Peace is indivisible. - Maxim Litvino
RFE/RL NEWSLINE

RFE/RL NEWSLINE Vol 3, No. 47, Part II, 9 March 1999


________________________________________________________
RFE/RL NEWSLINE Vol 3, No. 47, Part II, 9 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

* OSCE CHAIRMAN APPEALS TO LUKASHENKA TO FREE
OPPOSITIONIST

* ZEMAN, SCHROEDER WANT END TO CZECH-GERMAN DISPUTES

* UCK'S GENERAL STAFF REPORTEDLY AGREES TO PEACE ACCORD

End Note: WORLD BANK CONFIDENT UKRAINIAN PARLIAMENT WILL
AGREE TO LOANS
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EAST-CENTRAL EUROPE

OSCE CHAIRMAN APPEALS TO LUKASHENKA TO FREE
OPPOSITIONIST. OSCE Chairman and Norwegian Foreign
Minister Knut Vollebaek has sent a letter to Belarusian
President Alyaksandr Lukashenka urging him to release
oppositionist Viktar Hanchar from jail. "Mr. Hanchar's
health is under risk. I appeal [to you] to urgently stop
Mr. Hanchar's hunger strike by releasing him from
custody," RFE/RL's Belarusian Service quoted Vollebaek
as saying. Hanchar began a hunger strike on 1 March, the
first day of his arrest. According to his wife and
colleagues, he was forcibly fed on 6 March by jail
authorities (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 8 March 1999).
Hanchar's wife, who was refused permission to see
Hanchar in jail, has requested that a prosecutor
investigate the violent measures taken against her
husband in jail. JM

BELARUS TO EXPAND TRADE WITH CHINA. A Chinese government
delegation led by Deputy Prime Minister Wu Yi met with
Belarusian President Alyaksandr Lukashenka in Minsk on 7
March. Belarusian Television reported the next day that
the sides "admitted the need" to expand bilateral trade
from the current volume of $170 million to $500 million.
JM

UKRAINIAN NUCLEAR PLANT WORKERS THREATEN GENERAL STRIKE.
The Atomic Energy Sector Employees' Trade Union
announced on 5 March that it will launch a strike over
unpaid wages at Ukraine's five nuclear power plants on
22 March, the "Eastern Economist Daily" reported on 9
March. Valeriy Matov, deputy head of the union, said the
strike will include all employees, except for a small
number of support workers who will maintain essential
operations. Some 12,000 nuclear plant workers
demonstrated on 6 March to demand back wages. Some 2,000
employees continue their protest in tent camps built
around nuclear power plants. Prime Minister Valeriy
Pustovoytenko has promised to set up a government
commission to oversee payments for electricity
consumption. The commission will be given the right to
cut off electricity supplies to debtors. JM

CORRECTION: Citing AP, "RFE/RL Newsline" on 8 March
incorrectly reported that the Ukrainian parliament has
ratified a $22 million loan from the World Bank. That
money is in fact a grant, not a loan. JM

LEADERS OF ESTONIA'S RIGHT-WING ALLIANCE MEET WITH MERI.
Mart Laar of the Fatherland Union, Siim Kallas of the
Reform Party, and Andres Tarand of the Moderates told
President Lennart Meri on 8 March that they are ready to
form a new government, ETA reported. The left-leaning
Center Party won the 7 March elections, but the right-
wing alliance will have a combined total of 53 seats in
the 101-strong parliament (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 8
March 1999). Mart Siimann, outgoing premier and leader
of the Coalition Party, which foiled pre-election
expectations by winning some 7 percent of the vote and
seven parliamentary seats, has expressed his party's
support for the right-wing alliance. Meri must nominate
a prime minister within two weeks of the election. Under
the constitution, he is not obliged to name a candidate
from the party that won the most votes. JC

LATVIAN PRESIDENT SAYS 16 MARCH 'MISTAKE.' Guntis
Ulmanis, speaking on national radio on 8 March, said
that approving 16 March as a day officially
commemorating Latvian soldiers was a "mistake" on the
part of both the parliament and himself, "Diena" and BNS
reported. He urged that no large-scale meetings be held
on 16 March, noting that almost half of the soldiers'
organizations he has met with over the past month do not
intend to mark that day.. Last week, the parliament
narrowly voted in favor of retaining 16 March as
Soldiers' Day (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 5 March 1999). JC

