|It is the chiefest point of happiness that a man is willing to be what he is. - Erasmus|
RFE/RL NEWSLINE Vol. 1, No. 134, Part II, 8 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 RELEASES ORT JOURNALIST *WESTENDORP, KRAJISNIK DISCUSS RESTRUCTURING TV *EASTERN SLAVONIA NOT READY FOR RETURN TO CROATIA xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx EAST-CENTRAL EUROPE BELARUS RELEASES ORT JOURNALIST. Belarusian Radio announced on 8 October that Minsk has released Russian Public Television journalist Pavel Sheremet from the Hrodna detention center. Sheremet's arrest and detention had soured relations between Belarusian President Alyaksandr Lukashenka and Moscow. Sheremet still faces trial on charges that he illegally crossed the Belarusian- Lithuanian border. Until his trial takes place, he is not permitted to leave the country. LUKASHENKA THREATENS LOCAL BUSINESSMEN. President Lukashenka has blamed local businessmen for the 6 October explosion that killed Mohilev State Control Committee chairman Yevhenii Mikolutsky (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 7 October 1997), Interfax-West reported . Speaking at Mikolutsky's funeral, Lukashenka said that "if in one week, commercial structures do not hand over the names of those who organized the murder..., his killers will face tougher steps than anyone can imagine." He added that "we will not look for a lot of evidence--your every misdemeanor, even the smallest one, will lead to inevitable demands from our side." Lukashenka's comments may set the stage for increased authoritarian rule. On 6 October, Lukashenka had said on Belarusian Television that he completely agrees with the policies of the local communist party. UKRAINE PROTESTS TO MOSCOW OVER CHURCH INCIDENT. The Ukrainian Foreign ministry on 7 October presented the Russian embassy in Kyiv with a diplomatic note protesting the seizure of a pro-Ukrainian Orthodox cathedral in Noginsk on 29 September, according to Ukrainian media. Local police are reported to have seized several church buildings in that Russian city after a Russian court ruled that the new Russian law on religion meant the cathedral there should belong to the Moscow Patriarchate. Ukrainian priests and believers had protested Kyiv's failure to lodge a protest. Ukrainian Foreign Ministry officials said the Russian action could lead to the "polarization of believers in Russia and Ukraine." MOSCOW SAYS NO POLICY CHANGE TOWARD BALTIC RUSSIAN- SPEAKERS. Russian Foreign Ministry spokesman Gennadii Tarasov on 7 October denied reports in the Latvian media that Moscow is about to change its policy toward the rights of Russian-speakers in the Baltic States, BNS and ITAR-TASS reported. Calling the reports "groundless," Tarasov said that the "protection of the rights of the Russian-speaking population has always been and will remain a priority of Russian foreign policy." He added that progress in relations between Russia and the Baltic States depends on steps taken by the latter to improve the situation of their Russian- speakers. ADAMKUS APPEALS BAN ON PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDACY. Valdas Adamkus, a 71-year-old U.S. citizen of Lithuanian origin, has appealed the Lithuanian Supreme Electoral Commission's decision barring him from running in the December presidential elections, BNS reported on 7 October. The commission ruled that Adamkus does not meet the requirement, stipulated in Article 78 of the constitution, whereby a candidate for the presidency must have lived in Lithuania for at least three years before registering for the elections. In a September opinion poll, Adamkus led the field of potential candidates with 29.7 percent support. Incumbent President Algirdas Brazauskas polled 26.7 percent and former Deputy Prosecutor- General Arturas Paulauskas 21 percent, according to dpa. COALITION TALKS CONTINUE IN POLAND. Talks between Solidarity Electoral Action and the Freedom Union continue to make progress. Polish reported on 7 October that the two sides have agreed on a declaration of principles and on candidates for some positions. But they will not announce those candidates until shortly before the current government leaves office on 17 October. CANADA REINTRODUCES VISA REQUIREMENTS FOR CZECHS. Canada has announced it is reimposing visa requirements for Czech citizens following an influx of Roma asylum seekers from the Czech Republic. Canadian Citizenship and Immigration Ministry spokesman Rene Mercier told CTK on 7 October that the ministry sees no change in the trend and that measures taken so far seem to have had no effect. Of the 1,285 asylum seekers who arrived from the Czech