|The trouble with being punctual is that nobody's there to appreciate it. - Franklin P. Jones|
RFE/RL NEWSLINE Vol. 2, No. 131 Part II, 10 July 1998
___________________________________________________________ RFE/RL NEWSLINE Vol. 2, No. 131 Part II, 10 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 STRIKES CONCILIATORY NOTE IN DIPLOMATIC STANDOFF * AGREEMENT SIGNED ON CZECH MINORITY GOVERNMENT * DIPLOMATS UNDERTAKE FIRST MONITORING MISSION IN KOSOVA xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx EAST-CENTRAL EUROPE BELARUS STRIKES CONCILIATORY NOTE IN DIPLOMATIC STANDOFF. President Alyaksandr Lukashenka has appointed Deputy Foreign Minister Uladzimir Herasimovich to lead negotiations with charges d'affaires of the countries whose ambassadors have been recalled from Belarus over the diplomatic housing scandal, Belapan and RFE/RL Belarusian Service reported. Herasimovich said on 9 July that the Belarusian government is taking "no tough positions" on the relocation of ambassadors and that "no deadlines" have been set for diplomats to remove their belongings from the Drazdy compound. He added that Minsk has already reached agreements with France and Germany on moving their ambassadors to other residences. But dpa quoted a German Foreign Ministry spokesman as denying that claim. JM EU TO INTRODUCE VISA RESTRICTIONS FOR BELARUSIAN OFFICIALS? Referring to "European diplomatic sources," ITAR-TASS reported that EU countries on 10 July will draft a resolution on restricting the number of EU entry visas for Belarusian senior officials. That resolution will reportedly be approved by EU foreign ministers on 13 July at an EU Council session. According to the Russian news agency, the resolution is a punitive measure for the eviction of EU diplomats from the Drazdy compound, near Minsk. The agency adds that the visa restrictions will also be supported by East European countries applying for EU membership. JM SOLANA SATISFIED WITH NATO-UKRAINE COOPERATION... NATO Secretary-General Javier Solana stressed during his 8-9 July visit to Ukraine that NATO cooperation with Ukraine is "fruitful" and has "good prospects," Ukrainian Television reported. Solana visited Kyiv to mark the first anniversary of the signing of the NATO-Ukraine special partnership charter. He said NATO wants to cooperate with Kyiv in peacekeeping operations as well as in the spheres of military command and communications. JM ...WHILE KUCHMA SAYS NATO HAS NO ALTERNATIVE IN EUROPE. After his meeting with Solana on 9 July, President Leonid Kuchma said NATO has no alternative in the creation of a security system in Europe. Kuchma added that Kyiv is "on the right path" by cooperating with NATO. Ukraine and NATO will cooperate "on a much broader scale" than simply in military issues or within the Partnership for Peace program framework, Ukrainian Television quoted him as saying. The Russian Foreign Ministry is lobbying for an increased role for the OSCE as the cornerstone of the European security system.JM UKRAINIAN PARLIAMENT ELECTS DEPUTY SPEAKERS. The Supreme Council on 9 July elected two deputy speakers proposed by newly elected speaker Oleksandr Tkachenko. The parliament voted by 270 to 23 to appoint Communist Adam Martenyuk as first deputy speaker and Social Democrat Viktor Medvedchuk as deputy speaker. According to Ukrainian Television, the Popular Rukh and the Popular Democratic Party strongly opposed both candidates. After holding 19 rounds of voting to elect its speaker, the Supreme Council broke another record on 9 July when 22 votes were needed in order to pass the motion to elect both deputy speakers in one ballot. JM LITHUANIAN PRESIDENT NOT TO SIGN LUSTRATION LAW. Valdas Adamkus's adviser on social policy, Darius Kuolis, told reporters on 9 July that Valdas Adamkus will not sign the recently passed lustration law (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 29 June 1998), Interfax reported. That law bans former KGB agents from holding posts in government and state bodies for 10 years following the passage of the legislation. Kuolis said that the law creates "moral, legal, historical, and national security problems that call for very subtle solutions." He also noted that the director of a center for the study of genocide against Lithuanian residents convinced Adamkus that documentary evidence on former KGB agents