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RFE/RL NEWSLINE

RFE/RL NEWSLINE Vol 2, No. 63 Part II, 1 April 1998


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RFE/RL NEWSLINE Vol 2, No. 63  Part II, 1 April 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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RUSSIAN MEDIA EMPIRES II
Businessmen, government leaders, politicians, and financial companies
continue to reshape Russia's media landscape. This update of a September
report identifies the players and their media holdings via charts, tables
and articles.
http://www.rferl.org/nca/special/rumedia2/index.html

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Headlines, Part II

* UKRAINE'S COMMUNISTS EMERGE AS ELECTION WINNERS

* UN VOTES ARMS EMBARGO ON BELGRADE

* MONTENEGRO WANTS INTERNATIONAL ROLE IN KOSOVO

End Note: THE DEMISE OF TURKISH COFFEE?

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EAST-CENTRAL EUROPE

UKRAINE'S COMMUNISTS EMERGE AS ELECTION WINNERS. The Communist Party of
Ukraine and its left-wing allies will form the biggest bloc in the new
parliament, AFP reported on 1 April. The Supreme Council is to consist of
225 deputies with party-list mandates and another 225 with single mandates.
With 99 percent of the vote for party-list mandates counted, the Communists
won 84 seats, the Socialist/Peasants' Bloc 29, and the Progressive
Socialist Party 14. Following the count of 83.5 percent of ballots for
single-mandate seats, the Communists had gained 37 seats and the other
left-wing parties 10, according to the Central Electoral Commission. JM

OTHER ELECTION RESULTS. The nationalist Rukh party won 32 party-list
mandates, the Greens 19, the Popular Democratic Party, led by Prime
Minister Valery Pustovoytenko, 17, the Hromada party, headed by former
Premier Pavlo Lazarenko, 16, and the United Social Democrats, led by former
President Leonid Kravchuk, 14. Independent candidates took 114
single-mandate seats in the legislature. The Central Electoral Commission
reported that turnout was 69.6 percent. JM

KUCHMA VOWS TO CONTINUE REFORMS DESPITE COMMUNIST VICTORY. Ukrainian
President Leonid Kuchma has pledged to continue with the country's reform
program, despite large gains by the Communists and their left-wing allies,
AFP reported on 31 March. He commented that "despite the election results
there will be no going back. Ukraine will pursue its reformist policy while
cooperating with the parliament." But he also admitted that the results
would be "a cold shower for some politicians." JM

ESTONIA'S COALITION PARTY CONTINUES TO LOOK FOR PARTNERS. The Coalition
Party is to continue talks with the Reform Party over extending the ruling
coalition, despite the fact that the Rural Union--the junior member of the
coalition--opposes the inclusion of the Reformists, ETA reported on 1
April. "Just as the Rural Union cannot give up a social market economy, so
the Reform Party cannot abandon a liberal market economy," Rural Union
Chairman Arvo Sirendi told BNS. The Pensioners and the Families Party,
which is also a member of the coalition, has likewise rejected including
the Reformists. Prime Minister Mart Siimann said on 31 March that if the
Reform Party does not accept the invitation to join the minority
government, he will call early elections. The Reform Party left the
Coalition Party-led government at the end of 1996 over a cooperation
agreement that the Coalition Party concluded with the Center Party. JC

LATVIAN PRESIDENT SPEAKS OUT ON WAFFEN SS VETERANS PARADE. Guntis Ulmanis
on 31 March issued a statement seeking to quell criticism over the parade
in Riga earlier this month by veterans of the Latvian Waffen SS Legion (see
"RFE/RL Newsline," 17 March 1998), BNS and Reuters reported. The legion was
part of Latvia's "tragic past," Ulmanis said, adding that international
society cannot be reproached for not being informed about "details of our
history" and for not understanding "the complicated situation at that time
in Latvia." But the president strongly criticized "senior officials" who
attended the rally and other commemorative events. "Independent Latvia has
no links with totalitarian occupying regimes, so the president believes the
participation of [those] senior officals...contradicts Latvia's chosen path
of forming a democratic European state." No government officals took part
in the parade, but army commander Juris Dalbins and parliamentary speaker
Alfreds Cepanis did. JC

CZECH REPUBLIC ADMITS PROBLEMS ADJUSTING TO EU STANDARDS. Czech Foreign
Minister Jaroslav Sedivy acknowledged on 31 March that his country will
need extra time to meet some EU standards, an RFE/RL correspondent in
Brussels reported. Sedivy, who is attending EU accession talks, said the
Czech Republic needs a period of two to five years to upgrade
environmental, transport, and agricultural sectors to EU levels. Sedivy
added that the Czech Republic would tighten its eastern frontier when it
joins the EU. PB

