Men stumble over the truth from time to time, but most pick themselves up and hurry off as if nothing happened. - Sir Winston Churchill
RFE/RL NEWSLINE

RFE/RL NEWSLINE Vol. 1, No. 187, Part II, 30 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

Note to readers: "RFE/RL Newsline" will not appear
on 31 December or 1 January, which are public
holidays in the Czech Republic, or on 2 January.

xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx
Headlines, Part II

* NEW CZECH PREMIER PROPOSES GOVERNMENT TO FORMER
COALITION

* SERBIAN RIOT POLICE END KOSOVAR PROTEST

* EU ENDS TRADE BENEFITS FOR BELGRADE

xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

EAST-CENTRAL EUROPE

KUCHMA: UKRAINE TO PROMOTE SMALL BUSINESS.
President Leonid Kuchma told a Kyiv conference on 27
December that he intends to issue a decree in the near
future that will help to promote small business in Ukraine,
Interfax reported on 29 December. He said that he would
simplify registration procedures, taxation, and reporting to
government agencies. And Kuchma added that he had
directed the Ukrainian government to deregulate most
business activities within 30 days.   PG

UKRAINIAN POPULATION CONTINUES TO DECLINE.  As a
result of rising death rates and falling birth rates, the
population of Ukraine declined by approximately 400,000
people in 1997, the State Statistics Committee announced on
26 December. The country's population now stands at 50.48
million, down from 50.85 million a year ago.  PG

TRIALS AND TRIBULATIONS IN BELARUS.  A Minsk court on
29 December found two organizers of a 23 November
demonstration guilty of violating a decree of President
Alyaksandr Lukashenka, RFE/RL Belarus Service reported.
Supreme Soviet deputy Valeriy Shchukin was sentenced to
ten days' imprisonment while Belarusian People's Front vice
chairman Lyavon Barshchewskiy was fined 30 million rubles
(approximately $1,000).  Meanwhile, the trials of deputy
Henadz Karpena and Lyudmila Hraznova on similar charges
were postponed. Also postponed was the trial of ORT
journalist Pavel Sheremet and his cameraman who are
charged with illegally crossing the Belarus-Lithuanian
border. Sheremet is ill.  PG

LUKASHENKA TO "SPONSOR" BELARUS ART.  President
Alyaksandr Lukashenka said on 29 December that his
government is prepared to finance culture and art but will
not "sponsor mediocrity," Interfax reported.  But in a speech
to the country's leading cultural figures, he lashed out at the
failure of some cultural groups to use state subsidies
"properly" and noted that "artists,' writers' and composers'
work has become less efficient. The Belarusian cultural elite
more and more rarely causes the community to rejoice in
their remarkable success."   PG

LATVIAN PRESIDENT: IMPROVED TIES WITH RUSSIA
POSSIBLE. In a nationwide radio address 29 December,
President Guntis Ulmanis said that he saw reason to hope for
improved relations between the Baltic states and Russia,
ITAR-TASS reported. Ulmanis also said he would continue to
promote discussions on the integration of residents of Latvia
who are not citizens. And he said that Latvia needs to
increase its military spending if it is to be taken seriously as
a candidate for NATO membership. The Latvian leader
acknowledged that life has not improved for many in his
country, but he expressed the hope that the number of those
who are nostalgic for the past would not increase in the new
year.  PG

POLISH PRESIDENCY CALLS FOR BETTER COORDINATION
WITH GOVERNMENT. Presidential advisor Ryszard Kalisz on
29 December called on the government to allow
representatives of the presidency to participate in cabinet
meetings. He pointed out that misunderstandings between
the presidency and the government in drafting legislation
could be avoided if there was better coordination between
both institutions. Last week, President Aleksander
Kwasniewski returned two government-sponsored bills to
parliament (see "RFE/RL Newsline" 29 December 1997). In
November, Prime Minister Jerzy Buzek wrote to
Kwasniewski that he saw no need for presidential
representatives to attend cabinet meetings, ending a seven-
year tradition. FS

