The only thing one knows about human nature is that it changes. - Oscar Wilde
RFE/RL NEWSLINE

Vol. 1, No. 73, Part II, 15 July1997


Vol. 1, No. 73, Part II, 15 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
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Back  issues of the OMRI Daily Digest are available through OMRI's
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Headlines, Part II

* U.S. SECRETARY OF STATE COMMENTS ON SLOVAKIA'S NATO
MEMBERSHIP PROSPECTS

* ALBANIANS VOTED 2:1 AGAINST MONARCHY

* UN EXTENDS SLAVONIAN MANDATE

End Note : WESTERN MACEDONIA'S VICIOUS CIRCLE OF VIOLENCE

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EAST-CENTRAL EUROPE

BELARUSIAN PRESIDENT TO STICK TO HIS POLICIES. Alyaksandr
Lukashenka told journalists on 14 July during a tour of the Vitebsk
region that he assesses "positively the changes which have taken
place in Belarus in the last three years." He said he has pursued the
right course and is not going to change it. After visiting several
enterprises, Lukashenka ordered that a Decree on Strengthening
Responsibility and Discipline in the Republic be prepared as soon as
possible. "Iron discipline and order first and foremost," Lukashenka
commented to journalists. The presidential administration has begun
drafting the decree, which will be aimed at improving discipline at
work and increasing the personal responsibility of individuals

ONLY ONE CANDIDATE FOR UKRAINIAN PREMIERSHIP. Valery
Pustovoitenko, the chief campaigner for President Leonid Kuchma in
the presidential elections, is the sole candidate for the post of prime
minister, recently vacated by Pavlo Lazarenko, Interfax reported on
14 July. Lazarenko stepped down ostensibly for health reasons. All
parliamentary caucuses have supported the nomination of
Pustovoitenko, who moved to Kyiv in 1994 from Dnepropetrovsk,
where he was mayor. He is president of the Ukrainian Soccer
Federation. The parliament will discuss his nomination on 16 July.
According to sources close to Kuchma, a presidential decree on
Pustovoitenko's appointment has been drafted.

LATVIAN TRANSPORT MINISTER SAYS HE WILL NOT RESIGN. Vilis
Kristopans has told journalists he will not submit his resignation, BNS
reported. The Prosecutor-General's Office recently found that the
minister violated the anti-corruption law by not resigning several
posts outside the government (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 14 July 1997).
Kristopans said that if he were to resign, he would be "confessing to
wrongdoing that I am not responsible for." His lawyer stressed that
before the anti-corruption law went into effect in August 1996,
Kristopans had already ceased all activities at the companies in
which held posts. Kristopans has yet to discuss the matter with Prime
Minister Andris Skele.

SOME 100 DETAINEES FLEE REFUGEE CENTER IN LITHUANIA. More
than 60 detainees who fled a refugee center in Pabrade, eastern
Lithuania, on 11 July have been arrested, BNS and dpa reported. The
detainees escaped during a riot that broke out when illegal Chinese
migrants clashed with security guards. Refugees of other nationalities
joined forces with the Chinese migrants, and a total of 98 inmates
were able to flee the center in the chaos. Eleven escapees were
caught trying to enter Belarus, while 52 were arrested in Lithuania.
Camp guards have been reinforced by Interior Ministry troops, and
talks are under way between center officials and the refugees in a
bid to ease tensions. Pabrade was originally intend to accommodate
400 people or 600 in case of emergency. Currently, more than 800
illegal migrants are being detained at the makeshift camp.

UPDATE ON FLOODS IN POLAND, CZECH REPUBLIC. Polish authorities
on 14 July issued more flood warnings for towns in the southwestern
part of the country, as flood waters continued to move downstream
along the Oder River. More than 300 Polish cities and villages remain
fully or partially submerged. At least 36 people are reported dead.
National Labor Office head Andrzej Pilat has been given wide powers
to oversee long-term reconstruction. The parliament will return from
its recess on 16 July to amend this year's budget to allow increased
borrowing for flood repair damage. A day of national mourning has
been declared in Poland for 18 July. Meanwhile in the Czech
Republic, flood waters have begun to recede. Authorities report at
least 37 deaths and tens of thousands of people homeless. Thousands
of army troops and rescue personnel continue to deliver emergency
supplies to the hardest-hit areas. The Czech government on 14 July
discussed appointing a temporary minister to administer flood relief
and reconstruction. The total cost of the cleanup and reconstruction is
now estimated at up to $3.3 billion.

