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RFE/RL NEWSLINE

RFE/RL NEWSLINE Vol 2, No. 223, Part II, 18 November 1998


___________________________________________________________
RFE/RL NEWSLINE Vol 2, No. 223, Part II, 18 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 TO DISCUSS $100 MILLION LOAN TO BELARUS

* U.S. WARNS UCK AGAINST 'AGGRESSION'

* ALBANIAN OPPOSITION WANTS REFERENDUM DELAYED

End Note: AVERTING 'ONE STATE--TWO SOCIETIES' IN ESTONIA
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EAST-CENTRAL EUROPE

UKRAINIAN CABINET PRESENTS 1999 DRAFT BUDGET TO PARLIAMENT...
The Ukrainian government presented a 1999 draft budget to the
Supreme Council on 17 November, Ukrainian Television and AP
reported. The draft calls for a budget deficit of 0.6 percent
of GDP and an inflation rate of 7.8 percent. It also foresees
that the economy will grow by 1 percent next year. Finance
Minister Ihor Mityukov said the government plans to raise
23.1 billion hryvni ($6.74 billion) in budget revenues in
1999. National Bank Chairman Viktor Yushchenko said the
bank's goal in 1999 is to preserve the hryvnya exchange rate
at 4 hryvni to $1. And Economy Minister Vasyl Rohovyy told
the parliament that GDP this year is expected to fall by 1.5
percent instead of growing by 0.5 percent, as previously
projected. JM

...FACES HARSH CRITICISM. Parliamentary Budget Committee head
Juliya Tymoshenko of the opposition Hromada party said the
presented draft is "a budget of state catastrophe. It's good
only as a manual for mass destruction, because it would not
allow anyone to survive," AP quoted her as saying. She urged
lawmakers to revise the document. The Progressive Socialist
Party caucus in has gone on a hunger strike to protest the
fact that the government did not accept their proposal to
increase the subsistence minimum and the minimum wage. JM

KUCHMA, BEREZOVSKII AGREE ON CIS REFORM. Ukrainian President
Leonid Kuchma met with CIS Executive Secretary Boris
Berezovskii in Kyiv on 17 November and "generally" supported
Berezovskii's proposals to reform the CIS, Ukrainian
Television reported. In particular, Kuchma stressed the need
for economic cooperation within the CIS and backed
Berezovskii's plan to create a CIS economic council at the
level of deputy prime minister. Kuchma and Berezovskii also
agreed on the need to create a CIS free trade zone, which the
latter described as "major direction in reforming the CIS."
And both agreed that the CIS countries should be allowed to
decide for themselves to which CIS bodies they will belong.
JM

IMF TO DISCUSS $100 MILLION LOAN TO BELARUS. The IMF on 17
November said it may loan $100 million to Belarus if the
country begins reforming its economy, AP reported. An IMF
mission that has been Belarus for the past two weeks said the
Belarusian government has agreed to some IMF demands. If
these demands are met, the mission will return to Belarus in
December "to discuss the credit of about $100 million," a
mission representative said. The loan could be released in
February or March 1999. Belarusian National Bank Chairman
Pyotr Prakapovich told Belarusian Television on 17 November
that "immediately after [the disbursement of the loan] or
even simultaneously [Belarus and the IMF] will begin the next
stage of work for releasing the main credit, which is a more
significant sum." Prakapovich pledged to establish a "single
cash and non-cash national currency rate on the domestic and
foreign markets" in 1999. JM

ESTONIAN PARLIAMENT VOTES TO BAN ELECTORAL ALLIANCES.
Lawmakers on 17 November voted by 66 to five with five
abstentions to ban electoral alliances, ETA and BNS reported.
Eighteen deputies, mostly from the ruling coalition, did not
take part in the vote. Observers believe that as a result of
the ban, only six to eight political parties will win seats
in the next parliament, compared with 12 in the current
legislature. Among those parties whose entry into the next
parliament appears threatened is the Coalition Party, the
senior partner of the ruling coalition. According to recent
opinion polls, support for the Coalition Party has slipped
below the 5 percent necessary to win parliamentary seats. The
ruling coalition had intended to renew its electoral
alliance, while several right-wing parties had also been
contemplating forming such an alliance. Parliamentary
elections are scheduled to take place in Estonia in March
1999. JC

