|Change is always powerful. Let your hook be always cast. In the pool where you least expect it, will be a fish. - Ovid|
RFE/RL NEWSLINE Vol. 2, No. 128 Part II, 7 July 1998
___________________________________________________________ RFE/RL NEWSLINE Vol. 2, No. 128 Part II, 7 July 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 * U.S. ACCUSES BELARUS OF FURTHER VIOLATING VIENNA CONVENTION * TIRANA SAYS YUGOSLAV SOLDIERS ENTERED ALBANIA * SHUTTLE DIPLOMACY WITHOUT RESULTS End Note: WHEN COMMERCE AND CULTURE CONFLICT xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx EAST-CENTRAL EUROPE U.S. ACCUSES BELARUS OF FURTHER VIOLATING VIENNA CONVENTION. The U.S. on 6 July protested the removal of a fence around the residence of the U.S. ambassador at Drazdy, near Minsk, as well as the presence of a Belarusian official on the property. The official was reportedly seen walking in the grounds of the residence. State Department spokesman James Rubin called those acts an "assault" on the Vienna Convention on diplomatic relations and demanded that the Belarusian authorities put back the fence and remove its representatives from the property. "If that doesn't happen, we'll obviously consider next steps," Reuters quoted Rubin as saying. JM IMF RECALLS REPRESENTATIVE FROM BELARUS. Richard Haas, IMF resident representative in Belarus, left Minsk on 5 July after failing during his 18-month stay in Belarus to persuade the government to introduce market reforms. "When the Belarus government changes its policy, the IMF will return to Minsk to support it," he told Reuters. Belarus will now come under the jurisdiction of the IMF's office in Lithuania. JM OSCE RECONFIRMS OFFICIAL STATUS OF SUPREME SOVIET. The OSCE Parliamentary Assembly, meeting in Copenhagen on 7 July, reconfirmed that the 13th Belarusian Supreme Soviet is the legislature officially recognized by the OSCE, RFE/RL's Belarusian Service reported. The Supreme Soviet was dissolved by President Lukashenka following the controversial November 1996 referendum but is still recognized by most international organizations as Belarus's legitimate parliament. The Copenhagen meeting is being attended by two Belarusian delegations: one from the Supreme Soviet and the other from the National Assembly, created by Lukashenka after the 1996 referendum. JM BELARUS CELEBRATES NATIONAL HOLIDAY WITH SOVIET-STYLE PARADE. A military parade to celebrate Independence Day took place in Minsk on 3 July. Belarusian Television reported that more than 4,000 troops participated in the parade, along with missile launchers and anti-aircraft systems. They were followed by a column of athletes and rows of tractors and trucks. President Alyaksandr Lukashenka addressed the crowd, saying that in the international arena, Belarus is currently experiencing the "practice of double standards, the striving for 'diktat,' muscle-flexing, and the strategy of unjustified economic sanctions and blockades." He stressed that "nobody has been allowed to speak with us from a position of strength, in the language of blackmail and threats." JM UKRAINE RAISES INTEREST RATE TO 82 PERCENT. The Ukrainian National Bank on 6 July announced that it will raise its key interest rate from 51 percent to 82 percent beginning from 7 July, ITAR-TASS reported. The hike is widely seen as a measure to support the Ukrainian currency, the hryvnya, the exchange rate for which has been recently falling owing to growing mistrust among foreign investors of Ukraine's financial markets. JM ESTONIAN DEFENSE MINISTER BACK FROM CHINA. Following a week's visit to the People's Republic of China, Andrus Oovel told reporters in Tallinn on 6 July that Estonia may buy Chinese-made air and anti-tank defense systems, ETA reported. Oovel met with Chinese defense officials to discuss, among others, security issues, NATO, and military cooperation between the U.S. and China. No agreements were signed during his visit. JC LATVIAN PRESIDENT DISCUSSES REFERENDUM ON CITIZENSHIP LAW AMENDMENTS. Guntis Ulmanis told national radio on 6 July that the results of the campaign to collect signatures supporting a referendum on the citizenship law amendments will depend on how well those amendments are explained to the population, BNS reported. Asked if such a referendum were necessary, Ulmanis answered that democracy is a "good thing" that allows a dialogue between state structures and the people. He urged politicians to talk more about the "essence" of the issue, including "the Latvian language and opportunities for studying it," rather than trading swipes among themselves. He added that he believes it is time for Latvians to make a "decision on our own as to how we should move forward." Also on 6 July, the Central