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RFE/RL NEWSLINE

RFE/RL NEWSLINE Vol. 2, No. 143 Part II, 28 July 1998


___________________________________________________________
RFE/RL NEWSLINE Vol. 2, No. 143 Part II, 28 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

* DEATH TOLL CONTINUES TO RISE IN SLOVAK FLOODING

* SERBS MAKE BIG GAINS IN KOSOVA

* BOSNIAN SERBS SACK MEDIA CHIEFS

End Note: NO PROGRESS ON CROSS-BORDER COOPERATION WITHOUT
FIXED BORDER
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EAST-CENTRAL EUROPE

BELARUSIANS CELEBRATE BANNED INDEPENDENCE DAY. Some 3,000
people marched in Minsk on 27 July to celebrate Independence
Day, which was struck from the calendar following the
November 1996 referendum. President Alyaksandr Lukashenka
has moved the holiday to 3 July, which marks the Soviet
liberation of Belarus from German troops in World War II.
The demonstrators marched under banned white-red-white flags
and carried placards reading "Long live independent Belarus"
and "Freedom of speech to Belarus," AP reported. They
adopted a resolution condemning the Russia-Belarus Union
treaty and violations of human rights under Lukashenka.
Minsk authorities granted permission for the demonstration,
which was organized by three opposition parties: the
Belarusian Popular Front, the United Civic Party, and the
Social Democratic Party. JM

LUKASHENKA TO ATTEND UN SESSION ON HUMAN RIGHTS. A
Belarusian delegation headed by President Lukashenka will
attend a UN session in New York in late September marking
the 50th anniversary of the Universal Declaration on Human
Rights, Belarusian Radio reported on 27 July. According to
Foreign Minister Ivan Antanovich, Lukashenka is preparing
for the session "very seriously." The minister added that
Lukashenka will deliver a report that will have a
"fundamental character." JM

UKRAINIAN CENTRAL BANKER OPTIMISTIC ABOUT PROSPECTS FOR IMF
LOAN... National Bank Chairman Viktor Yushchenko said on 27
July that he believes the IMF will approve a $2-2.5 billion
loan to Ukraine, Ukrainian News reported. An IMF mission is
currently in Kyiv to discuss conditions for the loan. "The
fund is not insisting we meet all the starting conditions of
the [loan] program. Ukraine should show that the measures
that have already been taken will lead to the desired
result, particularly to a balanced budget," he commented.
Yushchenko said the IMF agrees that its main condition--
reducing Ukraine's 1998 budget deficit to 2.3 percent of
GDP--could be met by passing a governmental resolution or a
presidential decree. Despite repeated appeals by President
Leonid Kuchma, the Ukrainian parliament adjourned on 24 July
for the summer recess without approving the required budget
deficit reduction. JM

...AND FOR KEEPING NATIONAL CURRENCY WITHIN EXCHANGE
CORRIDOR. Yushchenko also vowed to keep Ukraine's embattled
currency, the hryvnya, within the previously established
exchange corridor of 1.8-2.25 to $1. The National Bank "is
so convinced in its strategy on the financial market that it
is not even discussing any other version of the corridor,"
AP quoted Yushchenko as saying. The hryvnya is facing
pressure because of foreign investors' lack of trust in
Ukraine's financial market. In August, Ukraine must repay
$500 million of its $18 billion foreign debt. Domestic
payment arrears by the end of June reached nearly 6 billion
hryvni (some $3 billion). A possible IMF loan is widely seen
as preventing Ukraine's financial collapse. JM

LITHUANIAN AUTHORITIES TO BUY THIS YEAR'S GRAIN HARVEST.
Lithuanian Minister of Agriculture Edvardas Makelis on 28
July announced the "administration has taken on the burden
of purchasing all commodity grains grown in Lithuania this
year, paying farmers favorable prices," BNS reported. The
minister promised that roughly 70 percent of the price of
grains sold would be paid to farmers immediately so that
they have funds to sow new crops. The administration will
provide some 40 million litas ($10 million) in supplementary
funding to help pay for the grains. Lithuania's farmers have
threatened to block all roads throughout the country on 1
August to protest the low minimum prices for agricultural
products (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 28 July 1998). JC

