|The only certainty is that nothing is certain. - Pliny the Elder|
Vol. 1, No. 67, Part II, 7 July1997
Vol. 1, No. 67, Part II, 7 July1997 Note to readers: the RFE/RL Web Site will be providing detailed coverage of NATO's Madrid Summit from 8-9 July. News updates, analysis, and RealAudio will be posted on the following page: http://www.rferl.org/nca/special/madrid-nato/index.html 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 *SLOVAK ROUND-TABLE TALKS COLLAPSE *ALBANIAN SOCIALISTS HOPE FOR TWO-THIRDS MAJORITY IN RUN-OFF ELECTIONS *REPUBLIKA SRPSKA PRESIDENT REFUSES TO MEET WITH RIVALS End Note WHY ONLY THREE COUNTRIES WILL LIKELY BE INCLUDED IN FIRST WAVE OF NATO ENLARGEMENT xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx EAST-CENTRAL EUROPE BELARUS CELEBRATES INDEPENDENCE DAY. At the start of official celebrations of Belarusian Independence Day, President Alyaksandr Lukashenka said in a 3 July televised address that Minsk will not allow the international community to exert pressure on the country. Lukashenka, who opposes NATO's planned eastward expansion, said he advocates "a new global security system." Belarus had previously celebrated Independence Day on 27 July, which marks the day in 1991 on which Belarus broke from the former Soviet Union. The new date coincides with Belarus's liberation from the Nazis. Opposition groups, meanwhile, plan to celebrate Independence Day on 27 July. The date was switched after a controversial referendum last November that broadened the powers of Lukashenka. U.S. ORGANIZATION PROTESTS RUSSIAN REPORTER'S TREATMENT IN BELARUS. The New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists has sent a letter to Belarusian President Lukashenka protesting official harassment of Russian television journalist Pavel Sheremet. The letter was made available to RFE/RL on 4 July. The group said that Sheremet, who is the Minsk bureau chief of Russian Public Television (ORT), has abeen stripped of special events accreditation and threatened with the loss of his general accreditation. It added that the action was in retaliation for Sheremet's 28 June broadcast in which he characterized the planned Independence Day celebration in Belarus as "President Lukashenka's idea." The committee said Sheremet was informed he had insulted the president and the nation of Belarus. It urged Lukashenka to cease harassing Sheremet. and pointed out that removal of credentials for such reasons violates international standards guaranteeing the right of the news media to freely gather and disseminate information. UKRAINE, MOLDOVA, ROMANIA SIGN CRIME-FIGHTING AGREEMENTS. Presidents Leonid Kuchma (Ukraine), Petru Lucinschi (Moldova), and Emil Constantinescu (Romania) met in the Ukrainian border town of Izmail on 3 July, Interfax reported. They signed an agreement on cooperation against crime, weapons, and drug smuggling as well as a document setting up a free economic zone in the border area between the three countries, in the basin of the Danube River. A customs union agreement is expected to be concluded in September as the first concrete step toward establishing a free economic zone. The presidents told reporters after the meeting that the documents they signed will create favorable conditions for the three countries' integration into European institutions. MULTINATIONAL MILITARY EXERCISE IN UKRAINE. A multinational military exercise codenamed "Cooperative Neighbor-97" began in Ukraine's western Lviv region on 5 July. The maneuver is taking place within the framework of NATO's Partnership for Peace program. Interfax reported that some 1,200 servicemen from Ukraine, the U.S., Greece, the Czech Republic, Moldova, Macedonia, Romania, Slovakia, and Georgia are participating. Italy, Bulgaria, Germany, and the Netherlands have sent observers. At a ceremony at the start of the exercises, Ukrainian Defense Minister Olexander Kuzmuk stressed the importance of Ukraine's participation in the Partnership for Peace program. At the NATO summit in Madrid on 8-9 July, Ukraine will sign a special partnership charter with the alliance. U.S. Defense Secretary William Cohen is expected to attend the closing of the exercise on 14 July. LATVIAN FOREIGN MINISTER CRITICIZES GERMANY'S STANCE ON EU ENLARGEMENT. Valdis Birkavs has criticized a statement by his German counterpart, Klaus Kinkel, saying that EU accession negotiations should start with the "most advanced" candidates, BNS reported on 4 July. Kinkel made the comment during the recent meeting of foreign ministers of the Baltic Sea States in Riga (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 3 July 1997). Speaking on Latvian Television, Birkavs said he "negatively" evaluates Kinkel's comment. He noted that the European Commission will publish reports in mid-July highlighting the issues that candidate states have to deal with. "Each state should be given time to tackle those problems," the