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RFE/RL NEWSLINE

RFE/RL NEWSLINE Vol. 2, No. 137 Part II, 20 July 1998


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RFE/RL NEWSLINE Vol. 2, No. 137 Part II, 20 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

* POLISH PARLIAMENT APPROVES 16 NEW PROVINCES

* ZEMAN NAMED PREMIER, KLAUS ELECTED SPEAKER

* SERBS, UCK CLASH IN RAHOVEC
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EAST-CENTRAL EUROPE

LUKASHENKA BRIEFS MOSCOW MAYOR ON DIPLOMATIC STANDOFF...
Belarusian President Alyaksandr Lukashenka has sent a letter
to Moscow Mayor Yurii Luzhkov to explain his stance on the
diplomatic conflict over the Drazdy residential compound,
Interfax reported on 19 July. Lukashenka said he believes
the EU ban on visas for Belarusian officials aims at
undermining the Belarusian-Russian Union. He argued that the
EU is attempting to win over Russia by hinting Moscow will
receive financial aid if it persuades Belarus to change its
position in the row. And he said that the EU is threatening
to sever diplomatic relations with Belarus in order to make
it assume "the role of a mere executor of other decisions."
Lukashenka assured Luzhkov that Belarus does not recognize
the EU's right to dictate "when to conduct referendums,
which constitution to live by, and when to renovate its own
house." JM

...WHILE LUZHKOV BACKS LUKASHENKA'S 'LOGICAL' STANCE.
Luzhkov responded to Lukashenka's letter by saying the
actions of the Belarusian president over the diplomatic
housing conflict are "quite legitimate and logical," ITAR-
TASS reported on 19 July. Luzhkov said the EU's punitive
measures against Belarus were provoked not by violations of
the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations but by
Lukashenka's efforts toward reuniting former Soviet
republics. On 17 July, the Russian Federation Council
described the EU visa ban against Belarusian officials as an
"inappropriate and destructive reaction." It appealed to
European parliaments "to take constructive practical steps"
to normalize relations with Belarus, according to Interfax.
JM

KUCHMA UPBEAT ON RECEIVING $2.5 BILLION LOAN FROM IMF.
Ukrainian President Leonid Kuchma has said he is hopeful
that an IMF mission expected in Ukraine on 23 July will
recommend the release of a $2.5 billion loan to Kyiv,
Ukrainian Television reported on 19 July. He said that the
IMF mission "is coming with the wish to make a final review
of the [loan] program and approve it." Kuchma added that the
World Bank, which, like the IMF, suspended cooperation with
Ukraine, has promised him it will release more than $1
billion in credits following "the very first telephone call
from the IMF." Meanwhile, Kuchma has once again appealed to
the Supreme Council to approve an amended 1998 budget with a
reduced deficit equal to 2.3 percent of GDP. "The refusal to
make a decision on this issue will threaten Ukraine's
national interests," Ukrainian Television quoted the
president as saying. JM

ESTONIA'S RULING COALITION MOVES TOWARD RESTORING ELECTORAL
ALLIANCE. Meeting at Toompea on 17 July, leaders of the
ruling coalition partners--the Coalition Party, the Country
People's Party , the Rural Union, and the Pensioners Party--
agreed to start negotiations on restoring the electoral
alliance formed by those groups in 1995, ETA reported.
Arnold Ruutel, the chairman of the Country People's Party,
said that despite differences of opinion over some matters,
the ruling coalition is agreed on the most important issue--
the "stabilized development of the country." Ruutel's party,
in particular, has strongly criticized the Coalition Party's
positions on social policy. Parliamentary elections are
scheduled to take place in March 1999. JC

VAN DER STOEL SAYS NO NEW RECOMMENDATIONS ON LATVIAN
CITIZENSHIP LAW. OSCE High Commissioner on National
Minorities Max van der Stoel has said he will make no more
recommendations on Latvia's citizenship law, BNS reported.
In a statement issued to the press on 17 July, Van der Stoel
noted that since making recommendations on that law, "I have
not changed my position on this subject, and I do not see
the need to do so in the future." He added that the basic
elements of his proposals--the removal of the
"naturalization windows," granting citizenship to children
born to non-Latvians after independence in August 1991, and
simplifying citizenship examinations on Latvia's
constitution and history--have been worked into the recently
passed amendments. Earlier on 17 July, Latvian Prime
Minister Guntars Krasts, during a visit to Finland, had
called on the OSCE to guarantee it will make no new demands
on easing Latvia's citizenship laws. JC

