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RFE/RL NEWSLINE Vol. 1, No. 153, Part II, 5 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 * UKRAINIAN PARLIAMENT SUSPENDS PRIVATIZATION * DID NANO, MILOSEVIC STRIKE DEAL OVER KOSOVO? * US PURCHASES MOLDOVAN FIGHTER PLANES xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx EAST-CENTRAL EUROPE UKRAINIAN PARLIAMENT SUSPENDS PRIVATIZATION. The parliament on 4 November passed a resolution suspending privatization and demanding that President Leonid Kuchma appoint a new privatization chief, Interfax reported. The legal impact of that decision is unclear, but it is another indication that the Ukrainian legislators include many opponents of reform, against whom Kuchma has repeatedly warned. In another largely symbolic move, the parliament refused to approve Kuchma's proposal to rename 7 November as a "Day of Memory and Reconciliation." pg UKRAINIAN PRESIDENT PRAISES CIS'S PAST ROLE. Kuchma said in Kharkov on 4 November that the CIS had "helped start building interstate relations" and allowed a "mostly civilized" divorce of the former Soviet republics, ITAR-TASS reported. But he discussed its positive role only in the past tense and suggested that "now almost all member-states agree" that the organization must be reformed if it is to have a future. In other comments, Kuchma said that there will be no forced "Ukrainization" of the country's ethnic Russians and that Russia will "long remain a leading partner of Ukraine." pg BELARUS, TURKEY SIGN MILITARY COOPERATION ACCORD. Belarusian Defense Minister General Aleksandr Chumakov and Turkish chief of staff Ismail Hakki Karadayi signed an agreement in Ankara on 4 November to cooperate in military training as well as defense industries and technology, Belarusian media reported. Minsk sought to portray the accord as a breakthrough, even though Ankara has signed numerous such agreements with other countries. pg WORLD BANK FAULTS BELARUS FOR FAILURE TO REFORM. A World Bank delegation in Minsk said on 4 November that the Belarusian authorities have failed to follow up on any of the points the Bank and Belarus had agreed to in June 1997. Until Minsk does so, the delegation warned, the Bank will not release any more funds to that country. pg SANTER SAYS NO WEDGE INTENDED BETWEEN BALTICS. European Commission President Jacques Santer said in Tallinn on 4 November that the commission's recommendation to begin EU entry talks with Estonia was not intended to drive a wedge between the Baltics, BNS and ETA reported. Rather, its aim was to "inspire the other Baltic States to carry out as successful reforms as Estonia's." At their meetings with Santer, President Lennart Meri and Prime Minister Mart Siimann both reaffirmed Estonia's support for the early inclusion of Latvia and Lithuania in membership talks. jc LATVIA, TOO, SAYS "NO" TO RUSSIAN SECURITY OFFER. As expected, Latvia has followed Lithuania and Estonia in officially declining Russian President Boris Yeltsin's offer of security guarantees. The Foreign Ministry in Riga issued a statement on 4 November that was almost identical to the one released the previous day by Tallinn (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 4 November 1997), BNS reported. Meanwhile in Moscow, Russian Foreign Ministry spokesman Gennadii Tarasov said that Russia hopes the Baltics' responses to Yeltsin's offer are not their "final word" on the subject, while the State Duma held a closed session on relations with the Baltic States, Interfax reported on 4 November. jc LATVIAN ELECTORAL COMMITTEE HEAD FOUND DEAD. Atis Kramins was found dead in his apartment on 4 November with a bullet wound in the head, BNS reported. Police say Kramins took his life using his own handgun and left a suicide note citing personal problems. Kramins, 50, was appointed chairman of the nine-member committee in 1992, according to "Diena" on 5 November. jc VILNIUS REOPENS PROBE INTO POSSIBLE LINKS WITH ARMS DEALERS. The Lithuanian Defense Ministry has reopened an investigation into possible links between ministry officials and two Lithuanian emigres arrested in the U.S. on charges of illegal arms dealing, BNS reported. The ministry closed the investigation in the summer, saying allegations of such links could not be substantiated. But it has decided to reopen the probe after receiving new documents from the U.S. The Lithuanian emigres, who were arrested in Miami in June for seeking to sell weapons to U.S. agents disguised as Colombian drug dealers, claim that Lithuanian defense officials were involved in the deal. jc DOCTORS SAY CZECH PRESIDENT CAN RUN AGAIN. The team of physicians treating Czech President Vaclav Havel for pneumonia released a statement on 4 November saying there is "no medical reason" why Havel could not run for another term in January 1998, CTK reported. Havel's spokesman also announced that Havel will leave the hospital briefly in a few days to swear in three new ministers. Both announcements follow speculation in the media that Havel would not run again because of his health. pg SLOVAK GOVERNMENT WON'T PASS NEW LANGUAGE LAW. Foreign Minister Zdenka Kramlovca told reporters on 4 November that the Slovak government has decided existing legislation gives sufficient protection to minority languages and that as a result it will not recommend a new language law, TASR reported. That decision puts Slovakia at odds with various European institutions that have sharply criticized Bratislava's failure to protect the rights of linguistic minorities. pg