|We are all apt to believe what the world believes about us. - George Eliot|
RFE/RL NEWSLINE Vol 2, No. 44 , Part II, 5 March 1998
___________________________________________________________ RFE/RL NEWSLINE Vol 2, No. 44 , Part II, 5 March 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 RFE/RL CAUCASUS REPORT: A WEEKLY REVIEW OF POLITICAL DEVELOPMENTS IN THE NORTH CAUCASUS AND TRANSCAUCASIA FROM RADIO FREE EUROPE/RADIO LIBERTY This new email weekly covers Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia and Russia's North Caucasus. To subscribe, send an email message to firstname.lastname@example.org with the word "subscribe" in the subject line or body of the message. The first issue (March 3, 1998) and all future issues will be online at the RFE/RL Web site. http://www.rferl.org/caucasus-report/ xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx Headlines, Part II * ALBRIGHT TO WARN UKRAINE DURING VISIT * SERBS ATTACK KOSOVAR VILLAGES * GELBARD WARNS OF MILITARY ACTION * End Note: A MODERN PRESIDENCY IN LITHUANIA xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx REGIONAL AFFAIRS PRIMAKOV CONDEMNS POLICE ACTION AGAINST RIGA DEMONSTRATORS... Russian Foreign Minister Yevgenii Primakov on 4 March said Latvian police had committed a "glaring violation of elementary human rights" while breaking up a demonstration of largely Russian-speaking pensioners in Riga the previous day, Russian news agencies reported. Primakov added that he considers the use of force against the demonstrators "disgusting" (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 4 March 1998). Meanwhile, the Russian State Duma on 4 March rejected a proposal by Vladimir Zhirinovsky's Liberal Democratic Party of Russia (LDPR) faction to postpone a Duma delegation's visit to Latvia scheduled for 16 March, Interfax reported. Earlier the same day, the LDPR faction walked out of the Duma chamber after Duma speaker Gennadii Seleznev took the floor away from LDPR deputy Yurii Kuznetsov, who had denounced Latvia as a "fascist regime." LB ...WHILE RIGA REFUTES ALLEGATIONS. The Latvian Foreign Ministry, meanwhile, responded by issuing a statement saying that Russian politicians' attempts to "politicize developments during the unauthorized picket at Riga City Hall" are "inadmissible," BNS reported on 4 March. The ministry said it was "astonished" over the way Russian officials were trying to "interpret an administrative breach [to give it] a political and ethnic nature." It added that such attempts were detrimental to the development of bilateral relations, mutual trust, and understanding. Interior Minister Ziedonis Cevers has asked the police leadership to provide a detailed report of the demonstration as well as an evaluation of whether the police actions were in accordance with the law and police regulations. JC EAST-CENTRAL EUROPE ALBRIGHT TO WARN UKRAINE DURING VISIT... U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright on 4 March said she will go to Kyiv with a "strong message of friendship but also of warning," an RFE/RL correspondent in Washington reported. Albright, who is due to arrive in the Ukrainian capital on 6 March, was addressing a Congressional subcommittee. Albright must certify to the committee later this month that Ukraine is responding satisfactorily to complaints by U.S. businesses in Ukraine. If that progress is not satisfactory, the $225 million in aid due to Kyiv next year will be halved. PB ...AND TO TRY TO HALT KYIV'S DEAL WITH IRAN. Albright also said she will press Ukrainian officials to halt the sale of turbines needed for an Iranian nuclear reactor being built with Russian help. U.S. officials said Ukraine will suffer "hundreds of millions of dollars" in losses if its Turboatom plant in Kharkiv does not sell the turbines to Iran. To counteract those losses, the U.S. has offered Ukraine an agreement on nuclear cooperation if Kyiv scraps the deal, including aid on construction of two key reactors at Ukraine's Khmelnitskiy and Rivno power plants. Russia also recently announced that it will aid Kyiv in finishing those reactors (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 4 March 1998). Russia has warned Ukraine that it will void other international contracts with Kyiv if it does not produce the turbines. PB LUKASHENKA MEETS WITH CATHOLIC MINORITY. Belarusian President Alyaksandr Lukashenka held talks in Hrodno on 4 March with the head of the Belarusian Catholic Church, Reuters reported. Lukashenka said he told Cardinal Kazimir Sventak to stop training "foreigners" to become priests. That remark was apparently in reference to ethnic Poles, who number 300,000 in the western region of Hrodno. Relations between Poland and Belarus have recently cooled. Minsk recalled its ambassador in Warsaw last month, and Lukashenka said he intentionally did not meet with Polish Foreign Minister and Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe Chairman Bronislaw Geremek when the latter opened an OSCE mission in Minsk last