|In the effort to give good and comforting answers to the young questioners whom we love, we very often arrive at good and comforting answers for ourselves. - Ruth Goode|
RFE/RL NEWSLINE Vol. 1, No. 178, Part II, 12 December 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 xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx Headlines, Part II * KUCHMA WARNS OF "RED REVENGE" IN UKRAINE * MAJOR BALKAN HIGHWAY PROJECT LAUNCHED * IZETBEGOVIC CALLS FOR MUSLIM-WESTERN COOPERATION * End Note: SLOW PROGRESS ON NEW CONVENTIONAL ARMS TREATY xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx EAST-CENTRAL EUROPE KUCHMA WARNS OF 'RED REVENGE' IN UKRAINE. President Leonid Kuchma told an economic forum on 11 December that left-wing forces in the parliament, led by its speaker Aleksandr Moroz, "are longing for power, for the purpose of bringing back the socialist system to Ukraine," Itar- Tass reported. Kuchma said that he hoped the Ukrainian people would take this into consideration when they vote for a new parliament in March 1998. But despite his clashes with the parliament -- also on 11 December, the Verkhovna Rada again voted to fire Kuchma's privatization chief -- the Ukrainian president said that he would not dissolve the parliament in violation of the constitution. He said that he did not operate on the assumption that "no parliament equals no problems." PG UKRAINE, RUSSIA INCREASE SECURITY, ECONOMIC COOPERATION. The Ukrainian-Russian strategy group will seek to promote a new "hotline regime" between the presidents of the two countries, Interfax-Ukraine reported on 11 December. The group's Russian co-chairman, Yeltsin press spokesman Sergei Yastrzhembskii, said in Kyiv that its members must become "lobbyists in the positive sense of the word," defending Ukrainian interests in Moscow and Russian interests in Kyiv. Meanwhile, Ukrainian and Russian experts agreed to meet in the Ukrainian capital on 13 December to discuss cooperation in manufacturing An-70 airplanes. And Ukrainian officials said that they were almost finished with a draft for expanded economic cooperation with Russia. PG UKRAINIAN CITY 'NATIONALIZES' SOVIET WAR MONUMENT. The Lviv city council in western Ukraine has voted to change a monument erected in honor of Soviet troops who liberated the city from Nazi troops at the end of World War II into one commemorating "fighters for the freedom of Ukraine," including the OUN, UPA and other groups that fought against Soviet power there in the 1940s and 1950s, Itar-Tass reported on 11 December. PG LUKASHENKA: BELARUS NEED NOT COORDINATE REFORMS WITH RUSSIA. President Alyaksandr Lukashenka told Interfax on 11 December that his country and Russia could integrate even if the two remain far apart in terms of economic reforms. He suggested that Russia should consider synchronizing its reforms with Belarus rather than the other way around, noting that Belarus represented "an example of reforming without making the mistakes of Russia." And Lukashenka again rejected wholesale privatization: only inefficient firms should be privatized, he concluded. PG POLISH PARLIAMENT BANS SEX EDUCATION. In an indication that the new Polish parliament will undo many of the policies of its socialist predecessor, legislators voted on 11 December to ban sex education as a separate subject in state schools, PAP reported. The vote was along party lines with the government coalition voting for, and the ex-communist Social Democratic Party (SLD) voting against. Meanwhile, Poland's supreme court dismissed 21 challenges to the recent election results; it concluded that none of the offenses charged would have affected the outcomes of the races. PG POLAND BLOCKS EU MEAT. In a response to the European Union's ban on the importation of Polish meat products, the Polish authorities on 11 December blocked some 100 trucks carrying EU meat toward the post-Soviet states at the Swiecko crossing point, PAP reported. Polish officials said the trucks did not have the required veterinary transit permits. PG STANDARD & POOR'S RANKS ESTONIA HIGHEST IN POST-SOVIET STATES. Standard and Poor's, a leading international rating agency, on 11 December gave Estonia the highest credit rates among the post-Soviet states: BBB+ for foreign currency and A- for national currency, BNS reported. Latvia received a BBB rating and Lithuania a BBB- rating. Kazakhstan and Russia received the lower rating of BB-. The new ratings will reduce Estonia's international borrowing costs and make it an even more attractive place for foreign investment. PG ESTONIA, LATVIA