|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. 109, Part II, 3 September1997
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 * UKRAINIAN PRESIDENT CRITICIZES FORMER PREMIER * U.S. TROOPS IN BOSNIA RECEIVE NON-LETHAL GRENADES * FEUD INTENSIFIES IN MONTENEGRIN RULING PARTY xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx EAST-CENTRAL EUROPE UKRAINIAN PRESIDENT CRITICIZES FORMER PREMIER. Leonid Kuchma on 2 September criticized Pavlo Lazarenko for returning to the political center stage, Interfax reported. Lazarenko was removed as premier in July amid stalled reforms and corruption allegations, but he kept his parliamentary seat. He was recently elected to lead the Yednist (Unity) faction in the 450-seat parliament. Eleven members of the faction have since quit, and now the faction consists of only 20 lawmakers. Interfax quoted Kuchma as saying Lazarenko should analyze his year as prime minister. Lazarenko, meanwhile, has said the lawmakers who quit the faction were pressured to do so by members of the group who also held posts in the Kuchma administration or the government. UKRAINE TO PRIVATIZE OKEAN SHIPBUILDER. The State Property Fund on 2 September announced its plans to sell off more than two- thirds of the state-owned Okean shipbuilding company. Okean is currently building vessels for Ukraine's Black Sea steam ship fleet. In a statement issued in Kyiv, the Property Fund said the privatization plan calls for two share blocs of 26 percent each to be sold in commercial tenders. Purchasers will be able to use cash, compensation certificates, or the tradable vouchers that were issued to Ukrainians who lost savings as the result of hyperinflation. Okean's managers and plant workers will have the first chance to purchase another 10 percent of the shares. The state plans to hold a 26 percent stake, and the remainder of shares will be sold on Ukraine's stock markets or in auctions involving compensation and privatization certificates. LATVIAN ANTI-CORRUPTION UPDATE. The Prosecutor-General's Office has submitted to the parliamentary Mandate and Applications Committee its conclusions on whether 48 parliamentary deputies are abiding by the anti-corruption law, BNS reported on 2 September. The committee will present its report to the parliament within the next week. The Prosecutor-General's Office launched an investigation into the deputies at the request of the committee, which had found their names listed in the Enterprise Register in connection with various companies. Under Latvian law, parliamentary deputies and states officials are barred from holding business posts. LITHUANIA TO PRESSURE BELARUS ON READMISSION TREATY. Lithuanian President Algirdas Brazauskas has said he will put pressure on his Belarusian counterpart, Alyaksandr Lukashenka, to have a readmission treaty signed as soon as possible, BNS reported on 2 September. Brazauskas said he will discuss the issue during the summit of heads of state that begins in Vilnius on 5 September. Minister of Internal Affairs Vidmantas Ziemelis informed the president that the Belarusian border authorities are prepared to sign a readmission treaty. But according to Brazauskas, Lukashenka is under pressure from Moscow not to do so. There are currently more than 900 illegal refugees in Lithuania, most of whom are citizens of Asian and African countries. NATO TO MOVE REGIONAL HEADQUARTERS TO POLAND. NATO officials on 2 September announced that the alliance's regional headquarters responsible for northern Germany's Schleswig-Holstein state and Denmark's Jutland peninsula will be moved to Poland after Warsaw joins the Atlantic alliance. NATO press officer Thomas Schuster, speaking at the alliance's Landjut headquarters in Rendsburg, Germany, said the facilities there will be disbanded and moved to Szczecin, in northwestern Poland, in 1999. He said 84 soldiers and 11 civilians from Landjut will be affected by the transfer. POLISH DIPLOMATIC ACTIVITIES. President Aleksander Kwasniewski arrived in Portugal on 2 September for a three-day visit to include talks on Poland's bid to join the EU. Kwasniewski, who is accompanied by Foreign Minister Dariusz Rosati, will meet with Portuguese President Jorge Sampaio and Premier Antonio Guterres. Meanwhile, Polish Deputy Foreign Minister Andrzej Topik on 2 September met in Copenhagen with representatives of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe from Denmark and Switzerland. A Polish Foreign Ministry spokesman told RFE/RL that the discussions will include the situation in Bosnia, Chechnya, and what he called other trouble spots on the European continent. Poland is due to take over OSCE's chairmanship from Denmark in 1998. Switzerland chaired the OSCE last year. CZECH GOVERNMENT TO RAISE TAXES? Following a cabinet meeting on 2 September, Prime Minister Vaclav Klaus told journalists that a temporary special tax or "flood tax" may be introduced. The state budget is threatened with a deficit due to the widespread flooding in Moravia in July. A final decision on introducing special taxes has not yet been made. The 1998 draft budget is to be drawn up by the end of September. Klaus said that such a tax could be a partial solution "but certainly not the whole solution." Klaus ruled out a loan to finance the budget deficit. The cabinet has not voted on whether the 1998 budget should be drafted with a deficit or be balanced, "but the prevailing view was that it should be balanced," Klaus said. Damage caused by the flooding amount to some 60 billion crowns (around $1.8 billion). ALBRIGHT CONTINUES PRIVATE CZECH VISIT. U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright met with her Czech cousin Dagmar Simova and her husband in Prague on 2 