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RFE/RL NEWSLINE

RFE/RL NEWSLINE Vol. 2, No. 132 Part II, 13 July 1998


___________________________________________________________
RFE/RL NEWSLINE Vol. 2, No. 132 Part II, 13 July 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

* BELARUSIAN GOVERNMENT OFFICIALS BANNED FROM ENTERING EU

* POLISH FARMERS CLASH WITH POLICE IN PROTEST MARCH

* UCK DOES NOT RECOGNIZE RUGOVA AS LEADER

End Note: RUSSIA PRESSED TO WITHDRAW TROOPS FROM MOLDOVA
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EAST-CENTRAL EUROPE

BELARUSIAN GOVERNMENT OFFICIALS BANNED FROM ENTERING EU...
The EU on 10 July banned Belarusian government officials
from entering its member states, dpa reported. The ban is in
retaliation for the eviction of EU diplomats from their
residences at Drazdy, near Minsk, and applies to some 30
ministries and senior officials from President Alyaksandr
Lukashenka's administration. The charges d'affaires of
Germany, France, the U.K., Greece, and Italy handed over a
note to the Belarusian Foreign Ministry on 10 July informing
it of the EU decision. According to dpa, France has proposed
that the EU foreign ministers discuss severing diplomatic
relations with Belarus. Meanwhile, the U.S. Embassy in Minsk
has released a statement denying that several Western
ambassadors are willing to move to new residences, as
claimed by the Belarusian authorities. Both Germany and
France earlier denied that claim (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 10
July 1998). JM

...WHILE BELARUS SAYS BAN 'UNPRECEDENTED PRESSURE.' The
Belarusian Foreign Ministry said in a 10 July statement that
the EU decision to ban Belarusian officials from entering
its member states was accompanied "with threats to take even
tougher measures," ITAR-TASS reported. According to the
ministry, the EU has taken advantage of a "relatively small
problem--the change of residences--as a reason for applying
large-scale, unprecedented pressure on sovereign Belarus."
Speaking on national television, Lukashenka's administration
chief, Mikhail Myasnikovich, called the ban an "ill-
considered" decision that is economically disadvantageous
for both sides. Myasnikovich added that some foreign
embassies in Belarus have already denied visas to children
affected by the Chornobyl nuclear accident, who had intended
to receive treatment abroad, ITAR-TASS reported on 12 July.
JM

KUCHMA URGES PARLIAMENT TO APPROVE REVISED 1998 BUDGET.
Ukrainian President Leonid Kuchma appealed to the parliament
on 10 July to approve a revised 1998 budget draft, submitted
by the cabinet earlier this month, before the parliamentary
summer recess. The draft reduces the budget deficit to 2.3
percent of GDP. The government has faced difficulties in
raising funds to finance the 3.3 percent deficit for which
the original budget provided. The revised budget must be
passed "to alleviate tension in view of the acute economic
crisis in the country," Ukrainian Television quoted Kuchma
as saying. The president also asked the Supreme Council to
refrain from passing bills that "require additional budget
assignations or reduce budget revenues." JM

UKRAINIAN PARLIAMENT APPROVES PERMANENT COMMITTEE HEADS. The
Supreme Council has approved the heads of its 24 permanent
committees, Ukrainian Television reported on 10 July. The
Communist Party received six chairs, the Popular Democratic
Party five, the "Hromada" party four, and the
Socialists/Peasants, the Greens, and the Social Democrats
three each. Former speaker Oleksandr Moroz heads the
committee for agrarian policy, former Foreign Minister
Hennadiy Udovenko the committee for human rights; former
Prime Minister Yevhen Marchuk the committee for social
policy and labor. The Progressive Socialists have strongly
protested this distribution, which deprives both its
deputies and non-affiliated parliamentary members of any
committee chairs. JM

