|The only certainty is that nothing is certain. - Pliny the Elder|
RFE/RL NEWSLINE Vol. 1, No. 120, Part II, 18 September 1997
A daily report of developments in Eastern and Southeastern Europe, Russia, the Caucasus and Central Asia prepared by the staff of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty. This is Part II, a compilation of news concerning Central, Eastern, and Southeastern Europe. Part I covers Russia, Transcaucasia and Central Asia and is distributed simultaneously as a second document. Back issues of RFE/RL NewsLine and the OMRI Daily Digest are online at RFE/RL's Web site: http://www.rferl.org/newsline xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx Headlines, Part II *SLOVAKIA ACCUSES HUNGARY OF ANTI-SLOVAK CAMPAIGN *TWELVE KILLED IN BOSNIAN HELICOPTER CRASH *U.S. SUPPORTS DECISION NOT TO DISQUALIFY KARADZIC'S PARTY xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx EAST-CENTRAL EUROPE UKRAINIAN PRESIDENT AGAIN FACES IMPEACHMENT BID. A group of deputies on 17 September launched a campaign to initiate impeachment proceedings against Leonid Kuchma, whom they accuse of compromising Ukraine's independence. Members of the Ukrainian Republican Party and an informal grouping of lawmakers called Nation and State signed the resolution calling for Kuchma's ouster. They point to deals with Russia on the division of the former Soviet Black Sea fleet as compromising the country's independence. Some two weeks earlier, a parliamentary committee urged Kuchma's impeachment over his refusal to sign a law on local government after lawmakers had twice overruled his veto. Observers say this latest impeachment bid is unlikely to succeed. DAEWOO SIGNS DEAL WITH UKRAINIAN CAR PLANT. South Korea's Daewoo Group on 17 September signed a deal creating a joint venture with Ukrainian car maker Avtozaz. The venture, which will also involve the U.S. company General Motors, is to produce 255,000 cars a year, half of which will be for export and the other half for the domestic market. Some $1.3 billion will be invested over the next six years to modernize the Avtozaz plant in Zaporizhia, increase production capacity, and build a sales and service network in Ukraine. An Avtozaz official told the Interfax-Ukraine news agency that Daewoo will put up half of the venture's $300 million starting capital, and the 85 percent state-owned Avtozaz will offer the other half in property. The Daewoo Corp. also has factories in Poland, Romania, and the Czech Republic. ESTONIAN DEFENSE MINISTER RETAINS POST FOR NOW. Prime Minister Mart Siimann has said that Defense Minister Andrus Oovel and commander of the armed forces Johannes Kert will remain in office for the time being, ETA and BNS reported on 17 September. Siimann was speaking after a meeting of the National Defense Council, convened to discuss Oovel's and Kert's tendered resignations over the deaths of 14 soldiers during maneuvers off Estonia's northwestern coast. The premier said that no decision on the resignations will be taken until the government commission investigating the accident has reported its findings on 29 September. LATVIAN PREMIER TO SUPERVISE EUROPEAN INTEGRATION BUREAU. Guntars Krasts has announced he will supervise the work of the European Integration Bureau, whose task is to coordinate the activities of the various agencies involved in country's bid to join the EU. The previous head of the bureau was a cabinet representative with the rank of minister-envoy, a post that Krasts eliminated when he became premier in July. An adviser to Krasts said the prime minister was "very disappointed over the negative assessment by the European Commission" and had decided to raise the status of the bureau, ITAR-TASS reported. The European Commission did not include Latvia among those countries it recommended to begin talks on EU membership. In other news, the government has approved a balanced budget for 1998. The draft predicts that GDP will grow by 5 percent. LITHUANIA TO BOOST BORDER SECURITY. Deputy Minister of Internal Affairs Romas Kilikauskas has said that security on Lithuania's state borders will be increased significantly next year, BNS reported on 17 September. He noted that significantly more funds will be requested for that purpose and that the number of draftees serving on the border will be reduced by 20 percent each year. Kilikauskas also stressed that demarcation of the country's frontiers is a top priority, commenting that "we cannot speak of violations of the border if the border is unmarked." PARLIAMENT COMMISSION TO INVESTIGATE KGB ALLEGATIONS AGAINST LANDSBERGIS. BNS reported on 17 September that a