The person who knows how to laugh at himself will never cease to be amused. - Shirley MacLaine
RFE/RL NEWSLINE

RFE/RL NEWSLINE Vol. 3, No. 164, Part II, 24 August 1999


___________________________________________________________
RFE/RL NEWSLINE Vol. 3, No. 164, Part II, 24 August 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

* DIM PROSPECTS FOR POLITICAL DIALOGUE IN BELARUS

* RUSSIAN-ALBANIAN STANDOFF CONTINUES IN RAHOVEC

* MAJKO WANTS ALBANIANS TO MAKE DONATIONS FOR KOSOVA-ALBANIAN
HIGHWAY

End Note: WHEN FOUR TIMES FIVE MIGHT EQUAL ZERO
xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

EAST-CENTRAL EUROPE

DIM PROSPECTS FOR POLITICAL DIALOGUE IN BELARUS. Anatol
Lyabedzka, head of the opposition delegation for talks with
the authorities, told RFE/RL's Belarusian Service on 23
August that the political dialogue in Belarus "may come to a
halt even without having started." Lyabedzka was commenting
on President Alyaksandr Lukashenka's statement last week that
the authorities want to talk with a broad spectrum of public
organizations on holding parliamentary elections in 2000 in
accordance with the 1996 constitution (see "RFE/RL Newsline,"
23 August 1999). There has been no response from the OSCE
Minsk group to Lukashenka's announcement. OSCE Minsk group
head Hans Georg Wieck announced previously that the planned
talks should aim at electing a parliament "with significant
functions and powers" (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 19 August
1999). JM

UKRAINIAN PRESIDENT SAYS NO RETURN TO SOVIET SYSTEM. On 23
August, the eve of the eighth anniversary of Ukraine's
independence, President Leonid Kuchma said there can be no
return to the Soviet political and social system, Reuters and
AP reported. Kuchma called on the government to implement
economic measures, including tax and agricultural reforms and
restructuring of the country's foreign debt. He predicted
that Ukraine's GDP will grow by 2 percent in 2000 and by 4-6
percent in the following years. He blamed the country's
economic decline on the Soviet past and the parliamentary
obstruction of key legislation. "The parliament's work must
be formed on the basis of a responsible majority," Kuchma
said without elaborating. JM

'PATRIOTIC FORUM' IN KYIV CALLS FOR SINGLE PRESIDENTIAL
CANDIDATE. A forum of "patriotic, anti-corruption, pro-
independence, and democratic forces" took place in Kyiv on 22
August, Interfax and RFE/RL's Ukrainian Service reported. The
forum was organized by the Open Politics association and
attended by five presidential hopefuls: Yuriy Kostenko, Yuriy
Karmazin, Volodymyr Oliynyk, Vasyl Onopenko, and Oleksandr
Rzhavskyy. Hennadiy Udovenko, Yevhen Marchuk, and Vitaliy
Kononov, all of whom also aspire to the presidency, failed to
appear. Anatoliy Matviyenko, who heads the association and
resigned the leadership of the Popular Democratic Party after
it pledged support to Kuchma's re-election bid, urged all
presidential candidates to agree on a single candidate to
represent the right-wing in the elections. JM

FINLAND TO CONTINUE DEFENSE ASSISTANCE TO ESTONIA. Meeting
with Finnish Defense Ministry officials in Helsinki on 23
August, Estonian Defense Minister Juri Luik received
assurances that Finland will continue to support Estonia's
defense forces. The two countries plan to continue to
cooperate in the training of naval specialists and the
creation of command structures in the armed forces. Luik's
meeting with Finnish President Martti Ahtisaari focused on
questions of European security and the latest developments in
Kosova. AB

RIGA 'BALTIC WAY' CONFERENCE FOCUSES ON STRENGTH IN UNITY.
Latvia's president and prime minister both emphasized the
need for unity among the three Baltic countries at a
conference in Riga on 23 August marking the 10th anniversary
of the "Baltic Way," the 600 kilometer human chain that
extended from Tallinn through Riga to Vilnius. LETA quoted
President Vaira Vike-Freiberga as saying that only by "taking
each other's hand" will Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania
achieve a better future in which "human rights, one law, one
truth for all" are the primary values of society. Prime
Minister Andris Skele noted that "if each [Baltic country] is
considered separately, we are three little states, but
together [we are] one of the most strategically important
regions in the new Europe." MJZ