NEW CZECH PREMIER PROPOSES GOVERNMENT TO FORMER
COALITION. Josef Tosovsky on 29 December proposed a list
of government ministers to the three former coalition
partners. Despite criticism from his predecessor and Civic
Democratic Party (ODS) Chairman Vaclav Klaus, Tosovsky
included former Finance Minister Ivan Pilip, Deputy Foreign
Minister Michal Lobkowitz and Ivo Sanc, the mayor of Kutna
Hora, in his proposal. The three ODS members are outspoken
critics of Klaus and are unacceptable to the ODS leadership.
Several other proposed cabinet members are non-partisan.
Tosovsky said he selected the group on the basis of their
expert knowledge and ability to work as a team. Tosovsky
invited the heads of the former coalition to talks on 30
December, but Klaus declined to attend, sending his deputy
Libuse Benesova instead. FS

PRAGUE, BONN LAUNCH RECONCILIATION FUND. Czech
Foreign Minister Jaroslav Sedivy and Germany's ambassador
to the Czech Republic Anton Rossbach formally agreed in
Prague on 29 December to launch a joint reconciliation fund
on 1 January 1998. Germany will pay $80 million and the
Czech Republic --  $14 million over the next four years. The
fund will compensate Czech victims of the Nazi-regime and
finance projects linking the Czech and German peoples. It
will also provide for pensioners' homes and sanatoriums for
about 8,500 Czech survivors of the Holocaust. Both sides had
signed a declaration of reconciliation on 20 January 1997
and agreed to create the fund by the end of the year.
Germany, however, delayed the move because of opposition
from Sudeten German groups, who wanted to be included in
the fund's administration. Prague rejected such participation,
arguing that these groups never recognized the declaration.
FS

CZECHS INCREASINGLY IN FAVOR OF NATO MEMBERSHIP.
Fifty-three percent out of 1,118 Czechs polled by the state
statistical office IVVM, support  NATO membership. The
results, published on 23 December, indicate that support for
the Czech Republic's military integration has risen
considerably since November, when the last poll showed
only 43 percent support. The number of undecided
respondents fell from 28 to 20 percent over the same time
period. It was the strongest pro-NATO result in an IVVM
poll since Prague was invited to begin membership talks in
July. FS

ONE THIRD OF HUNGARY'S PRISONERS COMPLAIN ABOUT
HUMAN RIGHTS ABUSES. One third out of 700 prisoners
questioned in a survey said they were subject to police
abuses. The results of the poll, conducted by the Hungarian
Helsinki Committee and the Institute of Juridical Politics and
the Constitution, was published on 23 December. The poll
also found that foreign prisoners, gypsies and young
offenders were more often exposed to police violence than
others. The human rights groups also criticized poor
conditions and overcrowding of the prisons. FS

HUNGARY ENDS ANONYMITY FOR AIDS SUFFERERS. A new
law will take effect on 1 January, obliging people tested
HIV-positive to give identification to the health authorities.
The law covers altogether fifty contagious diseases.
According to the World Health Organization, Hungary had
265 cases of full-blown AIDS in September. Human rights
groups and former Health Minister Judit Csehak have
expressed concern that the new law may be
counterproductive and scare people away from AIDS tests,
fearing stigmatization. FS

HUNGARY'S GREENS ADVERTISE FOR ELECTION CANDIDATES.
The Green Party has launched an advertising campaign in
daily newspapers, seeking parliamentary candidates for the
upcoming elections. The Greens, who gained less than one
percent in the 1994 parliamentary elections, are short of
members. Party chairman Zoltan Medvecki told Reuters on
29 December that "We don't think our members are the
wisest people in the country so we would like to give a
chance to the most suitable candidates." FS

SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE

SERBIAN RIOT POLICE END KOSOVAR PROTEST. Hundreds of
heavily-armed riot police, who were backed up by water
cannon and armored vehicles, baton charged ethnic Albanian
students staging a peaceful protest march in Pristina on 30
December. The students want the government to restore
Albanian-language education, particularly at Pristina
University. The Serbian authorities have frequently used
force to break up Albanian protests in recent years (see
"RFE/RL Newsline," 29 December 1997). The "Frankfurter
Allgemeine Zeitung" reported on 29 December that young
people in Kosovo are increasingly becoming radicalized and
sympathetic to the clandestine Kosovo Liberation Army. This
is the result of the continued failure of the moderate
Kosovar leadership to achieve any of its basic goals aimed at
restoring the province's autonomy. PM

