It is easier to love humanity than to love one's neighbor. - Eric Hoffer
RFE/RL NEWSLINE

Vol. 1, No. 56, Part II, 19 June1997


Vol. 1, No. 56, Part II, 19 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

*BELARUSIAN PRESIDENT, OPPOSITION LEADERS MEET


*STRIKING ROMANIAN MINERS APPEAL TO PRESIDENT


*ALBANIAN SOCIALIST LEADER BARRED FROM ADDRESSING RALLY


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EAST-CENTRAL EUROPE

BELARUSIAN PRESIDENT, OPPOSITION LEADERS MEET. Alyaksandr Lukashenka and
representatives of the parliament dissolved last fall began talks in Minsk on
18 June on amending the constitution. Matthew Russell, an EU mediator in the
talks, told journalists in Minsk that the aim of the talks is to amend the
basic law to meet democratic standards. Russell said he and two colleagues
arrived in Belarus at Lukashenka's invitation to organize the project and
mediate the talks. The EU has accused Lukashenka of giving himself dictatorial
powers by amending the constitution following a controversial referendum held
in November 1996. European governments refused to acknowledge the referendum.
They suspended Belarus's special guest status in the European Council after
Lukashenka used his new powers to dissolve the lawfully elected parliament and
replace it with a legislature that supports him.

MINERS' STRIKE CONTINUES IN UKRAINE. Miners on 18 June protested in Kyiv for
the second consecutive day but said they will consider a government offer to
begin partial payments on back wages next month. The miners blocked the street
outside the government building in Kyiv, until Prime Minister Pavlo Lazarenko
addressed them. Lazarenko said that beginning 1 July, the state will pay out
$210 million over six months to cover back wages. The miners had wanted the
money paid within three months. The government reportedly owes farmers some
$800 million in unpaid wages. Viktor Derzhak, chairman of the Union of Coal
Industry workers, told journalists the miners will decide whether to continue
their protest after the government proposes a resolution on the issue of back
wages.

UKRAINE, TURKEY SIGN OIL PIPELINE AGREEMENT. Turkish Energy Minister Recai
Kutan and Anatoly Minchenko, Ukrainian state minister for industry and energy,
signed a deal on 18 June to build an oil pipeline from the Mediterranean to
the Black Sea through Turkey. The joint venture was signed in Ankara. Kutan
told journalists the pipeline will initially carry 40 million tons of crude
per year to Ukraine, whose oil demands are increasing. The Turkish state
pipeline company Botas will oversee the project. It is unclear when
construction of the project will begin.

UKRAINE MAY JOIN MILITARY ALLIANCE. Security and Defense Council Chief,
Volodymyr Horbulin, was quoted by Interfax on 18 June as saying Ukraine has
not ruled out discarding its pledge of neutrality and joining a military
alliance in the future. He added that the partnership pact Ukraine struck with
Russia in May does not prevent it from entering any military alliance it
chooses. Horbulin also said the Ukrainian government will go ahead with the
production of tactical missiles, despite U.S. objections. He said he has sent
a letter to U.S. Deputy Secretary of State Strobe Talbott explaining the
decision.

SOME CHARGES AGAINST "ESTONIA" SHIPYARD DROPPED. The organization representing
relatives of the victims of the "Estonia" car ferry disaster has dropped some
complaints against the German builder of the vessel, according to
"Handelsblatt" on 18 June. Meyer Werft recently released a report claiming
that bad maintenance on the part of the ferry's Swedish owner caused the locks
of the bow door to fail (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 13 June 1997). The relatives'
organization says that, based on the findings of the report, it will make no
accusations against the shipyard about undersized hinges or locks of the bow
door. It says, however, that questions remain whether there were construction
weaknesses in the bow visor and ramp. The Swedish-Finnish-Estonian commission
investigating the incident is due to issue its final report later this year.
The "Estonia" sank in high seas off the southwest coast of Finland en route
from Stockholm to Tallinn in September 1994. More than 850 people died in the
sinking.

LATVIAN PRIME MINISTER ON CORRUPTION SCANDAL. Andris Skele appeared on
nationwide TV on the evening of 17 June to express his "great concern about
the political situation in Latvia," according to Interfax the next day. Recent
reports have suggested that many government ministers have violated the
anti-corruption law by holding positions outside the executive. Culture
Minister Rihards Piks resigned earlier this week over the affair (see "RFE/RL
Newsline," 18 June 1997). Skele said the scandal pointed to the emergence of a
"new and privileged group of people" who do not find it necessary to observe
the law. Moreover, it revealed "the ultimate alienation of the political elite
from society," he said.