BALTIC STATES MOVE TOWARD COMMON ECONOMIC MARKET. The prime
ministers of Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania, meeting in
Silguda (Latvia) on 10 July, signed an agreement
standardizing customs procedures. The three also agreed to
draw up a treaty next year on the free movement of labor.
Observers say that because the countries are so small, a
common market is critical for growth and investments in the
long term. At the same meeting, the Baltic foreign ministers
signed an accord pledging that each country will recognize
the others' secondary and vocational school certificates. JC

ESTONIAN SS MEETING TAKES PLACE WITHOUT INCIDENT. Some 1,500
veterans of Estonia's former World War II SS battalion held
a rally in Tallinn on 11 July, which passed without
incidence. No top officials or military leaders attended the
event. The previous day, Estonian Foreign Minister Toomas
Hendrik Ilves had warned that the meeting could trigger a
propaganda campaign against Estonia in the international
press, according to ETA. However, Reuters reported on 11
July that there was "little or no criticism" of the event,
while ETA commented that only "Nezavisimaya Gazeta" wrote
about the "rehabilitation of fascism" in Estonia. A meeting
of Latvian SS veterans in March provoked a sharp reaction
from Moscow as well as the dismissal of the commander of the
Latvian army, who had taken part in the Riga rally. JC

ADAMKUS WANTS CONSTITUTIONAL COURT TO RULE ON LUSTRATION
LAW. Lithuanian President Valdas Adamkus has proposed that
the parliament postpone enacting the lustration law to allow
the Constitutional Court to rule on whether the legislation
is constitutional, BNS reported on 10 July. Last week,
Adamkus announced that he will not sign the law (see "RFE/RL
Newsline," 10 July 1998). He also said he will consider
proposing amendments to the law only after the
Constitutional Court has made a ruling. According to the
Baltic news agency, parliamentary speaker Vytautas
Landsbergis, who initiated the legislation, has the support
of more than one-third of deputies to hold an extraordinary
session on 15-16 July in the event that the president
returns the law to the parliament. JC

POLISH PREMIER SAYS EARLIER NATO ENLARGEMENT POSSIBLE.
Following his visit to the U.S., Jerzy Buzek said on 12 July
that Poland, Hungary, and the Czech Republic may join NATO
in January 1999, three months earlier than anticipated,
Reuters reported. Buzek said the proposal to speed up the
admission of new members to NATO has been accepted by the
U.S. administration (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 2 July 1998).
NATO enlargement was initially planned to coincide with the
alliance's 50th anniversary, in April 1999. He noted that if
voting on NATO enlargement is completed by November and the
Czech, Hungarian, and Polish parliaments ratify the NATO
treaty in December, the new countries could formally join in
January. He also said the U.S. agrees that the costly
change-over of Poland's military hardware to NATO standards
may be postponed. JM

POLISH FARMERS CLASH WITH POLICE IN PROTEST MARCH. Some
10,000 Polish farmers marched in Warsaw on 10 July to
protest the government's agricultural policy,
"Rzeczpospolita" reported. The farmers demanded that the
government introduce higher duties on food imports and allot
more funds to modernize agriculture before Poland joins the
EU. Scuffles broke out between marchers and police, who used
truncheons, tear gas, and water cannons to prevent traffic
blockades. Farm leaders met later with Deputy Prime Minister
Leszek Balcerowicz and agreed that regular negotiations
between agricultural trade unions and the government would
begin in mid-July. Poland has more than 2 million farms,
mostly small and inefficient, which employ some 25 percent
of the population but provide only 6 percent of GDP. JM

