The only certainty is that nothing is certain. - Pliny the Elder
RFE/RL NEWSLINE

RFE/RL NEWSLINE Vol 3, No. 80, Part II, 26 April 1999


________________________________________________________
RFE/RL NEWSLINE Vol 3, No. 80, Part II, 26 April 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

* NATO WELCOMES ASPIRING MEMBERS' EFFORTS

* DRASKOVIC TELLS BELGRADE TO 'STOP LYING'

* MORE REPORTS OF ATROCITIES IN KOSOVA
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EAST-CENTRAL EUROPE

NATO WELCOMES ASPIRING MEMBERS' EFFORTS... At the NATO
summit in Washington, the heads of state and government
taking part in that meeting issued a communique on 24
April that discussed, among other things, the
aspirations of nine Eastern European countries
interested in joining the alliance. NATO welcomed the
"continuing efforts and progress" in Romania and
Slovenia as well as in Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania.
It also hailed the "positive developments" in Bulgaria
and "recent positive developments" in Slovakia. With
regard to Macedonia, the alliance said it is "grateful"
for its cooperation during the Kosova crisis and
welcomes its progress on reforms. And it welcomed
cooperation with Albania during the current crisis and
"encouraged" that country's reform efforts. JC

...OFFERS MEMBERSHIP ACTION PLAN, RATHER THAN TIMETABLE.
As had been widely expected, NATO refrained from setting
a timetable for a second wave of expansion but pledged
to continue to welcome new members, saying that it
"expects to extend further invitations in coming years."
It also outlined its Membership Action Plan, which is
intended to provide "advice, assistance and practical
support" to those countries seeking to become members.
The plans foresees, among other things, that aspiring
members submit "annual national programs" on their
membership preparations. It also provides for a "focused
and candid feedback mechanism" on those countries'
progress in carrying out their programs. According to
the communique, the alliance will review the
"enlargement process" at its next summit, which is to be
held no later than 2002. JC

UKRAINIAN PARLIAMENT SUCCEEDS IN PASSING ANTI-NATO
BILL... Following several failures, the Ukrainian
Supreme Council on 23 April finally passed a resolution
seeking to limit the country's cooperation with NATO, AP
reported. The document condemned NATO's bombing in
Yugoslavia as "unjustified and inhumane" and called on
President Leonid Kuchma to submit Ukraine's cooperation
programs with NATO to the parliament for approval. It
added that Ukraine should immediately stop dismantling
strategic bombers and nuclear missile silos. Heorhiy
Kryuchkov, head of the parliamentary Defense Committee,
told Reuters that the adopted bill should "free our
foreign policy from its one-sided pro-NATO orientation."
JM

...WHILE KUCHMA'S KOSOVA PEACE PLAN GETS 'POLITE BRUSH-
OFF' FROM ALLIANCE. NATO Secretary-General Javier Solana
has given a "polite brush-off" to Ukrainian President
Leonid Kuchma's plan to settle the Kosova crisis (see
"RFE/RL Newsline," 16 April 1999), Reuters reported on
24 April. At a news conference in Washington, Solana
hailed Ukraine's "tireless diplomatic efforts" to
resolve the crisis but made it clear that Yugoslav
President Slobodan Milosevic will have to agree to
NATO's five-point plan for ending the conflict. Solana
said Russian and Ukrainian troops will be welcome to
join a future peacekeeping "robust force" in Kosova, but
he stressed that NATO troops should be at that force's
core. Kuchma told the news conference that Ukraine's
peace efforts are not a "solo performance" and expressed
his satisfaction that they are "understood and
appreciated by NATO leaders." JM

BELARUSIAN OPPOSITION MARKS CHORNOBYL ACCIDENT
ANNIVERSARY. Some 7,000 opposition demonstrators rallied
in Minsk on 25 April to mark the 13th anniversary of the
Chornobyl accident and to protest President Alyaksandr
Lukashenka's policies, AP reported. The demonstrators
criticized the proposed union between Belarus, Russia,
and Yugoslavia and demanded the release of Mikhail
Chyhir, a candidate in the opposition presidential
elections, who has been arrested on embezzlement
charges. JM

RUSSIAN DEFENSE MINISTER WINDS UP MINSK VISIT. At a 23
April news conference concluding his three-day visit to
Belarus, Russian Defense Minister Igor Sergeev said
Moscow and Minsk have agreed on creating a joint
military grouping, RFE/RL's Belarusian Service reported.
He did not elaborate. Sergeev and Lukashenka also made a
decision on the assembly of Russian SU-27 military
aircraft at Belarusian plants. The previous day, Sergeev
visited a missile early warning station under
construction at Hantsavichy. He noted that the station
is 90-96 percent ready and will begin full operations in
2000. JM

