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RFE/RL NEWSLINE

Vol. 1, No. 54, Part II, 17 June1997


Vol. 1, No. 54, Part II, 17 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

*SLOVAKIA MAY NOT BE INVITED TO EU EXPANSION TALKS


*ASSASSINATION ATTEMPT ON ALBANIAN SOCIALIST LEADER


*OSCE, U.S. CALL CROATIAN VOTE "FREE BUT NOT FAIR"

End Note
THE LAST WORD ON NATO EXPANSION?

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EAST-CENTRAL EUROPE

UKRAINIAN PREMIER IN CANADA. Pavlo Lazarenko has signed several major
agreements with the Canadian International Development Agency, RFE/RL's
Ukrainian Service reported on 16 June. Under one of those accords, the
Canadian government will grant Ukraine $500,000 Canadian dollars for
legislative reform. Another agreement provides for a grant of C$3.5 million
for Kyiv's Technical Assistance Program Advisery Fund. Air Canada has
announced it will schedule direct flights to Ukraine in the near future, while
the Trans-Canada Pipeline Co. Ltd. of Calgary is to help expand and improve
the existing oil pipeline network in Ukraine. Lazarenko also concluded an
agreement worth C$150 million with Northland Power of Toronto to modernize the
Darnytsia power plant in Kyiv. In addition, Commercial Alcohols of Ontario has
agreed to conclude within the next few days a C$150 million deal on
constructing a fuel-ethanol plant in Ukraine that would run on corn.

UKRAINIAN MINERS ON STRIKE. Miners in 50 mines in the Donbas area, in eastern
Ukraine, went on strike on 16 June to protest delays in wage payments,
ITAR-TASS reported. The total amount of unpaid wages has reached $800 million.
A majority of Ukraine's 250 coal mines are reported to be on the brink of
collapse. A committee representing the miners announced a general strike in
the coal industry for 1 July.

NATO-LED EXERCISES IN BALTIC SEA. NATO-led maritime exercises began in the
Baltic Sea on 16 June. Some 50 warships from 13 NATO and Partnership For Peace
countries are participating, including a Russian destroyer based in
Kaliningrad. Naval forces from the U.S, the Baltic States, Britain, Denmark,
Finland, Germany, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland and Sweden are also taking
part. The U.S. Defense Department says the exercises, codenamed "Baltops 97"
and scheduled to last for 12 days, will focus on training for maritime
disasters, coastal surveillance, and air and mine warfare.

LITHUANIA OBJECTS TO ESTONIAN PREMIER'S COMMENT ON EU INTEGRATION. Lithuanian
Prime Minister Gediminas Vagnorius has criticized his Estonian counterpart,
Mart Siimann, for allegedly arguing that EU membership will also be decided in
terms of geopolitical situation, BNS reported on 16 June. Vagnorius said this
position was "unacceptable" to Lithuania, adding that EU membership must be
assessed on the basis of "objective" rather than "geopolitical" criteria.
Siimann, however, denies having made that comment, according to RFE/RL's
Estonian Service. At their recent summit in Tallinn, the Baltic premiers
failed to issue a joint declaration on joining the EU (see "RFE/RL Newsline,"
13 June 1997). Latvia and Estonia were reportedly in favor of a statement
saying that even if only one Baltic country were admitted, the other two would
still benefit from its membership. But Lithuania had wanted the declaration to
stress that the Baltic States favor entering the EU together.

LITHUANIAN PARLIAMENTARY CHAIRMAN ON RELATIONS WITH CHECHNYA. Vytautas
Landsbergis noted at a 16 June press conference that developing closer ties to
Chechnya was more important than recognizing the breakaway republic's
independence. He promised that the Lithuanian parliament will further help
Chechnya's legislature develop relations with other countries and will call on
the Lithuanian government to increase ties to its Chechen counterpart. A
Chechen parliamentary delegation currently touring the Baltic States had
appealed to Lithuania to recognize Chechnya's independence. Meanwhile,
Estonian Premier Siimann has said the Chechen parliamentarians cannot be
issued entry visas, since Estonia does not recognize their passports or former
Soviet internal passports. The government is expected to make a decision on
the issue at its 17 June session.

