I have learned that success is to be measured not so much by the position that one has reached in life as by the obstacles which he has overcome while trying to succeed. - Booker T. Washington
RFE/RL NEWSLINE

RFE/RL NEWSLINE Vol. 3, No. 146, Part II, 29 July 1999


________________________________________________________
RFE/RL NEWSLINE Vol. 3, No. 146, Part II, 29 July 1999

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

xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx
Headlines, Part II

* BELARUS TEMPORARILY LIBERALIZES FUEL MARKET

* GENEROUS PLEDGES FOR KOSOVA

* YUGOSLAV COLONEL BLASTS PRO-MILOSEVIC GENERALS

End Note: ALBANIA'S NEW ENVIRONMENT
xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

EAST-CENTRAL EUROPE

BELARUS TEMPORARILY LIBERALIZES FUEL MARKET. Responding
to the country's acute fuel shortage, Belarusian
President Alyaksandr Lukashenka has issued an edict
allowing foreign companies to export fuel to Belarus
without paying customs duties and value-added tax.
Foreign companies may also sell fuel in Belarus without
opening representative offices or paying excise tax. In
addition, the government has revoked the requirement
whereby fuel wholesale traders in Belarus must have
licenses. All these measures are to remain in effect
until the end of this year. JM

SPOKESMAN SAYS MOSCOW NEWSPAPER MISINTERPRETED
LUKASHENKA. Uladzimir Skvartsou, spokesman for the
Belarusian president, told Interfax on 28 July that the
previous day's issue of "Moskovskie novosti"
misinterpreted Lukashenka's remark in an earlier
interview with "Die Woche." In that interview,
Lukashenka said he will not agree to being an "errand
boy for Yeltsin" in the planned Belarusian-Russian union
state. "Yeltsin's entourage is deluding itself if it
thinks that Lukashenka will act as the Trojan Horse on
whose shoulders some politicians can prolong their time
span in politics," "Moskovskie novosti" commented with
regard to Lukashenka's remark. Skvartsou said
Lukashenka' statement meant that the Belarusian
president opposes the unification of both countries "for
the sake of prolonging the political future of this or
that official...[be it] Yeltsin, Lukashenka, or anyone
else." Skvartsou added that for Lukashenka the
unification idea is "sacred." JM

LITHUANIA PROVIDES SECURITY TO BELARUSIAN OPPOSITION
LEADER. Lithuanian parliamentary speaker Vytautas
Landsbergis has officially asked the interior minister
to make security arrangements for Belarusian Supreme
Soviet Chairman Syamyon Sharetski during his stay in
Lithuania (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 26 and 28 July 1999),
BNS reported. "The visitor is a high-ranking person and
my parliamentary counterpart. Any accidental
misunderstanding or an incident involving him would be
instrumental to further numerous misunderstandings,
political complications, and unnecessary rumors,"
Landsbergis told journalists on 28 July. He added that
Lithuania, if requested by Minsk, could act as an
intermediary in the standoff between the Belarusian
authorities and the opposition. An Interior Ministry
official told BNS the same day that the ministry has
made security arrangements for Sharetski and provided
him with a car. JM

UKRAINIAN PREMIER DENIES CABINET PLANNING TO CHANGE
ECONOMIC STRATEGY. Prime Minister Valeriy Pustovoytenko
on 28 July denied that his government plans any changes
in its economic strategy, Interfax reported.
Pustovoytenko was responding to First Deputy Premier
Volodymyr Kuratchenko's proposals at a government
meeting earlier the same day in which the latter called
for restoring state economic planning and revising
Ukraine's accords with the IMF and the World Bank. "We
have a clear strategy for our reform course and we will
stick to it," Pustovoytenko said, adding that
Kuratchenko expressed his personal opinions at the
meeting. Meanwhile, IMF senior official John Odling-Smee
has urged the government to accelerate economic
transformation, particularly privatization and
agricultural and administrative reform. JM

UKRAINE CONDITIONS ALUMINA SUPPLIES FOR TAJIKISTAN ON
COTTON SUPPLIES. Pustovoytenko on 28 July threatened to
stop supplies of alumina to Tajikistan from 1 August
unless Dushanbe pays off its debts with cotton supplies
promised earlier. Last week, Pustovoytenko and his Tajik
counterpart, Yakhye Azimov, signed a deal on partly
repaying Tajikistan's $60 million debt to Kyiv with
cotton supplies totaling 7,000 tons, including 1,300
tons this month. In return, Ukraine pledged to ship
500,000 tons of alumina to Tajikistan in both 1999 and
2000 and increase imports to 600,000 tons in 2001,
Reuters reported. JM

