It matters not how a man dies, but how he lives. - Samuel Johnson
RFE/RL NEWSLINE

RFE/RL NEWSLINE Vol 3, No. 46, Part II, 8 March 1999


________________________________________________________
RFE/RL NEWSLINE Vol 3, No. 46, Part II, 8 March 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

* BELARUSIAN OPPOSITIONIST FORCED TO END HUNGER STRIKE

* KOSTOV'S CRITICISM OF EU HIGHLIGHTS THREATS TO REFORM

* MOLDOVAN COURT DECLARES STURDZA CABINET INVALID

End Note: KOSTOV'S CRITICISM OF EU HIGHLIGHTS THREATS TO
REFORM
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EAST-CENTRAL EUROPE

UKRAINIAN PARLIAMENT OVERRIDES VETO ON PRESIDENTIAL
ELECTION BILL... The Supreme Council on 5 March voted by
313 to 14 to override President Leonid Kuchma's veto of
the presidential election bill (see "RFE/RL Newsline,"
16 February 1999). In particular, the parliament
rejected Kuchma's proposed amendment stipulating that
presidential elections should be invalidated if less
that 50 percent of registered voters take part. The
president also proposed that each voter be allowed to
put his signature to only one list in support of a
candidate's registration. JM

...VOTES AGAINST TWO WORLD BANK LOANS. The same day, the
parliament voted down two loan agreements concluded by
the government with the World Bank. The first agreement
is a $200-million deal to improve the heating system in
Kyiv, the other a $16.4 million loan to purchase
computer equipment for the Treasury. But the parliament
did ratify a $22-million World Bank loan to modernize
plants that use ozone-destroying substances. Foreign
loans are opposed primarily by Ukrainian left-wing
parliamentary deputies, who believe that foreign aid
does Ukraine's economy more harm than good. JM

BELARUSIAN OPPOSITIONIST FORCED TO END HUNGER STRIKE...
Viktar Hanchar, chairman of the opposition Central
Electoral Commission, was forced by jail authorities to
end his six-day hunger strike on 6 March, AP and
Interfax reported, citing opposition members and
Hanchar's wife. Hanchar was imprisoned last week. His
wife said her husband had complained in a telephone
conversation about violence being used against him but
the conversation was cut off before he could give any
details. Anatol Hurynovich and Borys Hyunter, two
oppositionists released from the same jail on 6 March,
confirmed that Hanchar had been forced to end his hunger
strike after the jail administration became alarmed
about his failing health. A statement issued by
Hanchar's wife and opposition forces says Hanchar also
complained about being given psychoactive drugs in jail.
JM

...WHILE MINSK COUNCIL DEPUTIES DENIED ENTRY TO JAIL.
Following a complaint by the wives of Hanchar,
Hurynovich, and Hyunter, two Minsk City Council deputies
tried to visit Hanchar and his companions in jail but
were refused entry by the head of the jail, RFE/RL's
Belarusian Service reported on 5 March. Deputies from
the opposition Supreme Soviet have appealed to Hans
Georg Wieck, head of the OSCE mission in Minsk, to visit
Hanchar in jail, but Wieck refused. In a statement sent
to U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright,
opposition deputies say they are "indignant" over
Wieck's behavior and accuse him of refusing to conduct
"serious negotiations" with the democratic opposition in
Belarus. JM

LUKASHENKA SAYS BELARUS WANTS NO DEMOCRACY 'LECTURES'
FROM LITHUANIA. Belarusian President Alyaksandr
Lukashenka told Lithuania Foreign Minister Algirdas
Saudargas in Minsk on 5 March that he is grateful to
Lithuania's President Valdas Adamkus and Foreign
Ministry for their "strict position" over plans to set
up a radio station broadcasting from Lithuania to
Belarus (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 3 and 4 February 1999),
Baltic news agencies reported. Lukashenka assured
Saudargas that Belarus does not have "less democracy"
than neighboring countries, and he added that Minsk does
not wish to receive "lectures on this topic." JM