POLISH PRESIDENT SIGNS ADMINISTRATIVE DIVISION LAW.
Aleksander Kwasniewski on 27 July signed the law
consolidating Poland's 49 provinces into 16 new ones. The
law, adopted by the lower house on 18 July and approved by
the upper house on 24 July, is a political compromise
between the Solidarity-led ruling coalition and the
opposition Left Democratic Alliance, which had bickered for
some six months over administrative reform. Kwasniewski said
he hopes the new law will help "decentralize the state,
strengthen local governments and citizens' powers," AP
reported. JM

HAVEL REMAINS ON ARTIFICIAL RESPIRATOR. President Vaclav
Havel, who underwent surgery on 26 July, will continue to
receive breathing support for three or four days, CTK
reported. The doctors treating him say the president's lungs
are not yet "functioning normally" but that his state of
health is "in accordance with expectations." Havel has no
temperature and is able to talk, but some laboratory tests
"are not optimal," the doctors say. MS

CZECH GOVERNMENT WANTS SAY IN INFLATION TARGETS. In his
first major policy statement since the new cabinet was sworn
in, Prime Minister Milos Zeman on 24 July told journalists
that not only the Czech National Bank but also the
government must participate in setting inflation targets.
Zeman said the government "respects the independence of the
National Bank" but it "would be totally absurd if the bank
alone were to set the inflation targets," Reuters reported.
The previous day, the Central Bank, headed by former interim
Premier Josef Tosovsky, said it is not considering changing
its current inflation targets, set at 5.5-6.5 percent for
this year. MS

SKINHEADS TO BE BANNED IN CZECH REPUBLIC? Zeman on 26 July
told Prima Television his cabinet is considering banning
skinheads and will take a much tougher line against them
than did the previous government, CTK reported. He said the
"skinhead movement", though not officially registered, is
"organized" and has published magazines "spreading national
and racial intolerance." MS

DEATH TOLL CONTINUES TO RISE IN SLOVAK FLOODING. The death
toll from last week's floods in northeastern Slovakia is now
put at 39, with 24 people still missing, Reuters reported on
27 July, citing TASR. Interior Minister Gustav Krajci
estimated the cost of the damage at up to 1.5 billion Slovak
crowns ($43 million). In the neighboring Czech Republic,
some 500 troops were mobilized to help flooded areas in the
eastern part of the country, as weather forecasts predicted
more heavy rains. Six people were killed in flooding in the
region last week. According to preliminary estimates, the
cost of the damage so far totals 1 billion Czech crowns
($31.80 million). MS

SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE

SERBS MAKE BIG GAINS IN KOSOVA. Yugoslav army forces and
Serbian paramilitary police have driven the Kosova
Liberation Army (UCK) from large stretches of the Prishtina-
Pec highway, including the Llapushnik area, in an offensive
that began on 24 July (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 27 July 1998).
Reuters reported on 27 July that the Serbs "left [behind] a
combat zone landscape resembling central Bosnia, with burnt-
out houses, shot-up vehicles, abandoned trenches, roads
littered with spent bullet casings, wandering farm animals
and the ever-present danger of sniper fire." It is unclear
how many persons died or how many fled. The army and police
have meanwhile cut off the UCK stronghold of Junik and
called on its defenders to surrender. In Prishtina, the
Democratic League of Kosova said in a statement that the
Serbian goal is "ethnic cleansing and a Kosova without
Albanians." PM

KOSOVARS CHARGE SELL-OUT. The Prishtina daily "Bujku" wrote
on 27 July that "the crime, which is assuming dimensions of
genocide and large-scale ethnic cleansing, is being
committed with the [tacit] approval of the European Union
and the U.S. administration.... Milosevic was given a green
light to carry on with ethnic cleansing in Kosova... The
fact that the world has not criticized the Serbian
government's [recent] decision to extend to five kilometers
the security zone along the [Kosova-Albania] border is also
evidence that the Balkan criminals are being pampered.... In
the wake of the crime they have condoned, the EU and the
U.S. will see to it that the parties come to the negotiating
table: Albanians as victims, Serbs as victors." PM