ANOTHER UKRAINIAN PRESIDENTIAL HOPEFUL REGISTERED. The
Central Electoral Commission has registered former
Foreign Minister Hennadiy Udovenko, head of one of the
two splinter groups of the Rukh party, as the sixth
official candidate for the 31 October presidential
polls. Earlier, the commission registered President
Leonid Kuchma, Petro Symonenko, Yevhen Marchuk,
parliamentary speaker Oleksandr Tkachenko, and Oleksandr
Moroz. The commission is still verifying the signatures
supplied by another seven presidential aspirants,
Reuters reported. According to Interfax, a total of 15
aspiring candidates have supplied signatures to the
commission. Meanwhile, Marchuk, Moroz, and Tkachenko
have signed an agreement on fair play in the
presidential race, pledging to restrain themselves from
mud-slinging and other such practices. JM

BRITISH FOREIGN SECRETARY IN ESTONIA. Robin Cook, paying
a one-day visit to Estonia on 28 July, met with
President Lennart Meri, Prime Minister Mart Laar,
Foreign Minister Toomas Hendrik Ilves and Defense
Minister Juri Luik. Speaking about Estonia's EU
integration process, Cook said that Estonia has "earned
its place" among the front-runners and that the British
government will give Estonia its "full support" in its
EU membership bid. With regard to NATO, Cook stressed
that "nothing has changed" since the Washington summit
in April and pointed to cooperation in the defense
sphere between the two countries. Cook also said Estonia
provides a good example of "how a small country
integrates its ethnic minorities," "Eesti Paevaleht"
reported. MH

CLARK IN LITHUANIA. General Wesley Clark, while on a
visit to Lithuania on 27-28 July, confirmed his
departure as NATO Supreme Commander Europe, explaining
that this is a "regular rotation procedure" and that
"each soldier must obey orders," ELTA reported. During
his visit, Clark met with President Valdas Adamkus and
discussed Lithuania's military development, saying that
it is "obvious" that Lithuania's military is "step by
step approaching NATO standards." Clark also inspected
the Rukla training grounds before departing for Latvia.
MH

U.S. CITIZEN CHARGED IN LITHUANIA WITH WAR CRIMES. The
Lithuanian Prosecutor-General's Office on 28 July
charged 77-year-old U.S. citizen Petras Bernotavicius,
who served as an aide-de-camp to a high-ranking German
occupation official during World War II, of conveying
orders to kill civilians. The office also noted that
Antanas Gudelis, charged with similar crimes on 19 July,
served in the same contingent (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 20
July 1999). Bernotavicius currently resides in the U.S.
MH

POLISH PREMIER BLAMES REFORMS FOR CABINET'S LOW RATING.
Jerzy Buzek said on 28 July that his cabinet's low
rating in recent opinion polls is due to the
introduction of reforms affecting Poland's health care,
education, pension and social security, and
administrative systems. He admitted that these reforms
have "defects and shortcomings" but also stressed that
"positive effects of change can be seen in many areas,"
PAP reported. According to a poll carried out by the
CBOS center, public support for the Buzek government
dropped from 36 percent in June to 30 percent this
month. JM

ZEMAN AMONG LEAST POPULAR CZECH POLITICIANS. A public
opinion poll conducted by Sofres-Factum earlier this
month to determine the popularity of politicians from
Milos Zeman's minority cabinet and their "shadow
counterparts" from the Civic Democratic Party shows
the premier among the least popular politicians, CTK
reported on 27 July. Zeman ranks 30th out of 34
politicians included in the survey. For the first time
since he took office last July, Zeman trails former
Prime Minister Vaclav Klaus, who ranks 24th. The most
popular politician is Justice Minister Otakar Motejl
(an independent) while the least popular is Trade and
Industry Minister Miroslav Gregr. MS

CZECH GOVERNMENT APPROVES PLAN TO FIGHT EXTREMISM. The
government on 28 July approved a plan drawn up by
Deputy Premier Pavel Rychetsky and Human Rights
Commissioner Petr Uhl for clamping down on
organizations and movements that act against human
rights, CTK reported. The plan provides guidelines to
be followed by the Ministries of Education, Interior,
Justice, and Labor and Social Affairs. It also lists
organizations that can be dissolved by Interior
Minister Vaclav Grulich. The list includes the
Patriotic Front and the National Front of Castists,
which disseminates propaganda against foreigners,
Jews, Roma, and homosexuals. MS