CENTER PARTY WINS ELECTIONS IN ESTONIA. According to
preliminary results, the Center Party won the 7 March
elections, gaining 23.62 percent of the vote or 28 seats
in the 101-seat parliament, RFE/RL's Estonian Service
reported, citing data from the Central Election
Commission issued at 2:00 p.m. CET on 8 March. The
Fatherland Union unexpectedly took second place (15.98
percent, 18 seats) alongside the Reform Party (15.98
percent, 18 seats). Other parties that crossed the 5
percent threshold are the Moderates (15.14 percent, 17
seats), the Coalition Party (7.59 percent, seven seats),
the Country People's Party (7.24 percent, seven seats)
and the United People's Party (6.13 percent, six seats).
Turnout was 55.8 percent, according to BNS. Observers
say the right-wing alliance of the Reform Party,
Moderates, and Fatherland Union, which has a total of 53
seats, is likely to form the next government. JC

ESTONIA, RUSSIA INITIAL BORDER TREATY. Meeting in St.
Petersburg on 5 March, Estonian Foreign Minister Raul
Malk and the head of Russia's border negotiations
committee, Ludvig Chizhov, initialed the border treaty
between their countries, some seven years after
negotiations were launched. Under the agreement, the two
countries are to exchange small parcels of land totaling
some 30 square kilometers. No date has been set for the
signing of the treaty. JC

ESTONIA'S KALLAS ACQUITTED. Reform Party leader and
former Bank of Estonia President Siim Kallas has been
acquitted of all charges in the so-called $10 million
affair, ETA and BNS reported on 5 March. The court ruled
that Kallas was not guilty of abuse of power or giving
false information leading to the loss of some $10
million in state funds in 1993, when Kallas was head of
the Central Bank. The charge of intended embezzlement
had been dropped last month (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 22
February 1999). The former legal adviser of the Central
Bank, Urmas Kaju, was acquitted of the same charges. The
prosecutor is to appeal the ruling. JC

LATVIAN CENTRAL BANK SUSPENDS COMMERCIAL BANK'S
OPERATIONS. The Bank of Latvia has suspended the
operations of Rigas Komercbanka, Latvia's fifth largest
bank, effective 5 March. In a statement released on 7
March, cited by ITAR-TASS, the Central Bank said it will
declare the Rigas Komercbanka insolvent. A total of 27.5
percent of the bank's assets is tied up in Russia in,
among other things, Treasury bills and local government
bonds, according to that statement. JC

LITHUANIAN PRESIDENT ACCEPTS ENVIRONMENT MINISTER'S
RESIGNATION... Valdas Adamkus on 5 March accepted the
resignation of Environment Minister Algis Chaplikas,
ELTA reported. Chaplikas, who is a member of the non-
coalition Center Union, offered to resign late last
month after the Center Union leader had predicted early
elections and the resignation of Premier Gediminas
Vagnorius (see "RFE/RL Newsline,"1 March 1999). The same
day, at a meeting with the parliamentary group of the
ruling Conservatives, Adamkus said that he has no
intention of seeking the government's resignation or
"provoking any other destabilizing actions." He stressed
his "overall" support for Vagnorius's government. JC

...SEEKS POWER TO APPOINT COMPETITION COUNCIL. Adamkus
has returned the competition law to the parliament for a
second time, requesting that the president be granted
the right to appoint the Competition Council's five
members on the recommendation of the premier, BNS
reported on 6 March. The current version of the law
provides for the council to be appointed by the
government on the recommendation of the premier and with
the president's approval. Vagnorius has hinted that his
government may resign if it is stripped of its control
over the council (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 5 March 1999).
JC

