Comedy is an escape, not from truth but from despair; a narrow escape into faith. - Christopher Fry
RFE/RL NEWSLINE

RFE/RL NEWSLINE Vol. 1, No. 152, Part II, 4 November 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

*EU HAS NO PLANS TO RENEW TALKS WITH BELARUS


*MILOSEVIC STANDS FIRM ON KOSOVO


*TUDJMAN WANTS CONSTITUTIONAL CHANGES


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EAST-CENTRAL EUROPE

EU HAS NO PLANS TO RENEW TALKS WITH BELARUS. Luiz Marena,
the head of a EU delegation that recently visited Minsk, said there is
currently no basis for renewing three-way talks between EU
representatives, members of President Alyaksandr Lukashenka's
administration, and Supreme Soviet deputies, an RFE/RL
correspondent in the Belarusian capital reported on 3 November.
Marena also announced that no economic accords between the EU
and Belarus will be signed in 1998. He laid the blame for the
stalemate in the talks squarely on members of the president's
administration, adding that the visit convinced many members of his
delegation that "Belarus is truly a totalitarian state." lf

UKRAINE TO INVESTIGATE SFOR CHARGES. Kyiv has dispatched two
senior military officers to investigate charges by the NATO-led
Stabilization Force in Bosnia that seven Ukrainian soldiers were
involved in smuggling activities, Ukrainian media reported on 3
November. But the Ukrainian defense minister repeated Kyiv's
insistence that charges against the seven are unjustified. pg

UKRAINIAN, BULGARIAN BUSINESSES SEEK END TO BORDER
CORRUPTION. Chambers of commerce and industry in Ukraine and
Bulgaria have called on their governments to end extortion among
border officials in order to improve trade between the two countries,
ITAR-TASS reported on 3 November. Because of racketeering at the
border, trade between the two countries has fallen from $270 million
in the first nine months of 1996 to $200 million in the same period
this year. Meanwhile, the Ukrainian State Statistical Committee
reported that the rate of decline in Ukraine's GDP has slowed during
the past year. pg

TALLINN DECLINES MOSCOW'S SECURITY OFFER. The Estonian Foreign
Ministry on 3 November rejected Russian President Boris Yeltsin's
security offer to the Baltics, saying such unilateral guarantees do not
correspond with the "spirit of the new Europe." The ministry said
Estonia's strategic goals continue to be joining the EU and NATO while
maintaining good-neighborly relations with Russia. It added that
Tallinn values Moscow's participation in regional cooperation and its
strong ties with Europe and trans-Atlantic organizations, ETA
reported. The Lithuanian Foreign Ministry rejected the proposal
several days earlier. Its Latvian counterpart is expected to respond
soon, following Premier Guntars Krasts's statement declining the
offer (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 3 November 1997). jc

SANTER IN THE BALTICS. EU Commission President Jacques Santer,
paying short visits to Vilnius and Riga on 3 November, stressed that
no candidate country has been excluded from the union's planned
enlargement, BNS reported. Earlier this year, the commission
recommended that Estonia be invited to start entry talks; neither
Lithuania nor Latvia was named among the proposed candidates.
Lithuanian President Algirdas Brazauskas said he tried to convince
Santer there are no major differences between the Baltic States. "We
live in a single political space, and it is unclear to me when we were
made separate," he commented. In Riga, Latvian Prime Minister
Guntars Krasts proposed that all candidates be given equal chances to
start entry talks. Santer concludes his brief Baltic tour in Tallinn on 4
November. jc

LATVIA RE-EXAMINES KALEJS CASE. A Latvian prosecutor told
Reuters on 3 November that investigators are re-examining the case
of Konrad Kalejs, an alleged World War II criminal, after the Simon
Wiesenthal Center criticized Riga for saying it had found no
incriminating evidence. Officials stress they still have no concrete
proof against Kalejs, but they have asked several Western countries
to supply information that could help the investigation. The Simon
Wiesenthal Center alleges that Kalejs, who now lives in Australia,
belonged to a wartime murder squad that killed thousands of Jews,
Communists, and Roma. jc

POLISH GOVERNMENT PREDICTS EU ENTRY BY 2005. Ryszard
Czarnecki, the new minister for European integration, told "Gazeta
Wyborcza" on 3 November that he expects his country to join the EU
in 2004 or 2005. But he indicated that the new government will not
sacrifice Poland's national interests in order to speed up the process.
pg

POLISH PRIEST SUSPENDED FOR ANTI-SEMITIC REMARKS. Gdansk
Archbishop Tadeusz Goclowski on 3 November prohibited Monsignor
Henryk Jankowski from giving sermons or making public statements
following Jankowski's criticism of the "participation by the Jewish
minority in the Polish government," Radio Zet reported. Jankowski,
who earlier served as a spiritual adviser to Solidarity leader Lech
Walesa, has been criticized in the past for anti-Semitic remarks. He
also has been investigated by Polish prosecutors, although no charges
have been brought against him. pg

