Жизнь - это ряд усилий. Мы видим цель, но не всегда видим дорогу. - В. Шкловский

RFE/RL NEWSLINE Vol 2, No. 44 , Part II, 5 March 1998

RFE/RL NEWSLINE Vol 2, No. 44 , Part II, 5 March 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:


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Headlines, Part II







Foreign Minister Yevgenii Primakov on 4 March said Latvian police had
committed a "glaring violation of elementary human rights" while breaking
up a demonstration of largely Russian-speaking pensioners in Riga the
previous day, Russian news agencies reported. Primakov added that he
considers the use of force against the demonstrators "disgusting" (see
"RFE/RL Newsline," 4 March 1998). Meanwhile, the Russian State Duma on 4
March rejected a proposal by Vladimir Zhirinovsky's Liberal Democratic
Party of Russia (LDPR) faction to postpone a Duma delegation's visit to
Latvia scheduled for 16 March, Interfax reported. Earlier the same day, the
LDPR faction walked out of the Duma chamber after Duma speaker Gennadii
Seleznev took the floor away from LDPR deputy Yurii Kuznetsov, who had
denounced Latvia as a "fascist regime." LB

...WHILE RIGA REFUTES ALLEGATIONS. The Latvian Foreign Ministry, meanwhile,
responded by issuing a statement saying that Russian politicians' attempts
to "politicize developments during the unauthorized picket at Riga City
Hall" are "inadmissible," BNS reported on 4 March. The ministry said it was
"astonished" over the way Russian officials were trying to "interpret an
administrative breach [to give it] a political and ethnic nature." It added
that such attempts were detrimental to the development of bilateral
relations, mutual trust, and understanding. Interior Minister Ziedonis
Cevers has asked the police leadership to provide a detailed report of the
demonstration as well as an evaluation of whether the police actions were
in accordance with the law and police regulations. JC


ALBRIGHT TO WARN UKRAINE DURING VISIT... U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine
Albright on 4 March said she will go to Kyiv with a "strong message of
friendship but also of warning," an RFE/RL correspondent in Washington
reported. Albright, who is due to arrive in the Ukrainian capital on 6
March, was addressing a Congressional subcommittee. Albright must certify
to the committee later this month that Ukraine is responding satisfactorily
to complaints by U.S. businesses in Ukraine. If that progress is not
satisfactory, the $225 million in aid due to Kyiv next year will be halved.

...AND TO TRY TO HALT KYIV'S DEAL WITH IRAN. Albright also said she will
press Ukrainian officials to halt the sale of turbines needed for an
Iranian nuclear reactor being built with Russian help. U.S. officials said
Ukraine will suffer "hundreds of millions of dollars" in losses if its
Turboatom plant in Kharkiv does not sell the turbines to Iran. To
counteract those losses, the U.S. has offered Ukraine an agreement on
nuclear cooperation if Kyiv scraps the deal, including aid on construction
of two key reactors at Ukraine's Khmelnitskiy and Rivno power plants.
Russia also recently announced that it will aid Kyiv in finishing those
reactors (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 4 March 1998). Russia has warned Ukraine
that it will void other international contracts with Kyiv if it does not
produce the turbines. PB

Lukashenka held talks in Hrodno on 4 March with the head of the Belarusian
Catholic Church, Reuters reported. Lukashenka said he told Cardinal Kazimir
Sventak to stop training "foreigners" to become priests. That remark was
apparently in reference to ethnic Poles, who number 300,000 in the western
region of Hrodno. Relations between Poland and Belarus have recently
cooled. Minsk recalled its ambassador in Warsaw last month, and Lukashenka
said he intentionally did not meet with Polish Foreign Minister and
Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe Chairman Bronislaw
Geremek when the latter opened an OSCE mission in Minsk last week (see
"RFE/RL Newsline," 2 March 1998). Some 20 percent of Belarusian citizens
are Catholic. Before the meeting, Lukashenka said that although he is "not
a believer," he advocated that Belarus "establish Christian values." PB

and Anatolii Kulikov met in Minsk on 4 March to discuss stepping up
cooperation in fighting crime, ITAR-TASS reported. They also analyzed
progress toward implementing bilateral measures that the countries'
Interior Ministries agreed to at a meeting in Moscow last September. PB

war crimes suspect Aleksandras Lileikis, has called for charges against his
90-year-old client to be dropped, BNS reported. At a pre-trial hearing on 4
March, Matuiza argued that there is not sufficient evidence to convict
Lileikis of involvement in genocide against Jews during the Nazi occupation
of Lithuania. He added that if the case is not closed, he will demand that
the court carry out additional investigations. Lileikis was head of the
Vilnius security police from 1941-1944. JC

