|To live is so startling, it leaves little time for anything else. - Emily Dickinson|
Vol. 1, No. 9, Part II, 11 April 1997
Vol. 1, No. 9, Part II, 11 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. Back issues of RFE/RL NewsLine are available through RFE/RL's WWW pages: http://www.rferl.org/newsline/search/ Back issues of the OMRI Daily Digest are available through OMRI's WWW pages: http://www.omri.cz/ xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx Headlines, Part II * EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT WARNS BELARUS * ALBANIA TO HOLD REFERENDUM ON FORM OF GOVERNMENT * U.S. ENDS BOYCOTT OF SERBIAN PRESIDENT xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx EAST-CENTRAL EUROPE EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT WARNS BELARUS. The Strasbourg-based European Parliament has warned it will block a planned trade and aid agreement between the EU and Belarus unless Minsk undertakes genuine political and economic reform. The European Parliament yesterday complained that Belarusian President Alyaksandr Lukashenka has adopted an increasingly "dictatorial style of government," which, it said raises serious questions about future EU relations with Belarus. In particular, the parliament accused Lukashenka of total disregard for the democratically elected parliament, which was disbanded last year, and of strongly repressing any opposition to his regime. All international agreements concluded by the EU must be approved by both the European Parliament and the 15 EU governments. BELARUSIAN PRESIDENT PRAISES UNION ACCORD WITH RUSSIA. Lukashenka says the Russian-Belarusian union accord, initialed in Moscow last week, will benefit both states. He said on Belarusian TV yesterday that the recent growth in bilateral trade is an indication of the benefits of closer ties. Referring to the crackdown on anti-government protests in Belarus, he commented that those who act within the law and the constitution "won't need to be afraid of truncheons." Opposition parties do not recognize the current constitution, approved in a controversial referendum last November, giving Lukashenka broad new powers. UKRAINIAN BANK HEAD SUPPORTS NEW DEPUTY PREMIER. Ukrainian Central Bank director Viktor Yushchenko says he is giving his "full support" to new Deputy Prime Minister Sergei Tigipko, who is to oversee economic reforms. Yushchenko told reporters in Kyiv yesterday that he hopes Tigipko will play a positive role in his new post. Tigipko is the former head of Privatbank, one of the top five banks in Ukraine. He replaced Viktor Pynzenyk earlier this week. ESTONIAN FOREIGN MINISTER ON FUTURE OF OSCE MISSION. Toomas Hendrik Ilves has told the OSCE that he hopes its diplomatic mission in Estonia can soon be closed because its work has been successful. RFE/RL's correspondent in Vienna reported yesterday that Ilves told an OSCE meeting in the Austrian capital that the practical groundwork for the integration of the Russian-speaking population in Estonia is "in its final stages." Ilves also commended the work of OSCE High Commissioner for National Minorities Max van der Stoel, who has frequently visited Estonia to examine complaints by the Russian- speaking minority and suggest revisions to Estonian regulations. Earlier this week in Tallinn, Van der Stoel praised Estonian progress on integrating ethnic minorities. LATVIA BROADENS ACCESS TO CLASSIFIED INFORMATION. The Latvian parliament has amended the law on state secrets to extend access to classified information to non-citizen employees of the Interior Ministry and other state security agencies, BNS and RFE/RL's Latvian service reported yesterday. The amendment applies only to non-citizens who are already employed at those bodies. However, they will be stripped of access privileges if they do not become naturalized citizens within one year of becoming eligible for citizenship. Until now, non-citizens whose work required access to classified information had to leave their posts within three months. Meanwhile, Latvian authorities have handed out the first batch of special passports to resident aliens, BNS reported yesterday. The passports are meant for the one-third of Latvia's 2.6 million people, mostly ethnic Russians and Ukrainians, who did not qualify for citizenship under current laws. Non-citizens have been using old Soviet passports, which are often not recognized abroad. POLISH AGRICULTURE MINISTER DISMISSED. At the request of Prime Minister Wlodzimierz Cimoszewicz, President Aleksander Kwasniewski has dismissed Agriculture Minister and Deputy Prime Minister Roman Jagielinski, RFE/RL's Warsaw correspondent reported yesterday. Kwasniewski had postponed announcing the dismissal for several weeks but came under increasing pressure from Jagielinski's Polish Peasant Party (PSL), which blamed the minister for last year's food trade deficit and low grain prices. The PSL wants Jagielinski to be replaced by its Sejm deputy Jaroslaw Kalinowski. Cimoszewicz said he regretted Jagielinski's departure, explaining that he submitted the motion only because, under the coalition agreement, the PSL has the right to designate the agriculture minister. POLISH INTERIOR MINISTER UNDER INVESTIGATION OVER GUN POSSESSION. A spokesman for the Warsaw Prosecutor's Office told journalists yesterday that an investigation has been launched into Leszek Miller