The trouble with being punctual is that nobody's there to appreciate it. - Franklin P. Jones
RFE/RL NEWSLINE

RFE/RL NEWSLINE Vol. 2, No. 120 Part II, 24 June 1998


___________________________________________________________
RFE/RL NEWSLINE Vol. 2, No. 120 Part II, 24 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

* POLAND, BULGARIA JOIN EXODUS OF ENVOYS FROM BELARUS

* HOLBROOKE GIVES MILOSEVIC 'LAST CHANCE'

* MACEDONIA, GREECE AGAINST INTERVENTION

End Note: ENVOYS REFUSE TO DANCE TO LUKASHENKA'S MUSIC
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EAST-CENTRAL EUROPE

POLAND, BULGARIA JOIN EXODUS OF ENVOYS FROM BELARUS. Shortly
after five EU countries and the U.S. recalled their
ambassadors from Minsk, Poland and Bulgaria have announced
they are also withdrawing their envoys for consultations.
Meanwhile, following the examples of the U.S. and Germany,
France has told the Belarusian ambassador to Paris to leave
for Minsk in order "to notify the Belarusian authorities of
the negative reaction of the French leadership" over the
eviction of diplomats from their residences at Drazdy, ITAR-
TASS reported. JM

BELARUS UNWILLING TO SEEK FOREIGN DIPLOMATS' RETURN.
Belarusian Foreign Minister Ivan Antanovich told journalists
on 23 June that Belarus does not intend to take any steps
toward securing the return of the recalled envoys, ITAR-TASS
reported. "As a minister, I have no intention of taking care
of their moving problems," AFP quoted Antanovich as saying.
He said Belarus was "ready for compromise from the very
beginning" but the relocation of diplomats has been
intentionally placed "on the level of an all-European
scandal." He added that the EU cannot reconcile itself to
the November 1996 referendum in Belarus, "where the
[Belarusian] people supported different persons than the EU
did." JM

ANTANOVICH SAYS PROBLEM OF HUMAN RIGHTS IN BELARUS 'FAR-
FETCHED.' Addressing a Chamber of Representatives session
devoted to human rights, Foreign Minister Antanovich said
the problem of human rights in Belarus is "far-fetched"
owing to Belarus's refusal to accept the Western model of
society that "is being imposed by the U.S.," Belapan
reported on 23 June. Antanovich said the current hearings
are an "eloquent example" that observing human rights is a
priority of Belarus's domestic and foreign policy.
Presidential administration chief Mikhail Myasnikovich
criticized the U.S. for drawing up its annual reports on
human rights in Belarus only on the basis of materials
provided by the opposition. And Belarusian Security Council
Secretary Viktar Sheyman accused "foreign sponsors " of
helping "ideologists of the Belarusian opposition to create
and impose on people propaganda myths oriented toward
weakening the [Belarusian] statehood and undermining socio-
economic stability." JM

KUCHMA VOWS TO CONTINUE STEERING ECONOMY BY DECREE.
Ukrainian President Leonid Kuchma has said his recent
economic decrees are not part of a "temporary campaign" but
rather were planned, Ukrainian Television reported on 23
June. He added that he may also enact an amended budget for
this year by decree. A cut in the budget deficit is the
IMF's major condition for granting a $2 billion credit to
Ukraine. Kuchma's economic management by decree is due to
the paralysis of the activities of the Supreme Council,
which has devoted the past six weeks to a dozen unsuccessful
attempts to elect its speaker. Kuchma's latest decree raised
the minimum wage by 10 hryvni ($5) to 55 hryvni. JM

CENTRAL BANKER SAYS UKRAINE NOT BANKRUPT. Ukrainian National
Bank head Viktor Yushchenko on 23 June said that Ukraine is
not a bankrupt state and has problems only with current
payments, Ukrainian Television reported. He commented that
the situation of Ukraine's hard currency market is
"controllable and stable," while the current negotiations
with the World Bank and the IMF are "correct and
productive." Yushchenko's statement comes in response to
growing public concern over the government's ability to pay
interest rates on domestic and foreign state bonds, which
have been the main source of financing Ukraine's budget
deficit. JM

