A disagreement may be the shortest cut between two minds. - Kahlil Gibran
RFE/RL NEWSLINE

RFE/RL NEWSLINE Vol. 3, No. 192, Part II, 1 October 1999


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RFE/RL NEWSLINE Vol. 3, No. 192, Part II, 1 October 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

* BELARUSIAN WORKERS PROTEST GOVERNMENT'S ECONOMIC POLICIES

* SERBIAN RIOT POLICE BEAT DEMONSTRATORS AGAIN

* SERBIAN DAILY SHUT DOWN
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EAST-CENTRAL EUROPE

BELARUSIAN WORKERS PROTEST GOVERNMENT'S ECONOMIC POLICIES.
"Our enterprises are becoming bankrupt because of the current
economic policy, extortionate taxes, the multitude of
Belarusian ruble exchange rates, and excessive state
expenditures," some 15,000 workers said in a statement
adopted at a rally in Minsk on 30 September. The rally
demanded that President Alyaksandr Lukashenka cancel his
decree introducing a contract system of employment in
Belarus. It also supported the trade union petition
requesting access to state-controlled media, which some
300,000 people have already signed. Alyaksandr Bukhvostau, a
trade union leader, told the crowd that the authorities
resorted to "draconian measures" in order to prevent Minsk
workers from participating in the demonstration. "As long as
we have such a political authority, the state has no
prospects," Belapan quoted Bukhvostau as saying. JM

LUKASHENKA SAYS RUSSIA-BELARUS UNION TREATY DRAFT IS
'LAUGHING STOCK'... The Belarusian president on 30 September
lashed out at Moscow for not meeting his expectations with
regard to the planned Russia-Belarus union state. Referring
to a draft union treaty approved by Russian President Boris
Yeltsin for publication in the media, Lukashenka said "it is
a laughing stock, not a treaty," Interfax reported. He added
that the proposed draft "does not differ at all" from the
union treaty currently in force. Lukashenka said he does not
intend to publish the draft for public discussion in Belarus
because he has a "constitutional right" to sign it even in
its "radical version," which would provide for a common
presidency. "If Yeltsin does not sign it, I still have time
to sign the treaty with someone else," Lukashenka noted. JM

...LAMBASTES RUSSIA'S YAVLINSKII FOR 'INSULTING' BELARUS.
Referring to Russian State Duma deputy Grigorii Yavlinskii's
recent proposal to close the Russian-Belarusian border and
stop financing Belarus, Lukashenka said Yavlinskii "appeared
on television screens [on 26 September] on the orders of the
West and, first and foremost, the U.S.," Interfax reported.
According to Lukashenka, Yavlinskii's suggestions that
Belarus is a "black hole" and a "weight around Russia's feet"
are "insulting" to the Belarusian people. He added that he is
sure that Yavlinskii's proposal was an election gimmick. "It
will be a pity for Russia if such people come to power there,
because they are pro-Western-minded politicians," Lukashenka
commented. JM

BELARUS PAYS COMPENSATION FOR EXPULSION OF U.S. AMBASSADOR.
The Belarusian government has earmarked $119,500 in
compensation to the U.S. Embassy in Minsk for the expulsion
of Ambassador Daniel Speckhard from his residence at Drazdy
in June 1998, Belapan reported. Earlier, the U.S. had said it
invested some $800,000 in the reconstruction of Speckhard's
residence there. JM

UKRAINIANS BELIEVE PRESIDENTIAL POLL RESULTS WILL BE
FALSIFIED. In a 1-12 September poll conducted among 1,200
Ukrainians by the Kyiv-based Institute of Politics, only 5
percent of respondents said they believe that the results of
the 31 October presidential elections will not be falisified,
Interfax reported on 30 September. Of those polled, 43.9
percent said the ballot will be falsified to a large degree
and 26.7 percent said it will be falsified somewhat. The
remainder were unable to answer the question. According to
the same poll, 60.6 percent of respondents have not yet
decided for whom they will vote in the elections. JM