Electoral Committee announced that signatures in support of the referendum will also be collected among the 32,000 or so Latvian citizens living abroad. JC POLISH GOVERNMENT SUFFERS SETBACK OVER ADMINISTRATIVE REFORM. The ruling coalition on 3 July failed to override the presidential veto of the government-proposed bill to reduce the number of provinces from 49 to 15 (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 3 July 1998). The ruling coalition was 16 votes short of the three-fifths majority necessary to push through the vetoed legislation. The plan intended to consolidate Poland's administrative system, bringing it into line with EU territorial division standards. Coalition politicians are now urgently negotiating a compromise plan with the opposition Democratic Left Alliance (SLD) in order to pass a new administrative division bill before the summer recess. According to the 7 July "Zycie Warszawy," the coalition has proposed either 10 or 12 new provinces, while the SLD supports its former proposal of 17. JM POLISH PARLIAMENT REBUKES GERMAN CALL FOR RESETTLEMENT RIGHT. The Sejm on 3 July passed a resolution strongly criticizing the German parliament's call in late May to grant German post-war expellees the right to resettle in Poland and the Czech Republic. The Sejm resolution says the Bundestag's call "does not help the nicely developing cooperation between Poland and Germany," dpa reported. Referring to demands by Germany's expellees to get back their homes and farms confiscated by the communist authorities, the Sejm resolution says that "our participation in the [European] Union must require the inviolability of Poland's borders, confirmed by all our neighbors, and of Polish property rights." JM MINORITY CZECH SOCIALIST GOVERNMENT IN OFFING? The leaders of the Social Democratic Party (CSSD) and the Civic Democratic Part (ODS), Milos Zeman and Vaclav Klaus, on 3 July agreed to begin negotiations on a CSSD minority government that would be tolerated by the ODS. Zeman told journalists that the agreement could lead to a change in the electoral system by either raising the electoral threshold or by changing the voting system from a proportional to either a majority or a proportional-majority system. Klaus said that "under no circumstances" would the OSD agree to participate in a CSSD-led coalition. MS KLAUS STILL OPEN TO COALITION WITH CHRISTIAN DEMOCRATS, FREEDOM UNION. Also on 3 July, Klaus said his party is not "closing the door" on a coalition with the Christian Democrats (KDU-CSL) and the Freedom Union, but KDU-CSL leader Josef Lux called the ODS conditions for such a coalition (including Klaus as premier and a majority of seats for the ODS in the cabinet) a "dictate." Freedom Union chairman Jan Ruml said both his party and the KDU-CSL are ready to discuss supporting a Klaus-led minority government. Presidential adviser Jiri Pehe said President Vaclav Havel is "not enthusiastic" about the prospect of a "grand coalition," even "an indirect one." But Pehe added that if Zeman is able to "submit sufficient guarantees" of stability for the cabinet, Havel "will not hamper the coalition." MS SLOVAK OPPOSITION MERGES. The Slovak Democratic Coalition (SDK) merged to form a party on 4 July and elected Mikulas Dzurinda of the former Christian Democratic Movement as its chairman, CTK reported. The move was prompted by the amendment to the electoral law, passed by the parliament last month, that requires each member of an electoral alliance to obtain at least 5 percent of the votes. The other parties that belong the new formation, also called the SDK, are the Democratic Union, the Democratic Party, the Social Democratic Party of Slovakia, and the Slovak Green Party. Also on 4 July, Prime Minister Vladimir Meciar accused U.S. Ambassador to Slovakia Ralph Johnson of "gross interference" in Slovak internal affairs for having criticized the amendment to the electoral law, Reuters reported. MS SLOVAK MOCHOVCE PLANT HOOKED UP TO GRID. Austrian Consumer Protection Minister Barbara Prammer on 5 July criticized Slovakia's decision to start up the controversial Mochovce nuclear plant. The previous day, the plant was connected to the national electricity grid and began running at 20 percent of its capacity, supplying about 30 megawatts of electrical power to the network, Reuters, reported citing TASR. MS NEW HUNGARIAN PRIME MINISTER SWORN IN. By a vote of 222 to 119 with eight abstentions, the parliament on 6 July approved the new coalition cabinet's program and elected Viktor Orban, chairman of the Federation of Young Democrats- Hungarian Civic Party, as prime minister. Orban acknowledged that the implementation of the government's program may require more time than