week (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 2 March 1998). Some 20 percent of Belarusian citizens are Catholic. Before the meeting, Lukashenka said that although he is "not a believer," he advocated that Belarus "establish Christian values." PB BELARUSIAN, RUSSIAN INTERIOR MINISTERS DISCUSS COOPERATION. Valentin Agolts and Anatolii Kulikov met in Minsk on 4 March to discuss stepping up cooperation in fighting crime, ITAR-TASS reported. They also analyzed progress toward implementing bilateral measures that the countries' Interior Ministries agreed to at a meeting in Moscow last September. PB LILEIKIS'S ATTORNEY WANTS CHARGES DROPPED. Algirdas Matuiza, the lawyer of war crimes suspect Aleksandras Lileikis, has called for charges against his 90-year-old client to be dropped, BNS reported. At a pre-trial hearing on 4 March, Matuiza argued that there is not sufficient evidence to convict Lileikis of involvement in genocide against Jews during the Nazi occupation of Lithuania. He added that if the case is not closed, he will demand that the court carry out additional investigations. Lileikis was head of the Vilnius security police from 1941-1944. JC PRIMAKOV, GEREMEK MEET IN MOSCOW. Russian Foreign Minister Yevgenii Primakov says the OSCE should play a "greater role" in forming a European security system, ITAR-TASS reported on 5 March. Primakov made his comments after meeting with Polish Foreign Minister and OSCE Chairman Bronislaw Geremek. Primakov added that it was important to hear that Geremek is against the "international isolation" of Belarus. The two ministers also discussed the recent violence in Kosovo, the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, and the situation of ethnic Russians in the Baltics. Geremek stressed Warsaw's belief that joining NATO will not affect Poland's relations with Moscow. PB SOLANA ADVISES AGAINST CZECH REFERENDUM ON NATO. NATO Secretary-General Javier Solana said after his 4 March meeting President Vaclav Havel that he believes accession to NATO should be approved by the Czech parliament and not through a referendum. He said NATO members that have already approved the organization's enlargement may find it " a bit strange" to realize that their decision could be altered in a plebiscite. He said he hoped all three new NATO members can be admitted in April 1999. Following his meeting with Premier Josef Tosovsky, Solana told journalists that the alliance is "very satisfied" with the Czech Republic's preparations for NATO membership and that the level of the Czech army's interoperability is "very good," CTK reported. In other news, Vladimir Mlynar on 4 March resigned as government spokesman following his decision to join the Freedom Union. MS CZECH SENATE REVOKES ANTI-ROMANY LAW. The Czech Senate on 4 March approved a bill revoking legislation adopted in the 1950s that bans a "nomadic way of life," CTK reported. The Chamber of Deputies had voted to abolish the law last month. Several senators said the law was "racist" and aimed primarily against Roma. Also on 4 March, the leadership of the Romani Civic Association called on all Czech citizens to "stop violence and mutual provocations." CTK reported the same day that more than 800 people have signed a petition urging Czech citizens not to be indifferent to racism and xenophobia in the wake of rapidly escalating attacks by skinheads on Roma. The petition was initiated by prominent Czech intellectuals. MS MECIAR PARDONS KIDNAPPERS OF KOVAC JR. RFE/RL's Bratislava bureau reported on 4 March that the amnesty declared by the Slovak government the previous day halts all investigations of individuals suspected of involvement in the 1995 kidnapping of former President Michal Kovac's son and precludes the prosecution of such individuals. According to Reuters, citing TASR, the text of the amnesty stipulates "the stopping of the proceedings for crimes committed in the context of the kidnapping of Michal Kovac Jr. abroad." Opposition politicians claim the kidnapping was carried out by the Slovak SIS secret service, headed by Prime Minister Vladimir Meciar's close associate, Ivan Lexa. The amnesty also cancels all suspended prison sentences of less than six months for "offenses with intent" and of less than a year for those "without intent." And it shields from prosecution people involved in thwarting last year's referendum on the election of Slovakia's president by popular vote. MS HUNGARIANS OPPOSE AGREEMENT ON DANUBE DAM. According to a Gallup poll, opposition among Hungarians to building a dam on the River Danube has grown over the past month from 48 percent to 62 percent, "Magyar Nemzet" reported on 4 March. Some 49 percent of Budapest residents believe that Slovak interests are served by the protocol signed last week in Bratislava, while only 15 percent say the agreement serves Hungarian interests. MSZ SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE SERBS ATTACK KOSOVAR VILLAGES. The Democratic League of Kosovo (LDK), the leading