KOSOVARS TO VOTE IN MARCH. Kosovo shadow-state
President Ibrahim Rugova announced in Pristina on 24
December that parliamentary and presidential elections will
take place on 22 March. Rugova added that the Kosovar
leadership took the decision to hold the vote after consulting
with what he called the Kosovars' foreign friends. He said
that Kosovo's international position is stronger now than it
was in 1992, when the last vote took place. Rugova pointed
out that 14 seats in the 144-seat legislature are reserved for
Serbs, who make up approximately ten percent of the
province's population. Rugova called on local Serbs to take
part in the vote. The Serbian authorities regard the shadow
state and its activities as illegal. PM

EU ENDS TRADE BENEFITS FOR BELGRADE. Officials of the EU
announced in Brussels on 29 December that the EU will
continue to extend trade benefits to Bosnia and Croatia in
1998 but not to President Slobodan Milosevic's Yugoslavia. A
statement said that Belgrade has failed to cooperate
sufficiently in the regional peace process, to solve the Kosovo
question, or to honor EU recommendations on
democratization. Macedonia also will no longer receive the
trade benefits, but this is because it recently concluded a
bilateral agreement with the EU and hence moves into a
better type of relationship with Brussels. PM

RADICALS WALK OUT OF SERBIAN PARLIAMENT. The
Serbian Radical Party's Vojislav Seselj and his supporters
stormed out of the legislature on 29 December after that
body refused to consider the Radicals' demand for an
investigation of the 21 December presidential vote (see
"RFE/RL Newsline," 29 December 1997). The coalition, which
lacks an overall majority, nonetheless agreed to an
opposition demand that legislative proceedings be televised
in order to receive opposition consent to convene
parliament, an RFE/RL correspondent reported from
Belgrade. PM

YUGOSLAV PARLIAMENT APPROVES BUDGET. The federal
legislature also met on 29 December and passed a $1.6
billion budget for 1998. The sum represents 9.13 percent of
the GNP and an increase of five percent over the 1997
budget. Some two-thirds of the 1998 budget goes to the
military, mainly to pay salaries, an RFE/RL correspondent
reported from Belgrade. The military  had originally
requested a larger sum. On 30 December, however,
parliament did not meet as scheduled. Instead, its electoral
commission looked into challenges to the validity of the
election of numerous opposition deputies, BETA news agency
reported. PM

YUGOSLAV GOVERNMENT "PLEASED" WITH MEDIA. Federal
Information Secretary Goran Matic said in Belgrade on 29
December that no former Yugoslav republic has enjoyed
such a "media boom" as have Serbia and Montenegro, the
Belgrade daily "Danas" reported. Matic called "tendentious"
claims by the EU and others that there are restrictions on
the media in Serbia. PM

DJUKANOVIC TO BECOME MONTENEGRIN PRESIDENT.
Parliament decided in Podgorica on 29 December that
President-elect Milo Djukanovic will take office on 15
January, an RFE/RL correspondent reported from the
Montenegrin capital. Meanwhile in Belgrade, a spokesman
for the pro-Milosevic federal prosecutor's office challenged
the legality of Djukanovic's election. Djukanovic favors
greater autonomy for Montenegro vis-a-vis Belgrade. PM

A TECHNOCRATIC GOVERNMENT FOR BOSNIAN SERBS?
Mladen Ivanic, Republika Srpska President Biljana Plavsic's
nominee for prime minister, told RFE/RL on 29 December
that the Bosnian Serbs need a national unity government of
experts. He added that forming a government of
professionals who stand above politics is the only way to
bring the Republika Srpska out of its present crisis.
Meanwhile in Podgorica, Plavsic told the daily "Pobjeda" that
the Bosnian Serbs' main need is for unity. PM

