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RFE/RL NEWSLINE

RFE/RL NEWSLINE Vol. 1, No. 113, Part II, 9 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

*BELARUS PLANS TO SIGN CHARTER WITH NATO


*NATO THWARTS BOSNIAN SERB COUP ATTEMPT


*PLAVSIC'S POLICE SEAL OFF HARD-LINERS' HOTEL

End Note
"EASTERN EUROPE NO LONGER EXISTS"

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EAST-CENTRAL EUROPE

BELARUS PLANS TO SIGN CHARTER WITH NATO. Belarusian Foreign
Minister Ivan Antanovich told journalists on 8 September that
Belarus intends to sign a charter with NATO, despite Minsk's negative
stance toward the eastward expansion of the alliance. Antanovich
said that the document will be similar to the cooperation charters
that Russia and Ukraine concluded with NATO earlier this year.
According to Antanovich, the charter provides NATO security
guarantees for Belarus. He said Belarus will take into account its
relations with the alliance when it plans its defense policy. The
charter will be discussed during a visit to Minsk by NATO Secretary-
General Javier Solana scheduled for 23-24 October.

NUCLEAR SAFETY CONFERENCE IN UKRAINE. An international
conference on nuclear safety and security began in Odessa on 8
September, ITAR-TASS reported. Taking part in the meeting are
representatives of several large Western firms, five Ukrainian
nuclear plants, the Energoatom company, and Ukrainian government
officials. Up to 48 percent of Ukraine's electricity is produced by
nuclear plants. Because the nuclear industry suffers from a lack of
funds, some facilities are unable to maintain safety standards and to
replace outdated equipment. Among other things, the conference will
discuss prospects for international cooperation in nuclear safety.

NEW PROBE INTO "ESTONIA" DISASTER. The Swedish government is
to launch another investigation into the sinking of the "Estonia"
passenger ferry in 1994, dpa and ETA reported. A new committee
has been formed whose task will also be to decide whether the
wreck should be raised from the sea bed. The international
committee investigating the cause of the disaster has been sharply
criticized for its slow progress and for the repeated delays in issuing
its final report, which is expected to blame the faulty construction of
the ferry for the sinking.

NATO-LED MANEUVERS IN LATVIA. Some 300 troops from 14
nations, including the U.S, are taking part in peacekeeping exercises
in Latvia. The exercises--Cooperative Best Effort '97--are part of
NATO's Partnership for Peace program. A naval search and rescue
exercise is also under way in the Baltic Sea between Latvia and
Sweden, while a mine-sweeping exercise will continue until 16
September in the Gulf of Riga.

EU REASSURES LITHUANIA OVER ENLARGEMENT PLANS. Foreign
Minister Jacques Poos of Luxembourg, whose country holds the
rotating EU presidency, assured visiting Lithuanian Foreign Minister
Algirdas Saudargas that the EU process of enlargement is
"continuous," Reuters reported on 8 September. Poos noted that the
EU is likely to start entry negotiations with six countries in 1998 but
added that it could still "add one or two countries which by that time
have fulfilled [membership] criteria." Following the European
Commission's decision on which countries to recommend for
membership talks, Lithuania complained that the commission's
report on its candidacy was not objective and contained outdated
figures. Saudargas said on 8 September that "we would like to know
more precisely what we must do in specified areas to be invited for
negotiations."

MULTINATIONAL PEACEKEEPING EXERCISES START IN POLAND. Two
multi-national peacekeeping exercises began at Polish military
training sites on 8 September. Some 350 soldiers from Poland, the
U.S., Denmark, Finland, Hungary, and Ukraine are participating in a
peacekeeping exercise, called Brave Eagle, using computers to help
train a multinational brigade. In the Eagle's Talon exercise, Polish and
U.S. airmen are carrying out peacekeeping maneuvers during
simulated ethnic conflict. Both exercises will last until 9 September.

CZECHS TO NEGOTIATE WITH VATICAN OVER SEIZED CHURCH
PROPERTY. Prime Minister Vaclav Klaus on 8 September told
journalists he has asked Foreign Minister Josef Zieleniec to start talks
with the Vatican over the return of Roman Catholic Church property
confiscated during the Stalinist era. The issue has clouded relations
between Prague and the Vatican since the fall of the communist
regime. The decision comes four months after Pope John Paul II's
visit to the Czech Republic, during which he said the Church is ready
to discuss the issue. The pontiff had suggested the creation of a joint
committee to deal with the matter and to be composed of state and
Church representatives, including from the Vatican. In the past, Klaus
had rejected all "intrusion" by the Vatican in dealings between the
Czech Catholic Church and the state.

