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RFE/RL NEWSLINE Vol 2, No. 199, Part II, 14 October 1998
________________________________________________________ RFE/RL NEWSLINE Vol 2, No. 199, Part II, 14 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 * BRITONS TO NEED VISAS IN SLOVAKIA * MILOSEVIC PRAISES AGREEMENT * SERBIAN INDEPENDENT MEDIA CALL FOR HELP xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx EAST-CENTRAL EUROPE PUSTOVOYTENKO SAYS CABINET DEALT WITH CRISIS 'PROFESSIONALLY'... Ukrainian Prime Minister Valeriy Pustovoytenko delivered to the Supreme Council on 13 October a report on his government's activities during the first nine months of this year, Ukrainian Television reported. He said that the cabinet "professionally" overcame "the first wave" of the financial crisis but admitted that "stabilization processes" in Ukraine have not acquired an "irreversible character." Pustovoytenko stressed that the government's main task is to tackle social problems, including the indexation of incomes, increasing the minimum wage, and paying wage arrears. He acknowledged that the government has been unable to prevent the volume of unpaid wages and social benefits from increasing. As of 1 October, the state budget owed 3.2 billion hryvni ($935 million) in back wages. JM ...APPEALS TO PARLIAMENT TO ADOPT REALISTIC 1999 BUDGET. Pustovoytenko also said that the 1999 budget draft may be Ukraine's last chance to overcome "financial instability," Reuters reported. The cabinet is currently working on that document. "The budget must not be based on emotion and simple wishes, but on financial reality," the agency quoted him as saying. He warned that "an unrealistic budget with an unreasonable deficit" may lead to a full-blown financial crisis. The government is expected to draft a budget that provides for a deficit of 0.6 percent of GDP. JM UKRAINIAN GOVERNMENT SURVIVES VOTE OF NO CONFIDENCE. Following Pustovoytenko's report, the Supreme Council voted on a motion of no confidence in the government, proposed by the Communist, Socialist, and Hromada caucuses (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 6 October 1998). The motion, which need 226 votes to pass, was supported by 203 deputies with 108 against and 66 abstentions, Interfax reported on 13 October. Parliamentary speaker Oleksandr Tkachenko commented that changing the government will not improve the current situation. "Governments change, while people live worse and worse," Ukrainian News quoted him as saying. Pustovoytenko's cabinet is Ukraine's seventh government since the country gained independence in 1991. JM LUKASHENKA BLASTS ROMANIA, BULGARIA FOR VIOLATING 'SLAVIC UNITY'... Belarusian President Alyaksandr Lukashenka said he was shocked by the decision of Romania and Bulgaria to allow NATO to use their airspace in case of military action in the Kosova conflict, Reuters reported on 13 October, citing Interfax. Lukashenka said those countries are "taking part in crimes being prepared in the Balkans" and violating "Slavic [sic] unity." "How low do such leaders have to stoop, humiliating their own people? We are talking about our sacred Slavic unity. It has been betrayed and crushed," he commented. He added that the leaders of these countries are exposing their people to the risk of Yugoslav retaliation, arguing that the Yugoslavs would not distinguish between who provided air space and who carried out the bombing. JM ...OPPOSES SENDING BELARUSIAN VOLUNTEERS TO YUGOSLAVIA. Lukashenka also said he opposes sending Belarusian volunteers to fight against NATO in a possible military conflict in Yugoslavia. Citing a source from within the pro-Lukashenka Liberal Democratic Party, Belapan reported on 12 October that some 200 Belarusian volunteers have expressed their readiness to fight on the side of Yugoslavia in the event of hostilities. Lukashenka stressed that the Belarusian Constitution bans Belarusians from participating in military actions abroad. At the same time, he commented that "if some people go to Yugoslavia, it will be impossible for me to stop them. As a statesman and a president I will fight for Yugoslavia using my own methods," he told Interfax. JM LUKASHENKA'S POPULARITY GROWS. A poll carried out last month showed that 55 percent of Belarusians would vote for Lukashenka if elections were held today, RFE/RL's Belarusian Service reported on 13 October. Last December, Lukashenka had 44 percent backing. The poll also showed that 60 percent of the respondents oppose the Belarusian-Russian Union and favor Belarus as an independent and neutral state. The Institute of Socioeconomic and Political Studies, which carried out the poll, believes that many Belarusians thus demonstrate their lack of confidence in Russia's liberal reform model. JM ESTONIA'S PEOPLE'S PARTY OFFICIALLY CEASES COOPERATION WITH COALITION. Indrek Kannik, secretary-general of the People's Party, has announced that his party is officially breaking the cooperation agreement with the ruling coalition, ETA reported on 13 October. That move comes after party leader Toomas Hendrik Ilves submitted his resignation as foreign minister (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 