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RFE/RL NEWSLINE

RFE/RL NEWSLINE Vol. 1, No. 78, Part II, 22 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

*LATVIAN PREMIER SAYS AGREEMENT REACHED ON RESOLVING
GOVERNMENT CRISIS

*PLAVSIC WILL NOT GIVE UP BOSNIAN SERB PRESIDENCY


*MILOSEVIC CRACKS DOWN AHEAD OF SERBIAN ELECTIONS


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EAST-CENTRAL EUROPE

IMF TEAM IN UKRAINE FOR TALKS ON LOANS. A delegation from the
IMF is scheduled to arrive in Kyiv on 22 July to begin discussions on
a one-year stand-by loan, RFE/RL's Washington correspondent
reported. The loan will be handled on a priority basis and is,
according to sources at IMF headquarters in Washington, expected to
be finalized and approved by the end of August. The loan, whose size
has yet to be determined, is in lieu of the planned three-year loan
program worth up to $3 billion that was put on hold in early July. An
IMF review team said Ukraine had not yet implemented enough
reforms to qualify for the loan.

UKRAINIAN FOREIGN POLICY, SECURITY DEVELOPMENTS. Ukraine
and Indonesia have agreed to work jointly to put satellites into orbit
and to share scientific data. A Ukrainian space official told Interfax
on 21 July that the agreement was reached two days earlier during a
visit by Indonesian officials. The two countries also pledged to
cooperate in building and launching satellites. Meanwhile, Russia is
about to hand over the first batch of warships to Ukraine under a
May agreement settling the dispute over control of the Black Sea
Fleet. The fleet's Rear Admiral Boris Chernishkov told Interfax on 21
July that warships, a submarine, several patrol boats, naval
destroyers, minesweepers, and other smaller vessels are to be
delivered.

CONTROVERSY OVER RUSSIAN GAS SUPPLIES TO BELARUS. Belarusian
First Deputy Prime Minister Piotr Prokopovich, speaking at a press
conference in Minsk on 21 July, denied earlier reports that the
Russian gas company Gazprom cut off shipments to Belarus because
of mounting unpaid debt. Prokopovich claimed that Belarus had paid
all current bills to Gazprom and had transferred another $80 million
toward payment of its 1996 debts. However, he did not deny that the
Belarus government had received notification from Gazprom that it
would reduce gas supplies to Belarus unless debts were paid. Earlier
reports indicated that Gazprom had reduced by half the flow of gas
to Belarus because of debts that, according to the Russian company,
amount to $203 million. Belarusians claim the debt does not exceed
$123 million. A Belarusian delegation is due in Moscow on 22 July to
discuss Minsk's remaining debt to Gazprom. Belarus officials plan to
offer a new schedule of payments for gas.

ESTONIAN FOREIGN RELATIONS. Chinese Deputy Foreign Minister
Zhang Deguang met with Estonian President Lennart Meri, Prime
Minister Mart Siimann, and Foreign Minister Toomas Hendrik Ilves in
Tallinn on 21 July, BNS and ETA reported. Zhang praised bilateral
relations and said he saw the potential to develop trade between the
two countries. Estonian exports to China remain well below imports
from that country. Zhang stressed that China sees Estonia as a
possible transit country for developing trade relations with northern
and western European states. He also said that Beijing "firmly
supports" Estonia's bid to join the EU and, though not in favor of
military blocs, backs Tallinn's wish to join NATO. Also on 21 July, a
visiting delegation from Taiwan met with deputy parliamentary
speaker Tunne Kelam and members of the parliament's Taiwan
support group, ETA reported.

LATVIAN PREMIER SAYS AGREEMENT REACHED ON RESOLVING
GOVERNMENT CRISIS. Andris Skele announced at a 22 July press
conference that he has reached agreement with the Cooperation
Council, which is composed of members of the ruling coalition parties,
on how to overcome the present government crisis, RFE/RL's Latvian
Service reported. Three ministers have resigned over violations of
the anti-corruption law; and Skele on 21 July called for the
resignation of Transport Minister Vilis Kristopans over his failure to
abide by that law. Interior Minister Dainis Turlais also quit his post
recently over the accident at the firefighters' celebration in Talsi,
which claimed the lives of eight children. Skele said parties must
announce their candidates for the vacant ministerial positions by 4
August. He urged the parliament to approve the new ministers by 6
August. Details of the agreement with the Cooperation Council are to
be released later on 22 July.

