|The worst sin towards our fellow creatures is not to hate them, but to be indifferent to them; that's the essence of inhumanity. - George Bernard Shaw|
RFE/RL NEWSLINE Vol. 1, No. 88, Part II, 5 August 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/ xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx Headlines, Part II * UPDATE ON RUSSIAN JOURNALISTS DETAINED IN BELARUS * POLISH SCREENING LAW COMES INTO FORCE * POLITICAL PURGE OF ALBANIAN ARMY? xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx EAST-CENTRAL EUROPE UPDATE ON RUSSIAN JOURNALISTS DETAINED IN BELARUS. Garry Pogonyailo, a lawyer for journalist Pavel Sheremet who is currently being held in custody by Belarusian authorities, told Interfax on 4 August that he asked Belarusian Prosecutor General Oleg Bozhelko to move the investigation to Lithuania. Sheremet and cameraman Dmitri Zavadsky were detained by the Belarusian KGB on 26 July on charges of illegally crossing the Belarusian-Lithuanian border. Pogonyailo said Belarusian law enforcement agencies "cannot guarantee an unbiased investigation." Meanwhile, a source in the Belarusian Interior Ministry told Interfax that Belarusian Foreign Minister Ivan Antanovich has sent a letter to his Russian counterpart, Yevgenii Primakov, alleging that "Sheremet showed special interest in military and other secret border facilities." Antanovich also expressed concern about the fact that the conflict over the journalists is being considered at the top state level in Russia. FLOODS IN UKRAINE Emergencies Ministry spokeswoman Tatyana Pomazanova told journalists on 4 August that 12 villages have been flooded and six bridges swept away in floods caused by heavy rains in regions near the Romanian border. A nine-year-old girl drowned in the floods. Pomazanova said the girl drowned near Ivano- Frankivsk, about 400 kilometers southwest of Kyiv. Dozens of villages also have been flooded in the western Ukrainian region around Lviv. More than 700 people had to be evacuated. ESTONIAN PRESIDENT ON EU EXPANSION. Lennart Meri said in a speech at the Danish Foreign Policy Society on 4 August that Estonia sees great importance in the objective of EU members to make EU enlargement a continuing process, BNS reported. The 15 July recommendation by the European Commission to start expansion talks with six countries "is not the finish line, it only fixes the starting line for the integration process," Meri said. He noted Estonia will continue supporting the goals of Latvia and Lithuania during the entire negotiations. "We support the wish of Latvia and Lithuania to provide up-to-date information to Brussels that would better reflect their actual situation," Meri said. He said the European Union and NATO are the last two organizations which will complete the reintegration of the Baltics into Europe. LATVIAN DRAFT GOVERNMENT DECLARATION APPROVED. The parties that form the new Latvian government headed by Guntars Krasts on 4 August agreed on a draft government declaration, which will be prepared for signing 5 August, BNS reported. The parties also will discuss a new coalition agreement on 5 August. Krasts told reporters that the draft declaration is not fundamentally different from the previous government policy. The government envisages a balanced budget and will strive for harmonizing Latvian laws with EU legislation. SWEDEN AND LATVIA ABOLISH VISA. Sweden and Latvia on 4 August reached an agreement on visa-free travel, BNS reported. However, Sweden said the deal would not become valid until Latvia signed the Geneva convention on refugees without regional reservations. "Many countries have made certain amendments to, or interpretations of, the Geneva convention but we think Latvia has made too many reservations," a spokeswoman at the Swedish foreign ministry told Reuters. "In particular, Latvia only acknowledges refugees from a limited number of countries." FINNISH PRESIDENT IN LITHUANIA. During a one-day official visit to Vilnius by Finnish Prime Minister Paavo Lipponen, Finland and Lithuania on 4 August also lifted mutual visa requirements, BNS reported. European integration was the main focus of talks between Lithuanian Premier Gediminas Vagnorius and Lipponen. Lipponen assured his counterpart that Lithuania is among the countries that will become European Union members -- if not in the first wave of expansion, then later. He called the EU's invitation to Estonia to start accession talks "a great achievement of the Baltic states." He denied reports that Estonia has been singled out because of its close relationship with Finland. Vagnorius said Lithuania was left out by the European Commission not because of objective criteria, "which Lithuania more or less meets," but because of organizational and political factors." POLISH SCREENING LAW COMES INTO FORCE. Polish lustration law came into force on 3 August, RFE/RL'S Warsaw correspondent reported. Under the law, top state officials -- the president, ministers, province