A tablecloth restaurant is still one of the great rewards of civilization. - Harry Golden
RFE/RL NEWSLINE

RFE/RL NEWSLINE Vol 2, No. 18, Part II, 28 January 1998


___________________________________________________________
RFE/RL NEWSLINE Vol 2, No. 18, Part II,  28 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


xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx
Headlines, Part II

* COUNCIL OF EUROPE DEMANDS END TO EXECUTIONS IN UKRAINE

* EU CALLS ON BELGRADE TO OPEN KOSOVO SCHOOLS

* ROMANIAN COALITION CRISIS PEAKS

* End Note: THE LEVOCA SUMMIT

xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx


EAST-CENTRAL EUROPE

COUNCIL OF EUROPE DEMANDS END TO EXECUTIONS IN UKRAINE. The Council of
Europe has approved a resolution demanding that Ukraine pass legislation
banning the death penalty, an RFE/RL correspondent reported from Strasbourg
on 27 January. After a long debate, the council's Parliamentary Assembly
agreed to allow the Ukrainian delegation to continue its work in the
assembly but urged Kyiv's soon-to-be elected parliament to abolish capital
punishment. It also demanded that President Leonid Kuchma  pardon the more
than 250 prisoners on death row in Ukraine. Kyiv has repeatedly violated a
moratorium on the death penalty, which it proclaimed on joining the council
in 1995. A Ukrainian Foreign Ministry statement the same day said an
official ban on executions would be handled by the legislature in "priority
order." PB

WAGE ARREARS PROTESTS INCREASE. More than 1,500 people demonstrated for
their unpaid wages outside a government building in Simferopol, Crimea,
during a special meeting of the Ukrainian cabinet, Reuters reported on 27
January. Ukrainian Prime Minister Valeriy Pustovoitenko told the crowd that
the autonomous republic's disastrous economy is due to the "independent
policy" it has pursued. In Kyiv, workers from coal mining regions protested
wage arrears for the second straight day (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 27 January
1998). PB

RUSSIAN MEDIA HEADS CONVERGE ON MINSK. Some 25 Russian media executives,
including Boris Berezovskii and Vladimir Gusinskii, met behind closed doors
in Minsk on 27 January with Belarusian President Alyaksandr Lukashenka,
RFE/RL's Belarusian service reported. That meeting was thought to be
connected with agreements signed by Lukashenka and Russian President Boris
Yeltsin in Moscow last week on the formation of a  Russian-Belarusian
television and radio organization. Lukashenka has in the past frequently
complained about the Russian media "waging a war" on Belarus and has
described both Berezovskii, a financier who wields great influence at
Russian Public Television (ORT), and Gusinskii, whose Media-Most controls
NTV, as "hoodlums." PB

ESTONIAN GOVERNMENT SLAMS KIDNEY TRANSPLANTS. The cabinet has sharply
criticized the kidney transplants recently performed on Israeli citizens at
the Tallinn Central Hospital (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 27 January 1998), ETA
and BNS reported. The government described the operations as "unethical,"
although it acknowledged that the law had not been broken. The chief
physician of the Tallinn Central Hospital has been sacked, while the
Israeli health care minister has demanded that Estonia launch criminal
proceedings against the Israeli doctor who performed the operations. JC

HUNGARY TO HELP ESTONIA TRAIN OFFICERS. Following the signing of a
framework agreement on defense cooperation  in Tallinn on 27 January,
Hungarian Defense Minister Gyorgy Keleti told journalists that Hungary is
ready to train Estonian officers at the Budapest Military Academy, ETA and
BNS reported. Hungary also proposed training Estonian military engineers
who could later join their Hungarian counterparts participating in the
peace-keeping mission in Bosnia. Keleti promised that Hungary will "do
everything"  to help Estonia join NATO. Estonia has signed 16 such
framework agreements, including with the U.S., Canada, Poland, and the
Czech Republic. JC

ADAMKUS'S ELECTION HQ IN FINANCIAL STRAITS. Darius Tarasyavicus, press
secretary to Lithuanian President-elect Valdas Adamkus, told ITAR-TASS on
27 January that the election campaign quarters have run up debts amounting
to $100,000. Tarasyavicus said that the center spent just over 1 million
litas (some $250,000) during the campaign but added that this sum was "not
enough to pay for the mass media campaigns." He noted that the center is
hoping the U.S.-based Lithuanian Emigrants Committee will be able to help
pay off the bulk of the debt. JC

