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RFE/RL NEWSLINE

RFE/RL NEWSLINE Vol. 2, No. 118 Part II, 22 June 1998


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RFE/RL NEWSLINE Vol. 2, No. 118  Part II, 22 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

* FIVE EU COUNTRIES, U.S. RECALL AMBASSADORS TO MINSK

* SOCIAL DEMOCRATS WIN CZECH ELECTIONS

* PRIMAKOV BREAKS RANKS OVER KOSOVA

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EAST-CENTRAL EUROPE

BELARUS CUTS OFF UTILITIES AT DIPLOMATIC COMPOUND. Minsk
toughened its stance in the row over the Drazdy compound on
19 June by cutting off water, electricity, and telephone
services to diplomatic residences (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 19
June 1998). The police set up checkpoints at roads leading to
Drazdy and  are allowing only vehicles with special passes to
enter the compound. The authorities, however,  have made no
provision for issuing such passes,  U.S. State Department
spokesman James Rubin told a briefing in Washington on 19
June. JM

FIVE EU COUNTRIES, U.S. RECALL AMBASSADORS TO MINSK.
Ambassadors to Minsk from five EU countries--Britain, France,
Greece, Italy, and Germany--are to return home on 22 June for
consultations with their governments over Minsk's attempt to
evict them from their residences. Germany has taken a further
step by demanding that the Belarusian ambassador to Bonn
leave immediately, dpa reported. German Foreign Minister
termed Minsk's action in the Drazdy affair as "unprecedented
in the history of diplomacy" and said the Belarusian
government is "rapidly maneuvering itself into isolation." On
22 June, the U.S. announced it is also recalling its
ambassador for consultations. JM

RUSSIA TO LEAVE AMBASSADOR IN MINSK. Russian Foreign Minister
Yevgenii Primakov has said the Russian ambassador to Belarus
will not be recalled in connection with the conflict over the
Drazdy compound. "But of course we will react in some way,"
ITAR-TASS quoted him as saying. "Our Belarusian friends and
brothers are not acting via diplomatic means," he stated. JM

KUCHMA SIGNS SEVERAL EMERGENCY ECONOMIC DECREES. Following
his recent announcement on national television (see "RFE/RL
Newsline," 19 June 1998), the Ukrainian president has signed
several emergency economic decrees easing taxes and other
payments to the state, Interfax reported. Employers'
obligatory payment to a state fund for the consequences of
the Chornobyl accident has been reduced from 10 percent to 5
percent of the wage fund. A single tax on agricultural
produce replaces 10 such taxes. And 1.25 billion hryvni ($620
million) has been allocated to pay back wages, pensions, and
social benefits. JM

DONETSK MINERS DEMAND BACK WAGES. Following the Ukrainian
government's deal with the Dnipropetrovsk  to pay back wages
(see "RFE/RL Newsline," 18 June 1998), a group of miners in
Donetsk has begun picketing the oblast administration
building to demand payment of their outstanding wages. Coal
Industry Minister Serhiy Tulub has appealed to the miners to
end their protest, ITAR-TASS reported on 19 June. Meanwhile,
a Donetsk miners trade union has demanded that Tulub be held
responsible for issuing a directive to coal mining managers
to freeze funds allocated to pay overdue wages and benefits.
JM

NATO SECRETARY-GENERAL IN TALLINN. Javier Solana told
Estonian Prime Minister Mart Siimann in Tallinn on 19 June
that Estonia can best approach NATO by increasing its
military cooperation with other countries, BNS and dpa
reported. He also told Estonian leaders that a drive to
increase defense spending will not necessarily improve their
country's chance of joining the  alliance. "The main problem
is for you to develop your cooperation ability, language
[and] communication skills, and management techniques,"
Solana said.  The NATO chief was wrapping up a tour of all
three Baltic States (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 19 June 1998). JC

ULMANIS POSTPONES TRIP FOR DEBATE ON CITIZENSHIP LAW.
Latvian President Guntis Ulmanis has postponed his departure
for a NATO seminar in Vienna, saying he plans to be in Riga
on 22 July when the parliament discusses amendments to the
country's citizenship law, BNS reported. Ulmanis told U.S.
Undersecretary of State Strobe Talbott in a telephone
conversation on 19 June that he hopes lawmakers will approve
the amendments, which will ease restrictions on granting
citizenship to non-Latvians. JC