parliamentary commission set up to examine whether deputies had ties with foreign secret services will investigate allegations that parliamentary speaker Vytautas Landsbergis cooperated with the Soviet-era KGB. The allegations were made in a book by former KGB General Vyacheslav Shironin, who maintained that Landsbergis offered to provide the KGB with information in return for permission to visit his father abroad. Landsbergis has confirmed he asked the KGB for a travel permit, but he says he withdrew his request when the KGB demanded information in exchange for the permit. Algimantas Sejunas, the chairman of the commission, noted that Shironin's book contains "many mistakes and nothing new" but added that the commission wants nonetheless to check the allegations. POLISH PREMIER SAYS WEST WORRIED ABOUT SOLIDARITY VICTORY. Wlodzmierz Cimoszewicz on 17 September told private Radio Zet said that Western confidence in the Polish economy would be damaged if the Solidarity-led opposition won the 21 September parliamentary elections. Citing what he said were intelligence sources, Cimoszewicz said there is concern in the West that a Solidarity-led government would undermine reform efforts. Also on 17 September, the government's press office announced that Health Minister, Jacek Zochowski, had died, aged 56, following a long battle with cancer. He had served as health minister since 1993. CZECH, SLOVAK ARMY CHIEFS-OF-STAFF MEET. At a meeting in Trencianske Teplice, Slovakia, on 17 September, the Czech and Slovak army chiefs-of-staff agreed on a schedule for joint military exercises in 1998. The Czech Republic's Jiri Nekvasil and Slovakia's Jozef Tuchyna told journalists that the two armies will conduct 43 joint exercises next year. Tuchyna said the idea of creating a joint Czech- Slovak unit was rejected as unnecessary. SLOVAK GOVERNMENT ON EU REPORT. The government on 17 September announced that a parliamentary committee for monitoring the secret service will be set up and that opposition deputies will be represented on the commission. The move is being taken to comply with the political criteria set for Slovakia's invitation to EU entry talks. The government also announced it will prepare a bill on the protection of languages of ethnic minorities and reopen political dialogue with the opposition, Slovak media reported. A report released by the European Commission in July did not recommend Slovakia as a candidate for the first round of talks on EU membership, saying Slovakia had failed to meet political criteria laid down by the EU 1993 Copenhagen summit. The government said it "considered the report unbalanced." But it added that Slovakia is seeking entry to the union and must therefore accept all EU objections. SLOVAKIA ACCUSES HUNGARY OF ANTI-SLOVAK CAMPAIGN. The Slovak government has accused Hungary of conducting a campaign to discredit Slovakia. The Slovak Foreign Ministry on 17 September issued a statement saying it had summoned Hungarian ambassador to Bratislava Jeno Boros to hand him a note protesting the "broad and intensive discrediting campaign" against Slovakia. A meeting between Slovak Foreign Minister Zdenka Kramplova and her Hungarian counterpart, Laszlo Kovacs, scheduled for 20 September has been canceled. Relations between the two countries deteriorated sharply after Hungarian Prime Minister Gyula Horn accused his Slovak counterpart, Vladimir Meciar, of having proposed Slovakia's 600,000-strong Hungarian minority return to Hungary. Meciar says he merely noted that those ethnic Hungarians who want to return to Hungary should be allowed to do so. HUNGARY RESPONDS TO SLOVAK CRITICISM. The Hungarian Foreign Ministry on 17 September said it accepts "with regret" Bratislava's decision to cancel the planned meeting of the two countries' foreign ministers. The ministry said the arguments listed in the diplomatic note were "untrue and absurd." Hungarian Foreign Minister Laszlo Kovacs said as far as Hungary is concerned, the invitation to Kramplova still stands. He said Budapest sees no reason to make a unilateral gesture, still less to apologize, as demanded in the diplomatic note. The same day, the Slovak Foreign Minister Kramplova rejected the statement by the Hungarian parliament that the Slovak government was suffering from an "inferiority complex." SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE TWELVE KILLED IN BOSNIAN HELICOPTER CRASH. NATO peacekeepers on 18 September began to recover the bodies of 12 people killed when a UN helicopter crashed the previous day into a remote mountain in central Bosnia in heavy fog. The helicopter's four-man Ukrainian crew survived