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RFE/RL NEWSLINE

RFE/RL NEWSLINE Vol. 3, No. 219, Part II, 10 November 1999


___________________________________________________________
RFE/RL NEWSLINE Vol. 3, No. 219, Part II, 10 November 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

xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx
Headlines, Part II

* UKRAINIAN PRESIDENT BUYS MARCHUK'S SUPPORT?

* SERBIAN POLICE BEAT DEMONSTRATORS

* PRIME MINISTER SAYS CROATIAN GOVERNMENT FUNCTIONING
'NORMALLY'

End Note: FOUR YEARS AFTER ERDUT, EASTERN SLAVONIA CONTINUES
TO LAG
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EAST-CENTRAL EUROPE

RUSSIAN OMBUDSMAN SAYS NO HUMAN RIGHTS PROBLEMS IN BELARUS.
Oleg Mironov said in Minsk on 9 November that there are no
problems with human rights in Belarus, Belarusian Television
reported. According to Mironov, Belarus meets world standards
with regard to the independence of the judiciary, while "in
terms of some other [human rights] indicators, [the situation
in Belarus] is even better than in Russia." Following his
meeting with President Alyaksandr Lukashenka the same day,
Mironov noted that one of the aims of his visit to Minsk is
"to shatter a myth about large-scale violations of human
rights and freedoms in Belarus." He added that Lukashenka
invited him to extend his activities to Belarus until the
country enacts a law on the institution of ombudsman. JM

LUKASHENKA SAYS UKRAINE MAY JOIN RUSSIA-BELARUS UNION.
Lukashenka told journalists in Minsk on 9 November that
Ukraine may join the Russia-Belarusian Union "within a year"
if the union "is realized and begins to develop dynamically."
Lukashenka added that Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan also "look
closely" at developments in the union. Meanwhile, Ukrainian
President Leonid Kuchma told the 10 November "Izvestiya" that
the "Slavic union is nothing more than a political trick, an
abstract theoretical construction that has no real basis or
historical prospects." JM

U.S. AMBASSADOR CALLS ON BELARUS TO 'BREAK DOWN BARRIERS.' In
a statement issued on the 10th anniversary of the fall of the
Berlin Wall, U.S. Ambassador to Belarus Daniel Speckhard said
that Belarus is much closer to the rest of Europe than many
other CIS countries, Belapan reported. Speckhard noted,
however, that it will not benefit from this until it "breaks
down barriers that hampers its economic and democratic
development." The ambassador added that "as Belarus tears
down the remaining walls, the United States will be ready to
forge new and enduring ties between our people, societies,
and economies." JM

UKRAINIAN PRESIDENT BUYS MARCHUK'S SUPPORT? President Leonid
Kuchma on 10 November appointed former Prime Minister and
Security Service chief Yevhen Marchuk chairman of the
Ukrainian National Security and Defense Council, ITAR-TASS
reported. Marchuk came fifth in the 31 October ballot with
8.13 percent backing. Both Kuchma and Marchuk have signaled
their willingness to cooperate in order to defeat Symonenko
in the runoff (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 9 November 1999). JM

UKRAINE'S RUNOFF CAMPAIGN SEEN AS 'LUKEWARM.' According to
AP, "lukewarm campaigning and voter apathy" prevail in
Ukraine before the presidential runoff between incumbent
President Kuchma and Communist Party leader Petro Symonenko
on 14 November. Kuchma's campaigners, as expected, have taken
to publicizing the "red revenge" message to the electorate.
Television channels broadcast documentaries about the
communist horrors and compare Symonenko's view of Ukraine's
future to that of Cuba and North Korea. Kuchma on 9 November
appealed to young people to vote on 14 November in order to
keep his rival out of office. In a bid to lure votes of the
moderately leftist electorate, Symonenko's supporters have
began to promote him as a reformed Communist, comparing him
to Polish President Aleksander Kwasniewski. JM

