History is made out of the failures and heroism of each insignificant moment. - Franz Kafka
RFE/RL NEWSLINE

RFE/RL NEWSLINE Vol. 1, No. 167, Part II, 25 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

ENERGY POLITICS IN THE CASPIAN AND RUSSIA: Oil has begun
flowing from the Caspian Sea, home to one of the biggest oilfields in
the world. RFE/RL provides continuing coverage of regional energy
developments on its Web site.
http://www.rferl.org/nca/special/caspian/index.html
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Headlines, Part II

*BELARUSIAN GOVERNMENT CLOSES INDEPENDENT NEWSPAPER


*KARADZIC PARTY LEADS IN BOSNIAN SERB VOTE


*WESTENDORP SAYS NO PROTECTORATE FOR BOSNIA

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EAST-CENTRAL EUROPE

UKRAINE SHIFTS TO CASH PRIVATIZATION. Volodymir Lanovyi, the
acting head of the Ukrainian State Property Fund, said on 24
November that Kyiv will sell for cash, rather than use vouchers, to
privatize major industrial firms, Ukrainian media reported. Lanovyi
said the new approach will bring in billions of dollars to the cash-
starved government. In other economic news, the parliament greeted
the announcement that Kyiv and Moscow have agreed to dispense
with value-added taxes on each other's exports. And the British
government announced it will send some $34 million to Ukraine to
retrain some of that country's unemployed coal miners, Interfax-
Ukraine reported. PG

BELARUSIAN GOVERNMENT CLOSES INDEPENDENT NEWSPAPER.
President Alyaksandr Lukashenka's government shut down the
country's largest independent newspaper, "Svaboda," on 24
November following a decision of the Supreme Commercial Court,
Ekho Moskvy reported. Belarusian authorities said they took this
step only after giving the newspaper three warnings about the
publication of what they called anti-government articles. The editors
of the newspaper, which had a circulation of some 90,000, denounced
the move as an effort to stifle freedom of speech. They pledged to
continue their work, possibly publishing an underground newspaper.
PG

BELARUS, LITHUANIA CONSIDER DROPPING DUTIES ON FOOD. Minsk
and Vilnius have begun discussing the abolition of customs duties on
food exported from Lithuania to Belarus, the "Verslo Zinios"
newspaper reported on 24 November. Minsk officials also indicated
that they are also interested in purchasing electric power from
Lithuania. PG

PROSECUTOR-GENERAL SAYS NO REASON TO SUSPECT LANDSBERGIS
OF KGB LINKS. Kazys Pednycia issued a statement on 24 November
saying there are no grounds to believe allegations that parliamentary
chairman Vytautas Landsbergis collaborated with the Soviet-era KGB,
BNS reported. Testimonies by former KGB employees cannot be
regarded as evidence because they are either "rather abstract" or
have been refuted by other persons, the statement read. Pednycia
also said his office has a former KGB card-index that was started in
1981 and shows Landsbergis was under surveillance. Landsbergis is
a candidate in the December presidential elections. JC

DESIGN FAULTS TO BLAME FOR 'ESTONIA' SINKING? According to the
"Financial Times" on 24 November, the final report into the 1994
sinking of the "Estonia" passenger ferry concludes that design faults
were to blame for the tragedy, in which 852 people drowned. The
newspaper said that the report makes up to 20 recommendations
covering a range of subjects from ship construction to maintenance
checks. The "Estonia" sank en route from Tallinn to Stockholm after
its bow doors were ripped off during a storm. The final report, drawn
up by a commission composed of Estonian, Finnish, and Swedish
experts, is due to be published on 3 December, AFP reported. JC

NO AGREEMENT IN TALLINN OVER NEXT YEAR'S BUDGET.
Government coalition leaders and an opposition delegation have
failed to agree on how to resolve the row over the 1998 state budget,
ETA reported on 24 November. The opposition recently voted an
amendment into the budget whereby 200 million kroons ($14.3
million) would be allocated to finance a salary increase for teachers
(see "RFE/RL Newsline," 20 November 1997). This would result in a
budgetary imbalance, which is prohibited under Estonian law. The
government argued it does not have the funds to finance the salary
hike, while the opposition insisted the amendment must stay in
force. The two sides did agree, however, to meet in one week to
continue the search for a compromise. Meanwhile, teachers are
planning a one-hour warning strike on 27 November to press their
pay demand. JC

