|A man should never be ashamed to own he has been in the wrong, which is but saying, in other words, that he is wiser today than he was yesterday. - Jonathan Swift|
RFE/RL NEWSLINE Vol. 2, No. 95 Part II, 20 May 1998
___________________________________________________________ RFE/RL NEWSLINE Vol. 2, No. 95 Part II, 20 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 xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx SPECIAL REPORT xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx INTERNATIONAL JUSTICE: MAKING IT WORK FOR HUMANITY Next month, work will begin on the creation of a permanent International Criminal Court. This four-part series explores the ramifications of a new criminal court and how the current war crimes tribunals are handling cases related to the former Yugoslavia and Rwanda. http://www.rferl.org/nca/special/courts/index.html xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx Headlines, Part II * CZECH DOCTORS POSTPONE SURGERY ON HAVEL TILL JULY * MILOSEVIC PICKS BULATOVIC * NATO PREPARES OPTIONS ON KOSOVA xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx REGIONAL AFFAIRS BEREZOVSKII ADVOCATES POSTPONING CIS INTERSTATE FORUM. Addressing a meeting convened in Minsk on 19 May to prepare for the CIS interstate forum tentatively scheduled for July, CIS Executive Secretary Boris Berezovskii proposed postponing that forum until the fall, Interfax reported. The forum is to debate reforming the CIS. Berezovskii said that he concluded from his meetings earlier this month with the presidents of Moldova, Ukraine, Belarus, Armenia, and Georgia that it is "unrealistic" to hold the forum in July, given that "no hasty moves will bring a radical improvement," according to ITAR-TASS. Almost all participants at the April CIS summit in Moscow expressed dissatisfaction with the way the CIS operates. Berezovskii positively assessed the role of the CIS in containing conflicts between its members. And he warned against blindly copying the experience of other international bodies such as the EU. LF EAST-CENTRAL EUROPE UKRAINIAN STRIKING MINERS CONVERGE ON DNIPROPETROVSK. Some 3,500 coal miners who have taken part in marches over the past few days arrived in Dnipropetrovsk on 19 May and gathered outside the oblast administration building to demand the payment of wage arrears, ITAR-TASS reported. They reacted angrily when acting Coal Industry Minister Volodymyr Radchenko pledged to pay only their wages for this month, saying the state has no funds to pay the miners for previous months. As of mid-May, the state debt to the coal mining sector totaled 2.1 billion hryvni (more than $1 billion). JM BELARUSIAN STUDENTS PROTEST DISCRIMINATION. Some 1,800 students from the non-state Institute of Business and Management in Minsk have signed an open letter of protest to Deputy Premier Uladzimir Zamyatalin over a recent government ruling that only graduates from state universities will be issued state diplomas, RFE/RL's Belarusian Service and Belapan reported. The students say that the ruling "casts doubt on the future of 30,000 young people and their possibility of finding employment." They also urge the government to reconsider its decision. JM LATVIAN PREMIER URGES CRACKDOWN ON COMMUNISTS, FASCISTS. Guntars Krasts has blamed the recent spate of bomb attacks in Riga and Moscow on extremist groups and called for a crackdown on the public display of Communist and Fascist symbols. In a statement, the Latvian premier said the explosions in Dobele, at the Russian embassy in Riga, and at synagogues in the Russian and Latvian capitals show that Communist and Fascist organizations are stepping up their activities. He added that he will ask the Latvian National Security Council to consider a law increasing fines for displaying Communist and Fascist insignia. Krasts's statement comes after a demonstration in a Riga park in which some participants were dressed in black and wore armbands with the hammer and sickle symbol. JC ECONOMICS MINISTER SAYS LATVIA'S IMAGE AS TRANSIT STATE DAMAGED. Laimonis Strujevich on 19 May said that Russia has harmed Latvia's image as a key transit state by threatening to impose economic sanctions, Reuters reported. At a cabinet meeting in which he reported on the country's transit sector, Strujevich said Latvian ports have handled roughly the same amount of cargo so far this year, compared with 1997, but added that officials will have to work hard to keep the custom of international shippers and companies. Transit trade accounted for some 17.2 percent of Latvia's