FRENCH FIRM WINS TENDER TO BUILD ESTONIAN RADAR SYSTEM.
French company Thomson CSF has won a tender to build a
comprehensive air surveillance system for Estonia, BNS
reported. The cost of the system will exceed 1 billion kroons
($66 million).The system is scheduled to be completed by the
end of 2001 and will become an integral part of BALTNET, the
joint Baltic airspace surveillance system, which corresponds
to NATO requirements. MH

OPPOSITION FILES SUIT AGAINST TALLINN MAYORAL ELECTION. The
opposition Center Party on 9 November appealed the election
of Tallinn Mayor Juri Mois. Party leader Edgar Savisaar told
BNS that the Centrists want the court to annul the Tallinn
City Council vote for mayor and to suspend Mois from the
office until a ruling is made. The opposition argue that Mois
should not have been allowed to run for the post a second
time after failing to receive a majority vote on 4 November
(see "RFE/RL Newsline," 8 November 1999). Mois was elected in
the second ballot. Mois has chosen to hold on to his
parliamentary seat, which means he must forego his mayoral
salary. Also on 9 November, Tarmo Loodus was sworn in as
interior minister to replace Mois. MH

OMON TROOPS CONVICTED IN LATVIA. The Riga District Court on 9
November handed down guilty verdicts against 10 former OMON
officers who took part in crackdowns during the 1991
independence struggle. The 10 received suspended sentences of
between one and four years and probation of up to three
years, LETA reported. The OMON forces were charged with
attacks against various targets, such as the offices of the
Latvian Popular Front and the Latvian National Independence
Movement (LNNK), and the headquarters of Latvian Television.
BNS added that all civilian claims, such as for property
damage, were dismissed. Another five OMON officers are
involved in a separate trial. Neither the prosecutors nor the
convicted officers indicated whether they will appeal the
verdict. MH

NEW PARLIAMENTARY BOARD APPOINTED IN LITHUANIA. The
Lithuanian parliament appointed a new board on 9 November.
Conservative Party deputy chairwoman Rasa Jukneviciene and
Social Democrat Rimantas Dagys are new deputy speakers of the
parliament. Conservative Vytautas Landsbergis remains
speaker. Two of the four deputy speaker posts were vacated
when Andrius Kubilius became prime minister and Center Union
leader Romualdas Ozolas resigned to move into full
opposition. MH

POLAND'S TAX REFORM UNDER HEATED PARLIAMENTARY DEBATE. A 9
November heated parliamentary debate on the tax reform bill
proposed by the coalition Solidarity Electoral Action and
Freedom Union failed to yield any results since the
parliament lacked a quorum to vote on an opposition motion to
reject the draft legislation, PAP reported. The coalition is
eager to push the bill through the parliament as soon as
possible because new taxes have to be approved and published
by 30 November if they are to take effect in January 2000.
The opposition Democratic Left Alliance says the bill is
unconstitutional (because the trade unions were not
consulted) and vows to contest its legality in the
Constitutional Court immediately after the bill's passage.
The draft calls for personal income tax rates of 19 percent,
29 percent, and 36 percent and the reduction of corporate tax
from 34 percent to 30 percent in 2000. JM

CZECH MINOR OPPOSITION ALLIANCE WILLING TO CONSIDER COALITION
WITH ODS. In a statement to CTK on 9 November, the "four-
party coalition" says it will be willing to start talks with
the Civic Democratic Party (ODS) on forming a new government
if the ODS backs its motion of no confidence in Milos Zeman's
cabinet. The coalition, which includes the Christian Democrat
Union (KDU-CSL), the Freedom Union, the Civic Democratic
Alliance, and the Democratic Union, initiated a no-confidence
motion on 2 November but the ODS has refused to back it. The
coalition, moreover, does not have the necessary
parliamentary strength to have the motion debated. Meanwhile,
CTK and Reuters reported that the ODS-initiated meeting to
discuss forming a new parliamentary majority will take place
on 13 November. The ODS, the Social Democrats, the Freedom
Union, and the KDU-CSL will all participate in that
gathering. MS

