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RFE/RL NEWSLINE

RFE/RL NEWSLINE Vol 3, No. 12, Part II, 19 January 1999


________________________________________________________
RFE/RL NEWSLINE Vol 3, No. 12, Part II, 19 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

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Headlines, Part II

* PUSTOVOYTENKO URGES 'SOUND DEMOCRATIC FORCES' TO UNITE

* BELGRADE EXPELS WALKER

* CLARK SAYS NATO FORCES 'POISED AND READY'

End Note: CAN ALBANIA'S GOVERNMENT FORGE UNITY IN AND
BEYOND KOSOVA?
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EAST-CENTRAL EUROPE

PUSTOVOYTENKO URGES 'SOUND DEMOCRATIC FORCES' TO
UNITE... Ukrainian Prime Minister Valeriy Pustovoytenko
has called upon "sound democratic forces" to form a
nationwide coalition named Zlahoda [Concord], Reuters
reported on 18 January. Although Pustovoytenko declined
to say whom the movement would support in the 1999
presidential elections, analysts in Kyiv predict that
Zlahoda is being created to back President Leonid Kuchma
in his re-election bid. The Popular Democratic Party and
the United Social Democratic Party are expected to form
the core of the new movement. Pustovoytenko said
"Zlahoda" will hold its first nationwide forum in
February. JM

...SHUNS RESPONSIBILITY FOR SIPHONING OFF RUSSIAN GAS.
Pustovoytenko told a cabinet meeting last week that the
government does not intend to "take the blame" for any
unauthorized consumption of Russian transit gas, ITAR-
TASS reported on 18 January. Nor will it bear the
responsibility for any related back payments, he added.
According to Pustovoytenko, since the government has
signed no agreement with Gazprom, it does not consider
it necessary to answer Gazprom head Rem Vyakhirev's
telegram alleging that Ukraine has siphoned off Russian
gas last December (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 12 January
1999). Naftohaz, Gazprom's Ukrainian partner, has also
denied siphoning off Russian gas transiting Ukrainian
territory (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 13 January 1999). JM

BELARUS TO BUY FOREIGN WHEAT. Belarus needs to buy some
300,000 tons of wheat abroad in order to ensure supplies
of bread until the 1999 harvest, Belapan reported on 18
January. According to the Agricultural Ministry, a
smaller grain crop last year is responsible for the
additional purchase. Last fall, the government allocated
$7.5 million for foreign wheat purchases, but that sum
has already been used up. Belarus also needs to buy
800,000 tons of fodder grain. JM

BELARUSIAN CABINET REDISTRIBUTES RESPONSIBILITIES. The
government has adopted a resolution on the
redistribution of cabinet responsibilities between the
prime minister and his deputies, Interfax reported on 18
January. Premier Syarhey Linh is in charge of defense,
domestic, and foreign policies as well as the budget and
financing. First Deputy Premier Vasil Dalhalyou will
oversee economic reform, foreign trade, and integration
with Russia. Deputy Premier Uladzimir Zamyatalin is in
charge of social and cultural issues, science, and
technology. Deputy Premier Leonid Kozik assumes
responsibility for taxation, state property,
privatization, Deputy Premier Valeryy Kokarau industrial
development and the fuel and energy complex, Deputy
Premier Henadz Navitski housing, communications, and
investments, and Deputy Premier Alyaksandr Papkou the
agro-industrial sector and food supplies. JM

HANSAPANK ONLY ESTONIAN MAJOR BANK TO MAKE PROFIT LAST
YEAR. Estonia's largest bank, Hansapank, was the only
major bank in the country to make a profit last year,
ETA reported on 18 January. In a statement, the Central
Bank said that Hansapank had registered a pre-audit
profit of 310.8 million kroons (some $24 million),
compared with 382 million kroons in 1997. Hansapank's
assets rose from 9.8 billion kroons in 1997 to 21.3
billion kroons in 1998 after it took over Hoiupank. The
second-largest bank, Uhispank, registered a loss of
290,000 million kroons, compared with a 211.1 million
kroons profit in 1997. Its assets totaled 13.6 billion
kroons (9.85 billion kroons last year).The third-largest
Estonian bank, Optiva, whose assets stand at 3.2 billion
kroons, reported a loss of 179.3 million kroons. JC

