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RFE/RL NEWSLINE

RFE/RL NEWSLINE Vol 3, No. 52, Part II, 16 March 1999


________________________________________________________
RFE/RL NEWSLINE Vol 3, No. 52, Part II, 16 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

* POLISH AGRICULTURAL MINISTER RESIGNS

* KOSOVARS AGREE TO RAMBOUILLET PLAN

* CAR BOMB INJURES BOSNIAN CROAT OFFICIAL

End Note: DEMOCRACY OR DEPENDENCY IN FORMER YUGOSLAVIA?
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EAST-CENTRAL EUROPE

KUCHMA CRITICIZED FOR DECREE ON ADMINISTRATIVE REFORM.
Ivan Chyzh, head of the parliamentary Committee for
Freedom of Speech and Information, has criticized
President Leonid Kuchma's decree reducing the number of
ministries and state committees (see "RFE/RL Newsline,"
15 March 1999). "It is a cause of concern that the
Information Ministry no longer exists, while such
illegitimately created state committees as [those for
radio and television and for publishing and printing]
remain," UNIAN quoted Chyzh as saying. Chyzh added that
Kuchma's decree intends to create a monopoly within the
information sector "to allow easy manipulation" in the
upcoming presidential election campaign. Meanwhile,
Prime Minister Valeriy Pustovoytenko commented that
following Kuchma's decree, the government has now met
all IMF requirements for the resumption of the fund's
$2.2 billion loan to Ukraine. The IMF Board will meet on
24 March to discuss resuming that loan. JM

UKRAINIAN GOVERNMENT CUTS OFF ELECTRICITY TO DEBTORS.
Kyiv has cut off electricity supplies to 60 large
enterprises that have not paid their debts for earlier
deliveries, "Eastern Economist Daily" reported on 16
March. Energy Minister Ivan Plachkov told the cabinet
the previous day that those enterprises include several
steel plants. Electricity supplies may be resumed only
after the head of the newly created commission on
monitoring electricity bill payments issues a written
agreement to restart deliveries. JM

ALLEGED MURDER PLOT AGAINST CRIMEA'S HRACH UNDER
INVESTIGATION. President Leonid Kuchma has ordered that
allegations of a murder plot against Crimean Supreme
Council speaker Leonid Hrach be investigated, InfoBank
reported on 15 March. That move was triggered by a
letter from former Crimean parliamentary speaker Yevhen
Suprunyuk published in "Krymskaya pravda." Suprunyuk
said that during a conversation in 1995 or 1996, a
"high-ranking [Ukrainian] official" offered "to
physically eliminate" Hrach, at the time first secretary
of the Crimean Communist Party. Suprunyuk has been in
hiding since November 1998, when an arrest warrant was
issued for him on charges of involvement in two murders,
assault, and financial wrongdoing. JM

BELARUSIAN OPPOSITION TO SPLIT OVER JOINT COORDINATION
BODY? Stanislau Shushkevich, chairman of the Belarusian
Social Democratic Assembly, and four other party leaders
have issued a statement saying that the Consultative and
Coordinating Council "has nothing to do" with the
January decision of the Congress of Democratic Forces to
set up a joint coordination body, Belapan and RFE/RL's
Belarusian Service reported on 15 March (see "RFE/RL
Newsline," 22 February 1999). According to the
statement, Henadz Karpenka, head of the opposition
shadow cabinet, and Mikalay Statkevich, head of the
Belarusian Social Democratic Party, created the council
to suit the purpose of "passing themselves off abroad as
Belarusian opposition leaders." JM

LOCAL ELECTION CAMPAIGN IN BELARUS CONTINUES. Last week,
the Central Electoral Commission of the Republic of
Belarus registered 26,883 candidates for 24,570 deputy
seats in local soviets, Belapan reported. The local
elections, which are scheduled to take place on 4 April,
are to be boycotted by all political parties, except the
Communists and the Belarusian Liberal Democratic Party.
The latter has repeatedly accused the authorities of
denying registration to its candidates and
"discriminating" against them. It is threatening to
withdraw its candidates from the campaign. JM

