The good neighbor looks beyond the external accidents and discerns those inner qualities that make all men human, and therefore, brothers. - Martin Luther King, Jr.
RFE/RL NEWSLINE

RFE/RL NEWSLINE Vol. 1, No. 182, Part II, 18 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

* COUNCIL OF EUROPE MAY SUSPEND UKRAINE OVER
EXECUTIONS

* SFOR ARRESTS TWO WAR CRIMINALS

* CLINTON TO KEEP TROOPS IN BOSNIA

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EAST-CENTRAL EUROPE

COUNCIL OF EUROPE MAY SUSPEND UKRAINE OVER
EXECUTIONS. A Council of Europe statement on 17
December said that Ukrainian membership in the Council of
Europe's Parliamentary Assembly would be suspended next
month unless Kyiv officially declares a moratorium on
executions, Ukrainian media reported. The assembly's
Committee on Legal Affairs and Human Rights said in a
report that the Ukrainian authorities can "no longer be
trusted" over the issue of executions, RFE/RL reported. It
urges that an earlier assembly resolution threatening
suspension if a moratorium is not imposed be carried out.
Ukrainian President Leonid Kuchma has not yet declared a
moratorium, and the national parliament has refused to
approve such a repeal. PG

UKRAINIAN PLANE CRASHES IN GREECE. An Aeroswift
Yak-42 with 71 people abroad crashed near Salonika, ITAR-
TASS reported on 18 December, citing Greek television.  The
plane had come from Kyiv via Odessa.  Greek search crews
have not yet located any wreckage. PG

COMMUNISTS STAGE PROTESTS IN UKRAINIAN
CITIES. Several thousand most elderly hardliners marched
in Kyiv and other Ukrainian cities on 17 December to protest
Kyiv's austerity program and to demand the ouster of the
government, Ukrainian television and Interfax reported. The
communist organizers of the protests said that extreme cold
weather limited the number of participants. In Kharkiv, the
organizers canceled the demonstration owing to the cold. PG

BELARUSIAN PARLIAMENT TIGHTENS PRESS LAW.
Of the 69 deputies present in the lower house of the Belarus
national assembly on 17 December, 64  ratified amendments
tightening  the country's already repressive press law,
RFE/RL's Belarusian service reported.  The same day, a judge
postponed the trial of Pavel Sheremet, the Russian Public
Television  journalist charged with entering the country
illegally in July 1997, and his cameraman Dmitry Zavadskiy.
The journalists' lawyers said the accused have not been
given an opportunity to read the charges against them.  The
trial will be resumed on 23 December. PG

MOSCOW WANTS MILITARY AGREEMENT WITH
BELARUS.  Russian President Boris Yeltsin on 17 December
dispatched his defense minister, Igor Sergeev, to Minsk to
prepare an agreement on military cooperation between the
two countries, ITAR-TASS reported.  Presidential
spokesman Sergei Yastrzhembskii said Yeltsin "has approved
the idea of signing" such an accord.  Meanwhile, in another
indication of warming relations between Moscow and Minsk,
Yastrzhembskii announced that Yeltsin has invited
Belarusian President Alyaksandr Lukashenka to visit
Russia's Yaroslavl Oblast following a request by the oblast
governor. In October, Yeltsin had blocked a visit there by
Lukashenka in the wake of the arrest of ORT journalist
Sheremet. PG

ESTONIAN PARLIAMENT ADOPTS 1998 BUDGET...
Following three months of wrangling between the opposition
and coalition, the parliament has finally passed next year's
budget, ETA reported on 17 December. The budget now
stands at 14.97 billion kroons (roughly $1 billion), its initial
volume having been increased by 500 million kroons during
the budget debates. Some 54 million kroons will be
channeled into an economic stabilization fund, in keeping
with IMF recommendations; together with this year's
surplus revenues and privatization income, that fund will
total 1.2 billion kroons, according to BNS. Some 133 million
kroons are earmarked for a teachers' wage hike under
amendments pushed through by the opposition. Economic
growth is predicted at 5.5 percent. JC

...REJECTS AMENDMENTS TO CUSTOMS TARIFFS LAW.
Also on 17 December, lawmakers rejected amendments to
the custom tariffs law that were recently proposed by
Chancellor of Justice Juhan Truuvali, ETA reported. Truuvali
argued that the law violates the constitution since it
empowers the government, rather than the parliament, to
impose protective tariffs. The law was adopted by the
parliament in October and promulgated by the president in
early November following a year-long dispute between the
opposition and the coalition. Truuvali can now appeal to the
Supreme Court. JC

