|I'm going to turn on the light, and we'll be two people in a room looking at each other and wondering why on earth we were afraid of the dark. - Gale Wilhelm|
RFE/RL NEWSLINE Vol 2, No. 186, Part II, 25 September 1998
___________________________________________________________ RFE/RL NEWSLINE Vol 2, No. 186, Part II, 25 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 GOVERNMENT CREATES STATE BROADCASTING GIANT * WESTERN OFFICIALS WARN MILOSEVIC * NANO REAFFIRMED BY PARTY xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx EAST-CENTRAL EUROPE UKRAINIAN GOVERNMENT CREATES STATE BROADCASTING GIANT... In accordance with a recent presidential edict, the Ukrainian government on 24 September announced the establishment of Ukrainian Television and Radio Broadcasting, a state shareholding company that will unite state-run broadcast media, AP reported. Several national television channels and radio stations as well as 27 regional state-run television and radio companies that are not subject to privatization will be united in the new entity. The cabinet appointed Mykola Knyazhytskyy as the company's board chairman. Information Minister Zynoviy Kulyk said the government is currently able to finance only some 20 percent of broadcasters' needs. "It is entirely possible that we shall cut the national radio broadcasts, for instance, from 22 hours a day to seven or eight hours," the agency quoted him as saying. JM ...TRIES TO CALM PUBLIC FEAR OF FINANCIAL COLLAPSE. Ukraine's regional government leaders agreed on 24 September to launch a nationwide information campaign to restore confidence in the national currency, AP reported. In the wake of the Russian crisis, the Ukrainian hryvnya has fallen from 2.1 to $1 in mid-August to $3.25 to $1 on 24 September. Official estimates put the inflation rate in September at 7.5 percent, up from 0.2 percent last month. Deputy Prime Minister Serhiy Tyhypko told regional leaders that "psychological factors" have played a "most significant role" in Ukraine's current economic slump. National Bank Chairman Viktor Yushchenko added that panic among the population is the only obstacle to stabilizing the hryvnya and curbing inflation. JM UKRAINIAN PENSIONERS TRADE UNPAID PENSIONS FOR FOOD. Authorities in 14 towns in Kharkiv Oblast have organized fairs at which local pensioners can obtain food as compensation for pension arrears, the daily "Fakty" reported on 24 September. Some 3,000 people in the town of Valky are able to choose among pork, beef, milk, sugar, and other foodstuffs provided by enterprises that owe money to the State Pension Fund. Despite the government's repeated attempts to crack down on debtor enterprises, the total debt to the fund remains virtually unchanged, at some $3 billion hryvni ($900 million). JM LUKASHENKA SAYS BELARUS SHOULD EMBRACE CHRISTIAN VALUES. Belarusian President Alyaksandr Lukashenka told visiting Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia Aleksei II that Christian values should become "the state ideology of Belarus," ITAR- TASS reported on 24 September. "We are an Orthodox country and we will always be devoted to Orthodoxy," Lukashenka told the patriarch, who is on a four-day visit to Belarus. Lukashenka added that Aleksei II is the only man in whom he "unconditionally trusts." Speaking about his initial impressions of Belarus, Aleksei II said the country is leading a "normal life. A lot has been done to increase the birth rate. While flying to Minsk, we saw harvested fields." JM ESTONIAN GOVERNMENT ADOPTS 1999 DRAFT BUDGET. The cabinet on 24 September adopted a 1999 draft budget whose volume is 18.451 billion kroons ($1.37 billion), ETA reported. The budget surplus of 20 million kroons will be channeled into the stabilization fund, a government spokesman told the news agency, adding that the cabinet will continue to boost the fund next year. Finance Minister Mart Opmann noted that all ministers have managed to cut their budgets by 2 percent, while the expenditures of the national investment program have been reduced by 10 percent. The deadline for submitting the budget to the parliament is 30 September. JC MOSCOW ACCUSES LATVIAN PRESIDENT OF 'UNFRIENDLY' UN SPEECH... The Russian Foreign Ministry has issued a statement accusing Guntis Ulmanis of delivering an "openly unfriendly" speech to the UN General Assembly in New York, Russian news agencies reported on 24 September. The ministry said that Ulmanis's speech was based on "speculation on historical themes in which an anti-Russian undercurrent was clearly discernible." It added that Ulmanis sought to shift the blame for the "intolerable status" of Latvia's national minorities on to the "consequences of Soviet occupation," rather than the "discriminatory" policies of the Latvian government. JC ...WHILE LATVIAN OFFICIAL REJECTS ACCUSATION. Latvian Foreign Ministry Secretary of State Maris Riekstins told BNS on 25 September that no "subtexts" or "unfriendly