Change is always powerful. Let your hook be always cast. In the pool where you least expect it, will be a fish. - Ovid
RFE/RL NEWSLINE

RFE/RL NEWSLINE Vol. 3, No. 8, Part II, 13 January 1999


___________________________________________________________
RFE/RL NEWSLINE Vol. 3, No. 8, Part II, 13 January 1999

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

xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx
Headlines, Part II

* BELARUSIAN OPPOSITION OUTLINES ITS PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION
SCHEDULE

* VOLLEBAEK ANNOUNCES PRISONER RELEASE IN KOSOVA

* TENSIONS CONTINUE TO GROW OVER ROMANIAN MINERS' THREATS

End Note: EU CANDIDATES BRACE FOR TOUGHER NEGOTIATIONS
xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

EAST-CENTRAL EUROPE

U.S. TO CONTINUE ECONOMIC AID TO UKRAINE. Stephen
Sestanovich, U.S. Secretary of State adviser on the newly
independent states, assured Ukrainian Prime Minister Valeriy
Pustovoytenko in Kyiv on 12 January that the U.S. will
continue to provide economic assistance to Ukraine, Interfax
reported. Sestanovich arrived in Kyiv to prepare a report for
U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright on the economic
situation and state of reform in Ukraine. U.S. Ambassador to
Ukraine Steven Pifer said the same day that the U.S. Congress
has decided to allocate $195 million in aid to Ukraine to
back its economic reforms. He added that 50 percent of this
sum will become available to Ukraine only if Albright's
report on Ukraine is favorable. That report is to be
delivered to Congress on 18 February. JM

UKRAINIAN OFFICIAL DENIES SIPHONING OFF RUSSIAN GAS. Taras
Freyuk, deputy head of Ukraine's Naftohaz company, denied
allegations by Rem Vyakhirev, head of Russia's Gazprom, that
Ukraine has illegally siphoned off Russian gas transported to
Europe via Ukrainian pipelines (see RFE/RL Newsline," 12
January 1999), Interfax reported. "I state with full
responsibility that in December 1998, Ukraine did not take a
single cubic meter of Russian gas without prior approval,"
Freyuk said. He also denied that the Ukrainian government's
debt for Russian gas has reached $1.6 billion (as suggested
by Vyakhirev), saying it totals some $734.5 million. He
admitted that private Ukrainian importers owe another $347.7
million but stressed that the government is not responsible
for that debt. Freyuk assessed Vyakhirev's allegations as
"very rude in tone," but he expressed the hope that they
constitute only an "unpleasant incident" with no harmful
consequences for Naftohaz or Gazprom. JM

UKRAINIAN PARLIAMENT VOTES AGAINST MOTION ON ABOLITION OF
PRESIDENCY. The Supreme Council on 12 January failed to
secure enough votes to proceed with the motion on abolishing
the presidency (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 12 January 1999),
Ukrainian News reported. The motion to abolish the
presidency, drawn up by Communist leader Petro Symonenko, was
supported by 205 votes instead of the 226 required for the
motion to pass. JM

TKACHENKO OPPOSES LIFTING PARLIAMENTARY IMMUNITY. At a
Supreme Council session on 12 January, speaker Oleksandr
Tkachenko spoke out against recent calls for parliamentary
deputies' immunity to be abolished, ITAR-TASS reported.
Tkachenko told lawmakers that the heads of some local
executive bodies have called for a referendum on doing away
with such immunity and on prolonging the president's right to
issue economic decrees without the legislation's approval. He
added that such actions by local governments violate the
Ukrainian Constitution. JM

BELARUSIAN OPPOSITION OUTLINES ITS PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION
SCHEDULE. Viktar Hanchar, head of the Central Electoral
Commission appointed by the opposition Supreme Soviet to
organize presidential elections on 16 May (see "RFE/RL
Newsline," 11 January 1999), has told RFE/RL's Belarusian
Service that oblast, raion, and city electoral commissions
for the presidential elections will be set up 45 days ahead
of the election date. He admitted that it will be hard to
find 70,000 people to serve as election officials but added
that he has "extraordinary organizational capabilities" and
will manage to create those bodies "on time." Presidential
candidates must be supported by 100,000 signatures, to be
submitted beginning 1 March. According to Hanchar, voters
will be given the opportunity to cast their ballots before
election day. The Central Electoral Commission will determine
voting methods when it convenes for the first time on 16
January, Hanchar said. JM

