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RFE/RL NEWSLINE

RFE/RL NEWSLINE Vol. 3, No. 211, Part II, 29 October 1999


___________________________________________________________
RFE/RL NEWSLINE Vol. 3, No. 211, Part II, 29 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

* LITHUANIAN PRESIDENT CONSIDERS CALLING EARLY ELECTIONS

* MACEDONIA TO ELECT A PRESIDENT

* MONTENEGRO ADOPTS LAW ON CITIZENSHIP
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EAST-CENTRAL EUROPE

EXILED BELARUSIAN SPEAKER CALLS ON WEST TO PRESSURE MOSCOW.
Syamyon Sharetski, the speaker of Belarus's dissolved Supreme
Soviet, said in Copenhagen on 28 October that Western
countries must pressure Russia to cease supporting Belarusian
President Alyaksandr Lukashenka, AP reported. Sharetski, who
lives in exile in Lithuania, said that if a union between
Belarus and Russia comes to fruition, Lukashenka will be
elected president of the new entity. Commenting on the
rousing reception Lukashenka received after an address to the
Russian State Duma earlier this week (see "RFE/RL Newsline,"
27 October 1999), Sharetski called the Belarusian president a
"brilliant demagogue" whose populist message of "taking all
from the rich and giving everything to the poor" resonates
well in the Duma, most of whose members "want to reestablish
the Soviet Union." Sharetski met with Danish officials in
Copenhagen and said he is working on "getting Belarus back on
track to democracy." PB

U.S. AMBASSADOR RESPONDS TO LUKASHENKA'S ANTI-AMERICAN
STATEMENTS. Daniel Speckhard, the U.S. ambassador to Belarus,
said on 28 October that the Belarusian government is
responsible for human rights abuses as well as for the
country's "worsening relations with all Western countries and
its self-imposed isolation," Belapan reported. Speckhard was
responding to Lukashenka's comments at a CIS youth conference
in Minsk the previous day in which he accused the U.S. of
sucking money out of Russia and other former Soviet republics
and of not respecting Belarusian traditions and "ancient
civilization." Speaking of the U.S., Lukashenka had also
commented "its history goes back [only] 300 years, when all
of those riff-raff from Europe moved there." Speckhard said
he is convinced that Belarusians will not fall for the
Belarusian government's "Cold War tactics." He added that it
is time for Belarus to join "the family of democratic
nations," release "political detainees," and stop harassing
opposition parties, NGOs, and the media. PB

UKRAINE DISMISSES LUKASHENKA CRITICISM. President Leonid
Kuchma's office on 27 October dismissed charges by Belarusian
President Lukashenka that Kyiv is yielding to U.S. pressure,
AP reported. Kuchma spokesman Oleksandr Martyenko said "the
relations between the Ukraine and the U.S. are those of two
civilized nations. Nobody has exerted any pressure [on
anyone]." Lukashenka said in Moscow that Washington offered
Kuchma financial support in exchange for a meeting between
him and Belarusian opposition leader Syamyon Sharetski.
Lukashenka said the secret meeting took place earlier this
month, but Kuchma denies there was such a meeting. Lukashenka
added that "Ukraine is looking to the West and aspires to
join NATO. It is practically isolated from us and conducts
pro-Western policies." PB

TOP CANDIDATES FOR UKRAINIAN PRESIDENCY TRADE JABS. Ukrainian
President Kuchma said on 28 October that "there is no
significant difference between" his two closest rivals for
the presidency, Petro Symonenko and Natalia Vitrenko, AP
reported. Kuchma said they "both profess the same ideology,
which is dangerous for the country." Symonenko, the leader of
the Communist Party, asked "why is the present-day
dictatorship of bandits better than the upcoming dictatorship
of the proletariat?" Vitrenko advocates Marxist economics and
wants to break relations with the IMF. Symonenko and Vitrenko
are expected to battle for second place behind Kuchma in the
31 October vote. If none of the 13 candidates gets 50 percent
of the vote, then a run off election will be held the
following week. PB

UKRAINIAN CURRENCY SLIDES AGAINST DOLLAR. The hryvnya fell to
about 4.85 to the dollar on 28 October from 4.7 the previous
day, AP reported. Central Bank head Viktor Yushchenko said
the loss in value is due to "negative political expectations"
on the eve of the presidential election. The latest slide
brings the rate outside of the Central Bank's trading
corridor for this year, which was set at between 3.4 and 4.6
hryvnya to the dollar. PB

