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RFE/RL NEWSLINE

RFE/RL NEWSLINE Vol 2, No. 211, Part II, 2 November 1998


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RFE/RL NEWSLINE Vol 2, No. 211, Part II, 2 November 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

* IMF APPROVES LOAN TRANCHE TO UKRAINE

* MACEDONIAN SOCIALISTS CONCEDE DEFEAT

* UCK SENTENCES TWO SERBIAN JOURNALISTS
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EAST-CENTRAL EUROPE

IMF APPROVES LOAN TRANCHE TO UKRAINE. The IMF on 29
October approved a $78 million tranche of the $2.2
billion three-year credit to Ukraine, Ukrainian News
reported on 2 November. A statement issued by the IMF's
Kyiv office on 30 October says the Ukrainian government
remains committed to the IMF's loan program and that the
recent restructuring of Ukrainian short-term bonds to
foreign creditors enables the authorities to concentrate
on economic and financial reforms. An IMF mission is
currently in Kyiv to analyze and monitor the
implementation of the loan program by Ukraine. President
Leonid Kuchma on 30 October said that Kyiv wants to
discuss with the IMF a possible money emission to
alleviate an acute shortage of cash. JM

KUCHMA ADDRESSES UKRAINIAN-RUSSIAN BUSINESS FORUM. The
Ukrainian president told a meeting of Russian and
Ukrainian businessmen and industrialists in Kharkiv on
30 October that Ukraine and Russia must undertake joint
actions during the current crisis, ITAR-TASS reported.
Kuchma stressed that while political contacts between
the two countries are "full of mutual understanding," it
is very important to develop economic relations. The
Kharkiv forum spoke out against the "politicization of
economic relations" and urged the Russian State Duma to
ratify the Ukrainian-Russian treaty and the Ukrainian
Supreme Council to approve accords on the Black Sea
Fleet. JM

BELARUSIANS COMMEMORATE VICTIMS OF STALINIST EXECUTIONS.
Some 2,000 people, including many opponents of President
Alyaksandr Lukashenka, marched on 1 November from
downtown Minsk to the site of mass executions during
Stalin's regime at Kurapaty, AP reported. The march took
place on Commemoration of Ancestors Day, which is
officially a national holiday in Belarus but has been
deprived of its work-free status by Lukashenka's
government. The Belarusian opposition says more than
200,000 people were killed at Kurapaty during Stalinist
purges from 1937-1941. In a recent bid to downplay the
scale of Stalinist repressions, Prosecutor-General Aleh
Bazhelka said no more than 7,000 people were buried in
mass graves at Kurapaty, adding that there is no
evidence that they were Stalinist victims. JM

ESTONIAN GOVERNMENT TO CONSIDER RESIGNING? The daily
"Eesti Paevaleht" reports that at its 2 November
session, the government will consider the possibility of
resigning following the parliament's rejection of the
1999 draft budget (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 29 and 30
October 1998). Justice Minister Paul Varul told the
daily that if lawmakers reject the draft budget for a
second time without debating it, the government will be
unable to continue in office. In an interview with
"Eesti Paevaleht" two days earlier, Finance Minister
Mart Opmann said the opposition's arguments against the
budget are "emotional rather than rational," pointing
out that no figures have been submitted to prove what
the opposition claims is the draft's "excessive
optimism." JC

END IN SIGHT TO LATVIAN COALITION IMPASSE? The
Fatherland and Freedom party has said it backs the
candidate of Latvia's Way for premier, Reuters reported
on 31 October. "Our council has decided to recommend
that [President Guntis] Ulmanis nominate [Transport
Minister] Vilis Kristopans as candidate for prime
minister," a party spokesman told the news agency. The
People's Party, which won last month's general
elections, wants its leader, Andris Skele, to take over
the premiership. Filling that post has been the main
sticking point in coalition negotiations over the past
four weeks or so. Ulmanis has said he will name a
candidate for prime minister on 3 November. JC

LITHUANIA RAISES CUSTOMS DUTIES ON SOME GOODS. ITAR-TASS
reported on 1 November that Vilnius has increased duties
on some imports from countries with which it has no free
trade agreement. According to a government resolution,
the higher tariffs are to remain in effect until the
"financial-economic stabilization [of] neighbor-
countries." Import duties on beef, poultry, and pork
have been increased by 30 percent, 25 percent, and 20
percent, respectively. Tariffs on cheese and butter are
up 20 percent and 15 percent, while those on grain and
sugar have risen by 10-20 percent and 87 percent.
Lithuania has no free trade agreement with Russia or
Belarus. JC

