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RFE/RL NEWSLINE

RFE/RL NEWSLINE Vol. 3, No. 185, Part II, 22 September 1999


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RFE/RL NEWSLINE Vol. 3, No. 185, Part II, 22 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

* COUNCIL OF EUROPE ENDS MONITORING OF SLOVAKIA

* THOUSANDS IN SERBIA DEMONSTRATE AGAINST GOVERNMENT

* MOSCOW, BELGRADE DENOUNCE NEW KOSOVA CORPS
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EAST-CENTRAL EUROPE

U.S. CALLS ON BELARUS TO FIND MISSING DISSIDENTS. "The United
States is greatly concerned about this pattern of
disappearances of opponents to [President Alyaksandr]
Lukashenka's continued rule in Belarus," the U.S. State
Department said in a 21 September statement. It was referring
to the disappearances of Supreme Soviet Deputy Chairman
Viktar Hanchar on 16 September, former Interior Minister Yury
Zakharanka on 7 May, and former National Bank Chairwoman
Tamara Vinnikava on 8 April. The State Department called on
the Belarusian government "to do everything in its power to
locate" the missing persons and ensure their safety. JM

GAZPROM OPENS YAMAL-EUROPE PIPELINE SECTION IN BELARUS.
Gazprom head Rem Vyakhirev and Belarusian President
Lukashenka on 21 September opened a 209-kilometer section of
the Yamal-Europe gas pipeline stretching from the city of
Nyasvizh to the Polish border. The new Belarusian pipeline
stretch is connected to the existing inter-Belarus pipeline
system and will allow Gazprom to export up to 30 million
cubic meters of gas from Siberia to Poland. "We estimate that
following the opening of this pipeline section we will
improve solving our everyday problems by 60 percent,"
Lukashenka commented. "I want to say that we have never felt
ill-will toward Belarus. We have always honestly and
voluntarily done everything necessary for Belarus and for
Russia," Belarusian Television quoted Vyakhirev as saying. JM

UKRAINIAN CABINET FAILS TO REPAY BACK WAGES, PENSIONS. The
Finance Ministry said on 21 September that since the
beginning of the year, the government has repaid only 5
percent of its 2.4 billion hryvni ($524 million) debt in
pension and wage arrears, AP reported. President Leonid
Kuchma has ordered the government to pay off the debt by
October. The parliament recently made this task even more
difficult by increasing the minimum pension from 24.9 hryvni
to 55 hryvni (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 20 September 1999). "If
the decision takes effect, those paid 30 hryvni a month will
be getting 60 and those paid 500 will be getting 1,000,"
Interfax quoted Kuchma as saying on 20 September. JM

UKRAINE'S MARCHUK VOICES DOUBT OVER SURVIVAL OF ANTI-KUCHMA
ELECTION ALLIANCE. Former Premier Yevhen Marchuk has voiced
doubt whether his presidential election coalition with
Oleksandr Tkachenko, Oleksandr Moroz, and Volodymyr Oliynyk
(see "RFE/RL Newsline," 25 August 1999) will field a single
candidate against Kuchma in the 31 October elections, UNIAN
reported on 20 September. Marchuk said the coalition may turn
into a "group of three or even two" because "each member of
the alliance is sure that he will be the candidate from the
group." JM

ESTONIAN GOVERNMENT CHANGES RULES ON RESIDENCE PERMITS,
VISAS. The Estonian government on 21 September changed
various rules on residence permits and visas that in part
affect former Soviet military personnel deemed "dangerous"
for Estonian independence, BNS reported. "Eesti Paevaleht"
noted the next day that the 400 Soviet officers who were
granted U.S.-funded apartments in Russia will not receive a
permit to stay in Estonia. Estonia will also halt the issuing
of visas at the border. Andres Kollist, director of the
Citizenship and Migration Bureau, criticized that change,
saying that "all European countries, including Russia,
provide for the possibility of the issue of visas on the
border." The changes are to go into effect on 1 October. MH

