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RFE/RL NEWSLINE Vol 2, No. 75 Part II, 20 April 1998
___________________________________________________________ RFE/RL NEWSLINE Vol 2, No. 75 Part II, 20 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 Headlines, Part II * UKRAINIAN PRESIDENT APPOINTS NEW FOREIGN MINISTER * HAVEL UNDERGOES SURGERY AGAIN * CHIRAC PLEDGES SUPPORT TO MONTENEGRO xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx EAST-CENTRAL EUROPE UKRAINIAN PRESIDENT APPOINTS NEW FOREIGN MINISTER. Leonid Kuchma has appointed Borys Tarasyuk, until now ambassador to the Benelux countries and NATO, as foreign minister. The 17 April appointment follows the resignation of Hennadiy Udovenko, who won a parliamentary seat and is reportedly seeking the post of speaker. Tarasyuk said after his nomination that he will "do everything possible to help integrate Ukraine into European and European-Atlantic structures and strengthen the country's independence by means of foreign policy," ITAR-TASS reported. He also affirmed that one of the Foreign Ministry's goals will be developing "normal and fruitful relations" with Russia. JM UKRAINIAN PREMIER ANNOUNCES CABINET RESHUFFLE. Valeriy Pustovoytenko on 17 April said that a number of other changes will be made to the cabinet within the next few days, ITAR-TASS reported. "Now it is necessary to considerably reinforce and improve the government team in order to speed up structural changes in the Ukrainian economy," ITAR-TASS quoted him as saying. JM UKRAINE TO DESTROY 40 STRATEGIC BOMBERS. Ukraine will destroy 40 Tu-160 and Tu-95 strategic bombers following the U.S.'s pledge to pay for their destruction, Reuters reported on 17 April, quoting Volodymyr Horbulin, secretary of the Ukrainian Council of National Security and Defense. Ukraine currently has 44 such aircraft, which are able to carry long-range nuclear missiles and stay in the air for 18 hours without refueling. "Two [planes] will be used as models to be put on display and two will be retrofitted for other uses," Horbulin told journalists. JM LUKASHENKA MAKES ANNUAL ADDRESS TO LEGISLATURE... In his yearly address to the National Assembly in Minsk on 17 April, Belarusian President Alyaksandr Lukashenka stressed that Russia is a "top priority" in Belarus' foreign policy, Belapan and ITAR-TASS reported. He said integration with Russia is demanded by Belarus's fundamental interests. "In case of need, we will defend on the Western frontier not only our Belarus but also our common fatherland, the Union of Belarus and Russia," Belapan quoted Lukashenka as saying. Lukashenka vowed the Belarusian economy will return to the Soviet-era level in 2001, adding that the state will continue controlling prices for oil and gas, public utilities, and transport. JM ...REJECTS CRITICISM OF HUMAN RIGHTS RECORD. In an interview with the German newspaper "Welt am Sonntag" on 19 April, Lukashenka rejected criticism from the Council of Europe over human rights violations in Belarus, dpa reported. Lukashenka said other former Soviet Union countries with records of bloodshed and violation of civil rights have not come under fire because they are "strategic partners of the West." JM ESTONIAN GOVERNMENT APPROVES GUIDELINES OF 1999 BUDGET. The cabinet on 19 April agreed that budget priorities next year will include ensuring law and order, regional and rural development, and increasing the salaries of workers in the spheres of education and culture, ETA reported. Economic growth is predicted at 5.5 percent and inflation at 8.5 percent. Increased revenues are planned from the sale of automobiles and luxury goods, excise duties on alcohol and tobacco products, and the sale of state property, according to a government spokesman. JC EU WANTS RIGA TO ACT QUICKLY ON CITIZENSHIP LAW. In a statement issued on 17 April, the EU urged Latvian lawmakers to quickly enact amendments to the country's citizenship law agreed on last week by a government working group, Reuters and BNS reported. "The EU has a strong interest in a satisfactory resolution of the differences over the treatment of non-Latvian citizens in Latvia," the statement said. Noting that it had earlier raised the issue in the context of Latvia's bid to join the union, the statement added that the EU considers it essential for the "government's program to match fully the standards established by the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe in this area.... The [EU] hopes that the Latvian parliament will take early action to adopt the government's decisions." JC GERMANY REPORTEDLY BACKS CHANGES TO LATVIAN CITIZENSHIP LAW. Following talks with his German counterpart, Klaus Kinkel, in Halle on 17 April, Latvian Foreign Minister Valdis Birkavs said that Germany supports the government's proposals for changing the citizenship