The greatest happiness is to know the source of unhappiness. - Dostoevsky
RFE/RL NEWSLINE

RFE/RL NEWSLINE Vol. 1, No. 108, Part II, 2 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

* BELARUSIAN PRESIDENT ON RELATIONS WITH RUSSIA

* BOSNIAN SERBS STONE U.S. TROOPS

* ALBANIA TO CLOSE PYRAMID SCHEMES

End Note : A STATE OUTSIDE A BLOC
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EAST-CENTRAL EUROPE

BELARUSIAN PRESIDENT ON RELATIONS WITH RUSSIA. Alyaksandr
Lukashenka told Interfax on 1 September that the detention of two
Russian Public Television (ORT) film crews in Belarus and subsequent
developments "have not affected in any way" relations between
Russia and Belarus. Lukashenka said he is sure that ORT management
and "political circles" supporting it were behind the crossing of the
Belarusian-Lithuanian border by one crew and the attempted
crossing by the other. He argued that there are "certain forces in
Russia that badly need these provocations." He also commented that
Belarus remains for Russia a "true window" to the West and that
there are many people who would like Belarusian policy to change to
close that window. Lukashenka said he intends to familiarize Yeltsin
with materials confiscated from ORT correspondents Pavel Sheremet
and Dmitri Zavadsky, which, he said, "will significantly change the
Russian leader's view."

ETHNIC RUSSIANS PROTEST UKRAINIAN SCHOOL. Pro-Russian citizens
in Ukraine's eastern industrial city of Donetsk on 1 September staged
protests against the opening of the first Ukrainian-language school in
the city, Interfax reported. Dozens of activists picketed the school to
protest what they called the "forceful Ukrainization" of their mainly
Russian-speaking region. The Russian language is widely used in
some parts of Ukraine, including Kyiv and the eastern and southern
regions. It is predominantly used on the Crimean peninsula, where
75 percent of the 2.7 million population are ethnic Russians.
Ukraine's pro-Russian parties are in favor of the equal status of the
Ukrainian and Russian languages. Also on 1 September, the Crimean
authorities opened the first Ukrainian school in the region, saying
they planned to open more Ukrainian schools later this year.

ESTONIA, CYPRUS SEEK CLOSER TIES. Cypriot Foreign Minister
Yiannakis Kasoulides was in Tallinn on 1 September for the first visit
by a high-ranking Cypriot official since the restoration of Estonian
independence, BNS and ETA reported. Kasoulides met with Estonian
Prime Minister Mart Siimann to discuss cooperation in the two
countries' bids for EU membership. Following their meeting,
Kasoulides told reporters that Estonia and Cyprus will scrap visas for
each other's citizens within the next few months. Both countries were
recommended by the European Commission to start accession talks
with the European Union.

POLISH PRESIDENT SUES PRESS OVER SPY ALLEGATIONS. Aleksander
Kwasniewski on 1 September filed a civil lawsuit against newspapers
that reported he had contacts with a Russian spy three years ago. A
presidential spokesman described the recent reports as a "pack of
lies" that harm the "good name" of the president. Kwasniewski is
demanding that the opposition dailies "Zycie" and "Dziennik Baltycki"
issue corrections, apologize, and pay the equivalent of $1.4 million to
victims of the recent flooding. The spokesman said the allegations
were part of a campaign to discredit Prime Minister Wlodzimierz
Cimoszewicz's former communist alliance in the run-up to the 21
September parliamentary elections. Kwasniewski is a former leader
of the post-communist Democratic Left Alliance.

CZECH PRESIDENT ON RE-ELECTION BID. Vaclav Havel said in an
interview on Czech Television on 1 September that he is still not
absolutely certain whether he will run for another term in office at
the beginning of next year. He said that while he has officially
declared he is prepared to run, he may still change his mind if he is
not nominated by the four largest parties in the country. He added
that he will not run if his popularity should drop sharply. Havel
noted that his wife was right when she recently called for the
minimal duties of the "first lady" to be defined by law. He argued
that Dagmar Havel needs one to two secretaries and a political
adviser for coping smoothly with her agenda. Havel also criticized
journalists who invade the privacy of famous people. He said the
death of Princess Diana should be a lesson to those journalists who
had, in effect, hunted her down.

