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RFE/RL NEWSLINE

RFE/RL NEWSLINE Vol. 2, No. 173 Part II, 8 September 1998


________________________________________________________
RFE/RL NEWSLINE Vol. 2, No. 173 Part II, 8 September 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

* WORLD BANK TO CONSIDER $900 MILLION LOAN TO UKRAINE

* BELARUS EXPERIENCES FOOD SHORTAGES, PRICE HIKES

* MILOSEVIC REMAINS DEFIANT
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EAST-CENTRAL EUROPE

WORLD BANK TO CONSIDER $900 MILLION LOAN TO UKRAINE. The
World Bank is planning to consider next week a $900
million loan to finance four projects in Ukraine's
farming and coal sectors, Interfax and dpa reported on 7
September. Paul Siegelbaum, World Bank director for
Ukraine and Belarus, said in Kyiv that the World Bank's
assistance to Ukraine is now possible again because of
the IMF's approval of a $2.2 billion loan. Siegelbaum
added that the economic situation in Ukraine is better
that in neighboring Russia because Ukraine has fewer
debts and is less vulnerable to the worldwide drop in
oil prices. He also noted that the Ukrainian government
has taken appropriate steps to solve its economic
problems. JM

UKRAINIAN CENTRAL BANK RESTRICTS HARD CURRENCY TRADING.
National Bank Chairman Viktor Yushchenko said on 7
September that the central bank has limited hard
currency trading to the Ukrainian Interbank Currency
Exchange, Ukrainian Television reported. Exporters are
now obliged to sell 75 percent of their hard-currency
earnings on the exchange; the remaining 25 percent is to
be paid into their accounts. The difference between the
official exchange rate of the hryvnya and that used in
cash operations with hard currency cannot exceed 5
percent. According to Yushchenko, these measures are
aimed at "invigorating the circulation of hard currency"
in Ukraine. JM

BELARUS EXPERIENCES FOOD SHORTAGES, PRICE HIKES. Belarus
is witnessing a run on foodstuffs and manufactured goods
as the Belarusian ruble continues to lose value against
the dollar amid the ongoing financial crisis in Russia
(see "RFE/RL Newsline," 7 September 1998), Belapan
reported on 7 September. Many stores report shortages of
food staples such as sugar, flour, meal, and cooking
oil. The prices of foodstuffs in street trade have
increased by 10-20 percent compared with the previous
week. RFE/RL's Belarusian Service reported on 7
September that there is a also a run on banks in
Belarus, as Belarusians clamor to withdraw their
savings. JM

BELARUSIAN STATE DAILIES TO APPEAR TWO, THREE TIMES A
WEEK. Beginning this week, most government-sponsored
daily newspapers will be cut back to two or three
editions a week, Belapan reported on 7 September. "This
is a forced and temporary measure," the agency quoted
Belarusian Deputy Prime Minister Uladzimir Zamyatalin as
saying. According to Zamyatalin, the cutback is caused
by an increase in the price of imported newsprint from
Russia. Zamyatalin said Russia "does not guarantee the
fulfillment of previously adopted agreements" in the
current economic situation. JM

ESTONIAN FARMERS UNION WANT 1998 DECLARED DISASTER YEAR.
Meeting with Prime Minister Mart Siimann on 7 September,
representatives of the Farmers' Central Union requested
that 1998 be declared a disaster year for agriculture,
ETA reported. In many areas, crops have been destroyed
and fields are under water, following heavy rainfalls
this year. Some farmers, however, are opposed to
declaring a disaster situation, saying that owing to the
recent dry weather, they have managed to save a
considerable part of their crops. Siimann intends to
postpone making a decision until next month. JC

WELL-KNOWN ESTONIAN DIPLOMAT DIES AGED 93. Ernst Jaakson
died in a New York hospital on 4 September at the age of
93. For several decades, Jaakson served as Estonia's
main diplomatic representative in the U.S. During the
Soviet occupation of Estonia, he published numerous
appeals in the U.S. press for the international
community to pressure the Soviet Union to withdraw its
forces from the Baltic States. He is to be buried in the
Kensico cemetery in New York on 14 September. JC

LITHUANIA FORMS SOVIET, NAZI WAR CRIMES COMMISSION.
Lithuanian President Valdas Adamkus has officially
established an international commission to examine war
crimes committed during the Nazi and Soviet occupations
of Lithuania. Presidential adviser Julius Shmulkshtis
told Reuters on 7 September that the commission's main
function is "to investigate the World War Two period and
the immediate aftermath in order to come up with answers
to various questions concerning Jewish and Lithuanian
genocide." The commission will be headed by
parliamentary deputy Emanuelis Zingeris. Earlier this
year, the presidents of Lithuania, Latvia, and Estonia
agreed to set up commissions in their countries to
investigate the events of 1939-1991, especially during
and after World War II. JC

