The worst sin towards our fellow creatures is not to hate them, but to be indifferent to them; that's the essence of inhumanity. - George Bernard Shaw
RFE/RL NEWSLINE

RFE/RL NEWSLINE Vol 2, No. 76 Part II, 21 April 1998


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RFE/RL NEWSLINE Vol 2, No. 76 Part II, 21 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

* HAVEL UNDERGOES THIRD OPERATION

* KOSOVAR PARTY SAYS SITUATION IS SERIOUS IN DECANI

* COUNCIL OF EUROPE REJECTS YUGOSLAV APPLICATION TO JOIN

End Note: BALCEROWICZ REMAINS ENTHUSIASTIC FOR FREE MARKETS
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EAST-CENTRAL EUROPE

YOUNG BELARUSIAN OPPOSITIONIST TO RETURN TO PRE-TRIAL
CUSTODY. Belarusian authorities have rejected a request by
Pavel Sevyarynets, the 21-year-old leader of the Belarusian
Popular Front's youth branch, to be released from jail
pending his trial, Belapan and RFE/RL's Belarusian Service
reported. Sevyarynets was arrested for participating in a
rally protesting the Russian-Belarusian union (see "RFE/RL
Newsline," 7 and 16 April) and was released on 18 April for
three days to attend the funeral of a relative. He told
journalists he will return to prison, although he
"absolutely feels no guilt on his part." He added that his
case is politically motivated and that a decision on it will
be made "at the top political level." JM

FOOD RATIONED IN BELARUSIAN REGIONS. Foodstuffs are again
being rationed in various regions of the country, Belapan
reported on 20 April. A directive issued by the Minsk Oblast
Executive Committee says the decision was made "to stop the
unorganized and unauthorized export of goods outside the
borders of the republic." Individuals are allowed to buy no
more than 2 kg of meat and poultry, 0.4 kg of cheese, and 2
kg of bread at any one given time. In Mahilyou Oblast the
purchase of potatoes, a traditional food, is also
restricted. JM

UKRAINE RAISES ELECTRICITY TARIFFS. The Energy Ministry on
20 April announced that electricity tariffs will increase by
22.5 percent as of 1 May, Ukrainian Radio-1 reported. "Low
tariffs are in no way good for the population," Energy
Minister Oleksiy Shebestov told journalists. In his opinion,
low electricity tariffs lead in the long run to price
increases and make domestic production uncompetitive,
Ukrainian Radio-1 reported. JM

UKRAINIAN PARTY LEADER DEPRIVED OF PARLIAMENTARY SEAT.
Nataliya Vitrenko, leader of the Progressive Socialists, has
been deprived of her parliamentary mandate by a court in
Konotop, Sumy Oblast, where she ran for the Supreme Council
in the 29 March elections, Ukrainian Television-2 reported
on 20 April. According to the court, Vitrenko gave
information about the private life of her rivals and
insulted state officials during the election campaign. The
court also nullified the votes cast for the Progressive
Socialists party list in Konotop, thus pushing the party's
support below the 4 percent threshold for parliamentary
representation. Vitrenko has called the court ruling a
"revenge on the political leader and the opposition party,"
Ukrainian Television-2 reported. JM

ESTONIA'S RULING COALITION, PEOPLE'S PARTY TO COOPERATE. The
Coalition Party and the People's Party have signed a
cooperation agreement, ETA and BNS reported on 20 April. The
accord is aimed at securing the stability of the government
until the parliamentary elections scheduled for March 1999.
The two sides have agreed to hold regular consultations on
important issues and to refrain from making hostile attacks
on one another in the parliament. Prime Minister Mart
Siimann, who is also chairman of the Coalition Party, said
that the ruling alliance is counting on the support of the
People's Party during voting in the legislature. Under the
agreement, People's Party leader Toomas Hendrik Ilves
retains his post as foreign minister. JC