POLISH PARLIAMENT AMENDS LAW ON ACCESS TO SECRET FILES.
The parliament on 5 March approved changes to the law on
access to communist-era secret service files. The law
was passed in September but was vetoed by President
Aleksander Kwasniewski in December. The ruling coalition
then overrode the veto by mustering the support of the
opposition Peasant Party (PSL) in exchange for promised
amendments. The most important of those changes
stipulates that the head of the Institute of National
Remembrance--a body that will collect and screen secret
files--is to be appointed by a 60 percent majority vote
in the parliament, which means that the PSL will play a
role in that official's appointment. JM

HAVEL MEETS PARTY LEADERS. President Vaclav Havel on 6
March met with leaders of parties represented in the
parliament, CTK reported. The opposition Civic
Democratic Party (ODS) boycotted the meeting, while the
Communist Party of Bohemia and Moravia was not invited
to attend. The participants conceded later that their
opinions on the causes of country's economic crisis and
their envisaged solutions to that crisis differ; thus,
they did not discuss the bills on solving the crisis
that the government intends to submit to the parliament.
They did agree, however, to support amendments to the
constitution facilitating the country's integration into
Euro-Atlantic structures and to decentralize state
administration by creating regional governing bodies,
CTK reported. ODS leader Vaclav Klaus the next day
called for a consensus among parties over how to lead
the country out of its economic crisis. MS

SLOVAKIA TO DESTROY SS-23S? Defense Minister Pavol Kanis
on 5 March said Slovakia will make clear its "political
stand" on destroying its six medium-range SS-23 missiles
before the April NATO summit in Washington. He added
that the missiles "should have been destroyed long ago."
The SS-23s were delivered by the former Soviet Union to
Bulgaria and Czechoslovakia in the 1980s and their
destruction is stipulated by a 1987 U.S.-Soviet
agreement. While Bulgaria and the Czech Republic have
destroyed their missiles, former Slovak Premier Vladimir
Meciar refused to do so, arguing that Slovakia was not a
signatory to the 1987 agreement and that the missiles'
life span was to expire in 2000 in any case, CTK
reported. MS

IMF PRESSES FOR FURTHER HUNGARIAN REFORMS. Hungarian
Finance Minister Zsigmond Jarai has said Budapest is
willing to implement the measures proposed by the IMF in
a recent report on Hungary aimed at keeping this year's
budget deficit below 4 percent of GDP, Hungarian media
reported. The report praised last year's drop in
inflation and 5 percent growth in GDP but said tighter
budgetary policies are needed to check growing domestic
demand and a worsening balance of payments deficit. In
other news, Istvan Csurka, leader of the extremist
Justice and Life Party (MIEP), on 6 March opened the
Istvan Bocksai Open University, which is to promote
national awareness. MS

SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE

BOSNIAN SERB OFFICIALS RESIGN OVER BRCKO RULING. Bosnian
Serb Premier Milorad Dodik and his government resigned
on 6 March. Zivko Radisic, the Serbian chairman of the
Bosnian presidency, said he will freeze his
participation in that body to protest the ruling by an
international panel the previous day to make the
strategic town of Brcko a neutral district, AFP
reported. Dodik, a moderate who is supported by the
West, said the ruling should be suspended and revised to
account for the Bosnian Serb entity of Republika Srpska,
which would be split in two by the ruling. He urged
Serbian officials to reject the ruling but to continue
working with the West. Brcko is currently run by Serbs
under international supervision. Robert Farrand, the
U.S. administrator of Brcko, said he will do "all in his
powers" to implement the ruling. The town had a majority
population of Bosnian Croats and Muslims before the
1992-1995 Bosnian War. The UN and several Western
countries praised the ruling, while Belgrade strongly
condemned it. PB

BOSNIAN SERB PARLIAMENT NOT TO ACCEPT BRCKO DECISION OR
POPLASEN'S SACKING. The Bosnian Serb parliament decided
in an emergency session on 7 March in Banja Luka to
withdraw all Bosnian Serb representatives from the
country's federal institutions in protest at the Brcko
decision, Reuters reported. In a resolution, the
parliament voted not to accept the ruling and called on
Serbian officials in federal institutions to "cease
their work" until the ruling is rescinded. It also
refused to accept the sacking of Republika Srpska
President Nikola Poplasen. The hard-line president was
removed from office on 5 March by Carlos Westendorp, the
international community's high representative in Bosnia
and Herzegovina. PB

