Words that open our eyes to the world are always the easiest to remember. - Ryszard Kapuscinski
RFE/RL NEWSLINE

RFE/RL NEWSLINE Vol. 3, No. 119, Part II, 18 June 1999


________________________________________________________
RFE/RL NEWSLINE Vol. 3, No. 119, Part II, 18 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

* LATVIAN PARLIAMENT ELECTS VIKE-FREIBERGA AS NEW
PRESIDENT

* SERBS SET TO MEET WITHDRAWAL DEADLINE

* MAJKO, THACI, MACEDONIAN ALBANIAN LEADERS REJECT
"POLICY OF REVENGE"

END NOTE: KOSOVARS RUSH BACK TO THE FUTURE
xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

EAST-CENTRAL EUROPE

LUKASHENKA TO MAKE WEST BUY BELARUSIAN PRODUCTS. During
his visit to the "Khimvalakno" plant of chemical fibers
in Mahileu on 17 June, Belarusian President Alyaksandr
Lukashenka stressed that his country's main problem is
finding ways to sell its products abroad. "The main
thing is to sell, because we have a fight going on
today," Belarusian Television quoted him as saying. He
noted that Russia had opened its borders and could now
buy its fibers from countries other than Belarus.
Lukashenka added that Belarus can make the West buy
Belarusian products. "If they do not buy our goods, we
will keep them out [of Belarus]," he said. At the same
time, he pledged to "sort out things" with Poland,
Germany, and Turkey, and to "react adequately" to the
anti-dumping taxes imposed by these countries on
Belarusian goods, including chemical fibers. JM

UKRAINIAN, HUNGARIAN DEFENSE MINISTERS DISCUSS KOSOVA.
Ukrainian Defense Minister Oleksandr Kuzmuk and his
Hungarian counterpart, Janos Szabo, discussed the Kosova
crisis in Kyiv on 17 June, MTI reported. Szabo and
Kuzmuk agreed that Russia has played a major role in
securing the Kosova peace agreement. They stressed,
however, that the process of stabilization and
democratization of Kosova and the rest of Yugoslavia
will take a long time. The ministers agreed that
Ukrainian and Hungarian military experts will continue
talks on setting up a joint battalion. In other news,
British Defense Secretary George Robertson said in Kyiv
the next day that NATO will welcome Ukrainian troops as
part of the Kosova peacekeeping force. JM

UKRAINE TO SELL 50 PERCENT OF SHARES IN LVIV BUS PLANT.
The State Property Fund on 17 June announced a tender
for the purchase of a 50 percent stake in the Lviv Bus
Plant (LAZ), the country's monopoly bus-manufacturer.
According to Interfax, the sale is one of the World
Bank's conditions for granting Ukraine a $100 million
loan to develop its enterprises. The fund set the
starting price at 11.54 million hryvni ($2.92 million).
In addition, prospective investors must promise to
provide LAZ with $5.3 million in cash within a year and
to invest $15 million within four years. JM

ESTONIAN PM IN AUSTRIA. Prime Minister Mart Laar on 17
June met in Vienna with Austrian Chancellor Viktor Klima
and Foreign Minister Wolfgang Schussel to discuss
bilateral relations and EU enlargement. Laar stressed
Estonia's desire to see Latvia and Lithuania included in
EU accession negotiations, but he also expressed
concerns over Latvia's import duties on pork, according
to BNS. MH

LATVIAN PARLIAMENT ELECTS VIKE-FREIBERGA AS NEW
PRESIDENT... The Latvian Parliament elected Vaira Vike-
Freiberga as Latvia's new president on 17 June. Vike-
Freiberga received 53 votes in support of her candidacy
from For Fatherland and Freedom, a member of the
governing coalition, as well as from the Social
Democratic Workers' Party and People's Party. Foreign
Minister Valdis Birkavs of Latvia's Way gained 20 votes,
while Economic Minister Ingrida Udre of the New Party
won nine votes. Vike-Freiberga was able to run for
president after she received confirmation on 16 June
that she no longer possesses Canadian citizenship. The
multi-lingual Vike-Freiberga is a linguist and
psychologist. Since 1998, she has headed the Latvian
Institute. MH

