|When in doubt, tell the truth. - Mark Twain|
RFE/RL NEWSLINE Vol. 2, No. 147 Part II, 3 August 1998
___________________________________________________________ RFE/RL NEWSLINE Vol. 2, No. 147 Part II, 3 August 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 * IMF MISSION TO RECOMMEND $2.2 BILLION LOAN TO UKRAINE * SERBS KEEP UP OFFENSIVE * PLIGHT OF REFUGEES WORSENS End Note: PRIMAKOV'S 19TH CENTURY MODEL xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx EAST-CENTRAL EUROPE IMF MISSION TO RECOMMEND $2.2 BILLION LOAN TO UKRAINE. An IMF team visiting Kyiv last week announced on 31 July that it will recommend the release of a $2.2 billion loan to Ukraine. "We have reached a tentative agreement with Ukrainian authorities on the program of stabilization and restructuring of the economy," AP quoted IMF mission head Mohammed Shadman-Valavi as saying. The three-year program, which Shadman-Valavi described as "very ambitious," aims to reduce the budget deficit to 3.3 percent of GDP this year and to 2 percent in following years. It also provides for an inflation rate of 10 percent this year and 8 percent in 1999-2001. Ukraine may obtain $250 million immediately after the IMF Board of Directors approves the loan in late August and another $600 million by year's end. JM UKRAINIAN MINERS RESCHEDULE PROTEST ACTION FOR SEPTEMBER. A protest action over unpaid wages planned by the Trade Union of Coal Industry Workers has been postponed until September. The union had intended to begin the action on 2 August in Kyiv. It said that the decision to postpone the protest was due to the "unbelievable heat" in Ukraine and to the summer recess, ITAR-TASS reported. Despite recent payments made by the government, total wage arrears in the coal industry exceed $2 billion hryvni ($1 billion). The government paid only 75 percent of last month's wages in the coal mining sector. JM LUKASHENKA SAYS REUNION OF RUSSIA, UKRAINE, BELARUS 'INEVITABLE.' Belarusian President Alyaksandr Lukashenka has said in answer to questions by readers of "Pravda-5" that that reunification of Russia, Ukraine, and Belarus "is inevitable and that no opponent will be able to prevent it," Interfax reported on 31 July. He said such a union will appear "very soon" if "the reunification problem passes from the area of election outbursts into the area of practical daily work." He also expressed the hope that the Belarusian- Russian Union Parliamentary Assembly will soon pass laws to establish union citizenship and that the two countries' parliaments will approve that legislation. JM MOST MINSK RESIDENTS IN FAVOR OF 1999 PRESIDENTIAL ELECTIONS. An opinion poll conducted by the Belapan news agency in late July among 600 Minsk respondents showed that 62 percent support holding presidential elections in 1999. Lukashenka was elected for a five-year term in 1994, but the 1996 referendum in Belarus introduced a new constitution that prolonged his term until 2001. Presidential elections in 2001 were supported by 21 percent of the respondents. In mid-July, the European Parliament appealed to Belarus to hold "free and fair presidential elections" in 1999. Of the respondents, 51 percent backed that appeal, while 17 percent opposed it. JM DUTIES ON ESTONIAN EXPORTS TO RUSSIA TO INCREASE. Following Moscow's decision last month to raise duties on imports, tariffs for Estonian producers exporting to Russia will increase by 6 percent beginning 15 August, an economic adviser at the Estonian Embassy in Moscow confirmed on 2 August. The increase for countries that have most-favored- nation status with Russia is 3 percent, while all other countries are subject to a 6 percent hike. Estonian officials have criticized the double tariffs as discrimination against Estonia and as violating the principles of the World Trade Organization. In particular, Estonian dairy producers are worried because they currently sell their products in Russia at virtually no profit, according to ETA. JC RUSSIA CRITICIZES LATVIA OVER BORDER COMMENTS. Russian Foreign Ministry spokesman Vladimir Rakhmanin on 31 July responded to Latvian Foreign Minister Valdis Birkavs's statement that Latvia will begin unilaterally demarcating the border between the two countries (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 30 and 31 July 1998). Rakhmanin said that under international law, the border can be demarcated only after a border treaty has been signed. And he blamed Riga for the fact that the treaty has not yet been signed, Interfax reported. But Latvian Foreign Ministry official Aivis Ronis argued that Moscow is to blame for the delay, BNS reported on 31 July. He said that Riga will seek to have Russia sign the treaty but if Moscow shows "no willingness to cooperate," Latvia may consult with EU members on further actions