The greatest happiness is to know the source of unhappiness. - Dostoevsky
RFE/RL NEWSLINE

RFE/RL NEWSLINE Vol 2, No. 246, Part II, 23 December 1998


________________________________________________________
RFE/RL NEWSLINE Vol 2, No. 246, Part II, 23 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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Note to readers: "RFE/RL Newsline" will not appear on 24
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Headlines, Part II

* UKRAINE TO PRINT MONEY TO PAY BACK WAGES

* UCK WANTS POLICE OUT OF CENTRAL KOSOVA

* ALBANIAN STUDENTS END HUNGER STRIKE
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EAST-CENTRAL EUROPE

UKRAINE TO PRINT MONEY TO PAY BACK WAGES. Prime Minister
Valeriy Pustovoytenko said on 22 December that Ukraine
will print money next year to cover its mounting wage
arrears, AP reported. He added that the cabinet plans a
monetary emission of 1 billion hryvni ($290 million),
but he did not say how he expects the money emission to
affect the 1999 inflation rate, which has been forecast
at 19 percent. JM

UKRAINIAN PARLIAMENT DECREES CUTBACK IN ARMED FORCES.
The Supreme Council on 22 December passed a bill
reducing the current 320,000 servicemen by 10,000 and
the army's 100,000 civilian staff by the same amount in
1999, Ukrainian media reported. The Ukrainian government
has said it can spend only some 1 billion hryvni ($290
million) on the army next year. The Defense Ministry,
however, maintains that the armed forces need at least
three times that amount. JM

KUCHMA CANCELS FINES TO ENCOURAGE TAX COLLECTION.
President Leonid Kuchma has signed a decree canceling
fines on companies that pay all their 1998 taxes by
February 1999, Ukrainian News reported on 22 December.
Kuchma's decision is seen as a measure to improve poor
tax collection. The nationwide tax debt skyrocketed from
2.3 billion hryvni in January ($1.1 billion at the then
exchange rate) to 10.2 billion hryvni ($3 billion) as of
1 December. JM

BELARUSIAN NEWSPAPER WINS LAWSUIT OVER SPELLING. The
Higher Economic Court on 22 December ruled in favor of
the Belarusian-language biweekly "Nasha Niva," which
defied warnings by the State Press Committee by
continuing to use the traditional, non-Russified
Belarusian orthography banned by the Soviet regime in
1933 (see "RFE/RL Newsline End Note," 10 August 1998),
RFE/RL's Belarusian Service reported. "Nasha Niva"
editor Syarhey Dubavets sued the committee after it had
warned the newspaper not to "distort the generally
accepted norms of the language." A panel of linguists
assembled by the court found that no "generally accepted
norms of the language have ever been determined." The
court accepted that view and fined the committee 2.5
million Belarusian rubles ($24). Dubavets said the
verdict "provided a very positive result for the
Belarusian language itself...and those discriminated in
Belarus from time immemorial for using this language."
JM

BELARUSIAN OPPOSITIONIST RELEASED FROM PRISON, FACES
ANOTHER TRIAL. Valery Shchukin, a deputy of the Supreme
Soviet dissolved by President Alyaksandr Lukashenka in
1996, was released from prison on 22 December after
serving a 15-day sentence for participating in an
unsanctioned workers' demonstration last month (see
"RFE/RL Newsline," 6 November 1998), RFE/RL's Belarusian
Service reported. He must now appear in court on 28
December in connection with participating in a
Belarusian Popular Front demonstration earlier this
month (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 7 December 1998).
Shchukin, who has been repeatedly tried and imprisoned
for his opposition activities, scored two successes in
his struggle for prisoners' rights while in prison. By
threatening to organize a picket in the prison yard, he
forced the administration to rid his cell of mice. He
also made the administration provide him with a real
spoon, while other prisoners were given "a sort of
thimble" with which to eat. JM

ESTONIA'S MERI NAMED 'EUROPEAN OF THE YEAR.' An
international jury chaired by former European Commission
President Jacques Delors has named Estonian President
Lennart Meri the "European of 1998." Delors said in a
letter that the jury wanted to pay tribute to Meri's
"indefatigable struggle" for the rebirth of Estonia and
for his commitment to the unity of Europe. Meri will
receive the award, which is organized by the French
magazine "La Vie," from French President Jacques Chirac
in Paris in February. JC