FREE ECONOMIC ZONE CREATED IN ESTONIA'S NORTHEAST. The
government on 12 January approved setting up a 450-hectare
free economic zone in the northeastern industrial town of
Sillamae, ETA reported. The driving force behind the
initiative was the local earth metal plant Silmet. Economy
Minister Jaak Leimann said it would be overly optimistic to
predict that hundreds of new jobs would be created in the
area but he noted that that new "opportunities" would arise.
Unemployment in the northeast has grown since several large
companies there ran into difficulties following the Russian
financial crisis last year. Estonia's first free economic
zone was set up at the Tallinn-Muuga port in early 1997. JC

JOINT ORTHODOX MISSION TO ARRIVE IN ESTONIA. The Patriarchate
of the Russian Orthodox Church is holding talks with its
Constantinople counterpart on sending a joint mission to
Estonia to tackle the issue of the Orthodox Church there. The
composition of the delegation and the date of the visit have
yet to be determined, a spokesman for the Moscow Patriarchate
told BNS on 12 January. The Estonian Apostolic Orthodox
Church, which is subordinated to Constantinople and is the
successor to the Church of the same name that existed before
World War II, is regarded as the legal heir to property
seized by the Communists from the prewar Church. The Moscow-
subordinated Church in Estonia argues that this has deprived
its congregation of the buildings and land that it rightfully
owns. JC

LATVIAN GOVERNMENT REVOKES PROPOSED PORK QUOTAS. Following a
lengthy debate on 12 January, the cabinet announced that it
is withdrawing its earlier proposal to impose quotas on the
import of pork and live pigs from Estonia and Lithuania. LETA
quoted Prime Minister Vilis Kristopans as saying after the
cabinet meeting that "we cannot restrict any specific sector,
because at the same time we could suffer the same
restrictions from our neighbors." He added that in halting
the legislation, "the interests of 2.6 million Latvian
residents were also taken into consideration." The Ministry
of Agriculture has been ordered to grant one-off subsidies to
pork producers in Latvia. Both Estonia and Lithuania had
protested the proposed quotas, saying they violated the
Baltic free trade agreement (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 4 and 8
January 1999). JC

KALININGRAD GOVERNOR LEVELS CLAIMS AGAINST VILNIUS
ROUNDTABLE. Organizers of a roundtable on Kaliningrad Oblast,
scheduled to take place in Vilnius on 14 January, said the
meeting will take place and that they expect officials from
the Russian exclave to attend, BNS reported on 12 January.
That comment follows claims by Kaliningrad Governor Leonid
Grobenko that the meeting, which is to discuss the exclave's
development and integration into Europe, is being held "for
other endsŠbehind the backs of the Russian Foreign Ministry
and the [Russian] embassy in Vilnius." "According to our
sources, entirely different issues will go on discussion,"
Grobenko said. The organizers say they are "stunned' by
Grobenko's claims and suggest his comments are based on
"misleading information." The seminar is being organized by
the International Relations and Political Science Institute
at Vilnius University. Among those invited to attend are
officials from Kaliningrad and the Russian Foreign Ministry.
JC

POLAND CRITICIZES GERMANY OVER COMPENSATION FOR NAZI SLAVE
LABORERS. Deputy Foreign Minister Janusz Stanczyk on 12
January criticized Germany for failing to include Poland in
talks on establishing a compensation fund for former Nazi
slave laborers, "Gazeta wyborcza" reported. Stanczyk noted
that while Germany is holding intensive talks on the issue
with officials in the U.S. and Israel as well as with Jewish
organizations, it has not responded to Poland's call to be
included in those talks. Stanczyk warned that leaving Poland
out of the discussions could lead to an upsurge of anti-
Semitism in Central and East Europe. He said the government
cannot represent Polish Nazi victims in demanding
compensation because in 1953 Poland agreed not to seek World
War II reparations. He added, however, that the government
will support all individual claims. Such claims have been
made recently by some 22,000 Poles (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 11
January 1999). JM

POLISH PREMIER HOSPITALIZED WITH RESPIRATORY TRACT INFECTION.
Jerzy Buzek was hospitalized on 11 January with an infection
of the upper respiratory tract, PAP reported on 12 January. A
government spokesman said Buzek will be out of the office
until the end of this week. This raises doubts about his
participation in a Solidarity Electoral Action (AWS) congress
in Gdansk this weekend. He has been proposed as leader of the
AWS Social Movement, a party that the congress intends to
create to consolidate the current AWS coalition of some 30
right-wing groups. Marian Krzaklewski, current leader of the
AWS and the Solidarity trade union, wants to give up his AWS
post to concentrate on a possible bid for Poland's presidency
in 2000. JM