GANIC NEW BOSNIAN FEDERAL PRESIDENT. Ejup Ganic, a
Muslim, will succeed Vladimir Soljic, a Croat, as president of
the federation for 1998, an RFE/RL correspondent reported
from Sarajevo on 29 December. The change comes as part of
a normal rotation of the presidency between Croats and
Muslims. PM

BOSNIA HAS EVIDENCE OF ARKAN'S CRIMES. Smail Cekic, the
head of Bosnia's war crimes commission, said on 28
December that the government has ample proof of the
involvement of Serbian paramilitary leader Zeljko
Raznatovic, better known as Arkan, in war crimes against
non-Serb civilians. Cekic added the recent theft of evidence
against Arkan in Sweden will not affect the case against the
warlord (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 29 December 1997). PM

ALBANIAN OPPOSITION PROTESTS VISIT OF GREEK DEFENSE
MINISTER. Democratic Party leader Sali Berisha protested
the visit of Greek Defense Minister Akis Tsohatzopoulos on
29 December, Enter reported. Berisha claims that the
presence of Greek troops on the territory of Albania
constituted a violation of its sovereignty. The Albanian
government rejected the claims. Albania hosts Greek soldiers
as part of a bilateral cooperation accord. The Greek army is
assisting Albania in the reconstruction of a military hospital
as well as in training and equipment. Before arriving in
Albania, the Greek minister said in Sarajevo that Greece will
participate in future peacekeeping work in Bosnia and help
with reconstruction. FS

MORE BOMB EXPLOSIONS IN SOUTHERN ALBANIA. The tenth
bomb explosion near Gjirokaster within one month
destroyed a bridge over the Drinos River on 27 December.
The blast also damaged a number of buildings, but no
injuries have been reported. The previous day another
explosion destroyed the office of a doctor who is a member
of the Socialist Party, ATSH reported. Interior Minister
Neritan Ceka called the recent series of bomb blasts
"organized political crimes aimed at giving the impression
that order has not been restored in Albania," according to
AFP. He also claimed that "the opposition is conducting a
policy of banditry and inciting the population to keep
weapons and cause explosions." FS

ROMANIAN TRANSPORT MINISTER RESIGNS. Transport
Minister Traian Basescu handed in his resignation on 29
December after Prime Minister Victor Ciorbea asked him to
take back critical statements or to step down.  The move
followed statements by Basescu published the same day by
"Evenimentul Zilei," in which he implied that the government
was incompetent. Basescu had said in an interview that the
"government did not have the strength to take important
decisions" and criticized the "useless 18-hour long sessions"
of Ciorbea's cabinet. He added that "this cabinet is far away
from making the reforms at the level that was requested by
foreign institutions, such as the World Bank and IMF." Also
on 29 December,  new Foreign Minister Andrei Plesu was
sworn in. Plesu replaces Adrian Severin, who resigned over
unproven claims that several party leaders and newspaper
editors were spies. FS

ROMANIA HOLDS EUROPEAN RECORD FOR INFANT
MORTALITY. Twenty-seven out of 1,000 live born children
die in Romania, according to data presented by President
Emil Constantinescu on public television on 23 December.
Due to inadequate post-natal care,  70 percent of the deaths
occur in the first 28 days of life. Romania has 2,605 AIDS
infected children. Most of the AIDS cases are blamed on poor
hospital hygiene, unscreened blood transfusions and lack of
disposable syringes in the communist era. Most of the
100,000 children in state institutions are not orphaned, but
abandoned. In 1997 alone, about 5,000 children were
abandoned by their parents. There are an estimated 4,300
children living on Romania's streets, most of whom fled
violence at home. Romania was a European leader in infant
mortality before World War II. FS

ROMANIAN AGRICULTURAL MINISTRY BANS FISHING IN
DANUBE DELTA. The Agricultural Ministry banned fishing in
the Danube Delta and surrounding lakes on 29 December to
prevent over-fishing. Governor Andrei Svoronos said the
move was intended to protect fish species in the ecologically
endangered region. He estimated that 14,000 tons of fish
were caught this year, 11,400 tons more than authorized. He
blamed "mafia networks" for overfishing the region and thus
endangering the survival of several other species, especially
birds. In other news, painter and philosopher Corneliu Baba
died in Bucharest on 29 December at the age of 91. FS

