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RFE/RL NEWSLINE Vol. 2, No. 100 Part II, 27 May 1998
___________________________________________________________ RFE/RL NEWSLINE Vol. 2, No. 100 Part II, 27 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 * IMPASSE IN UKRAINIAN PARLIAMENT OVER ELECTION OF SPEAKER * KOSOVAR-SERBIAN TALKS CANCELED * SERBIA ENDS UNIVERSITY AUTONOMY xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx EAST-CENTRAL EUROPE IMPASSE IN UKRAINIAN PARLIAMENT OVER ELECTION OF SPEAKER. The Ukrainian Supreme Council on 26 May failed to elect a new speaker for the second time, ITAR-TASS reported. Only 220 deputies took part in the second vote; a valid ballot requires 294 deputies to participate. Communist Party leader Petro Symonenko gained 151 votes, 50 fewer than he received in the first vote (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 25 May 1998). Four center-right parliamentary groups abstained from the vote to prevent the election of a leftist parliamentary leader. They propose the election of a centrist speaker, a leftist first deputy speaker, and a rightist deputy speaker. Dmytro Tabachnyk, former head of the presidential administration, said former parliamentary speaker Oleksandr Moroz "has every chance" to head the Supreme Council if the third round, scheduled to take place next week, also proves fruitless. JM TARASYUK, PRIMAKOV REACH 'COMPLETE UNDERSTANDING.' Borys Tarasyuk and Yevgenii Primakov, the foreign ministers of Russia and Ukraine, told ITAR-TASS on 26 May that they reached "complete understanding" during their talks in Kyiv earlier that day. Tarasyuk said the sides managed to agree "even on those issues that had earlier been a stumbling block in relations." The thorniest issue in bilateral relations is currently the ratification of the Russian- Ukrainian friendship treaty by the Russian State Duma. Deputies in the Russian lower house postponed voting on the treaty following Tarasyuk's statement earlier this month that NATO expansion eastward "fully suits Ukraine's interests." Other outstanding issues include delimiting the Ukrainian-Russian maritime border in the Azov Sea and the signing of additional documents on the stationing in Crimea of Russia's part of the Black Sea Fleet. JM CRIMEAN PARLIAMENT APPROVES NEW GOVERNMENT. The Crimean Supreme Council on 27 May approved a new government for the autonomous republic, ITAR-TASS reported. By a vote of 71 to eight, the parliament appointed Serhiy Kunitsyn as prime minister and approved a new cabinet composed mainly of representatives of the Crimean Communist Party, the Popular Democratic Party, and the "Union" Party. Kunitsyn, who heads the regional branch of the Popular Democratic Party of Ukraine, is considered to have strong support in Kyiv. JM BELARUSIAN FOREIGN MINISTER DENOUNCES EU, U.S. FOR DEMOCRACY AWARDS. Belarusian Foreign Minister Ivan Antanovich has said the EU and the U.S. committed an "unfriendly act" toward Belarus by bestowing Democracy and Civil Society Awards on two human rights organizations and one opposition figure in the country (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 19 May 1998), Belapan reported on 26 May. According to Antanovich, the EU is pursuing a policy of "double standards" in refusing to maintain contacts with official Minsk and giving monetary awards to the opposition. Antanovich added that the opening of offices of Belarus's Charter-97 human rights group in Washington and Brussels should also be viewed as an unfriendly step vis-a-vis Minsk. JM ESTONIAN PREMIER SAYS MINISTERS WILL REMAIN IN OFFICE. Mart Siimann on 26 May announced that Foreign Minister Toomas Hendrik Ilves and Ethnic Affairs Minister Andra Veidemann will remain in office, ETA reported. Both ministers were warned by the ruling coalition last week that they would be dismissed if their parties--the People's Party and the Progressive Party, respectively--did not share political responsibility for the government's actions (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 21 and 26 May 1998). Siimann and Ilves signed an agreement following a board meeting of the People's Party, which said it would support the ruling coalition to ensure the country's stability. At a meeting the same day, the leadership of the Progressive Party