|When we can begin to take our failures non-seriously, it means we are ceasing to be afraid of them. It is of immense importance to learn to laugh at ourselves. - Katherine Mansfield|
RFE/RL NEWSLINE Vol. 1, No. 145, Part II, 23 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 *CIS SUMMIT OPENS IN CHISINAU *KUCHMA SIGNS ELECTION LAW, DENOUNCES PARLIAMENT *MONTENEGRIN POLICE CLOSE ALBANIAN VILLAGE TO MILOSEVIC BACKERS End Note DRAWING BORDERS GEOGRAPHIC AND POLITICAL xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx REGIONAL AFFAIRS CIS SUMMIT OPENS IN CHISINAU. Ten of the 12 CIS presidents arrived in Chisinau on 22 October to attend the 21st CIS heads of state summit. (Turkmenistan's Saparmurat Niyazov is sick, and Georgia's Eduard Shevardnadze arrived one day later) The CIS foreign ministers failed to reach agreement on the proposed creation of a committee to resolve conflicts within or between member states. Russian Foreign Minister Yevgenii Primakov said some states want that body to be purely consultative, while other unnamed countries share Russia's support for vesting it with the authority to take administrative measures and deploy peacekeepers, ITAR-TASS reported. The foreign ministers did, however, agree on a plan for resolving the Abkhaz conflict, which will be submitted to the heads of state on 23 October, Russian presidential spokesman Sergei Yastrzhembskii told ITAR-TASS. MOST PARTICIPANTS NOT OPTIMISTIC. On arriving in Chisinau, Russian President Boris Yeltsin noted that the CIS heads of state "have not met for a long time" and have drifted apart somewhat. He expressed the hope that the Chisinau gathering will serve to "glue" relations between member countries. (On the eve previous summit in March, a Russian blueprint for subverting several CIS member states was published, causing outrage among participants and contributing to the postponement of the current summit.) Ukrainian President Leonid Kuchma expressed the hope that the gathering will give impetus to the CIS's further development. His Azerbaijani counterpart, Heidar Aliev, said he hopes the CIS will become "more effective" but as a "union of equal nations [that will not] be dominated by one country " Uzbek President Islam Karimov also stressed that CIS member countries must remain independent. He warned against attempts either to revive the USSR or to conclude alternative unions within the CIS. INTER-STATE COUNCIL PRESIDENTS MEET. The presidents of the four members of the CIS Inter-State Council (Russia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, and Kyrgyzstan) met in Moscow on 22 October before flying to Chisinau, Russian agencies reported. They adopted a 13-point document on increasing economic cooperation and strengthening integration. That document provides for transferring the chairmanship of the CIS Customs Union from Belarus to Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbaev, introducing unified customs duties by the end of 1997, strengthening the work of the CIS Inter-State Economic Committee, and drafting a coordinated policy to prepare CIS states for membership of the World Trade Organization. The presidents approved in principle a request by Tajik President Imomali Rakhmonov for his country to be admitted to the Customs Union. TOP-LEVEL MEETING ON TRANSDIESTER... Presidents Yeltsin (Russia), Leonid Kuchma (Ukraine), and Petru Lucinschi (Moldova) took part in a "special meeting" on 23 October convened to discuss the Transdniester conflict, BASA-press reported. Yeltsin later told journalists that he "accepts" the proposals submitted by Lucinschi, but the Russian leader did not specify what those proposals were. Infotag reported that a Moldovan draft prepared for the meeting was based on the agreement recently reached in Moscow at the tripartite negotiations with Tiraspol representatives (see "RFE/RL Newsletter," 10 October 1997). Yeltsin also said Russia's policy is clear: "We recognize Moldova's integrity and independence and all problems must be solved in Chisinau." He also stressed the position of State Duma deputies on the Transdniester conflict does not represent the official Russian stance. ...WHILE TRANSDNIESTRIAN LEADER FAILS TO SHOW UP. Meanwhile, Igor Smirnov has failed to arrive at the CIS summit now under way in Chisinau, BASA-press reported on 23 October. Vladimir Atamanyuk, the deputy chairman of the breakaway region's Supreme Soviet, said Moldovan Premier Ion Ciubuc's invitation to Smirnov to attend both the summit and the "special meeting" at presidential level had arrived "only yesterday," despite the fact that preparations for the summit have been "on-going for two months." EAST-CENTRAL EUROPE KUCHMA SIGNS ELECTION LAW, DENOUNCES PARLIAMENT. In a speech carried on Ukrainian Television on 22 