|Fear of life in one form or another is the great thing to exorcise. - William James|
RFE/RL NEWSLINE Vol. 1, No. 125, Part II, 25 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 ECONOMIC NEWS from this week's annual meeting of the IMF and World Bank is online at RFE/RL's Web site: http://www.rferl.org/nca/special/imfmeeting/index.html xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx Headlines, Part II * OFFICIAL RESULTS CONFIRM SOLIDARITY ELECTION VICTORY * PLAVSIC, KRAJISNIK AGREE WITH MILOSEVIC TO RESOLVE DISPUTE * FINAL RESULTS OF SERBIAN PARLIAMENTARY ELECTIONS xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx EAST-CENTRAL EUROPE OFFICIAL RESULTS CONFIRM SOLIDARITY ELECTION VICTORY. The State Electoral Commission has released the official figures for the 21 September parliamentary elections, PAP reported on 25 September. Solidarity Electoral Action (AWS) won 33.83 percent of the vote, the Democratic Left Alliance (SLD) 27.13 percent, the Freedom Union 13.37 percent, the Peasant Party 7.31 percent, and the Movement for Renovation of Poland 5.56 percent. No other party met the 5 percent threshold for entry to the parliament. Turnout was 48 percent. The AWS and the Freedom Union are currently holding initial talks on a possible coalition to succeed the current SLD government. SOLIDARITY ASKS OUTGOING GOVERNMENT TO DELAY ARMS DEAL. AWS leader Marian Krzaklewski has called on the current government to delay proceeding with an arms deal, PAP reported on 25 September. Warsaw had agreed to purchase arms from Israel, but the U.S. lobbied hard for several American companies. Given the AWS's victory in the parliamentary elections, Krzaklewski's appeal suggests the issue is once again far from resolved. UKRAINIAN PARLIAMENT APPROVES NEW ELECTION LAW. Following months of controversy, the parliament has approved legislation whereby half of its 450 seats will be filled by ballots cast in single-member districts and the other half by voting for party lists, Ukrainian media reported on 24 September. President Leonid Kuchma has opposed party list voting, arguing it would strengthen some of the most organized parties. His spokesman said, however, that Kuchma will sign the new legislation. ORTHODOX PATRIARCHS CALL FOR CHURCH UNITY IN UKRAINE. Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholemew of Constantinople and Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia Aleksii II said in Odessa on 24 September that "separations and divisions in the Church result in extensive damage." The two noted that "we must do everything possible to heal these wounds on the Church's body as soon as possible," according to ITAR-TASS. Observers say their comments are directed at the very divided Orthodox Church in Ukraine. Several days earlier, Aleksii made remarks that sparked a storm of protest from Ukrainian Church leaders (see RFE/RL Newsline, 22 September 97). The two patriarchs are in Odessa to participate in the international symposium on "Religion, Science, and Environment." ESTONIA, RUSSIA FAIL TO CONCLUDE BORDER TALKS. Estonian and Russian delegations, meeting in Moscow on 23-24 September, failed to conclude negotiations on defining the countries' common border, ETA reported. This latest round of talks was intended to coordinate maps and documents accompanying the final agreement. A spokeswoman for the Estonian Foreign Ministry commented that the meeting was not "entirely without results." She added it was "too early" to predict how many further rounds of border talks will be necessary. Estonian Ambassador to Moscow Mart Helme told BNS that Russia is focusing on "time-consuming minor details" that are hampering finalization of the agreement. A political agreement on a border treaty was reached last November. ESTONIA AMENDS IMMIGRATION LAW. The parliament has amended the immigration law to increase the rights of temporary residence permit-holders, ETA reported on 24 September. The amendments, which were proposed by the government, seek to ensure that those permit-holders enjoy rights similar to those granted to people with permanent residency. Law-abiding foreigners who applied for temporary residence permits before 12 July 1995 may apply for a permanent resident permit beginning 12 July next year. The amendments also eliminate quotas for the number of immigrants from the EU, Norway, Iceland, and Switzerland. Restrictions on the number of immigrants from other countries remain in force. LATVIAN COALITION PARTIES PLEDGE STRICTER DISCIPLINE. Leaders of the ruling coalition parties have signed an amended cooperation agreement aimed at increasing discipline within the coalition, Interfax reported on 24 September. Prime Minister Guntars Krasts recently warned party leaders that if they did not agree to the amendments, he would reduce the number of portfolios for parties that failed to honor the accord. Under the amended agreement, deputies from the coalition parties will not support opposition demands for extraordinary parliamentary sessions or amendments to the budget or tax code unless those demands concur with the position of the governmental Cooperation Council. Deputies from Latvia's Way and the Democratic Party Saimnieks have recently supported several opposition demands. CZECH SENATE APPROVES LAW ON AGRICULTURE. The Czech Senate on 24 September approved a new agriculture law containing measures to support farmers and protect the country's agricultural markets. But the Senate returned to the lower house an amendment to the trade law after inserting a clause regulating taxi services in Prague. In addition, the Senate repealed a paragraph of the criminal code whereby slandering the president carries a sentence of up to two years in prison, CTK reported. SLOVAK