What you can become, you are already. - Friedrich Hebbel
RFE/RL NEWSLINE

RFE/RL NEWSLINE Vol 2, No. 242, Part II, 17 December 1998


________________________________________________________
RFE/RL NEWSLINE Vol 2, No. 242, Part II, 17 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
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

* UKRAINE OPPOSES U.S., BRITISH STRIKES AGAINST IRAQ

* SERBS ARREST THREE KOSOVARS IN BAR KILLINGS

* POLICE END ALBANIAN STUDENTS' HUNGER STRIKE

End Note - KOSOVA: NO SURE SOLUTION IN SIGHT
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EAST-CENTRAL EUROPE

UKRAINE OPPOSES U.S., BRITISH STRIKES AGAINST IRAQ.
Ukraine's Foreign Ministry said on 17 December that it
cannot agree with U.S. and British military strikes on
Iraq and expresses regret over civilian casualties as a
result of those strikes, Reuters reported. "Ukraine,
which has consistently pronounced for resolving any
conflict situations by peaceful political means, cannot
agree with force methods of tackling this issue," the
ministry said in a statement. The statement warns
against "unpredictable consequences [of the strikes] for
the region and whole world" and expresses the hope that
the UN Security Council will do "whatever is possible to
avoid further escalation of tension around Iraq." JM

UKRAINIAN PARLIAMENT MOVES TO STOP ENERGY SECTOR
PRIVATIZATION... The Supreme Council on 16 December gave
preliminary approval to a resolution imposing a
moratorium on the privatization of the energy sector, AP
reported. The resolution orders the State Property Fund
to stop selling energy companies until the parliament
approves an appropriate law. Deputies argue that many
government officials make illegal profits from energy
privatization by selling stakes to companies linked to
them. The parliament will take a final decision on the
moratorium next week. JM

...HALTS TELECOMMUNICATIONS MONOPOLY PRIVATIZATION...
The previous day, the parliament rejected a government
bill providing for the privatization of Ukrtelekom,
Ukraine's telecommunications monopoly. Deputies argued
that the bill violates the constitution and agreed to
debate an alternative bill next week. Ukrtelekom and
Ukraine's oil and gas pipeline network are widely
believed to be the only state assets that could attract
large-scale foreign investments into the country.
According to Ukrtelekom officials, Ukraine could raise
some $2.4 billion by selling a 25 percent stake in the
company. JM

...GRANTS TAX BREAKS TO COMPLETE NUCLEAR REACTORS.
Ukraine's legislature on 16 December approved three-year
profit tax breaks for companies financing the completion
of two nuclear reactors at the Rivne and Khmelnytskyy
nuclear power plants. A legislator from the
parliamentary Nuclear Safety Committee told AP that the
reactors are 80 percent finished and the bill on tax
breaks will allow construction to be completed within
two years. Ukraine wants those reactors to compensate
for the loss of electricity after the planned closure of
the Chornobyl nuclear power plant in 2000. JM

STRIKING MINERS SEEK TO STORM ADMINISTRATION BUILDING IN
LUHANSK. Some 200 miners on 16 December attempted to
storm a regional government building in Luhansk, eastern
Ukraine, after months of demonstrating outside that
building to demand unpaid wages, AP reported. Police
managed to stop the miners after they pushed down iron
barriers in front of the building. The incident occurred
two days after one of the protesting miners set himself
on fire in Luhansk (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 15 December
1998). Ukraine's miners are owed more than 2 billion
hryvni ($580 million) in back wages. JM

BELARUSIAN OPPOSITION SAYS NEW LOCAL ELECTION LAW
UNDEMOCRATIC. Leading members of the Belarusian
opposition have told RFE/RL that the new local election
law is undemocratic (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 16 December
1998). Barys Hyunter of the Belarusian Popular Front
stressed that his organization is not going to
participate in elections organized under the law passed
by the "illegitimate Chamber of Representatives."
Alyaksandr Dabravolski of the United Civic Party said
the authorities are afraid of democratic elections and
have done everything to ensure that opposition
organizations do not participate in them. He added that
the OSCE should revise its position with regard to
official Minsk. The local election law bans candidates
from running who have been prosecuted for participating
in anti-government protest actions, thereby preventing
many opposition members from taking part in the
elections. JM

