Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it's the only thing that ever has. - Margaret Mead
RFE/RL NEWSLINE

RFE/RL NEWSLINE Vol. 3, No. 140, Part II, 21 July 1999


________________________________________________________
RFE/RL NEWSLINE Vol. 3, No. 140, Part II, 21 July 1999

A daily report of developments in Eastern and
Southeastern Europe, Russia, the Caucasus and Central
Asia prepared by the staff of Radio Free Europe/Radio
Liberty.

This is Part II, a compilation of news concerning
Central, Eastern, and Southeastern Europe.  Part I
covers Russia, Transcaucasia and Central Asia and is
distributed simultaneously as a second document.  Back
issues of RFE/RL NewsLine and the OMRI Daily Digest are
online at RFE/RL's Web site:
http://www.rferl.org/newsline

xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx
Headlines, Part II

* EU SAYS BELARUSIAN PRESIDENT'S LEGITIMACY EXPIRED

* UCK DISARMAMENT ON SCHEDULE, BUT VIOLATIONS OF
AGREEMENT CONTINUE

* BELGRADE WANTS TO RETURN SOME PERSONNEL TO KOSOVA

End Note: MEDIA TENSIONS IN THE CZECH REPUBLIC
xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

EAST-CENTRAL EUROPE

EU SAYS BELARUSIAN PRESIDENT'S LEGITIMACY EXPIRED... The
French Embassy in Minsk has circulated a statement on
behalf of the EU saying that 20 July was the last day of
Belarusian President Alyaksandr Lukashenka's legitimate
presidency. The statement stresses the need for free,
democratic, and fair elections to restore the legitimacy
of Belarus's political authority. It also urges all the
concerned parties to begin a dialogue and expresses the
hope that Lukashenka's agreement to a dialogue with the
opposition (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 16 and 19 July 1999)
will be backed by concrete proposals on holding
democratic parliamentary elections in 2000. JM

...U.S. ALSO QUESTIONS LUKASHENKA'S LEGITIMACY... U.S.
State Department spokesman James Rubin said on 20 July
that the 1996 changes to the Belarusian Constitution,
which gave Lukashenka the right to extend his term until
2001, were based on a "flawed and unconstitutional
referendum." According to Rubin, these changes and the
"arbitrary extension" of Lukashenka's term in office
undermine the Belarusian president's democratic
legitimacy. "Lukashenka's legitimacy as an elected
representative of the Belarusian people can only be
restored by free and fair democratic elections in which
all political parties can participate on an equal
basis," Rubin said. JM

...WHILE RUSSIA REAFFIRMS SUPPORT FOR LUKASHENKA.
Russian Foreign Ministry spokesman Vladimir Rakhmanin
said on 20 July that Russia has no reason to doubt
Lukashenka's legitimacy. "The [1996] referendum returns
are indicative--more than 70 percent of the population
voted for prolonging the powers of the president who was
elected for a five-year term in 1994," Rakhmanin said.
He added that Russia intends to promote its relations
with Belarus in compliance with the declaration on
further integration signed by Russian President Boris
Yeltsin and Lukashenka last December. JM

UKRAINE, POLAND PLEDGE NOT TO CHANGE POLICY TOWARD
BELARUS. Ukrainian Foreign Minister Borys Tarasyuk said
on 20 July that Ukrainian-Belarusian relations will
remain unchanged following the end of Lukashenka's five-
year term in office. The same day, Polish Foreign
Ministry spokesman Pawel Dobrowolski said Warsaw will
continue its policy toward Belarus. "On the one hand, we
criticize President Lukashenka's policy and violations
of the law committed by him, but on the other--we will
not break relations with Belarus. Now we will maintain
them more on a social than political level," Dobrowolski
said. He added that no visits of high-ranking officials
are planned by the two countries. JM

UKRAINE HIT BY MOTOR FUEL SHORTAGE. Ukraine is suffering
a severe gasoline shortage, resulting in the closure of
many filling stations. The price of gasoline has doubled
and even tripled at some stations, the "Eastern Economic
Daily" reported on 21 July. Some traders blamed
government-imposed import duties on gasoline for the
shortage, while the government pointed to the increase
in world oil prices. The agricultural sector seems most
affected by the fuel crisis. According to the agency,
some regional authorities have attempted to confiscate
low octane gasoline for the needs of agricultural
enterprises. Newly appointed Agricultural Minister
Mykhaylo Hladiy said most farms have enough fuel to keep
their combines running, but he added that the hike is
likely to push up the price of grain. JM

