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RFE/RL NEWSLINE

RFE/RL NEWSLINE Vol. 1, No. 86, Part II, 1 August 1997



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

* LUKASHENKA CANCELS RUSSIAN VISIT

* INTERNATIONAL MEETING AGREES TO HELP ALBANIA HELP ITSELF

* MORE ETHNIC ALBANIAN POLICE FOR MONTENEGRO

End Note : WALKING THE MOLDOVAN TIGHTROPE

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EAST-CENTRAL EUROPE

LUKASHENKA CANCELS RUSSIAN VISIT... Belarusian President
Alyaksandr Lukashenka's office announced on 31 July that
Lukashenka has canceled a trip to Russia because of the controversy
over the journalists from Russia's ORT television network were
recently arrested in Belarus, Interfax reported. Lukashenka's office
said his visit to Kaliningrad Oblast, due to start on 1 August, has been
cancelled at the request of the oblast governor owing to "concern"
about the arrests. The Belarusian Foreign Ministry has demanded an
official explanation from Moscow of the snub, according to ITAR-
TASS .A spokesman for Lukashenka's office told journalists that
Russian pressure over the issue would seriously hinder the
development of bilateral relations. The ORT crew has been officially
charged with illegally crossing the Belarusian-Lithuanian border and
is being held in custody. Russian President Boris Yeltsin recently
expressed his surprise and indignation over the arrests.

...WHILE MORE JOURNALISTS DETAINED IN BELARUS. Fifteen
journalists working for local and foreign media were briefly detained
in Minsk on 31 July, Belapan reported. The reporters were detained
while covering the handing in at the president's office of a petition in
support of the jailed Russian television crew. The petition calls for
their release. The Belarusian Interior Ministry press service says the
15 journalists detained on 31 July must appear in court on 1 August
to face charges of violating restrictions on public rallies.

UKRAINIAN PRESIDENT APPOINTS NEW SECURITY CHIEF. Leonid
Kuchma on 31 July named Vasily Durdinets as chief of the National
Bureau of Investigations, ITAR-TASS reported. Durdinets until now
was first deputy prime minister. He replaces Oleg Litvak, who was
recently appointed prosecutor-general. Kuchma also reappointed Yuri
Kostenko as environment minister and named new heads of the
Ministries of Justice, Transportation, Information, and Social and
Family affairs.

ESTONIAN ROUNDUP. Tiit Vahi, former prime minister and chairman
of the governing Coalition Party, has announced he will resign from
the leadership of the party at its annual congress in December, ETA
reported on 31 July. Vahi said he made the decision to resign some
time ago. Over the past month, he has increasingly criticized
government policies, particularly the plan to impose custom duties
and higher taxes. In other news, Foreign Minister Toomas Hendrik
Ilves met with U.S. Deputy Secretary of State Strobe Talbott in
Washington on 31 July. Discussions focused on the situation in Europe
following the NATO Madrid summit and on Estonian-Russian
relations. According to the Estonian Foreign Ministry press service,
Talbott commented that Estonia has done a great deal to improve
relations with Russia.

LITHUANIA TO CONTINUE TO PUSH FOR EU MEMBERSHIP. Prime
Minister Gediminas Vagnorius told journalists on 31 July that his
government will give priority to having Lithuania included among
the countries invited to begin membership talks with the EU in 1998,
Interfax reported. He said the European Commission's July decision to
recommend that only six countries receive such an invitation was
based partly on "political" criteria. "Such a biased assessment...may
create new dividing lines," he commented. Vagnorius also said he
was confident that Vilnius will be able to do much to resolve
"economic, social, and other problems" before the EU summit in
December. In other news, Defense Minister Ceslovas Stankevicius
announced on 30 July that a NATO mission will be opened in
Lithuania to help promote the country's integration into the alliance
and its involvement in the Partnership for Peace program.

