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RFE/RL NEWSLINE

RFE/RL NEWSLINE Vol 2, No. 214, Part II, 5 November 1998


________________________________________________________
RFE/RL NEWSLINE Vol 2, No. 214, Part II, 5 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

* EUROPEAN COMMISSION REPORTS ON FAST-TRACK ENTRY TALKS

* SLOVAK GOVERNMENT PLEDGES DIRECT PRESIDENTIAL
ELECTIONS

* KOSOVARS CALL HILL PLAN 'UNACCEPTABLE'

End Note: DEJA VU FOR SERBIAN ACADEMICS
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EAST-CENTRAL EUROPE

EUROPEAN COMMISSION REPORTS ON FAST-TRACK ENTRY TALKS.
The European Commission on 4 November said that
preliminary talks with Cyprus and 10 East European
countries are "broadly on track." EU Foreign Affairs
Commissioner Hans van den Broek said three of the
countries not included in the "fast-track talks" group
earlier this year--Latvia, Lithuania, and Slovakia--are
performing better than expected. He added that the rate
of Latvia's progress is sufficient for the commission to
consider recommending that membership talks be launched
with that country by the end of 1999. And he added that
such talks could begin with Lithuania and Slovakia
"within a reasonable period," AP reported. With regard
to Bulgaria and Romania, the commission said these
countries "cannot yet be regarded as market economies."
The commission urged Hungary and Slovenia--which along
with Poland, the Czech Republic, and Estonia belong to
the fast-track group--to keep up the pace of adapting
their legislation to EU rules and regulations. All
candidate countries, the commission said, must do more
to protect human rights, improve their judicial system,
and deal with corruption. MS

LATVIA, LITHUANIA DISAPPOINTED BY COMMISSION REPORT.
Latvian and Lithuanian officials have expressed
disappointment over the European Commission's 4 November
progress report. Speaking on Latvian Radio, Foreign
Minister Valdis Birkavs said that since Latvia was the
only country among the five would-be fast-track
candidates whose progress was evaluated as "sufficient,"
he is confused at an EU statement that it wants to make
sure Riga stays the course. "To my mind, we can state
that there is a lack of consistency between a very good
progress report and the conclusions [based on it],"
Reuters quoted him as saying. Birkavs's Lithuanian
counterpart, Algirdas Saudargas told journalists that
the report is "discouraging, but not pessimistic." He
commented that "the political will" of the EU to expand
appears to be diminishing. Both Latvia and Lithuania
have argued strongly that they should be included in the
group of fast-track candidates. JC

DECISION ON LATVIA LINKED TO RUSSIAN-SPEAKERS'
SITUATION? In a document on the 3 October general
elections in Latvia, the Council of Europe's
Parliamentary Assembly said that the EU did not include
Latvia among the fast-track candidates for accession
because of Riga's failure to integrate the country's
Russian-speaking population, BNS reported on 4 November.
Deputies from the assembly who observed the elections
and the simultaneous referendum on amendments to the
citizenship law noted that Russia continually criticized
Latvia for flouting the rights of its Russian-speaking
minority and regularly brought "more or less amicable
pressure" to bear on Riga. They added that Latvia's
chances of joining the EU would have been endangered if
the referendum had been rejected, and they praised the
victory of "common sense" among Latvians. JC

ROMANIA MORE UPBEAT ABOUT COMMISSION REPORT. Minister
for European Integration Alexandru Herlea on 4 November
said the commission's evaluation confirms that Romania
is now a democratic country and that progress has been
made on adjusting legislation to European standards.
Herlea said the evaluation shows Romania was in "a
difficult situation" with regard to its economic
performance and administrative reform and must now make
"determined efforts to catch up the lost time." Premier
Radu Vasile, returning from a three-day visit to France,
said he is not surprised that the report included
"negative aspects along with positive ones." "On the
whole, it can be viewed as an indication of support for
Romania," Romanian radio quoted him as saying. MS

