|The fool wonders, the wise man asks. - Benjamin Disraeli|
RFE/RL NEWSLINE Vol. 1, No. 165, Part II, 21 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 ENERGY POLITICS IN THE CASPIAN AND RUSSIA: Oil has begun flowing from the Caspian Sea, home to one of the biggest oilfields in the world. RFE/RL provides continuing coverage of regional energy developments on its Web site. http://www.rferl.org/nca/special/caspian/index.html xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx Headlines, Part II *KYIV SEEKS MORE HELP TO CLOSE DOWN CHORNOBYL *ALBANIA, YUGOSLAVIA TO HAVE FULL DIPLOMATIC TIES *SERBS GET ULTIMATUM OVER KARADZIC POSTERS End Note THE LANGUAGE OF HATE xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx EAST-CENTRAL EUROPE KYIV SEEKS MORE HELP TO CLOSE DOWN CHORNOBYL. Representatives of some 50 countries gathered in New York on 20 November to discuss how to raise the $760 million that the international community estimates is needed to close the Chornobyl nuclear power plant, ITAR-TASS reported The meeting, which was co-chaired by Ukrainian President Leonid Kuchma and U.S. Vice President Al Gore, resulted in some commitments of additional funds but still far less than necessary. Kuchma commented that the conference came "10 years late. But better late than never." He also noted that Ukraine currently spends 12 percent of its budget revenues on the Chornobyl plant. PG UKRAINE TO DEFEND NATIONAL CURRENCY. Ukraine's central bank has announced plans to support the embattled hryvna, Ukrainian media reported on 20 November. Other Ukrainian officials suggested Kyiv has the necessary funds to prevent a further decline in the value of its currency. The hryvna has recently come under pressure as a result of both domestic economic difficulties and international currency speculation. PG LUKASHENKA OPPONENTS STAGE FLAG PROTEST. On the first anniversary of the vote that gave President Alyaksandr Lukashenka sweeping powers, Belarusians opposed to his rule displayed the now outlawed red-and-white national flag, RFE/RL's Belarusian service reported on 20 November. Some flags were so large that the authorities had to use heavy-duty equipment to remove them. No single group has taken responsibility for the latest protest. PG BELARUS SEEKS TO RESTORE SOVIET-STYLE TIES WITH CUBA. Belarusian parliamentary speaker Anatoly Malofeyev said in Havana on 20 November that Minsk seeks to "restore all its positive ties with Cuba that existed in Soviet days," ITAR-TASS reported. He added that his country understands all the problems Havana faces "in its efforts to find its place in the contemporary world and in the struggle to survive in the new difficult conditions." The Minsk delegation is particularly interested in obtaining Cuban sugar in exchange for Belarusian machinery and fertilizers. PG BALTICS PAVE WAY FOR JOINT ECONOMIC AREA. Meeting in Riga on 20 November, the Estonian, Latvian, and Lithuanian prime ministers agreed to abolish non-tariff customs barriers, BNS and ETA reported. They also signed a resolution on establishing a joint economic area that would allow the free movement of labor and services and the creation of a joint border regime. A second resolution signed in Riga stresses the need to continue to cooperate in combating illegal immigration and to tighten control over the countries' eastern frontiers. JC ESTONIAN PREMIER THREATENS TO RESIGN OVER BUDGET DEBACLE. Mart Siimann has threatened to resign if his government and the opposition cannot reach agreement over the 1998 budget, ETA reported on 20 November. The previous day, the opposition voted several amendments into the draft that would result in a budgetary imbalance (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 20 November 1997). Under Estonian law, the budget must be balanced. Siimann is due to meet with opposition leaders on 24 November in a bid to reach agreement on the issue. JC SUSPECTED WAR CRIMINAL INDICTED IN LITHUANIA. The Lithuanian Prosecutor-General's Office has filed criminal charges against Kazys Gimzauskas, who is suspected of involvement in genocide during World War II, BNS reported on 20 November. The 89-year-old Gimzauskas was deputy director of the Vilnius regional security police from the fall of 1941 to July 1944. During that period, the force was headed by Aleksandras Lileikis, who is also accused of involvement in genocide but has not yet been indicted owing to poor health. The parliament recently began debating amendments to the criminal code aimed at facilitating investigations into genocide suspects (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 19 November 1997). JC POLAND WOULD EXPEL RUSSIAN DIPLOMATS FOR SPYING. Foreign Minister Bronislaw Geremek said on 20 November that Warsaw would expel any Russian diplomat found to be involved in espionage, ITAR-TASS reported. Geremek's comments followed the recent publication in "Zycie" of a list of 23 Russian diplomats the newspaper identified as spies (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 17 November 1997). The editors of "Zycie" have promised to publish a second list that will include the names of another 28 alleged Russian agents. PG HUNGARY'S ANTI-NATO OPPOSITION CHALLENGES REFERENDUM. The far-right Hungarian Justice and Life Party on 19 November announced that it will challenge the validity of the 16 November NATO referendum in the Constitutional Court. It argued that a 1989 referendum law requiring turnout to exceed 50 percent is still in force. The next day, the pacifist Alba Circle group asked the National Election Commission (OVB) to declare the plebiscite illegal on the same grounds. OVB Chairman Istvan Kukorelli said the commission is aware that the referendum law remains in force until the end of 1997, but he said a constitutional amendment passed in July superseded that legislation. Under that amendment, a referendum is valid if at least 25 percent of the electorate voted either for or against the issue put to the vote. MSZ HUNGARY TO SLOW DOWN FORINT DEVALUATION. Finance Minister Peter Medgyessy and National Bank President Gyorgy Suranyi announced on 20 November that beginning January 1998, the "crawling peg" devaluation of the forint will be reduced by 0.1 percent to 0.9 percent a month. Medgyessy noted that GDP growth is more favorable than expected, reaching 4 percent by the end of 1997, and the deficit lower than the planned 4.9 percent of GDP. He also said that Hungary's foreign debt was $10.5 billion at the end of September. Medgyessy and Suranyi expect the 1997 inflation rate to be reach some 18 percent. MSZ SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE ALBANIA, YUGOSLAVIA TO HAVE FULL DIPLOMATIC TIES. A Foreign Ministry spokesman said in Tirana on 20 November that Prime Minister Fatos Nano and Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic agreed at the recent Balkan summit on Crete to establish full diplomatic relations. The spokesman said that "technical" problems are holding up the appointment of ambassadors. The previous Albanian government of President Sali Berisha refused to appoint an ambassador to Belgrade until Yugoslavia solved the Kosovo question to the satisfaction of the province's ethnic Albanian majority. The Kosovar and Albanian media have speculated since the Crete summit that Nano may have agreed to tone down Tirana's support for the Kosovars in return for better ties to Belgrade (see "End Note" in "RFE/RL Newsline," 6 November 1997). PM SPECIAL STATUS FOR KOSOVO? The Albanian Foreign Ministry spokesman added on 19 November that the Kosovo question can be solved only by granting the province autonomy within Yugoslavia and that West European countries will work toward that end. In Paris, French Foreign Minister Hubert Vedrine and his German counterpart, Klaus Kinkel, appealed to Milosevic to open talks with the Kosovars aimed at establishing autonomy for the province. Milosevic rose to power in the late 1980s on the pledge to end the autonomy that Kosovo then enjoyed, and he had kept that promise. Kosovar political leaders argue that the Albanians have no future in Yugoslavia and want independence. PM KOSOVAR PARTIES FORM ALLIANCE. Some 13 political parties, NGOs, and other organizations set up the Kosovo Democratic Forum in Pristina on 19 November, an RFE/RL correspondent reported from that city. Kosovar shadow-state President Ibrahim Rugova's Democratic League of Kosovo (LDK) did not join the new grouping, which is led by the Parliamentary Party's Adem Demaci (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 11 November 1997). Demaci argues that Rugova's policies of non-violence and of appealing to the U.S. and the EU to help solve the Kosovo problem have not brought results. He said that the founding of the Democratic Forum proves that the Kosovars can take responsibility for solving their own problems themselves. PM SHOOT-OUT NEAR MACEDONIAN-ALBANIAN BORDER. A Macedonian Defense Ministry spokesman said in Skopje on 20 November that a border guard was badly wounded near Struga the previous day in a shoot-out with intruders from Albania. This is the second violent incident in that area within