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RFE/RL NEWSLINE Vol 2, No. 197, Part II, 12 October 1998
________________________________________________________ RFE/RL NEWSLINE Vol 2, No. 197, Part II, 12 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 * UKRAINIAN BANK CHIEF TO BE FIRED? * HOLBROOKE REACHES IMPASSE? * OSCE BLASTS SERBIAN MEDIA POLICY xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx EAST-CENTRAL EUROPE UKRAINIAN BANK CHIEF TO BE FIRED? Following President Leonid Kuchma's criticism of National Bank policies (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 9 October 1998), some Ukrainian newspapers have suggested that National Bank Chairman Viktor Yushchenko may be dismissed as a scapegoat for the current financial crisis. Those rumors appear to be corroborated by Supreme Council Chairman Oleksandr Tkachenko's proposal that Yushchenko explain to the parliament "why the hryvnya exchange rate is still changing with regard to that damned dollar," "Segodnya" reported on 10 October. "I think it is enough for the National Bank to work without supervision," Tkachenko added. "Den" suggested on 10 October that if Yushchenko were dismissed, the parliament would likely order the printing presses switched on to deal with the current lack of cash in Ukraine. JM UNICEF HEAD URGES UKRAINE TO ADDRESS AIDS ISSUE. Carol Bellamy has said Ukraine must pay urgent attention to the growing AIDS problem before it gets out of control, Reuters reported on 10 October. The Ukrainian government reports that the number of HIV cases grew from less than 500 in 1994 to 36,000 by mid-1998. Bellamy also added that UNICEF is concerned about the fate of Ukraine's estimated 160,000 children in state orphanages. UNICEF pledges to raise $500,000 to improve conditions for children in institutional care and another $500,000 for children and mothers affected by the 1986 Chornobyl nuclear disaster. JM LUKASHENKA SAYS WEST WILL FIND IT 'VERY HOT' IN YUGOSLAVIA. Belarusian President Alyaksandr Lukashenka has repeated his pledge to provide military assistance to Yugoslavia if NATO uses force against it, Belarusian Television reported on 9 October. "We have sufficient capabilities to provide the Yugoslavs with most modern arms to fight both missiles and aircraft," he said. Lukashenka added, however, that he does not think "it will go as far as a war" in Yugoslavia. In his opinion, the West realizes that Yugoslavs will "desperately" defend their country and that Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic cannot be intimidated. "It will be very hot for the entire West," Lukashenka commented. He added that NATO's next move may be directed against Belarus. "Those gentlemen have become completely unrestrained since the Soviet Union disappeared," he said. JM BELARUSIAN FOREIGN MINISTRY SAYS SERBS SEE LUKASHENKA AS HERO. The Belarusian Foreign Ministry on 9 October published a report saying that Serbs see the Belarusian president as their hero, Interfax reported on 9 October. According to the report, Lukashenka's pledge of military help is viewed in Yugoslavia as a powerful psychological boost. The ministry said hundreds of people have called the Belarusian Embassy in Belgrade to praise "the nation and the president who were the first to support their Slavic brethren wholeheartedly." JM ESTONIA TO WEATHER RUSSIAN CRISIS WITHOUT IMF LOAN. Peeter Lohmus, vice president of the Bank of Estonia, told the annual meeting of the IMF and the World Bank, that Estonia will survive the financial crisis in Russia without drawing on a $14 million support loan from the IMF, ETA reported on 12 October. Lohmus stressed that Estonia has not requested a loan from the fund for a long time and there will be no need for one in the near future. In other financial news, ERA Pank announced that it has found an Estonian investor willing to put up some 80 million kroons (some $6.2 million). Last week, the Central Bank suspended ERA Pank's license at the request of the latter (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 7 October 1998). JC LATVIA'S WAY TO STAND BY ITS CANDIDATE FOR PREMIER. Transport Minister Vilis Kristopans has said that Latvia's Way does not intend to give up its insistence that he become prime minister of the next government, BNS reported on 9 October. Speaking after talks between his party, the Fatherland and Freedom party, the New Party, and the People's Party, Kristopans said that Latvia's Way can change its stance only if a party congress decides to support another candidate. The chairman of the Fatherland and Freedom party, Maris Grinblats, has suggested that Latvia's Way find a candidate who could win the support of a parliamentary majority. Meanwhile, People's Party leader Andris Skele told reporters on 9 October that coalition negotiations should take place without "ultimatums about personalities and posts." The next round of talks are scheduled for 13 October. JC POLES VOTE IN LOCAL GOVERNMENT ELECTIONS. Poles on 11 October voted to elect 63,676 deputies to provincial, district, and communal councils in what is viewed as the