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RFE/RL NEWSLINE

RFE/RL NEWSLINE Vol 3, No. 104, Part II, 28 May 1999


________________________________________________________
RFE/RL NEWSLINE Vol 3, No. 104, Part II, 28 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

* POLISH GOVERNMENT REMOVES CONTROVERSIAL AUSCHWITZ
CROSSES

* MIXED REACTIONS TO MILOSEVIC INDICTMENT IN WEST

* GERMANY HOSTS BALKAN DEVELOPMENT MEETING

End Note: FOREIGN-POLICY CONFUSION IN THE CZECH REPUBLIC
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EAST-CENTRAL EUROPE

LUKASHENKA TO NATIONALIZE TRADE IN COUNTRYSIDE.
Belarusian President Alyaksandr Lukashenka on 27 March
attended a congress of the Belarusian Union of Consumer
Cooperation, which deals with trade in consumer products
in the countryside, Belarusian Television reported.
Lukashenka accused the union of poor performance and
announced that he will soon issue a decree subordinating
to the state both the union and the consumer trade
sector in the countryside. "You will be put under the
most rigorous conditions, you will work [the way] all
state structures are working in our republic," he told
the congress. He also advised the union to earn hard
currency by selling mushrooms and wild berries gathered
by villagers in Belarusian woods directly to foreigners,
bypassing intermediaries, whom he called "private
dealers and swindlers." JM

OSCE PROPOSES TALKS BETWEEN BELARUSIAN AUTHORITIES,
OPPOSITION. Following an earlier announcement by OSCE
official Adrian Severin (see "RFE/RL's Newsline," 19 May
1999), the organization has offered to host talks
between the Belarusian authorities and the opposition in
Bucharest from 11-13 June, RFE/RL's Belarusian Service
reported on 27 May. The talks would focus on three
topics: executive power, media, and elections in
Belarus. The OSCE also proposed a list of participants
in the negotiations, which consists of representatives
of the government, the political opposition, and
Belarusian NGOs. JM

IMF RESUMES LOAN PROGRAM, APPROVES NEW MONEY FOR
UKRAINE. The IMF on 27 May approved the release of a
$180 million tranche of its $2.2 billion loan to
Ukraine, Reuters reported. It also endorsed Ukraine's
request for an extra $366 million in financial support.
"In view of the country's heavy debt service
obligations, Ukraine's economic recovery will require
the continued involvement of private creditors. A
collaborative solution to Ukraine's debt service must be
found in line with Ukraine's capacity to pay," the fund
said in a statement. The news agency added that the fund
wants Ukraine to use IMF money to repay debts to private
creditors. JM

UKRAINIAN, ROMANIAN PRESIDENTS MEET. Leonid Kuchma and
his Romanian counterpart, Emil Constantinescu, met in
Kyiv on 27 May and discussed border demarcation issues
and prospects for economic cooperation. "We have made
good progress in resolving the question of border
demarcation," AP quoted Kuchma as saying. The agency
added, however, that no "major breakthrough" has been
achieved on the issue. Ukraine and Romania disagree on
how to demarcate a part of the continental shelf in the
Black Sea where large oil and gas deposits are believed
to be located. Interfax reported that both presidents
also discussed plans for transporting Caspian oil to
Western Europe. Ukraine proposes a route extending from
Supsa, in Georgia, via Odesa and Ukraine to Poland,
while Romania prefers a route from Odesa to the Romanian
port of Constanta. "The two routes will not compete
because they will service different areas," Kuchma
commented. JM

ESTONIAN PARLIAMENT HOLDS MARATHON SESSION. The
parliament on 26 May held a marathon session that ran
into the early morning of the following day. The
opposition Center Party used delaying tactics in an
attempt to block the approval of the negative
supplementary budget in the first reading. However, the
controversial bill was approved, and the second reading
is scheduled for June. Both sides regard the lengthy
session as an indication of how future readings of the
budget bill will unfold. Returning to work five hours
later for the session on 27 May, the parliament passed
amendments retaining zero value-added tax on heating. MH

