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RFE/RL NEWSLINE

RFE/RL NEWSLINE Vol 2, No. 225, Part II, 20 November 1998


________________________________________________________
RFE/RL NEWSLINE Vol 2, No. 225, Part II, 20 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

* KUCHMA CALLS FOR MONEY EMISSION

* EU, U.S. ENVOYS WANT SWIFT PROGRESS ON KOSOVA ACCORD

* MACEDONIA WANTS DISPUTE OVER NATO FORCE SETTLED
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EAST-CENTRAL EUROPE

KUCHMA CALLS FOR MONEY EMISSION... Ukrainian President
Leonid Kuchma, addressing the parliament on 19 November,
presented an economic stabilization program for 1999,
Ukrainian and Western media reported. Kuchma called on
lawmakers to authorize printing more money for the cash-
strapped economy. "We need to inject more payment tools
into the economy where money has stopped serving its
primary goal," he commented. Kuchma criticized the
National Bank for maintaining the "artificial stability"
of the hryvnya. He said the bank profited through
transactions with bonds instead of providing loans to
enterprises. Kuchma urged the Supreme Council to adopt a
special bill on the National Bank and its supervisory
council in order to gain more control over bank
policies. JM

...OPTS FOR FREE-FLOATING HRYVNYA... Kuchma said the
hryvnya should no longer be kept within the government-
set trading band but should be allowed to float freely.
He said that while the Ukrainian hryvnya was
"artificially supported" over the past two years,
Ukraine's trade partners devalued their currencies,
which hurt Ukrainian exporters. "Today it is necessary
to discontinue the excessive regulation of foreign
currency purchases by Ukrainian export enterprises,
liberalize the currency market, and discontinue its
mechanical regulation," he argued. JM

...APPEALS TO PARLIAMENT NOT TO OUST GOVERNMENT. Kuchma
also said he still backs the government and the National
Bank leadership. "I ask the parliament not to create
unnecessary tension around the issue of the government's
possible dismissal. Such a step would be not only
untimely and senseless, but also dangerous for the
state," he commented, adding that a crisis in the
National Bank would be even more dangerous than in the
government. Kuchma urged the parliament to adopt a 1999
budget with a deficit of 0.6 percent of GDP and to
consider a draft bill on the privatization of
Ukrtelecom, Ukraine's telecommunications giant. JM

LUKASHENKA SAYS 'NO CATASTROPHE' OVER FOOD PROVISION...
Belarusian President Alyaksandr Lukashenka on 19
November attended a meeting of the "nationwide
headquarters," an emergency task force set up last week
to deal with the shortages of food and consumer goods
(see "RFE/RL Newsline," 12 November 1998), Belarusian
Television reported. Lukashenka commented, "I have the
impression that there is no catastrophe in Belarus, no
collapse or crisis in provisions for the population." He
argued that prices of foodstuffs in Belarus are
"distorted," being 200-300 percent lower than in Russia
or Ukraine, and that food is being smuggled to those
countries. And he admitted that the administrative
measures to control prices have proved inefficient and
the government has been forced to increase prices "to
save the production [sector]." JM

...BLASTS PREMIER FOR DOUBLING VODKA PRICE... Lukashenka
has sharply criticized Prime Minister Syarhey Linh for
allowing prices of Belarusian vodka to double this week.
"You simply hate your people. If you had respected them,
you would not have done this. Why are you discrediting
your country and yourself?" he asked Linh in the
presence of television cameras. The president added that
the price of vodka should have been increased "calmly,
in three or four goes." He ordered the prime minister to
compensate for the price hike by increasing monthly
wages by the amount it costs to buy several bottles of
vodka. A half-liter bottle of Belaya Rus vodka now costs
185,300 Belarusian rubles ($2.5 according to the
official exchange rate). JM

