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RFE/RL NEWSLINE Vol 2, No. 193, Part II, 6 October 1998
___________________________________________________________ RFE/RL NEWSLINE Vol 2, No. 193, Part II, 6 October 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 * PUSTOVOYTENKO SAYS WORLD BANK TO CONTINUE SUPPORT TO UKRAINE * MILOSEVIC REBUKES HOLBROOKE * DJUKANOVIC BLASTS MILOSEVIC End Note: THE LATVIAN CHALLENGE xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx EAST-CENTRAL EUROPE PUSTOVOYTENKO SAYS WORLD BANK TO CONTINUE SUPPORT TO UKRAINE. Ukrainian Prime Minister Valeriy Pustovoytenko has said the World Bank is ready to help Ukraine promote economic reforms, Interfax reported on 5 October. Pustovoytenko added that he had "very productive talks" with World Bank President James Wolfensohn in Washington and that Wolfensohn had "confirmed our cooperation." Pustovoytenko pledged that Ukraine will not default on its debts. Ukraine has already received $1.23 billion in loans from the World Bank. Last month, the World Bank decided to give Ukraine $900 million for four projects to be implemented by the end of 1999. JM OFFICIAL MONTHLY INFLATION RATE IN UKRAINE REACHES 3.8 PERCENT. The State Statistics Committee has reported that the monthly inflation rate rose to 3.8 percent in September, up from 0.2 percent in August, Ukrainian News reported on 5 October. However, experts believe that figure is grossly understated. "In this manner, the government is trying to lower inflationary expectations," the agency quoted one expert as saying. The official inflation rate for the first nine months in Ukraine was 6.1 percent. The official hryvnya exchange rate fell by 51 percent in September. JM UKRAINIAN SPEAKER OPPOSES VOTE OF NO CONFIDENCE IN CABINET. Ukrainian Supreme Council speaker Oleksandr Tkachenko has said he is opposing a vote of no confidence in the government, ITAR-TASS reported on 5 October. A total of 202 deputies have supported a motion by the Hromada party and the Socialist Party to put the issue on the parliamentary agenda. The cabinet is expected to deliver a report on the economic situation to the legislature on 13 October. Tkachenko said that under Ukraine's current financial straits, the parliament should seek to avert a political crisis. He added that he does not rule out the possibility of replacing some ministers but is against ousting the entire cabinet. JM BELARUS REACHES 'FULL UNDERSTANDING' ON DEBTS WITH RUSSIA. Belarusian Deputy Prime Minister Vasil Dalhalyou told Interfax on 5 October that Belarus and Russia have reached "full understanding" on mutual debts. Dalhalyou added that Belarus's $220 million debt for Russian gas deliveries will be paid in full in goods and services. The previous day, Belarusian Deputy Prime Minister Valeryy Kokarau told Belarusian Television that, given the current shortage of cash, "there is no alternative to barter settlements within the Union of Belarus and Russia." Dalhalyou also admitted that the Russian financial crisis has dealt a "painful blow" to Belarus. Before the crisis, Belarus's assets in Russian banks amounted to 220 million rubles ($14 million) and $50 million. JM ESTONIA WELCOMES OUTCOME OF LATVIAN CITIZENSHIP REFERENDUM. Tallinn has welcomed Latvians' approval of amendments to the country's citizenship law that ease restrictions on granting citizenship to non-Latvian residents, BNS and Reuters reported on 5 October. The Estonian Foreign Ministry said in a statement that the results of the referendum "confirm convincingly that the issues of the integration of non- citizens in Latvia are solved according to the highest international standards." The same day, the OSCE High Commissioner for National Minorities Max van der Stoel said he is pleased with the results of the Latvian referendum and hopes Estonia will also liberalize its citizenship law. The Estonian government has proposed amendments to the citizenship law that are similar to those passed in Latvia. JC POST-ELECTION MANEUVERING GETS UNDER WAY IN LATVIA. Latvia's Way, which came a close second to the People's Party in the 3 October elections, has held talks with the New Party on forming a possible coalition government, BNS and Reuters reported. A Latvia's Way spokeswoman said the New Party had showed it would support a government headed by Transport Minister Vilis Kristopans. Maris Grinblats, the leader of the Fatherland and Freedom party, said his formation would agree to cooperate in the formation of a new government with Latvia's Way. Grinblats added that his formation also respects Latvia's Way choice of Kristopans as premier. Meanwhile, the winner of the elections, the People's Party, has said it want to begin talks with Latvia's Way and that such discussions could begin as early as 6 October. JC SIEGERIST BOWS OUT. Joahim Siegerist, co-chairman of the extreme nationalist People's Movement for Latvia party, announced his intention to resign from that post on 4 October, BNS reported. Siegerist issued a statement saying he assumed full responsibility his party's failure to gain entry to the parliament. According to preliminary results, the