|It is easier to love humanity than to love one's neighbor. - Eric Hoffer|
RFE/RL NEWSLINE Vol. 1, No. 130, Part II, 2 October 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 * BELARUS TO RELEASE ORT JOURNALIST? * WESTENDORP SAYS PALE TV BROADCASTS MIGHT RESUME * MORE UNREST IN BELGRADE AND KOSOVO xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx EAST-CENTRAL EUROPE BELARUS TO RELEASE ORT JOURNALIST? President Alyaksandr Lukashenka says the police have completed their investigation into Russian Public Television (ORT) journalist Pavel Sheremet, Interfax reported on 1 October. Lukashenka indicated that Sheremet may be allowed to leave the Hrodna detention center, where he has been held since August, pending trial. But the same day, the Justice Ministry revoke the license of one of Sheremet's lawyers, prompting ORT's other legal adviser to resign from the case. YELTSIN BLOCKS LUKASHENKA'S VISIT TO RUSSIAN REGIONS. The Russian authorities have in effect blocked Belarusian President Lukashenka's plans to visit Lipetsk and other Russian regional capitals by denying clearance for his plane, Russian media reported 2 October. The orders reportedly came from President Boris Yeltsin himself. Yeltsin said in Nizhnii Novgorod the same day that "I am warning governors about one thing. They are forbidden to invite heads of other states without the president's permission." This is the second time Moscow has moved to block a Lukashenka visit to a Russian regional capital. Last summer, Moscow pressured Kaliningrad leaders to put off a visit by the Belarusian president. LUKASHENKA CALLS FOR BETTER CIS COOPERATION. Addressing the opening session of the CIS Inter-State Economic Committee in Minsk on 1 October, Belarusian President Lukashenka predicted that the CIS may "fall apart" within two or three years unless its policies become more effective, according to Interfax. Specifically, Lukashenka advocated more systematic implementation of decisions adopted by the CIS and the creation of new forms of economic integration such as transnational corporations, financial-industrial groups, and joint ventures. He said that the harmonious development of economic relations within the CIS is impossible without measures to ensure the smooth functioning of the four-country Customs Union and to promote free trade and a common market for goods, services, and capital. UKRAINIAN PRESIDENT READY TO SIGN ELECTION LAW, PAY PENSIONS. Leonid Kuchma will sign the new election law as soon as it reaches his desk, one of his senior aides told ITAR-TASS on 1 October. The same day, the president himself told pensioners that his government will pay all pension arrears within the next few months, Ukrainian media reported. NEARLY HALF OF ALL UKRAINIANS HAVE NO MONEY FOR FOOD. Forty-five percent of all residents of Ukraine do not have enough money to purchase basic food stuffs, according to a poll of 4,500 people carried out by the Kyiv International Institute of Sociology. Forty-nine percent said they have no problems buying enough food but lack the funds for clothing. Only one Ukrainian resident in 20 said his financial situation is stable, ITAR-TASS reported on 1 October ESTONIAN PRESIDENT SLAMS DEFENSE MINISTRY OVER MILITARY TRAGEDY. At a 1 October session of the State Defense Council, Lennart Meri criticized the Defense Ministry in connection with the tragic accident in mid-September in which 14 members of the Baltic Peacekeeping Battalion (BALTBAT) perished, ETA and BNS reported. Meri said the ministry has failed to draft legislation in accordance with government schedules, pointing out there is still no legislative framework for BALTBAT. He also criticized the government's decision to order the security police to consider bringing charges against several officers, including Major-General Johannes Kert, the commander of the defense forces. Meri has so far refused to accept Kert's resignation over the tragedy. Meanwhile, Premier Mart Siimann has threatened to step down if Meri continues to defend Kert, RFE/RL's Estonian service reported. LITHUANIAN PARLIAMENTARY CHAIRMAN DENIES KGB TIES. Vytautas Landsbergis on 1 October categorically denied having collaborated with the Soviet-era KGB, BNS reported. He was responding to press reports about a session of a parliamentary commission investigating deputies' possible ties with secret services abroad. According to the daily "Respublika," four former KGB agents told the commission they will testify in court that Landsbergis willingly cooperated with the Soviet secret service during the 