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RFE/RL NEWSLINE Vol. 2, No. 115 Part II, 17 June 1998
___________________________________________________________ RFE/RL NEWSLINE Vol. 2, No. 115 Part II, 17 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 * HAVEL CALLS FOR YOUNGER GENERATION OF POLITICIANS * MILOSEVIC HEDGES ON TROOP WITHDRAWAL * ALBRIGHT SAYS MILOSEVIC MUST END VIOLENCE End Note: KOSOVA FROM TIRANA'S PERSPECTIVE xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx EAST-CENTRAL EUROPE DIPLOMATS REMAIN AT DRAZDY AS EVICTION DEADLINE LOOMS. Foreign diplomats were sitting tight in their residences at the Drazdy compound on 16 June as a government deadline for vacating the site drew closer, Reuters reported. Belarusian President Alyaksandr Lukashenka has said the diplomats must leave Drazdy by 17 June so that planned repairs can be carried out (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 10 June 1998). The Italian ambassador told Reuters that as long as he is "under an ultimatum," he will continue to live at Drazdy. He added that "all the diplomats are taking the same line." The German ambassador has also said he will not move into the new building proposed by the government, although some of his belongings have already been moved there for "temporary storage." JM GAZPROM TO RESUME FULL GAS SUPPLY AFTER BELARUS PAYS DEBT. Gazprom's gas supplies to Belarus will remain reduced by 40 percent until 1 July, ITAR-TASS reported on 17 June. Following talks between the Gazprom leadership and Belarusian Deputy Prime Minister Valeryy Kokarau, a Gazprom representative told the agency that gas deliveries will resumed in full only after Belarus "takes specific steps to reduce its current gas debt" in the next two weeks. According to a deal reached in the talks, Belarus is to pay some $1 million a day to Gazprom in order to "improve the existing situation." If Belarus fails to do so, Gazprom may reduce its supplies to Belarus even further. JM BELARUSIAN-LANGUAGE HIGH SCHOOL PROTESTS MERGER PLAN. Several hundred students of the Belarusian-language Humanities Lycee--the only high school in Minsk in which all subjects are taught in Belarusian--staged a protest in Minsk on 16 June to oppose the government's plan to merge it with a Russian-language high school, RFE/RL's Belarusian Service reported. Parents and students gathered signatures from passers-by also opposed to the planned merger. Deputy Prime Minister Uladzimir Zamyatalin is widely believed to be the main force behind the merger plan. JM WORLD BANK DEFERS GRANTING LOANS TO UKRAINE. Paul Siegelbaum, the World Bank's director for Ukraine and Belarus, has said the bank will defer granting loans to Ukraine until the country resumes cooperation with the IMF, the Ukrainian News agency reported. In February, Ukraine requested a $150 million loan to promote entrepreneurship and some $500 million to restructure the financial sector. Earlier, the IMF discontinued financing to Ukraine under a stand-by program owing to the country's lack of progress toward economic reform. Both the World Bank and the IMF are now working with Ukraine on possible new credits. JM ILVES DENIES MAKING CONTEMPTUOUS REMARKS ABOUT RUSSIA TO CANADIAN DAILY. Estonian Foreign Minister Toomas Hendrik Ilves has said that a Canadian daily misinterpreted his remarks in a recent interview, BNS and ETA reported on 16 June. Earlier the same day, the Russian Foreign Ministry expressed "incomprehension" over Ilves's alleged comments to the "The Ottawa Citizen," which had quoted him as saying that "Russians are unable to overcome post-colonial stress" and are suffering from the same woes as Britain in the 1950s and France in 1960s, after their colonial empires collapsed. In a statement, the Russian Foreign Ministry said those and other comments were "full of open contempt for Russia." It expressed the hope that Ilves's remarks do not reflect the official position of the Estonian authorities. JC IMF SAYS ESTONIA'S BIGGEST PROBLEM IS CURRENT ACCOUNT DEFICIT. IMF representative in Estonia Dimitri Demekas told BNS on 16 June that economic data for the first quarter of this year show that the current account deficit remains the principal problem of the Estonian economy. The previous day, the Bank of Estonia announced that the current account deficit from January to March totaled 11 percent of GDP. "This remains a grave problem," Demekas commented. He urged the government and the Bank of Estonia to continue tight fiscal policies, in particular slowing down the growth of credit. JC SAIMNIEKS COLLECTS SIGNATURES FOR EXTRAORDINARY SESSION OF PARLIAMENT. The parliamentary group of the opposition Democratic Party Saimnieks has collected enough signatures to call an extraordinary session of the parliament on 22 June to consider amendments to the citizenship law in the third and final reading, BNS reported