|We are all apt to believe what the world believes about us. - George Eliot|
RFE/RL NEWSLINE Vol. 2, No. 137 Part II, 20 July 1998
___________________________________________________________ RFE/RL NEWSLINE Vol. 2, No. 137 Part II, 20 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 * POLISH PARLIAMENT APPROVES 16 NEW PROVINCES * ZEMAN NAMED PREMIER, KLAUS ELECTED SPEAKER * SERBS, UCK CLASH IN RAHOVEC xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx EAST-CENTRAL EUROPE LUKASHENKA BRIEFS MOSCOW MAYOR ON DIPLOMATIC STANDOFF... Belarusian President Alyaksandr Lukashenka has sent a letter to Moscow Mayor Yurii Luzhkov to explain his stance on the diplomatic conflict over the Drazdy residential compound, Interfax reported on 19 July. Lukashenka said he believes the EU ban on visas for Belarusian officials aims at undermining the Belarusian-Russian Union. He argued that the EU is attempting to win over Russia by hinting Moscow will receive financial aid if it persuades Belarus to change its position in the row. And he said that the EU is threatening to sever diplomatic relations with Belarus in order to make it assume "the role of a mere executor of other decisions." Lukashenka assured Luzhkov that Belarus does not recognize the EU's right to dictate "when to conduct referendums, which constitution to live by, and when to renovate its own house." JM ...WHILE LUZHKOV BACKS LUKASHENKA'S 'LOGICAL' STANCE. Luzhkov responded to Lukashenka's letter by saying the actions of the Belarusian president over the diplomatic housing conflict are "quite legitimate and logical," ITAR- TASS reported on 19 July. Luzhkov said the EU's punitive measures against Belarus were provoked not by violations of the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations but by Lukashenka's efforts toward reuniting former Soviet republics. On 17 July, the Russian Federation Council described the EU visa ban against Belarusian officials as an "inappropriate and destructive reaction." It appealed to European parliaments "to take constructive practical steps" to normalize relations with Belarus, according to Interfax. JM KUCHMA UPBEAT ON RECEIVING $2.5 BILLION LOAN FROM IMF. Ukrainian President Leonid Kuchma has said he is hopeful that an IMF mission expected in Ukraine on 23 July will recommend the release of a $2.5 billion loan to Kyiv, Ukrainian Television reported on 19 July. He said that the IMF mission "is coming with the wish to make a final review of the [loan] program and approve it." Kuchma added that the World Bank, which, like the IMF, suspended cooperation with Ukraine, has promised him it will release more than $1 billion in credits following "the very first telephone call from the IMF." Meanwhile, Kuchma has once again appealed to the Supreme Council to approve an amended 1998 budget with a reduced deficit equal to 2.3 percent of GDP. "The refusal to make a decision on this issue will threaten Ukraine's national interests," Ukrainian Television quoted the president as saying. JM ESTONIA'S RULING COALITION MOVES TOWARD RESTORING ELECTORAL ALLIANCE. Meeting at Toompea on 17 July, leaders of the ruling coalition partners--the Coalition Party, the Country People's Party , the Rural Union, and the Pensioners Party-- agreed to start negotiations on restoring the electoral alliance formed by those groups in 1995, ETA reported. Arnold Ruutel, the chairman of the Country People's Party, said that despite differences of opinion over some matters, the ruling coalition is agreed on the most important issue-- the "stabilized development of the country." Ruutel's party, in particular, has strongly criticized the Coalition Party's positions on social policy. Parliamentary elections are scheduled to take place in March 1999. JC VAN DER STOEL SAYS NO NEW RECOMMENDATIONS ON LATVIAN CITIZENSHIP LAW. OSCE High Commissioner on National Minorities Max van der Stoel has said he will make no more recommendations on Latvia's citizenship law, BNS reported. In a statement issued to the press on 17 July, Van der Stoel noted that since making recommendations on that law, "I have not changed my position on this subject, and I do not see the need to do so in the future." He added that the basic elements of his proposals--the removal of the "naturalization windows," granting citizenship to children born to non-Latvians after independence in August 1991, and simplifying citizenship examinations on Latvia's constitution and history--have been worked into the recently passed amendments. Earlier on 17 July, Latvian Prime Minister Guntars Krasts, during a visit to Finland, had called on the OSCE to guarantee it will make no new demands on easing Latvia's citizenship laws. JC LITHUANIAN CONSERVATIVES NOT TO APPEAL TO COURT OVER LUSTRATION LAW. Deputy parliamentary chairman Andrius Kubilius told reporters on 17 July that the ruling coalition will not appeal to the Constitutional Court for a ruling on the recently passed lustration law, BNS reported. Neither will