ESTONIAN LAWMAKERS DESIGNATE THERMAL POWER STATIONS
'STRATEGIC' COMPANIES. The parliament on 16 December
voted by 34 to 30 to place the Eesti and Balti thermal
power stations on the list of "strategic" companies that
cannot be privatized without the parliament's approval,
ETA reported. Aare Jarvan, economic adviser to Prime
Minister Mart Siimann, called the decision an
"unpleasant surprise." He argued that the move will mean
additional expenses and will not serve to promote the
privatization process, since, he said, lawmakers will
"never carry out an effective discussion of a business
or privatization plan." Proponents of the move argue
that the power stations are of such importance that the
state must retain control over their fate. JC

ESTONIA'S ECONOMY, TRANSPORT MINISTRIES TO MERGE. Prime
Minister Siimann told journalists on 16 December that
the government will approve merging the Economy and the
Transport Ministries at the beginning of next year, ETA
reported. Siimann acknowledged that the process is
unlikely to be completed by the end of the present
government's term. Both Economy Minister Jaak Leimann
and Transport Minister Raivo Vare have supported the
move. Leimann commented that he has always backed
cutting administrative costs, adding that the Estonian
government can manage with nine ministers and one prime
minister. JC

LATVIA'S SOCIAL DEMOCRATS WILL NOT SUPPORT NEW
MINISTERIAL CANDIDATES. Social Democrats' faction head
Egils Baldzens told journalists on 16 December that his
party will not support any new candidates for the posts
of minister or state minister until the question of the
Social Democrats' involvement in the government is
solved, BNS reported. Prime Minister Vilis Kristopans
has proposed appointing a Social Democrat as agriculture
minister, but the junior coalition Fatherland and
Freedom party has opposed any Social Democratic
involvement in the cabinet and has postponed taking a
decision on the issue until late next month. One day
earlier, President Guntis Ulmanis echoed Kristopans's
recent statement denying that a government crisis is
looming (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 14 December 1998). "What
I see now is not a government crisis, it is a debate
between political forces," BNS quoted Ulmanis as telling
journalists on his return from Denmark and Japan. JC

LITHUANIAN PRESIDENT SIGNS CONTROVERSIAL LAW ON
OMBUDSMEN. Valdas Adamkus on 16 December signed a
controversial law on parliamentary ombudsmen, BNS
reported. Under the law, which was passed by the
parliament earlier this month, five ombudsmen are to be
appointed by the parliament for a four-year term to
investigate citizens' complaints about bureaucracy and
abuse of power in government, the administration, local
government, and other institutions. They are not allowed
, however, to investigate the activities of the
president, premier, cabinet ministers, lawmakers,
judges, and other officials. The opposition had appealed
to the president not to sign the law, which they argue
restricts the rights of ombudsmen because those
officials are not allowed to fully investigate cases of
abuse of power. JC

COMMUNIST-ERA POLISH PROSECUTORS STRIPPED OF RETIREMENT
BONUSES. Justice Minister Hanna Suchocka has announced
that 13 prosecutors who handed down unfair verdicts
during the period 1944-1956 will have early retirement
and special pension benefits withdrawn, PAP reported on
16 December. The decision follows a law passed by the
parliament in August on prosecutors and judges who
collaborated with Poland's Stalinist regime. The
government is currently reviewing the files of some
2,500 retired judges and prosecutors to determine if
there should be more prosecutions. The Justice Ministry
has not revealed the names of the 13 prosecutors, who
have two week in which to appeal Suchocka's decision.
Even if they lose special benefits, they will still
receive a regular pension. JM

POLISH PARLIAMENT ABOLISHES COMPULSORY SEX EDUCATION.
The Polish parliament on 16 December voted by 219 to 175
with seven abstentions to amend a bill on family
planning to eliminate a provision requiring high schools
to offer a mandatory course entitled "Knowledge of Human
Sexual Life." Under the amendment, the education
minister will decide whether and what kind of sex
education courses should be offered at any given school.
Mandatory sex education in Poland was introduced by the
former leftist government in 1996 but was never
implemented because of political wrangling and
administrative delays. JM

