There is always one moment in childhood when the door opens and lets the future in. - Graham Greene
RFE/RL NEWSLINE

RFE/RL NEWSLINE Vol. 1, No. 169, Part II, 1 December 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

* CRACKDOWN SPREADS IN BELARUS

* CZECH GOVERNMENT RESIGNS

* KOSOVAR GUERRILLAS GO PUBLIC

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EAST-CENTRAL EUROPE

UKRAINIAN PRESIDENT HOSTS LATVIAN, LITHUANIAN
LEADERS. Ukrainian President Leonid Kuchma held talks
near Kyiv on 29 November with his Latvian and Lithuanian
counterparts, Ukrainian media reported. The three
discussed how to integrate with the West, how to expand
trade among the three, and also how to deal with the
increasingly authoritarian regime of Belarusian President
Alyaksandr Lukashenka.  PG

MIXED SIGNALS ON UKRAINIAN ECONOMY.  The International
Monetary Fund praised Ukraine's progress in reducing
inflation and managing its economy and thus released a
$103 million tranche of standby credit to Kyiv, Interfax
reported 28 November. But a day earlier, Ukrainian
President Kuchma directed his government's Security
Service to investigate Ukrainian financial markets. His
action followed reports that some Russian banks might be
speculating against the Ukrainian national currency.  PG

CRACKDOWN SPREADS IN BELARUS.  During the past five
days, the authoritarian government of President
Alyaksandr Lukashenka arrested more young protesters.
In Hantsavichy, RFE/RL's Belarusian Service reported  On 28
November, a man was arrested and given 10 days in jail for
displaying a poster protesting these arrests. On 29
November, more than 1,000 people marched in Minsk to
demand that Lukashenka dismiss corrupt officials in his
entourage, Interfax reported. Meanwhile, international
censure of Lukashenka's closure of the independent
Svaboda newspaper continued to spread.  American and
European Union delegations at an OSCE human rights
conference in Warsaw, for example, on 27 November
denounced this move as "contrary to the principles of a
democratic society."  PG

ESTONIA REACTS CAUTIOUSLY TO YELTSIN SUMMIT
PROPOSAL.  The Estonian foreign ministry reacted
positively on 27 November to Russian President Boris
Yeltsin's suggestion following his meeting with Finnish
President Martti Ahtisaari that he would welcome a chance
to meet with Estonian President Lennart Meri. But the next
day, a more senior foreign ministry official said Tallinn was
uncertain as to just what Yeltsin had in mind, BNS reported.
PG

NO QUICK RATIFICATION FOR LITHUANIAN BORDER ACCORD.
Kaliningrad administration chief Leonid Gorbenko told
Russian parliamentarians on 27 November that they should
not move quickly to ratify the border accord between
Moscow and Vilnius, BNS reported on 28 November.
Instead, they should move slowly, possibly taking "decades
or even one hundred years" to do so.  Gorbenko's
statement is not definitive, but it will certainly undercut
Latvian and Estonian interest in seeking to sign an
agreement soon, as Russian President Boris Yeltsin has
urged.   PG

BACKING FOR LATVIA, LITHUANIA TO BEGIN EU ACCESSION
TALKS.  A group of 31 European statesmen and cultural
figures, including retired German foreign minister Hans
Dietrich Genscher and Nobel Prize winner Czeslaw Milosz,
published an open letter in major European newspapers on
28 November calling on the European Union to start
accession talks with Latvia and Lithuania, not just Estonia.
To do otherwise, the appeal said, might undermine the
prospects for a united Europe. Danish and Swedish officials
echoed these comments in press conferences on 29
November, BNS reported. PG

POLISH COURT ORDERS NEW TRIAL FOR COMMUNIST
OFFICIAL.  A Warsaw appeals court on 28 November
ordered a new trial for former General Czeslaw Kiszczak,
the communist official who had given the order for the use
of lethal force at the start of martial law in 1981 and who
had been declared innocent by a lower court in July 1996,
PAP reported. The appeals court said the earlier court's
decision was "unfair."  PG

POLAND GETS MIXED SIGNALS FROM THE EUROPEAN UNION.
Even as EU leaders repeated their view that Poland should
begin accession talks with the EU on March 31, 1998,
European Union officials threatened to block the
importation of Polish dairy products because of what they
called "deplorable" hygienic conditions in that country, PAP
reported 27 November.  The EU spokesman also said that
Poland would have to transform its steel industry to bring
it up to European standards.  PG