SLOVAK DEPUTY PREMIER PRAISES HUNGARIAN COALITION
PARTICIPATION... Deputy Premier Pavol Hamzik told journalists
on 9 November that the presence in the government of the
Hungarian Coalition (SMK) has contributed greatly to the
cabinet's success. Hamzik said the SMK's participation has
"erased the nationalist scarecrow" and made life more
difficult for those who wish to "manipulate" the electorate
by means of "Hungaro-phobia." Hamzik added that the SMK
itself has benefited from its participation in the cabinet
because it had to "change its style" and work for promoting
the interests of all Slovaks--not just those of the Hungarian
minority. MS

...AS SLOVAK NATIONALISTS PROVOKE ANTI-HUNGARIAN INCIDENT.
Slovak National Party (SNS) deputy and honorary chairman
Vitazoslav Moric and several other SNS members shouted
insults at participants in a 9 November ceremony at the grave
of 1848 Hungarian revolution hero Gyorgy Lahner in the
village of Necpaly, central Slovakia, CTK reported. Hungarian
Ambassador to Slovakia Miklos Boros was among those taking
part in the ceremony, which the SNS constantly interrupted by
singing Slovak nationalist songs. Moric said that for
Slovakia, 1848 signifies the beginning of the era of
"flagrant Magyarization." They also objected to the fact that
the ceremony was conducted in the Hungarian language. Deputy
Premier Pal Csaky of the SMK described the incident as
"undiplomatic, unjustifiable, and...offensive." MS

SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE

SERBIAN POLICE BEAT DEMONSTRATORS. Police in Belgrade
forcibly broke up a protest by the student opposition
organization Otpor (Resistance) on 9 November, injuring about
50 demonstrators, RFE/RL's South Slavic Service reported. The
students want the resignation of Yugoslav President Slobodan
Milosevic, early elections, and the repeal of legislation
regulating universities and the media. Police prevented
several buses from reaching the capital from elsewhere in
Serbia. PM

DRASKOVIC BACKERS WALK OUT OF SERBIAN LEGISLATURE... Deputies
belonging to Vuk Draskovic's Serbian Renewal Movement (SPO)
walked out of the parliament on 9 November after legislators
belonging to the governing coalition rejected a motion to
investigate a mysterious car accident last month that left
three of Draskovic's aides dead. Draskovic has called the
accident an "assassination attempt" against him staged by the
authorities (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 6 October 1999). PM

...ARE SKEPTICAL ON REGIME'S ATTITUDE TOWARD ELECTIONS.
Before the SPO deputies walked out of the parliament, the
legislature approved an opposition motion to discuss early
general elections. SPO legislator Milan Mikovic said,
however, that "it's a tactical maneuver [on the part of the
governing coalition]. They are afraid of elections and have
no real intention of holding them," the "Wall Street Journal
Europe" reported. The legislature also began discussions of
proposed changes in legislation regarding elections to local
government posts. The opposition, which controls more than 30
municipalities, is opposed to the proposed changes. PM

MILOSEVIC MEETS WITH RUSSIAN DIPLOMAT. Sergei Lavrov, who is
Russia's ambassador to the UN, discussed Kosova with
Milosevic in Belgrade on 9 November. The two men agreed that
UN resolution 1244 is the "sole document" regulating the
affairs of the province. The resolution states that Kosova
remains a part of Yugoslavia and of Serbia. They also agreed
on the need to send Serbian forces back to Kosova, to ensure
the return of all refugees, and to disarm remaining "armed
formations" in the province. Western diplomats stopped
meeting with Milosevic after the Hague-based war crimes
tribunal indicted him in May for atrocities in Kosova. PM

CHURCH DESTROYED BY FIRE IN KOSOVA. Unknown persons set fire
to the Serbian Orthodox church in the village of Donji Zakut
in the early hours of 9 November. KFOR troops previously
maintained a 24-hour presence at the church but recently
began to limit their role to occasional patrols in order to
conserve manpower. PM

