|Comedy is an escape, not from truth but from despair; a narrow escape into faith. - Christopher Fry|
RFE/RL NEWSLINE Vol. 2, No. 123 Part II, 29 June 1998
___________________________________________________________ RFE/RL NEWSLINE Vol. 2, No. 123 Part II, 29 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 * BELARUSIAN DIPLOMATIC ROW CONTINUES * HOLBROOKE SAYS WAR IS NEAR * U.S. MEETS WITH REBEL KOSOVAR LEADERS xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx EAST-CENTRAL EUROPE BELARUSIAN DIPLOMATIC ROW CONTINUES. The Russian Foreign Ministry on 26 June said that actions of the Belarusian authorities against diplomats in Minsk were "undiplomatic," but its spokesman indicated that Moscow still hoped for "a balanced approach" in resolving the dispute, ITAR-TASS reported. Meanwhile, four more countries have recalled their ambassadors from the Belarusian capital, bringing the total who have left in the dispute over control of diplomatic property to 11. Belarusian President Alyaksandr Lukashenka, however, remained unrepentant. Appearing at the Crans Montana meeting in Switzerland, he said that the ambassadors could return once they got permission from Minsk. He also commented that "everybody is accusing Belarus of every possible sin. But in Belarus, we are civilized. No one is shooting at each other. We have a lot of foreign investment, we have McDonald's and Coca Cola too." PG NATO MAY OPEN MILITARY MISSION IN UKRAINE. A NATO senior official said in Kyiv on 26 June that the Western alliance may open a liaison mission in the Ukrainian capital later this year, Interfax reported. Klaus Kleiber, an aide to NATO Secretary-General Javier Solana, said his boss will discuss that possibility during a 8-9 July visit to Ukraine. On 26- 27 June in Crimea, Kleiber stressed the importance of developing good relations between Ukraine and that region, ITAR-TASS reported on 28 June. Those ties may improve following a meeting in Kyiv on 26 June at which approximately half of the 26 countries represented pledged some $5 million to help resettle the Crimean Tatars, Interfax reported. Kyiv has sought $13.8 million to help this group, which was deported from the region by Stalin in 1944. PG UKRAINIAN MINERS DEMONSTRATE; KYIV DISMISSES OFFICIALS. Some 250 striking miners blocked streets in Kyiv on 26 June to protest wage arrears, Ukrainian and Western agencies reported. The leaders of the action said it was "a gesture of despair." In response to the mounting wave of job actions in the mining sector, President Leonid Kuchma dismissed four deputy coal industry ministers and named former union leader Viktor Derzhak as head of the state coal concern, Interfax reported. PG YELTSIN'S VISIT TO UKRAINE POSTPONED. Boris Yeltsin's press spokesman Sergei Yastrzhembskii said on 26 June that the Russian president will not meet with his Ukrainian counterpart, Leonid Kuchma, in Crimea in July, Interfax reported. The informal meeting had originally been scheduled for June. It was postponed until July during the recent Russian economic crisis. But Yastrzhembskii did not give a reason for this delay or announce a new date. On 25 June, the Kremlin announced that Yeltsin will delay a planned trip to Kazakhstan in July to an unspecified date in September in order not to be away from Russia for several days during the continuing economic difficulties. "Nezavisimaya gazeta" argued on 27 June that the postponement of Yeltsin's visits to Ukraine and Kazakhstan--where he was to have met with the leaders of that country, China, Kyrgyzstan, and Tajikistan-- "will further weaken Russia's influence in the CIS." PG/LB RUSSIAN CITIZENS' LEAGUE REGISTERED IN ESTONIA. The Russian Citizens' League has become the first organization of its kind to be registered in Estonia, BNS reported on 25 June. The league was set up in early March after leading members had split from the unofficial Tallinn Union of Russian Citizens. The chairman of the new organization, Vladimir Lebedev, told BNS that league is "apolitical as required under the Estonian law, and we plan to act only in a legal way." He added that "there are many very important fields where we can be active, such as the social, economic, and humanitarian fields." JC LATVIAN DEPUTIES DEMAND DELAY IN PUBLISHING AMENDED CITIZENSHIP LAW. Thirty-eight parliamentary deputies have submitted to President Guntis Ulmanis a document demanding that publication of the recently passed amendments to the citizenship law be delayed for two months, BNS reported on 26 June. During that period, the deputies will seek to collect the