CZECH GOVERNMENT RESIGNS. Prime Minister Vaclav Klaus
on 30 November formally handed in his resignation and that
of his government. The decision was announced  after the
two coalition partners of Klaus' Civic Democratic Party
(ODS), the Christian Democrats (KDU-CSL) and the Civic
Democratic Alliance (ODA)  said they would leave the
coalition. President Vaclav Havel on 29 November also
called on the government to resign. Following a meeting
with the heads of the outgoing coalition, Havel asked Klaus
to stay on at the head of a caretaker government. An
extraordinary congress of the ODS will be held on 13-14
December to decide on the future leadership of the party.
Klaus said he does not plan to be part of a future
government. Meanwhile, on 29 November, the ODA elected
Jiri Skalicky as its new leader. MS

. . . AMID ALLEGATIONS OF UNLAWFUL DONATIONS TO KLAUS'
PARTY. Klaus' resignation was prompted by revelations
that a donation of 7.5 million crowns in 1995 came from
businessman Milan Srejber, who later acquired a large
stake in a steel concern privatized by the Klaus
government. Press reports also have alleged the existence
of a secret ODS fund of $5 million in Switzerland collected
through bribes paid by beneficiaries of privatization. Klaus
claimed not to have had knowledge of the donations, which
are forbidden under Czech law, but some of his party
colleagues, in particular deputy ODS chairman Ivan Pilip and
former Interior Minister Jan Ruml, on 28 November said
Klaus must resign. In his speech on 29 November Havel said:
"A politician should not lie, and when he lies, he must bear
the consequences." MS

SLOVAK INDEPENDENT RADIO HARASSED. Radio Twist,
viewed by many as a mouthpiece of the opposition, on 25
November complained that the state telecommunications
company cut off power from the station to force it to tone
down its criticism of Vladimir Meciar's administration,
RFE/RL's Bratislava bureau reported. This is the second
time in two months that the company cut power off from
Radio Twist, claiming that it had not paid its bills.
Electricity was restored in the evening hours. MS

HUNGARY TO GIVE PARLIAMENT SEATS TO MINORITIES. The
government proposed to add 13 seats to the 386-member
parliament next year to ensure the representation of the
country's ethnic minorities, Hungarian media reported on
28 November. Government spokesman Elemer Kiss said the
number of votes necessary for parliamentary
representation of ethnic minorities will be reduced from
7,500 to 5,000. The lists of candidates will be set up by
Hungary's 13 minorities. In separate news, visiting British
Foreign Secretary Robin Cook said in Budapest on 26
November that no country has done more to fulfill
conditions for EU membership than Hungary. Cook said he is
confident that in January Britain will approve Hungary's
NATO membership. MSZ


SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE


KOSOVAR GUERRILLAS GO PUBLIC. Three armed, uniformed
and masked members of the clandestine Kosovo Liberation
Army (UCK) appeared near Srbica on 28 November along
with 20,000 other people at the funeral of a Kosovar killed
in a clash between ethnic Albanians and Serbian police the
previous week. The three men appealed to Kosovars to
support the UCK because it "is the only force that is
fighting and is capable of freeing Kosovo." It was the first
time that UCK members made a public declaration. In Obilic
on 26 November, the UCK kidnapped a high-ranking Serbian
police official, the first political kidnapping that the UCK
has carried out. In various incidents in Kosovo, some four
people were killed and six injured in the course of the
week, the "Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung" reported on 28
November. In at least one incident the police used
helicopters and tanks, while the UCK used more powerful
weapons than its usual machine guns. PM

BELGRADE SAYS KOSOVO ITS OWN AFFAIR. Serbian
presidential candidate and Yugoslav Foreign Minister Milan
Milutinovic said on Belgrade television on 28 November
that Kosovo is Serbia's internal affair and that foreign
mediation is not welcome. French Foreign Minister Hubert
Vedrine and his German counterpart Klaus Kinkel had made
several appeals in the second half of November to
Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic to open talks with
the Kosovars aimed at establishing autonomy for the
province. In Brussels on 28 November, Kosovar shadow-
state President Ibrahim Rugova appealed to the EU to seek
a negotiated solution to the Kosovo question and end the
rise in violence in the province. PM