September, CTK reported. The news agency also reported that while strolling in the center of Prague, Albright met--reportedly by chance--her Czech counterpart, Josef Zieleniec, who was drinking Coca Cola at McDonalds in the historical neighborhood of Mala Strana. The two are to meet again at the U.N General Assembly in New York in September. SLOVAK PARLIAMENT AGAIN FAILS TO DECIDE ON GAULIEDER. Government coalition deputies on 2 September again boycotted a parliamentary session that was to debate the case of deputy Frantisek Gaulieder, who was stripped of his mandate in December 1996 after he quit Prime Minister Vladimir Meciar's Movement for a Democratic Slovakia (HZDS), RFE/RL's Bratislava correspondent reported. Parliamentary chairman Ivan Gasparovic postponed indefinitely the special parliamentary session on Gaulieder's case. He said will send a letter to the members of the parliamentary Constitutional and Legal Committee, who are to decide how to cancel the session. The Constitutional Court recently ruled that Gaulieder's expulsion from the parliament was unconstitutional. Meciar on 29 August claimed Gaulieder had asked the HZDS to pay him a massive fine for leaving the parliament. Gaulieder called the accusation "a vicious lie." HUNGARIAN, FOREIGN OFFICIALS ON NATO REFERENDUM. Socialist Prime Minister Gyula Horn and Foreign Minister Laszlo Kovacs asked Socialist deputies on 2 September to persuade voters to participate in the 16 November referendum on NATO membership, Hungarian media reported. "The government has no fears of a negative result but of a potentially low turnout at the referendum," Kovacs said. Horn emphasized that there is no reasonable alternative to Euro- Atlantic integration. SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE U.S. TROOPS IN BOSNIA RECEIVE NON-LETHAL GRENADES. A Defense Department spokesman said in Washington on 2 September that U.S. SFOR troops in northern Bosnia have been issued 40mm "sponge" grenades, which are designed to knock people down but not kill them. The move came in response to recent well-organized and violent attacks on peacekeepers by Serbian civilians. The spokesman also confirmed that U.S. troops returned a transmitter near Bijeljina to Radovan Karadzic's supporters after Karadzic's spokesmen promised not to broadcast inflammatory material (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 2 September 1997). A State Department official said, however, that one cannot necessarily trust promises made by the Bosnian Serb hard-liners. Meanwhile in Pale, SFOR troops inspected Serbian special police barracks for illegal weapons. OSCE TO GO AHEAD WITH BOSNIAN LOCAL ELECTIONS. Officials of the Organization for Cooperation and Security in Europe said in Copenhagen on 2 September that the Bosnian local vote will go ahead as planned on 13 and 14 September, despite attempts by Bosnian Serb hard-liners to delay the elections. In Sarajevo, Haris Silajdzic, the Muslim co-prime minister of the joint government, criticized the failure of the Serbs to attend the latest session of the joint cabinet. He said that the Serbs have repeatedly obstructed the work of joint institutions, an RFE/RL correspondent reported from Sarajevo. Silajdzic added that the international community has been too tolerant of the Serbs' behavior. MILOSEVIC LIEUTENANT LAMBASTS PLAVSIC. Zoran Lilic, a former Yugoslav president and one of current Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic's closest aides, said in Belgrade on 2 September that Republika Srpska President Biljana Plavsic was "at the very least not serious and even irresponsible." Lilic, who is Milosevic's Socialist Party of Serbia's candidate in the upcoming Serbian presidential elections, also blasted NATO for backing Plavsic. In making such remarks about Plavsic, Lilic has come closer than anyone else around Milosevic to openly taking sides in the Bosnian Serb power struggle. U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright has urged Milosevic to "get off the fence" and support Plavsic. But mafia-like structures in Serbia close to Milosevic are closely linked to similar Bosnian Serb structures run by Plavsic's opponents. FEUD INTENSIFIES IN MONTENEGRIN RULING PARTY. Some 17 out of 45 parliamentary deputies in Podgorica belonging to the governing Democratic Socialist Party (DPS) have formed their own parliamentary club independent of the other DPS legislators, an RFE/RL correspondent reported from the Montenegrin capital on 2 September. The 17 are loyal to pro-Milosevic President Momir Bulatovic, while most of the DPS backs reform-minded Prime Minister Milo Djukanovic. The DPS has yet to split officially, but the emergence of a separate parliamentary club of Bulatovic loyalists suggests that a formal division of the DPS might not be far off. In the parliament, Bulatovic said the government is in crisis and that new legislative elections should be held as soon as possible. Djukanovic replied that there is no crisis in Montenegro and that the republic's current political problems were caused in Belgrade, not in Podgorica. CROATIAN POLICE ARREST THREE MORE SUSPECTED WAR CRIMINALS. Police officials said in Zagreb on 2 September that they have arrested Munib Suljic, Igor Mikula, and Nebojsa Hodak for war crimes. Police had earlier arrested Miro Bajramovic, who told "Feral Tribune" that he and the other three had killed dozens of innocent Serbian civilians (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 2 September 1997). Bajramovic told the Split-based weekly that he decided to reveal his story because he did not enrich himself during the war and hence has nothing to lose. The Zagreb daily "Vjesnik," which is close to the government, suggested