|The only certainty is that nothing is certain. - Pliny the Elder|
RFE/RL NEWSLINE Vol. 2, No. 130 Part II, 9 July 1998
___________________________________________________________ RFE/RL NEWSLINE Vol. 2, No. 130 Part II, 9 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 * BELARUS BACKS DOWN OVER ULTIMATUM TO CLEAR OUT DRAZDY RESIDENCES * NATO WARSHIPS DOCK AT DURRES * CONTACT GROUP ADOPTS KOSOVA PACKAGE End Note: SECURITY ISSUES FOR MACEDONIA xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx EAST-CENTRAL EUROPE BELARUS BACKS DOWN OVER ULTIMATUM TO CLEAR OUT DRAZDY RESIDENCES. The Belarusian Foreign Ministry has backed down on its ultimatum to the U.S. and other countries to clear out the residences of their ambassadors in the Drazdy compound, near Minsk (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 8 July 1998), RFE/RL Belarusian Service reported. A Foreign Ministry spokesman said the embassies will be asked to move furnishings "whenever the need arises, when we'll need to carry out repairs in this or that residence." U.S. State Department spokesman James Rubin commented that "this is obviously a step in the right direction, but it's only the first in many, many steps that need to take place if we're going to go back to where we should be." A Russian Foreign Ministry spokesman said Moscow "positively assesses" Minsk's move, ITAR-TASS reported. JM WORLD BANK RECALLS REPRESENTATIVE FROM BELARUS. David Phillips, the World Bank's representative in Belarus, has been recalled from Minsk owing to the Belarusian government's failure to fulfill mutual agreements, Reuters reported on 8 July. "If agreements have been signed and are not fulfilled, we have to abandon Belarus," Phillips commented. The World Bank granted Belarus a $170 million loan and a $10 million grant to support economic reform in 1993-1995. In a memorandum signed last year, Belarus pledged to take specific steps toward liberalizing the economy, but this year the government has further tightened controls over foreign exchange and prices. Phillips said Belarus is five to six years behind its neighbors in terms of economic reforms and needs $1.5 billion in annual investment to effectively compete on world markets. JM NEW SPEAKER OPTIMISTIC ABOUT UKRAINIAN PARLIAMENT'S PROSPECTS. Oleksandr Tkachenko, newly elected speaker of the Ukrainian Supreme Council, told journalists on 8 July that he is optimistic about the parliament's potential and prospects, Ukrainian Television reported. "The current parliament is able to function and it will prove this in practical work," he commented. In his opinion, the parliament's main task is to pass legislation to overcome the economic crisis. He expressed his belief that Ukraine's three branches of power will find "deep state understanding." He added that he believes a parliamentary majority will be formed by September. And he announced that he does not intend to run in the 1999 presidential elections. JM USAID LAUNCHES AID PROGRAM FOR CHORNOBYL CHILD VICTIMS. The United States Agency for International Development has started a new program to help cure child victims of the Chornobyl nuclear disaster in Ukraine, AP reported on 8 July. The three-year, $4 million program will provide Ukraine's health care service with up-to-date methods of early detection of thyroid cancer and the necessary equipment to treat the disease. According to Ukrainian government officials, the number of registered cases of thyroid cancer among children in the areas polluted by radiation exceeds1,000. The aid program will be implemented chiefly in rural areas, where the health care system is underdeveloped. JM TALBOTT IN RIGA. U.S. Deputy Secretary of State Strobe Talbott says that everyone would benefit if Russia would not view the Baltic States as a "zone of its own interests" but as a "gateway" to a new Europe, BNS and Interfax reported. Talbott was speaking in Riga on 8 July, where he attended the first meeting of the U.S.-Baltic Partnership Council, established earlier this year by the Baltic and U.S. presidents. That meeting yielded a communique providing for joint efforts to secure the Baltic States' accession to the World Trade Organization and to promote regional security cooperation that would also include Russia. Latvian Foreign Minister Valdis Birkavs noted that the council's first session was taking place at a "rather significant time," when, he said, the Latvian economy was under "attack" from Moscow. JC POLISH FARMERS PROTEST GRAIN IMPORTS. More than 100 farmers blocked the Polish-German border crossing at Kolbaskowo for two hours on 8 July to protest grain imports and the absence of a government grain procurement program for this year, "Rzeczpospolita" reported. Another 200 farmers emptied 500 tons of Hungarian grain from railroad freight cars at the Polish-Czech border crossing at Zebrzydowice. The farmers are demanding that threshold prices be introduced for imported grain and that such imports be subsequently banned altogether. Agriculture Minister Jacek Janiszewski said the government has already set a minimum price that make grain imports unprofitable but noted that decision has not yet been implemented . JM BALCEROWICZ DENIES BACKING EU AID CUT. Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Leszek Balcerowicz has denied the allegation by the Brussels-based daily "NRC Handelsblad" that he telephoned the European Commission to express support for its decision to cut aid to Poland by 34 million ecus ($37.4 million) (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 3 June 1998). "This is a lie," Balcerowicz told Polish Radio. His comment came after the 8 July "Zycie" had quoted the Dutch-language daily report, according to which a certain Polish minister called to thank Brussels for "the slap in the face that should sober up Warsaw." PAP reported that the European Commission has also denied that Balcerowicz contacted it following the decision to cut aid. JM CSSD, ODS REACH AGREEMENT ON MINORITY GOVERNMENT. The leaders of the Social Democratic Party (CSSD) and the Civic Democratic Party (ODS), Milos Zeman and Vaclav Klaus, told journalists on 8 July that their parties' leaderships have approved the agreement reached one day earlier on a minority cabinet headed by Zeman, CTK reported. Details on the agreement are to be released on 9 July. Zeman said "no constitutional changes" are envisaged and that the agreement stipulates that the ODS will not initiate a non-confidence vote by itself. Klaus called the document an "opposition agreement" and said it contains no time limits. He also said it provides for a "division of constitutional positions" between the CSSD and the ODS. The leader of the Christian Democratic Party, Josef Lux, said the new cabinet will lack stability because "no protectorate has ever been stable." MS HAVEL CALLS SENATE, LOCAL ELECTIONS FOR NOVEMBER. President Vaclav Havel has called elections for the Senate for 13-14 November. The ballot is to be held in those constituencies where mandates expire in the fall, a presidential office spokesman announced on 8 July. Havel set the same date for local elections. MS SLOVAKIA'S DURAY ON NEW HUNGARIAN GOVERNMENT. Miklos Duray, honorary chairman of Slovakia's Hungarian Coalition Party, on 8 July told the Hungarian news agency MTI that he "hopes and believes" that Viktor Orban's government will keep the promise that Orban made on the night of his election victory. He quoted Orban as saying that "although the borders of the Hungarian nation do not coincide with those of the Hungarian state, the next Hungarian government will be one of the whole nation." Duray said this is the "intellectual heritage" of the cabinet headed from 1990-1993 by late Premier Joszef Antall. He added that the new Hungarian government must draft its "policies for the 21st century" to take into account ethnic Hungarians living beyond Hungary's borders. MS NEW HUNGARIAN GOVERNMENT SWORN IN. The 16 ministers of Orban's government took the oath of office on 8 July. Orban said the cabinet gives priority to boosting the economy and improving living standards. In other news, the parliament approved the government's proposal to bring social security under central government control and to nationalize pension and health funds. The opposition protested the planned move, while the largest national trade union federation said it will appeal to the Constitutional Court over the issue. MSZ SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE NATO WARSHIPS DOCK AT DURRES. Warships from Italy, Spain, Greece, and Turkey arrived in Durres on 8 July. Supreme Allied Commander in Europe General Wesley Clark told journalists that the visit is both a demonstration of NATO's determination to help resolve the Kosova conflict and a show of support for the Albanian government. He added that "the visible capacity represented by these ships...demonstrates the alliance's capability to participate in a constructive solution and our resolve to do so." Clark called on all sides in the Kosova conflict to stop the violence and start dialogue. He stressed that "all those who are participating in this conflict have to recognize and take account of NATO's considerable capabilities." He warned that "we are working on a series of plans" and