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RFE/RL NEWSLINE Vol 2, No. 81 Part II, 28 April 1998
___________________________________________________________ RFE/RL NEWSLINE Vol 2, No. 81 Part II, 28 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 * UKRAINE POSTPONES RESTARTING CHORNOBYL REACTOR * U.S. MAY 'GO IT ALONE' ON KOSOVA * OSCE DISPUTES SERBIAN VERSION OF CLASHES End Note: BENEFITING FROM NATO EXPANSION xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx EAST-CENTRAL EUROPE UKRAINE POSTPONES RESTARTING CHORNOBYL REACTOR. Chornobyl nuclear plant director Serhiy Parashyn has announced that the restarting of the plant's third reactor following repairs will be postponed until mid-May, Ukrainian Television reported on 27 April. According to Parashyn, the European Bank For Reconstruction and Development requested the postponement on behalf of the 3,000 delegates who are to attend an EBRD annual conference in Kyiv in 8-12 May and fear for their safety. French experts have found cracks in the reactor's circulation system, Western news agencies reported last week. JM BELARUSIAN PRISONERS' ASSOCIATION SET UP IN MINSK. Opposition politicians, journalists, and writers have set up a Belarusian Association of Prisoners of the Lukashenka Regime in Minsk, Belapan reported on 26 April. The association unites people who have been imprisoned for political activities under the regime of Alyaksandr Lukashenka. It includes poet Slavamir Adamovich, journalist Pavel Sharamet, and Belarusian Popular Front Deputy Chairman Yury Khadyka. The organization has adopted a statement demanding that trials of current political prisoners be fully open. JM BELARUSIAN OPPOSITIONIST REJECTED KGB RECRUITMENT BID. Pavel Karnazytski, the 22-year-old former chairman of the opposition Social Democratic Party youth organization, disclosed at a news conference in Minsk on 24 April that he had rejected an attempt by the Belarusian KGB to recruit him, RFE/RL's Belarusian Service reported. Karnazytski said he resigned his party post after he was approached by a man who identified himself as KGB Captain "Uhulanitsa" and showed him a document bearing Karnazytski's signature under an alleged agreement to work for the KGB. He claims he never agreed to work for the organization but recalls that he was abducted last summer by Uhulanitsa and several other men in civilian clothes, who interrogated and sought to intimidate him. Karnazytski said he passed out and regained consciousness on a park bench in the city center. JM ESTONIAN FOREIGN MINISTER URGES EU TO SUPPORT LATVIA. Toomas Hendrik Ilves told visiting Irish Prime Minister Bertie Ahern on 27 April that the EU should come out in support of Latvia, ETA reported. Ilves said that in the current situation, Latvia needs the firm backing of the EU, which last week advised Russia not to use trade and economic sanctions against Latvia (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 27 April 1998). According to the Estonian foreign minister, since Tallinn began accession talks with the EU, Estonian-Russian relations have started to improve. JC RUSSIAN, LITHUANIAN PRESIDENTS DISCUSS BILATERAL RELATIONS. In their first direct contact, Boris Yeltsin and Valdas Adamkus discussed bilateral relations by telephone on 27 April, BNS and ITAR-TASS reported. According to the Lithuanian presidential office, the two leaders expressed the desire to further develop those relations in the spirit of good neighborliness, stressing the need for political dialogue, expanding trade links, and boosting cooperation between Lithuania and Kaliningrad Oblast. The Kremlin press office reported that they also focused on Lithuanian Prime Minister Gediminas Vagnorius's visit to Moscow in June. With regard to Russian-Latvian relations, the Baltic news agency quoted Adamkus as telling Yeltsin that he believes Riga will take the necessary steps to ensure the rights of ethnic minorities, while Yeltsin expressed the hope that Latvia will follow Lithuania's example. JC RIGHTIST TRADE UNION PROTESTS MINING RESTRUCTURING PLAN. Some 100 members of the right-wing August 80 Free Trade Union have protested the government's plan to cut jobs and streamline production in the coal mining sector (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 15 and 21 April 1998), "Zycie Warszawy" reported. Gathering in Katowice, the protesters burned the EU flag and threw eggs at a building where an international conference attended by EU officials was taking place. They then stormed the Solidarity regional headquarters and broke into Solidarity leader Marian Krzaklewski's office. The trade unionists fear the restructuring announced by the Solidarity-led government will "liquidate the Polish coal mining industry." JM POLISH SUPERSPY VISITS HOMELAND AFTER 17 YEARS. Ryszard Kuklinski, Poland's most famous spy for the CIA during the communist era, visited his homeland on 27 April after 17 years in exile. Kuklinski fled Poland in 1981 after informing the CIA about the communist regime's plan to impose martial law. A Polish military court sentenced him to death on charges of treason and desertion. He was fully rehabilitated only in September 1997. A recent opinion poll in Poland showed that more than 25 percent of Poles still think Kuklinski committed treason. On his arrival, Kuklinski