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RFE/RL NEWSLINE

RFE/RL NEWSLINE Vol. 1, No. 125, Part II, 25 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

ECONOMIC NEWS from this week's annual meeting of the IMF and
World Bank is online at RFE/RL's Web site:
http://www.rferl.org/nca/special/imfmeeting/index.html

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Headlines, Part II

* OFFICIAL RESULTS CONFIRM SOLIDARITY ELECTION VICTORY

* PLAVSIC, KRAJISNIK AGREE WITH MILOSEVIC TO RESOLVE
DISPUTE

* FINAL RESULTS OF SERBIAN PARLIAMENTARY ELECTIONS

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EAST-CENTRAL EUROPE

OFFICIAL RESULTS CONFIRM SOLIDARITY ELECTION VICTORY. The
State Electoral Commission has released the official figures for the 21
September parliamentary elections, PAP reported on 25 September.
Solidarity Electoral Action (AWS) won 33.83 percent of the vote, the
Democratic Left Alliance (SLD) 27.13 percent, the Freedom Union
13.37 percent, the Peasant Party 7.31 percent, and the Movement for
Renovation of Poland 5.56 percent. No other party met the 5 percent
threshold for entry to the parliament. Turnout was 48 percent. The
AWS and the Freedom Union are currently holding initial talks on a
possible coalition to succeed the current SLD government.

SOLIDARITY ASKS OUTGOING GOVERNMENT TO DELAY ARMS DEAL.
AWS leader Marian Krzaklewski has called on the current
government to delay proceeding with an arms deal, PAP reported on
25 September. Warsaw had agreed to purchase arms from Israel, but
the U.S. lobbied hard for several American companies. Given the
AWS's victory in the parliamentary elections, Krzaklewski's appeal
suggests the issue is once again far from resolved.

UKRAINIAN PARLIAMENT APPROVES NEW ELECTION LAW.
Following months of controversy, the parliament has approved
legislation whereby half of its 450 seats will be filled by ballots cast
in single-member districts and the other half by voting for party
lists, Ukrainian media reported on 24 September. President Leonid
Kuchma has opposed party list voting, arguing it would strengthen
some of the most organized parties. His spokesman said, however,
that Kuchma will sign the new legislation.

ORTHODOX PATRIARCHS CALL FOR CHURCH UNITY IN UKRAINE.
Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholemew of Constantinople and Patriarch of
Moscow and All Russia Aleksii II said in Odessa on 24 September
that "separations and divisions in the Church result in extensive
damage." The two noted that "we must do everything possible to heal
these wounds on the Church's body as soon as possible," according to
ITAR-TASS. Observers say their comments are directed at the very
divided Orthodox Church in Ukraine. Several days earlier, Aleksii
made remarks that sparked a storm of protest from Ukrainian
Church leaders (see RFE/RL Newsline, 22 September 97). The two
patriarchs are in Odessa to participate in the international
symposium on "Religion, Science, and Environment."

ESTONIA, RUSSIA FAIL TO CONCLUDE BORDER TALKS. Estonian and
Russian delegations, meeting in Moscow on 23-24 September, failed
to conclude negotiations on defining the countries' common border,
ETA reported. This latest round of talks was intended to coordinate
maps and documents accompanying the final agreement. A
spokeswoman for the Estonian Foreign Ministry commented that the
meeting was not "entirely without results." She added it was "too
early" to predict how many further rounds of border talks will be
necessary. Estonian Ambassador to Moscow Mart Helme told BNS that
Russia is focusing on "time-consuming minor details" that are
hampering finalization of the agreement. A political agreement on a
border treaty was reached last November.

ESTONIA AMENDS IMMIGRATION LAW. The parliament has amended
the immigration law to increase the rights of temporary residence
permit-holders, ETA reported on 24 September. The amendments,
which were proposed by the government, seek to ensure that those
permit-holders enjoy rights similar to those granted to people with
permanent residency. Law-abiding foreigners who applied for
temporary residence permits before 12 July 1995 may apply for a
permanent resident permit beginning 12 July next year. The
amendments also eliminate quotas for the number of immigrants
from the EU, Norway, Iceland, and Switzerland. Restrictions on the
number of immigrants from other countries remain in force.

