The greatest of faults, I should say, is to be conscious of none. - Thomas Carlyle 1975-1881
RFE/RL NEWSLINE

RFE/RL NEWSLINE Vol. 1, No. 138, Part II, 14 October 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

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Headlines, Part II

*SLOVAK GOVERNMENT SHUTS DOWN INDEPENDENT RADIO


*SOLANA ADDRESSES NORTH ATLANTIC ASSEMBLY


*BOSNIAN SERBS AGREE ON PARLIAMENTARY VOTE

End Note
SERBIAN ELECTION COVERAGE REVEALS INTOLERANCE ALSO AMONG
OPPOSITION
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EAST-CENTRAL EUROPE

SLOVAK GOVERNMENT SHUTS DOWN INDEPENDENT RADIO. A
subdivision of the government-controlled Slovak Telecommunication,
which owns all television and radio transmitters in the country, has
shut down Radio Twist, the only domestic private station in Slovakia
covering news, Slovak media reported on 13 October.
Radiocommunication said it took this step because Radio Twist has
failed to pay some 170,000 Slovak crowns ($5,300) for using the
company's transmitters. RFE/RL's Slovak service reports that Slovak
Television and Radio currently owes Slovak Telecommunication $1
billion crowns (some $30 million), as does the private, government-
close television station VTV. A spokesmen for Radio Twist said the
station is current in its payments and that Radiocommunication's
action is politically motivated. Prime Minister Vladimir Meciar
recently accused Radio Twist of "lying" and said he favored new
legislation to prevent it from continuing to operate the way it had
been to date.

BELARUSIAN COURT FINES TWO DEMONSTRATORS. A Minsk court on
13 October fined Pavel Serinets and Yevgeniy Skochko $10 each for
taking part in the 12 October demonstration, at which an effigy of
Belarusian President Alyaksandr Lukashenka was burned, Interfax
reported. Meanwhile, speaking at the opening of a hospital
established near Minsk to treat victims of the Chernobyl accident,
Lukashenka praised Austria for its assistance in setting up the
facility and chided Russia and Ukraine for not doing more, Belarusian
media reported.

UKRAINIAN PRESIDENT THREATENS TO VETO ELECTION LAW. Leonid
Kuchma will veto the election law passed by the parliament in
September unless lawmakers make small changes to bring the bill
into line with the constitution, Interfax reported on 13 October,
quoting presidential administration chief Yevhen Kushmaryov told .
Kuchma has until 16 October to sign the bill if the parliament
modifies it or veto the measure if it does not.

PLATOON LEADER SPEAKS OUT ON ESTONIAN TRAINING TRAGEDY. In
an interview with the daily "Eesti Paevaleht" on 13 October,
Lieutenant Jaanus Karm accused the commanders of the Estonian
peacekeeping company and the Baltic Peacekeeping Battalion of
negligence, ETA reported. Karm was head of the unit that lost 14
members during a training exercise in mid-September. While not
seeking to shift the blame from himself, Karm said he had not
received any instructions from his immediate superiors. "There was a
total confusion about who was responsible for what," he told the
newspaper, adding that he was forced to take over the duties of the
company and battalion commanders. The security police have found
Karm to be solely responsible for the tragedy, but no official charges
have been brought so far.

DUTCH OFFICIAL ADVISES VILNIUS NOT TO PUSH FOR EU ENTRY
TALKS. During his visit to Vilnius on 13 October, Dutch Foreign
Minister Hans van Mierlo advised Lithuania not to push for inclusion
in early negotiations on EU membership, BNS and dpa reported. Van
Mierlo told reporters that negotiations are a waste of time and
energy for countries that still have a long way to go to meet EU
requirements. But he stressed that The Netherlands' is willing to
continue helping Vilnius prepare for EU entry. Lithuanian Foreign
Minister Algirdas Saudargas said his country will take the Dutch
recommendations seriously but added that the criteria for EU
membership are not specific enough for Lithuania to comply with.
During his two-day visit, Van Mierlo met with President Algirdas
Brazauskas, Prime Minister Gediminas Vagnorius, and parliamentary
chairman Vytautas Landsbergis.

