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RFE/RL NEWSLINE

RFE/RL NEWSLINE Vol. 2, No. 109 Part II, 9 June 1998


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RFE/RL NEWSLINE Vol. 2, No. 109 Part II, 9 June 1998

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

* BELARUS TRIES TO LOCK U.S. AMBASSADOR OUT OF RESIDENCE

* EU, U.S. FREEZE ASSETS, BAN INVESTMENTS IN SERBIA

* ATTACK ON NORTHERN ALBANIAN ARMS DEPOT
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EAST-CENTRAL EUROPE

BELARUS TRIES TO LOCK U.S. AMBASSADOR OUT OF RESIDENCE...
Belarusian authorities have given an order to weld shut a
gate to the residence of U.S. Ambassador to Belarus Daniel
Speckhard at the Drazdy compound outside Minsk. Workers
preparing to carry out that order retreated when Speckhard
arrived with journalists at his residence on 8 June,
RFE/RL's Belarusian Service reported. The move follows a
warning in April that diplomats from 22 countries will have
to leave Drazdy by 10 June owing to planned repairs there.
Speaking at a news conference in Minsk on 8 June, Speckhard
said Belarus has breached the Vienna Convention on Consular
Relations by violating the ambassador's residence, which is
considered foreign territory, like the embassy itself. "If
the government wants to lock us out, we will have to leave
the country," Speckhard commented to Reuters. He added that
the action is without precedence since the Cold War.
Speckhard has appealed to President Alyaksandr Lukashenka to
rescind the eviction order. JM

...WHILE STATE DEPARTMENT THREATENS DIPLOMATIC RETALIATION.
U.S. State Department spokesman James Rubin says the U.S.
government has urged Belarus "to halt this self-destructive
action" of evicting foreign ambassadors of their residences
at Drazdy, Reuters reported. "If the government in Belarus
makes it impossible for our ambassador to carry out his
responsibilities, we will be forced to take retaliatory
action," he added. "We certainly would have options of our
own in the welding area here in Washington," UPI cited Rubin
as saying. Meanwhile, the Belarusian Foreign Ministry said
in a statement read on state television on 8 June that "all
embassies are being offered new land and other properties."
It added that President Alyaksandr Lukashenka and Prime
Minister Syarhey Linh, who also have their official
residences at Drazdy, have set an "example" by vacating
those buildings for repairs. JM

UKRAINIAN MINERS' STRIKE ENTERS SECOND MONTH. According to
the Ukrainian Miners Independent Trade Union, strikes at 43
mines throughout the country entered their second month on 8
June, Ukrainian Television reported. Miners marching to Kyiv
from Dnipropetrovsk (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 25 May 1998) are
now 80 kilometers from the capital, while another group
continue to picket the oblast administration building in
Dnipropetrovsk (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 20 and 21 May 1998).
Meanwhile, miners picketed the National Bank building in
Kyiv on 8 June to demand that the government implement a
parliamentary resolution allocating funds for the purchase
of coal. Under pressure from the striking miners, the
government has announced it will reduce coal imports by 80
percent, ITAR-TASS reported. JM

PASSENGERS WANT $2 MILLION IN COMPENSATION FOR ABORTIVE SEA
TRIP. The Ukrainian cruiser "Taras Shevchenko," owned by the
Odessa-based Black Sea Shipping Company, is returning home
with more than 500 passengers aboard after a canceled
Mediterranean cruise, Ukrainian Television reported on 8
June. The passengers had strongly protested the previous day
after realizing that the ship had changed its route and was
returning from Piraeus to the Black Sea. Greek authorities
had tried to impound the vessel because of the Black Sea
Shipping Company's debts, which total $125 million. The
passengers, who paid $1,500 -$7,000 for the trip, are to
file suit against the company to obtain "moral and material
compensation" amounting to $2 million. JM

ESTONIA'S RURAL BANK OPTS FOR LIQUIDATION. Estonia's sixth
largest bank has opted for voluntary liquidation, ETA
reported on 8 June. The Rural Bank, which last year
registered significant losses owing to unsuccessful stock
market ventures, has suspended deposits worth some 842
million kroons ($58.9 million). Of that sum, 260 million
kroons belong to private individuals and 500 million kroons
to the government. In an address on public radio, Prime
Minister Mart Siimann said the crisis is a "serious matter"
but does not reflect the state of Estonian banking in
general since the market share of the Rural Bank was "rather
small." In response to the bank's liquidation, the Tallinn
Stock Exchange fell 7.53 percent on 8 June. JC