POLISH TRAIN DRIVERS SUSPEND STRIKE. The Trade Union of Train
Drivers on 20 June suspended its strike over pay increases
and early retirement (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 17 June 1998).
The government has agreed to review the wage scale for
railroad workers but refuses to discuss early retirement
plans. The 22 June "Zycie" reported  that the trade union
suspended the strike following government threats to resort
to mass layoffs if the protest is continued.  Normal railroad
traffic  is expected to be restored on 22 June. JM

POLISH PRESIDENT TO VETO BILL ON ADMINISTRATIVE REFORM.
Presidential aide  Danuta Hubner has said Aleksander
Kwasniewski will veto the bill on dividing the country into
15 administrative provinces. The upper house of the
parliament  amended the lower house's bill providing for 12
new provinces in Poland by increasing that figure to 15.
Hubner said the president supports  the opposition Democratic
Left Alliance's proposal to set up at least 16 provinces. If
Kwasniewski vetoes the bill, the Solidarity-led government
will suffer a serious setback in its drive for administrative
reform since it does not have the two-thirds parliamentary
majority necessary to override the presidential veto. JM

SOCIAL DEMOCRATS WIN CZECH ELECTIONS... The Social Democratic
Party (CSSD) will be the largest formation  in the new
Chamber of Deputies, having won 32.3 percent of the vote and
74 seats in the 200-strong chamber in the 19-20 June
elections, Reuters reported. The Civic Democratic Party (ODS)
came second with 27.7 percent and 63 seats, followed by the
Communist Party of Bohemia and Moravia (11 percent and 24
seats), the Christian Democrats (KDU-CSL, 9 percent and 20
seats) and the Freedom Union (8.6 percent and 19 seats). The
far-right Republican Party (3.9 percent) and the Pensioners'
Party (3 percent) will not be represented in the chamber. MS

...BUT MAY BE UNABLE TO FORM COALITION.  "Mlada Fronta Dnes"
on 21 June noted that CSSD chairman Milos Zeman "has most of
the votes but has not won."  Observers doubt the CSSD will be
able to form a coalition, for which it would need the support
of the KDU-CSL and the Freedom Union. Zeman said the same day
that  he will let the party decide whether it should form a
coalition with the KDU-CSL and the Freedom Union, but he
added that he is not in favor of a coalition with the Freedom
Union. Freedom Union leader  Jan Ruml, for his part,  has
ruled out a coalition with the CSSD, while KDU-CSL leader
Josef Lux is opposed to a  coalition with the CSSD alone,
since the government would depend on the backing of the
Communists. Both ODS leader Vaclav Klaus and Zeman have ruled
out a "grand coalition." President Vaclav Havel on 22 June
begins consultations with the leaders of the parties that
gained entry to the new parliament. MS

SLOVAKIA'S ETHNIC HUNGARIAN PARTIES MERGE. Slovakia's three
ethnic Hungarian parties formally merged on 21 June to form
the Hungarian Coalition Party. Bela Bugar of the Hungarian
Christian Democratic Movement was elected chairman of the new
party, and Miklos Duray of the Co-existence Party  honorary
chairman. The congress also decided that the former Hungarian
Civic Party will name an executive deputy chairman. That post
is likely to be filled by Laszlo Nagy, whose resignation last
week as chairman of the Hungarian Civic Party was rejected by
the formation's presidium, RFE/RL's Bratislava bureau
reported. MS

HUNGARY'S FREE DEMOCRATS ELECT NEW LEADER. The 20 June
extraordinary congress of the Alliance of Free Democrats
(SZDSZ) elected Balint Magyar as the party's new chairman,
Hungarian media reported. Magyar said the party's structure
and political style must be renewed in order to make the
SZDSZ a strong liberal party. He said entering a coalition
with the Socialist Party was the right decision but that the
SZDSZ's mistake was its inability to change  its political
strategy when it realized that it could not implement its own
principles. Commenting on the composition of the newly
elected executive body of the party, Ferenc Koszeg, a founder
of the party, said the SZDSZ  has rewarded those who are
responsible for unsuccessful policies. MSZ

SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE

PRIMAKOV BREAKS RANKS OVER KOSOVA. Russian Foreign Minister
Yevgenii Primakov told Russian Television on 21 June that
Belgrade cannot withdraw its forces from Kosova unless there
is a decrease in "terrorist activity." Local Serbs would
regard a withdrawal "right now" as a sign to leave, and the
result would be "a stream of Serbian refugees," he said.
Primakov stressed that the Kosovars must stop resorting to
violence and that talks between the Serbian government and
representatives of Kosovar political parties must begin at
once. The Contact Group foreign ministers, including
Primakov, have repeatedly said in joint declarations that
Serbia must withdraw its forces immediately from Kosova.
Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic told Russian President
Boris Yeltsin in Moscow last week that he cannot withdraw his
forces without a decrease in "terrorism." At the time, U.S.
Secretary of State Madeleine Albright warned Milosevic not to
exploit differences between individual Contact Group
countries. PM

PRIMAKOV CLAIMS KEY ROLE... Primakov also told Russian
Television on 21 June that his country is playing an
influential role in ending the crisis in Kosova. He noted
that NATO aircraft on recent exercises stayed at least 100
kilometers from the Serbian frontier, not out of fear of the
Yugoslav defense system, as Milosevic claimed, but because
NATO promised Russia it would do so. Primakov noted that one
Russian deputy foreign minister left for Belgrade and
Prishtina on 21 June for talks and that another went on a
mission to Tirana and Skopje. PM

...CHIDES U.S. Primakov also blasted unnamed U.S. officials
"whose work directly involves Albania" for spreading "a false
report" from Kosovar refugees that Serbian forces recently
used a helicopter with Red Cross markings to attack refugees
(see "RFE/RL Newsline," 17 June 1998). He called Albright "a
sensible person" with whom he nonetheless has "some
differences.... I once told her, Russia has been involved in
the Balkans for 200 years, so how can you think we know the
situation there worse than you, the Americans?" Primakov
rejected Western calls for a meeting of representatives of
the Contact Group on 24 June and argued that the session
should be postponed for a week to see whether  Milosevic has
kept the promises he made to Yeltsin (see "RFE/RL Newsline,"
17 June 1998). PM

HOLBROOKE TO WARN MILOSEVIC. Albright told NBC Television on
21 June that Richard Holbrooke, the U.S. ambassador-designate
to the UN, will visit Belgrade in the next few days to
impress upon  Milosevic the importance of his meeting the
demands of the Contact Group, including the withdrawal of
Serbian forces from Kosova. PM

KOSOVAR POLITICIANS WANT CONTROL OVER UCK. Shadow-state
President Ibrahim Rugova said in Prishtina on 19 June that
the Kosova Liberation Army (UCK) must submit to the authority
of the political leadership. He added that the vast majority
of UCK fighters are ordinary citizens who want to defend
their homes and property, the "Frankfurter Allgemeine
Zeitung" reported. Prime Minister Bujar Bukoshi told the
Belgrade "Dnevni telegraf" of 22 June that "the armed
resistance of the UCK is a reality...and it is necessary to
place it under the control of political institutions [and]
bring the UCK into Kosova political life." Previously, the
Kosovar political leadership either made no reference to the
UCK or suggested it was invented by Serbian security services
to discredit the non-violent political leadership. In
Prishtina on 21 June, Parliamentary Party leader Adem Demaci
said his party wants to "serve as the political wing of the
UCK." PM

DESERTERS SAY TROOPS TOLD TO KILL CIVILIANS. Two Yugoslav
conscripts from Montenegro told Reuters in the Albanian town
of Bajram Curri on 21 June that they were ordered to kill
civilians. Fahrudin Muric and Fahrudin Avdic, whose names
suggest that they are Muslims from Sandzak, said they
deserted to the UCK five days earlier. The UCK then helped
them to flee to Albania and handed them over to the OSCE.
Muric quoted Yugoslav officers as telling troops that "it is
war and you have to kill civilians.... If you do not kill
them, they will kill you." Muric added that "I decided to
become a deserter because I did not want to kill people on
their doorstep." Avdic said: "We were told to catch everyone
who cannot defend themselves and then either kill them or
take them to prison." Meanwhile, an RFE/RL correspondent
reported from Podgorica on 22 June that two additional
Montenegrin conscripts have deserted to the UCK. FS