WESTENDORP SAYS POPLASEN WILL BE REMOVED BY FORCE IF
NECESSARY. Westendorp, meanwhile, told the Spanish daily
"El Pais" that the sacked president of Republika Srpska,
Poplasen, will be removed by force if he continues to
refuse to leave office. Westendorp, who dismissed
Poplasen last week (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 5 March
1999), said the president is acting on orders from
Belgrade. Poplasen was locked in a power struggle with
Dodik and has refused to recognize him as premier. Mirko
Sarovic, Poplasen's vice president, is a member of hard-
line Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic's Serbian
Democratic Party. Westendorp added that he will try to
persuade Radisic, a member of Dodik's pro-Western
alliance, to remain as head of the Bosnia presidency. PB

VIOLENCE ERUPTS AS SFOR SOLDIER KILLS BOSNIAN SERB
POLITICIAN. A SFOR soldier in northeastern Bosnia shot
and killed a local politician on 6 March, Reuters
reported. SFOR spokesman David Scanlon said the soldier
fired two shots at the man, Krsto Micic, after being
struck by a wooden club. The SFOR soldiers had
reportedly been accosted in a restaurant in Ugljevik by
a group of 14 angry Bosnian Serbs. Some 2,000 people
attended Micic's funeral the next day. Micic was a
member of a local town council and a member of the
Serbian Radical Party, which said "these American
occupiers and bandits will pay dearly for [this]
criminal murder," Tanjug reported. Small protests
occurred in many towns in Srpska. No casualties were
reported, but some UN vehicles were torched in Zvornik.
PB

DOLE SAYS ETHNIC ALBANIANS TO SIGN PEACE ACCORD...
Former U.S. Senator Robert Dole said on 6 March that he
"is confident" Kosovar Albanians will sign the
Rambouillet peace accord, AP reported. Dole said that at
his meetings with Kosova Albanian officials in Skopje
the previous day, those officials promised "many times"
to sign the agreement. Dole was incorrect, however, in
predicting that they would sign the agreement the very
next day. A Kosova Liberation Army (UCK) meeting to
discuss the accord was postponed until 8 March. Despite
the postponement, Western officials are counting on all
Kosovar Albanian officials who attended the talks in
Rambouillet to sign the accord before talks resume in
France on 15 March. PB

...AS LEADING UCK REPRESENTATIVE ACKNOWLEDGES
PROGRESS... Hashim Thaqi, the political representative
of the UCK, said in Tirana on 7 March that there has
been "significant progress" among Kosovar Albanians
toward acceptance of the Kosova peace accord, AP
reported. Thaqi said discussions between UCK officials
and ethnic-Albanian officials have moved in a "very
positive direction." Thaqi was in Tirana for meetings
with Albanian officials. He and UCK official Xhavit
Halitit met with Albanian President Rexhep Meidani,
Prime Minister Pandeli Majko, and Foreign Minister
Paskal Milo. Thaqi said the Kosovar Albanians will
continue to insist on a NATO presence in Kosova and that
the UCK will remain a defensive force in the province.
PB

...AND ANOTHER GROUP SIGNS ON. Rexhep Qosja, the head of
the United Democratic Movement, announced on 7 March
that his party has agreed to accept the Kosova peace
agreement, Reuters reported. The movement unites six
ultranationalist groups, including the Kosova
Parliamentary Party of Adem Demaci, who has spoken out
against the agreement. U.S. envoy Christopher Hill and
German Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer are due to
arrive in Prishtina on 8 March to urge Kosovar Albanian
leaders to agree to the accord. PB

