|I'm going to turn on the light, and we'll be two people in a room looking at each other and wondering why on earth we were afraid of the dark. - Gale Wilhelm|
RFE/RL NEWSLINE Vol. 1, No. 89, Part II, 6 August1997
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 *BELARUSIAN PRESIDENT ON RELATIONS WITH RUSSIA *POLISH GOVERNMENT ACCUSED OF KEEPING SECRET ACCOUNTS *ROMANIAN GOVERNMENT AGREES ON RESTRUCTURED BUDGET xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx EAST-CENTRAL EUROPE BELARUSIAN PRESIDENT ON RELATIONS WITH RUSSIA. Alyaksandr Lukashenka told Interfax on 5 August that integration with Russia would go ahead despite a row with Russia over the arrest of a Russian television crew in Belarus. Lukashenka argued that influential political critics in Russia would not distract him or Russian President Boris Yeltsin from their plans for unity enshrined in a treaty signed in May. "Neither he nor I will abandon the politics of integration," Lukashenka said. Yeltsin had threatened to review the union treaty if the two-man crew, charged with illegally crossing the border from Lithuania, were not released. Two of the three face a possible five-year sentence. Lukashenka said he was ready to meet Yeltsin to discuss problems relating to integration, though he added that it was not he who had started the argument. CRIMEAN ORGANIZATIONS APPEAL TO UKRAINIAN PRESIDENT'S WIFE. Several public associations in the Crimean city of Sevastopol, grouped under the umbrella of the so-called Bastion Bloc, have released an open letter calling on Ukrainian President Leonid Kuchma's wife to use her influence so as not to allow the Sea Breeze- 97 exercise to be held in Crimea, Interfax reported on 4 August. The exercise is scheduled to be held off Crimea's cost at the end of August in the framework of NATO's Partnership for Peace program. It would involve Ukrainian, U.S. and other countries' naval ships. Sevastopol Bastion also has called on Lyudmila Kuchma "to take the rapprochement of Ukraine, Russia and Belarus under her patronage." The League of Crimean Women has sent a similar letter to Kuchma's wife. UKRAINIAN PRESIDENT MEETS UZBEKISTANI COUNTERPART. Leonid Kuchma on 5 August met Uzbekistan President Islam Karimov, who is vacationing in Crimea, UNIAN reported. The Presidential Press Service said that a "wide specter of issues in relations between the two countries was discussed" during the meeting. Both presidents said they are satisfied with relations between Ukraine and Uzbekistan. ESTONIAN PRESIDENT IN FINLAND. Lennart Meri finished a visit to Denmark on 5 August and arrived in Finland for a private visit, BNS reported. A presidential aide declined to say whom the president will meet during his visit. Meri is scheduled to return to Tallinn on 6 August. Meri spent five days in Denmark where he addressed Danish politicians about Estonian views on NATO and EU enlargement. ESTONIAN EXPERTS SAY RUSSIA DELAYING BORDER AGREEMENT. Chief topographer of the Estonian Border Guard Department Tonu Raid, who heads the Estonian team of experts at the border talks with Russia, told journalists on 5 August that Russia is inventing reasons to delay an agreement on border maps which is necessary for the signing of a border treaty between the countries. He said that while the parties have reached agreement on the borderline and its marking on the map, Russia keeps arguing about technical parameters. Meanwhile, the next round of border talks between Russia and Latvia are scheduled to begin on 6 August in Riga. The Latvian Foreign Ministry said the delegations have agreed on a draft border treaty and are now working on maps and other technical aspects. LATVIAN AIR FORCE COMMANDER KILLED IN CAR CRASH. Karlis Kins, the commander of the Latvian air force, was killed on 4 August when his car collided with a truck on a highway outside Riga, BNS reported on 5 August. Kins was declared dead at the scene of the accident. An unidentified passenger in his car also was killed. Four other passengers, including Kins' wife, were hospitalized with injuries. Kins was on vacation and driving a personal car. FOUR LATVIAN FACTIONS TO SIGN DRAFT GOVERNMENT DECLARATION. Latvia's four largest parliament factions are set to sign on 6 August a draft government declaration and an agreement on cooperation, BNS reported. The signing will make it possible for the government formed by Guntars Krasts to start working. The draft documents were finalized on 5 August. Unlike the previous government, the new coalition does not include the National Reform Party and the Green Party faction. However, Indulis Emsis of the Green Party will