the Conservatives support the initiation of such an appeal in the parliament, he added. "It is my personal conviction that the law can take effect such as it is now. But we want broader consensus of state institutions on the issue," Kubilius said. President Valdas Adamkus has vetoed the law and proposed that the parliament turn to the Constitutional Court to rule whether the legislation is constitutional (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 17 July 1998). JC POLISH PARLIAMENT APPROVES 16 NEW PROVINCES... Following a compromise between the ruling coalition and the Democratic Left Alliance (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 16 and 17 July 1998), the Sejm voted by 326 to 29 with 41 abstentions to pass a bill providing for 16 new provinces in Poland. The bill has to be reviewed by the upper house and signed by the president, who has already declared his support for the 16- province administrative plan. JM ...PASSES HEALTH SYSTEM REFORM BILL. The parliament also passed legislation on reforming the health care system. The bill sets up "patient funds" that are to be financed directly by mandatory contributions from employees equaling 7.5 percent of their income. Accordingly, employees' income tax payments are to be reduced by 7.5 percent. Contributors to the "patient funds" will be entitled to free-of-charge treatment in hospitals and health centers, basic dental services, and some health examinations. The 20 July "Zycie" reported that opponents of the bill said the mandatory contribution should be no less than 11 percent of employees' income in order to adequately support the health care system. The bill is to go into effect on 1 January 1999. JM POLAND INTRODUCES CHEAPER VISAS FOR BELARUSIANS, RUSSIANS. The Polish Foreign Ministry has resolved to reduce the price of visas for Belarusian and Russian nationals, PAP reported on 17 July. As of 1 August , a multiple-entry visa will cost $14 and a single-entry visa $5. According to the ministry, the decision is aimed at facilitating entry for Belarusians and Russians "coming to Poland for trade and economic reasons." Tougher restrictions introduced into Poland's law on foreigners last year have affected mostly traders from Russia and Belarus (see also "End Note" in "RFE/RL Newsline," 16 July 1998). JM ZEMAN NAMED PREMIER, KLAUS ELECTED SPEAKER. Czech President Vaclav Havel formally named Social Democratic leader Milos Zeman prime minister on 17 July, CTK reported. Earlier that day, Havel accepted the resignation of caretaker Premier Josef Tosovsky. In a brief ceremony, Havel said he hopes Zeman's government will have the parliament's trust during its four-year term. Zeman said his government will allow people to create wealth through honest work, not through fraud. The same day, former Premier Vaclav Klaus was elected speaker of the lower house of parliament. Klaus and Zeman have signed an "opposition" agreement in which Klaus promises not to initiate a confidence vote in Zeman's minority government in return for the speakers of both chambers of the parliament and the heads of key committees. PB ZEMAN ANNOUNCES CABINET LINEUP. Zeman on 18 July named the four deputy prime ministers and 15 ministers in the cabinet of his minority government, CTK reported. Senator Jan Kavan has been named foreign minister, Vladimir Vetchy defense minister; Supreme Court chairman Otakar Motejl justice minister; Vaclav Grulich interior minister; Ivo Svoboda finance minister; and Egon Lansky deputy prime minister for coordinating policy with the EU. There are no women in Zeman's government. PB SLOVAK GOVERNMENT MAKES GAINS ON OPPOSITION IN POLL. A poll released on 17 July shows support for Prime Minister Vladimir Meciar's government slightly gaining on support for the combined opposition, Reuters reported. The poll, taken by the independent Focus agency, shows 35.9 percent of respondents voicing support for the government and 55.1 percent for the four main opposition parties. Last month, the government had 33.3 percent and the opposition 59.3 percent. Meciar's Movement for a Democratic Slovakia (HZDS) was the most popular party, favored by 25.9 percent in the poll. The opposition Slovak Democratic Coalition came second with 21.2 percent. Slovaks elect a new parliament in September. PB MECIAR'S PARTY UNVEILS CANDIDATE LIST, PLATFORM. The HZDS released in Trnava on 18 July its list of candidates and its party platform for parliamentary elections in September, CTK reported. Some 17,000 people, many arriving on special trains from throughout Slovakia, gathered at the soccer stadium in this western Slovak town for the announcement. Premier Vladimir Meciar and parliamentary speaker Ivan Gasparovic top the list of 150 candidates, which includes 29 women. The party's election manifesto pledged to secure EU membership for the country by 2005. PB SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE SERBS, UCK CLASH IN RAHOVEC. Serbian security forces and the Kosova Liberation