LATVIAN COALITION PARTIES PLEDGE STRICTER DISCIPLINE.
Leaders of the ruling coalition parties have signed an amended
cooperation agreement aimed at increasing discipline within the
coalition, Interfax reported on 24 September. Prime Minister Guntars
Krasts recently warned party leaders that if they did not agree to the
amendments, he would reduce the number of portfolios for parties
that failed to honor the accord. Under the amended agreement,
deputies from the coalition parties will not support opposition
demands for extraordinary parliamentary sessions or amendments to
the budget or tax code unless those demands concur with the
position of the governmental Cooperation Council. Deputies from
Latvia's Way and the Democratic Party Saimnieks have recently
supported several opposition demands.

CZECH SENATE APPROVES LAW ON AGRICULTURE. The Czech Senate
on 24 September approved a new agriculture law containing
measures to support farmers and protect the country's agricultural
markets. But the Senate returned to the lower house an amendment
to the trade law after inserting a clause regulating taxi services in
Prague. In addition, the Senate repealed a paragraph of the criminal
code whereby slandering the president carries a sentence of up to
two years in prison, CTK reported.

SLOVAK DIPLOMAT ACCUSES HUNGARY OF VIOLATING BILATERAL
TREATY. Jozef Sestak, state secretary at the Foreign Ministry, has
said that while Slovakia is interested in good relations with Hungary,
both sides must respect "certain principles". He told Slovakia's
independent news agency SITA on 24 September that Hungary is
violating two articles of the basic treaty between Bratislava and
Budapest. He noted that Article 21 says disputed issues should be
resolved through negotiation not through "internationalization" and
that Article 6 provides for the two countries to support each other in
Euro-Atlantic integration. He says Hungary violated that clause
during the recent meeting of the Central European Free Trade
Agreement at Protoroz, in Croatia.

HAGUE COURT RULES ON GABCIKOVO-NAGYMAROS DISPUTE. The
International Court of Justice in the Hague has ruled that Hungary
broke international law by abandoning a 1977 agreement with
Slovakia to build the Gabcikovo-Nagymaros system of dams and
hydroelectric power stations on the Danube River. But the court also
said that the former Czechoslovakia, was also wrong in pressing
ahead with the project and diverting the waters of the Danube from
Hungary into Slovakia. According to the court, Hungary was not
entitled to suspend and subsequently abandon in 1989 its part of the
work on the hydropower project, a court spokesman told reporters.
The court obligated the two countries to take all necessary measures
to ensure the implementation of the 1977 accord.

HUNGARIAN PREMIER'S "FLOATING" PRESS CONFERENCE. Speaking at
a traditional annual press conference on a boat on the Danube River,
Gyula Horn said on 24 September that he has not yet decided
whether to run for another term as premier. He said he disagreed
with the opposition's stance that progress in relations between
Hungary and neighboring countries is possible only if the conditions
of ethnic Hungarians living there improve. He said that if good
neighborly relations do not exist, the Hungarian government can do
nothing for Hungarians abroad. Also on 24 September, Horn told
representatives of the National Gypsy Minority Authority that he
favors increasing minority representation in the parliament,
provided they have sufficient electoral support. Horn said the
threshold for a seat representing a minority should be 5,000 votes.

AGREEMENT BETWEEN HUNGARIAN OPPOSITION PARTIES? Citing
"confidential sources," the daily "Magyar Hirlap" reported on 25
September that Viktor Orban, the leader of the Alliance of Young
Democrats (FIDESZ) and Sandor Lezsak, chairman of the Democratic
Forum, have reached an agreement on cooperation in the 1998
elections. The agreement reportedly stipulates that both formations
field candidates in 116 of the 176 constituencies. FIDESZ candidates
will run unopposed by the Democratic Forum in 40 constituencies,
while the Democratic Forum will have no FIDESZ competition in 20
electoral districts. The two leaders also agreed that in constituencies
contested by both parties, the candidate better placed in the first
round of the elections will be supported by both formations in the
second round.


SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE

PLAVSIC, KRAJISNIK AGREE WITH MILOSEVIC TO RESOLVE DISPUTE.
Yugoslav President SlobodanMilosevic, who is mediating the Bosnian
Serb power struggle, met with Bosnian Serb President Biljana Plavsic
and Momcilo Krajisnik, her hard-line opponent and the Bosnian Serb
member of Bosnia's tripartite presidency, in Belgrade on 24
September. They agreed to hold parliamentary elections in the
Bosnian Serb entity on 15 November under the supervision of the
Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe. Elections for
Plavsic's and Krajisnik's posts will be held on 7 December. They also
agreed on dividing air time on state television: one side will air its
views one day and the other the next day. Plavsic said the deal will
help bring a democratic resolution to their power struggle. Krajisnik
commented that the deal is a political compromise that preserves a
united Republika Srpska while "letting the people decide" whose
policies will prevail.

FINAL RESULTS OF SERBIAN PARLIAMENTARY ELECTIONS. In the 21
September elections to the parliament, Yugoslav President
Milosevic's leftist alliance won 110 mandates in the 250-seat
parliament. Vojislav Seselj's ultranationalist Serbian Radical Party
collected 81 mandates and Vuk Draskovic's Serbian Renewal
Movement 46. The Vojvojdina Coalition and the Union of Vojvojdina
Hungarians will each have four seats, the List for Sandzak three, and
the Presevo-Bujanovac Coalition and the Democratic Alternative one
each.

CONTACT GROUP EXPRESSES CONCERN ON KOSOVO... In a statement
issued during the UN General Assembly session on 24 September, the
foreign ministers of Russia, the U.S., Germany, France, Italy, and
Britain expressed serious concern about tensions in Kosovo. The six-
nation Contact Group urged authorities in Belgrade and Kosovo's
Albanian community to join a peaceful dialogue and create conditions
for Kosovar refugees to return home. The statement warned against
the use of violence to press political demands and urged all sides to
exercise maximum restraint. The six foreign ministers reiterated
their opposition to independence for Kosovo and instead called on
Belgrade to enhance Kosovo's status within the Yugoslav federation
by fully protecting the rights of the Albanian population.

...AGREES TO IMPOSE SANCTIONS ON BOSNIA. The Contact Group also
agreed to impose tougher sanctions against Bosnian ethnic factions
that fail to uphold the provisions of the Dayton Peace Accords. It
called on all ethnic groups to comply with the accords, saying those
blocking implementation will be subject to increasingly strong
measures. It condemned continuing misuse of the news media to
spread inflammatory messages and disinformation. It further
stressed the importance of installing the new municipal governments
recently elected and allowing the winners to take office.

NATO AGREES TO DELAY START OF WITHDRAWAL OF SFOR. NATO
ambassadors, meeting in Brussels on 24 September, postponed a
decision on when to start withdrawing the 35,000-strong NATO-led
Stabilization Force (SFOR). The withdrawal is due to be completed by
mid-1998. A decision on reducing SFOR troops is not expected before
a meeting of NATO foreign ministers in December.

BOSNIAN CROATS AGREE TO JOINT INVESTIGATION INTO MOSTAR
BOMBING. A spokesman for the international community's high
representative in Bosnia Carlos Westendorp said on 24 September
that Bosnian Croat leaders have agreed to conduct a joint
investigation with officials from the Muslim-Croat federation into the
18 September car bomb explosion that injured 30 people in the
divided city of Mostar. Bosnian President Alia Izetbegovic had
demanded a joint investigation.

CROATIAN FOREIGN MINISTER CRITICIZES WASHINGTON. Mate
Granic has said that U.S. pressure on Zagreb to accelerate
implementation of the peace process in eastern Slavonia is
"completely unnecessary and unjustified." Speaking in New York to
Croatian television on 24 September, Granic commented that
"everything can be resolved through dialogue, not through pressure."
Meanwhile, on his return to Ankara from Zagreb on 24 September,
President Suleyman Demirel told Turkish Television that during his
visit to Croatia, an agreement on the prevention of double taxation
and an agricultural protocol were signed. He also said a bilateral free
trade agreement will be signed shortly.

