Man will occasionally stumble over the truth, but most times he will pick himself up and carry on. - Winston Churchill
RFE/RL NEWSLINE

RFE/RL NEWSLINE Vol 2, No. 236, Part II, 9 December 1998


________________________________________________________
RFE/RL NEWSLINE Vol 2, No. 236, Part II, 9 December 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
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Headlines, Part II

* ESTONIAN PARLIAMENT PASSES AMENDMENTS TO CITIZENSHIP
LAW

* HUNGARY, POLAND, CZECH REPUBLIC EXPECT TO JOIN NATO
'WITHIN WEEKS'

* DEMACI WANTS HILL TO GO

End Note: UKRAINE STRADDLES THE NEW DIVIDE
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EAST-CENTRAL EUROPE

LAZARENKO SEEKS RELEASE ON BAIL. Former Ukrainian
Premier Pavlo Lazarenko on 8 December asked to be
released on a bail of $3 million, AP reported. He is
currently being held in a Geneva jail. Lazarenko's
attorney, Paul Gully-Hart, said Lazarenko will prove his
bank deposits in Switzerland are legitimate and that the
money was not embezzled from Ukrainian state coffers.
The Ukrainian government said the same day that it will
not comment on the situation until all details of the
case are known. Deputy Foreign Minister Oleksandr
Maidannik said the affair is complicated by Lazarenko's
refusal to meet with officials from the Ukrainian
Embassy in Switzerland and the fact that he was carrying
a Panamanian passport when he was detained. PB

UKRAINIAN PRESIDENT SIGNS WORLD BANK DEAL. Leonid Kuchma
signed a draft law on a $200 million World Bank loan to
upgrade Kyiv's heating system, AP reported on 9
December. The deal must be ratified by the parliament
and is still subject to the IMF's approving the
government's reform program. The money would be used to
modernize the city's power plants. Kuchma also issued a
decree setting up a special economic zone in
Transcarpathia, the western part of the country that was
hit badly by floods last month. The decree grants tax
breaks and provides incentives for investment in the
region. PB

SHEREMET RECEIVES PRESS FREEDOM AWARD IN MINSK. The
Committee to Protect Journalists awarded Paval Sheremet
a press freedom award in Minsk on 8 December, Reuters
reported. Sheremet was prevented by Belarusian officials
from accepting the award at a ceremony in New York last
month. He said after receiving the award that the
support of the CPJ and other journalists had helped
secure his release from prison. Sheremet added that the
award could have been given "to many journalists in this
country who are forced to work in conditions of
dictatorship." Sheremet, Minsk bureau chief for Russian
Public Television and editor in chief of "Belarusskaya
Delovaya Gazeta," was arrested and imprisoned several
times during the past year. The best-publicized of those
incidents was his arrest on the Lithuanian border while
filming a report on Belarusian border controls. PB

BELARUS READY FOR INCREASED COOPERATION WITH RUSSIA.
Belarusian Premier Syarhey Linh met with Russian First
Deputy Prime Minister Vadim Gustov in Minsk on 8
December, Belapan reported. Linh expressed Minsk's
desire to increase cooperation with Moscow "in all
spheres." Gustov, who also met with President Alyaksandr
Lukashenka and attended a session of the Belarusian-
Russian Union's Executive Committee, said he is
concerned about a decline in bilateral trade. PB

ESTONIAN PARLIAMENT PASSES AMENDMENTS TO CITIZENSHIP
LAW. Lawmakers on 8 December voted 55 to 20 to pass
amendments to the citizenship law that will facilitate
granting citizenship to stateless children. Votes
against the amendments came from the right-leaning
Fatherland Union, the People's Party, as well as some
deputies from the Reform and Country People's Parties.
According to the amendments, stateless children under 15
who were born after 26 February 1992 (when the country's
1938 citizenship law was reinstated) are eligible 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. Those
opposed to the bill had argued in favor of applicants'
having to pass a language proficiency test. The
amendments will not go into effect until 12 July 1999,
allowing the Migration Office to first draft regulations
for their implementation. JC

