If we are to live together in peace, we must first come to know each other better. - Lyndon B. Johnson
RFE/RL NEWSLINE

RFE/RL NEWSLINE Vol. 1, No. 81, Part II, 25 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

* UKRAINE WANTS EXPLANATION OF LUKASHENKA STATEMENT

* SUSPECTED BOMB ATTACK ON APARTMENT BUILDING IN ALBANIA

* U.S. SOLDIER'S CAR BOMBED IN REPUBLIKA SRPSKA

End Note
POLITICAL STORIES FROM FORMER YUGOSLAVIA

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EAST-CENTRAL EUROPE

UKRAINE WANTS EXPLANATION OF LUKASHENKA STATEMENT.
Ukrainian National Security and Defense Council Deputy Secretary
Alexander Razumkov has said Ukraine wants Belarus to explain a
recent statement by Belarusian President Alyaksandr Lukashenka,
Interfax reported on 24 July. Lukashenka said two days earlier that
Ukraine has failed to implement bilateral agreements reached by the
two countries' presidents in Gomel, western Belarus, in the spring
and that he intends to introduce "tight customs and border control
measures" on the border with Ukraine because economic cooperation
between the two countries at present "is not being developed
appropriately." According to Lukashenka, Russia will impose the
same regime on the border with Ukraine. "If Ukraine wants to
become a sovereign country, let it be so, but not at our expense,"
Lukashenka had commented. Razumkov said that Ukraine has "every
reason to ask on what grounds the president of a third country made
a statement about a possible change of regime on the Ukrainian-
Russian border."

UKRAINE RECEIVES SIX WARSHIPS FROM RUSSIA. Russia has handed
over to Ukraine six out of the 11 Black Sea Fleet warships it is due to
receive, as the two countries complete the second stage of the
division of the fleet, the Ukrainian Navy's press service told ITAR-
TASS on 24 July. Kyiv has already received 12 out of 30 auxiliary
vessels and 10 shore installations out of some 100 that it has been
allocated. Under the division plan, the last warship is to be handed
over to Ukraine before 25 July. The deadline for completing the
division is 1 August.

ESTONIAN INTERIOR MINISTER SUES PAPER FOR LIBEL. Robert
Lepikson on 24 July announced he is suing the "Ohtuleht" evening
daily for libel over a recent article claiming he was stopped by police
for driving at more than two times the legal maximum speed, BNS
and ETA reported. The article cited a radio amateur who claims to
have tuned into a police frequency and heard how Lepikson's 280-
horsepower Jaguar was stopped near Parnu after police had recorded
a speed of 212 kmph. The speed limit is reported to have been 90
kmph. Lepikson said he was in Parnu at the time mentioned in the
article, but he denied speeding or having been stopped by the police.
He is suing the paper for 212,OOO kroons (some $15,000) and says he
will donate the money to the police force to buy bullet-proof vests
for officers.

UKRAINE, LATVIA PLEDGE TO INCREASE TRADE TIES. Ukrainian
Foreign Minister Hennadi Udovenko, during his visit to Riga on 24
July, promised increased trade ties with Latvia, including the
development of a Black Sea-Baltic Sea transport corridor, BNS
reported. Udovenko discussed opportunities for boosting bilateral
trade at a meeting with Latvian Prime Minister Andris Skele.
Together with his Latvian counterpart, Valdis Birkavs, Udovenko
signed bilateral agreements on the mutual protection of investments,
the readmission of illegal immigrants, and visa requirements for both
countries. Udovenko is scheduled to meet with Estonian Foreign
Minister Toomas Hendrik Ilves in Tallinn on 25 July.

