|Every custom was once an eccentricity; every idea was once an absurdity. - Holbrook Jackson|
RFE/RL NEWSLINE Vol. 1, No. 142, Part II, 20 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 * BELARUSIANS PROTEST RESTRICTIVE MEDIA LAW * DJUKANOVIC WINS MONTENEGRIN PRESIDENTIAL VOTE * PALE LEADERSHIP UNITES AROUND KRAJISNIK End Note THE SECURITY NATO CAN'T PROVIDE xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx EAST-CENTRAL EUROPE BELARUSIANS PROTEST RESTRICTIVE MEDIA LAW. Some 1,000 people took part in a protest march in central Minsk on 19 October to denounce new legislation that would allow Belarusian officials to close any media outlet releasing materials that the government believes threaten the country's national interests or defame its president or other officials mentioned in the constitution, RFE/RL's Belarusian Service reported. The new legislation would require that all publications register with the state and not just, as now, those whose circulation exceeds 500 copies. Among the marchers was Pavel Sheremet, the Russian Public Television correspondent who spent more than two months in a Belarusian detention center and who still faces trial on charges that he illegally tried to cross the Belarusian-Lithuanian border. UKRAINE REJECTS ECONOMIC INDEPENDENCE FOR CRIMEA. Prime Minister Valeriy Pustovoytenko told journalists on 17 October that Kyiv may annul the Crimean parliament's decision to put the peninsula in the same time zone as Moscow and to seek economic independence from Ukraine, Interfax reported. Pustovoytenko added that Crimea could make progress "only together" with the rest of Ukraine. At the same press conference, he refused to answer questions about the lawsuit brought against him by former Prime Minister Pavel Lazarenko. POWER PROBLEMS PLAGUE UKRAINE. A cracked pipeline recently shut down another nuclear power plant, Ukrainian media reported. Operators at the Zaporizhska nuclear power plant took that step after discovering a leak. Shortly before, managers at the Chornobyl plant announced that it will not start up again until sometime in 1998 (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 15 October 1997). Ukraine is also suffering from a shortage of natural gas, ITAR-TASS reported on 17 October. Ukrgazprom no longer has any reserves and hopes to draw from state reserves. Meanwhile, unidentified thieves drilled a hole in the Druzhba pipeline near the village of Suskovo in Ukraine's Transcarpathian region, ITAR-TASS reported on 18 October. The pipeline burst and several tons of oil flowed into a tributary of the River Uzh, which marks a large stretch of the Ukrainian-Slovak border. It is the third incident this year in which attempts have been made to tap the pipeline that carries oil from Russia to Western Europe. UKRAINIAN RAILWAYS REFUSE TO HELP DEFENSE MINISTRY. The railways are refusing to transport Defense Ministry freight and passengers until the government pays what the ministry owes for past services, ITAR-TASS reported on 19 October. The railways' decision has blocked delivery of basic necessities to military bases and may create chaos when some 100,000 draftees are discharged from the service and sent home. KINKEL MEETS BALTIC COUNTERPARTS. German Foreign Minister Klaus Kinkel told journalists in Riga on 17 October that the European Commission's recommendation that EU entry talks be started with Estonia will benefit both Latvia and Lithuania, ETA and BNS reported. Kinkel made that remark after meeting with his Baltic counterparts. He stressed that Germany wants all three Baltic States to join the EU as soon as possible and will make every effort to achieve that goal. He also rejected as ungrounded concerns that investors will now prefer Estonia over the two other Baltic States. Toomas Hendrik Ilves of Estonia supported that viewpoint, noting that portfolio investments are moving to Latvia and Lithuania. Similarly, Algirdas Saudargas of Lithuania said investments into his country have recently increased. Kinkel also commented that Bonn favors good relations between the Baltics and Russia, and he urged the Baltic States to sign border agreements with Moscow. BALTICS SEEK TO ABOLISH NON-TARIFF CUSTOMS BARRIERS. Meeting among themselves earlier on 17 October, the Baltic foreign ministers agreed to sign in November an accord that will eventually abolish non-tariff customs barriers, ETA and BNS reported. Initialed in September, that agreement is seen as an important step toward creating a Baltic free economic zone. Two other agreements, on the free movement of services and labor forces, still require a great deal of work, according to Latvian Foreign Minister Valdis Birkavs. RUSSIAN, LITHUANIAN BORDER DEMARCATION ACCORD READY FOR SIGNING. Foreign Ministers Yevgenii Primakov and Algirdas Saudargas held talks in Moscow on 18 October to discuss Lithuanian President Algirdas Brazauskas's upcoming visit to the Russian capital, during which the bilateral border demarcation agreement is expected to be signed, BNS and ITAR-TASS reported. The previous day, Russian and Lithuanian negotiators put the finishing touches to the agreement, which both sides hail as signaling a new era in bilateral relations. Brazauskas's visit to Moscow is scheduled for 23-25 October. POLISH PREMIER-DESIGNATE BACK AT WORK AFTER HOSPITALIZATION. Shortly after Polish President Aleksander Kwasniewski asked him to form a government, Jerzy Busek was hospitalized for a throat infection, PAP reported