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RFE/RL NEWSLINE

RFE/RL NEWSLINE Vol. 3, No. 144, Part II, 27 July 1999


________________________________________________________
RFE/RL NEWSLINE Vol. 3, No. 144, Part II, 27 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

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Headlines, Part II

* HUNGARIAN PREMIER LINKS VOJVODINA AUTONOMY TO TIES
WITH CROATIA

* HAGUE COURT MOVING CLOSER TO INDICTING TUDJMAN?

* SERBIAN OPPOSITION TO FORGE AGREEMENT?

End Note: ZEMAN'S GOVERNMENT ONE YEAR ON: A DUBIOUS
RECORD
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EAST-CENTRAL EUROPE

BELARUSIAN INDEPENDENT NEWSPAPER HEAVILY FINED. A Minsk
court on 26 July ordered the independent newspaper
"Belorusskaya delovaya gazeta" to pay 2.1 billion
Belarusian rubles ($7,900) in compensation to Judge
Nadzeya Chmara for the "moral damage" inflicted on her
by its coverage of a trial over which Chmara had
presided (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 26 July 1999).
According to the court, the newspaper had suggested that
the verdict pronounced by Chmara was not written by her
but by someone whose "political order" she was obeying.
Valyantsin Zhdanko, deputy editor of "Belorusskaya
delovaya gazeta," said he is surprised by the
unprecedented amount of compensation demanded by the
court. "This is a new form of the Belarusian
authorities' struggle against independent media--[the
authorities] do not close but ruin them financially,"
Belapan quoted Zhdanko as saying. The newspaper is to
appeal the verdict. JM

UKRAINIAN PRESIDENTIAL HOPEFUL SAYS INCUMBENT PLAYING
DIRTY. Vasyl Onopenko, head of the Social Democratic
Party and a presidential candidate, has accused
President Leonid Kuchma of unfair tactics in seeking to
secure his re-election in October, dpa reported on 26
July. Onopenko said Kuchma plans to regain office by
"extensive falsification of vote results" and by putting
administrative pressure on his opponents. JM

SUPREME COURT SUSPENDS DECISION ON ANNULLING KYIV
MAYORAL ELECTION. The Ukrainian Supreme Court on 26 July
suspended the decision of the Vyshhorod district court
annulling the mayoral elections in Kyiv in May (see
"RFE/RL Newsline," 23 July 1999). Oleksandr Omelchenko,
who won a landslide victory in the mayoral elections,
had appealed that decision. The Supreme Court has
requested relevant materials and documents so that it
can examine the case further. JM

UKRAINE WANTS TO PAY GAS DEBT WITH STRATEGIC BOMBERS.
Defense Minister Oleksandr Kuzmuk said on 26 July that
Ukraine can give Russia 10 Tu-160 and Tu-95 strategic
bombers to cover part of Kyiv's debt for Russian gas
supplies, Interfax reported. Kuzmuk added that the price
of each aircraft would "exceed $25 million." Russia has
so far not responded to Kuzmuk's offer. Under a 1991
arms reduction program, Ukraine is obliged to eliminate
all bombers and other nuclear hardware by December 2001.
The U.S. has contributed more than $500 million for that
purpose. JM

ESTONIAN PUBLIC SUPPORTS GOVERNMENT, BUDGET CUTS. A
recent poll conducted by the Sociological Research
Center indicated that about half of Estonians regard the
work of Mart Laar's government as successful. About a
quarter disagreed with that viewpoint, BNS reported.
Two-thirds of those polled agreed with the government's
budget cuts (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 29 June 1999), while
calling for a larger cut than provided for by the 1
billion kroon ($67 million) negative supplementary
budget. MH

