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RFE/RL NEWSLINE Vol 2, No. 195, Part II, 8 October 1998
___________________________________________________________ RFE/RL NEWSLINE Vol 2, No. 195, Part II, 8 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 * U.K. IMPOSES VISA REGIME ON SLOVAKS * CLINTON WARNS MILOSEVIC * SERBIAN AUTHORITIES BAN REBROADCASTING xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx EAST-CENTRAL EUROPE TKACHENKO PLEDGES SUPPORT TO YUGOSLAVIA IN KOSOVA CRISIS. Ukrainian parliamentary speaker Oleksandr Tkachenko told the Yugoslav ambassador to Ukraine on 7 October that Ukraine will give Yugoslavia "material and moral support" in the Kosova crisis, Interfax reported. "If the Yugoslav government appeals to us with such a request, we will offer help, despite our difficulties," Tkachenko said. He added that Ukrainians oppose the use of military force in Yugoslavia, irrespective of any decisions by NATO or the UN Security Council. He added that the recent statement by a Foreign Ministry official that Ukraine "unconditionally supports" the UN decision on Kosova (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 7 October 1998) does not reflect the Foreign Ministry's stance. Ukrainian Premier Valeriy Pustovoytenko, who is currently in Washington, has said his government sides with Russia in opposing the use of force in Yugoslavia, dpa reported on 7 October. JM UKRAINIAN WORKERS SHOW SOLIDARITY WITH RUSSIAN PROTESTERS. Thousands of Ukrainian workers and hard-liners demonstrated on 7 October to show support for protests in neighboring Russia and to demand the resignation of President Leonid Kuchma, AP reported. The largest demonstrations were in Kyiv (1,000 people), Donetsk (6,000), and Kharkiv (1,000). The Independent Trade Union Federation sent a letter to Russian President Boris Yeltsin and Russian labor activists saying that Ukrainians have been hit hard by the Russian economic crisis and can understand the demands of the Russian protesters. Meanwhile, at a meeting with Justice Ministry officials on 7 October, Kuchma said Ukraine will overcome the current crisis. He accused various political groups of exploiting the country's difficulties and called upon them "to sit down at the negotiating table" with the executive, Interfax reported. JM POLL SAYS HALF OF BELARUSIANS 'BARELY MAKE ENDS MEET.' A poll conducted by the Scientific Research Economic Institute under the Belarusian Ministry of Economy from 15 August to 15 September shows that 49 percent of Belarusians "barely make ends meet," Belapan reported on 7 October. Of the respondents, 7 percent said they have "incurred debts," 9 percent "are forced to use their savings," while 29 percent are able to save "a little bit" of money. Price hikes are expected by 87 percent of the respondents, and 47 percent believe that prices will increase even more steeply than to date. JM ESTONIAN CENTRAL BANK HAS SPECIAL RESERVE TO HELP SMALL BANKS. Chairman of the Central Bank Council Mart Sorg said on 7 October that the Central Bank has 2 billion kroons ($154 million) in reserve that could be lent to small banks to improve their liquidity, ETA reported. At the same time, Sorg noted that granting such a subsidy is a "political decision that may or may not happen." Recently, the Central Bank has intervened to help several commercial banks (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 5 and 7 October). Justice Minister Paul Varul, who is currently standing in for ailing Prime Minister Mart Siimann, said on 7 October that the Central Bank's "decisive actions" are in line with the government's conservative economic policy. JC THREE PARTIES REACH PRELIMINARY COALITION AGREEMENT... Latvia's Way, the Fatherland and Freedom party, and the New Party have agreed on the intention to form a new government headed by Transport Minister Vilis Kristopans of Latvia's Way, BNS reported on 7 October. Latvia's Way Chairman Andrejs Pantelejevs told reporters a verbal accord had been reached that could form the basis for further talks on a government coalition. The combined number of the three parties' mandates in the 100-strong parliament would be 46. Fatherland and Freedom party Chairman Maris Grinblats said his party would like to see the People's Party, which won the recent general elections, participate in the new government. Pantelejevs noted that Latvia's Way could cooperate with the Social Democrats if latter does not make demands inconsistent with his party's liberal economic policy. JC ...WHILE PEOPLE'S PARTY MAKES OWN PROPOSAL. The People's Party is proposing