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RFE/RL NEWSLINE

Vol. 1, No. 51, Part II, 12 June1997


Vol. 1, No. 51, Part II, 12 June1997

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

* RUSSIA-BELARUS TREATY GOES INTO EFFECT


* SLOVAK PREMIER WANTS TALKS WITH PRESIDENT


* CROATIAN OPPOSITION RALLY BANNED?

End Note
ENLARGING EASTERN EUROPE

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EAST-CENTRAL EUROPE

RUSSIA-BELARUS TREATY GOES INTO EFFECT. The Russia-Belarus union treaty went
into effect on 11 June with the exchange of the two countries' ratification
documents. Russian Foreign Minister Yevgenii Primakov and Belarusian President
Alyaksandr Lukashenka attended the ceremony in Minsk. ITAR-TASS quoted
Primakov as calling the exchange of ratification documents an "historic
event." He said the treaty provides an "exceptionally important mechanism for
the unification of the two peoples." Belarusian Foreign Minister Ivan
Antanovich said the union has a great chance for success. He described the
union as a peaceful entity that will help the two nations "overcome
difficulties together and ensure the well-being and security of the two
peoples." Lukashenka told Interfax he intends to meet Russian Prime Minister
Viktor Chernomyrdin in Sochi to discuss attempts by some Russian government
officials to "water down" the union treaty. Lukashenka is scheduled to start
his vacation in the Black Sea resort on 12 June.

UKRAINIAN PREMIER CALLS FOR INCREASED TRADE WITH CHINA. Pavlo Lazarenko told
Chinese Defense Minister Chi Haotian during a meeting in Kyiv on 11 June that
Ukraine and China are capable of increasing trade turnover to $1 billion a
year, Interfax reported. Turnover was $846 million in 1996 and $347 million in
the first four months of 1997. Lazarenko said Ukraine is prepared to cooperate
with China in all areas where it is "on the cutting edge," including aircraft,
ship and tank building, missile and space technology, and joint research into
and utilization of outer space. The two leaders called for the expansion of
military and military technological cooperation.

ESTONIAN PARLIAMENT ADOPTS CONTROVERSIAL LAW ON ADVERTISING. Lawmakers voted
by 43 to 28 on 11 June to adopt a widely disputed law on advertising that
imposes a total ban on advertisements of tobacco products, ETA reported. The
new legislation also prohibits the advertising of narcotic substances and
strictly limits alcohol advertisements. The Reform Party has strongly
criticized the draft law, arguing, among other things, that it prevents the
revival of the Estonian tobacco industry and endangers the freedom of the
press by depriving it of advertising income. The law still has to be signed by
the president.

LATVIAN PRESIDENT, PREMIER CONDEMN MONUMENT BOMBING. Guntis Ulmanis on 11 June
condemned the bombing of the controversial World War II monument in Riga, BNS
reported. Two people were killed in the 6 June blast at the monument, which
commemorates the Soviet victory over Nazi occupying forces. Ulmanis called the
incident a "provocative and defiant attempt to damage Latvia's international
relations." He said ties with Russia are deeper and stronger than those
responsible for the blast likely believe them to be. Also on 11 June, Prime
Minister Andris Skele described the attack as an "absurd provocation" that
might have "unpleasant" consequences both inside and outside the country.
Meanwhile, the chief investigator into the bombing has said up to 20 kg of
plastic explosives were used rather than TNT, as earlier reported, according
to BNS.

CACHES OF STOLEN NUCLEAR FUEL FOUND IN LITHUANIA. Police have discovered two
separate caches of stolen uranium totaling 50 kilograms, BNS and Western
agencies reported on 11 June. Some 30 kg were located in an underground vault
near Vilnius, while the other 20 kg were found in the town of Visaginas. The
discoveries were made after police interrogated suspects in the 1992 theft of
170 kg of uranium from the Ignalina nuclear power plant. The Prosecutor's
Office launched an investigation when 10 kg uranium were discovered close to
the nuclear plant last October. A former plant engineer believed to be behind
the theft is reported to be in hiding in either Russia or another former
Soviet republic. His suspected accomplices have been ordered not to leave
Vilnius. The Lithuanian penal code provides for prison sentences of 10 years
for the theft of radioactive substances.