ESTONIA'S WTO RATIFICATION INVALID? Estonian Legal Chancellor
Eerik-Juhan Truuvali has said that the parliament's
ratification of the protocol of accession to the World Trade
Organization was invalid (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 30 September
1999). According to the constitution, he noted, ratification
requires the support of a majority of the 101-member
parliament because it places a financial obligation on
Estonia, "Postimees" reported. The measure passed by a simple
majority of 48 to seven. Truuvali recommended that the
parliament hold another vote on ratification. Estonia is
required to ratify the protocol and pass all relevant
legislation by 31 October, otherwise it will have to
renegotiate its accession package, thus delaying membership.
MH

LATVIAN PARLIAMENT SETS UP PANEL TO INVESTIGATE PEDOPHILIA
SCANDAL. Lawmakers on 30 September formed a panel to
investigate a growing pedophilia scandal. Ruling coalition
members Latvia's Way and For Fatherland and Freedom as well
as the opposition Social Democratic Workers Party called for
the formation of such a panel; the main coalition People's
Party, however, will not participate, LETA reported. Earlier
this month, a television program broadcast by LNT and
produced by parliamentary deputy Edvins Inkens of Latvia's
Way accused a local beauty-pageant organizer of sexual
assault and pedophilia and also linked two unnamed cabinet
members to the scandal. The government has vehemently denied
any involvement. To date, no concrete information has been
presented to the Prosecutor-General's Office, and Prosecutor-
General Janis Skrastins has suggested that the accusations
made in the television program may have been unsubstantiated.
MH

LUKOIL WARNS LITHUANIA. Russian oil giant LUKoil demands to
be an "equal partner" in Lithuania's oil sector and is
threatening to cut off crude oil supplies if it is not
granted that status, ELTA reported. Mikhail Mashkov, the
representative of the Russian Gas and Industrialists Union to
Lithuania, said on 30 September that LUKoil, as the "world's
leading oil company," is "not satisfied" with the "prospect
of purchasing 10 percent" of Mazeikiai Oil, Lithuania's oil-
processing conglomerate. Unless LUKoil is allowed to buy a
one-third stake in Mazeikiai, it will effectively pull out of
Lithuania and will supply only enough crude for the company's
gas stations in that country. Also on 30 September, the
parliament approved a package of bills aimed at facilitating
the sale of Mazeikiai Oil to U.S.-based Williams
International, a measure that was supported only by the
ruling Conservative Party and several Christian Democrats.
Negotiations with Williams have proved difficult, missing
every deadline established to date. MH

PRODI REASSURES POLAND ON EU ENLARGEMENT, BUT GIVES NO DATE.
European Commission head Romano Prodi reassured Premier Jerzy
Buzek and President Aleksander Kwasniewski in Warsaw on 30
September that he is in favor of speeding up EU enlargement
and will assist Poland in its EU membership bid. Prodi,
however, appeared to distance himself from his earlier
statements that the EU summit in Helsinki in December should
set a timetable for accepting new members. "There is a little
'I do not know'," Reuters quoted him as saying when he was
asked whether Poland and the five other fast-track candidate
countries will know the date of their entry after the summit.
JM

EU AGAINST TRANSITION PERIOD ON SALE OF LAND. The EU has
prepared a position document that opposes requests from
prospective membership candidates to impose temporary
restrictions on foreign ownership of land, CTK reported on 29
September. The union has asked for more information from
countries that have requested such "transition periods,"
including the Czech Republic and Hungary. The Czech
Republic's chief EU negotiator, Pavel Telicka, has insisted
on the legitimacy of his country's stance on the issue, CTK
reported on 30 September. VG

GERMAN CHANCELLOR VISITS PRAGUE. Gerhard Schroeder on 30
September said his country will push to have the Czech
Republic accepted into the EU in 2003, "Mlada fronta Dnes"
reported. Both Schroeder and Czech Prime Minister Milos Zeman
said that Czech-German relations are at a high point.
Schroeder noted that the Czechs showed solidarity with his
compatriots 10 years ago in their efforts to emigrate to the
West before the fall of the Berlin Wall. "It's time to repay
solidarity with solidarity," he said. Schroeder also
distanced himself from attempts by German opposition parties
to pass a parliamentary resolution calling on the Czech
Republic to cancel the Benes decrees, under which Sudeten
Germans were expelled from Czechoslovakia after World War II.
VG

