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RFE/RL NEWSLINE Vol 2, No. 63 Part II, 1 April 1998
___________________________________________________________ RFE/RL NEWSLINE Vol 2, No. 63 Part II, 1 April 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 RUSSIAN MEDIA EMPIRES II Businessmen, government leaders, politicians, and financial companies continue to reshape Russia's media landscape. This update of a September report identifies the players and their media holdings via charts, tables and articles. http://www.rferl.org/nca/special/rumedia2/index.html xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx Headlines, Part II * UKRAINE'S COMMUNISTS EMERGE AS ELECTION WINNERS * UN VOTES ARMS EMBARGO ON BELGRADE * MONTENEGRO WANTS INTERNATIONAL ROLE IN KOSOVO End Note: THE DEMISE OF TURKISH COFFEE? xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx EAST-CENTRAL EUROPE UKRAINE'S COMMUNISTS EMERGE AS ELECTION WINNERS. The Communist Party of Ukraine and its left-wing allies will form the biggest bloc in the new parliament, AFP reported on 1 April. The Supreme Council is to consist of 225 deputies with party-list mandates and another 225 with single mandates. With 99 percent of the vote for party-list mandates counted, the Communists won 84 seats, the Socialist/Peasants' Bloc 29, and the Progressive Socialist Party 14. Following the count of 83.5 percent of ballots for single-mandate seats, the Communists had gained 37 seats and the other left-wing parties 10, according to the Central Electoral Commission. JM OTHER ELECTION RESULTS. The nationalist Rukh party won 32 party-list mandates, the Greens 19, the Popular Democratic Party, led by Prime Minister Valery Pustovoytenko, 17, the Hromada party, headed by former Premier Pavlo Lazarenko, 16, and the United Social Democrats, led by former President Leonid Kravchuk, 14. Independent candidates took 114 single-mandate seats in the legislature. The Central Electoral Commission reported that turnout was 69.6 percent. JM KUCHMA VOWS TO CONTINUE REFORMS DESPITE COMMUNIST VICTORY. Ukrainian President Leonid Kuchma has pledged to continue with the country's reform program, despite large gains by the Communists and their left-wing allies, AFP reported on 31 March. He commented that "despite the election results there will be no going back. Ukraine will pursue its reformist policy while cooperating with the parliament." But he also admitted that the results would be "a cold shower for some politicians." JM ESTONIA'S COALITION PARTY CONTINUES TO LOOK FOR PARTNERS. The Coalition Party is to continue talks with the Reform Party over extending the ruling coalition, despite the fact that the Rural Union--the junior member of the coalition--opposes the inclusion of the Reformists, ETA reported on 1 April. "Just as the Rural Union cannot give up a social market economy, so the Reform Party cannot abandon a liberal market economy," Rural Union Chairman Arvo Sirendi told BNS. The Pensioners and the Families Party, which is also a member of the coalition, has likewise rejected including the Reformists. Prime Minister Mart Siimann said on 31 March that if the Reform Party does not accept the invitation to join the minority government, he will call early elections. The Reform Party left the Coalition Party-led government at the end of 1996 over a cooperation agreement that the Coalition Party concluded with the Center Party. JC LATVIAN PRESIDENT SPEAKS OUT ON WAFFEN SS VETERANS PARADE. Guntis Ulmanis on 31 March issued a statement seeking to quell criticism over the parade in Riga earlier this month by veterans of the Latvian Waffen SS Legion (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 17 March 1998), BNS and Reuters reported. The legion was part of Latvia's "tragic past," Ulmanis said, adding that international society cannot be reproached for not being informed about "details of our history" and for not understanding "the complicated situation at that time in Latvia." But the president strongly criticized "senior officials" who attended the rally and other commemorative events. "Independent Latvia has no links with totalitarian occupying regimes, so the president believes the participation of [those] senior officals...contradicts Latvia's chosen path of forming a democratic European state." No government officals took part in the parade, but army commander Juris Dalbins and parliamentary speaker Alfreds Cepanis did. JC CZECH REPUBLIC ADMITS PROBLEMS ADJUSTING TO EU STANDARDS. Czech Foreign Minister Jaroslav Sedivy acknowledged on 31 March that his country will need extra time to meet some EU standards, an RFE/RL correspondent in Brussels reported. Sedivy, who is attending EU accession talks, said the Czech Republic needs a period of two to five years to upgrade environmental, transport, and agricultural sectors to EU levels. Sedivy added that the Czech Republic would tighten its eastern frontier when it joins the EU. PB CZECH PRESIDENT MEETS WITH DISSIDENTS. Vaclav Havel addressed some 1,000 former political prisoners in Prague on 31 March, CTK reported. He told the dissidents that they should always speak about their sufferings under the