|Our main business is not to see what lies dimly at a distance, but to do what lies clearly at hand. - Thomas Carlyle|
RFE/RL NEWSLINE Vol 2, No. 25, Part II, 6 February 1998
___________________________________________________________ RFE/RL NEWSLINE Vol 2, No. 25, Part II, 6 February 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 xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx Headlines, Part II * CRIMEAN DEPUTY PREMIER SERIOUSLY INJURED IN EXPLOSION * HUNGARIAN COALITION DIVIDED OVER GABCIKOVO-NAGYMAROS COMPROMISE * ROMANIA'S COALITION PARTNERS SIGN PROTOCOL xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx EAST-CENTRAL EUROPE CRIMEAN DEPUTY PREMIER SERIOUSLY INJURED IN EXPLOSION. Aleksandr Safontsev, the first deputy prime minister of Crimea, and his bodyguard were seriously injured when a bomb exploded near their car, ITAR-TASS reported on 6 February. The incident occurred in Tavriya, near Simferopol, and followed a special session of the Crimean Supreme Soviet to discuss the situation in Yalta, the scene of an ongoing power struggle (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 5 February 1998). Safontsev is responsible for industry, trade, and energy. PB UKRAINIAN PARLIAMENT APPROVES BROADCASTING LAW. Lawmakers have again passed a broadcasting law that allows foreign-funded television stations to air campaign advertisements. President Leonid Kuchma previously vetoed the law because it prohibits any network that is even partially funded by a foreign company from broadcasting political advertisements. He argued that such a law would have kept several nationwide television networks from airing campaign advertisements. The legislation bans foreigners from holding top-level jobs in television or radio stations in Ukraine. PB UKRAINIAN PRIME MINISTER IN MINSK. Valery Pustovoitenko held talks with Belarusian President Alyaksandr Lukashenka in Minsk on 5 February, ITAR-TASS reported. Lukashenka said that Belarus is ready to "strengthen relations with Ukraine" and that he hopes the visit would help solve bilateral problems. He added that the visit should lead to an increase in trade between the two countries, which he said was too low. Pustovoitenko said his country wants to expand dialogue with Minsk. Pustovoitenko is also scheduled to meet with Prime Minister Sergei Ling and visit several industrial sites. PB BELARUSIAN AMBASSADOR RECALLED FROM WARSAW. Viktor Bursky has been recalled for consultations after Minsk accused Poland of interfering in Belarus's internal affairs. Belarusian Foreign Minister Ivan Antonovich said the recall is in response to a meeting of Belarusian opposition leaders in the Polish town of Bialystok and a seminar for opposition newspaper chiefs in Warsaw last weekend (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 2 February 1998). He also cited the border restrictions on Belarusians recently imposed by Warsaw. An official in the Polish Prime Minister's office said he is surprised that Minsk regards "independent civil initiatives as interference in its internal matters." Polish Foreign Ministry spokesman Pawel Dobrowolski said the ministry was not involved in organizing the seminar and was surprised by the decision to recall Bursky. PB ESTONIAN COURT RULES LANGUAGE LAW CHANGES UNCONSTITUTIONAL. The Supreme Court has ruled that amendments to the language law that were adopted by the parliament last fall are unconstitutional, ETA reported on 5 February. President Lennart Meri had turned to the court in December after twice refusing to promulgate the amended law. According to the president, the legislation would upset the constitutional balance of powers since it would allow the government to evaluate and determine the level of proficiency of parliamentary deputies and local government officials in the Estonian language. JC RUSSIA ACCUSES ESTONIA OF 'COLONIAL' ATTITUDE. Russian Foreign Ministry spokesman Gennadii Tarasov on 5 February said that the main obstacle to Estonia's entry to the EU is the county's "colonial" attitude toward its ethnic minorities, ETA reported, citing RIA Novosti. Tarasov argued that Tallinn is unwilling to "find a civilized solution to the human rights problems" of all those living in Estonia. He added that Tallinn's assertions of Russian opposition to Estonian EU membership are "groundless." Tarasov was responding to an interview that Estonian Foreign Minister Toomas Hendrik Ilves gave to the Italian daily "Corriere della Sera" in which, according to Tarasov, Ilves maintained that Russia is opposed to the Baltics' joining the EU. JC RUSSIAN OFFICIAL SAYS KRASTS NOT INVITED TO MOSCOW. Russian government spokesman Igor Shabdurasulov has denied that Latvian Prime Minister Guntars Krasts was invited to Moscow (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 5 February 1998), BNS and Interfax reported. Shabdurasulov said Krasts has not received such an invitation either from Russian Premier Viktor Chernomyrdin or through diplomatic channels. But