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RFE/RL NEWSLINE

RFE/RL NEWSLINE Vol 3, No. 29, Part II, 11 February 1999


________________________________________________________
RFE/RL NEWSLINE Vol 3, No. 29, Part II, 11 February 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

* ETHNIC HUNGARIANS ACCUSE SLOVAK COALITION OF BREAKING
AGREEMENT

* POLITICAL JOUSTING CONTINUES OVER RAMBOUILLET

* BULGARIA, MACEDONIA ACHIEVE BREAKTHROUGH IN LANGUAGE
DISPUTE

End Note: SPARRING OVER SEVASTOPOL
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EAST-CENTRAL EUROPE

UKRAINIAN PRESIDENT SACKS ENERGY MINISTER. Leonid Kuchma
signed a decree on 10 February firing Energy Minister
Oleksiy Sheberstov for "serious faults in his work,"
ITAR-TASS reported. Kuchma announced at a national
meeting of farmers the previous day that he intended to
replace Sheberstov because of continued power cuts to
rural areas in Ukraine. A successor was not named.
Kuchma also formally invited Pope John Paul II to visit
Ukraine this year. PB

LEBED SAYS MOSCOW-KYIV TREATY NEEDS CHANGES. Krasnoyarsk
Krai Governor Aleksandr Lebed said on 10 February that
he objects to the clause in the Russian-Ukrainian treaty
that refers to the Black Sea port Sevastopol as a
Ukrainian city, ITAR-TASS reported. Lebed said
Sevastopol "must belong to Russia." The port is home to
Russia's Black Sea fleet. It belonged to Russia but was
ceded to Ukraine in 1954 by Soviet leader Nikita
Khrushchev. Lebed said there are some other provisions
in the treaty that he opposes, adding that it would be a
mistake to ratify the document as it currently stands
(see also "End Note" below). PB

POLISH DEFENSE MINISTER IN KYIV. Janusz Onyszkiewicz
said on 10 February that Ukraine will remain a strategic
partner for Poland after it joins NATO, Reuters
reported. Onyszkiewicz, on a two-day official visit,
said the "line" that will be formed after NATO expansion
will "not be a definitive barrier." President Kuchma
thanked Onyszkiewicz for his country's support for
Kyiv's integration into European structures.
Onyszkiewicz also discussed the formation of a joint
battalion with his Ukrainian counterpart, Oleksandr
Kuzmuk. Kuzmuk announced that several thousand soldiers
from 25 countries will participate in NATO peace-keeping
exercises, called Peace Shield 99, in the western city
of Lviv in August. PB

BELARUSIAN PRESIDENT SAYS 1999 A YEAR OF 'STABILITY.'
Alyaksandr Lukashenka said that current economic woes in
the country are temporary and that 1999 will be a year
of "economic and financial stability," Belapan reported
on 10 February. Lukashenka, speaking at a conference in
Minsk on socio-economic development, said the government
can "provide the nation with everything." But he asked
why "GDP is growing but people are getting poorer. Why
can neither the government nor anybody else answer this
question for me?" Lukashenka also announced that a
commission will be set up to monitor the Central Bank
and the banking system. PB

EESTI TELEKOM TENDER OVERSUBSCRIBED BY 15 TIMES. The
Transport and Communications Ministry on 10 February
announced that the 36 million shares on offer in the
Eesti Telekom tender, which closed the previous day,
were oversubscribed by more than 15 times, ETA reported.
The total value of the tender is put at 3.1 billion
kroons (some $238 million), while the market value of
Eesti Telekom after restructuring is estimated at 11.8
billion kroons, the ministry said. According to the news
agency, the tender is the largest ever organized by a
company in the Baltic States. JC