LANDSBERGIS CALLS FOR FOOD AID TO KALININGRAD.
Lithuanian parliamentary chairman Vytautas Landsbergis
has called on the international community to consider
sending humanitarian aid to Kaliningrad Oblast in the
event of food shortages there as a result of the
financial crisis in Russia, BNS and AP reported.
Landsbergis was responding to a public statement by
Russian Baltic Navy commanders that the force has enough
food only for the next 40 days. He commented that
"pending famine [within] the Russian navy should raise
international concern." To facilitate sending aid to the
Russian exclave, Landsbergis urged that "immediate
preparations and coordination actions--first of all with
Poland and the European Union--should be taken." JC

AUSTRIAN PRESIDENT SAYS POLAND 'MOST IMPORTANT' EU
CANDIDATE. Austrian President Thomas Klestil said in
Warsaw on 7 September that Poland is the biggest and
"strategically most important" country wanting to join
the EU, PAP reported. He added that EU expansion is the
focus of Austria's current chairmanship of the EU.
Polish and Austrian labor ministers signed an agreement
on pensions and other allowances. That accord may
benefit the estimated 35,000 Polish immigrants residing
in Austria. It also applies to those Poles who were sent
to forced labor in Austria during World War II. JM

CANADA OFFERS TO HELP POLAND TAKE FIRST STEPS IN NATO.
Canadian Defense Minister Arthur Eggleton on 7 September
offered Canada's assistance to Poland in the initial
period of its NATO membership, PAP and Reuters reported.
Eggleton, who was in Warsaw, said Canada's five-year
program of peacekeeping, language, and communications
training will also be offered to Hungary and the Czech
Republic. So far, the three NATO candidates have
received substantial asssistance under the Partnership
for Peace program; that aid, however, will cease to be
available to them when they join NATO in April 1999.
"The Canadian initiative shows that we can count on the
further assistance we so obviously need," Reuters quoted
Polish Defense Minister Janusz Onyszkiewicz as saying.
JM

ZEMAN PLANS TO LEAVE POLITICS IN 2002. Prime Minister
Milos Zeman told the daily "Pravo" on 7 September that
he intends to leave politics after completing his term
as premier in 2002. In a report to his Social Democratic
Party that was leaked to the media, Zeman had said that
" a politician should decide to leave right when he has
fulfilled the aims he has set." Consequently, he added,
"I have decided to leave politics in four years at the
latest." MS

SLOVAK OPPOSITION PLANS BROAD COALITION AFTER ELECTIONS.
Mikulas Dzurinda, leader of the Slovak Democratic
Coalition (SDK), says he expects his party to win 25-27
percent of the vote in this month's parliamentary
elections and "to create a broad coalition with all
[other] opposition parties" to make possible a
"constitutional majority" against Prime Minister
Vladimir Meciar and his allies, AP reported on 7
September. Political observers in Bratislava say that
even if the SDK manages to win a quarter of the vote,
setting up a coalition will be difficult owing to
different views within opposition groups. The Hungarian
Coalition Party focuses primarily on minority issues,
while some groups within the Party of the Democratic
Left oppose Dzurinda's economic policies and do not rule
out cooperation with Meciar. The new Civic Understanding
Party is not among those parties whom Dzurinda envisages
will be included in the new ruling coalition. MS

SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE

MILOSEVIC REMAINS DEFIANT. Yugoslav President Slobodan
Milosevic said after a meeting with U.S. officials on 7
September that Serbian forces will continue battling
ethnic Albanian forces in Kosova, AP reported. In a
statement released after talks with Assistant Secretary
of State John Shattuck and former Senator Bob Dole,
Milosevic said "terrorism in Kosova will be suppressed
and eliminated." Shattuck and Dole had called for
Serbian forces to pull back so that civilians could
return to their homes. Shattuck said he will monitor
closely Milosevic's promise to allow Red Cross officials
to visit detained ethnic Albanians accused of being
members of the Kosova Liberation Army (UCK). Shattuck
said that Milosevic realizes he "has a very serious
problem in Kosova" but "disagrees on the dimension of
the problem." Dole warned that if Milosevic allows a
"humanitarian catastrophe" to occur in Kosova, "the
repercussions will be dramatic." PB