LATVIAN PREMIER STRESSES PRO-NATO POLICY FOLLOWING
FABRICATED SOLANA INTERVIEW... Vilis Kristopans says
Latvia will continue its efforts aimed at joining NATO
since its improved relations with Moscow do not preclude
eventual Latvian membership in NATO, BNS and LETA
reported on 18 January. Kristopans was responding to an
article in a publication by the Washington-based
Jamestown Foundation suggesting that the recently
fabricated interview with NATO Secretary-General Javier
Solana reflects efforts by some Latvian politicians to
revise Latvia's security policies. That interview was
penned by then press secretary of Latvia's Way, Mikhail
Mamilov (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 14 and 15 January 1999).
Kristopans, a member of Latvia's Way, described the
Jamestown article as containing "inaccurate" assertions.
People's Party Chairman Andris Skele, meanwhile, has
asked Latvia's Way to explain its stance on the
fabricated interview as well as on Kristopans's November
1998 interview with "Nezavisimaya gazeta" in which the
premier suggested that Latvian-Russian relations must be
as good as those between Finland and Russia. JC

...WHILE AUTHOR OF INTERVIEW EXPRESSES 'REGRET.' Also on
18 January, Mamilov apologized to the board of Latvia's
Way and expressed regret for the interview, LETA
reported on 18 January. The agency quotes Mamilov as
saying that he had no idea that the interview would
create "such a furore." He has been released from the
post of party press secretary, after submitting his
resignation. "Respublika," for its part, published an
explanatory statement by Mamilov as well as a NATO
statement saying the interview was a fabrication, but
the newspaper has yet to publish a retraction. JC

LITHUANIAN MILITARY EXPERTS IN KALININGRAD TO INSPECT
BALTIC FLEET. A group of Lithuanian military inspectors
arrived in Kaliningrad Oblast on 18 January to inspect
units of Russia's Baltic Fleet, BNS and ITAR-TASS
reported. The inspections are taking place in line with
a treaty on security- and confidence-building measures
in Europe signed in Vienna in March 1990. Over the next
four days, the Lithuanian inspectors will evaluate
information that Russia has provided on military
hardware and personnel in the exclave. This is the first
time that Lithuanian military experts have carried out
inspections of Russia's Baltic Fleet. JC

POLISH COALITION NEGOTIATES TO EASE CRISIS. The
coalition Solidarity Electoral Action (AWS) and Freedom
Union (UW) launched negotiations on 18 January in a bid
to deal with recent infighting over the faltering health
reform and lack of voting discipline within the cabinet
(see "RFE/RL Newsline," 13 and 15 January 1999).
According to PAP, the talks will also touch upon changes
in the AWS-UW coalition agreement. The UW has threatened
to leave the government unless the AWS meets the UW's
conditions. In particular, the UW demands that the AWS
dismiss its health minister, introduce changes in the
health system, withdraw a Solidarity plan to distribute
state assets among all citizens, reduce the number of
government officials, and punish the two ministers
guilty of opposing privatization in the parliament. JM

WESTERN INVESTMENTS IN POLAND'S AGRICULTURAL SECTOR. The
German sugar concern Nordzucker plans to invest up to
500,000 German marks ($297,000) in sugar plants in
Poland, PAP reported on 18 January. The concern,
Europe's fourth-largest sugar producer, intends to
create three sugar-producing regions in northeastern
Poland, which, it says, will be able to compete on the
European market. Meanwhile, U.S. Smithfield Foods plans
to invest $50 million in Polish pig farms, Reuters
reported the same day. If that venture proves
successful, Smithfield Foods will eventually invest $300
million in Poland. The company says Poland is attractive
for investing in this industry because of its high per-
capita consumption of pork and relatively cheap
farmland. JM

