The last of the human freedoms- to choose one's attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one's way. - Victor Frankl
RFE/RL NEWSLINE

RFE/RL NEWSLINE Vol. 2, No. 153 Part II, 11 August 1998


___________________________________________________________
RFE/RL NEWSLINE Vol. 2, No. 153 Part II, 11 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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SPECIAL REPORT: TURKEY AT A CROSSROADS
A veteran RFE/RL correspondent reports from Turkey on
politics and religion, minorities, economics and foreign
relations.
http://www.rferl.org/nca/special/turkey

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Headlines, Part II

* WORLD BANK TO CONSIDER AID TO UKRAINE AFTER IMF LOAN APPROVAL

* MECIAR'S PARTY ATTEMPTS TO BLOCK OPPONENT'S REGISTRATION

* UCK VOWS TO FIGHT ON

End Note
WHEN THE PRESS IS THE PROBLEM

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EAST-CENTRAL EUROPE

WORLD BANK TO CONSIDER AID TO UKRAINE AFTER IMF LOAN
APPROVAL. The World Bank will consider financing two projects
in Ukraine worth $300 million each as soon as the IMF
approves its $2.2 billion loan to Kyiv, Reuters reported on
10 August. The World Bank's Kyiv mission chief said the
projects will support Ukraine's financial sector and business
development. The World Bank suspended its financial
assistance to Ukraine earlier this year, following a similar
decision by the IMF. The IMF board of directors is expected
to discuss its $2.2 billion three-year loan program to
Ukraine in late August. JM

PRICE OF UKRAINIAN SUGAR HALVES UNDER TAX PAYMENT PRESSURE.
Owing to recent government pressure to pay tax and pension
fund arrears (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 6 and 10 August 1998),
Ukrainian sugar refineries have been forced to pledge sugar
at 500 hryvni ($240) a ton as security against the payment of
their debts to the pension fund. The average price of sugar
is currently 1,110 hryvni a ton, but the Aval Bank, which
manages the Pension Fund, refuses to accept sugar as security
at higher prices. According to Ukrainian News, this could
result in a sharp drop in sugar prices once the sugar-
refining season begins. Sugar refineries currently owe the
Pension Fund some 3 million hryvni. JM

TATAR PRESIDENT IN KYIV. Visiting Kyiv on 10 August to attend
President Leonid Kuchma's birthday celebrations, Mintimer
Shaimiev held informal talks on expanding economic
cooperation with his Moldovan and Latvian counterparts, Petru
Lucinschi and Guntis Ulmanis, RFE/RL's Kazan bureau reported.
Shaimiev told journalists that Tatarstan will continue to
supply Ukraine with oil and oil products. He added that
Russian Premier Sergei Kirienko is expected to visit Kazan
later this week. LF

LUKASHENKA SCOUTS OUT HOUSING FOR EVICTED DIPLOMATS.
Belarusian President Alyaksandr Lukashenka on 10 August
inspected government residences in Minsk and its suburbs with
a view to finding housing for foreign diplomats, ITAR-TASS
and AP reported. He came up with 20 possible residences for
the ambassadors who left Belarus in June to protest their
eviction from the Drazdy compound near Minsk. Lukashenka
ordered the Foreign Ministry to pass on this information to
the relevant embassies. The presidential press service said
that if the embassies refuse Lukashenka's housing proposals,
they will have to go house-hunting on their own. JM

AMBASSADOR ON BALTIC-RUSSIAN RELATIONS. Estonian Ambassador
to Russia Mart Helme told the Estonian radio station  Kuku on
9 August that Moscow is waiting to see what decisions are
made at the NATO summit next year before it formulates its
policy toward the Baltics, BNS reported the next day. "Based
on what is decided at that meeting, the next moves will be
made [by Russia]," Helme said. For this reason, he argued,
the "process of regulating" Estonian-Russian relations has
come to a halt. He added that although ties between Estonia
and Russia are currently much better than a few years ago, it
is "too early to speak of warm [bilateral] relations." JC

