|There is always one moment in childhood when the door opens and lets the future in. - Graham Greene|
Vol. 1, No. 57, Part II, 20 June1997
Vol. 1, No. 57, Part II, 20 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 * UKRAINIAN PRIME MINISTER "TEMPORARILY" DISMISSED * GREEK PEACEKEEPERS KILL ALBANIAN * MONTENEGRIN PRESIDENT SAYS COUNTRY IN "SERIOUS CRISIS" End Note ELECTION CAMPAIGN KICKS OFF IN POLAND xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx EAST-CENTRAL EUROPE UKRAINIAN PRIME MINISTER "TEMPORARILY" DISMISSED. The Office of Ukrainian President Leonid Kuchma announced on 19 June that Kuchma has decided to temporarily remove Prime Minister Pavlo Lazarenko and replace him with First Deputy Prime Minister Vasyl Dudinets. Presidential spokesmen told journalists in Kyiv that Lazarenko was being removed from his post for the duration of an unspecified illness. Lazarenko has made no comment. Observers cast doubt on Lazarenko's alleged health problems. Rumors of his dismissal have been circulating in Kyiv for weeks amid allegations of high-level government corruption. Under Ukraine's constitution, Lazarenko's dismissal would mean the resignation of the cabinet. SENIOR IMF OFFICIAL IN KYIV. Kuchma met with IMF Deputy Director Stanley Fischer on 19 June to discuss a new loan to Ukraine, UNIAN reported. A final decision on the loan has been delayed since late 1996 because Ukraine has failed to meet a number of fundamental IMF conditions, including approval of the 1997 State Budget within certain guidelines, reform of the pension system, and liberalization of trade. Media reports suggest that Fischer is to hand over to Kuchma a letter from IMF Executive Director Michel Camdessus expressing concern about Ukraine's continued failure to those conditions. An IMF special mission is to arrive in Ukraine at the end of June. In other news, Defense Minister Olexander Kuzmuk and his visiting Polish counterpart, Stanislaw Dobrzanski, praised improved bilateral military ties. They said at a 19 June press conference in Kyiv that close cooperation between their militaries was important for European security. NEW CRIMEAN CABINET APPROVED. The parliament of Ukraine's autonomous region of Crimea on 19 June approved the cabinet of newly appointed Premier Anatoliy Franchuk, RFE/RL's Kyiv office reported. There are five holdovers from the previous government of Arkadiy Demydenko and a larger number of members of the Russia faction, which was the driving force behind Demydenko's ouster. No members of Demydenko's newly formed Crimea Our Home faction are included in the new cabinet. Franchuk, a close ally of President Kuchma, was Crimean premier in 1994-1995. He has pledged rapid and comprehensive economic liberalization. SOROS TO FIGHT BELARUSIAN AUTHORITIES. The Minsk office of U.S. philanthropist George Soros's Open Society Institute will appeal against a huge fine imposed by the Belarusian authorities, Soros told Ekho Moskvy on 19 June. Tax officials in Belarus imposed the S2.9 million fine in May, accusing Soros's foundation of violating its tax-exempt status by becoming involved in politics. The Belarusian government expelled the foundation's director in March. Soros said he does not intend to close the Minsk office, even though the foundation's bank accounts there have been frozen. He accused the Belarusian authorities of harassment and of trying to squelch democracy. RECORD-LONG PARLIAMENTARY SESSION IN ESTONIA OVER CUSTOMS TARIFFS BILL. Opposition deputies used procedural tactics on 18-19 June to obstruct the second reading of the controversial bill on customs tariffs, ETA and BNS reported. In a session that lasted almost 28 hours--the longest in post-war Estonia--deputies requested 10-minute breaks after discussion of each amendment and repeatedly introduced proposals on other bills scheduled for discussion before the summer recess began on 20 June. A compromise was finally reached whereby discussion of the bill was postponed until the fall and the parliament passed a supplementary budget law crucial to the government's ability to continue to function. The opposition argues that imposing tariffs will force prices to rise and that if they nonetheless are introduced, the parliament, rather than the government, should draw up a tariffs bill. Under an EU association agreement, Estonia will forfeit its right to introduce the tariffs if the necessary legislation is not passed by year's end. LITHUANIAN PARLIAMENTARY CHAIRMAN CONCERNED ABOUT POSSIBLE "FINLANDIZATION" OF BALTICS. Vytautas Landsbergis has expressed concern that in the post-Boris Yeltsin era, Russia might try to "Finlandize" the Baltic States, AFP reported. In a speech at the Washington-based Center for