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Vol. 1, No. 49, Part II, 10 June 1997
Vol. 1, No. 49, Part II, 10 June 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 * COUNCIL OF EUROPE'S PARLIAMENTARY ASSEMBLY CRITICIZES BELARUS * ALBANIAN SOCIALIST LEADER PLEDGES TO REPAY PYRAMID MONEY * ITALIAN COMMUNISTS WANT INVESTIGATION OF ITALY'S ROLE IN ALBANIA xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx EAST-CENTRAL EUROPE COUNCIL OF EUROPE'S PARLIAMENTARY ASSEMBLY CRITICIZES BELARUS. Leni Fischer, chairwoman of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, told journalists in St. Petersburg on 9 June that Belarus must abide by the council's rules if it wants to join that body. Fischer made her comments after the CE Parliamentary Assembly held its first joint session with the Council of the Interparliamentary Assembly of the Commonwealth of Independent States. Meanwhile, Belapan reported on 9 June that the CE Parliamentary Assembly has invited members of the Belarusian parliament that was dissolved last year to attend its opening session in Strasbourg on 23 June. The parliament was disbanded by President Alyaksandr Lukashenka following the controversial November 1996 referendum, which increased his executive powers and extended his term in office. The CE responded by suspending Belarus' guest status and criticizing the changes to the country's constitution. UKRAINE, IRAN SIGN ECONOMIC AGREEMENT. Iranian Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Velayati and his Ukrainian counterpart, Hennady Udovenko, signed an economic cooperation treaty in Kyiv on 9 June and pledged to strengthen bilateral ties. Velayati, who is on a three-day visit to Ukraine, told journalists that a top priority for both countries is the development of relations "in the sphere of energy, oil, and gas." Iran wants to help Ukraine complete both an oil terminal near its Black Sea port of Odessa and a pipeline linking the terminal with an existing line that transports oil to Europe. Velayati also visited the Antonov airplane factory, which recently unveiled a new turboprop passenger plane to be produced in Iran under Ukrainian license. Udovenko said Kyiv attaches "great importance" to its relations with Teheran. He predicted that trade between the two countries, which currently totals $100 million a year, will rapidly increase. UKRAINE TO BUILD TWO NEW NUCLEAR REACTORS. Nuclear Safety Minister Yuri Kostenko says Kyiv will build two new nuclear reactors regardless of whether they are financed by a loan from the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development. ITAR-TASS on 9 June quoted Kostenko as saying the reactors will be built at the Khmelnitsky and Rivne nuclear power plants, in western Ukraine, even if the EBRD decides against granting Ukraine a loan to help cover the $1.2 billion project. The new reactors will replace power lost by closing the damaged Chornobyl nuclear power plant by the year 2000. Kostenko said talks with the EBRD last week were "constructive." The bank is expected to announce a decision on the loan later this month. UKRAINIAN, MOLDOVAN PRIME MINISTERS FAIL TO REACH AGREEMENT ON TRANSITING GOODS. Pavel Lazarenko and Ion Ciubuc, meeting in Chernovitsy on 6 June, failed to resolve the problem of Moldovan exports transiting Ukraine. Infotag reported on 9 June that the two premiers will discuss the problem again during Lazarenko's scheduled visit to Chisinau on 22 June. In April, Ukraine imposed a tax deposit on Moldovan goods transiting its territory in order to prevent the illegal sale of the goods in Ukraine (see RFE/RL Newsline, 9 June 1997). BALTIC, NORDIC DEFENSE HEADS MEET IN ESTONIA. Defense Ministers Andrus Oovel (Estonia) and Ceslovas Stankevicius (Lithuania) and Defense Ministry State Secretary Edgars Rinkevics (Latvia) have expressed the desire that NATO take "clear and concrete decisions" on all countries seeking membership and issue guarantees that those states not included in the first wave of expansion will have opportunities to join later, BNS and ETA reported. They were meeting with the defense ministers of Denmark, Norway, Sweden, and Finland on the Estonian island of Saaremaa on 9 June. Denmark's Hans Haekkerup said his country will pressure NATO for admittance of the Baltics as new members. Oovel commented that the Baltic States are hoping Norway will assume a position alongside Denmark. The meeting is to conclude with the signing of a joint communique on 10 June. Latvian Defense Minister Talavs Jundzis decided not to attend the gathering because he was only recently appointed to that post. LATVIA TO REPAIR WWII MONUMENT. Riga Mayor Andris Berzins told journalists on 9 June that the local authorities will repair the damage caused to the controversial World War II victory monument