The greatest happiness is to know the source of unhappiness. - Dostoevsky
RFE/RL NEWSLINE

RFE/RL NEWSLINE Vol. 1, No. 159, Part II, 13 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

EUROPE: Has The West Embraced The East? -- a five-part series about
Europe's multilateral organizations and whether and how they've
aided the integration of Central and Eastern Europe with the West --
is online at the RFE/RL Web site.
http://www.rferl.org/nca/special/multilateral/index.html

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Headlines, Part II

* UKRAINIAN PRESIDENT SEEKS END TO TRADE WAR WITH RUSSIA

* CZECH PRESIDENT SAYS HE'LL SEEK SECOND TERM

* U.S. SAYS BOSNIAN SERBS CANNOT JOIN PROGRAM

End Note
END OF THE BEGINNING FOR POLAND'S NEW GOVERNMENT

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EAST-CENTRAL EUROPE

UKRAINIAN PRESIDENT SEEKS END TO TRADE WAR WITH RUSSIA.
Leonid Kuchma says he hopes his meeting with Russian President
Boris Yeltsin in Moscow on 16-17 November will allow the two
countries to put aside their "economic war," ITAR-TASS reported on
12 November. Kuchma also said he hopes that the two countries will
be able to ratify the Treaty of Friendship that he and Yeltsin
concluded earlier. In another indication that economic ties between
the two countries may be improving, Russian First Deputy Prime
Minister Anatolii Chubais will visit Kyiv on the eve of the Kuchma-
Yeltsin summit to seek a settlement of bilateral debts outstanding
from the Soviet era. But the Ukrainian government's economic
problems at home continue to mount. The parliament on 12
November gave a chilly reception to a modified 1998 state budget.
PG

LUKASHENKA TAKES HARD LINE ON PRESS. Belarusian President
Alyaksandr Lukashenka has again said he firmly supports
amendments to the press law, which would make that legislation
even more draconian (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 7 November 1997),
RFE/RL's Belarusian Service reported on 12 November. Meanwhile,
the prosecutor-general has notified editors of an independent weekly
that its satirical portraits of Lukashenka and other government
leaders "besmirch the honor and dignity" of those officials and thus
violate the new law. PG

ESTONIAN COMPANY PLANS PIRATE TV CHANNEL. An advertising
company is planning to launch a 24-hour television channel from a
ship anchored in a neutral zone between Estonian and Finnish
territorial waters, ETA reported on 12 November. TV Zoom plans to
begin simultaneous broadcasting in Estonian and Finnish in spring
1998. Kaur Hanson, the managing director of the Zoom advertising
agency in Tallinn, said programming will be bought from Estonian
and Finnish companies. A private investigator based in Monaco is
providing the $3 million starting capital. JC

POLAND WANTS EXPANDED COOPERATION WITH BALTS. On the eve
of his visit to Lithuania, Polish Foreign Minister Bronislaw Geremek
told BNS on 12 November that Warsaw is seeking a "major
expansion" of cooperation with the three Baltic States. "We are
convinced that Poland is a Baltic country, too, and has interests in all
three Baltic [States]. For this reason, we would like to participate in
all of the Baltic countries' cooperation structures," he commented.
Geremek's trip to Lithuania is his first official visit abroad since his
recent appointment as foreign minister. JC

POLAND AGREES TO AMOUNT OF NATO DUES. The Polish government
has agreed to pay NATO $44 million a year once it joins the alliance,
which it is scheduled to do in 1999, PAP reported on 12 November.
That sum would represent 2.48 percent of NATO's annual budget. PG

SOLANA ON HUNGARY'S NATO REFERENDUM. NATO Secretary-General
Javier Solana on 12 November told Hungarian reporters in Brussels
that Budapest cannot expect to join the alliance in the near future if
Hungarians reject NATO accession in the 16 November referendum.
He said it depends on the Hungarian government and constitution
what happens if the vote is invalidated because of a low turnout. MSZ

SLOVAK PRESS CALLS OFF PROTEST. Bratislava's leading newspapers
on 12 November called off their protest against a government-
backed bill that would have significantly increased taxes levied on
those publications. Their move came after conversations with Slovak
lawmakers suggested the parliament would not pass the measure. PG

