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RFE/RL NEWSLINE

RFE/RL NEWSLINE Vol. 3, No. 176, Part II, 9 September 1999


___________________________________________________________
RFE/RL NEWSLINE Vol. 3, No. 176, Part II, 9 September 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

* BELARUS-RUSSIA UNION TREATY BECOMING MORE REMOTE PROSPECT

* PLANS SHAPE UP FOR KOSOVA CORPS

* SERBIAN REFUGEES RESUME MARCH
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EAST-CENTRAL EUROPE

BELARUS-RUSSIA UNION TREATY BECOMING MORE REMOTE PROSPECT.
After meeting with Belarusian President Alyaksandr Lukashenka
in Minsk on 8 September, Russian Prime Minister Vladimir
Putin intimated that reaching agreement on a Belarus-Russia
union treaty could take more time than initially thought. "I
hope the signing of the treaty on creating a union state of
Belarus and Russia will take place before Russia's
presidential elections," Putin said. Those elections are
expected in June 2000. Last December, Russian President Boris
Yeltsin and Lukashenka pledged to finalize a Russian-
Belarusian union state this year. Putin also said that some
legal issues concerning the union state require more work. He
added that a draft treaty will soon be submitted to public
discussion but that such a discussion will not involve a
referendum. "If Russia is not ready for radical steps..., let
us sign a moderate variant of the treaty," Belarusian
Television quoted Lukashenka as saying. JM

BELARUSIAN WORKERS PROTEST PRESIDENTIAL DECREES. Some 6,000
employees of the Belaruskaliy producer of potash fertilizers
in Salihorsk, Minsk Oblast, held a protest rally on 8
September. The workers of Belarus's largest exporter, which
employs some 19,500 people, were protesting presidential
decrees on labor discipline and pensions, which they said
"encroach upon the workers' rights," Belapan reported. JM

BELARUSIAN OPPOSITION MARKS ANNIVERSARY OF MOSCOW DEFEAT. A
1,000-strong opposition meeting in Minsk on 8 September
marked Military Glory Day, which commemorates the anniversary
of the Battle of Orsha in 1514, at which 30,000 troops of the
Grand Duchy of Lithuania defeated a 80,000-strong army of the
Muscovite state. The event was sanctioned by the authorities,
but in a move frequently evident at opposition gatherings,
electricity was cut off to the meeting site, disrupting a
rock concert that was part of the commemoration. JM

UKRAINE'S MOROZ WANTS TO OUST KUCHMA'S 'REGIME OF
BANDITOCRACY.' Socialist Party leader Oleksandr Moroz, a
major rival of President Leonid Kuchma in the upcoming
presidential elections, pledged to pursue "genuine socialism"
in his election platform published in the 8 September "Holos
Ukrayiny." If elected president, Moroz said he will build a
state-controlled, market-oriented "genuine national economy"
based primarily on domestic industrial potential. According
to the platform, an essential condition for implementing
Moroz's "new course" for Ukraine is the elimination of the
"existing regime of banditocracy," headed by Leonid Kuchma.
JM

MORE MONEY FOR KYIV IN THE OFFING? Deputy Prime Minister
Serhiy Tyhypko announced after his meeting with Japan's new
ambassador to Kyiv on 8 September that Tokyo may lend Ukraine
$80 million in two credits. The second credit, worth $35
million, is to be spent on patching up budget gaps.
Meanwhile, an IMF official in Ukraine told journalists the
same day that later this month the fund will consider the
release of a $90 million credit tranche to Ukraine in 1999,
in addition to the $184 million loan approved on 7 September.
JM

NATO PARLIAMENTARY HEAD IN ESTONIA. The president of the NATO
Parliamentary Assembly, Javier Ruperez, visited Estonia on 7-
9 September. In talks with Defense Minister Juri Luik, the
two concluded that disputes between NATO and Russia could be
overcome, ETA reported. Ruperez said that the assembly would
do "everything...to help Estonia in its wish to become a
member of NATO," according to BNS. Ruperez, accompanied by
assembly secretary-general Simon Lunn, also met with
President Lennart Meri, Prime Minister Mart Laar, Foreign
Minister Toomas Hendrik Ilves and members of the
parliamentary Defense Committee. MH