on 17 October. The next day, however, Busek was released. He pledged to start work immediately on completing the formation of the new coalition government. CZECH POLICE DISPERSE SKINHEADS. Police broke up a skinhead gathering near Plzen on 19 October after participants began shouting Nazi slogans, CTK reported. Seventeen of the participants were detained briefly. According to the Czech news agency, the gathering attracted some 500 skinheads from the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Germany, and Italy. SLOVAK PRESIDENT, PREMIER IN RARE AGREEMENT. Slovak President Michal Kovac and Prime Minister Vladimir Meciar issued a joint statement on 17 October saying they will work together to promote Slovakia's entry into the EU, Slovak media reported. This rare display of unity between two men who have typically been at odds was greeted with skepticism by virtually all other Slovak political leaders. HUNGARIAN CONSTITUTIONAL COURT ACCUSES OFFICIALS OF EXERTING PRESSURE. Constitutional Court Chairman Laszlo Solyom on 19 October said Foreign Minister Laszlo Kovacs and parliamentary chairman Zoltan Gal exerted pressure on the court before its ruling on the referendum on foreign ownership of land, Hungarian media reported. Solyom said that in a telephone conversation, the two politicians reminded one of the judges of the court's responsibility. Kovacs rejected the accusation, saying Solyom's remark was a "political attack in bad taste." He said the telephone conversation was only to brief the judge on the date of the planned referendum and how it fitted into the NATO enlargement timetable. SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE DJUKANOVIC WINS MONTENEGRIN PRESIDENTIAL VOTE. The Montenegrin Electoral Commission announced on 20 October that Prime Minister Milo Djukanovic beat outgoing President Momir Bulatovic in the previous day's elections by just over 6,000 votes. Belgrade-based Radio B-92 said Bulatovic has conceded defeat. The turnout was 72 percent. Djukanovic favors wide autonomy from Belgrade, while Bulatovic is a loyal ally of Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic. Observers expect Djukanovic to concentrate his energies on blocking attempts by Milosevic to increase the authority of the federal government at the expense of that of the two republics. Also in Podgorica, the Interior Ministry charged that the Belgrade authorities sent 11 agents to Montenegro the previous week to disrupt the vote (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 16 October 1997), "Nasa Borba" wrote on 20 October. U.S. CALLS FOR END TO KOSOVO VIOLENCE. A U.S. State Department spokesman on 18 October urged the Serbian authorities in Kosovo and the province's ethnic Albanian majority to end violence and resume a dialog. In recent weeks, Albanian terrorists have attacked Serbian police stations and other government installations. At the same time, Serbian police have staged raids on ethnic Albanian villages, and three Kosovars have died in police custody. Albanian terrorists on 17 October attacked a camp near Decani housing ethnic Serbian refugees from Albania. In Pristina, Kosovar shadow-state President Ibrahim Rugova blamed the current violence on what he called police attempts to intimidate Albanians. Rugova added that now may be the last chance to restore a dialog, an RFE/RL correspondent reported from Pristina. Meanwhile, on 18 October, some 13,000 Albanians attended the funeral near Pec of a young Kosovar killed in a raid on a police station. PEACEKEEPERS INSPECT KARADZIC'S COMPOUND. French and Italian peacekeepers on 20 October inspected the factory compound near Pale where Bosnian Serb leader and indicted war criminal Radovan Karadzic has his office. Observers said the inspection is part of an effort by SFOR to remove from the scene Karadzic's bodyguards and other special police units, which are illegal under the Dayton agreements. Meanwhile on nearby Mount Jahorina the previous day, angry crowds of Bosnian Serb civilians wielding sticks taunted Italian peacekeepers as they attempted to inspect a former police station. None of the peacekeepers were injured. PALE LEADERSHIP UNITES AROUND KRAJISNIK. The steering committee of the governing Serbian Democratic Party (SDS) agreed that the party will take part in the 23 November parliamentary elections. The committee also abolished the post of party president, which had been held by extreme hard-liner Aleksa Buha, and replaced it with a collective presidency. An RFE/RL correspondent reported from Pale that the decisions to participate in the elections and to set up a collective leadership favor the SDS's relatively moderate faction under Momcilo Krajisnik at the expense of Buha's group. WESTENDORP SPOKESMAN ACCUSES BOSNIAN SERBS OF "SABOTAGE." A spokesman for Carlos Westendorp, the international community's chief representative in Bosnia, said in Sarajevo on 19 October that the Pale-based Bosnian Serb leadership committed "sabotage" when it disabled a television transmitter broadcasting programs of the rival Serbian network, based in Banja Luka. The Pale Serbs had used the transmitter, located at Veliki Zep near the military stronghold of Han Pijesak, to broadcast their hard-line programs on 16 October. NATO troops took control of the facility two days later and broadcast Banja Luka's programs. But Pale loyalists meanwhile removed some key parts, thereby rendering the transmitter inoperative. Meanwhile, British Foreign Secretary