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RFE/RL NEWSLINE Vol. 2, No. 91 Part II, 14 May 1998
___________________________________________________________ RFE/RL NEWSLINE Vol. 2, No. 91 Part II, 14 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 xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxSPECIAL REPORTxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx COMMUNIST HOUSING: A FLAW IN THE DESIGN More than 170 million people in Eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union live in decaying housing complexes. This five-part series examines the issues, compares East Berlin's rehabilitation success story with Prague's less than successful efforts, and describes the state of U.S. public housing. http://www.rferl.org/nca/special/housing/ xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx Headlines, Part II * BUDAPEST BOURSE SLUMPS AFTER FIRST ROUND OF ELECTIONS * CLINTON PRAISES MILOSEVIC-RUGOVA AGREEMENT * KOSOVARS COOL TO RUGOVA'S CHOICE xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx EAST-CENTRAL EUROPE UKRAINIAN FOREIGN MINISTER OPPOSES 'POLITICIZING' CIS... Borys Tarasyuk told a news conference in Kyiv on 13 May that Ukraine opposes "the transformation of the CIS into a supra- state structure," ITAR-TASS reported. "If the process of reorganizing the CIS takes on a politicized character..., the commonwealth will be doomed," the minister commented. He also stressed that Russia "has been, is, and will remain a priority in Ukraine's foreign policy." In Tarasyuk's opinion, Ukraine has managed to create a "belt of good- neighborliness and stability" with its neighbors and is now going to take a "more pragmatic course" toward seeking new markets. JM ...STRESSES CLOSE COOPERATION WITH NATO, EU. The foreign minister also announced that Ukraine will seek close cooperation with NATO. In his opinion, the Ukrainian Constitution does not rule out joining the alliance but "certain conditions should emerge" toward this step. The foreign minister expressed the hope that Ukraine will be able to sign an agreement on associated membership in the EU this year. According to Tarasyuk, Ukraine's relations with the EU are "constructive." JM CHORNOBYL REACTOR TO BE OPERATIONAL SOON. Operators at the Chornobyl nuclear plant have begun restarting the plant's only functioning reactor, Reuters reported on 13 May. The reactor was switched off last year for nine months to repair more than 300 cracks in its cooling system pipes. The plant's chief engineer told the news agency that the reactor currently has no defects and will be brought to its full operational capacity by 18 May. JM BELARUS REPORTS 12 PERCENT ECONOMIC GROWTH. The Belarusian Ministry of Statistics and Analysis has reported that GDP increased by 12 percent from January through April compared with the same period last year. Investments in fixed assets grew by 39.5 percent, while consumer prices rose by 14.8 percent compared with 28.8 percent last year. JM MINSK TO INTRODUCE LICENSES FOR DISSEMINATING GOVERNMENT INFORMATION. The Justice Ministry has approved the procedure for the introduction of licenses for disseminating official government information, RFE/RL's Belarusian Service reported on 13 May. Such information is defined as any presidential or ministerial law, decree, or directive issued in print or electronic form. Theoretically, any citizen or legal entity is eligible to obtain the license, but this step requires voluminous supporting documentation. Those exempt from such licenses include publications with a circulation of fewer than 300 copies or those whom the Justice Ministry describes as "acknowledged as official in accordance with an established procedure." JM ESTONIA ANNOUNCES COMMISSION TO INVESTIGATE NAZI, SOVIET CRIMES. President Lennart Meri told journalists on 13 May that Tallinn will form a commission to investigate crimes against humanity committed in the country between 1939 and 1991. That announcement follows the summit in Riga at which the three Baltic presidents agreed to set up such commissions in each country (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 13 May 1998). Meri said that the decision was prompted by recent events in Latvia: "Certain forces that are not interested in the Baltic States' stability are manipulating some tragic incidents in our past and are using [them] against us." The commission will aim to bring to justice any war criminals living in Estonia. Representatives of the American Jewish Committee have advised Meri on the setting up of the commission. JC BALTIC COUNCIL HEAD URGES LATVIA TO AMEND CITIZENSHIP LAW. Ole Espersen, commissioner of the Council of the Baltic Sea States, has urged the Latvian parliament to approve by