SUPPORT FOR ESTONIAN ARCHBISHOP IN RESTITUTION ROW. Leaders
of parties representing Estonia's Russian-speakers have
expressed support for Orthodox Archbishop Kornelius, who
earlier this month criticized the Estonian government's
stance in a row over Church property, BNS reported on 10
August. The branch of the Russian Orthodox Church led by
Kornelius wishes to retain its subordination to the Moscow
Patriarchate. But under Estonia's restitution law,  Church
property can be returned only to the successor of the pre-war
Estonian Orthodox Church, namely the  Estonian Apostolic
Orthodox Church, which is subordinated to the Patriarchate of
Constantinople. Kornelius accuses the Estonian authorities of
wishing to abolish the branch he heads and of seeking to
strip it of its rightful property. He also opposes the
restitution of property to the Estonian Apostolic Orthodox
Church as "groundless," arguing that 80 percent of Orthodox
believers in Estonia belong to the pro-Moscow Church. JC

LATVIAN GOVERNMENT APPEALS AMENDMENTS TO LAW ON WELFARE
BENEFITS. The cabinet has appealed to the Constitutional
Court to rule on amendments to the law on maternity and
sickness allowances, which it claims are unconstitutional,
BNS reported on 10 August. The amendments, which were passed
by the parliament in June, will allow more people to claim
such benefits. But the government argues that the legislature
has failed to determine how those benefits will be financed.
The Welfare Ministry says that implementing the amendments
will lead to a deficit in this year's special budget. JC

WORKERS IN POLISH  ARMS INDUSTRY TO STRIKE OVER
RESTRUCTURING. More than 73,000 workers from 31 enterprises
in the armaments industry are to stage an hour-long warning
strike on 24 August, PAP reported on 10 August. Trade unions
representing workers in the industry want the government to
urgently draft and implement a program for restructuring the
sector. They also are demanding negotiations on a welfare
package for workers who lose their jobs owing to
restructuring. The trade unions threaten to occupy public
administration offices and to stage a general strike if their
demands are not met. According to Stanislaw Glowacki, leader
of the Solidarity trade union representing arms workers, some
20 enterprises will shut down by the end of this year unless
they are privatized soon. JM

POLISH FARMERS CALL OFF PROTEST FOLLOWING GOVERNMENT TALKS.
Farmers' unions have called off their nationwide protest
planned for 11 August over what they regard as excessive
grain imports, PAP reported on 10 August. The move followed
talks between the government and Poland's three main farmers'
unions: the rightist Solidarity Private Farmers' Union, the
leftist National Union of Farmers and Farmers' Circles and
Organizations, and the extremist Self-Defense Farmers' Union.
Meanwhile, according to the 11 August "Gazeta Wyborcza,"
Self-Defense Farmers' Union leader Andrzej Lepper was jailed
on 10 August for 41 days after failing to pay a fine for
"insulting state institutions and high officials." JM

KWASNIEWSKI AIDE URGES RESOLUTION TO ROW OVER AUSCHWITZ
CROSSES. Marek Siwiec, head of the National Security Bureau,
which is subordinated to  President Aleksander Kwasniewski,
has urged the Polish government and the leaders of the Roman
Catholic Church "to adopt an unambiguous position" in the
Polish-Jewish dispute over crosses erected near the former
Auschwitz death camp, Polonia Television reported on 10
August. Siwiec said the president is ready to help by using
"methods of persuasion or legal methods" to return to the
"situation that preceded the conflict." According to PAP,
Marek Nowakowski, an adviser to Prime Minister Jerzy Buzek,
said that "slight chances for a compromise solution" have
appeared in the dispute. He strongly criticized Kwasniewski's
aide by saying that Siwiec "is simply recalling the good old
days when you could send out the police to dismantle any
cross you wanted," Reuters reported. JM

