|We are all apt to believe what the world believes about us. - George Eliot|
Vol. 1, No. 15, Part II, 21 April 1997
Vol. 1, No. 15, Part II, 21 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/ xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx Headlines, Part II * RUSSIAN PRIME MINISTER IN CZECH REPUBLIC * CENTER-RIGHT ALLIANCE WINS BULGARIAN ELECTIONS * DRASKOVIC TO RUN FOR SERBIAN PRESIDENCY xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx CENTRAL AND EASTERN EUROPE UKRAINIAN PRESIDENT BLOCKS CRIMEAN PARLIAMENT MOVE. Leonid Kuchma on 18 April vetoed the Crimean parliament's ouster earlier this month of Crimean Premier Arkadiy Demydenko (see RFE/RL Newsline, 10 April 1997), RFE/RL's Kyiv correspondent reported. Kuchma said the dismissal contravened the Ukrainian Constitution because the Ukrainian president had not been consulted. Meanwhile, several pro-Russian parties and organizations in Crimea have said they will support anti-NATO protests on the peninsula. Raisa Teliatnikova, chairwoman of the Russian Community organization in Sevastopol, was quoted by dpa on 18 April as saying the Ukrainian-NATO military maneuvers planned for August are an "unfriendly gesture" aimed at "scaring" pro- Russian Crimeans. U.S. ECONOMIST URGES UKRAINE TO PASS REFORMS. Jeffrey Sachs says Ukraine must adopt a 1997 budget and an economic reform plan within weeks or risk deepening its economic troubles and alienating foreign investors. Sachs, whose Harvard-based Institute for International Development advises the Ukrainian government, was speaking to journalists in Kyiv on 19 April. He said that more foreign firms appear to be leaving Ukraine's market than entering it, and he blamed that trend on current tax and regulation systems as well as widespread corruption. Ukraine's government and parliament have been deadlocked over budget and reform plans since last November. The IMF has conditioned a loan worth at least $2.5 billion on the passage of the budget. UKRAINE, UZBEKISTAN FAIL TO REACH AGREEMENT ON TATARS. Meeting in Kyiv on 18 April, Uzbek Prime Minister Utkir Sultanov and his Ukrainian counterpart, Petro Lazarenko, failed to reach an agreement on the return of Crimean Tatars deported to Central Asia by Soviet dictator Josef Stalin during World War II. Refat Chubarov, leader of the 250,000-strong Crimean Tatar community, told Reuters after the meeting that some "difficulties" remained on how to finance the Tatars' return. Uzbekistan wants only those who were actually deported to be given deportee status, while Crimean Tatars and Ukraine insist that all their relatives and descendants be included. Under Stalin, some 190,000 Crimean Tatars accused of collaborating with the Nazis were deported to Central Asia. While many have since returned to Ukraine, there is still a sizable Tatar population in Central Asia. BELARUSIAN PRESIDENT IN ASIA. Alyaksandr Lukashenka left for an eight-day tour of Asia yesterday. He will visit South Korea, Vietnam, and China in a bid to expand trade relations, attract foreign investment, and strengthen political bonds with those countries. ITAR-TASS quoted a member of Lukashenka's staff as saying the president will meet with both political and business leaders. Lukashenka is expected to make a brief stopover in Novosibirsk for trade talks with regional leaders. THIRTY-EIGHT DEATH SENTENCES IN BELARUS LAST YEAR. Vladimir Samusev, head of the Justice Ministry department dealing with applications for a stay of execution, says 38 people were sentenced to death in Belarus last year, Interfax reported yesterday. He said appeals were lodged in 32 cases and that President Lukashenka rejected all of them because of the "seriousness of the offenses" and because of the "increased danger" the perpetrators posed for society. He said that seven of those sentenced last year were aged between 21 and 25. INVESTIGATOR'S LETTER RAISES QUESTIONS ABOUT ESTONIA FERRY PROBE. The Swedish daily Svenska Dagbladet has published excerpts from a letter by an investigator of the Estonia ferry disaster that raises questions about the work of the Swedish-Finnish-Estonian commission looking into the incident, RFE/RL reported on 19 April. The Estonia sunk in 1994 en route to Stockholm from Tallinn when heavy seas tore off its bow door, killing 