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RFE/RL NEWSLINE Vol 2, No. 211, Part II, 2 November 1998
________________________________________________________ RFE/RL NEWSLINE Vol 2, No. 211, Part II, 2 November 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 * IMF APPROVES LOAN TRANCHE TO UKRAINE * MACEDONIAN SOCIALISTS CONCEDE DEFEAT * UCK SENTENCES TWO SERBIAN JOURNALISTS xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx EAST-CENTRAL EUROPE IMF APPROVES LOAN TRANCHE TO UKRAINE. The IMF on 29 October approved a $78 million tranche of the $2.2 billion three-year credit to Ukraine, Ukrainian News reported on 2 November. A statement issued by the IMF's Kyiv office on 30 October says the Ukrainian government remains committed to the IMF's loan program and that the recent restructuring of Ukrainian short-term bonds to foreign creditors enables the authorities to concentrate on economic and financial reforms. An IMF mission is currently in Kyiv to analyze and monitor the implementation of the loan program by Ukraine. President Leonid Kuchma on 30 October said that Kyiv wants to discuss with the IMF a possible money emission to alleviate an acute shortage of cash. JM KUCHMA ADDRESSES UKRAINIAN-RUSSIAN BUSINESS FORUM. The Ukrainian president told a meeting of Russian and Ukrainian businessmen and industrialists in Kharkiv on 30 October that Ukraine and Russia must undertake joint actions during the current crisis, ITAR-TASS reported. Kuchma stressed that while political contacts between the two countries are "full of mutual understanding," it is very important to develop economic relations. The Kharkiv forum spoke out against the "politicization of economic relations" and urged the Russian State Duma to ratify the Ukrainian-Russian treaty and the Ukrainian Supreme Council to approve accords on the Black Sea Fleet. JM BELARUSIANS COMMEMORATE VICTIMS OF STALINIST EXECUTIONS. Some 2,000 people, including many opponents of President Alyaksandr Lukashenka, marched on 1 November from downtown Minsk to the site of mass executions during Stalin's regime at Kurapaty, AP reported. The march took place on Commemoration of Ancestors Day, which is officially a national holiday in Belarus but has been deprived of its work-free status by Lukashenka's government. The Belarusian opposition says more than 200,000 people were killed at Kurapaty during Stalinist purges from 1937-1941. In a recent bid to downplay the scale of Stalinist repressions, Prosecutor-General Aleh Bazhelka said no more than 7,000 people were buried in mass graves at Kurapaty, adding that there is no evidence that they were Stalinist victims. JM ESTONIAN GOVERNMENT TO CONSIDER RESIGNING? The daily "Eesti Paevaleht" reports that at its 2 November session, the government will consider the possibility of resigning following the parliament's rejection of the 1999 draft budget (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 29 and 30 October 1998). Justice Minister Paul Varul told the daily that if lawmakers reject the draft budget for a second time without debating it, the government will be unable to continue in office. In an interview with "Eesti Paevaleht" two days earlier, Finance Minister Mart Opmann said the opposition's arguments against the budget are "emotional rather than rational," pointing out that no figures have been submitted to prove what the opposition claims is the draft's "excessive optimism." JC END IN SIGHT TO LATVIAN COALITION IMPASSE? The Fatherland and Freedom party has said it backs the candidate of Latvia's Way for premier, Reuters reported on 31 October. "Our council has decided to recommend that [President Guntis] Ulmanis nominate [Transport Minister] Vilis Kristopans as candidate for prime minister," a party spokesman told the news agency. The People's Party, which won last month's general elections, wants its leader, Andris Skele, to take over the premiership. Filling that post has been the main sticking point in coalition negotiations over the past four weeks or so. Ulmanis has said he will name a candidate for prime minister on 3 November. JC LITHUANIA RAISES CUSTOMS DUTIES ON SOME GOODS. ITAR-TASS reported on 1 November that Vilnius has increased duties on some imports from countries with which it has no free trade agreement. According to a government resolution, the higher tariffs are to remain in effect until the "financial-economic stabilization [of] neighbor- countries." Import duties on beef, poultry, and pork have been increased by 30 percent, 25 percent, and 20 percent, respectively. Tariffs on cheese and butter are up 20 percent and 15 percent, while those on grain and sugar have risen by 10-20 percent and 87 percent. Lithuania has no free trade agreement with Russia or Belarus. JC POLISH GOVERNMENT SUMS UP FIRST YEAR'S SUCCESSES... Deputy Prime Minister Leszek Balcerowicz told Polish Radio on 30 October that Premier Jerzy Buzek's cabinet has managed to shield Poland's economy from the current global crisis and has stabilized public finances. Balcerowicz recalled that the current government, which took office on 31 October 1997, has launched reform in the administration, health care, pension, and taxation systems. He added that Buzek's cabinet has accelerated privatization and begun the sale of Poland's telecommunications monopoly. Solidarity leader Marian Krzaklewski assessed the first year of the present coalition as "very positive" but criticized the government for an ineffective