CZECHS SUPPORT RAPID EU MEMBERSHIP. Nearly three out of four
Czechs (72.5 percent) want their country to join the EU as
soon as possible, while the remaining 27.5 percent are
opposed to EU membership, CTK reported on 10 August, citing a
poll conducted by the independent STEM institute. Support for
EU membership stands at nearly the same as in June 1996 (74.1
percent). Last year, it dropped to 70 percent. MS

MECIAR'S PARTY ATTEMPTS TO BLOCK OPPOSITION OPPONENT.
Vladimir Meciar's Movement for a Democratic Slovakia (HZDS)
on 10 August appealed to the Supreme Court against the
registration of the opposition Slovak Democratic Coalition
(SDK) by the Central Electoral Commission three days earlier.
The HZDS says the SDK is not a political party but a
coalition of parties, as its name suggests. The Communist
Party of Slovakia supports the HZDS in its objections,
RFE/RL's Bratislava bureau reported. Meanwhile, the
leaderships of the SDK and the Party of Democratic Left began
negotiations on an initiative to reconvene the parliament for
an extraordinary session to discuss irregularities in the
privatization of Slovenska poistovna, the country's largest
insurance company. MS

HUNGARIAN PRIVATIZATION SCANDAL IN OFFING? Gyula Gansperger,
head of the State Privatization and Holding Company, told
Kossuth Radio on 10 August that he is ready to face an
inquiry. He said there are "business and political interests"
behind allegations that he and the ruling Federation of Young
Democrats-Hungarian Civic Party (FIDESZ) are involved in a
privatization scandal. "Nepszabadsag"  the same day wrote
that the assets of two companies set up by Gansperger and
Lajos Simicska, now head of the Tax Office, were transferred
to their wives  following the May elections. Erika Bakos,
sister-in-law of minister without portfolio Laszlo Kover, is
also a partner in those companies. Josip Tot, an electrician,
was named as the companies' chief executive and part owner.
But Tot says this was done without his knowledge  and that
the passport  used to register the companies under his name
was stolen from him in 1996. MS

SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE

UCK VOWS TO FIGHT ON. Fighting continued in western Kosova on
10 August between Serbian forces and the Kosova Liberation
Army (UCK). In Prishtina the next day, the guerrillas issued
a statement  pledging to fight on despite their recent
losses. The text noted that the battlefield setbacks have
"only strengthened our resolve to bravely continue on the
road to freedom." It also called on Kosovars to "unite with
the UCK and help us in our just fight for freedom," AP
reported. The statement warned NATO not to station troops
along the Albanian-Kosovar border, across which the
guerrillas' supplies pass, "because we would consider this
the second offensive against our freedom and our national
pride." PM

ALBANIA PROTESTS AIRSPACE VIOLATIONS. The Foreign Ministry in
Tirana on 10 August issued a strongly worded protest to the
Yugoslav authorities  over three alleged violations of its
airspace by Serbian helicopters near Tropoja and Kukes over
the previous two days. The statement said that "such
incidents carry the risk of escalating the conflict [in
Kosova].... If Belgrade wants to apply such a confrontational
policy with regional implications, then it will have to fully
bear the responsibilities and the consequences of this
conflict." The ministry also denied Serbian charges that UCK
fighters have training facilities on Albanian territory. The
statement stressed that Belgrade seeks "to justify its own
military actions of ethnic cleansing in Kosova [by spreading]
disinformation" and by blaming Albania for certain problems.
The statement conceded that the UCK has arms supply routes on
Albanian territory but stressed that Tirana is trying to halt
the flow of those supplies. FS

