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RFE/RL NEWSLINE

RFE/RL NEWSLINE Vol 3, No. 89, Part II, 7 May 1999


________________________________________________________
RFE/RL NEWSLINE Vol 3, No. 89, Part II, 7 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

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Headlines, Part II

* KLAUS REJECTS EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT'S CRITICISM OF
TEMELIN

* RUGOVA LEAVES KEY QUESTIONS UNANSWERED

* NATO TO STRENGTHEN FORCES IN BALKANS
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EAST-CENTRAL EUROPE

LUKASHENKA SEES NO NEED FOR RUSSIAN MILITARY BASES IN
BELARUS. Belarusian President Alyaksandr on 6 May said
he sees no need to build Russian military bases in
Belarus since Belarus is a friendly country and its army
will also defend Russia if need be, ITAR-TASS and
Interfax reported. Lukashenka noted that "the latest
events in the world prove the need for modernizing [our]
national armed forces", adding that Russia's
contribution to this modernization would be desirable.
He complained that Russia does not pay for weapons
imported from Belarus but it remembers "when we build up
a debt for their natural gas and then there is a hue and
cry throughout the media," Interfax quoted him as
saying. JM

KUCHMA REAFFIRMS TIES WITH RUSSIA. "There is not and
will never be any severance with Russia, which is a
traditional partner of Ukraine," President Leonid Kuchma
said in Sevastopol on 6 May at a ceremony dedicated to
Victory Day and the 55th anniversary of Sevastopol's
liberation from the Nazis, UNIAN reported. Russian
Defense Minister Igor Sergeev delivered Russian
President Boris Yeltsin's message to the people of
Sevastopol, describing the city as a bonding link
between Ukraine and Russia. JM

CRIMEAN TATARS MARCH TO DEMAND MORE RIGHTS. Crimean
Tatars on 6 May began a march on the Crimean capital,
Sevastopol, to demand more rights for their ethnic
minority, AP reported. Some 170 people set out from
Kerch to Simferopol to cover the 190-kilometer route to
the capital. Tatars from six other towns are expected to
leave for Sevastopol on foot over the next several days
and to convene there on 18 May to mark the 55th
anniversary of the deportation of Crimean Tatars to
Central Asia. After the demonstration, the Tatars are
planning to set up a tent camp in front of Crimea's
government and parliament headquarters and begin
negotiations with the authorities. JM

UKRAINIAN LAWMAKERS ACCUSE CENTRAL BANK OF MISUSING
RESERVES. Viktor Suslov, head of a parliamentary
investigative commission, said on 6 May that his
commission has examined the National Bank's activities
since last October and found that currency reserves were
misused. According to the findings, Ukraine's Central
Bank has failed to return some $85 million from a
Cypriot bank account. The commission also alleges that
the bank illegally transferred part of its reserves to
Russia's National Reserves Bank. "If I were [National
Bank Chairman] Viktor Yushchenko, I would resign," AP
quoted Suslov as saying. Yushchenko has denied the
allegations. JM

MERI RECOMMENDS REORGANIZATION OF OSCE MISSION. Writing
in "Postimees" on 6 May, Estonian President Lennart Meri
argued that the OSCE mission in Estonia has achieved its
aims and should be reorganized into an education center
that would "continue to help Estonia overcome the burden
of its Soviet past." The president proposed that such a
center could help educate the young "in preventing
conflicts." At the same time, he stressed that this is
not an attack on the OSCE as an institution and that his
proposal is up for discussion. OSCE High Commissioner on
National Minorities Max van der Stoel is to meet with
Meri in Tallinn on 7 May to discuss the OSCE's concerns
over language law provisions requiring elected officials
to be proficient in Estonian, an RFE/RL correspondent in
Tallinn reported. JC

IMF AGAIN WARNS CUTS IN ESTONIAN BUDGET INSUFFICIENT.
One day after the Estonian government approved a
negative supplementary budget reducing the volume of the
budget by 1.03 billion kroons (some $70 million), the
IMF repeated its position that cuts of at least 2
billion kroons are needed (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 4 and
5 May 1999), ETA reported on 6 May. A representative of
the fund urged the government to take resolute measures
to curb public sector spending in Estonia, which, he
said, has increased too quickly. He noted that such
spending will account for 42 percent of GDP this year
even after the planned 1.3 billion kroons cut, according
to BNS. The parliament is expected to vote on the
supplementary budget next month. JC

