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RFE/RL NEWSLINE

RFE/RL NEWSLINE Vol 2, No. 196, Part II, 9 October 1998


________________________________________________________
RFE/RL NEWSLINE Vol 2, No. 196, Part II, 9 October 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

* KOVAC PREPARED TO RUN FOR REELECTION

* CLINTON SAYS NATO READY TO DEFEND ITS INTERESTS

* ALBANIAN PARLIAMENT APPROVES NEW GOVERNMENT

End Note: TOUGH AGENDA FOR ALBANIA'S NEW PREMIER
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EAST-CENTRAL EUROPE

KUCHMA CRITICIZES RUSSIA FOR NOT IMPLEMENTING FREE TRADE
ACCORD... At a meeting with raion administration leaders
in Kyiv on 8 October, Ukrainian President Leonid Kuchma
criticized Russia for failing to meet halfway Ukraine's
proposals to implement the bilateral free trade
agreement, Interfax reported. Kuchma said the Russian
State Duma, unlike the Ukrainian parliament, has not
ratified the agreement. He also recalled that Russia
introduced value-added tax on Ukrainian goods in 1996
and "cut its market of Ukrainian sugar." JM

...SLAMS NATIONAL BANK FOR 'ARTIFICIALLY CURBING
INFLATION'... Commenting at the same forum on the
current crisis in Ukraine, Kuchma admitted for the first
time that not only the Russian crisis but also the
Ukrainian leadership should be blamed. He explained that
those leaders have made "a lot of mistakes," Ukrainian
Television reported. The primary reason for the crisis,
he argued, is the National Bank's attempt to
artificially maintain the hryvnya exchange rate.
"Boasting of the fact that the hryvnya is more stable
than the dollar, the mark, or the yen is a pleasant
thing. But artificially curbing inflation is not
protecting" the country from inflationary trends, he
commented. JM

...SAYS HE WILL NOT SIGN 'UNREALISTIC BUDGET.' Kuchma
also announced that he will not sign an "unrealistic
budget" for 1999. He admitted, however, that under the
current forces in the parliament, the chances of
adopting a realistic budget are "scarce." He warned
against pinning hopes on foreign credits, saying they
are primarily used for "consumption" (meaning covering
the budget deficit). According to Kuchma, the country's
foreign debt amounted to $10.243 billion on 1 September.
JM

UKRAINE OFFERS MEDIATION IN KOSOVA. Kuchma said at a
meeting with Ukrainian Foreign Minister Borys Tarasyuk
on 8 October that Ukraine is ready to mediate in the
Kosova crisis, Interfax reported. "The only way to
defuse the crisis is to start peace talks immediately
and resolve all issues by political means," Kuchma's
press service quoted him as saying. He added that
Ukraine supports the territorial integrity of Yugoslavia
and broad autonomy for Kosova. JM

BELARUS DENIES SENDING AIR DEFENSE SYSTEM TO BELGRADE.
The Belarusian Defense Ministry has denied rumors that
an S-300PM anti-aircraft system was sent to Yugoslavia
in anticipation of possible NATO air strikes, Interfax
reported on 8 October. The agency cited an unnamed
ministry official as saying on 8 October that "no system
of this kind has been taken out of Belarus." The same
day, Syarhey Kastyan, chairman of the Foreign Affairs
Committee of the Chamber of Representatives, told
Interfax that Belarus is prepared "to send humanitarian
aid and defense hardware to Belgrade." JM

LUKASHENKA SAYS 'NO ECONOMIC CRISIS IN RUSSIA.'
Belarusian President Alyaksandr Lukashenka said on 8
October that "there is no economic crisis in Russia, no
reasons for a crisis," Belarusian Television reported.
"Rather a large group of rogues prevents the new
government and the president from working" in Russia,
Lukashenka commented, adding "Let us throw off all that
scum and start working." He also remarked that Russia
should consider introducing a "common economy" and a
"single strong ruble" in the post-Soviet area. If
Yevgenii Primakov's government used the experience
accumulated by Belarus in managing its economy, "people
would forget about what now happened in Russia [as soon
as] by the beginning of the next year," Lukashenka
argued. JM

LATVIAN LAWMAKERS POSTPONE DEBATE OF LANGUAGE LAW. The
outgoing parliament has indefinitely suspended voting on
the language law in the third and final reading, BNS
reported on 8 October. That decision was taken after
deputies inserted several measures that contradicted the
recommendations of the legislature's Education
Committee. Among other things, those measures stipulated
that the state language be used at public meetings and
demonstrations and that the only language of instruction
at state schools be Latvian. Education Committee
Chairman Dzintars Abikis refused to continue the
parliamentary debate, saying that the bill was no longer
viable because of the proposed measures. JC