DISPUTES MAR POLISH COALITION TALKS. Solidarity Electoral Action
leader Marian Krzaklewski has said he will present a candidate for
prime minister to President Alexander Kwasniewski by 16 October,
Polish media reported. But Krzaklewski said he is unwilling to give
his coalition partner, the Freedom Union, the two posts it has
demanded: the deputy premiership for Leszek Balcerowicz and the
foreign portfolio for Bronislaw Geremek. Such appointments,
Krzaklewski said, would fly in the face of the electorate's will.

POLES GAIN CONFIDENCE IN BANKING SYSTEM. Forty percent of Poles
currently put their savings in banks, the highest figure since the fall
of communism in Poland, according to the results of a September poll
published in the 13 October issue of "Rzeczpospolita." The poll also
found that only 3 percent of Poles now keep their savings at home.
In other news, intelligence chief General Andrzej Kapkoski has issued
instructions that no Polish spy should spend more than six hours a
day on surveillance if the weather is bad, no pregnant spy should
work more than eight hours a day, and no spy should put in more
than 40 hours a week, PAP reported on 11 October.

HUNGARIAN CONSTITUTIONAL COURT OPPOSES GOVERNMENT
REFERENDUM INITIATIVE. The Constitutional Court on 13 October
ruled that the parliament's decision to use the government's wording
of the referendum on land ownership by foreigners is
unconstitutional. The court pointed out that the opposition-backed
wording had been supported by more than 200,000 signatures and
argued that, under the basic law, the opposition version must take
priority over the government one. The government coalition
responded by announcing it wants the 16 November referendum to
be on NATO accession only. The opposition, however, insists that the
referendum include the one question on NATO entry and the two
questions on foreign land ownership as formulated by the opposition.

SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE

SOLANA ADDRESSES NORTH ATLANTIC ASSEMBLY. Addressing the
closing session of the North Atlantic Assembly in Bucharest on 13
October, NATO Secretary-General Javier Solana said the costs of
expanding the alliance are minor compared with the advantages of
admitting new members. Solana called for a continued NATO
presence in Bosnia, saying it would be a "political, military, and moral
mistake" for SFOR to withdraw from the region (the peacekeepers'
mandate runs out in June 1998). Earlier, the assembly adopted a
resolution calling for expansion to continue so as to include Romania,
Slovenia, the Baltic States, "and other southeast European countries."
RFE/RL's Bucharest bureau reported. that the reference to "other
southeast European countries" was added at the insistence of the
German delegation.

BOSNIAN SERBS AGREE ON PARLIAMENTARY VOTE. Republika Srpska
President Biljana Plavsic and Momcilo Krajisnik, the Serbian member
of the Bosnian joint presidency, agreed in Belgrade on 13 October in
talks with Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic to hold
parliamentary elections on 23 November. Plavsic and Krajisnik had
decided in Belgrade in September on a 15 November vote, but the
Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe asked for a later
date so that it would have enough time to organize the elections.
Krajisnik and the other hard-liners opposed the delay. In the
summer, Plavsic dissolved the current parliament, which is
dominated by her hard-line rivals. Krajisnik said in Belgrade on 13
October that elections for his job and for that of Plavsic will take
place on 7 December, as he and Plavsic agreed in September. It is
unclear, however, whether the presidential elections were included
in the 13 October agreement.

NATO TO KEEP CONTROL OF BOSNIAN SERB TRANSMITTERS. A
spokesman for Carlos Westendorp, the international community's
chief representative in Bosnia, said in Sarajevo on 13 October that
SFOR peacekeepers will not return four television relay stations to
Krajisnik's hard-line Pale Television. Westendorp noted that the
Serbs have refused NATO's demand that Pale sack the current
television management before the transmitters are returned (see
"RFE/RL Newsline," 13 October 1997).

KEY BOSNIAN TOWN TO HAVE MULTI-ETHNIC POLICE. Robert
Farrand, the international community's chief administrator of the
strategic town of Brcko, ordered on 13 October that Muslims and
Croats be included in the Serb-run police force. He said that
international experts will soon arrive to train the force, which will be
headed by a Serb with Muslim and Croatian deputies. Local Serbian
officials, however, called Farrand's order "drastic" and difficult to
implement. In the 13-14 September local elections, Serbian
nationalists won the single largest bloc of votes in the new town
council, but no ethnic faction secured a majority. Serbs were in a
minority in pre-war Brcko but have held the town since the start of
the war in 1992.

