|He who knows nothing is nearer the truth than he whose mind is filled with falsehoods and errors. - Thomas Jefferson|
Vol. 1, No. 2, Part II, 2 April 1997
Vol. 1, No. 2, Part II, 2 April 1997 This is Part II of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty's Newsline. Part II is a compilation of news concerning Central, Eastern, and Southeastern Europe. Part I, covering Russia, Transcaucasia and Central Asia, is distributed simultaneously as a second document. ^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^ UZBEK-GREEK RELATIONS UKRAINE WANTS SPECIAL RELATIONS WITH NATO ALBANIAN PRIME MINISTER MEETS SOUTHERN REBELS BULGARIAN INFLATION FALLS SHARPLY EAST-CENTRAL EUROPE DEMONSTRATION IN MINSK. Police in the Belarusian capital dispersed about 400 demonstrators who gathered yesterday to protest the signing of the union treaty between Belarus and Russia, ITAR-TASS reported. Police and protesters, most of whom were from the opposition Popular Front, engaged in a stand-off for more than an hour. After unsuccessful efforts to persuade the crowd to disperse, police moved in and broke up the rally. Some protesters were detained by the police. The previous day, Belarusian police detained Irina Vazhnik, a member of the Popular Front, and her husband for distributing leaflets calling on people to take part in opposition demonstrations, RFE/RL reported. OBSTRUCTIONS TO INVESTMENT IN UKRAINE. Andriy Bihun, commercial attache at the U.S. Embassy in Kiev, told RFE/RL yesterday that the main obstruction to investment in Ukraine "is the government which creates an unfavorable climate for investors." His comment comes after the U.S. electronics firm Motorola announced last week it is leaving Ukraine because of the "unfavorable investment climate." Motorola planned to invest some $500 million in Ukraine. Bihun said the Communications Ministry granted Motorola a license to operate a mobile phone system in Ukraine but later insisted that Motorola apply for permission to use the GSM- 900 frequency. Meanwhile, the state-backed company KyivStar, one of three winners for a recent tender for GSM-900 cellular frequency licenses, announced it intends to invest $30 million in its mobile telephone network this year. UKRAINE WANTS SPECIAL RELATIONS WITH NATO. Ukrainian Defense Minister Alexander Kuzmuk says Ukraine wants to establish special relations with NATO. But he adds that as long as Ukraine intends to stay outside military blocs there is no question of it joining NATO. Kuzmuk was speaking to journalists on 1 April after meeting with visiting Gen. George Joulwan, NATO's supreme allied commander in Europe. Joulwan told reporters that Ukraine's further participation in NATO's Partnership for Peace program would serve to strengthen relations between Ukraine and NATO. He added that it would also increase confidence and mutual understanding between Eastern European countries. UKRAINIAN FOREIGN MINISTER ON TREATY WITH ROMANIA. Hennady Udovenko says that talks on concluding a treaty with Romania could be concluded soon, ITAR-TASS reported from Kyiv on 1 April. He urged both sides to work together to overcome differences. His statement comes after the latest round of talks between the two countries stalled. INTERNATIONAL COMMISSION ON SINKING OF ESTONIA. The international commission investigating the sinking of the ferry Estonia will not name who was responsible for the installation of locks on the bow door, whose failure likely caused the disaster that killed 852 people, RFE/RL reported on 1 April. The Estonia sank on 28 September 1994 en route from Tallinn to Stockholm. The commission's members are from Estonia, Sweden, and Finland. Its task is to say why the incident occurred, not who was responsible. A final report is expected to be released in late April or early May. RESULTS OF LITHUANIAN MUNICIPAL ELECTIONS CONFIRMED. The Supreme Electoral Commission has confirmed the results of the 23 March local elections, BNS reported. The Conservatives received the largest number of mandates in municipal councils, chalking up 493 (33.22 percent). The Lithuanian Democratic Labor Party (LDDP) finished second with 212 mandates (14.29 percent), while the Christian Democrats were in third place with 180 mandates (12.13 percent). The Lithuanian Social Democrats received 136 mandates (9.16 percent), the Lithuanian Centrist Union -- 135 (9.10 