CZECH SENATE ELECTS NEW SPEAKER. Libuse Benesova, deputy
chairwoman of the opposition Civic Democratic Party
(ODS), has been narrowly elected as speaker of the
Senate, AP reported on 16 December. Benesova was elected
in a second round of voting, winning 40 out of the 79
valid votes cast. Outgoing speaker Petr Pithart of the
Christian Democratic Party received 37 votes, after
winning the first round by 37-36. Benesova's victory had
been expected under the post-election agreement between
the ODS and the ruling minority Social Democratic Party.
MS

AILING HAVEL CANCELS SCHEDULE, POSTPONES HOLIDAY.
President Vaclav Havel canceled his entire schedule this
week and postponed leaving for a Christmas holiday
abroad, after he was taken ill with a viral infection in
the respiratory tract, presidential spokesman Ladislav
Spacek told journalists on 16 December. Spacek said the
president will be treated at home and might begin his
holiday next week. On 14 December, Havel canceled a
meeting with visiting Spanish Premier Jose Maria Aznar.
MS

SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE

SERBS ARREST THREE KOSOVARS IN BAR KILLINGS. Serbian
police have arrested three ethnic Albanians in Peja in
conjunction with the recent shooting in a bar that left
six young Serbs dead (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 16 December
1998), AP reported on 17 December. Police are looking
for another 11 suspects, most of whom are ethnic
Albanian males between 18 and 29 years of age. The
previous day, some 5,000 people attended a funeral
service for the six, which news agencies described as
emotional. Several thousand people attended a rally in
Prishtina to protest the killings. In Prishtina, Adem
Demaci, who is the political spokesman for the Kosova
Liberation Army (UCK), denied that the guerrillas had
anything to do with the killings, RFE/RL's South Slavic
Service reported. Demaci added that the UCK does not
engage in random shootings. PM

SERBIAN MEDIA BLAME U.S. IN KILLINGS. State-run media
said on 16 December that the U.S. is the "biggest
accomplice of the most monstrous crimes of the Albanian
terrorists," in reference to the killings in Peja.
Serbian opposition leader Vuk Draskovic said that if
"Albanian terrorism" goes unpunished, the "Serbian
people will take their defense into their own hands," AP
reported. Meanwhile in Washington, a State Department
spokesman said that Serbian army and paramilitary police
forces have "increased their presence" in several cities
and on the Malisheva road in Kosova. U.S. civilian
monitors have raised the issue with the Serbian
authorities, which deny the reports. PM

NATO WARNS MILOSEVIC ON MONITORS' SAFETY. U.S. General
Wesley Clark, who is NATO's supreme commander in Europe,
told Reuters in Skopje on 16 December that Yugoslav
President Slobodan Milosevic is "fully responsible for
the safety of the [2,000 unarmed OSCE] verifiers. Should
he not be able to fulfill those responsibilities, NATO
knows what to do and how to do it," the general added.
He noted that "you can be sure that NATO has all the
required capabilities to accomplish its extraction
mission under whatever conditions may arise." Elsewhere
in the Macedonian capital, President Kiro Gligorov and
his Ukrainian counterpart, Leonid Kuchma, agreed that
the only solution for Kosova is autonomy within
Yugoslavia. Gligorov also called the situation in Kosova
"complex and worrying." PM

U.S. CAUTIONS TUDJMAN ON THREATS TO SFOR. The State
Department said in a statement on 16 December that
Croatian President Franjo Tudjman was wrong to threaten
to use force against NATO peacekeepers in the disputed
Croatian-held, Bosnian border town of Martin Brod. The
statement added that Tudjman's remarks on 14 December at
the opening ceremony for the military academy in Zagreb
prompted SFOR to "change its plans" but the State
Department did not elaborate. The statement also accused
Tudjman of engaging in "scare tactics for partisan
political ends" when he told officers that the Hague-
based war crimes tribunal has prepared secret
indictments "against you, against all of us." The
tribunal has since denied Tudjman's claim. Tudjman also
said that "no country in the world is as riddled with a
network of agents as is Croatia," by which he was
referring to journalists, diplomats, NGO
representatives, and aid workers. Tudjman is well known
for making ill-considered remarks. PM