Strategic and International Studies, Landsbergis said Lithuania wants to resist any such tendency. He argued for the Baltic countries to be allowed to join NATO, warning there could be "mutiny after Yeltsin" and citing the "unpredictability of Russia." CZECH PRESIDENT ON POSSIBILITY OF NEW GOVERNMENT. Vaclav Havel told journalists on 19 June, following a meeting with the leaders of both chambers of the parliament, that if the present government falls, he will ask the current government coalition to propose a candidate for the premiership. Havel said that because the current government was directly elected, it would seem morally right to give it a chance to form a new cabinet. He stressed that he did not want to see the government fall. In his words, at the two chambers' meeting he merely discussed the options and paths to be followed if the government fell. SLOVAK INTERIOR MINISTER SURVIVES NO-CONFIDENCE VOTE. Gustav Krajci on 19 June survived a parliamentary no-confidence vote. It was the second opposition bid in two weeks to oust Krajci, whom they accuse of sabotaging the May referendum on NATO membership and direct presidential elections. The referendum was declared invalid owing to low voter turnout after Krajci defied the Constitutional Court and the Referendum Commission by refusing include the question on presidential elections on the ballot. Also on 19 June, Culture Ministry State Secretary Pavol Panis said Slovakia treats all minorities equally, and will continue to support minority schools, newspapers and ethnic TV broadcasts. Speaking at a Bratislava conference on national minorities, Panis said the government "is interested in maintaining the diversity of Slovakia." The meeting was co-sponsored by the government and the Council of Europe. SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE GREEK PEACEKEEPERS KILL ALBANIAN. Greek troops killed an armed Albanian drug dealer in Elbasan on 18 June. It was the first time that foreign troops fatally wounded a local civilian. A total of about 1,600 Albanians have died in violent incidents since the country slid into anarchy early this year. In Gjirokaster, Romanian soldiers rescued 11 foreign election monitors from a restaurant where they were trapped by rival gangs. It was the first serious incident involving OSCE workers. Also on 18 June, armed workers of an oil refinery in Mallakaster barred director Afrim Jupi from entering the company premises. They also blocked fuel-trucks from transporting fuel away, even though the drivers had an order from Jupi. The employees argued that Jupi failed to explain the whereabouts of 5,000 tons of oil that were previously transported away but are now unaccounted for, "Republika" reported. ALBANIAN MULTI-PARTY ROUND-TABLE HAMSTRUNG. Prime Minister Bashkim Fino walked out of a meeting of the multi-party round-table on 19 June in Tirana after a row over some aspects of the upcoming elections. The Republican Party demanded that Fino ensure freedom of movement during the campaign and provide better security at rallies. Some round-table participants accused the Central Election Commission of numerous mistakes and irregularities, "Koha Jone" reports. The CEC was appointed in late May and lacks even the most basic equipment. It has missed various deadlines in the runup to the election, an RFE/RL correspondent reported from Tirana. Its biggest shortcoming is its failure to resolve disputes over proportional representation and over the closing time of polling stations. ALBANIAN ELECTION DATE STILL IN DOUBT. OSCE Election Observation Coordinator Anthony Welch said on 19 June that only 67 of 115 candidates' lists have arrived at the OSCE and that the elections may have to be postponed, "Koha Jone" reported on 20 June. No ballot papers can be printed before the lists are complete, and there are only nine days left for both printing and distribution. Welch, however, said that the election preparations are going ahead, even though the security situation also remains uncertain. In Gjirokaster, the Democrats held their first rally in the southern rebel stronghold. Only local candidates took part, and there were no incidents. The Democrats and President Sali Berisha have their power base in the north and have been threatened by southern rebels. Meanwhile in New York, the Security Council voted to extend the mandate of the Italian-led Operation Alba by 45 days into mid-August. MONTENEGRIN PRESIDENT SAYS COUNTRY IN "SERIOUS CRISIS." Momir Bulatovic addressed the parliament in Podgorica on 19 June in the latest stage of the ongoing crisis gripping both the government and the ruling Democratic Socialist Party. Bulatovic denied that the tensions between him and Prime Minister Milo Djukanovic