MOSCOW BERATES TALLINN OVER LANGUAGE REQUIREMENTS FOR
DEPUTIES. Speaking to journalists in Moscow on 22
December, Russian Foreign Ministry spokesman Vladimir
Rakhmanin criticized amendments passed by Estonian
lawmakers last week that stipulate language requirements
for elected officials (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 16
December 1998). Interfax quoted Rakhmanin as saying that
this is a move aimed at forcing ethnic minorities out of
the country's political life," adding that some
"renowned experts" consider the amendments run counter
to the Estonian Constitution. He added that if the
amendments are signed into law by the Estonian
president, they may "seriously complicate" the
participation of non-Estonians in the local elections
next fall. Under the amendments, members of the
parliament and local governments must have sufficient
knowledge of Estonian to take part in the work of those
bodies and to understand the contents of legislative
acts. JC

LATVIAN COALITION PARTNER TO ACCEPT SOCIAL DEMOCRAT AS
AGRICULTURE MINISTER? Fatherland and Freedom chairman
Maris Grinblats told reporters on 22 December that the
party's council may approve Social Democrat Peteris
Salkazanovs as agriculture minister but rejects the idea
of any larger involvement of the Social Democrats in the
government, BNS reported. Grinblats said it is not the
aim of the Fatherland and Freedom party to trigger a
government crisis, especially when the budget for next
year has not been approved. Prime Minister Vilis
Kristopans has appointed Environment Protection and
Regional Development Minister Vents Balodis as acting
agriculture minister until the Fatherland and Freedom
party makes a decision on Salkazanovs's nomination. JC

LITHUANIA ANNOUNCES CHRISTMAS AMNESTY. The Lithuanian
parliament on 22 December granted amnesty to some 2,000
convicted prisoners, mostly youths, women, and men over
65. Under the amnesty, pregnant women and single mothers
who have children under 18 will be released
unconditionally, BNS reported. This is the fifth amnesty
in Lithuania over the past eight years. The previous
amnesties were in 1990, 1993, 1995, and 1996, according
to the news agency. JC

POLISH MINERS CONTINUE TO PROTEST NEW PENSION LAW.
Representatives of the government, employers, and
striking miners held talks on resolving the dispute over
the new pension law (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 21 and 22
December 1998) but failed to work out a clear agreement,
PAP reported on 22 December. Wojciech Kornowski, head of
the Confederation of Polish Employers, said miners who
have performed 25 years' service will receive so-called
bridge pensions equal to 70 percent of their monthly
wage. However, Henryk Nakonieczny, leader of
Solidarity's coal mining section, said the talks
resulted in no written agreement and therefore the
strike will continue. According to Solidarity, 95
percent of miners supported a general strike in a vote
held in 40 mines on 21 December. "On 23 December. we
shall determine how to continue the protest,"
Nakonieczny said. JM

NON-SOLIDARITY TRADE UNIONS AGREE TO PROTEST GOVERNMENT
POLICIES. Eighteen trade unions that work in opposition
to Solidarity have established a committee to protest
government socioeconomic policies, PAP reported on 22
December. Members of the committee include
representatives of the leftist National Trade Union
Alliance, the rightist August '80 Free Trade Union, and
the ultra-radical Farmers' Self-Defense. The committee's
first joint action will be to protest the 1999 draft
budget. JM

HAVEL LEAVES FOR VACATION. President Vaclav Havel left
Prague on 22 December for the Canary Islands, where he
will spend the Christmas holidays as a guest of Spanish
King Juan Carlos, Reuters reported. The holiday is
officially described as "recuperative," and Havel will
continue receiving treatment for the respiratory
infection that caused him to cancel his work schedule
last week. A presidential adviser told "RFE/RL Newsline"
the same day that Havel's 21 December reference to the
possibility of his resignation "merely meant that he is
not the kind of politician who would continue holding
office at any costs, if he is no longer wanted." The
adviser stressed, however, that Havel "did not in any
way imply he intended to resign." MS

SLOVAK FOREIGN MINISTER APOLOGIZES TO KOVAC JR. Eduard
Kukan on 22 December publicly apologized to Michal Kovac
Jr., for his ministry's passiveness over Kovac's
abduction to Austria in 1995. In September 1996, the
Constitutional Court ruled that the former president's
son's right to re-enter Slovakia, enshrined in the
constitution, had been violated by the ministry's lack
of action after the abduction to Austria. Also on 22
December, Kukan told journalists that either former
Foreign Minister Zdenka Kramplova must return home by 23
December or her diplomatic passport will be declared
invalid. Kramplova was appointed ambassador to Canada at
the end of the mandate of Vladimir Meciar's cabinet. She
was dismissed by the new government in November but
failed to obey orders to return to Bratislava, CTK
reported.