DRASKOVIC WANTS NEW SERBIAN POLICE FORCE. Vuk
Draskovic, the opposition Serbian Renewal Movement's
candidate in the 7 December Serbian presidential vote,
said on Belgrade television on 30 November that the
Serbian authorities have robbed the public of $3 billion in
savings deposits in recent years and deposited the money
in accounts overseas. He pledged "to recover the money
that this gang of socialists and war profiteers has put into
private accounts in Cyprus, Switzerland and France and
return it to Serbia." Draskovic charged that Serbia has
become a hotbed of lawlessness and promised to set up a
police force answerable only to himself to root out crime
and corruption. PM

IZETBEGOVIC TO LEAVE POLITICS. Alija Izetbegovic, the
Muslim member of the Bosnian joint presidency, told a
conference of Muslim intellectuals in Sarajevo on 29
November that he will not run for a second term.
Izetbegovic said that he plans to leave politics by
September 1998, primarily because of his advanced age of
72. He added that politicians should know when to leave the
scene and not seek to become presidents for life.
Izetbegovic also denied charges in the local independent
media that his government covered up evidence of war
crimes committed by Muslims against Serbs and Croats
(see "RFE/RL Newsline, 13 November 1997). PM

COHEN WANTS LARGER EUROPEAN ROLE IN BOSNIA. U.S.
Secretary of Defense William Cohen told the "Washington
Post" of 30 November that he wants "to see a lot more
contribution coming from others" before he would agree to
keeping U.S. peacekeepers on in Bosnia after SFOR's
mandate runs out in June 1998. Cohen, who has been
opposed to extending the mandate, said that he agrees
that it might be worth a new effort to guarantee that
fighting does not start up again in Bosnia, but stressed that
Europe will have to do more than it has. PM

BOSNIA WANTS CLOSER LINKS TO EUROPE. Foreign Minister
Jadranko Prlic told a meeting of the 16-member Central
European Initiative in Sarajevo on 29 November that his
country "will need a substantial presence and aid from the
international community for some time to come." He added
that the CEI's "support for the fast recovery of Bosnia-
Herzegovina is of particular importance because we share
common commitments and a common destiny in the
region." The conference adopted three documents -- a
Sarajevo Declaration, the Final Document, and the Action
plan for 1998-1999 -- calling for better communication
among  member states and stressing the need to protect
minority rights. PM

CROATIAN LIBERALS DEADLOCKED. The seventh congress of
the Croatian Social-Liberal Party (HSLS) ended in
stalemate in Zagreb on 30 November after failing to elect
a new party president. Former president and current
challenger Drazen Budisa polled 639 votes to incumbent
Vlado Gotovac's 573, but Budisa fell short of the 667 votes
necessary for an absolute majority, "Novi List" reported.
The two men have both run unsuccessfully for the Croatian
presidency against President Franjo Tudjman and have been
at loggerheads for years. The Croatian media have long
predicted that the HSLS will eventually split into pro-
Budisa and pro-Gotovac factions. Last year the party lost
its standing as Croatia's leading opposition party to the
Social Democrats. PM

DIVIDED ALBANIANS MARK NATIONAL DAY. The governing
Socialists and opposition Democrats held rival
celebrations to mark national day on 28 November. The
Socialists held their main event in Vlora in the south.
Opposition Democrats centered their attention on Shkodra
in the north and on Tirana. Meanwhile, the opposition daily
"Albania" reported on 30 November that 32 people were
killed and 45 were wounded during the previous week,
mainly by robbers or in acts of vengeance. PM

ROMANIAN MINISTERS RESIGN. Finance Minister Mircea
Ciumara and Sports Minister Sorin Stanescu resigned from
the cabinet headed by Victor Ciorbea. Ciumara told Reuters
on 30 November that he had submitted his resignation
after Ciorbea asked him to do so two days earlier. He said
he will be acting Finance Minister until the cabinet is
reshuffled. President Emil Constantinescu told reporters in
Bucharest on 28 November that the long-postponed
reshuffle must be implemented by 2 December at latest. If
the coalition partners fail to reach an agreement by then,
Ciorbea will be asked to reshuffle the cabinet "as it best
suits him," he said. Stanescu resigned on 30 November in
protest against what he described as "lack of fair-play in
the country's politics" where "personal interests or group
interests seem to have priority." MS

