|You see things and you say 'Why?' But I dream thing that never were; and I say, 'Why not?'. - Geroge Bernard Shaw|
RFE/RL NEWSLINE Vol. 2, No. 97 Part II, 22 May 1998
___________________________________________________________ RFE/RL NEWSLINE Vol. 2, No. 97 Part II, 22 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 * FIDESZ LEADER DENIES 'GRAND COALITION' PLANS * ORTHODOX CHURCH SLAMS MILOSEVIC * U.S. WARNS MILOSEVIC OVER MONTENEGRO End Note: BRINKMANSHIP IN BELGRADE xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx EAST-CENTRAL EUROPE UKRAINE SIGNS MILITARY COOPERATION AGREEMENT WITH TURKEY. During Turkish President Suleyman Demirel's official three- day visit to Ukraine, Kyiv and Ankara signed a military cooperation agreement, ITAR-TASS reported on 21 May. Demirel said he sees "great prospects" for bilateral cooperation in the military sphere. His Ukrainian counterpart, Leonid Kuchma, declined to comment on details of the agreement, saying that "details will be tackled by the military." Meanwhile, the 22 May "Turkish Daily News" reported that Ukraine "is on tenterhooks" to sell T-84 tanks to Turkey, which, the newspaper said, is "in the market for 1,000 battle tanks." Demirel announced in Kyiv that Turkey is going to spend $150 billion on armaments over the next 30 years. JM PUSTOVOYTENKO SAYS COAL MINERS STRIKES POLITICALLY MOTIVATED. Ukrainian Prime Minister Valeriy Pustovoytenko has said the recent strikes in the coal mining sector are organized by political forces interested in destabilizing and ousting the government, Ukrainian Television reported on 21 May. Pustovoytenko added that his opinion is based on reports by the Interior Ministry and the Security Service. "Today, the Hromada faction is collecting signatures to seek the government's resignation," Ukrainian Television quoted Pustovoytenko as saying. JM FOUR CAUCUSES APPEAL FOR COMPROMISE IN ELECTING SPEAKER. Four parliamentary groups have appealed for a compromise on the election of a speaker and new parliamentary leadership, Ukrainian Television reported on 21 May. The Popular Democratic Party, the Popular Rukh, the Social Democrats, and the Greens have proposed forming the parliamentary leadership on the basis of equal participation of all political forces represented in the legislature. The groups believe that the speaker should be elected from among centrist politicians who are not interested in seeking the presidency in the 1999 presidential elections. Observers say that since no party or bloc has an absolute majority and 13 candidates have been proposed for the post of speaker, there may be a stalemate within the Supreme Council if no compromise is reached on its speaker. JM WORLD BANK LENDS KYIV $200 MILLION TO IMPROVE HEATING SYSTEM. The World Bank has approved a $200 million loan to Ukraine to modernize and improve the central heating system in Kyiv. But the loan will be on hold until Ukraine makes more progress in economic reform, Reuters reported. In March, the World Bank delayed releasing $600 million in loans to support business and strengthen the banking sector because of the slow pace of microeconomic reform. World Bank representative for Ukraine Paul Siegelbaum told Reuters that the current loan is "investment lending" to the project, which, he said, will pay for itself "in three or four years" due to an increased efficiency in heat delivery. JM BELARUSIAN TRADE UNIONS CALL FOR PROTEST ACTIONS. A national conference of trade unions and working collectives held in Minsk on 21 May called on regional trade union organizations to organize protest actions against the deterioration of living standards in Belarus, Belapan reported. The conference demanded a change in the government's socio- economic course and an increase in the minimum wage. If those demands are not met, the trade unions intends to hold a nationwide protest action in October and to seek the government's resignation. JM LATVIA PRESIDENT INSISTS ON ABOLITION OF DEATH PENALTY. Guntis Ulmanis on 21 May called for the parliament to review the recently passed criminal code, which provides for maintaining the death penalty, BNS and Reuters reported. In a statement, the president's press office said Ulmanis stressed again his conviction that capital punishment should be abolished in Latvia. He pointed out that Latvia undertook to scrap the death penalty when it joined the Council of Europe in 1995 by ratifying the sixth protocol of the European Convention for the Protection for Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms. The parliament must comply with Ulmanis's request to review the law but need not make the changes he wants. If it does not amend the law, he cannot ask for it to be reviewed again. JC LITHUANIAN INTERIOR MINISTER RESIGNS. BNS reported on 21 May that President Valdas Adamkus has signed a decree accepting