EBRD PAYS TO IMPROVE CHORNOBYL SARCOPHAGUS. The European
Bank for Reconstruction and Development has signed an
agreement with Ukraine's state company Enerhoatom on a
111.8 million euro ($115 million) grant to improve the
leaky concrete encasement of the Chornobyl reactor that
was destroyed in 1986. The grant is to be spent on
purchasing equipment to monitor safety risks while
nuclear fuel is removed from the destroyed reactor. It
will also be used for a number of other safety projects
due to be completed by 2005. JM

POLISH PREMIER OUTLINES PRIORITIES FOR NEXT TWO YEARS.
During a 20 July meeting with parliamentary deputies of
the ruling Solidarity Electoral Action (AWS), Jerzy
Buzek said that over the next two years, the cabinet
should concentrate on fighting unemployment, improving
the situation in the agricultural sector, and increasing
the security of citizens. He said his cabinet "is now
facing two tranquil years of governing with only one
reform of the tax system." AWS leader Marian Krzaklewski
told journalists after the meeting that Buzek "will
remain prime minister for his entire term." JM

SLOVAK CONTROVERSY OVER CONSTITUTIONAL COURT RULING
CONTINUES. Prosecutor-General Milan Hanzel on 20 July
said that in the wake of the Slovak Constitutional
Court's recent ruling on Prime Minister Mikulas
Dzurinda's annulment of the amnesty granted by Vladimir
Meciar to former Interior Minister Gustav Krajci and
former Counter-Intelligence chief Ivan Lexa, Krajci's
case must be halted. The court ruled that the annulment
was unconstitutional. Hanzel told Radio Twist that he
has ordered the case halted but it is up to the tribunal
to make the final decision. Meanwhile, Justice Ministry
official Daniel Lipsic said the same day that the
Constitutional Court's decision does not prevent
Krajci's case from continuing since the decision cannot
be made valid retroactively. Also on 20 July, the
Movement for a Democratic Slovakia said the continuation
of the case would violate the constitution. It warned
that it will file a complaint with the Council of
Europe. MS

SLOVAK PRESIDENT PROMULGATES MINORITY LANGUAGE LAW.
Rudolf Schuster on 20 July signed the law on the use of
minority languages in contacts with the authorities, CTK
and Hungarian media reported. Schuster said he decided
to promulgate the law after two independent teams of
lawyers unanimously recommended he do so. Arpad Duka-
Zolyomi, deputy chairman of the Hungarian Coalition
Party (SMK), told the Budapest daily "Magyar Hirlap"
that the SMK can now do nothing except seek to have the
parliament amend the law. In Hungary, Prime Minister
Viktor Orban said that it is "regrettable" that the bill
was passed without the consent of the minorities it
affects and that the law will "not be capable of
defending the interests of the Hungarian minority." MS

HUNGARY, ROMANIA AGREE ON JOINT PEACEKEEPING UNIT.
Romanian Brigadier General Mihaita Costache and
Hungarian Brigadier General Jozsef Forgo, meeting in
Hodmezovasarhely on 20 July, signed a technical
agreement that defines the duties of the Hungarian-
Romanian joint peacekeeping battalion. The battalion can
be mobilized only in Europe and must operate under the
aegis of the UN, the OSCE, or the West European Union.
The joint peacekeeping unit can be deployed as of 1
January 2000, Hungarian media reported. MSZ

HUNGARY 'NOT SURPRISED' BY EU'S DECISION ON BALKAN
RECONSTRUCTION CENTER. Foreign Ministry State Secretary
Zsolt Nemeth on 20 July said that Hungary "is not
surprised" by the EU foreign ministers' decision earlier
that day to agree "in principle" to choose Thessaloniki,
Greece as the reconstruction center for the Balkans. He
said that "it was to be expected that EU would choose
one of its member states for that purpose." Hungary had
launched a heavy campaign for Budapest to host the
center. Nemeth observed that the center may also be
needed for the reconstruction of Vojvodina. MSZ/MS

SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE

UCK DISARMAMENT ON SCHEDULE... KFOR commander General
Sir Mike Jackson inspected an arms collection site of
the Kosova Liberation Army (UCK) in Isnic on 20 July,
together with UCK commander Agim Ceku, an RFE/RL
correspondent reported from Prishtina. That day marked
the deadline for the first phase of the UCK's
disarmament plan. According to the plan, which guerrilla
leader Hashim Thaci signed and presented to NATO 30 days
earlier, by now the UCK was to have turned in all its
heavy weapons and 30 percent of its small arms. At the
storage site are, among other things, heavy machine
guns, anti-tank rockets, a Chinese multi-barreled anti-
aircraft gun, several other arms, and about 2 million
rounds of ammunition. Most of the arms originated from
the Yugoslav Army. There are a total of 19 collection
sites throughout Kosova. FS

...BUT VIOLATIONS OF AGREEMENT CONTINUE. KFOR spokesman
Louis Garneau said in Prishtina on 20 July that KFOR
soldiers have arrested 13 men in UCK uniforms in Mihalic
and confiscated an unspecified number of arms, an RFE/RL
correspondent reported. Despite these violations of the
demilitarization agreement, UCK commander Ceku told
Reuters in Isnic that "I am sure I have control of the
UCK units." FS

UNMIK LAUNCHES POLICE RECRUITMENT. The UN Mission in
Kosovo (UNMIK) opened an office for the recruitment of
police for the planned UN-trained force for the province
in Prishtina on 20 July. UCK commander Ceku told General
Jackson in Isnic that about 4,000 former UCK soldiers
will apply for positions in the force, Reuters reported.
FS

BELGRADE WANTS TO RETURN SOME PERSONNEL TO KOSOVA.
Yugoslav Prime Minister Momir Bulatovic said in a letter
to UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan on 20 July that
international peacekeepers and the UN-sponsored civilian
authority "do not have sufficient strength to ensure the
full security of Kosova's borders, population, and
property." Bulatovic asked Annan to allow an unspecified
number of Yugoslav soldiers, police, and customs
officials to return to the province soon, RFE/RL's South
Slavic Service reported. Under the June peace agreement
on Kosova, Belgrade will be allowed to send a limited
number of forces to guard the frontiers and Serbian
cultural monuments but only when the UN agrees. PM

SERBIAN POLICE ARRESTED IN KOSOVA. A NATO spokesman said
in Prishtina on 20 July that peacekeepers arrested four
Serbian policemen in eastern Kosova near the border with
Serbia. The four were armed with automatic weapons. The
June peace agreement bans Serbian paramilitary police
from the province. PM

ANNAN CALLS FOR RESTORING BASIC SERVICES. The UN
secretary-general said in Vienna on 20 July that the
UN's mission will be on the ground [in Kosova] at least
for several years but the reconstruction of [the
province and the region]...will take at least 10 years."
He added that "even if one were to limit assistance to
Yugoslavia for example to only humanitarian assistance,
one should define humanitarian aid in broad enough terms
to allow assistance to go to repairs of electrical
systems, water supplies, and hospitals." Annan stressed
that Kosova's remaining Serbs might leave if basic
infrastructure is not restored. PM

TWO KEY SERVICES RETURN TO KOSOVA. An RFE/RL South
Slavic Service correspondent reported from Prishtina on
20 July that KFOR troops have restarted a key power
plant nearby. It employs 850 persons, of whom 600 are
ethnic Albanians and 250 ethnic Serbs. Elsewhere, the
Albanian-language daily "Rilindja" resumed publication
in Prishtina after an interruption of nine years.
Serbian authorities closed the daily in 1990. It
continued to publish in Zofingen, Switzerland, and
Tirana. FS

POOR CONDITIONS FOR SERBIAN REFUGEES. A spokesman for
the UNHCR said in Belgrade on 20 July that an
unspecified number of Serbian refugees from Kosova live
in poor conditions in Kragujevac, Kraljevo, and other
cities. Many refugees charge that the Serbian
authorities mistreat them in the hope of forcing them to
return to Kosova. PM

MORE REPORTS OF TUBERCULOSIS. The UNHCR officials noted
in Belgrade on 20 July that an unspecified number of
cases of tuberculosis have emerged among the 7,500 Roma
in a makeshift refugee camp near Podgorica. Observers
note that tuberculosis never disappeared from the former
Yugoslavia, despite great efforts by communist-era
health authorities to eradicate it. There have been
increasing reports of cases of tuberculosis in much of
the former Yugoslavia in recent years, particularly in
those areas affected by war or by deteriorating economic
and social conditions. PM