DIPLOMAT ACCUSES HUNGARY OF VIOLATING BILATERAL TREATY. Jozef Sestak, state secretary at the Foreign Ministry, has said that while Slovakia is interested in good relations with Hungary, both sides must respect "certain principles". He told Slovakia's independent news agency SITA on 24 September that Hungary is violating two articles of the basic treaty between Bratislava and Budapest. He noted that Article 21 says disputed issues should be resolved through negotiation not through "internationalization" and that Article 6 provides for the two countries to support each other in Euro-Atlantic integration. He says Hungary violated that clause during the recent meeting of the Central European Free Trade Agreement at Protoroz, in Croatia. HAGUE COURT RULES ON GABCIKOVO-NAGYMAROS DISPUTE. The International Court of Justice in the Hague has ruled that Hungary broke international law by abandoning a 1977 agreement with Slovakia to build the Gabcikovo-Nagymaros system of dams and hydroelectric power stations on the Danube River. But the court also said that the former Czechoslovakia, was also wrong in pressing ahead with the project and diverting the waters of the Danube from Hungary into Slovakia. According to the court, Hungary was not entitled to suspend and subsequently abandon in 1989 its part of the work on the hydropower project, a court spokesman told reporters. The court obligated the two countries to take all necessary measures to ensure the implementation of the 1977 accord. HUNGARIAN PREMIER'S "FLOATING" PRESS CONFERENCE. Speaking at a traditional annual press conference on a boat on the Danube River, Gyula Horn said on 24 September that he has not yet decided whether to run for another term as premier. He said he disagreed with the opposition's stance that progress in relations between Hungary and neighboring countries is possible only if the conditions of ethnic Hungarians living there improve. He said that if good neighborly relations do not exist, the Hungarian government can do nothing for Hungarians abroad. Also on 24 September, Horn told representatives of the National Gypsy Minority Authority that he favors increasing minority representation in the parliament, provided they have sufficient electoral support. Horn said the threshold for a seat representing a minority should be 5,000 votes. AGREEMENT BETWEEN HUNGARIAN OPPOSITION PARTIES? Citing "confidential sources," the daily "Magyar Hirlap" reported on 25 September that Viktor Orban, the leader of the Alliance of Young Democrats (FIDESZ) and Sandor Lezsak, chairman of the Democratic Forum, have reached an agreement on cooperation in the 1998 elections. The agreement reportedly stipulates that both formations field candidates in 116 of the 176 constituencies. FIDESZ candidates will run unopposed by the Democratic Forum in 40 constituencies, while the Democratic Forum will have no FIDESZ competition in 20 electoral districts. The two leaders also agreed that in constituencies contested by both parties, the candidate better placed in the first round of the elections will be supported by both formations in the second round. SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE PLAVSIC, KRAJISNIK AGREE WITH MILOSEVIC TO RESOLVE DISPUTE. Yugoslav President SlobodanMilosevic, who is mediating the Bosnian Serb power struggle, met with Bosnian Serb President Biljana Plavsic and Momcilo Krajisnik, her hard-line opponent and the Bosnian Serb member of Bosnia's tripartite presidency, in Belgrade on 24 September. They agreed to hold parliamentary elections in the Bosnian Serb entity on 15 November under the supervision of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe. Elections for Plavsic's and Krajisnik's posts will be held on 7 December. They also agreed on dividing air time on state television: one side will air its views one day and the other the next day. Plavsic said the deal will help bring a democratic resolution to their power struggle. Krajisnik commented that the deal is a political compromise that preserves a united Republika Srpska while "letting the people decide" whose policies will prevail. FINAL RESULTS OF SERBIAN PARLIAMENTARY ELECTIONS. In the 21 September elections to the parliament, Yugoslav President Milosevic's leftist alliance won 110 mandates in the 250-seat parliament. Vojislav Seselj's ultranationalist Serbian Radical Party collected 81 mandates and Vuk Draskovic's Serbian Renewal Movement 46. The Vojvojdina Coalition and the Union of Vojvojdina Hungarians will each have four seats, the List for Sandzak three, and the Presevo-Bujanovac Coalition and the Democratic Alternative one each. CONTACT GROUP EXPRESSES CONCERN ON KOSOVO... In a statement issued during the UN General Assembly session on 24 September, the foreign ministers of Russia, the U.S., Germany, France, Italy, and Britain expressed serious concern about tensions in Kosovo. The six- nation Contact Group urged authorities in Belgrade and Kosovo's Albanian community to join a peaceful dialogue and create conditions for Kosovar refugees to return home. The statement warned against the use of violence to press political demands and urged all sides to exercise maximum restraint. The six foreign ministers reiterated their opposition to independence for Kosovo and instead called on Belgrade to enhance Kosovo's status within the Yugoslav federation by fully protecting the rights of the Albanian population. ...AGREES TO IMPOSE SANCTIONS ON BOSNIA. The Contact Group also agreed to impose tougher sanctions against Bosnian ethnic factions that fail to uphold the provisions of the Dayton Peace Accords. It called on all ethnic groups to comply with the accords, saying those blocking implementation will be subject to increasingly strong