852 people. A key question in the investigation is why the locks of the door failed. Boerje Stenstroem, the commission's Swedish technical expert who died last month, wrote to the ferry's German builder in 1995 saying that in an interim report, he mentions "by necessity" that the locks were of insufficient strength but has "endeavored to dress this in general wording rather than clear figures." Olof Forssberg, head of the Swedish commission team, denies that the commission intended to tone down information about the locks in the interim report. The commission's final report is expected to be published soon. LITHUANIAN LEADER URGES SECURITY FOR SMALL EUROPEAN STATES. Parliamentary Chairman Vytautas Landsbergis says the key to peace in Europe is the security of small states "because there are no threats to the security of large countries." Speaking at RFE/RL's Prague headquarters on 18 April, Landsbergis said that while he had received assurances from Western leaders about safeguarding Lithuanian security, there was a "lack of logic" in increasing the security of European states that are less "endangered" than others. He also pointed to what he called "childish contradictions" made by Western leaders who insist that Russia will not be given veto rights over new NATO members but who say it is hoped Moscow will not oppose expansion. RUSSIAN PRIME MINISTER IN CZECH REPUBLIC. Viktor Chernomyrdin says the Czech Republic must decide for itself whether NATO membership is worthwhile. The Russian premier, who concludes a two-day visit to the Czech Republic today, told Czech TV on 19 April that Russia does not have the right of veto in this matter but is explaining the possible negative consequences of NATO expansion. Chernomyrdin met with Czech officials, including Prime Minister Vaclav Klaus, to discuss economic cooperation, international issues, and Russia's $3 billion debt to the Czech Republic. SLOVAKIA WILL CONTINUE TO IMPORT GAS FROM EAST. Prime Minister Vladimir Meciar says that Slovakia will continue to receive gas supplies from the East. He was speaking on Slovak Radio yesterday in the context of the dispute over the planned joint venture between the Russian company Gazprom and the SPP Slovak gasworks. Meciar said that Slovakia has received offers from other companies but has to carefully "weigh the technical questions and the costs." He added that Slovakia is prepared to take part in the proposed venture with Gazprom as long as Russia can guarantee gas deliveries and as long as agreement can be reached on "a certain price level." SLOVAK NATIONAL PARTY URGES SLOVAKS TO HONOR WARTIME FASCIST LEADER. The Slovak National Party (SNS), one of the three government coalition parties, has appealed to all Slovaks to "honor the memory" of the country's wartime pro-fascist leader Jozef Tiso, who was executed in Bratislava on 18 April 1947 after being found guilty of war crimes. The SNS statement describes Tiso as a "great son of the church and the nation." It also said he was a "martyr to the defense of the nation and Christianity in the face of Bolshevism and liberalism." victory of the principle "for God, for the nation." Cardinal Jan Korec, primate of Slovakia, held a mass for Tiso on 18 April. CENTRAL EUROPEAN DEMOCRATIC FORUM ESTABLISHED IN HUNGARY. Thirty-five Christian Democratic and national-liberal parties from Central Europe have set up a new international body called the Central European Democratic Forum (CEDF), Hungarian media reported yesterday. Meeting in the southern Hungarian city of Lakitelek, the parties pledged to work together to overcome left-wing forces in the region and elected former Polish President Lech Walesa as honorary chairman. Walesa said the forum has "to make society understand that the right is far more capable of solving the problems of society than forces which formerly were enemies of NATO, capitalism and democracy." SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE CENTER-RIGHT ALLIANCE WINS BULGARIAN ELECTIONS. With almost all ballots counted in the 19 April parliamentary elections, the center-right United Democratic Forces (ODS) has won 52% of the vote and is likely to have 137 seats in the 240- seat parliament. The outgoing ruling Socialist Party won 22% or 57 seats, followed by the Union for National Salvation (7.8% or 20 seats), the Euro-Left (5.5% or 14 seats), and the Bulgarian Business Bloc (5.