The business of art lies just in this--to make that understood and felt which, in the form of an argument, might be incomprehensible and inaccessible. - Leo Tolstoy
RFE/RL NEWSLINE

RFE/RL NEWSLINE Vol 2, No. 182, Part II, 21 September 1998


___________________________________________________________
RFE/RL NEWSLINE Vol 2, No. 182, Part II, 21 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

* UKRAINIAN PARLIAMENT ASKS KUCHMA TO ABOLISH BUDGET CUTS

* EUROPEAN OFFICIALS BLAME BERISHA FOR CRISIS

* HUMAN RIGHTS ENVOY CALLS FOR END TO SERBIAN ATTACKS IN
KOSOVA
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REGIONAL AFFAIRS

IRAN FAVORS CLOSER TIES WITH CIS. A spokesman for the Iranian
Embassy in Moscow told Interfax on 18 September that Tehran
has "sought ways to expand former areas of cooperation" with
CIS states ever since that body was set up. Speaking in Minsk
on 15 September at the second session of the inter-state
commission to discuss CIS reform, CIS Executive Secretary
Boris Berezovskii argued that there is huge unexplored
potential for expanding relations with Iran. Berezovskii
reasoned that Iran falls within the orbit of interests of
almost all CIS states and that it would therefore be logical
to develop cooperation with Iran within the framework of the
CIS, according to "Vremya-MN" on 17 September. LF

EAST-CENTRAL EUROPE

UKRAINIAN PARLIAMENT ASKS KUCHMA TO ABOLISH BUDGET CUTS. The
Ukrainian Supreme Council on 18 September voted by 259 to 28
in favor of a non-binding resolution asking President Leonid
Kuchma to annul a decree that introduced spending cuts in the
1998 budget, AP reported. Kuchma's decree was issued in
August to meet IMF requirements for granting a $2.2 billion
loan to Ukraine. It slashed budget expenditures by 20
percent, bringing the budget deficit down from 3.3 to 2.5
percent of GDP. If Kuchma does not rescind the decree, the
parliament threatens to consider whether he exceeded his
presidential powers. The parliamentary resolution testifies
to the recent increase in tensions between the legislature
and the government. Earlier last week, the Supreme Council
overrode Kuchma's veto on its law banning an increase in
payments for public utilities and transportation. JM

LUKASHENKA AWARDS CARS FOR TOP HARVEST PERFORMANCE...
Belarusian President Alyaksandr Lukashenka has awarded new
Lada cars to the country's 12 most successful harvest-combine
operators and new official cars to six collective farm
managers and six regional leaders in the town of Nyasvizh, AP
reported. Some 10,000 people gathered in Nyasvizh on 19
September to celebrate the end of the summer harvest. "You
saved the country. You secured its security, at a minimum,
for the next two to three years," AP quoted him as saying to
the prize winners. Lukashenka added that in view of the
economic difficulties suffered by other countries, Belarus
appears to have chosen "the most optimal course of social and
economic policies." Lukashenka repeated his pledge to help
crisis-stricken Russia, despite the fact that Belarus has
harvested only 5 million tons of grain, instead of the
planned 6 million tons. JM

...SAYS HE SHARES VIEWS WITH PRIMAKOV. Lukashenka told
journalists at Nyasvizh that he and Russian Prime Minister
Yevgenii Primakov have shared views "on many issues" in the
past and are likely to continue to share them, Interfax
reported on 19 September. He added that Primakov was a
staunch supporter of the plan for Russian-Belarusian
unification when it was ready for implementation two years
ago. According to Lukashenka, Primakov "was nearly removed
from the government" for his pro-unification stance. He
warned that those opposed to the union are taking all
possible steps to limit Primakov's influence. JM

ANTANOVICH SUGGESTS RETURN OF POLISH AMBASSADOR TO DRAZDY...
Belarusian Foreign Minister Ivan Antanovich told Polish Radio
on 18 September that Polish Ambassador Marian Malyszkiewicz
will be able to return to his residence once maintenance work
at the Drazdy residential compound is completed. The entire
compound is now divided into two sections: Drazdy 1, which
includes the residences of President Lukashenka and the
ambassadors of France, Germany, and the U.S., and Drazdy 2,
in which the Polish ambassador's residence is located. JM

