History is made out of the failures and heroism of each insignificant moment. - Franz Kafka
RFE/RL NEWSLINE

RFE/RL NEWSLINE Vol. 2, No. 156, Part II, 14 August 1998


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RFE/RL NEWSLINE Vol. 2, No. 156, Part II, 14 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

* HAVEL PLAYS DOWN DISPUTE WITH GERMAN GOVERNMENT

* MECIAR INVITES FOREIGN OBSERVERS FOR ELECTIONS

* RUGOVA NAMES NEGOTIATING TEAM

* End Note: THE DOG THAT DIDN'T BARK

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EAST-CENTRAL EUROPE

PUSTOVOYTENKO SEIZES CARS FROM BUDGET DEBTORS. Ukrainian
Prime Minister Valeriy Pustovoytenko is continuing his
crackdown on budget debtors (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 13 August
1998) by ordering the authorities to seize personal cars from
directors of non-paying companies and to impose severe fines
on non-payers, ITAR-TASS and AP reported on 14 August. More
than 11,000 cars have been listed for confiscation and 97
cars have already been seized, according to ITAR-TASS. The
tax police have fined tax defaulters a total of 3.7 million
hryvni ($1.8 million). The previous day, the cabinet appealed
to all government employees to surrender 50 percent of their
August salaries to the pension fund. JM

WIVES OF UKRAINIAN PILOTS BLOCK MILITARY AIRFIELD. Some 30
wives of military pilots have been picketing the military
airfield in Myrhorod, Poltava Oblast for the past week to
prevent their husbands from conducting duty flights,
Ukrainian Television reported on 12 August. The wives are
demanding that their husbands wages for the past six months
be paid and are threatening to launch a hunger strike. The
Myrhorod airfield is the base for Ukraine's largest group of
SU-27 fighters, which protect the country's air space.
According to the station, the pilots--who are prohibited from
striking by military law--support the action and are letting
their wives into the airfield despite the fact that military
authorities have dug ditches and set up additional sentry
posts. JM

LUKASHENKA OFFERS 20 RESIDENCES TO EVICTED AMBASSADORS.
Belarusian President Alyaksandr Lukashenka has proposed 20
new residences for the ambassadors who were evicted from the
Drazdy settlement in June, Belapan and Interfax reported on
13 August. The offer follows his personal inspection of
government housing two days earlier (see "RFE/RL Newsline,"
11 August 1998). Lukashenka said that if the West rejects his
proposal, Belarus will have to believe that the Drazdy
scandal is a pretext to discredit Belarus. "We will not lead
anybody by the hand anymore. This decision is final,"
Interfax quoted him as saying. RFE/RL's Belarusian Service
reported on 13 August that the Belarusian-EU negotiations on
the diplomatic standoff have been deadlocked since Belarus
refused to allow the evicted diplomats back to Drazdy. JM

IMF SAYS BELARUS MUST LIBERALIZE ECONOMY. Adalbert Knobl, IMF
representative to Lithuania and Belarus, who is based in
Vilnius, said on 13 August that Belarus must liberalize its
economy in the face of a financial crisis sparked by a
growing trade deficit, Reuters reported. "We don't see any
changes in economic policy in Belarus, but circumstances
could force them," Knobl said after his talks with Belarusian
Premier Syarhey Linh and National Bank Chairman Pyotr
Prakapovich. Belarus's trade deficit in the first seven
months of this year was $876.7 million, up from $730.6
million in the same period last year. Knobl added that the
IMF is concerned about the National Bank's plans to print
16.3 trillion rubles ($400 million, according to the official
exchange rate) in the second half of 1998. "If the current
credit policy is continued, it will eventually lead to a drop
of output," he commented. JM

LATVIAN ORGANIZATION CAMPAIGNS AGAINST REFERENDUM BID. The Latvian Human
Rights and Ethnic Studies Center has launched a
campaign against the bid to collect signatures supporting a
referendum on amendments to the citizenship law, BNS reported
on 13 August. The center has printed 1,000 posters and 8,000
leaflets urging people to think before they sign up in
support of such a plebiscite. The action is supported by
several non-governmental organizations, including the local
branch of the UN Children's Fund (UNICEF), and sponsored by
the U.S.-Baltic Foundation. A local representative of UNICEF
stressed that Latvia has signed the UN convention on the
rights of the child, which provides for the right of children
to acquire citizenship from birth. JC