signatures of least one-tenth of eligible voters (some 95,500 people) in support of a popular referendum on the amendments. If the campaign to collect the required amount of signatures fails, the law will be published. JC LITHUANIAN PARLIAMENT PASSES LUSTRATION LAW. Lawmakers on 25 June passed a law banning former KGB agents from holding positions in government and state bodies for 10 years following the passage of the new legislation, ELTA reported. The law, which was initiated by parliamentary speaker Vytautas Landbergis, also recommends that such persons not be allowed to work as lawyers or in key industries, private security companies, or the communications sector. The law does not apply to those who left the KGB before 12 March 1990. The only previous attempt to pass a lustration law failed in late 1991 when the author of the bill was himself identified by the press as a former KGB agent. JC LILEIKIS TRIAL TO BEGIN IN SEPTEMBER. A Vilnius judge has set 1 September as the start of the trial of suspected war criminal Aleksandras Lileikis, 91, BNS and Reuters reported on 26 June. Lileikis, who is currently bed-ridden owing to ill health, is accused of having sent scores of Jews to death camps when he was head of the Vilnius security police during World War II. He was charged earlier this year, but his trial was postponed to allow testimony to be gathered from two more witnesses, one of whom says Lileikis saved her life. The Simon Wiesenthal Center has strongly criticized the delay in starting the trial, saying it is "outrageous...[and] does not reflect well on the will of Lithuania to prosecute its countrymen who collaborated with the Nazis." JC SOLIDARITY OPPOSES NEW LEFTIST TV HEAD IN POLAND. Members of the Solidarity-led governing coalition have said they will seek to overturn a decision by the state television board to name a former Communist as its head, PAP reported on 26 June. The board, whose members were selected by the previous left-of-center government, chose ex-Communist Robert Kwiatkowski shortly before their terms expired. PG SOCIALIST-LED COALITION BECOMES UNLIKELY IN CZECH REPUBLIC. Freedom Union leader Jan Ruml on 27 June said his party is ready to form a coalition with Vaclav Klaus's Civic Democratic Party (ODS) and with the Christian Democratic Party (KDU-CSL), provided that no formation has a majority in the government, CTK reported. But Ruml's deputy, Vladimir Mlynar, said on Nova TV on 28 June that he "would not raise his hand" for a cabinet that "would be a replica of the previous government of Vaclav Klaus." Mlynar added that he hopes the "political style" of the previous coalition will change, so as to make it possible for the union to join it. Social Democratic Party (CSSD) leader Milos Zeman one day earlier called on other formations to "tolerate" a minority government formed by the CSSD and the KDU-CSL. MS HAVEL ON COALITION PROSPECTS. President Vaclav Havel on 27 June said he is "no great fan" of a "grand coalition" of the CSSD and the ODS and would rather endorse a center-right coalition, provided it "changed its methods of ruling." Havel said he does not consider a coalition relying on Communist support as "the best solution" but cannot rule it out either. ODS deputy chairman Miroslav Macek on 28 June said he believes it "would suit President Havel very much" if both Zeman and Klaus failed to form a coalition. Macek said that in such a case Havel would be able to "get fully involved in the process" and appoint a government made up of people close to him, CTK reported. MS SLOVAK-HUNGARIAN TENSIONS OVER BILATERAL TREATY. Foreign Ministry spokesman Milan Tokar on 26 June told TASR that Hungarian worries about Slovak non-fulfillment of obligations assumed in the bilateral treaty between the two countries are "misplaced." He was reacting to a statement made one day earlier by Hungarian Foreign Minister-designate Janos Martonyi, who said Hungary must "make clear to Slovakia that it must fulfill its international obligations." Tokar said Martonyi would be "better counseled" to ensure that Hungary fulfills its international obligations, pointing to the verdict of the International Court of Justice in the Hague on the Gabcikovo-Nagymaros dispute and Hungary's failure to pass legislation allowing minority representatives to have seats in the parliament. MS SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE HOLBROOKE SAYS WAR IS NEAR... U.S. envoy Richard Holbrooke said on 27 June that the situation in Kosova is "only a few steps away from a general war," an RFE/RL correspondent in