The highest possible stage in moral culture is when we recognize that we ought to control our thoughts. - Charles Darwin
RFE/RL NEWSLINE

RFE/RL NEWSLINE Vol. 1, No. 96, Part II, 15 August1997



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

*RUSSIAN TV JOURNALIST ENDS HUNGER STRIKE IN BELARUS


*ALBANIAN POLICE CLAIM VICTORY OVER VLORA GANGS


*BULATOVIC APPEALS TO BELGRADE TO SAVE CANDIDACY

End Note
TRANSYLVANIA'S GLASS STILL HALF-EMPTY
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EAST-CENTRAL EUROPE

RUSSIAN TV JOURNALIST ENDS HUNGER STRIKE IN BELARUS. Pavel
Sheremet, one of the Russian Public Television (ORT) journalists
under arrest in Hrodno, on 14 August ended the hunger strike he
began the previous day, ITAR-TASS reported. His lawyer told the
news agency that he had convinced Sheremet to stop for health
reasons. Officials at the Hrodno detention center responded by
putting a television in Sheremet's cell and promising to provide him
with periodicals and medical attention. Meanwhile in Yerevan,
journalists and human rights organizations have issued a statement
condemning the harassment by the Belarusian authorities of
Sheremet and his colleague Dmitry Zavadsky as a "violation of free
speech and of democracy in general," Noyan Tapan reported on 14
August.

ONEKSIMBANK EMPIRE BUYS MINSK BANK SHARES. Russia's
Oneksimbank and an affiliated company have purchased 49 percent
of the Belarusian National Bank's second issue of shares in
MinskKompleksBank, according to Belapan on 13 August.
Oneksimbank now owns 33 percent of the shares, and its affiliate,
the International Financial Corporation (MFK), owns 16 percent. Of
the remaining shares in MinskKompleksBank, 32 percent belong to
Belarusian state-owned industrial companies, 10 percent to
Belarusian citizens, and the remainder to Belarusian private
companies. In other news, the Belarusian National Bank has raised
the limit for individual purchases of foreign currency from $200 to
$500 a day. National Bank officials refused to comment on the reason
for this measure.

RUSSIA TO SEND OBSERVERS TO U.S.-UKRAINIAN MANEUVERS. Russia
has decided to send observers to a U.S.-Ukrainian military exercise
that it earlier described as a threat to its security and to that of the
Crimean peninsula, Interfax and ITAR-TASS reported. Ukrainian
Chief of Staff and First Deputy Defense Minister Olexandr Zatynajko
said that Russian Defense Minister Igor Sergeev has approved the
participation of Russian observers in the "Sea Breeze '97" exercise,
although Moscow continues to oppose the maneuvers. Naval forces
from Turkey and Bulgaria will also participate in the exercises, which
are taking place in August in the western part of the Black Sea.
Greece, Georgia, Romania, and Italy are also sending observers.

MILITARY PLANE CRASHES IN UKRAINE. A Ukrainian L-39 military
aircraft crashed during a test flight near a military airfield at Uman,
some 200 kilometers south of Kyiv on 14 August, Reuters reported. A
spokesman for the Ministry of Defense said the two pilots were
killed. An investigation commission has been set up to examine the
cause of the crash.

OSCE CRITICIZES ESTONIA OVER RUSSIAN EX-SERVICEMEN. Uwe
Mahrenholtz, the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe
representative in Tallinn, has criticized the work of the Estonian
government committee examining Russian former servicemen's
applications for residence permits, BNS reported on 14 August. At a
meeting with Prime Minister Mart Siimann, Mahrenholtz said it is
regrettable that the cabinet failed to heed his recommendations in its
22 July decision not to grant residence permits to eight Russian
former servicemen. Siimann responded that both he and Foreign
Minister Toomas Hendrik Ilves, who chairs the committee, accept
most of Mahrenholtz's recommendations. The premier added that the
government and the committee intend to define more precisely the
criteria for refusing to issue residence permits.

LATVIAN ROUNDUP. The Prosecutor-General's Office announced on
14 August that Indulis Berzins, the head of the parliament's Foreign
Affairs Committee, is violating the anti-corruption law, BNS reported.
Berzins broke the law by failing to declare his shares in the SIA
Klubs company. In other news, a Moscow arbitration court on 13
August ordered the St. Petersburg tax police to unblock the account
of Latvia's Parekss Banka with one of the city's banks, BNS reported.
On 14 August, a Russian Foreign Ministry spokesman said numerous
"outrageous" violations of banking regulations and the withholding of
value-added tax payments "gave grounds" for freezing the accounts
of a number of Baltic commercial banks with Russian banks, ITAR-
TASS reported. He said he hoped the Baltic States' authorities would
take all "necessary measures" to ensure that their citizens and
commercial structures engaging in business activities in Russia
observe Russian legislation.

