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RFE/RL NEWSLINE Vol. 2, No. 134 Part II, 15 July 1998
distributed via email on 15 July. We apologize for any inconvenience this may have caused.] RADIO FREE EUROPE/RADIO LIBERTY, PRAGUE, CZECH REPUBLIC ___________________________________________________________ RFE/RL NEWSLINE Vol. 2, No. 134 Part II, 15 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 * LUKASHENKA SAYS EU VISA BAN 'BLACKMAIL' * UKRAINIAN NATIONAL BANK DEVALUES HRYVNYA * OSCE MISSION IN BELGRADE xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx EAST-CENTRAL EUROPE LUKASHENKA SAYS EU VISA BAN 'BLACKMAIL'... Belarusian President Alyaksandr Lukashenka said on 14 July that the EU ban on visas for Belarusian senior officials in response to the standoff over diplomatic residences at Drazdy is the "usual blackmail and pressure," Reuters reported. "If it wasn't Drazdy, it would be something else. [The West] does not like Lukashenka," he commented while touring the country's southeastern region, which was contaminated by the 1986 Chornobyl nuclear disaster. Lukashenka added that Belarus is not afraid of international isolation as a result of the EU visa ban. Belarus "will not respond to savage methods with savage methods.... We are a more civilized nation," AP quoted him as saying. JM ...THREATENS TO REFUSE WESTERN AID FOR CHORNOBYL CHILDREN. Lukashenka also said that Belarus may refuse Western assistance to children affected by the Chornobyl nuclear disaster if the West continues to discriminate against Belarusian citizens who want to visit the EU, Interfax reported. He expressed indignation that some Western embassies in Belarus have created obstacles in granting visas to children sent for treatment abroad using government funds while issuing visas without problems "for children of opposition leaders going abroad via private funds. Thank you, but we do not want such help. We can do without it," Lukashenka commented. JM U.S. RESTRICTS VISAS FOR BELARUSIAN LEADERS. Following the EU ban on visas for senior Belarusian officials, the U.S. has announced visa restrictions for President Lukashenka and "several dozen" Belarusian officials, Reuters reported on 14 July. "Each travel request, except those to international organizations in the United States, will be examined with the presumption of denial," U.S. State Department spokesman James Rubin said. Rubin added the restrictions will cover Lukashenka, all leaders of the presidential administration, all cabinet ministers, some deputy ministers, and the KGB head. The U.S. is also suspending cooperation programs with Belarus, including educational and exchange programs for government officials and financial aid for Partnership for Peace activities in Belarus. JM UKRAINIAN NATIONAL BANK DEVALUES HRYVNYA. National Bank Chairman Viktor Yushchenko has said the bank is slowly lowering the value of the hryvnya to stop the drain of its foreign currency reserves, Ukrainian News reported on 14 July. The exchange rate slipped from 2.06 hryvnyas to 2.11 hryvnyas to $1 at the beginning of July when foreign investors repatriated some $130 million in government bonds. The National Bank reserves have decreased from $2.5 billion to $1.76 billion in the first half of this year. Yushchenko said that Ukraine's financial situation remains under control and that successful negotiations with the IMF in Washington last week on a new $2.5 billion loan to Ukraine provide hope for a rapid stabilization. JM MOSCOW EXPRESSES 'DISSATISFACTION' OVER ESTONIAN VETERANS' MEETING. The Russian Foreign Ministry has expressed "dissatisfaction" over the decision to hold the reunion of war veterans in Tallinn last weekend (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 13 and 14 July 1998), BNS reported on 14 July. Russian Foreign Ministry representative Vladimir Rakhmanin told reporters in Moscow that the ministry acknowledges that no Estonian officials took part in the meeting. But he added that Moscow was concerned that the annual reunion had been transferred from the provinces to the capital. JC ESTONIAN INTERIOR MINISTER NOT TO RESIGN OVER DAIWA LOAN AFFAIR. Olari Taal has said he sees no reason why he should resign over a loan that