|Comedy is an escape, not from truth but from despair; a narrow escape into faith. - Christopher Fry|
RFE/RL NEWSLINE Vol. 1, No. 152, Part II, 4 November 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 *EU HAS NO PLANS TO RENEW TALKS WITH BELARUS *MILOSEVIC STANDS FIRM ON KOSOVO *TUDJMAN WANTS CONSTITUTIONAL CHANGES xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx EAST-CENTRAL EUROPE EU HAS NO PLANS TO RENEW TALKS WITH BELARUS. Luiz Marena, the head of a EU delegation that recently visited Minsk, said there is currently no basis for renewing three-way talks between EU representatives, members of President Alyaksandr Lukashenka's administration, and Supreme Soviet deputies, an RFE/RL correspondent in the Belarusian capital reported on 3 November. Marena also announced that no economic accords between the EU and Belarus will be signed in 1998. He laid the blame for the stalemate in the talks squarely on members of the president's administration, adding that the visit convinced many members of his delegation that "Belarus is truly a totalitarian state." lf UKRAINE TO INVESTIGATE SFOR CHARGES. Kyiv has dispatched two senior military officers to investigate charges by the NATO-led Stabilization Force in Bosnia that seven Ukrainian soldiers were involved in smuggling activities, Ukrainian media reported on 3 November. But the Ukrainian defense minister repeated Kyiv's insistence that charges against the seven are unjustified. pg UKRAINIAN, BULGARIAN BUSINESSES SEEK END TO BORDER CORRUPTION. Chambers of commerce and industry in Ukraine and Bulgaria have called on their governments to end extortion among border officials in order to improve trade between the two countries, ITAR-TASS reported on 3 November. Because of racketeering at the border, trade between the two countries has fallen from $270 million in the first nine months of 1996 to $200 million in the same period this year. Meanwhile, the Ukrainian State Statistical Committee reported that the rate of decline in Ukraine's GDP has slowed during the past year. pg TALLINN DECLINES MOSCOW'S SECURITY OFFER. The Estonian Foreign Ministry on 3 November rejected Russian President Boris Yeltsin's security offer to the Baltics, saying such unilateral guarantees do not correspond with the "spirit of the new Europe." The ministry said Estonia's strategic goals continue to be joining the EU and NATO while maintaining good-neighborly relations with Russia. It added that Tallinn values Moscow's participation in regional cooperation and its strong ties with Europe and trans-Atlantic organizations, ETA reported. The Lithuanian Foreign Ministry rejected the proposal several days earlier. Its Latvian counterpart is expected to respond soon, following Premier Guntars Krasts's statement declining the offer (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 3 November 1997). jc SANTER IN THE BALTICS. EU Commission President Jacques Santer, paying short visits to Vilnius and Riga on 3 November, stressed that no candidate country has been excluded from the union's planned enlargement, BNS reported. Earlier this year, the commission recommended that Estonia be invited to start entry talks; neither Lithuania nor Latvia was named among the proposed candidates. Lithuanian President Algirdas Brazauskas said he tried to convince Santer there are no major differences between the Baltic States. "We live in a single political space, and it is unclear to me when we were made separate," he commented. In Riga, Latvian Prime Minister Guntars Krasts proposed that all candidates be given equal chances to start entry talks. Santer concludes his brief Baltic tour in Tallinn on 4 November. jc LATVIA RE-EXAMINES KALEJS CASE. A Latvian prosecutor told Reuters on 3 November that investigators are re-examining the case of Konrad Kalejs, an alleged World War II criminal, after the Simon Wiesenthal Center criticized Riga for saying it had found no incriminating evidence. Officials stress they still have no concrete proof against Kalejs, but they have asked several Western countries to supply information that could help the investigation. The Simon Wiesenthal Center alleges that Kalejs, who now lives in Australia, belonged to a wartime murder squad that killed thousands of Jews, Communists, and Roma. jc POLISH GOVERNMENT PREDICTS EU ENTRY BY 2005. Ryszard Czarnecki, the new minister for European integration, told "Gazeta Wyborcza" on 3 November that he expects his country to join the EU in 2004 or 2005. But he indicated that the new government will not sacrifice Poland's national interests in order to speed up the process. pg POLISH PRIEST SUSPENDED FOR ANTI-SEMITIC REMARKS. Gdansk Archbishop Tadeusz Goclowski on 3 November prohibited Monsignor Henryk Jankowski from giving sermons or making public statements following Jankowski's criticism of the "participation by the Jewish minority in the Polish government," Radio Zet reported. Jankowski, who earlier served as a spiritual adviser to Solidarity leader Lech Walesa, has been criticized in the past for anti-Semitic remarks. He also has been investigated by Polish prosecutors, although no charges have been brought against him. pg ARCHAEOLOGICAL FIND MAY BLOCK RUSSIAN PIPELINE IN POLAND. Officials in the central Polish city of Wloclawek told ITAR-TASS on 3 November that a new archaeological find may force Russia to change the route of the Yamal-West Europe gas pipeline. But other local