ESTONIA'S MERI URGES MORE CLARITY OVER NATO EXPANSION.
President Lennart Meri, currently on a visit to the U.S,
told journalists in Washington on 15 March that Estonia
is expecting clear signals at next month's NATO summit
about the continued expansion of the alliance, ETA
reported. Meri criticized what he considers the
prevailing tendency to view NATO expansion in terms of
the "Cold War" rather than the new spirit of freedom,
which, he stressed, enables Central and Eastern European
countries to decide for themselves, which organizations
to join. According to Meri, Russia's attitude toward
NATO enlargement is changing and Moscow no longer views
that process with "panic and opposition." JC

PROSECUTOR APPEALS KALLAS'S ACQUITTAL. Prosecutor Jaan
Naaber has filed an appeal against the acquittal of
Reform Party leader Siim Kallas, ETA and BNS reported on
15 March. Earlier this month, Kallas was cleared of
charges of abuse of power and giving false information
leading to the loss of some $10 million in state funds
in 1993, when he was head of the Central Bank (see
"RFE/RL Newsline," 9 March 1999). Kallas is expected to
be named finance minister in the new government. JC

LATVIAN DEFENSE MINISTER RECOMMENDS MILITARY STAY CLEAR
OF 16 MARCH EVENTS... Defense Ministry spokesman Janis
Podins said on 15 March that Defense Minister Girts
Valdis Kristovskis has sent a letter to leaders of the
National Armed Forces recommending that they not take
part in any events commemorating Latvian Soldiers Day,
"Diena" and BNS reported. Earlier, National Armed Forces
commander Raimonds Graube and Home Guard commander Janis
Kononovs announced they will not participate in any such
events and will work as normal on that day. Graube's
predecessor, Juris Dalbins, was forced to resign over
his participation in last year's 16 March events. JC

...WHILE RADICALS REPORTED PREPARING TO DESCEND ON RIGA.
Interior Ministry State Secretary Andrs Staris told
journalists on 15 March that the security services have
received information that members of illegal extremist
groups based in various Latvian towns will travel to
Riga on 16 March to demonstrate their position toward
the planned march by veterans of the Latvian Waffen SS
Legion, BNS reported. Staris also commented that the
security services have contacted several dozen people
considered "likely to cause a disturbance" on 16 March
to warn them about the penalties for such an offense.
Those people are reported to have signed statements that
they will not break the law on 16 March, "Diena"
reported. JC

POLISH AGRICULTURAL MINISTER RESIGNS. Jacek Janiszewski
resigned on 15 March after the leadership of his Peasant
Conservative Party--a member of the Solidarity ruling
coalition--withdrew its support for him. Last week,
"Gazeta wyborcza" leaked details from a state auditor's
report on Janiszewski's performance as manager of the
Szczecin branch of the Agricultural Property Agency from
1992-1995. According to the newspaper, the report
confirmed earlier allegations that Janiszewski took
decisions that benefited his colleagues and friends.
Janiszewski was expected to lose his post under
government restructuring already under way and due to be
completed in early April. Thousands of farmers blocked
roads throughout Poland in January and February to
protest the government's agricultural policies and
sinking prices for domestic agricultural products. JM

HAVEL ON NAZI INVASION ANNIVERSARY. In a statement
marking the 60th anniversary of the invasion of
Czechoslovakia by Nazi Germany, Czech President Vaclav
Havel said on 15 March the country's membership in NATO
ensures its sovereignty will never again be threatened,
Reuters reported. He added that "Today's democratic
Germany has...become our ally." In other news, Czech
ambassador to NATO Karel Kovanda said on 15 March that
the joint accession to NATO of the Czech Republic,
Hungary, and Poland does not necessarily mean they have
identical positions on European security affairs.
Kovanda said that while all three agree that future
enlargement must include Slovakia, Hungary is interested
in seeing Romania and Slovenia join NATO, while Poland
has shown a "special interest" in the Baltic States, CTK
reported. MS

