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RFE/RL NEWSLINE Vol. 1, No. 137, Part II, 13 October1997
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 * DEMONSTRATORS DENOUNCE BELARUSIAN PRESIDENT * BOSNIAN SERBS REFUSE TO SACK MEDIA CHIEFS * KOSOVO TALKS COLLAPSE xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx EAST-CENTRAL EUROPE DEMONSTRATORS DENOUNCE BELARUSIAN PRESIDENT... Some 3,500 people marched in Minsk on 12 October to protest the policies of President Alyaksandr Lukashenka, Belarusian media reported. Twenty of the demonstrators were arrested. The march was organized by the Belarusian Popular Front, the independent trade unions, and other anti-Lukashenka groups. One of the speakers, Tatyana Sharetsky, told the demonstrators that they must continue to march "if we don't want our state to be on the outskirts of civilization, if we don't want a new Gulag." ...BUT LUKASHENKA REMAINS UNREPENTANT. Speaking to a joint session of the parliament on 10 October, President Lukashenka said there is no danger that Belarus will be isolated from the rest of the world. "Seventy percent of resources from Russia move across Belarusian territory," he noted. He promised not to dissolve the current parliament, as demanded by international organizations. He also rejected calls for privatization, pointing out that the economy grew by more than 10 percent over the last year. Lukashenka went on to say that Russian President Boris Yeltsin has personally invited him to a meeting in Moscow on 22 October, according to Interfax. UKRAINIAN BUDGET REJECTED, ELECTION CAMPAIGN DELAYED. The parliament on 10 October refused to approve President Leonid Kuchma's state budget, ITAR-TASS reported. Many Ukrainian commentators suggested that lawmakers had withheld their approval to pressure Kuchma into signing the recently passed election law. As a result of Kuchma's refusal to sign that legislation, the campaign for the parliamentary elections, which was scheduled to begin on 11 October, has been delayed. (According to the bill awaiting Kuchma's signature, the campaign can begin only 170 days before the vote.) The Communists, the Progressive Socialist Party, the Reform and Order Party, and the Congress of Ukrainian Nationalists nevertheless went ahead with their campaign meetings on 11-12 October. ESTONIAN DEFENSE MINSTER WITHDRAWS RESIGNATION. Andrus Oovel on 10 October announced he is withdrawing his resignation letter, submitted to Prime Minister Mart Siimann following the September military training accident, ETA reported. Oovel's announcement followed a decision by the Coalition Party board that since President Lennart Meri has refused to accept the resignation of commander-in-chief of the defense forces Johannes Kert, Oovel cannot be held solely responsible for the tragedy. Meanwhile, the parliamentary State Defense Committee has demanded that Siimann release Oovel from his duties, BNS and ETA reported on 13 October. The committee has frequently criticized the Defense Ministry for its poor record in drawing legislation. PRIMAKOV AGAIN WARNS TALLINN AGAINST INVOKING TARTU TREATY. Russian Foreign Minister Yevgenii Primakov has again warned Tallinn against mentioning the 1920 Tartu Peace Treaty in connection with a border agreement between Russia and Estonia, BNS reported on 10 October. Primakov made the remarks to the news agency while attending the Council of Europe summit in Strasbourg. He said Estonia must guarantee that its parliament will no make mention of the Tartu treaty in the ratification or other related documents. He also stressed that Russia is interested in developing relations with Estonia. IMF APPROVES STAND-BY LOAN FOR LATVIA. The IMF on 10 October approved a $45 million loan agreement with Latvia, Reuters reported The fund said that the18-month stand-by credit would be used to support the government's 1997-1999 economic program, which calls for trade liberalization and tariff reductions. It also praised Latvia's efforts to stabilize economic conditions and promote economic growth. Latvian officials have said they do not intend to draw on the new loan, which replaces a credit that recently expired. LITHUANIAN, RUSSIAN PRESIDENTS MEET. Algirdas Brazauskas and Boris Yeltsin met briefly in Strasbourg on 10 October on the sidelines of the Council of Europe summit, BNS reported. The two leaders agreed that it is "necessary" to finalize and sign several important agreements, including a border treaty, during Brazauskas's visit to Moscow from 23-25 October. Also on 10 October, the Vilnius Regional Court ruled that Valdas Adamkus can register for the December presidential elections, according to BNS. Adamkus, a U.S. citizen of Lithuanian origin, had appealed a Supreme Electoral Commission decision that barred him from running in the elections (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 8 October 1997). CZECHS, HUNGARIANS, POLES TO COOPERATE ON JOINING NATO. Meeting in the Czech city of Komormi Hradek on 11 October, Czech Defense Minister Miloslav Vyborny, Hungarian Defense Minister Gyorgy Keliki, and Polish First Deputy Prime Minister Andrzej Karkoszka agreed to coordinate military policies and purchases in their bid to join the Western alliance, PAP reported. The three said they are not yet ready to make joint purchases but will explore that option in the future. In other news, France, Germany, and Poland have agreed to upgrade their annual meetings from the ministerial to the presidential level, ITAR-TASS reported on 11 October. HAVEL SAYS GERMAN-CZECH FUND SHOULD PAY NAZI VICTIMS. In his weekly radio address on 12 October, Czech President Vaclav Havel said that part of the German-Czech Fund should be used to pay victims of Nazi atrocities, Czech media reported. He suggested that there are "very complex legal reasons" why those victims should not be paid directly by the German government. CZECHS, SLOVAKS AGREE ON DEBT SETTLEMENT. Czech Prime Minister Vaclav Klaus and his Slovak counterpart, Vladimir Meciar, met in the Slovak city of Piestany on 10 October and agreed to an exchange of bank shares as part of a plan to settle bilateral debts, TASR reported. A Prague bank holds gold that Slovakia claims, and Slovakia owes some $7.3 million to the Czech Republic. The two sides will continue talks on the issue in Prague in December. MOSCOW TO PAY OFF DEBT TO SLOVAKIA WITH ARMS. Following meetings with a visiting Slovak delegation on 9-10 October, the Russian government agreed to supply Slovakia with an S-300 PMU anti-aircraft system and other military equipment to pay off more of its $1.7 billion debt to Bratislava, Interfax and TASR reported on 11 October. The two sides also agreed to enter into longer term arrangements of this type through the year 2003. But Slovak Deputy Defense Minister Jan Gajdos, who headed the delegation to Moscow, stressed to TASR that no one should regard those arrangements as meaning "we are returning to the East." Over the past two years, Moscow has provided some $560 million in goods to reduce its debt. HUNGARIAN PREMIER SPEAKS OUT AGAINST NATIONALISM. Gyula Horn on 10 October told the Council of Europe summit in Strasbourg that the countries of East Central Europe must "turn their back on destructive nationalism," Hungarian media reported. Horn stressed that democracy and welfare go hand in hand and that the latter cannot be achieved without the former. Meeting with Horn in Strasbourg on 11 October, Romanian President Emil Constantinescu said some Hungarian opposition parties at times use rhetoric that serves to encourage nationalist forces in Romania. HUNGARIAN ROW OVER SALE OF LAND TO FOREIGNERS. Istvan Szent- Ivanyi, the chairman of the Free Democrats' parliamentary faction, has called on Alliance of Young Democrats head Viktor Orban to apologize for his 9 October statement saying the Young Democrats have worked out an "emergency scenario" for the situation created by the decision to hold the referenda on NATO and land sale to foreign companies. Orban had also argued that such a situation was not covered by the constitution. Szent-Ivanyi said there is no constitutional crisis in Hungary and accused Orban of seeking to cause "chaos and anarchy." SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE BOSNIAN SERBS REFUSE TO SACK MEDIA CHIEFS. Republika Srpska Prime Minister Gojko Klickovic said in Pale on 11 October that his government rejects the "unreasonable demands" of the international community to fire the directors of hard-line Pale Radio and Television. Klickovic added that he hopes a negotiated solution can be found soon. Carlos Westendorp, the international community's chief representative in Bosnia, says that Pale's media chiefs must go as a precondition for the return to Pale's control of four television transmitters under NATO control since 1 October. NATO took over the transmitters after Pale TV ignored repeated warnings not to air programs that depict the peacekeepers as an occupation force or the Hague-based war crimes tribunal as anti-Serbian. GERMANY WANTS NEW BOSNIA PEACEKEEPING FORCE. Defense Minister Volker Ruhe told the latest issue of "Der Spiegel" that SFOR should be replaced by a smaller deterrence force, or DFOR, when SFOR's mandate runs out in June 1998. Ruhe added that "we have to be sure that there's no falling back to war and massacres," which, he continued, might occur if there were no peacekeepers present. Ruhe also said it is just a matter of time before Radovan Karadzic and other indicted war criminals are caught. Meanwhile, German Foreign Minister Klaus Kinkel told "Bild am Sonntag" on 12 October that