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RFE/RL NEWSLINE

Vol. 1, No. 64, Part II, 1 July1997


Vol. 1, No. 64, Part II, 1 July1997

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

* LAST RUSSIAN STRATEGIC FORCES LEAVE BELARUS

* SLOVAK OPPOSITION LEADERS READY TO MEET WITH MECIAR

* ALBANIAN PRESIDENT ADMITS DEFEAT

End Note
CONFUSION PERSISTS IN ALBANIA AFTER THE ELECTIONS

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EAST-CENTRAL EUROPE

LAST RUSSIAN STRATEGIC FORCES LEAVE BELARUS. Sergei Yastrzhembskii, the
spokesman for Russian President Boris Yeltsin, told journalists in Moscow on
30 June that the last Russian strategic forces have left Belarus. He said that
the last missiles were formally removed from Belarusian territory in November.
Yeltsin has sent Belarusian President Alyaksandr Lukashenka a message noting
that the two countries have fulfilled their international obligations. Under
international arms control treaties, Russia has taken over the nuclear
arsenals of all the former Soviet republics. Yastrzhembskii said the SS-25
Topol (Poplar) missile systems taken from Belarus will continue to serve in
Russia for the defense of both countries, which have a mutual defense treaty.

UKRAINE SAYS IT NEEDS MORE THAN $300 MILLION TO SHUT DOWN CHORNOBYL.
Environment and Nuclear Safety Minister Yuri Kostenko Ukraine told journalists
in Kyiv on 30 June that $300 million pledged by the Group of Seven major
industrialized countries to shut down the Chornobyl nuclear power plant is not
enough. Kostenko said Ukrainian President Leonid Kuchma and U.S. Vice
President Al Gore will chair a conference of donor nations in the fall to
confirm or revise the plan for shutting down the plant. Under a memorandum
signed by the G-7 countries and Ukraine, Kyiv is to close the plant by 2000
with sufficient Western support. Kostenko said that Ukraine will need at least
$500-600 million to ensure the safety of the plant's destroyed reactor.

CZECH PRESIDENT IN UKRAINE. Vaclav Havel met with Ukrainian President Leonid
Kuchma in Kyiv on 30 June to discuss economic cooperation and European
security. Havel hailed Ukraine's favorable stance toward NATO expansion and
was quoted by Interfax as welcoming the charter Ukraine plans to sign with
NATO at the Madrid summit later this month. Kuchma said that the strategic
goal of Ukraine is integration into the EU. Ukrainian parliamentary speaker
Oleksander Moroz, however, criticized the planned expansion of NATO at his
meeting with Havel. He argued such a step is aimed against Ukraine, "Lidove
noviny" reported. Havel and Kuchma signed agreements on cooperation in nuclear
energy and industry, on avoiding double taxation, and on joint efforts in
fighting crime and drug-trafficking.

LATVIAN INTERIOR MINISTER RESIGNS OVER TALSI ACCIDENT. Dainis Turlais resigned
on 30 June over the tragic accident at a firefighters' celebration two days
earlier in the western town of Talsi, which killed eight children and injured
some 20 others (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 30 June 1997), BNS reported. Prime
Minister Andris Skele, who cut short a vacation in Britain to oversee the
investigation into the accident, accepted Turlais's resignation. The interior
minister said he felt "morally responsible" for what had happened at Talsi.
Also on 30 June, Firefighting and Rescue Service head Juris Labis handed in
his resignation. ITAR-TASS quoted Deputy Prime Minister Anatolijs Gorbunovs as
saying that it appeared that the firefighters had breached elementary safety
rules. President Guntis Ulmanis has visited Talsi to meet with the relatives
of the victims and with the injured.

LITHUANIA TO REINFORCE BORDER WITH BELARUS. Under the chairmanship of
President Algirdas Brazauskas, the State Defense Council on 30 June decided to
deploy army units closer to Lithuania's 650-km border with Belarus, ITAR-TASS
reported, citing the Lithuanian presidential press service. Speakers at the
meeting noted that large numbers of illegal immigrants seeking to reach the
West enter Lithuania through its eastern border. Parliamentary speaker
Vytautas Landsbergis expressed concern about the large number of illegal
immigrants from Asia and Africa who enter Lithuania. He commented "this is
becoming a dangerous phenomenon and threatens to destabilize the situation in
the country." Also on 30 June, the parliament passed a law defining the legal
status of those who were ""illegally persecuted by the occupational forces of
Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union." Such legal status will enable those people
to social welfare and other benefits.

