|Our main business is not to see what lies dimly at a distance, but to do what lies clearly at hand. - Thomas Carlyle|
RFE/RL NEWSLINE Vol. 1, No. 140, Part II, 16 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 *CRIMEAN PARLIAMENT MAKES RUSSIAN OFFICIAL LANGUAGE *U.S. PLEDGES AID TO PLAVSIC *MONTENEGRIN POLICE ARREST ALLEGED SERBIAN AGENTS xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx EAST-CENTRAL EUROPE CRIMEAN PARLIAMENT MAKES RUSSIAN OFFICIAL LANGUAGE. Crimean lawmakers on 15 October voted to make Russian, rather than Ukrainian, the official language of the region and to have the clocks there conform to Moscow rather than Kyiv time, Interfax reported. The vote was 56 to 4 in favor of the language change; most of the other deputies, who represent the Crimean Tatars, abstained. The regional body took the step on the basis of a provision in the local constitution allowing the Crimean parliament to make Russian the official language until more people there have learned Ukrainian. But Kyiv has not approved the peninsula's constitution. This latest action by the Crimean legislature, which is dominated by ethnic Russians, sets the stage for a new confrontation between the region and the Ukrainian central authorities. GROWING DISCORD BETWEEN UKRAINIAN PRESIDENT, PARLIAMENT. Leonid Kuchma and the parliament each took steps on 15 October that are certain to anger the other. Kuchma allowed the deadline for signing or vetoing the new election law to pass without doing either, Ukrainian media reported. His aides have said he will ultimately sign the bill, which lays down the regulations for the spring 1998 elections, but his failure to sign has already outraged many legislators. Meanwhile, the parliament voted to increase the minimum wage and pension so they will be above the poverty level, Interfax-Ukraine reported on 16 October. Government spokesmen said the action will bust the already fragile state budget. BELARUSIAN PARLIAMENT URGED NOT TO PASS MEDIA LAW. The Brussels-based International Federation of Journalists issued a statement on 15 October urging the Belarusian parliament to seriously modify a media bill that would allow the government of President Alyaksandr Lukashenka to ban the importation of foreign publications and to jam foreign broadcasts. Because most opposition newspapers are printed abroad and because the most important independent radio and television stations broadcasting into Belarus are also foreign, such a bill would give Minsk a dangerous media monopoly, the IFJ said. BALTIC-U.S. CHARTER NOT YET FINALIZED. Latvian Ambassador to the U.S. Ojars Kalnins told RFE/RL on 15 October that the Baltic-U.S. charter is essentially complete and that only a few "fine" points remain to be resolved. Kalnins was speaking after two days of talks at the State Department in Washington between U.S., Estonian, Latvian, and Lithuanian senior diplomats. He said there are no obstacles to the signing of the charter by the presidents of the four countries, expected to take place in early December. Lithuanian Deputy Foreign Minister Albinas Januska was somewhat less upbeat, saying that small differences between the Baltic States have blocked the conclusion of the charter. He told BNS that the differences are not big, rather over "issues of tactics." The charter is a non-binding document that U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright described earlier this year as an "umbrella that allows us to cooperate on the basis of shared values and goals." LITHUANIAN GOVERNMENT APPROVES 1998 DRAFT BUDGET. The cabinet on 15 October approved the 1998 draft budget, BNS reported. Revenues are set at 6.886 billion litas ($1.72 billion) and expenditures at 7.581 billion litas ($1.895 billion). This provides for a budget deficit of 695 million litas or 1.6 percent of gross domestic product, compared with 697.9 million litas or 1.9 percent of GDP planned for 1997. It is estimated that next year GDP will grow by 7 percent and that annual inflation will not exceed 6 percent. The draft will be submitted to the parliament for discussion on 17 October. Meanwhile in Moscow, Lithuanian and Russian delegations are reportedly putting the final touches to the bilateral border treaty. SUPPORT FOR BUZEK TO HEAD NEW POLISH GOVERNMENT. The Freedom Union has said it will support Jerzy Busek, a longtime Solidarity