initially planned. MSZ SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE TIRANA SAYS YUGOSLAV SOLDIERS ENTERED ALBANIA. A spokesman for the Albanian Interior Ministry said on 6 July that between 20 and 40 armed Yugoslav soldiers penetrated 100 meters into Albanian territory in the mountainous Has district earlier that day, "Koha Jone" reported. He called the incident the most serious border violation since Belgrade launched its crackdown in Kosova in February. The spokesman added that the Foreign Ministry has lodged a formal complaint with the Yugoslav authorities and demanded a meeting to discuss the "provocative" incident. FS MONITORS ARRIVE IN KOSOVA. Ten diplomats accredited in Belgrade visited Serbian-controlled areas in the Drenica region on 6 July. Their trip is the beginning of an international monitoring mission whose members will also visit regions controlled by the Kosova Liberation Army (UCK). Forty foreign military experts and 25 EU monitors will arrive in Kosova soon, the "Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung" reported on 7 July. The EU representatives will be based in Prishtina, Peja, Mitrovica, and Prizren. All monitors will travel in pairs and have orders not to take unnecessary risks or to undertake missions without the approval of both the Serbian and Kosovar authorities. The observers will be able to report on what they see but have no authority to intervene. PM SHUTTLE DIPLOMACY WITHOUT RESULTS. U.S. Ambassador to the UN Richard Holbrooke and Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Nikolai Afanasevskii shuttled together between Belgrade and Prishtina from 4 to 6 July to discuss the situation in Kosova with the Yugoslav and Kosovar leaderships, respectively. In Prishtina on 5 July, Holbrooke said the two diplomats made little progress in persuading the Kosovar factions "to get their act together" and speak with one voice. The next day, Afanasevskii noted in Belgrade that the failure of the Kosovars to adopt a unified position among themselves on the future of the province is hindering progress toward a negotiated settlement, RFE/RL's South Slavic Service reported. Holbrooke added that diplomatic efforts aimed at ending the crisis will continue as part of what he called an ongoing process. PM HILL SETS DEADLINE FOR KOSOVA. U.S. Ambassador to Macedonia Christopher Hill said in Ohrid on 6 July that there is no way that Kosova "can shoot its way out of Serbia, but Belgrade cannot maintain...the status quo" either. Hill stressed that the crisis must be ended within the next 14 days, RFE/RL's South Slavic Service reported. He did not specify what will happen if it does not. Hill added that the UCK enjoys widespread support from the population of Kosova and cannot be considered "a group of extremists." In Skopje, a spokesman for the Defense Ministry said two smugglers were wounded the previous day in separate attempts to bring in arms and ammunition from Albania, which were destined for Kosova. In New York, UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan said in a report on 6 July that Kosova has become "a key issue for the overall stability of the Balkan region." He warned that the fighting could spill over the province's frontiers if it does not stop soon. PM BOSNIAN-TYPE DESTRUCTION IN KOSOVA. U.S. special envoy Robert Gelbard, speaking in Banja Luka on 6 July, urged Bosnian Serbs not to become involved in the fighting in Kosova. He expressed concern about unspecified reports that some Bosnian Serbs are preparing to volunteer to fight on the Yugoslav side. In Geneva on 3 July, a UN spokesman charged that Serbian paramilitaries have been systematically destroying Kosovar villages recently according to a pattern established during the Bosnian war of 1992-1995. The spokesman said that paramilitaries plunder a village, transport away any valuables that can be moved, kill the livestock, and set fire to the houses. He added that the existence of the pattern has been confirmed by the accounts of numerous refugees and foreign journalists, the Prague daily "Mlada fronta Dnes" reported. PM MINISTER CALLS KOSOVAR WOMEN 'CHILD-BEARING MACHINES.' Outspoken Serbian Family Affairs Minister Rada Trajkovic said in Belgrade on 6 July that the Kosovar birth rate, which is the highest in Europe, is a "demographic bomb" for Serbia. She added that Kosovar men often practice bigamy and have up to three wives. Kosovar women, she continued, are "child-bearing machines" who have no rights and cannot speak without their husbands' permission. Trajkovic argued that the women have so many children that they cannot keep track of the children's illnesses or even of their names, Tanjug reported. She said that her views are the