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RFE/RL NEWSLINE

RFE/RL NEWSLINE Vol. 1, No. 140, Part II, 16 October 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

*CRIMEAN PARLIAMENT MAKES RUSSIAN OFFICIAL LANGUAGE


*U.S. PLEDGES AID TO PLAVSIC


*MONTENEGRIN POLICE ARREST ALLEGED SERBIAN AGENTS


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EAST-CENTRAL EUROPE

CRIMEAN PARLIAMENT MAKES RUSSIAN OFFICIAL LANGUAGE.
Crimean lawmakers on 15 October voted to make Russian, rather
than Ukrainian, the official language of the region and to have the
clocks there conform to Moscow rather than Kyiv time, Interfax
reported. The vote was 56 to 4 in favor of the language change; most
of the other deputies, who represent the Crimean Tatars, abstained.
The regional body took the step on the basis of a provision in the
local constitution allowing the Crimean parliament to make Russian
the official language until more people there have learned Ukrainian.
But Kyiv has not approved the peninsula's constitution. This latest
action by the Crimean legislature, which is dominated by ethnic
Russians, sets the stage for a new confrontation between the region
and the Ukrainian central authorities.

GROWING DISCORD BETWEEN UKRAINIAN PRESIDENT, PARLIAMENT.
Leonid Kuchma and the parliament each took steps on 15 October
that are certain to anger the other. Kuchma allowed the deadline for
signing or vetoing the new election law to pass without doing either,
Ukrainian media reported. His aides have said he will ultimately sign
the bill, which lays down the regulations for the spring 1998
elections, but his failure to sign has already outraged many
legislators. Meanwhile, the parliament voted to increase the
minimum wage and pension so they will be above the poverty level,
Interfax-Ukraine reported on 16 October. Government spokesmen
said the action will bust the already fragile state budget.

BELARUSIAN PARLIAMENT URGED NOT TO PASS MEDIA LAW. The
Brussels-based International Federation of Journalists issued a
statement on 15 October urging the Belarusian parliament to
seriously modify a media bill that would allow the government of
President Alyaksandr Lukashenka to ban the importation of foreign
publications and to jam foreign broadcasts. Because most opposition
newspapers are printed abroad and because the most important
independent radio and television stations broadcasting into Belarus
are also foreign, such a bill would give Minsk a dangerous media
monopoly, the IFJ said.

BALTIC-U.S. CHARTER NOT YET FINALIZED. Latvian Ambassador to
the U.S. Ojars Kalnins told RFE/RL on 15 October that the Baltic-U.S.
charter is essentially complete and that only a few "fine" points
remain to be resolved. Kalnins was speaking after two days of talks
at the State Department in Washington between U.S., Estonian,
Latvian, and Lithuanian senior diplomats. He said there are no
obstacles to the signing of the charter by the presidents of the four
countries, expected to take place in early December. Lithuanian
Deputy Foreign Minister Albinas Januska was somewhat less upbeat,
saying that small differences between the Baltic States have blocked
the conclusion of the charter. He told BNS that the differences are not
big, rather over "issues of tactics." The charter is a non-binding
document that U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright described
earlier this year as an "umbrella that allows us to cooperate on the
basis of shared values and goals."

LITHUANIAN GOVERNMENT APPROVES 1998 DRAFT BUDGET. The
cabinet on 15 October approved the 1998 draft budget, BNS reported.
Revenues are set at 6.886 billion litas ($1.72 billion) and
expenditures at 7.581 billion litas ($1.895 billion). This provides for a
budget deficit of 695 million litas or 1.6 percent of gross domestic
product, compared with 697.9 million litas or 1.9 percent of GDP
planned for 1997. It is estimated that next year GDP will grow by 7
percent and that annual inflation will not exceed 6 percent. The draft
will be submitted to the parliament for discussion on 17 October.
Meanwhile in Moscow, Lithuanian and Russian delegations are
reportedly putting the final touches to the bilateral border treaty.