that Latvia's Way and the Fatherland and Freedom party cooperate with it to form a new government coalition, BNS reported on 7 October. "It's only natural that the government should be formed by those parties that were supported by the most Latvian citizens," the party said in a statement. It added that the government should be formed on the basis of "common ideological positions rather than personal views or ultimatums." According to the official preliminary results of the 3 October elections, the People's Party will have 24 seats in the new government. JC POLISH PREMIER, DEFENSE MINISTER DIFFER OVER NATO ACTION IN KOSOVA. Polish Prime Minister Jerzy Buzek told the commercial Radio Zet on 7 October that Poland is ready to take part in a NATO operation in Kosova. Polish Defense Minister Janusz Onyszkiewicz believes, however, that NATO does not expect Poland to send any military units. Onyszkiewicz told the commercial Radio PLUS the same day that Poland knows the plans for NATO's intended action in Kosova and that they envisage using only air units from current NATO member states. JM ZEMAN MEETS WITH SOLANA. Czech Prime Minister Milos Zeman discussed the possibility of Prague's early entry into NATO with Secretary General Javier Solana in Brussels on 7 October, CTK reported. Zeman said Solana is happy "to welcome...a relatively boring nation without internal conflicts" as a future NATO member. He said no date has been set for the country's entry into the alliance. Solana said he is satisfied with how the Czech Republic is integrating its structures in accordance with NATO guidelines. Foreign Minister Jan Kavan, Defense Minister Vladimir Vetchy, and Deputy Prime Minister Egon Lansky accompanied Zeman. PB CZECH GOVERNMENT AGREES TO RFE/RL BROADCASTS TO IRAQ. The Czech cabinet said on 7 October that RFE/RL can proceed with broadcasts to Iraq, Reuters reported. A government spokesman said that for security reasons, a "suitable location" for the editorial offices of Radio Free Iraq will have to be found. The government had earlier voiced opposition to plans for the broadcasts, while President Vaclav Havel said it is up to RFE/RL to decide in which languages and to which countries it broadcasts. The previous Czech government approved plans for RFE/RL to begin broadcasts to Iran. Both services are slated to start this fall. PB CZECH SKINHEADS SENTENCED. A district court in the city of Tabor sentenced three skinheads convicted in the drowning death of a Romany youth in 1993 to prison sentences ranging from 7-8.5 years, CTK reported. PB U.K. IMPOSES VISA REGIME ON SLOVAKS. Owing to the increased number of Roma applying for asylum in the U.K., London on 7 October announced that from now on Slovak citizens will need a visa to enter the U.K., TASR reported. Home Secretary Jack Straw said the move is necessary to stop the abuse of the asylum system. Some 1,600 Roma have entered the U.K. this year seeking asylum. Former Slovak Foreign Minister Pavol Hamzik said that London's decision is "wrong" and "complicates relations" between the two countries at a time when Slovakia is trying to remodel itself before beginning discussions on NATO membership. Some opposition politicians blamed Prime Minister Vladimir Meciar for failing to create the economic conditions to keep the Roma in Slovakia. PB HUNGARIAN PRIME MINISTER MEETS CLINTON. After meeting with U.S. President Bill Clinton at the White House, Viktor Orban told reporters that he is the first Hungarian prime minister to arrive in the U.S. as an "ally," Hungarian media reported on 8 October. Clinton said he is deeply impressed by the new Hungarian government's program, and he praised Hungary's "energetic economic policy." Orban emphasized that Hungary no longer belongs to the Russian economic sphere, nor is it affected by the Russian crisis. He also raised the issue of the U.S. lifting visa requirements for Hungarians. MSZ SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE CLINTON WARNS MILOSEVIC. U.S. President Bill Clinton said in Washington on 7 October that Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic runs the risk of NATO air strikes against Serbia unless he fully meets the demands of the UN Security Council. The president added: "I believe it is absolutely imperative that there be a cease-fire, a withdrawal of troops, that the humanitarian groups get access to these hundreds of thousands of people who have been displaced, and that negotiations resume.... The most important thing we can do is work with the Russians to try to actually avoid military strikes by securing [Milosevic's] compliance. If he does that, if he completely complies, he doesn't have to worry about military force.... I do not believe the United States can be in a position, and I do not believe NATO can be in a position, of letting tens of thousands of people starve or freeze to death this winter because Milosevic didn't keep his word." PM DIPLOMATIC DEAD-END ON KOSOVA? U.S. special envoy Richard Holbrooke arrived in Brussels on 7 October to brief Secretary of State Madeleine Albright and NATO leaders on his talks with Serbian and Kosovar leaders during the previous two days. He met with Milosevic three times but did not secure an agreement to end the crisis in Kosova. The Yugoslav leader's office issued a statement saying that "threats" against Serbia only make the crisis worse. U.S. officials in Washington noted that Serbian forces are "digging in for the winter" in Kosova, despite Milosevic's repeated assertions that they have withdrawn. Russian Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov is scheduled to meet with Milosevic in Belgrade on 8 October before the Russian diplomat travels to London for talks with the other foreign ministers of the international Contact Group countries. NATO Secretary-General Javier Solana told CNN on 8 October that air strikes could be only "days" away. PM GEREMEK SAYS OSCE NOT TO SEND MISSION TO KOSOVA. Polish Foreign Minister Bronislaw Geremek, who is also the OSCE rotating chairman, said on 7 October that the OSCE will not send its mission to Kosova, PAP reported. That statement followed Yugoslav Foreign Minister Zivadin Jovanovic's invitation the previous day to send an OSCE mission to the province. Geremek said Jovanovic's proposal was "disappointing. It is hard to see a minimum of good will on the part of the Yugoslav authorities behind this proposal," he added. JM SERBIA PREPARES FOR AIR STRIKES. The Serbian air force has begun shoring up its anti-aircraft defenses, including Russian SAM-6 air defense systems, and has dispersed its planes throughout the country, U.S.-based ABC Television reported on 7 October. The air force's MiG-29s have been placed in special hardened bunkers, and reservists have received call-up notices. State-run television has begun broadcasting patriotic songs and programs aimed at generating enthusiasm for the war tax that the government recently announced (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 6 October 1998). Shoppers have begun stockpiling basic food stuffs, and shortages have appeared in supermarkets for the first time since the Bosnian war ended in late 1995, Euronews Television reported on 8 October. PM SERBIAN AUTHORITIES BAN REBROADCASTING... Serbian Deputy Prime Minister Milovan Bojic and Information Minister Aleksandar Vucic told the editors-in-chief of independent radio and television stations in Belgrade on 7 October that "public information services in conditions of immediate war must adapt their behavior" accordingly and not spread "fear, panic and defeatism" (see "RFE/RL Newsline, 7 October 1998). Bojic added that "this is not an appeal, this is an order." He said that the authorities will soon issue a formal ban on the rebroadcasting of programs of RFE/RL, VOA, the BBC, and Deutsche Welle. PM ...WHILE INDEPENDENT JOURNALISTS PROTEST. After the meeting in Belgrade on 7 October, the Association of Independent Electronic Media (ANEM) issued a statement, in which it said that "such orders represent the most dramatic form of state censorship in Serbia and direct intolerable interference into editorial policy of the media. Therefore, they should be considered...unconstitutional and illegal." In a second statement, ANEM charged that the police have recently harassed independent journalists. Meanwhile in the Vojvodina town of Velika Kikinda, Interior Ministry troops arrested Zoran Milesevic, the editor-in-chief of independent Radio Velika Kikinda, on the grounds that he is a reservist and that the army "needs somebody to drive ammunition trucks" to Kosova, Radio B-92 reported. PM SERBS FIRE ON ALBANIAN TROOPS. An Albanian Interior Ministry spokesman told the ATA news agency on 7 October that federal Yugoslav soldiers fired at an Albanian border patrol on Albanian territory the previous day. The Albanian forces did not return fire and no one was injured in the incident, which took place in the village of Borje, near Kukes. Albania called a meeting of the joint Yugoslav-Albanian border commission to investigate the shooting. FS ALBANIAN PREMIER UNDERLINES SUPPORT FOR NATO ACTION... Pandeli Majko, whose government faces a formal