the resignation of Interior Minister Vidmantas Ziemelis and appointing Justice Minister Vytautas Pakalniskis as acting interior minister for the time being. Ziemelis, a member of the ruling Conservative Party, admitted he was quitting over disagreements with Premier Gediminas Vagnorius, who, together with the opposition, has criticized the former minister for poor performance in fighting crime. In particular, Ziemelis has come under attack for the lack of progress in solving the recent wave of bomb attacks in Lithuania. JC POLISH COALITION PARTNERS DIFFER OVER MEDIA CONTROL. The appointment of a new Radio Board of Directors has provoked quarrels between Solidarity Electoral Action (AWS) and the Freedom Union, "Rzeczpospolita" and "Zycie" reported on 22 May. The AWS accuses the Freedom Union of supporting the opposition's media policies by making deals with the opposition over control of the media. The new board consists of two Democratic Left Alliance representatives, two Peasant Party representatives, and one representative linked to the Freedom Union. The Freedom Union proposes that the four parties meet to seek a compromise before the appointment of the Television Board of Directors, scheduled for next month. JM SLOVAK GOVERNMENT CLOSES GAP IN POLLS. The governing coalition in Slovakia has slightly closed the gap between itself and the combined opposition forces, Reuters reported on 21 May. A poll conducted by the Bratislava-based Opinions institute earlier this month shows the opposition's lead reduced from 62 percent in April to 52 percent. The coalition parties are now backed by 31 percent, 1 percent less than last month. Prime Minister Vladimir Meciar's Movement for a Democratic Slovakia is the single most popular party (21 percent), slightly ahead of the opposition Slovak Democratic Coalition (19 percent). The opposition Party of Civic Understanding and Party of the Democratic Left are backed by 13 percent each, and the Hungarian Coalition by 7 percent. The ultra-right Slovak National Party's has 8 percent support and the leftist Workers' Party 2 percent, below the 5 percent threshold for parliamentary representation. MS SLOVAKIA REJECTS AUSTRIAN CONCERN OVER REACTOR. Deputy Prime Minister Sergej Kozlik on 21 May said it is "impossible to consider" in a gesture of goodwill Austrian demands to postpone starting operations at the Mochovce nuclear plant, "especially when no adequate reasons are offered," Reuters reported.The next day, 25 protestors from Austrian environmental and anti-nuclear groups occupied a room in the Slovak Embassy in Vienna, while others chained themselves to the compound's gate. MS FIDESZ LEADER DENIES 'GRAND COALITION' PLANS. Viktor Orban, head of the main opposition Federation of Young Democrats- Hungarian Civic Party (FIDESZ-MPP), on 21 May excluded the possibility of a "grand coalition" of his party with the Socialists. Cooperation with Socialists and their coalition partner, the Alliance of Free Democrats (SZDSZ), would run counter to the meaning of democracy, as a democratic system implies the existence of an alternative, he said. SZDSZ chairman Gabor Kuncze said that if voters choose to unseat the present government, they face uncertainty, since FIDESZ- MPP has not named its potential coalition partners. On 22 May, Independent Smallholders' Party chairman Jozsef Torgyan announced he is withdrawing 82 candidates in favor of FIDESZ. MSZ SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE ORTHODOX CHURCH SLAMS MILOSEVIC. Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic turned down an invitation from Serbian Orthodox Patriarch Pavle to meet with him and Montenegrin President Milo Djukanovic in Belgrade on 21 May. After Pavle held talks with Djukanovic and Montenegrin parliamentary speaker Svetozar Marovic, a Church spokesman said Milosevic has been arbitrary in his policy toward Montenegro and wants to destroy the federal Yugoslav state (see "End Note" below). Montenegrin Metropolitan Amfilohije and Bishop Artemije from Kosova charged Milosevic with "consciously or unconsciously helping those who want to destroy the joint state of Serbia and Montenegro," RFE/RL's South Slavic Service reported. Artemije, who favors reconciliation with the Kosovars, added that Milosevic "has suicidal tendencies, to which he has subordinated the fate of the Serbian people." Both of Milosevic's parents committed suicide. The Church has long mistrusted Milosevic because of his communist background. PM U.S. WARNS MILOSEVIC OVER MONTENEGRO. A State Department spokesman said in Washington on 21 May that Milosevic's ouster of Prime Minister Radoje Kontic three days earlier was "of dubious legality" and was "intended to influence the 31 May parliamentary elections. Such blatant political maneuvering by the political leadership in Belgrade by Mr. Milosevic