keep a post in the new government. Krasts has described integration into Europe, economic development and continued reforms as the main tasks of his government. POLISH GOVERNMENT ACCUSED OF KEEPING SECRET ACCOUNTS. Poland's central auditing office (NIK) said on 5 August it had discovered secret government accounts in Poland and Germany holding a million marks (540,500 dollars), PAP reported. The funds belong to the government and lay in two separate mark accounts, one Polish and the other in an unidentified German bank in Berlin. Under Polish law, "the existence of these accounts is illegal and unjustified as all government spending must appear in the state budget and be submitted to parliament," NIK spokesman Przemyslaw Szustakiewicz told AFP. He said some of the funds helped equip dental surgery for government officials. Top government officials claim they did not know of the accounts' existence. POLISH PEASANT PARTY THREATENS COALITION PARTNER. Deputy Premier and Agriculture Minister Jaroslaw Kalinowski of the co- ruling Polish Peasant Party (PSL) left the cabinet meeting on 5 August in protest against Prime Minister Wlodzimierz Cimoszewicz's refusal to discuss Kalinowski's idea to pay in advance for cereals bought from farmers, RFE/RL's Warsaw correspondent reported. The agriculture ministry in May came up with the project under which the government's Agriculture Market Agency would pay in advance for cereals bought from farmers. The premier supported the project but asked the ministry to present an analysis of cereals market before the project is discussed by the government. The government's spokesperson said Cimoszewicz refused to discuss the project because Kalinowski did not present the requested analysis. PSL leaders said that if Cimoszewicz does not accept the plan by 12 August, PSL will demand the prime minister's resignation. CZECH REPUBLIC'S MARRIAGE AND BIRTH RATES DECLINE SHARPLY. Marriages and births have fallen dramatically in the Czech Republic since the fall of the communist regime in 1989, according to data released to the media from the Central Statistical Office. During the six years between 1990 and 1996, marriages fell by 41 percent while registered births dropped by almost a third. In 1990, there were 90,953 recorded marriages, a figure slightly higher than the year before, but by 1996 this level had fallen to 53,896. Similarly, births registered in 1990 were 130,564 while six years later in 1996, the number was just 90,446. In 1996, for a third year in a row, more people died than were born. The country's population in 1995 was 10,321 000 while it was 10,309 000 last year. SLOVAK PREMIER'S PARTY DISASSOCIATES ITSELF FROM LE PEN'S VISIT. A statement released to the media by Slovak Prime Minister Vladimir Meciar's Movement for a Democratic Slovakia (HZDS) on 5 August says French National Front Chairman Jean-Marie Le Pen has not been invited to visit Slovakia either by the Slovak parliament, the government or the HZDS. The ultra-right politician has been invited by the Slovak National Party (SNS), which is an independent and sovereign political subject, the statement says. The SNS announced on 4 August that Le Pen is scheduled to visit Slovakia 18- 21 September at the SNS invitation (see RFE/RL Newsline, 5 August). A spokesman for the HZDS told journalists on 5 August that the HZDS announced "a long time ago that there will be no meeting [of HZDS politicians] with Le Pen." HUNGARIAN MILITARY TO BECOME PROFESSIONAL. Defense Minister Gyoergy Keleti said on 5 August that at Prime Minister Gyula Horn's request, his ministry will work out a long-term project to establish a professional army, Hungarian media reported. Professional soldiers will receive an average salary increase of 23.5 percent next year, and mandatory military service will cease within eight to 10 years. A decision on fighter aircraft purchases will be made after upcoming NATO negotiations. Some 300 billion forints ($1.55 billion) have been earmarked for buying 30 fighter jets, together with weaponry and the necessary ground instruments. SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE GREECE TO LEGALIZE ALBANIAN MIGRANTS' STATUS. Greek Foreign Minister Theodoros Pangalos said in Tirana on 5 August that his country will help Albania restore its economy, military, and police. Some 100 Greek troops will stay in Albania, together with a group of military experts. Greece is anxious to curb an influx of drugs, arms, and criminals from across the border. Pangalos added that Albanian migrant workers in Greece will receive temporary work permits. Many of the Albanians have been working there