People's Movement for Latvia won less than 2 percent of the vote. In the 1995 elections, in which it won 16 seats in the parliament, Siegerist's party formed the third largest faction at the time, after the Democratic Party Saimnieks and Latvia's Way, and remained in opposition. JC POLISH LOCAL ELECTION CAMPAIGN HEATS UP. Less than a week before the 11 October elections, the ruling Solidarity Electoral Action (AWS) has accused the opposition Democratic Left Alliance (SLD) of using "unethical and illegal methods" of campaigning by showing AWS candidates in the SLD's television spots and advertising SLD election slogans on beer bottles, Polish media reported. The SLD accused Solidarity leader Marian Krzaklewski of "Bolshevist thinking" for his statement that the local elections will be the "true decommunization" of Poland (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 5 October 1998). Premier Jerzy Buzek, meanwhile, has rejected President Aleksander Kwasniewski's criticism that the government is dragging its feet on administrative reform. Buzek's spokesman commented that Kwasniewski has joined "the false voices of the opposition." A recent poll shows the SLD and AWS running neck-and-neck, with 22 and 21 percent support, respectively. JM CZECH MINISTER AGAINST ASSIMILATION POLICY FOR ROMA. Pavel Rychetsky, a deputy prime minister, has said that the country's Romany community should maintain its language and cultural identity and should integrate, not assimilate, into society, CTK reported on 6 October. Rychetsky, whose portfolio includes legislation and human rights, said he strongly rejects a statement made the previous day by opposition deputy Miroslav Macek calling for the Roma to assimilate into Czech society. Rychetsky said he hoped Macek's program is not similar to that of "Adolf Eichmann and Josif Dzhugashvili [Stalin]." Peter Uhl, the government commissioner for human rights, said there is often a tendency to try and assimilate the Roma and that this strips them of their ethnic identity. PB CZECH POLITICIANS WANT SLOVAKIA IN FIRST WAVE. Deputy Premier Egon Lansky said the Czech Republic must help Slovakia catch up with the lead group of countries in joining Western European structures, CTK reported on 4 October. Lansky, speaking on Czech Television, said Prague must "keep Slovakia on our side of Europe and not let it slip in the direction of an insecure East end of Europe." Civic Democratic Alliance Senator Michael Zantovsky said he was pleased by the election results in Slovakia and added that the Czech Republic must help the new Slovak government on "its parallel path toward European and trans-Atlantic structures." PB SLOVAK PARTIES DISAGREE OVER ELECTION OF PRESIDENT. The parties likely to form the next Slovak coalition government disagree over the means of electing the next president, the daily "Sme" reported on 6 October. The Slovak Democratic Coalition and the Hungarian Coalition Party want a popular presidential election, while the Party of Civic Understanding and the Party of the Democratic Left want the parliament to quickly elect a new president for a two-year term and then hold a popular election when that term expires. Slovakia has been without a president since Michal Kovac's term expired on 2 March. In other news, Wolfgang Schuessel, foreign minister of Austria, which currently holds the EU rotating presidency, said on 5 October in Luxembourg that the EU would like to see the new Slovak government formed as soon as possible. He said it is premature to predict if Slovakia can be added to the first wave of candidates for EU integration. PB HUNGARY TO JOIN EU FIRST? EU Industry Commissioner Martin Bangemann on 5 October told Hungarian Economics Minister Attila Chikan that Hungary will be the first country among those aspiring for membership to join the EU. After a private meeting in Vienna, Chikan told reporters that Bangemann talked about the possibility of Hungary's EU membership in 2002 with "pleasing unambiguity." In other news, Defense Minister Janos Szabo and his Slovenian counterpart, Alojz Krapez, signed an agreement in Misefa, Hungary, on military cooperation and the protection of classified military information. Szabo said Hungary believes NATO "must be open toward Slovenia." MSZ SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE MILOSEVIC REBUKES HOLBROOKE... Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic told U.S. special envoys Richard Holbrooke and Christopher Hill in Belgrade on 5 October that NATO air strikes against Serbia would be a "criminal act." Milosevic added that the international community should "contribute to the revival of the political process instead of [resorting to] pressure and threats." He repeated his assertion that the authorities in Kosova ended their crackdown one week ago, a view with which Holbrooke publicly disagreed. The Yugoslav leader added that the U.S. position on Kosova amounts to "support for Albanian terrorists." The following day, Holbrooke and Hill went to Prishtina for meetings with Kosovar leaders. Observers suggested that the two diplomats now face several days of shuttle diplomacy