A host is like general: calamities often reveal his genius. - Horace
RFE/RL NEWSLINE

RFE/RL NEWSLINE Vol 2, No. 187, Part II, 28 September 1998


___________________________________________________________
RFE/RL NEWSLINE Vol 2, No. 187, Part II, 28 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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Note to readers: We regret that owing to staffing problems,
this issue of "RFE/RL Newsline" covers developments in the
Transcaucasus and Central Asia only until 16:00 CET on 26
September.
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Headlines, Part II

* SLOVAKIA OPTS FOR POLITICAL CHANGE

* COHEN SAYS PLANS FOR AIR STRIKES IN KOSOVA READY

* FEW SURPRISES AS OSCE FINALLY RELEASES BOSNIAN ELECTION
RESULTS

End Note: OPPOSITION WINS SLOVAK ELECTIONS
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EAST-CENTRAL EUROPE

UKRAINIAN GOVERNMENT ACCUSES PARLIAMENT OF BLOCKING REFORMS.
In a letter to the Ukrainian Supreme Council, Prime Minister
Valeriy Pustovoytenko and National Bank Chairman Viktor
Yushchenko have accused opposition parliamentary deputies of
blocking fiscal austerity measures and economic reforms
needed to stabilize Ukraine's finances, Reuters reported on
25 September. The letter--which singles out the Socialist
Party and the Hromada party for criticism--stresses that
further opposition will lead to the complete depreciation of
the hryvnya, a political crisis, the isolation of Ukraine in
the international arena, and heightened social tension. The
parliament has so far vetoed three of President Leonid
Kuchma's eight economic decrees issued last month to meet the
IMF's requirements for obtaining a $2.2 billion loan. JM

UKRAINIAN FINANCE MINISTRY URGES FOREIGN INVESTORS TO CONVERT
T-BILLS. The Finance Ministry has extended until 2 October
the period in which Ukrainian hryvnya-denominated bills held
by foreign investors can be converted into longer-term bonds,
Ukrainian News reported on 26 September. Despite the previous
optimistic announcement of the National Bank (see "RFE/RL
Newsline," 23 September 1998), some 25 percent of foreign
investors have not converted their Ukrainian treasury bills
under conditions proposed by the National Bank. The U.S.
Standard & Poor's rating agency said on 24 September that
Ukraine defaulted on its debt to both domestic and foreign
investors. "The recovery value of treasury bills held by
foreign investors is estimated at around 40-50 percent [of
their original value]," the 25 September issue of the
"Financial Times" quoted the agency as saying. JM

UKRAINIAN NUCLEAR POWER PLANTS PROTEST UNPAID WAGES.
Employees at Ukraine's five nuclear power plants staged
protests  on 26 September to demand back wages for the past
five months, AP and ITAR-TASS reported. Demonstrations took
place in satellite towns built near the nuclear plants, which
continued to operate normally. Ukraine's nuclear power plants
account for some 50 percent of electricity produced in the
country, but they can barely make ends meet because of huge
debts owed to them by electricity consumers. The director of
the Zaporizhska Nuclear Power Plant told journalists the
previous day that the money received by his plant is only
enough "to pay taxes and fines for overdue taxes." JM

LUKASHENKA DISSATISFIED WITH SITUATION IN AGRICULTURE.
Belarusian President Alyaksandr Lukashenka unexpectedly
inspected farms in Minsk and Vitsebsk Oblasts on 27
September, ITAR-TASS reported. According to the presidential
press service, the Belarusian president is "very dissatisfied
with the quality of land cultivation and the situation of
farms and machinery pools." Lukashenka instructed the
government to "introduce order in raions" by 1 November. He
added that he will send representatives of the government,
the presidential administration, and oblast executive
committees to check that his order is being implemented. JM

RUSSIAN FOREIGN MINISTER ACCUSES TALLINN OF REPRESSION. Igor
Ivanov, addressing the UN General Assembly last week, accused
Estonia of repression against its Russian-speaking minority,
BNS and ETA reported. Ivanov said Russia cannot remain
indifferent to the fate of hundreds of thousands Russians
subjected to "brutal repressive measures" by the Estonian and
Latvian authorities. He gave no concrete  examples but
demanded that the international community impose sanctions on
countries that abuse human rights on various pretexts.
Estonian Foreign Ministry Secretary-General Indrek Tarand,
who on 25 September addressed the assembly, noted that
violations of human rights unfortunately still occur
throughout the world. He urged the assembly to address the
issue and find the most effective mechanisms to put a stop to
such violations. JC

