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RFE/RL NEWSLINE

RFE/RL NEWSLINE Vol. 2, No. 141 Part II, 24 July 1998


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RFE/RL NEWSLINE Vol. 2, No. 141  Part II, 24 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

* IMF MISSION IN KYIV TO DECIDE ON $2 BILLION LOAN

* FLOODING SPREADS TO CZECH REPUBLIC, POLAND

* NATO TROOPS ARREST WRONG SERBIAN TWINS

End Note: U.S.-UKRAINIAN RELATIONS AFTER GORE'S TRIP TO KYIV

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EAST-CENTRAL EUROPE

GORE IN CHORNOBYL, URGES ECONOMIC REFORM IN UKRAINE. U.S.
Vice President Al Gore on 23 July visited Chornobyl and the
town of Prypyat, whose 55,000 inhabitants were evacuated
after the 1986 nuclear accident. The site is a "menacing
monument to mistakes of the century now slipping away from
us," AP quoted Gore as saying. Ukrainian President Leonid
Kuchma announced the same day that he and Gore will convene a
conference of private donors to raise funds to strengthen the
concrete sarcophagus covering the reactor that collapsed in
the 1986 nuclear accident. Winding up his visit, Gore
repeated his call to Ukraine to carry out economic reform in
order to attract foreign loans. "I am confident that if
Ukraine carries out a truly bold program of economic reforms,
the international community is prepared to respond with new
financial support," Reuters quoted him as saying (see also
"End Note" below). JM

IMF MISSION IN KYIV TO DECIDE ON $2 BILLION LOAN. An IMF
mission arrived in Kyiv on 23 July to make a final decision
on a $2 billion loan to Ukraine. If the IMF decision is
positive, the World Bank will release credits to Ukraine
totaling $800 million, Ukrainian Television reported. The
Ukrainian government sees a possible IMF loan as crucial to
stave off Ukraine's financial collapse and  to continue
economic reforms. The IMF, for its part, is afraid that
Ukraine's leftist-dominated parliament may frustrate the
government's reformist efforts. "Finally, Ukraine has agreed
a very sensible program with us, but they're having great
troubles getting it through the parliament," Reuters quoted
IMF First Deputy Managing Director Stanley Fischer as saying
on 23 July. JM

LUKASHENKA SAYS DIPLOMATIC CONFLICT DUE TO 'MORE COMPLEX'
REASONS... Belarusian President Alyaksandr Lukashenka says
the conflict over the eviction of Western ambassadors from
the Drazdy compound was caused by issues other than repairs
to the compound utility systems, ITAR-TASS reported on 23
July. "This was not only the sewage system. There were issues
both more interesting and more complex," he said. He promised
to reveal what he alluded to the reasons of the conflict "in
due time." And he added that U.S. has threatened to break
diplomatic relations with Belarus unless marines are allowed
to be stationed at the U.S. ambassador's residence at Drazdy.
"I am not receiving ultimatums," AP quoted him as saying. JM

...WHILE U.S. EMBASSY DENIES THREATENING TO BREAK TIES WITH
MINSK. A spokesman of the U.S. embassy in Minsk said on 23
July that the U.S. State Department has never demanded that
marines be stationed at the U.S. ambassador's residence, as
claimed by Lukashenka. The spokesman explained that the U.S.
has demanded that the Belarusian government allow the
ambassador's bodyguards--Belarusian citizens--to enter the
compound in order to restore "the situation that existed
before the withdrawal of the ambassador," ITAR-TASS reported.
The embassy also confirmed that the U.S. wishes to maintain
diplomatic relations with Belarus, dpa reported. JM

