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RFE/RL NEWSLINE

RFE/RL NEWSLINE Vol. 2, No. 119 Part II, 23 June 1998


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RFE/RL NEWSLINE Vol. 2, No. 119 Part II, 23 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

* BELARUS TERMS RECALL OF AMBASSADORS 'ULTIMATUM'

* LATVIAN LAWMAKERS ADOPT CITIZENSHIP LAW AMENDMENTS

* ALBANIA'S NANO SAYS 'EVE OF WAR' WITH YUGOSLAVIA
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EAST-CENTRAL EUROPE

BELARUS TERMS RECALL OF AMBASSADORS 'ULTIMATUM.' In a
statement released on 22 June, the Belarusian Foreign
Ministry says the recall of six Western ambassadors from
Minsk (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 22 June 1998) is an
inadmissible "ultimatum" and an example of the EU's "double
standards" toward Belarus, Belapan reported. The ministry
accused the ambassadors of violating the Vienna Convention
on diplomatic relations by disobeying the laws of the
country of their residence. It stressed that the Belarusian
government gave the ambassadors sufficient notice to
relocate to other accommodation. And the ministry said that
Belarus remains "loyal to the principles of international
law and to existing agreements," while "defending the
sovereign right to manage its own territory, real estate,
and national resources." JM

RECALL OF AMBASSADORS FROM MINSK RECEIVES MORE SUPPORT...
The European Commission has announced it fully supports the
decision of EU governments to recall their ambassadors from
Minsk. A commission spokeswoman said on 22 June that the EU
mission head in Ukraine, who is also accredited to Belarus,
was advised against visiting that country. ITAR-TASS
reported that Japan and Lithuania have also recalled their
ambassadors to Belarus for consultations. A Polish Foreign
Ministry spokesman has said Poland is "strongly considering"
the recall of its ambassador, Reuters reported. Poland has
handed over a note protesting the eviction order and
demanding from Belarus compensation for the money it
invested in the Polish ambassador's residence at Drazdy. JM

...WHILE U.S., GERMANY GO ONE STEP FURTHER. The U.S. State
Department has asked Belarus not to send its ambassador, who
is currently in Belarus, back to Washington. "It is very
hard to have a serious discussion with [Belarusian
officials]," U.S. State Department spokesman James Rubin
commented on 22 June. But he added that the recall of the
U.S. ambassador from Belarus does not mean breaking off
diplomatic relations between the two countries. Germany,
too, has asked the Belarusian ambassador to Bonn to leave
immediately, dpa reported. JM

LUKASHENKA SAYS COMPROMISE OVER DIPLOMATIC ROW POSSIBLE. The
Belarusian president has suggested that a compromise in the
row over the recall of ambassadors from Minsk can be found.
Speaking on national television after an unexpected meeting
with CIS Executive Secretary Boris Berezovskii in Minsk on
22 June, Lukashenka said he is ready to conduct a dialogue
with the governments that have recalled their ambassadors.
"If the question is not political, but of an everyday-life
level, I am open to everybody," ITAR-TASS quoted Lukashenka
as saying. JM

IMF 'NEARLY AGREES' ON $2 BILLION LOAN TO UKRAINE. IMF
Deputy Managing Director Stanley Fischer said after a
meeting with Ukrainian President Leonid Kuchma in Kyiv on 22
June that Ukraine and the IMF "have nearly agreed on
launching a new credit program," Ukrainian Television
reported. Ukraine is currently negotiating a $2 billion loan
from the IMF to be issued over three years. Fischer said
there are still "some technical problems" and that the final
decision on the loan will be made in late July. But he
praised Ukraine's recent reform efforts and said he is
"surprised at the production growth in Ukraine achieved over
a very short period." JM

UKRAINIAN PREMIER OFFERS REGULAR PAYMENTS TO COAL INDUSTRY.
Valeriy Pustovoytenko on 22 June said that the government
can now make regular payments to the coal industry,
Ukrainian Radio reported. The premier announced that the
government allotted 9 million hryvni ($4.5 million) early
this week to pay wages for coal miners. The government has
also ordered that enterprises pay for no less than 60
percent of coal supplies in cash. Meanwhile, Mykhaylo
Volynets, leader of the Independent Trade Union of Coal
Miners, has accused the government of failing to meet its
former pledges to pay current wages, Ukrainian Television
reported. According to Volynets, miners at 20 coal mines are
still on strike over unpaid wages. JM

