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RFE/RL NEWSLINE

RFE/RL NEWSLINE Vol 2, No. 25, Part II, 6 February 1998


___________________________________________________________
RFE/RL NEWSLINE Vol 2, No. 25, Part II, 6 February 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

* CRIMEAN DEPUTY PREMIER SERIOUSLY INJURED IN EXPLOSION

* HUNGARIAN COALITION DIVIDED OVER GABCIKOVO-NAGYMAROS COMPROMISE

* ROMANIA'S COALITION PARTNERS SIGN PROTOCOL

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EAST-CENTRAL EUROPE

CRIMEAN DEPUTY PREMIER SERIOUSLY INJURED IN EXPLOSION. Aleksandr Safontsev,
the first deputy prime minister of Crimea, and his bodyguard were seriously
injured when a bomb exploded near their car, ITAR-TASS reported on 6
February. The incident occurred in Tavriya, near Simferopol, and followed a
special session of the Crimean Supreme Soviet to discuss the situation in
Yalta, the scene of an ongoing power struggle (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 5
February 1998). Safontsev is responsible for industry, trade, and energy. PB

UKRAINIAN PARLIAMENT APPROVES BROADCASTING LAW. Lawmakers have again passed
a broadcasting law that allows foreign-funded television stations to air
campaign advertisements. President Leonid Kuchma previously vetoed the law
because it prohibits any network that is even partially funded by a foreign
company from broadcasting political advertisements. He argued that such a
law would have kept several nationwide television networks from airing
campaign advertisements. The legislation  bans foreigners from holding
top-level jobs in television or radio stations in Ukraine. PB

UKRAINIAN PRIME MINISTER IN MINSK. Valery Pustovoitenko held talks with
Belarusian President Alyaksandr Lukashenka in Minsk on 5 February,
ITAR-TASS reported. Lukashenka said that  Belarus is ready to "strengthen
relations with Ukraine" and that he hopes the visit would help solve
bilateral problems. He added that the visit should lead to an increase in
trade between the two countries, which he said was too low. Pustovoitenko
said his country wants to expand dialogue with Minsk. Pustovoitenko is also
scheduled to meet with Prime Minister Sergei Ling and visit several
industrial sites. PB

BELARUSIAN AMBASSADOR RECALLED FROM WARSAW. Viktor Bursky has been recalled
for consultations after Minsk accused Poland of interfering in Belarus's
internal affairs. Belarusian Foreign Minister Ivan Antonovich said the
recall is in response to a meeting of Belarusian opposition leaders in the
Polish town of Bialystok and a seminar for opposition newspaper chiefs in
Warsaw last weekend (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 2 February 1998). He also cited
the border restrictions on Belarusians recently imposed by Warsaw. An
official in the Polish Prime Minister's office said he is surprised that
Minsk regards "independent civil initiatives as interference in its
internal matters." Polish Foreign Ministry spokesman Pawel Dobrowolski said
the ministry was not involved in organizing the seminar and was surprised
by the decision to recall Bursky. PB

ESTONIAN COURT RULES LANGUAGE LAW CHANGES UNCONSTITUTIONAL. The Supreme
Court has ruled that amendments to the language law that were adopted by
the parliament last fall are unconstitutional, ETA reported on 5 February.
President Lennart Meri had turned to the court in December after twice
refusing to promulgate the amended law. According to the president, the
legislation would upset the constitutional balance of powers since it would
allow the government to evaluate and determine the level of proficiency of
parliamentary deputies and local government officials in the Estonian
language. JC

RUSSIA ACCUSES ESTONIA OF 'COLONIAL' ATTITUDE. Russian Foreign Ministry
spokesman Gennadii Tarasov on 5 February said that the main obstacle to
Estonia's entry to the EU is the county's "colonial" attitude toward its
ethnic minorities, ETA reported, citing RIA Novosti. Tarasov argued that
Tallinn is unwilling to "find a civilized solution to the human rights
problems" of all those living in Estonia. He added that Tallinn's
assertions of Russian opposition to Estonian EU membership are
"groundless." Tarasov was responding to an interview that Estonian Foreign
Minister Toomas Hendrik Ilves gave to the Italian daily "Corriere della
Sera" in which, according to Tarasov, Ilves maintained that Russia is
opposed to the Baltics' joining the EU. JC