...AFTER FIRST ATTEMPT FAILS. The parliament failed in
its initial attempt to elect a new president on 17 June.
The first bid was canceled after five rounds of voting.
In the fifth round of voting, composer Raimonds Pauls of
the New Party defeated People's Party parliamentarian
Vaira Paegle by a vote of 33-24. However, a minimum of
51 votes are required to secure victory. Pauls then
withdrew his candidacy after it became clear that he
would not receive 51 votes even if he ran as the only
candidate. Latvia's Way candidate and Transport Minister
Anatolijs Gorbunovs was eliminated in the fourth round.
In the later rounds, several parties announced that they
would not cast votes for the remaining slate of
candidates. MH

LATVIAN SHIPPING COMPANY PRIVATIZATION FAILS?
The Latvian Privatization Agency announced on 17 June
that the two bids for the Latvian Shipping Company were
"inadequate," according to BNS. Two companies  Tufton
Oceanic Investments Limited and Eastwind Maritime S.A. 
presented bids for the shipping company before the 15
June deadline. The board of the privatization agency
declared both bids null and void because they had failed
to provide sufficient documentation. The issue now goes
back to the government. Several months ago, Finance
Minister Ivars Godmanis stressed the importance of the
shipping company's privatization for the 1999 state
budget. MH

POPE WINDS UP 13-DAY TRIP TO POLAND. Pope John Paul II
concluded his visit to Poland on 17 June with a mass at
Wawel Castle in Krakow, a visit to Jasna Gora sanctuary
in Czestochowa, and an unexpected visit to Gliwice where
he was greeted by some 500,000 people. The visit to
Gliwice was originally scheduled for 15 June but did not
take place because of the pontiff's flu. "[Your visit]
was a great gift, an exceptional historic event which
concerned all of us, regardless of faith, political
views or nationality," Polish President Aleksander
Kwasniewski told the pope at the good-bye ceremony. "I
have another home. You sent me there. I'm going back to
the Vatican," the pope told a crowd chanting "Stay with
us!" at the Krakow airport. JM

CZECH SENATE APPROVES CHAMBER DECISION ON KFOR FORCE. In
a 49-3 vote, the Senate on 17 June approved the Chamber
of Deputies' decision of earlier this week to send up to
800 peacekeeping troops to Kosova. Seven out of the 14
Senators from the ruling Czech Social Democratic Party
who were present abstained from the vote. Also on 17
June, UN Human Rights Commissioner for Yugoslavia Jiri
Dienstbier said that the same criteria must be applied
to all Balkan countries, including Serbia, for a
"comprehensive approach to a Balkan renewal." Dienstbier
said it would be "wrong" not to extend help to Serbia
simply because Slobodan Milosevic is in power. In an
interview with the daily "Pravo" on the same day,
Dienstbier said the Kosova Liberation Army (UCK) should
be "immediately disarmed," adding that any toleration of
an armed UCK presence "would amount to the utmost
political failure and the complete discrediting of the
West". MS

CZECH TOWN COUNCIL BACKS FENCING OFF ROMA. The Usti nad
Labem city council on 17 June approved a resolution
stating that the decision of one of the town's districts
to build a fence partitioning Roma off from other local
residents was not an infringement of Czech law, CTK
reported. Local residents argue that the ceramic fence
is aimed at protecting them from the noise and rubbish
created by the Roma. The city council meeting was called
at the request of the government, which opposes the
construction of the fence. Of the 25 city councilors,
only one Social Democrat and one Communist opposed the
decision. The government's human rights commissioner,
Petr Uhl, described the city council decision as
illegal, adding that the Chamber of Deputies will now
have to decide on the issue. MS

SLOVAK FOREIGN MINISTER CALLS FOR 'CONSISTENT DISARMING'
OF UCK. Eduard Kukan, who is also UN special envoy for
Kosova, on 17 June called for a "more consistent
disarming" of the Kosova Liberation Army (UCK). Kukan
said that there are "differences" of opinion between the
UN and NATO. He said the UN is opposed to allowing UCK
members to keep light personal arms and wear uniforms,
CTK reported. Meanwhile, Prime Minister Mikulas Dzurinda
refused to confirm or dismiss media reports that
Bratislava has not permitted Russian planes to fly over
Slovakia on their way to Kosova. "The cabinet has
discussed the issue at a closed session and that is why
I will not comment on it," he said. MS