PRIMAKOV, GEREMEK MEET IN MOSCOW. Russian Foreign Minister Yevgenii
Primakov says the OSCE should play a "greater role" in forming a European
security system, ITAR-TASS reported on 5 March. Primakov made his comments
after meeting with Polish Foreign Minister and OSCE Chairman Bronislaw
Geremek. Primakov added that it was important to hear that Geremek is
against the "international isolation" of Belarus. The two ministers also
discussed the recent violence in Kosovo, the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, and
the situation of  ethnic Russians in the Baltics. Geremek stressed Warsaw's
belief that joining NATO will not affect Poland's relations with Moscow. PB

Javier Solana said after his 4 March meeting President Vaclav Havel that he
believes accession to NATO should be approved by the Czech parliament and
not through a referendum. He said NATO members that have already approved
the organization's enlargement may find it " a bit strange" to realize that
their decision  could be altered in a plebiscite. He said he hoped all
three new NATO members can be admitted in April 1999. Following his meeting
with Premier Josef Tosovsky, Solana told journalists that the alliance is
"very satisfied" with the Czech Republic's preparations for NATO membership
and that the level of the Czech army's interoperability is "very good," CTK
reported. In other news, Vladimir Mlynar on 4 March resigned as government
spokesman following his decision to join the Freedom Union. MS

CZECH SENATE REVOKES ANTI-ROMANY LAW. The Czech Senate on 4 March approved
a bill revoking legislation adopted in the 1950s that bans a "nomadic way
of life," CTK reported. The Chamber of Deputies had voted to abolish the
law last month. Several senators said the law was "racist" and aimed
primarily against Roma. Also on 4 March, the leadership of the Romani Civic
Association called on all Czech citizens to "stop violence and mutual
provocations." CTK reported the same day that more than 800 people have
signed a petition urging Czech citizens not to be indifferent to racism and
xenophobia in the wake of rapidly escalating attacks by skinheads on Roma.
The petition was initiated by prominent Czech intellectuals. MS

on 4 March that the amnesty declared by the Slovak government the previous
day halts all investigations of individuals suspected of involvement in the
1995  kidnapping of former President Michal Kovac's son and precludes the
prosecution of such individuals.  According to Reuters, citing TASR, the
text of the amnesty stipulates "the stopping of the proceedings for crimes
committed in the context of the kidnapping of Michal Kovac Jr. abroad."
Opposition politicians claim the kidnapping was carried out by the Slovak
SIS secret service, headed by Prime Minister Vladimir Meciar's close
associate, Ivan Lexa. The amnesty also cancels all suspended prison
sentences of less than six months for "offenses with intent" and of less
than a year for those "without intent." And it shields from prosecution
people involved in thwarting last year's referendum on the election of
Slovakia's president by popular vote. MS

opposition among Hungarians to building a dam on the River Danube has grown
over the past month from 48 percent to 62 percent, "Magyar Nemzet" reported
on 4 March. Some 49 percent of Budapest residents believe that Slovak
interests are served by the protocol signed last week in Bratislava, while
only 15 percent say the agreement serves Hungarian interests. MSZ


SERBS ATTACK KOSOVAR VILLAGES. The Democratic League of Kosovo (LDK), the
leading Kosovar political party, has issued a statement in Pristina saying
"strong Serbian police forces" opened fire on several ethnic Albanian
villages near Srbica on 5 March. Police exchanged fire with armed Albanians
in the villages and set up check points on the main road connecting
Kosovska Mitrovica and Srbica, BETA news agency added. The previous day,
unknown gunmen fired at a police station in Pristina, shortly after the
clandestine Kosovo Liberation Army (UCK) pledged revenge for the Kosovars
killed by Serbian police in recent violence (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 4 March
1998). On 5 March, Parliamentary Party leader Adem Demaci said in Pristina
that the violent actions of the Serbian police has led Kosovars to conclude
that the formerly tiny UCK has become "essential for their protection." PM