officials told the Russian agency that Wloclawek leaders are only seeking to extract more money from the pipeline construction enterprises. pg GERMANY, FRANCE TO HELP POLAND MEET NATO STANDARDS. Following two days of meetings in the German city of Weimar, the German, French, and Polish defense ministers have announced a three-year program of joint exercises to bring Polaish armed forces up to NATO standards, PAP reported on 3 November. Polish Defense Minister Janusz Onyszkiewicz noted Warsaw wants to see NATO continue to expand to include other countries in Eastern Europe. pg CZECH PRESS CASTS DOUBTS ON HAVEL'S POLITICAL FUTURE. Several leading Prague newspapers on 3 November raised questions as to whether President Vaclav Havel, currently in the hospital recovering from pneumonia, will physically be able to serve another term. The newspapers asked whether he will be able to make a scheduled speech to the Czech parliament on 11 November, two months before he would have to stand for re-election. Havel recently canceled a planned visit to London. pg. CZECH MINISTERS APPROVE NATO CONTRIBUTION. A special committee of senior Czech ministers on 3 November voted to approve a 600 million crown ($18.3 million) annual contribution to NATO once the Czech Republic joins the Western alliance. Prime Minister Vaclav Klaus told journalists that the committee also voted for new budget allocations to bring the Czech military into line with NATO standards. The Czech government is scheduled to formally approve that decision on 5 November. pg SLOVAK ROMA LEADERS SEEK TO END EMIGRATION. Following a meeting with Deputy Premier Jozef Kalman on 3 November, leaders of Slovakia's 85,000 Roma appealed to the community not to emigrate, according to Slovak media. The appeal said Roma should not leave lest they face "further social and economic difficulties" upon their return to Slovakia sometime in the future. pg HUNGARIAN POLICE DISPERSE ILLEGAL FARMERS' RALLY. Police used tough measures to enforce a court ban on a demonstration organized by the militant farmers' group METESZ, Hungarian media reported on 3 November. The farmers were demonstrating against foreign ownership of land and the low wholesale price of agricultural goods. Angry scenes occurred when 400 policemen dispersed the 200 or so protesters. Up to 30 protesters were detained but released later the same day. Agnes Nagy Maczo, the chairwoman of the METESZ strike committee, was expelled from the Independent Smallholders' parliamentary faction, in part for her involvement in the illegal rally. She consequently loses her post as parliamentary deputy speaker. msz SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE MILOSEVIC STANDS FIRM ON KOSOVO... Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic and Albanian Prime Minister Fatos Nano, meeting within the framework of the Balkan summit on Crete on 3 November, agreed to improve bilateral relations. Milosevic said ties between the two countries were "frozen for 50 years." He added that he and Nano did not agree on questions regarding Kosovo, which, Milosevic maintained, is Serbia's internal affair. Milosevic called on Albania to grant its Serbian and Montenegrin minorities the same rights as Yugoslavia's Albanians enjoy. Nano, for his part, urged Yugoslavia to give its Albanians rights in keeping with European norms. It was the first meeting of the top leaders of the two countries since 1948. pm ...SAYS ALL ARE RESPONSIBLE FOR DAYTON. Yugoslav President Milosevic also said on Crete on 3 November that he recognizes his responsibilities to help implement the Dayton peace agreement. He stressed, however, that it is the duty of all Balkan countries to promote regional stability. He added that, in particular, the three former warring sides in Bosnia have a special responsibility for implementing Dayton. Heads of state or government of Greece, Turkey, Romania, Bulgaria, Yugoslavia, Macedonia and Albania are attending the two-day summit. Bosnia has sent a lower-level delegation. Slovenia and Croatia refused to attend on the grounds that they are Central European and not Balkan countries (see also item below on Croatia). pm MACEDONIA, BULGARIA REMAIN DEADLOCKED. Macedonian President Kiro Gligorov and Bulgarian Prime Minister Ivan Kostov failed during talks on Crete on 2 November to break the impasse preventing Bulgaria's ratification of 20 bilateral agreements, BETA news agency reported the next day. Bulgaria does not recognize Macedonian as a language distinct from Bulgarian and refuses to ratify agreements drafted in Macedonian as well as Bulgarian. Sofia's long-standing policy is to recognize Macedonian statehood and independence but not to acknowledge that Macedonians are a people distinct from Bulgarians. pm KOSOVAR STUDENT SAYS HE WAS TORTURED. Nait Hasani, a student from Kosovo whom the authorities claim is a leader of the clandestine Kosovo Liberation Army (UCK), told a court in Pristina on 3 November that Serbian police tortured him to obtain a confession. He and 19 other Kosovars are on trial for what the authorities call separatism and terrorism. It is the third mass trial of ethnic Albanians in Kosovo this year on political charges, an RFE/RL correspondent reported from Pristina. Observers noted that the Swiss-based UCK has become increasingly attractive to young Kosovars, many of whom may feel that the moderate Kosovar leadership's policy of non-violence has