October, Ukrainian President Leonid Kuchma announced he has signed the law regulating the upcoming parliamentary elections. But he sharply criticized parliamentary deputies for "populism that borders on madness" for passing legislation without taking into account the financial resources of the country. And he called on the Ukrainian population to show maturity and vote for "morally clear and decent" deputies. Meanwhile, U.S. special adviser on aid to the newly independent states Richard Morningstar told Kuchma that Washington backs the Ukrainian president's policy of budgetary restraint and that the U.S. will continue its policy of "strategic cooperation" with Kyiv. UKRAINE, ROMANIA EXCHANGE TREATY RATIFICATION DOCUMENTS. Ukrainian Foreign Minister Hennadii Udovenko and his visiting Romanian counterpart, Adrian Severin, on 22 October exchanged documents confirming the ratification of the basic treaty signed by the two countries in June, Interfax and Radio Bucharest reported. Both ministers said the treaty signifies a "radical turning point" in bilateral relations. Udovenko told journalists that both countries have "progressive legislation" on the rights of national minorities and that there is no "political obstacle" to education in the mother tongue for the Romanian minority in Ukraine. But he added there are "technical and financial difficulties" that must be overcome. BELARUS DOES NOT WANT TO JOIN EU. At a press conference following his meeting with visiting Syrian Foreign Minister Farouk ash-Shara, Belarusian Foreign Minister Ivan Antonovich said his country has no interest in joining the EU anytime soon, Interfax-West reported on 22 October. "We want to establish relations of equality with all European organizations," Antonovich said, "but we follow our own road." The EU has been sharply critical of the increasingly authoritarian policies of Belarusian President Alyaksandr Lukashenka. KUROPATY CASE REOPENED. The Belarusian Prosecutor-General's Office has reopened the investigation into Kuropaty, a mass grave on the outskirts of Minsk, RFE/RL's Belarusian Service reported on 23 October. "Slaviansky Nabat" quoted a member of the original independent investigative commission as saying the results of the original inquiry were falsified. Siarhiej Kascian, also a member of the original commission and currently the deputy director of the lower house's International Affairs Committee, told an RFE/RL correspondent that it was not the NKVD that was responsible for the deaths of those Belarusian citizens buried at Kuropaty, as the commission had concluded, but Nazi troops. The original investigation into Kuropaty was conducted in 1988-1989 and headed by archeologist Zianon Pazniak, currently leader-in-exile of the opposition Belarusian Popular Front. That panel concluded that from 1937-1941, the Belarusian NKVD shot some 250,000 citizens and buried them in an unmarked mass grave outside Minsk. ESTONIAN PREMIER STANDS BY HIS DEFENSE MINISTER. Mart Siimann has reconfirmed he will not fire Defense Minister Andrus Oovel, ETA reported on 22 October. The parliamentary State Defense Committee recently called for Oovel's dismissal on the grounds of the poor legislative record of his ministry (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 13 October 1997). "I am not the sort of lousy prime minister who sacks the defense minister when the State Defense Committee proposes [such a move]," Siimann said. He also stressed he does not believe the problems related to state defense can be solved by sacking one man. INVESTIGATION INTO LITHUANIAN ARMS DEAL REOPENED. The Prosecutor-General's Office has reopened a criminal investigation into abuse of office and negligence at the Defense Ministry over the 1992-1993 acquisition of weaponry from the Russian navy, BNS reported on 22 October. Among those under scrutiny is former Defense Minister Audrius Butkevicius, a parliamentary deputy who is also charged with large-scale fraud in a separate, more recent case. A spokesman for the prosecutor-general said the investigation into the arms deal was terminated in August 1995 "without grounds" and that all facts linked to the case were not fully clarified. Under the deal, the construction firm Selma built apartment houses for Russian army troops in Kaliningrad in exchange for Russian weaponry. It is alleged that the Defense Ministry, under Butkevicius's leadership, paid Selma too much for the arms and equipment. CZECH BUDGET NARROWLY PASSES ON FIRST READING. The parliament voted 99 to 97 to approve the government's budget in the first reading, CTK reported on 22 October. This victory for Prime Minister Vaclav Klaus's cabinet was possible only because four deputies did not take part in the voting. Parliamentary spokesmen said they expect the legislature to approve