Upon the education of the people of this country the fate of this country depends. - Benjamin Disraeli 1804-1881
RFE/RL NEWSLINE

RFE/RL NEWSLINE Vol 2, No. 75 Part II, 20 April 1998


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RFE/RL NEWSLINE Vol 2, No. 75  Part II, 20 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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Headlines, Part II

* UKRAINIAN PRESIDENT APPOINTS NEW FOREIGN MINISTER

* HAVEL UNDERGOES SURGERY AGAIN

* CHIRAC PLEDGES SUPPORT TO MONTENEGRO
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EAST-CENTRAL EUROPE

UKRAINIAN PRESIDENT APPOINTS NEW FOREIGN MINISTER. Leonid
Kuchma has appointed Borys Tarasyuk, until now ambassador to
the Benelux countries and NATO, as foreign minister. The 17
April appointment follows the resignation of Hennadiy
Udovenko, who won a parliamentary seat and is reportedly
seeking the post of speaker. Tarasyuk said after his
nomination that he will "do everything possible to help
integrate Ukraine into European and European-Atlantic
structures and strengthen the country's independence by
means of foreign policy," ITAR-TASS reported. He also
affirmed that one of the Foreign Ministry's goals will be
developing "normal and fruitful relations" with Russia. JM

UKRAINIAN PREMIER ANNOUNCES CABINET RESHUFFLE. Valeriy
Pustovoytenko on 17 April said that a number of other
changes will be made to the cabinet within the next few
days, ITAR-TASS reported. "Now it is necessary to
considerably reinforce and improve the government team in
order to speed up structural changes in the Ukrainian
economy," ITAR-TASS quoted him as saying. JM

UKRAINE TO DESTROY 40 STRATEGIC BOMBERS. Ukraine will
destroy 40 Tu-160 and Tu-95 strategic bombers following the
U.S.'s pledge to pay for their destruction, Reuters reported
on 17 April, quoting Volodymyr Horbulin, secretary of the
Ukrainian Council of National Security and Defense. Ukraine
currently has 44 such aircraft, which are able to carry
long-range nuclear missiles and stay in the air for 18 hours
without refueling. "Two [planes] will be used as models to
be put on display and two will be retrofitted for other
uses," Horbulin told journalists. JM

LUKASHENKA MAKES ANNUAL ADDRESS TO LEGISLATURE... In his
yearly address to the National Assembly in Minsk on 17
April, Belarusian President Alyaksandr Lukashenka stressed
that Russia is a "top priority" in Belarus' foreign policy,
Belapan and ITAR-TASS reported. He said integration with
Russia is demanded by Belarus's fundamental interests. "In
case of need, we will defend on the Western frontier not
only our Belarus but also our common fatherland, the Union
of Belarus and Russia," Belapan quoted Lukashenka as saying.
Lukashenka vowed the Belarusian economy will return to the
Soviet-era level in 2001, adding that the state will
continue controlling prices for oil and gas, public
utilities, and transport. JM

...REJECTS CRITICISM OF HUMAN RIGHTS RECORD. In an interview
with the German newspaper "Welt am Sonntag" on 19 April,
Lukashenka rejected criticism from the Council of Europe
over human rights violations in Belarus, dpa reported.
Lukashenka said other former Soviet Union countries with
records of bloodshed and violation of civil rights have not
come under fire because they are "strategic partners of the
West." JM

ESTONIAN GOVERNMENT APPROVES GUIDELINES OF 1999 BUDGET. The
cabinet on 19 April agreed that budget priorities next year
will include ensuring law and order, regional and rural
development, and increasing the salaries of workers in the
spheres of education and culture, ETA reported. Economic
growth is predicted at 5.5 percent and inflation at 8.5
percent. Increased revenues are planned from the sale of
automobiles and luxury goods, excise duties on alcohol and
tobacco products, and the sale of state property, according
to a government spokesman. JC

EU WANTS RIGA TO ACT QUICKLY ON CITIZENSHIP LAW. In a
statement issued on 17 April, the EU urged Latvian lawmakers
to quickly enact amendments to the country's citizenship law
agreed on last week by a government working group, Reuters
and BNS reported. "The EU has a strong interest in a
satisfactory resolution of the differences over the
treatment of non-Latvian citizens in Latvia," the statement
said. Noting that it had earlier raised the issue in the
context of Latvia's bid to join the union, the statement
added that the EU considers it essential for the
"government's program to match fully the standards
established by the Organization for Security and Cooperation
in Europe in this area.... The [EU] hopes that the Latvian
parliament will take early action to adopt the government's
decisions." JC

