|Our main business is not to see what lies dimly at a distance, but to do what lies clearly at hand. - Thomas Carlyle|
Vol. 1, No. 46, Part II, 5 June1997
Vol. 1, No. 46, Part II, 5 June1997 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 * PLANS TO SELL UKRAINIAN BOMBERS TO RUSSIA SUSPENDED * BELARUSIAN PRESIDENT SIGNS DECREE ON TREATY WITH RUSSIA * ATTACK ON BERISHA PUTS ALBANIAN VOTE IN DOUBT xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx EAST-CENTRAL EUROPE PLANS TO SELL UKRAINIAN BOMBERS TO RUSSIA SUSPENDED. Ukrainian Defense Minister Alexander Kuzmuk told ITAR-TASS on 4 June that Ukraine has decided to keep several bomber aircraft that it was intending to sell to Russia. Kuzmuk said that Ukraine had planned to sell Russia 25 Tupolev Tu-160 and Tu-95MS bombers as agreed upon two years ago, but he added that the two countries have been unable to settle on a price for the aircraft. Russian Deputy Prime Minister Valerii Serov said Russia might decide against purchasing the planes because it has no funds for repairs. Kuzmuk neither confirmed nor denied that Russia has backed out of the sale. He said only that "the question has been suspended" and "it is unclear when it will be settled." CRIMEAN PARLIAMENT PROTESTS SEA MANEUVERS, REPLACES PREMIER. The Crimean parliament on 4 June protested against upcoming Sea Breeze naval exercises in the Black Sea, dpa reported. It accused the Ukrainian government of allowing Crimea to become a "test bed" for NATO plans. Russia has also criticized the NATO-backed exercises, in which Ukrainian forces will participate along with troops from the U.S., Bulgaria, and Romania. Also on 4 June, the parliament voted to name Anatoli Franchuk as prime minister of the autonomous province. Ukrainian President Leonid Kuchma approved the dismissal of Premier Arkady Demidenko and his replacement by Franchuk the previous day. UKRAINIAN MINERS ON STRIKE. Trade union spokesman Yuri Berdnik told journalists in Kyiv on 4 June that more than 2,000 Ukrainian miners are striking over wage delays and working conditions. The miners' strike began on 30 May and has paralyzed 19 mines in the eastern part of the country. According to Berdnik, the striking miners are owed more than $2 million in back pay. The Ukrainian government reportedly owes a total of $819 million to some 600,000 miners. BELARUSIAN PRESIDENT SIGNS DECREE ON TREATY WITH RUSSIA. Alyaksandr Lukashenka has signed a decree ordering his government to implement the recently signed union charter with Russia, Belapan reported on 4 June. The decree calls, among other things, for drafting a joint defense policy for Russia and Belarus. Meanwhile, Russian President Boris Yeltsin said at a meeting with regional leaders in Moscow on 4 June that Russia and Belarus may have a common currency in the future as a result of the union charter. ESTONIAN GOVERNMENT APPROVES PROGRAM. The government has approved a program for 1997-1998 that gives priority to regional development and foresees annual economic growth at 4-5% and annual inflation at 10-12%, ETA reported on 4 June. The main foreign-policy goals are admission to the EU, cooperation with NATO within the framework of the Partnership for Peace program, and continued participation in peacekeeping operations. Also on 4 June, the government approved the principles of a so-called three-pillar pension system based on guaranteed state pensions and mandatory and voluntary payments by individuals. The voluntary "pillar" is to be implemented in 1998 and the mandatory one after 2000. A government official noted that a new system was needed because of the "increasing median age" of the population, according to ETA. NEW LATVIAN DEFENSE MINISTER CONFIRMED. The parliament has confirmed Talavs Jundzis as defense minister, BNS reported on 4 June. Jundzis was Latvia's first defense minister following the country's restoration of independence in 1991. He replaces Andrejs Krastins, who resigned at the beginning of May following accusations of having concluded fuel purchase deals at prices disadvantageous to the state (see RFE/RL Newsline, 9 May 1997). Meanwhile, President Guntis Ulmanis has sent a letter to Prime Minister Andris Skele urging that the naturalization process be simplified. He called for reducing the naturalization fee from 30 lats ($60) to 3 lats, exempting students from paying the fee, and abolishing the six-month limit for people to reapply if they fail the naturalization exam, Reuters and BNS reported. LITHUANIAN COMMISSIONER FOR MILITARY TRANSIT DISMISSED. The government has dismissed Lt.