VAN DER STOEL IN SLOVAKIA TO EXAMINE SITUATION OF ROMA.
OSCE High Commissioner on National Minorities Max van
der Stoel, on a two-day visit to Slovakia, told
journalists on 15 March that the purpose of his visit is
to examine the situation and the living conditions of
Roma in Slovakia's "most problematic regions," CTK
reported. He said that although responsibility for the
Roma's situation rests primarily with the governments of
the countries in which they live, the problem is "so
serious that it also needs an international
perspective." On 12 March, AP reported that the
Budapest-based European Roma Rights Center filed a
complaint with the European Court of Human Rights
against the town councils of Nagov and Rokytovce for
prohibiting Roma in 1997 from settling in the towns and
threatening to expel them if they did so. MS

HUNGARIAN PREMIER URGES UNITY. In his speech marking the
151st anniversary of the 1848 Hungarian Revolution,
Prime Minister Viktor Orban said on 15 March that unity
can overcome Hungary's present-day difficulties. The
opposition far-right Hungarian Justice and Life Party
(MIEP) was invited to the official ceremony, but the
Socialist Party (MSZP) and the Free Democrats (SZDSZ)
were not. MSZP chairman Laszlo Kovacs commented that the
cabinet reduced the commemoration to a "party function,"
while SZDSZ parliamentary group leader Gabor Kuncze
noted that the two parties' exclusion from the ceremony
"sends a message about division rather than unity." In a
demonstration organized by the neo-Nazi Hungarian
Welfare Federation, the group's vice president, Viktor
Sarosi, sharply criticized those "Jews and Jewish
criminals" who gathered at the Budapest synagogue to
commemorate the national holiday. MSZ

ORBAN PLEDGES MINORITY REPRESENTATION. Viktor Orban on
12 March told leaders of Hungary's ethnic minorities
that the coalition plans a comprehensive reform of
election regulations that would provide a "fast
solution" to the issue of minorities' representation in
the parliament. Orban said he is awaiting a proposal
from the government's Office for National Minorities and
from the ombudsman for national minorities on how to
solve the problems of the Romanian minority, which
recently failed to elect a self-governing body. MSZ

SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE

KOSOVARS AGREE TO RAMBOUILLET PLAN. Hashim Thaci, who
heads the Kosovar delegation to the Paris talks on
Kosova, said on 15 March that the Kosovars accept the
Rambouillet plan for the province's future. He made his
announcement in separate letters to the foreign
ministers of the U.K., France, and the U.S., as well as
to Joschka Fischer of Germany, which holds the rotating
chair of the EU. Thaci stressed that he does not
consider the agreement perfect but believes that it will
bring peace and open the "way for the democratic process
in Kosova and the Balkans." He added that the Kosovars
will "be honored to sign the agreement at a time and
place of our choosing," which, observers note, means
when the Serbs sign it. Observers also note that the
Kosovars are reluctant to sign the document unless the
Serbs do, lest the Kosovars commit themselves to
compromises included in the document without the Serbs'
pledging to concessions in return. PM/FS

WESTERN PRESSURE ON SERBS GROWS... A spokesman for the
organizers of the talks said on 16 March that the day
will be "crucial in terms of seeing whether the Serbs
will engage" in serious negotiations in the wake of the
Kosovars' decision, Reuters reported. President Bill
Clinton said in Washington on 15 March that the Serbs
will leave NATO "little option" but to launch air
strikes if Belgrade indulges in further "intransigence
and aggression" over Kosova. French Foreign Minister
Hubert Vedrine noted in Paris that the Serbs "have their
backs to the wall." British Foreign Secretary Robin Cook
added that the Serbs must now "make up for lost time."
PM

