There is always one moment in childhood when the door opens and lets the future in. - Graham Greene
RFE/RL NEWSLINE

RFE/RL NEWSLINE Vol. 3, No. 116, Part II, 15 June 1999


________________________________________________________
RFE/RL NEWSLINE Vol. 3, No. 116, Part II, 15 June 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


* FLU KEEPS POPE IN BED


* SERBIAN FORCES RETREAT FROM KOSOVA


* SERBIAN CIVILIAN EXODUS MOUNTS


END NOTE: IS ROMANIA THE FUTURE OF SLOVAKIA?
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CENTRAL AND EASTERN EUROPE


BELARUSIAN PEASANT PARTY DEFIES REREGISTRATION DECREE.
The Belarusian Peasant Party has refused to comply with
the presidential decree on reregistration of political
parties and public associations in Belarus, RFE/RL's
Belarusian Service reported on 14 June. Under the
decree, all Belarusian parties and organizations are
obliged to reregister with the Justice Ministry by 1
July. "We think that this decree violates the
constitution, in particular, Article 101 part 2, which
stipulates that the president has no right to issue
decrees that change the basic law. Therefore, [the
reregistration] is an anti-constitutional action," party
leader Mikhail Antanenka told RFE/RL. According to the
Justice Ministry, only some 10 percent of the public
organizations in Belarus have reregistered. JM


OSCE LAUNCHES POLITICAL DIALOGUE IN BELARUS, BUT WITHOUT
GOVERNMENT. Representatives of the Belarusian opposition
and NGOs participated in the OSCE-sponsored hearings on
Belarus in Bucharest on 11-14 June. OSCE official Adrian
Severin told RFE/RL's Belarusian Service on 14 June that
the main goal of the hearings was to find a "solution to
how to hold free and fair elections [in Belarus]...which
could be recognized on both the domestic and
international level." Severin said the hearings were
successful in working out a single stance of the
Belarusian opposition on the issue of elections, adding
that the meeting has inaugurated a "long and difficult
process" of political dialogue in Belarus. Official
Minsk, though invited, boycotted the Bucharest meeting.
JM


KUCHMA SUPPLIES SIGNATURES IN SUPPORT OF HIS RE-ELECTION
BID. The electoral staff of Ukrainian President Leonid
Kuchma on 14 June submitted voter registration forms
with nearly 2 million signatures supporting Kuchma's re-
election bid in the 31 October presidential elections.
Each of the 18 candidates registered by the Central
Electoral Commission must collect at least 1 million
signatures by 13 July in order to be allowed to run.
Meanwhile, former Premier Pavlo Lazarenko, who is
seeking political asylum in the U.S., has announced that
he has dropped out of the presidential race. Lazarenko
accused the government of a harassment campaign against
his supporters in Ukraine and urged them to support any
of the contenders who oppose Kuchma. JM


UKRAINE'S OIL, GAS EXTRACTION DOWN, COAL MINING UP.
Ukraine's oil and gas production decreased by 3.8
percent and 0.7 percent respectively in January-May
1999, compared to the same period last year. The
Naftohaz state company reported that Ukraine extracted
1.5 million tons of oil and 7.3 billion cubic meters of
gas in the first five months of 1999. The coal
production in the same period totaled 33.5 million tons,
increasing by 1.9 percent compared to last year. The
increase is attributed to the fact that the government
has managed to increase the level of cash payments for
the mined coal. According to First Deputy Premier
Volodymyr Kuratchenko, 65 percent of the bill for the
coal mined last month was paid in cash. JM


LATVIAN PREMIER IN FINLAND LOBBYING FOR EU SPOT. Vilis
Kristopans made a one-day visit to Helsinki on 14 June,
BNS reported. With a mainly EU-related agenda,
Kristopans met with several high-ranking officials,
including Finland's minister of European affairs and
foreign trade, Kimo Sassi, to discuss Latvia's bid to
join the "front-running" group for EU membership. BNS
reported that Sassi believes there is good chance Latvia
will be promoted to that group at the Helsinki European
Council summit later this year. MH


RUSSIAN DEPUTY FOREIGN MINISTER IN LITHUANIA...
Aleksandr Avdeev met with Lithuanian President Valdas
Adamkus in Vilnius on 14 June, BNS reported. Avdeev
noted his "surprise" at the continued orientation of
Lithuania's oil industry to the West and the fact that
Lithuania chose to "purchase oil from Rotterdam at a
higher price" than oil from Russia would cost. The two
also discussed the upcoming visit of Prime Minister
Rolandas Paksas to Moscow on 29 June, while Avdeev
extended an invitation from President Boris Yeltsin for
Adamkus to visit Russia. Avdeev is in Lithuania for the
foreign ministers meeting of the Council of Baltic Sea
States (CBSS) being held in Palanga from 14-15 June. He
is there in place of Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov, who
stayed in Moscow because of the military deployment in
Kosova. MH