ARCHAEOLOGICAL FIND MAY BLOCK RUSSIAN PIPELINE IN POLAND.
Officials in the central Polish city of Wloclawek told ITAR-TASS on 3
November that a new archaeological find may force Russia to change
the route of the Yamal-West Europe gas pipeline. But other local
officials told the Russian agency that Wloclawek leaders are only
seeking to extract more money from the pipeline construction
enterprises. pg

GERMANY, FRANCE TO HELP POLAND MEET NATO STANDARDS.
Following two days of meetings in the German city of Weimar, the
German, French, and Polish defense ministers have announced a
three-year program of joint exercises to bring Polaish armed forces
up to NATO standards, PAP reported on 3 November. Polish Defense
Minister Janusz Onyszkiewicz noted Warsaw wants to see NATO
continue to expand to include other countries in Eastern Europe. pg

CZECH PRESS CASTS DOUBTS ON HAVEL'S POLITICAL FUTURE. Several
leading Prague newspapers on 3 November raised questions as to
whether President Vaclav Havel, currently in the hospital recovering
from pneumonia, will physically be able to serve another term. The
newspapers asked whether he will be able to make a scheduled
speech to the Czech parliament on 11 November, two months before
he would have to stand for re-election. Havel recently canceled a
planned visit to London. pg.

CZECH MINISTERS APPROVE NATO CONTRIBUTION. A special
committee of senior Czech ministers on 3 November voted to approve
a 600 million crown ($18.3 million) annual contribution to NATO once
the Czech Republic joins the Western alliance. Prime Minister Vaclav
Klaus told journalists that the committee also voted for new budget
allocations to bring the Czech military into line with NATO standards.
The Czech government is scheduled to formally approve that decision
on 5 November. pg

SLOVAK ROMA LEADERS SEEK TO END EMIGRATION. Following a
meeting with Deputy Premier Jozef Kalman on 3 November, leaders
of Slovakia's 85,000 Roma appealed to the community not to
emigrate, according to Slovak media. The appeal said Roma should
not leave lest they face "further social and economic difficulties"
upon their return to Slovakia sometime in the future. pg

HUNGARIAN POLICE DISPERSE ILLEGAL FARMERS' RALLY. Police
used tough measures to enforce a court ban on a demonstration
organized by the militant farmers' group METESZ, Hungarian media
reported on 3 November. The farmers were demonstrating against
foreign ownership of land and the low wholesale price of agricultural
goods. Angry scenes occurred when 400 policemen dispersed the 200
or so protesters. Up to 30 protesters were detained but released later
the same day. Agnes Nagy Maczo, the chairwoman of the METESZ
strike committee, was expelled from the Independent Smallholders'
parliamentary faction, in part for her involvement in the illegal rally.
She consequently loses her post as parliamentary deputy speaker.
msz

SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE

MILOSEVIC STANDS FIRM ON KOSOVO... Yugoslav President Slobodan
Milosevic and Albanian Prime Minister Fatos Nano, meeting within
the framework of the Balkan summit on Crete on 3 November,
agreed to improve bilateral relations. Milosevic said ties between the
two countries were "frozen for 50 years." He added that he and Nano
did not agree on questions regarding Kosovo, which, Milosevic
maintained, is Serbia's internal affair. Milosevic called on Albania to
grant its Serbian and Montenegrin minorities the same rights as
Yugoslavia's Albanians enjoy. Nano, for his part, urged Yugoslavia to
give its Albanians rights in keeping with European norms. It was the
first meeting of the top leaders of the two countries since 1948. pm

...SAYS ALL ARE RESPONSIBLE FOR DAYTON. Yugoslav President
Milosevic also said on Crete on 3 November that he recognizes his
responsibilities to help implement the Dayton peace agreement. He
stressed, however, that it is the duty of all Balkan countries to
promote regional stability. He added that, in particular, the three
former warring sides in Bosnia have a special responsibility for
implementing Dayton. Heads of state or government of Greece,
Turkey, Romania, Bulgaria, Yugoslavia, Macedonia and Albania are
attending the two-day summit. Bosnia has sent a lower-level
delegation. Slovenia and Croatia refused to attend on the grounds
that they are Central European and not Balkan countries (see also
item below on Croatia). pm

MACEDONIA, BULGARIA REMAIN DEADLOCKED. Macedonian
President Kiro Gligorov and Bulgarian Prime Minister Ivan Kostov
failed during talks on Crete on 2 November to break the impasse
preventing Bulgaria's ratification of 20 bilateral agreements, BETA
news agency reported the next day. Bulgaria does not recognize
Macedonian as a language distinct from Bulgarian and refuses to
ratify agreements drafted in Macedonian as well as Bulgarian. Sofia's
long-standing policy is to recognize Macedonian statehood and
independence but not to acknowledge that Macedonians are a people
distinct from Bulgarians. pm

KOSOVAR STUDENT SAYS HE WAS TORTURED. Nait Hasani, a student
from Kosovo whom the authorities claim is a leader of the
clandestine Kosovo Liberation Army (UCK), told a court in Pristina on
3 November that Serbian police tortured him to obtain a confession.
He and 19 other Kosovars are on trial for what the authorities call
separatism and terrorism. It is the third mass trial of ethnic
Albanians in Kosovo this year on political charges, an RFE/RL
correspondent reported from Pristina. Observers noted that the
Swiss-based UCK has become increasingly attractive to young
Kosovars, many of whom may feel that the moderate Kosovar
leadership's policy of non-violence has failed to produce results. pm

