If there is anyone listening to whom I owe money, I'm prepared to forget it if you are. - Errol Flynn
RFE/RL NEWSLINE

RFE/RL NEWSLINE Vol 2, No. 189, Part II, 30 September 1998


___________________________________________________________
RFE/RL NEWSLINE Vol 2, No. 189, Part II, 30 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

* KUCHMA 'CATEGORICALLY' OPPOSES UNION WITH RUSSIA, BELARUS

* NEW MASSACRES IN KOSOVA

* ALBANIAN PRESIDENT ASKS MAJKO TO FORM NEW GOVERNMENT

End Note: THE CONFLICTS AMONG THE KOSOVARS
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EAST-CENTRAL EUROPE

KUCHMA 'CATEGORICALLY' OPPOSES UNION WITH RUSSIA, BELARUS...
Ukrainian President Leonid Kuchma says he is "categorically
against" the idea of creating a union of Russia, Belarus, and
Ukraine, proposed by Russian State Duma Chairman Gennadii
Seleznev during his 28-29 September visit to Kyiv (see
"RFE/RL Newsline," 29 September 1998), Interfax reported.
"The Belarusian-Russian Union and the Customs Union created
by the CIS's individual members showed that nothing has come
out of this idea," Kuchma told journalists on 29 September.
He added that it is necessary first to ensure the
implementation of bilateral agreements between CIS countries,
including the Ukrainian-Russian accord on free trade.
"Nezavisimaya gazeta" reported on 30 September that the
Ukrainian Foreign Ministry is drawing up a protest note over
Seleznev's proposals to the Ukrainian parliament. JM

...WHILE SELEZNEV SAYS KYIV VISIT WAS 'SUCCESS.' Despite the
disruption of his speech in the Ukrainian parliament by Rukh
deputies, Seleznev said his visit to the Ukrainian capital
was a "success," ITAR-TASS reported on 29 September. "We
reached full mutual understanding and our dialog will go on,"
he told journalists in Kyiv. According to Seleznev, his
proposal of a union between Russia, Belarus, and Ukraine was
"acceptable" to Ukrainian parliamentary speaker Oleksandr
Tkachenko, while President Kuchma "got interested" in the
idea. Commenting on the Rukh deputies' reaction to his
speech, Seleznev said it was "normal," adding that "complete
unanimity of opinion in the parliament is bad." An official
communique signed by the Ukrainian and Russian speakers says
their talks took place in an "atmosphere of friendship,
cordiality, mutual understanding, and confidence," dpa
reported. JM

HUMAN RIGHTS GROUP PROTESTS 'RUIN' OF BELARUSIAN FARMING. The
Belarusian Helsinki Committee has disseminated a statement
protesting the "ruin of Belarusian agricultural producers,"
Belapan reported on 29 September. The committee says both
private and state-owned farms are on the verge of collapse
because the government maintains low purchase prices for
agricultural products while the prices of food, agricultural
equipment, and industrial goods are very high. Farmers are
forced to repay state loans by selling their products at 30-
40 percent below their market value. The statement adds that
farmers' wages are far below the subsistence minimum and are
constantly paid late. The committee believes that the
government's agricultural policy is a violation of the
Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the Covenant on
Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights. JM

ESTONIAN FOREIGN MINISTER RESIGNS. Toomas Hendrik Ilves
submitted his resignation on 30 September, saying he took
that decision because leading politicians from the ruling
coalition have attacked the Foreign Ministry owing to his
party affiliation, ETA reported. Ilves said that there would
be a negative effect on the country's foreign policy if he
were to continue as foreign minister. He also commented that
he believes foreign policy is no longer a priority for many
political forces within the government, adding that the
cabinet has found it increasingly difficult to take
decisions, particularly foreign policy ones. Ilves joined the
government as an independent in November 1996; earlier this
year, he became chairman of the opposition People's Party.
Leaders of the coalition rural parties have several times
demanded Ilves's dismissal on account of his affiliation with
the People's Party. JC

