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RFE/RL NEWSLINE

RFE/RL NEWSLINE Vol. 2, No. 126 Part II, 2 June 1998


___________________________________________________________
RFE/RL NEWSLINE Vol. 2, No. 126 Part II, 2 June 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

* KUCHMA ORDERS ANTI-CRISIS MEASURES

* U.S. CONTINUES DIPLOMATIC OFFENSIVE OVER KOSOVA

* KOSOVAR POLITICIANS FAIL TO AGREE ON UCK ROLE

End Note: MOLDOVA, UKRAINE SQUABBLE OVER OIL TERMINAL
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EAST-CENTRAL EUROPE

KUCHMA ORDERS ANTI-CRISIS MEASURES. Ukrainian President
Leonid Kuchma ordered his cabinet on 1 July to prepare
measures to halt the country's economic decline, AP
reported. Presidential spokesman Oleksandr Maydannyk said
the measures, which are to be issued as decrees due to the
standstill in the parliament, seek to stabilize the economic
situation in the country. Maydannyk said Kuchma's measures
will reduce taxes, give tax breaks to large foreign
investors, lower the need for foreign credit, and attract
international investment. Other possible steps include
increased support for farmers and an amnesty for Ukrainians
abroad who left with large amounts of money. Also on 1 July,
the parliament failed yet again to elect a speaker.
Oleksandr Moroz received the most votes in the balloting. PB

KYIV WANTS CASPIAN OIL TRANSPORT TO TRANSIT UKRAINE.
Uladislau Toroshevskiy, the acting chairman of Ukraine's
Committee for the Oil and Gas Industry, said on 1 July that
Kyiv is trying to ensure that oil will be transported
through Odessa and along the Odessa-Brody pipeline, ITAR-
TASS reported. Toroshevskiy was speaking at an oil
conference in Kyiv. He said the government has adopted a
resolution to expedite the establishment of an international
consortium that would promote and improve conditions for the
transport of Caspian oil through Ukraine. PB

EU, LITHUANIA CRITICIZE MINSK OVER DIPLOMATIC DISPUTE. The
EU issued a statement on 1 July expressing its "strong
disapproval" of the Belarusian government's handling of the
dispute over the ambassadors' residences in Drazdy, Belapan
reported. The EU's General Affairs Council, meeting in
Luxembourg, said it will restart a dialogue with Minsk when
the latter is ready to "respect its international
obligations." In Vilnius, Lithuanian President Valdas
Adamkus said Belarusian officials have "ignored all
standards of diplomacy and international cooperation." He
said he hopes that "logic and common sense will prevail." PB

CHINA, BELARUS PLEDGE CLOSER COOPERATION. Belarusian Foreign
Minister Ivan Antonovich and his Chinese counterpart, Tang
Jiaxuan, said on 1 July that their countries are committed
to boosting relations, ITAR-TASS reported. Antonovich,
speaking in Beijing during a five-day visit to China, said
both sides "have similar positions on key international
issues." He said stronger relations with China is a major
priority for Minsk. Tang commented that the two countries
are ready to develop long-term, stable relations. PB

SIGNATURE-COLLECTING CAMPAIGN TO BEGIN MID-JULY IN LATVIA.
The Central Election Committee on 1 July announced that the
campaign to collect signatures in support of a referendum on
the citizenship law amendments will take place from 20 July
to 18 August, BNS reported. Signatures will have to be
counted by 30 August, when the two-month period in which the
law is suspended expires. The chairman of the commission
estimated that the cost of holding the referendum may total
150,000 lats (some $300,000). JC

LITHUANIANS MORE KEEN TO JOIN NATO THAN BALTIC NEIGHBORS.
According to a poll carried out by the Baltic Surveys
company in March, Lithuanians are more keen than either
Estonians or Latvians to join NATO, BNS reported on 1 July.
Fifty-five percent of Lithuanians supported their
government's efforts to gain entry to the Atlantic alliance,
compared with 54 percent of Estonians and 47 percent of
Latvians. The figures for those expressing opposition to
NATO membership were 26 percent in Lithuania, 31 percent in
Estonia, and 32 percent in Latvia. BNS reported that in
evaluating the influence of NATO membership on their
country, Lithuanians are most optimistic while Latvians are
most skeptical. JC

