Experience is in the fingers and head. The heart is inexperienced. - Henry David Thoreau
RFE/RL NEWSLINE

RFE/RL NEWSLINE Vol. 2, No. 148 Part II, 4 August 1998


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RFE/RL NEWSLINE Vol. 2, No. 148 Part II, 4 August 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

* UKRAINIAN CABINET TO CUT SPENDING

* HAVEL UNDERGOES FOURTH TRACHEOTOMY, CONTRACTS PNEUMONIA

* 'HUMANITARIAN CATASTROPHE' LOOMING IN KOSOVA

End Note: IRRATIONAL RATIONALITY IN THE CARPATHIANS
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EAST-CENTRAL EUROPE

UKRAINIAN CABINET TO CUT SPENDING. Ukrainian Finance
Minister Ihor Mityukov said on 3 August that the cabinet has
drawn up a draft presidential decree on reducing government
spending in 1998 , Interfax reported. The minister added
that the decree, which has been sent to President Leonid
Kuchma for signing, will address only expenditures and will
leave revenues for discussion in the parliament. He refused
to provide figures. The spending cuts are seen as a move to
adopt a more frugal budget following Ukraine's agreement
with the IMF on a $2.2 billion loan (see "RFE/RL Newsline,"
3 August 1998). JM

LUKASHENKA'S HARVEST INSPECTION ROUTE 'TOP SECRET.'
Belarusian President Alyaksandr Lukashenka's harvest
inspection itinerary on 4 August is being kept "top secret"
by the presidential administration, ITAR-TASS reported.
Lukashenka decided to visit some kolkhozes in Minsk Oblast
"to personally inspect and analyze" the progress of the
harvest. He has forbidden revealing the inspection route in
order to avoid "window dressing" by agricultural managers,
the presidential press service told the news agency. The
Belarusian president last week announced a "special
operation mode" for the August harvest period (see "RFE/RL
Newsline," 31 July 1998). JM

BELARUSIAN RUBLE PLUMMETS. The unofficial exchange rate for
the Belarusian ruble plunged from 76,000 to 86,000 to $1 in
less than 24 hours, RFE/RL's Belarusian Service reported on
3 August. The plunge was caused by currency transactions
between non-resident banks, which are not regulated by the
Belarusian National Bank. Independent financial analysts
attribute the sudden drop to Lukashenka's declaration of a
"special operation mode" connected with this year's harvest.
They predict that it will also affect the official exchange
rate, which is currently at some 40,000 rubles to $1. And
they also argue that the National Bank has failed to achieve
the currency stabilization pledged by National Bank Chairman
Pyotr Prakapovich earlier this year. JM

ESTONIAN GDP GROWTH EXCEEDS 9 PERCENT IN FIRST QUARTER.
Estonia's GDP grew 9.3 percent from January to March of this
year, compared with the same period in 1997, the State
Statistics Department told ETA on 3 August. The largest
growth was registered in goods and non-financial services.
The department noted that the only decrease in GDP was in
the financial sector. The government has estimated that GDP
growth in 1998 as a whole will total 8 percent. JC

RUSSIA URGES LATVIA NOT TO UNILATERALLY DEMARCATE BORDER.
Russian Foreign Ministry representative Vladimir Rakhmanin
told BNS on 3 August that Russia is urging Latvia to abandon
plans to unilaterally demarcate their joint border.
Rakhmanin said that talks on signing the border agreement
will continue, but he added that first Latvia should give up
its plans for unilateral demarcation and resolve issues
related to its Russian-speaking population. He said the
accord has not yet been signed because of Latvia's
insistence that a reference to the 1920 Riga Peace Treaty be
included in the document. Under that treaty, the Pitalovo
district of Pskov Oblast belongs to Latvia. While Riga has
said that such a mention would have no bearing on the
demarcation of the border, Rakhmanin argued that "the
situation remains ambiguous, making the conclusion of the
agreement counterproductive." JC

LATVIAN, FINNISH PRESIDENTS SUPPORT RUSSIAN INVOLVEMENT.
Guntis Ulmanis and Martti Ahtisaari, at an unofficial
meeting at Mazirbe, northwestern Latvia, on 1 August,
expressed support for Russia's involvement in regional
cooperation among the Baltic Sea countries and in "European
processes," the Latvian presidential press service told BNS
on 3 August. The two leaders stressed that involving Russia
would promote stability, economic cooperation, and reform in
the region. Ulmanis also commented that Latvia is ready for
a "comprehensive, open, and equal dialogue with Russia." JC

