|Men stumble over the truth from time to time, but most pick themselves up and hurry off as if nothing happened. - Sir Winston Churchill|
RFE/RL NEWSLINE Vol. 2, No. 93 Part II, 18 May 1998
___________________________________________________________ RFE/RL NEWSLINE Vol. 2, No. 93 Part II, 18 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 xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxSPECIAL REPORTxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx 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 * BELARUS BLOCKS HUMANITARIAN AID TO CHORNOBYL VICTIMS * SERBIA BLOCKADES KOSOVA * NO RESULTS FROM MILOSEVIC-RUGOVA MEETING End Note: STILL STRANGERS IN THEIR OWN HOMELAND xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx EAST-CENTRAL EUROPE BELARUS BLOCKS HUMANITARIAN AID TO CHORNOBYL VICTIMS. Participants in a conference in Warsaw on 16 May focusing on the after-effects of the Chornobyl nuclear accident adopted a resolution saying that Belarusian President Alyaksandr Lukashenka's "dictatorial regime is preventing international humanitarian aid from reaching victims of the disaster at the Chornobyl nuclear power station," AFP reported. The 12- state meeting condemned the Belarusian government for introducing a 40 percent tax on international humanitarian aid and appealed to the international community to send aid directly to the some 3 million Chornobyl victims in Belarus. Also on 16 May, some 50 young people from various European countries staged a protest in front of the Belarusian embassy in Warsaw to denounce Lukashenka's regime and its human rights violations. JM PREMIER SAYS BELARUS ON RIGHT TRACK. Syarhey Linh told the National Assembly on 15 May that Belarus's economic performance in 1998 shows that the government has chosen the correct strategy and work methods, Belapan and Interfax reported. The premier said real incomes increased by 10 percent from January-April, while GDP grew by 12 percent, compared with the same period in 1997. The government intends to keep this year's budget deficit below 3.5 percent of GDP. At the same time, Linh noted the government's failure to keep the monthly inflation rate below the planned 2 percent. He also said that the profitability of enterprises has dropped from 17.3 percent to 6.3 percent. JM UKRAINIAN MINERS, TEACHERS PROTEST WAGE ARREARS. More than 1,000 coal miners from Pervomaysk set off on a 130-kilometer march to Dnipropetrovsk on 15 May to demand the payment of wage arrears, Ukrainian Television reported. According to the Independent Trade Union of Coal Miners, strikes continue at 46 mines over wage arrears (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 6 and 7 May 1998). Also on 15 May, some 3,500 teachers in Kherson staged a rally in front of the local government building to demand payment of the previous two months' wages. Fifty of the 55 schools in Kherson are on strike, while almost 300 teachers have declared a hunger strike. JM ULMANIS GREETS YELTSIN STATEMENT. Responding to press reports of Yeltsin's statement in Birmingham at the G-8 summit (see Part I), Ulmanis welcomed the Russian president's desire to expand political dialogue with Latvia. An "open and regular dialogue" will strengthen mutual confidence and create stability in the region, he said, noting that Russian-Latvian relations and European integration have created "a vast circle of issues to be discussed." JC LITHUANIA INTRODUCES HARSHER PUNISHMENT FOR TERRORIST ACTS. The parliament has introduced harsher punishment for the acquisition, possession, production, and sale of firearms, ammunition, and explosives, BNS reported on 15 May, It has also added an article to the penal code on crimes classified as "acts of terrorism." Such acts that result in any deaths or in which three or more individuals are seriously injured now carry prison sentences of 10-20 years. The same punishment can be handed down for explosions or arson against state agencies or facilities of strategic importance to the national security. The move follows a recent wave in Lithuania of explosions and arson attacks. JC POLAND TO HOLD LOCAL ELECTIONS ON 11 OCTOBER. Polish Prime Minister Jerzy Buzek signed a decree on 16 May stating that local elections will be held on 11 October. The elections to three-tier local governments, which are to replace the current two-level administrative system, will pave the way for completing administrative reform. An April opinion poll showed that 48 percent of Poles support reducing the number of provinces and introducing the "powiat," a middle tier of local administration. However, 46 percent of the respondents demand that a national referendum be held on administrative reform. JM RALLY TURNS VIOLENT IN PRAGUE. A rally of environmental activists on Prague's main Wenceslas Square on 16 May turned into an open clash with the police. Four policemen were injured, and some 50 youths aged 13-20, including several German youngsters, were detained after breaking shop windows and plundering, CTK reported. Twenty-five people were later charged with breach of public order and damaging property, and nine were kept in custody. The rally began as an authorized, pre-election meeting organized by the Czechoslovak Anarchist Federation and the radical ecological Earth First movement to protest the impact of economic globalization on the environment. MS ROM KILLED