|We are all apt to believe what the world believes about us. - George Eliot|
RFE/RL NEWSLINE Vol. 2, No. 173 Part II, 8 September 1998
________________________________________________________ RFE/RL NEWSLINE Vol. 2, No. 173 Part II, 8 September 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 * WORLD BANK TO CONSIDER $900 MILLION LOAN TO UKRAINE * BELARUS EXPERIENCES FOOD SHORTAGES, PRICE HIKES * MILOSEVIC REMAINS DEFIANT xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx EAST-CENTRAL EUROPE WORLD BANK TO CONSIDER $900 MILLION LOAN TO UKRAINE. The World Bank is planning to consider next week a $900 million loan to finance four projects in Ukraine's farming and coal sectors, Interfax and dpa reported on 7 September. Paul Siegelbaum, World Bank director for Ukraine and Belarus, said in Kyiv that the World Bank's assistance to Ukraine is now possible again because of the IMF's approval of a $2.2 billion loan. Siegelbaum added that the economic situation in Ukraine is better that in neighboring Russia because Ukraine has fewer debts and is less vulnerable to the worldwide drop in oil prices. He also noted that the Ukrainian government has taken appropriate steps to solve its economic problems. JM UKRAINIAN CENTRAL BANK RESTRICTS HARD CURRENCY TRADING. National Bank Chairman Viktor Yushchenko said on 7 September that the central bank has limited hard currency trading to the Ukrainian Interbank Currency Exchange, Ukrainian Television reported. Exporters are now obliged to sell 75 percent of their hard-currency earnings on the exchange; the remaining 25 percent is to be paid into their accounts. The difference between the official exchange rate of the hryvnya and that used in cash operations with hard currency cannot exceed 5 percent. According to Yushchenko, these measures are aimed at "invigorating the circulation of hard currency" in Ukraine. JM BELARUS EXPERIENCES FOOD SHORTAGES, PRICE HIKES. Belarus is witnessing a run on foodstuffs and manufactured goods as the Belarusian ruble continues to lose value against the dollar amid the ongoing financial crisis in Russia (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 7 September 1998), Belapan reported on 7 September. Many stores report shortages of food staples such as sugar, flour, meal, and cooking oil. The prices of foodstuffs in street trade have increased by 10-20 percent compared with the previous week. RFE/RL's Belarusian Service reported on 7 September that there is a also a run on banks in Belarus, as Belarusians clamor to withdraw their savings. JM BELARUSIAN STATE DAILIES TO APPEAR TWO, THREE TIMES A WEEK. Beginning this week, most government-sponsored daily newspapers will be cut back to two or three editions a week, Belapan reported on 7 September. "This is a forced and temporary measure," the agency quoted Belarusian Deputy Prime Minister Uladzimir Zamyatalin as saying. According to Zamyatalin, the cutback is caused by an increase in the price of imported newsprint from Russia. Zamyatalin said Russia "does not guarantee the fulfillment of previously adopted agreements" in the current economic situation. JM ESTONIAN FARMERS UNION WANT 1998 DECLARED DISASTER YEAR. Meeting with Prime Minister Mart Siimann on 7 September, representatives of the Farmers' Central Union requested that 1998 be declared a disaster year for agriculture, ETA reported. In many areas, crops have been destroyed and fields are under water, following heavy rainfalls this year. Some farmers, however, are opposed to declaring a disaster situation, saying that owing to the recent dry weather, they have managed to save a considerable part of their crops. Siimann intends to postpone making a decision until next month. JC WELL-KNOWN ESTONIAN DIPLOMAT DIES AGED 93. Ernst Jaakson died in a New York hospital on 4 September at the age of 93. For several decades, Jaakson served as Estonia's main diplomatic representative in the U.S. During the Soviet occupation of Estonia, he published numerous appeals in the U.S. press for the international community to pressure the Soviet Union to withdraw its forces from the Baltic States. He is to be buried in the Kensico cemetery in New York on 14 September. JC LITHUANIA FORMS SOVIET, NAZI WAR CRIMES COMMISSION. Lithuanian President Valdas Adamkus has officially established an international commission to examine war crimes committed during the Nazi and Soviet occupations of Lithuania. Presidential adviser Julius Shmulkshtis told Reuters on 7 September that the commission's main function is "to investigate the World War Two period and the immediate aftermath in order to come up with answers to various questions concerning Jewish and Lithuanian genocide." The