|If a man be gracious and courteous to strangers, it shows he is a citizen of the world, and that his heart is no island cut off from other lands, but a continent that joins to them. - Francis Bacon|
RFE/RL NEWSLINE Vol. 3, No. 88, Part II, 6 May 1999
___________________________________________________________ RFE/RL NEWSLINE Vol. 3, No. 88, Part II, 6 May 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 xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx Headlines, Part II * VOTING STARTS IN OPPOSITION PRESIDENTIAL ELECTIONS IN BELARUS * MYSTERY SURROUNDS RUGOVA'S ARRIVAL IN ROME * MACEDONIA CLOSES BORDER TO KOSOVARS End Note: EU, EAST EUROPEAN CANDIDATES REVIEW PROGRESS xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx EAST-CENTRAL EUROPE VOTING STARTS IN OPPOSITION PRESIDENTIAL ELECTIONS IN BELARUS. In a bid to challenge the authoritarian regime of President Alyaksandr Lukashenka, the Belarusian opposition on 6 May launched a 10-day voting process in the presidential elections. The elections were scheduled by the Supreme Soviet, Belarus's parliament that was dissolved by Lukashenka after the 1996 controversial referendum which has not been recognized by most European countries. Unable to organize the ballot at stationary polling stations on a single day, the Central Electoral Commission resolved to hold voting at voters' homes from 6-16 May. The candidates in the elections are Zyanon Paznyak, exiled leader of the Belarusian Popular Front, and former Premier Mikhail Chyhir, now jailed by the authorities on charges of "grand larceny." According to the abolished 1994 constitution, to which the opposition remains loyal, Lukashenka's term in office expires on 20 July 1999. JM MINSK VENDORS PROTEST GOVERNMENT CRACKDOWN ON PRIVATE TRADE. Some 2,000 private vendors began a two-day "sitting strike" at the Minsk "Dynama" market on 5 May to protest the crackdown by the police and tax inspectors on small trade in Belarus, Belapan and AP reported. According to the protesters, Lukashenka's decrees on "protecting the consumer market" and on "regulating economic relations" are being used by the authorities for confiscating goods without quality certificates from private traders and subsequently selling them in state-run shops in an attempt to replenish the state budget. Lukashenka's regulations allow authorities to sell confiscated goods without the quality certificates that are required from vendors at city markets. "The situation of traders at city markets is on the verge of an explosion," the protesters said in a letter to the government. JM UKRAINIAN PARLIAMENT OVERRIDES KUCHMA'S VETO ON VETERANS' BENEFITS. The Supreme Council voted 11 times on 5 May to override President Leonid Kuchma's veto of a bill providing for a special pay to World War II veterans, AP reported. The parliament finally voted by 303 to 11 to approve annual payments to veterans ranging from 41 to 162 hryvni ($12-$41), in addition to the veterans' current pensions. Kuchma vetoed the bill in December, arguing that the budget does not include the 340 million hryvni needed to cover the additional payments. Communist parliamentary deputies also sought to override Kuchma's veto on increasing the monthly minimum pension from 16.6 hryvni to 55 hryvni. After failing to do this, the parliament re-approved its initial bill. In order to block the pension increase Kuchma will have to impose a new veto. JM GERMAN OFFICIAL SAYS NO MONEY TO UKRAINE BEFORE IT REPAYS DEBT. Bavarian Prime Minister Edmund Stoiber said in Kyiv on 5 May that Germany will not lend Ukraine any more money until it repays a German loan for the construction of a chemical plant, Interfax reported. Germany has extended a credit line for Ukrainian industry, including a loan of DM 22 million ($12 million) for the Oriana chemical plant in Kalush, Ivano- Frankivsk Oblast. Ukrainian Premier Valeriy Pustovoytenko assured Stoiber that Ukraine will repay the debt by resorting to "social welfare funds," the agency reported. JM UKRAINIAN PRESIDENT DENIES BEING 'ENEMY OF THE PRESS.' Kuchma's press secretary Oleksandr Martynenko said on 5 May that the Ukrainian president may file suit against the U.S. Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) for calling him an "enemy of the press" (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 4 May 1999), Interfax reported. In addition, Kuchma intends to send a letter to the CPJ refuting the "inaccurate information" on whose basis he was included on the CPJ's list of the 10 biggest oppressors of the press. According to Martynenko, the parliament, not the president, is responsible for tax policies in Ukraine, therefore Kuchma cannot be accused of using those policies as "instruments of his hostility toward journalists." JM INTERNATIONAL AGENCY REAFFIRMS LATVIA'S CREDIT RATING. Standard & Poor's has reaffirmed its credit rating for Latvia as BBB, which indicates a favorable environment for investment, LETA reported on 6 May, citing a press statement released by the rating agency. The same rating has been granted to Latvia's eurobond issue worth some $160 million (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 5 May 1999). The statement says that despite the impact of the Russian crisis and the resulting decrease in GDP growth, market reform and the development of the private sector are proceeding "successfully" in Latvia. At the same time, the agency notes that problems in the banking sector and the current-account trade deficit could have a negative impact on Latvia's credit rating. JC LITHUANIAN ACTING PREMIER SAYS SHE DOESN'T WANT THE JOB. "Lietuvos Rytas" on 5 May quoted acting Premier Irene Degutiene of the ruling Conservative Party as saying she is not qualified to hold the position permanently. "I took the prime minister's post temporarily.... I still lack the skills to take on such duties [permanently]," she told the newspaper. On appointing Degutiene as caretaker prime minister, Adamkus called her a "capable administrator." Meanwhile, Algirdas Saudargas, foreign minister and leader of the junior coalition Christian Democrats, told journalists that his party will agree to hold cabinet posts "in proportion to the number of seats it holds in the parliament." He rejected the suggestion of a Christian Democrat premier, saying that this would be a "qualitatively unproportional share of responsibility [that] the Christian Democrats do not intend to shoulder." JC LUSTRATION PROSECUTOR DROPS INVESTIGATION INTO POLISH PREMIER. Boguslaw Nizienski said on 5 May that he has found no evidence to support allegations that Prime Minister Jerzy Buzek collaborated with the communist-era secret services, Polish media reported. The allegations had been made by parliamentary deputy Tomasz Karwowski of the rightist Confederation for an Independent Poland-Homeland (KPN-O) (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 22 April 1999). Karwowski said he will appeal Nizenski's decision. "It seems we are dealing with attempted manipulation, an attempt at concealing the need for an honest lustration process in Poland," PAP quoted KPN-O leader Adam Slomka as saying. JM POLAND, NORWAY AGREE TO BUILD GAS PIPELINE. Premier Buzek and his Norwegian counterpart, Kjell Magne Bondevik, have signed a declaration of intent on building a gas pipeline from Norway to Poland, PAP reported on 5 May. The new pipeline will be built on the bed of the Baltic Sea and subsequently via either Sweden or the Danish Straits. It will carry some 3-4 billion cubic meters of gas annually and limit Poland's dependence on Russian gas supplies. Earlier the same day, both premiers signed a deal on Norwegian gas supplies via Germany from 2001-2006. Those supplies will total 500 million cubic meters annually. JM POLAND'S RADICAL FARMERS HOLD CONGRESS. Some 2,000 people attended a congress of the radical farmers' union Self- Defense in Warsaw on 5 May. Andrzej Lepper, the organizer of road blockades during the farmers' protests in February, was unanimously re-elected chairman of the union. Lepper said Self-Defense demands that the government introduce higher prices on domestic agricultural products, make timely payments for agricultural supplies, impose a moratorium on farmers' debts, and protect the domestic market against the "uncontrolled" import of agricultural products, "Gazeta Wyborcza" reported on 6 May. Lepper did not rule out that Self-Defense will turn into a political force competing in general and local elections. JM KLAUS SAYS GRAND COALITION UNLIKELY. Czech parliamentary speaker and Civic Democratic Party (ODS) leader Vaclav Klaus said that a grand coalition between the ODS and the ruling Social Democrats would be a solution only for an "extreme situation," CTK reported. Klaus made his comments in response to ODS deputy chairman Miroslav Macek's statement, published in the daily "Hospodarske noviny" on 5 May, that such a coalition would be the best solution to the current economic and political situation in the Czech Republic. Klaus said Macek always speaks in "an extreme and pointed way" and that he was expressing his personal opinion, not that of the ODS. Freedom Union leader Jan Ruml said he would prefer a coalition of right-center parties, adding that his party is willing to hold talks on the subject. PB CZECH DEFENSE MINISTER BACKS SLOVAKIA JOINING NATO. Vladimir Vetchy said