added that "the government of Albania is going to cooperate very, very closely with NATO." FS CONTACT GROUP ADOPTS KOSOVA PACKAGE... High-ranking diplomats from the U.S., U.K., Germany, France, Russia, Italy and Spain agreed in Bonn on 8 July on a package of "basic elements" to defuse the crisis in Kosova. The negotiators said they will keep the text "confidential" and communicate it to the parties involved in the dispute. The "Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung" reported that the document calls on both sides in the conflict to stop fighting and return to the negotiating table. The Contact Group, the German daily continues, urged Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic to keep the promises he made to Russian President Boris Yeltsin in June, including a pledge to withdraw his forces from Kosova (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 17 June 1998). The diplomats called on the UN Security Council to consider passing a resolution that will reflect the Contact Group's decisions. PM ...CALLS FOR BALANCE. The diplomats ruled out independence for Kosova and recommended broad autonomy within Yugoslavia, according to the "Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung." They also agreed in Bonn on 8 July to urge the Kosova Liberation Army (UCK) to lay down its weapons. The negotiators stressed that it is important to cut off the flow of funds to the UCK from abroad, Reuters reported. The Frankfurt daily added that the Contact Group wants talks to begin immediately, even without a cease-fire. The diplomats have moved closer to the Serbian position in this respect because of the growing strength of the UCK, the newspaper noted. German Foreign Minister Klaus Kinkel stressed that "the spiral of violence and counter- violence must stop." PM KINKEL MEETS WITH REFUGEES IN ALBANIA. Following the Bonn meeting, the German foreign minister flew to Tirana, where he discussed the Contact Group's decisions with Prime Minister Fatos Nano and President Rexhep Meidani. Kinkel expressed concern about the prospects for a political solution, saying that time is running out and that radical forces on both sides are gaining strength. He also met with refugees in the northwestern Albanian region of Bajram Curri on 9 July. German relief workers are currently setting up emergency shelters as part of relief efforts for some 13,000 Kosovar refugees there. FS SERBIAN OPPOSITION OUTLINES AUTONOMY PLAN. Vojislav Mihajlovic, who is a deputy speaker of the Serbian parliament and a member of Vuk Draskovic's Serbian Renewal Movement, said in New York on 8 July that Belgrade should grant the Kosovars a four-part autonomy program, AP reported. The plan would give Kosova a high degree of local self rule in municipalities and towns, an autonomous provincial legislature and government, and proportional representation for ethnic Albanians in both the Serbian and federal Yugoslav legislature and government. In Geneva, however, a spokesman for the UCK said the guerrillas remain committed to independence. PM BELGRADE APPROVES PREVLAKA PLAN. The federal Yugoslav government on 8 July endorsed a plan recommended by the Montenegrin authorities to regulate the status of the Montenegrin-Croatian border and of Croatia's Prevlaka peninsula, RFE/RL's South Slavic Service reported. Prevlaka is under UN administration and controls access to Montenegro's Bay of Kotor, where Yugoslavia's only deep- water naval base is located. PM SLOVENE NAMED BOSNIAN MEDIA CHIEF. Carlos Westendorp, who is the international community's chief representative in Bosnia, named Slovenia's Tomaz Petrovic in Sarajevo on 8 July as the "international arbitrator" on the committee that supervises Radio and Television of Bosnia-Herzegovina. The governing body consists of five persons nominated by Alija Izetbegovic, who is the Muslim member of the joint presidency, and five persons selected by his Croatian counterpart, Kresimir Zubak. In Bonn, Dietmar Schlee, who heads the government's refugee return program, dismissed UN criticism of Germany's policy aimed at repatriating refugees. "I do not understand this artificial provocation on the part of some UN people in Sarajevo," he said (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 8 July 1998). PM POWER STRUGGLE IN DUBROVNIK. Jure Buric, who is the chief executive of Croatia's Dubrovnik-Neretva County, dissolved the county legislature on 8 July. He said that the move comes in response to the parliament's failure to nominate a successor to him within the 15 days prescribed by law following the no-confidence vote deputies cast against him last