KOSOVARS CALL FOR NATO PEACEKEEPERS... Edita Tahiri, the LDK's top foreign
affairs spokeswoman, said in Istanbul on 4 March that "NATO should
immediately send a force to Kosovo and the UN Security Council should take
urgent measures. Otherwise, the unrest in Kosovo will spread to other parts
of the Balkans, and may involve Albania, Macedonia, and even Turkey and
Greece. The international community and NATO should act to prevent another
tragedy like the one in Bosnia. Pressure must be exerted on the Serbian
government to sit at the negotiating table with us. Many Albanians in
Kosovo believe that after this point it will not be possible to live in
Kosovo under Serbian rule." PM

...AND FOR MEDIATION. Fehmi Agani, a top official of the LDK, said in
Pristina on 4 March that "never in the last 10 years has the situation been
so tense, and it might explode any moment.... The positions of the
Albanians and... [Yugoslav President Slobodan] Milosevic are so far apart
that no dialogue is possible without the mediation of a third party." The
Serbian authorities, for their part, have claimed repeatedly that the
Albanians enjoy full rights "on the highest European level." Serbian
officials add that they are ready for a dialogue, but only if the Kosovars
renounce violence and accept the Serbian Constitution. The Kosovars reply
that the main issue for them is changing that constitution because it
grants them no autonomy. PM

CROATIAN SERBS DRAFTED FOR KOSOVO. Mons Nyberg, a spokesman for the UN High
Commissioner for Refugees, told the independent FoNet news agency in
Belgrade on 4 March that "we have been informed that refugees [from Croatia
now living] in Kosovo are being called up for military service." He added
that the UNHCR has informed the Serbian Refugee Committee about those
reports. "We were told that action will be taken for such practices to be
stopped," Nyberg said. He stressed that international law specifies that
refugees "must not be called up for military service in the country that
offered them asylum." Yugoslavia does not automatically extend citizenship
to Croatian or Bosnian Serb refugees. PM

SANDZAK LEADER SAYS KOSOVO ON EVE OF WAR. Rasim Ljajic, a prominent Sandzak
Muslim political leader, said in Novi Pazar on 4 March that the current
situation in Kosovo is reminiscent of that in Croatia and in Bosnia on the
eve of  the conflicts in each of those two republics. Ljajic added that the
current state of "no war, no peace" in Kosovo is one that Milosevic knows
how to manipulate very well to his own political advantage, BETA reported.

GELBARD WARNS OF MILITARY ACTION. Robert Gelbard, the U.S. special envoy
for the former Yugoslavia, said in Washington on 4 March that "I guarantee
you, we simply won't brook any renewal of violence and yes, I do put the
overwhelming onus on the government of [Yugoslavia]. We continue to be
prepared to deal with this problem with Milosevic, with his military, and
with his police using every appropriate tool we have at our command. U.S.
policy has not changed.... The key is we're going to have effective means
to deal with these problems and we have warned Milosevic appropriately....
The economic situation in...Yugoslavia is dismal.... The situation can
become an awful lot worse and we can make it worse," Gelbard concluded. PM

COOK URGES "POLITICAL SOLUTION." British Foreign Secretary Robin Cook
arrived in Belgrade for talks with Milosevic on 5 March. The previous day
in Sarajevo, Cook said of his planned meeting with the Yugoslav leader: "I
will carry a very clear and simple message: Europe and the trans-Atlantic
countries expect that steps to find a political solution will be taken.
Whilst we will always back a fight against terrorism, you cannot beat
terrorism alone by police action. [Milosevic] also needs to address
legitimate political grievances of the great majority of Kosovo who do not
endorse terrorism." Meanwhile in London, the BBC reported that the foreign
ministers of the six-member international Contact Group will meet in the
British capital on 9 March to discuss Kosovo. PM

up to SFOR troops in Foca on 4 March and arrived in The Netherlands the
next day. He is the fourth Bosnian Serb indicted for war crimes by the
Hague-based court to surrender to the tribunal's representatives in recent
weeks. Kunarac is charged with systematically raping Muslim women and
inflicting psychological and physical cruelty on them. Also in The Hague,
the court announced on 5 March that it is commuting from 10 to five years
the sentence for war crimes  handed down to Drazen Erdemovic, a Bosnian
Croat who served in the Serbian forces at Srebrenica. The court noted that
Erdemovic had been forced into killing Muslims, shows remorse, and suffers
from post-trauma stress. PM