HAVEL MEETS WITH KLAUS... Czech President Vaclav Havel
has expressed satisfaction over his 18 January meeting
with opposition Civic Democratic Party (ODS) leader
Vaclav Klaus, saying he will meet with other politicians
to conduct a dialogue with them, too. He told
journalists that those meetings "will probably produce
somethingŠmore concrete than what you can report now."
Klaus said the meeting's goal had been to "speak frankly
about [the Czech Republic's] fundamental political
questions at the present." The meeting was initiated by
Klaus following Havel's New Year's speech (see "RFE/RL
Newsline," 4 January 1999). Havel also said he has never
made a secret of the fact that he is not "enthusiastic"
about the agreement between the ruling Social Democratic
Party and the ODS but has never "plotted or undermined
it." He added that he regards the agreement as having
been "the only possible solution at that time." MS

...DISMISSES SPECULATION HE MIGHT RESIGN. Havel also
said that he himself has not heard Klaus is going to run
for president but that he welcomes the debate on his
succession, CTK and AP reported. He noted that his term
of office is four years and dismissed speculation that
he may resign before the end of that term. Speculation
on Havel's intention to resign began last month, when
Havel said he is "not going to stay in office against
the will of the nation" in response to an opinion poll
that showed his popularity was dropping. MS

MECIAR WANTS TO SUE JOURNALIST. Former Slovak Premier
Vladimir Meciar has decided to sue a journalist from
Markiza TV for "illegally bugging his conversations" at
the funeral of former Economy Minister Jan Ducky on 15
January, CTK reported citing "Slovenska republika." The
journalist, Henrich Krejca, told CTK that the
accusations are "absurd" and that it was "technically
impossible for a cameraman" to bug the conversation from
that distance. TV Markiza said it is considering filing
a libel suit against Meciar for "discrediting and
insulting journalists" during the funeral (see "RFE/RL
Newsline," 18 January 1999). Czech Prima TV editor Petr
Schwartz said Prima TV is also considering legal action.
MS

DZURINDA WANTS CONCRETE TIMETABLE FOR JOINING NATO.
Slovak Prime Minister Mikulas Dzurinda told an OSCE
seminar in Bratislava on 18 January that the forthcoming
April NATO summit in Washington must specify "a concrete
timetable for Slovakia's invitation to join the
alliance," CTK reported. Dzurinda pointed out that the
removal of the Meciar government was supported by two-
thirds of Slovak voters and that Bratislava is now
waiting for "an elementary change in the attitude of its
foreign partners," who, he said, no longer have any
reason to criticize "the shortcomings of
democratization" under Meciar. MS

SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE

BELGRADE EXPELS WALKER. The Yugoslav government issued a
statement on 18 January declaring William Walker, who
heads the OSCE monitoring mission in Kosova, to be
"persona non grata" and giving him 48 hours to leave the
country. The statement added that Walker's unspecified
activities were in "flagrant contradiction with the
arrangements" between Yugoslav President Slobodan
Milosevic and the OSCE. Walker recently said that the
Serbian security forces massacred some 45 Kosovar
civilians in Recak on 15 January. The Serbian
authorities maintain that the villagers died in combat
(see "RFE/RL Newsline," 18 January 1999). Meanwhile in
the Shtima area, Serbian forces continued on 19 January
to shell several ethnic Albanian villages, the KIC news
agency reported. PM

KOSOVARS SLAM EXPULSION ORDER. Leading Kosovar political
figures on 19 January expressed strong objections to the
decision to expel Walker, AP reported. Shadow-state
parliamentary Speaker Iliaz Kurteshi called the move "an
act without precedent" and a "hard blow against peace
efforts in Kosova." Shadow-state President Ibrahim
Rugova's spokesman said "this decision shows clear
arrogance toward Kosova's Albanians and also toward the
international community." Christian Democratic leader
Mark Krasniqi argued that "Walker only told the world of
the harrowing scenes he saw in Recak village." "Casting
Walker out will not help the regime hide the horrible
truth about what happened here," noted Qerim Ujkani,
leader of the Albanian National Democrats. The
independent daily "Koha Ditore" charged that the Serbian
authorities "tampered with the evidence" of the massacre
when they brought the corpses from Recak to Prishtina on
18 January. PM

