|History is made out of the failures and heroism of each insignificant moment. - Franz Kafka|
RFE/RL NEWSLINE Vol. 2, No. 111 Part II, 11 June 1998
___________________________________________________________ RFE/RL NEWSLINE Vol. 2, No. 111 Part II, 11 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 * UKRAINIAN PARLIAMENT POSTPONES NO CONFIDENCE VOTE IN GOVERNMENT * CONTACT GROUP AGREES ON PROPOSALS * LATVIA DRAWS UP PLAN FOR NATO INTEGRATION End Note: VATICAN'S "OSTPOLITIK" ARCHITECT DIES xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx EAST-CENTRAL EUROPE AMBASSADORS TO MINSK WANT TO REMAIN AT DRAZDY... The Belarusian government's 10 June decision to postpone for one week the eviction of diplomats from their residences at Drazdy has averted a mass diplomatic protest. France, Germany, the U.S., and the U.K. said they will keep their ambassadors in Minsk for the time being, RFE/RL's Belarusian Service reported. U.S. Ambassador Daniel Speckhard told an RFE/RL correspondent that Western governments have offered to help with necessary repairs to the compound "in a way that would not require the eviction of resident diplomats." The British Foreign Office expressed the hope that the postponement "gives a period for Belarus to reconsider [its decision] and to find a mutually satisfactory solution," Reuters reported. France and Germany said they reserve the right to take tough action if Belarus continues to insist on the eviction. JM ...WHILE LUKASHENKA SAYS THEY MUST MOVE OUT NEXT WEEK. At a 10 June news conference, President Alyaksandr Lukashenka stressed that he has given the ambassadors only a temporary reprieve. "Ambassador Speckhard, in the name of 12 or 14 embassies, asked me to give them three to four days to collect their belongings; I gave them a week," RFE/RL's Belarusian Service quoted Lukashenka as saying. The president also hinted that the real reason for the eviction may be his own uneasiness about living in close proximity to Western diplomats. "Drazdy is the residence of the leader of the government. Today, only 50 meters away from this residence, are the diplomatic residences of the U.S., France, Italy, and India," he said. ITAR-TASS reported that the Belarusian authorities intend to cut off water and electricity supplies to Drazdy next week. JM KIRIENKO URGES 'SOLID ECONOMIC FOUNDATION' IN RUSSIA-BELARUS RELATIONS. During his 9-10 June visit to Belarus, Russian Prime Minister Sergei Kirienko, who is also head of the Executive Committee of the Russian-Belarusian Union, called for a "solid economic foundation" and "broad production cooperation" between the two countries, ITAR-TASS reported. While visiting the Kazlovichy border checkpoint, near Brest, Kirienko said transit shipments to Russia should be cleared at the Belarusian border in accordance with Russian legislation. At a news conference following his meeting with Lukashenka, the Russian premier said that Belarus should pay its debt for Russian deliveries of oil, gas, and electricity, which now amounts to $430 million. At the same time, he expressed his satisfaction with the growing trade turnover and the pace of integration between the two countries. JM UKRAINIAN PARLIAMENT POSTPONES NO CONFIDENCE VOTE IN GOVERNMENT. The Supreme Council on 10 June passed a resolution whereby it will postpone for one month debating a motion of no confidence in the government (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 3 June 1998), Ukrainian Television reported. Prime Minister Valeriy Pustovoytenko, who attended the parliamentary session, thanked the deputies for their "manifested confidence" in his cabinet and pledged that he does not want to be "entangled in the problem of electing a parliamentary speaker." "I have made no agreement on the candidacy for speaker with any parliamentary caucus leader," he asserted. Later the same day, the parliament made another futile attempt to elect its head. Former speaker Oleksandr Moroz was the only candidate and failed to obtain the necessary number of votes.. JM KUCHMA DECREES HARSH SPENDING CUTS. Ukrainian President Leonid Kuchma has issued an edict introducing strict limits on budget expenditures and other state outlays in a bid to avert a financial crisis, Ukrainian Television reported on 10 June. The government has been given two months to work out a plan to find additional funds to pay wage arrears. The edict prohibits the Cabinet of Ministers from granting tax exemptions or postponing budget payments to any ministries, social organizations, local authority bodies, and enterprises, among others. Political observers view the move as another attempt by Kuchma to introduce order into Ukraine's economy while the country negotiates a $2.5 billion loan from the IMF. JM ESTONIAN RULING COALITION WANTS CENTRAL BANK HEAD TO STEP DOWN. Members of the ruling coalition have said they expect the resignation of Bank of Estonia President Vahur Kraft over the collapse of the Rural Bank (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 