July government-proposed amendments to the citizenship law, BNS reported. Speaking to reporters in Riga on 13 May, Espersen said that lawmakers should also bring the labor code and the state language bill into line with international norms. The same day, presidential press secretary Sergei Yastrzhembskii told ITAR-TASS that Moscow expects from Riga "tangible steps" toward legislative guarantees of the rights of ethnic Russians, adding that "we shall continue with our steps." Yastrzhembskii was commenting on the Riga summit of the three Baltic presidents. JC LITHUANIAN SECURITY CHIEF RESIGNS. ITAR-TASS reported on 13 May that Jurgis Jurgelis, the director-general of Lithuania's State Security Department, submitted his resignation during a meeting that day with President Valdas Adamkus. The meeting was initiated by the president, who accepted Jurgelis's resignation, Adamkus's press service said in a statement. Observers link the security chief's departure to the failure to find those responsible for the series of explosions in Lithuania over the past six months. JC POLISH PRESIDENT REFUSES TO CONDEMN COMMUNIST PAST. In an interview published in "Rzeczpospolita" on 14 May, Aleksander Kwasniewski refused to condemn Poland's Communist era. In his opinion, the Communist past was too complex to be described in "one [condemning] sentence or one paragraph.... It was a period when some people were loving one another, some were being held in prison, some were working, and some were wasting their talents because they had no possibilities for self-development." Kwasniewski added that the collapse of the Communist system was the best assessment of the Communist era. Current attempts to pass a bill condemning the Communist past are aimed at dividing the Polish society "into good and bad people," he argued. JM HAVEL RELEASED FROM HOSPITAL. President Vaclav Havel was released from Prague's military hospital on 13 May, CTK reported. His spokesman said Havel will rest for a week to 10 days at the presidential residence at Lany, outside Prague. MS AUDIT SHOWS KLAUS'S PARTY BROKE FUNDING LAWS. The Civic Democratic Party (ODS) of former Premier Vaclav Klaus failed to abide by donation disclosure laws and rigged its own accounts, according to an international external audit carried out by Deloitte & Touche at the ODS's request. ODS representatives told journalists on 13 May that the party had altered accounts, concealed donations from companies and individuals by using false names, and had employed poor accounting methods. At the same time, the auditors found no evidence of the foreign bank accounts that were alleged to exist and led to Klaus' resignation in November 1997. The ODS said in reaction that it would improve the internal financial control and "pay anything due to the public coffer," Reuters reported. It also said it has already been punished by losing control of the government and a significant share of popular support. MS SLOVAK SPEAKER REFUSES TO ACCEPT PETITION. Ivan Gasparovic on 13 May refused for the second consecutive day to accept petitions collected by the opposition in favor of direct presidential elections. A spokesman for the Slovak legislature told RFE/RL that the petitions are stacked in numerous boxes and must be first handed to a parliamentary committee to determine their authenticity. Some 400,000 Slovaks are reported to have backed the drive for direct presidential elections. On 12 May the parliament began debating the amendment of the electoral law proposed by the ruling Movement for a Democratic Slovakia. The opposition says the modified law discriminates against it. MS BUDAPEST BOURSE SLUMPS AFTER FIRST ROUND OF ELECTIONS. Prices at the Budapest stock exchange fell sharply on 13 May for the third day in a row in what analysts say is a nervous reaction to the strong showing of right-wing parties in the first round of the elections, AFP reported. The BUX has lost 729 points (almost 8.5 percent) since 8 May, the last day of trading before the ballot. Experts say the market is likely to remain unstable until after the 24 May run-off. Prime Minister Gyula Horn on 13 May said his Socialist party cannot and will not change its electoral program. He also said that he was surprised by the low turnout in the first ballot and that his party will concentrate much of its effort in the two counties where the 10 May ballot will have to be repeated owing to a turnout of less than 50 percent. MS SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE CLINTON PRAISES MILOSEVIC-RUGOVA AGREEMENT. U.S. President Bill Clinton said in Berlin on 13 May that the decision by Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic and Kosovar shadow- state President Ibrahim Rugova to