A thing well said will be writ in all languages. - John Dryden 1631-1700
RFE/RL NEWSLINE

RFE/RL NEWSLINE Vol. 3, No. 200, Part II, 13 October 1999


___________________________________________________________
RFE/RL NEWSLINE Vol. 3, No. 200, Part II, 13 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

* UKRAINIAN PARLIAMENT ASKS U.S. CONGRESS TO HELP FIGHT
CORRUPTION

* BOSNIAN SERB PREMIER: KARADZIC MUST GO TO HAGUE

* MONTENEGRIN PARTY AGREES TO TALKS WITH SERBIA

End Note: A TEMPORARY REPRIEVE
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EAST-CENTRAL EUROPE

FATE OF POLITICAL DIALOGUE IN BELARUS STILL UNCERTAIN. The
wing of the Belarusian Popular Front (BNF) that supports BNF
Acting Chairman Lyavon Barshcheuski has ceased to be a full-
fledged participant in the opposition group preparing the
OSCE-mediated talks with the regime, Belapan reported on 12
October. Barshcheuski said the BNF will remain in the group
only as an observer. He linked that decision to the
authorities' recent crackdown on the independent press and
NGOs in Belarus. According to Belapan, the opposition United
Civic Party will issue a statement on "the impossibility of a
negotiation process" in the current situation. Meanwhile,
presidential aide Mikhail Sazonau told Belarusian Television
on 12 October that the authorities are ready to start talks
with the opposition "even today." However, Sazonau did not
reveal whether the government will release political
prisoners and grant the opposition access to the state-
controlled media, as oppositionists have demanded. JM

UKRAINIAN PARLIAMENT ASKS U.S. CONGRESS TO HELP FIGHT
CORRUPTION. The Supreme Council on 12 October asked the U.S.
Congress to hand over former Ukrainian Premier Pavlo
Lazarenko's court testimony in connection with his appeal for
political asylum in the U.S. Ukrainian lawmakers want to know
whether President Leonid Kuchma, his family, and top
Ukrainian officials have any bank accounts or real estate in
the U.S. The parliament adopted the request following
Lazarenko's recent pledge to "cooperate with the [Ukrainian]
parliament and justice," UNIAN reported. It added that it
hopes the U.S. Congress will "take a positive decision given
the pressing need to fight international corruption and
organized crime." JM

UKRAINIAN CABINET CUTS SOCIAL DEBTS BY 5 PERCENT. Finance
Minister Ihor Mityukov reported to the parliament on 12
October that the cabinet, which came to power in July 1997,
has managed to reduce total arrears in wages, pensions,
student grants, and other welfare payments from 2.675 billion
hryvni ($594 million) to 2.541 billion hryvni, the "Eastern
Economist Daily" reported. Mityukov noted that all previous
cabinets had gradually increased the social debt. JM

UKRAINE'S SYMONENKO SAYS HE WILL NOT WITHDRAW HIS CANDIDACY.
Communist Party leader Petro Symonenko, who is one of the
leading presidential candidates, has said he will not resign
from the presidential race, AP reported on 12 October.
Symonenko said he had been invited to join the so-called
"Kaniv four" election alliance of Yevhen Marchuk, Oleksandr
Moroz, Volodymyr Oliynyk, and Oleksandr Tkachenko on
condition that he does not run in the 31 October elections.
According to Symonenko, he could not join a group that
include an "anti-Communist" Oliynyk and Marchuk, "who is
supported by many nationalist organizations." JM

PARLIAMENT APPROVES COURSES IN ESTONIAN LANGUAGE AT ALL GRADE
SCHOOLS. Lawmakers on 12 October approved a measure requiring
that Estonian language be taught in all schools beginning
with the first grade. BNS reported that many Russian-language
schools already teach Estonian to young students, generally
at the initiative of the parents or teachers. The amendment
to the education law is effective as of September 2000. MH

