In the effort to give good and comforting answers to the young questioners whom we love, we very often arrive at good and comforting answers for ourselves. - Ruth Goode
RFE/RL NEWSLINE

RFE/RL NEWSLINE Vol 3, No. 100, Part II, 24 May 1999


________________________________________________________
RFE/RL NEWSLINE Vol 3, No. 100, Part II, 24 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

* FIRST U.S. F-18 FIGHTERS ARRIVE IN HUNGARY

* MACEDONIA BACKS DOWN IN REFUGEE STANDOFF

* ANTI-WAR PROTESTS CONTINUE IN SERBIA

End Note: CRISIS DEMONSTRATES ESTONIAN MILITARY'S
WEAKNESS
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EAST-CENTRAL EUROPE

LUKASHENKA WANTS TO WORK WITH CURRENT CABINET UNTIL
2001. Belarusian President Alyaksandr Lukashenka has
said he will not change his cabinet until the
presidential elections in 2001, Belarusian Television
reported on 21 May. Rumors about a possible dismissal of
the government have been rife following Lukashenka's
frequent criticism of the cabinet's performance, in
particular its inability to keep down inflation, which
neared 60 percent in the first four months of this year.
JM

BOMB EXPLODES IN COMMUNIST PARTY OFFICE IN CRIMEA. An
explosive device containing some 400 grams of TNT went
off in the Simferopol office of Leonid Hrach, leader of
the Crimean branch of the Communist Party of Ukraine, on
23 May. There were no casualties. Hrach, who is also
Crimean parliamentary speaker, said on local television
that the explosion was "an act of political vandalism"
by an unnamed "third force" trying to provoke clashes
between leftists and Crimean Tatars. Hrach appealed to
Tatars who have been picketing the government building
in Simferopol since 18 May "not to give grounds [by
carrying out that action] to those wishing to undermine
the situation in Crimea." Tatar Mejlis Deputy Chairman
Remzi Ablayev said Crimean Tatars have nothing to do
with the blast, ITAR-TASS reported. JM

KUCHMA SAYS UKRAINE'S PRESIDENTIAL POLLS WILL BRING NO
SURPRISE. Ukrainian President Leonid Kuchma, who is
seeking re-election in the 31 October polls, appears
confident of his victory, assuring foreign investors on
21 May that the situation will remain "predictable"
after the elections, Reuters reported. "Ukraine's policy
will remain balanced, consecutive, and there will be no
throwback," he said. The same day, "Holos Ukrayiny"
published Kuchma's 1998 income declaration (the law on
presidential elections stipulates that all candidates
must submit such information). According to the
declaration, Kuchma earned a total of 19,218 hryvni
($4,888 at the current exchange rate) last year. In
other news, Finance Minister Ihor Mityukov said
Ukraine's foreign debt grew by nearly $1 billion during
the last four months to total $12.4 billion. JM

ESTONIA SIGNS WTO ACCESSION PAPERS. Foreign Minister
Toomas Hendrik Ilves on 21 May signed the documents on
Estonia's accession to the WTO. The parliament must pass
16 legislative acts by 31 October. Estonia's membership
in the WTO will become official 30 days after it informs
the organization of ratification of all relevant
regulations, according to the Foreign Ministry and local
dailies. The opposition Rural People's Party opposes
ratification owing to provisions on farming agreed upon
during negotiations, according to "Aripaev." Latvia
became a member of the WTO last year. MH

LATVIA'S NEW PARTY NOMINATES PAULS FOR PRESIDENT. The
New Party on 22 May nominated party leader and popular
composer Raimonds Pauls as its candidate for president.
While the party had named Pauls as its presidential
nominee before last fall's parliamentary election, Pauls
had hinted he was reluctant to run in the presidential
ballot. The election is scheduled to take place next
month. Incumbent President Guntis Ulmanis is barred from
running for a third term. MH