LATVIAN PRESIDENT SAYS HIS UN ADDRESS 'MISUNDERSTOOD.' Guntis
Ulmanis has said his address to the UN General Assembly last
week was aimed at bringing Latvia and Russia closer and not
at deepening their differences, BNS reported on 26 September.
In that speech, Ulmanis had called on nations to address the
issue of "one of the most inhuman regimes--Soviet
totalitarianism." "I hope that the Russian Foreign Ministry
after having  studied [the text of] my address will still see
my wish to get closer through the assessment of different
stages of history," he said upon returning from the U.S.  He
added that assessing Soviet totalitarianism is equally
important to the people of Latvia and Russia as the regime
affected both nations. The Russian Foreign Ministry last week
criticized Ulmanis for what it called an "openly unfriendly
speech" (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 25 September 1998). JC

REMAINS OF LATVIAN WAFFEN SS TROOPS REBURIED. The remains of
10 Latvian Waffen SS troops were buried with full military
honors at the village of Lestene on 27 September, AFP
reported. Nearly 1,000 people, including veterans of the war-
time Latvian Legion and their relatives, attended the
ceremony. The Latvian government did not participate in the
event. Some parliamentary deputies from the Fatherland and
Freedom party, however, were reported to have attended. The
veterans maintain they were patriots who fought against the
Soviet troops that had occupied the country in the early
stages of World War II. JC

SOLIDARITY BANS TOP OFFICIALS FROM PARTY POSTS... By a vote
of 241 to 42, the 10th Congress of Solidarity on 26 September
forbade its leaders from simultaneously holding posts in the
trade union and in Solidarity Electoral Action Social
Movement (AWS), Television Polonia reported on 28 September.
The ban applies only to the Solidarity trade union
leadership--chairmen and members of the National Commission
and regional commissions as well as department and branch
heads. The decision is widely seen as a move to
"depoliticize" the trade union, "Rzeczpospolita" commented on
28 September. Re-elected Solidarity chairman Marian
Krzaklewski commented to the daily that the trade union is
"now primarily a professional, expert machine, not the super-
party led by Lech Walesa." Before the conference, Krzaklewski
had announced he will step down as AWS leader (see "RFE/RL
Newsline," 25 September 1998). JM

...ADOPTS PROGRAM FOR NEXT FOUR YEARS. The Solidarity
Congress also adopted a four-year action program  that aims
at achieving universal property enfranchisement, a reduction
in unemployment, and "family-friendly" taxes. The trade union
will also strive to have wages increase in proportion to
national income growth  and will demand that the government
implement an "employment-friendly" policy, including a
mandatory insurance against unemployment. Delegates to the
congress opposed the flat tax idea proposed by Finance
Minister Leszek Balcerowicz (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 1
September 1998) and spoke in favor of a system with several
tax brackets. JM

POLISH BISHOP SUSPENDS PRIEST FOR ERECTING AUSCHWITZ CROSS.
Bishop Marian Golebiewski has suspended Ryszard Krol for his
part in erecting a 1.5 meter cross at a gravel pit adjoining
the former Nazi death camp Auschwitz, Reuters reported on 26
September. Krol told Radio Zet on 26 September that he had
hidden three Jews from the Nazis during the war, and he
accused the media of turning him into an anti-Semite. The
suspension was the severest penalty imposed on a clergyman to
date in the continuing Polish-Jewish row over crosses erected
by radical Catholic groups to commemorate the Poles shot by
the Nazis in the pit. In a poll published by "Gazeta
Wyborcza" on 25 September, only 5 percent of respondents said
Auschwitz symbolizes the genocide of the Jews, while 48
percent said the former death camp symbolizes the martyrdom
of many nations. JM

CZECH CHRISTIAN DEMOCRATS' LEADER RESIGNS. Josef Lux,
chairman of the Christian Democratic Party, resigned on 24
September from all his positions for health reasons, CTK
reported. Lux told journalists that he is suffering from
chronic leukemia and that doctors are looking for suitable
donors of bone marrow. Lux will be replaced as  party leader
and as chairman of the Christian Democratic group in the
Chamber of Deputies by party deputy chairman Jan Kasal until
a new chairman is elected. In other news, Czech Defense
Minister Vladimir Vetchy on 25 September told journalists in
Vilamoura, Portugal, that NATO must admit Slovakia into the
alliance. Vetchy said that the "gap" created between Slovakia
and its neighbors after the admission of the Czech Republic,
Hungary, and Poland into the organization is "unfortunate".
MS