DUMA DEPUTY SPEAKER SOUNDS OFF ON LITHUANIA. On a visit
to Kaliningrad on 26 July, State Duma deputy speaker
Sergei Baburin attacked Lithuania's policy to integrate
into NATO and blasted the pending Lithuanian-Russian
border treaty. Baburin stressed he will do "whatever it
takes" to prevent the treaty's ratification in the Duma,
adding that "only a madman, a fool, or a traitor can
attempt to remove the obstacle to open Lithuania's way
into the military bloc," BNS reported, Baburin also
questioned Lithuania's right to the port city of
Klaipeda, saying Vilnius should abandon Klaipeda "before
denouncing triumphantly the Molotov-Ribbentrop pact,"
according to "Lietuvos Rytas." MH

LITHUANIAN PRESIDENT ADDRESSES DIPLOMATS. President
Valdas Adamkus, opening the annual meeting of
Lithuania's ambassadors on 26 July, called on the envoys
to work on improving Lithuania's image abroad.
"Obviously this sphere is in need of coordination," said
Adamkus, adding that the Foreign Ministry could play a
"more dynamic role," BNS reported. Adamkus also stressed
the need to promote better economic contacts between and
support for Lithuanian businesses in foreign markets. MH

POLAND, U.K. SIGN DEAL ON PRODUCTION OF HOWITZERS.
Poland's Stalowa Wola steelworks and the U.K.'s Marconi
company on 26 July signed an agreement on the production
of self-propelled 155 mm howitzers adapted to NATO
standards for the Polish army, PAP reported. Poland will
buy six howitzer turrets and technology from Marconi
worth 100 million zlotys ($26 million) and spend another
100 million zlotys to construct the howitzer chassis by
2003. The Polish army plans to buy 70 howitzers by 2012
to upgrade its military hardware. "We are buying new
equipment and giving jobs to the Polish defense
industry," Polish Premier Jerzy Buzek commented after
the signing ceremony. JM

POLISH LEFT-WING DAILY TO BE SUED FOR INSULTING POPE.
The Warsaw district court on 26 July revoked the
decision of a Warsaw prosecutor not to start proceedings
against the left-wing daily "Trybuna" for insulting Pope
John Paul II. In 1997, "Trybuna" called the pope a
"coarse vicar" and said one of the pope's statements was
"sloppy and mumbling." Catholic associations in Poland,
arguing this was an insult to the foreign head of state
and the supreme authority for Catholics, had notified
the prosecutor that an offense was committed. Following
the prosecutor's refusal to start proceedings, some
1,500 people appealed to the Warsaw district court and
managed to have the case against "Trybuna" opened. JM

CONFIDENCE IN CZECH GOVERNMENT CONTINUES TO DROP.
Sixty-nine percent of Czechs do not trust Milos
Zeman's cabinet, according to an opinion poll carried
out by the Institute for Social Research. Compared
with last month, confidence in the cabinet dropped by
four percentage points and now stands at 27 percent,
CTK reported on 26 July. Fifty percent of the
respondents negatively evaluated the "opposition
agreement" between the Social Democratic government
and the Civic Democratic Party (ODS), while only 20
percent said the agreement is "beneficial" and 30
percent said they have no opinion (see also "End Note"
below). MS

CZECH OPPOSITION POLITICIAN WARNS AGAINST COMMUNIST
POPULARITY. Premysl Sobotka, Senate deputy chairman,
said on 26 July that the growth of the Communist Party
of Bohemia and Moravia's (KSKM) popularity is a
"warning" for Czech society. Sobotka, who represents
the ODS in the Senate, said the Communists "never
changed their goals, ideology, and desire to
nationalize property, " CTK reported. On 22 July,
Vaclav Exner, KSCM deputy chairman, had told
journalists that those among them who are in their 50s
"might still see the return of socialism." Exner said
recent polls show there is no need for the party to
change its program and that "the re-establishment of
socialism" remains its "long-term aim." MS

NORWAY INTRODUCES VISA REQUIREMENT FOR SLOVAKS. Norway
on 26 July became the fourth country after the U.K.,
Ireland, and Finland to introduce visa requirements
for Slovak citizens, CTK reported. The Foreign
Ministry in Oslo said the measure was "temporary" and
will remain in force till 6 November. The Norwegian
NTB agency said the step was taken because Norway
feared an influx of Slovak Roma asylum seekers similar
to that in neighboring Finland. MS