MADRID CONFERENCE ENDS WITH DECLARATION. The two-day
session of the Peace Implementation Council for Bosnia
closed on 16 December with the "unanimous" adoption of a
declaration, the international community's Carlos
Westendorp said. The text stressed that Bosnia must
increasingly assume responsibility for its own affairs
and not expect to receive international aid money
indefinitely, RFE/RL's South Slavic Service reported.
The declaration called on Bosnians to implement changes
aimed at promoting economic, administrative, police and
judicial reform, as well as democratization. Westendorp
told journalists that all refugees must be able to
return home within two years. He also called for the two
entities to develop joint institutions and take
effective measures aimed at combating corruption. PM

POLICE END ALBANIAN STUDENTS' HUNGER STRIKE. Police
broke up a hunger strike by some 100 students on
Tirana's university campus on 17 December. The move came
after a doctor discovered that one of the students was
infected with hepatitis C, AP reported. The students
were taken by police to the city's military hospital for
medical treatment and were later released. Police then
took some students back to the cities from which they
had come to join the strike. The students denounced the
police intervention and complained they had been beaten
and insulted. An Interior Ministry spokeswoman said the
only reason for breaking up the strike was the discovery
of the virus, and she denied that the move was
politically motivated. The students began their hunger
strike seven days ago, demanding better living
conditions, larger stipends, and greater student
autonomy. Meanwhile, Education Minister Ethem Ruka has
said the government has met most of the students'
demands. FS

ALBANIAN OPPOSITION CALLS FOR NEW PROTESTS. Democratic
Party leader Sali Berisha has called for renewed street
protests after prosecutors opened legal proceedings
against him for an alleged coup attempt (see "RFE/RL
Newsline" 16 December 1998). The prosecutors summoned
Berisha for interrogation on 18 December, and Berisha
told dpa that he will give them "an answer that they
deserve." He did not elaborate. Democratic Party
Secretary-General Genc Pollo told Reuters on 16 December
that summoning Berisha as a defendant on armed uprising
charges is "a clear act of political revenge intended to
destabilize the country." Pollo added that "on 18
December, we shall witness the re-burial of Albanian
justice, the re-burial of stability in Albania, and [the
emergence of] further political divisions." The
parliament lifted Berisha's immunity after Democratic
Party supporters attacked government buildings on 14
September. Pollo, however, argued that Berisha still
enjoys immunity as a former president. FS

ALBANIAN JUSTICE MINISTER WANTS AID TO REBUILD PRISONS.
Thimio Kondi told Reuters on 16 December that Albania
urgently needs more foreign aid to accommodate thousands
of Albanian convicts waiting to return from jails
abroad. Albania's seven jails were ransacked during
civil unrest in 1997, when 1,300 prisoners escaped. The
government has renovated six prisons that can house 780
prisoners. There are 460 prisoners in Albania, but the
country is obliged to take back an additional 1,200
prisoners from Greece, 1,000 from Italy, and smaller
numbers from other European countries. Prisons Director-
General Gramoz Xhaferaj said that prison capacity will
rise by 900 after the renovation of a Tirana jail in
1999 and of a prison in Lezha, with the help of EU
assistance. Italy has also drafted a $7.29 million
proposal for a new jail able to accommodate 350
prisoners. FS

ROMANIAN PARLIAMENT APPROVES GOVERNMENT RESTRUCTURE. The
two chambers of the Romanian parliament, meeting in a
joint session on 16 December, approved the restructuring
of the government. The vote was 287 to 123. The
Communication, Privatization, Reform, Tourism, and
Research Ministries have been abolished, as has the post
of minister in charge of relations with the parliament.
The cabinet will be now made up of 17 ministers and the
prime minister. The two chambers also approved the new
board of the National Bank, extending the term of
outgoing Governor Mugur Isarescu. Also on 16 December,
the parliament approved the request of the Democratic
Party to replace former Foreign Minister Adrian Severin
as head of the Romanian delegation to the OSCE
Parliamentary Assembly with Cristian Radulescu . Severin
was expelled from the Democratic Party on 21 November.
MS