ALBRIGHT IN CZECH REPUBLIC. U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine
Albright arrived for a one-day private visit to east Bohemia on 1
September, together with her sister Katy as well her two daughters
and their husbands. Albright visited the towns of Letohrad and
Kostelec nad Orlici, where the families of her father and mother had
lived. Meanwhile, President Havel's office announced on 1 September
that Britain's Prince Charles has canceled his planned visit to Prague
following the death of his former wife, Princess Diana. Prince Charles
and Havel were to have opened the restored Palffy Garden, located
beneath Prague Castle on 9 September. The renovation was financed
by the Prague Heritage Fund, which the prince and Havel jointly
founded in 1992.

SLOVAK PREMIER ON CONSTITUTION. Vladimir Meciar told Slovak
Radio on 1 September that in assessing the Slovak Constitution, "we
must be clear on the question of what type of political system would
be most suitable for Slovakia" in the future. He listed three
possibilities: a "perfected" version of the current system; a system
that gave more power to the government; or a system such as the
U.S. presidential one. Meciar said that he is personally convinced that
"the sovereignty of the Slovak parliament must be confirmed" and
the powers of the president be adjusted accordingly. Meciar also said
it is necessary to determine how the decisions of the Constitutional
Court should be implemented: whether legislation should be
amended directly by the court or by the parliament after the court
has ruled a law is unconstitutional.

HUNGARIAN PREMIER REJECTS CALL TO RESIGN. A panel of judges
examining the communist past of senior officials has called on Gyula
Horn to resign after establishing that he served in the armed forces
following the 1956 uprising and that, in his capacity as a senior
Foreign Ministry official from1985-1990, he received secret service
reports. Under the law, those notified by the panel should resign
within 30 days, otherwise the panel's findings will be released. Horn
himself made public the panel's ruling at a press conference on 1
September. "I see neither moral nor legal reasons to resign," Horn
said, adding that all significant aspects of his past were known both
by the voters who elected him as a deputy and by the parliament,
which elected him prime minister. "With my present statement, I
regard the case closed," he remarked.

HUNGARY TO RETURN PROPERTY TO SERBIAN ORTHODOX CHURCH.
Parliamentary speaker Zoltan Gal on 1 September said that the
Serbian Orthodox Church in Hungary will get back property
confiscated by the Hungarian communist leadership. Of the 38
properties nationalized in the 1940s, 18 have already been returned
to the Church and another 10 will be returned over the next 14
years. Hungary will pay annuities to the Church for the remaining 10
properties. In other news, the government coalition on 1 September
ruled that a new law guaranteeing parliamentary representation of
the country's 13 minorities will be adopted this fall.

SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE

BOSNIAN SERBS STONE U.S. TROOPS. Some 300 Bosnian Serb civilians
on 1 September surrounded and stoned SFOR soldiers who had taken
control of a television transmitter at Udrigovo, near Bijeljina, in
northeastern Bosnia. A NATO spokesman called the attack
"orchestrated." Momcilo Krajisnik, Radovan Karadzic's spokesman,
said in Pale on 2 September that SFOR will return the transmitter to
Karadzic's TV Pale in the course of the day. News agencies added that
Pale agreed to tone down its anti-NATO broadcasts if the transmitter
is returned. SFOR spokesmen said that the Serbian crowds had
withdrawn from the transmitter after reaching an agreement with
the peacekeepers. The agreement provides for the state-owned
transmitter to be used by rival stations.

FRANCE WARNS PALE NOT TO USE FORCE. The French Foreign
Ministry warned the hard-line Bosnian Serbs on 1 September that
future attacks on NATO personnel will be met with force. The U.S. has
already issued similar warnings. In Belgrade, Yugoslav President
Slobodan Milosevic repeated his proposal that early elections be held
in the Republika Srpska. He argued that such a vote is the only way
to solve the ongoing Bosnian Serb political crisis. Western officials
have said that the proposal is not acceptable. And in Tuzla, victims of
land mines mourned Princess Diana, who recently visited that city
and Sarajevo to draw public attention to the plight of those injured
by mines. NATO experts have said that there are tens of thousands of
mines still buried across Bosnia and that the devices will pose a
danger for generations to come.

MASS GRAVE DISCOVERED IN NORTHWESTERN BOSNIA. Bosnian
government officials began excavating a mass grave near Bihac on 1
September. Spokesmen said the pit may contain up to 300 bodies of
Muslim civilians killed by Serbian troops during the war. Officials
added that if that estimate proves accurate, the site would be one of
the largest mass graves found in Bosnia to date. Meanwhile in
Mostar, Vladimir Soljic, the president of the Croatian-Muslim
Federation, protested the recent killing of two Croats in central
Bosnia (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 1 September 1997). Soljic said that
the murders were only the latest of several incidents directed
against Croatian refugees who have returned to the Muslim-
controlled area near Travnik, an RFE/RL correspondent reported
from Mostar. The Croatian government has also protested the killings
and demanded that the murderers be found and punished.