Communists so that the following generations do not take freedom for granted. Stanislav Drobny, the chairman of the Confederation of Political Prisoners, praised the speech but said more should be done by the state to bring former Communist repressors to justice. Havel, a former dissident himself, was criticized by some for not attending a reunion of former political prisoners last month. The president had cited health reasons for his absence. PB RATING AGENCY LOWERS SLOVAKIA'S GRADE. Moody's Investors Service said on 31 March that it has lowered its rating for Slovakia from level Baa3 to Ba1, TASR reported. The reduction lowers the evaluation of all Slovak National Bank bonds that have been sold on foreign financial markets. TASR did not report the reason for the lowered rating, but observers believe the political situation in the country was a factor. PB SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE UN VOTES ARMS EMBARGO ON BELGRADE. The UN Security Council on 31 March voted 14 to zero with China abstaining to place an arms embargo on President Slobodan Milosevic's Yugoslavia until his government launches unconditional talks with Kosovar representatives on the province's political status. Resolution 1160 "expresses support for an enhanced status for Kosovo that would include a substantially greater degree of autonomy and meaningful self-administration." The council also "calls upon the Kosovar Albanian leadership to condemn all terrorist action." Russian delegate Yurii Fedotov said his country's decision to back the measure was "extremely difficult for Russia." U.S. Ambassador Bill Richardson said that "the international community will not tolerate violence and ethnic cleansing in the region of the former Yugoslavia. We must avoid the mistakes of the past, when the international community waited too long before taking decisive action." PM MONTENEGRO WANTS INTERNATIONAL ROLE IN KOSOVO. Montenegrin President Milo Djukanovic told a French parliamentary delegation in Podgorica on 31 March that international "assistance is necessary for promoting a dialogue and defining the solution that would be acceptable for all sides involved." He added that "the only acceptable solution for Kosovo is the one that defines its status within the borders of Serbia and Yugoslavia." Djukanovic stressed that a further escalation of the [Kosovo] problem will undoubtedly lead to its spreading [throughout] the whole region." Belgrade's rejects international involvement in the Kosovo question on the grounds that the province's political status is a purely internal matter. Meanwhile in the Serbian capital, the government called on Kosovar leaders to take part in talks on 7 April in Pristina. The statement added that the situation in Kosovo is becoming calmer and praised the police "for successfully carrying out their functions," RFE/RL reported. PM GREECE SEEKS EUROPEAN, NOT U.S., INVOLVEMENT. Karolos Papoulias, who heads the Greek parliament's Foreign Relations Committee, said in Tirana on 31 March that Kosovo is a European problem. He added that "it would be painful to see that the EU was powerless to intervene [to solve] its own [European] problem," as was the case in Bosnia. Papoulias stressed "that Europe's language is much more understandable for the sides in the conflict than the U.S. language, which is the language of force." PM ALBANIAN PREMIER FAVORS AUTONOMY FOR KOSOVO. Fatos Nano told the parliament's Foreign Relations Committee on 31 March that the government urges Belgrade to grant Kosovo broad autonomy, "Koha Jone" reported. He added that the government hopes the Contact Group will take tough measures against Belgrade if Milosevic does not comply with the international community's latest demands (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 26 March 1998). The Republican Party's Sabri Godo, who heads the committee, demanded that the government call on NATO "to intervene in Kosovo in order to prevent violence," "Shekulli" reported. The alliance had turned down Tirana's previous request for NATO troops to patrol its own border with Yugoslavia (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 12 March 1998). FS UCK RETURNING IN FORCE? Armed and often uniformed soldiers of the Kosovo Liberation Army (UCK) have "suddenly" appeared in large numbers around several towns in Kosovo, Reuters reported from Djakovica on 31 March. The agency added that "finding a uniformed [UCK] member with a Kalashnikov assault rifle and a tactical radio is no more difficult than driving to an area known for its separatist tendencies and pulling off the main road. If you don't find the [UCK], they soon find you." PM SERBS PROTEST RETURN OF ALBANIAN INSTITUTE. Serbian students and faculty left the premises of the Albanian Studies Institute in Pristina on 31 March, taking furniture and files with them. They left behind posters protesting the recent agreement between Belgrade and the Kosovar leadership, which restores Albanian-language education in government school buildings in stages between 31 March and 30 June (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 24 March 1998). The institute, which the Serbian