ESTONIAN GOVERNMENT CUTS 1999 BUDGET. The cabinet on 17
November approved cutting next year's budget by 800 million
kroons ($62 million), based on a projected GDP growth of 4
percent, ETA reported. As a result of that cut, local
municipalities will receive considerably less money, as will
those ministries whose budgets were expected to show the
biggest growth next year, including the Interior Ministry.
The opposition had rejected the original 18.45 billion kroons
budget, which was based on GDP growth of 6 percent, as overly
optimistic. JC

BRZEZINSKI PREDICTS 'HARD FIGHT' FOR LITHUANIA IN NATO ENTRY
BID. U.S. political scientist and former presidential
security adviser Zbigniew Brzezinski told Lithuanian
lawmakers in Vilnius on 17 November that a decision to invite
Lithuania to join NATO will "depend on a hard political fight
in the U.S.," BNS reported. Pointing to a "pragmatic concern
for what happens in Russia," Brzezinski said it is unlikely
that all three Baltic States would join NATO in the second
phase of enlargement. A possible alternative, he continued,
would be admitting just one Baltic State that meets
membership criteria and is "less provocative to the Russians
because it is not engaged in deep ethnic problems of an
internal nature and also because it is geographically a
little more removed." Commenting that this is "clearly the
case of Lithuania," Brzezinski warned "it will take a very
major political effort to make that possibility a practical
deal." JC

LITHUANIAN CONSTITUTIONAL COURT CONSIDERS DEATH PENALTY
ISSUE. The Constitutional Court has begun considering whether
capital punishment contravenes the country's basic law, BNS
reported on 16 November. In January, a group of parliamentary
deputies appealed to the court to rule whether the death
penalty violates constitutional provisions such as the one
stipulating that the "human right to life is protected by
law." The court has already asked state and public
institutions to submit their opinion on the issue. In 1995,
then President Algirdas Brazauskas decreed a moratorium on
carrying out death sentences until a decision is taken on
capital punishment. Ten people who have been sentenced to
death since then are currently in prison pending such a
decision. JC

POLISH AVIATION PLANT TO DELIVER TO BRITISH AEROSPACE. The
PZL Mielec aviation company has signed a contract for the
delivery of parts to Hawk training planes produced by British
Aerospace, PAP reported on 17 November. The contract will
provide some 100 jobs in a local aviation plant that is now
on the verge of bankruptcy. AP suggests that the contract is
the first step in British Aerospace's bid to overhaul
Poland's air force. According to the agency, British
Aerospace's plan includes leasing Hawk planes to Poland,
modernizing Soviet-built MiGs, and training Polish pilots in
Great Britain. The need to modernize the Polish armed forces
was highlighted by the recent crash--the third this year--of
a Polish-built Iskra training plane. Two pilots were killed
in that incident. JM

HAVEL UNHAPPY ABOUT POLITICAL, SOCIAL CLIMATE. Marking the
ninth anniversary of the demise of the communist regime in
the former Czechoslovakia, Czech President Vaclav Havel on 17
November said he is "not particularly happy" about the
"political and social climate" in the country but is "not
losing hope" because he relies on the young generation, which
has not been "deformed by years of communism." Havel spoke to
journalists after he laid flowers on a spot marking the place
where students' protests sparked the so-called Velvet
Revolution in 1989. MS

CZECH REPUBLIC WANTS TO JOIN WEU NEXT YEAR. Czech Foreign
Minister Jan Kavan said on 17 November that the Czech
Republic wants to join the Western European Union by mid-
1999, CTK reported. Kavan, in Rome for a two-day meeting of
the WEU council, said he received support from German Defense
Minister Rudolf Scharping. Germany will hold the rotating WEU
presidency for six months beginning 1 January. Czech Defense
Minister Vladimir Vetchy said that investment in defense must
be increased by as much as 70 percent in order to bring the
Czech defense forces up to WEU standards. PB