foreign minister urged. LITHUANIAN PARLIAMENT SETS DATE OF PRESIDENTIAL ELECTIONS. The parliament has announced that presidential elections will be held on 21 December, BNS reported on 3 July. Under the constitution, elections for the presidency are to take place two months before the current term expires. In a poll conducted by the Lithuanian-British company Baltic Surveys in mid-June and published in "Respublika" on 4 July, Valdas Adamkus, a U.S. citizen of Lithuanian origin, won 32.7 percent of the vote, up 5.6 percentage points over May, and incumbent President Algirdas Brazauskas 23.6 percent (down 0.1 percentage point). It is unclear whether Adamkus will be able to run owing to legal hurdles, while Brazauskas has not yet announced if he will seek a second term. Meanwhile, Rimantas Smetona, the founder of the Lithuanian Euroskeptics movement and chairman of the Nationalist Democratic Movement For Independent Lithuania, has announced he will run for the presidency. POLISH PRESIDENT SIGNS BAN ON DEATH PENALTY. Aleksander Kwasniewski has signed into law a new criminal code abolishing the death penalty, PAP reported on 3 July. He signed the bill, despite widespread calls last month to restore capital punishment after several murder cases in the country. The last execution in Poland was carried out in 1988. The death penalty was suspended shortly before the fall of communism in 1989 and was scrapped in the new criminal code approved by the parliament in June. The new code carries a maximum penalty of 25 years in jail and is to take effect on 1 January. POLISH RESPONSE TO RUSSIA'S SUGGESTIONS ON OSCE. Polish President Kwasniewski, speaking at the opening of the annual session of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Warsaw on 5 July, rejected suggestions by Russia that the role of OSCE would be weakened by NATO's planned enlargement, Reuters reported. Kwasniewski stressed the OSCE's unique importance but said his countrymen favor joining NATO. The Russian delegation, led by Duma speaker Gennadii Seleznev, reiterated Moscow's opposition to NATO expansion. The Russians say they will propose amendments to a document on European security in the 21st century, which was endorsed by the OSCE's Lisbon summit in December. BLOCKADE OF CZECH NUCLEAR POWER PLANT. Some 500 young people from the Czech Republic and elsewhere started a blockade of the Czech nuclear power plant in Temelin on 6 July, Czech Television reported. The demonstrators were responding to a call by the Citizens against Temelin association, which says the plant is expensive, unnecessary, and dangerous. Jakub Patocka from the Duha [Rainbow] environmental movement said participants in the blockade, which is to last several days, are exercising their right to life without nuclear energy. Demonstrators were able to enter the Temelin construction site without encountering resistance from guards. They later told journalists this meant the plant was poorly protected. The management of the plant later requested police to protect the plant. SLOVAK ROUND-TABLE TALKS COLLAPSE. Talks on 4 July between Slovak Prime Minister Vladimir Meciar and all but one of the Slovak opposition parties collapsed, RFE/RL's Bratislava correspondent reported. The participants failed to reach agreement on taking steps toward democratization or fulfilling EU and NATO conditions. One of Meciar's chief opponents, Democratic Party leader Jan Langos, was not invited to participate. The premier said after the meeting that he wants to continue with formal talks. But the opposition is strongly against further discussions because of the lack of results in the 4 July meeting. Meanwhile, the ruling coalition parties in the parliament refused on 4 July to appove any changes recently suggested by the EU as a condition for Slovakia to be included in the first round of union enlargement talks. HUNGARIAN OPPOSITION PARTY CALLS FOR CAMPAIGN AGAINST SLOVAKIA. Democratic Forum chairman Sandor Lezsak has called on the government to appeal to the OSCE and the EU to deal with the grievances of ethnic Hungarians in Slovakia, Hungarian media reported on 7 July. He said failure to do so would be to abandon the interests of ethnic Hungarians. He also called upon European Democratic Union leader Alois Mock to take steps to resolve the matter, and he criticized the governing parties for having concluded an "unacceptable" basic treaty with Slovakia in 1995. FACTION LEADER EXPELLED FROM HUNGARIAN OPPOSITION PARTY. The disciplinary and ethics committee of the Christian Democratic People's Party (KDNP) has expelled parliamentary faction leader Tamas Isepy for publicly questioning the legitimacy of the party's recent leadership elections (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 23 June 1997), Hungarian media reported on 5 July. Despite his expulsion, Isepy remains the party's faction leader. He said he would not leave