|The mind is not a vessel to be filled, but a fire to be ignited. - Plutarch|
RFE/RL NEWSLINE Vol. 1, No. 141, Part II, 17 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 CENTRAL ASIA IN TRANSITION: Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan. This six-part report on the RFE/RL Web site details how much has changed since the collapse of the USSR -- and how much has not. http://www.rferl.org/nca/special/asia/index.html xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx Headlines, Part II * UKRAINE WILL NOT RESTART CHORNOBYL THIS YEAR * HARD-LINE BOSNIAN SERB TELEVISION BACK ON AIR * KRAJISNIK CASTS DOUBT ON BOSNIAN SERB ELECTIONS End Note HOW THE CIS MAY END xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx EAST-CENTRAL EUROPE UKRAINE WILL NOT RESTART CHORNOBYL THIS YEAR. Officials at the Chornobyl nuclear power plant said cracks in the piping in one of the reactors will keep the plant closed until sometime in 1998, Interfax reported on 16 October. That reactor, the only one to have operated in the last several years, was shut off in June for maintenance, during which the cracks were discovered. Chornobyl managers denied Kyiv press reports that workers at the plant have been subject to excessive levels of radiation as a result of the cracks. Ukraine has pledged to close the plant by the year 2000 if foreign governments provide sufficient funds to build an alternative power facility. UKRAINE TO SELL MILITARY TRUCKS TO INDIA. The AvtoKraz factory in Kremenchuk will sell 600 military trucks to India starting next year, Interfax-Ukraine reported on 16 October. The deal is valued at some $24 million. Ukraine is now the world's fifth-largest arms exporter. BELARUSIAN JOURNALISTS PLAN "GAGGED MOUTH" MARCH. Journalists opposed to the authoritarian rule of Belarusian President Alyaksandr Lukashenka are planning to hold a "gagged mouth march" in Minsk on 19 October to protest what they call the "totalitarian control over information" in that country, ITAR-TASS reported on 17 October. The organizers said they hope to use the demonstration to call attention to the dangers posed by both Lukashenka's policies and the draft media law that would give the government sweeping new powers to suppress dissent. Meanwhile, collective farm leaders jointly protested Lukashenka's removal of one of their number, Interfax reported on 16 October. The collective farmers said the president's action is "illegal." IMF OFFICIAL ON FUND'S FUTURE ROLE IN BALTICS. Dimitris Demekas, the IMF's permanent representative in Estonia and Latvia, has said he expects IMF financial assistance to the Baltic States to decline in the coming years as the countries' economies continue to strengthen, RFE/RL reported on 16 October. Demekas was addressing an international conference in Riga on banking and finance in the Baltics. He said that with the growing prospect of EU membership for the Baltics, particularly for Estonia, the role of the IMF as the main economic policy adviser to the their governments would be bound to decline. At the same time, he stressed the fund would continue to play a key role in the region, particularly in promoting sound banking principles and limiting financial sector risks. LATVIAN PARLIAMENT REJECTS AMENDMENTS TO CITIZENSHIP LAW. Lawmakers on 16 October rejected amendments to the citizenship law proposed by the People's Harmony Party, BNS and ITAR-TASS reported. Under the amendments, citizenship would have been granted to children born in Latvia since independence and the age limit for submitting citizenship applications lifted (currently only those under 25 can apply). Previously, the Cooperation Council of the coalition parties had agreed to reject the amendments to safeguard a provision of the government cooperation agreement whereby the citizenship law cannot be changed. U.S., LITHUANIAN DEFENSE CHIEFS MEET ON NATO EXPANSION. U.S. Defense Secretary William Cohen and Lithuanian Minister of National Defense Ceslovas Stankevicius met at the Pentagon on 16 October for talks on NATO expansion and Vilnius's bid for admission to the alliance. Their discussions focused on steps Lithuania must take to join the alliance. Cohen praised Lithuania's participation in Bosnian peacekeeping operations and the Baltic Peacekeeping Battalion as well as its efforts to form a joint peacekeeping battalion with Poland. "The Baltic States have made a strong effort to measure up to NATO standards, " Cohen said. At the same time, he warned that the "stairs to NATO membership are very steep." Commenting on Russian concerns, Pentagon spokesman Kenneth Bacon stressed Moscow has nothing to fear from Baltic membership in NATO. POLISH INQUIRY EXONERATES SOVIETS IN 1946 POGROM. A four- year government