|The trouble with being punctual is that nobody's there to appreciate it. - Franklin P. Jones|
Vol. 1, No. 27, Part II, 9 May 1997
Vol. 1, No. 27, Part II, 9 May 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 * CHISINAU, TIRASPOL SIGN MEMORANDUM IN MOSCOW * NATO SECRETARY-GENERAL IN UKRAINE * INTERNATIONAL PRESSURE SEEKS TO BREAK ALBANIAN ELECTION DEADL0CK xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx EAST-CENTRAL EUROPE NATO SECRETARY-GENERAL IN UKRAINE. Javier Solana on 7 May handed Ukrainian President Leonid Kuchma a draft document on future relations between NATO and Ukraine. Solana expressed hope that it will be ready for signing at the July NATO summit in Madrid. A Ukrainian Foreign Ministry official said the document will need to be amended. But he added that the two sides will sign a "good document" regardless of disagreements. Interfax reported that Solana also expressed the hope that Ukraine will ratify the CFE flank limitations before the 15 May conclusion of ongoing negotiations in Vienna. An Azerbaijani presidential adviser said in Baku on 7 May that it would be "difficult" for Azerbaijan to agree to the CFE flank agreements, but he did not specify Azerbaijan's precise objections, according to TURAN. The 1990 CFE treaty must be endorsed by all signatory states. Georgia and Moldova have also expressed reservations. GERMANY BACKS BALTICS' BID FOR NATO MEMBERSHIP. German Defense Minister Volker Ruehe says Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania are likely to become NATO members within "a foreseeable time frame," Reuters and BNS reported. Ruehe was speaking yesterday at Skagen, Denmark, at the conclusion of a biannual meeting of the German, Danish, and Polish defense ministers, which was also attended by their counterparts from Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania. Ruehe said the Baltic states should cooperate closely so as not to lose time in their efforts to join NATO. He also agreed with his Danish and Polish colleagues to invite the Baltic ministers to annual, informal talks beginning in Germany next February. LATVIAN PRESIDENT AGREES WITH CRITICISM OF DEFENSE MINISTRY. Guntis Ulmanis says he supports Prime Minister Andris Skele in his criticism of the Defense Ministry, Interfax reported yesterday. Skele demanded Defense Minister Andrejs Krastins's resignation on 7 May. The ministry has allegedly concluded large fuel purchase deals at prices disadvantageous to the state. Those deals create the impression of corruption, Skele suggested, adding that more details will be made public only after an investigation has been conducted. Krastins, who was in Denmark to attend the Baltic defense ministers' meeting, returned to Riga on 7 May. He told a news conference in the Latvian capital that he has to comply with Skele's demand for his resignation "in line with the law." But he denied his involvement in dubious deals, saying he did not discount the possibility that "incorrect" information was passed onto Skele to discredit him. U.S. REPLACES GERMANY AS LITHUANIA'S TOP FOREIGN INVESTOR. Lithuania's statistics office says the U.S. has overtaken Germany as the country's top foreign investor, BNS reported yesterday. As of 1 January 1997, the U.S. had invested in Lithuania $166 million while Germany's total investment in that country reached $75 million. Sweden is the third-largest investor with $69 million dollars. The statistics office says foreigners tend to invest in food, alcohol and tobacco production, communications, and financial services. TURKISH PRESIDENT IN WARSAW. Suleyman Demirel says his country will not block Poland's membership in NATO. Following talks in Warsaw on 7 May with his Polish counterpart, Aleksander Kwasniewski, Demirel told journalists that Poland will be a member of NATO and that its biggest supporter will be Turkey. Yesterday, Demirel met with Prime Minister Wlodzimierz Cimoszewicz. He is also scheduled to meet with parliamentary leaders and former President Lech Walesa. BOEING, MCDONNELL BUY INTO CZECH AIRCRAFT MAKER. A consortium consisting of the U.S. companies Boeing Co. and McDonnell Douglas Corp. and the Czech airline CSA has agreed to buy a minority stake in the biggest military aircraft maker in the Czech Republic, Aero Vodochody, for an undisclosed price. The contract is scheduled to be signed by the end of September, Prime Minister Vaclav Klaus told journalists on 7 May. The Czech government issued a tender in January for a 34-40% stake in the indebted Czech aircraft maker for a minimum price of 950 million koruny ($32.4 million).The winners said they will use Aero to make more parts for Boeing's commercial carriers and assemble McDonnell's fighter jets, using some local suppliers. SLOVAK FOREIGN MINISTER IN CHINA. Chinese Foreign Minister Qian Qichen says that Chinese-Slovak ties have expanded smoothly since the two countries established diplomatic ties in 1993, shortly after the break-up of the former Czechoslovakia, the official Xinhua news agency reported. Qian met with his Slovak counterpart, Pavol Hamzik, in Beijing on 7 May. Among other things, the two ministers discussed international issues. SLOVAK OPPOSITION LAUNCHES CAMPAIGN FOR NATO MEMBERSHIP, DIRECT PRESIDENTIAL ELECTIONS. Eight