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RFE/RL NEWSLINE

RFE/RL NEWSLINE Vol. 1, No. 107, Part II, 1 September1997



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

* UPDATE ON ORT JOURNALISTS DETAINED IN BELARUS

* PLAVSIC, U.S. BLAME BELGRADE FOR BRCKO VIOLENCE

* ROMANIA, RUSSIA TO DISCUSS TREATY

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EAST-CENTRAL EUROPE

UPDATE ON ORT JOURNALISTS DETAINED IN BELARUS. Some 1,000
people, most of them journalists from Belarusian opposition
publications, rallied on 30 August in Minsk to demand the release of
two Russian ORT television employees detained by Belarusian
authorities, Interfax reported. Some of the protesters were dressed
in prisoners' uniforms. A total of seven ORT journalists were detained
over the past month by Belarusian authorities on charges of violating
the Belarusian-Lithuanian border. Five of them were released
following pressure from Moscow. The remaining two--both
Belarusian citizens--are still in jail. On 29 August, Belarusian Foreign
Minister Ivan Antanovich said that ORT journalists may be allowed
to resume their jobs in Belarus, but only if their bosses formally
apologize for their recent illegal border crossing.

SOUTH AFRICAN FOREIGN MINISTER IN UKRAINE. Alfred Nzo on 30
August concluded what he called a "historic" visit to Ukraine. The
visit came three years after the two countries established diplomatic
ties. Ukrainian Foreign Minister Hennady Udovenko said at a joint
news conference with Nzo that the two discussed a wide range of
issues aimed at strengthening relations in the political, economic,
military, scientific and technological fields. Nzo also met with
President Leonid Kuchma, Prime Minister Valery Pustovoitenko and
the ministers of defense, trade and industrial policy. Nzo said his
talks with Defense Minister Oleksander Kuzmuk were devoted to
military cooperation agreements signed when South Africa's defense
chief visited Ukraine earlier this year. On 29 August, Ukraine's
foreign ministry announced President Kuchma is planning to visit
South Africa late this year.

NARVA TO SUPPLY RUSSIAN TOWN WITH WATER. The town of
Narva on Estonia's northeastern border will not cut off water and
sewage services to the town of Ivangorod in Russia, the Estonian
news service ETA reported on 29 August. The two towns, divided by
the Narva river, shared a common infrastructure as part of the Soviet
Union until 1991. The Narva municipal water supplier Narva Vesi
had threatened to cut services because of mounting debts incurred
by Ivangorod until an agreement was reached on 29 August. Pavel
Grigoryev, mayor of Ivangorod, promised to pay the current debt of
roughly 3 million kroons ($200,000) before the end of 1997, Narva
Vesi director Aksel Ers told ETA. Ivangorod plans to cover back
interest on the debt by exporting oil shale to Narva.

LITHUANIAN PRIME MINISTER IN POLAND. Lithuanian Prime
Minister Gediminas Vagnorius and Polish Prime Minister
Wlodzimierz Cimoszewicz, meeting on 29 August in Wigry in
northeastern Poland, agreed to establish a third bilateral government
cooperation council, RFE/RL's Warsaw correspondent reported. It is
to convene in two weeks in the Lithuanian capital, Vilnius, to
deliberate on such matters as joint border controls, national
minorities, and the integration of Baltic states into Western
international institutions. The two countries already have joint
presidential and parliamentary consultative forums. The prime
ministers also discussed plans for a visit by Cimoszewicz to Lithuania
in September.

DEFENSE MINISTERS OF POLAND, GERMANY, DENMARK MEET. Polish
Defense Minister Stanislaw Dobrzanski, German Defense Minister
Volker Ruehe , and Danish Defense Minister Hans Haekkerp met 29-
31 August north of Warsaw to discuss Bosnia and the security
situation in Europe. The ministers on 31 August announced plans to
establish a joint military corps. The corps will begin operation after
Poland's entry into NATO. Ruehe on 31 August warned Bosnian Serb
hardliners in Pale against any attempts to torpedo the peace process.
He said the "old forces" will not be allowed to destroy the young
roots of peace in Bosnia. He said all sides should be aware that NATO
is serious, and they should abide by the Dayton peace accords. Those
failing to do so "will face hard times ahead." He noted that NATO
peacekeepers are not in Bosnia to use force, but that their job is to
ensure that the Dayton agreement is abided by.