law. Birkavs told BNS that at the same time, Kinkel had stressed Germany will insist that Latvia comply with the recommendations of the OSCE. By the same token, OSCE High Commissioner on National Minorities Max van der Stoel said on 17 April that he backs the proposed amendments, adding that "the criteria that should be followed are the recommendations of the OSCE, nothing more." And earlier the same day, Latvian Premier Guntars Krasts told Reuters that the only way to dispel the current tension between Moscow and Riga is to launch talks. Krasts underlined that Latvia is "open to dialogue." JC POLISH PRESIDENT DISCUSSES ADMINISTRATIVE REFORM. Aleksander Kwasniewski met with cabinet ministers and leaders of Poland's four major parties for some seven hours on 18 April to discuss administrative reform and local elections, "Gazeta Wyborcza" reported. A declaration issued after the meeting said that efforts will be made to launch administrative reform as of 1 January 1999. But no compromise was reached on the scope of the reform. The ruling Solidarity and Freedom Union bloc wants to replace the current 49 voivodships with 12 powerful and better- funded ones and to introduce a middle tier of local government. The opposition Democratic Left Alliance proposes creating 17 provinces instead of 12, while the Peasant Party wants to keep the current 49 provinces, invest them with greater powers, and hold a referendum on the issue. JM HAVEL UNDERGOES SURGERY AGAIN. Doctors at the University Clinic in Innsbruck have again operated on Czech President Vaclav Havel--the second surgical intervention in four days- -to clean up the president's bronchial tubes. Havel remains in drug-induced sleep, the doctors told journalists on 19 April. The doctors said Havel's life is not in danger and his vital organs are working "impeccably," although his breathing is still assisted by a respirator. The condition of his lungs has "dramatically improved," they said, but Havel will have to undergo treatment to clear them three times a day. Bronchial problems are frequent in patients with a history of lung problems, particularly after surgery to the abdomen, the doctors stressed. MS SLOVAK LOCAL COUNCIL DEFIANTLY HOLDS REFERENDUM. Ignoring Prime Minister Vladimir Meciar's warning, the local council in Sturovo held a referendum on 19 April on electing the country's president by popular vote and on joining NATO (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 16 April 1998). Mayor Jan Oravec said that turnout was some 50 percent and that of the 5,000 people who participated in the plebiscite, 70 percent voted in favor of direct presidential elections. He provided no other details, Reuters reported. Sturovo has a large Hungarian ethnic majority, but the local authorities deny accusations by pro-Meciar forces that Hungarian nationalists were behind the non-binding referendum. The central authorities in Bratislava refrained from dispatching police forces and the army to prevent the plebiscite from taking place, although they were publicly urged to do so by Meciar supporters. MS MECIAR SIGNALS READINESS TO LEGALIZE MONEY LAUNDERING. Prime Minister Vladimir Meciar on 17 April said tax evaders might be offered the chance of "laundering" illegal earnings if they invest in a three-year state bonds scheme, TASR reported. Meciar said "anyone" can invest in the bonds, even those whose earnings originated in "dirty money," and "no questions will be asked." In other news, Foreign Minister Zdenka Kramplova, who was on a visit to Dublin on 17 April, said Slovakia will continue seeking admission to the EU, NATO and the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development. Kramplova said the Slovaks "want to be the same as other Europeans," enjoying the benefits of secure borders and joint European security. MS MORE HUNGARIAN CANDIDATES REGISTER AT LAST MINUTE. The Central Electoral Office on 17 April announced that with the deadline for registration now passed, a total of 1,603 candidates representing 26 political parties have been registered for the upcoming elections (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 17 April Only the Socialists and the Smallholders will field candidates in all 176 constituencies. The Free Democrats are running in 175 electoral districts, followed by the Young Democrats-FIDESZ (173) and the Democratic Forum (172). In another development, People's Party chairman Ivan Szabo on 17 April announced he is suing Democratic Forum chairman Sandor Lezsak, who recently told the weekly "168 Ora" that before Szabo left the forum in 1996, he had "robbed it." MS HUNGARY, ITALY, SLOVENIA SET UP PEACEKEEPING FORCE. Italian Defense Minster Benjamino Andreatta and his Hungarian and Slovenian counterparts, Gyorgy Keleti and Alojiz Krapez, met in Udine on 18 April and signed an agreement on