SLOVAK AUTHORITIES EXPRESS REGRET OVER ATTACK ON
CHINESE DIPLOMAT. The Slovak authorities on 26 July
said they "deeply regretted" the attack in Bratislava
two days earlier on a senior Chinese diplomat and two
Chinese nationals. The diplomat suffered head injuries
and is in hospital, while the others were treated for
their injuries and released. Police said they are
seeking eight youths who carried out the attack at a
trolleybus stop. Eyewitness reports said the attackers
were skinheads. MS

HUNGARIAN PREMIER LINKS VOJVODINA AUTONOMY TO TIES
WITH CROATIA... Addressing a meeting of Hungarian
ambassadors on 26 July, Prime Minister Viktor Orban
said his government wants to see "more concrete
results" in the coordination of policies with
neighboring countries. Orban said he expects the
Hungarian diplomatic mission in Croatia to "do more"
to promote the "good strategic alliance" between the
two countries, stressing that cooperation with Zagreb
is "essential" in finding a solution to the problems
faced by the Hungarian minority in Vojvodina, "Magyar
Hirlap" reported, citing anonymous sources that
attended the closed-door meeting. MS

...WHILE EXTREMIST HUNGARIAN LEADER WANTS TO 'RESCUE'
PROVINCE'S MAGYARS. Hungarian Justice and Life Party
chairman Istvan Csurka on 26 July said his party is
starting a campaign aimed at "rescuing the Hungarian
minority" in Vojvodina. The drive is to be launched at
20 August ceremony on Heroes' Square in Budapest.
Csurka said that he has not changed his opinion that
only a revision of borders can save the province's
ethnic Hungarians, who, he said, are now at risk of
being outnumbered by Serbian refugees from Kosova.
Csurka added that leaders of Hungarian minorities in
neighboring countries have been invited to attend the
ceremony, but he declined to give names, "Magyar
Hirlap" reported. MS

SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE

HAGUE COURT MOVING CLOSER TO INDICTING TUDJMAN?
Prosecutor Gregory Kehoe told the Hague-based war crimes
tribunal on 26 July that Croatian General Tihomir
Blaskic, who is on trial for war crimes committed in
Bosnia's Lasva valley in 1993, was only an instrument of
anti-Muslim policies, for which Croatian President
Franjo Tudjman is ultimately responsible. Kehoe argued
that the plan that Blaskic carried out was developed "in
the halls of power in Zagreb by Franjo Tudjman and his
associates, then deployed in [Bosnia] by the political
structure there and the military machine" of the
Herzegovinian Croats. "Blaskic was the tool. He worked
hand in glove with [Tudjman and key Herzegovinian
leaders] to achieve their goals--the removal of Muslims
and ultimate annexation [of the Lasva valley] to the
Republic of Croatia," Reuters quoted the prosecutor as
saying. Kehoe's remarks come at a time when Zagreb's
relations with the court are strained over Croatia's
refusal to extradite two indicted war criminals (see
"RFE/RL Newsline," 21 July 1999). PM

CROATIAN OPPOSITION FORESEES POLITICAL REPERCUSSIONS.
Opposition Istrian political leader Damir Kajin told
"Jutarnji list" of 27 July that Kehoe's statements could
lead to the most serious domestic crisis in Croatia
since the country gained independence in 1991. Liberal
leader Drazen Budisa said that the latest developments
in The Hague do not bode well for Croatia. The Social
Democrats' Ivica Racan called the news from the court
"disturbing." Tudjman's spokesman, Tihomir Vinkovic,
charged the court with meddling in politics. Ivica
Ropus, who is the spokesman for Tudjman's governing
Croatian Democratic Community, said that he is "not
surprised" by the news from The Hague, because the court
has a "political agenda" against Croatia. PM