ESTONIAN RULING COALITION BLOCKS NEW ELECTION LAW. The
Coalition Party and the rural parties on 29 September
abstained from voting on a bill on parliamentary elections
that would have banned electoral alliances, ETA and BNS
reported. Seven members of the Russian faction voted against
the draft law because it required parliamentary deputies to
have "sufficient knowledge" of Estonian to take part in
parliamentary work. As a result, the bill fell six votes
short of the 51 votes required for its passage. The coalition
partners have begun talks on renewing their alliance for the
March 1999 elections. JC

ESTONIA REFUSES CITIZENSHIP TO FORMER KGB OFFICIALS. The
Estonian government on 29 September refused to grant Estonian
citizenship to 69 former KGB officers, ETA reported. All 69
applied for Estonian citizenship several years ago, but the
Estonian security authorities uncovered their KGB connections
as their applications were being processed. Also on 29
September, the government refused citizenship to 36 former
Russian officers and their family members. JC

RUSSIA URGES LATVIA TO FOLLOW OSCE ADVICE ON LANGUAGE LAW.
Russian Foreign Ministry spokesman Vladimir Rakhmanin told
journalists on 29 September that Moscow hopes the Latvian
parliament will adopt a law on the state language that is in
line with OSCE recommendations, BNS reported. He added that
some of the draft law's provisions have triggered "serious
objections by international organizations." The ministry
claims that the present version of the bill considerably
restricts the use of the Russian language in Latvia. The
previous day, the parliament had to postpone the third and
final reading of the bill until next week owing to a lack of
a quorum (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 29 September 1998). JC

LITHUANIAN LEGISLATORS PAVE WAY FOR COLLEAGUE'S IMPEACHMENT.
BNS reported on 29 September that the Center parliamentary
group has collected enough signatures to request that
impeachment proceedings be launched against Audrius
Butkevicius, who last year was arrested on charges of
attempted large-scale fraud. The Centrists hope that those
proceedings would speed up Butkevicius's trial. Once the
parliamentary chairman receives such a request, it must be
included on the parliament's agenda within a week. A simple
majority is required for impeachment proceedings to start. JC

INTELLECTUALS, FORMER SERVICEMEN APPEAL FOR END TO AUSCHWITZ
'PROVOCATIONS.' Six Polish intellectuals, including Nobel
Prize laureates Czeslaw Milosz and Wislawa Szymborska, have
sent an open letter to Premier Jerzy Buzek demanding that the
government put an "end to provocations and adventures" at the
site of the Auschwitz former death camp, PAP reported on 29
September. Radical Catholic groups have erected some 230
crosses in a gravel pit outside the camp site, sparking
protests by international Jewish organizations. Several
organizations of former servicemen have also issued a
statement protesting the "incomprehensible passivity" of the
Polish government in the conflict over the Auschwitz crosses.
"It is high time for a decisive intervention that will let
Polish society believe that we live under the rule of law,"
the statement reads. JM

SOLIDARITY TO RECEIVE COMPENSATION FOR LOSSES UNDER MARTIAL
LAW. Solidarity will receive some 124 million zlotys ($35
million) in the form of fixed assets and state securities as
compensation for the property it lost under martial law from
1981-1982, PAP reported on 29 September. An amendment to the
1990 law on the restitution of property lost by trade unions
and social organizations under martial law will provide for
such compensation. The cabinet approved the amendment on 29
September. JM

ZEMAN SAYS PRAGUE PREPARING FOR EU MEMBERSHIP. Czech Prime
Minister Milos Zeman, speaking at the EU headquarters in
Brussels on 29 September, said the Czech Republic is quickly
introducing the economic and legal measures required for EU
membership and hopes to join the union by 2003 or 2004, AP
and Reuters reported. Zeman added that his government
nonetheless intends to take "a tough stance" in negotiations
on some issues, including the Austrian demand that membership
be preceded by a transition period to prevent the mass inflow
of cheap labor from new member countries. European Commission
President Jacques Santer said he "finds no clouds" in
Brussels-Prague relations. Zeman described the result of the
recent Slovak elections as a "victory for the democratic
forces [there]," adding that Slovakia is now "ending its non-
splendid isolation." MS