in a blast three days earlier (see RFE/RL Newsline, 6 and 9 June 1997), BNS and Reuters reported. One person was killed in the blast, and much of the base of the monument was shattered. Berzins said that a commission of experts will be set up to assess the damage but added that the city may have to appeal to the state for funds. He also ruled out demolishing the monument, which is loathed by many Latvians as a symbol of the Soviet occupation of their country. Russia had strongly criticized the bombing and said that Moscow would judge Latvia's interest in developing bilateral relations by its response to the incident. LITHUANIAN PARLIAMENTARY CHAIRMAN SHARPLY CRITICIZES RYBKIN STATEMENT. ITAR-TASS reports that Vytautas Landsbergis has strongly condemned Russian Security Council Secretary Ivan Rybkin's recent statement that Russia plans to increase its "defense capability" in the Baltic region (see RFE/RL Newsline, 9 June 1997). Rybkin made the comment during a visit to a naval base in Kaliningrad on 6 June. Landsbergis told journalists in Vilnius three days later that any intention to build up the military in the oblast would contradict the "spirit and the content" of the recently signed Founding Act between Russia and NATO. He also noted that Kaliningrad already has a large "offensive army of paratroopers, missiles, navy, and nuclear weapons." LITHUANIA RECEIVES INVESTMENT GRADE RATING. The Finance Ministry announced on 9 June that Lithuania has received its first investment grade rating from an international agency, BNS and dpa reported. Previously, the country had received only speculative ratings. The U.S.-based Standard and Poor's put Lithuania's long-term debts at BBB- and long-term debts in local currency at BBB+. Finance Minister Algirdas Semeta told journalists in Vilnius that Standard and Poor's rating comes ahead of a new emission of Lithuanian treasury bills in mid-July, to be handled by the U.S. bank J. P. Morgan. He added that the new rating is expected to substantially reduce Lithuania's borrowing costs. POPE PRAISES DOCTORS WHO REFUSE TO PERFORM ABORTIONS. Pope John Paul II on 9 June praised Polish doctors who refuse to perform abortions, Reuters reported. The Pope said at a ceremony at a Cracow hospital that he rejoiced that most medical staff cared for life and avoided actions leading to its destruction. "With my whole heart I praise the doctors, nurses, and all Polish health care workers who place the Divine law 'Thou shalt not kill' above what human law allows," the Pope said. Poland's parliament approved a law last October that allows women to have abortions until the 12th week of pregnancy if they cannot afford to have a child or have other personal difficulties. The Constitutional Court, however, has ruled that parts of the law are unconstitutional. POLISH PREMIER IN SPAIN. Spanish Parliamentary President Federico Trillo told journalists after meeting with Polish Prime Minister Wlodzimierz Cimoszewicz in Madrid on 9 June that his country supports Poland's drive to join the EU and NATO. Both leaders agreed that the process will be gradual. The previous day, Prime Minister Jose Maria Aznar said after his meeting with Cimoszewicz that he considers Poland a "serious" candidate to be invited to join NATO at the Madrid summit in July. Cimoszewicz said Poland's NATO membership will require the country to spend $150-200 million annually during the next 10 years to revamp its armed forces. CZECH CABINET MEETS AHEAD OF CONFIDENCE VOTE. The Czech government met in an extraordinary session on 9 June to discuss budget cuts and other austerity measures, Czech media reported. The need to make such cuts was agreed by the three coalition parties at the end of May as part of a stabilization program aimed at bolstering the Czech crown and curing the ailing economy. The coalition Christian Democrats (KDU-CSL) had demanded that the government approve the cuts before the vote of confidence scheduled for 10 June. At the government meeting, the ministers agreed to slash the budget by a total of 20 billion crowns ($625 million). CTK quotes Finance Minister Ivan Pilip as saying the budget will be cut proportionately in all sectors. However, he added the government is making exceptions in some areas, including defense in light of the Czech Republic's anticipated entry into NATO. KDU-CSL Chairman Josef Lux said he was satisfied with the results of the meeting. SLOVAK PRESIDENT COMMENTS ON PREMIER'S "VULGAR" STATEMENTS. Michal Kovac told Radio Twist on 9 June that Prime Minister Vladimir Meciar's recent offensive statements about Kovac and opposition leaders testify to a lack of manners and political standards. At a 5 June rally of his Movement for a Democratic Slovakia, Meciar called Kovac a "horse on his last legs who may be hanging around for