WILLIAMS APPROVES LITHUANIAN OIL DEAL. The board of
directors of the U.S. company Williams International on
20 May gave final approval to the deal to invest in
Mazeikiai Oil. A statement issued by the company's
Lithuanian subsidiary reads: "The Williams board of
directors voiced clear approval of the transaction under
the terms and conditions agreed upon with the Lithuanian
government in April." Under that agreement, Williams
will take a 33 percent share in Mazeikiai Oil, which
includes the Mazeikiai Oil Refinery, the Butinge Oil
Platform, and connecting pipelines. The parliament is
deliberating increasing Williams International's
holdings by another 33 percent after an initial seven-
year period, ELTA reported. MH

POLISH PEASANT LEADER CALLS FOR UNITY AMONG RURAL
POPULATION. Jaroslaw Kalinowski, chairman of the Polish
Peasant Party (PSL), has called on rural residents to
unite. According to Kalinowski, the government ignores
peasants' interests and is ready to make any concessions
in order to join the EU, regardless of the damage
inflicted on the economy. Kalinowski said the PSL will
soon present its candidate for the 2000 presidential
elections. According to a May poll, the PSL has 11
percent support and is the fourth most popular party in
the country. The opposition Democratic Left Alliance has
35 percent backing, the coalition Solidarity Electoral
Action 21 percent, and the Freedom Union 13 percent. JM

POLISH POLICE DISPERSE PROTESTING MINERS. Police on 24
May used clubs to disperse some 400 miners who had been
blocking access to the Finance Ministry to demand
increased government subsidies to the coal sector, AP
reported. Miners want higher government spending on
severance payments and on retraining programs foreseen
by the current restructuring plan. The government has
already paid 1.7 billion zlotys ($435 million) to some
35,000 miners who lost their jobs or received
retraining, but another 18,000 must wait until funds
from next year's budget are available. Finance Minister
Leszek Balcerowicz on 23 May said that the restructuring
plan has fallen victim to manipulation by union leaders
and mine managers who allowed excessive payments for
individual miners in the hope of obtaining more money
from the government. JM

CZECH REPUBLIC, GREECE SIGN KOSOVA PEACE INITIATIVE.
Czech Foreign Minister Jan Kavan and his Greek
counterpart, George Papandreou, have signed a peace
initiative on resolving the Kosova conflict, Czech media
reported on 24 May. The initiative, which was signed in
Beijing, calls for a 48-hour halt to the NATO bombing
campaign in Yugoslavia as well as the withdrawal of
most, but not all, Yugoslav forces from Kosova. Chinese
Deputy Premier Qian Qichen expressed "understanding" for
the initiative, CTK reported on 22 May. Meanwhile, Czech
Chamber of Deputies Chairman Vaclav Klaus told a Greek
newspaper that the NATO campaign has failed and that
NATO is now simply trying to "save face," "Mlada fronta
Dnes" reported on 22 May. In other news, Czech President
Vaclav Havel's doctors said his bronchitis is slowly
receding but that he will remain in hospital for the
time being. VG

MECIAR'S PARTY SAYS SLOVAK TV BROKE THE LAW... The
Movement for a Democratic Slovakia (HZDS) has accused
Slovak Television (STV) of breaking the electoral law by
failing to arrange a debate between the HZDS's candidate
for the presidency, former Prime Minister Vladimir
Meciar, and Kosice Mayor Rudolf Schuster, Slovak media
reported on 22 May. Originally, the station and
representatives of the two politicians had agreed to
hold two round-table discussions involving both
candidates and two STV moderators. After Schuster
refused to confront Meciar in a televised debate, STV
decided to have each candidate appear separately in a
round-table discussion with journalists. The HZDS claims
the decision to change the format of the round-table
discussions constitutes "manipulation" aimed at
benefiting Schuster. VG