on 16 June. Prime Minister Guntars Krasts, however, told the news agency that he has not "rushed" to convene an extraordinary session since the parliamentary legal commission stopped accepting proposals for the third reading only the previous day. He also stressed that the issue concerns not only the parliamentary parties but society as a whole. He did not say whether he would attend the 22 June session. JC POLISH TRAIN DRIVERS LAUNCH INDEFINITE STRIKE. The Trade Union of Train Drivers launched an indefinite strike on 17 June. The decision was announced by Jan Zaborowski, head of the trade union, which represents some 14,000 out of Poland's 20,000 train drivers. The previous day, the trade union broke off negotiations with the government after a government spokesman had said the planned strike is illegal and has political goals. The trade union is demanding a 300 zloty ($88) increase rise in the average monthly wage (some $300) and the lowering of the retirement age to 55 (from 65 for men and 60 for women). According to Jan Janik, president of the Polish State Railroads, the strike will not paralyze his company. "We know which train drivers are likely to go on strike, so we have assigned them to [less important] routes," "Gazeta Wyborcza" quoted him as saying. Reuters reported on 17 June that the strike has halted some 30 percent of trains in Poland. JM HAVEL CALLS FOR YOUNGER GENERATION OF POLITICIANS. In his last television interview before the 19-20 June general elections, President Vaclav Havel told Nova TV that the time has come for "a younger generation...that is, one not as tired and worn out as we [are]" to take over leading political positions, Reuters reported. Havel also said he was offended by suggestions that he would choose "the wrong person" as premier after the elections and would therefore not speak about it, "although I am more or less clear on how I shall proceed." The Social Democratic Party (CSSD) has suggested that Havel might ignore their expected ballot victory and appoint as premier someone other than CSSD leader Milos Zeman, whom he allegedly dislikes, CTK reported. MS CZECH CONSERVATIVE PARTIES TO MERGE? Leading members of the Freedom Union and the Christian Democratic Party are unofficially discussing the possible merger of their parties after the elections, "Lidove noviny" reported on 17 June. The daily says former Foreign Minister Jozef Zieleniec is the main force behind the possible merger. His disclosures on the financing of Vaclav Klaus's Civic Democratic Party (ODS) caused the downfall of the ODS government in November 1997. Freedom Union chairman Jan Ruml said that a post- election merger cannot be ruled out, in order to forge "an equivalent counter-balance to Klaus's ODS," but added that for the time being "no official talks" are under way. MS CZECH COMMUNISTS WILL SUPPORT ZEMAN IN EXCHANGE FOR NATO REFERENDUM. Vojtech Filip, chairman of the Communist Party of Bohemia and Moravia, says his formation will support a minority government formed by the CSSD and the Pensioners for Secure Life Party only if a referendum on accession to NATO is held, "Lidove noviny" reported on 16 June. CSSD chairman Milos Zeman said his party has always wanted a referendum on NATO membership but added that he doubts legislation on the referendum can be passed by the parliament before next March or April, when the process of NATO accession is to end, CTK reported. Zeman said the issue will be "discussed after the elections." MS HUNGARY COMMEMORATES HERO OF 1956 UPRISING. President Arpad Goncz on 16 June laid a wreath at the grave of former Prime Minister Imre Nagy, who led the 1956 uprising against Soviet rule, Hungarian media reported. Some 5,000 Budapest residents gathered to mark the 40th anniversary of Nagy's execution. Nagy, who was appointed prime minister after the uprising broke out, announced the country's withdrawal from the Warsaw Pact and proclaimed Hungary's neutrality. In November 1956, he was arrested and sent to Romania, where he was put under house arrest, before being returned to Hungary and executed in 1958. In 1989, Nagy was reburied with honors. Goncz said Nagy's sacrifice should be viewed by Hungarians as a "source of pride." MSZ SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE MILOSEVIC HEDGES ON TROOP WITHDRAWAL. Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic said in a joint declaration with his Russian counterpart, Boris Yeltsin, in Moscow on 16 June that Serbian "security forces will cut back their presence outside bases [in Kosova] in accordance with the cessation of terrorist activities." He also pledged to allow the return of refugees and freedom of movement for diplomats and humanitarian organizations. Milosevic added that he is willing to negotiate with Kosovar leaders and agreed not to use repression against civilians. At a press conference following his meeting with Yeltsin, Milosevic denied that his forces are conducting ethnic cleansing or have carried out attacks on civilians. Yeltsin described his talks with the Yugoslav leader, which lasted longer than scheduled, as "not easy." He also told Milosevic that "we do not forget that we are Slavic states and friends." PM ALBRIGHT SAYS MILOSEVIC MUST END VIOLENCE... Secretary of State Madeleine Albright said in Washington on 16 June that Milosevic's promises in Moscow constitute "some progress" but "do not meet the primary points that the Contact Group" has repeatedly raised. She stressed that the international community still insists that Milosevic end the violence in Kosova and withdraw his security forces, but, she said, "that has not happened." She commented that "what is going on there is unacceptable," adding that "action needs to be taken." Albright stressed that the international community is united in its views and that NATO will go ahead preparing contingency plans for intervention. She noted that Washington "condemns acts of violence by all sides, including the Kosova Liberation Army." PM ...AS DOES PENTAGON. Secretary of Defense William Cohen said in Washington on 16 June that "if there is a continuation of the killing [in Kosova], I think there will be a very strong tendency to reach a consensus [within NATO] quickly, rather than engaging in an endless debate." A Pentagon spokesman said that the issues of terrorist activity and the withdrawal of Serbian forces should not be linked and that Milosevic was trying to create "a loophole" by doing so in the Moscow declaration. A White House spokesman said that "there is no justification for continuation of the brutal campaign of violence by Serbian security forces, and the withdrawal of Serbian security forces is fundamental." He added that Milosevic's promises nonetheless constitute a "step in the right direction." PM KOSOVARS UNIMPRESSED WITH MOSCOW DECLARATION. Kosovar spokesmen said in Prishtina on 16 June that Milosevic is "trying to buy time" by making promises in Moscow. They added that his offer of talks is without significance because the Kosovars refuse to meet with Serbian negotiators as long as the repression continues. A spokesman for shadow- state President Ibrahim Rugova said the following day that "before Milosevic makes easy promises that he is for dialogue...he has to withdraw special units from Kosova and stop the ethnic cleansing." The spokesman added that the Kosovars are "very interested" in dialogue but added that they believe "that only NATO intervention can create conditions for serious talks between Prishtina and Belgrade." Elsewhere, "The Guardian" reported on 16 June that elite British SAS units have arrived in Macedonia to help guide NATO aircraft to their targets should the Atlantic alliance intervene against Serbia. PM UCK CALLS RUGOVA "AN OBSTACLE." A spokesman for the Kosova Liberation Army (UCK) told BBC Television on 17 June that Rugova, who rejects violence, is a "defeatist" and "an obstacle to Kosova's independence." He added that Belgrade must withdraw its troops from Kosova and release political prisoners as a precondition for talks. The spokesman added that the UCK is fighting for a "pluralistic and democratic Kosova." FS ALBANIAN FOREIGN MINISTER CHARGES SERBIA WITH GENOCIDE. Paskal Milo told a UN conference in Rome on 16 June that Serbia is conducting "genocidal massacres" and pursuing "an institutionalized policy of genocide [and] of state terrorism realized through the military, paramilitary, and police machinery against [Kosovar] Albanians." He added that Kosovars are "becoming the victims of a policy of ethnic cleansing" and stressed that armed resistance by the Albanian population against this policy "can never be identified with so-called terrorism." The Rome conference focused on plans to establish a permanent International Criminal Court to try war crimes. FS ATTACKS ON KOSOVAR REFUGEES. Serbian forces in the border area between Kosova and Albania fired on refugees trying to flee to Albania, killing at least one person, CNN reported on 17 June. A spokesman for the OSCE added that his organization is concerned that many refugees may be trapped inside Kosova because few people arrived in Albania on the morning of 17 June. The previous day, Serbian troops shot and killed an Albanian citizen inside Albanian territory, the Albanian Interior Ministry said in a statement. Refugees crossing into northeastern Albania said that Serbian military helicopters on 15 June opened fire on them with heavy machine guns and grenades. The Kosovars added that one of the helicopters bore the insignia of the Red Cross and attacked a group of refugees in the mountains of Kosova, killing at least two people. Meanwhile in Tirana, spokesmen for the Albanian Air Force said that maneuvers will take place on 19 June at the capital's airport. FS