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RFE/RL NEWSLINE

RFE/RL NEWSLINE Vol. 1, No. 8, Part II, 8 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

* LUX TO HEAD TALKS ON NEW CZECH GOVERNMENT

* KARADZIC'S PARTY LOSES PARLIAMENTARY MAJORITY

* MILOSEVIC'S CANDIDATE LEADS IN SERBIAN VOTE

* End Note: A NEW BEGINNING FOR ROMANIA'S GOVERNMENT?

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EAST-CENTRAL EUROPE

MORE ECONOMIC PROBLEMS IN UKRAINE.  The
government on 5 December announced that unemployment has
soared by 70 percent since the start of 1997 and now stands at
590,000, ITAR-TASS reported. The authorities also said the
country's shadow economy has exported up to $20 billion out
of Ukraine in the last few years and that up to $12 billion are
circulating illegally inside the country.  Some 150 members of
the parliament signed a joint appeal to six countries asking that
they help repatriate such funds to Ukraine. PG

LUKASHENKA BANS PRIVATE LAWYERS IN BELARUS.
President Alyaksandr Lukashenka on 5 December said all
lawyers in the country will have to join the Bar Union and be
subject to its rules, Belarusian media reported. This ban will hit
foreign firms particularly hard. At present, there are only some
50 private attorneys in Belarus. PG

BANNED BELARUSIAN NEWSPAPER NOW ON INTERNET.
"Svaboda," the opposition newspaper that Minsk recently shut
down, is now available on the Internet, Poland's "Gazeta
Wyborcza" reported on 5 December.  Excerpts from the
newspaper are also being broadcast regularly by RFE/RL's
Belarusian service. PG

HUMAN RIGHTS GROUP CRITICIZES MINSK.
Representatives from 24 countries met in Minsk from 5-7
December to discuss developing better ties among the countries
in the Baltic and Black Sea regions, ITAR-TASS reported. The
meeting, organized by the Belarusian Helsinki Commission and
the International Helsinki Federation, featured speeches
sharply critical of Lukashenka's regime.  PG

BANK OF ESTONIA PRESIDENT SAYS ECONOMIC GROWTH
CONTINUES. In an article published in the daily "Eesti
Paevaleht" on 5 December, Vahur Kraft stressed there is a
neither a crisis in the Estonian economy nor any obstacles to
continued rapid economic growth, BNS reported. Kraft
suggested  that after the recent domestic turmoil triggered by
the meltdown on foreign stock exchanges, the situation has now
stabilized. David Blitzer, chief analyst of the international rating
agency Standard & Poor's, shared Kraft's optimism about
Estonia's economic prospects. He told the "Postimees" daily of 5
December that he does not consider a current account deficit of
some 10 percent to pose a  "very big danger" for a growing
economy like Estonia's. According to the Bank of Estonia, the
country's current account deficit now stands at 9.7 percent of
GDP. JC

GOVERNMENT CRISIS LOOMING IN LATVIA? Prime
Minister Guntars Krasts on 5 December announced he may
dismiss two ministers from the Democratic Party Saimnieks
who pressed for an increased Central Bank contribution to the
budget, BNS and Reuters reported. Krasts said Interior Minister
Ziedonis Cevers and Education Minister Juris Celmins violated
the coalition agreement by proposing that Central Bank
revenues totaling $3.4 million be added to the budget. Central
Bank President Einars Repse had warned such a move would
result in a hidden budget deficit if the bank were unable to
make that contribution. The parliament nonetheless supported
the proposal and passed the budget in the early hours of 5
December. Krasts is due to meet with representatives of the
coalition parties on 8 December to discuss the ministers' fate,
RFE/RL's Latvian service reported, citing "Dienas Bizness." JC

LATVIAN MILITARY TO BE CUT BY ONE-FIFTH. Defense
Minister Talvas Jundzis has warned that armed forces
personnel will have to be cut by 20-25 percent next year
owing to the "meager" defense budget, BNS reported on 6
December. The 1998 budgetary allocation for the armed forces
remains at last year's level of 0.67 percent of GDP and is the
lowest in Europe. Jundzis also warned that Baltic military
cooperation may be threatened by the low level of funding for
the Latvian defense forces. According to the news agency,
Lithuania and Estonia have allocated funds equal to some 1.5
percent of GDP for their defense needs next year. JC

