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RFE/RL NEWSLINE

RFE/RL NEWSLINE Vol 2, No. 20, Part II, 30 January 1998


___________________________________________________________
RFE/RL NEWSLINE Vol 2, No. 20, Part II, 30 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

* BELARUSIAN PRESIDENT SAYS JOURNALISTS' SENTENCES TOO LENIENT

* SLOVAK PARLIAMENT FAILS TO ELECT PRESIDENT

* LARGE CROWDS ATTEND FUNERAL OF KOSOVO ALBANIAN

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EAST-CENTRAL EUROPE

BELARUSIAN PRESIDENT SAYS JOURNALISTS' SENTENCES TOO LENIENT. Alyaksandr
Lukashenka has complained that the sentences given to two Belarusian
journalists working for Russian Public Television were "too light" (see
"RFE/RL Newsline," 29 January 1998), ITAR-TASS reported. Lukashenka said in
Belgrade that the  "border violators" should be thankful that they were not
given five-year jail terms. Most observers say the light sentences were
given to placate Russia. In Moscow, President Boris Yeltsin praised Russian
journalists on 30 January for enduring repression while working in Belarus.
Yeltsin said Lukashenka will "mature, grow some more" and that the two
leaders will discuss freedom of the press at every meeting they have in the
future. PB

OSCE GRANTED OFFICE SPACE IN MINSK. The Organization for Security and
Cooperation in Europe said on 29 January that its mission in the Belarusian
capital should be operating by 7 February, an RFE/RL correspondent
reported. The OSCE has finally obtained office space, and the head of the
mission, Germany's Hans-Georg Wieck, is scheduled to arrive early next
month. The establishment of the mission has been long delayed owing to
Belarusian objections  to the office's objective, which the OSCE says  is
to promote democracy and political freedom. PB

UKRAINIAN ARMS SALES INCREASE. Ukraine exported nearly 2 billion hryvna ($1
million) worth of weapons in 1997, Reuters reported on 29 January. Andriy
Kukin, the head of the state arms exporter Ukrspetsexport, said the company
signed 170 contracts last year. Ukraine is now the  20th largest arms
exporter in the world, having moved up from 30th place in 1996. The
newspaper "Den" said a huge tank purchase by Pakistan has helped boost
sales. PB

KYIV PROTESTS PLANE DETENTION IN GREECE. The Ukrainian Foreign Ministry
sent a formal protest to Greece on 29 January over the detention of a
private airliner, Reuters reported. Greek authorities say they impounded
the Boeing 737 in order to compensate relatives of some of the Greeks who
died in December when a Ukrainian-owned plane crashed on the Greek isle of
Salonika, killing 69 people. The Ukrainian protest said the detention of
the plane is not in line with international norms. An investigation into
the cause of the crash has not yet been completed. PB

ESTONIA'S FOREIGN TRADE DEFICIT UP OVER 60 PERCENT LAST YEAR. The Estonian
foreign trade deficit was up almost 66 percent last year, compared with
1996 levels, BNS reported on 29 January. Exports totaled some 41.3 billion
kroons and imports 65.3 billion kroons (the corresponding figures for 1996
were 26 billion and 40.5 billion kroons). Estonia's main export partners
were Russia (17.8 percent), Finland (16.8 percent), and Sweden (13.4
percent), while most imports came from Finland (30.9 percent), followed by
Russia (11.7 percent), Sweden (9.6 percent), and Germany (9.2 percent).
Estonian's main exports are machinery, electrical appliances, and textiles.
JC

FOREIGN MINISTER SAYS POLAND READY FOR EU SOONER. Bronislaw Geremek said in
Rome that Poland is ready for the EU and could join the group in 2000, AFP
reported on 29 January. Geremek made his comments after talks with Italian
President Oscar Luigi Scalfaro and Prime Minister Romano Prodi on EU and
NATO enlargement. "We are ready and we don't need a transition period," he
said. The EU has often said that new members will enter the union some time
after 2000. Negotiations on joining the EU begin on 31 March. Geremek also
met with Pope John Paul II during his visit. PB

