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RFE/RL NEWSLINE

RFE/RL NEWSLINE Vol. 1, No. 121, Part II, 19 September 1997



A daily report of developments in Eastern and Southeastern Europe,
Russia, the Caucasus and Central Asia prepared by the staff of Radio
Free Europe/Radio Liberty.

This is Part II, a compilation of news concerning Central, Eastern, and
Southeastern Europe.  Part I covers Russia,
Transcaucasia and Central Asia and is distributed simultaneously as a
second document.  Back issues of RFE/RL NewsLine and the OMRI
Daily Digest are online at RFE/RL's Web site:
http://www.rferl.org/newsline

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Headlines, Part II

* OSCE TO OPEN OFFICE IN BELARUS?

* BOSNIAN ELECTION RESULTS DELAYED

* ALBANIAN PARTY DEPUTY INJURED IN SHOOTING

End Note
ON THE EVE OF POLISH ELECTIONS

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EAST-CENTRAL EUROPE

OSCE TO OPEN OFFICE IN BELARUS? Belarus has agreed to resume
negotiations with the Organization for Security and Cooperation in
Europe on sending an OSCE mission to Minsk to promote democracy,
RFE/RL'S Vienna correspondent reported on 18 September. The
decision was announced after a meeting of the OSCE Permanent
Council attended by Belarusian Foreign Minister Ivan Antanovich. He
said his country will now allow a European mission to set up a local
office to monitor democratic and economic progress. OSCE Chairman
and Danish Foreign Minister Niels Helveg Petersen said later that no
date has been set for the mission to start work but talks will begin
soon on the details. The agreement on an OSCE mission is "an
important step forward in the efforts to promote democratic
development in Belarus," he added.

CRIMEAN OFFICIAL SHOT. Crimean Deputy Minister for Tourism
Dmitry Goldich was shot twice in the head by unidentified assailants
in Simferopol on 18 September, Reuters reported. The 26-year-old
Goldich remains in a coma. Interfax quoted investigators as saying
they suspect the attack was a contract hit. Crimean media have
recently reported on several scandals involving the privatization of
holiday resorts on the peninsula, which was once the favorite
vacation destination of the Soviet elite.

KUCHMA SAYS CIS IS FLAWED BUT "NECESSARY". Addressing Kazakh
journalists in Almaty on 18 September, Ukrainian President Leonid
Kuchma said the CIS's shortcomings include its focus on political,
rather than economic, problems and its attempts to unilaterally
resolve unspecified problems between member states. He said all CIS
member states share the blame for this state of affairs but that
Russia is the biggest culprit. He also stressed that Kyiv favors "more
active" bilateral relations between CIS members and rejects attempts
to transform the CIS into a supranational organization. He conceded,
at the same time, that the CIS facilitated the peaceful demise of the
USSR and is "necessary," despite all its faults. Kazakh President
Nursultan Nazarbaev has frequently expressed similar reservations
about the CIS.

UKRAINE CONSIDERS PEACEFUL USE OF STRATEGIC BOMBERS. An
unnamed official at the headquarters of the Ukrainian air force told
ITAR-TASS on 18 September that the strategic bombers inherited by
Ukraine after the collapse of the USSR may be used for peaceful
purposes. "They may come in handy when the International Ocean
Safety Service is formed," the official said. But he conceded that it
would be necessary to re-equip the aircraft for this purpose and that
Kyiv has no money to do so. Ukraine has 19 Tu-160 and 23 Tu-95MS
bombers based on airfields in Priluki, Chernigov Region, and in Uzina,
Kyiv Region. It had planned to use the bombers as payment for
Russian energy supplies. Russian Presidential press secretary Sergei
Yastrzhembskii, however, told journalists in Moscow on 16
September that Russia had no intention of purchasing the bombers.

GERMAN-DONATED MINE SWEEPERS ARRIVE IN TALLINN. Two mine
sweepers donated by Germany to the Estonian Navy arrived in
Tallinn on 18 September, BNS and ETA reported. At a welcoming
ceremony attended by high-ranking German and Estonian officials,
German Deputy Defense Minister Bernd Wilz said Bonn wanted to use
the "opportunity to take part in ensuring security and stability in
Europe, and we wish to offer that opportunity to Estonia as well." The
two vessels, built in the late 1960s, have been completely
overhauled, and their Estonian crews have received trained in
Germany.