LATVIAN PREMIER SAYS SECTOR WILL SURVIVE BANK'S
COLLAPSE. Vilis Kristopans said on 8 March that the
collapse of Rigas Komercbanka does not pose a systemic
threat to Latvia's banking sector, which he said is
"stable and secure," having weathered "tremors" in the
past, "Diena" and Reuters reported. (In 1995, the
country's largest bank, Banka Baltija, was declared
insolvent.) Kristopans also argued that the Central
Bank's decision to suspend the operations of Rigas
Komercbanka, which had invested heavily in Russia, will
increase "trust in the banking system and the economy as
a whole." While independent analysts backed that
viewpoint, they also criticized the EBRD--the bank's
largest share-holder--for inadequate supervision and
assistance. JC

SIX LITHUANIAN PROSECUTORS SUSPENDED UNDER LUSTRATION
LAW. Prosecutor-General Kazys Pednycia has suspended six
prosecutors under the law banning former KGB agents from
holding government office and various private-sector
jobs, BNS reported on 6 March. Within three months, a
decision must be taken on whether those officials are to
be sacked. Last week, the Constitutional Court ruled
that the lustration law does not violate the
constitution (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 5 March 1999). JC

TALLINN, RIGA THREATEN RETALIATION AGAINST LITHUANIA.
Estonian and Latvian officials said in Vilnius last week
that their countries will take unspecified "punitive
measures" against Lithuania if it does not abolish the
system of minimum ceiling prices on agricultural
imports, ETA and ELTA reported on 8 March. Tallinn and
Riga argue that those prices violate the Baltic free
trade agreement as well as the principles of the World
Trade Organization (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 1 February
1999). Lithuania disagrees with the first of those
arguments and, while acknowledging that the second is
correct, points out that it is not yet a member of the
WTO. JC

KWASNIEWSKI REASSURES INVESTORS OVER POLAND'S
DEVELOPMENT. Polish President Aleksander Kwasniewski
told foreign investors on 8 March that Poland's major
achievements since 1989 were sustained dynamic growth,
inflation curbed below the planned 9.75 percent, and a
budget deficit less than 2 percent of GDP, AP reported.
He added that Poland's most important tasks are to
ensure the competitiveness of Polish products in the
West and to restructure state-owned industries.
According to Kwasniewski, Poland will be ready for EU
membership by the end of 2002. Meanwhile, a European
Commission report published the same day advising Poland
to take measures to compensate for the loss of its
markets in crisis-stricken Russia, Belarus, and Ukraine.
The commission said that Poland should seek to maintain
its current financial stability by increasing exports to
the West. That step, it added, requires significantly
improving the quality of Polish products and support for
Polish small firms. JM

ZEMAN, SCHROEDER WANT END TO CZECH-GERMAN DISPUTES.
Milos Zeman, who on 8 March undertook the first official
visit of a Czech premier to Germany, and Chancellor
Gerhard Schroeder have agreed to end disputes over
mutual compensation claims dating back to World War II
and its aftermath, CTK and AP reported. Schroeder said,
"We consider these questions closed," adding that "both
governments agreed not to raise any claims." He also
stressed that the demands of the organizations
representing the Sudeten Germans "have no impact on
German foreign policy." In an interview with CTK, Zeman
explained that while the Czech Republic will not revoke
the 1945 Benes decrees, their effect has "faded away."
Schroeder also said Germany supports the Czech
Republic's accession to the EU "without conditions" but
did not specify a date. MS

CZECH ENVIRONMENT MINISTER AGAINST TEMELIN COMPLETION.
Milos Kuzvart says he will propose that the cabinet
decide not to complete the controversial nuclear power
plant at Temelin, CTK reported on 8 March. Later this
month, the government will discuss a report recently
submitted by a government commission. According to that
report, the Czech Republic will not need new
electricity-producing facilities until 2010 at the
earliest. The report also argues that completion is "a
risky entrepreneurial deal," "rather than one that
serves the national interests," and that its success
depends on market demand. The commission also urged that
the impact on the environment be taken into
consideration. MS

SLOVAK PRESIDENTIAL CAMPAIGN KICKS OFF. Magda Vasaryova,
a former ambassador to Austria and a popular actress who
ended her screen career 10 years ago, launched her
presidential campaign on 8 March, as did former
incumbent Michal Kovac, CTK reported. According to a
Focus opinion poll, Rudolf Schuster, who is mayor of
Kosice, leader of the Party of Civic Understanding, and
the ruling coalition's presidential candidate, leads the
pack with 23 percent. Vasaryova has 9 percent support
and Kovac 7 percent. They are followed by Party of
Democratic Left deputy Juraj Svec (3 percent), who is
running as an independent. On 6 March, the extra-
parliamentary Communist Party of Slovakia nominated
Juraj Lazarcik, a lecturer in economics at the
Agricultural School in Nitra, as its presidential
candidate. Zoltan Adorjan, a Marxist who has no party
affiliation, announced his candidacy on 2 March. MS