OSCE "SATISFIED" WITH ESTONIAN PROGRESS ON MINORITIES
ISSUES. Max van der Stoel, the Organization on Security and
Cooperation in Europe's high commissioner on national minorities,
says he is convinced that Tallinn has taken the most important steps
toward resolving issues related to the country's non-Estonian
population, according to the Information Service of the Estonian
President's Office. Van der Stoel met with President Lennart Meri in
Tallinn on 24 November. JC

POLISH LEADERS DISMISS RUSSIAN PROTEST OVER SPY CHARGES.
Foreign Minister Broniwslaw Geremek said in Budapest on 24
November that Moscow was playing up Polish press reports about
Russian espionage in Poland as part of its campaign against NATO
expansion, PAP reported. But if the war of words between Moscow
and Warsaw continued, so too did cooperation. On 24 November,
Russian Security Council Secretary Ivan Rybkin said his talks in
Moscow with the chief of the Polish National Security Bureau Marek
Siwiec were "fruitful," ITAR-TASS reported. Meanwhile, the new
Polish government has appointed General Bogdan Libera as chief of
the State Protection Bureau. Libera lost his job in 1996 following his
involvement in bringing charges that then Polish Premier Jozef
Oleksy had reported on Polish developments to Moscow. PG

TRUCK DRIVERS AGAIN STAGE PROTEST AT POLISH-GERMAN
BORDER. Some of the 2,000 trucks backed up to enter Germany
blocked the border post at Swiecko on 24 November to demand that
the Polish and German authorities establish more efficient crossing
procedures, PAP reported. This is the latest in a series of such
protests at the Swiecko border crossing. PG

HUNGARY, POLAND BOOST BILATERAL TIES. Foreign Minister
Bronislaw Geremek and his Hungarian counterpart, Laszlo Kovacs,
agreed in Budapest on 24 November to intensify cooperation as they
work toward NATO and EU accession, Hungarian media reported.
Geremek noted that while Hungary supports, in particular, the
accession of Romania and Slovenia into NATO, his country considers it
important that the Baltic States join the Euroatlantic structures. Both
ministers stressed the need to pay attention to those left out of the
first wave of enlargement. They also confirmed that the Czech,
Hungarian, and Polish foreign ministers will lobby in the US Senate in
February for a favorable decision on NATO expansion. MSZ

HUNGARY, MOLDOVA SIGN MILITARY AGREEMENT. Hungarian and
Moldovan Defense Ministers Gyorgy Keleti and Valeriu Pasat met in
Budapest on 24 November to sign an agreement on cooperation
between their ministries. Pasat said Chisinau does not intend to
change its neutral status or apply to join NATO. He also noted that
Moldova continues to reduce its armed forces and military hardware.
MSZ

SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE

KARADZIC PARTY LEADS IN BOSNIAN SERB VOTE. Preliminary results
show the hard-line Serbian Democratic Party leading in the
parliamentary vote with just over 31 percent of the total (see
"RFE/RL Newsline," 24 November 1997). President Biljana Plavsic's
Serbian People's League (SNS) follows with 21 percent. The
ultranationalist Serbian Radical Party is in third place with 16
percent. Plavsic's spokesmen said the SNS won in Banja Luka and did
well across the Republika Srpska. Twelve percent of the votes cast
were by absentee ballots, which will take another two weeks to
count. PM

WESTENDORP SAYS NO PROTECTORATE FOR BOSNIA. Carlos
Westendorp, the international community's chief representative in
Bosnia, said in Brussels after a 24 November meeting of EU foreign
ministers that Bosnia is making progress and will not need an
international protectorate to manage its affairs (see "RFE/RL
Newsline," 29 October 1997). He called, however, for the removal
from positions of power in Bosnia of all persons opposed to the
Dayton agreement, an RFE/RL correspondent reported from the
Belgian capital. PM

