|A host is like general: calamities often reveal his genius. - Horace|
RFE/RL NEWSLINE Vol. 1, No. 156, Part II, 10 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 News from the Armenian Service's Yerevan bureau is posted to RFE/RL's Armenia Report each weekday. RFE/RL ARMENIA REPORT http://www.rferl.org/bd/ar/index.html xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx Headlines, Part II * POLISH PRESIDENT SEES GROWING RUSSIAN THREAT * PLAVSIC ON NEW SERBIAN POLITICAL FRONT * ALBANIAN GOVERNMENT MOVES TO TRY BERISHA xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx EAST-CENTRAL EUROPE COMMUNISTS, NATIONALISTS CLASH IN WESTERN UKRAINE. Ten people were injured in clashes between rival demonstrators on the anniversary of the 1917 Bolshevik revolution, Ukrainian media reported on 7 November. Elsewhere, rival groups marched without incident. But for some young Ukrainians, the revolution was very far away indeed. According to ITAR-TASS, a poll of fifth graders in Crimea found that many identified Napoleon or even Hitler as the leader of the October 1917 putsch that brought Lenin and the Bolsheviks to power. PG UKRAINE ADMITS TO EXECUTIONS. The Ukrainian Interior Ministry acknowledged to the Council of Europe on 7 November that Kyiv has executed 13 convicted criminals this year, despite public assurances from senior Ukrainian officials that all such actions have been halted. But the Ukrainian Interior Ministry is reported to have now issued orders suspending all executions. PG KUCHMA SAYS UKRAINE WON'T CLOSE CHORNOBYL WITHOUT HELP. During a visit to the troubled reactor site on 7 November, President Leonid Kuchma reiterated that Kyiv will not close the Chornobyl plant until the West finances an alternative power-generating plant, Interfax reported. But officials said the number of workers at the plant will be reduced from 6,000 to 3,000 over the next year. PG LUKASHENKA DOMINATES BELARUS COMMEMORATION. Demonstrators in Minsk, Mohylev, and other Belarusian cities carried portraits of Lenin, Stalin, and current Belarusian President Alyaksandr Lukashenka to mark the anniversary of the Bolshevik revolution, Belarusian media reported on 7 November. In a move reminiscent of Soviet practices, Lukashenka opened two new metro stations in the Belarusian capital and said that "the main lesson" of 1917 was that the authorities always need "to act in such a way that the masses don't want a revolution." PG ESTONIA SIGNS IMF MEMORANDUM. Prime Minister Mart Siimann and Bank of Estonia President Vahur Kraft have signed a memorandum with the IMF aimed at maintaining economic stability and preventing the economy from overheating, ETA and BNS reported on 7 November. The document pledges that until the end of 1998, Tallinn will continue with the currency-board system , strict monetary and conservative budgetary policies, and privatization. It also provides for a 1.2 billion kroons ($85.7 million) stabilization fund, drawing largely on privatization revenues. Earlier this year, disagreement over the size of that fund held up the signing of the memorandum. JC RUBIKS BANNED FROM ENTERING PARLIAMENT. The Latvian parliament's office has banned former Communist Party leader Alfreds Rubiks from entering the parliament building, BNS reported on 7 November. Rubiks, who was released from prison two days earlier (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 6 November 1997), wanted to attend a press conference in that building organized by Socialist deputies. The head of the parliament's office said Rubiks is included on a list of people who are banned out of fear they may disturb order in the parliament. Socialist deputies say they will file complaints with international organizations over what they call the legislature's "undemocratic" decision. JC POLISH PRESIDENT SEES GROWING RUSSIAN THREAT. Speaking at the Warsaw Oriental Studies Center on 6 November, Aleksandr Kwasniewski said he hopes for good relations with Moscow but warned they might not always be possible, ITAR-TASS reported on 7 November. "One should not forget," Kwasniewski added, "about the possible dangers too, because a whole line of political groups in Russia are now speculating on great-power sentiments, and their popularity is tending to grow due to difficult living conditions and the still unrealized necessity of economic reforms." In other comments, he stressed