CZECH PRESIDENT SAYS HE'LL SEEK SECOND TERM. From his hospital
bed, Vaclav Havel told the Prague daily "Pravo" on 12 November that
he will seek a second term in 1998. While his doctors have
repeatedly said there is no medical reason for his stepping down,
Havel's cancer operation last year and his current bout of pneumonia
led to speculation that he might do so. PG

MORE RESPONSES TO IRAQI ARMS SALE ALLEGATIONS. Karel
Vulterin, the director of the Czech National Security Service, told CTK
on 12 November that the service is carrying out an investigation into
allegations of the intended sale to Baghdad of five "Tamara"
electronic warfare systems. (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 12 November
1997). He said the service will inform the government and the
Chamber of Deputies' Defense and Security Commission of its
findings. An RFE/RL Sofia correspondent reported the same day that
the government has officially denied the allegations in "The
Washington Times" report. It pointed out that Petar Babalov, the
Bulgarian general who was identified both as a key person in the
deal and as a former ambassador to Baghdad, has never held a post
in Iraq. MS

SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE

U.S. SAYS BOSNIAN SERBS CANNOT JOIN PROGRAM. The Bosnian Serb
army (VRS) is ineligible to participate in the U.S. sponsored "Train
and Equip," a Pentagon spokesman said in Washington on 12
November. He said the leadership of the Republika Srpska has not
shown itself sufficiently committed to the Dayton peace agreements
to qualify for the program, in which the Croats and Muslims
participate. Republika Srpska President Biljana Plavsic and some VRS
commanders want to take part in the program (see "RFE/RL
Newsline," 12 November 1997). PM

MUSLIM WARLORDS COMMITTED WAR CRIMES. The Sarajevo gang
led by Musan "Caco" Topalovic murdered dozens of civilians and
members of the Bosnian army just because they were Serbs, the
Sarajevo magazine "Dani" reported in its November issue. The
magazine said that top Muslim civilian and military authorities knew
of the atrocities but kept silent because Caco's gang and others like it
led the fight against the Serbian besiegers of Sarajevo during 1992-
1993. Government troops and police cracked down on the warlords
in 1993 and killed Caco, who nonetheless received a hero's funeral
after the war. In October, "Dani" reported on Muslim atrocities
against Croats near Mostar. The magazine editors told Reuters on 12
November that all sides must admit their war crimes if there is ever
to be peace and reconciliation in Bosnia. They added, however, that
the Muslim leadership has not reacted to their reports. PM

SERBIA'S SESELJ SLAMS U.S. Vojislav Seselj, the presidential
candidate of the Serbian Radical Party and wartime paramilitary
leader, said in Belgrade on 12 November that "it was not enough for
the Americans to destroy former Yugoslavia. Now they have started
to make Montenegro secede from Serbia." Many U.S. Congressmen
have openly supported Montenegrin Prime Minister Milo Djukanovic
in his political fight with backers of Yugoslav President Slobodan
Milosevic. Djukanovic, now president-elect of Montenegro, is slated to
visit the U.S. soon. PM

WOMAN CHARGED WITH SLANDERING MILOSEVIC. Snezana
Velickovic from Nis appeared before magistrates in Belgrade on 12
November on charges of committing "gross slander" against
Milosevic. She allegedly said in public and before police that he is a
"thief and conman" who is responsible for Yugoslavia's poverty and
corruption. Velickovic denies the charges. PM

CROATIA PUT ON NOTICE OVER SLAVONIA. William Walker, the UN's
chief administrator for eastern Slavonia, said in Erdut on 12
November that "how Croatia...completes [its] reintegration process
will most likely determine whether and how quickly it takes its
rightful place in its European home and in the international
community of nations." Eastern Slavonia is the last Croatian territory
under rebel Serb control. The UN is slated to return the area to
Croatia in January 1998. The UN began a transitional administration
there under an agreement signed in Erdut on 12 November 1995. PM