SLOVAKIA OPTS FOR POLITICAL CHANGE. Unofficial results of the
25-26 September Slovak parliamentary elections  show that
Prime Minister Vladimir Meciar's Movement for a Democratic
Slovakia (HZDS) is the strongest party in the 150-seat
legislature, with 27 percent of the vote and 43 seats. The
only party prepared to enter into a coalition with the HZDS
is the Slovak National Party, which  garnered 9.07 percent
and won 14 seats; their combined mandates are insufficient
for a parliamentary majority. The Party of the Democratic
Left (SDL), which won 14.66 percent (23 seats), said it will
support the united opposition. With 26.33 percent and 42
seats, the Slovak Democratic Coalition (SDK) came a strong
second to the HZDS.  Together with the SDL, the Hungarian
Coalition (9.12 percent and 15 seats) and the party of Civic
Understanding (8.01 percent, 13 seats), the  opposition
commands a 93-seat majority. MS

HUNGARY, ROMANIA DISCUSS MINORITY UNIVERSITY. Visiting
Romanian Foreign Ministry state secretary Mihai Razvan
Ungureanu told his Hungarian counterpart, Zsolt Nemeth, that
the Romanian parliament will probably support the
establishment of a Hungarian-German "multicultural
university" in Transylvania, Hungarian media reported on 25
September. Nemeth expressed his hopes that a solution meeting
the demands of the Hungarian Democratic Federation of Romania
to remain in the Romanian governing coalition will soon be
found. MSZ

RUSSIAN MAFIA MEETS ZHIRINOVSKY IN BUDAPEST? Several Russian
mafia leaders have recently met in Budapest with Russian
extreme right politician Vladimir Zhirinovsky, "Nepszava"
reported on 26 September, citing secret service sources.
Zhirinovsky reportedly met with Semen Mogilievich, whom
Western media have called "the mafia kingpin of Eastern
Europe." The Hungarian secret services monitored the meetings
and the talks. MSZ

SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE

COHEN SAYS PLANS FOR AIR STRIKES IN KOSOVA READY. U.S.
Defense Secretary William Cohen again warned Belgrade on 28
September to pull back Serbian security forces or face air
strikes, AP reported. Cohen, speaking in Rome with his
Italian counterpart, Beniamino Andreatta, said that NATO has
finished its planning for the air strikes. Cohen said "a very
strong, credible threat must be made" to Yugoslav President
Slobodan Milosevic so that he will pull his forces back,
allow humanitarian missions into the area, and "sit down at
the bargaining table to peacefully resolve" the Kosova
crisis. Cohen and Andreatta said some 50,000 ethnic Albanians
risk either starving or freezing to death. German Foreign
Minister Volker Ruehe said on 26 September that he disagrees
with NATO plans to give Milosevic a couple of weeks before
issuing an ultimatum. He said if NATO does not act soon, the
world will have "the dead on its conscience." PB

SERBIAN PREMIER DECLARES 'TERRORIST' THREAT DEFEATED... Mirko
Marjanovic told the Serbian parliament on 28 September that
"armed terrorist groups have been defeated" and that security
forces could begin withdrawing to their barracks, AP
reported. Marjanovic said Belgrade has shown that there is
"no compromise with those who want to create a new state on
Serbia's territory by terror and force." He did not give a
timetable for scaling back troops but said the move was in
accordance with an agreement Milosevic had signed in Moscow
with President Boris Yeltsin in June. A withdrawal of troops
is one of NATO's demands to Belgrade for it to avoid air
strikes by the alliance. PB

...BUT FIGHTING CONTINUES. A new Serbian offensive southwest
of the Kosova capital of Prishtina began on 26 September,
causing several more thousands of ethnic Albanians to flee
their villages, Reuters reported. The operation is reportedly
directed against members of the Kosova Liberation Army that
have regrouped after fleeing recent attacks by Serbian forces
in northern and central regions of Kosova. Reports say 11
villages are being targeted in the attack and that Serbian
forces are backed by a large contingent of tanks. U.S. envoy
Christopher Hill said in Skopje on 26 September that his
mediation in the crisis has reached a critical stage and that
continued attacks by Serbian security forces are
"intolerable." PB

