A disagreement may be the shortest cut between two minds. - Kahlil Gibran
RFE/RL NEWSLINE

RFE/RL NEWSLINE Vol 3, No. 59, Part II, 25 March 1999


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RFE/RL NEWSLINE Vol 3, No. 59, Part II, 25 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

* LUKASHENKA DENOUNCES NATO STRIKES

* UCK WELCOMES STRIKES, PLEDGES TO CONTINUE FIGHTING

* SERBS SHELL ALBANIAN VILLAGES
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EAST-CENTRAL EUROPE

LUKASHENKA DENOUNCES NATO STRIKES AGAINST YUGOSLAVIA.
"We believe that inflicting strikes on the territory of
a sovereign state [constitutes] aggression," Belarusian
Television quoted President Alyaksandr Lukashenka as
saying on 24 March. Lukashenka said he supports the
stance of Russian Premier Yevgenii Primakov on the
Kosova crisis. The same day, Lukashenka sent a letter to
Russian President Boris Yeltsin requesting him to
include the NATO decision to use force in Yugoslavia on
the agenda of the 2 April CIS summit in Moscow. "We
should know who is who in the CIS," he said, adding that
Russia "should become a consolidating factor" in working
out a common CIS position on the Kosova crisis.
Meanwhile, commenting on Russia's reported intent to
deploy tactical nuclear weapons in Belarus in response
to NATO's action against Yugoslavia, Belarusian Security
Council Deputy Chairman Viktar Navelski said that "such
an option has not been ruled out." JM

UKRAINIAN PARLIAMENT URGES GOVERNMENT TO RECONSIDER
NUCLEAR STATUS... The Supreme Council on 24 March passed
a resolution asking the government to prepare
legislation on renouncing Ukraine's non-nuclear status.
The resolution was passed after "virtually all factions"
condemned the NATO decision to use force in Yugoslavia,
AP reported. Ukrainian presidential spokesman Oleksandr
Martynenko commented that "the president is the only
person" to regulate foreign policy and security issues.
He added that the government can implement parliamentary
decisions on these issues only after they "are agreed on
with the president." In his opinion, the decision to
revise Ukraine's nuclear status "was induced by emotions
and not by considerations." JM

...RATIFIES BLACK SEA FLEET AGREEMENTS WITH RUSSIA. The
parliament also voted by 250 to 63 with five abstentions
to ratify the three agreements on the Black Sea Fleet,
which were signed by Leonid Kuchma and Boris Yeltsin in
May 1997. While approving the Russia-Ukraine 1997
friendship treaty last month, Russia's Federation
Council conditioned its implementation on the
ratification of the Black Sea Fleet agreements by
Ukraine. Under those accords, Russia will keep 460 naval
vessels belonging to the fleet, while Ukraine will have
162 ships as well as $526 million compensation from
Russia. The Russian part of the fleet will be based in
Sevastopol until 2017. JM

RIGA, VILNIUS SUPPORT NATO AIR STRIKES... The Latvian
Foreign Ministry issued a statement on 24 March saying
that it "understands NATO's decision to begin military
strikes against Yugoslavia as there are no other ways"
to solve the Kosova crisis. But, the statement added,
Latvia still hopes that the parties to the conflict will
return to the negotiating table. The Lithuanian Foreign
Ministry said Vilnius regards NATO's decision to
initiate air strikes against the Federal Republic of
Yugoslavia as a "means of preventing the spread of
military conflict, which would effectively cause a
humanitarian catastrophe in the Balkans." JC

...WHILE TALLINN YET TO MAKE OFFICIAL STATEMENT. Toomas
Hendrik Ilves, the designated foreign minister in the
new Estonian government, told BNS the same day that
"such NATO action to prevent crimes against humanity has
long been expected." He added that he was "surprised" by
the behavior of Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic,
who, he said, did not wish to solve the Kosova crisis
"in any way." To date, Tallinn has made no official
statement in response to the air strikes. Meanwhile,
Mart Laar's government was sworn into office on 25
March, after Estonian President Lennart Meri approved
the cabinet lineup the previous night following his
return from France to receive the European of the Year
award. JC