ZEMAN SAYS CZECH REPUBLIC 'NOT NUMBER ONE.' Czech Prime
Minister Milos Zeman told journalists on 4 November that
it is "very good that somebody finally tells the cruel
truth to those who have been telling us that we were
'number one' in Central Europe," Reuters reported.
Observers say this is a thinly-veiled reference to his
predecessor, Vaclav Klaus. The European Commission
report said the Czech Republic and Slovenia performed
least well among the six "fast-track" countries in
meeting the conditions that the EU set for each
potential members in 1997. Zeman also told journalists
that his minority cabinet has approved a draft budget
providing for a deficit of 31 billion crowns ($1.07
billion). Last month, the parliament rejected a draft
providing for a 26.8 billion crowns deficit, AP
reported. MS

UKRAINIAN COAL MINERS DEMAND UNPAID WAGES, SUBSIDIES.
Thousands of miners demonstrated throughout Ukraine on 4
November to demand overdue wages and more government
subsidies to the coal industry. Some 1,000 miners
picketed the parliament and government building in Kyiv,
while another 5,000 held a rally in Donetsk. Organizers
said some 10,000 miners were on strike at their mines to
support the demands of the demonstrators. Mykhaylo
Volynets, a coal mining trade union leader, told Reuters
that unless the government pays overdue wages to the
miners, they will launch a "bigger nationwide strike in
December for an indefinite period." The government owes
the miners 2.4 billion hryvni (some $700 million) in
back wages. JM

IMF WARNS UKRAINE AGAINST PRINTING MONEY. John Odling-
Smee, the IMF's negotiator in talks with Ukraine, told
journalists on 4 November in Kyiv that Ukraine should
not print money in order to solve its problem of unpaid
wages and pensions, AP and Ukrainian News reported.
Odling-Smee added that he did not discuss the issue of
money emission at his meeting with Ukrainian President
Leonid Kuchma the same day. Kuchma aide Valeriy
Lytvytskyy, who earlier suggested that Ukraine will
discuss monetary emission with the IMF (see "RFE/RL
Newsline," 4 November 1998), told Ukrainian News on 4
November that Kuchma "opposes the unacceptable
inflationary consequences of any emission decision." JM

BELARUSIAN FREE TRADE UNION PROTESTS LOW LIVING
STANDARDS. The Belarusian Free Trade Union on 4 November
launched a two-day action to protest the government's
social policy, RFE/RL's Belarusian Service reported.
Trade unionists picketed major factories in Minsk, and a
3,000-strong rally in the mining city of Salihorsk
demanded increased wages and pensions. The protests were
supported by a strike of some 5,000 small traders in
Hrodna. Following the financial crisis in Russia and
subsequent inflation in Belarus, the average wage in
Belarus plummeted from $70 in August to some $30 in
October. The government-close Belarusian Federation of
Trade Unions condemned the action, saying it was "far
removed from trade union solidarity." JM

POLISH FOUNDATION WANTS COMPENSATION FOR NAZI VICTIMS.
The private Polish-German Reconciliation Foundation on 4
November demanded that Germany pay compensation to Poles
who were prisoners in Nazi concentration camps or slave
laborers in firms in Nazi Germany, AP and PAP reported.
The foundation claims that Western slave laborers
received tens of thousands of marks, whereas individual
Poles received compensation of only 700 marks ($425).
Foundation chairman Jacek Turczynski appealed to German
Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder to discuss slave labor
compensation during his visit to Warsaw on 5 November.
The foundation's deputy chairman, Jan Parys, added that
there will be no full Polish-German reconciliation
without a "settlement of historical issues. We back
cooperation with Germany, but if we are to shake hands,
they must be clean." JM

ESTONIA LAUNCHES PRIVATIZATION OF POWER GRID. Estonia on
4 November sold a section of its nationwide power grid
in what ETA described as the first privatization deal
involving energy distribution in the former Soviet
Union. In the 70 million kroon ($5.3 million) deal,
Suenergia LEV, a private firm owned partly by a
subsidiary of Imatran Voima, a Finnish energy company,
purchased the Laanemaa Power Grid. The Estonian
Privatization Agency is currently overseeing the
division and sale of Eesti Energia, the state energy
monopoly. JC