percent). Other parties received less than 5 percent of the votes. VOTES ON POLISH CONSTITUTION. The Polish National Assembly votes today on amendments to the draft constitution proposed by President Aleksander Kwasniewski following consultations with the main political parties, RFE/RL's correspondent in Warsaw reports. The assembly's Constitutional Commission recommended last week that most of those amendments be accepted. The assembly will also decide today on the whole text of the constitution in the final vote. A two-thirds majority is needed for the document to pass. The constitution's passage is virtually assured, because the four biggest parties in the parliament, both from the government and the opposition, worked together on the draft. The constitution is also to be put to a referendum. JOINT POLISH-UKRAINIAN BORDER PATROLS. Ukraine and Poland are introducing joint controls at the Zosin-Ustilug road border crossing today, RFE/RL's Warsaw correspondent reports. The operation--the first of its kind between the two countries--is the direct result of a bilateral agreement signed last month. If successful, other border crossings will adopt the same procedures. Under the new regime at Zosin-Ustilug, travelers to Ukraine will be checked on the Ukrainian side of the border by a joint patrol, while people traveling in the opposite direction will be checked on the Polish side by a joint Polish-Ukraine team. CZECH PRESIDENT ON NATO, FRENCH PRESIDENT IN PRAGUE. Vaclav Havel says he is opposed to a referendum on NATO membership. Since membership is "basically a treaty between states," it does not need to be approved in a plebiscite, Havel told Czech TV yesterday. Havel was speaking on the eve of a two-day visit by French President Jacques Chirac to Prague, RFE/RL reported. The French president is expected to express support to Prague's bid for early membership in EU and NATO. He has already given similar pledges to Hungary and Poland. HAGUE JUDGES TOUR GABCIKOVO-NAGYMAROS PROJECT. Judges from the International Court of Justice in The Hague have begun a four-day, fact-finding tour of the stretch of the Danube disputed in the ongoing trial over the Gabcikovo-Nagymaros dam, a Slovak Foreign Ministry official told RFE/RL on 1 April. The judges will inspect first the Gabcikovo project in Slovakia and then the aborted Hungarian side of the project at Nagymaros. The trial is due to resume in mid-April, when the two countries will each have two days to respond to the other's arguments. A final verdict is not expected before the fall. SLOVAK PRESIDENT DISTANCES HIMSELF FROM PREMIER'S NATO STATEMENTS. Michal Kovac has distanced himself from Premier Vladimir Meciar's statements that the U.S. and Russia agreed Slovakia should not be invited to NATO membership talks. Kovac says that from the countless talks he has had with representatives of NATO countries and from his personal talks with U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, it is quite clear that "Slovakia will decide on its fate itself insofar as it is capable of putting the principles of democracy into practice." Kovac released these comments to the media on 1 April. SLOVAK NATIONAL PARTY CHAIRMAN INVITES LE PEN. Jan Slota says that Jean-Marie Le Pen, leader of the extreme- right French National Front, will visit Bratislava at the end of April or the beginning of May. Slota attended the front's congress in Strasbourg last weekend. He told Radio Twist his party wants Le Pen to be received in Slovakia at government and parliamentary levels. Slota objected to dubbing Le Pen's supporters "fascists or Nazis." Instead, he described them as people who want "turn France into a state for the French again." He also confirmed his efforts to create a "community of nationally-oriented European parties." HUNGARIAN GOVERNMENT WANTS SMALLHOLDERS TO RESPOND TO ANTI-SEMITISM CHARGE. The Coalition Consultative Council--the top decision-making body of the two Hungarian coalition parties--says the most important aspect of the "Maczo controversy" is not Agnes Nagy Maczo's eventual dismissal as deputy parliamentary speaker but the question of whether to allow anti-Semitic tones in parliamentary debates, the Hungarian press reports. Maczo, who is a deputy of the Smallholders' Party, last week made remarks in the house that many consider to have been anti-Semitic. The council wants the