at a military arms fair in Brno on 5 May that Slovakia's admission to NATO is in the interests of the Czech Republic, CTK reported. Vetchy said Prague has "above average relations" with its eastern neighbors. He said that the Czech and Slovak armies should cooperate more in the future, particularly in efforts to modernize military equipment. Slovak Defense Minister Pavol Kanis said that he hopes Slovakia will become a NATO member in "two or three years." PB CHIRAC BACKS SLOVAKIA'S NATO, EU BIDS. French President Jacques Chirac told Slovak Premier Mikulas Dzurinda in Paris on 5 May that he supports Bratislava's bid to join NATO and said he hopes Slovakia is admitted soon, CTK reported. Chirac told Dzurinda that France's support for Slovakia was as strong as its support for Slovenia and Romania. Dzurinda said that Slovakia's chances "of being included in the first group of candidates for EU membership" at the EU summit in Helsinki in December "are growing." In Bratislava, Slovak Deputy Prime Minister Pavol Hamzik said the country's economic performance is the most important factor in determining when it will join the EU. He said he believes 2004 "is realistic." PB SIS OFFICIAL ADMITS TO ROLE IN ABDUCTION OF PRESIDENT'S SON. Robert Beno, the former head of the surveillance department of the Slovak counterintelligence agency (SIS), confessed on 5 May to involvement in the abduction of then-President Michal Kovac's son to Austria, Slovak Television and TV Markiza reported. Chief detective Jaroslav Ivor said that Beno described the entire planning of the operation. So far, 10 people have been indicted in the affair and five are in custody, including former SIS head Ivan Lexa. In other news, nine Slovak Romany political parties signed an agreement establishing a coalition that is to take part in the next parliamentary elections. PB NATO FIGHTERS TO ARRIVE IN HUNGARY. The Hungarian government has complied with NATO's request that the alliance be allowed to deploy 24 F-18 Hornet fighters and 500-800 service crew at the Taszar military base in southwestern Hungary, Defense Minister Janos Szabo announced on 5 May. He said the fighters are capable of attacking targets in Yugoslavia, and will defend Hungarian air space and engage in surveillance flights. The planes will also provide protection to C-135 tankers due to arrive at the Budapest airport on 6 May. Szabo stressed again that no armed Hungarian units will take part in eventual peacekeeping operations. MSZ SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE MYSTERY SURROUNDS RUGOVA'S ARRIVAL IN ROME. Kosovar leader Ibrahim Rugova arrived in Rome on a previously unannounced Italian military flight on 5 May. He had been under house arrest in Prishtina since 31 March (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 29 April 1999). Yugoslav Foreign Ministry spokesman Nebojsa Vujovic told Serbian Television in Belgrade on 5 May that Rugova is a free man, but he added that the Kosovar leader will remain involved in negotiations about the Kosova crisis. Italian officials said Rugova and his family are guests of the government. Neither Rugova nor Italian officials have provided any further information. The offices of his Democratic League of Kosova in Stuttgart and the league's Kosova Information Center in London were unable to provide "RFE/RL Newsline" with any further information. Rugova will give a press conference later on 6 May. Observers suggested that his release may have been mediated by the Roman Catholic Sant Egidio Society, which specializes in non-violent conflict resolution and which helped hammer out an education agreement between Belgrade and the Kosovars before the current crisis began. FS CLINTON SAYS AIR CAMPAIGN TO 'INTENSIFY.' U.S. President Bill Clinton told U.S. pilots at Germany's Spangdahlem Air Base on 5 May that Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic's "so-called ethnic cleansing has included concentration camps, murder, rape, the destruction of priceless religious, cultural and historic sites, books and records. This is wrong. It is evil." He added that "we will continue to pursue this campaign [of air strikes] in which we are now engaged. We will intensify it in an unrelenting way until [NATO's] objectives are met." PM CLINTON: PEACE POSSIBLE WITH MILOSEVIC. Clinton told journalists in Frankfurt, Germany, on 6 May that the conflicts in Bosnia and Kosova were the result of a "carefully calculated campaign" to put and keep Milosevic in office. Clinton stressed that NATO's goal is to enable the Kosovars to go home in safety under the protection of an international armed force. He added that NATO wants the Kosovars to enjoy the