POLISH PRESIDENT SATISFIED WITH "CABINET COUNCIL." Aleksander Kwasniewski
said he is "satisfied" following the first meeting of a new council made up
of himself and government ministers, Reuters reported on 27 January. The
"cabinet council" meeting was created under the constitution passed last
year. Both the president and the government hope it can help ease strained
relations and improve cooperation. Presidential spokesman Antoni Styrczula
said the council will meet regularly to discuss all major issues, including
talks on joining the EU. PB

ARMENIAN OFFICIAL SAYS POLAND HAS ROLE TO PLAY IN KARABAKH. Armenian
Foreign Minister Aleksandr Arzoumanian said Poland could play a large role
in finding a resolution to the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, RFE/RL's
correspondent in Warsaw reported on 28 January. Polish Foreign Minister
Bronislaw Geremek, the current chairman of the Organization for Security
and Cooperation in Europe, said there is a strong "determination in
Armenia" to resolve the issue and that he would do his best to help.
Arzoumanian also said he hoped Warsaw would help his country to integrate
into the EU. Poland is not a member of the OSCE's Minsk Group, which is
mediating a solution to the conflict. In other news, a police officer in
the northern city of Slupsk has been charged with manslaughter in the
beating death of a 13-year old boy. The incident sparked three days of
riots in the city (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 13 January 1998). PB

CZECH PARLIAMENT DELAYS CONFIDENCE VOTE. The Chamber of Deputies on 27
January postponed the confidence vote in Josef Tosovsky's cabinet until the
next day, CTK reported. Milos Zeman, the leader of the Social Democratic
Party,  demanded that the government present a timetable for its plans on
price deregulation and privatization, both of which his party opposes. The
Social Democrats want the parliament to be dissolved before those plans are
implemented. The Social Democrats' support is crucial for the government to
win the vote of confidence. Addressing the lower house, President Vaclav
Havel urged deputies to vote confidence in order to ensure that the
government is able to organize early elections in June.  MS

GREEK DEFENSE MINISTER IN CZECH REPUBLIC. At the end of a two-day visit to
the Czech Republic, Akis Tsohatzopoulos and his Czech counterpart, Michal
Lobkowicz, signed an agreement on military cooperation, CTK reported on 27
. At a meeting with President Havel earlier that day, Tsohatzopoulos said
his country is keen to see the rapid expansion of NATO and the EU to the
East. MS

ROMANIAN CONSULATE OPENS IN SOUTHEASTERN HUNGARY. Visiting Romanian Foreign
Minister Andrei Plesu and his Hungarian counterpart, Laszlo Kovacs,
officially opened the Romanian consulate in Szeged on 27 January, Hungarian
and Romanian media reported. The inauguration was attended by the
presidents of both countries.. Hungarian Education Minister Balint Magyar
met with his Romanian counterpart, Andrei Marga, whom he urged to push for
the Chamber of Deputies to pass another version of the education law.
Romania's Hungarian minority regards the version passed by the Senate as
discriminatory. Meanwhile, a Slovak Ministry of Culture official said
Bratislava had protested to the OSCE commissioner for minority affairs over
Magyar's speech at the opening of the Hungarian Institute in Bratislava
last week (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 21 January 1998). MS

MINORITIES WANT PARLIAMENTARY REPRESENTATION NOW. Spokesman for
organizations representing national minorities in Hungary have  protested
the government's intention to postpone the representation of national
minorities in the parliament until  2002. Socialist Party deputy Mihaly
Bihari had earlier argued that a bill providing for minority representation
either in May (when parliamentary elections are due) or in separate
elections in October raises constitutional questions. Interior Minister
Gabor Kuncze responded by withdrawing the cabinet's proposal on special
parliamentary seats for minorities since the bill needs across-the-board
support in the legislature.  In other news, the World Bank on 27 January
approved a $ 150 million loan to Hungary to help implement a comprehensive
reform of the pension system, an RFE/RL correspondent in Washington
reported. MS


SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE

EU CALLS ON BELGRADE TO OPEN KOSOVO SCHOOLS. British Foreign Secretary
Robin Cook, speaking on behalf of the EU Presidency in Brussels on 27
January, called on the Serbian authorities to restore Albanian-language
education in Kosovo. He said that "it's not just in the interests of Kosovo
that the schools be reopened. It's in the interests of Belgrade. As long as
the schools remain closed Belgrade is creating a breeding ground for
terrorism and violence." Cook added that he told visiting Albanian Foreign
Minister Paskal Milo that "the EU supports a high degree of autonomy [for
Kosovo] but we cannot support any acts of violence or terrorism." PM

NATO CONCERNED ABOUT KOSOVO, MACEDONIA. An unnamed senior NATO official
said at the Supreme Headquarters of Allied Powers in Europe (SHAPE) in
Mons, Belgium, on 27 January that growing violence in Kosovo could lead to
regional destabilization. He added that "the wholesale transfer of weapons
to Kosovo" from Albania following the breakdown of law and order there last
spring contributed significantly to the violence. The official noted that
Macedonia is worried the violence may spread across its border with Kosovo.
He added that Skopje wants UN peacekeepers to remain in Macedonia beyond 1
July, when their current mandate expires. Reuters reported that NATO is
considering a role for itself in preventing any future conflict in Kosovo
from spreading to Macedonia. PM

GLIGOROV, YELTSIN SIGN DECLARATION. Macedonian President Kiro Gligorov and
his Russian counterpart, Boris Yeltsin, signed a "declaration of friendly
relations and cooperation" in Moscow on 27 January. Yeltsin noted that this
is the first document to be signed between "democratic Russia and sovereign
Macedonia at the highest level." Macedonia is the only former Yugoslav
republic to have such an agreement with Russia, he added. Gligorov pointed
out that Russia was one of the first countries to recognize Macedonia and
that the two countries have long-standing cultural and religious ties. Also
on 27 January, Gligorov and Russian  Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin
signed agreements on economic relations, cooperation in customs,
environmental protection, and health care. Gligorov noted that
Russian-Macedonian trade turnover is only one- tenth of what it was between
the USSR and the former Yugoslav Macedonia, Interfax reported. PM

CROATIAN WAR CRIMES COVER-UP? Spokesmen for the Interior Ministry said on
27 January that the ministry has launched an investigation into charges by
three former soldiers that Croatian troops carried out  kidnappings,
executions and expulsions of Serbs and anti-nationalist Croats in the
Gospic area in 1991. Earlier that day, the three former soldiers charged
that prominent politicians knew of the atrocities in Gospic at the time
they were carried out and that the Croatian authorities recently refused to
listen to what the three men have to say about the killings. Last fall,
Josip Manolic, President Franjo Tudjman's former top security official,
informed the media about mass "liquidations" of Serbian civilians in Gospic
(see "RFE/RL Newsline," 6 November 1997). PM

TUDJMAN SETS GOALS. In his annual state-of-the-nation speech on 27 January,
President Tudjman said  Croatia must overcome high unemployment  and a
large foreign debt. He called for greater "social justice" and for "the
defense of the freedoms and rights of each citizen." Tudjman added that his
goals for 1998 include continuing the reintegration of eastern Slavonia
under existing international agreements. He called for normalizing
relations with Belgrade and for demilitarizing the strategic Prevlaka
peninsula. He also said  he may send home UN peacekeepers based in Prevlaka
and call for international arbitration if there is no agreement with
Belgrade on demilitarization within four months. Tudjman added he plans to
continue talks with Slovenia and with the Bosnian federation and to promote
Croatia's integration into Euro-Atlantic structures. PM

BOSNIAN SERB MINISTER WANTS MLADIC FREE. New Bosnian Serb Defense Minister
Manojlo Milovanovic told the 27 January issue of the Belgrade weekly
"Svedok" that he hopes indicted war criminal General Ratko Mladic remains
free. "He is safe. Thanks to the security system, [NATO-led peacekeepers]
cannot get Mladic," he remarked. PM