VILNIUS WILL NOT SEEK TO MEDIATE LATVIAN-RUSSIAN DISPUTE.
Lithuanian President Valdas Adamkus has said his country
will not act as mediator to resolve the crisis in Latvian-
Russian relations. Adamkus was speaking after a meeting with
Latvian President Guntis Ulmanis in the northern Lithuanian
town of Panevezys on 20 April. The two leaders called the
meeting to discuss current relations between Latvia and
Russia. Adamkus stressed that Latvia is capable of solving
its own problems, while Ulmanis admitted that Riga has been
slow to ease citizenship requirements for non-Latvians. The
two presidents also discussed bilateral relations and their
shared goals of joining the EU and NATO. JC

RUSSIA REFUSING ENTRY TO LATVIAN DRIVERS WITHOUT LICENSE IN
RUSSIAN? The Latvian daily "Diena" reports on 21 April that
Russian border officials are refusing entry to Latvian
drivers who cannot produce a notarized Russian translation
of their drivers' license. Russian officials say that a law
that went into effect at the beginning of this year
stipulates this requirement. "Diena" says that such demands
are not made on Estonian and Lithuanian drivers. The
previous day, BNS reported that the Russian Transportation
Ministry is threatening to limit the number of entry permits
to Latvian truckers. According to the news agency, Latvian
Transportation Minister Vilis Kristopans has received a
letter from the Russian ministry threatening the cut-off in
response to difficulties faced by Russian truckers in
entering Latvia. JC

POLISH GOVERNMENT SEEKS TO POSTPONE LOCAL ELECTIONS. Prime
Minister Jerzy Buzek is seeking to persuade President
Aleksander Kwasniewski to postpone the June local elections
until the fall, "Rzeczpospolita" reported on 21 April. The
Solidarity-led government sees the elections as a part of a
plan to reform the state administration system (see "RFE/RL
Newsline," 20 April 1998) and wants to hold them
simultaneously with polls on the introduction of a middle
tier of administration. Kwasniewski said such a postponement
would violate the constitution, thus indicating he will veto
the government's bill delaying the elections, Reuters
reported. JM

POLAND CONSIDERS CLOSING 24 COAL MINES BY 2002. The Polish
Industry Ministry wants to close 24 of Poland's more than 50
coal pits within the next three years, Reuters reported on
20 April, quoting the ministry's spokesman. Deputy Industry
Minister Jan Szlazak told PAP that by 2002, the number of
jobs in the coal mining sector will be reduced to 126,000
from the current 237,000. The government's goal is to
decrease the losses in the industry (more than $500 million
in 1997) and reduce output to 114 million tons from last
year's 137 million tons. The plan is firmly opposed by the
country's trade unions, despite promised social security
cushions (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 15 April 1998). JM

HAVEL UNDERGOES THIRD OPERATION. President Vaclav Havel
underwent another operation at the University Clinic in
Innsbruck late on 20 April. Doctors at the clinic say they
removed a "small abscess" from his abdominal wall, CTK
reported. They also said the president's life "is not in
acute danger." Since he underwent a second operation on 19
April to clean his bronchial tube, Havel has been kept in
artificially-induced curative sleep at the clinic's
intensive care unit. Last week, he underwent an emergency
operation for a perforation of the large intestine. MS

SHARP DROP IN CZECH OPPOSITION PARTY'S POPULARITY. An
opinion poll released on 20 April by the independent STEM
institute shows that while the Social Democratic Party
(CSSD) is leading the field ahead of the early elections
scheduled for June, the party has suffered a sharp drop in
its popularity, Reuters reported. The CSSD is now backed by
23.7 percent of the respondents, down from 29.5 percent in
March. Support for Vaclav Klaus's Civic Democratic Party
(ODA), on the other hand, increased from 11 percent to 16
percent during the same period. The poll puts the backing of
the Freedom Union, which was formed by dissenters from the
ODA, at 13 percent, down from 18 percent in March. MS