CROATIA ARRESTS EX-POLICEMAN FOR WAR CRIMES. The Croatian
authorities on 1 September arrested Miro Bajramovic after he told a
newspaper that he had personally killed 72 Serbs in the Gospic and
Pakrac areas during the war. Bajramovic added that his victims
included nine women. He stated that he and the other members of a
special police unit were under orders to kill all Serbs they could find,
including civilians, as part of an "ethnic cleansing" campaign.
Bajramovic's commanding officer was Tomislav Mercep, who is now a
politician in eastern Slavonia. Meanwhile, UN troops completed their
mandate in eastern Slavonia on 1 September and began turning over
their monitoring positions between Serbian and Croatian lines to UN
police forces.

YUGOSLAV UPDATE. In Podgorica, the Montenegrin government and
opposition parties reached an agreement on 1 September to hold
parliamentary elections by May 1998. The pact guarantees all parties
access to the state-run media. In Kosovo, ethnic Albanian children
and students began the school year by attending private schools run
by the Kosovar shadow state. The private schools came into being
several years ago to protest Belgrade's taking control of public
schools from local authorities. On 1 September 1996, shadow-state
President Ibrahim Rugova and his Serbian counterpart, Slobodan
Milosevic, agreed to return autonomy to Kosovo's public schools and
close the private ones, but the pact has remained a dead letter. And
in Belgrade, the local authorities, which are opposed to Milosevic,
protested that customs officials are holding up delivery of 10 buses
given to Belgrade by the city of Berlin. Improving public
transportation was one of Mayor Zoran Djindjic's key campaign
promises in the 1996 elections.

ALBANIA TO CLOSE PYRAMID SCHEMES. Following two weeks of
negotiations, Albania and the IMF have drawn up a six-month
economic recovery program, "Gazeta Shqiptare" reported on 2
September. The Albanian government will close down pyramid
investment companies, raise value-added tax from 12.5 percent to
22 percent, improve collection of customs duties, and guarantee the
independence of the banking system. In exchange, the IMF will give
the green light to an international donors conference and provide
assistance to establish a social security net and rebuild the economy.
A three-year agreement will be signed next March if Albania fulfills
its obligations under the current plan. In related news, President
Rexhep Meidani appointed Socialist Shkelqim Cani as the new
governor of the National Bank, Cani replaces Qamil Tusha, whom
former President Sali Berisha had appointed.

ALBANIAN OFFICIAL SACKED AFTER FREEING "DANGEROUS
CRIMINAL." Elbasan prosecutor Niko Duro was fired on 1 September
for having released from prison a man whose subsequent behavior
led to a series of violent incidents several days earlier, "Dita
Informacion" reported. Following his release, the unnamed man
killed one member of a family in Elbasan, whose murder the family
then avenged by killing the freed criminal. Police surrounded the
apartment house in which the family lived but were met with heavy
armed resistance. During the subsequent shoot-out, police used anti-
tank weapons. Three family members were killed and five policemen
wounded in the incident. The Albanian media subsequently criticized
the State Prosecutor's Office for having freed a man whom the press
called a dangerous criminal.

BUCHAREST HOSTS DEMOCRACY CONFERENCE. Representatives from
some 75 countries have arrived in Bucharest for a three-day
conference on "New and Restored Democracies," RFE/RL's Romanian
service reported on 1 September. The conference, organized by the
Romanian Foreign Ministry and conducted with technical and
financial support from the United Nations Development Program, will
focus on connections between a country's style of government and its
democratic development. Among those attending are the foreign
ministers from some 30 emerging democracies in central and eastern
Europe, Africa, and Asia.

MIXED ECONOMIC INDICATORS IN ROMANIA. Romania's consumer
price index rose by 0.7 percent in July, according to information
released by the State Statistics Office on 29 August. The data show a
marked decrease in the growth of prices since February and March,
when monthly inflation reached 30 percent. The average net wage
rose in July by 7 percent to 721,728 lei (about $88). But analysts say
the full benefits of structural change have yet to be felt, as loss-
making state firms are still a burden on the state budget. Industrial
output in July was 10.7 percent below the July 1996 level.