U.S., EU HAIL LATVIAN CITIZENSHIP LAW AMENDMENTS... The U.S.
government has welcomed the Latvian parliament's decision to
amend the country's citizenship law (see "RFE/RL Newsline,"
23 June 1998). State Department spokesman James Rubin said
in a written statement today that by taking that action,
Latvia has moved closer to a society in which peoples of all
backgrounds and beliefs can live together in harmony. He
added that the move furthers Latvia's aspirations to
integrate into European and trans-Atlantic structures. The
European Commission commented that the amendments meet the
recommendations made by the OSCE and address "one of the
priorities in Latvia's preparations for EU membership....
The entry into force of this legislation will greatly
facilitate the integration of minorities in Latvia." JC

...WHILE RUSSIA SAYS CHANGES ONLY 'PIECEMEAL.' Speaking to
reporters at a Baltic Sea conference in Nyborg, Denmark, on
23 June, Russian Foreign Minister Yevgenii Primakov said
that the amendments to Latvia's citizenship law constitute
only a "piecemeal" solution. But Primakov added that his
government will have to look at the text of the amended law
before passing final judgment. Russian Foreign Ministry
spokesman Vitalii Makarov told Interfax in Moscow the same
day that the amendments are not "some sort of breakthrough"
but rather a "correction of undemocratic laws." He added
that they are also "far from being fully in line with
recommendations by OSCE High Commissioner on National
Minorities Max van der Stoel." JC

POLISH GOVERNMENT ADOPTS EU ENTRY PROGRAM. The Polish
cabinet on 23 June approved a "national program on the
preparation for the EU membership," "Rzeczpospolita"
reported. The document provides for adjusting Poland's
legislation and economy to EU regulations by 2002. Committee
for European Integration head Ryszard Czarnecki said Poland
is not going to seek many transition periods in which the
country does not abide by EU regulations while adapting to
EU standards. Czarnecki commented that he is not surprised
by statements that the EU may not be expanded until after
2005. And he also noted that the EU preparation program
provides for introducing travel visas for citizens of
Belarus and Ukraine but did not specify when. JM

HAVEL SETS DATE FOR CONVENING NEW PARLIAMENT. President
Vaclav Havel has set the date of the first session of the
new parliament for 7 July, CTK reported on 23 June. The same
day, Karel Brezina, a chief aide to Social Democratic Party
(CSSD) leader Milos Zeman, said Zeman intends to contact
"all parties represented in the parliament" in order to
conduct coalition talks. The chairman of the Christian
Democratic Party (KDU-CSL), Josef Lux, told Vaclav Klaus,
leader of the Civic Democratic Party (ODS), that his
formation still favors a coalition with the CSSD. Klaus told
journalists later that he believes "personal animosities"
must not hinder talks and that the best solution would be a
coalition of "non-left parties." MS

DATE SET FOR SLOVAK ELECTIONS. After meeting representatives
of parliamentary parties, parliamentary chairman Ivan
Gasparovic told state radio on 23 June that the elections to
the legislature will be held on 25-26 September, CTK
reported. In other news, Foreign Ministry spokesman Milan
Tokar told an RFE/RL correspondent in Bratislava that
Foreign Minister Zdenka Kramplova has no intention of
resigning in order to become ambassador to Sofia, as alleged
by Bulgarian media. Tokar said the reports were "fabricated"
and stressed that ambassadorial appointments can be made
only by the president. Slovakia currently does not have a
president. MS

SLOVAKIA REJECTS U.S. CRITICISM OF ELECTION LAW. A statement
released by the Slovak Foreign Ministry on 23 June rejected
U.S. criticism of the recently amended election law (see
"RFE/RL Newsline, 23 June 1998), RFE/RL's Bratislava bureau
reported The ministry said that high-ranking Slovak
officials have on several occasions :made it clear that the
elections will be "free, democratic, and fair" and that they
will be "in line with OSCE standards for monitoring
elections in member countries." At the same time, the
statement said the fact that "Slovakia has been repeatedly
asked to make possible the presence of OSCE monitors" during
the elections was "unjustified." MS

SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE

HOLBROOKE GIVES MILOSEVIC 'LAST CHANCE.' Richard Holbrooke,
who is the U.S. ambassador-designate to the UN, arrived in
Prishtina on 24 June to meet with Kosovar leaders and to
visit the embattled community of Decan. The previous day, he
told Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic in Belgrade that
he must implement all the demands of the international
Contact Group and that time is running out. Holbrooke gave
reporters no details of his long meeting with Milosevic but
said that his message to everyone on his current Balkan tour
is that "we're at a critical moment in the crisis
surrounding Kosova and we are here to prevent the fighting
escalating into a general war." PM