WORLD BANK GRANTS LATVIA LOAN FOR EDUCATION PROJECTS.
The World Bank has approved a loan to Latvia for
education projects worth $31 million, the bulk of which
will help renovate school buildings, an RFE/RL
correspondent in Washington reported on 6 May. It will
be repayable over 15 years and carries a three-year
grace period. The bank noted that it has committed $300
million to Latvia since the country joined the
institution in 1992. JC

SLOVENIAN PRESIDENT IN VILNIUS. On the second day of his
official visit to Lithuania, Milan Kucan met with
parliamentary chairman Vytautas Landsbergis, with whom
he reportedly exchanged views on the role of post-Soviet
countries in contemporary Europe, ELTA reported on 6
May. The previous day, Kucan held talks with Lithuanian
President Valdas Adamkus. Emerging from that meeting,
Adamkus told journalists that he had been given
assurances that Slovenia will support Lithuania's bid to
join the EU and NATO. Slovenia is one of the "fast-
track" candidates for EU membership. JC

TWO POLISH OFFICERS ARRESTED OVER SUSPECTED ESPIONAGE.
Two Polish retired colonels have been arrested on
charges of spying for the USSR and Russia, Polish media
reported on 6 May. Commenting on a spy investigation
launched last week (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 5 May 1999),
Premier Jerzy Buzek said three officers are involved:
two retired ones and another who is still working but
holds no important post. "Rzeczpospolita" reported that
the detained officers worked in regional branches of
Poland's military intelligence service. The "Zycie"
daily, which first publicized the spy case, said that
after uncovering the spies, the Polish intelligence
service moved them to less important posts outside
Warsaw and kept them under observation to see how
Russian intelligence operates. However, when Poland
joined NATO on 12 March, the arrests were unavoidable.
"Zycie" added that the three spied for "ideological
reasons." JM

POLISH PARLIAMENT REJECTS BAN ON ADVERTISING FOR
CHILDREN. By a vote of 221 to 177 with seven
abstentions, the parliament on 7 May failed to override
the presidential veto on a bill banning radio and
television advertising targeted at children, Reuters
reported. The vote divided the ruling coalition, with
the Freedom Union (UW) teaming up with the opposition
Democratic Left Alliance to reject the ban. Deputies
from the Solidarity Electoral Action, the UW's coalition
partner, had propose the prohibition. JM

FIRST LUSTRATION STATEMENT CONTESTED IN POLAND.
Prosecutor Boguslaw Nizienski has sent to the Lustration
Court the first application to question an official
suspected of having made a false statement on
collaboration with the Communist-era secret services,
Polish Radio reported on 6 May. The identity of the
official has not been disclosed. Under Poland's
lustration law, anyone found guilty of lying in his/her
lustration statement will be barred from holding public
office for 10 years. JM

KLAUS REJECTS EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT'S CRITICISM OF
TEMELIN. Czech parliamentary speaker Vaclav Klaus said
on 6 May that the European Parliament's criticism of the
unfinished Temelin nuclear power plant is unacceptable,
CTK reported. Klaus said Temelin is "certainly much more
modern than the overwhelming majority of nuclear power
plants now used in [Western] Europe." He said it is an
"incredible, unprecedented thing" for the parliament to
"meddle" in the affair. The parliament approved a
resolution earlier the same day that called for
alternatives to completing the plant, which is a hybrid
of Soviet and Western designs. Josef Kreuter, the Czech
EU ambassador, said the resolution was based on "a
number of half-truths and downright untruths." He added
that he had never heard "such a load of lies and
deliberate misinterpretations." PB

CZECHS LOSING CONFIDENCE IN GOVERNMENT'S ECONOMIC
POLICIES. A poll released on 6 May showed that 59
percent of respondents no longer believe that the ruling
Social Democrats can solve the country's economic
problems, CTK reported. Only 14 percent said they still
have faith in the government's economic policies while
the rest were undecided. Some 55 percent of those polled
said their standard of living is worse today than it was
one year ago. The poll was taken by the STEM polling
agency. PB

SLOVAK PREMIER WANTS EU MEMBERSHIP BY 2006 AT LATEST.
Mikulas Dzurinda said that he expects Slovakia to enter
the EU between 2003 and 2006, CTK reported on 6 May. In
an interview with the French economic daily "La
Tribune," Dzurinda also said he believes Slovakia will
be admitted to the Organization for Economic Cooperation
and Development late this year or early in 2000. He said
Slovakia is making the effort "to get to the level of
its neighbors soon." In other news, the first group of
ethnic Albanian refugees from Kosova arrived in
Bratislava on 5 May. About 90 people, mostly women and
children, will be moved to a humanitarian center in
Gabcikovo, about 50 kilometers from the capital. PB