POLAND, GERMANY, DENMARK TO FORM JOINT
MILITARY CORPS.  At a meeting in Warsaw on 5 December,
German Defense Minister Volker Ruhe and his Polish
counterpart, Janusz Onyszkiewicz, announced plans to form a
German-Polish-Danish corps as part of the process of NATO
integration, PAP reported. PG

NEW POLISH PRIME MINISTER PREDICTS TOUGH 1998.
In a televised address to the nation, Polish Prime Minister
Jerzy Buzek said 1998 will be a tough year for Poles because of
the austerity budget he has proposed. He explained that the
budget is necessary to put Poland on the path toward a better
future.  PG

POLISH EX-COMMUNISTS CHOOSE NEW LEADER.  At their
first congress since losing the parliamentary elections, the
Polish Social Democratic Party on 7 December elected its
parliamentary leader, Leszek Miller, as new party chief, PAP
reported. Miller replaces defeated former Prime Minister Jozef
Oleksy, who decided not to run for re-election. Miller, who was
a member of the Politburo at the end of the communist era and
who has a reputation as a hardliner, said the Social Democrats
and their allies must transform themselves in order to
challenge the current center-right government. PG

LUX TO HEAD TALKS ON NEW CZECH GOVERNMENT.
Presidential spokesman Ladislav Spacek has said President
Vaclav Havel will ask Josef Lux, leader of the Christian
Democratic Party, to head preliminary talks on forming a new
government, CTK reported on 7 December. Spacek noted this
does not necessarily mean that Lux will become the next prime
minister. Lux commented that the "next [few] days will be a
test for all politicians to put aside differences and get the Czech
Republic out of its political limbo." Havel, in his weekly radio
address on 7 December, said he would like a new premier to
propose the cabinet line-up "in eight days" but added he is a
"realist" and realizes the country may be headed for early
elections." MS

OUTGOING CZECH COALITION AGREES TO FORM NEW
GOVERNMENT... After meeting with Lux and Civic Democratic
Alliance leader Jiri Skalicky on 5 December, Premier Vaclav
Klaus said the party leaders have agreed to try to form a new
coalition government. Klaus said it is "unclear" whether such a
government would stay in office until 2000,  when new
elections are due, or for a shorter period. The agreement must
be approved at the emergency congress of his Civic Democratic
Party (ODS) scheduled for 13 December. Skalicky said that if
the ODS congress fails to endorse the idea, a shorter-term
solution will have to be found, resulting in early elections. MS

...AS KLAUS'S LEADERSHIP OF OWN PARTY
CHALLENGED. Former Czech Interior Minister Jan Ruml, who
was instrumental in forcing Klaus's resignation,  told CTK on 7
December that he will run against Klaus at the upcoming ODS
congress. Ruml said it is necessary to "create an alternative" to
Klaus. On 6 December, a bomb exploded outside the home of
Finance Minister Ivan Pilip, one of Klaus's rivals within the ODS.
Interior Minister Jindrich Vodicka told Czech Television that
the bomb was of "military origin" and "professionally set."
Klaus reacted by saying he "strongly protested the introduction
of such methods in Czech political life" and called on his
opponents not to use the incident "to further destabilize the
country." Havel said he was "shocked, alarmed, and disgusted"
by the incident. MS

GOVERNMENT SPOKESWOMEN FIRED? The government
press office on 5 December announced that spokeswomen
Ludmila Bulakova and Magda Pospisilova are "no longer
working" at the office. It was not specified whether they
resigned or were forced to leave. Anonymous sources in the
government cited by the daily "Praca" on 6 December said the
firings were triggered by a recent government press
conference at which journalists repeatedly asked about the role
played by Blazena Martinkova as an adviser to Prime Minister
Vladimir Meciar (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 4 December 1997).
Pospisilova had replied that Martinkova is an "adviser, we can
say, for everything." MS

MECIAR REFUSES TO APOLOGIZE TO CZECHS. Meciar
refused to apologize for vulgar references to Czech President
Havel and his wife, Dagmar, that he had made during a rally of
his supporters in Bratislava on 4 December. The remarks
prompted a diplomatic note of protest by the Czech Foreign
Ministry. Meciar said  the "Czechs have slandered him, too," and
that he does not see any reason why he cannot do the same. In
other news, the daily "Sme" on 5 December wrote that Meciar
and Slovak Intelligence Service chief Ivan Lexa on 28
November "really went to Moscow." Meciar had declined to
answer a question in the parliament about the alleged trip (see
"RFE/RL Newsline," 5 December 1997). "Sme" said that Meciar
and Lexa stayed in Moscow just three hours in what is
described as a "secret trip." MS

SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE

KARADZIC'S PARTY LOSES PARLIAMENTARY MAJORITY.
Spokesmen for the Organization on Security and Cooperation in
Europe, which monitored the 22-23 November Bosnian Serb
legislative elections, said in Sarajevo on 7 December that the
hard-line Serbian Democratic Party (SDS) won 24 out of 83
seats, down from the 45 it held previously. The Serbian Radical
Party (SRS), the SDS's main ally, raised its share from six seats
to 15, but the SRS and the SDS have lost their joint legislative
majority. Republika Srpska President Biljana Plavsic's newly
formed Serbian People's League (SNS) will have 15 seats in that
parliament and a small party allied to the SNS will have two.
Muslim and Croatian parties won 18 mandates. Observers are
speculating that a possible coalition is likely to include
Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic's Socialists, who hold
nine seats and could hold the balance of power in the new
legislature. PM

MOSTAR GETS MUSLIM MAYOR. The Muslim-dominated
Mostar town council elected Safet Orucevic as mayor on 5
December. Outgoing Mayor Ivica Prskalo, a Croat, became his
deputy. Orucevic said  his main task is to reunite the isolated,
Muslim-held east Mostar and the Croat-held western half of
the city. Muslims charge that local Croatian power structures
treat Mostar as the capital of western Herzegovina, which is
economically and politically dependent on Croatia. The Croats,
in turn, accuse the Muslims of trying to drive Croats out of
communities in central Bosnia that date back to the Middle
Ages. PM

MILOSEVIC'S CANDIDATE LEADS IN SERBIAN VOTE.
Preliminary returns give Milan Milutinovic of the Milosevic-led
coalition 1,573,392 votes in the 7 December Serbian
presidential elections. The Radical Party's Vojislav Seselj has
1,182,171 votes, and the Serbian Renewal Movement's Vuk
Draskovic  575,773. If election officials conclude that at least
50 percent of the electorate voted and that consequently the
poll was valid, Milutinovic and Seselj will face each other in a
runoff on 21 December. The 7 December vote marked the third
time in as many months that Serbs went to the polls to select a
president. The campaign for that ballot was characterized by
voter apathy and an opposition boycott. Real power in Belgrade
remains in Milosevic's hands. PM

KOSOVAR LEADER SAYS ELECTIONS NOT ALBANIANS'
BUSINESS. Fehmi Agani, the deputy chairman of the
Democratic League of Kosovo (LDK), the main Kosovar political
organization, told an RFE/RL correspondent in Pristina on 7
December that the Albanians did not take part in the vote
because they do not recognize Serbia as their country. Agani
added that the only elections as far as the Kosovars are
concerned are the upcoming ones organized by their shadow
state for the Kosovar presidency and parliament, which the
Serbian authorities consider illegal. BETA news agency reported
that many polling stations in predominantly Albanian areas of
Kosovo did not open for the 7 December Serbian vote. PM

APPEAL FOR MORATORIUM ON KOSOVO VIOLENCE. Adem
Demaci, who heads the Kosovo Democratic Forum, which is
second to the LDK in popular support, called for a three-month
moratorium on violence following a series of shootings by the
clandestine Kosovo Liberation Army (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 5
December 1997). Demaci also appealed to the Serbian
authorities to suspend  repressive measures in Kosovo for the
same amount of time to help create an atmosphere conducive
to dialogue. PM

MONTENEGRO BLAMES BELGRADE FOR ISOLATION.
Montenegrin Deputy Prime Minister Miodrag Vukovic told the
Slovenian daily "Vecer" of 7 December that Slovenian tourists
have recently returned to Montenegro, despite what he called
attempts by Serbian customs officials to delay their arrival.
Vukovic added that the Montenegrin government will not allow
Belgrade to interfere with Podgorica's desire to promote
contacts with the outside world. And at a meeting of the
Podgorica city council, supporters of outgoing President Momir
Bulatovic voted to replace Mayor Mihailo Buric, who supports
President-elect Milo Djukanovic, with Bulatovic loyalist Dragisa
Prsic. PM