LITHUANIAN LEADERS UNANIMOUSLY AGREE ON BUDGET CUTS. Meeting
on 23 August, Prime Minister Rolandas Paksas, parliamentary
speaker Vytautas Landsbergis, and President Valdas Adamkus
agreed that the spending in the current fiscal year should be
cut by more than 51 million litas ($138 million). Finance
Minister Jonas Lionginas and Economy Minister Eugenijus
Maldeikis also attended the meeting. Lionginas has publicly
urged the parliament to approve budget cuts in the range of
600 million litas. Paksas told reporters after the meeting
that he hopes the parliament will soon agree to the cuts,
which the government is expected to approve on 25 August. AB

MAZEIKIAI OIL COMPLEX FUTURE LOOKS BRIGHTER. The European
Bank for Reconstruction and Development and the International
Finance Corporation will each buy 5 percent of the remaining
government-owned shares in the Mazeikiai oil refinery
complex. This is a major breakthrough for the Lithuanian
government which has struggled for two years to privatize the
complex. The EBRD and IFC plans are contingent on the
completion of negotiations between Lithuania and the U.S.
firm Williams International on the sale of up to 66 percent
of the government's share in Mazeikiai. AB

CORRECTION: "RFE/RL Newsline" on August 23 incorrectly
reported that Lithuania and Poland are the only two countries
with consular representation in Kaliningrad. In fact, Sweden
and Denmark have a joint representation there as well.

POLISH FARMERS CALL FOR NATIONWIDE PROTEST. A regional
protest committee of farmers in Slupsk, northern Poland, has
called on all farmers to hold a nationwide protest over the
plight of the Polish agriculture, PAP reported on 23 August.
Farmers' leader Wladyslaw Serafin said in Slupsk that only an
immediate change in agricultural policy can prevent the
current cabinet from being toppled. The Slupsk farmers also
urged to refrain from holding harvest festivals this year in
a sign of protest. Another meeting of farmers in Western
Pomeranian Province appealed to farmers to begin paying taxes
not in cash but through "products [valued] at profitable
prices." JM

POLISH TEACHERS WANT MORE MONEY FOR SCHOOL REFORM. Polish
teachers' unions warned on 23 August that more money is
needed to support the education reform slated to begin on 1
September. The unions object to the government's plans to
shut down some schools and lay off teachers while ensuring
pay rises do not exceed the level of inflation, Reuters
reported. The government intends to reduce spending on
education next year to 3.02 percent of GDP from 3.2 percent
in 1999. The left-wing Polish Teachers Union wants Education
Minister Miroslaw Handtke to be sacked, while Solidarity
blames the Finance Ministry for failing to provide more
subsidies. Both unions said they plan protests unless the
education sector is given more money. JM

BELARUS CITIZENS SEEK ASYLUM IN CZECH REPUBLIC. Three Belarus
citizens--two men and a woman--have asked for political
asylum in the Czech Republic, a spokesman for the Plzen
foreigners' police told CTK on 23 August. The woman said she
is a journalist and was persecuted in Belarus because she
opposes Belarusian President Lukashenka's regime. MS

SLOVAK PRIVATIZATION SCANDAL APPROACHING SOLUTION.
Representatives of the Slovak Property Fund (FNM) and Druha
obchodna have signed a deal on the transfer of a 45.9 percent
stake in Nafta Gbely to the FNM, SITA reported on 23 August.
Druha obchodna is a subsidiary of Nafta Trade, which is
controlled by the Arad joint-stock company owned by
businessman Vladimir Poor. Under the deal, the FNM is to
assume Druha obchodna's debts to Tatra banka and AG Banka.
The deal is still subject to an agreement between the sides
on the purchase of Nafta Trade by the state-owned SPP
monopoly gas distributor. Arad is asking for 390 million
crowns ($9 million), while the SPP says that price is too
high, given Nafta Trade's debts. MS

SLOVAK POLICE VERSION OF ROM'S DEATH QUESTIONED. Vincent
Danihel, government commissioner for Romany affairs, said on
23 August that he is dissatisfied with the official police
version of how a Rom died after being in police custody, SITA
and CTK reported. The Rom was questioned at the police
station in Poprad on 13 August in connection with a bicycle
theft. Police say he shot himself with the pistol of the
policeman who was questioning him. Before his death in the
hospital three days later, the Rom told a friend that the
injury was caused by a policeman. Danihel said that even if
the official police version is true, the policeman clearly
violated regulations by questioning the Rom while he was
alone with him and by keeping a gun within the detainee's
reach. Danihel added he will travel to Poprad to monitor the
investigation. MS