DISTRICT COUNCILS SET UP IN MOSTAR. Local councils met on 24
November in six districts of Herzegovina's main town, where
relations between Croats and Muslims remain tense. A recent
agreement between international officials and the main Croatian and
Muslim parties made it possible to set up the councils, an RFE/RL
correspondent reported from Mostar. PM

ATTACKER OF CROATIAN POLITICIAN FREED. A court in Pula has
given a one-and-a-half-year suspended sentence to retired army
officer Tomislav Brzovic for assaulting opposition presidential
candidate Vlado Gotovac this summer (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 6 and
7 June 1997). The court agreed with Brzovic that his judgment was
impaired because he was drunk. Gotovac and the opposition press
argued that Brzovic is a well-known hit-man for nationalist groups.
PM

UN WANTS MONEY FOR FORMER YUGOSLAVIA. The UN Geneva office
launched an appeal on 24 November to raise $406 million for
humanitarian projects in the former Yugoslavia. Some $263 million
are earmarked for Bosnia-Herzegovina, $44.6 million for Croatia,
$44.5 million for federal Yugoslavia, $3.4 million for Macedonia, and
$49.3 million for regional projects. PM

MONTENEGRIN PRESIDENT SLAMS MILOSEVIC. President-elect Milo
Djukanovic told RFE/RL in a telephone interview on 24 November
that Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic behaved "incorrectly and
irresponsibly" by meddling in Montenegrin politics before and after
the 5 October presidential vote. Djukanovic added that Milosevic did
not intervene directly but instead conducted what Djukanovic called
a "media harangue" against Djukanovic and his allies. When asked
about the possibility that Milosevic would use the army to try to
topple the new Montenegrin government, Djukanovic said that no
one could possibly have any political or other justification for
intervening militarily against his republic. He added that the
Yugoslav military behaves "correctly" toward the Montenegrin
authorities. PM

KOSOVAR LEADERSHIP RECEIVES ULTIMATUM. Adem Demaci, the
leader of the newly formed Kosovo Democratic Forum, said that the
Forum will consider the Democratic League of Kosovo (the main
Albanian political party) to be a "rival political force" if it does not
join the forum within 15 days, an RFE/RL correspondent reported
from Belgrade on 23 November. In Pristina the next day, the trial of
19 Albanians on terrorism charges was adjourned until 2 December
at the request of the defense. The defense team said that they want
to protest what they called a politically motivated assault by
unknown persons on one of the defense lawyers the previous week.
Also in Pristina on 24 November, the clandestine Kosovo Liberation
Army released a statement claiming responsibility for the murder of
a prominent ethnic Albanian member of Milosevic's party (see
"RFE/RL Newsline," 19 November 1997). PM

ALBANIAN STUDENTS ON FOOD STRIKE. "Koha Jone" reported on 24
November that students at boarding schools in Elbasan, Shkoder, and
Tirana went on a hunger strike at various times during the previous
week. The students demand more food and complain that most
dormitories have neither electricity, water, nor functioning
bathrooms. Elsewhere, railway workers on the Tirana-Shkoder line
launched a strike on 24 November to demand that the government
pay their wages in full for the last five months. They have been
receiving only part pay. Meanwhile, sailors of the merchant marine
in Durres have threatened to go on strike on 27 November unless the
government pays their wages for the last 11 months. FS

WILL ALBANIAN DEMOCRATS RETURN TO PARLIAMENT? Ferdinand
Xhaferi, the leader of the Democratic Party's parliamentary faction,
told "Dita Informacion" on 24 November that he supports the return
of the Democrats to the parliament. The Democrats have boycotted
parliamentary sessions since the shooting of Democratic legislator
Azem Hajdari by a Socialist deputy inside the parliament building
(see "RFE/RL Newsline," 19 September 1997). Also on 24 November,
a roundtable of political parties, formed to discuss the drafting of a
new constitution and Albania's policy toward Kosovo, failed to reach
a consensus. FS