LITHUANIAN PRESIDENT SIGNS LAW ON OIL SECTOR. Valdas
Adamkus on 8 October signed a law on the reorganization
of the Butinges Nafta, Mazeikiu Nafta, and Naftotiekis
companies, BNS reported. The new law paves the way for
investments in the country's oil sector by the U.S.
company Williams International. Williams' plans to
acquire a one-third stake in the oil complex triggered
heated debates in the parliament and the press. A
statement issued by Adamkus's office said the president
"will closely follow the implementation of this law to
ensure Lithuania's state interests are not violated." JC

POLISH SCIENTISTS DEMAND MORE SPENDING ON SCIENCE.
Polish scientists have appealed to Prime Minister Jerzy
Buzek to increase spending on science, AP reported on 8
October. The scientists say state spending on science
has fallen dramatically in the 1990s, causing many major
research programs to be abandoned. They also claim that
low pay discourages young people from choosing
scientific careers. According to the scientists, the
government plans to spend 2.5 billion zlotys (some $700
million) on science in 1999, which they say is much less
than in Western nations. "When we join the EU, Polish
scientists will go to Western countries where
researchers are considered and treated as elite," the
agency quoted one Polish scientist as saying. JM

CZECH PREMIER MEETS WITH EUROPEAN DEFENSE CHIEF. Milos
Zeman met on 7 October in Brussels with the secretary
general of the Western European Union, Jose Cutileiro,
CTK reported. Zeman said after the meeting that the two
discussed cooperation between Western and Eastern arms
manufacturers. Zeman said the Czech Republic had
resolved the problem of upgrading its military hardware
by saying "we shall not buy anything because we have no
money." PB

CZECH OFFICIALS COMMIT TO PRIVATIZE MAJOR BANK. The
International Finance Corporation (IFC) said it has a
commitment from Czech Finance Minister Ivo Svoboda that
the government will begin the privatization of the
state-owned Ceskoslovenska Obchodni Bank in November, an
RFE/RL correspondent in Washington reported. The
guarantee was necessary for the IFC, the branch of the
World Bank that deals with the private sector, to invest
$75 million in the bank. PB

SLOVAK OPPOSITION PARTIES UNITED. Mikulas Dzurinda, the
chairman of the Slovak Democratic Coalition, said on 8
October that the four leading Slovak opposition parties
are united in their will to form a government, AP
reported. Dzurinda, speaking after round table
discussions with other opposition leaders, said there
were still some serious differences to be resolved
before a coalition could be formed. He did not
elaborate. The parties established two committees
designed to lay the groundwork for the forming of the
new government. The new parliament is due to convene on
29 October. Dzurinda said he hoped a new government
could be formed before the municipal elections on 13-14
November. PB

KOVAC PREPARED TO RUN FOR REELECTION. Former Slovak
President Michal Kovac said in Prague on 8 October that
he is ready to run for reelection provided that the next
presidential vote is an election by the people, CTK
reported. Under current law, the president is elected by
the parliament. Two of the likely coalition parties in
the next Slovak government are said to favor the
parliament electing the president for the sake of
expediency, though they favor direct elections
thereafter. Kovac was in Prague for talks with Czech
President Vaclav Havel. PB

HUNGARIAN COALITION REPRESENTATIVES SNUB SECURITY
COMMITTEE. All ruling party members of the parliament's
National Security Committee failed to attend a meeting
convened by the committee's Socialist chairman, Gyorgy
Keleti, Hungarian media reported on 8 October. Keleti
convened the meeting to discuss Prime Minister Viktor
Orban's letter refusing to appear before the committee
so that he could be questioned about the alleged illegal
collection of data on leaders of Orban's Federation of
Young Democrats--Hungarian Civic Party. Keleti described
Orban's letter as an attack against parliamentary
democracy, saying the prime minister and the governing
coalition consider the function of the committee "a
comedy." MSZ

SECRET SERVICE HEADS SACKED IN HUNGARY. Secret Services
Minister Laszlo Kover on 7 October told National
Security Office director Tibor Vidus, Intelligence
Office head Jozsef Szasz, and Technical Service head
Ferenc Hevesi-Toth that he has launched proceedings for
their dismissal, the daily "Nepszabadsag" reported.
Kover did not explain the move, although the law
stipulates that the dismissal of executives must be
explained. The dismissals of the three service heads
constitute the biggest change of secret services'
personnel in Hungary since the fall of the communist
regime. MSZ

SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE

CLINTON SAYS NATO READY TO DEFEND ITS INTERESTS. U.S.
President Bill Clinton said in Washington on 8 October
that "we would far prefer to secure [Yugoslav] President
[Slobodan] Milosevic's compliance with the will of the
international community in a peaceful manner. But NATO
must be prepared to act militarily to protect our
interests and to prevent another humanitarian
catastrophe in the Balkans." In a letter to several
leading senators, Clinton added that "there will be no
'pinprick' strikes...[initial strikes] will send a very
clear signal, and follow-on phases will progressively
expand in their scale and scope." He denied, however,
that NATO has any concrete plans to deploy ground troops
in the region: "I can assure you the United States would
not support these options and there currently is no
sentiment in NATO for such a mission." PM

FRANCE TAKES SOFTER LINE. Foreign Minister Hubert
Vedrine told a parliamentary commission that NATO plans
"exclude resorting to immediate huge attacks which would
be incompatible with a political solution. Eventual
military action will be progressive and interrupted by
periods where [diplomatic] activity will be resumed,"
Reuters reported on 9 October. PM

ALBRIGHT, COOK SAY NO RUSSIAN VETO. Foreign ministers of
the six international Contact Group countries agreed in
London on 8 October to demand Milosevic's "full
compliance" with a UN resolution that calls on him to
withdraw his forces, allow refugees to go home, and
launch talks with the Kosovars. The ministers did not,
however, agree on what they might do if he fails to
comply. After the meeting, U.S. Secretary of State
Madeleine Albright said that "if it is necessary to use
force, [then] those [Contact Group governments] that do
not agree would not have a veto over the action."
British Foreign Secretary Robin Cook added that although
the ministers took no decision on air strikes, "I can
assure you we have no intention of offering Russia a
veto on what we may decide is appropriate for NATO."
Albright said that an unspecified "attempt to divide
us...has failed." Cook noted that if Milosevic "was
looking for rescue from any member of the Contact Group,
he did not get it." PM

HOLBROOKE BACK IN BELGRADE. U.S. special envoy Richard
Holbrooke returned to Belgrade for further talks with
Milosevic on 9 October, saying that the situation
"remains extremely serious." In response to reporters'
questions in London the previous day, Albright refused
to describe Holbrooke's latest mission as a "last
chance" for Milosevic to reach a negotiated settlement.
She added: "the goal of our policy is not to use force
if it's not necessary. The goal of our policy is to
achieve compliance with the requirements of the
international community. By ratcheting the pressure up
in the coming days by moving into the next stage of NATO
decision-making, perhaps Milosevic will get the message
he has not yet gotten. And Ambassador Holbrooke can work
on specific ways to ensure a verifiable and durable
compliance with the requirements of the international
community." PM

SESELJ THREATENS WEST, NEIGHBORS. Serbian Deputy Prime
Minister Vojislav Seselj said in Belgrade on 8 October
that "NATO soldiers may possibly enter our country as
combatants but they will leave it in coffins." He warned
other countries in the region not to provide any help to
NATO or "they will also be considered our enemy and will
have to face the consequences." He did not elaborate.
Seselj recently threatened to take reprisals against
U.S. forces outside Serbia, presumably in Bosnia, and
against members of the Serbian opposition (see "RFE/RL
Newsline," 30 September 1998). Meanwhile in Prishtina,
the Kosova Liberation Army said in a statement on 8
October that it will "refrain from all military
activity" as of the next day. PM

SERBIAN POLICE DETAIN KOSOVAR JOURNALIST. Serbian police
held Enver Malloku, who is the director of the Kosova
Information Center (KIC) news agency, for three hours in
Prishtina on 8 October. They kept his journalist's
identity papers, mobile phone, and some tapes. One
plainclothes policeman "openly threatened Malloku's
family," KIC added. Unidentified gunmen shot at
Malloku's home in July. The Serbian authorities have
repeatedly threatened the independent media in recent
days and have banned rebroadcasting of foreign radio
broadcasts, including those of RFE/RL (see "RFE/RL
Newsline," 8 October 1998). PM

U.S. BROADCASTING BOARD RESPONDS TO SERBIAN BAN. David
Burke, the chairman of the Washington-based Broadcasting
Board of Governors, United States of America, said on 8
October: "The decision [to ban rebroadcasting]
dramatizes the Serbian government's determination to
restrict the Serbian public's access to uncensored news,
analysis, and responsible discussion of the current
crisis in Kosovo. My colleagues and I believe this ban
is an intolerable form of press censorship. As we did
during a similar situation in Serbia in late 1996, VOA
and RFE/RL have expanded their Serbian language
programming. We will also pursue additional creative
ways of providing the truth to the people of Serbia." PM