HUNGARIAN PARTIES END REGIONAL LISTS REGISTRATION. Fifteen
political parties have registered regional lists in all 20
electoral district, Hungarian media reported. The deadline
for registering was 20 April. 176 parliamentary deputies are
elected in single-seat constituencies and 152 on regional
lists, where representation is based on a proportional
system. Regional list votes that are insufficient for a
mandate are taken into account for the national lists, on
which an additional 58 deputies are elected. The Socialist
Party and the Free Democrats (which make up the outgoing
coalition) fielded lists in all the districts, as did the
opposition Young Democrats, the Smallholders' Party, the
Christian Democrats, and the far right Justice and Life
Party. In order to run regional lists, parties must compete
in one quarter of the constituencies, and in order to gain
eligibility for the national lists, they have to run at
least seven regional lists. MS

HORN COURTS PENSIONERS AHEAD OF ELECTIONS. The cabinet is
working on an amendment to the existing legislation that
would make possible paying pension increases retroactively,
Prime Minister Gyula Horn announced on 20 April in
Ferencvaros. He said the increase is expected to be 2
percent but did not mention how far back it will apply,
Hungarian media reported. In another development, government
spokesman Elemer Kiss on 20 April denied opposition
accusations that the Socialists are unlawfully using the
premises of the Prime Minister's office as the headquarters
of their election campaign. The previous day, the press
reported that Horn told Socialist Party members they can
obtain help from his staff during the campaign. Kiss said a
10-member staff group has been set up, but it deals only
with monitoring the press and is not involved in the
election campaign. MS

SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE

KOSOVAR PARTY SAYS SITUATION IS SERIOUS IN DECANI. The
Kosova Democratic League, the leading ethnic Albanian party
in the province, said on 20 April that an apparent build-up
of forces in the western Decani region has made the
situation there "dramatic," AFP reported. The party said in
a statement that there are "indications" that Serbian forces
in Decani are preparing for a "massive-scale attack." It
said local residents have been "organizing themselves"
because of the "absence of concrete measures to prevent a
new massacre." There is no independent confirmation of those
reports. Kosova Serb sources said the same day that gunmen
shot and threw grenades at a Serbian refugee camp in
Babaloc. The Serbian Information Center in Prishtina said
armed ethnic Albanians are grouping in the region,
particularly in the town of Glodjane, near the Albanian
border. PB

COUNCIL OF EUROPE REJECTS YUGOSLAV APPLICATION TO JOIN. Leni
Fischer, the president of the Council of Europe's
Parliamentary Assembly, said on 20 April that Yugoslavia
does not meet the standards needed for membership, an RFE/RL
correspondent in Strasbourg reported. Fischer said the
Yugoslav government must first seek a peaceful solution to
the crisis in Kosova and stop rejecting demands calling for
the protection of human rights of Kosovars as outside
interference in its internal affairs. The assembly is
meeting this week with a four-member delegation from
Belgrade to discuss the Kosova conflict. Yugoslavia applied
last month to join the Council of Europe. PB

EXHUMATIONS BEGIN AT MASS GRAVE SITES NEAR SREBRENICA. Some
50 international forensic experts working for the UN found
bones, clothing, and bullet casings after beginning
exhumations at a mass grave in Bosnia-Herzegovina on 20
April, Reuters reported. A UN statement said the forensic
experts, working near a dam at Brnice in eastern Bosnia,
expected to find "significant evidence" to support current
or potential indictments by the international war crimes
tribunal in The Hague. The former Muslim enclave of
Srebrenica was overrun by Bosnian Serb forces in summer
1995. Some 7,000 people from the area are still missing and
are thought to have been executed. PB

BOSNIAN SERB PLEADS NOT GUILTY 69 TIMES. Zoran Zigic told a
court at the war crimes tribunal on 20 April that he is
innocent of 69 charges of crimes against humanity, an RFE/RL
correspondent at The Hague reported. He is accused of
beating, torturing, and murdering civilians at a Bosnian
Serb camp near Prijedor in summer 1992. The prosecution
claims that Zigic was not a commander or guard at the camp
but that he volunteered to "beat, murder, and abuse" people.
Meanwhile, NATO Secretary-General Javier Solana said in
Sarajevo the same day that NATO forces will remain in Bosnia
until all indicted war crimes suspects go on trial at The
Hague. Twenty-six are in custody there. Solana met with
Alija Izetbegovic and Kresimir Zubak, the Muslim and
Croatian members of the joint Bosnian presidency, but
Serbian member Momcilo Krajisnik sent a substitute. PB

