|Life is what happens to us while we're making other plans. - John Lennon|
RFE/RL NEWSLINE Vol 2, No. 205, Part II, 22 October 1998
________________________________________________________ RFE/RL NEWSLINE Vol 2, No. 205, Part II, 22 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 PRESIDENT TARGETS BARTER TRADE * HOLBROOKE SAYS SERBS 'NOT COMPLYING' * OPPOSITION WINS FIRST ROUND IN MACEDONIAN ELECTIONS xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx REGIONAL AFFAIRS BEREZOVSKII'S CIS REFORM PLAN REJECTED. At a meeting in Minsk on 21 October of the working group on CIS reform, CIS Executive Secretary Boris Berezovskii's blueprint for reforming the commonwealth was unanimously rejected by representatives of the 12 CIS member states, Interfax reported. According to Belarusian representative Sergei Posokhov, Berezovskii's proposal to create a Coordinating Consultative Committee merely "mechanically unites" the present functions of the Executive Secretariat and the CIS Inter-State Economic Committee but contains no new ideas on how to expedite CIS integration. Posokhov said that working group members took exception to Berezovskii's suggestion that representatives at CIS summits be seated in accordance with their country's financial contributions to the organization. Addressing the group, Berezovskii ruled out any changes to the present CIS charter. Such changes were also rejected by a session of the CIS Inter- Parliamentary Assembly several days earlier, "Nezavisimaya gazeta" reported on 20 October. LF EAST-CENTRAL EUROPE UKRAINIAN PRESIDENT TARGETS BARTER TRADE. Ukrainian President Leonid Kuchma on 21 October issued a decree that will give special tax breaks to companies that reduce the percentage of output bartered for other goods rather than sold during the first half of 1999, Reuters reported. The Ukrainian State Statistical Committee said that during the first eight months of 1998, more than one-third of the country's industrial output was bartered rather than sold. The same day, Ukraine's Agriculture Minister Borys Supykhanov complained that the country's farmers are increasingly reluctant to supply approximately 3.5 million tons of grain that they had pledged earlier in 1998 in exchange for seeds and machinery, AP reported. PG OPPOSITION LEADER ACCUSES KYIV OF ASSASSINATION PLOT. Pavlo Lazarenko, a former prime minister and currently an opposition leader in the Ukrainian parliament, told the "Kievskie vedomosti" newspaper on 21 October that several high government officials are plotting to discredit and then assassinate him. "They want to throw me out of politics, out of Ukraine, and out of the circle of the living," he said. Meanwhile, Interfax reported the same day that Ukrainian Prime Minister Valeriy Pustovoytenko has ordered an investigation of a company associated with Lazarenko that benefited excessively from the privatization of an airfield. PG CRIMEA APPROVES NEW CONSTITUTION. The Crimean Autonomous Republic parliament on 21 October approved a new constitution that gives that region neither separate citizenship nor a separate legal system, Interfax reported. The constitution--the fifth one to be proposed since 1992--must now be approved by the Ukrainian parliament in Kyiv. PG LUKASHENKA SEES UKRAINE JOINING BELARUSIAN-RUSSIAN UNION. Speaking in Omsk on 21 October, Belarusian President Alyaksandr Lukashenka said Ukraine would join the Belarusian-Russian Union "tomorrow" if the arrangement began to work efficiently, Interfax. He said that such a union of Slavic countries would "alter the geopolitical situation of the world." At the Russian Polyot defense plant, Lukashenka said that the Belarusian defense industry remains among the most powerful in the former Soviet Union: "We did not make our defense industries manufacture saucers; instead, we kept their production lines alive." Meanwhile, Belarusian Ambassador to Russia Vladimir Grigoryev told ITAR-TASS that Minsk wants to help restart the production of Kvarts television sets at an Omsk plant. PG VEIDEMANN SAYS NO MORE OSCE DEMANDS ON ESTONIA. In an interview with BNS on 21 October, Andra Veidemann, minister without portfolio responsible for nationality issues, said that OSCE High Commissioner on National Minorities Max van der Stoel told her earlier this week in Switzerland that the OSCE will not make any new demands on Estonia over the issue of ethnic minorities. Veidemann quoted Van der Stoel as saying that the OSCE recommendations made to date are "final and without any follow-up." They include simplifying the procedure for