LATVIAN PRESIDENT WANTS EXTRAORDINARY PARLIAMENT SESSION.
Guntis Ulmanis has urged Prime Minister Guntars Krasts to
call an extraordinary session of the parliament to adopt
amendments to the citizenship law in the third and final
reading, BNS reported on 8 June. Ulmanis was speaking
following a meeting with the parliamentary group of Latvia's
Way. The president said that Krasts should call the meeting
because it was his cabinet that had proposed the amendments,
whereby citizenship would be granted to all children born to
non-Latvians after 21 August 1998 should their parents
request it. If the premier fails to call an extraordinary
session, the president said he will do so to ensure the
amendments are passed at least by the end of this month. JC

UNCERTAINTY REMAINS OVER NUMBER OF POLISH PROVINCES. Despite
the 5 June vote in favor of an administrative reform bill
providing for 12 new provinces (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 8
June 1998), uncertainty remains over how many provinces will
be set up in the country. The ruling coalition has announced
that it will seek the support of the upper house to increase
the number of provinces to 15. On 9 June, "Gazeta Wyborcza"
reported that both the opposition Democratic Left Alliance
and President Aleksander Kwasniewski are in favor of 17
provinces. Presidential aide Marek Siwiec told the newspaper
that the president will veto the bill if it provides for
only 15 provinces. The issue of administrative reform, which
prompted protests by some provincial communities, is likely
to dominate the local elections scheduled for this fall. JM

SLOVAKIA ACTIVATES MOCHOVCE REACTOR. Slovakia on 8 June
activated a reactor at the controversial Mochovce nuclear
plant, Reuters reported. Slovak Foreign Ministry spokesman
Milan Tokar told the agency that Slovakia has the right to
determine its energy policy without foreign interference and
that "no one can deny us our right to guarantee our energy."
A spokesman for the plant said all safety and technical
requirements for activating the reactor have been met.
Austrian Chancellor Viktor Klima said the Slovak decision
was "unfriendly and irresponsible" and that he is
considering withdrawing Austria's ambassador to Bratislava
in protest. MS

SUSPECTS OF RECENT BOMBINGS ARRESTED IN HUNGARY. One German,
one Israeli, and two Russian citizens suspected of
involvement in a series of recent bomb attacks in Hungary
have been arrested, National Police commander Laszlo Forgacs
announced on 8 June. The four persons were detained after
police raided three houses in Budapest and discovered a
laboratory for producing explosives. Police also seized 10
kilograms of explosive materials and weapons as well as 1
ton of paper suitable for forging bank notes. Since 1991,
there have been 111 bombings in Hungary, most of which are
thought to have been perpetrated by rival domestic and
foreign gangs. MSZ

SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE

EU, U.S. FREEZE ASSETS, BAN INVESTMENTS IN SERBIA. In
separate moves, the EU and the U.S. government have frozen
all Yugoslav assets in their countries and slapped a ban on
investment in Serbia, Reuters reported. Meeting in
Luxembourg, the EU foreign ministers decried the "ethnic
cleansing" under way in Kosova and called on Yugoslav
President Slobodan Milosevic to allow humanitarian
organizations and foreign observers to western Kosova, where
military operations are taking place. The ministers also
said they have not ruled out the option of putting into
effect Chapter 7 of the UN Charter, which authorizes foreign
military intervention in order to keep peace. The U.S. State
Department said it is working with Britain on a UN Security
Council Resolution that would allow "all necessary measures"
to stop the violence in Kosova. The official Yugoslav news
agency, Tanjug, called the new sanctions against Serbia
"politically motivated" and "incomprehensible." PB

STRONG WORDS FROM BLAIR, CHIRAC, COHEN. British Prime
Minister Tony Blair said on 8 June in Copenhagen that all
options are being considered to stop the "unacceptable
violence and brutality" in Kosova, AFP reported. French
President Jacques Chirac said in Washington the same day
that "we cannot accept the ethnic cleansing" and that he
hopes the Contact Group (consisting of Britain, France,
Germany, Italy, Russia, and the U.S) will "decide to be very
firm to Serbs and to President Milosevic." He added that
such an approach could include military action, which, he
said, would need UN authorization and Russian approval. U.S.
Defense Secretary William Cohen said on 8 June that U.S. and
European forces may be deployed to prevent the spread of
violence in Kosova. U.S. National Security Adviser Sandy
Berger, however, said unilateral U.S. military intervention
in the crisis is not being discussed at this time. Cohen
will discuss the situation in Kosova on 11 June at a meeting
of NATO defense ministers in Brussels. The Contact Group
meets the next day in Paris. PB

