|When we can begin to take our failures non-seriously, it means we are ceasing to be afraid of them. It is of immense importance to learn to laugh at ourselves. - Katherine Mansfield|
RFE/RL NEWSLINE Vol. 1, No. 132, Part II, 6 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 * ORT JOURNALIST TO BE RELEASED IN BELARUS * BOSNIAN CROAT WAR CRIMES SUSPECTS LEAVE FOR HAGUE * SERBIAN RUNOFF FAILS TO ATTRACT A MAJORITY OF VOTERS xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx EAST-CENTRAL EUROPE ORT JOURNALIST TO BE RELEASED IN BELARUS. Belarusian President Alyaksandr Lukashenka said on 4 October that he has ordered the release of Russian Public Television (ORT) journalist Pavel Sheremet once the investigation into his case is completed on condition that Sheremet promise not to leave Belarus, Interfax and ITAR-TASS reported . Sheremet's release is likely to help resolve the war of words between Moscow and Minsk. On 3 October, an aide to Russian President Boris Yeltsin said Moscow is not interested in "unleashing" an attack against Minsk despite Lukashenka's recent accusations. The next day, Sergei Yastrzhembskii, the Russian president's spokesman, told "Vremya" that "we are interested in the union with Belarus not because of ideological or nostalgic considerations but because of our pragmatic understanding of Russian national interests." Yastrzhembskii went on to explain the series of "miscommunications" that led to Lukashenka's outburst following Moscow's decision to block his visit to two Russian regional cities. UKRAINE DENIES "SECRET" EXECUTIONS. Vitaliy Boiko, the chief justice of the Supreme Court, has denied recent charges that Kyiv executed more than a dozen people this year, thereby violating its pledge to the Council of Europe, "Fakty" reported on 4 October. Boiko acknowledged that more than 60 people have been sentenced to death in Ukraine so far in 1997, but he said that none of those sentences have been carried out. At the same time, he noted that those sentenced to death before President Leonid Kuchma promised to end capital punishment in Ukraine might still be executed. RUSSIAN NATIONALITIES MINISTER IN TALLINN. Vyacheslav Mikhailov said in Tallinn on 3 October that the further development of Russian-Estonian relations hinges on resolving the problems of Estonia's Russian-speaking minority, Interfax and ETA reported. Mikhailov, who was speaking following a three-day visit to Estonia, noted that there has been no significant improvement in the situation of the Russian minority. He slammed Estonia's recently amended aliens law and said Moscow was "dissatisfied" with Tallinn's implementation of a treaty with Russia stipulating that all former Soviet citizens who lived in Estonia before 1991 be granted Estonian citizenship. At the same time, Mikhailov said he is pleased that Tallinn showed interest in finding an "optimal solution" to the problems of the country's Russian speakers. LATVIA SAYS NO EVIDENCE ON ALLEGED WAR CRIMINAL. Foreign Ministry spokesman Andrejs Pildegovichs said on 4 October that Riga has no evidence on alleged war criminal Konrad Kalejs and was therefore unable to ask for an extradition order from the Australian government, Reuters reported. Pildegovichs said the Prosecutor General's Office is monitoring Kalejs's case and would carefully examine any new material. The Simon Wiesenthal Center recently sent a letter to the Latvian authorities asking them to seek the extradition of Kalejs from Australia. Kalejs, who denies having committed war crimes, was deported from the U.S. and Canada after the authorities found he was a member of a squad in Nazi-occupied Latvia that had executed Jews, Roma, and Communists. IMF HEAD UPBEAT ON LITHUANIAN ECONOMY. Michel Camdessus has said he is a "Euro-optimist" as far as Lithuania is concerned, Interfax reported on 3 October. The head of the IMF was addressing an international conference in Vilnius on the changing role of central banks in Europe, which marked the 75th anniversary of the Bank of Lithuania. He noted that now Lithuania is about to abandon its policy of pegging the litas to the dollar, its main priority must be to further stabilize the national currency. "The Lithuanian authorities are on the right road in this respect," Camdessus said. He also said the IMF