MONTENEGRO JAILS MILOSEVIC BACKER. A court in Podgorica on 3 March
sentenced a supporter of former President Momir Bulatovic, who is an ally
of Milosevic, to four months in jail for inciting violence during
demonstrations in January. In Belgrade, the federal parliament ratified an
agreement between Milosevic and the Bosnian Serbs to enable Bosnian
citizens to also hold Yugoslav citizenship. In Zagreb, Milorad Pupovac, a
leader of Croatia's Serbian minority, told an RFE/RL correspondent that the
Croatian government could quickly end the intimidation of Serbs by Croatian
nationalists in eastern Slavonia if it wanted to do so. PM

Ministry spokesman Gabor Horvath said on 4 March that Budapest "condemns
the use of force by any side and advocates a peaceful solution and a
long-term settlement" of the conflict in Kosovo. He said respect for
"human, civil, and minority rights," including those of the Hungarian
minority in Vojvodina, must be part of such a settlement. Bulgarian Foreign
Ministry spokesman Radko Vlaikov said Sofia opposes "any form of terrorism
by either side and any pretensions to separatism or a change of existing
borders." Vlaikov said Albanian Foreign Minister Paskal Milo had told  his
Bulgarian counterpart, Nadezhda Mihailova, that his country is ready to
endorse the Bulgarian proposal for a joint Balkan declaration on Kosovo.
Romanian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Anda Filip said Bucharest is "deeply
worried" and opposes "violence against the use of democratic freedoms" and
"terrorist actions as a means to promote political aims." MS/MSZ

ROMANIAN BUDGET STILL NOT APPROVED. Leaders of the coalition parties,
excluding the Democratic Party,  have approved "in principle" the 1998
draft budget, RFE/RL's Bucharest bureau reported on 4 March. Democratic
Party deputy chairman Alexandru Sassu told reporters that the absence of
his party's representatives at the meeting was due to "miscommunication"
among coalition members. Sassu said that he still does not know whether the
Democrats will vote for the budget, saying the government has not presented
a "clear program" and the budget itself is still at the "drafting stage." MS

CONSTANTINESCU LEADS OPINION POLL. President Emil Constantinescu would
receive 45 percent of the vote if presidential elections were to be held
now. A public opinion survey conducted by the Center for Urban and Rural
Sociology shows that the Constantinescu is followed by former President Ion
Iliescu (14 percent), Corneliu Vadim Tudor, leader of the extremist Greater
Romania Party (13 percent), Alliance for Romania party leader Teodor
Melescanu (12 percent), and Petre Roman, chairman of the Democratic Party
(9 percent). MS

Taranu on 4 March presented a plan for settling the conflict over the
separatist Transdniester region, RFE/RL's Chisinau bureau reported. Taranu,
who is on leave of absence as he heads the "Speranta" list for the 22 March
parliamentary elections, said one referendum should be held in Moldova and
another in the Transdniester on whether to approve a plan that is to be
drafted by a UN-sponsored international conference with the participation
of the Organizations for Security and Cooperation in Europe. He said
President Petru Lucinschi is aware of the plan "in general but not in its
details." Taranu heads the Moldovan delegation to negotiations with the
separatists. MS

government on 4 March revoked Mircea Snegur's right to use an official car
and  have bodyguards. Snegur is now a leader of the rightist Democratic
Convention of Moldova. The government's decision is in line with a recently
passed law saying former heads of state may enjoy such privileges for one
year only after leaving office, Infotag reported. MS