1950s. "The second oldest profession of mankind, after prostitution, is false testimony," Landsbergis said in a letter from Iceland, where he is currently on an official visit. The parliamentary chairman intends to run in the December presidential elections. SOLIDARITY DECIDES ON CANDIDATE FOR PREMIER. Solidarity Electoral Action (AWS) has decided on a candidate for the post of prime minister but has not released his name to the press, PAP reported on 1 October. AWS leader Marian Krzaklewski, who has repeatedly said he does not want the job, commented that his party would "prefer an arrangement that does not involve party leaders in the government lineup." But he added that the AWS wants to control the Ministries of Internal Affairs, Treasury, and Finance and that it would like the deputy prime minister's slot to go to whichever coalition party does not have the premiership. POLAND SEEKS VOICE ON NATO NUCLEAR STRATEGY. Deputy Defense Minister Andrzej Karkoszka was quoted by "Trybuna" as saying that Poland wants to participate fully in NATO's nuclear planning committee after Poland becomes a member of the alliance. While Karkoszka repeated Polish support for NATO's current policy of not deploying nuclear weapons on the territory of new members, his remarks are likely to alarm many Russians who oppose NATO's eastward expansion. CZECH AIR FORCE HAS LOW COMBAT ABILITY. The combat ability of the Czech air force has fallen below 50 percent and the ability of its aircraft to serve for training purposes is under 45 percent, according to documents that the army's Supreme Command provided to the parliamentary Defense and Security Committee, CTK reported on 1 October. Air force commander General Ladislav Klima conceded that austerity measures in the air force, implemented since 1 September due to the lack of fuel , have been unprecedented in the history of Czechoslovak and Czech aviation. In related testimony to the committee, chief of staff Jiri Nekvasil told deputies that Soviet-era MiG 23 fighters are to be phased out of the air force and replaced by 12 Czech-made L-39 ZA aircraft. He said the air force will keep its MiG-21 fighters, which have a longer life-span than the MiG-23s. KLAUS FAVORS ABOLITION OF LAW BANNING NOMADIC LIFESTYLE. Prime Minister Vaclav Klaus told CTK on 1. October he favors a Communist Party proposal to repeal a 1958 law banning people from leading a nomadic way of life. The law, when passed was aimed primarily at the country's Roma population to ensure that they could no longer travel about the country in caravans. He says this is the first time the government had unconditionally agreed with a proposal from the Communists. Meanwhile, a member of the Canadian Council for Immigration and Refugees is in the Czech Republic on a two week fact-finding mission on the situation of Roma. MECIAR RULES OUT FOREIGN MONITORING OF SLOVAK ELECTIONS. Prime Minister Vladimir Meciar on 1 October rejected opposition demands that international observers be invited to monitor next year's parliamentary elections. Speaking on Slovak Television, Meciar said "Slovakia is not in the position of Albania, where international monitors are required for elections." He pledged that government and state institutions will not interfere in the elections. He also conceded that his party does not have sufficient support from other parties to change the law to enable elections to be held by majority vote in a single round. HUNGARY HANDS OVER MINORITY REPORT TO SLOVAKIA. Hungarian Ambassador to Slovakia Jeno Bors on 1 October presented Slovak Foreign Minister Zdenka Kramplova with a Hungarian government report comparing the status of the Slovak minority in Hungary with that of the Hungarian minority in Slovakia, TASR reported. Slovakia has repeatedly requested that Hungary draw up the comparative study. Kramplova said that although she is prepared to reschedule her postponed discussions in Hungary, originally to be held on 18 September, "the Slovak side is still waiting for adequate, matching steps by the Hungarian side that would help restore the atmosphere of mutual trust [and] enable the dialogue to continue at the level of foreign ministers." SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE WESTENDORP SAYS PALE TV BROADCASTS MIGHT RESUME... International mediator for Bosnia Carlos Westendorp on 1 October said broadcasts may still be allowed from the hard-line Bosnian Serb stronghold of Pale. He made the remarks shortly after the NATO-led stabilization force (SFOR) seized control of four television