9 June 1998), ETA reported. There has been no direct call from the coalition parties for Kraft to step down, but representatives of those parties believe the bank's collapse resulted from the passivity of the Central Bank. Reform Party Secretary-General Heiki Kranich argued, however, that the rural parties' influence over the Rural Bank, which had been used to finance a number of agricultural projects, had prevented the central bank from effectively controlling what was Estonia's sixth largest bank. JC LATVIA DRAWS UP PLAN FOR NATO INTEGRATION. The Latvian Foreign and Defense Ministries have drawn up a plan for the integration of Latvia into NATO, Foreign Minister Valdis Birkavs told reporters on 10 June. That plan outlines the sequence of tasks to be performed in order to attain the goal of joining the Atlantic alliance. "Essentially, we want to raise the issue of accession to NATO to the same current level as [that of] integration into the EU," Birkavs said. The draft is to be submitted to the government for consideration next week. Also next week, NATO Secretary- General Javier Solana is due to visit Latvia. Military experts have criticized Latvia for its small defense budget. JC POLAND, WORLD BANK DISCUSS LOAN FOR RESTRUCTURING COAL INDUSTRY. Polish Deputy Prime Minister Leszek Balcerowicz has said Poland may borrow some $1 billion from the World Bank over several years to finance the restructuring of the country's coal mining sector. That statement followed a two- week visit by a World Bank mission to Poland. The bank gave the Polish government two weeks to present a detailed plan for improving the sector, whose debts total almost $4 billion. In a restructuring plan published in April, the government intended to cut nearly 130,000 jobs in coal mining over the next four years. JM HUNGARY CONCERNED ABOUT ETHNIC HUNGARIANS IN ROMANIA. The Hungarian government's Office for Hungarians Abroad released a report on 10 June that expresses concern about the situation of ethnic Hungarians in Romania, Romanian state radio reported the next day. The report says the participation of the Hungarian Democratic Federation of Romania (UDMR) in the ruling Romanian coalition provides an "organizational framework" for respecting the rights of the Hungarian minority there. But it adds that UDMR leaders are "worried" by the wide-spread anti-Hungarian campaign in the media, which, the report said, presents the UDMR as a "revisionist, separatist...and destabilizing" organization. The report also says the problem of setting up a separate Hungarian-language university in Transylvania "is turning into a key-issue" in relations between the ethnic Hungarian minority and the Romanian majority. MS SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE CONTACT GROUP AGREES ON PROPOSALS. Officials from the six- country Contact Group on the former Yugoslavia, meeting in Paris on 10 June, have agreed on a package of proposals to deal with the crisis in Kosova, Reuters reported. The officials met ahead of the Contact Group's foreign ministers, due to meet in London on 12 June. AFP reports that the package includes the threat of force if Yugoslav officials fail to implement the measures outlined in the package by a stipulated date. British Defense Secretary George Robertson said in Brussels that "days rather than weeks is the timetable" because, he added, lessons from Bosnia have been learned. No other details are available. In Rome, U.S. Defense Secretary William Cohen and his Italian counterpart, Beniamino Andreatta, agreed that when NATO defense ministers meet in Brussels on 11 June, force will not be ruled out as a way to help bring an end to the violence in Kosova. Cohen said the ministers will seek a "unified political position." PB U.S. SEEKS TO SECURE "CONFIDENCE BUILDING MEASURES." State Department spokesman James Rubin said the U.S. is trying to ensure some guarantees that will allow Yugoslav officials and ethnic Albanian Kosovar leaders to resume talks, Reuters reported on 10 June. Rubin said such measures could include security guarantees for ethnic Albanians, the return of refugees, and an agreement to deploy observers in Kosova. Also on 10 June, Canada announced that it will join the EU and the U.S. in freezing Yugoslav assets on its territory and banning investments in Serbia. PB HOLBROOKE SAYS KOSOVA NOT YET ANOTHER BOSNIA. U.S. envoy Richard Holbrooke said in New York on 10 June that the violence in Kosova is serious but not yet at a "general war level," as was the case in Bosnia-Herzegovina, Reuters reported. Holbrooke added that the situation in Kosova is different because while the components of former Yugoslavia became independent countries, Kosova is a Serbian province and the international community does not back independence for it. PB NATO GENERAL SAYS AIR POWER CAN END KOSOVA FIGHTING. General Klaus Naumann, NATO's top military officer, said in Brussels on 10 June that air power could be used in Kosova