in Lithuania is "scant." According to Interfax, Adamkus has until 11 July either to return the law to the parliament or not to sign it and let the speaker do so instead. Speaker Vytautas Landsbergis initiated the lustration law. JC POLISH PREMIER PLEDGES TO FULFILL NATO RESPONSIBILITIES. Jerzy Buzek, on a three-day visit to the U.S., said during a 9 July meeting in Washington with Congressmen that Poland will spare no effort to become a trustworthy partner in NATO. "Poland wants to prove in the near future that our country will meet all commitments under North Atlantic Alliance membership," "Rzeczpospolita" quoted him as saying. According to AP, Buzek pledged that Poland will participate in all NATO's out-of-area operations, including any possible intervention in Kosova. JM AGREEMENT SIGNED ON CZECH MINORITY GOVERNMENT. Social Democratic Party (CSSD) leader Milos Zeman and Civic Democratic Party (ODS) head Vaclav Klaus on 9 July signed the agreement on a CSSD minority cabinet. The agreement stipulates that the ODS will receive the chairmanship of both houses of the parliament as well as of the lower house's Budget Commission and other key parliamentary commissions. The ODS agreed not to initiate a non-confidence vote during the chamber's four-year term, AP and Reuters reported. Zeman told reporters that the agreement was a "long-term one" that could remain in force if the election results were reversed in 2002. Klaus said the ODS is "moving into the opposition" and that it remains a "political rival" of the CSSD. MS HAVEL WANTS 'EXPERT OPINION' ON CONSTITUTIONALITY OF AGREEMENT. President Vaclav Havel said after meeting with Zeman that he will "in all likelihood" nominate Zeman as premier but will first seek "expert opinion" on whether the agreement is constitutional. Havel said he worries that the agreement may lead to "a permanent limitation of political pluralism." The leader of the Christian Democratic Party, Josef Lux, called on Havel to reject the accord. He said the agreement is "anti-democratic and anti-constitutional" because it attempts "to replace the old [constitutional] article on the leading role of the Communist Party with a similar role" for the CSSD and the ODS. MS SLOVAK PARLIAMENT FAILS AGAIN TO ELECT PRESIDENT. The Slovak Parliament narrowly failed to elect a new president in two rounds held on 9 July. In both rounds (the ninth and the tenth since the end of former President Michal Kovac's term on 2 March), the candidate backed by the governing parties, Otto Tomecek, was four votes short of the required 90 votes. Since the opposition parties have 81 representatives in the legislature, it is clear that some of their members or some independent deputies must have voted with the government. Deputy Prime Minister Josef Kalman, attending the opening of Slovakia's EU mission in Brussels, told journalists that the failure of the parliament to elect a president for four months must not be interpreted as an indication that Slovakia is unfit for EU membership. Rather, he said, it is a "sign of democracy, of respect for the opposition," Reuters reported. MS SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE DIPLOMATS UNDERTAKE FIRST MONITORING MISSION IN KOSOVA. Diplomats from the U.S., U.K., Russia, The Netherlands, and Belgium visited the Prizren, Gjakova, and Peja regions of Kosova on 9 July, RFE/RL's South Slavic Service reported. The envoys, who traveled without journalists, said that their mission helps them to identify regions that require additional monitoring. An U.S. diplomat told the VOA that both sides are more likely to "be on their best behavior" if they know they are being observed, even though the monitors have no authority to intervene (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 7 July 1998). In Vienna, spokesmen for the OSCE said that the Yugoslav authorities have agreed to admit OSCE monitors to Kosova. Until now, Belgrade refused to allow OSCE missions to work in Kosova until that body restores Yugoslavia's membership, which was suspended in 1992. PM HOLBROOKE SAYS KOSOVA 'TOUGHER THAN BOSNIA.' U.S. special envoy Richard Holbrooke said in Washington on 9 July that the crisis in Kosova "is tougher than Bosnia [and] enormously dangerous." He added that Kosova "is a crisis, and it could, without too much difficulty, slip into an emergency if things go wrong. In