U.S. SAYS MILOSEVIC 'PLAYING WITH FIRE.' State
Department Spokesman James Rubin said in Washington on
18 January that Milosevic is "playing with fire" by
expelling Walker. Rubin urged the Serbian leader to
reconsider the "spurious and unworthy" decision. The
spokesman called the decision "a transparent attempt to
divert attention from the tragic massacre." Secretary of
State Madeleine Albright said Milosevic is making a
"grave mistake" if he does not observe the agreement he
reached with U.S. special envoy Richard Holbrooke in
October, under which the monitoring mission was set up.
She called the Recak massacre "unacceptable." VOA's
Serbian Service quoted an unnamed "senior American
official" as calling the expulsion "outrageous."
Holbrooke told CNN that "the situation is as serious
now--perhaps more serious--than it was last October." He
added that he is sure that Milosevic understands this.
PM

OSCE TO RECONSIDER MONITORING MISSION. Norwegian Foreign
Minister Knut Vollebaek, who currently holds the
rotating OSCE chair, will discuss the future of the
monitoring mission in Kosova with his Polish and
Austrian counterparts, who are the other two members of
the OSCE's troika, in Vienna on 20 January. Vollebaek
said on 18 January that Milosevic "has challenged the
whole international community" by expelling Walker. The
Norwegian minister added that the result of Milosevic's
decision may be an increase in violence in Kosova. In
Paris, President Jacques Chirac said that France must
reconsider its policy regarding Kosova in the aftermath
of the Recak massacre, RFE/RL's South Slavic Service
reported. PM

BELGRADE BARS ARBOUR. The Yugoslav authorities on 18
January refused an entry visa to Louise Arbour, who is
the Hague-based war crimes tribunal's chief prosecutor.
She arrived at the Kosovar frontier with Macedonia to
investigate the massacre at Recak. The Yugoslav
government issued a statement saying that the court has
no authority in Kosova because "the issue there is not
one of armed conflict but of [combating] terrorism." PM

CLARK SAYS NATO FORCES 'POISED AND READY.' General
Wesley Clark, who is the Atlantic alliance's supreme
commander in Europe, left Brussels for Belgrade on 19
January to meet with Milosevic (see "RFE/RL Newsline,"
18 January 1999). Before departing, Clark told the BBC
that NATO contingency plans for launching air strikes
against Serbia are "very much alive" and that the
alliance's forces "are poised and ready should they be
called on today." Clark added that "Milosevic and the
Yugoslav government should be under no illusions: NATO
is engaged [and] very serious." NATO Secretary-General
Javier Solana said the previous day that "the
temperature [regarding the Kosova crisis] may rise and
we have to do something more dramatic." He did not
elaborate. In Rome, Prime Minister Massimo D'Alema said
that Italy will support any NATO decision to intervene
in Kosova and will make its military facilities
available to the alliance. PM

GERMANY WARNS AGAINST 'MUSCLE-FLEXING.' German Foreign
Minister Joschka Fischer told dpa in Bonn on 19 January
that the "situation [in Kosova] is far too serious for
muscle-flexing." He noted that the West needs to "keep a
cool head" in dealing with Milosevic. Defense Minister
Rudolf Scharping told the "Frankfurter Rundschau" that a
diplomatic solution must be found and that he is
"astonished how quickly some people [came to] think
about a military option" for Kosova. In New York, the UN
Security Council issued a statement condemning the Recak
massacre and called for an investigation but did not say
who is responsible for the killings. PM