NEW ROUND SET FOR SLOVAK PRESIDENTIAL ELECTIONS.
Parliamentary chairman Jozef Migas has set 3 December as the
date for the next round of presidential elections, AP
reported on 17 November. Candidates must be nominated by 23
November. But it is unlikely that the new president will be
elected at the beginning of December, as the ruling coalition
has submitted a proposal to change the constitution and have
the president elected by popular vote. Under the existing
law, the ballot to elect a new president has to be repeated
every 30 days until the necessary votes are achieved.
Slovakia has been without a president since 2 March, when
Michal Kovac's term expired. MS

HUNGARIAN PARTIES DISAGREE OVER 1999 BUDGET. "The legacy
bequeathed by the previous government will cost the 1999
budget some 200-300 billion forints ($1-1.5 billion)," Jozsef
Szajer, the leader of the coalition Federation of Young
Democrats-Hungarian Civic Party's parliamentary group, told
the parliament on 17 November. He said this legacy includes,
among others things, the Postabank deficit and secret clauses
in privatization contracts. Opposition Socialist Party caucus
leader Laszlo Kovacs said that revenues have been
overestimated in the draft budget. Gabor Kuncze, Free
Democrat parliamentary group leader, said his party will not
vote for the budget, and he attacked the cabinet's social
policy, the postponement of judicial reform, and the freezing
of civil servants' wages. MSZ

SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE

U.S. WARNS UCK AGAINST 'AGGRESSION.' State Department
spokesman James Rubin said in Washington on 17 November that
U.S. Ambassador to Macedonia Chris Hill, on a visit to
southwestern Kosova, delivered a message to officials of the
Kosova Liberation Army (UCK) in which Hill advised the
guerrillas "to exercise restraint and reduce their aggressive
presence on the highways." Rubin added that "if the [UCK]
doesn't hold to the cease-fire and conducts provocations,
that will negatively affect international support for their
cause." Meanwhile in New York, the UN Security Council passed
a resolution in which it "called upon the authorities of the
Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, the leaders of the [Kosovar]
Albanian community and all others concerned" to cooperate
fully with the Hague-based war crimes tribunal, Reuters
reported (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 17 November 1998). The next
day, court officials in The Hague said that they expect
"immediate compliance" from Belgrade. PM

KOSOVAR MODERATES READY TO COMPROMISE? NATO Secretary-General
Javier Solana said in Lisbon on 17 November that both sides
in the Kosova dispute "now have before them an opportunity to
reach a political settlement in this crisis, without which a
durable peace cannot be established." In Prishtina, Fehmi
Agani, who heads the Kosovar negotiating team, said,
reportedly for the first time, that the Kosovars might accept
something less than independence, namely republican status
equal to that of Serbia and Montenegro within federal
Yugoslavia. "A period of three to five years would be enough
to see whether such a union could function. If it could, we
would want to stay in it. If not, I don't see why we would
stay." Previously, shadow-state President Ibrahim Rugova and
his negotiating team were willing to consider an interim
international protectorate to be followed by independence as
the only alternative to immediate independence. Both Serbia
and Montenegro oppose republican status for Kosova. PM

UCK WANTS LAST WORD. Adem Demaci, who is the political
spokesman for the UCK, said in Prishtina on 17 November that
"Rugova can sign anything, but there can be no deal without
UCK consent." Jakup Krasniqi, who is a spokesman for the
UCK's military headquarters, added that "we have our remarks
and general comments" about Hill's draft political
settlement. He did not elaborate. The UCK maintains that
Kosova cannot remain in the same state as Serbia after
Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic's violent crackdown in
the province this year. PM

