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RFE/RL NEWSLINE

RFE/RL NEWSLINE Vol. 2, No. 117 Part II, 19 June 1998


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RFE/RL NEWSLINE Vol. 2, No. 117 Part II, 19 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

* LUKASHENKA MAKES FOREIGN DIPLOMATS GUESTS IN THEIR OWN
HOMES

* BELGRADE REJECTS CONTACT GROUP'S DEMAND

* KOSOVAR PRIME MINISTER PLEDGES ORGANIZED RESISTANCE
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EAST-CENTRAL EUROPE

LUKASHENKA MAKES FOREIGN DIPLOMATS GUESTS IN THEIR OWN
HOMES... The row over foreign diplomats' residences at the
Drazdy compound, near Minsk, took a new twist on 18 June
when Belarusian President Alyaksandr Lukashenka revoked the
eviction order and declared that the entire compound is the
"residence of the President of the Republic of Belarus."
Deputy Foreign Minister Mikalay Buzo said the foreign
diplomats living at Drazdy can be considered "guests of the
head of the state. ...They will receive passes and be
allowed to enter the territory, but they will have to comply
with the special security rules of a presidential
residence," AFP reported. He added that the planned repairs
of the utility systems will be continued and that "those who
do not wish to move out will suffer a lot of
inconveniences," according to ITAR-TASS. JM

...LOCKS THEM OUT OF COMPOUND. Reuters reports that the
Belarusian authorities locked foreign diplomats out of the
Drazdy compound on 19 June. An anonymous Western diplomat
told the agency that only the French ambassador, who was
riding a motorcycle, was allowed into the compound, while
other ambassadors had to return to the city center after
waiting one hour outside the locked gate. The news agency
adds that police checkpoints have been set up 1 kilometer
before the compound and only those who have special passes
are allowed through. JM

KUCHMA TO STEER ECONOMY BY DECREE. In a address on
nationwide television on 18 June, Ukrainian President Leonid
Kuchma announced he will issue a package of economic decrees
to steer the country out of its financial crisis. Kuchma
harshly criticized the "paralyzed" parliament for its
inability to elect a speaker and address legislative tasks.
"I am taking responsibility on myself...to issue the
necessary decrees," he was quoted by Reuters as saying.
Kuchma's aide told the news agency that there are 15
documents to be signed by the president in the next few
days. The decrees are expected to lower the current 20
percent value-added tax, simplify tax procedures for small
business, and introduce a fixed tax rate on agricultural
products. The government is currently negotiating a $2.5
billion loan from the IMF and plans to lay off 112,000 state
employees by year's end. JM

UKRAINIAN ARMY UNPREPARED FOR ANNOUNCED REDUCTION. A
Ukrainian Defense Minister official has told ITAR-TASS that
the armed forces are unprepared for the troop cuts announced
by Kuchma earlier this week. Under Kuchma's decree, the
number of conscripts to be slashed from 80,000 in 1997 to
50,000 this year in order to reduce the military's
expenditures and put its strength at the level of "necessary
sufficiency." In addition, the 350,000-strong army is to be
cut by 17,000 servicemen by year's end. JM

NATO CHIEF URGES LATVIA TO CHANGE CITIZENSHIP LAW... NATO
Secretary-General Javier Solana has urged Latvia to adopt
amendments to its citizenship law in the third and final
reading, saying that countries must meet political as well
as military standards to qualify for membership in the
alliance, BNS reported on 18 June. Solana was speaking at a
press conference after talks with Latvian Prime Minister
Guntars Krasts in Riga. At the same press conference,
Foreign Minister Valdis Birkavs said he is convinced NATO's
door will remain open but that Latvia will have to work very
hard to make its armed forces compatible with NATO's.
Recently, the government announced that the defense budget
will be increased to 1 percent of GDP next year and to 2
percent by 2003. JC

...WELCOMES LITHUANIA'S PLANS TO INCREASE DEFENSE BUDGET.
The previous day in Vilnius, Solana welcomed the Lithuanian
government's plans to allocate 2 percent of GDP for defense
needs in 2000, BNS reported. "This will approach the indices
in many European countries and this is good news," Solana
said at a news conference. In talks with President Valdas
Adamkus, Solana discussed the recent visit to Vilnius by
Russian Foreign Minister Yevgenii Primakov, who had stressed
Moscow's opposition to the Baltic States' possible
membership in NATO. Solana, for his part, sounded the
familiar refrain that "NATO expansion is continuing." Solana
is due to wrap up his tour of the Baltic States in Tallinn
on 19 June. JC