COMPLETE BORDER DEMARCATION. On 8-9 December, a joint Estonian-Latvian commission completed the demarcation of the land border between the two countries, BNS reported on 11 December. PG SIX-MONTH CARETAKER CZECH GOVERNMENT TO BE PROPOSED. Christian Democratic Party (KDU-CSL) leader Josef Lux, who has been given the task of forming the government by President Vaclav Havel, on 11 December said he will propose to Havel to appoint a six-month caretaker administration and to call new elections in 1998. Lux told Czech Radio that the leaders of the other parties with whom he conducted talks expressed "political agreement" to have the next elections conducted in June, Reuters reported. A public opinion poll conducted by the private STEM institute shows that the opposition Social Democratic Party (CSSD) is backed by a plurality of voters (26.3 percent,) followed by outgoing premier Vaclav Klaus' Civic Democratic Party, which is backed by 20.3 percent. Lux's own KDU-CSL is supported by 13.6 percent and 5.1 percent back the Civic Democratic Alliance. Almost three quarters of the respondents (74 percent) said Klaus should leave political life, CTK reported. MS CZECH SOCIAL DEMOCRATS BACK NATO INTEGRATION. Addressing a conference on NATO integration on 11 December, CSSD leader Milos Zeman said his party fully supports the Czech Republic's integration into NATO and the European Union, an RFE/RL correspondent reported. He promised that if the CSSD comes to power, the country's foreign policy orientation will not change. Zeman said the CSSD wants accession to NATO to be submitted to a referendum because the issue is so important and deserves more public debate. He said he hoped the results of the referendum would show an even higher backing for joining NATO than the 85 percent support showed by the Hungarians. NATO special advisor for Central and Eastern Europe Chris Donnelly told the conference that the socialist system had destroyed the region's economies by military overspending and that NATO has no intention of making similar demands on its members. MS SUSPECT IN BOMB ATTACK ON PILIP ARRESTED. A 43- year-old man from Brno was arrested on 11 December on suspicion of involvement in the bomb attack on the Prague home of Finance Minister Ivan Pilip on 6 December. The man was charged with illegal weapons possession. He faces up to three years in prison if convicted, CTK reported. Citing "reliable sources," the agency says the suspect is a former employee of the communist secret police. He became assistant director of the town's transportation department after 1987. MS SLOVAK PREMIER CONSIDERS LEAVING POLITICS. Vladimir Meciar on 11 December said he was unsure whether he would run at the head of his Movement for Democratic Slovakia (HZDS) in elections scheduled for autumn 1988, or even if he would complete his current term in office, Reuters reported. Speaking in a political debate on Slovak state television after a month-long stay in the western Slovak spa of Piestany for unspecified health problems, Meciar said that if he does run in 1998 and loses the elections, he will retire from political life. He also said he would not consider being a presidential candidate when President Michal Kovac's ends his term in March 1998. MS SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE MAJOR BALKAN HIGHWAY PROJECT LAUNCHED. Representatives of the U.S. and Albanian governments signed an agreement in Tirana on 11 December that provides Albania with an initial grant of $10.3 million to build an east-west highway from Durres to Qafe Thane on the Macedonian border. Albania will improve an existing road and build a rail line by 2003, and then it will build a completely new highway by 2010. The U.S. also will provide $20 million to Macedonia and Bulgaria to extend the route to Varna on the Black Sea. Improved east-west traffic links among Albania, Macedonia, and Bulgaria will not only strengthen ties between the three states but reduce Macedonia's dependence on transportation routes across Greece or Serbia. Turkey is also a strong supporter of the project. FS and PM WORLD BANK GIVES $30 MILLION CREDIT TO ALBANIA. The World Bank issued a credit of $30 million on 10 December to support the reform of Albania's banking system, government and administration, "Koha Jone" reported. The credit is the first part of a $70 million package promised by the World Bank at an international donors' conference in October. The aim of the credit is to modernize the country's economic system and to fight poverty by reducing unemployment and improving social