GDP last year. JC POLAND OFFERS RUSSIA TRANSIT TO KALININGRAD. Foreign Minister Bronislaw Geremek, who is currently on a state visit with President Aleksander Kwasniewski in Finland, told journalists on 19 May that Poland may offer "normal European transit conditions" to Russia to access the Kaliningrad exclave by highway, Reuters reported. Russia has a link to Kaliningrad through Lithuania but wants guaranteed passage to Kaliningrad through Belarus and Poland. Geremek added that Poland opposes giving any special status to the route, as suggested by Russia two years ago. He called for European assistance to develop Kaliningrad's economy but also expressed concern about Russia's heavy military presence in the exclave. JM POLAND DENIES DIVIDING SCHOOLS INTO CATHOLIC, LAY. Education Minister Miroslaw Handke has denied that his ministry will divide public schools into Catholic and lay ones, "Zycie Warszawy" reported on 20 May. Handke's statement follows a report published in the 19 May "Gazeta Wyborcza" on the ministry's plan to introduce a dual education system (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 19 May 1998). The minister stressed that the authorities will not "impose any world view upon anybody, either directly or indirectly." JM CZECH SUPPORT FOR NATO MEMBERSHIP INCREASES. Almost two- thirds of Czechs support the parliament's recent decision to ratify accession to NATO, an opinion poll conducted by the STEM agency shows. Sixty percent of the respondents said NATO membership is the best solution to the country's security problems, CTK reported on 19 May. Last month, support for joining the alliance was some 50 percent. In other news, four skinheads have been charged and detained in Orlova in connection with the racially motivated attack that left a Rom dead last weekend. A Prague court has ruled that nine people detained after a 16 May protest that turned violent will remain in custody pending an investigation. A police spokeswoman said another 16 people were released but will face trial on charges of hooliganism and attacking a public official (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 17 May 1998). MS CZECH DOCTORS POSTPONE SURGERY ON HAVEL TILL JULY. President Vaclav Havel will have surgery to remove a colostomy bag in late July. Havel was given the colostomy by Austrian surgeons when he underwent emergency surgery for a perforated colon in mid-April. Miroslav Cerbak, the coordinator of Havel's medical team, said on 19 May that delaying the operation until July will allow Havel more time to recover from that operation. Doctors had originally planned to remove the bag at the end of this month, CTK reported. MS LEADERS OF HUNGARY'S MAIN PARTIES RECEIVE THREATS. Socialist Party chairman Gyula Horn and Federation of Young Democrats- Hungarian Civic Party (FIDESZ-MPP) leader Viktor Orban have both received threats ahead of their public debate scheduled for 21 May. That debate is the first of its kind before an election in Hungary. The two leaders have received threats that their participation in the debate "will be prevented," Hungarian media reported. Other politicians have also received threats in recent weeks, and increased public security has become a major issue in the election campaigns of all political parties against the background of bomb attacks on private businesses and political party offices as well as a number of assassinations earlier this year. MSZ SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE MILOSEVIC PICKS BULATOVIC... Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic on 19 May nominated as prime minister former Montenegrin President Momir Bulatovic to succeed Radoje Kontic, whom the parliament had ousted the previous day (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 19 May 1998). Milosevic praised Bulatovic's "patriotic orientation" and called him "the most prestigious personality in Montenegro [who] enjoys great support from the Montenegrin people." The parliament on 20 May confirmed Bulatovic's appointment. Observers noted that Milosevic's choice of Bulatovic, who is the foremost political enemy of Montenegrin President Milo Djukanovic, indicates that Milosevic is determined to step up his confrontation with the reformist leadership in Podgorica in the runup to the 31 May parliamentary elections in the mountainous republic. PM ...WHILE MONTENEGRO REJECTS HIM. Milica Pejanovic-Djurisic, who is the president of Djukanovic's Democratic Socialist Party, told Milosevic in Belgrade on 19 May that by replacing Kontic with