POLISH TRAIN DRIVERS STEP UP PROTEST. Fifty percent of
passenger trains and 70 percent of freight trains were
halted in Poland on 18 June as a result of the ongoing
strike by train drivers. PAP reported that the Train Drivers
Trade Union ordered a sit-in at engine depots the same day.
Meanwhile, Deputy Prime Minister Leszek Balcerowicz said the
government will not increase train drivers' wages because
their demands are "unrealistic" and would entail increasing
taxes, "Zycie Warszawy" reported on 19 June. The Polish
State Railroads has threatened to sack strikers and demand
compensation from them if their strike is declared illegal
by the Warsaw Voivodship Court. JM

WARSAW APPEALS COURT TO SCREEN STATE OFFICIALS. The lower
house of the parliament on 18 June voted by 242 to 148 with
19 abstentions to empower the Warsaw Appeals Court to
investigate whether state officials collaborated with the
communist-era secret police. That decision revives a one-
year-old law that never took effect because not enough
judges volunteered to sit on a 21-member screening panel
provided for by the law. The bill must still be approved by
the upper house and signed by the president. Under the
screening law, public office holders, judges, prosecutors,
and candidates for public offices in Poland are obliged to
submit written declarations on whether they were secret
police agents. Those declarations may subsequently be
checked by the Warsaw Appeals Court, following a request
from a so-called public interest spokesman, for which the
new version of the law provides. JM

POLISH PARLIAMENT CONDEMNS COMMUNIST RULE. Nine years after
the overthrow of communist rule in Poland, the parliament on
18 June passed a much-disputed resolution condemning the
"communist dictatorship imposed on Poland with force and
against the nation's will by the Soviet Union and Joseph
Stalin." The resolution holds the former Polish United
Workers Party responsible for the "many crimes and offenses"
of the past and stresses that Poland's former system "was
maintained by means of force, lies, and the threat of Soviet
intervention and served to secure foreign interests." The
bill, which the post-communist Democratic Left Alliance
voted against, is seen by many Solidarity politicians as
moral compensation for the communist-era repression of pro-
democracy activists in Poland. JM

DOES ZEMAN WANT CZECH PREMIERSHIP? Presidential adviser Jiri
Pehe told state radio on 18 June that the leader of the
Social Democratic Party (CSSD), Milos Zeman, has changed his
mind about not wanting to become prime minister. Pehe was
commenting on a letter recently written by Czech President
Vaclav Havel to the chairman of the Civic Democratic Party
(OSD), Vaclav Klaus, in which Havel said Zeman does not want
the premiership and has told him he is "too tired" for the
job. The letter was broadcast on 17 June by Nova TV. Zeman
himself acknowledged he told Havel three months ago that he
was "tired and exhausted" but said he is now prepared to
form the government if the CSSD wins the elections, CTK
reported. MS

VAN DEN BROEK CRITICIZES SLOVAK DEMOCRACY RECORD. European
Commissioner Hans van den Broek, addressing the Civil
Society Development Foundation in Bratislava on 18 June,
said that Slovakia's record on democracy is raising concerns
and that the EU expects to see "substantial progress" by the
end of 1998, when it will issue a report on candidates for
accession to the organization. He told the foundation, which
was set up with EU support, that the main concerns are that
legislation ensuring free and fair elections is passed and
the free use of minority languages guaranteed. Van den Broek
also criticized the "institutional vacuum" that has existed
since March owing to the failure to elect a president to
replace Michal Kovac, Reuters reported. MS

HUNGARIAN PRESIDENT NOMINATES NEW PRIME MINISTER. At the 18
June inaugural session of the new parliament, President
Arpad Goncz designated Viktor Orban, chairman of the
Federation of Young Democrats-Hungarian Civic Party (FIDESZ-
MPP), as premier. Orban said it will take two or three weeks
to draw up a new coalition government. Goncz recommended
that the new government adopt a careful approach to its
economic policies in order to preserve the country's
achievements to date. The same day, the parliament elected
Janos Ader of FIDESZ-MPP as its new chairman and Socialist
Katalin Szili, Independent Smallholder Geza Gyimothy and
Free Democrat Ferenc Wekler as deputy chairmen. MSZ

SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE

BELGRADE REJECTS CONTACT GROUP'S DEMAND. Yugoslav Foreign
Minister Zivadin Jovanovic said in Brussels on 18 June that
his government is willing to resume talks with Kosovar
leaders but without international mediation. He rejected the
key demand of the Contact Group that Serbia withdraw its
security forces from Kosova. Jovanovic said that Serbia has
the right to station forces on its own territory and that
security troops are needed in the troubled province, the
"Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung" reported. Fehmi Agani, who
heads the Kosovar negotiating team for talks with the Serbs,
told the Belgrade daily "Danas" that there can be no talks
unless Serbia withdraws its security forces and accepts
international monitoring of the situation. PM

