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RFE/RL NEWSLINE

RFE/RL NEWSLINE Vol. 2, No. 165 Part II, 27 August 1998


________________________________________________________
RFE/RL NEWSLINE Vol. 2, No. 165 Part II, 27 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

* IMF TO DECIDE ON LOAN TO UKRAINE 'IN A FEW DAYS'

* SLOVAK ELECTION CAMPAIGN OFFICIALLY STARTS

* MOLOTOV COCKTAIL THROWN AT U.S. OFFICE IN PRISHTINA

End Note: DIVIDED ON SECURITY IN THE BALTICS
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EAST-CENTRAL EUROPE

IMF TO DECIDE ON LOAN TO UKRAINE 'IN A FEW DAYS.' The
IMF will decide on a $2.2 billion loan to Ukraine "in a
few days," ITAR-TASS reported on 27 August, quoting the
Ukrainian president's press service. That pledge was
made by IMF Managing Director Michel Camdessus to
Ukrainian President Leonid Kuchma at their meeting on 26
August in Crimea. According to the press service,
Camdessus positively assessed Kuchma's recent economic
decrees to stabilize and reform the Ukrainian economy.
JM

LUKASHENKA, KUCHMA MEET IN CRIMEA. Belarusian President
Alyaksandr Lukashenka met with President Kuchma in
Crimea on 26 August to discuss bilateral relations and
the financial crisis in Russia, Interfax reported.
According to Kuchma's press service, the Ukrainian
leader stressed the importance of finalizing the
demarcation of the Ukrainian-Belarusian border,
developing mutually beneficent economic ties, and
reforming the CIS. Lukashenka told journalists before
the meeting that the Belarus-Ukraine partnership "needs
dynamics. We have even frozen trade turnover," he
commented. He also said he disagrees with Ukraine's
proposals to make the CIS a consultative body rather
than a decision-making one and to focus on expanding
bilateral ties between post-Soviet countries. JM

KUCHMA WELCOMES RUSSIA'S INTENTION TO EXPAND REGIONAL
TIES. Commenting on his meeting with Lukashenka and
acting Russian Premier Viktor Chernomyrdin in Crimea
later on 26 August (see Part 1), Kuchma welcomed
Russia's striving to develop regional cooperation with
CIS countries, calling it a "good form of integration,"
ITAR-TASS reported. Kuchma said that "Kyiv is always
ready for [the] closest cooperation" within the CIS.
Kuchma added that Ukrainians are also worried by
Russia's financial plight and realize that it may soon
have a "serious impact" on Ukraine as well. "A
successful overcoming of that difficult situation will
have a decisive influence on the stability of state
power," the agency quoted Kuchma as saying. JM

LUKASHENKA SAYS RUSSIA SHOULD CHANGE COURSE. The
Belarusian leader said in Crimea before meeting with
Kuchma and Chernomyrdin that Russia "should change the
course of its policy, and it does not matter who is put
in charge of that course," Interfax and AP reported on
26 August. Lukashenka added that he could accept neither
the course pursued by former Russian Premier Sergei
Kirienko's government nor "the people who implemented"
it. He did not comment directly on the appointment of
Viktor Chernomyrdin as Russian acting prime minister,
saying that individuals are not important in such
circumstances. JM

BELARUSIAN CENTRAL BANK TO INTRODUCE SINGLE RUBLE
EXCHANGE RATE. Beginning on 28 August, the Belarusian
National Bank is to set a single Belarusian ruble
exchange rate at the Interbank Currency Exchange,
Belapan reported on 26 August. The official exchange
rate will be 49,000 Belarusian rubles to $1. The black
market exchange rate stands at some 80,000 to $1. Under
a presidential edict, Belarusian enterprises are obliged
to sell 10 percent of their revenues in hard currency to
the National Bank according to the official exchange
rate. JM

SIIMANN SAYS ESTONIAN KROON NOT THREATENED BY RUSSIAN
RUBLE. Prime Minister Mart Siimann told journalists on
26 August that the de facto devaluation of the Russian
ruble poses no threat to the Estonian kroon because the
latter is pegged to the German mark, BNS and ETA
reported. "The devaluation of the Russian ruble will not
rock the kroon, because its stability is secured by the
currency board system," according to Siimann. At the
same time, he did not rule out an indirect impact of the
devaluation on the Estonian economy, noting that Russian
market is attractive to many businessmen and that the
risk in trading with Russia is always high. JC