POLISH PRESIDENT, PREMIER IN GERMANY. Aleksander Kwasniewski
and Prime Minister Wlodzmierz Cimoszewicz visited Bonn on 14 July
for meetings with German Chancellor Helmut Kohl. Germany says it
wants to make summits with Polish officials a regular event. At a
news conference with Kwasniewski and Cimoszewicz, Kohl said he
expects the European Executive Commission to announce soon that
Poland is ready for EU membership. Kohl said Germany will continue
to support Poland's efforts to join the EU as quickly as possible and
noted that ties between the two countries are at their highest point
this century. Germany is making available emergency aid to help
Poland cope with flooding.

U.S. SECRETARY OF STATE VISITS PRAGUE... In a televised speech on
14 July, Madeleine Albright told a gathering of Czech politicians,
cultural figures, diplomats, and other guests in Prague that NATO's
decision to admit the Czech Republic will help bring it "fully, finally,
and forever" into the European community of nations. But she said
that the Czech Republic will have to make a "first-class commitment"
to the alliance. She said this included continuing its peacekeeping
commitment in Bosnia-Herzegovina, completing its efforts to
modernize and streamline its military to meet NATO standards, and
following through on economic reform. Albright said the NATO
decision was proof of "unjustice undone." Earlier Albright met with
leading Czech politicians and held a joint press conference with
President Vaclav Havel.

...COMMENTS ON SLOVAKIA'S NATO MEMBERSHIP PROSPECTS.
Following her meeting with Havel on 14 July, Albright told
journalists in Prague that "Slovakia must realize that to be a NATO
member requires to democratize life in the country, to have a
functioning market economic system, and to be active." At the same
time, she said it is important for NATO member countries and
applicants that Slovakia be not isolated. She added that she had
recently discussed this with Slovak Premier Vladimir Meciar in
Madrid. The two politicians had agreed on a "program of confidence,"
which, if Slovakia fulfills it, should help overcome objections to
Slovakia's NATO admission. Albright said that she assured Meciar
during their meeting that the U.S. wanted Slovakia to join NATO.

U.S. AMBASSADOR CRITICAL OF SLOVAKIA. U.S. Ambassador to
Slovakia Ralph Johnson said at a public lecture in Bratislava on 14
July that the U.S. cannot support Slovak admission into NATO because
of anti-democratic developments in some areas. He pointed to the
growing centralization of power and to the intolerant and unjust
treatment of people whose opinions differ from those of the
government. Johnson said that the U.S. has repeatedly told Slovakia
about its reservations with regard to developments in the country.
He noted that omitting Slovakia from the first wave of NATO
expansion was not the result of some secret anti-Slovak conspiracy
but "of political decisions made in Bratislava, not in Washington or
Brussels."

INTERNATIONAL MILITARY EXERCISES IN SLOVAKIA. The
international aviation exercises Cooperative Key 97 began in Slovakia
on 14 July, Slovak radio reported. The five-day exercises involve
NATO troops and some Partnership for Peace countries, including the
Czech Republic, Macedonia, Hungary, Moldova, Romania, and
Slovakia. The aim of the exercises is to practice peace operations, the
evacuation of civilians, and cooperation between troops. The
exercises, which are taking place at the Piestany and Sliac airports,
involve 630 soldiers. Meanwhile, Polish President Kwasniewski has
postponed his official visit to Slovakia from 16-17 July due to the
floods in southern Poland, Slovak Radio reported, citing diplomatic
sources in Warsaw.

HUNGARY'S CHRISTIAN DEMOCRATS OUSTED FROM EUROPEAN
ORGANIZATION. The Hungarian Christian Democratic Party (KDNP)
has been ousted from the European Union of Christian Democrats
(EUCD) because of its "unacceptable links" with the far-right
Hungarian Justice and Life Party. In a letter to KDNP chairman
Gyoergy Giczy, published on 15 July in the daily "Magyar Hirlap,"
EUCD president W. G. van Velzen says the KDNP "expelled itself" from
the organization by failing to fulfill the pledge made earlier this year
to break off ties with Istvan Csurka's party. The KDNP has been
besieged by conflicts in recent months. The so-called Barankovics
Platform Group opposes the leadership of Giczy (see "RFE/RL
Newsline," 14 July 1997), who is viewed as being largely responsible
for the policies of cooperation with the extreme nationalists.. The
party has 23 representatives in the 386-seat parliament, of whom a
large number are opposed to Giczy.