LITHUANIA SAYS RUSSIA IGNORED INVITATION TO OBSERVE NATO
MANEUVERS. The Lithuanian Defense Ministry says that Russian
representatives were invited to observe the "Baltic Challenge
'98" exercises in Klaipeda last month but that Moscow ignored
the invitation, BNS reported on 13 August. NATO member
countries and states participating in the Partnership for
Peace took part in those maneuvers. The statement came after
a Russian Foreign Ministry official publicly expressed
surprise that Lithuania allegedly refused "to invite Russia
to participate in the exercises." It added that in March, the
Lithuanian Foreign Ministry had invited Russia to send
military observers to the exercises. JC

GERMANS SEEKING AMBER ROOM IN LITHUANIA. German treasurer-
hunters on 14 August are to begin digging at a site they
believe could hold Peter the Great's Amber Room panels,
seized by the Nazis during World War II, AP and BNS reported.
Earlier this month, the team detected a large amount of metal
buried in a shallow lagoon near Preila, on Lithuania's coast.
They were searching the area because a wartime resident had
said he saw German soldiers burying boxes there. The lagoon
is to be drained, and a Lithuanian mine squad will be on hand
in case the buried metal turns out to be explosives. Germany
has contended that the panels were destroyed during the
Soviet Union's bombing of Koenigsberg, now the Russian
exclave of Kaliningrad. But others claim the treasure was
buried by the Nazis. JC

POLISH MINERS ACCEPT SAFETY NET IN RESTRUCTURING PLAN.
Economy Minister Janusz Steinhoff on 13 August said that coal
miners have accepted the proposed safety net for those
workers laid-off in the government's mining restructuring
plan, PAP reported. Under the plan, some 25,000 miners are to
be laid off this year and another 100,000 by 2002. This year,
5,503 dismissed miners were paid one-off severance sums and
3,389 took a five-year pre-retirement leave of absence,
during which they receive 75 percent of their last wage. Some
340 received retraining benefits. Meanwhile, 12 coal mining
trade unions announced on 13 August that they have drafted an
alternative restructuring plan and will seek support for it
in the parliament. JM

POLISH SOCCER OFFICIAL OFFERS LEAGUE FOR JOB. Marian
Dziurowicz, president of the Polish Soccer Association
(PZPN), has offered to form a soccer league independent of
the PZPN in exchange for retaining his job, "Zycie" reported
on 14 August. Clubs belonging to Poland's premier soccer
league have demanded Dziurowicz's resignation in the recent
standoff between the PZPN and the government. Those clubs
boycotted last weekend's matches. The sports minister
suspended the entire PZPN leadership in May for alleged
incompetence and corruption but was forced to reinstate it
after the International Federation of Football Associations
threatened to exclude Poland from international soccer events
(see "RFE/RL Newsline," 10 August 1998). The Polish premier
league clubs will continue their boycott of matches until a
formal agreement on the creation of a new league has been
signed. JM

HAVEL PLAYS DOWN DISPUTE WITH GERMAN GOVERNMENT. Speaking from the hospital
where he recently underwent surgery,
President Vaclav Havel on 13 August said recent cooperation
with Germany has been "excellent" in many areas, which "shows
how close actual relations between our two nations are." He
said the results of the last Czech parliamentary elections
demonstrate that "in the Czech Republic one cannot get votes
by creating a negative picture of citizens from a neighboring
partner state." And he commented that German politicians must
also abstain from trying to win votes "by sniping at the
Czechs," Reuters and dpa reported. Deputy Premier Egon Lansky
told CTK that the government in Prague "never intended to
influence the election campaign in Germany" and will avoid
comments on statements made there during the run-up to the
September elections. MS

MECIAR INVITES FOREIGN OBSERVERS FOR ELECTIONS... Foreign
Ministry spokesman Milan Tokar on 13 August said Prime
Minister Vladimir Meciar has invited observers from 18
countries to monitor the 25-26 September parliamentary
elections, CTK reported. He said the list does not include
observers from the Czech Republic and Hungary. Slovakia's
relation with both of those countries are strained. Tokar
told CTK that the Foreign Ministry is convinced that the
cabinet will approve an invitation to the OSCE to send
observers. This invitation has been repeatedly postponed, and
the opposition has strongly criticized the government for the
delay, saying OSCE observers should have been invited three
months before the elections, which is the usual procedure. MS

