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RFE/RL NEWSLINE Vol. 2, No. 126 Part II, 2 June 1998
___________________________________________________________ RFE/RL NEWSLINE Vol. 2, No. 126 Part II, 2 June 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 xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx Headlines, Part II * KUCHMA ORDERS ANTI-CRISIS MEASURES * U.S. CONTINUES DIPLOMATIC OFFENSIVE OVER KOSOVA * KOSOVAR POLITICIANS FAIL TO AGREE ON UCK ROLE End Note: MOLDOVA, UKRAINE SQUABBLE OVER OIL TERMINAL xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx EAST-CENTRAL EUROPE KUCHMA ORDERS ANTI-CRISIS MEASURES. Ukrainian President Leonid Kuchma ordered his cabinet on 1 July to prepare measures to halt the country's economic decline, AP reported. Presidential spokesman Oleksandr Maydannyk said the measures, which are to be issued as decrees due to the standstill in the parliament, seek to stabilize the economic situation in the country. Maydannyk said Kuchma's measures will reduce taxes, give tax breaks to large foreign investors, lower the need for foreign credit, and attract international investment. Other possible steps include increased support for farmers and an amnesty for Ukrainians abroad who left with large amounts of money. Also on 1 July, the parliament failed yet again to elect a speaker. Oleksandr Moroz received the most votes in the balloting. PB KYIV WANTS CASPIAN OIL TRANSPORT TO TRANSIT UKRAINE. Uladislau Toroshevskiy, the acting chairman of Ukraine's Committee for the Oil and Gas Industry, said on 1 July that Kyiv is trying to ensure that oil will be transported through Odessa and along the Odessa-Brody pipeline, ITAR- TASS reported. Toroshevskiy was speaking at an oil conference in Kyiv. He said the government has adopted a resolution to expedite the establishment of an international consortium that would promote and improve conditions for the transport of Caspian oil through Ukraine. PB EU, LITHUANIA CRITICIZE MINSK OVER DIPLOMATIC DISPUTE. The EU issued a statement on 1 July expressing its "strong disapproval" of the Belarusian government's handling of the dispute over the ambassadors' residences in Drazdy, Belapan reported. The EU's General Affairs Council, meeting in Luxembourg, said it will restart a dialogue with Minsk when the latter is ready to "respect its international obligations." In Vilnius, Lithuanian President Valdas Adamkus said Belarusian officials have "ignored all standards of diplomacy and international cooperation." He said he hopes that "logic and common sense will prevail." PB CHINA, BELARUS PLEDGE CLOSER COOPERATION. Belarusian Foreign Minister Ivan Antonovich and his Chinese counterpart, Tang Jiaxuan, said on 1 July that their countries are committed to boosting relations, ITAR-TASS reported. Antonovich, speaking in Beijing during a five-day visit to China, said both sides "have similar positions on key international issues." He said stronger relations with China is a major priority for Minsk. Tang commented that the two countries are ready to develop long-term, stable relations. PB SIGNATURE-COLLECTING CAMPAIGN TO BEGIN MID-JULY IN LATVIA. The Central Election Committee on 1 July announced that the campaign to collect signatures in support of a referendum on the citizenship law amendments will take place from 20 July to 18 August, BNS reported. Signatures will have to be counted by 30 August, when the two-month period in which the law is suspended expires. The chairman of the commission estimated that the cost of holding the referendum may total 150,000 lats (some $300,000). JC LITHUANIANS MORE KEEN TO JOIN NATO THAN BALTIC NEIGHBORS. According to a poll carried out by the Baltic Surveys company in March, Lithuanians are more keen than either Estonians or Latvians to join NATO, BNS reported on 1 July. Fifty-five percent of Lithuanians supported their government's efforts to gain entry to the Atlantic alliance, compared with 54 percent of Estonians and 47 percent of Latvians. The figures for those expressing opposition to NATO membership were 26 percent in Lithuania, 31 percent in Estonia, and 32 percent in Latvia. BNS reported that in evaluating the influence of NATO membership on their country, Lithuanians are most optimistic while Latvians are most skeptical. JC POLISH PARLIAMENT APPROVES PLAN FOR 15 PROVINCES. The Sejm passed legislation on 1 July reducing the number of provinces from 49 to 15, AP reported. President Aleksander Kwasniewski is expected to veto the bill, which has also been approved by the Senate. Prime Minister Jerzy Buzek said he hopes the president will approve the plan so that parliament can move on to "other elements of [administrative] reform." The rightist governing coalition would be unable to muster the three-fifths majority needed to override the veto. Kwasniewski has said he favors having 17 provinces and has campaigned to retain the northwestern province of Koszalin and the central Kielce province. Critics say he is grandstanding in order to gain electoral support from those regions in future elections. PB YELTSIN'S PRESENCE MAY ACCELERATE NATO EXPANSION. Polish Defense Minister Janusz Onyszkiewicz said on 1 July that Poland, Hungary, and the Czech Republic may be admitted to NATO earlier than planned in order to allow