ENVOY URGES TALKS TO RESUME BETWEEN BELGRADE, KOSOVAR
ALBANIANS. U.S. envoy Christopher Hill said it is imperative
that Yugoslav officials and Kosova Albanian leaders renew
talks, Reuters reported. Hill, who toured an area of heavy
fighting near the Albanian border with Kosovar Albanian
official Fehmi Agani, said it is time to "get a negotiating
process started." Kosovar officials failed to attend talks
scheduled for 5 June in Prishtina because of the ongoing
Serbian offensive in western Kosova. The Kosovar side said
it will not resume talks until Serbian paramilitary forces
withdraw from Kosova. PB

DIPLOMATS TOUR DESTROYED TOWNS. Escorted by Yugoslav
officials, some 60 foreign diplomats on 8 June were given a
tour of several locations in western Kosova that had been
sealed off because of fierce fighting, Reuters reported. The
diplomats, who were not allowed to be accompanied by
journalists, said most of the towns were deserted and many
of the buildings reduced to rubble or burned down. Police
also showed the diplomats confiscated weapons. Dutch
ambassador Jan Sizoo said the area is a "battlefield" and
that Yugoslav officials accompanying the diplomats said the
"terrorists" started the fighting. PB

REFUGEE INFLUX SLOWS DOWN, SPREADS OUT. International relief
agencies reported on 8 June that the flow of ethnic Albanian
refugees fleeing from Kosova to Albania had stabilized,
Reuters reported. A UN High Commissioner for Refugees
official said some 10,000 refugees arrived in northern
Albania over the past 10 days. Albanian officials said the
total is closer to 15,000. While most were receiving care in
the Tropoje region, some 600 people had fled to the port
city of Durres, the Albanian news agency ATA reported. Other
reports said refugees are making plans to join relatives in
other European countries. Fighting is reported to be
continuing near the Albanian border. The pro-Serbian Media
Center in Prishtina, said ethnic Albanians had attacked two
Serbian villages in the Drenica region. It also reported
that one Serbian policeman was killed near the border. PB

ISTANBUL CONFERENCE DISCUSSES KOSOVA. Referring to Kosova,
Turkish Foreign Minister Ismail Cem said at a Balkan
conference in Istanbul on 8 June that a tragedy similar to
Bosnia cannot be allowed to be repeated, the "Turkish Daily
News" reported. Albanian Foreign Minister Paskal Milo said
in his speech to the delegates that although there will be
no mention of Kosova in the declaration issued at the end of
the two-day conference, Albania must express its concern
over the "killing of innocent civilians, the destruction of
villages and towns, and the increasing flow of refugees."
Yugoslav Foreign Minister Zivadin Jovanovic, who has
insisted that no mention of Kosova be included in the
declaration, did not mention the troubled Serbian region in
his address. UN Undersecretary-General Vladimir Petrovski,
an observer at the conference, urged the group to discuss
the Kosova crisis. PB

ATTACK ON NORTHERN ALBANIAN ARMS DEPOT. Unidentified gunmen
attacked an arms depot in the northern Albanian district of
Mirdita on 8 June, "Koha Jone" reported. Guards exchanged
fire with the attackers until the gunmen withdrew. Nobody
was injured. The previous day, Prime Minister Fatos Nano
told the National Security Council in Tirana that the secret
service has warned him that some Kosovar refugees may try to
attack arms depots to obtain weapons. Nano claimed that some
federal Yugoslav agents provocateur were among the refugees,
but he did not elaborate. The Defense Ministry, meanwhile,
has increased security around depots. FS

DEFENSE MINISTER SAYS ALBANIA HAS NATO SUPPORT. Albanian
Defense Minister Luan Hajdaraga told parliament on 8 June
that the army is ready and able to defend Albania's borders
and that it expects NATO support in the event of a Yugoslav
attack, "Gazeta Shqiptare" reported. Hajdaraga was
responding to a question by opposition legislator Azem
Hajdari, who claimed there are "fewer Albanian soldiers at
the border than there are deputies during a parliamentary
session." Hajdaraga noted that NATO experts recently
surveyed the northern Albanian border area (see "RFE/RL
Newsline," 8 June 1998) and are planning to hold joint
military exercises there in August. FS