GELBARD CALLS MILOSEVIC OFFER 'RED HERRING.' Robert Gelbard,
the U.S.'s special envoy for the former Yugoslavia, said in
Washington on 18 June that Yugoslav President Slobodan
Milosevic's recent offer to reopen talks with the Kosovars
is a "red herring" because it was the Kosovars who broke off
the previous negotiations in response to Milosevic's use of
armed violence in the province. Gelbard called the Kosovars'
attitude "understandable." Meanwhile in London, Amnesty
International said that relatives are searching for some 150
missing ethnic Albanians in Kosova. The statement added that
the organization is investigating reports of Serbian forces
systematically looting and setting fire to homes of Kosovars
who have fled to Albania or Montenegro. PM

RUSSIA SEEKS TO PIN DOWN MILOSEVIC. Sergei Kislyak, who is
Russia's permanent representative to NATO, told a special
meeting of the NATO-Russia Permanent Joint Council in
Brussels on 18 June that Deputy Foreign Minister Nikolai
Afanasevskii will soon go to Belgrade to obtain from
Milosevic a detailed plan for implementing the pledges he
recently made to President Boris Yeltsin (see "RFE/RL
Newsline," 17 June 1998). The minister will then go on to
Prishtina, and a second Russian envoy will visit Tirana and
Skopje to discuss the Kosova crisis. PM

KOSOVAR PRIME MINISTER PLEDGES ORGANIZED RESISTANCE. The
government of the Kosovar shadow-state and representatives
of five Kosovar political parties met in Tirana on 18 June
and agreed to appoint "people with full executive authority"
to organize self-defense in those districts under attack by
Serbian security forces, the Kosovar news agency KIC
reported. This is the first time that the shadow-state
government, which favors non-violence, has announced efforts
aimed at resisting the Serbian forces. Spokesmen for the
Kosova Liberation Army (UCK) have repeatedly called the
shadow-state authorities defeatist and ineffective for
shunning armed resistance. The Serbian armed crackdown has
swelled the ranks of the UCK and given rise to the slogan
among ordinary Kosovars that "we are all UCK." In Kosova,
there was continued fighting in the western region between
Gjakova and the Albanian border, KIC reported. FS/PM

U.S. WARNS UCK AGAINST NEW OFFENSIVE. State Department
spokesman James Rubin said in Washington on 18 June that the
UCK will be playing into Milosevic's hands if it launches
fresh attacks on Serbian forces. "We are aware that the
Kosova Liberation Army is promising another offensive [that
will] make, in our view, the situation even worse. That is a
sure-fire way to give President Milosevic another pretext to
kill innocent Albanians, and the Kosova Liberation Army
should think about that. The ball is in President
Milosevic's court to create the conditions that will allow
serious negotiations to begin." Rubin added that there is a
danger that "radical Islamic elements" from Iran,
Afghanistan, or other Muslim countries could join the
fighting in Kosova, but he stressed that there is no
evidence that they have done so. Many Kosovars are Muslim,
but both the shadow state and the UCK are secular in
orientation. PM

FRANCE SAYS KOSOVAR INDEPENDENCE POSSIBLE. Rubin also said
in Washington on 18 June that "we support enhanced autonomy
[for Kosova], but people are deluding themselves if they
think that they are going to achieve independence." In
Paris, however, Defense Minister Alain Richard noted that
Milosevic may be deluding himself if he thinks he "can
maintain a unified Serbia with a [Kosova] that is merely
autonomous. This is an extremely dangerous period for Mr.
Milosevic...because, if he continues like this, in three
months or six months, we will no longer be able to discuss
merely autonomy." Independence is the officially stated goal
of the shadow state and the UCK. Representatives of the
international community have repeatedly told the Kosovars
that the only acceptable solution is some form of autonomy
within federal Yugoslavia. PM

ALBANIAN PRESIDENT CALLS FOR END TO "ETHNIC CLEANSING."
Visiting Kosovar refugees in the northern city of Bajram
Curri on 18 June, Rexhep Meidani said that "we have to stop
the bloodshed, genocide, and ethnic cleansing by any
[possible] means." He added that if Milosevic does not take
part in serious negotiations with shadow-state President
Ibrahim Rugova, NATO should carry out air raids on Serbia
without UN approval. He added that force "is the only
language Milosevic understands." Meidani, together with U.S.
ambassador Marisa Lino and OSCE ambassador Daan Everts,
visited the city's hospital, a new refugee camp at Qafe
Molle near the border with Kosova, and a family that is
hosting 50 refugees in its house. A high-ranking government
delegation accompanied Meidani to assess the situation and
coordinate relief efforts between civilian and military
authorities. FS