was taken from the Japanese Daiwa Bank last year in order to buy 6 million shares in Hoiupank, BNS and ETA reported on 14 July. At the time of the deal, Taal was chairman of the bank's board. According to ETA, the transaction may cost Hoiupank, which recently merged with Hansapank to form the largest bank in the Baltic States, some 225 million kroons ($15 million) because stocks crashed immediately after the deal took place. Taal, who has no party affiliation, joined the government earlier this year. JC WILLIAMS PRESIDENT IN VILNIUS TO DISCUSS OIL DEAL. The president of Williams International, John Bumgarner, was in Vilnius on 13-14 July to discuss his company's plans to invest in Lithuania's oil sector, BNS reported. After a meeting between Bumgarner and Lithuanian Premier Gediminas Vagnorius, Economy Minister Vincas Babilius said the talks on the proposed deal have been "carried forward" but that the main disagreements between the two sides are over the value of the shares that Williams wants to buy. The U.S. company has estimated those shares to be worth 600 million litas ($150 million), while the Lithuanian government says it will not accept less than 1-1.6 billion litas. Williams wants a 33 percent stake in each of Lithuania's three major oil companies: Mazeikiu Nafta, Butinges Nafta, and Naftotiekis. JC POLISH PRIVATIZATION PLAN TO YIELD $20 BILLION BY 2001. The government privatization plan adopted on 14 July envisages revenues totaling some 70 billion zlotys ($20 billion) by 2001, PAP reported. State Treasury Minister Emil Wasacz told the agency that the largest firm privatized this year will be Telekomunikacja Polska SA, the national telecommunications company. Next year will witness the privatization of PZU, Poland's largest insurance company, as well as two coal mines and the country's largest steelworks. All coal mines, along with the Ursus tractor plant, are to be privatized by 2001. The Polish airline LOT will be privatized either this year or in 1999. According to Wasacz, there are still more than 1,000 state-owned companies slated for privatization. JM POLISH DAILY PROVOKES STIR WITH REPORT ON 'RADIO FREE BELARUS.' "Gazeta Wyborcza" reported on 13 July that a "Radio Free Belarus" station will start broadcasting in several months from Bialystok, northeastern Poland. According to the newspaper, the radio station aims at "exporting democracy" to Belarus and is a Belarusian-U.S.- Polish project initiated by Belarusian independent journalists. It added that the final decision on financing the radio station was made several weeks ago in Washington. On 15 July, "Gazeta Wyborcza" quoted Premier Jerzy Buzek as saying the government would welcome the station "with sympathy." However, the U.S. Embassy in Warsaw said on 14 July that "no official talks were held between the U.S. administration and the Polish government on independent media in Belarus." The Belarusian Foreign Ministry, for its part, said that the decision to launch "Radio Free Belarus" would not promote the development of Belarusian-Polish relations. JM CZECH 'COALITION' PARTIES PARCEL OUT PARLIAMENT POSTS. Officials from the Social Democrats (CSSD) and the Civic Democratic Party (ODS) have agreed on the division of positions in the new parliament, "Mlada fronta Dnes" reported on 15 July. ODS chairman Vaclav Klaus, slated to be speaker of the parliament, will have four deputies: one from his party, two from the CSSD, and the fourth from either the opposition Freedom Union (US) or the Christian Democrats (KDU-CSL). Stanislav Gross and Petra Buzkova have been designated as the CSSD's appointees to those posts. The US has nominated Finance Minister Ivan Pilip to become a deputy speaker if the KDU-CSL does not name a nominee for the post. The CSSD and the ODS also announced that they will fill 10 of the 13 committee chairs. PB CZECH POLITICIAN LEAVES PARTY OVER 'OPPOSITION' AGREEMENT. Bohdan Dvorak, a former deputy chairman of the ODS, said on 14 July that he is resigning from the party because of its "opposition" agreement with the Social Democrats, CTK reported. Dvorak said that in signing the agreement, which allows the CSSD to rule as a minority government with ODS approval, Klaus has failed his