SLOVAK OPPOSITION SUBMITS REFERENDUM PETITION TO
PRESIDENT. The petition demanding that a referendum be
conducted on the right to use minority languages in
contacts with the authorities and on the privatization
of "strategic enterprises" (see "RFE/RL Newsline", 7
July 1999) was handed to the president's office on 28
July, CTK reported. The petition was signed by 444,823
individuals, considerably more than the 350,000
required to initiate a plebiscite. The youth
organizations of the opposition Movement for a
Democratic Slovakia and the Slovak National Party, as
well as the nationalist Matica slovenska cultural
organization, were behind the referendum drive. MS

SLOVAK PRESIDENT WANTS TO MEET HUNGARIAN COUNTERPART.
Rudolf Schuster on 28 July said that he hopes to meet
with Hungarian President Arpad Goncz "as soon as
possible," Hungarian media reported the next day.
Schuster said that both he and the Slovak government
have fulfilled electoral promises vis-a-vis the
country's Hungarian minority by approving the new law
on minority language use in contacts with the
authorities. He said he does not believe the ruling
coalition is facing a split. The Hungarian Coalition
Party has said it will "reconsider" its participation
in the coalition because the law does not meet some of
its demands. MS

HUNGARIAN PARLIAMENTARY COMMITTEE APPROVES NEW CHIEF
OF STAFF. Opposition representatives on the
parliament's Defense Committee walked out of a 28 July
extraordinary meeting after the pro-government
majority voted against a proposal to allow outgoing
Chief of Staff General Ferenc Vegh to present his
version of the events that led to his resignation (see
"RFE/RL Newsline, 9 July 1999). A report on those
events was presented by Defense Minister Janos Szabo,
Hungarian media reported. Vegh's successor, General
Lajos Fodor, outlined his proposals for reforming and
modernizing the armed forces. He said his priorities
are reducing bureaucracy and the number of senior
officers and creating a smaller and more mobile army.
The daily "Vilaggazdasag" reports on 29 July that the
army's budget is forecast to rise to 192.3 billion
forints (some $809 million) in 2000 from 134 billion
forints this year. MS

CHARGES AGAINST HUNGARIAN JOURNALIST DROPPED. Police
on 28 July said the criminal proceedings against
journalist Laszlo Juszt on suspicion of breaching
state secrets (see "RFE/RL Newsline, 4 June 1999) were
stopped after the Prosecutor-General's Office ruled
that Juszt had not broken any legislation. In his
magazine, "Kriminalis," Juszt had published materials
on the so-called "data-gathering case" against senior
FIDESZ officials. The journalist responded to the
ruling by announcing he will sue for compensation
since the investigation against him had forced the
magazine to cease publication. He said he will also
sue Hungarian Television, which had stopped his
popular program after the investigation was launched.
MS

SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE

GENEROUS PLEDGES FOR KOSOVA. Representatives of more
than 60 countries and dozens of aid agencies and
regional organizations, meeting in Brussels on 28 July,
pledged more than $2 billion for humanitarian and
reconstruction aid for Kosova. The largest pledge was
the U.S. offer of $500 million, followed by $200 million
from Japan, $190 million from Germany, and $145 million
from the U.K. Prior to the meeting, representatives of
several UN agencies and the EU said that $564 million is
needed for immediate aid needs, AP reported. In New
York, the General Assembly authorized a budget of $200
million to finance UN operations in Kosova. Marjatta
Rasi, who is Finland's ambassador to the world
organization and who spoke in the name of the EU, said
she fears that the UN will not provide enough money for
its agencies to carry out their respective mandates. PM

ALBRIGHT ARRIVES IN KOSOVA. U.S. Secretary of State
Madeleine Albright arrived in Prishtina on 29 July for a
one-day visit. She is slated to meet with KFOR's General
Sir Mike Jackson and the UN's Bernard Kouchner. The
previous day in Rome, Albright called on Washington's
allies to show "the same kind of cooperation in peace as
we had during the war." She and her Italian counterpart,
Lamberto Dini, said that the reconstruction process is
proceeding too slowly. PM