EFFECT OF INDICTMENT COULD BE DEVASTATING. "Jutarnji
list" of 27 July noted that the Hague court recently
ruled that the 1992-1995 conflict in Bosnia was an
international conflict and not a civil war. That
decision opened the way to a possible indictment of
Belgrade leaders for their role in the bloodletting in
Bosnia. Kehoe's remarks suggest that the prosecutors
might soon turn their attention to the Zagreb leadership
as well. Observers note that the potential effect of any
future indictment by the Hague tribunal of Tudjman and
other top Croatian leaders could have an immense impact
on Croatia. That country depends on tourism and
remittances from workers abroad for most of its hard-
currency income. Croatia would therefore be much more
vulnerable than Serbia if the international community
were to apply sanctions as long as indicted war
criminals remained in high office. PM

SECURITY COUNCIL CONDEMNS KILLINGS IN KOSOVA... The UN's
highest body issued a statement on 26 July, in which it
called the recent killing of 14 Serbian farmers in Staro
Gracko a "criminal act" and urged that those responsible
be brought to justice (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 26 July
1999). The statement also expressed support for KFOR and
the UN-sponsored civilian administration "in their
efforts to ensure peace and security for all
inhabitants" of the province. In Brussels, the EU
Presidency condemned the killings in a statement calling
on all citizens of Kosova to work for a common future
"without violence or atrocities." PM

...AS DOES BERGER. President Bill Clinton's National
Security Adviser Sandy Berger said in Washington on 26
July that the U.S. will provide up to $500 million to
help Kosovars restore their homes and otherwise prepare
for the coming winter. Referring to the Staro Gracko
killings, Berger added that "this act of violence is not
the same as the massive systematic campaign which was
unleashed by [Yugoslav President Slobodan] Milosevic.
But it is profoundly wrong and unacceptable and we will
work against it. Those in the region who wish to be our
partners must work actively against it as well," Reuters
reported. PM

THACI SAYS GREATER ALBANIA NOT A GOAL. Kosova Liberation
Army (UCK) leader Hashim Thaci told the Ljubljana-based
weekly "Mladina" that the Kosovars did not fight to
establish a greater Albania, RFE/RL's South Slavic
Service reported on 26 July. He added that the border
between Kosova and Albania will remain in place. Thaci
stressed that the UCK will not accept republican status
within Yugoslavia. He noted that Kosova's legal tender
soon will not be the Yugoslav dinar but rather the
German mark. PM

SERBIAN OPPOSITION TO FORGE AGREEMENT? Opposition
Alliance for Change leader Vladan Batic told Reuters on
27 July that "we expect a gentleman's agreement between
the Alliance for Change and [Vuk Draskovic's] Serbian
Renewal Movement very soon." He did not elaborate but
suggested that talks are approaching an agreement
whereby the two main opposition groupings would not
publicly attack each other. PM

DJINDJIC CALLS ON GENERAL TO OPPOSE MILOSEVIC.
Democratic Party leader Zoran Djindjic said in Sabac on
26 July that General Nebojsa Pavkovic, who commands the
Third Army, based in southern Serbia, should support the
drive to oust Milosevic. Djindjic argued that the
president is no longer capable of carrying out his duty
to represent Yugoslavia abroad because he is an indicted
war criminal. Djindjic stressed that it is Pavkovic's
"duty" to help oust a president who cannot carry out his
responsibilities. Pavkovic recently criticized the
opposition for allegedly seeking the "unlawful"
overthrow of a legally elected government (see "RFE/RL
Newsline," 26 July 1999). PM

SERBIAN PETITION DRIVE CONTINUES. Officials of the
Alliance for Change said in Belgrade on 26 July that
volunteer workers have collected 550,000 signatures on a
petition calling for Milosevic to resign. Some 70,000
signatures come from Belgrade and 30,000 from Nis. The
goal of the petition drive is to collect 2 million
signatures, RFE/RL's South Slavic Service reported. PM