LATVIAN TRANSPORT MINISTER SURVIVES NO-CONFIDENCE VOTE.
Vilis Kristopans has survived a vote of no confidence submitted by
opposition deputies, BNS reported on 18 September. The vote was 44
to 16 with five abstentions. The opposition had criticized Kristopans
for "unsatisfactory" public transportation policies and for alleged
violation of the anti-corruption law. Kristopans was one of several
ministers in the previous government whom the Prosecutor-
General's Office found to have violated anti-corruption legislation by
holding business posts. He retained his post in the government
formed by Guntars Krasts in July. In its 19 September issue, "Diena"
reported that Kristopans intends to prove his innocence in court,
according to RFE/RL's Latvian service.

LITHUANIAN PARLIAMENT SETS UP EUROPEAN AFFAIRS
COMMITTEE. Deputies on 19 September voted unanimously to
establish a European Affairs Committee, BNS reported. First deputy
parliamentary chairman Andrius Kubilius was appointed head of the
24-strong committee. The news agency commented that the decision
should help indicate that Lithuania is prepared for early negotiations
on EU membership.

POLISH SOLIDARITY MOVEMENT TO BECOME PARTY. Poland's
Solidarity-led alliance on 18 September announced plans to turn
itself into a Christian-democratic that will seek to push ahead with
market reforms. Marian Krzaklewski, the leader of the alliance, told
journalists in Warsaw that the parliamentary party will unite many
of the alliance's nearly 40 small rightist groups and those members
of the Solidarity trade union who want to turn to politics. The
alliance, named Solidarity Electoral Action (AWS), was formed last
year by the trade union that helped topple communist rule in 1989.
In opinion polls, the AWS is running neck and neck with the
postcommunist Democratic Left Alliance in the runup to the 21
September general elections (see also "End Note" below).

CZECH PREMIER ON NATO. Vaclav Klaus said in a lecture delivered to
an international conference in Zurich on the 51st anniversary of
former U.K. Prime Minister Winston Churchill's "European" speech
that "NATO amounts to the protection of a common idea and cultural
and ethical values--not an organized search for a common enemy--
and that is why the Czech Republic wants to belong to it." He argued
that "we must not allow the collapse of communism to be considered
the final victory of freedom and democracy and an "end to history,'
as is sometimes indicated. There still exist new dangers, new
conflicts, new threats, and they will unfortunately always exist."
Klaus added that the Czech Republic as well as other countries
invited to start NATO admission talks (Hungary and Poland) knew
that their entry into the alliance "would not be free of charge."

DEMONSTRATIONS IN BRATISLAVA AGAINST LE PEN. Several
hundred people took part in a demonstration in Bratislava on 18
September to protest French National Front leader Jean-Marie Le
Pen's visit to the Slovak capital, Slovak Radio reported. The
demonstration was held outside the offices of the Slovak National
Party (SNS), which invited Le Pen. The SNS is a member of the ruling
coalition of Prime Minister Vladimir Meciar. Meciar's spokeswoman
said the previous day that Le Pen was not invited by the government
and that Meciar has called on members of his cabinet not to meet
with him. Le Pen's party is accused by mainstream French politicians
of promoting racism, anti-Semitism, and xenophobia. But Le Pen's
security guards told journalists that the French politician met with
several government ministers on 18 September, including Education
Minister Eva Sladkovska, Defense Minister Jan Sitek, and deputy
parliamentary chairman Marian Andel.

SLOVAK PRESIDENT IN TURKEY. On his arrival in Ankara on 18
September, Michal Kovac sought Turkish support for his country's
bid to join NATO, Slovak news agencies reported. Turkey is a NATO
member, and Slovakia was not included in the list of countries slated
for the first wave of NATO expansion. Turkish President Suleyman
Demirel said there are several fields in which the two countries could
improve their bilateral cooperation. He said that Kovac's visit will
provide an impetus to improve ties. A senior Turkish diplomat told
the "Turkish Daily News" on 19 September that Turkey is interested
in acquiring "defense equipment" from Slovakia.

HUNGARIAN OPPOSITION PARTY APPEALS TO CONSTITUTIONAL
COURT. The Hungarian Democratic Forum on 18 September asked the
Constitutional Court to rule whether the law on referenda
contravenes the constitution, Hungarian media reported According to
that law, the government's proposed referendum on foreign
ownership of land takes precedence over the opposition's
referendum initiative, which has been supported by 282,000
signatures. Former Justice Minister Istvan Balsai, a member of the
forum's steering board, said his party considers the present
legislation to be in "disharmony" with both the electoral law and the
constitution. He accused the government coalition of ignoring the will
of those citizens who have signed in support of the opposition
referendum.

SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE

BOSNIAN ELECTION RESULTS DELAYED. David Foley, a spokesman for
the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, said on 19
September that the results of the 13-14 September Bosnian
municipal elections will not be announced, as scheduled, on 20-21
September. Foley said the delay was caused by the need to open a
second vote-counting center in Serb-held territory. He estimated that
it may be possible to begin announcing results "in the middle of next
week." The counting of votes was suspended temporarily in a suburb
of Sarajevo on 18 September because of Serbian complaints about
absentee voting.

SOLANA ON NATO'S ROLE IN BOSNIA. Speaking at a news conference
in Washington on 18 September, NATO Secretary-General Javier
Solana said the alliance must concentrate on implementing the
Bosnian peace accords now and must not be distracted by questions
about what will happen after the scheduled departure of NATO
troops next June, an RFE/RL correspondent in the U.S. capital
reported. Solana said NATO's Bosnia Stabilization Force (SFOR) will
not continue in its present form. But he stressed that the
international community must not abandon Bosnia.

CAR BOMB EXPLODES IN MOSTAR. Several dozen people were injured,
some seriously, when a car bomb exploded outside a police station in
the Croat-controlled western half of Mostar on 18 September. A
police official told Reuters the explosion was the worst in Mostar to
date.

UN CRITICIZES CROATIA. The UN Security Council on 18 September
expressed concern at the Croatian government's "lack of substantial
progress" toward creating conditions for the repatriation of Serbian
and other refugees to Eastern Slavonia and the devolution of
executive authority to the region. The Security Council called on
Zagreb to remove administrative and legal obstacles to repatriation
and take measures to integrate repatriates into economic and social
life. The statement also called on Croatia "to cooperate fully" with the
international tribunal investigating war crimes in former Yugoslavia.

ALBANIAN PARTY DEPUTY INJURED IN SHOOTING. Controversial
Democratic Party deputy Azem Hajdari was hospitalized with serious
injuries on 18 September after being shot several times by Socialist
deputy Gafur Mazreku during an argument inside the parliament
building. Hajdari and Mazreku had quarreled and engaged in a fist
fight during a 16 September parliamentary debate on value-added
tax but apparently had since been reconciled. President Rexhep
Meidani denounced the shooting as a "primitive" incident that had
"destroyed the climate of peace and tolerance we are trying to build,"
Reuters reported. Prime Minister Fatos Nano argued it was criminal
and not political in nature. Former President and Socialist Party
leader Sali Berisha, however, termed the shooting an attempted
political killing by Meidani. Some 2,000 Democratic Party supporters
convened a rally in central Tirana to protest the shooting. A U.S.
government spokesman condemned the incident and endorsed
Meidani's appeal for calm.

BLAST DESTROYS SOCIALIST PARTY HEADQUARTERS. Just hours after
the shooting of Hajdari, the Socialist Party headquarters in the
northern city of Shkodra was destroyed by an explosion. No one was
injured in the blast. Police officials said they suspected a link
between the two incidents. Shkodra is a stronghold of the opposition
Democratic Party.

ROMANIAN PARLIAMENTARY CHAIRMAN IN MOSCOW. Ion
Diaconescu, the chairman of the Chamber of Deputies, met with
Russian Foreign Minister Yevgenii Primakov, State Duma Chairman
Gennadii Seleznev, and the Duma's Foreign Affairs Committee
Chairman Vladimir Lukin in Moscow on 18 September, Radio
Bucharest and Mediafax reported. Primakov said there are "good
grounds" to believe the pending basic treaty between the two
countries could be signed next year if both "make the last necessary
efforts." He also expressed "surprise" at Romania's "lack of interest"
in the Russian market, saying bilateral trade could and should be
improved. During his meetings with Seleznev and Lukin, Diaconescu
raised the issue of the Romanian state treasure unreturned since
World War One as well as the situation in the Republic of Moldova.
Romanian media reported that the positions of the two sides differed
significantly over those issues.

MOLDOVA, RUSSIA AGREE ON GAS SUPPLIES. During a two-day visit
to Moscow, Moldovan Deputy Prime Minister Valeriu Bulgari reached
an agreement with his Russian hosts on gas deliveries to Moldova
during the coming fall and winter, RFE/RL's Chisinau bureau reported
on 18 September. A communique issued by the Moldovan embassy
in Moscow does not specify the quantities of gas to be delivered. As
of 1 September, Moldova owed Russia's Gazprom company $238.7
million, while the breakaway Transdniester region owed $241.3
million. Moldova pledged to pay $68 million of its debt for supplies
delivered in 1997. The embassy said that Bulgari also met with
Russian Deputy Prime Minister Valerii Serov to discuss, among other
things, boosting economic cooperation between the two countries.