RUSSIAN OFFICIAL PICKS HOLES IN LATVIAN CITIZENSHIP
AMENDMENTS. Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Aleksandr
Avdeev, addressing a news conference following a
regional foreign ministers' meeting in Vaesteraas,
Sweden, said he has confidence in Latvia's commitment to
changing its citizenship legislation, which left many
ethnic Russians stateless after Latvia became
independent in 1991. But at the same time, he said the
proposed amendments contain provisions that "raise
doubts about the government's sincerity." "Latvia will
still have to do a lot to improve political and civil
rights," he commented. Singling out the provision for
automatically granting citizenship to all children born
of stateless parents in Latvia since 1991, Avdeev noted
that the proposed change requires that a citizen have no
criminal record for five years. Since the children in
question would be no more than seven years old, that
provision implies the citizenship process will drag on
for years, he argued. JC

LITHUANIAN PRESIDENT PROMISES IGNALINA CLOSEDOWN. Valdas
Adamkus told AP in an interview on 26 August that he is
committed to closing down the Ignalina nuclear power
plant, which uses Soviet-era reactors like those at
Chornobyl. Neighboring countries, expressing fears that
an accident like the one in Chornobyl could occur at
Ignalina, have urged that the plant be shut down. A
former official at the U.S. Environmental Protection
Agency, Adamkus said the plant will be phased out over
the next 15 years. At the same time, he stressed that
safety at the plant has improved. "I believe Lithuanians
are not now exposed to any emergencies, nor is Ignalina
a threat to any of our neighbors," he commented. JC

CENTRAL EUROPEAN CURRENCIES FEEL STRAIN OF RUSSIAN
FINANCIAL CRISIS. The National Bank of Hungary on 26
August intervened on the foreign exchange market to
reduce forint devaluation, saying they are unjustified
by domestic economic developments. The Polish zloty and
the Czech and Slovak crowns also lost ground against the
U.S. dollar and the German mark. In Romania, the stock
exchange fell 11 percent, to its lowest level since
opening in 1996, AP reported. MS

CZECH ULTRANATIONALIST FACES NEW TRIAL ON RACIAL HATRED.
Miroslav Sladek, leader of the ultra nationalist
Republican Party, who was acquitted of charges of
instigating racial and national hatred in January, faces
a retrial on the same charges, AP reported, citing CTK.
The charges were brought after Sladek said during a
visit by German Chancellor Helmut Kohl in 1997 that "we
can only be sorry that we killed too few Germans during
the war." Stanislava Pichova, chairwoman of the Appeals
Senate of the Prague City Court, on 26 August said the
court is dissatisfied with the decision of the Prague
district court and that the case will be returned to
that court for a reassessment of the evidence submitted
by the prosecution. MS

SLOVAK ELECTION CAMPAIGN OFFICIALLY STARTS... The
election campaign in Slovakia started officially on 26
August, and a spokesman for Vladimir Meciar's ruling
Movement for a Democratic Slovakia (HZDS) dismissed
allegations that the party is ready to apply any tactics
needed to win the elections, AP reported. Ivan Mjartan
accused the opposition of being "aggressive" and is
always criticizing something, "because it is only driven
by its desire for power." The HZDS has prepared
thousands of leaflets with caricatures of opposition
politicians and crude jokes about them, but Mjartan said
that "the decision on whether to use them depends on
what the opposition does against us." MS

...AS MECIAR EXPLAINS INVITATIONS TO ELECTION OBSERVERS.
Speaking on Slovak radio on 26 August, Meciar said that
he did not invite election observers from the U.S.,
Britain, the Czech Republic and Hungary because those
countries are "unfriendly" to Slovakia, RFE/RL's
Bratislava bureau reported. He added that he did not
want those observers to "abuse their presence" in order
to criticize the elections, In other news, speaking
after a meeting with visiting Slovak Construction and
Public Works Minister Jan Mraz, Turkish State Minister
Yucel Seckiner said in Ankara on 26 August that Turkey
and Slovakia are working on an agreement for the joint
production of a tank at a Slovak arms factory, Turkish
media reported. MS

SPYING SCANDAL CONTINUES IN HUNGARY. "Magyar Hirlap" on
27 August reports that the illegal gathering of
information on Federation of Young Democrats-Hungarian
Civic Party leaders under the previous government was
carried out by a private company with secret service
connections (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 26 August 1998). The
daily's report was confirmed by police and secret
service sources, but it is still unknown who ordered the
company to gather the information. The government on 26
August authorized Interior Minister Sandor Pinter,
political state secretary at the Prime Minister's
Office, Ervin Demeter, and senior adviser Bela Gyuricza
to open an investigation into the case. MS

SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE

MOLOTOV COCKTAIL THROWN AT U.S. OFFICE IN PRISHTINA.
Unknown persons threw a Molotov cocktail at the United
States Information Center in Prishtina on 26 August,
causing some damage to the entrance of the building.
U.S. officials then asked Serbian police to increase
their protection for the office and the hotel where most
of the staff lives, which the Serbs agreed to do,
Reuters reported. An unnamed Western diplomat said that
"we take [the attack] as a message," but he declined to
speculate as to who might be behind it. He added that
local Serbs and ethnic Albanians alike are generally
friendly toward the staff. The center functions as the
de facto U.S. diplomatic representation in Kosova, and
U.S. officials frequently meet with Kosovar political
leaders there. Assistant Secretary of State Julia Taft
is slated to arrive in Prishtina on 27 August. PM

SYSTEMATIC RIGHTS ABUSES IN KOSOVA? London's "Financial
Times" wrote on 27 August that "evidence is mounting of
systematic human rights abuses against ethnic Albanians
arrested in [Kosova] on suspicion of links with
separatist rebels. Police have released the bodies of
four men who have died in custody since last month, but
many others are missing." The newspaper noted that
officials of the UN and of the Hague-based war crimes
tribunal "are investigating widespread allegations of
torture and abuses of the [Serbian] judicial system."
One unnamed investigator added that "the UN is very
concerned. [Evidence of abuse of rights] is starting to
be fairly systematic." PM

BUKOSHI LAUDS UCK. Kosovar shadow-state Prime Minister
Bujar Bukoshi said on Albanian Television on 26 August
that Kosovars are "undergoing the most difficult moments
of their history." He charged that "Belgrade butchers
[have launched] a total war of extermination" against
the Kosovars, who have no choice but to
"institutionalize their self-defense" around the Kosova
Liberation Army (UCK). Bukoshi called the UCK "an
expression of the inalienable right of a peace-loving
and freedom-loving people to defend themselves and
oppose the most anti-human regime that post-World War II
Europe has seen." The prime minister criticized the
international community's response to the crisis in
Kosova as "inadequate" and warned that those
unidentified foreigners who deny the Kosovars the right
to self-determination may some day regret having taken
that position. Bukoshi nonetheless said the role of the
U.S. in mediating and eventually "guaranteeing" a
political settlement is "indispensable." PM

DEMACI SAYS FREEDOM MUST BE WON. Adem Demaci, who is the
leading political spokesman for the UCK, told the
"Sueddeutsche Zeitung" of 27 August that the UCK
fighters have returned to a policy of engaging in
classical guerrilla hit-and-run tactics (see "RFE/RL
Newsline," 25 August 1998). When asked if the UCK
intends to engage in terrorism, he replied: "It is not
terrorism when one fights for freedom or when one
attacks representatives of the enemy, such as spies or
agents." Demaci criticized shadow-state President
Ibrahim Rugova as "not suitable for his office. He is a
weak person, who lacks courage, talent and knowledge,"
Demaci charged. He added that Kosovars elected Rugova
because they thought he could deliver U.S. support for
Kosovar independence. Demaci concluded that now Kosovars
realize that they must fight for independence, because
that "is the only way to bring the Serbs to the
conference table." PM

DODIK, DJUKANOVIC CALL FOR DEMOCRACY... Republika Srpska
Prime Minister Milorad Dodik and Montenegrin President
Milo Djukanovic told a conference in Alpbach, Austria,
on 26 August that the keys to peace in the Balkans are
open borders, free trade, democratization, and educating
a new generation in a spirit free of nationalism. Dodik
stressed that nationalism has led the Bosnian Serbs into
almost total isolation but that now democracy must be
built from the ground up, "Die Presse" reported. He
appealed to the EU to help educate at least 500 to 600
Bosnian Serb future leaders as an investment in the
democratization process. Djukanovic argued that Yugoslav
President Slobodan Milosevic has brought Yugoslavia to
the brink of ruin through "catastrophic" economic
policies and by indulging in "nationalist mysticism."
The Montenegrin leader stressed that Yugoslavia is
suffering from a lack of democracy. PM

...BUT DIFFER ON KOSOVA. Djukanovic said in Alpbach on
26 August that the solution to the Kosova crisis is a
negotiated settlement, "Die Presse" reported. Dodik,
however, suggested that animosities between Serbs and
Kosovars may have become too deep to permit
reconciliation and that the two peoples may have to go
separate ways. Addressing the same conference, Polish
Foreign Minister Bronislaw Geremek, who holds the OSCE
chair, urged Russia to end its support for Milosevic on
Kosova. Austria's Foreign Minister Wolfgang Schuessel,
who holds the EU chair, called for an international
conference to end the Kosova dispute. He said that such
a gathering should be modeled on the 1995 Dayton
conference that ended the Bosnian war. PM