LATVIA REJECTS RUSSIAN CRITICISM OF RECENT LEGISLATION.
Latvian Foreign Ministry Spokesman Toms Baumanis told
reporters on 4 November that Russia's criticism of
legislation passed recently by the outgoing Latvian
parliament indicates Moscow's "incomprehension of
Latvia's situation" (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 4 November
1998), BNS reported. Baumanis argued that the law on
education, under which only Latvian-language instruction
is to be available in state schools, is in line with all
international norms, including those of the Council of
Europe and the OSCE. And he added that no international
organization has made any recommendations about either
the education law or the law on radio and television,
which was also criticized by Moscow. JC

PRAGUE REFRAINS FROM REACTING TO IRANIAN AMBASSADOR
WITHDRAWAL. Premier Zeman told journalists on 4 November
that his government will not react to Iran's decision to
recall its ambassador from Prague in response to the
launching of RFE/RL broadcasts to that country. The
premier said that the government will wait until January
1999 and will then assess the consequences of the
broadcasts after having monitored them, as it had
originally planned, CTK reported. A Trade and Industry
Ministry spokesman, commenting on Iran's threat to cut
off economic links with Prague, said that although Iran
is a "traditional partner," its share in the Czech
Republic's foreign trade is only about 0.1 percent. MS

SLOVAK GOVERNMENT PLEDGES DIRECT PRESIDENTIAL ELECTIONS.
The new cabinet will propose changing the constitution
to provide for direct presidential elections, Prime
Minister Mikulas Dzurinda said on 4 November. Slovakia
has been without a head of state since 2 March, when the
term of office of former President Michal Kovac expired.
The parliament in which Vladimir Meciar's Movement for a
Democratic Slovakia had a plurality could not agree on a
compromise candidate to replace Kovac. Dzurinda told
journalists that the new ruling coalition will support
direct presidential elections, keeping its election
campaign promise to the electorate, Reuters reported.
Dzurinda said the elections must take place "as soon as
possible," which observers say may mean January or
February 1999. MS

SLOVAKIA SCRAPS VISAS FOR U.K., IRISH CITIZENS. Also on
4 November, the government abolished visa requirements
for U.K. and Irish citizens. The requirements had been
imposed by Meciar's government in its final days. That
move was in retaliation for U.K. moves last month to
require visas from Slovak citizens in a bid to stem the
growing tide of asylum seekers from among Slovakia's
Romani community, Reuters reported. MS

HUNGARY TAKES OVER COUNCIL OF EUROPE CHAIR. Foreign
Minister Janos Martonyi on 4 November took over the
rotating chairmanship of the Council of Ministers at the
Council of Europe in Strasbourg, Hungarian media
reported. Spokesman Jack Hanning said the event has" a
symbolic significance" since in November 1990, Hungary
became the first state from Eastern Europe to join the
council following the collapse of communism. MSZ

SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE

KOSOVARS CALL HILL PLAN 'UNACCEPTABLE.' The government
of the Kosovar shadow state issued a statement in
Prishtina on 4 November saying that "the draft plan for
an interim settlement in Kosova prepared by U.S.
[Ambassador to Macedonia] Chris Hill is unacceptable.
The plan cannot even serve as a basis for further
discussion." The statement called for the formation of a
"neutral Implementation Commission, composed of two
representatives designated by the [shadow state], two
designated by [Belgrade], and three individuals from
abroad designated by the UN secretary general in
cooperation with the EU presidency." The Kosovars said
they are willing to negotiate with the Serbs in Geneva
in the presence of foreign negotiators once the
Independent Commission confirms that Belgrade has met
the existing demands of the international community. The
text added that the "interim agreement does not have to
expressly confirm...that Kosova is an independent state,
but the agreement must not prejudice" that view, either.
PM

