|We are always the same age inside. - Gertrude Stein|
RFE/RL NEWSLINE Vol. 1, No. 154, Part II, 6 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 GOVERNMENT STANDS FIRM ON PRIVATIZATION *NANO DENIES SELLING OUT KOSOVARS *CROATIA UNVEILS PLAN FOR IMPROVING BOSNIAN LINKS End Note THE BALKAN ARC OF INSTABILITY xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx EAST-CENTRAL EUROPE UKRAINIAN GOVERNMENT STANDS FIRM ON PRIVATIZATION. Volodymyr Lanoviy, the acting head of the Ukrainian State Property Fund, told a Kyiv press conference on 5 November that the government does not consider the parliament's decision suspending privatization to be law, Ukrainian media reported. "We will never change our privatization plans," he said, "and we have all the laws needed for that in place." In an indication that President Leonid Kuchma fully backs Lanoviy, the president's spokesman told reporters that Kuchma will quickly asks the parliament to confirm Lanoviy in his current position. PG ESTONIA'S RUSSIAN SCHOOLS TO GET "STATE-LANGUAGE TEACHERS." By a vote of 44 to zero with no abstentions, the parliament has approved an amendment to the education law whereby "state- language teachers" will be introduced into schools in which Russian is the language of instruction, BNS and ETA reported on 4 November. The stated aim of the amendment is to improve Estonian-language instruction in those schools and thereby facilitate the transition to secondary and higher education in Estonian. An Education Ministry legal adviser said the present level of Estonian-language instruction in Russian-language schools is insufficient to ensure that the transition is made. State-language teachers must have a degree in Estonian and a minimum of three years' experience in teaching non- Estonians. JC LATVIA RELEASES FORMER COMMUNIST PARTY CHIEF. Alfred Rubiks, the former leader of the Latvian Communist Party, was released from prison on 5 November. Rubiks, aged 62, was serving an eight-year sentence for supporting the January 1991 Soviet crackdown on the Latvian drive for independence and for having backed the failed coup in Moscow some eight months later. An Interior Ministry spokesman said Rubiks was released because he had served three-quarters of his sentence and his behavior had been good. JC POLISH PRESIDENT OPTIMISTIC ON NATO, EU. President Aleksander Kwasniewski told the American Chamber of Commerce in Warsaw on 5 November that he expects Poland to be a full member of NATO "at the beginning of 1999" and to join the EU "early in the next millennium, Polish media reported. Kwasniewski also said that the new government will do everything possible to meet those goals. PG POLISH, GERMAN NAVIES STAGE EXERCISES. German and Polish naval vessels began a joint mine-sweeping exercise in the Baltic Sea on 5 November, the Polish media reported. The exercise is to conclude on 6 November. PG CZECH REPUBLIC SENDS LETTER OF INTENT TO NATO. The Czech government on 5 November sent a letter of its intent to join the Western alliance and make the required financial contribution, CTK reported. That is the final step in the application process. Meanwhile, Prime Minister Vaclav Klaus has announced he will visit the U.S. from 10-15 November to generate additional support for Prague's application. PG MORE DETAILS ON RUSSIAN REPAYMENT DEBT TO HUNGARY. Visiting Hungarian Industry, Trade, and Tourism Minister Szabolcs Fazakas said in Moscow on 5 November that Russia has agreed to store on its territory for 20 years some 3,500 spent fuel rods from Hungary's Paks nuclear power plant in partial repayment of Moscow's outstanding debt, Hungarian media reported. Russian Deputy Prime Minister Vladimir Bulgak said large-scale plans for the transportation of Russian gas via Hungary and Austria to Italy have been completed. Russia intends to participate in the joint production of Hungarian Ikarus buses as well as in a tender to develop Hungary's electricity system, he added. MSZ SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE NANO DENIES SELLING OUT KOSOVARS. Albanian Prime Minister Fatos Nano said in Tirana on 5 November that he did not attempt to speak in the name of the Kosovars during his meetings with Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic at the Crete Balkan summit. Nano added that he urged Milosevic to enter into a dialogue with Kosovar leader Ibrahim Rugova, BETA news agency reported. Meanwhile in Pristina, spokesmen for Rugova's Democratic League of Kosovo stressed that only the "legitimate representatives of the Kosovo Albanians" have the right to discuss Kosovar affairs with Milosevic (see also "End Note" below). PM GRENADE ATTACK IN KOSOVO. Unknown persons threw two grenades at the town hall in Podujevo on 5 November. No one was injured in the attack. A meeting of Milosevic's Socialist Party of Serbia was taking place in the building at the time. No one claimed responsibility for the attack, but the clandestine Kosovo Liberation Army (UCK) has