SERBIAN MINISTER REOPENS BRIDGE. Prime Minister Mirko
Marjanovic reopened the bridge over the Danube at Beska
near Novi Sad on 20 July. He told a crowd of several
hundred persons, some of whom carried portraits of
Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic, that Serbia "has
once again become a major European transportation link."
The bridge sustained only minor damage during NATO's
recent bombing campaign. PM

BELGRADE BARS MONTENEGRIN STUDENTS. The Serbian Ministry
of Education said in a statement on 20 July that
students from Montenegro will no longer be allowed to
register at Belgrade University, RFE/RL's South Slavic
Service reported. Observers note that most Montenegrin
students seeking a higher education have traditionally
sought admission to Belgrade University. In Belgrade,
Serbian Education Ministry officials said that priority
for university admissions will go to soldiers and their
families. PM

MONTENEGRO TO GIVE BELGRADE DEADLINE? Vojin Djukanovic,
who heads the governing Democratic Party of Socialists,
said that the Montenegrin government "will probably"
give the Belgrade authorities until "the beginning of
September" to respond to Montenegrin proposals to change
the federal system, RFE/RL's South Slavic Service
reported from Belgrade on 20 July. PM

ALBANIA, GREECE PLEDGE COOPERATION TO FIGHT CRIME.
Albanian Public Order Minister Spartak Poci and his
Greek counterpart, Mikhailis Khrisokhoidhis, pledged in
Ioannina on 20 July to increase cooperation in fighting
crime, AP reported. The ministers agreed to increase
border patrols to prevent illegal immigrants from
entering Greece (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 20 July 1999).
Poci agreed to provide Greek police with information on
convicted Albanian criminals, including fingerprints,
photographs, and official records. Khrisokhoidhis said
he will assist the Albanian police force by providing
training, computers, weapons, and other equipment. To
facilitate the exchange of information, police officials
in northern Greece and southern Albania will hold weekly
meetings. Khrisokhoidhis said that document checks and
expulsions of illegal immigrants will continue, but he
promised that immigrants who have obtained temporary
residence and work permits in Greece will not be
affected. FS

ALBANIAN SYNOD SAYS ORTHODOX CHURCHES IN SARANDA
VANDALIZED. The Holy Synod of Albania's Orthodox Church
issued a statement on 20 July saying that unknown
persons burned one church, vandalized another, and
burned icons in a third during June and July in the
Saranda region, Reuters reported. The statement says:
"We appeal for an end to these acts and ask the
authorities to take the necessary measures to stop this
dangerous and unprecedented escalation, which spoils
Albania's image in this critical historical period....
We raise our voice not only to defend our churches and
monasteries but also the religious harmony and the
peaceful coexistence characteristic of our country." FS

WESTENDORP SACKS MAYOR. A spokesman for the
international community's Carlos Westendorp said in
Sarajevo on 20 July that Westendorp has "suspended from
office" Sanski Most Mayor Mehmed Alagic (see "RFE/RL
Newsline," 12 July 1999). Bosnian media have recently
linked Alagic to abuse of office and corruption. He has
denied the charges and insisted that he will continue in
office. PM

ARBOUR TO CHARGE CROATIA WITH 'NON-COMPLIANCE.' Louise
Arbour, who is the Hague-based war crimes tribunal's
chief prosecutor, said on 20 July in Zagreb that she
will report to the UN Security Council that Croatia is
not cooperating with the court. Croatian officials had
refused her request for extradition of two Bosnian Croat
war crime suspects and the transfer of a quantity of
documents regarding mistreatment of Serbs in Croatia
between 1991 and 1995 (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 20 July
1999). She charged that Zagreb's behavior toward the
tribunal differs little from that of Belgrade, which
does not recognize the court's authority, AP reported.
Arbour noted that Croatian officials have nonetheless
given the tribunal "excellent" cooperation in
investigating Serbian atrocities in Croatia. She said
that this "proves that it's very much a matter of a
political will of what kind of support the tribunal will
receive. When it's deemed desirable to do so, there are
very few impediments" from Zagreb. PM

EU URGES CROATIA TO DEMOCRATIZE. Finnish Foreign
Minister Tarja Halonen, who holds the rotating EU chair,
told Croatian Foreign Minister Mate Granic in Brussels
on 20 July that Croatia must promote democratization,
reform its electoral law, and allow the return of ethnic
Serbian refugees if it wants closer integration with the
EU. PM