MANY DETAINED ETHNIC ALBANIANS RELEASED. Serbian
security forces released many of the some 450 ethnic
Albanian men recently detained on suspicion of being
involved in the UCK, AP reported on 8 September. Some of
those released said they were beaten and not allowed to
eat or drink for 24 hours. They added that they were
interrogated and accused of being terrorists. Western
officials estimate that at least 50,000 Kosovars are
still living in the hills and forests after being driven
out of their homes. PB

SOLANA UPBEAT ON KOSOVA ACCORD. NATO Secretary-General
Javier Solana said on 7 September that a proposed
interim accord between Belgrade and Kosovar Albanian
leader Ibrahim Rugova is a "good chance to start
negotiations," AFP reported. Speaking in Brussels,
Solana said that military intervention in Kosova is
currently not being considered. He added that it is not
yet clear if the accord--dubbed "Autonomy Plus"--has
sufficient support from Belgrade and among ethnic
Albanians. PB

REFUGEES IN ALBANIA TO BE MOVED SOUTH. Albanian Deputy
Prime Minister Bashkim Fino said on 7 September that the
government will move thousands of Kosovar refugees from
the north to better-equipped areas in the south before
the onset of winter, Reuters reported. Fino said the
government is "very worried" about providing for the
some 15,000 refugees, the majority of whom are in the
Tropoje district, which is Albania's poorest. Fino said
3,000 to 5,000 refugees will be moved to Diber and
Shkoder and that more than $1 million will be spent to
improve the infrastructure in Tropoje for those
remaining. Small groups of 20 to 30 refugees continue to
flee Kosova for Albania each day. PB

ALBANIAN MINISTER URGES POLITICAL CALM TO HELP ECONOMY.
Albanian Finance Minister Arben Malaj called for a truce
between the government and opposition because political
infighting could undermine modest economic gains,
Reuters reported on 6 September. Malaj said the
macroeconomic outlook for the country has improved in
the first seven months, compared with last year's
disastrous economic plunge. GDP, which shrank 7 percent
in 1997, was expected to grow by 10 percent this year,
he added. Finances, he continued, should "not feel the
consequences of artificial political tension." PB

OSCE STANDS FIRM ON CANDIDATE BAN. The OSCE said on 7
September that it will not change its decision to ban
Bosnian Croat candidates from participating in the 12-13
September elections (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 7 September
1998), Reuters reported. Nicole Szulc, an OSCE
spokeswoman, dismissed a suggestion made by Croatian
President Franjo Tudjman that the decision to ban the
politicians will affect the peace process in Bosnia. The
OSCE has asked the leadership of the Serbian Radical
Party to ban the party's head, Vojislav Seselj (who is
also a Serbian deputy premier), from participating in
any election rallies because of his statements that all
Serbian lands should be united. OSCE mission chief
Robert Barry said such a statement violates the Dayton
accords. In other news, posters of leading war crimes
suspect Radovan Karadzic appeared in the Serbian
stronghold of Pale on 7 September. He has been banned
from attending all political events, and posters
depicting him are also prohibited. PB

REPUBLIKA SRPSKA PRESIDENT COMPARES RIVAL TO HITLER.
Biljana Plavsic said during a campaign rally in Brcko
that Momcilo Krajisnik, the Serbian member of the
Bosnian presidency, committed numerous crimes and that
she "would replace Adolf Hitler's figure at Madame
Tussaud's [wax museum in London] with Krajisnik's," SRNA
reported on 7 September. Republika Srpska Premier
Milorad Dodik said at the same rally that people should
vote for the Sloga [Accord] coalition because it is
respected internationally. Dodik added that 1.3 million
German marks will be used this week to repair the water
system in Brcko and that some 200 plots of land will be
made available to Serbs who want to stay in Brcko
permanently. PB

SLOVENIAN PRESIDENT MEETS WITH BOSNIAN PRESIDENCY
MEMBERS. Milan Kucan met with Alija Izetbegovic, the
chairman of the Bosnian presidency, and Kresimir Zubak,
the Croat member of the presidency on 7 September during
a one-day visit to Sarajevo, Bosnian Radio reported.
After inaugurating a pharmaceutical plant near Sarajevo
built with Slovenian aid, Kucan told reporters that
Slovenia considers Bosnia-Herzegovina to be a economic
and political partner. He said Ljubljana supports the
integrity of Bosnia and that Serbs, Croats, and Muslims
must find "a formula ... by which to live together." PB