Robin Cook on 19 October pledged $50,000 in aid for Banja Luka Television. SKINHEADS KILL ROMA YOUTH IN BELGRADE. A group of skinheads murdered a 13-year-old Roma boy in central Belgrade on 18 October, an RFE/RL correspondent reported from the Serbian capital. "Dnevni telegraf" wrote that the boy appeared to have been killed solely because of his ethnic origins. The opposition Democratic Party said in a statement that the Interior Ministry has been so involved in politics in recent years that it has neglected protecting average citizens. Spokesmen for other human rights groups said the killing reflects the growing polarization of society. ITALIANS RAISE ALBANIAN REFUGEE SHIP. Brindisi authorities said on 20 October that an Albanian refugee ship that sank in March has been raised and is being towed to the Italian port. The ship is believed to hold the bodies of at least 80 people who perished when the overcrowded vessel suddenly sank. Authorities will seek to determine how the ship went down. Many of the 34 Albanian survivors charge that an Italian navy vessel deliberately rammed the Albanian ship. Italy denies the claim. At the time of the sinking, thousands of Albanians were fleeing the anarchy in their country by seeking passage to Italy. The Italian navy had received orders from Rome to discourage additional refugees from landing. ROME, TIRANA SEEK $300 MILLION FOR ALBANIA. Italian Foreign Minister Lamberto Dini, addressing an international conference on Albania that took place in Rome on 17 October, said Albanian Prime Minister Fatos Nano's goal of raising $300 million for his country over the next 18 months is realistic. Dini stressed, however, that foreign support for Albania will depend on the degree to which the Albanians help themselves. World Bank Vice President Johannes Linn added that his goal is to raise $1.5 billion for Albania over five or six years, provided that Albania continues to promote democracy and institutional reforms. On 22 October, donors will begin pledging specific sums at a conference in Brussels. ROMANIAN GOVERNMENT ANNULS AGREEMENT WITH 'REVOLUTIONARIES'... The government on 18 October annulled an agreement recently reached with one of the organizations representing the "1989 revolutionaries." It explained its decision by noting that the organization does not represent all the "revolutionaries." It also said the amended law abolishing the privileges to "revolutionaries" will not be subject to an emergency debate. Meanwhile, some 60 "revolutionaries" are continuing their hunger strike in Bucharest. Dan Iosif, the chief spokesman of the group, said on 19 October that the strikers will use Molotov cocktails if police try to disperse the group. He also said the hunger strike will continue for 200 days, after which the strikers will set themselves ablaze, RFE/RL's Bucharest bureau reported. ...APPROVES DRAFT LAW ON OPENING SECRET POLICE FILES. The government on 17 October approved a draft law on access to the files of the former secret police, RFE/RL's Bucharest bureau reported. Under the bill, the name of the informant would be erased from copies of the files, but people who can prove they suffered on account of the information contained in the files could ask for the identity of the informant to be revealed. Access to the files would be monitored by a nine-member National Council supervised by the parliament. The bill also stipulates that officials, from the presidential to the local government level, are required to declare whether they collaborated with the secret police. Those who admit to collaboration or those found to have made false declarations will be requested to resign. If they refuse to do so, their names will be published in the official government journal "Monitorul oficial." ROMANIA'S FORMER POLITICAL PRISONERS DIVIDED. At a congress in Bucharest on 19 October, the Association of Former Political Prisoners in Romania (AFDPR) elected Cicerone Ioanitoiu as chairman. Ioanitoiu was backed by Ion Diaconescu, the head of the National Peasant Party Christian Democratic (PNTCD). Meanwhile, former AFDPR chairman Ticu Dumitrescu, whose membership in the PNTCD was recently suspended (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 2 October 1997), plans to hold a rival congress in Brasov on 23-24 October. Dumitrescu criticized the government draft on opening secret police files, which is different from the draft submitted by him to the parliament. He said parliamentary oversight of the body monitoring access to the files amounts to "political supervision," which he said, is bound to impair the process of revealing all available information on the files. MOLDOVAN PRESIDENT ON UPCOMING CIS SUMMIT. Petru Lucinschi told ITAR-TASS on 17 October that he plans no "special initiatives" toward a settlement of the Transdniester conflict at the CIS summit scheduled for 22-23 October in Chisinau. He said that the presidents of Moldova, Russia, and Ukraine will meet with the Transdniester leadership during the summit and that he hoped they will agree to some "concrete measures" on the demilitarized zone. Meanwhile, Vladimir Zhirinovsky, the leader of the extreme nationalist Russian Liberal Democratic Party (LDPR), said he has designated Aleksandr Saidakov, a former Minister of Industry in the Tiraspol separatist government, to set up a branch of the LDPR in the region. COUNCIL OF EUROPE RAPPORTEURS IN MOLDOVA. Two Council of Europe rapporteurs told journalists in Chisinau