COURT RULES FORMER POLISH PRESIDENT DOES NOT OWE TAXES. An administrative
court in Gdansk ruled on 11 June that Lech Walesa does not have to pay tax on
$1million he received in 1989 for film rights. The court rejected a motion by
the local tax office, which had argued that Walesa owes taxes for money he
received from the Warner Brothers company for the right to make a film about
his life. The court ruled that even if Walesa was required to pay tax, he
should have done so by the end of 1994 and thus was no longer obliged to do
so. The issue of Walesa's taxes became public during the 1995 presidential
election in which he was defeated by Aleksander Kwasniewski. Walesa argued at
the time that the money was not liable to taxation in Poland and that taxes
had been paid in the U.S. Walesa told Reuters he felt only partially
vindicated by the court's ruling because his reputation had been damaged.

SLOVAK PREMIER WANTS TALKS WITH PRESIDENT. Following a meeting of government
coalition parties on 11 June, Slovak Premier Vladimir Meciar has proposed
holding talks with President Michal Kovac. Meciar said he wants private
discussions with Kovac about halting mutual recriminations, RFE/RL's
Bratislava bureau reported. Meanwhile, Kovac on 11 June formally appointed
Zdenka Kramplova as the country's new foreign minister. Kramplova has said
foreign policy will not change during her term and that Slovakia will continue
to pursue its goal of entering NATO and the EU. Kramplova replaces Pavol
Hamzik, who resigned two weeks ago in protest over the way in which a
controversial referendum on whether to join NATO was conducted.

UPDATE ON HUNGARIAN SPYING SCANDAL. Kalman Kocsis, the former head of the
Hungarian Intelligence Office, on 11 June appeared before the parliament's
National Security Committee to testify in the investigation into the so-called
"Operation Birch Tree." In March, it was revealed that the Intelligence Office
spied on members of the parliament (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 18 April and 12 May
1998). Kocsis, who has meanwhile been appointed ambassador to Bosnia, said the
law has not been broken and those guilty of violating internal regulations
have been punished. Committee chairman Kalman Konya said the committee must
not only investigate the breach of the law but also determine what made it
possible. He suggested the committee now hear testimony from Civil Secret
Service Minister Istvan Nikolitis and chief of staff, Maj.-Gen. Tamas Somogyi,
Hungarian media report on 12 June.

HUNGARIAN OFFICIAL SACKED OVER FALSE CREDENTIALS. Agriculture Minister Frigyes
Nagy on 11 June dismissed Deputy State Secretary Lajos Buzassy because of a
university degree said to have been obtained "under dubious circumstances,"
Hungarian media reported on 12 June. Buzassy received a degree from the
University of Horticulture in just three months, without having registered as
a student there He claims to have obtained the degree lawfully but
acknowledges that the university revoked it after a parliamentary
investigation into the case. He says he will appeal the decision.

SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE

ITALIAN, ALBANIAN SHIPS EXCHANGE FIRE. An Albanian freighter carrying 700
people fired at an Italian Coast Guard ship near Durres on 11 June. The
Italians returned fire and forced the ship to return to port. Albanians on the
ship denied that any of them had fired on the Italians. Also on 11 June, five
Albanians were robbed and killed near the Greek border by an armed gang after
they returned from Greece. In nearby Gjirokaster, the Greek consulate closed
temporarily after it was fired on. And in Tirana, Nikolle Lesi, the publisher
of the independent daily "Koha Jone," said that President Sali Berisha's
bodyguard recently sprayed Lesi's car with machine gun fire and nearly
attacked his home. Lesi threatened "blood revenge" if he or any of his family
is hurt.

ALBANIAN ELECTION FACES PROBLEMS. Albanian authorities have not yet set up all
polling stations, even though the deadline passed on 31 May, "Dita
Informacion" reported from Tirana on 12 June. Many of the district commissions
do not have regular meeting places, either. The Central Election Commission
wants computers set up in all 115 districts, but it is unclear whether the
Institute for Applied Mathematics will be able to do so in time. Meanwhile in
London, Brian Pridham, who recently quit as OSCE election coordinator, told
reporters that he resigned because his moral and professional standards would
not permit him to continue. He said the OSCE is determined to validate the
Albanian elections, despite widespread irregularities.