vote of confidence on 8 October, told the parliament the previous day that "our government supports any actions of the international community and NATO that would lead to a peaceful solution of the conflict in Kosova." Majko stressed that Albania "is threatened with [Serbia's dragging it into a conflict], which might take on regional proportions." He added that his government will make plans for accommodating refugees during the coming winter. FS ...PLEDGES TO RESTORE LAW AND ORDER. Majko told the parliament on 7 October that his government's top priority is fighting organized crime, corruption, and smuggling. He pledged to hold a referendum next month on a new constitution and stressed that he seeks to work with the opposition. Majko called on the Democratic Party to stop boycotting the parliament. (As he spoke, the Democrats were holding a rally outside to demand new elections.) With regard to the economic sphere, Majko said that inflation will be below10 percent and GDP will grow by 7-8 percent by the end of this year. He added that the 1998 budget deficit will amount to 6.6 percent of GDP and that the government aims to cut it to 3.2 percent by 2001. Majko also pledged to create 35,000 new jobs by year's end and 50,000 in 1999 as well as increase efforts to attract international financial aid. FS BOSNIAN JOINT PRESIDENCY MEETS. The three members of the newly elected presidency agreed in Sarajevo on 7 October to hold their future meetings in that city rather than alternate the sessions between it and the Serbian-held suburb of Lukavica. This was the first meeting of that body, which consists of the Muslim Alija Izetbegovic, Serb Zivko Radisic, and the Croat Ante Jelavic. Meanwhile in Banja Luka, some 500 people protested against NATO plans to launch air strikes against Serbia, RFE/RL's South Slavic Service reported. PM ROMANIAN OPPOSITION URGES PRESIDENT TO REPORT ON NATION. A letter has been sent to Emil Constantinescu requesting that he deliver a state of the nation address to the parliament, Rompres reported on 7 October. The letter, initiated by the opposition Alliance for Romania and the Romanian National Unity Party, was signed by some 130 parliamentary deputies. It states that Constantinescu owes it to "the Romanian people" to give them details and answers to the "serious problems" the country now faces. PB ROMANIAN EDUCATION MINISTER AGAINST HUNGARIAN-LANGUAGE UNIVERSITY. Andrei Marga told his Hungarian counterpart, Zoltan Pokorni, that there will be no university instruction in Hungarian in Romania, MTI reported on 6 October. Marga made that comment during the World Higher Education Conference in Paris. Pokorni said further details on Marga's position are required to determine if the opinion is that of the minister or of the government. The Romanian government approved a resolution last week allowing for the establishment of a Hungarian- and German-language university, to be called Petoefi-Schiller. PB MOLDOVA TO REDUCE FORCES IN TRANSDNIESTER SECURITY ZONE. Moldova has decided to unilaterally reduce the number of peacekeepers in its contingent in the Transdniestrian security zone, Infotag reported on 7 October. The Moldovan delegation of the Joint Control Commission said in a statement that the move was a "step of goodwill." It said that over the next week, 82 soldiers and six armored vehicles would be moved out of the zone, which is guarded by Moldovan, Russian, and Transdniester forces. PB STOYANOV CONCERNED ABOUT KOSOVA. Bulgarian President Petar Stoyanov said on 7 October that Sofia must be "very careful" in the way it reacts to the situation in Kosova, Reuters reported. During a visit to a military unit near Sofia, Stoyanov said that he is concerned that the events in Yugoslavia could negatively influence "the situation in our countries." He said Bulgarians should not "panic." Colonel- General Mikho Mikhov, the commander of the army's General Staff, said the Bulgarian army has not been put in an increased state of combat readiness because of the situation in Kosova. PB BULGARIA TO EXPORT WHEAT TO RUSSIA. Stoyan Alexandrov, head of Bulgaria's Central Cooperative Bank, said on 7 October that some 500,000 tons of wheat will be exported to Russia this year, AP reported, citing "Trud." Alexandrov said the quantity represents Bulgaria's entire wheat surplus for 1998. Just two years ago, Bulgaria had to import wheat, but liberalized prices and the increased private ownership of farms have increased production. PB 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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