...AS IS UKRAINIAN FOREIGN MINISTER. Borys Tarasyuk,
accompanied by a trade delegation, was also in Lithuania
on 14 June. Tarasyuk met with President Adamkus to
discuss wide-ranging bilateral and international issues,
with the focus on economic issues. In response to
Lithuanian concerns that Ukraine's across-the-board
import tariffs violate a free trade agreement, Tarasyuk
said: "These are not import tariffs, just an extra,
small levy on imported goods," according to ELTA.
Tarasyuk will also attend the CBSS meeting, as Ukraine
holds observer status. MH


POLISH NURSES STAGE SIT-INS TO DEMAND HIGHER SALARIES.
Nurses in Poland have stepped up a pay protest by
staging sit-ins in regional health fund offices
throughout the country, PAP reported on 14 June. The
nurses demand that their monthly salary be increased to
some 2,000 zlotys ($500). "There is something gravely
wrong if a hospital director makes 25,000 zlotys a
month, an ordinary health employee earns 1,700, a
cleaner gets 1,000, but a nurse's base pay is only 600
zlotys," Reuters quoted a nurses' trade union activist
as saying. JM


POLISH SOCIAL DEMOCRATS TO DISSOLVE THEIR PARTY. The
Social Democracy of the Polish Republic (SdRP), the
party of reformed communists created after the collapse
of communism in Poland, is to be dissolved at a party
congress on 16 June. It is expected that SdRP members
will join the Democratic Left Alliance, the new party
created one month ago from the namesake election
coalition between the SdRP and the leftist All-Poland
Trade Union Alliance. Adam Herman--liquidator of the
assets of the Communist-era Polish United Workers Party
to which the SdRP was legal successor--told PAP that the
SdRP is trying to avoid paying its debts to the state
treasury. According to Herman, the SdRP owns some 60
million zlotys ($15 million) to the state. SdRP General
Secretary Krzysztof Janik has said the party will repay
2.4 million zlotys it owes to the state on 15 June. JM


FLU KEEPS POPE IN BED. Pope John Paul II, stricken with
flu on 14 June, has canceled all his public appearances
in Krakow and Gliwice on 15 June and will remain in bed,
Vatican spokesman Joaquin Navarro-Valls announced.
Navarro-Valls added that no decision has been made yet
about the pope's schedule for the rest of the week. John
Paul was to stay in Poland until 18 June, then make a
quick trip to Armenia to visit the ailing Orthodox
Patriarch Garegin I before returning to Rome. JM


CZECH PRESIDENT TO VISIT KOSOVA THIS MONTH...
Presidential spokesman Ladislav Spacek on 14 June
announced that Vaclav Havel will visit Kosova "and
probably other places in the Balkans" at the end of
June, shortly after a visit to Prague by Macedonian
President Kiro Gligorov, CTK reported. Havel announced
his intention to visit Albania and Macedonia already one
month ago, saying he will "not go there because it is
fashionable," but "to mediate and aid people who are
suffering." Also on 14 June, Spacek told CTK that Havel
believes the situation created by the Russian presence
in Kosova was "not as serious as to arouse excessive
fears." This followed a telephone conversation Havel had
with U.S. President Bill Clinton, who told him that
talks on reaching an agreement on the Russian
participation in KFOR had "developed positively." MS


...WILL NOT INTERFERE IN THE DEBATES ON PRESS LAW.
Reacting to the recent appeal of the World Association
of Newspapers (WAN, see "RFE/RL Newsline," 14 June
1999), Havel said through his spokesman that he does not
intend to "in any way interfere" in the deputies'
debates on the government-proposed press law. MS


SLOVAKIA RATES FIRST IN EUROPE IN GRANTING ASYLUM.
Slovak Emigration Office director Bernard Priecel on 14
June told CTK that Slovakia rates first in Europe in
regard to the ratio of refugees to whom asylum has been
granted to those who requested that status. Since 1993
until the end of May this year, 2,566 refugees applied
for asylum and the status was granted to 478 people.
Priecel said that 378 applications were rejected and
asylum-granting procedures were canceled in 1,502 cases.
Proceedings for 158 applications are underway. Priecel
admitted, however, that Slovakia is still considered by
most refugees as a "transit country" and not a "final
destination." MS