FRANCE SEEKS DIPLOMATIC ROLE IN KOSOVA. A spokeswoman for the
Foreign Ministry said in Paris on 17 November that Ambassador
to Macedonia Jacques Huntzinger will speak with Milosevic in
Belgrade on 18 November about a political settlement in
Kosova. Huntzinger will then go on to Prishtina to meet
Kosovar leaders. She added that "the question of autonomy,
which was endorsed by the [international] Contact Group, has
still not been broached by either side." France has sought
the leading role in NATO's planned rapid-reaction force,
which will rescue international civilian monitors if they
find themselves in danger (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 5 November
1998). Hill and U.S. special envoy Richard Holbrooke have led
recent diplomatic efforts to solve the Kosovar crisis.
Holbrooke wrote in his memoirs of the Dayton peace process
that the French government chafed under what Paris regarded
as undue U.S. preponderance in obtaining a settlement to the
conflicts in the former Yugoslavia. PM

NATO REQUESTS BASE IN MACEDONIA. In Brussels on 17 November,
the Atlantic alliance formally asked the government of
Macedonia for permission to station at least part of the
rapid-reaction force in that country. A response is expected
the following day. Officials of the outgoing government have
suggested that the answer will be positive. The incoming
cabinet is also likely to approve the request in order to
increase Macedonia's chances of early integration into Euro-
Atlantic structures (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 16 November
1998). Elsewhere in Skopje, a spokesman for the victorious
electoral coalition said that "if everything goes as we
expect, a government will be formed at the beginning of next
month." PM

U.S. KEEPS UP PRESSURE ON BANJA LUKA, SARAJEVO. State
Department spokesman Rubin said on 17 November that
Washington wants a moderate who is committed to the Dayton
peace agreement to head the new Bosnian Serb government (see
"RFE/RL Newsline," 16 November 1998). When a reporter asked
Rubin whether the Bosnian Serbs are free to select their own
prime minister, he replied: "Absolutely, and it's our choice
to not support those who don't support Dayton," Reuters
noted. Meanwhile in Sarajevo, a spokesman for the
international community's Jacques Klein said that Klein has
contacted Muslim and Croatian political leaders in order to
persuade the Muslims to sign a bilateral agreement with
Croatia soon (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 17 November 1998).
RFE/RL's South Slavic Service reported that the Muslim Party
of Democratic Action could soon split over the issue of
relations with Croatia. PM

CROATIAN RULING PARTY TRIES TO SHUT DOWN WEEKLY. Ivo Pukanic,
who is the editor of the independent weekly "Nacional," told
Reuters in Zagreb on 17 November that the Croatian Democratic
Community (HDZ) is trying to put him out of business. His
distribution agency, which is close to the HDZ, has not paid
him money owed for sales of "Nacional" since late October. He
needs the money to pay his debts to the state-owned printer
(see "RFE/RL Newsline," 21 October 1998). The Croatian
authorities have often used financial pressures to silence
independent voices in the media. Elsewhere, a spokesman for
the HDZ said that its youth wing will soon publish a calendar
to express solidarity with the 12 Croats in the dock at the
Hague-based war crimes tribunal. The calendar will be called
"We are with you, Hague 1999" and will feature one of the
indicted war criminals as a "Croatian knight" for each of the
12 months. PM

ALBANIAN OPPOSITION WANTS REFERENDUM DELAYED... Pellumb Cela,
a member of the Democratic Party and deputy chairman of the
Central Election Commission, formally requested on 16
November that the 22 November referendum on the new
constitution be delayed. He said that during the preparations
for that vote, the government committed several procedural
violations, "Gazeta Shqiptare" reported. Cela argued that
local election commissions failed to publish the voter
registration lists eight days before the referendum, as they
are obliged to do under the election law. He added that there
is confusion over the existence of two types of lists, one
prepared by local governments and another prepared by the
centrally appointed prefects' offices. Cela stressed that the
only valid lists are those compiled by local governments.
Commission Chairman Daver Cano rejected the complaint,
arguing that the law allows for changes to the lists up to 48
hours before the ballot. FS