after the minister admitted on national TV that he has an unlicensed pistol, RFE/RL's Warsaw correspondent reported. Miller said a he was given the gun in 1995 by a cabinet colleague but failed to obtain a license for it. The minister said he is willing to face the consequences of his oversight. He added that his offense was not serious, because he had kept the gun in his safe. Miller is in favor of a bill liberalizing conditions for obtaining gun permits. CZECH DEPUTY FINANCE MINISTER RESIGNS. Vladimir Rudlovcak, who was responsible for the country's capital markets, has resigned following sharp criticism that he failed to carry out his duties properly. In particular, Rudlovcak came under attack for the transfer abroad of some 1.3 billion crowns from the investment fund C. S. Fondy. The Finance Ministry's role in the transfer prompted calls for Rudlovcak's departure. A ministry spokesman said yesterday there has been a media campaign against both the Finance Ministry and the deputy minister. Rudlovcak claims his department did all it could to carry out its duties under law. SLOVAK PREMIER CRITICIZES CZECH REPUBLIC AGAIN... Vladimir Meciar says he will go to the Czech Republic only if Czech President Vaclav Havel apologizes for calling him "paranoid" about his country's probable exclusion from the first wave of NATO expansion and only if the Czech Republic returns some 4.5 tons of Slovak gold, TASR reported. That gold is currently held in the Czech National Bank. Meciar warned that he could make public various episodes from his experience with Czech politicians but said he would not do so. He also said he knew Havel very well personally and that the Czech president is not the person his supporters "are making him out to be." Meciar was addressing a rally yesterday in Bratislava organized by his Movement for a Democratic Slovakia. Czech TV crews were banned from the meeting. ...WHILE CZECH POLITICIANS LAUNCH COUNTEROFFENSIVE. Czech Prime Minister Vaclav Klaus yesterday criticized Slovak Premier Meciar for making his official visit to Prague conditional on the return of gold to Slovakia. Klaus told journalists in Trebic that it was "outrageous" that Slovakia had reopened the question of the division of former federal property. Czech Senate Chairman Petr Pithart said on Czech Radio that the current state of Slovak-Czech relations was undoubtedly connected to the forthcoming NATO's Madrid summit in July. He said Slovakia might be preparing for its exclusion from talks on joining NATO. President Vaclav Havel, who is vacationing in Italy, has not commented on Meciar's demand for an apology. SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE FIRST ITALIAN TROOPS ARRIVE IN ALBANIA. Some 20 Italian soldiers disembarked at Durres today as an advance unit to safeguard humanitarian aid deliveries. The majority of the 6,000 international troops will start deploying on 14 April. Meanwhile, a team of military experts from six countries completed preparations yesterday for the force's arrival. Albanian Defense Minister Shaqir Vukaj says the troops will be safe and that all sides accept their presence. A French Defense Ministry spokesman said in Paris that the troops could be forced to disarm Albanian gangs if their own security is threatened but that this is not their mission. Portugal's defense minister said in Lisbon that Operation Alba is too risky and that Portugal will not take part. ALBANIA TO HOLD REFERENDUM ON FORM OF GOVERNMENT. President Sali Berisha and the main political parties agreed in Tirana yesterday that voters will choose in a referendum between a parliamentary republic, a presidential republic, and a monarchy. The vote may take place at the same time as early general elections in June. Meanwhile, the tiny royalist party Legality has said Leka Zogu, exiled pretender to the throne, will arrive in Albania tomorrow and stay for an "indefinite period." SERBIAN DEPUTY INTERIOR MINISTER KILLED. A masked gunman shot dead Radovan "Bazda" Stojicic early this morning in a Belgrade restaurant, an RFE/RL correspondent in the Serbian capital reported. Stojicic, a police general who headed the public security department, died immediately. Police have launched a manhunt. Stojicic was a long-time aide to President Slobodan Milosevic and was involved in planning the Bosnian and Croatian wars by arming Serbs in those republics. U.S. ENDS BOYCOTT OF SERBIAN PRESIDENT. The new top U.S. diplomat on implementing the Dayton peace accords left yesterday for the former Yugoslavia, an RFE/RL correspondent reported from Washington. Robert Gelbard has replaced John Kornblum and will visit Bosnia, Croatia, Serbia, and Macedonia over the next 10 days. U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright said in Washington yesterday that his trip emphasizes that the U.S. expects greater efforts to implement Dayton, including the handing over of war crimes suspects. The visit will be the first high-level U.S. contact with Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic in five months. Washington suspended meetings with Milosevic to protest his refusal to accept the results of the November local elections. MILOSEVIC LOYALIST KILLED IN KOSOVO. The Kosovo Liberation Army (UCK) said yesterday that it killed Ramiz Leka in the village of Banjica, RFE/RL's correspondent in Pristina reported. Leka belonged to Serbian