another seven-and-a-half months at the presidential palace." Kovac said he would not comment on Meciar's statements in detail because they are not "worthy" to be dealt with by the president. He added that Slovakia does not need vulgar statements about elected state officials but rather "decency and respect." CZECH FOREIGN MINISTER IN HUNGARY. Josef Zieleniec and his Hungarian counterpart, Laszlo Kovacs, agreed on 9 June in Budapest to coordinate policies if they are invited to join NATO next month, Hungarian media reported. President Arpad Goencz told Zieleniec that Hungarians and Czechs "are partners, not rivals" in their bid for EU and NATO membership. The current successful regional cooperation between Hungary, the Czech Republic, and Poland is helping build stability in Central Europe, he added. During his one-day visit, Zieleniec was also received by Prime Minister Gyula Horn, Defense Minister Gyoergy Keleti, and Parliamentary Speaker Zoltan Gal. SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE ALBANIAN SOCIALIST LEADER PLEDGES TO REPAY PYRAMID MONEY. Some 12,000 people welcomed Fatos Nano in Vlora on 9 June, Dita Informacion reports. He told a rally he will try to find and return the money people lost in fraudulent pyramid schemes, but he did not say how he will do this. Nano is one of the Socialist Party's candidates in the southern town. Meanwhile, local rebel leader Zani Caushi has announced he wants to run as a candidate for the Socialists. The deadline for registering candidates expired on 9 June, however. President Sali Berisha's Democratic Party has charged that there are close links between the southern rebels and the Socialists. UPDATE ON ATTEMPTED ASSASSINATION OF ALBANIAN PRESIDENT. The Durres Prosecutor-General's Office says the man who tried to kill Berisha on 4 June does not have ties to the extreme left but does have psychological problems, Dita Informacion reported on 10 June. Democratic Party legislator Azem Hajdari accused the Socialists of being behind the assassination attempt but could not prove it. The office also said that Ceta had been found guilty of stuffing 100 ballot papers for the Democratic Party into a ballot box during last year's parliamentary elections. Relatives described the man as "ignorant [and]...without political motives." Gazeta Shqiptare adds that the Deputy Prosecutor-General Gani Dizdari said there is no proof that Ceta was paid for the assassination attempt, as secret service chief Arben Karkini has charged. ITALIAN COMMUNISTS WANT INVESTIGATION OF ITALY'S ROLE IN ALBANIA. The reformed Italian communist party has drafted a bill on setting up a parliamentary commission to investigate the involvement of Italian banks and companies in Albanian pyramid schemes and the arms trade. Former Ambassador to Albania Paolo Foresti, who was fired recently for obstructing the work of the OSCE there, would also come under investigation. Rome's new man in Tirana will be Marcello Spatafori, whose last posting was in Canberra, Indipendent reported on 10 June. REGIONAL DISPUTES SURFACE AT BALKAN CONFERENCE. An Albanian representative told a gathering of Balkan diplomats in the Greek port of Salonica on 9 June that the current instability in his country does not threaten the region. He added, however, that unresolved minority questions like Kosovo could ultimately destabilize the Balkans. The long-standing dispute between Skopje and Sofia over whether Macedonian is a separate language also came up. Bulgarian Foreign Minister Nadezhda Mihailova told reporters after meeting with Macedonian Foreign Minister Blagoj Handziski that they spoke in "our language," which underscores the Bulgarian view that Macedonian is simply a dialect of Bulgarian. Yugoslav Foreign Minister Milan Milutinovic said the conference made progress in economic, political, and security affairs, but he added that talk about setting up a permanent Balkan security organization is "premature." Greek media spoke of a "Greek-Russian initiative for the region" that would include setting up a Balkan telecommunications center, BETA reported. CROATIAN OPPOSITION CANDIDATE CRITICIZES POLICE. Opposition parties in Zagreb on 9 June blasted the authorities for the way they handled President Franjo Tudjman's trip to Vukovar and the attack on opposition candidate Vlado Gotovac (see RFE/RL Newsline, 9 June 1997). Opposition spokesmen said Tudjman used tax-payers' money "for his self-promotion...in a vain parade to satisfy an old dictator." The opposition also charged that the police were not tough enough in dealing with army Capt. Tomislav Brzovic, who struck Gotovac on the head last week. Gotovac said that Brzovic's attack was aimed at removing the opposition candidate from the race, an RFE/RL correspondent reported from Zagreb. Pro-government media