month, RFE/RL's South Slavic Service reported. PM OSCE, COUNCIL OF EUROPE URGE ALBANIAN DEMOCRATS TO RETURN TO PARLIAMENT. The Tirana branches of the OSCE and the Council of Europe issued a joint statement on 8 July calling on the Democratic Party to end its boycott of the parliament, "Koha Jone" reported. The statement says that both organizations are "deeply concerned" by the Democrats' decision to walk out the previous day (see "RFE/RL Newsline" 8 July 1998). The text added that the party should participate in a "constructive political debate about the problems that the future of the country faces." Elsewhere, Namik Dokle, who is deputy speaker of the parliament, proposed to cut the salaries of those Democratic parliamentary deputies who declare in writing that they no longer recognize the legitimacy of the legislature, "Gazeta Shqiptare" reported. FS NEW PROSECUTOR-GENERAL APPOINTED IN ROMANIA. President Emil Constantinescu on 8 July appointed Mircea Criste as prosecutor-general, RFE/RL's Bucharest bureau reported. Criste was appointed a judge in Timisoara in 1995 and in 1997 became director of the General Directorate of Penitentiaries. In other news, the National Liberal Party (PNL) said its deputy chairman, Viorel Catarama, will no longer be allowed to "make statements in the name of the PNL." That move is in response to Catarama's criticizing the party leadership for having "betrayed" its electorate and for pursuing "leftist" policies. Party chairman Mircea Ionescu-Quintus said the decision was not connected to Catarama's refusal to submit a written declaration on whether he had links with the former Securitate. MS NATO SUPREME COMMANDER IN ROMANIA. On arriving in Bucharest for a two-day visit on 8 July, Supreme Commander of Allied Forces in Europe General Clark said that NATO continues to consider Romania "a key country" regardless of whether the alliance decides to continue its expansion, Rompres reported. MS TIRASPOL APPOINTS FINANCE MINISTER FROM MOLDOVA. Sergei Gradinari, a former Moldovan parliamentary deputy who represented the Socialist Unity-Edinstvo party, has been appointed finance minister in the Transdniester, RFE/RL's Chisinau bureau reported on 8 July, citing the daily "Flux". Gradinari was recently proposed by the pro-presidential For a Democratic and Prosperous Moldovan Bloc as deputy foreign minister. He has now taken up the citizenship of the separatist region. MS FORMER BULGARIAN PREMIER APPOINTED UN AMBASSADOR. Dimitri Filipov on 8 July was appointed ambassador to the UN, AP reported. Filipov headed the first non-communist Bulgarian government after 1989. In other news, the World Bank and Bulgaria on 8 July signed a $16 million loan agreement to finance a four-year program aimed at restoring polluted areas around Pirdopis, Reuters reported. The Bulgarian government will provide $5.7 million for the same purpose and the local National Trust Eco Fund $ 3.3 million. MS PROTEST AGAINST BULGARIAN ELECTRONIC MEDIA REGULATIONS. The Belgrade-based Association of Independent Electronic Media (AIEM) on 8 July said it is joining a protest launched by the New-York based Committee to Protect Journalists against government-proposed amendments to the law on radio and television. AIEM says that although the legislation formally abolishes the state monopoly on the allocation of channels, it leaves decisions on allocating those channels to state bodies. MS END NOTE SECURITY ISSUES FOR MACEDONIA by Patrick Moore The emergence of the crisis in Kosova earlier this year and the possibility that the violence could spill over into neighboring countries have drawn international attention to Macedonia and its security problems. The country faces two sets of issues: long-term and more immediate. Regional democratization and cooperation are the keys to a secure future for the small, land-locked state. For Macedonia, the most basic fact of life is its weakness. Its democratic institutions are new and fragile, and the fate of the country's stability seems all too bound up with that of one man, namely President Kiro Gligorov. Politics, like society, are highly polarized by the divide between the Slavic, ethnic Macedonian majority, and the Albanian minority. The Albanians make up between 20 and 25 percent of the population and are concentrated in the western part of the country, which borders on Albania and Kosova. The Macedonian military came into being only after independence in 1992 and is in need of extensive assistance from NATO's Partnership for Peace program. Another element of weakness is the economy in what was one of former Yugoslavia's poorest regions. Geography also