LATVIAN REFERENDUM DATE SET FOR 13 NOVEMBER. The Latvian
Central Electoral Commission on 12 October announced that the
referendum on amendments to the pension law will be held on
13 November. The commission also drew up the question to be
asked in the referendum: namely, whether the voter supports
revoking the amendments passed this summer, "Neatkariga Rita
Avize" reported. The commission requested 822,750 lats ($1.4
million) to stage the referendum. The government-sponsored
amendments, passed by a large margin in August, would raise
the retirement age and restrict payments to working
pensioners (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 6 August 1999). MH

LITHUANIA ANNOUNCES GDP SLUMP IN SECOND QUARTER. The
Lithuanian Statistics Office on 12 October announced that GDP
in the second quarter of 1999 dropped by 4 percent. This
follows a 5.8 percent decrease in the first quarter. The
results for the second quarter were delayed by several weeks
owing to late data, news agencies reported. Earlier, the
Central Bank had predicted a second quarter drop of 3
percent. Latvia registered a 1.8 percent drop in GDP in the
second quarter and Estonia reported a 2.4 percent fall (see
"RFE/RL Newsline," 6 September 1999). MH

POLISH MINERS PROTEST RESTRUCTURING PROGRAM. Some 300 miners
staged a mock funeral of Polish coal mines outside the
government office in Warsaw on 12 October. They were
protesting the government's program to restructure the coal
mining industry and demanded additional funds to help laid-
off miners, PAP reported. A restructuring plan that took
effect last year calls for the reduction of coal production
to 110 million tons by 2002 from 137 million tons in 1998. It
also cuts coal mining jobs by 40 percent, to some 138,000.
Since the beginning of 1998, the government has spent more
than 1.7 billion zlotys ($443 million) on payments to 34,500
miners who have left their jobs or are undergoing retraining.
JM

POLISH GOVERNMENT MOVES TO COMBAT MONEY LAUNDERING. Jerzy
Buzek's cabinet has adopted a bill on combating financial
crimes, particularly money laundering, "Zycie" reported on 13
October. If the bill is approved by the parliament, each
"suspicious" or "big" transaction (that is, exceeding
$10,000) will have to be registered with the office of a
proposed inspector-general of Financial Information. In
addition, the police will have the right to check private
bank accounts. "This bill will fill a fundamental gap in our
legislation. Its adoption will also mean [Poland's]
compliance with EU requirements," a Finance Ministry official
told the daily. JM

CZECH OPPOSITION LEADER SKEPTICAL ABOUT EARLY ELECTIONS,
GRAND COALITION. Civic Democratic Party (ODS) leader Vaclav
Klaus told Czech Radio on 12 October that he does not believe
a "grand coalition" of the ODS and the ruling Social
Democratic Party (CSSD) is "possible right now." Early
elections, he said, would obstruct the work of the parliament
and the cabinet for one year and would thus mean that the
Czech Republic would "miss the chance" to join the first
group of new EU members. Klaus refused to tell CTK what
proposals the ODS will submit at its meeting with the CSSD
leadership, which is likely to take place on 13 October. MS

CZECH PREMIER PULLING COMMUNIST RABBIT OUT OF HAT? "Premier
Milos Zeman has reacted to ODS's actions by taking concrete
steps. He has invited me to talks tomorrow, late afternoon.
Maybe we can call it a working supper," Miroslav Grebenicek,
leader of the Communist Party of Bohemia and Moravia, said on
Czech Television on 12 October, CTK reported. MS

CZECH ROMANY LEADER RECEIVES DEATH THREATS. A woman
telephoned the mother of Romany leader Ondrej Gina and
threatened to kill Gina's entire family, CTK reported on 12
October. Gina told the news agency that the threats will not
make him change his stance "on the existence of apartheid in
the Czech Republic." Ladislav Hruska, the mayor of Usti nad
Labem, where a wall is to be constructed separating Czech and
Romany residents, said he received five death threats by
telephone last week. He added that he believes the threats
came from opponents of the wall. At the same time, he noted
that calls from people around the country volunteering to
help the town far exceed the number of threats. MS