TALLINN COALITION AGREEMENT SIGNED. The three parties of the
national ruling coalition and People's Trust, which
represents Russian speakers, signed a cooperation agreement
giving the two groups a majority of seats in the Tallinn City
Council (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 25 October 1999). The new
council voted by 33 to 31 to appoint Rein Voog of the Reform
Party as council chairman, thereby ousting Edgar Savisaar
from that post, "Postimees" reported. The coalition earlier
had named Interior Minister Juri Mois of the Pro Patria Union
as its candidate for Tallinn mayor. MH

FAILED LATVIAN BANK RENEWED. Pirma Latvijas Komercbanka
(PLKB) began operations on 26 October. PLKB is the successor
to Rigas Komercbanka, which was declared insolvent earlier
this year (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 24 March 1999). Officials
said that on the first day of operations there were more
deposits than withdrawals, LETA and BNS reported. MH

LITHUANIA'S ACTING GOVERNMENT TO ACCEPT WILLIAMS OFFER. The
acting government has approved the final documents detailing
the sale to U.S.-based Williams International of a 33 percent
stake in the Lithuanian oil sector complex, ELTA reported.
The cabinet on 29 October voted to authorize acting Minister
of Government Reform and Municipal Affairs Sigitas Kaktys and
acting Transportation Minister Rimantas Didziokas to sign the
contracts on shares, investments, and management on behalf of
the government. Kaktys, who headed the negotiating team over
the last week, said that Williams had made concessions to
Lithuania during the final day of negotiations, lowering
Lithuania's financial commitments by $9 million and extending
the term for payments. AB

LITHUANIAN PRESIDENT CONSIDERS CALLING EARLY ELECTIONS. In a
televised speech to the nation, Valdas Adamkus said that if
the parliament fails to form a stable government, it may be
advisable to hold early national elections, possibly at the
same time as the local elections next March, ELTA reported on
28 October. Adamkus the previous day accepted the resignation
of Prime Minister Rolandas Paksas, who had refused to sign
the Williams contracts, and re-appointed Minister of Social
Welfare Irena Degutiene as acting premier. Degutiene served
as interim prime minister six months ago when the
Conservative government of Gediminas Vagnorius resigned.
Adamkus is expected to nominate a new premier on 29 October.
Degutiene is a leading candidate for the post. AB

POLISH PRIME MINISTER SUSPENDS ECONOMIC ADVISER. Jerzy Buzek
sent his economic adviser, Jerzy Kropiwnicki, "on holiday" on
28 October after he made gloomy economic forecasts that
caused the country's currency to drop sharply, AP reported,
citing PAP. Kropiwnicki had predicted the previous day that
Poland's inflation rate this year will be higher than the
government forecast of 8.1 percent and that the current
account deficit will be nearly double its level last year.
His comments caused the zloty to fall to a two-year low of
4.22 to the dollar, about 2.37 percent below the parity rate
set by the Central Bank. Finance Minister Leszek Balcerowicz
said Kropiwnicki was spreading "black propaganda" and
"tendentious and exaggerated statements." The row increases
tensions between members of the ruling coalition. Balcerowicz
and his Freedom Union, which is a member of the coalition,
have called for Kropiwnicki to be sacked. PB

POLISH FARMS TO MEET EU STANDARDS IN FOUR YEARS. Agriculture
Minister Artur Balazs said on 27 October that Polish farms
will be restructured to meet EU standards by 2003, Reuters
reported. Balazs said the government will be able to downsize
the number of farms from the current 2 million to some
800,000 by that time. Nearly one-quarter of Poland's
workforce is tied to loss-making agriculture enterprises, by
far the highest share among prospective EU members. The EU
says it would cost some 4.2 billion euros ($4.5 billion)
annually to extend current EU subsidies to Polish farmers. PB

CZECH DEPUTY PREMIER RESIGNS. Egon Lansky, deputy premier
in charge of foreign affairs and security, will tender his
resignation as soon as he is discharged from the hospital,
Prime Minister Milos Zeman told journalists on 28 October,
after informing President Vaclav Havel of Lansky's
decision. Zeman did not mention any reason for Lansky's
departure from the cabinet, CTK reported. He has been
increasingly criticized by the media and the opposition for
the poor performance of the Czech Republic in meeting EU
integration conditions and for having opened an illegal
bank account in Austria. Also on 28 October, Zeman said
that if the Civic Democratic Party (ODS) withdraws from the
"opposition agreement," he will immediately start talks
with the Christian Democratic Party and the Freedom Union
on forming a new coalition. MS