LITHUANIAN CONSERVATIVES NOT TO APPEAL TO COURT OVER
LUSTRATION LAW. Deputy parliamentary chairman Andrius
Kubilius told reporters on 17 July that the ruling coalition
will not appeal to the Constitutional Court for a ruling on
the recently passed lustration law, BNS reported. Neither
will the Conservatives support the initiation of such an
appeal in the parliament, he added. "It is my personal
conviction that the law can take effect such as it is now.
But we want broader consensus of state institutions on the
issue," Kubilius said. President Valdas Adamkus has vetoed
the law and proposed that the parliament turn to the
Constitutional Court to rule whether the legislation is
constitutional (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 17 July 1998). JC

POLISH PARLIAMENT APPROVES 16 NEW PROVINCES... Following a
compromise between the ruling coalition and the Democratic
Left Alliance (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 16 and 17 July 1998),
the Sejm voted by 326 to 29 with 41 abstentions to pass a
bill providing for 16 new provinces in Poland. The bill has
to be reviewed by the upper house and signed by the
president, who has already declared his support for the 16-
province administrative plan. JM

...PASSES HEALTH SYSTEM REFORM BILL. The parliament also
passed legislation on reforming the health care system. The
bill sets up "patient funds" that are to be financed
directly by mandatory contributions from employees equaling
7.5 percent of their income. Accordingly, employees' income
tax payments are to be reduced by 7.5 percent. Contributors
to the "patient funds" will be entitled to free-of-charge
treatment in hospitals and health centers, basic dental
services, and some health examinations. The 20 July "Zycie"
reported that opponents of the bill said the mandatory
contribution should be no less than 11 percent of employees'
income in order to adequately support the health care
system. The bill is to go into effect on 1 January 1999. JM

POLAND INTRODUCES CHEAPER VISAS FOR BELARUSIANS, RUSSIANS.
The Polish Foreign Ministry has resolved to reduce the price
of visas for Belarusian and Russian nationals, PAP reported
on 17 July. As of 1 August , a multiple-entry visa will cost
$14 and a single-entry visa $5. According to the ministry,
the decision is aimed at facilitating entry for Belarusians
and Russians "coming to Poland for trade and economic
reasons." Tougher restrictions introduced into Poland's law
on foreigners last year have affected mostly traders from
Russia and Belarus (see also "End Note" in "RFE/RL
Newsline," 16 July 1998). JM

ZEMAN NAMED PREMIER, KLAUS ELECTED SPEAKER. Czech President
Vaclav Havel formally named Social Democratic leader Milos
Zeman prime minister on 17 July, CTK reported. Earlier that
day, Havel accepted the resignation of caretaker Premier
Josef Tosovsky. In a brief ceremony, Havel said he hopes
Zeman's government will have the parliament's trust during
its four-year term. Zeman said his government will allow
people to create wealth through honest work, not through
fraud. The same day, former Premier Vaclav Klaus was elected
speaker of the lower house of parliament. Klaus and Zeman
have signed an "opposition" agreement in which Klaus
promises not to initiate a confidence vote in Zeman's
minority government in return for the speakers of both
chambers of the parliament and the heads of key committees.
PB

ZEMAN ANNOUNCES CABINET LINEUP. Zeman on 18 July named the
four deputy prime ministers and 15 ministers in the cabinet
of his minority government, CTK reported. Senator Jan Kavan
has been named foreign minister, Vladimir Vetchy defense
minister; Supreme Court chairman Otakar Motejl justice
minister; Vaclav Grulich interior minister; Ivo Svoboda
finance minister; and Egon Lansky deputy prime minister for
coordinating policy with the EU. There are no women in
Zeman's government. PB

SLOVAK GOVERNMENT MAKES GAINS ON OPPOSITION IN POLL. A poll
released on 17 July shows support for Prime Minister
Vladimir Meciar's government slightly gaining on support for
the combined opposition, Reuters reported. The poll, taken
by the independent Focus agency, shows 35.9 percent of
respondents voicing support for the government and 55.1
percent for the four main opposition parties. Last month,
the government had 33.3 percent and the opposition 59.3
percent. Meciar's Movement for a Democratic Slovakia (HZDS)
was the most popular party, favored by 25.9 percent in the
poll. The opposition Slovak Democratic Coalition came second
with 21.2 percent. Slovaks elect a new parliament in
September. PB

MECIAR'S PARTY UNVEILS CANDIDATE LIST, PLATFORM. The HZDS
released in Trnava on 18 July its list of candidates and its
party platform for parliamentary elections in September, CTK
reported. Some 17,000 people, many arriving on special
trains from throughout Slovakia, gathered at the soccer
stadium in this western Slovak town for the announcement.
Premier Vladimir Meciar and parliamentary speaker Ivan
Gasparovic top the list of 150 candidates, which includes 29
women. The party's election manifesto pledged to secure EU
membership for the country by 2005. PB

SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE

SERBS, UCK CLASH IN RAHOVEC. Serbian security forces and the
Kosova Liberation Army (UCK) fought for control of the town
of Rahovec in southwestern Kosova over the weekend of 18-19
July. The current situation there remains unclear.
Meanwhile, Christopher Hill, who is U.S. ambassador to
Macedonia and has conducted talks with the UCK, told
RFE/RL's South Slavic Service in a telephone interview on 17
July that the "main problem" for diplomats involved in the
Kosovar crisis is that the Kosovars have not agreed on who
can represent both the UCK and the political parties in
negotiations. In Bonn on 19 July, UCK spokesman Jakup
Krasniqi told German SAT 1 television that his organization
has chosen its political leaders and will soon make their
names public. And in Prishtina, unknown gunmen tried to kill
Enver Maloku, who heads the Kosovar news agency KIC, an
RFE/RL correspondent reported from the Kosovar capital. PM

HEAVY FIGHTING ALONG KOSOVAR-ALBANIAN BORDER. The UCK also
clashed with Serbian security forces near the Albanian
border at Padesh on 18 July, "Koha Jone" reported. The
Albanian daily says that fighting began after a large number
of UCK fighters crossed into Kosova from Albania. Namik
Dokle, who is deputy speaker of the parliament, told
Albanian state television on 20 July that approximately 70
Kosovars died when Serbian forces shelled the border area
two days earlier; 19 UCK fighters were injured and fled to
Albania. Local authorities flew some of the injured by
helicopter to hospitals in Tirana. Another 80 civilians fled
to Albania from the area near Padesh, where some were
injured by mines and mortar shells as they sought to flee.
FS

TIRANA CLAIMS BORDER VIOLATION... The Albanian government
issued a statement on 18 July charging that Serbian forces
fired shells 500 meters into Albanian territory during the
fighting. The statement said that "today's Serbian military
actions have directly threatened the integrity and
sovereignty of...Albania." It continued that "the
government...severely denounces these actions, considering
them clear provocations aimed at engulfing Albania in the
flames of a regional conflict." The statement stressed that
Albania remains committed to a peaceful solution but is
ready to respond to aggression. "The escalation of Serbian
aggressive acts in Kosova against innocent people
demonstrates once again that the military machine of Serbian
chauvinism cannot be stopped by statements and resolutions
but only by concrete, determined, and unequivocal actions."
FS

...BUT BELGRADE ISSUES DENIAL. The Yugoslav Foreign Ministry
issued a protest on 19 July accusing Albania of being
responsible for several recent border violations. The note
also stated that Albania has been "indulgent" toward the
UCK. Since Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic launched
the crackdown in Kosova at the end of February, Tirana and
Belgrade have accused each other on several occasions of
border violations. In Prishtina, the Yugoslav Third Army
issued a statement charging that the infiltrators on 18 July
included "five Albanians from Macedonia, six citizens of
Saudi Arabia, and one Yemeni national. Four had German
documents issued to persons with Arabic names." There has
been no independent confirmation of this or other periodic
Serbian reports that "Islamic fundamentalists" are fighting
on the side of the UCK, which is a secular, nationalist
organization. PM

ALBANIAN PREMIER WANTS UCK BROUGHT INTO SHADOW STATE. Fatos
Nano wrote in an article published in "Zeri i Popullit" on
17 July that the Kosovar shadow state should work to
integrate the UCK into their negotiating team, which is
authorized to talk to the Serbs and the international
community. He stressed, however, that the UCK still has yet
to select its political leaders. Meanwhile, the Albanian
parliament issued a statement welcoming the first session in
years of the shadow state parliament (see "RFE/RL Newsline,"
17 July 1998). The statement says that the Albanian
legislature "supports the will of the Kosovar population for
self-determination through dialogue and peaceful means." FS

U.S. SENATE CALLS MILOSEVIC 'WAR CRIMINAL.' The upper house
of Congress passed a non-binding resolution on 18 July
urging the Hague-based war crimes tribunal to take action
against Milosevic on charges of "war crimes, crimes against
humanity, and genocide," an RFE/RL correspondent reported
from Washington. The text added that Milosevic is the man
most responsible for the wars on the territory of the former
Yugoslavia. Meanwhile in Kladanj in eastern Bosnia, some
5,000 Muslims attended a prayer service on 18 July to honor
those killed in the Srebrenica massacres three years
earlier. Participants included Alija Izetbegovic, who is the
Muslim member of the Bosnian joint presidency, and Mustafa
Ceric, who heads the main Muslim religious organization. PM