ARTEMIJE APPEALS TO SERBIAN REFUGEES. In Belgrade, Archbishop
Artemije and other leaders of Kosova's Serbian National
Council urged some 100 Serbian refugees from the province to
return to their homes. Artemije stressed that the refugees
must go back if a Serbian presence is to be maintained in
Kosova. PM

MACEDONIA POSTS REWARD IN GLIGOROV CASE. The government on 9
November announced that it will pay up to $550,000 for
information leading to the arrest of the persons who in
October 1995 attempted to kill President Kiro Gligorov with a
car bomb. Interior Minister Pavle Trajanov noted that "it's
been four years since the attempt on President Gligorov's
life, and the investigation has produced no result," AP
reported. Gligorov lost an eye and suffered extensive damage
to his face in the explosion. He will leave office following
the election of his successor on 14 November. PM

PRIME MINISTER SAYS CROATIAN GOVERNMENT FUNCTIONING
'NORMALLY.' Speaking in Zagreb on 9 November, Zlatko Matesa
denied rumors that the government is unable to function
because President Franjo Tudjman has been incapacitated.
Matesa stressed that "everything is functioning completely
normally," including the security services, "Jutarnji list"
reported. The Zagreb daily added that Tudjman's doctors have
stopped issuing daily reports on his condition. Observers
note that the Croatian Constitution assigns 24 powers to the
president that he cannot delegate to anyone else. These
include key decision-making functions in military and
security policy. The constitution is widely believed to have
been written to guarantee Tudjman a commanding role in state
affairs. His recent illness has led to much speculation as to
what would happen if he were to die or become incapacitated
(see "RFE/RL Newsline," 8 November 1999). PM

CROATIAN BISHOP WARNS AGAINST ISOLATION. Archbishop Josip
Bozanic told a meeting in Zagreb to discuss the Vatican's
recent European Bishops' Conference that Croatia must remain
"politically and psychologically" oriented toward Europe,
"Jutarnji list" reported on 10 November. He warned that if
Croats "close themselves off" from Europe, they will find
themselves "back in the East." Bozanic also noted that the
effects of communism on society have proven more deeply
rooted and longer lasting than most people thought at the
time the system collapsed. He added that the period of post-
communist optimism is long past. Observers note that some
elements in the ruling Croatian Democratic Union (HDZ) have
reacted to frequent criticism of its policies by the EU and
OSCE by expressing the view that Croatia does not need to
take European views into account. PM

BOSNIAN PARLIAMENT APPROVES MEASURE ON CORRUPTION. The
legislature on 9 November approved a comprehensive anti-
corruption plan put forward by the international community's
Wolfgang Petritsch. Measures include establishing an
independent judiciary, setting up tighter border controls,
and making a survey of the change in officials' wealth
between 1992 and the present, RFE/RL's South Slavic Service
reported. Observers note that corruption is rampant
throughout Bosnia and is widely seen as a major stumbling
block to post-war reconstruction and development. PM

OSCE APPEALS TO BOSNIAN JOURNALISTS. The office of the OSCE
in Sarajevo called upon all journalists to report to the
organization any threats that they may have received,
RFE/RL's South Slavic Service reported on 9 November. Reports
will be treated as confidential. The move comes after several
violent attacks on journalists. PM

ROW OVER BOSNIAN SERB TELEVISION CHIEF. The Bosnian Serb
parliament will soon discuss the controversy over the
government's decision to replace Andjelko Kozomara with
Slavisa Sabljic as head of Radio Television of the Republika
Srpska (RTRS), "Oslobodjenje" reported on 10 November. Prime
Minister Milorad Dodik says that he sacked Kozomara because
he has become politically too close to Milosevic. Petritsch's
spokesmen argue that Dodik has no right to make changes in
the administration of RTRS and that Kozomara has not allowed
his personal views to affect program content, "Oslobodjenje"
and "Vesti" reported on 9 November. In related news,
"Jutarnji list" wrote on 10 November that Tudjman's top aide
Ivic Pasalic is seeking to "build up a media empire" in
Bosnia. Pasalic is one of the most prominent Herzegovinian
Croats in the Zagreb power structure. PM

