The salvation of mankind lies only in making everything the concern of all. - Alexander Solzhenitsyn
RFE/RL NEWSLINE

RFE/RL NEWSLINE Vol 3, No. 102, Part II, 26 May 1999


________________________________________________________
RFE/RL NEWSLINE Vol 3, No. 102, Part II, 26 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

* MECIAR CRITICIZES CONCESSIONS TO MINORITIES

* NEW WAVE OF REFUGEES HEADED FOR MACEDONIA

* SERBIAN POLICE SEAL OFF KRUSEVAC

End Note: WEST MAY BE ONLY HOPE FOR POST-MILOSEVIC
SERBIA
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EAST-CENTRAL EUROPE

LUKASHENKA SAYS IMF POLICY TOWARD BELARUS 'UNFAIR.'
Belarusian President Alyaksandr Lukashenka on 25 May
said he is not satisfied with relations between Belarus
and the IMF. "The IMF's policy regarding Belarus is
unfair and extremely politically motivated.... I can't
name a single objective reason to justify such a low
level of cooperation," AP quoted Lukashenka as saying
after meeting with IMF official John Odling-Smee, who is
in Minsk to prepare an annual report on the Belarusian
economy. Belarus sought a $100 million loan from the IMF
last year, but the fund demanded changes in the
country's economic policy. Odling-Smee told journalists
on 26 May that the IMF "does not deem it possible" to
issue a loan to Belarus, Belapan reported. He cited
Belarus's failure to fulfill its pledges regarding
systemic reforms and monetary policies as the main
reason for refusing the credit. JM

KUCHMA LAYS DOWN POLITICAL PRIORITIES FOR NEXT DECADE.
Addressing a joint congress of the Confederation of
Employers and the Union of Industrialists and
Entrepreneurs, Ukrainian President Leonid Kuchma said
the "consolidation of the government system" and
national security is Ukraine's top priority in the next
stage of its development, Interfax reported. The second
priority is the continuation of systemic reforms and
market-oriented transformations, while the third is to
achieve economic growth of 5-6 percent of GDP in the
next five years and 8 percent in 2010. He also cited the
"drastic" restructuring of the Ukrainian economy as a
priority. The congress unanimously voted to support
Kuchma in the October presidential elections. JM

ALBRIGHT SAYS UKRAINE 'VERY COOPERATIVE' OVER OIL
EMBARGO ON YUGOSLAVIA. U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine
Albright on 25 May said that Ukraine has been "very
cooperative" in NATO efforts to maintain a strict oil
embargo against Yugoslavia. She added, however, that the
U.S. will "soon" talk with Kyiv about allegations that
Ukrainian barges have been shipping oil to Belgrade via
the River Danube. "The New York Times" on 25 May quoted
unnamed U.S. officials as saying that oil is loaded onto
Ukrainian barges in Ukrainian ports and then shipped
across the Black Sea to the Danube. JM

LARGE PROTEST IN NORTHEASTERN ESTONIA. Between 6,000 and
8,000 protesters staged a rally in Narva on 25 May to
protest the restructuring of the energy sector and its
effect on employment opportunities in the area,
"Postimees" reported. Vladimir Aleksejev, who organized
the protest, told the daily that although most
protesters came from the energy sector, employees from
other sectors in the region also participated. The
official unemployment rate for the northeastern Ida-Viru
County is approaching 10 percent, but Aleksejev
estimates the real figure to be closer to 20 percent. MH

ESTONIAN GOVERNMENT DELAYS TOBACCO EXCISE HIKE. The
cabinet on 25 May announced it is delaying the scheduled
rise in levies on tobacco. The six-month delay is
expected to prevent an increase in tax evasion at a
crucial time, according to ETA. Prime Minister Mart Laar
said Estonia's tobacco tax is twice as high as Latvia's,
thus there is already an "environment [conducive to]
smuggling and illegal trade." Evidence shows that the
tax hike on 1 January 1999 caused a 50 percent drop in
cigarette sales and a significant increase in trade in
illegal cigarettes on the black market. MH