the crash. Among the dead are German diplomat Gerd Wagner, who was a deputy to Carlos Westendorp, the international community's chief representative in Bosnia. Westendorp said that Wagner was one of many dedicated foreigners who had sacrificed much time and effort to help bring peace to Bosnia. U.S. SUPPORTS DECISION NOT TO DISQUALIFY KARADZIC'S PARTY. A State Department spokesman said on 17 September that Washington "strongly supports" the decision by U.S. envoy Robert Frowick not to disqualify Radovan Karadzic's Serbian Democratic Party (SDS) from the ballot in Pale in the 13-14 September local elections (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 17 September 1997). The spokesman stressed that any move to disqualify the SDS should have been made well before the elections and not afterward, as a court tried to do. To ban the SDS from the ballot after the elections, the spokesman continued, would disenfranchise voters who cast their ballots for that party. Meanwhile in Sarajevo, two legal advisers to the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, which organized the elections, resigned to protest Frowick's decision. MORE ARRESTS ON CORRUPTION CHARGES IN CROATIA. Police officials announced in Zagreb on 17 September the arrests of seven military men and four civilians for involvement in an auto theft ring, an RFE/RL correspondent reported from the Croatian capital. The gang operated both in Croatia and in Bosnia, where car-theft is particularly lucrative business. In related news, the Croatian government on 16 September identified Petar Petric and Sretan Juric as the two top officials in the Economics Ministry arrested on 13 September for corruption (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 16 September 1997). The government said that the two had accepted a bribe of $90,000 from a businessman in return for offering to sell to the public $1.3 million worth of unspecified goods from state reserves. The businessman tipped off police, who then arrested the two officials. NEWS FROM FORMER YUGOSLAVIA. In Zagreb, Development Minister Jure Radic on 17 September told Metropolitan Jovan Pavlovic, the head of the Serbian Orthodox Church in Croatia, that the Church will get back all its property that the Communists nationalized 50 years ago. Across Serbia, campaigning is coming to an end for the presidential and legislative elections slated for 21 September. Police have recently used force against demonstrators opposed to Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic in Cacak, Kraljevo, and Nis, an RFE/RL correspondent reported from Belgrade on 17 September. Some 2,500 candidates will compete for 250 parliamentary seats, but most of the Serbian opposition and all ethnic Albanian parties are boycotting the vote. Leading presidential candidates are Milosevic aide Zoran Lilic, ultra-nationalist Vojislav Seselj, and opposition figure Vuk Draskovic. MACEDONIAN MAYOR JAILED FOR SPREADING ETHNIC HATRED. A court in Skopje sentenced Rufi Osmani, the ethnic Albanian mayor of Gostivar, to 13 years and 8 months in jail for "fanning national, racial, and ethnic intolerance, inciting rebellion, and disregarding [the decisions of] the Constitutional Court." The Skopje court also sentenced Gostivar City Council President Refik Dauti to three years in jail. Osmani had allowed Albanian and Turkish flags to fly from the town hall in July after the court ruled that only the Macedonian flag could be flown from public buildings under most circumstances. Violent protests ensued when the Macedonian authorities ordered the flags taken down. Ethnic Albanians make up 23 percent of Macedonia's population. ALBANIA SAYS SERBIA MUST TALK TO KOSOVARS. Foreign Minister Pascal Milo said in Tirana on 17 September that Serbian officials must speak directly to representatives of the Kosovar Albanians and not expect the Albanian government to act as an intermediary. Milo was responding to speculation in the media that his upcoming talks in New York with Yugoslav Foreign Minister Milan Milutinovic will center on Kosovo. Meanwhile, the parliament passed an amendment to the press law in order to guarantee the opposition access to the state-run media (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 9 September 1997). ALBANIAN ELECTRIC POWER COMPANY FACES HUGE LOSSES. The state owned-electric power company faces a deficit of $ 43 million due to unpaid bills, "Dita Informacion" reported on 17 September. Robert Lalo, the company's investment director, told "Dita Informacion" that government funds for modernizing the outdated grid have been withheld for the last three months, which