have portrayed Brzovic as angry and drunk at the time of the attack, while observers charge he is a well-known agent of the ruling party. BELGRADE, TEHRAN RESUME ECONOMIC TIES. Yugoslav Foreign Trade Minister Borislav Vukovic held talks with Iranian Economic Minister Morteza Mohammad-Khan in Tehran on 9 June. No details are available. Iranian Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Velayati told Vukovic the previous day that Iran's "sentiments have been deeply wounded by the massacre of the Bosnian people." The Yugoslav guest, for his part, said Belgrade "pays special attention to Muslim countries, notably Iran." Vukovic's visit is the first high-level contact between the two countries since the Bosnian war began in 1992. Iran was one of the staunchest supporters of the Bosnian Muslims against the Belgrade-backed Serbs. ROUNDUP FROM FORMER YUGOSLAVIA. Michael Steiner, the international community's deputy high representative in Bosnia, said in Sarajevo on 9 June that the Bosnian Serbs will suffer financial consequences if they continue to hold up economic legislation affecting both halves of Bosnia. In Ankara, Bosnian President Alija Izetbegovic and his Turkish counterpart, Suleyman Demirel, agreed that failure to enforce the Dayton agreement will affect security throughout the Balkans. In Sarajevo, representatives of the Orthodox, Roman Catholic, Islamic, and Jewish communities also called for respecting the peace treaty, an RFE/RL correspondent reported from the Bosnian capital. In Zagreb, the Interior Ministry slammed the UN peacekeepers in eastern Slavonia for failing to prevent the recent stoning of President Franjo Tudjman's train in Serb-held territory (see RFE/RL Newsline, 9 June 1997). And in Podgorica, parliamentary speaker Svetozar Marovic said that Serbia's proposed changes to the federal constitution are aimed at marginalizing Montenegro. SECOND NO-CONFIDENCE MOTION DEFEATED IN ROMANIAN PARLIAMENT. By a vote of 268 to 152, the governing coalition on 9 June easily defeated a second motion of no confidence moved by two opposition parties after Prime Minister Victor Ciorbea had submitted his reform program to the parliament (see RFE/RL Newsline, 4 June 1997). Ciorbea mockingly noted that the two formations that proposed the motion--the Party of Social Democracy in Romania and the Party of Romanian National Unity--have "secured a place in history" for submitting two no-confidence motions within three days, RFE/RL Bucharest bureau reported. ROMANIAN PRESIDENT CLARIFIES STATEMENTS ON NATO MEMBERSHIP. In a statement released on 9 June, Emil Constantinescu's office said the president has "never expressed any doubt about Romania's ability to meet the obligations deriving from NATO integration. "The statement clarified that, in the wake of U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright's comments at the recent meeting of NATO foreign minster in Portugal, Constantinescu had expressed only "his understanding for the general view point that all NATO members need to have stable economies before being integrated," Radio Bucharest reported. The statement emphasized that the president has always expressed the opinion that Romania "meets all necessary criteria for immediate admission into NATO" and is a "pillar of stability and provider of security in the region." Meanwhile, Senate Chairman Petre Roman on 9 June began a five day visit to the U.S. to promote Romania's entry into NATO. ROMANIAN AIRLINE TO BE RESTRUCTURED. Transportation Minister Traian Basescu announced on 9 June that the TAROM national airline is to undergo rapid restructuring. The company will sale outdated Soviet-made aircraft and will dismiss or assign to other jobs personnel involved in their maintenance. TAROM will also seek to reach cooperation accords with foreign airlines. FORMER MOLDOVAN PRESIDENT ON POLITICAL SITUATION. Mircea Snegur has said he hopes an alliance of the right-wing forces, to be called the Democratic Convention of Moldova, will be set up on 23 June, the day marking the seventh anniversary of the country's independence. Snegur, who is now chairman of the Party of Revival and Accord, wrote in an "Appeal to the Nation" recently published in Luceafarul that, six months after Petru Lucinschi took over as president, "only the naive" still believe that Lucinschi will keep his electoral promises. He noted that the president has not submitted to the parliament one single legislative initiative promoting reform. Snegur also said that Lucinschi is continuing the tactics he employed during Snegur's own presidency, when the incumbent president was chairman of the parliament, Infotag reported on 9 June. xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx Copyright (c) 1997 RFE/RL, Inc. 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