VAN DER STOEL CONTINUES LATVIAN VISIT. OSCE High
Commissioner on National Minorities Max van der Stoel
continued his visit to Latvia on 25 May by meeting with
President Guntis Ulmanis. The commissioner thanked
President Ulmanis for six years of cooperation, which is
the amount of time each has served in his present
capacity, according to BNS. Later, Van der Stoel met
with Naturalization Service director Eizenija Aldermane,
whom he asked why there are so few applications for the
naturalization of children of non-citizens. Aldermane
responded that most parents of children who qualify are
themselves undergoing naturalization, which
automatically covers their children. At a press
conference, the commissioner called for the language law
under discussion in the Latvian parliament to be better
defined in order to prevent ambiguities. MH

LATVIAN TELECOMMUNICATIONS TARIFF COUNCIL SACKED. The
government on 25 May officially sacked the
Telecommunications Tariff Council. The decision follows
a resolution recently passed by the parliament. However,
the government maintains that the resolution passed by
parliament is unconstitutional, as the council comes
under the government's jurisdiction, according to LETA.
The work of the council became subject to controversy in
March when Transport Minister Anatolijs Gorbunovs vetoed
a tariff change at the last minute. MH

POLAND REPORTS PROGRESS IN SLAVE LABOR TALKS WITH
GERMANY. Jerzy Widzyk, chief of staff of the Polish
Premier's office, said on 24 May that Germany has agreed
that Nazi-era slave laborers from Poland should receive
the same amount of compensation as those living
elsewhere. Widzyk was speaking after meeting with Bodo
Hombach, chief of staff of the German Chancellor's
Office. "There has been a clear declaration regarding
this issue by the German side," PAP quoted Widzyk as
saying. JM

POLISH GOVERNMENT APPEALS FOR AUSCHWITZ CROSSES TO BE
REMOVED. The government appealed on 25 May for the
removal of some 300 crosses that were erected near the
former Auschwitz Nazi death camp without permission from
the Catholic Church. "The government appeals to all who
in good faith put up the sacred Christian symbols...and
who would like to take them back to their parishes, to
do it as soon as possible," government spokesman
Krzysztof Luft said in a statement, AP reported. Luft
said the so-called papal cross erected in 1979 will
remain in place. He added that the government itself can
remove the crosses under the law on the protection of
former concentration camps, which went into effect on 25
May. Some media suggest that the government wants to
have the controversial crosses removed before Pope John
Paul II's visit to Poland from 5-17 June. JM

CLINTON SENDS LETTER TO HAVEL. U.S. President Bill
Clinton wished his Czech counterpart, Vaclav Havel, a
speedy recovery from his current illness and thanked him
for his support of the NATO bombing campaign in
Yugoslavia, Czech media reported on 25 May. Havel was
hospitalized last week after he contracted bronchitis
(see "RFE/RL Newsline," 21 May 1999). Doctors said on 25
May that Havel's condition is improving and he should
soon be able to leave hospital, CTK reported. In other
news, Czech police said they have increased security in
Vyskov after receiving an anonymous letter saying a bomb
will go off at the close of the upcoming NATO exercises
in the town, Czech media reported on 25 May. NATO
Secretary-General Javier Solana and Havel are scheduled
to attend the exercises on 3 June. VG

MOST CZECHS BELIEVE WALL SEPARATING CZECHS FROM ROMA NOT
RACIST. A poll has found that 72 percent of Czechs do
not feel that the idea of building a wall to separate
ethnic Czech residents from their Romani neighbors is
based on racial hatred, CTK reported on 25 May. Only 28
percent of respondents felt that the idea was based on
racism. The poll was referring to plans by local
officials in the city of Usti nad Labem to build a wall
between the Czech and Romani residents of Maticni
Street. The poll also found that 64 percent of
respondents do not consider Czech society to be racist.
In other news, emigration statistics show that some
1,000 Roma have left the Czech Republic since the
beginning of the year, "Mlada fronta Dnes" reported on
26 May. Most of them have applied for asylum in Britain.
VG