ANTANOVICH SUGGESTS SOME DIPLOMATS MAY RETURN TO DRAZDY.
Belarusian Foreign Minister Ivan Antanovich suggested on 23
July that some diplomats may return to their residences at
Drazdy after the completion of repairs, Belapan and ITAR-TASS
reported. Antanovich said the Drazdy compound has been
declared the presidential residence and authorities are now
determining its boundaries. "[But] some part of the Drazdy
territory will remain free, including for settlement
purposes," ITAR-TASS quoted him as saying. Referring to the
residence of the U.S. ambassador, which is next to
Lukashenka's,  Antanovich said that "in no country in the
world, even a friendly one, is an ambassador allowed to share
a fence with the president." JM

FEW LATVIANS ABROAD SIGN REFERENDUM PETITION SO FAR. BNS
reported on 23 July that only a small number of Latvians
living abroad have so far signed the petition in favor of
holding a referendum on recent amendments to the citizenship
law. Signatures are being collected at embassies in 20
embassies worldwide, as well as consulates in major cities.
According to the news agency, fewer than 10 citizens living
abroad have signed the proposal since the collection of
signatures began on 20 July. The last day for collecting
signatures is 18 August. JC

LITHUANIAN PRESIDENT, PREMIER DISCUSS CONTROVERSIAL BILLS. At
talks during the evening of 22 July, Lithuanian Prime
Minister  Gediminas Vagnorius said he supports President
Valdas Adamkus's opinion that the recently passed lustration
law is "dubious from the point of view of the constitution
and international law," BNS reported, citing the press
service of the President's Office. Adamkus and Vagnorius also
discussed amendments to the tax law adopted earlier this
summer. Those changes, which would impose new taxes on
capital gains and dividends, prompted strong protests by
stock  brokers. The president must decide by 24 July whether
to sign the amendments into law. JC

PARLIAMENTARY DEPUTIES QUIT COALITION OVER GDANSK SHIPYARD
SALE. Several deputies from the Polish Family, a Roman
Catholic group within the ruling Solidarity Electoral Action
(AWS), have quit the AWS parliamentary caucus, Polish Radio
reported on 23 July. The reason for the separation was the
consent given by the District Court in Gdansk for the
purchase of the Gdansk Shipyard by the Gdynia Shipyard in
association with the Warsaw-based Evip Progress company. The
Gdansk Shipyard, which is the cradle of Poland's Solidarity
movement, was declared bankrupt two years ago. JM

FIFA THREATENS TO SUSPEND POLAND FROM INTERNATIONAL SOCCER.
The International Federation of Football Associations (FIFA)
threatened on 23 July to exclude Poland's national team and
clubs from international soccer events unless the government
reinstates sacked officials of the Polish Soccer Associations
(PZPN). In May, Poland's Physical Culture and Tourism Office
head Jacek Debski suspended the entire PZPN leadership,
accusing them of incompetence. FIFA rules say that national
soccer associations must be independent of governments, while
the FIFA ultimatum says Debski must  reinstate PZPN officials
by  7 August. According to Reuters, Debski remains adamant
and threatens to sue FIFA in an international court if the
latter imposes its ban on Poland. The current crisis
underlines the poor state of soccer in Poland, whose national
team failed to qualify for the last three World Cups. JM

FLOODING SPREADS TO CZECH REPUBLIC, POLAND. Flooding from
torrential rain on 22-23 July has resulted in the death of
four people in Poland and three in the Czech Republic .
Hardest hit were two villages some 120 kilometers east of
Prague and  Polish villages in the Klodzko and Walbrzych
provinces, which suffered severe flood damage one year ago.
Six Polish villages and five Czech villages have had to be
evacuated. Meanwhile in Slovakia, the death toll has risen to
36. Some 50 people still missing, and officials said water in
local streams has reached its highest level in 500 years,
Reuters reported. MS

CZECH FINANCE MINISTER AIMS AT 'BALANCED' 1999 BUDGET. Ivo
Svoboda told journalists in Prague on 23 July that his
"personal aim is to create a balanced budget" for 1999, but
he added that he is uncertain this will be possible "in the
present [economic] environment." Svoboda said the
stabilization of the economy, which began in 1997 with
austerity measures launched by the government and the Central
Bank, is expected to end in 1999, paving the way for economic
growth, Reuters reported. He also said the new cabinet will
continue the process of privatizing banks and deregulating
rents and energy prices. MS

