|Men stumble over the truth from time to time, but most pick themselves up and hurry off as if nothing happened. - Sir Winston Churchill|
RFE/RL NEWSLINE Vol. 1, No. 168, Part II, 26 November 1997
Note to Readers: "RFE/RL Newsline" will not appear on Thursday, 27 November (a public holiday in the U.S.) or on Friday, 28 November. 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 * UKRAINE'S ECONOMIC PROBLEMS MOUNT * WESTENDORP WARNS OF NEW WAR * OSCE CRITICIZES BOSNIAN SERB VOTE xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx EAST-CENTRAL EUROPE UKRAINE'S ECONOMIC PROBLEMS MOUNT. President Kuchma said on 25 November that he is extremely worried about the stability of the country's currency, the hryvna, Interfax reported. In order to cope with Ukraine's economic problems, Kuchma has done a turnabout and now backs Russian participation in the operation of Ukrainian oil refineries, many of which have been working at significantly reduced capacity. And in another indication that Ukraine faces difficulties, ITAR-TASS reported on 25 November that 24 Ukrainian ships are now being held in ports around the world owing to non-payment of various fees. PG UKRAINIAN PRESIDENT CRITICIZES CRIMEAN PARLIAMENT. In a sharply worded letter, President Leonid Kuchma told the Crimean parliament that some of its recent actions--including a measure granting the Russian language primacy on the peninsula--were incorrect and "intentionally disruptive," Ukrainian media reported on 25 November. Kuchma urged the legislators to reverse those decisions themselves lest they be overturned by Kyiv. PG WARSAW MARCHERS PROTEST BELARUSIAN NEWSPAPER CLOSURE. A small group of demonstrators gathered in front of the Belarusian embassy in the Polish capital on 25 November to denounce Belarusian President Alyaksandr Lukashenka's decision to close the "Svaboda" newspaper, RFE/RL's Belarusian Service reported. The protest was organized by the Belarusian Popular Front, Solidarity, and other groups. In a related development, editors from five East European countries issued a joint statement denouncing Lukashenka's decision and arguing that now virtually "anything is possible" in Belarus, including a return to totalitarianism. PG POLISH COURT REVISITS JARUZELSKI CASE. A court in Gdansk on 24 November asked doctors to determine whether former Polish leader General Wojciech Jaruzelski, 74, and four of his associates are well enough to stand trial, PAP reported. The five are charged with organizing a bloody crackdown on a strike in 1970. PG RUSSIA'S SERGEEV SAYS BALTICS NEED NOT FEAR MOSCOW. Russian Defense Minister Igor Sergeev has reassured the Baltic States they have nothing to fear from Russia even if they have rejected President Boris Yeltsin's offer of security guarantees, BNS reported on 25 November. Speaking upon his arrival in Norway, where he was scheduled to meet with his Nordic counterparts, Sergeev said "Russia will never resort to force in solving problems with the Baltic States." He added that he cannot understand the Baltics' "lingering fear" of Russia, given that "the Russia of the present is not the same as the Russia of the past." Meanwhile in neighboring Sweden, Latvian President Guntis Ulmanis told the Swedish Foreign Policy Institute that Riga wants to see Russia involved in the "political development" of Europe, according to BNS. JC U.S.-BALTIC CHARTER TO BE SIGNED MID-JANUARY. Estonian Ambassador to the U.S. Kalev Stoicescu told VOA on 25 November that the U.S. and Baltic presidents will meet in Washington on 16 January to sign a charter setting down principles and values recognized by the four countries. The signing of the document, originally planned for December, was postponed after tensions arose between the U.S. and Iraq over UN weapons inspections. The charter is to be non-binding and will contain no security guarantees. JC WARS CRIMES SUSPECT DIES IN LITHUANIA. Antanas Mineikis, long suspected of war crimes during Lithuania's occupation by Nazi Germany, has died aged 80 in a Lithuanian retirement home, BNS reported on 25 November, citing "Respublika." Mineikis had recently suffered a stroke. In 1992, he was stripped of his U.S. citizenship and deported to Lithuania for concealing his activities in a Nazi-led execution squad. Lithuanian authorities launched an investigation into his past but later announced they were unable to gather enough evidence to indict him. JC HUNGARIAN SOCIALIST DEPUTY URGED TO RESIGN. A screening panel has urged Socialist parliamentary deputy Matyas Szuros to resign after it found he had access to secret service data during the communist era, Hungarian media reported on 26 November. The judges' ruling says that as a member of the Secretariat of the Socialist Workers Party's Central Committee, parliamentary speaker, and acting Hungarian