CROATIAN PRESIDENT MEETS WITH U.S. OFFICIAL. U.S.
Ambassador to Croatia William Dale met with Franjo
Tudjman on 7 September after the State Department
criticized Zagreb for supporting hard-line Bosnian
Croats in the Bosnian elections, AP reported. A
statement released by the president's office said the
two had agreed to "avoid unwise decisions that could
lead to the deterioration of the situation in Bosnia and
harm the elections there." The State Department said in
Washington the same day that it is "extremely concerned"
by the actions of the Bosnian branch of Tudjman's ruling
party. PB

BUCHAREST TRIBUNAL APPROVES PARTY MERGERS. The Bucharest
Municipal Tribunal on 7 September approved the merger of
the New Romania Party and the Liberal Christian Party
into the Democratic Agrarian Party. It also approved the
new name of the formation, the Romanian National Party
(PNR). National Peasant Party Christian Democratic
deputy chairman Ion Ratiu, one of whose ancestors
founded a PNR in Transylvania last century, has
contested the use of that name. His appeal was initially
supported by the tribunal but was later overruled by the
Bucharest Court of Appeals in July. Ratiu said he is
prepared to fight "right up to the International Court
of Justice in the Hague." The Municipal Tribunal also
approved the merger of the Liberal Party into the
National Liberal Party. Former Liberal Party leader
Nicolae Cerveni is appealing that decision, claiming his
wing is the "genuine" Liberal Party. MS

MOLDOVAN NATIONAL BANK CLAMPS DOWN ON EXCHANGE OFFICES.
The National Bank has revoked the licenses of 27
currency exchange offices that it says contributed to
the recent panic over the exchange rate. It also
narrowed the margin between buying and selling rates
from 10 to 1.5 percent, National Bank deputy chairwoman
Veronica Bacalu told journalists on 7 September. She
described the offices whose licenses were withdrawn as
"fortune-seekers". Deputy Prime Minster Ion Sturdza
accused the offices of seeking to "undermine the
stability of the national currency." The exchange rate
for the leu on 6 September was 4.85-5.00 to $1, while
one day earlier some exchange offices were trading at 7
lei to the dollar, Infotag reported. MS

BULGARIAN TURKISH MINORITY PROTESTS REMOVAL OF
COMMEMORATION INSCRIPTIONS... Ahmed Dogan, leader of the
ethnic Turkish Movement for Rights and Freedom (DPS),
has protested the removal of three commemorative plaques
from a fountain in the village of Trunak, BTA reported
on 5 September. The inscriptions, which were removed on
the orders of Burgas district prosecutor Emil Kristov,
were in memory of three Turks who were executed in 1988
for their alleged involvement in a series of bombings
that killed eight people in 1984-1985. Dogan told a
rally attended by some 10,000 Turks that the order to
dismantle the inscriptions was an "act of vandalism"
that displayed the incumbent government's "barbaric
attitude" to the democratic system. He said there was
"no compelling evidence" that the executed men had been
involved in terrorist acts. MS

...AS BULGARIAN PREMIER STRESSES NEED TO INTEGRATE
MINORITIES. Addressing a forum of the ruling Union of
Democratic Forces (SDS) in Pamporovo, southern Bulgaria,
on 6 September, Prime Minster Ivan Kostov said the SDS
and local government authorities must give priority to
the integration of national minorities into Bulgarian
society. He said the Turkish minority was "alienated"
mainly owing to the policies pursued by the DPS, which
are "past-oriented" and based on "symbols that divide
Bulgarian society." Deputy Premier Evgeni Bakardzhiev
told the forum that the Turkish minority "holds anti-
communist views" and "massive efforts are being made" to
stop members of that minority from supporting the SDS.
Bakardzhiev said he was "surprised" by the timing of the
Burgas prosecutor's decision to remove the commemorative
plaques, which coincides with SDS forums on minorities
that took place in both Pamporovo and Silistra. He added
that "history will show if those people were terrorists
or heroes." MS

BULGARIAN JUDGE TO ISSUE WARRANT FOR MARKOV'S ALLEGED
MURDERER. A Bulgarian judge investigating the 1978
murder of dissident Georgi Markov has said he will issue
an international warrant for the arrest of Francesco
Gulino, a Dane of Italian origin who used to work as a
Bulgarian agent. Gulino was recruited as an agent after
being arrested in 1972 by the communist authorities for
drug smuggling, AFP reported. Markov, who worked for the
BBC and RFE/RL during the 1970s, died after an unknown
man fired a poisoned pellet from an umbrella into his
leg in central London. MS

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