Part of the sercret of success in life is to eat what you like and let the food fight it out inside. - Mark Twain
RFE/RL NEWSLINE

RFE/RL NEWSLINE Vol. 1, No. 194, Part II, 13 January 1998



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

xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx
Headlines, Part II

* POLISH YOUTHS, POLICE CONTINUE TO CLASH

* MONTENEGRIN HARD-LINERS KEEP UP PROTESTS

* COMMISSION SAYS BERISHA WANTED TO BOMBARD
SOUTHERN ALBANIA

xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

EAST-CENTRAL EUROPE

RUSSIAN JUSTICE MINISTER ON RELATIONS WITH
BELARUS. Sergei Stepashin said before leaving for Belarus
that although relations between Moscow and Minsk are
improving, problems remain owing to the countries' different
approaches toward Russian-Belarusian unity, RIA reported on
13 January. Stepashin will meet with Belarusian President
Alyaksandr Lukashenka and other officials during his two-day
visit to Minsk. The two sides are expected to seek ways to
unify legislation. PB

OSCE MISSION HEAD IN MINSK FOR TALKS. German
diplomat Hans-Georg Wieck arrived in the Belarusian capital
for talks about the opening of the Organization on Security and
Cooperation in Europe's  Minsk office, RFE/RL reported on 12
January. Last month, Wieck was named head of the Minsk
mission, which is expected to open in February. OSCE and
Belarusian officials had lengthy arguments in 1997 about the
purpose of the mission, which the OSCE says is to assist with
building democracy in Belarus. Wieck, who was previously
German ambassador in Moscow, is expected to meet with
opposition figures during his three-day stay. PB

LATVIA'S ULMANIS WRITES TO YELTSIN ON
RELATIONS. Latvian President Guntis Ulmanis has sent a
letter on cooperation to his Russian counterpart, Boris Yeltsin,
BNS reported on 12 January. Ulmanis told the news agency that
in the letter, he shared his views on "how we should view
historical processes, how we see the further development of
our region, and what our further cooperation should be." He
gave no other details about the letter's contents. Later that day,
Ulmanis left for the U.S., where he and his Estonian and
Lithuanian counterparts are due to sign the Baltic-U.S. charter
on 16 January. JC

REPORT SAYS U.S. TO BACK BALTIC MEMBERSHIP IN
NATO. "The New York Times" on 12 January reported that
Washington will formally pledge to support NATO membership
for the Baltic States but has told those countries they cannot
expect to be admitted to the alliance any time soon. The Baltic-
U.S. charter declares a political commitment to maintaining the
Baltics' sovereignty and national borders without pledging U.S.
military power in defense of those principles. The daily quotes
an unidentified senior U.S. official as saying the charter seeks
to give the three countries a sense that they can become part of
the EU and NATO. JC

STOCKS SINK 10 PERCENT IN TALLINN. The TALSE index
fell by 10.47 percent on 12 January,  ETA reported. Banks were
hardest hit, with Tallinna Pank shares falling by 16.4 percent.
Brokers said the Tallinn exchange was influenced by instability
on the Asian and European markets. There were also fears that
recent increases on the exchange were unjustified and that
foreign investors consider prices too high. JC

LITHUANIAN RULING PARTY, OPPOSITION RESPECT
COURT DECISION. Deputy Parliamentary Chairman Andrius
Kubilius of the Conservative Party says the Constitutional
Court's decision on the transfer of power (see "RFE/RL
Newsline," 12 January 1998) is legally binding and thus the
president-elect has no right to choose a new head of
government, BNS reported on 12 January. Kubilius added that
the decision  should put an end to speculation on the topic.
Ceslovas Jursenas, the leader of the opposition Democratic
Labor Party, similarly acknowledged that the ruling is binding.
But he once again urged Prime Minister Gediminas Vagnorius
to replace several members of his cabinet, including Interior
Minister Vidmantas Ziemelis. JC

POLAND'S FORMER PRISONERS WANT COMPENSATION
FOR GULAG LABOR. An organization representing some
90,000 Polish veterans of the Soviet Gulag have called on the
government to demand compensation from Russia for the slave
labor they performed while imprisoned, RFE/RL reported on 12
January. Ryszard Reiff, the head of the Polish Association of
Siberians, said the group seeks "remembrance of those who
died and reconciliation of those who survived." Reiff claims that
some 1.6 million Poles were deported to labor camps during
the Second World War and that approximately half of them
perished. PB