to maintain power diminishes public confidence in democratic processes. [Milosevic's actions threaten] instability not only in Montenegro but also in the rest of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia." The spokesman stressed the Montenegrin vote must be free and fair and that all parties must respect its outcome. He added: "We have made it clear to Belgrade that its handling of Montenegro will affect its relations with the international community.... We regard this blatant political maneuvering as only undermining international confidence in President Milosevic's leadership." PM SERBIAN MIG CRASHES IN KOSOVA. Serbian military spokesmen said in Prishtina on 21 May that a MiG 21 crashed just east of that city due to a technical failure. The pilot ejected and landed safely. There was no independent confirmation on the nature of the crash. The Kosova Liberation Army has often claimed that it has Strela and Stinger anti-aircraft missiles, RFE/RL's South Slavic Service reported. And to the west of Prishtina, Reuters reported that a Russian-built Hind M-24 attack helicopter "hovered" over the Prishtina- Peja road, which has been the scene of fighting for at least two weeks. Journalists noted that half of the helicopter's rocket launching pads were empty but did not see it fire its missiles. PM BELGRADE CLOSES LAST BORDER CROSSING WITH ALBANIA. Federal Yugoslav authorities on 21 May closed the border crossing on the road connecting Kukes and Prizren. It was the last open checkpoint on the border between Albania and Yugoslavia. On 11 May, the Yugoslav authorities closed the checkpoints between Montenegro and Albania. The remote city of Kukes is largely dependent on imports from Kosova and Serbia. About 1,000 inhabitants of Kukes earn their living in cross-border trade, mostly involving basic food stuffs, "Koha Jone" reported. The daily added that residents of Kukes have begun storing food supplies. In Prizren, shops are empty and gasoline stations closed owing to Serbia's blockade of Kosova that began earlier this week (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 18 May 1998). FS MUSLIM PARTY TO JOIN DJUKANOVIC COALITION. A spokesman for the Montenegrin branch of the Bosnian Muslim Party of Democratic Action (SDA) said in Sarajevo on 21 May that the SDA will join Djukanovic's party and two-other reformist parties in a coalition following the 31 May elections. The SDA will field 35 candidates on a list headed by Sefer Medjedovic, "Oslobodjenje" reported. PM NON-SERBIAN PARTIES BOYCOTT BANJA LUKA PARLIAMENT. Legislators from the SDA and the Social Democratic Party walked out of the Republika Srpska parliament in Banja Luka on 21 May. They say they will not return until the legislature changes the constitution to allow non-Serbian parties to elect their own deputy speaker of parliament. In Sarajevo, spokesmen for the international community's Carlos Westendorp launched an open competition for a joint Bosnian national anthem. The spokesmen added that Westendorp will select the winner if the three ethnic groups cannot reach agreement among themselves (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 21 May 1998). And in New York, the UN Security Council agreed to add 30 more police to the existing contingent of 2,045 international police in Bosnia-Herzegovina. PM AIR LINKS BETWEEN BOSNIA, YUGOSLAVIA RESTORED. An Air Bosnia aircraft flew from Sarajevo to Belgrade on 21 May, the first civilian airplane to fly a scheduled flight between the two capitals in six years. Air Bosnia, Montenegrin Airlines, and Serbia's JAT will fly several flights weekly to link Sarajevo and Banja Luka with Belgrade and Podgorica. PM CROATIAN PRIME MINISTER DEFENDS BANKS. Zlatko Matesa told the parliament on 21 May that the overall situation of the banking sector is "stable." He added that the government and the National Bank are working on a solution to the liquidity problems that some banks are facing. Newly appointed Defense Minister Andrija Hebrang told the legislature that his main task is to transform the army from being a wartime to a peacetime institution. Hebrang said he intends to complete the restructuring "within the next few months," "Novi List" wrote. PM SLOVENIAN PRIME MINISTER SURVIVES CONFIDENCE VOTE. Janez Drnovsek won a vote of confidence in the parliament on 21 May. Opposition leader Janez Jansa recently demanded the vote after charging that Drnovsek knew about a 1995 secret security agreement with Israel (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 18 May 1998). PM ALBANIAN PRESIDENT AGREES TO CHANGE ELECTORAL LAW. Rexhep Meidani on 21 May announced a change in the local electoral law following negotiations with opposition leader Sali Berisha, which Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe Ambassador Daan Everts mediated. The Central Election