frequently attacked symbols of Serbian rule in the mainly ethnic Albanian province. Some 20 alleged UCK members are currently on trial in Pristina (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 4 November 1997). PM MACEDONIA'S GLIGOROV SAYS GREEK TIES IMPROVING. President Kiro Gligorov said in Skopje on 5 November that at the Crete summit, he and Greek Prime Minister Kostas Simitis made more progress in improving relations than Gligorov had expected. The Macedonian leader called Simitis a "realistic and modern politician." But Gligorov added that Athens' refusal to recognize his country's name as Macedonia is still a major source of tension that affects the whole Balkan region. Greece argues that the name Macedonia implies a territorial claim to the northern Greek province of the same name, but Skopje denies the charge. Macedonia has already changed its flag to accommodate the Greeks. PM ALBRIGHT SAYS U.S. LIKELY TO KEEP FORCE IN BOSNIA. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright said in Washington on 5 November that a "consensus is developing that there will be or should be some form of U.S. military presence" in Bosnia after SFOR's mandate runs out in June 1998. This is the most explicit statement to date from a top government official that Washington is moving toward a new military commitment to Bosnia. Other NATO states have said they will not remain in Bosnia without the U.S. Elsewhere in Washington, a White House spokesman was more cautious than Albright, saying that a consensus still needs to be built. President Bill Clinton opened talks with congressional leaders on a variety of key foreign policy issues on 4 November. PM KLEIN SAYS TROOPS MUST STAY IN BOSNIA. U.S. General Jacques Klein, the international community's second most important representative in Bosnia, said in Strasbourg on 5 November that an international peacekeeping force must remain in Bosnia for at least two to three more years. "This country is like a patient getting a transfusion. If we take away the medical assistance, the patient will die," Klein argued. He also blasted the leaders of the three main ethnic groups in Bosnia for failing to agree on creating joint institutions and state symbols. Meanwhile in Brussels, an RFE/RL correspondent reported that the EU will call for expanding the powers of Carlos Westendorp, Klein's boss, if the three sides remain deadlocked. PM CROATIA UNVEILS PLAN FOR IMPROVING BOSNIAN LINKS. President Franjo Tudjman's office said in a statement on 5 November that Croatia has submitted to Sarajevo its proposals for improving links to the mainly Croatian and Muslim Bosnian federation. The plan calls for a common market, a monetary and customs union, military and security cooperation, a joint command in time of war, and combined efforts against terrorism. The U.S.-sponsored Croatian-Muslim peace agreement of 1994 commits Zagreb and Sarajevo to seek close links. PM CROATIAN JOURNALISTS DEMAND INDEPENDENT TV. A group of 20 prominent radio and television journalists said in a statement in Zagreb on 5 November that the state should end its control over Croatian Radio and Television (HRT). The journalists added that HRT should become an independent public corporation along the lines of similar institutions in many European countries. The statement called for instituting more professional standards and pluralism at HRT as well as for reducing its size by privatizing at least television's third channel. PM SERBIAN CIVILIANS "LIQUIDATED" IN 1991. Josip Manolic, Tudjman's former top security official, told "Globus" of 5 November that a Croatian military gang "liquidated" an unspecified number of ethnic Serb civilians in the Gospic area in 1991. Manolic added that the killers also attacked some ethnic Croats who had returned to Croatia from abroad. Tudjman tried to fire the officers responsible but dropped the matter when the war intensified. Manolic was in charge of security from1991-1993 but then fell out with Tudjman. He now heads the small left-of-center Independent Democrats. PM ALBANIAN PYRAMID INVESTIGATOR INDICTS VEFA CHIEF. Pyramid investigator Farudin Arapi filed charges against VEFA chief Vehbi Alimucaj for refusing government officials access to his company offices (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 5 November 1997). Alimucaj, for his part, claims that the three officials never showed up. If found guilty of denying them access to his offices, Alimucaj may face up to six months in prison. He told "Gazeta Shqiptare" that he will receive the officials on condition they "do not touch anything" before the Constitutional Court has ruled on a law regulating the government's right to investigate and administer suspected pyramid schemes. FS ALBANIAN REPUBLICANS WANT TO BECOME "THIRD FORCE." Republican leader Sabri Godo told a party congress in Tirana on 5 November that the Socialists made political capital out of the unrest last spring. He added that they have