BALKAN DEFENSE MINISTERS AGREE TO FORM JOINT FORCE. The
defense ministers from seven Balkan countries agreed in
Skopje on 26 September to form a joint peacekeeping force,
AFP reported. Defense ministers from Albania, Bulgaria,
Greece, Italy, Macedonia, Romania, and Turkey signed the
agreement. Slovenia said it may join the force, which is to
number some 4,000 troops, at a later date. The U.S. also
attended the meeting. U.S. Defense Secretary William Cohen
said the establishment of the joint force is a step toward
bringing security and stability to the region. He said it is
needed because many people in the Balkans would rather "dig
fresh graves than bury old hatreds." PB

SILAJDZIC ACCUSES BELGRADE OF ETHNIC CLEANSING. Haris
Silajdzic, a member of Bosnia-Herzegovina's Council of
Ministers, said that Yugoslavia is repeating the ethnic
cleansing that it committed in Bosnia and Croatia, Reuters
reported. Silajdzic, former Bosnian foreign minister, said
"everything is being repeated in Kosova." He added that
ethnic cleansing is "a project drawn up by intellectuals and
carried out by the [Yugoslav army] in Serbia." Silajdzic
sharply criticized the international community for not acting
to prevent the violence against ethnic Albanians. PB

FEW SURPRISES AS OSCE FINALLY RELEASES BOSNIAN ELECTION
RESULTS. The OSCE released final results from the general
elections in Bosnia-Herzegovina on 25 September. As had been
leaked by several sources, Serb ultranationalist Nikola
Poplasen defeated incumbent Biljana Plavsic for the
presidency of the Republika Srpska. Poplasen said there are
differences in the way the Dayton agreement can be
interpreted but that such differences will be "resolved
through discussion." While Western officials were
disappointed by Poplasen's win, they were pleased with
moderate Serb Zivko Radisic's narrow victory over hard-liner
Momcilo Krajisnik for the Serbian seat on the Bosnian
presidency. But the moderate Croatian member of the
presidency, Kresimir Zubak, lost decisively to hard-line
rival Ante Jelavic. The incumbent Muslim member of the
presidency, Alija Izetbegovic, was overwhelmingly reelected
to his post. Radisic will be the chairman of the three-member
presidency. PB

MODERATES DO BETTER IN PARLIAMENT VOTES. OSCE Ambassador
Robert Barry said that despite the win of some hard-liners to
executive posts, there was "continued erosion" of support for
nationalist parties at the parliamentary level, Reuters
reported on 26 September. Barry said there had been greater
competition between political parties and that nationalist
parties did not fare as well as in the last election. The
OSCE said it is withholding an announcement on the number of
parliamentary seats won by each of the parties in the
respective parliamentary bodies until the results are
certified by an electoral commission. Izetbegovic said he is
satisfied with the results of the elections and noted that
his Bosnian Party of Democratic Action and its coalition
partners did well at the state and local levels. PB

SFOR TROOPS ARREST WAR CRIMES SUSPECT. The Stabilization
Force (SFOR) peacekeeping forces in Bosnia arrested Stevan
Todorovic, an indicted war criminal, and sent him to The
Hague on 27 September, Reuters reported. Todorovic was
captured in the northern part of Bosnia without incident. He
is alleged to have instigated, ordered, and taken part in
crimes against civilians while serving as a police chief in
Bosanski Samac in 1992. A SFOR spokeswoman denied a report by
Todorovic's lawyer that he was taken from Serbian territory.
PB

ALBANIAN PRESIDENT CALLS FOR CHANGE, END TO FEUDS. Rexhep
Mejdani issued a plea to Albanian political parties on 25
September, telling parliamentary deputies that it is time to
end their fighting, Reuters reported. Mejdani, in a statement
read by parliamentary speaker Skendar Gjinushi, proposed
various political agreements aimed at ending the public
protests led by the opposition Democratic Party. Mejdani also
called for a reshuffling of the government and a political
agreement to improve law and order and disarm the population.
He urged the Democrats to end their  parliamentary boycott so
that the  postcommunist consititution can be finished. PB