Commission will henceforth make its decisions by a two- thirds, rather than simple, majority, "Gazeta Shqiptare" reported. Berisha, for his part, agreed that his Democratic Party will field candidates in the local elections slated for 21 June, which he previously threatened to boycott (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 21 May 1998). In other news, unidentified attackers ambushed and killed two policemen near Burrel. The officers were investigating organized crime in the area. FS NEW POLITICAL ALLIANCE FORMED IN ROMANIA. The Social Democratic Party of Romania (PSDR) and the Alliance for Romania Party (APR) on 21 May signed an accord to cooperate in the parliament, RFE/RL's Bucharest bureau reported. The two formations' deputy chairmen, Emil Putin and Mircea Cosea, said the accord may eventually result in the "setting up of a Social Democratic pole." They added that the alliance is open to other Social Democratic formations. PSDR chairman Sergiu Cunescu said the accord "does not affect" his party's relations with the Democratic Party, with which the PSDR ran in the 1996 elections on a joint Social Democratic Union list. But Democratic Party leader Petre Roman said he "fails to comprehend" the sense of an agreement between a party that is a member of the ruling coalition (the PSDR) and one belonging to the opposition (the APR). MS EU WELCOMES ROMANIAN INTENTION TO DECRIMINALIZE HOMOSEXUALITY. The EU on 21 May said it welcomes the Romanian government's "proposed amendments to the Penal Code relating to homosexuality." Last week, the government submitted to the parliament several amendments to existing legislation, and in a 20 May interview with Reuters, Justice Minister Valeriu Stoica said he hopes the amendments will be passed in the current session. Stoica also said the proposed amendments do away with libel suits under which journalists have been convicted and for which the Council of Europe has criticized Romania. MS MOLDOVAN PARLIAMENT APPROVES CIUBUC'S CABINET. After lengthy negotiations between Prime Minister Ion Ciubuc and the parties belonging to the Alliance for Democracy and Reform, the parliament on 21 May approved the new cabinet, RFE/RL's Chisinau bureau reported. The vote was 59 to 36. Ciubuc has four deputy prime ministers: Ion Sturza of For a Prosperous and Democratic Moldova Bloc (PMPD), Valentin Dolganiuc and Nicolae Andronic of the Democratic Convention of Moldova (CDM), and Oleg Stratulat of the Party of Democratic Forces. Nicolae Cernomaz (PMPD) remains as minister of state but Ciubuc was forced to agree to remove Interior Minister Mihai Plamadeala, who is now replaced by Victor Catan (CDM). Foreign Minister Nicolae Tabacaru, National Security Minister Tudor Botnaru and Defense Minister Valeriu Pasat kept their portfolios. Roughly one-third of the new government's members served in Ciubuc's previous cabinet. MS KOSTOV LISTS PRIORITIES. Bulgarian Prime Minister Ivan Kostov told RFE/RL on 21 May that his government's priorities remain administrative reform and privatization. He said he had underestimated the complexity of administrative reform because of the extent of corruption and crime. Bulgaria's "immune system" must be strengthened to deal with those "diseases," he commented. Kostov said that privatization has slowed down because the government is seeking the expertise of foreign investment banks and financial consultants in order to "privatize the privatization process." This is necessary, he added, because administration personnel are "corrupt, secretive and reluctant to give up [their] power over the economy." MS END NOTE BRINKMANSHIP IN BELGRADE by Patrick Moore Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic is on a collision course with the reformist leadership of Montenegro under President Milo Djukanovic. Milosevic's immediate goal may be to influence Montenegrin voters in the runup to the 31 May parliamentary elections, but the outcome of his actions may have longer-term repercussions. The current political crisis began on 18 May, when federal parliamentary deputies unseated Milosevic's prime minister, Radoje Kontic. The following day, Milosevic nominated as prime minister his ally Momir Bulatovic, who is also Montenegro's former president and the political arch- enemy of Djukanovic. The legislature quickly approved Milosevic's choice on 20 May. Kontic's grave mistake in Milosevic's eyes was his failure to help Bulatovic stay in office in Podgorica after his term expired in January. At that time Bulatovic stirred up violence and hoped to prompt Belgrade to declare a state of emergency and prevent Djukanovic's inauguration, but Kontic refused to intervene. In the end, the Montenegrin police kept Bulatovic's rowdies under control and Djukanovic took office on schedule. Djukanovic has mounted the strongest challenge to