SLOVAKIA, CZECH REPUBLIC WANT TO MAINTAIN CUSTOMS UNION.
Czech Deputy Foreign Minister Pavel Telicka said in
Bratislava on 6 May that he expects "long and intensive"
talks with the EU on the fate of the Czech-Slovak
customs union, CTK reported. Telicka, the Czech
Republic's chief negotiator with the EU, said Prague
wants to maintain the customs union with Bratislava
while "fully integrating into the EU's internal market,
even if the two countries enter the EU at different
times." Telicka held talks in Bratislava with his Slovak
counterpart, Jan Figel. The two discussed the upcoming
Visegrad summit, scheduled for 14 May, and agreed that
the grouping should evolve into a group similar to the
Benelux. PB

COUNCIL OF EUROPE'S ANNIVERSARY MARKED IN BUDAPEST.
Ceremonies marking the 50th anniversary of the Council
of Europe began in Budapest on 6 May, with
representatives from 41 countries taking part, AP
reported. Hungarian Premier Viktor Orban gave the
opening address to delegates at the parliament building.
Lord Russell-Johnston, president of the Parliamentary
Assembly, said "the tragedy of Kosova should serve as a
painful reminder of what happens when values are
forgotten and nationalist hatred allowed to dominate."
The council was the idea of British Premier Winston
Churchill, who envisaged that the "free nations of
Europe could assert their shared values of human rights,
democracy, and the rule of law." Kosova is expected to
be the main topic during the two-day meeting. PB

SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE

RUGOVA LEAVES KEY QUESTIONS UNANSWERED. Kosovar leader
Ibrahim Rugova spoke to the press in Rome for three
minutes on 6 May (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 6 May 1999).
Standing next to Prime Minister Massimo D'Alema and
Foreign Minister Lamberto Dini, Rugova said that
international peace-keeping forces, including NATO and
others, must be deployed in Kosova. Moreover, he
demanded the immediate withdrawal of Serbian forces from
Kosova. Rugova avoided saying whether he supports the
NATO bombing campaign or whether meetings he had with
Serb leaders during his five weeks of house arrest were
held under duress, AP noted. ANSA quoted him as saying:
"I am for peace and non-violent resistance.... The
entire Kosova population, including the Kosova
Liberation Army (UCK), is in favor of a peaceful,
political solution." He also thanked Italy for "all its
efforts and solidarity with the refugees," and he
extended special thanks to Don Vincenzo Paglia of the
Roman Catholic Sant'Egidio organization, which helped
mediate Rugova's release. FS

UCK LEADERS WANT CLARIFICATION. UCK official Visa Reka
told RFE/RL from Tirana on 6 May that the guerrillas'
"provisional government of Kosova demands that [Rugova]
openly declare...his position on the NATO air strikes on
Yugoslav targets [and his position towards] the
provisional government of Kosova." Reka also said that
"we expect a full explanation from Rugova about what
happened to him during the time when he was a hostage in
Belgrade." The UCK's provisional government of Hashim
Thaci and the shadow-state government of Rugova's
Democratic League of Kosova do not recognize each other
(see "RFE/RL Newsline," 4 May 1999). Adnan Merovci, a
close colleague of Rugova's, told RFE/RL that Rugova
"still holds the same position that he always had." He
added that "you as journalists know that Rugova is not a
person who participates much in polemics...or
speculations." FS

ALBANIAN GOVERNMENT SUSPECTS MILOSEVIC PROPAGANDA MOVE.
Pellumb Xhufi, who is an assistant to Foreign Minister
Paskal Milo, told RFE/RL from Tirana on 6 May that "the
liberation of Rugova is, no doubt, something that we
welcome." He added, however, that "on the very day that
Rugova was released, the criminal regime of [Yugoslav
President Slobodan] Milosevic continued its [ethnic
cleansing] campaign in Kosova. [The release] was a
calculated gesture, like all other gestures and actions
of Milosevic, with which he tries to divide the
international community." He added that Milosevic hopes
"to create an environment" in which the international
community will agree to "half-measures." Information
Minister Musa Ulqini told an RFE/RL correspondent in
Tirana that he "will be happy to hear Rugova's opinions
from his own mouth." FS

