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RFE/RL NEWSLINE Vol. 2, No. 108 Part II, 8 June 1998
___________________________________________________________ RFE/RL NEWSLINE Vol. 2, No. 108 Part II, 8 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 * HUNGARY'S FIDESZ AGREES TO FORM COALITION WITH SMALLHOLDERS * EUROPEAN LEADERS CONDEMN SERBIAN MILITARY ACTION * ANNAN, REFUGEES SPEAK OF ATROCITIES End Note: PRESIDENTS, PARLIAMENTS, AND POWER xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx EAST-CENTRAL EUROPE LUKASHENKA SLAMS GOVERNMENT FOR FOOD SHORTAGES, PRICE HIKES. Belarusian President Alyaksandr slammed the government for food shortages and unregulated price increases in Belarus during a televised cabinet session on 5 June, Reuters and ITAR-TASS reported. Lukashenka said he is angry that food produced in Belarus is being sold in neighboring Russia. He lambasted the cabinet for its inability to keep the monthly inflation rate within a 2 percent range. And he also rejected the government's proposal to bring domestic prices closer to those in Russia. JM BELARUSIAN SOCIAL DEMOCRATS PLEDGE TO FIGHT FOR DEMOCRACY. At a congress in Minsk on 6 June, the opposition Belarusian Social Democratic Party (Popular Hramada) pledged to fight for democracy as well as constitutional law and order in Belarus, Belapan reported. Party leader Mikola Statkevich told the congress that the fight will be conducted primarily by means of mass protest actions. He added that if his party were take part in presidential or parliamentary elections under the constitution adopted in the controversial 1996 referendum, the result would be the legalization of Lukashenka's regime. The Social Democrats want elections to be held on the basis of the 1994 constitution. JM TAX CHIEF SAYS UKRAINE HAS 150,000 MILLIONAIRES. Ukrainian Tax Administration chief Mykola Azarov has said only seven persons declared incomes exceeding 1 million hryvni ($500,000) in Ukraine last year, Ukrainian Television reported. According to Azarov, the number of millionaires who made false declarations totals some 150,000. He also estimated that some 10-12 billion hryvni is circulating in Ukraine's shadow economy. Azarov said the tax bodies will be able to collect some 3.5 billion hryvni from that sector by the end of this year if the Supreme Council adopts a package of new tax legislation. JM LATVIAN PREMIER FEARS MORE RUSSIAN PRESSURE. Speaking at a seminar organized by RFE/RL in Washington on 5 June, Guntars Krasts said he expects Russia to press for a further easing of Latvia's citizenship regulations, despite the parliament's approval of amendments to that law in the second reading (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 5 June 1998). But Krasts added that he hopes those amendments will persuade Russia to be more accommodating. The Russians adopted an "exaggerated" response to the issue of citizenship, he commented, saying the amendments offer the chance to be "less confrontational." As if to underscore Krasts's fears, the Russian Foreign Ministry issued a statement the following day noting "some progress" on amendments to the country's citizenship law but only on a "small part" of Moscow's recommendations. The ministry condemned the fact that the Latvian parliament did not use emergency procedures to implement changes to the law. JC POLISH COALITION LOSES VOTE ON NUMBER OF PROVINCES... The parliament took 12 hours to pass the administrative reform bill on 5 June. No fewer than 453 deputies of the 460-seat parliament were present for the session. The ruling coalition of the Solidarity Electoral Action (AWS) and the Freedom Union (UW) lost the first vote, which was on reducing the number of provinces from 49 to 12, with 242 deputies voting against it, including 38 AWS and seven UW deputies. The AWS parliamentary group responded by dismissing deputies Jan Lopuszanski and Adam Slomka from its ranks, while six other deputies quit the AWS in protest at Slomka's expulsion. An AWS spokesman told the 8 June "Gazeta Wyborcza" that a total of 15 deputies are expected to leave the AWS but that the ruling coalition will be "even stronger." JM ...BUT PREVAILS BY PASSING BILL ON ADMINISTRATIVE REFORM. After several votes on amendments introducing larger numbers of provinces had failed, the parliamentary speaker ordered a vote on the entire administrative reform bill, including the 12-province option. This time, the bill passed by a vote of 246 to 202. However, both the AWS and the UW want the upper house to increase the number of provinces to 15, thereby taking into account protests by some localities over losing the status of provincial center. JM CZECH SOCIAL DEMOCRATIC LEADER OUTLINES PRIORITIES. In an interview with Reuters on 5 June, Social Democratic Party (CSSD) leader Milos Zeman said that if his party wins the elections scheduled for later this month, it will begin its term by launching an "Italian-style clean hands campaign." Zeman said the country is ruled by an "economy of Mafiosi" and this is why the "Czech economic transformation has been unsuccessful." Zeman said he hopes to win 35 percent, rather than 25 percent, of the vote, as estimated by pollsters. He also said he would prefer to form a coalition with the Christian Democrats and the Pensioners' Party but would not hesitate to form a minority government supported by both the Communists and the Republican Party. MS SLOVAK PSYCHIATRISTS ASK MECIAR TO QUIT POLITICS. A