You see things and you say 'Why?' But I dream thing that never were; and I say, 'Why not?'. - Geroge Bernard Shaw
RFE/RL NEWSLINE

RFE/RL NEWSLINE Vol. 3, No. 34, Part II, 18 February 1999


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RFE/RL NEWSLINE Vol. 3, No. 34, Part II, 18 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

* UKRAINIAN PARLIAMENT ALLOWS FORMER PREMIER'S PROSECUTION

* BRITIAN REPORTS SOME MOVEMENT IN KOSOVA TALKS

* MOLDOVAN PREMIER-DESIGNATE ABANDONS BID TO FORM GOVERNMENT

End Note: A NEW LEFTIST 'COALITION PARTY' IN LATVIA?
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EAST-CENTRAL EUROPE

UKRAINIAN PARLIAMENT ALLOWS FORMER PREMIER'S PROSECUTION. The
Supreme Council on 17 February voted by 310 to 39 to lift the
parliamentary immunity of former Prime Minister Pavlo
Lazarenko, Reuters reported. Before the vote, speaker
Oleksandr Tkachenko read out a letter from Lazarenko saying
that he checked into a clinic in Greece earlier this week
with "heart attack symptoms." Ukrainian prosecutors accuse
Lazarenko of embezzling more than $2 million in state
property while he held state offices from 1993-1997.
Lazarenko has repeatedly claimed that he is innocent and that
the charges against him are politically motivated. JM

KUCHMA HAILS RUSSIAN RATIFICATION OF RUSSIA-UKRAINE PACT.
Ukrainian President Leonid Kuchma on 17 February welcomed the
ratification of the Russian-Ukrainian friendship and
cooperation pact by Russia's Federation Council (see "RFE/RL
Newsline," 17 February 1999), Reuters reported. At the same
time, the Council decided that the treaty will go into effect
only after Ukraine ratifies three agreements on the Russian
Black Sea Fleet, based in Sevastopol. "I think that it won't
take long for the Ukrainian parliament to ratify the
[agreements] accompanying the pact," the agency quoted Kuchma
as saying. (See also Russian reaction in Part I.). JM

BELARUSIAN NEWSPAPERS TO CONTINUE REPORTING ON OPPOSITION
ELECTIONS. Editors of the four Belarusian independent
newspapers based in Minsk--"Belorusskaya delovaya gazeta,"
"Narodnaya volya," "Naviny," and "Svobodnye novosti"--have
pledged to continue reporting on the opposition presidential
elections in May, despite a warning by the State Committee
for the Press (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 17 February 1999),
RFE/RL's Belarusian Service reported. The committee sent the
same warning to "Pahonya" in Hrodna and "Nasha niva" in
Vilnius, Lithuania. "There is a risk that the [warned]
newspapers will be banned, but they will be published
regardless of what happens," "Naviny" editor Pavel Zhuk
commented. "Narodnaya volya" chief editor Iosif Syaredzich
told RFE/RL that his newspaper will prepare for the "most
unfavorable developments," including a ban and the need to
publish his newspaper abroad. JM

BELARUSIAN AUTHORITIES REJECT INTEGRATION REFERENDUM
INITIATIVE. The Belarusian Central Electoral Commission has
denied registration to a group proposing a referendum on
further integration with Russia (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 4
November 1998), Belarusian Television reported on 17
February. The group suggested that a referendum be held
asking the question, "Do you agree to a confederation of
Belarus and Russia?" The commission declined to register the
group after the Chamber of Representatives, the lower
legislative house, ruled that the referendum initiative is
"untimely" and may be regarded as interference with the
Belarusian-Russian leadership's negotiations on creating a
Belarusian-Russian union state. JM

BELARUS SAYS IT WILL PAY OFF DEBT FOR LITHUANIAN ELECTRICITY.
At a meeting with Lithuanian President Valdas Adamkus on 17
February, Belarusian Ambassador to Vilnius Vladimir Garkun
said Minsk is considering how to resolve the issue of
outstanding payments for Lithuanian electricity supplies,
ELTA reported, citing "Respublika." The ambassador said that
different currency rates were mainly responsible for
difficulties in making payments, but he added that in the
future, a "uniform inter-bank U.S. dollar rate" will be used
to determine prices of barter goods supplied to Lithuania in
return for energy supplies. The Lithuanian government has
postponed for two weeks a final decision on whether to
continue electricity exports to Belarus. Minsk owes Lietuvos
Energija about 400 million litas (some $100 million). That
company is currently being sued for large-scale embezzlement
(see "RFE/RL Newsline," 11 and 12 February 1999). JC