Maris Riekstins, secretary of state at the Latvian Foreign Ministry, who was present during the recent talks in Riga between Chernomyrdin and Latvian President Guntis Ulmanis, stressed that Chernomyrdin's invitation to Krasts was "unequivocal." Riekstins added that "we believe everything said at such a level should be taken seriously." JC LITHUANIA WANTS EXPANDED ECONOMIC TIES WITH RUSSIA. Prime Minister Gediminas Vagnorius on 5 February called for strengthening Lithuanian-Russian economic relations. Vagnorius said that Lithuania is interested in signing a bilateral agreement on trade liberalization, above all with Kaliningrad Oblast. But to reach such an agreement, Vagnorius commented, there is a need for "mutual willingness." The prime minister noted that Lithuanian companies seeking to promote economic cooperation with Kaliningrad face "many obstacles and superficial barriers" there. JC POLAND AGREES TO AUSCHWITZ PRESERVATION PLAN. Polish and Jewish leaders on 5 February agreed to sign a plan on developing and preserving the Auschwitz and Birkenau concentration camps, news agencies reported. Miles Lerman, the chairman of the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Council, called the agreement a "very important moment" for Polish-Jewish relations. Some 1.5 million people, mostly Jews, died at the two camps from 1940-1945. The sites are visited by some 5 million people a year. PB UPROAR IN CZECH PARLIAMENT OVER GERMAN-CZECH COUNCIL. Czech deputies responded angrily to the announcement on 5 February that Germany has nominated the leader of the organization of expelled Sudeten Germans as a member of the coordination council set up to study Czech-German relations, CTK reported. Franz Neubauer, head of the Sudetens' Expellee Associations, was included on the list of the councils' members exchanged by the Foreign Ministers Klaus Kinkel and Jaroslav Sedivy in Bonn the same day. The session had to be interrupted to restore order. The main opposition party, the Social Democrats (CSSD), said it will submit a motion to debate the issue in the Chamber of Deputies on 6 February. CSSD leader Milos Zeman said Neubauer's presence in the council was "incomprehensible" since he had "from the very beginning" been opposed to the Czech-German reconciliation declaration signed last year. MS KOVAC JR. AGREES TO EXTRADITION. Michal Kovac Jr., the son of the Slovak president, who was arrested at a Czech-German crossing point on 4 February, told Czech investigators in Plzen that he agrees to being extradited to Germany, CTK reported. The Plzen regional court has asked the Munich Prosecutor's Office to send an official extradition request. As soon as the request arrives, the court will pass it on to Justice Minister Vlasta Parkanova, who will then decide on the case (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 5 February 1998). MS HUNGARIAN COALITION DIVIDED OVER GABCIKOVO-NAGYMAROS COMPROMISE. The Alliance of Free Democrats (ZSDZS), the junior coalition partner in the Hungarian government, is opposed to the Socialist Party's proposal for solving the Gabcikovo-Nagymaros dispute with Slovakia, Hungarian media reported on 5 February. The same day, the Socialist majority in the cabinet approved the principles of an agreement whereby the Hungarian side would build a dam, either at the original site at Nagymaros or at Pilismarot, and the two countries would drop compensation claims against each other. Government spokesman Elemer Kiss said the costs of building either site would probably have to be met by Hungary alone. Studies show that building a dam at Nagymaros would cost $600 million and at Pilismarot some $1 billion. Interior Minister Gabor Kuncze of the ZSDZS has requested that the coalition's Coordination Council meet to debate the issue. MS EU SETS GOALS FOR APPLICANTS. The European Commission decided in Brussels on 4 February on a list of goals that each of the 10 applicants must meet by the end of 1998 and in the longer term if they are to stay on track for EU membership. The detailed plans, called "accession partnerships," are specifically tailored to each country. The commission asked Poland to reduce its external debt this year and implement a new plan to restructure its steel industry. Estonia and Latvia are told to make it easier for their Russian-speakers to become citizens. The Czech Republic will have to monitor banking, securities, and the insurance business more closely. Slovakia, which is not in the first group of countries tentatively slated for EU membership, is told to hold free and fair presidential, legislative, and local elections in 1998 and to adopt laws guaranteeing use of minority languages. PM SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE EU CALLS FOR SERBIAN-ALBANIAN DIALOGUE. British Junior Foreign Minister Tony Lloyd said in Tirana on 5 February that Serbs and Kosovo Albanians "need to move toward greater autonomy for the Albanians in Kosovo and the recognition that neither separatism nor