POLL SAYS LUKASHENKA HAS MORE OPPONENTS THAN SUPPORTERS.
Aleh Manayeu, director of the Independent Institute for
Social, Political, and Economic Studies, has said the
number of Lukashenka's opponents exceed that of his
supporters for the first time since he was elected
president in 1994, Belapan reported on 24 April. A March
poll showed 21.8 percent of the respondents consider
themselves "convinced supporters" of Lukashenka and 26.1
percent "convinced opponents." Meanwhile, a poll taken
in Minsk on 17-22 April showed that 54 percent of
respondents want presidential elections to be held in
1999, rather than in 2001. The former date is in
accordance with the 1994 constitution, which was
abolished after the controversial referendum two years
later. JM

BALTIC PRESIDENTS HAIL SUMMIT'S RESULTS. The three
Baltic presidents were unanimous in welcoming the
results of the Washington summit. In a statement issued
in Washington, Estonia's Lennart Meri expressed the
conviction that Estonia will be ready to join NATO in
the near future. He also stressed the importance of the
Membership Action Plan, ETA reported on 26 April.
Latvia's Guntis Ulmanis said that "Latvia commends the
summit decision to uphold the "open-door" policy and the
Membership Action Plan. In particular, we welcome the
fact that this plan will help Latvia become an alliance
member," according to LETA. And Lithuania's Valdas
Adamkus expressed the view that the results of the
summit were "very positive" and constitute "powerful
moves forward," ELTA noted. JC

BALTIC BOURSES TO STEP UP COOPERATION. The heads of the
Tallinn, Riga, and Vilnius stock exchanges signed a
protocol of intent on 23 April aimed at expanding
cooperation, Baltic news agencies reported. That
document foresees simplifying cross-border trading in
the three stock exchanges and examining the possibility
of creating a joint-trading system or merging the
current systems electronically. It also aims to create a
Baltic joint list of the most attractive securities in
the region and to launch cooperation to present the
Baltic capital markets as a single investment area. To
achieve this last goal, the bourses foresee joint
publications, the exchange of bourse materials, and
joint projects on the bourses' Internet homepages. JC

EU SAYS POLAND MUST SPEED REFORMS FOR EU ENTRY IN 2003.
Nikolaus van der Pas, the EU's chief negotiator on
enlargement, said in Warsaw on 23 April that Poland
needs to accelerate its reforms in order to be able to
join the EU at the 1 January 2003 target date, Reuters
and AP reported. According to Van der Pas, Poland must
first streamline and privatize its heavy industries,
reform the overmanned agricultural sector, and speed up
the implementation of EU-compatible laws. He noted that
Poles and other East European nationals will likely be
denied the right to freely seek jobs in the EU for some
time. He ruled out allowing Poland to introduce a
permanent ban on land sales to foreigners. And he added
that Poland will likely be allowed a transition period
of four to five years during which it could restrict
such sales. JM

POLISH RIGHTISTS CREATE ANTI-EU GROUPING. Polish right-
wing politicians have established the Polish Accord
movement, PAP reported on 24 April. The Polish Accord
declaration was signed by politicians from small
rightist groups and parties such as the Our Circle and
Polish Family parliamentary groups, the National Party,
and the All-Poland Youth movement. The signatories want
to create an alternative to the ruling Solidarity
Electoral Action and intend to transform Polish Accord
into a political party. "We are united by our opposition
to Poland's accession to the EU," the founding
declaration states. Polish Accord pledges to support
Polish farmers and producers "threatened" by the process
of adapting to EU standards and to defend "Polish
ownership against surrender into alien hands." JM

HAVEL VOICES STRONG SUPPORT FOR NATO... Czech President
Vaclav Havel said at the NATO summit on 24 April that
Czechs realize that belonging to NATO is a "major
commitment," CTK reported. Havel said that "just as our
allies safeguard our security, we safeguard the security
of others and assume the same co-responsibility for
peace in the world that the alliance accepts as a
whole." Havel was heading the Czech delegation that
attended the summit. Czech Premier Milos Zeman said
Havel was the right man for that role because "he had
greatly contributed to NATO enlargement." In the latest
poll, only one-third of Czech respondents said they
approved of the NATO air strikes against Yugoslavia.
Some 48 percent were against them. PB