POLAND, TURKEY SIGN MILITARY AGREEMENT. Polish Defense Minister Stanislav
Dobrzanski and Turkish General Staff deputy chief Cevik Bir signed a military
agreement in Ankara on 30 June aimed at cooperation in education, technology,
and science, dpa reported. The two officials told journalists that the
agreement defines the scope and principles of mutual cooperation. It provides
for cooperation in military training, logistics and logistical systems, the
defense industry, research, budget programming and planning, as well as
aviation and maritime technology exchange.

POLISH EX-COMMUNISTS' ELECTION SONG CAUSES STIR. The ruling Democratic Left
Alliance (SLD) has been accused of using a song to launch its election
campaign that sounds like a number by the Australian band Men at Work, Reuters
reported. The copyright owners, the Polish representatives of Sony Music
International, said they have heard reports that the melody resembles that of
a song performed by the Australian band. Sony also said the SLD has not
applied for permission to use the melody. Dariusz Klimaczewski, the spokesman
for the SLD, commented if there were any doubts about the song, it would not
be used in the campaign.

SLOVAK OPPOSITION LEADERS READY TO MEET WITH MECIAR. Following his meeting in
Prague on 30 June with Czech Senate Chairman Petr Pithart, Slovak Christian
Democratic Movement (KDH) chairman Jan Carnogursky told journalists he did not
rule out sitting at the negotiating table with Slovak Premier Vladimir Meciar.
"We do not reject talks, but we want them to be well prepared or else they
would be pointless and this would just deceive the public." Frantisek
Miklosko, the leader of the KDH parliamentary caucus, told Pithart that the
recently formed Blue Coalition, an alliance of five opposition parties, will
"almost certainly be victorious in Slovakia's next elections." Pithart noted,
however, that the coalition has been unable to come to an agreement on a
leader and future premier. Also on 30 June, official invitations to
round-table talks were sent from Meciar to parliamentary party leaders, the
Slovak daily "Pravda" reported. The talks are slated to take place on 4 July.

HUNGARY AWARDS PRIVATE NATIONAL TV LICENSES. The Hungarian Television and
Radio Commission has granted national television licenses to two Western-led
consortia. One consortium is headed by CLT-Ufa, which has interests in 19
television stations across Europe and in which the German media giant
Bertelsmann owns a 50% stake. Most of its stations operate under the banner of
RTL. The second consortium is led by the Scandinavian Broadcasting System
(SBS), of which the U.S.-based Walt Disney owns 22.8%. The tender is seen as a
setback for Central European Media Enterprises (CME), which had hoped to add a
Hungarian license to its Central and Eastern European portfolio. That porfolio
includes the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Slovenia, Romania, Ukraine, and Poland.

SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE

ALBANIAN PRESIDENT ADMITS DEFEAT. In a declaration broadcast on state
television, Sali Berisha thanked voters on 30 June for casting their ballots
and the international community for its assistance in the elections. He
acknowledged the defeat of the Democratic Party and called on his supporters
to respect the election results. Berisha urged his backers to help
"consolidate democracy in keeping with the principles enshrined in the law
[and] with dignity and courage [while serving as the] opposition." He did not
specify if or when he would resign as president. Berisha still has four years
of his present term to serve but said earlier that he would resign if his
party were defeated.

ALBANIAN ELECTION UPDATE. According to unofficial returns, the coalition of
the Socialist Party and the Social Democratic Party won 63 directly elected
seats, while the Democrats took only seven, "Indipendent" reported on 1 July.
In Lezha, independent candidate and "Koha Jone" owner Nikolle Lesi won his
contest. In the southern city of Korca, Pavli Kristaq Mykerezi of the Albanian
United Right coalition defeated presidential spokesman Genci Pollo. Elections
will have to be repeated in at least two districts, Malesia e Madhe in the
north and Skrapar in the south. Runoffs will be necessary in at least 18
districts and results are still not in from another 18. Preliminary official
results are expected in the evening of 1 July. Socialist leader Fatos Nano
said in Tirana on 29 June that Premier Bashkim Fino will hold "a high-ranking
position" in the next government.

OUTCOME OF ALBANIAN VOTE ON MONARCHY IN DOUBT. Uncertainty remained on 1 July
over the vote on the monarchy in the 29 June referendum. While the monarchists
claim victory, sources close to the Organization for Security and Cooperation
in Europe told an RFE/RL correspondent in Tirana they have no indication that
their claim is valid. "Albania," for its part, published a list of the cities
in which the monarchy allegedly took between 54% and 82% of the votes. These
include Tirana, Durres, Kavaja, Kruja, and Elbasan in central Albania;
Gjirokaster and Korca in the south; and Shkoder in the north. But in the
southern rebel stronghold of Vlora, only 30% of the voters reportedly opted
for a king. Meanwhile in Tirana, monarchists celebrated, but the Socialists
canceled a victory rally due to an increasingly tense security situation. Many
Albanians celebrated by firing gun shots into the air throughout the afternoon
and evening (see also "End Note" below).

