Our main business is not to see what lies dimly at a distance, but to do what lies clearly at hand. - Thomas Carlyle
RFE/RL NEWSLINE

RFE/RL NEWSLINE Vol 2, No. 179, Part II, 16 September 1998


___________________________________________________________
RFE/RL NEWSLINE Vol 2, No. 179, Part II, 16 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 APPROVES LOANS TO UKRAINE

* ALBANIAN GUNMEN LEAVE DEMOCRATIC PARTY HEADQUARTERS

* SERBIAN OFFENSIVE MOVES NORTHWARD

End Note: ALBANIA PULLS BACK FROM THE BRINK?
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EAST-CENTRAL EUROPE

WORLD BANK APPROVES LOANS TO UKRAINE. The World Bank on 15
September approved two loans to Ukraine with a combined value
of $600 million, an RFE/RL correspondent in Washington
reported. The loans are to help Kyiv reform the country's
financial sector and spur industrial development. Approval of
the loans was delayed until after the Ukrainian government
came to an agreement with the IMF on a long-term reform plan.
That agreement was reached on 4 September. In other news,
Ukrainian banks criticized the government for ordering the
mandatory conversion of all short-term treasury bills into
long-term ones. PB

UKRAINIAN PREMIER DECREES PRICE CONTROLS. Valeriy
Pustovoytenko said on 15 September that the government has
issued decrees that regulate the prices of petroleum and
diesel fuel in an effort to stem rising consumer prices, dpa
reported. The hryvnya has lost about 30 percent of its value
in the last month, causing the prices of many goods to
increase. Some regions, including Crimea and Kharkiv, have
imposed price controls on consumer goods. PB

POLISH FOREIGN MINISTER MEETS WITH KUCHMA. Bronislaw Geremek
met with Ukrainian President Leonid Kuchma in Kyiv on 15
September to discuss economic cooperation and border issues,
AP reported. Upon arrival, Geremek announced that Poland will
begin tighter control of its border with Ukraine in an effort
to prevent the smuggling of weapons and drugs and to help
keep illegal immigrants out. Geremek also said Warsaw will do
its best to maintain visa-free travel for Ukrainians but
admitted that it is under pressure from the EU to adopt
tougher regulations against its Eastern neighbors. Geremek
said Poland's entry into NATO represented a "chance for
Ukraine." He added that Ukraine will always be Warsaw's
"partner of fundamental importance in the region." Geremek
also met with Premier Pustovoytenko and Foreign Minister
Borys Tarasyuk. PB

BELARUSIAN ECONOMY MINISTER UNHAPPY WITH TRADE DEPENDENCE ON
RUSSIA. Uladimir Shimov said it is unacceptable that Russia
accounts for 70 percent of Belarusian foreign trade. In an
interview published in the weekly "Belorusskaya gazeta" on 14
September, Shimov said that Belarusian exporters have
insufficiently developed relations in markets like Ukraine
and other Eastern European countries, as well as those in
Africa and Asia. Shimov said that Belarusian exports must be
more competitive. He said one way of achieving that is to
introduce a new means of calculating the prices of exports.
And he added that one positive aspect of having a financial
crisis is that it forces the state to "mobilize [its]
internal resources and reserves." PB

ESTONIAN MODERATES WANT TO FORM RIGHT-WING ELECTORAL BLOC.
The Estonian Moderates have sent a letter to three right-
leaning parties--the Reform Party, the Fatherland Union, and
the People's Party--proposing the formation of an electoral
bloc for next spring's general elections, ETA reported on 15
September. Toivo Jullinen, deputy chairman of the Moderates,
stressed that the parties would run separately in the
elections but would set up a bloc to guarantee that a ruling
coalition could be formed after the March ballot At present,
the bloc would have a total of 38 parliamentary mandates,
compared with 37 for the minority ruling coalition. JC

LATVIAN PEOPLE'S PARTY STRENGTHENS LEADS AHEAD OF ELECTIONS.
According to an opinion poll published earlier this week, the
center-right People's Party, led by former Prime Minister
Andris Skele, had 18.9 percent support last month, up from
15.9 percent in July, BNS and Reuters reported on 14
September. The right-leaning Fatherland and Freedom party,
the largest member of the ruling coalition, won 13.6 percent
of the vote, compared with 12.2 percent in July. In third
place was the centrist Latvia's Way, the second-largest
coalition partner, with 11.7 percent (10.1 percent in July).
Combined, the coalition parties would gain 30.1 percent of
the vote. Some 21 percent of the electorate remained
undecided ahead of the 3 October ballot. JC