will cooperate with Lithuania in its reform program. WALESA LAUNCHES NEW POLITICAL PARTY. Former Polish President and Solidarity leader Lech Walesa on 3 October filed papers to form a new political party, Christian Democracy of Poland, PAP reported. Walesa insisted that his group will not compete against Solidarity Electoral Alliance. But he claimed that by attracting the 52 percent of the electorate who did not participate in the recent parliamentary election, he would "lead the new party to victory " in the next parliamentary ballot. Meanwhile, Poland's second private nationwide television station began broadcasting on 4 October. TVN is backed by the Central European Media corporation based in Bermuda and the Polish consortium ITI. FLOOD DAMAGE IN POLAND SET AT $2.8 BILLION. The government announced on 3 October that the floods in Poland in July and early August caused damage estimated at 10 billion zlotys ($2.8 billion), PAP reported. Warsaw said that only 3 billion zlotys has so far been collected to repair that damage; of that amount, only $40 million has come from abroad. As a result, the government has begun discussions with the World Bank and the European Investment Bank on borrowing some $530 million. CZECH OPPOSITION PARTY IN CRISIS. Milos Zeman, the chairman of the main Czech opposition party, the Social Democrats (CSSD), has told the party's Central Committee that although the CSSD is doing well in popularity polls, it is in crisis and risks defeat at the next local elections, "Dnes" reported on 6 October. Zeman blamed "complacent" rank-and-file party members as well as members of the party leadership, who recently fired his chief aide, Miroslav Slouf, over his communist past. "A party that fails to respect the work of all who do much for it is not a party of friendship but one of intrigues," he commented. SLOVAK OPPOSITION WANTS MECIAR'S MENTAL HEALTH EXAMINED. Prime Minister Vladimir Meciar on 2 October charged that the opposition Christian Democrats (KDH) considered at a January meeting having him murdered, Slovak media reported. The KDH has firmly rejected that accusation. The following day, opposition members of parliament announced they will adopt a resolution requesting the Slovak Psychiatric Society examine Meciar's mental health and ability to be premier. Foreign media have reported several times since 1991 that Meciar suffers from bouts of manic depression. "Sme" commented on Meciar's allegations on 4 October, saying the premier has started his reelection campaign and that this will be his most "sinister" campaign yet. HUNGARY WANTS TO CONTINUE DIALOGUE WITH SLOVAKIA. Foreign Minister Laszlo Kovacs on 3 October said Hungary does not intend to "engage in a war of words" with Slovakia because this would be "unworthy of a country seeking integration in [Euro-Atlantic] organizations," Hungarian media reported. Kovacs was speaking following his return to Budapest after talks in Washington on Hungarian, Czech, and Polish integration into NATO. He said that despite recent criticism from Bratislava, Hungary wants to continue its dialogue with Slovakia. He also stressed that there is no reason why Budapest should apologize for anything or bow to Slovak demands. HUNGARY'S FIRST PRIVATE TV COMPANY GOES ON AIR. Hungary's first commercial television station began broadcasting on 4 October, ending a 40-year state monopoly. A second private television station will go on the air on 7 October, AFP reported. TV-2, which is owned by a Scandinavian-German-Hungarian consortium, broadcasts to 87 percent of the country's territory and is financed exclusively by advertising revenues. The second private station, RTL Club, will broadcast on a frequency that was used by former Soviet troops stationed in Hungary. It is owned by the CLT Group, based in Luxembourg. SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE BOSNIAN CROAT WAR CRIMES SUSPECTS LEAVE FOR HAGUE... Ten Bosnian Croats--including one of Bosnia's most wanted war crimes suspects, Dario Kordic--left Split on 6 October for The Hague, where they are to go on trial at the UN war crimes tribunal. All 10 are accused of committing crimes against Muslims in central Bosnia's Lasva valley in 1993. Kordic told reporters that he and the other suspects are "handing themselves over for trial with