BOSNIAN SERB PRESIDENT ACCUSES KARADZIC OF STAGING COUP... Biljana Plavsic
said in Bijeljina on 30 June that Radovan Karadzic is still running the
Republika Srpska from behind the scenes and that he attempted to stage a
"coup" against her the previous day (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 30 June 1997).
Plavsic added she is preparing a text that will show who actually controls the
Republika Srpska, an RFE/RL correspondent reported from Belgrade. Bosnian Serb
police continued to detain her early on 30 June, but international
peacekeepers took her later that day to a helicopter that transported her back
to her headquarters in Banja Luka. Observers in the former Yugoslavia and
abroad noted that the nationalist former professor is trying to establish the
rule of law against the mafia-like structures linked to Karadzic, Serbian
President Slobodan Milosevic, and Momcilo Krajisnik, the Serbian member of the
Bosnian joint presidency.

...BUT HER RIVALS DENY ACCUSATION. Krajisnik said that Plavsic is pursuing a
personal vendetta and "harming state interests," an RFE/RL correspondent
reported from Pale on 30 June. A spokesman for Karadzic stated that Plavsic is
"breaking the unity" of the Bosnian Serb leadership, BETA wrote. The Bosnian
Serb army meanwhile appealed to international peacekeepers to reduce their
presence on the road connecting the rival power centers of Pale and Banja Luka
and around the Bosnian Serb military command center at Han Pijesak. An army
spokesman said that the current crisis is political in nature and can be
"solved [only] by government institutions." The Bosnian Serb army is widely
believed to be sympathetic to Plavsic, while her rivals reportedly can count
on the Interior Ministry and the police. In Sarajevo, Muslim political leaders
charged that the police actions against Plavsic show that Milosevic is
interfering in Bosnia's internal affairs, "Oslobodjenje" reported.

HAGUE COURT LAUNCHES NEW STRATEGY AGAINST EX-YUGOSLAV WAR CRIMINALS. Chief
prosecutor Louise Arbour said in The Hague on 30 June that the recent arrest
and deportation of Slavko Dokmanovic from eastern Slavonia was legal, even
though the court had not previously announced his indictment (see "RFE/RL
Newsline," 30 June 1997). She also indicated that the court may order the
arrest of more war criminals without informing them of their indictment.
Belgrade dailies reported that the developments surrounding Dokmanovic have
left many Serbian leaders shaken. Meanwhile in Washington, U.S. military
officials expelled Bosnian Gen. Selmo Cikotic from an elite training course
after Croatia claimed he had committed atrocities against Croats in 1993, the
"International Herald Tribune" reported.

POLITICAL NEWS FROM FORMER YUGOSLAVIA. In Zagreb, Vlado Gotovac, the leader of
the Croatian Social and Liberal Party (HSLS) and defeated presidential
candidate, said on 30 June that he intends to remain head of the HSLS. He
added that the party's governing body will discuss the long-standing feud
between him and his rival Drazen Budisa, an RFE/RL correspondent reported from
the Croatian capital. In Belgrade, opposition deputies ended their boycott of
the parliament. They promptly introduced 1,300 amendments to the draft law on
local government in a bid to block the legislation, which the opposition says
will strengthen the hand of the governing Socialists. And in Podgorica,
President Momir Bulatovic now has four announced rivals for the presidency
from within his own Democratic Socialist Party, including its three vice
presidents.

ROMANIAN PREMIER WANTS MINISTRY SPOKESWOMAN FIRED. Victor Ciorbea is demanding
the sacking of a press officer from the Foreign Affairs Ministry who recently
criticized him (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 30 June 1997), RFE/RL's Romanian
Service reported. He said it is inappropriate for a person who attacks the
chief of a state administration to be employed by that administration. Ciorbea
initially demanded an explanation of spokeswoman Gilda Lazar's comments, but
Foreign Affairs Minister Adrian Severin has commented only that an
investigation is being launched. A statement issued on 30 June by the ministry
said Lazar will not be allowed to talk with journalists until the
investigation is completed. Lazar told RFE/RL's Bucharest bureau that she has
not been suspended. The Romanian daily "Ziva" recently quoted her as
suggesting that Ciorbea had been begging for NATO membership and financial
assistance during his recent visit to Washington.