LITHUANIAN CABINET DECIDES ON PARTIAL IGNALINA SHUTDOWN. The
government on 8 September approved a draft national energy
strategy that provides for the first unit of the Ignalina
Nuclear Power Plant to be decommissioned in 2005. Economics
Minister Eugenijus Maldeikis stressed that the measure still
needs parliamentary approval and that no timetable is
included for closing down the second unit at Ignalina, BNS
reported. ELTA added that experts believe the cost of
decommissioning the first unit would be some 10 billion litas
($2.5 billion), while modernizing Lithuania's power sector up
to 2020 would require 2.8 billion litas ($700 million). The
fate of the second unit is to be included in the next energy
strategy, which is due to be issued in 2004. MH

LITHUANIA REPORTS STATISTICS ON ALCOHOL. The Lithuanian
Statistics Office on 8 September released data on alcohol
usage and its effects on the population for 1998. ELTA
reported that sales of spirits dropped by 32 percent from
1997, while wine sales rose by 5.5 percent and beer by 14
percent. Average consumption fell by 5.5 percent. On the
other hand, the study reports that last year there were
68,700 diagnosed alcoholics, with 2,600 suffering mental
problems caused by alcoholism. A total of 1,189 individuals
died of alcohol poisoning in 1998. MH

POLISH COALITION POLITICIANS WANT TO REPLACE PREMIER.
Aleksander Hall, deputy head of the Solidarity Electoral
Action (AWS) caucus, said on 8 September that the ruling
coalition of the AWS and the Freedom Union (UW) should
consider replacing Premier Jerzy Buzek, PAP reported.
Miroslaw Styczen, who is chairman of the Conservative-Popular
Alliance (a member of the AWS coalition) noted that
politicians are considering different scenarios, ranging from
the replacement of several ministers to a full cabinet
reshuffle. UW parliamentary deputy Wladyslaw Frasyniuk said
that the cabinet needs a "deep and quick restructuring,"
including a change of prime minister. In recent opinion polls
following sweeping but poorly implemented reforms in
administration, health care, pensions, and education, some 80
percent of Poles assess Buzek's performance negatively. JM

HAVEL SAYS EU NOT PREJUDICED TOWARD CZECH REPUBLIC...
President Vaclav Havel on 8 September told journalists after
talks with his visiting German counterpart, Johannes Rau,
that there is "no political prejudice in the EU" toward the
Czech Republic. He said that the timing of the country's
entry into the EU depends "only on ourselves, on our
enthusiasm for reaching this objective, and on the concrete
work we do" to achieve that goal, CTK reported. Rau said that
he firmly believes German companies must stop using "various
reservations" to avoid paying compensation to World War II
slave laborers. He said finding a solution to this problem is
in Germany's interest not only "for moral and humanitarian
reasons" but also "for economic and political reasons." MS

...SAYS BENES DECREES PROBLEM 'COMPLEX.' Havel also said that
problems related to the 1945 Benes decrees are "complex" and
added that saying the decrees have "faded away" does not
resolve those problems. He was responding to a draft
resolution introduced by the opposition Christian Democrats
in the German Bundestag calling for the abolition of the
decrees. Havel said that before the Czech parliament begins
to debate the decrees, experts from both sides must make
their views known. The outcome of the debate, he said, must
"honor the Czech-German declaration, which clearly states
that we shall not burden our future relations with the past."
But Prime Minister Milos Zeman told journalists the same day
that he is against reopening the debate, saying that he wants
the issue to be considered "closed" following his statement
earlier this year that the decrees have "faded away." MS

CZECH GOVERNMENT TO ALLOW CONSTRUCTION OF ANTI-ROMA WALL?
Government Commissioner for Human Rights Petr Uhl on 8
September said that "under certain conditions" he might
initiate a proposal for the government not to oppose the
planned construction of the wall fencing off Roma in Usti nad
Labem. The conditions are that the two gates in the wall
remain open at all times and that opposition to the wall's
construction is reduced among both Roma and "international
organization," CTK reported. MS