EIGHTEEN PARTIES TO COMPETE IN SLOVAK ELECTIONS. Interior
Ministry official Jan Liska told Reuters on 23 July that 18
parties have registered to run in the 25-26 September general
elections and that the ministry is now checking whether all
parties and candidates fulfill the legal provisions to run.
The election campaign starts officially on 26 August. Polls
give only six parties a realistic chance of crossing the 5
percent threshold necessary for parliamentary representation.
Those parties include are Vladimir Meciar's Movement for a
Democratic Slovakia and its coalition party, the Slovak
National Party. Four opposition parties--the Slovak
Democratic Coalition, the Party of Civic Understanding, the
Democratic Left, and the Hungarian Coalition Party--are also
likely to gain representation. MS

HUNGARY ANNULS SOCIALIST GOVERNMENT'S DECISION ON DAM. The
cabinet headed by Viktor Orban on 23 July annulled a decision
by Gyula Horn's government to go ahead with the construction
of the controversial Gabcikovo-Nagymaros dam, Reuters
reported. It said the decision of the former cabinet, taken
in the wake of the ruling of the International Court of
Justice in The Hague in September 1997, forced the country
into an uneconomical "prestige project" that was also a "huge
environmental risk." The statement said the new government
wants to "do everything" to reach an agreement with Slovakia
and to "uphold Hungary's legal obligations" in line with the
decision of the court. But it stressed that Hungary will do
so only after carrying out studies on environmental effects.
MS

SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE

KOSOVAR PARLIAMENT SAYS PEACE STILL POSSIBLE. Representatives
of the underground Kosovar legislature issued a declaration
in Prishtina on 22 July saying that "the possibilities for
dialogue and a peaceful solution, although greatly reduced,
have not been exhausted. Therefore, while not giving up
vigilance and self-defense, let us try to use them. Let us
cooperate more and coordinate our efforts with all those who
can help us, with the Republic of Albania, with [other
Albanians in the Balkans], and with the diaspora." The
statement did not include any concrete suggestions regarding
a solution. The legislature also recognized the Kosova
Liberation Army (UCK) as a legitimate Kosovar organization.
Shadow-state President Ibrahim Rugova added that "we should
have done this long ago." Until earlier this year, Rugova and
most civilian leaders referred to the UCK fighters as
"frustrated individuals" or denied that the UCK was anything
more than a creation of Serbian propaganda. PM

RUGOVA'S PARTY APPEALS TO HAGUE COURT. The Democratic League
of Kosova (LDK) said in a statement in Prishtina on 23 July
that Serbian forces are carrying out a policy of "genocide
against the ethnic Albanians" in the province. The LDK called
on the Hague-based war crimes tribunal to prosecute those who
ordered as well as those who carried out "these war crimes."
Meanwhile in Paris, the Assembly of the Western European
Union adopted a resolution stating that chances for a
peaceful resolution of the Kosovar crisis are "minimal"
because the international community did not "intervene" at
the beginning of the conflict, RFE/RL's South Slavic Service
reported. The text also noted that Serbian forces are
carrying out a strategic "cleansing" of the border area with
Albania (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 23 July 1998). PM

UCK CONTROLS SERBIAN MONASTERY. Father Sava, who is the
spokesman for Serbian Orthodox Bishop Artemije, said in Decan
on 23 July that UCK forces have taken control of a monastery
near Zociste south of Rahovec. Sava noted that the monastery
does not have police protection, the Belgrade daily "Danas"
reported. The monk added that the guerrillas did not allow
the clergy to take either their personal belongings or Church
artifacts with them when they left. "The Independent"
reported that Sava and his fellow monks at Decan are active
both on the ground and on the Internet to promote
reconciliation between Serbs and ethnic Albanians. PM

