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RFE/RL NEWSLINE Vol. 2, No. 119 Part II, 23 June 1998
___________________________________________________________ RFE/RL NEWSLINE Vol. 2, No. 119 Part II, 23 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 * BELARUS TERMS RECALL OF AMBASSADORS 'ULTIMATUM' * LATVIAN LAWMAKERS ADOPT CITIZENSHIP LAW AMENDMENTS * ALBANIA'S NANO SAYS 'EVE OF WAR' WITH YUGOSLAVIA xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx EAST-CENTRAL EUROPE BELARUS TERMS RECALL OF AMBASSADORS 'ULTIMATUM.' In a statement released on 22 June, the Belarusian Foreign Ministry says the recall of six Western ambassadors from Minsk (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 22 June 1998) is an inadmissible "ultimatum" and an example of the EU's "double standards" toward Belarus, Belapan reported. The ministry accused the ambassadors of violating the Vienna Convention on diplomatic relations by disobeying the laws of the country of their residence. It stressed that the Belarusian government gave the ambassadors sufficient notice to relocate to other accommodation. And the ministry said that Belarus remains "loyal to the principles of international law and to existing agreements," while "defending the sovereign right to manage its own territory, real estate, and national resources." JM RECALL OF AMBASSADORS FROM MINSK RECEIVES MORE SUPPORT... The European Commission has announced it fully supports the decision of EU governments to recall their ambassadors from Minsk. A commission spokeswoman said on 22 June that the EU mission head in Ukraine, who is also accredited to Belarus, was advised against visiting that country. ITAR-TASS reported that Japan and Lithuania have also recalled their ambassadors to Belarus for consultations. A Polish Foreign Ministry spokesman has said Poland is "strongly considering" the recall of its ambassador, Reuters reported. Poland has handed over a note protesting the eviction order and demanding from Belarus compensation for the money it invested in the Polish ambassador's residence at Drazdy. JM ...WHILE U.S., GERMANY GO ONE STEP FURTHER. The U.S. State Department has asked Belarus not to send its ambassador, who is currently in Belarus, back to Washington. "It is very hard to have a serious discussion with [Belarusian officials]," U.S. State Department spokesman James Rubin commented on 22 June. But he added that the recall of the U.S. ambassador from Belarus does not mean breaking off diplomatic relations between the two countries. Germany, too, has asked the Belarusian ambassador to Bonn to leave immediately, dpa reported. JM LUKASHENKA SAYS COMPROMISE OVER DIPLOMATIC ROW POSSIBLE. The Belarusian president has suggested that a compromise in the row over the recall of ambassadors from Minsk can be found. Speaking on national television after an unexpected meeting with CIS Executive Secretary Boris Berezovskii in Minsk on 22 June, Lukashenka said he is ready to conduct a dialogue with the governments that have recalled their ambassadors. "If the question is not political, but of an everyday-life level, I am open to everybody," ITAR-TASS quoted Lukashenka as saying. JM IMF 'NEARLY AGREES' ON $2 BILLION LOAN TO UKRAINE. IMF Deputy Managing Director Stanley Fischer said after a meeting with Ukrainian President Leonid Kuchma in Kyiv on 22 June that Ukraine and the IMF "have nearly agreed on launching a new credit program," Ukrainian Television reported. Ukraine is currently negotiating a $2 billion loan from the IMF to be issued over three years. Fischer said there are still "some technical problems" and that the final decision on the loan will be made in late July. But he praised Ukraine's recent reform efforts and said he is "surprised at the production growth in Ukraine achieved over a very short period." JM UKRAINIAN PREMIER OFFERS REGULAR PAYMENTS TO COAL INDUSTRY. Valeriy Pustovoytenko on 22 June said that the government can now make regular payments to the coal industry, Ukrainian Radio reported. The premier announced that the government allotted 9 million hryvni ($4.5 million) early this week to pay wages for coal miners. The government has also ordered that enterprises pay for no less than 60 percent of coal supplies in cash. Meanwhile, Mykhaylo Volynets, leader of the Independent Trade Union of Coal Miners, has accused the government of failing to meet its former pledges to pay current wages, Ukrainian Television reported. According to Volynets, miners at 20 coal mines are still on strike over unpaid wages. JM LATVIAN LAWMAKERS ADOPT CITIZENSHIP LAW AMENDMENTS... The parliament on 22 June approved an amendment to the citizenship law in the third and final reading whereby citizenship will be granted to all children born to non- citizens after 21 August 1991 if their parents request it. In an emergency parliamentary session called by the opposition Democratic Party Saimnieks, lawmakers voted by 54 to 14 to