result of her experience working as a doctor in Prishtina. PM BOSNIAN GENOCIDE TRIAL OPENS. The trial of Milan Kovacevic, a Bosnian Serb, opened at the war crimes tribunal in The Hague on 6 July. Kovacevic is charged with genocide in connection with his activities at the Omarska, Keraterm and Trnopolje concentration camps in the Prijedor area in 1992. It is the first trial for genocide to begin at the tribunal. Meanwhile in Zagreb, Ephraim Zuroff of the Vienna-based Simon Wiesenthal Center gave Foreign Minister Mate Granic and Deputy Justice Minister Snjezana Bagic documents related to the cases of Dinko Sakic and his wife, alleged to have committed crimes against humanity during World War II, Reuters reported (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 26 June 1998). PM ONE DEAD IN SOCCER-RELATED VIOLENCE. A young Muslim woman in Mostar was killed by a stray bullet fired during celebrations following Croatia's World Cup quarter-final victory in Lyon on 4 July. An elderly Muslim man was injured when he was hit in the head by a bullet, and some 200 people in nearby Stolac attacked the home of a recently returned Muslim refugee. Martin Garrod, who is the international community's local representative in Mostar, condemned what he called "criminal behavior" and demanded an end to the frequent use of firearms in Herzegovina. PM ALBANIAN PROSECUTORS LAUNCH PROBE INTO CUSTOMS EVASION. Prosecutor-General Farudin Arapi on 6 July launched an investigation into some 60 cases of alleged customs evasion, "Koha Jone" reported. Among the 90 people under investigation is Director-General of Customs Gezim Bleta, Arapi's spokesman said. The probe follows a recent report by President Rexhep Meidani's office saying that the government has already lost some $80 million in customs revenues in 1998 alone owing to evasion (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 25 June 1998). FS NO INFORMERS IN ROMANIAN GOVERNMENT, DEFENSE COUNCIL. Prime Minister Radu Vasile on 6 July said all ministers have submitted written declarations saying that they had no links with the former Securitate. The only exception is Finance Minister Daniel Daianu, who admitted a few years ago to have worked for the Securitate's Foreign Intelligence Directorate, from which he resigned. President Emil Constantinescu on the same day said the investigation requested by the Supreme Defense Council shows none of its members worked for the former secret police. In other news, the Hungarian Democratic Federation of Romania on 3 July elected Senator Hajdu Gabor to replace Francis Baranyi as health minister. Premier Vasile has approved Gabor's appointment. Baranyi resigned after admitting he was forced to sign a pledge to act as a Securitate informer. He stressed, however, that he never informed on anyone. MS ROMANIAN LIBERALS MERGE AGAIN. The National Council of the governing National Liberal Party (PNL) on 4 July approved the formation's merger with the Liberal Party. Liberal Party leaders Dinu Patriciu and Horia Rusu are to be PNL deputy chairmen. The Liberal Party recently split, and the wing led by Nicolae Cerveni has set up the Liberal Federation, together with other fringe liberal formations. The PNL council also recommended that the constitution be amended to replace the present proportional electoral system with a majority system. It also wants to raise the electoral threshold from 3 percent to 5 percent, establish different functions for the Senate from those of the Chamber of Deputies, and allow for parliamentary immunity to be lifted by a vote of 51 percent instead of 66 percent at present. MS ETHNIC BULGARIAN KIDNAPPED IN KOSOVA. Foreign Ministry spokesman Radko Vlaikov told BTA on 4 July that Bulgaria is concerned about the fate of Stamen Genov, an ethnic Bulgarian from Bosilegrad who was taken hostage, along with three Serbs, by the Kosova Liberation Army on 2 July. Vlaikov said that Genov is a military doctor at a hospital in Djakovica in Kosova. He added that Bulgaria has contacted the International Red Cross, the OSCE, and the UN High Commissioner for Refugees to ask for help in tracing Genov. In other news, representatives of CEFTA countries attending a conference in Prague on 3 July announced those states will sign an agreement on Bulgaria's accession "as soon as possible," Hungary's MTI agency reported. MS END NOTE WHEN COMMERCE AND CULTURE CONFLICT by Paul Goble Expanded international trade brings many benefits to everyone involved, but its impact on national cultures is more complicated, benefiting some and undermining others. Trade can benefit national cultures in three ways. It can give a country the resources necessary to defend its own cultural traditions. It can extend the