LATVIAN LAWMAKERS ADOPT CITIZENSHIP LAW AMENDMENTS... The
parliament on 22 June approved an amendment to the
citizenship law in the third and final reading whereby
citizenship will be granted to all children born to non-
citizens after 21 August 1991 if their parents request it.
In an emergency parliamentary session called by the
opposition Democratic Party Saimnieks, lawmakers voted by 54
to 14 to adopt the amendment. The parliament also voted to
abolish the so-called "naturalization windows," which placed
quotas on granting citizenship, and to simplify language
tests for people over 65. The OSCE had strongly recommended
that the parliament adopt those changes. Meanwhile, the For
Fatherland and Freedom party has collected the required
number of deputies' signatures to prevent the amendments
from going into force for two months. During that period, it
will seek to collect the signatures of 10 percent of voters
to hold a referendum on the amended law, Reuters reported.
JC

...WHILE PREMIER DOUBTS CHANGES WILL PROMOTE LATVIAN AMONG
NON-LATVIANS. Addressing lawmakers before the debate, Prime
Minister Guntars Krasts of the Fatherland and Freedom Party
said he doubted that the proposed amendments to the
citizenship law could promote mastery of the Latvian
language among non-Latvians. The prime minister urged the
parliament to carefully consider whether the automatic
extension of citizenship to children would stimulate them to
learn the state language. "If we amend the law but fail to
carry out a substantial reform of the educational system
with a view to increased degree of state language
protection, we may lose important instruments of
integration," Krasts said. Latvian President Guntis Ulmanis
told lawmakers that the citizenship law amendments should
serve to form a stable society. He underscored that
citizenship issues are closely related to the education and
language policy and that the task of the state is to ensure
everyone has the opportunity to learn the Latvian language.
JC

TURKEY PLEDGES TO APPROVE NATO EXPANSION. Turkish Defense
Minister Ismet Sezgin said in Warsaw on 22 June that Turkey
will soon ratify the agreement on NATO enlargement, which
will provide for the entry of Poland, Hungary, and the Czech
Republic. Sezgin made that statement following the signing
of a military cooperation agreement between Turkey and
Poland. The accord foresees an exchange of military cadets
and stipulates that each country send observers to monitor
the other's military exercises, "Turkish Daily News"
reported. JM

HAVEL ASKS ZEMAN TO FORM COALITION... President Vaclav Havel
on 22 June met with the leaders of the parties that won
parliamentary representation in the early elections several
days earlier, excluding the Communist Party of Bohemia and
Moravia. He asked the leader of the Social Democratic Party
(CSSD), Milos Zeman, to begin talks on forming a new
government, CTK reported. Havel said Zeman, whose party won
the largest number of seats in the Chamber of Deputies, must
win "the support and tolerance of other parties" in order to
succeed. MS

...BUT HIS CHANCES LOOK SLIM. The leader of the Civic
Democratic Party, Vaclav Klaus, said after the talks with
Havel that his party will not join a coalition headed by the
CSSD but is ready to try to form a coalition himself if
Zeman fails to do so. Freedom Union leader Jan Ruml repeated
that his party will not join a Zeman-led coalition.
Christian Democrat leader Josef Lux said a coalition of the
CSSD, the Freedom Union ,and his own party would be "the
most accurate reflection of the election results." MS

U.S. CRITICIZES SLOVAK ELECTION LAW. State Department
spokesman James Rubin on 22 June said the new election law
approved by the Slovak parliament last month "fails to meet
international standards and should be changed." Rubin said
major changes in the election process made only four months
before the scheduled ballot "create confusion and raise
doubts about the intention of the legislation," an RFE/RL
correspondent in Washington reported. He said that in its
current form, the law could result in "unfree and unfair
elections," not least because it increases the authority of
the Interior Ministry, which disrupted polling in two
referenda last year. MS

HUNGARY'S YOUNG DEMOCRATS, DEMOCRATIC FORUM SIGN COALITION
AGREEMENT. Prime Minister-designate Viktor Orban, chairman
of the Federation of Young Democrats-Hungarian Civic Party
(FIDESZ-MPP), and Hungarian Democratic Forum chairman Sandor
Lezsak signed a coalition agreement on 22 June. They
stressed that the two sides cooperated closely even before
the elections and that their plans are identical. According
to Orban, the coalition agreement is not only for the next
four years but for "several cycles". Also on 22 June,
FIDESZ-MPP agreed to let the Independent Smallholders' Party
nominate a joint candidate for the president of the republic
in the elections due in 2000, but reserved the right to veto
its choice. MSZ

SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE

ALBANIA'S NANO SAYS 'EVE OF WAR' WITH YUGOSLAVIA. Prime
Minister Fatos Nano said in Vienna on 22 June that "we
Albanians are at the moment on the eve of a war with another
nation, the Serbs, and it is not our fault. The Albanian
state and government has to face on its northeastern border
a situation of real war with all its consequences, victims,
economic damage, lots of refugees, and considerable increase
of defense costs." Nano noted that Serbia's "massacres" in
the province have led to "spontaneous resistance on the
ground." He added that he hopes the Kosovar political
leadership will open contacts to the armed resistance
groups, saying his government is trying to exert a
"moderating influence" on all factions in the province. Nano
called for Kosova to become a separate republic within the
Yugoslav federation but without the right of secession. PM

HOLBROOKE SAYS MILOSEVIC 'CANNOT PICK AND CHOOSE.' On the
eve of a trip to Belgrade, Prishtina, and Skopje by Richard
Holbrooke, who is the U.S. ambassador-designate to the UN, a
State Department spokesman warned Yugoslav President
Slobodan Milosevic that the demands of the international
Contact Group are a package "and not a menu from which you
can pick and choose." The spokesman said in Washington on 22
June that Milosevic "must not only follow through...on the
requirements to allow access for humanitarian organizations
in Kosova, but he also must pull back...the forces that have
been involved in the violence there." Holbrooke arrived in
Belgrade for talks with Milosevic on 23 June. PM

REHN CALLS FOR NATO INTERVENTION IN KOSOVA. Elisabeth Rehn,
the UN's special representative to Bosnia, said in Helsinki
on 22 June that Kosova "is ripe" for NATO intervention but
stressed that the Atlantic alliance must have a mandate from
the UN before it takes action. She warned that "human rights
are never [purely] the internal affair of any state." She
noted she is especially troubled by reports that Serbian
authorities have begun to place Kosovars in detention camps
but did not elaborate. Rehn added that she "hates violence"
and that "there has been too much violence" in Kosova
recently. She told the BBC that the UN-mandated
international action in the 1991 Gulf War is the proper
model for intervention in Kosova and that she is confident
that Russia will support such a formula. PM

NATO ABLE TO ACT 'WITHIN FOUR DAYS.' NATO Secretary-General
Javier Solana said in Vienna on 22 June that "time is
running out. As time goes by the radicalization of Kosova
will be dramatic. The international community has to act
rapidly." An unnamed NATO military official told Reuters
that the alliance is able to act "within four days" after
Western leaders make "the political decision" to intervene.
The official suggested that NATO will use air strikes rather
than ground troops and seek to bring the crisis to an end
quickly. PM

SERBIAN POLICE FIRE AT DANISH TV VEHICLE. A journalist for
Denmark's TV2 told BBC Television on 22 June that a Serbian
policeman stepped out of a ditch in the Gllogovc area and
fired point blank at the windshield of the clearly marked
Danish press vehicle. No one was injured. Serbian spokesmen
said in Prishtina that the policeman "acted out of fear,
[thinking he was] dealing with Albanian separatists." In
Tirana, two Montenegrin Muslim deserters from the Yugoslav
army arrived and will tell international experts what they
know about atrocities committed by Yugoslav troops in
Kosova, RFE/RL's South Slavic Service reported. And in
Podgorica, the Montenegrin government appealed for
international aid to help it provide for the more than
10,000 refugees from Kosova who have fled to Montenegro
since Milosevic launched his crackdown in February. PM

BOSNIA GETS NEW CURRENCY. The "convertible mark" went into
circulation throughout Bosnia on 22 June. Some 60 financial
institutions in 14 cities will exchange the new currency for
German marks at the rate of 1:1 and will maintain that rate
for the next six years, an RFE/RL correspondent reported
from Sarajevo. Within the first three hours after the
exchange offices opened in the mainly Croat and Muslim
federation, customers obtained some 5 million convertible
marks. The correspondent added, however, that the
introduction of the common currency "passed unnoticed" in
the Republika Srpska. Until now, the Bosnian dinar and
Croatian kuna have circulated in the federation, while the
Republika Srpska has used the Yugoslav dinar. The German
mark is also widely used throughout Bosnia and most of the
former Yugoslavia. PM

ALBANIAN GOVERNMENT COALITION CLAIMS VICTORY IN LOCAL
ELECTIONS. Speaking at a press conference in Tirana on 22
June, spokesmen for the Alliance for the State coalition,
which is led by the governing Socialists, claimed victory in
four out of the seven municipalities and six out of the nine
communities that held by-elections the previous day (see
"RFE/RL Newsline," 22 June 1998). The opposition Union for
Democracy, which is headed by the Democratic Party, is ahead
in only one municipality and three communities. Run-offs
will be held in Vlora and Roskovec on 28 June. The Alliance
for the State estimated voter turnout at some 50 percent,
"Gazeta Shqiptare" reported. FS