establishing a joint peacekeeping brigade, Hungarian media reported. The three countries' parliaments must ratify the accord. Keleti said the force will be ready for deployment by mid-1999 at the earliest. It will be under Italian command, while the deputy commander post will rotate between Hungary and Slovenia. MS SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE CHIRAC PLEDGES SUPPORT TO MONTENEGRO. French President Jacques Chirac told his Montenegrin counterpart, Milo Djukanovic, in Paris on 17 April that he is "concerned by the attitude" of Yugoslav officials and that France fully supports Montenegro, AFP reported. Chirac said he will initiate a request within the EU to grant aid to Montenegro. He stressed that dialogue is the only way to resolve the crisis in Kosova. Djukanovic said Chirac also pledged to try to spare Montenegro from any sanctions that may be imposed on the former Yugoslavia for its handling of the crisis. The Montenegrin president added that he had "extremely satisfactory" talks with Prime Minister Lionel Jospin and Foreign Minister Hubert Vedrine. PB BELGRADE, TIRANA ACCUSE EACH OTHER OF PROVOCATIONS. The Albanian parliament has called for NATO troops to be stationed along Kosova's border with Albania after reported incidents there, AFP reported on 18 April. The parliament voted unanimously that troops be sent to Kosova to prevent an "expansion of the conflict and [to protect the] civilian population in the province." The resolution came after ethnic Albanian groups reported that the Yugoslav army had moved troops near the Albanian border and that they were involved in shooting incidents there on 16 April. Meanwhile, a Yugoslav army statement said there was a "serious border incident" in which Albanians had fired shots at a joint Albanian-Yugoslav commission sent to investigate a shooting incident at the site earlier the same day. PB TALBOTT RULES OUT U.S. TROOPS IN KOSOVA. U.S. Deputy Secretary of State Strobe Talbott said on 18 April that the U.S. does not envision deploying troops in Kosova. Talbott made that statement after meeting with Albanian President Rexhep Meidani and Premier Fatos Nano in Tirana. But Talbott did stress that the U.S. will maintain its military presence in Macedonia. Talbott is in the Balkans for meetings ahead of a report to be given to the Contact Group in Rome on 29 April. Talbott said he hopes the Albanian government will persuade ethnic Albanians to refrain from violence during the crisis in Kosova. PB PLAVSIC ACCUSES MILOSEVIC OF INTERFERENCE IN BOSNIA. Bosnian Serb President Biljana Plavsic accused her Yugoslav counterpart, Slobodan Milosevic, of attempting to install nationalist politicians in the Bosnian Serb government, AFP reported on 18 April. Plavsic said in an interview with B-92 radio that Milosevic pressured Bosnian Serb Prime Minister Milorad Dodik to use members of the Serbian Democratic Party and the ultra-nationalist Radical Party to replace certain ministers in Dodik's government. Plavsic accused Milosevic of attempting to halt the work of Dodic's moderate government. She added that she is opposed to further sanctions against Yugoslavia, which, she said, could result in hundreds of thousands of refugees returning to Bosnia. PB DEPUTY MAYOR SACKED AFTER DEATH OF SERBIAN COUPLE. Carlos Westendorp, the international community's high representative in Bosnia-Herzegovina, has dismissed the deputy mayor of Drvar in response to the murder of a Serbian couple in the Croat-controlled town, AFP reported. Westendorp said "hardliners...will not stop the return process and we will not tolerate any obstructions or violence." Drago Tokmakcija, a Croat, was fired from his post on 17 April for failing to uphold the Dayton peace accords, which allow for all refugees the right of return to their homes. Tokmakcija said on Bosnian television that his sacking is an attempt to "spread fear among Croats." Westendorp also ordered that 15 Serbs be added to the police force in the town. The couple was among some 1,000 Serbs that have returned to the northwestern town of Drvar--which was overwhelmingly Serb before the war--to reclaim their homes. The mayor of Drvar is an ethnic Serb. PB CROATIAN PARLIAMENT DEBATES RETURN OF SERB REFUGEES. Deputies on 17 April began to review a government plan on the repatriation of ethnic Serbian refugees to Croatia. Deputy Jadranka Kosor said the plan is based on the simple right of each person to return to the home they had before the war. saying this is provided for by the Croatian constitution as well as the Dayton accords. As many as 180,000 Serbs fled Croatia in 1995 when it recaptured Croatian territory that had been seized by Serbs. Croatian President Franjo Tudjman has said that Serbs are welcome to return to Croatia but that a huge influx of them would create an unstable situation