A man should never be ashamed to own he has been in the wrong, which is but saying, in other words, that he is wiser today than he was yesterday. - Jonathan Swift
RFE/RL NEWSLINE

Vol. 1, No. 61, Part II, 26 June1997


Vol. 1, No. 61, Part II, 26 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 GOVERNMENT PROMISES TO IMPLEMENT REFORMS


*FIVE SLOVAK OPPOSITION PARTIES AGREE TO FORM ALLIANCE


*ALBANIAN FINANCE MINISTER REFUSES TO SIGN ANTI-PYRAMID DECREE

End Note
HOLLOW VICTORY FOR MILOSEVIC IN MONTENEGRO

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EAST-CENTRAL EUROPE

BELARUSIAN GOVERNMENT PROMISES TO IMPLEMENT REFORMS. The government on 25 June
signed a memorandum of understanding with the World Bank agreeing to implement
an economic reform package next year, an RFE/RL Washington correspondent
reported. The reforms include reducing currency controls and privatizing small
enterprises. The bank will provide loans of up to $100 million a year if
Belarus fulfills its commitments and ensures the irreversibility of the reform
process. The previous day, Christopher Willoughby, the bank's resident
representative in Minsk, said Belarus continues to back away from reforms and
is increasing state interference in the economy. The bank and the IMF both
suspended their lending programs to Belarus in late 1995 because the
government was not proceeding with reforms.

BELARUS ARRESTS FOUR FOR TRYING TO SMUGGLE OUT URANIUM. A spokesman for the
State Security Committee told journalists in Minsk on 25 June that four
people--one Belarusian and three foreigners--have been arrested for trying to
smuggle two kilograms of radioactive uranium out of the country. He said the
four were recently arrested in the city of Brest. They were charged with
illegally obtaining the uranium and trying to smuggle it abroad, where they
hoped to sell it for $100,000. The spokesman said initial tests had shown the
uranium to be radioactive but not enriched to weapons-grade quality.

UKRAINIAN PRIME MINISTER MAY HAVE TO UNDERGO SURGERY. Pavlo Lazarenko may have
to undergo surgery, Interfax-Ukraine reported on 25 June, citing the chief
doctor of the hospital in which Lazarenko is hospitalized. "An operation is
not ruled out, however the date has not been set yet," he commented. Doctors
initially diagnosed exhaustion as the cause of the prime minister's illness,
but it has since been reported that he is suffering from "varicose veins and
arterial sclerosis." Lazarenko was "temporarily" dismissed by President Leonid
Kuchma on 19 June, ostensibly for health reasons. First Deputy Prime Minister
Vasily Durdinets was appointed acting prime minister the same day (see End
Note, "RFE/RL Newsline," 24 June 1997).

U.S. OFFICIAL IN BALTICS TO DISCUSS CHARTER. U.S. Deputy Assistant Secretary
of State Ronald Asmus arrived in Riga on 25 June for talks with Latvian
officials on a draft Baltic-U.S. charter, BNS reported. Earlier in the week,
Asmus had visited Tallinn and Vilnius to speak with officials there. He told a
news conference in Vilnius that the proposed charter is a "statement of shared
values, principles and the common vision that we have of a new, free,
democratic, undivided Europe." The document contains no security guarantees
but does provide for cooperation in defense. It will be politically, but not
legally, binding and is reportedly aimed at convincing the Baltics that the
U.S. regards them as fully fledged members of the West. During his visit to
Estonia, Asmus confirmed that the document should be signed at a "very high
level."

LITHUANIAN ROUNDUP. The parliament has begun to discuss the abolition of the
death penalty, BNS reported on 25 June. Last year, President Algirdas
Brazauskas urged a discussion on the issue; since then, the execution of
prisoners sentenced to death has ceased. There are currently nine prisoners
sentenced to death in Lithuania. Meanwhile, a poll conducted by the Vilmorus
market research center in early June shows Brazauskas heading the field of
potential presidential candidates. He won 27.2% of the vote, followed by
Valdas Adamkus, the U.S. environmentalist of Lithuanian origin, with 24.7%.
Parliamentary Chairman Vytautas Landsbergis scored 8.4%. A poll conducted last
month by Baltic Surveys, a Lithuanian-British company, had shown Adamkus in
the lead.