LUKOIL PRESIDENT IN VENTSPILS. Vagit Alekperov visited
the Latvian port of Ventspils on 10 February to discuss
his company's possible participation in the construction
of a new transit pipeline through Latvia, "Diena"
reported. The LUKoil president told journalists that
such participation would require "serious Russian-
Latvian intergovernmental discussions" and possibly a
"political agreement" between the two countries. The
Russian company reportedly is seeking lower tariffs for
the transit of oil through Latvia. Alekperov, who also
met with Prime Minister Vilis Kristopans and Transport
Minister Anatolijs Gorbunovs in Riga, is currently
touring all three Baltic States to consider possible
investments in oil transit projects. JC

LATVIA BECOMES WTO MEMBER. Latvia on 10 February
officially became a full member of the World Trade
Organization, following the completion of the
application process, BNS and "Diena" reported. JC

LANDBERGIS REMINDS GERMANY ABOUT NAZI OCCUPATION.
Lithuanian parliamentary chairman Vytautas Landsbergis
said in a 10 February statement that he hopes Germany
will not forget the role it played in the Baltic States'
losing their independence during World War II, BNS
reported. Landsbergis's statement was issued in response
to a recent statement by German Chancellor Gerhard
Schroeder that he does not expect a decision on future
members to be taken at NATO's April summit (see "RFE/RL
Newsline," 9 February 1999). Landsbergis argued that
Germany should help the Baltic States to repulse
attempts at restricting the Baltic States' "restored
independence at a time when Russian diplomacy interprets
the Stalin-Hitler crime as a legal 'red line,' [which]
still oppresses the formerly occupied states." JC

LIETUVOS ENERGIJA TO BE SUED. The Lithuanian State
Control Department's Office of Investigations has
launched criminal proceedings against the energy utility
Lietuvos Energija over " financial violations" related
to the sale of electricity to Belarus. Under a three-way
contract concluded in January 1998, Lietuvos Energija
supplied electricity worth $89 million to Belarus but
received only some $2 million from the mediator, Baltic
Shem, which was responsible for securing payments.
Although Baltic Shem failed to meet its
responsibilities, Lietuvos Energija wrote off some $12.5
million in mediation expenses but could produce no
documents justifying those costs. JC

MAZEIKIAI NAFTA TO SEEK ALTERNATIVE SUPPLIERS? Gediminas
Kiesus, director-general of Lithuania's Mazeikiai Nafta
refinery, says his company should seek alternative
supplies of crude oil in order to avoid stoppages and
losses, ELTA reported on 11 February, citing "Lietuvos
Aidas." Kiesus said the refinery should buy two-thirds
of its crude oil requirements from Russia and one-third
from Western suppliers to avoid losses in the future.
Earlier this month, the refinery was forced to close
down for some 10 days when Russian crude supplies were
halted. JC

POLISH GOVERNMENT'S POPULARITY SINKS. A poll shows that
a majority of people disapprove of the performance of
Premier Jerzy Buzek's government, AFP reported. Some 58
percent of respondents said the government is "working
badly," while only 29 percent supported the government's
performance. In November, some 43 percent of Poles had
endorsed the government. Since then, cabinet ministers
have come under fire for progressive reforms of the
health, education, and pension systems, as well as
attempts to reform the agricultural sector in accordance
with EU standards. Buzek said the low approval rating
was a result of the government's poor efforts in
informing the public of its work. He said it is
important to "take courageous actions with an eye to the
future," Polish Radio reported. There are persistent
reports in the media that Buzek will reshuffle or
restructure the government. PB

EASTERN EUROPEAN FINANCE MINISTERS TELL EU TO REFORM
ITSELF. Meeting in Warsaw, finance ministers from five
Central and Eastern European countries aspiring to join
the EU urged the union to accelerate internal reforms so
that it can add new members, AP reported. After talks
with his counterparts from Hungary, the Czech Republic,
Estonia, and Slovenia, Polish Finance Minister Leszek
Balcerowicz said "we call on the EU to open up faster
and to reform itself faster...to speed up its ability to
accept new members." Balcerowicz also called for the EU
to stop selling subsidized goods to the region, saying
that such imports created "complications." The ministers
agreed to meet next in Budapest in August. PB

