|The absence of alternatives clears the mind marvelously. - Henry Kissinger|
Vol. 1, No. 42, Part II, 30 May1997
Vol. 1, No. 42, Part II, 30 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 * ALBRIGHT ON POTENTIAL NEW NATO MEMBERS * UKRAINE SIGNS ACCORD WITH NATO * ALBANIAN PARTY THREATENS TO LEAVE GOVERNMENT End Note CROATIAN PRESIDENTIAL CAMPAIGN KICKS OFF xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx EAST-CENTRAL EUROPE ALBRIGHT ON POTENTIAL NEW NATO MEMBERS. At the meeting of NATO foreign ministers in Sintra, Portugal, on 29 May, U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright said candidates to join NATO expansion would have to "meet the highest possible standards before they are invited to join" and that NATO's enlargement was "not a scholarship program." Observers interpret this statement as meaning the U.S. wants the first invitations to join the alliance to be restricted to the Czech Republic, Hungary, and Poland. The statement is also seen as a rebuff to attempts by France, Italy, and Spain to have Romania and Slovenia included in the first wave of enlargement. Diplomatic sources said French President Jacques Chirac may be unwilling to compromise on the demand that a European country be put in charge of NATO's southern European command if Paris fails to secure Romania's admittance to the organization. The report also said the U.S. views Slovenia as being militarily too weak to join NATO now, though it is strongly backed by Italy. Consultations on new NATO members will continue until the July Madrid summit. UKRAINE SIGNS ACCORD WITH NATO. Foreign Minister Hennady Udovenko and NATO Secretary-General Javier Solana on 29 May initialed an accord in Portugal that sets up mechanisms for strengthening Ukraine's contacts with NATO. The accord, which will be signed at NATO's July summit in Madrid, gives Ukraine the right to call for "consultations" with NATO if it feels under external threat. A NATO-Ukrainian commission will provide a vehicle for the consultations. There will also be an exchange of military missions, with NATO establishing an office in Kyiv. Udovenko told journalists after the signing ceremony that the accord is a "very important document" and the result of three years' discussion. Solana said it gives expression to the special importance NATO attaches to Ukraine "as a democratic, independent state at the heart of Europe." COMMANDER OF BLACK SEA FLEET ON RUSSIAN-UKRAINIAN DEAL. Admiral Viktor Kravchenko, the commander of Russia's Black Sea fleet, told Interfax on 29 May that he is satisfied with agreements on the division of the former Soviet Black Sea fleet concluded the previous day by Russia and Ukraine. Kravchenko said both sides benefit from the compromise accord. According to Kravchenko, the deal's key benefit for Russia is that "the Black Sea fleet is kept and is based in Sevastopol" and that "finally, after more than five years, the issue has been clarified." CRIME IN ESTONIA HIGHEST AMONG BALTIC STATES. Estonia has the highest per capita crime rate among the Baltic States, according to a recent ETA report. Nonetheless, the number of registered crimes fell by 10.4% in 1996 and is now at 1994 levels. Justice Minister Paul Varul and Interior Minister Robert Lepikson, speaking after a national conference organized by the Crime Prevention Council, said they are optimistic that crime will continue to fall in the country. Varul said there are insufficient funds to complete the reorganization of the police force but stressed the process has started. Lepikson pointed out that both drug-related crimes and criminal actions among youths are increasing. LATVIA SIGNS EUROPEAN SOCIAL CHARTER. Welfare Minister Vladimirs Makarovs signed the European Social Charter and its first two protocols in Strasbourg on 29 May, BNS reported. Signing the charter is a condition for admission to the Council of Europe. The document guarantees 19 fundamental social and economic rights, including the rights to employment, labor protection, health care, and social security. Before it ratifies the charter, Riga has to bring its legislation into line with Council of Europe standards. Latvia is the first Baltic State to sign the charter. U.S. ENVIRONMENTALIST HEADS POLL ON PRESIDENTIAL RACE IN LITHUANIA. Valdas Adamkus, a U.S. environmental official of Lithuanian descent, has topped a poll of six potential presidential candidates conducted by Baltic Studies and published on 29 May in Respublica.. Adamkus won the support of 27% of respondents and was followed by incumbent President Algirdas Brazauskas (24%), former Prosecutor-General Arturas Paulauskas (17%), and parliamentary speaker Vitautas Landsbergis (12%). Adamkus is currently