FINAL RESULTS OF SLOVAK LOCAL ELECTIONS ANNOUNCED. The
final results of the 18-19 December local elections show
that Vladimir Meciar's Movement for a Democratic
Slovakia (HZDS) remains the strongest single party but
has less support than the combined forces of the
government coalition, AP and Reuters reported. The
coalition won in more than 800 mayoral races.
Independent candidates won 816 districts, the HZDS 602,
and the opposition Slovak National Party (SNS) 114. Of
the 35,465 local councilors elected, the HZDS has 8,140
and the SNS 2,136. Among ruling coalition members, the
Party of the Democratic Left gained 5,793 seats, the
Christian Democrats 4,276, the Hungarian Coalition
3,773, and the Party of Civic Understanding 1,041. 3,177
councilors are independents. MS

HUNGARIAN OPPOSITION FOILS NATO-RELATED AMENDMENT IN
FINAL VOTE... The parliament on 22 December rejected in
the final vote a constitutional amendment that would
have transferred from the legislature to the government
the power to approve the movement of foreign troops on
Hungarian territory. The vote was 184 to 17 with 101
abstentions and thus failed to produce the necessary
two-thirds majority. As was the case last week, the
coalition parties voted for the amendment, the
Socialists abstained, and the Free Democrats did not
participate in the vote. The Justice and Life Party
voted against the amendment. Socialist chairman Laszlo
Kovacs told journalists that his party will submit a
motion that transfers to the cabinet the power to
approve foreign troop movements related to humanitarian
goals and disaster relief, while the legislature will
still have to approve by a two-thirds majority the
transit of peacekeepers, Hungarian media reported. MS

...APPROVES OTHER NATO-RELATED LEGISLATION. The
parliament did, however, pass amendments to the law on
the secret service that are a pre-condition for NATO
membership (which the failed constitutional amendment is
not). It also passed a bill setting up a National
Security Supervision Office, also a pre-condition for
joining the alliance. MS

SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE

UCK WANTS POLICE OUT OF CENTRAL KOSOVA. Adem Demaci, who
is the political spokesman for the Kosova Liberation
Army (UCK), said in Prishtina on 22 December that the
guerrillas will attack the Serbian paramilitary police
"everywhere" unless the police leave mainly ethnic
Albanian areas of central Kosova. He added that the
police are not welcome in areas where no Serbs live. In
a statement, the UCK added that the Serbs must dismantle
all checkpoints that they have set up since the
crackdown began at the end of February or risk attacks
by the UCK. The guerrillas also called for freedom of
movement for all citizens, RFE/RL's South Slavic Service
reported. PM

U.S. DIPLOMATS TALK WITH UCK. Lawrence Rossin, who is
director of the State Department's Office for South and
Central Europe, and other U.S. diplomats met with
representatives of the UCK in a remote Kosovar village
on 22 December in an effort to end the spiral of
violence in the province. A UCK spokesman said later
that the guerrillas had nothing to do with the recent
slayings of Serbian civilians and that the UCK targets
only military and police personnel. Meanwhile in the
Peja area, Serbian forces killed one Kosovar and
arrested six others in a raid on a suspected guerrilla
stronghold. Serbian spokesmen in Prishtina said the
police killed the man after Kosovars opened fire on the
police. The Kosovar news agency KIC said in a statement
that the man was killed "in cold blood" in front of his
home. PM

WALKER CALLS BELGRADE 'UNCOOPERATIVE.' The head of the
international monitors in Kosova, U.S. diplomat William
Walker, told independent Belgrade Radio B-92 on 22
December that the Serbian "authorities are generally
uncooperative with the [monitoring] mission." Walker
added that most of his requests to those officials "have
drawn a negative response." He also criticized the
Serbian authorities for preventing the Prishtina
Albanian-language daily "Bujku" from publishing (see
"RFE/RL Balkan Report," 23 December 1998). The envoy
blasted the UCK for "irresponsiblyŠcarrying out
provocative missions" against Serbian targets. PM