peacekeepers remaining in Bosnia after June 1998 must have a clear mandate to catch war criminals. EXPLOSION AT ROMAN CATHOLIC SCHOOL IN SARAJEVO. Bosnian police on 12 October said that a land mine caused an explosion the previous day at a Catholic school in the capital. The school and nearby flats were damaged, but there were no casualties. The police added that the device was most likely set by the same professionals who planted mines in other incidents earlier this year, including during Pope John Paul II's visit in May. Muslim, Croatian, and Sarajevo-based Serbian political leaders condemned the latest bombing, "Oslobodjenje" reported. Observers said that Muslim extremists most likely planted the mine. COUNCIL OF EUROPE GIVES CROATIA MIXED REVIEW. Representatives of the Council of Europe told President Franjo Tudjman in Zagreb on 12 October that the council is pleased with developments in eastern Slavonia, which Croatia is reintegrating peacefully after six years of Serbian control. The representatives added, however, that the council is concerned about the extent of Croatian government control over radio and television throughout the country, an RFE/RL correspondent reported from Zagreb. On 11 October, Tudjman told the council's summit meeting in Strasbourg that Croatia has an excellent record of implementing the Dayton agreements and that it is "the only [Dayton signatory] that is actively cooperating with the Hague tribunal." He blasted what he called bias against his country in some unnamed foreign media. Tudjman stressed that Croatia has played an important role for centuries in Central European history and culture. CROATIA RECEIVES $80 MILLION LOAN TRANCHE FROM IMF. IMF representatives said in Washington on 10 October that the fund has released $80 million of a $486 million three-year loan. The move came after the U.S. expressed approval of Croatia's recent decision to send 10 indicted war criminals to The Hague. Meanwhile in Zagreb, "Vecernji list," which is close to the government, reported on 13 October that the U.S. has proposed that Croatia lease part of the Adriatic port of Ploce to Bosnia for 30 years. Ploce is Bosnia's natural outlet to the sea, but Sarajevo and Zagreb have been unable to reach an agreement on the port's future despite years of talks. Many Croats fear that any agreement on shared use of the port might lead to Bosnia's annexation of Ploce. KOSOVO TALKS COLLAPSE. Talks in Pristina and Belgrade between ethnic Albanian leaders and Serbian officials ended in deadlock on 10 October. The negotiators sought to end the year-long impasse in implementing an agreement on restoring Albanian-language education in Kosovo. Observers in Pristina said that ethnic Albanian students are now likely to go ahead with a protest planned for 15 October to demand use of Pristina University buildings for classes run independently of the Serbian authorities. Serbian police broke up a student protest in Pristina on 1 October, in which at least 50 students were injured. GRENADE FOUND NEAR TIRANA CITY HALL. Police on 10 October removed a grenade that a passer-by had discovered outside Tirana's municipal building, Albanian Television reported. It is unclear who planted the grenade, but the Democratic Party issued a statement calling the incident "an attempt to murder" Mayor Albert Brojka, who is a member of the Democrats. The party also accused the Socialist- led government of planning to "physically eliminate [its] political opponents." In other news, "Koha Jone" on 12 October quoted Tirana police chief Pashk Tusha as saying police have evidence that Leka Zogu, the claimant to the throne, planned to stage a coup following a mass rally in early July (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 5 July 1997). Tusha added that Zogu had set up a shadow cabinet and had planned to march to the presidential palace to proclaim a monarchy. ITALY BACKS ALBANIA DESPITE GOVERNMENT CRISIS. Italian Prime Minister Romano Prodi told his Albanian counterpart, Fatos Nano, by telephone on 11 October that Rome will continue its support for Tirana despite Italy's current government crisis. Prodi resigned on 9 October but is staying on in a caretaker capacity. Rome is expected to host a meeting of European foreign ministers later in October to discuss the situation in Albania. ALBANIAN GOVERNMENT, UNIONS AGREE ON NO STRIKES. Party leaders of the ruling coalition and representatives of the country's two largest trade unions agreed in Tirana on 11 October to ban strikes until January 1998. The unions had threatened to strike following the recent decision to increase value-added tax to 20 percent (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 17 September 1997). To offset the hike, the government promised to raise monthly welfare payments to $4.20 and to