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RFE/RL NEWSLINE Vol 2, No. 33 , Part II, 18 February 1998
___________________________________________________________ RFE/RL NEWSLINE Vol 2, No. 33 , Part II, 18 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 SPECIAL REPORT: A quarter of Russia's labor force receives its wages late, in kind or not at all. This three-article series on the RFE/RL Web site examines why. Russia's Workers: Why They Go Without Wages http://www.rferl.org/nca/special/rulabor/index.html xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx Headlines, Part II * EBRD UNCERTAIN ABOUT LOAN FOR UKRAINIAN REACTORS * CROATIAN UNIONS DEFY GOVERNMENT * TEN THOUSAND AT ETHNIC ALBANIAN'S FUNERAL IN KOSOVO xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx EAST-CENTRAL EUROPE EBRD UNCERTAIN ABOUT LOAN FOR UKRAINIAN REACTORS. Charles Frank, the acting president of the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, said in Kyiv on 18 February that the EBRD is still unsure about lending money to Kyiv for the construction of nuclear reactors, ITAR-TASS reported. The new reactors would be built at the Rivno and Khmelnytsky nuclear power plants and would pave the way for the permanent shutdown of Chornobyl. Frank said that even if the $1.2 billion loan were granted, it would not be possible to construct the new reactors by 2000, the year by which the Ukrainian government has pledged to close down Chornobyl. Frank said the EBRD wants to ensure that the decision to build the two new reactors is cost-effective, that a safe design is used, and that the loan would be repaid. PB U.S. NEWSPAPER SAYS BELARUS, IRAN TO SIGN WEAPONS DEAL. Belarus is preparing a weapons deal whereby it would send tank engines and other spare parts to Iran, the "Washington Times" reported on 17 February. Citing CIA sources, the newspaper said Belarusian President Alyaksandr Lukashenka would sign the agreement during a trip to Iran scheduled for early next month. The spare parts would allow Iran to maintain its Soviet-built tanks. An Iranian-Belarusian economic commission met in Tehran earlier this month (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 4 February 1998). PB COMMITTEE CALLS FOR SUSPENSION OF LATVENERGO PRIVATIZATION. The parliamentary committee investigating the loss of 3 million lats (some $6 million) at the state energy utility Latvenergo is to submit a draft resolution calling for the privatization of the company to be suspended, BNS reported on 17 February. The committee also concluded that "political pressure" on the board of the Latvian Privatization Agency facilitated the illegal deal between Banka Baltija and an off-shore Liechtenstein company (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 22 January 1998). "The decision was made hastily and in violation of record-keeping violations at the agency," Andrejs Pantelejevs, the head of the committee, told reporters. At the time of the deal, the board was subordinated to former Prime Minister Andris Skele. JC ADAMKUS WANTS CABINET POSTS SLASHED. Lithuanian President-elect Valdas Adamkus has confirmed that he would like to see significant reductions in the size of the cabinet, BNS reported on 17 February. Following a meeting with Prime Minister Gediminas Vagnorius, Adamkus proposed abolishing three ministries initially and another two at a later date. Adamkus is to be sworn in next week, and the parliament is due to hold a vote of confidence in the cabinet on 3 March. Last month, the government requested that Constitutional Court rule on the transfer of powers following the inauguration of a new president (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 12 January 1998). JC POLISH PRESIDENT RE-NOMINATES CENTRAL BANK HEAD. Aleksander Kwasniewski has nominated Hanna Gronkiewicz-Waltz to continue her duties as central bank chief, an RFE/RL correspondent in Warsaw reported on 17 February. Known as the "Iron Lady of Polish finance," Gronkiewicz-Waltz was praised by Kwasniewski as having "special knowledge and talents." The parliament is expected to vote later this week whether to grant Gronkiewicz-Waltz a second six-year term in office. Gronkiewicz-Waltz was recently named the best national bank chief in Central Europe. PB HAVEL ASKS DEPUTY PREMIER TO POSTPONE RESIGNATION. President Vaclav Havel on 17 February asked Deputy Prime Minister and Environment Minister Jiri Skalicky not to resign until the minister has answered questions about controversial donations to his party, CTK reported. Skalicky asked to be allowed to consider Havel's request for one week. He spoke with journalists after visiting Havel in the hospital, where the president is to undergo surgery to an ulcer in his throat, Reuters reported. Earlier on 17 February, Prime Minister Josef Tosovsky had informed Havel of Skalicky's resignation, saying it is a "responsible political gesture." MS CZECH SKINHEADS CAUSE ROMANI WOMAN TO DROWN. A 26-year-old Romani woman was found dead after three skinheads pushed her into the Labe River in Vrchlabi, eastern Bohemia, on 15 February, CTK reported. A local police spokesman said the skinheads have been detained. MS SLOVAKIA, HUNGARY MAKE NO PROGRESS ON GABCIKOVO-NAGYMAROS. Julius Binder, deputy head of the Slovak delegation seeking to resolve the issue of the dam project on the River Danube, said on 17 February that his country's position on the project remains firm and is in accordance with the International Court of Justice ruling. Talking after another round of the bilateral discussions in Bratislava, Binder said Slovakia has no reason to make any concessions that would disadvantage the operation of the Cunovo