security. FS INTERNATIONAL HIGH REPRESENTATIVE FOR KOSOVO? Edita Tahiri, a member of the presidency of the Democratic League of Kosovo, the main Kosovar political organization, said in Pristina on 11 December that the international community should appoint a high representative for Kosovo on the model of the high representative for Bosnia. Tahiri added that the Yugoslav delegation's recent walkout at the Bonn conference on Bosnia showed that Belgrade is a destabilizing factor in the Balkans and it is not interested in solving the Kosovo question, an RFE/RL correspondent reported from Pristina. The Yugoslav and Bosnian Serb delegations left the Bonn meeting to protest the inclusion of references to Kosovo in the final declaration (see "RFE/RL Newsline, 10 and 11 December 1997). PM U.S. FIRM ON KOSOVO. A State Department spokesman said in Washington on 11 December that the Serbs' walkout could have the opposite effect on world public opinion from what the Serbs wanted. "What the walkout did was to highlight what continues to be an important issue on the agenda of the international community, namely, the serious problems in Kosovo. Belgrade's objections to including Kosovo in the communique... only reinforce our determination -- the United States' determination and commitment-- to press for real progress in Kosovo." PM SANDZAK MUSLIMS SAY HUMAN RIGHTS NOT INTERNAL AFFAIR. The federal Yugoslav government issued a statement in Belgrade on 11 December that praised the walkout. The statement stressed that Kosovo is an internal Yugoslav affair, an RFE/RL correspondent reported from the Serbian capital. Rasim Ljajic, the president of the Party of Democratic Action (SDA) of Sandzak, said in Novi Pazar, however, that human rights issues can never be the internal affair of any one country. He told the Belgrade daily "Danas" of 12 December that top British, German, and U.S. diplomats also have called attention to the human rights issue in Sandzak. Sandzak is the former Ottoman Sandzak of Novi Pazar and is now divided between Serbia and Montenegro. Muslims make up just more than half of its population and most of them feel close political and cultural affinity with the Muslims of Bosnia. Ljajic's SDA is a branch of the Bosnian party of Alija Izetbegovic. PM OSCE CALLS FOR KARADZIC, MLADIC ARREST. Robert Frowick, the head of the OSCE mission to Bosnia, said in Vienna on 11 December that indicted war criminals Radovan Karadzic and General Ratko Mladic should have been arrested and sent to The Hague long ago. Frowick added that the OSCE will need to maintain a presence in Bosnia for at least several years to come. Meanwhile in Pale, hard-line Serbian leader Momcilo Krajisnik played down the decision of the Bonn conference to expand the authority of Carlos Westendorp, the international community's high representative in Bosnia. Krajisnik also stated that the Dayton agreement is being implemented "very successfully." But in Banja Luka, Republika Srpska President Biljana Plavsic urged the Serbs to conduct policies "based on reality" and to "professionalize" their media in order to deny any grounds for foreign intervention in Bosnian Serb affairs. PM WESTENDORP HOPEFUL ON YUGOSLAV SUCCESSION TALKS. Westendorp told an RFE/RL correspondent in Brussels on 11 December that he hopes that the Bonn gathering will have a favorable impact on the ongoing talks in the Belgian capital about dividing the assets and obligations of the former Yugoslavia. Westendorp suggested that the former Yugoslav republics could begin by dividing up among themselves the Yugoslav hard currency reserves held in Swiss banks. Previous succession talks were hamstrung by Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic's insistence that his state is the sole legal successor to Tito's. The other republics demand a division of the assets, although they differ among themselves about how the division should take place. PM IZETBEGOVIC CALLS FOR MUSLIM-WESTERN COOPERATION. Bosnian Muslim leader Alija Izetbegovic told the closing session of the three-day summit of the Organization of the Islamic Conference in Tehran on 11 December that Muslims should work together with Western countries. He said that "Islam is the best, but we [Muslims] are not the best... The West is neither corrupted nor degenerate.... It is strong, well- educated and organized. Their schools are better than ours. Their cities are cleaner than ours... The level of respect for human rights in the West is higher and the care for the poor and less capable is better organized. The Westerners are