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RFE/RL NEWSLINE Vol. 2, No. 12, Part II, 20 January 1998
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 xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx Headlines, Part II * CZECH PREMIER THREATENS TO QUIT * DODIK PLEDGES "TOTAL CONTROL" IN REPUBLIKA SRPSKA * VUJANOVIC PROPOSED AS MONTENEGRIN PREMIER End Note FROM THE UNTHINKABLE TO THE INEVITABLE xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx EAST-CENTRAL EUROPE UKRAINIAN LEFTIST BLOC TO EMPHASIZE SOCIAL ISSUES. Parliamentary speaker Oleksandr Moroz said in Kyiv on 19 January that his leftist bloc will base its election campaign on alleviating wage arrears and other social problems, Reuters reported. Parliamentary elections are to be held on 29 March. Moroz's socialist party is grouped with the Communist and agrarian parties in the assembly, which have routinely resisted reform legislation. "The fate of collective farming is at stake," he said, pledging to fight government plans to allow the lease and sale of land. Moroz's bloc controls 170 of the 450 seats in the parliament. PB UKRAINIAN PREMIER ON ECONOMY. Valeriy Pustovoitenko said in Kyiv on 19 January that the government has outlined programs to stabilize the economy in 1998, dpa reported. Pustovoitenko said that although GDP sank 1.8 percent in 1997, it will increase by about 0.5 percent this year. He also said that unpaid salary debts were reduced by one-third and now total some $470 million. This contradicts end-of-year figures released by the central bank showing that some $2.6 billion is still owed to workers. PB ACCUSED JOURNALISTS WANT CHARGES FILED AGAINST LUKASHENKA. During the ongoing trial of Russian Public Television (ORT) journalist Pavel Sheremet and his cameraman Dmitriy Zavadskiy, defense lawyers told the court on 19 January that they want Belarusian President Alyaksandr Lukashenka to be charged with interfering in the verdict of a trial, Interfax reported. The statement claims that Lukashenka said before the trial that "in time we will be able to call Sheremet simply a criminal." The attorneys say that comment violates Article 172 of the criminal code, which covers "interference into a verdict on the criminal case by abuse of office." The same day, Sheremet gave testimony in court proclaiming his innocence and asking for the case to be closed. PB NEWSPAPER SAYS RUSSIA STILL CLAIMS USSR DID NOT OCCUPY BALTICS. According to the Estonian daily "Postimees," Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Aleksandr Avdeev has sent an official note to the Russian State Duma arguing that the Soviet Union did not forcefully annex the Baltic States, BNS and ETA reported on 19 January. Avdeev's 8 January note was reportedly in response to Duma deputy speaker Sergei Baburin's question as to whether Russian Ambassador to Estonia Aleksi Glukhov had admitted the 1940 Soviet occupation of the Baltics in an interview with an Estonian magazine. Avdeev denied that Glukhov had made such an admission, stressing that the ministry's official viewpoint is that Soviet troops were stationed in the Baltics in keeping with international accords and with the agreement of the three countries' leaderships. The "Postimees" report also claims that Moscow argues that "threatening with force" was banned only after the UN statutes were adopted. JC TALBOTT URGES MOSCOW TO VIEW BALTICS IN 'HANSEATIC TERMS.' At the start of his tour of the Nordic countries, Deputy U.S. Secretary of State Strobe Talbott said in Oslo on 19 January that the partnership charter between the U.S. and the Baltic States shows Washington is "dead serious" about keeping the door to NATO open for those three countries, BNS and Reuters reported. Noting that "Russia doesn't like it, thinks it's a mistake," Talbott urged Moscow to promote ties in northern Europe by reviving the concept of the Hanseatic League (which from the 13th to 15th century was a major economic force uniting some 100 mostly German towns). He argued that Russia should view the Baltics in "Hanseatic terms," that is, "not as an invasion route inward but as a gateway outward." JC LITHUANIAN PRESIDENT DOES NOT RULE OUT CHARTER WITH RUSSIA. Algirdas Brazauskas told Interfax on 19 January that he does not rule out the possibility that Lithuania and Russia will conclude a document similar to the partnership charter between the U.S. and Baltic States. Speaking at Vilnius airport on his return from Washington, Brazauskas commented that "there is no limit to perfecting relations." He recalled President Boris Yeltsin's proposals last fall on strengthening neighborly relations with the Baltic States and building mutual confidence, which, Brazauskas said, were a "positive step." JC NATO CONCERNED ABOUT POLISH MILITARY. The daily "Rzeczpospolita" reported on 19 January that the Atlantic alliance is concerned about the state of Poland's defense forces. Citing a report from NATO headquarters in Mons, Belgium, the newspaper said the Polish army is equipped to defend only against a land-based attack and would add little to NATO's strength in its early years of membership. The report added that the air force is poorly trained and lacks modern equipment, while the Polish navy could not be deployed much beyond the Baltic Sea. It also criticized the planned increases in