS REORGANIZATION OVER. Lt.-Gen.
Valerii Yevnevich, the commander of the Russian troops in Moldova's breakaway
region, said on 28 May that the reorganization of the "operational group" has
ended. He noted that the number of troops in the former 14th Army has been cut
from 5,000 to 1,900, ITAR-TASS and BASA-press reported. Yevnevich harshly
criticized the Transdniester leadership for preventing obsolete Russian
ammunition from being scrapped. Yevnevich and Moldovan Defense Minister
Valeriu Pasat recently agreed that some of the ammunition should be destroyed
at the Ribnita plant in Moldova, which the Transdniestrian leadership opposes.
Yevnevich stressed the armament and the hardware are "Russian federal
property" and only the Russian government can make a decision about it. In
1995, the region's Supreme Soviet declared itself the owner of the Russian
army's property.

BULGARIA PLEDGES TO PRIVATIZE ARMS INDUSTRY. Industry Minister Alexander
Bozhkov says the new Bulgarian government will privatize the entire
military-industrial complex of the country. In an interview with state radio
on 28 May, Bozhkov said the government was aiming to transfer 40% of state
enterprises into private hands by the end of 1997. He also noted that his
ministry is already preparing privatization plans for the state
telecommunications company, the national airline, and the railroads.





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