and may demarcate the border unilaterally. For the time being, he noted, Latvia will only modernize and improve border control to fight illegal immigration and smuggling. JC WORLD BANK GIVES LOAN TO LATVIAN RURAL PROJECT. The World Bank has granted a $10.5 million loan to a project to make commercial credit available to small businesses in rural areas of Latvia, an RFE/RL correspondent in Washington reported on 31 July. A key part of the project will be special micro loans to small-scale rural enterprises to bolster business development. The $20 million project is part of the Latvian government's 10-year rural development program. It will also receive funding from the government, participating financial institutions, donors, and the borrowers themselves. JC FIVE BLOCS TO RUN IN POLISH LOCAL ELECTIONS. Five coalitions at the nationwide level will participate in Poland's local elections scheduled for 11 October, "Zycie Warszawy" reported on 31 July. The Democratic Left Alliance (SLD) will field its candidates under the slogan "Yours is the central government, ours are the local ones." The Solidarity Electoral Action (AWS) and the Freedom Union (UW), the ruling coalition partners, will participate separately. The UW has antagonized the AWS by retaining many local-level coalitions with the SLD. The Social Alliance coalition consists of the Peasant Party, the Labor Union, and the Nationwide Party of Pensioners. The Confederation for an Independent Poland-Patriotic Camp and the Movement for the Reconstruction of Poland have formed a coalition on the right of the political spectrum. JM NEW CROSSES AT AUSCHWITZ REVIVE POLISH-JEWISH DISPUTE. The Polish Silesia Civic Movement has recently erected some 50 crosses in a gravel pit, just outside the former Auschwitz concentration camp, in a bid to maintain Christian symbols at the site. The move has revived the Polish-Jewish argument over a huge cross set up at the camp to commemorate a visit by Pope John Paul II (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 14 April 1998). Jewish organizations say they want no religious objects at the Nazi death camp, where 1.5 million predominantly Jewish people died during World War II. Poland's Union of Jewish Congregations condemned the erection of the 50 crosses as an action of "anarchic character," Reuters reported on 31 July. The Polish civic movement has vowed to erect 152 crosses to commemorate the number of Poles killed in the pit by the Nazis. JM HAVEL TAKEN OFF RESPIRATOR. President Vaclav Havel has been taken off a respirator following surgery last week. His doctors said on 2 August that he no longer has to be fed intravenously and is able to speak. The previous day, part of his lung collapsed while he was being taken off the respirator and doctors had considered performing another tracheotomy on him. Havel underwent a tracheotomy in late 1996, after an operation in which part of his right lung was removed, CTK and AP reported. MS SLOVAK GOVERNMENT CONTINUES TO TRAIL IN POLLS. According to an opinion poll carried out by the independent MVK agency, Vladimir Meciar's government continues to trail the combined forces of the opposition, Reuters reported. The government polled 37 percent support, while the opposition received 59.6 percent backing. Since May, the gap has grown from 16.9 percent to 22.6 percent. Meciar's Movement for a Democratic Slovakia is still the party with the largest backing (27.4 percent), followed by the opposition Slovak Democratic Coalition (23.2 percent). Among Meciar's coalition partners, the far-right Slovak National Party is backed by 7.6 percent, but the Workers Party, with 2 percent support, would fail to pass the parliamentary threshold. The opposition Party of Civic Understanding received 16.4 percent support and the Party of the Democratic Left 11.5 percent and the Hungarian Coalition 8.5 percent. MS HUNGARIAN PRESIDENT SETS DATE FOR LOCAL ELECTIONS. Arpad Goncz has set local elections for 18 October, the National Electoral Office announced on 31 July. The executive chairman of the Hungarian Democratic Forum, Gyorgy Gemesi, told "Magyar Hirlap" that his party and the Federation of Young Democrats-Hungarian Civic Party are to sign an agreement on drawing up joint party lists for the local elections. In other news, German Foreign Minister Klaus Kinkel told his visiting Hungarian counterpart, Janos Martonyi, that the current Hungarian government, like its predecessor, can count on Germany's unequivocal support in its bid to enter the EU and NATO as soon as possible. MSZ SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE SERBS KEEP UP OFFENSIVE. Yugoslav troops and Serbian paramilitary police attacked positions of the Kosova Liberation Army (UCK) and civilian villages in the central Drenica region and