30 September 1998). Unofficially, however, the party had broken the agreement shortly after it was signed in April. That same month, the People's Party called for the resignation of Environment Minister Villu Reiljan on corruption charges, which in turn prompted demands by the rural parties that Ilves should step down as foreign minister. JC STILL NO BREAKTHROUGH IN LATVIAN COALITION TALKS. The four political parties that won the most votes in the recent general elections met on 13 October but failed to form a coalition government, Reuters reported . It was the first time since the 3 October ballot that the People's Party, which won the elections, was included in direct negotiations. Latvia's Way chairman Andrejs Pantelejevs told journalists that he expects talks to continue between his party, Latvia's Way, the Fatherland and Freedom party, and the New Party on 19 October. Latvia's Way continues to insist that Transport Minister Vilis Kristopans be the new premier. The People's Party wants its leader, Andris Skele, to take over that post and has said agreement must be reached on the principles of a coalition before personnel questions can be decided. JC COALITION AGREEMENT IN POLAND TO BE RENEGOTIATED? Following the 11 October local elections, the coalition Solidarity Electoral Action (AWS) and Freedom Union (UW) want to renegotiate their coalition agreement, "Zycie Warszawy" reported on 14 October. AWS leader Marian Krzaklewski said his party may grant some provincial governor posts to the UW on condition that the union give up some posts in the cabinet in favor of the AWS. According to the daily, Krzaklewski's statement sparked indignation among AWS members who believe that the UW's poor performance in the elections does not give it the right to nominate provincial governors. According to the AWS election staff cited by "Zycie" on 14 October, the AWS won a majority of seats in five of Poland's 16 provincial capitals and may rule jointly with the UW or right-wing parties in another five. JM CZECH REPUBLIC MAY GRANT DUAL CITIZENSHIP TO SLOVAKS... Czech government officials have decided that a new interpretation of a law could allow some 60,000 people with Slovak citizenship to gain Czech citizenship as well, the daily "Mlada fronta Dnes" reported on 14 October. Deputy Premier Pavel Rychetsky said that the basis for the new interpretation was a ruling by the Czech Constitutional Court last year that granted Czech citizenship to current Human Rights Commissioner Petr Uhl--who had chosen Slovak citizenship when Czechoslovakia split five years ago. Rychetsky said civil servants will be asked by the government to stop ruling that someone loses Czech citizenship if he/she becomes a Slovak citizen. PB ...BUT REIMPOSE VISAS ON EASTERN COUNTRIES. After a Moldovan Airlines plane carrying more than 100 illegal aliens landed in Prague on 12 October, Czech Prime Minister Milos Zeman said that the Czech Republic may reinstate visa requirements for Moldovans and some other east European nationals, CTK reported. Moldovan government spokesman Stefan Culea said the refugees are Soviet veterans of war in Afghanistan. Culea said some are Moldovan and the rest mostly Russians and Ukrainians. They requested asylum and were taken to a refugee camp in Moravia. The Czech Interior Ministry said it is preparing a list of countries that may have a visa regime imposed on them in the near future. PB BRITONS TO NEED VISAS IN SLOVAKIA. The Slovak government announced on 13 October that a visa requirement will be reimposed on British nationals effective 15 October, AFP reported. A Slovak government spokesman said the U.K., which reintroduced a visa regime for Slovaks last week (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 8 October 1998), is "discriminating" against Slovakia and treating it "like a developing country." The measure was adopted by the government of Premier Vladimir Meciar, who is expected to resign on 29 October. PB EU OFFICIAL OPTIMISTIC ON SLOVAKIA'S PROMOTION TO FIRST GROUP. Branislav Slysko, a spokesman for the European Commission in Bratislava, said on 13 October that he is optimistic that Slovakia can soon join the group of "fast track" nations being considered for EU membership, Reuters reported. Slysko said if Slovakia does not join Estonia, the Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland, and Cyprus by December, then he believes it is likely it might join that group by next year. PB VOJVODINA HUNGARIANS WORRY ABOUT SERBIAN REPRISALS. Jozsef Kasza, chairman of the Federation of Hungarians in Vojvodina, told Foreign Ministry state secretary Zsolt Nemeth on 13 October that ethnic Hungarians in the Serbian province expect Budapest to refrain from lending logistical support to NATO if the alliance intervenes in Yugoslavia. He said there are growing indications that in the event of NATO intervention, minorities in Vojvodina could become the target of reprisals by Serbian extremist forces. At a joint session of the Hungarian parliament's defense and foreign affairs committees, representatives of the nationalist Hungarian Justice and Life Party voted against allowing NATO to use Hungarian airspace, while the Hungarian Democratic Forum abstained. The final decision is to be taken by the parliament on 14 October. MSZ SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE MILOSEVIC PRAISES AGREEMENT. Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic said on Serbian Television on 13 October that his agreement on Kosova with U.S. special envoy Richard Holbrooke eliminates the danger of NATO military intervention against Serbia (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 13 October 1998). He added that the agreement specifies that the Kosova problem will be solved peacefully and through political means. Milosevic stressed that the agreement is in the interests of Serbia and its citizens. In Prishtina, Milosevic-appointed provincial governor Veljko Odalovic said, "We expect that in the end it will lead us into reaching a peaceful solution.... Let's hope that the life in [the province] will soon be normalized. We are working hard on that." PM GOVERNMENT ADOPTS KOSOVA PROGRAM... The Serbian government approved an 11-point program on 13 October for solving the Kosova problem, the BETA news agency reported. One key provision calls for elections to executive, legislative, and judicial bodies throughout the province within nine months. A second point is that self-rule will function primarily at the local level. Local government bodies will control the police, the ethnic composition of which will reflect that of the community in question. The Kosova central government will "coordinate" the work of the local police units, which must "give full protection to all citizens and national groups." A third provision says that no one will face legal measures on account of the recent conflict in Kosova except for individuals who committed "crimes against humanity and international law." PM ...AND TIME-TABLE. The Serbian government also approved on 13 October a time-table for dealing with some key elements of the Kosova question. The schedule sets 19 October as the deadline for signing agreements with the "OSCE and other elements"--which presumably means NATO-- on verification of Serbian compliance with the Milosevic-Holbrooke pact. The deadline is 2 November for reaching an agreement with the Kosovars on the "basic elements for a political solution...[based on] the Contact Group's proposal of 2 October." By 9 November, rules governing the coming elections must be ready. PM LITTLE ENTHUSIASM AMONG ALBANIANS. Many Kosovars are disappointed that NATO has not carried out air strikes against Serbian military targets and are skeptical about the Milosevic-Holbrooke agreement, CNN reported from Prishtina on 14 October. Adem Demaci, the main spokesman for the Kosova Liberation Army, said the previous day that the Serbian authorities must meet certain preconditions before talks can begin, RFE/RL's South Slavic Service reported. Those preconditions include freeing detainees, the return of refugees, compensation to civilians for damage to their property, and starting legal proceedings against those who committed atrocities. Demaci also called on Kosovars to form a "government of national salvation" as quickly as possible. In Tirana, a Foreign Ministry spokesman said that the agreement "seems to increase the possibility for a political solution," but he added that "Belgrade has never kept its promises in the past." PM WEST WARNS MILOSEVIC. The international Contact Group will meet in Paris on 15 October, Reuters reported the previous day. In Washington, a State Department spokesman said on 13 October that the Serbian authorities must demonstrate "substantial and credible compliance" by 18 October. "We will know it when we see it," he added. National Security Adviser Sandy Berger said that the 2,000-strong unarmed Verification Mission will be able to operate inside Kosova without fear of intimidation or being taken hostage. "I think 2,000 people there can determine what's going on. And if there is systematic non-compliance, I think they can report that to NATO," he added. In London, Foreign Secretary Robin Cook told BBC television the next day that "we are watching.... [The agreement] is not an end, it is a beginning." PM SERBIA SHUTS DOWN DAILIES. Officials of the Serbian Information Ministry served a banning order to the independent Belgrade dailies "Danas" and "Dnevni telegraf" on 13 October. Spokesmen for the independent media said that the capital's other main non-government daily, "Nasa Borba," expects to receive banning orders soon. Banned newspapers may not resume publication as long as the government's recent decree against the independent media for spreading "fear, panic, and defeatism" remains in force (see "RFE/RL Bosnia Report," 14 October 1998). Among the offending articles cited by the Information Ministry in its banning order were items reprinted or summarized from the "Washington Post" and "Die Welt." PM SERBIAN INDEPENDENT MEDIA CALL FOR HELP. Veran Matic, who is chief editor of Belgrade Radio B-92 and a spokesman for the independent media, said in Belgrade on 13 October that "it is obvious that Milosevic has started a cleansing of the independent media, expecting that the West will again look the other way in return for