CZECH SKINHEADS SENTENCED TO JAIL FOR DROWNING ROMANY WOMAN.
Two skinheads were found guilty of assault resulting in the
death of a Romany woman, whom they pushed into the River Elbe
in the Bohemian town of Vrchlabi last February, CTK reported
on 29 September. The two skinheads were sentenced to six and
eight years in prison. In other news, former Trade and
Industry Minister Karel Kuehnl has been elected chairman of
the opposition Freedom Union's group in the Chamber of
Deputies, replacing Vladimir Mlynar. MS

SLOVAK RULING PARTY MAY DROP MECIAR... Interior Minister
Gustav Krajci on 29 September told Radio Twist that the
ruling Movement for a Democratic Slovakia (HZDS) may decide
to drop Prime Minister Vladimir Meciar as its candidate to
form the next government and appoint someone else instead, AP
reported. Krajci said Meciar's deputy, Sergej Kozlik, may be
chosen to replace the premier, but he added that the matter
has been discussed only in unofficial talks within the HZDS.
Earlier on 29 September, parliamentary chairman Ivan
Gasparovic said that he will "ask the HZDS to form a
government" because "by tradition" the winner of the election
is given the first chance to do so, Reuters reported. MS

...BUT WILL IT SUFFICE TO FORM NEW GOVERNMENT? In his
interview with Radio Twist, Krajci admitted that the HZDS may
nonetheless be forced to go into opposition. He said it is
"unlikely that we will be able to form a majority
government." To do so, the HZDS needs the support of the
Slovak National Party, as well as that of the Party of the
Democratic Left (SDL). SDL leader Josef Migas said his
formation regards such a partnership as "unacceptable" and
that "the only alternative...is with the current opposition
parties." Migas's deputy, Jan Langos, told journalists that
the SDL has "already agreed with our future coalition
partners on opening coalition talks and on the new
government's program." MS

SLOVAKIA TO REDUCE DUTY ON HUNGARIAN WHEAT IMPORTS. Slovak
Deputy Minister of Economic Affairs Anna Jostiakova said
after talks with her counterpart, Peter Balas, in Budapest on
29 September, that Bratislava will reduce the recently
imposed customs duty on wheat imports from Hungary from 70
percent to 22.5 percent, MTI reported. Hungary is to withdraw
the complaint it filed with the World Trade Organization. MS

SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE

NEW MASSACRES IN KOSOVA. Serbian forces killed some 18
Kosovar civilians in Obrinje, west of Prishtina, on 26
September, several major British and U.S. dailies reported on
30 September. The ages of the dead ranged from 18 months to
95 years and included a young pregnant woman. Some of the
victims had been shot at close range or killed with knives,
and some had been mutilated, Western journalists and
diplomats said in Obrinje, after speaking to survivors and
viewing the victims' remains. Further massacres of Kosovar
civilians took place elsewhere in the same area in recent
days, the BBC and "The New York Times" reported. Serbian
forces continue to surround some 700 civilians at another
locality nearby, VOA reported. PM

SHARP CONDEMNATION OF ATROCITIES. The killings at Obrinje
provide "first-hand evidence ... that Serbian forces have
been involved in killing civilians as well as in burning and
looting," the BBC reported on 30 September. "The New York
Times" wrote that the massacres "show as definitively as
anything that the forces of Yugoslav President Slobodan
Milosevic have been conducting a campaign of terror and
destruction against ethnic Albanian civilians, which is
intended to intimidate them but which appears instead to be
inspiring even stronger defiance." John Fox, a former State
Department official turned critic of U.S. policy, told the
BBC that the massacres provide evidence that Western powers
have been pursuing "the most cynical policy possible" in the
region by refusing to take military action against Serbian
forces. A BBC correspondent in Belgrade added that "if the
West is serious, the time for air strikes might be drawing
close." PM