LATVIAN SECURITY COUNCIL BACKS KAMALDINS. The National
Security Council on 24 March voted to nominate Lainis
Kamaldins for another term in office as director of the
Office for the Protection of the Constitution, LETA
reported. Last week, Kamaldins caused a controversy over
his comment to the press that Latvia's Jewish community
may have been involved in the 1998 bombing of the Riga
synagogue (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 22 and 23 March 1999).
President Guntis Ulmanis told reporters that he had
voted for the nomination of Kamaldins. He added that
this will give the parliament the opportunity to
evaluate the office's activities and to hear Kamaldins's
report, according to "Diena." The same day, Russian
Prime Minister Yevgenii Primakov approved the
appointment of Nationality Affairs Minister Ramazan
Abdulatipov as co-chairman of the Latvian-Russian
intergovernmental commission. JC

CABINET SAYS ADAMKUS'S PROPOSAL ON COMPETITION COUNCIL
'UNPRECEDENTED.' Following the vote in favor of an
amended version of the competition law, the Lithuanian
government issued a statement saying that President
Valdas Adamkus's proposal to strip the cabinet of its
authority over the Competition Council was
"unprecedented" (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 24 March 1999),
ELTA reported. According to "Lietuvos Rytas," the
president's office regarded that statement as indicating
Prime Minister Gediminas Vagnorius's intention to step
down, and thus Adamkus wanted to hear the premier's
position during their meeting on 24 March. "Respublika"
reported that Adamkus demanded that Vagnorius withdraw
the statement, pointing out that he would no longer be
able to work with the premier. But ELTA quoted
government Chancellor Kestutis Cilinskas as saying the
statement would not be withdrawn and cited unidentified
sources as saying the president made no such demand
during his meeting with Vagnorius. JC

POLAND BACKS NATO ACTION IN YUGOSLAVIA. Polish Foreign
Minister Bronislaw Geremek on 24 March commented that
"diplomatic means have been exhausted" and that Yugoslav
President Slobodan Milosevic bears responsibility for
the Kosova crisis. Marek Siwiec, head of the
presidential National Security Bureau, told Polish Radio
the same day that "Poland backs the NATO decision, and
this fact is a joint decision by the supreme state
authorities." Speaking on Polish Television, Siwiec said
the government sees the current crisis as a test of
Poland's credibility as a NATO member. JM

CZECH LEADERS CALL ON MILOSEVIC TO RENEW TALKS. Speaking
after a meeting of the National Security Council on 24
March, President Vaclav Havel, Premier Milos Zeman, and
Chamber of Deputies Chairman Vaclav Klaus called on
Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic to renew talks
with the Kosova Albanians, CTK reported. Zeman said the
NATO military action against the Serbs is "a means
toward renewing negotiations," while Havel said the air
strikes are the only way Europe and the U.S. can express
their commitments to human rights." MS

CZECH PARLIAMENT APPROVES DISPATCH OF HOSPITAL TO
BALKANS. Endorsing the 10 March decision of the Senate,
the Chamber of Deputies on 24 March approved sending a
military field hospital to Macedonia to support a NATO
peace-keeping operation in neighboring Kosova, CTK
reported. Premier Milos Zeman told the house that it is
the government's duty "to follow up long-lasting
friendly traditions and provide medical aid to both
sides involved in the conflict." This is why the
hospital will not be stationed in Kosova, but inortheast
of Skopje, he said. The chamber, however, did not
approve the transit across Czech territory of NATO
troops that might be involved in action against
Yugoslavia. MS

SLOVAKIA OPENS AIR SPACE TO NATO FORCES. The government
on 24 March granted a NATO request to allow the
alliance's planes to use Slovak air space and to land
for refueling, Foreign Minister Eduard Kukan told the
parliament. Premier Mikulas Dzurinda told journalists
that NATO's decision to strike is "the smallest of two
evils" in a situation where "the civilized world could
not watch for ever the massacres of innocent people in
Kosova." During a stormy debate in the parliament, the
opposition Movement For a Democratic Slovakia (HZDS)
called the NATO decision "modern barbarism," and in a
declaration issued on 25 March, the HZDS expressed
"solidarity" with the Yugoslav population. It also
argued that the government's decision was
"unconstitutional," having been taken without the
consent of the parliament." MS