CROATIAN UPPER HOUSE APPROVES CONSTITUTIONAL CHANGES. The
upper house of the Croatian parliament on 12 November endorsed a
package of constitutional amendments recently proposed by
President Franjo Tudjman (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 4 November
1997). A key provision prohibits any union with other states or the
setting up of a new Yugoslavia. The lower house is to vote on the
amendments within the next week, an RFE/RL correspondent
reported from Zagreb. PM

SLOVENIA TO BAN EX-COMMUNISTS FROM OFFICE? President Milan
Kucan said in Ljubljana on 12 November that a proposed law to ban
former Communists from office is unnecessary. He said the names of
those individuals who violated human rights under the old regime
are well known and consequently there is no need to punish all
former communist officials for the crimes of a few. Opposition
leaders Janez Jansa and Lojze Peterle recently introduced the motion
in the parliament. They said that Slovenia must break with its
communist past. If passed, the bill would make Kucan and Prime
Minister Janez Drnovsek ineligible to hold public office. The
government has a parliamentary majority of only two votes. PM

FREER TRAVEL BETWEEN HUNGARY, SLOVENIA. Interior Ministers
Mirko Bandelj of Slovenia and Gabor Kuncze of Hungary signed an
agreement in Budapest on 12 November that will enable citizens of
each country to visit the other with only their internal identity
papers. The two ministers also agreed to better implement the rules
set down in the EU's Schengen border control agreement along their
common border. PM

ALBANIAN PRESIDENT, PARLIAMENT CLASH. The Socialist Party's
parliamentary majority on 12 November sharply criticized Socialist
President Rexhep Meidani for returning a draft law that the
legislature had approved two weeks earlier. The law sets up a
commission to investigate the anarchy that gripped Albania between
January and June. Meidani had argued that the legislation would give
the commission too many powers, including some that legally belong
to other government branches, "Koha Jone" reported. The parliament,
nonetheless, reaffirmed the draft, albeit with an amendment stating
that the commission does not have the right to order arrests. FS

NO SOLUTION TO ROMANIAN EDUCATION LAW... The Senate
convenes on 13 November to debate government regulations issued
earlier this year amending the 1996 education law. The regulations
provided for teaching history and geography in the mother tongue,
but a commission of the Senate headed by a National Peasant Party
Christian Democratic (PNTCD) deputy overruled those provisions. The
PNTCD leadership on 12 November endorsed the commission's
changes, a move Hungarian Democratic Federation of Romania
(UDMR) leader Bela Marko said is "unacceptable." Earlier, Marko had
commented in an interview on state television that the UDMR would
accept a compromise whereby only the teaching of history in
Romanian would be compulsory. MS

....WHILE NATIONALISTS MOVE ANTI-HUNGARIAN MINORITY
MOTION IN PARLIAMENT. The Party of Romanian National Unity on
12 November moved a motion to debate the situation of ethnic
Romanians in Harghita and Covasna Counties, where Hungarians
constitute a majority, the RFE/RL Bucharest bureau reported. The
motion says Romanians in those counties are in danger of losing their
national identity as a result of the policies pursued by the UDMR. In
addition, it calls for launching a "national program" to prevent
assimilation of the Romanians living there. The motion, which is also
backed by the Greater Romania Party, the Alliance for Romania, and
one deputy from the Ecologist Party, is to be debated on 17
November. MS

ROMANIA TO SIGN CONVENTION ON LAND-MINE BAN. The Supreme
Council of National Defense, which is chaired by President Emil
Constantinescu, has recommended that the government sign the
treaty banning anti-personnel land mines, RFE/RL's Bucharest
bureau reported on 12 November. The council said signing the
convention "will be an important step toward the integration of our
country in European and Euro-Atlantic communities." MS

MOLDOVAN DEPUTIES SAY SALE OF FIGHTER PLANES 'ILLEGAL.'
Nicolae Andronic, the deputy chairman of the opposition Party of
Rebirth and Conciliation, and deputies from the Socialist Unity-
Edinstvo parliamentary faction, have said the sale of the Moldovan
MiG-29C planes to the U.S. was "illegal," BASA-press and Reuters
reported on 12 November. Andronic said the government broke the
privatization law, which bars the sale of Defense Ministry property
without the prior approval of the legislature. But Andrei Diaconu, the
deputy chairman of the parliament, noted that the law came into
force in September, while the MiG deal was signed in July. MS