SLOVAK POLICE INDICT SKINHEADS. A police investigator in
Bratislava on 20 August filed charges against three skinheads
accused of assaulting the Chinese consul and two of his
friends last month (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 27 July 1999),
SITA and CTK reported. An 18-year-old was indicted for
assault and racially-motivated crime, while two other youths,
aged 16 and 18, were charged with hooliganism. If convicted,
they could be sentenced to prison terms of between six months
and three years. One of the skinheads is reportedly the son
of a high-ranking Bratislava police officer. MS

SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE

RUSSIAN-ALBANIAN STANDOFF CONTINUES IN RAHOVEC. Hundreds of
ethnic Albanians continued to block roads leading to Rahovec
on 24 August, thereby preventing Russian peacekeepers from
entering that town (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 23 August 1999).
The roadblock includes a long line of trucks, buses,
tractors, and other vehicles. Dutch peacekeepers are
scheduled to begin mediation between Russian officers and the
Albanian protesters later in the day, AP reported. The
protesters reject the deployment of Russian soldiers,
claiming that Russian mercenaries committed atrocities in
that area in March and April. The protesters also say they
fear Russian KFOR will protect Serbian paramilitaries who are
allegedly hiding in the Serb-dominated quarter of Rahovec. FS

KFOR'S JACKSON BACKS RUSSIANS... KFOR commander General
Sir Mike Jackson told Reuters in Prishtina on 23 August
that the Russians are "doing a good job" in all the
areas of Kosova that they currently patrol. He added
that the Rahovec protests are "no more than a bump in
the road." Elsewhere, Colonel-General Georgii Shpak, who
is commander of Russian paratroop units, told Interfax
in Moscow that "we have a peacekeeping mission in
[Rahovec] and we will carry it out." FS

...CONFIRMS UCK DEMILITARIZATION ON SCHEDULE. At a joint
press conference with General Agim Ceku, who is the
chief of the Kosova Liberation Army's (UCK) General
Staff, in Prishtina on 23 August, Jackson confirmed that
the UCK handed in all its heavy weapons, all long-
barreled weapons, and 60 per cent of all automatic small
arms by 19 August, an RFE/RL South Slavic Service
correspondent reported. That day marked the end of the
second phase of the UCK's demilitarization. Jackson
stressed that the UCK must now concentrate on
transforming itself into a non-military group. The UCK
has committed itself to completing its demilitarization
by 19 September. FS

SERBIAN WAR CRIMES SUSPECTS TO BE TRIED IN PRIZREN.
Three Serbs arrested on suspicion of war crimes by KFOR
peacekeeping troops in Rahovec on 20 August will stand
trial at a District Court in Prizren, rather than in The
Hague, Reuters reported. UN Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK)
spokeswoman Nadia Younes said, however, that "although
this will be a domestic war crimes trial, the [tribunal]
takes great interest in this case. [This is] because the
events in [Rahovec] are related to the indictment of
[Yugoslav President Slobodan] Milosevic." Tribunal
officials told Reuters on 23 August that they support
the arrest and trial of suspected war criminals in local
courts so long as the judiciary is "mature and
democratic enough" to ensure that individuals receive a
fair trial. FS

DID SERBIAN FORCES USE SARIN GAS IN KOSOVA? London's "The
Daily Telegraph" reported on 24 August that "the Serbs used
Sarin nerve gas against ethnic Albanians before NATO
intervened" in Kosova. A UN expert told "Jane's Defence
Weekly" recently that Serbian forces used the gas against the
Kosovar Albanians "since the early nineties.... The attacks
affected some 4,000 people, including children," the London
daily reported. Observers note that Kosovar spokesmen have
long charged that the Serbian forces used poison gas against
ethnic Albanians. Outside experts have confirmed that poisons
were used in several incidents, but not that Sarin gas was
one of the toxins involved. PM

ANNAN APPOINTS NEW DEPUTY SPECIAL REPRESENTATIVE FOR
KOSOVA. UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan appointed German
environmental expert Tom Koenigs as deputy special
representative in Kosova in charge of civil
administration, on 23 August, AP reported. Koenigs, who
is a member of the Green Party and a close colleague of
Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer, will replace Dominique
Vian of France, who is leaving after only two months in
office. Koenigs will be one of four deputies to UN
Special Representative Bernard Kouchner. Since 1989,
Koenigs has been the head of the Environmental
Protection Department of Frankfurt, which also includes
responsibility for sewage management, the fire
department, and energy supplies. Between 1993 and 1997,
he was treasurer of Frankfurt. AP noted that he has a
reputation as a tough administrator focusing on
increasing the efficiency of public services and
modernizing the city administration. FS

