|Life is what happens to us while we're making other plans. - John Lennon|
RFE/RL NEWSLINE Vol. 1, No. 157, Part II, 11 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 *BALTIC PRESIDENTS SAY "NO" TO RUSSIA *POLISH PREMIER OUTLINES PROGRAM, WINS CONFIDENCE VOTE *BOSNIA'S IZETBEGOVIC REJECTS CROATIAN OFFER xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx EAST-CENTRAL EUROPE BALTIC PRESIDENTS SAY "NO" TO MOSCOW... The presidents of the three Baltic States have formally rejected Russia's offer of security guarantees in a statement echoing the position already expressed by the countries' Foreign Ministries. "Unilateral security guarantees do not correspond to the spirit of the new Europe," they declared after their semi-annual summit in the Lithuanian resort of Palanga on 10 November . At the same time, the three leaders welcomed Russia's intention to improve relations with the Baltics. They also stressed that Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania are equally ready to begin EU membership talks in 1998. JC ..WHILE BALTIC PREMIERS PRESS FOR EU ENTRY IN HELSINKI. Meanwhile in the Finnish capital, the Latvian and Lithuanian premiers were lobbing hard in a bid to persuade their Nordic counterparts to support the simultaneous start of EU entry talks with the Baltics, BNS reported on 10 November. Guntars Krasts stressed the Latvian position that Baltic unity will be endangered if only Estonia is admitted to such talks. His Estonian colleague, Mart Siimann, supported simultaneous negotiations but added that the Baltics still believe "one is better than none." Finland continues to support the European Commission's recommendation that only Estonia begin entry talks, while Sweden and Denmark say they will propose that Latvia and Lithuania be included in the first wave. JC BIGGEST DROP TO DATE ON TALLINN STOCK EXCHANGE. The TALSE index plummeted nearly 20 percent on 10 November, the biggest drop in its 18-month history, ETA reported. During the turbulence of the past few weeks, the index has lost more than half of its value. Analysts say the most recent slump was caused by continued panic selling among investors. Shares in the Tallinn Pharmaceuticals Plant fell 35.5 percent within the first hour of trading, following claims in a local newspaper that the company lied about its ventures in Russia. Stocks in the banking sector followed the trend, with Hoiupank suffering the biggest loss (28 percent). JC GERMAN EXPERT SEES HOPE FOR UKRAINIAN PRIVATIZATION. A senior analyst at Deutsche Bank Research told RFE/RL on 10 November that despite the apparent impasse between President Leonid Kuchma and the parliament over privatization, there may still be some forward movement, even though large-scale privatization is likely to remain stalled until after the March 1998 elections. Jurgen Conrad said that Kuchma and lawmakers may reach a compromise about the pace of privatization either through the president's sacrificing privatization chief Volodymyr Lanoviy or through a compromise on some other issue. PG BELARUSIAN OPPOSITION LAUNCHES CHARTER-97. Some 100 prominent Belarusian political, cultural, and academic figures have signed a new manifesto, Charter-97, to promote democracy in their country, RFE/RL's Belarusian Service reported on 10 November. Modeled on the Czechoslovak Charter-77, issued 20 years ago in Prague, the new group seeks to unite opposition to President Alyaksandr Lukashenka and to seek the establishment of democracy in Belarus. PG POLISH PREMIER OUTLINES PROGRAM, WINS CONFIDENCE VOTE. Prime Minister Jerzy Buzek outlined his program to the parliament on 10 November and won a 260 to 173 vote of confidence in his new government, PAP reported. Buzek said his government will pursue four major goals: improving living standards, reforming government structures, increasing national security, and reinforcing moral values in society. He said that his government is committed to "make up for time lost" during the previous left-of-center government and to make sure that 1997 will be "remembered as the year when we began to repair the country and made a final break with a bad past." PG OFFICIALS SAY IRAQ CAN'T USE POLISH PLANE FOR GERM WARFARE. Officials at the WSK Mielec factory in Poland told PAP on 10 November that reports in the London "Sunday Times" suggesting the Iraqi government has adapted a Polish crop-dusting plane in order to engage in germ warfare are implausible. The officials said the plane is noisy, slow, and easily detected, rendering it unsuitable for that purpose. PG CZECH PREMIER SAYS ECONOMY IS GROWING. Prime Minister Vaclav Klaus told a Washington press conference on 10 November that the Czech Republic's economy is growing, albeit at a slower rate that he expected. He said that the trade union demonstration against his government on 8 November reflects disappointment about the country's economic situation but does not represent a crisis or a threat to his leadership or his party. Klaus said he expects to lead his Civic Democratic Party in the next elections, which he said will not take place before the year 2000. PG CZECHS MARCH AGAINST RACISM. Many Czech ministers and parliamentary deputies joined some 5,000 people in a 10 November protest against the murder of a Sudanese student by a Czech skinhead, CTK reported. From his hospital bed, President Vaclav Havel sent a message to the demonstrators deploring what he called the "government's obvious deficiency in