...WHILE CZECH PREMIER DOESN'T. Zeman said on 24 April
that the Kosova Liberation Army (UCK) should be disarmed
and NATO should get approval from the UN Security
Council for the alliance's military operation against
Yugoslavia, CTK reported. Zeman said in Kladno that the
conflict in Yugoslavia "isn't a war of good guys against
bad guys. There is a serious suspicion that the UCK is
linked with narcomafia [sic]...it, too, commits
terrorist acts." He added that the Czech government,
while respecting NATO obligations, wants to keep a
"differentiated attitude" toward the conflict. Zeman
concluded that "I am not among those who soothe their
adolescent complex by applauding bombs falling on
Belgrade." PB

SLOVAK PREMIER SAYS NATO DOORS ARE OPEN. Mikulas
Dzurinda said in Washington on 25 April that the results
of the NATO summit show the alliance is willing to
accept new members, TASR reported. Dzurinda said he
believes Bratislava has as good a chance as the rest of
the prospective members of joining NATO. He added that
Slovakia acts as a "de facto ally" for NATO. Defense
Minister Eduard Kukan held talks on 24 April with U.S.
Deputy Secretary of State Strobe Talbott, who told Kukan
that Slovakia is presenting itself as a "reliable
partner" for NATO during the crisis. Kukan said the
following day that Slovakia will include criteria for
NATO admission in its national program, including all
the measures mentioned in NATO's Membership Action Plan.
Kukan spoke later with UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan.
PB

SLOVAK PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATES OUTLINE GOALS. In a
debate on Radio Twist on 25 April, Kosice Mayor Rudolf
Schuster and former President Michal Kovac outlined the
agendas they would follow if elected president, TASR
reported. Schuster said he would work hard to overcome
the years of isolation that Slovakia experienced under
former Premier Vladimir Meciar, who is also a candidate.
Schuster noted that he would also strive to resolve the
differences between the ruling coalition and the
opposition because the bickering has "divided" the
population. For his part, Kovac said he would focus on
regional development, decentralization, the stabilizing
of a legal state, and the investigation of crime--
including white-collar crime. Both candidates said it is
necessary to ratify a language law for ethnic
minorities. The MVK agency said on 24 April that if the
election were held now, Schuster would get 31 percent of
the vote and Meciar 24 percent. Kovac polled only 6.7
percent (fifth place). PB

HUNGARIAN PREMIER SATISFIED WITH NATO SUMMIT. Viktor
Orban said on 25 April that Hungary's delegation
successfully presented its interests at the NATO
Washington summit, Hungarian Television reported. Orban
said the most important objective was to raise the
awareness level of Vojvodina, saying "the Vojvodina
Hungarians cannot be forgotten. [They] are the last
ethnic minority in Yugoslavia that has not been reached
by [Yugoslav President Slobodan] Milosevic's ethnic
cleansing." He said this issue is not a "Hungarian
issue, but a NATO issue." There are some 300,000 ethnic
Hungarians living in Yugoslavia's northern province.
Orban said he was also pleased by the fact that the
closing NATO statement mentioned Slovakia as a serious
candidate for the next round of NATO expansion. PB

SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE

DRASKOVIC TELLS BELGRADE TO 'STOP LYING.' Yugoslav
Deputy Prime Minister Vuk Draskovic told Belgrade's non-
government Studio B Television on 25 April that "the men
running this country" must stop "lying to the people"
about the current conflict with NATO and its likely
outcome. He took issue with the optimistic line espoused
by top Belgrade officials, saying that "the people
should be told that NATO is not facing a breakdown, that
Russia will not help Yugoslavia militarily and that the
world public opinion is against us." Draskovic added
that "if some forces and individuals in Serbia say
we...must defeat the whole world, not only NATO, the
Serbian people should tell them 'no.' The people who
lead this country must say clearly where we stand. They
must make clear what will be left of Serbia in 20 days
if the bombing continues," AP quoted him as saying. PM

WHAT LIES BEHIND HIS REMARKS? The BBC on 26 April quoted
Draskovic as saying his remarks were not directed
against Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic. Observers
noted that Draskovic has sometimes publicly taken issue
with the views of hard-line Serbian Deputy Prime
Minister Vojislav Seselj. But Draskovic's statement is
the clearest indication to date of differences within
the Serbian leadership. On 24 April, the BBC reported
that persistent but unconfirmed reports suggest that
several top Yugoslav army generals are under house
arrest in Belgrade. Recently, NATO officials have
mentioned there is unspecified evidence of growing
splits within the Serbian leadership. PM