LITHUANIAN INTERIOR MINISTER CALLS FOR REORGANIZATION OF
VILNIUS POLICE. Vidmantas Ziemelis has called for a reorganization
and strengthening of the Vilnius police force following a series of
violent attacks on foreigners in the capital, BNS reported on 24 July.
The most recent of those attacks took place on 20 July, when French
diplomat Patric Donobedian was badly beaten and robbed by three
youths near his home in downtown Vilnius (see "RFE/RL Newsline,"
23 July 1997). Donobedian had to undergo surgery, and the Vilnius
police chief and two of his deputies resigned over the attack.
Ziemelis, however, said that more dismissals are needed and that the
police force will have to be enlarged and reorganized. "It is not the
city that lives for the police, but vice versa," he commented.

EU OFFERS AID TO POLAND. The European Commission announced on
24 July it is granting more than 65 million ECUs ($70 million) in aid
to help Poland recover from recent floods. It also said it was asking
the European Investment Bank to consider loans to the region.
External Affairs Commissioner Hans van den Broek announced the
decision at a press conference in Brussels. The floods, the worst in
centuries, have left at least 55 people dead and more than 5,000 sq
km (2,000 sq miles) in southern and western Poland under water.
Van den Broek said that the money, which is in addition to some
300,000 ECUs already released, would come from the EU's PHARE
program, the funding project aimed at former Communist countries
seeking EU membership. Van den Broek said he has ordered
commission staff to look for PHARE funds to help the Czech Republic,
which has also been hit by floods.

CZECH RULING COALITION PARTIES AT ODDS, AGAIN. Josef Lux,
chairman of the coalition Christian Democratic Union, on 24 July
threatened that his party will leave Prime Minister Vaclav Klaus's
ruling coalition over the government decision to reject the sale of
some 100 tanks to Algeria. The sale had been prepared by the
Ministry of Defense, which is headed by Miloslav Vyborny of Lux's
party. Speaking on Czech Television, Lux objected to the way in
which the government reached its decision, saying that the Civic
Democratic Alliance blocked any discussion of the issue. Lux also
protested the way in which the government decided to go ahead with
the sale of the state's share in Investicni and Postovni Banka, the
fourth largest bank in the country, to the Japanese Nomurra
investment bank. He said that cabinet members received relevant
documents on the sale only shortly before the government session at
which the sale was discussed. He also argued that the sale is ill-
prepared and disadvantageous for the country.

CZECH GOVERNMENT APPROVES PAYMENT FOR SLOVAK JEWISH
GOLD. Czech Deputy Foreign Minister Karel Kovanda told journalists
on 24 July that the government has agreed to pay 20 million crowns
($580,000) to a Jewish foundation to settle claims on gold and jewels
held by the Czech National Bank. The foundation has been formed by
the Slovak and Czech Jewish communities to undertake charitable
projects. The gold and jewels were among valuables confiscated from
Slovak Jews during World War II that were eventually transferred to
the former Czechoslovak state bank. Kovanda said the payment will
be made as soon as a bank account is set up. He said the Czech
Finance Ministry had valued the gold and jewels at 32 million crowns
($950,000). Under the formula devised for dividing the assets of the
former Czechoslovakia, the Czechs are to pay two-thirds of the total.
Jozef Weiss, a Holocaust survivor and director of the Slovak Union of
Jewish Communities, said he is satisfied with the arrangement.

SLOVAK CONSTITUTIONAL COURT RULES IN FAVOR OF GAULIEDER.
The Constitutional Court on 24 July ruled that the parliament
violated the constitutional rights of deputy Frantisek Gaulieder when
it adopted a resolution in December 1996 revoking Gaulieder's
mandate. Gaulieder quit Prime Minister Vladimir Meciar's Movement
for a Democratic Slovakia in 1996 in protest against the party's
alleged hushing up of the involvement of the Slovak Intelligence
Service in the abduction of President Michal Kovac's son.
Parliamentary chairman Ivan Gasparovic later produced a letter
from Gaulieder saying he was giving up his mandate. Gaulieder,
however, says he never signed the letter. The court ruled that the
parliament acted unconstitutionally, but it refused to order the
legislature to restore Gaulieder's mandate. Constitutional Court
chairman Richard Rapant told Radio Twist on 24 July that Gaulieder
will be able to resume his parliamentary mandate only after the
legislature reverses its unconstitutional decision to strip him of his
mandate.