GAZPROM THREATENS TO CUT SUPPLIES TO MOLDOVA. Gazprom on 30 June warned
Chisinau that it will cut gas supplies to Moldova unless debts totaling some
$500 million are repaid within a few days, Interfax reported. The same day,
dpa quoted an IMF official as saying that the Moldovan government should hand
over responsibility for the payments to the energy firms Moldenergo and
Moldovagas. Those two companies buy gas from Russia and sell it to customers
in Moldova. The IMF has accused Moldova of using credits from the fund to pay
off Russian debts. The IMF loans were earmarked for projects that help
establish a competitive, free market economy.

COUNCIL OF EUROPE OPENS INFORMATION CENTER IN MOLDOVA. The Council of Europe
on 30 June opened an information center in Chisinau, RFE/RL reported. Daniel
Tarschyz, the secretary-general of the council, attended the opening ceremony.
Moldovan President Petru Luchinschi said the center will promote the
establishment of democracy in Moldova. He noted that since Moldova joined the
Council of Europe two years ago, it has ratified 20 council documents.
However, Chisinau has yet to ratify the European Convention on Human Rights.

END NOTE

CONFUSION PERSISTS IN ALBANIA AFTER THE ELECTIONS

by Fasolt Kovacevic

        Initial returns from the 29 June parliamentary elections point to a land
 slide
victory for the Socialists. At the same time, Albanians may have voted in a
referendum to restore the monarchy.
        The purpose of the elections was to end confusion about Albania's politi
 cal
future. All parties agreed that clarification was necessary following the
country's descent into anarchy when get-rich-quick pyramid schemes collapsed
at the beginning of the year.
        But the results seem paradoxical and only add to the confusion. On the o
 ne
hand, Albanians voted to move to the Left and oust an administration that had
been increasingly accused of corruption and authoritarian methods. On the
other hand, according to monarchist Justice Minister Spartak Ngjela, between
50% and 60% of that same electorate may have voted to change the
constitutional system and return to a monarchy.
        The paradox is all the greater when it is remembered that the present
claimant to the throne, Leka Zogu, is the son of Zog I, who promoted himself
from president to king in 1928. The dynasty can hardly be considered to
represent a tradition that was either long or democratic. Moreover, Zog was
ousted by his Italian patrons in 1939. Many Albanians identify Zog's rule with
its small base of support in the central Mat region and with despotism and
corruption. Leka himself is known as an arms-dealer on account of his previous
business activities in the former Rhodesia and in South Africa. But Leka's
image as a successful businessman is appealing to many Albanians, who see him
as a "padrone" in the traditional, southern European fashion.
        A referendum result in favor of the monarchy may, in fact, be simply a
protest vote against current President Sali Berisha. This would explain the
apparent anomaly of the simultaneous victories of the Socialist Party and the
monarchists. At the same time, the results claimed by the Socialists and
monarchists suggest that the voters are looking for new options amid social
and political insecurity but without really knowing what they want. It cannot
be ruled out that the same voters will be cheering Berisha in the streets six
months from now if the current victors disappoint them.
        Nor is it clear what practical impact the referendum itself will have.
Berisha decreed holding such a vote, but it is non-binding on the parliament.
The constitution does not provide for referenda, and hence there are no rules
defining how to apply their results. What is more, the referendum did not ask
precisely what kind of monarchy the voters want. Ngjela assumes that the
constitutional provisions of 1928 would apply if the monarchy were to be
restored. But the referendum did not stipulate what kind of constitution would
be in force.
        It will be up to the new parliament to decide whether the referendum can
  be
considered valid. Even if Prime Minister Bashkim Fino is correct in his
estimate that 53% of the participating voters decided in favor of a monarchy,
that number may be far less than half of the total electorate. The parliament
could choose to disregard the results of the referendum on the grounds that
only a majority of all eligible voters can decide on such an important
constitutional question, as is the case under Danish law.
         The legislators could also argue that numerous technical irregularities
during the elections and the lack of security during the campaign preclude
recognizing the referendum as valid. But such a scenario is unlikely since the
newly elected legislators would also be casting doubt on the legitimacy of
their own mandates. They are more likely to object to the referendum on the
grounds that conditions in the country were chaotic at the time it took place.

        But before such questions are addressed, the legislators will have to ho
 ld
negotiations about possible coalitions. The Socialists offered to form a new
broad-based "reconciliation government" prior to the vote. It remains to be
seen whether they are ready to share their newly won power.

The author is a freelance writer on Albanian affairs.




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