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RFE/RL NEWSLINE

RFE/RL NEWSLINE Vol 2, No. 221, Part II, 16 November 1998


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RFE/RL NEWSLINE Vol 2, No. 221, Part II, 16 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

* OPPOSITION LEADS IN CZECH SENATE CONTEST

* MACEDONIAN COALITION HEADED FOR PARLIAMENTARY MAJORITY

* HAGUE COURT SENTENCES THREE FOR CRIMES AGAINST SERBS
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EAST-CENTRAL EUROPE

UKRAINE HOPES TO PAY GAS DEBT TO RUSSIA BY 1 JANUARY. Ihor
Bakay, head of the Naftohaz Ukrayiny company, has said
Ukraine will repay its debt for Russian gas supplies by 1
January, Interfax reported on 13 November. Ukraine agreed
with Russia last month to pay by barter the gas debt
accumulated in the fourth quarter of 1997 and during this
year Ukrainian First Deputy Premier Anatoliy Holubchenko said
Ukraine will deliver $500 million worth of food and $500
million worth of industrial products in payment for Russian
gas. Under a gas deal reached last week, Ukraine will receive
40 billion cubic meters of gas from Russia in 1999 as payment
for transit of Russian gas through its territory to Western
Europe. Ukraine's annual gas consumption totals 80 billion
cubic meters, of which only 18 billion cubic meters is
produced domestically. JM

UKRAINE OPENS GAS PIPE TO EASE ENERGY DEPENDENCE ON RUSSIA.
Ukraine has opened a 103 kilometer gas pipeline that will
carry domestically produced gas from Donetsk to Mariupol.
"Russia has in the past had the ability to exert pressure on
Ukraine, but it does not now," Reuters quoted President
Leonid Kuchma as saying at the official opening of the
pipeline on 13 November. Ukrainian Television commented that
the pipeline will help ensure that industrial giants in
Zaporizhzha and Donetsk Oblasts receive regular supplies. JM

KUCHMA DISSATISFIED WITH POWER SYSTEM, PARLIAMENT. President
Kuchma says that "the power structure determined in the
constitution by the former Supreme Council does not include
mechanisms that could induce the parliament to form a
majority and operate as a responsible, efficient
legislature," "Holos Ukrayiny" reported on 14 November. In
his opinion, Ukraine's inefficient parliament should either
dissolve itself or transfer its legislative powers to the
president or the cabinet. Kuchma said some 750 draft bills
are currently awaiting consideration by the Supreme Council.
He added that the parliament has viewed only one out of the
48 decrees he has issued this year to deal with urgent
economic matters. Kuchma said that even if he were to
dissolve the parliament, there may be no change since it is
necessary to amend the constitution "to lay down the levers
of coexistence and the principles of balance between the
parliament and the government." JM

LUKASHENKA DISCUSSES BELARUS-RUSSIA UNION WITH SELEZNEV.
Belarusian President Alyaksandr Lukashenka held talks with
Russian State Duma Chairman Gennadii Seleznev in Minsk on 13
November, "Novye izvestiya" reported. Seleznev told
journalists after the meeting, which took place behind closed
doors, that they discussed decisions related to the
Belarusian-Russian Union that were taken by the Union
Parliamentary Assembly in Yaroslavl earlier this month (see
"RFE/RL Newsline," 3 and 4 November 1998). According to
Seleznev, Lukashenka called the parliamentary assembly the
union's only functioning body. Interfax reported on 13
November that Seleznev said the Union of Belarus and Russia
may be transformed into a confederation without the need to
hold a referendum on the issue. "We only need to make
corresponding amendments to the union charter and elect a
single parliament," the agency quoted him as telling workers
at the Minsk Automotive Plant. JM

