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RFE/RL NEWSLINE Vol 2, No. 87 Part II, 7 May 1998
___________________________________________________________ RFE/RL NEWSLINE Vol 2, No. 87 Part II, 7 May 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 SIGNS NUCLEAR COOPERATION ACCORD WITH U.S. * HORN ATTACKS RIGHTIST PARTIES AS CAMPAIGN HEATS UP * PARIS, BONN WEIGH OPTIONS ON KOSOVA xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx *** Note to readers: RFE/RL Newsline will not appear on Friday, 8 May, a holiday in the Czech Republic. *** EAST-CENTRAL EUROPE UKRAINE SIGNS NUCLEAR COOPERATION ACCORD WITH U.S. Ukrainian Foreign Minister Borys Tarasyuk and U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Steven Pifer signed in Kyiv on 6 May a cooperation agreement on atomic energy, ITAR-TASS reported. Under the agreement, the United States will allot $30 million for working out technical documentation regarding the creation of a nuclear fuel cycle for VVER-1000 reactors in Ukraine. The United States has stipulated that Ukraine should not supply nuclear turbines for the construction of the Bushehr nuclear plant in Iran. "This accord will allow the development of the strategic partnership between the United States and Ukraine," AFP quoted Tarasyuk as saying. JM LEONID KUCHMA TO REPLACE 90 PERCENT OF REGIONAL LEADERS... The Ukrainian president said at a meeting with administration chiefs of Chernihiv Oblast on 6 May that he intends to replace 90 percent of Ukraine's regional leaders, Interfax reported. "The governors' promises have nothing to do with what they actually do," Kuchma commented. JM ... TO ANNOUNCE 'UNPOPULAR DECISIONS' AT PARLIAMENT'S OPENING. The president also said he is going to address the nation at the parliament's opening on 12 May. His address will mostly deal with what he called "unpopular decisions" regarding the budget deficit and other budget figures, Interfax reported. JM STRIKING MINERS THREATEN TO LAUNCH RIOTS. Striking coal miners in Ukraine threatened on 6 May to take to the streets. "Miners from the Luhansk region say they are ready to seize trains and move to Kyiv to beat people who do not want to pay their wages," Mykhaylo Volynets, head of the Ukrainian Independent Miners Trade Union, told Reuters. Volynets also said the strike over wage arrears has involved 130,000 miners from 57 mines on its fourth day. JM COMMUNISTS TO HAVE LARGEST PARLIAMENTARY FACTION. The Communist Party will have the largest faction in the Ukrainian Supreme Council with 125 members, Ukrainian Television reported on 6 May. The Communists are followed by factions of the Popular Democratic Party (77 deputies), the Popular Rukh (51), and the Hromada party (41). JM BELARUSIAN WOMEN ASK HILLARY CLINTON FOR HELP. Six Belarusian women, mothers or wives of persecuted opposition activists, presented U.S. Ambassador to Belarus Daniel Speckhard on 6 May with a letter to Hillary Clinton asking her for support for political prisoners and human rights activists in Belarus, RFE/RL's Belarusian Service reported. The letter protests against political repression in Belarus and "the transformation of all of us into Lukashenka's voiceless slaves." It also states that since the beginning of 1997 the Belarusian authorities have subjected more than 1,500 people to different kinds of political repression. JM PLANS DROPPED FOR EARLY ESTONIAN ELECTIONS. Estonia's ruling minority coalition government on 6 May decided not to call for early general elections, BNS reported. At the same time, Prime Minister Mart Siimann's party asked him to remain its leader, thus quashing speculation that he would resign in favor of someone else. PG LATVIAN BOMBING DRAWS RUSSIAN PROTEST, LATVIAN PROMISES. The 4 May bombing of a World War II monument in Dobele, a Latvian city 70 kilometers south of Riga, prompted a sharp response from the Russian Foreign Ministry and a Latvian promise to bring those responsible to justice, Interfax and BNS reported. The Russian foreign ministry said that this act of vandalism was only a further link "in the same chain" of events that have marred Latvian-Russian relations so far this year. The Latvian government responded by saying that it would work to restore the monument before 9 May, the day Russians mark as the anniversary of the end of World War II. In a related development, 120 public organizations in the Kuzbas region denounced Latvia's policies toward its ethnic Russian residents, Itar-Tass reported on 6 May. PG NATO AMBASSADORS CRITICIZE MOSCOW'S PRESSURE ON LATVIA. The ambassadors of NATO countries resident in Riga criticized on 6 May the Russian Federation's use of economic pressure on