CZECHS NOT WORRIED ABOUT SALE OF TANKS TO YEMEN. Czech Prime
Minister Milos Zeman has confirmed that the Czech Republic
will sell 97 of its T-55 tanks to Yemen, despite concerns
that Yemen may re-export the tanks to a third country,
"Lidove noviny" and "Yemen News" reported on 1 October. Petr
Necas, chairman of the parliamentary Defense and Security
Committee, raised concerns on 30 September that Yemen might
be planning to re-sell the tanks to Sudan. The UN has imposed
a trade embargo on Sudan, which is suspected of engaging in
terrorist activities. Earlier, Poland had signed a deal to
sell T-55 tanks to Yemen but canceled the agreement when 20
of the tanks appeared in Sudan. VG

PARLIAMENT COMMISSION CRITICIZES CZECH TELEVISION. The
parliamentary media commission on 30 September accused state-
owned Czech Television of failing to carry out its duties in
connection with its decision to re-broadcast a communist-era
television series, Czech media reported. Czech Television
argued that it has been broadcasting the series, along with
documentaries and discussions about each episode, as a means
of "opening up a discussion on the past." The chairmam of the
commission had earlier called on the Czech Television board
to resign for allowing the series to be broadcast. VG

SLOVAK PARLIAMENT DISMISSES SLOTA FROM KEY POST. The Slovak
parliament on 30 September voted 82 to two with one
abstention to remove Jan Slota from his post as chairman of
the legislative oversight committee for the Slovak
Intelligence Service, TKE reported. Slota is currently
seeking to hold on to the chairmanship of the extremist
Slovak National Party (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 28 September
1999). Christian Democratic Movement deputy chairwoman Anna
Zaborska--who recently returned from a trip to the U.S.--said
U.S. officials "saw an inconsistency" between Slovakia's
stated commitment to democratic principles and the fact that
it took the parliament so long to remove Slota from the key
post. VG

HUNGARY PRAISES SLOVAKIA'S IMPROVED MINORITIES' POLICIES. The
Hungarian-Slovak Committee on Minorities met on 30 September
in Bratislava, according to an MTI report cited by the BBC.
The Hungarian delegation, led by Foreign Ministry State
Secretary Zsolt Nemeth, praised steps taken by the current
Slovak cabinet to remedy the violations of minority rights
committed by the previous government. However, the delegation
also expressed regret that the current law on the use of
minority languages in Slovakia was framed in a way that is
not acceptable to the country's Hungarian minority. The
Slovak delegation argued that the law is both acceptable to
European institutions and in accordance with the Slovak
Constitution. VG

SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE

SERBIAN RIOT POLICE BEAT DEMONSTRATORS AGAIN... Serbian riot
police charged at and beat back a crowd of some 40,000
protesters as they attempted to march to the main Yugoslav
government building in Belgrade, the independent B2-92 Radio
reported. At least 10 people were reported injured in the
incident, which took place as marchers attempted to cross a
bridge into Novy Belgrade. Police said 21 people were
arrested, and they warned the organizers of the
demonstrations, which have entered their ninth consecutive
day, to stop disturbing "public peace and order." Zoran
Djindjic, a leader of the Alliance for Change (SZP), said
protestors will continue to rally and will attempt again to
march to Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic's home in the
Dedinje district. Rallies attended by some 10,000 people were
also reported in Nis and Novy Sad. PB