ORBAN WORRIES ABOUT VOJVODINA HUNGARIANS. Hungarian
Prime Minister Viktor Orban on 14 June told the Western
European Union assembly in Paris that the 350,000 ethnic
Hungarians in Vojvodina might become Yugoslav President
Slobodan Milosevic's next target. Orban said that the
most dangerous time for the Hungarian minority has ended
with the conclusion of NATO air strikes, but he added
that he fears Serbs fleeing Kosova would be settled in
Vojvodina. "This would further upset a demographic
balance already shaken up in recent years by the arrival
of quarter of a million Serbs from Bosnia," he
explained. MSZ


BUDAPEST EXPLOSIONS MIGHT HERALD NEW GANG WARS. The car
of a businessman involved in casinos and slot machines
exploded on 14 June in Budapest, slightly injuring one
person. The blast came just two days after an apparent
assassination attempt and two other explosions. Police
spokesman Laszlo Garamvolgyi said that the car explosion
does not appear to be related to the weekend incidents.
The daily "Vilaggazdasag" reports, however, that police
fear the bombings are the first step in a renewed
underworld war. MSZ


SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE


SERBIAN FORCES RETREAT FROM KOSOVA... A spokesman for
German peacekeepers said in Prizren on 15 June that all
Serbian military, police, and paramilitary forces have
left the area. A Defense Department spokesman noted in
Washington the previous day that Serbian forces are
"making a strong effort" to withdraw from Kosova in
accordance with the deadlines set down in the recent
agreement between Belgrade and NATO. The spokesman noted
that "the roads are jammed [and Serbian commanders] are
having a hard time getting [their forces] out." In Peja,
AP reported that some of the retreating Serbs engaged in
a "final spree of burning, shooting, and alleged rapes."
One Serbian officer said: "We're finishing up." PM


...AS CIVILIAN EXODUS MOUNTS. Thousands of Serbs
continue to flee Kosova on 15 June (see "RFE/RL
Newsline," 14 June 1999). It is unclear how many intend
to leave permanently and how many want to stay
temporarily in Serbia or Montenegro to see how the
situation in Kosova shapes up. Momcilo Trajkovic, who is
the leader of the Serbian Resistance Movement in Kosova
and a critic of Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic,
called on the international community to protect the
remaining Serbs. He stressed that the Serbs will have no
choice but to defend themselves if they feel they are in
danger, the Belgrade daily "Danas" reported on 15 June.
Trajkovic urged Serbs to stay and work for a political
solution in the province. He also warned Belgrade
politicians not to use the Serbs of Kosova for their own
political purposes. PM


WHAT IS GOING ON IN DECAN? An unspecified number of
fighters of the Kosova Liberation Army (UCK) attacked
several ethnic Serbian villages in the Rahovec and Decan
areas, prompting Serbs to seek refuge in local
monasteries, "Danas" reported on 15 June. Some 200
villagers took refuge in the Decan monastery alone. Two
days earlier, Bishop Artemije, who is the leading
Serbian Orthodox cleric in the province, said in a
statement that KFOR "is arriving too slowly" to protect
Serbs. It is not clear whether peacekeepers have
meanwhile reached the monasteries. PM


ETHNIC ALBANIANS CELEBRATE IN PRIZREN. Thousands of
Kosovars staged a massive street party in Prizren to
celebrate the departure of Serbian troops and the
arrival of German KFOR peacekeepers, Deutsche Welle
reported on 15 June. One Kosovar told "The New York
Times" that the Serbs "will never come back. Kosova is
Albanian." He added that "ninety percent" of the Serbian
population "has bloody hands." PM


EVIDENCE OF ATROCITIES MOUNTS. Dutch peacekeepers found
some 20 charred bodies in a village near Prizren,
Reuters reported on 15 June. The UCK tipped the Dutch
off about the atrocity. German KFOR troops found a mass
grave in the area containing 71 bodies, RFE/RL's South
Slavic Service reported. Elsewhere, both U.K. and U.S.
peacekeepers found further evidence of mass burials in
the province, the BBC reported. In Kacanik, British
troops continue to put together details of the apparent
"mass slaughter" of Kosovars by Serbian forces this
spring, "The Guardian" wrote (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 14
June 1999). NATO officials said they are concerned that
Kosovars will inadvertently destroy evidence of war
crimes in their haste to give victims a decent burial.
Observers note that the villagers are generally simple
people with little understanding of the role and
practices of forensics. PM