Army (UCK) fought for control of the town of Rahovec in southwestern Kosova over the weekend of 18-19 July. The current situation there remains unclear. Meanwhile, Christopher Hill, who is U.S. ambassador to Macedonia and has conducted talks with the UCK, told RFE/RL's South Slavic Service in a telephone interview on 17 July that the "main problem" for diplomats involved in the Kosovar crisis is that the Kosovars have not agreed on who can represent both the UCK and the political parties in negotiations. In Bonn on 19 July, UCK spokesman Jakup Krasniqi told German SAT 1 television that his organization has chosen its political leaders and will soon make their names public. And in Prishtina, unknown gunmen tried to kill Enver Maloku, who heads the Kosovar news agency KIC, an RFE/RL correspondent reported from the Kosovar capital. PM HEAVY FIGHTING ALONG KOSOVAR-ALBANIAN BORDER. The UCK also clashed with Serbian security forces near the Albanian border at Padesh on 18 July, "Koha Jone" reported. The Albanian daily says that fighting began after a large number of UCK fighters crossed into Kosova from Albania. Namik Dokle, who is deputy speaker of the parliament, told Albanian state television on 20 July that approximately 70 Kosovars died when Serbian forces shelled the border area two days earlier; 19 UCK fighters were injured and fled to Albania. Local authorities flew some of the injured by helicopter to hospitals in Tirana. Another 80 civilians fled to Albania from the area near Padesh, where some were injured by mines and mortar shells as they sought to flee. FS TIRANA CLAIMS BORDER VIOLATION... The Albanian government issued a statement on 18 July charging that Serbian forces fired shells 500 meters into Albanian territory during the fighting. The statement said that "today's Serbian military actions have directly threatened the integrity and sovereignty of...Albania." It continued that "the government...severely denounces these actions, considering them clear provocations aimed at engulfing Albania in the flames of a regional conflict." The statement stressed that Albania remains committed to a peaceful solution but is ready to respond to aggression. "The escalation of Serbian aggressive acts in Kosova against innocent people demonstrates once again that the military machine of Serbian chauvinism cannot be stopped by statements and resolutions but only by concrete, determined, and unequivocal actions." FS ...BUT BELGRADE ISSUES DENIAL. The Yugoslav Foreign Ministry issued a protest on 19 July accusing Albania of being responsible for several recent border violations. The note also stated that Albania has been "indulgent" toward the UCK. Since Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic launched the crackdown in Kosova at the end of February, Tirana and Belgrade have accused each other on several occasions of border violations. In Prishtina, the Yugoslav Third Army issued a statement charging that the infiltrators on 18 July included "five Albanians from Macedonia, six citizens of Saudi Arabia, and one Yemeni national. Four had German documents issued to persons with Arabic names." There has been no independent confirmation of this or other periodic Serbian reports that "Islamic fundamentalists" are fighting on the side of the UCK, which is a secular, nationalist organization. PM ALBANIAN PREMIER WANTS UCK BROUGHT INTO SHADOW STATE. Fatos Nano wrote in an article published in "Zeri i Popullit" on 17 July that the Kosovar shadow state should work to integrate the UCK into their negotiating team, which is authorized to talk to the Serbs and the international community. He stressed, however, that the UCK still has yet to select its political leaders. Meanwhile, the Albanian parliament issued a statement welcoming the first session in years of the shadow state parliament (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 17 July 1998). The statement says that the Albanian legislature "supports the will of the Kosovar population for self-determination through dialogue and peaceful means." FS U.S. SENATE CALLS MILOSEVIC 'WAR CRIMINAL.' The upper house of Congress passed a non-binding resolution on 18 July urging the Hague-based war crimes tribunal to take action against Milosevic on charges of "war crimes, crimes against humanity, and genocide," an RFE/RL correspondent reported from Washington. The text added that Milosevic is the man most responsible for the wars on the territory of the former Yugoslavia. Meanwhile in Kladanj in eastern Bosnia, some 5,000 Muslims attended a prayer service on 18 July to honor those killed in the Srebrenica massacres three years earlier. Participants included Alija Izetbegovic, who is the Muslim member of the Bosnian joint presidency, and Mustafa Ceric, who heads the main Muslim religious organization. PM PLAVSIC SAYS 'SPIRIT OF DAYTON' BIGGEST THREAT TO DAYTON. Republika Srpska President Biljana Plavsic said in Banja Luka that she hopes that the new Bosnian Serb