ITALY URGES RUGOVA TO RETURN TO KOSOVA. Foreign Minister
Dini told a press conference in Rome on 28 July that the
Italian government has "taken note of the fact that
[Rome-based, Kosovar shadow-state] President [Ibrahim]
Rugova has not been playing an active role since the
arrival of KFOR in Prishtina. The Italian government has
been encouraging Rugova to return to the region and play
the role that his own election [as president entitles]
him to play. He [should become] more active than he has
been so far. We have encouraged him to take part in
meetings with KFOR and UN administrators, which he has
shied away from, and we expect him to go back to
Prishtina soon to resume his political role," Reuters
reported. PM

KOSOVAR LEADER 'PIQUED' AT EXCLUSION FROM SUMMIT. Rugova
said in Rome on 28 July that he is "piqued" that his
Democratic League of Kosova (LDK) was not invited to the
29-30 July Balkan reconstruction summit in Sarajevo. He
played down reports of tensions between the LDK and the
Kosova Liberation Army, saying: "We discuss. There is no
war between us." Reuters reported that "sources close to
[Rugova's] entourage in Rome" told the news agency that
Rugova has no plans to return to Kosova soon (see
"RFE/RL Newsline," 16 July 1999). In Prishtina, Kouchner
told "Corriere della sera" that "there can never be real
change" in Kosova without Rugova. PM

KFOR JAILS THREE MEN FOR KOSOVA MURDERS. A spokesman for
British peacekeepers said in Prishtina on 29 July that
KFOR has jailed three of the five men whom peacekeepers
recently questioned about the murder of 14 Serbian
farmers in Staro Gracko (see "RFE/RL Newsline,' 26 July
1999). KFOR released the other two men. The spokesmen
did not elaborate. In Staro Gracko, Serbian Orthodox
Patriarch Pavle conducted a funeral service for the 14
men. He said that "the only good thing about this
misfortune is that you left the world not as criminals
but as innocent victims." Kosova Serb leader Momcilo
Trajkovic stressed that the international community's
mission in Kosova will fail if KFOR does not prevent
ethnic Albanians from killing Serbs. Several hundred
Serbs attended the funeral, which KFOR troops guarded.
Kouchner also attended. PM

TWO KEY YUGOSLAV RADIO STATIONS RESUME BROADCASTING.
Radio Prishtina went back on the air on 28 July for the
first time since NATO's springtime bombing campaign
damaged its facilities. The broadcast began with an
address by Kouchner. Programs made under UN supervision
were in Albanian, Serbian, and Turkish. In Belgrade, the
private radio station B-92 resumed broadcasting under
the name of B2-92. A spokesman said that the station
will broadcast only music until 2 August, when it will
resume newscasts. He stressed that any interference by
the authorities with the station will lead to
"abandoning the project," AP reported. B2-92 broadcasts
on a frequency assigned by the Belgrade city council to
Studio B Television, which is close to Vuk Draskovic's
Serbian Renewal Movement. The Serbian authorities shut
down B-92 on 2 April. PM

SERBIA'S DJINDJIC TURNS TRIAL INTO PROPAGANDA COUP.
Democratic Party leader Zoran Djindjic told a Belgrade
military court on 28 July that he never received the
army call-up notice that the authorities maintain they
sent him during the conflict in Kosova, RFE/RL's South
Slavic Service reported (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 28 July
1999). He stressed that the proceedings are a "political
trial" and vowed to continue his demands for Yugoslav
President Slobodan Milosevic to resign. The court
decided not to arrest Djindjic, nor did it set a date
for a second hearing. A Democratic spokesman told AP
that Djindjic must appear before a Belgrade local court
on 3 August to face charges that he failed to report a
change of residence to the authorities. PM

ANTI-MILOSEVIC PROTESTS CONTINUE IN SERBIA. Some 4,000
people attended a rally sponsored by the opposition
Alliance for Change in the southern spa town of Vrnjacka
Banja on 28 July. Near Cacak, 30 reservists blocked a
road to intensify demands that the government pay their
back wages for the weeks they spent in Kosova. One
reservist told Reuters that they are determined to get
their back pay before winter. PM