was welcomed by Prime Minister Jerzy Buzek. He is to tour six Polish cities. JM POLL SHOWS CZECH SUPPORT FOR NATO DWINDLING. According to an opinion poll conducted by the Institute for Public Opinion Research, support for joining NATO in the Czech Republic dropped from 54 percent in March to 50 percent this month. Of those who support membership in the alliance, 22 percent said the government should "definitely try to join the alliance" and 28 percent said it "should try to join" it, CTK reported. MS MECIAR ORDERS STOP OF NUCLEAR FUEL LOADING. Slovakia's state-owned electricity company on 27 April started loading nuclear fuel into a reactor at the Mochovce power plant, Reuters reported. But after meeting with Austrian Chancellor Viktor Klima in Vienna the same day, Prime Minister Vladimir Meciar told journalists he has ordered the loading to stop. An Austrian team of experts is to check the safety of the plant on 5-7 May. Meciar did not say whether Slovakia would take any action if the team found the plant to be unsafe. The Soviet-designed nuclear plant, which is due to begin operating this summer, is close to the Austrian border and has been the target of protests by anti-nuclear activists from both countries. MS UKRAINIAN FOREIGN MINISTER IN HUNGARY. In his first trip abroad as Ukrainian foreign minister, Boris Tarasyuk said in Budapest on 27 April that his country supports a pro- European foreign policy, Hungarian media reported. Tarasyuk's Hungarian counterpart, Laszlo Kovacs, said Hungary has a vested interest in seeing a democratic, independent, and stable Ukraine and seeks to expand bilateral trade, border cooperation, and joint efforts toward fighting organized crime. He told Tarasyuk that Hungary will support Ukraine's integration into international bodies such as the EU and NATO and asked him to continue pursuing minority policies that are in line with European norms. MSZ VOTER PREFERENCES IN HUNGARY. The governing Socialists are considered the most suitable party to head a government, but the public is more sympathetic to the Federation of Young Democrats-Hungarian Civic Party (FIDESZ-MPP), according to the results of a poll published in the 28 April "Nepszava." FIDESZ-MPP is the favored party of intellectuals, entrepreneurs, and young people, while older people and pensioners tend to prefer the Socialists. "Magyar Nemzet" reports that the Socialists' support outweighs that of FIDESZ-MPP in Budapest and in villages, while FIDESZ-MPP leads in medium-sized towns. The two parties are leading all opinion polls ahead of the 10 May general elections. MSZ SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE U.S. MAY 'GO IT ALONE' ON KOSOVA. An unnamed top U.S. official said in Washington on 27 April that the U.S. will propose a package of both positive and negative incentives at the international Contact Group meeting in Rome on 29 April. The aim of the measures is to persuade Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic to end the violence in Kosova and launch talks with representatives of the ethnic Albanian majority there about the province's future. The official said that Washington is prepared "to show much more leadership" on the political and diplomatic fronts if the Contact Group does not accept the package unaltered. The official stressed that "consensus is not [Washington's] goal; a strong substantive package is the goal. We will not settle for an agreement just for the sake of an agreement. We will not settle for a lowest common denominator solution." PM EU FOREIGN MINISTERS TAKE MEASURES AGAINST SERBIA. The foreign ministers of the EU member countries agreed in Luxembourg on 27 April to ban the export of police equipment and armored vehicles to Serbia and to deny visas to Serbian officials. The ministers turned down a proposal to freeze export credits already approved for Belgrade, the "Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung" wrote. They took no decision on a proposed freeze of Serbian assets abroad. The ministers praised Macedonia as a "stabilizing factor" in the Balkans and approved an emergency credit of $3.3 million for Montenegro. They agreed that there has been no improvement in relations between the EU on the one hand and Bosnia, Croatia, and Yugoslavia on the other. Meanwhile in Thessaloniki, Greek Defense Minister Akis Tsochatzopoulos said that Kosova is "a hand grenade, and if we pull the pin just a little bit more, it will explode." PM OSCE DISPUTES SERBIAN VERSION OF CLASHES... Daan Everts, who is the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe's ambassador to Albania, said in Tirana on 27 April that he calls into question Serbian charges that large numbers of fighters of the Kosovo Liberation Army (UCK) recently crossed into Yugoslavia from Albania (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 27 April 1998). Everts added that "that must have been an incident much deeper [within Kosova]. I haven't even seen proper confirmation there, and it's been all Serb sources. There is reason to be suspicious of this reporting out of that area unless it is really documented properly." The ambassador argued that Albania does not support hostile acts against Yugoslavia and has shown "great restraint" in the Kosovar crisis. Everts suggested that Belgrade wants world opinion to think