ESTONIA'S JUNIOR COALITION PARTNER TO GO IT ALONE? The board
of the Country People's Party (EME) has recommended to a
party congress in Paide that the EME run on its own list in
the March parliamentary elections, ETA reported on 15
November. The EME congress, for its part, reserved the right
to decide on whether to join an electoral alliance after the
parliament votes this week on whether to ban such alliances.
Prime Minister Mart Siimaan, who canceled a trip to Latvia in
order to attend the EME congress, urged the party to continue
to take part in the ruling coalition led by his Coalition
Party, warning that otherwise a right-wing electoral alliance
of the Fatherland Union, the Moderates, and the People's
Party will likely win the most votes at the March poll. JC

TALLINN RESPONDS TO FARMERS' DEMANDS. Agriculture Minister
Andrus Varik, meeting with farmers' representatives on 13
November, handed over written answers to demands made earlier
this year by the farming community, ETA reported. Varik said
there would be no sense in declaring 1998 a catastrophe year
in Estonia because there is no law regulating relief measures
in such a case. But he stressed that the government is trying
to find ways to compensate farmers for the poor harvest,
noting that it has already approved allocating some 227
million kroons (some $17.5 million) that it hopes to find
when this year's budget is revised. JC

LATVIAN PRESIDENT WANTS MAJORITY GOVERNMENT. Guntis Ulmanis,
commenting on differences between the People's Party and
Latvia's Way over forming a new ruling coalition, said that
"Latvia needs a majority government to ensure the stability
of the state and the government," BNS reported on 13
November. The two parties finished first and second,
respectively, in last month's general elections, but no
agreement has yet been reached on the People's Party joining
a three-party minority coalition led by Latvia's Way.
Meanwhile, Prime Minister-designate Vilis Kristopans of
Latvia's Way has said he plans to announce his government
lineup on 19 November. JC

AUSTRIAN CHANCELLOR IN WARSAW. Viktor Klima said during his
13 November visit to Warsaw that EU enlargement must take
place in such a way that EU nations do not suffer any losses,
PAP reported. He added that the "transition periods" helping
EU candidates adjust to the union's requirements are intended
as protection against losses. Polish Premier Jerzy Buzek said
Austria and Poland have a "nearly identical" vision of
Europe's development. He added that Poland's relations with
Austria are very good. JM

POLES NO LONGER REQUIRED TO HAVE TWO WEDDINGS. A law
recognizing the validity of a Church marriage took effect on
15 November, PAP reported. The law, passed earlier this year
in accordance with the 1993 Concordat Treaty between Poland
and the Vatican, states that marriages performed by clergymen
have the same binding legal status as civil ceremonies at
state registry offices. The law applies to all recognized
denominations in Poland. Under communism, only civil
marriages were recognized as legal. JM

OPPOSITION LEADS IN CZECH SENATE CONTEST. None of the 27
Senate seats contested in the 13-14 November ballot for the
upper house has been decided in the first round, which
required a majority vote. A second round, in which the top
two candidates will face each other, is to be held on 20-21
November. Candidates of the main opposition formation, the
Civic Democratic Party (ODS), will take part in 22 runoffs.
The governing Social Democratic Party (CSSD) will have 15
candidates in the second round and the four-party coalition
led by the Christian Democrats and the Freedom Union will
have 14 candidates. Communist candidates will take part in
the run-offs in three districts. Turnout for the Senate
contest was 42.3 percent and for the local elections (whose
results are to be released on 17 November) 46 percent. MS

CARDINAL ACCUSED OF INTERFERING IN POLITICS. The CSSD on 15
November accused Roman Catholic Cardinal Miloslav Vlk of
interfering in politics, saying he is sabotaging relations
with the state, AP reported. The CSSD statement follows an
exchange between Vlk and Prime Minister Milos Zeman last week
in which the cardinal said the government is unwilling to
agree on members for a committee set up to deal with the
issue of Church property confiscated by the Communists. Vlk
added that the CSSD does not enjoy the Church's confidence.
Zeman is now demanding an apology. MS