U.S. HELPS DEFEND CROATIAN JOURNALISTS. A spokesman for
the U.S. embassy in Zagreb said on 20 July that the
embassy has donated $100,000 to the Journalist
Association's Legal Defense Fund to help pay lawyers'
fees and court costs. Most of the 500 lawsuits filed
against journalists in recent years have been filed by
government officials, their associates, or their
families, AP reported. The government has used lawsuits
and any resulting fines to intimidate critical
journalists and to try to bankrupt independent
periodicals. PM

ROMANIAN PRESIDENT INTERVENES IN 'GENERALS' CONTROVERSY.
Emil Constantinescu on 20 July said that allegations
that the Supreme Court was influenced by "political
considerations" in sentencing Generals Victor
Stanculescu and Mihai Chitac are "grave" and constitute
negations of the "independence of the judiciary at its
highest levels." Those who make such allegations,
Constantinescu said, must produce proof. He added that
the sentence could not be regarded as "one passed on the
army as a whole." Finding out the truth about the 1989
revolution, he continued, "must exclude any idea of
collective guilt" and should not "affect the army's
honor and prestige," RFE/RL's Bucharest bureau reported.
Prime Minster Radu Vasile said the sentence has
"provoked a sense of restlessness in the army," which is
"counterproductive at a time [the army] is undergoing
reform." MS

ROMANIA'S CIVIC ALLIANCE MOVEMENT TO SUPPORT CIORBEA?
Valerian Stan, deputy chairman of the Civic Alliance
Movement, said on 20 July that the movement might back
former Prime Minister Victor Ciorbea's National
Christian Democratic Alliance in the 2000 parliamentary
elections. He said the formation set up by the former
premier in April has adopted "many ideas and principles
backed by the Civic Alliance," adding that Ciorbea is "a
reliable politician." On 17 July, the alliance's
National Council decided that the alliance will not re-
join the Democratic Convention of Romania as long as the
convention fails to promote "legislation leading to
society's moral cleansing." MS

IMF DELEGATION VISITS MOLDOVA. Richard Haas, head of an
IMF delegation currently visiting Moldova, said on 20
July that during talks with members of the cabinet and
the National Bank, agreement was reached on a program
that is to be implemented in the second half of this
year, ITAR-TASS reported. The IMF delegation is
reviewing the implementation of an IMF-Moldovan
memorandum during the first half of the year. Haas said
that if the review is positive, Moldova will receive a
$35 million loan from the fund and a $20 million loan
from the World Bank this year. MS

BULGARIAN DEFENSE MINISTER IN U.S. After meeting with
Bulgarian Defense Minister Georgi Ananiev in Washington
on 20 July, U.S. Defense Secretary William Cohen told
journalists that he has handed his guest a U.S.-
developed "action plan" to help guide Bulgarian military
reforms as the country prepares for eventual NATO
membership. Cohen said that the plan recommends Bulgaria
focus on improving training and the life quality of
soldiers. It also urges measures to improve logistics,
command and control, and communication. A senior U.S.
defense official said that the guidelines call for
Bulgaria's military force to be reduced to 45,000 troops
from the present 100,000, AFP reported. The two
ministers also discussed the situation in the Balkans.
Ananiev noted that Bulgaria and other countries in the
region have suffered heavy economic losses from the war
in Yugoslavia. MS

BULGARIAN ETHNIC TURKISH LEADER CALLS FOR 'MODEL OF
MODERATE NATIONALISM.' Ahmed Dogan, leader of the ethnic
Turkish Movement for Rights and Freedoms (DPS) and co-
chairman of the Liberal Democratic Union (LDS), has
called for a "model of moderate nationalism" in
Bulgaria, BTA reported on 20 July. Addressing a forum on
liberalism, Dogan said nationalism has been "toned down"
in Bulgaria but this has created a "political vacuum
that could be filled by forces of aggressive
nationalism, such as skinheads." He said that the two
main political forces in the country, the Union of
Democratic Forces and the Socialist Party, are not
taking the opportunity to "use the ethnic card" in local
elections scheduled for the fall. He also regretted that
his own DPS has shed many of its nationalist features as
a result of its LDS membership. MS