ALBANIAN FOREIGN MINISTER SAYS BELGRADE CONDUCTING 'ETHNIC
CLEANSING.' Speaking in Tirana on 27 July, Paskal Milo
accused the federal Yugoslav government with carrying out
"ethnic cleansing operations" in Kosova. He also condemned
the recent mining by Serbian forces of areas along the
border with Kosova as "violations of international law." He
said that move was intended to "prevent Kosovar refugees
from crossing into Albania." Milo also sent a strong protest
letter to the Yugoslav embassy over a series of recent
border incidents (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 27 July 1998).
Meanwhile, an Interior Ministry spokesman said that a
Serbian shell landed on Albanian territory near Tropoja that
day. FS

U.S. 'DEEPLY CONCERNED' ABOUT KOSOVA. State Department
spokesman James Rubin said on 27 July that the U.S. is
"deeply concerned about the increased fighting that has
taken place... over the weekend. We are concerned in
particular about the increased involvement in the fighting
by the Serb army. We are especially concerned about the
large number of displaced persons this new fighting has
caused, and they are currently inaccessible to humanitarian
assistance because of the fighting. We urge both sides, in
the strongest possible terms, to cease the
fighting and work towards a negotiated settlement." PM

RUSSIA, GREECE URGE NEGOTIATED SETTLEMENT. Russian Foreign
Minister Yevgenii Primakov said on 28 July at the ASEAN
summit in Manila, the Philippines, that "the main task is to
resume, without preconditions, the interrupted negotiating
process between Belgrade and the leaders" of the Kosovars.
He added that the problem of Kosova's status "could be
solved through granting the province a broad autonomy. We
oppose any solution which would lead to secession...as well
as any outside intervention with the use of force." Primakov
stressed that Russia is "actively contributing to the
efforts to overcome the crisis while stressing the need for
a balanced pressure on both sides." In Athens, Greek Foreign
Ministry spokesmen said that Prime Minister Kostas Simitis
sent a letter to Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic the
previous day calling for a peaceful solution to the Kosovar
crisis and an increase in the number of Western observers
allowed to monitor developments there. PM

GLIGOROV WARNS CRISIS COULD SPREAD. Macedonian President
Kiro Gligorov said in Skopje that the Kosovar conflict could
spread to Macedonia, which has a 23 percent ethnic Albanian
minority, RFE/RL's South Slavic Service reported on 27 July.
He added that the expanded war "could lead to changes in the
ethnic map of Macedonia," which in turn could prove
"dangerous" for neighboring countries. He did not elaborate.
Also in Skopje, Defense Minister Lazar Kitanovski and Victor
Babiuc, his Romanian counterpart, signed an agreement on
military cooperation. Kitanovski turned down Babiuc's offer
to contribute Romanian troops to the UN's peacekeeping
mission in Macedonia, UNPREDEP, Radio Bucharest reported.
Kitanovski told Babiuc that Macedonia prefers to limit
UNPREDEP to U.S. and Scandinavian forces "in order to avoid
problems." He did not elaborate. Babiuc noted that the UN
has not responded to Romania's offer of 300 soldiers for the
mission. PM

BOSNIAN SERBS SACK MEDIA CHIEFS. Republika Srpska
Information Minister Rajko Vasic said in Banja Luka on 27
July that the government has replaced the directors and
editorial staffs of 11 radio and five television local
stations. Vasic added that those fired were hard-line
nationalists who were "frequently a source of misinformation
and inflammatory reports...[and] prevented the truth from
reaching the residents of the Republika Srpska." Spokesmen
for the Serbian Democratic Party of Radovan Karadzic said in
response to the sackings that the Banja Luka authorities are
"terrorizing their political opponents," Reuters wrote.
General elections are slated for 12-13 September. PM