granting citizenship to children born in Estonia to non- citizens, which, the minister pointed out, is the only recommendation that Tallinn has so far failed to meet. JC FEWER CASES OF HAZING IN LITHUANIAN ARMY. Lithuanian Defense Ministry officials say that the incidence of hazing in the armed forces is declining, BNS reported on 21 October. Whereas last year 57 such cases went to court, so far this year there have been only 34. Defense staff headquarters chief Colonel Antanas Jurgaitis said he believes it is essential to improve the living conditions of the troops and accelerate prosecution in criminal cases in order to combat hazing. In addition, officials hope that army discipline will be maintained by the Military Police. A law regulating the activities of that force is currently under discussion in the parliament. JC CZECH FOREIGN MINISTRY WELCOMES GERMAN STANCE. The Czech Foreign Ministry said it is pleased that the new German government is focusing on the future in its approach toward the Czech Republic's prospective EU membership, CTK reported on 21 October. Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Monika Pajerova said that comments by Foreign Minister- designate Joschka Fischer (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 21 October 1998) showed Bonn's support for the Czech-German declaration. She added that bilateral relations should not be "burdened with political and legal relations from the past." PB SLOVAK PARTY WANTS ETHNIC HUNGARIANS IN COALITION... Robert Fico, the deputy chairman of the Party of the Democratic Left (SDL), said on 21 October that the SDL wants the Hungarian Coalition Party (SMK) in the government, TASR reported. Fico said talks on forming a government have been "complicated and difficult" but that the SDL wants the ruling coalition to have 93 seats in the parliament, meaning it wants all four parties involved in the negotiations to be included in the government. Ninety seats are required for the three- fifths majority necessary to change the constitution. Fico also announced that SDL chairman Jozef Migas will be nominated as parliamentary chairman. PB ...BUT HUNGARIANS DON'T FEEL WANTED. Bela Bugar, the chairman of the SMK, said on 21 October that the SDL continues to hamper negotiations on forming a government by insisting on a greater proportion of ministerial posts, CTK reported. Bugar said the SDL "wants to have more ministers than it is entitled to according to the election results." He added that the ethnic Hungarian party will "not sign the coalition agreement at any cost." Bugar hinted that the SMK's inclusion in the government is crucial to Slovakia catching up to its neighbors in the integration process. "Everyone should realize that our participation in the government ranks among the conditions of the resumption of our EU entry negotiations." Mikulas Dzurinda, the chairman of the Slovak Democratic Coalition and likely prime minister in the new government, agreed that the talks have been protracted, adding that "the people expect more from us." PB PRIME MINISTERS REVIVE VISEGRAD GROUP IN BUDAPEST. Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban and his Czech and Polish counterparts, Milos Zeman and Jerzy Buzek, agreed on 21 October in Budapest to resume the Visegrad Group to coordinate the three countries' bid to join the EU and NATO. The premiers agreed to meet at least twice a year and welcomed the possibility of Slovakia's return to the group. Orban said cooperation will be extended to the spheres of culture and telecommunications. The Visegrad Group was formed in 1991 when the presidents of Czechoslovakia, Hungary, and Poland met in Visegrad, Hungary, and agreed to a framework of cooperation to integrate with Western Europe. MSZ SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE HOLBROOKE SAYS SERBS 'NOT COMPLYING.' U.S. special envoy Richard Holbrooke said in Paris on 21 October that "the Serbian forces [in Kosova] are not in compliance with the UN [Security Council] resolution, it's as simple as that. If the situation is not rectified in the next six days, it can only lead to the most dramatic consequences." In Belgrade, AFP reported that Serbian forces fired heavy artillery in the Mt. Berisha area west of Prishtina during the night of 20-21 October. The Kosovar news agency KIC wrote that Serbian forces have recently shelled 14 ethnic Albanian villages in the Drenica, Malisheva and Trapeza areas. Yugoslav army sources said in Prishtina, however, that the army has not carried out "any offensive action" in recent days. Elsewhere