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RFE/RL NEWSLINE Vol 2, No. 51, Part II, 16 March 1998
___________________________________________________________ RFE/RL NEWSLINE Vol 2, No. 51, Part II, 16 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 ALL BROADCASTS FOR SIX SERVICES LIVE ONLINE All programs of RFE/RL's Armenian, Azerbaijani, Bulgarian, Kyrgyz, Russian and Ukrainian Services are online live in RealAudio. The Russian Service broadcasts 24 hours a day, seven days a week. To tune in, go to: http://www.rferl.org/realaudio/ xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx Headlines, Part II * BELARUSIAN FOREIGN MINISTER BLASTS RUSSIAN MEDIA * SERBIAN POLICE BLOCK WOMEN'S MARCH IN KOSOVO * BRCKO DECISION PUT OFF AGAIN xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx EAST-CENTRAL EUROPE BELARUSIAN FOREIGN MINISTER BLASTS RUSSIAN MEDIA. Ivan Antonovich has accused some Russian media of "misinformation, fabrications, and libel" against President Lukashenka, ITAR-TASS reported on 13 March. Ivanovich said that there has been "a wave of innuendoes, inventions, and fabrications" against Lukashenka and that foreign journalists will lose their accreditation if it continues (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 13 March 1998). Antonovich also said Belarus had not signed any "secret agreements" with Iran or Syria to help develop technologies for weapons of mass destruction. But he did not rule out other forms of military cooperation with those countries (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 11 March 1998). PB OPPOSITION LEADER DETAINED AFTER MINSK RALLY. Nikolay Statkyevitch, head of the Belarusian Social Democratic Party, was detained by police following an opposition rally in Minsk on 15 March, AFP reported. Statkyevitch led a crowd of 3,000 people protesting the rule of President Alyaksandr Lukashenka on the fourth anniversary of the constitution, which Lukashenka amended to his advantage after a 1996 referendum. Police detained Statkyevitch for not adhering to the prescribed route. In a televised address, Lukashenka hailed the amendments for making "the defense of real civil rights and freedoms...the backbone" of the constitution. PB OPPOSITION LEADER SAYS UKRAINE IS SLAVE TO WEST. Oleksandr Moroz, the speaker of the Ukrainian parliament and leader of the Socialist Party, said while campaigning on 13 March that the government is a slave to Western institutions, Interfax reported. Moroz said President Leonid Kuchma and the government "blindly implement Western prescriptions instead of making their own economic policy." He added that Ukraine is being transformed by such policies into a "raw materials provider for other countries." Meanwhile, an IMF delegation left Kyiv on 14 March without agreeing on provisions for releasing the next tranche of an urgently needed loan, Interfax reported. Deputy Premier Serhiy Tyhypko said the IMF may still provide the $50 million tranche but that there are "certain conditions" Kyiv has not yet met. PB CRIMEAN TATARS MAY OBSTRUCT ELECTIONS. Mustafa Dzhemilev, the head of the Crimean Tatar parliament, said on 13 March that Tatars are dissatisfied with the electoral law and may disrupt elections, ITAR-TASS reported. Dzhemilev said he could not rule out civil disobedience during the 29 March elections if Tatars demands are not met. He added that the Crimean parliament will rule on Tatar demands on 24 March. Dzhemilev said that unless a quota of 14 seats in the Crimean parliament is reserved for Tatars, they will not be represented in the legislature. Dzhemilev said this demand could be met if the parliament rules that all Tatars in Crimea can vote, regardless of their citizenship status (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 11 March 1998). PB TALLINN GETS SECOND-BEST CREDIT RATING IN REGION. The international rating agency Moody's has given the City of Tallinn the second- best credit rating among Eastern European cities, ETA reported on 15 March. The rating Baa1 is just one step lower than that of Prague and equals the general rating given to Estonia last September. Moody's said that good management of Tallinn's finances and the expectation that its debts will not rise significantly are responsible for the new rating. JC LATVIAN SS VETERANS COMMEMORATE 55TH ANNIVERSARY. Some 500 veterans of the former Latvian SS Legion , which fought with the Nazis during World War Two, gathered in Riga on 15 March to commemorate the unit's 55th anniversary, BNS and Reuters reported. The rally was one of several events in the Latvian capital marking the anniversary, including a procession through the old town