POLISH PARLIAMENT APPROVES PLAN FOR 15 PROVINCES. The Sejm
passed legislation on 1 July reducing the number of
provinces from 49 to 15, AP reported. President Aleksander
Kwasniewski is expected to veto the bill, which has also
been approved by the Senate. Prime Minister Jerzy Buzek said
he hopes the president will approve the plan so that
parliament can move on to "other elements of
[administrative] reform." The rightist governing coalition
would be unable to muster the three-fifths majority needed
to override the veto. Kwasniewski has said he favors having
17 provinces and has campaigned to retain the northwestern
province of Koszalin and the central Kielce province.
Critics say he is grandstanding in order to gain electoral
support from those regions in future elections. PB

YELTSIN'S PRESENCE MAY ACCELERATE NATO EXPANSION. Polish
Defense Minister Janusz Onyszkiewicz said on 1 July that
Poland, Hungary, and the Czech Republic may be admitted to
NATO earlier than planned in order to allow Russian
President Boris Yeltsin to attend the alliance's 50th
anniversary celebrations in Washington, Reuters reported.
Because of Moscow's ardent opposition to NATO expansion,
Onyszkiewicz said it would be difficult for Yeltsin to
attend the 26 April summit if formal accession ceremonies
took place. The Polish newspaper "Zycie" suggested that the
aspiring countries could be admitted as early as January. PB

CZECH GOVERNMENT ORDERS REASSESSMENT OF TEMELIN PROJECT. The
government on 1 July decided to hire a team of local and
foreign experts to reassess the construction of the
controversial Temelin nuclear power plant, in southern
Bohemia, CTK and Reuters reported. The government expressed
dissatisfaction at the growing costs of and repeated delays
in completing construction at Temelin. Industry and Trade
Minister Karel Kuhnl told journalists that the cabinet wants
the experts to recommend whether the construction should be
continued, halted temporarily, or abandoned altogether. The
state-controlled power company CEZ estimates the plant will
cost $3 billion. Austria opposes the completion of the
Soviet-designed facility, which is some 70 kilometers from
its border. MS

SLOVAK OPPOSITION APPEALS TO CONSTITUTIONAL COURT. The
Slovak opposition parties on 1 July asked the Constitutional
Court in Kosice to rule ahead of the 25-26 September
elections whether an amendment to the election law passed by
the parliament in May contravenes the country's basic law,
RFE/RL's Bratislava bureau reported. The opposition says the
amendment disadvantages smaller parties by establishing a
threshold of 5 percent for each party running in an
alliance. It also says the provisions including state
officials in election commissions and allowing the Supreme
Court to reconsider the Central Electoral Commission's
decisions also contravene the constitution. Also on 1 July,
the parliament approved an amendment to the law on local
elections, while the opposition Slovak Democratic Coalition
said it will examine the amendment to establish whether it
is in keeping with the constitution. MS

NEW CABINET'S ATTITUDE TO MINORITIES CRITICIZED IN HUNGARY.
Csaba Tabajdi, outgoing political state secretary at the
Prime Minister's Office in charge of minority affairs, has
said he is concerned about the new cabinet's program on
minorities in Hungary as well as ethnic Hungarians abroad.
He told journalists on 1 July that the program is a "step
backward" in terms of political autonomy for minorities as
it lists the Roma population not as a minority group but as
"socially handicapped" people. According to Tabajdi, that
designation implies some kind of "assimilation drive". He
observed that the minority issue is important for the new
government only inasmuch as it serves the cause of ethnic
Hungarians abroad. MSZ

SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE

U.S. CONTINUES DIPLOMATIC OFFENSIVE OVER KOSOVA... State
Department spokesman James Rubin said on 1 July that U.S.
officials are continuing talks with officials of the Kosova
Liberation Army (UCK) in an effort to bring about a cease-
fire by talking to those who are fighting, VOA reported. He
added that talks with the UCK are a "practical matter" and
do not constitute formal recognition of the guerrillas.
Rubin stressed that Washington still regards shadow-state
President Ibrahim Rugova as the legitimate Kosovar leader.
Rubin added that U.S. diplomats, including Ambassador to the
UN Richard Holbrooke, will continue to be "engaged in an
intensive effort...for some time." U.S. special envoy Robert
Gelbard will visit Bosnia later this week, and U.S.
Ambassador to Macedonia Christopher Hill goes to Albania.
Russian and EU officials have stressed recently that only
Rugova can represent the Kosovars internationally. PM

...BUT SHIFTS STANCE. Rubin also said on 1 July that
Washington no longer insists on an immediate withdrawal of
Serbian forces from Kosova. He added that a cease-fire must
precede a withdrawal "as a practical matter." Observers
noted that this new position corresponds to the view of
Belgrade and Moscow that Serbia cannot withdraw its forces
as long as an armed insurgency is in progress. Elsewhere,
State Department officials said that at least 88,000
Kosovars are now homeless, AP reported. Of these, 60,000 to
85,000 remain in Kosova, 15,000 are in Montenegro, and
13,000 have crossed into Albania. PM

ALBANIAN FOREIGN MINISTER CALLS FOR 'REALISM' IN KOSOVA...
Paskal Milo told a press conference in Tirana on 1 June that
many Albanians confuse their desire for Kosova's
independence with political realities. He stressed that
Albania is part of the international community and has to
respect the inviolability of international borders. Milo
added that Albania is continuing to work for a peaceful
solution to the Kosova conflict, which, he said, will take
time. He warned, however, that time is running out and that
negotiations will have to start next week or else the armed
conflict could spread further. FS

...WANTS KOSOVARS TO HAVE JOINT NEGOTIATOR. Milo said that
the UCK has become an important factor in determining
developments in Kosova and must be part of negotiations,
along with Rugova. Milo added that the UCK is not a
terrorist group but consists of people defending their homes
in the face of massacres by Serbian forces. Milo called on
all political forces in Kosova, including the UCK, to
appoint a joint "authorized and competent" negotiator for
talks with Belgrade. It was unclear if he meant one person
or a team, such as the one that Rugova appointed in March
(see "RFE/RL Newsline," 25 March 1998). FS

KOSOVAR POLITICIANS FAIL TO AGREE ON UCK ROLE. Established
political leaders reached no agreement in Prishtina on 1
July on how to integrate the UCK into political structures,
RFE/RL's South Slavic Service reported. Rugova and his
Democratic League of Kosova (LDK) want to convene the LDK-
controlled shadow-state parliament so that it can "provide
sponsorship" for the LDK. Opposition parties want to set up
a new National Council that would represent politically the
UCK. Amid the growing violence in recent weeks, the leading
role of the moderate LDK has been under challenge from Adem
Demaci of the Parliamentary Party and other radical
politicians, who seek recognition for themselves as the
political wing of the increasingly influential UCK. PM

KINKEL SAYS INTERVENTION A MATTER OF 'WEEKS, MONTHS.' German
Foreign Minister Klaus Kinkel said on 1 July that the
Kosovars should "not be under any illusions" that NATO will
intervene to stop the violence at any time soon. He added
that any military intervention in Kosova could be a matter
of "weeks or months" because of opposition from Russia and
China, the "Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung" wrote. Kinkel
suggested that "an appropriate means to contain the
conflict" could be to send an OSCE observer mission to
Kosova. Such missions, however, proved totally ineffective
in the Croatian and Bosnian conflicts, where locals dubbed
them "ice-cream men" because of their ineffectiveness and
their white uniforms and vehicles. PM