Smallholders to answer the question of whether they accept political anti-Semitism, RFE/RL reported. HUNGARIAN PREMIER ON AGREEMENT WITH CHURCHES. Gyula Horn says he expects a final agreement over public financing of Churches and the ownership of former ecclesiastical property will be reached in June, the Hungarian press reports. Church and government representatives met recently to discuss the issue. Horn said he firmly intended to ensure that Churches and affiliated institutions are not disadvantaged in any way. A preliminary agreement stipulates that 1% of income tax revenues be allocated for this purpose. If insufficient, the total sum will be supplemented by budget funds. SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE ALBANIAN PRIME MINISTER MEETS SOUTHERN REBELS... Bashkim Fino went to Gjirokaster yesterday, his first trip to his troubled political home base since becoming head of the coalition government last month. He was greeted by cheering, heavily-armed rebel leaders from Gjirokaster and Tepelene. Fino met with elected officials as well as with the rebels and insurgent Committees of Public Salvation, Reuters reported. The Democratic Party of President Sali Berisha has threatened to pull out of the coalition government if officials from the Socialist Party--to which Fino belongs--maintain contacts with the rebels. ...AND ANNOUNCES CHANGES IN SECRET POLICE. Fino used his trip to Gjirokaster to announce the abolition of SHIK, the secret police, which is widely seen as an arm of President Sali Berisha's Democratic Party. Fino said he and Berisha met with SHIK boss Bashkim Gazidede and his deputy, Bujar Rama, last weekend and formally accepted their resignations, Reuters reported on 1 April. Fino also blocked funds for the agency. "We are going to build a new intelligence service, with a new face," he said. Elsewhere in Gjirokaster, there was an attack on the home of the Greek consul. The incident is not expected to overshadow Fino's trip to Greece today, since both sides are determined to work together closely in the face of the current crisis. ITALIAN PRIME MINISTER FLIES TO ALBANIA. Romano Prodi paid a half-hour surprise visit to Gjirokaster this morning to talk with Fino about plans for a multinational force to secure the delivery of relief supplies to Albania. Both governments are anxious to press ahead with the project, despite the imbroglio that arose following the fatal maritime collision last week. Italian Defense Minister Beniamino Andreatta said yesterday that the multinational intervention force should be ready within 10 days. His Albanian counterpart, Shaqir Vukaj, is in Italy to help prepare the way. Meanwhile, the rebel Committee of Public Salvation in Vlora says Italian troops are welcome there, AFP reported. An Albanian government spokesman told Radio Tirana yesterday that the maritime collision and the intervention force are unrelated issues. He blasted "left extremists and Mafiosi" for previously threatening the Italians. UN WARNS OF HUNGER IN ALBANIA. A mission from the UN Department of Humanitarian Affairs says 400,000 Albanians are threatened by hunger in the wake of the current strife and the collapse of the central state apparatus. A spokesman added that while famine is not imminent and that the quantities of food needed are modest compared with Bosnia and some African crisis spots, it is still necessary to "fill the gaps," Reuters reported on 1 April. The spokesman said that anarchy and banditry are the main problems, not the destruction and dislocation that plagued relief efforts in Bosnia. Elsewhere, the Albanian Interior Ministry reports that 10 people died the previous day in incidents stemming from the proliferation of weapons among civilians, AFP reported. UPDATE ON FORMER YUGOSLAVIA. Montenegrin President Momir Bulatovic insists on firing various ministers critical of Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic, RFE/RL reported. But Prime Minister Milo Djukanovic refuses to do so, arguing that only parliament can make the decision. In Sarajevo, Bosnia's Energoinvest company says it will no longer import any gas from Russia. The decision came after Russia's Gazeksport cut deliveries to Bosnia to a bare minimum because of unpaid bills. In Banja Luka, today's Nasa Borba writes that Republika Srpska President Biljana Plavsic's position is increasingly under threat