POLISH, GERMAN OFFICIALS DISCUSS FLOOD RELIEF MEASURES.
Polish Finance Minister Marek Belka and Manfred Stolpe, the
premier of the neighboring German state of Brandenburg, met on 31
July to discuss ways to regulate the Oder River, which runs along the
Polish-German border and has flooded large areas of both countries.
Belka told journalists after the meeting that a flood-relief project
might be jointly financed by Poland, Germany, and the EU. "We will
discuss the topic further and are awaiting comments from the
German side," Belka said. Stolpe has also met with Polish Interior
Minister Leszek Miller to discuss improving coordination of flood
relief efforts.

EU COMMISSIONER ON FLOOD DAMAGE IN CZECH REPUBLIC. Emma
Bonino, the EU commissioner responsible for humanitarian aid, told
journalists in Prague on 31 July that damage and economic losses
caused by recent flooding must not be allowed to threaten talks over
the Czech Republic's entry into the EU. On the contrary, it was
necessary for the EU to show more solidarity, she added. Deputy
Foreign Minister Cyril Svoboda said EU assistance in dealing with
flood damage is an opportunity to show Czechs how important the EU
is. Meanwhile, Environment Minister Jiri Skalicky, the government's
commissioner for dealing with flood damage, rejected the idea that
the Czech Republic delayed approaching the EU for aid. "As a decent,
civilized country, we had to wait until the EU itself showed an
interest in finding out about the situation in the Czech Republic," he
said.

HUNGARY ALLOCATES $78 MILLION FOR EU, NATO PREPARATIONS
IN 1998. "Magyar Hirlap" reported on 1 August that the 1998 budget
includes a separate section allocating 14.9 billion forints ($78 million)
to cover the costs of preparations for EU and NATO membership.
Gusztav Bager, a department head at the Finance Ministry, said the
amount represents 2 percent of the total budget. Analysts estimate
that 60 percent of the allocated amount will be spent toward EU
admission and the remainder toward NATO membership. In addition,
individual ministries will allocate funds from their budgets to deal
with accession issues.

SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE

INTERNATIONAL MEETING AGREES TO HELP ALBANIA HELP ITSELF.
Representatives of more than 30 countries and international
organizations agreed with Albanian government leaders in Rome on
31 July to hold two more international aid conferences once the
Albanian government finalizes its own program. Franz Vranitzky,
who is the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe's chief
envoy to Albania, and the conference's final statement both stressed
that the Albanians must quickly restore security and implement
democratic practices. The statement said that "all the Albanian
parties must admit that the stabilization of the situation rests in their
hands first and that international assistance will depend on the
degree of cooperation they show towards the international
community. Law and order must be re-established in Albania,
human rights and democratic rules must be respected." Italian
Foreign Minister Lamberto Dini said some Italian troops will remain
after 12 August to train security forces.

ALBANIAN POLICE TO BEGIN ROUNDING UP GUNS. Pashk Tusha, the
police chief of Tirana, said on 31 July that his forces will soon start
rounding up the illegal weapons that proliferate in the capital. Tusha
added that the project will begin in the suburbs. He stated that
citizens in Tirana are tired of the nightly firing of weapons and that
"Tirana is more quiet that the rest of the country, so we are able to
start the operations immediately." A Greek ship arrived in Durres on
31 July with bullet-proof vests and other equipment to help police in
their work. There are an estimated 1 million illegal weapons across
Albania, which claim several lives daily. Albanian military sources as
say, however, that thefts of large weapons, such as anti-aircraft guns
and missiles, have increased recently. Such stolen goods are usually
sold abroad.

ALBANIAN JUDGES DEFY MINISTRY. A group of judges said in Tirana
on 31 July that an order from Justice Minister Thimio Kondi to close
the courts during August and urge lawyers to go on vacation was
"illegal." Kondi's office claims that many court buildings have been
damaged, which, he argues, prohibits the courts from functioning.
The judges say that the ministry has no right to tell them what to do
and that they suspect that Kondi is trying to curb their
independence. Under the previous government, the court system was
purged of all Socialists and Democratic Party loyalists appointed to
replace them.