DATE OF LATVIAN PRESIDENTIAL VOTE SET. The parliament on
27 May officially set 17 June as the day lawmakers will
vote for a new head of state. Four of the parties
represented in the parliament have already nominated
their candidates: Anatolijs Gorbunovs (Latvia's Way),
Vaira Paegle (People's Party), Janis Priedkalns (For
Fatherland and Freedom), and Raimonds Pauls (New Party).
The Social Democratic Alliance will choose between three
possible candidates within a week, while the leftist For
Equal Rights in an Integrated Latvia will not put up a
candidate. To win, a candidate must gain at least 51
votes in the 100-member body. MH

LATVIAN PARLIAMENT APPROVES PORK TARIFFS. The Latvian
parliament on 27 May approved a bill that establishes
import tariffs for pork. The legislation, which will be
in effect from 1 June to 17 December, imposes a 70
percent import duty on pork and pork products. The
Latvian government pushed for an exemption for Estonia
and Lithuania, but the parliament failed to support the
government's plan, according to Baltic news agencies.
Following the bill's passage, Prime Minister Vilis
Kristopans said: "It appears that international
commitments have been violated and neighboring countries
could conceivably impose sanctions on Latvia," according
to LETA. Estonian Prime Minister Mart Laar expressed his
regret at the decision. He has called for a meeting of
the joint committee on the Baltic Free Trade Agreement.
MH

LATVIAN-LITHUANIAN BORDER DEAL INITIALED. Latvian and
Lithuanian representatives initialed the long-delayed
maritime border agreement in Vilnius on 27 May.
Officially titled "Delimitation of the Continental Shelf
and Economic Zones in the Baltic Sea," the treaty must
be approved by both governments. However, the issue of
the oil deposit along the originally disputed zone
remains to be solved in another document. In April, the
two sides agreed to separate the demarcation issue from
the economic interest zone, according to LETA. MH

POLISH FARMERS BLOCK ROADS AGAIN. Following an appeal by
Andrzej Lepper, populist leader of the radical Self-
Defense union, Polish farmers blocked some 90 roads
throughout the country to protest government
agricultural policies, Polish media reported. The
blockades come after Lepper accused the government of
not keeping its promises and broke off negotiations with
the Agricultural Ministry. This time, the police acted
more decisively than during similar protests in
February, using force to clear roads in eight
localities. Serious clashes occurred in Nowy Dwor
Gdanski, where several policemen and farmers were
hospitalized. Agricultural Minister Artur Balazs said
the government will offer subsidies to grain producers
as part of an aid package for the agricultural sector.
So far, the government has refrained from subsidizing
farmers, seeking instead to purchase agricultural
products at prices above the minimum level negotiated
with farmers' unions. JM

POLISH GOVERNMENT REMOVES CONTROVERSIAL AUSCHWITZ
CROSSES. Police on 28 May removed some 300 crosses and a
wooden chapel erected by radical Catholics at the former
Nazi concentration camp at Auschwitz, AP reported.
According to a joint statement issued by the government
and the Polish Episcopate, the crosses have been placed
in a monastery near the city of Oswiecim. The legal
grounds for the police action, which was intended to end
a protracted Jewish-Catholic controversy over religious
symbols at Auschwitz, are provided by the law on the
protection of former concentration camp sites, which
took effect last week. On 27 May, the police arrested
Kazimerz Switon, a Catholic radical activist who had led
the campaign to erect crosses on the Auschwitz site. The
same day, the police detonated an explosive device laid
by Switon on the site in a bid to prevent the crosses
from being removed. JM

NATO EXERCISES BEGIN IN CZECH REPUBLIC. Almost 2,000
NATO officers from 14 NATO countries and 12 Partnership
for Peace countries started military exercises in the
Czech town of Vyskov on 27 May, Czech media reported.
Meanwhile, police have continued to maintain high
security at the site after receiving a bomb threat. VG