MAJKO WANTS ALBANIANS TO MAKE DONATIONS FOR KOSOVA-
ALBANIAN HIGHWAY. Prime Minister Pandeli Majko called on
the Albanian people on 23 August to donate money for a
highway linking Durres with Prishtina, an RFE/RL South
Slavic Service correspondent reported. Majko said in
Tirana that "the Albanian government has decided that
the construction of a road linking Tirana with Prishtina
is one of its strategic priorities. That road will serve
both ethnic Albanian entities in the Balkans.... It will
serve the faster movement of goods, people, capital, and
culture." Majko called the plan "a gigantic challenge
for our nation" but stressed that "together we...can
achieve wonders for our joint future.... This will be
the Albanians' road and we Albanians will build it... We
shall ask for help from our international partners, but
initially we should demonstrate that we are able to help
ourselves." FS

DJINDJIC SAYS MILOSEVIC RULE WILL LEAD TO CHAOS. Democratic
Party leader Zoran Djindjic told AP in Belgrade on 23 August
that Serbia will face serious problems if Milosevic remains
in office much longer. Djindjic stressed that if the
president "does not go by the end of October, we will have a
humanitarian catastrophe and social unrest by hungry people."
He added that there will also be "further territorial
disintegration" if Montenegro declares independence in
response to Milosevic's refusal to quit. The opposition
leader argued that each unsuccessful attempt by the
opposition to unseat Milosevic has been followed by war.
Djindjic rejected charges by Milosevic's backers and the
Serbian Renewal Movement's Vuk Draskovic that his policies
will lead to "civil war" (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 23 August
1999), saying such accusations are "communist-style
intimidation." PM

ARE SOME MILOSEVIC BACKERS ABANDONING HIM? Alliance for
Change leader Vladan Batic said in Belgrade on 23 August that
Milosevic's supporters will not fight a "civil war" for him.
Batic added that some key Milosevic backers have recently
contacted U.S. special envoy Robert Gelbard (see "RFE/RL
Newsline," 14 July 1999). Batic said those individuals
include prominent businessman Bogoljub Karic, Deputy Prime
Minister Ratko Markovic, economics adviser Zoran Lilic, and
others, RFE/RL's South Slavic Service reported. Batic
stressed that Milosevic must resign and a transitional
government must replace the present one. PM

UN EXPERTS CAUTIOUS ON SERBIAN CHARGES OF ENVIRONMENTAL
DAMAGE. Pekka Haavisto, who is chairman of the United Nations
Environmental Program's (UNEP) Balkans Task Force, said in
Belgrade on 23 August that he and his colleagues are
continuing their investigation into environmental damage in
Serbia as a result of the recent NATO air strikes. The team
arrived several weeks ago to look for the presence of a wide
variety of chemicals and other toxic waste in the
environment. In response to Serbian charges that the air
strikes led to radioactive fallout because some of the bombs
allegedly contained depleted uranium, Haavisto said his team
will proceed according to scientific evidence and not be
swayed by "rumors." The experts expect to complete a
preliminary study in September. They will then decide what to
do next, Reuters reported. Officials of UNEP and NATO
maintain that NATO used depleted uranium only in shells fired
at tanks in Kosova and not in missiles or bombs used against
Serbia proper. PM

PRESUMED SREBRENICA VICTIMS EXHUMED FROM MASS GRAVE.
Representatives of the Muslim Commission for Missing Persons
completed the exhumation of 23 persons from a mass grave near
the Serbian-held town of Zvornik on 23 August, "Oslobodjenje"
reported. The experts believe that the bodies are those of
some of the 7,000 missing persons from Srebrenica (see
"RFE/RL Newsline," 11 August 1999). The forensic team will
resume work in September. Survivors say that up to 1,000
Srebrenica victims may be buried in mass graves in that area.
PM

CROATIAN MINISTER TELLS VETERANS NOT TO MAKE POLICY. Foreign
Minister Mate Granic said in Zagreb on 23 August that
Dubrovnik-area war veterans who recently blocked the border
crossing to Trebinje should desist from such protests in the
interest of promoting good relations with Bosnia (see "RFE/RL
Newsline," 23 August 1999). He urged the veterans to let the
Hague-based war crimes tribunal deal with Serbs who committed
atrocities during the 1991 shelling of Dubrovnik, including
former Trebinje Mayor Bozidar Vucurevic. Obrad Gazda, who is
that town's current mayor, told Rijeka's "Novi List" that the
people of Trebinje have nothing to apologize for. He stressed
that the former Yugoslav army alone is responsible for the
shelling. PM