CROATIAN JOURNALIST FOUND NOT GUILTY OF LIBEL. Davor
Butkovic, the former editor in chief of the independent
weekly "Globus," was acquitted of libel charges by a Zagreb
court on 20 April, RFE/RL's South Slavic Service reported.
Butkovic said he is happy with the verdict but said that the
dire situation of independent media in Croatia is basically
unchanged. All 23 members of the Croatian cabinet filed
libel charges against Butkovic for a "Globus" article on
government corruption. They were seeking 4.6 million kuna
(about $733,000) in damages. Meanwhile, Croatian President
Franjo Tudjman announced that Justice Minister Miroslav
Separovic will be the new head of the country's intelligence
service, replacing the president's son, Miroslav Tudjman,
who had tendered his resignation. PB

CROATIA INDICTS CAMP COMMANDER. The Croatian state
attorney's office indicted former Jasenovac camp commander
Dinko Sakic for war crimes and repeated a call for his
extradition from Argentina, AFP reported. Sakic is wanted
for his part in the deaths of many tens of thousands of
Serbs, Jews, Muslims, and Roma at Jasenovac during World War
II. On 19 April, some 2,000 people attended a ceremony at
the concentration camp to mourn those who were killed there.
Jewish, Romani, Serbian, Muslim, and Croatian
representatives took part in the ceremony. PB

ALBANIAN PRESIDENT APPROVES TWO MORE MINISTERS. Rexhep
Meidani has approved two more ministers in Prime Minister
Fatos Nano's coalition government, Reuters reported on 20
April. A government statement said Meidani appointed Bashkim
Fino as deputy prime minister and local government minister
and Ermelinda Meksi as economic cooperation and trade
minister. The same day, Nano withdrew a statement he made on
18 April accusing Meidani of causing a political crisis in
Albania. Meidani has now approved five of Nano's nine new
cabinet members, who were announced in a government
reshuffle made last week. Meanwhile, a NATO delegation
arrived in Tirana on 20 April to instruct officials on how
to manage internal and external crises, Albanian Television
reported. NATO and Albanian officials said they are worried
about Albania's ability to control its border with
Yugoslavia's restive Kosova province. PB

ROMANIAN PREMIER ADDRESSES COUNCIL OF EUROPE... In a speech
to the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe on 20
April, Radu Vasile said his new government's program offers
a "one-way road to democracy and a market economy." He said
his cabinet intends to pursue two main objectives: Romania's
integration into Euro-Atlantic structures and a "profound
reform of society" leading to the "full assimilation of
moral, democratic, and human values." Until his appointment
as premier earlier this month, Vasile was the chief of
Romania's parliamentary delegation to the assembly; his
speech marked his departure from that position. MS

...REJECTS AMNESTY INTERNATIONAL ACCUSATIONS. At a press
conference in Strasbourg on 20 April, Vasile rejected
accusations in an Amnesty International report published the
same day saying that homosexuals continue to be imprisoned
in Romania and the country's Roma are still subject to
discrimination. The report also claimed that detainees are
ill-treated and even tortured and that there of prisoners of
conscience in Romania. In response, Vasile said that the
penal code has been liberalized on homosexual offenses but
Romanian society is "not yet ready for the change." The
Parliamentary Assembly is to discuss at its present session
whether Romania is meeting the obligations it undertook when
it was taken off the assembly's special monitoring list last
year. MS