Republic this year, more than half came in the last two months, she said. Czech Prime Minister Vaclav Klaus said he regrets the move but he added that he understands that countries need to protect themselves from migrants. The decision gives the Czech Republic an idea of how it could protect its own borders, Klaus said. CZECH REPUBLIC REGISTERS RECORD HIGH UNEMPLOYMENT. Unemployment in the Czech Republic reached 4.8 percent in September, the highest level since 1989. Employment Ministry spokesman Tadeas Kokotek said on 7 October that the rise was caused by government austerity measures as well as the ongoing transformation of the economy, which includes businesses' efforts to reduce labor and increase productivity, CTK reported. He predicted unemployment will continue to rise to 7-8 percent. SLOVAK GOVERNMENT, PARLIAMENT TWO LEAST TRUSTED INSTITUTIONS. In a study published on 7 October, the government Statistical Office's Institute for Public Opinion Research reported that 62 percent of citizens distrust the government and 67 percent the parliament. In contrast, the Slovak Army came out on top with 73 percent of respondents saying they have confidence in the military. Sixty-seven percent said they have trust in Slovak Radio and 66 percent in TV Markiza, a private television station. SLOVAKIA REJECTS HUNGARIAN "ZERO" PROPOSAL FOLLOWING HAGUE RULING... Spokeswoman Magda Pospisilova on 7 October said the Slovak government will not accept the zero option that Hungarian Prime Minister Gyula Horn proposed following the Hague Court's 25 September ruling on settling mutual claims for damages related to the controversial Gabcikovo-Nagymaros hydroelectric power project. Pospisilova said Horn's suggestion that both countries should waive claims is premature and propagandistic. She cited remarks by the Slovak attorney at the hearing, who said that paying damages and paying construction costs are two different things. Therefore, Pospisilova said, Hungary should pay the costs of the work that Slovakia carried out after Hungary had withdrawn from the agreement. ...WHILE HORN ADMITS "ERROR" IN HUNGARIAN DEFENSE. Prime Minister Gyula Horn says Hungary was wrong to cite only environmental reasons for its withdrawal from the Gabcikovo- Nagymaros project at the International Court of Justice in The Hague. Horn said the losses to the economy and to shipping should also have been mentioned before the court, Reuters reported on 7 October. He said the planned bilateral talks with Slovakia must now embrace all aspects of the issue, including Danube navigation, energy production, and sewage purification. HUNGARIAN PARLIAMENT APPROVES REFERENDUM QUESTIONS. The parliament on 7 October approved the three questions for the planned referendum on NATO membership and land ownership by foreign companies registered in Hungary. President Arpad Goncz must now decide whether to endorse the referendum. Opposition deputies, who are against holding a referendum on both issues and oppose the formulation of the two questions on land ownership, walked out in protest before the vote, Hungarian media reported. At a meeting with Goncz earlier the same day, Tamas Deutsch, the deputy chairman of the Young Democrats, and Zoltan Pokorny, the chairman of the party's parliamentary faction, asked the president not to call a referendum until the Constitutional Court has ruled on an opposition appeal against the plebiscite. Goncz said he will strictly abide by the constitution and the "interests of the people." SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE WESTENDORP, KRAJISNIK DISCUSS RESTRUCTURING TV. Carlos Westendorp, the international community's High Representative, met in Sarajevo on 7 October with Momcilo Krajisnik, the Bosnian Serb member of the Bosnian tripartite presidency and the chairman of the board of Bosnian Serb Radio and Television (SRT). Westendorp set out the criteria for restructuring SRT to enable the Pale studio to resume broadcasting, which was halted on Westendorp's orders on 1 October. A spokesman for Westendorp said one of the main conditions is that politicians withdraw from the SRT's board of directors and give up their right to control the station. He added that SRT's board is primarily made up of politicians loyal to the hard-line Serbian Democratic Party. The spokesman also said that Westendorp's goal is to reform all SRT programming, meaning in Banja Luka as well as in Pale. PALE INTERIOR MINISTER DISCUSSES POLICE REORGANIZATION WITH UN. Bosnian Serb Interior Minister Slavko Poleksic, who is loyal to the Pale leadership, held talks in Pale on 7 October with the UN International Police Task Force (IPTF). Poleksic said