HILL CALLS OBRINJE STORY 'DISTURBING.' U.S. Ambassador to
Macedonia Christopher Hill, who is the top U.S. envoy dealing
with the crisis in Kosova, told CNN from Belgrade on 29
September that the accounts of the killings at Obrinje are
"disturbing." He added that "there have been a number of
these reports.... It's one more reason why we need to get
international forensic experts in there" to establish the
causes of the deaths. Hill also said that the reports also
highlight the "need to get the political process going" in
ending the crisis. Hill earlier spoke with Serbian President
Milan Milutinovic, who stressed the need for the Serbs and
Kosovars to begin negotiations. PM

ASHDOWN SLAMS 'SCORCHED EARTH' POLICIES. After speaking to
Milosevic in Belgrade on 29 September, British Liberal
Democratic leader Paddy Ashdown said that Serbian policies
have led to "villages in flames [and] destroyed and plundered
homes." He argued that Belgrade is conducting a "scorched
earth policy" and "total war" that goes well beyond what
"civilized nations" regard as an acceptable response to
terrorism. Ashdown added that Milosevic promised him to
"personally see to it that security forces end their
operation" in the province. The British political leader
spent three days in Kosova before his talks with the Yugoslav
president. PM

UCK REMAINS DEFIANT. The Kosova Liberation Army (UCK) issued
a statement in Prishtina on 29 September calling on the
international community to act "more justly, swiftly, and
energetically [to end the Serbian crackdown] lest the
consequences of the war in Kosova have an impact throughout
the Balkans and beyond." The guerrillas added that their own
policies include taking reprisals against "treacherous
elements," by which they mean their political enemies among
the Kosovars (see also "End Note" below). PM

SESELJ THREATENS TO TAKE SERBIAN OPPOSITION HOSTAGE. Serbian
Deputy Prime Minister Vojislav Seselj told the parliament
that "the Americans have found their fifth column here. It is
composed of politically irrelevant parties and independent
media." He added that if NATO launches air strikes against
Serbia, the U.S. should first "withdraw its agents, such as
[the prominent opposition groups] the Helsinki Committee, the
Women in Black and the Belgrade Circle. We can't shoot down
each and every NATO plane, but we can grab those agents who
are at hand," independent Belgrade Radio B-92 reported on 30
September. Serbian Prime Minister Mirko Marjanovic charged
that the "so-called independent media" are not interested in
the truth but "serve up lies [and messages of] defeatism,
fear, and hopelessness." Pro-government legislator Zeljko
Simic added that some independent media are guilty of "high
treason" for having aided "Albanian separatism." PM

PLAVSIC BACKERS CALL FOR ALL-SERBIAN GOVERNMENT. A spokesman
for outgoing Republika Srpska President Biljana Plavsic's
Serbian People's Alliance said in Banja Luka on 29 September
that his party wants the new government to include
representatives of all ethnic Serbian parties in the
legislature. Leaders of the hard-line parties recently said
that they would welcome such a broadly based government. PM

ALBANIAN PRESIDENT ASKS MAJKO TO FORM NEW GOVERNMENT...
Rexhep Meidani on 29 September asked the 30-year-old
Socialist Party Secretary-General Pandeli Majko to form a new
government. Earlier that day, Majko defeated Foreign Ministry
State Secretary for European Integration Ilir Meta and Deputy
Prime Minister Kastriot Islami to win his party's nomination
for the top government post. Observers noted that Majko lacks
ministerial experience but that he heads the Socialists'
parliamentary faction and worked closely with outgoing Prime
Minister Fatos Nano. Majko played a role in the 1990 student
movement that brought about the end of communism and has
mediated disputes between the Socialists and the opposition.
Majko told Reuters on 29 September that he will not call new
elections. The next day, he began negotiations aimed at
forming a coalition. He offered "dialogue" to Democratic
Party leaders and stressed that "we must return the country
to normal and not be guided by the psychology of revenge." FS