IS THE POLICE FORCE THE KEY? The statement issued by the
shadow state in Prishtina on 4 November argued that any
settlement in Kosova must take account of the existence
of the shadow-state and its ministries and departments,
which will guarantee full rights to all members of
ethnic minorities. Elsewhere, senior Kosovar politician
Fehmi Agani told the VOA's Albanian Service that Hill's
proposal is "not yet acceptable." He stressed that the
Kosovars demand "further guarantees" that the ethnic
Albanians will receive a "fair share" of positions on
the proposed police force. Ethnic Albanians make up some
90 percent of the province's population. Elsewhere, Hill
told Reuters that the Kosovars "have gone beyond
demanding independence to reviewing the specific clauses
of the draft." PM/FS

FRANCE WANTS TO HEAD KOSOVA MISSION. Defense Minister
Alain Richard said in Paris on 5 November that his
country wants to "command and provide" the bulk of an
all-European rapid reaction force to protect unarmed
foreign monitors in Kosova. "France would like to take
on a significant part of the responsibility for the
security force for the monitors," he said. The proposed
"extraction force," which will have a mandate to rescue
any of the 2,000 monitors if they face danger, will
consist of some 1,500 troops. Those troops will most
likely be based in Macedonia. France has offered to
provide 750 soldiers. The U.S. does not plan to send any
ground troops. In Brussels on 4 November, NATO
Secretary-General Javier Solana said that the
"extraction force" will be operational by the end of the
month. PM

KARADJORDJEVIC SAYS WEST HELPED MILOSEVIC. Prince
Aleksandar Karadjordjevic, who is the claimant to the
Serbian throne, said in London on November 4 that the
West gave Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic a "new
lease on life" by negotiating with him and allowing him
to play the role of a peacemaker, AP reported. The
prince charged that Milosevic deliberately orchestrated
the crisis in Kosova and "provoked NATO" into
threatening air strikes so that he could then negotiate
a settlement and portray himself to his own people as
the man who "saved Serbia." Karadjordjevic added:
"Serbia remains in darkness and ignorance, and the
state-run media are singing praise to the president. Any
hope of democratic reform is on hold, and that is
serious." PM.

BELGRADE BARS WAR CRIMES INVESTIGATORS... A spokesman
for the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former
Yugoslavia said in The Hague on 5 November that
"Yugoslavia has not given the necessary visas [for
tribunal officials] to investigate [in Kosova]. They
will not allow an investigation" there. The previous day
Louise Arbour, who is the court's chief prosecutor, said
that she and her staff have a clear mandate to
investigate possible war crimes and other atrocities in
Kosova. Critics of the recent agreement between
Milosevic and U.S. special envoy Richard Holbrooke have
noted that the pact does not oblige Milosevic to
cooperate with the tribunal (see "RFE/RL Bosnia Report,"
21 October 1998). PM

...AND INDEPENDENT NEWSPAPER. Serbian authorities in
Uzice on 4 November stopped a truck carrying copies of
the independent daily "Danas" from Podgorica and
confiscated the newspapers. The editors of "Danas"
recently resumed publication in Montenegro after the
Serbian authorities banned them from publishing in
Belgrade under a new media law (see "RFE/RL Bosnia
Report," 28 October 1998). PM

NEW BOSNIAN SERB PRESIDENT TAKES OFFICE. Nikola Poplasen
took office as president of the Republika Srpska in
Banja Luka on 4 November. He promised to work with the
international community, to defend Serbian interests in
the dispute over Brcko and to promote closer ties to
Belgrade. Moderate Serbian legislators joined with non-
Serbian deputies to re-elect Petar Djokic speaker of the
parliament. Nationalist Serbian legislator Dragan
Kalinic told members of the moderate Serbian Concord
coalition that the hard-liners will go into opposition.
Kalinic had earlier worked to strike a power-sharing
deal with Concord that would lead to his election as
speaker and the exclusion of Croats and Muslims from key
decisions. Before the parliament opened, the
international community's Carlos Westendorp told CNN
that the return to power by nationalist Bosnian Serbs
would mean an end to foreign assistance to the Republika
Srpska. PM