Milosevic from within Serbia or Montenegro since the former Yugoslavia collapsed in 1991-1992. Throughout last year, then Prime Minister Djukanovic argued that Milosevic's policies were keeping Yugoslavia isolated internationally and consequently preventing the economic revival of Montenegro, which traditionally depends on tourism and shipping to earn foreign exchange. As president in 1998, Djukanovic visited Washington and other Western capitals, where he received a sympathetic hearing and offers of political and economic support in his efforts to return his country to membership in the international community. After Milosevic launched his campaign of repression in Kosova at the end of February, Djukanovic disassociated himself from the use of violence and called for internationally mediated talks leading to autonomy for Kosova. Speaking to French journalists on 13 April in Podgorica, Djukanovic charged that "Milosevic is tragically behind the times in his assessments and is always embarking on new political failures." The Montenegrin leader dubbed Milosevic's 23 April referendum against foreign mediation in Kosova "the collective suicide...he proposes for the Serbian people." Djukanovic urged the international community to back his "efforts to form a block of reformist forces [in Yugoslavia] capable of barring the way to the damaging policies that Milosevic personifies." The spring of 1998 thus found Milosevic confronting two crises that were largely of his own making. The first was in Kosova, where his repressive policies had radicalized much of the mainly ethnic Albanian population and driven them into the arms of the shadowy Kosova Liberation Army. His policies in Kosova also threatened to trigger the reimposition of the political isolation and economic sanctions that the international community had placed on Yugoslavia during the Croatian and Bosnian wars of 1991- 1995. The second crisis was with Montenegro, whose leadership insisted upon full equality with Serbia within the federation and resented Milosevic's attempts to increase his own powers at the expense of the republics. Djukanovic, moreover, was clear about his own policy goals and had won the support of a slight majority of the voters the previous October. Moreover, he made it clear on 19 May that he would not allow Milosevic to provoke "Montenegro into giving up the idea of joint statehood [with Serbia] by engaging in irresponsible, uncontrolled, and unpredictable moves on the federal level," such as sacking Kontic and replacing him with Bulatovic. With regard to his relations with Podgorica, Milosevic may have sought to bring matters to a head in the runup to parliamentary elections in Montenegro at the end of May. He may have reasoned that a bit of pressure from Belgrade might cost Djukanovic's supporters votes and bolster the chances of Bulatovic's backers. The Yugoslav president may also have felt that he needs to bring Montenegro into line as he prepares for what may prove a longer confrontation with both the ethnic Albanians and the international community over Kosova. But that strategy could backfire on the Yugoslav president. He is himself of Montenegrin origin and has presumably made his calculations carefully; but a head-on confrontation with Djukanovic is potentially fraught with danger for Milosevic, and its outcome is not easy to predict. In Montenegrin politics, the fault lines traditionally involve relationships between clans and tensions between supporters of unity with Serbia and those who favor emphasizing a separate Montenegrin identity. But even among those who back close ties with Belgrade, there are few who would submit Montenegro to centralized rule from the capital. Djukanovic, for his part, has made it clear that he and his government will recognize neither the sacking of Kontic, the election of Bulatovic, nor the appointment of Bulatovic's government. Meanwhile, speculation is rife in Belgrade and Podgorica as to whether Milosevic will now begin to purge other prominent officials who have defended the autonomy of their respective institutions and have not done his bidding. One such individual is General Momcilo Perisic, the chief of the General Staff, who kept the army out of the Milosevic- Djukanovic feud and has been less than enthusiastic about waging a war in Kosova. Whatever may happen in the coming days, Belgrade is clearly faced with its worst constitutional crisis since the breakup in 1991-1992 of the Yugoslavia created by Marshal Josip Broz Tito. xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx Copyright (c) 1998 RFE/RL, Inc. All rights reserved. xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx HOW TO SUBSCRIBE Send an email to email@example.com with the word "subscribe" as the subject or body of the message. 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