EVIDENCE LACKING AGAINST TOP ALBANIAN GANGSTER. Prosecutor-
General Arben Rakipi told "Shekulli" on 27 July that he does
not have enough evidence to launch legal proceedings against
imprisoned gang leader Myrteza "Zani" Caushi. Rakipi added
that eyewitness testimony alone is insufficient to start a
trial. He added that he is legally obliged to release Caushi
on 28 September, which will be one year after his arrest, if
sufficient evidence is not submitted by that date. Caushi
led dozens of armed bandits in Vlora during the March 1997
uprising and is widely suspected of having killed four
people and kidnapped six, including one child. In other
news, unidentified gunmen shot and killed the head of the
local Socialist Party in Sukth, west of Tirana, on 27 July.
FS

ROMANIAN OPPOSITION PARTIES CRITICIZE ORBAN STATEMENT. The
main opposition Party of Social Democracy in Romania (PDSR)
on 27 July called on Premier Radu Vasile to condemn publicly
Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban's recent "ultimatum."
Orban had urged support for the setting up of a Hungarian
language university in Transylvania and had said that if the
university is not set up "there is nothing more to talk
about" (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 28 July 1998). The PDSR said
"the process of instituting joint sovereignty in
Transylvania" must be immediately stopped. The chauvinist
Greater Romania Party demanded that Orban be declared
persona non grata in Romania. Meanwhile, the nationalist
Party of Romanian National Unity accused President Emil
Constantinescu and the government of displaying an
"ambiguous positions" towards the Hungarian demands. MS

MOLDOVAN DEPUTY PREMIER ON LAND PRIVATIZATION. Valentin
Dolganiuc on 27 July told an RFE/RL correspondent in
Chisinau that the parliament must amend the 1992 land
privatization law, as well as its amended 1995 version to
allow for "real" land privatization to take place. Dolganiuc
said that only some 10 percent of those entitled to receive
land have done so, owing to "procrastination" by local
authorities. He said that the government has already
approved a new draft law on land privatization and that he
hopes reforms will be carried out by spring 1999. MS

BULGARIAN PRESIDENT OPPOSES EMBARGO ON YUGOSLAVIA. President
Petar Stoyanov told Leni Fischer, chairwoman of the
Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, in Sofia on
23 July that if the international community decides to
tighten sanctions against Belgrade, "we will be loyal." But
he stressed that a new embargo on Yugoslavia will have a
negative impact on Bulgaria's efforts at reforming its
economy, ITAR-TASS reported. Fischer stressed the need to
settle the Kosova conflict by taking into account the
interests of both Yugoslavia and Albania, as well as those
of neighboring countries. MS