HUNGARIAN PARLIAMENT APPROVES HOLDING NATO REFERENDUM. By a vote of 312 to 26, the parliament on 4 November voted to hold a binding referendum on NATO accession on 16 November, Hungarian media reported. The two questions on foreign ownership of land, which were proposed by the opposition, have been removed from the ballot. The parliament also approved a draft resolution proposed by the opposition Democratic People's Party saying the parliamentary parties uniformly declare their support for Hungary's NATO membership as the most effective guarantee of the country's sovereignty. msz RUSSIA TO PAY OFF HUNGARIAN DEBT THROUGH MILITARY TECHNOLOGY. An unnamed Russian government source said in Moscow on 4 November that Russia intends to pay off its $700 million debt to Hungary through military and civil technology, Hungarian media reported, citing Interfax. msz SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE DID NANO, MILOSEVIC STRIKE DEAL OVER KOSOVO? Diplomats told Reuters at the Crete Balkan summit on 4 November that Albanian Prime Minister Fatos Nano and Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic agreed Milosevic will grant the Kosovo Albanians basic human rights but not autonomy (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 3 and 4 November 1997). Observers note that if the report is true, it means that Tirana's new Socialist-led government has effectively washed its hands of the Kosovo question by accepting that Kosovo is Serbia's internal affair. The previous Albanian government actively campaigned internationally for autonomy for Serbia's mainly ethnic Albanian-inhabited province. pm KOSOVARS, BERISHA CHARGE NANO WITH SELL-OUT. Adem Demaci, the head of Kosovo's Parliamentary Party, said in Pristina on 4 November that Nano sold out Kosovo's interests by meeting with Milosevic and by what he called consigning the Kosovars to Milosevic's tender mercies. Demaci added that it is particularly disgraceful for Nano to have met with the Serbian leader at a time of increased repression in Kosovo, BETA news agency reported. In Tirana, former Albanian President Sali Berisha said the summit marked the culmination of Greek efforts to make Milosevic internationally respectable. Berisha added that Nano had no business talking to Milosevic without the approval of the Kosovar leadership. pm MACEDONIA INVITES ALBANIAN STUDENTS TO GO... At a meeting on Crete on 4 November, Nano failed to convince Macedonian President Kiro Gligorov to give legal status to the banned Albanian-language university in Tetovo (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 4 November 1997). Gligorov said Macedonia's ethnic Albanian students should go to Tirana University if they want a higher education in their mother tongue. Macedonian law provides for only basic schooling and a teacher-training college in the Albanian language. Police have repeatedly broken up attempts by faculty and students at the illegal university to hold classes. Just over 20 percent of Macedonia's population is ethnic Albanian. pm ...BUT WANTS PEACEKEEPERS TO STAY. Foreign Minister Blagoje Handziski wrote UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan from Skopje on 4 November that UN peacekeepers should stay on in Macedonia after their mandate runs out on 1 December. Handziski argued that instability in Kosovo makes a continued UN presence in Macedonia imperative. Some 1,000 peacekeepers are stationed in Macedonia. The operation is the first in UN history aimed at preventing the spread of a conflict rather than at separating hostile forces. pm BOSNIAN SERBS WARNED OVER BRCKO. Carlos Westendorp, the international community's chief representative in Bosnia, has told Momcilo Krajisnik, the Serbian representative on the Bosnian joint presidency, that the Bosnian Serbs will be committing "political suicide" if they continue to prevent a multi-ethnic administration from taking office in the strategic town. The two men met in Pale on 4 November. Muslim and Croatian refugees elected 26 out of 56 members of the town council in the local elections in September. Elsewhere in Bosnia, 34 out of 136 municipal councils took office. International election officials expect 80 more to do so in the course of the week. pm LOYALIST SAYS KARADZIC STILL IN CHARGE. Aleksa Buha, who replaced Radovan Karadzic as head of the Serbian Democratic Party last year, told Banja Luka's "Reporter" of 4 November that Karadzic is still in control in Pale. Buha argued that Karadzic's "work and personality...cannot be annulled by any decree.... The influence [he has] is therefore still indisputable." The 1995 Dayton agreement and a 1996 pact between the international community and the Bosnian Serbs require Karadzic to leave politics. pm CROATIAN INDEPENDENT RADIO GETS LICENSE. The Croatian authorities on 4 November granted Zagreb's Radio 101 a five-year license. Government officials had argued that the permit was held up by disputes over claims to the ownership of the station, but Radio 101 spokesmen said that the independent broadcaster was a victim of political harassment, an RFE/RL correspondent reported from Zagreb. Some 100,000 people turned out to demonstrate in support of the station's right to a license in November 1996. pm YUGOSLAV UNIONS WARN OF HIGH INFLATION. Spokesmen for the League of Independent Unions of Yugoslavia said in Belgrade on 4 November that government policies could prompt a return of hyper- inflation. The unions noted that the authorities have printed large quantities of money in an election