POLAND RATIFIES EUROPEAN SOCIAL CHARTER. President Aleksander Kwasniewski on
16 June ratified the European Social Charter, Polish media reported. Poland
has thus become the first East European country to adopt the charter. The
document lists basic economic and social rights of citizens, such as just
reward for work, the right to collective bargaining, the right of employees to
organize, and the right to social security. A presidential spokesman told
journalists that Poland signed the charter in 1991 but needed six years to
adjust its laws to European standards. The charter was adopted by the Council
of Europe in 1961 and has so far been ratified by 20 European states.

POLISH ANNUAL INFLATION RATE EXCEEDS 14%. The Central Statistics Office
announced on 16 June that prices of goods and services in Poland rose by 0.6%
in May from April, compared with monthly increases of 1% in April and 0.8
percent in March. It also reported that annual inflation is up 14.6 percent
over May 1996. Food products increased by 0.6% in May from April, the
announcement said, while manufactured goods were up by 0.8% and services 0.6%.
Government forecasts put inflation this year at 13%, compared with 18.5% in
1996.

TRUST IN CZECH GOVERNMENT DECLINES SHARPLY. An opinion poll by the
Prague-based Institute for Public Opinion Research, which was published in the
Czech media on 17 June, indicates that the public's trust in the government of
Vaclav Klaus has dropped sharply. Only 22% of the poll's respondents said they
trust the government, while 74% said they do not. In a May poll, 35% of
respondents trusted the executive, while 61% did not. Only 29% of respondents
said they have confidence in Prime Minister Vaclav Klaus--a drop of 13% in
comparison with May. President Vaclav Havel remains the most trusted
politician in the country. He received the support of 68% of the
respondents--up three percentage points on May.

PRESIDENT SAYS SITUATION IN SLOVAKIA VERY SERIOUS. In an interview published
in the 16 June issue of the Hungarian daily "Magyar Hirlap," Slovak President
Michal Kovac said the situation in Slovakia is very serious. He noted that the
economic growth of the past several years has stopped and that it is
increasingly difficult to attract Western investors. Kovac argued that this is
mainly due to political discord and social tensions. Kovac admitted there are
big differences between himself and Premier Vladimir Meciar but said that he
alone could not resolve this situation. He also argued that he can fulfill his
role only if the government gives him the necessary powers. "However, Vladimir
Meciar would not give them to me or is unable to do so, since he does not
consider me an equal partner. My work resembles a struggle against windmills,"
Kovac said.

SLOVAKIA MAY NOT BE INVITED TO EU EXPANSION TALKS. Herbert Boesch, the
co-chairman of the EU-Slovak parliamentary committee, said on 16 June that the
"present situation does not indicate that Slovakia will be invited to talks on
EU expansion." Boesch, who was speaking at the beginning of the committee's
three-day meeting in Bratislava, said that "despite economic achievements, it
is very difficult to imagine a positive verdict right now," adding that the
view that Slovakia was not ready to join the EU was gaining ground. Boesch
also called on the Slovak government to abide by the criteria for EU
membership. Meanwhile, Slovak parliamentary chairman Ivan Gasparovic said
Slovakia is ready to fulfill the conditions for membership. He conceded that
there is political tension but argued "this is typical of any country before
elections." Parliamentary elections are scheduled for September 1998.

BOMB DEFUSED AT HUNGARIAN COALITION PARTY OFFICE. Police on 16 June defused a
time-bomb placed on the window sill of a Budapest district office of the
Alliance of Free Democrats (SZDSZ), Hungarian media reported. The home-made
bomb was rendered inactive an hour before it was set to explode, after an
anonymous caller alerted a neighbor. Police say the incident was the fourth
bomb attempt this year against offices of the two parties belonging to the
government coalition. In March, a bomb, together with a letter and a Hungarian
national flag, was left at another SZDSZ district office but was defused.
Police suspect that national extremist groups were behind both this and the 16
June attempts.

SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE

ASSASSINATION ATTEMPT ON ALBANIAN SOCIALIST LEADER. Unidentified assailants
attacked Socialist Party Secretary-General Rexhep Mejdani as he was on his way
to attend a rally in Puke on 16 June, "Dita Informacion" reported. Some 30
attackers ambushed Mejdani at Qafe e Celes in northern Albania with
machine-guns and grenades. Mejdani, who had an escort of special police
forces, was not injured, even though five bullets hit his car. The rally in
Puke was canceled. Mejdani described the incident as an "act of political
terrorism."

FAMILY MEMBERS DENY VLORA KILLING WAS POLITICAL VIOLENCE. Family members say
that Greta Grabova, the sister-in-law of Vlora's Democratic Party leader
Argent Grabova, was killed in crossfire in a gang fight on 14 June, not in
political violence as earlier reported (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 15 June 1997).
They said that the media misrepresented the incident, and local police chief
Haxhi Demiri agreed, "Indipendent" reported. One other person was killed and
six injured in the shoot-out. Meanwhile, the local salvation committee was
quoted by "Indipendent" as having declared on 16 June that President Sali
Berisha would be "shot at with all available arms, if he comes to Vlora."

CONTROVERSY CONTINUES OVER ALBANIAN ELECTIONS. Organization for Security and
Cooperation in Europe spokesman Mark Smith told "Gazeta Shqiptare" of 17 June
that the multinational body is aware that "there will be irregularities"
during the elections on 29 June. He also said the OSCE is not going to
announce any findings of its monitoring mission before the final report goes
to the European Parliament. According to Smith, there will be between 400 and
450 OSCE observers. They will be protected by multinational forces when
traveling to areas outside Tirana. But U.S. experts from the National
Democratic Institute said in Tirana on 16 June that there is such chaos in
Albanian that the vote may have to be postponed in some areas. One U.S.
diplomat agreed, calling Albania "a third-world country having a melt-down."

OSCE, U.S. CALL CROATIAN VOTE "FREE BUT NOT FAIR." OSCE monitoring chief Paul
Simon, a former U.S. senator, charged in his official report in Zagreb on 16
June that the presidential vote the previous day was "fundamentally flawed."
Simon said that incumbent Franjo Tudjman, who easily won the election ,
enjoyed unfair advantages over his opponents (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 16 June
1997). He singled out the state-run electronic media for having displayed
particular bias in Tudjman's favor. U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright
expressed similar views in Washington, noting that the opposition did not have
a fair chance to get its message across to the voters. Albright added that the
flawed election will not help Croatia's case for a $30 million World Bank loan
due to be decided in June.

WORLD BANK PUTS FUTURE BOSNIAN AID IN DOUBT. Representatives of the World Bank
said in Sarajevo on 16 June that the bank will approve no more aid projects
for Bosnia if the republic does not pay $8 million to the bank within 45 days.
The bank will drop all contact with Bosnia if the $8 million, which is part of
Bosnia's $620 million share of the old Yugoslav debt, is not paid within 60
days. The mainly Muslim-Croatian federation has agreed to pay its share, but
the Serbs say they have no money, an RFE/RL correspondent reported from the
Bosnian capital. Also in Sarajevo, Turkish President Suleyman Demirel said
that NATO forces should stay on beyond June 1998 in order to ensure peace. And
in Berlin, a similar message came from Michael Steiner, the outgoing
international deputy high representative for Bosnia.

SERBIAN LEFTISTS SAY MILOSEVIC REFLECTS PEOPLE'S WILL. The steering committee
of the United Yugoslav Left (JUL) endorsed Serbian President Slobodan
Milosevic for the federal Yugoslav presidency in Belgrade on 16 June, an
RFE/RL correspondent reported from the capital. The leaders of JUL said that
Milosevic's candidacy "is an expression of the citizens' broadest consensus
and trust." The committee also backed Milosevic's call for the federal
president to be elected directly. JUL consists mainly of elderly hard-line
communists and is headed by Mirjana Markovic, who is also Milosevic's wife.
The president is currently elected by the parliament, in which increasingly
independent-minded Montenegro has a strong voice. In a direct one-man,
one-vote election, Serbs would outnumber Montenegrins 10 to one.