ETHNIC HUNGARIANS ACCUSE SLOVAK COALITION OF BREAKING
AGREEMENT. Hungarian Coalition Party (SMK) chairman Bela
Bugar on 10 February told journalists that the SMK "does
not trust" Agriculture Minister Pavol Koncos, a member
of the Party of the Democratic Left (SDL), CTK reported.
Bugar said Koncos has ignored a "verbal agreement" to
appoint an SMK member head of the Slovak Land Fund. The
fund manages state-owned land mainly in southern
Slovakia, where a large number of ethnic Hungarians
live. The opposition suspects the SMK of intending to
use the fund to restitute land confiscated under the
Benes decrees. SDL deputy chairman Lubomir Adrassy said
he knows of no such agreement, but other coalition
members confirmed that during talks on forming a new
coalition, the SMK agreed to withdraw its demand for the
post of agriculture minister in exchange for the
leadership of the fund. MS

ORBAN SPEAKS OUT ON HUNGARIAN-ROMANIAN DEVELOPMENTS.
Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban told journalists
on 10 February, that NATO and the EU will consult with
Hungary before they decide on Romanian membership
because "Budapest knows Romania best." He added that
"the parliament of each [NATO-member] state will have to
approve further NATO enlargement and that includes the
Hungarian parliament as well." While acknowledging that
last week's failed elections to the National Romanian
Minority Self-Government had been problematic and had to
be canceled (Orban ordered a probe into the elections),
he rejected criticism of minorities' representation in
Hungary, saying it is the only European system that
recognizes "collective rights". During his recent visit
to Hungary, Romanian Prime Minister Radu Vasile denied
allegations that Bucharest wants to link the issue of
the National Romanian Minority Self-Government to that
of setting up a Hungarian-German university in Romania.
MSZ/MS

HUNGARIAN-SLOVAK COMMITTEE MAKES FIRST RECOMMENDATIONS.
The recently established Hungarian-Slovak Minority
Affairs Committee (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 9 February
1999) has proposed that during the term of the current
parliament, Hungary find a legal solution to the
parliamentary representation of ethnic minorities,
Hungarian media reported on 11 February. The committee
also suggested the establishment of Hungarian-language
faculties in Slovak universities and Slovak-language
faculties in Hungarian universities. MSZ

SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE

POLITICAL JOUSTING CONTINUES OVER RAMBOUILLET. Yugoslav
President Slobodan Milosevic demanded in a statement
released in Belgrade on 10 February that the Kosovar
delegation to the talks on a political settlement in
Kosova renounce independence. He called such a
renunciation "the only way to secure a successful
solution" to the crisis. The next day, Serbian President
Milan Milutinovic arrived in Rambouillet for what
Serbian media called a brief visit. Observers have noted
that the Serbian delegation to the talks includes none
of Belgrade's leading decision-makers and is not as
high-ranking as the Kosovar one. French Foreign Minister
Hubert Vedrine and his British counterpart, Robin Cook,
are also slated to attend the talks on 11 February. It
will be their third appearance together at Rambouillet
in an effort to put pressure on the Serbian and Kosovar
delegations to reach an agreement. AP reported that the
two sides have yet to approve "a single line of peace
text." PM

NO ROOM IN THE CHATEAU FOR ARTEMIJE. Serbian Orthodox
Bishop Artemije of Raska and Prizren met reporters in
the snow outside the Rambouillet castle on 10 February
after conference officials told him that there was no
room inside the chateau for him to meet with
journalists. The spiritual leader of Kosova's Serbs
argued that the Belgrade delegation to the talks
represents neither him nor his followers (see "RFE/RL
Newsline," 4 February 1999). "They represent only two
parties: Milosevic's Socialists and his wife's neo-
communistsŠ. If we had confidence in them, we would not
be here. The only possible solutionŠis for Serbia to
become democratic. And that cannot happen while
Milosevic is in chargeŠ. We want a solution that will
prevent a Serbian exodus from the province," Reuters
quoted him as saying. Momcilo Trajkovic, the political
leader of the Kosovar Serbs, accompanied the bishop. PM

