|A thing well said will be writ in all languages. - John Dryden 1631-1700|
RFE/RL NEWSLINE Vol. 2, No. 118 Part II, 22 June 1998
___________________________________________________________ RFE/RL NEWSLINE Vol. 2, No. 118 Part II, 22 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 * FIVE EU COUNTRIES, U.S. RECALL AMBASSADORS TO MINSK * SOCIAL DEMOCRATS WIN CZECH ELECTIONS * PRIMAKOV BREAKS RANKS OVER KOSOVA xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx EAST-CENTRAL EUROPE BELARUS CUTS OFF UTILITIES AT DIPLOMATIC COMPOUND. Minsk toughened its stance in the row over the Drazdy compound on 19 June by cutting off water, electricity, and telephone services to diplomatic residences (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 19 June 1998). The police set up checkpoints at roads leading to Drazdy and are allowing only vehicles with special passes to enter the compound. The authorities, however, have made no provision for issuing such passes, U.S. State Department spokesman James Rubin told a briefing in Washington on 19 June. JM FIVE EU COUNTRIES, U.S. RECALL AMBASSADORS TO MINSK. Ambassadors to Minsk from five EU countries--Britain, France, Greece, Italy, and Germany--are to return home on 22 June for consultations with their governments over Minsk's attempt to evict them from their residences. Germany has taken a further step by demanding that the Belarusian ambassador to Bonn leave immediately, dpa reported. German Foreign Minister termed Minsk's action in the Drazdy affair as "unprecedented in the history of diplomacy" and said the Belarusian government is "rapidly maneuvering itself into isolation." On 22 June, the U.S. announced it is also recalling its ambassador for consultations. JM RUSSIA TO LEAVE AMBASSADOR IN MINSK. Russian Foreign Minister Yevgenii Primakov has said the Russian ambassador to Belarus will not be recalled in connection with the conflict over the Drazdy compound. "But of course we will react in some way," ITAR-TASS quoted him as saying. "Our Belarusian friends and brothers are not acting via diplomatic means," he stated. JM KUCHMA SIGNS SEVERAL EMERGENCY ECONOMIC DECREES. Following his recent announcement on national television (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 19 June 1998), the Ukrainian president has signed several emergency economic decrees easing taxes and other payments to the state, Interfax reported. Employers' obligatory payment to a state fund for the consequences of the Chornobyl accident has been reduced from 10 percent to 5 percent of the wage fund. A single tax on agricultural produce replaces 10 such taxes. And 1.25 billion hryvni ($620 million) has been allocated to pay back wages, pensions, and social benefits. JM DONETSK MINERS DEMAND BACK WAGES. Following the Ukrainian government's deal with the Dnipropetrovsk to pay back wages (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 18 June 1998), a group of miners in Donetsk has begun picketing the oblast administration building to demand payment of their outstanding wages. Coal Industry Minister Serhiy Tulub has appealed to the miners to end their protest, ITAR-TASS reported on 19 June. Meanwhile, a Donetsk miners trade union has demanded that Tulub be held responsible for issuing a directive to coal mining managers to freeze funds allocated to pay overdue wages and benefits. JM NATO SECRETARY-GENERAL IN TALLINN. Javier Solana told Estonian Prime Minister Mart Siimann in Tallinn on 19 June that Estonia can best approach NATO by increasing its military cooperation with other countries, BNS and dpa reported. He also told Estonian leaders that a drive to increase defense spending will not necessarily improve their country's chance of joining the alliance. "The main problem is for you to develop your cooperation ability, language [and] communication skills, and management techniques," Solana said. The NATO chief was wrapping up a tour of all three Baltic States (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 19 June 1998). JC ULMANIS POSTPONES TRIP FOR DEBATE ON CITIZENSHIP LAW. Latvian President Guntis Ulmanis has postponed his departure for a NATO seminar in Vienna, saying he plans to be in Riga on 22 July when the parliament discusses amendments to the country's citizenship law, BNS reported. Ulmanis told U.S. Undersecretary of State Strobe Talbott in a telephone conversation