barred from running for the presidency by legislation stipulating that candidates must have lived in Lithuania for at least three years before the election. The parliament recently rejected for the second time a bill that would have abolished that requirement (see RFE/RL Newsline, 26 May 1997). Meanwhile, presidential adviser Vladimiras Beriozovas has announced his resignation, BNS reported on 29 May. A former high-ranking communist, he cited fatigue for his decision but admitted he did not want to spoil Brazauskas's chances of re-election. POLISH PRIMATE CRITICIZES LEFTISTS. Cardinal Jozef Glemp on 29 May strongly attacked leftists who are now in the government, despite, he said, having been reared on Marxism. He noted that although Marxism has disappeared as a system, leftists remain "in high places." Glemp was speaking to some 20,000 worshippers at an outdoor Corpus Christi procession. He was particularly critical of the Education Ministry for publishing sex education textbooks that, according to him, had "pornographic overtones." He also blasted the government for attempting to remove religious instruction from kindergartens. CZECH PRESIDENT ACCEPTS GOVERNMENT CHANGES, BUT EXPRESSES DOUBTS. Vaclav Havel agreed on 29 May to name four new government ministers proposed as part of the coalition government's effort to deal with the country's economic turmoil. At the same time, he expressed doubts about the new economic stabilization plan. Speaking to journalists after meeting with the heads of the three ruling parties, Havel said he would like to believe that the reshuffled government is able to carry out its program. He criticized the total absence of long-term objectives in the new plan, which foresees budget cuts in 1997, state support for a tight central bank policy, sharp cuts in publicly financed imports, and a freeze on public-sector salaries. EU COMMISSIONER WARNS SLOVAKIA. Hans van den Broek told a press conference in Bratislava on 29 May that by the year's end, Slovakia needs to send out "positive signals" and to take "practical steps" toward redressing shortcomings in fulfilling EU political criteria if it wants to be invited to expansion talks. Van den Broek said that the European Council is likely to decide in December when those talks will begin. He said the EU expects clear and unambiguous signals from the Slovak government about its intention to strengthen the rule of law and democratization and to follow them up with the necessary practical steps. Earlier the same day, Van den Broek met President Michal Kovac and Premier Vladimir Meciar. SLOVAK, SERBIAN NATIONALIST LEADERS SIGN PACT. Slovak National Party (SNS) Chairman Jan Slota and Serbian Radical Party Chairman Vojislav Seselj signed a declaration on friendly relations in the Slovak town of Zilina on 29 May, Slovak TV reported. The document guarantees all human rights to ethnic Slovaks living in Serbia. It also says that the protection of ethnic rights is vital for Slovaks and Serbs. The SNS, a minor government coalition member, maintains contacts with European radical nationalists. Earlier this year, Slota announced a visit by Jean-Marie Le Pen to Bratislava. He is also preparing a meeting with Austrian nationalist Joerg Haider. HUNGARY TO ALLOW LAND SALES TO COMPANIES. Prime Minister Gyula Horn said a draft bill approved by the government on 29 May will allow companies to buy land, overturning a 1994 law stipulating that only private individuals can purchase land, Hungarian media report. The draft would not allow direct foreign land ownership but would permit Hungarian-based firms that are part-owned by foreigners to purchase land. Horn said that the draft was in accordance with EU membership requirements, a key foreign-policy objective for Hungary. Opposition members and farmers' associations accuse the government of intending "to sell off" Hungarian territory to foreigners. Meanwhile, high-ranking EU official Michael Bursich announced in Nyiregyhaza that the union is granting ECU 40 million for regional development in Hungary. SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE ALBANIAN PARTY THREATENS TO LEAVE GOVERNMENT. Democratic Alliance Party leader Neritan Ceka on 29 May threatened to withdraw from the coalition government unless the state of emergency is lifted by the next day. Talking to the Albanian Daily News in Tirana, Ceka also accused Prime Minister Bashkim Fino of "playing [President Sali] Berisha's game" by not insisting strongly enough that the president meet the opposition's list of demands aimed at ensuring a fair election. Ceka added that the government has failed to reorganize the police and the secret service. ALBANIAN ELECTION UPDATE. In Tirana, the