POLISH YOUTHS, POLICE CONTINUE TO CLASH. Some 300
youths beat policemen and rioted in the northern city of Slupsk
for a third straight night, Reuters reported on 12 January. The
violence began after the alleged beating to death of a teenager
following a basketball game. The city prosecutor first claimed
the boy died after running into a barrier while attempting to
evade police. However, an officer suspected of beating the boy
repeatedly with a baton has since been detained. PB

CZECH GOVERNMENT PLANS JUNE ELECTIONS.
Government spokesman Vladimir Mlynar on 12 January said
the government is drawing up plans for early parliamentary
elections in June, CTK reported. Mlynar said the Chamber of
Deputies would be dissolved on 20 April, which in accordance
with the election law, would allow a 60-day period to elapse
before elections are held on 19 June.  AFP quoted Mlynar as
saying that under the plan, the government will present to the
parliament a bill on the sale of state-owned banks, which has
already been rejected by the chamber, and will make its
passage a "matter of confidence" in the government. Under the
constitution, rejection of the bill would allow the parliament to
be dissolved on 20 April. MS

HUNGARY, SLOVAKIA DISCUSS HYDROPOWER DAM
PROPOSALS. Slovakia  has rejected Hungarian proposals to
replace the unfinished hydro-electric  dam at Nagymaros but
agreed that the water level of the River Danube should be
maintained by building a plant identical or similar to the one
originally planned. Hungarian delegation head Janos Nemcsok
told Hungarian media after talks in Bratislava on 12 January
that Slovakia is ready to drop its insistence that a dam be built
at Nagymaros and has accepted as a partial solution Hungary's
proposal to make the reservoir at Dunakiliti operational. The
two sides released a joint statement expressing the need to
honor the 1977 agreement as much as possible  but noted that
the document cannot be fully honored . The next round of talks
is scheduled for 26 January in Budapest. MSZ

SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE

MONTENEGRIN HARD-LINERS KEEP UP PROTESTS. Some
15,000 supporters of outgoing President Momir Bulatovic, who
is an ally of Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic,
demonstrated late into the night of 12-13 January in Podgorica,
an RFE/RL correspondent reported from the Montenegrin
capital. Police loyal to incoming reformist President Milo
Djukanovic confiscated guns and explosives from the
demonstrators, who called for new presidential and legislative
elections. Bulatovic urged his backers to keep up the protests
and denied remarks made by visiting U.S. special envoy Robert
Gelbard that Bulatovic has accepted Djukanovic's victory. PM

U.S. PLEDGES AID TO MONTENEGRO. Gelbard said after
meeting with Bulatovic and Djukanovic in Podgorica on 12
January that Washington welcomes Djukanovic's election and
pledges $2 million to help him launch political and economic
reforms. Gelbard warned Bulatovic's supporters that it would
be a "serious error to oppose in any way the will of the people
expressed in that election." PM

YUGOSLAV ARMY GIVES PRIORITY TO KOSOVO. Chief-of-
Staff General Momcilo Perisic and other Yugoslav military
leaders consider the danger of ethnic unrest in Kosovo very
real and have made dealing with it their top priority, "Nasa
Borba" reported on 13 January, citing sources close to Perisic.
The military are determined to avoid having to fight opponents
of President Slobodan Milosevic on two fronts and
consequently do not want to be involved in the political dispute
in Montenegro (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 12 January 1998). PM

MORE INCIDENTS IN KOSOVO. Unidentified gunmen killed
an ethnic Albanian regarded as a supporter of the Belgrade
authorities in the Glogovac area on 12 January. In Stimlje in
southwestern Kosovo, gunmen sprayed a Serbian police station
with bullets. Both incidents bear the hallmarks of the
clandestine Kosovo Liberation Army (UCK, see also "End Note,"
"RFE/RL Newsline," 9 January 1998). An RFE/RL correspondent
in Pristina said, however, that Serbs are suspected in the death
of a prominent ethnic Albanian diver, who may have been a
UCK sympathizer. PM

BELGRADE TRANSPORT WORKERS STRIKE. Some 8,500
transport personnel stopped work in the Serbian capital on 12
January. They demand back pay, better working conditions
provided, and the payment by the Serbian government of $70
million that it owes their company, an RFE/RL correspondent
reported from Belgrade. PM