in Kosova, international monitors on 22 October continued to investigate reports of shellings and armed clashes. They sent their preliminary findings to NATO headquarters in Brussels the previous day but did not make them public. PM KOSOVARS WARN COOK ABOUT SETTLEMENT. Fehmi Agani and Edita Tahiri, who belong to the Kosovar shadow state's negotiating team, told British Foreign Secretary Robin Cook in Skopje on 21 October that the interim political settlement outlined in the recent agreement between Holbrooke and Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic is far short of the minimum that the Kosovars will accept (see "RFE/RL Bosnia Report," 21 October 1998). They added that U.S. Ambassador to Macedonia Chris Hill's plan, which expands on the Milosevic-Holbrooke agreement, is not acceptable to the Kosovars, even as a basis for further talks. Cook told the two negotiators that Holbrooke obtained the best terms he could for the Kosovars in long and tough negotiations with Milosevic and that Hill also faces difficulties in his talks with the Serbs. PM MACEDONIA OFFERS ITS AIRPORTS FOR NATO AIRCRAFT. Prime Minister Branko Crvenkovski has offered airport facilities to an unspecified number of NATO aircraft to be deployed in the Balkans within the framework of NATO surveillance over Kosova, "Koha Ditore" reported from Skopje on 21 October. NATO asked Macedonia on 17 October to allow the deployment of unmanned spy planes and unspecified other aircraft as well as ground staff. Crvenkovski, however, stressed that the deployment "does not mean that Macedonia [itself] will participate in the NATO verification mission" in Kosova. Observers noted that Macedonia is anxious to prove itself worthy of full NATO membership but does not want to strain relations with Belgrade. The surveillance mission is slated to begin "in a few days" and will involve 20 intelligence- gathering aircraft, RFE/RL's South Slavic Service reported. FS SERBIAN JOURNALISTS DEMAND RELEASE OF COLLEAGUES. Some 100 journalists marched through Belgrade on 21 October to demand the release of Tanjug journalists Nebojsa Radosevic and Vladimir Dobricic. The protesters presented a petition to officials of the U.S. embassy that read: "only the U.S., as the creator and main guarantor of the [Milosevic-Holbrooke pact], can efficiently influence the Kosova Liberation Army (UCK) political and military leaders to release all [Serbs who have gone missing], including our colleagues." The two Tanjug journalists disappeared recently in Kosova and are widely believed to have fallen into the hands of UCK, although the UCK's spokesman denies it (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 21 October 1998). PM OSCE CALLS ON SERBIA TO RESCIND MEDIA BAN. Freimut Duve, who is the OSCE's chief spokesman on media rights and freedoms, appealed in Vienna on 21 October to the Serbian authorities to repeal the new media law that enables the government to shut down newspapers and broadcasters who offend it (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 21 October 1998). In Belgrade, spokesmen for the independent electronic media called the new law "scandalous and uncivilized" and argued that it will greatly harm Serbia's image abroad, RFE/RL's South Slavic Service reported. PM OPPOSITION PARTY CALLS FOR TUDJMAN TO RESIGN. Radomir Cacic, who heads the Croatian People's Party (HNS), said in Zagreb on 21 October that his party wants President Franjo Tudjman to resign and call new parliamentary elections in the wake of the growing scandal over the undisclosed bank account of his wife, Ankica Tudjman (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 21 October 1998). Cacic added that the HNS and the Istrian Democratic Forum will table a motion in the parliament calling for an official investigation into the Tudjman family's wealth. Meanwhile, the leadership of the Croatian Peasants' Party issued a statement praising the courage of Ankica Lepej, the bank clerk who leaked details of Ankica Tudjman's bank account to the press, RFE/RL's South Slavic Service reported. PM OPPOSITION WINS FIRST ROUND IN MACEDONIAN ELECTIONS. The coalition of the Internal Macedonian Revolutionary Organization (VMRO-DPMNE) and the Democratic Alternative (DA) won 15 out of the 35 legislative seats at stake in the 18 October elections, according to the final official returns released on 21 October. The governing Social Democrats took 10 seats and the coalition of the two largest ethnic Albanian parties eight. The Liberals, who represent the interests of some members of the