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RFE/RL NEWSLINE Vol. 2, No. 146 Part II, 31 July 1998
___________________________________________________________ RFE/RL NEWSLINE Vol. 2, No. 146 Part II, 31 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 * MECIAR SAYS ETHNIC HUNGARIANS HAVE ENOUGH RIGHTS IN SLOVAKIA * SEARCH UNDER WAY FOR REFUGEES IN KOSOVA * KINKEL WARNS UCK End Note: KLAUS-ZEMAN PACT COULD END CZECH INSTABILITY xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx EAST-CENTRAL EUROPE PENTAGON TO PROLONG SUBSIDIES FOR UKRAINIAN DISARMAMENT. The U.S. Defense Department will continue to provide financial assistance to Ukraine to destroy its mass destruction weapons, ITAR-TASS reported on 30 July. Ukraine will receive $76.7 million to destroy SS-19 missiles, some 40 strategic bombers, and some 1,000 cruise missiles. The Pentagon will also allocate $630,000 to help tighten Ukraine's control over nonproliferation of arms outside its borders and $73 million for conversion of defense enterprises. Over the past six years, Ukraine has received $520 million in such aid. JM MINISTER SAYS IMF TO APPROVE $2.5 BILLION LOAN TO UKRAINE. Economy Minister Vasyl Rohovyy has said the IMF is expected to approve a $2.5 billion loan to Ukraine, Interfax and AP reported on 30 July. According to Rohovyy, an IMF mission currently in Kyiv agrees that Ukraine has met most preliminary conditions for the loan. IMF experts welcomed the government's steps to draft a realistic budget, increase budget revenues, and reduce tax breaks. If their recommendation is positive, the IMF board will make a final decision on the loan in late August or early September, Rohovyy told Interfax. Two days earlier, the IMF mission chief said there are "significant successes" in Ukraine's economic reform but several issues must still be resolved. JM DIRECTOR OF BELARUSIAN-LANGUAGE LYCEE SACKED. The Belarusian Education Ministry has replaced Uladzimir Kolas, the director of the Belarusian Lycee for the Humanities, with a ministry appointee, RFE/RL Belarusian Service informed on 30 July. The lycee is the only high school in Minsk in which all subjects are taught in Belarusian. Over the past two years, students and their parents have protested the government's plan to merge the lycee with another high school. They suspect the government's real intent is to abolish the school. On 14 July, the government changed the status of the school but pledged to leave its staff intact. The lycee's deputy director, Lyavon Barscheuski, who is also acting chairman of the opposition Belarusian Popular Front, said Kolas's replacement by someone "more obedient to the government" is a step toward closing down the school. JM BELARUS TO ENCOURAGE BEST HARVEST WORKERS... The Belarusian government will hold a competition this year aimed at rewarding the best harvest workers, ITAR-TASS reported. A 31 July resolution says 12 automobiles, 24 motorcycles, 24 refrigerators, and 138 television sets will be awarded to the best harvester operators and truck drivers. The government will also give medals, diplomas, and money awards to outstanding kolkhoz workers. The Finance Ministry is to allocate 16 billion Belarusian rubles ($380,000) in incentives for harvest workers. JM ...TO ADOPT 'SPECIAL OPERATION MODE' FOR HARVEST TIME. Belarusian President Alyaksandr Lukashenka told a televised nationwide conference on 31 July that beginning 3 August, the country will switch over to a "special operation mode." "All forces will be thrown into the battle for harvesting crops," ITAR-TASS quoted Lukashenka as saying. According to the president, the battle will continue until 1 September, when "basic agricultural crops" are expected to be harvested. Lukashenka said "it's is necessary to have bread" in order to preserve the country's sovereignty. "We know what is going on around the republic: we are being perpetually kicked everywhere; everybody is trying to suppress Belarus," he commented. Lukashenka announced that his special representatives will be sent to Belarusian regions on 3 August to directly oversee the harvest. JM BIRKAVS SAYS RUSSIA CANNOT OBJECT TO BORDER DEMARCATION. Speaking to BNS on 30 July, Latvian Foreign Minister Valdis Birkavs said Russia can have no objections to Riga's decision to begin the unilateral demarcation of their joint border (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 30 July 1998). He stressed the demarcation will go ahead along those parts of the border that are not contested by either country. In addition, he said, the "strengthening of the border" will be advantageous to both Latvia and Russia as the main goals of that move are to eliminate smuggling and illegal immigration. Meanwhile, Russian Foreign Ministry officials declined to comment on Birkavs's statement, saying they do not have "full or accurate" information. The ministry has asked the Russian embassy in Riga to make a detailed report on the Latvian minister's remarks. JC AMONG BALTS, LITHUANIANS MOST SUPPORTIVE OF NATO MEMBERSHIP. According to a