SLOVAK FAR RIGHT LEADER THREATENS HUNGARY. Jan Slota,
chairman of the far-right opposition Slovak National
Party, has threatened to "get into our tanks and crush
Budapest." Slota was speaking at a rally last week in
Kysucke Novo Mesto, central Slovakia, Radio Twist
reported on 8 March. He said Slovaks must defend their
territory in southern Slovakia, which is densely
populated by ethnic Hungarians, and "not give up a
single centimeter [of land] to the Hungarian
scoundrels." He said he will never tolerate a Romany
minority in Slovakia because "they are Gypsies who
steal, rob, and pilfer." And he warned about "a Czech
woman÷[who] calls herself an American and even the U.S.
Secretary of State÷and [who] wants to teach all Slovaks
lessons about what sort of idiots we are," CTK reported.
The government sharply criticized Slota's speech as
"irresponsible and unacceptable." MS

STATE OF EMERGENCY IN HUNGARY'S FLOODED REGIONS. More
than 320,000 hectares are under water and 2,600 houses
in danger of collapsing in eastern Hungary as a result
of heavy floods, Hungarian media reported on 9 March.
Some 550 people have been evacuated from the region. On
6 March, Prime Minister Viktor Orban declared a state of
emergency and appointed Transport, Communications and
Water Management Minister Kalman Katona to head a crisis
team. Katona said his ministry has already spent some
780 million forints ($3.4 million) to deal with the
damage. MSZ

SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE

UCK'S GENERAL STAFF REPORTEDLY AGREES TO PEACE ACCORD...
The U.S. State Department said on 8 March that the
general staff of the Kosova Liberation Army (UCK) has
agreed to the interim peace accord for Kosova, an RFE/RL
correspondent reported in Washington. The State
Department said U.S. envoy Chris Hill has been assured
by the UCK that it will sign the agreement, which would
grant the Kosovars autonomy for three years. UCK leaders
met with Hill and EU envoy Wolfgang Petritsch outside
Prishtina. Petritsch said UCK officials "are absolutely
in favor of signing" but that some local commanders are
not ready to do so. Ramush Hajredinaj, a UCK commander
based in the village of Jablanica, told AP that the UCK
will never give up its weapons. Other UCK officials are
reportedly uncomfortable with possible Russian
participation in the proposed NATO-led peace-keeping
force in Kosova. PB

...WHILE MILOSEVIC REMAINS OPPOSED... Yugoslav President
Slobodan Milosevic told German Foreign Minister Joschka
Fischer in Belgrade on 8 March that he remains opposed
to allowing a peace-keeping force deploy in Kosova on
the signing of a peace agreement, Reuters reported.
Fischer, who was accompanied by EU Human Rights
Commissioner Hans van den Broek, said it will be "hard
work" to convince Belgrade to agree to the stationing of
troops in Kosova, but he thinks it is possible. Fischer
also met with his Yugoslav counterpart, Zivadin
Jovanovic, who said Belgrade is ready to resume talks on
Kosova. Jovanovic called on Europe to stop supporting
the ethnic Albanians and to lift the economic embargo
against Yugoslavia. EU envoy Petritsch said he believes
"Milosevic is already becoming very reflective, even
perplexed, because he has seen...that no compromise is
possible on the stationing of troops." PB

...AND HOLBROOKE SETS OUT FOR BELGRADE. The U.S.
announced on 8 March that diplomat Richard Holbrooke
will arrive in Belgrade for talks with Milosevic on 10
March. Holbrooke brokered the October cease-fire for
Kosova, which led to the stationing of OSCE "verifiers"
in the province. PB

KOSOVA FIGHTING INTENSIFIES, SERBS KILLED BY MINE.
Fighting was reported in Kosovar Albanian villages near
the Macedonian border on 8 March, Reuters reported. OSCE
officials said Serbian forces prevented monitors from
observing the fighting, although shelling and artillery
fire were audible. Tanks were also engaged in fighting
reported in Mitrovica, Vucitrn, Bukos, and Pantina, just
north of Prishtina. The same day, the Serb-run Pristina
Media Center said two Serbian policemen were killed and
three others wounded when their car hit an anti-tank
mine near Djakovica. PB