autonomy "that Mr. [Josip Broz] Tito put in [in 1974] and Mr. Milosevic took away" in 1989. When asked whether this autonomy will be possible with Milosevic still in power, Clinton replied: "Yes... [The alternative would be] for the international community to declare war on Yugoslavia and march on Belgrade, [but] no one has suggested that." Clinton argued that the question of Milosevic's individual responsibility for the conflicts in Bosnia and Kosova--he did not mention those in Slovenia or Croatia--can be decided only by the Hague-based war crimes tribunal. PM CLINTON SEES 'INTEGRATED FUTURE' FOR BALKANS. The U.S. president told the press conference in Frankfurt on 6 May that there must be an "integrated vision" for the Balkans as a whole once the Kosova conflict is over and planning for the future of the entire region can begin. Clinton stressed that Serbia's role in the region will "depend on how the Serbs behave" toward their neighbors. He noted that Romania and other, unnamed countries with a smaller industrial base than Serbia's have made "great efforts" to promote democracy at home and good relations with their neighbors. Clinton cited Romania's efforts to improve its relations with Hungary as an example for other Balkan countries to follow vis-a-vis their respective neighbors. Clinton suggested that Serbia must make similar efforts if it wants the international community to accept it as a full-fledged partner. PM MACEDONIA CLOSES BORDER TO KOSOVARS. "Thousands of ethnic Albanian refugees were reported stranded across the border in Serbia on 6 May after Macedonia abruptly closed its frontiers" with Kosova the previous day, according to Reuters. Serbian police used clubs to force some refugees out of the "no-man's land" back into Serbia, splitting up some families in the process. On 6 May, a train containing another several thousand expellees arrived near the border. A spokesman for the UN High Commissioner for Refugees told AP that the Macedonian decision amounts to "blackmail with people's lives." The Macedonian authorities have repeatedly threatened to close the border unless the international community provides more aid and takes at least as many refugees out of Macedonia as arrive there on any given day. There are at least 200,000 Kosovars in Macedonia, which is equivalent to 10 percent of the country's population. PM MORE REFUGEES FROM MACEDONIA EXPECTED IN ALBANIA. Government officials told an RFE/RL correspondent in Tirana on 5 May that 6,000 refugees from Macedonia will soon arrive in a newly built camp in the Korca region. Albanian government officials have offered to take in a total of 50,000 refugees from Macedonia over the coming weeks and have called for more international assistance. Albania currently has an estimated total of 420,000 refugees. Austrian Chancellor Viktor Klima visited Albania on 5 May to inspect the relief operation by Austrian soldiers overseeing a camp in Shkodra. Meanwhile, in northern Albania, Serbian forces again shelled the village of Letaj. In Padesh, near Tropoja, skirmishes broke out between Serbian forces and the UCK. NATO and the UNHCR continued with evacuations from Kukes, but the number of refugees leaving the town was still lower than the international relief organizations had planned (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 5 May 1999). FS REFUGEES TELL MORE STORIES OF MASSACRES. Refugees told Reuters in Kukes on 5 May that they found the mutilated bodies of many of their relatives with their eyes gouged out or noses cut off after the latter had fled their homes in the village of Studime near Vushtrri. The refugees belonged to a group of about 7,500 who arrived in Albania the previous day (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 5 May 1999). Many refugees said they saw the bodies of about 50 civilian victims. Other refugees told of another massacre near the village of Ceceli, but it was not clear how many victims it had claimed. Eye-gouging is a centuries-old practice in the Balkans that has frequently emerged in the wars in the former Yugoslavia since 1991. FS DJINDJIC: TRY MILOSEVIC FOR WAR CRIMES. Serbian Democratic Party leader Zoran Djindjic told British journalists in Montenegro on 5 May that Milosevic should be tried before an international war crimes tribunal modeled after the Nuremberg court that judged Nazi leaders following World War II. Djindjic appealed to the EU to help bring an end to Milosevic's rule and help create a "European Serbia." He said that he fears for his own safety following the recent murder of independent journalist Slavko Curuvija in Belgrade. Djindjic added that he frequently moves between undisclosed locations