conference of Slovak psychiatrists on 7 June addressed a letter to Prime Minister Vladimir Meciar asking him to resign and leave politics this month, CTK reported. The letter, endorsed by 183 out of the 222 participants in the conference, said Meciar must withdraw "in his own interest and in the interest of Slovaks who want to live freely and without fear." It also said Meciar "should not transfer his own conflicts, desires, and view of the world to the rest of population." Meciar accused the psychiatrists of "abusing science [for use] against dissidents." He said former Russian dissidents Andrei Sakharov and Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn were both accused by psychiatrists "of being fools." MS SLOVAK OPPOSITIONIST STEPS DOWN OVER BRIBERY ALLEGATIONS. One day after resigning as election manager of the opposition Slovak Democratic Coalition (SDK), Josef Paczelt told journalists in Bratislava that he is assuming responsibility for a bribery scandal that emerged late last month. The weekly "Domino Forum" on 28 May wrote that the SDK has offered "hefty sums" to three journalists to report favorably on the party. At the time, SDK spokesman Martin Lengyel rejected the allegations and threatened to sue the journalist who made them. Later, however, another SDK official confirmed that the incident had occurred, describing it as "absolute stupidity." MS HUNGARY'S FIDESZ AGREES TO FORM COALITION WITH SMALLHOLDERS. With 393 votes in favor and two abstentions, the congress of the Federation of Young Democrats-Hungarian Civic Party (FIDESZ-MPP) on 6 June formally authorized the party's leadership to start coalition talks with the Independent Smallholders' Party (FKGP). FIDESZ-MPP chairman Viktor Orban said his party planned to form a coalition only with the Hungarian Democratic Forum and the Christian Democratic Federation but the election results force FIDESZ-MPP to enter into a coalition with the FKGP. Former Free Democrat leader Peter Tolgyessy, now a member of FIDESZ-MPP, commented that "it is practically impossible to govern with the FKGP." A coalition with Smallholders means that FIDESZ- MPP must "continuously prepare for early elections," he added. MSZ SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE EUROPEAN LEADERS CONDEMN SERBIAN MILITARY ACTION. British Foreign Secretary Robin Cook on 8 June said Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic's "heavy-handed" actions against Kosovar Albanians makes the possibility of foreign military intervention more likely. Cook made his comments before a meeting of EU foreign ministers in Luxembourg. He added that military intervention would require a mandate from the UN Security Council, which Russia has insisted on. Austrian Foreign Minister Wolfgang Schuessel, who met with Milosevic in Belgrade and Kosovar shadow state President Ibrahim Rugova in Prishtina on 6 June, said the situation is "drifting apart" and that "this powder keg" can be defused only by the deployment of NATO or UN troops. On 7 June, British Premier Tony Blair discussed the crisis on the telephone with U.S. President Bill Clinton and Russian President Boris Yeltsin. A conference of Central European foreign ministers meeting in Brioni, Croatia, condemned the Serbian military action as "ethnic cleansing." PB ANNAN, REFUGEES SPEAK OF ATROCITIES. UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan said on 5 June that he is "disturbed" by Serbian military actions in Kosova and condemned "atrocities" committed there, Reuters reported. He said Serbian forces cannot be allowed to repeat the "ethnic cleansing" that occurred in Bosnia-Herzegovina. U.S. Senate majority leader Trent Lott said on 7 June that the U.S. cannot allow "this slaughter to occur." The Belgrade-based independent news agency Beta quoted Kosovar refugees in Albania as saying they saw a mass grave near the village of Decan filled with the bodies of ethnic Albanian men killed by Serbian forces. Other refugees have spoken of corpses lying in the streets of their villages. PB NATO TEAM VISITS ALBANIAN-KOSOVA BORDER... Two NATO officials on 7 June observed the situation in northeastern Albania, accompanied by Albanian Defense Ministry officials, Reuters reported. The officials also viewed the situation of refugees there and met with OSCE and UN humanitarian aid officials. They officials returned to Brindisi, Italy, following their eight-hour visit. PB ...AS FIGHTING CONTINUES. Albanian Television reported on 7 June that Serbian forces are shelling two Kosovar villages visible from the border, Reuters reported. According to the agency, some 50 heavily armed Kosova Liberation Army (UCK) soldiers crossed the Albanian border into Kosova. The Serbian police headquarters in Ratkoc was reported blown up by the UCK amid fierce fighting and then abandoned by Serbian police. The Serbian Interior Ministry on 7 June said that three policeman died and five were injured in recent fighting but that the police had "annihilated strong terrorist gangs." In Prishtina, Serbian police used clubs on 7 June to break up a peaceful demonstration by several thousand ethnic Albanians. Three people were reported seriously injured. PB KOSOVA REFUGEE INFLUX CONTINUES. More than 7,500 refugees had registered with the Albanian authorities by 7 June, "Koha Jone" reported. Another several thousand have arrived in Albania in recent days but have not yet registered. Several thousand have also fled to Montenegro. Foreign Minister