NUCLEAR POWER PLANT 'LAST HURDLE' TO SLOVAKIA'S EU ACCESSION
TALKS? European Commission chief negotiator Francois
Lamoureux and Jan Figel, head of the Slovak negotiating team,
told journalists in Bratislava on 8 September that Slovakia
has fulfilled all political criteria for its invitation to
accession talks and that an invitation now depends on
adopting "a clear and realistic timetable" for closing down
the Jaslovske Bohunice nuclear power plant. Lamoureux
emphasized that the commission does not share Austria's
opinion that the plant must be shut down as early as 2000,
but he added that it wants a "realistic deadline" and
considers that the plant "cannot be modernized" and "cannot
remain in operation until the end of its life span." Figel
said that the EU-Slovak "working group" will come up with
"compromise proposals" recommending that the plant be closed
between 2003 and 2014, CTK reported. MS

WAS DESECRATION OF SLOVAK MONUMENT 'PROVOCATION'? Party of
Hungarian Coalition (SMK) chairman Bela Bugar on 8 September
told journalists that last week's defacement of the monument
to General Milan Rastislav Stefanik was "a clear political
provocation" aimed at fomenting anti-Hungarian sentiment in
Slovakia. Bugar said that the SMK has managed to discover the
offenders and has informed the police of who vandalized the
monument as well as the car number plates of the
perpetrators. Bugar said that the monument was defaced by
former police officers, one of whom is now employed as a
bodyguard to an opposition politician, and that they were
paid 50,000 crowns ($1,200) to do so, SITA and CTK reported.

JEWISH FEDERATION OBJECTS HUNGARY'S AUSCHWITZ EXHIBITION. The
Federation of Jewish Communities in Hungary (MAZSIHISZ)
complained on 8 September that an exhibit that Prime Minister
Viktor Orban is to open in Auschwitz next May "barely
conceals anti-Semitic undertones." MAZSIHISZ said in a
statement that the exhibit "distorts the facts" of Hungary's
treatment of Jews since "it makes no mention of anti-Semitism
before 1914 and places all responsibility on Germans for what
happened in the 1930s and 1940s." "It cannot be the Hungarian
government's intention to open an exhibition in Auschwitz
that condones the deeds of [Hungarian wartime leader Miklos]
Horthy," the statement said. MSZ

HUNGARY RULES OUT VOJVODINA AUTONOMY UNDER MILOSEVIC. Foreign
Minister Janos Martonyi told Hungarian media on 7 September
that he rules out any chance of reaching an agreement with
President Slobodan Milosevic on the autonomy of Vojvodina.
Such autonomy, he said, "must gradually be implemented and
must be incorporated into the process of democratization in
Yugoslavia." Hungary supports the autonomy plan proposed by
the province's Hungarian community, but the Hungarian
government "should never play the decisive part" in the
process of implementing it, he concluded. MSZ

SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE

PLANS SHAPE UP FOR KOSOVA CORPS. NATO ambassadors in Brussels
on 9 September discussed the plan for the transformation of
at least part of the Kosova Liberation Army (UCK) into a
Kosova Corps (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 3 September 1999). A
high-ranking NATO official told an RFE/RL South Slavic
Service correspondent that the plan provides for a 3,000-
strong force that will be organized into a "military
structure" in six regions of Kosova and will have 2,000
reservists. Members of the force will wear uniforms but not
carry arms, with the exception of guards or others exercising
functions explicitly assigned to them by KFOR. The corps will
include transport units, rapid reaction forces, medical
units, and units for protection against chemical and
bacteriological weapons. It will be subordinated to UN
Special Representative Bernard Kouchner and maintain
permanent contact with KFOR through liaison officers.
Kouchner will present the plan to UN Secretary-General Kofi
Annan on 9 September. FS

EX-UCK SOLDIERS URGED TO JOIN CIVILIAN POLICE. An RFE/RL
South Slavic Service correspondent in Brussels quoted a
unnamed NATO official as saying on 8 September that many UCK
soldiers who are not included in the Kosova Corps will be
able to apply for jobs with the civilian police. In addition,
international organizations clearing mines in Kosova have
reserved 190 jobs for former UCK members. Kouchner's UN
Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK) has also received pledges of 300
university stipends from several different countries for
those UCK soldiers who interrupted their studies when war
broke out. FS