...AS POLICE ACTIONS ARE CONDEMNED. NATO Secretary-General
Javier Solana said in Madrid on 30 September that the
Yugoslav government will not solve discontent among Serbs by
"dealing violently with people demonstrating peacefully,"
Reuters reported. Solana said he would like to see opposition
forces in Serbia "more united." Serbian Renewal Movement
leader Vuk Draskovic, who has refused to join in the
opposition protests, said "Milosevic is ready for
bloodshed...the lives of people mean nothing to him."
Draskovic repeated his desire for early elections so that
Milosevic can be replaced via the ballot box. The Russian
Foreign Ministry said it is concerned by the clashes, and it
urged dialogue between the opposition and the government.
U.S. National Security Adviser Sandy Berger said the police
actions in Belgrade are "contemptible," an RFE/RL
correspondent reported. Berger added that the use of force by
Milosevic shows his regime's desperation. The U.S. based
humanitarian organization Human Rights Watch condemned the
"unnecessary and excessive use of force by Serbian police."
PB

SERBIAN DAILY SHUT DOWN. Police sealed off the offices of the
independent daily "Glas Javnosti" on 30 September and slapped
a 15-day ban on the publication of the newspaper, the AP
reported. Police said the shutdown was due to "financial
irregularities," while editor Vjekoslav Radovic said it was
because the daily had printed leaflets distributed at
opposition rallies. On 1 October, police also surrounded the
offices of the Alliance for Change, reportedly to detain Ceda
Jovanovic, the publisher of the leaflet "Promene" (Changes).
Jovanovic told Reuters by telephone that he and several
others had barricaded themselves in the office. He said the
attempt to arrest him was "expected." PB

SERBIAN OPPOSITION LEADERS MEET TO DISCUSS EARLY ELECTIONS.
The leaders of 17 Serbian opposition groups held a round-
table meeting on 30 September to discuss their participation
in early elections, Reuters reported. The meeting was
organized by the Democratic Center. Miladin Kovacevic, an
official from the Serbian Renewal Movement, said the meeting
was constructive and was just the first in a series of
discussions among the opposition on its strategy and tactics
for calling early elections. In Paris, the dissident Serbian
economists' Group 17 held talks with French Foreign Minister
Hubert Vedrine on a plan to distribute oil to parts of Serbia
governed by opposition parties. Vedrine said he backed the
group's "energy for democracy" plan. PB

KFOR COMMANDER CONCERNED ABOUT SECURITY IN KOSOVA.
Lieutenant-General Michael Jackson, the head of NATO forces
in Kosova (KFOR), said in Tirana on 30 September that he is
not satisfied with the level of security in the Serbian
province of Kosova, AP reported. Jackson added, however, that
his troops are determined to break the "cycle of violence" in
the province based on "ethnic hatred." Jackson met with
Deputy Premier Ilir Meta and Defense Minister Luan Hajdaraga
during his trip. Discussions centered on the situation in
Kosova as well as the NATO troops in Albania (AFOR-2). There
are some 2,000 troops in AFOR-2 operating under KFOR command.
They maintain communications between the port city of Durres
and the Kosova border. Jackson said those troops will likely
remain in place as long as KFOR is in Kosova. PB

ETHNIC ALBANIAN PATIENTS, STAFF REMOVED FROM HOSPITAL IN
KOSOVA. KFOR troops have removed the remaining nine ethnic
Albanian patients and 10 Albanian nurses and doctors from the
main hospital in the divided town of Mitrovice, AP reported
on 30 September. The hospital is in the northern part of the
town, dominated by Serbs, while the southern part of the town
is controlled by ethnic Albanians. French KFOR troops keep
the two sides separated. Ethnic Albanians needing medical
treatment will now be taken to Prishtina. PB

BERISHA WARNS OF ALBANIAN FEDERATION... Former Albanian
President Sali Berisha said on 30 September that Albanians
throughout the Balkans may unite if "anti-Albanian racism"
continues in other countries where Albanians are in the
minority, Reuters reported. Speaking at a convention of the
opposition Democratic Party, which he heads, Berisha said "we
are not seeking to change borders" but one could not exclude
the possibility of Albanians forming a "federation of free
Albanians in the Balkans as a fundamental condition of
survival." He added that UN governance in Kosova is only a
"first step toward independence." PB