on 19 June that he hopes lawmakers will approve the amendments, which will ease restrictions on granting citizenship to non-Latvians. JC POLISH TRAIN DRIVERS SUSPEND STRIKE. The Trade Union of Train Drivers on 20 June suspended its strike over pay increases and early retirement (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 17 June 1998). The government has agreed to review the wage scale for railroad workers but refuses to discuss early retirement plans. The 22 June "Zycie" reported that the trade union suspended the strike following government threats to resort to mass layoffs if the protest is continued. Normal railroad traffic is expected to be restored on 22 June. JM POLISH PRESIDENT TO VETO BILL ON ADMINISTRATIVE REFORM. Presidential aide Danuta Hubner has said Aleksander Kwasniewski will veto the bill on dividing the country into 15 administrative provinces. The upper house of the parliament amended the lower house's bill providing for 12 new provinces in Poland by increasing that figure to 15. Hubner said the president supports the opposition Democratic Left Alliance's proposal to set up at least 16 provinces. If Kwasniewski vetoes the bill, the Solidarity-led government will suffer a serious setback in its drive for administrative reform since it does not have the two-thirds parliamentary majority necessary to override the presidential veto. JM SOCIAL DEMOCRATS WIN CZECH ELECTIONS... The Social Democratic Party (CSSD) will be the largest formation in the new Chamber of Deputies, having won 32.3 percent of the vote and 74 seats in the 200-strong chamber in the 19-20 June elections, Reuters reported. The Civic Democratic Party (ODS) came second with 27.7 percent and 63 seats, followed by the Communist Party of Bohemia and Moravia (11 percent and 24 seats), the Christian Democrats (KDU-CSL, 9 percent and 20 seats) and the Freedom Union (8.6 percent and 19 seats). The far-right Republican Party (3.9 percent) and the Pensioners' Party (3 percent) will not be represented in the chamber. MS ...BUT MAY BE UNABLE TO FORM COALITION. "Mlada Fronta Dnes" on 21 June noted that CSSD chairman Milos Zeman "has most of the votes but has not won." Observers doubt the CSSD will be able to form a coalition, for which it would need the support of the KDU-CSL and the Freedom Union. Zeman said the same day that he will let the party decide whether it should form a coalition with the KDU-CSL and the Freedom Union, but he added that he is not in favor of a coalition with the Freedom Union. Freedom Union leader Jan Ruml, for his part, has ruled out a coalition with the CSSD, while KDU-CSL leader Josef Lux is opposed to a coalition with the CSSD alone, since the government would depend on the backing of the Communists. Both ODS leader Vaclav Klaus and Zeman have ruled out a "grand coalition." President Vaclav Havel on 22 June begins consultations with the leaders of the parties that gained entry to the new parliament. MS SLOVAKIA'S ETHNIC HUNGARIAN PARTIES MERGE. Slovakia's three ethnic Hungarian parties formally merged on 21 June to form the Hungarian Coalition Party. Bela Bugar of the Hungarian Christian Democratic Movement was elected chairman of the new party, and Miklos Duray of the Co-existence Party honorary chairman. The congress also decided that the former Hungarian Civic Party will name an executive deputy chairman. That post is likely to be filled by Laszlo Nagy, whose resignation last week as chairman of the Hungarian Civic Party was rejected by the formation's presidium, RFE/RL's Bratislava bureau reported. MS HUNGARY'S FREE DEMOCRATS ELECT NEW LEADER. The 20 June extraordinary congress of the Alliance of Free Democrats (SZDSZ) elected Balint Magyar as the party's new chairman, Hungarian media reported. Magyar said the party's structure and political style must be renewed in order to make the SZDSZ a strong liberal party. He said entering a coalition with the Socialist Party was the right decision but that the SZDSZ's mistake was its inability to change its political strategy when it realized that it could not implement its own principles. Commenting on the composition of the newly elected executive body of the party, Ferenc Koszeg, a founder of the party, said the SZDSZ has rewarded those who are responsible for unsuccessful policies. MSZ SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE PRIMAKOV BREAKS RANKS