POLISH DIPLOMATIC ACTIVITY. President Aleksander Kwasniewski met in Warsaw on
25 June with Bulgarian Vice President Todor Kavaldjiev, RFE/RL's Warsaw
correspondent reported. Kavaldjiev also held talks with other Polish officials
on bilateral and international security issues. Among the issues discussed
were boosting agricultural trade and the repayment of a big grain loan Poland
made to Bulgaria last winter. Also on 25 June, German President Roman Herzog
arrived in Poland for an official visit. He is scheduled to travel to Gdansk.
Meanwhile, Polish Prime Minister Wlodzimierz Cimoszewicz starts a two-day
working visit to France and Holland on 26 June.

POLAND FAVORS WIDER NATO ENLARGEMENT. Prime Minister Wlodzimierz Cimoszewicz
said in Strasbourg on 25 June that the enlargement of NATO should not be
limited to the handful of countries expected to be invited to join next month,
Reuters reported. Addressing the Council of Europe's Parliamentary Assembly,
he said membership invitations expected to be issued to Poland, the Czech
Republic and Hungary should be only a first step.

CZECH COMMUNIST-ERA PRISONERS WILL BE COMPENSATED. The Czech government on 25
June agreed to make one-time compensation payments to political prisoners of
former Communist governments in then Czechoslovakia, CTK reported. Health
Minister Jan Strasky told reporters the government voted to pay a total of
around 400 million crowns ($12.6 million) to those who were sent to prisons
and labor camps for political reasons. Each political prisoner will receive
625 crowns ($21.5) for every month spent in a Communist jail between February
1948, when the Communists seized power in Prague, and November 1989, when the
"Velvet Revolution" took place.

CONTINUED CRITICISM OVER SLOVAK HISTORY BOOKS. Hans van den Broek, the EU
foreign affairs commissioner for Central and Eastern Europe, told journalists
in Brussels on 25 June that he has demanded Slovakia withdraw a book,
published with the help of EU funds, disclaiming the persecution of Slovak
Jews during World War II. He was speaking at a meeting with Slovak Foreign
Minister Zdenka Kramplova. The controversial book, The History of Slovakia and
the Slovaks by Milan Durica, was published by the Ministry of Education and
has been recommended by Bratislava as a handbook for history lessons in Slovak
schools. Among other things, the book claims that conditions in Jewish labor
camps in Slovakia were "close to the normal living conditions of the Slovak
population."

FIVE SLOVAK OPPOSITION PARTIES AGREE TO FORM ALLIANCE. Slovakia's Democratic
Party, Christian Democratic Movement, Democratic Union, Social Democrats, and
Green Party agreed on 25 June to form a political bloc, RFE/RL's Bratislava
office reported. The coalition, which will span the political spectrum and
will most likely be called the Slovak Coalition, will cooperate with the
coalition of Hungarian ethnic parties. The agreement is to be ratified by the
leaderships of the five parties on 28 June.

HUNGARIAN COMMISSION REJECTS REPORT ON PRIVATIZATION SCANDAL. A parliamentary
commission on 25 June rejected a report drafted by Tamas Deutsch of the
opposition Young Democrats on the so-called Tocsik scandal, Hungarian media
report. Marta Tocsik, a consultant who in 1996 was paid more than 800 million
forints ($5.3 million) for mediating between the state privatization agency
and local governments over the division of income from the sale of state
enterprises, was eventually dismissed and charged with mismanagement, fraud,
and forgery (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 10 June 1997). Deutsch's report said
members of the government carried "institutional responsibility" for failing
to properly exercise control. But the government-supporting majority on the
commission, as well as one representative of the opposition Smallholders
Party, voted six to four to reject the report. The Smallholders wanted Prime
Minister Gyula Horn and Interior Minister Gabor Kuncze to be personally blamed
for the scandal.

HUNGARIAN PARLIAMENT COMMISSION TO INVESTIGATE "KALASHNIKOV AFFAIR." The
parliamentary Defense Committee on 25 June decided to set up an ad hoc
commission to investigate the non-delivery of Kalashnikov automatic guns paid
for by Croatia, Hungarian media report. Commission chairman Jenoe Poda told
the daily "Vilaggazdasag" that the commission will try to find out what
happened to the $985,000 that Croatia paid to the Hungarian company Technika
Foreign Trade in 1990 for a shipment of rifles. The agreement stipulated the
delivery of 10,000 Kalashnikovs in four shipments. Three shipments were
delivered, but the fourth never reached Croatia. Technika has since been
liquidated by the APV Rt privatization agency. A Hungarian lawyer representing
Croatia has filed a claim with the APV Rt, demanding the return of the money
plus interest.

SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE

ALBANIAN FINANCE MINISTER REFUSES TO SIGN ANTI-PYRAMID DECREE. Arben Malaj on
25 June refused to countersign a presidential decree to regulate pyramid
investment schemes (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 25 June 1997). The Socialist Party
cabinet member said that while preparing the text, President Sali Berisha had
altered several key aspects of an earlier draft presented by the multi-party
government. Malaj added there is now little hope of ending the standoff before
the 29 June elections. "Dita Informacion" charged on 26 June that Berisha
issued the decree shortly before the vote to detract attention from political
disputes surrounding the elections and to deny the government enough time to
review the changes. The government had worked on legislation to make stable
companies out of some of the pyramids that were also operating other
businesses. The aim was to allow the pyramids to repay at least some of the
investors' original outlays.

VRANITZKY TRIES TO MEDIATE REMAINING ALBANIAN ELECTION CONFLICTS. OSCE
mediator Franz Vranitzky on 25 June met separately with Prime Minister Bashkim
Fino and the Central Election Commission to solve the remaining disputes
before the elections. Vranitzky made clear that it would be "a catastrophe for
all sides" if the election results appeared dubious, "Koha Jone" reported. He
announced a detailed plan for the election work of the OSCE monitors and the
multinational forces. He also told Fino that the cooperation between both
institutions is developing well, "Dita Informacion" wrote. He then held talks
with Socialist Party leader Fatos Nano to discuss the dispute over the closing
time of the polling stations.

TENSIONS RISE IN VLORA. Two members of the Democratic Party were killed in
Vlora and one injured, according to "Albania" on 26 June. The circumstances of
the killings are unclear, but "Albania" blamed the incident on "gangs of the
Socialist Party." According to "Dita Informacion," the city is plagued by
gang-wars. One group said it will actively fight Zani Caushi, who is a gang
leader and independent candidate for the parliament, "Indipendent" wrote.
Meanwhile, the 140th public meeting of the city's rebel committee turned into
a massive anti-Berisha rally on 25 June, according to "Koha Jone." Luftar
Petroshati, the head of the committee, claimed to have information that
"polling stations in Vlora will be blown up on election day." He added that
residents of entire districts have received anonymous threats not to leave
their homes to vote.

SERBIA'S MILOSEVIC PROMISES NOT TO YIELD ON KOSOVO. President Slobodan
Milosevic visited several towns in Kosovo on 25 June and told enthusiastic
crowds of local Serbs that he will never give up "even a single piece" of the
province. He also promised prosperity, saying that next year a highway will be
built to connect Kosovo with Montenegro and the sea. It was his first visit in
two years to the province, which has a 90% ethnic Albanian majority. Milosevic
launched his political career roughly 10 years ago by portraying himself as
the defender of Kosovo's Serbs. Local and foreign observers said his latest
trip should be seen in connection with the presidential and parliamentary
elections due later this year.

SERBIAN WAR VETERANS LAUNCH PROTEST. Several hundred veterans and invalids
from Serbia's wars in Slovenia, Croatia, and Bosnia launched a demonstration
in Belgrade on 26 June, BETA reports. They want full recognition of their
legal status as veterans and invalids and all the benefits to which that
status entitles them. They also want full survivors' benefits for the widows
and children of their dead comrades. Seven of the veterans began a hunger
strike in Belgrade on 17 June. Veterans protesting in Nis criticized the new
anti-Milosevic government in that city for also being insensitive to veterans'
issues, "Nasa Borba" wrote on 26 June.