that "an independent, sovereign, and developing Ukraine" is "among the main prerequisites for stability in Europe."PG NEW POLISH GOVERNMENT MAKES FIRST FOREIGN-POLICY MOVES. The new Polish cabinet on 8 November authorized Foreign Minister Bronislaw Geremek to make Poland's application to NATO official, PAP reported. In another move, the new center-right government approved a draft concordat with the Vatican, which has been on hold since the left came to power in 1993. The main opposition party, however, announced it will oppose the agreement. Meanwhile, Father Henryk Jankowski, who was suspended for anti-Semitic remarks, told journalists on 8 November that he will ignore his bishop's "gag order." PG CONTINUED TROUBLES IN CZECH REPUBLIC. More than 60,000 workers marched in Prague on 8 November to protest the government's austerity program, CTK reported. The same day, President Vaclav Havel left the hospital briefly to officially appoint three new ministers. Havel's doctors said his condition is improving. Also on 8 November, two Czech skinheads attacked and killed a Sudanese exchange student, provoking outrage among the population and government alike. A massive demonstration has been called for 10 November to protest such attacks. The previous day, "Lidove Noviny" published excerpts from a protest letter being circulated by students who believe that religious instruction in schools features anti-Semitic elements. PG SLOVAK OFFICIAL LASHES OUT AT U.S. CRITICISM. In an open letter published in most Bratislava newspapers on 7 November, Interior Minister Gustav Krajci sharply criticized suggestions by U.S. Ambassador Ralph Johnson that the Slovak government took itself out of the running for NATO membership as a result of its anti- reformist policies. Johnson had made the comments in a recent interview with the Bratislava daily "Pravda." PG HUNGARIAN POLITICIANS ON TRIANON TREATY. In an interview with "Nepszava" published on 10 November, Independent Smallholder deputy Sandor Kavassy argued that efforts should continue to amend the 1920 Trianon peace treaty. Kavassy, who is to replace Agnes Nagy Maczo as deputy parliamentary chairman, said "ethnic borders and political borders must be brought into harmony sooner or later." Asked whether the re-negotiation of the Trianon treaty should be raised after Hungary joins NATO, Viktor Orban, who is chairman of the Alliance of Young Democrats-Hungarian Civic Party, told an opposition forum two days earlier that "there would be nobody to sit down with for such talks." Orban recalled late Prime Minister Jozsef Antall as saying Trianon is "something one should always think about but never talk about." MSZ SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE PLAVSIC ON NEW SERBIAN POLITICAL FRONT. Republika Srpska President Biljana Plavsic told RFE/RL in Banja Luka on 7 November that plans are under way to form what she called a "democratic consortium" of Serbian political leaders. That body will consist of herself, Serbian opposition leader Zoran Djindjic, and Montenegrin President-elect Milo Djukanovic. Plavsic said the group wants to promote democracy among all Serbs and to end the Serbs' international isolation. PM MILOSEVIC WARNS NATO NOT TO IMPOSE SOLUTIONS. Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic's office issued a statement on 7 November warning NATO that problems associated with the Dayton peace agreements will have to be "solved through agreements, cooperation, and confidence...without partiality or [attempts at] imposing solutions." The statement was issued following a visit to Belgrade by NATO Secretary-General Javier Solana and NATO's supreme commander of allied forces in Europe, U.S. General Wesley Clark. PM PERMANENT FOREIGN POLICE PRESENCE IN BOSNIA? Solana, speaking in Berlin on 8 November, urged the international community to begin considering the possibility of a permanent police role for itself in Bosnia. "A properly-equipped and well-funded international police force that would be available at short notice would also significantly raise our abilities of effective crisis management." Solana has proposed that the mandate for NATO's peacekeepers, which runs out in June 1998, be extended. With regard to his statement on the international police force, Solana is probably the first person of his rank to publicly suggest that the international community maintain a