POLISH OPPOSITION SUBMITS VOTE OF NO CONFIDENCE IN HEALTH
MINISTER. The Democratic Left Alliance (SLD) on 12 January
submitted a vote of no confidence in Health Minister Wojciech
Maksymowicz of the AWS, Polish media reported. The SLD
accuses Maksymowicz for the poorly prepared launch of the
health service reform, which took place this month amid
protests by both doctors and patients (see "RFE/RL Newsline,"
5 January 1999). The opposition Polish Peasant Party has said
it will back the SLD motion. Some Polish media have suggested
that the Freedom Union, the coalition partner of the AWS, may
also vote to oust Maksymowicz. Both coalition partners have
recently bickered over personnel issues (see "RFE/RL
Newsline," 12 January 1999). Meanwhile, AWS leader
Krzaklewski has said the current tension in the coalition may
lead to a "temporary distancing" of the two partners but not
to a "total split." JM

CZECH PARLIAMENT DISCUSSES 1999 BUDGET. The parliament on 12
January began the second reading of the draft budget
submitted by Milos Zeman's cabinet, CTK reported. Civic
Democratic Party (ODS) leader Vaclav Klaus told CTK after a
meeting with Zeman that his party is still unwilling to
support the budget but hinted that it may accept a proposal
by ODS deputy Petr Necas to do so in order not to drive the
ruling Social Democratic Party into the fold of the Communist
Party of Bohemia and Moravia. The Communists are making their
support of the budget conditional on cutting defense
spending. Klaus said that Necas's proposal is only a "worst
case scenario, one that could arise if some other things do
not happen." Zeman said after the meeting in response to a
question by a CTK correspondent that "a person who is not an
optimist has no right to be in politics." MS

CZECH POLICE DISCOVER FASCIST WEB SITE. A 21-year-old student
from Plzen was charged on 11 January with disseminating
fascist propaganda after police discovered fascist symbols
and a photo of a youth giving the Hitler salute on his web
site, CTK reported the next day. A spokesman for the police
said the site began with the inscription "If you are not a
member of the white race, or if you are a Jew, leave this
page immediately." In other news, a spokesman for the owners
of four houses in Usti nad Labem said the government must
purchase their houses after it decided not to allow the
building of a wall that would have separated the owners'
properties from flats built for Romani rent defaulters (see
"RFE/RL Newsline," 11 January 1999). MS

SLOVAK-RUSSIAN MILITARY DEAL CONFIRMED. Slovak Defense
Minister Pavol Kanis on 12 January confirmed to CTK that the
previous government, headed by Vladimir Meciar, signed in
1998 a $158 million agreement on purchasing a Russian S-300
PMU-1 long-distance anti-missile defense system. He said that
he does not believe the agreement can be revoked, but he
stressed the decision on how to deal with the accord is a
"political one" and must be taken by the cabinet. Kanis also
said he does not believe the agreement will endanger
Slovakia's bid to join NATO. Also on 12 January, visiting
U.S. Congress Foreign Committee Chairman Benjamin Gilman told
AP after a meeting with Premier Mikulas Dzurinda that he
believes Slovakia is now in a position to meet the criteria
for NATO membership. He said earlier Slovakia could not have
fulfilled those criteria because of the "spotty democratic
record" of Meciar's government. MS

SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE

VOLLEBAEK ANNOUNCES PRISONER RELEASE IN KOSOVA. Norwegian
Foreign Minister Knut Vollebaek, who holds the rotating OSCE
chair, said in Prishtina on 12 January that the Kosova
Liberation Army (UCK) has agreed to release soon and
unconditionally the eight Yugoslav soldiers it is holding as
prisoners (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 12 January 1999). He gave
no further details. Yugoslav army spokesmen have repeatedly
insisted that all men be released as soon as possible and
without conditions, saying that otherwise the military will
try to free them. UCK spokesmen have stressed that the men
will be released only a few at a time until the Serbian
authorities free nine Kosovars whom they recently captured
near the Albanian border. Observers noted that the army is
under strong pressure from the soldiers' parents and
colleagues to show that it is doing all it can to free the
men. The observers added that the UCK, for its part, is under
pressure from its backers to remain firm. PM