ESTONIAN INTERIOR MINISTER WITHDRAWS RESIGNATION. Olari Taal
has withdrawn his resignation, following a 17 February
meeting with Prime Minister Mart Siimann, according to ETA.
According to press reports, the two men had clashed over the
appointment of a new chancellor to the Interior Ministry.
Neither Siimann nor Taal has commented on that issue (see
"RFE/RL Newsline," 29 January 1999). The same day, the
parliament voted by 51 to three with one abstention to
approve a bill providing for "one party, one caucus." That
motion had been narrowly rejected last week (see "RFE/RL
Newsline," 12 February 1999). JC

LATVIAN-RUSSIAN RELATIONS 'INADEQUATE' SAYS RIGA COMMISSION.
Following a report by Foreign Ministry State Secretary Maris
Riekstins on his recent visit to Moscow, the Latvian
parliamentary Foreign Affairs Commission concluded that
relations with Russia are "inadequate," LETA reported on 17
February. Commission chairman and former Prime Minister
Guntars Krasts told reporters that the range of issues
currently discussed by Latvia and Russia is "very limited."
While noting that some steps toward improving relations have
been taken, he commented that ''there are still many
'buts.''' The commission concluded that Riekstins failed to
achieve what was planned during his Moscow visit, Krasts
added. Earlier, the state secretary had described his visit
to the Russian capital as "positive" (see "RFE/RL Newsline,"
8 February 1999). JC

POLISH PARLIAMENT OVERWHELMINGLY APPROVES NATO MEMBERSHIP.
Lawmakers on 17 February voted by 409 to seven with four
abstentions to ratify the NATO admission treaty. A few hours
later, the upper house voted by 92 to two with one abstention
to approve the document. "Poland is opening a new chapter in
its history. This puts Yalta and the result of World War II
behind us," President Aleksander Kwasniewski commented. Prime
Minister Jerzy Buzek told the parliament that Poland's entry
into NATO is an "act of historical justice." Kwasniewski will
sign the document on 26 February at the same time as
President Vaclav Havel in a televised link-up between Warsaw
and Prague. JM

CZECH GOVERNMENT APPROVES NATIONAL SECURITY STRATEGY. The
government on 17 February approved the country's long-term
national security and foreign policy strategy, CTK reported.
Government spokesman Libor Roucek told journalists that the
document was proposed by Premier Milos Zeman and Foreign
Minister Jan Kavan and is based on the country's integration
into Euro-Atlantic structures. One of its aims is "the
renewal of 'above-standard' relations with Slovakia," Roucek
said. MS

CROATIA TO LEASE COASTLINE TO CZECH REPUBLIC, SLOVAKIA?
Croatian Foreign Minister Mate Granic said in Bratislava on
16 February that his country may lease part of its coastline
to the Czech Republic and Slovakia to cover a $4 million debt
to the former Czechoslovak federation, AP reported. A similar
offer was made by Granic when he visited Prague last month.
CTK quoted him as emphasizing that there will be "no
territorial concession" and that this is "purely a commercial
affair." No details were provided as to what part of the
coastline will be leased and for how long. Croatian media has
dubbed the offer "rent-a-seaside," and the German weekly "Der
Spiegel" on 15 February wrote that Croatia intends also to
offer to lease a small island off the Dalmatian coast. MS

SLOVAKIA TO APOLOGIZE TO CZECHS? The government on 17
February approved declassifying a report delivered to a
closed session of the parliament last week by the chief of
the Slovak Counter-Intelligence Service (SIS), Vladimir
Mitro, CTK reported. Earlier the same day, Deputy Premier
Pavol Hamzik told journalists that the government may have to
apologize to the Czech Republic if the allegations contained
in Mitro's report prove true. According to those allegations,
the SIS, under the leadership of Ivan Lexa, sought to hinder
the Czech Republic's admission to NATO by discrediting that
country (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 16 February 1999). Referring
to leaks from Mitro's report, the Hungarian daily
"Nepszabadsag" on 18 February wrote that under Lexa, the SIS
undertook attempts to discredit Budapest and supplied arms to
organized crime in Hungary. According to "Nepszabadsag," the
SIS also engaged in spying in connection with the Gabcikovo-
Nagymaros dam dispute. MS