ALBANIA, YUGOSLAVIA EXCHANGE CHARGES OVER CHURCH
BOMBING. The Albanian Foreign Ministry issued a
statement on 26 August rejecting a federal Yugoslav
protest over a bomb that destroyed an Orthodox Church
building in Shkodra last week (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 20
August 1998). The Yugoslavs had called the blast "an
attack on the human and religious rights of ethnic
Serbian and Montenegrin minorities." The Albanian
statement countered that "the Orthodox church in Shkodra
is owned by the Orthodox community, which is composed,
first and foremost, of [ethnic] Albanians." The
statement added that the Albanian authorities have no
evidence as to who was behind the bombing, but it hinted
that the blast might have been organized by Serbian
intelligence services: "The attack was the work of a
devilish mind that tried to provoke conflict among
religious communities in this city." FS

US AMBASSADOR CONCERNED OVER INDEPENDENCE OF ALBANIAN
JUDICIARY... U.S. Ambassador to Albania Marisa Lino told
VOA's Albanian-language service that Washington is "very
concerned about the democratic process in Albania"
following the arrest of six former high-ranking
officials who now belong to the opposition (see "RFE/RL
Newsline," 26 August 1998). She said Albanian political
parties should abide by the rule of law, stressing that
the courts are "a place for justice, not a place for
politics, and that there is no point in perpetuating a
cycle of revenge." Socialist Prime Minister Fatos Nano
has denied that the arrests were politically motivated.
Albanian politics are sharply polarized between
supporters of the Socialists and backers of the
opposition Democrats. FS

...WHILE TENSIONS MOUNT. On 26 August, spokesmen for the
opposition Democratic Party in Tirana called on the
U.S., the EU, and the OSCE to investigate those arrests.
An OSCE spokesman said his organization is monitoring
the situation. Meanwhile, Democratic legislator Azem
Hajdari called on supporters during a rally in Tirana
"to seize weapons and to die for freedom," ATSH
reported. Former President Sali Berisha of the
Democratic Party added that "in addition to our peaceful
protests, we shall use all other means until our demands
are fulfilled." He called for the resignation of the
government. The next day, Tirana police banned an
opposition rally slated for 27 August. Police spokesmen
said that they feared that "terrorist acts" would be
committed at the rally if it went ahead. FS

ROMANIAN-UKRAINIAN TENSIONS IN OFFING. Foreign Minister
Andrei Plesu on 26 August told the Senate's Foreign
Relations Committee that the teaching of Romanian in
minority schools in Ukraine is to be replaced by the
teaching of the "Moldovan language." He said textbooks
printed in Romanian are to be replaced by ones using the
Cyrillic alphabet in response to a proposal made by the
chairman of the Association of Ukrainian Romanians.
Plesu said he has asked Romania's Department for
Minorities to present counter-proposals, which will then
be handed to the joint Romanian-Ukrainian Commission on
Minority Problems. The same day, the opposition Party of
Social Democracy in Romania protested the Ukrainian
decision, saying it is a "continuation of the de-
nationalization policies pursued by the former Soviet
authorities." MS

ROMANIAN LOCAL GOVERNMENT TO BE FINANCIALLY SELF-
SUFFICIENT. The Senate on 26 August approved a law aimed
at increasing the financial independence of local
government, RFE/RL's Bucharest bureau reported.
According to the law, 50 percent of taxes on wages will
go to the state budget, 40 percent to the local
government, and 10 percent to the county councils. Since
the Chamber of Deputies has approved a different version
of that law, a mediation commission will have to find a
formulation acceptable to both houses. In other news,
the largest miners' union on 26 August said that pending
negotiations with the government, it is revoking its
decision to call an indefinite strike MS

UKRAINIAN PEACE KEEPERS TO TRANSDNIESTER SECURITY ZONE.
The Joint Control Commission, which is observing the
truce in the security zone in the Transdniester, has
approved bringing 10 Ukrainian peace keepers to the
security zone, Infotag reported on 26 August. The
decision to bring the Ukrainian peacekeepers was taken
at the March summit in Odessa, but Chisinau and Tiraspol
both failed to approve the plan until now. MS