...COMMENTS ON RELATIONS WITH NEIGHBORS. Speaking on Slovak
Television on 12 August, Meciar said he would be content if
relations with the Czech Republic were "normal," rather than
"above normal," as some Czech politicians say they must be.
He argued that relations are in fact "below normal" owing to
political developments in the neighboring country, CTK
reported. Meciar said Czechs have not implemented the
agreement on the division of Czechoslovak federal property
reached by himself and former Prime Minister Vaclav Klaus at
their meeting in Piestany in fall 1997. With regard to
Slovak-Hungarian relations, he said there is "no reason for
optimism" because Hungarian Prime Minister Victor Orban's
policies on Hungarian minorities abroad "represent a step
backward." Meciar said the basic treaty with Hungary does not
entitle Budapest to interfere in internal Slovak affairs, and
he criticized the Orban cabinet's readiness to support
demands for autonomy for Slovakia's ethnic Hungarians,
Hungarian media reported. MS

HUNGARY WANTS NEW TALKS ON GABCIKOVO-NAGYMAROS. The
government will soon appoint a new commissioner to tackle the
controversy with Bratislava over the construction of the
Gabcikovo-Nagymaros dam. The controversy has arisen over the
September 1997 decision of the International Court of Justice
in The Hague, an environmental expert of the ruling
Federation of Young Democrats-Hungarian Civic Party said on
state television on 13 August. Laszlo Szekely said the
decision does not oblige Hungary to build a dam either at
Nagymaros or at Pilismarot, northern Hungary. Nor, he
continued, does it specify that Hungary must fill up the
Danube reservoir at Dunalikilti, northwestern Hungary. Slovak
Foreign Ministry spokesman Milan Tokar responded that
Slovakia is "strictly adhering" to the court's decision and
"cannot accept that Hungary tries to willfully reinterpret
this ruling," TASR reported. MS


SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE

RUGOVA NAMES NEGOTIATING TEAM... Kosovar shadow-state
Ibrahim Rugova said in Prishtina on 13 August that he has appointed
a negotiating team for talks with the Serbian authorities. The
new body represents Rugova's Democratic League of Kosova, the
Christian Democrats, and the Social Democrats. It consists of
Fehmi Agani, Fatmir Sadiu, Edita Tahiri, Tadei Radiqi and
Iliaz Kurtesi. Adem Demaci and Mehmet Hajrizi, who are close
to the Kosova Liberation Army (UCK), declined Rugova's
invitation to join. Unidentified senior Western diplomats
told Reuters that the seriousness of the crisis made it
imperative for the international community and Rugova to put
together a negotiating team even without representatives of
the UCK. One diplomat added that he hopes the team will
achieve "early success [that] will pull in the doubting
Thomases," by which he presumably meant the UCK. But on 14
August, Rugova said that the ongoing Serbian offensive must
stop before talks can begin. PM

...BUT UCK REJECTS IT. The UCK issued a statement to the
Kosovar and Albanian media on 13 August announcing its forces
are making a "tactical withdrawal" in response to the Serbian
offensive. The text also made clear that Rugova's team does
not speak for the guerrillas. Instead, the UCK's announcement
said that the guerrillas have asked Adem Demaci to be their
chief representative and to resign his other positions in
Kosova's political arena. The text added that the UCK's other
political representatives are Xhavit Haliti, Bardhyl Mahmuti,
Hashim Taqi, Faton Mehmetaj, Sokol Bashota, and press
spokesman Jakup Krasniqi. Veton Surroi, who is Kosova's best-
known journalist and a top aide to Rugova, told the BBC on 14
August that Rugova's team is a "lame duck" because it does
not include the UCK and because no serious talks are possible
as long as the Serbian offensive continues. PM

SERBIA WELCOMES RUGOVA'S ANNOUNCEMENT. The governments of the U.S., the
U.K., France, Austria, Russia, and Serbia hailed
Rugova's announcement on 13 August, Western news agencies
reported from Prishtina. U.S. Ambassador to Macedonia
Christopher Hill, who is also Washington's chief envoy in the
Kosova crisis, said that foreign diplomats and Rugova's team
will meet on 14 August to draft a negotiating platform,
RFE/RL's South Slavic Service reported. Serbian Deputy Prime
Minister Nikola Sainovic praised Rugova's decision to appoint
negotiators as a "smart move." Sainovic also told state
television in Belgrade that the authorities "always
differentiated between citizens of Albanian [ethnic origin]
and bandit-terrorist groups." PM