LATVIAN PREMIER SAYS NO EXPANSION OF CABINET UNTIL NEXT
YEAR. Vilis Kristopans has said that any decisions on
enlarging the minority government coalition will not be
taken until next year, BNS reported on 8 December. "I do
not expect significant changes in the coalition soon, as
we have yet to see what kind of relationship will be
established between factions in the parliament,"
Kristopans told journalists. While stressing that the
reform of public administration must continue, he did
not rule out establishing new ministries, including a
Forest Ministry. Also on 8 December, BNS reported that
the Russian State Duma has approved sending a statement
to the Latvian parliament praising the country for
adopting more liberal citizenship legislation (see
"RFE/RL Newsline," 7 December 1998). JC

LANDSBERGIS SUBMITS ANTI-COMMUNIST BILL. Lithuanian
parliamentary chairman Vytautas Landsbergis has
submitted a draft law "On Assessing Communism and
Defining High Posts for Former High-Ranking Officials of
Occupational Regimes," BNS reported on 8 December. The
bill proposes that "former members and employees of the
Communist Party...should be [prevented] from occupying
state positions in the parliament, the President's
Office, the government, courts, diplomatic services,
army and educational institutions in the Republic of
Lithuania for five years." It would not apply to persons
who assumed high state positions after 21 December 1989,
when the Lithuanian Communist Party separated from its
Soviet counterpart. In June, the parliament approved a
bill, also proposed by Landsbergis, barring former KGB
agents from holding government and various private-
sector positions for 10 years. President Valdas Adamkus
refused to sign that bill, and the parliament
subsequently agreed to his proposal that it not be
enacted until 1 January 1999. JC

HUNGARY, POLAND, CZECH REPUBLIC EXPECT TO JOIN NATO
'WITHIN WEEKS.' The foreign ministers of the Czech
Republic, Hungary, and Poland told journalists in
Brussels on 8 December that they expect their countries
to join NATO "within weeks," an RFE/RL correspondent in
Brussels reported. Jan Kavan, Janos Martonyi, and
Bronislaw Geremek spoke after attending the annual two-
day meeting of the North Atlantic Council--NATO's
governing body. It was the first time that
representatives of the three countries were present at
such a gathering. They told journalists that they are
grateful to the parliaments of the current 16 NATO
states for having ratified their accession. NATO
Secretary-General Javier Solana told journalists that he
wants to welcome the three countries into the alliance
before NATO's 50th anniversary summit in April. MS

POLISH DEFENSE MINISTER SAYS MILITARY WILL MEET NATO
STANDARDS. Janusz Onyszkiewicz said in Warsaw on 8
December that the Polish military will meet NATO's
minimum military standards by early next year, PAP
reported. Onyszkiewicz was responding to a statement by
NATO Secretary-General Javier Solana, who said at the
NATO foreign ministers' meeting in Brussels that formal
invitations for Poland, Hungary, and the Czech Republic
to join the alliance will be issued only after basic
standards of interoperability are met. In other news,
Polish Prime Minister canceled a deal with Israel to arm
Polish helicopters with Israeli-made missiles. Buzek
said Israel did not test the missiles in Poland, as it
had said it would. The decision was sharply criticized
by the office of President Aleksander Kwasniewski. The
previous Polish government had cut the deal with Israel.
PB

STUDENT TAKES POLISH MAGAZINE TO COURT FOR RACIST JOKES.
A trial has began at which an African student is suing
the monthly magazine "Dobry humor" for allegedly
printing racist jokes, PAP reported on 8 December.
Samuel Fasso, a student in the southwestern town of
Legnica, said the magazine's use of such words as "ape,"
"cannibal," and "blackie" to describe Africans leads to
intolerant behavior among Poles toward non-whites. PB