in Serbia and Montenegro. He added: "You cannot belong to the democratic opposition in the Balkans without taking risks." Critics in Serbia and abroad have accused Djindjic over the years of being ineffective and opportunistic. PM PEROVIC: MILOSEVIC MEANS END OF YUGOSLAVIA. Montenegrin Foreign Minister Branko Perovic said in Podgorica on 5 May that the Yugoslav federation will break up if Milosevic remains in power much longer, RFE/RL's South Slavic Service reported. Perovic added that the Yugoslav army in Montenegro "tries to destabilize the government on a daily basis." He argued that popular support for the democratic government of President Milo Djukanovic has so far proven strong enough to enable Djukanovic to resist attempts by the army and local Milosevic supporters to destabilize the government. PM WESTENDORP TO STEP DOWN. The international community's Carlos Westendorp told Sarajevo's "Dnevni avaz" of 6 May that he will leave his post at some point this summer (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 30 April 1999). He added that he would become "part of the problem rather than part of the solution" if he remained in Bosnia longer. The former Spanish foreign minister noted that his Social Democratic party is counting on him to run for the European Parliament in the 13 June elections. PM CROATIAN BANK FAILURE TIED TO CORRUPTION. The recent bankruptcy of the Komercijalna Banka is the result of Director Josip Soic's giving or lending the bank's money to individuals, charities, and other institutions linked to President Franjo Tudjman, his family, and the governing Croatian Democratic Community, AP reported on 6 May. In just one case, nearly $250,000 went to a charity run by Ankica Tudjman, the president's wife. Unnamed persons provided the independent weeklies "Globus" and "Nacional" with copies of incriminating bank files. "Thousands" of depositors have been unable to withdraw their money since the bank declared bankruptcy, AP added. It is unclear whether the state will reimburse them for any of their losses. A Zagreb court has launched a criminal investigation against Soic's son, who was a bank executive. Director Soic is currently in a mental hospital, but it is unclear whether he is really ill. PM CROATIAN COURT INDICTS WHISTLE-BLOWERS. A Zagreb court on 6 May indicted Ankica Lepej and three former colleagues at Zagrebacka Banka for leaking confidential bank documents to the independent daily "Jutarnji list" in 1998. The court also indicted the journalist who wrote the resulting article about details of Ankica Tudjman's undisclosed bank accounts, which contained several hundred thousand dollars. PM AIRPORT CHIEF SACKED FOR "PAPAL TAX." Romanian Transport Minister Traian Basescu fired Dumitru Parscoveanu, the director of Bucharest's Baneasa airport, for implementing a tax on journalists covering the papal visit later this week, Reuters reported. Basescu said Parscoveanu has been ordered to return any taxes that were already collected. Parscoveanu said that print journalists would have to pay $30 and television reporters $200 for "access" to the airport during the visit of Pope John Paul II. He said the money would help defray the costs associated with the Pope's visit (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 5 May 1999). Parscoveanu argued after being fired that an airport council had approved the taxes. In other news, Bucharest city officials have banned the sale of alcohol in the parts of the city that the Pope will visit during his 7-9 May stay. PB ARMENIAN FOREIGN MINISTER IN BUCHAREST. Vartan Oskanian held talks with Romanian President Emil Constantinescu and other top officials during a two-day visit to Bucharest on 4-5 May, Rompres reported. Talks centered on boosting bilateral trade and Romania's involvement in the "Silk Road" project. Romanian Foreign Minister Andrei Plesu pledged Bucharest's support for Armenia's bid to join the Council of Europe. Oskanian visited an Armenian Orthodox church and also held talks with the leaders of the Armenian community in Bucharest before leaving. PB RUSSIAN HUMANITARIAN AID LANDS IN SOFIA. A Russian plane carrying humanitarian aid landed in Sofia on 5 May, one day later than planned, Reuters reported. The shipment was delayed as the plane awaited clearance from Bulgarian authorities. Russian Emergencies Minister Sergei Shoigu said in Moscow that Eastern and Central European countries should "not forget about older, proven friends." He said he hoped the shipment would not experience any further delays in Bulgaria. A truck convoy will take the aid to Kosova for distribution. PB END NOTE EU, EAST EUROPEAN CANDIDATES REVIEW PROGRESS