Russian President Boris Yeltsin to attend the alliance's 50th anniversary celebrations in Washington, Reuters reported. Because of Moscow's ardent opposition to NATO expansion, Onyszkiewicz said it would be difficult for Yeltsin to attend the 26 April summit if formal accession ceremonies took place. The Polish newspaper "Zycie" suggested that the aspiring countries could be admitted as early as January. PB CZECH GOVERNMENT ORDERS REASSESSMENT OF TEMELIN PROJECT. The government on 1 July decided to hire a team of local and foreign experts to reassess the construction of the controversial Temelin nuclear power plant, in southern Bohemia, CTK and Reuters reported. The government expressed dissatisfaction at the growing costs of and repeated delays in completing construction at Temelin. Industry and Trade Minister Karel Kuhnl told journalists that the cabinet wants the experts to recommend whether the construction should be continued, halted temporarily, or abandoned altogether. The state-controlled power company CEZ estimates the plant will cost $3 billion. Austria opposes the completion of the Soviet-designed facility, which is some 70 kilometers from its border. MS SLOVAK OPPOSITION APPEALS TO CONSTITUTIONAL COURT. The Slovak opposition parties on 1 July asked the Constitutional Court in Kosice to rule ahead of the 25-26 September elections whether an amendment to the election law passed by the parliament in May contravenes the country's basic law, RFE/RL's Bratislava bureau reported. The opposition says the amendment disadvantages smaller parties by establishing a threshold of 5 percent for each party running in an alliance. It also says the provisions including state officials in election commissions and allowing the Supreme Court to reconsider the Central Electoral Commission's decisions also contravene the constitution. Also on 1 July, the parliament approved an amendment to the law on local elections, while the opposition Slovak Democratic Coalition said it will examine the amendment to establish whether it is in keeping with the constitution. MS NEW CABINET'S ATTITUDE TO MINORITIES CRITICIZED IN HUNGARY. Csaba Tabajdi, outgoing political state secretary at the Prime Minister's Office in charge of minority affairs, has said he is concerned about the new cabinet's program on minorities in Hungary as well as ethnic Hungarians abroad. He told journalists on 1 July that the program is a "step backward" in terms of political autonomy for minorities as it lists the Roma population not as a minority group but as "socially handicapped" people. According to Tabajdi, that designation implies some kind of "assimilation drive". He observed that the minority issue is important for the new government only inasmuch as it serves the cause of ethnic Hungarians abroad. MSZ SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE U.S. CONTINUES DIPLOMATIC OFFENSIVE OVER KOSOVA... State Department spokesman James Rubin said on 1 July that U.S. officials are continuing talks with officials of the Kosova Liberation Army (UCK) in an effort to bring about a cease- fire by talking to those who are fighting, VOA reported. He added that talks with the UCK are a "practical matter" and do not constitute formal recognition of the guerrillas. Rubin stressed that Washington still regards shadow-state President Ibrahim Rugova as the legitimate Kosovar leader. Rubin added that U.S. diplomats, including Ambassador to the UN Richard Holbrooke, will continue to be "engaged in an intensive effort...for some time." U.S. special envoy Robert Gelbard will visit Bosnia later this week, and U.S. Ambassador to Macedonia Christopher Hill goes to Albania. Russian and EU officials have stressed recently that only Rugova can represent the Kosovars internationally. PM ...BUT SHIFTS STANCE. Rubin also said on 1 July that Washington no longer insists on an immediate withdrawal of Serbian forces from Kosova. He added that a cease-fire must precede a withdrawal "as a practical matter." Observers noted that this new position corresponds to the view of Belgrade and Moscow that Serbia cannot withdraw its forces as long as an armed insurgency is in progress. Elsewhere, State Department officials said that at least 88,000 Kosovars are now homeless, AP reported. Of these, 60,000 to 85,000 remain in Kosova, 15,000 are in Montenegro, and 13,000 have crossed into Albania. PM ALBANIAN FOREIGN MINISTER CALLS FOR 'REALISM' IN KOSOVA... Paskal Milo told a press conference in Tirana on 1 June that many Albanians confuse their desire for Kosova's independence with political realities. He stressed that Albania is part of the international community and has to respect the inviolability of international borders. Milo added that Albania is continuing to work for a peaceful solution to the Kosova conflict, which, he said, will take time. He warned, however, that time is running out and that negotiations will have to start next week or else the armed conflict could spread further. FS ...WANTS KOSOVARS TO HAVE JOINT NEGOTIATOR. Milo said that the UCK has become an important factor in determining developments in Kosova and must be part of negotiations, along with Rugova. Milo added that the UCK is not a terrorist group but consists of people defending their homes in the face of massacres by