LITHUANIA, RUSSIA DISCUSS IMPROVING MILITARY TRANSIT.
Lithuanian and Russian officials have agreed to remove
"organizational difficulties" that have occasionally obstructed Russian
military transit across Lithuania, BNS reported on 21 July. Maj.
Sigitas Butkus, the Lithuanian acting commissioner for military
transport, said that a recent meeting in Vilnius of the two countries'
transport services focused on ways to improve adherence to
Lithuania's military transit regulations. The meeting came some two
months after a Russian military unit had been refused entry to
Lithuania from Kaliningrad Oblast; the unit had requested in
advance, but not received, a transit permit. Russian officials had said
the incident demonstrated "Lithuania's increased strictness" toward
Russian military transit, while Lithuanian officials claimed Russia had
sought to transport troops and cargoes from forces other than the
army. The Lithuanian Transport Service issues single permits for
military cargoes transiting Lithuanian territory.

RAIN SUBSIDES IN CENTRAL EUROPE. Rain subsided on 21 July across
Central Europe following two weeks of heavy falls have flooded huge
areas of land and left thousands homeless. The death toll has reached
52 in Poland and 47 in the Czech Republic. Polish officials on 21 July
denied Swedish press reports that recent flooding might add
significantly to pollution levels in the Baltic Sea. RFE/RL's Warsaw
correspondent quotes officials of the Polish Environmental Protection
Ministry as saying there is no danger of significant pollution flowing
into the sea from the Oder and Vistula Rivers. However, officials do
say that at least 56 sewer treatment plants have been flooded by the
overflowing rivers. The comments follow Swedish press reports that
flood waters were carrying heating fuel, fertilizers, industrial
chemicals, and other pollutants into the sea.

SLOVAK PRESIDENT CRITICIZES ATTACKS ON U.S. AMBASSADOR.
Michal Kovac has distanced himself from "verbal attacks" on U.S.
Ambassador to Slovakia Ralph Johnson made recently by Premier
Vladimir Meciar and Parliamentary Chairman Ivan Gasparovic,
RFE/RL's Bratislava bureau reported. Kovac met with Johnson on 21
July, one week after Johnson said in a public lecture that the main
reasons for Slovakia's failure to be included in the first wave of
NATO expansion were the centralization of power and the
government's intolerant attitude toward people who do not share its
opinions. Meciar accused Johnson of meddling in Slovakia's domestic
affairs. Gasparovic made a similar statement. Kovac said Meciar's and
Gasparovic's statements could not be considered the "legitimate
stance of the government and parliament" but rather were the
"private views" of the two leaders.

MEETING OF SLOVAK, HUNGARIAN FOREIGN MINISTERS. Zdenka
Kramplova and Laszlo Kovacs, meeting in Komarno, Slovakia, on 21
July, agreed that Slovak Prime Minister Meciar will hold talks with
his Hungarian counterpart, Gyula Horn, in Gyor, Hungary, on 15
August, Slovak and Hungarian media reported. A statement after the
meeting said the prime ministers will focus on European integration
and the implementation of an awaited ruling by the International
Court in The Hague on the controversial Gabcikovo dam project. The
last official meeting between Meciar and Horn was in Paris in early
1995, when they signed a friendship treaty under the auspices of the
EU. Hungarian media report that the two foreign ministers were
unable to agree on a number of issues and that setting the date of
the prime ministers' meeting was the only result of the three-hour
meeting.

HUNGARIAN CHRISTIAN DEMOCRATS LOSE PARLIAMENTARY
FACTION STATUS. Ten members of the Christian Democratic People's
Party's (KDNP) parliamentary faction decided to quit the group on 21
July, Hungarian media reported. The KDNP now has only 13 deputies
in the parliament. Under house regulations, the party must have at
least 15 seats in order to qualify as a parliamentary faction. The 10
deputies who quit the KDNP, including party chairman Gyoergy Giczy,
want to establish a new Christian Democratic group. Those who
remain in the faction recently distanced themselves from the party
leadership's policies (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 16 July 1997).

HUNGARY EXPANDS ECONOMIC TIES WITH CHINA. Visiting Hungarian
Finance Minister Peter Medgyessy said on 21 July in Beijing that the
Bank of China will shortly open a regional office in Budapest,
Hungarian media reported. At a meeting with Chinese Deputy Prime
Minister Li Lanching, Medgyessy discussed a $40 million credit from
Eximbank to facilitate Hungarian exports to China. The two ministers
agreed to establish in the near future a share-holding company that
would promote bilateral trade and inform Hungarian companies of
Chinese development tenders. Hungary's trade deficit with China was
up 68 percent last year on the 1995 level, exceeding $175 million.

SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE

PLAVSIC WILL NOT GIVE UP BOSNIAN SERB PRESIDENCY. Republika
Srpska President Biljana Plavsic said on Banja Luka TV on 21 July
that she intends to finish out her term in 1998, despite her recent
expulsion from the governing Serbian Democratic Party (SDS). She
charged that she "was not suitable for the party because [she] was
merely insisting on resolving the crime problem in the Serb republic.
Such widespread crime is the reason why the state cannot pay its
workers and pensioners." Plavsic added that Karadzic chaired the
meeting at which the SDS's governing body expelled her. Her
campaign against the wealthy war profiteers, whom she claims run
the Republika Srpska, has much appeal to ordinary Serbs, whose
average income is $35 per month.

JOINT POLICE PATROLS BEGIN IN MOSTAR. The UN police said in
Herzegovina's main town on 21 July that Croatian and Muslim police
have begun joint patrols on both sides of the Neretva River. In the
coming weeks, more men will be added to the units, which will
expand their beats to include more parts of the region. The Muslims
have charged the Croats with sabotaging previous attempts in Mostar
to set up joint patrols by the nominal allies, and the Croats argue that
the Muslims obstruct practical cooperation in central Bosnia. Most
observers agree that smooth teamwork on the ground between the
Croats and Muslims is essential if their federation is ever to become
more than just an agreement on paper.

MILOSEVIC CRACKS DOWN AHEAD OF SERBIAN ELECTIONS. In recent
days, the Serbian authorities have closed down several local radio
stations and a television station in Kraljevo in the south. Some
reports suggest that there have been closures in other towns as well.
Officials claim that the stations are not legally licensed, but
independent media spokesmen argue that the crackdown on the non-
state stations is part of the governing Socialists' preparation for the
Serbian elections due in September. Opposition spokesmen said in
Belgrade on 20 July that they may boycott the vote following recent
changes in the election law that clearly work to the Socialists'
advantage.

IS VATICAN HOLDING USTASHA GOLD? A recently released U.S.
intelligence document from 1946 suggests that the Vatican held for
safe-keeping gold sent by the pro-Axis Croatian government during
World War II. It is unclear how much of the original gold valued at
some $120 million might remain in the Vatican, which has not yet
commented on the reports carried by Western media on 22 July. The
press accounts say the Ustasha regime confiscated the gold from its
own Serbian, Jewish, Roma, and moderate Croatian citizens.
Meanwhile in Split, "Feral Tribune" reported on 21 July that the
bibliography of President Franjo Tudjman's works in the country's
two main libraries has been purged of almost all his writings from
the 1950s and 1960s. The deleted titles deal with Tito's Partisan
movement in World War II and with the founding of socialist
Yugoslavia.

MACEDONIAN UPDATE. Albanian Television on 21 July denied that
Tirana played any role in recent ethnic unrest in Tetovo and Gostivar
in Macedonia, as some Macedonian politicians have charged. The
broadcast added that Belgrade is the most likely source of outside
meddling in Macedonia's affairs. On 18 July, a delegation of ethnic
Albanian political leaders from Kosovo went to Macedonia to try to
calm the situation. Meanwhile in Skopje, Macedonian Defense
Minister Lazar Kitanovski denied reports that his country wants to
buy Russian tanks. He said that Russia and Macedonia signed an
agreement on military cooperation on 20 July but that Macedonia
will purchase only weapons that are compatible with NATO systems.

BOMB ROCKS CENTRAL TIRANA. An explosion destroyed at least one
cafe and damaged nearby buildings and vehicles in the early hours
of 22 July in the center of Tirana, near the Interior and Defense
Ministries. Three people were badly injured. News agencies said that
the injured men were private guards at the Greek-owned cafe. The
attackers drove up in a car and planted over four pounds of
explosives. No motive for the attack is known, and such explosions
are relatively rare in Tirana.

ALBANIAN PARLIAMENT TO MEET. President Sali Berisha issued a
decree on 21 July to summon the newly elected legislature for a
session on 23 July. His own Democratic Party said in a statement on
20 July, however, that it will boycott the first few meetings of the
parliament to protest the conditions under which the legislature was
elected. A statement charged that "the elections of 29 June were held
in a climate of violence and terror exercised by Socialist gangs
against supporters of the Democratic Party and the population in
general." International monitors, for their part, said that the elections
were fair, if not perfect. Meanwhile, the "Frankfurter Allgemeine
Zeitung" reported on 22 July that the Democrats have agreed to elect
Berisha as party leader. He has yet to say when he will resign the
presidency and take up his seat in the parliament and the party
chair.