permanent armed presence in Bosnia. PM BRCKO TOWN COUNCIL HOLDS FIRST MEETING. The multi-ethnic council of the disputed strategic town of Brcko held its constituent session on 7 November. Observers described the meeting as long and stormy but without incident. Parties from the Republika Srpska hold 30 seats, while political groups from the mainly Croatian and Muslim federation have 26. In three districts of Mostar the following day, however, Muslim council members did not assume their mandates, an RFE/RL correspondent reported from Mostar. The Muslims are engaged in a procedural dispute with members of the Croat majorities on the three bodies. PM SLOVENIA, BOSNIA TO EXPAND TRADE. Slovenian Prime Minister Janez Drnovsek signed two economic cooperation agreements in Sarajevo on 7 November. Drnovsek led a large trade delegation to promote business links between the two former Yugoslav republics and to cut Slovenia 's huge trade surplus with Bosnia (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 31 October 1997). It was the first such high-level meeting between the two countries' leaderships. Slovenia is anxious to recapture and expand its pre-independence market share in other former Yugoslav republics. PM U.S. SAYS CROATIA DESERVES REPARATIONS. Outgoing U.S. Ambassador to Croatia Peter Galbraith told the Rijeka daily "Novi List" of 8 November that Croatia is entitled to reparations from Belgrade for the damage totaling billions of dollars that Croatia suffered during the 1990-1995 war. Galbraith says he believes that "Croatia has the right to demand war reparations for these damages. One of the possibilities Croatia has is to sue and gain satisfaction through legal means. Whatever happens we will support Croatia's right to sue.... Similarly, we support Bosnia-Herzegovina's right to accuse Serbia of genocide." PM ANOTHER SERB CONFESSES WAR CRIMES. Srboljub Suntic told the Belgrade daily "Dnevni telegraf" of 9 November that he killed 120 Croats, including civilians, in Serb-held parts of Croatia between 1993 and 1995. The former paramilitary said he decided to tell his story in order to expose the Milosevic "regime that first made [young Serbian nationalists] killers and then turned its back on us." Another ex-paramilitary made a similar confession the previous week (see "RFE/RL Newsline, 7 November 1997). The Serbian government has angered many Serbian nationalists because it did not help the Krajina Serbs repel Croatia's offensives in 1995 and refused to give most Croatian Serb refugees Yugoslav citizenship or refugee benefits. PM ANTI-FASCIST PROTESTS IN FORMER YUGOSLAVIA. Some 1,000 persons, mainly Roma and Jews, demonstrated in Belgrade on 9 November to mark the International Day for the Struggle against Fascism and Racism, an RFE/RL correspondent reported from the Serbian capital. In Zagreb, demonstrators erected a temporary monument on the site of a prison where the Ustashe tortured political prisoners during World War II, according to an RFE/RL correspondent in Zagreb. PM RUGOVA, MILOSEVIC MEETING IN OFFING? Kosovar shadow-state leader Ibrahim Rugova said in Pristina on 7 November that he is willing to hold his first-ever meeting with Milosevic if the Yugoslav president first implements a year-old Kosovar-Serbian agreement on restoring Albanian-language education in the province. Rugova added that talks aimed at setting up a meeting with Milosevic are under way (see "End Note," "RFE/RL Newsline," 6 November 1997). Also in Pristina, the clandestine Kosovo Liberation Army on 9 November claimed responsibility for the recent grenade attack on the Podujevo town hall (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 6 November 1997). PM ALBANIAN GOVERNMENT MOVES TO TRY BERISHA. Interior Minister Neritan Ceka has given the Tirana prosecutor's office criminal evidence against former President Sali Berisha, "Zeri i Popullit" reported on 8 November. Ceka argues that Berisha deliberately freed 58 dangerous criminals on 15 March in order to sabotage the elections some two months later. An unnamed legal adviser to Berisha denied the charges, saying the only truly dangerous criminals Berisha may have freed or pardoned are those now in the government, "Rilindja Demokratike" reported on 9 November. Prime Minister Fatos Nano was imprisoned under Berisha on political charges and then pardoned earlier this year. FS ALBANIAN