ROMANIAN PREMIER WARNS PARLIAMENTARY DEPUTIES... Before the
parliament convened in an extraordinary session on 23 August,
Radu Vasile urged parliamentary deputies to pass the
government-proposed legislation on restitution of real estate
and agricultural land to former owners or their heirs. Vasile
said that if they fail to do so by September, the government
will legislate such restitution by emergency regulation,
RFE/RL's Bucharest bureau reported. The opposition Party of
Social Democracy in Romania is threatening to boycott the
debate on procedural grounds. It also says government-
proposed restitution will increase the budget deficit by $50
billion. MS

...DISMISSES RUMORS ON QUITTING. Vasile dismissed rumors
recently reported in the media that he intends to resign and
accept an offer from the World Bank. He said that no such
offer has been made and that if it were, he would turn it
down. On 20 August, Education Minister Andrei Marga, whom the
media tips as a possible successor to Vasile, told
journalists that the National Peasant Party Christian
Democratic (PNTCD) needs to "urgently embark on [developing
a] strategy of reconstruction," Mediafax reported. Marga said
that reconstruction can take place at "a doctrinary, an
organizational, and a personal" level and that he believes he
"has solutions" for all three levels. He added that he does
not intend to run for a party leadership post but would
"think the offer over" if it were made to him. MS

ROMANIA TO CHANGE TAXATION SYSTEM. The government on 23
August approved a regulation changing the taxation system.
Under the new system, Romanians will be taxed on "global
income," which will include wages and earnings deriving from
any other sources of income, either in Romania or abroad. The
government also decided that the pensions and incomes of
farmers are not to be taxed in the future. RFE/RL's Bucharest
bureau reported. MS

RUN-OFF IN GAGAUZ-YERI ELECTIONS. A run-off will take place
on 5 September between incumbent Gagauz-Yeri Autonomous
Region Governor Georgii Tabunschik, who placed second (20.6
percent) in the 22 August elections in the region, and
Moldovan Deputy Foreign Affairs Minister Dimitrii Croitor,
who came first with 21.5 percent of the vote, RFE/RL's
Chisinau bureau reported. Turnout was 55.1 percent. Run-offs
will also be held in 25 of the 35 constituencies where
candidates for the People's Assembly were elected for the
first time since 1994, when the region gained autonomous
status, using a single-seat majority system. Tabunschik, who
has virtually introduced a system resembling the one
President Petru Lucinschi favors for the whole of Moldova,
has a good chance of being re-elected. MS

MOLDOVAN PRESIDENT READY TO COMPROMISE ON PRESIDENTIAL
SYSTEM? Presidential spokesman Anatol Golea told journalists
on 23 August that Lucinschi is "ready to discuss various
variants on amending the constitution." He said Lucinschi has
initiated the debate on amending the basic law in order to
get feed-back from citizens and international organizations
and is "ready to discuss any constructive proposals." Golea
said that "unfortunately, many representatives of parties are
rejecting the draft [proposed by the presidential commission]
without having even read it." In response to a question,
Golea said the president regards the draft submitted by 38
deputies on instituting a full-fledged parliamentary system
as "an attempt to monopolize public [opinion] and ignore
people's will freely expressed in the [non-binding]
referendum of 23 May." MS