after her Serbian Democratic Party overruled her objections to a new treaty on relations with Belgrade. Over the weekend, Muslim and international officials charged that the Pale-Belgrade agreement could lead to the economic division of Bosnia by setting up special ties between the Republika Srpska and federal Yugoslavia. VAN DER STOEL IN BUCHAREST. Romanian Foreign Minister Adrian Severin says his country still needs OSCE High Commissioner for National Minorities Max van der Stoel for the protection of national minority rights in Romania as well as for the protection of the Romanian national minorities' rights in neighboring countries. Van der Stoel met with Severin yesterday at the beginning of his three-day visit to Romania, RFE/RL reported. Severin told Van der Stoel that the problem of the Babes-Bolyai university in Cluj should be solved by setting up a Romanian and a Hungarian department within the university, rather than creating two ethnic universities. Van der Stoel will also meet with President Emil Constantinescu, Premier Victor Ciorbea, and leaders of the UDMR--the Hungarian ethnic alliance. NEW FOREIGN INVESTMENTS IN ROMANIA. Tokyo is to grant Romania a $ 177 million credit for Transportation Ministry projects to build a container-terminal in Constanta and improve roads in the southwestern part of the country. In other news, Lockheed President Norman Augustine says the company is interested in investing in the Romanian arms industry. He adds that the company has already started lobbying in the U.S. Congress and the White House for Romania's admission to NATO, RFE/RL reported on 1 April. NEW MOLDOVAN PARTY BACKS PRESIDENT. The United Social Democratic Party of Moldova (PSDUM) says it supports President Petru Lucinschi's political program but does not want to be considered a pro-presidential party, Infotag reported on 1 April. Anatol Taranu, co-chairman of the PSDUM, told a news conference in Chisinau that his party will back Lucinschi insofar as he implements his program. Eugen Sobor, another PSDUM co-chairman, said that while the party strives to attract "prestigious personalities" to its ranks, it does not wish to turn itself into a mass party. He added that it "will close its doors to renegades who have tried many parties in the last years." MOLDOVA'S HOMELESS CHILDREN. At least a third of all homeless children in Chisinau are ill with syphilis, RFE/RL reports on 2 April. In addition, at least half of these children suffer from various infectious skin diseases, according to statistics released by police. The number of homeless children in Moldova is rising steadily. In 1996 alone, shelters in Chisinau received more than 1,500 children--an increase of 25% over the previous year. Most of them are from homes affected by alcoholism or extreme poverty. BULGARIAN PROSECUTOR SAYS EX-COMMUNISTS SABOTAGED LUKANOV CASE. Bulgaria's chief prosecutor has accused the previous Socialist government of doing everything possible to help late Prime Minister Andrei Lukanov win his case against Bulgaria at the Council of Europe's Human Rights Court in Strasbourg, RFE/RL reported on 1 April. Ivan Tatarchev says an investigation is being launched to clarify the activities of former Premier Zhan Videnov and his justice minister, Mladen Chervenyakov. The court ruled last month that the human rights of Lukanov were violated when he was arrested in 1992 on charges of misappropriation. It ordered the state to pay his widow and two children more than $ 20,000 in legal costs and compensation. Lukanov was assassinated last October. BULGARIAN INFLATION FALLS SHARPLY. Alberto Mussalem, representative of the World Bank in Sofia, says that since Stefan Sofiyanski's caretaker cabinet took office in February, inflation has fallen sharply, while treasury and hard-currency reserves have increased. RFE/RL's correspondent in Sofia quotes Sofiyanski as saying Bulgaria is on the brink of "relative financial and economic stabilization." Sofiyanski said price liberalization will not lead to economic hardship for the country's citizens. He added that the World Bank has pledged $40 million for grain imports and that the U.S. will soon donate $25 million worth of forage grains for livestock. ------------------------------------------------------------------------ Copyright (c) 1997 RFE/RL, Inc. 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