along the Albanian border around the besieged village of Junik throughout the weekend of 31 July- 2 August. AP reported on 3 August that the Serbian forces throughout the combat zone burned homes and shelled villages in a "campaign to drive [ethnic] Albanian civilians from their homes [in a way] reminiscent of the tactic of 'ethnic cleansing'...in Bosnia and Croatia earlier this decade." A correspondent for Deutsche Welle's German service reported from Prishtina on 3 August that the Serbian authorities are keeping journalists out of the conflict area so that they do not witness "the plundering of villages and mistreatment of civilians." The London "Daily Telegraph" wrote on 3 August that Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic's statement to foreign diplomats the on 30 July that the offensive has ended is a "lie." PM PLIGHT OF REFUGEES WORSENS. The Yugoslav news agency Tanjug reported from Prishtina on 2 August that the "efficient action" of Serbian forces has "almost entirely broken [up] terrorist gangs" of the UCK. Elsewhere, Western and Kosovar sources noted over the weekend of 31 July-2 August that the continuing Serbian offensive has uprooted "thousands" of civilians and forced additional thousands of refugees from previous attacks to flee again. Many, including women and young children, slept in the forests and on hillsides in the midst of a heat wave and with few provisions. Meanwhile on 1 August, representatives of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees delivered to homeless civilians in the Malisheva area food parcels designed to supply up to 1,000 people for three weeks. Officials said the area is "simply filled with people...living rough," Reuters reported. PM NUMBER OF REFUGEES GROWS. A spokesman for the UNHCR said in Prishtina on 3 August that the total number of displaced people from Kosova in 1998 is about 180,000, both inside and outside the province. This includes 30,000 forced to flee during the current Serbian offensive, which began just over a week ago. The spokesman added that Serbian police have generally made it difficult for the UNHCR to obtain accurate figures by making on-the-spot tallies within Kosova. He noted that some 25,000 refugees have gone to Montenegro, at least 10,000 to Albania, and smaller numbers to Serbia. Albanian sources put the number in that country closer to 20,000. It is unclear how many Kosovars have fled to Macedonia, where many have close personal ties dating from when both Kosova and Macedonia were part of the former Yugoslavia. PM SERBIAN, MACEDONIAN FOREIGN MINISTERS MEET. Macedonia's Blagoj Handziski visited Zivadin Jovanovic, his Serbian counterpart, in Bujanovac in southern Serbia on 2 August. Tanjug issued a brief report quoting Jovanovic as saying that his country seeks a peaceful and constructive solution to the Kosovar problem. Handziski stressed that Macedonia insists that the solution in Kosova be peaceful. Reuters noted the previous day that Tanjug has recently quoted statements by some Macedonian opposition parties criticizing the present government for continuing to include cabinet ministers from ethnic Albanian parties, which the opposition calls "separatist." Macedonia's population is about one- quarter ethnic Albanian. PM RELIEF WORKER CLAIMS ABUSE. Serbian authorities released British humanitarian aid worker Sally Becker from prison in Prishtina on 1 August. She later told the BBC that her captors denied her sleep and that "more than 100 policemen" were allowed to spit on her. "I have never known such hatred," she added (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 29 July 1998). Meanwhile in The Hague, Milan Kovacevic, who is a Bosnian Serb facing charges of genocide, died of a heart attack. The next day, the authorities of the war crimes tribunal promised a full investigation. Kovacevic is the second war crimes suspect to die in detention in just over a month, RFE/RL's South Slavic Service reported. PM DRNOVSEK PLEDGES EFFORTS ON KOSOVA. Slovenian Prime Minister Janez Drnovsek told a press conference at RFE/RL headquarters in Prague on 1 August that "Slovenia will try to have a very active role and to intensify activities to find a solution" to the Kosovar problem. The same day, Slovenia assumed the rotating presidency of the UN Security Council in New York. PM MONTENEGRO CUTS BACK TIES TO BELGRADE. The Montenegrin government issued a statement in Podgorica on 31 July saying that it will no longer maintain relations with the Yugoslav federal authorities at the ministerial level. Podgorica added that it will restore full ties only when the composition of the federal government changes. By this, the Montenegrin government presumably meant that Federal Prime Minister Momir Bulatovic, who is the arch-rival of Montenegrin