commission will be headed by parliamentary deputy Emanuelis Zingeris. Earlier this year, the presidents of Lithuania, Latvia, and Estonia agreed to set up commissions in their countries to investigate the events of 1939-1991, especially during and after World War II. JC LANDSBERGIS CALLS FOR FOOD AID TO KALININGRAD. Lithuanian parliamentary chairman Vytautas Landsbergis has called on the international community to consider sending humanitarian aid to Kaliningrad Oblast in the event of food shortages there as a result of the financial crisis in Russia, BNS and AP reported. Landsbergis was responding to a public statement by Russian Baltic Navy commanders that the force has enough food only for the next 40 days. He commented that "pending famine [within] the Russian navy should raise international concern." To facilitate sending aid to the Russian exclave, Landsbergis urged that "immediate preparations and coordination actions--first of all with Poland and the European Union--should be taken." JC AUSTRIAN PRESIDENT SAYS POLAND 'MOST IMPORTANT' EU CANDIDATE. Austrian President Thomas Klestil said in Warsaw on 7 September that Poland is the biggest and "strategically most important" country wanting to join the EU, PAP reported. He added that EU expansion is the focus of Austria's current chairmanship of the EU. Polish and Austrian labor ministers signed an agreement on pensions and other allowances. That accord may benefit the estimated 35,000 Polish immigrants residing in Austria. It also applies to those Poles who were sent to forced labor in Austria during World War II. JM CANADA OFFERS TO HELP POLAND TAKE FIRST STEPS IN NATO. Canadian Defense Minister Arthur Eggleton on 7 September offered Canada's assistance to Poland in the initial period of its NATO membership, PAP and Reuters reported. Eggleton, who was in Warsaw, said Canada's five-year program of peacekeeping, language, and communications training will also be offered to Hungary and the Czech Republic. So far, the three NATO candidates have received substantial asssistance under the Partnership for Peace program; that aid, however, will cease to be available to them when they join NATO in April 1999. "The Canadian initiative shows that we can count on the further assistance we so obviously need," Reuters quoted Polish Defense Minister Janusz Onyszkiewicz as saying. JM ZEMAN PLANS TO LEAVE POLITICS IN 2002. Prime Minister Milos Zeman told the daily "Pravo" on 7 September that he intends to leave politics after completing his term as premier in 2002. In a report to his Social Democratic Party that was leaked to the media, Zeman had said that " a politician should decide to leave right when he has fulfilled the aims he has set." Consequently, he added, "I have decided to leave politics in four years at the latest." MS SLOVAK OPPOSITION PLANS BROAD COALITION AFTER ELECTIONS. Mikulas Dzurinda, leader of the Slovak Democratic Coalition (SDK), says he expects his party to win 25-27 percent of the vote in this month's parliamentary elections and "to create a broad coalition with all [other] opposition parties" to make possible a "constitutional majority" against Prime Minister Vladimir Meciar and his allies, AP reported on 7 September. Political observers in Bratislava say that even if the SDK manages to win a quarter of the vote, setting up a coalition will be difficult owing to different views within opposition groups. The Hungarian Coalition Party focuses primarily on minority issues, while some groups within the Party of the Democratic Left oppose Dzurinda's economic policies and do not rule out cooperation with Meciar. The new Civic Understanding Party is not among those parties whom Dzurinda envisages will be included in the new ruling coalition. MS SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE MILOSEVIC REMAINS DEFIANT. Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic said after a meeting with U.S. officials on 7 September that Serbian forces will continue battling ethnic Albanian forces in Kosova, AP reported. In a statement released after talks with Assistant Secretary of State John Shattuck and former Senator Bob Dole, Milosevic said "terrorism in Kosova will be suppressed and eliminated." Shattuck and Dole had called for Serbian forces to pull back so that civilians could return to their homes. Shattuck said he will monitor closely Milosevic's promise to allow Red Cross officials to visit detained ethnic Albanians accused of being members of the Kosova Liberation Army (UCK). Shattuck said that Milosevic realizes he "has a very serious problem in Kosova" but "disagrees on the dimension of the problem." Dole warned that if Milosevic allows a "humanitarian