...BUT SERBS REMAIN DEFIANT. Serbian President Milan
Milutinovic, who accompanied the Serbian delegation to
Paris, said on 15 March that the Kosovars' decision
"does not mean anything" because nothing was agreed at
Rambouillet. He stressed that all issues remain open to
further negotiation. (Western mediators say that the
Rambouillet plan cannot be renegotiated.) Meanwhile, a
spokesman for the Yugoslav embassy in London told the
BBC that the text that international mediators presented
to the delegations in Paris contains more than 50 pages
that were not part of the Rambouillet document. PM

ALBANIAN GOVERNMENT PRAISES KOSOVARS' DECISION. The
Albanian government issued a statement on 15 March
hailing the Kosovars' decision as the best course for
the province's ethnic Albanian majority. Reuters quoted
the statement as saying: "The government of the Republic
of Albania and the whole Albanian people warmly greet
the signing of the interim agreement. We are convinced
Kosova is opening with its own hand a new page in the
long history of the Albanian nation, which is full of
sacrifices [and which is now heading] toward peace,
stability, prosperity, and the future. If Belgrade does
not accept the deal, the Albanian government wants force
to be used by NATO forces. The [Kosovar ethnic]
Albanians [have clearly shown] they are factors of peace
in the region." PM

MONTENGRO DROPS VISA REQUIREMENT FOR BOSNIANS.
Montenegrin Tourism Minister Vladimir Mitrovic said in
Sarajevo on 15 March that Bosnian citizens will not
longer need visas to come to Montenegro as tourists,
"Dnevni Avaz" reported. He visited the Bosnian capital
as part of a festival aimed at promoting tourism to
Montenegro. PM

POLITICAL CONFUSION IN BANJA LUKA. A spokesman for the
international community's Carlos Westendorp said in the
Bosnian Serb capital on 15 March that Milorad Dodik
remains prime minister of the Republika Srpska. The
spokesman thereby contradicted the announcement by Vice
President Mirko Sarkovic "on behalf of President Nikola
Poplasen" that Mladen Ivanic, who belongs to no
political party, will replace Dodik as prime minister.
Sarkovic said that he is confident that Ivanic can win
the support of a majority in the parliament and that
Dodik's "majority no longer exists." Earlier that day,
Dodik withdrew the resignation he issued last week over
Brcko (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 8 March 1999). Dodik said
he came to realize that his resignation would not help
the Serbian cause in Brcko. The issue is further
complicated by the fact that Westendorp recently fired
Poplasen and that Sarkovic has neither refused nor
agreed to succeed his superior. PM

CAR BOMB INJURES BOSNIAN CROAT OFFICIAL. A bomb
seriously injured Jozo Leutar, who is deputy interior
minister of the mainly Muslim and Croatian Bosnian
federation, and two people accompanying him. The
explosion in Sarajevo on 16 March destroyed his car, in
which unknown individuals had planted the device. Police
are investigating. Tihomir Begic, who is an adviser to
Bosnian Croatian Democratic Community (HDZ) chair Ante
Jelavic, told Reuters that the bombing "is proof that
Croats cannot accept this state." He added that the
Croats cannot exclude what he called "radical moves" in
response to the attack. Leutar is a HDZ official and was
known as a hard-line nationalist during the 1992-1995
war. In recent weeks, many Croatian leaders have called
for the Bosnian Constitution to be changed and co-equal
Muslim, Serbian, and Croatian entities to be established
in place of the current Muslim-Croatian federation and
Republika Srpska. PM

SAKIC PLEADS NOT GUILTY. Dinko Sakic told a Zagreb court
on 15 March that he is not guilty of charges of genocide
in connection with his role as a commander at the
Jasenovac concentration camp under the pro-Axis Ustasha
regime during World War II (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 3
March 1999). Sakic stressed that his "conscience is
clear," AP reported. The indictment states that he
subjected inmates to "excessive labor, starvation,
physical and psychological torture." Thousands of Serbs,
Jews, Roma, and opposition Croats died at Jasenovac. PM