President Milo Djukanovic, must step down first. In the meantime, Podgorica will limit its contacts to Belgrade only to lower levels and only when Montenegro deems it in its interest to do so, the independent BETA news agency reported. PM FIRE HITS ALBANIA'S SECOND LARGEST HYDROELECTRIC POWER PLANT. One of four 150-megawatt generators at the hydroelectric power plant in the northern city of Fierza caught fire on 1 August. Fire-fighters, supported by Italian fire-fighting experts, had the fire under control after five hours. A spokesman for the Electric Energy Company told "Koha Jone" in Tirana the same day that the repair work will take at least one month and that the company will have to reduce supplies to customers in the meantime. Albania's power grid has been strained by a sharp increase in consumption since the end of communism in 1991. A prolonged lack of rainfall this summer has already forced the company to make power cuts. FS ALBANIAN OPPOSITION LEGISLATOR CLAIMS VIOLATION OF PRIVILEGE. Democratic Party legislator Shaban Memia said on 31 July that customs officials and police in Durres violated his rights as a member of the parliament the same day by stopping him and examining goods he brought with him from a trip to Italy, "Rilindja Demokratike" reported. Customs officials accused him of "smuggling" photo and video equipment worth $14,000. Memia declared that the equipment was a personal gift from friends in Italy and is tax-exempt. Later at a checkpoint in Ndroq on the road to Tirana, police found a document in Memia's baggage saying that the equipment was a gift to the party. Customs officials told "Shekulli" that the equipment must be taxed and that they will ask the parliament to lift Memia's immunity so that they can bring charges against him for smuggling. FS ROMANIAN FINANCE MINISTER CRITICIZES WHITE HOUSE COUNSELOR. Daniel Daianu on 1 August said it is "immoral" for the U.S. executive branch to "promote" the sale of the Bell helicopters to "a country whose economic situation is difficult." He was responding to an interview given by White House presidential counselor Steve Flangan to VOA three days earlier, Rompres reported. On 31 July, Prime Minister Radu Vasile met in Bucharest with Bell Helicopter Textron chairman Webb Joiner. At the start of his four-day visit to Israel on 2 August, Vasile said the deal with Bell helicopters is "not final," AP reported. Accompanied by Daianu and Defense Minister Victor Babiuc, Vasile visited the Israel Aircraft Industries and confirmed that Bucharest is examining the possibility of modernizing Cobra helicopters in Israel instead of pursuing the deal with Bell Textron. MS MOLDOVAN COALITION CRISIS IN OFFING? The parliament on 31 July approved the transit of nuclear waste from the Bulgarian Kozloduy plant to Russia. It also appointed Valeriu Catana as the country's new prosecutor-general. Both resolutions were proposed by the ruling For a Democratic and Prosperous Moldovan Bloc (PMPD) and supported by the opposition Party of Moldovan Communists. The Democratic Convention of Moldova (CDM) and the Party of Democratic Forces, both of which are the PMPD's allies in the Alliance for Democratic Reforms (APRD), opposed the resolutions. Mircea Snegur, CDM co-chairman, said that the PMPD has broken an agreement to postpone the vote and that this may lead to the break-up of the APRD, RFE/RL's Chisinau bureau reported. MS BULGARIA TO RECEIVE $800 MILLION IMF LOAN. Chief IMF negotiator for Bulgaria, Anne McGuirk, said on 1 August that Bulgaria will receive a $800 million three-year loan, subject to its approval by the IMF board in September, Reuters reported. McGuirk said that overall foreign funding for that period will total $1.6 billion, half of which will come from the IMF. Finance Minister Muravei Radev said the other lenders include the World Bank, the EU, and various countries. The amount is roughly equivalent to Bulgaria's foreign debt obligations for the same period, according to Reuters. In other news, Kostov on 31 July said that some $30 million will be invested in the country's defense industry by the end of 2001 and that the government's program provides for joint military production with Russia, China, and Ukraine. MS BULGARIAN PARLIAMENT APPROVES TURKISH-LANGUAGE BROADCASTS. The parliament on 30 July added a provision to the new media law allowing for broadcasts in foreign languages aired for "Bulgarian citizens whose mother tongue is not Bulgarian," Reuters reported. Miroslava Belcheva, spokeswoman for the ruling Union of Democratic Forces, which initiated the bill, said the main purpose of the provision is to "allow broadcasts in Turkish in regions populated by ethnic Turks." Osman Otkai, a prominent member of the ethnic Turkish Movement of Rights and Freedoms, welcomed