SLOVAKIA'S MECIAR CRITICIZES CONCESSIONS TO MINORITIES.
Former Slovak Prime Minister and current presidential
candidate Vladimir Meciar told the Czech daily
"Hospodarske noviny" of 26 May that Slovakia does not
have a "minority rights" problem at the moment, but
rather a problem with "concessions to nationalists and
separatists." He said certain representatives of the
ethnic Hungarian minority in Slovakia and certain
politicians in Budapest aim to create a "Greater
Hungary." Meciar said he rejects any suggestions that
minorities are being oppressed in Slovakia. He also
added that some "uninformed European institutions"
believe that "concessions should be made to the demands
of minorities." Meciar also described the NATO campaign
in Yugoslavia as illegal. He said the conflict in
Yugoslavia represents a challenge for Europe as to
whether it will be able to develop its own security
model or whether it will follow "U.S. doctrine" in
international relations. VG

LITHUANIAN PRESIDENT VISITS HUNGARY. Valdas Adamkus told
reporters in Budapest on 26 May that his country is
ready for NATO membership and would be "disappointed" if
its aspirations were not realized. He said Russia
continues to express displeasure at the Baltic States'
efforts to become NATO members. Adamkus met with
Hungarian President Arpad Goncz, Prime Minister Viktor
Orban, and Budapest Mayor Gabor Demszky. Representatives
of the two countries signed an agreement on mutual
capital investment guarantees. Lithuania is Hungary's
largest trading partner in the Baltics. More than $55
million worth of Hungarian goods were exported to
Lithuania last year. MSZ

SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE

NEW WAVE OF REFUGEES HEADED FOR MACEDONIA. Some 2,000
Kosovars arrived on the border with Macedonia on 25 May
(see "RFE/RL Newsline," 24 May 1999). In Geneva, a
spokesman for the UN High Commissioner for Refugees said
that some 150,000 refugees may soon arrive in Macedonia.
There is room in existing refugee camps there for only
an additional 15,000, the "Frankfurter Allgemeine
Zeitung" reported. Some observers suggested that the
latest wave may be a result of a "final push" by the
Serbian authorities to remove the last ethnic Albanians
from Kosova. Other observers said the Serbian
authorities may be seeking to "flood" Macedonia with
refugees in order to force NATO troops there to
concentrate their time and energies on humanitarian
tasks and not on preparations for an eventual occupation
of Kosova. PM

THUNDEROUS RECEPTION FOR RUGOVA. Thousands of Kosovar
refugees greeted ethnic Albanian leader Ibrahim Rugova
at the Stenkovec refugee camp in Macedonia on 26 May.
Reuters reported "wild celebrations" during his 10-
minute visit. It was Rugova's first appearance in a
refugee camp since he left Kosova on 5 May. Critics
charge that he has since spent too much time talking to
foreign politicians and diplomats and that he has not
spent time with the refugees and other Kosovar leaders
(see "RFE/RL Balkan Report," 19 May 1999). PM

MORE KOSOVAR DETAINEES ARRIVE IN ALBANIA. Several
hundred male refugees arrived in Albania via the border
crossing of Morina on 25 May, Reuters reported. They
said that Serbian forces released them from the prison
in Smrekonica where paramilitaries had held up to 3,000
men hostage in recent weeks (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 24
May 1999). Apart from visible emaciation and
malnourishment, the men were suffering from exposure to
the sun. A witness reported that the prison guards were
not police but paramilitaries. He added: "They treated
us like animals, they beat us, some people in the head,
everywhere." Medical aid workers said that the men have
bruises from the beatings they received to the abdomen,
hands, feet, ribs, and, in some cases, the head. FS

EU OFFICIALS PROMISE ALBANIA PREFERRED TRADE STATUS.
Hans van den Broek, the EU commissioner in charge of
foreign affairs, told Albanian Prime Minister Majko
Pandeli in Brussels on 25 May that the EU is willing to
grant Albania "preferential trade terms," dpa reported.
He added that the EU Commission on 26 May will also
discuss the timetable and steps to be taken for the
possible admission of Albania and Macedonia into the
union. FS