HUNGARY, SLOVAKIA AGREE ON IMPLEMENTING BASIC TREATY. Gabor
Bagi, deputy state secretary at the Hungarian Foreign
Ministry, said on 13 November that agreement has been reached
in Budapest on implementing the Hungarian-Slovak basic
treaty, Hungarian media reported. Bagi and Anton Pinter,
director-general of the Slovak Foreign Ministry, agreed to
set up 11 committees designed to coordinate the treaty's
implementation. In a major departure from past Slovak
positions, Pinter agreed that representatives of the
Hungarian minority in Slovakia and the Slovak minority in
Hungary will participate in monitoring the process. The
agreement is to be signed in Bratislava by the two countries'
foreign ministers on 18 November. MS

HUNGARIAN DEMOCRATIC FORUM LEADER UNDER CRITICISM. Hungarian
Democratic Forum (MDF) chairman Sandor Lezsak, as well as the
party's steering board and former parliamentary group, has
been blamed in a party resolution for the MDF's poor
performance in the elections earlier this year. The
resolution is to be submitted for approval at the party's
National Convention scheduled for 21 November. Media reports
suggest that Lezsak will be challenged at the convention by
Justice Minister Ibolya David for the party's chairmanship.
MS

SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE

MACEDONIAN COALITION HEADED FOR PARLIAMENTARY MAJORITY. The
center-right coalition of the Internal Macedonian
Revolutionary Organization (VMRO-DPMNE) and the Democratic
Alternative (DA) is ahead in the race for five out of seven
legislative seats. Voting for those seats was repeated on 15
November because of irregularities in the previous round,
Radio Skopje reported (see "End Note," "RFE/RL Newsline," 5
November 1998). If the final total is in keeping with the
preliminary results, the VMRO-DA coalition will have 63 out
of 120 seats and will not need additional coalition partners
in order to form a majority. Observers note, however, that
the two parties are likely to continue talks with the
Democratic Party of the Albanians in order to form a broader-
based government. U.S. Ambassador to Macedonia Chris Hill
recently urged DA leader Vasil Tupurkovski to include at
least one mainly Albanian party in the coalition, the
"Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung" reported on 14 November. PM

BELGRADE WARNS MACEDONIA OVER NATO BASE. Yugoslav Deputy
Foreign Minister Zoran Novakovic delivered an "energetic
protest" on 15 November to the Macedonian charge d'affaires.
He warned Skopje not to provide a base for NATO's proposed
rapid reaction force, which will rescue endangered
international monitors in Kosova (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 11
November 1998). Novakovic said that "any military action
[from Macedonian soil] against Yugoslavia would be contrary
to the long-term interests of the two countries.... It would
not be understandable [to Belgrade] that a friendly country
allows abuse of its territory for military actions against
another friendly, neighboring country." The VMRO-DA coalition
was not sympathetic to the NATO request during the election
campaign but has subsequently warmed to the proposal.
Observers suggested that offending Belgrade may be the price
Skopje will have to pay if it wants further integration into
Euro-Atlantic structures, which all political parties regard
as crucial. PM

SOLANA TELLS SERBS NOT TO HARM MONITORS. NATO Secretary
General Javier Solana said in Rome on 16 November that "NATO
will not tolerate that the verifiers [in Kosova] be attacked
or endangered.... A few days ago [NATO] decided on the
operational plan for the [rapid reaction] extraction force
and we are going to do our best...to guarantee [their]
security." The previous day near Duha, southwest of
Prishtina, a Yugoslav army vehicle fired a burst from a
machine gun over a car in which three U.S. diplomatic
observers were riding. An OSCE spokesman in Prishtina said
that "random firing is not in the spirit of the cease-fire
agreement." The Yugoslav army then argued in a statement that
"the members of the U.S. mission in the...car interpreted the
exhaust pipe [backfiring] as shooting," Reuters reported. PM