...SHOWS SURPRISE OVER VISIT BY POLISH PARLIAMENTARY
DEPUTIES. Antanovich also said he is astonished that an
official delegation of the Polish parliament had visited
Minsk without notifying the Belarusian government in advance,
Polish Radio reported. That visit ended on 18 September. "We
are offended by the fact that a high-level delegation from
Poland is in our country behind the back of the republic's
government, apparently covertly," he commented. The radio
station reported that the Polish delegation met with
representatives of the Polish minority and local authorities
but avoided meeting with the parliamentary National
Minorities Commission, which is not recognized by the West.
JM

ESTONIA'S SIIMANN RE-ELECTED AS HEAD OF COALITION PARTY. The
ruling Coalition Party has re-elected Prime Minister Mart
Siimann as its chairman, ETA reported. Addressing delegates
to a party congress on 20 September, Siimann said the
Coalition Party will have the best chance of success at the
March 1999 elections if it continues its electoral alliance
with the Rural Union. He asked the party to authorize him to
hold talks on continuing cooperation with the rural parties
and on seeking to have the Progressive Party join the
electoral alliance. Siimann predicted that if the Coalition
Party runs alone in the elections, it will garner at best 10-
12 seats, down from 17 at present. Such a result, he
continued, would mean the Coalition Party could be a junior
partner in a coalition government. "But it is more likely
that we would be left on the bench as punishment for ruling
for four years, he commented. JC

LATVIAN PRESIDENT TO DECIDE ON ANNOUNCING PENSION LAW
AMENDMENTS. Guntis Ulmanis must decide this week whether to
sign amendments to the state pension law that were recently
passed by the parliament, BNS reported. Welfare Minister
Vladimirs Makarovs submitted his resignation on 17 September
over the amendments, which he described as "unfeasible" (see
"RFE/RL Newsline," 18 September 1998). Together with Prime
Minister Guntars Krasts and officials from the Pensioners'
Federation, Makarovs is to ask Ulmanis not to sign the
amendments. JC

LITHUANIA, GAZPROM DISCUSS CONSTRUCTING GAS PIPELINE. The
Lithuanian government and the Russian gas monopoly Gazprom
are holding talks on constructing a new natural gas pipeline
through Lithuania to Kaliningrad Oblast, Bloomberg reported
on 21 September. Lithuanian Economy Minister Vincas Babilius
is quoted as saying that Vilnius plans to build the pipeline
and wants Gazprom to guarantee gas deliveries. Gazprom plans
to increase annual gas supplies to the oblast to 2.5 billion
cubic meters by 2005 and 3 billion cubic meters by 2010. JC

WALESA SET TO MAKE COMEBACK? Former Polish President Lech
Walesa has been elected chairman of the Christian Democracy
of the Third Polish Republic, a right-wing party that he
founded a year ago to draw on support from those who are
reluctant to vote. "More than 50 percent of the people do not
take part in elections. I want to fill this gap and give
people the opportunity of voting for the Right," PAP quoted
him as saying at the party congress in Warsaw on 18
September. The platform of Walesa's party calls for "Europe
as a fatherland of nations" and backs freedom, justice, and
solidarity, as well as turning the Polish Armed Forces into a
professional army. The party's first challenge will be the
local elections on 11 October. Walesa told the congress that
he will consider running for president in 2000 if no one else
appears capable of beating ex-communist Aleksander
Kwasniewski. JM