-Col. Algirdas Jurkevicius as commissioner for military transit, BNS reported on 4 June. The decision was taken following reports that Jurkevicius abused his powers by signing transit licenses for Russian military vehicles to cross Lithuania. Only Russian military trains are allowed to transit the country. Jurkevicius was appointed by the government in June 1995. POPE PRAISES SHARED HERITAGE OF POLES AND JEWS. Speaking on 4 June at a sanctuary in Kalisz dedicated to Polish clergy who were sent to the Nazi death camp at Dachau, in Germany, Pope John Paul paid tribute to the millions of Jews who died in World War II. The pope, who is on an 11-day visit to Poland, reminded his audience of what he called the "common heritage" of Jews and Poles in Poland. Earlier the same day, he addressed some 100,000 people at an open air mass in Kalisz, saying a nation that allows abortion has no future and deserves to be called a "barbarian civilization." Abortion is expected to be a significant issue in the parliamentary elections in September. The parliament, dominated by post-communists, passed a law last October easing restrictions on abortions. But the Constitutional Court has ruled against parts of the law and called on the parliament to review the legislation. The Democratic Left Party has said it may propose a referendum on abortion. CZECH GOVERNMENT TO SEEK VOTE OF CONFIDENCE. Czech Prime Minister Vaclav Klaus told journalists in Prague on 4 June that the government will seek a vote of confidence within the next week. The opposition Social Democrats said recently that they will seek a vote of no-confidence in Klaus's cabinet. Earlier the same day, Josef Lux--chairman of the Christian Democratic Union, a ruling coalition partner--was quoted in Lidove Noviny as saying there is growing tension in the Czech Republic over perceived government mismanagement of the economy and that Klaus's resignation would solve the problem. Lux later said he was misquoted, but the divides within the three-party coalition are deepening. President Vaclav Havel said on 4 June he is alarmed by the latest political developments. NEW SLOVAK FOREIGN MINISTER NAMED. President Michal Kovac on 4 June named Zdenka Kramplova as foreign minister, Slovak media reported. Presidential spokesman Vladimir Stefko said Kramplova, the first woman to hold that position, was a senior civil servant in the Foreign Ministry and headed the government office until January. Kramplova will be officially appointed by Kovac on 11 June. She replaces Pavol Hamzik who resigned at the end of last month citing the domestic political situation and the failed referendum on NATO membership and direct presidential elections. Meanwhile, parliamentary chairman Ivan Gasparovic arrived in Washington on 4 June for two days of talks with U.S. congressmen that will focus on NATO enlargement, RFE/RL's Washington correspondent reported. MOLDOVAN PRIME MINISTER IN HUNGARY. Seven bilateral agreements were signed on 3 June during Moldovan Prime Minister Ion Ciubuc's first visit to Budapest, Hungarian media reported. The sides signed an intergovernmental agreement on extradition and cooperation in combating organized crime, terrorism, and drug trafficking. Other agreements cover industry, agriculture, transportation, culture, and science. Ciubuc and his Hungarian counterpart, Gyula Horn, said they want to improve economic cooperation and increase last year's $24.5 million turnover in bilateral trade. Ciubuc pledged to help promote Hungarian goods in other CIS markets. HUNGARIAN SMALLHOLDERS REMEMBER TRIANON. The opposition Independent Smallholders staged a rally in Budapest on 4 June commemorating the anniversary of the 1920 Trianon treaty, in which Hungary lost two-thirds of its territory, Hungarian media reported. Smallholders Deputy Chairman Zsolt Lanyi said it was a mistake of the government to include the inviolability of state borders in recent basic treaties Hungary has concluded with its neighbors. He called upon citizens to vote in the 1998 elections for a government that would be "Hungarian and Christian." At a separate rally in Buda Castle, Hungarian Justice and Life Party leader Istvan Csurka said Hungary does not have problems with its neighboring states but rather with its own "satellite elites, [who are] the traitors of the homeland." SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE ATTACK ON