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RFE/RL NEWSLINE

RFE/RL NEWSLINE Vol. 3, No. 187, Part II, 24 September 1999


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RFE/RL NEWSLINE Vol. 3, No. 187, Part II, 24 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

* EU URGES BELARUS TO FIND DISAPPEARED OPPOSITIONIST

* SOLANA REJECTS INDEPENDENCE FOR KOSOVA

* DJINDJIC SAYS OPPOSITION PROTESTS WILL END IF SUPPORT
CONTINUES TO WANE
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EAST-CENTRAL EUROPE

EU URGES BELARUS TO FIND DISAPPEARED OPPOSITIONIST. The EU on
23 September issued a statement calling on the Belarusian
authorities to find opposition politician Viktar Hanchar, who
disappeared along with a friend last week. The Belarusian
Interior Ministry said the same day that the Prosecutor-
General's Office has instigated criminal proceedings with
regard to Hanchar's disappearance and suspects premeditated
murder. The office opened a similar case on 21 September in
connection with the disappearance of former Interior Minister
Yury Zakharanka in May. The Interior Ministry also reported
that former National Bank chairwoman Tamara Vinnikava, who
disappeared in April while under house arrest, is abroad, but
her precise whereabouts are unknown. JM

BELARUS TO IMPORT 1.5 MILLION TONS OF GRAIN THIS YEAR. Deputy
Premier Alyaksandr Papkou on 23 September said Belarus will
have to import some 1.5 million tons of grain this year at an
estimated cost of $100 million, Belapan reported. Papkou
added that Kazakhstan and Russian regions such as Volgograd,
Krasnodar, and Stavropol are expected to deliver grain to
Belarus. JM

UKRAINIAN PARLIAMENT ACCUSES PRESIDENT OF DICTATORSHIP. The
parliament on 23 September approved a statement accusing
President Leonid Kuchma of creating a dictatorship in the
country ahead of the 31 October presidential elections, AP
and ITAR-TASS reported. The parliament claims that the
authorities are helping the incumbent president to secure his
re-election, saying that the government is virtually
neglecting its functions and has transformed itself into
Kuchma's "campaign headquarters." JM

MOLDOVAN PRIME MINISTER IN ESTONIA. Wrapped up his Baltic
tour, Ion Sturza was in Estonia on 23-24 September. Following
his meeting with Prime Minister Mart Laar, Sturza praised
Estonia's reforms, which, he noted, have "proceeded much
faster in Estonia than in Moldova and we are very much
interested in the Estonian experience," BNS reported. The two
prime ministers also signed a cooperation agreement on
fighting crime. Estonian Foreign Minister Toomas Hendrik
Ilves discussed the Transdniester situation with Sturza,
calling on Russian forces to withdraw from Moldovan
territory. MH

NEARLY 200,000 NON-CITIZENS ELIGIBLE TO VOTE IN ESTONIAN
LOCAL ELECTIONS. The Estonian Electoral Commission announced
that for the 17 October local elections, registered voters
number 1,058,818, of whom 194,525 are non-citizens. Estonian
law allows anyone 18 and over who has a permanent residence
permit to vote in local elections. In Tallinn, the nearly
90,000 non-citizen voters account for some 28 percent of the
total electorate, BNS reported. In the northeastern Ida-Viru
county, there are 66,113 citizens and 74,263 non-citizens on
the election rolls. MH

LATVIA ISSUES EUROBOND. Latvia on 23 September issued 75
million euros ($78.74 million) worth of bonds that have an
6.25 percent annual interest rate. The bonds, which will
mature in May 2004, were placed through Credit Suisse First
Boston, according to BNS. According to Latvian officials, the
terms of this bond issue are the same as those for the 150
million euro bond issue in May of this year. The funds from
the issue are to be used to plug a gap in the budget caused
by the failure to privatize the Latvian Shipping Company (see
"RFE/RL Newsline," 16 September 1999). MH

LITHUANIA TO REPLACE IGNALINA? Amid growing debate over the
government's plan to shut down the first unit of the
controversial Ignalina Nuclear Power Plant (see "RFE/RL
Newsline," 9 September 1999), a high-ranking member of the
ruling Conservative Party has suggested Lithuania replace
Ignalina with another nuclear plant, BNS reported. The
Conservative Party's parliamentary faction has approved a
plan whereby the second unit at Ignalina will be
decommissioned in 2010. Deputy parliamentary speaker Andrius
Kubilius said the party may supplement the current draft
plans with the new proposal, but he added that if the debates
prove to be "too stormy" the faction will abandon the plan
and concentrate on the shutdown of Ingalina's first unit. JC