activist, as the country's next prime minister, Polish media reported. Solidarity Electoral Action named Busek as its candidate for the premiership on 15 October. President Aleksandr Kwasniewski is reported to have agreed to formally nominate Busek on 17 October, while the Roman Catholic Church has said it backs Busek, despite the fact he is a Protestant in overwhelmingly Catholic Poland. Busek was widely quoted by Polish media on 15 October as saying he will focus on improving the social protection of Polish citizens, health care, and pensions. Meanwhile, Freedom Union leaders have said more talks are needed before a full government team can be announced. HUNGARIAN GOVERNMENT CONSIDERS FORGOING NATO REFERENDUM. Prime Minister Gyula Horn on 15 October said if it is impossible to hold the NATO accession referendum on 16 November, the cabinet will decide on joining the organization without such a vote, Hungarian media reported. In a telephone conversation with NATO Secretary-General Javier Solana, Horn stressed that the parliamentary dispute over the referendum is not directed against accession. Solana said he considers the matter a domestic political issue. During his recent visit to Prague, President Arpad Goncz said Hungary's NATO accession must have priority over all other issues, since the "country's development for centuries" is at stake. CHAIRMAN OF HUNGARIAN PEOPLE'S PARTY RESIGNS. Ivan Szabo announced on 15 October that owing to conflicts within the opposition Hungarian Democratic People's Party, he is resigning as its chairman and parliamentary faction leader, Hungarian media reported. He pointed to the fact that although the party's caucus had agreed not to vote on the issue of the NATO referendum, only six members abided by that agreement. Szabo will remain faction leader until 30 October, while deputy chairman Gyorgy Rasko is now acting head of the party. SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE U.S. PLEDGES AID TO PLAVSIC. Ambassador to Bosnia Richard Kauzlarich and Republika Srpska President Biljana Plavsic signed an agreement in Banja Luka on 15 October that makes $1 million available for restoring roads, railroads, and houses on Bosnian Serb territory. Kauzlarich said work will begin immediately on rebuilding a major bridge in Banja Luka, which, he added, is evidence of Washington's willingness to help Bosnian Serbs who respect the Dayton agreements. Meanwhile, Plavsic told Banja Luka Television that her recent electoral agreement with her rival Momcilo Krajisnik covered only parliamentary elections and that a presidential vote was "not mentioned" (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 14 October 1997). Krajisnik told Pale media on 13 October that elections will take place later this year for the Republika Srpska presidency and for the Serbian seat on the Bosnian joint presidency. UN POLICE SAY KARADZIC HAS ILLEGAL BODYGUARD. A UN police spokesman said in Sarajevo on 15 October that a special police formation guards the home of indicted war criminal Radovan Karadzic in Pale. The spokesman added that the heavily armed police formation is illegal under the Dayton agreements. Meanwhile in Prague, U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for Human Rights John Shattuck told RFE/RL that indicted war criminals "should not have a good night's sleep until they are in The Hague," where the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia is based. Shattuck added that it is "very likely" that Karadzic will be arrested soon and sent to the Dutch city for trial. And in Washington, CBS Television charged that a prominent indicted Bosnian Serb war criminal is living openly in Foca, where he committed his alleged crimes, and that NATO troops present there are unwilling to arrest him. HAGUE COURT SUBPOENAS BOSNIAN WITNESSES. The Hague-based tribunal announced on 15 October that it has issued a subpoena demanding that six witnesses living on Bosnian government- controlled territory appear next week to testify in the case of three Muslims and a Croat. The four are charged with having committed atrocities against Serbs in 1992 at the Celebici prison camp. Only one of the witnesses, General Jovan Divjak, has agreed to testify, RFE/RL reported on 16 October. Divjak is a Serb who held a Bosnian army command throughout the war. After the Dayton agreements were signed, he