SUPPORT FOR BUZEK TO HEAD NEW POLISH GOVERNMENT. The
Freedom Union has said it will support Jerzy Busek, a longtime
Solidarity activist, as the country's next prime minister, Polish media
reported. Solidarity Electoral Action named Busek as its candidate for
the premiership on 15 October. President Aleksandr Kwasniewski is
reported to have agreed to formally nominate Busek on 17 October,
while the Roman Catholic Church has said it backs Busek, despite the
fact he is a Protestant in overwhelmingly Catholic Poland. Busek was
widely quoted by Polish media on 15 October as saying he will focus
on improving the social protection of Polish citizens, health care, and
pensions. Meanwhile, Freedom Union leaders have said more talks
are needed before a full government team can be announced.

HUNGARIAN GOVERNMENT CONSIDERS FORGOING NATO
REFERENDUM. Prime Minister Gyula Horn on 15 October said if it is
impossible to hold the NATO accession referendum on 16 November,
the cabinet will decide on joining the organization without such a
vote, Hungarian media reported. In a telephone conversation with
NATO Secretary-General Javier Solana, Horn stressed that the
parliamentary dispute over the referendum is not directed against
accession. Solana said he considers the matter a domestic political
issue. During his recent visit to Prague, President Arpad Goncz said
Hungary's NATO accession must have priority over all other issues,
since the "country's development for centuries" is at stake.

CHAIRMAN OF HUNGARIAN PEOPLE'S PARTY RESIGNS. Ivan Szabo
announced on 15 October that owing to conflicts within the
opposition Hungarian Democratic People's Party, he is resigning as its
chairman and parliamentary faction leader, Hungarian media
reported. He pointed to the fact that although the party's caucus had
agreed not to vote on the issue of the NATO referendum, only six
members abided by that agreement. Szabo will remain faction leader
until 30 October, while deputy chairman Gyorgy Rasko is now acting
head of the party.

SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE

U.S. PLEDGES AID TO PLAVSIC. Ambassador to Bosnia Richard
Kauzlarich and Republika Srpska President Biljana Plavsic signed an
agreement in Banja Luka on 15 October that makes $1 million
available for restoring roads, railroads, and houses on Bosnian Serb
territory. Kauzlarich said work will begin immediately on rebuilding
a major bridge in Banja Luka, which, he added, is evidence of
Washington's willingness to help Bosnian Serbs who respect the
Dayton agreements. Meanwhile, Plavsic told Banja Luka Television
that her recent electoral agreement with her rival Momcilo Krajisnik
covered only parliamentary elections and that a presidential vote
was "not mentioned" (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 14 October 1997).
Krajisnik told Pale media on 13 October that elections will take place
later this year for the Republika Srpska presidency and for the
Serbian seat on the Bosnian joint presidency.

UN POLICE SAY KARADZIC HAS ILLEGAL BODYGUARD. A UN police
spokesman said in Sarajevo on 15 October that a special police
formation guards the home of indicted war criminal Radovan
Karadzic in Pale. The spokesman added that the heavily armed police
formation is illegal under the Dayton agreements. Meanwhile in
Prague, U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for Human Rights John
Shattuck told RFE/RL that indicted war criminals "should not have a
good night's sleep until they are in The Hague," where the
International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia is based.
Shattuck added that it is "very likely" that Karadzic will be arrested
soon and sent to the Dutch city for trial. And in Washington, CBS
Television charged that a prominent indicted Bosnian Serb war
criminal is living openly in Foca, where he committed his alleged
crimes, and that NATO troops present there are unwilling to arrest
him.

HAGUE COURT SUBPOENAS BOSNIAN WITNESSES. The Hague-based
tribunal announced on 15 October that it has issued a subpoena
demanding that six witnesses living on Bosnian government-
controlled territory appear next week to testify in the case of three
Muslims and a Croat. The four are charged with having committed
atrocities against Serbs in 1992 at the Celebici prison camp. Only one
of the witnesses, General Jovan Divjak, has agreed to testify, RFE/RL
reported on 16 October. Divjak is a Serb who held a Bosnian army
command throughout the war. After the Dayton agreements were
signed, he and many other Serbian or Croatian officers were purged
by the Muslim authorities and replaced with Muslims.