ALBANIAN PARLIAMENT CALLS FOR NATO INTERVENTION...
Legislators from Albania's two main rival political
parties, the Socialists and Democrats, have passed a
joint resolution urging NATO to intervene in Kosova,
Reuters reported on 18 January. They appealed to all
Albanians to show solidarity with the Kosovars and
stressed that "only [urgent] armed intervention by NATO
will end the bloodshed and create conditions for the
start of dialogue." In a separate resolution, the
legislators declared that Albania "will never abandon
the Kosovars to the mercy of Serbia." The text added
that "our salvation should come primarily by our own
hands." The session was the first in which Democratic
Party legislators have participated since September. As
part of the display of unity over Kosova, opposition
leader Sali Berisha met with Prime Minister Pandeli
Majko for two hours and subsequently called on all
"Albanian political forces" to take a common stand on
Kosova. FS

...WHILE PARTIES ADOPT JOINT DECLARATION ON KOSOVA.
Representatives of the 10 largest political parties in
Albania have agreed on a common platform vis-ą-vis
Kosova. In a joint declaration, the parties say they are
"committed to ensuring that all Albanian political
forces support [ethnic Albanian] political and military
forces in the Republic of Kosova," dpa reported on 19
January. The document adds that "the parties support the
efforts of Kosova Albanians for survival, existence, and
self-defense as well as their political efforts for
self-determination." The parties urge NATO to use force
in order to "make Milosevic take reasonable stands" and
call "on all citizens of Albania and Albanians wherever
they are in the world to show their solidarity with
Kosova Albanians on the basis of the principle 'One
Nation, One Stand'" (a slogan coined earlier by
Berisha). The resolution is a rare display of unity
among politicians who are well known for their feuds
(see also "End Note" below). FS

ROMANIAN MINERS REMOVE LAST BARRICADE ON ROAD TO
BUCHAREST. Miners in the Jiu Valley used heavy equipment
on 19 January to remove the last of several barricades
erected by police on the road between Petrosani and
Targu Jiu, Romanian Radio reported. In a failed attempt
to stop the miners' progressing to Targu Jiu (some 250
kilometers from Bucharest) on their way to Bucharest,
police deployed tear gas from helicopters. Six people
were hospitalized with broken bones and/or sicknesses
induced by tear gas. Prime Minister Radu Vasile on 18
January said for the first time that he is ready to
negotiate with the striking miners in order to avoid
further conflict, provided that they agree to resume
work immediately. The miners, however, have opted to
continue their march on the capital, an RFE/RL
correspondent reported. MS

MOLDOVAN UNIONS RESUME PROTESTS. Several thousand
teachers, university staff, and library employees
protested in front of the government's headquarters in
Chisinau on 18 January over wage arrears and the
government's failure to fulfill the obligations it
undertook following the protests last December, RFE/RL's
Chisinau bureau reported. MS

SECOND OIL SLICK FOUND ON DANUBE IN BULGARIA. A 5-
kilometer-long slick of oil was discovered on 18 January
on River Danube near the northwestern Bulgarian city of
Vidin, dpa and Reuters reported. The slick is the second
to be discovered on the river in the last five days.
Bulgarian environmental officials have ruled out the
possibility that Bulgarian industrial complexes are the
source of the pollution. Minister of the Environment
Evdokia Maneva has sent a letter to her Serbian
counterpart requesting clarification of the incidents.
Experts determined that the earlier oil slick originated
in Serbia. MS

END NOTE

CAN ALBANIA'S GOVERNMENT FORGE UNITY IN AND BEYOND
KOSOVA?