NATO ARRESTS UCK FIGHTERS IN DEATH OF SERB. British KFOR
troops arrested five suspected UCK guerrillas in
Prishtina in conjunction with the shooting death of a
Serb the previous night, a British military spokesman
said in London on 15 June. The spokesman stressed: "What
we're trying to achieve is a stable situation. People
wandering around with weapons and shooting at us or each
other is clearly not acceptable." PM


ANNAN PRESENTS KOSOVA ADMINISTRATION PLAN TO SECURITY
COUNCIL. UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan presented his
finalized plan for a civil UN administration for Kosova
to the Security Council on 14 June, Reuters reported.
The plan puts the EU in charge of reconstruction and
gives the OSCE primary responsibility for establishing
democratic institutions, organizing elections, and
monitoring human rights. The UNHCR will take charge of
the resettlement of refugees and displaced persons. The
UN Interim Administration Mission in Kosovo [UNMIK] will
administer the police, justice, schools, public
transport, telecommunications, and power plants. An
international police unit of up to 2,000 will oversee
the establishment of a Kosova police force. On 12 June,
Annan appointed UN Undersecretary-General Sergio Vieira
de Mello of Brazil as interim special representative. FS


MORE REFUGEES RETURN TO KOSOVA FROM ALBANIA. Hundreds of
refugees returned to Kosova despite efforts by UCK
soldiers to stop them from doing so until conditions are
safe, AP reported. Meanwhile, many Albanian inhabitants
of villages in the border region returned to their
homes, an RFE/RL correspondent reported from Tirana. The
border region was mostly calm with the exception of an
exchange of fire near the village of Letaj, but no
details are available. Serbian forces fired several
artillery shells into Dobruna in the same area, which is
the site of a UCK base. Another RFE/RL correspondent
reported that many UCK fighters came down from the
border region into Prizren to look for their families
and inspect their homes. FS


IMF GIVES NEW LOAN TO ALBANIA. Officials from the
International Monetary Fund (IMF) told Reuters in
Washington that they have given a $12.9 million loan to
Albania. The IMF will also increase the credits
available to Albania under a 1998 agreement by $13.1
million to $60.6 million. IMF officials said the impact
of the refugee crisis on Albania's inflation and
economic growth will be small because other foreign
donors are covering most refugee-related costs. The IMF
officials issued a statement saying that if "the
refugees...have returned home by early 2000, foreign
direct investment resumes, and fiscal consolidation and
structural reforms continue as programmed, growth is
expected to average 7 to 8 percent a year, while
inflation stabilizes at industrial country levels." FS


MILOSEVIC LAUNCHING CAMPAIGN? Milosevic made a rare
public appearance on 14 June, ostensibly to inaugurate
the reconstruction of destroyed bridges in Novi Sad. He
praised what he called the unity and determination of
the population during the NATO air strikes. Some 10,000
people turned out to greet him, state-run television
reported. He moved about in the crowd with what the
"Berliner Zeitung" called the appearance of a politician
on the stump. Elections are not due until 2000, but the
opposition wants them to take place this fall. PM


DJUKANOVIC: MIXED MESSAGE ON INDEPENDENCE. Montenegrin
President Milo Djukanovic said in Bucharest on 14 June
that his mountainous republic will continue to work for
reform, democracy, and the promotion of good relations
between Balkan countries, Romanian Television reported.
He stressed that Montenegro will realize its aims, with
or without Serbia. He added, however, that the time is
not yet ripe for holding a referendum on independence
and that he does not consider independence the only way
to achieve his goals, the Romanian broadcast quoted him
as saying. PM


MEIDANI: BOTH KOSOVA AND MONTENEGRO MUST BE INDEPENDENT.
Albanian President Rexhep Meidani said in Bonn that both
Kosova and Montenegro should become independent of
Yugoslavia, the "Berliner Zeitung" reported on 15 June.
He urged that all European countries become part of one
federal state on the U.S. model. He stressed that an
independent Kosova and Montenegro integrated into a
united Europe would be a factor for stability. PM


KOSCHNICK CALLS FOR FIRMNESS. Hans Koschnick, who is
Germany's special envoy for the Balkans and a former EU
administrator in Mostar, told the "Berliner Zeitung" of
15 June that it is "impossible" to use compromise as a
means of solving difficulties in the Balkans. He
stressed that a willingness to compromise with the
parties on the ground will be taken by each of them as a
sign of weakness. Any partition of Kosova will lead to
demands for a wholesale redrawing of frontiers on the
peninsula, Koschnick warned. He stressed that refugees
will gladly go home once they feel they will be secure
there. He urged that international reconstruction aid be
well coordinated and that it be extended to the Serbs as
well. PM


