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RFE/RL NEWSLINE Vol 2, No. 183, Part II, 22 September 1998
___________________________________________________________ RFE/RL NEWSLINE Vol 2, No. 183, Part II, 22 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 * UKRAINIAN NATIONAL BANK NOT TO USE RESERVES TO SUPPORT HRYVNYA * KOSOVAR MILITARY LEADER SLAIN IN TIRANA * PLAVSIC CONCEDES ELECTION DEFEAT xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx EAST-CENTRAL EUROPE UKRAINIAN NATIONAL BANK NOT TO USE RESERVES TO SUPPORT HRYVNYA. Ukrainian National Bank Chairman Viktor Yushchenko said at a cabinet meeting on 21 September that the bank has no plans to use its hard-currency reserves to support the hryvnya, Ukrainian Television reported. "Support for the hryvnya is provided through limiting hard-currency operations on the market and closing the interbank market," the station quoted him as saying. Citing Russia's futile attempts to support the ruble, Yushchenko added that the government has not ruled out "administrative methods" to stave off the financial crisis. He also announced that Ukrainian banks will soon be ordered to make payments to a special compensation fund for victims of possible bank bankruptcies. Ukrainian Premier Valeriy Pustovoytenko told the same cabinet meeting that the government "should preserve the banking system, not individual banks." JM PUSTOVOYTENKO THREATENS CRACKDOWN ON DEBTORS. The Ukrainian premier has said his government will crack down on enterprises that delay paying off state credits, despite having money on their accounts, Ukrainian Television reported on 21 September. According to Pustovoytenko, some $150 million in state credits is due to be paid back by the end of this year. He instructed the Prosecutor-General's Office and the Interior Ministry "to work out measures oriented toward repaying credits by enterprises." JM MOROZ TO RUN FOR UKRAINIAN PRESIDENCY IN 1999. Oleksandr Moroz, leader of the Ukrainian Socialist Party and former speaker of the Ukrainian Supreme Council, has announced that he will run in the 1999 presidential elections, Ukrainian Television reported on 21 September. The Socialist Party Political Council has appealed to the left-wing, left-of- center, and democratic forces to support Moroz as the "only realistic alternative" to President Leonid Kuchma. UNIAN reported that Moroz may be nominated by the Socialist Party as its official presidential candidate at a party congress in October. JM BELARUSIAN FOREIGN TRADE DEFICIT NEARS $1 BILLION. According to the Belarusian Ministry of Statistics and Analysis, foreign trade in the first seven months of this year increased by 11 percent, compared with the same period last year, Belapan reported on 21 September. The foreign trade deficit stood at $988.8 million. Belarus's main trade partners are Russia (60.4 percent of total foreign trade), Ukraine (7.4 percent), Germany (5.5 percent), and Poland (2.9 percent). JM NO OMBUDSMAN FOR ESTONIA. Justice Minister Paul Varul told journalists on 18 September that setting up the institution of ombudsman cannot be justified economically because those functions can be performed by the Office of the Chancellor of Justice. Varul said that the chancellor of justice will perform those functions after the government submits the relevant bill to the parliament expanding the chancellor's powers. He added that the bill has already been drawn up and will be presented to legislators in the near future, ETA reported. JC LATVIAN WELFARE MINISTER TO CONTINUE WORK, FOR TIME BEING. Vladimirs Makarovs has said he is prepared to continue his work as welfare minister in order to ensure that the recently adopted amendments to the pension law cause "minimum damage to the Latvian public," BNS reported on 21 September. But he noted that his decision whether to remain in office will depend on what happens to the amendments, which if implemented, he estimated, will result in a 31.5 million lats ($63 million) deficit in the social insurance budget. Makarovs tendered his resignation last week, saying the amendments are "unfeasible" (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 18 September 1998). Meanwhile, President Guntis Ulmanis has returned the amendments to the parliament for further debate. JC LITHUANIA, GAZPROM TALKS POSTPONED. Talks between the Lithuanian government and the Russian gas monopoly Gazprom on constructing a natural gas pipeline have been postponed until 6 October, ITAR-TASS reported on 21 September, quoting an official at the Lithuanian embassy in Moscow. Those discussions had been scheduled for the start of this week (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 21 September 1998). The news agency did not state the reason for the delay. The proposed pipeline is to run from Minsk to Kaliningrad Oblast via Lithuania. JC POLISH PREMIER SAYS GOVERNMENT KEEPS ELECTION PROMISES. In a 21 September television and radio address summing up the first year of the Solidarity-led government, Jerzy Buzek said his cabinet has built "the foundations of an efficient, modern state." The Polish premier underscored that his government has kept its election promises by undertaking reforms in health care, pensions, education, and local government. According to Buzek, nearly half of taxpayers' money will remain in the hands of local governments after the introduction of a new administrative system in 1999. He added that the government wants to keep society informed about the reform process through the media and leaflets. But he noted that the government's television campaign promoting the reform process is to be suspended until after the 11 October local elections. "We do not want to sink [the government's campaign] in the flood of political and party electoral campaigning," he commented. JM POLISH OFFICIAL URGES 'MASSIVE REDUCTION' IN RURAL WORK FORCE. Agricultural Minister Jacek Janiszewski has urged a "massive reduction" in the rural work force in order to integrate its agricultural sector into that of the EU, PAP reported on 21 September. He added that the people's mentality is the main obstacle toward European integration and that changing this mentality must involve journalists and politicians who write and speak about agriculture. According to Janiszewski, the introduction of a modern farming sector in Poland requires cutting the rural work force from 27 percent to 5-7 percent of the total number of employees nationwide. JM ZEMAN MEETS KLIMA. During his first visit abroad as premier, Milos Zeman, met with Austrian Chancellor Viktor Klima in Vienna on 21 September, AP reported. Klima expressed his support for the Czech Republic's membership in EU, adding that the issue of the Sudeten Germans should not be linked to EU membership but rather should be resolved by bilateral negotiations. The two premiers agreed to set up a joint historical commission to examine issues of the past, including the expulsion of the Sudeten Germans and compensation for Czech forced laborers who worked for German companies in Austria during World War II. Klima welcomed the Czech initiative to set up an international commission to examine the Czech nuclear power plant at Temelin, near the Austrian border. Zeman also met with President Thomas Klestil and National Assembly chairman Heinz Fischer. MS SLOVAK TENSION MOUNTS BEFORE ELECTIONS. Interior Minister Gustav Krajci told CTK on 21 August that the government has taken measures to prevent provocations by the opposition, adding that those measures include beefing up police patrols with soldiers. Krajci said that he does "not rule out that provocative actions could be launched by the opposition, either at polling stations or in a different way," AP reported. Opposition leaders say that the authorities may launch a phony coup attempt or even an assassination attempt against Prime Minister Vladimir Meciar and then blame it on the opposition in order to justify calling off the 25-26 September ballot, the agency said. The opposition daily "Sme" wrote on 21 September that officials from the ruling Movement for a Democratic Slovakia are pondering "whether to proceed with regular elections or foil the polls under a fabricated excuse" in view of the likelihood of an opposition victory. MS STARS' INVOLVEMENT IN ELECTION CAMPAIGN TRIGGERS CONTROVERSY. As was to be expected, the Slovak press has taken a mixed stand on the involvement of movie stars Gerard Depardieu and Claudia Cardinale in the Slovak electoral campaign. The pro- government "Slovenska Republika" on 21 September published a photograph of Meciar and Depardieu waving to a crowd of Meciar supporters at a rally in Kosice on 20 September. Another photo showed Meciar laughing with Cardinale on a Slovak television show the same day. The opposition daily "Sme," meanwhile, carried several stories on the two actors' visit, one of which was head-lined "Immorality and Wasted Money for Stars." The tabloid "Novy Cas" slammed Cardinale under the headline "Supposedly She Did Not Come for Political Reasons," Reuters reported. The two stars' weekend visit follows the controversial appearance with Meciar of German photo model Claudia Schiffer on 10 September. MS THREE NATO APPLICANTS MEET IN BUDAPEST. The defense ministers of the Czech Republic, Poland, and