the parliamentary group unless he loses a confidence vote by the group. KDNP parliamentary and local government deputies on 6 July set up the "Barankovics Platform" (named after a Christian Democratic leader of the 1940s), whose objective is to reintroduce what they call "genuine" Christian Democratic values into the party. They unanimously objected to Isepy's expulsion. SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE ALBANIAN SOCIALISTS HOPE FOR TWO-THIRDS MAJORITY IN RUN-OFF ELECTIONS. Socialist Party spokesmen said in Tirana that their party hopes to gain a two-thirds majority in the parliament after the run-off elections in 34 districts on 6 July. That majority would allow them to change the constitution. The Socialist and Social Democratic coalition took more than 80 of the legislature's 155 seats on 29 June. Socialist leader Fatos Nano said in Tirana on 6 July that he will be the next prime minister. Current Prime Minister Bashkim Fino may hold another senior position in the new cabinet, Nano added. According to ATA, Democratic Alliance leader Neritan Ceka defeated a Socialist candidate in Elbasan. Meanwhile near Shkoder, a gunman killed two members of a polling station commission and injured two more. In Mat, north of Tirana, one person was killed in another incident at a polling station. CONFLICT BETWEEN ALBANIAN MONARCHISTS, GOVERNMENT SHARPENS. Ongoing tensions peaked on 3 July when Leka Zogu, the claimant to the throne, held a protest rally in Tirana. He charged the Socialists, in particular, with what he called the theft of the monarchists' victory in the 29 June referendum. The demonstration included a large number of armed people who attempted to march on the Central Election Commission, an RFE/RL correspondent reported from Tirana. Leka himself wore fatigues and carried two guns and some hand-grenades, the "Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung" reported. Police stopped the demonstration, but a shoot-out developed in which one monarchist was killed and two other persons injured. Leka's policy adviser Abedin Mulosmani charged that the police used "communist methods" and compared the incident to the shooting of protesters by communist police in 1991, "Bota Sot" reported on 5 July. REPUBLIKA SRPSKA PRESIDENT REFUSES TO MEET WITH RIVALS. Biljana Plavsic said in Banja Luka on 6 July that she fears for her safety and will not meet with Momcilo Krajisnik, the leading backer in the Bosnian Serb leadership of Radovan Karadzic. On 3 July, she dissolved the parliament and called early elections for 1 September. Karadzic's supporters, who have a narrow majority in the legislature, nonetheless began meeting near Pale on 4 July. They passed a series of measures aimed at weakening the president's powers and at facilitating her removal from office. The next day, Plavsic told several thousand supporters in Banja Luka that she should have informed them much earlier of the truth about crime and corruption in the Bosnian Serb leadership, an RFE/RL correspondent reported from the area. WILL NATO MOVE AGAINST KARADZIC? U.S. special forces are preparing to arrest former Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic and take him to The Hague to be tried for war crimes, London's "Daily Telegraph" and the "Frankfurter Rundschau" reported on 7 July. President Bill Clinton has reportedly decided that Karadzic must be removed from the scene if peace in Bosnia is to have a chance. Clinton intends to discuss the question of Bosnian war criminals at the Madrid NATO summit on 8-9 July, the two dailies add. U.S. diplomats have been shuttling between Madrid, Belgrade, Banja Luka, and Pale in recent days, and German Foreign Minister Klaus Kinkel raised the issue of Karadzic with Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic in Belgrade on 6 June. Gen. John Shalikashvili, chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff, said in Washington that "it is terribly important...to apprehend these war criminals and bring them to justice." FORMER HERZEGOVINIAN CROAT LEADER DIES. Mate Boban (55), the former head of the Herzegovinian-based Croatian Republic of Herceg-Bosna, died on 7 July in Mostar. He had suffered a brain hemorrhage three days earlier, and doctors said at the time that his condition was too serious to attempt to move him to a better hospital in Zagreb, an RFE/RL correspondent reported from Mostar. In the Croatian capital, Roman Catholic Church spokesmen announced on 6 July that Pope John Paul II has appointed Bishop Josip Bozanic of Krk to succeed the retiring Cardinal Franjo Kuharic as archbishop of Zagreb. And the Croatian Peasants' Party voted to expel Zagreb city councilors Damir Bukovic and Josip Sporer, who had made their own deal with the governing Croatian Democratic Community to vote with that party in the council. NEWS FROM FORMER YUGOSLAVIA. In Pristina, the Council for the Defense of Human