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RFE/RL NEWSLINE Vol. 2, No. 162 Part II, 24 August 1998
___________________________________________________________ RFE/RL NEWSLINE Vol. 2, No. 162 Part II, 24 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 * YUSHCHENKO SAYS NO FURTHER DEVALUATION OF HRYVNYA * ALBANIAN POLICE ARREST FORMER GOVERNMENT MINISTERS * SERBS LAUNCH DRIVE ACROSS SOUTHWEST KOSOVA xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx EAST-CENTRAL EUROPE YUSHCHENKO SAYS NO FURTHER DEVALUATION OF HRYVNYA. Ukrainian National Bank Chairman Viktor Yushchenko has said last week's devaluation of the hryvnya to 2.243 to $1 was a "sufficient reaction to the decline of the Russian ruble," Ukrainian News reported on 22 August. He pledged to keep the official exchange rate of the hryvnya below the previously announced upper limit of 2.250 to $1. He also stressed that Ukraine's banks are solvent, despite the fact that most banks curtailed financial operations last week. Meanwhile, Ukrainian Prime Minister Valeriy Pustovoytenko called for urgent talks with CIS government heads to work out a "common position" on the financial crisis in Russia, Interfax reported on 21 August. JM KUCHMA SPEAKS WITH U.S. SENATOR LUGAR ON DISARMAMENT... Ukrainian President Leonid Kuchma met with U.S. Senator Richard Lugar in Kyiv on 23 August to discuss U.S. assistance to Ukraine's nuclear disarmament program. Kuchma noted that U.S. funds to assist Ukraine in destroying missile silos are being transferred "on time," but he complained that the money allocated for recultivating the land around the former silos is not, AP reported. Lugar, who along with Senator Sam Nunn, initiated a U.S. aid program to former Soviet republics to eliminate their nuclear arsenals, pledged continued economic aid to Ukraine and praised Kyiv for its support of the recent U.S. attacks in Sudan and Afghanistan. JM ...WITH IMF HEAD CAMDESSUS ON $2.2 BILLION LOAN. IMF Managing Director Michel Camdessus told Kuchma in a telephone conversation on 22 August that he expects the IMF to soon approve a $2.2 billion loan to Ukraine, AP reported. Camdessus assured the Ukrainian president that the fund supports Ukraine's economic reforms. The IMF loan is widely expected to stabilize Ukraine's financial market in the wake of Russia's financial crisis. JM BELARUS SAYS U.S. ANTI-TERRORIST STRIKES MAY ESCALATE VIOLENCE. The Belarusian Foreign Ministry has said that U.S. strikes against terrorist bases in Afghanistan and Sudan "may escalate violence, bring new victims, and spiral new terrorist actions," ITAR-TASS reported on 22 August. The statement stresses that Belarus has condemned the recent terrorist bombings in Kenya and Tanzania. At the same time, the statement reads, Belarus "deems it inadmissible to unilaterally use military force in combating terrorism without appropriate authorization by the United Nations." JM LUKASHENKA TO SKIP UN SESSION, NON-ALIGNED MOVEMENT FORUM. Belarusian President Alyaksandr Lukashenka has announced that he is too busy to attend the 53rd session of the UN General Assembly in New York, which will open on 9 September, ITAR- TASS reported on 22 August. He also said he will not participate in a conference of the Non-Aligned Movement Countries scheduled for Durban from 29 August-3 September. Previously, the Belarusian Foreign Ministry announced that Lukashenka will deliver a "fundamental report" at the UN session (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 28 July 1998). JM LATVIAN WAR CRIMES SUSPECT INDICTED. Prosecutors on 21 August indicted 75-year-old Vasily Kononov for killing one man and issuing orders to kill eight other persons suspected of cooperating with the Nazi occupying forces during World War II. Kononov was the leader of a Red Army partisan unit in 1944 when he allegedly committed the crimes. He was arrested earlier this month and faces a maximum sentence of life imprisonment if convicted. JC RIGA EXPRESSES CONCERN OVER RUSSIA'S FAILURE TO INFORM ABOUT MANEUVERS... Latvian Foreign Minister Valdis Birkavs told BNS on 22 August that Russia's failure to inform Estonia and Latvia of a paratroops training exercise in Pskov Oblast, which borders on the two Baltic States, is "not in keeping with the spirit of mutual trust proposed by Russia." He added that "Russian President Boris Yeltsin some time ago made a proposal that Russia would inform the Baltic states of major military maneuvers staged near their borders." At the same time, Birkavs said he understands the necessity of such exercises in principle. "Latvians are a peaceful nation. We're just keeping an eye on developments," he commented. JC ...AS DOES VILNIUS. The Lithuanian Foreign Ministry on 21 August protested the fact that it had not received advance warning of Russian Baltic Fleet maneuvers in which