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ALBANIAN DEFECTS

A prominent Albanian writer announced Thursday in Paris that he was seeking political asylum in France. The action was a blow to the government of President Ramiz Alia, which has been slowly moving Albania away from an isolationist strain of communism. The Tirana government has been host of a conference of the six Balkan foreign ministers, who completed their meeting on Thursday with a joint communique endorsing "pluralistic democracy" and "the protection and promotion of human rights." The writer, Ismail Kadare, said he decided to defect because he had become disillusioned with the Alia government. In a letter he sent three days ago from France to Alia, the 54-year-old writer said: "Until today I have tried to soften the regime to the extent that it is authorized in Albania. In the course of my meetings and an exchange of letters which I had with the president last spring I expressed very clearly the necessity for a rapid, profound and complete democratization of the country. Because there is no possibility of legal opposition in Albania I have chosen this course which I never wished to take and which I will not recommend to others." Kadare, a member of Parliament and a deputy chairman of the Albanian Democratic Front, is undoubtedly the most popular figure in this country of 3.3-million people. For Kadare to leave Albania is comparable to Mark Twain's asking for political asylum in England, an Albanian intellectual said Thursday night.HERO REMEMBERED. The remains of Jan Palach, a student who burned himself to death to protest the 1968 Soviet-led invasion of Czechoslovakia, were transferred Thursday to one of Prague's most honored burial places. The ceremony was attended by leading officials of the non-communist government, including President Vaclav Havel. Palach's self-immolation has come to symbolize opposition to the 1968 invasion, which the Soviets launched to wipe out fledgling reforms and restore hard-line rule. Havel, himself a former dissident, was arrested by communist authorities on Jan. 16, 1989, as he tried to place flowers in memory of Palach on Prague's Wenceslas Square. Havel's arrest and eight-month prison sentence touched off street protests and a bloody crackdown. Eleven months later, a peaceful revolution toppled communist authorities, leading to Havel's selection as president. Palach was originally buried in Prague's Olsany cemetery. In 1973, at the communist government's instigation, his remains were cremated, and his ashes were moved to his native village of Vsetaty, 18 miles north of Prague. Thursday they were moved back to Olsany cemetery.

EC MEETING. The 12 leaders of the European Community meet in Rome this weekend at a summit called to discuss the Persian Gulf crisis, the EC's relations with the Soviet Union and other East European countries and the process of economic, monetary and political union. Members of the former East bloc are hoping the EC will debate a structure that could one day embrace them.

HELP FOR ORPHANS. The EC Commission on Thursday granted $34.4-million in emergency relief aid for 130,000 orphans in Romania. The aid will be used to pay for heating fuel at many orphanages, as well as to provide medicine, infant food and spare parts to fix some out-of-order heating systems, the commission said. Many of the orphans are suffering from AIDS through use of infected needles.

GORBACHEV TRIP. Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev, faced with crippling economic problems at home, will get a helping hand from Spain today during his first visit to the country. Spain sees common ground between the Soviet Union's current reform drive and its own transition to democracy after dictator Francisco Franco's death in 1975. Spain has offered Moscow a $1-billion credit line to purchase Spanish goods and the two sides have drawn up more than a dozen agreements ranging from industrial cooperation to tourism and consular matters. Gorbachev arrives in Madrid basking in the glory of the first Nobel Peace prize ever awarded to a communist leader. But he faces a barrage of criticism at home over food shortages.

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