LARGE UCK PRESENCE REPORTED IN TROPOJA. A Reuters
correspondent visiting Tropoja in northeastern Albania on 23
July reported that UCK fighters have transformed the town
into "a virtual military base." He reported that UCK soldiers
openly train without interference from the Albanian police
and that there is an open-air weapons market in the town
center. OSCE Field Officer Christopher Dwan said, however,
that the presence of Serbian troops along the border "makes
it difficult for UCK fighters to cross into Kosova." Tropoja
and other northeastern towns have traditionally been lawless
and difficult for the Tirana authorities to control. FS

U.S. ENVOY CALLS FOR MILITARY AID TO ALBANIA. Christopher
Hill, who is U.S. ambassador to Macedonia,  told NATO
officials in Ohrid on 23 July that Albania needs urgent help
to strengthen its army and its political and economic
institutions, unidentified diplomatic sources told Reuters.
Hill stressed that the Albanian government is unable to
assert itself in the "wild" northern borderlands and that if
nothing is done quickly, Albanian territory may become firmly
established as a support base for the UCK. Such a development
could provoke a military response from Serbia and lead to an
expansion of the conflict, they added. NATO Secretary-General
Javier Solana said the alliance has no plans to use
Macedonian territory for any military intervention in Kosova.
NATO will hold exercises involving 25 countries in Macedonia
in September as part of the Partnership for Peace program. FS

TURKISH LEGISLATORS APPROVE ALBANIAN DEPLOYMENT. The Turkish
parliament on 23 July authorized the stationing of soldiers
in Albania. The decision is designed to show support for
Albania in the Kosova crisis. It also gives the government
the right to decide about the size, place, and time of any
deployment. Turkey currently has only a small contingent of
soldiers in Albania, who train troops and help reconstruct
the naval base at Pasha Liman, near Vlora. FS

ALBANIAN GOVERNMENT CRACKS DOWN ON DRAFT DODGERS. Minister
for Local Government Bashkim Fino on 23 July ordered all
prefects to increase their efforts to recruit young men for
the army because of the increase of tensions along the
Kosovar border. Fino said that his aim is to double the
number of soldiers by the end of September. To help achieve
that goal, he told the prefects to take "harsh measures"
against draft evaders. He added that the local government and
the army must work together to update draft lists and
apprehend draft dodgers. FS

ALBANIAN RADIO, TELEVISION GETS NEW HEAD. The Council of
Directors of Albanian Radio and Television (RTSH) has
appointed Ardian Klosi as director-general. A professor of
philosophy at Munich University in recent years, Klosi
replaces film director Albert Minga. Journalists in Tirana
told an RFE/RL correspondent that they expect Klosi to speed
up the transformation of RTSH into a public broadcasting
institution along West European lines. They added that Klosi
is likely to be more determined than Minga in introducing
reforms and in resisting attempts by politicians to interfere
with broadcasters' autonomy. FS

NATO TROOPS ARREST WRONG SERBIAN TWINS. A spokeswoman for the
Hague-based war crimes tribunal said at the court on 23 July
that two Bosnian Serb brothers seized by British SAS forces
in Prijedor earlier that day and taken to the Netherlands are
not the indicted Banovic twins Nenad and Predrag (see "RFE/RL
Situation Report," 23 July 1998). "These two persons are not
the Banovic brothers. They are people who have nothing to do
with this," she added. The spokeswoman did not reveal the
identity of the two men, except to note that they have the
same birthday as the Banovices, the London daily "Guardian"
wrote. Meanwhile in Banja Luka, Serbian authorities refused
to allow the funeral of Imam Ibrahim Halilovic to take place
at the site of the destroyed 16th century Ferhadija mosque,
where he had worked for years. Halilovic will be buried in
Sarajevo instead, RFE/RL's South Slavic Service reported. PM