Rights in Kosovo said on 4 July that Ali Qallopeku, an ethnic Albanian member of Milosevic's Socialist Party of Serbia, was killed near Glogovac. Nobody claimed responsibility for the murder, but the shadowy Kosovo Liberation Army has recently targeted ethnic Albanians whom it regards as collaborators with the Serbian regime. Meanwhile in Ljubljana, leaders of the parties represented in the parliament agreed on 4 July to cooperate to change the constitution by 15 July to enable Slovenia to meet EU requirements for associate member status. Many observers suggest, however, that Janez Jansa, the leader of the conservative Social Democrats, may nonetheless try to bring down the government and force new elections over the issue, the "Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung" wrote. The proposed constitutional changes, which would enable foreigners to buy property, are unpopular among the public. ROMANIAN PRESIDENT INVITED TO ADDRESS POST-SUMMIT NATO GATHERING. NATO Secretary-General Javier Solana has invited Emil Constantinescu to attend a meeting of the Council of Euro-Atlantic Partnership in Madrid on 9-10 July. The council was set up on 30 May at the meeting of NATO foreign ministers in Sintra, Portugal, and includes NATO's 16 members and the countries participating in the Partnership for Peace program. The Romanian Presidential Office reported on 6 July that Constantinescu will address a "working session" of the council that will discuss "Effective Cooperation for Security in the Euro-Atlantic Zone: Risks, Provocations, Opportunities." The office quoted Solana as saying the first meeting of the new body marks a "historic moment" launching "a new and comprehensive European security structure based on cooperation." ROMANIAN POLITICAL UPDATE. Under a compromise reached on 5 July, the Democratic Party agreed to the removal of Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Gilda Lazar, who had criticized Prime Minister Victor Ciorbea's visit to the U.S. In exchange, the executive rebuffed Valerian Stan, the head of the Government Control department, by placing the department under the direct supervision of the premier. Stan is a member of the National Peasant Party Christian Democratic (PNTCD). The government said Stan's allegations that Democratic Party leaders were involved in the illegal acquisition of apartments had "mislead public opinion." One day earlier, Democratic Party chairman Petre Roman said there was a "breach of trust" between his party and the PNTCD, following a statement by PNTCD leader Ion Diaconescu mentioning the possibility of early elections and forming a government without the Democrats. LABOR PROTEST IN MOLDOVA. Several thousand workers and pensioners continue to protest in Chisinau against the 60% hike in electricity prices introduced in March and against wage arrears. The demonstration, which began on 3 July, is organized by the Moldovan Trade Union Federation. whose leader, Ion Godonoga, met on 4 July with members of the cabinet. BASA-press reported that although an agreement was in sight on wage arrears, the government refuses to revoke its decision to raise electricity prices. Finance Minister Valeriu Chitan said the government cannot meet protesters' demand to increase wages because GDP declined by 6 percent in 1996. MOLDOVAN PARTY EXPELS TWO DEPUTIES. The Socialist Unity-Edinstvo faction in the parliament on 3 July expelled Vladimir Slonari and Dimitrii Uzun and asked parliamentary chairman Dumitru Motpan to remove Slonari from the chairmanship of the Commission for Human Rights and Ethnic Relations, Infotag and BASA-press reported. The decision comes after Slonari voted in favor of the government-proposed draft law providing for the sale of land. Slonari, who recently set up a new political party called the Civic Party of Moldova, said the decision illustrates the growing "trend toward the Left, toward political radicalism and against reform" that is under way in the Socialist Unity-Edinstvo party. BULGARIA LIFTS RESTRICTIONS ON CURRENCY TRADE. The government has lifted most restrictions on buying and selling foreign currency, an RFE/RL correspondent in Sofia reported on 3 July. Citizens and state-owned companies no longer need special permission from the National Bank to buy hard currency, but Finance Minister Muravei Radev said some restrictions on the amount of hard currency allowed to be taken abroad will remain in force until the parliament passes a new law regulating currency trade in general. In other news, the German publisher Westdeutsche Allgemeine Zeitung (WAZ) acquired on 4 July 100 percent of Bulgaria's biggest press group, the 168 Chasa Press, which publishes the popular "24 Chasa" daily. In September 1996, the WAZ acquired 70 percent of the Bulgarian group's shares. The WAZ also owns a 70 percent of Media Holding, which publishes the country's second-largest daily, "Trud." BULGARIAN