HUNGARY TO OPEN AIR CONTROL CENTER. Armed forces chief of staff
Ferenc Vegh announced on 24 July that the country's center for air
space control will be opened in Veszprem, Hungarian media reported.
He said the center, to be completed by mid-1998, will rank as "fairly
advanced" in comparison with similar facilities in NATO member
countries. The project is estimated to cost several million dollars and
will be financed with U.S. aid. Vegh also announced that the air force
will become an independent branch of the military. Following NATO's
decision to invite Hungary to accession negotiations, the armed forces
view the development of the country's air force as a top priority.

SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE

SUSPECTED BOMB ATTACK ON APARTMENT BUILDING IN ALBANIA.
Police said that a bomb was most likely responsible for an explosion
on 25 July that destroyed the top floors of an apartment building in
Peshkopi, near the Macedonian border. The blast killed at least three
persons and wounded another 16, but police say that more people
could be buried in the rubble. In other news, Prime Minister Fatos
Nano has named his cabinet and the new ministers have taken their
oaths of office at King Zog's former palace, near Tirana. The 22
ministers represent five political parties. Key appointments include
Deputy Prime Minister Bashkim Fino, Foreign Minister Paskal Milo,
Economy Minister Ylli Bufi, Interior Minister Neritan Ceka, and
Finance Minister Arben Malaj.

BUSY DAY IN ALBANIAN PARLIAMENT. The newly elected
parliament met on 24 July for its first full-day working session,
which was televised live. Legislators voted to end the state of
emergency and the 10 p.m.-5 a.m. curfew. They also elected Rexhep
Mejdani president and Fatos Nano prime minister. Hundreds of
people greeted Mejdani's election with gunfire, despite appeals from
the police to stop. Three policemen and several civilians were
accidentally wounded. Mejdani is one of the few top politicians who
never belonged to Enver Hoxha's Party of Labor. In his acceptance
speech, Mejdani urged Albanians "to help me realize my mission on
the difficult road of normalizing the life of the country and its
institutions. I call on all Albanian immigrants wherever they are to
come back and contribute to the reconstruction of Albania."
Immigrants, however, provide much-needed foreign exchange, and
Albania at present cannot provide jobs for all its citizens.

MILOSEVIC PROMISES DRASKOVIC FAIR ELECTIONS. Yugoslav
President Slobodan Milosevic and Serbian opposition leader Vuk
Draskovic discussed the upcoming Serbian legislative and
presidential elections in Belgrade on 24 July. Milosevic promised
Draskovic that the vote will be free and fair, the opposition leader
said. Draskovic added that Milosevic agreed with him that "it is in the
interest of Serbia and our people to stop divisions and hatred."
Milosevic wants the opposition to participate in the elections, which
10 parties have threatened to boycott if the vote is not free and fair .
It is unclear whether Milosevic addressed the opposition's specific
demand for equal access to the media. Milosevic did not invite the
other two main opposition leaders, Zoran Djindjic and Vesna Pesic, to
the meeting, an RFE/RL correspondent reported from Belgrade.

SERBIAN ELECTIONS SLATED FOR 21 SEPTEMBER. Acting Serbian
President Dragan Tomic has announced that the Serbian elections will
take place on 21 September, Belgrade media reported. The steering
committee of the governing Socialist Party of Serbia (SPS) will meet
on 25 July to select a presidential candidate. The most likely
candidates include Ambassador to China Slobodan Unkovic and
former Yugoslav President Zoran Lilic. Also in Belgrade, SPS Vice
President Zivadin Jovanovic on 24 July called on Washington to mark
Milosevic's inauguration as Yugoslav president by dropping sanctions
against Serbia and Montenegro.