paying insufficient attention to the problem" of racism in Czech society. PG SLOVAK PRESS STEPS UP CAMPAIGN AGAINST NEW TAX. Newspapers in Bratislava on 10 November published a joint protest against a government plan to increase value-added tax on publications. The statement said any such tax would restrict freedom of the press by forcing many papers to close. The newspapers indicated they will leave part of their front pages blank in the days leading up to the parliamentary debate on this subject. That debate is now scheduled to take place within the next few days. PG SLOVAKIA WANTS HUNGARY TO BUILD SECOND DANUBE DAM. Slovak Agricultural Minister Peter Baco said in Budapest on 10 November that if Hungary does not build a second dam at Nagymaros, Slovakia will unable to ensure peak performance of the Gabcikovo hydropower plant, Hungarian media reported. Following bilateral talks on the implementation of the Hague International Court of Justice's ruling on the Gabcikovo-Nagymaros project, Janos Nemcsok, the head of the Hungarian delegation, rejected the Slovak demand that Hungary build a second dam. He said Budapest his country will provide three alternatives to the Slovak proposal within two weeks. The two sides have six months to agree on how to implement the Hague court's verdict. MSZ SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE BOSNIA'S IZETBEGOVIC REJECTS CROATIAN OFFER. Alija Izetbegovic, the Muslim member of the Bosnian joint presidency, said on 10 November that Croatia's proposals for closer political and economic ties would compromise Bosnian sovereignty and hence are unacceptable (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 5 and 7 November 1997). State-run Radio Bosnia added that Sarajevo will draw up a counter proposal and present it to Zagreb. Muslim leaders earlier suggested that Croatia's proposals for a customs and monetary union are problematic. Western diplomats suggested to Reuters that Croatia's draft is aimed at diverting international and Muslim attention from stalled talks on Bosnia's access to Croatia's port of Ploce. PM SFOR TAKES OVER BOSNIAN SERB POLICE HEADQUARTERS. International peacekeepers took control of a hard-line Bosnian Serb elite police base in Doboj on 10 November and confiscated weapons. The peacekeepers declared the unit of paramilitaries and bodyguards dissolved and said any police officers wanting to keep their jobs would have to enlist in a new program drawn up by UN police monitors. Observers suggested that SFOR wanted to publicly humiliate the hard-liners as the 22-23 November legislative elections draw near. Meanwhile in Plavsic's stronghold of Banja Luka, Canadian police officials announced a gift of $70,000 toward training for pro-Plavsic police. PM BRUSSELS BLEAK ON BOSNIA. EU foreign ministers meeting in Brussels on 10 November issued a statement saying progress toward democracy in Bosnia is "extremely slow," especially in the Republika Srpska. The text noted an improvement in Croatia's cooperation with the Hague-based war crimes tribunal but slammed Zagreb's and Belgrade's poor records in facilitating the return of refugees. The ministers charged that Yugoslavia is not living up to its obligations under the Dayton agreement to promote human and minority rights, particularly in Kosovo. The document added that of the countries under review, Macedonia alone has made progress in protecting human and minority rights. PM MUSLIMS KILLED NEAR FRONT LINE. A UN police spokesman said in Sarajevo on 10 November that two Muslim males were killed and two more assaulted the previous day near the former front line at Jelovo Brdo in the Tuzla area. Police want to question Milan Becarevic, a Serbian former policeman, in conjunction with the incidents. PM TURKEY HELPS RESTORE MOSTAR BRIDGE. Turkish and Bosnian officials signed an agreement in Ankara on 10 November whereby Turkey pledged $1 million to help reconstruct the Mostar bridge over the Neretva River. Hungarian engineers have begun rebuilding the four-centuries-old structure and have found large pieces of the original bridge still intact on the riverbed. The UNESCO-registered bridge was a symbol of the multiethnic character of Bosnia- Herzegovina until Croatian gunners destroyed it at the end of 1993. PM SLAVONIAN SERBS BOYCOTT SCHOOLS. Serbian parents prevented their children from attending 18 out of 22 primary and secondary schools in eastern Slavonia on 10 November to protest the introduction of Croatian textbooks as part of the gradual reintegration of the Serb-held enclave into Croatia. Croatian Education Minister Liljana Vokic met with Serbian representatives and agreed that teachers could use the Cyrillic alphabet and the Serbian variant of Serbo-Croatian in their teaching. She also pledged to respect a previously agreed five-year moratorium on the teaching of the history of the former Yugoslavia since 1990, an RFE/RL correspondent reported from Vukovar. PM TUDJMAN'S PUTS OFF ISRAELI VISIT. President Franjo Tudjman's planned trip to Israel in December has been postponed indefinitely, the Vienna daily "Die Presse" reported, citing Zvi Rav-Ner of the Israeli Foreign Ministry. Two Israeli legislators criticized the planned visit, saying that some of Tudjman's writings and statements are anti-Semitic (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 7 November 1997). Both Zagreb and Jerusalem agreed to the postponement after the debate in the legislature. Tudjman has put off