OVER KOSOVA. Russian Foreign Minister Yevgenii Primakov told Russian Television on 21 June that Belgrade cannot withdraw its forces from Kosova unless there is a decrease in "terrorist activity." Local Serbs would regard a withdrawal "right now" as a sign to leave, and the result would be "a stream of Serbian refugees," he said. Primakov stressed that the Kosovars must stop resorting to violence and that talks between the Serbian government and representatives of Kosovar political parties must begin at once. The Contact Group foreign ministers, including Primakov, have repeatedly said in joint declarations that Serbia must withdraw its forces immediately from Kosova. Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic told Russian President Boris Yeltsin in Moscow last week that he cannot withdraw his forces without a decrease in "terrorism." At the time, U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright warned Milosevic not to exploit differences between individual Contact Group countries. PM PRIMAKOV CLAIMS KEY ROLE... Primakov also told Russian Television on 21 June that his country is playing an influential role in ending the crisis in Kosova. He noted that NATO aircraft on recent exercises stayed at least 100 kilometers from the Serbian frontier, not out of fear of the Yugoslav defense system, as Milosevic claimed, but because NATO promised Russia it would do so. Primakov noted that one Russian deputy foreign minister left for Belgrade and Prishtina on 21 June for talks and that another went on a mission to Tirana and Skopje. PM ...CHIDES U.S. Primakov also blasted unnamed U.S. officials "whose work directly involves Albania" for spreading "a false report" from Kosovar refugees that Serbian forces recently used a helicopter with Red Cross markings to attack refugees (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 17 June 1998). He called Albright "a sensible person" with whom he nonetheless has "some differences.... I once told her, Russia has been involved in the Balkans for 200 years, so how can you think we know the situation there worse than you, the Americans?" Primakov rejected Western calls for a meeting of representatives of the Contact Group on 24 June and argued that the session should be postponed for a week to see whether Milosevic has kept the promises he made to Yeltsin (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 17 June 1998). PM HOLBROOKE TO WARN MILOSEVIC. Albright told NBC Television on 21 June that Richard Holbrooke, the U.S. ambassador-designate to the UN, will visit Belgrade in the next few days to impress upon Milosevic the importance of his meeting the demands of the Contact Group, including the withdrawal of Serbian forces from Kosova. PM KOSOVAR POLITICIANS WANT CONTROL OVER UCK. Shadow-state President Ibrahim Rugova said in Prishtina on 19 June that the Kosova Liberation Army (UCK) must submit to the authority of the political leadership. He added that the vast majority of UCK fighters are ordinary citizens who want to defend their homes and property, the "Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung" reported. Prime Minister Bujar Bukoshi told the Belgrade "Dnevni telegraf" of 22 June that "the armed resistance of the UCK is a reality...and it is necessary to place it under the control of political institutions [and] bring the UCK into Kosova political life." Previously, the Kosovar political leadership either made no reference to the UCK or suggested it was invented by Serbian security services to discredit the non-violent political leadership. In Prishtina on 21 June, Parliamentary Party leader Adem Demaci said his party wants to "serve as the political wing of the UCK." PM DESERTERS SAY TROOPS TOLD TO KILL CIVILIANS. Two Yugoslav conscripts from Montenegro told Reuters in the Albanian town of Bajram Curri on 21 June that they were ordered to kill civilians. Fahrudin Muric and Fahrudin Avdic, whose names suggest that they are Muslims from Sandzak, said they deserted to the UCK five days earlier. The UCK then helped them to flee to Albania and handed them over to the OSCE. Muric quoted Yugoslav officers as telling troops that "it is war and you have to kill civilians.... If you do not kill them, they will kill you." Muric added that "I decided to become a deserter because I did not want to kill people on their doorstep." Avdic said: "We were