Upon the education of the people of this country the fate of this country depends. - Benjamin Disraeli 1804-1881
RFE/RL NEWSLINE

RFE/RL NEWSLINE Vol. 1, No. 163, Part II, 19 November 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

EUROPE: Has The West Embraced The East? -- a five-part series about
Europe's multilateral organizations and whether and how they've
aided the integration of Central and Eastern Europe with the West --
is online at the RFE/RL Web site.
http://www.rferl.org/nca/special/multilateral/index.html

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Headlines, Part II

* FURTHER RUSSIAN DENIAL OF POLISH DAILY'S SPY ALLEGATIONS

* CROATIAN INTELLIGENCE OFFICERS MAKE CORRUPTION CHARGES

* ALBANIAN NEWSPAPER STRIKE OVER?

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EAST-CENTRAL EUROPE

UKRAINIAN-RUSSIAN RELATIONS IMPROVING. Speaking at a press
briefing on 18 November, Vladimir Solovei, the head of the CIS
Department at the Ukrainian Foreign Ministry, positively assessed
the outcome of Russian First Deputy Prime Minister Anatolii
Chubais's 14 November visit to Kyiv. He also praised the results of
the 16-17 November summit in Moscow between Russian President
Yeltsin and his Ukrainian counterpart Leonid Kuchma. Solovei said
Russian-Ukrainian relations are increasingly dominated by a
pragmatic, calm, and rational approach. He said the agreement
reached by Yeltsin and Kuchma on abolishing value-added tax will
contribute to increasing bilateral trade turnover. LF

UKRAINIAN PARLIAMENT FIXES MINIMUM PENSION. The
parliament on 18 November reaffirmed its decision to peg the
minimum pension in 1998 to the level of subsistence wages, ITAR-
TASS reported. Such wages are set at 74 hryvnas ($39). President
Kuchma refused to sign an earlier draft of the pension law fixing the
minimum pension at this level on the grounds that the budget does
not contain adequate funds. LF

RUSSIAN OFFICER WINS CASE AGAINST ESTONIAN GOVERNMENT. A
Tallinn court has ruled that the government did not give sufficient
reason for refusing a residence permit to retired Russian officer
Sergei Mirochnitchenko and his family, ETA reported on 18
November. Mirochnitchenko, 51, was extradited on the grounds that
he poses a threat to Estonia's security. The court ruled that the
country's security cannot be endangered by a past service record.
The government must now review the former officer's application for
a residence permit. Earlier this year, Mirochnitchenko won another
case against the government because his name had been misspelled
in an extradition order. JC

LATVIA PROPOSES "AMBER GATEWAY." Foreign Minister Valdis
Birkavs has officially called for the creation of an "amber gateway" to
encourage greater economic cooperation and promote security in the
Baltic Sea region, BNS reported on 18 November. The "gateway,"
based on the 14th century Hanseatic League free trade area, would
complement, rather than replace, Latvia's goal of integration into
European structures. Birkavs suggested the "gateway" include the
Council of Baltic Sea States (to which the Nordic countries, Germany,
Poland, and Russia also belong). The idea of an "amber gateway" has
been discussed recently among diplomatic circles in Washington. JC

LITHUANIAN PARLIAMENT DEBATES CRIMINAL CODE CHANGES.
Lawmakers on 18 November began debating amendments to the
criminal code that would facilitate investigations into genocide cases,
BNS reported. Specifically, genocide suspects would be allowed to
familiarize themselves by proxy--either in writing or through their
attorney--with the charges brought against them if their state of
health precludes standard procedures for conducting a preliminary
investigation. Earlier this year, the prosecutor-general was prevented
from pressing charges against the 90-year-old Aleksandras Lileikis,
suspected of involvement in genocide during World War II, because
of the latter's poor health. JC

POLAND, CHINA SEEK TO BOOST TRADE. Visiting Polish President
Aleksander Kwasniewski and his Chinese counterpart, Jiang Zemin,
have signed contracts worth some $200, including a $110 million
deal for the sale to Beijing of spare parts and engines for Polish-
made buses. Polish Television reported. In addition, China will make
use of an existing $340 million credit line to buy Polish goods,
including turbines, and coal mining equipment. Last year, Chinese
imports to Poland totaled $734.8 million, while Polish exports to
China reached only $33.7 million. With regard to human rights,
Kwasniewski said he and Jiang had discussed the issue but "with the
understanding that not all countries espouse the same definition of
human rights," according to dpa. JC

FURTHER RUSSIAN DENIAL OF POLISH DAILY'S SPY ALLEGATIONS. A
spokeswoman for the Russian Federal Security Service has denied
allegations by the Polish daily "Zycie" that Russian diplomats are
spying in Poland, Interfax reported on 18 November. She described
the article as a typical example of "espionage-mania." The person
identified as "Yackimishin," who according to the newspaper was
killed because of his alleged involvement in the ouster of former
Premier Jozef Oleksy, is alive, she added. The Russian embassy in
Warsaw has also protested the article to the Polish Foreign Ministry
(see "RFE/RL Newsline," 18 November 1997). AW