POLITICAL FIREWORKS IN MONTENEGRIN LEGISLATURE. The opposition Popular Concord
coalition introduced a motion in the parliament in Podgorica on 16 June to
oppose Milosevic's plans to elect the federal president directly. The draft
resolution said the proposed constitutional changes would destroy the equal
status of Serbia and Montenegro under law. The text added that Milosevic's
candidacy is detrimental to political and economic reform in federal
Yugoslavia, an RFE/RL correspondent reported from Podgorica. In another
development, deputies from the governing Socialists agreed that editors in the
state-run media are responsible only to the administrative bodies of their own
organizations. There had been calls from the Socialists and Popular Concord
for the parliament to sack top officials at state-run TV.

UPDATE ON ROMANIAN MINERS' STRIKE. A miners' delegation failed to reach
agreement with representatives of the government in talks in Bucharest on 16
June, Radio Bucharest reported. The miners are demanding that Finance Minister
Mircea Ciumara come to the valley for further negotiations. Vlad Rosca, who is
in charge of relations with the trade unions, said agreement was reached on
nearly all demands made by the miners but that the government cannot agree to
increase wages by 45%. He also said the executive cannot interfere with the
judicial procedure and release miners' leader Miron Cozma from detention.
Meanwhile, unrest has spread to other mining areas. Miners in the Filipestii
de Padure mining area near Ploiesti joined the sanctions and roads were
blocked in several counties.

ROMANIA TO HOST ISRAELI-SYRIAN PEACE TALKS? Adrian Severin, on a two-day visit
to Israel, told his Israeli counterpart, David Levy, that Romania is willing
to host Israeli-Syrian peace talks, RFE/RL's Bucharest bureau reported on 16
June. Israeli diplomatic sources said Jerusalem views the initiative
positively . Severin also asked Israel to back Romania's bid for NATO
admission in the first wave, according to the same sources. Israeli officials
said they back Romania's candidacy and consider the country to be a "factor of
stability in the Balkans." The previous day, Severin and Levy signed an accord
on avoiding double taxation. Severin also met with Premier Benjamin Netanyahu,
President Ezer Weitzman, and opposition leaders Ehud Barak and Shimon Peres.
On the last day of his visit, he held talks in Bethlehem with Yasser Arafat,
the chairman of the Palestinian Authority.

UPDATE ON MOLDOVAN AGRARIAN PARTY CONGRESS. Addressing the congress of the
Agrarian Democratic Party of Moldova (PDAM) on 14 June, Prime Minister Ion
Ciubuc called on PDAM parliamentary deputies to rally behind the government's
reform program, Infotag reported on 16 June. He said the program cannot work
if those who should be personally responsible for its success do not take
responsibility for the program. PDAM leader Dumitru Motpan, however, stressed
that the party cannot agree to the law on agrarian reform proposed by the
executive. He said the PDAM was not opposed in principle to making land
purchasable but that it wants the peasantry to be transformed into "genuine
land owners" and will not allow "land concentration in the hands of financial
tycoons." Motpan also insisted that the PDAM must continue defending
"Moldovanism" as a definition of national identity, BASA-Press reported on 16
June.

MOLDOVAN OPPOSITION LEADER ON RIGHT-WING ALLIANCE. Valeriu Matei, the chairman
of the opposition Party of Democratic Forces, says he is in favor of
establishing an alliance of right-wing forces before the parliamentary
elections but that the step should be made only after careful preparations.
Matei told Infotag on 16 June that "there is no need to hurry" when the
precise date of the elections, due to be held in 1998, is not yet known. He
said that "haste may lead to the formation of a shaky, non-lasting alliance."
Earlier, former President Mircea Snegur called for setting up a coalition of
right-wing parties on 23 June (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 10 June 1997), a call
endorsed also by Popular Christian Democratic Front leader Iurie Rosca. An
RFE/RL correspondent in Chisinau said that the leaders of the other right-wing
parties consider Matei's position to be a "subtle attempt" to postpone setting
up the coalition.