HIGH COMMISSIONER REMAINS FIRM ON POPLASEN SACKING,
BRCKO RULING. Carlos Westendorp said on 8 March that the
dismissal of hard-line Republika Srpska President Nikola
Poplasen was "final and irrevocable," AP reported.
Poplasen has refused to step down, saying that his
dismissal by Westendorp is unconstitutional. Westendorp
said in a statement that he believes Poplasen is
"sensible enough" to leave but that if he does not, he
will be forcibly removed. As regards the Brcko decision,
Westendorp also said he has written to Bosnian Serb
parliamentary speaker Petar Djokic "guaranteeing that
the territory as shown on the Dayton map will remain
continuous." Many Bosnian Serbs fear that the decision
to make the Sava River port town of Brcko a neutral
district would divide their territory. Westendorp added
that he and Brcko international supervisor Robert
Farrand are prepared to meet with a commission from the
Bosnian Serb parliament to "listen to their views." PB

DODIK RETHINKS RESIGNATION... Milorad Dodik, prime
minister of the Republika Srpska, who offered his
resignation last week, said in Banja Luka on 9 March
that he may continue in his post once things "cool off,"
AP reported. Dodik, upset at the decision by an
international arbitrator to make Brcko a neutral
district, said the move was an "unnecessary experiment."
But he added that it would be "counterproductive now to
stop cooperating with the international community."
Westendorp, who has backed Dodik in his power struggle
with Poplasen, noted that the Bosnian Serb parliament
has not yet accepted Dodik's resignation. Dodik appears
to agree with the decision to sack Poplasen, saying that
"it's a good move that he's no longer president." PB

...AND RADISIC ALSO CONCILIATORY. Zivko Radisic, the
Serbian chairman of the Bosnian presidency, said the
Bosnian Serb parliament's resolution against the Brcko
ruling (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 8 March 1999) does not
"represent a confrontation with the international
community but an attempt to bring the peace agreement
back on track," AP reported. Radisic suspended his
activities in the presidency on 6 March to protest the
Brcko decision. Radisic and Dodik are both members of
the Sloga [Unity] coalition, which has strong backing
from the West. Westendorp said he hopes the coalition
will remain intact, despite the continued infighting
between moderates and hard-liners. PB

CROATIAN OPPOSITION LEADER WANTS NEWS ON TUDJMAN'S
HEALTH. Vlado Gotovac, the leader of Croatia's Liberal
Party, accused the government of concealing information
about the true state of President Franjo Tudjman's
health, AP reported. Tudjman had not been seen in public
for 12 days before appearing on television last week
looking very frail and with noticeably less hair. The
weekly "Nacional" said Tudjman is suffering from a brain
tumor and has undergone chemotherapy treatment (see
"RFE/RL Newsline," 4 March 1999). His doctor said he was
treated for influenza. Gotovac said "considering the
deep crisis we are in...the concealment of information
regarding the president's health is utterly
irresponsible." He added that "only rulers inside the
Kremlin continually masked information about their
health." PB

MACEDONIAN OFFICIALS IN TAIWAN. The president of the
Macedonian parliament, Savo Klimovski, is heading a 32-
member delegation that arrived in Taipei on 7 March, AFP
reported. Klimovski is to discuss several business deals
with Taiwan officials and begin talks on a long-term
bilateral economic agreement. The visit comes just one
day after Taiwanese Foreign Minister Jason Hu ended a
trip to Skopje to sign agreements on diplomatic
relations. Beijing has broken off relations with
Macedonia and vetoed an extension of the UN peace-
keeping force there in retaliation for Skopje's
recognition of Taiwan. PB

OSCE JEEP HIT BY GUNFIRE IN ALBANIA. An OSCE group in a
jeep monitoring the Albanian border with Kosova was hit
by gunfire on 8 March, AFP reported. The incident took
place near Kruma, about 2 kilometers from the Kosova
border. No one was hurt in the incident. PB

ROMANIAN SENATE CHAIRMAN DENIES COLLABORATION WITH
SECURITATE. Petre Roman on 8 March said he will sue for
libel retired General Neagu Cosma, who was chief of the
counter-espionage service in the 1970s, RFE/RL Bucharest
bureau reported. On 5 March Neagu told the private
television station Tele 7 abc that Roman was an agent of
the former secret police, the Securitate, and was sent
to France (where he studied for his Ph.D.) "on a
mission." Neagu said the order to send Roman abroad came
from former dictator Nicolae Ceausescu, who wanted to
put an end to a romance between his daughter Zoe and
Roman, the daily "National" reported on 8 March. Neagu
cited Ceausescu as saying " I already have one Jew in
the family and that is more than enough." (Ceausescu's
son Valentin was married to the daughter of a communist
dignitary whose wife was Jewish. That marriage ended in
divorce.) MS