HIV-POSITIVE SOLDIERS CANNOT SERVE IN CZECH ARMY? Defense
Minister Miloslav Vyborny told a press conference in Prague on 18
November that infection with the HIV virus or heart ischemia "can
disqualify people from serving in the military." Vyborny declined to
comment on a report published in "Mlada Fronta Dnes" saying a
decree disqualifying HIV-positive soldiers from service has already
been issued. He added, however, that he "does not see any
discrimination" in banning such people from serving in the army. He
said they can "file charges, but it is [another] question if they will
win." MS

CZECH SOCIAL DEMOCRATS INCREASE LEAD IN POPULARITY POLL. A
public opinion poll conducted by the STEM private agency shows the
opposition Social Democratic Party (CSSD) widening its lead over
Prime Minister Vaclav Klaus's Civic Democratic Party (ODS), Reuters
reported on 18 November. The poll shows 29.2 percent backing the
CSSD and 20.3 percent supporting the ODS. This compares with 30
and 22 percent, respectively, in a similar poll conducted in October.
MS

DOLE ON HUNGARY'S NATO ASPIRATIONS. Former U.S. majority
leader Bob Dole told Prime Minister Gyula Horn in Budapest on 18
November that the large majority that voted in favor of Hungary's
accession to NATO in the 16 November referendum will "certainly
give an impetus to the ratification of NATO expansion in the U.S.
Senate," Hungarian media reported. Horn, meanwhile, said Hungary's
economic progress is reason enough to hope his country will join the
EU in 2000 or 2001. He added it is "strange" that some West
European politicians speak of 2005 and even of 2008 as the expected
year of Hungary's entry. According to Horn, that might have a
"demoralizing effect" on Hungarian public opinion. MS

SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE

CROATIAN INTELLIGENCE OFFICERS MAKE CORRUPTION CHARGES.
The parliamentary Committee for Domestic Affairs and National
Security on 18 November discussed corruption charges made by
three former members of the intelligence services against the
Defense Ministry and other unnamed high government officials.
Opposition deputies asked that the closed hearings be made public,
an RFE/RL correspondent reported from Zagreb. The three former
agents said they will publish their charges on the Internet if the
government does not allow them to be discussed openly, "Novi List"
reported. PM

CROATIAN UNDERWORLD LEADER GOES ON TRIAL. Mladen "Tuta"
Naletilic, one of the most prominent criminal figures in Mostar, went
on trial in Zagreb on 18 November for abduction, assault and battery,
inciting murder, and aiding and abetting crime. Independent media
charged, however, that Tuta should also be tried for war crimes
against Serbs and Muslims. Opposition spokesmen said that Tuta has
strong links to the governing Croatian Democratic Community in
Mostar and that he helped enforce the party's anti-Muslim policies.
PM

RADIO VUKOVAR BACK ON AIR. Croatian Radio Vukovar resumed
broadcasting on 18 November for the first time since the eastern
Slavonian city fell to Serbian attackers six years earlier. Elsewhere in
Vukovar, a UN spokesman noted that the peaceful reintegration of
eastern Slavonia into Croatia is well under way. He added, however,
that it could take at least 10 years for the region's various
nationalities "to learn to live together again." PM

WORLD BANK LOAN FOR CROATIA. World Bank officials on 18
November approved a $30 million loan to promote financial reform
and to develop the private sector. The Investment Recovery Loan is
repayable over 15 years, with a grace period of three to five years.
PM

BANJA LUKA AIRPORT REOPENS. The only airport in the Republika
Srpska able to handle commercial flights reopened to civilian traffic
on 18 November after a break of four years. A flight carrying
international officials arrived from Sarajevo, but a Yugoslav Airlines
promotional flight from Belgrade was canceled, ostensibly for
technical reasons. British and U.S. development aid funded the
reopening. A joint Bosnian civil aviation authority that includes
Serbs, Croats, and Muslims will supervise the facility. A spokesman
for Austrian Airlines said that his company may begin international
flights to the airport. PM

PLAVSIC TELLS VOTERS TO CHOOSE "BEST OF THE BEST." Republika
Srpska President Biljana Plavsic told supporters in Banja Luka on 18
November that a "wave of democratization" is spreading across
Serbia, Montenegro, and the Republika Srpska. She urged voters to
elect her Serbian People's League (SNS) in the 22-23 November
parliamentary elections and promised clean and accountable
government, BETA news agency reported. Hard-line leader Momcilo
Krajisnik, for his part, told Serbian Television in Belgrade that Plavsic
is a "traitor" who is working to recreate a multi-ethnic Bosnia. And in
Sarajevo, international election officials told an RFE/RL
correspondent that 28 parties, three coalitions, and 18 independent
candidates will be on the ballot. PM