the decision, saying it demonstrates that "delicate problems of the minorities can be solved without drama." MS END NOTE PRIMAKOV'S 19TH CENTURY MODEL by Paul Goble Russian Foreign Minister Yevgenii Primakov has identified his 19th century predecessor Aleksandr Gorchakov as a model for Moscow's approach following the collapse of the Soviet Union. In a speech on the 200th anniversary of Gorchakov's birth, published in the current issue of the Russian foreign-policy journal "International Affairs," Primakov notes that Gorchakov was able to rebuild Russia's power and influence after its defeat in the Crimean War. When Gorchakov assumed office after that defeat, in 1856, many people "thought that they were present at a funeral for the Russian Empire or at any rate witnessing its turning into a second-rate power," Primakov argues. Such a conclusion seemed reasonable, according to the current foreign minister. The Crimean War had demonstrated a variety of internal weaknesses in the Russian Empire. Most of the important powers were "rallied against Russia." And the North Caucasian leader Shamil was able to stage a daring raid into Russia itself. Given these obstacles, Primakov points out, many in the Russian Empire argued that it had to turn inward, "resign its great power status," and accept the leadership of others. That had been the policy of Gorchakov's predecessor, Count Nesselrode, who went so far as to propose abolishing the Foreign Ministry altogether. But Gorchakov urged "a different course of action." Primakov not only approves of that course but argues it should be a model for Russian actions in the future. According to Primakov, Gorchakov believed that "a vigorous foreign policy" was essential for creating the conditions that would allow Russia to renew itself at home and regain influence abroad. Over the next 30 years, Primakov says, Gorchakov did just that, far more successfully than many of his contemporaries assumed he could. Primakov draws five lessons from Gorchakov's approach. Those lessons, he argues, should guide Moscow's actions today. First, Primakov says, Gorchakov demonstrated that Russia, even when weakened by defeat, can pursue an active foreign policy. Indeed, Primakov insists that his predecessor showed that it has no other choice. Second, Gorchakov insisted that Russian foreign policy must not be limited to a single direction or area of concern. Instead, it must seek to be active in all areas. Third, as Primakov notes with approval, Gorchakov had no doubt that Russia at all times has "enough strength" to play a leading role in the world. Fourth, Gorchakov understood that Russia could always exploit the resentment many smaller powers inevitably feel vis-a-vis larger ones. In this way, Russia can rebuild and then expand its own influence. Fifth, Gorchakov's actions provide one negative lesson. According to Primakov, Gorchakov's maneuvering among the great powers of Europe is now "out of date." Instead, Primakov notes, Moscow must seek constructive partnerships with all countries rather than seeking some "mobile" or permanent coalition. Together, these five principles show that Gorchakov understood what Primakov argues is the fundamental basis of Russian foreign policy: "There are no constant enemies, but there are constant national interests." According to Primakov, that principle means that Russian foreign policy must adopt a balanced approach--neither advancing "excessive claims" that fail to recognize what has happened in the last decade nor setting "deliberately low standards" that ignore Moscow's continuing possibilities. And it also means, Primakov continues, that Russia will not seek improved relations with "the 'civilized West' at any cost." In his concluding remarks, Primakov focuses on one foreign-policy area where Gorchakov's approach seems not to apply but in fact does. As Primakov points out, his 19th century predecessor was "striving to consolidate the Russian Empire's territorial integrity." Now, Primakov acknowledges, the situation has changed: Both the Empire and the Soviet Union are "gone" and he argues that "the present reality is such that sovereignty of the ex-USSR republics should not be subject to any doubt." But at the same time, Primakov concludes, Moscow must do everything it can to bring "the states formed on the territory of the former Soviet Union" closer together through economic integration and "the creation of a single economic area." Many people, in both these countries and the West, are likely to see such a proposal as anything but reassuring, particularly since Primakov advances it even as he praises one of 19th-century Russia's most passionate defenders of empire. 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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