Kosovar political party, has issued a statement in Pristina saying "strong Serbian police forces" opened fire on several ethnic Albanian villages near Srbica on 5 March. Police exchanged fire with armed Albanians in the villages and set up check points on the main road connecting Kosovska Mitrovica and Srbica, BETA news agency added. The previous day, unknown gunmen fired at a police station in Pristina, shortly after the clandestine Kosovo Liberation Army (UCK) pledged revenge for the Kosovars killed by Serbian police in recent violence (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 4 March 1998). On 5 March, Parliamentary Party leader Adem Demaci said in Pristina that the violent actions of the Serbian police has led Kosovars to conclude that the formerly tiny UCK has become "essential for their protection." PM KOSOVARS CALL FOR NATO PEACEKEEPERS... Edita Tahiri, the LDK's top foreign affairs spokeswoman, said in Istanbul on 4 March that "NATO should immediately send a force to Kosovo and the UN Security Council should take urgent measures. Otherwise, the unrest in Kosovo will spread to other parts of the Balkans, and may involve Albania, Macedonia, and even Turkey and Greece. The international community and NATO should act to prevent another tragedy like the one in Bosnia. Pressure must be exerted on the Serbian government to sit at the negotiating table with us. Many Albanians in Kosovo believe that after this point it will not be possible to live in Kosovo under Serbian rule." PM ...AND FOR MEDIATION. Fehmi Agani, a top official of the LDK, said in Pristina on 4 March that "never in the last 10 years has the situation been so tense, and it might explode any moment.... The positions of the Albanians and... [Yugoslav President Slobodan] Milosevic are so far apart that no dialogue is possible without the mediation of a third party." The Serbian authorities, for their part, have claimed repeatedly that the Albanians enjoy full rights "on the highest European level." Serbian officials add that they are ready for a dialogue, but only if the Kosovars renounce violence and accept the Serbian Constitution. The Kosovars reply that the main issue for them is changing that constitution because it grants them no autonomy. PM CROATIAN SERBS DRAFTED FOR KOSOVO. Mons Nyberg, a spokesman for the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, told the independent FoNet news agency in Belgrade on 4 March that "we have been informed that refugees [from Croatia now living] in Kosovo are being called up for military service." He added that the UNHCR has informed the Serbian Refugee Committee about those reports. "We were told that action will be taken for such practices to be stopped," Nyberg said. He stressed that international law specifies that refugees "must not be called up for military service in the country that offered them asylum." Yugoslavia does not automatically extend citizenship to Croatian or Bosnian Serb refugees. PM SANDZAK LEADER SAYS KOSOVO ON EVE OF WAR. Rasim Ljajic, a prominent Sandzak Muslim political leader, said in Novi Pazar on 4 March that the current situation in Kosovo is reminiscent of that in Croatia and in Bosnia on the eve of the conflicts in each of those two republics. Ljajic added that the current state of "no war, no peace" in Kosovo is one that Milosevic knows how to manipulate very well to his own political advantage, BETA reported. PM GELBARD WARNS OF MILITARY ACTION. Robert Gelbard, the U.S. special envoy for the former Yugoslavia, said in Washington on 4 March that "I guarantee you, we simply won't brook any renewal of violence and yes, I do put the overwhelming onus on the government of [Yugoslavia]. We continue to be prepared to deal with this problem with Milosevic, with his military, and with his police using every appropriate tool we have at our command. U.S. policy has not changed.... The key is we're going to have effective means to deal with these problems and we have warned Milosevic appropriately.... The economic situation in...Yugoslavia is dismal.... The situation can become an awful lot worse and we can make it worse," Gelbard concluded. PM COOK URGES "POLITICAL SOLUTION." British Foreign Secretary Robin Cook arrived in Belgrade for talks with Milosevic on 5 March. The previous day in Sarajevo, Cook said of his planned meeting with the Yugoslav leader: "I will carry a very clear and simple message: Europe and the trans-Atlantic countries expect that steps to find a political solution will be taken. Whilst we will always back a fight against terrorism, you cannot beat terrorism alone by police action. [Milosevic] also needs to address legitimate political grievances of the great majority of Kosovo who do not endorse terrorism." Meanwhile in London, the BBC reported that the foreign ministers of the six-member international Contact Group will meet in the British capital on 9 March to discuss Kosovo. PM SERBIAN WAR CRIME SUSPECT GIVES HIMSELF UP. Dragoljub Kunarac gave himself up to SFOR