SOLIDARITY UNVEILS ITS ELECTION PLATFORM. The Solidarity
Election Action (AWS) on 31 August unveiled its election platform
three weeks ahead of the general elections, Polish media reported.
The program has 21 points, outlining political and economic reforms.
It was released on the 17th anniversary of Solidarity's emergence as
the former Soviet bloc's first independent trade union. AWS
chairman Marian Krzaklewski read out the planned reforms
including a pro-family tax policy, stepped-up privatization, a
crackdown on organized crime and the modernization of the armed
forces to ensure Poland's smooth entry into NATO. The 21-point
platform is a symbolic throwback to the 21 demands issued 17 years
ago by striking shipyard workers.

CZECH FOREIGN DEBT GROWING. "Mlada Fronta Dnes" wrote on 1
September that the foreign debt of the Czech Republic has grown
from $8.5 billion in 1993 to a current $19.6 billion. According to the
daily, the Czech Republic, previously known as one of the East
European countries with a low level of foreign indebtedness, now has
one of the highest per capita indebtedness in the region. The daily
quotes Czech National Bank spokesman Martin Svehla as saying that
the level of indebtedness has reached the point where investors have
started to doubt the Czech economy's health and could start
threatening the country's relatively good rating.

SLOVAK PRESIDENT DEMANDS EXPELLED DEPUTY BE REINSTATED.
Michal Kovac on 31 August appealed to the government to respect a
Constitutional Court ruling which in July overturned the expulsion of
deputy Frantisek Gaulieder from the parliament, Slovak Radio
reported. In a special address to parliament commemorating the fifth
anniversary of the adoption of the country's constitution, Kovac said
acceptance of the court's ruling could improve Slovakia's political
image abroad. In December 1996, the parliament stripped Gaulieder
of his mandate shortly after he quit Prime Minister Vladimir
Meciar's Movement for a Democratic Slovakia (HZDS). The
Constitutional Court said the parliament had violated the
Constitution, but it stopped short of ordering Gaulieder's
reinstatement, saying it lacked the authority to do so. EU and NATO
countries, including the U.S., have criticized the decision to expel
Gaulieder. At the end of August, the Slovak coalition parties
boycotted parliament sessions called to discuss Gaulieder's case on
three consecutive days.

SLOVAK OPPOSITION COALITION PROMISES MORE DEMOCRACY. The
Slovak Democratic Coalition (SDK)--a five-party election coalition--
said in a statement released on 30 August that it will strive for
renewed democracy after the 1998 elections it is hoping to win. The
coalition consists of the Christian Democratic Movement (KDH) , the
Democratic Union, the Democratic Party, the Social Democratic Party
of Slovakia, and the Greens. The statement lists 15 points comprising
the coalition's agenda, including efforts to secure a full-fledged
position in NATO and the EU. The coalition says it will "punish crimes
committed by the present government."

HUNGARIAN CHRISTIAN DEMOCRATS TO JOIN YOUNG DEMOCRATS.
Eight members of the Christian Democratic People's Party's dissolved
parliamentary faction, including ex-faction leader Tamas Isepy and
party deputy chair Zsolt Semjen, announced on 29 August their
intention to join the parliamentary group of the Alliance of Young
Democrats - Hungarian Civic Party (FIDESZ-MPP). Zoltan Pokorni,
Young Democrats' faction leader, welcomed the initiative and told
"Magyar Hirlap" that FIDESZ will decide about receiving the eight
new members at its September 7 meeting. He expressed hopes for a
positive decision, saying the move would help establish a moderate,
centrist opposition coalition. Meanwhile, the Hungarian Christian
Democratic Union, established in mid-July and consisting of groups
distancing themselves from the party's present leadership, elected
Laszlo Surjan as the union's leader on 30 August.


SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE

PLAVSIC, U.S. BLAME BELGRADE FOR BRCKO VIOLENCE. Republika
Srpska President Biljana Plavsic said in Banja Luka on 31 August that
persons from Yugoslavia were behind the organized, armed attacks
on NATO troops in Brcko last week (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 29
August 1997). Plavsic argued that "to take such irresponsible action
there, driving in criminals from Yugoslavia... and then put women
and children up front as shields is insane and amoral for any normal
man." Observers note that all sides, however, used such tactics during
the war. Meanwhile, police loyal to the hard-line leadership around
Radovan Karadzic were still in control of the well-guarded police
stations in Brcko and Bijeljina on 1 September.