CZECH PREMIER REJECTS CRITICISM OF MEDIA BILL. Milos
Zeman on 27 May rejected criticism of the Czech
cabinet's new media bill, CTK reported. The bill would
require publications to publish responses by readers who
feel their reputation has been damaged by an article,
even if the reported information is correct. The bill
would also give the authorities the power to fine or
suspend the publication of periodicals that spread
hatred against people because of their race,
nationality, religion, or sexual orientation. Zeman said
the bill is aimed at ensuring a plurality of views in
the media and preventing the spread of hatred. VG

SLOVAK PREMIER CALLS ON PEOPLE TO VOTE. Mikulas Dzurinda
delivered a televised address to the nation on 27 May
callling on Slovaks to participate in the 29 May
presidential vote, TASR reported. While not openly
supporting either candidate, Dzurinda called on Slovaks
not to believe "those who brought this country to the
edge of economic collapse." He also made reference to
the difficulties caused by the fact that the previous
president and the previous government were incapable of
working together. Dzurinda's coalition government
supports the candidacy of Kosice Mayor Rudolf Schuster.
His comments were a clear reference to former Prime
Minister Vladimir Meciar's government and the latter's
conflicts with former President Michal Kovac. The latest
polls show Schuster leading Meciar by 56 percent to 44
percent. Meciar's Movement for a Democratic Slovakia on
27 May accused Dzurinda of violating the law banning
election campaigning within two days of the vote. VG

PROTESTS AGAINST BOHUNICE DECISION. A member of the
environmental caucus of Germany's governing Social
Democrats said Slovakia's decision to delay the closure
of the Jaslovske Bohunice nuclear power plant could
affect the country's EU accession talks, TASR reported
on 27 May. Slovakia, which had initially agreed to shut
down the plant in the year 2000, now says the plant will
continue to function until other means of generating
electricity are found. Greenpeace on 27 May denounced
the decision, saying Bohunice is "one of the most
dangerous nuclear plants in the world." VG

SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE

HAGUE COURT INDICTS FIVE BELGRADE LEADERS. Louise
Arbour, who is the chief prosecutor for the Hague-based
war crimes tribunal, announced on 27 May that the court
has indicted Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic on
three counts of crimes against humanity and one count of
a violation of the laws or customs of war (see "RFE/RL
Newsline," 27 May 1999). The court also indicted Serbian
President Milan Milutinovic, Yugoslav Deputy Prime
Minister Nikola Sainovic, General Dragoljub Ojdanic, and
Serbian Interior Minister Vlajko Stojiljkovic for their
roles in carrying out deportations, murders, and
persecutions of Kosovars. Arbour said: "I believe that
it is an extraordinary achievement, by any law
enforcement standard, for us to have brought to
successful confirmation, an indictment against the five
accused for crimes of this magnitude committed since the
beginning of this year. This has been achieved in less
than five months." PM

MIXED REACTIONS TO MILOSEVIC INDICTMENT IN WEST...
French President Jacques Chirac said in Paris on 27 May
that "we will not negotiate with Milosevic, but rather
make Yugoslavia accept a peace plan that is fair and
balanced." U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright
said in Washington that "we want to see [Milosevic] in
The Hague." Her spokesman James Rubin noted, however,
that "we are not going to rule out contacts if they can
achieve our objectives." Spokesmen for several U.S.-
based human rights organizations told VOA that it is
unlikely that Milosevic and his colleagues will be
arrested unless international peacekeepers in Kosova
receive a much tougher mandate to arrest war criminals
than SFOR has in Bosnia. For his part, former President
Jimmy Carter told CNN that he fears the indictment will
make it more difficult for diplomats to end the crisis
soon. PM

...AND IN YUGOSLAVIA. The federal Yugoslav government
said in a statement on 27 May that the indictment shows
that Arbour is a "puppet in the hands" of those
"conducting a war" against Yugoslavia. The statement
called the indictment a "disgraceful act" and the
tribunal a "private court of Madeleine Albright, James
Rubin and [NATO commander General] Wesley Clark." In
Podgorica, Montenegrin Justice Minister Dragan Soc said
that the indictment increases the possibility that
Milosevic will stage a coup against the Montenegrin
government, RFE/RL's South Slavic Service reported. PM