GERMANY REPORTEDLY BACKS CHANGES TO LATVIAN CITIZENSHIP LAW.
Following talks with his German counterpart, Klaus Kinkel,
in Halle on 17 April, Latvian Foreign Minister Valdis
Birkavs said that Germany supports the government's
proposals for changing the citizenship law. Birkavs told BNS
that at the same time, Kinkel had stressed Germany will
insist that Latvia comply with the recommendations of the
OSCE. By the same token, OSCE High Commissioner on National
Minorities Max van der Stoel said on 17 April that he backs
the proposed amendments, adding that "the criteria that
should be followed are the recommendations of the OSCE,
nothing more." And earlier the same day, Latvian Premier
Guntars Krasts told Reuters that the only way to dispel the
current tension between Moscow and Riga is to launch talks.
Krasts underlined that Latvia is "open to dialogue." JC

POLISH PRESIDENT DISCUSSES ADMINISTRATIVE REFORM. Aleksander
Kwasniewski met with cabinet ministers and leaders of
Poland's four major parties for some seven hours on 18 April
to discuss administrative reform and local elections,
"Gazeta Wyborcza" reported. A declaration issued after the
meeting said that efforts will be made to launch
administrative reform as of 1 January 1999. But no
compromise was reached on the scope of the reform. The
ruling Solidarity and Freedom Union bloc wants to replace
the current 49 voivodships with 12 powerful and better-
funded ones and to introduce a middle tier of local
government. The opposition Democratic Left Alliance proposes
creating 17 provinces instead of 12, while the Peasant Party
wants to keep the current 49 provinces, invest them with
greater powers, and hold a referendum on the issue. JM

HAVEL UNDERGOES SURGERY AGAIN. Doctors at the University
Clinic in Innsbruck have again operated on Czech President
Vaclav Havel--the second surgical intervention in four days-
-to clean up the president's bronchial tubes. Havel remains
in drug-induced sleep, the doctors told journalists on 19
April. The doctors said Havel's life is not in danger and
his vital organs are working "impeccably," although his
breathing is still assisted by a respirator. The condition
of his lungs has "dramatically improved," they said, but
Havel will have to undergo treatment to clear them three
times a day. Bronchial problems are frequent in patients
with a history of lung problems, particularly after surgery
to the abdomen, the doctors stressed. MS

SLOVAK LOCAL COUNCIL DEFIANTLY HOLDS REFERENDUM. Ignoring
Prime Minister Vladimir Meciar's warning, the local council
in Sturovo held a referendum on 19 April on electing the
country's president by popular vote and on joining NATO (see
"RFE/RL Newsline," 16 April 1998). Mayor Jan Oravec said
that turnout was some 50 percent and that of the 5,000
people who participated in the plebiscite, 70 percent voted
in favor of direct presidential elections. He provided no
other details, Reuters reported. Sturovo has a large
Hungarian ethnic majority, but the local authorities deny
accusations by pro-Meciar forces that Hungarian nationalists
were behind the non-binding referendum. The central
authorities in Bratislava refrained from dispatching police
forces and the army to prevent the plebiscite from taking
place, although they were publicly urged to do so by Meciar
supporters. MS

MECIAR SIGNALS READINESS TO LEGALIZE MONEY LAUNDERING. Prime
Minister Vladimir Meciar on 17 April said tax evaders might
be offered the chance of "laundering" illegal earnings if
they invest in a three-year state bonds scheme, TASR
reported. Meciar said "anyone" can invest in the bonds, even
those whose earnings originated in "dirty money," and "no
questions will be asked." In other news, Foreign Minister
Zdenka Kramplova, who was on a visit to Dublin on 17 April,
said Slovakia will continue seeking admission to the EU,
NATO and the Organization for Economic Cooperation and
Development. Kramplova said the Slovaks "want to be the same
as other Europeans," enjoying the benefits of secure borders
and joint European security. MS

MORE HUNGARIAN CANDIDATES REGISTER AT LAST MINUTE. The
Central Electoral Office on 17 April announced that with the
deadline for registration now passed, a total of 1,603
candidates representing 26 political parties have been
registered for the upcoming elections (see "RFE/RL
Newsline," 17 April Only the Socialists and the Smallholders
will field candidates in all 176 constituencies. The Free
Democrats are running in 175 electoral districts, followed
by the Young Democrats-FIDESZ (173) and the Democratic Forum
(172). In another development, People's Party chairman Ivan
Szabo on 17 April announced he is suing Democratic Forum
chairman Sandor Lezsak, who recently told the weekly "168
Ora" that before Szabo left the forum in 1996, he had
"robbed it." MS