SLOVAK PRESIDENT APPEALS TO EU. In an interview with Reuters
on 12 October, Rudolf Schuster appealed to the EU to re-admit
Slovakia into the "fast track" group from which it was
dropped in 1997 because of the undemocratic policies of its
previous government. "We got the yellow card," Schuster said,
but that card was not shown "to me or to the people, but to
the former government." He said it would be "a strong help
for the opposition" if Slovakia were not re-admitted because
former Premier Vladimir Meciar would be in the position to
tell the government "you promised so many things...and are in
the same position as myself." Schuster said that he is not
expecting early elections but that the people must begin to
see positive results of reforms in order to prevent a
backlash in Meciar's favor. MS

SLOVAK PARLIAMENTARY DEUPUTIES ENLARGE NAZI COMPENSATION
ELIGIBILITY. The parliament's Committee on Human Rights has
met demands by the Association of Jewish Religious
Communities and the Union of Anti-Fascist Fighters. On 12
October, it amended the government-sponsored compensation
bill to include persons held in prisoner-of-war camps and
those persecuted because of their race or religion, SITA
reported. MS

SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE

BOSNIAN SERB PREMIER: KARADZIC MUST GO TO HAGUE... Moderate
caretaker Prime Minister Milorad Dodik said that former
Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic and other indicted war
criminals must go to the Hague-based war crimes tribunal
"whether they like it or not." Dodik stressed that a few
individuals must not be allowed to spoil the Republika
Srpska's chances of receiving international aid, investments,
and support, the Frankfurt-based Serbian daily "Vesti"
reported on 13 October. He added that it is necessary to
bring to justice people who killed others simply because the
victims were of a different ethnic group. Dodik argued that
such killers could easily murder persons of their own
nationality as well. Observers note that this is the sharpest
public statement yet by a moderate Bosnian Serb leader
against indicted war criminals. Dodik does not appear to have
mentioned General Ratko Mladic, however. Mladic is one of the
tribunal's most wanted war criminals but enjoys considerable
popularity among Serbs as a defender of his people. PM

...AS SHOULD MILOSEVIC. Dodik added that Yugoslav President
Slobodan Milosevic and Serbian Deputy Prime Minister Vojislav
Seselj should go to The Hague, "Vesti" reported on 13
October. The Bosnian Serb leader suggested that this would be
the best way for the two men "to prolong their biological
lives." Dodik was presumably alluding to the political
killings that are no rarity in modern-day Serbia. He added
that he supports calls by representatives of the
international community for a ban on the Bosnian branch of
Seselj's Serbian Radical Party. PM

BOSNIAN SERB LEADER DEFENDS TALKS WITH MILOSEVIC. Zivko
Radisic, who is the Serbian representative on the Bosnian
joint presidency, said that his recent talks in Belgrade with
Milosevic were in the interests of the Bosnian Serbs (see
"RFE/RL Newsline," 12 October 1999). He added that he will
speak with anyone "if it is in the interests of the Serbian
people and the Republika Srpska," "Vesti" reported on 12
October. He chided his critics--although he did not name
them, he meant Dodik and his government--for reacting
"nervously" to his Belgrade meeting. Radisic said they should
instead think about how they could better promote relations
between Yugoslavia and the Republika Srpska. PM

MONTENEGRIN PARTY AGREES TO TALKS WITH SERBIA. Miodrag
Vukovic, who is a top official of Montenegro's Democratic
Party of Socialists (DPS), said in Podgorica on 13 October
that his party has accepted an offer by Milosevic's Socialist
Party of Serbia (SPS) to discuss the future of relations
between the two republics (see "RFE/RL Balkan Report," 12
October 1999). Vukovic made it clear that the DPS will stick
to the positions that the Montenegrin government set down in
August in its statement on links with Serbia. He added that
"Serbia must [become] a civic, open, and democratic state.
Serbia's [policies have] made it the most isolated country in
the world," Reuters reported. PM

EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT INVITES SERBIAN OPPOSITION. Nicole
Fontaine, who is president of the European Parliament, said
in Brussels on 12 October that she regrets that many leaders
of the Serbian opposition did not attend recent talks with EU
foreign ministers in Luxembourg (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 12
October 1999). She said that she plans to invite the
opposition leaders to discuss prospects for democracy in
Serbia with her and her colleagues. Bernard Kouchner, who
heads the UN mission in Kosova, said that unnamed outside
parties must have a "right to intervene" in potential
conflict situations before bloodshed begins, the "Frankfurter
Allgemeine Zeitung" reported. PM