CLINTON SPEAKS TO KOSOVARS... U.S. President Bill
Clinton, in a 27 May radio address to the Kosovars
broadcast in the Albanian language by RFE/RL and VOA,
said he personally has heard from Kosovars "stories of
innocent people beaten and brutalized for no reason but
their ethnicity and faith--people rounded up in the
middle of the night, forced to board trains for unknown
destinations, separated from their families." He
stressed that NATO and the Kosovars alike want the
refugees to be able to "return in safety" to their
homes. Clinton added that this "will take time...[but]
there is no doubt what the outcome will be. The campaign
of ethnic cleansing...will end. You will return. Our
military campaign is daily increasing the pressure on
the Serbian leadership and on Serbian forces.... We will
persevere until the Serbian forces leave and you are
allowed to return home, with NATO there to prevent a
return to violence," he concluded. PM

...THANKS ALBANIA, MACEDONIA. Clinton also said in his
27 May radio address: "We are grateful to the people of
Albania and Macedonia for accepting refugees into their
countries and their homes. It is not easy for any nation
to absorb huge numbers of people; and it is certainly
not easy for two nations still struggling to meet the
needs of their people. We recognize your sacrifices and
we are committed to help, by easing your burden, and
helping you build security, prosperity and democracy at
home and in your neighborhood," he concluded. Meanwhile
on the Macedonian-Kosovar border, UN spokesmen said that
the flow of refugees has "slowed to a trickle." The
spokesmen added that they are not sure why the recent
wave of refugees has all but stopped (see "RFE/RL
Newsline," 26 May 1999). PM

NATO 'LEVELS PLAYING FIELD' FOR UCK. Rear Admiral Thomas
Wilson told a Washington press conference on 27 May that
NATO air strikes have helped the Kosova Liberation Army
(UCK). "We believe that it's important to continue to
destroy [Yugoslav army heavy] equipment and also to try
to make it immobile and keep them...out of the fight,
because it tends to level the playing field between the
[UCK] and the army." Meanwhile at Morina on the Kosovar-
Albanian frontier, Serbian forces and the UCK fought for
control of the key border crossing. PM

RUGOVA REFUSED TO GO TO TIRANA. Moderate Kosovar leader
Ibrahim Rugova recently turned down an invitation from
the Albanian government to meet with Albanian officials
and Kosovar leaders in Tirana, dpa reported on 27 May.
Foreign Minister Pascal Milo said that the government
had wanted Rugova to come to Albania following his brief
trip to Macedonia on 26 May but he had refused to do so.
Majko suggested that Rugova did not want to face
embarrassing questions from other Kosovars about his
contacts with Milosevic and other Serbian authorities
during Rugova's month of house arrest in Prishtina this
spring. PM

UCK WILL NOT MEET WITH RUGOVA. Rugova said in Paris on
28 May that the UCK's Hashim Thaci and other leaders
left the French capital without meeting him (see "RFE/RL
Newsline," 27 May 1999). Thaci recently said that Rugova
represents no one but himself and his body guards. He
and other critics charge that Rugova 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

GERMANY HOSTS BALKAN DEVELOPMENT MEETING. Foreign
Minister Joschka Fischer told representatives of more
than 30 countries and 10 non-governmental organizations
in Bonn on 27 May that his proposed "Balkan
stabilization pact" must include realistic prospects for
EU membership for Bosnia, Croatia, Macedonia,
Yugoslavia, and Albania, the "Frankfurter Allgemeine
Zeitung" reported. He added, however, that the process
will take years and does not mean that the five
countries will receive easy terms for membership. The
stability pact will also include Bulgaria, Romania, and
Slovenia. Its aim is to promote a regional approach to
political and economic development and to security
issues. The previous day in Brussels, EU Commissioner
Hans van den Broek said that Balkan regional cooperation
is an essential means to prevent future conflicts there.
He stressed that the EU will offer long-term development
assistance to Albania, Bosnia, Croatia, Macedonia, and
Yugoslavia, the "Berliner Zeitung" reported. PM