HUNGARY, ITALY, SLOVENIA SET UP PEACEKEEPING FORCE. Italian
Defense Minster Benjamino Andreatta and his Hungarian and
Slovenian counterparts, Gyorgy Keleti and Alojiz Krapez, met
in Udine on 18 April and signed an agreement on establishing
a joint peacekeeping brigade, Hungarian media reported. The
three countries' parliaments must ratify the accord. Keleti
said the force will be ready for deployment by mid-1999 at
the earliest. It will be under Italian command, while the
deputy commander post will rotate between Hungary and
Slovenia. MS

SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE

CHIRAC PLEDGES SUPPORT TO MONTENEGRO. French President
Jacques Chirac told his Montenegrin counterpart, Milo
Djukanovic, in Paris on 17 April that he is "concerned by
the attitude" of Yugoslav officials and that France fully
supports Montenegro, AFP reported. Chirac said he will
initiate a request within the EU to grant aid to Montenegro.
He stressed that dialogue is the only way to resolve the
crisis in Kosova. Djukanovic said Chirac also pledged to try
to spare Montenegro from any sanctions that may be imposed
on the former Yugoslavia for its handling of the crisis. The
Montenegrin president added that he had "extremely
satisfactory" talks with Prime Minister Lionel Jospin and
Foreign Minister Hubert Vedrine. PB

BELGRADE, TIRANA ACCUSE EACH OTHER OF PROVOCATIONS. The
Albanian parliament has called for NATO troops to be
stationed along Kosova's border with Albania after reported
incidents there, AFP reported on 18 April. The parliament
voted unanimously that troops be sent to Kosova to prevent
an "expansion of the conflict and [to protect the] civilian
population in the province." The resolution came after
ethnic Albanian groups reported that the Yugoslav army had
moved troops near the Albanian border and that they were
involved in shooting incidents there on 16 April. Meanwhile,
a Yugoslav army statement said there was a "serious border
incident" in which Albanians had fired shots at a joint
Albanian-Yugoslav commission sent to investigate a shooting
incident at the site earlier the same day. PB

TALBOTT RULES OUT U.S. TROOPS IN KOSOVA. U.S. Deputy
Secretary of State Strobe Talbott said on 18 April that the
U.S. does not envision deploying troops in Kosova. Talbott
made that statement after meeting with Albanian President
Rexhep Meidani and Premier Fatos Nano in Tirana. But Talbott
did stress that the U.S. will maintain its military presence
in Macedonia. Talbott is in the Balkans for meetings ahead
of a report to be given to the Contact Group in Rome on 29
April. Talbott said he hopes the Albanian government will
persuade ethnic Albanians to refrain from violence during
the crisis in Kosova. PB

PLAVSIC ACCUSES MILOSEVIC OF INTERFERENCE IN BOSNIA. Bosnian
Serb President Biljana Plavsic accused her Yugoslav
counterpart, Slobodan Milosevic, of attempting to install
nationalist politicians in the Bosnian Serb government, AFP
reported on 18 April. Plavsic said in an interview with B-92
radio that Milosevic pressured Bosnian Serb Prime Minister
Milorad Dodik to use members of the Serbian Democratic Party
and the ultra-nationalist Radical Party to replace certain
ministers in Dodik's government. Plavsic accused Milosevic
of attempting to halt the work of Dodic's moderate
government. She added that she is opposed to further
sanctions against Yugoslavia, which, she said, could result
in hundreds of thousands of refugees returning to Bosnia. PB

DEPUTY MAYOR SACKED AFTER DEATH OF SERBIAN COUPLE. Carlos
Westendorp, the international community's high
representative in Bosnia-Herzegovina, has dismissed the
deputy mayor of Drvar in response to the murder of a Serbian
couple in the Croat-controlled town, AFP reported.
Westendorp said "hardliners...will not stop the return
process and we will not tolerate any obstructions or
violence." Drago Tokmakcija, a Croat, was fired from his
post on 17 April for failing to uphold the Dayton peace
accords, which allow for all refugees the right of return to
their homes. Tokmakcija said on Bosnian television that his
sacking is an attempt to "spread fear among Croats."
Westendorp also ordered that 15 Serbs be added to the police
force in the town. The couple was among some 1,000 Serbs
that have returned to the northwestern town of Drvar--which
was overwhelmingly Serb before the war--to reclaim their
homes. The mayor of Drvar is an ethnic Serb. PB