SLOVAK OPPOSITION PARTY CHALLENGES GOVERNMENT'S AMNESTY
ANNULMENT. The Movement for a Democratic Slovakia (HZDS) on
17 February asked the Constitutional Court to rule whether
Prime Minister Mikulas Dzurinda's canceling of the amnesty
granted by his predecessor, Vladimir Meciar, is in accordance
with the basic law, CTK reported. The amnesty would have
freed, among others, those involved in the abduction of
former President Michal Kovac's son in 1995 and the
successful bid to thwart the 1997 referendum on NATO
accession and direct presidential elections, CTK reported.
Former SIS chief Lexa and former Interior Minister Gustav
Krajci are widely believed to have masterminded the two
incidents. The Slovak parliament is to vote on 18 February
whether to strip Krajci of his immunity. A similar vote on
Lexa is expected to follow. MS

SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE

BRITIAN REPORTS SOME MOVEMENT IN KOSOVA TALKS... British
Foreign Secretary Robin Cook said on 17 February that some
progress has been made by Serbian and ethnic Albanian
delegates at peace talks in Rambouillet, France, but that the
delegates must hurry to come to an agreement by the 19
February deadline, Reuters reported. Cook said "there is some
movement, but [it] needs to pick up a lot of speed." Cook and
his French counterpart, Hubert Vedrine, met with the rival
delegations separately. The two sides also held face-to-face
talks for only the second time during the 12 days they have
been in France. (See also Part I for Russian comments.) PB

...STRESSES NEED FOR PEACE-KEEPING FORCE. Both Cook and
Vedrine repeated that an international peace-keeping force
will be necessary in Kosova to uphold a political agreement.
Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic has rejected such a
force (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 17 February 1999). Cook said
the "accord proposed by the Contact Group, both the political
and the military dimension, is clearly the only way to
respond to the ...worries of both sides." The Serbian paper
"Glas Javnosti" reported on 18 February that the ruling
Socialist Party will accept a foreign presence if it does not
include Americans or soldiers from countries with a "negative
attitude" toward Yugoslavia. PB

DRASKOVIC WANTS SANCTIONS LIFTED IN RETURN FOR AGREEMENT.
Yugoslav Deputy Premier Vuk Draskovic said on 17 February in
Belgrade that any Kosova peace agreement must include the
lifting of all economic sanctions against Yugoslavia and that
country's return to international organizations, AP reported.
Draskovic said it is "unjust and illogical" for the West to
accuse Belgrade of isolationism while at the same time not
allowing it to interact with the international community. PB

NATO OFFICIALS APPROVE DEPLOYMENT PLAN FOR KOSOVA. NATO
ambassadors meeting in Brussels on 17 February agreed to an
operational plan to station troops in Kosova to monitor a
peace agreement, AFP reported. The next day, two senior NATO
officials arrived in Macedonia to discuss with local
officials the plans for a possible deployment of 30,000
troops in Kosova. A NATO extraction force is already in
Macedonia. Meanwhile in Podgorica, Montenegrin Premier Filip
Vujanovic told Belgrade's B-92 radio that his country would
allow NATO forces to use the Adriatic port of Bar. He said
Montenegro would offer NATO troops logistical support as they
transited the republic en route to Kosova. PB

CROATIAN AMBASSADOR PUSHING FOR NATO MEMBERSHIP. Miomir
Zuzul, the Croatian ambassador to Washington, said on 17
February that leaving his country out of NATO would add to
instability in the region, an RFE/RL correspondent reported.
Zuzul said Croatia has proven its ability to help NATO build
peace and stability in Europe. He noted that Zagreb's most
immediate goal is to be admitted to NATO's Partnership for
Peace program, adding that Croatia is awaiting a formal
answer to the PFP application it submitted more than one year
ago. PB