survey carried out by the Saar Poll company in March, Lithuania is the most enthusiastic of the Baltic States about NATO membership, Interfax reported on 30 July. Some 55 percent of respondents in Lithuania welcomed government efforts to join the alliance, while the corresponding figures for Estonia and Latvia are 54 percent and 47 percent. Andres Saar, the head of the Saar Poll company, said Lithuania is more upbeat about joining NATO owing to a successful campaign on clarifying the issue and the "more homogeneous" composition of the population. In Estonia, there is more enthusiasm for simultaneous membership in NATO and the EU (30 percent) than in Latvia (26 percent) and 23 percent (Lithuania). Support for a referendum on joining NATO totaled 51 percent in Lithuania, 43 percent in Estonia, and 37 percent in Latvia. JC LITHUANIAN GOVERNMENT FIXES MINIMUM GRAIN PRICES. The Lithuanian government has approved the minimum prices at which processing companies can purchase grain from farmers, BNS reported on 29 July. It also allocated 40 million litas ($10 million) from the Privatization Fund to subsidize purchases at the new prices. Another 5 million litas in subsidies will come from the Countryside Support Fund. Last week, farmers had threatened nationwide protests if their demand for minimum purchase prices were not met. JC GDANSK SHIPYARD APPEALS COURT DECISION ON SALE. The bankrupt Gdansk shipyard has filed an appeal against a court ruling whereby the shipyard would be sold to a consortium that includes the Gdynia shipyard (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 24 July 1998), AP reported. The court ruling said the Gdansk shipyard board failed to prove it can pay off the shipyard's debt of 628 million zloty ($182 million) and that the Gdynia shipyard's offer is the "most profitable and credible." The consortium has reportedly pledged to pay $29 million for the Gdansk shipyard and spend $100 million by 2010 on modernization and creating 1,500 new jobs. The decision drew criticism from the ruling Solidarity Electoral Action, six of whose deputies quit the parliamentary caucus to protest the government's failure to bail out the cradle of the Solidarity movement. JM CZECH-GERMAN TENSIONS OVER ZEMAN REMARKS. Czech government spokesman Libor Roucek on 30 July said Prime Minister Milos Zeman has "no reason to apologize" over remarks made on 25 July criticizing the participation of the Sudeten German Expellee Organization in the Czech-German Discussion Forum, established under the 1997 Czech-German declaration. Zeman said that the organization was not among those that supported the declaration and that he can see "no reason" why it should be represented in the forum, "just as there are no representatives of the Communists or the Republicans [who also opposed the declaration] on our side." German Finance Minister Theo Waigel demanded an apology from Zeman, and Foreign Minster Klaus Kinkel said in Berlin after meeting with his Czech counterpart, Jan Kavan, that he finds Zeman's comparison "unacceptable", CTK reported. MS MECIAR SAYS ETHNIC HUNGARIANS HAVE ENOUGH RIGHTS IN SLOVAKIA. Slovak Prime Minister Vladimir Meciar said on 30 July that ethnic minorities in Slovakia, including Hungarians, enjoy more widespread rights than the average minority in Europe, Hungarian media reported, citing an interview broadcast on Slovak Television. Meciar told two British journalists that "the survival of the Hungarian minority is guaranteed by the high birth rate of Gypsies, who consider themselves Hungarian." In other news, visiting Italian Prime Minister Romano Prodi on 30 July told journalists in Bratislava that he will support Slovakia's bid to join the EU no matter who wins the parliamentary elections in September. Asked whether he agreed with the U.S. and EU concerns over the elections, Prodi said in the presence of Meciar that during visits abroad, his main principle is "never to interfere in the internal affairs" of the other country. MSZ/MS FIDESZ ELECTS BUDAPEST MAYORAL CANDIDATE. The Budapest board of the Federation of Young Democrats-Hungarian Civic Party (FIDESZ-MPP) on 30 July elected Janos Latorcai as mayoral candidate in the fall local elections. Latorcai was recommended by the FIDESZ-MPP national board and the party's steering committee. Tamas Tirts, chairman of the Budapest board, said the Hungarian Christian Democratic Alliance, the Hungarian Democratic Forum, and the Independent Smallholders' Party had also expressed support for Latorcai. MSZ SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE SEARCH UNDER WAY FOR REFUGEES IN KOSOVA. Teams from the office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees and other international relief workers searched remote areas of Kosova for refugees on 30 July. Investigators found one group of 500 Kosovars, including women and children, in the hill country near Malisheva, an RFE/RL correspondent reported from Prishtina (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 30 July 1998). Another large group of civilians