NATO OFFICIALS COMPLAIN OF RUSSIAN 'VETO.' Unnamed U.S. and
NATO officials say that Russian Foreign Minister Yevgenii
Primakov is blocking any future NATO decision to intervene in
the Kosova crisis by threatening to veto an authorization for
such a move in the UN Security Council, the "International
Herald Tribune" reported on 14 August. The newspaper noted
that "senior Clinton administration officials, speaking
privately, complained bitterly this week that Mr. Primakov
had secretly told [Yugoslav President Slobodan] Milosevic
that he need not worry about the risk of a NATO intervention
without a Security Council resolution. Russia has vowed to
veto any such UN resolution." It also quoted a senior U.S.
official as saying this week that "right now, we've got a
situation in which Western policy on a major issue is being
run by Yevgenii Primakov." PM

ALBANIA CONDEMNS SERBIAN OFFENSIVE. The Foreign Ministry
issued a statement on 13 August saying that continuing
Serbian attacks on Kosovar settlements are "intolerable." The
statement said that "every delay in ending the Kosova
conflict increases the magnitude of the bloodshed and the
humanitarian catastrophe there, as well as the danger of its
spreading to the rest of the region." Meanwhile, some 600
Kosovar refugees crossed into Albania near Tropoja the same
day. A representative of the United Nations High Commissioner
for Refugees told Reuters that only some 250 are civilians
and that the rest are UCK fighters who "escorted" them. An
Interior Ministry spokesman said in Tirana that Albanian
helicopters brought 12 wounded Kosovars from Tropoja to the
capital for treatment. He added that Serbian troops fired
artillery shells 700 meters into Albania near Tropoja on 12
August and that a military observation tower at Padesh came
under small arms fire the following day. FS

ALBANIAN PRESIDENT SENDS BACK SECRET SERVICE LAW. Rexhep
Meidani on 13 August returned to the parliament the
controversial draft law on the National Information Service
(SHIK, see "RFE/RL Newsline," 12 August 1998). He asked that
the legislators change the text to further limit the powers
of the secret service. An article that refers to "the
obligation of the managers of central or local [government]
institutions [as well as of] legal, state, or private
entities to give information to SHIK officers" has been
protested by human rights groups, the press, and the some
members of the public. Meidani proposed instead that SHIK
members should simply have the "right" to talk to public
officials and private businessmen. He argued that the
existing formulation leaves "room for abuse...to the
detriment of the freedoms and rights of citizen." FS

WERE EGYPTIANS ARRESTED IN TIRANA INVOLVED IN LUXOR
MASSACRE? An unidentified source in Albania's Interior Ministry
told Reuters on 13 August that three Egyptian Islamists arrested
in Tirana in late June were suspects in the November 1997
massacre of tourists in Luxor, in which 62 people were
killed. Egypt's largest militant group, al-Gama'a al-
Islamiya, took responsibility for the massacre. Close
cooperation between SHIK and the CIA led to the arrests. The
source could not confirm a report from the "International
Herald Tribune" the previous day that the three men and a
fourth Islamist arrested in Tirana in July have ties to the
Saudi dissident Osama bin Laden (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 13
August 1998) . FS

TENSIONS MOUNT AMONG BOSNIAN SERBS. Republika Srpska police
have arrested some 33 persons since the assassination on 8
August of Srdjan Knezevic, a police official loyal to
President Biljana Plavsic (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 12 August
1998), AP reported on 13 August. UN police spokesmen said
that the wave of arrests reflects a "showdown" between
supporters of Plavsic and those loyal to her hard-line
predecessor, Radovan Karadzic. The spokesmen added that the
UN police are seeking access to the arrested persons and can
confirm only 14 arrests. Pale-based Karadzic loyalists have
demanded the replacement of Interior Minister Milovan
Stankovic, whom the hard-liners say has launched "a reign of
terror against innocent people." Stankovic has charged the
Pale leadership headed by Momcilo Krajisnik with ordering the
assassination. The tensions come in the run-up to the Bosnian
general elections slated for 12-13 September. PM

ROMANIAN PRESIDENT ON HUNGARIAN UNIVERSITY. Emil
Constantinescu said in Cluj on 13 August that he is backing
"multiculturalism" for universities in Romania and that the
setting up of a state university in the Hungarian language is
a "Romanian internal problem" that "cannot be the object of
transactions" with other states. He added that the
"multicultural model" of the Cluj university is one he is
attempting to persuade Ukrainian President Leonid Kuchma to
introduce at the Cernivici [Cernauti] university for the
benefit of Romanian students. In reply to a question by a
journalist concerning Hungarian suggestions that double
citizenship be granted to ethnic Hungarians abroad to ensure
links after Hungary joins the EU, Constantinescu said that
the "time for responding" has not yet come but that
consideration will have to be given to "our interest in
Romanians in neighboring countries who face difficult
conditions." MS