MONTENEGRO BACKS ADRIATIC ROAD PROJECT. President Milo
Djukanovic told Greek Foreign Minister Theodoros
Pangalos in Podgorica on 10 February that his government
supports the construction of the proposed Adriatic
highway, RFE/RL's South Slavic Service reported. The
road would link Greece, Albania, Montenegro, Croatia,
Bosnia, Slovenia, and Italy and greatly facilitate
travel and shipments (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 24 November
1998). PM

DJOKIC IN PRIME MINISTER'S RACE AFTER ALL? Republika
Srpska parliamentary speaker Petar Djokic said in Banja
Luka on 10 February that he wants his party to decide
whether he should accept President Nikola Poplasen's
nomination for prime minister, RFE/RL's South Slavic
Service reported. The international community's Carlos
Westendorp had said earlier that Djokic told him that he
is not interested in the nomination. Also on 10
February, the Republika Srpska government began charging
customs fees on imports from Serbia and Montenegro. PM

BOSNIA GETS NEW NATIONAL ANTHEM. The joint parliament in
Sarajevo on 10 February overwhelmingly approved the
composition "Intermezzo" as the republic's national
anthem. At least for the time being, the anthem will
have no text. "Oslobodjenje" reported that the
composition is "based on the modern European classical
tradition" and purposely does not include themes from
either Croatian, Serbian, or Muslim folk music. PM

ANOTHER CROATIAN MEDIA CHIEF QUITS. Mirko Galic resigned
his post on the management board of Croatian Television
on 10 February. He charged that unspecified political
interference prevented him from carrying out reforms or
performing his duties in a professional or independent
manner, "Jutarnji list" reported. The head of the state-
run news agency recently quit his post because of
interference by the governing Croatian Democratic
Community. PM

ISRAEL TO MODERNIZE CROATIA'S MIGS. The Croatian Defense
Ministry has concluded an agreement with an Israeli firm
to modernize 24 aging MiG 21s in order to bring them up
to NATO standards. The work will take place at Velika
Gorica and cost approximately $3 million per aircraft,
"Vecernji list" reported on 11 February. The agreement
comes after years of speculation in the media that
Croatia seeks Israeli technology to upgrade the MiGs
because NATO countries have reportedly refused to sell
Zagreb state-of-the-art aircraft. Since obtaining
independence in 1991, Croatia has sought to bring its
military up to NATO standards. In top commands, Western-
trained officers have gradually replaced veterans of the
former Yugoslav army, whose training focused on
conducting a defensive guerrilla war. PM

BULGARIA, MACEDONIA ACHIEVE BREAKTHROUGH IN LANGUAGE
DISPUTE... Prime Minister Ivan Kostov told the
parliament on 10 February that the governments of
Macedonia and Bulgaria have reached an agreement "to
sign a joint declaration...in the official languages of
the two countries" pledging that they have no
territorial claims on each other, BTA reported. Kostov
said the joint declaration will end "the artificial
problem between our states and open the way for signing
some 20 bilateral agreements." The declaration is to be
signed on 22 February, during Macedonian Premier Ljubco
Georgievski's planned visit to Sofia. Bulgaria was the
first state to recognize Macedonia in 1992 but has
refused to recognize a separate Macedonian nation or
language, insisting that Macedonian is a Bulgarian
dialect. The dispute hindered the signing of bilateral
agreements. MS

...WHILE BULGARIAN OPPOSITION CRITICIZES AGREEMENT WITH
MACEDONIA. Socialist Party leader Georgi Parvanov argued
that the agreement is a "grave political compromise"
because it recognizes the Macedonian language. He added
that the accord raises two questions, namely whether
Macedonia will renounce claims that a Macedonian
minority lives in Bulgaria and whether Skopje is
"withdrawing claims on Bulgarian history." Euro-Left
deputy Elena Poptodorova said the agreement must be
debated by the parliament's Foreign Relations Committee.
If it is approved, the government must begin to "show
care for that group of Macedonian citizens who
identifies itself as Bulgarian," she added. Prosecutor-
General Ivan Tatarchev said the recognition of the
Macedonian language is "a mistake, putting it mildly."
Also on 10 February, Deputy Premier Alexander Bozhkov
announced that during Georgievski's visit an agreement
abolishing all trade restrictions between the two
countries will be signed, BTA reported. MS