DATE OF POLISH ELECTIONS SET. President Aleksander Kwasniewski has announced
parliamentary elections will be held on 21 September. Kwasniewski said in a
televised address on 18 June that he called the elections to put the country's
affairs in order and strengthen its democracy. By law, the elections have to
be held within a month before the end of the parliament's current term, which
falls on 14 October. Kwasniewski also said top government officials will have
to disclose any links they had with Poland's former secret police under the
lustration law, which he signed earlier that day. Also on 18 June, the
parliament approved setting up a Lithuanian-Polish Assembly, composed of 20
deputies from each country. Lithuanian parliamentary chairman Vytautas
Landsbergis, who had proposed setting up the assembly, was present during the
vote.

POLISH COURT CONVICTS FORMER OFFICIALS. The State Tribunal on 18 June
convicted two ranking officials in the last communist government for failing
to prevent duty-free imports of cheap vodka into the country. The tribunal
found former Minister for Foreign Economic Cooperation Dominik Jastrzebski and
former head of the Customs Office Jerzy Cwiek guilty of making wrong decisions
during 1988-1989 that cost the state treasury millions of dollars in lost
duty. The tribunal ruled that the two be barred from holding managerial
positions in state companies and deprived of the right to run for public
office for five years. Three other officials were acquitted.

CZECH PRESIDENT ASKS GOVERNMENT TO RESTORE PUBLIC CONFIDENCE. Vaclav Havel on
18 June called on the country's government to take steps to regain the
public's confidence. Following meetings with leaders of the four main
political parties, the president said Vaclav Klaus's government must present
the country with long-term policy proposals, adding that otherwise the public
will not understand the sacrifices required by the austerity measures adopted
to deal with the nation's economic troubles. Klaus's center-right government,
which narrowly won a confidence motion recently, has been rocked by a recent
decline in the value of the national currency and a growing balance of
payments deficit. According to a recent opinion poll, the public's trust in
the government has plummeted to 22%.

SLOVAKIA IS ASKED BY EU TO IMPLEMENT REFORMS BY NOVEMBER. At the end of a
three-day session in Bratislava, the joint EU-Slovak parliamentary committee
issued a statement on 18 June saying that Slovakia must implement specific
changes in domestic policy by the end of November. EU Commissioner Hans van
den Broek recently gave a similar deadline to Slovak Prime Minister Vladimir
Meciar. The joint committee consists of deputies of the European Parliament
and of the Slovak legislature. The committee recommended that Slovakia resume
political dialog between the ruling coalition and the opposition, ensure
opposition participation in special control committees to oversee intelligence
activities, and prepare legislation on the use of national minority languages.
If these criteria are met, the committee said, Slovakia will be able to join
other countries in opening talks on EU membership.

GERMANY SUPPORTS HUNGARIAN EU MEMBERSHIP. Visiting German Economy Minister
Guenter Rexrodt told a news conference in Budapest on 18 June that Bonn
strongly supports Hungary's bid for EU membership, Hungarian media reported.
In a meeting with Hungarian Prime Minister Gyula Horn, Rexrodt said "Hungary
will inevitably be at the top of the list" for EU membership. Thanks to the
country's consistent economic policy since 1994, Hungary can serve as a model
of economic transformation for Central and Eastern Europe, he added.
Meanwhile, Hungarian Foreign Minister Laszlo Kovacs said Hungary hopes to
conclude accession talks with the union by the year 2000 and that member
countries would ratify Hungary's membership in the EU by 2002. He said EU
officials consider Hungary's timetable "ambitious but not unrealistic."

SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE

OSCE WANTS ALBANIAN ELECTIONS TO GO AHEAD AS SCHEDULED. The presidency of the
Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe has urged that elections
go ahead, as scheduled, on 29 June, "Gazeta Shqiptare" reported. Meanwhile, 5
million cardboard ballot boxes arrived in Albania under the protection of
international forces. The printing of ballot papers is slated to begin soon in
Italy. Candidates lists from most of the 115 electoral districts are now
complete. One list comes from the rebel stronghold of Vlora and was published
only on 18 June, which is six days later than scheduled. Rebel leader Myrteza
Caushi, better known as Zani, will run as an independent candidate against
another rebel leader, Albert Shyti, who is a candidate of the Social
Democrats, "Indipendent" reported on 19 June. In Lezha, "Koha Jone"
editor-in-chief and independent candidate Nikolle Lesi now has the endorsement
of the Socialists and a large number of smaller parties, Lesi told an RFE/RL
correspondent.