TRAVNIK MURDER SUSPECTS FREED. A spokesman for the UN police
said in Sarajevo on 3 November that police in the Muslim-controlled
Travnik area freed three men who had been held in connection with
the murder of one Croat and the wounding of two other Croats in a
nearby village in late August (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 1 September
1997). The spokesman added that Muslim and Croatian police are
continuing to investigate the incident. Bosnian Croat officials and the
government in Zagreb have repeatedly warned they regard the
investigation as a test-case for Croatian-Muslim cooperation. pm

BOSNIA ROUNDS UP ILLEGAL IMMIGRANTS. Bosnian police wounded
one man in a roundup of 47 illegal immigrants in Sarajevo, a UN
police spokesman said on 3 November. Most of those arrested are
Egyptians. The Bosnian authorities are cracking down on people from
developing countries using Bosnia to gain illegal entry into other
European states. pm

SLOVENIA JOINS BOSNIAN FORCE. SFOR spokesmen in Sarajevo said
on 4 November that Slovenia has officially become the 37th
participant in the international peacekeeping force. Meanwhile in
Ljubljana, the National Statistics Office announced on 3 October that
the foreign trade deficit stands at $790 million. The total volume of
foreign trade for 1997 is down about 1 percent on the same nine-
month period last year. pm

TUDJMAN WANTS CONSTITUTIONAL CHANGES. Croatian President
Franjo Tudjman said in Zagreb on 3 November that he has
recommended to the parliament that the constitution ban Croatia's
membership in a revived Yugoslavia or any other Balkan union. He
added that he wants Croatia explicitly defined as belonging to Central
Europe, not to the Balkans. Tudjman also wants the constitution
changed to grant equal rights to all persons and not just to Croatian
citizens. He said that the basic law should specify that "Croatia is
established as the national state of the Croatian people and a state of
members of national minorities and those who are its citizens." The
current document names eight specific minority nationalities. pm

ROMANIAN PREMIER AT BALKAN SUMMIT. Victor Ciorbea on 3
November told Federal Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic that
Belgrade must grant minority rights to the Vlach (Aromanian)
community in Serbia, an RFE/RL correspondent reported. Earlier,
Ciorbea expressed reservations over a Greek proposal to set up a
secretariat in charge of Balkan economic cooperation. While
welcoming the proposal, he commented that increased cooperation is
possible through existing structures such as CEFTA and the Black Sea
Economic Cooperation. In other news, visiting Croatian First Deputy
Defense Minister General Kresimir Cosic and his Romanian
counterpart, General Constantin Degeratu, signed a military
cooperation agreement in Bucharest on 3 November. ms

ROMANIAN COALITION PARTY REJECTS OFFER. Ion Diaconescu, the
chairman of the National Peasant Party Christian Democratic (PNTCD),
on 3 November rejected Democratic Party (PD) Chairman Petre
Roman's offer to leave the coalition and back a minority PNTCD
government. Diaconescu said the survival of such a cabinet would be
questionable, as it would depend on the good will of those who did
not share government responsibilities, RFE/RL's Bucharest bureau
reported. In other news, President Emil Constantinescu on 3
November urged PD deputy Corneliu Ruse to make available all
evidence in support of his recent allegations that the Romanian
Intelligence Service (SRI) has penetrated and controls most of the
country's political parties. Constantinescu said the allegations are
likely to "negatively impact the credibility and public image of the
SRI." ms

IMF DELAYS LOAN TRANCHE TO MOLDOVA. Mark Horton, the IMF's
permanent representative in Chisinau, said on 3 November that the
fund has postponed the last $15.5 million installment of a loan to
Moldova. Horton said that if the government fulfills the obligations it
undertook when agreeing to the loan's terms, the installment could
be released in February or March 1998. He noted that Moldova's
budget deficit is approaching 7 percent of GDP, while Chisinau and
the IMF had agreed on 4.5 percent. He also said the fund wants the
parliament to review its decisions to write off state enterprises
arrears to the budget and to oppose the government's proposals to
introduce value-added tax and raise energy prices energy prices,
Mediafax reported, citing Reuters. ms

MOLDOVA'S BOTNARU ON ORGANIZED CRIME, TRANSDNIESTER.
Moldovan Security Minister Tudor Botnaru told journalists on 3
November that many former KGB officers have joined "criminal
structures" and their "high professionalism" makes the struggle
against organized crime "very difficult," Infotag reported. The
minister added he is opposed to making public the files of former
KGB agents, saying this would amount to "setting ourselves on fire."
Botnaru also commented that the outbreak of the Transdniestrian
conflict in 1990 was due to Moldova's "blunder in domestic policies"
at that time. He said his officers would have "no problem whatever"
in arresting the Transdniestrian leaders but that he "categorically
opposes" such methods because the conflict "must be solved
exclusively by political means." ms

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