|If you are not allowed to laugh in heaven, I don't want to go there. - Martin Luther|
RFE/RL NEWSLINE Vol. 1, No. 160, Part II, 14 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 EUROPE: Has The West Embraced The East? -- a five-part series about Europe's multilateral organizations and whether and how they've aided the integration of Central and Eastern Europe with the West -- is online at the RFE/RL Web site. http://www.rferl.org/nca/special/multilateral/index.html xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx Headlines, Part II *KYIV UNENTHUSIASTIC ABOUT CHUBAIS VISIT *HAVEL TO REMAIN IN HOSPITAL LONGER THAN PLANNED *ATTACK ON PLAVSIC'S HEADQUARTERS End Note TWO SCENARIOS FOR BOSNIA xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx EAST-CENTRAL EUROPE KYIV UNENTHUSIASTIC ABOUT CHUBAIS VISIT. Russian First Deputy Prime Minister Anatolii Chubais left Moscow on 14 November for talks in Kyiv on settling outstanding bilateral debts. Observers say, however, that the Ukrainian authorities would prefer dealing with former Russian Security Council Deputy Secretary Boris Berezovskii, an RFE/RL correspondent in Kyiv reported on 13 November. Ukrainian President Leonid Kuchma was reportedly disappointed by Berezovskii's recent dismissal. Ukrainian observers also expect that during the presidential campaign scheduled for 1999, Chubais will back former Prime Minister Yevgenii Marchuk rather than Kuchma, whom Berezovskii was expected to support. LB RUSSIAN PRIVATE TV TO SOON BEGIN BROADCASTING IN UKRAINE. "Nezavisimaya gazeta" reported on 10 November that after months of negotiations, Russia's private network NTV is close to an agreement with the Ukrainian authorities to allow the network to begin broadcasting in Ukraine. If the plans go ahead, the newspaper said, NTV president Igor Malashenko may become Kuchma's "main image- maker" during the upcoming presidential campaign. LB BELARUSIAN PRESIDENT SETS 1998 ECONOMIC TARGETS. President Alyaksandr Lukashenka on 13 November issued a decree setting the country's economic targets for 1998, Russian agencies reported. GDP is forecast to grow by 7-8 percent, industrial output by 8-9 percent, consumer goods production by 10-11 percent, and agricultural output by 4-5 percent. Inflation is to be kept below 2 percent a month. As a result, real incomes are forecast to grow by 6-7 percent. Meanwhile, "Nezavisimaya gazeta" on 14 November reported that the number of unemployed in Belarus has dropped to 2.4 percent. LF ESTONIA'S ONLY POLITICAL PRISONER WILL BE PARDONED. By a vote of 36 to zero with two abstentions, the parliament has approved an amnesty of anyone convicted of treason, ETA reported on 13 November 1997. Twenty-eight lawmakers did not take part in the vote. The amnesty applies only to Tiit Madisson, Estonia's sole political prisoner, who in September 1996 was sentenced to two years in prison for a publication that called for overthrowing the country's constitutional order (see "End Note," "RFE/RL Newsline," 25 August 1997). Madisson has repeatedly protested his innocence and has appealed to the European Court of Justice. The amnesty goes into force on 14 November. JC POLISH FOREIGN MINISTER IN VILNIUS. Poland remains committed to its policy of "strategic partnership" with Lithuania, Bronislaw Geremek stressed during his visit to Vilnius on 13 November, BNS reported. Following a meeting with his Lithuanian counterpart, Algirdas Saudargas, Geremek said a commission of the bilateral Intergovernmental Cooperation Council has been established to streamline the countries' policies on European security issues. Geremek also noted that Poland "fully understands" why the Baltic States rejected Russia's recent offer of security guarantees. He added that Warsaw is also wary of such an offer because "as one historian put it, the Russian army often used to come ahead of any guarantees whatsoever." JC SOLIDARITY BLOC REGISTERS NEW PARTY. Solidarity Electoral Action (AWS), the senior partner in Poland's new coalition government, filed an application with the Warsaw Court on 13 November to register a new party. The registration motion was signed by 10,000 people. The founding committee of the party, the Social Movement of the AWS, includes Solidarity leader Marian Krzaklewski, Prime Minister Jerzy Buzek, and lower house speaker Maciej Pluzynski. Krzaklewski said recently that new party will espouse Christian values and "market- solidarity" principles. JC KWASNIEWSKI WANTS TO OPEN COMMUNIST-ERA FILES. Polish President Aleksander Kwasniewski wants to make public communist-era secret service files, dpa quoted a presidential spokesman as saying on 13 November. Kwasniewski has submitted to the parliament a bill providing for the opening up of those