NATO TO STRENGTHEN FORCES IN BALKANS... The U.S. will
soon send an additional 176 aircraft to join in NATO's
efforts in southeastern Europe, bringing the total
number of U.S. aircraft in the region to more than 800,
AP reported on 6 May. In Bonn the next day, the
Bundestag voted to send 1,000 German soldiers to assist
in constructing refugee camps and other humanitarian
work in Albania and Macedonia. In February, it voted to
send 6,000 soldiers to Italy and Macedonia as part of
NATO's efforts in the region. During the night of 6-7
May, allied aircraft pounded targets in Nis, which is
Serbia's third-largest city. Serbian media reported that
there were casualties and that fire-fighters worked
several hours to put out blazes at oil storage
facilities. NATO aircraft also hit a bridge on the
Belgrade-Bucharest railway line. PM

...CLAIMS GAINS AGAINST YUGOSLAV MILITARY. Spokesmen for
the Atlantic alliance said in Brussels on 6 May that
NATO air strikes in recent weeks have left Serbian
forces in Kosova cut off from the rest of Serbia and
without one-fifth of their tanks and heavy weapons. They
added that Serbian forces are increasingly demoralized
and have hidden much of their remaining equipment lest
it be attacked. The "Financial Times" the next day
quoted several British military experts as saying that
NATO has not yet been able to turn the tide on the
ground and halt ethnic cleansing. One expert stressed
that NATO will need to consider sending in ground troops
and arming the UCK if it wants to achieve its aims in
the province. He added that the Serbs are hiding troops
and equipment because this is in keeping with the
Yugoslav army's tradition, dating back more than 50
years, of using guerrilla tactics to resist a stronger
enemy. PM

MACEDONIAN BORDER 'OPEN' BUT NO ONE IS CROSSING. Kris
Janowski, who is a spokesman for the UN High
Commissioner for Refugees, said in Geneva on 7 May that
the Macedonian authorities have assured the UNHCR that
the border to Kosova is open (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 6
May 1999). He added, however, that UNHCR personnel on
the border report that no refugees from Kosova are
waiting at the frontier to cross into Macedonia.
Janowski said that "it is not clear why they're not
crossing. We don't know whether the problem is on the
Serbian side or the Macedonian side." "The Chicago
Tribune" quoted unnamed UNHCR officials at Blace,
Macedonia, as saying that the Serbian authorities in
recent days have provided additional train and bus
transportation in a major effort aimed at expelling
ethnic Albanians from Kosova. The officials added that
"as many as half a million" may be expelled "in the next
several days." PM

MACEDONIA REMAINS TENSE. Macedonian authorities told
UNHCR officials on 6 May that the international
community must take out of Macedonia each day as many
ethnic Albanian refugees as arrive in the country during
that period. Zarko Jordanoski, who is the editor of the
independent daily "Dnevnik," told "The Chicago Tribune"
on 7 May that the "invasion [of Kosovar Albanians] is
equivalent to the United States being flooded by 20
million Mexicans." The BBC reported that Macedonian
soldiers and police have recently used "threats and
intimidation" in ethnic Albanian villages to discourage
locals from taking Kosovar refugees into their homes.
Nearly half of the refugees live in private homes. Arben
Xhaferi, who chairs the ethnic Albanian party that is
part of the governing coalition, said that the
government nearly collapsed on at least one occasion
over the issue of Macedonia's taking in refugees from
Kosova. He did not elaborate. PM

VATICAN: FIRST MAJOR ATROCITY AGAINST ROMAN CATHOLICS.
Vatican Radio reported from Tirana on 7 May that Serbian
forces recently killed some 200 Kosovar civilians at an
unnamed village. The broadcast noted that Serbian forces
have not previously conducted mass killings in Roman
Catholic ethnic Albanian communities. There has been no
independent confirmation of the report. PM

MILOSEVIC HITS AT DOMESTIC OPPOSITION. Serbian state-run
television (RTS) on 6 May accused opposition politicians
Zoran Djindjic and former General Vuk Obradovic of
betraying their country by supporting the NATO bombing
campaign in order to further their own respective
political careers (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 6 May 1999).
The broadcast also accused Obradovic of espionage, AP
reported. The hard-line United Yugoslav Left, which is
headed by Mira Markovic, who is also Milosevic's wife,
said in a statement about the two men: "The public
should be informed about anything they do against their
country, and then let the people try them." The
statement was read on RTS news. PM

