|A host is like general: calamities often reveal his genius. - Horace|
RFE/RL NEWSLINE Vol. 2, No. 99 Part II, 26 May 1998
___________________________________________________________ RFE/RL NEWSLINE Vol. 2, No. 99 Part II, 26 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 CRISIS ON UKRAINIAN FARMS The decline of Ukraine's agriculture sector has been continuous since Kyiv declared independence from the Soviet Union in 1991. This report includes articles and photos. http://www.rferl.org/nca/special/ukraine-farms/index.html xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx Headlines, Part II * HUNGARY'S FIDESZ SAYS NO PURGE * 'REAL STATE OF WAR' IN KOSOVA * KOSOVAR-SERBIAN TALKS THREATENED End Note: HUNGARY'S POLITICAL ELITE TO FACE MAJOR CHALLENGES xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx EAST-CENTRAL EUROPE UKRAINE'S STRIKING MINERS WANT TO GET RID OF MIDDLEMEN. In addition to demanding the payment of wage arrears for the past 10 months, Pervomaysk miners picketing the Luhansk Oblast administration building want middlemen to be eliminated from the coal trade, ITAR-TASS reported. The middlemen, they argue, have "robbed us: they have bought coal from us very cheaply and sold it at prices several times higher." Negotiations with the oblast administration have yielded no results, since the authorities continue to pledge wages for this month. JM BELARUS-RUSSIA UNION OBSTRUCTING 'GLOBALIZATION'? Belarusian Foreign Minister Ivan Antanovich, addressing the Russian Academy of Social Sciences in Minsk on 25 May, said that the Belarus-Russia union has become "a major barrier on the road of world globalization," ITAR-TASS and Belapan reported. "Supranational corporations have practically dominated the entire world, but today nobody calls this process imperialism, it is called globalization," he commented. The Belarus-Russia union, he continued, has revived the "more than 1,000-year tradition of making a great state." Antanovich added that it is possible to introduce joint systems of control within the union, primarily in the financial, power engineering, transport, communications, and defense sectors. With regard to the union's future, Antanovich commented that he personally would like to see a "Slavic Orthodox state." JM ESTONIA'S PEOPLE'S PARTY TO COOPERATE WITH GOVERNMENT. The People's Party has said it is willing to cooperate with the ruling coalition in order to keep party leader, Foreign Minister Toomas Hendrik Ilves, in the government, ETA reported on 25 May. That statement follows a threat by the ruling coalition to dismiss both Ilves and Ethnic Affairs Minister Andra Veidemann of the Development Party if their formations continued to refuse to share responsibility for the government's actions (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 21 May 1998). "The People's Party is prepared to cooperate with the coalition on the basis of the existing cooperation agreement," said Indrek Kannik, the party's press secretary. Ilves commented that he can see no "significant problems" preventing him from continuing as foreign minister, adding that there were no problems beforehand, either. JC BANK OF ESTONIAN OFFICIALS TO BE CHARGED OVER $10 MILLION AFFAIR. The Central Bureau of Investigation is to bring charges against leading officials of the Bank of Estonia in connection with a $10 million affair that emerged in 1993- 1994, ETA reported on 25 May. Among those to be charged are current President Vahur Kraft, his predecessor Siim Kallas, and former legal expert Urmas Kaju. In 1993, the former North Estonian Bank (PEP) invested $10 million in an oil deal led by the Swiss-based company Paradiso SAL. When the deal collapsed, Paradiso SAL paid back only $2 million. The Bank of Estonia became involved in 1994 when it issued a guarantee to the PEP to help it recover its losses. According to Kallas, the central bank's only involvement in the affair was issuing the guarantee to PEP. JC LITHUANIAN PRESIDENT ORDERS PROBE INTO ALLEGED SURVEILLANCE. Valdas Adamkus has ordered the prosecutor-general to investigate media reports alleging the Interior Ministry spied on top officials, ITAR-TASS reported on 25 May, citing a statement issued by the presidential press service. According to the allegations, which were first made in the 23 May "Lietuvos Rytas, an Interior Ministry unit normally engaged in fighting crime and providing security to the president was used to carry out surveillance of the country's top leaders, including the head of state, the premier, and cabinet ministers. It is also alleged that most of the collected