RUSSIAN OFFICIAL SAYS KRASTS NOT INVITED TO MOSCOW. Russian government
spokesman Igor Shabdurasulov has denied that Latvian Prime Minister Guntars
Krasts was invited to Moscow (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 5 February 1998), BNS
and Interfax reported. Shabdurasulov said Krasts has not received such an
invitation either from Russian Premier Viktor Chernomyrdin or through
diplomatic channels. But Maris Riekstins, secretary of state at the Latvian
Foreign Ministry, who was present during the recent talks in Riga between
Chernomyrdin and Latvian President Guntis Ulmanis, stressed that
Chernomyrdin's invitation to Krasts was "unequivocal." Riekstins added that
"we believe everything said at such a level should be taken seriously." JC

LITHUANIA WANTS EXPANDED ECONOMIC TIES WITH RUSSIA. Prime Minister
Gediminas Vagnorius on 5 February called for strengthening
Lithuanian-Russian  economic relations. Vagnorius said that Lithuania is
interested in signing a bilateral agreement on trade liberalization, above
all with Kaliningrad Oblast. But to reach such an agreement, Vagnorius
commented,  there is a need for "mutual willingness." The prime minister
noted that Lithuanian companies seeking to promote economic cooperation
with  Kaliningrad face "many obstacles and superficial barriers" there. JC

POLAND AGREES TO AUSCHWITZ PRESERVATION PLAN. Polish and Jewish leaders on
5 February agreed to sign a plan on developing and preserving the Auschwitz
and Birkenau concentration camps, news agencies reported. Miles Lerman, the
chairman of the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Council, called the agreement a
"very important moment" for Polish-Jewish relations. Some 1.5 million
people, mostly Jews, died at the two camps from 1940-1945. The sites are
visited by some 5 million people a year. PB

UPROAR IN CZECH PARLIAMENT OVER GERMAN-CZECH COUNCIL. Czech deputies
responded angrily to the announcement on 5 February that  Germany has
nominated  the  leader of the organization of expelled Sudeten Germans as a
member of the coordination council set up to study Czech-German relations,
CTK reported. Franz Neubauer, head of the Sudetens' Expellee Associations,
was included on the list of the councils' members exchanged by the Foreign
Ministers Klaus Kinkel and Jaroslav Sedivy in Bonn the same day. The
session had to be interrupted to restore order. The main opposition party,
the Social Democrats (CSSD), said it will submit a motion to debate the
issue in the Chamber of Deputies on 6 February. CSSD leader Milos Zeman
said  Neubauer's presence in the council  was "incomprehensible" since he
had "from the very beginning" been opposed to the Czech-German
reconciliation declaration signed last year. MS

KOVAC JR. AGREES TO EXTRADITION. Michal Kovac Jr., the son of the Slovak
president, who was arrested at a Czech-German crossing point on 4 February,
told Czech investigators in Plzen that he agrees to being extradited to
Germany, CTK reported. The Plzen regional court has asked the Munich
Prosecutor's Office to send an official extradition request. As soon as the
request arrives, the court will pass it on to Justice Minister Vlasta
Parkanova, who will then decide on the case (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 5
February 1998). MS

HUNGARIAN COALITION DIVIDED OVER GABCIKOVO-NAGYMAROS COMPROMISE. The
Alliance of Free Democrats (ZSDZS), the junior coalition partner in the
Hungarian government,  is opposed to the Socialist Party's proposal for
solving the Gabcikovo-Nagymaros dispute with Slovakia, Hungarian media
reported on 5 February.  The same day, the Socialist majority in the
cabinet approved the principles of an agreement whereby the Hungarian side
would build a dam, either at the original site at Nagymaros or at
Pilismarot, and the two countries would drop compensation claims against
each other. Government spokesman Elemer Kiss said the costs of building
either site would probably have to be met by Hungary alone. Studies show
that building a dam at Nagymaros would cost $600 million and at Pilismarot
some $1 billion. Interior Minister Gabor Kuncze of the ZSDZS has requested
that the coalition's  Coordination Council meet to debate the issue. MS

EU SETS GOALS FOR APPLICANTS. The European Commission decided in Brussels
on 4 February on a list of goals that each of the 10 applicants must meet
by the end of 1998 and in the longer term if they are to stay on track for
EU membership. The detailed plans, called "accession partnerships," are
specifically tailored to each country. The commission asked Poland to
reduce its external debt this year and implement a new plan to restructure
its steel industry. Estonia and Latvia are told to make it easier for their
Russian-speakers to become citizens. The Czech Republic will have to
monitor banking, securities, and the insurance business more closely.
Slovakia, which is not in the first group of countries tentatively slated
for EU membership, is told to hold free and fair presidential, legislative,
and local elections in 1998 and to adopt laws guaranteeing use of minority
languages. PM

SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE

EU CALLS FOR SERBIAN-ALBANIAN DIALOGUE. British Junior Foreign Minister
Tony Lloyd said in Tirana on 5 February that Serbs and Kosovo Albanians
"need to move toward greater autonomy for the Albanians in Kosovo and the
recognition that neither separatism nor violence offers any solution to the
Kosovo Albanians." He added that the EU, whose presidency the UK currently
holds, "will condemn violence from any part and [stress] that separatism is
not on the agenda of the international community." Lloyd urged the Serbian
authorities to implement the 1996 agreement to reintroduce
Albanian-language education. He also called for direct talks between
Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic and Kosovo shadow-state President
Ibrahim Rugova. The Kosovars reject bilateral talks and want
internationally mediated negotiations or a Dayton-style conference. Lloyd
also noted that the EU is considering setting up an office in Pristina. PM

HAS ALBANIAN POLICY TOWARD KOSOVO HARDENED? Albanian Foreign Ministry
officials reassured Lloyd  that Albania will work to restore calm if an
armed conflict breaks out in Kosovo, "Gazeta Shqiptare" reported. Those
assurances followed a statement earlier this week  by Foreign Minister
Paskal Milo that Albanians everywhere will react "as one nation" should war
erupt in Kosovo. The previous government of President Sali Berisha often
used that formulation to indicate that Albania would respond militarily if
Serbia launched a campaign of "ethnic cleansing" against the Kosovars. The
current Socialist-led government has in recent months distanced itself from
Berisha's pro-Kosovar policy and sought better ties to Belgrade. Elsewhere,
spokesmen for the Defense Ministry denied a report in "Koha Jone" of 3
February that the military are concentrating artillery and armor in the
Kukes area, near Kosovo. FS

SERBIA STOPS KOSOVO MAIL DELIVERY. Officials of the Kosovo branch of the
Yugoslav Post in Pristina earlier this week decided to stop mail deliveries
to  some 20 mainly ethnic Albanian villages in the Srbica and Glogovac
areas, BETA news agency reported from Kosovska Mitrovica on 5 February. The
officials cited security concerns as the reason for that decision. It is
unclear whether the ruling has come into effect. The villages affected are
located in an area where the clandestine Kosovo Liberation Army is
particularly strong. PM

MIXED RESULTS IN YUGOSLAV-SLOVENIAN TALKS. Mihailo Milojevic, the president
of the Yugoslav Chamber of Commerce, told his visiting Slovenian
counterpart, Jozko Cuk, in Belgrade on 5 February that Ljubljana must
change its political stance toward Belgrade if economic relations are to
improve. Cuk  suggested that an improvement in economic ties could lead to
a warming of the political climate. He also noted that trade between
Slovenia on the one hand and Serbia and Montenegro on the other totaled $5
billion in 1990 but only $138 million last year. Milosevic's Yugoslavia
claims to be the sole legal successor to the former Yugoslavia and hence
entitled to all its properties and assets. Slovenia and the other former
Yugoslav republics demand that the properties and assets be divided among
the successor states. PM

PLAVSIC ADVISER WARNS AGAINST YUGOSLAV DINAR. Rajko Tomas, an adviser to
Republika Srpska President Biljana Plavsic, said in Banja Luka on 5
February that Bosnian Serbs should have confidence in the new Bosnian joint
currency, the convertible mark, which is pegged to the German currency at
one-to-one. Tomas added that the convertible mark will shield Bosnian Serbs
from the inflationary affects stemming from the ongoing fall of the
Yugoslav dinar, which is the most widely used currency in the Republika
Srpska. He said that the "advantage of the convertible mark is the
advantage of stable money.... Therefore, the convertible mark should
provide for stable development of the Republika Srpska and
Bosnia-Herzegovina in general." Tomas also commented that the Yugoslav
dinar is "just printed money without backing." PM

KLEIN URGES CHANGE OF BOSNIAN PASSPORT DESIGN. Jacques Klein, a deputy to
the intentional community's Carlos Westendorp, said in Sarajevo on 5
February that the joint passports, which the parliament approved on 15
December 1997, should be modified to remove the reference on the cover as
to which of the two entities the bearer comes from. Klein stated that
removing the words "Republika Srpska" or "Federation of Bosnia-Herzegovina"
would reduce the risk of the bearer being subjected to harassment by
nationalists from the other entity. He argued that the principle of not
including the name of the entity of origin was successful in the case of
the design of the new license plates and that it should prove successful
with the passports as well. PM