...THREATENS DISMISSALS OVER COMMODITY SHORTAGES.
Lukashenka also ordered the government "to introduce
order in the trade sector. "You have to put pressure on
all local administration: governors and city and raion
executive committee heads. They should grow pale and
blush over how their trade is being conducted," the
president said. He also warned the government not to use
Belarus's emergency food reserves "sooner than January-
February and without my knowledge." Lukashenka
threatened "the most severe consequences" for
agricultural sector officials and dismissals in the
trade sector unless the situation in the food market is
stabilized within the next two weeks. JM

BRZEZINSKI URGES RUSSIA TO ACKNOWLEDGE BALTIC OCCUPATION
UNLAWFUL. Addressing a conference in Stockholm on
security and cooperation in the Baltic region, U.S.
political scientist and former presidential security
adviser Zbygniew Brzezinski urged Russia to formally
repudiate its stand that the 1940 occupation of the
Baltic States was lawful, BNS reported on 19 November.
Pointing to a Russian Foreign Affairs Ministry document
earlier this year claiming that the Baltic States had
joined the Soviet Union legally and on a voluntary
basis, Brzezinski argued that such an attitude "arouses
a feeling of insecurity" among the three countries. He
also repeated the idea, expressed earlier this week
during his visit to Vilnius, of a charter between NATO
and the Baltic States to improve security and confidence
in the region. JC

ESTONIAN RULING PARTY TO DECIDE NEXT WEEK ON CABINET
RESHUFFLE. Estonian Prime Minister Mart Siimann's ruling
Coalition Party has postponed taking a decision on a
possible cabinet reshuffle until 25 November, Reuters
reported on 19 November, quoting a party spokesman. At a
news conference the previous day, Siimann had expressed
annoyance with one of his party's junior coalition
partners, the Country People's Party, which recently
voted, together with the opposition, against electoral
alliances (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 18 November 1998).
Siimann neither denied nor confirmed rumors he is
considering replacing Environment Minister Villu Reiljan
and Agriculture Minister Andres Varik, both members of
the Country People's Party, according to BNS. JC

MERI PROMULGATES LAW BANNING ELECTORAL ALLIANCES.
Estonian President Lennart Meri on 19 November
promulgated the law banning electoral alliances, which
was passed by the parliament earlier this week, ETA
reported. In a statement, Meri said he hopes that
Estonian parties will start merging so that the Estonian
political landscape can be "brought into a more orderly
situation before the [March 1999] elections. Otherwise,
we could be in a situation after the elections where the
disputes [between] smaller and medium-sized parties will
not be much different from the disputes in the
[electoral alliances] era." He also urged parties to
name their cooperation partners in a new cabinet as soon
as possible, commenting that the voter does "not want to
buy a pig in a sack." JC

LATVIAN PREMIER-DESIGNATE OPTS FOR MINORITY GOVERNMENT.
Vilis Kristopans told journalists on 19 November that he
intends to form a minority government, Reuters and BNS
reported. He said he will form a three-party coalition,
composed of his Latvia's Way, the Fatherland and Freedom
party, and the New Party, and will offer one or two
portfolios to groups outside the coalition to bolster
support both in society and the parliament. He also said
he had offered the centrist People's Party, which won
the elections, the post of agriculture minister but did
not invite it to formally join the coalition, an offer
the People's Party rejected. "Diena" reported on 20
November that the non-coalition ministers could come
from either the leftist Social Democrats or the Greens.
Kristopans has said he will name his government lineup
next week. The three-party coalition will have 46 seats
in the 100-strong parliament. JC

LITHUANIANS WANT TO KEEP DEATH PENALTY. According to a
poll conducted by the opinion and market research center
Vilmorus earlier this month, 78 percent of Lithuanians
do not approve of banning capital punishment, BNS
reported on 19 November. Sixteen percent of respondents
said they are in favor of such a ban, while 6 percent
said they have no opinion on the subject. At the
beginning of this week, the Constitutional Court began
considering whether capital punishment contravenes the
basic law (see "RFE/RL Newsline, 18 November 1998). JC