are the cause of the difficulties, an RFE/RL correspondent reported from the Montenegrin capital. He said that the feud is rather an outgrowth of basic political differences between the two men. Bulatovic accused the government of favoring the south at the expense of the north. He also charged that the security services behave as a law unto themselves and are engaged in massive corruption. SERBIAN ROUNDUP. Federal Yugoslav Foreign Minister Milan Milutinovic met in Rome on 19 June with his Italian counterpart, Lamberto Dini, for a briefing on the EU's recent Amsterdam summit. Dini told Milutinovic that the EU expects Yugoslavia to live up to its obligations under the Dayton agreement and to respect the recommendations on democratization made last year by Spain's former Prime Minister Felipe Gonzales. In Novi Sad, Dusan Mijic, the owner of the independent daily "Nasa Borba," says that his paper will not pay the massive fines for alleged back taxes that the government is trying to impose. In Belgrade, war veterans resumed their hunger strike to demand a clarification of their status and benefits after talks with the authorities broke down. And federal President Zoran Lilic has formally endorsed Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic to succeed him in the federal job. KOSOVO OFFICIALS SHOT AT. Unidentified men fired an automatic weapon at a car carrying persons from the Serbian Interior Ministry on the road between Pristina and Podujevo on 19 June. No one was injured or claimed responsibility for the incident. In Belgrade, Refugee Minister Bratislava Morina refused to meet with women from a delegation of Serbs from Istok in Kosovo. The Serbs, whom the authorities resettled in the mainly Albanian-populated province, are demonstrating in central Belgrade for housing and other benefits they say were originally promised to them (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 12 June 1997). BOSNIAN SERB ARMOR SEIZED. Czech SFOR soldiers found and confiscated a tank, two armored personnel carriers, and two artillery pieces that the Bosnian Serbs were holding in contravention of the Dayton agreement. The incident took place on 19 June near Omarska, which was the site of one of the most notorious concentration camps in the Bosnian war. And in Sarajevo, an RFE/RL correspondent reports that two frequently-postponed meetings have been put off again. One is a gathering of international aid donors to Bosnia, which is now slated for mid-July. The other is a meeting of Croatian President Franjo Tudjman and his Bosnian counterpart Alija Izetbegovic, which could take place in late June at the earliest if a dispute over Mostar is solved. ROMANIAN PRESIDENT, GOVERNMENT DISCUSS MINERS' STRIKE. President Emil Constantinescu on 19 June met with members of the coalition government and called on them to make public "in the shortest possible time" the government's program for restructuring the mining industries and the "social rehabilitation" of the Jiu valley region. Constantinescu is due to meet with representatives of the largest trade unions and of the opposition parliamentary parties on 20 June, Radio Bucharest reports. Meanwhile, the government has announced it will send a delegation to Hunedoara for negotiations with the striking miners. The miners yesterday gave a 24-hour ultimatum to the executive to restart negotiations. Most of the mining industries unions have expressed solidarity with the strikers. In Bucharest, some 7,000 workers in the lumber industry protested against the government's economic policies. UPDATE ON ROMANIAN PRIME MINISTER'S U.S. VISIT. Victor Ciorbea on 19 June had an "unscheduled meeting" with U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, Radio Bucharest reported. He also met with World Bank president James Wolfensohn and discussed the bank's possible increased support for Romania's social protection programs and the development of the Jiu valley. Meanwhile, State Department spokesman John Dinger said that at the first meeting with Ciorbea on 18 June, Albright had emphasized the importance to the U.S .of its relations with Romania and Deputy Secretary of State Strobe Talbott had expressed "full support" for Romania's goal of integration into Euro-Atlantic structures. Dinger stressed, however, that this did not mean that the U.S. has already decided to back Romania in a second round of NATO expansion. ROMANIAN OPPOSITION RIFT DEEPENS. Mugurel Vintila and Marian Enache, members of the reformist group in the Party of Social Democracy in Romania, resigned from the party on the eve of its annual congress, scheduled for 21-22 June. They say Chairman Ion Iliescu is oblivious to calls for the restructuring of the party. In a