SANDZAK LEADERS APPEAL FOR HELP. In Novi Pazar on 25 July,
Sandzak Muslim leader Sulejman Ugljanin and other opposition
coalition politicians called on U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine
Albright and various international organizations to support an end to
Milosevic's political pressure on Sandzak's Muslim majority. Police
banned an opposition meeting the previous day because of what the
Interior Ministry called the interest of "the security of people and
property." Milosevic recently installed his own nominees to govern
Novi Pazar, and Ugljanin himself is being harassed with a court case.
Sandzak is divided between Serbia and Montenegro and forms a land
bridge between Bosnia and Kosovo. Many of its Muslim leaders have
close ties to Bosnian President Alija Izetbegovic's Party of Democratic
Action.

U.S. SOLDIER'S CAR BOMBED IN REPUBLIKA SRPSKA. A SFOR soldier's
car was firebombed outside his apartment in Vlasenica near
Srebrenica on 25 July. It was the latest in an almost daily series of
attacks directed at foreign personnel on Bosnian Serb territory. On 24
July, a Dutch soldier was injured when drunken Serbs threw a
grenade at a group of Dutch soldiers in the Kotor Varos area, near
Banja Luka. Meanwhile in Bijeljina, the senate of the Republika
Srpska on 24 July called on President Biljana Plavsic and her enemies
in the Bosnian Serb leadership to end their feud lest it lead to the
disintegration of the Republika Srpska and its reintegration into the
rest of Bosnia.

SLOVENIA TO RETURN CHURCH PROPERTY. Prime Minister Janez
Drnovsek and Archbishop Franc Rode reached an agreement on 24
July to return to the Roman Catholic church property nationalized by
the Communists after World War II. It is unclear whether all former
church property is involved. The transfer will begin on 1 November,
BETA reported from the Slovenian capital. The United List of Social
Democrats will challenge the agreement in the parliament on the
grounds that the property does not belong to the government, which
thus cannot legally give it to anyone. Drnovsek's governing coalition,
however, has a large enough legislative majority to approve the
Church-state agreement. Recent polls suggest that 80 percent of the
population opposes the return of Church property.

ROMANIAN FOREIGN INTELLIGENCE CHIEF RESIGNS. Gen. Ion Talpes
on 24 July resigned in connection with the Swiss diplomat spying
affair (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 21 and 23 July 1997). President Emil
Constantinescu accepted his resignation and said Talpes will be
appointed to another position. In a letter to Constantinescu, Talpes
said the Foreign Intelligence Service (SIE) has not been involved in
espionage activities in Switzerland. But he added that an
investigation has revealed that "for several years there had been
sporadic contacts between a Swiss diplomat and SIE collaborators"
and that, as a result, "Swiss-Romanian relations" were compromised.
Talpes said he considers himself to bear "responsibility for this
situation." He noted that the information provided by the Swiss
diplomat was "not secret and in no way endangered Switzerland's
interests or national security."

BILINGUAL SIGNS IN TARGU MURES PAINTED OVER AGAIN. The
Romanian-Hungarian bilingual signs in the Transylvanian town of
Targu Mures have once again been painted over in the colors of the
Romanian national flag, Mediafax reported on 24 July. Mayor Imre
Fodor ordered the signs dismantled and cleaned, after which, he said,
they will be put back up. He urged that the signs be permanently
guarded in the future. Also on 24 July, Gheorghe Funar, the extreme
nationalist mayor of Cluj, announced that the town's Hungarian
consulate, which was opened the previous day, is to be fined 20
million lei (some $280,000) for hoisting the Hungarian national flag,
which, according to Funar, is a violation of the Romanian Constitution.
Funar added that the consulate would be fined another 10 million lei
for decorating the entrance to the building where the consulate is
temporarily located.