Latvia, BNS reported. They said that such pressure was inappropriate in the context of a search for solutions to any bilateral problems. Meanwhile, on the same day, U.S. and Latvian defense officials met to discuss how Riga can implement an American Defense Department plan to upgrade the Latvian military. PG LATVIAN GOVERNMENT APPROVES CITIZENSHIP LAW CHANGES. Acting on the advice of the OSCE High Commissioner for National Minorities, Max van der Stoel, the Latvian cabinet approved a change to the country's citizenship legislation that would grant citizenship to all children born in Latvian after 21 August 1991 regardless of the citizenship of their parents, the Riga newspaper "Diena" reported on 6 May. The only restriction is that the parents must have been living legally in Latvia for at least five years. The Latvian authorities had earlier proposed allowing such children to apply for citizenship at age 16 but Van der Stoel suggested that such an arrangement was inconsistent with international standards and would provoke a negative response in Europe. PG NEW LITHUANIAN LAW TO BRING ARMY UP TO NATO STANDARDS. The Lithuanian parliament on 5 May passed a new national defense law intended to bring the country's military arrangements up to NATO standards, BNS reported. In another move with possible NATO implications, the leaders of Lithuania's Klaipeda region have signed a broad cooperation agreement with Poland's Olsztyn region that will increase contacts between Lithuania and a country that appears set to become a NATO country in the current round of expansion. PG ROW ABOUT CONTROL OVER POLISH TELEVISION. The recent appointment of a new director of the Polish Television First Program has incited a harsh squabble between Polish right- and left-wing politicians, "Zycie Warszawy" reported on 7 April. The Polish Television Supervisory Board, which was formed under the former, left-wing government, is widely believed to be dominated by leftists. The ruling coalition accuses them of making politically biased appointments to key television posts. Jan Litynski, a parliamentarian from the coalition Freedom Union, told "Zycie Warszawy" that the leftists treat television as their "private farm," and called for "taking into account the existence of different political forces." JM HAVEL RETURNS TO PRAGUE. Czech President Vaclav Havel flew back to Prague on 6 May from Austria. Havel walked from the ambulance plane and was greeted by Prime Minister Josef Tosovsky and other officials. Havel, who underwent emergency abdominal surgery on 14 April and had two successive operations while in hospital, will spend at least the next 10 days in a military hospital. He will need another operation, once he has recuperated, to remove an artificial bowel. The head of Havel's medical council, Miroslav Cerbak, said that the operation would probably not take place until after the parliamentary elections scheduled for 19 and 20 June. PB FREEDOM HOUSE DEFENDS LOW RATING OF SLOVAKIA'S PRESS. Leonard Sussman, the director of the U.S.-based organization Freedom House, said that an evaluation of the Slovak media as being "partially free" is justified, TASR reported on 7 May. Sussman said a "fundamental change of relations between government and media must take place" before the rating would be upgraded. Sussman did say that there is "lively" media in Slovakia, but added that many journalists in Slovakia complain of not being completely free. Several media organizations had complained about the designation when it was released on 1 May (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 5 May 1998). PB HORN ATTACKS RIGHTIST PARTIES AS CAMPAIGN HEATS UP. Hungarian Prime Minister Gyula Horn told voters that they have a choice in the upcoming elections between a "European left" and an "outdated, hateful, shifting alliance of the right," Reuters reported on 6 May. Horn, speaking to a crowd of about 1,000 trade union supporters, said he was "afraid for this country" if right-wing parties such as the Independent Smallholders Party and the nationalist Hungarian Justice and Life Party (MIEP) were to join a governing coalition. The Federation of Young Democrats, which is running second behind Horn's Socialists in opinion polls, distanced itself from the MIEP by issuing a statement saying it had nothing to do with the extremist party or its ideology. Former Polish President Lech Walesa was in Hungary over the weekend campaigning with Viktor Orban and the Young Democrats. Some 1,602 candidates and 26 parties will contest the election, which will be decided in two rounds, the first one on 10 May and the second round two weeks later. At stake are the 