...WHILE GOVERNMENT WARNS OF FRESH UNREST. Public Order
Minister Petro Koci told "Koha Jone" after a government
meeting on 16 November that "we have information that some
politicians are trying to cause new tension and instability
in order to make the referendum vote on the new constitution
invalid," dpa reported. "Shekulli" the next day quoted
unidentified government sources as saying that armed groups
in some northern districts are prepared to cause unrest
during the vote. Neither newspaper clearly identified any
suspects, but both suggested that the opposition Democratic
Party is behind the alleged groups. National Police Chief
Fadil Canaj told "Shekulli" that police have increased their
presence in what may prove the most "problematic" parts of
the country. Meanwhile, special police have begun guarding
the Tirana soccer stadium ahead of an 18 November match
against Greece. It is the first international match in
Albania since 1996. FS

DISPUTE CONTINUES OVER ROMANIAN EDUCATION LAW. The Chamber of
Deputies on 17 November voted to change the regulation
amending the 1994 education law after the opposition had
walked out during the debate that preceded the vote. The
chamber rejected an amendment submitted by Victor Ciorbea's
cabinet in early 1997, an amendment approved by the Senate in
late 1997, and a recommendation by its own Higher Education
Commission. Under the amended regulation, the law makes no
mention whatsoever of university instruction in the languages
of national minorities. The Senate's version of the law says
that such instruction can be provided only by special
sections within existing universities, while the commission
recommended that such sections be allowed only in
"multicultural universities." The chamber's version, which
was approved despite objections by the Hungarian Democratic
Federation of Romania, says multicultural universities must
have Romanian sections. The chamber's and the Senate's
versions of the law are to be debated by a mediation
commission of the two houses. MS

ROMANIAN LIBERAL LEADER SOFTENS EARLIER DECLARATION. Valeriu
Stoica, National Liberal Party (PNL) deputy chairman, said on
17 November that only public opinion polls can establish
which party is now the leading force in the Democratic
Convention of Romania (CDR). Stoica had earlier said the PNL
has "taken over the helm" in the CDR, replacing the National
Peasant Party Christian Democratic (PNLCD), which has been
divided by conflict. He had also commented that a new CDR
protocol reflecting this change would have to be signed (see
"RFE/RL Newsline," 16 November 1998). That statement was
criticized by PNTCD chairman Ion Diaconescu on 16 November.
Stoica said on 17 November that the growing strength of the
PNL is "not directed against the other parties" represented
in the CDR and that the PNL wants the PNTCD to be a "strong
party," Mediafax reported. MS

MOLDOVA TO BE INCLUDED IN SOUTHEAST EUROPE ACTION PLAN.
Foreign Ministry spokesman Oleg Serebreanu told journalists
on 17 November that the U.S. has decided to include Moldova
in the Southeast Europe Action Plan launched in February by
U.S. President Bill Clinton. He added that this is the
"Foreign Ministry's most important achievement thus far,"
Infotag reported. Initially, the action plan included only
Bulgaria, Macedonia, Slovenia, and Romania. Serebreanu said
that as a result of its inclusion in the plan, Moldova can
"count on further technical and other forms of assistance"
from the U.S., as well as on attracting foreign investments.
MS

U.S. HAILS BULGARIAN PROGRESS ON CURBING PIRATE COMPACT
DISCS. The U.S. trade representative says Bulgaria has made
significant progress in reducing the piracy of CDs and has
been moved to a lower level of concern on its "watch list,"
an RFE/RL correspondent in Washington reported on 17
November. Charlene Barshefsky on 4 November lowered Bulgaria
from the U.S. "priority watch list" to its "watch list." The
U.S. trade representative says Sofia has made substantial
progress and that with a few more steps toward CD title
verification and strengthened customs enforcement, it could
be removed from the list next year. MS