U.S. DISAPPOINTED AT VILNIUS'S FAILURE TO BRING WAR CRIMINALS
TO JUSTICE. The U.S. State Department says it has expressed
"deep disappointment" to Lithuania over Vilnius's failure to
bring accused World War II criminal Aleksandras Lileikis, or
any other war criminals, to trial, an RFE/RL Washington
correspondent reported on 15 September. Citing ill-health,
the 91-year-old Lileikis failed to appear for his trial last
week (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 11 September 1998). The U.S.
statement said it has called on Lithuania to take whatever
steps are necessary to ensure that justice is rendered in
this and other important war crime cases dating from the Nazi
occupation. JC

EUROPEANS GIVE MIXED SIGNALS TO WARSAW. Karel van Miert, an
EU commissioner, met with members of the Sejm committee for
European integration on 15 September and encouraged them to
urgently adopt EU legislation against monopolies and unfair
competition, PAP reported. Van Miert said Poland has a long
way to go to meet EU standards on state subsidization of
industries. He particularly criticized state assistance to
Polish steel and shipbuilding enterprises. Van Miert urged
close examination of each government subsidy. But Portuguese
President Jorge Sampaio said at the start of a four-day visit
to Poland on 14 September that Poles should "work with
determination and pay no attention to remarks that you don't
meet all the EU requirements yet." PB

POLISH, RUSSIAN INTERIOR MINISTERS PLEDGE TO FIGHT ORGANIZED
CRIME. Janusz Tomaszewski and his Russian counterpart, Sergei
Stepashin, met in Moscow on 15 September and signed an
agreement that calls for a collaborative effort in fighting
organized crime, Polish Television reported. Beginning next
month, Polish and Russian police will launch a joint
operation against car theft and smugglers. Other cooperative
measures include curbing illegal immigration, ensuring safe
interstate travel, and creating a joint database on criminal
groups. PB

CZECH PRESIDENT ON U.S. VISIT. Before departing for the U.S.
for a five-day state visit, President Vaclav Havel told
journalists in Prague on 15 September that he regards
President Bill Clinton's invitation as a "reward for my
country," CTK reported. White House spokesman Michael McCurry
said the U.S. will pay tribute to Havel for his "personal
contributions to the advancement of democracy and human
rights." Talks are expected to focus on the Czech Republic's
accession to NATO, the formation of an international security
structure, and the struggle against terrorism. Havel is
meeting with Clinton at the White House on 16 September. He
is accompanied by Defense Minister Vladimir Vetchy, Foreign
Minister Jan Kavan, and Central Bank Governor Josef Tosovsky.
MS

SLOVAKS PROTEST MARKIZA TV DISMISSALS. Hundreds of protesters
on 15 September demonstrated against the decision of the new
management of Markiza TV to fire Director-General Pavol Rusko
and other members of the staff, including Rusko's wife. The
new management of the company, thought to have ties to
Vladimir Meciar's Movement for a Democratic Slovakia, said
the dismissals were not politically motivated, but it gave no
reasons for them, RFE/RL's Bratislava bureau reported. MS

HUNGARY BANS YUGOSLAV FLIGHTS. Hungary on 15 September joined
the EU ban on flights to and from Yugoslavia, Foreign
Ministry spokesman Gabor Horvath told MTI. In other news,
Peruvian President Alberto Fujimori ended a three-day visit
to Hungary during which he met with President Arpad Goncz,
Prime Minister Viktor Orban, and other officials. Fujimori
and Goncz signed bilateral cooperation agreements on
agriculture, tourism, and sports. MSZ

SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE

ALBANIAN GUNMEN LEAVE DEMOCRATIC PARTY HEADQUARTERS. Albanian
opposition leader Sali Berisha led a march from Democratic
Party headquarters in Tirana to Skanderbeg Square on 16
September. Earlier the same day, armed Democratic supporters
left their positions around that building but did not
surrender their arms (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 15 September
1998). The parliament the previous day had set a dawn
deadline for the armed demonstrators to hand in weapons or
face a police crackdown. Prime Minister Fatos Nano in a
televised address offered an amnesty to the gunmen, but his
spokesman told the BBC that the gunmen "will be shot" if they
reject the offer. After Nano's address, the Democrats
surrendered to the police two tanks that they had captured
during riots on 14 September. But they removed a heavy
machine gun and ammunition before handing over the vehicles.
FS