cultural influence of the exporting country across the world. And it can open the culture of the importer to new possibilities. But trade can also threaten national cultures as well. It can promote an international culture that may overwhelm national ones. It can undermine efforts by national elites to promote national loyalty. And it can exacerbate tensions in culturally divided countries. Not surprisingly, those who feel their cultures threatened often look for ways to limit the impact of international trade on their traditions, while those who benefit from such commerce tend to view any discussion of culture as an unwarranted effort to limit free trade. This debate broke out again last week at a meeting of 19 countries in the Canadian capital of Ottawa. Cultural officials from the Americas and Europe explored ways to limit the cultural impact of trade on their societies. They suggested that countries must have some ability to limit trade in those areas, such as film and television, that directly threaten their national cultures by holding up powerful alternative models from abroad. No representative from the U.S. was initially invited to the meeting, however. The Canadian organizers said they did not do so because the U.S. does not have a cultural minister. But under pressure from U.S. officials, they later backed down and allowed the U.S. embassy to send observers. The real reason for the initial decision, one that not all participants supported, appears to be long-standing Canadian concern that U.S. culture is overwhelming its Canadian counterpart through television broadcasts, book publishing, and Canadian imports of many U.S. products. In the past, Canadians have adopted measures to increase Canadian content in the media and thus to restrict U.S. content. The U.S., for its part, has denounced those measures as violating international agreements on free trade. Most of the media coverage of the Ottawa meeting implied that the dispute between Canada and the U.S. was either unique or simply part of a more generalized concern in many countries about the "Americanization" of their popular cultures.. And it suggested that Canada was engaging in a somewhat silly and inevitably hopeless defense against the inevitable. But the Ottawa meeting, which is scheduled to be followed by sessions in Mexico City and Athens, draws attention to a much more widespread problem, one familiar to many smaller countries living next to a larger one. One region where this problem threatens to break out in an even more dramatic fashion is in the countries of the former Soviet space, between the Russian Federation and its much smaller neighbors. And because of three specific features of this region, the conflict there could be even more intense than the one highlighted at the Ottawa meeting. First, by virtue of its size and economic possibilities, the Russian Federation is likely to loom even larger in the lives of the peoples of the former Soviet republics than does the U.S. in the lives of Canadians. Second, because of their past experience with Moscow's rule and because of their desire to strengthen their own national identities, the non-Russians are likely to be even more sensitive to the impact of Russian culture on their own national cultures. And third, because of the unique pattern of language knowledge in the non-Russian countries, they are likely to see the impact of trade on culture as particularly threatening. Many observers describe the non-Russian countries as bilingual, but that is simply not true, at least in the sense that is usually meant. In most of those states, the non-Russians speak their own language as well as Russian, while most ethnic Russians there speak only Russian. As a result, expanded trade with its attendant cultural influence may tend to solidify the cultural and political divisions in these societies rather than help overcome them. And that in turn is likely to have a profound impact on the policies of the non-Russian governments. To the extent that they seek to restrict the cultural impact of trade with Russia, these countries may have to give up some economic advantages and some political support from other large countries that are suspicious of any cultural arguments. But to the extent that they do not seek to take such measures, they may find themselves in a position like the Canadians and others where their national cultures will be transformed beyond recognition and beyond their control. 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 of the message. HOW TO UNSUBSCRIBE Send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org with the word unsubscribe as the subject of the message. 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