END NOTE

BALCEROWICZ REMAINS ENTHUSIASTIC FOR FREE MARKETS

by Robert Lyle

	The man who was the architect and driving force of
Poland's radical shift to a market economy--Polish Deputy
Prime Minister and Finance Minister Leszek Balcerowicz--says
his biggest surprise during that process has been the pace
of growth and the dynamism of the private sector.
	Balcerowicz, a former university professor, came to
prominence in 1989 to push Poland into what was the fastest
shift from central planning to a market-based economy among
all countries in East-Central Europe and Central Asia. The
road has not been easy, and Balcerowicz was out of
government for a period when the pain of the radical reform
process made him a less than popular figure in Poland.
	Now back in public life as both finance and deputy
prime minister, Balcerowicz has lost none of his zeal for
free markets, admitting that even he was not prepared for
how dynamic the private sector proved in Poland and how well
it has grown. "That was the most positive surprise of the
whole thing," he recently told a few international financial
journalists over breakfast at the Polish Embassy in
Washington.
	Balcerowicz was in Washington for the regular spring
leadership meetings of the International Monetary Fund (IMF)
and the World Bank as well as to participate in a conference
on redesigning and strengthening the architecture of the
international financial system. Finance ministers and
central bank governors from the 22 countries--including
Poland and Russia-- took part in that conference, which
tackled, among other things, improving the transparency and
accountability of national financial systems and
strengthening the ability of global institutions like the
IMF to deal with crises such as the most recent one in Asia.
	Balcerowicz has clear ideas about what is wrong and
how the global system can reduce the risk of future crises.
First, there must be full information about what is actually
going on in national economies and people must be willing to
look at that information, he said. One question arising from
the Asian crisis, he says, is whether bankers, lenders, and
investors ignored much of the information they did have,
preferring to look the other way while grabbing bigger
profits.
	Second, once assuring that as much information is
available as possible, there must be incentives to act on
what is known--and that, said Balcerowicz, means "punishment
for bad decisions." If major international banks keep
pouring short-term loans into potentially dangerous
situations as they did in Asia, he says, they ought to
suffer the subsequent losses. All parties--borrowers and
lenders alike--must "share in the consequences, both good
and bad," he commented.
	Balcerowicz says that while he strongly supports
liberal and open global trade in goods-- that is "beneficial
to all sides"--he is willing to consider measures to have
some controls available on the flow of short-term capital.
Short-term capital refers to loans or investments for less
than one year, often for as little as three months.
Balcerowicz says the "size and speed" of the movement of
this kind of money has become unbelievable in the growing
global market place, a new problem for which he said he is
open to "new ideas."
	Reforms for the global system will find Poland in the
midst of its own continuing reform, Balcerowicz commented.
Warsaw is preparing to speed up large-scale privatization,
especially focusing on transportation, railroads, coal
mining, and insurance as well as wrapping up the
privatization of banks. The release last week of $415
million from the multi-national Polish Bank Privatization
fund will spur that effort.
	But Poland needs to continue to expand all its reforms
as it moves toward EU membership. "We must bring inflation
down much further--it's currently around 11 percent
annually--and we must reduce the budget and push ahead on
privatization," he said. Experience has shown everywhere--
but especially in Poland--that "private owners are stronger"
than public owners and work harder to produce economic
growth.
	Poland's border with Belarus, which Balcerowicz noted
will eventually become the eastern frontier of the EU, is of
some concern to Warsaw. Balcerowicz said that Poland is
considering ways to further open the border. New Polish
consular offices are to be opened in Belarus to make visas
far more readily available and Warsaw wants to work with
Minsk on easing current restrictions. "We don't want to turn
our backs on anyone," he noted.
	Balcerowicz sees an independent, market-oriented
Ukraine as "absolutely strategic" to the success of the new
relationship among East European countries. But at the same
time, he is "concerned" about Kyiv's extremely slow pace of
reforms and faltering economy.
	As for Poland's membership in NATO, Balcerowicz says
everyone in the region knows it is not an "aggressive"
alliance and that once Poland joins, the issue will be
forgotten. "Russian officials tell me privately they don't
really care about Poland joining NATO but can't say that
publicly for fear of being attacked" by the nationalists.
And polls of average Russian citizens show it is not of any
concern to most people, he added.
	The cost of joining NATO is not prohibitive for
Poland, Balcerowicz said. "We needed to modernize and revamp
our military anyway," he commented. In the beginning, NATO
is demanding only compatibility of systems, not massive
upgrades.

The author is RFE/RL's Washington-based economics
correspondent.

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