IN RACIAL INCIDENT. A Romany man was killed by a passing truck in the night from 16-17 May in Orlova, police told CTK on 17 May. He had been left lying on the road after being attacked by a group of skinheads, who were detained. The truck driver fled the scene. The incident occurred after a Romani father and his daughter were verbally insulted by the skinheads on their way home from a restaurant. Four Roma attacked the skinheads, who fought back. The chairman of the Orlova Roma Civic Initiative told CTK that the death would be avenged. MS EXPERT TEAM CHIEF WARNS AGAINST SLOVAK NUCLEAR PLANT. Wolfgang Kromp, the Austrian chief of an international team of experts who inspected the controversial Mochovce nuclear plant last month, says the plant must not be allowed to become operational, Reuters reported, citing the Austrian APA agency. In an appeal to Austrian Chancellor Viktor Klima, Slovak Prime Minister Vladimir Meciar and the director of the plant, Kromp said triggering the first chain reaction at the plant could lead to the contamination of the reactor. The Soviet-made plant is located some 120 kilometers from Vienna. Austrian authorities have long expressed concern about its safety. MS HUNGARY'S MAJOR PARTIES CONCERNED ABOUT FAR-RIGHT GAINS. The ruling Socialist Party (MSZP) and its main center-right challenger, the Federation of Young Democrats-Hungarian Civic Party (FIDESZ-MPP), have reassured the Jewish community that they will not let the gains of the extreme- right Hungarian Justice and Life Party (MIEP) threaten Hungary's democratic progress. MSZP executive deputy chairwoman Magda Kovacsne Kosa told Peter Feldmajer, the president of the Federation of Hungarian Jewish Communities, that her party will do its best to ensure that all can live in peace and security in Hungary. Feldmajer said that FIDESZ has stressed that under no circumstances would it "accept the MIEP's support" in a new government. MSZ SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE SERBIA BLOCKADES KOSOVA. The Serbian authorities closed the border crossings into Kosova to all private vehicles on 15 May, regardless of whether drivers are Serbian or ethnic Albanian. Police have since allowed only vehicles belonging to state-owned corporations to pass. Serbian authorities gave no official explanation for stopping the private vehicles. One unnamed official told Reuters that all vehicles periodically require a safety check and that Kosovar drivers can "afford the delay" because "the Albanians are all smugglers and they are very rich as a result." Other observers have suggested that Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic has placed restrictions on economic activity in Kosova in retaliation for the latest international sanctions against his country. PM THREE KOSOVARS KILLED. Three ethnic Albanians died near Klina on the Prishtina-Peja road on 17 May. The Kosova Information Center reported that the deaths occurred when police attacked a village in the area. KIC added that several homes were "burned, others were demolished, and [still] others pillaged." Serbian sources stated that armed Kosovars attacked a paramilitary police patrol and that one policeman was wounded. There was no independent report on the incident because Serbian authorities have barred the road to foreign journalists for more than one week. PM SERBIAN POLICE EVICT SERBIAN STUDENTS. Serbian police on 18 May ordered several hundred Serbian students to leave the premises of the Technical Faculty of Prishtina University, which are slated to revert to the control of Kosovar faculty and students later in the day. The Serbs began their protest on 17 May against the latest stage in the implementation of the education agreement that representatives of Milosevic and Rugova signed in March. The pact restores Albanian- language education in government school buildings in stages between 31 March and 30 June (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 1 April 1998). A Kosovar spokesman recently told "RFE/RL Newsline" in Thessaloniki that the implementation of the education agreement has become a low priority for the Kosovar leadership since the end of February, when the Serbian crackdown began. PM NO RESULTS FROM MILOSEVIC-RUGOVA MEETING. Milosevic told Kosovar leader Ibrahim Rugova during two hours of talks in Belgrade on 15 May that Kosova must remain part of Serbia and that the Kosova question is an internal Serbian affair. Rugova said that Kosova must become independent, the "Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung" reported, citing sources close to the Kosovar leader. Four top advisers from his 15- strong negotiating team accompanied Rugova, but two members of the so-called G-15 resigned from that body to protest Rugova's decision, which he made under U.S. pressure, to meet Milosevic without a foreign intermediary present. Later this week, the G-15 and its Serbian counterpart will begin holding weekly meetings that will alternate between Prishtina and Belgrade (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 14 May 1998). PM ALBANIA STILL WANTS NATO PRESENCE. Prime Minister Fatos Nano said in a statement on 16 May that the Milosevic-Rugova talks represent a "positive preliminary result.... This gives hope for a peaceful solution of the Kosova problem, for a quiet future of the region in general and especially for