failed to produce results. pm TRAVNIK MURDER SUSPECTS FREED. A spokesman for the UN police said in Sarajevo on 3 November that police in the Muslim-controlled Travnik area freed three men who had been held in connection with the murder of one Croat and the wounding of two other Croats in a nearby village in late August (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 1 September 1997). The spokesman added that Muslim and Croatian police are continuing to investigate the incident. Bosnian Croat officials and the government in Zagreb have repeatedly warned they regard the investigation as a test-case for Croatian-Muslim cooperation. pm BOSNIA ROUNDS UP ILLEGAL IMMIGRANTS. Bosnian police wounded one man in a roundup of 47 illegal immigrants in Sarajevo, a UN police spokesman said on 3 November. Most of those arrested are Egyptians. The Bosnian authorities are cracking down on people from developing countries using Bosnia to gain illegal entry into other European states. pm SLOVENIA JOINS BOSNIAN FORCE. SFOR spokesmen in Sarajevo said on 4 November that Slovenia has officially become the 37th participant in the international peacekeeping force. Meanwhile in Ljubljana, the National Statistics Office announced on 3 October that the foreign trade deficit stands at $790 million. The total volume of foreign trade for 1997 is down about 1 percent on the same nine- month period last year. pm TUDJMAN WANTS CONSTITUTIONAL CHANGES. Croatian President Franjo Tudjman said in Zagreb on 3 November that he has recommended to the parliament that the constitution ban Croatia's membership in a revived Yugoslavia or any other Balkan union. He added that he wants Croatia explicitly defined as belonging to Central Europe, not to the Balkans. Tudjman also wants the constitution changed to grant equal rights to all persons and not just to Croatian citizens. He said that the basic law should specify that "Croatia is established as the national state of the Croatian people and a state of members of national minorities and those who are its citizens." The current document names eight specific minority nationalities. pm ROMANIAN PREMIER AT BALKAN SUMMIT. Victor Ciorbea on 3 November told Federal Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic that Belgrade must grant minority rights to the Vlach (Aromanian) community in Serbia, an RFE/RL correspondent reported. Earlier, Ciorbea expressed reservations over a Greek proposal to set up a secretariat in charge of Balkan economic cooperation. While welcoming the proposal, he commented that increased cooperation is possible through existing structures such as CEFTA and the Black Sea Economic Cooperation. In other news, visiting Croatian First Deputy Defense Minister General Kresimir Cosic and his Romanian counterpart, General Constantin Degeratu, signed a military cooperation agreement in Bucharest on 3 November. ms ROMANIAN COALITION PARTY REJECTS OFFER. Ion Diaconescu, the chairman of the National Peasant Party Christian Democratic (PNTCD), on 3 November rejected Democratic Party (PD) Chairman Petre Roman's offer to leave the coalition and back a minority PNTCD government. Diaconescu said the survival of such a cabinet would be questionable, as it would depend on the good will of those who did not share government responsibilities, RFE/RL's Bucharest bureau reported. In other news, President Emil Constantinescu on 3 November urged PD deputy Corneliu Ruse to make available all evidence in support of his recent allegations that the Romanian Intelligence Service (SRI) has penetrated and controls most of the country's political parties. Constantinescu said the allegations are likely to "negatively impact the credibility and public image of the SRI." ms IMF DELAYS LOAN TRANCHE TO MOLDOVA. Mark Horton, the IMF's permanent representative in Chisinau, said on 3 November that the fund has postponed the last $15.5 million installment of a loan to Moldova. Horton said that if the government fulfills the obligations it undertook when agreeing to the loan's terms, the installment could be released in February or March 1998. He noted that Moldova's budget deficit is approaching 7 percent of GDP, while Chisinau and the IMF had agreed on 4.5 percent. He also said the fund wants the parliament to review its decisions to write off state enterprises arrears to the budget and to oppose the government's proposals to introduce value-added tax and raise energy prices energy prices, Mediafax reported, citing Reuters. ms MOLDOVA'S BOTNARU ON ORGANIZED CRIME, TRANSDNIESTER. Moldovan Security Minister Tudor Botnaru told journalists on 3 November that many former KGB officers have joined "criminal structures" and their "high professionalism" makes the struggle against organized crime "very difficult," Infotag reported. The minister added he is opposed to making public the files of former KGB agents, saying this would amount to "setting ourselves on fire." Botnaru also commented that the outbreak of the Transdniestrian conflict in 1990 was due to Moldova's "blunder in domestic policies" at that time. He said his officers would have "no problem whatever" in arresting the Transdniestrian leaders but that he "categorically opposes" such methods because the conflict "must be solved exclusively by political means." ms xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx Copyright (c) 1997 RFE/RL, Inc. 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