Serbian forces. Milo called on all political forces in Kosova, including the UCK, to appoint a joint "authorized and competent" negotiator for talks with Belgrade. It was unclear if he meant one person or a team, such as the one that Rugova appointed in March (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 25 March 1998). FS KOSOVAR POLITICIANS FAIL TO AGREE ON UCK ROLE. Established political leaders reached no agreement in Prishtina on 1 July on how to integrate the UCK into political structures, RFE/RL's South Slavic Service reported. Rugova and his Democratic League of Kosova (LDK) want to convene the LDK- controlled shadow-state parliament so that it can "provide sponsorship" for the LDK. Opposition parties want to set up a new National Council that would represent politically the UCK. Amid the growing violence in recent weeks, the leading role of the moderate LDK has been under challenge from Adem Demaci of the Parliamentary Party and other radical politicians, who seek recognition for themselves as the political wing of the increasingly influential UCK. PM KINKEL SAYS INTERVENTION A MATTER OF 'WEEKS, MONTHS.' German Foreign Minister Klaus Kinkel said on 1 July that the Kosovars should "not be under any illusions" that NATO will intervene to stop the violence at any time soon. He added that any military intervention in Kosova could be a matter of "weeks or months" because of opposition from Russia and China, the "Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung" wrote. Kinkel suggested that "an appropriate means to contain the conflict" could be to send an OSCE observer mission to Kosova. Such missions, however, proved totally ineffective in the Croatian and Bosnian conflicts, where locals dubbed them "ice-cream men" because of their ineffectiveness and their white uniforms and vehicles. PM SERBS RELY EVER MORE ON ARMY. The Yugoslav army has recently become more active in the interior of Kosova, the "Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung" wrote on 2 July, citing unnamed Western diplomatic sources in Belgrade. Previously, the army limited its activities largely to the border region with Albania. Meanwhile in the Drenica region, UCK fighters regrouped following their loss of the coal mine at Belacevac (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 1 July 1998). Elsewhere, fighting continued around the besieged Serbian-held town of Kijeva, which Holbrooke recently called "the most dangerous place in Europe." PM UN INVESTIGATES ALLEGED PROSTITUTION RING. UN police spokesmen said in Sarajevo on 1 July that they have launched an investigation into charges that Bosnian Serb police are running an organized prostitution ring involving women from Eastern Europe and the former USSR. In Zagreb, customs officials found 16 tons of marijuana in two ship containers during a routine inspection. A police spokesman said that one man was arrested and added that this is the single largest drug bust in Europe this year. Also in Zagreb, the government has approved a program for the restructuring of Croatian Railways, according to which 7,000 workers will lose their jobs, "Jutarnji list" wrote on 2 July. PM INTELLIGENCE SERVICE CANNOT REVEAL DEPUTIES LINKS TO FORMER SECURITATE. Responding to the Chamber of Deputies' resolution of 29 June, Romanian Intelligence Service director Costin Georgescu on 1 July told the parliamentary commission supervising the service's activities that under existing legislation, the service is prohibited from making public the links of parliamentary deputies to the former secret police. In order for the chamber's request to be met, legislation prohibiting the disclosure of information from Securitate files for 40 years since the legislation's enactment would have to be changed, RFE/RL's Bucharest bureau reported. MS ITALIAN FOREIGN MINISTER IN ROMANIA. Lamberto Dini on 1 July met with his Romanian counterpart, Adrian Plesu, to discuss bilateral relations, Italian support for Romania's quest to accede to NATO, and the conflict in Kosova, RFE/RL's Bucharest bureau reported. Dini said that the Kosova Albanians' demands for full independence may result in a war affecting the entire region. Both he and Plesu advocated a "large [measure of] autonomy" for the Kosova Albanians within Yugoslavia's existing borders. Dini was also received by Premier Radu Vasile and by the chairmen of the two houses of the parliament, Petre Roman and Ion Diaconescu. MS LUCINSCHI ON TRANSDNIESTER CONFLICT. President Petru Lucinschi on 30 June told the OSCE Secretary-General Giancarlo Aragona that Moldova is willing to solve the conflict with the Transdniester by granting the separatist region a special status with a large degree of autonomy, BASA-press reported the next day. He said this position coincides with that of the OSCE and the two mediating countries, Russia and Ukraine. He also said Moldova "counts" on OSCE support in its quest to solve the conflict. Aragona is participating in a OSCE-organized seminar on relations between central and local authorities. Separatist leader Igor Smirnov declined an invitation to attend the seminar. He wrote to OSCE mission chief in Moldova John Evans that "Moldova is not a central authority" for the Transdniester region. MS AGREEMENT ON REDUCTION OF FORCES