the measure in the subsequent two readings. Meanwhile, "Mlada Fronta Dnes" reported on 22 October that officials in the eastern city of Ostrava are actively considering giving Roma families there money for air tickets so they can leave the country. Human rights groups around the world have been sharply critical of the rising tide of anti-Roma attitudes in Eastern Europe. SLOVAK POLICE BREAK UP NUCLEAR PLANT PROTEST. Slovak police on 22 October roughed up Greenpeace activists who tried to project an anti-nuclear slogan on the Mohovce nuclear power plant, Czech Television reported. The activists said they will seek to bring charges against the officers. TASR, meanwhile, said the police behaved in a proper way. HUNGARIAN RULING ON CROATIAN CLAIM OVER MISSING ARMS. A parliamentary sub-committee on 21 October ruled that Croatia does not have a valid claim for compensation over a missing shipment of automatic rifles paid for in 1990, Hungarian media reported. At the same time, it ruled that the company acting as an intermediary between Zagreb and the Hungarian firm that failed to deliver the paid-for shipment is entitled to compensation. Two earlier shipments were delivered to Croatia on the eve of the civil war in former Yugoslavia, despite protests by Belgrade. SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE MONTENEGRIN POLICE CLOSE ALBANIAN VILLAGE TO MILOSEVIC BACKERS. Police on 23 October blocked the road to the mainly ethnic Albanian village of Tuzi to an automobile convoy carrying supporters of outgoing President Momir Bulatovic. The previous day in Podgorica, speakers at a rally of 5,000 Bulatovic backers demanded weapons for supporters of Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic and his ally Bulatovic. They also charged that "traitors and Muslims" had voted for President-elect Milo Djukanovic. Bulatovic, for his part, called for new elections "as soon as possible." Montenegrin police officials blamed the leaders of the demonstration for what the police called the worsening security situation in Podgorica, an RFE/RL correspondent reported from the Montenegrin capital. The Montenegrin government's Information Department warned its Serbian counterpart in a letter that Montenegro will take "appropriate legal measures" unless the government-backed Belgrade media stop their "unobjective and tendentious reporting" about Djukanovic. SERBIAN OPPOSITION LEADERS TO BOYCOTT ELECTIONS. Democratic Party leader Zoran Djindjic and Democratic Party of Serbia head Vojislav Kostunica said in Belgrade on 22 October that their formations will not take part in the Serbian presidential elections slated for 7 December. The two Milosevic opponents charged that the government has not created the basic conditions for free and fair elections, an RFE/RL correspondent reported from Belgrade. Meanwhile, the Election Commission began to register presidential candidates and will continue to do so until 17 November. A potential candidate needs to collect 10,000 signatures of registered voters to qualify for a place on the ballot. KOSOVO ALBANIANS TO RELAUNCH PROTESTS. Leaders of Kosovar students said in a letter to foreign diplomats on 22 October that the students will resume demonstrations on 29 October, an RFE/RL correspondent reported from Pristina. 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. The "New York Times" and the "Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung" suggested recently that the clandestine Kosovo Liberation Army may attract increasing support from young people if peaceful protests continue to be broken up or prove ineffective. NATO TO SEND MORE TROOPS TO BOSNIA FOR REPUBLIKA SRPSKA VOTE. Diplomats said in Brussels on 22 October that an additional 1,000 SFOR troops will go to Bosnia to help ensure order during the 23 November Bosnian Serb parliamentary elections. The contingent will include soldiers from non-NATO member states as well as from NATO countries. Meanwhile in Sarajevo, spokesmen for the UN's international police force said UN police have found and confiscated illegal weapons from a Serbian police station in Brcko. WORLD BANK PRAISES BOSNIAN PRIVATIZATION LAW. Officials of the World Bank and other international economic organizations said in Sarajevo on 22 October that the laws passed by the mainly Croatian and Muslim Federation's parliament the previous day will go far to help attract foreign investment and promote recovery. The laws deal with the privatization of state firms, the sale of apartments, and the settlement of war-related claims. Observers said the measures are similar to those adopted in many other former communist countries, except that the Bosnian laws also deal with damages and claims stemming from the war. CROATIA HAS NEW COMMUNIST PARTY. Stipe Suvar, a former