MOLDOVAN DEFENSE MINISTER IN ROMANIA. Valeriu Pasat arrived
in Romania on 24 July for a two-day visit. Together with his
Romanian counterpart, Victor Babiuc, he signed an agreement on
cooperation in military transportation. They also agreed to set up a
joint peace-keeping unit. Moldovan Chief of Staff Col. Vladimir Dontu
told RFE/RL that the Moldovan army is keen to familiarize itself with
Romania's military instruction. Dontu said the most important thing
for Moldova is that Bucharest offers such instruction free of charge,
since Moldova is too poor to pay for officers to be trained abroad. But
he admitted that Moldovans have "communication problems" when
using the Romanian language. Dontu said there was "no close military
collaboration" between Moldova and Russia because Moscow
conditions such collaboration on participation in the CIS collective
security system, to which Chisinau does not belong.

DETAILS ON DRAFT SETTLEMENT OF TIRASPOL-CHISINAU CONFLICT.
According to BASA-press on 24 July, the draft agreement proposed
by the Joint Control Commission for a final settlement of the conflict
in Moldova gives the Transdniester breakaway region the right to
have its own constitution, parliament, flag, state symbols, and
anthem. The official languages in the Transdniester would be
Moldovan, Russian, and Ukrainian. Alluding to what Tiraspol
perceives as the danger of reunification with Romania, the draft
gives the Transdniester the right of self-determination if Moldova
loses its independence. The draft also says Tiraspol would participate
in foreign-policy making, security decisions affecting the breakaway
region, and decisions on Moldova's budget (while maintaining its own
budget). The region is also to decide its own structure of local
government.

MOLDOVAN PARLIAMENT DISMISSES RADIO, TV CHIEFS. The
parliament on 24 July voted to dismiss Adrian Usatai as head of the
state radio company and Dumitru Turcanu as director of national
television. They were accused of violating the provisions of the
constitution on political pluralism and laws on providing accurate
information. Usatai's dismissal was also linked to the broadcasting in
November of a secretly taped telephone conversation between
deputy Nicolae Andronic and Moldova's former ambassador to
Germany, Alexandru Buruiana. Observers link the dismissal of Usatai
and Turcanu to the ongoing struggle between the anti-reformist
parliament and President Petru Lucinschi, RFE/RL's Chisinau bureau
reported. In related developments, former parliamentary deputy
chairman Dumitru Diacov declined Lucinschi's offer to take over the
foreign affairs portfolio, saying that his presence in the legislature is
more necessary for advancing reforms, Infotag reported.

MOLDOVA RATIFIES EUROPEAN CONVENTION ON HUMAN RIGHTS.
The parliament on 24 July ratified the European Convention on
Human Rights, which was signed by former President Mircea Snegur
on joining the Council of Europe in July 1995, RFE/RL's Chisinau
bureau reported. The parliament, however, said that for the present,
Moldova is unable to ensure the convention's implementation in the
breakaway Transdniester region. It also said Moldova needs about a
year to amend legislation that contradicts the convention's
provisions. In other news, President Lucinschi on 24 July dismissed
all four department heads of Moldova's traffic police for abuse of
office and corruption, following the findings of an unannounced
investigation, Infotag reported.

BULGARIAN ENERGY COMMITTEE CHAIRMAN REPLACED. Georgi
Stoilov was replaced on 24 July as chairman of the energy
committee, an RFE/RL Sofia correspondent reported. He attracted
attention earlier this year when he became the first Bulgarian official
to support warnings by international experts about environmental
dangers arising from the nuclear plant at Kozloduy. The new
chairman of the committee is Ivan Silyashki. All directors of the
state-owned electricity company have also been dismissed.