BRAZAUSKAS WANTS VILNIUS SUMMIT TO PRESSURE LUKASHENKA.
Lithuanian President Algirdas Brazauskas said on 14 August that he
hopes the summit of Eastern European leaders in Vilnius in early
September will speak out on the situation in Belarus, BNS reported.
But he added that he does not think "hard measures" would be a
proper way to solve "delicate issues." Vilnius has invited Belarusian
President Alyaksandr Lukashenka to attend the conference along
with the prime minister of Russia and the presidents of 1O other East
European countries. Also on 14 August, Brazauskas sent a letter to
Lukashenka calling on him to respect freedom of the press. He also
passed on a letter he had received from Lyudmila Sheremet, the
mother of one of the ORT journalists being detained in Belarus (see
"RFE/RL Newsline," 14 August 1997).

POLISH ELECTION UPDATE. The Democratic Left Alliance (SLD) and
Solidarity Electoral Action (AWS), which are currently leading in
opinion polls, have released data on their candidates for the 21
September elections. The SLD will run 551 candidates for the Sejm
and 84 candidates for the Senate. The AWS is fielding 845 candidates
for the lower chamber and 66 candidates for the upper house. Under
the Polish election law, all election candidates must state whether
they collaborated with the communist-era secret services. All AWS
candidates deny such collaboration, while some SLD candidates have
admitted to cooperating with those services.

CZECH PREMIER MEETS WITH ROMA. Vaclav Klaus on 14 August met
with representatives of the country's Romany community, CTK
reported. At a news conference after the meeting, he called on the
thousands of Roma preparing to emigrate to Canada because of racial
and social discrimination (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 14 August 1997) to
reconsider their decision. Klaus acknowledged that the Roma are
insufficiently represented in state bodies and said he is in favor of
setting up a secretariat that will coordinate Roma problems at the
government level. The Czech Helsinki Committee on Human Rights
also called on the Roma to stay in the country and urged the
government to strongly condemn attempts by local authorities to
evict them.

HUNGARIAN OPPOSITION LEADER CLEARED OF SECRET AGENT
CHARGES. The panel of judges examining the past of all
parliamentary deputies has ruled that Independent Smallholders'
Party chairman Jozsef Torgyan was not involved in secret agent
activities during the communist era, Hungarian media reported on 14
August. Torgyan has demanded Interior Minister Gabor Kuncze's
resignation for allegedly violating the legal principle of presumption
of innocence. In November 1995, Kuncze sent a document to the
screening panel indicating that Torgyan had been involved in secret
agent activities. The panel, however, found that police threatened
and repeatedly tried to recruit Torgyan in 1957. Although Torgyan
managed to avoid collaboration, he was registered as a secret agent
under a code name. Torgyan subsequently spent some time in a
psychiatric institute following a false diagnosis in an attempt to fend
off further harassment by the secret police. His name was removed
from the register on 29 May 1958.

HUNGARIAN PREMIER PRAISES ROMANIAN REFORM POLICY. Gyula
Horn, in a 14 August telephone conversation with Romanian Premier
Victor Ciorbea, praised the Romanian government's reform policy
and its consistent efforts to meet what he termed the legitimate
demands of the country's ethnic Hungarians, Hungarian media
reported. Horn said the Hungarian government fully supports
Romania's efforts to fulfill the conditions for Euro-Atlantic
integration. Horn also hinted that Hungary, the Czech Republic, and
Poland will discuss how to support Romanian goals at the 22 August
meeting of the three countries' premiers in Krakow.

SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE

ALBANIAN POLICE CLAIM VICTORY OVER VLORA GANGS. Police
officials said in Tirana on 14 August that three gang members died in
fighting in Vlora. "We have neutralized and eliminated several gangs
in the town and life is progressively returning to normal," Interior
Minister Neritan Ceka said. He also noted that his men have found
evidence of "inefficiencies" by the administrative and judicial
authorities in the area. One police official added that gang boss Zani
Caushi may have fled to Italy by sea (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 13
August 1997). Police rounded up large quantities of ammunition
after an anonymous tip-off and found a cache next to Caushi's house.
Some citizens handed in their arms voluntarily. Police say they will
round up all illegally-held weapons in the port town by the end of
September. In Elbasan, police said that five were killed and eight
injured in a fight between rival gangs on 14 August.