was more critical of the government but opted eventually to work with the cabinet on terms similar to those accepted by Ilves's party. JC LATVIAN GOVERNMENT TAKES STEP TO BAN DEATH PENALTY. Latvian Foreign Minister Valdis Birkavs has said the government will sign a human rights document banning capital punishment and will seek to persuade parliamentary deputies to ratify it, Reuters and BNS reported on 26 May. Birkavs said the cabinet has decided to sign the sixth protocol of the European Convention for Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms, adding that this decision is a "very, very important step." The parliament recently passed a new criminal code that retains the death penalty. President Guntis Ulmanis has called on lawmakers to review that code. Latvia promised to abolish the death penalty when it joined the Council of Europe in 1995. JC SOLIDARITY ACTIVISTS DEMAND PRO-FAMILY POLICY. Some 2,000 Solidarity trade unionists from the Silesia coal mining region, together with their family members, took part in a rally at the parliament building in Warsaw on 26 May to demand that the legislature and government promote a pro- family policy, "Zycie Warszawy" reported. The protesters demanded a five-day work week, tax exemptions, and more benefits for families with a large number of children. A pro-family policy was one of the ruling Solidarity coalition's pledges in last year's election campaign. JM POLAND UPSET BY REDUCTION OF EU PRE-ENTRY AID. The government met behind closed doors on 26 May to discuss the European Commission's decision to cut 34 million ecus from the PHARE program intended to help Poland prepare for EU membership (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 26 May 1998). "Gazeta Wyborcza" reported that Prime Minister Jerzy Buzek accused Ryszard Czarnecki, head of the Committee of European Integration, of failing to propose "good" projects in a bid to receive EU aid. Buzek has set up a commission to examine the reasons for the withdrawal of EU funds. Meanwhile, "Gazeta Wyborcza" adds that the future of another 46 million ecus in EU aid is also in doubt. JM EU OFFICIALS CRITICIZE CZECH REPUBLIC. EU negotiators said in Prague on 27 May that the country is unprepared for the process of integrating EU legislation, Reuters reported. Nikolaus van der Pas, the EU's chief negotiator, made his comments after talks with government officials and added that he gave a "very strongly signal" about the country's unpreparedness at the meeting. Another EU negotiator, David Leigh, said the Czech Republic must increase liberalization and deregulation in the energy and telecommunications sectors. Van der Pas added that the EU Commission had been concerned with the Czech handling of the Romany minority and was particularly distressed by recent reports that two cities are planning to build walls to separate the Romani community from the rest of the towns' residents. PB SLOVAK FOREIGN MINISTER SENDS NOTE TO VIENNA OVER NUCLEAR PLANT. Zdenka Kramplova sent a letter to the Austrian ambassador in Bratislava on 26 May explaining the Slovak government's position on the opening of the Mochovce nuclear power plant, TASR reported. A Foreign Ministry spokesman said the letter was written after careful examination of the recently completed Austrian report on an investigation of the power plant, in which it deemed Mochovce unsafe. The note stresses that the Western-based companies that helped construct the plant continue to attest to its safety. The letter adds that the International Atomic Energy Agency was also consulted over safety measures. Austrian Chancellor Viktor Klima said that Austria will offer to help fix any flaws in the plant. PB NEW HUNGARIAN GOVERNMENT TO OPPOSE SLOVAK NUCLEAR PLANT. Zoltan Illes, the vice president of the Young Democrats- Hungarian Civic Party (FIDESZ-MPP), said on 26 May that the new Hungarian government will join Austria in opposing the opening of the controversial Mochovce nuclear power plant, Reuters reported. Illes, a leading candidate to become environment minister in the new government, said FIDESZ-MPP believes the plant, located just 60 kilometers from Budapest, is unsafe. Illes also said the Young Democrats oppose the construction of the controversial dam on the River Danube. He said the decision by