SERBS WERE TARGETS OF KOSOVA SHELLING. The victims of the
recent shelling of Donja Budriga, near Gjilan, were all Serbs
(see "RFE/RL Newsline," 8 September 1999). U.S. Colonel Steve
Hicks told AP on 8 September that the shells came from an
ethnic Albanian village and struck two Serbian ones. BBC
Television noted the next day that the shells were of Chinese
manufacture and that the UCK has much Chinese-made weaponry.
In Prishtina, a KFOR spokesman noted that ethnic tensions are
on the rise in the Gjilan area, in southeastern Kosova,
following a recent series of incidents. On 9 September, a
KFOR spokesman said that a 65-year-old Serbian woman died in
Prizren after a beating by members of the UCK, AP reported.
PM

EBU APPOINTS DIRECTOR OF PRISHTINA RADIO AND TELEVISION. The
European Broadcasting Union (EBU), meeting in Geneva on 8
September, appointed Erik Lehmann as the new head of
Prishtina Radio and Television. Lehmann is currently
president of Swiss Public Radio and Television. FS

KOUCHNER TO LAUNCH PREPARATIONS FOR ELECTIONS. Kouchner told
the Kosova Transitional Council in Prishtina on 9 September
that he will hold a large meeting of all Kosovar political
parties at the end of September, after the demilitarization
of the UCK is complete. He said that the meeting will be the
first step toward organizing elections next year. The
Transitional Council also set up a commission to seek the
release of more than 2,000 ethnic Albanians from Serbian
prisons. Kouchner later promised about 200 ethnic Albanian
protesters who had gathered outside the UN headquarters that
KFOR will ensure the return of ethnic Albanians to the
Serbian-dominated northern part of Mitrovica in the near
future. Kouchner said that he is optimistic about the
successful demilitarization of the UCK, the reconstruction of
Kosova, and the holding of new elections, saying "I hope--
inshallah--to organize the whole thing." FS

SERBIAN REFUGEES RESUME MARCH. Police on 8 September blocked
a road leading from Kraljevo to Belgrade, forcing 350
refugees from Kosova to abandon plans to march on the
capital. The refugees wanted to protest what they called the
government's indifference to their plight. They resumed their
march the following day. Local officials recently evicted
them from their quarters in a school building so that fall
classes could begin. AP reported that "the refugees were
offered a windowless, roofless ruin with no electricity or
water as alternative shelter. They refused and embarked
instead on a protest march to Belgrade." Some 20,000 refugees
from Kosova are officially registered in Kraljevo, but there
are perhaps as many as 10,000 unregistered refugees there.
The town lies directly north of Kosova on a main road linking
it to Mitrovica and Prishtina. PM

STUDENT PROTEST IN BELGRADE. An unspecified number of
students belonging to Otpor (Resistance) demonstrated in
front of the Belgrade military court on 8 September. They
called for an end to legal proceedings against young men who
did not respond to call-up orders during the Kosova conflict
in the first half of 1999, RFE/RL's South Slavic Service
reported. Several Serbian human rights groups say that legal
proceedings have begun against 3,800 youths and that the
number could eventually reach 20,000. PM

SERBIAN PRESIDENT REAPPEARS. Milan Milutinovic met in
Belgrade on 8 September with a delegation from the Zastava
automobile plant. This was his first public appearance for
some time (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 7 September 1999). The next
day, he met with ousted Bosnian Serb President Nikola
Poplasen. PM

BERN: NO EVIDENCE OF MILOSEVIC FORTUNE. The Swiss government
said in a statement on 8 September that its investigators
have found no evidence that Milosevic and other top Serbian
indicted war criminals have deposits in Swiss banks. There
have been reports in foreign and independent Serbian media in
recent years that Milosevic and his allies have deposited
large sums of money in foreign banks. Much of the money is
thought to be in Russia, Cyprus, or Greece. PM

PETRIC URGES NATO NOT TO FORGET BOSNIA. Wolfgang Petritsch,
who is the international community's new high representative
in Bosnia, told NATO officials in Brussels on 8 September
that Bosnia will continue to need peacekeepers to provide
basic security. He stressed that he realizes the importance
of Kosova, but at the same time he urged NATO not to deplete
its forces in Bosnia in order to send them to that province.
PM