LATVIA'S KRASTS WANTS MINISTERS TO RENOUNCE
DEPUTY MANDATES. Prime Minister Guntars Krasts has
submitted a proposal to the government Cooperation Council
that cabinet members renounce their mandates as
parliamentary deputies, BNS reported on 17 December.
Krasts has also proposed that ministers be obliged to back
the government's position once the executive has made a
decision on a given issue. If a minister disagreed with a
government decision, he would  be entitled to request that
the council debate the issue, Krasts said. The premier's move
comes shortly after government ministers from the
Democratic Party Saimnieks pushed through an amendment
to the state budget in violation of the coalition agreement
(see "RFE/RL Newsline," 8 December 1997). JC

LITHUANIAN PRESIDENT WANTS YOUTHFUL
SUCCESSOR. Algirdas Brazauskas says he is backing Arturas
Paulauskas, who, at 44, is the youngest of the seven
candidates in the 21 December presidential elections.
Speaking on national television on 17 December, Brazauskas
indicated that both Paulauskas's age and his political
independence influenced that decision. According to BNS,
opinion polls suggest that Paulauskas will win the first
round of the elections but that Valdas Adamkus, a retired
U.S. environmentalist of Lithuanian origin, is likely to beat
him in a run-off. Parliamentary chairman Vytautas
Landsbergis is trailing in third place. Brazauskas, a former
secretary-general of the Lithuanian communist party, said in
October he was standing down after one term in favor of
someone younger "with a clean past." JC

POLISH PARLIAMENT SUPPORTS TOUGH ANTI-
ABORTION LAW. The lower house of the parliament voted
on 17 December to rescind legislation passed by the
previous left-of-center government allowing abortions in
cases of social and economic hardship, PAP reported.
Abortion will now be allowed only in a limited number of
cases related to the health of the mother and the fetus and
when pregnancy is the result of a crime. The parliament's
action restores the 1993 law backed by Pope John Paul II
and the Roman Catholic Church in Poland. PG

POLISH FINANCE MINISTER CHALLENGED OVER PRICE
INCREASES. The leader of the opposition OPZZ trade union
said on 17 December that Finance Minister Leszek
Balcerowicz has violated the law by failing to give adequate
time for consultation with trade unions as required by law,
PAP reported. Stanislaw Wisniewski said his organization
has reported this to prosecutors.  Balcerowicz's spokesman
dismissed the charges and suggested that the OPZZ was
attempting "to mislead public opinion." PG

CZECH PREMIER-DESIGNATE ON FUTURE
GOVERNMENT. Josef Tosovsky on 17 December said he is
not expecting his predecessor to serve in the new
government. Shortly after his formal designation as premier
by President Vaclav Havel, Tosovsky told CTK that, given
Vaclav Klaus' past declarations on not wanting to serve in
the new government, "I consider the question beside the
point." He also said the government will not be formed
"before New Years' Eve." The economy and membership in
NATO and the EU will be his government's priorities,
Tosovsky stressed. Klaus told journalists he was prepared to
meet with Tosovsky "as soon as possible" to "listen to his
ideas" on the future government's program. In a reference to
Christian Democratic Party leader Josef Lux, Klaus said  the
presence of "certain individuals" in the new cabinet might
hinder his Civic Democratic Party from participating in it. MS

KLAUS WANTS CHANGE OF ELECTORAL SYSTEM. Havel
on 17 December rejected Klaus's proposal earlier that day
that the electoral system be changed from proportional
representation to a majority system. Havel said although he
prefers either a majority system or a mixed one, electoral
systems must not be changed "on the spur of the moment in
order to help somebody into the parliament or help them
out of it." Opposition Social Democrat leader Milos Zeman,
said he is not in favor of changing the system  but added
that "the idea could be discussed if...political instability
continues." A change in the electoral system would require
the constitution to be amended. Observers say that Klaus'
proposal is unlikely to be backed by the required three-
fifths majority in the Chamber of Deputies. MS

CZECH MAYOR ON HITLER'S HONORARY CITIZENSHIP.
Karlovy Vary Mayor Josef Pavel says the honorary
citizenship bestowed on Adolf Hitler in 1938 has been
automatically annulled by a 1945 law canceling legal acts
during the Nazi occupation, "Mlada Fronta Dnes" reported on
17 December. The previous day, Pavel's deputy, Zdenek
Musil, said his town will, after all, annul the honorary
citizenship, thus going back on his 10 December declaration
that the honorary citizenshi given to Hitler  must remain in
place as part of the town's history in this century (see
"RFE/RL Newsline," 11 December 1997). MS

SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE

SFOR ARRESTS TWO WAR CRIMINALS. NATO Secretary-
General Javier Solana said in a 18 December statement
released in Sarajevo that Dutch peacekeepers in Vitez the
previous day "detained two Bosnian Croats, Vlatko Kupreskic
and Anto Furundzija, who are indicted for war crimes by the
[Hague-based] International Criminal Tribunal for the
former Yugoslavia." Kupreskic resisted and was wounded in
the ensuing gunfight. SFOR sent both men immediately to
The Hague. NATO has  rarely arrested indicted war
criminals, although its mandate allows it to do so if it comes
into contact with them. Critics charge that the peacekeepers
willingly turn a blind eye to war criminals in order to avoid
violence and possible casualties. Meanwhile in Brussels,
Canadian officials said that Ottawa will give an additional
$600,000 to the tribunal in addition to the $1.8 million it has
already supplied (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 17 December
1997). PM

CLINTON TO KEEP TROOPS IN BOSNIA. President Bill
Clinton has decided to extend the mandate for U.S.
peacekeepers in Bosnia beyond the current June 1998
expiration date, unnamed government officials said in
Washington on 17 December. He is expected to announce his
decision before departing for a brief visit to Bosnia on 21
December. NATO will not make a final decision on a new
mandate until 1 March, but the peacekeepers are likely to
stay if the U.S. is willing to remain part of the mission. In
Brussels, Russian Foreign Minister Yevgenii Primakov said
on 17 December that Russia intends to be part of any
renewed international peacekeeping mission in Bosnia, the
"Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung" reported. PM

FRESH EFFORTS FOR BOSNIAN REFUGEE RETURN. The
European Commission announced in Brussels on 17
December that it has approved a $34 million aid package to
provide housing and jobs for returning refugees, an RFE/RL
correspondent reported from the Belgian capital. In Geneva,
Sadako Ogata, the UN's High Commissioner for Refugees, said
she will give priority in 1998 to helping 50,000 refugees
return to homes in areas now controlled by an ethnic group
other than their own. To date, very few refugees have done
so. The UNHCR plans to resettle 220,000 refugees throughout
Bosnia annually. Since the Dayton agreement was concluded
in November 1995, the UNHCR has helped 194,000 people
return to their homes. In Belgrade, UNHCR officials
announced on 17 December that Mrkonjic Grad is the first
"open city" for refugee return on Bosnian Serb  territory.
Five cities on Muslim or Croatian territory are "open" to
returning refugees. PM

KOSOVAR LEADER WARNS OF WAR. Adem Demaci, who
heads both the Parliamentary Party and a new coalition of
Kosovar political parties and NGOs, told Belgrade's "Dnevni
telegraf" on 17 December that there will be war in Kosovo
unless the Serbian authorities end their repressive policies
toward the ethnic Albanian majority. Demaci's warning of
armed conflict in Kosovo follows similar messages from
Albania and Croatia as well as from the Serbian province
(see "RFE/RL Newsline," 10 and 16 December 1997). PM

ITALY'S MIXED MESSAGE FOR CROATIA. Italian
President Luigi Scalfaro left Zagreb on 17 December after a
two-day visit that included meetings in Pula with
representatives of the 21,000-strong Italian minority and
talks with top Croatian officials. He told his hosts that Europe
counts on Croatia as a factor in promoting regional stability,
an RFE/RL correspondent reported from Zagreb. Scalfaro
promised to help integrate Croatia into European structures
but added that Europe also expects Croatia to meet European
norms in all fields of public life. PM

SLOVENIA TO LIMIT DUAL CITIZENSHIP. Slovenian
officials said in Ljubljana on 17 December that they have
prepared agreements on dual citizenship for consideration
by Macedonia, Bosnia, and Croatia. Under those accords,
some 180,000 Slovenian citizens with family roots in other
former Yugoslav republics would be ineligible for citizenship
in those republics, an RFE/RL correspondent reported from
Ljubljana. PM