ARE THERE CONCENTRATION CAMPS IN KOSOVA? Daan Everts, who is the OSCE ambassador to Albania, told the Dutch TV station "Nova" that he has received a "cruel report" from refugees that Serbian police have put an unspecified number of Kosovars in concentration camps, the "Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung" wrote on 17 June. He added that the report has not been independently confirmed but stressed that it "rang alarm bells" and that an investigation is urgently needed. Elsewhere, Euronews Television reported on 17 June that Serbian police have started rounding up Kosovar males. The broadcast likened the practice to Serbian policies during the Bosnian conflict. FS MUSLIM ELECTED IN BANJA LUKA. The Republika Srpska parliament on 16 June elected Socialist Petar Djokic speaker and Safet Bico of the Party of Democratic Action his deputy. They replace hard-line Serbian nationalists, whom the parliament removed from office earlier the same day (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 16 June 1998). Bico told the Sarajevo daily "Oslobodjenje" that he recognizes it was difficult for many Serbian deputies to vote for a Muslim and thanked them for doing so. He added that his election constitutes "a step forward for democracy and toward European standards of human rights in the Republika Srpska." In Sarajevo, spokesmen for the new moderate Bosnian Croat political party, led by Kresimir Zubak, said that the organization will be called the New Croatian Initiative, RFE/RL's South Slavic Service reported. PM CROATIAN POLICE KILLED IN BORDER INCIDENT. Unidentified persons crossing into Croatia from Serbia east of Osijek killed two members of a regular Croatian police patrol, the Interior Ministry said in a statement on 16 June. In Zagreb, several thousand teachers demonstrated against the government's education policies. The office of the Zagreb Archbishopric said in a statement that the Roman Catholic Church opposes both the strike and the government's decision to end the school year early, RFE/RL's South Slavic Service reported. PM TENSIONS CONTINUE OVER HUNGARIAN-LANGUAGE UNIVERSITY IN ROMANIA. The parliamentary group of the Hungarian Democratic Federation of Romania (UDMR) on 16 June decided to submit to the parliament on 26 June a draft law that would set up a Hungarian language state university in Transylvania However, also on 16 June, four members of the group presented a bill establishing the university, RFE/RL's Bucharest bureau reported. UDMR chairman Bela Marko said the decision two days earlier of the Cluj Babes Bolyai University Senate to oppose the government's decision to set up a faculty for Hungarian language and literature was "an enormous gaffe" that strengthened the demand for a separate university for the Hungarian minority. Marko said the UDMR will leave the coalition if the ruling parties do not respect agreements that were made when the coalition was formed. MS MOLDOVAN, RUSSIAN PARLIAMENT CHAIRMEN WANT NEW BASIC TREATY. Meeting in St. Petersburg on 16 June, Moldovan parliamentary chairman Dumitru Diacov, State Duma chairman Gennadii Seleznev, and Federation Council chairman Yegor Stroev agreed that a new basic treaty between the two countries must be drafted to replace the 1990 treaty, which has not been ratified by the Duma. Seleznev and Stroev told Diacov that the latter document is "historically outdated" and includes provisions that are now "disputable". The Transdniester separatists say the treaty is invalid because it does not take into consideration the "reality" of their statehood. Diacov proposed that the countries' Foreign Ministries start negotiations on striking "outdated provisions" from the document. Meanwhile, Gazprom has made good its threat to reduce gas deliveries to Moldova by 50 percent following Moldova's failure to pay its debt, RFE/RL's Chisinau bureau reported. MS END NOTE KOSOVA FROM TIRANA'S PERSPECTIVE by Fabian Schmidt Besides facing an influx of thousands of Kosovar refugees, Albania is confronted with a security threat from outside that could significantly undermine its stability, deepen internal divisions, and trigger new unrest. This threat is particularly acute after last year's riots in Albania. As anarchy spread throughout the country, large parts of the population destroyed all manner of government property, soldiers deserted and brought the army to near collapse, and arms depots were looted. When Albania's new Socialist Party-dominated government took office in summer 1997, it had to rebuild administrative structures, in particular the police force and customs, and launch reforms to strengthen democratic institutions and the rule of law. One priority was to accelerate economic development, largely by improving ties with Albania's Balkan neighbors. Part of the new strategy was to seek to develop a dialog with then