|Life is what happens to us while we're making other plans. - John Lennon|
RFE/RL NEWSLINE Vol. 2, No. 142 Part II, 27 July 1998
___________________________________________________________ RFE/RL NEWSLINE Vol. 2, No. 142 Part II, 27 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 * OSCE CONCERNED ABOUT SLOVAK ELECTION CAMPAIGN * SERBS LAUNCH MAJOR OFFENSIVE IN KOSOVA * HAS U.S. DROPPED PLANS TO CATCH KARADZIC, MLADIC? xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx EAST-CENTRAL EUROPE TRADE UNION CONDEMNS LUKASHENKA'S 'SLANDEROUS' STATEMENT. The leadership of the trade union representing workers in the automobile and agricultural-machine industries has condemned President Alyaksandr Lukashenka's statements about trade unions in a recent interview with the Russian newspaper "Chest i rodina," Belapan reported on 24 July. The televised interview was broadcast by Belarusian Television on 17 July, two days after workers had rallied in Minsk (see RFE/RL Newsline," 16 July 1998). The trade union's statement says Lukashenka made "a number of false and slanderous statements, gross attacks and threats against Belarusian trade unions." Lukashenka told "Chest i rodina" that trade union leaders have misappropriated money allotted by the state for health care and are involved in money-laundering. Belarus's independent trade unions are financed by the West to be a "transmitter of Western people's interests" in Belarus, he added. JM UKRAINIAN PARLIAMENT PASSES BUDGET RESOLUTION. The Supreme Council concluded its session on 24 July by passing a 1999 budget resolution, Ukrainian Television reported. The legislators granted the government the right to set a budget deficit, providing it can find funds to cover all social programs. During its three-month session, the parliament rejected two economic presidential decrees and failed to consider another 12, thus allowing them to go into force automatically. Another 17 decrees signed by President Leonid Kuchma in June will go into force if lawmakers fail to veto or consider them after reconvening on 1 September. JM FRANCE PLEDGES TO EXPAND TIES WITH UKRAINE. French Foreign Minister Hubert Vedrine said in Kyiv on 24 July that France wants to expand ties with Ukraine both on a bilateral basis and within the sphere of European policies, Ukrainian Radio reported. Vedrine stressed that France "is convinced of Ukraine's strategic role in Europe" and pledges to support Ukraine's bid to become an EU associate member. According to Reuters, Vedrine backed Ukrainian efforts to win a much- needed $2 billion loan from the IMF. President Kuchma and Vedrine agreed that during French President Jacques Chirac's visit to Ukraine in September, the two countries will create a new mechanism for top-level bilateral consultations. JM BALTIC STATES TO ADOPT JOINT STANCE ON 1999 NATO SUMMIT. Meeting in Klaipeda, Lithuania, on 25 July, the presidents of the three Baltic States agreed to formulate a joint stance on the 1999 NATO summit, which is expected to discuss the second wave of the alliance's expansion, ETA reported. They will meet again in the fall to discuss the issue. The 25 July meeting, which took place at the close of the "Baltic Challenge" exercises, was also attended by Polish President Aleksander Kwasniewski. Kwasniewski said that Poland "feels responsible" for the Baltics and other NATO aspirants and will support their bids to join the alliance. JC ALBRIGHT WELCOMES AMENDMENTS TO LATVIAN CITIZENSHIP LAW. In an interview broadcast on Latvian Television on 26 July, U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright said she welcomes the recently passed amendments to the Latvian citizenship law, ITAR-TASS reported the next day. Albright noted that the changes are in keeping with OSCE requirements. JC LITHUANIAN FARMERS THREATEN PROTEST ACTIONS. Farmers are threatening to block roads throughout the country to protest the government's failure to fix minimum prices at which they can sell their produce to processing companies, BNS reported on 24 July. The government had planned to determine those prices by 1 June. Farmers' organizations say they want the issue resolved by 28 July, when President Valdas Adamkus is scheduled to meet with representatives of the government and the farmers' organizations. Farmers want the government to raise the minimal prices of milk, grain, and other products. JC SOLIDARITY COALITION LEFT WEAKENED FOLLOWING DEPARTURE OF DEPUTIES. The six deputies of the Polish Family group who left Solidarity Electoral Action's (AWS) parliamentary caucus have issued a joint statement explaining their move (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 24 July 1998), PAP reported on 24 July. The deputies pointed to