NUMBER OF REFUGEES GROWING. A spokesman for the Albanian
Foreign Ministry said in Tirana on 11 August that some 70
Kosovars crossed into Albania during the previous 24 hours.
In Prishtina on 10 August, a representative of the UN High
Commissioner for Refugees reported that the number of
displaced persons within Kosova stands at 167,000. An
additional 64,000 persons from Kosova are refugees in
Montenegro, Albania, Macedonia, Serbia, Bosnia, or elsewhere,
he added. Meanwhile, a Slovenian ship left the port of Koper
with   humanitarian relief worth $100,000 for Kosovar
refugees in Albania. In Tirana, State Secretary Franko Juri
of the Slovenian Foreign Ministry said that the conflict in
Kosova is not an ethnic one but rather a political issue
involving the democratization of Yugoslav society and the
establishment of human and ethnic rights. PM

ARKAN APPEALS TO CLINTON.  Zeljko Raznatovic "Arkan," who is
the Serbian nationalist leader of the paramilitary "Tigers,"
appealed on 10 August in a letter to U.S. President Bill
Clinton for Washington's help in fighting "terrorism" on
Serbian territory. Arkan, whom many in Croatia and Bosnia
regard as a war criminal, told Clinton that the U.S. should
not allow bombings similar to those that took place in Kenya
and Tanzania on 7 August to happen anywhere else in the
world, AP reported from Belgrade. "Mr. President, don't
let...terrorism in this part of the Balkans continue, in the
Serbian state that for centuries has been a friend to your
state," Arkan wrote. PM

HAGUE INMATES CHARGE DUTCH WITH NEGLIGENCE. Slobodan
Ivanovic, a Serbian medical doctor who regularly visits the
indicted war criminals held by the Hague-based tribunal, said
that inmates, regardless of nationality, are enraged by the
recent death from a heart attack of Milan Kovacevic, who was
also a physician, "The Daily Telegraph" reported on 11
August. Ivanovic added that the inmates may be planning a
revolt as a result. The inmates told Ivanovic that Kovacevic
"died a slow and painful death as a result of a ruptured
aorta despite repeated calls for help to jailers over a
period of five hours." A hospital is only five minutes drive
from the prison, where Croatian inmate General Tihomir
Blaskic tried to revive Kovacevic. Dutch officials denied the
charges of neglect and argued that the inmates receive better
care than they would in prisons in the former Yugoslavia. PM

ABSENTEE VOTING BEGINS FOR BOSNIA. Bosnian refugees living
outside Bosnia, Croatia, and federal Yugoslavia  have begun
casting their ballots in the 12-13 September general
elections, an RFE/RL correspondent reported from Sarajevo on
10 August. The Election Commission had earlier processed
148,000 requests for absentee ballots, which voters must
complete and send by mail to the OSCE in Vienna. Most Bosnian
refugees live in Croatia and federal Yugoslavia and will be
able to vote there at special polling stations. PM

KRAJISNIK DENIES RUMORS OF WEALTH. Momcilo Krajisnik, who is
the Serbian member of the Bosnian joint presidency and an
ally of nationalist leader Radovan Karadzic, said that
Bosnian Serbs fall into two political camps, the Belgrade
daily "Danas" wrote on 11 August. One group consists of
"steadfast Serbs," who remain true to the ideals for which
they fought in the 1992-1995 war, and the other is made up of
"servile Serbs," who have since signed political alliances
with the Muslims. By the "servile" group, he was presumably
referring to the Republika Srpska's leadership based in Banja
Luka. Krajisnik denied that he accumulated a private fortune
during the war and added that he has lived in one room in
Pale for the past six years. He added that he is building a
home on Serbian-held territory outside his native Sarajevo
and that he has a small flat in Belgrade, but he denied
rumors that he owns villas. PM

ALBANIA, GREECE LAUNCH JOINT COAST GUARD PATROLS. Greek
maritime police began joint patrols with their Albanian
colleagues in the Ionian Sea on 10 August. The Greek police
officers are based in the Albanian port of Saranda near Corfu
and work as part of an Albanian Coast Guard unit. The joint
patrols will continue for six months, ATSH news agency
reported. Meanwhile near Vlora the previous day, patrol boats
of the Italian financial police intercepted two speed boats
bound for Italy carrying some  50 illegal immigrants . Most
of the refugees were Kurdish women and children. During the
past four weeks or so, Italian patrols have intercepted  52
speed-boats carrying a total of some 1,500 refugees, mostly
from Kosova and Turkey. FS

