Old age is the most unexpected of all the things that happen to a man. - Leon Trotsky
RFE/RL NEWSLINE

RFE/RL NEWSLINE Vol. 1, No. 126, Part II, 26 September 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

ECONOMIC NEWS from this week's annual meeting of the IMF and World Bank is
online at RFE/RL's Web site:
http://www.rferl.org/nca/special/imfmeeting/index.html

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Headlines, Part II

* BELARUS DENIES ACCREDITATION TO ORT CORRESPONDENTS

* BOSNIAN SERB WAR CRIMINAL SENTENCED IN GERMANY

* ALBANIA ASKS SKOPJE NOT TO SHOOT ITS CITIZENS ON BORDER

End Note
ROMANIA POLISHES GLOBAL IMAGE

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EAST-CENTRAL EUROPE

BELARUS DENIES ACCREDITATION TO ORT CORRESPONDENTS. The
Belarusian Foreign Ministry on 25 September announced it will not
give temporary accreditation to Russian Public Television (ORT)
correspondent Vladimir Fosenko, ITAR-TASS reported. It added that
it has denied permanent accreditation to the ORT crew of Pavel
Sheremet, who remains under arrest on charges of illegally crossing
the Belarusian-Lithuanian border in late July. Also on 25 September,
Belarusian prosecutors announced they are extending by 30 days the
investigation into the cases of Sheremet and two other ORT
journalists, Belarusian media reported. The announcement came
shortly before the deadline for holding Sheremet without trial is due
to expire. A spokesman for the Belarusian KGB said the trial of the
three journalists will begin as soon as the lawyers say they are
ready.

EU ISSUES LOAN TO UKRAINE. The EU on 25 September issued a 100
million ECU loan ($110 million) to Kyiv to help improve the country's
balance of payments situation, ITAR-TASS reported. This is the
second tranche of an EU credit to Ukraine for this purpose. The first
installment was paid out in November 1996.

ESTONIAN PRESIDENT MEETS RUSSIAN MINORITY
REPRESENTATIVES. Lennart Meri on 25 September met with
Vladimir Velman, editor-in-chief of the daily "Estonia," and other
representatives of the Russian minority, ETA reported, citing
"Postimees." The meeting came one day after "Estonia" had handed
over to the president a petition with more than 10,000 signatures
calling for Russian-language secondary education to continue beyond
the year 2007. Under a recent law, the transition to instruction in
Estonian is take place within the next 10 years. Velman said later
that Meri understands the concern of the Russian-speaking
population but recommends that no measures be taken for the time
being.

LITHUANIAN PREMIER IN GERMANY. Gediminas Vagnorius told
journalists in Frankfurt on 25 September that Vilnius will do
whatever it takes to become a member of the EU, dpa and Reuters
reported. He noted that privatization in Lithuania is 95 percent
complete, with only sectors such as transport, energy, and
telecommunications remaining to be privatized. He also said Vilnius
wants to end the currency board and give the Central Bank direct
control over the litas, adding that the process is proceeding "step by
step." Vagnorius was in Frankfurt to attend the opening of the first
foreign office of the Lithuanian Economic Development Agency,
intended to promote investment in Lithuania. Germany is Lithuania's
largest trade partner within the EU.

POST-ELECTION MANEUVERING IN POLAND. Premier Wlodzimierz
Cimoszewicz has resigned following the defeat of his Democratic Left
Alliance in the 21 September elections, PAP reported on 25
September. The leaders of Solidarity Election Action (AWS), which
won the election and has 201 of the 450 parliamentary seats,
announced they will form a new party called the Social Movement
for Solidarity Electoral Action. They are continuing talks with other
groups about the possibility of a coalition. Meanwhile, AWS leader
Marian Krzaklewski said his group has yet to decide which of its
members should become prime minister. He told journalists in
Warsaw that "there are 10 to 15 candidates" for that job.

CZECH CABINET APPROVES BALANCED BUDGET. The government on
25 September unanimously agreed on a final version of a balanced
budget for 1998. Expenditures are reduced from 30.9 percent to 29.2
percent of GDP or 1.1 billion crowns ($33 million), mainly in the area
of agriculture and pensions. An increased tax on cigarettes is
expected to boost revenues by 1.2 billion crowns ($36.2 million).
Funding from the EU's PHARE program is saving the budget 400
million crowns in outlays for repairing damage from the July floods.
The opposition Social Democrats and Communists have pledged to
vote against the budget in the parliament.