Crans-Montana reported. Holbrooke, speaking at the Crans- Montana forum in Switzerland, said an observer mission made up of diplomats would be arriving in Kosova "as quickly as possible." Holbrooke said the U.S. lays the blame for the "tragedy" in Kosova on Belgrade and said a change in Kosova's status is essential to resolving the conflict. PB ...AS YUGOSLAV PREMIER WALKS OUT OF CONFERENCE. Momir Bulatovic left the Crans-Montana economic forum on 28 June after a session on security in Europe was abruptly canceled, Reuters reported. The session was to include Holbrooke and Albanian Prime Minister Fatos Nano. Nano refused to attend the session, saying it was pointless "because they continue to massacre the civilians." A Yugoslav Foreign Ministry official called the incident "scandalous." PB U.S. MEETS WITH REBEL KOSOVAR LEADERS. Holbrooke on 28 June said that Washington has held its first official talks with leaders of the Kosova Liberation Army (UCK), Reuters reported. Holbrooke said that Robert Gelbard met with UCK officials on 26 June at an undisclosed location. He added that ethnic Albanian leader Ibrahim Rugova was told of the meeting and supported it. Holbrooke said talks with UCK leaders will continue if those officials prove they have control over their own military forces. In Belgrade, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Nikolai Afanasievskii said after meeting with Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic that the Yugoslav president has kept "all of the promises" he had made to Russian President Boris Yeltsin in Moscow last week. PB ALBANIAN PREMIER CLARIFIES POSITION ON KOSOVA. Nano said in Crans Montana on 26 June that he does not support independence for Serbia's Kosova province but added that it should be given the status of a republic within Yugoslavia, an RFE/RL correspondent reported. Nano called on Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic to withdraw his forces from Kosova and on the Kosova Liberation Army to halt its armed uprising. Nano said that Kosova shadow state President Ibrahim Rugova "is a figure without real authority" and that "the UCK should understand that behaving like civilians is the best solution." He called for NATO air strikes against Serbian military targets but said that a UN mandate would be a precondition for such a step. FS ITALY, GREECE, GERMANY, ANNAN WANT UN MANDATE FOR NATO ACTION. Italian and Greek Prime Ministers Romano Prodi and Kostas Simitis, meeting on Corfu on 28 June, said that they want a UN mandate as a precondition for NATO action in the federal Yugoslavia. UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan and German Foreign Minister Klaus Kinkel, who met in London on 28 June, expressed the same view. Annan said military action without the mandate would constitute a "dangerous precedent." Meanwhile, the international community's high representative to Bosnia-Herzegovina, Carlos Westendorp, has rejected a proposal by Bosnian co-Premier Haris Silajdzic to allow NATO to use bases there for air strikes against Yugoslavia, RFE/RL's South Slavic Service reported on 26 June. FS FIGHTING CONTINUES IN KOSOVA. Heavy fighting was reported between ethnic Albanians and Serbian police around the village of Pantina, in central Kosova, dpa reported on 27 June. Belgrade Radio reported that UCK forces captured the town the previous day. No casualty figures are available. Armed ethnic Albanian forces are also reported to be maintaining a cordon around the predominantly Serbian village of Kijeva, between Prishtina and Peja. Serbian forces, in turn, have encircled the Albanian forces and are attacking them with Yugoslav army helicopters, RFE/RL's South Slavic Service reported. The village has about 200 Serbian inhabitants. There were also numerous reports of clashes along the Kosova border with Albania and along roads leading to Prishtina. PB/FS UNHCR ALLOWED INTO KOSOVA. The UN High Commissioner for Refugees, Sadako Ogata, said that UNHCR and UN World Food Program aid teams were allowed into Kosova for the first time on 25 June, Reuters reported. Ogata said they were able to bring food to some 600 refugees in the village of Junik. She said the refugees, mainly women and children, are in "pretty bad physical shape" and are living in makeshift shelters. PB MACEDONIA PROTESTS YUGOSLAV AIR INCURSIONS. The Macedonian Defense Ministry on 26 June sent a letter of protest to the Yugoslav embassy in Skopje over violations of its airspace by Yugoslav fighter planes, AFP reported. A Defense Ministry spokesman said two Yugoslav MiG-21s flew over