investigation has determined that Soviet officials did not incite the violence that led to the killing of 42 Jews in the Polish town of Kielce in 1946, PAP reported on 16 October. In the past, many Poles have laid the blame for this tragedy on the Soviet authorities. Members of the investigation team said they may urge Warsaw to bring to justice Polish officials who failed to prevent the killings. CZECH GOVERNMENT CLOSES NAZI ARCHIVE. The Czech government has closed a Prague-based Nazi SS archive to researchers, "Dnes" reported on 16 October. According to the daily, the authorities took that step to prevent the theft of materials from the archives and also to avoid angering the German government, which currently is pressing for the return of the archives to Germany. OSCE URGES SLOVAKIA TO ADOPT MINORITY LANGUAGE LAW. In an interview published in "Sme" on 16 October, Max van der Stoel, the Organization on Security and Cooperation in Europe's high commissioner on national minorities, urged that Slovakia bow to international pressure and pass a law that would protect the language rights of minority groups in that country. But van der Stoel said he remains "uncertain" as to whether Bratislava would do so. HUNGARIAN CONSTITUTIONAL COURT REFUSES TO RULE ON NATO REFERENDUM. The Constitutional Court on 16 October said it is not competent to rule whether the referendum on NATO membership can be held separately from the plebiscite on land ownership by foreigners. The court's announcement came in response to the government's request for clarification on the issue. Prime Minister Gyula Horn responded by saying the referendum on NATO memberhsip will proceed as planned on 16 November. Horn said the governemnt would be able to obtain the two-thirds majority necessary for the passage in the parliament of the proposal to hold one referendum on NATO and a separate one on land ownership, Reuters reported on 17 October. HUNGARIAN OPPOSITION PARTIES SIGN ELECTORAL PACT. The Alliance of Young Democrats and the Christian Democratic Alliance, set up by former members of the Christian Democratic Party, have signed an electoral accord, Hungarian media reported on 16 October. The agreement stipulates that the two parties will field joint candidates in single-member constituencies in the 1998 parliamentary elections. The accord also applies to local elections. SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE HARD-LINE BOSNIAN SERB TELEVISION BACK ON AIR. Pale TV resumed broadcasting on 16 October, just over two weeks after NATO troops seized its transmitters. Pale-based officials would not reveal how they managed to get back on the air. Some observers suggested that the Serbs used a series of small transmitters over a large area in what the observers called a "guerrilla action." NATO spokesmen said in Sarajevo that SFOR is trying to determine how Pale TV managed to resume broadcasting. The programs did not differ in content or language from the earlier anti-Western transmissions that prompted SFOR to take control of the principal transmitters. Meanwhile, the "Los Angeles Times" wrote on 17 October that the U.S. has supplied $700,000 worth of broadcasting equipment to Pale's rivals at Banja Luka TV and will provide training for television journalists there. KRAJISNIK CASTS DOUBT ON BOSNIAN SERB ELECTIONS. Momcilo Krajisnik, the Serbian member of the Bosnian joint presidency and spokesman for the faction supporting Radovan Karadzic, said in Belgrade on 16 October that "without presidential elections, there can be no parliamentary elections." He and his rival President Biljana Plavsic recently agreed that Bosnian Serb parliamentary elections can go ahead on 23 November. She argues, however, that nothing was decided on holding presidential elections in December, which her opponents demand (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 16 October 1997). Elsewhere in Belgrade, Orthodox Patriarch Pavle and some 60 Serbian and Bosnian Serb intellectuals signed a declaration defending indicted war criminals Karadzic and General Ratko Mladic. The signatories charge that the two are victims of Western anti-Serbian sentiments. BOSNIAN GOVERNMENT TO STRIKE DEAL FOR MONTENEGRIN PORT? Bosnian Transport Minister Rasim Gacanovic said in Sarajevo on 16 October that his government wants talks with the Montenegrin authorities on use of the port of Bar. Negotiations with Croatia over use of the port of Ploce collapsed two days earlier (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 15 October 1997). Mladen Mitrovic, the commercial. manager for Bar's port authority, said the Bosnians' "proposal of cooperation can only be welcomed and [that Bar is] interested in cooperation with [other republics