WESTENDORP SACKS SERBIAN LEGISLATOR FOR THREATS. A
spokesman for the international community's Carlos
Westendorp said in Sarajevo on 8 October that Westendorp
has invalidated the mandate of Dragan Cavic, who was
elected in September to the Republika Srpska parliament
for Radovan Karadzic's Serbian Democratic Party. Cavic
lost his seat because of his recent statements to the
effect that NATO air strikes against Serbia would be an
attack on Serbs everywhere and that Serbs should react
accordingly. Westendorp interpreted Cavic's statements
as an "incitement to violence and a deliberate threat to
the security of the international community and the
Dayton peace process." The U.S. embassy in the Bosnian
capital said in a statement that NATO intervention
"would not be directed against the Serbian people or the
Republika Srpska. It would be against those whose
operations have led to the death of over 1,500 people
and the creation of some 400,000 refugees and displaced
persons." PM

TOP TUDJMAN AIDE QUITS. Hrvoje Sarinic said in Zagreb on
8 October that he has resigned as President Franjo
Tudjman's chief of staff. He suggested that Tudjman does
not support his charges that hard-liners in the
governing Croatian Democratic Community and in some
intelligence services are waging a campaign against
Sarinic and other moderates. The hard-liners are led by
Ivic Pasalic and include many Herzegovinians. Sarinic
belongs to a faction close to Foreign Minister Mate
Granic, which seeks to reorganize Croatian public life
according to Western European standards. The parliament
is investigating the charges and counter-charges between
the two factions. On 8 October, Defense Minister Andrija
Hebrang completed his investigation and handed over his
findings to the Bureau for National Security, which is
headed by Interior Minister Ivan Jarnjak, RFE/RL's South
Slavic Service reported. PM

ALBANIAN PARLIAMENT APPROVES NEW GOVERNMENT. Prime
Minister Pandeli Majko's Socialist-led government
coalition won formal parliamentary approval on 8
October. All 104 deputies present voted in favor of
approving the new cabinet. Opposition Democratic Party
legislators boycotted the session and repeated their
demand for early elections. The Democratic Party's
"Rilindja Demokratike" ran an editorial the following
day saying that "the communist majority voted by 100
percent for a program of national enmity...[and] wiped
out any hope...for a possible change." FS

ALBANIAN POLICE INCREASE SECURITY AROUND U.S. EMBASSY.
Albanian police blocked off the street in front of the
U.S. embassy in Tirana on 4 October, an Interior
Ministry spokesman told Reuters three days later. He
added that police took this latest security measure
after a request from the embassy. He did not elaborate,
however. After the two U.S. embassy bombings in East
Africa in August, the embassy in Tirana suspended most
operations and flew all non-essential personnel out of
the country.

EUROPEAN COMMISSION PRESIDENT PRAISES BULGARIA. Jacques
Santer told Bulgarian Premier Ivan Kostov on 8 October
that Sofia has made "considerable" progress towards
meeting the requirements needed to join the European
Union, AP reported. Santer, speaking in Brussels, said
amid the progress, "there are still some problems." The
EU has called on Bulgaria to reform its administrative,
judicial, and police systems, among other things.
Bulgaria is in the second group of prospective EU
members. Kostov noted that inflation has not gone above
1 percent a month since the beginning of this year,
compared with an overall rate of 670 percent in 1997.
Kostov also met with Belgian Prime Minister Jean-Luc
Dehaene and visited NATO headquarters during his visit.
PB

ROMANIAN GOVERNMENT TO RESTITUTE BUILDINGS CONFISCATED
BY COMMUNISTS. The cabinet agreed on 8 October to submit
legislation to the parliament that would return
buildings seized by the Communist government to the
former owners, AP reported. The draft legislation would
apply to companies, religious organizations, and private
owners, regardless of their nationality. The parliament
will vote on the draft in an emergency session. PB

OSCE WELCOMES DECISION ON HUNGARIAN-GERMAN UNIVERSITY.
The OSCE said on 8 October that it welcomes the Romanian
government's decision to create a German- and Hungarian-
language university, an RFE/RL correspondent in Vienna
reported. Max van der Stoel, the OSCE's special
commissioner for national minorities, said it was an
examplary "effort to find a compromise solution for a
difficult problem." The decision was criticized by many
Romanian officials. The some 2 million ethnic Hungarians
in Romania have been calling for the establishment of
such a university for many years. PB

ROMANIA, HUNGARY TO FORM JOINT MILITARY FORCE. The
Romanian government submitted legislation to the
parliament on 8 October that calls for the formation of
a 1,000-member military unit with Hungary, AP reported.
The proposed force would be equally manned by Romanians
and Hungarians and would take part in peacekeeping
missions. The legislation says the force could be used
by NATO and the EU. PB

