|If you are not allowed to laugh in heaven, I don't want to go there. - Martin Luther|
RFE/RL NEWSLINE Vol. 2, No. 133 Part II, 14 July 1998
___________________________________________________________ RFE/RL NEWSLINE Vol. 2, No. 133 Part II, 14 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 * TEN COUNTRIES JOIN EU ON TRAVEL RESTRICTIONS FOR BELARUS * RUGOVA SEEKS TO REIN IN UCK * ROMANIAN FINANCE MINISTER DEFIES PREMIER OVER HELICOPTER LOAN xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx EAST-CENTRAL EUROPE TEN COUNTRIES JOIN EU OVER TRAVEL RESTRICTIONS ON BELARUS... Ten non-EU countries--Bulgaria, Cyprus, the Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Iceland, Norway, Romania, Slovakia, and Slovenia--have joined the EU in imposing travel restrictions on Belarusian state officials because of a dispute over diplomatic residences at Drazdy, near Minsk (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 13 July 1998). Those countries say they "will ensure that their national policies conform to that common position," AP reported on 13 July. The U.S. State Department is also preparing punitive measures against Belarus similar to the EU ban. U.S. State Department spokesman James Rubin said on 13 July that the EU and the U.S. are "reading from the same script" in their dispute with Belarus and that an analogous action by the U.S. can be expected shortly, Reuters reported. JM ...WHILE POLAND, LITHUANIA REFRAIN FROM VISA BAN. In a statement issued on 13 July, the Polish Foreign Ministry "expressed solidarity with the EU's position" but declined to introduce visa restrictions on Belarusian officials, PAP reported. The statement says Poland feels responsibility for maintaining a dialogue with Belarus and for ensuring that the OSCE mission in Minsk continues to function. Foreign Minister Bronislaw Geremek, who is also OSCE chairman, said Poland has not been consulted by the EU on a common stance over Belarus. He added that his decision was taken following consultations with top government officials and the president. Lithuania also has decided not to join the EU visa restrictions against Belarus. Lithuania's decision was made "to soften the impact of [Belarus's] isolation on Lithuanian-Belarusian relations," Belapan quoted a Lithuanian diplomat as saying. JM EU SENDS GERMAN ENVOY TO REOPEN TALKS WITH BELARUS. Despite imposing visa sanctions against Belarusian officials on 13 July, the EU has sent German Charge d'Affaires to Belarus Hans Gnotke to negotiate the return of Western ambassadors to Minsk. According to dpa, the EU may adopt further sanctions if Belarus does not offer concrete action to normalize the situation over diplomatic residences. ITAR- TASS reported on 13 July that the EU's move to reopen talks with Minsk followed a letter from Belarusian Foreign Minister Ivan Antanovich to EU Council Chairman Wolfgang Schuessel containing "concrete proposals" to end the diplomatic crisis. According to the Russian agency, Anatanovich pledged to respect the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations, guarantee the inviolability of diplomatic residences at Drazdy, and not to issue ultimatums to the EU. JM KUCHMA, TKACHENKO WANT 'CONSTRUCTIVE COOPERATION.' President Leonid Kuchma and Supreme Council speaker Oleksandr Tkachenko held a "constructive and open" meeting on 13 July to discuss urgent tasks facing the executive and the legislature, Ukrainian Television reported. Both officials stressed that the two branches need to demonstrate "constructive cooperation and concerted action" in legislative work. Tkachenko expressed his support for Kuchma's recent economic decrees and his appeal to the parliament to adopt a 1998 revised budget (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 13 July 1998). The Supreme Council is planning to extend its current session until the end of July in order to pass an amended budget. JM RUKH TO STAY IN OPPOSITION. Vyacheslav Chornovil, leader of the Popular Rukh, has said the Supreme Council is controlled by a "nomenklatura-leftist majority," Ukrainian Television reported on 13 July. In his opinion, Peasant Party representative Oleksandr Tkachenko became speaker owing to "betrayal" among right-centrist deputies. "Thus, hopes for a coalition government have been buried," Ukrainian Television quoted him as saying. Chornovil announced that Rukh will remain "in opposition to all power branches." A Communist deputy told Ukrainian Television that Rukh "is trying to play [being in] opposition" because it has been "excluded...by those whom it brought to power." JM MOSCOW TO ISSUE STATEMENT ON VETERANS' MEETING IN TALLINN. Russian Foreign Ministry spokesman Valerii Nesterushkin told BNS on 13 July that his ministry is drafting a statement on what he termed last weekend's rally of veterans who fought on the German side during World War II (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 13 July 1998). Nesterushkin stressed that Moscow is still not ready to comment on the event. The same day, Russian State Duma Foreign Affairs Committee adviser Vasilii Pospelov told the Baltic news agency that the Duma regards the veterans' meeting as a "gesture meant to irritate Moscow" and an attempt to "present fascist troops in the liberators' role." Pospelov added that the committee's political assessment of the Tallinn meeting is "condemnatory." On 11 July, a Church service for all those who died fighting for Estonian independence had taken place in the Estonian capital. It was followed by a closed meeting of the Estonian Freedom Fighters' Union, the Estonian Finland Volunteers, and the Estonian Disabled Soldiers' Association. JC POLISH FARMERS TO RECEIVE TAX BREAKS IN 1999. Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Leszek Balcerowicz on 13 July announced that value-added tax on farm products and a tax on farmers' incomes will not be imposed next year, PAP reported. Balcerowicz added that the Finance Ministry is currently working on taxes that "meet EU policies." Commenting on the 10 July demonstration by farmers (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 13 July 1998), he stressed that "accepting most of the farmers' demands translates into higher taxes." JM ZEMAN SAYS VETO OF CABINET APPOINTMENTS WOULD BE UNCONSTITUTIONAL. Milos Zeman, the chairman of the Social Democrats (CSSD), said on 13 July that it would be unconstitutional for President Vaclav Havel to try to veto certain ministerial appointments in a proposed Zeman cabinet. Havel reportedly objects to Jan Kavan being named foreign minister and Vaclav Grulich as interior minister in such a government. Grulich, however, has said he will continue to be a candidate for the interior portfolio. PB RUSSIAN INSPECTORS TO CHECK PRAGUE'S CFE COMPLIANCE. A team of Russian military inspectors arrived in Prague on 13 July to monitor the country's compliance with the Conventional Forces in Europe treaty, ITAR-TASS reported. Nine Russian officers are to inspect several military bases over the next week. The CFE treaty allows the Czech Republic to have 957 tanks and 1,367 armored personnel carriers. Meanwhile, the Czech Foreign and Defense Ministries have said the country would be prepared to enter NATO in January 1999, three months earlier than originally planned. The earlier date is being considered so that Russian President Boris Yeltsin will attend NATO's 50th anniversary celebrations in April (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 2 July 1998). PB SLOVAK ENVIRONMENT MINISTER AT DISPUTED NUCLEAR PLANT. Jozef Zlocha visited the controversial Mochovce nuclear power plant on 13 July, an RFE/RL correspondent in Bratislava reported. Zlocha met with the plant's director, Jozef Valach, who said the plant is operating at 35 percent capacity. The plant went into operation on 8 June, despite a storm of protests from the Austrian government that it is unsafe. Several Western companies involved in the design and construction of the plant have said it fulfills all safety standards. Meanwhile in Bratislava, four political parties decided at a roundtable meeting that they will send a joint letter to Austrian Chancellor Viktor Klima expressing their determination to secure the necessary political, economic, and legislative criteria needed to join the EU. Austria currently holds the post of the EU presidency. The groups at the meeting were the Slovak Democratic Coalition, the Hungarian Coalition Party, the Party of the Democratic Left, and the Party of Civic Understanding. PB POLICE CHIEFS DISMISSED IN HUNGARY. Interior Minister Sandor Pinter on 13 July dismissed national police chief Laszlo Forgacs, Criminal Investigations Director Istvan Ignacz, and Public Safety Director Ferenc Banfi, Hungarian media reported. Prime Minister Viktor Orban said the dismissals are part of an agreement between him and Pinter and are in line with the government's intention to strengthen the police forces. Pinter said he intends to appoint the deputy director of public safety, General Peter Orban, as the new national police commander. Former Interior Minister Gabor Kuncze said he suspects political motives behind the changes, adding that the integrity and expertise of the dismissed officials were unquestionable. MSZ SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE RUGOVA SEEKS TO REIN IN UCK. Kosovar shadow-state President Ibrahim Rugova said in Prishtina on 13 July that within a week he will call a session of the parliament that was elected in March. Rugova and his Democratic League of Kosova (LDK) will use the session to review political options open to the Kosovars and to try to bring the Kosova Liberation Army (UCK) under the control of the political establishment, RFE/RL's South Slavic Service reported. The Serbian authorities declared the March vote illegal, and parties more radical than the LDK boycotted it. UCK spokesmen have said that the guerrillas do not accept the political leadership of any of the established parties and have called Rugova a "defeatist" (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 13 July 1998). Meanwhile in Peja, some 14 buses filled with Serbian police arrived on 13 July, an RFE/RL correspondent reported. PM EU FOREIGN MINISTERS ADOPT RESOLUTION ON KOSOVA. Foreign ministers meeting in Brussels on 13 July agreed to call for a cease-fire in Kosova and urge both sides to seek a political settlement. The ministers said that should this call fail, they are urging the UN Security Council to take "further action...to bring about compliance by those who block the process." British Foreign Secretary Robin Cook told Reuters that the resolution is "a very clear, very blunt statement to [Yugoslav President Slobodan] Milosevic...to comply fully with international community demands. We also recognize that there are two sides to the conflict...so we have called on the armed Kosovar Albanian groups to cease the violence." The "Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung" reported, however, that the ministers were hard- pressed for ideas as to how to bring about a settlement. German Foreign Minister Klaus Kinkel said the UCK is rapidly gaining in popularity in Kosova. PM U.S. SAYS NO INDEPENDENCE FOR KOSOVA. State Department spokesman James Rubin said in Washington on 13 July that the Kosovars "need to realize that their independence goals are not going to be achieved. The international community is not going to support independence" for Kosova or a greater Albanian state. "We have said for some