MORE ETHNIC ALBANIAN POLICE FOR MONTENEGRO. Representatives
of the Democratic Union of Albanians political party and Montenegrin
Interior Minister Filip Vujanovic agreed in Ulcinj on 31 July to
increase the number of ethnic Albanian police. More Albanians will
be stationed in areas with large Albanian populations, especially in
Ulcinj, BETA reported from that town. A local Albanian leader said
there are now only four Albanian policemen in Ulcinj, although
ethnic Albanians make up 85 percent of the local population.

DJUKANOVIC GOVERNING PARTY CANDIDATE FOR MONTENEGRIN
PRESIDENCY. The Republican Election Commission in Podgorica on 31
July registered Prime Minister Milo Djukanovic as the sole official
candidate from the Democratic Socialist Party (DPS) for the October
elections. Djukanovic said at a campaign kick-off rally that
Montenegro wants to continue to be a part of federal Yugoslavia, but
only as Serbia's fully equal partner. It seems likely that incumbent
President Momir Bulatovic will form a splinter party to challenge
Djukanovic. The DPS recently voted Bulatovic out of the party
presidency, but he and his allies in Belgrade refuse to recognize that
decision. Also in Podgorica, a representative of the Hague-based war
crimes tribunal said Chief Prosecutor Louise Arbour has accepted the
Montenegrin prosecutor's invitation to visit Podgorica, an RFE/RL
correspondent reported from the Montenegrin capital.

SLOVENIAN FOREIGN MINISTER RESIGNS. Zoran Thaler submitted his
resignation as foreign minister in Ljubljana on 31 July. Thaler said in
a statement that some Slovenian politicians for purely political
reasons have been undercutting his efforts to integrate Slovenia in
Western and European institutions and that he cannot continue
under those circumstances. Prime Minister Janez Drnovsek has asked
him to reconsider his decision. Some deputies in the parliament
strongly opposed constitutional amendments necessary for Slovenia
to secure associate membership in the EU. The changes, which allow
foreigners to own property, were finally approved on 15 July. Many
Slovenes fear that Italians whose families fled Slovenia at the end of
World War II will now buy up scarce land.

SANDZAK MUSLIM LEADER BLASTS SERBIAN "COLONIALISM."
Sulejman Ugljanin, a political leader of Sandzak's Muslims, told a
Belgrade radio station on 31 July that the latest trial against him
proves "there is no democracy in Serbia and the authorities have a
colonial attitude to the Sandzak region." The Serbian authorities have
recently removed the legally elected Muslim government of Novi
Pazar, stripped Ugljanin of his parliamentary immunity, and put him
on trial. Meanwhile in Brussels, the EU appealed to Yugoslav
President Slobodan Milosevic to permit international observers to
monitor the Serbian presidential and legislative elections slated for
21 September. The EU also upbraided Belgrade for not implementing
earlier OSCE recommendations on electoral reform and media
freedom.

WESTENDORP SAYS NO IMMUNITY FOR BOSNIAN SERB WAR
CRIMINALS. A spokesman for Carlos Westendorp, the chief
international negotiator in Bosnia, said in Sarajevo that anyone who
has been indicted by the Hague-based war crimes tribunal is liable to
arrest. Momcilo Krajisnik, the Serbian member of the Bosnian joint
presidency, had cited "security concerns" as his reason for not
attending a recent meeting with NATO Secretary-General Javier
Solana on Bosnian government territory. Westendorp's spokesman
replied to Krajisnik's remarks: "If Mr. Krajisnik feels that he's on a
list somewhere, that's for him and his conscience. We welcome the
process of sealed indictments, we think it's good, and if its strikes
terror into the hearts of those that should be frightened then we're
all for it."

MORE INTER-ETHNIC INCIDENTS NEAR TUZLA. Angry crowds of Serbs
turned back between 40 and 50 Muslims who were trying to return
to their village of Svjetlica on 30 July. Some of the Muslims were
soldiers, and one Muslim was injured in a fist-fight with the Serbs. A
few days earlier, Muslims beat up Serbs near the village of Ratkovici.
On 31 July, up to 300 Muslims blocked a road to protest that their
village is to be included in a Croatian municipality. Meanwhile in
Sarajevo, OSCE representatives slammed Bosnian Serb Television for
engaging in propaganda in "gross violation" of the rules set down in
the Dayton agreement. Some recent broadcasts have used racist
epithets against UN personnel, and others have claimed that NATO
planes were dropping poisons and vermin onto the Republika Srpska.
German Foreign Minister Klaus Kinkel and U.S. Senator Carl Levin
have called on NATO to jam the broadcasts.