GOVERNMENT WANTS BERISHA INDICTED. The cabinet issued a
statement on 15 September charging that Berisha tried to
stage a coup d'etat the previous day. The statement added
that all those responsible for the violence will go on trial.
Prosecutor-General Arben Rakipi launched investigations on 15
September of several high-ranking Democratic Party officials.
Those under investigation include Berisha, former
Parliamentary President Pjeter Arbnori, and legislator Vili
Minarolli. The parliament is slated to vote on lifting their
legislative immunity on 16 September. Berisha told VOA's
Albanian Service that the charges are typical for a
"communist dictatorship" and that Albania now has "political
prisoners and political killings." In the same broadcast
Arbnori, a former political prisoner under communism,
compared the current accusations against him and Berisha to
his persecution under the communist regime. FS

NANO REFUSES TO QUIT. Nano told television viewers on 15
September that he will definitely not step down, as the
Democrats have demanded. Nano said "the freely elected
government does not accept ultimatums issued by an armed
group of terrorists." He added that any "resignation would be
a betrayal of the nation." But the same day, Finance Minister
Arben Malaj resigned, saying that he does not have enough
public support to continue in office. Meanwhile, the
government issued a statement announcing a 50-100 percent
increase in policemen's wages. The text also said that police
will receive a one-time payment ranging from $200 to $330 "to
increase their motivation." And the parliament has passed a
law allowing the Interior Ministry to call in military police
to preserve domestic peace. Some Socialist Party legislators
criticized the decision on the grounds that it recalls
Berisha's decision to call in the army during the 1997
unrest. FS

EU NAMES SPECIAL ENVOY TO ALBANIA. The office of the EU
Presidency, which is currently held by Austria, announced the
appointment in Vienna on 16 September of Herbert Grubmayr as
special envoy to Albania. The veteran diplomat's mission will
be to promote domestic peace and reconciliation. The previous
day, Italian Foreign Minister Lamberto Dini and his German
counterpart, Klaus Kinkel, sent a joint statement to
Austria's Wolfgang Schuessel proposing the deployment of an
international police force in Albania. The two ministers
added that the EU should earmark increased funds to promote
Albania's stability, which, they stressed, is also threatened
by the Kosova conflict. FS

SERBIAN OFFENSIVE MOVES NORTHWARD. Serbian army and
paramilitary police shelled 12 ethnic Albanian villages
northwest of Prishtina on 16 September, AP reported.
Observers noted that the assault marks the first time that
the Serbian forces have extended the fighting to that region.
PM

REFUGEES PACK QIREZ. Several hundred displaced persons
arrived in the village of Qirez, west of Prishtina, on 15
September following continuing Serbian assaults on the
civilian population in the Drenica region. Some 10,000-15,000
additional displaced persons have taken refuge in Qirez over
the past month, AP reported. A spokesman for the World Food
Program said that even under the best conditions, aid convoys
provide food for only a few days. A doctor added that basic
medicines are not available and that "at least 10 people died
in Qirez last week from treatable illnesses." Meanwhile in
Prishtina, Adem Demaci, who is the political spokesman for
the Kosova Liberation Army (UCK), said that the guerrillas
are "reorganizing" themselves despite the constant pressure
from Serbian attacks, RFE/RL's South Slavic Service reported.
PM

CHIRAC CALLS FOR CONTACT GROUP MEETING. French President
Jacques Chirac told his Russian counterpart, Boris Yeltsin,
in a telephone conversation on 15 September that France wants
the international Contact Group to meet in New York next week
to discuss the situation in Kosova. Chirac made the same
point in recent days in telephone conversations with U.S.
President Bill Clinton and German Chancellor Helmut Kohl. The
Contact Group consists of the U.S., U.K., France, Germany,
Italy, and Russia. PM

INDECISION ON KOSOVA CONTINUES. In Bonn, Defense Minister
Volker Ruehe said on 15 September that "if the attacks
against the civilian population [in Kosova] continue, then
the West's readiness will grow to use military force to stop
them in the course of next three to five weeks. No one has
the right to shoot at their own civilian population with
tanks and artillery," he added. And in Washington, an unnamed
senior administration official told the "New York Times" of
16 September that "the situation [in Kosova] is awful and
getting worse. If we don't want thousands of people to starve
to death this winter, the White House will need to make a
decision very quickly on whether to use firepower" to stop
the Serbian assaults. PM