meet in Belgrade on 15 May is a "sober first step" toward a resolution of the Kosova question (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 13 May 1998). In Washington, Secretary of State Madeleine Albright praised Milosevic's "personal engagement" and Rugova's "flexibility" in agreeing to the talks. In Moscow, Foreign Minister Yevgenii Primakov called the agreement "a significant achievement for which Russian, U.S., French, and German diplomats and the entire Contact Group have worked," Interfax reported. German Foreign Minister Klaus Kinkel stressed that Germany has a "special interest" in obtaining a quick end to the crisis because it is host to 150,000 Kosovar asylum seekers, the "Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung" wrote. The Foreign Ministries of the U.K., France, Italy, and Albania issued statements welcoming the two leaders' decision to meet. PM KOSOVARS COOL TO RUGOVA'S CHOICE. Fehmi Agani, who is a close adviser to Rugova and the head of the Kosovars' Group of 15 negotiators, praised Rugova's decision to meet Milosevic without any foreign mediators present. He added that "no miracles" should be expected from the meeting. Also in Prishtina on 13 May, Adem Demaci, the head of the opposition Parliamentary Party of Kosova, said that Rugova's move was "a capitulation." Demaci added that Rugova had abandoned the Kosovar demands for independence in favor of "cultural autonomy," the Kosova Information Agency (KIC) reported. Social Democratic leader Luljeta Pula-Beqiri called Rugova's decision "scandalous" and added that "the people are against it," "Nasa Borba" wrote. The VOA's Albanian Service reported that "The discontent of all the [G-15] members was apparent. They did not feel like commenting on the...meeting." Also in Prishtina, Rugova failed to show up for a scheduled session of the executive board of his Democratic League of Kosova. PM MORE DEATHS IN KOSOVA. "The Guardian" on 13 May quoted an unnamed representative of the Kosova Liberation Army (UCK) as saying that "I don't trust [U.S. special envoy Richard] Holbrooke" and that "the UCK will free the people...[including] the Albanians in Montenegro and Macedonia." In the main crisis regions of Kosova, some 18 people died in the past two days as a result of continued violence, KIC reported. In one incident alone, 10 Kosovars died when they entered a mine field near Ponoshec in order to circumvent a Serbian police patrol. PM CONTACT GROUP TO MEET. U.S. special envoy Robert Gelbard said in Belgrade on 13 May that at the 15 May summit in Birmingham, England, he will brief the G-8 nations on Kosova. He said that "we also are seeking an urgent meeting of the Contact Group at the beginning of next week to review the situation and measures the Contact Group has taken in previous meetings in view of new developments." Gelbard noted that the U.S. is also engaged in urgent consultations with the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, including with Spanish former Prime Minister Felipe Gonzalez, whom the OSCE has designated as its representative in the Kosova crisis. Gelbard added that "the United States continues to feel that it is extremely important for the Gonzalez mission to get under way so as to formulate the appropriate means by which [Milosevic's Yugoslavia] will enter the OSCE." PM NATO TO PREPARE OPTIONS ON KOSOVA. An unnamed NATO spokesman told Reuters in Brussels on 13 May that the ambassadors of the member states of the Atlantic alliance welcome the announcement of the Milosevic-Rugova meeting and the fact that Milosevic has accepted "personal responsibility" for resolving the Kosova question. The spokesman added that the ambassadors asked expert committees to prepare a wide range of contingency plans for dealing with the crisis. Issues under consideration include ways of helping Albanian and Macedonia, which the spokesman called "front-line states." PM DJUKANOVIC TO THWART MILOSEVIC'S MOVE AGAINST HIM. Milica Pejanovic-Djurisic, who heads Montenegrin President Milo Djukanovic's Democratic Socialist Party (DSS), said in Podgorica on 13 May that the DSS has asked the speaker of the Montenegrin parliament to call a special session to rule on how to defend Montenegro's interests within the Yugoslav federation, RFE/RL's South Slavic Service reported. Her move is aimed at recalling Montenegrin members of the federal legislature in Belgrade back to Podgorica for the special session so that there will be no quorum in the federal upper house on 18 May. On that date, the federal legislators are slated to vote on unseating Prime Minister Radoje Kontic and replacing him with a Milosevic supporter (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 13 May 1998). PM ARREST