HAVEL LIKES NEITHER AGREEMENT NOR PROPOSED CONSTITUTIONAL
CHANGES. Czech President Vaclav Havel says that although he
is "disturbed" by the wording and content of the
"opposition" agreement between the Civic Democratic Party
(ODS) and the Social Democrats (CSSD), he will probably
appoint CSSD chairman Milos Zeman as prime minister, "Mlada
fronta Dnes" reported on 12 July. But Havel cautioned that
"anything is possible." He added that he wants to appoint a
new cabinet before 22 July, when he is scheduled to enter
the hospital. Havel said a change in the constitution to
increase the threshold for a party to enter the parliament
is "an attack on pluralism." The ODS and CSSD have enough
votes in parliament to alter the constitution, and both
parties have spoken of a need to change the proportional
system used to elect the lower house. The same day, the
ODS's Miroslav Macek accused Havel of being paranoid after
the president asserted that the ODS has considered accusing
him of treason in an effort to remove him. PB

ZEMAN WANTS END TO RESTITUTION OF CHURCH PROPERTY. CSSD
chairman Milos Zeman said on 10 July that his party will
demand a halt to the restitution of property to the Catholic
Church if it comes to power, CTK reported. Zeman said,
however, that his party will support the return of Jewish
property seized by the Nazis during World War II. Miloslav
Fiala, the press director at the Czech Bishops' Conference,
said such an action by the government would be alarming. He
noted that such measures "might have a populist accent, but
they are a warning signal abroad." PB

MECIAR ADDRESSES PARLIAMENT... Slovak Prime Minister
Vladimir Meciar said on 10 July that the country's main goal
is to join the EU, Slovak Radio reported. He added that
Slovakia is also "interested in NATO membership," but he
said that comments by former President Michal Kovac have
hurt its chances for membership. He noted that relations
with Poland, Ukraine, and Austria were good, although
Bratislava and Vienna have "contrasting views" on nuclear
energy, a reference to Austria's opposition to Slovakia's
operation of the Mochovce nuclear power plant. Meciar argued
that relations with Hungary have improved but are weakened
by Budapest's failure to adhere to an international court
verdict on the controversial Gabcikovo-Nagymaros dam. And he
said that tension over the Hungarian minority in Slovakia
needs to be overcome, commenting that Slovakia is
responsible to international institutions but not to any
other government regarding minority rights. PB

...SAYS HE'S WILLING TO WORK WITH NEW CZECH GOVERNMENT.
Meciar praised former Czech Prime Minister Vaclav Klaus on
10 July, saying his ability to compromise and his "personal
stature" are highlighted by the "opposition" agreement
between Klaus's ODS and the Social Democrats, CTK reported.
Meciar said he welcomes the steps toward "stabilizing the
political environment" in Prague. He added that Slovakia is
waiting for the government leadership to "emerge" and that
Bratislava was ready to cooperate with it in all areas.
According to the Slovak leader, relations with Prague are
good and the only problem in those relations is the "failure
to settle property issues." PB

HUNGARY'S HORN DECLINES HONORARY POST. Outgoing Socialist
Party (MSZP) chairman and former Prime Minister Gyula Horn
unexpectedly told a party board meeting that he does not
intend to become the party's honorary chairman, "Magyar
Hirlap" reported on 13 July. Horn said he made that decision
because of recent debates within the party about the need
for the post. MSZP Executive Deputy Chairman Magda Kovacs
Kosa said Horn does not lay claim to any other posts within
the party but will remain active in the party's domestic and
international affairs. MSZ

HUNGARIAN FOREIGN MINISTER WANTS EU MEMBERSHIP IN FOUR
YEARS. Janos Martonyi said that if Hungary is not admitted
into the EU by 2002 it will be due to reasons "beyond our
control," Hungarian Television reported on 12 July. Martyoni
said Budapest's accession to the EU would be "favorable for
the Hungarian communities beyond our borders." He added that
once in the EU, Budapest would work to accelerate the
process of accession for Hungary's neighbors. Meanwhile,
eight FBI agents have arrived in the Hungarian capital to
help police investigate the 2 July car bombing that killed
four people. PB

SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE

UCK DOES NOT RECOGNIZE RUGOVA AS LEADER. Kosova Liberation
Army (UCK) spokesman Jakup Krasniqi told the Prishtina daily
"Koha Ditore" of 11 July that his organization does not
"recognize shadow-state President Ibrahim Rugova as the
UCK's commander because [Rugova] did not create it."
Krasniqi called on all political parties "to unite in a
broad national front and recognize the UCK as Kosova's
legitimate army. He added that the UCK fights for "the
liberation of all occupied Albanian territories and for
their unification with Albania" and that "we have not taken
up arms just to gain autonomy." Krasniqi noted that the UCK
is ready for talks with Belgrade, but he stressed that the
Serbian authorities must first "free all political prisoners
and hostages and withdraw their forces from Kosova." The
spokesman added that foreign powers, "preferably the U.S.,"
must establish "control" over the province. And he pledged
that the UCK will be in Prishtina "soon." FS

DAYTON-TYPE CONFERENCE FOR KOSOVA? German Foreign Minister
Klaus Kinkel failed to secure the agreement of his Russian
counterpart, Yevgenii Primakov, in Moscow on 11 July for
international military intervention to end the crisis in
Kosova, the "Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung" reported.
Primakov informed his guest that Russia insists Kosova
become autonomous within the frontiers of Yugoslavia. Kinkel
told reporters that the international community must seek
"creative [diplomatic] solutions." He told the Berlin daily
"Tagesspiegel" of 12 July that one possibility would be to
hold an international conference on the model of the Dayton
meeting that ended the Bosnian conflict in 1995. The German
minister concluded that the first order of business for the
international community in Kosova is to secure a cease-fire.
Meanwhile in Paris on 10 July, French Foreign Ministry
officials said France and the U.K. have submitted to the UN
Security Council a joint resolution on Kosova. PM

TURKEY SAYS READY FOR NATO ACTION OVER KOSOVA. President
Suleyman Demirel told the Tirana daily "Koha Jone" of 12
July that Turkey is "ready to be part of any mission [in
Kosova] that has the mandate of the international
community." Demirel stressed that Turkey will not support
independence for Kosova unless Belgrade and Prishtina agree
to it. He criticized the EU's Balkan policy as "based on the
lowest common denominator." Demirel argued that the EU "does
not have a vision [for the region] and underestimates the
role that it can play in developing a new international
order." Meanwhile, Defense Minister Ismet Sezgin said before
meeting his Albanian counterpart, Luan Hajdaraga, in Ankara
on 10 July that military intervention may be necessary in
Kosova if the international community does not find a
diplomatic solution. FS

FIGHTING CONTINUES IN WESTERN KOSOVA. Serbian and Kosovar
sources reported fighting in the Peja, Gjakova, and Decan
areas from 10-12 July. The Kosovar news agency KIC added on
11 July that the Serbian forces used ground-to ground
missiles near Peja. The "International Herald Tribune"
reported on 13 July that the UCK is steadily acquiring more
and better weapons and that Serbian forces are increasingly
reluctant to enter UCK-controlled territory. The Tirana
daily "Shekulli" reported the previous day that seven UCK
fighters are receiving treatment in the Albanian capital's
military hospital. PM/FS

OSCE FEARS NEW WAVE OF REFUGEES. An OSCE spokesman told
Albanian State Television on 11 July that monitors on the
Kosovar-Albanian border have observed extensive fighting in
the area around Gjakova. He added that the fighting could
trigger a new influx of tens of thousands of refugees into
northern Albania. Official statistics currently put
Albania's Kosovar refugee population at 12,000, but refugee
workers estimate that there are another 5,000 or so
unregistered people there. Meanwhile on 11 July, the U.S.
humanitarian organization AmeriCares flew five tons of
medicine, blankets, and other supplies into Tirana. FS

MACEDONIAN BORDER GUARDS STOP ARMS SMUGGLERS. Macedonia
border guards on 11 July fired on some 30 suspected arms
smugglers about 60 miles southwest of Skopje. The smugglers
escaped after an exchange of gunfire, but nobody was
injured. Interior Ministry officials did not say whether the
border guards seized any arms during the incident. Meanwhile
in an interview published in the Skopje daily "Dnevnik" on
11 July, President Kiro Gligorov said that NATO cannot use
his country as a base for possible armed intervention in
Kosova. He nonetheless welcomed NATO support to help stop
arms smuggling by the UCK. FS