MOLDOVAN INFLATION RATE CONTINUES TO DROP. Inflation in
October stood at 8.2 percent, Infotag reported, quoting National Bank
chairman Leonid Talmaci on 12 November. The bank is now
predicting a 1997 inflation rate of 13 percent, up 3 percent on its
forecast in January, Infotag reported. Inflation dropped from 2,700
percent in 1993 to 104.5 percent in 1994, 23.8 percent in 1995, and
15.1 percent in 1996. MS

BULGARIAN ARMY CONSCRIPTS TO SERVE FEWER MONTHS. The
parliament on 12 November passed a law reducing the length of
service for military conscripts from 18 to 12 months, RFE/RL's Sofia
bureau reported. University students will serve only nine months. In
other news, President Petar Stoyanov on 12 November said the new
currency board is "critical for ending postcommunist illusions." In an
interview with the Japanese daily "Nikkei" ahead of his upcoming
visit to Tokyo, Stoyanov said the currency board, set up in July, is a
helpful instrument for stabilizing the country's finances and thereby
allowing economic reform to be expedited. MS

END NOTE

END OF THE BEGINNING FOR POLAND'S NEW GOVERNMENT

by Jan de Weydenthal

        Seven weeks after winning the parliamentary elections,
Poland's center-right parties have given a green light to their new
government.
        Voting on a 11 November confidence motion, the Sejm backed
Jerzy Buzek's government by 260 to 173 with two abstentions. That
vote largely reflected the political divisions within the lower house,
where the coalition of the Solidarity Electoral Action (AWS) and the
Freedom Union (UW) confronts the postcommunist Democratic Left
Alliance and the Peasant Party.
        Before the vote, Buzek outlined the government program,
promising to promote economic growth, combat inflation, and reduce
the budget- and current-account deficit. Other government priorities
are to complete privatization of state enterprises within four years,
restitute property seized by Communist governments, overhaul the
health and pension systems, and increase funding of educational
institutions.
        Commenting on the address, President Aleksander
Kwasniewski said that it contains an impressive list of promises but
that they are no more than that. He noted that Buzek failed to
explain how his government will pay for what it is pledging to
accomplish.
        Leszek Miller, the head of the postcommunist parliamentary
opposition, was even more critical, saying Buzek's speech was "too
general" and included "a lot of contradictions." Miller added that his
group will closely watch the government's actions.
        They will not be the only ones to do so. Dozens of AWS deputies
have already indicated that they will decide on a case-by-case basis
whether to support their own government (31 of them have even
signed a statement to that effect). Most belong to small, but radical
Christian parties that formed an alliance with the Solidarity trade
union for electoral purposes. Moreover, several AWS nationalist
deputies failed to show up for the confidence vote to protest their
leadership's decision to give important government posts to the more
liberal and secular UW.
        There is little doubt that such dissent will continue, putting a
strain on the AWS's political cohesion and testing the authority of its
leaders. In particular, this may affect the role of Marian Krzaklewski,
Solidarity's chairman and a leading figure in the AWS's electoral
campaign. Krzaklewski declined any direct role in the government,
opting for chairmanship of the AWS parliamentary caucus instead.
        Krzaklewski told a new conference in Gdansk on 11 November
that he is about to take steps to register the Solidarity-based AWS as
a new political party rooted in Christian values. A few weeks earlier,
former Solidarity leader Lech Walesa also registered a new party
with the same political profile.
        It is generally assumed that Krzaklewski is already positioning
himself for the 2000 presidential election. years time. Possible
conflicts within the AWS itself and eventual tension between the
AWS caucus and the government will challenge his leadership
qualities. His failure to impose and maintain discipline could easily
cripple any future presidential plans.
        The parliamentary confidence vote completed the process of
formally establishing the AWS-UW coalition government, which,
owing to considerable program differences between the two
partners, was both difficult and protracted. Those differences are
unlikely to disappear. The key question for Polish politics now is how
and when they could affect the operations of the government itself.
        The 11 November vote marked merely the end of the
beginning for the current coalition. Now a different, but also difficult,
kind of business is about to start; namely, the business of governing.

The author is an RFE/RL senior correspondent.




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