MOSCOW WANTS MILOSEVIC TO KEEP PROMISES. Milosevic also met
with Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Nikolai Afanasievskii,
who told the Yugoslav leader that the situation in Kosova is
"extremely difficult" and that both sides must end the
violence. Afanasievskii added that Milosevic must implement
the promises he made to Russian President Boris Yeltsin one
week earlier (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 17 June 1998). PM

MACEDONIA, GREECE AGAINST INTERVENTION. Prior to arriving in
Belgrade, Holbrooke met on 23 June with Kosovar shadow-state
President Ibrahim Rugova and Macedonian President Kiro
Gligorov in Skopje. Gligorov told Holbrooke that there is
still time for a diplomatic solution to the Kosovar crisis.
The Macedonian president later told reporters that Holbrooke
does not consider Macedonia to be "part of the Kosovar
problem," "Nasa Borba" reported. In Athens, Macedonian
Foreign Minister Blagoje Handziski and his Greek
counterpart, Theodoros Pangalos, said they oppose NATO
intervention in Kosova and favor a diplomatic solution.
Pangalos warned Western countries against meddling in Balkan
affairs and said that "enough blood has flowed in the
Balkans because of [Westerners'} amateurism." He added that
Milosevic has already met four out of five demands by the
Contact Group and cannot withdraw his forces as long as
"separatists" do not stop the violence. PM

NANO WARNS OF 'BALKANIZATION OF EUROPE.' Albanian Prime
Minister Fatos Nano told the "Sueddeutsche Zeitung" of 23
June that NATO intervention is necessary to support
diplomatic efforts and prevent Milosevic from killing his
own civilian population. Nano warned Western Europeans
against thinking that they can ignore the Kosovar crisis
because "the Balkans are far away. All Europe runs the risk
of becoming Balkanized" if Kosova spins out of control. The
prime minister stressed that peace and stability in the
Balkans are not possible as long as Milosevic, whom he
called "old-fashioned, dogmatic, and Stalinist," remains in
power. Nano added that Serbia is sorely in need of "an
explosion of democracy" like the one that most of Eastern
Europe experienced at the end of the 1980s. PM

SLOVENIAN SECURITY COUNCIL DISCUSSES KOSOVA. Prime Minister
Janez Drnovsek's National Security Council discussed "the
crisis situation in Kosova and its possible consequences for
Slovenia's security," "Nasa Borba" reported on 24 June.
President Milan Kucan said at a press conference to mark the
seventh anniversary of Slovenia's independence that Kosova
needs internationally guaranteed autonomy. He added that
Kosova is not an internal affair of Serbia's because it
could affect the stability of the Balkans and all of Europe.
Kucan stressed that the conflict between "democracy and
totalitarianism," and not "the nationalisms of individual
peoples," was responsible for the dissolution of Yugoslavia.
He added that this process is continuing and that the
Montenegrin people alone can decide Montenegro's future "on
the same basis that the Slovenes" determined their own
course. PM

SOLANA TELLS RUGOVA TO NEGOTIATE... Rugova told NATO
Secretary General Javier Solana in Brussels on 24 June that
NATO should provide "some kind of protection in Kosova so
that massive massacres and massive ethnic cleansing are
prevented.... Kosova has the right to become independent as
it's part of a country that has dissolved." Solana, however,
told his visitor "emphatically [and] categorically" that
Rugova must "return to the negotiating table [with
Milosevic] immediately and without preconditions." The
Kosovars refuse to sit down with Serbian officials as long
as the repression continues. Meanwhile, Reuters reported
from NATO headquarters that alliance officials are becoming
less disposed toward launching air strikes against Serbia
and stress instead "the need for more information about the
situation on the ground." The officials say that Serbia
faces a determined armed insurgency and that NATO does not
want to play into the hands of the Kosova Liberation Army in
its fight for independence. PM

...MEETS WITH BULGARIAN FOREIGN MINISTER. Nadezhda Mihailova
and NATO Secretary-General Javier Solana met in Vienna on 22
June at a NATO workshop and discussed the conflict in
Kosova, BTA reported. Mihailova stressed the importance
Bulgaria attaches to finding a political solution to the
conflict. But Solana and General Wesley Clark, the supreme
allied commander in Europe, who also attended the meeting,
made it clear that the alliance is considering all options
for dealing with the Kosova crisis. U.S. Ambassador to Sofia
Avis Boheln, visiting a hospital in Tran that is being
reconstructed with U.S. aid, denied rumors that the
reconstruction is related to the Kosova conflict, an RFE/RL
correspondent in Sofia reported. A joint U.S.-Bulgarian
military exercise is scheduled to take place near Tran from
30 July to 7 August. MS