on 16 March. Latvia's government has said it will not participate in the events, which local organizations, including Russian-language ones, have sharply criticized. The veterans, for their part, argue that they did not fight for the Germans but against the Soviets. They say they were conscripted illegally and that the Germans lied when they called the legion a voluntary SS unit. After the war, the U.S. confirmed those claims, saying membership in the legion was not an obstacle to immigration for thousands of Latvian refugees. JC POLAND TO DECENTRALIZE IN LINE WITH EU STANDARDS. The government has approved a plan to decentralize the state and empower local governments, an RFE/RL correspondent in Warsaw reported on 13 March. Under the plan, which must be passed by the Sejm, Poland's 49 provinces would be combined to form 12 large ones. The government says the change will cut spending and bureaucracy as well as increase regional power and economic activities. The plan is likely to be opposed by officials from cities that will lose their status as provincial capitals. Prime Minister Jerzy Buzek has pledged to give economic aid to regions that lose the status of province. PB HUNGARIAN PRESIDENT URGES RESPECT FOR NATIONAL MINORITIES. Arpad Goncz, speaking at a ceremony in Budapest marking the 150th anniversary of the 1848 revolution, called for tolerance towards Hungary's national minorities, Reuters reported on 15 March. Goncz said that as Hungary moves toward the European Union, it must understand that this process involves respect for the rights and the values of others, not only beyond but also within its own borders. MS HUNGARIANS RALLY AGAINST DAM. More than 1,000 environmentalists demonstrated in Budapest on 14 March to protest a plan to build an alternative dam to the one originally planned at Nagymaros, AFP reported. The plan was drawn up to satisfy Slovak demands and the ruling of the International Court of Justice in The Hague. In other news, the Japanese Shinwa car audio manufacturer will set up its first European production unit in the northern Hungarian industrial town of Miskolc. Shinwa will invest $12 million in a facility that will be built this year and a further $8 million to boost capacity production over the next five years. MS SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE SERBIAN POLICE BLOCK WOMEN'S MARCH IN KOSOVO. Riot police blocked a peaceful march by Kosovar women on 16 March from Pristina to the Drenica region, where the recent crackdown left more than 80 Albanians dead. Several tens of thousands of Kosovars staged peaceful marches throughout Kosovo on 15 March, an RFE/RL correspondent reported from Pristina. The Democratic League of Kosovo, which is the leading Kosovar political organization, elected a new leadership and issued a statement calling for "urgent intervention" by the U.S. and EU to end "terror against the Albanian population." Memorial masses for the Muslim Albanians killed in the crackdown took place in all Roman Catholic churches in Kosovo. PM U.S. TO FUND KOSOVO WAR CRIMES INVESTIGATION. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright announced on 13 March that Washington will contribute $1 million to support investigations by the Hague-based war crimes tribunal into Serbia's recent crackdown. The court has already launched an investigation into the affair. PM ALBANIAN PREMIER BACKS RUGOVA ON TALKS. A spokesman for Fatos Nano said on 15 March that the Kosovo Albanian leadership was right to reject two recent invitations by the Serbian government to participate in talks to which Belgrade had attached conditions (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 13 March 1998). Nano called the Serbian offer "ridiculous," and he justified the Kosovars' demand for international mediation in their relations with Belgrade. Addressing his remarks to Kosovo Albanians, he said that "now, more than ever, Albanians should show self-restraint and calm when faced with provocations that aim to depict the Albanians as terrorists and extremists." FS ALBANIA WANTS STRONGER NATO INVOLVEMENT. Foreign Minister Paskal Milo said on 14 March that Tirana is ready to support a possible NATO deployment in the region by providing airport facilities. He added that Albania is considering asking the U.S. to send a naval task force to the Adriatic. Last week, Albania asked NATO to deploy troops on its border with Kosovo, which the alliance refused to do (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 12 March 1998). On 12 March, Foreign Minister Paskal Milo dismissed allegations by the Yugoslav Foreign Ministry that its embassy in Tirana is under threat of