386 seats in the unicameral parliament. PB SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE NATO SAYS NO TROOPS TO ALBANIA... NATO ambassadors agreed at their weekly meeting in Brussels on 6 May to reject again Albania's calls for the alliance to establish a presence on that country's border with Kosova. An unnamed spokesman nonetheless told AFP that the alliance will try to help Albania help itself within the framework of the Partnership for Peace program. The spokesman added that NATO is "taking a second look" at an Italian proposal to hold maneuvers in Albania. Europe's poorest country wants a NATO presence because it is in no position to defend itself; its military has not recovered from the ravages of last year's anarchy. Albania's border with Kosova is mountainous and difficult to control completely. Tirana also feels that a NATO presence would deprive Belgrade of the excuse that its crackdown in the border region is a response to provocations from the Albanian side of the frontier. PM ...BUT PARIS, BONN WEIGH OPTIONS. Unnamed German government officials told Reuters at the Franco-German summit in Avignon on 7 May that the defense and foreign ministers of the two countries are considering forms of military as well as political and economic pressure to end clashes in Kosova. The spokesmen added that France and Germany are seeking ways to pressure Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic's government in particular. The officials stated that German Defense Minister Volker Ruehe believes that there are more ways of bringing military pressure to bear than just by helping Albania in the context of Partnership for Peace. PM CLINTON WILL NOT RULE OUT GROUND TROOPS FOR KOSOVA. U.S. President Bill Clinton told a joint press conference with Italian Prime Minister Romano Prodi in Washington on 6 May that he does not rule out any options to help quell fighting in Kosova. "I don't think we can rule out any options because we don't want another Bosnia to happen," the president said. He added that the Serbs and Kosovars "obviously need to sit down and talk through how the legitimate aspirations of the Kosova Albanians can somehow be manifest in giving them some measure of self-government and decision-making authority over their lives within the framework of Serbia." Clinton stated that Italy should not be put in a position of having to "send troops to every one of its neighboring countries, [nor should] the United States [have] to send troops every time there's a dispute in that part of the world." PM GELBARD WARNS ON KOSOVA. Robert Gelbard, who is U.S. special envoy to the former Yugoslavia, told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee in Washington on 6 May that Belgrade has totally mishandled the Kosova question and helped turn it into an international issue. He added that the United States. and its allies will not just watch as repression continues and violence escalates, RFE/RL's South Slavic Service reported. Gelbard stressed that delays in starting a dialogue will only benefit the extremists on both sides and hurt ordinary people. The envoy did not rule out new sanctions against Serbia, but said that Montenegro might be exempted from the measures. PM UCK TO TAKE WAR TO BELGRADE? Spokesmen for the Kosova Liberation Army (UCK) told the BBC on 6 May that they would consider it an honor "to die for Kosova." When the reporter asked them if they plan to take the war to Belgrade in the manner in which the IRA took its campaign of violence to the British mainland, the spokesmen said that they rule out nothing in order to achieve their goal of an independent Kosova. In Kosova itself, low-level violence continues to claim several lives daily across the province. PM DJUKANOVIC: SANCTIONS NOT THE WAY. Montenegrin President Milo Djukanovic told a press conference in Vienna on 6 May that blanket sanctions against Yugoslavia hurt the reformers and innocent people as well as the regime, "Die Presse" wrote. Sanctions, he continued, enable Milosevic to blame the international community for Yugoslavia's problems and to increase repressive measures at home, the "Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung" added. Djukanovic urged the international community instead to actively support the democratic forces in Yugoslavia. He said that he has no intention of taking Montenegro out of the Yugoslav federation but only of changing Milosevic's policies, which, he continued, are the root of Yugoslavia's problems. Djukanovic stated that Milosevic has tried hard to defeat the reformers in Montenegro, but that Djukanovic and team have prevailed. The Montenegrin leader stressed that his