OPPOSITION TO NATO MEMBERSHIP IN HUNGARY. Hungarian media
reported on 15 July that opposition to NATO membership in Hungary
is largely concentrated around extremist extra-parliamentary
parties. Gyula Thurmer, the chairman of the far-left Workers' Party,
said his formation will take "numerous steps" in the next months to
impede Hungary's accession to NATO, including demonstrations
outside U.S. military installations in Hungary. Thurmer said the
Workers' Party will also initiate talks with other leftist parties in
Western Europe on how to prevent the ratification of the Madrid
summit decisions by parliaments in the West. The far-right
Hungarian Life and Justice Party is also opposed to membership in
NATO.

SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE

ALBANIANS VOTED 2:1 AGAINST MONARCHY. The Central Election
Commission announced in Tirana on 14 July that 66.7 percent of the
voters in the 29 June referendum opposed the restoration of the
monarchy. Supporters of Leka Zogu, the claimant to the throne, said
the earliest returns showed a victory for the king. They added that
the Socialists manipulated subsequent results and stole the vote from
the monarch. They have produced little evidence to support their
findings. Leka returned home to South Africa following a rally at
which he and some of his supporters were armed (see "RFE/RL
Newsline," 14 July 1997). The royalist party won only two seats in
the parliament. The relatively high vote for the monarchy in the
referendum probably reflects popular disgust toward the established
politicians rather than enthusiasm for Leka.

MILOSEVIC TO BE ONLY CANDIDATE FOR YUGOSLAV PRESIDENCY.
Two parliamentary committees meeting in Belgrade on 14 July ruled
that Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic is the only approved
candidate for the federal Yugoslav presidency. The committees said
that "five politically unknown persons" who announced their
respective candidacies had not legally registered as candidates, an
RFE/RL correspondent reported from the Serbian capital. The
parliament must elect a new president by 25 July, which will be one
month after former President Zoran Lilic's term expired. Milosevic is
constitutionally barred from another term as Serbian president. Also
in Belgrade, BETA reported that the first round of the Serbian
presidential elections will take place on 14 September and the
second round two weeks later. Parliamentary elections will also be
held on 28 September.

MUTUAL RECRIMINATIONS CONTINUE IN MONTENEGRO. The steering
committee of the governing Democratic Socialist Party (DPS) met in
Podgorica on 14 July and overturned recent decisions by the
Podgorica and Pljevlja party branches to expel reformists from their
ranks (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 14 July 1997). The steering committee
reaffirmed its support for the reformist DPS leadership opposed to
Milosevic, but it turned down motions to expel pro-Milosevic
President Momir Bulatovic from the party, BETA reported on 15 July.
Bulatovic has called a party congress for August, at which he expects
to rout his opponents, who control the steering committee. DPS
President Milica Pejanovic-Djurisic charged that Bulatovic wants to
purge the DPS at the congress. She added, however, that the congress
will not be held by the DPS but by a "new party of Momir Bulatovic,"
the Belgrade daily "Danas" reported on 15 July.

UN EXTENDS SLAVONIAN MANDATE. The UN Security Council voted
in New York on 14 July to extend the mandate for the United Nations
Transitional Administration in Eastern Slavonia (UNTAES) for six
months. The mandate was slated to end on 15 July, when full
Croatian control was to have been restored. Some 2,000 UNTAES
troops will leave soon, and the remaining 3,000 will depart by 15
January. The UN wants to be sure that all refugees who want to
return to their homes in the area are able to do so, and that the
rights of local ethnic Serbs will be respected. Croatian Foreign
Minister Mate Granic said in response to the resolution: "Croatia does
not have a problem with its minorities. It has difficulties with
reintegrating one segment of one minority group that chose to take
up arms." In Vukovar, UNTAES officials welcomed the resolution and
said that much work now needs to be done to resettle refugees.