Serbian, now Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic. Before a summit of Balkan leaders in Crete last November, Albanian Prime Minister Fatos Nano announced he would like to discuss with Milosevic the possibility of closer cooperation between the two countries, adding that the Kosova problem should be addressed in a productive "European spirit." But during the summit, it became clear that Milosevic was ready neither for a rapprochement with Albania nor to make use of Tirana's new approach to try to solve the "Kosova problem" in a peaceful manner. Indeed, subsequent developments suggest that Nano made a political mistake. Even though he was praised by Western countries for his courage, the Crete summit backfired in three ways. First, the vast majority of the Kosova Albanians saw his efforts at improving ties with Belgrade as treason and as an attempt to sell out Kosova for minor economic interests. Second, this perception was strengthened by the domestic Albanian opposition, which claimed Tirana was betraying national interests. The opposition, led by former President Sali Berisha, also charged that it was unrealistic for the government to think Milosevic could be regarded as a serious negotiating partner. And third, Milosevic took Nano's policy as a sign of Tirana's weakness and opted for confrontation rather than reconciliation. Less than two months after the Crete summit, Belgrade used force to crack down on student demonstrations in Prishtina, sending a clear sign to Tirana that its policy of reconciliation had failed. This accelerated the spiral of violence that had slowly emerged over the previous eight years. At the same time, the Kosova Liberation Army (UCK) stepped up its activities, realizing that the peaceful policy of Kosova shadow state of President Ibrahim Rugova was all but bankrupt and that Tirana had now officially turned its back on Prishtina's demand for independence. Berisha had supported that demand during his presidency from 1992 to 1997. Belgrade, for its part, used the UCK's increased activities as an excuse to accelerate its policy of confrontation and to start a campaign of ethnic cleansing in the Drenica region in February. The following month, the Kosova shadow state held elections, which the Kosova Albanian opposition criticized as undemocratic, giving the UCK another argument against Rugova's political legitimacy. With the growing fragmentation among Kosovars, Milosevic felt confident enough to start his latest campaign of ethnic cleansing. As a result, there are currently about 45,000 displaced persons in Kosova, some 13,000 Kosovar refugees in Albania, and another 9,000 or so in Montenegro. Tirana now finds itself in a difficult situation. On the one hand, it is sticking to its position of favoring a peaceful solution through dialogue between Prishtina and Belgrade. On the other, it is faced with a conflict that has already transformed its northern, mountainous region into a hinterland for foreign guerrillas. The Albanian government knows full well that its military will be unable to control the country's northern border to prevent the UCK from using Albania as a base. Similarly, it has failed to establish the rule of law in the north. That remote region is notorious for blood feuds, and many observers have compared it to the Wild West in 19th century America. But armed resistance to Serbia is "self- defense against a genocidal war," Albanian Foreign Minister Paskal Milo commented on 16 June. The government is now seeking to contain the situation in the north by establishing police controls on the roads leading to the region and by clamping down on arms smuggling inside Albania. At the same time, it has built large refugee camps in the inaccessible northern region, rather than bringing the refugees to the lowland plains, which are easier to supply with food and temporary accommodation and from where the refugees could head to destinations of their own choosing. For the time being, that policy is keeping most refugees outside the cities of central Albania. It also gives many Albanians the impression that Kosova is still far away, although Albanian citizens have been quick to respond to appeals from a pro-Berisha radio station for donations of food and money to help the refugees. But the policy could nonetheless backfire. Concentrating Kosovars, who are already critical of Tirana's policies toward Milosevic, in the north, whose population tends to be pro-Berisha and anti-Socialist, could lead to a radicalization of northern Albanians. Many of those living in Albania's north have relatives in Kosova, including UCK fighters. 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 or body of the message. HOW TO UNSUBSCRIBE Send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org with the word "unsubscribe" as the subject or body of the message. 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