ALBANIAN ORGANIZATION CRITICIZES STATE TELEVISION. Spokesmen
for the Society for Democratic Culture announced the results
of their five month-long monitoring of state television
(TVSH) on 10 August in Tirana. They concluded that TVSH gives
too much coverage to events involving the capital's political
elite and  neglects the interests of the broader public, with
only few reports about local, economic, and social issues.
The observers noted that several independent newspapers
provide more balanced coverage and deal with a wider range of
issues than TVSH. FS

HUNGARIAN DEFENSE MINISTER IN ROMANIA. Janos Szabo on 10
August met with his Romanian counterpart, Victor Babiuc, in
the spa of Baile Felix. The two ministers discussed Romania's
bid to join Euro-Atlantic organizations, the setting up of a
Romanian-Hungarian peace-keeping battalion,  and the conflict
in Kosova, RFE/RL's Bucharest bureau reported. Szabo said the
battalion will have some 1,000 members but that there are
financial difficulties in setting it up. He noted that if
Romania "wishes to head to Europe," it must also pay
attention to "all aspects of democracy," including "human
rights and respect for minority rights." In this context, he
mentioned the controversy over the Hungarian state university
but did not link Hungarian support for Romania's NATO bid to
a resolution to this controversy. MS

ROMANIAN FARMERS PROTEST WHEAT IMPORTS FROM HUNGARY. Dozens
of farmers used tractors and other equipment on 10 August to
block the Nadlac and Varasani border crossing points with
Hungary to protest imports and the government's agricultural
policies, Reuters and AP reported.  The Curtici railroad
crossing point was also blocked. The protest was organized by
the Agrostar trade union. Hungarian agricultural products are
cheaper on Romanian markets than are local produce.
Hungarian wheat production is subsidized, and Agrostar is
demanding subsidies for Romanian producers. Last month,
Bucharest increased custom duties on Hungarian wheat and
flour imports, but Agrostar says that the measures have not
yet been implemented and that it will continue protests until
they are in force. Hungary, however, is threatening to take
retaliatory action against the higher customs duties.
Officials from the Romanian and Hungarian Agricultural
Ministries are due to meet this week to discuss the issue.
MS

MOLDOVAN METROPOLITAN BISHOP ATTACKS 'PROSELYTISM.' The head
of the Bessarabian Metropolitan Church, Bishop Petru, said on
10 August that the neo-Protestant Churches are guilty of
"proselytism" and of trying to "lure" believers to a
"misleading faith" that  contradicts the "teaching of the
Holy Scriptures." The neo-Protestant Churches are currently
organizing in Chisinau the "Jesus Christ--Moldova's Hope"
event. Petru accused the Churches of using "heavy funding
that comes from abroad" in order to "attract those weak in
their faith," the independent news agency Flux reported. Also
on 10 August, a group of Moldovan historians appealed to
President Petru Lucinschi to revoke a 2 July decree that sets
national celebration days for the years 1998-2000. They
argued that the constitution prohibits any "state official
ideology"  and that the official calendar promotes
"Moldovanism" as such an ideology. MS

BULGARIA PLANNING TO CUT VAT. Finance Minister Muravei Radev
on 10 August said that next year, Bulgaria is planning to
reduce value-added tax by two percent, to 20 percent. Radev
said that income tax will also be reduced, but did not say by
how much, AP reported.  He noted that the 1999 budget will be
based on the assumption that the country's GDP will grow 4
percent. And he added that GDP growth  is predicted at 4.8
percent for 2000  and  at 5.1 percent for 2001.  Also on 10
August, the government decided that beginning next year, it
will phase out a 2 percent import tax currently levied on all
imports in addition to other tariffs. That tax was reduced in
July from 4 percent to 2 percent owing to an improved balance
of payments. MS