violence offers any solution to the Kosovo Albanians." He added that the EU, whose presidency the UK currently holds, "will condemn violence from any part and [stress] that separatism is not on the agenda of the international community." Lloyd urged the Serbian authorities to implement the 1996 agreement to reintroduce Albanian-language education. He also called for direct talks between Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic and Kosovo shadow-state President Ibrahim Rugova. The Kosovars reject bilateral talks and want internationally mediated negotiations or a Dayton-style conference. Lloyd also noted that the EU is considering setting up an office in Pristina. PM HAS ALBANIAN POLICY TOWARD KOSOVO HARDENED? Albanian Foreign Ministry officials reassured Lloyd that Albania will work to restore calm if an armed conflict breaks out in Kosovo, "Gazeta Shqiptare" reported. Those assurances followed a statement earlier this week by Foreign Minister Paskal Milo that Albanians everywhere will react "as one nation" should war erupt in Kosovo. The previous government of President Sali Berisha often used that formulation to indicate that Albania would respond militarily if Serbia launched a campaign of "ethnic cleansing" against the Kosovars. The current Socialist-led government has in recent months distanced itself from Berisha's pro-Kosovar policy and sought better ties to Belgrade. Elsewhere, spokesmen for the Defense Ministry denied a report in "Koha Jone" of 3 February that the military are concentrating artillery and armor in the Kukes area, near Kosovo. FS SERBIA STOPS KOSOVO MAIL DELIVERY. Officials of the Kosovo branch of the Yugoslav Post in Pristina earlier this week decided to stop mail deliveries to some 20 mainly ethnic Albanian villages in the Srbica and Glogovac areas, BETA news agency reported from Kosovska Mitrovica on 5 February. The officials cited security concerns as the reason for that decision. It is unclear whether the ruling has come into effect. The villages affected are located in an area where the clandestine Kosovo Liberation Army is particularly strong. PM MIXED RESULTS IN YUGOSLAV-SLOVENIAN TALKS. Mihailo Milojevic, the president of the Yugoslav Chamber of Commerce, told his visiting Slovenian counterpart, Jozko Cuk, in Belgrade on 5 February that Ljubljana must change its political stance toward Belgrade if economic relations are to improve. Cuk suggested that an improvement in economic ties could lead to a warming of the political climate. He also noted that trade between Slovenia on the one hand and Serbia and Montenegro on the other totaled $5 billion in 1990 but only $138 million last year. Milosevic's Yugoslavia claims to be the sole legal successor to the former Yugoslavia and hence entitled to all its properties and assets. Slovenia and the other former Yugoslav republics demand that the properties and assets be divided among the successor states. PM PLAVSIC ADVISER WARNS AGAINST YUGOSLAV DINAR. Rajko Tomas, an adviser to Republika Srpska President Biljana Plavsic, said in Banja Luka on 5 February that Bosnian Serbs should have confidence in the new Bosnian joint currency, the convertible mark, which is pegged to the German currency at one-to-one. Tomas added that the convertible mark will shield Bosnian Serbs from the inflationary affects stemming from the ongoing fall of the Yugoslav dinar, which is the most widely used currency in the Republika Srpska. He said that the "advantage of the convertible mark is the advantage of stable money.... Therefore, the convertible mark should provide for stable development of the Republika Srpska and Bosnia-Herzegovina in general." Tomas also commented that the Yugoslav dinar is "just printed money without backing." PM KLEIN URGES CHANGE OF BOSNIAN PASSPORT DESIGN. Jacques Klein, a deputy to the intentional community's Carlos Westendorp, said in Sarajevo on 5 February that the joint passports, which the parliament approved on 15 December 1997, should be modified to remove the reference on the cover as to which of the two entities the bearer comes from. Klein stated that removing the words "Republika Srpska" or "Federation of Bosnia-Herzegovina" would reduce the risk of the bearer being subjected to harassment by nationalists from the other entity. He argued that the principle of not including the name of the entity of origin was successful in the case of the design of the new license plates and that it should prove successful with the passports as well. PM KARADZIC ARREST WARRANT STILL VALID. A spokesman for the Hague-based International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia said in Sarajevo on 5 February that the court "expects that if [indicted war criminal Radovan Karadzic] travels outside the Republika Srpska, he will be immediately arrested and transferred to The Hague." The spokesman added that the court "would like to put on record that there is an outstanding international arrest warrant for Karadzic." Reports appear from