a clear conscience before God and the Croatian people in order to prove our innocence." He pledged they will return "with our heads held high". The U.S. has blocked a $30 million World Bank loan to Croatia in a bid to ensure that the 10 suspects were handed over. ...IN PRESENCE OF GELBARD. U.S. envoy Robert Gelbard, who negotiated the surrender of the Bosnian Croat alleged war criminals, was present in Split when the 10 men boarded a Dutch military plane. Gelbard called their surrender a "significant step forward" for the Dayton peace agreement in Bosnia. He warned "those indictees still at large who choose not to surrender must know that the United States remains committed to keeping open all possible options for making them available to the tribunal for prosecution." GELBARD MEETS WITH KRAJISNIK. After meeting in Pale on 5 October with Momcilo Krajisnik, the Bosnian Serb member of Bosnia's collective presidency, Gelbard said Western powers have serious reservations about the presidential elections scheduled to take place in the Republika Srpska in early December. Gelbard said the vote will come too soon after the Bosnian Serb legislative elections on 23 November. Explaining the NATO-led seizure on 1 October of four television transmitters controlled by Pale, Gelbard said the international community had put up with too much and would not let such a situation recur. Krajisnik responded that he wants the transmitter dispute to end peacefully, Tanjug reported. But according to Radio B-92, Krajisnik condemned the seizure, saying there is not a single valid reason to justify it. SERBIAN RUNOFF FAILS TO ATTRACT A MAJORITY OF VOTERS... Ivica Dacic, the spokesman for Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic's Socialists (SPS), has said that the votes remaining to be counted in the 5 October second round of the Serbian presidential elections will not be enough to reach the required margin. Slightly less than 50 percent of the electorate went to the polls. Dacic said that the SPS election headquarters has "very precise data" showing its candidate, Zoran Lilic, with a slight advantage over Serbian Radical Party candidate Vojislav Seselj. The Serbian Electoral Commission is due to announce the final results on 9 October. ...WHILE VOTERS FLOCK TO POLLS IN MONTENEGRO. Results from the 5 October presidential elections in Montenegro show that the incumbent, Momir Bulatovic, came in first with 47.45 percent of the vote. His main challenger, Prime Minister Milo Djukanovic, received 46.72 percent. A runoff will be held on 19 October. Voter turnout was more than 67 percent. Djukanovic has said it is time for Montenegro to separate itself from Yugoslavia's economic disaster, which he blames on Milosevic. Montenegro controls half of the votes in the federal parliament, where the Yugoslav president is elected. WEU HEAD IN ALBANIA. Western European Union secretary-general Jose Cutileiro announced on 4 October during a two-day visit to Tirana that the WEU will increase the number of European police officers serving in Albania from 20 to 60 in order to help retrain local police forces. Cutileiro said the reorganization of the Albanian police after the unrest earlier this year will be a long process. He said it is likely the WEU mission's term will be extended beyond the present expiration date of April 1998. Interior Minister Neritan Ceka told a news conference held jointly with Cutileiro that Albania's "entire territory has been put under police control and bands in major cities of Albania have been neutralized," ATA reported. But he said less than one-tenth of the weapons stolen from arms depots during the unrest have been collected. ROMANIA, U.S. DISCUSS "STRATEGIC PARTNERSHIP." Romanian Foreign Minister Adrian Severin and a U.S. delegation led by Assistant Secretary of State for European Affairs Marc Grossman met in Bucharest on 4-5 October and discussed the "strategic partnership" between their two countries agreed on during President Bill Clinton's July visit to Romania, RFE/RL's Bucharest correspondent reported. At the end of the delegation visit, Grossman said the sides agreed that the partnership will involve political and economic cooperation as well as military collaboration. He said the partnership's efficiency will be demonstrated, above