Macedonia on 19 and 23 June. He called the flights intentional and provocative. PB WAR CRIMES SUSPECT FOUND DEAD AT HAGUE. Slavko Dokmanovic, a Serb who was awaiting the verdict in his war crimes trial at The Hague, was found hanged in his jail cell on 29 June, AP reported. Dokmanovic was charged with playing a key role in the massacre of some 200 Croats in Vukovar in 1991. PB BOSNIAN CROATS FOUND NEW PARTY. Nearly 200 representatives from all of Bosnia-Herzegovina's cantons have officially formed the New Croatian Initiative, Hina reported on 27 June. Most of the party founders are former members of the Croatian Democratic Community in Bosnia-Herzegovina (HDZ- BH). Kresimir Zubak, the Croatian member of the Bosnian presidency and the leader of the New Croatian Initiative, said the party has a "Christian Democratic orientation." Zubak complained that the HDZ-BH was favoring the interests of Croats from Herzegovina over those of Croats from other parts of Bosnia who want to live peacefully with Muslims and Serbs. He added that the Herzegovinian Croats of the HDZ-BH still support separation, RFE/RL's South Slavic Service reported. FS BALKAN DEFENSE MINISTERS AGREE TO CREATE MULTINATIONAL FORCE. The Defense Ministers of Italy, Turkey, Greece, Bulgaria, Romania, Macedonia and Albania agreed on 26 June in Athens to create a multinational force. They scheduled a meeting for the fall in Skopje to draw up a document establishing such a force, RFE/RL's South Slavic Service reported. FS CROATIAN PARLIAMENT APPROVES GOVERNMENT PLAN FOR REFUGEE RETURN. The Croatian government on 26 June approved a government plan providing for the return of Serbian refugees and other displaced persons. Zagreb has been under pressure from the international community to allow the return of Serbs. The plan was crafted with the help of Western envoys. Foreign Minister Mate Granic said legislators helped the government make "a great step toward the EU and Western integration," RFE/RL's South Slavic Service reported. The law provides for the unconditional return of those displaced by Croatia's battles against rebel Serbs from 1991-1995. FS ROMANIA'S HUNGARIAN ALLIANCE TO REMAIN IN RULING COALITION. The Council of Representatives of the Hungarian Democratic Federation of Romania (UDMR), meeting in Cluj on 27-28 June, voted against a proposal to leave the ruling coalition now. At the same time, the council set a timetable for the government and the parliament to approve legislation meeting the demands of the UDMR, saying the executive must take "concrete measures" to set up a Hungarian-language state university and the parliament must approve the regulation amending the education law by 31 October, an RFE/RL correspondent in Cluj reported. MS TOKES REJECTS ALLEGATION OF COLLABORATION WITH SECURITATE. At the same meeting, the council decided to set up a special commission to examine how to tackle allegations that UDMR leaders collaborated with the Securitate. Responding to the publication last week in "Adevarul" alleging he was a collaborator, honorary chairman Laszlo Tokes did not deny the authenticity of a document he signed pledging to inform if "national security" were at stake. He stressed, however, that he was forced to sign that document and never acted as an informer. He added that the latest public revelations were orchestrated by Romanian Intelligence Service employees who were seeking to retain control over the files and trying to discredit genuine former dissidents. On 26 June, the military branch of the Prosecutor-General's Office announced it has opened an investigation against a SRI employee who leaked to the press the document that attested to former Health Minister Francis Baranyi's links with the Securitate. MS MOLDOVA TO PRIVATIZE ENERGY SECTOR. The parliament on 25 June approved a "Concept for Privatizing Enterprises in the Energy Sector," RFE/RL's Chisinau Bureau reported. The document stipulates that the majority share in three power plants and five energy distribution companies is to be offered to foreign investors in an international tender. Deputy Prime Minister Ion Sturdza said the privatized companies' debts will be covered by the state budget. He said the energy sector is in need of urgent investments totaling some $700 million and that the state budget "simply cannot cover that huge amount." 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 of the message. HOW TO UNSUBSCRIBE Send an email to email@example.com with the word unsubscribe as the subject of the message. 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