UN MARKS END OF OPERATION ALBA. The UN Security Council on 14
August announced the successful end of the international operation
to provide a minimum of security for the 29 June Albanian elections.
Italian UN Ambassador Paulo Fulci said that if the international
community had acted with the same speed and resolution in Bosnia
and in central Africa as it had in Albania, "thousands of lives would
probably have been spared and immense suffering and destruction
prevented." Fulci added, however, that "the primary responsibility
for Albania's future lies with the Albanian people and authorities."
Italy led Operation Alba and, together with Greece, will keep a small
security contingent in Albania to train the local military and police
under bilateral agreements. Also in New York, UN Secretary General
Kofi Annan said that the UN can soon begin scaling down its
peacekeeping force in Macedonia. Plans to do so earlier were delayed
because of the unrest in Albania.

SERBIAN OFFICIALS NERVOUS ABOUT KOSOVO. The official Yugoslav
news agency Tanjug quoted army spokesmen as saying in Belgrade
on 14 August that armed incidents on the border between Kosovo
and Albania have been increasing lately. The spokesmen said that
groups of people, including children, are trying to enter Yugoslavia
with the assistance of armed persons on the Kosovar side of the
border. Meanwhile, at a cabinet meeting in Pristina on 14 August,
Serbian Prime Minister Mirko Marjanovic argued that Kosovo will
always be part of Serbia: "any concepts based on the secession of this
part of Serbia are out of the question for ever." He also promised to
promote Kosovo's economic development. Kosovo has 42 seats in the
250-strong parliament that will be elected on 21 September. The
Albanians say they will boycott the vote. Local Serbs charge that the
government has done nothing to alleviate poverty in the region.

KOSOVO ALBANIAN LEADER CALLS FOR TOUGHER TACTICS. Bujar
Bukoshi, the prime minister of the Kosovars' government-in-exile,
told the "Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung" on 15 August that the
moderate tactics of the Kosovar leadership have reached a dead-end.
Bukoshi says that the Kosovars must resort to stronger forms of civil
disobedience to get the attention of the Serbian authorities and to
make them pay a higher price for what he called the occupation of
Kosovo. The international community must stop treating the Kosovo
problem as a question of minority rights because the Albanians are
not a minority in Kosovo, he added. Bukoshi also warned his
countrymen that "an uprising against Serbia would be suicide" but
admitted that the failure of shadow-state President Ibrahim
Rugova's moderate approach has led many Kosovars to sympathize
with the clandestine Kosovo Liberation Army (UCK). Bukoshi says he
suspects that the UCK consists of a small, determined group of young
people.

BULATOVIC APPEALS TO BELGRADE TO SAVE CANDIDACY.
Supporters of Montenegrin President Momir Bulatovic said in
Podgorica on 14 August that they will appeal to the Yugoslav
Constitutional Court to overturn the decision of its Montenegrin
counterpart to disqualify Bulatovic as the candidate of the governing
Democratic Socialist Party (DPS). The pro-Bulatovic group maintains
that the Podgorica court's decision violates Bulatovic's "constitutional
right to be elected." In Belgrade, the spokesman of the governing
Socialist Party of Serbia said his party supports Bulatovic's efforts to
establish his candidacy. Meanwhile in Podgorica, parliamentary
speaker Svetozar Marovic, who belongs to the reformist faction of the
DPS opposed to Bulatovic, invited the Organization for Security and
Cooperation to send observers to monitor Montenegro's 5 October
vote.

U.S. TO INCREASE FORCES IN BOSNIA. A Pentagon spokesman said in
Washington on 14 August that the U.S. will temporarily expand its
SFOR contingent from 8,000 to 12,000 troops to provide security for
the 14 September elections. In Vienna, Austrian Chancellor Viktor
Klima said that an armed international presence will be needed in
Bosnia even after SFOR's mandate expires in mid-1998. Klima added
that the three sides in Bosnia are not yet able to keep the peace
themselves and that the U.S. in particular should realize its own
interest in keeping Bosnia stable.

