|History is made out of the failures and heroism of each insignificant moment. - Franz Kafka|
Vol. 1, No. 55, Part II, 18 June1997
Vol. 1, No. 55, Part II, 18 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 * SLOVAKIA WARNED OVER EU MEMBERSHIP PROSPECTS * ATTACK ON ALBANIAN POLICE AFTER SOCIALIST RALLY * MACEDONIAN PRESIDENT WANTS NATO TO STAY ON End Note IS CRIMEAN DEMOCRACY CONTAGIOUS? xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx EAST-CENTRAL EUROPE MINERS STAGE PROTEST IN KYIV. Some 1,000 coal miners marched on the presidential administration building in Kyiv on 17 June, demanding months of back wages from the government, RFE/RL's bureau in the Ukrainian capital reported. Viktor Derzhak, Chairman of the central committee at the nationwide Union of Coal Industry workers said the miners will continue their protest until their demands are met. He said the union wants the government to work out a plan to pay back wages and increase pensions for miners. UKRAINIAN ENERGY UPDATE. A Ukrainian energy official told journalists on 17 June that Kyiv aims to increase its electricity exports from 4.5 billion kilowatt hours to 16 billion kilowatt hours by 2000. Deputy Energy and Electricity Minister Yuri Ulitich said earnings from such exports have helped to pay energy debts to Russia and the reconstruction of the Burshtynska power plant. Also on 17 June, Turkey and Ukraine announced they plan to build a pipeline to carry Middle Eastern oil from the Mediterranean Sea to the Black Sea. Turkish Energy Minister Recai Kutan and his visiting Ukrainian counterpart, Andrei Minchenko, are to sign an agreement on the pipeline on 18 June. The pipeline, to be located between Turkey's Mediterranean port of Ceyhan and the Black Sea port of Samsun, will have a capacity of 25 million tons of crude. COUNCIL OF EUROPE DELEGATION IN MINSK. A team of experts from the Council of Europe arrived in Minsk on 17 June for talks with top government officials and opposition leaders. The team is expected to try to set up round-table talks involving President Alyaksandr Lukashenka and the opposition. The council has invited both opponents and supporters of President Alyaksandr Lukashenka to a hearing this month in Strasbourg. In January, the council's Parliamentary Assembly suspended indefinitely Belarus' Special Guest Status at the body. Meanwhile, U.S. Ambassador to Belarus Kenneth Yalowitz has sent a letter to Belarusian Foreign Minister Ivan Antanovich saying the U.S. government is worried about what it calls Minsk's misinterpretation of Washington's decision to suspend $40 million in aid as part of a joint program to reduce the threat of nuclear conflict. Yalowitz wants the Belarusian government to publicly renounce a statement by Lukashenka that the U.S. has backtracked on its commitment under a treaty on the withdrawal of nuclear weapons from Belarus by refusing to finance the program. ESTONIA BARS ENTRY TO CHECHEN DELEGATION. The government on 17 June decided not to allow a Chechen parliamentary delegation to visit Estonia, ETA and BNS reported. Foreign Minister Toomas Hendrik Ilves said the six delegation members were traveling on old Soviet passports and Chechen identity documents, which are not recognized by Estonia. The Chechens had embarked on a tour of the Baltic States in a bid to drum up support for the breakaway republic's independence. While Lithuanian parliamentary chairman Vytautas Landsbergis met with the delegation (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 17 June 1997), his Latvian counterpart, Alfreds Cepanis, refused to do so, saying that Chechnya is still a part of the Russian Federation and that Latvia does not want to worsen its rel ations with Russia. A Latvian Interior Ministry spokesman said later that the Chechen delegates were not issued with entry visas and that the ministry wants to clarify how they were able to enter the country. LATVIAN CULTURE MINISTER RESIGNS. Rihards Piks resigned from his post as culture minister on 17 June, following an announcement by the Prosecutor's Office that he was violating the anti-corruption law, BNS reported. Piks is a board member of one company and the founder and president of another. He also owns a 25% stake in a media firm. None of those companies has yet begun operating. The Prosecutor's Office noted that the minister failed to mention the three companies when he submitted his personal income declaration. Meanwhile, the office said that Economics Minister Guntars Krasts has not broken the anti-corruption law. Krasts quit all posts he held outside the government before 1 August 1996, the deadline set by the law. Prime Minister Andris Skele had ordered that Prosecutor's Office examine whether members of government