BOSNIAN SERB PARTIES TO UNITE FOR ELECTIONS. Three reformist
Bosnia Serb political parties announced on 8 June that they
will join forces for elections in September. The Serb
National Alliance, the Socialist Party, and the Independent
Social Democrats said they will nominate a joint list of
candidates for the posts of the Republika Srpska presidency
and two posts reserved for Serbs in Bosnia's joint
presidency and government. The move is aimed at replacing
two Bosnian Serb hard-liners: Momcilo Krajisnik, the Serbian
representative on the joint presidency, and Boro Bosic, co-
chairman in Bosnia's joint government. The parties announced
that they will run independently in the parliamentary
elections. PB

BOSNIA SIGNS DECLARATION WITH EU. Bosnian Foreign Minister
Jadranko Prlic said in Luxembourg on 8 June that his country
is determined to join the "European family of nations," dpa
reported. Prlic made his comments after meeting with EU
foreign ministers and signing a declaration on relations
between Bosnia-Herzegovina and the EU. British Foreign
Secretary Robin Cook said Bosnia could expect continued
support from the EU "if you help yourselves" and "build a
peaceful, democratic and open nation." The EU has donated
some $2.2 billion to Bosnia. PB

BOSNIAN CROAT INFORMS TUDJMAN OF PLAN TO SET UP SPLINTER
PARTY. Kresimir Zubak said in an open letter to Croatian
President Franjo Tudjman on 8 June that he will continue
with the formation of a new Bosnian Croat political party,
Croatian Radio reported. Zubak said he is tired of the hard-
liners in the ruling Croatian Democratic Union of Bosnia-
Herzegovina (HDZ-BH), who, he said, are accumulating power
in the Bosnian Croat stronghold of southwestern Bosnia, to
the detriment of Sarajevo. Zubak said he has concluded that
"the differences within the political leadership of the
party are unbridgeable." Tudjman has sought to keep the HDZ-
BH intact through the September elections in Bosnia and
recently met with Zubak in Zagreb (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 8
June 1998). PB

ROMANIAN GOVERNMENT APPROVE PLANS TO RESTRUCTURE ELECTRICITY
MONOPOLY. The government on 8 June approved a draft law for
restructuring the RENEL electricity state monopoly utility.
Under that bill, the monopoly would be divided into three
companies: two would compete for customers, while the third
would remain under state control and oversee nuclear energy
production. The draft still has to be approved by the
parliament. No layoffs are envisaged by the plan, which
would be implemented over two years; the unions,
nonetheless, have protested the bill. Also on 8 June, some
20,000 miners in several towns protested the government's
program to restructure the mining industry. Almost 10,000
miners have been laid off since last September. MS

ROMANIAN PRESIDENT IN NEW YORK. Emil Constantinescu,
addressing the UN General Assembly on 8 June, said the new
democracies in Eastern Europe can and must play a
significant role in combating organized crime and drug
trafficking. On 7 June, Constantinescu met with the Romanian
emigre community in New York, which protested the delay in
returning confiscated properties. Constantinescu also
announced that Emil Hurezeanu, a former director of RFE/RL's
Romanian Service, is to be appointed presidential spokesman.
MS

MOLDOVAN PRESIDENT CALLS FOR 'RADICAL REFORM' OF ARMY. In
his weekly address to the nation on 8 June, Petru Lucinschi
called for a "radical reform" of Moldova's armed forces,
BASA-press and Infotag reported. He said the reform must
improve both the country's "fighting capability" and
military technology. Lucinschi also called for an end to the
"interminable debates" on whether the country needs an army
or a national guard. He said that Moldova is "at a
crossroads where the interests of several states intersect"
and has "paramilitary structures that are not controlled by
the government...and huge arsenals of Russian troops"
stationed in the country. He argued that in those
circumstances, "the army is an instrument for ensuring the
country's security, independence, and territorial
integrity." MS

GAZPROM TO CUT MOLDOVAN SUPPLIES. Gazprom on 8 June told the
Moldovan government that it will cut gas deliveries by 50
percent as of 15 June, RFE/RL's Chisinau reported. The
Russian concern said "normal deliveries" will resume only
when Moldova clears its entire debt to the company. It added
that Chisinau has paid for only 51 percent of deliveries so
far this year and has thus broken the March agreement on
clearing the debt. On 31 May, Moldova's total debt to
Gazprom was $590 million, of which $388 million is owed by
the Tiraspol separatists. MS

BULGARIA FREEZES SERBIAN ASSETS. The government on 8 June
announced it is freezing Serbian and federal Yugoslav funds
in local banks, Reuters reported, citing BTA. The decision
followed that of the EU earlier the same day to freeze
assets held abroad by the two governments. The ban will not
apply to funds held by Yugoslav companies and individuals in
Bulgarian banks. It also excludes accounts of the Yugoslav
embassy in Sofia. MS

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