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RFE/RL NEWSLINE

Vol. 1, No. 49, Part II, 10 June 1997


Vol. 1, No. 49, Part II, 10 June 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

* COUNCIL OF EUROPE'S PARLIAMENTARY ASSEMBLY CRITICIZES BELARUS


* ALBANIAN SOCIALIST LEADER PLEDGES TO REPAY PYRAMID MONEY


* ITALIAN COMMUNISTS WANT INVESTIGATION OF ITALY'S ROLE IN ALBANIA


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EAST-CENTRAL EUROPE

COUNCIL OF EUROPE'S PARLIAMENTARY ASSEMBLY CRITICIZES BELARUS. Leni Fischer,
chairwoman of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, told
journalists in St. Petersburg on 9 June that Belarus must abide by the
council's rules if it wants to join that body. Fischer made her comments after
the CE Parliamentary Assembly held its first joint session with the Council of
the Interparliamentary Assembly of the Commonwealth of Independent States.
Meanwhile, Belapan reported on 9 June that the CE Parliamentary Assembly has
invited members of the Belarusian parliament that was dissolved last year to
attend its opening session in Strasbourg on 23 June. The parliament was
disbanded by President Alyaksandr Lukashenka following the controversial
November 1996 referendum, which increased his executive powers and extended
his term in office. The CE responded by suspending Belarus' guest status and
criticizing the changes to the country's constitution.

UKRAINE, IRAN SIGN ECONOMIC AGREEMENT. Iranian Foreign Minister Ali Akbar
Velayati and his Ukrainian counterpart, Hennady Udovenko, signed an economic
cooperation treaty in Kyiv on 9 June and pledged to strengthen bilateral ties.
Velayati, who is on a three-day visit to Ukraine, told journalists that a top
priority for both countries is the development of relations "in the sphere of
energy, oil, and gas." Iran wants to help Ukraine complete both an oil
terminal near its Black Sea port of Odessa and a pipeline linking the terminal
with an existing line that transports oil to Europe. Velayati also visited the
Antonov airplane factory, which recently unveiled a new turboprop passenger
plane to be produced in Iran under Ukrainian license. Udovenko said Kyiv
attaches "great importance" to its relations with Teheran. He predicted that
trade between the two countries, which currently totals $100 million a year,
will rapidly increase.

UKRAINE TO BUILD TWO NEW NUCLEAR REACTORS. Nuclear Safety Minister Yuri
Kostenko says Kyiv will build two new nuclear reactors regardless of whether
they are financed by a loan from the European Bank for Reconstruction and
Development. ITAR-TASS on 9 June quoted Kostenko as saying the reactors will
be built at the Khmelnitsky and Rivne nuclear power plants, in western
Ukraine, even if the EBRD decides against granting Ukraine a loan to help
cover the $1.2 billion project. The new reactors will replace power lost by
closing the damaged Chornobyl nuclear power plant by the year 2000. Kostenko
said talks with the EBRD last week were "constructive." The bank is expected
to announce a decision on the loan later this month.

UKRAINIAN, MOLDOVAN PRIME MINISTERS FAIL TO REACH AGREEMENT ON TRANSITING
GOODS. Pavel Lazarenko and Ion Ciubuc, meeting in Chernovitsy on 6 June,
failed to resolve the problem of Moldovan exports transiting Ukraine. Infotag
reported on 9 June that the two premiers will discuss the problem again during
Lazarenko's scheduled visit to Chisinau on 22 June. In April, Ukraine imposed
a tax deposit on Moldovan goods transiting its territory in order to prevent
the illegal sale of the goods in Ukraine (see RFE/RL Newsline, 9 June 1997).

BALTIC, NORDIC DEFENSE HEADS MEET IN ESTONIA. Defense Ministers Andrus Oovel
(Estonia) and Ceslovas Stankevicius (Lithuania) and Defense Ministry State
Secretary Edgars Rinkevics (Latvia) have expressed the desire that NATO take
"clear and concrete decisions" on all countries seeking membership and issue
guarantees that those states not included in the first wave of expansion will
have opportunities to join later, BNS and ETA reported. They were meeting with
the defense ministers of Denmark, Norway, Sweden, and Finland on the Estonian
island of Saaremaa on 9 June. Denmark's Hans Haekkerup said his country will
pressure NATO for admittance of the Baltics as new members. Oovel commented
that the Baltic States are hoping Norway will assume a position alongside
Denmark. The meeting is to conclude with the signing of a joint communique on
10 June. Latvian Defense Minister Talavs Jundzis decided not to attend the
gathering because he was only recently appointed to that post.