YUGOSLAV COLONEL BLASTS PRO-MILOSEVIC GENERALS. Colonel
Dragan Vuksic, who was a member of the Yugoslav
delegation to the 1995 Dayton Bosnian peace talks, told
the mass-circulation Belgrade daily "Blic" of 28 July
that unnamed, pro-Milosevic "self-styled mouthpieces"
have no right to speak for the entire army. He said that
the unnamed generals support the regime only to "defend
their positions and privileges." This was an apparent
reference to recent pro-Milosevic statements by Generals
Dragoljub Ojdanic and Nebojsa Pavkovic (see "RFE/RL
Newsline," 26 July 1999). Vuksic stressed that "the
current regime" has no right to use the army "as a means
of last resort to stay in power." He added that he has
resigned from the army rather than remain in a situation
in which "others speak on my behalf and against my
beliefs and will." PM

ALBANIA'S MAJKO CALLS ON UN TO TAKE CONTROL OF YUGOSLAV
ARMY. Prime Minister Pandeli Majko said in Tirana on 28
July that the UN should place the Yugoslav army under
international control. He argued that Belgrade's
military "has waged four wars [since 1991] and caused
much suffering to the region. It is the obligation of
the international community to take measures to reduce
Serbia's military capacity and exert control over its
armed forces," dpa reported. PM

ALBANIAN GOVERNMENT TELLS COURTS TO 'STAND UP' TO
CRIMINALS. The government said in a statement on 28 July
that unnamed courts have undermined the police and the
legal system by freeing criminals whom the police have
caught red-handed. Observers note that many witnesses
are afraid to testify against often powerful local gang
members, which prevents courts from convicting the
accused. Moreover, criminals are sometimes able to
intimidate or bribe judges. PM

TAIWAN ANNOUNCES INDUSTRIAL ZONE IN MACEDONIA. Peter
Cheng, who is Taiwan's charge d'affaires in Skopje, said
on 28 July that Taipei will soon make up for time lost
during the Kosova conflict and start construction of a
special industrial zone in Petrovac, near Skopje. The
Taiwanese government hopes to attract investments that
will provide employment for Taiwanese-trained Macedonian
workers. The government has been urging Taiwanese
businessmen to produce goods in Macedonia for European
markets. PM

HAGUE COURT SEEKS LIFE SENTENCE FOR CROAT. Prosecutor
Gregory Kehoe told the Hague-based war crimes tribunal
on 28 July that Croatian General Tihomir Blaskic
deserves a life sentence for his role in the ethnic
cleansing of Muslims from the Lasva valley in 1993.
This is the first time that a prosecutor has demanded
the maximum penalty from the war crimes tribunal for
the former Yugoslavia, Reuters reported. PM

MOLDOVAN CONSTITUTIONAL COURT CANCELS PRIVATIZATION
LAW. The Constitutional Court on 27 July declared
unconstitutional a law on the privatization of the
Moldtelcom company, which passed in 1998 by a simple
majority of the parliamentary deputies present. The
basic law stipulates, however, that so-called organic
laws, which are considered of prime importance, must
be passed by a majority of all deputies elected to the
parliament. The law was contested by deputy Victor
Cecan, who represents the Party of Moldovan
Communists, Infotag reported the next day. MS

BULGARIA HAS LOWEST BIRTH RATE IN EUROPE. Bulgaria's
population is rapidly sinking and the country now has
the lowest birth rate in Europe, Reuters reported on
28 July, citing the National Statistics Institute.
Yordan Kalchev, an expert with the institute, told
journalists that the decline began in 1990. Last year,
the birth rate in Bulgaria was 7.9 per 1,000, while
the mortality rate was 14.4 per 1,000. In the same
year the population decreased by 0.6 percent and now
stands at 8.23 million. If the trend continues, the
total population will fall to 6.91 million by 2020,
Kalchev said, adding that it is also getting older. In
1998, every fourth Bulgarian was a pensioner. MS