BOSNIAN SERB MINE CLEARERS FOR KOSOVA. An official of
the UNHCR told Reuters in Sarajevo on 14 June that a
group of Bosnian Serb mine-clearing specialists will
soon leave for Kosova. "It is quicker to send people
from here now than to train people" from Kosova, the
official said. The German non-governmental organization
HELP will help organize the mission. HELP sponsors two
Serbian, two Croatian, and two Muslim demining teams in
Bosnia, and may send some of the Croats and Muslims to
Kosova as well. PM


ROMANIA REFUSES RUSSIAN OVERFLIGHTS TO KOSOVA. President
Emil Constantinescu on 14 June said Romania is refusing
a Russian request to allow overflight transportation of
troops to Kosova without prior approval of those flights
by the UN Security Council, RFE/RL's Bucharest bureau
reported. "Even if the UN gave that permission, the
request would have to follow the same procedure as that
which has applied to the NATO overflight request, that
is to say it would have to be approved by the
parliament," Constantinescu said. In other news, U.S.
President Bill Clinton on 14 June phoned Premier Radu
Vasile, thanking him for the position adopted by
Bucharest in the Kosova conflict. MS


ROMANIAN PRESIDENT INTERVENES IN LABOR CONFLICT.
Representatives of the teachers' trade unions will meet
on 15 June with Premier Vasile in an attempt to end the
teachers' strike. The move follows President
Constantinescu's intervention one day earlier. The
president met with the unions' leaders and phoned Vasile
in their presence, requesting the resumption of the
parleys between the government and the strikers,
RFE/RL's Bucharest bureau reported. MS


ROMANIAN SENATOR CALL FOR ANTONESCU'S REHABILITATION.
Senator Ion Moisin, a member of the ruling National
Peasant Party Christian Democratic, demanded on 14 June
that the Senate pass a resolution for the rehabilitation
of Romania's wartime leader, Marshal Ion Antonescu,
Mediafax reported. He said Antonescu had been "a great
Romanian patriot, who fought for his country till his
death." Antonescu was executed in 1946 as a war
criminal. Moisin said that unlike the recently-
rehabilitated Romanian spy chief, General Ion Mihai
Pacepa, who served the Communist regime, Antonescu
"fought against the USSR, and liberated Bessarabia and
Bukovina." He also denied Antonescu bore any
responsibility for the Holocaust, claiming that "on the
contrary, he saved the lives of hundreds of thousands of
Jews, refusing to carry out Adolf Hitler's order to send
them to Germany." Moisin's demand was supported by
independent Senator Sergiu Nicolaescu. MS


MOLDOVAN PRESIDENT ASKS CONSTITUTIONAL COURT TO RULE ON
REFERENDUM. Presidential spokesman Anatol Golea on 14
June told journalists that President Petru Lucinschi
will ask the Constitutional Court to rule whether the
resolution adopted by the parliament on 10 June is in
line with the constitution. The resolution says a
referendum is invalid if less than 60 percent of
eligible voters participate in it and was adopted in
reaction to the Central Electoral Commission's
validation of the 23 May non-binding referendum on
changing the parliamentary system into a presidential
one (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 7 and 8 June 1999). Golea
also hinted that Moldovan parliament members were behind
a declaration adopted by the Central European Initiative
at its Prague meeting of 6-8 June that stated "concern
over political developments in Moldova, where
parliamentary democracy is endangered by anti-
democratic, authoritative tendencies that could lead to
destabilization." MS


BULGARIA DENIES MOSCOW REQUEST FOR AIR SPACE. Government
spokeswoman Stoyana Georgieva on 14 June said the
government will withhold permission from Russia to use
its air space for flights to Kosova until NATO and
Moscow reach an agreement on the implementation of the
international peacekeeping operation in that region,
Reuters reported (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 14 June 1999).
Georgieva also said that the Bulgarian government has
"many times said that a partition of Kosovo would be
against Bulgaria's national interests." In other news,
an RFE/RL correspondent in Sofia on 14 June reported
that a two-week NATO naval exercise began off the
Bulgarian Black Sea coast. Participants include the
U.S., Turkey, Romania, and Bulgaria. MS


END NOTE


IS ROMANIA THE FUTURE OF SLOVAKIA?