BULGARIAN MINERS BLAME DIRECTOR FOR COAL MINE DEATHS.
Workers at the Bobov Dol coal mine, some 70 kilometers southwest
of Sofia, have accused the director for the deaths of seven miners in
a methane gas explosion on 1 September, BTA reported. The miners
say a chamber adjacent to the explosion site was not adequately
ventilated when workers were sent to work after a month-long
shutdown for the summer vacation. More than 20 miners have been
killed at Bobov Dol in the past eight years. The National Security
Council and a special government commission are scheduled on 2
September to discuss whether the mine should be closed. Konstantin
Trenchev, head of the Podkrepa trade union, told RFE/RL's Sofia
bureau that technological improvements are needed at mines across
the country. He said working conditions for Bulgarian miners are
similar to those in the Middle Ages.

BULGARIANS REQUEST TO SEE SECRET POLICE FILES. More than 1,000
Bulgarians registered on 1 September to find out whether the
Communist-era state security service kept secret files on them,
RFE/RL's Sofia bureau reported. Requests to see those files began to
be accepted that day. Andrei Raichev, a sociologist and close ally of
the late former Communist Prime Minster Andrei Lukanov, was
among the first 100 people to register in Sofia. In July, the
parliament passed legislation allowing citizens to see files compiled
about them and their families during the communist era. Information
is expected to be released after 22 September.

END NOTE

A STATE OUTSIDE A BLOC

by Paul Goble

        Some fundamental shifts in the balance of power in Eastern
Europe have made it possible for Ukraine to become a "state outside
a bloc," as Ukrainian President Leonid Kuchma recently put it.
        Speaking in Kyiv on 28 August following a meeting with
visiting Russian Defense Minister Igor Sergeev, Kuchma announced
two major changes in the direction of Ukraine's security policy. He
said that "Ukraine does not intend to join NATO structures," even
though he would not rule out future cooperation with the Western
alliance. At the same time, he made clear that Kyiv no longer intends
to be bound by the provisions of the collective security treaty signed
in 1992 by seven members of the Commonwealth of Independent
States. Instead, he said, Ukraine will seek to improve relations with
individual countries, including Russia, as a means of promoting its
security and well-being.
        Kuchma's announcement that his country will not seek NATO
membership undercuts earlier statements by Ukrainian officials that
Kyiv's strategic objective is to join the Western alliance at some point
in the future. But, just like his declaration about the CIS, his remarks
about NATO reflect three broader changes across the region.
        First, Ukraine's shift represents a triumph, rather than a defeat,
for NATO's policy of expansion. It was no coincidence that Kuchma's
remarks came only one day after U.S. troops landed in Crimea as part
of a NATO-sponsored Partnership for Peace joint exercise. Much
criticized by Moscow, those maneuvers have reaffirmed Western
support for Ukraine but have also prompted the Russian government
to shift its position both rhetorically and in practice.
        Russian criticism of the maneuvers and of Ukraine's
participation have softened since the exercises began, and Russian
relations with Ukraine have continued to improve, with the two sides
announcing that Kuchma will make an official visit to Moscow early
next year. That shift, in turn. has allowed the Ukrainians to stake out
a position -- closer ties with NATO but no ultimate membership --
that allows them to seek to boost ties with Moscow without giving up
continuing support from the West.
        Second, Ukraine's shift reflects the collapse of the CIS as an
organization relevant to the security needs of Eastern Europe. On the
same day that Russian foreign policy expert Sergei Karaganov
declared the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe is
"dead" because of its failures in Bosnia-Herzegovina, Kuchma took a
step toward demonstrating that the CIS is close to its grave. He did so
not by withdrawing from the organization as a whole but rather by
underscoring that Ukraine will give preference to bilateral ties with
Russia rather than multilateral arrangements with other former
Soviet republics. Moscow will hardly object to improved relations
with Kyiv -- indeed, Sergeev welcomed them -- but Kyiv is the
winner in this round because its stance undermines Russian
pretensions to domination over the entire territory of a country that
no longer exists.
        Third, Ukraine's shift reflects a normalization of relations
between Kyiv and Moscow. It also highlights a growing willingness
on the part of the Russians to view Ukraine as an independent
country and on the part of Ukrainians to see Russia as something
other than an enemy.
        By staking out a position outside of any bloc, Ukraine is
reaffirming its position as an important country within Eastern
Europe, one that will act on its own interests rather than at the
behest of any other country. And as ever more Russian officials
accept Ukraine's new status -- something NATO's Partnership for
Peace program has helped promote -- Ukrainians will find it easier to
accept Russia as a potential partner rather than the inevitable
enemy.
        Obviously, a single speech, even one as important as Kuchma's
on 28 August, does not guarantee that the geopolitics of the region
will develop without serious problems. But as an indication of
fundamental shifts, Kuchma's remarks are an important milepost on
the road to a better future for Ukrainians, for Russians, and for the
region in which they live.



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