REWARD POSTED FOR INFORMATION ON BOSNIAN TERRORISTS. The
Sarajevo local authorities on 13 October announced a $30,000 reward
for information leading to the uncovering of a presumed Muslim
terrorist group that has recently attacked Roman Catholic institutions
(see "RFE/RL Newsline," 13 October 1997). The federal government
ordered the city authorities to install police video cameras in some
parts of downtown Sarajevo in the wake of the incidents. Meanwhile
in Tripoli, Libya formally protested Bosnia's recent decision to
recognize Israel. And in Dhaka, Bangladeshi President Shahabuddin
Ahmed told visiting Bosnian Gen. Rasim Delic that Bangladesh will
help rebuild Bosnia's economy and defense forces. Some 20 Bosnian
officer cadets are currently training in Bangladesh.

CROATIAN ARCHBISHOP DISTANCES CHURCH FROM STATE. Josip
Bozanic, Zagreb's new archbishop, said on 13 October that "the
[Roman Catholic] Church does not wish to be close either to the
government or to the governing party," the Croatian Democratic
Community (HDZ), an RFE/RL correspondent reported from Zagreb.
Bozanic's statement suggests that the Church intends to continue the
policy of former Cardinal Franjo Kuharic, who resisted the
government's and the HDZ's attempts to co-opt the Church as a
political ally. Kuharic strongly defended Church interests in such
matters as control over religious instruction in the schools and in the
military. But he also tended to steer clear of overtly political issues,
except when he repeatedly criticized the war with the Muslims in
1993.

ALBANIA'S LAST COMMUNIST PRIME MINISTER DIES. Adil Carcani
has died of heart disease in Tirana, state media reported on 14
October. Carcani was a protege of dictator Enver Hoxha and prime
minister from 1982 until February 1991, when student-led protests
ended communist rule. The postcommunist government imprisoned
Carcani and some other former leaders for abuse of power, but
Carcani was later freed because of poor health. During the anarchy
earlier this year, Ramiz Alia, Hoxha's successor, fled Albania to join
his son in France.

ROMANIAN PREMIER ADDRESSES NORTH ATLANTIC ASSEMBLY...
Victor Ciorbea told the North Atlantic Assembly on 13 October that
his cabinet's aim is not to gain access to NATO but to turn Romania
into a country that the Western alliance and the EU would like to
have as one of their members. Ciorbea reviewed the economic and
legislative reforms undertaken so far by the government as well as
the administrative measures implemented to improve inter-ethnic
relations. He said economic legislation aimed at attracting foreign
investments and a revised penal code that meets international
standards will be submitted to the parliament in the near future.

...MEETS HIGH SCHOOL STUDENTS' DEMANDS. Following his meeting
with representatives of high school students on 13 October, Ciorbea
announced that matriculation examinations in 1997 will be
conducted, as previously, in four compulsory subjects and an
additional optional one. Under a new curriculum, students would
have taken examinations in seven subjects (see "RFE/RL Newsline,"
13 October 1997). It was also agreed to set up a council composed of
representatives of high school students and of the Education Ministry
at county and central levels, RFE/RL's Bucharest bureau reported.

MOLDOVAN OFFICIALS DENY 'FEDERALIZATION' REPORTS.
Presidential counselor Anatol Taranu on 13 October denied media
reports that Moldova's de facto federalization is provided for by the
document on which experts from the two sides of the
Transdniestrian conflict agreed in Moscow recently. Taranu said the
document makes no mention of a Transdniestrian separate
parliament, government, anthem, or state symbols. He said the
document reflects the principle of "Transdniester [as] an integral part
of the Moldovan republic," RFE/RL's Chisinau bureau reported. He
refused to reveal the contents of the agreement, saying that the two
sides reached an understanding whereby details will be made public
only after Moldovan and Transdniestrian leaders have approved the
document. Constantin Lazar, a member of the Moldovan delegation to
the 5-9 October negotiations in the Russian capital, said the
agreement ensures Chisinau will have "sole competence [over]
Moldovan citizenship, foreign policy, customs, and frontiers."