ALBANIAN PARLIAMENT GUNMAN SENTENCED TO 11
YEARS. A Tirana court on 17 December sentenced Socialist
legislator Gafur Mazreku to 11 years in prison for attempted
murder, "Koha Jone" reported.  Mazreku shot and wounded
Democratic Party deputy Azem Hajdari  in the parliament in
mid-September (see "RFE/RL Newsline" 19 September
1997). The prosecutor had demanded a 16-year sentence.
Mazreku argued that he fired the shots in an act of revenge
after Hajdari verbally assaulted and punched him in the
parliament. Hajdari, however, claimed the attack was
politically motivated. FS

ALBANIAN PRIME MINISTER SIGNS OIL AGREEMENT
IN BRITAIN. Fatos Nano and representatives of Premier Oil
signed an agreement for oil exploration on 18 December in
London, Albanian Television reported. Premier Oil expects to
invest $270 million in Albania, which will be the country's
largest single foreign investment. The company received
drilling licenses in the southern areas of Patos and Marinza.
During Nano's talks with members of the British
government, London offered to sponsor a roundtable on
Balkan cooperation after it takes over the EU presidency in
January 1998. FS

ROMANIAN PRESIDENT ON  EURO-ATLANTIC
SCHEDULE. Emil Constantinescu on 17 December said he
expects his country to become a NATO member by 2001 and
to join the EU by 2005. Constantinescu said Romania will
"without any doubt" begin negotiations on joining NATO in
1999. He spoke in Bonn during his official visit to Germany,
an RFE/RL correspondent reported. In an interview with
RFE/RL the same day, Foreign Minister Adrian Severin said
Romania considers the recent meeting of NATO foreign
ministers to be of "utmost importance" because the forum
has repeated the intention to continue NATO expansion. MS

ROMANIA'S ILIESCU SPEAKS OUT. In an open letter to
Constantinescu, former President Ion Iliescu demands that
his successor "make public" the understandings reached
between the Hungarian Democratic Federation of Romania
(UDMR) and other coalition members in the 3 December
protocol that preceded the government reshuffle. And in
open letters to Ion Diaconescu, the chairman of the National
Peasant Party Christian Democratic and to UDMR leader Bela
Marko, Iliescu refers to "occult understandings" reached
behind closed doors on amending the education law by
government regulation. Iliescu also protested the intention
to "violate the will of the parliament" and interfere with its
work. Meanwhile, the Party of Romanian National Unity
announced on 17 December that it "does not recognize" the
amendments by government regulation of the education and
local government laws, RFE/RL's Bucharest bureau reported.
MS

ROMANIAN PRESS ON  "CEAUSESCU-CARLOS"
CONNECTION. Citing Romanian media on 17 December, AFP
reported that Romania's late communist dictator Nicolae
Ceausescu hired international terrorist "Carlos the Jackal" to
kill General Ion Mihai Pacepa, a former Securitate general,
who defected to the West in 1978. MS

TENSIONS RESURFACE OVER RUSSIAN GAS
DELIVERIES TO BULGARIA. Tensions have resurfaced
over the delivery of Russian gas supplies to Bulgaria, despite
earlier reports that the dispute has been resolved (see
"RFE/RL Newsline, 21 November 1997). An RFE/RL Sofia
correspondent reported on 17 December that the Multigroup
conglomerate, which owns 50 percent of the Topenergy
company,  is refusing to sell its shares to the state-owned
Bulgargaz.  The other half of the shares is owned by
Gazprom. Bulgarian negotiator Antoine Nikolov accused
Topenergy's Russian executive manager, Sergei Pashin, of
deliberately stalling the restructuring of Topenergy in order
to benefit unnamed private interests. Nikolov said Bulgaria
will now deal directly with Gazprom rather than with
Topenergy officials. He also said Bulgaria will try to form a
new joint venture with Gazprom that involves neither
Topenergy nor Multigroup.  MS

BULGARIAN JOURNALIST REQUESTS CANADIAN
ASYLUM. Eleonora Gountcheva, a journalist working for a
Sofia sports weekly, on 17 December requested asylum in
Canada, dpa reported. She asked to be granted the status of
a political refugee because of threats made on her life and
bomb threats at her place of work after she published
investigative articles on corruption and fraud in Bulgarian
sports. MS