INTERNATIONAL COMMUNITY NOT TO WORK WITH PLAVSIC
RIVALS. Farrand also said in Banja Luka on 31 August that the
international community will keep contact only with Bosnian Serb
officials supporting Plavsic. Foreign diplomats had earlier refused to
have anything to do with the Pale-based parliament, which she has
dissolved. The international community has denied charges from Pale
that the foreigners are taking sides and has responded that Plavsic is
the Republika Srpska's only elected president and legitimate source
of authority. Meanwhile, the Sarajevo-based daily "Vecernje Novine"
and the Banja Luka-based "Nezavisne Novine" announced in Sarajevo
that they will begin distributing each other's newspapers on 1
September. This is a landmark attempt to break the information
barrier between the Croat-Muslim Federation and the Republika
Srpska.

U.S. ENVOY WARNS PALE OF "MOST SERIOUS CONSEQUENCES
IMAGINABLE." Robert Gelbard called Karadzic spokesman Momcilo
Krajisnik and other hard-line Bosnian Serb leaders "liars" during his
visit to Pale on 30 August. The U.S. diplomat dubbed their policies
"fascist and totalitarian" and warned the Pale leadership of tough
consequences if they continue to defy the international community.
Krajisnik responded that the Serbs "do not accept any threats." Some
Western diplomats said that Krajisnik shrugged off the protests
because only tough actions, and not tough talk, have an effect on the
Serbs. Other diplomats argued that Krajisnik is nervous because he
did not expect the Western reaction to the violence in Brcko to be so
resolute.

NATO TO TAKE HARD-LINE BOSNIAN SERB MEDIA OFF THE AIR?
NATO ambassadors warned in Brussels on 30 August that SFOR will
not tolerate further attacks against international personnel. The
diplomats added that peacekeepers may silence media that incite
violence or oppose the peace process, which observers said is a
reference to Radio-TV Pale. Several international diplomats and U.S.
lawmakers had earlier called for peacekeepers to shut down
especially TV broadcasts from Pale, which, the critics said, openly
incite Serbs to attack NATO troops. Meanwhile near Bijeljina, SFOR
took over the Udrigovo TV relay station on 31 August. The station
had been broadcasting programs from Pale to northeastern Bosnia.
And in Doboj, Republika Srpska legislator and journalist Milovan
Stankovic has gone on a hunger strike in prison. Hard-liners jailed
him after he supported a pro-Plavsic takeover of a local TV
transmitter (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 28 August 1997).

IZETBEGOVIC PROMISES TO CATCH MURDERERS OF CROATIAN
REFUGEES. Alija Izetbegovic, the Muslim representative of the
Bosnian joint presidency, demanded in Sarajevo on 31 August that
federal and Travnik-area police quickly catch the persons who killed
two Croatian returning refugees in Muslim-dominated Travnik the
day before. Izetbegovic added that any crime against returning
refugees is also a crime against the Dayton peace agreement, an
RFE/RL correspondent reported from Sarajevo. Croatian political
leaders in the Travnik area warned that the murders have become a
test case for the troubled Croat-Muslim Federation. The Croatian
leaders said there is now reason to doubt the recent pledge by the
Travnik authorities that the town is ready to receive 18,000
returning Croats.

U.N. CRACKS DOWN ON SLAVONIAN FORCED PROSTITUTION RING. U.N.
police officials announced in Vukovar on 30 August that they have
freed 35 women from eastern European countries as part of a two-
month crackdown on mafia-type activities in eastern Slavonia. The
U.N. has contacted the women's embassies and made arrangements
for those who want to go home to do so. The women had been lured
to the area under promises of good jobs but were then forced into
prostitution and their passports taken away. This is a familiar
pattern involving eastern European women in brothels across much
of the continent. U.N. officials said that mafia-type criminals have,
moreover, resisted the reintegration of eastern Slavonia into Croatia,
which the Mafiosi see as a threat to their economic interests. These
involve fuel and cigarette smuggling and stolen cars, as well as
prostitution.