took refuge in a railroad tunnel, CNN noted. Wolfgang Ischinger, who is the German member of a EU delegation visiting the region, said that Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic promised to help the refugees go home but Ischinger added that Milosevic will first need to implement "additional confidence-building measures." Ischinger said that he and his EU colleagues found a "wasteland" in Kosova and were "shocked" at what they saw. In Geneva, the UNHCR's Sagato Ogata told CNN that the Kosovar refugee situation is quickly becoming "catastrophic." PM ANOTHER SREBRENICA IN THE MAKING? The Kosova Helsinki Committee said in a statement issued in Prishtina and Vienna on 31 July that it is concerned about "reports of victims and other casualties of the Serbian offensive and reported massacres of the [ethnic] Albanian civilian population in the towns of Rahovec...[and] Malisheva." The text added that "a wave of reprisals" has already taken place in Rahovec, "with the basic message that [ethnic] Albanian civilians will die wherever UCK guerrilla fighters achieve a foothold." The committee and International Helsinki Federation for Human Rights, the statement continued, fear that the ongoing Serbian siege of Junik near the Albanian border could lead to "a Srebrenica-like situation, with massive killings of besieged [ethnic] Albanian civilians." PM RUBIN SAYS MILOSEVIC HOLDING UP KOSOVAR TALKS. U.S. State Department Spokesman James Rubin said on 30 July that recent negotiations between U.S. diplomats and representatives of various Kosovar groups have resulted in an agreement that the Kosova Liberation Army (UCK) will be "directly or indirectly" represented in any future negotiations on the province's future. Rubin added that it is Milosevic's fault that the Kosovars have not yet agreed on the exact composition of their team. "We hold the Serbian authorities responsible for the civilian casualties and the civilian disruptions and murders...resulting from these military operations. And we hold [Milosevic specifically] responsible. And whether he is trying to sabotage the negotiating process [by continuing his armed crackdown] is a question only he can answer." Milosevic said in Belgrade on 30 July that the Serbian offensive is over, but Kosovar and Western news media reported that it is continuing. PM KINKEL WARNS UCK. German Foreign Minister Klaus Kinkel told the "Berliner Zeitung" of 31 July that the UCK's continuing military actions could cost the Kosovars the sympathy of the international community that they currently enjoy. He warned the UCK to drop its "three illusions," namely that it can obtain independence, NATO support, and a military victory over the Serbs. The minister added that NATO could help to guarantee any future agreement on Kosovar autonomy because "Milosevic is not in a position to restore peace and order" to Kosova. Kinkel said that NATO is considering a possible "preventive deployment" of forces to Albania within the framework of the Partnership for Peace Program. He did not elaborate. PM ANOTHER EXPLOSION IN BOSNIA. An explosive device went off in Muslim-controlled Travnik on 31 July across the street from a joint Muslim and Croatian police station. The blast killed an ethnic Croat policeman and injured a child. Police are investigating. It is the fifth explosion in Bosnia in recent days, AP reported (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 30 July 1998). Meanwhile in Sarajevo, spokesmen for SFOR said that a contingent of 350 troops and 100 vehicles will arrive in the Croatian port of Ploce on 2 August. The new forces will be based in Sarajevo and have been trained in ensuring public order and facilitating the return of refugees. PM SERBS RETURN TO CROATIA. An initial group of 26 Serbs returned on 30 July from federal Yugoslavia to the Dvor na Uni region of Croatia near the Bosnian frontier. A Croatian government spokesman said in Sisak that some 300 Serbs have gone home from Yugoslavia recently and that an additional 5,300 have registered with the office of the UNHCR in Yugoslavia to do so. The international community has repeatedly made it clear to Croatia that its future integration into Euro-Atlantic structures will depend on increased democratization and on the ability of refugees to go home. PM CROATIA PROTESTS SLOVENIAN POWER CUT. In Zagreb, officials of the state power company said on 30 July that the Croatian economy will not be seriously affected by the Slovenian authorities' move earlier that day to stop electricity supplies to Croatia from the nuclear power facility at Krsko. The Croatian officials called the Slovenian decision "illegal and unauthorized," Croatian media reported. Slovenian officials claim that Croatia owes about $15 million for previous deliveries from Krsko. Under communism, Croatia helped finance the construction of the facility, which is the former Yugoslavia's only nuclear power plant. Slovenia recently recognized Croatia's right to 50 percent co-ownership of Krsko, but tensions over its financing and use have