CZECH PRESIDENT MEETS WITH DISSIDENTS. Vaclav Havel addressed some 1,000
former political prisoners in Prague on 31 March, CTK reported. He told the
dissidents that they should always speak about their sufferings under the
Communists so that the following generations do not take freedom for
granted. Stanislav Drobny, the chairman of the Confederation of Political
Prisoners, praised the speech but said more should be done by the state to
bring former Communist repressors to justice. Havel, a former dissident
himself, was criticized by some for not attending a reunion of former
political prisoners last month. The president had cited health reasons for
his absence. PB

RATING AGENCY LOWERS SLOVAKIA'S GRADE. Moody's Investors Service said on 31
March that it has lowered its rating for Slovakia from level Baa3 to Ba1,
TASR reported. The reduction lowers the evaluation of all Slovak National
Bank bonds that have been sold on foreign financial markets. TASR did not
report the reason for the lowered rating, but observers believe the
political situation in the country was a factor. PB

SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE

UN VOTES ARMS EMBARGO ON BELGRADE. The UN Security Council on 31 March
voted 14 to zero with China abstaining to place an arms embargo on
President Slobodan Milosevic's Yugoslavia until his government launches
unconditional talks with Kosovar representatives on the province's
political status. Resolution 1160 "expresses support for an enhanced status
for Kosovo that would include a substantially greater degree of autonomy
and meaningful self-administration." The council also "calls upon the
Kosovar Albanian leadership to condemn all terrorist action." Russian
delegate Yurii Fedotov said his country's decision to back the measure was
"extremely difficult for Russia." U.S. Ambassador Bill Richardson said that
"the international community will not tolerate violence and ethnic
cleansing in the region of the former Yugoslavia. We must avoid the
mistakes of the past, when the international community waited too long
before taking decisive action." PM

MONTENEGRO WANTS INTERNATIONAL ROLE IN KOSOVO. Montenegrin President Milo
Djukanovic told a French parliamentary delegation in Podgorica on 31 March
that international "assistance is necessary for promoting a dialogue and
defining the solution that would be acceptable for all sides involved." He
added that "the only acceptable solution for Kosovo is the one that defines
its status within the borders of Serbia and Yugoslavia." Djukanovic
stressed that a further escalation of the [Kosovo] problem will undoubtedly
lead to its spreading [throughout] the whole region." Belgrade's rejects
international involvement in the Kosovo question on the grounds that the
province's political status is a purely internal matter. Meanwhile in the
Serbian capital, the government called on Kosovar leaders to take part in
talks on 7 April in Pristina. The statement added that the situation in
Kosovo is becoming calmer and praised the police "for successfully carrying
out their functions," RFE/RL reported. PM

GREECE SEEKS EUROPEAN, NOT U.S., INVOLVEMENT. Karolos Papoulias, who heads
the Greek parliament's Foreign Relations Committee, said in Tirana on 31
March that Kosovo is a European problem. He added that "it would be painful
to see that the EU was powerless to intervene [to solve] its own [European]
problem," as was the case in Bosnia. Papoulias stressed "that Europe's
language is much more understandable for the sides in the conflict than the
U.S. language, which is the language of force." PM

ALBANIAN PREMIER FAVORS AUTONOMY FOR KOSOVO. Fatos Nano told the
parliament's Foreign Relations Committee on 31 March that the government
urges Belgrade to grant Kosovo broad autonomy, "Koha Jone" reported. He
added that the government hopes the Contact Group will take tough measures
against Belgrade if Milosevic does not comply with the international
community's latest demands (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 26 March 1998). The
Republican Party's Sabri Godo, who heads the committee, demanded that the
government call on NATO "to intervene in Kosovo in order to prevent
violence," "Shekulli" reported. The alliance had turned down Tirana's
previous request for NATO troops to patrol its own border with Yugoslavia
(see "RFE/RL Newsline," 12 March 1998). FS

UCK RETURNING IN FORCE? Armed and often uniformed soldiers of the Kosovo
Liberation Army (UCK) have "suddenly" appeared in large numbers around
several towns in Kosovo, Reuters reported from Djakovica on 31 March. The
agency added that "finding a uniformed [UCK] member with a Kalashnikov
assault rifle and a tactical radio is no more difficult than driving to an
area known for its separatist tendencies and pulling off the main road. If
you don't find the [UCK], they soon find you." PM

SERBS PROTEST RETURN OF ALBANIAN INSTITUTE. Serbian students and faculty
left the premises of the Albanian Studies Institute in Pristina on 31
March, taking furniture and files with them. They left behind posters
protesting the recent agreement between Belgrade and the Kosovar
leadership, which restores Albanian-language education in government school
buildings in stages between 31 March and 30 June (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 24
March 1998). The institute, which the Serbian authorities in the 1980s
regarded as a center of Albanian nationalism, is the first building to be
returned to Albanian students and faculty. Serbian student spokesmen said
they fear that ethnic Albanians will dominate Pristina University as a
result of the agreement and that Serbs will have no future there. PM