KLAUS PROTESTS SUPREME COURT RULING. Vaclav Klaus,
Chamber of Deputies chairman and leader of the Civic
Democratic Party (ODS), on 9 December criticized the
verdict of the Supreme Court one day earlier
invalidating the election of ODS Senator Dagmar
Lastovecka. The court upheld the Social Democratic
Party's view that "Lidove noviny" and the Czech state
television unlawfully covered Lastovecka's campaign
during the 48-hour "silence period" stipulated by the
election law. In a statement to CTK, Supreme Court Chief
Justice Eliska Wagnerova dismissed Klaus's comment that
her ruling was "an unacceptable attempt to discredit the
elections as a fundamental pillar of democracy."
Wagnerova said Klaus fails to understand that in a
democracy, the result of the election is not determined
only by voting but also by the [election] taking place
"under predetermined constitutional and legal rules." MS

FORMER VIENNA MAYOR MEETS WITH HAVEL. Helmut Zilk, who
has been cleared by Czech officials of allegations that
he was a paid informer in the service of
Czechoslovakia's communist secret police (StB), met with
President Vaclav Havel in Prague on 8 December.
Presidential spokesman Ladislav Spacek said after the
meeting that both men considered the affair as closed
following their encounter, AP reported. The president
apologized to Zilk for the "share of guilt his office
bears in this affair," Spacek said. In late October,
Havel withdrew an award that Zilk was scheduled to
receive after allegations on his collaboration with the
StB were published in the German press. Zilk said before
meeting with Havel that he does not want any further
apology. MS

DZURINDA REPEALS MECIAR'S AMNESTIES. Prime Minister
Mikulas Dzurinda on 8 December revoked the controversial
amnesties granted by his predecessor, Vladimir Meciar,
to those involved in the kidnapping of former President
Michal Kovac's son in 1995 and to those responsible for
the failure of a referendum in 1997. The referendum,
which was supposed to be held on both NATO membership
and direct presidential elections, was boycotted by the
then opposition after the question on a popular
presidential ballot was removed. The referendum was
declared invalid because turnout was only 10 percent.
Dzurinda told journalists that "perpetrators of crimes
must never feel that if they commit them with the
blessing of official state institutions, they will also
be protected later by those state institutions," Reuters
reported. MS

HUNGARIAN PARLIAMENT APPROVES MAIN BUDGET FIGURES. The
parliament on 8 December approved the main points of the
1999 budget, Hungarian media reported. Total
expenditures are estimated at 3.51 trillion forint
($16.1 billion) and total revenues at 3.136 trillion
forint, resulting in a deficit of 374 billion forint or
less than 4 percent of GDP. Of the 900 draft amendments
submitted before the vote, only 108 were passed. MSZ

SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE

DEMACI WANTS HILL TO GO. Adem Demaci, who is the
political spokesman for the Kosova Liberation Army
(UCK), said in Prishtina on 8 December that U.S. envoy
Christopher Hill's latest plan for a political
settlement in Kosova does not discuss the future of the
UCK and is "fully unacceptable" (see "RFE/RL Newsline,"
8 December 1998). Demaci added that "Mr. Hill either
doesn't understand the Albanian problems, or he is
leaning toward the Serbs. The State Department should
reconsider the results of his work [and] send us more
qualified people." Demaci argued that the "UCK has no
illusion that the [Serbian] regime will overnight
democratize and that it will give up trying to find a
solution to the Kosova crisis by force. It would be
dangerous if the Albanians don't continue arming
themselves and preparing for resistance." Hill received
Washington's mandate to negotiate on Kosova earlier this
year because Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic
reportedly refused to deal with his predecessor, Robert
Gelbard. PM

ALBRIGHT CALLS FOR DEMOCRACY IN SERBIA. U.S. Secretary
of State Madeleine Albright called on Milosevic on 8
December to grant Kosova "substantial autonomy."
Speaking at the annual meeting of NATO foreign ministers
in Brussels, she urged the Atlantic alliance to find "an
appropriate way to support the democratic aspirations of
the Serb people. They have been silenced and shackled
far too long." Albright argued that "this crisis will
not end until Belgrade accepts [the province's] need
for, and right to, substantial autonomy." Albright also
said that the Kosovars and Serb leaders alike "have made
public statements that do not help the cause of peace.
Serb threats to launch a renewed offensive...are
dangerous and we view them with extreme seriousness."
She criticized the Kosovars' "insistence on rhetoric of
independence and [their] rejection" of the Hill plan. PM