and many other Serbian or Croatian officers were purged by the Muslim authorities and replaced with Muslims. UN ALLOWS SERBIAN FLAG IN VUKOVAR. Representatives of the UN, which is administering eastern Slavonia in its transition from Serbian to Croatian control, ruled in Vukovar on 15 October that the Serbian flag can be displayed at official functions if the Serbian minority wants it. Croatian members of the Vukovar City Council had objected to having the Serbian flag displayed at council meetings. The UN said, however, that Croatian law guarantees any minority the right to use its national flag alongside the Croatian one. Meanwhile in Belgrade, a UN spokeswoman said no one knows yet when exactly Croatia will take full control of eastern Slavonia. She added that Secretary General Kofi Annan is not satisfied with the overall state of affairs there, and that the Serbian population remains disquieted about the possible return of Croatian control. MONTENEGRIN POLICE ARREST ALLEGED SERBIAN AGENTS. Police authorities in Podgorica announced on 16 October that they arrested 11 men from Belgrade and Novi Sad allegedly sent by the Serbian authorities to carry out unspecified tasks in conjunction with the 19 October Montenegrin presidential election. The vote pits Prime Minister Milo Djukanovic, who favors more autonomy for Montenegro, against President Momir Bulatovic, a supporter of Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic. The police said the arrested men had a telephone number of a member of Bulatovic's security team who was to tell them exactly what to do. Most are unemployed and were promised a large amount of money should Bulatovic win. The police added that all of those arrested have a criminal record and that some of them were paramilitaries in Croatia or Bosnia. MONTENEGRO UPDATES VOTING LISTS. Montenegrin Supreme Court President Ratko Vukotic said in Podgorica on 16 October that 9,000 people have asked that their names be added to voter registration lists in time for the upcoming election. Western monitors present during the first round of presidential voting in September charged that many eligible voters, primarily Djukanovic supporters, had been left off the lists. In Belgrade, "Danas" reported on 15 October that communist politicians close to Mirjana Markovic, who is also Milosevic's wife, have given $2 million to Bulatovic's campaign. KOSOVARS CHARGE BELGRADE WITH CRACKDOWN. Spokesmen for the Democratic League of Kosovo, the leading ethnic Albanian political organization in Serbia's southern province, said in Pristina on 15 October that Serbian police have staged a crackdown in three ethnic Albanian villages near Djakovica. The spokesmen added that police mistreated some 100 Albanians in the raids, which were made in response to an armed attack on a Serbian police station two days earlier (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 15 October 1997). On 16 October, Radio Pristina reported that one person was killed in an attack on a police station in Klicina. Meanwhile in Pristina, ethnic Albanian student spokesman Bujar Dugoli said the students will continue their street protests unless the Serbian authorities implement a 1996 agreement with the Albanians on restoring Albanian-language education in Kosovo. On 1 October, the police broke up the first major demonstration in years in Pristina. ALBANIA SETS TERMS FOR BETTER RELATIONS WITH BELGRADE. Albanian Foreign Minister Paskal Milo said in Tirana on 15 October that Yugoslavia must fulfill some basic conditions before Tirana can consider holding what he called top-level bilateral talks, BETA news agency reported. Milo said Belgrade must first implement the 1996 education agreement and end what he called police repression of the Kosovars. Belgrade, he continued, must also conclude agreements with Tirana on border and consular affairs, as well as on economic relations and trade. GREECE PLEDGES MORE AID TO ALBANIA. Greek Prime Minister Kostas Simitis said in Tirana on 15 October that the "development of Albania benefits Greece. Better cooperation with Greece benefits Albania." He told his Albanian counterpart, Fatos Nano, that Greece will provide a $72 million loan to Albania and that Greece will continue its efforts to help rebuild Albania's police force. The prime ministers signed agreements on fighting crime and illegal