CZECH PREMIER SAYS ODS WANTS TO SHARE GOVERNMENT'S SUCCESS.
Addressing a 28 October gala dinner organized by his Social
Democratic Party to mark the 81st anniversary of the
foundation of Czechoslovakia, Zeman said that his cabinet
has managed to gradually help the country emerge from its
crisis and that having witnessed this accomplishment, the
ODS now wants to share the success. "Those who helped rob
the country are now offering to take part in further
privatization. Those hit by the [government's] clean-hands
anti-corruption campaign are saying they would like to
improve the legal system," Zeman remarked. MS

CZECH PRESIDENT SEES COUNTRY AT A CROSSROADS.' President
Vaclav Havel on 28 October said that on the 81st
anniversary of the foundation of Czechoslovakia, the Czech
Republic is "at a historical crossroads" where it will have
to choose between "assuming its share of responsibility for
Europe, the world, and its civilization" or "taking care of
ourselves alone." Havel said the first option is one of
"responsible participation in improving the world," while
the second amounts to "building walls from concrete or [to]
visa requirements, import surcharges and quotes, and a ban
on evil foreigners buying houses here." MS

SLOVAK GOVERNMENT 'TECHNICALLY INITIALS' AGREEMENT WITH
VATICAN. Foreign Minister Eduard Kukan on 27 October told
journalists that the government has "technically initialed"
an agreement with the Vatican. He said the text of the
agreement has not been finalized but "specific points"
could be still negotiated. He said the government will not
make public the text of the agreement before it is
discussed with the Holy See because of "ethics and
correctness toward the partner," CTK and SITA reported.
President Rudolf Schuster on 28 October left for a two-day
visit to Italy and the Vatican. MS

FORMER SLOVAK PREMIER REJECTS POLICE SUMMONS. Vladimir
Meciar has twice failed to respond to a subpoena to answer
questions about the abduction of former President Michal
Kovac's son in 1995, CTK reported on 28 October, citing the
daily "Slovenska Republika." The daily said a Bratislava
police leader has asked police officials to "draw up
alternative plans for bringing Meciar [in] to answer
questions." MS

GERMANY SEARCHES FOR STASI MONEY IN HUNGARY. A German
government commission is searching for some 3-4 billion
German marks allegedly laundered in Hungary in the late
1980s by the East German secret services (Stasi),
"Vilaggazdasag" reported on 27 October. In 1991, the
Hungarian National Bank stopped opening anonymous accounts,
and Stasi funds were transferred to secret accounts of
newly emerging private banks, a member of the commission
told reporters. Hungarian Finance Ministry State Secretary
Mihaly Varga said both his ministry and the government will
aid the commission's investigation, which is expected to be
completed within six months. MSZ

SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE

MACEDONIA TO ELECT A PRESIDENT... Voters go to the polls on
31 October in the first round of voting to elect Macedonia's
second president since independence in 1991. If, as expected,
none of the six candidates wins a majority, a second round
will take place on 14 November. Incumbent Kiro Gligorov is
not running for re-election. He is the first of the post-
communist heads of state in the Yugoslav successor states to
leave office. Moreover, his is the only one of those
republics to win independence from Belgrade peacefully. Known
as "the old fox," Gligorov is widely credited with having
kept his country out of regional conflicts. He also sought to
establish good relations with neighboring states without,
however, drawing too close to any of them. In recent months,
he has been involved in acrimonious public disputes with the
center-right government of Prime Minister Ljubco Georgievski,
who has been in office for almost one year. Gligorov is close
to the opposition Social Democrats, who held power until
Georgievski and his allies defeated them in a campaign that
emphasized promoting free markets and ending corruption. PM