ARBITRATION FOR BOSNIAN LOCAL GOVERNMENTS? A spokesman for the Organization
for Security and Cooperation in Europe, which supervised the local
government elections in Bosnia last September, said in Sarajevo on 27
January that only 45 of the 136 municipalities have respected the results
of the vote, an RFE/RL correspondent reported from the Bosnian capital. He
added that the OSCE may carry out binding arbitration to set up the local
government councils if the local leaders do not do so themselves. In many
of the municipalities, refugees succeeded in electing representatives to
local councils of towns from which they had been "ethnically cleansed." PM

ALBANIAN JUDGES CONTINUE HUNGER-STRIKE. Eight judges who are protesting
their allegedly politically motivated sackings began the 23rd day of their
hunger strike on 28 January. Their state of health has severely
deteriorated,  the daily  "Albania" reported. The judges claim that a new
Socialist-backed law requiring university degrees from all judges and
prosecutors favors communist-era judges and was designed to oust those
justices who received their training at six-month courses under President
Sali Berisha's government in 1993. The hunger-strikers said in a statement
issued on 27 January that they will now refuse medical treatment and break
off contact with their families, politicians and the press.  Elsewhere,
President Rexhep Meidani's adviser Mentor Nazarko visited  former political
prisoners who are staging a solidarity hunger-strike. Nazarko failed to
convince them that the disputed law will not automatically lead to the
dismissal of the judges. FS

BIG WAGE HIKE FOR ALBANIAN OFFICIALS. The government approved  new salary
scales for the civil service on 27 January. In a bid to reduce corruption,
it introduced wage hikes of up to 70 percent for top government officials
beginning 1 April. The monthly salary of President Meidani will be doubled
to $845, while ministers will receive $647-$760 a month. Other civil
servants will receive 20 percent salary increases. The average monthly wage
in Albania is $55-$65, "Koha Jone" reported. FS

ALBANIAN LUSTRATION COMMITTEE UNCOVERS AGENTS. The parliamentary lustration
commission, charged with rooting out communist-era secret service agents
and foreign spies,  has identified two former Sigurimi agents within the
judiciary. Commission head Nafiz Bezhani told "Koha Jone" of 28 January
that the commission will give details to the public once the final report
is discussed in the parliament later this month. FS

ROMANIAN COALITION CRISIS PEAKS. Ion Diaconescu, the chairman of both the
Democratic Convention of Romania (CDR) and of the National Peasant Party
Christian Democratic (PNTCD), said on 27 January that the CDR council is
demanding that the Democratic Party choose between three options by the
following morning. Those options are to continue to be represented in
Victor Ciorbea's cabinet, to guarantee its support in the parliament of a
minority government, or to leave the existing coalition. Should the
Democrats opt for the first or the second option, the CDR is ready to
negotiate a new government protocol, Diaconescu said. President Emil
Constantinescu announced he will convene a meeting with coalition leaders
on 28 January and will then make known his position, RFE/RL's Bucharest
bureau reported. MS

ROMANIAN FOREIGN MINISTER ASKED TO REMAIN IN GOVERNMENT. Premier Ciorbea on
27 January said he has asked Foreign Minister Andrei Plesu to stay in the
government, even if the Democratic Party decides to withdraw from it.
Ciorbea explained that move by saying Plesu is an "outstanding personality"
and is not a member of the Democratic Party, which proposed him for the
post when the government was reshuffled in December 1997. Plesu said he has
not yet decided what to do. Democratic Party Secretary-General Vasile Blaga
said his party is abiding by its 14 January decision to withdraw its
ministers but is ready to participate in a cabinet not led by Ciorbea.
Earlier the same day, Democratic Party Chairman Petre Roman told the
Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe in Strasbourg that despite
political differences, there was a consensus in the parliament on the need
for reforms. He told a Radio Bucharest correspondent that the withdrawal of
Democratic ministers would not mean the party leave the coalition. MS

OPPOSITION LEADER READY TO SUPPORT MINORITY GOVERNMENT. Former President
Ion Iliescu,  who is currently chairman of the Party of Social Democracy
(PDSR) in Romania, said on 27 January that the PDSR might agree to
guarantee its parliamentary support of a minority government but will
condition support on negotiations. Iliescu said the PDSR would "by no means
make concessions similar to those made by the Democratic Party" on the
restitution of property, a republican form of government, and the education
law. He added that his party has had "unofficial" contacts with the
Democrats as well as with the PNTCD. Meanwhile, Social Democratic Party
(PSDR) chairman Sergiu Cunescu said his formation will not withdraw its
ministers even if the Democrats decide to do so.  The PSDR ran on joint
lists with the Democrats in the 1996 elections. Finally, National Liberal
Party chairman Mircea Ionescu-Quintus said his party is fully opposed to
the idea of a minority government, which, he said, would make early
elections unavoidable. MS