CROATIAN PARLIAMENT DEBATES RETURN OF SERB REFUGEES.
Deputies on 17 April began to review a government plan on
the repatriation of ethnic Serbian refugees to Croatia.
Deputy Jadranka Kosor said the plan is based on the simple
right of each person to return to the home they had before
the war. saying this is provided for by the Croatian
constitution as well as the Dayton accords. As many as
180,000 Serbs fled Croatia in 1995 when it recaptured
Croatian territory that had been seized by Serbs. Croatian
President Franjo Tudjman has said that Serbs are welcome to
return to Croatia but that a huge influx of them would
create an unstable situation that could lead to violence. PB

MACEDONIAN OFFICIAL RESIGNS OVER AFFAIR ALLEGATIONS.
Katerina Kocevska, the cultural adviser to Macedonian
President Kiro Gligorov, resigned on 17 April over
allegations that she had an affair with Gligorov, AFP
reported. Gligorov said the press reports, which referred to
him as the "Macedonian Clinton," were an "unscrupulous
attempt" to hurt his reputation ahead of parliamentary
elections later this year. Kocevska, a former actress, said
the allegations have damaged her and her family and forced
her resignation. PB

ALBANIAN PRIME MINISTER ACCUSES PRESIDENT OF PROVOKING
CRISIS. Fatos Nano said on 18 April that President Rexhep
Meidani is throwing the country into a political crisis
after he refused to approve most of Nano's new ministers in
a cabinet reshuffle, Reuters reported. Meidani agreed the
previous day to only two of the nine ministers presented to
him by Nanos, whose Socialist Party called on the president
to correct "this absurd situation." Nanos argued that
Meidani should have jurisdiction only over the nomination of
the prime minister and that his rejection of the ministers
"without necessary explanations" put the country into an
"institutional crisis." A statement from the President's
Office said there is no power vacuum as a result of
Meidani's decision because previously sacked ministers would
maintain their posts until the president approved a new
cabinet. Also on 18 April, Meidani sacked Interior Minister
Neritan Ceka, ATA reported. He was replaced by Perikli Teta,
until now a deputy defense minister. PB

ROMANIAN CABINET SWORN IN. President Emil Constantinescu on
17 April swore in the members of Radu Vasile's cabinet,
RFE/RL's Bucharest bureau reported. Constantinescu said the
government cannot afford to fail in its task. He added that
while Victor Ciorbea's government had been "one of hope,"
Vasile's "must be one of certainty," because following the
recent political crisis, reforms and privatization have
slowed down and have negatively affected Romania's image and
attraction for foreign investors. A government "can lose a
battle, but the population cannot afford to lose the war
[for reform and economic recovery] and it will not lose it,"
the president said. In a televised address marking Orthodox
Easter on 19 April, Constantinescu called on the country to
"overcome the moral crisis" that runs parallel to the
economic one by "rediscovering its traditional Christian
values." MS

OPPOSITION PARTY CHOOSES CANDIDATE FOR BUCHAREST MAYOR. The
Party of Social Democracy in Romania (PDSR) on 17 April
selected surgeon Sorin Oprescu as its candidate for mayor of
Bucharest, RFE/RL's Bucharest bureau reported. The mayoralty
became vacant after Ciorbea resigned both as premier and as
mayor of Bucharest last month. The Greater Romania Party has
already announced it will back police-general Niculae Nitu
for the job. The Democratic Party said it will not back the
candidate of the Democratic Convention of Romania, who is
likely to be acting Bucharest Mayor Viorel Lis. The PDSR
says the Democrats may back Oprescu if the race is decided
in a runoff. The date of the election has not yet been
fixed. MS

LUCINSCHI, SNEGUR ON COALITION PARLEYS. Returning to
Chisinau from Germany, where he recently underwent surgery,
President Petru Lucinschi said he "regrets" the fact that
the parleys under way for setting up the new coalition have
"stalled over the distribution of portfolios." Lucinschi
said he intends to re-establish contacts with the leaders of
all factions elected to the new parliament in order to give
new impetus to the talks, BASA-press reported on 17 April.
Meanwhile, Mircea Snegur, the co-chairman of the Democratic
Convention of Moldova, told "Nezavisimaya Moldova" on 17
April that he is "worried" about rumors that Lucinschi would
like the coalition to include all parties represented in the
legislature. Snegur said reform will not be possible if the
Communists are in the coalition, adding that the only viable
alternative is a center-right government. MS

BULGARIAN INTERIOR MINISTRY OFFICIALS RESIGN. Two state
secretaries at the Ministry of Interior and the chief of the
border police resigned on 17 April, BTA reported. They
offered no reason for their resignations, but the media
reported that the two secretaries, Liutskan Liutskanov and
Georgi Georgiev and the border police chief, Georgi
Teterekov, were suspected of having tolerated violations of
border and customs regulations, RFE/RL's Sofia bureau
reported. MS

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