NATO SECRETARY-GENERAL IN WARSAW. Javier Solana said in
Warsaw on 3 July that Poland, Hungary, and the Czech
Republic will become full NATO members in April 1999, at a
NATO summit in Washington. He assured Polish Minister
Bronislaw Geremek that Poland will participate in all NATO
discussions before that date in order to "land softly" in
the alliance. Solana added that "the door to NATO will
remain open" after the three new members are admitted
"Rzeczpospolita" reported on 4 August. But he hinted that
the "real discussion" about admitting other states to the
alliance has not yet started. JM

POLISH FARMERS PROTEST GRAIN IMPORTS. Members of the
Solidarity of Private Farmers organization blocked railroad
traffic at the Polish-Slovak border on 3 August by spilling
650 tons of Hungarian and Slovak grain to protest grain
imports, Polish media reported. The protesters demand that
the government halt all grain imports and punish those
responsible for the decision to import grains. They
threatened that if the government does not respond to their
demands, they will block 250 roads and eight border
crossings throughout Poland on 4 August. An Agricultural
Ministry official told PAP that a total ban on grain imports
is impossible, since it would require renegotiating Poland's
international trade agreements, including with the World
Trade Organization. He added that the government plans to
introduce additional customs duties on grain beginning 6
August in a bid to discourage grain imports. JM

HAVEL UNDERGOES FOURTH TRACHEOTOMY, CONTRACTS PNEUMONIA.
President Vaclav Havel on 3 August underwent another
tracheotomy, amid fears he was developing pneumonia eight
days after abdominal surgery, AP and Reuters reported. But
despite this precautionary measure, doctors announced on 4
August that Havel has contracted pneumonia and is suffering
from an irregular heart beat. A spokesman for the
presidential office did not describe Havel's immediate
condition but said the "situation is being worked on
intensively." The tracheotomy that Havel underwent on 3
August is the fourth since he was operated on for lung
cancer in December 1996. MS

HUNGARIAN ROMA COMMEMORATE HOLOCAUST VICTIMS. Hundreds of
people, mostly Roma, attended an all-night vigil outside the
parliament building in Budapest in memory of the victims of
the Romani Holocaust, Hungarian media reported on 3 August.
During the night from 2-3 August 1944, some 4,500 Hungarian
Gypsies were killed at the Auschwitz-Birkenau death camps in
Poland. The vigil, which was organized by the Roma Civil
Rights Foundation, included a message from President Arpad
Goncz, an ecumenical religious service, and a speech by
Budapest Mayor Gabor Demszky. MSZ

SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE

'ETHNIC CLEANSING' CONTINUES IN KOSOVA. Serbian paramilitary
police and Yugoslav army forces continued their assault on
regions inhabited by ethnic Albanians in central and western
Kosova on 3 August. The "New York Times" the following day
quoted an unidentified foreign monitor as saying: "It is a
vicious tactic. First [Serbian forces] are shelling civilian
villages and towns to make the people run, then they seem to
be going in to blow up or burn the buildings to ensure
civilians cannot return." A foreign diplomat added that "at
best, we have to assume this is a case of widespread 'ethnic
cleansing.' But the fact that we are not allowed in to see
for ourselves makes me wonder seriously about what kind of
atrocities are being committed." The Prishtina daily "Bujku"
wrote that the Serbian forces are conducting a "scorched-
earth" policy. The official Serbian news agency Tanjug
reported that police "neutralized" a group of "terrorists"
west of Prishtina during the morning of 4 August. PM