president in 1989, Szuros received reports on internal security. According to the screening law, if he refuses to resign within 30 days, details of his past will be made public. In his capacity as then speaker of the parliament, Szuros had proclaimed the Republic of Hungary on 23 October 1989. MSZ HUNGARIAN PREMIER ON SITUATION OF ROMA. Addressing a conference on the situation of Hungary's Romani population, Gyula Horn said the country is "still far from seeing the position of Roma change substantially," Hungarian media reported on 26 November. Horn said it is unacceptable that social benefits should be the sole source of income for a family, and he called on Gypsies to exclude from their ranks those who want to live by crime. Labor Minister Peter Kiss asserted that affirmative action is needed to provide jobs for Roma. Similarly, Florian Farkas, the chairman of the National Romani Government, said the inequality between the majority population and the Romani minority can be done away with only if additional funds are allocated for Roma. MSZ SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE WESTENDORP WARNS OF NEW WAR. Carlos Westendorp, the international community's chief representative in Bosnia- Herzegovina, said in London on 25 November that war could return to the former Yugoslav republic if the peacekeepers' mandate is not extended beyond the June 1998 expiration date. Westendorp stated that "if [SFOR] leaves now, I am sure war, the killings, and ethnic cleansing will come back. It will take at least two to three more years before we no longer need the troops." PM OSCE CRITICIZES BOSNIAN SERB VOTE. Niels Helveg Petersen, the chairman of the Organization on Security and Cooperation in Europe, which supervised the 22-23 November Bosnian Serb parliamentary elections, said in Copenhagen on 25 November that the vote "fell far short of normal democratic standards." He added that "the political level of this vote was not very high." In Sarajevo, an OSCE spokesman said no official results will be published until all the votes are counted, which will be 10 December at the earliest. In Mostar, an OSCE spokesman denied that the delay in announcing the outcome will allow the results to be manipulated, an RFE/RL correspondent reported from Mostar. PM EU PLEDGES $7.5 MILLION FOR SARAJEVO BUILDINGS. A spokesman for the EU said in Sarajevo on 25 November that Brussels has allocated $7.5 million to rebuild Sarajevo's historical city hall and other important buildings destroyed or damaged during the Serbian siege from 1992-1995. Rebuilding the Technical High School and the Olympic stadium complex will also have priority, an RFE/RL correspondent reported from the Bosnian capital. PM MOSTAR CROATS BAN FRIENDSHIP RACE. Croatian authorities in Mostar on 25 November banned the Muslim-organized Bridges of Friendship 1997 marathon race from the Croatian half of the divided city. The Croatian police said that they could not guarantee the safety of the runners. UN police officials, however, called the Croatian decision "purely political." They added that the Croats had ample time to take sufficient security precautions. Meanwhile in nearby Serb-held Trebinje, a hand grenade exploded under a vehicle belonging to EU monitors. PM U.S. DEFENDS SOROS'S WORK IN CROATIA. A State Department spokesman said on 25 November that the Croatian government was wrong to take legal measures against George Soros's Open Society Institute (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 24 November 1997). The spokesman added that Washington "remains concerned about the Croatian government's discussion of draft legal measures and selective application of existing legal measures, including criminal prosecutions and taxation policies, to intimidate prominent opposition journalists and non-governmental organizations. We find unacceptable the public defamation in Croatia of George Soros and the Soros Foundation, which we believe is making a valuable contribution...to free speech and democratization." PM WAR BLAMED FOR RISE IN CROATIAN DOMESTIC VIOLENCE. Deputy Prime Minister Ljerka Mintas-Hodak said in Zagreb on 25 November that psychological and other problems stemming from the 1991- 1995 war are to blame for the recent growth in domestic violence. She added that instances of wife-beating have risen by 11 percent so far in 1997, compared with last year. She noted that many women do not report violence to the police or are unable to defend their rights in court because they lack the money to do so. Mintas-Hodak added that a center for battered women in Zagreb has looked after 850 women since it opened in 1990 but had to turn away another 2,000 for lack of space. PM YUGOSLAVIA BARS OWN CITIZENS FROM ENTRY. Several Serbian non-governmental organizations issued a statement on 25 