...FILES LAW SUIT AGAINST POLICE INVESTIGATOR. The HZDS
has filed a libel suit against the head of the Interior
Ministry's investigation department, General Jaroslav
Ivor, in connection with his statements implicating
Meciar in the 1995 kidnapping of former President Michal
Kovac's son, CTK reported on 22 May. In an interview
with "Mlada fronta Dnes" published on 22 May, Meciar
said Slovakia has turned into a police state under the
current coalition government. VG

FIRST U.S. F-18 FIGHTERS ARRIVE IN HUNGARY. Twenty-four
U.S. Marine F-18 air fighters arrived in Hungary on 22
May to take part in the NATO bombing campaign in
Yugoslavia The aircraft will be based at the Tarasz
military airport, which is also a staging base for 500
U.S. troops of the UN's SFOR in Bosnia-Herzegovina.
Meanwhile, the non-parliamentary Workers' Party has
asked the Hungarian Constitutional Court to determine
whether Budapest's decision to allow NATO to use its
airspace and airfields is unconstitutional, according to
a 22 May MTI report cited by the BBC. VG

HUNGARIAN OFFICIALS DEFEND U.S. AMBASSADOR. Hungarian
Foreign Minister Janos Martonyi said U.S. Ambassador to
Hungary Peter Tufo has provided "invaluable assistance"
to his government, MTI reported on 21 May. Agriculture
Minister Jozsef Torgyan noted that Tufo has done a lot
to promote Hungary's economic prosperity. The comments
came after Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban
accepted the resignations of two deputy ministers who
had lobbied for the appointment of a new U.S. ambassador
to Hungary (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 21 May 1999).
Torgyan, who leads the Independent Smallholders Party,
the junior coalition partner, added that it is
"inadmissible" that Tufo was "exposed to attacks in
Hungary." VG

SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE

MACEDONIA BACKS DOWN IN REFUGEE STANDOFF.
Representatives of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees
persuaded Macedonian authorities at Blace on 24 May to
admit 3,000 ethnic Albanians from Kosova who had spent
the night in the rain at the border. The UNHCR
representatives also convinced the Macedonian
authorities to drop plans to send to Albania at night-
time at least three busses filled with Kosovars, AP
reported. One UNHCR aid worker said that this was the
third time recently that he went to the border "in the
middle of the night" to convince Macedonian officials
not to deport Kosovars. He did not elaborate. He
stressed that any deportation would constitute a
violation of existing agreements between the UNHCR and
Macedonia. At least 15,000 refugees arrived at the Blace
border crossing during the weekend of 22-23 May.
Observers noted that this was the largest single wave of
new arrivals in several weeks. On 24 May, Reuters
reported that the UNHCR expects another 7,000 refugees
to arrive in the course of the day. PM

FREED KOSOVAR REFUGEES ARRIVE IN ALBANIA 'EMACIATED'...
Two groups of male Kosovar refugees whom Serbian
authorities recently freed from Smrekonica prison
arrived in Albania over the weekend. According to UNHCR
officials, 523 men arrived in Morina on 22 May and 506
the following day. Aid workers described the men as
being the most haggard and emaciated they had seen,
adding that many of them were traumatized. Some of the
men appeared to be teenagers, Reuters added. The BBC
reported on 24 May that many of the men believed they
were going to be killed until they saw the Albanian flag
over the border crossing. None was wearing Kosova
Liberation Army (UCK) uniform. A UNHCR official said in
Tirana on 23 May that Serbian forces abducted most of
the men in mid-April when the latter were fleeing
Mitrovica with their families. It is unclear why the
Serbs freed the men. FS

...REPORTING ATROCITIES. The men reported that Serbian
forces had systematically beaten the prisoners' hands,
lower abdomen, and knees. They said that each day they
spent in captivity, between five and 20 fainted or were
seriously injured as a result of the beatings. On the
basis of the numbers on their registration cards, the
men estimated that the prison held between 2,000 and
3,000 inmates. Some said they were forced to fight with
one another using broomsticks, Reuters reported. One man
said that the Serbian forces "treated us like animals.
They beat us. They cut off some men's ears." He added
that the prisoners received no food during the first
four days and were given one piece of bread a day
thereafter. Some 450 were forced to live in a room
measuring some 144 square meters, in which they had
space to sit but not to lie down. FS