between Belgrade and Prishtina in an effort to persuade the two sides to accept an interim settlement. PM ...WHILE BULATOVIC SEEKS TO BUY TIME. Yugoslav Prime Minister Momir Bulatovic told the parliament on 5 October that the government accepts Russia's recommendation that the OSCE send a mission to Kosova to see whether Belgrade has met the UN Security Council's demands on ending the conflict there. Opposition deputies suggested, however, that Bulatovic's proposal is aimed at buying time. The government earlier rejected several attempts by the OSCE to send missions to Yugoslavia on the grounds that the organization has not granted Belgrade membership. At the 5 October legislative session, the prime minister also asked the parliament to approve a sales tax of up to 4 percent to provide additional funds for the military. Bulatovic called upon journalists to report on Kosova in a "professional, responsible, and truthful fashion." PM SERBIAN MINISTER THREATENS JOURNALISTS. Serbian Information Minister Aleksandar Vucic sent a statement to several independent broadcasters on 5 October charging that they rebroadcast "programs produced for the services of propaganda and psychological war by the Western forces." He added that their participation in the distribution of such programming represents an "act of espionage and a direct attack on the constitutional system and legal order." The minister pointed out that those who participate in such activities will be "suitably punished," independent Radio B-92 reported. Vucic belongs to the Serbian Radical Party of Deputy Prime Minister Vojislav Seselj, who recently threatened to take independent journalists and opposition politicians hostage in the event of NATO air strikes (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 30 September 1998). PM DJUKANOVIC BLASTS MILOSEVIC. Montenegrin President Milo Djukanovic, who is a leading critic of Milosevic's political and economic policies and the arch-rival of Bulatovic, said on television in Podgorica on 5 October that the Belgrade leadership bears primary responsibility for the conflict in Kosova (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 5 October 1998). Djukanovic charged that Milosevic's policies there amount to a "one- sided, excessive, and indiscriminate [form of] anti- terrorism," which has spared neither property nor human lives, RFE/RL's South Slavic Service reported. The Montenegrin leader added that Milosevic has contributed to regional instability by fomenting ethnic mistrust and hatred. Djukanovic argued that the Yugoslav leader is trying to undermine democracy in Montenegro by feuding with the international community and "promoting chaos at home." Montenegrin Deputy Prime Minister Novak Kilibarda said that Montenegrin conscripts will do military service only in their own republic if Belgrade declares a state of emergency. PM CLINTON WARNS OF 'FALSE PROMISES.' U.S. President Bill Clinton told his Russian counterpart, Boris Yeltsin, in a telephone conversation on 5 October that the international community must not allow Milosevic to continue "playing the classic game of making false promises designed to remove international pressure." Clinton added that Milosevic must comply with UN demands in a way that is "verifiable, tangible and irreversible." En route from Washington to Jerusalem, U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright told reporters that "there would probably have to be some kind of international presence" to help implement any peace settlement in Kosova, but added that NATO's planning other than for air strikes is "very fluid." She stressed that Washington's main aim is to produce a settlement, not "to use force for the sake of using force." PM ANNAN LEAVES DECISION TO SECURITY COUNCIL. In a long-awaited report released on 5 October, UN Secretary General Kofi Annan said that he lacks sufficient "people on the ground" in Kosova to enable him to judge whether Milosevic has met the Security Council's demands. Annan concluded that the council will have to decide the issue for itself, including whether to authorize NATO air strikes. Russian and Chinese diplomats said that they will oppose any such authorization. In his report, Annan condemned "appalling atrocities" in Kosova, adding that "it is clear beyond any reasonable doubt that the great majority of such acts have been committed" by the Yugoslav forces. In Brussels, NATO Secretary-General Javier Solana said that there is enough evidence to indicate that Milosevic has not met the UN's demands. PM COOK SAYS EU READY TO 'BACK FORCE.' Speaking to the BBC on 5 October after a conference of EU foreign ministers in Luxembourg, British Foreign Secretary Robin Cook said that the ministers "want Milosevic to comply with the United Nations resolution [on Kosova], to stop the hostilities, withdraw his forces and allow the refugees to get home. If he will not do that without the use of force, Britain is ready to back force. I got a very clear message yesterday from that meeting that we are agreed on the two important issues. First of all we are absolutely determined that Milosevic must adhere to the