several days and one of more than 100 shoot-outs near the frontier so far this year (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 19 November 1997). Also in Skopje, spokesmen for an independent truckers' union said on 20 November that police prevented drivers' attempts to block major highways and border crossings. The truckers want road usage fees reduced. PM YUGOSLAVIA TO RETURN CITIZENS' SAVINGS. The federal government agreed in Belgrade on 20 November on a plan to repay citizens' hard-currency savings. The government froze hard-currency accounts at the time of the breakup of the former Yugoslavia. According to the new plan, each account holder may receive up to $200 in 1998, $250 in 1999, and additional payments at a fixed rate of increase in subsequent years. Western experts say that Belgrade's total hard-currency debts to its citizens amount to $6 billion, an RFE/RL correspondent reported from the Serbian capital. PM SERBS GET ULTIMATUM OVER KARADZIC POSTERS. Representatives of the Organization on Security and Cooperation in Europe, which is supervising the Bosnian Serb parliamentary elections on 22-23 November, said in Sarajevo on 20 November that the hard-line Serbian Democratic Party (SDS) must take down posters depicting indicted war criminal and former SDS leader Radovan Karadzic. Officials of the SDS replied in Pale that the SDS has nothing to do with the posters, which bear the name of the Serbian National Society. Under an agreement in June 1996 between the international community and the Bosnian Serb leadership, Karadzic was to have disappeared from public life at that time. Posters depicting him nonetheless appeared during the Bosnian election campaign that fall. PM MUSLIMS, CROATS URGED TO VOTE. Alija Izetbegovic, the Muslim member of the Bosnia joint presidency, and Kresimir Zubak, his ethnic Croatian counterpart, urged their respective constituents to vote in the Republika Srpska's elections. Izetbegovic appealed to Muslims to go to the polls and "help those [candidates] who advocate an integral and democratic Bosnia." PM COUNCIL OF EUROPE SLAMS ALBANIAN POLITICIANS. A delegation from the Council of Europe's Parliamentary Assembly said in Tirana on 20 November that members of the Socialist and Democratic Parties are not willing to engage in dialogue or make compromises, "Shekulli" reported. A delegation spokesman added that one of his group's concerns is the slow process in drafting a new constitution. He added that all political forces must be involved in the process. Elsewhere, the parliament's constitution drafting commission, meeting for the first time, failed to agree on a plan to carry out its work. The Democrats did not show up for the meeting, "Koha Jone" reported. FS ALBANIAN PYRAMID VICTIMS DEMAND ACTION. Spokesmen for the National Association of Creditors, which represents the interests of pyramid investors who lost their money when the schemes collapsed early this year, said that their association demands a roundtable of all political parties at the end of November to develop a joint strategy to deal with the pyramid issue. Association head Mistret Sahiti said that those who lost their money will be reassured that the authorities are serious about dealing with the pyramids only if all 10 political parties agree on a program. Turning his attention to the government, Sahiti threatened a nationwide hunger strike of failed investors if the government does not find a way of returning their money. FS ROMANIAN PROSECUTOR-GENERAL ON ANTONESCU REHABILITATION. Sorin Moisescu has responded to Senator Alphonse D'Amato and Congressman Christopher Smith's protest against the judicial procedure for posthumously rehabilitating six members of the interwar government headed by Marshall Ion Antonescu, "Advearul" reported on 21 November. Moisescu said the six ministers did not share any responsibility for the decisions of that cabinet. He noted that Romania's constitution had been "suspended" in 1940 and all power transferred to Antonescu, who was designated the country's "leader." Consequently, neither collective government nor personal responsibility applied under those circumstances. MS ROMANIAN GOVERNMENT AMENDS BUDGET. The cabinet on 20 November issued an "urgent ordinance" increasing budget expenditures by 1.05 billion lei ($131.4 million). The bulk of that sum is for the Ministry of Commerce and Industry (262 billion lei), the Defense Ministry (205.1 billion lei), and the Interior Ministry (193 billion lei).The government measure was requested earlier the same day by President Emil