'HUMANITARIAN CATASTROPHE' LOOMING IN KOSOVA. U.S. State
Department spokesman James Rubin on 3 August said that
Kosova faces "a humanitarian catastrophe" in a matter of
weeks if aid does not reach the tens of thousands of
displaced persons in the province. In Prishtina, the main
organization of Kosovar students called for the
establishment of humanitarian relief corridors to enable aid
"convoys to break through and enter the surrounded regions
in order to rescue thousands of lives." Austrian Foreign
Minister Wolfgang Schuessel, whose country holds the EU
chair, told Austrian Radio that "there are 150,000 refugees
in the region and above all I fear a humanitarian
catastrophe this winter because the Serbian army is burning
fields...and killing cattle. Soon there won't be anything
for these people to eat." A specialist with the U.S.
Department of Agriculture told the "International Herald
Tribune" that "there will be no food reserves" when winter
comes. PM

MILOSEVIC BLAMED FOR CRISIS. NATO Secretary-General Javier
Solana told the German daily "Die Welt" on 3 August that the
Kosova problem "has only one name: [Yugoslav President
Slobodan] Milosevic." Schuessel said to the BBC the next
day: "You cannot trust [Milosevic]. He is a sort of reverse
King Midas--all that he touches falls apart." In Vienna,
representatives of the EU called on the Yugoslav president
to stop the violence by his armed forces. For his part,
German Foreign Minister Klaus Kinkel said that "both sides
are not showing necessary readiness to discuss broad
autonomy for the province." He added that "pressure must be
kept up on both sides," dpa reported from Bonn. PM

NO INTERVENTION LIKELY IN KOSOVA. U.S. Ambassador to
Macedonia Christopher Hill said in Prishtina on 3 August
that "more and more the situation is calling for an
international presence on the ground," AFP reported. He
nonetheless added that there is no military solution to the
problem. Schuessel said in his BBC interview the next day
that there is no majority in the UN Security Council to
endorse any NATO military intervention in the province. In
Washington, Rubin said on 3 August that the Atlantic
alliance has approved plans to use air power against Serbian
forces, but he did not indicate what action on the Serbs'
part would trigger a NATO response. NATO spokesmen in
Brussels told AP that the alliance is fine-tuning its
contingency plans but that it is unlikely there will be
intervention at any time soon. PM

VOJVODINA HUNGARIANS CALL FOR 'CIVIL DISOBEDIENCE.' Laszlo
Jozsa, who is deputy chairman of the Alliance of Vojvodina
Hungarians, said in Backa Topola on 3 August that young
ethnic Hungarian males should not answer their draft notices
from the Yugoslav authorities, "Nasa Borba" wrote. Jozsa
added that "several hundred" young men in the Subotica area
received call up notices for the army reserves on 2 August.
He said that 60 members of the police reserves--about half
of whom are ethnic Hungarians--in Backa Topola received
notices at the same time and were sent immediately to
Kosova. PM

MACEDONIA TO SEEK 'HELP'? Defense Minister Lazar Kitanovski
said in Ohrid on 3 August that Macedonia may seek "outside
assistance" to help patrol its border with Albania if
illegal crossings of that frontier by smugglers and gun-
runners increase. He did not elaborate, Tanjug reported. PM

KOSOVARS, ALBANIANS TURNED BACK BY ITALY. A spokesman for
the Interior Ministry said in Tirana on 3 August that
Albanian and Italian Coast Guard patrol boats operating
under a bilateral agreement off the Albanian coast turned
back a group of 17 dinghies carrying some 600 Kosovar
refugees and Albanian citizens attempting to cross the
Adriatic. The illegal migrants paid up to $450 for the
passage from Vlora to Italy, where thousands of Albanians
live and work as legal or illegal immigrants. Police
spokesmen said that the joint Coast Guard patrols have
intercepted and turned back some 52 dinghies carrying 1,500
people in the past three weeks. PM

CROATIAN FARMERS PROTEST. Farmers blocked a road in
Slavonia's wheat-growing region on 4 August to protest a
ruling by government officials that producers must pay the
22 percent value-added tax on wheat they sell to the state
at guaranteed prices. The previous day, "Jutarnji list"
wrote that Croatia had a trade deficit in the first six
months of 1998 with virtually the entire world, including
the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Hungary, Romania, Poland,
Slovenia, and federal Yugoslavia, as well as with most of
the developed countries. Imports from France and Ireland
rose significantly. Croatia's trade balance with the OPEC
countries was $40 million in the red, and its trade deficit
with developing countries as a group totaled $200 million.
PM