Poland's subjugation to the "dictate of Brussels, the non-implementation of a universal property enfranchisement program, and the lack of a pro- family [government] policy." According to one of the deputies, the sale of the Gdansk shipyard had "tipped the scales" in taking their decision. Earlier this summer, Adam Slomka and Jan Lopuszanski were dismissed from the AWS for not voting with the rest of the caucus; seven other deputies quit the group in solidarity with them (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 8 June 1998). Since then, the AWS caucus has diminished from 201 to 186 deputies. JM NEW RIGHT-WING COALITION SET UP IN POLAND. Adam Slomka, chairman of the Confederation for an Independent Poland- Patriotic Camp (KPN-OP), has announced the creation of a new right-wing coalition, PAP reported on 25 July. According to Slomka, the coalition's first task will be to participate in local elections in Poland this fall. The coalition is to form its own parliamentary caucus by September. Slomka said the initiative to create a new bloc was due to the failure of the AWS to keep its election promises. Slomka admitted that the new coalition is a response to the AWS caucus's decision to exclude KPN-OP deputies from its ranks. JM POLISH PREMIER TAKES OVER EUROPEAN INTEGRATION COMMITTEE. Jerzy Buzek has taken over the chairmanship of the Committee for European Integration which has been plagued by internal conflicts among its leading members, AP reported on 27 July. Former committee chairman Ryszard Czarnecki was criticized for incompetence after the EU cut aid to Poland by $35 million (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 21 July 1998). Buzek told Polish Radio on 27 July that the committee must function better in order to defend "Poland's vital interests" in negotiations with the EU. JM HAVEL UNDERGOES SURGERY. President Vaclav Havel on 26 July underwent surgery designed to reconnect his large intestine to the rest of his digestive tract by closing a hole left following the emergency operation he underwent last April in Austria for a perforated colon. The surgery was performed by the Austrian doctor who operated on Havel in April. Dr. Ernst Boder told journalists that the surgery "went quite well, without any complications or surprises." Havel is expected to spend two to three weeks in hospital, followed by some six weeks of convalescence at home. MS OSCE CONCERNED ABOUT SLOVAK ELECTION CAMPAIGN. The OSCE on 24 July said it has "major concerns" about the conditions for political campaigning in Slovakia in the run-up to the September parliamentary elections, an RFE/RL correspondent reported. A spokesman for the OSCE's Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights said the organization is particularly concerned about restrictions imposed on campaigning in private and local electronic media. Another area of concern is the requirement for a 5 percent threshold that also applies to individual parties belonging to alliances. The spokesman said that, along with other provisions of the amended electoral law, that threshold has forced a substantial part of the opposition to restructure within a very short period and "under complex and vague administrative procedures." The OSCE will set up a monitoring mission in Slovakia in August. MS ORBAN HESITANT ABOUT HUNGARIAN INVOLVEMENT IN KOSOVA. Prime Minister Viktor Orban told journalists in Brussels on 24 July that Hungary "would like to be more cautious" about the possible involvement of its forces in Kosova than it was in the case of Bosnia. He said the large number of ethnic Hungarians living in Serbia, as well as the fact that some 500 ethnic Hungarian conscripts serve in the Yugoslav army in Kosova, mean it is necessary "to make a clear distinction" between the two conflicts. He added that "Hungary would not like to be involved" in a possible intervention in Kosova. Orban spoke after his first meeting as premier with NATO Secretary-General Javier Solana. He said Hungary is trying to convince the Serbian government that ethnic Hungarian soldiers should not be involved in the crisis. MS SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE SERBS LAUNCH MAJOR OFFENSIVE IN KOSOVA. Serbian paramilitary police and Yugoslav troops backed by tanks and artillery began an offensive in several places in Kosova on 24 July. Serbian and Kosovar sources alike reported casualties on both sides, although there was no independent confirmation of the number of casualties or the extent of the fighting. The Serbian attacks appear aimed at taking control of the Prishtina-Peja and Prishtina-Prizren roads, as well as the region along the Albanian border. In so doing, Serbian forces would also cut into several pieces the