IZETBEGOVIC: NO EVICTIONS FOR REFUGEES. Alija Izetbegovic,
who is the Muslim member of the Bosnian joint presidency,
told "Dnevni avaz" of 8 September that refugees living in
Sarajevo flats should not obey court orders that they return
those flats to their legal owners. He said that it is
"unacceptable" that people with nowhere to go be told to
leave their current dwellings. Observers note that the
refugees are most likely to be Muslims from rural Bosnia. The
owners of the flats are probably for the most part Serbs or
Croats. PM

BOSNIAN SERBS BOYCOTT MILITARY TALKS. A scheduled meeting of
the Standing Committee on Military Matters did not take place
in Sarajevo on 8 September because the delegation from the
Republika Srpska refused to attend. Bosnian Serb officials
told SFOR that they are concerned about their officers'
security (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 8 September 1999). PM

MORTAR SHELLS FALL NEAR RETURNING REFUGEES. Unknown persons
fired several mortar rounds at a building in Kula Fazlagica
near Gacko on 8 September. The building is the temporary home
of 50 Muslims who recently returned to repair their houses
before winter. The Muslims said that they will remain in the
village, despite a series of incidents. Kula Fazlagica is
near the Montenegrin border. It had been mainly Muslim before
the 1992-1995 war, but Serbian forces drove the Muslims out
at an early stage of the conflict. PM

CASSESE TO LEAVE HAGUE COURT. Tribunal President Gabrielle
Kirk McDonald wrote in a letter to UN Secretary-General Kofi
Annan on 8 September that judge Antonio Cassese will leave
the court on 1 February 2000 to return to the University of
Florence. His decision means that the tribunal will lose
three senior figures within a short time of one another.
McDonald and chief prosecutor Louise Arbour will leave before
the end of 1999. PM

CROATIA TO EASE VAT. Top Croatian officials agreed in Zagreb
on 8 September to end value-added tax on some basic
foodstuffs, some medicines, and books. VAT will soon be
raised for unspecified "luxury goods," RFE/RL's South Slavic
Service reported. Observers note that VAT is highly unpopular
in Croatia, where prices are similar to those in Germany but
the average monthly wage is far lower. Parliamentary
elections are expected by early 2000. PM

ALBANIA'S POLLO WANTS TO UNITE OPPOSITION. Genc Pollo, who is
the deputy leader of the Democratic Party and a candidate for
party chairman, told an RFE/RL South Slavic Service
correspondent in Tirana on 8 September that he wants to unite
the right-of-center opposition. Pollo said that he intends to
improve cooperation with the Republican Party and stressed
that the political parties on the right must put an end to
political infighting. The Republicans harshly criticized the
Democrats during the unrest in 1997, charging party leader
Sali Berisha with authoritarian behavior. A party congress in
late September will decided the issue of the chairmanship of
the Democratic Party. FS

OSCE SAYS GAGAUZ-YERI ELECTIONS 'FAIR'... The OSCE on 8
September issued a statement saying that the 5 September run-
off in the Gagauz-Yeri elections for governor and for 25
seats in the People's Assembly was "calm, orderly, free, and
fair." Five OSCE observer teams visited 57 out of the 62
voting stations. The OSCE said the observers drew attention
to some "procedural and technical problems" during voting and
that "several aspects" in the electoral process "are in need
of improvement." MS

...WHILE URGING FASTER WITHDRAWAL OF RUSSIAN WEAPONS FROM
TRANSDNIESTER. Ten states, including the U.S., Germany and
France, are ready to extend financial aid for the withdrawal
and destruction of the arsenal of the Russian contingent in
the Transdniester, Romanian Radio reported on 8 September,
citing Moldpres. General Ramon Armosa of the OSCE mission in
the region said that representatives of the 10 states will
arrive in the Transdniester in the fall to evaluate the costs
of the evacuation. He said that Russia proposes a five-year
timetable for the withdrawal but that the OSCE experts
believe the evacuation can take place more quickly. MS

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