Bosnia we didn't get engaged for two or three years. Here, we got engaged early because the danger of this fighting exploding into a general war is very great." In London, unnamed officials of the Foreign Office told Reuters that the meeting of the Contact Group in Bonn the previous day was "very difficult." Diplomats from the U.S., U.K., Russia, Germany, France, and Italy agreed on a package aimed at giving Kosova broad autonomy within Yugoslavia (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 9 July 1998). PM NANO HAILS CONTACT GROUP PLAN. Albanian Prime Minister Fatos Nano on 9 July welcomed the peace plan for Kosova. Speaking to the government in Tirana, Nano said that Serbia "should create all conditions for the safe return of the Albanians displaced from their homes in Kosova." He added that Belgrade should allow international observers full freedom of movement throughout Kosova and invite EU monitoring teams there. Nano stressed that "the Kosovar Albanian negotiating team should be as representative of all ethnic Albanians as possible." That comment suggests he advocates including the Kosova Liberation Army (UCK). But Nano warned against inviting Belgrade to resume its role in international institutions until the Kosova dispute is settled. FS THREE ALBANIANS REPORTED KILLED IN BORDER INCIDENT. Villagers from Letaj north of Kukes said Serbian border guards shot and killed three Albanian citizens inside Albania on 9 July, "Gazeta Shqiptare reported. They added that Serbian forces took three other Albanians hostage. Albanian authorities have not confirmed the report but have sent police and border guards to the village to investigate. FS ALBANIAN CUSTOMS SEIZE WEAPONS. Customs authorities confiscated one-and-a-half tons of arms and ammunition in Durres on 9 July but made no arrests. The weapons were hidden in a van with a Zagreb license plate that arrived on a ferry from Ancona, "Koha Jone" reported. Durres prosecutors declined to comment on the preliminary results of their investigations but said they believe the arms were bound for the UCK. Customs officials in Durres seized a large quantity of arms on 18 June. FS KINKEL SAYS 'TIME RUNNING OUT.' German Foreign Minister Klaus Kinkel said in Tirana on 9 July that not much time is left to find a peaceful resolution to the crisis in Kosova, the "Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung" wrote. He added that the Contact Group wants the province to have broad autonomy but not the full status of a republic that Serbia and Montenegro enjoy. Kinkel noted that Russia agreed in Bonn to the stationing in Kosova of "mixed" police units that would include foreigners, Serbs, and ethnic Albanians on a model similar to that used in Bosnia. Kinkel urged the international community to give Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic positive incentives to end the crisis. The minister stressed that the prospect of renewed OSCE membership could be a "light at the end of the tunnel" for Milosevic and help convince him to change his policies in Kosova. PM MONTENEGRO SAYS NO RECOGNITION OF BULATOVIC. A spokesman for the Interior Ministry in Podgorica on 9 July denied recent accounts in the domestic and foreign media that the Montenegrin and Yugoslav federal authorities have reached an agreement on Montenegro's border with Croatia (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 9 July 1998). The spokesmen said that Podgorica does not recognize the federal government of former Montenegrin President Momir Bulatovic, whose election to that post Podgorica considers illegal, RFE/RL's South Slavic Service reported (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 20 May 1998). PM WASHINGTON, BRUSSELS SUSPEND SARAJEVO AID. A spokesman for the international community's Carlos Westendorp said in Sarajevo on 9 July that U.S. Agency for International Development and the EU have suspended $20 million in development assistance for the Bosnian capital. The payments will resume only when the city honors the pledge it made in March to allow up to 20,000 non-Muslims to move back to the Muslim-controlled city. Since the Dayton agreement was signed at the end of 1995, only 2,000 or so non-Serbs have returned to the Republika Srpska and 36,000 Serbs to the Muslim-Croatian federation, about half of whom went back to Sarajevo, AP reported. PM