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. 61 Part II, 30 March 1998


___________________________________________________________
RFE/RL NEWSLINE Vol 2, No. 61 Part II, 30 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: http://www.rferl.org/newsline

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EUROPEAN UNION: EMBRACING ENLARGEMENT AND
ECONOMIC UNION The EU takes two important steps this month toward
implementing a unified currency and enlarging to include Central and
Eastern European countries. These articles describe recent developments
and describe the current economic status of four European countries.
http://www.rferl.org/nca/special/eumarch98/index.html

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Headlines, Part II

* COMMUNIST PARTY LEADS IN UKRAINIAN ELECTIONS

* UCK OFFERS SERBS A CHOICE

* BELGRADE RAPS FOREIGN MEDIA

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EAST-CENTRAL EUROPE

COMMUNIST PARTY LEADS IN UKRAINIAN ELECTIONS.
Preliminary returns from Kyiv show the Communist Party leading in the 29
March general and local elections. With between 20 and 40 percent of the
vote counted, Central Election Commission Chairman Mykhaylo Ryabets
projected that as many as eight parties would overcome the 4 percent
threshold to enter parliament. Both the commission and two polling
organizations predicted that the Communist Party will win some 25 percent
of the votes. Ryabets said it appears that more than 50 percent of registered
voters participated in the election, with turnout largest in the western
part of
the country. Half of the 450 seats in the unicameral parliament will be
directly elected, the other half apportioned to parties and blocs. PB

NO SERIOUS VOTING IRREGULARITIES, ONLY MILD
CRIMEAN PROTESTS. International observers monitoring the elections
reported no serious violations, Reuters reported. Central Election
Commission Chairman Mykhaylo Ryabets said some 400 monitors from 38
countries had observed the election throughout the country. Alain Chenard,
the head of the Council of Europe's monitoring team, said "everything went
more or less smoothly." Ukrainian television reported an arson attack at a
polling station in western Ukraine. ITAR-TASS reported that voting took
place without any major incidents in Crimea, but there were some peaceful
protests by disenfranchised Tatars. Crimean Tatar leaders had called for a
boycott of the election by those Tatars eligible to vote. PB

KUCHMA PLEDGES COOPERATION. Conceding that left-wing
parties fared well in the election, Ukrainian President Leonid Kuchma said
on 29 March that his government will do everything possible to work with
the new parliament, Reuters reported. Kuchma said the previous day that his
government had laid the foundation for economic growth, and he urged
voters not to back "extremism." Oleksandr Moroz, the parliamentary
speaker of the current parliament, said, however, that Kuchma's policies are
at a "dead end." Former President Leonid Kravchuk, one of the leaders of
the centrist Social Democratic Party, said the "people are voting against the
economic situation in this country." PB

BELARUSIAN OPPOSITION ACTIVIST SENTENCED. Vadim Kabanchuk was given a three-
year suspended sentence for hooliganism on 27 March, Reuters reported.
Kabanchuk had served six months in jail since his detention last fall for
staging protests and resisting arrest. Kabanchuk said he will remain active
in Belarusian "political life." He also remarked that conditions in the
detention center violated human rights, saying he shared a cell with 32
others and was denied medical aid. PB

BELARUSIAN OPPOSITION LEADER IN WASHINGTON. U.S.
Deputy Secretary of State Strobe Talbott expressed strong support for
human rights in Belarus during a meeting with opposition leader and former
Deputy Prime Minister Andrei Sannykov, an RFE/RL correspondent in
Washington reported on 28 March. Talbott also praised the Charter '97
group, which aims to draw attention to human rights violations in Belarus.
Sannykov is the international coordinator for Charter '97, which has been
signed by more than 70,000 people since it was founded last November.
Sannykov said the situation in Belarus is regressing and that the number of
people subjected to persecution is growing. Sannykov also met with several
members of Congress. PB

ESTONIAN RULING COALITION OPEN TO VIRTUALLY ALL
PARTIES? ETA reported on 29 March that during talks over the weekend,
the minority ruling coalition showed willingness to include virtually all
opposition parties in the government. So far, an official offer has been made
only to the Reform Party, the largest opposition group. Reform Party
chairman Siim Kallas said he is not prepared to accept the offer
immediately but will discuss it again at talks scheduled for 31 March. The
Farmers' Party, one of whose leaders is Foreign Minister Toomas Hendrik
Ilves, declined the government's invitation to join talks on enlarging the
coalition. The party said it is prepared to take part in the government
through Foreign Ilves but that it will not ally itself with either the ruling
coalition or the opposition. JC