SLOVAKIA TO ENLARGE KFOR CONTINGENT? NATO Secretary
General Javier Solana on 17 June said that Slovakia
would show it "shares the same values" as other NATO
members if it decides to expand its KFOR units. He said
that "adherence to joint values and objectives will
undoubtedly create conditions for Slovakia to become
part of this organization," CTK reported. Earlier on 17
June, Justice Minister Jan Carnogursky called for a
larger Slovak contribution to KFOR. Prime Minister
Mikulas Dzurinda said the government has not decided on
the issue yet. MS

SLOVAK NATIONALIST PARTY TORN BY CONFLICT. Slovak
National Party (SNS) leader Jan Slota on 17 June called
former Education Minister Eva Slavkovska "an obsolete
Bolshevik" who "spreads rumors and misinformation in the
SNS," CTK reported. Slota was reacting to Slavkovska's
criticism of his behavior in a Bratislava pub, where,
according to a report in the tabloid "Novy cas," he was
drunk during President Rudolf Schuster's inauguration
ceremony. Slota said in reaction to the report that he
could not be expected "to drink soda water" in a pub. He
also called SNS deputy chairwoman Anna Malikova "an
unsatisfied spinster" who has "failed to get married and
give birth to a Slovak boy... [and now] seeks
compensation in politics". Malikova had earlier
criticized Slota's behavior. MS

SERBIAN OPPOSITION POLITICIAN MEETS HUNGARIAN TOP
OFFICIALS. Hungarian Foreign Ministry state secretary
Zsolt Nemeth on 17 June told visiting Yugoslav
opposition politician Zoran Djindjic that President
Slobodan Milosevic "must go in order for Serbia to have
democracy." He said the Hungarian government supports
Serbia's rapprochement with Europe, but he added that
this is conditional on restoring democracy, including
freedom of the press, human and minority rights, and
autonomy for Vojvodina's Hungarians. Djindjic said the
opposition in Belgrade is urging the population to
engage in civil disobedience, as "Milosevic can only be
forced to leave through massive street demonstrations."
MSZ

HUNGARIAN PRIME MINISTER PROMISES ACTION PLAN FOR ROMA.
"A concrete action plan will be drafted every year to
implement a medium-term package of measures aimed at
improving the situation of Roma," Viktor Orban said on
17 June, after meeting with Florian Farkas, chairman of
the National Gypsy Authority. The first plan will be
drafted at the end of the year by Donchev Toso, chairman
of the Office for National and Ethnic Minorities, in
cooperation with the Gypsy Authority. Farkas said the
meeting proved that "the government does not want a
Hungary without Roma." MSZ

MILITARY PERSONNEL CHANGES EXPECTED IN HUNGARY. Defense
Minister Janos Szabo will initiate the dismissal of
armed forces chief of staff Ferenc Vegh and one of his
deputies, Nandor Hollosi, before September, "Magyar
Hirlap" reported on 18 June. A government official
speaking on condition of anonymity said that "the
general staff must merge into the ministry and not the
other way around," adding that "we shall run over anyone
who opposes the government's plans." Szabo has
reportedly put off major personnel changes until the
fall because of the Kosova crisis. MSZ

SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE

SERBS SET TO MEET WITHDRAWAL DEADLINE. Serbian forces
appear to be on course to meet the deadline of midnight
on 18 June for their withdrawal from central Kosova,
Reuters reported from Prishtina. A KFOR spokesman said
that at least 26,000 out of a total of 40,000 Serbian
forces throughout Kosova are now gone as part of a
retreat slated to end at midnight on 20 June. NATO
forces  now numbering 15,000  continue to advance
northward amid warm receptions from local ethnic
Albanians, Sky News television added. A brief standoff
between British peacekeepers and Serbian forces in
Podujeva ended when the Serbs withdrew. The previous day
witnessed long traffic jams on several roads in Kosova
as thousands of refugees returned while Serbian
civilians fled. One group of Serbs left under the
protection of Greek troops, who were the only KFOR
peacekeepers whom the Serbs said they trusted, RFE/RL's
South Slavic Service reported. Some Kosovars said they
saw Serbs driving stolen Kosovar vehicles, AP reported.
PM

UNARMED UCK SOLDIERS HELP KFOR REGISTER REFUGEES.
Unarmed Kosova Liberation Army (UCK) guerrillas in
civilian dress helped German KFOR soldiers to
register refugees at the Morina border crossing on
17 June, Reuters reported. A German official said
that the guerrillas help KFOR identify other
guerrillas and also known criminals. The German
troops did not allow non-UCK refugees to return to
Kosova carrying weapons but permitted guerrillas to
keep their arms if they had UCK identification.
About 13,000 refugees crossed into Kosova on 17
June, according to UNHCR officials in Geneva. In
Kukes, a gang of 20 armed Albanian villagers
injured an Albanian guard during two attempts to
loot a refugee camp, a spokeswoman for Medecins
sans Frontieres (MSF) told AFP. Albanian police
arrested 16 assailants. FS