ALBANIAN INVESTIGATORS BUG BERISHA'S PHONE. Democratic
Party Deputy Chairman Genc Pollo told Klan TV on 10
February that the Prosecutor-General's office is tapping
the telephone of former President Sali Berisha. Pollo
said this proved that "a return to the communist past is
the ultimate goal of the [governing Socialists]." On
public television, Prosecutor-General Arben Rakipi
confirmed the tapping, saying that a Tirana court had
approved the measure after Berisha declined to appear
before investigators examining the 1998 coup attempt.
Rakipi told "Shekulli" that move is legal and that he is
"very satisfied" with the results. He did not elaborate.
Berisha is charged with organizing an attempted coup on
14 September. The parliament lifted his immunity in fall
1998. FS

SOUTHERN ALBANIAN BUS DRIVERS WANT TO LIMIT COMPETITION.
Bus drivers and trade union activists blocked the main
highway to Greece on 9-10 February for several hours
each day until police forced them to move. The protest
affected the travel plans of some 1,000 passengers. The
drivers and union activists demand that the government
issue licenses for companies operating on the
Gjirokastra-Athens route and that police prevent
unlicensed busses and mini-busses from operating. The
government did not respond to the demands. Observers
note that the protesters are trying to limit competition
along a busy and lucrative route. The government is
unlikely to agree to their demands, which would violate
Albania's free-market principles. FS

MOLDOVAN POLITICIANS CRITICIZE PRESIDENT, PREMIER-
DESIGNATE... Iurie Rosca, leader of the Christian
Democratic Popular Front, and Valeriu Matei, chairman of
the Party of Democratic Forces have criticized President
Petru Lucinschi and premier-designate Serafim Urecheanu
for their plan to broaden the powers of the cabinet and
to curtail those of the parliament (see "RFE/RL
Newsline," 8 and 10 February 1999). Both parties are
members of the ruling Alliance for Democracy and
Reforms. Speaking on national television, they said the
plan is anti-constitutional, while Matei added that
granting the cabinet the right to issue emergency
legislation for a two-year period is "a move away from
the republican to an [absolute] monarchy system." They
also rejected the intention to set up a cabinet of
experts, saying "alleged expertise" is what brought
about Moldova's current economic crisis, Infotag
reported. MS

...BUT SNEGUR SAYS PROGRESS MADE IN TALKS WITH
URECHEANU. Former President Mircea Snegur, chairman of
the Revival and Conciliation Party, which is a member of
the ruling Alliance for Democracy and Reforms (APDR),
said after meeting with Urecheanu on 10 February that
their talks were "a step forward" compared with the 8
February meeting between APDR leaders and the premier-
designate, RFE/RL's Chisinau bureau reported. Urecheanu
said that during the talks he went some way toward
meeting the APDR's demands and that it is now the "turn
of the parliamentary majority to reciprocate." He also
said that no member of the opposition Party of Moldovan
Communists has so far been asked to join the new
cabinet. MS