HOLY SYNOD RE-ESTABLISHES INDEPENDENCE FROM STATE. The Holy Synod of the Bulgarian Orthodox Church on 3 July formally re-established its independence from the state, RFE/RL's Sofia bureau reported. The synod met for the first time in 44 years and was headed by Patriarch Maxim, whose foes criticize him for cooperating with the Communists. It decided to meet every four years and annulled the regulation imposed by the Communists whereby the patriarch had to be approved by the government. Maxim's opponents, headed by Metropolitan Pymen, boycotted the meeting. In 1996, Pymen declared himself patriarch and set up his own Holy Synod. He was subsequently excommunicated and anathematized by Maxim. END NOTE WHY ONLY THREE COUNTRIES WILL LIKELY BE INCLUDED IN FIRST WAVE OF NATO ENLARGEMENT by Michael Mihalka NATO will likely invite only three countries--the Czech Republic, Hungary, and Poland--to join the alliance at the Madrid summit on 8-9 July. Several NATO members wanted to extend an invitation to Slovenia and Romania, but the United States has made it clear that it would like the first wave of NATO enlargement to be small. The U.S. government's decision says a great deal about the current dynamics of European security. First, by restricting the first wave to the three Central European countries, the U.S. has removed the Baltic States' candidacy from the security agenda for the time being. Both Washington and Bonn wish to avoid needlessly antagonizing Moscow, which strongly objects to NATO enlarging to include countries from the former Soviet Union. Russia acquiesced to the first wave of enlargement by signing the Russia-NATO Founding Act, which states that NATO has neither plans nor reasons to deploy nuclear weapons or foreign troops on the territory of the new members. Russia has interpreted this to also mean that NATO will not build any new infrastructure there either. Second, the U.S. government is particularly concerned about how the debate on enlargement will unfold in the Senate. To date, the NATO enlargement process has failed to prompt a public debate in the U.S. This is surprising, since enlargement will entail not only clear obligations but also costs that have not yet been determined. Third, many feel that Romanian democracy and economic reform, despite having made significant progress in the last year, need more time to take root before that country can be considered for NATO membership. The government of Vladimir Meciar in Slovakia has come under fire from both the EU and U.S. for its anti-democratic tendencies. And in Sofia, it is only recently that a center-right government in favor of NATO membership has been reinstalled to replace the Socialists, who had shown greater interest in siding with Moscow. Fourth, while few observers dispute Slovenia's democratic credentials and its economic successes (despite lagging behind other countries in the region with regard to privatization), some point out that, with its population of some 2 million, it is unlikely to make much of a military contribution to the alliance. That argument has also been made against the candidacy of the Baltic States, whose prospects for NATO entry would be undercut by Slovenia's inclusion. Fifth, the admission of Romania and Slovenia would cause a shift in the strategic focus of the alliance to southeastern Europe. This is one of the reasons that countries like Italy, Turkey, and Greece have been supporting Bucharest and Ljubljana. However, the implications of such a shift have not yet been thought through. And in the meantime, NATO's continued participation in Bosnia following the expiry of SFOR's mandate remains in doubt. Sixth, the Madrid summit will cover a number of topics that will command the attention of the alliance. These include the enlargement of NATO's integrated military structure to include Spain and possibly France. Finally, the alliance will also embark on an enhanced Partnership for Peace program to promote integration with those countries that are not be invited to join in the first wave. Planning cells will be set up in NATO headquarters in which the military from partnership countries will be invited to participate. The North Atlantic Cooperation Council has already been transformed into the Euro-Atlantic Partnership Council, which has increased responsibilities. Thus, enlargement of the alliance to include the Czech Republic, Hungary, and Poland will take place at a time of considerable change within the alliance. Those three countries have sound democratic and economic credentials, and their accession to NATO will not significantly alter the alliance's strategic focus. The author teaches at the George C. Marshall Center for Security Studies in Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Germany. xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx Copyright (c) 1997 RFE/RL, Inc. 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