KOSOVARS BURY PROMINENT JOURNALIST. Some 1,000 Kosovars
attended the funeral in Bradash of Enver Maloku, who was
recently killed by unidentified gunmen (see "RFE/RL
Newsline," 12 January 1999). Armed members of the UCK in
uniform provided both security and a guard of honor at the
burial. A spokesman for shadow-state President Ibrahim Rugova
said that the "killing is proof of what the Serbian regime
may do to us if we are journalists." Many prominent Kosovar
political and cultural leaders attended a gathering in
Prishtina to honor Maloku. Several speakers said his death
was a blow to the freedom of the press. PM

WHO KILLED MALOKU? Fehmi Agani, who heads Rugova's
negotiating team, said in Prishtina on 12 January that he is
not certain who killed Maloku. He added that he suspects the
Serbian authorities murdered him in the hope that the
moderates would blame the UCK and thereby widen divisions
within Albanian ranks. Wolfgang Petritsch, who is the EU's
special envoy for Kosova, said that the murder "was the work
of professional killers." He did not say whether he thinks
that those persons were Serbs or Kosovars but added that he
"does not exclude the possibility that rivalries among the
Kosovars were the reason for the killing," RFE/RL's South
Slavic Service reported. PM

EFFORTS CONTINUE TOWARD POLITICAL SOLUTION TO KOSOVA CRISIS.
Vollebaek and Rugova, meeting in Prishtina on 12 January,
discussed the possibilities for a political solution to the
Kosova crisis. The Norwegian minister did not give any
details of the outcome of his talks but told reporters that
he has repeatedly urged Rugova and Yugoslav President
Slobodan Milosevic to work together to obtain a lasting
political settlement. PM

RUSSIA, FRANCE SEEK EXPANDED ROLE FOR CONTACT GROUP. Russian
Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov told a press conference in
Moscow that he and his visiting French counterpart, Hubert
Vedrine, agree that the international contact group must play
a greater role in ending the conflict in Kosova. Ivanov
described the French and Russian positions on Kosova as
"similar or identical," Interfax reported. Vedrine told
reporters that U.S. shuttle diplomacy in the Balkans has not
led to a resolution of the conflict and that time has come
for the Contact Group, which France currently chairs, to take
a more active role. Observers noted that both Paris and
Moscow have long been resentful of U.S. diplomatic prominence
in the former Yugoslavia. PM

SERBIAN MINISTERS BLAST 'CIA INTERFERENCE.' Deputy Prime
Ministers Ratko Markovic, Vojislav Seselj, and Milovan Bojic
told a press conference in Belgrade on 12 January that they
possess what they called "a CIA document" allegedly showing
that U.S. aid for promoting democracy in Serbia is aimed at
bringing down the Milosevic regime. The ministers charged
that the U.S. has increased spending aimed at the
democratization of Serbia from $15 million to $35 million,
but they did not substantiate that claim. The three men
criticized opposition parties, student organizations,
independent media, and labor unions for accepting assistance
from the U.S. The VOA's Serbian Service quoted unnamed U.S.
officials as saying that Washington's support for democracy
in Serbia "is no secret." RFE/RL's South Slavic Service
reported that information on U.S. aid aimed at
democratization in Serbia is available on the internet. PM

ITALIAN DEFENSE MINISTER RULES OUT NATO INTERVENTION IN
KOSOVA. Carlo Scognamiglio told AP in Tirana on 12 January
that he does not think "NATO intervention is the right step
to take." He added that "we should try all political measures
to find a solution to this critical situation." Scognamiglio
stressed, however, that "irresponsible acts could lead to an
escalation of this conflict." He also warned that the strife
"could spread through the region. Such a situation would be
really difficult to control." Scognamiglio discussed with
Prime Minister Pandeli Majko and Defense Minister Luan
Hajdaraga the situation in Kosova. He said that Italy will
provide Albania's army with vehicles and other equipment.
Majko told his cabinet earlier that day that NATO
intervention is necessary to avert renewed fighting in
Kosova. FS