POLAND SIGNS COOPERATION ACCORDS WITH KYRGYZSTAN. Polish
President Aleksander Kwasniewski and his Kyrgyz
counterpart, Askar Akayev, met in Warsaw on 19 November
and signed a declaration on developing friendly
relations and cooperation, PAP reported. Akayev is the
first president from the former Soviet Central Asian
republics to visit Poland. He said in Warsaw that
Kyrgyzstan wants to make use of Poland's exemplary
experience in economic and political transformation in
his country's next stage of reform. The total volume of
trade between Poland and Kyrgyzstan was $5.5 million
last year. "This is much too small," Kwasniewski
commented. Akayev pledged to introduce privileges for
Polish investors in Kyrgyzstan. JM

SLOVAK PREMIER ON GOVERNMENT PRIORITIES. Speaking to the
parliament on 20 November, Mikulas Dzurinda said his
cabinet is determined to make human and minority rights
a top priority in its program and to work harder for
membership in NATO and the EU. Earlier on 20 November,
the government approved its program, which provides,
among other things, for the restructuring and the
privatization of banks with the help of foreign
investors, Reuters reported. MS

SLOVAKIA, GREAT BRITAIN SIGN MILITARY ACCORD. British
Armed Forces Minister Douglas Henderson on 20 November
signed with his Slovak counterpart, Pavol Kanis, a
memorandum of understanding providing for cooperation
between the two countries' armed forces, including the
sharing of know-how and experience in strategic
planning. Henderson said Britain is looking forward to
the "near future when Slovakia will be a full member of
NATO" and that it is "well placed to be at the head of
any expansion" of the organization, AP reported. But
according to Reuters, Henderson said that the April 1999
Washington summit will "want to assess the consequences"
of the new members' accession to NATO before considering
the entry of others. MS

HUNGARIAN BORDER GUARDS TURN BACK ROMANIAN SOLDIERS.
Hungarian border guards on 17 November turned back a
group of Romanian soldiers heading for a NATO
Partnership for Peace training exercise in Slovenia
because they lacked transit permits, Reuters reported
two days later, quoting a border guards spokesman. The
Hungarians said the soldiers could cross as tourists
without weapons. RFE/RL's Romanian service reported that
the unit did cross without arms and that the Romanian
side has launched an investigation into the incident.
The Hungarian Constitution stipulates that in the
absence of parliamentary approval or a valid
international treaty, foreign military troops cannot
cross Hungarian territory or be deployed or stationed in
the country. Romanian General Staff chief Constantin
Degeratu is scheduled to hold a press conference
explaining "the circumstances of Romania's non-
participation" in the exercise, Romanian state radio
announced on 20 November. MS

SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE

EU, U.S. ENVOYS WANT SWIFT PROGRESS ON KOSOVA ACCORD.
The U.S. envoy to Kosova, Christopher Hill, and his EU
counterpart, Wolfgang Petritsch, called for swift
progress on talks between Belgrade and the ethnic
Albanian leadership on an accord granting Kosova
autonomy, AFP reported on 19 November. Petritsch and
Hill made their comments after meeting in Vienna. In New
York, the UN Security Council called for the "early
deployment" of the international "verifiers," who are to
monitor the withdrawal of Serbian forces from Kosova. In
a statement, acting U.S. ambassador to the UN Peter
Burleigh said the council is concerned about "persisting
tensions" in many areas in Kosova. PB