END NOTE

TOUGH AGENDA FOR ALBANIA'S NEW PREMIER

by Fabian Schmidt

	Following the parliament's approval of his cabinet
on 8 October, Albania's new prime minister, Pandeli
Majko, faces many domestic challenges, including the
passage of a new constitution, improving public order,
and fighting corruption. In the foreign-policy sphere,
Majko will try to maintain Albania's moderate Kosova
policy. And he will also seek to withstand pressure from
the opposition, which frequently uses nationalist
rhetoric to embarrass the governing coalition.
	Majko's government is the third to take office
since the Socialist Party won a two-thirds majority in
the legislature in the 1997 general elections, which
followed the widespread unrest earlier that year.
Against the background of these frequent changes of
government, the Socialist Party realizes that it must
maintain a broad support base in order to lead the
country out of the turmoil that has engulfed it. Majko
knows full well that he will be able to withstand calls
from opposition Democratic Party leader Sali Berisha for
early elections only if he enjoys support that extends
far beyond his own party.
	The litmus test for Majko and his coalition will be
a popular referendum next month on a new constitution.
The drafting of the basic law has been a major issue for
Albanian governments for years. In 1994, President
Berisha failed to garner the necessary two-thirds
majority in the parliament for the passage of his own
draft constitution. When he tried to have the document
approved by popular referendum, the electorate voted
against the document in what many observers saw as a
negative turning point in his political career.
	The Democrats have attempted to frustrate the
Socialists' attempts to draft a new constitution by
boycotting the parliament, questioning the legitimacy of
the government, and demanding new elections. But Majko's
prospects of receiving the backing of the electorate in
the referendum may be better than were Berisha's. The
parliamentary commission working on the draft not only
includes members of the governing coalition but is
headed by the center-right opposition Republican Party
legislator Sabri Godo. Godo has repeatedly complained
about the Democrats' boycott of the drafting process.
	Furthermore, the Democrat-led unrest that broke out
in early September following the murder of Democratic
legislator Azem Hajdari backfired for the Democrats and
showed that the government's political position is
strong. The opposition failed to gather sufficient
popular support to overthrow the government, and the
armed revolt in Tirana was over within less than two
days. Prosecutors investigating the events now claim to
have gathered evidence that unspecified Democratic Party
members planned the riots well in advance and that some
individuals even tapped the Interior Ministry's
telephone lines during the revolt.
	Majko, nonetheless, will have to promote
reconciliation with the opposition while not giving into
their demand for new elections. He is in a strong
position to do so. The 30-year-old leader of the student
revolt that ended communist rule in Albania, Majko is
Europe's youngest prime minister and was never a member
of the communist Party of Labor of Albania. He became a
member of the Socialists after the party's internal
reform in1991 and has since developed the profile of a
reformer promoting a Social Democratic image for the
party.
	 For this reason, he commands more respect from the
opposition than did his predecessor Fatos Nano, a former
communist and bitter rival of Berisha. But if Berisha is
charged with staging a coup in connection with the
September riots, Majko would find it difficult to end
the polarization that has characterized Albanian
politics for some years. He will also need to convince
critics that his government, which is almost identical
in composition to Nano's, signifies a break with the
Nano administration.
	Besides reaching a modus vivendi with the
opposition, Majko's toughest challenges remain a
thorough reform of the administration, the
implementation of institutionalized anti-corruption
measures, improving the living standards of the
population, developing the country's infrastructure, and
strengthening the rule of law. Most media and the
opposition have repeatedly accused Nano's previous
Socialist government of corruption and inefficiency.
Majko has drawn up an ambitious reform program that
would create 85,000 new jobs and would promote the
reform of the country's police and judiciary. It will be
a tough order to carry out such reform.
	Finally, the new government is under pressure from
the international community to maintain its moderate
Kosova policy, which aims at promoting a peaceful
solution within the existing borders of federal
Yugoslavia. Achieving that goal may be thwarted by the
opposition's constant attempts to exploit the Kosova
conflict for its own political ends. The Democrats
demand the recognition of the Serbian province as an
independent state and Albanian assistance for the Kosova
Liberation Army. Majko will therefore need to prove that
his Kosova policy is working. Moreover, the success or
failure of the international community in forcing
Belgrade to cease military operations and take part in
internationally mediated talks will directly affect the
credibility of Albania's government and its ability to
move ahead with its domestic agenda.

	The author is a Berlin-based analyst of Balkan
affairs.
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