TUDJMAN ASSURES JEWISH GROUP OF FAIR TRIAL. Croatian
President Franjo Tudjman said on 5 March that the trial
of former concentration camp commander Dinko Sakic will
be "impartial and objective," AP reported. A statement
from Tudjman's office said that the president told
former Bnai Brith President Tommy Baer that "Croatia has
condemned all crimes committed during the Ustasha
regime" and that the trial will be fair. Sakic is
suspected of involvement in the murder of up to 2,000
people during his rule as head of the Jasenovac
concentration camp during World War II. A district court
judge postponed the trial last week after doctors said
Sakic's life would be at risk during the trial owing to
poor health (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 4 March 1999). PB

ROMANIAN POLICE GENERAL SANCTIONED. President Emil
Constantinescu on 7 March signed a decree discharging
General Gheorghe Lupu, former commander of a special
police force, from "active service." An investigative
commission at the Ministry of Interior ruled that Lupu
was guilty of failing to implement standing orders and
made "serious errors" during clashes with miners
attempting to march on Bucharest in January. Interior
Minister Constantin Dudu Ionescu said on 7 March that
General Teodor Zaharia, former state secretary at the
ministry, will be "sanctioned" in line with the findings
of a report prepared by the ministry on the clashes.
That report says Zaharia bears the main responsibility
for the troops' failure to stop the miners. He has been
transferred to another executive position in the
ministry. MS

MOLDOVAN COURT DECLARES STURDZA CABINET INVALID. The
Constitutional Court on 6 March ruled that the narrow
majority (51-50) by which lawmakers last week passed a
vote of confidence in Ion Sturdza's cabinet was
insufficient to validate the government. The court said
that a confidence vote constitutes a so-called "organic
law" and therefore requires a majority of at least 52.
Presidential adviser Anatol Golea responded that
President Petru Lucinschi will re-name Sturdza to form a
cabinet. Christian Democratic Popular Front leader Iurie
Rosca said that his party will again insist that
ministers have "clean hands" and that it has least four
ministers, RFE/RL's Chisinau bureau reported. MS

MOLDOVAN DEPUTIES INITIATE DRAFT LAW ON 'BULGARIAN'
COUNTY. Several parliamentary deputies of the pro-
presidential For a Democratic and Prosperous Moldova
bloc have submitted a bill that would make the Taraclia
district an administratively independent county,
RFE/RL's Chisinau bureau reported on 5 March. President
Petru Lucinschi refused to sign legislation approved by
the parliament that would include the district (which is
mainly inhabited by ethnic Bulgarians) into the newly
created Cahul County. The parliament refused to meet
Lucinschi's request that it revise the legislation. A
local referendum in Taraclia overwhelmingly approved the
demand for a separate county, but that vote was declared
unconstitutional by the Central Electoral Commission. MS

BULGARIA'S OPPOSITION CONCERNED ABOUT TALKS WITH NATO.
Georgi Parvanov, leader of the opposition Bulgarian
Socialist Party (BSP), said on 7 March that his party is
concerned about the "lack of information" on the recent
talks between cabinet members and NATO officials. He
said the cabinet is conducting negotiations on
agreements under which Bulgaria "undertakes heavy
commitments that can harm national security." Parvanov
added that he will propose that President Petar Stoyanov
convene the National Security Council to discuss the
country's military doctrine and reforms in the army. MS