SERBS RELY EVER MORE ON ARMY. The Yugoslav army has recently
become more active in the interior of Kosova, the
"Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung" wrote on 2 July, citing
unnamed Western diplomatic sources in Belgrade. Previously,
the army limited its activities largely to the border region
with Albania. Meanwhile in the Drenica region, UCK fighters
regrouped following their loss of the coal mine at Belacevac
(see "RFE/RL Newsline," 1 July 1998). Elsewhere, fighting
continued around the besieged Serbian-held town of Kijeva,
which Holbrooke recently called "the most dangerous place in
Europe." PM

UN INVESTIGATES ALLEGED PROSTITUTION RING. UN police
spokesmen said in Sarajevo on 1 July that they have launched
an investigation into charges that Bosnian Serb police are
running an organized prostitution ring involving women from
Eastern Europe and the former USSR. In Zagreb, customs
officials found 16 tons of marijuana in two ship containers
during a routine inspection. A police spokesman said that
one man was arrested and added that this is the single
largest drug bust in Europe this year. Also in Zagreb, the
government has approved a program for the restructuring of
Croatian Railways, according to which 7,000 workers will
lose their jobs, "Jutarnji list" wrote on 2 July. PM

INTELLIGENCE SERVICE CANNOT REVEAL DEPUTIES LINKS TO FORMER
SECURITATE. Responding to the Chamber of Deputies'
resolution of 29 June, Romanian Intelligence Service
director Costin Georgescu on 1 July told the parliamentary
commission supervising the service's activities that under
existing legislation, the service is prohibited from making
public the links of parliamentary deputies to the former
secret police. In order for the chamber's request to be met,
legislation prohibiting the disclosure of information from
Securitate files for 40 years since the legislation's
enactment would have to be changed, RFE/RL's Bucharest
bureau reported. MS

ITALIAN FOREIGN MINISTER IN ROMANIA. Lamberto Dini on 1 July
met with his Romanian counterpart, Adrian Plesu, to discuss
bilateral relations, Italian support for Romania's quest to
accede to NATO, and the conflict in Kosova, RFE/RL's
Bucharest bureau reported. Dini said that the Kosova
Albanians' demands for full independence may result in a war
affecting the entire region. Both he and Plesu advocated a
"large [measure of] autonomy" for the Kosova Albanians
within Yugoslavia's existing borders. Dini was also received
by Premier Radu Vasile and by the chairmen of the two houses
of the parliament, Petre Roman and Ion Diaconescu. MS

LUCINSCHI ON TRANSDNIESTER CONFLICT. President Petru
Lucinschi on 30 June told the OSCE Secretary-General
Giancarlo Aragona that Moldova is willing to solve the
conflict with the Transdniester by granting the separatist
region a special status with a large degree of autonomy,
BASA-press reported the next day. He said this position
coincides with that of the OSCE and the two mediating
countries, Russia and Ukraine. He also said Moldova "counts"
on OSCE support in its quest to solve the conflict. Aragona
is participating in a OSCE-organized seminar on relations
between central and local authorities. Separatist leader
Igor Smirnov declined an invitation to attend the seminar.
He wrote to OSCE mission chief in Moldova John Evans that
"Moldova is not a central authority" for the Transdniester
region. MS

AGREEMENT ON REDUCTION OF FORCES IN TRANSDNIESTER BUFFER
ZONE. The Joint Control Commission supervising the truce in
the buffer zone announced on 2 July that the two conflicting
sides will each reduce their number of "truce observers" by
500 over the next weeks, Infotag and BASA-press reported. At
present, there are some 800 Moldovan, 900 Transdniestrian,
and 500 Russian troops in the zone. The agreement is in line
with the accord signed last March in Odessa by Lucinschi,
Smirnov, and Russian President Boris Yeltsin. MS