BOSNIAN CROAT DISCLAIMS RESPONSIBILITY FOR SOLDIERS WHO
COMMITTED ATTROCITIES. General Timohir Blaskic, a Bosnian
Croat accused of war crimes, said he had no real control over
soldiers under his command who reportedly committed
attrocities in Bosnia in 1992-1994, Reuters reported.
Speaking before the UN war crimes tribunal at The Hague,
Blaskic said he had not been in a position to give orders,
only military expertise. Prosecutors say he sanctioned and
organized deadly attacks against Muslims in the Lasva Valley.
Blaskic pleaded not guilty to 20 counts of crimes against
humanity. PB

ALBANIA TO HOLD SUSPECTED ISLAMIC EXTREMISTS. An Albanian
court ordered the indefinite detention of two men suspected
of spying on the U.S. embassy in Tirana, Reuters reported on
17 February. The men, one from Syria and the other from Iraq,
were arrested earlier this week (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 17
February 1999). Interior Minister Petro Koci said the two are
suspected of setting up an extremist Islamic network in
Albania that may have links to terrorist Osama bin Laden. PB

ROMANIAN INTERIOR MINISTER REPORTS ON CLASHES WITH MINERS.
Constantin Dudu Ionescu told journalists on 17 February that
miners' leader Miron Cozma "manipulated" the miners to serve
his own interests and ultimately "betrayed" them by
attempting to avoid arrest as his supporters clashed with the
police. He said three of Cozma's deputies, as well as Cozma
himself, are being questioned in Bucharest by the Prosecutor-
General's Office. Ionescu said that earlier that day, one
miner died in the clash with the police and some 50 people,
32 of whom were policemen, had been wounded. He said 543
people had been detained by the police for questioning,
RFE/RL's Bucharest bureau reported. Police sources later said
that a 24-hour detention warrant has been issued for 46 of
the miners questioned. MS

FURTHER PROGRESS ON LIFTING TUDOR'S PARLIAMENTARY IMMUNITY.
The Senate's Judicial Commission on 17 February recommended
approving Minister of Justice Valeriu Stoica's request to
lift the parliamentary immunity of Greater Romania Party
(PRM) leader Corneliu Vadim Tudor on the grounds of the 11
charges brought by the Prosecutor-General's Office. The
plenum of the Senate must now endorse the commission's
decision. Senate Chairman Petre Roman said that before
submitting the recommendation to a plenary session, the
Senate will vote on the commission's recommendation to allow
lifting a parliamentary deputy's immunity by a simple, rather
than a two-thirds majority (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 12
February 1999). If the simple-majority recommendation is not
approved, Tudor is likely to keep his immunity owing to the
backing of his own PRM and the opposition Party of Social
Democracy in Romania. MS

MOLDOVAN PREMIER-DESIGNATE ABANDONS BID TO FORM GOVERNMENT.
Serafim Urecheanu on 17 February said he has given up the
attempt to form a new government. That announcement came
after a brief meeting with leaders of the Alliance for
Democracy and Reform (APDR), which includes the parties that
form the parliamentary majority, RFE/RL's Chisinau bureau
reported. Urecheanu said his decision was prompted by the
APDR's rejection of both his cabinet line-up and his
proposals that the number of ministers be reduced and he be
allowed to choose the ministers himself. President Petru
Lucinschi the same day asked the APDR to put forward its
candidate for the post of premier within 24 hours. MS

MOST BULGARIAN DETAINEES IN LIBYA RELEASED. Foreign Ministry
spokesman Radko Vlaikov on 17 January announced that 15 of
the 19 Bulgarian doctors and nurses detained by the Libyan
authorities last week have been released (see "RFE/RL
Newsline," 15 February 1999), Reuters reported. He said a
Bulgarian Foreign Ministry mission is flying to Libya on 18
February to secure the release of the remaining four
detainees. Vlaikov also said Foreign Minister Nadezhda
Mihailova will propose at the 18 February cabinet meeting to
sack Bulgaria's ambassador to Libya, Krastio Ilov, for
"failing to protect the interests of Bulgarian nationals." MS

END NOTE

A NEW LEFTIST 'COALITION PARTY' IN LATVIA?