that Albania is partly responsible for the crisis in order to reduce pressures for new sanctions against Yugoslavia. PM ...AS DO KOSOVARS. In Prishtina, Kosovar spokesmen said on 27 April that some of the bodies of Kosovars killed in recent days by the Serbian paramilitary police and the Yugoslav army have no bullet wounds. The spokesmen charged that the authorities executed the ethnic Albanians well inside Yugoslav territory after capturing them in recent raids on villages. Also in the Kosovar capital, the leading Democratic League of Kosova said in a statement that the Serbian campaign of violence and "psychological warfare" is aimed at promoting "ethnic cleansing" by forcing Kosovars to flee the province. Meanwhile in Moscow, Foreign Minister Yevgenii Primakov stated on 28 April that his ministry "possesses information that there are camps for training terrorists in Albania" and that this information is known to all the Contact Group countries, ITAR-TASS reported. PM DID SERBIAN COMMANDOS ENTER ALBANIA? Albanian Interior Ministry officials told "Koha Jone" and "Gazeta Shqiptare" on 27 April that approximately 10 soldiers entered the village of Pogaj in the Has Mountains from Kosova in the night of 25 April. Villagers told police that the soldiers wore masks, spoke broken Albanian and claimed to be from the UCK. The men asked the villagers about where to make contact with UCK fighters in Albania, to which the villagers did not reply. The intruders then asked some locals to guide them back into Kosova, which the villagers refused to do. The villagers, suspecting that the visitors were Serbian soldiers on an intelligence mission, alerted the Albanian police. FS MONTENEGRO BARS YUGOSLAV TV CHANNEL. Montenegrin Information Minister Bozidar Jaredic said in a 27 April letter to his Yugoslav counterpart, Goran Matic, that Montenegro will not relay the signals of the federal station RTJ, which went on the air the same day. Jaredic said Podgorica has no objection to creating a federal television station, but he added that it must be independent and its activities transparent. He noted that Montenegro has no say in the activities of RTJ, an RFE/RL correspondent reported from Podgorica. PM KINKEL WARNS TUDJMAN ON BOSNIA. German Foreign Minister Klaus Kinkel said in a letter to Croatian President Franjo Tudjman on 27 April that he expects Croatia to help end attacks by Croats in Drvar against recently returned Serbian refugees. "I ask you to urgently help to put an immediate end to the violence against Serbs.... This recalls the time of ethnic cleansing [which] must not be repeated." Kinkel added that it is "not acceptable that Serbian apartments be ransacked and possessions torched" (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 27 April 1998). Meanwhile in Tuzla, a UN police spokesman said on 28 April that peacekeepers removed the Serbian roadblock on the Doboj-Tuzla highway during the night and that Muslims took down their own roadblock at the same time. PM TIRANA ROUNDTABLE ON KOSOVA FAILS TO PRODUCE RESOLUTION. A roundtable that included representatives of Albania's main political parties failed to draft a joint resolution on Kosova in time for the 29 April Contact Group meeting. The session broke up after Democratic Party General Secretary Ridvan Bode demanded the resignation of the current government and the setting up of a new government of experts to "defend pan-national interests." Government representatives at the roundtable declined to discuss that demand, BETA news agency reported. FS ALBANIAN CONSTITUTIONAL COURT ELECTS NEW CHIEF JUSTICE. The Constitutional Court on 27 April elected Socialist legislator Fehmi Abdiu as chief justice, Albanian state-run television reported. Abdiu, who is currently head of the parliament's legal commission, replaces Rustem Gjata. Legislators voted to sack Gjata last month after the parliamentary lustration committee charged him with having cooperated with the communist-era secret service (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 16 March 1998). FS IMF CHIEF NEGOTIATOR IN ROMANIA. Poul Thompsen, who is on a three-day visit to Romania, met with Premier Radu Vasile and Finance Minister Daniel Daianu on 27 April, RFE/RL's Bucharest bureau reported. Daianu told journalists that Thompsen's visit was aimed not at negotiating the terms of a new stand-by loan but at "getting acquainted" with the new government and its program. He added that a team of IMF negotiators will come to Bucharest at a later date to discuss the terms of a new stand-by agreement. Vasile said last week that Romania would like the IMF to agree to an increase in the budget deficit from 3.5 percent of GDP to about 4.5 percent. He also said Bucharest would like to negotiate a three-year stand-by accord. An existing agreement expires next month. MS FALLOUT FROM CIGARETTE-SMUGGLING AFFAIR. The opposition Party of Social Democracy in Romania is demanding that the parliament set up a special commission to investigate the "cigarette-smuggling affair," RFE/RL's Bucharest bureau reported on 27 April. The same day, presidential counselors Zoe Petre and Dorin Marian asked the Prosecutor-General's Office to launch criminal proceedings against Senator Corneliu Vadim Tudor. Both counselors say Tudor libeled them in the letter he addressed to several