Bulatovic "he was bringing into question the survival of Yugoslavia." She said in an open letter to Bulatovic that "nobody in Montenegro recognizes the validity" of his nomination and that he "is participating in the dismantling of the Montenegrin state." In Podgorica, the parliament voted in an emergency session not to recognize Kontic's ouster and called the vote against him illegal. The Podgorica legislature passed a resolution saying that Kontic's removal was made possible by the vote of six Montenegrin deputies, whose mandates the Montenegrin parliament had invalidated on 15 May. Also in Podgorica, Richard Miles, who is the U.S. chief of mission in Belgrade, handed over to Djukanovic a letter from Secretary of State Madeleine Albright and discussed with him the current political situation. PM NATO PREPARES OPTIONS ON KOSOVA. Members of a planning committee have drawn up three options for stationing NATO troops along Albania's frontier with Kosova and will present those options to NATO's governing body on 28 May, an RFE/RL correspondent reported from Brussels on 19 May. The proposals call for sending between 7,000 and 20,000 soldiers to secure the border and prevent the spread of the conflict. The Albanian government has repeatedly asked NATO to send troops. In Kukes, Albanian border control authorities issued an invitation to their Yugoslav counterparts to discuss security in the region on 25 May, the Belgrade daily "Danas" wrote. PM SERBIAN POLICE REMOVE KOSOVARS FROM TRAIN. Some 200 Serbian police searched a passenger train at Pograxha station along the Prishtina-Peja line on 19 May and took 30 ethnic Albanian males from the train. The police later released 22 of the men but detained the remaining eight. The Kosovar KIC news agency said the move is most likely aimed at deterring Kosovars from traveling between Prishtina and Peja. KIC added that this is the first time that police have removed persons from a train since the conflict in Kosova began at the end of February. Police closed the road linking the two towns on 8 May. PM KOSOVAR VILLAGES SHELLED. In the Drenica region, Serbian paramilitary police killed a 95-year-old woman when they shelled the village of Citak on 19 May. Residents of the village said that police told them on 15 May that "we're going to kill all of you." The Serbian authorities maintain that the villagers harbor members of the Kosova Liberation Army (UCK). Police also shelled a village in the Iglareva region. In Prishtina, Serbian spokesmen said that UCK gunmen fired on two Serbian trucks and a bus on the Prishtina-Peja road on 19 May. The spokesmen added that gunmen kidnapped a Serbian policeman after forcing him to stop his car. PM KOSOVARS UNCERTAIN ABOUT FUTURE TALKS... Veton Surroi, who is Kosova's leading journalist and a member of shadow-state President Ibrahim Rugova's 15-member negotiating team, told Reuters in Prishtina on 19 May that the G-15 group has not yet decided whether to participate in talks with its Serbian counterpart slated for 22 May. Surroi said that the negotiators "have a good list of reasons why we shouldn't attend and yet we still see a reason to attend." He did not give details. PM ...WHILE HOLBROOKE WARNS THEM. U.S. envoy Richard Holbrooke told CNN on 19 May that "it would be a mistake for the Kosova leadership not to go to these talks because the violence is something which neither side can fully control." He praised Rugova as a "sincere apostle of non-violence" but added that "to his left are some very dangerous people who wish to use violent means instead of peaceful means.... I think the time to try to get a peaceful settlement is now before the situation spirals out of control." PM UN POLICE SLAM CROATS OVER LICENSE PLATES. A UN police spokesman said in Sarajevo on 19 May that the exchange of old license plates for new ones is proceeding well except in some Croatian-controlled areas of western Herzegovina. The new license plates do not indicate in which part of Bosnia the car is registered and were introduced by the international community in February to facilitate freedom of movement. The old license plates become invalid on 1 June. The Herzegovinian Croats currently use license plates that are nearly identical to those used in Croatia. Also in the Bosnian capital, a spokesman for the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, which is organizing the September general elections, said that 25 parties have registered to participate in the vote. PM TUDJMAN ACCEPTS HERZEGOVINIAN LEADERSHIP. The steering committee