TWO DEAD IN ATTEMPT ON LIFE OF BOSNIAN SERB POLICE CHIEF. Two men were killed instantly in Bijeljina on 9 July when they tried to plant a bomb in the car of Ljubisa Savic, also known as "Mauser." He is the local chief of police and is loyal to Republika Srpska President Biljana Plavsic. Savic led a paramilitary unit known as the Panthers in ethnic cleansing operations in the area during the early stages of the 1992-1995 war. PM ROMANIAN ORTHODOX CHURCH ON POPE'S VISIT. The Romanian Orthodox Church on 9 July said it "remains open to the possibility of a visit" by Pope John Paul II to Romania but wants such a visit "to be thoroughly prepared" by "creating an atmosphere of [mutual] understanding" between Orthodox believers and [Rome-affiliated] Uniate Church members in Transylvania. That understanding would "contribute to a rapprochement between the Orthodox Church and Catholic Church," it added. Observers say the statement in effect amounts to a rejection of the Pope's visit. In a press release, the Orthodox Church said it has "repeatedly asked" the Uniate Church to "begin a dialogue on litigious problems" between the two sides. It noted, however, that such a dialogue cannot begin because the Uniates insist that Uniate churches and other properties confiscated by the Communists first be returned by the Orthodox Church. MS ROMANIA'S NEW 'STRATEGIC CONCEPT' FOR NATO INTEGRATION. Foreign Minister Andrei Plesu on 9 July told Supreme Commander of Allied Forces in Europe General Wesley Clark that Romania's "new strategic concept" for integration into NATO is one of "active attendance." Defense Minister Victor Babiuc told journalists after meeting with Clark that this new concept, first presented by Premier Radu Vasile, does not signify that Bucharest no longer gives priority to NATO integration. Rather, it seeks "to avoid over-dramatization" in the event that Romania again fails to be invited to join the organization in 1999 (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 30 June 1998). MS MINERS' LEADER FREED FROM PRISON. Miron Cozma, the leader of the miners who several times went on a rampage Bucharest in 1990-1991, has been freed from prison after completing an 18-month sentence for his role in the September 1991 disturbances (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 15 June 1998). On 9 July, he was welcomed in Petrosani by Ilie Neacsu, a parliamentary deputy of the extremist Greater Romania Party (PRM). Cozma joined that party while in pre-trial detention. Neacsu said it is up to Cozma to decide whether he will run for the legislature on the list of the PRM or return to his former position as miners' union leader. MS OSCE DISCUSSES WITHDRAWAL OF RUSSIAN TROOPS FROM TRANSDNIESTER. Participants at a 9 July OSCE meeting in Vienna on "Military Transparency in Moldova" said the process of Russian troop withdrawal from the Transdniester is "stagnating" and must be accelerated, Romanian Radio reported. Moldovan delegation member Mihai Critincea told the forum that Romania is ready to assist Moldova and Russia financially for the purpose of accelerating the withdrawal. MS BULGARIAN PRESIDENT IN BRUSSELS. President Petar Stoyanov on 9 July told the permanent representatives of NATO member states in Brussels that the situation in the Balkans in general and the Kosova crisis in particular are "additional arguments in favor of Bulgaria's accession to the organization" as soon as possible. Stoyanov said Bulgaria's and Romania's accession would "create a security belt" between the organization's northern and southern flanks, BTA reported. Meeting with the president of the European Commission, Jacques Santer, one day earlier, Stoyanov said he was bringing "a realistic assessment of our achievements but also an awareness of what remains to be done." Santer said the commission has registered Bulgaria's efforts toward political and macro-economic stabilization but noted that Sofia must still implement reforms of the economy, public administration, and judiciary. MS CORRECTION: "RFE/RL Newsline" incorrectly reported yesterday that a former Bulgarian premier has been appointed ambassador to the UN. Filip Dimitrov (not Dimitri Filipov, as reported) was in fact appointed ambassador to the U.S. 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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