STILL NO PRIME MINISTER FOR BOSNIAN SERBS.
Bosnian Serb legislators meeting in Bijeljina on 12 January re-
elected Dragan Kalinic of Radovan Karadzic's Serbian
Democratic Party (SDS) as speaker. Kalinic's deputies are Nikola
Poplasen of the ultranationalist Serbian Radical Party and
Jovan Mitrovic of Republika Srpska President Biljana Plavsic's
Serbian People's League. The Socialist Momir Malic was elected
parliamentary secretary. Legislators did not vote on a prime
minister, despite previous demands by Carlos Westendorp, the
international community's representative in Bosnia, that they
elect Mladen Ivanic, who is Plavsic's nominee. Also on 12
January, the SDS rejected Ivanic's request to address the
parliament and turned down his offer of six seats in his
proposed cabinet, an RFE/RL correspondent reported from
Bijeljina. Ivanic said he will ask Plavsic to nominate someone
else as prime minister if the hard-liners continue to oppose
him. PM

WESTENDORP ACTS ON BOSNIAN FLAG. Spokesmen for
Westendorp said in Sarajevo on 12 January that he has
appointed a committee of seven well-known intellectuals to
make recommendations to him by 15 February for a new
Bosnian flag. The Serbian, Croatian and Muslim authorities
failed to meet a 31 December deadline set by the international
community to agree on a joint flag. PM

MACEDONIA, GREECE TIGHTEN VISA RULES. Macedonian
authorities announced in Skopje on 12 January that Greek
citizens wanting to cross into Macedonia can no longer receive a
visa at the border but must apply in Athens for one instead.
The move follows a Greek decision in November to stop
granting Macedonians visas at the border and requiring
Macedonians to apply for visas in Skopje. PM

NATO HAS NO STAND ON CROATIAN ROLE.  NATO
Supreme Commander General Wesley Clark told Croatian
Defense Minister Gojko Susak in Zagreb on 12 January that the
Atlantic alliance has "no position" on Croatia's request to join
the Partnership for Peace program. Clark, who is on his first
visit to Croatia, stressed that Zagreb "must fulfill all of its
responsibilities that it signed for in Dayton" before NATO can
consider a closer relationship with it. President Franjo Tudjman
is anxious to join European and Atlantic institutions and sees
Croatia as a key strategic ally of the U.S. in the region. PM

CROATIA TO DEFEND SOVEREIGNTY. Spokesmen for the
Croatian Foreign Ministry said on 12 January that Croatia is
determined to assert its sovereignty throughout its territory,
an RFE/RL correspondent reported from Zagreb. The
spokesmen mentioned specifically not only eastern Slavonia,
which will return to full Croatian control on 15 January, but
also Prevlaka peninsula, Ploce, and the Gulf of Piran. Belgrade
would like to acquire Prevlaka, which controls access to
Yugoslavia's only deep-water naval base. Zagreb suspects
Sarajevo of seeking to annex Ploce, which is Bosnia's natural
outlet to the sea. Croatia and Slovenia differ over their
maritime border in the Gulf of Piran,  which Slovenia would
like redrawn so as to give Slovenia access to the Adriatic. PM

COMMISSION SAYS BERISHA WANTED TO BOMBARD
SOUTHERN ALBANIA. The parliamentary commission
investigating the unrest in southern Albania in March 1997 has
found Defense Ministry documents, signed by former President
Sali Berisha, ordering the bombarding of Tepelena, "Republika"
reported on 13 January. The newspaper also claims that other
documents signed by Berisha ordered preparations for the use
of chemical weapons and for the movement of forces from the
northern border to the south. The parliamentary commission
will present its findings to the  parliament later this month.
Berisha's main electorate was in the north of the country. FS

ALBANIAN, ITALIAN POLICE SEIZE 30 TONS OF
CIGARETTES. Albanian and Italian customs police stopped a
ship carrying 30 tons of cigarettes worth $1.25 million in
southern Albania's Bay of Karavasta. Five Albanians were
arrested. It was the second large-scale seizure of tobacco this
year. In early January, police stopped another ship carrying
cigarettes with a market value of some $1 million. FS