the International Court of Justice calling for the Hungarians to complete the unfinished project is "guiding" but not binding. PB SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE KOSOVAR-SERBIAN TALKS CANCELED. Ethnic Albanian spokesmen have announced the cancellation of the next round of talks between Kosovar negotiators and their Serbian counterparts, Reuters reported on 27 May. Those talks were slated to take place in Prishtina on 29 May. The spokesmen suggested that the reason is that shadow-state President Ibrahim Rugova and his top advisers, some of whom belong to the negotiating team, will be in the U.S. on that date. On 26 May, a State Department spokesman urged the Kosovars and Serbs to make the talks a success. Many Kosovar and Albanian leaders have called for the talks to be canceled to protest the ongoing Serbian offensive in Kosova (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 26 May 1998). In Barcelona, the NATO Assembly passed a resolution on 26 May in which it condemned the Serbian offensive. Kosovar sources said in Prishtina that Serbs killed 20 ethnic Albanians in several places on 25-26 May. PM ALBANIA WANTS ARMED INTERVENTION IN KOSOVA. The Foreign Ministry issued a statement in Tirana on 26 May supporting President Rexhep Meidani's recent calls for foreign military intervention in Kosova (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 26 May 1998). The statement said "police and military violence by the Belgrade authorities against Albanians in Kosova has increased alarmingly in recent days.... Albania calls on the Contact Group countries and the international community to urgently intervene and implement decisions they have previously [taken] on the crisis in Kosova.... All means should be used to force Belgrade to immediately stop its violence and terror and withdraw its police and military troops from Kosova." PM NO AGREEMENT AT ALBANIAN-YUGOSLAV MEETING. A 26 May meeting of Albanian and federal Yugoslav border authorities at the border checkpoint between Kukes and Prizren ended without results. Albanian Commander Beqir Cena informed the Yugoslavs of five recent border incidents, including Yugoslav soldiers entering Albania, violations of air space, and shootings. His Yugoslav counterpart, Momir Zdravkovic, noted 35 cases of border violations, including entry into Kosova of "armed groups and terrorists" from Albania as well as cross-border shooting incidents. Each side rejected the other's charges, saying sufficient evidence was not given, "Koha Jone" reported. The same day, President Meidani inspected military installations in Kukes. It was the first visit of a president to the northern city since the fall of communism. And in nearby Bajram Curri, the UN opened an office to help process Kosovar refugees. FS SOME KOSOVAR STUDENT LEADERS STILL MISSING. The main organization representing ethnic Albanian students in Kosova issued a statement in Prishtina on 26 May informing that a Prizren court handed down a 30-days jail sentence to the three women who were among the student leaders recently arrested in that city (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 26 May 1998). There is no information on the whereabouts of the four male student leaders. The statement added that the student organization understands that the four men will be charged with "preparing for terrorism" because they organized a public first-aid course. PM SERBIA ENDS UNIVERSITY AUTONOMY. The Serbian parliament on 26 May passed a law empowering the government to appoint the rectors and deacons of the universities. Under previous legislation, faculty members elected persons to those positions. Outside the parliament building, police used force to break up a demonstration by some 1,000 students and faculty against the new law. Police injured 10 students and arrested three, RFE/RL's South Slavic Service reported. Student spokesmen said more protests are slated to take place in Belgrade, Nis, and Novi Sad on 27 March. The demonstrators received a telegram of support from Montenegrin President Milo Djukanovic, who expressed his "complete solidarity with their just and democratic struggle," "Nasa Borba" wrote. PM CROATIA SEEKS TO AVOID SANCTIONS. Foreign Minister Mate Granic said in Zagreb on 26 May that the government will draft a