adopt the amendment. The parliament also voted to abolish the so-called "naturalization windows," which placed quotas on granting citizenship, and to simplify language tests for people over 65. The OSCE had strongly recommended that the parliament adopt those changes. Meanwhile, the For Fatherland and Freedom party has collected the required number of deputies' signatures to prevent the amendments from going into force for two months. During that period, it will seek to collect the signatures of 10 percent of voters to hold a referendum on the amended law, Reuters reported. JC ...WHILE PREMIER DOUBTS CHANGES WILL PROMOTE LATVIAN AMONG NON-LATVIANS. Addressing lawmakers before the debate, Prime Minister Guntars Krasts of the Fatherland and Freedom Party said he doubted that the proposed amendments to the citizenship law could promote mastery of the Latvian language among non-Latvians. The prime minister urged the parliament to carefully consider whether the automatic extension of citizenship to children would stimulate them to learn the state language. "If we amend the law but fail to carry out a substantial reform of the educational system with a view to increased degree of state language protection, we may lose important instruments of integration," Krasts said. Latvian President Guntis Ulmanis told lawmakers that the citizenship law amendments should serve to form a stable society. He underscored that citizenship issues are closely related to the education and language policy and that the task of the state is to ensure everyone has the opportunity to learn the Latvian language. JC TURKEY PLEDGES TO APPROVE NATO EXPANSION. Turkish Defense Minister Ismet Sezgin said in Warsaw on 22 June that Turkey will soon ratify the agreement on NATO enlargement, which will provide for the entry of Poland, Hungary, and the Czech Republic. Sezgin made that statement following the signing of a military cooperation agreement between Turkey and Poland. The accord foresees an exchange of military cadets and stipulates that each country send observers to monitor the other's military exercises, "Turkish Daily News" reported. JM HAVEL ASKS ZEMAN TO FORM COALITION... President Vaclav Havel on 22 June met with the leaders of the parties that won parliamentary representation in the early elections several days earlier, excluding the Communist Party of Bohemia and Moravia. He asked the leader of the Social Democratic Party (CSSD), Milos Zeman, to begin talks on forming a new government, CTK reported. Havel said Zeman, whose party won the largest number of seats in the Chamber of Deputies, must win "the support and tolerance of other parties" in order to succeed. MS ...BUT HIS CHANCES LOOK SLIM. The leader of the Civic Democratic Party, Vaclav Klaus, said after the talks with Havel that his party will not join a coalition headed by the CSSD but is ready to try to form a coalition himself if Zeman fails to do so. Freedom Union leader Jan Ruml repeated that his party will not join a Zeman-led coalition. Christian Democrat leader Josef Lux said a coalition of the CSSD, the Freedom Union ,and his own party would be "the most accurate reflection of the election results." MS U.S. CRITICIZES SLOVAK ELECTION LAW. State Department spokesman James Rubin on 22 June said the new election law approved by the Slovak parliament last month "fails to meet international standards and should be changed." Rubin said major changes in the election process made only four months before the scheduled ballot "create confusion and raise doubts about the intention of the legislation," an RFE/RL correspondent in Washington reported. He said that in its current form, the law could result in "unfree and unfair elections," not least because it increases the authority of the Interior Ministry, which disrupted polling in two referenda last year. MS HUNGARY'S YOUNG DEMOCRATS, DEMOCRATIC FORUM SIGN COALITION AGREEMENT. Prime Minister-designate Viktor Orban, chairman of the Federation of Young Democrats-Hungarian Civic Party (FIDESZ-MPP), and Hungarian Democratic Forum chairman Sandor Lezsak signed a coalition agreement on 22 June. They stressed that the two sides cooperated closely even before the elections and that their plans are identical. According to Orban, the coalition agreement is not only for the next four years but for "several cycles". Also on 22 June, FIDESZ-MPP agreed to let the Independent Smallholders' Party nominate a joint candidate for the president of the republic in the elections due in 2000, but reserved the right to veto its choice. MSZ SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE ALBANIA'S NANO SAYS 'EVE OF WAR' WITH YUGOSLAVIA. Prime Minister Fatos Nano said in Vienna on 22 June that "we Albanians are at the moment on the eve of a war with another nation, the Serbs, and it is not our fault. The Albanian state and government has to face on its northeastern border a situation of real war with all its