|If we are to live together in peace, we must first come to know each other better. - Lyndon B. Johnson|
Vol. 1, No. 33, Part II, 19 May1997
Vol. 1, No. 33, Part II, 19 May1997 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 * UKRAINIAN PRESIDENT IN U.S. * POLITICAL BRINKMANSHIP IN ALBANIA * TENSE WEEKEND IN KOSOVO xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx EAST-CENTRAL EUROPE UKRAINIAN PRESIDENT IN U.S. U.S. President Bill Clinton, speaking before his meeting with Leonid Kuchma in the White House on 17 May, reiterated his belief that a successful, democratic Europe requires a successful, democratic, and progressive Ukraine, RFE/RL's Washington correspondent reported. Earlier, Kuchma and U.S. Vice President Al Gore co-chaired the first session of the U.S.- Ukraine Bi-national Commission. The two leaders told a press conference afterward that Ukraine and the U.S. have agreed to begin negotiating an agreement on peaceful nuclear cooperation. Kuchma also told reporters he hopes Ukraine's charter agreement with NATO will be ready for initialing by 30 May. Meanwhile, the U.S. space agency NASA announced on 17 May that a Ukrainian cosmonaut, Col. Leonid Kadenyuk, is scheduled to be aboard the space shuttle Columbia when it lifts off in November. TATARS DEMONSTRATE IN CRIMEAN CAPITAL. Some 10,000 ethnic Tatars demonstrated yesterday in Simferopol to mark the 53rd anniversary of the mass deportation of the Crimean Tatars, dpa reported. The demonstrators gathered in Lenin Square to demand assistance for the 250,000 Crimean Tatars who have returned to Crimea in the past five years. The Tatars were deported to Soviet Central Asia in 1944 under communist leader Joseph Stalin for alleged cooperation with the German occupation forces during World War II. The demonstrators said some 100,000 returnees still have no flats, and tens of thousands of them are unable to find jobs. BELARUS SECURITY COUNCIL CHIEF MEETS WITH LEBED. Belarusian Security Council Secretary Viktor Sheiman met with former Russian national security chief Aleksandr Lebed on 17 May, ITAR-TASS reported. Lebed was quoted as saying that the proposed Russian-Belarus union is "necessary" and "just" because it meets the interests of both countries. The previous day, a spokesperson for Belarusian President Alyaksandr Lukashenka said the president opposes Belarus joining the Russian Federation. Moscow has reportedly proposed Belarus become part of the Russian Federation in recent talks, while Russian President Boris Yeltsin recently suggested that the two countries' planned union may result in their merger. ESTONIAN PRIME MINISTER ON PROTECTIVE TARIFFS. Mart Siimann told Postimees in its 17 May issue that his minority government will resign if the parliament rejects the government's draft law on protective tariffs, ETA reported. The introduction of such tariffs is a prerequisite for accession to the World Trade Organization. It is also stipulated in the coalition agreement between the Coalition Party and the Rural Union. Opposition deputies say they will oppose the draft law because they fear it will harm Estonia's reputation abroad as a tariff-free economy and reduce Estonian products' competitiveness on markets abroad. They also point out that while the bill is intended to protect local farmers, it provides for tariffs on 1,700 categories of commodities, some of which are not produced in Estonia. The parliament is due to continue with its first reading of the bill today. LATVIA ATTRACTS MORE PER CAPITA FOREIGN INVESTMENT THAN ESTONIA, LITHUANIA. According to a recent EBRD report on the economic situation in the Baltic States, Latvia was ahead of Estonia and Lithuania in terms of per capita direct foreign investments last year, BNS reported yesterday. The report states that in 1996, such investments reached $68 in Latvia, $45 in Estonia, and $21 in Lithuania. Latvia lags behind Hungary ($184), the Czech Republic ($117), and Slovenia ($80). EBRD experts also predict that Latvia will have the lowest inflation rate among the Baltic States in 1997. They forecast that inflation in Latvia will not exceed 10% this year and that in Estonia and Lithuania, it could reach 12% and 13%, respectively. LITHUANIAN OFFICIAL CRITICIZES RUSSIA-NATO ACCORD. Parliamentary Deputy Chairman Romualdas Ozolas says the Russian-NATO Founding Act will reduce the possibilities of ensuring