ALBANIAN SOCIALIST DENIES PLAN TO REPAY PYRAMID LOSSES. Socialist Party leader
Fatos Nano continued his tour through southern Albania on 11 June, holding
meetings in Tepelena, Memaliaj, and Ballsh, "Zeri i Popullit" reported on 12
June. He told the rallies that most Albanian dailies wrongly reported his
speech in Vlora the day before (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 11 June 1997). He
denied that he intends to compensate investors for money lost in the collapse
of the pyramid schemes. He made clear, however, that he will try to track down
the money and give it back if he can find it. He then left for Athens to meet
with representatives of the Greek government and Albanian immigrants.

MILOSEVIC NOMINATED FOR FEDERAL YUGOSLAV PRESIDENT. The steering committee of
the Socialist Party of Serbia has officially nominated Serbian President
Slobodan Milosevic for the federal Yugoslav presidency, an RFE/RL
correspondent reported from Belgrade on 11 June. Incumbent Zoran Lilic's term
runs out on 25 June. But in Podgorica, the steering committee of the governing
Democratic Socialist Party (DPS) voted to postpone until 23 June any decision
on the federal presidency, an RFE/RL correspondent reported from the
Montenegrin capital. The issues at stake are whether the DPS should endorse
Milosevic's candidacy as well as his calls for increased federal presidential
powers and the direct election of the federal president. Milosevic needs the
support of the increasingly independent-minded DPS in the federal parliament
to succeed on all three counts.

KOSOVO SERBS LAUNCH HUNGER STRIKE. Women from 12 Serbian families from Istok
on 11 June joined a hunger strike in a park outside the Belgrade offices of
Serbian President Milosevic. The men from those families began their hunger
strike the previous day. The Serbs demand apartments and other social benefits
that they say the authorities promised them in 1991. The government settled
the families in Istok after they fled their homes in Slovenia and Croatia. The
hunger-strikers told BETA that no top government officials have met with them,
despite promises to do so. One woman complained that the authorities have time
only for "war criminals [and not for] ordinary people." Meanwhile in Kosovo, a
judge in Vucitrn said that a bomb went off in the center of town near a
Serbian cafe the previous day but that nobody was injured.

MORE MASSIVE VOTING FRAUD IN BOSNIA. OSCE monitors said in Sarajevo on 11 June
that they are closing all four voter registration offices in Brcko because of
massive fraud by the Bosnian Serb authorities in registering voters. The
monitors added that all voters in the strategic northern town will probably
have to register again. Last year, local elections across Bosnia were
postponed until September 1997 because of massive fraud in signing up voters,
especially by the Serbs. Each of the three sides has registered voters in such
a way as to consolidate its hold over key territories. Also in Sarajevo,
monitors said on 10 June that a Muslim hospital director in Zenica has been
dictating to his staff how to register. The monitors said that every Bosnian
must be free to choose whether to register and, if so, where to do so.

SLAVONIAN MURDER CASE GOES TO THE HAGUE. A spokesman for the Hague-based war
crimes tribunal said on 11 June that the court is tightening security measures
following leaks of confidential information to the press in the former
Yugoslavia, an RFE/RL correspondent reported from The Hague. In Zagreb, the
attorney for Jadranka Reihl-Kir said on 10 June that his client will ask the
tribunal to press charges against Ante Gudelj, her husband's murderer, an
RFE/RL correspondent reported from the Croatian capital. The Croatian
authorities recently pardoned Gudelj after he had barely begun serving a
20-year sentence for the 1991 murder of Josip Reihl-Kir. Reihl-Kir was a
Slavonian moderate police chief whose murder by Croatian hard-liners was a key
development in the run-up to the war between Serbs and Croats.

CROATIAN OPPOSITION RALLY BANNED? Spokesmen for Social Democratic presidential
candidate Zdravko Tomac said on 12 June that the Zagreb city authorities will
not give Tomac a permit to hold a rally in central Jelacic Square on 13 June.
The spokesmen said they interpret the authorities' decision as tantamount to a
ban on the rally, an RFE/RL correspondent reported from Zagreb. President
Franjo Tudjman will hold a rally in Jelacic Square on 12 June, while Liberal
candidate Vlado Gotovac spoke there the previous night. Polls currently put
Tomac in second place behind Tudjman for the 15 June elections. Meanwhile,
Development Minister Jure Radic said on 10 June that only 4,353 Serbian
refugees have formally applied to return to their homes in Croatia. Radic was
responding to claims by U.S. Ambassador to Croatia Peter Galbraith and others
that tens of thousands of Serbs are waiting to return, an RFE/RL correspondent
reported from Zagreb.