Constantinescu, who said parliamentary commissions debating amendments to the budget have been "unjustifiably procrastinating." An "ordinance" takes effect immediately, without the parliament's approval. MS TRADE UNIONISTS PROTEST IN BUCHAREST. Between 15,000 and 20,000 members of the Fratia trade union confederation marched in Bucharest on 20 November to protest the government's market reform program, RFE/RL's Bucharest bureau reported. The protesters called on Victor Ciorbea's cabinet to resign. MS MOLDOVA TO SELL REMAINING FIGHTER PLANES. Prime Minister Ion Ciubuc on 20 November said Moldova intends to sell its six remaining MiG-29C fighter planes. But he refused to disclose the identity of the buyer, saying the planes are now undergoing repairs in Belarus, Infotag reported. Ciubuc confirmed that the U.S. is to pay $80 million for the 21 planes bought from Moldova. He said Washington has already transferred $40 million, while the remainder of the debt will be paid in the form of equipment for "humanitarian operations." Ciubuc also said the cabinet may be "somewhat reshuffled" in the near future, noting that "compromising information" on several ministers was being examined. Also on 20 November, Ciubuc and the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development signed an agreement for a $30 million credit to finance an overhaul of Chisinau's water supply system, RFE/RL's bureau in the Moldovan capital reported. MS MOLDOVAN PRESIDENT MEETS WITH SEPARATIST LEADER. President Petru Lucinschi met with separatist leader Igor Smirnov in Chisinau on 20 November, RFE/RL's Chisinau bureau and ITAR-TASS reported. The two leaders failed to reach an agreement on how to dispose of the Russian military equipment in the Transdniester. Smirnov said he and Lucinschi "differ on who should benefit from that [process] and to what degree." Smirnov is insisting on a share of the weapons and has publicly claimed the entire arsenal is Transdniestrian property. The same day, Russian Minister for CIS Affairs Anatolii Adamishin, whom President Boris Yeltsin recently appointed as coordinator of the Russian team mediating the Transdniester conflict, met in Chisinau with Minister of Defense Valeriu Pasat. The problem of the withdrawal of the Russian arsenal remains "most difficult," but a policy of "small steps" may succeed in the end, Pasat commented. MS GAZPROM RESOLVES SOFIA-MOSCOW DISPUTE. Shareholders in TopEnergy, which is 50 percent owned by Russia's Gazprom company, have voted to exclude the controversial private Bulgarian Multigroup from a Russian-Bulgarian pipeline project. The vote requires Multigroup to sell their stakes in TopEnergy by 16 December to the state-owned Bulgargaz company, an RFE/RL correspondent in Sofia reported. Multigroup is viewed by many Bulgarians as a dubious intermediary company set up by former communists and serving Russian interests. Last month, Bulgarian Foreign Minister Nadezhda Mihailova said Sofia's dispute with Gazprom was affecting relations with Moscow. MS BULGARIAN-TURKISH FREE TRADE ZONE IN OFFING. Trade Minister Valentin Vasiliev on 20 November said his country and Turkey will agree to set up a free trade zone before Turkish Premier Mesut Yilmaz's scheduled visit to Sofia on 4 December, an RFE/RL correspondent in the Bulgarian capital reported. He said a comprehensive agreement on trade liberalization between the two countries is still being negotiated but noted that a memorandum on the free trade zone can be quickly signed. Vasiliev spoke after meeting with Turkish Economy and Foreign Trade Minister Isin Celebi. MS END NOTE THE LANGUAGE OF HATE by Patrick Moore Most analyses of the developments in the former Yugoslavia in the past 10 years have stressed the role played by the nationalist official media on all sides in fomenting ethnic hatred. Those media continue to convey a large part of their negative message not just in the way they select subject matter for their reports but in their use of language itself. Part of the nationalists' manipulation of language has involved imposing rules of political correctness upon individual speakers and writers, both in the media and in public life in general. This has sometimes led to unintentionally amusing results as individuals struggle to speak a supposedly "pure" speech for their ethnic group, which may be based on a dialect spoken hundreds of miles from where those individuals were born or where they live. This is because the differences between Serbo-Croatian dialects are based on geography, not on ethnicity. It thus appears artificial when