MIXED REACTIONS TO CROATIAN ANNIVERSARY. The state-run
Zagreb daily "Vjesnik" on 4 August hailed the third
anniversary of Operation Storm, which was the Croatian
military's lightning campaign that defeated the Krajina Serb
armies and sent tens of thousands of refugees fleeing. The
newspaper said that the offensive ended Serbian dreams of a
Greater Serbia to be built on the ruins of the former
Yugoslavia and put a stop to plans by the international
community to set up a de facto Serbian state within
Croatia's borders. Amnesty International, however, said in a
statement issued in London that many "extrajudicial
executions" of Serbs by Croatian forces and other "human
rights violations" continue to go unpunished. The text added
that in many cases "relatives of the victims are still being
denied the dignity of a proper burial for their loved ones,
and hundreds of crimes remain unacknowledged,
uninvestigated, and the perpetrators unpunished." PM

ROMANIAN PREMIER IN ISRAEL. Radu Vasile and his Israeli
counterpart, Benjamin Netanyahu, on 3 August signed accords
on agricultural cooperation and the mutual protection of
investments, saying they will step up efforts to conclude a
free trade agreement, an RFE/RL correspondent in Tel Aviv
reported. Vasile said the problem of the restitution of
Jewish properties confiscated by the fascist and communist
regimes will be resolved next month, when a bill providing
for the restitution of all confiscated properties will be
submitted to the parliament. Responding to protests that the
bill will apply only to Romanian citizens, Vasile said a
"just solution" will be sought. Naftali Lavi, deputy
chairman of the World Jewish Restitution Organization, said
that Jews were "singled out for the confiscation" of their
properties and must therefore be "singled out for
restitution as well." MS

ROMANIAN EDUCATION MINISTER TO REMAIN IN OFFICE? Ion
Diaconescu, chairman of the ruling National Peasant Party
Christian Democratic, has ruled out the dismissal of
Education Minister Andrei Marga in connection with Marga's
opposition to establishing a Hungarian-language state
university. He said on 2 August that views within the
governing coalition over the university are "different" and
a solution is still being sought. Last week, Bela Marko,
chairman of the Hungarian Democratic Federation of Romania,
said Marga's continued presence in the government is an
infringement of the protocol signed by the coalition
partners (see also "End Note" below). MS

MOLDOVANS PROTEST NUCLEAR WASTE TRANSIT. Parliament deputy
chairman Iurie Rosca, who is also co-chairman of the
Democratic Convention of Moldova (CDM), said in an interview
with Radio Chisinau on 3 August that the CDM will appeal to
the Constitutional Court over the decision of the parliament
to allow the transit of nuclear waste from Bulgaria to
Russia, RFE/RL's Chisinau bureau reported. Rosca also said
that "such deals always involve huge sums of dirty money."
The same accusation was leveled by spokesmen of Moldovan
ecological organizations, who said Moldova has the highest
rate of cancer in all former Soviet bloc countries. The
ecological organizations called on their counterparts in
Bulgaria, Russia, and Romania to protest the decision,
saying they will also appeal to international ecological
organizations for help. MS

BULGARIA DENIES SELLING ARMS TO TERRORISTS. Responding to an
article published in "The New York Times" on 3 August,
Bulgaria denied it is selling weapons to terrorist
organizations. A spokesman for the Ministry of Trade and
Tourism said on 3 August that "Bulgaria strictly observes
all restrictions imposed by the UN Security Council,
including the embargo on arms sales to Iraq, Lebanon,
Somalia, Liberia, Angola, Rwanda, Afghanistan, Sierra Leone,
Yugoslavia, and Kosova." The spokesman said Bulgaria "cannot
be held responsible" for instances where "arms legally sold
to other countries are then re-sold to terrorist groups,"
BTA reported. MS