POLICE DISPERSE ROMANIAN LABOR PROTEST. Police used
force on 17 December to disperse some 200 miners from
the Balan coal mine who had been staging a protest,
Romanian state radio reported. The previous day, 1,200
miners from the same mine had interrupted rail and road
traffic at Sandominic, bringing to a halt links between
the provinces of Transylvania and Moldavia. They were
protesting after electricity supplies to the mine were
cut off because of an 83 billion lei (just less than
$8.3 million) outstanding debt. And Trade and Industry
Minister Radu Berceanu announced that nine mines in the
Ploiesti region and the Jiu Valley will be shut down as
of 21 December. MS

MOLDOVAN PARLIAMENT APPROVES PRIVATIZATION OF TELEPHONE
COMPANY... The parliament on 16 December approved a plan
to sell a 51 percent share in the state-owned telephone
monopoly Moldtelcom to a "strategic investor."
Moldtelcom is the largest state enterprise up for
privatization in Moldova. An earlier plan for
Moldtelcom's privatization, approved in July 1996,
failed to materialize after the Greek OTE Telecom
offered only $46.4 million. Under that plan, at least
$210 million had to be offered for a 40 percent stake.
The new plan, however, makes no mention of a minimum
price, Infotag reported. Also on 16 December, President
Petru Lucinschi appointed Iurii Kalev as transportation
and communications minister. Kalev is a member of the
coalition Party of Democratic Forces, as was his
predecessor, Tudor Leanca, who was dismissed by
Lucinschi on 12 November. MS

...AND OF ENERGY SECTOR. The parliament also approved in
the first reading a bill providing for the privatization
of energy sector enterprises. The bill envisages the
sale of controlling stakes (50 percent plus one share)
in three power and heating plants and 100 percent shares
in five regional power distribution networks. The
networks are to be privatized before the plants. MS

BULGARIAN PARLIAMENT APPROVES BUDGET. The parliament on
16 December approved the 1999 budget, which envisages
revenues of 4.5 trillion leva ($2.7 billion) and
expenditures of 4.9 trillion leva, leaving a deficit of
some 400 billion leva or 2.8 percent of GDP. It also
foresees a 3.7 percent rise in GDP, while inflation is
estimated at 6.6 percent, AP reported. MS

BULGARIAN OPPOSITION PARTIES PREPARE FOR FALL LOCAL
ELECTIONS... The Bulgarian Social Democratic Party
(BSDP) and the United Labor Bloc (OLB) have signed an
agreement to set up an alliance called the Social
Democracy Union, BTA reported on 16 December. BSDP
honorary chairman Petar Dertliev said the agreement
marks "a new beginning for big social democracy" in
Bulgaria, adding that the alliance is a first stage in a
process that will eventually include the Euroleft party.
OLB chairman Hristo Petkov said the new alliance is
holding talks with the Liberal Democratic Union (LDS),
with which it envisages cooperating in the fall 1999
elections. MS

...WHILE ETHNIC TURKISH PARTY SAYS NO COOPERATION WITH
RULING ALLIANCE. Social Democracy Union leaders also met
with Movement of Rights and Freedoms leader Ahmed Dogan
and New Choice Liberal Union leader Dimitar Ludzhev to
discuss possible cooperation. Both these parties are
members of the LDS alliance. Dogan said the LDS is
likely to sign a "pragmatic cooperation" agreement with
the new alliance. But he ruled out any possibility of
cooperation with the ruling Union of Democratic Forces,
BTA reported. MS