benefitted from voter resentment against the former Democratic Party government and are determined to cling to power. Godo also blasted the Democrats and questioned their professed commitment to seek alliances with other anti-communist parties, such as the Republicans. He stressed that conservatives must look for a new rallying point outside the Democratic Party. Elsewhere in Tirana, Socialist legislators voted down a controversial code of party discipline (see "RFE/RL Newsline 5 November 1997), "Koha Jone" reported. FS NATO EXERCISES IN ROMANIA. Six NATO members states and six participants in the Partnership for Peace program began a joint peace-keeping exercise in the central Romania town of Sibiu on 5 November. The exercise, called "Cooperative Determination '97," will end on 14 November. It involves 500 troops from the U.S., France, Italy, Greece, Turkey, and Portugal, together with troops from Romania, Hungary, Slovakia, Macedonia, Moldova, and Uzbekistan, RFE/RL's Bucharest bureau reported. MS ROMANIAN COALITION STILL DIVIDED OVER EDUCATION LAW. A joint commission set up by the National Peasant Party Christian Democratic (PNTCD) and the Hungarian Democratic Federation of Romania (UDMR) has failed to find a compromise solution to the draft on amending the education law, Radio Bucharest reported on 6 November. It has postponed making a decision until the following week. The commission was set up after the Senate's Commission on Education, chaired by a PNTCD senator, voted to reintroduce obligatory history and geography instruction in the Romanian language. If a compromise solution is not found, the UDMR may leave the coalition. In other news, the Party of Romanian National Unity has expelled nine Targu Mures branch members who support Gheorghe Funar. That move comes one day after Funar was expelled from the party. MS SALE OF FIGHTER PLANES RAISES $40 MILLION FOR MOLDOVA. Finance Minister Valeriu Chitan said the sale to the U.S. of 21 MiG- 29C fighters means that the "state budget will gain $40 million," Reuters reported on 5 November. He declined to say whether this was the total price paid for the aircraft. Defense Minister Valeriu Pasat said the value of the deal was a "state secret." But a high ranking member of Moldova's parliamentary Committee on Defense and Security revealed, on condition of anonymity, that half of the cost of the fighters would be paid in cash and the other half in military equipment. MS WORLD BANK SUSPENDS LOANS TO MOLDOVA. James Parks, the World Bank's permanent representative in Moldova, told Infotag on 5 November that the bank will postpone the second installment of a $100 million structural adjustment loan until the IMF resumes its financing. The IMF recently announced it was delaying the release of a second tranche of a loan to Chisinau (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 4 November 1997). Parks said the bank is concerned about the progress of economic reforms. Noting "substantial progress" in reforming the energy and agricultural sectors and the pension system, he said some of the parliament's recent decisions may be viewed as a "step backward." He singled out the decision to cancel the debts of state-owned enterprises to the budget and the recommendation to the cabinet to lower electricity prices. MS BULGARIAN LAWMAKER QUITS OVER SECRET POLICE TIES. Georgi Kolev, a deputy from the ruling Union of Democratic Forces, resigned his parliamentary seat on 5 November, some two weeks after he was revealed as a former collaborator of the communist secret police. Kolev was one of the 23 top officials whom Interior Minister Bogomil Bonev named as communist-era informants. He is the second official to resign since the list was made public. Simeon Voinov, the deputy chairman of the government's Post and Telecommunications Committee, stepped down immediately after Bonev's disclosures, RFE/RL's Sofia bureau reported. MS BULGARIA OPPOSES RUSSIAN PIPELINE PROJECT. The Bulgarian Ministry of Environment says it is opposed to a Russian project to lay a pipeline under the Black Sea that would supply gas to Turkey without passing through Bulgaria. In a statement released on 5 November, the ministry said the project was extremely difficult to realize and carried ecological risks that far outweigh its advantages, AFP reported. Gazprom director Rem Vyakhirev said the project would go ahead. He said the pipeline was a "reserve route" in case of political instability in Bulgaria, Moldova, Romania, or Ukraine. But he added that Gazprom wants to sign a new agreement with Sofia on piping gas through Bulgaria. An earlier agreement expired in August. MS END NOTE THE BALKAN ARC OF INSTABILITY by Patrick Moore This year, instability has come to characterize the region extending in an arc from Albania into western Macedonia and northward into Kosovo. The summit meeting of Balkan leaders held on Crete on 3-4 November may have served only to exacerbate an already tense situation. When the Dayton