LATVIAN PRESIDENT MEETS WITH ALBRIGHT. Vaira Vike-Freiberga
met with U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright in New
York on 21 September. Albright praised Vike-Freiberga for
vetoing the controversial new language law (see "RFE/RL
Newsline," 15 July 1999). While appreciating Latvia's
contribution to the peacekeeping forces in the Balkans,
Albright stressed the need for Latvia to increase defense
spending and capabilities, BNS reported. Vike-Freiberga was
in New York to take part in 54th UN General Assembly. MH

LITHUANIAN PARLIAMENT HALTS RUSSIAN BORDER TREATY
RATIFICATION. The parliament's National Security and Defense
Committee on 20 September failed to approve the border treaty
with Russia, thereby delaying the ratification process. Only
six of the 13 members of the committee voted in favor,
"Lietuvos Rytas" reported. The agreement, signed in 1997,
remains in limbo both in Vilnius and Moscow. MH

POLISH CABINET IN CONFUSION OVER SACKING OF COMMANDO CHIEF.
Deputy Prime Minister Leszek Balcerowicz said on 21 September
that he thinks last week's firing of General Slawomir
Petelicki, commander of the elitist Operational Mobile
Response Group, was based on "shaky foundations," according
to PAP. Special Service Minister Janusz Palubicki, who took
charge of the Interior Ministry following the dismissal of
Interior Minister Janusz Tomaszewski, took the decision to
dismiss Petelicki. Deputy Interior Minister Bogdan
Borusewicz, meanwhile, said he thinks that questioning
Palubicki's decision could lead to a government crisis.
Leszek Miller, leader of the opposition Democratic Left
Alliance, told Polish Radio on 21 September that Petelicki's
sacking was a result of an "internal fight" between three
coalition leaders: Prime Minister Jerzy Buzek, Solidarity
Chairman Marian Krzaklewski, and Tomaszewski. Meanwhile,
Palubicki vowed that Petelicki's sacking did not have a
political character, adding that he himself does not intend
to resign. JM

LITHUANIAN PRESIDENT MEETS WITH HAVEL. Valdas Adamkus told
Czech President Vaclav Havel in Prague on 21 September that
although his country would like to join NATO at the same time
as Latvia and Estonia, it is not insisting on that as a
condition of its membership, CTK reported. Both presidents
said their countries wished to become members of the EU and
make a "meaningful contribution" to the process of unifying
the continent. Their "outstandingly good relations" can be
"an inspiration" to the content's integration, Havel and
Adamkus said in a joint declaration. Adamkus also met with
Premier Milos Zeman and discussed economic and military
cooperation. MS

LATVIAN PARLIAMENTARY CHAIRMAN IN CZECH REPUBLIC. Janis
Straum met with Czech Premier Zeman in Prague on 21 September
and discussed economic cooperation and the role of the two
countries' parliaments and governments in advancing EU
integration. He also discussed with Senate Chairwoman Libuse
Benesova the issue of national minorities, which, Benesova
noted, "is one of the main problems" hindering the EU
accession of both Latvia and the Czech Republic. MS

SLOVAK PREMIER MEETS WITH U.S. PRESIDENT. Prime Minister
Mikulas Dzurinda told journalists after meeting with U.S.
President Bill Clinton in New York on 21 September that
Clinton "confirmed [NATO's] open-door policy and clearly said
Slovakia has the best chance of becoming the next member of
NATO," CTK reported. Addressing the UN General Assembly the
same day, Dzurinda said that the Council of Europe needs to
undergo reform. In an obvious allusion to the Yugoslav
crisis, he said the council must "learn the lesson of its
failures in recent crises" and avoid being "marginalized and
losing its role in ensuring world peace and security." He
added that Slovakia supports a political solution in Kosova
and wants to see the democratization of the region "based on
respect of human rights regardless of ethnic origin and
respect of Yugoslavia's territorial integrity." MS