BRATISLAVA WELCOMES HAGUE RULING... The 25 September ruling
by the International Court of Justice in the Hague on the Gabickovo-
Nagymaros hydropower project has been welcomed by Bratislava.
The Slovak government called the Hague decision a "legal victory and
a success for Slovak diplomacy." It said it hopes that it will be
possible to restore cooperation with Hungary over the use of the
Danube River. The court ruling, which is final and cannot be
appealed, said that both states had violated international law (see
"RFE/RL Newsline," 25 September 1997)

...WHILE BUDAPEST IS DISAPPOINTED. The Hungarian government
said it accepts the Hague verdict, but political state secretary Janos
Nemcsok said the ruling was "slightly" below expectations. "Magyar
Hirlap" on 26 September commented "we have no alternative except
to find a mutually acceptable solution.... We must negotiate..., billions
of dollars are involved." Leader of the environmentalist Danube
Circle group Janos Vargha expressed disappointment, saying the
judgment did not give sufficient weight to environmental
considerations.

SLOVAK ROMA SEEK TO REDUCE UNEMPLOYMENT. The Civic
Association of Roma Self-Administration in the town of Prievidza is
urging local Roma to return to the professions their forebears
traditionally practiced. The move is a bid to reduce unemployment
among the local Romani population, currently 60-80 percent.
Traditional Romani crafts include making troughs and brooms, basket
weaving, and blacksmithing. Roma activist Marek Balaz told "Sme"
that requalification courses in traditional Romani crafts are being
organized beginning next month in cooperation with municipal
authorities.

OPPOSITION AGREEMENTS IN HUNGARY. Democratic Forum chairman
Sandor Lezsak has confirmed reports of an agreement between his
party and the Alliance of Free Democrats (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 25
September 1997). Meanwhile, Smallholders' Party chairman Josef
Torgyan and Christian Democrat leader Gyorgy Giczy signed an
agreement whereby the Smallholders will "provide every assistance"
to the Christian Democrats in the 1998 parliamentary elections. The
two parties will field joint candidate lists if an amendment to the
electoral law, currently under discussion in the parliament, is passed.
That amendment would do away with the provision requiring each
party running on joint lists to receive 5 percent support in order to
gain representation.

SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE

BOSNIAN SERB WAR CRIMINAL SENTENCED IN GERMANY. A
Dusseldorf court on 26 September sentenced Bosnian Serb extremist
Nikola Jorgic to life imprisonment for committing genocide, murder,
kidnapping, and assault in the former Yugoslavia. The trial was held
in Germany at the request of the International War Crimes Tribunal
in The Hague. The court found Jorgic, 50, responsible for two
massacres in the Bosnian villages of Grapska and Sevarlije, where 29
Bosnian Muslims were found slaughtered in 1992. He was convicted
on 11 counts of genocide and 30 counts of murder. Jorgic, who lived
in Germany for 23 years, was arrested at Dusseldorf airport in 1995
upon returning from Bosnia. He has dismissed the charges as "lies"
and claims to be the victim of mistaken identity.

ZUBAK COMPLAINS ABOUT UPCOMING BOSNIAN SERB ELECTIONS.
Kresimir Zubak, the Bosnian Croat member of Bosnia's tripartite
presidency, filed a written complaint on 25 September with the
international community's high representative, Carlos Westendorp,
on the upcoming elections in the Republika Srpska. The previous day,
Bosnian Serb President Biljana Plavsic and Momcilo Krajisnik, the
Muslim member of the Bosnian presidency, recently reached an
agreement with Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic on early
parliamentary elections and on a vote for both Plavsic's and
Krajisnik's posts (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 25 September 1997). Zubak
said that elections in the republic can be organized only by all-
Bosnian agencies, not on the basis of an agreement between officials
in one of the two entities.

FINAL RESULTS OF SERBIAN PRESIDENTIAL ELECTIONS. According to
the final results of the first round of the 21 September presidential
elections, Zoran Lilic, Socialist candidate and ally of Yugoslav
President Milosevic, won 35.7 percent of the vote. Ultra-nationalist
Vojislav Seselj received 27.28 percent and opposition leader Vuk
Draskovic 20.64 %. Lilic will face Seselj in a run-off on 5 October.