files. Observers suggest that Kwasniewski, an ex-Communist, may have wanted to preempt a similar move by the center-right coalition, which has said it wants to settle old scores with former communist leaders. JC ANOTHER CZECH PROTEST RALLY AGAINST RACISM. Several thousand people demonstrated in Brno on 13 November to protest what they called growing racism in the country, CTK reported. The demonstration came several days after skinheads in Prague killed a Sudanese student. That killing has prompted similar demonstrations in other Czech cities, amid calls for the government to take steps against anti-foreign and racially motivated violence (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 11 November 1997). MS HAVEL TO REMAIN IN HOSPITAL LONGER THAN PLANNED. Miroslav Cerbak, head of the team of doctors treating President Vaclav Havel, issued a statement on 13 November saying Havel's condition has not changed and his chronic bronchitis is complicating the treatment for pneumonia. The team of doctors says it is does not know when Havel will be released from the hospital, CTK reported. MS HUNGARIAN PREMIER URGES PRO-NATO VOTE. Gyula Horn, addressing a rally in Budapest on 13 November, urged Hungarians to approve the country's entry into NATO in the 16 November referendum. He told the crowd that the invitation to join the alliance means that, for the first time this century, the world has acknowledged Hungarian accomplishments. He also called on all segments of society to put aside political differences and combine forces to seize "this historic opportunity." MSZ HUNGARY, ITALY, SLOVENIA TO FORM JOINT PEACE-KEEPING FORCE. Hungary, Italy, and Slovenia have signed an agreement to set up a joint peacekeeping unit, Hungarian media reported on 13 November. The unit will consist of three artillery battalions and will have joint headquarters in Italy, according to Hungarian Defense Minister Gyorgy Keleti. The three countries' defense ministers, meeting in Budapest on 13 November, said their cooperation is not aimed at any other country but "could be open to other states that want to join." MSZ SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE ATTACK ON PLAVSIC'S HEADQUARTERS. Two masked gunmen attacked the offices of Republika Srpska President Biljana Plavsic's Serbian People's League (SNS)on 13 November in Bijeljina. Damage was extensive, and UN police are investigating the incident. Plavsic founded the SNS in August after she broke with the Serbian Democratic Party (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 29 August 1997). The attack comes less than two weeks before the Bosnian Serb parliamentary elections, scheduled for 22-23 November. PM MUSLIMS STONE UN BUS. A crowd of Muslim refugees near Tuzla stoned a UN bus carrying Serbian visitors from Serb-held areas into Muslim-controlled territory on 13 November. Two Serbian men and one Muslim woman were injured. The Muslims were blocking traffic in the area to protest the cutoff of electricity to their refugee camp owing to unpaid bills. It was the third attack by local Muslims against Serbian visitors this year. The Dayton agreements ensure freedom of movement across the former front lines. PM MUSLIMS WANT SERBS IN U.S. PROGRAM. Mirza Hajric, an adviser to Alija Izetbegovic, the Muslim member of the Bosnian joint presidency, said in Sarajevo on 13 November that the Bosnian Serbs should be allowed to join the U.S.-sponsored "Train and Equip" military program. Hajric stressed that Serbian participation in the program, which already includes Muslims and Croats, would be a first step toward creating a joint army, which might then qualify for membership in NATO's Partnership for Peace program. Washington recently turned down Plavsic's request to join the "Train and Equip" program (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 13 November 1997). Bosnian Serb hard-liners oppose Serbian participation in the program. PM SARAJEVO INVESTIGATES CORRUPTION. The Bosnian federal government announced in Sarajevo on 13 November that it is launching a probe into the possible embezzlement of some $30 million in taxes, customs fees, and aid money. Carlos Westendorp, the international community's chief representative in Bosnia, recently said he would make public a list of allegedly corrupt officials' names if the Sarajevo authorities failed to act against the embezzlers by 14 November (see "RFE/RL Bosnian Report," 5 November 1997). PM MISIC FORMALLY CHARGED WITH WAR CRIMES. Belgrade authorities formally charged Slobodan Misic with war crimes on 13 November. Misic recently told the Serbian media that he had killed some 80 Bosnian civilians during the war (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 7 November 1997). In Zagreb, a court