authorities in the 1980s regarded as a center of Albanian nationalism, is the first building to be returned to Albanian students and faculty. Serbian student spokesmen said they fear that ethnic Albanians will dominate Pristina University as a result of the agreement and that Serbs will have no future there. PM CROATIA APPROVES REFUGEE PLAN. The government has agreed on a package of measures aimed at facilitating the return of refugees to their former homes in Croatia, an RFE/RL correspondent reported from Zagreb on 31 March . Croatian diplomatic missions abroad will start issuing travel documents to refugees to enable them to travel to Croatia. This measure ends a catch-22 situation: refugees previously had to go to Croatia to pick up their documents but could not cross the border without those very documents. The government announced in a statement that 24,000 refugees in Yugoslavia and 3,500 in the Republika Srpska want to go home and that Zagreb has signed agreements with Belgrade and Banja Luka dealing with the two-way return of refugees. The government also said that it has asked Belgrade for permission to open consulates in Subotica and Kotor. PM BOSNIAN MUSLIM HOMES ATTACKED. International police spokesmen said in Mostar on 31 March that nine homes belonging to Muslims were mined, destroyed, or burned down from 26-28 March in the Croatian-controlled town of Stolac. In recent weeks, representatives of the international community sacked the town's mayor and police chief on the grounds that they encouraged attacks on Muslims and their property. PM MONTENEGRO OFFERS BOSNIA PORT. Jusuf Kalomperovic, who is Montenegro's minister for shipping and communications, told Bosnian Co-Prime Minister Haris Silajdzic in Sarajevo on 31 March that Montenegro will allow Bosnia to use the port of Bar. Bosnia and Croatia have been arguing for years over Bosnia's continued use of the Croatian port of Ploce, which is Bosnia's natural outlet to the sea. Meanwhile in Bari, Italy, police spokesmen said on 1 April that they have arrested Vaso Baosic, the police chief of Bar, on the suspicion that he is sheltering Italian Mafiosi in Bar. PM MONTENEGRO'S ALBANIANS GET FIRST MAGAZINE. Mustafa Canka of the Liberal Alliance party launched the publication in Ulcinj on 31 March of the bi-monthly news magazine "Liberal," which is Montenegro's first Albanian-language magazine. Some 45,000 of Montenegro's 630,000 people are ethnic Albanians, who live primarily in the southwestern border region with Albania. PM GREECE EXPELS THOUSANDS OF ALBANIANS. Greek police have expelled some 3,000 Albanian illegal immigrants during the past week, "Koha Jone" reported on 1 April. The newspaper adds that the expulsions are part of an apparently country-wide campaign that started in mid-March and has affected more than 5,000 people. The maximum number of returning Albanians on a single day at the Kakavia border crossing reached 800 on 31 March. FS PARTY LEADERS MEET WITH ROMANIAN PRESIDENT. The leaders of several political parties held talks with Emil Constantinescu on 31 March to discuss the formation of a new government, Rompres reported. It was agreed at the talks that the premier-designate will meet with representatives from the coalition parties to discuss forming the new cabinet. It was also agreed that Petre Roman's Democratic Party should rejoin the governing coalition. The other participants in the talks with Constantinescu were Ion Diaconescu (National Peasant Party Christian Democracy), Mircea Ionescu-Quintus (National Liberal Party), Varujan Vosganian (Romanian Alternative Party), Sergiu Cunescu (Social Democratic Party), Bella Marko (Hungarian Democratic Federation of Romania), and former President Ion Iliescu (Party of Social Democracy in Romania). Arguing that forming a new coalition government will not solve the country's problems, Ionescu called for fresh elections to be held. PB ROMANIAN MEDIA DISCUSSES POTENTIAL PREMIERS. Four people have been named in the press as potential candidates to replace Victor Ciorbea, who resigned on 30 March. Newspapers named economist Radu Vasile and Economy Minister Mircea Ciumara, both members of the National Peasant Party Christian Democracy, as favorites. National Bank Governor Mugur Isarescu and Sorin Dimitriu, the head of the state privatization agency, are also considered possible candidates. Financial markets and the national currency have remained stable in the wake of Ciorbea's resignation. Meanwhile, Bucharest Deputy Mayor Viorel Lis said on 31 March that a mayoral election could be held as early as this summer to find a successor to Ciorbea, who also resigned his mayorship. PB MOLDOVAN PRIME MINISTER SAYS ECONOMY IMPROVING. Ion Ciubuc told trade union leaders that an increase in industrial output could be the cornerstone of economic improvements this year, Infotag reported on 31 March. Ciubuc told leaders from the Moldovan Trade Union Federation that industrial output from January to March was 6-7 percent higher than the previous year. He said this could create a solid base for an improved economy in 1998. Ciubuc also said the government is preparing an economic package that will aim