UN ALLOWS SERBIAN FLAG IN VUKOVAR. Representatives of the UN,
which is administering eastern Slavonia in its transition from Serbian
to Croatian control, ruled in Vukovar on 15 October that the Serbian
flag can be displayed at official functions if the Serbian minority
wants it. Croatian members of the Vukovar City Council had objected
to having the Serbian flag displayed at council meetings. The UN said,
however, that Croatian law guarantees any minority the right to use
its national flag alongside the Croatian one. Meanwhile in Belgrade, a
UN spokeswoman said no one knows yet when exactly Croatia will
take full control of eastern Slavonia. She added that Secretary
General Kofi Annan is not satisfied with the overall state of affairs
there, and that the Serbian population remains disquieted about the
possible return of Croatian control.

MONTENEGRIN POLICE ARREST ALLEGED SERBIAN AGENTS. Police
authorities in Podgorica announced on 16 October that they arrested
11 men from Belgrade and Novi Sad allegedly sent by the Serbian
authorities to carry out unspecified tasks in conjunction with the 19
October Montenegrin presidential election. The vote pits Prime
Minister Milo Djukanovic, who favors more autonomy for
Montenegro, against President Momir Bulatovic, a supporter of
Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic. The police said the arrested
men had a telephone number of a member of Bulatovic's security
team who was to tell them exactly what to do. Most are unemployed
and were promised a large amount of money should Bulatovic win.
The police added that all of those arrested have a criminal record
and that some of them were paramilitaries in Croatia or Bosnia.

MONTENEGRO UPDATES VOTING LISTS. Montenegrin Supreme Court
President Ratko Vukotic said in Podgorica on 16 October that 9,000
people have asked that their names be added to voter registration
lists in time for the upcoming election. Western monitors present
during the first round of presidential voting in September charged
that many eligible voters, primarily Djukanovic supporters, had been
left off the lists. In Belgrade, "Danas" reported on 15 October that
communist politicians close to Mirjana Markovic, who is also
Milosevic's wife, have given $2 million to Bulatovic's campaign.

KOSOVARS CHARGE BELGRADE WITH CRACKDOWN. Spokesmen for the
Democratic League of Kosovo, the leading ethnic Albanian political
organization in Serbia's southern province, said in Pristina on 15
October that Serbian police have staged a crackdown in three ethnic
Albanian villages near Djakovica. The spokesmen added that police
mistreated some 100 Albanians in the raids, which were made in
response to an armed attack on a Serbian police station two days
earlier (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 15 October 1997). On 16 October,
Radio Pristina reported that one person was killed in an attack on a
police station in Klicina. Meanwhile in Pristina, ethnic Albanian
student spokesman Bujar Dugoli said the students will continue their
street protests unless the Serbian authorities implement a 1996
agreement with the Albanians on restoring Albanian-language
education in Kosovo. On 1 October, the police broke up the first major
demonstration in years in Pristina.

ALBANIA SETS TERMS FOR BETTER RELATIONS WITH BELGRADE.
Albanian Foreign Minister Paskal Milo said in Tirana on 15 October
that Yugoslavia must fulfill some basic conditions before Tirana can
consider holding what he called top-level bilateral talks, BETA news
agency reported. Milo said Belgrade must first implement the 1996
education agreement and end what he called police repression of the
Kosovars. Belgrade, he continued, must also conclude agreements
with Tirana on border and consular affairs, as well as on economic
relations and trade.

GREECE PLEDGES MORE AID TO ALBANIA. Greek Prime Minister
Kostas Simitis said in Tirana on 15 October that the "development of
Albania benefits Greece. Better cooperation with Greece benefits
Albania." He told his Albanian counterpart, Fatos Nano, that Greece
will provide a $72 million loan to Albania and that Greece will
continue its efforts to help rebuild Albania's police force. The prime
ministers signed agreements on fighting crime and illegal
immigration, promoting military cooperation, and cooperating on
infrastructure projects. They also agreed to open a Greek consulate in
Korca and to set up three new crossing points along their border.
Simitis said Greece will take steps to give legal status to many
Albanian migrants illegally staying in that country. Nano pledged to
make Greek-language schooling more readily available to Albania's
Greek minority.