POLAND REFUSES TO LAUNCH INVESTIGATION INTO RUSSIAN POWS.
Polish Justice Minister and Prosecutor-General Hanna Suchocka
has refused to start an investigation into the death of
Russian prisoners in Poland's prisoner camps during the
Polish-Bolshevik war of 1919-21, Polish Radio reported on 18
September. The investigation was requested by Russian
Prosecutor-General Yurii Chaika, who maintained that Poles
murdered more than 80,000 Russians in what he described as
concentration camps. According to Suchocka, the case has been
adequately clarified earlier by copies of documents Poland
has handed over to Russia. She said that a maximum of18,000
Russian prisoners died in Polish camps primarily because of
the "harsh circumstances in the country, exhausted by war and
suffering from hunger and epidemics. But it was not as a
result of a special action undertaken by the Polish
authorities." JM

HAVEL SAYS BORDER WITH SLOVAKIA MUST NOT BE 'CIVILIZATION
BARRIER.' President Vaclav Havel on 18 September told
journalists in Washington that his country's border with
Slovakia must not be turned into a "civilization barrier" and
that the Czech Republic wants Slovakia to be a member of the
"same structures and organizations" that Prague is about to
join, CTK reported. He said he would like Slovakia to respect
the values of the "civilized Western world" but
"unfortunately, there are many reasons for concern." Havel
expressed the hope that the Slovak elections at the end of
September will produce a result that "would perhaps make us
feel less worried." Havel returned to Prague on 19 September.
MS

CZECH PREMIER MEETS SLOVAK OPPOSITION LEADER. Milos Zeman met
with Peter Weiss, leader of the Slovak opposition Party of
the Democratic Left, in Prague on 18 September, CTK reported.
Zeman said after the meeting that he invited Weiss to Prague
in "a gesture of pre-election solidarity" that must not be
interpreted as "meddling in other countries' affairs." Zeman
said it is "absolutely normal" for two European parties that
have "a similar ideology to offer electoral support before a
ballot." MS

MECIAR VOWS TO QUIT POLITICS IF HE LOSES ELECTIONS. Prime
Minister Vladimir Meciar on 18 September said he will quit
politics if he loses the elections scheduled for 25-26
September, Reuters reported citing TASR. Meciar added that he
would not agree to head a minority government and "would not
even serve as a doorman" in such a cabinet. Also on 18
September, Pavol Kanis, deputy chairman of the opposition
Party of the Democratic Left, said Meciar has "buried any
possibility of cooperation with other political parties." MS

AGENCY LOWERS SLOVAKIA'S RATING. Standard & Poor's, one of
the world's leading rating agencies, has lowered its ratings
for Slovakia to "double B plus", citing lingering political
tensions and inconsistent economic policies, an RFE/RL
correspondent in London reported on 18 September. A report
released by the agency says Slovak stability is "vulnerable"
to the turmoil on international capital markets and to
developments on the domestic political scene. MS

HUNGARIAN PRIME MINISTER IN ITALY. Visiting Prime Minister
Viktor Orban on 18 September told his Italian counterpart,
Romano Prodi, that Hungary wants Vojvodina to have the same
degree of autonomy that Italy proposes for resolving the
crisis in Kosova. After meeting with Pope John Paul II, Orban
told journalists that the new Hungarian government wants to
deepen cooperation between state and Church rather than
separate them. He said some of the provisions of an agreement
that the previous government and the Holy See signed are
incompatible with Hungary's judicial system. In order to
resolve the matter, Hungary and the Vatican will set up a
joint committee, Orban said. MSZ

SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE

EUROPEAN OFFICIALS BLAME BERISHA FOR CRISIS. Polish Foreign
Minister Bronislaw Geremek, in his capacity as chairman of
the OSCE, held talks with Albanian officials and opposition
leader Sali Berisha in Tirana on 19 September, Reuters
reported. After meeting separately with President Rexhep
Mejdani, Premier Fatos Nano, and Berisha, Geremek said the
OSCE fully supports Mejdani in his efforts "to find a
political solution" to the crisis. Geremek urged Berisha to
participate in those efforts. Nano said he will "not
cooperate with crime and its promoters." Greek Foreign
Ministry official George Papandreou, representing the Council
of Europe, told Berisha that his actions have "undermined
democratic institutions." He warned Berisha that he could be
internationally isolated. French President Jacques Chirac
said any effort to oust Nano by force is "unacceptable." PB