BATTERED KOSOVARS SENT TO SERBIA. Three buses containing
beaten or otherwise badly injured Kosovars passed through the
Sandzak town of Novi Pazar on 21 June en route to Serbia
proper, an RFE/RL correspondent reported from Prishtina,
citing eye-witness reports from Novi Pazar. Passers-by
noticed the ethnic Albanians when the buses stopped for
repairs. Police chased away onlookers who tried to approach
the Kosovars, whose hands were bound. PM

SERBIA KEEPS ALBANIAN FRONTIER CLOSED. Yugoslav troops over
the weekend continued to seal off the border with Albania in
the Tropoja region to prevent refugees from fleeing (see
"RFE/RL Newsline," 16 June 1998). A spokesman for the United
Nations High Commissioner for Refugees said in Geneva on 19
June "that does not mean, however, that people are no longer
attempting to flee the country." On 19 June, only 36 refugees
made it across the frontier on a mountain path, after waiting
two weeks to cross into Albania. Refugees who arrived in
Tropoja earlier in the week said that "thousands" of people
are still trapped inside Kosova. On 21 June, Reuters
journalists on the Albanian side of the border observed a
Serbian tank firing at a group of farmhouses near the border
crossing of Qafa e Morines and heavy exchanges of fire
throughout that day. FS

ALBANIAN LOCAL BY-ELECTIONS TAKE PLACE WITHOUT INCIDENT.
Albanians in seven municipalities and nine smaller
communities went to the polls on 21 June. The turnout was
only 35 percent in the southern city of Vlora but reached 85
percent in some other areas. About 100 OSCE and Council of
Europe monitors observed the voting. Results are expected on
22 June. Local government collapsed in the respective
communities and municipalities during unrest in February and
March 1997. Officials appointed from Tirana have been in
charge of those areas since mid-1997. FS

ROMANIAN HEALTH MINISTER RESIGNS. The leadership of the
Hungarian Democratic Federation of Romania (UDMR) on 20 June
accepted the resignation of Minister of Health Francisc
Baranyi, who earlier admitted having been forced to sign a
pledge to work as an informer for the communist secret
police. Baranyi said he was "a victim" rather than a
collaborator of the Securitate but has decided to "put UDMR
interests above my personal interests." The same day, Prime
Minister Radu Vasile announced all government members must
submit a written declaration saying whether they worked for
the Securitate. The leaderships of the National Peasant Party
Christian Democratic, the National Liberal Party, and the
Romanian Alternative party are to demand  that their leaders
and parliamentary representatives submit a similar
declaration. MS

HEAVY FLOODS IN ROMANIA. President Emil Constantinescu on 21
June cut short a visit to Austria and flew back to Bucharest
because of the heavy damage caused by floods in his country.
At least half of Romania's 41 counties are reported to be
affected by the floods, with most damage being registered in
Transylvania. Reuters reported on 19 June that the floods
have caused the death of 16 people, and at least  seven more
deaths were reported on 21 June. Prime Minister Radu Vasile
has visited the affected areas. MS

BULGARIAN PRESIDENT ON RELATIONS WITH YUGOSLAVIA. Petar
Stoyanov, in an interview with the Belgrade "Nin" magazine,
said his country follows closely developments in Kosova
"because it does not want to be a hostage of what is
happening in Yugoslavia," BTA reported on 19 June. Stoyanov
said internal developments in Yugoslavia "hinder bilateral
relations" at present. He added that the imposition of
sanctions on Serbia were "a severe blow" to Bulgarian
economic reform efforts and encouraged "arms trafficking and
black marketing.". Stoyanov said that for this reason,
Bulgaria opposes the sanctions and that the situation in
Kosova cannot be viewed as an internal Yugoslav problem alone
because it encourages "the bad image" of the Balkans as "a
region where political emotions run higher than they should."
MS

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