BERISHA PUTS ALBANIAN VOTE IN DOUBT. All political parties have condemned an apparent assassination attempt on President Sali Berisha on 4 June inear Durres. Twenty-five-year-old Ilir Ceta, whom the president's office called "an extremist,." has been identified as the attempted assassin. It is unclear whether Ceta managed to throw a grenade that did not go off or whether a presidential bodyguard grabbed the explosive before Ceta could toss it. The Interior Ministry has launched an investigation, and Prime Minister Bashkim Fino has announced additional security measures for candidates in the upcoming parliamentary elections. Berisha said it was a terrorist act aimed at destabilizing Albania. Meanwhile, some opposition journalists suggested that Berisha's supporters might have staged the whole incident. WARNING ABOUT ALBANIAN ELECTIONS. The Vienna-based International Helsinki Federation for Human Rights issued a press release on 4 June calling for more foreign troops to be sent to Albania. The group says additional soldiers are necessary because of what the statement called the recent "politically motivated bombings in Tirana" (see RFE/RL Newsline, 3 and 4 June 1997). The statement said the authorities are using those explosions as an excuse to justify the state of emergency, which the opposition wants lifted in order to ensure a fair election campaign. The Helsinki group said that, in any event, the prospects for the June vote appear "dim," given what it called "the legal barriers to running in the elections, the lack of a free media, and the fact that half of Albania is controlled by heavily armed gangs, some of which are run by the Democratic Party." The statement did not mention, however, that the armed gangs controlling much of the south oppose the Democrats. ITALY WILL SEND MORE TROOPS TO ALBANIA. Foreign Minister Lamberto Dini said in Palermo on 4 June that his country is planning to increase its military presence in Albania in the two weeks leading up to the elections. Its goal is "to guarantee safety in all areas where voting takes place. After the elections, which we want to be free, fair and honest, the military presence will be ended swiftly," the minister said. Dini had no immediate details of how many more soldiers would be sent or whether other countries taking part in the force would deploy additional troops. Italy has contributed some 2,500 soldiers to Operation Alba, which began deploying in April. DEADLOCK CONTINUES OVER EX-YUGOSLAV ASSETS. Representatives of the five successor states to the former Yugoslavia ended three days of meetings in Brussels on 4 June. They failed once again to agree on the division of Yugoslavia's properties and other assets, an RFE/RL correspondent reported from the Belgian capital. Belgrade wants to keep the bulk of the wealth and argues that the others should get less because they voluntarily left Yugoslavia. The others, for their part, want the assets divided on the basis of the republics' pre-1991 payments to the federal budget, to which Slovenia and Croatia were the principal contributors. ARKAN SLAMS CNN DOCUMENTARY. Zeljko Raznatovic, better known as Arkan, held a press conference in Belgrade on 4 June to criticize CNN's program "Wanted," which was broadcast worldwide this week. Arkan charged that the half-hour broadcast was full of mistakes, and he threatened to sue CNN, Belgrade media report. Arkan said: "I have been charged, tried, and sentenced by CNN. Does CNN have a jail of its own?" The program presented alleged evidence of Arkan's involvement in war crimes in Croatia and Bosnia and described his close links to Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic. It asked rhetorically why the Hague-based war crimes tribunal has not indicted him, even though Croatia and Bosnia have both called for his arrest and trial. Interpol has issued an arrest warrant against Arkan for various criminal activities predating the Yugoslav conflict. On 5 June, CNN said it stands by its story and noted that Arkan has refused to be interviewed by the network. KOSOVO UPDATE. In Pristina, the trial continues of 15 ethnic Albanians on terrorism charges. Some of the defendants admitted on 4 June to possessing arms illegally. Also in Pristina, Parliamentary Party leader Adem Demaci warned Kosovars against holding too many political meetings in the runup to the shadow-state's December elections, an RFE/RL correspondent reported. Demaci said that too much talking could undermine the unity