GOVERNMENT TO INVESTIGATE FORMER DEFENSE MINISTER. Sabit Brokaj has asked the state anti-corruption agency to reopen its investigation into his predecessor Safet Zhulali, "Gazeta Shqiptare" reported on 9 November. In 1992, Zhulali was charged with involvement in the disappearance of $300,000 in connection with arms purchases from Bulgaria. The case was subsequently dropped for lack of evidence. In other news, local government officials across the country staged a one-day strike on 7 November to protest central government interference in their work. FS LE PEN IN ROMANIA. French National Front leader Jean-Marie Le Pen on 8 November told a congress of Romania's extreme nationalist Greater Romania Party (PRM) that nationalism is the only means to fight U.S. "hegemonic" plans for a new world order. PRM leader Corneliu Vadim Tudor said his party is pursuing an "enlightened nationalism" and wants to lead the country to "popular capitalism." He also announced that miners' leader Miron Cozma, who is in detention pending the outcome of his trial for involvement in the September 1991 rampage in Bucharest, has joined the PRM. The next day, Tudor was re-elected PRM leader, RFE/RL's Bucharest bureau reported. He ran unopposed. MS ROMANIAN PRESIDENT ON DRIVE TO REHABILITATE ANTONESCU. In an interview with an RFE/RL correspondent in Berlin on 7 November, Emil Constantinescu said he realizes the prosecutor-general's decision to start legal proceedings for the rehabilitation of members of Marshal Ion Antonescu's government has "delicate international implications" (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 23 October 1997). He added that the six ministers were "outstanding Romanian cultural figures" not associated with any of the "negative aspects" of Antonescu's rule. Constantinescu told a forum in Berlin organized by the Herbert Quant Foundation and the "Financial Times" that East European countries no longer fear "armed aggressions of a truly classic type" but infiltration of their state structures by mafia-type groups. MS PROGRESS TOWARD MOLDOVAN-ROMANIAN TREATY? Visiting Romanian Foreign Minister Adrian Severin told journalists in Chisinau on 7 November that experts representing the two sides will meet before the end of 1997 to discuss the pending basic treaty between the two countries. Severin said the experts must produce a "pragmatic" document" that is "void of rhetoric," RFE/RL's Chisinau bureau reported. Observers interpret Severin's statement as implying that Bucharest no longer insists on including a denunciation of the Ribbentrop-Molotov pact in the treaty. Moldova viewed that demand as subverting its independence. President Petru Lucinschi said the treaty is still pending due to the "incorrectness" of "some [Romanian] experts" in the past but added that an agreement seems possible before year's end. He also said he may have an "unofficial meeting" with President Emil Constantinescu later this year. MS MOLDOVAN COMMUNISTS CELEBRATE 1917 REVOLUTION. Vladimir Voronin, the leader of the Party of Moldovan Communists, said at a ceremony marking the 80th anniversary of the Bolshevik revolution that his party wants the "restoration of the Soviet federation of sovereign republics." Voronin said the collapse of the Soviet Union was "inspired by world imperialism," and he called the then presidents of Russia, Ukraine, and Belarus "Judases" for having signed the agreement that put an end to the USSR. The 1917 revolution anniversary was also marked in Tiraspol by the leadership of the separatists. MS BULGARIAN PARLIAMENT PASSES RESTITUTION LAW. The parliament on 7 November passed a law returning all property confiscated during the communist regime, RFE/RL's Sofia bureau reported. In 1992, the short-lived government led by the United Democratic Forces passed legislation providing for partial restitution, but the Socialist-led government stalled that process. The new law says owners whose property no longer exists will be compensated by equities in enterprises built on their land or will be paid compensation for the confiscated property in cash equal to the property's estimated current market value or in government bonds. The law also restores nationalized property to religious communities. MS xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx Copyright (c) 1997 RFE/RL, Inc. 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