TURKS START TO REBUILD ALBANIAN NAVAL BASE. The arrival
of three Turkish ships at Pasha Liman on 4 November
marked the beginning of the Turkish navy's efforts to
reconstruct Albania's main naval base. Pasha Liman is in
a poor state of repair after citizens looted it during
unrest in 1997. Turkey has granted Albania $5 million
for the port's reconstruction and is providing 50
experts to work on the project. It is also assisting
Albania in the reconstruction of a military shipyard
near Vlora and of the naval academy, dpa reported. To
that end, it is granting an additional $16 million. FS

WAS BIN LADEN IN ALBANIA? A former government minister
who asked not to be identified told "Gazeta Shqiptare"
on 4 November that he met suspected Islamist terrorist
Osama Bin Laden in Tirana in 1994. The minister said
that Bin Laden was part of a Saudi delegation and
identified himself as a businessman. He offered to
finance the building of apartment blocks and a health
care center in an Albanian village, AP reported. The
same day, the U.S. offered a $5 million reward for
information leading to Bin Laden's arrest for his
suspected involvement in the August U.S. embassy
bombings in Kenya and Tanzania. Some media reports in
August suggested that the bombings were in retaliation
for several arrests of suspected Islamist terrorists in
Albania this summer (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 13 August
1998). FS

ALBANIA, CHINA SIGN AGREEMENTS. Albanian Foreign
Minister Paskal Milo and his Chinese counterpart, Tang
Jiaxuan, signed cultural and education exchange
agreements in Beijing on 4 November. Milo is on a two-
week Asian tour aimed at boosting economic ties. Tang
praised the "traditional friendship" of the two
countries, saying Beijing will never forget Albania's
support for China's admission to the UN and over the
issue of Taiwan, ATSH reported. Communist Albania sided
with China in the Sino-Soviet dispute in the 1960s. FS

TURKEY PRAISES BULGARIA'S MINORITY POLICIES. Turkish
President Suleyman Demirel on 4 November praised
Bulgaria's policies toward its Turkish minority, saying
Bulgaria's ethnic Turks are "loyal citizens of their
country" as well as "a bridge" between Turkey and
Bulgaria, BTA reported. Demirel expressed support for
Bulgaria's quest to NATO membership. Also on 4 November,
Turkish Prime Minister Mesut Yilmaz and his visiting
Bulgarian counterpart, Ivan Kostov, signed an agreement
under which Sofia will pay pensions to thousands of
ethnic Turks who left Bulgaria during the communist
period. They also signed agreements on free trade and
border demarcation, Reuters reported. In other news,
Bulgarian Foreign Ministry spokesman Radko Vlaikov,
commenting on Serbian Deputy Premier Vojislav Seselj's
recent statement on the possibility of setting up an
East European military bloc against NATO, said that the
idea is "ridiculous." MS