COUNCIL OF EUROPE ENDS MONITORING OF SLOVAKIA. The
Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, meeting in
Strasbourg on 21 September, unanimously decided to end its
monitoring of Slovakia, TASR and CTK reported. The decision
was prompted by the favorable report of the council's two
rapporteurs, Juris Sinka and Goran Magnusson, who said
Slovakia has made significant progress in all areas
monitored. The assembly said that Slovakia must still
implement reforms related to the judiciary, ethnic
minorities, and regional self-rule. It also noted that
monitoring might be resumed if no progress is made in these
areas. And it recommended that Slovakia ratify the European
Charter on Regional and Ethnic Languages. MS

SLOVAK OPPOSITION MOVES TO DISMISS ECONOMY MINISTER. The
Movement for a Democratic Slovakia (HZDS) on 21 September
moved a motion to dismiss Economy Minister Ludovit Cernat,
CTK and SITA reported. The motion must be debated within
seven days. HZDS Deputy Chairman Rudolf Ziak said the HZDS
will also support the government's demand to dismiss National
Property Fund chief Ludovit Kanik and his deputy, Ladislav
Sklenar. The chairmen of the Party of Civic Understanding and
Democratic Party, both of which are members of the ruling
coalition, have also demanded that Cernak be dismissed. MS

HUNGARIAN SMALLHOLDERS VOTE AGAINST BUDGET. The cabinet on 21
September approved next year's draft budget without the
support of any of the ministers representing the junior
coalition Independent Smallholders. Agriculture Minister
Jozsef Torgyan and Defense Ministry State Secretary Janos
Homoki voted against the draft, while Environment Minister
Pal Pepo abstained. Torgyan said the Smallholders will
propose amendments to the budget draft. In other news, Laszlo
Paszternak announced his resignation as chairman of the steel
workers' union, after the Socialist Party recalled him as
Employment Committee deputy chairman (see "RFE/RL Newsline,"
21 September 1999). MSZ

SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE

THOUSANDS IN SERBIA DEMONSTRATE AGAINST GOVERNMENT... Tens of
thousands of people took part in protests on the evening of
21 September calling for the resignation of Yugoslav
President Slobodan Milosevic, RFE/RL's South Slavic Service
reported. Some 20,000 people in Belgrade protested in the
capital's Republic Square. Crowds of some 10,000 were
reported in Novi Sad, Nis, and Kragujevac, and smaller crowds
were reported in 14 other towns and cities. The Beta news
agency reported that police blocked roads in Vojvodina in an
effort to prevent people from traveling to the protest in
Novi Sad. Earlier that day, the Association of Independent
Trade Unions declared a general strike to protest Milosevic's
rule. The union claims some 150,000 members in Serbia and
invited other labor groups to join in the protest. PB

...AS DJINDJIC CALLS MILOSEVIC 'EVIL.' Opposition leader
Zoran Djindjic told the crowd in Belgrade that "we must
finish our task this time. Who is stronger: the people or
evil? Is it Serbia or Milosevic?" Djindjic exhorted the crowd
to encourage others to take part in protests, and he vowed to
continue the daily demonstrations until Milosevic resigned.
He said "if there are 2 million people on the streets of
Serbia after 10 days, it will mean that Serbia has cured
itself," B2-92 reported. Dragoslav Avramovic, former head of
the Central Bank, who has been nominated by one opposition
movement to lead an interim government, said a leadership
change is needed quickly to avert power and heating shortages
this winter. The protests were organized by Djindjic's
Alliance for Change and the Alliance of Democratic Parties.
Vuk Draskovic's Serbian Renewal Movement did not take part.
PB

SERBIAN POLICE SEIZE COPIES OF WEEKLY PAPER, CLAMP DOWN ON
INDEPENDENT RADIO. Serbian border police on 21 September
confiscated a truck that was carrying copies of the
independent Banja Luka weekly "Reporter," Beta reported.
Perica Vucinic, the publisher of "Reporter," said the entire
circulation for the Serbian market was on the truck, which is
being held at the border crossing town of Sremska Mitrovica.
She said this issue of the weekly, which is often critical of
the Milosevic regime, included an article on Serbian tycoons
that have allegedly robbed the country of state funds. In
Belgrade, the Association of Independent Electronic Media in
Yugoslavia reported that Radio Pancevo was asked by the
Yugoslav Ministry of Communications to pay 800,000 dinars
($72,000 at the official exchange rate) to continue using its
frequency. PB