END NOTE

MEDIA TENSIONS IN THE CZECH REPUBLIC

by Victor Gomez


	Czech Prime Minister Milos Zeman would like to have
better relations with the media. At least that's what he
said after a group of journalists wrote an open letter
publicly accusing him of worsening those ties. A recent
slew of remarks by Zeman has made it hard for anyone to
disagree with those journalists. Furthermore, the conflict
between the current minority government and the majority of
the country's media has accelerated to a fever pitch, just
as the government has introduced a new press bill and
proposed changes to the status of the Council for Radio and
Television Broadcasting.
	Obviously, relations between politicians and the media
are often somewhat tense in a democracy, but the situation
in the Czech Republic has become particularly difficult in
the past few months. Anyone who thought that the Zeman
administration could not possibly alienate the press as
much as the government of former Prime Minister Vaclav
Klaus has been forced to reconsider. Rarely has the
relationship between the Czech press and government been as
poisoned as it is now. While Klaus was well known for his
put-downs of reporters and his infamous statement about
journalists being the "enemy of the people," Zeman has more
than matched him. In his characteristically outspoken
style, the current prime minister has dismissed journalists
as "idiots" and "simpletons" and commented that "the number
of idiots per square meter is by far the highest among
Czech journalists." Not content, however, to restrict his
comments to insults, Zeman has also engaged in concrete
accusations of corruption. For example, he recently charged
a journalist with having accepted money from the energy
company CEZ in exchange for writing articles supporting the
completion of the Temelin nuclear power plant.
	Recently, Zeman even offered an explanation for his
attitude toward journalists. He said he decided to
"destroy" Czech journalists with "fire and sword" after
what he described as an attempt by "Lidove noviny" to
politicize his son's attempted suicide. In any case,
regardless of the motivation for his actions, Zeman's
sweeping and aggressive attacks on the press have done
little to help his party cultivate a favorable media image.
	In this poisoned atmosphere, the government has
introduced a press bill that has had many of the country's
journalists up in arms. The bill, which recently passed in
its first reading in parliament, has been severely
criticized in the media for two reasons. First, it would
allow any citizen to bring charges against a newspaper for
spreading hatred aimed at any group on the basis of its
race, nationality, or religion. If accepted by a court,
such a complaint could lead to a newspaper being fined or
even suspended from publication for one year. Opponents of
this provision argue existing laws already enable charges
to be brought against any editor or reporter suspected of
spreading racial hatred. In addition, they argue that the
provision could be used by politicians against newspapers
that are too critical of them or their policies.
	However, most of the bill's opponents have focused
their ire on another provision of the draft law. According
to that provision, readers would have the right to respond
to any article that has harmed their reputation. Newspapers
would be required to publish responses written by the
reader even if the facts in the original article were
correct.
	The government argues that its press bill is in line
with similar laws in Western Europe. However, the bill is
much vaguer than media laws in other countries where the
right to respond exists. In Germany, for example, responses
from readers must be strictly factual. In contrast, the
Czech press bill would effectively enable readers to
include their personal opinions as well as other
commentary. Oddly enough, even members of Zemanės party
have admitted that parliament will have to amend the bill
during the second reading. Even more surprisingly,
considering his own disdain for journalists, Klaus himself
has come out against the bill.
	Another focus of tension is the proposal to change the
laws governing public Czech Television and Czech Radio.
Several politicians have argued that the parliament's role
in overseeing and supervising the Council for Czech
Television should be increased. While all parties concerned
insist that they do not want to cast doubt on the publicly
owned broadcaster's independence, it is no secret that some
politicians are not happy with the manner in which their
parties have been covered on the stations. For example, at
a recent meeting of the Council for Czech Television,
deputies from Klaus's Civic Democratic Party reportedly
criticized the council for not granting their party enough
air time. Once again the government's behavior has
aggravated the situation, with journalists complaining that
Culture Minister Pavel Dostal did not seek enough input
from broadcasters in preparing the new regulations.
	These disputes illustrate the current tensions between
the Czech Republic's journalists and politicians. On the
one hand, it is true that Czech journalism is still marked
by a high degree of partisanship and lack of
professionalism. Key stories are often based on dark
statements by shadowy "unnamed sources" or else blatantly
reflect the political biases of the reporter. On the other
hand, many Czech politicians make little effort to hide
their aversion for journalists or their desire to have
their views given precedence in the media. Zeman's
slanderous comments about reporters indicate that he
himself is not above damaging the reputations of
journalists. These are questions of professionalism and
political culture. No amount of laws will be able to
resolve the problem of journalistic professionalism and
establish a climate of professional responsibility between
journalists and politicians.
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