are abiding by the law (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 3 June 1997). LITHUANIAN PRESIDENT TO VETO RESTITUTION LAW. Algirdas Brazauskas announced on 17 June that he will veto the controversial property restitution law, BNS and dpa reported. The parliament passed the law earlier this month (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 6 June 1997). Brazuaskas told a news conference that the law contradicted the constitution, under which "all citizens are proclaimed equal." He said he was most displeased with the provision allowing citizens to reclaim residential properties now occupied by tenants. It is estimated that under the legislation, some 10,500 families would be displaced. The law requires the state to provide alternative accommodation for those families. Brazauskas said he will send the law back to the parliament with suggested amendments. POLISH PARLIAMENT RULES OUT REFERENDUM ON ABORTION. The Sejm on 17 June rejected a proposal by the ruling former communist Democratic Left Alliance calling for a national referendum on abortion, Polish media reported. The alliance proposed holding the referendum in September to coincide with parliamentary elections. The vote was 165 in favor to 170 against with 26 abstentions. In May, the Constitutional Court overturned provisions of a law, passed by the parliament, liberalizing abortion laws. Pope John Paul II condemned the legalization of abortion during his recent visit to Poland. POLAND SAYS EU ACCESSION TALKS MAY NOT START FOR A YEAR. Dariusz Rosati told a group of business executives in Warsaw on 17 June that Poland is receiving signals from the EU that accession talks may not start until April or May 1998, Reuters reported. He said Warsaw still hoped for talks in January, as originally scheduled. But he noted that the signals from Brussels suggest those discussions will not take place until later in the year. Rosati said Warsaw was disappointed that the EU seemed unable to stick to its original schedule, but he expressed confidence that Poland would join the EU by 2001 or 2002. CZECH PRIME MINISTER IN BRITAIN. Vaclav Klaus was on a short visit to Britain on 17 June, Czech Television reported. Klaus told journalists that scheduling problems had prevented him from meeting with British Prime Minister Tony Blair, who was attending the EU summit in Amsterdam. Nonetheless, he met with British Foreign Minister Robin Cook and Defense Minister George Robertson. He also had meetings with European Bank for Reconstruction and Development officials and members of the British business community. SLOVAK PARLIAMENT TO MEET IN SPECIAL SESSION. Slovakia's opposition parties have succeeded in scheduling a special session of the parliament for 19 June, RFE/RL's Bratislava correspondent reported. Efforts to convene a special session recently failed because members of parties of the governing coalition of Prime Minister Vladimir Meciar staged a boycott. The purpose of the special session is to attempt to recall Interior Minister Gustav Krajci, who is blamed by the opposition for the failure of the May referendum on NATO membership and direct presidential elections. Krajci defied a Constitutional Court ruling and the official Referendum Committee by refusing to distribute ballots that included a question on electing the president by popular vote. SLOVAKIA WARNED OVER EU MEMBERSHIP PROSPECTS. European Parliament deputies visiting Bratislava for a three-day meeting of the EU-Slovakia inter-parliamentary committee have criticized Prime Minister Vladimir Meciar and his government for failing to live up to promises of democratic reform, RFE/RL's Bratislava bureau reported. They warned that Slovakia stood little chance of joining the EU. Roy James Perry, deputy chairman of the committee, said he saw no chance of Slovakia's integration into the EU in the near future. Perry said Meciar's coalition has ignored EU demands for legislative changes considered essential for Slovakia's economic and political advancement. Herbert Boesch, a co-chairman of the committee, also expressed disappointment with what he called Slovakia's unfulfilled promises. Slovak parliamentary deputy chairman Augustin Marian Huska conceded that Slovakia has been slow to implement reform. But he promised to push for a re-opening of the dialogue with the opposition and President Michal Kovac. HUNGARIAN COURT BANS "MEIN KAMPF." The Budapest municipal court on 17 June prohibited the publication, sale, delivery, free distribution, or presentation to the general public of Adolf Hitler's "Mein Kampf," Hungarian media reported. "The work is harmful to public interest and to human dignity, and its distribution has been banned under Hungary's press law," MTI quoted