SERBIAN POLICE DISRUPT PRISTINA PROMENADE. Serbian police, in
an apparent bid to put stop to the traditional evening promenade of
ethnic Albanians on the main street of the Kosovar capital, directed
vehicles to drive down the main street, despite an evening ban on
traffic. Numerous young people, nevertheless, continued to
congregate on the sidewalks, the Kosovo Information Center reported
on 25 September. Uniformed and plainclothes police harassed and
beat at least two students. Meanwhile, some 300 Serbian police,
backed by armored personnel carriers and helicopters, harassed
dozens of ethnic Albanians in four villages in central Kosovo on 23-
24 September. Several villagers were beaten. The action followed
reports of an alleged attack on a police patrol near Glina.

SLOVENIA NAMES NEW FOREIGN MINISTER. The parliament in an
extraordinary session on 25 September appointed Boris Frlec,
currently ambassador in Bonn, as foreign minister, RFE/RL's South
Slavic service reported. Frlec says he sees Slovenia's foreign policy
priorities as improving ties with its neighbors and joining the EU.
Frlec is a member of Prime Minister Janez Drnovsek's Liberal
Democratic Party. He is Slovenia's seventh foreign minister since
Ljubljana declared independence in June 1991.

ALBANIAN POLICE OPEN CRIMINAL CASES IN SARANDA. Criminal
police in the southern seaside resort have launched criminal
proceedings against 40 Albanians accused of murder, rape, robbery,
and kidnapping during unrest earlier this year, ATA reported on 25
September. So far, only six alleged perpetrators are in custody. The
prosecutor's office and the courts have yet to join in the crackdown.
Meanwhile, Italian police returned 119 Albanians lacking documents
to the Albanian port of Durres on 24-25 September. Half of those
sent back were young women detained for alleged prostitution. In
September alone, Italy has deported some 2,500 Albanians to Durres.

ALBANIA ASKS SKOPJE NOT TO SHOOT ITS CITIZENS ON BORDER.
Albanian Foreign Minister Paskal Milo asked his Macedonian
counterpart, Blagoi Handziski, during talks in New York on 24
September to help ensure that Albanian citizens are not shot when
trying to cross the border illegally. He said the border crossing at
Bllata, closed due to unrest earlier this year, should be reopened. The
two ministers agreed on holding negotiations at expert level to
continue work bilateral agreements of an economic nature and on the
free movement of citizens. Milo also expressed his government's
concern over problems facing Macedonia's ethnic Albanian
population

ROMANIAN COALITION TACKLES CONTROVERSIAL LEGISLATION. A
joint commission of representatives of the National Peasant Party
Christian Democratic (PNTCD) and the Hungarian Democratic
Federation of Romania (UDMR) on 25 September agreed to draw up a
"mutually acceptable" version of the amended education law. The
commission was created the previous day. PNTCD chairman Ion
Diaconescu said the commission's decisions will be binding on all
coalition members, RFE/RL's Bucharest bureau reported. Diaconescu
said that if Senate Education Commission chairman George Pruteanu
continues to stick to his position on the law, he will have to "face the
consequences." UDMR chairman Bela Marko said several PNTCD
representatives have displayed extreme nationalist positions similar
to those of the opposition. The commission will also examine the
amended Law on Public Administration, which allows bilingual street
signs, and the draft law on the national minorities.

ROMANIAN PARLIAMENT PROMOTES WOMEN'S REPRESENTATION.
The Chamber of Deputies on 25 September adopted an amendment to
the law on political parties aimed at promoting representation of
women in the legislature. The amendment stipulates that subsidies
for each party will be increased proportional to the number of its
women members of the parliament. The amended law will go into
effect if the entire text of the law is adopted by the chamber and
subsequently approved by the Senate. Also on 25 September, Foreign
Minister Adrian Severin met with his Russian counterpart, Yevgenii
Primakov, in New York. They agreed that in October, the two sides
will resume at the level of expert the talks on a bilateral basic treaty.

RUSSIA, UKRAINE DISCUSS TRANSDNIESTR REGION. Russian Deputy
Foreign Minister Boris Pastukhov and his Ukrainian counterpart,
Boris Gudyma, met in Moscow on 25 September to discuss how to
advance the dialogue between Chisinau and Tiraspol, ITAR-TASS
reported. The Russian Foreign Ministry released a statement saying
that Russia and Ukraine fundamentally agree on how to settle the
conflict between the breakaway Transdniestr region and Moldova.
The statement said that Moscow and Kyiv believe in "granting a
special status to the region on condition of observing the principle of
the territorial integrity of the Republic of Moldova."