Security Council resolution. And secondly we are all agreed that if necessary, and none of us wants to do it, force must be used to make him comply with the Security Council resolution...a resolution that Russia voted for." PM ALBANIA OFFERS TO ASSIST NATO WITH AIR STRIKES. Foreign Minister Paskal Milo told Reuters in Tirana on 5 October that "Albania will offer all its facilities" for possible NATO air raids on targets in Serbia. Milo stressed that Yugoslav forces have failed to withdraw, as the Security Council demanded, and that the "way is open" for tough measures by the international community. He added that "we are convinced the reaction from the international community will be very strong." Paolo Tonegutti, head of NATO's newly opened office in Tirana, declined to say if the Atlantic alliance is working with Albania to prepare for possible air strikes. He noted, however, that "everything Albania has done during [recent military] exercises is more or less what Albania can do for NATO in any other event." Albania has provided airport facilities, medical infrastructure, and training areas to the alliance. FS NEW ALBANIAN FINANCE MINISTER SUSPENDS CUSTOMS INSPECTORS. Anastas Angjeli on 4 October ordered the suspension of 48 customs inspectors, whom the previous administration of Prime Minister Fatos Nano had hired without requiring them to pass a mandatory test. A Finance Ministry spokesman told the ATSH news agency that the move is designed to increase efficiency and fight corruption. He added that the inspectors can return to their jobs once they pass the examination. Meanwhile, newly appointed Information Minister Musa Ulqini told Radio Tirana on 5 October that his priority is to help transform Albanian Radio and Television (RTSH) from a state-run into a public broadcasting institution. The parliament on 1 October approved a new law regulating public and private broadcasting, which paves the way for a thorough reform of RTSH and clarifies the legal status of private broadcasters. FS ROMANIAN PRIME MINISTER ENDS WASHINGTON VISIT. Radu Vasile said on 5 October that he urged international financial institutions to have patience with Romania, an RFE/RL correspondent in Washington reported. Vasile, speaking at the end of a working visit to the U.S., said he was told that the pace of reform in his country must increase if Bucharest wants international loans. In a radio interview earlier the same day, Vasile said it would be "crazy" for Romania to sign a multimillion-dollar deal with Bell Helicopters. Vasile said the deal would increase the country's debt by $1.5 billion. Vasile's government had supported the deal, while the IMF and Vasile's finance minister opposed it. PB TURKISH MILITARY CHIEF EXPRESSES SUPPORT FOR BUCHAREST. General Constantin Degeratu, the Romanian army's chief of staff, and his Turkish counterpart, General Husein Kivrikoglu, met in Bucharest on 5 October, Rompres reported. Degeratu said that the Romanian army was at a critical moment in its history and needed strong support from the Turkish army so that Romania could meet its interoperability goals and be better prepared for NATO accession. Kivrikoglu said that Ankara "will back up, as it has done up to now, Romania's wish to enter NATO structures." The two also agreed to cooperate in fighting terrorism and organized crime. PB COMMUNIST PARTY RETURNS TO MOLDOVAN PARLIAMENT. The Moldovan Communist Party, the largest faction in the parliament, returned to the legislature on 5 October after a week-long boycott, Infotag reported. Vadim Mishin, chairman of the parliament's Committee for State Security and Public Order, said the decision to return was based on meetings between party members and their supporters. "The voters understand the current situation in parliament...and unanimously back us." Mishin said the Communists will continue to oppose laws of a "reformist character" because such legislation is against the interests of the people and is passed only owing to the pressure of "international financial organizations." PB SOFIA READIES MINORITY PROTECTION LEGISLATION. The Bulgarian government on 5 October approved legislation to ratify the 1995 Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities, BTA reported. President Petar Stoyanov signed the convention in 1995 but needed government approval before it could be sent to parliament for ratification. Legislators will be asked to approve an additional declaration that defines what constitutes a "national minority" in Bulgaria. Some 10 percent of the population is made up of ethnic Turks. Meanwhile, the National Statistics Institute in Sofia reported that in the second quarter of this year, GDP was 10.9 percent higher than in the first quarter, BTA reported on 5 October. PB END NOTE THE LATVIAN CHALLENGE by Paul Goble By reaffirming their commitment to the inclusion of those who moved into their country while it was under Soviet occupation, the Latvian people have presented a series of new challenges to the Russian Federation, the West, and perhaps especially to themselves. On 3 October, Latvian voters rejected by a vote of 53 percent to 45 percent