SLOVAK RULING PARTY WANTS EARLY PARLIAMENTARY
ELECTIONS. Prime Minister Vladimir Meciar's Movement for a
Democratic Slovakia (HZDS) on 8 September submitted to the
parliament a draft constitutional law whereby legislative elections
would be held on 5-6 June 1998, Slovak Radio reported. The vote is
currently scheduled to take place in fall 1998. The HZDS argues that
holding the elections in the fall would shorten the gap between them
and local elections to a mere seven weeks. A new president is also to
be elected in 1998. The five-year term of incumbent President
Michal Kovac expires on 2 March 1998. Meciar has proposed holding
the presidential ballot in December 1997.

SLOVAK COALITION PARTIES SUPPORT "MINORITY EXCHANGE" WITH
HUNGARY. Leaders of two junior coalition parties--the Slovak
National Party (SNS) and the Slovak Workers' Party--told journalists
on 8 September that their formations do not reject the idea of a
"voluntary exchange of minorities between Slovakia and Hungary."
Slovak Premier Meciar proposed such an exchange at a meeting with
his Hungarian counterpart, Gyula Horn, in mid-August. SNS chairman
Jan Slota said the departure of "discontented people" to Hungary was
a "possible and constructive solution." Also on 8 September, ethnic
Hungarian minority leaders called on Meciar to resign in connection
with his proposal. In an open letter, the chairmen of three
parliamentary Hungarian minority parties said that Meciar's proposal
coincides with the 50th anniversary of the postwar "resettlement
and deportation" of the German and Hungarian populations.

HUNGARY MAY POSTPONE NATO REFERENDUM. Prime Minister Horn
said on 8 September-- the first day of the parliament's fall session--
that the government may postpone the referendum on NATO
membership, currently scheduled for 16 November, Hungarian media
reported. Opposition members of a parliamentary committee recently
refused to give priority attention to the referendum. It therefore
cannot be held according to schedule, Horn said. He added that the
vote, which will also include a question on foreign ownership of land,
is likely to take place on 23 or 30 November

SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE

NATO THWARTS BOSNIAN SERB COUP ATTEMPT. SFOR troops
prevented over 100 buses carrying supporters of Bosnian Serb hard-
line leader Radovan Karadzic from entering Banja Luka on 8
September. NATO spokesmen told CNN the next day that the troops
sealed off the town to prevent a coup against Republika Srpska
President Biljana Plavsic, who has her headquarters there. The
spokesmen added that some of Karadzic's supporters had previously
entered Banja Luka and sought to take control of police headquarters
and other strategic buildings. Coup organizers had paid $130 each to
the people on the buses, some of whom threw stones at
peacekeepers. The buses returned to eastern Bosnia on 9 September.

PLAVSIC'S POLICE SEAL OFF HARD-LINERS' HOTEL. Plavsic's police on
9 September surrounded the hotel in Banja Luka where Karadzic's
chief supporters had spent the night. Momcilo Krajisnik, who is the
Serbian member of the Bosnian joint presidency, and Prime Minister
Gojko Klickovic, are heading the group from Pale. Police said they are
looking for illegal weapons and have towed away some cars
belonging to Krajisnik and his party as part of their search, an
RFE/RL correspondent reported from Banja Luka. Police added that
they have arrested 13 special police from Pale for possessing illegal
weapons. An adviser to Krajisnik said he and the others in the
delegation are hostages. CNN reported that the situation is calm.
Serbian Orthodox Patriarch Pavle attempted to mediate between
Krajisnik and Plavsic, but that meeting was inconclusive (see "RFE/RL
Newsline," 8 September 1997).

NATO COMMANDER DEMANDS BOSNIAN SERB TV HONOR AGREEMENT.
SFOR commander Gen. Eric Shinseki said on 8 September that the
hard-liners' TV Pale must broadcast materials supplied by SFOR and
by Carlos Westendorp, the international community's chief
representative in Bosnia, an RFE/RL correspondent reported from
Pale. Shinseki and Krajisnik had earlier signed an agreement,
according to which SFOR returned a transmitter near Bijeljina to TV
Pale and Pale agreed to tone down its anti-NATO broadcasts and to
broadcast materials supplied by NATO and Westendorp (see "RFE/RL
Newsline, 3 September 1997). TV Pale announced on 8 September,
however, that it will not air the foreigners' programs or submit to
what it called international censorship.