IN TRANSDNIESTER BUFFER ZONE. The Joint Control Commission supervising the truce in the buffer zone announced on 2 July that the two conflicting sides will each reduce their number of "truce observers" by 500 over the next weeks, Infotag and BASA-press reported. At present, there are some 800 Moldovan, 900 Transdniestrian, and 500 Russian troops in the zone. The agreement is in line with the accord signed last March in Odessa by Lucinschi, Smirnov, and Russian President Boris Yeltsin. MS SLOVENIAN PRESIDENT IN BULGARIA. Janez Drnovsek, on the second day of an official visit to Sofia, told journalists in Varna on 1 July that Bulgaria could become "Slovenia's bridge" to other countries and regions, an RFE/RL correspondent in the Bulgarian capital reported. Prime Minister Ivan Kostov praised Slovenia's backing of Bulgaria's drive to join the Central European Free Trade Agreement. Last week, Bulgarian officials said Sofia will join CEFTA in mid-July. Drnovsek and Kostov signed four accords, including a memorandum on mutual protection of investments and an agreement on transport links between their countries. Drnovsek discussed the conflict in Kosova with both Kostov and President Petar Stoyanov. Drnovsek said both sides, but particularly Belgrade, must accept the need for a compromise solution. Stoyanov said a new embargo against Yugoslavia will be detrimental to reform in the entire region. MS END NOTE MOLDOVA, UKRAINE SQUABBLE OVER OIL TERMINAL by Stefan Korshak Plans to build an oil transfer terminal in Moldova are stirring opposition in Ukraine, which is worried about an adverse environmental impact. The $38 million project is scheduled for completion next year. The European Bank of Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) is providing a $25.5 million credit for the construction of the terminal, which will allow Moldova to transfer petroleum to and from tankers plying the Danube, bringing considerable savings for the small landlocked country. "This is just the kind of project we need," noted Moldova Deputy Premier Minister Ion Gutsu at a recent EBRD conference. "It will create critical infrastructure...and enable our economy to grow." But Ukraine sees the terminal in a very different light. "Our experts recently went to the site and inspected the project," Odessa Regional Administration spokesman Yuri Shiroparov told RFE/RL. "And they found many things wrong with it." Situated on the Danube's left bank south of the village of Dzhurdzhulesht and snug up against the Ukrainian border, the terminal could transfer 2.1 million tons of oil annually, giving Moldova an alternative to Russian energy deliveries. Ukraine has no problem with that. But Kyiv is arguing that because the terminal is only a few kilometers upstream in the middle of Europe's largest wetland, the project endangers the environment. "One of the most important problems our experts found is that [the terminal] threatens our ecology and vulnerable wetlands," Shiroparov said. "We need to make sure that our interests are protected." The Danube Commission, composed of representatives from countries bordering the river, could have been a forum to iron out differences about the environmental impact of development in the basin. This proved, however, not to be the case. The Ukrainians charge that the Moldovans may have misled them and brought to near-completion a major industrial project without providing full information on the scope of the work. But Moldovan project managers counter that Kyiv has had ample opportunities to learn about the Dzhudzhulesht Terminal, as far back as 1994. "Ukrainian and Moldovan commissioners met in Chisinau on 3 November 1994 to discuss the problems of the terminal," said Deputy General Director of the Terminal S.A., Yakov Mogorian, in a recent newspaper article. "Results of [an independent Dutch] study were presented in Chisinau on 9 December 1994...[and] on 23 November the Moldovan side invited [Ukrainian ecological representatives]...but no one came and no one made any comments." There were several permutations of the project before it was finalized into a Greek/Moldovan/EBRD joint venture. The first funds were obtained in late 1996, and by 1997 Dutch general contractor Fredric R. Harris had begun construction. Kyiv demands now that Harris's blueprints be approved by its Ministry of Ecological Protection. Protests have been made to the Danube Commission and, more recently, Ukraine has tightened border control near the frontier town of Reni. Dotted with woodlands, lakes, and swamps, the Danube frontier near Reni and Dzhurdzhulesht used to be a place where hunters could shoot ducks and fishermen hook pike, without too much attention paid to passports. Not any more. "The Ukrainian border troops' defensive works and barbed wire opposite the terminal construction site are more intense than what you would see on the Tajik-Afghan border," said Mogorian. And there is little prospect that the dispute will end any time soon. The author is an RFE/RL correspondent based in Kyiv. 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 of the message. HOW TO UNSUBSCRIBE Send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org with the word unsubscribe as the subject of the message. 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