Hungary met in 21 September in Budapest and agreed to submit their NATO membership ratification documents in Washington at the same time, Hungarian media report. Vladimir Vetchy, Janusz Onyszkiewicz, and Janos Szabo said their countries want to join NATO ahead of next April's expected entry, pointing to the "smooth progress of the ratification of NATO protocols." They added that they want to see Kosova granted autonomy and called for increasing international pressure on Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic. MSZ SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE KOSOVAR MILITARY LEADER SLAIN IN TIRANA... Ahmet Krasniqi, a top official in the self-styled Kosovar government in exile, was murdered on 21 September, Reuters reported. Interior Ministry spokesman Artan Bizhga said he was killed by unidentified gunmen outside his home. Krasniqi was a top military official in the Armed Forces of the Republic of Kosova, the paramilitary organization loyal to "government- in-exile premier" Bujar Bukoshi. PB ...WHILE TWO EXPLOSIONS SHAKE CAPITAL. The Albanian Prosecutor-General's Office blamed opposition leader Sali Berisha for a 21 September grenade attack at the Tirana home of the prosecutor investigating last week's violence in the capital, Reuters reported. In a statement, the office said "chief terrorist Sali Berisha dare not think that we prosecutors...will withdraw from the path of justice in Albania." No one was injured in the attack. Also on 21 September, Albanian Television reported that an explosion rocked the home of Vasil Melo, the chairman of the Albanian Human Rights Protection Party, which serves the ethnic Greek minority in Albania. There were no injuries in the blast. PB ALBANIAN PREMIER PROMISES CHANGES. Fatos Nano said on 21 September that he will make changes in his government after order is reestablished in the country in the wake of what he called last week's "coup d'etat," AFP reported. Nano, speaking on Albanian Television, failed to give details of the changes to come but said they are "necessary." He added that the authorities are working on restoring stability, fighting crime, and improving the economy. PB OPPOSITION RALLY CANCELED. A planned rally against the government of Fatos Nano was called off on 21 September when only a few hundred people showed up, Reuters reported. Former President Berisha had promised to stage peaceful rallies every day until Nano resigned. Berisha began talks the same day with right-wing parties in an effort to get them to boycott the parliament, as Berisha's Democratic Party has done for the past three months. Fourteen parties announced they have joined the "front against dictatorship." Teodor Laco, head of the Social Democrat Union, said the only way to force a change in government is to boycott parliamentary sessions. The Albanian news agency ATA reported that Alfons Zeneli, director of Radio Kontakt, and Ilir Zhilla, former director of ATA, have been arrested on charges of aiding the "armed uprising of 14 September." PB UN ENVOY, MILOSEVIC DISAGREE ON DISPLACED REFUGEES. Jiri Dienstbier, UN special envoy for human rights, said in Belgrade on 21 September that he saw tens of thousands of displaced ethnic Albanians during a 10-day tour of Kosova, AFP reported. Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic, however, said after meeting with U.S. envoy Christopher Hill the same day that the "humanitarian catastrophe that we have been hearing about is not based on reality." He insisted that Serbian officials are providing tens of thousands of displaced ethnic Albanians with food and shelter. Dienstbier said he witnessed a "disproportional use of force" and that Belgrade's goal appeared "not only to get the fighters of the [Kosova Liberation Army] but to prevent the return of the population to these areas." Dienstbier called for Belgrade to declare an amnesty for ethnic Albanians not suspected of committing war crimes. PB UCK POLITICAL LEADER RESIGNS. Adem Demaci, the political spokesman of the Kosova Liberation Army (UCK), said on 21 September that he is withdrawing from politics for health reasons, Reuters reported. A statement said Demaci's health has deteriorated, and doctors recommend that he "disengage from all political activities for as long as possible." Demaci, 68, spent 28 years in Yugoslav prisons as a political prisoner. He has repeatedly voiced his opposition to a negotiated settlement with Belgrade over the status of Kosova. He is also the main political opponent of Kosovar "shadow state" President Ibrahim Rugova. PB PLAVSIC CONCEDES ELECTION DEFEAT. Bosnian Serb President Biljana