SERBIAN PATRIARCH VISITS CROATIA. Patriarch Pavle of the
Serbian Orthodox Church arrived in Zagreb on 15 March on
his first visit to Croatia since Serbian forces launched
a war there in 1991. He is slated to meet with President
Franjo Tudjman and Roman Catholic primate Archbishop
Josip Bozanic on 16 March. Pavle and the Orthodox Church
have been widely criticized in Croatia and Bosnia for
not condemning Serbian policies of "ethnic cleansing"
during the 1991-1995 conflicts. The state-run daily
"Vjesnik" wrote on 16 March that many Croats still do
not trust Pavle. Over the weekend, the patriarch met
with Slovenian President Milan Kucan and Roman Catholic
Archbishop France Rode in Ljubljana. PM

ROMANIAN FOREIGN MINISTER IN GERMANY. Andrei Plesu, on a
one-day visit to Bonn, met his German counterpart
Joschka Fischer, on 15 March to discuss Romania's bid to
gain EU membership. Returning to Bucharest the same day,
Plesu said the talks were "pragmatic and realistic,"
adding that it is "time to switch focus from what we
expect others to do for us to what we expect ourselves
to do." Plesu said that "others," including Germany, are
"ready for cooperation with Romania," which they regard
as an EU and NATO candidate "worthy of attention." Those
same countries, he noted, "expect us to be efficient and
that our aspirations are matched by our performance,"
Romanian Radio reported on 16 March. MS

POPE'S VISIT TO ROMANIA CONFINED TO BUCHAREST. Bishop
Mihaita Nifon said after talks with Vatican envoy
Roberto Tucci in Bucharest on 15 March that the Vatican
has "accepted the program of the visit [proposed by the
Romanian Orthodox Church], which is to include only the
capital," Reuters reported. The government's press
office announced that during his 7-9 May visit, the pope
will celebrate a Roman Catholic Mass and participate in
the celebration of an Orthodox Mass. He will also meet
with Patriarch Teoctist and Roman Catholic clerics, as
well as with President Emil Constantinescu and
government officials, RFE/RL's Bucharest bureau
reported. MS

ROMANIAN COURT AGAIN RULES AGAINST 'MULTICULTURAL
UNIVERSITY.' A Bucharest court on 15 March upheld an
appeal by the Party of Social Democracy in Romania
(PDSR) against the government's October 1998 decision to
set up the "multicultural" Hungarian-German Petofi-
Schiller University. The court ruled that the decision
is unconstitutional and violates several "organic laws."
A similar appeal by the Party of Romanian National Unity
was backed by the court in December 1998. The Greater
Romania Party has also contested the legality of the
government's decision to set up the university. The same
day, ethnic Hungarians celebrated the anniversary of the
1848 Hungarian revolution. President Emil Constantinescu
and Prime Minister Radu Vasile sent messages of
congratulations in which they urged that conflicts
between Hungarians and Romanians be overcome and
cooperation promoted. MS

VALUE OF MOLDOVAN CURRENCY SHARPLY DROPS. After several
weeks of relative stability, the Moldovan leu has again
registered a sharp drop against the dollar, RFE/RL's
Chisinau bureau reported on 15 March. Authorized traders
charged between 9-9.5 lei for $1. Two days earlier, the
exchange rate was 8.7 lei. MS

END NOTE

DEMOCRACY OR DEPENDENCY IN FORMER YUGOSLAVIA?