U.S. CONGRESS WANTS MILOSEVIC INDICTED. The House of
Representatives passed a non-binding resolution on 15
September urging the Hague-based war crimes tribunal to take
action against Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic on
charges of "war crimes, crimes against humanity, and
genocide," RFE/RL's South Slavic Service reported. On 18
July, the Senate passed a similar resolution saying that
Milosevic is the man most responsible for the wars on the
territory of the former Yugoslavia. PM

OSCE POSTPONES RELEASING BOSNIAN ELECTION RESULTS. Officials
of the OSCE, which supervised the 12-13 September general
elections in Bosnia, said in Sarajevo on 15 September that
the OSCE will not release any vote tallies until the final
results are available next week. OSCE representatives had
said earlier that they would publish preliminary results on
15 September. Unnamed Western diplomats told AP that the
reason for the delay is that hard-line nationalist candidates
among the Serbs and Croats, in particular, received more
votes that most observers had expected. The BBC's Serbian
Service reported on 16 September that nationalist candidate
Nikola Poplasen has a strong lead over moderate Biljana
Plavsic in the contest for the presidency of the Republika
Srpska. PM

WESTENDORP EXTENDS DEADLINE ON APARTMENTS. A spokesman for
the international community's Carlos Westendorp said in
Sarajevo on 15 September that Westendorp has extended by six
months until 4 April the deadline for those who fled their
apartments in the mainly Muslim and Croatian federation to
reclaim their homes. Muslim officials charged that Westendorp
has not been equally tough in protecting Muslim property
rights on Serbian-held territory, "Oslobodjenje" reported.
Elsewhere in Sarajevo, spokesmen for the UN-supervised
international police force demanded that Bosnian Serb
authorities suspend Ljubisa Savic "Mauzer" as head of the
Republika Srpska's special police forces. The spokesmen
charged that Savic is responsible for the recent maltreatment
in police custody of seven men, who had been arrested during
the investigation of the murder of a top moderate police
official (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 10 August 1998). PM

MOODY'S LOWERS CREDIT RATING FOR ROMANIA. The international
credit agency Moody's has lowered Romania's credit rating
owing to the country's pressing foreign credit needs and the
danger of a political crisis, RFE/RL's Bucharest bureau
reported. Romania's rating on Eurobonds was lowered from Ba3
to B1, while its rating on hard currency bank deposits
dropped from B1 to B2. In other news, Italian Defense
Minister Beniamino Andreatta on 15 September met with his
Romanian counterpart, Victor Babiuc, Prime Minister Radu
Vasile, Foreign Minister Andrei Plesu, and President Emil
Constantinescu. Andreatta repeated his country's support for
Romania's NATO bid and said he hopes new Russian Prime
Minister Yevgenii Primakov understands that his opposition to
NATO's enlargement "cannot be the equivalent of a new
doctrine of limited sovereignty for southeastern Europe." MS

BELL HELICOPTERS TEXTRON AGREES TO PARTIAL PAYMENT IN
ROMANIAN CURRENCY. At a meeting with Prime Minister Radu
Vasile on 15 September, Fred Hubert, deputy chairman of the
Bell Helicopters Textron board, agreed that the cost of
producing 96 helicopters under license in Romania will be
partly covered in Romanian currency. According to the
compromise, Romania will have to pay in hard currency only
for imported equipment and spare parts. Vasile said this
would substantially reduce the burden of the $1.4 billion
deal, under which Bell Helicopters Textron is also to acquire
a majority stake in the Gimbav aerospace factory. They also
agreed that several other Romanian enterprises will be
involved in the production of Cobra helicopters that are to
be named AH-1 RO-Dracula. MS

MOLDOVAN COMMUNISTS MOVE NO-CONFIDENCE RESOLUTION. The Party
of Moldovan Communists on 15 September submitted a no-
confidence resolution in Ion Ciubuc's cabinet. In line with
house regulations, the move must be debated within three days
after its submission, Reuters reported. The Communists say
the government's decision to cut social spending in order to
reduce the budget deficit is unconstitutional. The draft
resolution also says recently approved cabinet measures to
stabilize the economy "are aimed at usurping state power and
at limiting the people's national sovereignty." MS