BOSNIAN CROATS CHARGE BIAS IN UPCOMING VOTE. Top ethnic
Croatian leaders from Bosnia and Herzegovina said in Sarajevo on 8
September that they doubt the local elections slated for 13-14
September can be free or fair. Kresimir Zubak, the Croatian member
of the Bosnian joint presidency, said that Croats, including some of
those living abroad, have been denied their right to vote in large
parts of Bosnia. Zubak added that "terrorist acts" have been
committed against Croats to prevent them from participating in the
political process, but he did not name specific incidents or say who
was involved. Zubak charged, however, that the Organization for
Security and Cooperation in Europe, which is supervising the
elections, has discriminated against Croats. Meanwhile in Zagreb,
representatives of the small Croatian Christian Democratic Union of
Bosnia-Herzegovina said that Zubak and his colleagues have failed to
solve the refugee problem and should make way for new leaders and
policies.

CROATIA LAUNCHES MAJOR HIGHWAY PROJECT. Transport Minister
Zeljko Luzavec said on 8 September that the government will give
top priority to finishing a highway linking Rijeka to Zagreb and the
Hungarian border by the year 2000, an RFE/RL correspondent
reported from Zagreb. Observers noted that highway construction
and other infrastructure projects are of central political and economic
importance both to Croatia and to neighboring Slovenia. Meanwhile
in Ljubljana, a spokesman for the Slovenian People's Party
announced that the party will run parliamentary speaker Janez
Podobnik in the presidential elections expected later this year, the
"Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung" reported on 8 September. Podobnik
is the first prominent politician to enter the race against incumbent
President Milan Kucan, whom most observers expect to be easily
reelected.

KOSOVARS, OPPOSITION ACCUSE SERBIAN POLICE. The Kosovo Center
for the Defense of Human Rights demanded in Pristina on 8
September that the Serbian police explain how three young men
were killed recently in the province. The police said the three died in
a traffic accident, but the center charged that at least one of the
men's bodies had gunshot wounds. In Pirot, police arrested several
hundred supporters of the Democratic Party who were
demonstrating against the candidacy of Zoran Lilic for the Serbian
presidency, an RFE/RL correspondent reported from Belgrade.
Spokesmen for the Democratic Party said the police had no business
arresting the demonstrators, who had booed Lilic, a close associate of
Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic.

ALBANIAN POLITICIAN ENDS HUNGER STRIKE. Former parliamentary
speaker Pjeter Arbnori ended his 20-day hunger strike for balanced
television reporting on 8 September after his Democratic Party and
the governing Socialists reached a deal on allotting air time on
television newscasts. The two largest parties agreed that air time will
be granted proportionally on the basis of the number of votes a
party received in the 29 June election. Former President Sali Berisha
called the pact "a victory for freedom." It is unclear whether the
smaller parties will accept the deal, which parliament must still
approve.

CHINA, ROMANIA TO EXPAND TIES. Meeting in Beijing on 8
September, Romanian President Emil Constantinescu and his Chinese
counterpart, Jiang Zemin, signed agreements on expanded trade and
"intensified political dialogue," RFE/RL's Romanian service reported.
The signing took place on the first day of Constantinescu's five-day
visit to China. Constantinescu is scheduled to meet with Chinese
Prime Minister Li Peng on 9 September. The two leaders are
expected to discuss a draft contract on the sale of some 50,000
Romanian-built Dacia cars to China. Constantinescu also plans to visit
Shanghai on 10 September and the economic zone of Zhuhai, in
southern China, the next day. He is scheduled to return to Bucharest
after visiting Hong Kong.

ROMANIAN PROSECUTOR'S OFFICE REORGANIZED. The Prosecutor-
General's Office has been reorganized as part of the government's
anti-corruption drive, state television reported on 8 September. A
new service for special enquiries has been established. President
Emil Constantinescu has pledged to push forward with the campaign
against corruption on his return from China within the next few days.
Meanwhile, RFE/RL's Romanian service reported that leaders of the
ruling parties have asked why they were not informed in advance of
state police chief Pavel Abraham's firing. The Interior Ministry on 6
September had accused Abraham of "lack of interest" and a poor
record in the fight against crime. Romanian daily newspapers
speculate that the sacking was connected to preferential loans
Abraham allegedly received from the state-owned foreign trade
bank. That bank is currently undergoing a corruption investigation.