catastrophe" to occur in Kosova, "the repercussions will be dramatic." PB MANY DETAINED ETHNIC ALBANIANS RELEASED. Serbian security forces released many of the some 450 ethnic Albanian men recently detained on suspicion of being involved in the UCK, AP reported on 8 September. Some of those released said they were beaten and not allowed to eat or drink for 24 hours. They added that they were interrogated and accused of being terrorists. Western officials estimate that at least 50,000 Kosovars are still living in the hills and forests after being driven out of their homes. PB SOLANA UPBEAT ON KOSOVA ACCORD. NATO Secretary-General Javier Solana said on 7 September that a proposed interim accord between Belgrade and Kosovar Albanian leader Ibrahim Rugova is a "good chance to start negotiations," AFP reported. Speaking in Brussels, Solana said that military intervention in Kosova is currently not being considered. He added that it is not yet clear if the accord--dubbed "Autonomy Plus"--has sufficient support from Belgrade and among ethnic Albanians. PB REFUGEES IN ALBANIA TO BE MOVED SOUTH. Albanian Deputy Prime Minister Bashkim Fino said on 7 September that the government will move thousands of Kosovar refugees from the north to better-equipped areas in the south before the onset of winter, Reuters reported. Fino said the government is "very worried" about providing for the some 15,000 refugees, the majority of whom are in the Tropoje district, which is Albania's poorest. Fino said 3,000 to 5,000 refugees will be moved to Diber and Shkoder and that more than $1 million will be spent to improve the infrastructure in Tropoje for those remaining. Small groups of 20 to 30 refugees continue to flee Kosova for Albania each day. PB ALBANIAN MINISTER URGES POLITICAL CALM TO HELP ECONOMY. Albanian Finance Minister Arben Malaj called for a truce between the government and opposition because political infighting could undermine modest economic gains, Reuters reported on 6 September. Malaj said the macroeconomic outlook for the country has improved in the first seven months, compared with last year's disastrous economic plunge. GDP, which shrank 7 percent in 1997, was expected to grow by 10 percent this year, he added. Finances, he continued, should "not feel the consequences of artificial political tension." PB OSCE STANDS FIRM ON CANDIDATE BAN. The OSCE said on 7 September that it will not change its decision to ban Bosnian Croat candidates from participating in the 12-13 September elections (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 7 September 1998), Reuters reported. Nicole Szulc, an OSCE spokeswoman, dismissed a suggestion made by Croatian President Franjo Tudjman that the decision to ban the politicians will affect the peace process in Bosnia. The OSCE has asked the leadership of the Serbian Radical Party to ban the party's head, Vojislav Seselj (who is also a Serbian deputy premier), from participating in any election rallies because of his statements that all Serbian lands should be united. OSCE mission chief Robert Barry said such a statement violates the Dayton accords. In other news, posters of leading war crimes suspect Radovan Karadzic appeared in the Serbian stronghold of Pale on 7 September. He has been banned from attending all political events, and posters depicting him are also prohibited. PB REPUBLIKA SRPSKA PRESIDENT COMPARES RIVAL TO HITLER. Biljana Plavsic said during a campaign rally in Brcko that Momcilo Krajisnik, the Serbian member of the Bosnian presidency, committed numerous crimes and that she "would replace Adolf Hitler's figure at Madame Tussaud's [wax museum in London] with Krajisnik's," SRNA reported on 7 September. Republika Srpska Premier Milorad Dodik said at the same rally that people should vote for the Sloga [Accord] coalition because it is respected internationally. Dodik added that 1.3 million German marks will be used this week to repair the water system in Brcko and that some 200 plots of land will be made available to Serbs who want to stay in Brcko permanently. PB SLOVENIAN PRESIDENT MEETS WITH BOSNIAN PRESIDENCY MEMBERS. Milan Kucan met with Alija Izetbegovic, the chairman of the Bosnian presidency, and Kresimir Zubak, the Croat member of the presidency on 7 September during a one-day visit to Sarajevo, Bosnian Radio reported. After inaugurating a pharmaceutical plant near Sarajevo built with Slovenian aid, Kucan told reporters that Slovenia considers Bosnia-Herzegovina to be a economic and political partner. He said Ljubljana supports the integrity of Bosnia and that Serbs, Croats, and Muslims must find "a formula ... by which to live together." PB CROATIAN PRESIDENT MEETS WITH