OBRADOVIC CHIDES FELLOW POLITICIANS. The Social Democrats'
leader Vuk Obradovic, who attended the Luxembourg meeting,
said in Belgrade on 12 October that those opposition leaders
who boycotted the session made a mistake. He denied that the
EU would have insisted that they sign a declaration calling
for Milosevic's extradition to The Hague, AP reported.
Instead, Obradovic continued, the opposition missed a
valuable opportunity to make progress in matters such as
persuading the EU to lift its oil embargo against Serbia. PM

SERBIAN OPPOSITION APPEALS TO EU. Representatives of the
parties that did not go to Luxembourg signed a five-point
declaration addressed to the EU, "Vesti" reported on 13
October. The parties called for holding elections in Serbia
within three months under reformed election laws. The
opposition leaders stressed the dismal state of the Serbian
economy and appealed for the EU to press for the admission of
Yugoslavia to the Balkan Stability Pact. The opposition
representatives added that following the replacement of the
current regime, the EU should make a gift of $1 billion to
Serbia to help it deal with unspecified urgent problems. PM

DATA MISSING IN DRASKOVIC ACCIDENT? A spokesman for Vuk
Draskovic's Serbian Renewal Movement said in Belgrade on 12
October that key data is missing regarding the owner of the
truck that caused the recent traffic accident involving
Draskovic. The spokesman charged that the data "has been
erased" from a police computer, RFE/RL's South Slavic Service
reported (see "RFE/RL Balkan Report," 12 October 1999). PM

NATO COMMANDER: NO DECISION ON KFOR FUTURE BEFORE SPRING.
Italian Admiral Guido Venturoni, who heads NATO's military
committee, said in Copenhagen on 12 October that it would be
"premature" to speculate about any reduction in the size of
KFOR for at least "another five or six months." Current
policy calls for keeping KFOR at a strength of 43,000. PM

EXPERTS DISCOVER MASS GRAVE AT RAHOVEC. German forensics
experts have found a mass grave near Rahovec that may be one
of the oldest ones from the recent conflict, AP reported.
Peter Koehler, who heads the team, said that the grave may
contain up to 90 bodies and date from the July 1998 Serbian
attack on the mainly ethnic Albanian town (see "RFE/RL
Newsline," 21 July 1998). PM

CROATIA WANTS MONTENEGRO PRESENT AT PREVLAKA TALKS. The
Croatian government wrote to UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan
on 12 October that talks between Belgrade and Zagreb on the
future of the Prevlaka peninsula have not resumed because
Serbia continues to "make unacceptable territorial demands"
on Croatia. The government added that it does not consider
any talks with Belgrade to be "legitimate" without the
participation of Montenegrin delegates. This is the first
time that Croatia has formally raised the issue of
Montenegrin participation in the negotiations over the UN-
controlled peninsula, RFE/RL's South Slavic Service reported.
Prevlaka is Croatian territory but offers the only access to
the Montenegrin port of Kotor, which is Yugoslavia's only
deep-water naval base. PM

SLOVENIA CONCERNED ABOUT HAIDER. Deputy Foreign Minister
Franko Juri said in Ljubljana on 12 October that recent
statements by Austrian right-wing leader Joerg Haider
regarding Slovenia and Slovenian-Austrian relations amount to
"blackmail." Haider has called on Slovenia to close its Krsko
nuclear plant, return property confiscated after World War II
to German-speakers, and improve the status of the tiny
German-speaking minority. Earlier, President Milan Kucan said
that the success of Haider's Freedom Party in the 3 October
elections bodes ill for Slovenian-Austrian relations. PM

ALBANIA APPEALS TO MACEDONIA OVER BORDER ISSUES. The Foreign
Ministry handed over a statement to the Macedonian ambassador
on 12 October calling on the authorities to prevent further
fatal incidents along their border. The statement said that
Macedonian border guards killed three Albanian shepherds over
four months without giving the men a chance to explain why
they had strayed over the frontier. Tirana also urged Skopje
to liberalize visa requirements, open another border
crossing, and allow seasonal agricultural workers to work in
Macedonia. PM