By Michael Shafir


    An interesting analysis of the Slovak parliamentary
and presidential elections has been recently provided by
two members of the Slovak Academy of Sciences, Jan
Buncak and Valentina Harmadyova. The two Slovak
sociologists, unlike other analysts of the Slovak scene,
do not believe that the victory of the four-party
coalition in the ballot conducted for the legislature
last autumn, or Rudolf Schuster's May victory over
former Premier Vladimir Meciar in the presidential
elections are an indication of the Slovak electorate's
move to the right of the political spectrum.
    Buncak and Harmadyova point out that there are
right and left forces both in the new coalition and in
the opposition, as they emerged after the parliamentary
ballot. The real confrontation, the two sociologists
show, is between approaches to reform. One orientation
is to the West, the other towards an "own Slovak path,"
the latter being embodied by Meciar and his Movement for
a Democratic Slovakia (HZDS), but also including such
rightist parties as the Slovak National Party.
Schuster's own political views, they point out, would
place him more on the left side of the political
spectrum, yet that part of the Slovak left has
apparently concluded that only emulation of the West in
introducing reform can take Slovakia out of the economic
dead end which it had reached under Meciar's rule.
Precisely the opposite is true for the other side of the
spectrum. The opposition, Buncak says, though divided
between left-center and right oriented streams, is
nonetheless "united by the unwillingness to accept
standard methods and by the effort to seek an original
Slovak solution."
    Harmadyova points out that psychological, rather
than political factors, play an important role in this
cleavage. The "Slovak-oriented" side, she says, is also
connected with "the traditional Slovak countryside
community." It is made up of "people who accept changes
only with difficulties." Both sociologists conclude that
the division reflected in the last elections is more one
between town and countryside orientations.
     Three caveats arise here, however. First, there is
nothing either new, nor indeed originally Slovak about
this division. "Urbanists" and "populists" have been
known to confront one another under different names
through the eastern part of the European continent for
longer than a century. Second, Buncak and Harmadyova
overlook what political scientists call the
"performance" criterion. After all, Meciar and his HZDS
lost the elections not because the structure of the
population underwent a radical change in the last four
years, but simply because the "Slovakia's way" recipe
had produced nothing but an economic dead end combined
with increasingly apparent evidence of corruption among
Meciar cronies. Finally, they also fail to consider the
ethnicity factor. It is not an exaggeration to state
that it was the Hungarian vote that decided the outcome
of both elections and that this vote cut across the
classical town-village division.
   These caveats, in turn, are food for thought for
further speculation. If the town-countryside division
could be overcome due to the "performance criterion,"
this means the outcome of the elections is also easily
reversible. In other words, unless the four-party
coalition implements its intentions and proceeds to
austerity measures and radical reforms, then in four
years the electorate will remember the former and fail
to benefit from the latter. "Declarations of intent" are
simply destined to be short-lived, as the Romanian case
amply demonstrates. In that country, the Democratic
Convention of Romania (CDR) in 1996 had displaced the
Party of Social Democracy in Romania (PDSR), whose
social base, like that of the HZDS, is in the
countryside and in smaller urban settlements, precisely
because of the "performance record" of the PDSR. Now,
most polls indicate that the PDSR and its leader, former
President Ion Iliescu, are likely to win the next
elections. Instead of having implemented its program,
the CDR, fearing social unrest at the earliest stage of
its rule, has plunged the country into the "NATO
membership" substitute. Having failed to achieve the
latter, it is now left without credibility (and probably
running out of time) for its capacity to lead the way to
the former.
    Slovakia may be more fortunate, for the government
of Premier Mikulas Dzurinda has made admission to the EU
"fast track" group, rather than NATO membership, its
main target, and that, in itself, calls for "performance
evidence." But as viewed by the EU, such evidence must
come not only in economic, but also in political form.
And above all, the Slovaks are expected by the EU to
pass a minority-language bill. As in Romania, where the
Hungarian Democratic Federation of Romania has been a
member of the coalition but encountered difficulties in
achieving concrete results in the legislation it wants
to promote for the benefit of this minority, in Slovakia
the Hungarian Slovak Coalition, having once joined the
government, is facing opposition in the same quest. It
might not be a bad idea for Bratislava to take a better
look at Bucharest. It will find a lot of similarities,
starting from the inapplicability of the classic left-
right spectrum to believers in "Romania's way," a
category uniting leftists and rightists alike. This
glance may help the Slovaks avoid repeating the mistakes
of their Romanian peers.


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Natasha Bulashova, Greg Cole
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