GUNMEN ATTACK PRO-MILOSEVIC ALBANIAN. On 18 November near
Pristina, gunmen wounded Camil Gashi, an ethnic Albanian who
heads Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic's Socialist Party branch
in the Kosovar town of Glogovac. Gashi is also a member of the
Yugoslav parliament and one of the leading ethnic Albanians loyal to
the Yugoslav president. Almost one year ago, the clandestine Kosovo
Liberation Army (UCK) began a campaign of attacking Kosovars
whom it regards as collaborators. PM

SHOOT-OUT NEAR MACEDONIAN-ALBANIAN BORDER. Macedonian
police officials in Skopje said on 18 November that police wounded
two Albanians in a fight with a gang of about 30 men near Struga the
previous day. Police added that the gang had apparently crossed into
Macedonia illegally in order to rob border villages. There have been
some 110 incidents involving illegal border crossings since law and
order collapsed in Albania in March. PM

ALBANIAN NEWSPAPER STRIKE OVER? Nikolle Lesi, the publisher of
"Koha Jone," Albania's largest-circulation daily, has told an RFE/RL
correspondent in Tirana that his paper will resume publication on 20
November. Nine dailies recently began a strike to push for lower
taxes (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 17 November 1997). Finance Minister
Arben Malaj on 18 November offered to cut import duties on
newsprint, ink, and spare parts and to lift duties completely on new
printing equipment. Malaj also pledged that newspaper publishers
will be exempt from profit tax for at least two years to enable them
to invest in new equipment. FS

ALBANIA, ITALY SIGN MIGRANT LABOR PACT. Italian Deputy
Foreign Minister Piero Fassino signed an agreement in Tirana on 18
November aimed at regulating the flow of migrant labor from
Albania to his country. The two governments will fix the exact
number of legal migrants at a later date. At least 15,000 Albanians
entered Italy as refugees this year. Their residence permits expire at
the end of November. PM

ROMANIAN PARLIAMENT REJECTS OPPOSITION MOTION ON
HUNGARIAN COUNTIES. By a vote of 183 to 97, the Chamber of
Deputies on 18 November rejected an opposition motion criticizing
government policies in the two counties in which Hungarians
constitute the majority, RFE/RL's Bucharest bureau reported. The
motion was proposed by the Party of Romanian National Unity and
supported by the Party of Social Democracy in Romania, the Greater
Romania Party, and the Alliance for Romania Party. Opposition
speakers accused the government of backing policies of "ethnic
cleansing" of ethnic Romanians in Transylvania. MS

ROMANIAN SENATE DEBATES EDUCATION LAW AMENDMENTS. The
Senate on 18 November began debating the government regulation
amending the education law. Senators from the National Peasant
Party Christian Democratic stressed their position that history and
geography must be taught in the Romanian language in all schools.
Representatives of the Hungarian Democratic Federation of Romania,
for their part, refrained from threatening to leave the ruling
coalition. MS

FATE OF MOLDOVAN-RUSSIAN TREATY HANGS IN BALANCE. Aleksei
Mitrofanov, the chairman of the Russian State Duma's Committee for
Geopolitics, told "Russkii Telegraf" on 18 November that the chances
of the Duma's ratifying the basic Moldovan-Russian treaty remain
"zero." Mitrofanov, who is one of the leaders of the Russian Liberal
Democratic Party, said both his group and the Communist Party
faction oppose ratification, adding that two Duma committees have
recommended against it. During his visit to Moldova in late October,
Duma speaker Gennadii Seleznev said the treaty will be ratified in
November (see "RFE/RL Newsline, 29 October 1997). The treaty was
initialed in 1990. MS

BULGARIAN PREMIER WANTS FINANCIAL POLICE. Ivan Kostov on 18
November said a special force of financial police should be set up to
fight corruption among politicians, police officers, and other state
employees, RFE/RL's Sofia bureau reported. Kostov said that the
existing police force, tax authorities, and customs agencies are unable
to fight corruption within their own ranks and that current law-
enforcement structures make it difficult to combat corruption within
the Interior Ministry. He said the financial police would monitor
officials' behavior and report suspected wrongdoing to the relevant
authorities. The financial police could also demand that politicians
disclose how they paid for luxury cars and houses, Kostov noted. MS

BULGARIAN SECRET POLICE FILES OPENED. Eleven Bulgarians on 18
November became the first persons to read their communist-era
secret police files under the law passed by the parliament in October,
an RFE/RL correspondent in Sofia reported. A total of 15,000 people
have inquired whether the secret police had files on them. More than
70 percent of the files on police informants and an unknown
percentage of victims' files were destroyed by the communist
government that deposed Todor Zhivkov, AFP reported, quoting the
head of the archive service. MS


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