sentenced Mario Maler, a Bosnian Croat, to one-and-a-half years in prison for mistreating Croatian prisoners when he was a guard in the Serb-run Stara Gradiska camp in 1992. PM NEW PRESS LAW IN SLOVENIA. Justice Minister Tomaz Marusic on 13 November said that criminal legislation will be changed so that journalists will no longer be prosecuted for disclosing state and army secrets if their aim in doing so is to expose wrong-doing. The move is part of a process to bring Slovenian legislation in line with EU standards. PM ITALY WARNS CROATIA ON RIGHTS. Italian Foreign Minister Lamberto Dini told his Croatian counterpart, Mate Granic, in Rome on 13 November that Italy will support Croatia's integration into European institutions. Dini added, however, that Rome expects Zagreb to institute "European standards and behavior" in regard to human and minority rights. Dini and Granic signed several agreements, including one that will enable the citizens of each country to visit the other with only their internal identity papers. The conclusion of an overall Friendship and Cooperation Treaty, however, is being held up by differences regarding rights to and compensation for the property once owned by some 150,000 Italian citizens in Dalmatia and Istria. Italy also wants more schools for Croatia's remaining Italian minority. PM STATE OF EMERGENCY IN DALMATIA The Croatian authorities on 13 November declared Split-Dalmatia County a disaster area, following heavy rains and floods. The power grid was damaged and the ferry service to the islands disrupted. PM ALBANIAN COURT CURBS PYRAMID INVESTIGATORS. The Constitutional Court on 13 November ruled that a key article of the new law regulating pyramid schemes is unconstitutional, "Dita Informacion" reported. The court argued that the law gives government-appointed administrators judicial functions over property owned by the pyramid companies, which, it said, is in violation of the principle of separation of powers. FS ROMANIAN SENATE POSTPONES DEBATE ON EDUCATION LAW. The Senate has postponed its scheduled debate on government regulations amending the 1996 education law. Bela Marko, the leader of the Hungarian Democratic Federation of Romania (UDMR), appealed to President Emil Constantinescu on 13 November to mediate between his group and the National Peasant Party Christian Democratic (PNTCD). Marko said there have been accusations that the UDMR is "blackmailing" the PNTCD but the truth is, in fact, the opposite. He explained that the PNTCD is threatening to withdraw support for other amendments to the 1996 law supported by the UDMR if the ethnic Hungarian formation does not agree to history and geography being taught in the Romanian language in all schools, RFE/RL's Bucharest bureau reported. MS MOLDOVA, UKRAINE, ROMANIA TO JOINTLY COMBAT ORGANIZED CRIME. The interior ministers of Moldova, Ukraine, and Romania are to sign in Chisinau on 14 November a declaration on collaboration in the fight against organized crime, RFE/RL's Chisinau bureau reported. The declaration follows an accord on jointly combating organized crime that the three countries' presidents signed at the first meeting of the Moldova-Ukraine-Romania "trilateral" in Izmail, Ukraine, in early July. MS BULGARIAN COMMISSION UNVEILS CORRUPTION IN ARMY. Defense Minister Georgi Ananiev and Chief of Staff Miho Mihov told a press conference in Sofia on 12 November that a special audit commission has discovered large-scale corruption and theft at military facilities and in the ministry itself under the former cabinet of Socialist Zhan Videnov. The commission found irregularities in expenditures for peace-keeping troops assigned to the UN and established missing equipment from military depots. It said corruption was evident among officers and officials responsible for food supplies, spare parts for vehicles, and the safeguarding of weapons and ammunition, an RFE/RL correspondent in Sofia reported. MS END NOTE TWO SCENARIOS FOR BOSNIA by A. Ross Johnson U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, NATO Secretary- General Javier Solana, Jacques Klein, who is the international community's second most important representative in Bosnia, and other international leaders have recently called for continued NATO and U.S. military presence in Bosnia after SFOR's mandate expires in June 1998. Bosnia's future was debated at an October conference in Washington sponsored by the RFE/RL Fund, Inc. Participants included Ambassador Richard Holbrooke, Senator Joe Biden, Ambassador Warren Zimmerman, and a number of experts on the Yugoslav region. Three major conclusions were drawn at that conference. First, continued U.S. involvement and military presence are essential to maintain peace in Bosnia-Herzegovina, prevent