ROMANIAN SENATE COMMISSION STRIPS TUDOR OF IMMUNITY. The
Senate's Legal Commission voted to strip Senator
Corneliu Vadim Tudor of the Greater Romania Party of his
parliamentary immunity from criminal prosecution,
according to a 27 May Mediafax report cited by the BBC.
Tudor will be investigated in connection with seven
criminal charges. The opposition staged a walkout during
the commission meeting to protest the governing
coalition senators' refusal to consider delaying the
vote so that Tudor could defend himself. Meanwhile, the
National Peasant Party Christian Democratic on 26 May
announced that it will support President Emil
Constantinescu for a second mandate as head of state. In
other news, the government on 27 May approved a package
of incentives for the Renault car manufacturer to pave
the way for the sale of shares in the Romanian car maker
Dacia Pitesti to the French company. The package of
incentives includes exemptions from value-added tax and
customs duties, Rompres reported. VG

WORRIED DEPOSITORS CROWD ROMANIAN BANK. Thousand of
worried depositors lined up at branches of Romania's
Bankcoop bank on 27 May in an attempt to withdraw their
savings, AP reported. Two days earlier, the Central Bank
had ordered Bankcoop to limit its payouts to depositors.
Central Bank officials expressed concern at the outbreak
of general panic. VG

MOLDOVAN PARLIAMENT CRITICIZES ELECTORAL COMMISSION.
Deputies from the Moldovan parliament have criticized
the Moldovan Central Electoral Commission (CEC) for
delaying the vote-counting process for the 23 May
referendum and local elections, BASA-Press reported on
27 May. Deputy Alexandru Mosanu said the manner in which
preliminary information about the election results have
been released to the media by CEC officials raises
"suspicions." The parliamentary commission for control
and petitions is preparing a report on the CEC's
handling of the vote. CEC spokesman Anatol Semionov
dismissed the criticism. Meanwhile, the CEC on 27 May
announced that turnout in the referendum may have been
larger than the 56 percent announced in the preliminary
results. VG

BULGARIA'S ETHNIC TURKS COMPLAIN ABOUT GOVERNOR.
Representatives of the largely ethnic Turkish Movement
for Rights and Freedoms as well as mayors from the
region of Kurdzhali have called for the dismissal of the
region's governor, Plamen Ivanov, according to a 26 May
Anatolia report cited by the BBC. Kurdzhali Mayor Radim
Musa said that Ivanov has threatened some Turkish mayors
in the region and that his actions may cause ethnic
tensions to escalate. Bulgarian Prime Minister Ivan
Kostov has launched an investigation into the complaints
against Ivanov. In other news, the Bulgarian parliament
on 27 May passed a law on refugees, which envisages
creating an agency for dealing with refugees. The law
defines a refugee as "an alien who has a well-founded
fear of persecution for reasons of race, religion,
membership in a particular social group, or political
opinion." In other news, thousands of Bulgarian workers
from metalworking, machine building, and arms industries
marched through Sofia on 27 May to protest against plant
closures and decreasing living standards, Reuters
reported. VG

GREEK PRESIDENT PLEDGES TO HELP BUILD BRIDGE. Kostas
Stephanopoulos has said his country will take the
initiative in organizing a trilateral meeting with
Bulgaria and Romania on the construction of a new bridge
linking the latter two countries, according to a 27 May
BTA report cited by the BBC. Stephanopoulos, who is on a
state visit to Bulgaria, said Greece wants the issue
resolved without delay. Meanwhile, Bulgarian Prime
Minister Ivan Kostov asked Stephanopoulos for his
country's assistance in getting aid to the ethnic
Bulgarian minority in eastern Serbia (see "RFE/RL
Newsline," 24 May 1999). Stephanopoulos and Kostov also
discussed joint Bulgarian-Greek investment. VG