voters and created an unstable situation. In a letter to Klaus, Dvorak said Klaus's "servile bow" to CSSD deputy chairman Vaclav Spidla was reminiscent of wartime Czechoslovak leader Emil Hacha's capitulation to the Nazis. In other news, while a private audit of ODS finances showed instances of tax evasion, fraud, and money laundering, the ODS has said it is impossible to identify the people responsible for the wrongdoing. PB SLOVAK PARLIAMENT APPROVES TRANSFER OF POWER. Lawmakers on 14 July voted to grant the parliamentary speaker the power to dissolve and name a government, AP reported. Such powers were previously held by the president, a post that has been vacant in Slovakia since early March. The vote was unusual in that it received support from members of both the governing parties and the opposition. Observers say the move will prevent a constitutional crisis as there would have been no one to officially accept the current government's resignation after the September parliamentary elections. PB SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE OSCE MISSION IN BELGRADE. A 12-member OSCE delegation led by Hansjoerg Eiff, who is Germany's ambassador to that body, arrived in the Serbian capital on 14 July in a bid to persuade the Yugoslav government to allow the OSCE to send monitors to Kosova. The diplomats also want to send observers to the ethnically mixed Sandzak region, which lies between Kosova and Bosnia. The delegation will later travel to Prishtina and to Podgorica. Yugoslavia refuses to allow the OSCE to send monitors to Kosova so long as Belgrade's membership in that body remains suspended. The OSCE suspended Yugoslav membership in 1992 because of Belgrade's role in the Bosnian war. In Prishtina, members of the Serbian opposition coalition Alliance for Change met with representatives of both the Serbian and ethnic Albanian communities in Kosova, RFE/RL's South Slavic Service reported. PM UCK SAYS INDEPENDENT KOSOVA KEY TO BALKAN PEACE. Luma Haxhiu, who is a spokesman for the Kosova Liberation Army (UCK), said that U.S. special envoy Richard Holbrooke achieved "nothing" on his recent mission to the region because "he talked about peace. What we need is freedom. Peace under Serbia is occupation," the Belgrade daily "Danas" reported on 15 July. Haxhiu added that the international Contact Group has "encouraged" the Serbian authorities to continue their repressive policies by limiting the international community's pressures on Belgrade to sanctions. The spokesman stressed that the UCK has no desire to spread the conflict to Macedonia, whose ethnic Albanians "have their own leadership" and a political agenda limited to achieving additional civil rights. The UCK does "not want to make more problems in the Balkans," he added. Haxhiu said that the UCK is not linked to any political party and that it has "not committed a single war crime." PM DEMIREL BACKS ALBANIA ON KOSOVA. Turkish President Suleyman Demirel, visiting Tirana on 14 July, assured his counterpart, Rexhep Meidani, that Turkey supports Albania's policy of what he called "punishing violence and [helping to bring about] a peaceful solution for the Kosova problem." Demirel made clear that a UN Security Council mandate would be a precondition for any international intervention in Kosova. He was accompanied by a delegation of 140 high- ranking government officials and businessmen, some of whom signed agreements with their Albanian counterparts. One document is a cooperation agreement between the two countries' public broadcasting institutions, "Gazeta Shqiptare" reported. FS NEW INFLUX OF KOSOVAR REFUGEES TO MONTENEGRO. A spokesman for the UN High Commissioner for Refugees said in Geneva on 14 July that in recent days, the UNHCR has registered a sharp increase in the number of Kosovar refugees fleeing to Montenegro. He said that the total number of refugees there is now 18,000, compared with 13,000 registered refugees in Albania. He added that "the sharp increase may be explained by the increase in military activity, shelling, and fighting in the Peja area." The spokesman stressed that the UNHCR is concerned about the safety of its staff in an area where there are gun battles, armed rivalry between