POLISH PARLIAMENT REDUCES RESTRICTIONS ON ECONOMIC ACTIVITY.
The parliament on 23 September passed a law reducing to seven
the number of sectors in which licenses are required, PAP
reported. These are minerals and explosives; arms,
ammunition, and military know-how; fuel and energy;
protection of property and persons; transport and air
services; toll highway construction and maintenance; and
radio and television broadcasting. The same day, the
parliament introduced an amendment to the pension law whereby
the social security agency will be able to borrow $1 billion
from the state treasury to pay pensions and credits the
agency drew earlier to stay afloat. JM

POLISH STRETCH OF YAMAL-EUROPE PIPELINE OPENED. Gazprom head
Rem Vyakhirev on 23 September participated in the
inauguration of the 682-kilometer Polish stretch of the
Yamal-Europe gas pipeline, PAP reported. According to
Vyakhirev, the pipeline will carry up to 40 million cubic
meters of gas a day by the end of this year. The EuRoPol Gaz
company, which is 48 percent owned by Gazprom, financed the
pipeline project in Poland. JM

CZECH PREMIER RESPONDS TO BLAIR'S LETTER ON ROMA. Milos Zeman
on 23 September said he has responded to a letter from
British Prime Minister Tony Blair regarding the exodus of
hundreds of Czech Roma to the U.K., CTK reported. In his
letter, Blair indicated that Britain may have to introduce a
visa restriction for Czechs if the situation is not resolved
in the near future. Zeman described the letter as a "friendly
warning" and said he responded with a letter detailing a list
of government measures aimed at dealing with the situation. A
record number of Czech Roma left the country for Britain in
August. In other news, an official from the Council of Europe
told CTK on 23 September that the council has submitted its
analysis of the Czech Republic's press bill to Zeman's
government. The report, which has not been officially
released, is reportedly critical of certain provisions of
that bill. VG

CZECH DEPUTY PARLIAMENTARY CHAIRMAN OFFERS TO RESIGN.
Stanislav Gross has asked the Social Democrats (CSSD) for a
vote of confidence in his capacity as deputy chairman of the
Czech Chamber of Deputies and as chairman of the CSSD
parliamentary group, Czech media reported. Gross was
responding to accusations in the media that he allowed a
private company to pay for his cell phone. Many observers in
the media view the affair as part of an internal power
struggle within the governing Social Democratic Party. VG

GERMAN OFFICIAL LINKS SLOVAK NUCLEAR DECISION TO EU
ACCESSION. German Foreign Ministry State Secretary Wolfgang
Ischinger told Slovak President Rudolf Schuster that
Bratislava's decisions regarding nuclear energy could be
"crucial" in the country's attempts to join the EU, Slovak
media reported on 23 September. The comments were related to
reports that the Slovak government intends to shut down the
first reactor of the Jaslovske Bohunice nuclear power plant
in 2006 and the second in 2008 (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 22
September 1999). Schuster said the issue has been analyzed by
"experts" and should not be "politicized." VG

HUNGARY DELAYS DUTCH MILITARY EXERCISE. The Hungarian
parliamentary Defense Committee announced on 23 September
that 10 Dutch F-16 fighter aircraft must obtain special
parliamentary approval for cross-border military exercises in
Hungary and Slovenia, according to a Hungarian radio report
cited by the BBC. Earlier, the Hungarian Defense Ministry had
agreed to allow the planes to conduct a seven-day exercise in
the country but had made no mention of flights into Slovenian
air space. As a result, the Defense Committee called for a
special parliamentary vote on the issue for 27 September.
Ferenc Juhasz, a Socialist Party member of the committee,
blamed the Defense Ministry for the confusion. VG

SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE

SOLANA REJECTS INDEPENDENCE FOR KOSOVA... NATO Secretary-
General Javier Solana said on 23 September that ethnic
Albanians in Kosova will have to give up any plans for
establishing independence from Belgrade, AP reported. Solana,
speaking in Washington, said a "shifting of borders" in
Yugoslavia could lead to fragmentation elsewhere in the
Balkans and perhaps even in Russia. Solana, who will leave
his post on 6 October, said he is confident that there will
be "moral reconstruction" in Kosova but that "it will take
time to cure the many wounds." Solana said the war waged by
NATO in Kosova "changed the history of Europe." He added that
the only disappointment of his tenure was that Yugoslav
President Slobodan Milosevic is still in power. PB