END NOTE

AVERTING 'ONE STATE--TWO SOCIETIES' IN ESTONIA

by Jan Cleave

	On several occasions this fall, Estonian President
Lennart Meri has said he regards the passage of amendments to
the country's citizenship law as one of the legislature's
most important tasks in the coming months. He has appealed to
lawmakers to overcome the "political passions" that have
built up over the bill of amendments. And he has stressed
that the bill's passage would be advantageous for both the
domestic and the foreign policy of the country.
	Like neighboring Latvia, Estonia has a sizable ethnic
Russian and Russian-speaking community and has been under
pressure from both Moscow and the West to pass amendments
making it easier for members of that community to become
citizens. Last month, Meri's Latvian counterpart, Guntis
Ulmanis, signed into law such legislation, but only after
several well-publicized incidents that prompted Moscow to
step up the pressure, the difficult passage of the amendments
through the Latvian parliament, and their final approval in a
referendum. Estonian lawmakers, meanwhile, have not yet
completed the second reading of amendments to the Estonian
citizenship law, nor has a date been set for such a debate.
	So far, the Estonian bill has been almost one year in
the making: last December, just days after Estonia was
included among the six countries singled out for "fast-track"
EU membership talks, the government submitted the bill to the
parliament. The draft provides for stateless children under
15 who were born after 26 February 1992 (when the country's
1938 citizenship law was reinstated) to gain citizenship. The
children's parents must apply on their behalf, must be
stateless themselves, and must have lived in Estonia for at
least five years. It is estimated that some 6,000 children
would be eligible for citizenship immediately and 1,500
annually thereafter.
	As was the case in Latvia (where the final version of
the amendments makes a similar provision for stateless
children who were born after 21 August 1991, when the country
regained independence), nationalist-inclined politicians
opposed the bill on the grounds that such children would not
be required to prove proficiency in the state language. Such
legislation, they argued, would discourage non-Estonians from
learning Estonian (according to the Open Estonia Foundation,
only 16 percent of non-Estonians speak Estonian fluently,
while 37 percent are deemed to have a satisfactory command).
When the bill was opposed by a majority of deputies in June,
the parliament postponed its second reading until the fall.
	Estonian politicians who greeted last month's signing
into law of the Latvian amendments have urged that Estonia
follow suit as quickly as possible. Such a development would
be advantageous on three fronts. At home, it would help speed
up the integration of Russian-speakers (who constitute an
estimated one-third of Estonia's 1.45 million population);
the government advocated this in its national integration
policy, aimed at averting what it calls "one state--two
societies." With regard to relations with Russia, it might
help expedite the signing of the border treaty, which Moscow
has repeatedly linked to an improvement in the situation of
Estonia's ethnic Russian and Russian-speaking community. And
as far as Tallinn's bid for Western integration is concerned,
it would meet requests by the European Commission to loosen
citizenship requirements.
	It is difficult to predict whether the events that
surrounded the Latvian citizenship law amendments will have
an influence on parliamentary deputies in Tallinn when they
resume debating the Estonian bill. On the one hand, there may
be a strong desire not to further prolong the amendments'
passage and to push for their speedy signing into law. On the
other hand, among deputies opposed to the bill, there may be
a degree of complacency based on the perception that
Tallinn's relations with Moscow are not as tense as Riga's
and that Estonia has, after all, already been included among
the fast-track EU membership candidates.
	Such complacency could have serious repercussions, not
least with regard to EU integration. In a recent document,
the Council of Europe's Parliamentary Assembly commented that
Latvia's chances of joining the EU would have been endangered
had last month's citizenship referendum failed. That vote did
not fail, however, and the European Commission is to consider
recommending that Latvia be moved up to the fast-track group
by the end of next year if Riga meets certain economic
criteria.
	In the meantime, the EU and other organizations will be
watching to see whether Estonia passes the citizenship law
amendments, thereby helping consolidate its position among
the fast-track candidates. If it does so without the kind of
adverse publicity that surrounded Latvia this summer, it will
also avoid tarnishing its image in the West and exacerbating
relations with Russia.

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