BULGARIAN, RUSSIAN FOREIGN MINISTERS AGREE ON MEETING.
Nadezhda Mihailova and her Russian counterpart, Yevgenii Primakov,
have agreed to meet in Moscow on 1 December for what the Russian
Foreign Ministry described as a "working meeting." Bilateral relations
have been particularly strained recently over accusations in the
Bulgarian media that Russia is trying to impose unfair conditions for
its natural gas deliveries and that the Russian ambassador to Sofia is
trying to undermine Bulgaria's efforts to integrate into Euro-Atlantic
structures. ITAR-TASS on 13 October said Mihailova's visit will be in
preparation for a summit of the two countries' presidents later in
December.

END NOTE

SERBIAN ELECTION COVERAGE REVEALS INTOLERANCE ALSO AMONG
OPPOSITION

Yasha Lange

        Serbian State Television's (RTS) coverage of the recent
parliamentary and presidential election campaign was fundamentally
flawed. The evening news featured endless rallies of the ruling
party's candidate. Each day, several red ribbons were shown being
cut (at the opening of highways, hospitals, construction sites, and so
forth). Favorable economic figures were quoted by government
ministers. And opposition candidates were heard criticizing one
another but not the candidate from the ruling party. All in all,
nothing very surprising.
        What is more surprising, however, is that the attitude of some
opposition members toward the media reveals similar intolerance.
Despite the existence of various political parties, and despite
diversity in the press, there is a marked lack of national debate in
Serbia. Four problems contribute to this state of affairs.
        First, RTS is the only nationwide television station in the
country, and an estimated one-third of the population has no access
to other electronic media. The failure by RTS to provide balanced
coverage of the recent election campaign means that millions of
Serbs may have gained a seriously distorted picture of the country's
political landscape.
        Second, Serbian viewers are strongly influenced by RTS
newscasts--the "official version" of reality--in their perceptions of
domestic politics, even when other sources of information are
available to them. RTS conveys a message of completeness: it makes
the viewer believe that he does not have to watch other newscasts
Many ordinary Serbs remain reluctant to question that message,
perhaps because during 40 years of communism, the gap between
what people saw on television newscasts and their own experience of
reality could easily be bridged. Unlike in some Soviet bloc countries,
people did not automatically distrust what they saw on the evening
news programs.
        Third, the Serbian government is not alone in its desire to
control the media. Some members of the opposition seem similarly
reluctant to accept that television news can operate without the
interference of political parties. The 30 September dismissal of the
director and editor-in-chief of Studio B--the TV station controlled by
the Belgrade municipal authorities--is just one case in point. Lila
Radonjic, the editor-in-chief of Studio B says that during the last six
months of her tenure, the television station received "as many as 10
calls a day" from Vuk Draskovic, his wife Danica, and senior officials
from his Serbian Renewal Movement (SPO). Milan Bozic, the vice
president of the SPO, is reported to have said, "We're not going to pay
for a television station that does not work for us." The eventual
outcome was the dismissal of the two Studio B officials.
        And in Nis, the second largest city in Serbia, the SPO-controlled
municipal television station did not allow the local mayor to express
his point of view in his ongoing dispute with Draskovic. Such an
attitude on the part of the SPO mirrors the atmosphere of intolerance
that the RTS helped create.
        Fourth, the criteria for licenses and frequencies continue to
obstruct the development of private electronic media. There are
some 70 local television stations in Serbia. Most are controlled by the
local authorities, and no fewer than 58 operate without a license.
Moreover, there are only three private television stations with a
license. Since 1994, when the last licenses were distributed,
discrepancies between laws on the federal and republican levels and
the insurmountable difficulties in registering have prevented private
broadcasters from acquiring a legal status. The non-distribution of
frequencies and/or licenses and the fact that transmitters remain in
the control of the state have been instrumental in preventing
independent broadcasters from reaching their potential audiences.
        The Serbian government's influence over the state-owned
media is by no means unique in the region. Less common are the
legal barriers for private electronic broadcasters, although some
countries, such as Bulgaria and Croatia, likewise lack a regulatory
framework. In Serbia, it is particularly regrettable that some
opposition forces also want to impose control over the electronic
media.

The author is project manager for the East-West Cooperation
Program of the European Institute for the Media, Dusseldorf,
Germany.

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