ROMANIAN TRADE UNIONS WALK OUT OF MEETING WITH PREMIER.
Representatives of Romania's largest trade unions on 31 July walked
out of a scheduled meeting with Prime Minister Victor Ciorbea after
the premier did not appear on time. They accused the government of
failing to provide documentation for the meeting on the discussions
under way with the IMF and of changing the meeting's agenda. They
also said that various ministers were providing contradictory
information on privatization plans. One of the unions' leaders
commented that there are only two possible solutions: the
resignation of the government as a whole or an immediate reshuffle.
The trade unions said that they will not return to the negotiating
table unless President Emil Constantinescu takes part in the talks,
RFE/RL's Bucharest bureau reported. Premier Ciorbea blamed the
discord in the government on the "lack of communication" among
ministers.

ROMANIAN FOREIGN MINISTER RESPONDS TO CLUJ MAYOR. Adrian
Severin on 31 July accused Cluj Mayor Gheorghe Funar of pursuing
"separatist" and "segregationist" policies in Cluj, Radio Bucharest
reported. He said Funar's recent statements are likely to create
"tension and confusion" and to "seriously harm" Romania's interests.
Severin also said Hungary has expressed concern about the mayor's
actions opposing the hoisting of the Hungarian flag at the Cluj
consulate. But he added that Budapest does not view those
developments as endangering bilateral relations or as in any way
reflecting "Romanian state policy or the feelings of the Romanian
people." Also on 31 July, Funar addressed another open letter to
Severin reiterating claims that hoisting the flag was illegal and that
the Hungarian national emblem represents "Greater Hungary" since
one of its six symbols is the Hungarian crest of Transylvania.

WORLD BANK WORRIED ABOUT MOLDOVAN REFORMS. Roger Grawe,
the new chief of the World Bank's department for Moldova,
expressed concern about the slow pace of Moldovan reforms at a
meeting in Chisinau on 31 July with Prime Minister Ion Ciubuc. He
said the bank will monitor Moldovan developments in August and
then make a decision on whether to approve a credit for structural
reforms, RFE/RL's Chisinau bureau reported. Grawe said the World
Bank was concerned that the Moldovan parliament will slow down
the passage of legislation on reforms ahead of the elections scheduled
for early 1998.

BULGARIAN PARLIAMENT APPROVES NEW COAT OF ARMS. The
parliament on 31 July approved a new coat of arms to replace the
one abolished in 1991, Reuters reported. The new crest replaces a
red star above a lion with the crown of the 14th century monarch
Ivan Shishman above the lion. The dispute over the new coat of arms
had divided the legislature for seven years. During the communist
era, the Saxe-Coburg crown on the country's emblem was replaced
by a red star. After 1989, the Socialist Party remained opposed to
reintroducing the crown because it wanted no symbols of the
monarchy on the crest. In July 1996, the then Socialist-dominated
parliament approved an uncrowned lion as the country's official
post-communist emblem, but former President Zhelyu Zhelev vetoed
that decision. The coat of arms approved on 31 July is a compromise
since the crown of the former Saxe-Coburg dynasty was replaced by
that of Ivan Shishman.