BULGARIAN BOMBING SUSPECTS ARRESTED. Bulgarian authorities on 27 January
announced the arrest of four suspects who have confessed to the bombing
earlier this month of the Sofia offices of the country's
largest-circulation newspaper, "Trud" (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 19 January
1998). Police said they also know the identity of the person who contracted
the bombing. They added that the motive for the attack was an attempt by
criminal groups to intimidate "Trud" in particular and Bulgarian media in
general. The bombing caused extensive damage, but no one was seriously
injured. MS

THE LEVOCA SUMMIT

by Genevieve Zalatorius

        At a summit of 11 mostly Eastern European presidents in Levoca,
Slovakia, on 23-24 January, some of Slovakia's closest neighbors announced
they will support that country's bid to enter the EU.
        "We cannot imagine Europe without Slovakia," Austrian President
Thomas Klestil said. "We're going to support Slovakia," he said, adding
that it is one of the "core countries" in Europe. Hungary and Poland
expressed similar positions.
        EU officials in December decided Slovakia would not be among the
first countries to begin accession talks. The EU and other Western
institutions have criticized Slovakia for not respecting democratic
principles. But, Slovak President Michal Kovac, trying to remain upbeat
during the summit, said those gathered are "interested in Slovakia becoming
an integral part of Europe." That shows Slovakia is "not shunned and
ignored and that there is no international conspiracy against Slovakia,"
Kovac commented.
        Bulgarian President Petar Stoyanov said the main significance of
the meeting was that the participants have the "same philosophy--the
philosophy of a united Europe."
        Hungarian President Arpad Goncz said Europe "cannot be complete"
without Slovakia. "Slovakia has its place in Europe," he added.
        Polish President Alexander Kwasniewski said Slovakia has confirmed
its desire to be part of European structures. "From the Polish position, we
will support Slovakia wanting to be part of EU and NATO," he added.
        Discussion at the summit concentrated on the integration of all
Central European countries into Western structures such as the EU. The
theme of the summit was "Civil Society--the Hope for a United Europe."
        Romanian President Emil Constantinescu warned that a civil society
"has to be on its guard." He singled out corruption as a problem. And he
also emphasized the need to reach harmony with ethnic minorities.
        Among those attending the summit for the first time was Ukrainian
President Leonid Kuchma, who said his country's long history of
totalitarian domination left it farther behind other countries. Kuchma said
the transition process will be more "painful" in his country than in others
and will "take more time."  Referring to his Moscow meeting with Russian
President Boris Yeltsin, Kuchma said he would deliver "greetings" from the
11 presidents to the Russian leader. We all want to have "normal relations"
with our eastern neighbor, Kuchma said.
        Although Slovak Prime Minister Vladimir Meciar was invited to the
summit, he chose not to attend. His absence only served to highlight the
strained relations between Meciar and President Kovac, the summit's host.
Kovac, who has fewer than 40 days remaining in office, was praised by the
summit participants.
        Hungarian President Goncz reminded summit participants that this
was the last such conference with Kovac. "We see in [Kovac] a person of
great determination. His personality is closely linked with the spirit of
Europe," Goncz said.
        With Slovak presidential elections due on 29 January, those
attending the summit said they will  be closely monitoring the situation.
Czech President Havel took time during his visit to meet with Slovak
oppositionists, including representatives of the ethnic Hungarian minority.
Havel told reporters that Czechs are interested in having better relations
with their Slovak neighbors.
        Hungary is also hoping to improve relations with Slovakia.
President Goncz met with his Slovak counterpart one day before the summit
began for unofficial talks. On that same day, the Slovak and Hungarian
foreign ministers met in Budapest to discuss ethnic minorities and the
Danube dam dispute.

The author is an RFE/RL correspondent based in Bratislava.


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

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
* Pete Baumgartner
* 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