by Fabian Schmidt

	Albania's Socialist-led coalition government
launched a campaign in early January to bring several
rival Kosovar political representatives to the
negotiating table in Tirana. Prime Minister Pandeli
Majko hopes that the participants in the meeting, which
is scheduled for the second half of January, will be
able to agree on a joint political strategy for
negotiations on the region's future. The plan appears
ambitious, given the deep divisions among the Kosovars.
The main gap that Majko will have to bridge is the one
separating the Kosova Liberation Army (UCK) and
moderate, shadow-state President Ibrahim Rugova. If he
succeeds in doing so, he may also bring Albania's
Socialists and opposition Democrats closer together.
	Paradoxically, the declared political aims of the
UCK and Rugova are not substantially different. Both
have made clear that they want independence from Serbia
and will not accept any political status for the region
that involves less self-rule than the Republika Srpska
obtained in the Dayton agreement. But the rivalry
between the two intensified when the UCK sidelined the
pacifist Rugova during the bloody battles with Serbian
security forces in 1998. The UCK began to exercise
growing influence over the political agenda in the
region and undermined Rugova's strategy of peaceful
resistance. Guerrilla spokesmen accused the shadow-state
president of conducting a policy of "passivism" rather
than "pacifism."
	Despite the cease-fire mediated by U.S. envoy
Richard Holbrooke in October and the subsequent
deployment of OSCE verifiers in the region, the UCK has
stressed that it will pursue its goal of independence,
if needs be by continuing its armed struggle. It is
currently unclear who on the Kosovar side has the real
political authority to negotiate any settlement with the
Serbs. The UCK has so far remained outside the
negotiating process, while its political representative,
Adem Demaci, has repeatedly warned that no long-term
settlement will be possible without the involvement of
the UCK. Furthermore, the UCK has called upon Kosovars
living abroad to donate money to "our people and its
army" and not to "serve the political interests of
certain clans and their petty interests." Observers see
this as a reference to Rugova's shadow state, which
imposes a 3 percent income tax on all Kosovars to
finance the shadow state's health and school systems.
	Majko's task is to convince the Kosovars that it is
in their interests to find a common language among
themselves, one that would enable them to appoint a
negotiating team representing the broad majority of
Kosovars. But at the same time, his role as a broker is
burdened by Albania's official position toward Kosova,
which is in conflict with that of both Rugova and the
UCK. Tirana has made clear repeatedly that it would not
support the separation of Kosova from Yugoslavia but
would opt for a status within the federal Yugoslavia
that would make Kosova a federal republic with a status
equal to that of Serbia and Montenegro.
	Majko's initiative is thus also aimed at
reconciling the position of Tirana with that of the
Kosovars. It is to his advantage that he has the broad
support of the parliament, including parts of the
opposition. Indeed, the legislature's Foreign Relations
Committee has urged the government to work toward such
reconciliation. Whether the dialogue that Majko has
initiated succeeds or fails will directly affect his
domestic political position.
	The opposition Democratic Party and former
President Sali Berisha have long given vocal support to
the Kosovar cause. The Democrats harshly criticized
Majko's Socialist predecessor, Fatos Nano, who tried to
take a conciliatory approach toward Yugoslavia in late
1997 by offering regional cooperation. The Democrats
charged Nano with treason, arguing that he had abandoned
the Kosovars and was negotiating behind their back. Most
Kosovars agreed with the Democrats' criticism.
	Rugova even declined to visit Tirana after Nano met
with Milosevic on Crete in late 1997 and has yet to
travel to the Albanian capital. Nonetheless, the
official position of the previous Democratic Party
government toward Kosova did not significantly differ
from that of the Socialists. No Albanian government can
economically or politically afford to alienate the
international community, which is opposed to
independence for Kosova.
	Majko will have not much room for maneuvering, but
he has the support of Western envoys, who hope that a
unified Kosovar and Albanian position will make
negotiations with Belgrade easier. So far he has met in
Tirana with Demaci, shadow-state Prime Minister Bujar
Bukoshi, and the nationalist academic Rexhep Qosja, who
is a prominent leader of Kosova's United Democratic
Movement. All of those politicians have criticized
Rugova's approach but expressed their willingness to
engage in a discussion.
	Majko is now trying to convince Rugova to come to
the negotiating table in Tirana. Success will give a big
boost to his prestige both in Albania and abroad. But
failure will weaken his domestic position and give the
opposition an opportunity to push for new elections.

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