ROMANIAN PREMIER CLAIMS GERMANY BACKS NATO MEMBERSHIP. Victor Ciorbea,
addressing a Movement of Civic Alliance meeting in Bucharest on 11 June,
confirmed that German Chancellor Helmut Kohl has promised to back Romania's
bid for admission to NATO in the first wave of expansion, RFE/RL's Bucharest
bureau reported. The German leader was reported to have made that pledge at a
meeting of the European People's Party faction in the European Assembly in
Strasbourg the previous day (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 11 June 1997). In response
to a question of an RFE/RL correspondent in Berlin, however, the chief of the
German Federal Press Office in Bonn said he "could not confirm" the position
attributed to Kohl. Meanwhile, the "Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung" on 12 June
quotes the Chancellor's Office as saying that while in Strasbourg Kohl
"expressed sympathy" for Romania's NATO bid but that the Christian Democratic
leaders' expression of support cannot be viewed as a decision that only NATO
can take.

ROMANIAN LABOR PROTEST. Thousands demonstrated on 11 June in Bucharest and
nine other towns against the government's economic policies, RFE/RL's
Bucharest bureau reported. The demonstrations were organized by the National
Syndicate Block (BNS), one of Romania's largest trade unions. BNS leader
Dumitru Costin said the previous day that his union is protesting the lack of
dialogue between the government and the unions and the slow pace of
implementing social protection measures. The BNS is demanding pay rises and
indexing salaries to reflect price hikes, as well as cutting value-added tax
on basic food products. In other news, Gen. Ion Stan, the commander of
Romania's air force, and his co-pilot were killed on 11 June near Timisoara
when their two-seater Czech-made L-39 plane crashed while attempting to land.
A military commission has been set up to investigate the incident.

TRANSDNIESTER APPLIES FOR MEMBERSHIP IN CIS PARLIAMENTARY ASSEMBLY. At the CIS
Parliamentary Assembly session in St. Petersburg on 8-9 June, the
Transdniester breakaway region applied for membership in that body, Moldovan
media reported. Moldovan parliamentary deputy chairman Dumitru Diacov told
Infotag that a Transdniester Supreme Soviet delegation attended the meeting
because the forum was scheduled to discuss the settlement of the
Chisinau-Tiraspol conflict. He said the delegation used this opportunity to
apply for membership, adding he was confident no CIS member would "risk"
backing the application. Diacov also said the Moldovan delegation refrained
from responding because "it was clear that such a request cannot be considered
by the assembly," which, he said, can accept only internationally recognized
states as members.

WORLD BANK'S IDA EXPANDS MANAGER TRAINING IN MOLDOVA. The World Bank's
International development Association (IDA) on 11 June approved a $9 million
credit to Moldova to expand a program for training business managers to work
competitive market economies. An RFE/RL correspondent in Washington cited the
bank as saying the virtual non-existence of a supportive network for small and
medium-sized industrial enterprises is a "particularly acute problem in
Moldova" because of the small domestic market and traditional agricultural
specialization. A similarly-funded IDA loan granted in February helped
radically restructure 15 enterprises. The new program will train at least 400
managers from 200 private enterprises. The bank says that unless such training
is quickly undertaken, a majority of the country's private enterprises will be
forced into bankruptcy in the next few years.

BULGARIAN PRINCE ADVISES ON ECONOMIC AFFAIRS. Prince Cyril of
Saxe-Coburg-Gota, the son of exiled king Simeon, was received by President
Petar Stoyanov on 11 June and attended a meeting of the presidential Economic
Development Council that discussed ways to stabilize the economy, RFE/RL's
Sofia bureau reported. The prince, a 33-year-old economist with the Lehman
Brothers bank in London, also met with Prime Minster Ivan Kostov and Deputy
Prime Minister Alexander Bozhkov. The previous day, Reuters quoted Prince
Cyril as saying the international finance community considers Bulgaria's
introduction of a restrictive monetary system under the new currency board as
an "extremely positive step."