the lowering of armed tension on our state border." Nano added: "We stick by our request for the intensification of cooperation with NATO and the undertaking of a series of stabilizing measures" along Albania's border with Kosova. Tirana has repeatedly called for the stationing of NATO troops to bolster security in the region, as UN peacekeepers have helped do in Macedonia. NATO has twice turned down the request (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 7 May 1998). AFP reported from Brussels on 15 May that NATO has sent "a reconnaissance mission" to northern Albania to study the terrain in preparation for a possible deployment. PM HERZEGOVINIANS REBUKE TUDJMAN, WESTENDORP. Members of the Croatian Democratic Community (HDZ) of Bosnia-Herzegovina, which is a branch organization of Croatian President Franjo Tudjman's party, elected hard-liner Ante Jelavic as party chairman at the HDZ's annual convention in Mostar on 16 May. Tudjman, through his personal emissary Ivic Pasalic, backed the candidacy of the more moderate Bozo Ljubica. It is unclear how Tudjman will respond to the delegates' decision, the Zagreb daily "Jutarnji list" wrote on 18 May. In a letter to the convention on 16 May, Carlos Westendorp, who is the international community's chief representative in Bosnia, told the delegates that the Herzegovinian Croats must abandon efforts to create their own mini-state within the mainly Croatian and Muslim federation. Jelavic told the delegates that the HDZ will continue with its current policies and stressed that the Croats must have their own army. PM HEBRANG APPOINTED CROATIAN DEFENSE MINISTER. Tudjman appointed outgoing Health Minister Andrija Hebrang to succeed the late Gojko Susak as defense minister in Zagreb on 14 May. Hebrang said following his appointment that the Croatian army should "be adjusted to all the principles of...NATO [but] also remain the main protector of Croatian people and state's interests." PM SERBIAN BROADCASTERS DEFY GOVERNMENT. Participants in a meeting of the Association of Independent Electronic Media (ANEM) agreed in Belgrade on 17 May to "continue their broadcasts regardless to the decision of the Yugoslav Ministry of Telecommunications on the allocation of temporary frequencies" (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 13 May 1998), Radio B-92 reported. The independent broadcasters argue that the new monthly fee of $35,000 is prohibitively high for private broadcasters in Yugoslavia. ANEM members charge that the government is using the high fees to drive them off the air. PM SLOVENIAN TRUCKERS CUT OFF LJUBLJANA. Several hundred truckers blocked roads leading into the Slovenian capital on 18 May to protest the introduction of a new road use tax. The drivers also want the authorities to relax new traffic regulations, which, among other things, include tougher punishments for motorists driving under the influence of alcohol. In other news, Prime Minister Janez Drnovsek faces a vote of confidence later this week stemming from the disclosure last winter of the existence of a secret defense pact between Slovenia and Israel. Drnovsek needs the support of the Slovenian People's Party (SLS), which is a member of his governing coalition, to survive the vote. Observers say that Drnovsek's party may not be willing to pay the high political price that the SLS is demanding in order to secure its support. PM TURKISH FOREIGN MINISTER IN ROMANIA. Ismail Cem and his Romanian counterpart, Andrei Plesu, on 15 May welcomed the beginning of a dialogue between Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic and Kosova Albanian minority leader Ibrahim Rugova. At the same time, they said that if the dialogue fails, their countries are "ready to contemplate other measures" to help resolve the conflict. Among other things, they discussed the setting up of the multinational military force for south-eastern Europe but disagreed on where its headquarters should be. Turkey has proposed the Bulgarian city of Plodviv, while Romania prefers Constanta, RFE/RL's Bucharest bureau reported. Cem also held talks on improving bilateral economic ties with President Emil Constantinescu, Premier Radu Vasile, and parliamentary chairman Petre Roman. MS WORLD BANK TO RENEGOTIATE ROMANIAN LOANS. Kenneth Lay, the World Bank official responsible for Romania, said on 15 May after talks with Romanian officials that the bank will negotiate with Bucharest three accords to replace the FESAL agreements, RFE/RL's Bucharest bureau reported. Those agreements were canceled after Romania failed to abide by their provisions. Lay said the new accords will be used for the privatization of the banking sector and state owned- enterprises, adding that further aid is entirely dependent on the success of Romania's privatization program. The FESAL agreements were signed in 1994 and canceled on 30 April. MS DEADLOCK IN MOLDOVAN GOVERNMENT PARLEYS? Mircea Snegur and Iurie Rosca, the co-chairmen of the Democratic Convention of Moldova (CDM), on 15 May told journalists in Chisinau that the CDM will not agree to any further compromises in talks with Premier-designate Ion Ciubuc on the distribution of portfolios in the new government, RFE/RL's Chisinau bureau reported. Snegur said Ciubuc has accepted only two of the CDM's seven proposals for cabinet ministers, whereas the CDM has agreed to the re-appointment