POLISH POLICE CHIEF REPLACED. Prime Minister Jerzy Buzek named Jan Michna
as  national police chief on 29 January, Reuters reported. Michna replaces
Marek Papala, who resigned the previous day. Michna was the head of police
in the southern province of Katowice. Papala was blamed for inadequate
security during recent sports events that resulted in the death of a youth
as well as dozens of injuries and arrests. He was also criticized for
failing to successfully fight organized crime. PB

CZECH PREMIER WILL QUIT POLITICS AFTER ELECTIONS. Josef Tosovsky on 29
January said he will quit politics as soon as possible after the early
elections are held later this year,  CTK and Reuters reported. Tosovsky
told journalists that he does not know whether he will return to his former
position as head of the Czech National Bank or will take up a position in
the private sector. He said he has accepted to head the government knowing
that this was going to be a transition cabinet and has no intention to stay
in political life. A recent poll showed that Tosovsky is highly popular,
enjoying the backing of no less than 84 percent of Czechs. MS

SLOVAK PARLIAMENT FAILS TO ELECT PRESIDENT. As expected, the Slovak
parliament of 29 January  failed to elect a president, RFE/RL's Bratislava
bureau reported. Another ballot is scheduled for 6 February. Stefan Markus,
who is backed by the Slovak Democratic Coalition and who received 34 out of
the 150 votes in the 29 January vote, will face Juraj Hrasko, the candidate
of the Party of the Democratic Left, who received 22 votes. Independent
candidate Augustin Kurek received 14 votes and is thus not eligible for the
second round. Most members of Vladimir Meciar's Movement for a Democratic
Slovakia stayed away from the ballot, and observers say it is unlikely that
either Markus or Hrasko will garner the three-fifths majority required to
elect a president. MS

SLOVAKIA NOTES CHANGE IN CZECH POSITION. Foreign Ministry spokesman Milan
Tokar on 29 January said Bratislava has "taken note" of the fact that the
policy statement read in the parliament by Czech Premier Tosovsky says the
Czech Republic is interested in "good relations" with Slovakia. The
previous government, he added, had aspired  to "above-average" relations
with its southern neighbor. Asked by a CTK correspondent whether Tosovsky's
cabinet is a credible partner for Slovakia, the spokesman said he is unable
to speak for the government but drew attention to Premier Vladimir Meciar's
remark that he would not negotiate with the new government in Prague. MS

HUNGARIAN CABINET DISCUSSES CONSTITUTIONAL AMENDMENTS. The government on 29
January decided to submit to the parliament a bill on the parliamentary
representation of ethnic minorities, Hungarian media reported (see "RFE/RL
Newsline," 28 January 1998). The bill proposes that minority
representatives be elected in October 1998, at the same time as local
elections are held. Cabinet spokesman Elemer Kiss criticized Socialist
deputy Mihaly Bihari for his recent proposal that minority elections be
postponed until 2002. The government also proposed amending the law on the
Constitutional Court to extend judges' terms from nine to 12 years. The
junior coalition party, the Free Democrats, are opposed to both
amendments, which would require changing the constitution. MSZ

SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE

LARGE CROWDS ATTEND FUNERAL OF KOSOVO ALBANIAN. Some 15,000 persons
attended the funeral in Kamenica on 29 January of an Albanian teenager shot
at point-blank range by a Serbian policeman in Kosovska Mitrovica (see
"RFE/RL Newsline," 29 January 1998), an RFE/RL correspondent reported from
Pristina. The Serbian authorities issued a statement to the state news
agency Tanjug on 29 January claiming that the killing was "involuntary."
Police stayed away from Kamenica during the funeral, at which a local
ethnic Albanian politician said the young man's death "will make [the
Kosovars] stronger and even more determined to achieve our national aim--an
independent Kosovo." PM