NATO PLEDGES BACKING FOR BALKAN STABILITY. Leaders of
NATO's 19 member states devoted much of their time at
the Washington summit to the crisis in Kosova and its
ramifications for the region as a whole (see also
above). On 25 April, NATO leaders told their
counterparts from Albania, Bosnia, Bulgaria, Croatia,
Macedonia, Romania, and Slovenia that the alliance is
committed to a long-term program for regional stability.
Earlier, NATO leaders discussed among themselves the
possibility of cutting off oil supplies to Serbia at sea
as well as how to engage Russia in the peace process.
Observers noted that the regional stability plan, if
fleshed out and put into effect, would be the first such
international undertaking for Southeastern Europe as a
region. PM

CLINTON WARNS SERBIA. U.S. President Bill Clinton said
in Washington on 25 April that "the nations of the
region have risked and even faced armed confrontation
with Serbia by facilitating and supporting our campaign
to end the bloodshed... If Belgrade challenges its
neighbors as a result of the presence of NATO, we will
respond." NATO Secretary-General Javier Solana added
that "the NATO allies are grateful for the support which
countries in the region have provided. Such solidarity
and support of the international community's
objectives...is a sure sign of our eventual success."
Observers pointed out that NATO officials did not
indicate whether they had discussed the possibility of
sending ground troops into Kosova. PM

DRNOVSEK UPBEAT ON NATO... Slovenian Prime Minister
Janez Drnovsek said in Washington on 25 April that he is
confident that his country will be the "first candidate"
for NATO membership when the alliance decides to admit
the next group of applicants, AP reported. He argued
that his country has "behaved more like a NATO ally"
than as merely a member of the Partnership for Peace
Program throughout the current crisis. Drnovsek added
that Slovenia will support any NATO oil embargo against
Belgrade. He called for sending a UN force "to stabilize
the region" but did not elaborate. Drnovsek argued that
Milosevic "miscalculated badly" by not accepting the
Rambouillet plan in March. The Slovenian leader added
that Milosevic probably assumed that NATO countries
would not be able to maintain a united front against him
for very long. The Zagreb daily "Vecernji list" reported
on 26 April that Drnovsek called for Croatia to be
admitted to the Partnership for Peace program but that
Solana said Croatia is not yet ready. PM

...BUT GLIGOROV IS BITTER. Macedonian President Kiro
Gligorov said in Washington on 25 April that he is
disappointed that NATO officials have not invited his
country to join the alliance and instead "put it in last
place." He charged that NATO has not shown appreciation
for the efforts Macedonia has made to meet the demands
that the alliance has placed upon it in the course of
the current crisis, AP reported. Gligorov said that
Western countries should contribute more money for
refugee relief and take more refugees out of the region.
He stressed that "NATO cannot expect Southeastern Europe
to change [from] an economic, political and social point
of view unless a helping hand is extended to this
region. I believe this is the best response to the super
nationalism which has reigned in this area," Gligorov
concluded. PM

MORE REPORTS OF ATROCITIES IN KOSOVA. A spokesman for
the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees told
Reuters in Blace, Macedonia, on 25 April that Serbian
paramilitaries killed some 56 Kosovars north of Ferizaj
in mid-April. He added that persistent but unconfirmed
reports by refugees indicate that the Serbian forces
regularly engage in rape and robbery as part of their
policy of ethnic cleansing. A prosecutor for the Hague-
based war crimes tribunal told AP in Brazda that Serbian
forces have set up rape camps at Gjakova, Peja, and an
unspecified arms factory. She stressed that Serbian
forces use systematic rape to accelerate the process of
ethnic cleansing. A refugee woman added that the Serbs
use rape in order to destroy the foundations of ethnic
Albanian society. The previous day, the BBC reported
that Serbian forces used Yugoslav army trucks to remove
televisions and stereos from abandoned homes in southern
Kosova. PM

CLARK SAYS AIR CAMPAIGN 'RIGHT ON SCHEDULE.' General
Wesley Clark, who is NATO's supreme commander in Europe,
said in Tirana on 25 April that the bombing campaign
against Serbian forces is advancing "right on schedule"
and that Milosevic knows he is losing the war, Reuters
reported. Clark visited support troops preparing the
deployment of 24 Apache helicopters, an RFE/RL
correspondent reported from Tirana. The general said
that NATO does not plan a ground invasion of Kosova. A
spokesman for Albanian President Rexhep Meidani told
RFE/RL the same day in Tirana that U.S. officials in
Washington assured him of support in the event of a
military confrontation with Yugoslavia. The previous
day, Pentagon officials in Washington told dpa they will
increase the number of U.S. forces in Albania by 2,000
to 5,300. The additional troops will be responsible for
ground security for helicopters and missile batteries.
FS