comprehensive plan dealing with refugee return by 20 June. The authorities hope that their plan will be acceptable to the international community, which has threatened Croatia with sanctions if it does not do more to facilitate the return of Serbian refugees, RFE/RL's South Slavic Service reported. Granic denied earlier reports that Croatia plans to repatriate some 80,000 ethnic Croats from Germany this year. He said it would be impossible to integrate so many people in such a short period. President Franjo Tudjman has frequently said he wants Croats living abroad to come home and repopulate areas where Serbs formerly lived. The Croatian economy, however, depends to a large extent on the remittances of emigrants. PM ALBANIAN TEACHERS GO ON STRIKE. Elementary and secondary school teachers throughout Albania went on strike on 26 May to protest difficult living and working conditions. The strike was organized by the Independent Teachers Trade Unions and involved up to 90 percent of teachers in Tirana and other cities. The teachers' main demand is a 15 percent pay increase to offset inflation. Teachers receive monthly salaries of between $45 and $65. The Education Ministry declared the strike illegal, arguing that the teachers did not give the ministry enough time to respond to their demands, "Gazeta Shqiptare" reported. FS ALBANIA'S CEKA PROPOSES LOTTERY TO DISARM POPULATION... Neritan Ceka, head of the parliamentary Commission on Public Order, proposed on 26 May that those voluntarily turning in illegal weapons be given lottery tickets with numbers corresponding to the weapons' serial numbers. After a fixed date, the government would hold a draw and award prizes, "Gazeta Shqiptare" reported. Lawmakers are currently drawing up a draft law that is aimed at disarming the population and will include an amnesty. There are some 500,000 illegal arms in private hands in Albania. Meanwhile in New York, UN spokesman Fred Eckhard said the UN will send an expert team to Albania in early June to prepare a program aimed at encouraging civilians to turn in illegal weapons. FS ...DEMANDS FINANCE MINISTER'S RESIGNATION. Ceka also said that the government has lost some $100 million from untaxed cigarette imports since the summer of 1997. Ceka argued that Finance Minister Arben Malaj was to blame for the customs evasion and demanded his resignation. Malaj countered that Ceka himself was in charge of guarding Albania's coast as interior minister until April 1998, together with former Defense Minister Sabit Brokaj, "Gazeta Shqiptare" reported. FS ROMANIAN PARLIAMENT ADOPTS DRAFT BUDGET. Lawmakers on 26 May adopted a draft 1998 budget, which was delayed by the recent government crisis, AFP reported. The approval of the draft will allow the IMF to release credits it has been withholding. The proposed budget allows for 45 percent inflation and a budget deficit of 3.6 percent of GDP. It foresees an unemployment rate of 11.2 percent, up from 8.8 percent last year. Also on 26 May, U.S. Ambassador to Romania James Rosapepe said that it is not a question of "if" but "when" Bucharest will be invited to join NATO, Reuters reported. He added that the government should be "worrying less and reforming more." PB DAEWOO TAKES OVER MAJORITY STAKE IN ROMANIAN CARMAKER. The South Korean carmaker Daewoo has acquired a 51 percent stake in Romania's Mecatim auto manufacturer for an undisclosed sum, AFP reported on 25 May. Mecatim's chief executive said Daewoo plans to invest $100 million in the plant, which will produce car equipment such as air-conditioning systems and brakes. The Korean company also plans to create 400 new jobs at the plant. In 1994, Daewoo acquired a 51 percent stake in the Rodae car plant. MS TIRASPOL SHUTS DOWN PRIVATE NEWSPAPER. The State Committee for Information in the separatist Transdniester region shut down the newspaper "Novaya Gazeta" on 26 May, Infotag reported. Andrei Safonov, a founder of the paper and the leader of the United Labor Party of Moldova, said the decision is "purely a political act." He noted that the newspaper's "rejection of political extremism" and "its sober" commentary annoyed the Transdniester government. PB xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx Copyright (c) 1998 RFE/RL, Inc. 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