ROMANIAN PREMIER ACCUSES 'REVOLUTIONARIES' OF BLACKMAIL.
Victor Ciorbea on 15 October said the "revolutionaries" staging a
hunger strike in Bucharest are "blackmailing" the government.
Earlier, the premier had said the joint commission tasked with
examining whether "revolutionaries" qualify for special privileges
will include experts from the Ministry of Interior and the
Prosecutor-General's Office, members of the parliament's two
chambers, and representatives of the "revolutionaries," RFE/RL's
Bucharest bureau reported. A protocol on setting up the commission
was signed with "revolutionaries" representatives. But Dan Iosif, one
of the leaders of the hunger strikers, said the "revolutionaries" are
demanding that the government withdraw the draft amendment to
the law, instead of simply postponing the debate on the legislation.
He added that the hunger strike will continue.

POLITICAL UPROAR OVER 'REVOLUTIONARIES' STRIKE. Also on 15
October, former President Ion Iliescu again visited the striking
"revolutionaries" and encouraged them to persist in their demands,
prompting Ciorbea to comment that he hopes the strikers are not
being manipulated. Culture Minister Ion Caramitru on 15 October
threatened to resign over the government's decision to postpone the
debate on the amendment. The next day, Iosif accused Iliescu,
Ciorbea, and other leaders of seeking to make political capital out of
the strikers. He added that the protesters intend to "ask for political
asylum in the U.S." The Party of Social Democracy in Romania faction
walked out of the Senate debates after National Peasant Party
Christian Democratic Senator Serban Sandulescu accused Iliescu and
Iosif of "destabilizing the country." And Sandulescu resigned from
the commission overseeing the law's implementation to protest
President Emil Constantinescu's position on the strikers, Radio
Bucharest and Mediafax reported.

CHISINAU, TIRASPOL AGREE ON CONFIDENCE-BUILDING MEASURES.
Moldovan Defense Minister Valeriu Pasat and his Transdniestrian
counterpart, Stanislav Hajeev, have agreed on a number of
"confidence-building" measures, RFE/RL's Chisinau bureau reported
on 15 October. The agreement provides for exchange visits to
military units situated in the security zone and on military
maneuvers. Nikolai Lepihov, Hajeev's deputy, said Pasat handed
Transdniestrian leader Igor Smirnov a message from President Petru
Lucinschi. Sources close to Smirnov said the message deals with the
preparations for the CIS summit scheduled to take place in Chisinau
on 22-23 October. Lucinschi asked Smirnov to "intensify control"
over the so-called "voluntary organizations" of Transdniestrian
paramilitary "in order to avoid any provocations" during the summit.

MOLDOVAN COMMUNISTS APPEAL TO CONSTITUTIONAL COURT.
Vladimir Voronin, the leader of the Party of Moldovan Communists,
told journalists in Chisinau on 15 October that his party will appeal to
the Constitutional Court against the parliament's rejection of the
proposed plebiscite on the law on land sale and purchase (see
"RFE/RL Newsline," 13 October 1997). Voronin said the parliament's
decision to disregard the 245,000 signatures supporting the
referendum "once again demonstrates the anti-people, destructive
nature" of the legislature, BASA-press and Infotag reported.

GERMAN FOREIGN MINISTER IN SOFIA. Klaus Kinkel, on a one-day
visit to Sofia on 15 October, told a news conference that the "decision
on Bulgaria's admission to the EU and NATO has already been taken
and the only question is when and how." After talks with President
Petar Stoyanov, Prime Minister Ivan Kostov, and Foreign Minister
Nadezhda Mihailova, Kinkel pledged that Germany will remain a
"reliable partner" in Bulgarian efforts to join the Euro-Atlantic
organizations, RFE/RL's Sofia bureau reported.

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