...AS HIS PARTY PURGES MODERATES. Three members of the
Democratic Party's steering committee considered to be more
moderate than party leader Berisha were expelled from the
party on 30 September, AP reported. Ylli Vejsiu, who was
often critical of Berisha for his autocratic ways, was
dismissed along with two other committee members. The
expulsions come one day after party official Genc Pollo's
decision not to challenge Berisha for the chairmanship of the
party (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 30 September 1999), accusing
Berisha of manipulating the nomination process. Local media
also report that Pollo and his family had received death
threats. PB

U.S. BACKS ALBANIAN BID FOR WTO. The U.S. said on 30
September that it has agreed to support Albania's bid to join
the World Trade Organization, AFP reported. In a bilateral
agreement signed in Washington, Albania will reduce tariffs
and other trade barriers in the agriculture, banking,
insurance, and telecommunications sectors, among others. U.S.
Trade Representative Charlene Barshefsky said the agreement
will benefit Albania by increasing its commercial ties with
the U.S. and other WTO members. PB

SLOVENE PRESIDENT PLEDGES SUPPORT FOR ALBANIA. Milan Kucan
said in a meeting with his Albanian counterpart, Rexhep
Meidani, in Ljubljana that Slovenia strongly supports the
democratic process in Albania, ATA reported on 30 September.
Kucan also said his government will work with Albanian
officials to help them towards the country's goal of joining
NATO and the EU. Meidani, on a two-day visit to Slovenia,
said relations between the two countries were good but that
increased trade and a more liberalized visa regime should be
worked on. Meidani also met with Foreign Minister Boris Frlec
and parliament speaker Janez Podobnik as well as attending a
business conference. PB

HUNGARIAN CONSUL BUILDING IN ROMANIA FINED FOR FLYING FLAG.
The Mayor's Office in the city of Cluj-Napoca has slapped an
80,000 lei ($5) fine on the owner of a building inhabited by
the Hungarian consulate-general for flying the Hungarian
flag, according to a 29 September Hungarian TV2 report cited
by the BBC. Mayor Gheorghe Funar said the building's owner
would be fined again if the flag is not removed. VG

INCREASE IN ATTACKS ON ROMANIAN JOURNALISTS. The Agency for
Media Monitoring has noted a "sharp increase" in recent
months in the number of attacks on Romanian journalists
investigating corruption cases, AP reported on 30 September.
The agency reported that three journalists who were writing
stories on illicit business deals were attacked this month.
Two of the journalists were pushed and shoved by a group of
construction workers, while the third was thrown from a
moving train. VG

ROMANIAN MINORITY DEPUTIES WANT MORE REPRESENTATION.
Representatives of minorities in Romania's parliament are
planning to push for changes to the electoral law that would
give those minorities greater representation in local and
national legislatures, according to a 30 September Mediafax
report cited by the BBC. VG

U.S. PLEDGES TO CONTINUE SUPPORT FOR MOLDOVA. U.S.
Undersecretary of State Strobe Talbott on 29 September told
visiting Moldovan Foreign Minister Nicolae Tabacaru that the
U.S. will continue to support Moldova's independence and
integrity "especially in the context of the present situation
in Southeastern Europe," Basa-Press reported. Both officials
agreed that Moldova and Russia should quickly finalize plans
for the withdrawal of Russian troops from the Transdniester.
VG

BALKAN FINANCE MINISTERS CONCERNED ABOUT STABILITY PACT. The
finance ministers of Bulgaria, Macedonia, and Albania voiced
their concerns about the delay in implementing the Balkan
Stability Pact, BTA reported on 30 September. Bulgarian
Finance Minister Murayev Radev said the speed at which the
Stability Pact is developing is "not satisfactory." The three
ministers, who were meeting in Washington, D.C., agreed to
approve a final report on their countries' infrastructure
needs at a November meeting in Sofia. Radev said they will
also invite finance ministers from Romania, Bosnia-
Herzegovina, and Croatia to attend the meeting. VG

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