government that takes office after the September elections can be elected in the parliament entirely on the votes of Serbian legislators, "Oslobodjenje" wrote on 20 July. (The current government needs Muslim backing.) Plavsic added that the main threat to what she called the substance of the Dayton agreement is attempts by the international community to make Bosnia a multi-ethnic society again, as it was before the war. She described this foreign commitment to multi- ethnicity as "the spirit of Dayton." And she warned that the Serbs must insist instead on the implementation of what she called the letter of the agreement, which grants specific rights to each ethnic group and to each of the two separate entities, including the Republika Srpska. PM CONCERN IN ALBANIA ABOUT TEENAGE PROSTITUTION. Several representatives of Albanian non-governmental organizations told a recent Tirana conference on trafficking in Albanian women and children that more than 14,000 Albanian women are currently working as prostitutes in west European countries. Between 8,000 and 9,000 are working in Italy, of whom an estimated 2,500 are teenagers., while of the 5,000 or so Albanian prostitutes in Greece, some 700 are under 18. Hundreds of others are working in Austria, France, Holland, Germany, and Britain. Most of the prostitutes come from Albania's rural areas. Speakers said that traffickers often lure girls by false promises of jobs in Western countries, but there have also reports of kidnappings of young girls who are then forced to become prostitutes. FS ROMANIAN PRIME MINISTER UPSET OVER PRIVATIZATION DELAYS. Radu Vasile said on 19 July that he will demand explanations from cabinet ministers about delays in the privatization process in the country, Reuters reported. Vasile said little progress has been made to privatize and restructure industry. He said that Privatization Minister Sorin Dimitriu will be given 30 minutes at the next cabinet meeting to explain the shortcomings and say what he will do to correct them. Vasile said he is "serious" about privatizing the telecommunications utility by September and two large banks by end of the year. In other news, 11 people were jailed on 18 July for their parts in the murder of three Roma in the village of Hadareni in 1993. Three of the defendants were found guilty of murder and the others of destruction of property. PB CONSTANTINESCU KEEPS BEATING NATO DRUM. Romanian President Emil Constantinescu stressed during a meeting with U.S. business leaders in Washington that his country is ready to join NATO, an RFE/RL correspondent reported on 17 July. He said that Romania should have been in the first wave of NATO expansion announced last year and that it has received only a "pat on the back" for its cooperation in military activities with the West. Constantinescu made similar arguments in a meeting earlier that day with U.S. Defense Secretary William Cohen. PB MOLDOVAN, UKRAINIAN FOREIGN MINISTERS DISCUSS BORDER ISSUES. Moldovan Foreign Minister Nicolae Tabacaru met with his Ukrainian counterpart, Borys Tarasyuk, in Chisinau on 17 July to discuss disputed border issues, BASA-press reported. Tabacaru said the talks were constructive and that the three separate disputes over their common border would be resolved simultaneously rather than separately. Tabacaru said Ukraine's proposals are being studied, but he gave no details about those proposals. Tarasyuk also met with Moldovan President Petru Lucinschi, who said Chisinau will work to "consolidate its traditional relationships with Ukraine." PB BULGARIAN PREMIER ANNOUNCES ECONOMIC PROGRAM. Ivan Kostov said on 17 July that the government will tighten fiscal policy and accelerate privatization in an effort to secure an IMF loan, AP reported. Kostov said support from the IMF is necessary to make the transition process "painless" and to maintain a growth rate of 4.5-5 percent over the next three years. IMF mission head Anne McGuirk said after arriving in Sofia on 18 July that talks with the government on securing a three-year, $1.55 billion loan will be complicated. She said Sofia must introduce greater reforms in the social sphere and in its investment program. PB BULGARIA TO BECOME CEFTA MEMBER. Bulgaria on 17 July announced it will join the Central European Free Trade Agreement on 1 January 1999, AP reported. CEFTA includes the Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland, Romania, Slovakia, and Slovenia. The organization plans to phase out tariffs between member states by 2002 and is seen as a stepping stone to membership in the EU. In other news, Deputy Foreign Minister Antoaneta Pramatarova met with EU ambassadors in Sofia and requested that visa requirements for Bulgarians traveling to the EU be eased. Bulgaria and Romania are the only associate EU members whose citizens need visas to enter the EU. PB xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx Copyright (c) 1998 RFE/RL, Inc. 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