Euro-Atlantic organizations about the affair (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 27 April 1998). Meanwhile, the Prosecutor-General's office said it has issued a warrant for the arrest of Protection and Guard Service Colonel Gheorghe Trutulescu in connection with the affair. Trutulescu took leave of absence when the affair was uncovered and has not returned to his workplace. MS BULGARIA, RUSSIA SETTLE GAS DISPUTE. Bulgarian Deputy Prime Minister Evgeni Bakardzhiev and visiting Gazprom chief Rem Vyakhirev have signed an agreement on gas deliveries, an RFE/RL correspondent in Sofia reported on 27 April. The agreement, which is valid until 2010, provides for expanding Russian pipeline transit rights across Bulgaria to Turkey, Greece, Macedonia, and Serbia. Vyakhirev declined to give details about the price of Russian gas deliveries to Bulgaria but said some of the payment will take the form of barter trade and pipeline construction work. Gazprom recently acquired a 100 percent stake in Topenergy--the firm that had the monopoly in Bulgaria on gas supplies and was a joint venture between Gazprom, state-owned Bulgargas, and Bulgaria's private conglomerate Multigroup. MS END NOTE BENEFITING FROM NATO EXPANSION by Paul Goble As the debate on NATO expansion intensifies, its supporters are pointing to the benefits it offers to new members, while its opponents are calling attention to how a larger NATO might harm Moscow's relationship with the West. But neither side in this ongoing debate has acknowledged that the expansion of the Western alliance--at least in the way that it is now taking place--may ultimately bring the greatest benefits not so much to the new members but to Russia itself--the country that some people suggest the alliance is still directed against. First, in managing the expansion of NATO, Western countries have worked hard to give Moscow an unprecedented role in alliance decision-making. The NATO-Russia Charter signed last June certainly grants the Russian government a voice, if not a veto, in what the alliance will do in the future. Indeed, as Russian diplomats have regularly pointed out, Moscow obtained a seat in NATO councils long before the alliance offered membership to any of the other former Warsaw Pact states. The new Russian presence at alliance headquarters in Brussels means that the alliance itself has been transformed even before it has expanded. Second, in the course of the often intense public discussions about the expansion of the alliance, Western leaders have been at pains to specify what the alliance will and will not do in Eastern Europe. They have made commitments about the basing of various kinds of weaponry, the level of integration of commands, and transparency of the alliance with respect to Russia. In virtually every case, those Western statements have been intended to reassure Moscow that, as all alliance spokesman point out, NATO is not and never will be directed against Russia. Some have even suggested that at some future time, Russia itself could join the alliance, which was created to contain its Soviet predecessor. Consequently, even as Russian officials, politicians and commentators have complained about the growth of NATO, they have often welcomed, if far more quietly, those alliance commitments as a form of Western acknowledgment of a special Russian role in Eastern Europe and especially on the territory of the former Soviet Union. Moreover, the most thoughtful of Russian commentators have noted that the process of NATO expansion has led the West to make commitments to Moscow that it could not have made any other way. Third, the expansion of the alliance eastward benefits Russia in ways that many Russians may not appreciate now but will likely see in the future as a major force pushing for the democratic reform of that country and its further integration into Europe. By including some of the countries of Eastern Europe into its ranks, NATO effectively removes them as possible targets for those in Russia who would like to reverse the events of recent years or at least project Russian power in ways that will likely make it more difficult for Russia to reform itself. On the one hand, by providing a security guarantee to the new members, NATO will help transform the political debate in those countries, just as it did in Western Europe four decades ago. By taking foreign policy out of the center of that debate, NATO will give those countries both a chance to direct their primary energies to domestic affairs and the confidence to deal with Russia less as a political threat than as an economic opportunity. And on the other hand, by defining more precisely the immediate international environment within which Moscow must operate, the Western alliance will help to limit the influence of nationalists in Russia who may be interested in reversing the changes following the collapse of the Soviet Union. But as was the case when NATO introduced forces into Bosnia, the chief beneficiaries of the alliance's preparations for expansion will be Russian reformers who find a way to use the opportunities the alliance offers rather than simply oppose it for domestic purposes. xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx Copyright (c) 1998 RFE/RL, Inc. 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