SERBIA REJECTS HILL PLAN. Deputy Prime Minister Ratko
Markovic said in Belgrade on 8 December that the Hill
plan is unacceptable because it calls for the
constitutional "restructuring of all Yugoslavia" by
making Kosova the third federal republic. Markovic added
that a republic controlled by ethnic Albanians would
eventually seek independence. He told a visiting
delegation from the Russian State Duma that Serbia is
willing to "deepen" Kosova's autonomy in line with "the
highest international standards and the defense of the
rights of ethnic minorities," RFE/RL South Slavic
Service reported. PM

HUMAN RIGHTS WATCH CHARGES BELGRADE WITH DETENTIONS,
TORTURE. The New York-based Human Rights Watch issued a
report on 8 December claiming that the Serbian
authorities are holding up to 1,000 Kosovars. The report
notes that Milosevic promised U.S. special envoy Richard
Holbrooke in October that he would grant an amnesty to
all persons except war criminals (see "RFE/RL Newsline,"
3 December 1998). The study added that many detainees
"have been subjected to beatings and torture...and are
being tried on charges of 'terrorism.'" PM

HAGUE COURT CRITICIZES SERBIA. Top officials of the
Hague-based war crimes tribunal said in a statement on 8
December that the Serbian authorities should send former
army officers Mile Mrksic, Veselin Sljivancanin, and
Miroslav Radic to The Hague for trial. The statement
added that a Serbian court's ongoing investigation of
the three is only a ruse "designed to shield the accused
from international criminal responsibility." The Hague
tribunal indicted the three in 1995 in conjunction with
the 1991 killings of 260 non-Serbs who had been
undergoing treatment in the Vukovar hospital when in
November 1991 that town fell to Serbian forces. PM

SERBIAN ENVIRONMENTALISTS PROTEST NUCLEAR DUMPING.
Representatives of two Serbian environmentalist
organizations said in Belgrade that they oppose plans by
the domestic "nuclear lobby" to convert the former
Gabrovnica uranium mine in the Stara Planina region,
near Knjazevac, into a storage site for "nuclear waste
from all over Europe." The environmentalists added that
they have letters of support from "more than 100 non-
governmental organizations from around the world," the
independent daily "Danas" reported on 9 December. The
spokesmen called on the authorities to turn the region
instead into a national park. The environmentalists
added that the park could then become part of an
"international nature park" and that Belgrade and Sofia
signed an agreement to that effect in 1996. PM

MONTENEGRO UNDER THREAT? Justice Minister Dragan Soc
said in Podgorica on 8 December that the Montenegrin
authorities expect an attempt soon by Milosevic and his
Montenegrin allies to bring down that republic's
independent-minded government, an RFE/RL correspondent
reported from the Montenegrin capital. Soc added that
the "state bodies are preparing a new strategy against
possible attempts to destabilize the republic." He did
not elaborate. PM

MACEDONIA WANTS ASSOCIATE MEMBERSHIP IN EU. Prime
Minister Ljubco Georgievski told EU Foreign Relations
Commissioner Hans van den Broek in Brussels on 8
December that Macedonia wants associate membership
instead of its current partnership and cooperation
accord, Reuters reported. Georgievski told reporters
that he presented "all our arguments why we think our
relations should be upgraded and our complete readiness
to correct what [the EU thinks] has to be corrected in
the first 100 days" of his government's term in office.
Georgievski recently won the legislative election by
promising to improve the economy and end corruption. PM

ALBANIAN OPPOSITION PROTESTS PEACEFULLY. About 3,000
opposition supporters held a rally in central Tirana on
8 December to commemorate the 1990 student protests that
led to the collapse of communism. The rally took place
without incident, although two persons were arrested for
possession of explosives. The authorities had earlier
expressed concern about possible armed attacks on
government offices and public buildings (see "RFE/RL
Newsline," 7 December 1998). Addressing the rally,
former President Sali Berisha repeated his call for new
elections. Also on 8 December, opposition supporters
joined Democrats at a ceremony inaugurating a memorial
for the former student leader and opposition politician
Azem Hajdari, who was killed on 12 September. FS