transmitters in areas controlled by Bosnian Serb hard-line supporters of indicted war crimes suspect Radovan Karadzic at Westendorp's request (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 1 October 1997). Westendorp said international officials are still considering issues related to television broadcasting in the Bosnian Serb entity. The transmitters were seized after Pale broadcast allegedly altered film footage to suggest that the war crimes tribunal at The Hague is anti- Serbian. ...WHILE DISPUTE EMERGES OVER WHO WILL BROADCAST. NATO Secretary-General Javier Solana said the transmitters will remain under the control of Bosnian Serb President Biljana Plavsic's faction. Plavsic said the seizure was justified, but she appealed in a letter to Westendorp to allow the resumption of alternating broadcasts by Pale and Banja Luka. Her chief foe, Karadzic ally Momcilo Krajisnik, warned that SFOR's seizure of the transmitters could lead to an "uncontrollable response" among the Bosnian Serb public. RUSSIA DENIES NATO'S CLAIM THAT RUSSIAN TROOPS PARTICIPATED. Russian Defense Minister Igor Sergeev, speaking in Maastricht on 1 October, said Russian troops were only present as observers when SFOR troops seized the transmitters. "Observation from two posts, and that is all the Russian peacekeepers did, can hardly be described as participation in an operation," Sergeev told reporters. MORE UNREST IN BELGRADE... For the second consecutive night, Serbian riot police on 1 October used batons to break up a peaceful Belgrade demonstration against the ouster of Zoran Djindjic, the city's first non-communist mayor in 50 years, and the editors of Studio B, an independent radio and TV station. Police made arrests and injured several people in their attack on the crowd, which was estimated at 10,000, about half the size of the crowd the previous night. Djindjic is calling for more protests on 4 October, one day before the second round of Serbia's presidential elections. ...AND IN KOSOVO. At least 30 Kosovar students required hospital treatment after Serbian riot police used tear gas to stop a peaceful march by ethnic Albanian students in Pristina on 1 October demanding the readmission of ethnic Albanians to Pristina University. Tanjug reported that "a number of organizers of the alleged student protest were detained, including self-proclaimed chancellor of the outlawed university Ejup Statovci." The Kosovo Information service says police beat Statovci and Vice Rector Ahmet Geca while detaining them. Police also detained the four leaders of the student union. Elsewhere, police used force to disperse protesters in Pec, Prizren, Gnjilane, Mitrovica, and Urosevac. They also beat and detained protesters in Decani and Djakovica. The students have called off further protests. Meanwhile, the U.S. and the EU issued a joint condemnation of the use of force by Serbian riot police against the demonstrators in Belgrade and in Kosovo (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 1 October 1997). RUGOVA CALLS FOR AN END TO PROTESTS. Kosovar leader Ibrahim Rugova later condemned the Serbian police intervention against the protesters. He said on Albanian Television that he will demand that the protests be stopped, "as they may explode into dangerous situations with serious consequences for Kosovo and the region." Rugova added that despite the violence and continuous Serbian repression, ethnic Albanians are "determined to realize their independence through peaceful means." The Serbian government later issued a statement saying the sole obstacle to implementing the 1996 agreement on reinstituting Albanian language education in Kosovo is "separatism." "Serbia will never allow the existence of a separate Albanian state of Kosovo with a separate education system and university," the government commented. ALBANIA EXPRESSES CONCERN OVER KOSOVO DEVELOPMENTS. The Albanian Foreign Ministry on 1 October said it is following with concern the latest developments in Kosovo. "The Foreign Ministry of Albania supports every movement to defend Albanian education in Kosovo, which is one of the fundamental rights of every nation," according to a statement broadcast on Albanian Television. The Foreign Ministry called on Belgrade to avoid the use of violence and repressive measures against the students and the Albanian population and to create opportunities for the free expression of their views. PRELIMINARY RESULTS OF BOSNIAN LOCAL ELECTIONS. The Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe on 1 October released the first results of