troops in Foca on 4 March and arrived in The Netherlands the next day. He is the fourth Bosnian Serb indicted for war crimes by the Hague-based court to surrender to the tribunal's representatives in recent weeks. Kunarac is charged with systematically raping Muslim women and inflicting psychological and physical cruelty on them. Also in The Hague, the court announced on 5 March that it is commuting from 10 to five years the sentence for war crimes handed down to Drazen Erdemovic, a Bosnian Croat who served in the Serbian forces at Srebrenica. The court noted that Erdemovic had been forced into killing Muslims, shows remorse, and suffers from post-trauma stress. PM MONTENEGRO JAILS MILOSEVIC BACKER. A court in Podgorica on 3 March sentenced a supporter of former President Momir Bulatovic, who is an ally of Milosevic, to four months in jail for inciting violence during demonstrations in January. In Belgrade, the federal parliament ratified an agreement between Milosevic and the Bosnian Serbs to enable Bosnian citizens to also hold Yugoslav citizenship. In Zagreb, Milorad Pupovac, a leader of Croatia's Serbian minority, told an RFE/RL correspondent that the Croatian government could quickly end the intimidation of Serbs by Croatian nationalists in eastern Slavonia if it wanted to do so. PM YUGOSLAVIA'S NEIGHBORS WORRIED ABOUT KOSOVO DEVELOPMENTS. Hungarian Foreign Ministry spokesman Gabor Horvath said on 4 March that Budapest "condemns the use of force by any side and advocates a peaceful solution and a long-term settlement" of the conflict in Kosovo. He said respect for "human, civil, and minority rights," including those of the Hungarian minority in Vojvodina, must be part of such a settlement. Bulgarian Foreign Ministry spokesman Radko Vlaikov said Sofia opposes "any form of terrorism by either side and any pretensions to separatism or a change of existing borders." Vlaikov said Albanian Foreign Minister Paskal Milo had told his Bulgarian counterpart, Nadezhda Mihailova, that his country is ready to endorse the Bulgarian proposal for a joint Balkan declaration on Kosovo. Romanian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Anda Filip said Bucharest is "deeply worried" and opposes "violence against the use of democratic freedoms" and "terrorist actions as a means to promote political aims." MS/MSZ ROMANIAN BUDGET STILL NOT APPROVED. Leaders of the coalition parties, excluding the Democratic Party, have approved "in principle" the 1998 draft budget, RFE/RL's Bucharest bureau reported on 4 March. Democratic Party deputy chairman Alexandru Sassu told reporters that the absence of his party's representatives at the meeting was due to "miscommunication" among coalition members. Sassu said that he still does not know whether the Democrats will vote for the budget, saying the government has not presented a "clear program" and the budget itself is still at the "drafting stage." MS CONSTANTINESCU LEADS OPINION POLL. President Emil Constantinescu would receive 45 percent of the vote if presidential elections were to be held now. A public opinion survey conducted by the Center for Urban and Rural Sociology shows that the Constantinescu is followed by former President Ion Iliescu (14 percent), Corneliu Vadim Tudor, leader of the extremist Greater Romania Party (13 percent), Alliance for Romania party leader Teodor Melescanu (12 percent), and Petre Roman, chairman of the Democratic Party (9 percent). MS MOLDOVAN PRESIDENTIAL ADVISER ON SETTLING TRANSDNIESTER CONFLICT. Anatol Taranu on 4 March presented a plan for settling the conflict over the separatist Transdniester region, RFE/RL's Chisinau bureau reported. Taranu, who is on leave of absence as he heads the "Speranta" list for the 22 March parliamentary elections, said one referendum should be held in Moldova and another in the Transdniester on whether to approve a plan that is to be drafted by a UN-sponsored international conference with the participation of the Organizations for Security and Cooperation in Europe. He said President Petru Lucinschi is aware of the plan "in general but not in its details." Taranu heads the Moldovan delegation to negotiations with the separatists. MS FORMER MOLDOVAN PRESIDENT LOSES OFFICIAL CAR, BODYGUARDS. The Moldovan government on 4 March revoked Mircea Snegur's right to use an official car and have bodyguards. Snegur is now a leader of the rightist Democratic Convention of Moldova. The government's decision is in line with a recently passed law saying former heads of state may enjoy such privileges for one year only after leaving office, Infotag reported. MS BULGARIAN PREMIER INVITED TO MOSCOW. Russian Federation Council chairman Yegor Stroev, who attended celebrations in Sofia marking the 120th anniversary of the joint Bulgarian-Russian victory over Turkey, has invited Premier Ivan Kostov to visit Moscow, an RFE/RL correspondent in the Bulgarian capital reported on 4 March. No date has been set for the visit. After meeting with Kostov, President