Logic, n. The act of thinking and reasoning in strict accordance with the limitations and incapacities of the human understanding. - Ambrose Bierce
RFE/RL NEWSLINE

RFE/RL NEWSLINE Vol 2, No. 13, Part II, 21 January 1998


_______________________________________________________
RFE/RL NEWSLINE Vol 2, No. 13, Part II, 21 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

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Headlines, Part II

* HAVEL RE-ELECTED CZECH PRESIDENT

* WESTENDORP IMPOSES NEW BOSNIAN CURRENCY
DESIGN

* CONFLICT OVER SHKODER POLICE INTENSIFIES

End Note
ABKHAZIA AND THE "BOSNIA OPTION"

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EAST-CENTRAL EUROPE

UKRAINIAN PRESIDENT APPROVES 1998 BUDGET. Leonid
Kuchma has signed the 1998 budget, dpa reported on 20
January. The budget, which was passed by the parliament
three weeks ago, calls for revenues of 21.1 billion hryvna
($11.1 billion) and expenditures of 24.5 billion hryvna,
resulting in a projected deficit of 3.3 percent of GDP. Viktor
Yushchenko, the head of the central bank,  said last week that
the deficit should be kept at 2 percent of GDP to maintain
economic stability and help attract foreign investment. PB

BELARUSIAN PROSECUTOR SEEKS SUSPENDED SENTENCE
FOR JOURNALIST. The state prosecutor in the case against
Russian Public Television (ORT) journalist Pavel Sheremet and
his cameraman, Dmitriy Zavadskiy, on charges of illegally
crossing the Belarusian border has requested suspended
sentences for the accused, ITAR-TASS reported on 20 January.
Vlyadimir Sido asked the court to hand down a three-year
suspended sentence to Sheremet and a two-year sentence to
Zavadskiy. The men would be required to regularly report to
police but would be jailed for their full terms if found guilty of
any new offense, regardless of how minor. A verdict is
expected this week. PB

BELARUSIAN GOVERNMENT SUPPORTS "INDICATIVE
PLANNING."  Prime Minister Sergei Ling said on 19 January
that the state would not revert to "totalitarian planning,"
Interfax reported. But he said it did support "indicative
planning," in which the state does not direct the economy or
own the means of production but attempts to assist the market
and producers. He said this system had allowed Belarus to
reach its economic targets in 1997, noting that GDP increased
by 10 percent, compared with a 2.6 percent increase the
previous year. He also said that industrial and agricultural
production increased, official unemployment fell by one-third,
and investments rose by 11 percent. Despite the apparently
across-the-board economic improvements, Ling said most
financial indicators are "unsatisfactory." PB

PRIMAKOV SAYS U.S.-BALTIC CHARTER "NORMAL
DEVELOPMENT." Speaking at a news conference in Lulea,
Sweden, on 20 January, Russian Foreign Minister Yevgenii
Primakov described the U.S.-Baltic partnership charter as a
"normal development," BNS and Reuters reported. Primakov
added that the document does not go against Russian interests
and does not imply NATO membership for the Baltic States. At
the same time, he stressed Moscow's position that if the Baltic
States were to become members of the alliance, "this may have
a serious effect on our relationship with NATO as a whole,
although we have signed a founding agreement with NATO." He
also commented that "the  relationship between Russia and the
Baltics--not all but some--is not yet sufficiently normalized,"
citing what he called discrimination against Russian-speakers.
Moscow has repeatedly criticized Estonia and Latvia for their
treatment of their ethnic Russian populations. JC

ESTONIAN PREMIER NOT TO ASK FOREIGN MINISTER TO
RESIGN. Mart Siimann has said he sees no problem in Foreign
Minister Toomas Hendrik Ilves's being a member of the
Farmers' Party as long as that party supports the government's
economic policy, BNS reported on 20 January. Ilves, formerly
an independent, joined the non-parliamentary Farmers' Party
in December, prompting speculation that he would be asked to
resign his post as foreign minister. Following talks with
Siimann on 19 January, Ilves was quoted by a government
spokesman  as saying there is  no contradiction between the
government's economic policy and the program of the Farmers'
Party. The spokesman added, however, that the situation would
be discussed again after the party merges with a right-wing
opposition formation in the spring. JC

AUTOPSY SHOWS POLISH BOY DIED FROM BLOW TO
HEAD. A revised autopsy shows that a blow to the head killed
a 13-year-old boy last week in the northern city of Slupsk (see
"RFE/RL Newsline," 13 January), PAP reported on 20 January.
The boy's death sparked four nights of rioting. The original
report had said the boy died after he fell and his head struck a
post. A policeman is being detained in connection with the case.
Meanwhile, the government has said it will form a commission,
to include Catholic Church and media representatives, that will
study and campaign against youth violence. PB