END NOTE

FOREIGN-POLICY CONFUSION IN THE CZECH REPUBLIC

by Victor Gomez

	The ongoing NATO campaign in Yugoslavia seems to
have elicited all manner of reactions across Central and
Eastern Europe. But perhaps few countries have presented
such a mixed array of foreign-policy statements from
politicians in leading positions as has the Czech
Republic. Foreign observers and statesmen might be
excused for wondering what exactly the country stands
for in this conflict. Moreover, the Czech political
authorities seem to be at odds over other questions of
foreign relations, revealing problems of coordination
and leadership in the development of a clear foreign
policy.
	The Kosova conflict has seen the development of
differing positions among Czech politicians. First,
there is President Vaclav Havel's firm stance in support
of the NATO campaign. Second, there is Foreign Minister
Jan Kavan's "peace initiative," which he has presented
in cooperation with his Greek counterpart, George
Papandreou. Among other things, the plan calls for a
NATO initiative for a cease-fire and only a partial
withdrawal of Yugoslav forces from Kosova, which NATO is
not prepared to accept. Third, there is Chamber of
Deputies Chairman Vaclav Klaus's repeated insistence
that the NATO campaign was wrong from the start, that it
has clearly failed, and that the alliance is now merely
trying to "save face."
	Such disagreements are evident in other areas of
the Czech Republic's foreign policy. When Kavan visited
China as part of a Far East tour in mid-May, government
spokesman Libor Roucek noted that not only did the
current Social Democratic administration disagree with
the previous government's stance toward China, but it
also conflicted with Havel's opinions on relations with
that country.
	While such conflicting statements do not always
reflect long-term policy, they tend to confuse the
domestic public and send mixed signals to partners
abroad. Observers note that over the years Czech
political leaders have largely agreed on the country's
most important foreign-policy objectives, such as
gaining membership in NATO and the EU. It would not have
taken an extraordinary amount of coordination for the
country's key politicians to formulate a common policy
on Kosova--one that would take into account both concern
over the humanitarian aspects of the conflict and the
country's obligations as a NATO member. The same could
be said about the Czech Republic's relations with China.
	However, the inability or unwillingness of Czech
politicians to formulate a consistent foreign policy
line hints at a deeper problem. While Havel's position
on the Kosova crisis has been relatively clear and
consistent from the beginning of the conflict, there
appears to be less consistency among some other
politicians. At first glance, Klaus appears to have been
relatively consistent in his criticism of the NATO
campaign. However, it is odd for a politician to
emphatically state that he respects his country's
obligations as a NATO member while continuing to
publicly blast NATO strategy.
	Meanwhile, the cabinet of Milos Zeman has continued
to waver on the issue. Zeman says the Czech Republic
must fulfill its obligations as a NATO member; at the
same time, he points out that the decision to bomb
Yugoslavia was made before the Czech Republic became a
member. His interior minister says the country will
accept 5,000 Kosova refugees, but a lower-ranking
official says the country cannot afford to take in that
many. First, Foreign Minister Kavan says his ministry is
working on a "peace plan" for the conflict, then he says
it is a "political initiative," finally insisting that
it is a "supplement" to the G-8 plan that contains
"suggestions" for NATO with regard to the conflict.
	Obviously, there are differences between the
positions of Havel and Zeman. Havel is finishing off
what will be his last term as president, having never
been directly elected by the Czech people. Zeman, in
contrast, is at the head of a minority government, and
both the government and Klaus's party are aware that a
growing number of Czechs are opposed to the NATO bombing
campaign. On the other hand, Zeman is aware that as a
new member of NATO, his country cannot adopt an attitude
that would be perceived as breaking the alliance's unity
on the Kosova conflict. Hence the wavering attitude
toward the NATO campaign in Yugoslavia.
	The problem is that the wavering has been noticed
in the West. And if its neighbors and allies--not to
mention countries like China--are to take the Czech
Republic seriously as an independent state, some of
Prague's politicians will have to start working out
common and firm stances on key foreign-policy issues.
	On the home front, perhaps the Czech public would
be more appreciative of a government that showed some
leadership and took a firm stand on issues such as the
Kosova conflict. While many Social Democrats may bemoan
the fact that they are losing support to the Communists
in the polls "because of Yugoslavia," they themselves
can hardly deny that few things look worse than a
government that wavers in the face of a major
international crisis.

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