on 17 October that while Moldova has made progress toward democratization and bringing its legislation into line with European standards, much remains to be done in implementing legal reforms. They noted there is "regrettably little progress" in finding a settlement to the Transdniester conflict, which, they said, depends primarily on Russia and the withdrawal of the Russian military from the separatist region, RFE/RL's Chisinau bureau reported. They also commented that in solving the problem of the Bessarabian Church, the rights of association and freedom of worship must be strictly observed. END NOTE THE SECURITY NATO CAN'T PROVIDE by Paul Goble Ever more East Europeans recognize that there are threats to their national security that NATO membership, in itself, will not solve. That recognition has not made most East Europeans any less interested in being included in the Western alliance. But it has transformed discussions about NATO in Eastern Europe and led an increasing number of countries in the region to take steps aimed at promoting their national security regardless of whether NATO invites them to join. With the collapse of the Warsaw Pact and then of the Soviet Union, virtually all countries in the region saw NATO membership as the foundation of their future security. Many even tended to view NATO membership as a panacea for all their problems. If they got in, they would be taken care of and their security would be assured. But if they did not, then they would be left without hope of a secure future. Such perspectives helped frame the debate about security in many of those countries, but three developments have helped change both the understanding of NATO and the role those countries can play in promoting their own national security. First, countries in Eastern Europe have had to deal with a West that has been anything but unanimous about the desirability or even the possibility of expanding the alliance eastward anytime soon. Many Western leaders have worried about the dangers involved in offending Russian sensibilities, and many Western populations have been concerned about the costs involved, which many in the West are reluctant to pay now that the Cold War is a thing of the past. As a result, East European countries have had to think about a future in which only a few may become members of the alliance soon and in which many of them will never join. Second, NATO's outreach programs such as Partnership for Peace have taught many East European leaders just what NATO can do and even more important what it cannot. As ever more of them understand, NATO is a military defense alliance intended, in the first instance, to prevent or, in the worst case, to respond to military aggression. Its goal is not to deal with violence within countries. And as the West's reluctance to become involved in Bosnia has shown, the alliance remains hesitant to deal with such violence. Moreover, NATO, as a political and military organization, provides neither the structure nor the weapons to combat other threats to national security that many countries in that region now face. The Western alliance cannot prevent illegal migration or develop a legal or judicial system for countries lacking such systems. Nor can it create a stable banking system or tax regime, without which any government is at risk of subversion. At best, the Western alliance can create a climate in which governments and peoples can take those often difficult steps. Indeed, many East European countries have learned that NATO member states face many of the same threats--such as illegal migration, organized crime, and subversion of banking systems--without being able to count on Brussels for a solution. Third, ever more East Europeans recognize that the threats that NATO cannot defend against are precisely the ones they must overcome and that the threat NATO was intended to combat is for most of them less immediate. Virtually all East Europeans continue to fear the possibility that Russia will once again seek to dominate the region; they thus see NATO membership as a guarantee against that possibility. But ever more of them also understand that the threat to their countries over the next decade is less likely to take the form of an invading army than that of the subversion of their banking systems or economies. They also recognize that improving their own domestic situations will have security consequences: it will attract ever more Western investment, and that investment will tend to provide a bulwark against the more immediate, non-military threats. Again, this new understanding in Eastern Europe has not made the governments and peoples there any less interested in joining NATO. Nor has it made NATO any less important for the future of Europe. But it has meant that the countries of the region now recognize just how much they must do to promote their own security rather than waiting for someone else to do it for them. Paradoxically, that, in itself, makes them even better candidates for inclusion in the Western alliance. xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx Copyright (c) 1997 RFE/RL, Inc. All rights reserved. xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx SUBSCRIBING: 1) To subscribe to RFERL-L, please send a message to firstname.lastname@example.org 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 email@example.com 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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