ROMANIAN PRESIDENT ON CORRUPTION. Emil Constantinescu told
journalists on 24 September that corruption has depleted the
country's national wealth. He said that although the government won
the elections in 1996, economic power is still largely in the hands of
people involved in illicit dealings. The former government of Nicolae
Vacaroiu condoned corruption and some of its members, including
deputy ministers, were personally involved in illegal dealing, he
added. Constantinescu spoke at length on illegal dealings in the
merchant fleet, the fertilizer industry, and petrol and refineries
import-export companies. He said the former government allowed
tens of thousands of tons of fuel to be smuggled to rump Yugoslavia,
RFE/RL's Bucharest bureau reported.

PRIVATIZATION DEALS IN ROMANIA. The State Ownership Fund
(FPS) has agreed to sell the South Korean Samsung company 51
percent of the shares in the steel producer Otelinox, an RFE/RL
correspondent in Bucharest reported on 25 September. The previous
day, FPS director Sorin Dimitriu told RFE/RL that a 51 percent stake
in Romcim, the country's largest cement producer, has been sold to
the French company Lafarge for $400 million. Lafarge pledged to
invest $200 million in Romcim over the next four years.

TRANSDNIESTRIAN LEADER ON RUSSIAN HELICOPTER INCIDENT. Igor
Smirnov on 24 September said the incident last week in which a
Russian helicopter was fired on by Transdniestrian soldiers (see
"RFE/RL Newsline," 22 September 1997) was caused by "drunk
soldiers" who "were guarding the harvest." Smirnov said the culprits
will be put on trial, "not for shooting at the helicopter but for the
unallowed use of weapons," Infotag reported.

PRO-PRESIDENTIAL POLITICAL BLOC FORMED IN MOLDOVA. The pro-
presidential Movement for a Democratic and Prosperous Moldova on
24 September joined forces with three other organizations to form
the Bloc for a Democratic and Prosperous Moldova, Infotag reported.
The three organizations are the Popular Democratic Party, the New
Forces movement, and the National Youth League. The bloc defines
itself as centrist.

BULGARIA'S ZHIVKOV HOLD PRESS CONFERENCE. Speaking to
journalists in Sofia six days after his release from house arrest, Todor
Zhivkov denied Bulgaria was involved in the 1981 assassination
attempt against Pope John Paul II. He also said the Bulgarian secret
services had not been involved in the 1978 assassination of
journalist Georgi Markov. Zhivkov is currently under investigation
for allegedly channeling millions of U.S. dollars to pro-communist
movements in Third World countries and for initiating the
compulsory assimilation of ethnic Turks in the 1980s. He argued that
the investigation should be halted, noting that the country's new
constitution strictly limits legal actions against past presidents,
RFE/RL's Sofia bureau reported on 24 September.

BULGARIAN VETERAN DIPLOMATS TO BE DISMISSED. Foreign
Ministry spokesman Radko Vlaikov on 24 September said the
ministry will dismiss veteran diplomats to make room for younger
staff who would better present the country's new foreign policy
objectives, Reuters reported. He said the measure did not represent
"political sackings" since it was part of the reform of the ministry,
which is to undergo a 10 percent cut in personnel.

BULGARIAN PREMIER INVITES CHERNOMYRDIN TO VISIT. Ivan
Kostov on 24 September invited Russian Prime Minister Viktor
Chernomyrdin to pay an official visit to Bulgaria, RFE/RL's Sofia
bureau reported. The message said the two countries are "strategic
partners" and that Bulgaria wants to seek to reach agreement on the
"remaining unsolved problems in bilateral trade and economic
relations." The invitation comes against the background of
differences between the two governments over the cost of Russian
natural gas deliveries to Bulgaria.


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