of] former Yugoslavia." The communists developed Bar in the 1980s after building a costly railway link between the port and Belgrade. A rail connection between Sarajevo and Bar would have to go through either Croatia or the Republika Srpska and Yugoslavia. Bar has fallen on hard times following the breakup of the former Yugoslavia and the imposition of international sanctions. SERBIAN POLICE KILL ONE PERSON IN ATTACK ON KOSOVO STATION. Serbian police in Pristina on 16 October identified the man killed in an attack on a police station near Klina as an Albanian terrorist (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 16 October 1997). The attack is the latest in a recent series that the police attribute to the Kosovo Liberation Army. Ethnic Albanian spokesmen charged that police have mistreated Albanian villagers in reprisal for the attacks. Meanwhile in Skopje, German Foreign Minister Klaus Kinkel said that the international community holds Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic responsible for developments in Kosovo. KOSOVO STUDENTS TO RESUME PROTESTS. Representatives of ethnic Albanian students in Pristina have agreed to resume mass protests on 29 October. The students want the Serbian authorities to implement a 1996 agreement that provides for restoring Albanian- language education at all levels in the province. The students also demand the immediate restoration of Albanian-language instruction at Pristina University, where for some years professors have taught only in Serbo-Croatian. On 1 October, police broke up the first major protest by Kosovar students in years. Meanwhile in Belgrade, local student leaders told "Nasa Borba" that they are in contact with the Albanian students in Pristina and hope to meet with them soon. Visiting student leaders from Ljubljana promised computers and other equipment to the Belgrade students. CROATIAN ANTI-FASCISTS CRITICIZE GOVERNMENT. Spokesmen for the League of Anti-Fascist Fighters of Croatia said in Zagreb on 16 October that their members, who fought the Axis powers during World War II, do not receive all the benefits to which they are legally entitled, an RFE/RL correspondent reported from the Croatian capital. The spokesmen charged that the veterans are paid smaller pensions than those they should receive and that their rights to housing and to officially recognized invalid status are not respected. The veterans of Josip Broz Tito's Partisan movement, who enjoyed many privileges under communist rule, also charged that the current authorities belittle the Partisans' war record and praise Tito's enemies as Croatia's true patriots. Meanwhile, the government announced that it and UN officials have uncovered two criminal rings smuggling automobiles and coffee to Yugoslavia via eastern Slavonia. ALBANIA'S BERISHA REFUSES TO ATTEND ROME CONFERENCE. Former President Sali Berisha said in Tirana on 16 October that he will not attend an international conference of foreign aid donors, which opened in Rome on 17 October. Berisha said his inclusion in an Albanian delegation led by the Socialists would only be "a facade." He demanded that he have an opportunity in Rome to present the views of his Democratic Party instead. Representatives of the Organization on Security and Cooperation in Europe said, however, that Berisha will be able to state his opinions and that his presence is most desirable, especially in talks on constitutional reform. Albania's foreign aid donors are anxious to stabilize the country's political life (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 15 October 1997). POLITICAL TURMOIL CONTINUES OVER ROMANIAN 'REVOLUTIONARIES.' The Chamber of Deputies on 16 October approved the government's request to postpone the debate on amending the law granting benefits to participants in the 1989 uprising. The vote was cast without the participation of deputies of the Party of Social Democracy in Romania (PDSR), who announced they are boycotting the legislature's debates in solidarity with the strikers, RFE/RL's Bucharest bureau reported. At a press conference later on 16 October, PDSR leader Ion Iliescu accused the government of using the dispute over the law to deflect attention from the "dramatic collapse of the economy and of living standards." He said accusations that the PDSR have instigated the strike are "monstrously absurd," Mediafax reported. Also on 16 October, Transport Minister Traian Basescu criticized President Emil Constantinescu for having intervened in the dispute and thus weakened the government's position. EBRD PRESIDENT IN BUCHAREST. Jacques de Larosiere, the president of the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, met with President Constantinescu, Prime Minister Victor