BULGARIAN FOREIGN MINISTER CANCELS TIRANA VISIT. Nadezhda
Mihailova on 15 September told BTA that she has "indefinitely
postponed" a scheduled visit to Tirana. She said that Sofia
is "particularly worried by the situation in Albania" and
"categorically condemns the killing of opposition leader Azem
Hadjari." And she noted that Bulgaria hopes the Albanian
government will "take measures to find and punish the killers
as well as the masterminds of this crime." Prime Minister
Ivan Kostov on 15 September warned that continued violence in
Albania could result in civil war and threaten regional
stability, AP reported. He also said that the Albanian crisis
"limits the opportunities for peace" in Kosova. MS

END NOTE

ALBANIA PULLS BACK FROM THE BRINK?

by Fabian Schmidt

	When unrest broke out in Tirana on 13 September, many
observers feared that Albania was about to face a repetition
of the violence and anarchy that took hold of the country in
1997 after the collapse of pyramid investment schemes. But
two days later, both major political parties appeared willing
to avoid violence.
	As in March 1997, civilians seized tanks and roamed the
streets, firing into the air with Kalashnikov machine guns
and plundering shops. The clashes erupted during the funeral
of controversial Democratic Party legislator and former anti-
communist student movement leader Azem Hajdari, who was
killed on 12 September by unidentified gunmen outside the
party headquarters in Tirana. The opposition charged Prime
Minister Fatos Nano with having organized the killing, an
allegation Nano vehemently denied. Within a few hours,
opposition protesters managed to seize the prime minister's
offices, the state radio and television building, and the
parliament building. At least three people were killed in
clashes with police by the end of the day.
	But in contrast to last year, special police forces were
able to restore order quickly. Most protesters armed and
otherwise, dispersed when police moved in, and only a small
group of opposition supporters took shelter at the Democratic
Party headquarters. They brought with them two tanks they had
captured, and the next morning they entered into a stand-off
with police . Elsewhere, normal life had returned to the city
and shops opened again.
	Moreover, the riots did not spread throughout the
country. Observers noted that the northern city of Shkodra,
which is a strong base of support for the Democrats, remained
calm. Persistent but unconfirmed rumors from Shkodra had
suggested that a shadowy opposition body calling itself the
Albanian Liberation Army was allegedly preparing to bring
down the current Socialist-dominated government. Such
allegations were given credence by an incident on 20 January,
when a group of armed men attacked and seized the local
police station there. For one day, the group gained control
over the city. On 21 January, special police forces entered
the city and reestablished order.
	But the latest Tirana riots did not see the disorder
spilling over to areas outside the capital. The only
exception was the town of Kavaja--a Democratic Party
stronghold near Tirana--where some opposition supporters
built barricades on the country's main north-south road and
captured the local police station the day after Hajdari's
murder.
	The short time in which the government brought the
revolt under control indicates that the government has
managed to sufficiently rebuild its police forces since last
year's anarchy to cope with major challenges. (Still, the
security forces are not yet coordinated enough to react
quickly enough and to prevent such riots in the first place.)
More important, the quick end to the revolt shows that there
is no willingness in the population as a whole to support the
violent means of small groups wanting to bring down a
democratically elected government.
	And even within the Democratic Party--many of whose
supporters have yet to explicitly renounce political
violence--the tolerance for undemocratic political means
seems to be declining. Party leader Sali Berisha used state
television after it was captured by his supporters to
broadcast a call to all Albanians to refrain from using
violence, a move that probably made it easier for police to
restore order.
	The following day, Berisha strongly rejected accusations
from Socialist Party and government officials that he had
planned to stage a coup d'etat. Instead, he said, he remained
committed to force the government to resign by means of
peaceful protests. Despite a police ban and high tensions
following the previous day's events, the Democrats staged a
peaceful protest demonstration on 15 September. The police
presence in the city was strong, but policemen remained in
the background, apparently trying to avoid an open
confrontation.
	Even though the government has shown that it has been
able to survive the strongest challenge to its authority to
date, the deeply rooted political tensions remain. Nano is
unlikely to give in to the opposition demand that he step
down, which many would see as a sign of weakness. Indeed, his
position has been not weakened but rather strengthened by the
violent behavior of some opposition protesters. He may
nonetheless come under pressure to change some of his
government ministers. But such changes would be only
cosmetic.
	Many citizens may have come to perceive the Democrats as
being bent on seizing power through violence. Berisha and his
colleagues may now try to counteract this image in word and
deed. As to the government, it will likely seek to follow up
its success in maintaining control of Tirana's streets by
ensuring that an investigation into the killing of Hajdari is
launched and the killers arrested. That would show that the
rule of law indeed functions in Albania and would give the
lie to charges that the government was behind the murder.

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