SREBRENICA SURVIVORS, IZETBEGOVIC TRADE CHARGES. More than
3,000 Muslims from Srebrenica staged a protest in Tuzla on
11 July to mark the third anniversary of the town's fall to
Bosnian Serb forces. The demonstrators, who were mainly
women, children, and elderly, demanded information regarding
the fate of their 10,000 missing relatives, most of whom are
males presumed to have been massacred by the Serbs. Speakers
blamed the international community, but especially the
Bosnian political and military leadership, for what
happened. Alija Izetbegovic, who is the Muslim member of the
joint presidency and who was Bosnian president in 1995,
denied the charges. He stressed in an interview with state-
run television that the government and the army did all they
could to prevent the fall of Srebrenica. Izetbegovic said
that the international community is responsible for what
happened to Srebrenica and its people, RFE/RL's South Slavic
Service reported. PM

CROATIAN OPPOSITION CALLS OFFICIALS' PAY 'SCANDALOUS.' The
Istrian Democratic Assembly, a regional opposition party,
passed a resolution on 12 July that sharply criticized a
measure on officials' salaries passed by the parliament two
days earlier, an RFE/RL correspondent reported from Zagreb.
Parliament set the president's salary at $8,000 per month
and pegged the pay of top officials at 33-50 percent of that
figure. Members of the parliament and the government must
publicly declare all their property from the time they were
elected. The Istrian party charged that the governing
Croatian Democratic Community should pay some of the
officials' salaries out of its own coffers. The government
recently claimed that it is too poor to pay pensioners back
benefits to which a court recently ruled they are entitled.
The average monthly income in Croatia is $400. On 10 July,
postal and telecommunications workers staged a warning
strike for better pay. PM

EU DISAPPOINTED BY ROMANIAN ECONOMY. Gunther Burghardt, head
of the foreign relations department of the European
Committee, said on 10 July that he is worried by the slow
pace of economic reforms in Romania, AP reported. Burghardt
said that Romania has the worst economic performance of any
EU applicant over the past year. He said reforms have been
stalled by political infighting, corruption, and too much
bureaucracy. PB

ROMANIAN, BULGARIAN, TURKISH PREMIERS AGREE TO BOOST TRADE.
Radu Vasile, Ivan Kostov, and Mesut Yilmaz agreed in Sofia
on 11 July on measures to increase trade in an effort to
offset possible losses resulting from sanctions against
Yugoslavia, Reuters reported. Yilmaz also stressed Turkey's
unconditional support for Sofia and Bucharest's attempts to
join NATO. Bulgaria's Kostov and Turkey's Yilmaz agreed to
phase out tariffs on 60 percent of Bulgarian exports and 40
percent of Turkish exports beginning on 1 January. They
expect the agreement to increase bilateral trade fivefold.
The three premiers and Bulgarian President Petar Stoyanov
also discussed construction of a second bridge over the
River Danube near Serbia to increase access to the West. PB

FOUR LIBERAL BULGARIAN PARTIES FORM ALLIANCE. The Movement
for Rights and Freedoms, the New Choice Liberal Alliance,
the Liberal Democratic Alternative, and the Free Radical
Democratic Party on 10 July announced the formation of the
Liberal Democratic Alliance, Bulgarian Radio reported.
Former Bulgarian President Zhelyu Zhelev was named the
alliance's honorary president. The parties will be allowed
to act independently in matters outside the scope of
agreements made by the alliance. PB