immigration, promoting military cooperation, and cooperating on infrastructure projects. They also agreed to open a Greek consulate in Korca and to set up three new crossing points along their border. Simitis said Greece will take steps to give legal status to many Albanian migrants illegally staying in that country. Nano pledged to make Greek-language schooling more readily available to Albania's Greek minority. ROMANIAN PREMIER ACCUSES 'REVOLUTIONARIES' OF BLACKMAIL. Victor Ciorbea on 15 October said the "revolutionaries" staging a hunger strike in Bucharest are "blackmailing" the government. Earlier, the premier had said the joint commission tasked with examining whether "revolutionaries" qualify for special privileges will include experts from the Ministry of Interior and the Prosecutor-General's Office, members of the parliament's two chambers, and representatives of the "revolutionaries," RFE/RL's Bucharest bureau reported. A protocol on setting up the commission was signed with "revolutionaries" representatives. But Dan Iosif, one of the leaders of the hunger strikers, said the "revolutionaries" are demanding that the government withdraw the draft amendment to the law, instead of simply postponing the debate on the legislation. He added that the hunger strike will continue. POLITICAL UPROAR OVER 'REVOLUTIONARIES' STRIKE. Also on 15 October, former President Ion Iliescu again visited the striking "revolutionaries" and encouraged them to persist in their demands, prompting Ciorbea to comment that he hopes the strikers are not being manipulated. Culture Minister Ion Caramitru on 15 October threatened to resign over the government's decision to postpone the debate on the amendment. The next day, Iosif accused Iliescu, Ciorbea, and other leaders of seeking to make political capital out of the strikers. He added that the protesters intend to "ask for political asylum in the U.S." The Party of Social Democracy in Romania faction walked out of the Senate debates after National Peasant Party Christian Democratic Senator Serban Sandulescu accused Iliescu and Iosif of "destabilizing the country." And Sandulescu resigned from the commission overseeing the law's implementation to protest President Emil Constantinescu's position on the strikers, Radio Bucharest and Mediafax reported. CHISINAU, TIRASPOL AGREE ON CONFIDENCE-BUILDING MEASURES. Moldovan Defense Minister Valeriu Pasat and his Transdniestrian counterpart, Stanislav Hajeev, have agreed on a number of "confidence-building" measures, RFE/RL's Chisinau bureau reported on 15 October. The agreement provides for exchange visits to military units situated in the security zone and on military maneuvers. Nikolai Lepihov, Hajeev's deputy, said Pasat handed Transdniestrian leader Igor Smirnov a message from President Petru Lucinschi. Sources close to Smirnov said the message deals with the preparations for the CIS summit scheduled to take place in Chisinau on 22-23 October. Lucinschi asked Smirnov to "intensify control" over the so-called "voluntary organizations" of Transdniestrian paramilitary "in order to avoid any provocations" during the summit. MOLDOVAN COMMUNISTS APPEAL TO CONSTITUTIONAL COURT. Vladimir Voronin, the leader of the Party of Moldovan Communists, told journalists in Chisinau on 15 October that his party will appeal to the Constitutional Court against the parliament's rejection of the proposed plebiscite on the law on land sale and purchase (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 13 October 1997). Voronin said the parliament's decision to disregard the 245,000 signatures supporting the referendum "once again demonstrates the anti-people, destructive nature" of the legislature, BASA-press and Infotag reported. GERMAN FOREIGN MINISTER IN SOFIA. Klaus Kinkel, on a one-day visit to Sofia on 15 October, told a news conference that the "decision on Bulgaria's admission to the EU and NATO has already been taken and the only question is when and how." After talks with President Petar Stoyanov, Prime Minister Ivan Kostov, and Foreign Minister Nadezhda Mihailova, Kinkel pledged that Germany will remain a "reliable partner" in Bulgarian efforts to join the Euro-Atlantic organizations, RFE/RL's Sofia bureau reported. xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx Copyright (c) 1997 RFE/RL, Inc. 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