Paskal Milo told state television that the government expects up to 20,000 to register. Elsewhere in Tirana, the right-of-center Union for Democracy coalition organized a rally in Tirana on 6 June. The meeting was attended by some 5,000 people, many of whom held posters expressing support for the UCK or calling for armed resistance against Serbia. FS YUGOSLAV OFFICIAL BLAMES TERRORISTS FOR REFUGEE FLIGHT. Dragomir Vucicevic, a high-ranking Yugoslav Foreign Ministry official, accused "Albanian terrorists" of causing Kosovars to flee their homes, dpa reported. Vucicevic told a group of foreign diplomats in Prishtina that the idea to have refugees was "invented by the terrorists and certain media in order to secure NATO intervention." He said the "terrorists" have destroyed houses and whole villages in Kosova in an effort to punish ethnic Albanians who are loyal to the Yugoslav government, Tanjug reported. PB BERISHA PRAISES UCK. Former Albanian President and current Democratic Party leader Sali Berisha, speaking at a Tirana press conference on 5 June, "conveyed special greetings to the Kosova Liberation Army," the pro-Berisha daily "Albania" reported. Berisha called the UCK's struggle "holy" and described the Serbian forces as "barbarians." Berisha called on all Kosova Albanian men to return and defend their homes. The UCK, meanwhile, published a declaration in "Koha Ditore" on 7 June calling on all able bodied men aged 18 to 55 to remain in or return to Kosova and join the UCK. The BBC reported from Prishtina that many observers regard the statement warning men who fled Kosova in recent days to return and fight or face retribution. FS YUGOSLAV OPPOSITION LEADER SUPPORTS DJUKANOVIC. Serbian Renewal Movement leader Vuk Draskovic on 6 June said that he supports the platform of Montenegrin President Milo Djukanovic, Beta reported. Draskovic said the victory of the For a Better Life coalition in Montenegro parliamentary elections must be honored by Belgrade. Draskovic said his party and Djukanovic's could be political partners working for the "mutual benefit of Montenegro and Serbia." PB TRUCK DRIVERS DEMAND NEW BOSNIAN LICENSE PLATES. Bosnian Croat truck drivers in the Herzegovinian town of Mostar have demanded that they be given the internationally recognized car documents and license plates that Bosnian Croat officials have rejected. All the new documents use both the Latin and Cyrillic alphabets, and the joint license plates make it impossible to distinguish from which region the vehicle comes. The new documents and plates were imposed by Bosnia's high representative, Carlos Westendorp, after Muslims, Croats, and Serbs refused to introduce them. Vehicles without the joint documents are unable to travel across state or country borders. The drivers said they will impose road blocks if their demands are not met. PB TUDJMAN PRESSURES BOSNIAN CROATS TO REMAIN UNITED. Bosnian Croat officials met with Croatian President Franjo Tudjman in Zagreb on 5 June to discuss the split within the main Bosnian Croat party, the Croatian Democratic Union (HZD-BH), Hina reported. The Croatian member of the Bosnian presidency, Kresimir Zubak, has announced his intention to form a more moderate splinter party. Zubak, a moderate, told the daily "Vjesnik" that he believes the HZD-BH's leadership still wants to annex southwestern Bosnia. The OSCE has approved the formation of the new party and will allow it to participate in the September parliamentary elections. A statement released after the meeting with Tudjman urged the HZD-BH to remain united during the Bosnian parliamentary elections. PB ALBANIAN DEPUTY THREATENS PREMIER. Democratic Party legislator Azem Hajdari said Fatos Nano "should watch out for himself because his travel outside Tirana is no longer safe," "Gazeta Shqiptare" reported. Hajdari added that "Nano [may try] to flee the country but we will [bring him back] very soon." The daily wrote that this statement is a direct threat against Nano. Hajdari has accused Nano of being behind the 3 June assassination attempt against himself (see "RFE/RL Newsline" 5 June 1998). FS ROMANIAN RULING PARTY DIVIDED. At a seminar on the future of the National Peasant Party Christian Democratic (PNTCD) on 6-7 June, former Premier Victor Ciorbea strongly attacked the Democratic Party for having engineered the fall of his cabinet earlier this year. He also criticized "groups" within the PNTCD that failed to defend his government and said the main coalition party must return to its "moral values" and call early elections. PNTCD leader Ion Diaconescu distanced himself from the call for early elections but said he agrees that the PNTCD must form the next government alone. Prime Minister Radu Vasile, who was criticized by Ciorbea, said it is "unlikely" that the PNTCD will be able to form the government by itself. He called on the party to accommodate itself to the "realities of coalition rule," RFE/RL's Bucharest bureau reported. MS COALITION ALLIES RESPOND TO CIORBEA. The Democratic Party said in a press release on 7 June that it does not wish to "enter into public polemics" either with the former premier or with the "group in the PNTCD that supports him". Valeriu Stoica, deputy chairman of the National Liberal Party (PNL), told a party forum in Alba Iulia that the PNL is "fed up" with playing the "role of mediator" in the coalition and must show "more intransigence" toward its partners. Stoica also said the PNL must "forge its own identity