NANO RULES OUT EARLY ELECTIONS. Albanian Socialist Prime
Minister Fatos Nano refused on 26 September to consider
calling early elections, Reuters reported. Nano, speaking to
top officials in his five-party coalition government, said he
will reshuffle the cabinet and indicated that he will add
some independents to it. Nano again accused opposition leader
Sali Berisha of initiating riots on 12 September in an
attempt to topple Nano's government. Also on 26 September,
some 3,000 people demonstrated in central Tirana and called
for Nano's government to resign. Berisha repeated accusations
that Nano is behind the murder of Democratic Party official
Azem Hajdari, whose death sparked the riots. On 25 September,
the Democrats and several smaller parties that have joined
their  cause issued a statement denouncing violence and
saying the parties will demonstrate peacefully every day
until Nano resigns. PB

CASPIAN OIL CONFERENCE IN BUCHAREST REVEALS DISAGREEMENTS.
The U.S. government has taken issue with the Italian Eni oil
firm, which supports the construction of an oil pipeline from
the Black Sea Port of Constanta to Trieste that would pass
through Serbia, Croatia, and Slovenia, an RFE/RL
correspondent in Bucharest reported on 27 September.
Addressing a conference on transporting Caspian Sea oil to
Europe,  U.S. Ambassador to Romania James Rosapepe said an
alternative route that would by-pass Serbia and pass through
Hungary, Croatia, and Slovenia has strong "economic and
political" potential . Romania is pleading hard to include
the Black Sea port of Constanta on the envisaged route.
President Emil Constantinescu, addressing the opening session
of the conference on 27 September, said the various proposed
routes must be viewed as "complementary rather than
competitive." MS

ROMANIA'S ECOLOGISTS MERGE. A congress of the Romanian
Ecologist Federation (FER) on 26 September approved the
merger of the party (which is a member of the Democratic
Convention of Romania or CDR) with the Romanian Ecologist
Movement (MER). Former MER chairman Octavian Ciobota was
elected first deputy chairman of the FER.  In other news,
President Constantinescu. Prime Minister Radu Vasile and the
CDR on 24-25 September said they back the nomination of
former King Michael for the Nobel Peace prize. The proposal
was first made by a Romanian emigre organization, which says
the  former monarch deserves the prize for his contribution
to shortening World War II by having played a crucial role in
Romania's switching of alliances. MS

MOLDOVAN DEPUTY PREMIER THREATENS TO RESIGN. Ion Sturdza told
journalists on 25 September that he might resign owing to
differences with his cabinet colleagues over reforms and the
budget, Reuters reported. Sturdza, who is also economy
minister in charge of reform, said that "different views
about reforms have surfaced within the government." He said
that ministries have requested funding for the 1999 budget
totaling 5.2 billion lei ($1.05 billion), whereas this year's
revenues would be half that amount--2.6 billion lei. "If we
do not move to an austerity program, we shall find ourselves
in financial collapse in the fall," Sturdza said. MS

IMF APPROVES LOAN TO BULGARIA. The IMF board on 24 September
approved an $840 million three-year loan to Bulgaria aimed at
supporting market reforms and economic growth, AP reported.
The loan will help Bulgaria service its $9 billion foreign
debt while simultaneously revamping its social benefit system
and closing or selling off inefficient state companies.
Finance Minister Muravei Radev said the government expects
the loan to be matched by credits  from the World Bank, the
EU, and the G-24 group, bringing the total amount of loans in
the next three years to $1.6 billion.  MS

BULGARIA ANNOUNCES CHANGES IN INTERIOR MINISTRY. Interior
Minister Bogomil Bonev on 24 September announced the setting
up of a commission to draft plans to change the ministry's
present system of military ranking to one closer to those
used by Western police forces, an RFE/RL correspondent in
Sofia reported. Also on 24 September, Foreign Minister
Nadezhda Mihailova told the UN General Assembly that there is
a "serious risk" that the conflict in Kosova might spill over
to other parts of the region. On 26 September, Mihailova met
with Russian Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov to discuss both
bilateral relations and international issues, primarily the
situation in Kosova, ITAR-TASS reported. MS

