Silence is the real crime against humanity. - Nadezhda Mandelstam
RFE/RL NEWSLINE

RFE/RL NEWSLINE Vol 2, No. 51, Part II, 16 March 1998


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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

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Headlines, Part II

* BELARUSIAN FOREIGN MINISTER BLASTS RUSSIAN MEDIA

* SERBIAN POLICE BLOCK WOMEN'S MARCH IN KOSOVO

* BRCKO DECISION PUT OFF AGAIN

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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

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