presents security problems. Macedonia's main trade route runs from north to south along the Vardar River valley. To the north is Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic's Serbia, which recognized Macedonia's territorial integrity only in 1996 and which as recently as April 1998 called for changes in the Serbian-Macedonian border. To the south is Greece, which conducted an economic blockade of Macedonia from 1992 to 1995 in a dispute over Macedonia's name and state symbols. Relations have subsequently improved, but memories of what is seen in Skopje as Greek hostility are fresh. Macedonia enjoys relatively good relations with Albania to the west and especially with Bulgaria and Turkey to the east. But it will be many years before projected road and rail links connecting Durres to Istanbul via Skopje and Sofia are operational. And even though Albanian Prime Minister Fatos Nano recently said that his country, Macedonia, and Greece have developed a "good partnership," Macedonia's ethnic tensions remain a potential difficulty in its relations with Albania. The most pressing problems for Macedonia's security since early 1997 have come from what might be called the "arc of crisis" running from western Macedonia into Albania, Kosova, and Serbia proper. Ethnic tensions rose in Gostivar and Tetovo in western Macedonia during 1997 in response to the Macedonian authorities' refusal to legalize the underground Albanian-language university and in response to a new law on the display of national symbols. Nano recently reminded the authorities in Skopje that Tirana is not indifferent to the situation of Macedonia's ethnic Albanians and urged Skopje to recognize the university. The Albanian government has nonetheless repeatedly made it clear that it has no interest in destabilizing Macedonia or in conducting an irredentist policy against its neighbors. Albania did become a factor for regional instability in early 1997, however, when anarchy broke out following the collapse of a series of pyramid schemes. The June 1997 elections led to the formation of a stable government and the restoration of basic security and economic life, but the calm could prove illusory. The most pressing danger for Macedonia is the conflict in Kosova because Macedonian Albanian and Kosovar societies are closely linked following decades of common statehood in the former Yugoslavia. Many of the leaders of the two communities studied together at Prishtina's Albanian- language university. Serbia's huge military power is the greatest direct threat to Macedonian security, especially as long as Milosevic remains in power. Persistent but unconfirmed reports, moreover, suggest some formal or informal links may exist between anti-Albanian nationalists in the Serbian and Macedonian security services, which could bode ill for regional security. Finally, Milosevic enjoys popularity among some ethnic Macedonians who feel that only "Slobo" knows how to deal with Albanians, namely through violence. There are at least four steps that the international community might consider in order to stem the immediate threats to Macedonia's security. First, NATO could station troops on Macedonia's and Albania's frontiers with Yugoslavia as a deterrent. Second, the Atlantic alliance could consider what to do about Milosevic's capability to wage war in Kosova and potentially against his Balkan neighbors. Third, NATO could expand its Partnership for Peace program in Albania and Macedonia. And fourth, the international community could develop and implement a large and comprehensive program to promote democracy in Serbia. In the long term, the democratization of Serbia might prove the key to regional stability. A second factor would be for Greece, as the only Balkan country that belongs both to NATO and to the EU, to take the lead in integrating its neighbors in Euro-Atlantic structures. Athens should avoid a return to the nationalist grandstanding that has often characterized its policy in the region. Third, the international community could augment its already generous aid package to promote east-west transportation links in the Balkans and thereby reduce Macedonia's dependence on Serbia and Greece. Fourth, the international community could take further steps to promote the security and prosperity of Albania as an investment in regional stability. And fifth, all citizens of Macedonia should be given every incentive to concentrate their energies on economic development and shun ethnic conflict. xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx Copyright (c) 1998 RFE/RL, Inc. 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