MORE PRIVATIZATION DELAYS IN BULGARIA. Mladen Georgiev, head
of the government's structural reform program, said he expects
amendments to the privatization law to be implemented in February
or March 1998, the Sofia dailies "Kontinent" and "Trud" reported on 9
September. He predicted the changes would be approved by the end
of 1997, noting they are needed because privatization is not moving
forward as quickly as the government expected. Georgiev also said
that three privatization methods are being considered: a second wave
of voucher coupon mass privatization, the sale of firms on a case-by-
case basis, or holding tenders for packages of 10 to 20 companies.
Alexander Bozhkov, deputy prime minister in charge of industry,
said on 8 September that Prime Minister Ivan Kostov will receive a
proposal for a new privatization strategy by the end of September.
Bozhkov recently told RFE/RL's Sofia bureau that privatization is
being delayed by state managers who are trying to retain control of
their firms.

END NOTE

"EASTERN EUROPE NO LONGER EXISTS"

by Jeremy Bransten and Jolyon Naegele

        Timothy Garton Ash, British historian and expert on Central
Europe, says it is quite clear that Eastern Europe no longer exists. He
made the comment in Prague during the recent Forum 2000
conference on the state of the world at the turn of the millennium.
As Garton Ash put it, today there is east-central Europe, southeastern
Europe, and several other Europes, and their sets of problems are
quite different.
        Garton Ash, a professor at Oxford University, is the author of
books on Poland's Solidarity trade union movement, the Czech velvet
revolution, and German unification. His latest work recounts how he
read his East German secret police (Stasi) file.
        Garton Ash notes that he was among those who in the 1980s
popularized the notion of Central Europe. "We meant it of course in
contra-distinction to the Soviet Eastern Europe." But he says that
what has happened since 1989 is that the idea of "Central Europe"
has more or less collapsed. In its stead, attempts have been made to
point to a new division between Orthodox and Roman Catholic
Europe. But this distinction, too, is a dubious one, according to Garton
Ash.
        He also notes that Slovakia, albeit nominally a Roman Catholic
nation, will not be among the former Communist states of Central
Europe joining NATO in 1999 and that its prospects for joining the EU
are quite remote. He says that the three nations that have been
invited to join NATO--the Czech Republic, Hungary, and Poland--are
only a part of what is usually considered Roman Catholic Central
Europe.
        Garton Ash says Slovakia has shown many predictions about
the post-Communist world to be dramatically wrong: "Slovakia could
have been in NATO in 1999; Slovakia blew it." In his view, Slovakia
failed because of politics, and the quality of post-Communist politics
in Poland, Hungary and the Czech Republic, as opposed to post-
Communist politics elsewhere, have made the crucial difference.
        Garton Ash believes that many Western politicians are
convinced that NATO can admit Poland, Hungary, and the Czech
Republic and then stop its expansion for a long time. But he says he
is convinced this view is not realistic. There is a logic that leads from
one expansion to the next, and the first waves of NATO and EU
expansion to the East are only the beginning of a very long process,
he stresses.
        Asked whether Czech President Vaclav Havel, one of the
organizers of Forum 2000, should consider retiring from politics
when his current term expires early next year, Garton Ash
responded that while change is always a healthy thing, Havel had a
clear choice whether to remain in politics five years ago, when
Czechoslovakia ceased to exist. At that time, he said, Havel decided to
lead the new Czech Republic rather than go back to being a "great
political and moral intellectual authority."
         But, Garton Ash says, once Havel made the choice to be
president of the Czech Republic, with considerably diminished
powers, it is consistent and right that he should run again. He points
out that if re-elected, Havel will be able to oversee the completion of
his country's return to Europe--that is, the Czech Republic's entry
into NATO and the EU. (Havel announced two months ago he would
be willing to run again but recently hinted he might not do so after
all.)
        Garton Ash said Europe is currently in what he characterized as
a "period of disorder and reformation." He added that such periods
have traditionally been succeeded by periods of order. But, he
remarked, it remains to be seen whether the coming period of order
will be a liberal order or a hegemonic order. All postcommunist
countries have certain features in common, he says. These include
privatization by the nomenklatura, a kind of predatory capitalism,
and a scale of corruption rarely encountered in Western Europe. But
there are also growing differences among the former communist
countries, he notes.
         Garton Ash says that, at the same time, several Western
models of capitalism are currently being questioned-most notably,
the West German model of a market economy. The West in general,
he adds, faces the huge challenge of structural, large-scale
unemployment, whose outcome is unpredictable: "If we do not know
what kind of capitalism is emerging out of the crisis in the West, I do
not quite know how we can predict what will come in the East."

The authors are RFE/RL news editors. Garton Ash's remarks are
taken from an interview with RFE/RL and from his lecture at Forum
2000.


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               Copyright (c) 1997 RFE/RL, Inc.
                     All rights reserved.
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