Socialist and Democratic Parties announced their candidates for the largest municipalities on 29 May. Socialist Party leader Fatos Nano will run in Vlora, while his Democratic Party counterpart, Tritan Shehu, will run in Kavaja, Dita Informacion reported . Meanwhile, the newly-formed United Albanian Right--a coalition made up of the Republicans, the National Front, the Party of the Democratic Right, and other small rightist parties--has named World War II anti-communist National Front leader Abaz Ermenji as its leader. The formation of the coalition has frustrated Berisha's attempt to unite all conservative parties behind the Democrats. ALBANIAN LEK STABILIZES. The lek recovered some of its value on 29 May after the central bank intervened against the previous day's rapid fall by selling some of its hard currency reserves. The lek sold on Tirana money markets for as high as 195 to the dollar on 28 May but firmed up at 170 after the bank's move, Dita Informacion reported. Meanwhile, the statistical office at the Agriculture Ministry said that food prices rose by 17% during May. In other news, armed gunmen near Gjirokaster blocked the way of an OSCE election team on 29 May and forced the mainly Italian group to go back to that southern town. In Berat, two people were killed and seven wounded on 28 May in a fight between rival gangs. And in Sauk, near Tirana, unidentified assailants shot three people. CLINTON PLEDGES HARD WORK ON BOSNIA. U.S. President Bill Clinton said in London on 29 May that the international community will have to "work like crazy for the next 13 months" to bring stability to Bosnia-Herzegovina. He added that the only important issue in Bosnia is implementing the Dayton agreement immediately. Clinton's remarks were the latest in a series of statements by high U.S. officials on the need to enforce the civilian provisions of the Dayton agreement. Press reaction in Europe has generally been skeptical, and many editorials say that Washington has offered no new concrete ideas. NATO MINISTERS ALSO CALL FOR ACTION ON BOSNIA. The foreign ministers of the Atlantic alliance, meeting in Sintra, Portugal, on 29 May, said that violations of the Dayton agreement will not be tolerated. U.S. Secretary of State Albright said the goal is to establish a lasting peace that will not depend on the presence of foreign troops. British Foreign Secretary Robin Cook stressed the need to catch war criminals and bring them to justice. Diplomats said that NATO ministers will bring fresh pressure to bear on all three Bosnian sides on 30 May, when the ministers meet with the three members of the joint presidency--Alija Izetbegovic, Kresimir Zubak, and Momcilo Krajisnik. ITALY WANTS "INFORMED" PERSON TO REPLACE BILDT. Also in Sintra, Italian Foreign Minister Lamberto Dini stated on 29 May that his country opposes the candidacy of Spanish diplomat Carlos Westendorp to succeed the international community's Carl Bildt in Bosnia. Dini charged that the U.S. and France monopolized the widely reported decision to pick Westendorp and argued that the new high representative should instead be someone with a considerable knowledge of Bosnian affairs. In Sarajevo, U.S. envoy Robert Gelbard announced on 29 May that the three members of the presidency finally agreed on a draft law to establish a central bank and common currency. The breakthrough came when the Croats and Muslims granted the Serbs the right to continue to use the Yugoslav dinar on their own territory. The Council of Ministers, for their part, approved a group of economic measures known as the Quick Start Package. MILOSEVIC NOT TO SEEK RE-ELECTION? Mirjana Markovic said on a visit to Salonika, Greece, on 29 May that her husband will not run for a third term as Serbian president. She added, however, that it is "too early" to discuss whether Slobodan Milosevic will seek the federal Yugoslav Presidency. A spokesman for Milosevic's Socialists said Serbia will not hand over any indicted war criminals to the Hague-based tribunal but will try them in Yugoslavia. The federal government, for its part, issued a statement that "Croatia is showing insufficient cooperation and readiness for consistent implementation of the Dayton-Paris agreement." And in The Hague, chief prosecutor Louise Arbour met with representatives of the Montenegrin Prosecutor's Office and Foreign Ministry, an RFE/RL correspondent reported from that Dutch city. NEWS FROM AROUND FORMER YUGOSLAVIA. Slovenian railroad workers decided in Ljubljana on 30 May to extend a strike that was originally slated to end the previous day. In Belgrade, over 5,000 retired people protested on 29 May to demand the payment of back pensions. In Zagreb, opposition coalition