MONTENEGRO CONDEMNS FINE, CONFISCATION OF WEEKLY.
Montenegrin Information Minister Bozidar Jaredic said on
19 November that the seizure by Serbian authorities of
copies of the weekly "Monitor" was a "blatant violation
of relations between the two republics," the independent
Belgrade-based news agency BETA reported. Jaredic said
that this action "will contribute to the further
deterioration of relations between the two federal
units." "Monitor" is published in the Montenegrin
capital Podgorica. In addition, a Serbian court fined
the weekly the maximum 1.2 million dinars (about
$120,000) for publishing a picture of a clenched fist,
the symbol of a Belgrade University student group that
has called for the overthrow of Yugoslav President
Slobodan Milosevic. Drasko Djuranovic, chief editor of
"Monitor," said he had not been notified about the
decision but added that "in this country of miracles,
everything is possible." PB

MACEDONIA WANTS DISPUTE OVER NATO FORCE SETTLED. Ljubco
Georgievski, the expected prime minister-designate, said
on 19 November that he wants the West to help soothe
tensions caused by the planned deployment of a NATO
rapid reaction force in Macedonia, Reuters reported.
Georgievski said "we would be happy if this question
were diplomatically coordinated with [Yugoslavia] so we
can openly make the final decision." He added that "it
would not be good if Yugoslavia took this as a hostile
act as it has the last few days." Jacques Huntzinger,
the French ambassador to Macedonia, said he had
discussed the issue with both Georgievski and Yugoslav
President Slobodan Milosevic, but he would not comment
further. The rapid reaction force is to be deployed in
Kosova to rescue some of the 2,000 unarmed "verifiers"
in the Serbian province if they become endangered. U.S.
General Wesley Clark, NATO's supreme allied commander in
Europe, will visit Macedonia on 23 November to discuss
the force. PB

MACEDONIAN PARLIAMENT CONVENES. The newly elected
Macedonian parliament convened for the first time on 19
November, AP reported. The assembly, in which a center-
right coalition has a majority, elected law professor
Slavo Klimovski as speaker. PB

BOSNIAN SERBS BACK DOWN ON DINAR. The Yugoslav federal
authorities announced in Belgrade on 19 November that
Republika Srpska Prime Minister Milorad Dodik told
Yugoslav Deputy Prime Minister Jovan Zebic that Banja
Luka will use the same exchange rate between the
Yugoslav dinar and the German mark as is used by the
Belgrade authorities, RFE/RL's South Slavic Service
reported. The Yugoslav government had announced on 12
November that it would not allow the further transfer of
dinars to the Republika Srpska until the Bosnian Serb
government lowered its official exchange rate from 7.5
dinars to the German mark to 6 dinars, which is the
official rate in Yugoslavia. The Bosnian Serb government
shortly before had adopted the rate of 7.5 to 1, which
is approximately the black market value. PM

U.S. SAYS SERBS USED TEAR GAS, NOT CHEMICALS IN BOSNIA.
The U.S. State Department said on 19 November that it
believes Serbs used tear gas against Muslims during the
Bosnian war. But it added that it has no evidence that
chemical weapons were used, as Human Rights Watch
charged the same day. State Department spokesman James
Rubin said Washington will study the Human Rights Watch
report, which called on the international community to
investigate whether Serb forces used the BZ chemical
nerve agent during the siege of Srebrenica. Some 35
survivors of that attack said Serb mortars released a
low-hanging colored cloud that caused people to have
hallucinations. The human rights organization said that
it failed to find any physical evidence of a chemical
attack. Its findings were turned over to the war crimes
tribunal at The Hague. PB

WESTERN OFFICIAL EXPECTS SIGNING OF BOSNIAN-CROATIAN
DEAL. Jacques Klein, the deputy high representative in
Bosnia, said on 19 November that he is optimistic that a
deal on special relations between Croatia and the
Muslim-Croatian half of Bosnia will be signed in Zagreb
in the next few days, Reuters reported. The pact was to
be signed on 16 November, but Muslim-Croatian Federation
President Ejup Ganic did not show up at the signing
ceremony (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 17 November 1998). PB