to pay pension and social payment arrears, which, he said, have reached 500 million lei ($10,593). PB THE DEMISE OF TURKISH COFFEE? by Patrick Moore with Lowell Bezanis, Liz Fuller, and Fabian Schmidt Turkish coffee, once an integral part of daily life throughout the former Ottoman Empire, is rapidly disappearing from many tables across the region. The arrival of Italian espresso machines in recent years has begun to transform a key element of popular culture in countries ranging from the former Yugoslavia to the republics of the Transcaucasus. One of the great culinary joys of visiting the Balkans for many foreign travelers has long been--together with grilled and roasted meats, baked peppers, and salty sheep's cheese--the once ubiquitous Turkish coffee. The drink is made by placing fine, powdered coffee into a brass or copper pot called a "dzezva" in Serbo-Croatian. Boiling water is added, and the mixture is boiled up. The technique is to repeatedly allow the brew to boil, sink back down, and then boil again. The product, which some say should take at least 15 minutes to prepare, is then poured from the dzezva into small round cups without handles, known in Serbo-Croat as "fildzani." It is served with a glass of water to offset the sweetness of the drink and to wash down the inevitable coffee grounds. In Bosnia, some say there is an ethnic dimension to preparing the coffee. Serbs, like Albanians and Greeks, mix sugar into the ground coffee and cook the sugar as part of the brew. Croats prefer to add sugar at the table, as is the custom in drinking all kinds of coffee in Central Europe. Muslims, for their part, generally sip the coffee with a piece of Turkish delight, or "lokum," placed in their mouths. However it is prepared, Turkish coffee has a social dimension that is unmistakably linked to the traditional, unhurried pace of life throughout the former Ottoman Empire. Serbs sometimes joke that the standard student breakfast consists of Turkish coffee, two cigarettes, and a copy of the thick Belgrade daily "Politika." Business throughout the Balkans is done and social ties cultivated over slowly sipped cups of the thick liquid that a Western writer once described as "black as night and sweet as sin." All this, however, seems to be changing. Already in the 1970s, more expensive hotels and coffee shops in Croatia and Slovenia began phasing out Turkish coffee in favor of Italian espresso. The bulwark of traditional coffee culture in much of the former Yugoslavia remained the local coffee house, in which men in dark berets would sit amid clouds of smoke under the watchful gaze of a black-and-white photograph of Marshal Josip Broz Tito. But such coffee houses are rapidly disappearing in favor of chic, modern establishments with Western-type furnishings. There are two reasons for the change. First, once a cafe owner has made the basic investment of buying an espresso machine, he or she faces a far less labor-intensive operation in serving up Italian coffee all day long than is the case in preparing its Turkish counterpart. Second, many people in the region--especially those who are young and/or wish to project the image of being cosmopolitan or upwardly mobile--regard drinking espresso as stylish and modern. Such people also regard sipping Turkish coffee as something for old men sitting under the Tito picture. Consequently, throughout much of the Balkans, one must now go to a large restaurant, traditional coffee house, or private home to find a dzezva full of the steaming, potent black brew. One cafe-owner in the Albanian town of Kruja tries to steer a middle path between coffee cultures by shooting boiling water from an Italian machine into each waiting dzezva and then continuing the Turkish coffee-brewing procedure in the traditional way. But the pattern of change in coffee-drinking habits varies from place to place. It takes skill to find Turkish coffee in central Sofia, Bulgaria, where fildzani seem to have disappeared altogether in favor of cups with handles. Greeks, however, religiously continue to drink their traditional brew--possibly more so per capita than their Turkish counterparts--but have dubbed it "Greek coffee," at least since 1974, when Turkey intervened on Cyprus. In Turkey, locally grown tea replaced highly taxed coffee decades ago as the beverage over which political and economic deals are negotiated. Last year, the "Turkish Daily News" bewailed the fact that, on the occasions when Turks do still drink coffee, they increasingly choose the instantly soluble, rather than the traditionally brewed variety. East of the Black Sea, so-called "oriental coffee" is widely available in Tbilisi cafes. And the art of predicting the future by deciphering the coffee grounds is still practiced there. But the real last bastion of oriental coffee may well be Armenia, where it is offered at all official meetings and where a wide selection of traditional brass coffee mills is available at Yerevan's weekend flea market. Lowell Bezanis is a Washington-based specialist on Turkey and Central Asia. 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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