FORMER ROMANIAN PROSECUTOR DENIES AUTHORIZING
INCINERATING REVOLUTION VICTIMS. Communist-era
deputy chief prosecutor Gheorghe Diaconescu has denied
that the Romanian judiciary approved the incineration of the
bodies of 40 anti-communist protesters killed in Timisoara
on 16 and 17 December 1989. Dictator Nicolae Ceausescu's
wife, Elena,  had ordered the disposal of the bodies, which
had been left at the local hospital morgue on 18 December.
Overnight they were loaded onto a refrigerated truck and
taken to Bucharest for incineration and then disposed of via
the drains. The head of the current military court Dan
Voinea claims that Diaconescu authorized the incineration.
Judicial officials had identified the bodies and issued
individual certificates for each death. FS

END NOTE

1997: Another Busy Year for the IMF in the Post-Communist
World

by Michael Wyzan

        The International Monetary Fund (IMF) continues to
play the dominant role in providing financial support for the
balance of payments of post-communist and developing
countries. The fund has the dual role of providing such
support and of encouraging economic reform by attaching
stringent conditions to its loans.
        In 1997 the IMF approved new credits for Albania,
Armenia (actually, the second annual loan under a three-
year facility), Azerbaijan, Bulgaria, Croatia, Estonia, Georgia
(an identical situation to Armenia's), Kyrgyzstan, Latvia,
Macedonia, Mongolia, Romania, Tajikistan, and Ukraine.
        Among the transition countries not listed, some -
including Kazakhstan, Lithuania, Moldova, and Russia -
attempted during the year to qualify for the release of
tranches under existing loans. The Visegrad countries have
had sufficiently strong private capital inflows not to rely on
the IMF for balance-of-payments support, although Hungary
was awarded a two-year loan in March 1996, which it has
not drawn upon.
        The IMF suspended lending in1995 to Belarus and
Uzbekistan out of dissatisfaction with their weak reform
efforts, in the latter case citing the restrictive foreign
exchange regime introduced that year. Two further striking
cases are Federal Yugoslavia and Turkmenistan. The former
has been under UN sanctions and is not yet a member of the
IMF; the latter is a member, but has not been sufficiently
reformist to quality for support.
        Bulgaria and Romania won large new loans in April (in
this endnote, all agreements are dated based on when hey
received approval from the IMF's Executive Board), as new,
reformist governments vowed to put their predecessors'
sluggishness behind them. The Bulgarian loan is supposed to
provide $657 million over 14 months, while the Romanian
one is slated to provide $414 million over 13 months.
Subsequently, the fund pronounced itself satisfied with
Bulgarian economic policy, and released additional loan
tranches in July, August, and December.
        Romania's relations with the fund in1997 were
problematic, however. In the summer the IMF criticized the
size of the budget deficit, continuing high inflation, and price
controls on energy and food products. It was especially
concerned about the slow pace of liquidation and
privatization of state enterprises, prompting the government
to announce in August the closure of 17 enterprises. That
move led to the Fund's releasing of the second tranche in
September.
        The IMF remains concerned about slow privatization
and high inflation in Romania. However, a privatization
decree issued on 21 December, if passed by parliament in
February, may help convince it to release the next tranche in
early 1998.
        Albania received $12 million from the IMF in
November for "emergency post-conflict assistance." In
August, the IMF HAD set as conditions for renewed lending
that the authorities close the remaining pyramid schemes,
privatize or liquidate two of three state banks, reform the
civil service, create an agricultural land market, improve tax
collection, raise tax rates, and cut government spending.
Agreement was held up until November by legal problems
involving the closure of the pyramids. Tajikistan received a
similar, $10 million, loan in December.
        At the other end of the spectrum are Estonia and
Latvia, which both received standby loans late in 1997 -
worth $22 million and $45 million, respectively - which they
do not intend at present  to draw upon.
        Relations between the IMF and Croatia made headlines
in an unusual way in1997. Under pressure from the United
States, the fund in July refused to release a $40 million loan
tranche. The U.S. cited Zagreb's balking at releasing war
criminals to the Hague. Those individuals were apprehended
and dispatched to the Netherlands in October, and the IMF
approved the release of the money, but Croatia then decided
it did not need the funds after all.
        Russia and Ukraine, two of the IMF's biggest
borrowers, experienced ups and downs in their relations
with it IN 1997. In October, the fund, citing poor tax
collection, announced that it would not release a $700
million tranche of a loan to Russia until early 1998.
However, an IMF mission in December recommended
releasing it, citing progress in that area.
        Ukraine received a one-year, $542 million standby
loan in August. That is not as good news as it seems, since
Kyiv and the IMF had been negotiating over a $2.9 billion,
three-year loan, but in the end the fund decided that reform
progress had been insufficient.
        Relations with the IMF mirror the overall direction of
transition
economies. Relations remain on track between the fund and
the
Transcaucasian states, even though Georgia and Azerbaijan
were slow starters on reform. In contrast, the IMF, citing
problems with
privatization, energy pricing, and the budget deficit,
postponed from June until July releasing one loan tranche to
Moldova (an early CIS reformer); it then delayed until early
1998 releasing the next one.