...BUT WHO WILL IT BE? The two leading contenders for the
presidency are Vasil Tupurkovski of the multi-ethnic
Democratic Alternative and Boris Trajkovski of Georgievski's
Internal Macedonian Revolutionary Organization (VMRO),
Reuters reported on 28 October. Both parties belong to the
governing coalition and were long expected to field a joint
candidate, namely Tupurkovski. But continuing rivalries
within the coalition and poor performances by some of
Tupurkovski's ministers in the cabinet led VMRO to decide to
go it alone. Both of the main ethnic Albanian parties are
running a candidate, but their voters are likely to come
exclusively from the Albanian minority, which represents only
about one-quarter of the population. Trajkovski, Tupurkovski,
and the Social Democrats' Tito Petkovski have all sought to
court the Albanian vote. Most parties agree on the need for
economic development, European integration, and ethnic
harmony. PM

MONTENEGRO ADOPTS LAW ON CITIZENSHIP... The parliament in
Podgorica passed a law on Montenegrin citizenship on 28
October. The new legislation recognizes a separate
Montenegrin citizenship distinct from that of Yugoslavia or
Serbia. Deputies loyal to Yugoslav President Slobodan
Milosevic walked out of the session, saying that the law is
separatist. Pro-independence Liberals also quit the meeting,
charging that the legislation does not go far enough to
restore full independence, AP reported. PM

...PREPARES TO INTRODUCE GERMAN MARK. President Milo
Djukanovic said in Podgorica on 28 October that Montenegro is
ready to introduce the German mark as a parallel currency to
the Yugoslav dinar (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 25 October 1999).
He stressed that while Montenegro does not want to
destabilize Yugoslavia or the region, the government is
obliged to protect its citizens against growing inflation in
Serbia. PM

DODIK BLASTS BELGRADE OVER CURRENCY CHARGE. Republika Srpska
caretaker Prime Minister Milorad Dodik told Belgrade's
"Danas" of 29 October that Yugoslav Information Minister
Goran Matic is trying to deceive his own people. Matic
recently charged that with Western backing, the Republika
Srpska has sought to destabilize the Yugoslav dinar by
"flooding" Serbia with forged dinar banknotes. Dodik
commented that people forge only strong currencies, not the
inflation-plagued dinar. He added that the source of Serbia's
economic woes is its own regime, whose policies constitute an
"economic war" against Serbs in both Serbia and Bosnia. PM

PETRITSCH INTRODUCES DECREES ON BOSNIAN PROPERTY. The
international community's Wolfgang Petritsch issued several
decrees on 28 October enabling Bosnian refugees and displaced
persons to reclaim their property in either half of the
republic. He called the decision a "watershed,"
"Oslobodjenje" reported. Observers note that a major problem
preventing people from going home is that other people are
squatting in their flats and houses. Local nationalists often
back the squatters in their claim to the property in an
effort to consolidate the results of "ethnic cleansing." PM

PARTIES REGISTER FOR BOSNIAN VOTE. Officials of the OSCE,
which organizes elections in Bosnia-Herzegovina, said in
Sarajevo on 28 October that 73 parties and 17 independent
candidates have registered for the local elections slated for
April 2000, dpa reported. PM

CROATIAN PRESIDENT IN THE VATICAN. Franjo Tudjman opened an
exhibition of Croatian religious art in the Vatican on 28
October (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 15 October 1999). PM

META ACCEPTS ALBANIAN PREMIERSHIP. President Rexhep Meidani
named Deputy Prime Minister Ilir Meta to head the new
government following the recent resignation of Meta's ally
Pandeli Majko (see "RFE/RL Balkan Report," 29 October 1999).
Meta said that he "will do the impossible to work for a
better life for Albanian citizens." He noted that he will
retain Interior Minister Spartak Poci, who has cracked down
on gangs, particularly in the north. PM

CONVOY OF SERBS ATTACKED IN KOSOVA. Some 1,500 ethnic
Albanians blocked and ransacked a convoy of 155 Serbs in Peja
on 27 October, injuring at least 18. A Dutch KFOR commander
said that some of the Serbs would "certainly" have been
killed if peacekeepers had not intervened. The Serbs were en
route from their isolated settlement near Rahovec to
Montenegro. They continued on their way after the incident.
UN, KFOR, and Serbian officials condemned the attack. Serbian
spokesmen said in Belgrade that the incident shows that KFOR
is unable to protect Kosova's Serbian population. PM

AIR CORRIDOR TO KOSOVA TO REOPEN. The Macedonian authorities
on 28 October approved a request by NATO and the EU to reopen
an air corridor to civilian flights to Kosova (see "RFE/RL
Newsline," 15 October 1999). PM