END NOTE

SPARRING OVER SEVASTOPOL

by Julie A. Corwin and Jan Maksymiuk

	Next week, Russia's upper house of parliament, the
Federation Council, will again take up the issue of the
Russian-Ukrainian treaty of friendship. The debate
promises to be sharp, as the treaty has become
increasingly controversial since its passage in the
State Duma on 25 December 1998 and in Ukraine's Supreme
Council on 14 January 1998. The treaty, which guarantees
the inviolability of the current border between Russia
and Ukraine, was first signed by Russian President Boris
Yeltsin and his Ukrainian counterpart, Leonid Kuchma, on
31 May 1997.
	The Federation Council seems likely to approve the
treaty, fearing its rejection could drive Ukraine into
NATO's embrace. But the issues of Crimea's status and
Slavic integration are likely to remain hot topics in
Russian politics, gaining in intensity as presidential
elections near. After all, likely presidential contender
Moscow Mayor Yurii Luzhkov and his adviser, Konstantin
Zatulin, director of Russia's Institute for CIS
Countries, have been the most outspoken recently in
condemning the treaty. Similarly, the presidential
contenders from among the Communists, party leader
Gennadii Zyuganov and Duma Chairman Gennadii Seleznev,
have been equally impassioned in the treaty's defense.
	In his speech to the Federal Council on 27 January,
Luzhkov reportedly managed to persuade some senators in
the Council to change their plans and vote to postpone
consideration of the treaty. In his remarks, Luzhkov
stressed that ratification of the treaty would in effect
separate Crimea and Sevastopol from Russia forever, thus
undermining the goal of brotherly relations between
Russia and Ukraine. He also charged Ukraine with
discriminating against ethnic Russians.
	Prior to that speech, Luzhkov's adviser, Zatulin
launched his own attack on the treaty in a lengthy
article published in "Nezavisimaya gazeta." Anticipating
Luzhkov's remarks, Zatulin argued that Crimea and
Sevastopol belong "indisputably" to Russia and that an
official endorsement of the Russian-Ukrainian treaty
would legally seal their secession from Russia.
According to Zatulin, CPSU General Secretary Nikita
Khrushchev moved to transfer Crimea to Ukraine in 1954
in order to "enlist support of comrades from the
Ukrainian Communist Party" in his struggle "to expose
the cult of personality [of Joseph Stalin]" in the then
CPSU Politburo. The formal decision to transfer Crimea
from the RSFSR to the Ukrainian SSR--following a joint
motion by the Supreme Soviet Presidiums of the RSFSR and
the Ukrainian SSR--was made by the USSR Supreme Soviet
on 26 February 1954. That decision, according to
Zatulin, contravened the USSR and RSFSR Constitutions,
both of which pledged to guarantee the territorial
integrity of the RSFSR.
	Regardless of its legal validity, Zatulin
continues, the 1954 decision to incorporate Crimean
Oblast into Ukraine did in no way embrace Sevastopol,
which had been declared an independent administrative
and economic center--subordinated directly to the RSFSR
authorities in Moscow--by a USSR Supreme Soviet decree
in 1948. Thus, Zatulin concludes, Ukraine has no legal
rights whatsoever to the "city of Russia's military
glory," as Russian media often refer to Sevastopol--the
main base of the Russian Black Sea Fleet.
	Zatulin also addressed the issue of what he called
the "ethnic genocide" of the 10 million Russians in
Ukraine. These Russians, according to Zatulin, are
currently subjected to a policy of forced Ukrainization
and denied the right to develop their own independent
ethnic identity. Zatulin concludes that the adoption of
the Russian-Ukrainian treaty will result in Russia's
"strategic defeat."
	Among those in favor of ratifying the treaty,
rhetoric is equally inflamed. Duma Chairman Seleznev
suggested that those who oppose the treaty "want to tear
Ukraine away" from Russia and foil plans to form a
Slavic Union of Russia, Belarus, and Ukraine. In what
may be wishful thinking on his part, Seleznev concludes
that Luzhkov is "committing political suicide" by
opposing the treaty. Communist Party leader Gennadii
Zyuganov is more nonchalant, blaming Luzhkov's
opposition to the treaty on Zatulin, who, according to
Zyuganov, spawns "scandals and discord wherever he
appears." Zyuganov argues that the treaty is key to the
revival of a Slavic union composed of Russia, Belarus,
and Ukraine.
	While the bulk of the Russian electorate
purportedly regrets the dissolution of the Soviet Union,
it is unclear what financial or political costs--if any-
-they are willing to bear for some kind of smaller
reconstituted Union or bigger and better Russia.
Nevertheless, that sentiment can and will be exploited
by both the Russian nationalists and Pan-Slavists, as
Luzhkov, Zyuganov, and Seleznev have already so ably
demonstrated.

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