BERISHA'S CRUSADE CONTINUES... Berisha said on 20 September
that his Democratic Party (DP) is severing all contacts with
the Socialists, including those at the local level, dpa
reported. Berisha also said the DP is setting up a National
Front for the Rejection of the Communist Neodictatorship in
Albania. He said it will include all organizations and
individuals "willing to oppose the government with non-
violent means." A few thousand DP supporters attended a
memorial service on 19 September for slain DP deputy Azem
Hajdari, whose death triggered the recent crisis. The
government announced that a $200,000 reward is being offered
for information resulting in the arrest of Hajdari's killers.
The government also ordered a purge of any government
officials that assisted in the failed putsch. PB

...AS HIS IMMUNITY IS LIFTED. The Albanian parliament on 18
September voted overwhelmingly to remove opposition leader
Berisha's immunity as a deputy, dpa reported. With Democratic
Party members boycotting the vote, the 108 remaining deputies
all voted for the measure. Western officials have warned the
government that arresting Berisha could escalate the crisis.
Berisha seemed unfazed by the vote and said he is not "scared
of being arrested" and will continue his fight "from
whichever cell" they put him in. Meanwhile, in a gesture to
the DP, justice officials released four of the six DP
officials arrested last month for their alleged roles in the
country's turmoil last year. They are being held under house
arrest. PB

HUMAN RIGHTS ENVOY CALLS FOR END TO SERBIAN ATTACKS IN
KOSOVA. Jiri Dienstbier, the UN's special envoy for human
rights, has called on Yugoslav officials to immediately end
the violence in Kosova, AFP reported. Dienstbier, who is in
Kosova for talks with Serbian and ethnic Albanian leaders,
said he understands the fight against armed rebellion but
said destroying villages is an "overreaction." Serbian forces
reportedly refocused their attacks on central Kosova after a
week of attacks on northeastern Kosova. In Frankfurt, German
Foreign Minister Klaus Kinkel said talks with Russian
officials have brought "slight progress" in mollifying
Moscow's objections to a UN resolution on Kosova. PB

KOSOVAR ALBANIANS MAKE PROPOSALS TO PEACE AGREEMENT. Ethnic
Albanian leaders in Kosova released details of their
counterproposal to a U.S.-backed draft agreement to end the
violence in the province, AP reported on 20 September.
Published in the Albanian-language daily "Koha Ditore," the
proposal calls for a three-year period in which Kosova would
be an independent entity equal to Serbia and Montenegro. The
document says that if Belgrade and Kosovar Albanian
authorities cannot agree on a permanent political status for
Kosova, the people of Kosova will hold a referendum to decide
its final status. Belgrade rejects a referendum outright. The
proposal, floated last week and drafted by U.S. envoy
Christopher Hill, says that Kosova will stay part of Serbia.
The Belgrade daily "Dnevni Telegraf" said on 20 September
that Yugoslav officials will submit their own proposals at an
extraordinary meeting of the parliament on 28 September. PB

SERBIAN OFFICIALS SAY NO HUMANITARIAN CRISIS IN KOSOVA. Zoran
Andjelkovic, Serbian minister without portfolio, said on 18
September that the term "humanitarian disaster" is being used
to put pressure on Belgrade in the Kosova crisis, Tanjug
reported. Andjelkovic, speaking in Prishtina, said that
ethnic Albanians have returned to their homes en masse and no
more are left without shelter. Vuk Draskovic, leader of the
Serbian Renewal Movement, said the following day in Prishtina
that although the situation is "far from normal," ethnic
Albanians in Kosova do not face a "humanitarian catastrophe,"
Beta reported. He said that refugees could return to their
homes but do not want to. In Geneva, Kris Janowski, a
spokesman for the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, said
that the humanitarian crisis is "worsening by the day." He
estimates that some 260,000 ethnic Albanians have been made
homeless by the Serbian destruction of their homes. PB