POLISH GOVERNMENT SUMS UP FIRST YEAR'S SUCCESSES...
Deputy Prime Minister Leszek Balcerowicz told Polish
Radio on 30 October that Premier Jerzy Buzek's cabinet
has managed to shield Poland's economy from the current
global crisis and has stabilized public finances.
Balcerowicz recalled that the current government, which
took office on 31 October 1997, has launched reform in
the administration, health care, pension, and taxation
systems. He added that Buzek's cabinet has accelerated
privatization and begun the sale of Poland's
telecommunications monopoly. Solidarity leader Marian
Krzaklewski assessed the first year of the present
coalition as "very positive" but criticized the
government for an ineffective information policy. JM

...WHILE OPPOSITION LISTS FAILINGS. Meanwhile, Leszek
Miller, leader of the opposition Democratic Left
Alliance, criticized Buzek's cabinet for an "excessive
degree of ideological commitment," Polish Radio reported
on 30 October. Miller said Buzek's health reform was
based on a 1996 law adopted by the previous left-wing
government and "amended in a wrong direction" by the
current cabinet. Jaroslaw Kalinowski, leader of the
opposition Polish Peasant Party, said the four systemic
reforms launched by Buzek's cabinet are "a dubious
success." And Adam Slomka from the right-wing opposition
Confederation for an Independent Poland commented that
Buzek's first year in office was a year of "wasted
chances." JM

HAVEL, KLAUS CLASH ON CZECH RADIO. Former premier Vaclav
Klaus told Czech President Vaclav Havel during a Czech
Radio broadcast on 31 October that their differences
"are of a deep philosophical, ideological character."
Havel said he believes the state must "show greater
solidarity with the people," and he criticized Klaus for
failing to introduce "an adequate legal framework for
privatization" when he was premier. Klaus, for his part,
reproached Havel with "insufficient support" for his
cabinet. He also said that Havel's office "pursues
certain political interests of its own," a charge denied
by Havel, who said there is "no such thing as "the
policy of the [presidential] Castle," AP reported. MS

NEW SLOVAK GOVERNMENT POSTPONES LOCAL ELECTIONS. One day
after being sworn in, the new Slovak cabinet rescheduled
the local elections from 13-14 November to 19 December,
AP reported on 31 October. The postponement will allow
the government to submit to the parliament amendments to
the electoral law. The Supreme Court has ruled that the
law is "unconstitutional" because it discriminates
against ethnic Hungarians. The cabinet also agreed to
draft a new law on the broadcast media. Prime Minister
Mikulas Dzurinda said state television was abused by his
predecessor, Vladimir Meciar, for political purposes. MS

DZURINDA ON HUNGARIAN PARTICIPATION IN CABINET. Speaking
to MTI on 30 October, Dzurinda said the Hungarian
Coalition Party (SMK) "represents a major democratic
force" in Slovakia. He added that the country needs
"peace, tranquillity, and good relations" and that these
objectives can be achieved only by cooperation among all
parties represented in the government. And he noted that
he would welcome the opportunity to meet with Hungarian
Premier Viktor Orban "as soon as possible," pointing out
that Hungarian-Slovak relations are an "important
element" of his government's policy. MS

ROMANIAN FOREIGN MINISTER IN BUDAPEST. Andrei Plesu and
his Hungarian counterpart, Janos Martonyi, met in
Budapest on 30 October to discuss, among other things,
bilateral relations and regional affairs, Hungarian and
Romanian media reported. Martonyi said Hungary supports
Romania's quest for integration into the EU and NATO, as
well as Bucharest's demand that the EU abolish entry
visas for Romanian citizens. Plesu said Hungary is
Romania's "number one trading partner" and called on
Budapest to increase investments in Romania. With regard
to the Hungarian-language university, Plesu said the
Romanian government has made its decision, but he added
that it is "risky" to predict the outcome of the
imminent parliamentary debate on the relevant law. MS

SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE

MACEDONIAN SOCIALISTS CONCEDE DEFEAT. Prime Minister
Branko Crvenkovski, who has held that office for most of
the 1990s, said in Skopje on 2 November that his Social
Democrats lost the second round of parliamentary
elections the previous day and will now enter the
opposition. Ljubco Georgievski, who heads the Internal
Macedonian Revolutionary Organization (VMRO-DPMNE) and
his coalition partner, Vasil Tupurkovski, who heads the
Democratic Alternative (DA) have begun talks aimed at
forming a new government. Final results are expected
later on 2 November. Observers report that the VMRO-DA
coalition should have little difficulty attracting the
support of some smaller parties and putting together a
working majority in parliament. PM