the security of Baltic countries, BNS reported on 16 May. Ozolas issued a statement arguing that Russia's domination of NATO has been pre- programmed into the working procedures for a proposed NATO-Russian Council. He added that the founding act, due to be signed in Paris on 27 May, will "complicate NATO's efficacy and diminish the West's support possibilities for those countries seeking NATO membership " POLISH PRIME MINISTER PRAISES DRAFT CONSTITUTION. Wlodzimierz Cimoszewicz told nationwide TV on 17 May that Poland's new constitution is "people friendly" and does not impose a worldview or way of life on anyone. He said it guarantees basic rights and liberties and contains certain new rights. Cimoszewicz also commented he was irritated by "nonsensical arguments" against the constitution. Some Polish opposition parties, including the Solidarity trade union, are opposed to the draft constitution. Pro-Catholic right-wing forces have criticized the draft for not giving precedence to Christian values and for failing to protect human life from the moment of conception. A nationwide referendum on the draft constitution is due to take place on 25 May. CZECH PRESIDENT IN WASHINGTON. Vaclav Havel met with U.S. Defense Secretary William Cohen in the U.S. capital on 16 May to discuss the cost of bringing the Czech military up to NATO standards, RFE/RL's Washington correspondent reported. The talks also focused on cooperation between the U.S. and Czech armies as well as the Czech Republic's willingness to invest in its defense and to participate in the collective defense of Europe. Havel told reporters the same day that his informal meeting with U.S. President Bill Clinton in Washington was friendly and covered such issues as NATO expansion and European integration. Havel met with Clinton the previous night at a birthday party for U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright. TOP CZECH OFFICIALS AGAINST DEVALUING CROWN. Prime Minister Vaclav Klaus and his main rival, opposition Social Democratic Party Chairman Milos Zeman, said during a TV debate yesterday that they see no reason why the Czech crown should be devalued. Last week, the Central Bank had to intervene to support the crown when the Czech currency came under pressure. Central Bank Governor Josef Tosovsky told Czech TV that the bank is ready to intervene again, should the value of the crown start declining again. "This is what currency reserves are for," said Tosovsky. REFERENDUM IN SLOVAKIA TO POSE FOUR QUESTIONS. The Central Referendum Commission announced on 16 May that ballots with four questions--three on Slovak entry into NATO and one on direct presidential elections--will be distributed, RFE/RL's Bratislava bureau reported. The previous day, Internal Affairs Minister Gustav Krajci refused to print ballots that included the elections question, arguing that the Constitutional Court had not yet decided whether it was possible for a referendum to change the constitution. The government had appealed to the court to make a ruling, but the court determined that the government was not entitled to make such an appeal. Premier Vladimir Meciar said on nationwide radio on 16 May that he will respect the court's verdict. He added he expects that the round table talks between all political parties, which he initiated, will help improve Slovakia's reputation but will not put a stop to the confrontation between the coalition and the opposition. SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE POLITICAL BRINKMANSHIP IN ALBANIA. Socialist Prime Minister Bashkim Fino meets with representatives of other opposition parties today to finalize their demands for changes to the election law. Fino will then try again to persuade President Sali Berisha to agree to the new provisions, which deal with proportional representation, access to the media, monitoring, and control over electoral commissions. Berisha himself would have to decree any changes, since on 16 May he dissolved parliament and called elections for 29 June. It is unclear how far in advance of the vote the law can still be amended. The opposition over the weekend again hinted it might boycott the ballot if current law remains unchanged. Berisha told supporters in Lac yesterday that he will not modify the law. PRODI DENIES THREAT TO LEAVE ALBANIA. Italian Prime Minister Romano Prodi in Rome yesterday denied