ROMANIANS SCANDALIZED BY DE-MYTHICIZED HISTORY TEXTBOOK. The
Education Commissions of the two chambers of the parliament
are meeting on 13 October to discuss demands for the
withdrawal of a history textbook that the Ministry of
Education has approved for the 12th grade. The Romanian
Academy has protested against the use of the textbook, as has
the opposition Party of Social Democracy in Romania, the
Greater Romania Party, and the Party of Romanian National
Unity. The editor in chief of the daily "Adevarul" claims
that the textbook is the result of Hungarian machinations
undertaken in league with the U.S.-sponsored Project on
Ethnic Relations. The textbook (whose use is optional)
questions some of the major Romanian historical myths (the
Dacian-Roman origins of the Romanian nation as well as the
roles of Vlad the Impaler, Michael the Brave, and others)
that were propagated under the Ceausescu regime to promote
nationalism. MS

MOLDOVAN PREMIER REVIEWS ECONOMIC PERFORMANCE. Prime Minister
Ion Sturza on 12 October said on national television that the
decline in GDP this year will "not exceed 2-3 percent in real
terms" compared with 1998. Sturza said that for the first
time since Moldova became independent, budget revenues in
January-September have exceeded planned revenues and were 36
percent higher than in 1998. He said Moldova's hard-currency
reserves amount to $230 million, "which is sufficient to
cover strategic imports for four-and-a-half months." Sturza
said that the government has paid outstanding foreign debt
totaling $235 million and that accumulated debt since January
1999 stands at only $35 million, RFE/RL's Chisinau bureau
reported. In response to a question by Infotag, Sturza said
he expects inflation over the next 12 months not to exceed 15
percent. MS

BULGARIA BREAKS MONEY-LAUNDERING RING. Finance Minister
Muravei Radev on 12 October signed orders terminating the
activities of several companies involved in a money-
laundering ring uncovered last week, BTA reported. On 8
October, Bulgarian officials said they had smashed a money-
laundering ring that had siphoned more then $30 million
through nine local banks over six months, Reuters reported.
The Interior Ministry said that the money-laundering ring
operated through ghost firms set up without proper
registration and performing faked import operations. Nineteen
people were arrested, five of whom have been charged with
illegal money transfer. If convicted, they face sentences of
between one and 10 years in prison. Radev said on 12 October
that more arrests can be expected. MS

BULGARIAN OIL REFINERY SOLD TO LUKOIL. The government on 11
October approved the sale of a 58 percent stake in Neftochim,
Bulgaria's largest oil refinery, to the Russian LUKoil
concern, BTA reported. The state will keep a "golden share"
in Neftochim, which will give it veto power on decisions on
suspending or substantially decreasing oil processing or fuel
production, on granting access to the company's port
facilities or pipelines, and on consolidations, mergers, or
the liquidation of the company. LUKoil will pay $101 million
for the stake and invest $408 million between 2000 and 2005.
It will also take over Neftochim's $30.5 million debt to the
state budget and its $3.6 million debt to the national
insurance fund. MS