main swath of territory controlled by the Kosova Liberation Army (UCK). Observers said that the Serbian forces seek to maintain their momentum in the wake of their victories the previous week, when they blocked attempts by the UCK to take the town of Rahovec and to infiltrate up to 1,000 men into Kosova from Albania on two separate occasions. PM ALBANIAN BORDER POST UNDER FIRE. Serbian forces fired machine guns at the border post and village of Morina on the Albanian side of the border along the Prizren-Kukes road on 26 July. The police chief of the Kukes region told Radio Tirana that the attack was unprovoked. Yugoslav army spokesmen in Nis said that security forces clashed with groups of armed Albanians attempting to cross into Kosova. This is the latest in a series of incidents in which Albania has charged Yugoslavia with firing on Albanian territory (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 20 July 1998). In Skopje, spokesmen for the Defense Ministry said on 26 July that Macedonian border guards the previous day exchanged fire with "large armed groups" of Albanians trying to cross into Macedonia in the Mount Korab area, where Kosova, Albania, and Macedonia meet. PM KOSOVARS APPEAL TO INTERNATIONAL COMMUNITY. Kosovar shadow- state President Ibrahim Rugova said on 24 July in Prishtina that an international protectorate over Kosova is the only way to stop what he called "the massacres by Serbian military and police forces of the [ethnic] Albanian population." The next day, his Democratic League of Kosova appealed in a statement to the U.S., NATO, the UN, and the EU to exert pressure on Belgrade to end the military offensive. In other news, Belgrade's Tanjug news agency reported on 26 July that Serbian forces have recaptured the Zociste monastery, which the UCK took control of the previous week (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 24 July 1998). PM ALBANIAN PREMIER AGAIN CALLS FOR POLITICAL SOLUTION. Fatos Nano has repeated calls for a peaceful settlement of the Kosova conflict. During a meeting with German Interior Ministry State Secretary Kurt Schelter in Tirana on 24 July, Nano said that "the Albanian government insists that the crisis in Kosova be solved by political means," adding that "it is important that [all Kosovar political forces] speak with one voice to the international community." Nano promised to curb arms smuggling into Kosova, while Schelter pledged assistance for Kosovar refugees in Albania and help in training Albanian police. Germany has provided aid in setting up a police academy in Albania and given vehicles to the Albanian police. The two countries recently agreed on a three-year plan for cooperation between their police forces. FS ALBANIA'S BERISHA UNDER PRESSURE TO END PARLIAMENT BOYCOTT. Former Democratic Party leader Tritan Shehu in an article in "Gazeta Shqiptare" on 25 July criticized the Democrats' recent decision to boycott the parliament and have no dealings with Tirana-appointed local government officials (see "RFE/RL Newsline" 23 July 1998). Shehu stressed that "democracy means the broad participation of everybody, and to exclude someone from that participation is a crime. To exclude yourself from it [brings you] misfortune." He added that "unfortunately..., we are far from [having] a truly democratic outlook." OSCE ambassador Daan Everts, in an interview published the following day in "Koha Jone," said that Democratic leader and former President Sali Berisha, who proposed the boycott, should not ignore the advice he has since received from the international community to reverse his decision. FS HAS U.S. DROPPED PLANS TO CATCH KARADZIC, MLADIC? The "New York Times" wrote on 26 July that "after spending more than two years and tens of millions of dollars preparing missions, training commandos and gathering intelligence, the U.S. has dropped its secret plans to arrest Bosnia's two most wanted men accused of war crimes, senior administration officials say." The daily added that the administration has shelved the plans to capture Radovan Karadzic and General Ratko Mladic because of French opposition and out of fears of causing "a blood bath" and provoking fresh Serbian aggression. Observers noted, however, that the myth of Serbian invincibility was shattered by the Croatian-Muslim offensive of 1995 and that a more plausible reason for Washington's decision might be so as not to create political difficulties for the current Bosnian Serb leadership, which the international community supports. PM ARBOUR BLASTS BOSNIAN SERB AUTHORITIES. Louise Arbour, who is the chief prosecutor for the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia, said in The Hague on 24 July that the Bosnian Serb authorities are not only