END NOTE

POLITICAL STORIES FROM FORMER YUGOSLAVIA

by Patrick Moore

        For many people in the former Yugoslavia, the most important
event of the past week was the 23 July soccer game in which
Partizan-Belgrade beat Croatia-Zagreb 1-0. But in addition to that
highly politicized soccer match, there were at least three recent
political stories that captured attention.
        The first such story involves the power struggle between
Republika Srpska President Biljana Plavsic and most of the rest of
the Bosnian Serb leadership, who remain loyal to Radovan Karadzic,
the former president of the Bosnian Serb Republic. Plavsic says she is
determined to establish the rule of law and thereby uproot Karadzic's
corrupt, mafia-like power structure. In recent weeks, she has fired
Interior Minister Dragan Kijac, dissolved the parliament, called new
elections, summoned support from the army and the Constitutional
Court, said she would arrest Karadzic, and publicly called Serbian
President Slobodan Milosevic the ultimate source of her problems.
Her enemies have opposed her at every step of the way, but Plavsic
refuses to be intimidated.
        Her campaign surprised many observers, because she is no less
nationalistic than her opponents, with whom she had been allied
since the founding of the Serbian Democratic Party in July 1990.
Most important, she was Karadzic's hand-picked successor in 1996
when the international community forced him to leave public life.
        Plavsic says that those who thought she would be simply a
puppet did not know her. The question nonetheless remains as to
why she waited until now to launch her campaign. Plavsic says that
her wartime job as vice president limited her to humanitarian affairs
and that she has been able to show her mettle only since September
1996, when she became president. Some observers say that the
corruption and profiteering became too much for her to bear as a
citizen and as a president whose government was being cheated of
huge amounts of revenue by the mafia. Other pundits speculate that
she was encouraged to strike out on her own by U.S. Secretary of
State Madeleine Albright, who visited the region less than two
months ago.
        But for whatever reason Plavsic chose to take on the
establishment, it is shrewd politics to attack the ill-gotten gains of a
handful of profiteers in a country where the vast majority of people
have to struggle on a monthly average income of $35. Plavsic has
attracted support, particularly in her power base of Banja Luka,
which is the Republika Srpska's only city and which has traditionally
gravitated economically toward Zagreb rather than toward Belgrade.
In any event, Plavsic is likely to remain a thorn in the side of
Karadzic and his friends as long as she is on the scene.
        The second main recent political story involves Milosevic
himself, who became president of federal Yugoslavia on 23 July. Just
over a week earlier, his backers steamrolled his election through the
parliament before Montenegrin deputies realized what was
happening and could marshal their opposition.
        He now seems bent on turning the formerly ceremonial federal
presidency into a real source of power. To do so, he must first amend
the constitution to reduce the authority of Serbia and Montenegro
with regard to federal institutions. The governing Montenegrin
Democratic Socialist Party, which recently threw out Milosevic ally
Momir Bulatovic as its leader, seems prepared to challenge him.
Milosevic can also expect a fight from the Popular Concord coalition
and other Montenegrin opposition groups, as well as from the
Serbian opposition.
        But that opposition has shown itself as divided as ever, not
only at a time when Milosevic is trying to amass more power but also
as the September elections in Serbia draw near. Milosevic is
nonetheless taking no chances regarding those elections and is using
his now familiar tactics to ensure a victory for his Socialist Party of
Serbia (SPS). He made an emotional visit to Kosovo to show his
support for local Serbs and forced out the Muslim leadership in the
city government of Novi Pazar in Sandzak. The SPS and its legislative
allies then passed a new election law that raises the number of
electoral districts and ensures ample gains for the SPS. Milosevic has,
moreover, begun to shut down the few local independent radio and
television broadcasters in a bid to regain complete control over the
electronic media outside Belgrade once again.
        The third news story also involves the past repeating itself, but
in a different sense. On 15 July, the EU invited Slovenia to participate
in the first round of its talks with prospective new members. An
RFE/RL correspondent reported from Brussels that Slovenia alone of
the former Yugoslav republics stood any chance of being invited.
        Jelko Kacin, the chair of the Slovenian parliament's Foreign
Affairs Committee, told RFE/RL in Ljubljana, however, that Slovenia's
invitation from the EU does not mean that Slovenia is turning its
back on its former Yugoslav partners. Geography, he says, makes that
impossible. Kacin also pointed out that in socialist Yugoslavia,
Slovenia was the economically most developed republic and hence
always the "laboratory in which new social or economic experiments
were tried out first." Now, Kacin explained, Slovenia is simply
continuing the old tradition of being the first to try out a new
system. "Europe," he concluded, will sooner or later come to the
Balkans--via Slovenia.





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