BULGARIAN FOREIGN MINISTER IN WASHINGTON. Responding to an appeal by Nadezhda
Mihailova to publicly name the countries that might be invited to join NATO in
a second wave of enlargement, U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright said
it is "not the inclination" of the administration to do so. The two leaders
spoke at a press conference on 16 June, an RFE/RL correspondent reported.
Mihailova said her country's "immediate national interest" is to join NATO.
Later, U.S. State Department spokesman Nicholas Burns said the administration
believes a prudent approach is required, adding that the progress recently
made by Sofia "is very important and a good sign about the direction in which
Bulgaria is going."

BULGARIAN PRESIDENT IN KUWAIT. Petar Stoyanov said at the beginning of a
three-day visit to Kuwait that his country has opened its doors to foreign
investors, the official Kuwaiti KUNA agency reported on 16 June. He invited
Kuwaiti and Gulf investors to avail themselves of the opportunity to invest in
Bulgaria. Stoyanov held talks with Emir Sheik Jaber al-Ahmad al-Sabah and with
interim Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Sheik Sabah al-Ahmad al-Sabah, AFP
reported.

EU OFFICIAL IN BULGARIA. Martin Bangemann, the EU commissioner for industrial
affairs, information technologies, and telecommunications, has met with
members of the parliamentary Committee for Foreign and Integration Policies to
discuss steps aimed at accelerating Bulgaria's integration into the EU, BTA
reported on 16 June. Committee chairman Assen Agov said they also discussed
possible Bulgarian-EU projects related to infrastructure development.

END NOTE

THE LAST WORD ON NATO EXPANSION?

by Paul Goble

        Washington's decision to support invitations for only three countries in
  the
first round of NATO expansion is almost certainly definitive. But European
support for inviting as many as five new members at the July summit in Madrid
may provide an opportunity for some countries not included in either plan to
receive a public timetable for their inclusion in future rounds of expansion.
That possibility is likely to drive much of the diplomatic activity in Eastern
Europe over the next few weeks.
        On 12 June, U.S. President Bill Clinton issued a statement indicating th
 at
Washington would support issuing invitations to Poland, Hungary and the Czech
Republic in the first round of expansion of the Western alliance. Clinton's
statement came in the week of suggestions by nine European NATO members that
Slovenia and Romania should also be invited now. It appears to have ended the
discussion, even though it clearly angered many Europeans both inside and
outside the alliance.
        The following day, Neris Germanas, the foreign policy adviser to Lithuan
 ian
President Algirdas Brazauskas, told journalists that the U.S. declaration,
while likely definitive, is not an end to the matter. Germanas suggested that
the differences between the U.S. and some of its NATO allies on whether the
number of new members should be three or five might give Lithuania, its Baltic
neighbors and other East European states a chance to extract a promise for the
future. What Vilnius is looking for, he went on to suggest, is a commitment by
the alliance to include the Baltic countries as members in the second or, at
worst, third round.
        Germanas' suggestion is nothing new. During the past two years, Lithuani
 an
officials have urged the Western alliance to identify all the countries that
will be invited eventually and then indicate when any particular one will be
included. Such a strategy--called by some the "first who, then when"
approach--would give a kind of surrogate security to countries not included in
an early round and would prevent the emergence of an insecure gray zone
between the alliance and Russia.
        What makes the Lithuanian suggestion especially interesting is that Viln
 ius
has been very much opposed to the proposals of some European countries to take
in five, as opposed to three. Like some Europeans and many Americans,
Lithuanians have been very frank in expressing their view that inviting five
new members now would almost certainly delay a second round, if not rule out
any possibility of future growth altogether. That is because many in the West
would see such a step as somehow final owing to the reactions it would produce
both at home and in Russia and owing to the difficulties and expense current
members would face in absorbing five rather than three.
        Germanas's comment indicates that the Lithuanian government is clearly
calculating that differences between Washington and some of its European
allies open the door to negotiations. Vilnius is thus likely to step up its
campaign for a declaration that a second round will take place at a precisely
defined time and that the alliance is prepared to declare that Lithuania will
be invited to join at that time.
        Whether that strategy will work or whether the Lithuanians are taking th
 is
step because they do not know what else to do remains to be seen. But their
approach means that the 12 June U.S declaration may be the last word on the
first round of NATO expansion. But it almost certainly will not be the last
one on the question of the future growth of the Western defense alliance.




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