PLAVSIC SAYS 'SPIRIT OF DAYTON' BIGGEST THREAT TO DAYTON.
Republika Srpska President Biljana Plavsic said in Banja
Luka that she hopes that the new Bosnian Serb government
that takes office after the September elections can be
elected in the parliament entirely on the votes of Serbian
legislators, "Oslobodjenje" wrote on 20 July. (The current
government needs Muslim backing.) Plavsic added that the
main threat to what she called the substance of the Dayton
agreement is attempts by the international community to make
Bosnia a multi-ethnic society again, as it was before the
war. She described this foreign commitment to multi-
ethnicity as "the spirit of Dayton." And she warned that the
Serbs must insist instead on the implementation of what she
called the letter of the agreement, which grants specific
rights to each ethnic group and to each of the two separate
entities, including the Republika Srpska. PM

CONCERN IN ALBANIA ABOUT TEENAGE PROSTITUTION. Several
representatives of Albanian non-governmental organizations
told a recent Tirana conference on trafficking in Albanian
women and children that more than 14,000 Albanian women are
currently working as prostitutes in west European countries.
Between 8,000 and 9,000 are working in Italy, of whom an
estimated 2,500 are teenagers., while of the 5,000 or so
Albanian prostitutes in Greece, some 700 are under 18.
Hundreds of others are working in Austria, France, Holland,
Germany, and Britain. Most of the prostitutes come from
Albania's rural areas. Speakers said that traffickers often
lure girls by false promises of jobs in Western countries,
but there have also reports of kidnappings of young girls
who are then forced to become prostitutes. FS

ROMANIAN PRIME MINISTER UPSET OVER PRIVATIZATION DELAYS.
Radu Vasile said on 19 July that he will demand explanations
from cabinet ministers about delays in the privatization
process in the country, Reuters reported. Vasile said little
progress has been made to privatize and restructure
industry. He said that Privatization Minister Sorin Dimitriu
will be given 30 minutes at the next cabinet meeting to
explain the shortcomings and say what he will do to correct
them. Vasile said he is "serious" about privatizing the
telecommunications utility by September and two large banks
by end of the year. In other news, 11 people were jailed on
18 July for their parts in the murder of three Roma in the
village of Hadareni in 1993. Three of the defendants were
found guilty of murder and the others of destruction of
property. PB

CONSTANTINESCU KEEPS BEATING NATO DRUM. Romanian President
Emil Constantinescu stressed during a meeting with U.S.
business leaders in Washington that his country is ready to
join NATO, an RFE/RL correspondent reported on 17 July. He
said that Romania should have been in the first wave of NATO
expansion announced last year and that it has received only
a "pat on the back" for its cooperation in military
activities with the West. Constantinescu made similar
arguments in a meeting earlier that day with U.S. Defense
Secretary William Cohen. PB

MOLDOVAN, UKRAINIAN FOREIGN MINISTERS DISCUSS BORDER ISSUES.
Moldovan Foreign Minister Nicolae Tabacaru met with his
Ukrainian counterpart, Borys Tarasyuk, in Chisinau on 17
July to discuss disputed border issues, BASA-press reported.
Tabacaru said the talks were constructive and that the three
separate disputes over their common border would be resolved
simultaneously rather than separately. Tabacaru said
Ukraine's proposals are being studied, but he gave no
details about those proposals. Tarasyuk also met with
Moldovan President Petru Lucinschi, who said Chisinau will
work to "consolidate its traditional relationships with
Ukraine." PB

BULGARIAN PREMIER ANNOUNCES ECONOMIC PROGRAM. Ivan Kostov
said on 17 July that the government will tighten fiscal
policy and accelerate privatization in an effort to secure
an IMF loan, AP reported. Kostov said support from the IMF
is necessary to make the transition process "painless" and
to maintain a growth rate of 4.5-5 percent over the next
three years. IMF mission head Anne McGuirk said after
arriving in Sofia on 18 July that talks with the government
on securing a three-year, $1.55 billion loan will be
complicated. She said Sofia must introduce greater reforms
in the social sphere and in its investment program. PB

BULGARIA TO BECOME CEFTA MEMBER. Bulgaria on 17 July
announced it will join the Central European Free Trade
Agreement on 1 January 1999, AP reported. CEFTA includes the
Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland, Romania, Slovakia, and
Slovenia. The organization plans to phase out tariffs
between member states by 2002 and is seen as a stepping
stone to membership in the EU. In other news, Deputy Foreign
Minister Antoaneta Pramatarova met with EU ambassadors in
Sofia and requested that visa requirements for Bulgarians
traveling to the EU be eased. Bulgaria and Romania are the
only associate EU members whose citizens need visas to enter
the EU. PB

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