consequences, victims, economic damage, lots of refugees, and considerable increase of defense costs." Nano noted that Serbia's "massacres" in the province have led to "spontaneous resistance on the ground." He added that he hopes the Kosovar political leadership will open contacts to the armed resistance groups, saying his government is trying to exert a "moderating influence" on all factions in the province. Nano called for Kosova to become a separate republic within the Yugoslav federation but without the right of secession. PM HOLBROOKE SAYS MILOSEVIC 'CANNOT PICK AND CHOOSE.' On the eve of a trip to Belgrade, Prishtina, and Skopje by Richard Holbrooke, who is the U.S. ambassador-designate to the UN, a State Department spokesman warned Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic that the demands of the international Contact Group are a package "and not a menu from which you can pick and choose." The spokesman said in Washington on 22 June that Milosevic "must not only follow through...on the requirements to allow access for humanitarian organizations in Kosova, but he also must pull back...the forces that have been involved in the violence there." Holbrooke arrived in Belgrade for talks with Milosevic on 23 June. PM REHN CALLS FOR NATO INTERVENTION IN KOSOVA. Elisabeth Rehn, the UN's special representative to Bosnia, said in Helsinki on 22 June that Kosova "is ripe" for NATO intervention but stressed that the Atlantic alliance must have a mandate from the UN before it takes action. She warned that "human rights are never [purely] the internal affair of any state." She noted she is especially troubled by reports that Serbian authorities have begun to place Kosovars in detention camps but did not elaborate. Rehn added that she "hates violence" and that "there has been too much violence" in Kosova recently. She told the BBC that the UN-mandated international action in the 1991 Gulf War is the proper model for intervention in Kosova and that she is confident that Russia will support such a formula. PM NATO ABLE TO ACT 'WITHIN FOUR DAYS.' NATO Secretary-General Javier Solana said in Vienna on 22 June that "time is running out. As time goes by the radicalization of Kosova will be dramatic. The international community has to act rapidly." An unnamed NATO military official told Reuters that the alliance is able to act "within four days" after Western leaders make "the political decision" to intervene. The official suggested that NATO will use air strikes rather than ground troops and seek to bring the crisis to an end quickly. PM SERBIAN POLICE FIRE AT DANISH TV VEHICLE. A journalist for Denmark's TV2 told BBC Television on 22 June that a Serbian policeman stepped out of a ditch in the Gllogovc area and fired point blank at the windshield of the clearly marked Danish press vehicle. No one was injured. Serbian spokesmen said in Prishtina that the policeman "acted out of fear, [thinking he was] dealing with Albanian separatists." In Tirana, two Montenegrin Muslim deserters from the Yugoslav army arrived and will tell international experts what they know about atrocities committed by Yugoslav troops in Kosova, RFE/RL's South Slavic Service reported. And in Podgorica, the Montenegrin government appealed for international aid to help it provide for the more than 10,000 refugees from Kosova who have fled to Montenegro since Milosevic launched his crackdown in February. PM BOSNIA GETS NEW CURRENCY. The "convertible mark" went into circulation throughout Bosnia on 22 June. Some 60 financial institutions in 14 cities will exchange the new currency for German marks at the rate of 1:1 and will maintain that rate for the next six years, an RFE/RL correspondent reported from Sarajevo. Within the first three hours after the exchange offices opened in the mainly Croat and Muslim federation, customers obtained some 5 million convertible marks. The correspondent added, however, that the introduction of the common currency "passed unnoticed" in the Republika Srpska. Until now, the Bosnian dinar and Croatian kuna have circulated in the federation, while the Republika Srpska has used the Yugoslav dinar. The German mark is also widely used throughout Bosnia and most of the former Yugoslavia. PM ALBANIAN GOVERNMENT COALITION CLAIMS VICTORY IN LOCAL ELECTIONS. Speaking at a press conference in Tirana on 22 June, spokesmen for the Alliance for the State coalition, which is led by the governing Socialists, claimed victory in four out of the seven municipalities and six out of the nine communities that held by-elections the previous day (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 22 June 1998). The opposition Union for Democracy, which is headed by the Democratic Party, is ahead in only one municipality and three communities. Run-offs will be held in Vlora and Roskovec on 28 June. The Alliance for the State estimated voter turnout at some 50 percent, "Gazeta Shqiptare" reported. FS PARLIAMENTARY