HAVEL RE-ELECTED CZECH PRESIDENT. Vaclav Havel on 20
January was  re-elected president in a second ballot, having
failed to win the support of a majority of all incumbent
parliamentary deputies and senators in the first round. The
second-ballot election required a majority of  all deputies and
senators present, and Havel was endorsed by 99 out of 197
deputies and 47 out of 81 senators.  His rivals in the first
round, Stanislav Fischer, who was backed by the Communist
Party of Bohemia and Moravia, and Miroslav Sladek, the
candidate of the Republican Party, received 26 and 22 votes,
respectively, in the first round and were not eligible for the
second.  The Republicans claim the election was illegitimate
because Sladek, who is currently in prison, was not allowed to
cast his vote as a deputy. MS

ODS DISSENTERS SET UP PARLIAMENTARY FACTION.
The Freedom Union, which was officially founded on 17
January by dissenters who left Vaclav Klaus's Civic Democratic
Party (ODS), has now formally established its faction in the
Chamber of Deputies, Czech media reported on 20 January. So
far, 28 former ODS members have left that party to join the
new faction, CTK reported. The news agency also said that
Defense Minister Michal Lobkowicz resigned from the ODS on
21 January to join the Freedom Union. Former Foreign Minister
and ODS Deputy Chairman Josef Zieleniec has also announced he
is leaving the ODS,  whose leadership he accused of "lying and
financial machinations." But he did not say whether he would
join the Freedom Union. MS

THREAT ON SLOVAK PREMIER'S LIFE. The Slovak
government said on 20 January that one of its diplomatic
missions has warned of a planned attempt on Prime Minister
Vladimir Meciar's life before the end of next month.
Government spokesman Jozef Kroslak told Reuters that the
would-be assassins  have been given 1 million German  marks
($554,000) from someone inside Slovakia to murder Meciar.  In
other news, the parliament on 20 January rejected the
opposition motion to debate the case of two deputies whom the
ruling coalition chose as replacements for two defectors: Emil
Spisak,  who left the far-right Slovak National Party (SNS),
should have succeeded  a SNS deputy who died, and Frantisek
Gaulieder, who was expelled from the parliament after he left
Vladimir Meciar's Movement for a Democratic Slovakia. In July
1997, the Constitutional Court ruled that Gaulieder's rights
have been violated but the legislature refused to reinstate him.
MS

HUNGARIAN MINISTER ATTACKS SLOVAK EDUCATION
POLICIES. Hungarian Culture and Education Minister Balint
Magyar says that in recent years, the Slovak government has
introduced measures that negatively affect the country's
Hungarian minority, Hungarian media reported on 20 January .
Speaking at a ceremony marking  the opening of the renovated
Hungarian Institute in Bratislava, Magyar criticized the
abolition of bilingual school reports,  obstacles to taking
university entrance exams in the mother tongue, and the
dismissal of ethnic Hungarian school directors. Slovak Education
Minister Eva Slavskova announced the same day that schools
may issue bilingual school reports for a fee but added that such
reports are for private use only. MSZ

SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE

WESTENDORP IMPOSES NEW BOSNIAN CURRENCY
DESIGN. A spokesman for Carlos Westendorp, the international
community's chief representative in Bosnia, said in Sarajevo on
20 January that Westendorp has decided on the design for the
new Bosnian joint currency, the convertible mark. The
spokesman added that Westendorp will make public the
design, which includes no nationalist symbols, on 21 January.
Westendorp's decision follows the failure of the joint
presidency to agree on a design. PM

FIRST FOREIGN CREDIT FOR BOSNIAN SERBS. Kresimir
Zubak, who is a member of the joint presidency, and a
representative of the World Bank signed two credit agreements
in Sarajevo on 20 January. The first credit is for $10 million
and will be used to repair Sarajevo's gas supply system. The
second, $65 million credit is earmarked for  several projects
involving housing, water supplies, sewage systems, electrical
systems, and agriculture. Some $17 million of the second credit
will go to the Serbs, the first such international credit they
have received. Meanwhile in Brussels, Westendorp said that
the Republika Srpska needs international assistance to ensure
the most basic necessities, including that the people have
enough to eat. PM