new anti- aircraft missiles were used, BNS reported. The Foreign Ministry said it was "regrettable" that the Russian navy had not informed the Lithuanian authorities about a practice launch the previous day of its S-300 PS missiles. Russian military experts believe the new weapon closely resembles the U.S. Patriot missile but is less expensive to manufacture. The Russian Baltic Fleet is based in the exclave Kaliningrad. JC POLAND, CZECH REPUBLIC BACK U.S. ATTACKS ON TERRORIST BASES. During their meeting in Warsaw on 21 August, Polish Foreign Minister Bronislaw Geremek and his Czech counterpart, Jan Kavan, expressed "understanding" for U.S. attacks on terrorist bases in Afghanistan and Sudan, PAP reported on 21 August. Geremek said the attacks are an "expression of the will not to leave terrorism unpunished." Kavan added that the U.S. reaction is "understandable" in view of the recent terrorists attacks in Kenya and Tanzania. The ministers, who met on the 30th anniversary of the Warsaw Pact invasion of Czechoslovakia, discussed the issues of joining NATO, seeking EU membership, regional cooperation, and bilateral relations. JM POLAND 'ASTONISHED' AT KOHL'S REMARKS ON RETURN OF EXPELLEES. Polish Foreign Ministry spokesman Pawel Dobrowoski has said his ministry is astonished at German Chancellor Helmut Kohl's remarks on German expellees, Polish Radio reported on 21 August. In a statement following talks with Expellees' Union leader Erika Steinbach on 21 August, Kohl said that as part of joining the EU, Poland and the Czech Republic will have to follow the letter and spirit of EU treaties and allow the return of ethnic Germans expelled after World War II, dpa reported. "Poland supports the principles the chancellor spoke about--that is, freedom to move within the united Europe and the right to settle--but it cannot accept a proposal of return," Polish Radio quoted Dobrowolski as saying. According to dpa, German opinion polls show that only a "tiny minority" of the 12 million expellees would consider returning to their former homes. JM CZECHS MARK 1968 INVASION ANNIVERSARY... Prime Minister Milos Zeman on 21 August condemned the leaders of the 1968 reform movement, who, he said, embarked on "the slippery path of collaboration and betrayal" following the Soviet-led invasion of Czechoslovakia. Zeman and Dagmar Havlova, who represented her ailing husband, laid wreathes in memory of those who died while trying to defend the building of the Czechoslovak Radio. In other news, the doctors treating President Vaclav Havel said he is to remain in hospital for at least one more week, CTK reported on 21 August. MS ...AS DO SLOVAKS. A commemorative ceremony was held in Bratislava on 21 August at the grave of Alexander Dubcek, the leader of the Czechoslovak Communist Party at the time of the 1968 Soviet-led invasion, CTK reported. The ceremony was attended by Dubcek's son Pavol, opposition politicians, Russian diplomats, and the deputy speaker of the Czech parliament, Petra Buzkova. Buzkova described Dubcek as a "symbol of the struggle for human rights and democracy." Slovak government officials boycotted the gathering. MS SLOVAK FOREIGN MINISTRY 'CONCERNED' ABOUT DAM DISPUTE. Foreign Ministry spokesman Milan Tokar on 20 August said Bratislava is interested in improving its relations with Hungary but that such improvement depends on respect for "obligations stemming from The Hague International Court of Justice ruling" on the dam dispute between the two countries." Tokar said that the Slovak government had a "fruitful dialogue" with the previous Hungarian government and that experts representing the two sides reached "agreement" on the implementation of the court's ruling. Tokar expressed concern that "recent statements" by Hungarian Foreign Minister Janos Martonyi offer "a different interpretation of the ruling." He added that "it looks as if somebody wants to fabricate problems and complicate matters, and this is not the Slovak side." MS HUNGARY'S ARMED FORCES SUSPEND FIGHTER JET PURCHASE. Prime Minister Viktor Orban told journalists on 22 August that the current economic situation will not allow Hungary to purchase new combat jets. Chief of Staff General Ferenc Vegh said Hungary is postponing the announcement of a tender for the purchase of new military aircraft until 2003, when the army intends to buy 30 new fighters for some $1 billion. Meanwhile, meeting with leaders of ethnic Hungarian organizations beyond Hungary's borders on 20 August, Zsolt Nemeth, state secretary at the Foreign Ministry, announced that a summit of the leaders and representatives of those organizations will take place later this year. Orban said at that meeting that he "cannot comprehend" the termination of Hungarian-language broadcasts on Slovak Television. MSZ SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE ALBANIAN POLICE ARREST FORMER GOVERNMENT MINISTERS... Albanian police arrested six officials appointed by former President Sali Berisha on 23 August: Defense Minister Safet Zhulali, Interior Minister Halit Shamata, the head of the anti-corruption agency Blerim Cela, the deputy head of the secret service Bujar Rama, Vlora police chief Sokol Mulosmanaj, and army General Kreshnik Lusha. Prosecutor- General Arben Rakipi's office issued a statement charging the six with crimes against humanity in conjunction with their alleged roles in suppressing unrest in spring 1997. The statement added that the Prosecutor-General's office accuses them of ordering the use of chemical weapons, airplanes, and helicopters against civilians. If found guilty, the six could face life sentences in prison. All are members of the opposition Democratic Party. Berisha said on 23 August that the arrests are politically motivated and aimed at intimidating the opposition. FS ...AND ISLAMISTS. In Tirana on 21 August, police arrested 10 foreigners, at least some of whom are Arabs, in a round-up of suspected Islamist terrorists. Police seized communications equipment, bullet-proof vests, weapons, and forged documents. Albanian authorities also launched an investigation of the Arab-Albanian Islamic Bank in Tirana last week as part of a broader investigation of suspected Islamist terrorist activities, dpa reported on 22 August. The measures followed the arrests of suspected Egyptian terrorists the previous month (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 20 August 1998). Meanwhile, U.S. embassy guards on 23 August shot and killed an Albanian policeman after the man tried to climb over the wall surrounding the ambassador's residence. An Interior Ministry spokesman told Reuters that the policeman had fired shots at the guards when they tried to stop him. FS MACEDONIAN, ALBANIAN PREMIERS WORK FOR STABILITY. Macedonian Prime Minister Branko Crvenkovski and his Albanian counterpart, Fatos Nano, agreed in Skopje on 23 August to work to maintain peace within each country as well as between them. About 23 percent of Macedonia's population consists of ethnic Albanians, many of whom consider themselves oppressed. Crvenkovski and Nano also discussed the situation in Kosova with U.S. Ambassador to Macedonia Christopher Hill. Crvenkovski told AP that the crisis in Kosova has caused widespread concern and that Macedonia and Albania have "most reasons [of any countries] to worry." Nano said: "We are here to defend the stability of...Macedonia and...Albania, and...we have support from Europe and the U.S.." The previous day, at the close of NATO maneuvers in Tirana, Nano said that Belgrade is conducting a "scorched-earth" policy in Kosova. He added that Albania wants NATO to intervene there to stop the "Serbian war machine." FS SCHUESSEL SAYS PROSPECTS FOR INTERVENTION DIM. Austrian Foreign Minister Wolfgang Schuessel, who is the current EU chairman, said in Vienna on 23 August that the Kosova Liberation Army (UCK) "has not been smashed. They simply ran away [in the face of the Serbian offensive] and will return." Schuessel added that international "military intervention at the moment is not very probable." Austria is neither a member of NATO nor a candidate to join. PM KOHL WEIGHS POSSIBLE INTERVENTION. In Bonn, German Chancellor Helmut Kohl said on 23 August that "winter [in the Balkans] can start as early as mid-October, while maybe more than 100,000 people are still seeking refuge in the forests and mountains and a humanitarian catastrophe looms. We must therefore act as quickly as possible--first and foremost the UN Security Council" must take action. Kohl spoke by telephone with Russian President Boris Yeltsin on 22 August but failed to persuade the Russian leader to end his opposition to intervention. In view of Russia's attitude, Kohl said the question of NATO intervention without UN approval is "open to review...if it means saving hundreds of thousands of lives," Reuters reported. PM SERBS LAUNCH DRIVE ACROSS SOUTHWEST KOSOVA. Serbian forces on 23 August began a massive artillery attack on several towns and villages controlled by the UCK on the road to Prizren, southwest of Prishtina. The paramilitary police directed their main assaults against the regions of Suhareka and Shtime, the "Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung" reported. Artillery fire could be heard in Prishtina, RFE/RL's South Slavic Service reported. Meanwhile near Rahovec, a Serbian journalist and his driver "disappeared" on 21 August, the Belgrade daily "Danas" wrote three days later. And in Prishtina, the Kosova Information Center, which is close to shadow-state President Ibrahim Rugova's moderate Democratic League of Kosova, reported on 23 August that UCK members "captured" two high-ranking League officials