LATVIAN PREMIER DENIES COALITION UNSTABLE. Guntars
Krasts on 27 March denied that his six-party coalition is unstable but
acknowledged that rumors on the matter are constantly circulating, BNS
and Reuters reported. Krasts told journalists he is concerned that calls in
the
parliament for more public spending could threaten the balanced budget
ahead of the October general elections. Earlier this month, Krasts failed in
his bid to have the parliament hold a vote of confidence in his government
(see "RFE/RL Newsline," 3 March 1998). JC

GERMAN MINORITY OPPOSES ADMINISTRATIVE REFORM IN
POLAND. An ethnic German organization in Poland says that a plan to
consolidate the provinces discriminates against the country's German
minority, PAP reported on 28 March. The Social-Cultural Association of
Germans are protesting the government plan to reduce Poland's 49
provinces to 12, which, the association says, continues "the communist-style
forced assimilation of our national group." Some 250,000 ethnic Germans
live in Poland. PB

MALTA PROTESTS TO CZECH GOVERNMENT OVER HOTEL
CONTROVERSY. Maltese Prime Minister Alfred Sant on 29 March
described as "unacceptable" the Czech government's announcement that it is
considering legal action against the Malta-based Corinthia Hotels Group for
purchasing hotels in Prague and elsewhere in the Czech Republic, Reuters
reported. Sant said his government has sent a protest note to Prague about
what he called the "false reports" that Corinthia Hotels is Libyan-owned. He
stressed that the majority of the chain's share holding is Maltese-owned. The
U.S. State Department last week warned U.S. citizens that if they stayed in
hotels owned by the Corinthia Group, they would be in violation of U.S.
laws banning trade with Libya. MS

MECIAR'S PARTY NAMES PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE. The
Movement for a Democratic Slovakia (HZDS) on 28 March unexpectedly
announced it has selected Milan Secansky as its candidate for the president
in the vote scheduled to take place on 16 April, AFP reported. It is doubtful
whether Secansky, a parliamentary deputy, can garner the three-fifths
majority required for the election of a president. The 16 April round will be
the fifth attempt to select a successor to Michal Kovac, whose mandate
ended in early March. It will also be the first time that the HZDS will run
its
own candidate. A public opinion poll released on 29 March by the TASR
official news agency shows that 52 percent of Slovaks are opposed to
Meciar's running for president and that only some 20 percent support his
candidacy. MS

SLOVAK HUNGARIANS TO RUN ON UNITED LIST? The three
main parties that represent the Hungarian minority in Slovakia are
considering joining forces ahead of the September elections, AFP reported
on 28 March. The Federate Hungarian Party would include the present
Movement of Hungarian Christian-Democrats, the Egyutteles movement,
and the Hungarian Civic Party. If the three parties run as a united formation,
rather than as a coalition of parties, they would need to pass a five percent
threshold rather than a 15 percent one ( five percent for each member of the
alliance). Such thresholds are envisaged in the amended election law that
has already passed in the first reading in the parliament. MS

HUNGARIAN OPPOSITION PARTY COMPLETES NATIONAL
LIST. Tamas Sepsey, the chairman of the Hungarian Democratic Forum's
(MDF) national board, announced on 28 March that the party has finalized
its national list for the May general elections. The list is headed by party
chairman Sandor Lezsak. The MDF board has also amended the statutes of
the party to allow the inclusion of Imre Pozsgay, a leading member of
Hungary's former communist party, on the MDF's national list. MSZ

REGIONAL AFFAIRS

LUZHKOV CLAIMS LATVIA COMMITTING 'GENOCIDE'
AGAINST RUSSIAN-SPEAKERS. Moscow Mayor Yurii Luzhkov on 28
March accused the Latvian authorities of "pursuing a consistent policy of
genocide" against the Russian-speaking population, Russian news agencies
reported. During a picket of the Latvian embassy in Moscow, Luzhkov told
journalists that he favors "all possible measures...except force" to protect
Russian-speakers in Latvia, who, he said, are "not just second-rate citizens"
but "have practically been turned into slaves." He compared Riga's policies
to events in Cambodia during Pol Pot's rule. The Moscow mayor has
recently become one of the most outspoken Russian critics of the Latvian
authorities (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 27 March 1998). He expressed
concern about the treatment of Russian-speakers in Latvia during meetings
with acting Russian Prime Minister Sergei Kirienko and UN Secretary-
General Kofi Annan on 25 and 29 March, respectively. LB