reports that he has pledged to cut short Operation Alba unless the elections go ahead on schedule. He said his earlier remarks about the need for the Albanians to help stabilize their country themselves were not meant as a "threat, but just [as] a serious observation." In Vlora, representatives of the Salvation Committees controlling numerous southern towns met over the weekend and rejected Berisha's demand that the local committees disband. In Ulcinj in Montenegro, a local ethnic Albanian politician told BETA news agency over the weekend that more than 100 trucks carrying scrap iron arrive illegally from Albania each day. And in the Albanian industrial town of Elbasan, five men were killed in gang warfare yesterday. TENSE WEEKEND IN KOSOVO. Posters appeared in Pristina over the weekend calling on ethnic Albanians in the name of the local Kosovo Liberation Army (UCK) to abandon shadow-state President Ibrahim Rugova's policy of non- violence and launch an armed struggle. For his part, Rugova's deputy Fehmi Agani said in Belgrade that he does not know if the UCK really exists. On 16 May, unidentified attackers shot an ethnic Albanian dead on the Prizren- Djakovica road, while two Serbian police were wounded in the village of Srbica. Soon after the attack on the policemen, Serbian authorities arrested at least 30 Albanian students. The next day, students at the underground Albanian university in Pristina protested the arrests. Meanwhile, the trial opened in Pristina today of 18 Kosovars charged with terrorism as alleged members of the UCK, Nasa Borba reported this morning. DID BRITAIN'S RIFKIND OBSTRUCT WAR CRIMES INVESTIGATION AGAINST MILOSEVIC? The Observer wrote yesterday that former Foreign Secretary Malcolm Rifkind blocked a U.S. request last year to turn over jointly collected intelligence data to the Hague-based war crimes tribunal. Court President Antonio Cassesse also appealed in vain to Rifkind to release the telephone intercepts that might have proven a link between Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic and the Bosnian Serb leaders. The London weekly added that Rifkind refused to change the orders of British peacekeepers to enable them to arrest indicted war criminals Radovan Karadzic and Gen. Ratko Mladic. The paper also charged that the Milosevic regime secretly paid $160,000 to Rifkind's Conservative Party through a lobbying firm. MILOSEVIC MEETS BOSNIAN SERB LEADERS. The Serbian president met in Belgrade on Friday with Momcilo Krajisnik, the ethnic Serb member of the Bosnian joint presidency, and with Republika Srpska Prime Minister Gojko Klickovic to discuss implementing the recent economic agreement between Belgrade and Pale, Nasa Borba reported this morning. Meanwhile in nearby Vojvodina, Romanian Foreign Minister Adrian Severin met with his federal Yugoslav counterpart, Milan Milutinovic, on 16 May. They signed a protocol reaffirming the rights of each country's ethnic minority on the other's territory, including the right of individuals to declare their membership in an ethnic minority group. They also noted there are no outstanding issues between Belgrade and Bucharest but that economic links could be stronger. CROATIAN CURRENCY BECOMES LEGAL TENDER IN EASTERN SLAVONIA. The kuna went into circulation today in eastern Slavonia, which is gradually being reintegrated into Croatia. Meanwhile, Serbian deputies for the first time since 1991 took their seats in the government of Osijek- Baranja county, in Osijek, on 17 May. The county leader is once again the Croatian Democratic Community's (HDZ) Branimir Glavas, but his deputies are now the Independent Democratic Serbian Party's (SDSS) Mirko Blagojevic and the independent Anica Horvat. An RFE/RL correspondent also reported from Osijek that the HDZ and the SDSS have reached a power-sharing agreement for the towns of Vukovar and Beli Manastir. NEWS FROM AROUND FORMER YUGOSLAVIA. Rail traffic resumed yesterday on the line between Tuzla, located on Bosnian federal territory, and Doboj, in the Republika Srpska. In Podgorica, some leaders of the Democratic Socialist Party (DPS) charged Montenegrin President Momir Bulatovic with acting as if he were already the party's presidential candidate in the upcoming elections, an RFE/RL correspondent reported from the Montenegrin capital. The DPS' organization in Cetinje underscored the point by nominating