OGATA CALLS FOR 'CONFIDENCE-BUILDING MEASURES.' UN High
Commissioner for Refugees Sadako Ogata completed a
three-day trip On 22 December that took her to Kosova
and Belgrade (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 21 December 1998).
In the Serbian capital, she called for "further
confidence-building measures" in Kosova and appealed, in
particular, to Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic to
implement the amnesty he agreed to in his October
agreement with U.S. special envoy Richard Holbrooke. She
noted that "people are arrested [by Serbian police] on
the way to their villages or once they return homeŠand
this does not contribute to rebuilding confidence in the
province." Ogata also praised the cooperation of the
Serbian authorities in enabling displaced persons to
return to their homes. PM

KADARE WANTS KOSOVARS TO FOLLOW ALBANIAN EXAMPLE. Paris-
based Ismail Kadare, who is the most prominent living
Albanian writer, told the VOA's Albanian service on 23
December that the recent opening of a dialogue between
Albania's government and opposition is "the most
encouraging news" he has heard from Albania this year
(see below). He stressed that the Kosovars also need to
find a common platform among themselves in order to
negotiate a political settlement with the Serbs.
Albanian Prime Minister Pandeli Majko said in Tirana the
previous day that he and opposition leader Sali Berisha
found much "agreement" and "[common] orientation
regarding Kosova and the national issue in general" at
their recent meeting. Since the Socialists took office
in 1997, the opposition has repeatedly charged them with
abandoning the Kosovars in their fight for independence.
FS

LEADING MONTENEGRIN PARTY REAFFIRMS SUPPORT FOR
YUGOSLAVIA. Misko Vukovic, who is a top aide to
President Milo Djukanovic, told RFE/RL correspondents in
Podgorica on 22 December that his Democratic Socialist
Party does not support a proposal by a junior member of
the governing coalition aimed at considerably weakening
Montenegro's links to Serbia (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 22
December 1998). Vukovic added that Montenegro will
observe the terms of its 1992 federation agreement with
Serbia "as long as there remains a real chance of
defeating the totalitarian regime of Slobodan
Milosevic." PM

PANGALOS STRESSES POSITIVE TRENDS IN SKOPJE. Greek
Foreign Minister Theodoros Pangalos said in Skopje on 22
December that the new Macedonian government consists of
"people who mean business." He stressed that the two
neighboring countries should stress their common
Orthodox bonds and "make love, not war." He nonetheless
added that Greece "will never recognize a Slavic
minority" in the part of the historic region of
Macedonia that belongs to Greece. Pangalos and his hosts
stressed the importance of cooperation in
transportation, energy and telecommunications. Greece
imposed a crippling trade embargo on Macedonia from 1994
to 1995 but has since sought to expand its economic
presence there. Greece is now Macedonia's third largest
trading partner and the largest source of foreign
investments. PM

SFOR OUSTS CROATIAN POLICE FROM BOSNIAN TOWN. Croatian
police peacefully left the Bosnian border town of Martin
Brod on 23 December after Canadian peacekeepers told
them to do so on the orders of the international
community's Carlos Westendorp. Police from the Bosnian
federation then took up posts in the town, which belongs
to Bosnia but which Croatian forces occupied in 1995
(see "RFE/RL Newsline," 17 December 1998). In Sarajevo,
a spokesman for Alija Izetbegovic, who is the Muslim
member of the joint presidency, praised SFOR's action.
The previous day, Croatian President Franjo Tudjman and
Bosnian leaders opened a bridge linking Zupanja in
eastern Croatia and Orasje across the Sava River in
Bosnia. PM

HAGUE COURT INDICTS TWO BOSNIAN CROATS. The Hague-based
war crimes tribunal on 22 December indicted Mladen
Naletilic, also known as "Tuta," and Vinko Martinovic,
also known as "Stela," for numerous war crimes against
Muslims in the Mostar area in 1993. The two could face
life imprisonment if convicted. AP reported that
Croatian police have arrested the men in Zagreb but
added that it is not clear when they will be transferred
to The Hague. PM

UN POLICE SACK TWO BOSNIAN SERBS. The Sarajevo-based
International Police Task Force fired Momir Vukovic and
Spasoje Camur from high-ranking jobs in the Republika
Srpska police for their involvement in the forced
detention and torture of 14 persons in connection with
the August slaying of leading Bosnian Serb police
official Srdjan Knezevic. Knezevic supported the
moderate leadership based in Banja Luka. Many observers
suggested he was killed by hard-liners loyal to Radovan
Karadzic. PM