by Chris Walker

	If the rather intensive effort by the international
community to achieve an agreement between Kosovar
Albanians and Serbs seems familiar, there is good
reason: three-and-a-half years ago in Dayton, Ohio, a
similarly aggressive U.S.-led diplomatic initiative
compelled warring Serbs and Muslims in Bosnia to
conclude the Dayton Peace Agreement.
	That agreement, which divided Bosnia between the
Muslim-Croat Federation and the Bosnian Serbs, provided
for an international peacekeeping force of 60,000 troops
at the outset to implement and monitor the military
aspects of the agreement. Some 32,000 troops, originally
scheduled to depart Bosnia within one year, are still
stationed there. Of these, nearly 7,000 are Americans.
	Now, fearing a similarly open-ended military
commitment in the Serbian province of Kosova,
influential voices on Capitol Hill and in the U.S.
foreign-policy establishment are expressing their
opposition to the participation of U.S. ground troops in
Kosova to enforce any prospective agreement.
	However, as is clear from the experience in Bosnia,
it is not only an extension of military forces that is
causing concern but also the long-term implications of
the international community's vast civilian nation-
building effort throughout former Yugoslavia. If a deal
is reached in Kosova, the need for civilian
restructuring will be as least as great there as it has
been in Bosnia over the past three years.
	A foreign-supervised quasi-protectorate has been
established in Bosnia. Hundreds of foreigners--
officials, assistance workers and other civilian and
military support personnel--administer a wide-ranging
international aid program. Carlos Westendorp, a former
Spanish diplomat and now the international High
Representative for Bosnia, is responsible for civilian
implementation of the Dayton Peace Agreement. Appointed
by the UN Security Council, Westendorp has the authority
to impose settlements when Serbs, Croats, and Muslims
cannot agree on issues of key importance for the
implementation of the Dayton agreement.
	These substantial powers include supervising
elections, assisting in the formation of elected bodies
of self-administration and local police forces, as well
as determining broadcasting rights, citizenship laws,
and local currency and national flag designs. Most
recently, Westendorp used his authority to dismiss
elected Bosnian Serb President Nikola Poplasen, while at
the same time declaring that the strategic town of Brcko
would be removed from the Bosnian Serbs' exclusive
control.
	But despite the High Representatives' authority to
decide by fiat in Bosnia, the local actors themselves
have not shown a commitment to building a civil society.
Three years into this substantial foreign-orchestrated
reconstruction effort, there is still a strong sentiment
among rival communities for settling scores rather than
differences.
	Without their own will to forge a democratic
environment, Bosnians must depend on an outside
catalyst: namely, the international community. But the
longer the region is dependent on foreign assistance and
supervision to do the job, the greater the risk that the
locals will not develop for themselves the very habits
and skills essential for self-supporting, democratic
societies. This raises the question of whether
international intervention in Kosova will create another
quasi- protectorate and possibly intensify a culture of
dependency on the West in former Yugoslavia.
	At the same time, while foreign-supervised
development efforts continue in Bosnia and may soon
begin in Kosova, Serbia has continued to slip deeper
into the economic and political morass created by
Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic. Unlike the "two
steps forward, one step back" pattern of development
that has emerged in some of the more advanced post-
Soviet European states, key countries in the former
Yugoslavia are stagnating or falling backward.
	Reform fatigue is apparent in a number of countries
in the region that have taken tough, but necessary steps
to overhaul their political and economic systems. Mired
in conflict and suffering from inadequate leadership,
there is no such fatigue in Bosnia, Serbia, or the
province of Kosova because there has been little or no
genuine reform.
	Moreover, Croatia's governing elite--like Serbia's-
-pays only lip service to the rule of law and is beset
by rampant cronyism and corruption. In the past weeks,
Croatia has been severely criticized by the OSCE and the
U.S. for its human rights abuses and general disregard
for democratic practices. Repression of independent
media, lack of cooperation with the International War
Crimes Tribunal, and poor treatment of displaced ethnic
Serbs were among the issues cited in these reports.
	The difficult conditions in and around Kosova will
no doubt require an international military commitment at
least as long as in Bosnia. The need for civilian
support in Kosova will be enormous as well. Whether the
international authorities policies will ultimately
encourage democracy--or dependency--in the former
Yugoslavia remains a critical, unanswered question.

The author is a New York-based analyst specializing in
East European affairs.
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