BULGARIAN GOVERNMENT APPROVES CHANGES TO INSURANCE LAW. The cabinet on 10 June
approved changes to the insurance law in a bid to stop organized crime using
insurance companies as a front for racketeering. The U.S.-based "Journal of
Commerce" reported on 12 June that the amended law raises the minimum
authorized capital for incorporating life insurance companies from 200 million
leva (some $127,000) to 2 billion leva. It also bans insurers from running
other businesses, such as security services. More than 100 companies
registered as insurers are reported to be involved in racketeering. Kostov
said no measure against organized crime would be efficient without first
fighting the '"pressure insurers." A National Insurance Council is to monitor
and supervise the activity of insurance companies.

BULGARIAN COURT DISMISSES CASE ON PIRATE COMPACT DISCS. A court on 11 June
acquitted the defendant in the country's first case on alleged piracy of
compact discs, Reuters reported. Bulgaria ranks second, behind China, in CD
piracy. The prosecution accused Marko Mihailov, manager of a local firm, of
organizing the production of CDs in 1995-96 in breach of the country's
copyright laws. The discs were sold in Russia, Romania, and the Czech
Republic. A representative of a Dutch company said the acquittal was owing to
"some serious gaps in the materials presented to the court." She added that
the case was nonetheless a "positive indication" that the authorities are
fighting CD piracy.

END NOTE

ENLARGING EASTERN EUROPE

by Paul Goble

        Growing links between countries on either side of what was once the bord
 er of
the Soviet Union are the latest evidence of a trend that expands Eastern
Europe, reduces the likelihood of conflicts among countries there, and
improves the chances that those countries will gradually be absorbed into
Western institutions.
        The most dramatic and potentially the most important of those new linkag
 es
are between the two largest countries in the region, Poland and Ukraine. Last
month, Polish President Aleksandr Kwasniewski and his Ukrainian counterpart,
Leonid Kuchma, signed a joint declaration intended to overcome the often
difficult past relationships of their peoples and lay the foundation for the
development of closer economic, political, and security ties.
        The product of intensive diplomatic efforts by both sides, this document
  is
one of a series of agreements between Poland and other traditionally East
European states, on the one hand, and the Baltic countries and former Soviet
republics, on the other. Also likely to have an impact on future developments
across this region are the recent rapprochement between Poland and Lithuania
and, to an even greater degree, the agreement between Ukraine and Romania
defining their common border.
        Speaking before the signing of the Polish-Ukrainian declaration, Kwasnie
 wski
said that he and his fellow leaders in the area want agreements like the one
he and Kuchma signed to have an "effect on the region and on Europe as a
whole." Those hopes may well be justified. Accords of precisely the kind
signed by Kuchma and Kwasniewski may come to play a larger role in the
transformation of both Europe and international relations than even the
well-publicized NATO-Russia Founding Act.
        There are three reasons for this. First, agreements across what was the
border between Eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union further reduce the
importance of that frontier in the thinking of leaders on either side of that
line and in the calculations of leaders in countries further afield.
Ukrainian, Moldovan, and Baltic leaders increasingly see themselves as part of
Eastern Europe, thus expanding the boundaries of that concept. Moreover,
leaders of countries beyond this region increasingly view those countries in
that way, thereby reducing the relevance of the boundaries of the former USSR
for any current or future purpose--regardless of what some Russian
nationalists may say.
        Second, such agreements also reduce the possibility of new conflicts bet
 ween
countries and peoples that have frequently been at odds in the past. Poles and
Ukrainians, for instance, have often been locked in conflict; their leaders
have now pledged that they never will be again. To the extent that they are
adhered to, such pledges not only integrate Eastern Europe as an entity in its
own right but also transform the meaning of that region for Europe as a whole
and the rest of the world. For many people in Western Europe and even further
afield, Eastern Europe has been almost a synonym for internal divisions and
conflict--except when it has been occupied or dominated by some outside power.
With accords like the ones signed between Poland and Ukraine and between
Ukraine and Romania, East Europeans are demonstrating that these are
misconceptions and that Eastern Europe is ready to take its place in a truly
united Europe.
        Third, the willingness and ability of countries such as Poland and Ukrai
 ne to
cooperate sends a strong signal to NATO and the European Union that they are
now able to engage in precisely the kind of integrative activities that lie at
the basis of both those Western institutions. As a result, those countries who
reach such agreements may make themselves stronger candidates for inclusion in
those Western bodies.
        The U.S. and many European countries have made such cooperation among th
 e
countries in the region a test and precondition for their inclusion in Western
institutions. On occasion, Eastern Europeans have chafed at those
requirements, but the leaders who have sought to meet them are likely to be
the beneficiaries




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