ALBANIAN STUDENTS END HUNGER STRIKE. Student leader
Besnik Jaku and Education Minister Ethem Ruka on 22
December signed an agreement on ending the 13-day
student hunger strike (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 22
December 1998). Ruka agreed to increase student
scholarships by 17.5 percent after 1 April 1999,
"Albanian Daily News" reported. He also pledged to
improve living conditions in dormitories within a
mutually agreed timeframe. The accord also provides for
increased university autonomy and a special legal status
for the university campus. The negotiations took place
at the dean's office under the mediation of OSCE
Ambassador to Albania Daan Everts. Everts praised the
accord as the result of the Albanians' attempts to try
"to find a common language," adding that "a new wind is
blowing for the ruling [Socialists] and the opposition."
FS

POSITIVE REACTIONS TO ALBANIAN RIVALS' MEETING. Albanian
and international observers have praised a 21 December
meeting between opposition leader Sali Berisha and Prime
Minister Pandeli Majko as an important step toward
overcoming Albania's political polarization (see "RFE/RL
Newsline," 22 December 1998). Majko told public
television that it was "Albanian citizens...who
benefited from the newly begun dialogue" rather than any
politicians. Senior Democratic Party legislator Ylli
Vejsiu said the meeting opened "a new chapter in
defusing the political tensions," adding that "dialogue,
tolerance, and compromise triumphed in the end." The
U.S. State Department issued a statement calling the
meeting "an extremely positive first step in healing the
political cleavages that have stymied Albania's reform
process." It also urged "all parties to maintain the
positive momentum from this encounter" and the
Democratic Party to end its boycott of the parliament.
FS

FORMER ROMANIAN PRESIDENT ON 1989 UPRISING. Former
President Ion Iliescu told a 22 December joint session
of the parliament marking the ninth anniversary of the
anti-communist uprising that those who "watched
television" in 1989 are now accusing those who led the
uprising of having "stolen the revolution." In an
obvious allusion to the country's present leaders,
Iliescu added that a "campaign is under way to tarnish
the revolution's heroes, including its leaders and the
army." MS

FRENCH OIL COMPANY INVESTS IN ROMANIAN BLACK SEA
DRILLING. France's oil giant Elf Aquitaine has signed an
agreement in Bucharest with the national oil company
Petrom to explore 10,000 square kilometers of the Black
Sea over the next 30 years, AP reported on 22 December.
The company will pay $10 million initially, and if oil
is found, it will pay up to $500 million on development
projects. Also on 22 December, the Turkish Akmaya Sanayi
Ve Ticaret holding company bought a 65 percent majority
stake in the Petromida oil refinery for $725 million.
And Petrom director-general Ioan Popa announced that
30,000 employees will be laid off next year. MS

ZHIRINOVSKY VISITS TIRASPOL. Vladimir Zhirinovsky,
arriving in Tiraspol on 22 December, said that the
Transdniester is "part of the Russian Federation" and
that his Liberal Democratic Party of Russia "will be
happy if it officially becomes one of Russia's
provinces," Infotag reported. Zhirinovsky is scheduled
to meet with Igor Smirnov and other Transdniester
officials. Russia's ambassador to Chisinau, Alexander
Papkin, told journalists that the visit is "unofficial."
Zhirinovsky said the Russian Constitution obliges Moscow
to "defend and protect our compatriots" and that he will
demand that President Boris Yeltsin "undertake resolute
action to recognize the Transdniester and establish
direct economic ties with it." In an interview with
Tiraspol Television the same day, Zhirinovsky said he
does not rule out the possibility that the Transdniester
will become a third member of the Russian-Belarus union.
At the same time, he called on Transdniestrians to take
up Russian citizenship in order to make it "easier for
us to protect you." MS

NEW ELECTORAL ALLIANCE IN BULGARIA. The recently-formed
Social Democracy Union and the Euroleft Party on 21
December signed an agreement to cooperate and run joint
lists in the fall 1999 local elections, BTA reported.
Euroleft leader Alexander Tomov said the agreement
"forms the nucleus of an essentially new opposition" and
is "a model to be followed in the next general
elections." MS

FORMER KING SPENDS CHRISTMAS IN BULGARIA. Simeon II
arrived in Bulgaria on 22 December and will spend the
Christmas holidays there for the first time since he was
forced to leave the country in 1946, AP reported. The
former monarch will stay at the Czarska Bistritsa
palace, which is part of his former estate. He will pay
for his stay at the palace, because legal procedures for
returning him both the palace and other properties, as
approved by a court earlier this year, are still under
way. MS

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