MONTENEGRO SAYS SERBIAN REFUSAL TO HOLD TALKS 'UNACCEPTABLE.'
Montenegrin Prime Minister Filip Vujanovic said on 21
September that his Serbian counterpart, Mirko Majanovic, has
refused to hold direct talks with Podgorica on the nature of
the two republics' relations, Reuters reported. Vujanovic, in
a statement to the media, said Majanovic's decision to try to
move the talks to the Yugoslav parliament because they may
involve changes to the federal constitution is "unacceptable
to us." He added that Montenegro is prepared to negotiate
only "at the level of the two republics. Any agreement must
be reached at that level." But he said the Montenegrin
government is patient because "there is no need to increase
tensions." Montenegro sent a proposal to Belgrade on 5 August
requesting a new relationship between the two republics that
would give Podgorica control over its economic, military, and
foreign affairs (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 6 August 1999).
Montenegrin President Milo Djukanovic has threatened to hold
a referendum on independence if the republics' relationship
is not redefined. PB

MOSCOW, BELGRADE DENOUNCE NEW KOSOVA CORPS. The Russian
Foreign Ministry said on 22 September that the transformation
of the Kosova Liberation Army (UCK) into the civilian Kosova
Protection Corps is a "thoughtless political act," AP
reported. In a statement, the ministry said the arrangement
"is a graphic attempt to legalize part of military
attachments of Kosovo gunmen" and goes "against the spirit"
of UN Security Council resolution 1244 on Kosova. The
Yugoslav Justice Ministry said the agreement will "only serve
to perpetuate...the Serb exodus from Kosovo...and jeopardize
the integrity of Yugoslavia." It added that the agreement
threatens peace in Yugoslavia and violates the part of
resolution 1244 that calls for a demilitarization of the UCK.
In the divided Kosovar town of Mitrovica, Serbs said on 21
September that they will organize their own defense force in
response to the formation of the new Kosovar Albanian corps.
PB

UN LEADER WARNS OF DESTABILIZATION ATTEMPTS BY SERBS. The
UN's special representative in Kosova, Bernard Kouchner, said
on 21 September that there are organized efforts by Serbs to
destabilize Kosova, Reuters reported. Kouchner said "a lot of
unofficial people are coming [to Kosova from Serbia]" and
that some of the incidents "have been organized." He said
"each attack, attempt, murder is a success for Milosevic." He
added, however, that he has no proof of official Serbian or
Yugoslav security personnel returning to Kosova. NATO Supreme
Commander Wesley Clark said one of the three Serbs killed
recently by Russian soldiers was carrying an identity card
from the Serbian Interior Ministry police. PB

CHILDREN KILLED BY UNEXPLODED CLUSTER BOMB. NATO peacekeepers
in Kosova said on 21 September that four children were killed
and two wounded when an unexploded cluster bomb blew up in a
field in eastern Kosova. The bomb had been dropped by NATO
forces during its air strikes on Yugoslavia. PB

NATO MINISTERS AGREE TO CUT TROOPS IN BOSNIA. NATO Secretary-
General Javier Solana said at a 21 September conference of
alliance defense ministers in Toronto that it will be
possible to reduce NATO forces in Bosnia-Herzegovina by one-
third, dpa reported. Solana said a vote on the proposal,
under which 10,000 of the 30,000 troops in Bosnia would be
sent home, would take place at a meeting in Brussels in
December. In other news, the Ministry of Internal Affairs for
the canton of Sarajevo confirmed on 21 September that an
associate of wanted terrorist Osama Bin Laden who was
arrested in Turkey had been carrying a valid Bosnian passport
issued in 1997. PB