measures. It condemned continuing misuse of the news media to spread inflammatory messages and disinformation. It further stressed the importance of installing the new municipal governments recently elected and allowing the winners to take office. NATO AGREES TO DELAY START OF WITHDRAWAL OF SFOR. NATO ambassadors, meeting in Brussels on 24 September, postponed a decision on when to start withdrawing the 35,000-strong NATO-led Stabilization Force (SFOR). The withdrawal is due to be completed by mid-1998. A decision on reducing SFOR troops is not expected before a meeting of NATO foreign ministers in December. BOSNIAN CROATS AGREE TO JOINT INVESTIGATION INTO MOSTAR BOMBING. A spokesman for the international community's high representative in Bosnia Carlos Westendorp said on 24 September that Bosnian Croat leaders have agreed to conduct a joint investigation with officials from the Muslim-Croat federation into the 18 September car bomb explosion that injured 30 people in the divided city of Mostar. Bosnian President Alia Izetbegovic had demanded a joint investigation. CROATIAN FOREIGN MINISTER CRITICIZES WASHINGTON. Mate Granic has said that U.S. pressure on Zagreb to accelerate implementation of the peace process in eastern Slavonia is "completely unnecessary and unjustified." Speaking in New York to Croatian television on 24 September, Granic commented that "everything can be resolved through dialogue, not through pressure." Meanwhile, on his return to Ankara from Zagreb on 24 September, President Suleyman Demirel told Turkish Television that during his visit to Croatia, an agreement on the prevention of double taxation and an agricultural protocol were signed. He also said a bilateral free trade agreement will be signed shortly. ROMANIAN PRESIDENT ON CORRUPTION. Emil Constantinescu told journalists on 24 September that corruption has depleted the country's national wealth. He said that although the government won the elections in 1996, economic power is still largely in the hands of people involved in illicit dealings. The former government of Nicolae Vacaroiu condoned corruption and some of its members, including deputy ministers, were personally involved in illegal dealing, he added. Constantinescu spoke at length on illegal dealings in the merchant fleet, the fertilizer industry, and petrol and refineries import-export companies. He said the former government allowed tens of thousands of tons of fuel to be smuggled to rump Yugoslavia, RFE/RL's Bucharest bureau reported. PRIVATIZATION DEALS IN ROMANIA. The State Ownership Fund (FPS) has agreed to sell the South Korean Samsung company 51 percent of the shares in the steel producer Otelinox, an RFE/RL correspondent in Bucharest reported on 25 September. The previous day, FPS director Sorin Dimitriu told RFE/RL that a 51 percent stake in Romcim, the country's largest cement producer, has been sold to the French company Lafarge for $400 million. Lafarge pledged to invest $200 million in Romcim over the next four years. TRANSDNIESTRIAN LEADER ON RUSSIAN HELICOPTER INCIDENT. Igor Smirnov on 24 September said the incident last week in which a Russian helicopter was fired on by Transdniestrian soldiers (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 22 September 1997) was caused by "drunk soldiers" who "were guarding the harvest." Smirnov said the culprits will be put on trial, "not for shooting at the helicopter but for the unallowed use of weapons," Infotag reported. PRO-PRESIDENTIAL POLITICAL BLOC FORMED IN MOLDOVA. The pro- presidential Movement for a Democratic and Prosperous Moldova on 24 September joined forces with three other organizations to form the Bloc for a Democratic and Prosperous Moldova, Infotag reported. The three organizations are the Popular Democratic Party, the New Forces movement, and the National Youth League. The bloc defines itself as centrist. BULGARIA'S ZHIVKOV HOLD PRESS CONFERENCE. Speaking to journalists in Sofia six days after his release from house arrest, Todor Zhivkov denied Bulgaria was involved in the 1981 assassination attempt against Pope John Paul II. He also said the Bulgarian secret services had not been involved in the 1978 assassination of journalist Georgi Markov. Zhivkov is currently under investigation for allegedly channeling millions of U.S. dollars to pro-communist movements in Third World countries and for initiating the compulsory assimilation of ethnic Turks in the 1980s. He argued that the investigation should be halted, noting that the country's new constitution strictly limits legal actions against past presidents, RFE/RL's Sofia bureau reported on 24 September. BULGARIAN VETERAN DIPLOMATS TO BE DISMISSED. Foreign Ministry spokesman Radko Vlaikov on 24 September said the ministry will dismiss veteran diplomats to make room for younger staff who would better present the country's new foreign policy objectives, Reuters reported. He said the measure did not represent "political sackings" since it was part of the reform of the ministry, which is to undergo a 10 percent cut in personnel. BULGARIAN PREMIER INVITES CHERNOMYRDIN TO VISIT. Ivan Kostov on 24 September invited Russian Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin to pay an official visit to Bulgaria, RFE/RL's Sofia bureau reported. The message said the two countries are "strategic partners" and that Bulgaria wants to seek to reach agreement on the "remaining unsolved problems in bilateral trade and economic relations." The invitation comes against the background of differences between the two governments over the cost of Russian natural gas deliveries to Bulgaria. xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx Copyright (c) 1997 RFE/RL, Inc. 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