avoiding their obligations under the Dayton agreement to help bring indicted war criminals to justice, but they have "also been engaged in deliberately frustrating the tribunal's work by issuing false identification papers to those persons indicted by the tribunal in an attempt to shield them from the tribunal's jurisdiction." She was referring to an incident the previous week in which British SAS commandos captured two indicted war criminals and sent them to The Hague, only to find out soon afterward that they had arrested the wrong men (see "RFE./RL Newsline," 24 July 1998). PM INTERPOL ARRESTS NADA SAKIC. Officials of Interpol placed Nada Sakic under house arrest in Santa Teresita, Argentina, on 24 July. Spokesmen for the Croatian Justice Ministry said in Zagreb two days later that they will seek her extradition from the South American country, 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. Yugoslav authorities have already said they will seek Nada Sakic's extradition. PM HUNGARIAN PREMIER IN ROMANIA. Viktor Orban, during a private visit to Romania on 25 July, met with Prime Minister Radu Vasile and President Emil Constantinescu to discuss bilateral relations and minority problems. Orban said after meeting with Vasile that "protocol has been replaced by friendship and sincerity." He said he is convinced that "both sides are ready for a dialogue" but rather than building future relations on "illusions and hopes," they must be forged on the basis of "concrete results." Vasile informed Orban about the setting up of a government commission to study the feasibility of a Hungarian-language university in Cluj, saying the commission must be "allowed to work without stirring up emotions." Orban also expressed support for the ethnic Hungarians' demands to set up the university. MS ROMANIAN 'CIGARETTE AFFAIR' LINKED TO INTERNATIONAL TERRORISM. Nineteen people were indicted on 24 July in connection with the cigarette smuggling affair uncovered in April, RFE/RL's Bucharest bureau reported. A military prosecutor in Bucharest said the smuggling affair had been headed by Arab nationals who had managed to flee the country and that the money derived from the smuggling operations "was reaching certain terrorist groups." He declined to provide further details, saying they would "affect national security." In other news, the controversial Mayor of Cluj Gheorghe Funar said after a meeting of his supporters in the newly-founded Party of Romanian Unity Alliance that the party will start a campaign for gathering signatures in favor of requesting that its registration application be re- examined. He added that for now, the party will not join the Greater Romania Party. MS BESSARABIAN METROPOLITAN CHURCH APPEALS AGAIN TO TRIBUNAL. The Bessarabian Metropolitan Church on 24 July again appealed to the Chisinau Court of Appeals against the government's refusal to register it, RFE/RL's Chisinau bureau reported. The Church was re-established six years ago and is subordinated to the Bucharest Patriarchate. In September 1997, the Court of Appeals ruled in favor of the Church's complaint against the government, but the ruling was later annulled by the Supreme Court on procedural grounds. The Bessarabian Church has also complained to the European Court for Human Rights. The Moldovan government recognizes the Moldovan Orthodox Church, which is subordinated to the Moscow Patriarchate. MS BULGARIAN PARLIAMENT BACKS IMF LOAN PLAN. The parliament on 24 July approved a resolution backing the government's efforts to obtain a three-year loan from the IMF as well as loans from other global lenders, Reuters reported. Both the Bulgarian government and the IMF said they hope the deal will be approved by the IMF board in September. The IMF wants Bulgaria to toughen economic policies, including curbs on pay rises, hikes in energy-related prices, stricter financial discipline and transparency, more structural reforms and better conditions for the private sector. In other news, Georgi Kaschiev, chairman of the Atomic Energy Committee, told Reuters on 24 July that the committee has ordered checks into safety qualifications of staff at the Kozloduy nuclear plant following operational mishaps earlier this year. Those mishaps did not affect radiation levels. MS xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx Copyright (c) 1998 RFE/RL, Inc. All rights reserved. xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx HOW TO SUBSCRIBE Send an email to email@example.com with the word subscribe as the subject of the message. HOW TO UNSUBSCRIBE Send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org with the word unsubscribe as the subject of the message. 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