MOLDOVAN POLICE WITHOUT TELEPHONE LINES. The lines of several
Moldovan police stations in Chisinau have been cut because the
Interior Ministry has not paid its debts to the Ministry of
Telecommunications for the use of the phones, an RFE/RL
correspondent in Chisinau reported on 18 September. The phones of
about one-third of the stations in the Moldovan capital were
disconnected several days ago. Interior Minister Mihai Plamadeala
said the police's work is seriously affected. He added that the
Ministry of Finance, rather than the Ministry of Telecommunications,
is to be blamed for the situation.

ZHIVKOV RELEASED FROM HOUSE ARREST. Former Bulgarian
communist leader Todor Zhivkov was released from house arrest on
18 September, BTA reported. A military prosecutor said Zhivkov will
have to report daily to the local police and notify them when
traveling elsewhere in Bulgaria. He will not be allowed to leave the
country. The 86-year-old Zhivkov is under investigation for
channeling funds to procommunist groups in the Third World and for
forcing Bulgarians of Turkish origin to change their names in 1984-
1985. In September 1992, Zhivkov was sentenced to seven years in
prison after being found guilty of embezzling public funds. His
sentence was overturned by the Supreme Court in February 1996,
however. The release from house arrest follows a recent amendment
to the Penal Code stipulating that a defendant cannot be held in any
kind of detention for more than two years without trial.

END NOTE

ON THE EVE OF POLISH ELECTIONS

by Jan de Weydenthal

        Poles will cast their ballots on 21 September in a parliamentary
election that is likely to prove a political watershed.
        The contest involves two large electoral alliances, the post-
communist Democratic Left Alliance (SLD) and the anti-communist
Solidarity Electoral Action (AWS). Several smaller parties are also
taking part in the vote, the most prominent being the centrist
Freedom Union, the non-communist leftist Labor Union, the Peasant
Party, the nationalist Movement for the Renovation of Poland, and
the newly formed Party of Pensioners and Retirees.
        There is a 5 percent threshold for entry into the parliament. At
stake are 460 seats in the Sejm (the lower chamber) and 100 seats in
the Senate. There are more than 6,600 candidates running for the
Sejm and 519 for the Senate.
        The electoral campaign has been relatively peaceful, as most
groups have basically similar views on several important issues.
There is also general agreement that Poland should make major
efforts to join such Western institutions as the EU and NATO and that
the country should move more resolutely toward market economy.
Some parties, however, favor a more gradual transition to the
market, while others are pressing for a speedy resolution to such
issues as privatization of state assets and modernization of
enterprises.
        At the same time, there is little doubt about the major
differences between the contenders. Those differences are largely
over two issues: the Roman Catholic Church, its mission, and its
teachings; and past political developments, in particular the
communist experience.
        The right-wing AWS--an umbrella group of some 30 small
nationalist and Christian parties, led by the increasingly populist
Solidarity labor union--has closely identified with the Church. Its
leaders have consistently supported views expressed by Church
officials, particularly on the politically explosive issue of abortion.
Moreover, the AWS also has received the unequivocal and public
support of the Church hierarchy in the run-up to the elections. The
Peasant Party and the Movement for the Renovation of Poland have
also identified with the Church.
        The Freedom Union, for its part, has expressed some
reservations about the Church's teachings. Many of its leaders and
activists have also supported the liberalization of abortion
regulations. Meanwhile, the SLD and the Labor Union have insisted
on the separation of Church and state, opting for the primacy of lay
institutions in the judiciary and the executive.
        More important and of greater political significance is the
division between those groups that have a communist past and those
that have always been anti-communist.
        The former communists can be found among a variety of
groups, including regional and trade unionists, state bureaucrats, and
newly rich entrepreneurs. During four years of government
dominated by the post-Communists, most posts in the administration,
the judiciary, the armed forces and the security services have been
filled by the followers of the SLD and its allies. Likewise, the SLD-led
government has granted its supporters licenses for television
networks and provided them with opportunities to profit from the
privatization of state companies.
        But such practices have only reinforced longstanding anti-
communist tendencies among large sectors of the population and
have turned the country's communist past into a major election issue.
        Recent opinion polls show the SLD and the AWS running neck
and neck, with the former Communists having a slight edge (32
percent, compared with 29 percent for the AWS). They are followed
by the Freedom Union (about 12 percent), the Movement for the
Renovation of Poland the Peasant Party (7-9 percent), the Labor
Union (5 percent), and the Retirees (also 5 percent). If those
percentages do not change, Poland's new parliament will be
hopelessly divided, making the formation of a stable government
exceedingly difficult.

The author is a senior RFE/RL correspondent.







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