WERE 10,000 KOSOVARS MASSACRED? NATO peacekeepers have
learned of or discovered some 90 alleged mass grave
sites since KFOR entered Kosova last weekend, the
"International Herald Tribune" reported on 18 June.
Additional evidence of Serbian atrocities is coming to
light on a daily basis (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 17 June
1999). A British spokesman said that Serbian forces
killed some 10,000 Kosovars with a savagery that
"beggared belief" since March. British investigators at
the recently discovered Serbian police torture center in
Prishtina said they are hopeful that the documents found
there will enable the Hague-based war crimes tribunal to
link top officials in Belgrade to the systematic
carrying out of atrocities in Kosova, the BBC reported.
PM

CHIRAC: ONLY DEMOCRACY WILL BRING BALKAN PEACE. French
President Jacques Chirac said at a meeting with his U.S.
counterpart, Bill Clinton, on 17 June in Paris that
"democracy is the precondition for tolerance" and
stability in the Balkans, the "Frankfurter Allgemeine
Zeitung" reported. He repeated the warning of many
Western leaders that there will be no reconstruction aid
for Serbia so long as Yugoslav President Slobodan
Milosevic remains in power. Chirac added, however, that
humanitarian aid will be available for Serbs because the
West does not want to punish innocent victims of
Milosevic's policies. Clinton noted that if Milosevic
"remains in Serbia...presumably he is beyond the reach
of the extradition power of the other governments." The
U.S. leader added: "I do not believe that the NATO
allies can invade Belgrade to try to deliver the
indictment" against Milosevic recently issued by the
Hague-based war crimes tribunal. PM

U.S. PROMOTING PLURALISM IN SERBIA. U.S. special envoy
Robert Gelbard and other unnamed officials met last
weekend on the Montenegrin coast with prominent Serbs
and Montenegrins opposed to Milosevic, AP reported on 18
June. Among those attending were Serbian Democratic
Party leader Zoran Djindjic, former Yugoslav Prime
Minister Milan Panic, Montenegrin Deputy Prime Minister
Novak Kilibarda, economist Dragoslav Avramovic, former
General Vuk Obradovic, and several others. The U.S.
officials stressed that they want to see greater
pluralism in Serbia but added that Milosevic's eventual
ouster is a matter for the Serbs themselves. The U.S.
representatives added that Washington does not support
or finance any one opposition politician or party. The
officials noted that Clinton will show his support for
Montenegrin President Milo Djukanovic by meeting with
him in Slovenia this coming week. Kilibarda quoted
Gelbard as saying that Momir Bulatovic, who is
Milosevic's leading backer in Montenegro, will soon be
indicted by the war crimes tribunal. PM

MAJKO, GEORGIEVSKI PLEDGE REGIONAL COOPERATION. Albanian
Prime Minister Pandeli Majko and his Macedonian
counterpart Ljubco Georgievski told journalists in
Skopje on 17 June that they agree on the creation of a
"new Balkans," an RFE/RL South Slavic Service
correspondent reported. Majko said that "where there are
Albanians in the Balkans, there is an interest in
cooperation." He added: "We...aim for cooperation, not
only with Macedonia, but also for the implementation of
peace in Kosova and for cooperation with the
[provisional UCK-backed] government of [Kosovar Prime
Minister Hashim] Thaci." Majko stressed that Thaci, who
met with Georgievski the previous day, "shares our
opinion" (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 17 June 1999). He
concluded that the three of them "will continue to work
with our colleague from Montenegro, [President] Milo
Djukanovic." FS

MAJKO, THACI, MACEDONIAN ALBANIAN LEADERS REJECT "POLICY
OF REVENGE." Majko and Thaci met with Arben Xhaferi of
Macedonia's Albanian Democratic Party and Abdurrahman
Aliti from the Party of Democratic Prosperity in Tetovo
on 17 June, an RFE/RL South Slavic Service correspondent
reported. Majko said that the meeting "sent the message
that the Albanians in the future will not follow a
policy based on revenge." Thaci disclosed that it was in
Tetovo where his UCK began its illegal activities in the
early 1990s. Thaci said that he is pleased that this
meeting could take place there now in a much changed
political climate. FS