a referendum that would have repealed an act of the Latvian parliament in June eliminating a number of restrictions on naturalization procedures for non-citizens living in Latvia. Because most of those falling into this category are ethnic Russians who moved into Latvia during Soviet occupation, Moscow, the West, and many ethnic Russians in Latvia itself viewed the removal of these restrictions as a necessary step toward Latvia's establishment of a civil society and its full integration into the international community. And each of these groups took steps to press the Latvian government and people to move in this direction. The Russian government regularly denounced Riga for its past approach to non-citizens, and some in Moscow have taken more direct steps to try to force Latvia to change its direction. Western governments have lobbied the Latvian authorities both directly and through the offices of the OSCE High Commissioner for National Minorities Max van der Stoel. They have pointed out the risks to Latvia if it failed to meet what they called European standards in this area. And non-citizens in Latvia itself often protested against what they claimed was discrimination against them, although as many Latvians have pointed out only a very small percentage of those eligible in the past actually sought to become citizens of the country. But now that Latvians have rejected the referendum and thus reaffirmed their commitment to the integration of the non-citizens on their territory, this step presents some new challenges to everyone involved. To the Russian government, the Latvian vote removes one of the most neuralgic issues in the relationship between Moscow and Riga. It undercuts the recent diplomatic and press campaign that Russians have launched against the Latvian authorities. And it means that Russian efforts to advance Moscow's influence in Latvia will need to find a new direction. Almost certainly, the volume of Russian attacks against Latvia will decline at least in the short term. After all, the Latvian voters have adopted what many in Moscow said they wanted. While this may mean that Moscow will seek to raise additional issues about the status of non-citizens in Latvia, it could also lead Moscow to refocus its attacks on Estonia, the other Baltic country that Russia has said is mistreating its non-citizens. To the West, the Latvian vote presents an even greater challenge. Western officials made it clear to Latvian leaders that the West would find it difficult to support Latvia if its voters scrapped the modifications in the citizenship legislation. According to Latvian President Guntis Ulmanis, these Western representatives had indicated that their governments would have been less willing to back Latvian membership in key Western institutions like the EU and NATO and less willing to defend Latvia against Russian charges of ethnic discrimination. Now that the Latvian voters have done what the Western officials said needed to be done, many in Latvia will be looking to see whether the West will reward Riga for the step it has taken. One indication that at least some in the West are prepared to do so was an announcement by the U.S. State Department on 5 October that Washington was releasing $500,000 to help make the Latvian naturalization process more accessible. Another was the statement by German Foreign Minister Klaus Kinkel that the vote means that "an important barrier has been lifted on Latvia's road to the European Union." And yet a third was the announcement by Sweden that it will also provide additional help to the Latvian government. But many Latvians are likely to be looking for even more support from the West. Articles in the Latvian press indicate that many in that country believe they have now met standards on citizenship higher than those that exist in many other European countries. And that represents the third and probably greatest challenge arising from this vote--the one to the Latvian people themselves. They now have the obligation to make this system work, to implement in day-to-day life the provisions of the laws they have now approved. That will not be easy, especially given the feelings that this referendum both aroused and reflected. But it is likely to be less difficult in the long term than putting into practice something about which few are saying very much at the moment. That is the acceptance of the principle that building a civil society and returning to the West cannot be achieved by any single action, however noble. Rather, these goals require a process that will make demands on Latvia even as it continues to make the kind of progress that the outcome of this referendum reflects. xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx Copyright (c) 1998 RFE/RL, Inc. All rights reserved. xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx HOW TO SUBSCRIBE Send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org with the word subscribe as the subject of the message. HOW TO UNSUBSCRIBE Send an email to email@example.com with the word unsubscribe as the subject of the message. 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