HUNGARIAN PARLIAMENT ALLOWS NATO TO USE AIRFIELDS. The
parliament on 24 March voted 225 to 12 with eight
abstentions to allow NATO to use military airfields for
strikes against Yugoslavia, AP and Reuters reported. The
decision was supported by all parliamentary groups
except the xenophobic Justice and Life Party. It amends
an October 1998 decision that allows only the use of
Hungary's air space for this purpose. MS

SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE

NATO LAUNCHES AIR STRIKES. Aircraft belonging to eight
member countries of the Atlantic alliance and cruise
missiles struck military targets in more than a dozen
cities and towns in Serbia, Kosova, and Montenegro.
British Prime Minister Tony Blair said in London the
next day that there were no NATO casualties and that no
aircraft were lost. Serbian state-run television showed
footage of a building in Novi Sad in flames and what the
broadcast claimed were civilian casualties. General
Nebojsa Pavkovic, who commands the Third Army in the
region that includes Kosova, told state-run television
that the attackers hit more than 40 different targets
but inflicted only "minimal" damage. NATO Secretary-
General Javier Solana said in Brussels that the attacks
will most likely continue for at least several days.
This is the first time in its history that NATO has used
force against a sovereign state. PM

COOK OUTLINES NATO'S GOALS. British Foreign Secretary
Robin Cook told the BBC on 25 March that the Atlantic
alliance's "objective is to curb the capacity of
[Yugoslav President Slobodan] Milosevic's army to
repress the [Kosovar] Albanians. When that stops, the
military action will stop. It can stop today if
Milosevic returns to the negotiating table and
recognizes [that] the peace plan we've put together
offers not only a fair deal to [the Kosovar] Albanians
but also a fair deal to Belgrade." The previous day in
Washington, President Bill Clinton said that "the
dangers of acting are far outweighed by the dangers of
not acting," by which he meant that failure to act
against Milosevic could lead to a wider war. Before the
bombing began, Milosevic appeared on state-run
television to appeal to all citizens to do everything
possible to resist the attacks. PM

ANNAN HAS MIXED REACTION. UN Secretary-General Kofi
Annan said in a statement in New York on 24 March that
it is "tragic that diplomacy has failed, but there are
times when the use of force may be legitimate in the
pursuit of peace." He added, however, that the Security
Council "should be involved in any decision to use
force." PM

DJUKANOVIC SAYS MILOSEVIC MUST CHANGE POLICIES.
Montenegrin President Milo Djukanovic said on state-run
television on 24 March that Milosevic's policies led to
the NATO air strikes. The Montenegrin president stressed
that the bombings "are the tragic consequences of an
irrational policy of confrontation with the entire
world. This policy has led us into a dangerous
adventure, the price of which is peace and the lives of
Montenegrin citizens. Force will not bring peace. Our
future is not in confrontation with the entire world and
therefore I demand from Milosevic to halt the policy
that has led to collective suffering of innocents and
endangered the survival of the country," Djukanovic
concluded. PM

JOURNALISTS HARASSED IN SERBIA. The Yugoslav authorities
declared a "state of emergency" throughout the country
on 24 March. Meanwhile, police detained an unspecified
number of foreign journalists in Belgrade and Prishtina
and prevented them from sending footage abroad. A BBC
reporter said the next morning that police "kicked in
the doors" of an unspecified number of journalists'
rooms in Prishtina's main hotel. PM

RFE/RL INCREASES BROADCASTS TO CRISIS REGION. RFE/RL'S
South Slavic Service increased its daily programming in
Serbian by three-and-a-half hours on 24 March. It also
doubled the length of its broadcasts to Kosova to make a
total of one hour per day. Six local affiliates carry
programming in both languages in Montenegro. PM

NATO TANKS PATROL MACEDONIA'S BORDER. An unspecified
number of tanks and armored personnel carriers belonging
to the Atlantic alliance patrolled Macedonia's frontier
with Serbia soon after the air strikes began, Reuters
reported on 24 March. A NATO spokesman said in Skopje
that "there have been no threats or moves by the Serb
military [in the border area]. We are taking all
precautionary measures and it would be a great mistake
by the Serbs to threaten this country." Some 10,000 NATO
soldiers are stationed in Macedonia. PM