REFUGEES REFUSE TO MOVE FROM KUKES. NATO officials on 21
May again urged the evacuation of the border town of
Kukes, saying they "do not want a humanitarian disaster
where the Serbs shell one of the refugee camps." The
following day, refugees in an Italian-run camp organized
their first press conference, stressing they do not want
to move from Kukes, Reuters reported. Spokesman Rrahim
Imeri told journalists that the dangers for refugees in
northern Albania are not higher than they are for the
locals. He added that most refugees are traumatized by
their ordeal and that they want to stay close to Kosova.
Italian camp head Dominico Riccio told Reuters that the
conditions in the camp are good. Meanwhile, more than
4,000 refugees from Kosova arrived in Kukes over the
weekend. Only 63 had arrived the previous week, a UNHCR
spokesman told dpa in Tirana. FS

THACI INVITES RUGOVA TO TIRANA. Provisional Kosovar
Prime Minister Hashim Thaci sent a letter to Kosovar
leader Ibrahim Rugova on 21 May inviting him to Tirana
and asking him to recognize the provisional government.
Prime Minister Pandeli Majko suggested setting up a
National Security Council composed of all Kosovar
leaders who participated in the Rambouillet talks,
including Thaci, Rugova, and nationalist writer Rexhep
Qosja. U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright sent a
letter to Majko on 22 May saying: "I want to welcome and
encourage your efforts to bring the [Kosovar] political
leadership together, and in particular your concept of a
'National Security Council'," Reuters reported. The
following day, Thaci, Majko, and Qosja visited a refugee
camp in Mullet near Tirana. FS

ANTI-WAR PROTESTS CONTINUE IN SERBIA. Police on 23 May
prevented a demonstration in Cacak, where a self-
proclaimed Citizens' Parliament recently issued a
declaration against Belgrade's policies in Kosova (see
"RFE/RL Newsline," 21 May 1999). At least 5,000 people--
primarily Yugoslav army conscripts and their families--
demonstrated in Krusevac on 23 May to demand that the
army demobilize draftees and send them home from Kosova,
RFE/RL's South Slavic Service reported. Reservists and
civilians staged smaller protests in Aleksandrovac,
Raska, and Baljevac over the weekend, Montenegrin
Television noted. General Nebojsa Pavkovic, who commands
the Yugoslav Third Army, spoke to reservists' families
in Raska on 22 May. Two days later, "The Independent"
wrote that the Yugoslav army has not yet formulated a
clear policy on desertions by reservists. PM

DJUKANOVIC SAYS ARMY CARRYING OUT 'SILENT PUTSCH.'
Montenegrin President Milo Djukanovic said in Podgorica
on 23 May that "it is evident that in the past 15 days
the Yugoslav army [stationed in Montenegro]...has placed
itself in the service of the Belgrade dictatorship" of
Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic (see "RFE/RL
Newsline," 17 May 1999). Djukanovic did not elaborate.
He stressed that there will be no peace in the Balkans
as long as Milosevic remains in power. And he argued
that, in the past, the West should have concentrated on
promoting democracy in Serbia rather than on negotiating
with Milosevic. In Cetinje on 21 May, some 5,000 people
staged Montenegro's first rally against the Yugoslav
army since the Kosova conflict began. The next day,
Prime Minister Filip Vujanovic demanded that the army
withdraw from Cetinje, which is the traditional
political stronghold of Montenegrins favoring
independence from Serbia. PM