of the governing Croatian Democratic Community (HDZ) issued a statement in Zagreb on 19 May in which it "expressed confidence" in the new hard-line Herzegovinian HDZ leadership of Ante Jelavic (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 18 May 1998). President Franjo Tudjman had openly supported Bozo Ljubic, a moderate, for the post. Also in the Croatian capital, teachers staged a one-day warning strike on 20 May for more pay. Elsewhere in Zagreb, spokesmen for Croatian Railways announced on 19 May that two daily international trains linking the former Yugoslavia with Munich and Zurich will begin running between Zagreb and Belgrade on 24 May. Finally, shares of the Zagreb Bank lost over 10 percent of their value on 18 May, "Vecernji list" reported on 20 May. PM CIVIC ALLIANCE MOVEMENT ATTACKS CONSTANTINESCU. Valerian Stan, executive chairman of the Movement of Civic Alliance, has accused President Emil Constantinescu of condoning corruption. Stan said on 18 May that Constantinescu and his main political counselor, Zoe Petre, have sought to "cover up" the involvement of the main culprits in the cigarette smuggling affair. The accusations are mainly targeted against "one or two colonels," he noted. Stan also said that the president had ordered his dismissal as chief of the Government Control Department Victor Ciorbea's cabinet after Stan had revealed corruption among leading members of the Democratic Party. CDR chairman Ion Diaconescu said the movement "can afford to attack" because "it does not share the responsibility of government, where compromise is necessary." The Movement of Civic Alliance recently quit the ruling Democratic Convention of Romania (CDR). MS BUCHAREST MAYORAL ELECTION TO BE HELD IN OCTOBER. The government has announced that the elections to the Bucharest mayoralty will be held on 11 October, Mediafax reported on 19 May. The government said time is needed to amend the local election law. MS MOLDOVAN STALEMATE CONTINUES. The Democratic Convention of Moldova (CDM) is threatening not to vote confidence in the cabinet headed by Ion Ciubuc unless a compromise is reached on its composition, RFE/RL's Chisinau bureau reported. CDM co-chairman Mircea Snegur told journalists on 19 May that there is a danger of a "return to the starting point," where "President [Petru] Lucinschi will have to appoint someone else as premier." Party of Democratic Forces (PFD) chairman Valeriu Matei has issued a similar warning. Ciubuc, for his part, has said that the CDM's and PFD's refusal to agree to Nicolae Cernomaz continuing in office as minister of state (deputy premier) stems from "animosity" dating back to 1996, when Cernomaz headed Lucinschi's campaign against Snegur in the presidential elections. Ciubuc has also said he needs Mihai Plamadeala to continue as interior minister in order to carry on the fight against corruption. MS SUSPECT DETAINED IN ATTACK ON BULGARIAN REPORTER. Sofia chief prosecutor Nestor Nestorov on 19 May said a suspect has been detained in connection with the attack on "Trud" journalist Anna Zarkova, RFE/RL's Sofia bureau reported (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 12 May 1998). Doctors treating Zarkova in the hospital said they have not lost hope of restoring partial sight to her left eye, which was burned when acid was thrown in her face at a Sofia bus station. In other news, "Duma," the opposition Socialist Party daily, was not distributed on 19 May. The state printing house refused to print the daily because of long-standing debts. The newspaper's editorial staff said the refusal serves "political purposes." MS BULGARIA FORESEES LARGE INVESTMENTS IN PRIVATIZATION. Deputy Premier Alexander Bozhkov, speaking to a 19 May conference in London on privatization in Bulgaria, said his country expects investments to reach $800 million in the second wave of privatization, Reuters reported. Bozhkov said that by the end of this year, the government expects 80 percent of enterprises to be in private hands. He said the cabinet wants to abolish its privatization agency by the end of 1999. Bozhkov said Bulgaria's potential for foreign investors is "huge," particularly in finance, tourism, transportation, and telecommunication. In other news, visiting Uzbek Foreign Minister Abdulaziz Komilov told an RFE/RL correspondent in Sofia that his country is interested in using Bulgaria as a transit route for its exports to Europe, particularly for cotton. 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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