time that the primary responsibility for this conflict and for the fighting and for the repression and for the dying [lies with] Slobodan Milosevic. That doesn't mean that extremist elements on the Kosovar Albanian side are free of responsibility.... If they think they are going to...achieve independence, they are fundamentally mistaken." PM UN RECOMMENDS ALBANIAN ARMS COLLECTION PROGRAM. A UN panel of experts recommends setting up a pilot project in the central Albanian district of Gramsh to retrieve some of the estimated 650,000 weapons looted from barracks and police stations throughout the country during last year's civil unrest. The panel published a report in New York on 13 July warning that cash incentives or buy-back schemes would have an "inflationary impact" and would send out "the wrong message to those who may consider unauthorized weapon possession as a lucrative activity." Instead, the study recommends linking a voluntary weapons return program with "poverty-alleviating and job-creating development projects." Gramsh, which has a population of about 50,000 and an unemployment rate of more than 30 percent, is one of the most heavily armed regions in the country. The report said that the Kosova conflict provides "an additional reason to retrieve weapons from the civilian population." FS ALBANIAN PROSECUTOR ASKS PARLIAMENT TO LIFT BERISHA'S IMMUNITY... Prosecutor-General Arben Rakipi on 13 July formally requested legislators to lift the immunity of former President Sali Berisha, former State Secretary for Defense Leonard Demi, and the head of the Tirana branch of the Democratic Party, Shaban Memia. Such a move would make possible an investigation into Berisha's role during last year's unrest. Rakipi told "Koha Jone" that the three might be charged with terrorism, committing crimes against humanity, and ordering the use of chemical weapons against the civilian population. Rakipi said that he has documents signed by the three that substantiate those charges. He added that he will soon bring charges against other former officials who do not enjoy parliamentary immunity. FS ...WHILE OSCE CALLS FOR 'CLIMATE OF RECONCILIATION.' OSCE Ambassador to Albania Daan Everts told "Gazeta Shqiptare" on 13 July that Albania needs "a climate of reconciliation [and that Albanians should] not look backward but forward." He also warned against polarization between the opposition and the governing coalition as well as against tendencies toward political vindictiveness. Everts added that "the law must be applied.... If there was a violation of the law, then the due process must be carried out, but we have to be aware that all this takes place in a highly tense [political] climate.... Legal moves against Berisha will not help in easing the climate. A further heightening of political tensions is not good for Albania," he argued. FS HERZEGOVINIAN PARTY DEMANDS OFFICIALS RESIGN. The presidency of the Croatian Democratic Community (HDZ), which is dominated by ultra-nationalists from Herzegovina, issued a statement in Mostar on 13 July calling for the resignation of Bosnian officials who were elected on the HDZ slate but have since left the party. The call affects primarily Kresimir Zubak, who is the Croatian member of the Bosnian joint presidency, as well as others who have joined his New Croatian Initiative. That newly founded party represents the interests of more moderate Croats from central Bosnia. Meanwhile in Ljubljana, spokesmen for the Slovenian government announced that it will provide $2.6 million in Bosnian redevelopment aid. The money will help fund projects in which Slovenian firms are involved and provide scholarships to Bosnians studying at Slovenian universities. PM ROMANIAN FINANCE MINISTER DEFIES PREMIER OVER HELICOPTER LOAN. Daniel Daianu said on 13 July that he will not approve a state loan needed for a major purchase of U.S. helicopters, AP reported. Daianu said that as head of the Finance Ministry, he will not "validate [the loan] with my signature." Prime Minister Radu Vasile's spokesman said that the decision to provide the loan has been made and that "all members of the cabinet support the project." Vasile gave final approval to the $1.45 billion loan for the purchase of 96 helicopters two weeks ago. After the purchase, the U.S. manufacturer Bell Helicopters Textron are to buy 70 percent of the IAR Brasov SA aircraft plant for $50 million. The dispute over the deal comes one day before President Emil Constantinescu arrives in the U.S. for an official state visit. Daianu said he opposes the deal because the military budget will have to be increased by 20 percent over the next nine years in order to cover the loan. PB GAZPROM THREATENS MOLDOVA AGAIN. Aleksandr Pushkin, a deputy chairman of the Russian gas giant Gazprom, said on 13 July that Moldova must begin to repay its $215 million debt or the company will cut off gas supplies, Infotag reported. Gazprom has reduced the flow of gas to Moldova twice since June. Pushkin said Chisinau has not begun to issue $100 million worth of state securities to Gazprom, as was earlier agreed, and that if no action is taken by 1 August, Gazprom will shut off the gas flow. Pushkin suggested that Chisinau repay $7 million a month after issuing the state securities. PB BULGARIAN CABINET APPROVES DRUG CONTROL PROGRAM. The Bulgarian government has approved a joint program with the EU and the UN that will step up the fight against drug trafficking in southeastern Europe, BTA reported on 13 July. Romania and Macedonia are also participating in the two- year, $7.5 million project, which will upgrade border checkpoints and custom offices as well as establish and train inspection teams. 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