consolidation of the new local government system introduced this summer. The number of provinces have been cut from 49 to 16 and the powiat, a middle tier of local administration, has been introduced, thereby decentralizing power. Reuters reported that turnout was rather small, with many Poles deterred from voting by complicated voting rules (each voter had to cast five ballots), confusion over the new powers given to local government, and chilly weather. Final election results are expected within one week. A survey in "Zycie" on 10 October suggested that the opposition ex-communist Democratic Left Alliance will win control over nine of the country's 16 regions. JM POLAND MOVES CLOSER TO OPENING SECRET POLICE FILES? The Senate, the upper house of the parliament, voted 60 to 23 with one abstention on 9 October to approve a bill on access to communist-era secret service files (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 23 September 1998). At the same time, the Senate rejected an amendment by President Aleksander Kwasniewski to allow universal access to the files. The bill stipulates that only those who have been harmed by the files be granted access. Former secret service officers will therefore be unable to view the files. PAP on 9 October reported that Kwasniewski's lawyer said the president is unlikely to sign the bill into law. JM CZECHS, HUNGARIANS LOOK TO BRING SLOVAKIA BACK INTO FOLD. During talks on 9 October, Czech President Vaclav Havel and Hungarian Foreign Minister Janos Martonyi agreed of the need to help get Slovakia included into the first group of European integration, CTK reported. Havel and Martonyi said closer cooperation among the Visegrad Four--Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland, and Slovakia--should resume. Czech Premier Milos Zeman also promoted the idea of upgrading Bratislava's status in the eyes of Western institutions during meetings with Martonyi the same day. And he proposed that Slovenia be added to the group. PB HAVEL OPENS FORUM 2000 IN PRAGUE. Havel on 11 October opened Forum 2000, the conference that he founded, with a speech that focused on the globalization of the world's economy, culture, and politics, an RFE/RL correspondent reported. Chinese dissident Wei Jingsheng, former U.S. Secretary of State Henry Kissinger, Israeli chief rabbi Meir Lau, former Polish dissident Adam Michnik, and U.S. First Lady Hillary Clinton are scheduled to attend the second annual conference. PB SLOVAK DAILY CALLS RULING PARTY'S EFFORTS A 'WASTE.' After being snubbed by all but one of the political parties elected to the new Slovak parliament, the Movement for a Democratic Slovakia (HZDS) has been unsuccessful in its attempts to form a cabinet, "Pravda" wrote on 12 October. HZDS party head and outgoing Premier Vladimir Meciar entrusted Jan Smerek to negotiate with other parties in an attempt to form a coalition. But all parties, except the chauvinist Slovak National Party, have turned down overtures from the HZDS. "Pravda" commented that Meciar's efforts to drag out the process of forming a new government is a last- ditch attempt to have a strong showing in local elections next month. PB NATO ASKS HUNGARY FOR USE OF AIR SPACE. NATO has formally asked Hungary to make its air space available in the event of a military operation against Yugoslavia, Hungarian media reported on 12 October. Prime Minister Viktor Orban said he discussed the issue with both U.S. President Bill Clinton and Defense Secretary William Cohen during his trip to the U.S. last week. Orban said he made it clear that granting such a request is conditional on NATO guaranteeing Hungary's security in the event of Yugoslav retaliation. An extraordinary session of the parliament on 13 October will vote on NATO's request. MSZ SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE HOLBROOKE REACHES IMPASSE? U.S. special envoy Richard Holbrooke said in Belgrade on 12 October that four days of "very difficult...and at times very heated" talks with Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic have led to "no change" and that the "situation is still extremely serious." Holbrooke stressed that the key problem is how to set up a "fully verifiable compliance system." Observers suggested that Holbrooke, Milosevic, and Kosovar shadow-state President Ibrahim Rugova, with whom Holbrooke met briefly in Prishtina on 10 October, have reached fundamental agreement on restoring broad autonomy to Kosova and on a three-year transition period, after which the parties concerned will decide the province's final status. The central issue reportedly is that Holbrooke and the Kosovars insist on the presence of international monitors, possibly including NATO troops, to verify that Serbian paramilitary police have left the province and ensure that they do not return. Milosevic rejects that demand. PM NATO AMBASSADORS TO MEET. NATO officials are scheduled to meet in Brussels on 12 October to decide on whether to issue an "activation order" for military intervention against Serbia. British Foreign Secretary Robin Cook told CNN previous day that Milosevic should