CROATIAN LIBERALS SPLIT. Vlado Gotovac, who was
defeated on 30 November in his bid to keep the chairmanship
of the Croatian Social Liberal Party (HSLS), announced in Zagreb
on 5 December that he will found a new party on 24 January
(see "RFE/RL Newsline," 1 December 1997). On 6 December,
Gotovac and his leading backers resigned from the HSLS, and
the next day he  apologized to voters for the months of public
feuding between him and his rival Drazen Budisa, an RFE/RL
correspondent reported from Zagreb. PM

TUDJMAN, SERBS UPBEAT ON SLAVONIA. Croatian UN
Ambassador Ivan Simonovic said in New York on 6 December
that his government welcomes UN Secretary-General Kofi
Annan's recent decision to end the UN's mandate in eastern
Slavonia on 15 January. A UN police contingent will stay on for
an additional six months at the request of both the Croatian
government and the local Serbian authorities. Meanwhile in
Zagreb, President Franjo Tudjman met with leading
representatives of Croatia's Serbian minority, including Vojislav
Stanimirovic from Vukovar and Milorad Pupovac from Zagreb.
Tudjman promised to ensure what he called a normal life for
all citizens in eastern Slavonia. Upon returning to Vukovar,
Stanimirovic called his talks with Tudjman most encouraging.
PM

ALBANIAN MAFIA HAS SPREAD TO STATE
INSTITUTIONS. Agim Tirana, a criminal investigator for the
Albanian government, told "Gazeta Shqiptare" of 6 December
that illegal business dealings have become so widespread
because mafia groups have penetrated state institutions. Tirana
added that the  mafia has close links with organized crime
abroad. He argued that the only way to break the power of the
mafia is to hire thoroughly professional people to work for the
police, the state prosecutor's office, and key ministries. Tirana
also pleaded for more modern crime-fighting equipment and
noted that the mafia can afford the best technology. PM

ROMANIAN PREMIER APPOINTED PARTY DEPUTY
CHAIRMAN. Victor Ciorbea on 5 December was appointed
deputy chairman of the National Peasant Party Christian
Democratic (PNTCD). The measure is aimed at strengthening
Ciorbea's authority in the government and over the PNTCD's
parliamentary faction. According to the PNTCD's statutes,  the
decision must be endorsed by the party's Permanent
Delegation, RFE/RL's Bucharest bureau reported (see also "End
Note" below). In other news, the Alliance for Romania party,
which in June split from the Party of Social Democracy in
Romania, has elected former Foreign Minister Teodor
Melescanu as its chairman at the party's first National
Convention in Bucharest on 6-7 December. MS

U.S., ROMANIA STAGE MILITARY EXERCISE. A 10-day
military exercise called Phiblex-97 began  in the Black Sea port
of Constanta on 5 December, RFE/RL's Bucharest bureau
reported. Some 1,600 U.S. and 150 Romanian sailors are
participating.

MOLDOVAN PRESIDENT ON ELECTORAL LAW. Petru
Lucinschi on 6 December promulgated the electoral law passed
by the parliament in November (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 25
November 1997) but also expressed misgivings about that
legislation, BASA-press reported. Lucinschi said that the
system of proportional representation in a single, nationwide
constituency is "undemocratic" because the party lists are
drawn up by the political parties themselves and the electorate
is thus deprived of choosing from among "real candidates." He
said this system has brought about "a deep and dangerous rift
between the electorate and the deputies representing it in the
legislature." Lucinschi added that the majority of voters would
consider a change to a majoritarian system to be "proof of a
real democracy." MS

VAN DEN BROEK ON EU PROSPECTS OF BULGARIA,
ROMANIA. In an interview with the weekly "168 chasa,"
European Commissioner Hans van den Broek said Bulgaria and
Romania still have to make progress on the road to reform
before they can begin negotiations for EU membership,
Mediafax reported on 5 December, citing AFP.  He noted that
reforms in Bulgaria and Romania were launched only after
their present governments came to power, adding that citizens
in the two countries should not blame the EU for their "own
political and economic past." He concluded by saying that the
problem is not "if" the two countries will join the EU but
"when." MS

A NEW BEGINNING FOR ROMANIA'S GOVERNMENT?