BILDT WANTS NATO TO SEAL BORDER TO PRESURE UCK. Carl Bildt,
who in 1996 was appointed the international community's first
high representative for Bosnia, told the "Financial Times" of
12 January that "the reluctance of NATO to deploy forces in
northern Albania has impaired efforts to work towards a
settlement" in Kosova. He proposed that NATO troops seal the
Albanian-Kosovar border, arguing that "NATO has made clear
that it is ready to use its air power against Serbia. But
[without troops in the area] it has little leverage over
Kosova's ethnic Albanian separatists." Those separatists are
trained in camps in northern Albania. Bildt also warned that
the lack of leverage over the UCK "seriously undermines the
possibility of political progress." And he noted that "as
long as military pressure is not exerted on all sides to the
conflict, it will scarcely be possible to move the political
process forward." FS

UCK SEEKS DONATIONS FROM ALBANIANS ABROAD. In a statement
broadcast by Albanian Television on 12 January, the UCK's
general staff called on ethnic Albanians everywhere to donate
money to the guerrillas. The statement said that ethnic
Albanians should not "wait and watch but instead directly
support the realization of the will of the people" to achieve
Kosova's independence. The statement suggested that such
donations are a "permanent obligation" of all Albanians in
Europe and the U.S. Observers noted that Rugova's shadow
state has long relied on regular contributions from Kosovars
in Western Europe and elsewhere. FS

PLAVSIC SAYS POPLASEN DESTABILIZES REPUBLIKA SRPSKA. Former
Bosnian Serb President Biljana Plavsic said in Banja Luka on
12 January that Nikola Poplasen, her hard-line successor, has
"destabilized the Republika Srpska" by failing to nominate a
prime minister who can command a majority in the parliament
and the support of the international community, "Danas"
reported. PM

CROATIA, SLOVENIA FAIL TO AGREE ON KEY ISSUES. Croatian
Foreign Minister Mate Granic said in Bezanec on 12 January
that he and his Slovenian counterpart, Boris Frlec, failed to
agree on their countries' frontier in the Gulf of Piran,
which has bedeviled bilateral relations since the two
countries seceded from Yugoslavia in 1991. Granic said that
the two men will try again to find a solution on 14 February.
RFE/RL's South Slavic Service says that Croatia will not
allow Slovenia to have a 200-meter access to the open sea
unless Ljubljana makes concessions to Zagreb on other issues,
including the management of the jointly owned nuclear plant
at Krsko and the disposal of nuclear waste. Slovenia wants
Croatia to dispose of the waste until at least 2008,
"Vecernji list" reported. PM

TENSIONS CONTINUE TO GROW OVER ROMANIAN MINERS' THREATS. The
leader of the striking miners in the Jiu Valley, Miron Cozma,
has called on President Emil Constantinescu to mediate in the
conflict and has repeated the threat that the miners will
travel to Bucharest if neither Constantinescu nor Premier
Radu Vasile visits the valley on 13 January. Cozma said
miners will be asked to sign a declaration that they are
going to Bucharest voluntarily. That move, he said, would be
aimed at dispelling "rumors" that the miners are being
manipulated. Cozma and the Greater Romania Party (PRM) also
announced that Cozma's membership in the PRM has been
"temporarily suspended" in order to preclude such rumors.
President Constantinescu said that he will not mediate "for
the time being" because the possibilities of a "dialogue"
between the miners and the government "have not yet been
exhausted." Romanian Television said anti-riot troops have
been deployed on the main road near Petrosani. MS

ROMANIA'S 'MONICAGATE' SCANDAL CONTINUES. A prosecutor has
invited PRM leader Corneliu Vadim Tudor to present proof
concerning his allegations about President Emil
Constantinescu and other politicians and about the "diary" of
actress Rona Hartner, which Tudor recently presented on
nationwide television (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 12 January
1999). Hartner has filed a complaint against Tudor, whom she
accuses of calumny. She is asking for a graphological
examination of the alleged diary, which suggests that
Constantinescu had an extra-marital affair with her. Hartner
is also suing Tudor's close associate Laurean Taifas, who she
says threatened her to acknowledge the diary's authenticity.
MS

BRITISH DEFENSE SECRETARY IN ROMANIA. George Robertson on 12
January met with Premier Radu Vasile, Minister of Defense
Victor Babiuc and Foreign Minister Andrei Plesu. Robertson
said Romania has made progress on reforming its military and
that Britain backs its bid to join NATO. He said Romania
could become a NATO member in a second wave of expansion but
added that this does not mean a decision on a second wave
will be taken at the upcoming Washington summit. Robertson
also expressed concern over developments in Kosova. He and
Plesu said the two countries are worried about Serbian
opposition to Romania's participation in the OSCE mission in
Kosova, AP reported.