clans, and an apparent lack of formal authority in Kosova and northern Albania. Charles Raedersdorf, who heads the Swiss Catastrophe Aid Corps, said the conflict has uprooted more than 100,000 people throughout Kosova. He stressed that finding winter accommodation for refugees will be a problem. FS YUGOSLAVIA TO SEEK EXTRADITION OF SAKIC'S WIFE. The Federal Court on 14 July ruled that the Belgrade regional court has the legal authority to proceed with the case against Nada Luburic-Sakic for war crimes and that it should do so, RFE/RL's South Slavic Service reported. The Yugoslav authorities will seek her extradition from Argentina, where she has lived since the end of World War II with her husband, Dinko Sakic, who is on trial in Zagreb for war crimes (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 26 June 1998). Nada Sakic was a commander at a concentration camp for women under the pro- Axis Ustasha regime. Her husband was a commander at Jasenovac, which was Croatia's largest concentration camp, at which tens of thousands of Serbs, Jews, Roma, and opposition Croats died. PM GARROD URGES CROATS TO GO HOME. Sir Martin Garrod, who is the international community's chief representative in Mostar, urged ethnic Croats to return to their homes in Muslim-controlled parts of the city. He added that the international community will protect persons wanting to go home "regardless of what anybody says," "Oslobodjenje" reported on 15 July. Hard-line Croatian nationalists have sought to pressure all Croats in Bosnia-Herzegovina to settle in Croatian-controlled regions that border Croatia. In Sarajevo, a spokesman for the international community's Carlos Westendorp said that Garrod will soon leave his post. The spokesman noted that the British official has spent "a long time" in Bosnia. PM SANCTIONS AGAINST REPUBLIKA SRPSKA? Hanns Schumacher, who is Westendorp's deputy, said in Sarajevo that the international community is preparing to impose unspecified sanctions against the Bosnian Serb government of Prime Minister Milorad Dodik, "Dnevni avaz" wrote on 14 July. Schumacher cited that government's "disappointing attitude" toward the return of Croatian and Muslim refugees. The next day, the daily quoted Vice President Bozo Ljubic of the Croatian Democratic Community as denying local press reports that his party wants Kresimir Zubak to resign as Croatian member of the Bosnian joint presidency (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 14 July 1998). Elsewhere in Sarajevo, Italian President Oscar Luigi Scalfaro told the three members of the joint presidency that Italy will continue to play a role in Bosnia. The Bosnians told Scalfaro that local small and medium-sized firms need Italian help, which would also be welcome in building a major new highway, "Oslobodjenje" reported. PM ROMANIAN PRESIDENT ARRIVES IN WASHINGTON. Emil Constantinescu arrived in Washington on 14 July at the start of a nine-day visit to the U.S., an RFE/RL correspondent reported. Presidential adviser Zoe Petre said the president's aim is to change "the image of Romania among all U.S. officials." Constantinescu will address a joint session of congress on 15 July, an honor accorded to few people. It is the first official visit by a Romanian president since Ion Iliescu met with President Bill Clinton in 1995. PB MOLDOVAN PRESIDENT SAYS FISCAL CUTS MUST NOT HURT POOR. Petru Lucinschi said on 14 July that any proposed austerity measures in a revamped budget should not disadvantage the poor, Reuters reported. "The budget law should be balanced so that it will not harm the poor," he said. In an attempt to prevent an economic crisis, the parliament is considering a new budget that cuts spending. Finance Minister Anatol Arapu said the old budget included "unrealistic indicators which cannot be fulfilled." The IMF has urged Chisinau to revise the budget and accelerate privatization. In other news, the EU rejected a request by Moldova to join the European Conference, a forum that brings together 15 countries that want to join the EU. The EU said such a move is premature. PB xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx Copyright (c) 1998 RFE/RL, Inc. 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