continued. PM ALBANIAN PREMIER ORDERS ACTION AGAINST ORGANIZED CRIME. Fatos Nano, at a meeting of the government's National Security Committee on 31 July in Tirana, ordered Interior Minister Perikli Teta to prepare a detailed plan by 20 August for fighting organized crime. Nano stressed that the government must pay special attention to corruption within the police, which he said was in some cases "at the center of organized crime." Nano urged the Ministries of Interior and Defense and the secret service to cooperate more closely in fighting crime, especially in the northeast, "Gazeta Shqiptare" reported. In particular, the northeastern regions of Tropoja, Bajram Curri, and Kukes have become notorious for lawlessness. Armed gangs, arms smugglers, and soldiers of the UCK operate freely there. FS FBI TIRANA OFFICE ROBBED. Unidentified individuals broke into the office of the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation and stole one passport and more than $2,500 in cash on 29 July, "Shekulli" reported on two days later. A police spokesman said that the FBI uses the office, located in central Tirana's Palace of Congresses, only for translating Albanian newspapers. The FBI also helps train Albanian police and assisted its Albanian counterpart in investigating an influx of forged $100 bills earlier this year. FS ROMANIAN EDUCATION MINISTER STILL OPPOSED TO HUNGARIAN UNIVERSITY. Andrei Marga said in a press release on 30 July that the debate on setting up a Hungarian-language university in Transylvania has been "regrettably transformed into a state problem." Marga said he is still opposed to the idea and that "multi-culturalism", as promoted by the Babes- Bolyai Cluj university when he was its dean has proved a "viable solution" for meeting the requirements of ethnic minority education. In an apparent response to the Hungarian announcement that Budapest is ready to finance the Hungarian-language university, Marga said that higher education in Romania is in accordance with the decisions of the parliament. He also said that no international institution has stated it favors "educational separatism" in Romania. MS MOLDOVAN DISPUTE OVER BULGARIAN NUCLEAR WASTE TRANSIT. The Moldovan government says it supports the Bulgarian request to approve the transit of nuclear waste from the Bulgarian Kozloduy plant to Russia via Moldova and Ukraine, but a majority among the parliamentary deputies are opposed to such an arrangement, RFE/RL's Chisinau bureau reported on 30 July. Deputy Premier Nicolae Andronic said that the nuclear waste accumulated at Kozloduy might "lead to a nuclear disaster" at a site located only some 600 kilometers from Chisinau. Environment Protection Minister Arcadie Capcelea opposes the transit, saying it would be in breach of Moldovan legislation. In other news, the parliament on 30 July approved the resignation of Prosecutor-General Dumitru Postovan, submitted in early July. Parliamentary chairman Dumitru Diacov submitted the candidacy of Chisinau Prosecutor-General Valeriu Catana, but the proposal met with opposition from the Democratic Convention of Moldova and the Party of Democratic Forces. MS BULGARIA OPPOSES KOSOVA INDEPENDENCE. President Petar Stoyanov on 3O July said in Toronto that an escalation of the conflict in Kosova might negatively impact on Bulgarian reform, AP reported. Foreign Ministry spokesman Radko Vlaikov said the previous day that Bulgaria "shares the views of the international community" about the need to solve the conflict in Kosova, "including the granting of a broad autonomy" to the region. "At the same time," he added, "we agree with the international community that there can be no question of granting independence," BTA reported. Vlaikov said that the Kosova Albanians' demands for independence are "indefensible" from the point of view of international law and a "redrawing of borders is inadmissible." MS BULGARIA, IMF REACH LOAN ACCORD. The IMF and the Bulgarian government on 30 July reached a "general agreement" on a three-year loan to Bulgaria, AP reported. The amount has yet to be announced. Chief IMF negotiator Anne McGuirk told journalists she hopes a memorandum of understanding will be signed on 31 July. That memorandum will have to be approved by the IMF board at its meeting in September. In other news, Reuters reported on 30 July that Yordan Sokolov, chairman of a parliamentary commission on crime and corruption, has opened an investigation into Air Sofia. Sokolov said that the investigation was necessary because of numerous accidents in which the company has been involved and accusations that Air Sofia was involved in a cigarette smuggling scandal in April. MS END NOTE KLAUS-ZEMAN PACT COULD END CZECH INSTABILITY by Juergen Herda The anger in some political circles over the agreement between Milos Zeman's Social Democrats (CSSD) and the Civic Democratic Party (ODS) of Vaclav Klaus is largely unjustified. Many critics have nobody but themselves to blame that the two rivals closed a deal allowing Zeman to form a government with the