BULGARIAN NATIONAL BANK REVOKES CREDIT BANK'S LICENSE. The
National Bank on 12 January revoked the license of Credit
Bank PLC and filed a bankruptcy petition against it, BTA
reported, quoting National Bank Governor Svetoslav Gavriiski
and the bank's supervision department head, Emilia Milanova.
The court must rule on the petition within 14 days. The
decision was prompted by the bank's failure to make payments
for more than seven days. The controversial Multigroup
company owns a majority stake of 62 percent in Credit Bank.
Also on 12 January, Deputy Industry Minister Marin Marinov
told journalists that loss-making state enterprises that have
assets of up to 1 billion leva (nearly $592,000) and were not
sold by 1 January 1999 will either be liquidated or declared
bankrupt. MS

END NOTE

EU CANDIDATES BRACE FOR TOUGHER NEGOTIATIONS

by Breffni O'Rourke

	The five East European countries in the lead for EU
membership are now preparing for a fresh round of
negotiations on the terms of their accession.
	Chief negotiators for the five--Poland, Hungary,
Estonia, the Czech Republic, and Slovenia--have agreed among
themselves to submit their countries' negotiating positions
to the EU Executive Commission by the end of this month. At
stake will be another eight chapters of the "acquis
communautaire," the body of EU rules and regulations to which
the candidate members must conform as part of their
commitment to membership. This will be the second round of
substantive negotiations between Brussels and the candidates.
The first took place in a festive atmosphere last November,
when five chapters of the acquis considered relatively easy
were tackled.
	The eight chapters slated for discussion will contain
some of the more complex issues, including the free movement
of goods, consumer and health protection, fisheries, and
customs union. A senior official with the EU's Expansion Task
Force, Michael Leigh, told RFE/RL that, "It is certainly true
that some of the [issues] which are on the table now, such as
the free movement of goods, are particularly complex. That
heading is not the most difficult in terms of negotiations
necessarily--that remains to be seen--but one of the most
complex, touching a wide variety of industrial fields and a
great deal of community legislation."
	Leigh also noted that the topic of customs union will be
especially complex in negotiations with the Czech Republic,
because the Czechs have a customs union with Slovakia, which
they want to keep. But Slovakia, though a candidate for EU
membership, is not among the front-running applicants, making
it likely that Bratislava will join the EU at a later date
than Prague. The question thus arises of how the Czechs are
to be fully integrated into the EU's internal market while
preserving this eastward link.
	The five eastern candidates, along with the sixth front-
runner, Cyprus, are now busy preparing their negotiating
positions. The chief negotiators of the six, meeting in
Budapest last month, decided that they would follow a common
timetable for submission of their position to the EU--namely,
at the end of this month. Bilateral negotiations between the
EU and the individual delegations will begin in April and May
at the level of senior officials, followed by a foreign
ministers' meeting in June.
	Leigh says that the success of the second round of
negotiations depends largely on the energy and preparedness
of the candidate countries, but he cautions that things could
take time: "I am optimistic that all problems can be overcome
with the necessary work and preparation and desire to find
solutions, and I am sure that during the course of
negotiations all these problems can be overcome, but it is
hard to predict when."
	There is now regular coordination among the six front-
running candidates in the accession process. The heads of the
national negotiating teams have agreed to meet regularly,
with their next talks scheduled in Cyprus in April. They see
this coordination as useful both for their own countries and
for the EU because it creates a certain harmony of approach
in the negotiating process.
	A senior official in the Hungarian Foreign Ministry's
accession team, Zoltan Becsey, told RFE/RL that cooperation
among the six front-runners is amicable. At the same time, he
notes that it is mostly limited to standardizing ways of
approaching the EU: "We discuss many things, but mainly the
procedure, not the content, so we do not discuss the content
of our position papers in advance. After the presentation of
our position papers to the EU, of course, we inform the other
candidates about our views, but there is no concrete
obligation for consultation among us on the content of our
positions."
	The other five East European candidate countries--
Latvia, Lithuania, Slovakia, Romania and Bulgaria--have not
yet reached the stage of substantive negotiations with the
EU. In that second group, Latvia has received particular
encouragement from the European Commission. According to that
body, if Riga keeps up its present level of progress, it
should be ready to open negotiations before the end of this
year.

The author is an RFE/RL senior editor based in Prague.

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Natasha Bulashova, Greg Cole
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Updated: 1998-11-

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