KARADZIC ARREST WARRANT STILL VALID. A spokesman for the Hague-based
International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia said in Sarajevo
on 5 February that the court "expects that if [indicted war criminal
Radovan Karadzic]  travels outside the Republika Srpska, he will be
immediately arrested and transferred to The Hague." The spokesman added
that the court "would like to put on record that there is an outstanding
international arrest warrant for Karadzic." Reports appear from time to
time in the former Yugoslav and international media that Karadzic has left
Bosnian Serb territory for destinations that have included Montenegro,
Slovenia, Hungary, Greece, and Russia. The Russian Foreign Ministry
recently denied Belgrade press reports that Karadzic has gone into exile in
Russia. PM

BRCKO TALKS BEGIN. U.S. negotiator Roberts Owen opened talks in Vienna on 5
February to decide the status of the north Bosnian town of Brcko and
surrounding villages. The deadline for a decision, which has been postponed
before, is 15 March. The Brcko question was the only one left open in the
1995 Dayton agreement. The Serbs claim that town and surrounding area
because they provide a land link between the two halves of the Republika
Srpska. The Muslims and Croats argue that they together constituted the
majority in the town before the war and that to deny them Brcko would be to
endorse the results of "ethnic cleansing." PM

SLOVENIA, ITALY SETTLE PROPERTY DISPUTE. The Slovenian Foreign Ministry
issued a statement in Ljubljana on 5 February confirming an earlier
statement by visiting Italian Foreign Minister Lamberto Dini that Italy
will accept $62 million from Slovenia to compensate Italian citizens who
fled Slovenia at the end of World War Two for their property losses (see
"RFE/RL Newsline," 5 February 1998). PM

ROMANIA'S COALITION PARTNERS SIGN PROTOCOL. Members of the coalition signed
the new government protocol on 5 February following lengthy negotiations,
Radio Bucharest reported. Coalition leaders have suggested that the
protocol is generally viewed as a temporary arrangement and that  a new
government is likely to be set up within the next few months. The Democrats
have stressed that they will continue to seek the replacement of the prime
minister. They undertook to back those laws that "promote reforms" and the
measures that the government agreed on before their withdrawal from the
executive. However, there is no mention in the protocol of a pledge to
refrain from backing or initiating no-confidence motions in the government.
The 11 Democratic deputy ministers officially resigned on 5 February, but
Democratic prefects remain in office. MS

VAN DER STOEL IN ROMANIA. European Commissioner on National Minorities Max
van der Stoel  on 4 February met with George Pruteanu and Anghel Stanciu,
the chairmen of the bicameral parliament's education commissions, both of
whom are opposed to amendments to the 1995 education law proposed by the
government and supported by the Democratic Federation of Romania (HDFR).
Last December, the Senate passed a version of the amended law that failed
to meet the Hungarians' demands.  Pruteanu said Van der Stoel told him that
under international law, Romania is not obliged to set up universities
teaching in national minority languages. In related news, Democratic
Convention Chairman Ion Diaconescu said on 4 February that the convention
will respect its promises to the  HDFR, including those on the education
law. MS

TRANSDNIESTER SUBMITS DRAFT DECLARATION ON STATEHOOD. At a 5 February
meeting of experts from the two conflicting sides in the Transdniester
conflict, the separatists submitted a draft "Declaration on Transdniester
Statehood." Anatol Taranu, the head of the Moldovan delegation, has
rejected the draft, saying that "it can be seen with the naked eye that the
document...contradicts the spirit of the 8 May 1997 memorandum on
normalization of relations." He added that the separatists are "counting on
concessions" as they try to exploit the election campaign in Moldova. He
emphasized that all issues between Tiraspol and Chisinau must be settled
"with full respect for the sovereignty, independence, and territorial
integrity of the Republic of Moldova." Chief Tiraspol negotiator Vladimir
Garbuzov argued that the declaration is "within the spirit of the
memorandum." Like Taranu, he called for negotiations to continue. MS

MOLDOVAN PARLIAMENT DEBATES BILL ON NATIONAL PROPERTIES REGISTER. Deputies
on 5 February approved in the first reading a  bill on creating a national
properties register. Last November, they had rejected a similar bill
proposed by the government, prompting the World Bank to postpone a $16
million loan to finance setting up the register, RFE/RL's Chisinau bureau
reported. Both the World Bank and the IMF have made the creation of the
register a condition for extending loans to Moldova. Also on 5 February,
David Owen, IMF deputy director for Southeastern Europe told President
Petru Lucinschi that while Moldova has succeeded in reducing inflation and
stopping economic decline, it needs to strengthen financial discipline and
control more strictly the implementation of the budget law. The fourth
installment of a $185 million loan approved by the IMF last year has been
postponed pending changes to the 1998 budget. MS


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