END NOTE

RUSSIA PRESSED TO WITHDRAW TROOPS FROM MOLDOVA

by Roland Eggleston

	The U.S. and other delegations to the OSCE have told
Russia to honor its promise to withdraw all troops and
ammunition from Moldova's breakaway region of Transdniester.
	At two meetings in Vienna last week, Moscow was
accused of ignoring the commitments made by former Prime
Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin at the OSCE summit in Lisbon in
December 1996. Russia was also accused of ignoring repeated
requests to allow OSCE monitors to check the levels of
troops, equipment, and arms still deployed in Transdniester.
	The charges were made by Moldova's deputy foreign
minister, Iurie Leanca, and were backed by the U.S., France,
Canada, and the EU. Romania and Azerbaijan also became
involved in the debate. France said that "absolutely no
progress has been made" in resolving the problem. And the EU
delegate, Jutta Stefan-Bastl, said the OSCE has no real
information on how many troops are still there.
	In 1994, Russia said that it had 8,500 troops
stationed there. Last November, the OSCE said it believed
there were still more than 3,000 in place. Russia responded
that it was not deliberately trying to maintain a military
presence in the region but that there were many
difficulties--including political ones--in fulfilling the
commitment. Russian delegates said that the promises would
be kept but gave no deadline for doing so.
	At a meeting of the OSCE permanent council, the U.S.
responded by proposing a number of concrete steps that it
wants Russia to take before the end of the year.
	Moldova demanded the withdrawal of the Russian troops
when it declared independence in 1992, but the operation was
complicated by domestic problems. The Transdniester region,
largely-populated by ethnic Russians, declared separation
from Moldova. The move led to heavy fighting in which scores
of people died. The Russian 14th Army, then led by General
Aleksandr Lebed, remained in the Transdniester. Moscow
described it as a "peacekeeping" force but Moldova
considered it to be a foreign army to be illegally based on
its territory.
	In October 1994, Russia and Moldova agreed on the
withdrawal of the troops, but they nonetheless stayed in
place. Russian commanders said that hundreds of their men
were locals who wanted to remain in Transdniester.
	In an OSCE summit meeting in Lisbon in December 1996,
Russian Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin joined other
government leaders in a statement calling for the "early,
orderly, and complete withdrawal of Russian troops." The
statement forms part of the final document issued by the
summit meeting.
	Delegates to last week's meetings in Vienna were told
that some troops and military materiel were indeed withdrawn
last year. But the withdrawal stopped and, as far as is
known, no more troops have moved this year. The EU described
this as "deplorable" behavior.
	Speaking on behalf of the EU, the Austrian delegate
Jutta Stefan-Bastl, said that "the EU would very much
welcome a decision by the Russian side to provide detailed
information on the number of troops, equipment, and arms
still present in Transdniester." She added that Russia
should allow international observers to inspect the
situation. And she commented that "we deplore that our
repeated requests for access to weapons depots have never
been taken into consideration by Russia."
	The U.S., the EU, and other countries said they regard
the continued storage of arms in Transdniester as a "serious
factor of instability and a risk for the preservation of
stability in the whole region." They asked Russia to provide
detailed information on how many weapons and other equipment
were still in Transdniester.
	Russia responded that it is ready to begin the
destruction of munitions by the end of this month. Romania,
for its part, commented that it is ready to assist in the
destruction if required.
	The U. S. delegate, David Johnson, said that Russia
should establish a number of targets to be fulfilled before
the OSCE foreign ministers meet in Oslo at the end of the
year. "They should include the actual departure of several
trainloads of equipment back to Russia and the conclusion of
a comprehensive schedule for the complete withdrawal of
Russian forces and equipment," Johnson said.
	He welcomed Russia's statement that the destruction of
munitions would begin this month. Johnson also proposed that
Russia allow the OSCE mission in the region to monitor the
withdrawal and the destruction of weapons.
	The U.S.--backed by several other countries--proposed
that another meeting on the problem be held in Vienna in
October. It would assess how much progress Russia has made
in meeting those proposals and draw up a report for the OSCE
foreign ministers conference in December.

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

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