SERBS SHELL ALBANIAN VILLAGES. Kudusi Lama, who commands
the Second Infantry Division in Kukes, told Reuters on
25 March that Serbian forces shelled two villages on
Albanian territory and wounded the commander of the
border post near Dobruna. Lama added that Serbian
soldiers fired on Albanian troops, who did not return
fire. But he stressed that Albanian soldiers will shoot
if Serbian forces enter Albanian territory. PM

ALBANIA WELCOMES NATO STRIKES. Albanian Prime Minister
Pandeli Majko told a press conference in Tirana on 24
March that "the Albanian government welcomes this NATO
initiative, taken after all political means for solving
the crisis in Kosova and ending Serbian repression were
exhausted." Majko expressed his thanks to "the
governments of all friendly countries, especially the
U.S. government and President Clinton, who did not
hesitate to intervene in the conflict," dpa reported. He
repeated his long-standing offer to put all port and
airport facilities at NATO's disposal for operations in
Kosova. Majko added that "the Albanian government at
this moment feels itself very close to the fighters of
the Kosova Liberation Army [UCK], who are defending the
nation against the Serbian war machine." Majko also said
that U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright assured
him of U.S. protection against possible Serbian attacks
during a telephone call after the air raids began. FS

TIRANA TO CLEAN OUT ENVER'S BUNKERS. Tirana Mayor Albert
Brojka on 24 March called on citizens to clean out the
ubiquitous concrete bomb shelters built during the
Stalinist dictatorship of Enver Hoxha. He said 1,000 out
of 1,330 shelters in the capital have been readied for
use, Reuters reported. Information Minister Musa Ulqini
said that Albanian troops on the border with Kosova are
on a "second-level alert," which means that army
personnel are confined to base. Foreign Minister Paskal
Milo left for a meeting of the NATO Council in Brussels
to "discuss immediate and direct threats" to the
security of Albania. FS

UCK WELCOMES STRIKES, PLEDGES TO CONTINUE FIGHTING...
UCK spokesman Jakup Krasniqi told Albanian Television on
24 March that "the international community has finally
decided to punish the criminal who has long turned
Yugoslavia into a slaughter-house," by which he meant
Milosevic. Krasniqi added that "we feel more at ease
now, but we still shall continue our fight." He stressed
that "as long as the Yugoslav army and the Serbian
military and paramilitary units continue their attacks
on Albanian villages and towns, the objective of the UCK
will be the liberation of Kosova from these gangs," dpa
reported. UCK leader Hashim Thaci said that the
"independence of Kosova will not come as soon as we
hoped, it will come [instead] as the result of a
process. It all depends on our organization and on our
fighting in Kosova in the future," AP quoted him as
saying. FS

...CALLS FOR ELECTIONS. Thaci also called on ethnic
Albanian political parties to nominate candidates for a
new Kosova government to replace President Ibrahim
Rugova's shadow state. Thaci stressed that "in these
difficult circumstances, Kosova needs a government. I
ask all the political parties to send their proposals on
candidates for the new government by 31 March to the UCK
general staff headquarters," AP reported. FS

SFOR STEPS UP SECURITY IN BOSNIA. NATO officials said in
a statement in Sarajevo on 24 March that SFOR has closed
all airports in Bosnia and banned all flights over
Bosnian territory. SFOR also tightened security at its
bases after receiving a series of unspecified threats
from "persons who stand to gain by destabilizing the
peace process," a spokesman told AP. SFOR commander
General Montgomery Meigs said that "anyone who tries to
impede freedom of movement, either SFOR's or that of the
civilian populace, will be dealt with firmly." In Banja
Luka, Republika Srpska Defense Minister Manojlo
Milovanovic said that NATO seeks to "install bases in
[Kosova] as part of its expansion to the east." PM