PROSTITUTION RACKETEERS KILL REFUGEE GIRL IN KIDNAP
ATTEMPT. Gangsters belonging to a prostitution ring in
Vlora killed a 16-year-old girl in a kidnap attempt on
24 May, Reuters reported. The refugee girl was living
with her father in a rented house in the outskirts of
the city. The father told police that the gangsters
fired shots at both the girl and himself after he had
tried to drive them back. Police surrounded the area
immediately after the incident and arrested five
suspects. Relief agencies have warned that gangs are
trying to kidnap young girls from Kosova to send them as
prostitutes to Italy or Greece. FS

RED CROSS CONVOY REACHES KOSOVA. A spokeswoman for the
International Committee of the Red Cross said in Geneva
on 26 May that five Red Cross relief trucks reached
Prishtina the previous night. The arrival there of eight
ICRC staff on 24 May marked the return of that
organization to the province. The relief organization
withdrew its 19 staff members from Kosova on 29 March.
The Serbian authorities recently gave the ICRC
permission to return. PM

YUGOSLAV TROOPS ABDUCT KOSOVAR MALES. Members of the
Yugoslav army removed 50 males from a group of about 500
ethnic Albanian refugees as they were attempting to
cross into Montenegro on 25 May, RFE/RL's South Slavic
Service reported. The soldiers took the Kosovars to an
unknown destination. PM

SERBIAN POLICE SEAL OFF KRUSEVAC. Paramilitary and local
Serbian police barred roads leading into and out of
Krusevac on 25 May. The police prevented busses and
river ferries from running and restricted the movement
of vehicles within the town, RFE/RL's South Slavic
Service reported. A mother of a soldier serving in
Kosova told RFE/RL from Krusevac by telephone that
coffins containing dead Serbian soldiers arrive in the
town "constantly." She added: "The mothers are not
afraid of either the politicians or the police. The
mothers will go [to Kosova], and find their children."
And in Cacak, which was also the scene of recent anti-
war protests, one of the recently arrested protesters
said that her arrest is an attempt by the Serbian
authorities to intimidate those who oppose the war (see
"RFE/RL Newsline," 25 May 1999). PM

MORE NATO TROOPS FOR KOSOVA FORCE. NATO officials agreed
in Brussels on 25 May to increase the size of Operation
Joint Guardian from some 28,000 soldiers to up to
45,000, the "Berliner Zeitung" reported. In London on 26
May, British Defense Secretary George Robertson said
that he hopes the additional troops will go to the
Balkans "in the next few weeks." He added that the force
may face "a hostile environment," by which he presumably
meant that they might enter Kosova without Serbian
permission. Some 24,000 NATO troops are already
stationed in or near the Balkans as part of Operation
Joint Guardian. More than half of those soldiers are in
Macedonia. The operation, which NATO officials often
call KFOR-Plus, is intended to be a peace-keeping force
in Kosova to ensure that the refugees can return home
safely as part of an eventual peace settlement.
Observers note that KFOR-Plus could easily form the core
of a large force to invade Kosova if NATO decides to
embark on such a course. PM

FISCHER WARNS ABOUT SANDZAK. German Foreign Minister
Joschka Fischer said in Washington on 25 May that if
NATO fails to secure the safe return of refugees to
Kosova, the conflict could spread and the Balkans remain
unstable for many years, Reuters reported. He argued
that "if [Yugoslav President Slobodan] Milosevic can
continue [with his program of ethnic cleansing], we can
see next what will happen in the Sandzak..., you will
see an overthrow of [the democratic government in]
Montenegro. You will see that Albanian nationalism will
explode. And this will have severe consequences for
stability in the whole region, especially in Macedonia."
PM

FOREIGN MONEY FOR BOSNIA. A spokesman for the World Bank
said in Sarajevo on 25 May that Bosnia will need $2.6
billion in development and reconstruction assistance for
the period 2000- 2004. Elsewhere, a spokesman for the
international community's Carlos Westendorp noted that
$760 million of the $1.05 billion approved last week by
an international donors' conference will be allocated
for reconstruction projects. The balance will go for
peace implementation costs and support for the state
budget and balance of payments. Representatives of the
international community have stressed in recent months
that Bosnia must make a transition from depending on
foreign aid to attracting foreign investments. To do
that, the Bosnian authorities must do more to end
corruption, the foreign experts warn. PM