EXPLOSION NEAR NATO OFFICES IN SKOPJE. A powerful bomb
destroyed a truck parked near NATO's headquarters in
Skopje in the early hours of 18 June. No other details
are available. A NATO spokesman said that an
investigation is under way. PM

HERZEGOVINIAN BRASS RESPONSIBLE FOR KILLINGS? British
Colonel Bob Stewart, who commanded UNPROFOR peacekeepers
in central Bosnia in 1993, told the war crimes tribunal
in The Hague on 17 June that the leadership of
Herzegovinian Croatian forces (HVO) must have known
about the massacres of Muslims that HVO troops carried
out in the Lasva Valley in 1993. Stewart was testifying
at the trial of Croatian Colonel Tihomir Blaskic for war
crimes in conjunction with atrocities committed by the
HVO in the village of Ahmici. Stewart attracted
attention in a BBC broadcast at the time in which he
insisted on entering Ahmici despite an HVO roadblock.
Stewart told the Herzegovinians: "I don't need the
permission of the bloody HVO. I'm the United Nations."
PM

DID RADISIC ABUSE HIS OFFICE? Zivko Radisic, who is the
Serbian member of the Bosnian joint presidency and who
until recently held the rotating chair of that body,
authorized his representative to the Hague-based court
to inform the tribunal that Bosnia has dropped its case
against Belgrade for war crimes, "Oslobodjenje" reported
on 18 June. Alija Izetbegovic, who is the Muslim
representative on the presidency, said that Radisic's
move was illegal and constituted an abuse of his office.
Elsewhere, Izetbegovic said he will resign if the
international community's Jacques Klein can prove "even
10 percent of his charges of corruption in the Bosnian
government," RFE/RL's South Slavic Service reported.
Izetbegovic added that he regards Klein as "pro-
Croatian." PM

MORE REVELATIONS ON SHADY BANKING IN CROATIA. Deputy
Prime Minister and Finance Minister Borislav Skegro told
Parliament on 17 June that 109 individuals illegally
transferred some $150 million abroad recently from four
Croatian banks, RFE/RL's South Slavic Service reported.
PM

TUDJMAN WANTS DIASPORA TO COME HOME. In Johannesburg on
17 June, President Franjo Tudjman appealed to members of
South Africa's Croatian community to settle in Croatia.
"Come to Croatia! It may not be a land of milk and
honey, but you'll do better there than anywhere else,"
"Vecernji list" quoted him as saying. Tudjman has often
appealed to Croats living abroad to settle in Croatia as
part of his policy of increasing the size of the
population in general and of its ethnic Croatian
component in particular. The Croatian economy, however,
needs the hard-currency remittances of the Diaspora,
which also wields political influence in many countries
on behalf of Zagreb. PM

ROMANIA DECLARES MILOSEVIC, CRONIES 'UNDESIRABLE.' The
government on 17 June approved a decree banning Yugoslav
President Slobodan Milosevic, members of his family,
Yugoslav cabinet members and other unspecified officials
close to the "Milosevic regime" from entering Romania,
declaring them "undesirable," RFE/RL's Bucharest bureau
reported. Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Simona Miculescu
said the move was in line with EU restrictions on
Yugoslavia and that "between Milosevic and the EU, we
chose the EU," according to Reuters. On the same day,
the parliament approved President Emil Constantinescu's
request to permit the transit of NATO Polish and Czech
peacekeepers through Romania. The legislature also
decided to dispatch a 205-troop military unit to KFOR
and to extend the mandate of Romania's 200 peacekeepers
in Bosnia until the end of 2000. MS

ROMANIAN TEACHERS END LABOR SANCTIONS. The government on
17 June approved an agreement signed with the teachers'
unions and the unions announced they are ending their
strike. One of the four teachers' unions, which objected
to some provisions in the agreement, announced its
members will return to work on 19 June and will resume
the strike if the cabinet fails to implement the
agreement. Also on 17 June, in an interview on Romanian
television, Prime Minister Radu Vasile confirmed that
the agreement with Bell Helicopters Textron for the
privatization of the IAR Ghimbav aircraft company in
Brasov has been scrapped, and that new negotiations are
to be conducted with other investors, "most probably"
the German-French Eurocopter consortium. MS