By Jan Cleave

	An agreement signed earlier this month between Latvian
Prime Minister Vilis Kristopans and the Social Democrats may
have averted a government crisis for the time being. But the
minority government's cooperation with the leftists may cause
new problems for Kristopans. More to the point, few in Riga
believe it will prove enduring.
	After last fall's parliamentary elections, President
Guntis Ulmanis asked Kristopans of the centrist Latvia's Way
to form a government. Having ruled out cooperation with the
right-of-center People's Party, which had narrowly won the
ballot, Kristopans opted to set up a minority coalition with
the nationalist-rightist Fatherland and Freedom/LNNK and the
left-of-center New Party. He also proposed offering the
Social Democrats the agriculture portfolio in exchange for
their support. While the TB/LNNK initially opposed that idea,
it eventually agreed, thus paving the way for the recent
cooperation agreement and Social Democrat Peteris
Salkazanovs's confirmation as agriculture minister.
	Under the terms of the cooperation agreement, the Social
Democrats assume responsibility for the agricultural sector
and will neither vote against nor abstain from voting on any
government-proposed bills supported by the Cooperation
Council (a consultative body composed of representatives of
each of the three ruling parties). They also agree not to
submit to the parliament any bills related to the state
budget without the Cooperation Council's prior agreement, nor
will they support opposition-proposed bills on the budget or
taxes. In return, Kristopans agreed that the government will
undertake, among other things, completing the pension reform
by 2001, increasing the minimum wage, and boosting spending
on education and research.
	With this agreement under his belt, Kristopans can now
look confidently toward the second and final reading of the
1999 state budget, which is expected to take place later this
month. Without the Social Democrats' support, his government
would almost certainly have fallen: under Latvian law, if
lawmakers fail to approve the draft budget in either the
first or second reading, their rejection constitutes a vote
of no confidence in the government, requiring the cabinet to
resign. Shortly after the TB/LNNK had consented to a Social
Democrat as agriculture minister, the budget passed in the
first reading, thanks to the virtually unanimous support of
the Social Democrats. Earlier, the Social Democrats had
threatened to vote against the draft, pointing to what they
considered insufficient spending in the social sphere and too
much on defense.
	While relations between the Social Democrats and the two
larger coalition parties--Latvia's Way and the TB/LNNK--are
likely to prove difficult, the Social Democrats may already
have found an ally in the junior coalition partner, the New
Party. Last month, that party opposed Kristopans when it came
out in favor of a Social Democrat proposal to establish a
special commission to investigate activities at the
telecommunications monopoly Lattelekom. That move earned the
party a sharp rebuke from the premier, who argued that the
New Party was breaking the coalition agreement by supporting
the opposition. The New Party countered that since a Social
Democrat was soon to be appointed agriculture minister, it
did not regard the Social Democrats as being in opposition.
	It is precisely this perception of a new leftist
"coalition party" that may cause fresh problems for
Kristopans and Latvia's Way. Since last fall's elections,
both the premier and his party increasingly have come under
fire for allegedly seeking to improve relations with Russia
at the expense of pursuing integration into European and
Trans-Atlantic structures.
	Kristopans's November interview with "Nezavisimaya
gazeta" asserting that Russian-Latvian relations should be
based on the Finnish model caused a stir even before he had
been sworn in as premier. The decision to fix 1999 defense
expenditures at O.9 percent of GDP, instead of the 1.0
percent foreseen by the previous government, has been
interpreted as going back on commitments to seek NATO
membership. And accusations have repeatedly been made that
leading Latvia's Way politicians are close to the industrial
lobby that wants to boost transit trade with Russia--Moscow's
price being that Riga back off from bids to join NATO.
	While Kristopans has fended off such accusations so far,
his cooperation agreement with the Social Democrats
guarantees that there will be more such talk. The Social
Democrats have made no secret of their coolness toward NATO
membership and their preference for larger social
expenditures and greater state intervention in the economy.
Some observers have been quick to suggest that the leftist
orientation of the new cooperation partner may encourage now
hidden leftist tendencies within the ruling coalition. Others
argue that it is just a matter of time before Kristopans
finds himself forced either to make compromises aimed at
accommodating the Social Democrats or to sacrifice his newly
found "majority" in the parliament.
	The TB/LNNK, for its part, has already said that should
the government stray from its declared course--seeking EU and
NATO entry, passing a balanced budget, and resolving
questions related to minority issues--the party will not rule
out joining forces with the main opposition People's Party of
former Prime Minister Andris Skele. To form a majority
government, those two parties would have to seek another
coalition partner. But their ability to reach agreement with
Latvia's Way, whose leadership has repeatedly clashed with
that of the People's Party, is very doubtful.

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