information was passed on to parliamentary speaker Vytautas Landsbergis and former Interior Minister Vidmantas Ziemelis, who resigned last week under pressure (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 22 May 1998). The main opposition Democratic Labor Party has called for Landsbergis's resignation over the scandal. JC EU SLASHES PRE-ENTRY AID PROGRAM TO POLAND. The European Commission on 25 May announced that Poland will receive 178 million ecus under the PHARE program intended to prepare the country for EU membership, instead of the 212 million ecus originally envisaged for this year, Reuters reported. EU sources said some of the projects submitted by Poland were "irrelevant" to its membership preparations and some were considered not ready for implementation. "Rzeczpospolita" reported that Prime Minister Jerzy Buzek has fired a government official responsible for drawing up EU-oriented projects. JM POLAND TO LAUNCH EDUCATION REFORM IN 1999. Education Minister Miroslaw Handke has presented an educational reform program to be launched next year, "Gazeta Wyborcza" reported on 26 May. The primary school system will have six grades, rather than the current eight, while secondary education will be offered by three-year colleges or two-year vocational schools. JM CZECH PARLIAMENT CALLS FOR DISMISSAL OF FINANCE MINISTER. The Chamber of Deputies on 22 May approved an opposition resolution calling on Premier Jozef Tosovsky to dismiss Finance Minister Ivan Pilip for his handling of privatization and deregulation in the housing and energy sectors, Reuters reported. The resolution is non-binding. In another development, Eduard Kremlicka, the leader of the Pensioners for Life and Security Party (DZJ), told Reuters he would like to join the Social Democratic Party in a coalition after the June elections. Opinion polls show support for the DZJ at some 6-11 percent. MS EU TO PRESS SLOVAKIA ON NUCLEAR PLANT. Austrian Foreign Minister Wolfgang Schussel said on 25 May that the EU has agreed to raise safety concerns with Slovakia over the startup of the Mochovce nuclear plant, Reuters reported. Schussel was speaking in Brussels after discussing the plant with British Foreign Secretary Robin Cook, who is the president of the EU council, and European Commission President Jacques Santer. PB HUNGARY'S FIDESZ SAYS NO PURGE. Prime Minister-designate Viktor Orban told Hungarian media on 25 May that coalition talks between his Federation of Young Democrats-Hungarian Civic Party (FIDESZ-MPP) and the Independent Smallholders' Party are likely begin this week. He said that the new government does not plan political purges, only radical transformations, adding that a crackdown on corruption will begin from "the top down" through screenings. Orban also said he foresees a bigger role for the premier's office, as well as a strong ministry for economic affairs. Also on 25 May, the Budapest stock continued to nose-dive amid uncertainty over the new government's economic policies. The leading BUX index was more than 8 percent down on last week's closing level. MSZ/PB HUNGARIAN SOCIALIST LEADER TO RETIRE? Gyula Horn, chairman of the Socialist Party (MSZP), told the party's governing board that he is prepared to "face up to the idea of retiring" at the MSZP's fall congress, "Magyar Hirlap" reported on 26 May. Horn said the work of the past four years has proved tiring for him, and he urged the younger generation to play a more important role in the party. Horn added that a change of style is needed for the MSZP to become a constructive opposition. MSZ NEIGHBORS RESPOND TO HUNGARIAN ELECTION RESULTS. Slovak Foreign Ministry spokesman Milan Tokar on 25 May said Bratislava hopes relations with Hungary will improve after a new government is formed in Budapest, Reuters reported. Observers say the opposite may be the case, since the FIDESZ has often been more sharply critical of Bratislava's policies toward the Hungarian minority in Slovakia than was the outgoing Hungarian government. Meanwhile in Romania, Ion Diaconescu, chairman of the main ruling National Peasant Party Christian Democratic, said he believes recent statements by Orban on the rights of Hungarian ethnic minorities in neighboring countries had served "electoral purposes" but would not be the line of the new government. MS SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE 'REAL STATE OF WAR' IN KOSOVA. The Democratic League of Kosova on 25 May said Serbian forces are on the attack in the Klina, Gjakova, Decan, and Skenderaj regions and that a "real state of war" exists in those places, RFE/RL's South