ANOTHER ATTACK ON ALBANIAN POWER GRID. Unidentified
persons blew up a high-voltage electricity line near
Tirana on 7 December, cutting off power supplies to the
university campus and some government buildings. Police
spokesmen suggested that those responsible were seeking
to increase student discontent with the government. In
recent months, explosive devices have been set off at 15
electricity pylons throughout the country (see "RFE/RL
Newsline," 3 December 1998). FS

ALBANIANS THREATEN FORCE SHUTDOWN OF FACTORY. Residents
of the Durres district of Porto Romano have sent a
letter to city officials threatening to use armed force
to shut down a leather-processing plant that they claim
pollutes the environment, "Albanian Daily News" reported
on 9 December. The residents warned that "if you do not
shut down the factory that is poisoning us, we will pick
up our guns and solve this problem in our way." The
factory was built in 1990, but the health authorities
closed it down after several months because it caused
environmental damage. It was reopened in 1993. Officials
from the Regional Environmental Agency say that the
Public Health Institute's most recent tests show that
pollution levels do not exceed the legal norm. FS

ROMANIAN PRESIDENT WARNS ABOUT EXTREMISM. In a speech to
the parliament marking Constitution Day, Emil
Constantinescu on 8 December sharply criticized
extremist parties and their leaders, saying it is
"inadmissible" to allow their "undermining of democracy"
and the threat of a "renewal of dictatorship and of
[racial] discrimination." Alluding to recent statements
by the Greater Romania Party, Constantinescu denounced
threats of "24-hour justice performed in stadiums" and
"liquidation of political parties." In other news, Prime
Minister Radu Vasile on 8 December met with
representatives of major trade unions to discuss his
recent proposal for a six-month moratorium on labor
action as well as the implementation of the government
program envisaging the closure of loss-making
enterprises by 20 December. The government envisages
reducing the budget deficit by 15 percent after those
closures. Vasile said the moratorium may also be soon
discussed with the opposition parties. MS

MOLDOVAN LAWMAKERS PROPOSE GOVERNMENT STREAMLINING.
Deputies from the ruling coalition parties have
submitted to the parliament separate bills on amending
the law on the government's structures. A group of 10
deputies from the Party of Revival and Accord, headed by
former President Mircea Snegur, proposes reducing the
number of ministries from 16 to 10 and government
departments from five to two. It also envisages the
setting up of a governmental information service. The
draft submitted by For a Democratic and Prosperous
Moldova Bloc also envisages 10 ministries and an
information service but provides for only one government
department, Infotag reported on 8 December.

BULGARIAN DEFENSE MINISTER REJECTS ALLEGATIONS OF
EMBARGO-BREAKING. Georgi Ananiev told journalists on 8
December that Bulgaria "honors and will be honoring all
the international agreements it has signed," adding that
"we do not sell weapons to embargoed countries," BTA
reported. He refused to comment on a report in the 6
December "New York Times" saying that Bulgaria has sold
tanks to Ethiopia and Uganda. That report cited an
article that appeared in "Trud" ten days earlier.
Colonel Hristo Stanimirov, chief of staff of the
Economic Directorate of the Ministry of Defense, told
journalists on 26 November that Bulgaria "recently" sold
140 tanks to African countries that were not on an
embargo list. MS