UCK CALLS FOR DONATIONS. The Kosova Liberation Army published
a statement in the Prishtina daily "Koha Ditore" on 15
November in which it told Kosovars that they "are obliged to
help the UCK fund inside the country [as well as abroad],
because by helping the war, they help freedom, independence,
and democracy in Kosova." PM

SERBIAN PRESIDENT URGES KOSOVARS TO JOIN TALKS. Milan
Milutinovic on 15 November called on Kosovars to join Serbian
officials in talks on 18 November in the presence of U.S.,
Austrian, Russian, and Chinese diplomats. Kosovar spokesman
Fehmi Agani has rejected that offer. In the past, Kosovar
leaders have rejected Serbian offers of talks as propaganda.
The Kosovar leadership argues that talks can take place only
after all Belgrade's forces have left the province and only
with a Yugoslav--not a Serbian--delegation that includes
Montenegrins. The U.S. and Austrian diplomats whom the Serbs
asked to attend have said they will be elsewhere on that
date. PM

SESELJ WANTS DODIK TO BECOME 'GOVERNOR OF ALABAMA.' NATO
peacekeepers told Serbian Deputy Prime Minister Vojislav
Seselj on 14 November that he is persona non grata in Bosnia
and must leave Banja Luka, where he was attending an
inaugural party for his political ally, Nikola Poplasen, as
president of the Republika Srpska. General Jacques Klein, who
is a deputy to the international community's Carlos
Westendorp, gave the order for Seselj's expulsion. Seselj
left peacefully, but said in Belgrade on 15 November that he
will order "10,000 baseball bats" to enable Serbs to resist
NATO. He added that moderate Republika Srpska Prime Minister
Milorad Dodik "works for the Americans [who should help him]
to become governor of Alabama," Radio B-92 reported. Poplasen
on 15 November nominated nationalist candidate Dragan Kalinic
to replace Dodik. Observers said that Kalinic is unlikely to
be able to form a parliamentary majority. PM

HAGUE COURT SENTENCES THREE FOR CRIMES AGAINST SERBS. On 16
November, the Hague-based war crime tribunal sentenced two
Muslims and their Croatian commander to a total of 42 years
in prison for crimes against Serbs at the Celibici
concentration camp in 1992. The court acquitted a third
Muslim. The 20 month-long trial was the longest the tribunal
has held and the first at which the defendants were convicted
of atrocities against Serbs. PM

ALBANIAN GOVERNMENT TAKES ACTION AGAINST CUSTOMS EVASION.
Deputy Prime Minister Ilir Meta ordered national customs
police on 15 November not to let any trucks into the country
unless the drivers first pay customs duties, dpa reported.
Meta told the cabinet that "truck drivers are seeking to
corrupt Albanian customs officials and bring goods into
Albania without paying customs duties." According to Albanian
Television, more than 50 trucks are lined up at three border
checkpoints with Greece and Macedonia and some have been
there for more than 10 days. Some two weeks ago, the
authorities sacked corrupt customs officials, whom the
truckers were accustomed to bribing. Finance Minister Anastas
Angjeli said the line of trucks is particularly long at the
Macedonian border crossing point of Qafe e Thanes. Angjeli
added that the government recently deployed "special police
groups...at all customs posts" to combat corruption,
including at ports and Tirana airport. FS

ISLAMIST MURDER SUSPECT SENTENCED IN ALBANIA. A Tirana court
on 14 November sentenced Claude Cheik Ben Abdel Kader to 20
years in prison for the murder of his Albanian translator
under circumstances that have not been fully clarified.
According to dpa, Kader told the court that he considers
himself a victim of Christian persecution and that he will
take revenge as soon as he leaves prison. Kader previously
told the court that he is an associate of Osama Bin Laden, a
Saudi millionaire believed to be the mastermind behind the
August U.S. embassy bombings in Kenya and Tanzania (see
"RFE/RL Newsline," 9 November 1998). He also said that his
mission in Albania was to organize fighters for the UCK.
Kader, however, failed to accomplish that aim, AP reported.
FS