BULGARIAN PREMIER INVITED TO MOSCOW. Russian Federation Council chairman
Yegor Stroev, who attended celebrations in Sofia marking the 120th
anniversary of the joint Bulgarian-Russian victory over Turkey, has invited
Premier Ivan Kostov to visit Moscow, an RFE/RL correspondent in the
Bulgarian capital reported on 4 March. No date has been set for the visit.
After meeting with Kostov, President Petar Stoyanov, and other Bulgarian
officials, Stroev told journalists that Bulgarian Deputy Premier Evgeni
Bakardzhiev has been invited to meet with Gazprom chairman Rem Vyakhirev on
20 March to discuss the dispute over Russian gas deliveries to Bulgaria,
ITAR-TASS reported. MS



by Asta Banionis

        On 26 February, Valdas Adamkus took the oath of office to became
the fifth president of Lithuania. The transfer of presidential duties  was
dignified, orderly, and normal--such as  would be expected from any Western
democratic state after direct elections. It holds out the promise that
Lithuania will finally be able to consolidate its efforts at modernizing
its economy, society, and politics.
        The departure from the presidency of Algirdas Brazauskas, a  former
communist party chief  and a professional politician, and the arrival of  a
newly elected president who served with distinction in the U.S. civil
service provide contrasts of both style and substance.  Certainly, the
great  expectation among his supporters and many of the voters who elected
him is that Adamkus will bring  new ideas unencumbered by the political
loyalties of the past.  At the same time, the critical votes that  gave
Adamkus his narrow victory came from people who voted against his opponent
rather than for Adamkus.  This leveling of expectations may help Adamkus
make a successful transition from a U.S. federal civil servant to a head of
state of a European country.
        There is no doubt that Adamkus brings with him modern managerial
skills from his decades-long service at the U.S. Environmental Protection
Agency. During the seven-week transition period following his victory,
Adamkus and his advisers focused their energies on a plan for restructuring
government ministries.  In their negotiations with the parliament and the
ruling coalition, they were able to win concessions to reduce the number of
ministries from 17 to 14.  Having tinkered with the apparatus of
government, President Adamkus now faces the challenge of  developing his
policy goals and implementing his programs. And the question on everybody's
mind is whether Adamkus, a member of the Lithuanian Diaspora most of his
adult life, understands the everyday problems and aspirations of his
        In a speech to the nation following his inauguration, Adamkus
called for an Act of Concord among the political forces in the country,
which, he suggested, would diminish the public hostilities and antagonisms
permeating public debate in Lithuania and sometimes paralyzing government
decision-making. He pledged to establish an "ethic of government service"
that would encourage the transformation of petty bureaucrats into public
servants.  And he urged a renewed effort to invigorate the reform process
throughout Lithuanian society.  "The road that leads to the EU and NATO
membership starts in Vilnius.  I emphasize, in Vilnius and not in the
capitals of Western Europe," he argued.
        The slim election margin puts a political burden on Adamkus to
implement those goals.  The limits of the constitutional authority of the
president's office are still largely undefined, but at the request of the
government, the Constitutional Court recently ruled on the question of
whether the government must resign when a  new president takes office. In a
detailed 17-page document, the court ruled that Lithuania is a
parliamentary democracy, not a presidential one, and that although the
government must return its mandate, the president must first submit the
name of the current prime minister to a vote of confidence before he can
propose other candidates for the parliament to consider and confirm.
        Adamkus, who had campaigned for strengthening the powers of the
president, has expressed disappointment over the court's ruling.  In the
last year of his presidency, Brazauskas rarely challenged the decisions of
the parliament and government, which was firmly in the hands of the reform
parties, not his own Democratic Labor Party.
        As a former U.S. citizen, Adamkus is schooled in a political system
that has a powerful executive in the office of the president. During his
campaign, Adamkus often spoke of his desire to be a serious player in the
government's decision-making process. But what tools will President Adamkus
choose to exercise an influence over government policy?  He may turn to the
U.S. tradition of  the "bully pulpit" to complement his efforts to expand
his influence in the legislative process.  Modern-day U.S. presidents  have
used the powerful medium of television to focus the public's attention on
an issue and to craft the terms of the public debate.  But this will work
in Lithuania only if  the new president thoroughly understands the
historical and cultural context of his audience--namely, the people of

The author is a public affairs specialist at RFE/RL's Washington office.

               Copyright (c) 1998 RFE/RL, Inc.
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