% or 12-13 seats). At 58%, turnout was the lowest since the end of one-party rule in 1989. Final results are due later today or tomorrow. ODS adviser Ivan Krastev told RFE/RL's Sofia correspondent today that ODS leader Ivan Kostov will be the new prime minister. Interior Minister Bogomil Bonev and Economic Affairs Minister Alexander Bozhkov will retain their posts, while other appointments will be made later today. REACTIONS TO BULGARIAN ELECTION RESULTS. ODS leader Ivan Kostov says his alliance hopes to form a broad government whose main task will be to solve the country's economic problems, RFE/RL's Sofia bureau reported. Socialist leader Georgi Parvanov said his party will act as a "constructive opposition," according to Reuters. Dominique Colomberg, head of the team of Council of Europe observers monitoring the elections, said in Sofia that the elections were "free and fair" and had set the stage for badly needed economic reforms. MORE FOREIGN TROOPS ARRIVE IN ALBANIA. Some 150 Italian marines landed in the troubled southern port of Vlora this morning. The number of soldiers taking part in the Italian-led multinational force reached 4,000 yesterday as French and Italian troops continued to arrive, mainly via the port of Durres. On 19 April, the International Committee of the Red Cross delivered aid to hospitals and orphanages in Vlora. The UN World Food Program distributed aid for 20 orphanages, hospitals, and homes for the elderly across the country. Also on 19 April, Franz Vranitzky, the OSCE's chief envoy for Albania, called for "dialogue" between the various political forces, including the rebel committees that control much of the south. BERISHA OPPOSES SACKING OF ALBANIAN POLICE CHIEF. President Sali Berisha yesterday rejected a government decision to fire Gen. Agim Shehu, the country's police chief. A presidential spokesman said that only Berisha, not the government, has the legal right to sack high-ranking officers. The spokesman said the incident could seriously hurt relations between the president and Prime Minister Bashkim Fino. Fino's national conciliation government voted on 19 April to fire Shehu, who is also deputy interior minister. Shehu is accused of suppressing opposition to Berisha when anarchy erupted earlier this year. ALBANIA'S ROYAL CLAIMANT ON THE STUMP. King Leka Zogu made an emotional trip yesterday to his father's home village in the central mountains. Leka, who has spent less than two weeks of his life in Albania, traveled for the first time to Burgajet, where about 5,000 cheering people greeted him. Leka said he will travel across Albania "to spread a message of peace and unity." Berisha has promised Leka that a referendum will be held on restoring the monarchy. All political parties have agreed on such a vote. Monarchist parties have not done well in previous elections, but in the current volatile political environment, it is difficult to predict the outcome of the referendum. CROATIAN PARTIES HOLD LEAD IN SLAVONIAN VOTE. Unofficial early returns from the 13-15 April elections continue to show ethnic Croatian parties ahead of the Serbian Democratic Independent Party (SDSS). The Croats lead in the cities of Vukovar and Ilok as well as in 15 districts, an RFE/RL correspondent in Zagreb reported yesterday. The SDSS will likely control Beli Manastir and 10 districts and will be the largest single party in the Vukovar town council. The Croatian vote there is split between President Franjo Tudjman's Croatian Democratic Community and the Independent List of local kingpin Tomislav Mercep. Most Serbs regard Mercep as a war criminal and may seek a ruling from the Hague-based tribunal on whether he can hold public office, the Belgrade daily Novosti reports today. DRASKOVIC TO RUN FOR SERBIAN PRESIDENCY. The governing board of the Serbian Renewal Movement (SPO) has nominated party leader Vuk Draskovic as its presidential candidate, an RFE/RL correspondent reported from Belgrade on 19 April. At the same meeting, Ilija Ra dulovic resigned as party vice president following his recent public criticism of Draskovic and Draskovic's wife. Draskovic expects to head a united opposition slate in the elections