MILUTINOVIC HAS NO TIME FOR KOSOVO SERBS. Serbian President Milan
Milutinovic said in Belgrade on 29 January that he was "too busy" to
receive a delegation of Kosovo Serbs who wanted to ask him to protect the
Serbs from what they called "Albanian terrorism and separatism." Kosovo
Serb politician Momcilo Trajkovic and Serbian Orthodox leader Vladika
Artemije, who are heading  the delegation, said they demand that
Milutinovic receive them by 3 February. Trajkovic added  he feels that
Serbs and Albanians can reach a settlement in Kosovo on the principle that
Kosovo remains in Serbia and that the Kosovo Albanians receive what he
called "all rights," "Nasa Borba" reported. Vladika Artemije said it is
necessary that Serbs feel safe in Kosovo and want to remain there because,
he said, it is pointless to speak of Serbian Kosovo if no Serbs are willing
to live there. PM

YUGOSLAV ARMY CALLS FOR PEACEFUL SOLUTION IN KOSOVO. An army spokesman said
in Belgrade on 29 January that he sees no reason for the military to
"become involved" in Kosovo at present. He added that the army will not
undertake any "provocative actions" in the province but warned that it will
not tolerate any attacks on its personnel or property. Meanwhile in
Pristina, Tanjug reported that unknown persons threw a hand grenade at the
house of a Serb in Obilic near Pristina the previous night. PM

MONTENEGRO DEMANDS SUPPORT FOR YUGOSLAV DINAR. The Montenegrin government
on 29 January demanded in a statement that the Yugoslav government and the
central bank take steps to stop the fall of the dinar, which has lost
one-third of its value against the German mark on the black market since 1
January. The Montenegrin statement added that the weakness of the dinar is
the result of Belgrade's policies. It demanded that the federal authorities
take steps to end Yugoslavia's international isolation. PM

DEVALUATION IN  OFFING? Former central bank chief Dragoslav Avramovic said
in Belgrade that the dinar will have to be devalued at some point to bring
its official value more in line with that on the black market, an RFE/RL
correspondent reported from the Serbian capital. Serbian Prime Minister
Mirko Marjanovic, for his part, said the dinar will not be devalued.
Nonetheless, in anticipation of a devaluation, prices rose in Belgrade by
up to 50 percent and people have bought up supplies of basic foodstuffs,
the correspondent added. PM

BOSNIAN SERB DEFENSE MINISTER TAKES OFFICE. General Manojlo Milovanovic,
who is a supporter of Republika Srpska President Biljana Plavsic, took
office as defense minister in Banja Luka on 29 January. He is expected to
sack Chief-of-Staff General Pero Colic, who tried to steer a middle course
between Plavsic and her rivals in Pale, the BETA news agency reported. In
other news, the Republika Srpska Statistical Office announced that prices
rose 12.8 percent in 1997 and that the average monthly wage is $50. PM

MARCH AGAINST POVERTY IN ZAGREB. Between 3,000 and 5,000 workers and
retired people staged a peaceful demonstration in central Zagreb on 29
January to protest deteriorating living conditions and the government's
social policies. Unofficial estimates put the unemployment rate at 300,000,
including 46,000 veterans of the 1991-1995 war. The average monthly income
is $400 in a country where the price of many basic goods is similar to that
in Germany. PM

OSCE MEDIATES IN ALBANIAN HUNGER STRIKE. Daan Everts, a representative of
the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, has met with three
of the judges currently on hunger strike in Tirana, "Republika" reported on
29 January. Everts said the OSCE will try to mediate between the Justice
Ministry and the judges, who are protesting  alleged government plans to
sack up to 400 of their colleagues (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 29 January
1998). The meeting was also attended by a Council of Europe official. The
same day, Democratic Party deputies Azem Hajdari and Ferdinant Xhaferri
participated in a meeting between the parliamentary Foreign Relations
Committee and a NATO delegation. Their participation marked the end of the
Democrats' two-month boycott of the legislature's activities. FS

ANTI-MAFIA PROSECUTORS APPOINTED IN ALBANIA. A spokesman for Prosecutor
General Arben Rakipi on 29 January announced the setting up of a special
department of anti-Mafia investigators. The team will consist of five
Tirana-based police experts  as well as local representatives in police
stations throughout the country. It will also supervise the activities of a
number of undercover agents, "Koha Jone" reported. Italian experts helped
set up the new department, which is modeled after its Italian counterpart.
FS