ALBANIAN CONSTITUTIONAL COURT JUDGE LINKS BOMB TO REFERENDUM.
Constitutional Court Chief Judge Fehmi Abdiu told "Gazeta
Shqiptare" on 13 November that a bomb attack on his home two
days earlier was part of a plot to obstruct the 22 November
referendum on the draft constitution (see "RFE/RL Newsline,"
12 November 1998). Police spokesmen said they have arrested
eight suspects but did not disclose their identities. In
other news, Prime Minister Pandeli Majko, visiting Athens the
same day, urged Greeks not to view his countrymen as a nation
of criminals. He told a news conference that "Albanians in
Greece want to do honest work." There has been a growing
tendency among Greeks in recent years to link Albanian
migrant workers with crime. FS

DEMOCRATIC CONVENTION OF ROMANIA TO SPLIT? Valeriu Stoica,
deputy chairman of the National Liberal Party (PNL), said in
Targu Mures on 15 November that the "balance of forces within
the Democratic Convention of Romania (CDR) has changed" and
that while the PNL has "taken over the helm," its National
Peasant Party Christian Democratic (PNTCD) partner is divided
by conflict. Stoica said the PNTCD will be forced to sign a
new CDR protocol reflecting this change. Local branches of
the two parties "should be allowed to decide themselves"
whether to run on separate or joint lists in the local
elections scheduled for 2000, Stoica said. On 13 November,
the PNL National Council approved a 20-point program for
"cleansing and re-launching" the economy, saying it must be
implemented before the end of 1998. MS

LUCINSCHI SAYS HE MIGHT HAVE TO DECLARE EMERGENCY STATE...
President Petru Lucinschi told journalists on 13 November
that the country's economic crisis might force him to declare
a state of emergency. He refused to reply to a question about
whether he has such a prerogative under the constitution. He
added that he dismissed Transportation and Communication
Minister Tudor Leanca at the request of Premier Ion Ciubuc
and that the significance of that decision has been
"inflated." The dismissal of the government when the country
is facing a crisis would be "untimely," he commented,
according to RFE/RL's Chisinau bureau. MS

...HOPES TRANSDNIESTER SETTLEMENT IMMINENT. Lucinschi said he
hopes agreement on a special status for the separatists and
the withdrawal of Russian troops from the Transdniester will
be reached at the summit in Kyiv on 27-29 November. He said
one of the main unresolved problems is that of the military
equipment that Russia left in the region, adding that "in the
past three years, [Moscow] has withdrawn 3,900 soldiers but
only two tanks." The same day, Lucinschi received a telegram
from Gazprom director Rem Vyakhirev saying that in view of
Moldova's repeated failure to abide by agreements for
settling its debt, Gazprom will reduce and eventually cut off
supplies to Moldova. He added that his company is pulling out
of a deal to take over a controlling stake in the MoldovaGas
joint venture in exchange for part settlement of the debt by
government bonds. MS

BULGARIAN PARLIAMENT PARTLY OVERRULES PRESIDENTIAL VETO.
Lawmakers on 13 November overruled President Petar Stoyanov's
veto on one of the articles in the new media law and banned
broadcasts of television advertisements during prime time,
Reuters reported. This was the only article overruled by the
legislators, who accepted several other objections made by
Stoyanov and allowed, among other things, state television
and radio broadcasts in the languages of Bulgaria's ethnic
minorities, including Turkish. MS

BOMB EXPLODES OUTSIDE DEPUTY'S HOME. A bomb exploded on 15
November outside the home of Georgi Shishkov, a parliamentary
deputy representing the Union of Democratic Forces, BTA
reported. A few months ago Shishkov accused former high-
ranking Socialist Party officials of involvement in
smuggling. He was at home when the blast occurred but was not
injured. MS

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