END NOTE

KOSOVA: NO SURE SOLUTION IN SIGHT

by Patrick Moore

	Kosova still awaits a political settlement that
will guarantee its more than 90 percent ethnic Albanian
population their basic rights in accordance with the
principles of self-determination and majority rule. The
key to solving the problem lies in Serbia, where the
difficulties began with the rise to power of Slobodan
Milosevic more than one decade ago.
	The Serbian leader built his initial political
success on an anti-Kosovar platform, to which he put the
final touches in 1989 by abolishing the broad autonomy
that the province had enjoyed under the 1974
constitution. The Kosovars responded by setting up a
shadow state headed by the moderate and writer Ibrahim
Rugova. Milosevic, for his part, turned his attention
first toward trying to take control of Yugoslavia and--
after the Slovenes, Croats, and others had stymied that
attempt--toward establishing a greater Serbia at the
expense of Croatia and Bosnia.
	Nine years later, Milosevic's plans for a greater
Serbia lay in ruins, and tens of thousands of Serbs from
Krajina and Bosnia had become impoverished refugees. But
in February 1998, the Yugoslav president launched a new
campaign aimed at destroying the Kosova Liberation Army
(UCK), which had grown increasingly bold in the scope
and nature of its guerrilla activities during the
previous year.
	Milosevic used the same techniques in Kosova as
Serbian forces had honed in Croatia and Bosnia. Led by
his paramilitary police and with support from the army
and irregular forces, the crackdown involved the
shelling, burning, and looting of Kosovar villages and
towns. Some 250,000 people--including Serbian and
Montenegrin victims of the UCK--became displaced persons
in Kosova or refugees in Albania, Montenegro, or
elsewhere.
	By mid-October, U.S. special envoy Richard
Holbrooke succeeded in brokering a deal that led to a
cease-fire and paved the way for a political settlement.
Soon thereafter, some 2,000 unarmed civilians began
arriving in Kosova under a mandate from the OSCE to
monitor the uneasy truce. In neighboring Macedonia, a
1,700-strong French-led NATO rapid reaction force began
assembling in order to evacuate the monitors if they ran
into danger. But by then it had become clear that
fighting between the Serbian forces and the UCK would
most likely resume in the spring and that a political
settlement would prove elusive.
	The difficulty in achieving a settlement stems from
the fact that Serbian and Kosovar goals are essentially
incompatible. Although few Serbs have visited Kosova,
most have a sentimental attachment to it as the cradle
of medieval Serbian civilization. They oppose
independence or even broad autonomy for the ethnic
Albanian majority, between whom and the Serbs little
love is lost. Following the agreement with Holbrooke,
the Milosevic government produced a plan that offered
autonomy but at the local--rather than at the
provincial--level and accorded equal political
representation to all ethnic groups, regardless of their
size. The plan firmly anchored Kosova in the Serbian
legal structure and gave the Serbian parliament the last
word in the province's affairs.
	This was clearly unacceptable to moderate Kosovars
loyal to Rugova and to the UCK alike. The Kosovars
insisted on provincial self-determination in accordance
with the principle of majority rule. At the very least,
they would accept the status of a third republic--along
with Serbia and Montenegro--within federal Yugoslavia,
but only as part of an interim solution that would
include a referendum on independence after two to three
years.
	At the end of 1998, Washington began to reassess
its view of Milosevic. Whereas Holbrooke had described
him as the only man in Serbia who could make any
agreement stick, State Department spokesman James Rubin
identified him in early December as "the problem."
Washington has increasingly come to believe that the
solution to the problem in Kosova lies not in any new
deals with Milosevic but rather in the democratization
of Serbia.
	Several U.S. officials and commentators have
suggested that this goal could be promoted by supporting
Serbia's harried independent media and the development
of a civil society. The international community could
provide scholarships for students and invite opposition
and independent Serbs to international conferences.
Strong political and economic support, moreover, could
be given to the independent-minded leadership of
Montenegro, those U.S. officials and commentators added.
	Some observers have argued in the international and
regional media that Serbia is ready for change because
of its growing isolation and poverty. They noted that
Milosevic recently fired some key advisers and top
military commanders, which, they argued, suggests that
he has become increasingly nervous and unsure about what
to do.
	But other observers have pointed out that there is
no readily discernible alternative to Milosevic among
opposition politicians, who are given to in-fighting and
opportunism. They suggest that the most likely effective
opposition to Milosevic might come from within the
governing elite or the army--for example, General
Momcilo Perisic, whom Milosevic recently sacked as army
chief of staff. But whether such individuals would prove
to be significantly better democrats than Milosevic is
anyone's guess.

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