A host is like general: calamities often reveal his genius. - Horace
RFE/RL NEWSLINE

RFE/RL NEWSLINE Vol 2, No. 64 Part II, 2 April 1998


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RFE/RL NEWSLINE Vol 2, No. 64  Part II, 2 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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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

* UKRAINIAN PARTIES CLAIM ELECTION FRAUD

* MONTENEGRO SLAMS MILOSEVIC FOR "COUP ATTEMPT"

* VASILE NAMED ROMANIAN PREMIER-DESIGNATE

End Note: ROMANIA'S CIORBEA STEPS DOWN

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EAST-CENTRAL EUROPE

UKRAINIAN PARTIES CLAIM ELECTION FRAUD. Several
political parties have accused the government of falsifying the
results of the 29 March elections, but those parties have
brought no evidence to support their charges, AFP reported on
1 April. "We are 100 percent certain that the results were
falsified," Dmytro Ponomarchuk of the Rukh party said. "Mass
falsifications were organized by the president and his
administration. They stole half our votes," Viktor Omelych of
the Hromada party commented. The Communists, who won the
elections, also claim they were deprived of some 20 percent of
their tally. But observers from the Organization for Security
and Cooperation in Europe say the elections took place "in a
peaceful manner" and were generally free and fair. JM

LEFTISTS TO DOMINATE UKRAINIAN PARLIAMENT. Leftist
parties will have 180 of 450 seats in the new Ukrainian
parliament, dpa reported on 1 April, citing preliminary results
announced by the Central Electoral Commission. Eight of the 30
parties competing in the elections have passed the 4 percent
threshold for parliamentary representation. The Communists
won 24.68 percent of the vote and can count on the support of
the Socialists/Peasants' Bloc (8.54 percent) and the
Progressive Socialists (4.04 percent). The Rukh party gained
9.4 percent of the vote, the Greens 5.46 percent, the Popular
Democratic Party 4.99 percent, the Hromada party 4.68
percent, and the United Social Democrats 4.02 percent. JM

KUCHMA DOES NOT INTEND TO CHANGE CABINET LINEUP.
Ukrainian President Leonid Kuchma told journalists in Kyiv
that the government lineup will remain largely the same,
Interfax reported on 1 April. Yevhen Kushnaryov, head of
Kuchma's administration, did not rule out the possibility that
the president and the government will hold consultations with
the new parliamentary factions on the composition of the
cabinet. He said the preliminary election results give no reason
to suggest that the new parliament will be opposed to Kuchma.
Kushnaryov also commented that, judging from statements by
political leaders, "there are signs of the formation of
temporary or permanent centrist or center-right coalitions in
the parliament." JM

UKRAINIAN FOREIGN MINISTER TO RESIGN? Hennadiy
Udovenko is to hand in his resignation of his own free will,
ITAR-TASS reported on 2 April, citing what it called a well-
informed source in the Ukrainian Foreign Ministry. But
Udovenko will continue to serve as chairman of the UN General
Assembly, the same source said. Udovenko has been elected as
a deputy of the Ukrainian parliament, and observers believe he
is being considered for the post of parliamentary speaker. JM

WORK GROUP TO REVISE LATVIAN CITIZENSHIP LAW. At
a meeting of the Cooperation Council on 1 April, the ruling
factions agreed to set up a work group to draft amendments to
the citizenship law, BNS reported. The work group has to
submit those amendments by 14 April; if it fails do so, the
ruling factions will be entitled to submit their own proposals
to the parliament. Janis Straume, the head of the Fatherland
and Freedom faction, which has strongly opposed any changes
to the law, said this approach will "stabilize the situation as
it is supported by all the ruling parties." He added that "it
provides an opportunity for constructive discussion."
Observers had predicted a government crisis had the ruling
parties failed to agree on this issue. JC

RIGA SYNAGOGUE DAMAGED IN BLAST. The synagogue in
the Latvian capital was damaged in a blast in the early hours
of 2 April, RFE/RL's Latvian Service reported. There were no
casualties, and so far no one has claimed responsibility. The
synagogue was built in 1906 and was the only one in Riga to
survive World War II. It was bombed in May 1995 but the
culprits were never found. JC