opposition parties on 7 May launched a campaign to convince voters that they should support Slovak membership in NATO and direct presidential elections in the 23-24 May referendum. The eight parties argue that the referendum will offer Slovaks the chance to show they want to remain part of an "advanced and democratic Europe." "We are seeking to strengthen a free society and to reject an authoritarian establishment," a joint statement said. The bloc comprises the Slovak Social Democratic Party, the Christian Democratic Movement, the Democratic Party, the Democratic Union, the Greens, and the ethnic Hungarian parties. The opposition post-communist Democratic Left Party declined to join the campaign. HUNGARY'S SOCIALISTS LIFT CONSTITUTIONAL AGREEMENT. The Socialist Party's (MSzP) parliamentary faction says it no longer considers valid a long-standing agreement with the opposition stipulating that constitutional amendments need the backing of at least five parliamentary parties, Hungarian media reported today. Deputy faction leader Laszlo Toller said the agreement has ceased to exist because the opposition is unwilling to agree to a compromise on proposed amendments on judicial reform, the status of refugees, referenda, and government appointments. The opposition parties have protested, saying lifting the agreement is a "serious unilateral" step. SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE CHISINAU, TIRASPOL SIGN MEMORANDUM IN MOSCOW. Moldovan President Petru Lucinschi and Igor Smirnov, the leader of the breakaway region of Transdniester, met yesterday in Moscow to sign the memorandum on ways to settle the conflict in Moldova. Russian President Boris Yeltsin, Ukrainian President Leonid Kuchma, and Niels Helveg Petersen, the acting chief of the OSCE mission to Moldova, also signed the memorandum as guarantors. The document states that the two sides will develop ties within a single state existing inside Moldova's January 1990 borders. A document providing for a special status of the Transdniester region has still to be negotiated. REACTIONS TO SIGNING OF MEMORANDUM. Lucinschi told a press conference after the signing ceremony that the two sides have agreed that Ukrainian peace-keeping forces will join Russian troops in Transdniester, BASA- Press reported. He added that Moldovan and Transdniestrian forces would be left facing each other if the Russians withdrew now. Yeltsin was quoted by Interfax as saying Russia is ready to withdraw its troops but the go-ahead must come from Moldovan and Transdniester leaders. Observers note this means the troops will, in fact, not be withdrawn because Tiraspol bitterly opposes the step. Yeltsin added that although the memorandum was an important "step forward", its conclusion had not solved all problems. Smirnov hailed the fact that "two large countries--Russia and Ukraine-- have become our guarantors." INTERNATIONAL PRESSURE SEEKS TO BREAK ALBANIAN ELECTION DEADL0CK. Albanian Prime Minister Bashkim Fino is off to Rome this weekend to meet with Foreign Minister Lamberto Dini and other top officials. The Albanian delegation will then go on to Washington. Franz Vranitzky, the OSCE's top envoy to Albania, held talks in Tirana yesterday with President Sali Berisha. The diplomatic activity is aimed at encouraging Berisha's Democratic Party and the Socialist-led opposition coalition to agree on rules for the early elections, tentatively slated for 29 June (see RFE/RL Newsline, 6 May 1997). Italian Defense Minister Beniamino Andreatta said in Rome on 7 May that Italian troops will leave Albania if the June vote does not take place. ALBANIAN PREMIER WANTS BIGGER ROLE FOR FOREIGN TROOPS. Fino said in Tirana today, however, that he regrets "statements calling for the departure of the foreign troops. Their presence is a necessity for Albania." Fino stressed that Operation Alba has had a major psychological effect in restoring calm and order after weeks of anarchy. He added that he still wants the foreigners to extend their mandate to include guarding arms dumps and frontier crossings. Fino also argued that the troops can play a key role in the elections because "the whole population is armed, and [the authorities] are concerned about security at polling stations." RUGOVA PUTS OFF KOSOVO ELECTIONS. Kosovar shadow-state President Ibrahim Rugova announced in Pristina yesterday that elections for the parliament will take place but only by late December. He also extended by six months the current legislature's mandate, which runs out later this month. His move comes in the wake of pressure from Washington not to hold elections. U.S. and other foreign diplomats have told the Kosovars to forget about independence and to take part in the democratization of Serbian politics instead (see RFE/RL Newsline, 7 May 1997). Various Kosovar politicians and parties are increasingly objecting to the domination of the shadow-state by Rugova and his Democratic League of Kosovo. BOSNIAN UPDATE. Muslim political leaders threatened in Sarajevo yesterday to boycott the September local elections in the disputed town of Brcko. Earlier that day the OSCE had ruled that the Brcko vote will include only central, Serb-held districts and not the outlying areas controlled by the