ROMANIAN SENATE APPROVES LAND RESTITUTION BILL. The Senate on
9 November approved by a vote of 89 to 12 with 27 abstentions
a bill providing for the restitution to former owners of up
to 50 hectares of farmland and 10 hectares of forest
confiscated by the communist regime, RFE/RL's Bucharest
bureau reported. The Chamber of Deputies passed the law
earlier this year in a version that provided for the
restitution of up to 30 hectares of forest. A bicameral
commission will now mediate to decide on a final version of
the law. MS

ROMANIAN GOVERNMENT ENDORSES BRASOV AGREEMENT. The cabinet on
9 November approved the main points of an agreement reached
one day earlier between its representatives and unions
representing workers at the Roman truckmaker in Brasov,
RFE/RL's Bucharest bureau reported (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 9
November 1999). The cabinet did not approve that part of the
agreement that provides for granting workers tax exemptions
and financial bonuses. It also rejected the demand to raise
salaries, dismiss managers, and revise layoff plans. AP
reported from Brasov that union leaders accuse the government
of fomenting tension by dispatching riot police to the town.
Meanwhile, thousands of students resumed protests in
Bucharest and other Romanian cities to push their demands for
higher grants and better living conditions in dormitories. MS

MOLDOVAN PRESIDENT CALLS PARLIAMENTARY SPEAKER
'IRRESPONSIBLE.' Petru Lucinschi told journalists on 9
November that parliamentary chairman Dumitru Diacov is
"irresponsible," RFE/RL's Chisinau bureau reported. Lucinschi
was responding to Diacov's statement earlier that day
accusing Lucinschi of having "provoked" the government crisis
"in order to impose a state of emergency in the country and
hold early parliamentary elections." He also rejected
Diacov's accusation that he is responsible for the split in
the For a Democratic and Prosperous Moldova Bloc, saying "not
me, but Dumitru Diacov promoted the split...by exercising
pressure [on deputies] to force them to vote" the way Diacov
wanted. Also on 9 November, the World Bank followed the lead
of the IMF by announcing it is suspending credits to Moldova
owing to the parliament's refusal to approve the laws on the
privatization of wineries and the tobacco industry. MS

EU WILL HELP BULGARIA MEET COSTS FOR NUCLEAR PLANT SHUTDOWN.
Guenter Verheugen, EU commissioner in charge of expansion,
said the EU will help Bulgaria meet the costs for shutting
down the four aging nuclear reactors at Kozloduy. In a video-
recorded address to participants in an international meeting
in Sofia on 9 November, Verheugen said the EU is prepared to
finance the modernization of the two units that went on line
in 1989, but he added that the older four reactors "cannot be
brought up to Western safety standards at reasonable costs."
He also said democracy has been "firmly established in
Bulgaria" and the country has made "sustained progress" in
bringing its legislation into line with the EU's. There has
been progress toward establishing a functioning market
economy, but Bulgaria has yet to complete privatization,
bring accounting and taxation up to EU standards, and develop
a "stable environment" for business, AP reported. MS