usually responsible and accurate in their words... Instead of hating the West, let us... proclaim cooperation instead of confrontation." PM UN SLAMS MUSLIM SECRET POLICE. A UN police spokesman said in Sarajevo on 11 December that the Muslim- run intelligence organization known as AID is the spy-arm of the SDA and is not responsible to the Muslim-Croat federal government. He said that political parties cannot operate secret police operations, although governments certainly can. The Muslims claim that they need their own intelligence arm because the Croats can obtain sensitive information from Zagreb and the Serbs can get intelligence from Belgrade. PM BELGRADE CHALLENGES MONTENEGRIN PRESIDENTIAL VOTE. Yugoslav federal prosecutor Vukasin Jokanovic said in Belgrade on 11 December that the Montenegrin supreme court violated federal law when it ordered an updating of voter rolls before the October presidential elections won by Milosevic's opponents. Montenegrin President-elect Milo Djukanovic has warned Belgrade not to meddle in Montenegro's affairs. PM FORMER ROMANIAN PRESIDENT TESTIFIES IN COURT. Ion Iliescu on 11 December told a court in Bucharest that it was "preposterous" to claim that the miners who rampaged Bucharest and brought about the dismissal of the government headed by Petre Roman in September 1991 had been summoned by him, RFE/RL's Bucharest bureau reported. Iliescu testified at the trial of miners' leader Miron Cozma, accused of "undermining state authority." Cozma told the court earlier that Iliescu should be with him in the dock. Roman said the miners had arrived at the instigation of the former president. In other news, a court of justice on 10 December sentenced former Securitate boss Tudor Postelnicu and former Interior Minister Gheorghe Homostean to 18 years in prison for their role in the killing of hijackers and hostages in 1981, when they acted at the orders of communist leader Nicolae Ceausescu. MS IMF CHIEF NEGOTIATOR MEETS ROMANIAN PREMIER. Poul Thomsen on 11 December met with Prime Minister Victor Ciorbea and National Bank governor Mugur Isarescu, Romanian media report. They discussed the continuation of the reform program and agreed that reforms must be accelerated and inflation reduced. Thomsen said inflation was above the 30 percent agreed on with the government by the IMF and said it is necessary to trim the budget to reduce inflation. Details will be worked out at a meeting scheduled for January 1988. MS CHISINAU-TIRASPOL EXPERTS MEET. Experts representing Moldova and separatist Transdniester met in Chisinau on 11 December to continue discussions on elaborating a document outlining a "joint economic, social and judicial space," RFE/RL's Chisinau bureau reported. The experts also discussed the case of the Ilie Ilascu group, whose members are detained in the separatist region. The Transdniester experts said the document most likely to emerge from the meetings will be one of "intermediary nature." They said the document would have to include the agreements reached by President Petru Lucinschi and separatist leader Igor Smirnov, as well as "some last- minute proposals," such as that of "double citizenship" for Transdniestrians. Moldovan presidential advisor Anatol Taranu, cited by BASA-press, said that the conditions of detention of the Ilascu group "are deteriorating." MS BULGARIAN PRESIDENT POSTPONES RUSSIAN VISIT. Petar Stoyanov on 11 December told reporters in Sofia that his 18-20 December visit to Russia has been postponed due to President Boris Yeltsin's illness, BTA and Reuters reported. Stoyanov said he had spoken to Yeltsin in the morning and they agreed that the visit will take place in February or March 1998. At a joint press conference marking the end of the visit of Polish President Aleksander Kwasniewski, the two presidents told reporters that their countries' bids to join NATO are not prompted by fear of Russia and pledged to develop friendly ties with Moscow. MS SLOW PROGRESS ON NEW CONVENTIONAL ARMS TREATY by Roland Eggleston Negotiators in Vienna hope that a new treaty limiting the danger of an arms build-up in Europe can be achieved by the end of next year, although they warn considerable political will to reach agreement will be required on the part of some countries. The negotiators are revising the 1990 CFE treaty between NATO and the former Warsaw Pact, which placed limits on the number of tanks, artillery, armored cars, war planes, and battle helicopters located between the Atlantic and the Urals. The new treaty will replace the bloc-to-bloc ceilings imposed on