told to catch everyone who cannot defend themselves and then either kill them or take them to prison." Meanwhile, an RFE/RL correspondent reported from Podgorica on 22 June that two additional Montenegrin conscripts have deserted to the UCK. FS BATTERED KOSOVARS SENT TO SERBIA. Three buses containing beaten or otherwise badly injured Kosovars passed through the Sandzak town of Novi Pazar on 21 June en route to Serbia proper, an RFE/RL correspondent reported from Prishtina, citing eye-witness reports from Novi Pazar. Passers-by noticed the ethnic Albanians when the buses stopped for repairs. Police chased away onlookers who tried to approach the Kosovars, whose hands were bound. PM SERBIA KEEPS ALBANIAN FRONTIER CLOSED. Yugoslav troops over the weekend continued to seal off the border with Albania in the Tropoja region to prevent refugees from fleeing (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 16 June 1998). A spokesman for the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees said in Geneva on 19 June "that does not mean, however, that people are no longer attempting to flee the country." On 19 June, only 36 refugees made it across the frontier on a mountain path, after waiting two weeks to cross into Albania. Refugees who arrived in Tropoja earlier in the week said that "thousands" of people are still trapped inside Kosova. On 21 June, Reuters journalists on the Albanian side of the border observed a Serbian tank firing at a group of farmhouses near the border crossing of Qafa e Morines and heavy exchanges of fire throughout that day. FS ALBANIAN LOCAL BY-ELECTIONS TAKE PLACE WITHOUT INCIDENT. Albanians in seven municipalities and nine smaller communities went to the polls on 21 June. The turnout was only 35 percent in the southern city of Vlora but reached 85 percent in some other areas. About 100 OSCE and Council of Europe monitors observed the voting. Results are expected on 22 June. Local government collapsed in the respective communities and municipalities during unrest in February and March 1997. Officials appointed from Tirana have been in charge of those areas since mid-1997. FS ROMANIAN HEALTH MINISTER RESIGNS. The leadership of the Hungarian Democratic Federation of Romania (UDMR) on 20 June accepted the resignation of Minister of Health Francisc Baranyi, who earlier admitted having been forced to sign a pledge to work as an informer for the communist secret police. Baranyi said he was "a victim" rather than a collaborator of the Securitate but has decided to "put UDMR interests above my personal interests." The same day, Prime Minister Radu Vasile announced all government members must submit a written declaration saying whether they worked for the Securitate. The leaderships of the National Peasant Party Christian Democratic, the National Liberal Party, and the Romanian Alternative party are to demand that their leaders and parliamentary representatives submit a similar declaration. MS HEAVY FLOODS IN ROMANIA. President Emil Constantinescu on 21 June cut short a visit to Austria and flew back to Bucharest because of the heavy damage caused by floods in his country. At least half of Romania's 41 counties are reported to be affected by the floods, with most damage being registered in Transylvania. Reuters reported on 19 June that the floods have caused the death of 16 people, and at least seven more deaths were reported on 21 June. Prime Minister Radu Vasile has visited the affected areas. MS BULGARIAN PRESIDENT ON RELATIONS WITH YUGOSLAVIA. Petar Stoyanov, in an interview with the Belgrade "Nin" magazine, said his country follows closely developments in Kosova "because it does not want to be a hostage of what is happening in Yugoslavia," BTA reported on 19 June. Stoyanov said internal developments in Yugoslavia "hinder bilateral relations" at present. He added that the imposition of sanctions on Serbia were "a severe blow" to Bulgarian economic reform efforts and encouraged "arms trafficking and black marketing.". Stoyanov said that for this reason, Bulgaria opposes the sanctions and that the situation in Kosova cannot be viewed as an internal Yugoslav problem alone because it encourages "the bad image" of the Balkans as "a region where political emotions run higher than they should." MS 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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