TUDJMAN BACKING DOWN ON PAY HIKES? Croatian President Franjo
Tudjman told Prime Minister Zlatko Matesa and cabinet members
on Brijuni on 23 July that they should "take another look" at
their recent decision to raise their pay and that of other
government officials (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 13 July 1998).
The decision put Tudjman's own salary at more than $8,000 per
month in a country where the average monthly wages are $400
and where many pensioners have to make do with much less than
even that. The pay hikes have proven a political bonanza for
opposition parties. PM

ROMANIAN PREMIER CRITICIZES FINANCE, PRIVATIZATION
MINISTRIES. At a cabinet meeting on 23 July, Radu Vasile
criticized the performance of the Finance and Privatization
Ministries and asked their heads to take immediate steps to
collect anticipated budget revenues. Vasile said the
Privatization Ministry has failed to meet the planned pace of
privatization and that this negatively affects the country's
image among foreign investors. He also said the State
Property Fund, which is subordinated to the ministry, is "a
bureaucratic, oversized, and slow-moving" body. He accused
the Finance Ministry of being responsible for "inefficient
tax collection" and "heavy bureaucracy." The government  the
same day announced stakes will be sold in the Romanian Bank
for Development and Postbank. Meanwhile a spokesman for the
ruling  Democratic Party said a government reshuffle may take
place in fall, RFE/RL's Bucharest bureau reported. MS

FUNAR TO JOIN GREATER ROMANIA PARTY. A Bucharest court on 23
July rejected Cluj Mayor Gheorghe Funar's appeal against the
refusal of the Bucharest Municipal Tribunal to register his
Party of Romanian Unity Alliance. That party was formed after
Funar's exclusion from the Party of Romanian National Unity.
Funar said he and his supporters will now join the extremist
Greater Romania Party, which has offered him the post of
executive chairman. Also on 23 July, a court in Bucharest has
issued a ruling on the  Romanian National Party's appeal
against the refusal of the tribunal to register it under that
name. The court returned the dossier to the court, asking it
to re-examine the case. MS

MOLDOVAN DEPUTIES OPPOSE TRANSIT OF NUCLEAR WASTE. Alecu
Renita, chairman of the parliament's Ecological  Sub-
Committee, is demanding that Prime Minister Ion Ciubuc
explain to the house why Minister of State Nicolae Cernomaz
approved a license for the transportation of nuclear waste
from Bulgaria's Kozloduy nuclear plant to Russia, RFE/RL's
Chisinau bureau reported on 23 July. Moldovan legislation
prohibits the transit of nuclear waste. Cernomaz, for his
part, claims that the license permits only the transportation
of nuclear fuel from Russia to Bulgaria under "perfectly safe
conditions" and that such transports have been carried out
for the "last decades." Renita says the Bulgarian ambassador
to Chisinau has asked the  sub-committee to amend the law so
as to allow for the transportation of nuclear waste to
Russia. MS

BULGARIA ANNOUNCES ANTI-CRIME STRATEGY. The government
publicized a package of measures to fight conventional,
organized, and cross-border crime, Reuters reported. The
document was approved last week. Details released on 23 July
say the struggle against organized crime  "is a key element
in the government's plan to secure normal conditions for
economic reforms." MS