Plavsic has acknowledged losing her bid for reelection to ultranationalist Nikola Poplasen, AP reported on 21 September. Although final results of the 12-13 September vote are to be released later this week, many Western officials involved in the election have indicated that Poplasen is far ahead. Poplasen, leader of the chauvinist Serbian Radical Party (SRS) and an ally of indicted war criminal Radovan Karadzic, said he will follow the Dayton agreement "to the letter, nothing more and nothing less." The U.S. Embassy in Sarajevo warned Americans not to travel through Serbian-controlled parts of Bosnia because the "emotional tone of the political rhetoric" may "heighten tensions in the area." The OSCE's Election Appeals Subcommission issued a warning to Poplasen and Bosnian Serb Premier Milorad Dodik for violating a pre-election media blackout. The subcommission also disqualified nine SRS candidates standing for the parliament. PB SLOVENIAN OFFICIALS WORRIED ABOUT FARMERS. Emil Erjavec, a member of the Slovenian EU negotiating team who is charge of agriculture, said on 21 September that Slovenian farmers will have a hard time competing as members of the EU, Reuters reported. Slovenia began negotiations on joining the EU in March and hopes to join by 2003. The Agriculture Ministry said it will cost some $120-150 million in just the next two years to bring Slovenian agriculture up to EU standards. Erjavec said the parliament is expected to appropriate money by the end of the year to finance improvements in the agriculture sector. PB ACCUSED CROATIAN WAR CRIMINALS GO ON TRIAL. Three Croats alleged to have committed atrocities against Serbs in 1991 declined to enter a plea at their trial in Zagreb on 21 September, AP reported. It is the first time that Croats are being tried in Croatia for atrocities against Serbs. The three are charged--along with six others being tried in absentia--with the abduction, extortion, and murder of hundreds of ethnic Serbs in the Pakracka Poljana region, southeast of Zagreb. PB KAZAKH PRESIDENT IN ROMANIA. Nursultan Nazarbayev, who is on a two-day visit to Romania, met with President Emil Constantinescu, Prime Minister Radu Vasile and other officials on 21 September, RFE/RL's Bucharest bureau reported. They discussed the TRACECA transport corridor and the possibility of transporting Caspian oil to Europe via the Romanian Black Sea port of Constanta. Last month, Kazakhstan granted concessions to Romania for the exploitation of two oil fields. Constantinescu and Nazarbayev signed an accord on avoiding double taxation, a consular agreement, as well as agreements on cultural collaboration and on consultation between the two countries' Foreign Ministries. Nazarbayev said that the two countries can learn from each other's experience on reform. He emphasized that his country is "neither part of the Soviet Union nor of Russia" and has not been affected by the current Russian crisis. MS TUDOR SAYS ETHNIC HUNGARIANS TO DECLARE TRANSYLVANIA AUTONOMOUS. Corneliu Vadim Tudor, leader of the extremist Greater Romania Party (PRM), told the Senate on 21 September that a report prepared by "one of [Romania's] secret services" demonstrates that the Hungarian Democratic Federation of Romania (UDMR) will soon declare Transylvania's territorial autonomy. He said similar reports in the past were ignored by the presidential office and by the government, according to Mediafax. The media recently carried reports on a document signed by an ethnic Romanian from Cluj, who called for Transylvania's autonomy and said he is "fed up with Romania." He said he was making that call on behalf of the Pro Transylvania foundation, but it later transpired that the foundation has not been registered. Opposition parties, including the PRM, the Party of Social Democracy in Romania, and the Party of Romanian National Unity accused the government of condoning plans aimed at the country's "federalization." MS FORMER BULGARIAN KING CALLS FOR NATIONAL UNITY. In an address carried by BTA, former King Simeon II urged Bulgarians to drop political and ethnic differences and work together to establish democracy and a market economy as well as to fight corruption and crime, AP reported. The address was delivered on the occasion of the anniversary marking 90 years of Bulgarian independence from Turkey, which had been declared by Simeon's grandfather, Ferdinand. The anniversary was recently restored as a public holiday by Bulgaria's government, having been banned after the communist take over in 1944. 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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