people will resist Serbian efforts to whip up popular support for a conflict in Kosova. PM PLAVSIC DETAINED AT VIENNA AIRPORT. Border police held Republika Srpska President Biljana Plavsic for one hour at Schwechat airport on 6 May because of a 1995 arrest warrant that they believed the Hague-based war crimes tribunal had issued for complicity in genocide, Radio Austria International reported. The police allowed her to continue on her way to London after judges at the tribunal told Austrian Interpol in a phone call that the court had never issued such a warrant. At Schwechat, Plavsic's staff also secured the intervention of Carlos Westendorp, the international community's chief representative in Bosnia, to help free Plavsic, "Nasa Borba" wrote. Plavsic subsequently expressed her displeasure over the incident. She visited Austria in February as the official guest of Foreign Minister Wolfgang Schuessel. PM NANO FREEZES BUDGET OVER KOSOVA. Prime Minister Fatos Nano ordered stiff budget cuts on 6 May so that Albania will have some extra cash reserves because of the deteriorating situation in Kosova. Nano argued that "assistance for northern Albania, [which includes] transport and lodging and feeding [refugees], requires extra budget expenses." He added that "in case of a growing influx [of refugees], many ministries will need to considerably reduce their daily expenses and to limit their new investments." Immediate measure include cuts on foreign travel for government officials, personnel reductions, a ban on buying new official cars, and limitations on government use of electric energy, telephone and fuel. In addition, Nano ordered budget reviews for every four months to reassess the financial situation, "Koha Jone" reported. Customs revenues have proven lower than anticipated in the original budget, partly due to smuggling. Tax evasion also places a heavy burden on the budget. FS GUNMEN HIJACK NANO'S CAR. Unidentified gunmen stole the official car of Fatos Nano on 5 May in Tirana. The large black Mercedes limousine is easily identifiable as the prime minister's car by its license plate. The driver was alone in the vehicle at the moment of the carjacking. Despite increased police controls, robbers continue to steal luxury cars regularly. Earlier this year, robbers shot and injured a EU monitor and two British diplomats in separate carjacking attempts in and around Tirana (see "RFE/RL Newsline" 14 April 1998). FS MOLDOVA'S PRIME MINISTER-DESIGNATE SEEKS HUGE GROWTH. Ion Ciubuc said on 6 May that his proposed government will aim to expand the economy by 8 percent this year, Reuters reported. Ciubuc was addressing parliament after being formally nominated as prime minister by President Petru Lucinschi, who said the incumbent should "act more resolutely...maintain tough discipline, and pay more attention to solving macroeconomic problems." Ciubuc has two weeks to present a government for parliament's approval. Ciubuc pledged that relations with international financial institutions would "become more clear and definite." An envoy from the International Monetary Fund arrived in Chisinau on 7 May to discuss reopening a credit that was suspended last year after the parliament blocked proposed reforms in agriculture and industry. PB BULGARIA PREMIER REFUSES EU REQUEST TO CLOSE NUCLEAR PLANT. Ivan Kostov rejected a European Union proposal to close certain sections of the controversial Kozloduy nuclear power plant due to safety concerns, AFP reported on 6 May. Kostov, who recently returned from Germany, claimed that German Chancellor Helmut Kohl supports his decision not to shut down the plant's two oldest reactors. Bulgaria has spent over $100 million in repairs on the plant and claims the plant no longer poses a danger, despite its Soviet design. Kostov said he has requested that the EU perform a new inspection of the plant, claiming the proposal that it be closed is based on outdated information. PB RULING WOULD LEAD TO RESTORATION OF BULGARIAN ROYALS' PROPERTY. Public prosecutor Ivan Tatartchev has ruled that a 1947 law that nationalized the property of the Bulgarian royal family is unconstitutional, AFP reported on 5 May. Bulgaria's former monarch, King Simeon II, said from his exiled home in Madrid that he was pleased that the restitution process could begin. Simeon has repeatedly called for property to be returned and the monarchy to be restored, but received no support from previous governments. Simeon was forced to leave Bulgaria by the Communists at age six. He returned for the first time in 1996. PB 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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