BOSNIAN JOURNALIST CONVICTED OF SLANDER.  Senad
Pecanin, the editor-in-chief of the independent monthly "Dani,"
was convicted by a Sarajevo court on 20 January on five
charges of slander. He received a two-month suspended jail
sentence. Fahrudin Radoncic, editor-in-chief of the pro-
government daily "Dnevni Avaz," plans to seek some $85,000
compensation from Pecanin, who last June wrote that Radoncic
burned his newspaper's financial records and practiced bigamy.
Pecanin said on 20 January that the trial had "the atmosphere
of a pogrom" and proved that the government is trying "to
strangle independent media through private lawsuits."
Radoncic, for his part, insisted that his suit was a purely
private matter.  PM

BOSNIAN SOCIAL DEMOCRATS CAUTIOUS ON DODIK.
Social Democratic leader Sejfudin Tokic, who is also the prime
minister in the non-nationalist parties' shadow cabinet, said in
Sarajevo on 20 January that the election of Milorad Dodik as
Bosnian Serb prime minister marks a victory over Radovan
Karadzic's Serbian Democratic Party (SDS, see "RFE/RL Bosnia
Report," 21 January 1998). Tokic added, however, that the
battle against nationalism has not yet been won, an RFE/RL
correspondent reported from Sarajevo. Tokic urged Dodik to
eliminate what Tokic called the "remnants of the SDS's
totalitarian rule." He added that he hoped Dodik's
administration will mark the beginning of the end of the rule of
nationalist parties throughout Bosnia. PM

KINKEL APPEALS TO GRANIC ON REFUGEES. German
Foreign Minister Klaus Kinkel told his Croatian counterpart,
Mate Granic, in Stuttgart on 20 January that the course of
Zagreb's future relations with the EU will depend on how well
the Croats cooperate with the Muslims in Bosnia and on
Croatia's willingness to allow Croatian Serb refugees to return
to their former homes in the Krajina region. PM

KUCAN CALLS FOR REFORM OF SLOVENIAN
INTELLIGENCE SERVICE. President Milan Kucan said in
Ljubljana on 20 January that he hopes that a recent incident in
which Slovenian spies were expelled from Croatia will serve as
a catalyst leading to the depoliticization and professionalization
of the intelligence service (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 16 January
1998). Kucan added that the incident provided "a sufficient
reason for Slovenia to finally get a security service supervision
law and one more reason for my oft repeated demand for a
national security council." PM

POLICE DETAIN BELGRADE MUFTI. Police held Hamdija
Jusufspahic and seven imams for two hours on 20 January.
Police said they were looking for a Bosnian refugee who was
reportedly living in the mufti's residency. Jusufspahic said he
feared that the police action is the beginning of a campaign
against his organization, the Islamic Community. Jusufspahic's
Muslim detractors earlier nicknamed him "Milosevic's mufti"
because of his close ties to the government of Yugoslav
President Slobodan Milosevic. PM

CONFLICT OVER SHKODER POLICE INTENSIFIES. Tensions
remain high in Shkoder, where more than 50 armed civilians
and former policemen have held regional prefect Gezim
Podgorica hostage for two days (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 19
January 1998). Unidentified gunmen attacked police
headquarters and injured two policemen on 20 January,
"Gazeta Shqiptare" reported.  Other armed persons set up
barricades in the city center. The protesters demand the
resignation of the new local police chief, Mithat Havari, and the
withdrawal of special police forces. Havari, a southerner, was
appointed recently by the Socialist-led government "to crack
down on police corruption" in  the opposition stronghold. The
protesters are supported by some local politicians from the
city's center-right coalition government. FS

ALBANIAN PARTIES ASK COUNCIL OF EUROPE TO
ALLOW DEATH PENALTY. Legislators from the governing
Socialist Party and the opposition Democratic Party have asked
a high-ranking Council of Europe delegation in Tirana to
reconsider an agreement banning Albania from carrying out
the death penalty. The diplomats will present the request to
the Council's Parliamentary Assembly for review in March.  FS

ALBANIAN ARMY TO COLLECT WEAPONS? Prosecutor-
General Arben Rakipi on 19 January proposed that the army
should start a campaign to collect illegal arms. He also proposed
a new amnesty for people who surrender their weapons
voluntarily. Rakipi added that more people might be more
willing to give their arms anonymously to the army than to the
local police, who register the names of  those handing in the
weapons, "Gazeta Shqiptare" reported. Rakipi also said that
unidentified people sent him what appears to be a plan for an
attack on Vlora last March. The plan was signed by the then
national police chief, Agim Shehu, "Republika" reported. FS