unnamed officials as saying. The Prosecutor General's Office suspended the publication of the book in November 1996 and proposed that the municipal court ban it on the basis of media and civil code laws. Aron Monus, who translated the book and represents the publisher, said he will appeal to a higher court. Hitler's book was last published in Hungarian translation in 1942 and was banned in Hungary after World War II. SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE ATTACK ON ALBANIAN POLICE AFTER SOCIALIST RALLY. Unidentified assailants shot at a police cordon and several private cars leaving Berat after Socialist Party leader Fatos Nano held a rally there on 17 June, "Koha Jone" reported. The attackers reportedly fired Kalashnikovs and anti-tank weapons, killing one civilian and one policeman and injuring seven policemen. The circumstances of the incident remain unclear. "Koha Jone" pointed out that the police forces belonged to a contingent that had guarded Nano during the demonstration. But "Rilindja Demokratike" charged "Nano's gangs" with having attacked the police. Another pro-government daily, "Albania," runs the headline: "Nano causes blood-bath in Berat." Meanwhile, six people were killed in an armed confrontation between two rival families in a land dispute near Skrapar. VRANITZKY INSISTS ALBANIAN ELECTIONS GO AHEAD ON TIME. OSCE mediator Franz Vranitzky on 17 June rejected a proposal by the U.S. National Democratic Institute to postpone elections in some areas, "Gazeta Shqiptare" reported. Austrian Radio added that Vranitzky told President Bill Clinton in Washington that the elections must go ahead on schedule, and Clinton agreed with him. Meanwhile, not all candidate lists from all electoral districts have reached the Central Election Commission in Tirana. And in some communes and municipalities, voters lists have not yet been publicly posted, "Koha Jone" reported on 18 June. The lists were to have been displayed by 12 June to give voters the opportunity to register if their names did not appear on the lists. DESERTIONS FROM ALBANIAN PRESIDENTIAL GUARD. Some 130 soldiers of the presidential guard have deserted in recent days, "Dita Informacion" reported on 18 June. The desertions apparently came as a reaction to the shoot-out at a Democratic Party rally in Elbasan on 12 June, in which eight people were wounded (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 13 June 1997). Most of deserters reportedly come from Mirdita in northern Albania. The presidential guard was recently involved in various violent incidents, including an attack by guardsmen on the military hospital in Tirana and a shoot-out with gunmen in Cerrik in which five guard members died and 12 were wounded. Guardsmen on 16 June beat up a journalist for "Koha Jone," who was working on a story about activities at police roadblocks after curfew. The journalist reportedly had an accreditation from Tirana police chief Pashk Tusha to cover police work. The police did not intervene on behalf of the journalist out of fear of the elite guardsmen, the independent daily added. IMMINENT MILITARY COUP IN MONTENEGRO? Opposition leader Novak Kilibarda charged in Podgorica on 17 June that Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic and his Montenegrin backer President Momir Bulatovic may launch a putsch rather than allow Bulatovic's enemies come to power. Kilibarda added that a 12 June meeting of federal Yugoslavia's Military Council discussed the possible coup, an RFE/RL correspondent reported from the Montenegrin capital. The opposition leader claimed that the Second and Third Armies are on alert for possible action in the mountainous republic. Kilibarda compared Milosevic's current attempts to pressure Montenegro into submission with his ham-fisted efforts to bully Slovenia in 1991. Milosevic is trying to force Montenegro to agree to constitutional changes that will greatly diminish that republic's power within the Yugoslav federation. MONTENEGRIN OPPOSITION WANTS LEADERS TO TELL ALL. The opposition "Popular Concord" coalition called in parliament on 17 June for Bulatovic and Prime Minister Milo Djukanovic to appear before a televised session of the parliament, an RFE/RL correspondent reported from Podgorica. The coalition wants the two to explain the development of their feud, which has dominated political life in recent weeks and threatens to split the governing Democratic Socialist Party (DPS). Djukanovic is slated to address the parliament on 18 June. Also in Podgorica, Deputy Prime Minister Slavko Drljevic resigned to protest what he called slander by Bulatovic and the president's allies. Meanwhile in Kolasin, the governing body of the DPS rejected Bulatovic's call for a special party