both alliances with national and territorial ceilings. National ceilings place a limit on the size of each country's armed forces, while the territorial ceilings impose a limit on the overall number of military forces deployed in any single country. In most cases, the territorial ceilings will be higher than the national ones, but the actual limits are still being worked out. A senior negotiator told RFE/RL that the national and territorial ceilings on the number of tanks, artillery, and other weapons are among the most difficult issues to resolve. "They go to the heart of the security of individual states, many of which remain suspicious of each other" he said. "Each government wants to be certain that the treaty allows it enough forces to meet its legitimate defense requirements." Thirty countries are participating in the negotiations, including the U.S., Russia, and most of the states of Western, Central and Eastern Europe, including Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia, and Moldova. The neutral countries and Central Asian states, with the exception of Kazakhstan, are not involved. Gregory Govan, the chief U.S. negotiator, told RFE/RL that the talks are proceeding "slowly but methodically." He said one of the biggest political problems is Russia's attempts to impose conditions that would limit the effects of NATO enlargement. For example, Russia wants to restrict the degree to which the original 16 members of NATO can deploy forces on the territory of the alliance's new members, either permanently or temporarily. NATO believes fixed limits should be established only for ground forces, while Russia wants also to include fixed limits for warplanes and battle helicopters. NATO argues that including aircraft and helicopters is unrealistic. It is relatively easy for inspectors to determine whether ground forces are within the limits set by a treaty. But aircraft and helicopters can be flown in and out of a territory within minutes, making effective inspection virtually impossible. NATO diplomats say the alliance considers Russia's fears of a possible buildup of Western military power in countries near its borders to be exaggerated. However, it understands those fears and is trying to quell them. To this end, the U.S. has proposed the creation of a "zone of stability" in which the size of military forces would be limited. However, it insists that the zone include other countries as well as the new NATO members. Under the U.S. proposal--which has now been accepted by NATO as a whole--the "zone of stability" would include Hungary, Poland, the Czech Republic, Belarus, northern Ukraine, and Kaliningrad. The U.S. suggests that territorial limits in this zone would be the same as the present national limits, effectively preventing a build-up of foreign forces in any of those countries. The same conditions would apply until the next review of the treaty, scheduled for 2001. The U.S. further proposes that the treaty be reviewed every five years. Govan says that, in addition to political issues, there are many technical problems to be resolved. Among them is the system for checking that signatories are honoring the treaty. "One of the best features of the 1990 CFE treaty was its system of verification and transparency," he said. "Everyone agrees that it worked well and should be continued. The problem is how to maintain the same degree of assurance and confidence in a much more complicated treaty." According to Govan, the attitude of some countries is also a problem. "One group of countries at the talks has strong ideas on how a future treaty on conventional forces should look," he said. "There are other countries that don't have this outlook. Some have difficulties adjusting to a new kind of treaty that is not based on a bloc-to-bloc approach. Govan did not identify any countries but acknowledged that some NATO countries are among those nostalgic for the ease of decision-making under the old system. Originally, the new CFE treaty was expected to be ready by summer 1998, but few diplomats believe this timetable is realistic. Most now hope the negotiations can be completed by November 1998, allowing the new treaty to be signed in December by the heads of government attending a summit meeting of the Organization on Security and Cooperation in Europe. However, the signing ceremony is still many months and many problems away. The author writes regularly for RFE/RL. xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx Copyright (c) 1997 RFE/RL, Inc. 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