CHIRAC DOES NOT OPPOSE BALTIC MEMBERSHIP IN NATO.
Counselor Didier La Bret of the French Embassy in Vilnius denied on 27
March that during the so-called "troika" summit on the outskirts of Moscow
the previous day, French President Jacques Chirac expressed opposition to
the expansion of NATO to include the Baltic States (see "RFE/RL
Newsline," 27 March 1998). Russian news agencies had quoted Russian
presidential spokesman Sergei Yastrzhembskii as saying Chirac "made it
clear" during a discussion of recent events in Latvia that France opposes the
admission to the alliance of all three Baltic States. La Bret said the Russian
accounts are "absolutely wrong" and that France believes "NATO's doors
should remain open to all those desiring to join," BNS reported. Similar
denials were issued by the French embassies in Riga and Tallinn (see also
"End Note" below). JC

SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE

UCK OFFERS SERBS CHOICE. A spokesman for the Kosovo
Liberation Army (UCK) told Reuters on 30 March that a peaceful solution
is still possible to the Kosovo question provided that Serbian forces leave
the province immediately and the Serbian authorities launch talks with the
Kosovars. The spokesman added: "We have always favored independence
through negotiation but in recent years we started to fight because nothing
was changing in our situation and there were no meaningful talks. It's up to
the Serbs whether we fight or talk. If they want to negotiate they must first
withdraw their police and other forces. We won't walk away from
negotiations, but we won't lay down our weapons either." The spokesman
stressed that the Serbs "have already lost the war" because the UCK's
morale is higher than that of the Serbian paramilitary police. PM

THIRD ETHNIC ALBANIAN DIES FOLLOWING LATEST
FIGHTING. Spokesmen for the leading Democratic League of Kosovo
(LDK) said in Pristina on 29 March that a third ethnic Albanian has died of
wounds he received in last week's fighting in the Djakovica-Decani area.
The authorities said on 24 March that one Serbian policeman died as well
(see "RFE/RL Newsline," 25 March 1998). PM

BELGRADE RAPS FOREIGN MEDIA. Yugoslav Information Minister
Goran Matic said in Belgrade on 29 March that the VOA, CNN, the BBC,
Deutsche Welle, "and others" have "massacred the truth in Kosovo" through
their reporting on the ongoing Serbian crackdown. He said that domestic
Yugoslav radio stations that rebroadcast the foreign stations' reports are
guilty of "subversion" and of being "a Fifth Column." Referring to unnamed
foreign journalists who have reported on the UCK, Matic added that "our
state must establish a clear relationship [with] certain foreign journalists
that are in contact with Albanian armed terrorist groups." In Washington, the
VOA's Croatian Service denied the charges in its morning broadcast on 30
March. The VOA said it is committed to accurate and objective reporting.
PM

BULGARIA WARNS ABOUT SITUATION IN KOSOVO. Foreign
Minister Nadezhda Mihailova said in Belgrade on 28 March that Kosovo
cannot be considered a purely internal affair of Yugoslavia, as the Yugoslav
authorities maintain. She stressed that a large number of countries have
become involved in finding a solution to the Kosovo question. Mihailova
added that Yugoslavia's neighbors fear that events in Kosovo could lead to
problems in their own countries and that consequently "Kosovo could
become an internal affair of the neighboring countries," RFE/RL reported.
PM

MONTENEGRO SLAMS MILOSEVIC... Montenegrin Prime Minister
Filip Vujanovic said in Podgorica on 29 March that Yugoslav President
Slobodan Milosevic had been both rude and politically unwise in refusing to
meet with U.S. special envoy Robert Gelbard two days earlier (see
"RFE/RL Newsline," 27 March 1998). Vujanovic stated: "If you want to
talk to the international community, you don't refuse to receive the emissary
of the president of the United States.... We must respect the emissaries of
those who have the political and economic power. It is an elementary
obligation toward citizens and the economy whose fate depends on what
emerges from dialogue with these envoys, and above all it's a question of
elementary political decency." PM

...AS DOES ALBANIA. Prime Minister Fatos Nano told a cabinet meeting
on 28 March that through his handling of the Kosovo question, Milosevic
"has lost a chance to join the civilized world." Nano added that he is
optimistic that the efforts of the international community will prevent
Kosovo from experiencing the open warfare that Bosnia did. Earlier in
Bonn, the prime minister told "Nasa Borba" of 30 March that Kosovo
should have the same rights within the Yugoslav federation as Montenegro
does. Nano stressed that Kosovo should not have the right to secede from
Yugoslavia but that it should be able to "open up to and integrate with
countries in the region." PM