have no doubt that NATO is united in purpose and ready to use force and that it is "not dithering." Holbrooke originally wanted NATO to agree on issuing the "activation order" before 10 October in order to increase his diplomatic leverage over Milosevic, Reuters reported. The government crisis in Italy and the need to coordinate policies between Germany's outgoing and incoming governments led to a delay in a decision by the alliance until two days later. PM OSCE BLASTS SERBIAN MEDIA POLICY. The OSCE issued a statement in Vienna on 9 October sharply criticizing the Serbian government's decision to ban domestic stations from rebroadcasting foreign programs in Serbo-Croatian, including those of RFE/RL (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 9 October 1998). The statement noted that the banned programs include those of broadcasters who "objectively inform millions of people around the world." The next day, Serbian government officials told the staff of Belgrade's independent Radio Index to cease broadcasting immediately. News Editor Katarina Spasic said that "we will find a way to resume broadcasting, even if we have to use a mobile van." She added that the authorities are trying to exert "political pressure" against independent media. Elsewhere, Sandzak Muslim spokesmen told Reuters on 11 October that many Muslims fear attacks by Seselj's paramilitaries and have begun to flee to Bosnia. PM MONTENEGRO URGES CAUTION ON NATO. Montenegrin President Milo Djukanovic told U.S. special envoy Robert Gelbard in Podgorica that NATO should not launch air strikes against Serbia lest innocent people be killed, RFE/RL's South Slavic Service reported on 9 October. Montenegrin officials and Serbian independent media have recently urged NATO not to intervene militarily, saying that they fear there would be civilian casualties and Milosevic would have an excuse to crack down on his domestic political enemies (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 7 October 1998). In other news, Montenegrin delegates boycotted talks between Yugoslavia and Croatia in Belgrade on 9 October because the Yugoslav authorities refused to include on the agenda the opening of a border crossing between Montenegro and Croatia at Debeli Brijeg (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 5 October 1998). Croatian spokesmen in Belgrade said that they regretted the absence of the Montenegrins. PM ALBANIA OFFERS NATO AIR SPACE, TERRITORIAL WATERS. Albania's government issued a statement on 11 October putting its air space and territorial waters at the disposal of NATO through the end of 1998 for any military operations against Serbia. Albania had previously offered only its military infrastructure-- including military bases, airports and ports--for NATO operations. In other news, the Foreign Ministry the previous day issued a statement saying that federal Yugoslav troops penetrated 50 meters into Albanian territory on 8 October at Dobrun, near Kukes. FS POPLASEN DEFIES WEST. Republika Srpska President Nikola Poplasen said in a letter to Gelbard on 10 October that it is not necessary for Bosnian Serbs to distance themselves from Serbian Deputy Prime Minister Vojislav Seselj remarks implicitly threatening NATO troops in Bosnia if the alliance launches air strikes against Serbia (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 7 and 9 October 1998). Poplasen added that Seselj's remarks are a matter for only Serbia and the U.S. to discuss. Poplasen's party is the Bosnian branch of Seselj's Serbian Radical Party. Poplasen added that he will ask the international community's Carlos Westendorp to reverse his recent decision to lift the parliamentary mandate of Dragan Cavic, who had said that NATO air strikes against Serbia would be an attack on Serbs everywhere and that Serbs should react accordingly. Poplasen argued that Westendorp does not have the authority to oust Cavic. PM WESTENDORP AGAIN WARNS BOSNIANS. On 9 October in Sarajevo, Westendorp said in a statement that Bosnian officials of all ethnic groups should avoid "inflammatory statements" in conjunction with possible NATO air strikes against Serbia. He added that "statements or reactions by any official [aimed at] inciting citizens to violence will not be tolerated by the international community. [Bosnian officials'] primary concern should be to respect the letter and the spirit of the Dayton agreement and to ensure that a climate of peace and stability is maintained." Elsewhere in the Bosnian capital, a spokesman for SFOR warned that the peacekeepers "will not hesitate to take any appropriate measures to deter or prevent a resumption of hostilities." The previous day, an SFOR spokesman said that peacekeepers made Bosnian Serb air defense systems inoperative long ago in keeping with the terms of the Dayton agreement, RFE/RL's South Slavic Service reported. PM UN POLICE DEMAND SACKING OF HERZEGOVINIAN. A spokeswoman for the UN-sponsored International Police Task Force said in Sarajevo on 9 October that IPTF Commissioner Richard Monk has written to Herzegovinian police official Valentin Coric