UCK OFFERS TO LEAD GROUND INVASION. A spokesman for the
Kosova Liberation Army (UCK) said at a press conference
in Kukes on 25 April that the guerrillas are willing to
lead a NATO ground offensive against Serbian forces in
Kosova. The BBC quoted the spokesman as saying that the
UCK holds areas in northern Kosova and has established a
corridor linking those areas with Albania. According to
Reuters, however, he stressed that "we are short of
weapons, food and other supplies...and we are fighting
an army of 40,000 Serbian police and paramilitaries."
The spokesman also reported that the Serbian authorities
have turned Kosova into "one big concentration
camp...with killings, massacres and rapes." He added
that the UCK has unspecified new evidence of mass
killings of 61 people in the village of Poklek, 51 in
Koliq, and more than 160 in the Izbica district of
Skenderaj. He gave no further details. FS

YUGOSLAV ARMY HARASSES JOURNALISTS IN MONTENEGRO.
Miodrag Perovic, who heads the independent weekly
"Monitor" and Antenna M Radio, said in Podgorica on 25
April that he is going into hiding to avoid capture and
possible torture by the Yugoslav army. He added that his
magazine and radio will stop work rather than submit to
military censorship. Radio Free Montenegro's editor
Nebojsa Redzic is also in hiding, Reuters reported. The
army has issued arrest warrants against both men. The
army is holding one Croatian and two French journalists
on espionage charges. PM

PRIVATIZATION BEGINS IN BOSNIA. Bosnian and
international officials attended a ceremony in Sarajevo
on 23 April to mark the issuing of the first
privatization vouchers to some of Bosnia's 1.9 million
citizens, Reuters reported. The vouchers represent
compensation for frozen pre-war bank accounts as well as
unpaid wages and pensions. The total value of assets to
be privatized in the mainly Muslim and Croatian
federation is $26 billion. Representatives of the
international community stressed that the project is
essential to revive the Bosnian economy and encourage
the war-torn country to stand on its own feet and avoid
becoming dependent on foreign aid. PM

CROATIAN BANKS SAVE TISAK. Government officials brokered
a deal in Zagreb on 23 April according to which five
banks will bail out Tisak, the company that has a near
monopoly on the distribution of newspapers. The banks
will have a controlling stake in Tisak as part of the
$16.5 million deal. Elsewhere, "Vecernji list" reported
on 26 April that the Croatian Company for Pension
Insurance faces major financial difficulties. PM

ROMANIAN FOREIGN MINISTER SUPPORTS POSSIBLE OIL EMBARGO
AGAINST BELGRADE. Andrei Plesu said on 24 April in
Washington that although Bucharest supports the NATO
proposal to impose an oil embargo against Yugoslavia,
Romania should be reimbursed for the resulting losses it
would suffer, Rompres reported. Plesu said Romania could
join NATO in the "strategic efforts" of setting up the
embargo. Since Hungary and Bulgaria have also said they
would abide by such an embargo, only shipments to
Montenegro would be left as a route for Russian
deliveries of oil, an RFE/RL correspondent reported.
Premier Radu Vasile said the previous day that the first
month of the bombing campaign against Yugoslavia has
cost Romania some $730 million. A report outlining these
costs has been sent to the World Bank and the IMF.
Romanian President Emil Constantinescu, who was also in
Washington for the NATO summit, called for a broad
reconstruction of southeastern Europe and "not just the
war zone." PB

BULGARIAN PRESIDENT ALSO BACKS POSSIBLE OIL EMBARGO.
Petar Stoyanov said on 24 April that Bulgaria fully
supports the possible oil embargo against Yugoslavia, an
RFE/RL correspondent in Washington reported. Stoyanov
said "not a single drop of oil will go through Bulgaria
on its way to Yugoslavia." He said Bulgaria anticipated
the call for the embargo and has already closed oil
pipelines to Yugoslavia. Stoyanov repeated that Bulgaria
suffered immense financial losses each day that the
conflict continued and appealed to the EU and the U.S.
for government-backed investment in Bulgaria. He also
said Sofia hoped for fast and early accession to NATO in
return for its support of the alliance. On 23 April, a
Bulgarian customs patrol intercepted a Ukrainian ship
attempting to smuggle in fuel near the town of Ruse. PB

NATO PLANES VIOLATE BULGARIAN AIR SPACE. Two NATO
fighter planes reportedly violated Bulgarian air space
on 24 April, BTA reported. The planes flew over the town
of Tran, some 30 kilometers inside Bulgaria before
heading toward Macedonia. The Bulgarian government has
said it will allow NATO planes to fly within a corridor
along the country's western border, but the decision is
not valid until the parliament approves it. A
parliamentary debate and vote on the issue is expected
early this week. Meanwhile, both pro- and anti-NATO
protests took place in Sofia on 25 April. PB

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