Slavic Service reported. Kosovar sources said that numerous villages are in flames and that a growing number of refugees are on the move. The Kosovar sources added that more than 6,000 ethnic Albanians have arrived recently in Gjakova from surrounding villages and from those in the neighboring Decan area. There is no independent confirmation of reports from either side of deaths and injuries because of the Serbian- imposed blockade of the affected regions. PM KOSOVAR-SERBIAN TALKS THREATENED. Kosovar spokesmen said in Prishtina on 25 May that the continuing Serbian offensive threatens to put a halt to the weekly talks between Kosovar and Serbian delegations (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 25 May 1998). The spokesmen called for international involvement to put an end to what they called a "dramatic situation on the ground." In Brussels, EU foreign ministers agreed to drop a proposed ban of foreign investment in Serbia. The international Contact Group agreed on 18 May to suspend the proposed ban in response to Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic's willingness to launch talks with the Kosovar leadership. PM ALBANIAN PRESIDENT CALLS KOSOVA TALKS A SHAM. Rexhep Meidani told Reuters on 25 May in Tirana that the weekly Kosova talks are "a sham aimed at delaying the solution of the situation, and without a mediator this game will continue and will be in Milosevic's favor." Meidani pointed out that "Milosevic keeps the situation at this level in order to make dialog fruitless," adding that "his main preoccupation is the outcome of the [31 May] elections in Montenegro." Meidani stressed that "holding a dialog while bloodshed continues...is just a facade" and warned that the Kosovar negotiators could lose credibility with their own people if they continue to participate in the talks. Meidani also called for an international military presence in Kosova: "a delayed decision...to send troops will be more expensive [in the long run], and time is running out." FS KOSOVAR STUDENTS ARRESTED. The main student organization at Prishtina University issued a statement on 25 May saying that police arrested seven leaders of the Students' Union at the Prizren Teachers' College two days earlier. The police gave no reason for the arrests, and it is unclear where the seven are being held. PM NATO TO HOLD EXERCISE IN MACEDONIA. Units from NATO member countries and unspecified states participating in the Partnership for Peace Program will hold "large maneuvers" in Macedonia in early September, RFE/RL's South Slavic Service reported from Brussels on 25 May. The aim of the exercise is to help prepare Macedonia to secure its borders "in case of a dramatic worsening of the situation in Kosova." PM KUCAN CALLS FOR COMPREHENSIVE BALKAN SETTLEMENT. Slovenian President Milan Kucan told the "Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung" of 25 May that the conflict in Kosova could "lead to a new Balkan war." He stressed that international community must realize that "the fate of the Balkans" is currently being decided in that region. Kucan added that empty pronouncements and a "carrot-and-stick [diplomatic approach] will yield no useful results." The Slovenian president stated that Balkan problems cannot be solved piecemeal and that sooner or later a European conference will have to formulate a comprehensive regional settlement. Kucan stressed that Milosevic is responsible for the failure of the Yugoslav successor states to reach a settlement among themselves over the former Yugoslavia's debts and assets. PM BIG PROTEST IN BELGRADE. Several thousand persons demonstrated in the center of Serbia's capital on 25 May to protest new laws that will curb university autonomy. Democratic Party leader Zoran Djindjic said that the government aims to make the universities "branch offices" of state institutions. The protesters also criticized Milosevic's policies against the independent media whereby licenses to 35 out of 38 independent radio or television stations were not renewed. The polices also saddled the remaining three stations with fees ranging up to $15,000 a month, which, spokesmen for the stations said, will bankrupt them. In Podgorica, Montenegrin President Milo Djukanovic said the recent call by federal authorities for changes in the security apparatus is aimed at reducing Montenegro's powers. PM NATO INVESTIGATING CHILD PROSTITUTION CHARGES. A spokesman for SFOR peacekeepers said in Sarajevo on 25 May that the Atlantic alliance is investigating charges made by the Madrid daily "El Mundo" on 23 May that peacekeepers and