...WHILE BERISHA CALLS FOR 'CONSTRUCTIVE SPIRIT.' Opposition
Democratic Party leader Sali Berisha on 29 September repeated
his demand for new elections but urged his supporters to show
a "constructive spirit and sense of compromise in [a]
dialogue that...could lead to an [interim] government with a
broad base." He added that the Democratic Party will not
participate in the new government but will support its anti-
crisis package including the "restoration of public order
[and] disarmament of the population." Berisha also expressed
his willingness to cooperate in drafting a new constitution.
Majko responded that the Democrats should follow the
Socialist's example and remove politicians who belonged to
the communist-era establishment. He said that "the best
support Berisha could give to the new government would be to
make positions in his own party available to the generation
of young politicians." FS

WESTERN DIPLOMATS WELCOME NEW LEADERSHIP. Unnamed Western
diplomats in Tirana told Reuters on 29 September that they
hope that Majko's nomination will put an end to Albania's
highly polarized political climate. One diplomat stressed
that Majko is untainted by past association with the
communist regime. He added that Majko "is very open, very
well disposed towards the outside world...[and] doesn't have
the [political and intellectual] baggage that people in their
50's and 60's have." A second diplomat said that "I'm sure
[Majko] has enemies but it's not nearly as long a list of
enemies as the average Albanian politician has." In Brussels,
a third diplomat stressed that the government change is not
"a victory for Berisha [but] a tactical move by the
Socialists to keep their government intact. The government
has not fallen and that is important." FS

ROMANIA'S HUNGARIAN PARTY TO LEAVE COALITION? Citing
procedural grounds, the Bureau of the Chamber of Deputies'
Education Commission on 29 September refused to discuss the
amendment, submitted by the coalition party leaders, revoking
the stipulation that prohibits the setting up of state
universities teaching in national minority languages. A
meeting of the coalition leaders on 29 September failed to
resolve the situation, and Hungarian Democratic Federation of
Romania (UDMR) leader Bela Marko said after the meeting that
the UDMR's coalition partners are now backing the
"multicultural university" solution, which the UDMR rejects.
Marko added that the UDMR demands the dismissal of Education
Minister Andrei Marga and that it will leave the coalition in
accordance with the decision of its Council of
Representatives if the UDMR's demands are not satisfied by 30
September. MS

BULGARIA SAYS IT'S 'READY' FOR NATO MEMBERSHIP. Bulgarian
ambassador to the U.S. Philip Dimitrov on 29 September told
journalists in Washington that his country is "an economic
success story" among the states of the former communist bloc
and is "rapidly meeting all requirements for entrance into
NATO," an RFE/RL correspondent reported. Dimitrov said that
over the past two years, inflation has dropped from 1,000
percent to 6 percent and that by the end of 1999, some 70
percent of the state assets would be privatized. In other
news, the government on 28 September issued a decree setting
up a 10-member Security Council headed by Premier Ivan
Kostov, BTA reported. MS

BULGARIA, RUSSIA TO COOPERATE IN FIGHTING ORGANIZED CRIME.
Interior Minister Bogomil Bonev and his visiting Russian
counterpart, Sergei Stepashin, met in Sofia on 29 September
and signed an agreement on cooperation in fighting organized
crime, dpa reported. They told journalists that the goal is
to improve communications between their ministries in order
to curb drug smuggling, car theft, and economic crime.
Stepashin singled out the need to protect "honest business"
and said that Russia, hit by an economic crisis, needs cheap
Bulgarian food imports. MS