could endanger the winter power supply to the north. The World Bank is currently preparing a $50 million loan to upgrade five hydroelectric power plants. Lalo, however, indicated that Albania may soon have to import electricity. ROMANIA TO CHANGE INVESTMENT LAW. The government on 17 September decided to submit a new draft law on foreign investment that would put foreign and local investors on an equal footing, RFE/RL's Bucharest bureau reported. Since June, foreign investment has been regulated by a government ordinance that amended the 1991 law on foreign investment. Local investors and several parties in the ruling coalition protested what they considered to be discriminatory provisions in the amended law. The new law will be drafted by 20 October, coalition leaders said. Until then, the government ordinance remains in force. ROMANIA CALLS FOR COOPERATION AGAINST ORGANIZED CRIME. Addressing a three-day conference in Bucharest on crime in the Balkans and the Black Sea region, Calin Mateescu, head of the Romanian police unit for combating organized crime and corruption, urged East European countries to set up a regional body to combat the growth in organized crime. Mateescu said drugs and arms smuggling, money laundering, prostitution, and terrorism are spreading rapidly through the region. He also complained of the lack of a legal framework and a shortage of specialists and equipment to prevent crime, Reuters reported on 17 September. MOLDOVAN PREMIER MAKES CASE FOR FOREIGN INVESTMENT. Speaking at an international investors' forum in Chisinau on 17 September, Ion Ciubuc said that Moldova has passed legislation to facilitate foreign investment. He also pointed to the country's low rate of inflation and stable national currency, legislation on the protection of private property, and Moldova's location at the crossroads between Eastern Europe and the CIS. Ciubuc noted that in 1996, the private sector accounted for 50 percent of GDP and that 60 percent of the country's industry has already been privatized, Infotag reported. MOLDOVAN OPPOSITION DIVIDED. Valeriu Matei, the leader of the Party of Democratic Forces (PFD), has denied that his party intends to set up an alliance with the pro-presidential For a Democratic and Prosperous Moldova (PMDP). Matei told journalists in Chisinau on 17 September that, despite the understanding reached between the PFD and the Democratic Convention of Romania (CDM) to refrain from mutual attacks, CDM leaders continue to accuse the PFD of obstructing the formation of a right-wing alliance and of serving the interests of the Left. Matei said those "absurd accusations" rule out the possibility of an agreement with the CDM. He said the PFD will continue negotiations with the Liberal Party and the National Peasant Party on running joint lists in the 1998 parliamentary elections, RFE/RL's Chisinau bureau reported. IMF EXPERT SAYS BULGARIA'S REFORMS "ON TRACK." Anne McGuirk, the IMF mission chief in Sofia, says economic reforms "appear to be on track" for Bulgaria. In an interview with "Bloomberg Financial News," McGuirk said she did not anticipate problems when an IMF review team arrives in Bulgaria in October to recommend whether Sofia should receive the next installment of a $647 million loan aimed at helping the transition to a market economy. McGuirk said Bulgaria's budget is now in better condition than had been expected several months ago. She recommended that proposed tax privileges for foreign investors be included in new tax legislation rather than a new foreign investment law. A proposed foreign investment law under consideration by the parliament calls for foreigners who invest more than $5 million to receive a 50 percent tax exemption for 10 years. BULGARIAN BANK RECEIVES CYPRIOT OFFSHORE LICENSE. The National Bank of Cyprus on 17 September announced it has granted the First Investment Bank of Bulgaria an offshore banking license, dpa reported. The Arab Bank PLC of Jordan has also received a license permitting it to participate in the $2 billion offshore Cypriot market. In other news, five Bulgarian local branch bankers and four currency dealers who worked for brokerage houses went on trial in Plodviv on charges of embezzling and illegally channeling abroad the equivalent of $6.3 million in state funds and depositors' savings. A prosecutor said that in 1994-1995, the defendants transferred money of unknown origin to 11 firms in Austria, Hong Kong, and Dubai, an RFE/RL corespondent in Sofia reported. xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx Copyright (c) 1997 RFE/RL, Inc. 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