gestures" could be found in Ulmanis's speech to the UN General Assembly. "The issues addressed by Ulmanis were internationally well-known facts about the tragic history of the Baltic States and Europe," Riekstins said. Ulmanis had called on nations to address the issue of "one of the most inhuman regimes--Soviet totalitarianism," adding that Latvia is ready to "cooperate actively." Noting that the Latvian people survived both the Nazi and the Communist occupations, he argued that he therefore has the "full right to call on the world community to do everything so that neither the brown nor the red plague endangers humanity ever again." JC LATVIAN PARLIAMENT AGREES TO REVISE LAW ON PENSIONS. Lawmakers have voted to revise the newly adopted amendments to the pensions law, BNS reported on 24 September. President Ulmanis returned those amendments to the parliament earlier this week. Welfare Minister Vladimirs Makarovs threatened to resign after the amendments were adopted, saying they are "unfeasible" (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 18 September 1998). But Prime Minister Guntars Krasts has asked him to remain in office. JC KRZAKLEWSKI RE-ELECTED SOLIDARITY LEADER... The 10th Solidarity Congress has re-elected Marian Krzaklewski chairman of the Solidarity trade union until 2002, "Gazeta Wyborcza" reported on 25 September. Krzaklewski, who was the only candidate for the post, received 256 votes out of the 321 delegates who voted. Krzaklewski repeated his pledge to resign as chairman of Solidarity Electoral Action (AWS), a party created by Solidarity to win the last parliamentary elections. He also promised to cede 80 percent of his powers as AWS parliamentary caucus leader to the AWS Presidium. JM ...WHILE WALESA PANS SOLIDARITY FOR POLITICAL INVOLVEMENT. Addressing the congress, former Solidarity leader Lech Walesa bitterly criticized the trade union for its political involvement and its failure to defend employees' rights. "I see that my children have gone astray. I am going to give you a fatherly admonition," he told the delegates. Walesa reproved Solidarity leaders for combining trade union and government tasks, which, he argued, corrupts both institutions "Trade unions cannot be a transmission belt between the party and the masses. That is a Bolshevik practice that completely distorts the idea of a trade union," he commented. JM HUNGARY, SLOVAKIA ORDERED TO APPEAR IN THE HAGUE. The International Court of Justice in the Hague has ordered representatives of Hungary and Slovakia to appear before the court on 7 October in connection with their dispute over the Danube hydropower project. Slovakia had appealed to the court earlier this month (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 3 September 1998). In other news, the EU has warned Hungary that unless it proposes suitable projects on which to spend the 34 million ECU ($29.3 million) remaining in its allocation in the 1995 PHARE budget, it will have to forfeit that money. MSZ HUNGARY READY TO SUPPORT POSSIBLE NATO ACTION IN KOSOVA. Hungary will provide logistical support and offer the use of its military bases and air space to assist in possible NATO operation in Kosova, the Hungarian delegation attending the NATO conference in Vilamoura, Portugal, said on 24 September. Foreign Minister Janos Martonyi told Hungarian journalists in New York that his country has not yet received a request to take part in any operation, but if a request is made, the parliament "must approve any such participation." MSZ SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE WESTERN OFFICIALS WARN MILOSEVIC. The U.S. and Germany on 24 September warned Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic to comply with UN and NATO demands for a cease-fire in Kosova soon or face an ultimatum. U.S. Defense Minister William Cohen, speaking at the NATO meeting in Vilamoura, said that "time is of the essence" and that NATO's "credibility is on the line." His German counterpart, Volker Ruehe, said failure by Belgrade to end Serbian offensives could lead to NATO issuing an ultimatum in as soon as 10 days. U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright said in New York that Milosevic must end the "tragedy in Kosova" or face military intervention. Russian officials argue that another UN mandate is needed before military action can take place. On 24 September, the Russian Foreign Ministry stressed its opposition to NATO air strikes in Kosova. But contact group countries U.S., Germany, and Britain argue that further UN approval is not needed for military strikes. PB MILOSEVIC SAYS THREATS WON'T SOLVE PROBLEM. Yugoslav President Milosevic said on 24 September that NATO threats "only feed the illusions" of the Kosova Liberation Army (UCK), AP reported. During a meeting with UN High Commissioner for Refugees Sadako Ogata, Milosevic said "pressure on Yugoslavia" did not help solve the problem. In a meeting of his ruling