governors, deputies, senators, judges, prosecutors, executive directors of province offices, and heads of public TV, radio, and press agencies -- will have to declare whether they served in the communist secret services or were secret collaborators of those services. The statements concerning collaboration will be verified by the Lustration Court. The Lustration Court consists of judges of appellate and provincial courts who will have unlimited access to the archives of civil and military secret services. The screened person will have the right to a legal counselor and the right to appeal to higher courts. A person whose statement is proven false will lose the right to hold public office for 10 years. POLISH ELECTORAL PREFERENCES AFTER FLOODS. The July flood did not influence Polish electoral preferences despite the opposition's criticism of the government's performance during the flood, RFE/RL's Warsaw correspondent reported. An opinion poll conducted by the Public Opinion Research Center (CBOS) on 24-30 July and published by Polish dailies on 5 September indicates that the co-ruling Democratic Left Alliance is supported by 24% of Poles. The Solidarity Electoral Action is second, with 23%, and the coalition Polish Peasant Party is third with 9%. Other parties are close to the 5% electoral threshold and face parliamentary extinction if they fall below the threshold. The centrist Freedom Union has 6%, the pensioners party - 5%, leftist Labor Union - 4%, Movement for Poland's Reconstruction - 4%, and the Union for Real Politics - 3%. LIST OF AGENTS REPORTED STOLEN FROM CZECH INTELLIGENCE. The daily "Pravo" reported on 5 August that in May 1996 someone stole a portable computer from an agent of The Bureau for Foreign Contacts and Information (UZSI), a Czech intelligence agency. The computer reportedly contained a list of all UZSI agents. The agent, whose computer was stolen, reported the incident, but the UZSI covered up the whole matter. "Pravo" says that Internal Affairs Minister Jan Ruml was informed about the incident but chose not to inform the parliament and the public. According to "Pravo," the computer has never been found. The UZSI, the Czech Intelligence Service (BIS), and the Military Defense Intelligence (VOZ) are three top Czech intelligence agencies. While BIS deals with counterespionage, the UZSI deals with espionage abroad. Unlike BIS and VOZ it is not directly supervised by the parliament. LE PEN TO VISIT SLOVAKIA IN SEPTEMBER. An official of the Slovak National Party (SNS), a Slovak government coalition member, told journalists on 4 August that Jean-Marie Le Pen, the chairman of the ultra-right French National Front, will visit Slovakia on September 18-21 at the invitation of SNS chairman Jan Slota. Le Pen was scheduled to visit Slovakia in the spring, but his visit was postponed due to early elections in France Le Pen is due to meet SNS leaders, members and followers. He also will visit the city of Zilina, where Slota is mayor. The two parties hope to conclude several agreements, including a deal for the National Front to provide assistance in "presenting SNS proposals at the Council of Europe and the European Parliament." HUNGARIAN INTELLIGENCE OFFICIALS CHARGED FOR UNAUTHORIZED DATA PROCESSING. The Budapest Military Prosecutor's Office (BKU) charged on 4 August Colonel Laszlo Foeldi, former director of operations at the Intelligence Office (IH), and three other members of his staff with violation of state secrets and unauthorized data processing. Hungarian media reported. The move reverses the BKU's decision of 19 June that no crime had been committed in the so- called Operation Birch Tree in which intelligence agents collected data on several Socialist politicians. IH director Jozsef Szasz filed a complaint against the 19 June ruling with the Chief Prosecutor's Office, which then filed charges against Foeldi and his associates. HUNGARIAN RADIO TRUSTEE RESIGNS. Istvan Lovas, a member of the Hungarian Radio's board of trustees, resigned on 4 August, claiming that news coverage is narrow, biased and intolerant, Hungarian media reported. In a letter to the speaker of the parliament, Lovas said the main radio programs broadcast biased information, misinform the public, and are controlled by a minority selecting information in the interest of sustaining the present government coalition. Lovas's resignation takes effect on 1 September. He was delegated to the board by the Independent Smallholders' Party. SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE ITALY TO LEAVE 500 TROOPS IN ALBANIA. Italian army Colonel Giovanni Bernardi told news agencies in Tirana on 4 August that Italian and Albanian military officials recently agreed in Rome that Italy will help the Albanian army to strengthen security against bandits and gangs, and to reorganize and retrain. He added that "500 Italian soldiers already serving in Albania will be included in this assistance corps. Enlarging this contingent hasn't been excluded." Meanwhile, Foreign Minister