SERBIAN OPPOSITION AGREES TO STICK TOGETHER. Representatives
of 15 opposition parties agreed in Belgrade on 28 October to
work together "before, during, and after" any future
elections, RFE/RL's South Slavic Service reported. The single
largest opposition party, which is Vuk Draskovic's Serbian
Renewal Movement, did not sign the pact. Elsewhere, Serbian
Deputy Prime Minister Vojislav Seselj said that the governing
parties will also maintain a united front whenever elections
are held. PM

MILOSEVIC PRAISES RAMSEY CLARK. Former U.S. Attorney General
Ramsey Clark met with Milosevic in Belgrade on 28 October.
The Serbian leader called his guest "brave, objective, and
moral" for his opposition to NATO's recent bombing campaign
against Serbia, AP reported. Very few Westerners have called
on Milosevic since May, when the Hague-based war crimes
tribunal indicted him for atrocities committed in Kosova. PM

DEL PONTE WANTS BIG FISH. Carla del Ponte, who is the Hague
tribunal's new chief prosecutor, said in Prishtina on 28
October that her priority will be to bring top-ranking war
criminals to justice. These include Milosevic, Bosnian Serb
leader Radovan Karadzic, and Bosnian Serb General Ratko
Mladic, she added. She noted that Milosevic may face charges
in addition to those for which he has already been indicted.
In The Hague, a court spokesman said that Serbia, Croatia,
and the Republika Srpska have failed to deliver a total of 35
indicted war criminals to the tribunal. PM

EU TO GIVE ROMANIA LARGE GRANTS. EU commissioner for
enlargement Guenter Verheugen said in Bucharest on 28
October that the union will provide Romania with 600
million euros ($636 million) annually until 2006 to upgrade
transport, environment, agriculture, and rural development
programs. Verheugen, who met with President Emil
Constantinescu and Chamber of Deputies Chairman Ion
Diaconescu, said the EU wants to see consensus among
Romanian parties on joining the union, RFE/RL's Bucharest
bureau reported. The government the same day approved
Romania's National Development Plan, which is to be
submitted to the EU by the end of the month. MS

ROMANIAN PRESIDENT SLAMS OPPOSITION LEADER. In a statement
released on 28 October, Constantinescu said that Party of
Social Democracy in Romania Deputy Chairman Adrian
Nastase's recent criticism of the government's decision to
raise wages for employees of the Defense and Internal
Affairs Ministries is "demagogic." Nastase had said the
decision is a "bribe paid ahead of the electoral campaign
for the use of [police] truncheons." The Defense Ministry
also criticized Nastase, who responded that he was not
insulting "those in uniform" but the "demagogy that
characterizes the discourse of those in power." MS

ROMANIAN STUDENTS PROTEST. Thousands of students marched in
Bucharest and other cities on 27 and 28 November demanding
higher grants and better living conditions on campus,
RFE/RL's Romanian service reported. The students said they
have decided to go on strike for "an unlimited period." MS

RUSSIAN CONTINGENT IN TRANSDNIESTER DESTROYS ARSENAL.
Russian troops in the Transdniester on 27 October destroyed
several tons of ammunition that had belonged to the former
14th army stationed in the separatist region, ITAR-TASS and
BASA-press reported. General Valerii Yevnevich, who
commands the Russian contingent in the breakaway region,
told journalists that the destruction of the ammunition was
stipulated in an agreement with Tiraspol that had been
reached "with the assistance of Prime Minister Vladimir
Putin." ITAR-TASS cited Yevnevich as saying that the
withdrawal of the remaining arsenal "will take up to six
years" and require "400 special trains" that will transit
Ukraine. Romanian Radio reported on 28 October that Putin
has invited Transdniestrian leader Igor Smirnov to Moscow
for talks. MS

BULGARIA, EU TO NEGOTIATE CLOSING KOZLODUY. The Bulgarian
government on 28 October announced it will begin negotiations
with the EU on a plan to shut down the aging Kozloduy nuclear
plant, AP reported. The agency said that under the government
plan, Bulgaria wants to leave the two newer reactors
functioning until the two older ones have been
decommissioned. BTA reported the same day that parliamentary
Energy Committee Chairman Kiril Ermenkov said that the older
units must not be closed before 2003, while the newer ones
must operate until 2008-2010. Ermenkov said that the EU
proposal that the older units be closed in 2001 and the newer
ones the following year is "unacceptable." MS

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