END NOTE

IRRATIONAL RATIONALITY IN THE CARPATHIANS

by Michael Shafir

	The dispute over establishing a Hungarian-language
state university in Romania is laden with "irrational
rationality." An outsider will have difficulty in
comprehending what drives the two opposing sides to take
positions that apparently defy the rationality of their own
interests. By insisting on the setting up of the university,
the Hungarian Democratic Federation of Romania (UDMR) is--in
the eyes of most members of the ethnic Romanian majority--
betraying first and foremost the interests of the electorate
it represents.
	Why, ask Romanians, should an ethnic Hungarian
complete his or her education without being capable of
integrating himself or herself into the Romanian labor
market and into Romanian society as a whole owing to
language comprehension difficulties? And why, they add, does
the country's large ethnic Hungarian minority (1.6 million)
not accept the solution advocated by Education Minister
Andrei Marga? That solution is namely one of "multi-
culturalism," such as has been pursued over the past years
at the Babes-Bolyai Cluj University. In this context,
"multi-culturalism" refers to teaching in several languages,
with Romanian, Hungarian, and German being the main ones on
offer.
	At first glance, the argument is a sound one, the more
so as all parties involved are well aware of the high costs
of setting up a separate institution of higher education.
Such costs involve not only buildings but also the training
of qualified faculty.
	"Rationality," however, is in the eyes of the
beholder. What may look "irrational" to one group is
perfectly "rational" to the other. The bulk of the ethnic
Romanian majority, including many of the UDMR's coalition
partners, view the ethnic Hungarians' demand with suspicion,
regarding it as proof of Hungarian "segregationism" and,
moreover, "separatism." Marga said that in so many words
when responding to the recent announcement by Zsolt Nemeth,
state secretary at the Hungarian Foreign Ministry, that
Budapest is willing to finance the establishment of the
Hungarian university in Transylvania.
	At this point, one is forced to ask: "Who is actually
more "irrational?" Nemeth's statement had at least
invalidated some of the "rational" Romanian arguments
against Hungarian "irrationality."
	Some, but not all, one should hasten to add. In his
announcement (released to the press as a "personal
declaration" rather than an official government statement),
Marga himself said that the establishment of a Hungarian-
language university was an issue that is "mainly symbolic"
in essence. Symbols, however, cannot carry the same meaning
for all people. They are "irrational" to those for whom the
symbols are meaningless and highly important to those for
whom the symbols have significance. For Romania's ethnic
Hungarians, a separate university symbolizes the restitution
of their cultural rights, which they considered to have been
abolished in the late 1950s, when the communist regime
merged the two universities in Cluj into one. It is
precisely for this reason that many in the UDMR believe the
university must be set up in Cluj and only in Cluj.
	In addition, a separate university is considered by
some members of the Hungarian elites as a symbol of ensured
"cultural reproduction." Cultural reproduction is at the
core of ethnicity, for it goes beyond individual rights
(indeed, it may even contradict them) to convey a collective
sense of ensured trans-generational communion of values as
well as inter-generational communication. And the latter is
also trans-border communication.
	However, such a separate university may question
(openly or otherwise) the concept of the "nation-state". It
is no accident that in only one European country, namely
Finland, do minorities (in this case the Swedish minority)
benefit from such extended cultural rights. Owing to the
suspicion that the Hungarian-language university is laying
the groundwork for demands that would go well beyond those
of cultural or even territorial autonomy, most ethnic
Romanians (consciously or otherwise) tend to reject the
university.
	Viewed from this perspective, statements made by
Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban during his private
visit to Romania last week have probably exacerbated, rather
than alleviated, such suspicions. His comment that "if the
[separate] university is not set up, there is nothing to
talk about" was obviously taken out of context by his
Romanian critics. He made that comment in connection with
rejecting "multi-culturalism" as an alternative to the
proposed university.
	But Orban is certainly not unaware of the mutual
historical suspicion and of the fact that the nationalist-
inclined press in Bucharest would read it as "blackmail" and
as a threat to relations between the two countries precisely
at a time when Hungary is about to join NATO and Romania is
being left out. The same applies to Nemeth's earlier
statement while attending the traditional "summer
university" at Balvanyos, in Transylvania. According to
Nemeth, the "nation-state" is a thing of the past and the
"Hungarian nation's borders do not coincide with Hungary's
borders."
	Orban and Nemeth, of course, are remaining faithful to
their election promise to promote more forcefully the
interests of Hungarians abroad than did Gyula Horn's
cabinet. The question is whether this "rationality" is
"rational" in the post-electoral context. In turn, the
UDMR's partners in Romania's ruling coalition may wonder now
whether they were not the unwitting midwives of "irrational
rationality" when they procrastinated over satisfying the
"rational" and less radical demands of the UDMR in education
and local administration.

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