year. "Nasa Borba" on 5 November wrote that the rate of exchange on the black market is now more than 4.5 dinars to the German mark. pm ALBANIAN GOVERNMENT MOVES AGAINST PYRAMID. VEFA investment company owner Vehbi Alimucaj failed to show up for talks in Tirana on 4 November with Finance Minister Arben Malaj, Justice Minister Thimio Kondi, and pyramid investigator Farudin Arapi, "Gazeta Shqiptare" reported. Arapi said after the meeting that the government will begin bankruptcy proceedings against VEFA and force the company to grant government officials access to its offices immediately. For months, Alimucaj has refused government administrators access to his records and has delayed formal investigations by challenging a pyramid-scheme transparency law in court (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 12 September 1997). A constitutional court decision on the transparency law is still pending. fs ALBANIAN SOCIALIST DEPUTIES FIGHT PARTY DISCIPLINE. Several Socialist Party legislators are challenging a proposed code of conduct for their parliamentary group, "Koha Jone" reported on 5 November. The code provides for penalties against individual deputies who vote against the recommendation of the Socialist leadership on any given issue. An unnamed Socialist deputy charged the leadership with trying to introduce a "dictatorship like in the times of [communist dictator] Enver Hoxha." The rebel deputies stress that the proposed code threatens democracy and pluralism in the parliament because the Socialists hold more than two-thirds of the parliamentary seats. Enforcing the code would lead to large, uniform blocs on every vote, they argue. fs U.S. PURCHASES MOLDOVAN FIGHTER PLANES. U.S. Defense Secretary William Cohen told journalists that the US has purchased 21 Russian- built MiG-29C jets from Moldova in order to keep them out of the hands of "rogue nations." Cohen noted that in October, Iran had tried to purchase the jets, which are capable of carrying nuclear weapons. He said the purchase was made within the framework of the Cooperative Threat Reduction Agreement, signed with Moldova in June, RFE/RL correspondents in Washington reported. Cohen said Russia was informed in advance of the purchase. "The New York Times" said on 5 November that the costs of the deal are secret but noted that the U.S. has agreed to give Moldova, in addition to a cash payment, surplus military equipment such as trucks and food and relief supplies. ms NEW ELECTORAL ALLIANCE IN MOLDOVA. The National Peasant Party, the Liberal Party, and the National Liberal Party have set up a new electoral alliance, Infotag reported on 4 November. They said the alliance, called the Peasant-Liberal Bloc, will be open to other right-wing parties. In other news, Infotag reported on 4 November that 80 percent of the country's population lives below the poverty level. The news agency cited figures released at a recent conference on living standards. ms ROMANIAN GOVERNMENT TO BE RESHUFFLED IN NOVEMBER. Meeting on 4 November, the leaders of the ruling coalition and President Emil Constantinescu agreed that the reorganization of the executive must take place this month. They also agreed that the reshuffle will be "extensive" and will affect mainly the economic ministries, Mediafax reported on 5 November. The agency said a new Ministry of Privatization will be set up, and it quoted Senate Chairman Petre Roman as saying the size of the government may be reduced. ms CLUJ MAYOR EXPELLED FROM PARTY. The Standing Bureau of the Party of Romanian National Unity (PUNR) on 4 November expelled Gheorghe Funar from the party. Funar, who was party chairman until 1996, had ignored the bureau's warning two weeks earlier to withdraw law suits against other party members, the prefect of Cluj, and several journalists, RFE/RL's Bucharest bureau reported. The bureau had cited the negative impact of that legal action on the party's image. Funar responded that the bureau's decision contravenes the party's statutes, adding that he does not recognize the PUNR's "treacherous leadership." ms LEGAL PROCEEDINGS LAUNCHED AGAINST ROMANIAN GENERALS. The Military Prosecutors' Office in Timisoara has begun legal proceedings against Generals Victor Stanculescu, Mihai Chitac (both former members of the government set up after dictator Nicolae Ceausescu's ouster), and Stefan Guse, who was chief of the general staff during the 1989 uprising and who subsequently died (when?). All three were sent by Ceausescu to Timisoara and are suspected of overseeing the attempt to put down the uprising. They are to be charged with complicity in and instigation to murder. Also charged is Ceausescu's last prosecutor-general, Gheorghe Diaconescu. A military investigation commission set up in 1990 concluded that charges must be brought against Stanculescu and Chitac. The investigation was nonetheless halted, Romanian media reported on 5 November. ms BULGARIA TO RESTORE CITIZENSHIP OF EMIGRES. In a bid to encourage investments, Sofia intends to restore the citizenship of those who fled the country after the communist takeover. Justice Minister Vassil Gotsev on 4 November said the move will be extended to the descendants of those who left Bulgaria, including non-ethnic Bulgarians. Israeli Ambassador to Sofia David Levy said he believes the decision will be welcome in his country, an RFE/RL correspondent in Sofia reported. ms xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx Copyright (c) 1997 RFE/RL, Inc. 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