GREECE STEPS UP SECURITY ALONG ALBANIAN BORDER. Prime
Minister Kostas Simitis met with top security officials in Athens on
21 July to discuss the deteriorating situation along the Albanian
frontier. After the session, the Interior Ministry said in a statement
that the "police are to redouble their patrols and their activity will be
intensified across the country, while security forces and the army
will cooperate in the border regions." Albanian bandits have been
attacking and kidnapping Greek citizens, and the Greek government
has responded by sending army and police reinforcements to the
north. On 22 July, Greece briefly closed and then reopened the main
border crossing at Kakavia.

UPDATE ON ROMANIAN COALITION TENSIONS. Defense Minister
Victor Babiuc, in a report prepared for internal use by the
Democratic Party, says the party should prepare an alternative
program that would make its "separate Social-Democratic options"
more clear to the electorate, RFE/RL's Bucharest bureau reported.
Babiuc said the dominance of the National Peasant Party Christian
Democratic (PNTCD) in the present coalition is due to the influence of
President Emil Constantinescu. Premier Minister Victor Ciorbea
recently called for a meeting of coalition leaders to discuss
differences that have emerged in the last weeks. Among other things,
the Senate postponed discussing an amendment to the Land
Restitution Law because many Democratic Party senators who oppose
the PNTCD's intention to increase the restitution of land from 10 to
50 hectares per family were not present during the debate.

FORMER DEPUTY PARLIAMENTARY CHAIRMAN ON POLITICAL
SITUATION IN MOLDOVA. Dumitru Diacov, who recently was
dismissed by the parliament as deputy chairman, says President
Petru Lucinschi has offered him the foreign affairs portfolio.
Incumbent Foreign Minister Mihai Popov intends to resign on health
grounds. In an interview with RFE/RL's Chisinau bureau on 21 July,
Diacov said a group of deputies will soon announce their resignation
from the main coalition party, the Democratic Agrarian Party of
Moldova (PDAM). Diacov said on 21 July that the group will support
President Petru Lucinschi's economic reform program, which has met
with resistance in the legislature. Diacov said the group will support
Ion Ciubuc's cabinet only if there is a government reshuffle and new
ministers who back Lucinschi's program are appointed. On 22 July,
11 PDAM deputies announced they have left the party.

MOLDOVAN CONSTITUTIONAL COURT RULES AGAINST
PRESIDENTIAL DECREES. The Constitutional Court on 21 July ruled
that two decrees issued by President Lucinschi in April 1997 are
unconstitutional. The decrees set up a government department for
fighting organized crime and corruption and appointed the chief of
the department. The court also declared unconstitutional a
government decision issued in May 1997 in connection with the
implementation of the decrees. The decrees and the government
decision were contested in the court by Valentin Dolganiuc, the
leader of the parliamentary opposition Christian Democratic Front
faction. The court said the prerogative of setting up new departments
of the government belongs to the parliament and not to the
president. The court also ruled that the government decision on
implementing the decrees infringes the constitutional right to
personal liberty, the personal and family privacy, inviolability of
domicile, and the secrecy of private correspondence and of telephone
conversations.

MOLDOVAN PRESIDENT ON ANNIVERSARY OF MEMORANDUM WITH
RUSSIA. In a message on the fifth anniversary of the signing by
Moldova and Russia of the memorandum on the principles of a
peaceful settlement of the military conflict in the Transdniester
region, Moldovan President Lucinschi said the "tragic consequences"
of the conflict have not yet been overcome because Moldova's
territory is "still split," Infotag reported on 21 July. He also noted
that the negotiations for a final settlement are experiencing "great
difficulties." Only when the country is "fully unified" will Moldova
"take a worthy place among other European countries," he added.
Russian President Boris Yeltsin, in a message to Lucinschi marking
the anniversary, said Russia "desires to assist fully in the search for a
constructive outcome" to the Transdniester conflict. He commented
that no efforts should be spared until that settlement is reached.

BULGARIAN GOVERNMENT ON EU MEMBERSHIP NEGOTIATIONS. The
government on 21 July said the EU should start negotiations with all
the countries aspiring to membership in the union, Reuters reported.
The statement said such a move "would be a confirmation that all
countries have equal chances to become members of a united
Europe." It added that the government in Sofia appreciates the faith
recently expressed by the European Commission in Sofia's intention
to quickly implement the program of reforms.

ZHIVKOV SAYS MARXISM IS WRONG. Speaking to reporters on the
occasion of launching his memoirs (see "RFE/RL Newsline, 16 July
1997), Bulgaria's former communist ruler Todor Zhivkov says that in
the book he is "smashing the whole Marxist theory. Marxism is mere
nonsense, and I am the first one to say that it is completely wrong,"
Zhivkov told reporters at his grand daughter's villa in a wealthy Sofia
suburb, Reuters reported on 21 July.


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