WARRANT FOR BOSNIAN SERB EX-LEADER. Spokesmen for the Interior Ministry of the Republika Srpska announced in Banja Luka on 13 May that the ministry has issued a warrant for the arrest of Gojko Klickovic, a former prime minister and a loyalist of Radovan Karadzic. Klickovic is wanted for embezzlement and abuse of office. Unspecified decisions by Prime Minister Klickovic led to the disappearance of some $4 million from the state budget. Serbian press reports suggest that Klickovic is in Yugoslavia. PM NANO'S STOLEN CAR TURNS UP IN MONTENEGRO. Police spokesmen said in Tirana on 13 May that two men have been arrested in conjunction with the recent hijacking of Prime Minister Fatos Nano's car (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 7 May 1998). Tirana dailies added that the armored Mercedes limousine, which is readily identifiable by its license plates, was taken to Montenegro. The press reports noted that gangs have stolen "hundreds" of Mercedes cars in recent months and smuggled them into Montenegro. PM ROMANIAN PARLIAMENT DEBATES BUDGET. A joint session of the two chambers of the parliament began debating the 1998 budget on 13 May, RFE/RL's Bucharest bureau reported. Prime Minister Radu Vasile said the budget aims at reducing inflation to 45 percent (it was 151.4 percent in 1997). It forecasts a deficit of 3.6 percent of GDP, which is expected to register zero growth (minus 6.6 percent in 1997). Unemployment is expected to rise to 11.2 percent, from 9.5 percent last year. The opposition parties, with the exception of the Party of Romanian National Unity (PUNR), have announced they will vote against the budget. The PUNR says it will vote in favor only if its proposed amendments are accepted, which is unlikely. MS FOREIGN DIPLOMATS INVOLVED IN CIGARETTE SMUGGLING AFFAIR. Nicolae Alexandru, chairman of the Senate's Defense Committee, on 13 May said foreign diplomats accredited in Bucharest are involved in the "cigarette smuggling affair" (which the Romanian media is now calling "Otopeni-gate" in reference to Bucharest airport). Alexandru, a member of the Democratic Party, added that people close to the "sphere of power" are also involved in the affair. He provided no other details but said that most of the foreigners involved in the scandal come from "the Arab world." Meanwhile, the Bucharest Military Tribunal has ordered the release from detention of General Gheorghe Florica, former chief of the Financial Guard, for "lack of evidence" on his alleged involvement in the affair. The Prosecutor-General's Office has appealed that decision. MS AGREEMENT REACHED ON MOLDOVAN GOVERNMENT REFORM. Premier- designate Ion Ciubuc and the governing Alliance for Democracy and Reform have reached agreement on reforming the government, BASA-press and Infotag reported on 13 May. The new government will have 13 ministers, three of whom will be deputy premiers. The portfolios will be divided according to the "2+2+1 formula" agreed on last month by the three members of the coalition alliance. According to that formula, the Party of Democratic Forces will have one minister for every two cabinet members who belong to the Democratic Convention of Moldova (CDM) and to the For a Democratic and Prosperous Moldova Bloc. Several ministries will be merged. Also on 13 May, CDM co-chairman Mircea Snegur said the alliance can "under no circumstances" agree to President Petru Lucinschi's and Ciubuc's intention to offer government posts to members of Ciubuc's outgoing cabinet. MS KOSTOV OPPOSES SANCTIONS AGAINST YUGOSLAVIA. Prime Minister Ivan Kostov, in an interview with Reuters on 13 May, said the sanctions imposed earlier on Yugoslavia helped turn Bulgaria into what he described as a "country of corporate and oligarchic interests." Kostov said the embargo created the background against which huge illegal fortunes could be made through arms, oil, and other trade with Serbia. The reintroduction of those sanctions would benefit only those Bulgarian forces against which his government has "won its great battle" in the struggle to combat corruption. MS WORLD BANK APPROVES BULGARIAN LOAN. The World Bank has approved a $16 million loan to Bulgaria for a pilot project to clean up a copper refining plant, an RFE/RL correspondent in Washington reported. The MDK copper smelter plant, located in the vicinity of Plodviv and Zlatitsa, has been pouring tons of toxic waste from its acid plant into a lagoon for many years. It is now leaking and threatening to overflow or break a dam. In such a case, waste would enter the Topolnitsa reservoir, which is the main source of drinking water for Plodviv. MS 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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