IZETBEGOVIC WANTS DAYTON AGREEMENT IMPLEMENTED OR CHANGED.
Bosnian President Alija Izetbegovic told "Vecernje novine"
of 23 June that the Dayton agreement will have to be changed
if Serbian and Croatian officials block the implementation
of Dayton after the September general elections. He stressed
that no single ethnic group's representatives should be
allowed to hamstring "the functioning of the state." In
Pale, the governing body of Radovan Karadzic's Serbian
Democratic Party selected Momcilo Krajisnik to run for re-
election as the Serbian member of the joint presidency. The
party placed Dragan Cavic at the head of its list of
candidates for the Republika Srpska legislature and Slobodan
Bijelic at the top of the slate for the joint Bosnian
parliament. And in Banja Luka, officials of the Republika
Srpska and Croatia signed an agreement on the return of
refugees. PM

FINAL ALBANIAN ELECTION RESULTS ANNOUNCED. A spokesman for
the Central Election Commission said in Tirana on 23 June
that the governing Alliance for the State (ASH) won the
local by-elections in the municipalities of Vlora, Patos,
Roskovec, and Ura Vajgurore, while the opposition Union for
Democracy (BPD) won in Kavaja (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 23
June 1998). ASH also won in six smaller communities, while
the BPD won in three, "Gazeta Shqiptare" reported. FS

OSCE DECLARES BALLOT FAIR. OSCE Ambassador Daan Everts said
on 23 June in Tirana that the elections were a "significant
improvement over the 1997 extraordinary parliamentary
elections in terms of voting climate and election
administration." But he added that the 52 percent turnout
was disappointing. Owen Masters, who is the elections
rapporteur for the Council of Europe, said that "by and
large, these elections have been conducted in a fair and
democratic manner." At the same time, a joint OSCE and
Council of Europe statement stressed that "there is a need
for the state to make structural improvements in the system
of voter registration." FS

ROMANIAN INTELLIGENCE SERVICE ON SECURITATE FILES. Mircea
Ghiordunescu, deputy director of the Romanian Intelligence
Service, says most of the files of Securitate informers who
were Communist Party (PCR) members were destroyed during the
communist era, RFE/RL's Bucharest bureau reported.on 23
June. Ghiordunescu said a PCR plenum decided in 1967 that
PCR members who were secret police informers would not have
files. He added that between 1971 and 1979, some 270,000
files of PCR informers were destroyed and that between 22
December 1989 and 26 March 1990 more than 27,000 files
"disappeared" from the Securitate records, which are now
kept by the Romanian Intelligence Service. Meanwhile, the
Senate on 23 June failed to debate the last article of a law
on access to Securitate records, MS

MOLDOVAN REFORMS MINISTER ON 'ECONOMIC BANKRUPTCY.' Deputy
Prime Minister and Economic Reforms Minister Ion Sturdza
says the country's economy is "on the brink of bankruptcy,"
RFE/RL's Chisinau bureau reported on 23 June. Sturdza told a
forum of Moldovan businessmen that in the past, ministries
did not really take into account budgetary constraints and
that as a result, Moldova now has a huge foreign debt of
$1.3 billion, as well arrears in the payment of wages and
pensions. He said the country's foreign debt amounts to 60
percent of GDP and that an "anti-crisis program" is about to
be launched. Sturdza said the government will cease
subsidizing loss-making sectors, such as energy, and many
agricultural enterprises that are no longer able to pay
their debts to the state budget. MS

UZBEK PRESIDENT IN BULGARIA. Islam Karimov met with
President Petar Stoyanov and Prime Minister Ivan Kostov in
Sofia on 23 June to discuss economic cooperation, an RFE/RL
correspondent reported. Karimov said that a project for a
highway linking Europe to Asia is "not a fantasy, but
reality." The two sides are due to sign several accords on
economic cooperation and tourism during Karimov's visit.
Also on 23 June, President Petar Stoyanov received visiting
Turkish parliamentary chairman Hikmet Cetin, with whom he
discussed joint economic projects, bilateral relations, and
the Kosova conflict. MS