U.S. OFFICIAL. U.S. Ambassador to Croatia William Dale met with Franjo Tudjman on 7 September after the State Department criticized Zagreb for supporting hard-line Bosnian Croats in the Bosnian elections, AP reported. A statement released by the president's office said the two had agreed to "avoid unwise decisions that could lead to the deterioration of the situation in Bosnia and harm the elections there." The State Department said in Washington the same day that it is "extremely concerned" by the actions of the Bosnian branch of Tudjman's ruling party. PB BUCHAREST TRIBUNAL APPROVES PARTY MERGERS. The Bucharest Municipal Tribunal on 7 September approved the merger of the New Romania Party and the Liberal Christian Party into the Democratic Agrarian Party. It also approved the new name of the formation, the Romanian National Party (PNR). National Peasant Party Christian Democratic deputy chairman Ion Ratiu, one of whose ancestors founded a PNR in Transylvania last century, has contested the use of that name. His appeal was initially supported by the tribunal but was later overruled by the Bucharest Court of Appeals in July. Ratiu said he is prepared to fight "right up to the International Court of Justice in the Hague." The Municipal Tribunal also approved the merger of the Liberal Party into the National Liberal Party. Former Liberal Party leader Nicolae Cerveni is appealing that decision, claiming his wing is the "genuine" Liberal Party. MS MOLDOVAN NATIONAL BANK CLAMPS DOWN ON EXCHANGE OFFICES. The National Bank has revoked the licenses of 27 currency exchange offices that it says contributed to the recent panic over the exchange rate. It also narrowed the margin between buying and selling rates from 10 to 1.5 percent, National Bank deputy chairwoman Veronica Bacalu told journalists on 7 September. She described the offices whose licenses were withdrawn as "fortune-seekers". Deputy Prime Minster Ion Sturdza accused the offices of seeking to "undermine the stability of the national currency." The exchange rate for the leu on 6 September was 4.85-5.00 to $1, while one day earlier some exchange offices were trading at 7 lei to the dollar, Infotag reported. MS BULGARIAN TURKISH MINORITY PROTESTS REMOVAL OF COMMEMORATION INSCRIPTIONS... Ahmed Dogan, leader of the ethnic Turkish Movement for Rights and Freedom (DPS), has protested the removal of three commemorative plaques from a fountain in the village of Trunak, BTA reported on 5 September. The inscriptions, which were removed on the orders of Burgas district prosecutor Emil Kristov, were in memory of three Turks who were executed in 1988 for their alleged involvement in a series of bombings that killed eight people in 1984-1985. Dogan told a rally attended by some 10,000 Turks that the order to dismantle the inscriptions was an "act of vandalism" that displayed the incumbent government's "barbaric attitude" to the democratic system. He said there was "no compelling evidence" that the executed men had been involved in terrorist acts. MS ...AS BULGARIAN PREMIER STRESSES NEED TO INTEGRATE MINORITIES. Addressing a forum of the ruling Union of Democratic Forces (SDS) in Pamporovo, southern Bulgaria, on 6 September, Prime Minster Ivan Kostov said the SDS and local government authorities must give priority to the integration of national minorities into Bulgarian society. He said the Turkish minority was "alienated" mainly owing to the policies pursued by the DPS, which are "past-oriented" and based on "symbols that divide Bulgarian society." Deputy Premier Evgeni Bakardzhiev told the forum that the Turkish minority "holds anti- communist views" and "massive efforts are being made" to stop members of that minority from supporting the SDS. Bakardzhiev said he was "surprised" by the timing of the Burgas prosecutor's decision to remove the commemorative plaques, which coincides with SDS forums on minorities that took place in both Pamporovo and Silistra. He added that "history will show if those people were terrorists or heroes." MS BULGARIAN JUDGE TO ISSUE WARRANT FOR MARKOV'S ALLEGED MURDERER. A Bulgarian judge investigating the 1978 murder of dissident Georgi Markov has said he will issue an international warrant for the arrest of Francesco Gulino, a Dane of Italian origin who used to work as a Bulgarian agent. Gulino was recruited as an agent after being arrested in 1972 by the communist authorities for drug smuggling, AFP reported. Markov, who worked for the BBC and RFE/RL during the 1970s, died after an unknown man fired a poisoned pellet from an umbrella into his leg in central London. 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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