NEW GOVERNMENT TO STRESS ECONOMY. The key immediate
question facing the new VMRO-DA government is whether
Georgievski and Tupurkovski will ask one of the two main
ethnic Albanian parties to join their coalition in order
to ensure a broad base of support. Georgievski told
"RFE/RL Newsline" in Skopje recently that he wants to
focus his government's attention on economic development
and not be "distracted" by ethnically related disputes.
He added that he is willing to let the ethnic Albanian
minority have its own university if the ethnic Albanian
leaders agree in exchange not to make additional demands
on the government. Georgievski stressed that ending
corruption and attracting foreign investment are in the
interest of all Macedonian citizens. In the weeks since
the first round of parliamentary elections on 18
October, he added that he will maintain "continuity" in
Macedonia's international obligations. PM

SOLANA WARNS MILOSEVIC. NATO Secretary-General Javier
Solana told "Der Spiegel" of 1 November that Yugoslav
President Slobodan Milosevic should not forget that NATO
can launch air strikes within 48 hours if the Atlantic
alliance concludes he has not met his obligations to the
international community. Solana added that the
international community will not allow "any more
Bosnias." PM

UCK SENTENCES TWO SERBIAN JOURNALISTS. The Kosova
Liberation Army (UCK) issued a statement on 1 November
saying that a guerrilla military court has sentenced two
journalists from Serbia's state-run Tanjug news agency
to 60 days' imprisonment. The two men, who disappeared
in mid-October, received the sentences for "violation
and disregard of [unspecified] rules on civilian and
military organization" laid down by the UCK (see "RFE/RL
Newsline," 20 October 1998). The statement added that
the two can appeal their sentences but did not say where
or to whom. PM

KOSOVARS NOT BOUND BY MILOSEVIC-HOLBROOKE PACT. Unnamed
Western diplomats told Reuters in Prishtina on 1
November that the Serbian forces and UCK are testing the
limits of the interim settlement in Kosova. The
diplomats said that the Serbs have reentered unspecified
areas they are supposed to have left and replaced
stationary road checkpoints with mobile ones, instead of
removing the checkpoints entirely. The UCK has gradually
returned to areas that the Serbs forced them to leave in
recent weeks. The guerrillas, who did not participate in
either set of talks, do not feel bound either by the
pact in October between Milosevic and U.S. special envoy
Richard Holbrooke or by the follow-up agreement between
the Yugoslav president and NATO officials. In Prishtina
on 31 October, Kosovar shadow-state President Ibrahim
Rugova said that the Kosovars have not agreed to any
settlement on Kosova, RFE/RL's South Slavic Service
reported. PM

BERGER STRESSES DEMOCRATIZATION OF SERBIA. U.S. National
Security Adviser Sandy Berger said in Washington on 30
October that the U.S. government will continue to
support what he called "the democratic forces in
Serbia." He added that the democratization of Serbia is
vital to the long-term stability of the Balkans. In
Belgrade the following day, Serbia's Independent Union
of Journalists appealed in a statement to individuals
and organizations at home and abroad to support the
independent media, which have been closed or are under
pressure because of the recent media law (see "RFE/RL
Bosnia Report," 29 October 1998). The journalists
stressed that the law is unconstitutional, while the
authorities responded by urging the journalists to
"respect the rule of law," the BBC reported. PM

DJUKANOVIC BLASTS 'SERBIAN HEGEMONISM.' Montenegrin
President Milo Djukanovic said in Podgorica on 1
November that his republic's integrity is under threat
from Belgrade's "Serbian hegemonism" and from
Milosevic's allies within Montenegro, an RFE/RL
correspondent reported from Podgorica. Djukanovic
charged that the federal authorities do not consult his
government or the public when making important decisions
on Kosova and other issues. He was speaking at the
convention of the governing Democratic Socialist Party,
which elected him party president. PM

ARGENTINA EXTRADITES NADA SAKIC. Accused war criminal
Nada Sakic arrived in Frankfurt, Germany, on a flight
from Buenos Aires to Croatia on 2 November. Argentine
authorities had extradited her the previous day. She
will face trial for war crimes in connection with her
activities at concentration camps run by the pro-Axis
Ustasha regime during World War II (see "RFE/RL
Newsline," 27 July 1998). Argentine authorities earlier
extradited her husband, Dinko Sakic, to Croatia to face
similar charges. An Argentine judge told Reuters that
the departure of Nada Sakic concludes what he called
"perhaps the most important extradition from Argentina
in history." PM