CLINTON ARGUES 'MILOSEVIC HAS FAILED.' President Bill
Clinton wrote in the "New York Times" of 23 May that
"the problem [in the Balkans] is not simply ethnic
hatred or even ethnic conflict.... The intolerable
conditions that the region finds itself in today are the
result of a decade-long campaign by Slobodan Milosevic
to build a greater Serbia by singling out whole peoples
for destruction because of their ethnicity and faith....
We cannot respond to such tragedies everywhere, but when
ethnic conflict turns into ethnic cleansing where we can
make a difference, we must try." Clinton stressed that
"Milosevic has failed...[in his] strategy to outlast
[NATO] by dividing the alliance.... Instead of disunity
in Brussels, there are growing signs of disaffection in
Belgrade: Serbian soldiers abandoning their posts,
Serbian civilians protesting [Milosevic's] policies."
Clinton added that he will continue pursuing NATO's
present strategy but does "not rule out other military
options." PM

THACI URGES NATO TO CONTINUE BOMBING. Thaci said in
Tirana on 23 May that NATO's attack on the UCK base at
Kosare the previous day was the result of a "technical
error." He stressed that the Atlantic alliance "must
continue, even intensify, the air strikes." Another UCK
spokesman told "The Guardian" of 24 May in Kukes that
"Kosare was the result of friendly fire. We have to
accept losses in war.... We cannot and must not lose
faith in our friends." On 22 May, a NATO air strike on a
military complex at Istok killed 19 at a prison there,
including some UCK fighters. A NATO spokesman in
Brussels said that the prison was part of a "legitimate
military target" and suggested that Serbian forces had
placed the Kosovars there as human shields. PM

TUDJMAN FOR PARTITION OF KOSOVA? Croatian President
Franjo Tudjman told the G-8 ambassadors to Croatia in
Zagreb on 22 May that Serbian forces should withdraw to
the northern part of Kosova, where foreign troops,
including units from Russia, should also be stationed.
Tudjman added that NATO troops should go to southern
Kosova to help refugees return to their homes there. On
24 May, the independent daily "Novi List" charged that
Tudjman's proposal amounts to "a Yalta agreement"--or
partition--for Kosova. The remarks to the ambassadors
constituted Tudjman's first public statement on the
current conflict, RFE/RL's South Slavic Service
reported. Observers note that Tudjman has long favored a
partition of Bosnia between Serbia and Croatia. PM

ROMANIAN WORKERS STAGE GENERAL STRIKE. Thousands of
Romanian workers on 24 May stopped work in a 24-hour
general strike called by the country's four largest
trade unions. Taking part in the action were employees
from numerous key sectors of the economy, including
industry, health, transportation, mining, energy,
navigation, agriculture, and the chemicals industry. The
unions threatened to stage an unlimited general strike
if the government does not meet their demands for
improved social welfare and lower taxes by 31 July, AP
reported. In other news, the Romanian government on 21
May issued a decree to "prevent corporate insolvencies,"
dpa cited Rompres as reporting on 21 May. The decree
states that all companies in the country must submit
within 30 days detailed financial statements about their
debt situation to the Industry Ministry, which will
"balance" those debts. VG

ORTHODOX, CATHOLIC LEADERS RECEIVE STAR OF ROMANIA.
Romanian President Emil Constantinescu on 21 May awarded
the Star of Romania to Orthodox Patriarch Teoctist and
Catholic Cardinal Alexandru Todea, AP reported on 21
May. The awards come on the heels of a visit to the
country by Pope John Paul II (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 10
May 1999). VG

MOLDOVAN PRESIDENTIAL REFERENDUM INVALID? Preliminary
results of Moldova's non-binding referendum on
increasing presidential powers suggest that the 23 May
vote will be declared invalid owing to low turnout.
Presidential spokesman Anatol Golea said early results
indicated that turnout was about 56 percent. In order to
be valid, the referendum required at least 60 percent of
the electorate to participate. Golea said President
Petru Lucinschi will press on with constitutional
changes, despite the low turnout. On 23 May, Moldovans
also voted in municipal and regional elections across
the country. The same day, Oleg Manturov, a mayoral
candidate from the Bloc of Communists, Agrarian
Democrats, and Socialists, was critically wounded by a
gun shot in the village of Kalarashovka, Infotag
reported. VG