Theodoros Pangalos heads a high- powered Greek delegation slated to arrive in Tirana on 5 August. They will discuss a $20 million loan to help strengthen Albanian security forces. Greek officials will also offer opportunities for jobless Albanians to work legally in Greece. The Greeks want a list of names of Albanians who escaped from prison in the recent anarchy. The Greek authorities fear that Albania is becoming a source of arms and drug smuggling via Greece to Western Europe. POLITICAL PURGE OF ALBANIAN ARMY? Defense Minister Sabit Brokaj in Tirana on 4 August warned top army officers who recently "violated the constitution" by "accepting political orders" to resign voluntarily or face sackings and trials. It is not clear whether he has specific incidents in mind, or whether the new government is simply following the time-honored Balkan practice in which a new government purges the army, police, courts, and ministries of its predecessor's appointees. Indeed, opposition Democratic Party spokesmen said that Brokaj is launching a "political purge." The new Socialist government has already announced top-level changes in the Interior Ministry and told judges to suspend trials, allegedly because too many court facilities were destroyed in the recent unrest. MORE ATTACKS ON KOSOVO POLICE. Unidentified assailants wounded two policemen and one civilian at Gornja Klina near Srbica on 4 August. In a separate incident in Glogovac, one ethnic Albanian civilian, who heads a state-run company, was severely wounded by gunfire. The previous day, gunmen attacked a policeman near Podujevo. These are the latest in a series of violent incidents this year in Serbia's troubled province, which has an ethnic Albanian majority of some 90% but no home rule. The Kosovo Liberation Army (UCK) changed its tactics in late 1996 from random attacks against Serbs to more frequent and clearly targeted assaults on the Serbian authorities and on ethnic Albanians whom the UCK considers to be collaborators. SEVEN WESTERN COUNTRIES BOYCOTT BOSNIAN DIPLOMATS. Sweden, France, the U.K., Austria, Sweden, and the U.S. on 4 August followed Germany's decision the previous day to freeze diplomatic contacts with Bosnia-Herzegovina. Carlos Westendorp, the international community's chief representative in Bosnia, had urged the boycott to show displeasure with the three Bosnian ethnic groups' failure to agree on ambassadorial appointments (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 4 August 1997). Meanwhile, on 4 August the deadline came and went for the three sides to agree on common citizenship and a joint passport. The main bone of contention was the long- standing dispute between the Muslims and the Serbs over whether citizenship in the common state has primacy over citizenship in the Republika Srpska or the mainly Croat and Muslim Federation. The Serbs argue citizenship in the two "entities" should have more weight than that in the common state, whereas the Muslims stress joint statehood. U.S. SLAMS WESTENDORP. An unnamed State Department official said in Washington on 4 August that the U.S. is not happy with how Westendorp is doing his job. The official charged that the former Spanish foreign minister spends too much time outside of Bosnia, and that he takes the wrong approach to solving local problems. The spokesman added that Washington is particularly displeased that Westendorp tried to suggest specific diplomatic appointments in resolving the imbroglio over ambassadorial appointments, and that Westendorp had insisted that a Serb be named to head the Washington embassy. The official noted that the State Department's disappointment with Westendorp's performance in implementing the civilian aspects of the Dayton agreement was instrumental in President Bill Clinton's recent decision to send U.S. negotiator Richard Holbrooke back to the Balkans. ALL MUSLIMS DRIVEN OUT OF JAJCE AREA. International police spokesmen said in Jajce on 4 August that the ethnic tensions between Croats and Muslims in the area had subsided, but only because the recently returned Muslims had all been driven out by Croat mobs, an RFE/RL correspondent reported from the central Bosnian town. Vladimir Soljic, the ethnic Croat president of the mainly Croat and Muslim Federation, said in a letter that refugee return programs to date had discriminated against the Croats, and that it is necessary instead to stress the right of all refugees to go home. Meanwhile in Sarajevo, Westendorp charged that the recent protests in Vogosca by Muslim refugees from Srebrenica were organized. The Srebrenica women blocked attempts by Serbs from Vogosca to return to their homes in that Sarajevo suburb. NEWS FROM THE FORMER YUGOSLAVIA. Leading indicted war criminal Radovan Karadzic recently held talks in Belgrade with Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic, BETA reported on 5 August. The main topic on the agenda was Holbrooke's upcoming visit to the Balkans. In Brcko, Republika Srpska Prime Minister