...WHILE THACI ADVISER PREDICTS SOVEREIGNTY IN 10 YEARS.
Sabri Kicmari, an adviser to Kosovar Albanian leader Hashim
Thaci, said on 23 September that Kosova will be independent
in 10 years, dpa reported. Speaking on Berlin radio, Kicmari
said he is "sure that the majority of Kosova citizens will
opt for independence." He said a return of some Serbian
soldiers to the province, as mandated in the June peace
agreement, is unacceptable. And he argued that Thaci could be
viewed as the next prime minister of Kosova. "The Washington
Post" reported on 24 September that many senior U.S.
officials have dropped their opposition to Kosova breaking
away from Yugoslavia, seeing such a development as
inevitable. State Department spokesman James Rubin, however,
said "we have always said we do not support independence for
Kosova." PB

SERBS VOW TO FORM THEIR OWN 'DEFENSE CORPS.' Kosovar Serb
leader Momcilo Trajkovic said on 24 September that Serbs will
demand that they be allowed to set up five cantons within
Kosova and establish their own militia if the newly created
Kosova Protection Corps is allowed to exist, AP reported.
Trajkovic said the cantons will be formed in part of
Prishtina and its surroundings, in northern Mitrovice,
southeastern Gjilan, western Peje, and in the south of the
province. He said his boycott of the interim Serb-Albanian
council will end only if NATO and the UN agree to those
demands. Trajkovic's plan to set up cantons based on
ethnicity was dismissed by UN and NATO officials in Kosova
several weeks ago. PB

DJINDJIC SAYS OPPOSITION PROTESTS WILL END IF SUPPORT
CONTINUES TO WANE. After the second straight day of declining
support, Serbian opposition leader Zoran Djindjic said the
campaign to oust Yugoslav President Milosevic will end unless
more people join the demonstrations, Reuters reported. An
initial crowd of some 400 increased to about 5,000 in
Belgrade for the third rally on 23 September. That was about
half the number who had protested the previous day. Protests
organized by the coalition Alliance for Change in other towns
and cities were also smaller than on previous days. Djindjic
said "Belgraders have yet to realize that Milosevic's regime
took away our freedom, our future." Alliance for Change
coordinator Vladan Batic said the turnout was low at the
start of the 1996 winter protests as well but that those
rallies quickly turned into mass demonstrations. In a
separate rally, some 2,000 high school students demonstrated
against a ban on travelling abroad imposed by the education
minister for "security reasons." PB

YUGOSLAV MILITARY HOLDS EXERCISES NEAR KOSOVA. The Yugoslav
army held military exercises on 23 September near its
southern province of Kosova, Reuters reported. Colonel-
General Nebojsa Pavkovic, the commander of Yugoslavia's Third
Army, said after the exercises that Belgrade will not
recognize the formation of the Kosova Protection Corps. He
called the civilian force a "deceit and farce." PB

COUNCIL OF EUROPE TO HELP GET MONEY TO REBUILD BRIDGES. The
Council of Europe has unanimously adopted a Hungarian
proposal to request financing from the EU to rebuild the
destroyed bridges in Novi Sad, Hungarian Radio reported on 23
September. The proposal would allocate some $14 million for
the reconstruction of the three bridges, which were wrecked
during the NATO bombing campaign. PB

MONTENEGRO TO DRAFT ITS OWN TRADE, CUSTOMS POLICIES. Deputy
Premier Asim Telalevic announced on 24 September that
Montenegro will begin drafting a trade policy independent of
Belgrade, dpa reported. Telalevic said the republic will have
to eventually draw up customs and trade regulations because
of Serbian threats to block shipments for food and other
goods to Montenegro. Montenegro has threatened to introduce
its own currency and to even hold a referendum on
independence if Belgrade does not agree to revise the
relationship between the Serbian and Montenegrin republics.
PB

MACEDONIA FREES NORWEGIAN PEACEKEEPER. Macedonia has released
a Norwegian soldier who was detained last month for his part
in a car crash that killed Macedonian Minister without
Portfolio Radovan Stojkovski, his wife, and daughter, Reuters
reported on 23 September. His release ends a bitter battle
between Skopje and Oslo, which claimed that as a member of
NATO, the soldier could be tried for wrongdoing only in his
home country. A NATO spokesman in Macedonia said the soldier
will stand trial in Norway for charges associated with the
accident. The NATO vehicle was reportedly travelling on the
wrong side of the road when it struck the minister's car. The
incident outraged many Macedonians who are wary of NATO's
presence in their country. NATO still has several thousand
troops in Macedonia. PB