the concessions he made" to Holbrooke. Matic's Association of Independent Electronic Media (ANEM) called on the Serbian Constitutional Court to declare the government's decree unconstitutional. ANEM also appealed to the international community and foreign media to protest the Serbian government's actions against the independent media. PM VICTORY FOR CROATIAN HARD-LINERS. A parliamentary committee voted on 13 October to clear a group of hard- line politicians of charges that they used the army's intelligence service to spy on their moderate rivals within the governing Croatian Democratic Community (HDZ) (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 13 October 1998). Opposition members of the committee charged that the HDZ members did not present all the evidence before the opposition walked out of the session prior to the vote. Opposition deputies demanded the establishment of a special investigative commission to look into possible misuse of the intelligence services by leading politicians, "starting with the president of the republic," RFE/RL's South Slavic Service reported. PM NEW BOSNIAN PRESIDENCY SWORN IN. Muslim Alija Izetbegovic, Serb Zivko Radisic, and Croat Ante Jelavic formally took office on 13 October in Sarajevo. Radisic assumed his post as rotating chair of that body for an eight-month term, the first time that a Serb has held that position. He said that "Bosnia and its two entities have entered a new phase in implementing the Dayton agreement." Radisic added that, in the presidency's work, "democracy must prevail over totalitarianism and tolerance over hate and fear. Every party will promote its own interests but also respect the interests and values of the others," RFE/RL's South Slavic Service reported. PM ROMANIAN PARLIAMENT TO VOTE ON NATO OVERFLIGHT DECISION. Romanian President Emil Constantinescu formally requested on 13 October that the parliament vote on the government's decision to allow NATO limited access to the country's air space, Reuters reported. The government's decision to allow NATO planes into Romanian air space in case of "emergency" and other "unforeseen situations" has been criticized for being both too accommodating toward NATO and too hostile toward the alliance. A debate and vote on the issue is expected on 14 October. PB TURKEY SAID TO BE INTERESTED IN ROMANIAN-U.S. HELICOPTERS. Romanian Prime Minister Radu Vasile said on 13 October that Turkey is interested in buying attack helicopters to be jointly produced by Romania and the U.S., AP reported. Romanian state radio said that Vasile, attending a Balkan conference in Ankara, said Turkish Defense Ministry officials will arrive in Bucharest in the next few days to discuss the issue. Romania tentatively agreed with Bell Textron on a joint venture that was recently deemed too costly for Bucharest to complete. A large Turkish purchase--they are reported to want 120 helicopters--could help salvage the deal in another form. PB UN OFFICIAL PLEDGES SUPPORT FOR MOLDOVA. Yves Berthelot, the executive secretary of the UN Economic Commission, said in Chisinau on 13 October that the economic reform efforts by Moldova had been noticed, Basa-press reported. Berthelot was in the Moldovan capital for a one-day visit. He met with President Petru Lucinschi, Premier Ion Ciubac, and Foreign Minister Nicolae Tabacaru. Lucinschi said Moldova needed the help of international organizations to "continue implementing reforms" and to overcome the effects of "Russian economic turmoil." PB MOLDOVA CONDEMNS TRANSDNIESTER OFFICIALS FOR FAILING TO MAKE FORCE CUTS. Gheorghe Carlan, co-chairman of the Joint Control Commission (JCC) for Moldova, criticized the leadership of the Transdniester region for failing to reduce the size of its troops as stipulated by the Odessa agreements, Basa-press reported on 13 October. Carlan said after a JCC meeting that it was obvious Tiraspol would not "contribute to the demilitarization of the zone as it was agreed in Odessa." PB BULGARIAN PARLIAMENT SPEAKER DECLINES TO CALL EMERGENCY SESSION. Yordan Sokolov has turned down a request by the Socialist Party to convene an emergency session of the parliament to discuss the government's decision to grant NATO limited access to Bulgarian air space, Bulgarian Radio reported on 12 October. Socialist Party leader Georgi Parvanov had made the request earlier the same day (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 13 October 1998). Sokolov said he will pass on the request to the parliamentary commissions on foreign policy and national security. He said a debate on the issue could take place during a regular session of the parliament on 15 October. PB BULGARIAN DEFENSE WORKERS TO LOSE JOBS. Bulgaria's deputy minister for industry, Vladimir Kisyov, said on 13 October that some 4,000 workers at arms companies will be laid off by the end of this year, BTA reported. Kisyov said that the restructuring, which will take place at some 400 weapons-producing and other related companies, is needed to increase efficiency in the face of a decrease in demand for Bulgarian weapons. 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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