the Republika Srpska is interested in reorganizing the police in line with the requirements of the IPTF and other international organizations. But he told IPTF deputy commissioner Werner Schumm that such a reorganization will require much time and money. EASTERN SLAVONIA NOT READY FOR RETURN TO CROATIA. UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan said in New York on 7 October that conditions are not yet in place for Croatia to take over eastern Slavonia. Annan said Croatia has failed in confidence-building and reconciliation efforts in the region but still has time "to comply fully with its obligations before 15 January 1998," when the UN must decide whether to renew the mandate of its mission in eastern Slavonia. Meanwhile in Zagreb, Croatian Foreign Minister, Mate Granic, told ambassadors of the Contact Group that Croatia wants to do everything necessary to ensure the successful conclusion of the UN's mission in eastern Slavonia. DRASKOVIC TO RUN IN NEW SERBIAN POLL. The opposition Serbian Renewal Movement (SPO) has said party leader Vuk Draskovic, who came third in the first round of the 21 September presidential elections, will run again in the new vote expected to be held later this year, "Nasa Borba" reported on 8 October. SPO spokesman Andeljko Trpkovic said the failure of the 5 October second round shows that an opposition candidate could win the elections in the first round, provided he had backing from all three parties united in the Zajedno movement. The other two Zajedno parties boycotted the poll, but their leaders, Zoran Djindjic and Vesna Pesic, have already declared their readiness to run in new elections (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 7 October 1997). OSCE RULES MONTENEGRO POLLS FAIR, VOTER LISTS SUSPECT. The mission of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe monitoring Montenegro's presidential elections has said that voting in the 5 October Montenegrin elections appeared to have been fair. But the OSCE suggested that the register of voters should be reviewed before the 19 October run-off between incumbent President Momir Bulatovic and Prime Minister Milo Djukanovic. EU TO OPEN OFFICE IN PRISTINA. The EU Council of Foreign Ministers, meeting in Luxembourg on 6 October, denounced the use of force by the Serbian police against Albanian protesters in Pristina on 1 October. It also approved the opening of an EU bureau in Pristina. The council stressed its concern over the dangers of a further deterioration of the situation in Kosovo and insisted that the 1996 education accord between Serbia and Kosovo "be implemented without delay." Rexhep Gjergji, a member of the Presidency of the Democratic League of Kosovo and its Foreign Relations Committee, told the Kosovo Information Service that the EU bureau will be a "second window" in Kosovo, alongside the U.S. library, from which the world will closely watch the situation in Kosovo. MACEDONIAN SERBS DECLARE SUPPORT FOR BRETHREN IN KOSOVO. The Democratic Party of Serbs in Macedonia announced on 7 October that Serbs from Macedonia will help Kosovar Serbs if the situation in Kosovo escalates, BETA reported from Skopje. Party leader Dragisa Miletic said in a statement that "We, the Serbs from Macedonia, are well organized for any escalation of the situation in Kosovo...and we will not allow any foul play from the Albanians from Macedonia." The previous day, Arben Xhaferri, leader of the Democratic Party of Albanians in Macedonia, had said "Albanians from Macedonia will, in the event of war in Kosovo, fight together with the people of Kosovo.". Miletic's party has branded Xhaferri's statement as an "immature political move." GOSTIVAR MAYOR RELEASED FROM JAIL. Rufi Osmani was freed from prison on 7 October, BETA reported. His release came 90 days after he was detained in connection with the 9 July demonstrations, in which three Albanians were killed and 100 policemen and demonstrators sustained injuries of various degrees. Osmani was accused of inciting religious and ethnic hatred. He was released by a court decision noting that the 90-day deadline for a final judgment had expired. ALBANIA SIGNS COMMITMENT AGREEMENT WITH IMF. The government signed a six-month commitment agreement with the IMF in Tirana on 7 October, ahead of the upcoming donors' conference in Rome and Brussels. IMF and other donor countries have made further aid to Albania conditional on fiscal reform, including raising value-added tax from 12.5 percent to 20 percent on 1 October. Albanian Prime Minister Fatos Nano said after signing the agreement that "economic reform...will be tough and intensive." Nano also welcomed an offer by