TURKISH PRESIDENT IN MOLDOVA. Suleyman Demirel and
Moldovan President Petru Lucinschi on 17 June signed an
accord on Turkish technical assistance to Moldova.
Demirel praised Moldova's willingness to grant autonomy
to the Gagauz ethnic minority, which is of Turkish
origin, but added that Ankara wants cultural ties to
improve and cooperation to extend to education. The two
presidents visited the Gagauz-Yeri autonomous region and
met with its leaders. They also inaugurated a water
supply facility system built with Turkish assistance in
the region, RFE/RL's Chisinau bureau reported. Security
was tightened for the visit, according to a "Flux"
report. Interior Ministry sources said the extra
security measures were taken due to the large number of
Kurds residing in Moldova. MS

LUCINSCHI EXPLAINS DRIVE FOR PRESIDENTIAL SYSTEM.
Addressing a meeting of European justice ministers in
Chisinau on 17 June, Lucinschi said he did not want to
establish a presidential system in Moldova "out of
personal ambition" but rather because such a system
would be in "the general interests of society." He said
the present parliamentary system is "inefficient" and
enables politicians to "shun responsibility" for
governing the country, RFE/RL's Chisinau bureau
reported. Visiting Council of Europe Deputy Secretary-
General Christian Kruger on 17 June told Lucinschi that
the council is backing Moldova's drive to find an
"acceptable form" of government. He said the 23 May
referendum was "the choice [of Moldovans]" and "nobody
may impose their point of view on you, " Infotag
reported. MS

MOLDOVAN GOVERNMENT BACKS TRANSIT OF KOZLODUY SPENT
FUEL. Prime Minister Ion Sturza on 17 June said his
cabinet is in favor of allowing Russia to transit spent
nuclear fuel from the Bulgarian Kozloduy nuclear reactor
through Moldova, Infotag reported. He said Moldova will
gain $300,000-400,000 from the transit of three to five
trainloads of the fuel and described the parliament's
refusal to approve the transit last year as a "political
game." MS

BULGARIA LIFTS OIL EMBARGO AGAINST YUGOSLAVIA...
Bulgaria on 17 June lifted a ban on oil exports to
Yugoslavia, BTA reported. Government spokeswoman Stoyana
Georgieva explained that the ban has been lifted because
military operations in the neighboring country have
ceased. MS

...SAYS IT WILL REACT 'FIRMLY' TO YUGOSLAV SENTENCING OF
ETHNIC LEADER. Deputy Foreign Minister Konstantin
Dimitrov on 17 June said Bulgaria will be "very firm" in
its reaction to a Yugoslav military court's decision to
sentence ethnic Bulgarian leader Marko Shukarev to eight
months in prison for desertion, AP reported. Shukarev
was drafted to a Yugoslav military unit during the war
(see "RFE/RL Newsline," 7,10, and 16 June). The
parliament's Human Rights Commission, in a note sent to
the Council of Europe and the OSCE, said the "verdict"
was "a drastic violation of human and political rights"
and the "Bulgarian public views it as an attempt to
exert pressure on the...Bulgarian national minority in
Yugoslavia." Some 300 protesters on 17 June marched on
the Yugoslav embassy in Sofia, chanting "Autonomy" and
"Death to Slobo" [Slobodan Milosevic]. MS

LUKANOV'S MURDERER ARRESTED IN CZECH REPUBLIC?. Czech
police on 17 June said it had arrested on 4 June a
Bulgarian businessman in connection with the death of a
Bulgarian member of parliament, CTK and AP reported.
Angel Vasiliev, a business entrepreneur, was arrested
after Bulgaria submitted an extradition request. A
police spokesman refused to confirm reports in the
Bulgarian media that Vasiliev is suspected of
involvement in the murder of former Prime Minister
Andrei Lukanov, who was killed near his home in Sofia on
2 October 1996. MS