letter to the former Romanian president on 19 June, the leader of the group, Teodor Melescanu, said he will not run for any position in the party leadership at the congress. Melescanu says he made the decision after learning that the incumbent leadership has already fixed the results of the contest for the leading party positions. Another reason for the decision, he said, is to refute the claim that the struggle for reforming the party is in fact only a struggle for power, as Iliescu had claimed. MOLDOVA TO POSTPONE LANGUAGE TEST? The Russian-language daily "Nezavisimaya Moldova" reported on 19 June that under a decree drafted by the Moldovan government, the requirement for public office-holders to pass a Romanian-language test would not go into effect until 2005. The decision to introduce such a test was adopted in 1989, when Moldova was still part of the former Soviet Union. Its implementation was postponed until 1 January 1997 by a decision of the parliament and of the former government headed by Andrei Sangheli, an RFE/RL correspondent in Chisinau reported. MOLDOVAN RIGHT-WING PARTIES SET UP ALLIANCE. The Party of Revival and Accord of Moldova and the Popular Christian Democratic Front on 19 June announced they have set up an alliance of right-wing political parties. The leaders of the two formations, former President Mircea Snegur and Iurie Rosca, said in a joint declaration, that the alliance will be called the Democratic Convention of Moldova and will be open to other formations with a similar political outlook, Radio Bucharest reported. MOLDOVAN GAGAUZ AUTONOMY CRITICIZED BY TIRASPOL. The authorities in Moldova's Gagauz autonomous region are "enraged" by the showing in Tiraspol movie theaters of a documentary criticizing the situation in the region, BASA-Press reported on 19 June. They say the documentary, "The Gagauz Deadlock," was produced on the order of "destructive political forces in Tiraspol" and aims at discrediting autonomy as a form of government at a time when Tiraspol and Chisinau are about to resume talks on a final status for the breakaway region. Chisinau offers Tiraspol an autonomous status similar to that enjoyed by the Gagauz region. The Gagauz authorities say the documentary "distorts the real situation in the region" and is "tendentious." Earlier, Gagauz region governor Georgii Tabunshchik complained that "certain forces in Transdniester are trying to destabilize the situation" in the autonomous region. BULGARIA TO IMPROVE RELATIONS WITH MUSLIM WORLD. During a three-day visit to Kuwait that ended on 18 June, Bulgarian President Petar Stoyanov secured support for normalizing Sofia's strained relations with Muslim and Arab countries, an RFE/RL correspondent reported on 19 June. Stoyanov will ask Turkey to withdraw complaints filed with the Organization of Islamic Conference (OIC) in the 1980s, during communist leader Todor Zhivkov's anti-Turkish minority campaign. In return, Stoyanov has agreed to allow OIC observers to monitor the conditions of Muslims and ethnic Turks in Bulgaria. On his return to Sofia, he said Bulgaria and Kuwait agreed to start regular consultation at Foreign Ministry expert level. Agreements were signed to encourage mutual investments and to avoid double taxation. In addition, a state-owned Kuwaiti company has agreed to loan $40 million to help develop Sofia international airport. BULGARIAN MILITARY REFORM. Col. Gen. Miho Mihov, the new army chief of staff, told reporters on 19 June that Bulgaria will replace its conscript army with a professional one and reduce its personnel by 10 %. Mihov said the army will start offering three-year contracts for professional soldiers beginning 1 September. For the time being, the army will remain a mix of professional soldiers and conscripts serving for 12 to 18 months, BTA reported. BULGARIAN BUSINESS EXECUTIVE MISSING. The Ministry of Interior on 19 June said a search is under way for Penko Dimitrov, the deputy executive director of the country's state gas monopoly company Bulgargas, Reuters reported. The statement said Dimitrov had not been seen since earlier in the day, when guards at the company's headquarters in Sofia. informed him they had seen a strange car parked nearby. They had offered to accompany him, but he declined their offer. Recently, the ministry had announced that special steps had been taken to protect Bulgargas executive director Vassil Filipov after he had received threats. END NOTE ELECTION CAMPAIGN KICKS OFF IN POLAND by Jan de Weydenthal Speaking on nationwide television on 18 June, Polish President Aleksande r Kwasniewski announced that parliamentary elections will take place on 21 September. He also said he had signed a law requiring all candidates