DANUBE COMMISSION SAYS CLEAN-UP TO COST $90 MILLION.
Experts from the international Danube Commission told
Yugoslav officials that it will cost $14 million to
clear the waterway as a result of damage caused by
NATO's air campaign against Yugoslavia. Another $13
million will be needed to build temporary bridges and a
further $63 million to rebuild or repair damaged bridges
over the Danube. The experts said it will take up to six
months to clear the waterway and some three years to
rebuild the bridges. PM

ROMANIAN OFFICIAL SAYS IMF ACCORD NOT CERTAIN.
Gheorghe Banu, state secretary in the Ministry of
Finance, told journalists on 26 July that Romania must
still fulfill two conditions before the IMF executive
board will consider approval of the $500 million
stand-by loan agreed on in Bucharest last April. Banu
said the two conditions--securing a $350 million
credit from private lenders and completing the
transfer of accounts from the near-bankrupt Bancorex
to the Romanian Commercial Bank--must be fulfilled by
5 August, when the board is scheduled to discuss the
loan, RFE/RL's Bucharest bureau reported. MS

ROMANIAN OPPOSITION PARTY CONTINUES 'TRANSYLVANIA
OFFENSIVE.' Party of Social Democracy in Romania
(PDSR) chairman Ion Iliescu on 26 July said Hungary
has no right to criticize Romania's minorities
policies as long as "it has not set its own house in
order" and pursues a policy of assimilation toward its
own ethnic minorities. Adrian Nastase, PDSR first
deputy chairman, said three days earlier that the
setting up of a Hungarian-language state university
"makes no sense in a unitary state, where a state
university in a language different from the official
one is inconceivable." On 25 July, Nastase elaborated
that "one cannot accept the existence of two types of
nationalism, a good one that is Hungarian, a bad one
that is Romanian." He said that Romania must not
become the "practice ground for all sorts of
revisionist sharp-shooter formulas." MS

U.S. TO HELP FINANCING RUSSIAN ARSENAL WITHDRAWAL FROM
MOLDOVA. The U.S. will grant Moldova $30 million in
aid to help finance the withdrawal of the Russian
troops' arsenal from the Transdniester, AP reported on
26 July, citing the Moldpres agency. Ceslav Ciobanu,
Moldovan ambassador to Washington, said the decision
was adopted last week by the House of Representatives.
MS

BULGARIAN DEPUTY PREMIER SAYS KOSOVA CRISIS HELPED
BALKANS. "Every cloud has a silver lining," Deputy
Premier Evgeni Bakardzhiev commented in a 26 July
interview with Reuters on the impact of the Kosova
crisis on the Balkans. Bakardzhiev explained that the
region "used to be one of divisions" between Islam and
Christianity and later between the Warsaw Pact and NATO,
but in the wake of the Kosova crisis, the Balkan states
have "identified common goals, such as EU membership and
cooperation in joint infrastructure projects." He added
that "Europe and the world are now paying serious
attention to southeastern Europe," and foreign investors
could return to the region if they see it as stable and
reform-inclined. MS