LATVIA TO REPAIR WWII MONUMENT. Riga Mayor Andris Berzins told journalists on
9 June that the local authorities will repair the damage caused to the
controversial World War II victory monument in a blast three days earlier (see
RFE/RL Newsline, 6 and 9 June 1997), BNS and Reuters reported. One person was
killed in the blast, and much of the base of the monument was shattered.
Berzins said that a commission of experts will be set up to assess the damage
but added that the city may have to appeal to the state for funds. He also
ruled out demolishing the monument, which is loathed by many Latvians as a
symbol of the Soviet occupation of their country. Russia had strongly
criticized the bombing and said that Moscow would judge Latvia's interest in
developing bilateral relations by its response to the incident.

LITHUANIAN PARLIAMENTARY CHAIRMAN SHARPLY CRITICIZES RYBKIN STATEMENT.
ITAR-TASS reports that Vytautas Landsbergis has strongly condemned Russian
Security Council Secretary Ivan Rybkin's recent statement that Russia plans to
increase its "defense capability" in the Baltic region (see RFE/RL Newsline, 9
June 1997). Rybkin made the comment during a visit to a naval base in
Kaliningrad on 6 June. Landsbergis told journalists in Vilnius three days
later that any intention to build up the military in the oblast would
contradict the "spirit and the content" of the recently signed Founding Act
between Russia and NATO. He also noted that Kaliningrad already has a large
"offensive army of paratroopers, missiles, navy, and nuclear weapons."

LITHUANIA RECEIVES INVESTMENT GRADE RATING. The Finance Ministry announced on
9 June that Lithuania has received its first investment grade rating from an
international agency, BNS and dpa reported. Previously, the country had
received only speculative ratings. The U.S.-based Standard and Poor's put
Lithuania's long-term debts at BBB- and long-term debts in local currency at
BBB+. Finance Minister Algirdas Semeta told journalists in Vilnius that
Standard and Poor's rating comes ahead of a new emission of Lithuanian
treasury bills in mid-July, to be handled by the U.S. bank J. P. Morgan. He
added that the new rating is expected to substantially reduce Lithuania's
borrowing costs.

POPE PRAISES DOCTORS WHO REFUSE TO PERFORM ABORTIONS. Pope John Paul II on 9
June praised Polish doctors who refuse to perform abortions, Reuters reported.
The Pope said at a ceremony at a Cracow hospital that he rejoiced that most
medical staff cared for life and avoided actions leading to its destruction.
"With my whole heart I praise the doctors, nurses, and all Polish health care
workers who place the Divine law 'Thou shalt not kill' above what human law
allows," the Pope said. Poland's parliament approved a law last October that
allows women to have abortions until the 12th week of pregnancy if they cannot
afford to have a child or have other personal difficulties. The Constitutional
Court, however, has ruled that parts of the law are unconstitutional.

POLISH PREMIER IN SPAIN. Spanish Parliamentary President Federico Trillo told
journalists after meeting with Polish Prime Minister Wlodzimierz Cimoszewicz
in Madrid on 9 June that his country supports Poland's drive to join the EU
and NATO. Both leaders agreed that the process will be gradual. The previous
day, Prime Minister Jose Maria Aznar said after his meeting with Cimoszewicz
that he considers Poland a "serious" candidate to be invited to join NATO at
the Madrid summit in July. Cimoszewicz said Poland's NATO membership will
require the country to spend $150-200 million annually during the next 10
years to revamp its armed forces.

CZECH CABINET MEETS AHEAD OF CONFIDENCE VOTE. The Czech government met in an
extraordinary session on 9 June to discuss budget cuts and other austerity
measures, Czech media reported. The need to make such cuts was agreed by the
three coalition parties at the end of May as part of a stabilization program
aimed at bolstering the Czech crown and curing the ailing economy. The
coalition Christian Democrats (KDU-CSL) had demanded that the government
approve the cuts before the vote of confidence scheduled for 10 June. At the
government meeting, the ministers agreed to slash the budget by a total of 20
billion crowns ($625 million). CTK quotes Finance Minister Ivan Pilip as
saying the budget will be cut proportionately in all sectors. However, he
added the government is making exceptions in some areas, including defense in
light of the Czech Republic's anticipated entry into NATO. KDU-CSL Chairman
Josef Lux said he was satisfied with the results of the meeting.