a trip to Israel on two previous occasions. PM CROATIAN REGIME CRITIC SACKED AS PROFESSOR. Slobodan Prosperov Novak, the president of Croatia's PEN Club and a professor at Zagreb University, has lost his teaching job, Croatian dailies reported on 10 November. Novak charged that the authorities sacked him because of his outspoken criticism of President Tudjman. Dean Stipe Botica, for his part, said Novak was let go because he neglected his teaching obligations during his frequent speaking tours abroad. PM BELGRADE WILL NOT PAY REPARATIONS. Kosta Mihajlovic, Belgrade's representative at the talks between former Yugoslav republics on dividing the former federation's assets and debts, said on 10 November that the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia did not wage war on Croatia or Bosnia and will not pay reparations to them. Outgoing U.S. Ambassador to Croatia Peter Galbraith suggested that Zagreb and Sarajevo sue Belgrade for billions of dollars in damages (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 10 November 1997). PM KOSOVAR LEADER WANTS "ACTIVE RESISTANCE." Parliamentary Party leader Adem Demaci said in Pristina on 10 November that Kosovar policies of passive resistance have failed. He called for the formation of a joint organization of all Kosovar political parties and for the launching of a new strategy of "active citizens' resistance," an RFE/RL correspondent reported from Pristina. He did not elaborate, however (see also "End Note," "RFE/RL Newsline," 6 November 1997). PM ROMANIAN PRESIDENT MEETS WITH RULING COALITION. Representatives of the ruling coalition on 10 November told Emil Constantinescu that they support a rapid reshuffle of the government and streamlining the cabinet in order to accelerate the privatization process, RFE/RL's Bucharest bureau reported. National Peasant Party Christian Democratic leader Ion Diaconescu said his party will co-opt Premier Victor Ciorbea in its leadership body in order to strengthen his authority. Former President Ion Iliescu handed to Constantinescu an open letter accusing the government of "non-democratic behavior" and "arrogance," saying his party may refuse to participate in such consultations in the future if there is no change of behavior. Constantinescu also met with the leaders of the Greater Romania Party and the Party of Romanian National Unity. MS FORMER ROMANIAN DEFENSE MINISTER ON TRIAL. The trial of General Victor Stanculescu and seven other defendants accused of fraud began in a Bucharest military court on 10 November, RFE/RL's Bucharest bureau reported. Stanculescu is accused of having embezzled $8 million in connection with the import of high-tech telephones for the military in 1990, at which time he was defense minister (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 21 April 1997). The defense asked the court to stop the proceedings because the crimes attributed to Stanculescu were committed before the current constitution was passed in 1991. MS INFLATION SOARS IN ROMANIA. The National Statistics Commission on 10 November said inflation in October reached 6.5 percent, nearly double the rate registered the previous month (3.3 percent). The annual inflation rate in October was 169.2 percent, RFE/RL's Bucharest bureau reported. MS CHISINAU, TIRASPOL SIGN COOPERATION AGREEMENT. Moldovan Prime Minister Ion Ciubuc and Transdniester separatist leader Igor Smirnov met in Chisinau on 10 November to sign an agreement "on the organizational principles of social and economic cooperation," RFE/RL's Chisinau bureau reported. Experts from the two sides will devise joint "mechanisms, forms, and methods" for implementing cooperation in those areas, a statement released by the Moldovan cabinet said. Smirnov said it is "too bad" the two sides cannot agree so easily on political matters, where, he said, differences "remain significant." A spokesman for Smirnov told BASA-press that Tiraspol will "discuss political issues with President Lucinschi and economic problems with Premier Ciubuc." MS COURT RULES MOLDOVAN PARLIAMENT'S MANDATE ENDS IN FEBRUARY. The Constitutional Court on 10 November ruled that the legislature's mandate ends on 27 February 1998. The ruling came following a request by deputy Vladimir Slonari for clarification of Article 16 of the basic law, which stipulates elections must be held within three months of the expiration of the parliament's mandate. Some deputies interpreted the article to mean that the legislature's mandate runs out on 29 March, four years after the present parliament's first session, rather than 27 February, four years after the elections. In other news, the Agrarian Democratic Party has expelled 15 deputies who joined the pro-presidential Movement for a Democratic and Prosperous Moldova, Infotag reported. MS BULGARIAN PRESIDENT ON ORGANIZED CRIME. Petar Stoyanov said in a televised interview on 10 November Bulgaria's number one problem is organized crime, an RFE/RL correspondent in Sofia reported. Stoyanov called on Interior Minister Bogomil Bonev and Prosecutor General Ivan Tatartchev to put aside personal differences and unite in crime fighting. Bonev argues that corruption is widespread among top prosecutors and judges, while Tatartchev maintains Bonev has launched a populist, unjustified campaign against prosecutors and judges. MS xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx Copyright (c) 1997 RFE/RL, Inc. 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