REGIONAL AFFAIRS

RECORD LOW TEMPERATURES IN AZERBAIJAN... In
Azerbaijan, the temperature has fallen to minus 50 degrees
Celsius, the lowest recorded in that country for 25 years,
ANS Press reported on 18 December. All the country's
airports were closed the previous day because of heavy
snow and high winds. State Committee for Refugees
chairman Gulabbas Gakhramanov said the adverse weather
has not affected conditions in the 12 refugee camps where
families made homeless by the Karabakh conflict are
spending their fifth winter in tents. Meanwhile, storms off
the Black Sea port of Novorossiisk have delayed the loading
of tankers with the first consignment of Azerbaijan's Caspian
oil, Caucasus Press reported on 18 December. LF

...AND IN RUSSIA. Record-breaking cold temperatures in
Moscow have killed 22 people in recent days, Reuters
reported on 17 December. A state of emergency was
declared in Krasnodar Krai when a winter storm brought
down power lines and shut off electricity supplies to many
cities, ITAR-TASS reported. Schools have been closed in
many other Russian regions as temperatures dropped below
minus 40 degrees Celsius. LB

FREEZING WEATHER CREATES HAVOC IN EASTERN
EUROPE.  Snow, ice, and temperatures below minus 10
degrees Celsius have disrupted traffic in several parts of
Serbia and severely strained power supplies, local media
reported on 17 December.  Twenty people were reported
dead in Poland. Thirteen homeless persons were reported to
have frozen to death in Bucharest and four people were
reported dead in Bulgaria.  PM/MS

CZECH BANKER STEPS INTO POLITICAL ROUGH AND
TUMBLE

by Breffni O'Rourke

        Czech prime minister-designate Josef Tosovsky has the
reputation of being a strong and determined man, just like
his predecessor, Vaclav Klaus. But the two are dissimilar in
that Tosovsky shuns publicity and lacks the headstrong
arrogance that many felt marked Klaus in office.
        President Vaclav Havel asked Tosovsky  to take the
premiership on 16 December, and his formal appointment
came one day later. Havel noted that,  as a non-partisan
figure to lead what will likely be an interim government,
Tosovsky has the support of the main parties of the center,
right, and left in the parliament.
        As governor of the National Bank since 1989, Tosovsky
has had a powerful role in shaping what was initially seen as
the Czech economic miracle. Later,  when that miracle began
to fade, Klaus the politician was blamed for errors in political
and economic policy, while Tosovsky, the independent
central banker, suffered no damage to his reputation.
        Havel's appointment of Tosovsky can be seen as a
move to calm the country's frayed nerves following the
recent collapse of Klaus's three-party governing coalition.
Prague-based economic analyst Radomir Jac, of Woods
investment brokers, says Tosovsky's appointment sends a
positive signal of steadiness and continuity to both
international and domestic investors. But he questions
whether the move brings any real change for the better to
the Czech political scene. Even if Tosovsky manages to put
together a government in the next few weeks, no one
expects it to last beyond six months. The next scheduled
elections are in 2000, but the main Social Democrat
opposition says it will not throw support behind Tosovsky
unless early elections are held in 1998.
        Certainly, the country is in the doldrums economically,
and until a strong government takes office, the situation can
hardly improve. In the third quarter of this year, economic
growth slowed to a meager 0.8 percent, giving just over 1
percent growth for the year overall. This is the worst growth
rate in Central Europe. In addition, key areas like
privatization, already in disarray, will be stalled in the short
term. And although foreign investors may view Tosovsky's
appointment benignly, they will not be tempted back in
large numbers until real political stability is in sight.
        A major question mark hangs over the intentions of
Klaus's Civic Democratic Party (ODS), the main partner in the
outgoing coalition. Klaus has said he prefers the ODS to go
into opposition, presumably to bide its time until the
elections, which might open the road for him to return to
power.
        Klaus won re-election as party chairman by a wide
margin at the 13-14 December congress, beating off a
challenge by party members disenchanted with his
autocratic style and with the thickening allegations of
irregularities in party funding. Immediately after his re-
election, Klaus said he considered the controversy over
funding to be closed. He thereby sidestepped allegations
about slush funds and a secret party bank account in
Switzerland.
        Despite his solid win inside the party, a split in ODS
ranks remains a possibility, as members of the anti-Klaus
faction see their career opportunities in the party evaporate.
        Klaus has not been driven from the Czech political
stage, despite the rising tide of opposition to him inside and
outside his party. He has proved a political survivor, but
most people feel his star is waning, at least as a future
national leader.
        For his part, Tosovsky is about to leave the world of
professional banking for the rougher and messier life of
politics. If he can lead the country though the coming period
without major upsets, he will have achieved at least
something.

The author is an RFE/RL senior correspondent.

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