END NOTE

WHEN FOUR TIMES FIVE MIGHT EQUAL ZERO

by Michael Shafir

	Some 300 days after the four-party ruling Slovak
coalition took over the helm, the cracks in that coalition
are threatening the country's political stability. The
presence of a "Romanian syndrome" of decision-making
paralysis, mutual accusations among the coalition partners,
and political cronyism is beyond dispute.
	Mikulas Dzurinda's cabinet was formed by four
formations--the Slovak Democratic Coalition (SDK), the Party
of Civic Understanding (SOP), the reformed-communist Party of
the Democratic Left (SDL), and the Hungarian Coalition (SMK)-
-most of which have different social, economic, and political
priorities.
	Like the SDK, the SMK is a political product of former
Prime Minister Vladimir Meciar's midwifery. To circumvent an
electoral law that raised the parliamentary hurdle for
political alliances, three parties representing ethnic
Hungarians merged to form the SMK before the 1998 elections.
But unlike the SDK, the SMK currently shows few cracks. The
cementing force is the coalition partners' failure to fulfill
promises made before the elections. As in Romania, where the
unity of the Hungarian Democratic Federation of Romania is
safeguarded by the struggle of its many wings and various
ideological views on how to enforce ethnic Hungarian demands
its on coalition partners, the SMK is already threatening to
"review" its participation in the coalition.
	In the first place, Agriculture Minister Pavol Koncos of
the SDL refused to appoint an SMK party member as head of the
Slovak Land Fund, ignoring what the SMK claims was a "verbal
agreement" whereby it withdrew its demand for the agriculture
portfolio. The SMK is suspected by the SDL--not to mention
the opposition Movement for a Democratic Slovakia (HZDS) and
the xenophobic Slovak National Party--of intending to use the
land fund to restitute to ethnic Hungarians land confiscated
under the Benes decrees. Second, the SMK is dissatisfied with
the law on the use of minority languages in contact with
official authorities, which it considers too restrictive.
Passed by the parliament on 10 July, that law was mainly the
brainchild of Deputy Premier in charge of legislation Lubomir
Fogas of the SDL. Not surprisingly, Slovak media reported
that the SMK is demanding the dismissal of both Koncos and
Fogas.
	Set up on the eve of the 1998 elections by five center-
right parties that, like the SMK, aimed at circumventing
Meciar's new electoral law, the SDK is the major coalition
partner. It is also the party most affected by the Romanian
"coalition of coalitions" syndrome. The five "mother parties"
of the SDK--the Christian Democratic Movement, or KDH, the
Social Democratic Party, the Democratic Union, the Democratic
Party, and the Green Party--agreed before the elections to
separate again after the ballot. Following the ballot,
however, Dzurinda opposed dismembering the SDK.
	That stance put Dzurinda on a collision course with KDH
leader, Justice Minister, and former Premier Jan Carnogursky,
who, understandably, objected to seeing Dzurinda, a former
KDH member, becoming the dominant personality in Slovak
politics. But the Democratic Union and the Democratic Party
have also advocated--though less emphatically than
Carnogursky-- a return to a looser alliance formed by the
"mother parties." Dzurinda says that option is "out of the
question."
	Carnogursky has led the campaign that ended on 9 August
with the ousting of former Transportation Minister Gabriel
Palacka, Dzurinda's most loyal minister. Palacka's ties with
Dzurinda date back to their employment in the Czechoslovak
railways company and were strengthened when he became the SDK
treasurer. The premier was very disturbed about the forced
departure of Palacka, who was held responsible for
irregularities in appointments at the ministry and
privatization tenders supervised by it. He openly attacked
Carnogursky, admonishing him for causing "government
instability."
	Nor is Palacka the only ally of Dzurinda to have come
under criticism. Economy Minister Ludovit Cernak, who managed
the premier's 1998 electoral campaign, has been linked to the
privatization scandal caused by businessman Vladimir Poor's
sale of his shares in the Nafta Gbely refinery to the
Cincinnati-based Cinergy Company. Whereas Carnogursky and the
media blamed the deal on Cernak, Dzurinda deflected the blame
on National Property Fund (FNM) chief Ludovit Kanik and his
deputy, Ladislav Sklenar, demanding that both resign. He was
able to have the government approve a resolution calling for
their resignation but failed to have the parliament endorse
it. Carnogursky and, above all, the Democratic Party, which
had nominated Kanik, came to the FNM chief's defense. All of
which made Czech journalist Peter Schultz wonder, in an
article published in the 16 July "Lidove noviny," whether
Dzurinda was not promoting a sort of "Meciarism without
Meciar" by defending his own cronies and attacking those of
his adversaries.
	 Dzurinda's conflict with the Democratic Party may have
serious consequences. The most ardent promoter of the long-
due economic reforms is Privatization Minister Ivan Miklos,
who is a member of that party. Should his party leave the
coalition, Dzurinda might find himself surrounded by strange
bedfellows. The SDL, true to its origins, is refusing to back
the Miklos-sponsored bill on the privatization of large
state-owned companies, insisting that the state keep a
majority stake in energy and gas distributors as well as a 34
percent stake in banks. The Romanian parallel is once more
striking, but in Romania it is the Democratic Party that
plays a role like that of the SDL in Slovakia.
	Meanwhile, the HZDS is hinting that the SDL and the SOP
may leave the coalition and help Meciar return to power. Is
Dzurinda's four-party coalition multiplied by the SDK's five-
party "coalition of coalitions" about to result in zero?

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