on 3 September that Bajramovic may be lying. Meanwhile in eastern Slavonia, trains ran between Osijek and the Hungarian city of Pecs via Beli Manastir for the first time since 1991. SLOVENIAN UPDATE. The Slovenian government announced in Ljubljana on 2 September that Slovenian and Italian citizens will be able to cross their common border with only identity cards as of 8 September. It is the latest sign of a warming in relations between the two neighbors, who have often been at odds over territorial questions and issues regarding ethnic minority rights. In Maribor, Slovenian police said that they have recovered $1 million in jewels stolen in Austria in late August. ALBANIAN PARLIAMENT PASSES LAW ON STATE RADIO, TV. The Socialist-led governing coalition on 2 September passed a law defining the status of state radio and television (RTSH), "Dita Informacion" reported. The law stipulates that "RTSH will broadcast short news items about the president, the government, the governing coalition, and the opposition and will give alternative opinions when covering any given issue." The Democratic Party strongly criticized the law as too vague and demanded that the opposition be allotted a specific percentage of total news air time. Democratic spokesman Genc Pollo said the air time given to each of the political parties should be divided according to the percentage of the vote they received in last elections. Such a policy was adopted during the election campaign but left no time for journalists to broadcast their own analysis. Former parliamentary speaker Pjeter Arbnori, meanwhile, began the 14th day of his hunger strike in support of the Democrats' demand. CONTROVERSY CONTINUES OVER ALBANIAN JUDICIAL REFORM. Chief judges from courts at all levels told Justice Minister Thimio Kondi on 2 September that the government's recent proposals to change the composition of the High Judicial Council are unacceptable to the judiciary (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 27 August 1997), "Dita Informacion" reported. Supreme Court Chief Judge Avni Shehu said the proposals are not in keeping with those made by the Council of Europe. A U.S. legal expert told RFE/RL that Kondi's proposals would allow the legislative and executive branches to appoint most of the High Judicial Council's members, which could endanger the independence of the judiciary. The council appoints most of Albania's judges. ROMANIA TO RECEIVE $83 MILLION IMF TRANCHE? The IMF representative in Bucharest said he expects the fund's board of directors to approve disbursement of an $83 million tranche of a $414 million stand-by loan later this month, RFE/RL's Washington bureau reported on 2 September. Bloomberg Business News quoted him as saying that Bucharest had followed through on its reform promises. An IMF team was in Bucharest in August to review the government's reform program. Romania has promised to cut its budget deficit, reduce inflation, and liberalize prices for food staples and energy. It also agreed to close many of its money-losing state firms, which are draining the state budget. STANDOFF BETWEEN CHISINAU, TIRASPOL. Igor Smirnov, the president of the self-proclaimed Transdniestr Republic, marked the seventh anniversary of Tiraspol's declaration of independence from Moldova by vowing to stand firm on independent statehood, Infotag reported on 2 September. Smirnov said Tiraspol intends to seek membership in the CIS and strengthen its ties with CIS countries. Also on 2 September, Moldovan President Petru Luchinschi said he hopes Chisinau's dispute with Tiraspol can be resolved by the end of this year with the mediation of Russia, Ukraine, and the OSCE. But Luchinschi said negotiations are advancing slowly because of Tiraspol's insistence on preserving its own statehood. Talks are under way on bringing Ukrainian peacekeepers to the breakaway region. Some 5,000 Russian troops are currently stationed there. BULGARIAN FOREIGN MINISTER RESPONDS TO ATHENS STATEMENT. Nadezhda Mihailova told RFE/RL on 2 September that a statement attributed to Greek President Kostas Stephanopoulos by a Skopje newspaper will not influence relations between Sofia and the Republic of Macedonia. "Nova Makedonia" on 2 September quoted Stephanopoulos as telling its Athens correspondent that "those who inhabit the so-called state of Skopje are not Macedonians..., they are Bulgarians." In an interview with RFE/RL's Sofia bureau, Mihailova said the Bulgarian government continues to have common objectives with both Athens and Skopje. She said those goals are consistent with EU and NATO policies designed to bring peace and economic stability to the Balkans. TRANSPORT LINKS BETWEEN EUROPE, CENTRAL ASIA. Officials from nine countries have moved forward with plans to implement the TRASECA scheme for a transport corridor, RFE/RL's Sofia bureau reported on 2 September. Following two days of talks at Bulgaria's Black Sea port of Burgas, the officials signed a document outlining their common interests and details of the project. Among the signatories were the transportation ministers of the Republic of Macedonia, Bulgaria, Turkey and Georgia, as well as delegates from Albania, Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan. Georgia and Bulgaria have appealed for international investors to help fund the project, which already receives financial support from the U.S. and the EU. The plans call for expanded ferry services between Italy and Albania, a new ferry line between Burgas and Georgia's Black Sea port of Poti, and new highway links across the countries. xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx Copyright (c) 1997 RFE/RL, Inc. 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