business community and of the ethnic Vlach population, took two seats. Observers suggested that in the second round on 1 November, which will decide 85 seats, the opposition coalition will likely maintain its lead and attract the support of smaller parties. The key question is which parties, if any, will join VMRO and DA in a coalition government. PM ALBANIAN PARLIAMENT VOTES FOR REFERENDUM ON CONSTITUTION... Albania's Socialist-dominated parliament on 21 October approved the draft constitution and agreed to put it up to a referendum. That vote will take place on 22 November. All 115 government coalition legislators in the 155-seat parliament voted in favor of the new basic law. There were no votes against the draft, but the Democratic Party did not take part in the vote. Former Prime Minister Fatos Nano hailed the document, saying it "embodies the aspirations of all Albanian progressive forces." He stressed that it will give Albania "stability in governing by averting government crises and [precluding] cabinets without parliamentary backing." Krenar Loloci, who is a legal expert from the constitution drafting commission, told Reuters that the draft makes clearer the distinction between the roles of the president, the national government, regional governments, and the judiciary. FS ...WHILE BERISHA PLEDGES TO PRESENT HIS OWN DRAFT. Democratic Party leader Sali Berisha told a press conference on 21 October in Tirana that his party will soon publish its own draft constitution, "Albanian Daily News" reported. Berisha said that earlier, the Democrats had wanted to merge the government- and opposition- sponsored drafts into one that would have the support of all political parties. He added that the Democrats' National Council will soon decide whether to call for a boycott of the referendum. The Democrats refused to submit to the parliament their suggestions on the draft because they do not regard the legislature as legitimate. They demanded instead that the Socialists discuss the constitution with them at a roundtable. The Socialists, however, refused to do so. FS ROMANIAN PREMIER DEMANDS END TO INFIGHTING. Radu Vasile criticized his cabinet on 21 October for arguing more than any other government in Eastern Europe, Reuters reported. Vasile said upon his return from Brussels that EU officials "cannot understand what is happening in Romania." Vasile said no other government in the region spends as much time "criticizing steps taken by the government." In other news, Interior Minister Gavril Dejeu sacked ten top officers on corruption charges, AP reported on 22 October. The officers allegedly misused millions of dollars earmarked for public projects from 1993-1997, the daily "Libertatea" reported. PB MOLDOVA URGES RUSSIA TO WITHDRAW TROOPS. The Moldovan Foreign Ministry released a statement on 21 October urging Moscow to honor an agreement on the breakaway Transdniester region by withdrawing its troops from the area, AP reported. The statement asks the Russian State Duma to ratify the treaty that ended the five-month war in 1992. Chisinau approved the treaty in 1994. The agreement left some 5,000 Russian troops in Transdniester. The statement said Russia's failure to withdraw the troops could lead to a worsening of bilateral relations. PB BULGARIAN PARLIAMENT APPROVES BILL BANNING COMMUNISTS FROM HOLDING OFFICE. The parliament passed a law on 21 October that would ban top communists and secret service agents from holding top government and civil service posts for five years, Reuters reported. The vote was 133 to 79 and now awaits the signature of President Petar Stoyanov before becoming law. The Socialist Party, made up mostly of former Communist party members, boycotted the vote, saying the law violates human rights. It also commented that it will file an appeal with the Constitutional Court and international human rights organizations. PB BULGARIA CLOSES CASE ON MARKOV MURDER. Nestor Nesterov, Bulgaria's chief prosecutor, said on 21 October that the state is closing the file on the murder of dissident Georgi Markov, Reuters reported. Nesterov said the time limit for the investigation had expired. Markov, a free- lancer for RFE/RL who also worked for the BBC, was poisoned in London in 1978 (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 21 October 1998). British Foreign Secretary Robin Cook said in Sofia the same day that "Communism has gone away with its secrets and the Markov case is one of them." 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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