his rivals Prime Minister Milo Djukanovic and parliamentary speaker Svetozar Marovic for the presidency. And in Macedonia, an exercise sponsored by NATO and involving up to 1,000 troops ended on 16 May. FORMER PRESIDENTIAL AIDE NOMINATED ROMANIA'S INTELLIGENCE CHIEF. President Emil Constantinescu yesterday nominated Costin Georgescu as chief of the Romanian Intelligence Service. The 55-year-old Georgescu managed Constantinescu's election campaign in 1992 (see RFE/RL Newsline, 6 May 1997). He is a construction engineer by profession and a deputy of the National Liberal Party. He will have to resign that position if the parliament approves his nomination, as it is expected to do, RFE/RL's Bucharest bureau reported. ROMANIAN GOVERNMENT APPROVES NEW DRAFT LAWS. The government yesterday approved amendments to the Law on Education doing away with provisions that were viewed as discriminatory by the Hungarian minority. The amendments provide for instruction in the mother tongue at all levels of education and abolish the provision stating that national minorities must study subjects such as history or geography in Romanian. The executive also change the name of the ministry from Ministry of Public Instruction to Ministry of National Education. In addition, it approved a draft law on the National Bank giving it full independence and responsibility for stabilizing the national currency and prices by controlling the money supply. ROMANIAN PREMIER ON LABOR UNREST. Victor Ciorbea says "obscure forces" are trying to manipulate people who are genuinely hit by temporary hardships as a result of economic reform. He said those who are suffering most are not "the noisiest." In an interview with RFE/RL on 16 May, Ciorbea said the government has no intention to "give into force and intimidation attempts." He was responding to a demonstration in Bucharest one day earlier protesting the government's economic policies. The same day, some 600 heavy truck drivers drove through Bucharest and honked their horns as they passed government headquarters. The demonstrators were protesting the cabinet's intention to institute a road tax. MOLDOVAN PREMIER ON BASIC TREATY WITH ROMANIA. Ion Ciubuc says the pending basic treaty with Romania must reflect "today's realities [and] the interests of both countries and their constitutions." Addressing a news conference in Chisinau on his return from a visit to Romania on 17 May, Ciubuc said the draft of the treaty "should be thoroughly prepared" to avoid "leading to tensions." He said the treaty must be "one of friendship and cooperation and not one of fraternity, as some people think." Earlier reports said Romania was insisting on a document that mentioned the "special relationship" of the two countries based on their unity of culture, history, and language, Infotag reported. IMF TEAM BEGINS WORKING WITH BULGARIA ON CURRENCY BOARD. A team of IMF officials has arrived in Sofia for two weeks to assist Bulgarian officials in setting up the currency board of the National Bank. An RFE/RL correspondent in Washington reported on 16 May that the IMF views the setting up of the board as the "key" to Bulgaria's economic reform and stabilization program. The board will tie the lev to the German mark and will strictly limit the amount of currency the bank can issue, making the money supply dependent on the bank's hard-currency reserves. The agreement with the IMF also prohibits the National Bank from providing cheap credits to cover budget deficits or the losses of state enterprises. BULGARIAN PARLIAMENT TO DEBATE "MACEDONIAN- LANGUAGE ISSUE." The parliamentary National Security Committee plans to debate the so-called "Macedonian- language issue" at its first session. An RFE/RL Sofia bureau correspondent says the dispute has clouded relations between Sofia and Skopje for almost six years. Bulgaria has insisted for more than a century that Macedonian is a dialect of Bulgarian. Skopje say this linguistic claim is a "thin disguise" for territorial ambitions toward Macedonia that date back to the breakup of the Ottoman Empire. In other news, BTA reported on 16 May that the spiritual leader of the country's 800,000 strong Muslim community, Hadzhibasri Hadzhisherif, has died in Sofia aged 69. xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx Copyright (c) 1997 RFE/RL, Inc. 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