INTERNATIONAL LEADERS URGE ALBANIA TO CONTINUE
REFORMS... Officials from 25 countries attending a
development conference in Tirana on 30 October issued a
joint statement urging "the government...to take
concrete measures to restore law and order throughout
the country [and protect] private investments and
foreign personnel." They pledged continued support but
added that "the government should...assure an
appropriate climate for private business activity,"
stressing in particular the need to fight corruption and
smuggling as well as to reform public administration and
the judiciary. Western European Union representatives
said they are considering whether to increase the duties
of their multinational police contingent in Albania,
which has been training Albanian police officers since
1997. Austrian Foreign Minister and current EU
presidency chair Wolfgang Schuessel said the domestic
situation has "dramatically improved" since the
appointment of Prime Minister Pandeli Majko's government
last month, but he added that security continues to
raise concerns. The EU has given Albania $830 million
since 1990. FS

...CALLS ON OPPOSITION NOT TO BOYCOTT REFERENDUM. OSCE
Chairman Bronislaw Geremek told the conference that the
opposition Democratic Party should end its boycott of
the parliament and participate in the 22 November
referendum on a new constitution. Geremek stressed that
"one has to respect the rules of democracy," AP
reported. The Democrats have said they will boycott the
referendum (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 30 October 1998).
Greek European Affairs Minister George Papandreou said
that "the opposition has chosen the road of isolation,"
adding that the boycott will not stop the "process of
democratization and development of Albania." He proposed
setting up an Institute for Democracy to educate a new
generation of politicians. The next day, the Democratic
Party issued a statement claiming that the conference
participants called attention to "the complete failure
of the Socialist government...[and] openly denounced
[it] as a government of corruption." FS

BUCHAREST MAYORAL ELECTIONS STILL UNDECIDED. The results
of the 1 November repeated ballot show that a run-off
will be held on 8 November between National Peasant
Party Christian Democratic candidate Viorel Lis (44.6
percent) and Sorin Oprescu, the candidate of the Party
of Social Democracy in Romania (27 percent). Turnout was
36.2 percent, only slightly higher than in the ballot
recently invalidated because of insufficient voter
participation. Meanwhile, Cluj Mayor Gheorghe Funar on
30 October said he will accept the offer of Greater
Romania Party chairman Corneliu Vadim Tudor to become
the party's secretary-general, RFE/RL's Bucharest bureau
reported. MS

NEW 'ULTIMATUM' IN ROMANIAN COALITION BICKERING.
Democratic Party leader Petre Roman says his formation
has given an "ultimatum" to its coalition partners. The
Democrats threaten to reconsider their participation in
the coalition by the spring if reform steps are not
implemented by then, Romanian Television reported on 1
November. Meanwhile, chief IMF representative for
Romania Poul Thompsen and his designated successor,
Emmanuel Zervudakis, have arrived in Bucharest to
discuss resuming IMF loans to Romania. But figures
released on 31 October by the Central Statistics Board
show that the Romanian economy continues to worsen. MS

MOLDOVAN PREMIER ENDS MOSCOW VISIT. Visiting Premier Ion
Ciubuc and his Russian counterpart, Yevgenii Primakov,
said in a statement on 30 October that they have agreed
to "speed up preparations for signing a program on
economic cooperation" for the years 1999-2000, Infotag
and ITAR-TASS reported. Within this framework,
particular attention will be paid to partly clearing
Moldova's debt to Russia and the gas company Gazprom by
barter. The statement also said the withdrawal of
Russian troops from Moldovan territory will "continue as
the necessary conditions [for it] are created." Russia
and Moldova will "continue efforts envisaging a
political settlement of the Transdniester conflict,"
including granting a "special status" to the region
while preserving the "independence and territorial
integrity of the Republic of Moldova." MS

BULGARIA PROTESTS MACEDONIAN BAN ON SOFIA JOURNALISTS.
Angel Dimitrov, Bulgarian ambassador to Macedonia, has
protested Macedonia's refusal to allow two Bulgarian
journalists to enter the country to cover the second
round of the Macedonian general elections, AP reported
on 1 November. Marinela Mircheva, a state radio
journalist, and Antoaneta Maskrachka of "24 Chasa" were
denied entry although Bulgaria says both had the
necessary accreditation. Dimitrov said the move may
indicate Macedonian Prime Minister Branco Crvenkovski's
intention to "block relations with Bulgaria if [his
government] remains in power." Bulgarian media have
reported that Crvenkovski is "waging a wild anti-
Bulgarian campaign" and accuses the opposition of being
ready to "sell off Macedonian interests" to Bulgaria. MS

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