U.S.-UKRAINIAN RELATIONS AFTER GORE'S TRIP TO KYIV

by Sherman W. Garnett

	U.S. Vice President Al Gore's trip to Kyiv this week
ended with his resisting Ukrainian President Leonid Kuchma's
calls for public U.S endorsement of an IMF bail-out package.
Kuchma sought such an endorsement to strengthen both his
bargaining position with an IMF delegation arriving this
weekend and his political standing as he seeks re-election
next year.  He had counted on US help on  both accounts.
	Yet, there are good reasons why Gore hesitated. First,
although no one doubts the seriousness of Ukraine's economic
crisis,  as early as next month the government may not be
able to meet its debt service obligations. There are
widespread doubts about the Ukrainian government's commitment
to reforms as well as its ability to implement them if
adopted.
	Second, bad economic policy is not the only source of
this crisis.  Bad politics are at work as well.   The
Ukrainian political establishment does not see political and
economic reforms as an urgent matter.  The most intense
struggles in Ukrainian politics take place, not between
parties, ideologies, or branches of government but among the
political and economic leadership, in both Kyiv and the
regions.  Various coalitions of leading politicians, bankers,
new- and old-style business leaders and government
bureaucrats struggle for control over the state's wealth and
especially for the positions of state power that control it
(and that make the rules for its privatization).  As long as
Ukrainian politics is dominated by this  still unfinished
competition for power and property, there will be little
energy left for sound economic policy.
 	Third, the US is right to be wary of appearing to back a
candidate in the  Ukrainian presidential race given the
absence of real progress toward ending the country's
political and economic stagnation.  For Kuchma, the bail-out
is a crucial element in his re-election campaign.  The
presidential contest has influenced most of the decisions
taken in Kyiv during the last six months and will likely
influence all decisions in the next 15.  Yet the U.S. wants
an independent and stable Ukraine.  Kuchma has real
accomplishments to his credit, especially in foreign policy
and in launching the first set of economic reforms in 1994.
But he is presiding over a country heading backward.  In such
circumstances, the U.S. must be pro-reform, not pro-Kuchma.
	Vice President Gore heard from Kuchma and his senior
advisers another impassioned argument for U.S. and Western
assistance to Ukraine and to Kuchma personally: the fiscal
crisis and the resulting economic and political damage that
will come in its wake, threatening the "survival of the state
itself."
	Yet it is precisely Ukraine's survival that is not an
issue. Even the staunchest left-wing politicians in eastern
Ukraine dismiss the collapse of the Ukrainian state and its
re-integration with Russia as an  impossible scenario.
	Rather, the question is now what kind of state Ukraine
will become. The broad alternatives can be stated starkly as
a choice between gradually becoming a part of Europe or
remaining relegated to Europe's periphery.  A European
Ukraine requires bold choices and actions that have so far
been beyond the ability of this or any other Ukrainian
government.  A peripheral  Ukraine comes by default: the
leadership need only follow the political rules of the game
already deeply ingrained in the country.
	If this is the state of Ukrainian politics, why should
the West care?  If  Ukraine has successfully muddled through
so far., why not let it continue down this road?  Perhaps the
West should simply let the Ukrainian leadership steer the
country toward stagnation and obscurity on Europe's
periphery.  As tempting as such a conclusion is, Ukraine's
choice between Europe and Europe's periphery matters to the
continent as a whole.
	A choice in favor of the status quo does not merely
perpetuate today's Ukraine. It undermines the foundations
that have made the current situation bearable inside the
country and less dangerous for Ukraine's neighbors.  It would
certainly put in danger the policies that have dramatically
lowered inflation and brought Ukraine a stable currency.  It
would exacerbate economic deprivation in the country as a
whole, particularly along crucial ethnic and regional fault
lines.  A peripheral Ukraine would increase the danger that
enlarging European institutions like NATO and the EU would
find themselves on a much more unpredictable and unstable
frontier.
	These strategic realities give visits like Gore's
additional importance.  Senior U.S. and Western officials
cannot force the Ukrainian leadership to act against its
immediate political interests.  They cannot impose economic
reforms on an unwilling country.  Yet they must be a strong
stimulus for these reforms by reminding Ukraine of the choice
it faces and  the consequences of failing to act.  They must
also sketch out--as they did so successfully to a Ukraine
unsure of whether it should proceed with nuclear disarmament-
-the support Kyiv can count on if it recognizes the
seriousness of the situation and makes the hard reform
decisions needed for the country to move forward.

The author is a senior associate with the Carnegie Endowment
Russian-Eurasian Program.

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