that could lead to violence. PB MACEDONIAN OFFICIAL RESIGNS OVER AFFAIR ALLEGATIONS. Katerina Kocevska, the cultural adviser to Macedonian President Kiro Gligorov, resigned on 17 April over allegations that she had an affair with Gligorov, AFP reported. Gligorov said the press reports, which referred to him as the "Macedonian Clinton," were an "unscrupulous attempt" to hurt his reputation ahead of parliamentary elections later this year. Kocevska, a former actress, said the allegations have damaged her and her family and forced her resignation. PB ALBANIAN PRIME MINISTER ACCUSES PRESIDENT OF PROVOKING CRISIS. Fatos Nano said on 18 April that President Rexhep Meidani is throwing the country into a political crisis after he refused to approve most of Nano's new ministers in a cabinet reshuffle, Reuters reported. Meidani agreed the previous day to only two of the nine ministers presented to him by Nanos, whose Socialist Party called on the president to correct "this absurd situation." Nanos argued that Meidani should have jurisdiction only over the nomination of the prime minister and that his rejection of the ministers "without necessary explanations" put the country into an "institutional crisis." A statement from the President's Office said there is no power vacuum as a result of Meidani's decision because previously sacked ministers would maintain their posts until the president approved a new cabinet. Also on 18 April, Meidani sacked Interior Minister Neritan Ceka, ATA reported. He was replaced by Perikli Teta, until now a deputy defense minister. PB ROMANIAN CABINET SWORN IN. President Emil Constantinescu on 17 April swore in the members of Radu Vasile's cabinet, RFE/RL's Bucharest bureau reported. Constantinescu said the government cannot afford to fail in its task. He added that while Victor Ciorbea's government had been "one of hope," Vasile's "must be one of certainty," because following the recent political crisis, reforms and privatization have slowed down and have negatively affected Romania's image and attraction for foreign investors. A government "can lose a battle, but the population cannot afford to lose the war [for reform and economic recovery] and it will not lose it," the president said. In a televised address marking Orthodox Easter on 19 April, Constantinescu called on the country to "overcome the moral crisis" that runs parallel to the economic one by "rediscovering its traditional Christian values." MS OPPOSITION PARTY CHOOSES CANDIDATE FOR BUCHAREST MAYOR. The Party of Social Democracy in Romania (PDSR) on 17 April selected surgeon Sorin Oprescu as its candidate for mayor of Bucharest, RFE/RL's Bucharest bureau reported. The mayoralty became vacant after Ciorbea resigned both as premier and as mayor of Bucharest last month. The Greater Romania Party has already announced it will back police-general Niculae Nitu for the job. The Democratic Party said it will not back the candidate of the Democratic Convention of Romania, who is likely to be acting Bucharest Mayor Viorel Lis. The PDSR says the Democrats may back Oprescu if the race is decided in a runoff. The date of the election has not yet been fixed. MS LUCINSCHI, SNEGUR ON COALITION PARLEYS. Returning to Chisinau from Germany, where he recently underwent surgery, President Petru Lucinschi said he "regrets" the fact that the parleys under way for setting up the new coalition have "stalled over the distribution of portfolios." Lucinschi said he intends to re-establish contacts with the leaders of all factions elected to the new parliament in order to give new impetus to the talks, BASA-press reported on 17 April. Meanwhile, Mircea Snegur, the co-chairman of the Democratic Convention of Moldova, told "Nezavisimaya Moldova" on 17 April that he is "worried" about rumors that Lucinschi would like the coalition to include all parties represented in the legislature. Snegur said reform will not be possible if the Communists are in the coalition, adding that the only viable alternative is a center-right government. MS BULGARIAN INTERIOR MINISTRY OFFICIALS RESIGN. Two state secretaries at the Ministry of Interior and the chief of the border police resigned on 17 April, BTA reported. They offered no reason for their resignations, but the media reported that the two secretaries, Liutskan Liutskanov and Georgi Georgiev and the border police chief, Georgi Teterekov, were suspected of having tolerated violations of border and customs regulations, RFE/RL's Sofia bureau reported. MS xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx Copyright (c) 1998 RFE/RL, Inc. All rights reserved. xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx HOW TO SUBSCRIBE Send an email to email@example.com with the word "subscribe" as the subject or body of the message. 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