SPEAKER SAYS VOTE SHOWS GOVERNMENT STRENGTH. Skender Gjinushi said in Tirana on 22 June that in the local elections showed the governing coalition has "a strong base of support [that will carry it through] until the next parliamentary elections, in 2001." Socialist parliamentary leader Pandeli Majko stressed that the coalition was able to win "even in the most problematic corners of the country, such as the [southern] municipalities of Patos, Roskovec, and Ura Vajgurore," all of which were badly affected by the 1997 anarchy, "Koha Jone" reported. The Socialists fared best in the south, near Elbasan and in the northeastern community of Lura. The Democrats' showing was strongest in the central regions of Kavaja and Shijak, which are their traditional strongholds. They also won a majority in the northeastern community of Bushtrice and the southeastern community of Proger. FS BOMB BLAST IN CENTRAL TIRANA. A bomb caused heavy damage to a restaurant in a downtown park on 21 June, slightly injuring a guard and a waiter. The restaurant is owned by Gazmend Demi, a close friend of Prime Minister Fatos Nano, "Gazeta Shqiptare" reported. Demi told the daily that the bombing "was not an act of personal revenge," and he linked the attack to the local elections. Former Deputy Interior Minister Ndre Legisi told "Koha Jone" that the Socialist leadership had planned to celebrate the election victory in the restaurant. Tirana's police chief Fadil Canaj declined to comment on the blast, but said it was "clearly of a terrorist nature." FS HUNGARIAN UNIVERSITY STILL CAUSING TENSIONS IN ROMANIAN COALITION... Bela Marko, chairman of the Hungarian Democratic Federation of Romania (UDMR), said on 22 June that the ruling coalition has "to make up its mind whether it wants the UDMR in the coalition or out of it." Marko was responding to a declaration made the same day by National Peasant Party Christian Democratic chairman Ion Diaconescu. That declaration supported Education Minister Andrei Marga's position that a "multicultural" university, rather than a Hungarian-language university, is the solution to university-level education of the minorities. Diaconescu also supported Marga's position that a separate Hungarian- language state university might become a "source of inter- ethnic conflict resembling that in the former Yugoslavia." He added that the task of the commission set up earlier this month was to examine not "ways of setting up a Hungarian- language university, but whether this was opportune," RFE/RL's Bucharest bureau reported. MS ...AS ETHNIC HUNGARIANS PRESENT ULTIMATUM. The UDMR Council of Representatives on 20 June announced it will quit the coalition if the government does not set up by 15 July the commission to examine ways of setting up the Hungarian university. The council also said the ruling coalition must officially declare its intention to set up the university by 31 July and the parliament must amend the education law by 30 September, Romanian state radio reported. In other news, the Bucharest Municipal Tribunal on 19 June rejected the registration of Gheorghe Funar's formation under the name of Romanian Unity Alliance (AUR). The Party of Romanian National Unity (PUNR), whose former chairman Funar is, appealed against the registration because AUR was the name of a PUNR-Republican Party alliance in the 1990 elections. MS ROMANIA URGES RUSSIAN WITHDRAWAL FROM MOLDOVA. A motion submitted to the Council of Europe Parliamentary Assembly in Strasbourg urges Moscow to fulfill its obligation to withdraw its troops from Moldova. The motion was filed on 22 June by former Romanian Foreign Minister Adrian Nastase and Vasile Nedelciuc, a member of the Moldovan parliament, Romanian Radio reported. State Duma deputy speaker Aleksandr Shokhin told journalists that Russia intends to fulfill its obligations on joining the council but "does not consider it opportune" to discuss the matter during the council's current debate on the issue. Shokhin later told BASA-press that he does not believe the Duma will approve the withdrawal and said that Russian troops in the Transdniester ensure that there are no more clashes in the region. MS ZHIRINOVSKY ALLY DIES FROM SHOT WOUNDS. Aleksandr Saidakov, the Transdniester representative of Vladimir Zhirinovsky's ultra-nationalist Liberal Democratic Party of Russia, died in a Chisinau clinic on 22 June from the wounds sustained in the recent assassination attempt in Tiraspol (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 16 June 1998), ITAR-TASS reported In other news, the All-Russian Cossack Union convened a congress in Tiraspol on 20 June and called on Russia and Belarus to help the Transdniester join their union as an associate member, Infotag reported on 22 June. The assembly also demanded to maintain Russia's military presence in the region. MS 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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