IGNALINA REACTOR SHUT DOWN. One of the two reactors at
Lithuania's Ignalina nuclear power plant was shut down on 1
April after a leak was detected in the reactor's cooling
system. A plant spokesman described the shutdown as
"unplanned maintenance" and said it would last about two
weeks. He said there was no increase in radioactivity due to
the leakage. The Ignalina plant, which uses the same kind of
Soviet-made reactors as does Ukraine's Chornobyl facility, is
widely regarded as one of
the world's most dangerous. JC

CZECH ENVIRONMENT MINISTER AGAINST NUCLEAR
POWER PLANT. Martin Bursik said his ministry is preparing a
study that should lead to a halt in construction of the
controversial Temelin nuclear power plant. Bursik said the
report will suggest alternatives for providing the energy that
would have been supplied by the Temelin facility. A hybrid of
both Soviet and Western designs, the plant is located just 50
kilometers from the Austrian border and Vienna has voiced
concerns about its existence. PB

MECIAR TOPS OPINION POLL. A poll taken by the Institute
for Public Affairs shows Prime Minister Vladimir Meciar is the
most trusted politician in Slovakia, RFE/RL's Slovak Service
reported. Of the respondents, 19.8 percent said they have faith
in Meciar, although 20.6 percent said they do not trust any
politicians. Slovak Democratic Coalition leader Mikulas
Dzurinda came in second with 14.8 and parliamentary chairman
Ivan Gasparovic was third with 12.1 percent, just ahead of
possible presidential candidate Rudolf Schuster (11.9 percent).
PB

SLOVAK PARLIAMENT PASSES RESOLUTION ON DANUBE
DAM. Slovak deputies on 1 April overwhelmingly approved a
resolution urging Hungary to comply with the International
Court of Justice verdict on the highly controversial Gabcikovo-
Nagymaros dam, TASR reported. The court had called on the
two countries to solve the dispute by 25 March. Bratislava
blamed Budapest for the countries' failure to reach an
agreement, saying it will return the case to the court if an
agreement is not reached by July. Slovakia completed its part
of the dam in 1993, but Hungary pulled out of the agreement--
first signed in 1977--and has refused to complete its portion.
Under the pressure of public opinion, Hungary has reneged on a
recent pledge to finish the dam. PB

CROATIAN FOREIGN MINISTER IN BUDAPEST. Mate Granic
said in the Hungarian capital on 1 April that Croatia supports
the return of ethnic Hungarians to eastern Slavonia. Granic and
his Hungarian counterpart, Laszlo Kovacs, agreed to jointly
rebuild Hungarian-inhabited villages in that region and to open
more border crossings. The foreign ministers also expressed
support for Hungarian and German involvement in mine
clearance in eastern Croatia to aid the resettlement of the
some 25,000 ethnic Hungarian refugees who fled the region
during the Yugoslav wars, Hungarian media reported. MSZ


SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE


MONTENEGRO SLAMS MILOSEVIC FOR "COUP ATTEMPT."
The Montenegrin parliament passed a resolution on 1 April
charging that outgoing President Momir Bulatovic tried to
stage a coup and retain power by calling out violent street
mobs in Podgorica early this year (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 15
January 1998). The text added that "the highest officials of the
federal government, including President...Slobodan Milosevic,
gave full assistance and [complete] support to the
demonstrators." The resolution praised government officials,
particularly employees of the Interior Ministry, for defeating
the coup attempt and saving numerous lives in the process,
BETA reported. PM

KOSOVARS WANT MONTENEGRINS AT TALKS. Leading
Kosovar spokesman Fehmi Agani said in Pristina on 1 April
that the Albanians want Yugoslav authorities, and not just
Serbian ones, to be included in Belgrade's delegation to any
talks on the future of Kosovo. Montenegrin leaders in recent
public statements have supported autonomy for Kosovo and the
inclusion of foreign mediators in any talks (see "RFE/RL
Newsline," 1 April 1998). The Montenegrins stress that Kosovo
belongs to Yugoslavia and rule out Kosovar independence.
Meanwhile in Paris, the daily "Le Monde" published an interview
with Yugoslav Foreign Minister Zivadin Jovanovic, who said
Belgrade is "ready for a dialogue without conditions but
sanctions must be put aside. It is clear that there cannot be a
solution based on a separatist agenda. There cannot be a
solution outside of Serbia. Serbia exists with Kosovo or not at
all." PM