ROMANIAN PRESIDENT MARKS FIRST YEAR IN OFFICE. In a
televised discussion with journalists marking the first year
of his presidency, Constantinescu on 29 November said
Romania must continue along the path of economic reforms.
He criticized the media for complaining about worsening
living standards and  the slow pace of reforms in one
breath. Constantinescu said reforms cannot be
implemented painlessly and living standards can only raise
after their successful implementation. He said the main
achievements of the government were the reduction of
budget deficits and control over galloping inflation.
Constantinescu said  a year ago Romania's economy looked
like a "terminally ill" patient, which is no longer the case.
MS

OPPOSITION PARTY SPLIT NOW FINAL. The rival groups in
the Party of Romanian National Unity (PUNR) on 29
November held separate gatherings in Cluj and Bucharest,
respectively. At the meeting in Cluj, former PUNR chairman
Gheorghe Funar was again elected to that position with a
vote of 99 percent.  The meeting was attended by PUNR
members from 29 party branches, who decided to amend
the party's statutes. The rival group headed by party
chairman Valeriu Tabara met in Bucharest and decided to
suspend from party membership those who attended the
meetings organized by Funar in Cluj on 22 November, as
well as those who participated in the 29 November meeting
(See "RFE/RL Newsline," 24 November 1997). The Bucharest
meeting was attended by 22 out of PUNR's 25
parliamentarians and by 40 out of 42 chairmen of county
branches. The dispute is likely to be deferred to a tribunal.
MS

TRANSDNIESTRIAN LEADERSHIP ENDS MOSCOW VISIT. The
leader of the Transdniestrian separatists, Igor Smirnov, on
28 November briefed members of the government on his
22-27 November visit to Moscow, BASA-press reported.
He said he met Deputy Prime Minister Valerii Serov and
discussed with him possible solutions to the conflict with
Chisinau. Smirnov proposed Moscow and Tiraspol sign a
joint document guaranteeing Transdniester's security in
case of Russian troops withdrawal. The vice-chairman of
the Transdniestrian Supreme Soviet, Viktor Karamanufla,
said in an interview with Tiraspol television that the
Liberal-Democratic and the Communist factions in the
State Duma are opposed to the position of Duma chairman
Gennadii Seleznev, who urges the ratification of the
Russian-Moldovan basic treaty, initialed in 1990, RFE/RL's
Chisinau bureau reported on 28 November. MS

GAZPROM TELLS MOLDOVA TO PAY DEBT OR FACE
CONSEQUENCES. Prime Minister Ion Ciubuc on 26 November
said Gazprom has warned the Moldovan government that it
will discontinue gas supplies if Chisinau fails to pay its $
500 million debt and delays current payments, ITAR-TASS
reported. Of the Moldovan debt, $332 million is owed by the
Tiraspol authorities. Ciubuc said Moldova has paid Gazprom
$140 million in securities to be repurchased later. The
Moldova-Gaz concern has paid $60 million for current
deliveries since the beginning of 1997, but the sum does
not cover the entire debt accumulated this year, Ciubuc
said. MS

PROGRESS IN BULGARIAN-RUSSIAN TRADE TALKS. Although
Russian Foreign Economic Relations Minister Mikhail
Fradkov had to cut short a planned three-day visit to Sofia
and return to Moscow to participate in talks with Finnish
officials, an RFE/RL Sofia correspondent reported on 27
November that progress was made towards an agreement
for the delivery and transit of Russian natural gas through
Bulgaria. The agreement also provides for the construction
of new gas pipelines across Bulgaria. President Stoyanov is
expected to sign the deal when he visits Moscow on 19
December. Fradkov also confirmed that Russia would settle
its $100 million foreign debt to Sofia, saying half of the
debt will be settled through military equipment deliveries
and the rest through deliveries to Bulgaria's metallurgic
industries. MS