agreement was concluded at the end of 1995, many observers thought that the worst of the Balkans' problems were over for the foreseeable future. An uneasy peace did prevail in Bosnia throughout 1996, but 1997 saw a new period of instability emerge in the Albanian-speaking region of the western Balkans. There were several reasons for that development. First, the clandestine Kosovo Liberation Army (UCK) changed its tactics from launching occasional random attacks against Serbs to making more frequent and more sophisticated raids against carefully targeted Serbs, Serbian institutions, and ethnic Albanians whom the UCK regards as collaborators. The UCK captured headlines, and perhaps also the imagination of young Kosovars frustrated with the moderate leadership of Ibrahim Rugova and the failure of his policy of non- violence to achieve even the most basic of the Kosovars' goals, namely autonomy. Second, law and order collapsed in Albania in the spring following the demise of a series of pyramid schemes into which a sizable portion of the population had put its savings and hopes. Angry citizens, perhaps incited by President Sali Berisha's political enemies, blamed him and his Democratic Party for their losses. They returned the Socialist Party--the former Communists--to office with a more than two-thirds majority in special elections in June. The Socialists quickly began to restore order in some major cities, but gangs continue to hold sway in much of the south. Large areas of the north, moreover, remain loyal to Berisha, or at least highly suspicious of the Socialists. Thus, it cannot be said that the elections brought real peace to Albania. Nor can it be said that Albania has reemerged as a factor of stability in the Balkans, as it appeared to be during much of Berisha's term in office. Security along Albania's borders collapsed, providing a golden opportunity for smugglers and armed gangs. Guns stolen from armories and police stations found their way into Kosovo and into western Macedonia, where a mainly ethnic Albanian population uneasily coexists with Macedonia's 70 percent Slavic majority. And continued ethnic tensions in Macedonia constituted the third factor of instability in this region of the Balkans. In the summer, demonstrations in Gostivar and Tetovo in favor of the display of the Albanian flag--and a subsequent violent police crackdown--prompted even the normally non-confrontational President Kiro Gligorov to accuse the Albanians of wanting to secede. The fourth problem was the growing political uncertainty surrounding Kosovo because of the possible changes in policy by its neighbors. Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic was handed two stiff electoral defeats in the early fall, one in Montenegro and the other in Serbia. Many observers wondered whether he would try to regain some of his political standing through some new crackdown in Kosovo, where his security forces have been carrying out a policy of repression for at least eight years. Recent press reports in Britain suggest that he has begun sending elite military forces into the area. Across the border, moreover, Albania's new Socialist government did not quickly set down a clear Balkan policy, which led to much speculation that Prime Minister Fatos Nano might try to strike a deal with Milosevic at the Kosovars' expense. Rugova had publicly supported Berisha, who was a staunch advocate of autonomy for Kosovo. Many Albanians believed that Nano would seek to settle this election campaign score with the Kosovar leader. Press reports from Crete seemed to bear out such a prediction. Nano met with Milosevic, despite protests from the Kosovars and Berisha that Nano should not do so without a Kosovar present. News agencies reported that Milosevic agreed during the discussions to grant the Kosovars basic civil rights, in return for which Nano accepted that the Kosovo question is Serbia's internal affair. Should those reports prove true, many Kosovars might conclude that their only hope is the UCK. Some Kosovars had earlier begun to argue that the lesson of the Bosnian war and the Dayton agreement is that oppressed groups must go to war to obtain justice and the attention of the international community. Nor did Crete seem to lead to an easing of the Macedonian tensions. True, during the fortnight before the talks, the Macedonian and Albanian defense ministers agreed on measures to increase border security. And then Turkish Foreign Minister Ismail Cem visited the two countries in a move to bolster regional stability. But on Crete, Gligorov and Nano could agree only to disagree. Gligorov reportedly refused to grant legal status to an Albanian-language university in Tetovo and added that any Albanians from Macedonia who want a higher education in their mother tongue should go to Tirana University. xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx Copyright (c) 1997 RFE/RL, Inc. 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