GRENADES HIT PEACEKEEPERS' HOUSES. Unknown persons on 26
May fired rocket-propelled grenades at two houses in
Zvornik inhabited by SFOR peacekeepers, NATO said in a
statement issued in Tuzla. SFOR officials are
investigating the incident, in which no one was injured.
The text did not identify the nationality of the troops.
Zvornik is in the Republika Srpska. SFOR troops there
are under U.S. command. PM

ILIESCU WARNS AGAINST RUSSIAN PRESENCE IN BALKANS.
Former Romanian President Ion Iliescu called on the U.S.
not to give Russia a chance to re-establish its
domination in the Balkans by participating in a
peacekeeping mission after the conflict in Kosova,
Mediafax reported on 25 May. In an article entitled
"Moscow on the Danube: Bad News After Kosovo," which was
published in "The Washington Post" on 23 May, Iliescu
said Russian military involvement in the Balkan peace
process could destabilize the region. VG

ROMANIAN SENATE ADOPTS LANGUAGE BILL. The Senate on 25
May adopted a language bill stating that in districts
where ethnic minorities form at least 20 percent of the
population, those minorities have the right to use their
own languages in dealings with local authorities,
according to a Mediafax report cited by the BBC. The
bill has yet to be debated in the Chamber of Deputies.
VG

COMMUNISTS WIN IN ELECTIONS IN MOST MOLDOVAN COUNTIES.
Communist candidates won majorities in six of Moldova's
nine counties in the 23 May local elections, according
to preliminary results cited by BASA-Press on 25 May.
Communist deputy Victor Stepaniuc said his party had
been "expecting much more." Vasile Soimaru, a deputy
from the Party of Democratic Forces, described the
election results as a "victory of the extreme left." Ion
Neagu of the Christian Democratic Convention said the
results reflect the frustration of the people over the
government's mismanagement of state affairs. VG

BULGARIAN PREMIER MEETS WITH D'ALEMA... Italian Prime
Minister Massimo D'Alema said his country will lobby in
favor of negotiations on Bulgaria's accession to the EU
beginning in December, according to a 24 May BTA report
cited by the BBC. D'Alema's comments came after he met
with Bulgarian Prime Minister Ivan Kostov in Rome.
Kostov, who had earlier met with Macedonian Prime
Minister Ljubco Georgievski, said Macedonia urgently
requires humanitarian assistance to deal with the influx
of refugees from Kosova. He added that so far Macedonia
has not received any "concrete financial assistance." He
also said that work should begin immediately on plans
for the return of the Kosova refugees to their homes
once the conflict in Yugoslavia is over. VG

...SEES KEY ROLE FOR BULGARIA IN BALKANS. Kostov told
the Italian ADN-Kronos agency that his country will be
"a useful partner" for NATO in maintaining stability in
the Balkans and preventing any future conflicts. He
pointed out that disputes still exist between Greece and
Turkey, between Greece and Macedonia, and between the
Turkish government and that country's Kurdish minority.
Kostov also said the conflict in Yugoslavia demonstrates
that his country needs more access routes to Central
Europe and Italy. VG

BALKAN DEPUTY DEFENSE MINISTERS MEET IN SOFIA. The
deputy defense ministers of seven Southeastern European
states as well as delegations from Italy and the U.S.
discussed the Kosova conflict at a 25 May meeting in
Sofia, Bulgarian Radio reported. The deputy ministers
said an international peacekeeping force should be
charged with securing the return of the Kosova refugees
to their homes and another multinational contingent
should be in charge of the region's infrastructure, BTA
reported. They are scheduled to visit the proposed
headquarters in Plovdiv for a possible multinational
Balkan peacekeeping force. VG