CROATIA APPROVES REFUGEE PLAN. The government has agreed on a package of
measures aimed at facilitating the return of refugees to their former homes
in Croatia, an RFE/RL correspondent reported from Zagreb on 31 March .
Croatian diplomatic missions abroad will start issuing travel documents to
refugees to enable them to travel to Croatia. This measure ends a catch-22
situation: refugees previously had to go to Croatia to pick up their
documents but could not cross the border without those very documents. The
government announced in a statement that 24,000 refugees in Yugoslavia and
3,500 in the Republika Srpska want to go home and that Zagreb has signed
agreements with Belgrade and Banja Luka dealing with the two-way return of
refugees. The government also said that it has asked Belgrade for
permission to open consulates in Subotica and Kotor. PM

BOSNIAN MUSLIM HOMES ATTACKED. International police spokesmen said in
Mostar on 31 March that nine homes belonging to Muslims were mined,
destroyed, or burned down from 26-28 March in the Croatian-controlled town
of Stolac. In recent weeks, representatives of the international community
sacked the town's mayor and police chief on the grounds that they
encouraged attacks on Muslims and their property. PM

MONTENEGRO OFFERS BOSNIA PORT. Jusuf Kalomperovic, who is Montenegro's
minister for shipping and communications, told Bosnian Co-Prime Minister
Haris Silajdzic in Sarajevo on 31 March that Montenegro will allow Bosnia
to use the port of Bar. Bosnia and Croatia have been arguing for years over
Bosnia's continued use of the Croatian port of Ploce, which is Bosnia's
natural outlet to the sea. Meanwhile in Bari, Italy, police spokesmen said
on 1 April that they have arrested Vaso Baosic, the police chief of Bar, on
the suspicion that he is sheltering Italian Mafiosi in Bar. PM

MONTENEGRO'S ALBANIANS GET FIRST MAGAZINE. Mustafa Canka of the Liberal
Alliance party launched the publication in Ulcinj on 31 March of the
bi-monthly news magazine "Liberal," which is Montenegro's first
Albanian-language magazine. Some 45,000 of Montenegro's 630,000 people are
ethnic Albanians, who live primarily in the southwestern border region with
Albania. PM

GREECE EXPELS THOUSANDS OF ALBANIANS. Greek police have expelled some 3,000
Albanian illegal immigrants during the past week, "Koha Jone" reported on 1
April. The newspaper adds that the expulsions are part of an apparently
country-wide campaign that started in mid-March and has affected more than
5,000 people. The maximum number of returning Albanians on a single day at
the Kakavia border crossing reached 800 on 31 March. FS

PARTY LEADERS MEET WITH ROMANIAN PRESIDENT. The leaders of several
political parties held talks with Emil Constantinescu on 31 March to
discuss the formation of a new government, Rompres reported. It was agreed
at the talks that the premier-designate will meet with representatives from
the coalition parties to discuss forming the new cabinet. It was also
agreed that Petre Roman's Democratic Party should rejoin the governing
coalition. The other participants in the talks with Constantinescu were Ion
Diaconescu (National Peasant Party Christian Democracy), Mircea
Ionescu-Quintus (National Liberal Party), Varujan Vosganian (Romanian
Alternative Party), Sergiu Cunescu (Social Democratic Party), Bella Marko
(Hungarian Democratic Federation of Romania), and former President Ion
Iliescu (Party of Social Democracy in Romania). Arguing that forming a new
coalition government will not solve the country's problems, Ionescu called
for fresh elections to be held. PB

ROMANIAN MEDIA DISCUSSES POTENTIAL PREMIERS. Four people have been named in
the press as potential candidates to replace Victor Ciorbea, who resigned
on 30 March. Newspapers named economist Radu Vasile and Economy Minister
Mircea Ciumara, both members of the National Peasant Party Christian
Democracy, as favorites. National Bank Governor Mugur Isarescu and Sorin
Dimitriu, the head of the state privatization agency, are also considered
possible candidates. Financial markets and the national currency have
remained stable in the wake of Ciorbea's resignation. Meanwhile, Bucharest
Deputy Mayor Viorel Lis said on 31 March that a mayoral election could be
held as early as this summer to find a successor to Ciorbea, who also
resigned his mayorship. PB

MOLDOVAN PRIME MINISTER SAYS ECONOMY IMPROVING. Ion Ciubuc told trade union
leaders that an increase in industrial output could be the cornerstone of
economic improvements this year, Infotag reported on 31 March. Ciubuc told
leaders from the Moldovan Trade Union Federation that industrial output
from January to March was 6-7 percent higher than the previous year. He
said this could create a solid base for an improved economy in 1998. Ciubuc
also said the government is preparing an economic package that will aim to
pay pension and social payment arrears, which, he said, have reached 500
million lei ($10,593). PB