CENTRAL EUROPEAN INITIATIVE MEETS IN ZAGREB.
Representatives of the governments of 16 European
countries, including 12 prime ministers, opened a three-
day gathering of the Central European Initiative (CEI)
in Zagreb on 19 November. Business leaders are also
attending the meeting. Croatian Economic Minister Nenad
Porges said the previous day that the gathering will
demonstrate "that central and southern European
countries make up a specific, separate European region
that is capable of competing with other European
countries in attracting foreign investments." Prime
Minister Zlatko Matesa called the meeting "the most
significant foreign-policy event held in Croatia since
it gained independence" in 1991. Austria and Italy are
the only members of the CEI that also belong to the EU.
The other 14 are former communist countries: Hungary,
Poland, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Albania, Bulgaria,
Moldova, Romania, Croatia, Slovenia, Bosnia-Herzegovina,
Macedonia, Ukraine, and Belarus. PM

CROATIAN POLL SHOWS PEOPLE WANT CHANGE. A survey
published on 19 November showed that two-thirds of
Croats believe it is time for a change and want a new
party to run the next government, Reuters reported. And,
when asked which party they supported, President Franjo
Tudjman's ruling Croatian Democratic Union (HDZ) only
had the support of 21 percent of respondents, the same
percentage as the opposition Social Democrats, the
former Communists. Some 75 percent of those surveyed
said some political power should be transferred from the
presidency to the parliament and the government. The
poll was conducted by the Puls agency and was sponsored
by the U.S.-based International Republican Institute.PB

ROMANIAN OPPOSITION THREATENS TO BOYCOTT PARLIAMENT. Ion
Iliescu, chairman of the Party of Social Democracy in
Romania (PDSR), says his party will boycott
parliamentary debates unless the ruling coalition signs
a written pledge to respect the opposition's right to
express its views in the legislature. Other opposition
parties have they are ready to join such a boycott,
which, Iliescu said, will trigger early elections.
Iliescu made the statement after the Senate on 19
November voted against debating a PDSR motion on non-
respect for the law-based state. The parliamentary
coalition said that the motion was unconstitutional
because it criticized President Emil Constantinescu,
noting that the basic law stipulates that the parliament
can debate only motions against the government. MS

EXTREMIST ROMANIAN POLITICIAN FINED IN CIVIL LIBEL CASE.
The Supreme Court of Justice on 19 November ordered
Greater Romania Party chairman Corneliu Vadim Tudor to
pay more than $2,000 in damages for having slandered the
Romanian Writers' Union, Mediafax reported. Several
hundred libel cases have been brought against Tudor, who
enjoys parliamentary immunity. The union sued Tudor in
1995, and Tudor agreed to renounce his immunity to
appear in court, having already won twice in lower
courts. The decision of the Supreme Court is final, but
Tudor says he will take his case to an international
tribunal. MS

BULGARIA RECEIVES SECOND IMF LOAN TRANCHE. An IMF
spokeswoman on 19 November confirmed that Bulgaria has
met the targets laid down in a three-year $864 million
extended agreement and has been allowed to make a second
$73 million drawing from the loan, an RFE/RL
correspondent in Washington reported. The loan was
approved by the IMF's executive board in September.
Meanwhile, the World Bank has approved a new $80 million
loan to help Bulgaria upgrade its social protection
system. MS

BULGARIAN STRIKING MINERS IGNORE MINISTER'S WARNING.
Workers on strike at a lead and zinc mine in southern
Bulgaria are ignoring Finance Minister Muravei Radev's
warning that the pit might close unless they go back to
work. About 500 miners at the Zlatograd branch of the
GORUBSO firm have been on strike for nine days to demand
wage increases of up to 200 percent. The Finance
Ministry says the Zlatograd firm has incurred losses of
800 million leva ($446,800) in its core activities
between June and September this year and that its debt
stands at 5.7 billion leva ($3.18 million), Reuters
reported. A similar protest by miners at Zlatograd last
February did not result in a pay increase for the
strikers. MS

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