END NOTE

WHEN THE PRESS IS THE PROBLEM

by Paul Goble

	The new free press in many post-communist countries may
be contributing to social and political problems there rather
than helping resolve them.
	Nowhere is that danger greater than in countries where
the reading public is split along linguistic lines, where
individual publications both reflect these divisions and may
even deepen them.
 	That is the disturbing conclusion of a detailed study of
how newspapers in Latvia, both Latvian-language and Russian-
language, covered issues of citizenship and naturalization in
that Baltic country during 1997.
	Prepared by two local scholars and summarized in the
current issue of the Riga weekly "Diena-Dosug," one of the
few publications issued in both Latvian and Russian in
Latvia, this study found that the post-Soviet press as a
whole is marked by sensationalism, tendentiousness, and an
uncritical handling of sources. It concluded not only that
the press as a whole has failed to serve as the "watchdog of
democracy," as many had hoped, but that it is now "one of the
problems of post-communist society rather than one of the
solutions."
	Its authors, Ilza Shuman and Sergei Kruk, devoted most
of their attention to the specific problems arising from the
simultaneous existence of a Latvian-language and a Russian-
language media in one country. They suggest that the
differences between the newspapers in these two languages are
now so great that in Latvia "there now exist two weakly
connected information spaces." The effect is a further
division of the two communities who read them.
	During the struggle for the recovery of Latvian
independence, the authors note, newspapers typically
discussed the same issues in the same way. Because of that,
the two communities were drawn together by newspapers that
engaged in an active dialogue across language lines.
	But now there is little or no dialogue across language
lines. Instead, the study found, newspapers in the Latvian
language focus on one set of issues while Russian-language
newspapers focus on a very different one.
	A content analysis of 879 articles in 10 different
newspapers showed just how deep this divide has become.
	On questions of citizenship and naturalization examined
in the study, Latvian newspapers focused on passports and the
rights citizenship provides, while Russian papers focused far
more on questions about the status of non-citizenship and the
impact of citizenship on links with Russia.
	At one level, this difference in coverage reflects
differences in interest of the readers of the newspapers in
each language. But at another level, and as polling data the
authors supply show, the story is much more complicated and
problematic.
	On the one hand, the Latvian-language press tends to
respond to the interests of ethnic Latvians who are Latvian
citizens while the Russian-language press tends to reflect
the interests of ethnic Russians who are not Latvian
citizens. That leaves the many ethnic Russians who are
citizens in Latvia without an obvious place to obtain the
kind of news that is of greatest interest to them.
	On the other hand, the study's authors concluded, the
dramatic difference in focus often means that newspapers
published in one language seldom enter into an active
dialogue with newspapers published in another, a situation
that promotes both isolation and suspicion. Moreover, the
Latvian-language newspapers and the Russian-language
newspapers divide according to what the authors suggest are
specific national styles of journalism.
	This is partly inevitable: as the authors point out,
"the expression of one and the same thought in different
languages will come out differently." But the existing
differences are both more fundamental and more a matter of
choice.
	As Shuman and Kruk wrote, the Russian-language press has
traditionally defined itself as a medium for the expression
of the opinions of individuals rather than the communication
of hard news. It also sees itself as more critical, when
possible, than supportive of the existing political order.
	The Latvian-language press focuses more on information
than on opinion, a trend that can help produce what the
authors call a "quality" medium. But it also sometimes means
it is significantly less critical in its use of sources than
the Russian-language media.
	Shuman and Kruk end their study on a pessimistic note.
They suggest that there is no easy way out of the current
situation and that the closing of one or another newspaper
will not allow the press to assume its proper function in a
free society. But if the authors are pessimistic, the
publication of their study gives grounds for optimism: only a
press fully aware of its problems will be able to overcome
them and only a press fully conscious of its enormous
responsibilities will try to do so.

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