EC WANTS BULGARIAN NUCLEAR REACTORS CLOSED EARLY. The
European Commission on 21 May recommended that four
Soviet-made reactors at the Kozloduy plant in Bulgaria
be closed down earlier than planned to reduce the
possibility of a serious accident, an RFE/RL
correspondent reported. That day, Bulgarian officials
met with commission representatives in Sofia to discuss
alternative energy sources for the country. The
Bulgarian government would like the reactors to run
until the end of their operational life: 2006 for two of
the reactors and 2010 for the other two. In other news,
Bulgarian Deputy Foreign Minister Marin Raikov on 23 May
said Yugoslav authorities refused to allow entry to two
truckloads of humanitarian assistance destined for the
ethnic Bulgarian minority in eastern Serbia, an RFE/RL
correspondent reported. Raikov said the Yugoslav side
refused the aid because Bulgaria insisted that its own
officials distribute it. VG

END NOTE

CRISIS DEMONSTRATES ESTONIAN MILITARY'S WEAKNESS

by Mel Huang

	Estonia's defense establishment has been shaken by
reports that the leader of one of its elite units was
allegedly involved in an armed robbery attempt that left
three people seriously wounded. While declining to
accept the resignation of Defense Forces commander
Lieutenant-General Johannes Kert, President Lennart Meri
spoke for many when he said that this incident has
seriously harmed the reputation of both the Defense
Forces and Estonia itself.
	Many in the Estonian capital appear worried that
the incident points to underlying problems in the
defense structure: weaknesses in internal military
control, in external civilian oversight, and in the pool
of military leaders. These revelations are potentially
more damaging to Estonia's efforts to promote itself as
a candidate for NATO membership than is low defense
spending.
	On 15 May, local news outlets reported that an
armed robbery attempt in Harju County had left three
people hospitalized following a shoot-out. Most
dismissed this as nothing more than a serious crime. But
it rapidly transpired that one of the alleged
perpetrators of the crime, Indrek Holm, is the acting
head of the military police's Special Operations Group
(SOG).
	On learning about the incident, Defense Minister
Juri Luik ordered that the SOG's activities be halted
and a special commission, under the chairmanship of
Defense Ministry Permanent Under-Secretary Tarmo Mand,
be set up to look into the matter. This commission is to
answer three questions: Who is in charge of the SOG?
Where did the chain of command break down? And what
checks are in place to ensure that those recruited into
the SOG are reliable?
	Once the investigation was launched, other problems
were quickly discovered by both the government and the
press. Enn Tarto, a member of the parliament's National
Defense Committee, commented that the highest
parliamentary bodies had little information about the
SOG, its activities, or its members: "Even the State
Defense Committee itself does not know who belongs there
and [to whom] it is subordinated," he said in an
indication of the lack of vigilance on the part of
parliamentary oversight.
	As these revelations surfaced, Kert submitted his
resignation to Meri, but the latter rejected it. The
president said that he was pleased that Kert understood
"the magnitude of the crime" and argued that the general
should be given "another chance." This is the second
time Meri has refused to accept Kert's resignation; the
first was in 1997 following the death of 14 Estonian
soldiers in a training exercise in Kurkse.
	An influential columnist for "Eesti Paevaleht,"
Hannes Rumm, suggested that the reason Meri did not
accept Kert's resignation is that the military has a
weak leadership pool: "It is the good fortune of
Johannes Kert and the misfortune of the Estonian state
that the schooling of well-educated lieutenants to
become a general takes years." Riigikogu Defense
Committee Deputy Chairman Trivimi Velliste concurred,
pointing out that "we don't have 20 generals in
waiting."
	However, Kert may no longer have the standing and
support to push through further military reforms, nor to
seriously explore the shortcomings the crisis exposed.
In short, Estonia finds itself in a vicious circle in
which a hike in defense spending may not be a panacea.

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