CROATIAN PROSECUTORS SEEK 20-YEAR SENTENCE FOR CONCENTRATION
CAMP COMMANDER. State prosecutors asked a Zagreb court on 21
September to sentence Dinko Sakic, a commander of a World War
II concentration camp in Croatia, to 20 years in prison.
Sakic, who was extradited from Argentina last year, is
accused of crimes against humanity in his capacity as head of
the Jasenovac camp from 1941-1945. Prosecutors said he was
aware of the crimes being committed under his command and
that he occasionally took part in the murders and torture of
inmates. A verdict is expected by October. PB

ALBANIAN MINISTER PROPOSES SEPARATING POLICE, MILITARY. The
Albanian minister for pubic order, Spartak Poci, proposed on
20 September that the country's police force no longer be
part of the armed forces, ATA reported. Poci said a bill on
the change will be sent to the cabinet as well as to the
parliament. The move is seen as a main step in a program to
reform the Albanian police. In other news, Albanian President
Rexhep Meidani sent a letter to the president of the European
Radio and TV Broadcasting Union, Albert Sharf, asking for
greater technical and material assistance for Albanian Radio
and Television as well as for broadcast media in Kosova. PB

IMF TEAM ENDS TALKS IN ROMANIA. The IMF team of experts will
wrap up on 22 September its talks with Romanian officials on
the implementation of the agreement reached earlier this
year. The team will report its findings to the fund's
executive board, which is to decide next month whether to
release the second tranche of the $547 million stand-by loan.
The Finance Ministry said the previous day that during the
talks the team "appreciated some favorable results" achieved
so far but noted that there are still "problems" deriving
from wage policies and the restructuring of the banking
system, RFE/RL's Bucharest bureau reported. Media reports
said the team refused to accept a Romanian request to raise
the budget deficit from 3.9 percent to 4.9 percent of GDP. MS

HUNGARIAN CONSUL IN ROMANIA DENIES NATIONALIST ALLEGATIONS.
Hungary's new consul in Cluj, Laszlo Alfoldi, told
journalists on 21 September that Mayor Gheorghe Funar is "a
very interesting personality" but his actions represent "only
a fraction of the Cluj political spectrum," Mediafax
reported. Alfoldi denied allegations by Funar and the Greater
Romania Party that he had engaged in spying in the late 1980s
and was declared "persona non grata" in 1988 for that reason.
Meanwhile, Cluj Prefect Alexandru Farcas has extended until
27 September the ban on demonstrations in Cluj. The ban was
prompted by Funar's intention to call mass protests against
Alfoldi (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 17 September 1999). MS

BULGARIA, MACEDONIA SLAM SLOW START OF BALKAN STABILITY PACT.
Meeting in the southwestern Bulgarian border town of
Blagoevgrad on 21 September, the premiers of Bulgaria and
Macedonia, Ivan Kostov and Ljubco Georgievski, criticized the
West for being slow in implementing the Balkan Stability Pact
agreed on in July, Reuters reported. Georgievski said that
Macedonia and Bulgaria "have several joint projects to be
implemented under the pact" but they noted that the pact is
not functioning yet. Kostov said "skepticism of the Bulgarian
government over the pact's actual implementation is growing,"
adding that "if there are no new developments soon,
skepticism will change into disappointment." The two premiers
pledged to continue promoting understanding between their
countries, and Kostov said that this policy "will be our
reply to both nationalists and Bulgarophobes." BTA reported
that on 21 September Bulgaria delivered the second shipment
of decommissioned tanks and howitzers to Macedonia. MS

EU COMMISSIONER SAYS BULGARIA MAY SOON BEGIN ACCESSION TALKS.
EU Commissioner for Enlargement Guenter Verheugen, speaking
on Fenix television on 20 September, said the EU could decide
at its December summit in Helsinki to begin accession talks
with Bulgaria, BTA reported the next day. Verheugen said that
"politically, Bulgaria has recently registered very positive
achievements," but he added that economic development has
been held up by the conflict in the Balkans. That is why
Bulgaria must be helped to overcome these consequences,
"which is exactly what we are doing," he said. At the same
time, Verheugen warned that even if a decision on starting
accession talks with Sofia is made, the parleys "will be
long." "It would not be right to raise hopes that Bulgaria
will become a full member in three, four, or five years," he
commented. MS

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