RUSSIAN DEPUTY PREMIER ON FATE OF WEAPONS IN
TRANSDNIESTER. In an interview with Interfax on 25 September,
Valerii Serov said that during his recent visit to Chisinau and
Tiraspol, it was agreed to destroy or sell that part of the Russian
arsenal that will not be wihdrawn from the Transdniester region. He
rejected the Transdniestrian claim to ownership of the assets but
said that "proceeds from sales to third countries will be divided
among the three [Russian, Moldovan, and Transdniestrian] sides." He
added this would "compensate" Tiraspol for the stationing of Russian
troops in the region. He also said it was "important that the weapons
not be taken over by the Transdniestrians or the Moldovans or
be...purchased by dubious commercial organizations."

BULGARIAN-RUSSIAN RELATIONS TENSE. Interior Minister Bogomil
Bonev on 25 September accused Russia of trying to blackmail
Bulgaria with threats to cut off natural gas supplies unless it pays
what he suggested are unfair high prices. Bonev said Russia must
overcome its "imperial attitude" toward Sofia. Other Bulgarian
officials noted that the Russian company Gazprom wants to charge
prices higher than those for deliveries to other European countries,
RFE/RL's Sofia bureau reported. Also on 25 September, AFP reported
that Russia has filed an official protest for having been omitted from
a list of countries invited to attend a security meeting in Sofia on 3
October. NATO and Partnership for Peace countries are to attend the
meeting.

END NOTE

ROMANIA POLISHES GLOBAL IMAGE

by Robert Lyle

At the annual meeting of the World Bank and IMF in Hong Kong,
Romania has made a bid to improve its image in the global financial
community. Taking the opportunity offered by seminar sponsored by
those two economic institutions, officials from Bucharest told global
investors that the country now has its basic finances in order and
will be forging ahead with a revised and improved privatization
program.
        Romanian National Bank Governor Mugur Isarescu told the
seminar that while the country has been "lagging behind" the rest of
the region in shifting to a market economy (private business
accounted for just 52 percent of the national economy in 1996), it is
now rapidly catching up. The private sector should account for at
least two-thirds of Romanian gross domestic product by next year.
Similarly, while Romania has been slow in drawing foreign direct
investment--it totaled around $624 million dollars in 1996, according
to the UN World Investment Report -- Isarescu says that he expects
it to jump to $1 billion by the end of this year.
        The country has set up a new privatization program,
reorganized and redrawn by the State Ownership Fund. The fund's
director, Adriana Miron, told the seminar that the organization is
taking a market-oriented approach, valuing enterprises at their
market value rather than at book value, and then offering the
"largest and most attractive" first. The shift from book to market
value makes a critical difference in the program. Some firms will sell
for a lot more than book value because they have attractive futures.
Older, worn-out heavy industry firms, which were costly to build but
have little value on today's market, will be priced far lower.
        Miron said authorities learned many lessons from the first
program, which managed to privatize only 3,000 enterprises--mostly
small and medium-sized--in three years. She points out they
privatized another 1,300 at the end of August and expect to have the
total privatized to nearly 5,000 by the end of this year. "Our goal is
to privatize 50 companies each week," she said.
        Miron said the first response to the changes has been very
encouraging. The fund has begun to run advertisements in
international finance and business publications about some of its first
major offerings and is already receiving a large number of inquiries.
        Isarescu says that state-owned banks will to be among the
firms privatized. Of the five major state banks, which currently
control 70 percent of the banking sector in Romania, three are being
prepared for privatization. He said he expects at least two to been
sold off by the middle of next year. The rest of the banking sector in
Romania is filled by around 30 licensed banks and 15 foreign banks.
Isarescu says the central bank and the government are reviewing
what further reforms might be needed for the country's banking
system, including a commercial banking supervisory agency similar
to those in Western nations.
        A private investment banker, Antonius van der Heijden, head
of the Dutch ING Barings bank operation in Romania, told the seminar
that for the first time since the end of Nicolae Ceausescu's regime,
Bucharest seems headed in the right direction. "There is a good team
in the government and they are doing a good job," he said. For the
first time, there is a "totally changed perception of Romania." The
country could be the "next European tiger," he said.
        The owner of a Canadian textile company which has had joint
ventures in Romania since 1965, J. A. Seroussi, echoed Van der
Heijden's endorsement. He said while nothing is ever perfect, he is
more optimistic now than he has ever been about investing in
Romania.
        Former World Bank treasurer Donald Roth, managing partner of
a European investment group, acted as moderator at the seminar. He
said there is no question that Romania is at "a crossroads." Which
path it follows into the future depends on Bucharest's making good
choices now, he added.

The author is a Washington-based RFE/RL correspondent.






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