Daan Everst, the head of the EU's monitoring mission in Albania, to extend the mission by six months. ALBANIAN PARLIAMENTARY COMMISSION TO INVESTIGATE UNREST. The parliament on 6 October set up a commission to investigate the unrest in Albania earlier this year. Deputy Spartak Ngjela, who formerly was interim justice minister, was appointed to chair the 11-member commission, to be composed of representatives of all parliamentary parties as well as two independents. The opposition Democratic Party has not yet named its candidates, ATA reported. ROMANIAN FOREIGN MINISTER SAYS HE WON'T RESIGN. Adrian Severin on 7 October told the press that he has no intention to resign, RFE/RL's Bucharest bureau reported. After being questioned by the Foreign Relations Committees of the parliament's two chambers about his allegations on "foreign agents" among the leaderships of several parties and in the media, Severin said that to resign now would be an indication of "cowardice" as well as "encouragement" to those he is seeking to expose. MINERS' STRIKE IN ROMANIA. Members of the largest miners' trade union staged a 24-hour strike on 8 October, despite an agreement reached with the government the previous day (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 7 October 1997). Union leader Marin Condeescu said the miners are demanding a 100 percent wage hike and the creation of a national mining agency to oversee mines still in operation. The action follows a two-hour warning strike on 5 October. The miners have said they will launch a general strike on 14 October if their demands have not been met by then, RFE/RL's Bucharest bureau reported. Deputy Minister of Trade and Industry Nicolae Staiculescu commented that it is "strange" to go on strike at a time when the mining industries face a crisis of over-production. He called the strike "blackmail." IMF WANTS MOLDOVA TO FULFILL COMMITMENTS. Mark Horton, the IMF's permanent representative to Moldova, has said that further IMF loans will be closely linked to Chisinau's fulfilling commitments undertaken by the government, in particular those on reducing the budget deficit, RFE/RL's bureau in the Moldovan capital reported on 6 October. Similarly, James Parks, the World Bank's representative in Moldova, has said he hopes the parliament will soon pass legislation that the bank regards as crucial for the country's economic development. Parks singled out legislation on developing the private sector, reforming education, and setting up a national properties register. He also announced that the bank's board of directors has approved granting Moldova a $100 million structural adjustment loan. The first $35 million installment will be paid out before the end of 1997. RUSSIA REFUTES SPY ALLEGATIONS BY BULGARIAN MEDIA... In a statement released on 7 October, Russian Ambassador to Bulgaria Leonid Kerestedzhiyants said Bulgarian media reports alleging that the embassy is engaged in spying are "scandalous," ITAR-TASS reported. The previous day, Bulgarian pro-government daily "Standard" had claimed that the Russian ambassador is involved in recruiting spies and seeks to upset Bulgarian plans to join NATO soon. Kerestedzhiyants said the embassy is "disturbed" that the Bulgarian government is doing nothing to stop the "defamation" and that some ministers, in particular Interior Minister Bogomil Bonev, have dropped hints that the security services have exposed Russian spying activities. The Russian ambassador commented that "over-zealous government-close quarters" are doing a disservice "not only to Bulgaria but also to NATO," which, he said, "does not want to strain relations with Moscow by using the 'Bulgarian card.'" ...WHILE BULGARIA WANTS "NEW IMPETUS" IN RELATIONS WITH RUSSIA. Bulgarian Foreign Minister Nadezhda Mihailova on 7 October said that while Sofia is determined to join the EU and NATO, it also wants to give new impetus to its traditional relations with Moscow. She told a news conference that Bulgaria wants to "develop contacts with Russia at every level--political and economic." She added that she hopes to visit Russia in November to prepare a visit by President Petar Stoyanov before year's end, Reuters reported. In other news, Prime Minister Ivan Kostov, addressing the General Assembly of the Atlantic Treaty Association in Sofia on 7 October, said his country wants to introduce Western standards in its security and defense policy. He invited foreign investors to invest in Bulgaria's defense industries, RFE/RL's Sofia bureau reported. xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx Copyright (c) 1997 RFE/RL, Inc. 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