ROMANIAN LEADERS DIFFER OVER FUTURE OF COALITION. Before leaving for Davos,
Switzerland, on 29 January to attend  the World Economic Forum, President
Emil Constantinescu said the agreement reached with the Democratic Party
provides for the continuation of the coalition until 2000, when new
elections are due. But Democratic Convention of Romania chairman Ion
Diaconescu said the same day that the future of the coalition is uncertain
because each draft law will have to be negotiated with the Democrats before
it can be debated in the parliament. Democratic Party leader Petre Roman,
who is on official visit to Portugal, told Reuters that his party would be
"disappointed" if Premier Victor Ciorbea were to stay in office but has
agreed for now to give "tactical support" to the government. Democratic
Party Deputy Chairman Bogdan Niculescu-Duvaz said his party's support for
the cabinet will end on 31 March, RFE/RL's Bucharest bureau reported. MS

ROMANIAN FOREIGN MINISTER AGREES TO STAY ON. Andrei Plesu on 29 January
said he has agreed to stay on in the cabinet, as requested by
Constantinescu and Ciorbea, because "changing the foreign minister every
month or so is not an indication of continuity and political stability." In
other news, former President Ion Iliescu said the same day that the
government "will not survive" but that he welcomes the new developments
because opposition parties will now have to be consulted before new
legislation is proposed in the parliament. Iliescu also said that his Party
of Social Democracy in Romania and the Democratic Party "have much in
common...[as regards] doctrine." MS

MOLDOVAN DEFENSE MINISTER IN WASHINGTON. Valeriu Pasat on 29 January
discussed with his U.S. counterpart, William Cohen, strengthening military
relations and cooperation aimed at avoiding the proliferation of
mass-destruction weapons, ITAR-TASS reported. Cohen praised Moldova's
contribution to the Partnership for Peace program, saying details have been
worked out for an enhanced participation. Pasat is paying a four-day visit
to the U.S. and is scheduled to meet Vice President Al Gore and other U.S.
officials. BASA-press and Infotag reported on 29 January that his visit
includes discussions on the sale of another six MiG-29 fighter jets to the
U.S. In December 1995, Chisinau and Washington signed a military
cooperation agreement, and in late 1997 Moldova sold 21 MiG-29 planes to
the U.S. MS

MOLDOVAN-TRANSDNIESTRIAN TALKS CANCELED AGAIN. A meeting between experts
representing the two sides in the Moldovan-Transdniestrian conflict,
scheduled to take place in Chisinau on 29 January, has been canceled,
RFE/RL's Chisinau bureau reported. This is the second time that the
Transdniestrian side has decided not to participate. Presidential adviser
Anatol Taranu said that the separatists were using the excuse that the head
of the Tiraspol delegation, Valerii Litskay, is in Moscow. He also accused
them of "pursuing a wait-and-see policy and waiting for the outcome of the
[March] Moldovan elections." Meanwhile, separatist leader Igor Smirnov met
in Moscow with Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin to discuss the issue of
the Russian armament stationed in the Transdniester. The separatists have
variously claimed full or partial ownership of those arms, Infotag
reported. MS

NO-CONFIDENCE MOTION FAILS IN BULGARIAN PARLIAMENT. A no-confidence motion
in  Ivan Kostov's cabinet was defeated on 29 January by a vote of 135  to
56, an RFE/RL correspondent in Sofia reported. The motion, proposed  by the
opposition Socialist Party, was aimed at the cabinet's health care
policies. No other parliamentary party supported the motion, but some
non-Socialist opposition members abstained or stayed away from the ballot.
Kostov said that the motion's defeat is a show of support for continuing
the government's economic reforms. Later on 29 January, in a statement
issued before the opening of the World Economic Forum in Davos,
Switzerland, Kostov expressed confidence  that Bulgaria will be included in
many future European infrastructure projects. He noted that Sofia is
focusing on investments in transport and communications to improve links
with Western Europe. MS


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