to bring a halt to the fighting, Reuters reported. Naumann, who is in Brussels to advise NATO defense ministers about military options in Kosova, said the deployment of troops in Albania and Macedonia would not stop the fighting and that air strikes would have to be used against Serbian forces and the Kosova Liberation Army to achieve that end. Naumann added that if NATO takes the first step of using force, it "must be prepared to go all the way to the very end." PB HAGUE TRIBUNAL TO LOOK INTO POSSIBLE WAR CRIMES IN KOSOVA. The International Criminal Tribunal at The Hague announced on 10 June that the court has begun investigations to determine if war crimes have been committed in Kosova, Reuters reported. Deputy Prosecutor Graham Blewitt said the court will "examine the ethnic cleansing" that occurred during the recent armed conflict to see if any crimes against humanity were committed. PB LULL IN FIGHTING, REFUGEE EXODUS. Reports from Kosova and neighboring Albania on 10 June spoke of reduced fighting in western Kosova and a decrease in the number of refugees crossing the border into Albania. The Albanian government said the refugee situation has improved and that only 100 or so refugees arrived on 10 June. The UN High Commission for Refugees said that on the same day, less than the recent flow of 250-300 refugees per day arrived in Albania. The UNHCR estimates a total of 15,000 Kosovar refugees are in northern Albania. In Prishtina, organizers of daily protests there said they are calling off future protests for the time being. Some 20,000 people marched in the capital on 10 June chanting support for the Kosova Liberation Army as well as for Kosova shadow state President Ibrahim Rugova. PB BOSNIAN PRESIDENT SAID HE MAY SEEK REVISION OF DAYTON. Alija Izetbegovic, the chairman of the Bosnian joint presidency, said on 10 June that he will request a revision of the Dayton peace agreements if "obstructive forces" come to power after the September parliamentary elections. Izetbegovic, speaking in Luxembourg at a session of officials overseeing the Bosnian peace accords, said there must be either "full implementation" or a revision of those accords. Izetbegovic said he fears that if nationalist parties win the elections, they will not abide by Dayton. Carlos Westendorp, the international community's high representative in Bosnia, called the peace process a "success" but said there have also been several disappointments. In Sarajevo, the Bosnian Central Bank said it will delay the introduction of the new Bosnian currency for one week because of a printing problem. PB ARGENTINA REJECTS YUGOSLAV EXTRADITION BID. Argetinian President Carlos Menem on 10 June published a decree refusing Belgrade's extradition order for Croatian concentration camp chief Dinko Sakic, Reuters reported. Menem refused the request because he said it "is based on the same events for which he will be tried in Croatia." Croatia's extradition order has been granted. Zagreb officials have until the end of June to return Sakic to Croatia. He is currently being detained in Buenos Aires. PB MORE RAIDS ON TIRANA MILITARY DEPOTS. In two separate incidents, groups of armed gunmen attacked military depots in Mezez and Sauk, near Tirana, on 10 June, "Shekulli" reported. A Defense Ministry spokesman said both groups withdrew after short exchanges of fire with guards. Nobody was injured. Since the beginning of this year, there have been 35 attempts of armed robbery at military depots, all of which have failed. FS ROMANIAN GOVERNMENT TO EXAMINE WAYS TO SET UP HUNGARIAN UNIVERSITY. Prime Minister Radu Vasile, Education Minister Andrei Marga, and the leaders of the Hungarian Democratic Federation of Romania (UDMR) have agreed to set up a government commission to examine establishing an independent Hungarian-language university, RFE/RL's Bucharest bureau reported on 10 June. They also agreed to set up a Hungarian language and literature department within the Babes-Bolyai Cluj university. The new commission is to present its report by the end of next month, while the government will draw up by 25 June a document on how to modify the education law in line with the government program and the protocols signed by the coalition partners. This month, the executive is also to draft legislation on the return of Church property confiscated from the Hungarian community by the Communists. MS ROMANIAN "SOCIAL DEMOCRATIC POLE" IN OFFING? Traian Basescu, deputy chairman of the ruling Democratic Party, and Adrian Nastase, first deputy chairman of the opposition Party of Social Democracy in Romania (PDSR), have agreed that their formations will cooperate in the parliament on pending legislation, Romanian state radio reported on 11 June. Nastase said that the agreement could mark the beginning of a process leading to the setting up of a "social democratic pole" in Romania. Basescu stressed that cooperation between the two parties is a departure from past practices, adding that such