PLAVSIC SAYS BOSNIAN SERB COURT BALKING. Republika Srpska
President Biljana Plavsic said in Banja Luka on 14 August that she
will not respond to a summons from the Constitutional Court in Pale
to testify in the court proceedings on the legality of her dissolution of
parliament ("see RFE/RL Newsline," 13 August 1997). Plavsic says
that the court is stalling and that it should instead make a decision.
In Pale, a NATO spokesman stated that the alliance has completed its
inspection of the Bosnian Serb police. A UN police spokesman added
that a final agreement on the restructuring of the Bosnian Serb units
could be ready as early as 31 August. In Banja Luka, a Bosnian Serb
air force jet crashed on a routine training flight. Nobody was injured,
and "technical problems" were the likely cause of the crash.

CROATIAN PROSECUTOR GOES AFTER TWO TUDJMAN CRITICS. The
State Prosecutor's Office on 14 August asked the courts to launch an
investigation into two prominent critics of Franjo Tudjman. The
prosecutor said that ultra-nationalist Dobroslav Paraga and human
rights activist Ivan Zvonimir Cicak have "spread lies" about Tudjman
in recent statements on the role of the Croatian president in the
Bosnian war. Paraga had said that Tudjman was actively involved in
preparing and carrying out that conflict, while Cicak had commented
that Tudjman plotted with Serbian leader Slobodan Milosevic to
partition Bosnia. If convicted for spreading disinformation, the men
could be fined or sent to prison for six months. Cicak told RFE/RL that
the authorities are now making trouble for him because they are
trying to deflect attention from their moves under U.S. pressure to
round up indicted war criminals and send them to The Hague.

ROMANIAN PRESIDENT LEADS POPULARITY POLL. An opinion poll
conducted by the Bucharest-based Institute for Research of the
Quality of Life shows Emil Constantinescu is the most popular
politician in Romania, with the support of 71.1 percent of the
respondents. He is followed by Teodor Melescanu, the leader of the
recently formed Alliance for Romania (52.3 percent), Prime Minister
Victor Ciorbea (50.2 percent), Democratic Party leader Petre Roman
(49.4 percent), Greater Romania Party leader Corneliu Vadim Tudor
(37.9 percent), and former President Ion Iliescu (33.1 percent),
RFE/RL's Bucharest bureau reported. The ruling coalition is backed
by more than 55 percent of the respondents. The most popular party
is the National Peasant Party Christian Democratic (19.8 percent),
followed by the opposition Party of Social Democracy in Romania (12
percent).

U.S. ORGANIZATION PROTESTS ROMANIAN MONUMENT. Abraham
Foxman, the national director of the Anti-Defamation League, a U.S.
Jewish civic rights organization, has sent a letter to President
Constantinescu protesting a monument in memory of the interwar
fascist Iron Guard movement. The monument was erected in Eforie
Sud, on the Black Sea, at the end of a summer camp organized by
followers of the revived movement. Foxman commented that the
monument "exceeds the limits of freedom of speech in today's
democratic Romania," adding that the local authorities in Eforie Sud
"supported the project as a tourist attraction at the seaside resort."
He urged Constantinescu to "do everything within constitutional rules
to have this 'monument' removed."

ROMANIAN-U.S. NAVAL EXERCISE BEGINS. The U.S. Sixth Fleet and
Romanian naval forces have begun a one-week sea and land exercise
in the Black Sea, Radio Bucharest reported on 14 August. The joint
exercises are designed to improve cooperation in humanitarian relief
operations.

MOLDOVA, UKRAINE BOOST MILITARY COOPERATION. Moldovan
officers will be trained at Ukrainian military academies as of the
1997-98 academic year, ITAR-TASS reported on 14 August. The
agreement was reached at the end of a two-day visit to Kyiv by
Moldovan Chief of Staff Gen. Vladimir Dontul. At a press conference,
Dontul and his Ukrainian counterpart, Gen. Olexandr Zatynajko,
announced that military cooperation in general will be expanded. The
two sides also agreed that Moldova will supply Ukraine with
electronic equipment for artillery systems and that joint artillery
exercises will take place on Ukrainian territory. Kyiv will also allow
Chisinau to test air defense missiles at Ukrainian testing facilities.

BULGARIA CRACKS DOWN ON CRIME. Slavcho Bosilkov, the director of
the police force, told a press conference in Sofia on 14 August that
the police have uncovered 17,000 more crimes in the first six months
of 1997 than in the same period last year, Reuters reported. But he
added that a true comparison cannot be made, because the previous
administration had manipulated crime statistics to give lower figures
for 1995 and 1996. Bosilkov also said that in the past, citizens had
refrained from reporting racketeering and blackmailing attempts to
the police because they feared they would not be protected.