of the ethnic Albanians. He pledged to set up a National Council of all Kosovars should his party win the elections. Meanwhile in Belgrade, 12 Serbian families from eastern Kosovo staged a protest against what they said was abusive treatment by Serbian officials in Kosovo. The families came originally from Slovenia and elsewhere in the former Yugoslavia and resettled in Kosovo when the country split up, the BETA news agency reported. CROATIAN OPPOSITION WARNS OF VOTE FRAUD. Opposition parties on 4 June announced the formation of a committee to monitor the presidential elections later this month, an RFE/RL correspondent reported from Zagreb. The committee held its first session immediately and warned that better controls are needed to make sure there is no tampering with ballot papers. The number of papers already printed for this year's election exceeds by some 1.5 million the total printed in 1995, according to the committee. Meanwhile, Social Democratic candidate Zdravko Tomac said in Zagreb that a big turnout is needed on 15 June to deny President Franjo Tudjman an outright victory and to force him into a runoff. In Rijeka, the Liberals' Vlado Gotovac charged the governing Croatian Democratic Community with turning political life into an empty ritual. DIVISIONS WITHIN ROMANIA'S MAIN OPPOSITION PARTY. Ion Iliescu, former president and chairman of the Party of Social Democracy in Romania, on 3 June sharply criticized deputy Iosif Boda, who had earlier demanded the resignation of PDSR deputy chairman Adrian Nastase, RFE/RL Bucharest's bureau reported. Boda ran the 1996 election campaign of Iliescu, who said he intended to apologize to the PDSR for having imposed Boda on its lists for last year's elections. Boda promptly received a warning from the party. Iliescu acknowledged that the party is divided into several groups that are "fighting one another for the leadership." Deputy Chairman Teodor Melescanu, who was proposed as a possible replacement for Iliescu last month (see RFE/RL Newsline, 9 May 1997), defended Boda, saying that "everybody is entitled to a personal opinion." ROMANIAN GOVERNMENT APPROVES FURTHER REFORM LEGISLATION. The government on 4 June approved an ordinance for the privatization of all state-owned companies within three months and of firms owned by local governments within half a year. The mechanism of ordinances enables the government to implement legislation without the parliament's prior approval, though the legislature eventually has to approve it. The government also approved an ordinance on the Law of Foreign Investment providing for considerable advantages for investors from abroad, including low taxes on capital-gains repatriation. Also on 4 June, Poul Thompsen, the IMF chief negotiator for Romania, began a three-day visit to Romania, which was described as "routine." He met with Premier Victor Ciorbea and the ministers in charge of the economic sector. CHISINAU, TIRASPOL EXPERTS RENEW NEGOTIATIONS. Experts representing the two sides involved in the Transdniestrian conflict resumed negotiations in Chisinau on 4 June, Infotag reported. The meeting was the first held since the signing in Moscow on 8 May of the memorandum on ways to settle the Moldovan conflict. The two sides discussed setting the agenda for future talks. Work will now begin on the document stipulating the breakaway region's special status. Russian, Ukrainian, and OSCE mediators who are members of the Joint Control Commission also attended the meeting. BULGARIAN PRIVATIZATION CHIEF WANTS SANCTIONS IMPOSED ON OBSTRUCTERS. Asen Diulgerov, the new head of the Privatization Agency, says he wants to see heavy fines imposed on regional governors and managers of state-owned companies who interfere with the privatization process. Diulgerov told reporters in Sofia on 4 June that the agency has proposed fines of up to 5 million leva ($5,300) and that the proposal will soon be considered by the parliament. International financial institutions have accused local administrators and state managers with ties to the Bulgarian Socialist Party of obstructing privatization. An RFE/RL Sofia correspondent said the Socialists still control local administration in many towns because they did well in the local elections held in 1995. Also on 4 June, the parliament approved the pegging of the lev to the German mark. xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx Copyright (c) 1997 RFE/RL, Inc. 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