MOLDOVA DISCUSSES DOUBLE CITIZENSHIP. The Moldovan
Supreme Security Council, meeting on 26 August,
discussed the issue of double citizenship. According to
a press release by the presidential office,
parliamentary chairman Dumitru Diacov, Deputy Prime
Minister Nicolae Andronic, and Justice Minister Ion
Paduraru said the proliferation of the "double
citizenship phenomenon" was "abnormal" and that the
existing legislation must be amended to provide for loss
of Moldovan citizenship for those who do not renounce a
second citizenship "within six months." The Russian-
language media in Chisinau have lately warned against
the "tacit assimilation of Moldova by Romania" through
Moldovans' taking up Romanian citizenship, BASA-press
reported. MS

BULGARIAN PREMIER IN GREECE. Ivan Kostov, on a two-day
visit to Athens, on 26 August discussed with his Greek
counterpart, Kostas Simitis, nuclear safety and
bilateral relations, Reuters and AP reported. Kostov
handed Simitis a report on a nuclear safety program at
the controversial Kozloduy plant, which is to be
examined by the Greek Atomic Committee. MS

END NOTE

DIVIDED ON SECURITY

by Paul Goble

	Estonians, Latvians, and Lithuanians agree that
they cannot defend themselves and that no one is likely
to defend them, but they disagree profoundly about the
nature of the threat to their countries and about just
how useful various international groups are likely to be
in helping them deal with it.
	Both the points of agreement and those of
disagreement are likely to make it increasingly
difficult for the three Baltic governments to maintain a
common position on their efforts to join NATO and the EU
and for the West to treat them as a single bloc, rather
than as three very different countries.
	Earlier this summer, the Estonian Saar polling
company interviewed 1,000 adults in each of the three
Baltic countries to determine popular attitudes toward a
variety of security questions and to find out how people
in each think their governments should proceed.
	Commissioned by NATO and the Lithuanian Foreign
Ministry, the poll revealed a remarkable pattern of
agreement and disagreement along national lines.
	Huge majorities--76 percent of Estonians, 81
percent of Latvians, and 72 percent of Lithuanians--
believe that their countries would not be able to
effectively defend themselves in the event of a military
attack. And most also believe that the West would be
unlikely to help them in the event of such an attack.
	According to the poll, only 23 percent of
Estonians, 15 percent of Latvians, and 15 percent of
Lithuanians are confident that Western countries would
provide military assistance. Instead, small majorities
in all three believe that the West's assistance in such
circumstances would be limited to diplomatic activities.
	Such judgments about the willingness of the West to
help, however, apparently do not disturb most people in
these three countries. Indeed, the Saar poll found that
more than 95 percent of the residents in each country
were convinced that their state does not currently face
any real military threat from another country.
	But that is where the unanimity ends and the
differences begin. According to this poll, Estonians,
Latvians, and Lithuanians disagree on the nature of the
threats facing their countries, on whether they should
join NATO, and on what mix of international memberships
they believe would best meet their security needs.
	Estonians believe that the greatest threats to
their security come from abroad, but Latvians and, to a
lesser extent, Lithuanians believe that the greatest
security threats are domestic ones. Only 35 percent of
Estonians believe that they face a domestic security
threat, while 62 percent of Latvians and 45 percent of
Lithuanians hold that opinion.
	According to the Estonian director of the poll,
Andrus Saar, this pattern reflects what he called
Estonia's more balanced pattern of economic development,
one in which there is much less variation among sectors,
as compared with the situation in the other two
countries.
	The three nationalities also diverge, if somewhat
less dramatically, over the value of NATO membership for
their countries. A bare majority of Lithuanians--51
percent--support the idea of joining NATO, with only 25
percent opposed to that step. In Estonia, 43 percent
want to join the Western alliance, but 25 percent are
opposed. And in Latvia, only 37 percent support the idea
of membership, with 29 percent opposed.
	But perhaps most interesting are the differences
among the three peoples on the approaches they believe
would give them the greatest amount of security. Some 30
percent of Estonians believe that membership in both
NATO and the EU would provide the best guarantee, while
29 percent think that neutrality would be the best
stance.
	Among Latvians, 29 percent believe that neutrality
would be best, with 26 percent favoring membership in
both NATO and the EU, and smaller percentages backing
membership in only NATO or only the EU.
	Finally, 26 percent of Lithuanians believe NATO
membership would give their country the best chance for
security, with 23 percent backing neutrality and 23
percent backing membership in both the Western alliance
and the EU.
	Obviously, these numbers could quickly change if
the geopolitics of the region change or if national
leaders expand their own efforts to promote particular
security agendas.
	But the differences this poll reveals suggest that
the three countries are likely to move in increasingly
different directions and that the international
community, long accustomed to thinking of them as the
undifferentiated Balts, is going to have to respond to
that development.

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