Bosnian gangs are regularly supplying prostitutes between 12 and 14 years of age to Italian, Portuguese, and other SFOR soldiers in Bosnia. The newspaper added that the Spanish secret service CESID made a report on the prostitution ring last summer but that it continues to operate. NATO Secretary-General Javier Solana said in Barcelona that the report in "El Mundo" is "groundless." SFOR officials in Sarajevo called on the daily to publish evidence to support its claims. PM ALBANIAN LAUDS VATICAN TIES. Albanian Prime Minister Fatos Nano told the Holy See's Cardinal Tomko in Shkodra on 25 May that "Albania's relations with the Vatican are very important for its integration into civilized Europe and the Roman Catholic world in general." Nano also thanked Catholic missionaries for the help they have given Albanian citizens since the end of communism. Nano and President Meidani were visiting Shkodra for the inauguration of a reconstructed church, "Zeri i Popullit" reported. In 1967, dictator Enver Hoxha proclaimed Albania "the world's first atheist state." Many religious buildings and properties were subsequently destroyed. FS ALBANIAN PROSECUTORS LINK OPPOSITION LEGISLATOR TO BOMB ATTACK. Tirana prosecutors on 25 May submitted the findings of an investigation into Democratic Party deputy Azem Hajdari to parliamentary speaker Skender Gjinushi. Hajdari is charged with slandering Vlora journalist Zenepe Luka on 10 May, whose house was subsequently bombed by unknown persons (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 11 May 1998). He is also accused of obstructing the police during a clash between his supporters and police at a roadblock in Milot in mid- February (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 16 February 1998) and slandering former Interior Minister Neritan Ceka and current Secret Service chief Fatos Klosi. The parliament lifted Hajdari's immunity in March 1998 and will soon decide whether to press formal charges against him, "Koha Jone" reported. FS ROMANIAN PRESIDENT IN CANADA. Emil Constantinescu has met with Canadian Governor General Romeo Leblanc and Prime Minister Jean Chretien at the beginning of a six-day visit, an RFE/RL correspondent in Ottawa reported on 25 May. Among the main issues discussed were Canadian support for Romania's bid to join NATO and financing a second Canadian- built nuclear reactor at the Cernavoda plant on the River Danube. Constantinescu announced after the talks that at Canada's urging, Italy will purchase surplus electricity from Romania, which, he said, will help finance the second Cernavoda reactor. MS ROMANIAN PREMIER IN TURKEY. Speaking in Istanbul on 25 May, Radu Vasile thanked Ankara for its efforts to promote Romania's entry into NATO, the "Turkish Daily News" reported. Vasile met with his Turkish counterpart, Mesut Yilmaz, and President Suleyman Demirel to discuss bilateral trade and the various plans for the transit of Caspian Sea oil. Yilmaz noted that the two countries "will be key players in the economic development, peace, and stability of the region." MS/PB MOLDOVAN PRESIDENT ON NEW CABINET PRIORITIES. Petru Lucinschi on 25 May said the first priority of Ion Ciubuc's new cabinet must be to complete the transition to a market economy, RFE/RL's Chisinau bureau reported. Lucinschi said the pace of the reform was "unsatisfactory" and that annual GDP growth must reach 5 percent, which, he said, can be achieved only by "doing away with the underground [gray] economy." He added that taxes must be reduced in order to encourage investments and create new jobs. MS BULGARIAN PARLIAMENT REJECTS OPPOSITION MOTION. Lawmakers on 22 May rejected a Socialist Party motion criticizing the government for its economic policies. They approved a resolution saying that the cabinet has "successfully fulfilled" its economic program and recommending that the government speed up privatization and land restitution. In other news, Bulgaria has said it will peg its currency to the euro when it is launched on 1 January. MS END NOTE HUNGARY'S POLITICAL ELITE TO FACE MAJOR CHALLENGES by George Schopflin The outcome of the second round of the Hungarian elections poses major challenges for the country's political elite. The victory of the center and right was clear, but not overwhelming, hence the new coalition's mandate will be predominantly for moderation. Evidently, Hungarian society wanted a change from the previous coalition of the former communist Socialist Party (MSZP) and the liberal Free Democrats. The outgoing coalition was punished for a number of related reasons. In the first place, the 1994 