defense spending as too low. The NATO document is reported to be even more critical of the Czech and Hungarian militaries. PB CZECH PREMIER THREATENS TO QUIT. Premier Josef Tosovsky on 19 January threatened to resign, saying after a meeting of parliamentary party leaders that he is "fairly disappointed" by the attitude of "some parties." Alluding to the Civic Democratic Party of former Premier Vaclav Klaus, Tosovsky said at a press conference that anyone following events in the country knows whom he has in mind, CTK reported. Klaus, meanwhile, said that holding new elections through the mechanism envisaged by the government-- namely, through the rejection by the legislature of the law on the sale of state-owned land--was "problematic." Milos Zeman, the chairman of the Social Democrats, said he will encourage his party to support Tosovsky's cabinet, but that decision will be taken at a meeting of the party's Executive Committee on 24 January. MS HAVEL'S POPULARITY GROWS. A public opinion poll conducted by the STEM Institute on the eve of the 20 January presidential elections shows support for the incumbent, Vaclav Havel, at 70 percent, up four percentage points over November 1997, CTK reported. The president of the Czech Republic is elected not by popular vote but by the parliament. In other news, NATO Supreme Allied Deputy Commander in Europe Jeremy Mackenzie said after a meeting with Defense Minister Michal Lobkowicz that he considers the Czech army's preparation for NATO entry to be "in order." Lobkowicz said that it would be a "very good and a very important signal" if the parliament ratifies the Czech Republic's adherence to NATO before early elections. He is the second minister in the Tosovsky cabinet to take that line, after Foreign Minister Jaroslav Sedivy. MS HUNGARIAN PREMIER MEETS TONY BLAIR. British Prime Minister Tony Blair told his visiting Hungarian counterpart, Gyula Horn, on 19 January that the EU will begin accession talks with the six candidate countries on 30 March, Hungarian media reported. Horn proposed that the "principle of differentiation" be applied to the six countries invited to begin negotiations. At a joint session of the British parliament's Foreign Affairs and Defense committee, Horn stressed the importance of NATO accession. The chairmen of both committees said there are no obstacles to the ratification of the accession protocols. MSZ SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE DODIK PLEDGES "TOTAL CONTROL" IN REPUBLIKA SRPSKA. Milorad Dodik, the new prime minister of the Republika Srpska, told his first cabinet meeting in Banja Luka on 19 January that he intends to make that city the capital of the Bosnian Serb entity (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 19 January 1998). Dodik added that Pale, the current capital and the power base of ultra-nationalists loyal to Radovan Karadzic, will remain the headquarters for Bosnian Serb officials participating in joint Bosnian institutions. The new government set a 48-hour deadline for outgoing Prime Minister Gojko Klickovic to formally transfer his powers and a similar 72-hour deadline for Klickovic's ministers. It also blocked the former government's access to state accounts "in order to prevent misuse of funds." Dodik added that he will review all decisions made by the outgoing government since 3 July 1997, when Republika Srpska President Biljana Plavsic dissolved the Pale- based parliament. PM KARADZIC BACKERS DEFIANT. The Steering Committee of Karadzic's Serbian Democratic Party (SDS), meeting in Pale on the night of 19-20 January, appealed to all SDS supporters to avoid violence in expressing their opposition to Dodik's election by the parliament on 17 January. The committee slammed Dodik's "phantom election," calling it "undemocratic, illegal, unconstitutional, and unpatriotic." In an apparent allusion to Dodik's having been elected by Muslims and Croats as well as by moderate Serbs, the committee said the ballot would lead to the reintegration of the Republika Srpska into a unitary Bosnian state and betray all that the Serbs had fought for during the war. It called on local government councils to "take a stand on the new political situation." PM BELGRADE HAILS DODIK GOVERNMENT. Yugoslav Prime Minister Radoje Kontic sent a message to Dodik on 19 January wishing the new premier and his government "every success" in promoting the "well-being of the Republika Srpska and all its citizens." In Washington, a State Department spokesman praised Dodik as a "moderate and principled" politician. The spokesman added that Dodik's election marks a "major step forward in the Dayton peace process." He noted that Dodik intends to fight corruption and raise the Bosnian Serbs' standard of living. In London, the EU presidency, currently held by Britain, issued a statement welcoming Dodik's election and expressing confidence that he intends to support the Dayton agreements. PM VUJANOVIC PROPOSED AS MONTENEGRIN PREMIER. Montenegrin President Milo Djukanovic on 19 January proposed Filip Vujanovic (43) to head the interim government until parliamentary elections take place in the spring (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 19 January 1998). The Belgrade-born lawyer has lived in Montenegro since 1981 and served first as justice minister and later as interior minister under then Prime Minister Djukanovic. Vujanovic is widely regarded as a staunch supporter of Djukanovic. The parliament must confirm the nomination. Also in Podgorica, the Interior Ministry announced on 19 January that it has arrested seven more individuals in recent days in connection with the violence leading up to Djukanovic's inauguration on 15 January, an RFE/RL correspondent reported from the Montenegrin capital. PM MILOSEVIC, TUDJMAN MAKE PLEDGE ON MISSING PERSONS. Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic promised former U.S. Senator Bob Dole in Belgrade on 19 January that the Belgrade authorities will make available files regarding some 400 people missing from Vukovar following the Serbian conquest of that Croatian town in 1991. Later on 19 January in Zagreb, Dole said that Croatian "President [Franjo] Tudjman offered complete support" to Dole's investigations to clarify the fate of persons missing since the war began. Dole added that "every [former Yugoslav] leader we talked to has promised his cooperation." PM CROATIAN SERB FACES HAGUE COURT. Slavko Dokmanovic went on trial in The Hague on 19 January for his alleged role in atrocities against Croatian civilians and wounded soldiers in Vukovar in 1991. Dokmanovic, who was installed as mayor of Vukovar following the Serbian conquest, is charged with overseeing the removal of some 200 people from the Vukovar hospital to nearby places where they were badly beaten and then killed. In related news, Croatian investigators on 19 January began digging up newly discovered mass graves where they expect to find the remains of at least 100 persons killed when the Yugoslav army entered border villages in 1991 and launched "ethnic cleansing operations." PM OIL EXPLORATION CONTRACTS FOR ALBANIA. Albanian officials signed a several oil exploration agreements in Tirana on 19 January with the U.S. firm Occidental and with a consortium led by the Austrian company OMV. Albania has long produced oil, but none of the foreign companies exploring for new fields in the past seven years has made a major find. The new agreements represent a major boost to the sluggish industry, Albanian officials said. PM ROMANIAN GOVERNMENT PRESENTS REFORM LEGISLATION STRATEGY. Government spokesman Eugen Serbanescu has announced that the executive will tie the 21 January vote of confidence in the parliament to a bill on the privatization of state-owned commercial enterprises (see "RFE/RL Newsline, 19 December 1997), RFE/RL's Bucharest bureau reported. Serbanescu also said that 10 other bills already submitted to the legislature and constituting a comprehensive privatization program will be debated at the extraordinary three-day session beginning on 21 January. The package includes draft laws on the statutes of the National Bank, the privatization of state-owned banks, the transformation of state-run monopolies into commercial companies, and local-government financing. He also announced that value-added tax is to be raised to 22 percent from the current 18 percent but only by 11 percent on staple foods. MS DEMOCRATIC PARTY NOT TO SUPPORT GOVERNMENT IN PARLIAMENT? Democratic Party chairman Petre Roman on 19 January said that President Emil Constantinescu's decision to convene the parliament in an emergency session is unconstitutional. He argued that the president can convene emergency sessions only in order to address a message to the parliament. That argument is disputed by government secretary Remus Opris. Bogdan Niculescu Duvaz, the Democratic Party minister in charge of relations with the parliament, said the cabinet members representing his party oppose discussion of the privatization law in the parliament on 21 January because the law has already been in effect since 24 December, when it was issued as a government regulation. But that claim is untenable since regulations must also be approved by the parliament. MS FORMER ROMANIAN DEFENSE MINISTER WINS FIRST ROUND IN COURT. The Supreme Court of Justice on 19 January returned the case of Victor Stanculescu to the Prosecutor-General's Office for re-examination, Romanian media reported. Stanculescu has been charged with embezzlement in connection with the import of high-tech telephones for the military in 1990 (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 11 November 1997). He argues that the prosecutor-general's investigation into his case was illegal since it was conducted without the approval of the parliament or the president, as required by the constitution in the absence of a law on ministerial responsibilities. MS LUCINSCHI ON UPCOMING PARLIAMENTARY ELECTIONS. President Petru Lucinschi on 17 January told a gathering of the pro-presidential "For a Prosperous and Democratic Moldova" movement in Chisinau that Moldova is likely to make no progress if a majority of forces "that conceive social development in terms of revolutions and political revenge" are returned to the parliament in the March elections, BASA-press reported. Lucinschi said the main task of the new parliament must be to "correct the imbalance of the constitutional system," referring to his demand that the parliamentary system be changed to a presidential one. MS FROM THE UNTHINKABLE TO THE INEVITABLE by Paul Goble Two developments many world leaders had long thought impossible--eventual Baltic membership in NATO and the transformation of that defense alliance into a collective security organization--increasingly appear not only likely but even inevitable. That movement from the unthinkable to the virtually inevitable has taken place as a result of the convergence of two very different patterns of political development: the West's tradition of and insistence on step-by-step change, and the East's experience with and expectations of sudden, dramatic shifts. Both of those patterns and their increasingly certain impact on NATO and Europe were very much in evidence on 16 January when U.S. President Bill Clinton, Estonian President Lennart Meri, Latvian President Guntis Ulmanis, and Lithuanian President Algirdas Brazauskas signed the U.S.