ANOTHER EXPLOSION ON BOSNIAN SERB TERRITORY. Officials of the
Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe said in Pale on
15 July that an explosion took place outside an apartment building
housing OSCE workers in Banja Luka. Many windows were broken,
but no injuries were reported. OSCE spokesmen said there seems to
be an orchestrated anti-foreign campaign within the Republika
Srpska following NATO's recent direct intervention against indicted
war criminals. Bosnian Serb state-run media have raised the level of
their xenophobic rhetoric in recent days following NATO's move
against the war criminals and the sentencing of Dusan Tadic in The
Hague for wartime atrocities (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 14 July 1997).

PLAVSIC SAYS KRAJISNIK IS JUST AN "EMPLOYEE." Republika Srpska
President Biljana Plavsic said in Banja Luka on 14 July that Momcilo
Krajisnik, the ethnic Serb member of the Bosnian state presidency, is
an "employee of the country. He has no competence to [involve
himself] in matters of the constitution of the Republika Srpska."
Krajisnik and other backers of Radovan Karadzic are working to
overturn Plavsic's recent decision to dissolve the parliament and hold
new elections in September. Plavsic seems determined not to give
any ground to her opponents, even though she fears that the ongoing
confrontation with NATO will attract popular support to Karadzic and
his allies.

SLOVENIA NOW SET TO JOIN EU? The parliament voted on 14 July to
amend the constitution to permit foreigners to own property. The
amendment removes the last major obstacle in the way of Slovenia's
ratifying its association agreement with the EU. Ratification is
expected on 15 July, and Slovenia hopes to become a full member of
the union within ten years. The property issue is politically sensitive
because many Slovenes fear that lifting the ban will lead to a
massive buy-up of property by Italians, whose families left Slovenia
in the wake of World War II.

ROMANIAN PRESIDENT IN JAPAN. Emil Constantinescu, who is
currently on a five-day visit to Japan, met with Premier Ryutaru
Hashimoto on 14 July and discussed several possible Japanese
investment projects in Romania. Constantinescu called on Tokyo to
establish a "special economic partnership" with Bucharest. Hashimoto
said Japan viewed Romania as a "pillar" in Central and Eastern
Europe on which Tokyo is now focusing its interest. Foreign Minister
Adrian Severin and his Japanese counterpart, Yuchihiko Ikeda,
signed several agreements, including one that provides for a $194
million loan to develop port facilities and road construction. This is
the first government-guaranteed loan that Japan has signed with a
former communist country, according to Radio Bucharest. Also on 14
July, Finance Minister Mircea Ciumara and the Japanese director of
EXIMBANK signed an agreement for a $50 million loan for the
restructuring of the finance and banking sector.

ROMANIAN FOREIGN MINISTRY ON EU MEMBERSHIP. In a press
release on 14 July, the Foreign Ministry says it is confident the EU
summit scheduled for December in Luxembourg will find "non-
discriminating solutions" to the enlargement of the union. It adds
that if reports saying the EU Commission recommends beginning
membership talks with only six countries are confirmed, this would
signify a "departure" from the agreement to open negotiations with
all candidates on the basis of full equality. In other news, the State
Property Fund (FPS) on 14 July announced that 940 state enterprises
have been privatized since the beginning of 1997, which is 300 more
than the number registered for the same period last year. Of the
enterprises privatized so far this year, 821 were defined as "small,"
105 as "medium," and 14 as "large." Since December 1992, more than
4,000 state enterprises have been privatized, the FPS said.

MOLDOVAN PRESIDENT PROPOSES AMENDMENT TO LAND LAW. Petru
Lucinschi on 14 July proposed an amendment to the land law to
allow the distribution of plots to teachers, doctors, and other public-
sector employees in rural settlements, BASA-press reported. The
agency says that because of low wages and salary arrears, many
qualified specialists are leaving the countryside to seek jobs
elsewhere. In other news, ITAR-TASS reported that the first private
Slavic university was opened in Chisinau. Its founders are the Slavic
Languages and Culture Foundation; Russian, Ukrainian, Bulgarian,
Polish, and Belarusian ethnic minority organizations; and several left-
wing organizations and parties. University president Oleg Babenko
told journalists that teaching will be in Russian, Ukrainian, Bulgarian,
Polish, and "partly in Romanian."