SLOVAK PRESIDENT COMMENTS ON PREMIER'S "VULGAR" STATEMENTS. Michal Kovac told
Radio Twist on 9 June that Prime Minister Vladimir Meciar's recent offensive
statements about Kovac and opposition leaders testify to a lack of manners and
political standards. At a 5 June rally of his Movement for a Democratic
Slovakia, Meciar called Kovac a "horse on his last legs who may be hanging
around for another seven-and-a-half months at the presidential palace." Kovac
said he would not comment on Meciar's statements in detail because they are
not "worthy" to be dealt with by the president. He added that Slovakia does
not need vulgar statements about elected state officials but rather "decency
and respect."

CZECH FOREIGN MINISTER IN HUNGARY. Josef Zieleniec and his Hungarian
counterpart, Laszlo Kovacs, agreed on 9 June in Budapest to coordinate
policies if they are invited to join NATO next month, Hungarian media
reported. President Arpad Goencz told Zieleniec that Hungarians and Czechs
"are partners, not rivals" in their bid for EU and NATO membership. The
current successful regional cooperation between Hungary, the Czech Republic,
and Poland is helping build stability in Central Europe, he added. During his
one-day visit, Zieleniec was also received by Prime Minister Gyula Horn,
Defense Minister Gyoergy Keleti, and Parliamentary Speaker Zoltan Gal.

SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE

ALBANIAN SOCIALIST LEADER PLEDGES TO REPAY PYRAMID MONEY. Some 12,000 people
welcomed Fatos Nano in Vlora on 9 June, Dita Informacion reports. He told a
rally he will try to find and return the money people lost in fraudulent
pyramid schemes, but he did not say how he will do this. Nano is one of the
Socialist Party's candidates in the southern town. Meanwhile, local rebel
leader Zani Caushi has announced he wants to run as a candidate for the
Socialists. The deadline for registering candidates expired on 9 June,
however. President Sali Berisha's Democratic Party has charged that there are
close links between the southern rebels and the Socialists.

UPDATE ON ATTEMPTED ASSASSINATION OF ALBANIAN PRESIDENT. The Durres
Prosecutor-General's Office says the man who tried to kill Berisha on 4 June
does not have ties to the extreme left but does have psychological problems,
Dita Informacion reported on 10 June. Democratic Party legislator Azem Hajdari
accused the Socialists of being behind the assassination attempt but could not
prove it. The office also said that Ceta had been found guilty of stuffing 100
ballot papers for the Democratic Party into a ballot box during last year's
parliamentary elections. Relatives described the man as "ignorant
[and]...without political motives." Gazeta Shqiptare adds that the Deputy
Prosecutor-General Gani Dizdari said there is no proof that Ceta was paid for
the assassination attempt, as secret service chief Arben Karkini has charged.

ITALIAN COMMUNISTS WANT INVESTIGATION OF ITALY'S ROLE IN ALBANIA. The reformed
Italian communist party has drafted a bill on setting up a parliamentary
commission to investigate the involvement of Italian banks and companies in
Albanian pyramid schemes and the arms trade. Former Ambassador to Albania
Paolo Foresti, who was fired recently for obstructing the work of the OSCE
there, would also come under investigation. Rome's new man in Tirana will be
Marcello Spatafori, whose last posting was in Canberra, Indipendent reported
on 10 June.

REGIONAL DISPUTES SURFACE AT BALKAN CONFERENCE. An Albanian representative
told a gathering of Balkan diplomats in the Greek port of Salonica on 9 June
that the current instability in his country does not threaten the region. He
added, however, that unresolved minority questions like Kosovo could
ultimately destabilize the Balkans. The long-standing dispute between Skopje
and Sofia over whether Macedonian is a separate language also came up.
Bulgarian Foreign Minister Nadezhda Mihailova told reporters after meeting
with Macedonian Foreign Minister Blagoj Handziski that they spoke in "our
language," which underscores the Bulgarian view that Macedonian is simply a
dialect of Bulgarian. Yugoslav Foreign Minister Milan Milutinovic said the
conference made progress in economic, political, and security affairs, but he
added that talk about setting up a permanent Balkan security organization is
"premature." Greek media spoke of a "Greek-Russian initiative for the region"
that would include setting up a Balkan telecommunications center, BETA
reported.

CROATIAN OPPOSITION CANDIDATE CRITICIZES POLICE. Opposition parties in Zagreb
on 9 June blasted the authorities for the way they handled President Franjo
Tudjman's trip to Vukovar and the attack on opposition candidate Vlado Gotovac
(see RFE/RL Newsline, 9 June 1997). Opposition spokesmen said Tudjman used
tax-payers' money "for his self-promotion...in a vain parade to satisfy an old
dictator." The opposition also charged that the police were not tough enough
in dealing with army Capt. Tomislav Brzovic, who struck Gotovac on the head
last week. Gotovac said that Brzovic's attack was aimed at removing the
opposition candidate from the race, an RFE/RL correspondent reported from
Zagreb. Pro-government media have portrayed Brzovic as angry and drunk at the
time of the attack, while observers charge he is a well-known agent of the
ruling party.