PARLIAMENTARY SPEAKER SAYS VOTE SHOWS GOVERNMENT STRENGTH.
Skender Gjinushi said in Tirana on 22 June that in the local
elections showed the governing coalition has "a strong base
of support [that will carry it through] until the next
parliamentary elections, in 2001." Socialist parliamentary
leader Pandeli Majko stressed that the coalition was able to
win "even in the most problematic corners of the country,
such as the [southern] municipalities of Patos, Roskovec,
and Ura Vajgurore," all of which were badly affected by the
1997 anarchy, "Koha Jone" reported. The Socialists fared
best in the south, near Elbasan and in the northeastern
community of Lura. The Democrats' showing was strongest in
the central regions of Kavaja and Shijak, which are their
traditional strongholds. They also won a majority in the
northeastern community of Bushtrice and the southeastern
community of Proger. FS

BOMB BLAST IN CENTRAL TIRANA. A bomb caused heavy damage to
a restaurant in a downtown park on 21 June, slightly
injuring a guard and a waiter. The restaurant is owned by
Gazmend Demi, a close friend of Prime Minister Fatos Nano,
"Gazeta Shqiptare" reported. Demi told the daily that the
bombing "was not an act of personal revenge," and he linked
the attack to the local elections. Former Deputy Interior
Minister Ndre Legisi told "Koha Jone" that the Socialist
leadership had planned to celebrate the election victory in
the restaurant. Tirana's police chief Fadil Canaj declined
to comment on the blast, but said it was "clearly of a
terrorist nature." FS

HUNGARIAN UNIVERSITY STILL CAUSING TENSIONS IN ROMANIAN
COALITION... Bela Marko, chairman of the Hungarian
Democratic Federation of Romania (UDMR), said on 22 June
that the ruling coalition has "to make up its mind whether
it wants the UDMR in the coalition or out of it." Marko was
responding to a declaration made the same day by National
Peasant Party Christian Democratic chairman Ion Diaconescu.
That declaration supported Education Minister Andrei Marga's
position that a "multicultural" university, rather than a
Hungarian-language university, is the solution to
university-level education of the minorities. Diaconescu
also supported Marga's position that a separate Hungarian-
language state university might become a "source of inter-
ethnic conflict resembling that in the former Yugoslavia."
He added that the task of the commission set up earlier this
month was to examine not "ways of setting up a Hungarian-
language university, but whether this was opportune,"
RFE/RL's Bucharest bureau reported. MS

...AS ETHNIC HUNGARIANS PRESENT ULTIMATUM. The UDMR Council
of Representatives on 20 June announced it will quit the
coalition if the government does not set up by 15 July the
commission to examine ways of setting up the Hungarian
university. The council also said the ruling coalition must
officially declare its intention to set up the university by
31 July and the parliament must amend the education law by
30 September, Romanian state radio reported. In other news,
the Bucharest Municipal Tribunal on 19 June rejected the
registration of Gheorghe Funar's formation under the name of
Romanian Unity Alliance (AUR). The Party of Romanian
National Unity (PUNR), whose former chairman Funar is,
appealed against the registration because AUR was the name
of a PUNR-Republican Party alliance in the 1990 elections.
MS

ROMANIA URGES RUSSIAN WITHDRAWAL FROM MOLDOVA. A motion
submitted to the Council of Europe Parliamentary Assembly in
Strasbourg urges Moscow to fulfill its obligation to
withdraw its troops from Moldova. The motion was filed on 22
June by former Romanian Foreign Minister Adrian Nastase and
Vasile Nedelciuc, a member of the Moldovan parliament,
Romanian Radio reported. State Duma deputy speaker Aleksandr
Shokhin told journalists that Russia intends to fulfill its
obligations on joining the council but "does not consider it
opportune" to discuss the matter during the council's
current debate on the issue. Shokhin later told BASA-press
that he does not believe the Duma will approve the
withdrawal and said that Russian troops in the Transdniester
ensure that there are no more clashes in the region. MS

ZHIRINOVSKY ALLY DIES FROM SHOT WOUNDS. Aleksandr Saidakov,
the Transdniester representative of Vladimir Zhirinovsky's
ultra-nationalist Liberal Democratic Party of Russia, died
in a Chisinau clinic on 22 June from the wounds sustained in
the recent assassination attempt in Tiraspol (see "RFE/RL
Newsline," 16 June 1998), ITAR-TASS reported In other news,
the All-Russian Cossack Union convened a congress in
Tiraspol on 20 June and called on Russia and Belarus to help
the Transdniester join their union as an associate member,
Infotag reported on 22 June. The assembly also demanded to
maintain Russia's military presence in the region. MS

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