ROMANIAN PRESIDENT ON CORRUPTION. Emil
Constantinescu on 20 January told journalists that a meeting of
the National Council for the Struggle against Corruption and
Organized Crime (CNACC) next week will discuss "mafia-like
structures" that have "destroyed the Romanian merchant fleet"
and attempted to take over the petroleum industry. The CNACC,
set up last year, is an ad-hoc body subordinated to the National
Council of Defense, which is chaired by Constantinescu,
RFE/RL's Bucharest bureau reported. Political observers say
this may be a veiled threat directed at the Democratic Party,
which was repeatedly accused by the media of corruption and
involvement in illegal dealings during the 1990-1991 tenure of
Petre Roman's government. One of those alleged to have been
involved in illegal dealings is Traian Basescu, then and now
minister of transportation. MS

MAIN OPPOSITION PARTY  NOT TO INITIATE NO-
CONFIDENCE MOTION. Adrian Nastase, the deputy chairman
of the Party of Social Democracy in Romania (PDSR), has said
his formation "does not necessarily want" Premier Victor
Ciorbea replaced and consequently will not initiate a no-
confidence motion when the parliament debates the
privatization law on 21 January. Nastase said that tying the
vote on the privatization law to a confidence vote in the
government is nonetheless "unconstitutional," RFE/RL's
Bucharest bureau reported. MS

ROMANIAN ARMY TO BE DOWN-SIZED. The Ministry of
National Defense on 20 January said the army will be cut by
12,700 people this year and that those laid off will be
compensated. For the time being, the government has approved
compensation for the 2,400 civilians working for the ministry
who will be affected by the measure.  In other news, Bulgarian
Defense Minister Georgi Ananiev met with his Romanian
counterpart, Victor Babiuc, in Bucharest on 20 January and
agreed to set up a joint peace-keeping unit, possibly with the
participation of other Balkan countries.  MS

GAGAUZ-YERI ASSEMBLY WITHDRAWS COURT APPEAL.
The Parliamentary Assembly of the Gagauz-Yeri autonomous
region on 20 January withdrew its appeal to the Constitutional
Court over the election law (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 7 January
1998), Infotag reported . Assembly chairman Ivan Bejan said
the deputies still believe that the law, which provides for
proportional representation in a single, countrywide
constituency, deprives the region from electing its
representatives to the parliament in Chisinau. But he added
that the decision was taken to "avoid aggravating the political
situation" and bearing in mind that it may be too late to amend
the electoral law at this stage. MS

TIRASPOL REPORTEDLY BLOCKS ACTIVITIES OF
CONTROL COMMISSION. The Joint Control Commission
overseeing the truce in the Transdniester cannot resume its
activities because Tiraspol is refusing to accept changes in the
membership of the Chisinau representation, BASA-press
reported on 20 January. Tiraspol opposes the inclusion of
Vitalie Bruma, adviser to the Moldovan Interior Ministry,
saying he has criticized the Transdniester authorities in the
media. Gheorghe Roman, a Moldovan member of the
commission, said the authorities in Tiraspol are deliberately
blocking that body's activities. MS

BULGARIAN PREMIER SAYS HE WAS MISQUOTED ON
GAZPROM. Before departing  for an official visit to Germany,
Ivan Kostov told journalists that he has been misquoted on
intentions to curtail the transit of Russian gas through
Bulgarian pipelines to Serbia, Macedonia, Greece, and Turkey
(see "RFE/RL Newsline," 19 and 20 January 1998). He said the
interests of Bulgaria and Russia are so similar that a new deal
on Russian gas deliveries and transiting rights is "inevitable,"
an RFE/RL correspondent in Sofia reported. Foreign Minister
Nadezhda Mihailova also said Bulgaria has no plans to limit the
transit of Russian gas. Russian Foreign Ministry spokesman
Valerii Nesterushkin told RFE/RL on 20 January that Kostov's
reaction could be interpreted as a positive sign in the
development of bilateral relations. MS