*Michael Wyzan is an economist living in Austria.

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

SUBSCRIBING:
1) To subscribe to RFERL-L, please send a message to
        listserv@listserv.acsu.buffalo.edu
2) In the text of your message, type
        subscribe RFERL-L YourFirstName YourLastName

UNSUBSCRIBING:
1) To un-subscribe to RFERL-L, please send a message to
        listserv@listserv.acsu.buffalo.edu
2) In the text of your message, type
        unsubscribe RFERL-L

Current and Back Issues
Back issues of RFE/RL Newsline and the OMRI Daily Digest
are online at:
http://www.rferl.org/newsline/search/

Listen to news for 13 countries
RFE/RL programs for countries in Eastern Europe, the
Caucasus, Central Asia, Russia and the South Slavic region
are online daily at RFE/RL's 24-Hour LIVE Broadcast
Studio.
http://www.rferl.org/realaudio/index.html

Reprint Policy
To receive reprint permission, please contact
Paul Goble, Publisher
Email: GobleP@rferl.org
Phone: 202-457-6947
Fax: 202-457-6992
Postal Address:  RFE/RL,  1201 Connecticut Ave., NW
Washington, DC  20036  USA

RFE/RL Newsline Staff:
* Paul Goble, Publisher, GobleP@rferl.org
* Liz Fuller, Editor-in-Chief, CarlsonE@rferl.org
* Patrick Moore, Team Leader, MooreP@rferl.org
* Laurie Belin, BelinL@rferl.org
* Bruce Pannier, PannierB@rferl.org
* Michael Shafir, ShafirM@rferl.org
* Jan Cleave, CleaveJ@rferl.org

Freelance And Occasional Contributors
* Fabian Schmidt
* Matyas Szabo
* Jeremy Bransten
* Jolyon Naegele
* Anthony Wesolowsky
* Julia Guechakov

RFE/RL Newsline Fax: (420-2) 2112-3630

[English] [Russian TRANS | KOI8 | ALT | WIN | MAC | ISO5]

F&P Home ° Comments ° Guestbook


1996 Friends and Partners
Natasha Bulashova, Greg Cole
Please visit the Russian and American mirror sites of Friends and Partners.
Updated: 1998-11-

Please write to us with your comments and suggestions.

F&P Quick Search
Main Sections
Home
Bulletin Board
Chat Room
F&P Listserver

RFE/RL
1999
1998
1997
1996
1995
1994
1993
1992
1991
Search

News
News From Russia/NIS
News About Russia/NIS
Newspapers & Magazines
Global News
Weather

©1996 Friends and Partners
Please write to us with any comments, questions or suggestions -- Natasha Bulashova, Greg Cole