Petar Stoyanov, and other Bulgarian officials, Stroev told journalists that Bulgarian Deputy Premier Evgeni Bakardzhiev has been invited to meet with Gazprom chairman Rem Vyakhirev on 20 March to discuss the dispute over Russian gas deliveries to Bulgaria, ITAR-TASS reported. MS END NOTE A MODERN PRESIDENCY IN LITHUANIA by Asta Banionis On 26 February, Valdas Adamkus took the oath of office to became the fifth president of Lithuania. The transfer of presidential duties was dignified, orderly, and normal--such as would be expected from any Western democratic state after direct elections. It holds out the promise that Lithuania will finally be able to consolidate its efforts at modernizing its economy, society, and politics. The departure from the presidency of Algirdas Brazauskas, a former communist party chief and a professional politician, and the arrival of a newly elected president who served with distinction in the U.S. civil service provide contrasts of both style and substance. Certainly, the great expectation among his supporters and many of the voters who elected him is that Adamkus will bring new ideas unencumbered by the political loyalties of the past. At the same time, the critical votes that gave Adamkus his narrow victory came from people who voted against his opponent rather than for Adamkus. This leveling of expectations may help Adamkus make a successful transition from a U.S. federal civil servant to a head of state of a European country. There is no doubt that Adamkus brings with him modern managerial skills from his decades-long service at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. During the seven-week transition period following his victory, Adamkus and his advisers focused their energies on a plan for restructuring government ministries. In their negotiations with the parliament and the ruling coalition, they were able to win concessions to reduce the number of ministries from 17 to 14. Having tinkered with the apparatus of government, President Adamkus now faces the challenge of developing his policy goals and implementing his programs. And the question on everybody's mind is whether Adamkus, a member of the Lithuanian Diaspora most of his adult life, understands the everyday problems and aspirations of his nation. In a speech to the nation following his inauguration, Adamkus called for an Act of Concord among the political forces in the country, which, he suggested, would diminish the public hostilities and antagonisms permeating public debate in Lithuania and sometimes paralyzing government decision-making. He pledged to establish an "ethic of government service" that would encourage the transformation of petty bureaucrats into public servants. And he urged a renewed effort to invigorate the reform process throughout Lithuanian society. "The road that leads to the EU and NATO membership starts in Vilnius. I emphasize, in Vilnius and not in the capitals of Western Europe," he argued. The slim election margin puts a political burden on Adamkus to implement those goals. The limits of the constitutional authority of the president's office are still largely undefined, but at the request of the government, the Constitutional Court recently ruled on the question of whether the government must resign when a new president takes office. In a detailed 17-page document, the court ruled that Lithuania is a parliamentary democracy, not a presidential one, and that although the government must return its mandate, the president must first submit the name of the current prime minister to a vote of confidence before he can propose other candidates for the parliament to consider and confirm. Adamkus, who had campaigned for strengthening the powers of the president, has expressed disappointment over the court's ruling. In the last year of his presidency, Brazauskas rarely challenged the decisions of the parliament and government, which was firmly in the hands of the reform parties, not his own Democratic Labor Party. As a former U.S. citizen, Adamkus is schooled in a political system that has a powerful executive in the office of the president. During his campaign, Adamkus often spoke of his desire to be a serious player in the government's decision-making process. But what tools will President Adamkus choose to exercise an influence over government policy? He may turn to the U.S. tradition of the "bully pulpit" to complement his efforts to expand his influence in the legislative process. Modern-day U.S. presidents have used the powerful medium of television to focus the public's attention on an issue and to craft the terms of the public debate. But this will work in Lithuania only if the new president thoroughly understands the historical and cultural context of his audience--namely, the people of Lithuania. The author is a public affairs specialist at RFE/RL's Washington office. xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx Copyright (c) 1998 RFE/RL, Inc. 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