END NOTE

KOSOVARS RUSH BACK TO THE FUTURE

By Fabian Schmidt

	International aid agencies have been surprised at
how quickly many Kosova Albanians have packed their
things and headed back to their homes. They started
doing so just days after NATO forces entered the region.
However, the aid agencies have called on the refugees to
stay in their camps for at least a few more weeks so
that military experts can check roads, villages, and
houses for mines and booby-traps, reinstall water and
power supplies and make sure that there is a sufficient
supply of food available. They have argued that the
refugees are taking great risks in returning so early.
But many refugees have not been prepared to listen to
such arguments. Some of them have paid a heavy toll for
their impatience: within only half a week, 20 people
were injured and at least two killed by mines.
	Still the agencies have had to recognize that they
will not be able to stop the Kosovars from returning 
even before the withdrawal of Serbian troops is
completed. The fact that some 20,000 refugees have
already returned home, despite the various dangers,
indicates their eagerness to get started quickly with
building a new future after more than a decade of
discrimination in an apartheid-like system. They see
Kosova as their liberated homeland rather than as the
scene of some of the most vicious crimes against
humanity committed since World War II. They are willing
to embrace a land marked by the horrors of ethnic
warfare in their search for a new democratic future.
	The example of the thousands of Kosovars who have
joined the Kosova Liberation Army (UCK) has contributed
to the impatience of many of their compatriots to go
home. Even though it was NATO that finally assumed
control over Kosova and ensured the withdrawal of the
Yugoslav forces, most of the UCK fighters view the
recent turn of events as "their victory" as well. These
fighters come from all walks of life in Kosova  from
villagers to university students, and including women's
brigades. Many of these guerillas joined the UCK at the
height of Serbian repression in 1998 or 1999 and are not
likely to stay with the organization much longer.
Essentially, they were "citizens in uniform," and now
that the worst is over, they will probably return to
their towns and villages. Thus the UCK will diminish in
size very soon without any outside pressure.
Furthermore, it will also undergo changes as a result of
its scheduled demilitarization. In the end, the former
fighters will be engaged in the effort to reconstruct
their country.
	The urge of the Kosovars to go home has generated a
vital momentum that the international community should
not only respect but support. The initiative these
refugees show today could be crucial for the success of
Kosova's reconstruction and development in the long run.
The more initiative the Kosovars take themselves, the
more certain it is that theirs will be a success story.
Many of those who have returned so far are not willing
to wait because they are confident that they can cope
with the challenges facing them at home quickly and
efficiently by simply getting started. They do not want
to wait for the permission and support that may or may
not come from international organizations. Many refugees
perceive these bodies  which will have to cope with
hundreds of thousands of remaining refugees  as largely
anonymous.
	In particular, self-reliant villagers from the more
remote parts of Kosova do not trust the bureaucracy of
government or international aid agencies. Many are
prepared to simply drive their tractors home rather than
waiting. They know that it is not too late to plant
something that they can harvest before the winter. Many
even prepared their fields before the beginning of the
ethnic cleansing in March and April, and thus are eager
to get home sooner rather than later to look after
whatever remains of their crops.
	Similarly, the traders and craftsmen in the cities
and market places will want to reopen their shops and
businesses, another essential factor for rapid economic
recovery. To this end, the international community and
the new UN-led civilian administration should from the
beginning focus on ensuring full freedom of movement,
not only for people within Kosova, but also for goods
and services between Kosova on the one hand and
Montenegro, Serbia, Macedonia, and Albania on the other.
	It is important that individual refugees be enabled
to go back and forth between their homes in Kosova and
the refugee centers. They need freedom of movement in
order to create the preconditions for their families to
follow later. Therefore, reviving and improving regional
public transport  primarily with busses and mini-busses
 is of paramount importance. Macedonia and Albania
should be encouraged to conclude free-trade agreements
with the Kosovar interim administration. This will serve
all parties concerned. Mobility will thus generate
prosperity.
	The international community could promote such
efforts from the beginning in order to give Kosova's
reconstruction a head start. It will serve everyone's
interest to reduce customs formalities between the
neighboring countries to a minimum in order to
facilitate the quick and easy flow of goods and
services. The UN administration should install a
Western-trained customs administration to help the
Kosovars and their neighbors apply liberal policies.
	During a meeting in Skopje on 17 June, Macedonian
Prime Minister Ljubco Georgievski de facto recognized
UCK leader Hashim Thaci as his counterpart from Kosova.
Albanian Prime Minister Pandeli Majko's administration
is the only other government to have done so. These
three southwestern Balkan leaders have begun to show a
willingness to develop a joint vision of future regional
cooperation. They will now have to show that each of
their countries can profit from a policy of cooperation.
Kosova needs the two others for its own reconstruction
and the two need Kosova as a partner to ensure that the
still ongoing refugee crisis does not destabilize them.
If it is sincere in wanting to build peace, democracy,
stability, and prosperity in the region, the
international community should encourage these trends.

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