END NOTE

THE CONFLICTS AMONG THE KOSOVARS

by Tim Judah

	The war in Kosova has taken a deadly new twist. Just
when a united front is needed to respond to the Serbs in
order to avert a humanitarian disaster, Kosova's Albanian
politicians are at one another's throats as never before.
Skeptics say that a fiendishly clever Serbian "divide-and-
rule" policy is at work, but the facts suggest otherwise.
Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic must be pleased that
Kosovars seem to have begun to shoot one another.
	In June, at the height of its fortunes, the Kosova
Liberation Army (UCK) not only controlled large swaths of
territory but appeared to have consigned Ibrahim Rugova,
Kosova's pacifist leader, to the dustbin of history. That was
not the case. Down, but not out, Rugova and his colleagues in
the government-in-exile began to fight back.
	The mastermind behind that government's attempt to seize
control of the UCK was Xhafer Shatri, Rugova's minister of
information, based in Geneva. Working with Bujar Bukoshi, the
head of the government, who lives in Bonn, he dispatched 14
military officers to Albania and Kosova. The two cabinet
members also activated the dormant Ministry of Defense,
appointing Ahmet Krasniqi as minister.
	The 14 officers, although formally operating under the
aegis of their own Armed Forces of the Republic of Kosova
(FARK), had as their goal the takeover of the UCK. The idea
was that once this had been achieved, Rugova could proceed to
the negotiating table in a position of strength--with a
government, a parliament, and an army.
	Perhaps the U.S. unwittingly exercised some influence
over the FARK's ambitions. On 4 July, Robert Gelbard, the
U.S. special envoy to the Balkans, told a meeting in London
that in his view, a good compromise for Kosova would be the
so-called "three republic solution." This envisaged a
Yugoslavia in which Serbia, Montenegro, and Kosova would not
only be self-governing within the country's present borders
but also would each have its own army.
	The FARK plan has ended in disaster because of deeply
rooted antagonisms on both sides. The UCK was founded in
1993. The driving force behind its creation was Popular
Movement for Kosova (LPK), a clandestine fringe group that,
since its foundation in 1982, had consistently called for an
uprising against the Serbs. Many of its members were, and
are, former political prisoners who despise Rugova and his
inner circle. They point out that while they, as radicals,
were in prison in the 1980s, many of those who now surround
Rugova were at the time politicians and functionaries of the
then autonomous Kosova.
	Moreover, some members of Rugova's inner circle, such as
Xhafer Shatri, used to be LPK members. Sabri Hamiti, Rugova's
closest adviser, is also a former hardliner now reviled as a
defector, traitor, and political opportunist. The UCK also
regarded Ahmet Krasniqi as a traitor because when he was
captured as a former Yugoslav Army officer by the Croats in
Gospic in 1991, he was duly returned to Belgrade. Others who
met a similar fate defected to fight the Serbs.
	On 21 September, unknown persons murdered Krasniqi in
Tirana. Three days earlier, the UCK had virtually pronounced
a death sentence on him after it denounced another FARK
commander as a traitor. A UCK communique said: "One day these
kind of people will pay for the damage they have caused to
our nation." Sources close to the UCK have hardly bothered to
disguise the fact that Krasniqi's death was the UCK's
handiwork.
	The UCK's military capacity has been devastated by the
Serbian offensive. But Rugova has hardly been coy about
showing his satisfaction. As he has not been able to take
over the UCK, his power and influence now depend on its being
eliminated as a credible rival.
	The UCK then is down but, like Rugova several months
ago, is far from out. In the spring, a commander named Qazim
declared that anyone who dared sign a compromise deal with
the Serbs would be "executed." In mid-September, 13 Prishtina
politicians were detained by the UCK for two days. The UCK's
aim was not just to show those politicians that it still
existed but to instill fear into them. On 24 September, Sabri
Hamiti was shot but not killed.
	So far, Rugova has not backed off from his demand for
independence but has agreed to the so-called "interim
solution," whereby Kosova's final status would not be decided
until three years after a preliminary agreement was reached.
In view of the catastrophe now facing Kosovars, Rugova's star
is back in the ascendant. If he could halt the war, win an
acceptable measure of autonomy for Kosova, and offer the
prospect of independence, he would have the backing of the
vast majority of Kosovars.
	It is precisely this possibility that the UCK wants to
forestall. Its objective is to regroup during the winter so
as to emerge in the spring as a rejuvenated but slimmed-down
guerrilla organization whose aim would be to wear down the
Serbs in a war of attrition.

The author is a British journalist whose writings include
"The Serbs: History, Myth, and the Destruction of Yugoslavia"
(Yale University Press, 1997).

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