SLOVENIAN PRESIDENT IN BULGARIA. Janez Drnovsek, on the
second day of an official visit to Sofia, told journalists
in Varna on 1 July that Bulgaria could become "Slovenia's
bridge" to other countries and regions, an RFE/RL
correspondent in the Bulgarian capital reported. Prime
Minister Ivan Kostov praised Slovenia's backing of
Bulgaria's drive to join the Central European Free Trade
Agreement. Last week, Bulgarian officials said Sofia will
join CEFTA in mid-July. Drnovsek and Kostov signed four
accords, including a memorandum on mutual protection of
investments and an agreement on transport links between
their countries. Drnovsek discussed the conflict in Kosova
with both Kostov and President Petar Stoyanov. Drnovsek said
both sides, but particularly Belgrade, must accept the need
for a compromise solution. Stoyanov said a new embargo
against Yugoslavia will be detrimental to reform in the
entire region. MS

END NOTE

MOLDOVA, UKRAINE SQUABBLE OVER OIL TERMINAL

by Stefan Korshak

	Plans to build an oil transfer terminal in Moldova are
stirring opposition in Ukraine, which is worried about an
adverse environmental impact.
	The $38 million project is scheduled for completion
next year. The European Bank of Reconstruction and
Development (EBRD) is providing a $25.5 million credit for
the construction of the terminal, which will allow Moldova
to transfer petroleum to and from tankers plying the Danube,
bringing considerable savings for the small landlocked
country.
	"This is just the kind of project we need," noted
Moldova Deputy Premier Minister Ion Gutsu at a recent EBRD
conference. "It will create critical infrastructure...and
enable our economy to grow."
	But Ukraine sees the terminal in a very different
light. "Our experts recently went to the site and inspected
the project," Odessa Regional Administration spokesman Yuri
Shiroparov told RFE/RL. "And they found many things wrong
with it."
	Situated on the Danube's left bank south of the
village of Dzhurdzhulesht and snug up against the Ukrainian
border, the terminal could transfer 2.1 million tons of oil
annually, giving Moldova an alternative to Russian energy
deliveries.
	Ukraine has no problem with that. But Kyiv is arguing
that because the terminal is only a few kilometers upstream
in the middle of Europe's largest wetland, the project
endangers the environment. "One of the most important
problems our experts found is that [the terminal] threatens
our ecology and vulnerable wetlands," Shiroparov said. "We
need to make sure that our interests are protected."
	The Danube Commission, composed of representatives
from countries bordering the river, could have been a forum
to iron out differences about the environmental impact of
development in the basin. This proved, however, not to be
the case.
	The Ukrainians charge that the Moldovans may have
misled them and brought to near-completion a major
industrial project without providing full information on the
scope of the work.
	But Moldovan project managers counter that Kyiv has
had ample opportunities to learn about the Dzhudzhulesht
Terminal, as far back as 1994.
	"Ukrainian and Moldovan commissioners met in Chisinau
on 3 November 1994 to discuss the problems of the terminal,"
said Deputy General Director of the Terminal S.A., Yakov
Mogorian, in a recent newspaper article. "Results of [an
independent Dutch] study were presented in Chisinau on 9
December 1994...[and] on 23 November the Moldovan side
invited [Ukrainian ecological representatives]...but no one
came and no one made any comments."
	There were several permutations of the project before
it was finalized into a Greek/Moldovan/EBRD joint venture.
The first funds were obtained in late 1996, and by 1997
Dutch general contractor Fredric R. Harris had begun
construction.
	Kyiv demands now that Harris's blueprints be approved
by its Ministry of Ecological Protection. Protests have been
made to the Danube Commission and, more recently, Ukraine
has tightened border control near the frontier town of Reni.
Dotted with woodlands, lakes, and swamps, the Danube
frontier near Reni and Dzhurdzhulesht used to be a place
where hunters could shoot ducks and fishermen hook pike,
without too much attention paid to passports. Not any more.
	"The Ukrainian border troops' defensive works and
barbed wire opposite the terminal construction site are more
intense than what you would see on the Tajik-Afghan border,"
said Mogorian. And there is little prospect that the dispute
will end any time soon.

The author is an RFE/RL correspondent based in Kyiv.

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