END NOTE

NO PROGRESS ON CROSS-BORDER COOPERATION WITHOUT FIXED BORDER

by Wim van Meurs and Iris Kempe

	Negotiations on an Estonian-Russian border treaty
began in 1994, three years after then RSFSR President Boris
Yeltsin recognized Estonian independence. Both the Estonian
and the Russian parties have changed their positions and
amended their arguments since then. In early 1996, some
progress was made on the maritime border, but the 1920 Tartu
Peace Treaty remained a stumbling block to the land
frontier. Estonia insisted on the validity of that treaty
without--as Estonian diplomats claimed--any "territorial
strings" attached. Moscow, for its part, rejected that
stance and linked the signing of the treaty to the treatment
of the Russian minority in Estonia.
	Estonian Prime Minister Mart Siimann finally opted for
a treaty containing no reference to Tartu, but in early
1998, the Russian side pushed for negotiations to be
reopened. Several inconclusive meetings followed, and talks
are scheduled to continue after the summer recess.
	Under the Tartu treaty, Soviet Russia recognized
Estonian independence and accepted a border demarcation
somewhat east of the frontier between the former tsarist
provinces. In the north, Narva had joined Estonia by
referendum in late 1917, and the treaty added several
villages on the left bank of the Narva River. In the south,
the region around Petseri, previously part of Pskov Oblast,
was incorporated into the Estonian state. When Stalin
occupied Estonia in fall 1944, he restored the tsarist
border, this time as a demarcation between the Estonian SSR
and Leningrad Oblast to the north and Pskov Oblast to the
south.
	Evidently, the current conflict is about national
symbols rather than minor Russian-inhabited territories
(totaling 2,322 square kilometers)--above all, the
continuity of the Estonian nation-state within its 1920
borders. No nationalist conservative politician in Tallinn
expects Russia to cede any piece of Russian territory, which
in any case would only increase the size of the Russian
minority in Estonia. Nevertheless, with the perception of
statehood continuity acting as such a potent legitimizing
symbol in contemporary Estonian politics, Siimann's decision
to formally cede territories was surprising, more so than
conservative politicians' insistence on historical rights.
	The consequences of the delay in signing the Estonian-
Russian border treaty are threefold. First, the conflict has
a European dimension. It was definitely no coincidence that
Siimann made his compromise on the eve of the NATO and EU
enlargement decisions. And Russian Foreign Minister Yevgenii
Primakov's recent demand that Estonia guarantee that Tartu
will not be mentioned in connection with the Estonian
parliament's ratification of the treaty can be understood
only as an attempt to mobilize national conservative forces
within Estonia against the treaty. With parliamentary
elections due in Estonia next spring, more of the same can
be expected from Moscow.
	While keeping its relations with Estonia in a state of
limbo, Moscow overlooks negative consequences at the local
and regional levels. Surprisingly, the same applies to
Tallinn: the Estonian government, for example, seems to
worry more about the Setu, an Estonian-speaking, Russian-
Orthodox minority in the Petseri region, than about the
socio-economic situation in the backward Estonian border
regions: In 1997, the government allocated a total of 60
million kroons (some $4 million) for regional policies and
no less than 10 million kroons for the Setu community across
the border.
	Second, there are also economic and administrative
consequences at the local or regional level. As a result of
the 1991 border, the northeastern part of Estonia, with its
derelict industrial complexes and its 90 percent Russian
population, faces the same economic collapse as the
agrarian, Estonian-populated southeastern. So far,
initiatives for improving cross-border infrastructure,
trade, and administrative regulations have come from
regional authorities and the business community. Among those
initiatives are the introduction of a ferry line between
Mustvee and Pskov, Estonian participation at trade fairs in
Pskov, and the 1997 cooperation between three Latvian and
three Estonian provinces as well as three border raions of
Pskov Oblast.
	Third, the unsolved border issue has practical
consequences in the immediate frontier area. Inhabitants of
Narva-Ivangorod regularly demonstrate against the visa
payment still needed to visit family members or one's dacha
across the border. Social and cultural cross-border contacts
in the south have also been seriously hampered by the border
issue, in particular for the small Setu minority living on
both sides of the frontier. It appears that setting up a
special border regime for locals of the immediate border
region depends on the signing of the border treaty.
	In sum, the border treaty is a football in Russian-
Estonian relations at the state level. For Moscow, it is an
effective instrument to destabilize Estonian national
politics and hamper the EU integration process. Tallinn
seems to be more troubled by the possible consequences in
foreign policy (EU accession) and in party politics (the
symbol of Tartu) than by the practical implications at a
regional and local level. Indeed, problems at the future EU
border not solved on a bilateral or regional level might
become European problems.
	Thus, the "direct neighborhood" between the future EU
member state and Russia also ought to include regional and
local cross-border cooperation, which might help sustainable
socio-economic development on both sides and reduce existing
asymmetries and enmities. The drive for such cooperation
exists at a regional level, in Tartu and Pskov. But what is
missing is a signed border treaty between Tallinn and
Moscow. After all, there can be no progress on cross-border
cooperation without a fixed border.

The authors are senior analysts at the Direct Neighborhood
program at the Center for Applied Policy Research, Munich.

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