Bosnian Serb President Biljana Plavsic affects the "real" Serbian of Belgrade. But the language of hatred goes beyond mere political correctness. It involves selecting loaded terms that serve to demonize an entire ethnic group. On 14 November, RFE/RL discussed the phenomenon in a roundtable with social scientists and journalists from Croatia. One participant noted that the language of hatred did not begin with the rise to power of Serbian leader Slobodan Milosevic a decade ago. It has its roots in the communist, totalitarian practice of mobilizing support by blackening those who dare to have different opinions. It reflects an "us-against-them" mentality. By using ethnic pejoratives, nationalists can easily characterize members of other nationalities in the blackest of terms. Thus, until recently, the Croatian official media regularly used the term "Srbocetnik"--linking the Serbian ethnic group as a whole with the chetnik rebel fighters--to characterize all Serbs as anti-Croatian. The Serbian media, for their part, conjured up Serbs' worst memories of Croatian war crimes against Serbs during World War II by lumping all Croats together as "Ustashe," the fanatical followers of Hitler's ally Ante Pavelic. The Muslims' wartime enemies, for their part, characterized them as "fundamentalists." That term served to identify even secular individuals--who happened to be descended from people who had embraced Islam--with the most hardened religious fanatics. In short, an entire nationality was tarred with the same brush. The social scientists and opposition journalists told RFE/RL that they are pessimistic about the chances of overcoming the language of hatred and its legacy, even now that peace has come. First, the "us- against-them" mentality reflected in the language of hatred was propagated by the communists throughout society for more than 40 years and hence will be difficult to eliminate quickly. Second, the new states that emerged from Josip Broz Tito's Yugoslavia were born amid hatred, as one panelist put it. Thus, he argued, hatred is already an internal component of those countries' domestic politics and is likely to remain so for many years to come. War only served to reinforce the negative feelings. Third, the trends toward political correctness that developed during the war continue to be reinforced not only by the official media but by the school system as well. Serbian, Croatian, and Muslim children learn from books written in artificially "pure" languages. The texts, moreover, portray each respective people's history in only the most glowing of terms. That helps ensure that the "us-against-them" mentality will be passed on even to generations too young to remember the recent fighting. But is their a way to break the vicious circle of ethnic hatred? Roundtable participants told RFE/RL that the negative system of values must be opposed by a positive one based on tolerance. That can come about only by promoting civil society and developing democratic institutions. xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx Copyright (c) 1997 RFE/RL, Inc. All rights reserved. xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx SUBSCRIBING: 1) To subscribe to RFERL-L, please send a message to email@example.com 2) In the text of your message, type subscribe RFERL-L YourFirstName YourLastName UNSUBSCRIBING: 1) To un-subscribe to RFERL-L, please send a message to firstname.lastname@example.org 2) In the text of your message, type unsubscribe RFERL-L Current and Back Issues Back issues of RFE/RL Newsline and the OMRI Daily Digest are online at: http://www.rferl.org/newsline/search/ Listen to news for 13 countries RFE/RL programs for countries in the Caucasus, Central Asia, Russia and the South Slavic region are online daily at RFE/RL's 24-Hour LIVE Broadcast Studio. http://www.rferl.org/realaudio/index.html Reprint Policy To receive reprint permission, please contact Paul Goble, Publisher Email: GobleP@rferl.org Phone: 202-457-6947 Fax: 202-457-6992 Postal Address: RFE/RL, 1201 Connecticut Ave., NW Washington, DC 20036 USA RFE/RL Newsline Staff: * Paul Goble, Publisher, GobleP@rferl.org * Liz Fuller, Editor, CarlsonE@rferl.org * Patrick Moore, Deputy Editor, MooreP@rferl.org * Laurie Belin, BelinL@rferl.org * Bruce Pannier, PannierB@rferl.org * Michael Shafir, ShafirM@rferl.org * Jan Cleave, CleaveJ@rferl.org Freelance And Occasional Contributors * Fabian Schmidt * Matyas Szabo * Jeremy Bransten * Jolyon Naegele * Anthony Wesolowsky RFE/RL Newsline Fax: (420-2) 2112-3630
write to us
with your comments and suggestions.