THE DEMISE OF TURKISH COFFEE?

by Patrick Moore with Lowell Bezanis, Liz Fuller, and Fabian Schmidt

	Turkish coffee, once an integral part of daily life throughout the
former Ottoman Empire, is rapidly disappearing from many tables across the
region. The arrival of Italian espresso machines in recent years has begun
to transform a key element of popular culture in countries ranging from the
former Yugoslavia to the republics of the Transcaucasus.
	One of the great culinary joys of visiting the Balkans for many
foreign travelers has long been--together with grilled and roasted meats,
baked peppers, and salty sheep's cheese--the once ubiquitous Turkish
coffee. The drink is made by placing fine, powdered coffee into a brass or
copper pot called a "dzezva" in Serbo-Croatian. Boiling water is added, and
the mixture is boiled up. The technique is to repeatedly allow the brew to
boil, sink back down, and then boil again. The product, which some say
should take at least 15 minutes to prepare, is then poured from the dzezva
into small round cups without handles, known in Serbo-Croat as "fildzani."
It is served with a glass of water to offset the sweetness of the drink and
to wash down the inevitable coffee grounds.
	In Bosnia, some say there is an ethnic dimension to preparing the
coffee. Serbs, like Albanians and Greeks, mix sugar into the ground coffee
and cook the sugar as part of the brew. Croats prefer to add sugar at the
table, as is the custom in drinking all kinds of coffee in Central Europe.
Muslims, for their part, generally sip the coffee with a piece of Turkish
delight, or "lokum," placed in their mouths.
	However it is prepared, Turkish coffee has a social dimension that
is unmistakably linked to the traditional, unhurried pace of life
throughout the former Ottoman Empire. Serbs sometimes joke that the
standard student breakfast consists of Turkish coffee, two cigarettes, and
a copy of the thick Belgrade daily "Politika." Business throughout the
Balkans is done and social ties cultivated over slowly sipped cups of the
thick liquid that a Western writer once described as "black as night and
sweet as sin."
	All this, however, seems to be changing. Already in the 1970s, more
expensive hotels and coffee shops in Croatia and Slovenia began phasing out
Turkish coffee in favor of Italian espresso. The bulwark of traditional
coffee culture in much of the former Yugoslavia remained the local coffee
house, in which men in dark berets would sit amid clouds of smoke under the
watchful gaze of a black-and-white photograph of Marshal Josip Broz Tito.
But such coffee houses are rapidly disappearing in favor of chic, modern
establishments with Western-type furnishings.
	There are two reasons for the change. First, once a cafe owner has
made the basic investment of buying an espresso machine, he or she faces a
far less labor-intensive operation in serving up Italian coffee all day
long than is the case in preparing its Turkish counterpart. Second, many
people in the region--especially those who are young and/or wish to project
the image of being cosmopolitan or upwardly mobile--regard drinking
espresso as stylish and modern. Such people also regard sipping Turkish
coffee as something for old men sitting under the Tito picture.
	Consequently, throughout much of the Balkans, one must now go to a
large restaurant, traditional coffee house, or private home to find a
dzezva full of the steaming, potent black brew. One cafe-owner in the
Albanian town of Kruja tries to steer a middle path between coffee cultures
by shooting boiling water from an Italian machine into each waiting dzezva
and then continuing the Turkish coffee-brewing procedure in the traditional
way.
	But the pattern of change in coffee-drinking habits varies from
place to place. It takes skill to find Turkish coffee in central Sofia,
Bulgaria, where fildzani seem to have disappeared altogether in favor of
cups with handles. Greeks, however, religiously continue to drink their
traditional brew--possibly more so per capita than their Turkish
counterparts--but have dubbed it "Greek coffee," at least since 1974, when
Turkey intervened on Cyprus.
	In Turkey, locally grown tea replaced highly taxed coffee decades
ago as the beverage over which political and economic deals are negotiated.
Last year, the "Turkish Daily News" bewailed the fact that, on the
occasions when Turks do still drink coffee, they increasingly choose the
instantly soluble, rather than the traditionally brewed variety.
	East of the Black Sea, so-called "oriental coffee" is widely
available in Tbilisi cafes. And the art of predicting the future by
deciphering the coffee grounds is still practiced there. But the real last
bastion of oriental coffee may well be Armenia, where it is offered at all
official meetings and where a wide selection of traditional brass coffee
mills is available at Yerevan's weekend flea market.

Lowell Bezanis is a Washington-based specialist on Turkey and Central Asia.

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