dam, on the Slovak bank of the Danube. Hungarian government commissioner Janos Nemcsok admitted that the two sides remain far apart over the issue. He added that no agreement was reached on the water level at the Hungarian Dunakiliti reservoir, Hungarian media reported. MSZ HUNGARIAN PARLIAMENT APPROVES ROLE IN POSSIBLE ATTACK ON IRAQ. The parliament on 17 February approved the government's proposal that Hungary send a 50-member medical contingent to participate in a possible international operation against Iraq, Hungarian media reported. The resolution also allows countries taking part in such an operation to use Hungarian airspace and military airports. Hungary's participation would cost some 550 million forints ($2.6 million). Owing to the opposition of the Young Democrats and Independent Smallholders, the proposal to send a 200-member technical unit was dropped from the resolution. MSZ SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE CROATIAN UNIONS DEFY GOVERNMENT. Boris Kunst, the president of the United Labor Unions of Croatia, has said his group will hold a rally in Zagreb on 20 February to protest deteriorating social conditions. Several other unions and 11 political parties have endorsed the demonstration, which organizers expect will draw at least 50,000 participants, an RFE/RL correspondent reported from the Croatian capital on 17 February . The government the previous day had banned the rally for what the authorities called security reasons. In his latest remarks, Kunst said that security is not a valid reason to ban a demonstration in peace time. Meanwhile, a government spokesman charged that some unions have rejected a call by Prime Minister Zlatko Matesa for talks and that this refusal "reveals the real intentions" of the unions. PM VUKOVAR EX-COMMANDER WINS SETTLEMENT. The Croatian Defense Ministry on 16 February awarded $60,000 in damages to former Lieutenant-Colonel Mile Dedakovic, better known by his nom-de-guerre of Jastreb. The out-of-court settlement ends three years of litigation. After the fall of Vukovar in November 1991, the authorities accused Jastreb of deserting his post, collaborating with the Yugoslav army, and embezzlement. He was subsequently so badly beaten in a military prison that he is now an invalid. The authorities later dropped all charges against him. Jastreb, for his part, has repeatedly charged President Franjo Tudjman with refusing to send reinforcements to Vukovar and deliberately abandoning the town to the Serbs after a three-month siege. Many other former Croatian military personnel and civilians sympathize with Jastreb's views. PM TEN THOUSAND AT ETHNIC ALBANIAN'S FUNERAL IN KOSOVO. Some 10,000 people attended the burial on 17 February near Glogovac of an ethnic Albanian electrician whom Albanian spokesmen say was killed by police two days earlier (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 17 February 1998). Meanwhile in Klina, police officials told BETA that the clandestine Kosovo Liberation Army attacked a police station on the Klina-Srbica road the previous night. Spokesmen for an ethnic Albanian human rights group confirmed there had been gunfire in the area and that police reinforcements arrived soon afterward. PM MEIDANI CALLS FOR UN ROLE IN KOSOVO. Albanian President Rexhep Meidani said in Tirana on 17 February that the situation in Kosovo has become "very dangerous" and that it is imperative to prevent an outbreak of violence. He called on unspecified "European institutions" to increase diplomatic activity in the area and for the UN to set up a mission in Pristina, BETA reported. PM SFOR ISSUES NEW ORDERS TO BOSNIAN ARMIES. A spokesman for SFOR said in Sarajevo on 17 February that the federal and Bosnian Serb armies will have to reduce their respective arms depots by one-quarter in the near future to enable peacekeepers to monitor the weapons more effectively. He also pointed out that the two armies' military vehicles must display the new joint license plates by 1 May, an RFE/RL correspondent reported from the Bosnian capital. Meanwhile, Hanns Schumacher, a deputy to the international community's Carlos Westendorp, criticized federal officials for charging citizens up to more than 10 times the official price for the new license plates. PM WARNING STRIKE IN BOSNIA. Some 65,000 workers in the metallurgy industry staged a one-hour warning strike in several towns in the mainly Croatian and Muslim federation on 17 February. The workers demand that the federal government honor an agreement it reached with the unions at the end of last year. PM BOSNIAN CARDINAL BACKS ECUMENISM. Cardinal Vinko Puljic told a meeting of the Bosnian Bishops' conference in Mostar on 17 February that the Roman Catholic Church should "strengthen the spirit of ecumenism" in its relations with both the Serbian Orthodox Church and the Islamic Community. Puljic, who is the first cardinal in Bosnian history, also called for a concordat between Bosnia and the Vatican to regulate questions involving the return of Church property confiscated by the communists, building new religious buildings, and carrying out pastoral work. He also urged that all refugees be able to return to their former homes and enjoy full political, religious, and cultural freedom. Many Bosnian Croatian refugees come from centuries-old communities in central Bosnia now under Muslim or Serbian control. PM MACEDONIA RECEIVES WORLD BANK LOAN. The World Bank announced in Washington on 17 February that it will loan Macedonia $35 million to modernize six power plants. Those facilities produce 91 percent of the country's electricity. PM NEW ELECTION LAW FOR MONTENEGRO. Representatives of all