Gojko Klickovic hinted that the Serbs might boycott the September local elections if the question of voter registration is not soon cleared up to the Serbian leadership's liking. And in Zagreb, President Franjo Tudjman was inaugurated for a new term on 5 August. He promised to be "an impartial president of all Croats and Croatian citizens, regardless of their political and other affiliations." Tudjman also pledged his backing for the Dayton agreement and the Croat-Muslim Federation in Bosnia. Also in the Croatian capital, state-run TV said that Defense Minister Gojko Susak has undergone surgery in Washington. He was operated on for lung cancer there in 1995. ROMANIAN INTERIOR MINISTER TOURS TRANSYLVANIA. Gavril Dejeu, on a tour of several counties in Transylvania, said on 4 August in Cluj that the opening of the Hungarian consulate in the center of the town has been "a mistake." He said a different, less central building should have been found for this purpose to avoid a "conflictual situation," Radio Bucharest reported. He failed to mention that the Cluj mayoralty had refused to assign any building to the consulate, which is now housed in temporary premises belonging to the Hungarian community in the city. Dejeu also said that local authorities in Transylvania should proceed "prudently" with the implementation of the government ordinance allowing bilingual signs. He said the ordinance, though in effect, will eventually have to be approved by the parliament. He said until then one should display "wisdom" to avoid "conflicts that could resemble those in the former Yugoslavia." EBRD LOAN FOR ROMANIA. The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) on 4 August granted Romania a $75 million loan for the improvement of the water supply and sewage system in 10 towns, Mediafax reported. The European Union also is participating in the project with a $35 million non-refundable credit. The agreement was signed in Bucharest by Finance Minister Mircea Ciumara and Johan Bastin, director of EBRD's infrastructure and environment department. UPDATE ON ROMANIAN FLOODS. Landslides and flooding caused by heavy rains over the weekend damaged more than 2,000 homes in the Prahova and Dambovita counties, Romanian officials said on 4 August. The worst hit town is Breaza, some 160 kilometers north of Bucharest. The government on 4 August approved emergency aid for the Vaslui, Bacau, Olt, Dolj, Teleorman, Bistrita-Nasaud, Bihor, Salaj, Hunedoara and Caras-Severin counties, which had been affected by earlier floods. On August 5, the government will discuss emergency aid for the more recently affected regions. MOLDOVAN PRESIDENTIAL ADVISER ON MOTORCADE INCIDENT... The recent "motorcade incident" (see "RFE/RL Newsline, 4 August 1997) shows that the Tiraspol authorities are "losing control of the situation" and are forced to take "extreme measures" in an attempt to bring about the restoration of the former status quo, presidential advisor Nicolae Taranu told a press conference in Chisinau on 4 August. Taranu said the leaders of the breakaway region were left with "little room for maneuvering" after the signing in Moscow on 8 May of the memorandum on the settling of the conflict, Infotag reported. ... AND ON JCC DRAFT FOR TRANSDNIESTER'S STATUS. Taranu also said in an article published on 4 August, that the Tiraspol authorities are attempting to force a revision of the draft for the final status of the breakaway region. The draft was worked out by the representatives of the three mediators on the Joint Control Commission. The Tiraspol authorities make the easing of the detention conditions of the so-called "Ilascu group" (see "RFE/RL Newsletter," 31 July 1997) conditional on concessions to the text of the draft by Chisinau, RFE/RL's Chisinau bureau reported. MOLDOVA AND THE IMF. David Owen, the head of an IMF team that recently returned from a visit to Moldova, says it is important for the people in the breakaway region to understand that the fund lends only to central governments, an RFE/RL correspondent in Washington reported. In related news, Infotag reported on 4 August that Roger Grawe, the World Bank's director of the department dealing with Moldovan affairs, told a news conference in Chisinau that Moldova has met "the bulk" of the conditions for a second structural adjustment loan. He said some adjustments for meeting the conditions of the loan are still needed, but he did not expect that this would lead to a reduction in the $100 million planned loan. BULGARIAN PRESIDENT PROMULGATES LAW ON POLICE FILES. Petar Stoyanov on 4 August formally approved the law recently passed by the parliament on opening the country's communist-era secret police files (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 31 July 1997), BTA reported. The law will take effect as soon as it is published in the official gazette. xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx Copyright (c) 1997 RFE/RL, Inc. 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