By Breffni O'Rourke Last week, the EU held its annual Association Council meetings in Brussels with Slovakia, Romania, and Estonia. German State Secretary Guenter Verheugen, in his capacity as council president, met separately with the foreign ministers of those countries. Though grouped together for one day, the three countries are in quite different situations with regard to their membership prospects. Estonia belongs to the "fast-track" group of candidates, along with Poland, Hungary, the Czech Republic, and Slovenia, and has already opened membership negotiations with the EU Executive Commission. Romania, its reform effort stumbling, is widely seen as dropping even further behind the leading group. Slovakia is confident that the reforms and democratization pursued by the present government of Prime Minister Mikulas Dzurinda are now reversing years of stagnation that constituted a barrier between it and the EU. The head of the EU Integration Section at the Slovak Foreign Ministry, Jan Kuderjavy, told RFE/RL the association meeting revealed the extent to which relations between Slovakia and the EU have changed since the election of Dzurinda's pro-reform government. He noted that Verheugen showed "appreciation" of the changes that have occurred in Slovakia and welcomed measures undertaken by the new Slovak government, particularly in the political sphere. Kuderjavy said Slovakia expects that on the basis of the EU's next country-by-country progress report, to be issued in the fall, the EU Executive Commission will recommend to the EU Helsinki summit in December that membership negotiations be launched with Slovakia. Romanian Ambassador to the EU Constantin Ene told RFE/RL that Romania considers the association meeting to have been particularly successful. He said that in light of the conflict in Yugoslavia, Romania stressed the positive role the country plays in maintaining stability in the Balkans. And he noted that just one day before the meeting, the EU foreign ministers had issued a statement recognizing the regional role played by both Romania and Bulgaria. Commenting that the EU member countries seemed receptive to Romania's argument that the momentum toward accession should be maintained among the 10 East European candidate countries, Ene said his country hopes that the Helsinki summit will also decide to start negotiations with Romania. He said the EU side gave no immediate response to that suggestion but appeared to take good note of it. Ene acknowledged that his country is not ready for accession and does not expect it anytime soon. But he said that starting negotiations would be a positive political move, demonstrating to the country that it has not been "left outside," particularly considering conditions in the region. He said the same applies to neighboring Bulgaria. The ambassador also put in a plea for other fellow Balkan countries. "Give them a clear perspective that they belong to Europe, [don't] leave them somewhere in a corner of the continent. Certainly Romania and Bulgaria are in a better position because we are already associated [with the EU], but others may have the feeling that they are somehow isolated. Therefore one of the decisions to be implemented will be to raise the status of the EU's existing agreements with Macedonia and Albania and to conclude with them association agreements." Estonia, for its part, discussed with the EU panel its progress towards accession. The head of press relations at the Estonian Diplomatic Mission to the EU, Ann Haermaste, told RFE/RL that there was general satisfaction about the overall level of progress. But she said the Estonian side expressed concern at the problems Estonian ships are having at Finnish ports. Finnish trade unions are blocking the handling of Estonian vessels in protest at the much cheaper wages paid to Estonian crews. They want Estonian sailors to be paid more. The Finnish government has not intervened with this industrial action on the grounds that the labor unions are free of state control. But Haermaste says her country sees this as a matter of competition policy and believes that Finland is in breach of the EU's free competition rules. She said her side has asked the EU commission for an assessment on the situation, adding that the Association Council noted Estonia's concern about the need to preserve free competition in maritime transport in the Baltic Sea region and encouraged continued discussions in order to resolve the dispute. The author is an RFE/RL senior correspondent based in Prague. xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx Copyright (c) 1999 RFE/RL, Inc. 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