ALBANIAN SOCIALIST LEADER BARRED FROM ADDRESSING RALLY. A group of armed men
stopped a Socialist Party convoy on the way to the north-central town of
Rreshen on 18 June and did not allow Party leader Fatos Nano to hold a rally
there. The Socialists finally held a meeting but without Nano, who later
charged President Sali Berisha and his "discredited clan" with having
organized the incident, "Gazeta Shqiptare" reported. Meanwhile in Tirana, the
Osservatorio di Pavia, an Italian institution specializing in TV monitoring,
published its analysis of last week's Albanian TV broadcasts. The report says
that public TV adheres strictly to the rules outlined in the election law and
provides air time for all parties, an RFE/RL correspondent reported. A
multi-party round table met until late in the night to discuss possible
last-minute changes in the election law. "Gazeta Shqiptare" says that no
details are available.

FINAL RESULTS OF CROATIAN ELECTIONS. Croatian Radio reported on 19 June that
the final tally for the 15 June presidential vote gives President Franjo
Tudjman 61.41% The Social Democrats' Zdravko Tomac follows with 21.03% and the
opposition coalition candidate Vlado Gotovac of the Liberals with 17.56%. Some
57.68% of voters in Croatia turned out, as did 23.49% of those living abroad.
Also in Zagreb, the governing Croatian Democratic Party (HDZ) and the Liberals
reached a cooperation agreement on 18 June, an RFE/RL correspondent reported
from the capital. The HDZ-dominated city council subsequently elected the
Liberals' Dorica Nikolic as deputy mayor. Gotovac and others in the Liberal
leadership opposed to cooperation with the HDZ blasted the deal. Liberal
Deputy Chairman Zlatko Kramaric said the party will probably formally split
soon over the issue of links to the HDZ.

WESTENDORP TAKES UP DUTIES IN BOSNIA. Republika Srpska President Biljana
Plavsic said in Banja Luka on 18 June that the Bosnian Serbs must not place
any obstacles in the way of an upcoming international donors' conference.
Earlier, Bosnian Serb representatives had balked at forming joint delegations
with the Croats and Muslims in contravention of the international community's
rules. She said such stubbornness would be "a luxury the Serbs cannot afford,"
since they have gotten very little international redevelopment aid to date.
She met with the international community's new high representative, Carlos
Westendorp. The former Spanish foreign minister, for his part, said that in
his new capacity, he will place emphasis on bringing indicted war criminals to
justice. Meanwhile in Brcko, the re-registration of voters has begun following
the discovery of massive fraud on the part of the Bosnian Serbs (see "RFE/RL
Newsline," 12 June 1997).

INTERNATIONAL PRESSURE ON BELGRADE. The U.S. administration on 18 June
proposed to Congress that future ties between Washington and Belgrade be
contingent on federal Yugoslavia's holding free and fair elections, ensuring
media freedom, cooperating with the Hague-based war crimes tribunal, and
granting broad autonomy to Kosovo, an RFE/RL correspondent reported from the
U.S. capital. The document calls for the U.S. and the OSCE to bring pressure
on Serbia to meet the conditions. Meanwhile, an RFE/RL correspondent reported
from Belgrade that Yugoslav Foreign Minister Milan Milutinovic wants "to find
out at first hand" what the recent EU summit in Amsterdam means for
Yugoslavia. The EU called on Belgrade to respect the 1996 report on democracy
in Serbia by former Spanish Prime Minister Felipe Gonzales and to grant
autonomy to Kosovo.

MONTENEGRIN PRESIDENT, PRIME MINISTER ADDRESS PARLIAMENT. Prime Minister Milo
Djukanovic addressed the parliament in Podgorica on 18 June, an RFE/RL
correspondent reported from the Montenegrin capital. He slammed what he called
"insinuations" about his wealth, which many Montenegrins believe came from
sanctions-busting during the Croatian and Bosnian wars. President Momir
Bulatovic is slated to address the legislature on 19 June in response to
opposition demands that he and Djukanovic explain the development of the feud
between them, which threatens to split the governing Democratic Socialist
Party.