to insist that he fire Stanislav Buntic as police commissioner of Capljina. Monk also called for Buntic to face criminal charges. The IPTF holds Buntic responsible for recent violence by Croatian police against three Muslims, including two policemen, who tried to intervene when Croatian extremists attacked returning Muslim refugees (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 5 October 1998). PM BIGGEST MASS GRAVE TO DATE UNEARTHED. Forensic experts said in Glumina near Zvornik in eastern Bosnia on 9 October that they have uncovered the largest known mass grave of the Bosnian war. The grave may hold up to 300 bodies of Muslim civilians, which are well preserved in plastic bags bearing the markings of the Yugoslav army. The victims are most likely those of local Muslim civilians killed during the 1992 Serbian ethnic cleansing campaign. Forensic experts will soon begin trying to identify some of the bodies on the basis of fingerprints. PM CROATIAN PUBLISHER DROPS CONTROVERSIAL BOOK. The government-funded Matica Hrvatska cultural foundation stopped plans "at the last minute" to publish Branko Matan's "Homeland is a Difficult Question," Reuters reported from Zagreb on 11 October. Matan charged that Matica is afraid of losing financial support from the authorities if it publishes his book, which paints an unflattering portrait of Croatia's role in the 1992-1995 Bosnian war. In other news, Croatia and the Vatican signed an agreement on 9 October according to which the government will seek to return or provide compensation for Church properties confiscated by the Communists. PM ALBANIA GETS NUDGE FROM U.S. The State Department on 11 October issued a statement warmly congratulating newly elected Prime Minister Pandeli Majko. The statement stressed that the new government has "an important opportunity for tangible achievements on the serious political and economic problems facing Albania, including public order, corruption, and developing a fuller political dialogue among all constructive Albanian political parties." It also urged the "Democratic Party and...others continuing to pursue...destructive practices to renounce once and for all calls for violence and instability." FS SERBS IN ROMANIA THREATEN VIOLENCE FOR NATO COOPERATION. Romanian President Emil Constantinescu announced on 11 October that Romania has agreed to allow NATO limited access to the country's air space in the event of air strikes against Yugoslavia, Reuters reported. Constantinescu said NATO planes can fly over Romania "for emergency and unforeseen situations." He said the decision will be submitted to parliament the following day for approval. Constantinescu said that while Bucharest supports the "steps envisaged" by NATO, Romania cannot "take any direct part in military action." On 9 October, Glisic Gioca, the vice president of the Serb Union of Romania, was quoted as saying that the Serbian community in Romania will take it upon itself to "blow up the airport [in Timisoara]" if the government allows NATO planes to land there, Rompres reported. PB ROMANIA'S FOREIGN MINISTER PRAISES HUNGARIAN-ROMANIAN TIES. Andrei Plesu praised the strong relationship between Bucharest and Budapest, saying it is recognized internationally as an exemplary model of bilateral cooperation, MTI reported on 11 October. Plesu was interviewed by the Hungarian news agency ahead of a Hungarian-Romanian intergovernmental committee meeting in Budapest on 13-14 October. Plesu said he is pleased that the Hungarian government allowed the Hungarian Democratic Union of Romania (UDMR) to make its own decisions about participating in the Romanian government. He added that the UDMR's role in governing the country serves as a bridge in relations between the two countries. PB MOLDOVAN PRESIDENT OPPOSES NATO INTERVENTION. Petru Lucinschi said on 10 October that the crisis in Kosova should be solved peacefully and without military action on the part of NATO forces, AP reported. Lucinschi, in Bucharest for a one-day visit, made his comments after a meeting with his Romanian counterpart Emil Constantinescu. PB BULGARIAN OPPOSITION PROTESTS APPROVAL OF NATO REQUEST. Socialist Party leader Georgi Parvanov said on 11 October that a government decision approving NATO's overflight request violates the Bulgarian Constitution, dpa reported. The decision to allow NATO forces to use Bulgarian air space in the event of military action against Yugoslavia came at an emergency cabinet meeting on the night of 10-11 October. Parvanov argues that such a decision can be made only by the parliament. Bulgaria will ask NATO to guarantee its national security in the event of Yugoslav retaliation. PB U.S. FIRST LADY ANNOUNCES GRANT SUPPORT IN SOFIA. Hillary Clinton announced on 11 October that $15 million will be given to support the development of civil society in the Balkans, AP reported. Clinton made the announcement in a speech on the role of women in the next century. About $6 million of that sum is earmarked for Bulgaria. 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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