of Nicolae Tabacaru as foreign minister and Tudor Botnaru as minister for state security, both at the insistence of President Petru Lucinschi. The same day, Lucinschi said the coalition must take into consideration the views of the premier-designate. MS BULGARIAN PREMIER DENIES BREAKING ARMS EMBARGO. "Demokratsiya" on 16 May quoted Ivan Kostov as denying that Bulgaria is involved in breaking the UN embargo on arms deliveries to Sierra Leone. He said that Bulgaria is "strictly observing" the embargo and that no Bulgarian company has done business with the British Sandline International company. According to a recent report published in the "Sunday Times," Sandline International has delivered Bulgarian-made arms to Sierra Leone. Kostov said that if Bulgarian arms reached Sierra Leone via another African country, Sofia "bears no responsibility" for that development. Meanwhile, Romanian media reported on 15-16 May that a transport of Bulgarian-made machine-guns destined for Slovakia was turned back at the Calafat border check point because the transit had not been cleared with the Romanian authorities. MS END NOTE STILL STRANGERS IN THEIR OWN HOMELAND by Mubeyyin Batu Altan On 18 May, Crimean Tatars mark the 54th anniversary of their mass deportation from Crimea by the Soviet authorities. Although that was one of the saddest days in the history of the Crimean Tatar people, they are by no means the only ones who have to live with such a heritage. Among the other nations deported by Stalin were the Koreans, Chechens, Ingush, Karachais, Volga Germans, and Kalmyks, to name just a few. Why then do we, the Crimean Tatar community, consider 18 May so important? The reason is simple: the "Surgun," as the mass deportation is called in Crimean Tatar, has not yet ended. More than half of the Crimean Tatars deported 54 years ago have so far been unable to return, even though most other deported groups are now back in their historical homelands. Along with the Ahiska (Meskhetian) Turks, the Crimean Tatars stand out as the nation that continues to experience the direct effects of deportation and not just the resulting dislocation. If the Crimean Tatars had been helped to return to their homeland, had received an apology from those responsible, and had been compensated for their losses, 18 May would not have the significance it is currently accorded. It would, of course, be commemorated as a time of mourning. But the next day, Crimean Tatars would return to normal life. Unfortunately, they do not have that option. And as a result, the Crimean Tatars have no choice but to make a big fuss about their deportation and thus keep the memory of 18 May 1944 alive. Their nation remains divided; many still have relatives in Uzbekistan or other parts of the former Soviet Union who cannot yet return to Crimea . Indeed, many continue to search for relatives lost during the "Surgun," as a glance at Crimean Tatar newspapers shows. Advertisements in those papers reveal that even now, many Crimean Tatars have been unable to find out whether their loved ones are alive or dead. Moreover, it appears that many Crimean Tatars are losing ground in their peaceful struggle to return and resettle in their Crimean homeland. Some 90.000 Crimean Tatars were denied the right to cast their ballots in the March 1998 Ukrainian elections because Kyiv does not consider them citizens of Ukraine--despite the fact that they were forcibly and unjustly uprooted from their homeland and did not become Uzbek citizens by choice. As a result, the Crimean Tatars have almost no representation in the current Crimean parliament--in sharp contrast to the situation before the March ballot, when they had 14 representatives in the legislature. Mustafa Jemilev and Refat Chubarov, the two Crimean Tatar representatives in the Ukrainian parliament in Kyiv, are bound to find it extremely difficult to shoulder the responsibility for an entire people, even with the support of the Ukrainian government. And unfortunately, it appears that there are many in Kyiv who will seek to block their efforts to help the Crimean Tatars. On 17 May, Crimean Tatars living in the U.S. once again peacefully gathered to commemorate the "Surgun." At a special ceremony in Corum, New York, they dedicated the first Crimean Tatar monument in honor of all Crimean Tatars who were killed or died during the "Surgun" and its aftermath. And, in particular, they remembered those whose bodies were thrown off the trains carrying the Crimean Tatars from their homeland to Uzbekistan. But for the Crimean Tatars in Crimea and for those still living in exile, everyday is another "18 May." This will remain the case until all the Crimean Tatars are able to return and settle in their ancestral homeland, until they are allowed to live there in peace and harmony with other nationalities just as they did before the "Surgun." But as they continue their struggle, it is both their hope and ours that there will be no more martyrs to add to the long list of those who have already died for the Crimean Tatar national cause. The author is editor of "Crimean Review," a U.S.-based, English-language publication dedicated to recording the history and current status of the Crimean Tatars. xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx Copyright (c) 1998 RFE/RL, Inc. 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