BELGRADE SLAMS ARMS EMBARGO. The Yugoslav Foreign
Ministry issued a statement to the state news agency Tanjug
on 1 April calling the UN's arms embargo "baseless and
unacceptable" (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 1 April 1998). The text
repeated Belgrade's position that Kosovo is its own internal
affair and that "Albanian terrorists and separatists" are to
blame for the province's problems. Meanwhile in Moscow, a
Russian Foreign Ministry spokesman said Russia voted for the
arms embargo as "a preventive measure" and not to punish
Belgrade. And in Tirana, the Albanian Foreign Ministry said in a
statement that the embargo "limits the opportunities for the
exercise of police violence against the population of Kosovo
and encourages the political process and talks." PM

YUGOSLAVIA DEVALUES DINAR... The Yugoslav government,
on the advice of the Central Bank, agreed on 31 March to
devalue the dinar from 3.3 to six to the German mark. Tanjug
reported that the devaluation is part of a package of "measures
aimed at restoring a macro-economic balance and market
stability." Montenegrin Prime Minister Filip Vujanovic said in
Podgorica the next day that the Montenegrin government did
not agree to the devaluation, which he called "an unacceptable
fait accompli." He stressed that Podgorica wants a thorough
review of federal economic policies. The same day in Belgrade,
the mark sold on the black market for 6.5 dinars, an RFE/RL
correspondent reported from the Serbian capital. On 2 April,
the pro-government daily "Novosti" ran the headline: "There
will be no inflation." PM

...WHILE BOSNIAN SERBS ADOPT MARK. Prime Minister
Milorad Dodik said in Banja Luka on 1 April that the
government of the Republika Srpska has decided that the
German mark will replace the Yugoslav dinar as the legal
tender until the unified Bosnian currency, the convertible
mark, is introduced later this year. Dodik added that the
government is replacing the dinar as legal tender in order to
prevent the importation of inflation from Yugoslavia. PM

OSCE BLASTS CROATIAN REFUGEE RETURN POLICY. A
spokesman for the Organization for Security and Cooperation in
Europe said in Zagreb on 1 April that the Croatian government's
new program to facilitate the return of refugees is flawed
(see "RFE/RL Newsline," 1 April 1998). "The return is an
individual right and...cannot be made dependent on other
conditions, conditions to be mentioned in respect to housing,
or return of other individuals, or international assistance or
whatever." The following day, the pro-government daily
"Vecernji list" ran the headline: "Croatia opens the door to all
who left." PM

BELGRADE WANTS ZAGREB'S DIPLOMATIC HELP. Yugoslav
Ambassador Veljko Knezevic asked Croatian Parliamentary
speaker Vlatko Pavletic to help Belgrade gain admission to the
Council of Europe, "Vjesnik" reported on 1 April. Pavletic
replied that Croatian assistance will depend not only on the
development of bilateral relations but on internal political
developments in Yugoslavia. He singled out what he called the
"growing Seseljization" of Serbian political life, by which he
meant the growing influence of the ultranationalist Radical
Party of Deputy Prime Minister Vojislav Seselj. Unnamed
Croatian political leaders said Croatian support for Yugoslavia
is currently out of the question in view of the latest
developments in Kosovo, an RFE/RL correspondent reported
from Zagreb. PM

ALBANIAN PYRAMID CREDITORS CLASH WITH AUDITORS.
Some 100 investors in the VEFA pyramid company tried to
block chief government auditor Farudin Arapi and
representatives of the U.S. auditing firm Deloitte & Touche
from entering the VEFA building in Tirana on 1 April. The
auditors succeeded in entering the building only with police
assistance, "Gazeta Shqiptare" reported. Many investors oppose
the government's and auditors' plans to begin selling off parts
of the pyramids and demand that the U.S. firm leave Albania
(see "RFE/RL Newsline," 2 March 1998). Arapi told the
investors that this demand is "unacceptable." FS

LEADING ALBANIAN SOCIALIST CRITICIZES
GOVERNMENT. Dritero Agolli, who is a prominent writer and
leading member of the governing Socialist Party, said in Tirana
on 1 April that the government is not carrying out social and
economic reforms quickly or efficiently. He added that the
authorities are constantly making excuses for their failure to
act decisively and will never succeed in governing unless they
change their behavior. He noted that the government promised
last year to create 200,000 jobs but so far has created only
5,000. Agolli stressed that changes in the cabinet are urgently
needed to remedy the situation. FS