all, by its success in economic and commercial relations. He added that U.S. investments in Romania must grow significantly in the future. Grossman told Defense Minister Victor Babiuc that the U.S. is willing to offer Romania the same bilateral programs as those offered to the three countries invited to join NATO. On 4 October, Grossman met with President Emil Constantinescu and Premier Victor Ciorbea. ETHNIC HUNGARIANS HOLD CONGRESS IN TARGU MURES. At its fifth congress in Targu Mures on 3-4 October, the Hungarian Democratic Federation of Romania (UDMR) amended its statutes to stipulate that the federation's Council of Representatives will designate cabinet ministers representing the UDMR. An amendment on the transformation of the UDMR into a political party was not put to the vote. An RFE/RL correspondent in Targu Mures reported that the congress ignored all proposals by the radical wing, which is considered a victory for the moderate wing, led by chairman Bela Marko, However, Reformed Bishop Laszlo Toekes was re-elected UDMR honorary chairman. In his address to the congress, Toekes criticized the performance of UDMR government officials. Marko rejected that criticism but said anti-Hungarian nationalists are sometimes encouraged by positions adopted by members of the ruling coalition. FORMER ROMANIAN INTELLIGENCE CHIEF JOINS POLITICAL PARTY. Virgil Magureanu has joined the extra-parliamentary New Romania Party (PNR), the daily "Libertatea" reported on 6 October. The PNR was set up before the 1996 elections. At the time, it was reported that the party was a "creation" of Virgil Magureanu. Magureanu recently announced he is entering politics with the aim of helping to create a center-left opposition alliance (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 29 and 30 September 1997). OSCE DELEGATION WRAPS UP MOLDOVAN VISIT. At the end of a three-day visit to Moldova by an Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe delegation, Danish diplomat and delegation head Karsten Petersen expressed "cautious optimism" on the chances of Chisinau and the separatist Tiraspol leadership reaching an agreement, an RFE/RL correspondent in Chisinau reported on 3 October. The delegation met with President Petru Lucinschi and parliamentary chairman Dumitru Motpan, as well as with Aleksandr Karaman, the breakaway region's vice president and with Vladimir Atamanyuk, deputy chairman of the Transdniestrian Supreme Soviet. It also met with Boris Sergeev, the chief of staff of the Russian troops stationed in the Transdniester. Karsten said there is a possibility of a "political compromise" based on the memorandum signed by the two sides in Moscow on 8 May. The two sides' experts are scheduled to resume negotiations in the Russian capital on 6 October. BULGARIA HOSTS INTERNATIONAL MEETINGS. In a declaration issued at the end of their meeting in Sofia on 3 October, defense ministers from southeastern Europe and several of their NATO counterparts expressed their commitment to cooperate to enhance regional security and promote integration into Euro-Atlantic organizations. RFE/RL's Sofia bureau quoted U.S. Defense Secretary William Cohen as saying Washington is making southeastern Europe a "new priority" following the July Madrid summit. He also praised Bulgaria's determination to "heal the maladies of the past." Addressing a meeting in Sofia of the General Assembly of the Atlantic Treaty Association, Bulgarian President Petar Stoyanov on 4 October said that "enhancing stability and cooperation in Europe remains an irreversible priority of Bulgaria's foreign policy." BALKAN LEADERS AGREE TO FIGHT ORGANIZED CRIME. At a meeting in Varna on 3 October, the presidents of Turkey, Romania, and Bulgaria signed a declaration on cooperating to fight organized crime, terrorism, and trafficking in drugs and weapons. Suleyman Demirel stressed his country's willingness to support Bulgarian and Romanian membership in NATO. Romanian President Emil Constantinescu said the security of the southern flank of the organization cannot be ensured unless all countries in the region are members of the alliance, an RFE/RL correspondent reported. xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx Copyright (c) 1997 RFE/RL, Inc. 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