time to time in the former Yugoslav and international media that Karadzic has left Bosnian Serb territory for destinations that have included Montenegro, Slovenia, Hungary, Greece, and Russia. The Russian Foreign Ministry recently denied Belgrade press reports that Karadzic has gone into exile in Russia. PM BRCKO TALKS BEGIN. U.S. negotiator Roberts Owen opened talks in Vienna on 5 February to decide the status of the north Bosnian town of Brcko and surrounding villages. The deadline for a decision, which has been postponed before, is 15 March. The Brcko question was the only one left open in the 1995 Dayton agreement. The Serbs claim that town and surrounding area because they provide a land link between the two halves of the Republika Srpska. The Muslims and Croats argue that they together constituted the majority in the town before the war and that to deny them Brcko would be to endorse the results of "ethnic cleansing." PM SLOVENIA, ITALY SETTLE PROPERTY DISPUTE. The Slovenian Foreign Ministry issued a statement in Ljubljana on 5 February confirming an earlier statement by visiting Italian Foreign Minister Lamberto Dini that Italy will accept $62 million from Slovenia to compensate Italian citizens who fled Slovenia at the end of World War Two for their property losses (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 5 February 1998). PM ROMANIA'S COALITION PARTNERS SIGN PROTOCOL. Members of the coalition signed the new government protocol on 5 February following lengthy negotiations, Radio Bucharest reported. Coalition leaders have suggested that the protocol is generally viewed as a temporary arrangement and that a new government is likely to be set up within the next few months. The Democrats have stressed that they will continue to seek the replacement of the prime minister. They undertook to back those laws that "promote reforms" and the measures that the government agreed on before their withdrawal from the executive. However, there is no mention in the protocol of a pledge to refrain from backing or initiating no-confidence motions in the government. The 11 Democratic deputy ministers officially resigned on 5 February, but Democratic prefects remain in office. MS VAN DER STOEL IN ROMANIA. European Commissioner on National Minorities Max van der Stoel on 4 February met with George Pruteanu and Anghel Stanciu, the chairmen of the bicameral parliament's education commissions, both of whom are opposed to amendments to the 1995 education law proposed by the government and supported by the Democratic Federation of Romania (HDFR). Last December, the Senate passed a version of the amended law that failed to meet the Hungarians' demands. Pruteanu said Van der Stoel told him that under international law, Romania is not obliged to set up universities teaching in national minority languages. In related news, Democratic Convention Chairman Ion Diaconescu said on 4 February that the convention will respect its promises to the HDFR, including those on the education law. MS TRANSDNIESTER SUBMITS DRAFT DECLARATION ON STATEHOOD. At a 5 February meeting of experts from the two conflicting sides in the Transdniester conflict, the separatists submitted a draft "Declaration on Transdniester Statehood." Anatol Taranu, the head of the Moldovan delegation, has rejected the draft, saying that "it can be seen with the naked eye that the document...contradicts the spirit of the 8 May 1997 memorandum on normalization of relations." He added that the separatists are "counting on concessions" as they try to exploit the election campaign in Moldova. He emphasized that all issues between Tiraspol and Chisinau must be settled "with full respect for the sovereignty, independence, and territorial integrity of the Republic of Moldova." Chief Tiraspol negotiator Vladimir Garbuzov argued that the declaration is "within the spirit of the memorandum." Like Taranu, he called for negotiations to continue. MS MOLDOVAN PARLIAMENT DEBATES BILL ON NATIONAL PROPERTIES REGISTER. Deputies on 5 February approved in the first reading a bill on creating a national properties register. Last November, they had rejected a similar bill proposed by the government, prompting the World Bank to postpone a $16 million loan to finance setting up the register, RFE/RL's Chisinau bureau reported. Both the World Bank and the IMF have made the creation of the register a condition for extending loans to Moldova. Also on 5 February, David Owen, IMF deputy director for Southeastern Europe told President Petru Lucinschi that while Moldova has succeeded in reducing inflation and stopping economic decline, it needs to strengthen financial discipline and control more strictly the implementation of the budget law. The fourth installment of a $185 million loan approved by the IMF last year has been postponed pending changes to the 1998 budget. MS xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx Copyright (c) 1998 RFE/RL, Inc. 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