Ciorbea, National Bank governor Mugur Isarescu, and Finance Minister Mircea Ciumara in Bucharest on 16 October, RFE/RL's bureau in the Romanian capital reported. Constantinescu said the discussion concentrated on Romanian infrastructure development and some "negative aspects" of Romanian bureaucracy. De Larosiere said he is "positively impressed" by the progress of reforms, adding that the EBRD intends to play a "truly historic role" in the transformation of Romania's economy if such progress continues. Ciorbea said Bucharest is aiming for the rapid privatization of the banking sector. TIRASPOL REJECTS AGREEMENT DRAFTED BY EXPERTS. Authorities in the breakaway Transdniester region have rejected the power- sharing agreement drafted by Moldovan and Transdniestrian experts in Moscow at their 5-9 October meeting, Infotag and Interfax reported. A meeting scheduled for 16 October between President Petru Lucinschi and separatist leader Igor Smirnov to consider the agreement did not take place. Moldovan presidential counselor Anatol Taranu said he doubts the agreement will be signed "in the near future". Smirnov is still examining the agreement, he noted. Vladimir Atamanyuk, the deputy chairman of the Transdniester Supreme Soviet, said in Chisinau that "such a rough draft cannot be submitted [for approval] to such a high-level CIS meeting" as the one scheduled for 22-23 October in Chisinau. He added that further work on the draft is needed. VAN DEN BROEK IN BULGARIA. EU Foreign Affairs Commissioner Hans van den Broek said during his one-day visit to Sofia on 16 October that the EU is convinced that Bulgaria's future is in the union. After meeting with President Petar Stoyanov and Prime Minister Ivan Kostov, Van den Broek told reporters the EU is very encouraged by the "very ambitious and courageous" reform process set in motion by the government. He said the reason for his visit was to confirm the EU's commitment to Bulgarian membership in the union, which, he said, is an "irrevocable process," Reuters reported. Van den Broek signed a $22.4 million Social Assistance and Job Creation Program to help some of the neediest groups to cope with unemployment and winter conditions.. In other news, the National Employment Service on 16 October announced that unemployment in September dropped to 11.5 percent from 13.9 percent the previous month. BULGARIA STARTS CLEARING LAND MINES NEAR GREEK BORDER. Bulgaria on 16 October began clearing land mines from its border with Greece. Atanas Gonevski, the head of the engineering department of the border guards, said some 556 anti-personnel mines will be dismantled from a 2-kilometer swath of land near the village of Orlitsa. He added that he hoped the operation will be concluded within two weeks. It could take as long as three years to clear all the mines from a 70-kilometer stretch of the border. He said some 80 percent of the mines are in the vicinity of the town of Momchilgrad, Reuters reported. END NOTE HOW THE CIS MAY END by Paul Goble The continued existence of the Commonwealth of Independent States is now threatened both by the leaders of member countries who think it is doing too much and by those who think it is not doing enough. The only thing those two sides seem to agree on is that Moscow is to blame, either because the Russian government has used the CIS as a cover for its own national agenda or because it has neglected to promote the organization's development. Both views are very much on public display as leaders of the 12 former Soviet republics prepare for the upcoming CIS summit in the Moldovan capital of Chisinau. On 13 October, Georgian President Eduard Shevardnadze said in his weekly radio address that Tbilisi may soon look for other partners if Moscow keeps ignoring Georgia's interests and prerogatives as an independent country. He said Georgians are increasingly angered by what he described as Moscow's crude Soviet-style approach to Georgia and the other members of the CIS. Shevardnadze also indicated that unless the Russian government changed its approach to Georgia, he would look for other partners in the West, all of whom, he stressed, have shown greater respect for his country and its interests. The next day, Ukrainian President Leonid Kuchma took a different tack, blaming the organization's failure squarely on Moscow. Kuchma said that Russia had done little or nothing to promote the CIS as an institution. Kuchma made those remarks during his visit to Kazakhstan, whose leader, President Nursultan Nazarbayev, has regularly urged that the CIS be strengthened and possibly transformed into what he calls a Eurasian Union. At one level, this debate is simply a continuation of the one that has spanned the almost six-year history