coalition came to power on the promise of professionalism and moderation, as well as greater economic sophistication than its predecessor had offered. While the Hungarian economy is beginning to pick up, the MSZP behaved with a degree of arrogance and corruption that cannot have endeared it to voters. Furthermore, the economic transformation process has had its losers, many of whom might have supported the new government if they themselves had experienced a different fate. The new coalition is currently being formed, but its outlines are clear. FIDESZ, the Young Democrats, gained 41 percent of the vote in alliance with the remnants of the Hungarian Democratic Forum, the dominant party in the 1990- 1994 government. FIDESZ will negotiate with the Smallholders, the agrarian radicals, with whom it will have about 54 percent of the seats in the parliament. The preconditions of such a coalition were established during the election, when FIDESZ and the Smallholders withdrew candidates in favor of the other. The new government faces a number of difficulties, the most important of which is defining its philosophy: What are the principles of moderate conservatism in Hungary (and elsewhere in the post-communist world) when much of the past that a conservative seeks to conserve is a communist past? Without a clear answer to that question, post-communist conservatives run the risk of being held to ransom by populist and nationalist right radicals. This danger is all the more serious because the Smallholders are prone to use right-radical rhetoric and because the extreme right, the Hungarian Justice and Life Party (MIEP), has also entered the new parliament. The new coalition also faces the problem of its inexperience in government. The running of a bureaucracy requires skills of organization and management as well as knowledge of what can and cannot be expected of an administration. It is crucial that politicians learn that there is always a gap between a political decision and its execution. This is not the result of antagonism on the part of the bureaucracy but, more probably, of administrative inefficiency. The problem of the cohesiveness of the coalition and the degree of administrative inefficiency will be central to the success or failure of the new government. The pivotal challenge facing Hungary over the next four years is negotiation for accession to the EU. This will demand both high levels of political will and state capacity. As far as the latter is concerned, Hungary (together with the other first-wave states) will have to absorb the "acquis comunautaire," the entire legal regulation of the EU. This is currently estimated to be 35,000 pages in length and is still growing. Legislative, administrative, and judicial capacity will all be stretched to ensure successful implementation of the "acquis," without which membership is impossible. Another problem facing the Hungarian political establishment is that left and right behave as if the other had no genuine claim to power, as if the voters were mistaken in returning the other to power. No party in a democracy enjoys losing power, but the loss of power does not normally lead to major collapse. In the present context, the relatively inexperienced center-right government needs the toleration of the opposition or, at any rate, recognition by the elites that dominate the public sphere (press, electronic media) that the center-right has genuine democratic credentials. It is very much an open question whether the dominant opinion-forming elite will accept the new coalition on these terms: after all, it was absolutely unwilling to accept the democratic legitimacy of the 1990-1994 government. Arguably, it thereby contributed toward its radicalization and thus became the victim of a self-fulfilling prophecy. This dominant elite regards the center-left as the sole guarantor of democracy and tolerance and consequently has found it extremely painful to live with the democratic choice of the majority. The problem for Hungary is that without the support of the opinion-forming elites, the new government will certainly feel isolated. It will undoubtedly need a higher degree of backing than its predecessor received, both to sustain its self-legitimacy and to enable the process of negotiating with the EU to continue. The author is Jean Monnet Professor of Political Science and director of the Centre for the Study of Nationalism at the School of Slavonic and East European Studies, University of London. 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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