END NOTE

OPPOSITION WINS SLOVAK ELECTIONS

by Jolyon Naegele

	The defeat of Slovak Prime Minister Vladimir Meciar's
populist-nationalist coalition in parliamentary elections on
25-26 September presents the democratic opposition with its
best opportunity since 1990 to turn the political tide and
put Slovakia firmly on the road to European integration and
NATO membership.
	Four opposition parties won a constitutional majority of
93 of the 150 seats in the Slovak parliament. Within hours
after preliminary election results were announced on 27
September, the leaders of those parties began roundtable
talks on forming a stable coalition government.
	Meciar's Movement for a Democratic Slovakia (HZDS),
which took first place, just seven-tenths of a percentage
point ahead of the largest opposition party, the Slovak
Democratic Coalition (SDK), is expected to go into opposition
with its partner, the Slovak National Party (SNS). Meciar has
repeatedly said he will not form a minority government.
	The main opposition force, the SDK won 26.33 percent of
the vote and 42 parliamentary seats. The post-communist Party
of the Democratic Left (SDL) gained over 14 percent and 23
seats, the Hungarian Coalition Party (SMK) over 9 percent and
15 seats, and the populist center-left Party of Civic
Understanding (SOP) won 8 percent and 13 seats.
	Together, the four opposition parties have 93 seats,
three more than the three-fifths majority required to amend
the constitution.
	The man most likely to succeed Meciar as Prime Minister,
SDK chairman Mikulas Dzurinda, says the election outcome
shows that "Slovakia wants a change, a different orientation,
and an end to constant confrontation." Dzurinda is 43 years
old, a Christian Democrat, and former transportation
minister. He is a close associate of former Prime Minister
and ex-dissident Jan Carnogursky.
	Dzurinda or whoever eventually becomes prime minister
will have the difficult task of stopping Slovakia's economic
slide downward and eastward, disentangling the country from
its very close economic and defense industry ties with
Russia, and re-establishing solid relations with the West.
The new government will have to implement measures, some of
them likely to be unpopular belt-tightening ones, to enable
Slovakia to become a legitimate candidate for EU and NATO
membership.
	Parliamentary speaker and Meciar associate Ivan
Gasparovic has 30 days to call the new parliament into
session, after which, he says, the current Meciar government
will resign.
	The new parliament will have to elect a new president.
The four parties have the votes to elect whomever they can
agree on among themselves. Slovakia has been without a
president since March, when Michal Kovac's five-year term
expired. Ever since, Meciar's HZDS repeatedly prevented any
candidate from being elected.
	The outgoing speaker of parliament, Gasparovic, says the
election outcome is a "mirror image" of parliamentary
elections in Romania nearly two years ago, which  resulted in
an end to strong-arm, post-communist rule and the coming to
power of the democratic opposition, including the ethnic
Hungarian party. HZDS deputy chairman Sergej Kozlik told
reporters that the HZDS is a "standard" party and will go
into opposition in the event it fails to form a majority
government.
	In an important signal to the international community,
the current opposition leaders agreed in roundtable talks on
27 September that the SMK should be in the government. Anti-
Hungarian sentiment has been traditionally strong in Slovak
politics, and the nationalist SNS once again played the
Hungarian card during the campaign for these elections. The
international community has been critical of the Meciar
government's treatment of the Hungarian minority, which
numbers more than half a million and inhabits a compact area
of rural southern Slovakia.
	In another important signal, the chairman of the post-
communist SDL, Jozef Migas, said his party will do everything
to ensure the formation of a functional government that will
ensure post-election stability in Slovakia. After years of
flirting with the idea of forming a coalition with HZDS,
Migas has finally ruled out that idea. In his words, "the
government must be functional and majority."
	Despite predictions of election tampering,
representatives of all parties said the two-day vote took
place freely and fairly. International observers, however,
were a little more reserved, criticizing the campaign,
particularly the government's attempt through last-minute
legislation to stave off an opposition victory.
	A preliminary report issued by the Organization for
Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) in Bratislava on 27
September said that "although an atmosphere of political
polarization led to a lack of confidence in the overall
process by many Slovak citizens, the election as such was
carried out in an apparently correct and acceptable manner."
	Voter participation was almost 85 percent. The head of
the Council of Europe monitoring delegation, Franciszek
Adamczyk of Poland, praised the high turnout, saying it
reflects a belief in the fundamental values of democracy.
'The elections do reflect the will of the people," he
commented.

The author is an RFE/RL correspondent.

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