ROMANIA'S PEASANT PARTY ON COALITION CRISIS. At
a press conference on 12 January, National Peasant Party
Christian Democratic (PNTCD) leader Ion Diaconescu stressed
that his party backs Premier Victor Ciorbea. He said the
present cabinet was "the best Romania can get" and that the
coalition must continue, RFE/RL's Bucharest bureau reported.
The PNTCD wants to let its coalition partners know that it
wants "not merely peace for the moment" but also " assurances
that the [crisis situation] will not be repeated." Diaconescu
added that the PNTCD does not "accept the idea of a minority
government and even less so that of early elections." Ciorbea,
meanwhile, has said he will not respond to Democratic Party
attacks on himself, adding that reform "cannot be carried out
by the PNTCD without the [Democrats], but neither can it be
carried out by the Democrats without the PNTCD." MS

DEMOCRATS RESPOND TO PEASANT PARTY PROPOSALS.
Radu Berceanu, a deputy chairman of the  Democrats, said in
reaction to the government's program for 1998, presented at
the 12 January press conference, that what is important is not
the program but making sure that it is carried out in practice.
Berceanu said that last year's program was also good but
remained on paper only. A term should be set for each of the
objectives the program specifies, he commented. Berceanu also
rejected the PNTCD's proposal that the coalition partners sign a
new protocol on cooperation. Adrian Severin, who is also a
deputy chairman of the Democratic Party, said that at a party
meeting scheduled for 13 January, the  National Council will
"carefully analyze" the PNTCD's statements. MS

ROMANIAN FOREIGN MINISTER IN NORWAY. Andrei
Plesu, on his first official visit abroad, met with Norwegian
Prime Minister Kjel Magne Bondevik and Foreign Minister Knut
Vollebaek in Oslo on 12 January. The talks concentrated on
bilateral relations and Romania's quest to join NATO.  A
spokesman for the Romanian Foreign Ministry said Plesu
received assurances that Norway will back Romania's  NATO
membership bid and its candidacy for the chairmanship of the
Organization on Security and Cooperation in Europe beginning
2001. MS

MOLDOVAN COMMUNIST LEADER LAUNCHES ELECTION
CAMPAIGN... Vladimir Voronin, the leader of the Party of
Moldova's Communists (PCM), on 12 January presented his
party's election program at a press conference in Chisinau,
RFE/RL's bureau reported. He said the PCM wants to replace
the transition to a market economy with a  "pluralist economy"
based on the strengthened role of the state. Voronin said  the
PCM is not against private property but wants it "to serve the
interests of the state."  It also does not oppose private
ownership of land but is against the sale of land to foreigners.
The party further argues that the present crisis can be ended
only by "the gradual restoration of socialist relations in the
economy" and "full political and economic integration with CIS
members." MS

...REFUSES TO COMMENT ON PROPOSED MILITARY
INTEGRATION INTO CIS. Voronin refused to comment on the
draft law recently submitted by 22  PCM deputies providing
for Moldova's integration into the CIS's military and political
structures. He said the PCM's election program "says nothing"
about military integration, adding that the deputies are
"entitled to their own opinions." Fiodor Angheli, the deputy
chairman of the parliamentary Foreign Relations Commission,
said the initiative was "populist" and contravened the
constitution, which provides for Moldova's neutrality, BASA-
press reported.  MS

BULGARIAN INFLATION NOW UNDER CONTROL. Data
released by the National Statistics Institute on 10 January show
that Bulgarian inflation is under control after having soared in
early 1997. The monthly inflation rate in December 1997 was
1.5 percent but the figure for the entire year was 578.6
percent, largely owing to  the tumbling of the lev in January-
February 1997, under the rule of the Socialist Party.  In other
news, deputy chairman of the State Energy Committee Kiril
Guegov told journalists after returning from Moscow on 11
January that he has been unable to reach an agreement on gas
deliveries but that Russia will continue to supply gas under the
terms of the accord that expired in August 1997. MS

BULGARIA RETURNS MANUSCRIPT TO GREECE. Bulgaria
on 12 January returned to Greece an 18th century manuscript
stolen from monastery on Mount Athos in 1985. The
manuscript, titled the "The History of the Slavs and the
Bulgarians," emerged in 1996 in Sofia, when it was handed
over to an official at the national museum, AFP reported. It was
later on display there and attracted some 700,000 visitors. The
museum's curator vehemently opposed returning the
document, but President Petar Stoyanov insisted it must be
given to its rightful owners. MS