MOLDOVAN SECURITY MINISTER ON STAFF, KGB FILES. Tudor
Botnaru told the daily "Moldova suverana" on 12 July that some 30
percent of officers at the Ministry of Security were hired before
1990. He said staff levels have been reduced by "30-50 percent"
because many employees have quit. With regard to public access to
the files of the former KGB in Moldova, Botnaru said they are "top
secret" and that the time for making them public "has not yet come."
Only close relatives of people who were deported from Moldova are
permitted access to the files, provided they contain no other names,
he said.

END NOTE

WESTERN MACEDONIA'S VICIOUS CIRCLE OF VIOLENCE

By Fabian Schmidt

Almost a week has passed since massive riots broke out in Gostivar,
western Macedonia. So far, three people have died, more than 50
have been injured, and some 320 arrested. The conflict began after
the Macedonian parliament passed legislation on 8 July stipulating
that the Albanian flag can be hoisted from public buildings only on
national holidays and next to the Macedonian flag. But local officials
in Gostivar had hoisted the Albanian flag from the municipal building
during the six months before the law went into effect. Just one day
after the passage of the law, police forces went to Gostivar to take
down the flag, thereby sparking the riots.

Interior Minister Tomislav Cokrevski told the parliament on 10 July
that the police had been preparing to intervene immediately after
the legislation was passed. Since then, shops and offices have
remained closed; and there is a strong police presence in the streets
as well as a curfew in force. According to some reports, inhabitants
have begun stockpiling food reserves in anticipation of a worsening
of the situation.

But the flag issue was only a catalyst that brought long-simmering
tensions to the surface. At the root of the dispute is a strong mutual
distrust between ethnic Albanians and Macedonians. The decision to
send in the police and the level of violence that followed indicate
that both sides may be willing to go far in defending what they
regard as their respective interests. The motivation on both sides is
strong.

On the one hand, Macedonians fear the separatist aspirations of
Albanians and see Albanian irredentism as an existential danger to
their young and volatile state. The symbolism of the flag is so strong
that the Interior Ministry apparently considered it had no option but
to send in the police to enforce the law against the will of ethnic
Albanian local officials. But on the other hand, such tough conduct in
dealing with political conflicts serves to alienate many Albanians
even further from the Macedonian government. Most of them,
especially the large number of unemployed youth, feel discriminated
against by the Slavic-speaking majority and have become
increasingly desperate. The Albanians' repeated failure to achieve
their most basic aim of political and social equality through
Macedonia's political institutions reinforces that frustration and feeds
nationalism.

For example, the Albanians' long-standing demand for university
education in the Albanian language has met with only limited
positive response. The authorities have granted the Albanians a few
concessions, including the use of Albanian language at the pedagogic
faculty at Skopje University. Before the collapse of Yugoslavia, young
Macedonian Albanians at least had the possibility to study in their
mother tongue in Kosovo. After losing that opportunity when Pristina
University closed in 1989, they demanded the opening of an
Albanian-language university in Tetovo. But many Macedonians fear
that such a university would become a stronghold of separatist and
nationalist ideology, as in the case of the Albanian Studies
Department of Kosovo's Pristina University.

Tensions in Macedonia, however, continue to smolder. In 1995,
Skopje decided to crack down against the illegally founded Tetovo
University by using police force rather than trying to find a political
solution. Instead of isolating the ethnic Albanian nationalists by
opening negotiations with moderate academics, the government
turned the nationalist leaders into martyrs by imprisoning them for
a couple of months and then bulldozing their university building. But
that policy not only stoked nationalist sentiments among Albanians:
in early 1997; it also encouraged some nationalist Macedonian
students to protest the only real concession given to the Albanians,
namely the Albanian-language pedagogic faculty.

In this increasingly nationalist climate, it will be difficult for
politicians on either side to break the vicious circle of mutual
mistrust. The governing Social Democratic-led coalition government
is faced with a growing Macedonian nationalistic opposition and
seemingly feels the need to show the electorate that it can be tough
in the face of alleged Albanian separatism. But the apparent
toughness over the flag issue may, in fact, be seen as a sign of the
government's weakness. In any event, the tough policy is likely to
further alienate the Albanians and increase the danger of separatism.
The only way out of this cycle would be for each side to show good
will and to take each other's concerns seriously. But that seems
unlikely in view of the latest developments.

The author is a Balkan specialist focusing on Albania, Macedonia, and
Kosovo. He recently spent two months in Albania as a media
regulation adviser with the OSCE.


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