Socialist Party the same day, Milosevic said "Albanian separatism and terrorism" are to blame for the crisis, and he declared that "the rooting out of terrorism" is the country's top priority. UN spokesman Fernando del Mundo said in Prishtina that some 15,000 civilians have fled the latest Serbian offensive in the central Drenica region. Serbian forces are reportedly routing UCK resistance in the area. PB RUGOVA ALLY WOUNDED IN ATTACK. A top aide to ethnic Albanian leader Ibrahim Rugova, Sabri Hamiti, has been wounded by an unknown gunman in Prishtina, Reuters reported on 25 September. Hamiti was hit by three bullets, but his condition is reported not serious. Hamiti is a member of the General Council of Rugova's Democratic League of Kosova. A writer, Hamiti is also president of the Kosova chapter of PEN. In Tirana, hundreds of people attended the funeral of Ahmet Krasniqi, who was murdered earlier this week (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 22 September 1998). Krasniqi was the top defense official of the Kosova government-in-exile's Armed Forces of the Republic of Kosova, a rival to the UCK. PB NANO REAFFIRMED BY PARTY... Albanian Prime Minister Fatos Nano was given the full support of his party's top leadership at a meeting of the Socialist Party in Tirana on 24 September. Nano said after the meeting that he is convinced he "has not lost the confidence" or trust of his party. The party leadership also approved the continuation of the coalition government. Nano called the meeting after being criticized by some members of his party for his handling of the uprising in the capital on 12 September. In other news, U.S. President Bill Clinton sent a letter to Albanian President Rexhep Mejdani urging him to mediate a dialogue between the government and the opposition to end "violence and polarization," which Clinton said is a "destructive force in Albania's development." PB ...ANNOUNCES STABILIZATION PLAN. Nano also announced a plan that aims to help reduce tensions in Albania and restore stability, Reuters reported. Nano said the government will step up efforts to find those responsible for the killing of deputy Azem Hajdari, which sparked days of violence in the city. He added that the state will purge itself of police that took part in the violence or the demonstrations that followed. His three-month plan also targets economic stability and corruption, which he said will be tackled by reforming the justice system, customs, and tax collection. Interior Ministry spokesman Artan Bizhga said the leader of the Monarchy Party, Ekrem Spahia, has been arrested for his actions in the "armed uprising." PB EU OFFICIAL CONCERNED ABOUT ALBANIA. Hans van den Broek, EU commissioner responsible for Eastern and Central European affairs, said that no one in the EU supports the actions of former Albanian President Sali Berisha, ATA reported on 24 September. Van den Broek said "we continue to be concerned about the developments in Albania." He singled out the fact that "both the ruling parties and the opposition" are not cooperating to normalize the situation. Van den Broek made his comments to Albanian Foreign Minister Paskal Milo at the UN in New York. PB NATO WILL MAINTAIN ROLE IN BOSNIA. NATO Secretary-General Javier Solana said on 24 September that the alliance "will not abandon Bosnia," AP reported. Solana, speaking after the NATO meeting in Portugal, said the international peacekeeping force in Bosnia-Herzegovina "will continue to play a pro- active role" in maintaining security in the country. U.S. Defense Secretary William Cohen said that some NATO allies are hoping that "military forces and missions can shrink as civilian authorities play a larger role" in Bosnia. The peacekeeping operation is to be reviewed in December. PB BOSNIAN SERB MODERATES SIGN AGREEMENT. Three top moderate Bosnian Serb politicians signed an agreement in Banja Luka on 24 September pledging to continue to advance democratic and economic reforms, dpa reported. Republika Srpska President Biljana Plavsic, Premier Milorad Dodik, and Zivko Radisic, whose parties formed a coalition in the elections, signed the accord. While Plavsic has conceded defeat in her bid for re- election, many observers say that Radisic beat Serbian hard- liner Momcilo Krajisnik for the Serbian seat of the Bosnian presidency. PB MACEDONIAN POLICE ARREST SUSPECTED UCK MEMBER. Macedonian police said on 24 September that they had arrested an ethnic Albanian suspected of carrying out bomb attacks in Macedonia, AFP reported. The man is part of a UCK squad arrested during a police operation on 17 September in which another man was killed. The police are seeking two others who escaped. Police suspect the group of eight bomb attacks at police and military installations in several Macedonian towns between December 1997 and July 1998. PB 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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