in the Malisheva region. PM 'REPUBLIKA SRPSKA MODEL' FOR KOSOVA? Zarko Rakcevic, who is president of the Social Democratic Party of Montenegro, said in Podgorica that the Kosovars should receive the same degree of autonomy within Yugoslavia as the Republika Srpska enjoys within Bosnia-Herzegovina. He stressed that, for Social Democrats, no one people is "worth more than the others, and all peoples must enjoy equality before the law," "Danas" wrote on 24 August. Rakcevic added that his party opposes "ethno-centric projects," including Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic's call for "all Serbs in one state" as well as Albanian nationalist demands for a greater Albania. The Social Democratic leader said that Milosevic is responsible for preventing a negotiated solution because his policies have led to political polarization in Kosova. PM PLAVSIC SAYS BELGRADE PROTECTS CRIMINALS. Republika Srpska President Biljana Plavsic said in an interview that the Yugoslav authorities refuse to hand over any suspected criminals living in Serbia or Montenegro to officials of the Republika Srpska, "Oslobodjenje" wrote on 24 August. She added that the recent murder of a Bosnian Serb police official loyal to her was an attempt by hard-liners to obstruct her crackdown on crime (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 10 August 1998). PM MUSLIMS RETURN HOME TO HERZEGOVINA. Some 500 Muslims returned to their pre-war homes in Capljina on 22 August as part of a pilot project sponsored by the international community to enable Muslims, Serbs, and Croats alike to retake possession of their homes in the ethnically tense region. No incidents were reported. In previous attempts by Muslims to go back to their homes in the area, some Croats attacked returning Muslims and damaged the Muslims' property. PM ANOTHER ROMANIAN JOURNALIST IMPRISONED. A journalist from the northwestern town of Baia Mare has begun serving a 10-month jail sentence for libel, AP reported, citing Mediafax. Cornel Sabou was convicted in April, fined 500,000 lei ($57), and ordered to pay 300 million lei in damages for a series of articles accusing a local judge of forgery and of using her position to peddle influence at local level. Sabou did not attend the trial because he was convinced that the case would be dismissed. The lawyer representing Sabou said on 22 April that he intends to take his case to the European Commission for Human Rights. Earlier this month, a similar case was reported from the northeastern town of Iasi (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 6 August 1998). MS ROMANIAN ROMA PROTEST THREATS BY TUDOR. An umbrella organization representing Romania's Romani communities have protested statements made on 16 August by Senator Corneliu Vadim Tudor, leader of the extremist Greater Romania Party, Mediafax reported on 22 August. The Convention of Cooperation of Romani Associations said that if the authorities do not condemn Tudor's declarations, the Roma will "undertake self- defense actions." It also said Tudor's declarations are an "incitement to racial and ethnic hatred." Tudor had threatened to "deport and isolate" those members of the Roma community who "refuse integration..., do not want to work, and live from stealing." MS MOLDOVAN PREMIER TELLS CITIZENS TO 'AVOID POLITICS.' Ion Ciubuc, speaking on a live radio program on 22 August, called on Moldovans not to "join any political movement" but to "concentrate instead on your regular work" and "let the government solve the most pressing questions" facing the country, BASA-press reported. Ciubuc said the government plans to pay off 1 billion lei (about $ 21 million) in pension arrears, of which 32 million lei will be paid in cash and the rest in foodstuff and goods. Contradicting earlier statements by Moldovan officials, Ciubuc said the ruble devaluation in Russia has so far resulted in a loss of 100 million lei for Moldova. The official rate of the Moldovan leu has dropped from 4.75 to $1 on 1 August to 4.77 on 22 August. MS BULGARIAN PRESIDENT STILL INTENDS TO VISIT MOSCOW. Presidential spokeswoman Neri Terezieva on 23 August told ITAR-TASS that President Peter Stoyanov is not planning to postpone his visit to Russia scheduled for 27-29 August, despite the dismissal of the Russian cabinet. Stoyanov on 19 August told Reuters that he hopes the visit will "at last put uneasy relations...on a new footing." Stoyanov said that he does not see Russia "as only a huge market for Bulgarian goods" but as a country with which Sofia "can develop ties in every walk of life." While Bulgaria's "irreversible choice" is to adhere to NATO and the EU, this "should not stand in the way of improved relations" with Moscow, he said. 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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