political parties have expressed satisfaction with the election law that the parliament passed on 17 February, BETA reported. The legislature will have 78 members who are elected by proportional representation from among all parties receiving more than 3 percent of all ballots cast. The entire country will be treated as one election district. Five seats are reserved for members of the ethnic Albanian minority. PM MONTENEGRIN BORDER GUARDS SHOOT ALBANIANS. Montenegrin border guards shot and killed a 22-year-old Albanian on 17 February. The victim was on his way to work in the Montenegrin town of Tuzi when the guards fired at him from a patrol boat, "Koha Jone" reported. Four days earlier, two Albanians were injured when Montenegrin border police opened fire at them in the same area. FS ALBANIAN DEMOCRATS DETAINED PENDING TRIAL. A Tirana court on 17 February sent 11 supporters of Democratic Party legislator Azem Hajdari to pre-trial detention of between six to 15 days, "Rilindja Demokratike" reported. Three others remain under house arrest. All 14 people were allegedly involved in a recent armed incident with police at a road block in Milot (see "RFE/RL Newsline, 16 February 1998). They are charged with illegal possession of arms and interfering with the work of the police. A police spokesman said that machine guns and other weapons have been found in cars belong to Hajdari's supporters and near the scene of the incident, "Koha Jone" reported. Meanwhile, Hajdari, who claims the police wanted to kill him, has offered to relinquish his parliamentary immunity to facilitate an investigation into his role in the incident. FS BOMB ATTACK IN SHKODER. A bomb went off outside the Socialist Party headquarters in the northern city of Shkoder on 17 February, "Shekulli" reported. The bomb caused heavy damage, but nobody was injured. The previous day, two bombs destroyed a Socialist Party branch in the south (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 17 February 1998). And in Tirana on 17 February, police found a bomb inside the parliament building after receiving an anonymous telephone call. FS ROMANIAN DEFENSE MINISTER ON POSSIBLE MILITARY ACTION AGAINST IRAQ. In an interview with RFE/RL on 17 February, Constantin Dudu Ionescu said Romania has "at no point" considered sending combat troops to take part in possible military operations against Iraq. Ionescu said the Romanian army is "among the best prepared" for integration into NATO forces but "at this stage" is "not yet ready" for participation in operations such as those conducted in the Gulf in 1991. The same day, U.S. State Department spokesman James Rubin said the decision of Victor Ciorbea's cabinet demonstrated its "courage and leadership" MS ROMANIAN FINANCE MINISTER CONSIDERS RESIGNATION. Daniel Daianu told a meeting of the National Liberal Party caucus on 17 February that he is considering resigning as finance minister. Daianu said the country's ongoing political crisis makes it impossible to take the necessary decisions to promote economic reforms, adding that the 1998 budget has to be "changed every day" to meet new demands. He warned against the danger of the country's "Bulgarization" and said Romania is probably heading toward early elections. He also said he would not agree to be an "accomplice" in "complicating even further the country's economic situation and negotiations with the IMF," RFE/RL's Bucharest bureau reported. MS COMPROMISE OVER PARAMEDICS' DEMANDS IN OFFING. The leader of the Sanitas trade union federation said on 17 February that members of his union are willing to "compromise" over its demands by agreeing to a wage hike of 75 percent, instead of 100 percent. Negotiations with the government resumed on 17 February, and several proposals are being considered to find budget funds to finance the strikers' demands. The paramedics have been on a general strike since 12 February. Also under consideration is a special levy imposed on hospitalized smokers and alcohol consumers as a means to increase funds for the rapidly deteriorating health system, RFE/RL's Bucharest bureau reported. MS MOLDOVAN, TRANSDNIESTER LEADERS FAIL TO RESOLVE DIFFERENCES. President Petru Lucinschi and Transdniester separatist leader Igor Smirnov, meeting in Tiraspol on 17 February, failed to bridge their main political difference but reached agreement on how to resolve outstanding economic questions, Infotag reported. Lucinschi said Moldova cannot meet Tiraspol's demand that it be treated as an independent state, while Smirnov pointed to the Transdniester constitution, which, he noted, defines the region as such. Smirnov added that Tiraspol is "ready to take into consideration international practice" but only if the two sides conduct negotiations as "fully equal partners." He said the term "unified state," included in the 8 May memorandum, is interpreted in Tiraspol as meaning "two states that have decided to build one unified country." MS GAGAUZ-YERI ASSEMBLY APPROVES REFERENDUM. The Popular Assembly of the Gagauz-Yeri autonomous region has approved holding a referendum on a "basic law" for the region, the RFE/RL Chisinau bureau reported on 17 February. The plebiscite will take place at the same time as the Moldovan parliamentary elections on 22 March. Both Moldovan parliamentary chairman Dumitru Motpan and regional leader (Bashkir) Georgi Tabunshchik had asked the assembly to postpone the decision on the referendum, but the deputies argued that the costs of conducting a separate plebiscite would be much higher. MS xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx Copyright (c) 1998 RFE/RL, Inc. 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