TURKISH PRESIDENT IN ROMANIA. During his one-day visit to
Bucharest on 24 November, Suleyman Demirel met with President
Emil Constantinescu and addressed a joint session of the parliament's
two chambers, RFE/RL's Bucharest bureau reported. The two
countries pledged to support each other's bid for EU membership,
while Demirel said Turkey backs Romania's quest to join NATO.
Constantinescu and Demirel said bilateral trade is expected to grow
from $800 million to $1 billion next year. MS

WORLD BANK AFFILIATE INVESTS IN ROMANIAN-TURKISH BANK.
The International Finance Corporation on 24 November purchased 20
percent of the equity of Demirbank, a joint Romanian-Turkish
venture servicing Turkish-Romanian trade and investment, an
RFE/RL correspondent in Washington reported. The IFC, which is the
private sector affiliate of the World Bank, approved a $5 million loan
to help the bank set up comprehensive commercial banking services
for medium-sized Romanian enterprises. The corporation also noted
that Demirbank of Turkey, the Turkish partner in the Romanian-
Turkish joint venture, has invested together with its Romanian
partner, Romlease, in a joint-venture bank in Kyrgyzstan. Also on 24
November, the Turkish president attended the opening of a
Demirbank branch in the Romanian capital. MS

ROMA LEADER CRITICIZES ROMANIAN GOVERNMENT. Nicolae
Gheorghe, a sociologist who heads the Romani Cris center for the
study of social problems among Roma, told an OSCE meeting in
Warsaw on 24 November that the attitude of the Romanian
government toward the Roma minority is "ambiguous" and often
verged on "duplicity." He said incidents between the ethnic Romanian
majority and Roma are prompted by racial attitudes rather than by
social causes. Gheorghe added that the government undertakes no
concrete steps for the Roma's protection and limits itself to
"declaration-making," Mediafax reported. MS

MOLDOVAN PARLIAMENT PASSES ELECTION LAW. Lawmakers have
passed the election law several months ahead of the vote scheduled
for March 1998, RFE/RL's Chisinau bureau reported on 24 November.
Under the new legislation, the 101-member parliament will be
elected by a system of proportional representation in a single,
nationwide constituency, as was the case in the 1994 elections.
Meanwhile, Infotag reported on 24 November that the Supreme
Court has announced it will examine whether the new law is in
harmony with the constitutional provision stipulating that election
laws be passed with a "special majority." It also decided not to
nominate its representatives to the Central Electoral Commission.
Under current legislation, the nominations should have been made
by 25 November, 10 days after the president set the date for the
next elections. MS

U.S. THREATENS SANCTIONS AGAINST BULGARIA OVER CD PIRACY. A
U.S. delegation in Sofia has warned Bulgaria that trade sanctions will
be imposed if it does not clamp down on compact disc piracy, Reuters
reported on 24 November. The Bulgarian Interior Ministry issued a
statement saying that the head of the delegation "was categorical
that if the production and distribution of pirated production is not
liquidated by April [1988]..., trade sanctions will be imposed on our
country." Bulgaria is considered the world's second biggest producer
of pirate CDs and CD-ROMs, after China. Washington put Bulgaria on a
piracy "watch list" in 1996. MS

REGIONAL AFFAIRS

MEDIA FREEDOM IN DANGER IN SEVEN CIS STATES. A recent report
compiled by the international journalists' organization Reporters sans
Frontieres lists seven CIS states and two East European countries
where journalists' rights and freedoms are seriously threatened.
Those countries are Moldova, Ukraine, Belarus, Turkmenistan,
Tajikistan, Azerbaijan, and Uzbekistan as well as Romania and
Macedonia, according to INFOTAG on 24 November. The assessment
is based on the availability and influence of state-run media, the
level of development of the independent media, violence against
journalists, and the number of court proceedings against the media
initiated by official bodies. Moldova was named as the worst
offender owing to its 1994 press law, which makes it very difficult
for journalists to defend their rights. All attempts by democratically-
minded Moldovan deputies to revise that law have failed, the report
noted. LF

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               Copyright (c) 1997 RFE/RL, Inc.
                     All rights reserved.
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