the 13-14 September municipal elections. In Tuzla, the second-largest city of the Muslim-Croatian federation, the civic-oriented Joint List '97, led by Mayor Selim Beslagic and his allies, won a majority of seats, beating the ruling Muslim Party of Democratic Action (SDA). A Muslim-led coalition won in Hadzici, near Sarajevo. In Bosanski Brod, which is held by the Bosnian Serbs, the Serbian Democratic Party came in first, followed by the Bosnian branch of the Croatian Democratic Alliance. In Rogatica, which is also held by the Bosnian Serbs, a coalition of Muslim-led parties took 21 seats and three Bosnian Serbian parties won a total of 28 seats. ROMANIAN SENATOR DISCIPLINED OVER SECRET FILES PROPOSAL. The Disciplinary Commission of the National Peasant Party Christian Democratic (PNTCD) on 1 October suspended Senator Ticu Dumitrescu's membership in the party for one year . On several occasions in September, Dumitrescu criticized the party leadership for procrastination over a draft law on accessing the files of the former communist secret police. He insinuated that PNTCD chairman Ion Diaconescu, deputy chairman Nicolae Ionescu-Galbeni (who also chairs the parliament's commission supervising the Intelligence Service), and other PNTCD deputies want to block access because of their past. A Senate commission has approved an urgent debate on Dumitrescu's draft law but said the debate must await the commission's revisions to the bill. Premier Victor Ciorbea on 1 October said access to the Securitate files will be possible "within two months," RFE/RL's Bucharest bureau reported. CHISINAU-TIRASPOL NEGOTIATIONS TO TAKE PLACE IN MOSCOW. Moldovan presidential adviser Anatol Taranu says that during Russian Deputy Prime Minister Valerii Serov's visit to Chisinau on 22-23 September, it was agreed that negotiations between Chisinau and Tiraspol will take place in Moscow in the future, RFE/RL's Chisinau bureau reported on 1 October. Taranu told an RFE/RL correspondent that the first round of negotiations in Moscow will be held on 6 October. MOLDOVAN PARLIAMENT APPROVES AMENDMENT TO DEFENSE LAW. The parliament on 1 October passed an amendment to the defense law stipulating that the defense minister is appointed by the president on the premier's recommendation, Infotag reported. Under the former version of the law, the defense minister was appointed by the parliament on the president's recommendation. Grigorii Bratunov, the chairman of the parliament's Commission for National Security and Public Order, said the amendment will avert situations such as that in 1996, when former President Mircea Snegur dismissed Defense Minister Pavel Creanga without the premier's consent, triggering a constitutional crisis. In other news, Dumitru Diacov, the leader of the pro-presidential For a Prosperous and Democratic Moldova Bloc, said the government must be immediately reshuffled. He threatened to make public the names of ministers allegedly involved in corruption if there are no cabinet changes, BASA-press reported. BULGARIA CRITICIZES RUSSIA... Foreign Minister Nadezhda Mihailova on 1 October said Bulgaria is "disturbed" by Russian Foreign Minister Yevgenii Primakov's refusal to meet with her during the UN General Assembly session in New York. Upon her return from the session, Mihailova said the refusal was "indicative" of Moscow's "unwillingness or inability to use...civilized methods" in relations with other states, BTA reported. She said that "civilized countries" conduct "international relations through dialogue and at the negotiating table." ...EXPLAINS RUSSIA'S ABSENCE FROM DEFENSE CONFERENCE. Deputy Foreign Minister Stefan Tarfov on 1 October told reporters that Russia has not been invited to participate in a conference of defense ministers from southeastern Europe because the planned talks on military preparations for NATO membership would be of no interest to Moscow, Reuters reported on 1 October. He pointed out that Russia has no plans to join the organization. BTA reported that the Russian embassy in Moscow has sent a diplomatic note expressing concern over what it described as the recent Bulgarian tendency to restrict Russian participation in regional meetings. The note said that "Russia views the Balkans and southeastern Europe...as a vital sphere of its interests." The conference is due to begin on 3 October with the participation of U.S. Defense Secretary William Cohen. xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx Copyright (c) 1997 RFE/RL, Inc. 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