END NOTE

KOSTOV'S CRITICISM OF EU HIGHLIGHTS THREATS TO REFORM

by Ron Synovitz

	Recent complaints about the EU by Bulgarian Prime
Minister Ivan Kostov shed light on some key policy goals
in Sofia as well as potential threats to reforms there
and in neighboring countries.
	Last week, Kostov told a Reuters correspondent that
EU aid to Bulgaria since 1990 has been "negligibly
little" and that Brussels has applied different
standards for countries not named in the first wave of
eastward enlargement. Those unusually outspoken remarks
could be aimed at achieving several goals: future
compensation in case of a renewed sanctions against
Yugoslavia over the Kosova crisis, expediting Bulgaria's
inclusion in EU membership talks, continuing full
operations at the Kozloduy nuclear power station, and
receiving more aid from the U.S. and international
financial institutions.
	In his interview with Reuters, Kostov said NATO
airstrikes against Serbian forces in Kosova would be a
"nightmare" for Bulgaria because they would likely be
accompanied by a new embargo of Yugoslavia. Bulgarian
officials estimate the country lost more than $10
billion dollars in trade during the 1992-1995 Bosnian
war when road and rail links to Central and Western
Europe were cut off under UN sanctions. The World Bank
says Bulgarian losses were less than $1 billion a year.
But World Bank officials in Sofia told RFE/RL the
sanctions did strengthen organized criminal groups that
smuggled weapons and fuel into Yugoslavia.
	As in other eastern countries, the Yugoslav embargo
allowed clandestine criminal groups in Bulgaria to gain
considerable financial and political influence. In
Bulgaria's case, some groups became strong enough to
delay economic reforms for years so that they could
continue to skim off profits from state companies
through their ties with state managers.
	Nicol Wegter, a spokesman for EU Foreign Affairs
Commissioner Hans van den Broek, told RFE/RL that none
of the countries in the Balkans should expect any EU
compensation if their trade routes are cut again by a
renewed embargo of Yugoslavia. He said that the EU has
argued for a number of years that "it is the UN that is
firstly and foremost responsible for [any] possible
compensation whatsoever."
	Clearly, Kostov wants Brussels to ease its demands
for the closure of the two oldest reactors at Bulgaria's
Kozloduy nuclear plant, which produces about 40 percent
of the country's electricity. Kostov told Reuters that
the EU is exerting a "meaningless diktat" by demanding
the closures as a pre-condition to Bulgarian membership
in the EU. Kostov said a shutdown would destroy what
little competitiveness Bulgaria still has after
suffering a severe financial crisis in early 1997.
	EU officials thought they had won promises from
Bulgaria on early closures in 1993, when a grant of
about $35 million was awarded to improve nuclear safety
there. Kostov's refusal to honor the pledge, which was
made by an earlier government, is mirrored in Lithuania.
The government in Vilnius wants the EU to pay
compensation for lost earnings from the closure of the
Ignalina nuclear plant, despite earlier commitments.
	Wegter refutes Kostov's remark that Brussels is
issuing "dictates" on Kozloduy: "I think the European
Union cannot but insist on closure of those units. We do
not dictate anything at all. But certain commitments
have been made by Sofia and we think those promises
should be fulfilled."
	By stating that the EU is not doing enough to help
Bulgarian reforms, Kostov also could be signaling a
desire for more aid from the U.S., the World Bank, or
the IMF. Such a move might suggest Sofia has drawn
conclusions similar to ones reached in Ankara after
Turkey was left off an EU list of countries ready for
membership talks. Ankara responded by distancing itself
further from Europe and announcing that it would focus
its foreign policy on greater links with the U.S. and
Russia.
	But Wegter said he does not think Sofia is changing
its key foreign policy goal of joining the EU. He noted
that the remarks by Kostov were contained in a press
interview only and have not been sent to Brussels in any
official communique. And Wegter insists that Bulgaria
and the EU are still on track in regard to implementing
a pre-accession strategy. "The EU is doing its utmost to
underpin the reform efforts in Bulgaria," he said, "but
we also are aware that further improvements are needed
before one can say that negotiations for membership are
justified."
	Whatever foreign policy goals Kostov may have had
in mind when he criticized Brussels last week, the
comments appear to have boosted his support within
Bulgaria. Most Bulgarian newspapers are praising those
remarks, and the public also appears to be rallying
behind the Bulgarian leader.
	That development could be important for Kostov in
light of the fact that economic reforms have failed to
reach official targets. Foreign investment last year was
less than half of the $1 billion the government had
hoped to attract. And the privatization of key state
industries also is proceeding slower than Kostov's
cabinet predicted.

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