cooperation is both "possible and necessary." He added that in a democracy "today's opposition is tomorrow's government." MS END NOTE VATICAN'S "OSTPOLITIK" ARCHITECT DIES by Jan de Weydenthal Cardinal Agostino Casaroli, who was widely considered an architect of the Holy See's policy of rapprochement with the communist East, died earlier this week in Rome. He was 83. In a commemorative message to the College of Cardinals, Pope John Paul II said that Casaroli was "a passionate builder of peaceful relations between individuals and nations and, by employing the utmost diplomatic sensitivity, made brave and significant steps, especially in improving the situation of the Church in Eastern Europe." Cardinal Achille Silvestrini, head of the Vatican's Congregation for Eastern Churches, said that Casaroli "managed to extract concrete, tangible results" in bilateral dealings with individual communist regimes. Casaroli came to prominence in the early 1960s, when Pope John XXIII initiated a policy of gradually expanding contacts with communist countries. In 1964, Casaroli achieved a partial accord between the Vatican and Hungary. Seven years later, this accord paved the way for anti-communist Cardinal Jozsef Mindszenty to leave his "voluntary exile" in the U.S Embassy, where he remained for 15 years following the Soviet suppression of the 1956 popular revolt against the communist rule. In the late 1960s, Casaroli was appointed head of the Council for the Public Affairs of the Church--or the Vatican's "foreign minister." In this capacity, Casaroli successfully negotiated in 1970 the restoration of relations with Yugoslavia. And in 1971, he visited Moscow to conduct religious talks with Soviet officials, becoming the first senior Vatican official to do so. Throughout the 1960s and 1970s, Casaroli frequently traveled to Poland to talk with communist rulers there. During those visits he became closely acquainted with the future pope, Cardinal Karol Wojtyla. Following his election as Pontiff in 1978, John Paul confirmed Casaroli as the Vatican's chief diplomat and a year later appointed him as secretary of state, the Church's top official after the pope. In 1988 Casaroli visited Moscow again. He was subsequently credited with successfully persuading the Soviet officials to allow greater religious freedom for Catholics in Lithuania, Latvia, Belarus, and Russia itself. A year later, in December 1989, the last Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev and Pope John Paul met in the Vatican. Less than four months later the Vatican and Moscow exchanged ambassadors. In December 1990 Casaroli resigned as the Vatican's secretary of state and was replaced by his long-time associate, Monsignor (now Cardinal) Angelo Sodano. Casaroli was universally acknowledged as a consummate diplomat and skillful negotiator who was absolutely loyal to the Church. His role was essentially that of a facilitator-- expanding the Church's work in the ideologically hostile communist environment, while negotiating a place for the Church under those difficult conditions. The election of Pope John Paul resulted in major changes to that approach. This became particularly noticeable during the papal visit to Poland in 1979, the first to a communist country. During his visit the pope presented an uncompromising critique of the authoritarian government, focusing his attention on moral issues and human rights rather than diplomatic exchanges with the leaders and appealing directly to the public. The impact of the visit on Poland was dramatic, undermining the authority of the established leadership and encouraging popular self-organization. Just one year earlier, the first popular social movement, Solidarity, rose to prominence through a popular rebellion against the power of the state. While that movement was subsequently crushed by force, the spirit of public independence and social autonomy from state control survived and spread to other countries and societies. The activist approach to "pastoral" issues, which originated in the Polish visit, has characterized the pope's subsequent visits to other communist and/or authoritarian states. Casaroli, once so dedicated to gradualism and caution, adjusted to the new situation. His appointment to the powerful position of Secretary of State confirms that. And Pope John Paul clearly appreciated the skill and devotion of the veteran Vatican diplomat. Following Casaroli's retirement, the pope was reported to have said that it was "providential" to have worked with him during the times of "historic" change in European and world politics. Speaking in Moscow on 9 June, Anatolii Krasikov, former head of Russian President Boris Yeltsin's press office, said Cardinal Casaroli was a statesman of international stature "who like few others left his own mark on the time in which we live." The author is an RFE/RL senior correspondent. 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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