congress. MACEDONIAN PRESIDENT WANTS NATO TO STAY ON. President Kiro Gligorov told his U.S. counterpart Bill Clinton in Washington on 17 June that NATO peacekeepers should stay on in the Balkans once their mandate in Bosnia expires in June 1998. Gligorov said the troops have a stabilizing effect on the region and that he would like some of them to remain in his country. There is already a small force of peacekeepers in Macedonia, including U.S. soldiers. Macedonia has been at the center of many past Balkan conflicts but was not involved in the recent wars in the former Yugoslavia. Macedonia's leaders and their allies abroad are now concerned about the impact of the current troubles in Albania on Macedonia and on the Balkans as a whole. UPDATE FROM FORMER YUGOSLAVIA. In Nis, veterans and invalids from Serbia's recent wars in Slovenia, Croatia, and Bosnia launched a hunger strike on 18 June in support of a similar protest in Belgrade. The ex-soldiers want the Yugoslav and Serbian governments to extend full veterans' benefits to them and to the families of those killed in the fighting. In Belgrade, some 10,000 students protested government plans to hike tuition costs. Stevan Vrbaski replaced Mihajlo Svilar as mayor of Novi Sad following Svilar's decision to change parties. In Sarajevo, representatives of the World Bank and the Bosnian government reached an agreement on 17 June on repaying Bosnia's share of the former Yugoslav debt. In Zagreb, representatives of 140,000 Croatian refugees from Serbia demanded that the Croatian government obtain for them from Belgrade any rights or benefits that Zagreb grants to its ethnic Serbs. ROMANIAN PRESIDENT INVITED TO WASHINGTON. President Bill Clinton has invited his Romanian counterpart to Washington for an official visit, Radio Bucharest reported on 17 June. The date of the visit is yet to be established. In a letter to Emil Constantinescu, Clinton said the decision to limit the expansion of NATO in the first wave to three states was made "after careful deliberation." He says he "highly appreciates...the enormous progress" Romania made under Constantinescu and that the decision should not be interpreted as a rejection of Romanian aspirations. Clinton also said he hopes to see Romania "integrated into the community of Western states, including NATO," in the near future. Constantinescu also received a letter from French President Jacques Chirac, who says France continues to back Romania's NATO candidacy. Meanwhile, Premier Victor Ciorbea has departed for Washington, where he will discuss NATO enlargement with Vice President Al Gore and other officials. JIU VALLEY MINERS UPDATE. The striking miners in the Jiu valley have rejected a protocol signed after all-night negotiations between their representatives, the government, and the state mining company, Radio Bucharest reported on 18 June. The protocol provides for an immediate 15% increase in wages and for negotiations on a possible additional increase in August. The miners, however, are refusing to go back to the pits. Rail traffic to the valley was restored on 17 June after interruptions earlier that day. Minister of Transportation Traian Basescu said the authorities suspended or re-routed trains after receiving information that the miners were planning to descend on Bucharest, RFE/RL's Bucharest bureau reported. Rail links were restored only after the Ministry of Interior and the Romanian Intelligence Service established that the miners had renounced their intention to go to the capital. UKRAINIAN PRESIDENT ON MOLDOVAN SETTLEMENT. Leonid Kuchma, in a letter addressed to his Moldovan counterpart, Petru Lucinschi, has restated his country's willingness to participate in the settlement of the Chisinau-Tiraspol conflict. The Ukrainian embassy in Chisinau told Interfax that Kuchma voiced support for setting up groups of experts who will draft the legal framework for stationing Ukrainian peacekeeping forces in the security zone of the breakaway Transdniester region. Kuchma also reiterated his country's willingness to guarantee the implementation of a final settlement. MOLDOVA ASKS FOR "DEVELOPING COUNTRY STATUS" IN WTO. Addressing a meeting of the World Trade Organization in Geneva, Moldovan Deputy Minister of Economy and Reforms Dumitru Braghis requested that Moldova be admitted to the organization as a "developing country." This would allow Chisinau to bring its policies into line with WTO regulations within a time-table framework to be agreed with the organization, Reuters reported on 17 June. Braghis said Chisinau was requesting "some flexibility" in view of the current economic situation. "Despite all efforts made at the macro-economic level, including a program for privatization and agricultural