ROMANIAN ORTHODOX CHURCH DENIES INTERFERING IN PAPAL
VISIT. The Patriarchate of the Romanian Orthodox Church
on 8 March rejected allegations that it interfered with
the planned itinerary of Pope John Paul II's visit to
Romania in May in order to prevent the pontiff from
visiting Transylvania (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 2 March
1999). The Patriarchate said the pontiff's itinerary was
drawn up in consultation with the Vatican, which
requested that the visit be confined to Bucharest "in
view of His Holiness's frail health." In an allusion to
the Uniate Church, the Patriarchate said that if the
visit fails to take place "in the ecumenical and
brotherly spirit cherished by both His Holiness and our
Church, responsibility must be borne by those who
[strive to] worsen relations between the two Churches."
MS

END NOTE

WORLD BANK CONFIDENT UKRAINIAN PARLIAMENT WILL AGREE TO
LOANS

by Robert Lyle

	World Bank officials say they are confident that
Ukraine's parliament will reverse itself this week and
ratify agreements on two major loans with the World
Bank.
	The bank's country director for Belarus and
Ukraine, Paul Siegelbaum, says the two loans--one to buy
a new computer system for the Ukrainian Treasury
department, the other to modernize Kyiv's district
heating system--were rejected by the Ukrainian
parliament last week because the loan approval measures
got caught up in the heated political fight over whether
Kyiv should join the CIS Parliamentary Assembly.
	The parliament voted to make that move and to
override a vetoed bill on Ukrainian elections, two
controversial measures that pushed a number of items on
the parliament's agenda into the abyss.
	Siegelbaum, in an interview with RFE/RL in
Washington, said the bank's loans to Kyiv got "hit by
flying elbows" in bitter political fights that had
nothing to do with the World Bank or its programs with
Ukraine.
	"I don't think that the parliament in Ukraine is
fundamentally a body in opposition to the types of
things the World Bank and the [European Bank for
Reconstruction and Development] want to do," he
commented. "In the past, they haven't been our enemies.
There is no reason to believe they are now."
	Siegelbaum said that while it is not normal for
national parliaments to reject World Bank programs, it
has happened before, including among countries that were
once part of the ex-USSR.
	Now, however, Siegelbaum says he is confident that
when those two loans -- and two others -- are presented
to the Ukrainian parliament this week, they will be
approved.
	"The total volume of potential lending under those
operations is around $600 million, " he said. "Some of
them will be taken up quickly, including the treasury
systems project that involves computer equipment to
improve the treasury process, and another loan to
improve the district heating system in Kyiv. Others are
going to be taken up in a slightly more extended
schedule, including a loan to accelerate the closure of
coal mines, and some other things."
	More important, according to Siegelbaum , clearing
the way for these loans could open up what has been a
log-jam at the World Bank in dealing with Ukraine: "We
told the Ukrainians that if we could put this problem
behind us, we can now begin to accelerate the
preparation of a whole bunch of other loans--seven or
eight of them--which are at various stages of our
processing, but which we've had to hold up because we
couldn't rush ahead knowing 'the wall' was there.
Because it would make no sense to continue to present
loans to the parliament when it was in the mood to
reject them."
	Siegelbaum said even as the parliament was
rejecting the two loans, it did manage--on a second try-
-to accept a $22 million grant from the bank to finance
the modernization of plants that use ozone-depleting
substances. That was a real embarrassment for Ukrainian
officials, Siegelbaum explained, because it is an
outright grant and will cost Kyiv nothing.
	Siegelbaum noted that while the loans are extremely
important to Ukraine, the help with reforms that goes
along with the money is actually far more significant:
"The money's the least important part of these loans,
it's the reform. Every one of these loans reforms a
different part. Whether it's the water system in Odessa
or some district heating system in another city or
insulating government buildings for energy efficiency,
those reforms are going to create value for Ukraine far
in excess of the dollars involved in the loan."
	He added that he would "love it" if he could give
the reforms without the money because, he explains,
Ukraine would have a "healthier economy that wasn't in
debt to the World Bank." But since that won't work, he
said, it's best that Ukraine borrow the money and get
the reform help, in effect, thrown in for free.

The author is an RFE/RL correspondent based in
Washington.
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               Copyright (c) 1999 RFE/RL, Inc.
                     All rights reserved.
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