by Michael Shafir

        Victor Ciorbea's 2 December reshuffle of his cabinet was
hardly unexpected. In fact, a reorganization of the government
had been in the offing for nearly two months. The
postponement was symptomatic of what had made the
reshuffle necessary in the first place: a decision-making
paralysis induced by the incapability to heed the primary rule
for a functioning coalition--namely, bargaining and compromise
recognized as a legitimate endeavor.
        In the case of Romania, the difficulty of democratic
apprenticeship is exacerbated by the absence of a political
tradition of compromise. Romania  had had no coalition
government before communism was imposed on the country.
Nor did it have the experience of political bargaining that
emerged in other former communist countries ( Bulgaria,
Czechoslovakia, East Germany, Hungary, Poland) as an outcome
of the "round-table" negotiations that either preceded or
shortly followed the fall of the communist regime. Instead of
collaborating in the implementation of a much-needed reform
program to which they had agreed, the coalition partners have
tried to impose their views on the others. This has often meant
attempting to impose their own people at the head of the
structures tasked with carrying out reform.
         To complicate matters, Ciorbea's team is not merely a
coalition; rather, it is a "coalition of coalitions" since each of its
three main components--the Democratic Convention of Romania
(CDR),  the Social Democratic Union (USD), and the Hungarian
Democratic Federation of Romania--is an alliance of different
political persuasions. This makes bargaining and compromise
even more difficult, since both must take place at three levels:
the party, the parliamentary faction, and the government itself.
        Hence, the constant public bickering among coalition
members, leading to paralysis. Microstabilization of the
economy has not followed the macrostabilization achieved by
the government at the outset of its term as a result of the
liberalization of prices and the exchange rate. Restructuring
and privatization began encountering serious difficulties owing
to an inability to compromise on legislation. One of the
outcomes was insecurity among potential foreign investors.
Hopes of quickly closing the gap between Romania and other
countries that had earlier embarked on reform began to fade.
The reshuffle is an attempt to deal with that problem.
        If it is to achieve its purpose, the new government must,
above all, instill discipline among its members and give
coherence to the cabinet as a whole. Ministers will have to stop
playing to different tunes and the factions that make up the
parliamentary majority will have to ensure discipline among
their own members. Finally, the authority of the premier
himself will have to be increased, since until now Ciorbea has
been more of a mediator than a leader.
        There are indications that some lessons have been
learned. To enhance his authority within the National Peasant
Party Christian Democratic (PNTCD), Ciorbea was made a party
deputy chairman on 5 December. Several days earlier, he had
told journalists that in the future, ministers will have to stop
playing "infantile games" with the press and adhere to the
rules of collective government responsibility. If they failed to
do so, either they would "find themselves out of the cabinet" or
he would resign, Ciorbea threatened.
        Whether such warnings are sufficient remains to be seen.
The newly established Ministry of Privatization is meant to
overcome some of the dysfunctions. The portfolio is held by
former presidential counselor  Valentin Ionescu, a PNTCD
member. But the Democratic Party, the main component of the
USD, made no secret of the fact that it would have liked that
ministry. More bickering ahead, perhaps?
         The CDR paid the heaviest toll in the reshuffle. Minister
of Reform Ulm Spineanu, Education Minister Virgil Petrescu,
and Health Minister Stefan Dragulescu--all of whom are
members of the PNTCD, one of the main components of the
CDR--were replaced by ministers with no party affiliation (Ilie
Serbanescu, Andrei Marga, and Ion Victor Bruckner,
respectively). Finance Minister Mircea Ciumara of the PNTCD
took over the industry and commerce portfolio, making room
for yet another independent, Daniel Daianu, at the Finance
Ministry. This speaks volumes for the managerial capabilities
of a party that boasted it had 15,000 members ready to
assume responsibility of all governmental structures.
        Is the PNTCD caucus likely to gracefully accept the
humiliation or will there be revolt in its ranks? The other main
component of the CDR, the National Liberal Party (PNL), came
out of the reshuffle only slightly better off than the PNTCD. It
saw the departure of the influential Calin Popescu-Tariceanu
from Industry and Commerce Ministry while several of its
ministers were replaced by other PNL members. There are
already indications that the PNL is dissatisfied with the
reshuffle. If the new government is unable to instill discipline
among its ministers and its supporters within the parliament,
the future of not only the cabinet but also the country's reform
process will be at stake.

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