END NOTE

INTRODUCING THE OTHER GUAM

by Liz Fuller

        The newest acronym to add spice to the New World
Order alphabet soup risks confusing cartographers and
laymen alike. Meeting in Strasbourg in mid-October on the
sidelines of the Council of Europe summit,  the presidents
of Georgia, Ukraine, Azerbaijan and Moldova issued a joint
communique registering their shared strategic interests.
The four presidents further affirmed their intention to
deepen political and economic ties and cooperation, both
on a bilateral basis and within regional organizations, and
their mutual interest in questions of regional security.
        This quadrilateral statement marked the admittance
of a fourth member to the "Union of Three" comprising
Georgia, Azerbaijan and Ukraine. This alignment, the
brainchild of Presidents Eduard Shevardnadze, Heidar Aliev
and Leonid Kuchma, had taken shape during the fall of 1996
on the basis of a shared pro-Western orientation, mistrust
of Russia, and the desire to profit jointly from the export
of part of Azerbaijan's Caspian oil via Georgia and Ukraine.
In the case of Azerbaijan and Georgia, dissatisfaction with
Russia's track record as a mediator in the Karabakh and
Abkhaz conflicts provided additional motivation.
        Predictably, Moscow assumed --  wrongly -- that the
impetus for this triple alignment had originated with the
U.S. as part of a strategy to accelerate the erosion of
Russia's influence in the Caucasus and Ukraine. Western
powers, for their part, reacted with alarm and dismay,
conveying the unequivocal message: "Don't rock the boat,
don't risk anything that could irritate Russia,"  especially
during the anticipated difficult period of horsetrading over
NATO's planned expansion eastwards. Consequently, in
public statements during the spring and early summer of
1997, Aliev and Shevardnadze both prudently denied the
existence of any "axis," stressing that the accords
concluded between their two countries and with Ukraine
were exclusively economic in nature.
        The unveiling during the summer of a new U.S. policy
that identified both Central Asia and the Transcaucasus as
spheres of national interest indirectly served to bestow
Washington's approval on the Baku-Tbilisi-Kyiv alignment,
and thereby to increase its attraction to other potential
members.
        Moldova's subsequent inclusion in the alignment
served to formalize a convergence of interests that had
emerged five months earlier. The so-called Flank
Limitations Agreement modifying the1990 Treaty on
Conventional Forces in Europe specifically allowed Russia
to deploy increased amounts of weapons in the
Transcaucasus, Ukraine and Moldova. Of the 32 states bound
by the CFE Treaty, Georgia, Azerbaijan and Moldova ratified
this Agreement only days before the deadline for doing so
in mid-May, and expressed serious misgivings about the
concessions to Russia which it contained.
        At the Strasbourg meeting in October, Azerbaijan's
Foreign Minister Hasan Hasanov had underscored the
economic potential of GUAM, specifically Ukraine's and
Moldova's interest in the TRASECA project intended to
create a coordinated transport corridor from Central Asia
via the Transcaucasus to Europe, and in the possibility of
exporting part of Azerbaijan's Caspian oil via Ukraine or
Romania.  At a subsequent gathering of deputy foreign
ministers from all four countries held in Baku in late
November, however, the primary topic of discussion was
regional security. On that occasion, Hasanov advocated
coordinating security policy within the parameters of
NATO's  Partnership for Peace program, proceeding from
the formula "16 +4" (meaning NATO's present sixteen
members plus the four GUAM states). The strengthening of
quadrilateral ties between GUAM members, Hasanov
continued, should proceed parallel to those states'
integration into European and Euro-Atlantic structures, and
will contribute to strengthening regional security and
stability.
        Both Hasanov and Heidar Aliev explicitly denied that
GUAM was directed either at Russia or at any other state,
saying that the new union was open to other would-be
members. There has not been any official Russian reaction
to the Baku meeting, but Armenian Foreign Ministry
spokesman Arsen Gasparian played down its implications
for his country. Gasparian noted that "Armenia enjoys
normal relations with Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine, and we
are really convinced that this quadripartite cooperation is
not aimed at any other country." (This reaction is in marked
contrast to Hasanov's and Aliev's repeated vehement
condemnation of the Armenian-Russian Treaty on
Friendship, Cooperation and Mutual Assistance signed in
late August which they perceive as directed against
Azerbaijan.) Gasparian conceded, however, that in the light
of the unresolved Karabakh conflict it is unlikely that
Armenia will join GUAM.
        As yet, GUAM remains a purely informal alignment, in
contrast, say, to the CIS and the Russia-Belarus Union, but
potentially more viable than either of those. Its chances of
long-term survival will depend on two factors. The first is
whether Russia reacts with paranoia or equanimity to the
construction of new political, economic and security
alignments in Europe from which it is excluded. The second
is whether the choice of route(s) for the Main Export
Pipeline for Azerbaijan's  and Kazakhstan's Caspian oil could
drive a wedge between GUAM members, with Azerbaijan
(under pressure from the U.S.) opting for the southern
route to the Turkish terminal at Ceyhan, and the remaining
three favoring the Western variant to Supsa on Georgia's
Black Sea coast, and thence via tanker to Odessa and
westwards through Ukraine.

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