reform, we have not yet achieved macro-economic growth," he said, adding that "most of our companies show a declining record, while others struggle to survive." FRANCE EXTRADITES BULGARIAN WANTED FOR FRAUD. A Bulgarian citizen whose pyramid investment scheme wiped out the savings of thousands of his countrymen was extradited by France on 17 June. BTA said Ivo Nedialkov was taken into custody as soon as he landed at Sofia airport. His East-West International Holding Group collapsed in 1994, costing 9,000 Bulgarians their savings. Investigators said he misappropriated around 360 million leva (some $10 million at the exchange rate of the time) using income from new investors to pay off old investors. In other news, Reuters reported that a powerful bomb, apparently targeting the president of the Multigroup company, Ilia Pavlov, wrecked his car on a mountain road near Sofia. Pavlov was not in the car and his office declined to comment on the incident. Multigroup has been suspected of ties with former communist officials. END NOTE IS CRIMEAN DEMOCRACY CONTAGIOUS? by David Nissman The Crimean Turkic National Movement, which began in the Central Asian resettlement camps in the mid-1950s, now flourishes in Crimea, the ancestral homeland of the Crimean Turks and site of the present Crimean nation. The movement survived under very unusual conditions and is now having an unexpected influence. When the Crimean Turks were deported from Crimea in 1944, they were depr ived of their government, their culture, and their rich heritage. In short, they were denied the right to develop their nation. The establishment of the National Movement, with its tight and democratic structure, permitted the leaders of the movement to be in constant contact with the people. When the Soviet Union broke up, the Crimean Turks did not have to dismantle Soviet institutions and the thought patterns associated with them. As a result, the Crimean parliament has evolved into what is arguably one of the most democratic in the former Soviet Union. By contrast, the former union republics continue to be burdened by the l ast vestiges of the Soviet command economy and have thus faced extraordinary challenges in moving toward a market system. That struggle has sometimes compromised their ability to proceed toward a democratic system as well. Thus, it is not surprising that some politicians in the former Soviet republics have expressed admiration for the Crimean democratic system, even if they have not attempted to apply the Crimean experience at home. But now the Unified Independent Azerbaijan Front (in southern or Iranian Azerbaijan) appears interested in following the Crimean model. Like the Crimeans, the Iranian Azeris have been deprived by state of their national and political rights, their culture, and even an education in their mother tongue. Tehran has reacted with varying degrees of hostility to any effort by the Iranian Azeris to claim those rights. The UIAF recently drew up a platform that bears a striking resemblance t o that of the Crimean Turkic National Movement. It has proclaimed that it "believes in a state of law and freedom and rejects any form of individual or ideological dictatorship or a one-party system." The UIAF also states that it is "opposed to a mixture of religion and politics" and actively encourages a diversity of opinions. Even the Iranian Azerbaijani's newly created national flag and the polit ical hierarchy it represents appear to be a copy of the Crimean Turkic model. The flag's nine stars each stand for a province of the territory on which the Iranian Azeris hope to create their state. Each province will be ruled by a representative parliament, which will send its representatives to the "high parliament" in the capital. In Crimea, the political structure is remarkably similar: each community has its own parliament or mejlis. Each local mejlis sends representatives to the mejlis that comes next in the hierarchy. The central mejlis in the capital has 33 members selected by the mejlises lower in the hierarchical structure. Neither the platform of the Crimean Turkic National Movement nor that of the Unified Independent Azerbaijan Front mentions economic programs. As the Crimean experience shows, a free people is able to generate a free market on its own. The Crimean Turks have chosen to give priority to the development of free, national, democratic institutions. That the Crimean model already appears to have inspired the Iranian Azer is gives some reason to hope that it may inspire others as well. The author is an independent specialist on the region. xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx Copyright (c) 1997 RFE/RL, Inc. 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