BELGRADE, TEHRAN RESUME ECONOMIC TIES. Yugoslav Foreign Trade Minister
Borislav Vukovic held talks with Iranian Economic Minister Morteza
Mohammad-Khan in Tehran on 9 June. No details are available. Iranian Foreign
Minister Ali Akbar Velayati told Vukovic the previous day that Iran's
"sentiments have been deeply wounded by the massacre of the Bosnian people."
The Yugoslav guest, for his part, said Belgrade "pays special attention to
Muslim countries, notably Iran." Vukovic's visit is the first high-level
contact between the two countries since the Bosnian war began in 1992. Iran
was one of the staunchest supporters of the Bosnian Muslims against the
Belgrade-backed Serbs.

ROUNDUP FROM FORMER YUGOSLAVIA. Michael Steiner, the international community's
deputy high representative in Bosnia, said in Sarajevo on 9 June that the
Bosnian Serbs will suffer financial consequences if they continue to hold up
economic legislation affecting both halves of Bosnia. In Ankara, Bosnian
President Alija Izetbegovic and his Turkish counterpart, Suleyman Demirel,
agreed that failure to enforce the Dayton agreement will affect security
throughout the Balkans. In Sarajevo, representatives of the Orthodox, Roman
Catholic, Islamic, and Jewish communities also called for respecting the peace
treaty, an RFE/RL correspondent reported from the Bosnian capital. In Zagreb,
the Interior Ministry slammed the UN peacekeepers in eastern Slavonia for
failing to prevent the recent stoning of President Franjo Tudjman's train in
Serb-held territory (see RFE/RL Newsline, 9 June 1997). And in Podgorica,
parliamentary speaker Svetozar Marovic said that Serbia's proposed changes to
the federal constitution are aimed at marginalizing Montenegro.

SECOND NO-CONFIDENCE MOTION DEFEATED IN ROMANIAN PARLIAMENT. By a vote of 268
to 152, the governing coalition on 9 June easily defeated a second motion of
no confidence moved by two opposition parties after Prime Minister Victor
Ciorbea had submitted his reform program to the parliament (see RFE/RL
Newsline, 4 June 1997). Ciorbea mockingly noted that the two formations that
proposed the motion--the Party of Social Democracy in Romania and the Party of
Romanian National Unity--have "secured a place in history" for submitting two
no-confidence motions within three days, RFE/RL Bucharest bureau reported.

ROMANIAN PRESIDENT CLARIFIES STATEMENTS ON NATO MEMBERSHIP. In a statement
released on 9 June, Emil Constantinescu's office said the president has "never
expressed any doubt about Romania's ability to meet the obligations deriving
from NATO integration. "The statement clarified that, in the wake of U.S.
Secretary of State Madeleine Albright's comments at the recent meeting of NATO
foreign minster in Portugal, Constantinescu had expressed only "his
understanding for the general view point that all NATO members need to have
stable economies before being integrated," Radio Bucharest reported. The
statement emphasized that the president has always expressed the opinion that
Romania "meets all necessary criteria for immediate admission into NATO" and
is a "pillar of stability and provider of security in the region." Meanwhile,
Senate Chairman Petre Roman on 9 June began a five day visit to the U.S. to
promote Romania's entry into NATO.

ROMANIAN AIRLINE TO BE RESTRUCTURED. Transportation Minister Traian Basescu
announced on 9 June that the TAROM national airline is to undergo rapid
restructuring. The company will sale outdated Soviet-made aircraft and will
dismiss or assign to other jobs personnel involved in their maintenance. TAROM
will also seek to reach cooperation accords with foreign airlines.

FORMER MOLDOVAN PRESIDENT ON POLITICAL SITUATION. Mircea Snegur has said he
hopes an alliance of the right-wing forces, to be called the Democratic
Convention of Moldova, will be set up on 23 June, the day marking the seventh
anniversary of the country's independence. Snegur, who is now chairman of the
Party of Revival and Accord, wrote in an "Appeal to the Nation" recently
published in Luceafarul that, six months after Petru Lucinschi took over as
president, "only the naive" still believe that Lucinschi will keep his
electoral promises. He noted that the president has not submitted to the
parliament one single legislative initiative promoting reform. Snegur also
said that Lucinschi is continuing the tactics he employed during Snegur's own
presidency, when the incumbent president was chairman of the parliament,
Infotag reported on 9 June.



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