END NOTE

WEST MAY BE ONLY HOPE FOR POST-MILOSEVIC SERBIA

By Andrej Krickovic

	As NATO air strikes devastate Serbia's economy and
infrastructure, the Serbian opposition is beginning to
speak out against Slobodan Milosevic. At the end of
April, former Serbian Deputy Prime Minister Vuk
Draskovic criticized Milosevic for lying to the Serbian
people and called on him to accept a peaceful solution
to the crisis. He paid for his boldness by losing his
job and being returned to the ranks of the opposition.
	Democratic Party President Zoran Djindjic and
Social Democratic Party President Vuk Obradovic have
taken Draskovic's criticism a step further. Both have
called on Milosevic to bow to NATO demands in order to
end the bombing, and both have vowed that Democratic
forces in the country will unseat Milosevic once the
NATO intervention ends.
	But Western leaders should not take this as a
signal that they can cut a deal with Milosevic and that
the opposition will take care of him after the bombings.
A compromise deal that is more acceptable to the Serbs
than Rambouillet would mean a victory for Milosevic,
allowing him to continue to play on nationalist
sentiment. Like Sadam Hussein, Milosevic could turn
defeat into victory by claiming he stood up to the full
force of the Western alliance and defended Serbia's
vital national interests. And, like Iraq, Serbia could
become a pariah state that is a constant threat to
regional stability.
	While NATO has been winning the air war, Milosevic
has been busy clamping down on the opposition and
silencing independent media. Independent outlets like
Belgrade's Radio B92 have been shut down and reopened
with pro-government staffs. Others are afraid of the
consequences of speaking out and have more or less
voluntarily toed the Milosevic line. Many believe that
the slaying of Slavko Curuvija, the editor-in-chief of
the popular Belgrade daily "Dnevni Telegraf" was
intended as a message to would-be critics of the regime.
Several anti-Milosevic activists and opposition leaders
have fled to Montenegro, including Djindjic. A post-war
opposition movement would have to recover from these
losses and operate in an atmosphere of fear and brutal
repression.
	Moreover, it is also doubtful that the opposition
is capable of leading Serbia into a post-Milosevic era.
Draskovic and Djindjic have been proponents of Serbian
nationalism and supported the wars in Bosnia-Herzegovina
and Croatia. At the same time, both have blown their
best opportunities. They failed to capitalize on the
street protests of 1996-1997, allowing Milosevic to
emerge stronger than ever. Many observers regard them as
opportunists, at best. Although Obradovic has been a
vocal opponent of Milosevic, his Social Democracy party
has only a small following.
	Most Serbs continue to hold the same nationalist
beliefs that have inflicted so much harm on them and
their neighbors during this decade. Even Milosevic's
most consistent opponents have failed to condemn ethnic
cleansing in Kosova, instead focusing their criticism on
"NATO aggression." The most independent-minded media,
such as the weekly "Vreme," have portrayed reports of
massacres in Kosova as NATO propaganda and claimed that
the Western alliance is to blame for the hundreds of
thousands of refuges fleeing Kosova. Belgrade's students
were the backbone of the 1996-1997 protests. Yet they
have failed to show any interest in the suffering of
Kosova Albanians and have instead flocked to government-
sponsored anti-NATO rallies.
	The destructive nationalism that Milosevic has
manipulated so successfully in the past is still strong
among the Serbian people. One would be hard pressed to
find a Serb who believes that the Albanians have as much
right as the Serbs to live in Kosova or who admits
Serbian nationalism is responsible for the wars in
Bosnia-Herzegovina, Croatia, and Kosova. Most Serbs
continue to insist that Kosova is sacred Serbian land
and that the Albanians and international community are
the ones committing aggression and ethnic cleansing.
	The international community is unlikely to accept
the Serbs "back into the fold" as long as they continue
to view themselves martyrs and/or victims of the
Albanians or of NATO. Several key Western leaders have
suggested that Serbia must purge its media, political
culture, and educational system of nationalism before it
can return to the ranks of European nations.
	Such a development will remain impossible while
Milosevic is in power. But the Serbs may never be unable
to rid themselves of Milosevic if the West allows him to
stay in power.

The author is a free-lance journalist based in Zagreb

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