END NOTE

ABKHAZIA AND THE "BOSNIA OPTION"

by Liz Fuller and Patrick Moore

        In his New Year's address to the Georgian people and a
12 January radio interview,  Georgian President Eduard
Shevardnadze suggested that the international community
could launch a "peace-enforcing" operation under UN auspices
in the renegade Georgian Black Sea region of Abkhazia that
would be similar to the 1995 intervention in Bosnia.
Shevardnadze stressed, however, that a peace-enforcing
operation in Abkhazia should be undertaken only as a last
resort--that is, if ongoing negotiations fail to yield an
agreement on the repatriation of tens of thousands of ethnic
Georgians forced to flee during the 1992-1993 fighting.
        Shevardnadze's use of the term "Bosnia option" in the
Abkhaz context is both misleading and inappropriate. There are
two fundamental differences between the situation in Bosnia in
mid-1995 and that in Abkhazia today. First, hostilities in
Abkhazia ended in late 1993 and a formal cease-fire
agreement was signed in May 1994. But both Abkhaz units and
the Georgian "White Legion" formation, over which the
Georgian leadership claims to have no control, are still engaged
in low-level guerrilla activity, which could be used as a pretext
for international intervention.
        Second, in addition to a 136-strong UN observer force, a
CIS peacekeeping force is already deployed along the border
between Abkhazia and the rest of Georgia . Tbilisi, however,
has been arguing for the past year that this force is ineffective.
The CIS heads of state summit in March 1997 voted to broaden
the peacekeepers' mandate by investing them with police
powers to protect Georgian repatriants against reprisals from
Abkhaz militants. But implementation of that decision was
blocked by the Abkhaz authorities, which argued that the
peacekeepers' mandate could not be altered without their
permission.
        In addition,  Shevardnadze has expressly ruled out the
setting up in Abkhazia of "ethnic enclaves" such as  the
December 1995 Dayton agreement provided for.  However, the
repatriation of ethnic Georgians to Abkhazia's southern-most
Gali Raion, where they constituted 90 percent of the pre-war
population, would in effect create such an enclave.
        Moreover, the military role of the international
community in Bosnia was never really a peace-enforcing one.
This was primarily because the political will was lacking in
most Western capitals to back up diplomacy with a credible
military threat.
        Three things, in fact, characterized what some now call
"the Bosnian option." First, intervention in any form came only
with the greatest reluctance. The Bosnian war began in the
spring of 1992, but the UNPROFOR soldiers who were soon sent
there were little better than monitors. France and Britain, in
particular, argued against a tougher international military role
out of fear that the "warring factions" might retaliate against
foreign troops already on the ground. By the summer of 1995,
the Serbs were taking peacekeepers hostage by the dozen in
response to timid NATO air strikes.
        Second, it took major catalysts to prompt any serious
response. The no-nonsense Rapid Reaction Force was sent to
the Sarajevo area in July 1995 only after the fall of Srebrenica
and the subsequent massacre of thousands of Muslim civilians.
Massive air strikes came only in late August in response to the
Serbian shelling of a crowded Sarajevo market place.
        Third, the military moves of the international community
helped tip the balance against the Serbs but were not in
themselves decisive. There were, in fact, two other main
reasons why the Serbs agreed to talk peace in the fall of 1995.
By the end of August, Croatian forces had reconquered most
Serb-held areas in that republic. They then teamed up with
Bosnian government forces in that republic and sent the
Bosnian Serb forces running. And by late 1995, Serbian
President Slobodan Milosevic, the man most responsible for the
destruction of the old Yugoslavia, had decided  he had to make
peace in order to end the international sanctions that had
helped cripple his country's economy.
        It would seem that Shevardnadze is using the term
"Bosnia option" as a euphemism for a surgical strike by
international forces at Abkhaz forces concentrated along the
administrative border between Gali Raion and the Abkhaz-
dominated district of Ochamchire. The Georgian president
presumably hopes that such intervention would destroy the
Abkhaz military capacity and force President Vladislav
Ardzinba to sign a formal peace agreement.
        But it is highly unlikely that Moscow would endorse such
action,  even if Western powers decided that it is warranted.
Russia provided logistical and military support for the Abkhaz
during the war, and since 1994 it has tacitly encouraged
Ardzinba in his obdurate rejection of any settlement document
that would subordinate Abkhazia to Tbilisi. (Ardzinba worked
during the early1980s under Russian Foreign Minister Yevgenii
Primakov, who at the time was director of Moscow's Oriental
Institute and whom Shevardnadze has publicly accused of
duplicity in his capacity as mediator between the two sides.)
The present deadlock constitutes leverage that Moscow can
bring to bear on Tbilisi.
        Western interest in stability in Georgia is confined to
ensuring the uninterrupted operation of the pipeline that is to
transport Caspian oil from Baku to the Georgian Black Sea port
of Supsa, which lies some 30 kilometers south of the Abkhaz-
Georgian border. The chances of an international military
operation against Abkhazia will depend largely on whether
Abkhazia is perceived  as a threat to Western oil interests.

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