illegally and are subject to immediate deportation. There are perhaps 300,000 such migrants, who often live and work under poor conditions, but whose presence has become essential to some branches of the Greek economy. Their remittances home are a mainstay of the Albanian economy. HOLBROOKE STARTS BALKAN MISSION TO SAVE DAYTON AGREEMENT. U.S. envoys Richard Holbrooke and Robert Gelbard arrive in Split on 6 August for meetings with Croatian President Franjo Tudjman and his Bosnian counterpart Alija Izetbegovic. The diplomats want the two leaders to put into effect long-standing agreements regarding the Croat-Muslim Federation in Bosnia. On 8 August Holbrooke is expected to tell Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic in Belgrade that his country could face new sanctions if it does not observe its obligations under the Dayton agreement and "ideally" send Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic to the Hague- based war crimes tribunal. In Novi Pazar, Sandzak Muslim leader Sulejman Ugljanin said on 5 August that he wants to tell Holbrooke personally about Serbia's persecution of its Muslim minority. Ugljanin also appealed to Bosnian Co-Prime Minister Haris Silajdzic to make the Sandzak Muslims' plight known, an RFE/RL correspondent reported from Novi Pazar. RIFT GROWS BETWEEN U.S., WESTENDORP. Carlos Westendorp, the international community's chief representative in Bosnia, has refused to meet Holbrooke, news agencies reported from Sarajevo on 5 August. Westendorp's spokesman said in the Bosnian capital that Westendorp "is in Spain. He is on holiday. He'll be back at the end of the week." The former Spanish foreign minister's apparent decision not to meet the U.S. envoy comes in response to recent negative remarks about Westendorp made by an unnamed U.S. diplomat (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 5 August 1997). Westendorp's spokesman added that "some of the statements which I've seen attributed to various diplomats are extraordinary. Anonymous briefings to the press are unhelpful in this context." Among the criticisms of Westendorp is that he spends too much time away from Bosnia. BOSNIAN UPDATE. Westendorp's office announced in Sarajevo on 5 August that Muslim and Croat representatives have agreed that Muslim villagers may soon return to their homes near Jajce (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 4 August 1997). German officials said in Bonn that Germany has suspended all aid to the Croat-held Jajce region until the Muslims are allowed to go home. Elsewhere, Switzerland and Russia have joined at least 12 other countries in following Westendorp's call for a freeze on contacts with Bosnian diplomats until the three Bosnian sides agree on new ambassadorial appointments. U.N. POLICE FREE TWO ILLEGALLY HELD SERBS. Members of the International Police Task Force (IPTF) on 5 August found and obtained freedom for two Serbs whom the Bosnian authorities were holding in a prison in Zenica in violation of the Dayton agreement. The IPTF paid an unannounced visit to the facility and found Nenad and Dusan Skrbic, whom the police had not seen on previous, announced visits. The two were on the list of missing persons of the International Committee of the Red Cross, but the Bosnian authorities at first refused to free them. The men were taken to Banja Luka and reunited with their families, who had alerted the IPTF to their plight. OSCE SAYS IT WILL NOT MONITOR SERBIAN VOTE. A spokesman for the OSCE said in Vienna on 5 August that his organization will turn down Serbia's invitation to monitor the September local elections there unless Belgrade removes some conditions it wants to place on the operation. The Serbian authorities seek to determine which countries may send monitors, which the OSCE calls "unacceptable." The spokesman added that Belgrade has failed to implement recommendations that the OSCE made late last year to improve the democratic process in Serbia. SLOVENIA LOSES KEY COURT BATTLE. A court in Nicosia, Cyprus, ruled on 5 August that Slovenia has no claim to money deposited in Beogradska Banka Cyprus for the former Yugoslav National Bank (NBJ). The court lifted an injunction that Slovenia obtained last year against the Serbian offshore bank and charged Slovenia for costs. Slovenia, Bosnia, Croatia, and Macedonia object to federal Yugoslavia's claim to be the sole legal successor to Tito's state and hence entitled to its assets. Acting on the principle that former Yugoslav property should be divided equitably among all the successor states, Slovenia charged that some of the NBJ's money on deposit in Cyprus actually