MACEDONIAN FOREIGN MINISTER ASKS THAT PROMISES BE KEPT.
Aleksandar Dimitrov has urged the international community to
fulfill the financial and political pledges it made to
Macedonia during the Kosova crisis, an RFE/RL correspondent
reported on 23 September. Addressing the UN General Assembly
in New York, Dimitrov said that the consequences of the
conflict are still being felt and that financial support from
the international community is "indispensable" in order for
the country's economy to recover. Dimitrov said the best
guarantee for security in the Balkans would be to admit more
countries in the region to the EU and NATO. In other news,
Macedonia rejected appeals to allow some 450 Roma to cross
the border from Kosova. The Roma said they are seeking to
escape attacks by ethnic Albanians. PB

PETRITSCH TO SET UP ANTI-CORRUPTION BODY. Wolfgang Petritsch,
the international community's high representative to Bosnia-
Herzegovina, said he will form a Anti-Corruption and
Transparency Group to help combat fraud, Reuters reported on
23 September. Petritsch said such a body would "provide a
significant boost in our fight against corruption." "The New
York Times" reported last month that some 20 percent of the
$5.1 billion aid given to Bosnia has been embezzled or lost
through corruption. In other news, Robert Barry, the head of
the OSCE mission in Bosnia, said that Republika Srpska Vice
President Mirko Sarovic should take over the post of
president in line with the republic's constitution. He made
his comments in Banja Luka after meeting with Republika
Srpska Premier Milorad Dodik. PB

ALBANIA PRAISES NATO FOR ENDING 'GENOCIDE.' In an address to
the UN General Assembly on 23 September, President Rexhep
Meidani expressed Albania's gratitude to NATO for ending the
Serbian "genocide: of ethnic Albanians in Kosova, AP
reported. Meidani said the principles of the UN charter were
upheld because the alliance's air strikes ended an
"unprecedented genocide" by Serbian forces. He said "we
welcome the international community for having...shown its
firm will to condemn and to take effective measures to put an
end to crimes perpetrated against a defenseless population."
PB

GERMAN CHANCELLOR URGES ROMANIA TO CONTINUE REFORMS. Gerhard
Schroeder on 24 September said his country will support
Romania's efforts to join the EU, but he added that Bucharest
must continue to implement tough reforms. Schroeder, who is
on a two-day visit to Romania, also thanked the country for
its support of the NATO bombing campaign in Yugoslavia
earlier this year. The German chancellor insisted that
Romania is part of a "comprehensive accession process" to the
EU that includes all candidates for membership. But he added
that "if and when" Romania accedes to the EU depends on the
country's "own economic progress," Reuters reported. VG

ROMANIA SECURES BORDER. Romanian Interior Minister Constantin
Dudu Ionescu on 23 September said his country has met EU
targets for securing its borders, Reuters reported. Under an
agreement with the EU, Romania pledged to reform its border
guard system. However, Ionescu voiced discontent at what he
described as the EU's failure to disburse 20 million euros
($20.8 million) to Romania to pay for logistics related to
securing the border. He said the EU has given the country
only 10.5 million euros for the project. VG

JOINT ROMANIAN-MOLDOVAN PEACEKEEPING BATTALION DISCUSSED.
Romanian Defense Minister Victor Babiuc and his Moldovan
counterpart, Boris Gamurar, discussed the creation of a joint
peacekeeping battalion during a 23 September meeting in
Chisinau, according to a Rompres report cited by the BBC.
Babiuc said Romania is ready for the creation of such a
battalion. Moldpres reported that the two sides also talked
about the possibility of creating a larger battalion
involving Polish and Ukrainian troops as well. Gamurar
stressed that Romania has agreed to allow Moldovan military
personnel to undergo training in Romania, Rompres reported.
VG

BULGARIAN PREMIER REASSURED AFTER TALKS WITH SCHROEDER. Ivan
Kostov said he has more confidence in the implementation of
the Balkan Stability Pact following talks with German
Chancellor Schroeder in Sofia on 23 September, an RFE/RL
correspondent reported. Kostov said Schroeder assured him
that the pact will be implemented without delay, including
measures related to the resumption of river trade on the
Danube. However, Schroeder did not promise any direct
financial aid to Bulgaria with regard to this issue. Sofia
claims it lost some $100 million in trade revenue after NATO
bombed bridges on the river during the campaign in Yugoslavia
earlier this year. Schroeder also stressed that Bulgaria has
made "very large strides" in its reform process, and he
pledged German support for the country's efforts to join the
EU, BTA reported on 23 September. VG

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