END NOTE

TRANSYLVANIA'S GLASS STILL HALF-EMPTY

by Michael Shafir

        It is well-established truism that different people can look at
the same phenomenon and see different things, depending on what
they want to see. In other words, the same glass can be "half-empty"
on the pessimist's table and "half-full" in the hand of the optimist.
        Transylvania is a case in point. Following the 1996 elections in
Romania and the Hungarian Democratic Federation of Romania's
(UDMR) inclusion in the ruling coalition, the grievances of the
Hungarian minority in that country seemed to have finally come to
an end. The new government of Victor Ciorbea agreed to amend an
education law to which the UDMR had objected as discriminatory. It
had also agreed to bilingual signs in localities with a minority
population of at least 20 percent. Moreover, the Hungarian consulate
in Cluj, closed by former dictator Nicolae Ceausescu in 1988, was re-
opened in late July, just two months after Hungarian President Arpad
Goencz's visit to that city.
        Those developments, however, did not occur without incident.
Gheorghe Funar, the ultra-nationalist mayor of Cluj, was behind
demonstrations against Goencz's visit; and, following the opening of
the consulate, he twice engineered the theft of the Hungarian
national flag from the building in which the consulate is temporarily
quartered. During his visit to RFE/RL in Prague in early August,
Goencz dismissed the significance of those incidents, pointing out that
Hungary has "its own extremists." Goencz's glass was obviously "half-
full."
        In reality, the situation is less encouraging -- and the Romanian
side cannot shoulder all the blame. The government was unable to
pass the amended education law, prompting the UDMR to threaten to
leave the coalition unless the amended legislation went into force as
of 1 September. The cabinet was therefore compelled to pass an
"ordinance," which made the amended law effective immediately but
has not yet been approved by the parliament.
        It is by no means certain that the legislature will give its
approval, since it is not merely the extreme nationalists (the Party of
Romanian National Unity, or PUNR and the Greater Romania Party)
and the former ruling Party of Social Democracy in Romania (PDSR)
that oppose the amended law. The government was, in fact, forced to
resort to the ordinance owing to the strong opposition of George
Pruteanu, the chairman of the Senate's Education Committee.
Pruteanu is a member of the National Peasant Party Christian
Democratic (PNTCD), which is the most influential component of the
Democratic Convention of Romania (CDR), the main alliance in the
ruling coalition. (When the original version of the education law was
passed in 1994 by the former, PDSR-dominated legislature, it had
enjoyed the support of many CDR representatives.)
        Also contributing to the perception of the Transylvanian "half-
empty glass" is the issue of the Hungarian-Romanian signs, which
were similarly instituted by ordinance and, for this reason, may
likewise not survive the vote in the parliament. Bilingual signs were
painted over in the colors of the Romanian national flag twice in
Targu Mures, at the obvious instigation of the PUNR. But in mid-
August, a member of the Democratic Party, one of the ruling coalition
formations, suggested that the percentage allowing bilingual street
signs be changed to "more than 22.7 percent" to avoid their use in
Cluj. The UDMR has wisely decided not to push with the attempt to
have bilingual signs in Cluj as long as Funar remains mayor of that
city.
        Unfortunately, not all UDMR representatives have displayed
such wisdom. In July, the local authorities in Odorheiul Secuiesc,
where the UDMR has a majority on the local council, evicted the
occupants of an orphanage set up with Swiss donations and run by
the Greek Orthodox Church, claiming that the needs of the local (that
is, Hungarian) community should come first. Such gestures only
provide the opponents of reconciliation with "convincing arguments."
        Yet another example shows that it would be wrong to reduce
the camp of such opponents to known extremists. While on a visit to
Transylvania in early August, Minister of Interior Gavril Dejeu (a
PNTCD member), virtually exonerated Funar, saying that the opening
of the Hungarian consulate in downtown Cluj had been a
"provocation" against the ethnic majority. Dejeu argued that other,
"more peripheral" premises should have been found. He "forgot" to
mention that Funar had refused to provide any premises whatsoever
and that the consulate is temporarily housed in a building owned by
the UDMR.
        On the other side of the Romanian-Hungarian border, Viktor
Orban, the leader of the Alliance of Young Democrats, accused Gyula
Horn's cabinet of insufficiently promoting the interests of Hungarian
minorities abroad. Again, one is not dealing here with "extreme
nationalists" but with a mainstream political party, which the latest
polls show leading the field ahead of the 1998 elections.
        This may be putting too much stress on the "half-empty" glass.
But, as one East European joke has it, the optimists are convinced
that this is the best of all possible worlds and the pessimists agree
with them. That appears to be the case even in Transylvania.


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