NATO SENDS EXPERTS TO ALBANIA. A NATO spokesman said in
Brussels on 27 March that the alliance will send eight teams of border
monitoring experts to Albania over the next two months. The decision
follows a recent request by the Albanian government for NATO support in
guarding its border with Kosovo (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 12 March 1998).
Each team will consist of seven people, including both civilian and military
personnel. The first team is scheduled to arrive this week. The official
added that NATO will "consider additional activities in the next months to
help Albania." NATO has ruled out sending ground troops to help patrol the
border. FS

ALBANIAN PRIME MINISTER TO STREAMLINE
GOVERNMENT. Fatos Nano told a government meeting on 28 March
said that he will soon announce measures to streamline the government.
Pandeli Majko, the leader of the Socialist Party's parliamentary faction,
recently requested such a move. Nano called on the current coalition parties
to take part in negotiations on the composition of a new, smaller cabinet,
"Gazeta Shqiptare" reported. FS

CROATIAN SERBS WARN TUDJMAN. Speaking in Zagreb on 30
March, Deputy Prime Minister Ljerka Mintas-Hodak said countries that
want Croatia to expedite the return of Serbian refugees should help pay for
it. She argued that it is unfair for donor countries to make aid dependent on
the successful return of refugees. She asked that aid be given outright,
before the returns are completed. Speaking in Vukovar on 29 March,
Gelbard warned Croatia that it must enable more Serbs to return in safety if
it expects economic and political support from the international community.
And in Zagreb, ethnic Serbian leaders Milorad Pupovac and Vladimir
Stanimirovic said they will withdraw from the joint commission aimed at
confidence-building if President Franjo Tudjman does not take concrete
measures by 15 March to ensure the return of more Serbian refugees, an
RFE/RL correspondent reported from the Croatian capital. PM

CIORBEA'S DEPARTURE--NOT IF, BUT WHEN. The Bureau of the
National Peasant Party Christian Democratic (PNTCD) on 27 March
empowered PNTCD leader Ion Diaconescu to start "immediate
negotiations" with "all coalition partners" to find a solution to the ongoing
political crisis. PNTCD Secretary-General Radu Vasile said the search for a
solution does not exclude" forming a new government." But also on 27
March, the Democratic Convention of Romania (CDR), said it wants the
draft 1998 budget to be submitted to the parliament by Victor Ciorbea's
cabinet. The CDR decided that if the National Liberal Party (PNL) congress
approves the resolution demanding the premier's replacement, such a move
would be viewed as a "PNL proposal to be discussed by the CDR."
Following that anouncement, Ciorbea withdrew his demand that the PNL
ministers resign. MS

LIBERALS APPROVE DEMAND FOR CIORBEA'S REPLACEMENT.
A PNL congress on 28 March approved the resolution adopted by the party's
bureau demanding that the cabinet be replaced before the budget is submitted
to the parliament. The congress also approved the merger of the PNL with
the Party of Civic Alliance (PAC) and elected former PAC chairman Nicolae
Manolescu as chairman of the PNL National Council. The following day,
the Democratic Party welcomed the PNL's decision, and the Hungarian
Democratic Federation of Romania's Executive Council said coalition members
must begin negotiations on forming a new cabinet immediately rather than
waiting for the passage of the 1998 budget. MS

INDEPENDENT CABINET MINISTERS WARN AGAINST
LINGERING CRISIS. In an open letter to Prime Minister Victor Ciorbea
on 28 March, the three non-party affiliated ministers in his cabinet warned
that the ongoing political crisis threatens to have "irreparable results."
Finance Minister Daniel Daianu, Reforms Minister Ilie Serbanescu, and
Foreign Minister Andrei Plesu said that structural problems are at the root
of the crisis, rather than "personalities, programs, or ideologies." They
added that there are "neither providential individuals nor miraculous
recipes" to solve the crisis, arguing that a solution requires "firm and
consistent measures" rather than the "populism, demagogy, and electoral
incitement" characterizing the current political discourse. MS