END NOTE:
SLOVAKIA PREPARES FOR PRESIDENTIAL ELECTIONS

by Jolyon Naegele

Ivan Gasparovic, speaker of the Slovakia parliament,
announced last week that lawmakers will convene on 23
January to hold the first round of elections for president. He
also called on deputies to submit presidential nominations in
writing by 12 January.
        But opposition leaders warn that it is quite likely that the
parliament will be unable to agree on a new president in the
first round, or in the second round 14 days later, or even in the
third round 30 days after that.
        Two candidates backed by the opposition and one
independent are in the running. The Party of the Democratic
Left (SDL) is sponsoring academician-agronomist Juraj Hrasko,
who until 1989 was a member of the Slovak Communist Party
(KSS) and served briefly in 1993 as environment minister. The
centrist Slovak Democratic Coalition (SDK) is backing Stefan
Markus, who does not belong to any party, is a science
secretary of the Academy of Sciences, and chairs the Slovak
Helsinki Committee. Augustin Kurek, an independent, was
proposed by a single deputy who has split from a junior
partner in Vladimir Meciar's coalition.
        No candidate appears to have a chance of being elected.
The opposition has only 63 of the 150 seats in the parliament,
and in order to win, a candidate must have the support of at
least 90 deputies. Prime Minister Vladimir Meciar's Movement
for a Democratic Slovakia (HZDS) has 61 seats in the assembly
and can block any candidate not to its liking. Meciar is already
on record as saying no one will be elected in the first round
and has branded Hrasko and Markus as "unacceptable"
candidates.
        Neither the HZDS nor its two coalition partners intend to
nominate anyone in the first round.
        The leftist SDL considered several compromise
candidates, including Constitutional Court Chief Justice Milan Cic
and populist mayor of Kosice Rudolf Schuster, a member of
Slovakia's small Carpathian-German minority. Schuster was
viewed as a rising star on the political scene during the final
years of communist rule, having served as speaker of the
Slovak Parliament during and immediately after the 1989
Velvet Revolution. Meciar, however, labeled Schuster as
unacceptable owing to alleged "character faults."
        The most likely scenario appears to be that once
President Michal Kovac's five-year term expires on 2 March,
the country will be without a head of state until after
parliamentary elections, scheduled to take place in the fall.
Meanwhile, some of the president's functions, including the role
of commander and chief, will be assumed by Meciar himself.
        The timing of the first round does not appear to be
arbitrary. President Kovac is due to be out of town that day,
hosting a summit of 11 Central European presidents in Levoca,
eastern Slovakia.  The presidents of Bulgaria, the Czech
Republic, Hungary, Germany, Poland, Austria, Romania,
Slovakia, Slovenia, Italy, and Ukraine are due to meet in Levoca
on 23-24 January. Kovac has proposed that the gathering
discuss the emergence and maintenance of civic society.
        Kovac, whose resignation has been demanded for several
years by Meciar's  HZDS,  is not running for re-election.  Former
Prime Minister Jan Carnogursky has ruled out supporting
Meciar as a compromise presidential candidate, saying electing
him "would not be a good signal at home or abroad." But
Carnogursky added that who is elected is less than important
than ensuring regular elections. To prevent any attempts at
election fraud, he argues, foreign observers should be invited.
Meciar, however, has already rejected that proposal on the
grounds that "Slovakia is not Albania."
        Both Carnogursky and SDL leader Jozef Migas say it is
unlikely that a president will be elected before the fall
parliamentary elections. Carnogursky says he still supports a
change in the constitution that would enable the voting public
to elect the president.
        A referendum question on enabling the president to be
elected directly was retracted last May by Meciar's Interior
Minister Gustav Krajci just hours before voters were to go to
the polls. That happened, despite half a million petition
signatures calling for the president to be elected directly.
        For its part, Meciar's HZDS claims it wants a president
elected soon. HZDS deputy chairman Arpad Matejka warns that
if no one is elected president., the legislative process will be
paralyzed since the constitution allows only the president to
sign bills into law.
         But SDL chief Migas suspects various factors may be
involved in the HZDS's refusal to nominate a candidate for the
first two rounds. He told the Bratislava daily "Sme" that the
HZDS may be holding back their candidate on tactical grounds
until a later round. He added that "it cannot be excluded that
the HZDS is not interested in a head of state being elected."
        Meanwhile, "Sme" reported last week that the rooftop
digital clock that faces the presidential palace in Bratislava and
counts the time Kovac has left in office has been switched off. A
small group of anonymous citizens wanting to express their
dissatisfaction with the current situation were allegedly behind
that move.

xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx
               Copyright (c) 1998 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