END NOTE

WALKING THE MOLDOVAN TIGHTROPE

by Michael Shafir

        More than a few eyebrows must have been raised when
Moldovan Foreign Minister Valeriu Pasat paid a two-day visit to
Romania on 24-25 July and agreed with his Romanian counterpart,
Victor Babiuc, to set up a "joint peacekeeping unit."
        That agreement follows a recent pattern triggered in part by
the efforts of would-be NATO members to "prove" to the West that
their militaries can be "providers of security, not merely security
consumers" (as Romanian officials recently put it) and to
demonstrate that territorial disputes with neighbors are being
resolved. While reaching an agreement to set up joint peacekeeping
units has evidently become a rite of passage for NATO candidacy, it
has seldom been followed up in practice. A Hungarian-Romanian
peacekeeping unit has been in the offing for more than half a year,
and there has also been talk about setting up Romanian-Ukrainian
and Romanian-Polish units. More recently, Bulgaria followed suit
when it decided to set up a joint peace-keeping unit with
neighboring Turkey.
        But while the Romanians are clearly still hoping to gain entry
to NATO in a second wave of expansion, the question to be asked is
why the Moldovans would be keen on such a unit. President Petru
Lucinschi has repeatedly emphasized that Moldova intends to keep
its neutrality and that NATO membership can be considered only
sometime in the distant future, following Moldova's integration into
the EU (which is clearly far from being imminent). The question is all
the more relevant given that Transdniester separatists cite the
"danger" of Moldova's reunification with Romania as the main reason
for pursuing independence. Why should Chisinau, then, wish to
provide Tiraspol with additional ammunition? While it is true that
both Babiuc and Pasat stressed that the envisaged unit will not be
deployed in the Transdniester, such statements are unlikely to
convince Igor Smirnov's supporters.
        Viewed from this angle, Pasat's expressed interest in the
purchase of PUMA helicopters produced in Romania under U.S.
license seems to have verged on irresponsibility. It was also unclear
why such intentions were made public. Furthermore, the 24 July
agreement states that Moldovan officers would receive instruction at
Romanian military establishments. Moldovan Chief of Staff Gen.
Vladimir Dontu, who accompanied Pasat to the Romanian capital,
explained that the Moldovan officer corps could not be trained in
Russia because Moscow conditioned such collaboration on
participation in the CIS collective security system, to which Moldova
does not belong. He added, however, that problems may arise with
the plan to have officers trained in Romania because Moldovans do
not have sufficient command of Romanian.
        The Moldovans' seemingly strange behavior was soon
explained, however. Shortly after Pasat's visit, it transpired that the
"Bucharest show" was a smoke screen designed to pre-empt criticism
of a real policy departure being prepared by the Chisinau
government and likely to enrage the pro-unification opposition. No
sooner had Pasat returned from Bucharest than he left on another
visit, this time to Moscow. And it was "not a coincidence" (as "Pravda"
used to write) that he reached there two agreements (one of which is
still to be signed at deputy premier level) that seemed carbon-copies
of those concluded in Bucharest.
        There was one significant difference, however: Russian, not
Romanian, troops are stationed on Moldova's territory. Nothing was
said about the significance of the agreements for Moldova's non-
integration in the CIS collective-security structures. But while Pasat
was still in Moscow, an announcement was made in Chisinau that a
CIS summit in the Moldovan capital in early fall was "under
consideration." That nothing Pasat and Dontu did or said in Bucharest
was "coincidental" was demonstrated at the end of the visit to
Moscow, when it was revealed that Moldova was studying the
possibility of purchasing Russian-made helicopters.
        The agreements reached in Moscow provide for the instruction
of Moldovan officers at Russian military establishments (where they
apparently will have no communication problems) and for joint
military maneuvers of "peacekeeping forces." The first such
maneuvers are to be held in Moldova in October. The location has not
yet been specified, but it is a safe bet that it will not be in the
Transdniester. To hold maneuvers on that territory would infringe on
what Tiraspol regards as its "sovereignty," which, such as it is, would
not exist without the continued presence of the Russian troops.
        While in Moscow, Pasat discussed with Premier Viktor
Chernomyrdin the withdrawal of the Russian troops and the
ratification by Russia of the basic treaty with Chisinau. The
agreement on the withdrawal dates back to 1994 and that on the
basic treaty to 1992. This, in itself, says volumes about Chisinau's
recent show of tightrope-walking. While such a feat may be taken for
skillful diplomacy, the origins of the metaphor should not be
forgotten -- namely, the circus.


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