END NOTE

UKRAINE STRADDLES THE NEW DIVIDE

by Christopher Walker

	Despite internal weaknesses and a range of external
challenges, Ukraine has registered a number of
impressive foreign-policy achievements since gaining
independence in 1991. In order to do so, it has had to
juggle demands, as a result of an unstable and
unpredictable Russian Federation to the east, unsteady
neighbors to the north and south (Belarus, Romania, and
Moldova), and the expanding NATO and EU blocs to the
West. Whether Ukraine will be able to maintain this
level of performance in its foreign policy over the
longer term remains to be seen. While the external
demands posed by its neighbors are substantial, Ukraine
is equally threatened--in terms of its democratic
development and stability--by its inability to settle
its own domestic affairs.
	In an effort to normalize regional relations,
Ukraine has concluded several important agreements with
neighboring countries. Those pacts include a Joint
Statement on Mutual Reconciliation with Poland, a Treaty
on Good Neighborly Relations and Cooperation with
Romania, and, following a nearly four-year delay, a
Treaty on Friendship, Cooperation, and Partnership with
Russia. At the same time, Ukraine has slowly cultivated
closer relations with the West.
	The NATO-Ukraine Charter, signed at the Madrid
Summit in July 1997, established a new framework for
NATO-Ukraine relations. Recognizing Ukraine's unique
position in the region, the charter establishes a
"distinctive partnership" between NATO and Ukraine. The
expansion of the alliance has been a difficult question
for Ukraine, as Russia has made clear its opposition to
further NATO expansion. While Russia continues to view
NATO as a threat, Kyiv's position has shifted over the
last several years. In July 1998, Ukrainian Foreign
Minister Borys Tarasyuk said that Ukraine sees NATO
enlargement as a "process of expanding the area of
stability and democracy."
	It is not yet clear whether the majority of
Ukrainians believe the potential benefits of greater
cooperation with NATO--or possible future admission to
the alliance--outweigh the costs. Russia's own
instability and deviation from the path of
democratization may provide Ukrainian leaders with
further arguments for exploring still deeper relations
with Western security alliances.
	Ukraine is thus faced with the challenge of
developing relations with the West without overly
antagonizing Russia. Such antagonism would entail
several risks, not least since Ukraine is still heavily
reliant on Russian trade and energy resources.
	Early last year, Ukrainian President Leonid Kuchma
blamed Moscow for the poor state of Russian-Ukrainian
relations, claiming that Russia's "biased, prejudiced
attitude toward Ukraine has intensified." He added that
Russia views Ukraine as a constituent part of the
federation or at least as existing within the Russian
sphere of influence.
	With Ukraine moving more perceptibly toward closer
relations with the West, it is not unreasonable to
expect Russia's insecurities to intensify. Much of
Russia's political elite has not accepted Ukraine's
post-Soviet status as an independent, sovereign state.
The loss of Ukraine, of all the former republics, has
arguably been the most difficult for Russians to
swallow.
	The issue of ethnic Russians in Ukraine is of
potential concern. Post-Soviet Russia is a nation-state
that has 25 million ethnic Russians outside its borders,
11 million of whom live in Ukraine. The treatment of
ethnic Russians in the former republics has been a
controversial issue for Russian nationalists. Ukraine's
leadership has wisely refrained from pushing too hard on
issues that could prompt a reaction from ethnic Russians
in Ukraine or be used as a pretext by Russian
nationalists looking to stir the ethnic pot. In Crimea,
where ethnic Russians are in the majority, the threat of
unrest is greatest.
	In general, Ukrainian-Russian discussions of such
thorny issues as the payment of outstanding debts, the
negotiation of energy agreements, and questions of
European security, have been quite tough and often
heated but have never slid out of control. However,
Russia's internal situation is fluid and volatile, as is
Ukraine's. And neighboring Belarus, which has
distinguished itself by demonstrating belligerence in
international relations, might complicate Ukraine's
relationship with Russia, not to mention the entire
regional security order.
	Unlike Belarus, whose main foreign-policy objective
has been to pursue a rather flimsy union arrangement
with Russia, Ukraine has seized opportunities to settle
territorial claims and to otherwise ameliorate
differences with its neighbors. Its pre-1991 role as the
western-most tenant of the former Soviet Union has been
transformed into that of eastern-most flank of the still
evolving new Europe. As a result, Ukraine is faced with
a wide range of responsibilities. Considering the
relative immaturity and fragility of the Ukrainian
state, Kyiv has so far handled this challenge with
considerable dexterity.

The author is manager of programs at the European
Journalism Network.

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