ITALY SETS DEADLINE FOR RETURN OF ALBANIAN REFUGEES. About
10,000 Albanians who took refugee in Italy during the unrest in
March will be sent back by the end of November, "Dita Informacion"
reported on 31 August. Italian Defense Minister Beniamino
Andreatta said that the refugees would be expelled in a step-by-step
approach starting soon, depending on the expiration date of their
refugee documents. And in Gjirokaster, the conflict over the
appointment of the local prefect and customs officials at the Greek
border continues (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 24 August 1997). The local
branch of the Socialist Party claims that a large number of those
appointed are corrupt.

UPDATE ON ALBANIAN ARMS COLLECTION. Police collected 100,000
illegally held arms as of 30 August, according to Interior Minister
Neritan Ceka. Up to 800,000 arms are, however, still in private
hands. Ceka accused former President Sali Berisha of having ordered
the arming of more than 4,000 of his Democratic Party supporters in
March by taking advantage of his position as commander of the
armed forces, "Gazeta Shqiptare" reported. According to "Zeri i
Popullit," most of these weapons have since been turned in.
Meanwhile, doctors said the health of hunger-striking former
parliamentary speaker Pjeter Arbnori is worsening. Prime Minister
Fatos Nano and President Rexhep Meidani sent messages to Arbnori,
calling on him to end his protest and offered to start a discussion
about democratization of the media.

ROMANIA, RUSSIA TO DISCUSS TREATY. Romania and Russia have
agreed to relaunch talks about a long-delayed treaty on bilateral
relations, RFE/RL's Bucharest bureau reported on 29 August. The
treaty has been blocked by Bucharest's insistence that Moscow
denounce the Ribbentrop-Molotov pact made in 1939 between the
Soviet Union and Nazi Germany. Under that pact, Romania lost control
of territory in what is now Ukraine and Moldova. Romanian Foreign
Minister Adrian Severin said on 29 August that Bucharest wants to
sign a new treaty with Russia as soon as possible after agreement is
reached on the text. RFE/RL quoted Russian Deputy Foreign Minister
Aleksandr Avdeev as saying on 29 August that Russia also is
prepared to resume negotiations.

ROMAN REELECTED AS PARTY HEAD. Romania's former prime
minister, Petre Roman, was reelected as head of the Democratic Party
on 30 August during the party's national convention. Roman pledged
that his party, a junior partner in the governing coalition of Prime
Minister Victor Ciorbea, will continue to support radical economic
restructuring -- including the closure of loss-making state industries.
But Roman also said his party would criticize what it sees as errors in
the application of reforms. Meanwhile, the Democratic Party passed a
resolution asking for fair cooperation among the parties that make
up the government. The Democratic Party said it will leave the
coalition and ask for new elections if its coalition partners attempt to
improve their own political profiles at the expense of its allies. The
Democratic Party now controls the foreign affairs, defense and
transport ministries.

ROMANIAN PRESIDENT TO VISIT CHINA. Emil Constantinescu plans
to make an official visit to China next week in an attempt to boost
ties between the two countries. RFE/RL quotes officials in Bucharest
as saying that the visit will take place between 8 and 12 September
at the invitation of Chinese President Jiang Zemin. Constantinescu's
schedule calls for meetings with Jiang and Prime Minister Li Peng, as
well as with businessmen in Hong Kong and the economic zone of
Zuhia. Foreign Minister Severin and several Romanian businessmen
are expected to join Constantinescu's entourage.

BULGARIAN GOVERNMENT MARKS 100th DAY IN OFFICE. Bulgarian
Prime Minister Ivan Kostov today marked his 100th day in office by
issuing a report to his cabinet on its work to date. Details of the
report are to be made public later today. RFE/RL's Sofia bureau
reports that former interim Prime Minister Stefan Sofiansky
attended the closed cabinet meeting. RFE/RL quotes a recent World
Bank report noting progress toward financial stabilization and an
improved climate for investment since Kostov's anti-Communist
government took office. But the World Bank also says that several
economic sectors, including retail trade, have so far failed to show
signs of recovery.



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               Copyright (c) 1997 RFE/RL, Inc.
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