November criticizing the Yugoslav authorities for holding some 50 Yugoslav citizens with valid documents at Belgrade airport for nearly one week and not allowing them to reenter the country. Most of the detained citizens are ethnic Albanians or Muslims who were returning from Germany, an RFE/RL correspondent reported from Belgrade. Albanians and Muslims returning to Yugoslavia often report harassment by the police and other authorities. PM ALBANIAN PARLIAMENTARY COMMITTEE WANTS KOSOVO RECOGNITION. The Albanian parliament's Foreign Relations Committee has asked the government to recognize the Tirana office of the self-proclaimed Republic of Kosovo as an embassy, "Shekulli" reported on 26 November. Committee Chairman Sabri Godo stressed that "Pristina and Tirana need to find a common position on the Kosovo question." The opposition and many Kosovars suspect that Prime Minister Fatos Nano made a deal with Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic at the Kosovars' expense during the recent Balkan summit on Crete (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 6 November 1997). On 24 November, Albanian opposition leader Sali Berisha charged Kosovar President Rexhep Meidani with treason after Meidani had called Milosevic's party "the lesser evil for Kosovo" in the 7 December Serbian elections. The opposition, for their part, regard Meidani's remarks as further evidence of a deal between Tirana and Belgrade. FS ALBANIAN COMMUNISTS WANT NEWSPAPER BACK. Spokesmen for the illegal communist Party of Labor of Albania (PPSH) said in Elbasan on 25 November that they will go to court to regain ownership of the former party daily "Zeri i Popullit," which the Socialists now publish, "Gazeta Shqiptare" reported. The PPSH was banned after the founding of the Socialist Party in 1991. Some die- hard communists were jailed under Berisha. The PPSH expects to be legalized soon and plans to reclaim some of its property. FS TIRANA STUDENTS END STRIKE. Secondary students in Tirana ended a strike on 25 November after the authorities agreed to raise the students' monthly allowance by $11 and to improve standards in dormitories. It is unclear whether students outside the capital have accepted the offer (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 25 November 1997). PM ROMANIAN SENATE SAYS ROMANIAN LANGUAGE MANDATORY. The Senate on 25 November agreed to change the education law in order to make mandatory the study of the Romanian language in all schools, regardless of the ethnic origins of the pupils, an RFE/RL correspondent reported from Bucharest. The legislation specifies that pupils must study Romanian because it is the official state language. The new measures also require all pupils to complete eight years of basic education and to remain in school until age 16. PM ROMANIA, BULGARIA, TURKEY TO COMBAT PKK. Following his one- day visit to Bucharest, Turkish President Suleyman Demirel said in Ankara on 25 November that Turkey, Romania, and Bulgaria will soon sign an agreement to fight organized crime and Kurdish separatists. The three countries' heads of state reached a basic agreement on the issue in Varna in early October. PM BULGARIA TO JOIN NATO IN SECOND ROUND? NATO Assistant Secretary-General Norman Ray said in Sofia on 25 November after meeting with Prime Minister Ivan Kostov that Bulgaria will find itself "in a very strong position" for NATO membership if it continues with its political and economic reforms. NATO has promised to consider admitting more new members from Eastern Europe in 1999. Ray noted that the Bulgarian arms industry is strong in communications, electronics, small arms, ammunition, and anti-tank and anti-aircraft missiles. He added, however, that Bulgaria needs to improve its marketing because its products are little known abroad. PM REGIONAL AFFAIRS QUADRILATERAL TALKS IN BAKU. The deputy foreign ministers of Georgia, Azerbaijan, Ukraine, and Moldova met in Baku on 25 November to discuss economic and security cooperation as well as participation in such regional projects as the TRASECA transport corridor, Russian and Azerbaijani agencies reported. Azerbaijani Foreign Minister Hasan Hasanov proposed that the four countries conclude an agreement on cooperation with NATO comparable to those Russia and Ukraine have signed with the alliance. He also argued that strengthening quadrilateral ties should take place at the same time as the four countries' integration into European structures. Azerbaijani President Heidar Aliev expressed his satisfaction at Moldova's recent accession to the informal Azerbaijan-Georgian- Ukraine grouping, stressing that "our union is not aimed against anyone." LF xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx Copyright (c) 1997 RFE/RL, Inc. 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