terrorist attacks. Albanian officials nonetheless tightened security around the embassy. FS KINKEL OFFERS CARROTS TO MILOSEVIC. German Foreign Minister Klaus Kinkel told "Der Spiegel" of 16 March that his goal regarding Kosovo is to obtain the withdrawal of the Serbian "special police from Kosovo and stop the operations against the Albanian civilian population." When he and his French counterpart Hubert Vedrine arrive in Belgrade later this week, Kinkel added, "we will propose things...to help" Serbia return to European institutions in return for cooperation in Kosovo. He said the EU could help Yugoslavia "with access to international financial institutions, the IMF, or the World Bank." Kinkel said he favors extending the mandate of UN peacekeepers in Macedonia and setting up a small border patrol to prevent arms-running from Albania to Kosovo. He added, however, that it is "unnecessary" to send more troops to the region and that Russia and China would not allow it, anyway. PM GLIGOROV WANTS U.S. TROOPS. Macedonian President Kiro Gligorov said in Skopje on 14 March that maintaining a U.S. military presence in Macedonia would be the best way to preserve security there. He suggested that the UN peacekeepers, which include a U.S. contingent, be replaced by a purely U.S. force when the UN's mandate runs out on 31 August. After that date, Gligorov said, "the best solution would be the arrival of American troops, regardless of how many they are." A solely U.S. force would not have the national rivalries or complex command structure inherent in a multinational operation, he argued. Gligorov added that such a force would also "do away with the possibility that these troops might try to influence" Macedonia's internal affairs. PM BRCKO DECISION PUT OFF AGAIN... U.S. envoy Roberts Owen, the chief international administrator in the disputed northern Bosnian town of Brcko, announced on 15 March in Sarajevo that he will not decide on the town's future until some point between the Bosnian general elections in September and the beginning of 1999. He said that the delay will give the new Bosnian Serb leadership an opportunity to move ahead with promised reforms. This is the third time that the international community has postponed a decision on Brcko's status, which was the one territorial issue not settled by the Dayton agreement. Bosnian Serbs say they need to keep control of Brcko because it connects the eastern and western halves of the Republika Srpska. The Muslims and Croats, who constituted the pre-war majority of the population, argue that failure to return Brcko to them is tantamount to justifying ethnic cleansing. PM ...AMID MIXED REACTIONS. President Ejup Ganic of the mainly Muslim and Croatian federation blasted Owen's announcement, saying that "justice delayed is justice denied." Republika Srpska President Biljana Plavsic and Prime Minister Milorad Dodik said Owen's decision not to take Brcko from the Serbs reflects the confidence that the international community has in the Plavsic-Dodik leadership. However, hard-line Bosnian Serb leader Momcilo Krajisnik called on Plavsic and Dodik to resign. He reminded them that they have recently said on several occasions that Dodik's government will fall unless Brcko is assigned to the Serbs. PM CARDINAL BLASTS INTERNATIONAL COMMUNITY. Cardinal Vinko Puljic said in Serb-held Banja Luka on 14 March that the UN and the great powers "did nothing" to prevent aggression by the Yugoslav Army and Serbian paramilitaries against Croatia in 1991 and Bosnia in 1992. Puljic added that the wartime international arms embargo served mainly to prevent the Croats and Muslims from defending themselves. The cardinal said that European civilization is doomed if it allows the strong to ride roughshod over the weak. PM DIENSTBIER NAMED UN RIGHTS ENVOY. UN officials in Geneva on 13 March announced the appointment of former Czechoslovak Foreign Minister Jiri Dienstbier to investigate human rights abuses in the former Yugoslavia. He succeeds Elisabeth Rehn of Finland, who resigned in January to become UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan's special representative for Bosnia. PM CROATIAN RAIL WORKERS STAGE WARNING STRIKE. Railway workers held a half-hour warning strike throughout Croatia on 13 March to underscore demands for wage hikes. Management claims it does not have the money to pay the 20 percent wage increase the unions demand. Management also wants to sack 6,000 workers in what it calls an effort to cut losses. The strike is the latest in a series of worker protests to hit Croatia since the beginning of the year, when a value-added-tax came into effect. PM ALBANIAN