SLOVENIA'S KUCAN PRAISES AIR STRIKES. President Milan
Kucan said in Ljubljana on 24 March that the Atlantic
alliance is welcome to use Slovenian air space to launch
air strikes against Serbia. He added that Solana assured
him in a letter that NATO will protect Slovenia's
security if is threatened. Kucan said that the attacks
"had to happen," and he recalled "memories of Vukovar,
Dubrovnik, Sarajevo, Srebrenica" and other places in
Croatia and Bosnia that Serbian forces attacked during
the 1991-1995 wars. Slovenia belongs to NATO's
Partnership for Peace program. PM

SLOVENIA GETS NEW INTERIOR MINISTER. The parliament on
24 March approved the appointment of writer Borut Suklje
to head the Interior Ministry. He is a former minister
of culture and belongs to Prime Minister Janez
Drnovsek's Liberal Democratic Party. Lawmakers removed
Mirko Bandelj as interior minister in February because
he had interfered with the parliament's right to
supervise the work of the secret police, AP reported
from Ljubljana. PM

SOLANA REASSURES YUGOSLAVIA'S NEIGHBORS. A senior NATO
official on 24 March said that Secretary-General Solana
has written letters to the premiers of Albania,
Bulgaria, Macedonia, Romania, and Slovenia (all members
of the Partnership for Peace program) saying that NATO
will ensure their safety. BTA quoted Solana as writing
to Premier Ivan Kostov that "Bulgaria's security is of a
direct and concrete concern to NATO." In his letter to
Romanian Premier Radu Vasile, Solana said that NATO
would regard as "inadmissible" any Yugoslav threat on
Romanian "territorial integrity, independence, and
security," adding that NATO views the security of "all
its partners" as directly "linked to that of its
members," Romanian Radio reported. MS

CONSTANTINESCU DENIES KOSOVA MILITARY INVOLVEMENT
INTENTION. Speaking on television before the NATO
strikes were announced, President Emil Constantinescu on
24 March dismissed "[opposition] suggestions" that
Romania intends to send combat troops to Kosova or that
it has made such an offer to NATO. He said Bucharest
intends to send "humanitarian aid" or peace keepers to
the region but will do so only if the conflicting sides
reach an agreement and in line with the resolutions
approved by the parliament, RFE/RL's Bucharest bureau
reported. He also said Romania's support for NATO is the
country's "only security option." Opposition Party of
Social Democracy in Romania chairman, former President
Ion Iliescu said after the strikes began that "foreign
military intervention can only complicate things, as the
Vietnam experience teaches us." MS

RUSSIAN AMBASSADOR WARNS ROMANIA. Russian ambassador
Valerii Kenyaykin told journalists in Sibiu on 24 March
said that if NATO attacks Yugoslavia, the conflict will
"imminently extend" and will "also involve Romania,"
RFE/RL's Bucharest bureau reported. He also warned that
NATO intervention would create "a dangerous precedent"
because "satisfying the demands of separatists in one
country" would mean other separatists would make similar
demands. "In the Balkans, there is no state that does
not face this problem," he remarked. MS

ROMANIAN WORKERS PROTEST LOW LIVING STANDARDS. Tens of
thousands protested in Bucharest and other major cities
to protest declining living standards, RFE/RL's
correspondents in Romania reported. The demonstrations
were organized by the four major labor confederations,
which are threatening to hold a warning strike on 19
April and a general strike on 26 April. MS

KOSTOV SAYS KOSOVA CRISIS POSES ECONOMIC, NOT SECURITY
THREAT. Prime Minister Ivan Kostov, in an interview with
state radio on 24 March, said there is no security
threat for Bulgaria from the Kosova crisis because
Bulgaria "is not perceived by neighboring Yugoslavia as
an enemy." He added that Sofia has "played a positive
role throughout, seeking a solution within Yugoslavia's
existing borders." But he noted that NATO air strikes
against Yugoslavia will pose an "economic threat," both
because Bulgaria's transport links with Europe pass
through Yugoslavia and because further destabilization
in the Balkans will hamper foreign investments, Reuters
reported. President Petar Stoyanov, in a radio address
before a meeting of the Consultative Council on National
Security assured "Bulgarian mothers" that they have "no
reason for alarm," as "Bulgarian soldiers will not be
sent to participate in military operations." MS

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