UPDATE ON MACEDONIA, KOSOVO. In New York, representatives of Macedonia,
Greece, and the UN met on 18 June to launch new efforts to find a permanent
name for Macedonia. Greece has so far insisted that it be called "Former
Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia," or FYROM, because Athens says that the name
"Macedonia" alone implies territorial claims on the Greek province of the same
name. Skopje says the Greek claims are baseless. Meanwhile, EU spokesmen in
the Hague expressed alarm at reports that 20 of the Kosovars recently
convicted of terrorism had been tortured in Serbian custody. The Dutch
government, which holds the EU presidency, blasted what it called Serbia's
"non-respect for the rule of law."

ROMANIAN PRIME MINISTER MEETS WITH AL GORE. Victor Ciorbea says he and U.S.
Vice President Al Gore agreed on 18 June to set up a "special strategic
partnership" between their countries. Ciorbea, who met with Gore at the start
of a three-day visit to the U.S, told an RFE/RL correspondent that the
partnership is to "start immediately" but its details will be worked out at
meetings between the presidents of the two states later this year. Ciorbea
said he received explanations from Gore on the U.S. decision to limit
admittance to NATO in the first wave to three countries. He said Gore
reiterated the intention to have a second wave "from which Romania will not be
absent if it pursues the road on which it has started." Ciorbea said Romania
is still hoping to be admitted in the first wave. French European Affairs
Minister Pierre Moscovici told Senate Chairman Petre Roman in Paris on 18 June
that Romania should be admitted to NATO immediately, AFP reported.

STRIKING ROMANIAN MINERS APPEAL TO PRESIDENT. The striking miners in the Jiu
valley on 18 June appealed to Emil Constantinescu to mediate in their conflict
with the authorities. The miners say they did not demand a 45% increase in
wages but a retroactive 30% indexation, as implemented at other state-owned
enterprises in March. They say they are ready to negotiate on the remaining
15%. Also on 18 June, representatives of miners from other parts of the
country came to Petrosani to show solidarity with the strikers. Extremist
Greater Romania Party (PRM) leader Corneliu Vadim Tudor, whom the miners have
invited to go to the valley, told an RFE/RL correspondent that he was
"honored" by the invitation and was ready to go there with a PRM task force
"including five generals and ten parliamentarians."

ROMANIA'S MAIN OPPOSITION PARTY TO SPLIT? In a 18 June declaration, the
reformist wing of the opposition Party of Social Democracy in Romania (PDSR)
says the party must work out a program combining "social-democratic with
social-liberal" principles. The group headed by Teodor Melescanu calls on the
party to "clearly dissociate itself" from those involved in "notorious acts of
corruption" and to expel them. One of the group's leaders, Viorel Salagean,
told an RFE/RL correspondent that the PDSR may split if the group's demands
are rejected. But PDSR chairman Ion Iliescu says there is no danger of a
split, adding that those who may envisage it are politically "suicidal." The
former Romanian president also rejected the call for a more center-oriented
program. The PDSR is to hold its annual congress 20-21 June.

MOLDOVAN-RUSSIAN BORDER CONTROL COOPERATION AGREEMENT. An accord on
cooperation between Moldovan and Russian border troops was initialed on 18
June at the end of a two-day visit to Chisinau by the commander of Russian
border troops, Gen. Andrei Nikolaev. The documents must now be endorsed by
Presidents Petru Lucinschi and Boris Yeltsin, BASA-Press reported. The accord
provides for cooperation in information exchange, the search for suspected
criminals, and mutual technical assistance. Nikolaev told a press conference
that although the two countries have no common border, they must cooperate in
fighting illegal migration, smuggling, and particularly arms and drug
trafficking. During his visit, he met with President Lucinschi, Premier Ion
Ciubuc, Defense Minister Valeriu Pasat, and Security Minister Tudor Botnaru.

BULGARIAN FOREIGN MINISTER ON NATO MEMBERSHIP PROSPECTS. Nadezhda Mihailova
says she is optimistic about Bulgaria's prospects of eventual membership in
NATO. She told reporters in Washington on 18 June that her optimism is based
on what she has heard recently from U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright
and Deputy Secretary of State Strobe Talbott, an RFE/RL correspondent in
Washington reported. Mihailova said Bulgaria's record of stability and its key
position in the Balkans make it a "solid choice" for future NATO membership.
In other news, Dimitar Ganchev, deputy head of the Foreign Ministry's European
Integration Department, told Reuters on 18 June that the Amsterdam European
Union summit of this week was "an encouraging sign" for Bulgaria, since it
gives the country "more time to prepare to meet admission conditions."





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