END NOTE

ALBANIA'S NEW ENVIRONMENT

By Fabian Schmidt

	Following the end of the war in Kosova, Albania has
begun to return to normality, but its perceptions of
both itself and its surroundings have changed. The
Albanian public's friendliness and hospitality vis-a-vis
the refugees throughout the Kosova crisis and Albania's
support for the international military and humanitarian
effort gave the country a very good image abroad, which
contrasts sharply with its reputation before the crisis
of being crime-ridden, impoverished, and politically
polarized.
	Since early 1997, Albania had become notorious for
its Kalashnikov-waving adolescents who dominated scenes
of civilian unrest that broke out after the collapse of
pyramid investment schemes. But Albania's political
leaders seized the Kosova crisis as a unique opportunity
to show the international community Albania's maturity.
Now the country finds itself on the winning side in what
is in effect a large international alliance. The post-
war order offers Albania a serious prospect of long-term
regional development and prosperity, and it is up to the
Albanians to make sure that prospect becomes reality.
	Plans for regional cooperation in the Balkans are
not new, but the presence of the U.S., the EU, the UN,
and other key international figures instrumental in
ending the Kosova conflict has removed numerous
practical and psychological barriers that were blocking
the country's regional integration with its neighbors.
	The largest barrier to collapse was that between
Albania and Kosova. This development's significance
compares to the fall of the Berlin Wall, despite some
differences. While before 1989 the Berlin Wall served
only the East German regime in helping it prevent its
citizens from fleeing to the democratic West, the
Albanian-Kosova border, for most of its post-1945
history, was a border between two dictatorships that
were highly suspicious of each other. Furthermore, the
border dates back to the creation of the Albanian state
in 1913; therefore, it had a more profound impact on the
cultural and social development on either side of it
than did the Berlin Wall.
	The Rambouillet accord specifies that there must be
free movement of goods, services, and people from and to
Kosova. With the border now open, regional integration
between Albania and Kosova can take place quickly in
terms of economy, trade, culture, and other sectors.
More so than Kosova, Albania will profit from that
integration, which will allow the remote and
underdeveloped mountainous northern regions of Bajram
Curri and Kukes to link up with their Ottoman-era
markets in Gjakova and Prizren. Albanian legislator
Neritan Ceka has already suggested that the government
draw up plans to build a highway to Kosova.
	Similarly, closer integration with Montenegro is
now possible. In late June, the Yugoslav federation
withdrew its border controls between Montenegro and
Albania, thus opening the way for free movement of
people. Now it is up to Tirana and Podgorica to regulate
the border and customs regime in a mutually beneficial
way. Both sides have already made clear that they want
to promote a liberal border regime.
	To the south, Athens is interested in linking its
Adriatic coastal region with central Europe through a
highway via Albania, Montenegro, and Croatia. Albanian
Foreign Minister Paskal Milo and his Greek counterpart,
George Papandreou, agreed in Athens in early June to put
that project high on the agenda of the Sarajevo
stability summit that began on 29 July. The two met
shortly thereafter with their Macedonian counterpart,
Aleksandar Dimitrov, and agreed to launch a smaller-
scale regional project designed to facilitate cross-
border travel for people living in the frontier region.
	Another result of the crisis has been the
substantial strengthening of many Macedonians' trust
toward both their own ethnic Albanian minority and
towards Albania. Many Macedonian politicians and voters
long feared that an explosion of the Kosova crisis could
lead to a breakup of Macedonia. During the crisis,
almost a quarter of a million Kosovar refugees entered
Macedonia. This, however, did not lead to any moves by
Macedonia's Albanians against the Macedonian state,
which remained stable. In return, Skopje has shown
itself willing to make concessions, including permitting
university education in the Albanian language, which the
previous Macedonian government had rejected for fear of
fostering "separatism."
	Albania thus faces a much friendlier neighborhood
than it did only a short time ago. But Albanians will
have to show that they are capable of taking advantage
of the new opportunities. Albania's opposition
Democratic Party took a first step toward ending the
political polarization that has long bedeviled
Albania. On 17 July, an extraordinary party congress
voted unanimously to end the party's 10-month boycott
of the parliament, which the Democrats had launched in
response to the killing of one of their legislators.
	Party leader Sali Berisha told the delegates
that: "Fulfilling the request of the U.S. government
to return to the parliament is the least we could do,
after all that they did for Albanians," indicating
that the move was linked to the U.S. involvement in
ending the Kosova crisis. Berisha added that "the
Democratic Party commits itself to creating a new
political climate where nobody will be excluded
anymore."
	But not all Albanians have proven responsible
enough to promote a vision for a common future. Another
Albanian way of returning to "normal" was evident in
Vlora on 10 July, when local citizens armed with machine
guns stormed and looted an Italian-run refugee camp. If
Albania remains unable to tackle the problem of crime,
it will be difficult for its neighbors to take the next
large step of relaxing the border regime or establishing
a customs union.

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1996 Friends and Partners
Natasha Bulashova, Greg Cole
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Updated: 1998-11-

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©1996 Friends and Partners
Please write to us with any comments, questions or suggestions -- Natasha Bulashova, Greg Cole