Croatian-Muslim federation, an RFE/RL correspondent reported from the capital. Also in Sarajevo, the joint cabinet representing all three nationalities adopted a state budget after months of haggling. The vote removes a major obstacle to holding the frequently- postponed international aid donors' conference. In Kljuc, Bosnian authorities exhumed the bodies of 38 Muslims burned alive in a Serbian offensive in 1992. ROUNDUP FROM FORMER YUGOSLAVIA. Viktor Ivancic, the editor of the satirical weekly Feral Tribune, went on trial for libel in Split yesterday, an RFE/RL correspondent reported from that Dalmatian city. In Trepca earlier this week, Serbian mining company officials signed a five-year agreement worth $517 million with a Greek company. In Skopje, the Macedonian Constitutional Court gave the green light for the university's Pedagogical Faculty to run teachers' training courses in Albanian, Macedonian media reported yesterday. And in Bitola, the Macedonian authorities began examining the books of the failed TAT pyramid scheme. GREECE TO TAKE PART IN EXERCISES IN MACEDONIA. Greek officials announced in Athens yesterday that Greece will join Albania, Bulgaria, Italy, Slovenia, Turkey, and Romania in exercises in Macedonia from 11 to 17 May. The project is part of NATO's Partnership for Peace and will simulate providing aid following an earthquake in southern Macedonia. The Greeks agreed to join only after the other participants said they will refer to the host country only as the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia. Greece objects to the name Macedonia, which, Athens argues, implies territorial claims on the northern Greek region of the same name. The government in Skopje denies the Greek charges. BULGARIAN PARLIAMENT APPROVES "NATIONAL SALVATION" DECLARATION. Bulgaria's parliament yesterday adopted a "National Salvation" declaration on domestic and foreign policy priorities, RFE/RL's Sofia Bureau reported. Each of the document's seven sections was voted on separately. The document calls for the establishment of a currency board that ties local money supply to foreign currency reserves, the opening of communist secret police files on officials and judges, and the full privatization of agricultural land. The section on joining the EU received unanimous endorsement. The opposition Socialist Party voted for most parts of the declaration but did not support the section calling for NATO membership. President Petar Stoyanov will meet today with leaders of the United Democratic Forces to officially begin the process of forming the government. RUSSIAN AMBASSADOR TO BULGARIA PROTESTS MONUMENT DESECRATION. Leonid Kerestedzhiyants has warned the mayor of Plodviv that there may be "negative consequences" if the city authorities fail to remove Nazi swastika signs from a monument to Russian soldiers. The warning was issued on the eve of Victory Day celebrations on 8 May, ITAR-TASS reported. The ambassador said the Plodviv local authorities in the past had triggered angry responses from Russia when they announced plans to pull down the monument. BELGIAN PREMIER IN ROMANIA. Jean-Luc Dehaene met with Premier Victor Ciorbea and members of his cabinet in Bucharest yesterday, RFE/RL's bureau in the Romanian capital reported. Dehaene told his host that Belgium supports Romania's bid to join an enlarged NATO. He said Romania's integration in the EU would primarily depend on the country's ability to fulfill the "technical, rather than political, criteria" imposed on all states wanting to join the union. He urged Romania to concentrate on implementing economic reform. Dehaene is also scheduled to meet with Senate chairman Petre Roman and President Emil Constantinescu. ROMANIA ACKNOWLEDGES HOLOCAUST CRIMES. For the first time ever, a Romanian official has acknowledged the crimes committed by his countrymen against Jews in the 1940s. The daily USA Today reported on 8 May that President Constantinescu sent a message to participants in a ceremony marking Holocaust Day at Bucharest's main synagogue saying that some Romanians assisted Jews but others committed crimes against them. He said the "sacrifice of hundreds of thousands of Jews...weighs heavily on all our hearts. The killing of innocent people can neither be forgiven, nor corrected, nor forgotten." ROMANIA'S MAIN OPPOSITION PARTY IN TURMOIL. At a meeting of the Sibiu branch of the Party of Social Democracy in Romania (PDSR), delegates urged Deputy Chairman Teodor Melescanu to agree to replace Ion Iliescu as party chairman. Mediafax reported that Iliescu has been accused of failing to remove party members "with a dubious public image." In an interview with Radio Bucharest Melescanu said he was "honored" by the trust placed in him. Iliescu said the proposal was "natural" in a democratic party and demonstrated the "sympathy" within the party toward Melescanu. Meanwhile, Adrian Nastase, another PDSR deputy chairman, announced yesterday he will collaborate with the Prosecutor-General's office following press reports that the office is considering opening an investigation against him for suspected fraud. xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx Copyright (c) 1997 RFE/RL, Inc. 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