END NOTE

FOUR YEARS AFTER ERDUT, EASTERN SLAVONIA CONTINUES TO LAG

by Christopher Walker

	When the Erdut Agreement was signed four years ago, much
of Eastern Slavonia was unsure whether to expect another
round of bloodshed or an end to the violence that had plagued
that region since 1991. The regional capital of Osijek
remained garrisoned--store windows were taped and buildings
barricaded with wood planks and sandbags against possible
attack from the Serbian forces that held positions across the
Drava River. After Croatia declared independence from the
Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia in June 1991,
Serbian rebel forces had seized about 30 percent of Croatian
territory, including a large portion of Eastern Slavonia.
	The agreement reached in Erdut, a small village on the
bank of the River Danube, brought to an end the fighting over
the last Serb-held area in Croatia and provided the framework
for the peaceful return of that territory to Croatian
administration.
	In fact, the agreement, which was concluded during the
Dayton negotiations on Bosnia-Herzegovina, set out ambitious
settlement terms for Eastern Slavonia (and the regions of
Baranja and Western Sirmium). It provided for a United
Nations Transitional Administration (UNTAES) to oversee the
reintegration of the region into the Republic of Croatia as
well as functioning as an interim political authority,
supervising the return of refugees, organizing elections,
training a police force, and demilitarizing the Serbian
rebels who had gained control of Eastern Slavonia. The two-
year mandate of UNTAES expired in January 1998.
	However, the passage of four years since the cessation
of hostilities has neither eased the raw feelings that exist
between Croats and Serbs in the region nor enabled Eastern
Slavonia to restore its hobbled economy to its pre-conflict
status.
	In fact, the legacy of the conflict and the embittered
atmosphere that persists threaten to keep Eastern Slavonia in
the same chronically impoverished state as plagues other war-
torn ex-Yugoslav territories, including Bosnia-Herzegovina,
Kosova, and Serbia.
	Nevenka Cuckovic of the Zagreb-based Institute for
International Relations observes that Eastern Slavonia has
"remained economically depressed and not much progress has
been achieved in the last three or four years. The [Croatian]
government started many programs, but the [effort to build]
housing and infrastructure reconstruction prevailed in all
initiatives, while neglecting economic restructuring,
privatization and business start-ups."
	The outbreak of war eight years ago disrupted trade and
supply routes. Traditional regional economic links remain
frayed to this day. Local business people complain that the
region has been unable to shake the image it has acquired
over the years--namely one of on-and-off fighting. Moreover,
the post-conflict period has been marked by tense inter-
ethnic relations, economic stagnation, and substantial
population shifts.
	With regard to refugees and the internally displaced,
the Erdut Agreement provides for facilitating the return of
those people "under secure conditions, assuring them the same
rights as all other residents." This task has proven very
difficult.
	A report published by Human Rights Watch earlier this
year concluded that the "exodus of [Eastern Slavonia's] Serbs
calls into question the success of the UNTAES mission beyond
peaceful reintegration into the territory" of the Republic of
Croatia. On this same subject, the OSCE has been critical of
the lack of political will shown by Croatian authorities in
upholding basic rights of the Serbian minority. This exodus
has been just one in a series of population transfers in the
region involving Serbs and Croats alike. This phenomenon is
of course not specific to Eastern Slavonia. Real or perceived
concerns about personal security, discrimination by local
authorities, and miserable economic prospects are common to
all parts of the former Yugoslavia that have experienced
violent conflict.
	To add to the region's woes, much-needed international
assistance has been stretched to its limits by the onset of
new crises. Over the course of this decade, assistance flows
have been subject to the demands of successive conflicts,
each fresh conflict more serious than the previous one. In
1991, world attention was focused on Kosova, where Slobodan
Milosevic--then in power for less than two years--was
stepping up his repression of ethnic Albanians in Serbia's
southernmost province. Events in Eastern Slavonia in late
1991, punctuated by the horrors in Vukovar, then diverted
attention from Kosova. Ironically, eight years later,
Croatian officials point out that Kosova--as well as Bosnia--
has absorbed critical aid that could otherwise have been used
in Eastern Slavonia.
	In addition, the Kosova war has had a spillover effect
on the region. Cuckovic notes that "NATO intervention also
hurt legal economic entities in Eastern Slavonia, while the
informal [gray] economy was flourishing during the conflict."
	Eastern Slavonia is just one small piece of the damaged
fabric of the former Yugoslavia. Sadly, as the case in most
of the other conflict-ridden areas in the Balkans, few
observers are bullish on the region's prospects for renewal
in the short term. For the time being, conditions in Eastern
Slavonia will continue to suggest a cessation of hostilities
rather than an enduring peace.

The author is a New York-based analyst specializing in
Eastern European affairs (intrel@aol.com)
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