leader of the League of Communists of Croatia, said in Zagreb on 23 October that he has founded the Socialist Workers Party of Croatia (SRPH) and that the party will hold its founding congress on 25 October. Suvar added that he expects the SRPH to attract large numbers of women, young people, and members of ethnic minorities, an RFE/RL correspondent reported from Zagreb. Observers noted that leftist parties attracted little support in Croatia as late as 1995, but that Zdravko Tomac's Social Democrats are now the largest single opposition party. Public opinion surveys regularly show that most Croats have difficulty making ends meet. ALBANIAN INTERIOR MINISTER WANTS BERISHA INDICTED. Neritan Ceka on 22 October said Democratic Party leader and former President Sali Berisha freed 52 dangerous criminals by decree in March Ceka said he will provide evidence to parliament soon, "Koha Jone" reported. He added that the prisoners were freed "to sabotage the elections [in June and July] by using terror and violence." Ceka called for a parliamentary commission to be set up to investigate the matter and to press legal charges against Berisha. Meanwhile, Defense Minister Sabit Brokaj accused former army commander General Adem Cobani of having ordered troops on three occasions during the unrest to fire on civilians (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 21 October 1997). Speaking in the parliament on 22 October, he charged that Berisha, who was commander-in-chief at the time, had been involved in the incidents. Cobani also claimed that the army prepared chemical weapons and rockets for use against Vlora, Permet, and other southern towns, "Shekulli" reported. BIG AID PLEDGES FOR ALBANIA. The international donors' conference on Albania ended in Brussels on 21 October with the approval of a $600 million aid package. Of that sum, $100 million is to help cut the budget deficit and the other $500 million to support infrastructure, development, and administrative reform over the next two years. World Bank representatives, however, stressed that the availability of the aid will depend on the government's willingness to close down pyramid investment schemes. The donors earmarked some $1 million for that purpose. A further $30 million is available as humanitarian relief. The IMF said it hopes Albania will cut its inflation from 50 percent in 1997 to 15 to 20 percent the next year. It also wants Tirana to boost GDP growth from 8 percent this year to 12 percent in 1998. ROMANIAN OPPOSITION DEMONSTRATION IN BUCHAREST. Defying an order by the Bucharest Mayor's Office, the opposition demonstration against the government's policies was held in the capital's Senate Square on 22 October, RFE/RL's Bucharest bureau reported. That square is the scene of an ongoing hunger strike by the "1989 revolutionaries" (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 15 October 1997). Corneliu Vadim Tudor, the leader of the Greater Romania Party, Adrian Nastase, the deputy chairman of the Party of Social Democracy in Romania, and Adrian Paunescu, the first deputy chairman of the Socialist Labor Party, addressed an estimated crowd of some 5,00O. Scuffles broke out when some demonstrators tried to break the police cordon and join the striking "revolutionaries." Also on 22 October, five of the hunger strikers were hospitalized following 13 days without food. REHABILITATION OF ANTONESCU GOVERNMENT BEGINS. Prosecutor- General Sorin Moisescu on 22 October launched the procedure for the judicial rehabilitation of several members of Romania's fascist government headed by Marshal Ion Antonescu. Those officials were sentenced in 1949 to prison sentences of between two and 10 years and their property confiscated for "crimes against peace," Radio Bucharest reported. An initiative to rehabilitate Antonescu, as well as those executed with him in 1946 or those whose death sentences were commuted to life imprisonment, has been under consideration by the Prosecutor-General's office for several years now. BULGARIA DISCLOSES NAMES OF FORMER COLLABORATORS. Interior Minister Bogomil Bonev on 22 October revealed to the parliament that 14 of its current members collaborated with the communist-era secret police. Two of the named are members of the ruling Union of Democratic Forces. Ahmed Dogan, the leader of the Turkish ethnic party, the Movement for Rights and Freedom, was also identified as a collaborator. Bonev said Dogan worked for the secret services between 1974 and 1988, RFE/RL's Sofia bureau reported. Dogan told Reuters that the list is a plot aimed at removing his party from the political scene. The other deputies identified by Bonev belong to the opposition Socialist Party and the Business Bloc. The list, whose publication is in line with the provision of a law passed