END NOTE

ENVOYS REFUSE TO DANCE TO LUKASHENKA'S MUSIC

by Jan Maksymiuk

	The Drazdy residential compound north of Minsk was
built in a pine forest in the late 1940s for the Minsk
nomenklatura. In the early 1990s, its wooden houses became
the residences of two dozen ambassadors to the newly
established Republic of Belarus. After the 1994 presidential
elections, Drazdy also became the residence of President
Alyaksandr Lukashenka. This month, the compound made the
headlines as the setting for the most bizarre diplomatic
conflict in modern history, which journalists have dubbed
the "sewer war."
	In late April, foreign diplomats living at Drazdy
were notified that they would have to move out owing to
urgent repairs to the compound's utility systems. Nobody
took this warning very seriously, particularly since most
ambassadors had extended their leases until the end of 2001.
But the ambassadors subsequently received an order to move
out by 10 June. To add weight to the written word, the
authorities dispatched a team of workers to weld shut the
gate to U.S. Ambassador Daniel Speckhard's residence. They
left the compound only after the diplomat, alerted by his
wife, arrived with a group of reporters.
	On 10 June, Lukashenka stepped in and extended the
eviction deadline by one week, saying the move was in
response to Speckhard's request that the diplomats be given
time to pack their belongings. The latter strongly denied
having made such a request. In fact, together with other
Western ambassadors, he demanded that Belarus observe the
Vienna convention on the treatment of diplomatic
representatives. Lukashenka later hinted that he did not
feel comfortable living in close proximity to Western
diplomats.
	That hint was unexpectedly confirmed on 17 June,
when the Drazdy site was declared the "residence of the
president of the Republic of Belarus" and a sign to that
effect appeared over the main entrance. The ambassadors were
to be allowed to stay in the compound but were to have the
status of "guests of the Belarusian president," as a deputy
foreign minister put it. As such, they would have to apply
for special passes to the compound for both themselves and
their guests. The same deputy foreign minister also warned
that would have to suffer "a lot of inconveniences" in
connection with the repairs. Water, electricity, and
telephone services were promptly cut off from diplomatic
residences, and a ditch was dug in front of the compound's
gates to prevent the diplomats from entering the area by
car.
	Until that time, the ambassadors had behaved as
Lukashenka wanted them to behave: they had protested but had
essentially accepted his rules of the game and tried to
adapt. They had declared themselves ready to suffer
hardships during the repairs. But they had not suspected
that the Belarusian authorities would force them to "float
in sewage," as Foreign Minister Ivan Antanovich had
graphically described their prospective lot one week
earlier. The diplomats appear to have finally lost their
patience when it became evident that there was no office
where they could apply for entry permits to the compound. On
22 June, six nations--Britain, France, Germany, Greece,
Italy, and the U.S.--recalled their ambassadors for
consultations.
	For people in the West, Lukashenka's apparent
motive for the eviction order is the most baffling aspect of
the diplomatic row. Has he really risked an international
scandal simply to enlarge his own residence? Belarusian
independent journalists would answer in the affirmative,
having repeatedly stressed that Lukashenka, a former
collective farm director, manages Belarus's affairs like
those of a kolkhoz--in a callous, authoritarian, and
uncivilized manner. It seems he cares no more about foreign
ambassadors than he does about Belarusian kolkhoz workers.
	But his attempt to humiliate Western envoys may
also be guided by personal revenge. Owing to his dictatorial
ways and numerous violations of human rights, Belarus has
become almost completely isolated in the West. Few Western
statesmen will risk shaking hands with Lukashenka today.
This is undoubtedly a festering wound to the pride of the
self-styled leader of the East Slavic world, who some
observers claim is still aspiring to the Kremlin throne. And
that wound prompts him to hit back wherever and whenever he
can.
	Apart from expressing indignation and outrage, the
West has virtually no means to punish Lukashenka. The
Belarusian economy is virtually independent of the West;
therefore, economic sanctions would have no impact. On the
other hand, the Drazdy debacle has shown Lukashenka that he
is fully at the mercy of Russia, Belarus's only ally. Moscow
supports Lukashenka's blatantly undemocratic regime while
claiming to build democracy at home. But it cannot be ruled
out that the Kremlin will undertake a mediation mission to
try to curb Lukashenka's diplomatic vagaries.

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