MOLDOVAN ECOLOGISTS THREATEN TO BLOCK NUCLEAR WASTE
TRANSIT. The Ecologist Movement on 13 August said it may block
the transit of nuclear waste from Bulgarian's Kozloduy reactor to
Russia, Infotag reported, quoting Ioan Bobina, the director
of the movement's information center. One day earlier, the
government officially approved the transit, for which
Bulgaria is to pay $50 million and another $5 million as
compensation in the event of an accident. Deputy Prime
Minister Valentin Dolganiuc of the Democratic Convention of
Moldova voted against that decision. Nicolae Andronic, a
deputy premier representing the For a Democratic and
Prosperous Moldova Bloc, said it is wrong to call the transit
cargo "nuclear waste" because it is in fact processed fuel
that, he claimed, does not pose any threat to the
population's health. Two Moldovan specialists will oversee
the loading of the fuel in Bulgaria. MS

BULGARIA DISMISSES GREEK FEARS ABOUT KOZLODUY. Konstantin
Shushulov, chairman of the National Electricity Company
Board, and Georgi Kashciev, head of the government Committee
for Peaceful Use of Atomic Energy, on 13 August dismissed
fears in neighboring Greece that the Kozloduy nuclear reactor
poses a threat, AP reported. Shushulov said that the plant
"is by no means at a lower safety level than other [such
facilities] in Europe." Both officials were responding to a
report in the Greek daily "Kathimerini" saying the EU has
assured Greece it will keep exerting pressure on Bulgaria to
close four of Kozloduy's six reactors that are considered
unsafe. MS

THE DOG THAT DIDN'T BARK

by Paul Goble

	The most remarkable feature of the current Russian
economic crisis is one that most commentaries have
overlooked: namely, that the Russian collapse has not spread
to the other post-Soviet states.
	Even five years ago, most of the former Soviet republics
were still sufficiently integrated that difficulties in the
largest of them would inevitably have a large and immediate
impact on all the others.
	Now that has changed. More and more post-Soviet
countries have succeeded in diversifying their trading
partners so that problems in Russia will not be the
determining factor in their development.
	That is not to say that the problems in Moscow will not
have an impact. Rather, the ways in which these Russian
problems will affect the non-Russian countries are very
different and more indirect than many are now assuming.
	First, some but by no means all of the post-Soviet
states remain sufficiently integrated with the Russian
economy that problems in Moscow will have precisely the kind
of impact that some are assuming will happen across the
region. Ukraine, Belarus and Kazakhstan, for example, will be
under enormous pressure to devalue their national currencies
if the Russian ruble continues to fall.
	Second, many of the post-Soviet states have not yet
completed the reform of their economic and legal systems that
would make them able to withstand negative trends abroad.
These countries--which are in the majority--thus suffer from
many of the same kind of problems that Russia does and for
the same reasons. Without reforms, they cannot attract the
kind of investment that will help power their future
development. Indeed, the exceptions to this general pattern--
Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania--prove the rule.
	The three Baltic countries rapidly liberalized their
economies and now enjoy some of the highest rates of Western
investment and economic growth anywhere in the region. Those
that have failed to reform their economies, on the other
hand, are in increasing difficulty. But the primary cause of
their problems is the absence of reform rather than
difficulties in the Russian marketplace.
	Third, all of these countries are profoundly affected by
the attitudes of Western investors. Because the Russian
market is the best-known, many in the West have concluded
that all post-Soviet states and indeed all emerging markets
are in the same situation. That is absolutely wrong. In the
most recent quarter for which economic statistics are
available, virtually all the post-Soviet states did better
than Russia on virtually every measure of economic
development, relative to the size of their markets.
	But while those judgments are incorrect, they have an
impact on the economies of the other countries in the region,
an impact that some analysts in both Moscow and the West will
undoubtedly suggest shows just how "integrated" the region
remains.
	To a large extent, this misreading of the economic
situation in the post-Soviet states reflects a larger
misunderstanding of the situation there. Nearly seven years
after the Soviet Union collapsed, all too many in the West
continue to refer to the countries there as "new independent
states" and to think about the region as a single whole
rather than as 12 new countries and the three restored Baltic
States.
	Such observers thus have missed the broad
diversification over the last few years in a region dominated
until a decade ago by a single center. If the Russian
economic crisis does in the end have an impact across all
these countries, it is far more likely to be the result of
Western misperceptions than the product of integration left
over from Soviet times.

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