within the Democratic Convention of Romania and become again "the representative of the national idea" that has been traditionally associated with the party throughout its history. MS ROMANIAN TRIBUNAL REJECTS REGISTRATION OF NEW PARTY. The Bucharest Municipal Tribunal on 5 June accepted the objections raised by PNTCD deputy chairman Ion Ratiu against the registration of the Romanian National Party (PNR). Ratiu, a descendant of one of the founding fathers of the 19th-century PNL, said the party is "an insult" to the memory of the PNR founders. The formation was established in March by the Democratic Agrarian Party and the New Romania Party; its secretary-general is former Romanian Intelligence Service director Virgil Magureanu. In other news, a congress of the Socialist Labor Party (PSM) on 6 June elected former Ceausescu court poet Adrian Paunescu PSM executive chairman and called for the PSM's reunification with the Socialist Party. The latter split from the former in late 1994. MS END NOTE PRESIDENTS, PARLIAMENTS, AND POWER by Paul Goble The transition from Communism in the post-Soviet states currently finds some countries with a strong president, others with a strong parliament, and a growing number in which real power lies outside the government itself. Examples of each have been very much in evidence recently. In Azerbaijan, where the executive is clearly in charge, President Heidar Aliev has dominated the discussions at a Baku meeting of Western oil companies interested in gaining access to the petroleum of the Caspian basin. In Ukraine, where the parliament is predominant, the failure of the parliament to elect a new speaker has sent shock waves through the political system and prompted predictions that Kyiv will remain unable to address the country's numerous economic problems. And in Russia, the country's economic crisis has highlighted just how much power has passed from the government to institutions beyond its reach. Instead of calling in bankers, journalists, and others and giving them directions, as would have been true only a few years ago, Russian officials from President Boris Yeltsin down have been consulting with them and requesting their assistance. Such variations are entirely natural and up to a point welcome. There is no one model for how democratic political regimes should organize themselves, nor for what should be the balance of power between the executive, the legislative, and society as a whole. The devolution of power from the executive, always the most powerful--in fact, if not on paper--in the Soviet era, is a necessary part of the transition from the communist past. But if this pattern is both natural and welcome, it also presents some real problems for the countries themselves, for their interactions with one another, and for other countries that seek to deal with them. For each of the countries of the region, this pattern has created two very different problems. On the one hand, most people living in these states began their post- communist existence with a belief that only a strong legislature could guarantee democracy. But experience has taught many of them that legislatures may, in fact, block further change and that only a strong executive can help them institutionalize the arrangements that make democracy possible. On the other hand, everyone in this region recognized that the all-embracing Soviet state was too strong. But ever more countries confront a situation in which the state is so weak that it cannot defend the interests of the population against uncontrolled private power or outside interference. For the region as a whole, such variations make it increasingly difficult for these countries to cooperate. Most immediately, it makes it difficult to decide who should meet with whom--sometimes the president in one country is the appropriate representative and sometimes the prime minister or speaker of the parliament. And perhaps more important, it means that even when the appropriate officials are brought together--which does not always happen--they lack the power to implement any of the commitments they make. For outsiders who want to work with the governments of this region, this incredible variety also creates some serious problems. Not only does it introduce a certain confusion over whether ambassadors focus on presidents, prime ministers, or someone else but it also means that outside governments may create problems by the choice they make in this regard. Some Western governments have promoted a "presidentialization of politics" in these countries, both for simplicity and out of a sense that it is easier to deal with one person rather than a group. While understandable, that approach carries with it some real dangers. Not only may it restrict the transition to democracy by consolidating executive power at the expense of the legislative; it also tends to ignore the real devolution of authority away from the governments to other centers of power in the society. Democracy, as any number of analysts have pointed out, is often a very messy form of government. But as the experience of the post-Soviet states shows, it can be even messier if those involved with it fail to understand just how many forms that messy system can take. 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. HOW TO UNSUBSCRIBE Send an email to email@example.com with the word "unsubscribe" as the subject or body of the message. 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