END NOTE

DEJA VU FOR SERBIAN ACADEMICS

by Michael J. Jordan


	It's almost deja vu for Zagorka Golubovic. Except
this time, it's even worse. In 1968, when Golubovic was
a 38-year-old anthropology professor at Belgrade
University, her classroom criticism of Yugoslavia's
communist regime helped spark a six-day protest in which
some 25,000 students and faculty barricaded themselves
in. Soon after, loyalty to the regime became a key
qualification for work. As a result, Golubovic and seven
others were banned from teaching in 1975, the only such
action ever taken in communist Yugoslavia.
	Today, Golubovic is just as unwilling to kow-tow to
authority. She and more than 100 outspoken colleagues
have rejected a new law demanding what amounts to an
oath of loyalty to Slobodan Milosevic, the increasingly
totalitarian Yugoslav president. The subsequent
dismissals--a few faculty were forcibly removed during
lectures and continued to teach out on the sidewalk--
have spawned a movement to create an "unofficial" system
of post-graduate studies.
	"I'm a person not easily disappointed or
frustrated, but I feel even more helpless than I did in
1968 or 1975 because at least then we felt we had some
autonomy," said Golubovic, who was recently in Budapest
to discuss creation of the Alternative Academic
Educational Network. "But we still believe we can do
something about it."
	Such optimism is rare nowadays in Serbia.
Milosevic's stable of rabid nationalists and unreformed
Communists have launched an all-out assault not only on
the university system but on the independent media. Not
surprisingly, these two sectors are virtually the last
vestiges of free thinking in Serbia. They were also
responsible for the most serious threat to Milosevic's
decade-long grip on power: the anti-government street
protests of winter 1996-1997.
	Curiously, the crackdown on both higher education
and the independent media comes in the wake of the
agreement signed by Milosevic and U.S. envoy Richard
Holbrooke. The deal averted NATO military strikes
against Serbian military facilities by promising some
sort of autonomy for Kosova, Serbia's war-ravaged
southern province. Belgrade conspiracy theorists suspect
that Holbrooke--in expressing the West's desperation to
halt the Kosova bloodshed--may have given Milosevic the
green light to bulldoze his domestic opponents. "We know
that compared with a bloody uprising and bloody
reaction, what happens to Serbian professors and the
media is puny," conceded Vojin Dimitrijevic, a prominent
law professor at Belgrade University. "But you cannot
count on a lasting settlement when you allow one partner
to enact brutally oppressive laws."
	Indeed, Milosevic's recent tactics do not augur
well for the Kosova cease-fire, say dissidents.
Milosevic is entrusted to serve up a palatable autonomy
plan for the ethnic Albanians of Kosova, who took up
arms for an independent state. But at the same time, he
crushes the few institutions of autonomy for his own
ethnic brethren.
	Would the Kosova Albanians even want what the rest
of Serbia has? It's enough to drive someone like
Dimitrijevic over the edge. The legal expert was vice
chairman of the UN Human Rights Committee from 1992-
1994. But in April 1992 he plummeted into a severe
depression when his worst predictions came true: war in
Bosnia, orchestrated by Milosevic. On a sabbatical in
Norway at the time, Dimitrijevic found some comfort in
the suggestion of his Norwegian psychiatrist: "Where you
come from, anyone who doesn't suffer psychological
problems is probably either abnormal or immoral."
	But Dimitrijevic recovered and has since
rediscovered his spirit of resistance. He is director of
the Belgrade Center for Human Rights. And since his new
dean sent him packing last month, he has helped
spearhead the new Alternative Academic Educational
Network. The post-graduate--albeit unaccredited--courses
the network will offer will almost certainly draw top-
notch students since they'll be taught by the cream of
Serbian scholars. Ultimately, these outcast professors
hope the network may lay the foundation for Serbia's
first independent university.
	The need for an alternative to the Serbian
universities is obvious, just as the Kosova Albanians
realized when they established their "shadow" school
system earlier this decade. The new university law
politicized the system overnight: Milosevic now picks
the education minister, who selects university deans,
who, in turn, choose faculty. Hiring is no longer the
job of a panel of experts or based on scholarly
criteria. A contract spells out loyalty to the dean.
This paves the way for less talented, but more loyal
faculty, while degrading the quality of education, said
Vladeta Jankovic, a literature professor and a
conscientious objector.
	The state is also driving a wedge between students
and faculty. Students have been mollified--for now--with
looser requirements for passing classes and more time to
take and re-take exams. Some deans, said Jankovic, are
also encouraging some students to inform on their
professors--who's talking politics, who's skipping
lectures.
	Not all students are playing along. When a
replacement for Jankovic was brought in from the
provinces, he said all 250 students rose and marched out
of the lecture hall. And a couple of professors grabbed
headlines last week by teaching on the sidewalks
immediately off campus, with their students looking on.
	"We're supposed to teach students facts, methods,
and how to think," Jankovic said. "To abuse that
position, to emphasize political affiliation, is
criminal. The regime wants blind obedience, but we must
set an example for the public--that we should not be
afraid."

The author is a Budapest-based journalist (e-mail:
michaeljjordan@csi.com).

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