presidential candidate Vlado Gotovac called for a televised debate between himself, President Franjo Tudjman, and Social Democrat Zdravko Tomac, an RFE/RL correspondent reported from the Croatian capital. BULGARIAN GOVERNMENT ON NATO MEMBERSHIP. Ivan Kostov's government says Bulgaria should be invited to join an enlarged NATO in the first wave because this would add to the organization's "geographic balance." It also says Bulgaria can provide "real support" for the consolidation of "regional and Euro-Atlantic security," AFP and Reuters reported on 29 May. The declaration said the NATO-Russian pact cleared the way for the alliance's eastward expansion and improved Bulgaria's prospects for joining. The Kostov government says it views Bulgaria's membership in NATO as being of "paramount national interest." USAID PLEDGES SUPPORT FOR BULGARIAN REFORMS. Brian Atwood, head of the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), told RFE/RL during his visit to Sofia that the U.S. supports Bulgaria's privatization program, which he characterized as "aggressive and ambitious." Atwood on 29 May discussed the development of the market economy and private business with Premier Kostov. He also met with Deputy Prime Minister Alexander Bozhkov, who is in charge of the privatization program. Atwood said the US. is encouraged by Bulgaria's new emphasis on market reform and stamping out crime and corruption. Speaking of Eastern and Central Europe in general, Atwood promised U.S. support for the development of democracy and free markets in the region. ROMANIAN OPPOSITION MOVES NO-CONFIDENCE MOTION. The first no-confidence motion in Victor Ciorbea's government was moved on 29 May. It was initiated by the main opposition Party of Social Democracy in Romania and is supported by the Party of Romanian National Unity and the Greater Romania Party. The motion's 140 signatories say the coalition has proved unable to govern and has generated "economic chaos" as well as a deterioration of living standards. According to regulations, the motion must be debated within three days after it has been moved. Under normal circumstances, the constitution prevents a deputy or a senator from backing more than one no-confidence motion in a single, six-monthly legislative session. However, for the first time in the last 60 years, the executive has also asked the legislature for a vote of confidence. This means that the opposition can move an additional no-confidence motion if it so wishes. DISPUTE CONTINUES OVER EARLY PARLIAMENTARY ELECTIONS IN MOLDOVA. Dumitru Diacov, the leader of the pro-presidential Movement for a Democratic and Prosperous Moldova and a deputy chairman of the parliament, has again called for early parliamentary elections (see RFE/RL Newsline, 28 May 1997). Speaking at a press conference in Chisinau on 29 May, Diacov said the bulk of deputies are "hostile" to President Petru Lucinschi and deliberately postpone the passage of reform laws, an RFE/RL correspondent in Chisinau reported. Meanwhile, parliamentary chairman Dumitru Motpan said he is opposed to early elections. Opposition was also expressed by the Socialist Unity-Edinstvo faction, which called for Diacov's dismissal as deputy chairman of the legislature, and by the Moldovan Communist Party leader Vladimir Voronin, BASA-press and Infotag reported on 29-30 May. MOLDOVAN PARLIAMENT ACCUSES MINISTERS OF POWER ABUSE. In a resolution passed on 29 May, the parliament accused Minister of Privatization and State Property Administration Ceslav Ciobanu of having illegally privatized the Legkovik sanatorium, which was sold to the private Humanitarian University. Ciobanu's wife is one of the founders of the university. The resolution says that Ciobanu should be dismissed. It also calls for measures to be taken against Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Economics and Reform Ion Gutu for having approved the deal, Infotag and BASA-press reported the same day. The Prosecutor-General's Office opened an official investigation against Ciobanu on 28 May. Meanwhile, Gheorghe Cucu, a former first deputy mayor of Chisinau, was appointed by President Petru Lucinschi minister of industry and trade. He replaces Grigore Triboi, who resigned two weeks ago. CORRECTION: The Russian contingent in the Transdniester has been cut by 1,900 troops and not to 1,900 troops, as incorrectly reported by RFE/RL Newsline on 29 May 1997. END NOTE CROATIAN PRESIDENTIAL CAMPAIGN KICKS OFF by Patrick Moore President Franjo Tudjman is widely expected to easily win a third term i n the 15 June elections. The campaign and the vote might nonetheless provide signs of change in the political landscape. The State Election Commission announced