increase pensions. The World Bank will support the move with $25 million. One union leader also stated that the government will create 55,000 new jobs in public works. ROMANIAN DEFENSE MINISTER STRESSES INTENTION TO JOIN NATO. Addressing the North Atlantic Assembly in Bucharest on 10 October, Defense Minister Victor Babiuc said his country is "not even considering the possibility" that it will not be admitted to NATO either before or by 1999, RFE/RL's Bucharest bureau reported. U.S. Senator William Roth, the chairman of the assembly's permanent commission, told President Emil Constantinescu on 12 October that the assembly "will not rest" until Romania is admitted into an expanded NATO, Radio Bucharest reported. In other news, Vasile Stan, a deputy from the opposition Party of Social Democracy in Romania, told a press conference in Bucharest on 10 October that he had been an informer for the Securitate. He said he had been forced to inform but had "never incriminated anybody." ROMANIAN HIGH SCHOOL STUDENTS DEMONSTRATE. Some 10,000 high school students demonstrated in Bucharest on 10 October against new regulations on matriculation examinations. Similar demonstrations were reported in many other towns to protest the decision to have exams in seven subjects--instead of four, as was the case until now. Prime Minister Victor Ciorbea told demonstrators in Arad that the government is examining the possibility of having the 1997 matriculation exams in four subjects only, RFE/RL's Bucharest bureau reported. The students are also protesting against the new regulation providing for all oral examinations to be held on one day. MOLDOVAN PRESIDENT IN STRASBOURG. Addressing the Council of Europe in Strasbourg on 10 October, Petru Lucinschi asked the council to help find a solution to the Transdniestrian conflict, Radio Bucharest and Infotag reported. He expressed the hope that the CIS summit in Chisinau on 23-24 October will give "new impetus" to the search for a solution. According to RFE/RL's Chisinau bureau, it is possible that the summit will endorse a document that the two sides agreed to in Moscow on 9 October. Reports on the provisions of that document are contradictory. The private station Romanian Pro-TV reported on 10 October that the document provides for the "de facto federalization" of Moldova. According to Infotag, the separatist region will have its own constitution, state symbols, budget, and broad economic prerogatives. MOLDOVAN PARLIAMENT REJECTS REFERENDUM PROPOSAL. The parliament on 10 October voted to reject the referenda proposed by the Socialist Unity-Edinstvo and the Communist faction on the sale and purchase of land and on raising the retirement age (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 10 October 1997). Communist leader Vladimir Voronin accused the legislature of "betraying the interests of the people." He also rejected allegations that his party had been able to collect the 250,000 signatures in support of the referendum by linking the two issues. BULGARIAN INTERIOR MINISTER ON FORMER COLLABORATORS. Bogomil Bonev told a press conference in Sofia on 11 October that investigations have revealed that 25 high-ranking officials were former secret police informers. Bonev said names will be made public within two weeks if the officials do not resign before then, RFE/RL's Sofia bureau reported. He added that some of the 25 whose names appeared on the list have tried to justify their past, claiming that they had no other choice. Bonev also said that President Petar Stoyanov and Vice President Todor Kavaldzhiev insisted that they themselves be screened, although such action is not required by the law. The investigation showed they had no links with the former secret services, the interior minister said. RUSSIAN AMBASSADOR TO SOFIA AGAIN REJECTS SPY ACCUSATIONS. At a press conference on 10 October, Leonid Kerestedzhiyants again rejected allegations that he is involved in attempts to set up a spy network (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 8 October 1997), according to RFE/RL's Sofia bureau. Responding to media reports on his meetings with pro-Russian politicians and businessmen, Kerestedzhiyants said they are just "old friends" with whom he shares an "interest in the arts." He added that the "anti-Russia campaign" now under way in Bulgaria is reminiscent of "McCarthyism." Also on 10 October, ITAR- TASS reported that the Russian State Duma has instructed a number of its committees to prepare debates on Russian-Bulgarian relations. The directives were issued at the suggestion of Vladimir Gusev, chairman of the Committee on Industry, Construction, Transport, and Energy. xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx Copyright (c) 1997 RFE/RL, Inc. 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