President Milosevic's Socialist Party of Serbia. This is the sixth time this year that the UCK has killed an ethnic Albanian whom, it says, collaborated with the Serbian authorities. Since January, the UCK has switched from occasional attacks against random targets to much more professional and systematic operations. CROATIAN PRESIDENT URGES SLAVONIAN SERBS TO VOTE. Croatian President Franjo Tudjman said yesterday that the 13 April elections are the first step toward guaranteeing the return of Croatian refugees to that region, the coexistence of local Serbs there as equal citizens, and the end of the war of independence. He urged all citizens to put the past behind them and to concentrate on building a better future. Jacques Klein, UN administrator for eastern Slavonia, says that everything is set to go for the elections. Some local Croats, however, say that they have received threatening telephone calls telling them not to vote, Vjesnik reported yesterday. PLAVSIC ATTACKS HER ENEMIES. Republika Srpska President Biljana Plavsic told Banja Luka TV on 9 April that her rivals are denying her air-time on Pale TV and calling for her resignation. She said "this amounts to the destruction of the country." It was Plavsic's most open attack to date on the Serbian member of the Bosnian joint presidency, Momcilo Krajisnik, who controls Pale TV and with whom she is locked in a power struggle. She has launched moves against corruption and profiteering that threaten to undercut Krajisnik's business empire and power base. EUROPEAN COMMISSION PRESIDENT IN ROMANIA. Jacques Santer told the Romanian parliament yesterday that the economic program of Victor Ciorbea's cabinet is "bold." RFE/RL's Bucharest bureau reported Santer as saying that in addition to the $ 482 million already promised by the EBRD, Romania will receive some $61 million to help balance its trade deficit. Santer was in Bucharest to met with Ciorbea, members of the cabinet, the chairmen of the two houses of parliament, and President Emil Constantinescu, with whom he discussed Romania's application for EU membership. ROMANIAN PARLIAMENT APPROVES ALBANIAN MISSION. The parliament yesterday approved President Constantinescu's request that Romania send a 400-strong contingent to join the multinational mission in Albania, RFE/RL's Bucharest bureau reported. The leftist and nationalist opposition opposed the motion or abstained. The legislature also approved Constantinescu's proposal that the Timisoara airfield be used as a logistics and supply base for the Albanian operation. In other news, Foreign Minister Adrian Severin and Austrian Vice Chancellor Wolfgang Schuessel agreed in Bucharest on 9 April to set up what they call a "trilateral mechanism" to promote Romanian and Hungarian admission to the EU, Romanian TV reported. Hungary has not yet responded to the initiative. RUSSIAN FOREIGN MINISTER IN MOLDOVA. Following his meeting yesterday with President Petru Lucinschi and leader of the Transdniester breakaway region Igor Smirnov, Yevgenii Primakov said negotiations between the two sides will be resumed. Primakov said Lucinschi and Smirnov have agreed to sign the "memorandum of understanding on normalizing relations" by 15 May. The memorandum was drafted last year, but Chisinau has refused to endorse it, saying it encroaches on Moldovan sovereignty. An article stipulating that Chisinau and Tiraspol will develop relations "as part of a single state" is to be added to the document. But Smirnov says he is pessimistic about the outcome of future negotiations. Primakov, who is in Chisinau on a two-day visit, also met with Premier Ion Ciubuc and Foreign Minister Mihai Popov. Primakov and Popv agreed that the State Duma should ratify the basic treaty between Russia and Moldova, which was signed in 1990. OSCE MISSION IN MOLDOVA TO CONTINUE PARTICIPATION IN JOINT CONTROL COMMISSION. The agreement on the participation of OSCE mission representatives in the Joint Control Commission has been extended to 1 September, Infotag reported yesterday. The new agreement also provides for a Ukrainian representative to the commission, which is overseeing the truce in the Dniester breakaway region. Other members represent Moldova, the Transdniester, and Russia. Since late March, Tiraspol has hindered the participation of OSCE mission representatives, claiming the original agreement expired in February and had to be renewed. BULGARIAN PENSIONERS CONFRONT PRESIDENT OVER ECONOMIC HARDSHIPS. President Petar Stoyanov was forced to retreat inside the presidency building in Sofia yesterday after being confronted by a group of angry elderly protesters, RFE/RL's Sofia bureau reported. Stoyanov had sought to address the pensioners but had been shouted down with cries of "fascist" and "traitor." Security forces had to intervene to prevent Stoyanov from being physically attacked. Small groups of pensioners have been protesting economic hardships in front of the presidency building for the past several days. In other news, Socialist Party leader Georgi Parvanov accused the United Democratic Forces of making unrealistic electoral promises that might lead to social unrest. RUSSIA ASKS SOFIYANSKI TO POSTPONE VISIT. The Bulgarian government press service announced yesterday that Russia has asked caretaker Premier Stefan Sofiyanski to postpone his scheduled visit to Moscow at the end of this