SERBIAN UPDATE. Outgoing federal Yugoslav President Zoran Lilic named Veljko
Knezevic ambassador to Croatia on 25 June in Belgrade, an RFE/RL correspondent
reported from the Serbian capital. Knezevic is currently charge d'affaires in
Zagreb. In Athens, Greek Foreign Minister Kostas Simitis called for the
readmission of federal Yugoslavia into the international community. Yugoslav
Foreign Minister Radoje Kontic was on a one-day visit to Greece aimed at
bolstering economic links, including Yugoslav use of the port at Salonika. In
London, Yugoslav negotiators said that Belgrade can repay only $480 million of
the $2.4 billion it owes to foreign commercial banks as part of its share of
former Yugoslavia's debt. And in Belgrade, the Democratic Party blasted the
Socialists' proposal to increase the number of electoral districts from nine
to 29. The Democrats charge that the proposal will give the Socialists more
power at the expense of the smaller parties.

ROUNDUP FROM FORMER YUGOSLAVIA. Slovenia on 25 June became a full member of
the U.S.-sponsored program for economic development in southeastern Europe. It
had earlier objected to the project, saying it wants integration with Central
Europe and not with the Balkans. Croatia continues its opposition to what
President Franjo Tudjman says is a veiled attempt to resurrect the former
Yugoslavia. In Washington, the World Bank said it will delay a decision on a
$30 million loan to Croatia until 1 July because of a request for the
postponement by the U.S. (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 25 June 1997). And also in
the U.S. capital, Congress voted on 24 June to end funding for the Bosnian
peace mission on 30 June 1998.

ROMANIAN PREMIER ON U.S. VISIT. On his return from the U.S. on 25 June, Victor
Ciorbea said the eight-day visit prevented a "serious risk of deterioration"
in relations between Bucharest and Washington following the U.S. decision to
exclude Romania from the first wave of NATO enlargement, RFE/RL's Bucharest
bureau reported. He said that the U.S. has already set up a team to conduct
talks with Romania on the envisaged "strategic partnership" between the two
countries, adding that the Romanian side will establish its team in the next
days. Ciorbea also said his country will continue its drive to be admitted to
NATO in the first wave.

NEW ROMANIAN POLITICAL PARTY IN OFFING. Teodor Melescanu, who recently
resigned from the Party of Social Democracy in Romania (PDSR), told a press
conference in Bucharest on 25 June that the group that left the PDSR will
establish a new political formation, called the Alliance for Romania, RFE/RL's
Bucharest bureau reported. A committee has been set up to organize gathering
the 10, 000 signatures required by law for the registration of a political
party. Melescanu said the party will, above all, strive to advocate moral
principles in politics and to fight corruption. It will be a center-left,
Social-Democratic formation, he said.

HUNGARIAN MINORITY PARTY THREATENS TO WITHDRAW SUPPORT FROM ROMANIAN
COALITION. Bela Marko, the chairman of the Hungarian Democratic Federation of
Romania (UDMR), says his party may withdraw its support for the ruling
coalition in the parliament, Romanian media report. Marko says the coalition
is procrastinating on passing amendments to the education law agreed on with
the UDMR. The amendments provide for instruction in the mother tongue at all
levels of education and do away with the obligation to have history and
geography taught in the Romanian language. Unless the amendments are
immediately passed, the law cannot apply in the school year beginning 1
September. A majority of senators representing the largest coalition party,
the National Peasant Party Christian Democratic (PNTCD) opposes the cabinet's
intention to have the amendments adopted by government ordinance (which
ensures implementation before the parliament has approved the law).

TRANSDNIESTRIAN LEADER ACCUSES CHISINAU OF INTRANSIGENCE. Igor Smirnov on 25
June said the leadership in Chisinau was to blame for the lack of progress in
the talks on defining the breakaway region's special status, ITAR-TASS and
Infotag reported. Smirnov claimed the Moldovan leaders were adopting an
"intransigent" position because of the parliamentary elections scheduled to
take place in Moldova in 1998. Anatol Taranu, the head of the Moldovan
negotiating team, rejected the accusations, saying Chisinau has offered to
meet more frequently with Tiraspol's negotiating team but that offer was
rejected. He added it was to be expected that the talks would be a long and
difficult process.

MOLDOVAN PARLIAMENT PASSES AMENDED PRIVATIZATION BILL. The parliament on 25
June approved the privatization program for 1997-1998, an RFE/RL correspondent
in Chisinau reported. The passage of the bill required two rounds of voting
because deputies representing parties that support the coalition refused to
accept the draft submitted by the government. After negotiations, the
government agreed to include changes proposed by the opposition Popular Front
and Party of Revival and Accord. The amended bill was passed with their
support. The Socialist Unity-Edinstvo party opposed the passage of the bill in
both rounds of voting. The program envisages the privatization of 580 state
enterprises.