PARLIAMENT SACKS TOP JUDGE. The parliament voted in a closed session on 14 March to sack Judge Rustem Gjata, the head of the Constitutional Court, for cooperation with the communist-era secret service, "Shekulli" reported. The parliament's lustration commission had demanded the dismissal of Gjata, who switched his allegiance to the Democratic Party (PD) after the fall of communism. The Democrats did not participate in the 14 March session on the grounds that the sacking is politically motivated. Democratic leader Tritan Shehu said the report submitted by the lustration commission was "not convincing." FS ROMANIAN CABINET APPROVES BILL ON MINISTERIAL RESPONSIBILITY. The government on 13 March approved a draft law on ministerial responsibility, Romanian media reported. The law, which is to be submitted to the parliament, is part of a package of laws aimed at bringing Romanian legislation into line with that of the EU. The draft says the parliamentary immunity of ministers can be lifted with a simple majority, instead of the two-thirds majority required for other members of the legislature. In those cases where ministers are not members of the parliament, a special commission set up by the country's president will decided whether legal proceedings can be launched against them. MS FIST-FIGHTS IN CLUJ CHURCH. Fist-fights broke out between Uniates (Roman Catholics of the Eastern Rite) and Romanian Orthodox believers in a church in the Transylvanian city of Cluj on 13 March, an RFE/RL correspondent there reported. A court of justice had recently ruled that the church, which had belonged to the Uniates before they were banned by the communist regime in 1948, must be returned to them. The Orthodox oppose the ruling and are, in general, against returning confiscated Uniate churches and properties to their original owners. The local Orthodox bishop and Patriarch Teoctist said they were "saddened" by the "unjust" decision of the court but will no longer oppose it. MS NATIONAL ROMANIAN PARTY ESTABLISHED. The Agrarian Democratic Party (PDAR) and the New Romania Party merged on 14 March to form the National Romanian Party (PNR), RFE/RL's Bucharest bureau reported. The Christian Liberal Party decided against becoming a member of the union, but eight of its local organizations nonetheless opted to join. Former PDAR chairman Mihai Berca was elected chairman of the PNR, while Ovidiu Traznea, the former chairman of the New Romania Party, is PNR honorary chairman. Virgil Magureanu, the former director of the Intelligence Service, is secretary-general of the party. MS MOLDOVAN ELECTION POLL. An opinion poll conducted by the Opinia research institute suggests that of the 15 parties running in the 22 March parliamentary elections, only five will pass the 4 percent threshold for parliamentary representation, Infotag and BASA-press reported on 13 March. The Party of Moldovan Communists gained 24 percent support, followed by the Right Democratic Convention of Moldova (23 percent) and the Romanian Party of Democratic Forces (nearly 18 percent). The pro-presidential For a Democratic and Prosperous Moldova Bloc is backed by some 12 percent and the Democratic Agrarian Party of Moldova, which won the 1994 elections, by 9.3 percent. MS CANDIDATES QUIT MOLDOVAN ELECTORAL LIST. Sixteen candidates on the lists of the Party of Social Economic Justice announced on 13 March that they will not be running, Infotag and BASA-press reported. They have accused party leader Maricica Levitschi of attempting to bribe the electorate, saying that, among other things, she has distributed to voters condoms and birth control pills received as foreign aid to Moldova. MS ZHIVKOV NAMES CONDITION FOR REJOINING FORMER PARTY. Former communist dictator Todor Zhivkov says he will agree to join the Socialist Party only if he is rehabilitated by his former colleagues, whom he accused of "treason". Last week, Zhivkov's grand-daughter Evgenia Zhivkova denied reports that her grand-father, who is 86, has rejoined the Socialist Party. Zhivkov told a meeting of party members in a Sofia suburb on 15 March that he does not "want to join through the back door" and that the next Socialist Party congress must first rehabilitate him, RFE/RL's Sofia bureau reported. Zhivkov was expelled from the party in 1990. MS xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx Copyright (c) 1998 RFE/RL, Inc. All rights reserved. xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx HOW TO SUBSCRIBE Send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org with the word "subscribe" as the subject or body of the message. 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