for elective public office and senior positions in the government, judiciary, or state-run media to reveal whether they worked for or cooperated with intelligence services during communist era. Kwasniewski said the elections will provide the public with an opportuni ty to express their view on Poland's efforts to join European institutions. "The next elections must bring a clear answer," Kwasniewski said, "not only about what each politician [does] but also about what each of us expects from Europe [as well as] about what and when one wants to give to this Europe." Kwasniewski's speech marked the formal opening of the election campaign, although Poland's diverse political groups had already started widespread preparations for the contest. Most public opinion polls have consistently found that the former Communists--currently reorganized into the Social-Democratic Party, which is a senior partner in the coalition government--are running neck-and-neck with a host of right-wing groups clustered around the Solidarity labor union. Each side has consistently attracted about 25% of support from nationwide samples. They are followed by the centrist Freedom Union, the leftist Labor Union, and the Peasant Party, which is a junior member of the current coalition government. Support for each of those groups hovers around 10%. The ruling Social Democrats launched their campaign on 16 June with a pr ess conference featuring Prime Minister Wlodzimierz Cimoszewicz, who set the tone by claiming credit for Poland's economic successes during the last four years. "Changes took place for the better in all spheres of social life," Cimoszewicz said, adding that "one has to be blind not to see them." The party is well organized and disciplined. It is backed by numerous labor and youth groups and enjoys a relatively strong standing in the country's business community. Its slogan -- "We have kept our word" -- is designed to focus on specific issues, such as economic progress, unemployment, and inflation, that demonstrate success and to divert attention from the more general, still-unresolved problems of historical and moral justice. It is precisely those general problems that provide the foundation for t he right-wing political campaign. That campaign uses patriotic slogans and religious appeals, but its main thrust is removing all vestiges of communist past. In the opinion of many right-wing politicians and activists, involvement in communist institutions and operations before 1989 disqualifies the Social Democrats and their supporters from politics. The Solidarity-led Electoral Action (AWS) consists of some 45 separate g roups that have very different political programs and policy interests. It has been held together until now by the simple realization that none would be able to enter parliament and/or participate in government on its own. But signs of potential internal conflict within AWS have recently emerge d, with several groups vocally complaining about the centrally drafted lists of candidates. Some have complained that Solidarity is taking a disproportionate share of positions on the ballots. The union has denied this but says that since it is the strongest component of the AWS, it is entitled to a major share. Several prominent centrist politicians, such as the popular former forei gn and finance minister Andrzej Olechowski, have recently announced their departure from the AWS, openly disagreeing about its program and the style of its political campaign. Olechowski said described the umbrella organization as excessively populist and nationalistic. Others complain about the AWS's close identification with, and uncritica l support for, the Catholic Church. The AWS has championed the ban on abortion, for example, and its leader, Marian Krzaklewski, recently declared his support for a complete and unconditional ban on abortions. The election campaign is certain to intensify in the coming weeks. But t here are already serious concerns that it may focus too much on infighting between those considered to have lingering links to the communist regime and those advocating a final break with the past. There are also fears that this type of campaign may merely exacerbate Poland's current social and economic problems by deepening, rather than narrowing, the long-existing cleavages. Kwasniewski's reminder about the need to concentrate on political choice s for Poland's future appears intended to put stress on other, more pertinent issues. But it is far from certain whether this advice will be heeded by the public, not to mention the politicians. xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx Copyright (c) 1997 RFE/RL, Inc. 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