ALBANIA PROTESTS BORDER SHOOTING. A Foreign Ministry
official on 18 June handed over to the Yugoslav charge d'
affaires a note protesting the recent killing of an Albanian
citizen by a Serbian sniper inside Albanian territory (see
"RFE/RL Newsline," 17 June 1998). The statement said that
"such adventurous acts must be stopped, or they could have
grave consequences." The official Yugoslav news agency
Tanjug denied the Albanian charges and reported that the man
was killed when he tried to enter Yugoslav territory. On 17
June, BBC television broadcast footage that substantiated
the Albanian position. Meanwhile in Belgrade, some 250
parents of conscripts staged a protest to demand that the
army return their sons from Kosova. PM

ALBANIA STARTS AIR FORCE EXERCISES. The Albanian air force
began air maneuvers at Tirana airport on 19 June in a show
of force in reaction to several recent violations of
Albanian airspace by Yugoslav aircraft. The force has 12
airplanes of the types MiG-17, MiG-19, and MiG-21.
Elsewhere, Albanian customs officials in Durres told
journalists on 18 June that they had seized a truck carrying
smuggled weapons from Ancona on 11 June. The arms included
30 automatic guns, a sniper, 30 antitank launchers, maps,
and communications equipment. FS

CROATIAN WAR CRIMES SUSPECT BACK IN ZAGREB. Dinko Sakic, the
commander of the World War II concentration camp at
Jasenovac, arrived in Zagreb on 18 June following his
extradition from Argentina, where he has lived for over 50
years. He will face war crimes charges in conjunction with
the deaths of thousands of Serbs, Jews, and Roma at the
camp. Sakic maintains that no one died of anything other
than natural causes during his tenure at Jasenovac. PM

ROMANIAN HEALTH MINISTER REFUSES TO RESIGN... Francisc
Baranyi, who admits to having been forced to sign up as a
Securitate informer, is refusing to resign, despite Prime
Minister Radu Vasile's request that he do so. Baranyi said
on 18 June that he wants the premier to study his file and
witness the fact that he never informed on anyone. He added
that the decision on whether he will resign must be taken by
the leadership of the Hungarian Democratic Federation of
Romania, RFE/RL's Bucharest bureau reported. Government
spokesman Razvan Popescu said Vasile is sticking to his
position and wants all ministers to submit written
declarations on their past links with the former communist
secret police. MS

...AS SECURITATE LINKS CONTINUE TO DOMINATE PUBLIC DEBATE.
Transportation Minister Traian Basescu on 18 June said that
the reports he made to the Navrom maritime company during
the 12 years he was captain of a ship are "likely to have
been forwarded to the Securitate." Also on 18 June, Romanian
Information Service director Costin Georgescu said Greater
Romania Party leader Corneliu Vadim Tudor's written pledge
to act as an informer "does not figure" in his Securitate
file. At the same time, Georgescu refrained from saying the
pledge, published by the daily "Ziua," was a forgery, as
claimed by Tudor. MS

TURKISH PREMIER IN ROMANIA. Meeting in Bucharest on 18 June,
Mesut Yilmaz and his Romanian counterpart, Radu Vasile,
agreed that bilateral trade must increase from the $600
million to $1 billion over the next year. The two premiers
also discussed the crisis in Kosova, saying after their
meeting that they have "common views" on the ways to solve
the conflict and on other regional developments. Yilmaz is
scheduled to meet with President Emil Constantinescu on 19
June. MS

MOLDOVAN ENERGY CRISIS BRINGS PUBLIC TRANSPORT TO HALT. Half
of the Moldovan capital, Chisinau, was without electricity
for several hours on 17 June, causing trolley buses and
broadcasting to grind to a halt, RFE/RL's bureau reported
the next day. Ukraine, from where Moldova imports one third
of its electricity, suspended exports after one of its
reactors at Chornobyl was shut down earlier this week.
Moldova owes Ukraine $11 million for electricity supplies.
The energy crisis has been made worse by Gazprom's recent
decision to cut gas deliveries by 50 percent. BASA-press on
18 June reported that Prime Minister Ion Ciubuc has resumed
negotiations with the Tiraspol separatists on the price of
electricity supplies from the Transdniester. Tiraspol claims
Chisinau owes $19 million for deliveries, of which Ciubuc
promised to pay $10 million by 1 July. MS

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