belongs to Slovenian citizens. ROMANIAN GOVERNMENT AGREES ON RESTRUCTURED BUDGET. At a meeting that ended in the early morning hours of 6 August, the government agreed on the details of the restructured budget, Radio Bucharest reported. Details will be presented by Prime Minister Victor Ciorbea at a press conference later on 6 August. Deputy Minister of Finance Dan Rusanu said the restructured budget continues to be one of "austerity" and that it reflects the priority given to social protection, health and education. He said the 4.5% deficit agreed on with the IMF will be respected and predicted that in 1998 the deficit will be between 2.2 and 2.5 percent of the GDP. Earlier, Ciorbea met leaders of the main trade unions, RFE/RL's Bucharest bureau reported. After the meeting, they said it was agreed that salaries will be indexed by 17 percent in the third quarter of 1997 and by 6 percent in the last quarter. ROMANIAN INTERIOR MINISTER ENDS TRANSYLVANIAN TOUR. Ending a tour of Transylvania on 5 August, Minister of Interior Gavril Dejeu told a press conference that he found inter-ethnic Romanian- Hungarian relations to be "reasonable." But he complained that Romanian ethnics living in the countryside in counties with a Hungarian majority are being subjected to "inadmissible efforts" of assimilation, Radio Bucharest reported on 6 August. EUROPEAN UNION URGES IMPROVEMENT OF TREATMENT OF ROMAS IN ROMANIA. A European Commission official on 5 August urged Romania and other Central and Eastern European countries to crack down on discrimination and violence against their Roma minorities, the media reported on the same day. Steffen Skovmand, a member of the European Commission's delegation in Romania, said in a news conference that the situation of the Roma is "still a weak point" in Romania's record of respect of human rights and in the rest of the region. Roma rights activist Nicolae Gheorghe told reporters that Roma are subject to harassment and aggression in Central and Eastern Europe. He cited violence against Roma by "skinhead" youth gangs in the Czech Republic and Slovakia, police brutality against them in Romania and Bulgaria, and labor and education discrimination in Hungary. FIVE DIE IN ROMANIAN FLOODS. Two men trying to cross a small Romanian river in a horse-drawn cart drowned when they were swept away by a sudden torrent of water. A police spokesman said on 5 August that the accident occurred in the town of Zarnesti, 50 kilometers southwest of Brasov. Police in the eastern Danube river port of Tulcea said the bodies of three men were found in one of the tributaries of the Danube. The three were washed away by floodwater following heavy rains late last month. EVACUATION OF RUSSIAN MILITARY EQUIPMENT FROM TRANSDNIESTER POSTPONED. The evacuation of the first dispatch of Russian military equipment from the breakaway Transdniester region, scheduled for August 3, has been postponed, BASA-press reported on 4 August, citing "reliable sources" close to the Tiraspol authorities. No new date for the beginning of the evacuation was mentioned. The military convoy carrying the equipment should have transited the Moldovan territory. The breakaway region's leadership opposes the evacuation and claims ownership of the equipment. Stefan Chitac, a military adviser of Transdniester leader Igor Smirnov, told BASA-press that he knows nothing about the evacuation but noted that the problem of ownership of the assets will be the subject of separate negotiations between Transdniester and Russia. TRANSDNIESTER DECLARES ITSELF "CUSTOMS CONTROL ZONE." A decree signed on 5 August by the leader of the breakaway Transdniester region, Igor Smirnov, stipulates that the region is setting up a separate "custom control zone" on all its territory. The decree says the measure "corresponds to custom legislation and similar practice in the CIS," BASA-press reported on 5 August. The Transdniestrian custom service is headed by Igor Smirnov's son, Vladimir Smirnov. In other news, in the wake of the "motorcade incident" during which Moldovan Defense Minster Valeriu Pasat was barred from entering the territory under the separatists' control (see RFE/RL Newsline," 4 August 1997), the Joint Control Commission which oversees the truce between Chisinau and Tiraspol has ordered the commandment of the three peace-keeping forces (OSCE, Russia and Ukraine) to work out within two weeks a mechanism aimed at removing obstacles for crossing the security zone dividing the two conflicting sides. xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx Copyright (c) 1997 RFE/RL, Inc. 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