VASILE NAMED ROMANIAN PREMIER-DESIGNATE. Romanian
President Emil Constantinescu has officially named Radu
Vasile as prime minister-designate, Reuters reported on 2
April. Vasile was nominated the previous day by the National
Peasant Party Christian Democratic, of which he is secretary
general. Vasile has 10 days to form a government and be
endorsed by the parliament. An economic historian, Vasile said
he is a politician who "does not yield to pressure." He said his
strengths are a "capacity for dialogue, for negotiations in
order to reach a common solution for the benefit of the
country." Constantinescu approved the choice after holding
talks with leaders of the parties expected to make up the
coalition government: National Peasant Party Christian
Democratic, the National Liberal Party, the Social Democratic
Party, and the Hungarian Democratic Federation of Romania
(see "End Note" below). PB

BULGARIA REJECTS EU CONCERNS ABOUT NUCLEAR
PLANT. Ivan Hinovski, the executive director of Bulgaria's
National Electricity Company, said European Commission
concerns about the safety of the Kozloduy nuclear power plant
are "outdated," Reuters reported on 2 April. Hinovski said that
owing to extensive modifications over the last several years,
the four Soviet-designed reactors meet all safety
requirements. He added that a European Commission report
issued on 1 April calling for the reactors to be shut down was
based on "old information." More than $100 million has been
spent to update the reactors and Bulgaria plans to operate the
first two reactors until 2005 and the other two until 2010,
according to Hinovski. Sofia had earlier pledged to close the
plant by 2000. A Commission spokeswoman said failure to
decommission the reactors could hinder Bulgaria's chances of
joining the EU. PB



END NOTE

ROMANIA'S CIORBEA STEPS DOWN

by Breffni O'Rourke and Michael Shafir

	Romanian Prime Minister Victor Ciorbea resigned earlier
this week, leaving the country with its reform process in
tatters and its future uncertain.
	Ciorbea's decision to go ends a lengthy chapter of
political infighting in the ruling coalition. In his resignation
speech, broadcast on national television, Ciorbea spoke of his
place in history, suggesting it will be different from the role
assigned to him by his present detractors. What is his legacy?
	The high hopes with which Ciorbea began his term nearly
18 months ago have not been fulfilled. He takes credit for
setting the country on a reform path after years of
postcommunist governments' inactivity. But reforms faltered
amid bickering and indecision: the national economy shrunk
last year by 6 per cent of GDP, living standards continued to
plummet, and privatization ground to a halt.
	Ciorbea's most lasting contribution might well be his
attempt to achieve the integration of Romania's Hungarian
minority. His tenure was marked by a desire to grant ethnic
Hungarians the basic rights that had long been withheld from
them. It will be a delicate task for an incoming prime minister
to continue that process as well as economic reform. Moreover,
the omens are not all good.
	President Emil Constantinescu has named Radu Vasile,
secretary-general of the National Peasant Party Christian
Democratic (PNTCD), as prime minister-designate with a
mandate to assemble a new coalition government by the end of
this month. The four parties of the original coalition--National
Peasant Party Christian Democratic, the National Liberal
Party, the Social Democratic Party, and the Hungarian
Democratic Federation of Romania--are expected to form the
new government.
	Romania currently faces many urgent economic tasks. A
London-based analyst with the Chase Manhattan Bank, Michael
Marrese, says the economy is at a standstill. Restarting the
privatization program and getting the state budget through the
parliament will be among the priorities of the new
government.
	Marrese notes that the IMF has not released the third of
five tranches of its standby loan to Romania. He says
Bucharest will have a last chance to persuade a visiting IMF
mission next month by presenting a program that includes
downsizing and restructuring state monopolies. He says that
task will require political willpower because of the labor
opposition it is sure to cause.
	Developments in Romania over the past few months show
the extent of the rifts between parties in Romania's pro-
reform and pro-democracy movement. They are also
reminiscent of developments in Bulgaria in 1991-1992, when
the failure of a democratic coalition led to the return of
former Communists. That relapse froze Bulgaria's recovery
process, so that only now and with great difficulty is Bulgaria
gaining reform momentum.

Breffni O'Rourke is an RFE/RL senior correspondent.



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