END NOTE

ZEMAN'S GOVERNMENT ONE YEAR ON: A DUBIOUS RECORD

by Michael Shafir

	On 22 July 1998, Czech President Vaclav Havel swore
in the minority Social Democratic (CSSD) cabinet of
Milos Zeman. One year minus one day later, Zeman
dismissed Finance Minister Ivo Svoboda, against whom
police had recently brought charges for damaging the
interests of creditors of a baby-stroller factory that
he co-managed before becoming a minister. Worse still,
the anniversary was heavily shadowed by the findings of
a public opinion poll conducted by the STEM institute
showing that the CSSD has been pushed to third place in
party preferences, trailing not only its rival-and-ally,
the Civic Democratic Party (ODS), but also the Communist
Party of Bohemia and Moravia (KSCM). Given what prompted
the Czech electorate in June 1998 to return the CSSD as
the strongest party in the Chamber of Deputies (32.3
percent, 74 seats), the record of the Czech cabinet is
dubious.
	 Following a series of corruption scandals, former
Prime Minister Vaclav Klaus was forced to resign in 1997
and his party was decimated by dissidents who broke away
to set up the Freedom Union. Apparently aware that the
CSSD owed its plurality in the parliament more to
Klaus's failures than to its alternative electoral
program, Zeman pledged from the outset to launch a
"clean hands" campaign and extirpate corruption from
public administration. Ironically, it was one more
corruption scandal that marred the anniversary of his
one year in power.
	 Like the ODS in its time, the CSSD has been eager
not only to make arguably justifiable political
appointments at the head of government departments, but
also (and this can no longer be justified in any way) to
appoint its cronies to leading positions in state-owned
companies. And owing to the "opposition agreement" with
the ODS--which allowed the formation of a minority
government in exchange for leading positions in the
parliament--this amounted to little else than reaching a
modus vivendi (albeit sometimes a tense one) with
Klaus's party over the division of the spoils.
	In July 1998, Zeman promised that his ministers
would receive a "performance review" after one year and
that those found to be lacking the necessary skills will
be fired. That promise was apparently not kept. At the
very least, Zeman might have been expected to part
company with Jaroslav Basta, the minister in charge of
the anti-corruption campaign. Not that other cabinet
members were immune to criticism: the daily "Lidove
noviny" on 21 July called Deputy Premier Egon Lansky
"the non-coordinating coordinator" of foreign policy,
while Development Minister Jaromil Cisar, Health
Minister Ivan David, and Agriculture Minister Jan Fencl
were all heavily criticized by the media, the
opposition, and interest groups for their performance.
In fact, Zeman himself had acknowledged on 16 July that
the performance of at least four members of his cabinet
(whom he did not name) was "unsatisfactory."
	The reluctance to subject his cabinet to more
radical consequences raises the question of whether
Svoboda has been pushed away for reasons other than his
implication in the Liberta baby-stroller affair. The
former minister is known to belong to the so-called
"[Stanislav] Gross faction," headed by the CSSD
parliamentary group chairman, who reportedly is a Zeman
rival within the party.
	 Be that as it may, after one year in power Zeman's
ratings in opinion polls have plunged by 20 percent, and
the CSSD's performance accounted for most of the upsurge
in the support for the KSCM, with 20 percent of CSSD
voters in 1998 now backing the Communists. A STEM poll
published on 21 July indicated that nearly three in four
Czechs (74 percent) are dissatisfied with the
government's performance and that even those who are
still CSSD supporters tend toward the same
dissatisfaction (43 percent).
	The minority cabinet's handling of foreign policy
has been just as bad, and possibly even worse. Perhaps
no one outmatched Lansky, who as foreign policy
coordinator should have known better than to contradict
Foreign Minister Jan Kavan during the Kosova crisis.
Criticism of the NATO air strikes in Yugoslavia
emanating from different ministers as the crisis peaked,
a "Czech-Greek initiative" for settling the conflict
launched without consulting the other NATO members, and
criticism of Havel's visit to Kosova after the war by
Zeman himself and other ministers--all these factors led
(according to NATO sources that desire anonymity) to the
questioning of the wisdom of expanding the alliance. Add
to this the failure to promote legislation bringing
Czech legislation into line with that of the EU (which
has prompted union officials to wonder whether Prague
will forfeit its membership in the "fast-track group")
and one is left with a rather poor overall record.
	Is Zeman, as a columnist in "Zemske noviny" claimed
on 21 July, the "worst and the most untrustworthy head
of government the independent Czech Republic has ever
had?" He has at least one rival for that spot. The
premier has repeatedly said that he intends to leave
politics at the end of his cabinet's term. Those
inclined to prophesize are already saying that Zeman
will blame his failures on that same competitor, by
whose grace the CSSD cabinet rules under the "opposition
agreement." Should that prophecy come true, what started
as "operation clean hands" would end up as "operation
wash hands."

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