on 27 May in Zagreb that only th ree candidates had managed to collect the necessary 10,000 signatures to win a place on the presidential ballot. They are Tudjman of the Croatian Democratic Community (HDZ), Zdravko Tomac of the Social Democratic Party (SDP), and Vlado Gotovac of the Croatian Social Liberal Party (HSLS). Gotovac also has the backing of at least eight other opposition parties or groupings. All three successful candidates kicked off their respective campaigns in Zagreb on 28 May. Tudjman has held office since 1990 and favors paternalistic, authoritari an rule. He tends to identify his own interests and policies with those of the state and country and keeps a tight grip on the media. Tudjman recently celebrated his 75th birthday by attending a gala at the Croatian National Theater, the theme of which was Tudjman's life and ideas as the culmination of all Croatian political history. Few Croats would deny his merits in leading the movement for national independence. But his authoritarianism, together with what many observers see as the corruption and ossification of the HDZ itself, has irritated many voters. Still, the HDZ easily remains the strongest party, and it trounced the opposition handily in the 13 April elections for local governments and the upper house of the parliament. Part of the reason for the HDZ's continued strength is the weakness of t he opposition. Gotovac is a former communist-era dissident who heads a party torn by in-fighting. Both Tomac and his party are tainted in the eyes of many Croats by their communist past. The opposition as a whole is divided and has failed to develop a clear ideological alternative to the center-right HDZ. Nor has it been able to find a presidential candidate who could begin to challenge the charismatic Tudjman. This lack of balance on the political scene may be changing, however. Th e unexpected strong showing in the April elections of the formerly marginal SDP suggests that the main concern of average Croats continues to be making ends meet and that a party that addresses social issues can win votes. Gotovac seems to have registered this point when he recently defined his campaign as "resistance against Croatia's undemocratic development, totalitarianism and degradation of public morality." He went on to say that, "We want to reverse the direction of Croatia's social and economic life and return to Croatia what was promised to it at the very beginning" of independence in 1991. Tomac struck a similar chord. The leader of the reformed communists said : "Croatia should not have an elite that lives in high style.... Social Democrats want to preserve private property and free enterprise, but we [also] want to create a country that will protect the worker and his dignity, a country that will not allow a reign of furious capitalism." He added that he would reduce the power of the presidency and called on Gotovac to join forces with him against Tudjman if the ballot goes into a second round. The president, for his part, launched his campaign with an address to ne wly graduated air force pilots that was broadcast at peak time on national television. This reflects his and the HDZ's now standard practice of seeking maximum political advantage from the prerogatives of office and from the government's hold on the electronic media. The theme of his campaign is continuity of the policies that he says have proven successful since the first free elections in 1990. But even he acknowledged the need to reduce bureaucracy and improve the standard of living. His main issues, however, are nationalist ones. During the election camp aign, Tudjman can be expected to portray himself as the defender of Croatian interests in the face of increasing criticism from the U.S. Gotovac told RFE/RL in Zagreb on 28 May that Tudjman is exploiting current tensions with Croatia's Western allies, just as Tito sought to rally his people behind him in the face of Soviet pressures in 1948. Tomac, for his part, suggested to RFE/RL that the West is insisting on the immediate return of Serbian refugees but is less interested in the fate of displaced Croats. Several well-known Croatian political observers told RFE/RL corresponden ts that the election underlines the need for some more fundamental changes. One is for less emphasis on personalities and more on political programs. A second is that Croatia requires a new generation of political leaders who are not so rooted in the past. Finally, the analysts said, the system itself must become more democratic and less linked to one man and one party. xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx Copyright (c) 1997 RFE/RL, Inc. 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