the conflict from being rekindled (and perhaps spreading to neighboring countries), and give democratic institutions a chance to develop. While viewing a continued military presence as essential, participants had differing views on the efficacy of utilizing military forces to promote moderate, pro-Dayton Accord behavior on the part of the ruling Bosnian Serb elite in the Republika Srpska. Second, strengthened independent media are indispensable for maintaining peace and developing democratic institutions. Conference participants agreed that the wars of Yugoslav succession began in the media, most notably in the xenophobic, Serbian nationalist propaganda of Belgrade Television. Nationalist Serbian, Croatian, and, to a lesser degree, Muslim politicians in Bosnia- Herzegovina continue to utilize captive television and radio networks as well as newspapers to fan the flames of national separation and often ethnic hatred. The official Bosnian Serb media have the worst record in this regard. Some independent publications have emerged in the last year, such as "Nezavisne novine" in Banja Luka and "Slobodna Bosna" in Sarajevo. But major international assistance notwithstanding, indigenous electronic media remain mouthpieces of national parties and nationalist politicians. With few exceptions, it is only international broadcasters who provide balanced reporting on the airwaves. Third, international guarantees of self-determination are a prerequisite for a peaceful future in Bosnia-Herzegovina. Participants in the conference agreed on the minimum program for Bosnia's future: self-determination of peoples, no repetition of forced mass expulsions and mass murder, and emergence of pluralist and democratic institutions. But two quite different viewpoints were expressed about what that might mean in practice. One view maintained that, with the cessation of hostilities and with international encouragement and pressure, Bosnia-Herzegovina has been reestablishing itself as a country composed of two major federal or confederal units (the Serbian entity and the Muslim- Croatian federation). War criminals are being brought to justice. Some refugees expelled from their native regions are returning, and some infrastructure is being re-established. Bosnia will never be a nation-state, but its three peoples (Serbs, Croats, Bosnian Muslims) will again accept one another as neighbors. According to Dennison Rusinow of the University of Pittsburgh, those peoples realize that "if we do not all hang together, we shall most assuredly continue to hang each other." The republic of Bosnia- Herzegovina may have been a constitutional artifact of Titoist Yugoslavia, but the region and its peoples have a common history. In due course, self-determination will manifest itself in loyalty to the new state of Bosnia-Herzegovina. Ambassador Holbrooke argued that the realistic objective as well as the moral obligation of the U.S. and Western Europe is to encourage that process. For " to impose partition would be immoral..., it would legitimize aggression." The second view was that Bosnia-Herzegovina can never become a state commanding even minimal loyalty from the majority of its inhabitants. The collapse of multi-national Yugoslavia and the outbreak of genocidal warfare for the second time in a half-century foreclosed such a future. Bosnian Serbs and Bosnian Croats show loyalty to, and identify with, Serbia or Croatia, rather than Bosnia. That national exclusivism is reflected in both the independent and official media in the three parts of Bosnia. Moreover, the Croatian areas of Herzegovina, nominally part of the Muslim-Croatian Federation, are de facto part of Croatia--more so than in the case of the Republika Srpska and Serbia. The common Bosnian-Herzegovina institutions postulated in the Dayton accords are an external construct. Self-determination can mean only partition, with international military guarantees of new borders, especially those of a new state for the Bosnian Muslims (who suffered the most). Aleksa Djilas, a Belgrade-based sociologist and historian, commented that the "goal of a unified Bosnia is morally justified, but there are times when the best is the enemy of the good, and this is the case in Bosnia right now." Although participants in the conference found little common ground between those two viewpoints, there was consensus that continued Western and U.S. military presence is a prerequisite for even minimal stability in the region, while the peoples of Bosnia and the international community determine which of the two scenarios will prevail. The author is RFE/RL counselor. xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx Copyright (c) 1997 RFE/RL, Inc. 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