MOLDOVA'S DEMOCRATIC FORCES LEADER RULES OUT
COALITION WITH COMMUNISTS. Valeriu Matei on 27 March said
the "ideological and political barriers" that are dividing his Party of
Democratic Forces (PFD) and the Party of Moldovan Communists (PCM)
are "insurmountable" and that no coalition involving both those formation is
feasible. Matei was responding to PCM leader Vladimir Voronin's statement
the previous day that a coalition could be formed by the PCM, the pro-
presidential For a Democratic and Prosperous Moldova (PMPD) Bloc, and
"possibly the PFD." Matei said his party continues to opt for a coalition
with the PMPD and the Democratic Convention of Moldova, RFE/RL's
Chisinau bureau reported. MS

END NOTE

'BLANK SPOTS' AND 'GRAY ZONES'

by Paul Goble

	Boris Yeltsin's claim that he and the leaders of
France and Germany are in complete agreement about the
future of Europe has sent shock waves through the
countries situated in the zone between those three great
powers.
	Following an informal summit outside Moscow with
French President Jacques Chirac and German Chancellor
Helmut Kohl on 26 March, Yeltsin said the three leaders
had "agreed on all points. There are no 'blank spots.'" While
Yeltsin suggested that this accord pointed the way toward
a multipolar world--one in which no country would
suffer--many states lying between NATO and the EU in the
West and Russia in the East drew a different conclusion.
	The countries of this zone--sometimes called "gray"
because of its lack of a clear geopolitical definition--
have suffered when Russia and the West have disagreed.
But they have also suffered when Russia and the West
have agreed--especially if the agreement is about them.
	This last kind of agreement appeared very much in
evidence at the so-called "troika" summit outside Moscow.
Following Yeltsin's claim of complete unanimity, Kohl
took the occasion to adopt a very hard line toward Latvia,
a country with which Moscow has been having difficulties.
	Condemning a recent march by veterans of the World
War II-era Latvian Waffen SS Legion, Kohl noted that the
EU would evaluate applicant countries according to their
human rights record and also according to their relations
with their neighbors. The Russian news agency ITAR-
TASS, which gave extensive coverage to Kohl's remarks,
quoted the French president that he fully agrees with the
German chancellor on this point.
	No one could fault any of the three leaders for being
concerned about the human rights records of countries
seeking to join Western institutions, but there are three
reasons why their comments at the Troika summit have
troubled some East Europeans.
	First, despite Yeltsin's claims, Kohl's comments, and
Chirac's apparent agreement, most international agencies
and observers have found Latvia to be in compliance with
the generally accepted human rights norms. Russian
claims to the contrary, including Moscow Mayor Yurii
Luzhkov's recent suggestion that the Russian government
should use all means "short of force" to defend the rights
of ethnic Russians in Latvia, are one thing. But German and
French acquiescence with these Russian claims are quite
another. Not surprisingly, the stance of Kohl and Chirac is
troubling to governments and peoples who remember
occasions in the past when Western leaders have deferred
to Russian demands with respect to their fate.
	Second, Kohl's assertion that the EU will evaluate
applicant countries in terms of the quality of their
relations with their neighbors enhances Moscow's ability
to influence not only Eastern Europe but Western Europe as
well. On the one hand, Moscow can use its power to define
the nature of these relationships as a threat to extract
concessions from its neighbors. If those countries do not
do what Russia wants, Moscow will say that relations are
bad and will limit their chances of entering the West. On
the other hand, by accepting this Russian claim, West
European countries like Germany and France are in effect
accepting the notion that Russia should have an effective
veto over just how far east Western institutions should be
allowed to move.
	And third, Kohl's remarks and Chirac's agreement
quickly led to reports that the three summit participants
have agreed that the Baltic States, as well as perhaps
other East European countries, should not be allowed to
join NATO. So widespread were such reports that ITAR-
TASS even queried Paris on them. An anonymous senior
official in the French President's Office said Chirac had
not taken a position on Baltic membership in NATO in
Moscow because those countries are not yet candidates.
	But if his words on that point were likely to be
reassuring to the Balts, another remark by this unnamed
French official seems likely to have an opposite and
broader effect. The official suggested that the Moscow
meeting demonstrated Paris has dropped its historical
policy of using "Russia as a counterweight against
Germany and vice versa." A belief that France was still
pursuing that approach has animated the foreign policies
of many countries in Eastern Europe, some of which
assumed that their best course is to play off France
against Germany and both of those countries against
Russia. But if this latest statement from Paris is correct,
then their hopes in this regard have been misplaced. And
they may now have to reassess their relations not only
with these three powers but with others as well.
	To the extent that happens, the "troika" summit may
prove to be a turning point, one in which the absence of
"blank spots" may lead to the darkening of a "gray zone."

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