END NOTE

HOLLOW VICTORY FOR MILOSEVIC IN MONTENEGRO

by Patrick Moore

        Montenegro's ruling Socialists have endorsed Serbian President Slobodan
Milosevic's candidacy for the federal Yugoslav presidency. They have not given
him all the political concessions he wanted, however, suggesting that the
conflict between Belgrade and Podgorica is far from over.
        The governing body of Montenegro's Democratic Socialists Party (DPS) met
  in
Podgorica on 23 June and endorsed Milosevic to become president of the Federal
Republic of Yugoslavia by a vote of 56 to 31 with 10 abstentions. All three
deputy chairmen of the party, including Prime Minister Milo Djukanovic, voted
against Milosevic.
        Barred by the Serbian constitution from a third term in office as republ
 ican
president, Milosevic is trying to hold onto power by taking over the federal
presidency instead. That largely ceremonial office has been held since 1993 by
Zoran Lilic, who has faithfully done Milosevic's bidding throughout his
tenure. Pundits have been speculating for months that Milosevic would try to
take over from Lilic--who also cannot serve in that office again following the
expiry of his current term on 25 June--and to expand the powers of the federal
presidency, thereby turning that office into a real center of authority.
        Toward that end, Milosevic needs to make some changes in the constitutio
 n.
The first is for the direct election of the federal president in order to give
himself greater authority and legitimacy.
        Under the current system, both houses of the parliament (Federal Assembl
 y)
would elect Lilic's replacement by a simple majority. This, in itself, is no
problem for Milosevic, since he has a comfortable majority in both houses. But
if he seeks to change the constitution to increase his legitimacy or powers,
he will need to attract additional allies to muster the necessary two-thirds
majority. It may prove difficult for him to do so and still hang on to all the
parliamentary supporters he has now.
        Moreover, if he seeks to weaken the parliament, he risks massive opposit
 ion
from Montenegro In the lower house (Chamber of Citizens), each deputy
represents 65,000 constituents. But in the upper house (Chamber of Republics),
Serbia and Montenegro each have 20 representatives, even though Serbia's
population is ten times that of Montenegro.
        Many Montenegrin politicians thus fear that the proposed direct election
 s--or
any other constitutional changes Milosevic may try to make--would greatly
reduce their republic's influence in federal affairs by weakening the role of
the parliament, in which Montenegro obviously plays a role much larger than
its 600,000-strong population would justify. The Montenegrins' ultimate
concern, moreover, is that the constitutional changes would be simply the
first in a series of moves by Milosevic to eliminate the proud mountain
republic's autonomy. It thus came as no surprise when, on 23 June, the same
DPS body that endorsed Milosevic also decisively rejected his call for a
constitutional change to permit direct presidential elections.
        Tensions between Serbia and Montenegro are nothing new and have deep
historical roots. What is new is that the DPS, which was long loyal to
Milosevic and to his lieutenant, incumbent Montenegrin President Momir
Bulatovic, has now split into two rival factions. Bulatovic remains the chief
of the pro-Milosevic group. He has charged his critics with corruption, with
neglect of northern Montenegro's development, and with misuse of the
intelligence services. He has also sought a special party congress in the hope
that he can use it to defeat the opposition once and for all.
        The opposition is headed by Djukanovic, a flamboyant leader who is widel
 y
believed to have made his fortune as a war profiteer while federal Yugoslavia
was under tight sanctions. Now, however, Djukanovic denies Bulatovic's
accusations and argues that Montenegro needs all sanctions to be lifted in
order to restore shipping and tourism, which are its prime sources of hard
currency. He charges, moreover, that Milosevic's policies are responsible for
some sanctions remaining in place. Djukanovic's ultimate argument is that
Montenegro alone must be in charge of Montenegrin affairs and that Bulatovic
is little more than a satrap of an arrogant Belgrade-based leadership.
        The issues in the current dispute between Podgorica and Belgrade are ser
 ious
and complex--and hardly likely to go away soon. When Lilic's term ran out on
25 June, upper house speaker Srdja Bozovic took over as interim president. The
constitution says that elections must be held within one month, but so far
Milosevic is the only candidate.



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