of the CIS. In March, for example, the presidents of Azerbaijan, Georgia, and Ukraine, who have been promoting cooperation among themselves at the expense of CIS ties, considered not attending a CIS summit to protest both Russian actions and the suggestions by several Moscow analysts that the Russian government take an even tougher line toward CIS countries. But the problems are deeper than that, reflecting divisions inherent in the organization from the outset. Since the creation of the CIS in December 1991, some of its members have viewed the organization as a kind of divorce court, an institution that would allow them to negotiate the division of spoils from the former Soviet Union. Other countries have hoped the organization would serve as the basis either for continued cooperation among the former Soviet republics or even for their reintegration into a single political system. Neither side has been happy with what has happened, but the reasons for their unhappiness vary widely and often in unexpected ways. Some of the biggest advocates of the CIS, such as Kazakhstan's Nazarbayev, have wanted a tighter organization not so much in order to return to Russian domination but rather to rule out that possibility by establishing rules Moscow would have to follow. And some of the biggest opponents of improving CIS operation, including many in the Russian capital, have opposed developing the organization in that direction lest it restrict Moscow's freedom of action in dealing with its neighbors. Thus, while many Russian officials have claimed that the CIS is a regional security organization, they have been unwilling to fully respect the rights of non-Russian countries, including Georgia, with regard to the basing of troops and other matters. At another level, however, the arguments now being advanced by Shevardnadze, Kuchma, and other leaders of CIS member states may have more profound consequences. On the one hand, they could lead to a new agreement among the current states, one covering fewer issues but covering those in greater detail. This would formalize something that has been true but has gone largely unrecognized: namely, the 12 member countries are increasingly independent and are not interested in a single plan for reintegration sponsored by Moscow. On the other hand, those arguments could prompt current members to decide, as Shevardnadze has suggested, that some countries beyond the borders of the former Soviet Union are far more reliable partners. Either of those developments would spell the end of the CIS as it has existed until now. At the upcoming meeting in Chisinau, the first development is by far the more likely outcome. But the second is also possible, and Russian policy may even be promoting it. In addition to the actions about which both Shevardnadze and Kuchma have complained, Moscow is currently subverting the CIS by forming various bilateral and multilateral relations with CIS member states, thus calling into question the utility of the organization. As a result, the days of the Commonwealth of Independent States now appear to be numbered. The only question still open is whether it ends with a bang or a whimper. xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx Copyright (c) 1997 RFE/RL, Inc. All rights reserved. xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx SUBSCRIBING: 1) To subscribe to RFERL-L, please send a message to email@example.com 2) In the text of your message, type subscribe RFERL-L YourFirstName YourLastName UNSUBSCRIBING: 1) To un-subscribe to RFERL-L, please send a message to firstname.lastname@example.org 2) In the text of your message, type unsubscribe RFERL-L Current and Back Issues Back issues of RFE/RL Newsline and the OMRI Daily Digest are online at: http://www.rferl.org/newsline/search/ Listen to news for 13 countries RFE/RL programs for countries in the Caucasus, Central Asia, Russia and the South Slavic region are online daily at RFE/RL's 24-Hour LIVE Broadcast Studio. http://www.rferl.org/realaudio/index.html Reprint Policy To receive reprint permission, please contact Paul Goble, Publisher Email: GobleP@rferl.org Phone: 202-457-6947 Fax: 202-457-6992 Postal Address: RFE/RL, 1201 Connecticut Ave., NW Washington, DC 20036 USA RFE/RL Newsline Staff: * Paul Goble, Publisher, GobleP@rferl.org * Liz Fuller, Acting Editor (Transcaucasia) CarlsonE@rferl.org * Patrick Moore, Acting Deputy Editor (West Balkans) MooreP@rferl.org * Michael Shafir (East Balkans) ShafirM@rferl.org * Laura Belin (Russia) BelinL@rferl.org * Bruce Pannier (Central Asia) PannierB@rferl.org * Jan Cleave, CleaveJ@rferl.org * Mike Gallant, GallantM@rferl.org RFE/RL Newsline Fax: (420-2) 2112-3630
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