END NOTE

A TEMPORARY REPRIEVE

by Jan Maksymiuk

	After several weeks of discussions, leaders of the
Solidarity Electoral Action (AWS) and the Freedom Union (UW)
agreed on 10 October on a new cabinet lineup and coalition
rules. There was no major shakeup of Jerzy Buzek's cabinet,
as some Polish political commentators had predicted. Those
commentators had argued that the current government needs a
radical reshuffle to reverse the dramatic decline in its
popularity.
	The November 1997 marriage of the liberal UW with the
AWS, which brings together right-wing pro-Catholic parties
advocating socially oriented policies, was a difficult one
from the outset. Recent talks between the coalition partners
had two major goals. First, the coalition policy of
appointments required clarification: the UW had repeatedly
complained that the AWS--a group with much stronger
parliamentary support--gives key cabinet posts to party
loyalists rather than to competent professionals. Second, the
two sides sought agreement on a cabinet reshuffle that would
breathe new life into that body and increase the public's
confidence in it.
	The authors of the 10 October compromise agreement seem
rather uncertain about the outcome of their negotiations.
Premier Jerzy Buzek of the AWS said "the most important
problems have been solved" but admitted that he is worried by
the "lack of cohesion of the government." Deputy Premier and
Finance Minister Leszek Balcerowicz of the UW commented that
his party had the choice of leaving the coalition, which
would mean the destabilization of the situation in the
country, or continuing cooperation with the AWS and at the
same time remaining uncertain if the coalition partner will
observe the signed agreement. "We opted for uncertainty,"
Balcerowicz said.
	Some UW activists were less reserved in assessing the
compromise agreement. "The mountain gave birth to a mouse,"
Donald Tusk commented. And UW spokesman Andrzej Potocki said
the compromise on continuing the current coalition is
"slightly rotten."
	The coalition agreed to sack Environmental Minister Jan
Szyszko and Deputy Economy Minister Jan Szlazak, both from
the AWS. The UW will not lose any of its ministers although
the AWS pressed for the ouster of Defense Minister Janusz
Onyszkiewicz and Justice Minister Hanna Suchocka. During the
past several weeks, Interior Minister Janusz Tomaszewski
(AWS) and Stanislaw Alot, head of the Social Security Agency,
have also been dismissed: this means there have been only
four major changes in the government since the coalition
started to discuss the "restructuring" of Buzek's cabinet.
Moreover, there have been no structural changes. The UW
blocked the AWS proposals to create a ministry for regional
development and housing and to merge the European Integration
Committee with the Foreign Ministry.
	The coalition partners also agreed that their
parliamentary deputies will back legislation proposed by the
government (a rule often broken by AWS lawmakers) and that
their ministries will not publicly criticize government
policies. These provisions are a strong indication of the
problems within the uneasy alliance of the UW and the AWS,
which won the 1997 elections on a ticket promising
considerable relief from the market-oriented reforms
implemented earlier in Poland.
	However, the task of regaining the popularity that both
the AWS and the UW enjoyed in 1997 would apparently involve
more than simply reshaping the cabinet. September polls
showed that almost 70 percent of respondents believe that
Poland has taken a "wrong turn," while Buzek's cabinet has
only 16 percent support. More than 30 percent said they favor
early parliamentary elections.
	Most commentators believe that the plunge in the
popularity of the AWS-UW cabinet is the direct result of its
bungled performance in implementing the four major reforms--
of administration, health care, pensions, and education--
aimed at facilitating Poland's accession to the EU by 2003.
That viewpoint may be correct, but in the long run Poles have
more significant reasons for complaining.
	Foreign observers frequently forget the huge social
costs Poles have had to pay for their country's widely
acclaimed role as initiator and champion of market-oriented
reforms in East and Central Europe. According to the 9
October "Polityka," 5.5 million Poles live in poverty (2
million of them in "extreme poverty"). Some 12.5 million
people in Poland live in "subjective poverty" (they believe
that their pride is damaged by their living standards), and
some 16.5 million people live below or at Poland's
subsistence minimum.
	Unemployment is another major problem: more than 2
million Poles have no jobs (12 percent of the country's
workforce). Some 70 percent of them have already ceased to
obtain unemployment benefits (which total up to 384 zlotys
[$95] a month). And 62 percent of Poles have completed only
an eight-grade school, making it extremely different for them
to find new jobs under Poland's changed economic
circumstances.
	These figures are alarming, and it is no wonder that the
opposition Democratic Left Alliance and the Peasant Party are
now pushing for early parliamentary elections, hoping to
capitalize on the AWS-UW's current unpopularity and the
public's growing disappointment with the economic situation.
Radical farmers' leader Andrzej Lepper calls for a change of
not only the government but the entire economic system and is
threatening a "general blockade of the country" in November
unless the parliament is dissolved and new elections held.
	Thus, it appears that the real test for Jerzy Buzek's
cabinet (not to mention Poland's drive for EU membership) has
not yet begun.

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