BOSNIA SEEKS RESOLVE FROM UN. Muhamed Sacirbey, Bosnia-
Herzegovina's ambassador to the UN, said on 18 September that
it is time for the UN Security Council to get tough with
indicted war criminals living in Yugoslavia, Reuters
reported. Sacirbey said he would not have signed the Dayton
agreement if he had known that war criminals would not be
arrested. In a letter to the Council, Sacirbey wrote that
Belgrade has displayed "contempt for the Security Council."
PB

MODERATES SAID TO BE FARING WELL IN BOSNIAN PARLIAMENT RACES.
Simon Haselock, a spokesman for high representative Carlos
Westendorp, said on 18 September that moderate parties are
doing well in elections for the Republika Srpska Assembly, AP
reported. Haselock said the trend "is generally away from
nationalist parties." He also concurred with statements by
hard-liners that nationalist Momcilo Krajisnik is trailing
Zivko Radisic for the Serbian position on the Bosnian
presidency. Western diplomats are hoping a strong showing by
moderates in the assembly will offset the expected election
of ultranationalist Nikola Poplasen as president of the
Republika Srpska. Observers say the move away from
nationalist parties might also be realized in the results for
the Bosnian joint parliament. U.S. Balkan envoy Robert
Gelbard, who was in Banja Luka for talks with Bosnian
officials, said Washington will cut off support to any
leaders that do not back Dayton. PB

ROMANIA'S DEMOCRATS RECALL DEPUTY CHAIRMAN SEVERIN... The
National Coordination Council of the Democratic Party has
voted by 201-189 to recall Adrian Severin from the position
of deputy chairman, RFE/RL's Bucharest bureau reported on 19
September. In recent months, former Foreign Minister Severin
has repeatedly criticized the party leadership. Party
chairman Petre Roman said the decision "does not amount to
sanctioning" Severin. The next day, Severin said the vote was
unstatutory and fell short of the 266 votes stipulated by
regulations. He added that he continues to regard himself as
deputy chairman of the party. Also on 19 September, the
council named Alexandru Sassu as its candidate for the
Bucharest mayoral race in October. Sassu said that if
elected, he will resign both from the legislature and as
minister in charge of relations with the parliament. MS

...AS LIBERAL DEPUTY CHAIRMAN SUSPENDS HIMSELF. National
Liberal Party (PNL) chairman Mircea Ionescu-Quintus on 18
September confirmed media reports that PNL deputy chairman
Viorel Catarama has sent him a letter announcing he is
"suspending himself" from that post "for an unlimited
period." PNL spokesman Paul Pacuraru said the next day that
Catarama's decision stems from his "dissatisfaction" with the
fact that the government, of which the PNL is a member,
"promotes few liberal policies" in the economy. Pacuraru also
pointed to Catarama's failure to win PNL backing in May 1997
for the position of finance minister. MS

MOLDOVAN CONSTITUTIONAL COURT REJECTS APPEAL AGAINST NUCLEAR
TRANSIT. The Constitutional Court on 18 September rejected an
appeal by deputies from the Democratic Convention of Moldova
against the parliament's decision to allow the transit of
nuclear waste from the Bulgarian Kozloduy reactor, the RFE/RL
Chisinau bureau reported. The court said the appeal "lacked
legal grounds." The same day, BASA press reported that the
management of the Moldovan Railroad Company and the
Department for Civil Protection and Emergencies are refusing
to reveal details on the transit "for safety reasons." MS

BULGARIAN PARTIES AGREE ON RATIFYING MINORITIES CONVENTION.
President Petar Stoyanov told journalists on 18 September
that all Bulgarian political parties have agreed to ratify
the Framework Convention for the Protection of National
Minorities. The Council of Europe's Parliamentary Assembly is
due to discuss Bulgaria at its fall session, which begins on
21 September. Council officials told an RFE/RL correspondent
that the assembly is likely to continue monitoring whether
Bulgaria is honoring the obligations it undertook when it
joined the council. On 19 September, before departing for
Washington for talks with President Bill Clinton, Stoyanov
told journalists that he expects the discussion on Bulgaria's
NATO membership aspirations to be "realistic, rather than
optimistic." MS

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