-Baltic charter at a White House ceremony in Washington. In his speech, President Clinton stressed the U.S. commitment to ensuring that every country in Europe has the right to choose its own security arrangements, regardless of its geographic location, and to guaranteeing that the Baltic States would eventually be able to enter NATO. In his response, President Meri spoke for all three Baltic States when he repeated their desire to join the Western alliance as soon as possible and when he suggested that inclusion in NATO of those countries would be the next big test for the alliance. Because both Clinton and the charter itself largely repeated promises the U.S. and NATO have made in the past and because the Baltic States appeared once again to be unsuccessful supplicants, many observers in the U.S., Europe, and the Russian Federation have tended to dismiss the charter as either an element in American domestic politics or a "consolation prize" for the Balts. Such conclusions could not be more wrong, albeit for very different reasons than many of those celebrating the signing of the charter have offered so far. What was striking about both the signing ceremony and the charter itself was the extent to which both were broadly accepted as nothing out of the ordinary. As President Clinton noted at the start of his speech, the signing ceremony attracted an unusually large number of ambassadors, including Yulii Vorontsov, the ambassador of the Russian Federation, to mark what the U.S. leader called an historic and positive development for all concerned. And as the commentators who dismissed the charter themselves acknowledged, the document and the speeches given on 16 January seemed unimportant because virtually everything in them had been said before and was now more or less common ground. But that last observation is precisely the key: it is now common ground that eventually the Baltic states will get into NATO some day. And it is also common ground that the organization of which they are to become members will not be the NATO of the Cold War but a new regional security group that will cooperate with rather than contend against Russia. Neither of those ideas was common ground until recently. But because of the pattern of developments in Eastern Europe since 1989, the very acceptance of such ideas may lead to the inclusion of the Baltic States in NATO. Moreover, the transformation of that alliance may take place much faster than anyone had expected up to now. Even those in NATO who accept that the Baltic States will eventually join and that the alliance itself will change in the process have generally been reluctant to include the three countries on a short list for candidates for invitations in 1999. But it is a measure of just how fast things may now be moving that an unnamed senior U.S. State Department official explicitly rejected a media recent report in the Baltic states that NATO will not invite the three at that time. Along with the increasing willingness of the international community to accept as inevitable what had been seen as impossible, that rejection seems likely to encourage the three Baltic governments to push even harder toward their goal over the next 18 months in the hope that they will receive invitations in the next round of alliance expansion. A year ago, such an initiative would have seemed the most improbable of developments, just as five years ago few thought that Poland, Hungary, and the Czech Republic would be taken into the Western alliance and just as 10 years ago even fewer thought that the Soviet Union would disappear from the map. Now, in the aftermath of the signing of the U.S.-Baltic charter, those who thought Baltic membership in NATO was utopian may discover that it is going to take place far sooner than they had thought possible. xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx Copyright (c) 1998 RFE/RL, Inc. All rights reserved. xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx SUBSCRIBING: 1) To subscribe to RFERL-L, please send a message to firstname.lastname@example.org 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 email@example.com 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 Eastern Europe, 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-in-Chief, CarlsonE@rferl.org * Patrick Moore, Team Leader, 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 * Pete Baumgartner * Jeremy Bransten * Jolyon Naegele * Anthony Wesolowsky * Julia Guechakov RFE/RL Newsline Fax: (420-2) 2112-3630
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