in July, also includes seven high-ranking government and judicial officials as well as the directors of two state-owned banks. END NOTE DRAWING BORDERS GEOGRAPHIC AND POLITICAL by Paul Goble Russian President Boris Yeltsin's willingness to sign a border demarcation agreement with Lithuania now reflects the convergence of three strands in Moscow's foreign policy in the Baltic region. But when Yeltsin signs the demarcation agreement with visiting Lithuanian President Algirdas Brazauskas during his visit to the Russian capital on 23-24 October, those strands may not be equally obvious, even though all three are likely to prove equally important. First, Yeltsin's decision reflects Moscow's increasing willingness to treat the three Baltic States in a differentiated fashion, rewarding Lithuania, which has been the most cooperative, while putting pressure on the other two. Second, it demonstrates an effort by the Russian government to show it can and will develop better relations with the Baltics if those countries are willing to cooperate. This is especially important in Russian calculations because many in Scandinavia and the West view progress in relations between Moscow and the Baltic States as the "litmus test" of Russia's readiness to be accepted into Europe, as former Swedish Premier Carl Bildt put it. Third, Yeltsin's decision appears to be part of a Russian effort to portray Estonia and Latvia in the most negative light, hoping thereby to reduce those states' attractiveness to Western partners and as potential candidates for membership in the EU and NATO. At one level, those three strands of Russian policy appear contradictory. Obviously, Moscow will have a difficult time in simultaneously presenting itself as a good neighbor and seeking to put pressure on two of the three Baltic States. But at another level, this combination of factors is consistent. Yeltsin and the Russian foreign policy establishment are behaving entirely rationally in treating the three Baltic countries differently. Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania are three very different countries with very different domestic and international positions. Some Western governments continue to treat them as a unit because of their history of Soviet occupation from 1940 to 1991, but their very individual situations both domestically and internationally justify a differentiated approach. By dealing with the Balts in such a way, Yeltsin and Moscow demonstrate that they recognize not only those countries' specific approaches to domestic issues, such as the treatment of ethnic Russians, but also the very different security problems of the three. In addition, Yeltsin is to be given credit for backing an improved relationship with the Baltic countries without any real danger of having to live up to promises. The leaders of a number of factions in the Russian parliament have already indicated they will not ratify any agreement Yeltsin may sign with Brazauskas. As a result, Yeltsin will have the best of both worlds: approbation from the West without a commitment to follow the strictures of the agreement he appears likely to sign. Moreover, Yeltsin's very positive approach toward Lithuania allows him to place enormous pressure on both Estonia and Latvia to change their positions on a variety of issues or face ostracism from at least some Western institutions. In particular, he may be forcing Estonia's hand to change its approach lest it lose the support of its West European partners, who have already indicated that they want Estonia to begin in December the process of becoming a member of the EU. That apparent calculation is unlikely to prove wrong, especially if Western governments argue that Estonia and Latvia should make the same concessions that the Lithuanians have in order to establish good relations with Moscow. It may also ultimately prove the most critical in the thinking of the Russian government. Both Russian nationalists and the government have continued their criticism of Estonia and Latvia for their attitudes toward their ethnic Russian populations. And thus signing an accord with Lithuania only highlights what Russian nationalists and Moscow see as the lack of progress on this issue in the other two Baltic States. Even if Russia's apparent calculation backfires because the West declines to follow its logic, Moscow has the choice of shifting gears and signing border accords with Estonia and Latvia, as Yeltsin has sometimes indicated he is willing to do. Thus, the Russian government's latest effort to demarcate a region politically as well as geographically appears to be a situation in which Moscow has much to gain and very little to lose. 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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