toleration of his conservative rival. As the head of the party that won the most votes in the June elections, Zeman received a mandate from President Vaclav Havel to form a government. The Social Democrat then did everything in his power to try to form a workable coalition with two smaller parties: Josef Lux's Christian Democrats (KDU-CSL) and the Freedom Union (US) of Jan Ruml and Vladimir Mlynar. When it was clear that Lux would agree to such a coalition, Zeman's hopes of forming a government backed by a majority in the parliament hinged on the Freedom Union. Ruml and Mlynar, however, turned down all his proposals. Zeman had already gone out of his way to accommodate the smaller parties by offering to give the prime minister's job to Lux, four cabinet jobs to the Union , and a veto right on all major issues to each of his two coalition partners. The reason for the Freedom Union's stance was not--as the party's leaders claimed--because of the party's conservative ideological principles but rather because of a miscalculation. The Union leadership expected that Zeman would fail to form a government and that Havel would then give Klaus the mandate to do so. That would open the way for a revival of the former Klaus government, albeit with some new faces around the cabinet table. But that did not happen, and the Union leadership missed an opportunity to advance its program through bargaining within a three-party coalition in which Zeman had promised that all policies would be negotiable. Once Zeman's efforts to cut a deal with the KDU-CSL and the Freedom Union had failed, the leaderships of the CSSD and ODS signed a document on 9 July, called the Agreement on Establishing Stable Political Relationships in the Czech Republic. The pact set down the basic rules for an arrangement in which the CSSD would form a minority government tolerated by the ODS. The deal gave Klaus's party the chairmanship of both houses of the parliament plus a pledge that the two parties would divide up legislative committee chairmanships among themselves. The CSSD and ODS agreed in the interest of political stability not to support a vote of no confidence in the government and not to change coalition partners. The centerpiece of the agreement--and its most controversial aspect--was a pledge to introduce constitutional changes within one year. The most important of these would be to replace the current electoral system, which is based on proportional representation, with one based on the principle of first-past-the-post. The leaders of the ODS and CSSD noted that the results of the June vote made it impossible to easily form a government backed by a parliamentary majority and argued that the wrangling over possible coalitions gave undue influence to the smaller parties and to Havel. The changes, the ODS and CSSD leaderships added, would give power only to those who win the most votes. Lux and Ruml were naturally alarmed by this agreement, which would mean that their parties could be completely shut out of the parliament. And the new cabinet did not meet with universal approval. Critics noted that the average age of its members is rather high and that it contains no women. The two most popular Social Democrats, namely Petra Buzkova and Stanislav Gross, were not included in the government and took prominent jobs in the parliament instead. The president's office, in particular, raised objections to the appointment of Jan Kavan as foreign minister on the grounds that many suspect him of having had contacts with the former Czechoslovak secret service during his years as a political in exile in the U.K. Zeman, for his part, rejected all the criticism and pointed out that there is no evidence against Kavan that could lead to opening a court case against him. Supporters of the Zeman-Klaus pact, moreover, argue that it will provide stability and hence facilitate the processes of political and economic transformation and the integration of the Czech Republic into Euro-Atlantic structures. With a clear majority in the parliament, the two ideological rivals will be able to join forces to tackle a host of sensitive issues that no one party would want to take on alone. Once they have instituted the planned constitutional changes, the ODS and CSSD can end their agreement and call new elections. Then the voters will be able to choose between social democratic and conservative alternatives. Pluralism will be served because different interest groups will be able to advance their causes as factions within the large parties, as is the case in the U.S. and other countries with a two-party system. And the key to a healthy democracy lies in a functioning arrangement of checks and balances, not in the number of parties that sit in the parliament. Translated from the German by Patrick Moore. The author is an editor of the weekly "Prager Zeitung" and a writer on Central European political affairs. xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx Copyright (c) 1998 RFE/RL, Inc. 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