week. RFE/RL's Sofia correspondent says Moscow wants to clarify some aspects of the 8 April agreement on Russian gas supplies to Bulgaria and the construction of pipelines to the Balkans that will transit Bulgarian territory (see RFE/RL Newsline, 9 April 1997). The press service said the visit has been re-scheduled for next week. Neither Left Nor Right, But Simply Wrong by Michael Shafir A decade ago, the Israeli political scientist Zeev Sternhell wrote Neither Left, Nor Right, an analysis of the emergence of fascist ideology in France since the end of the last century. "Neither left, nor right, but [simply] Romanian" is how Corneliu Vadim Tudor, leader of the extreme nationalist, anti-Semitic, and xenophobic Greater Romania Party (PRM), chose to describe his group's alliance with the extraparliamentary Socialist Labor Party (PSM), which was sealed two days ago, on 9 April. As Sternhell shows in his book, fascist ideology has often been misinterpreted as belonging to the "right" of the political spectrum. He demonstrates that those who embraced the ideology had little in common with the "traditional right" or what in the U.S. would be termed "conservatives." Rather, the "radical right," as it should be called to distinguish it from other right-wing formations, was bent on destroying the existing parliamentary and democratic order. Like the "radical left," it displayed a boundless hatred of individualism and used as its model a society based on communitarian values. This explains why so many original adherents of the "radical left" eventually ended in the opposite, "radical right" camp. History seems to be repeating itself in post-communist Eastern Europe. "Red-brown" alliances, as they are often called, are no longer rare. Communists march arm-in-arm with those nostalgic for the "Black Hundred" in Moscow at demonstrations against "imported" political and social models. The same phenomenon can be found in most of the other former communist states. Thus, the alliance forged by the PRM and the PSM comes as no surprise. The two formations were allied in the previous legislature as members of the so-called "red quadrangle" coalition, led by the Party of Social Democracy in Romania (PDSR). Last autumn's elections ousted not only the PDSR from power but also the PSM from the parliament. Now the PRM will represent the interests of the PSM in the legislature. The two formations will also run joint candidates in upcoming local by-elections. The two groups have much in common. Both are "national-communist nostalgics," and both are what may be described as parties of "radical continuity". Such parties blend extreme-nationalist ideology (of which Ceausescu's national communism was a variant) with populist jargon aimed at undermining the emerging democracies. They are also both led by former Ceausescu "court poets." Tudor progressed from the late dictator's humble bard to outspoken leader of the PRM, which was in coalition with the PDSR until Tudor turned against his post-communist mentors. Although in theory the PRM is headed by Ilie Verdet, a former prime minister under Ceausescu, in practice Adrian Paunescu, another "court poet," is largely responsible for determining the party's political line. Last week, Paunescu was reinstated as first deputy chairman--a post he resigned from after the PSM's dismal performance in last fall's elections-- prompting him to remark that the party "could not possibly afford to lose a man like me." Little else is poetic about the PRM and the PSM, however. Most worrying is that throughout the former communist bloc, parties such as the PRM--with or without allies--are now attempting to unify their forces. Indeed, the PRM leader announced earlier this week the imminent birth of the "Nationalist International," apparently an international offshoot of Jean Marie Le Pen's French National Front. The recent National Front congress in Strasbourg was attended not only by Tudor but also by East European leaders such as Istvan Csurka, head of the xenophobic Hungarian Justice and Life Party, and Jan Slota, chairman of the extreme nationalist Slovak National Party. Although those leaders may hate one another or, more precisely, one another's nations, they are united by a still stronger hatred: that of democracy and its values. Last January, Le Pen visited Belgrade, where he met with Vojslav Seselj, accused war criminal and leader of the Serbian Radical Party. In May, he will visit Bucharest, at Tudor's invitation. Slota has also invited the French leader to visit Slovakia and extended another invitation to Jorg Heider, leader of the populist Austrian Freedom Party, whom many suspect of pro-Nazi sympathies. And then, of course, there is Vladimir Zhirinovsky, who calls himself a "liberal" as well as a "democrat." The Russian leader's religious wedding ceremony last year was attended by Le Pen, whom Zhirinovsky later visited in France. It is Le Pen whom Tudor is now emulating when he says the new alliance is "neither left nor right, but [simply] Romanian." Many view the new Romanian alliance with apprehension. They also fear that a more accurate description than Tudor's would be "neither left nor right, but simply wrong" for Romania's still fragile democracy. xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx Copyright (c) 1997 RFE/RL, Inc. 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