due later this year. But fellow opposition leader Zoran Djindjic has been publicly calling Draskovic a "loose cannon" and questioning his suitability for the presidency. Divisions within the opposition have helped Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic keep his hold on power. MONTENEGRIN PRIME MINISTER SCORES ANOTHER VICTORY OVER PRESIDENT. Mile Djukanovic emerged the winner over President Momir Bulatovic at an 18 April meeting of the governing Democratic Socialist Party (DPS), an RFE/RL correspondent reported from Podgorica. The DPS voted that decisions on the reorganization of the cabinet and the security service be left to the next regular session of the parliament, thereby rejecting Bulatovic's demand for urgent measures. Bulatovic is close to Milosevic, while Djukanovic is a leading critic of the Serbian president. ROUNDUP FROM FORMER YUGOSLAVIA. Croatian President Franjo Tudjman presided over ceremonies yesterday to mark the 52nd anniversary of the liberation of the Jasenovac concentration camp, an RFE/RL correspondent reported from Zagreb. In Ljubljana, Foreign Minister Zoran Thaler says time has come to normalize relations with Belgrade, provided the authorities there stop claiming that their state is the sole legal successor to the former Yugoslavia. In Sarajevo, residents are now able to make direct-dial telephone calls abroad for the first time since early in the recent conflict. In Washington on 18 April, Secretary of Defense William Cohen said that the U.S. may be willing to keep 500 troops in Macedonia as part of UN forces there. Finally, Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic arrived in Athens on 18 April for an unpublicized visit, Nasa Borba reports today. ROMANIAN CHAMBER OF DEPUTIES APPROVES BANK PRIVATIZATION LAW. The Chamber of Deputies on 18 April voted in favor of the law on bank privatization, RFE/RL's Bucharest bureau reported. Several days earlier, the Senate had approved the bill (see RFE/RL Newsline, 15 April 1997). Prime Minister Victor Ciorbea said Romania has now fulfilled all conditions for a new IMF loan. Also on 18 April, State Department spokesman Nicholas Burns praised the Romanian leadership's "intensified commitment to democracy, economic reform and integration with the West," an RFE/RL correspondent in Washington reported. Meanwhile, Foreign Minister Adrian Severin arrived in the U.S. yesterday. He is due to meet with U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright today. FORMER ROMANIAN DEFENSE MINISTER UNDER INVESTIGATION FOR FRAUD. Gen. Victor Athanasie Stanculescu is to be questioned today by the military section of the Prosecutor-General's office, RFE/RL's Bucharest bureau reported on 18 April. Stanculescu, who was defense minister in 1990-1991 and is considered one of the richest persons in the country, is under investigation on suspicion of fraud. Recent press reports that he had fled the country proved false when he returned to Bucharest from a business trip to Switzerland. During his term as defense minister, Stanculescu is suspected of involvement in the illegal purchase abroad of mobile phones, which resulted in Treasury losses of some $8 million in 1990. Stanculescu played a key role in the toppling and the trial of Nicolae Ceausescu. FORMER MOLDOVAN PRESIDENT ON RESOLVING TRANSDNIESTER PROBLEM. Mircea Snegur, former president and current leader of the Moldovan Party of Revival and Accord, says the problem of the breakaway region of the Transdniester should not be solved "at any price," Info-tag reported. Transdniester leader Igor Smirnov and Russian Foreign Minister Yevgenii Primakov agreed in Tiraspol on 10 April on the text of the memorandum on the normalization of bilateral ties between Chisinau and Tiraspol. Snegur told journalists in Chisinau last week that if the memorandum is signed in its current form, it would mean that the Transdniester leadership has "achieved during five hours of negotiations what it could not achieve in five years of struggle." Meanwhile, Moldovan President Petru Lucinschi and Smirnov met in Tiraspol on the weekend and agreed to sign the memorandum in Moscow on 8 May. xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx Copyright (c) 1997 RFE/RL, Inc. 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