OBRADOVIC: SERBIA NEEDS PEACE. Former General Obradovic
told the private Beta news agency on 6 May that
Milosevic is conducting a "pogrom" against those who
disagree with him. Obradovic told the "Sueddeutsche
Zeitung" that the Serbian government must "save" the
country by agreeing to admit an international peace-
keeping force to Kosova. The force's mandate would have
a fixed expiration date and be limited to that province.
He stressed that Serbia has nothing to fear from a peace
agreement that clearly respects the country's
territorial integrity. He suggested that Serbia should
not have to withdraw all its forces from Kosova and that
it should be allowed to keep at least border troops
there. The former general added that Milosevic will have
no choice but to leave office soon "because of what he
has done and because of what the country has lived
through under his rule." PM

MONTENEGRO PREPARES FOR SHOWDOWN. President Milo
Djukanovic said in Podgorica on 7 May that Milosevic was
unwise to provoke NATO air strikes. Djukanovic stressed
that Montenegro cannot remain in the Yugoslav federation
as long as Belgrade continues its present policies at
home and abroad. Djukanovic added that Milosevic "will
continue to undermine democracy" as long as he is in
power. From Cetinje, "The Daily Telegraph" reported that
well-organized, armed "vigilantes" opposed to union with
Serbia have recently prevented the Yugoslav army from
inducting local males into the armed forces. Bozidar
Bogdanovic of the Free Montenegro organization told the
London-based daily that his organization has 15,000
members, including 200 who are "training in the
mountains" under the supervision of former Yugoslav army
officers. PM

HAGUE COURT MAKES LANDMARK RULING. On 6 May, the Hague-
based war crimes tribunal sentenced Zlatko Aleksovski to
two-and-a-half years in prison for violating "laws and
customs of war" against Muslim prisoners when he was
commander of a Bosnian Croat prison camp in 1993. He has
already spent two years and 10 months in prison, both
before and during his trial, and is now a free man. The
court also ruled that the Muslim-Croat conflict was an
internal one and not subject to the Geneva Convention
that governs international conflicts. The ruling
effectively means that the Croatian authorities in
Zagreb cannot be indicted or tried in The Hague for
their alleged role in the 1993 Croat-Muslim war in
Bosnia-Herzegovina. PM

POPE JOHN PAUL ARRIVES IN BUCHAREST. Romanian Orthodox
Patriarch Teoctist and President Emil Constantinescu
greeted Pope John Paul II on 7 May as he arrived in
Bucharest for the first papal visit to a predominantly
Orthodox country since the Churches split in 1054, an
RFE/RL correspondent in Bucharest reported. Pope John
Paul said he trusts his visit will "continue healing
wounds" which occurred in relations between the Catholic
and Orthodox Churches during the past 50 years. This was
a reference to the estimated 2,000 Greek Catholic
churches that were taken and given to the Orthodox
Church. The Greek Catholics have been trying
unsuccessfully to have the churches returned to them.
Greek Catholics recognize the Pope's authority but use
an eastern rite liturgy. Hundreds of thousands of people
are expected to see the pope during his three-day visit.
PB

ROMANIA BANS SALE OF OIL TO YUGOSLAVIA. The Romanian
government approved a law on 6 May that will ban the
sale or supplying of crude oil or gasoline to
Yugoslavia, Reuters reported. A government spokeswoman
said the restriction applies to planes and ships as well
as to Romanians living outside the country. This
effectively outlaws the practice of motorists driving to
Yugoslavia and selling the gas in their car for a
profit, something that thousands of Romanians have been
doing for the past several weeks. PB

NATO TO SET UP AIR DEFENSES IN ROMANIA. Romanian Defense
Minister Victor Babiuc said on 7 May that NATO will set
up anti-aircraft defense systems in Romania to protect
NATO planes using the country's air space in its bombing
campaign against Yugoslavia, AFP reported. The Romanian
parliament voted two weeks ago to allow NATO full access
to its air space and airports. PB

BULGARIAN OFFICIALS ACCUSE RUSSIAN AGENCY OF FALSE
REPORTS. Colonel-General Mikho Mikhov, the chief of the
staff of the Bulgarian Army, denied an allegation made
by ITAR-TASS that NATO aircraft used Bulgarian air space
to launch attacks against Yugoslavia, BTA reported on 6
May. Two ITAR-TASS correspondents reported the previous
day that NATO planes used Bulgarian air space to conduct
bombing raids in southern Serbia. Lieutenant-General
Stefan Popov, chief of air force headquarters, said on
national radio that "the allegations are untrue." Two
days earlier, the Bulgarian parliament approved an
agreement with NATO allowing it limited use of Bulgarian
air space (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 5 May 1999). PB

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