information policy. JM ...WHILE OPPOSITION LISTS FAILINGS. Meanwhile, Leszek Miller, leader of the opposition Democratic Left Alliance, criticized Buzek's cabinet for an "excessive degree of ideological commitment," Polish Radio reported on 30 October. Miller said Buzek's health reform was based on a 1996 law adopted by the previous left-wing government and "amended in a wrong direction" by the current cabinet. Jaroslaw Kalinowski, leader of the opposition Polish Peasant Party, said the four systemic reforms launched by Buzek's cabinet are "a dubious success." And Adam Slomka from the right-wing opposition Confederation for an Independent Poland commented that Buzek's first year in office was a year of "wasted chances." JM HAVEL, KLAUS CLASH ON CZECH RADIO. Former premier Vaclav Klaus told Czech President Vaclav Havel during a Czech Radio broadcast on 31 October that their differences "are of a deep philosophical, ideological character." Havel said he believes the state must "show greater solidarity with the people," and he criticized Klaus for failing to introduce "an adequate legal framework for privatization" when he was premier. Klaus, for his part, reproached Havel with "insufficient support" for his cabinet. He also said that Havel's office "pursues certain political interests of its own," a charge denied by Havel, who said there is "no such thing as "the policy of the [presidential] Castle," AP reported. MS NEW SLOVAK GOVERNMENT POSTPONES LOCAL ELECTIONS. One day after being sworn in, the new Slovak cabinet rescheduled the local elections from 13-14 November to 19 December, AP reported on 31 October. The postponement will allow the government to submit to the parliament amendments to the electoral law. The Supreme Court has ruled that the law is "unconstitutional" because it discriminates against ethnic Hungarians. The cabinet also agreed to draft a new law on the broadcast media. Prime Minister Mikulas Dzurinda said state television was abused by his predecessor, Vladimir Meciar, for political purposes. MS DZURINDA ON HUNGARIAN PARTICIPATION IN CABINET. Speaking to MTI on 30 October, Dzurinda said the Hungarian Coalition Party (SMK) "represents a major democratic force" in Slovakia. He added that the country needs "peace, tranquillity, and good relations" and that these objectives can be achieved only by cooperation among all parties represented in the government. And he noted that he would welcome the opportunity to meet with Hungarian Premier Viktor Orban "as soon as possible," pointing out that Hungarian-Slovak relations are an "important element" of his government's policy. MS ROMANIAN FOREIGN MINISTER IN BUDAPEST. Andrei Plesu and his Hungarian counterpart, Janos Martonyi, met in Budapest on 30 October to discuss, among other things, bilateral relations and regional affairs, Hungarian and Romanian media reported. Martonyi said Hungary supports Romania's quest for integration into the EU and NATO, as well as Bucharest's demand that the EU abolish entry visas for Romanian citizens. Plesu said Hungary is Romania's "number one trading partner" and called on Budapest to increase investments in Romania. With regard to the Hungarian-language university, Plesu said the Romanian government has made its decision, but he added that it is "risky" to predict the outcome of the imminent parliamentary debate on the relevant law. MS SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE MACEDONIAN SOCIALISTS CONCEDE DEFEAT. Prime Minister Branko Crvenkovski, who has held that office for most of the 1990s, said in Skopje on 2 November that his Social Democrats lost the second round of parliamentary elections the previous day and will now enter the opposition. Ljubco Georgievski, who heads the Internal Macedonian Revolutionary Organization (VMRO-DPMNE) and his coalition partner, Vasil Tupurkovski, who heads the Democratic Alternative (DA) have begun talks aimed at forming a new government. Final results are expected later on 2 November. Observers report that the VMRO-DA coalition should have little difficulty attracting the support of some smaller parties and putting together a working majority in parliament. PM NEW GOVERNMENT TO STRESS ECONOMY. The key immediate question facing the new VMRO-DA government is whether Georgievski and Tupurkovski will ask one of the two main ethnic Albanian parties to join their coalition in order to ensure a broad base of support. Georgievski told "RFE/RL Newsline" in Skopje recently that he wants to focus his government's attention on economic development and not be "distracted" by ethnically related disputes. He added that he is willing to let the ethnic Albanian minority have its own university if the ethnic Albanian leaders agree in exchange not to make additional demands on the government. Georgievski stressed that ending corruption and attracting foreign investment are in the interest of all Macedonian citizens. In the weeks since the first round of parliamentary elections on 18 October, he added that he will maintain "continuity" in Macedonia's international obligations. PM SOLANA WARNS MILOSEVIC. NATO Secretary-General Javier Solana told "Der Spiegel" of 1 November that Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic should not forget that NATO can launch air strikes within 48 hours if the Atlantic alliance concludes he has not met his obligations to the international community. Solana added that the international community will not allow "any more Bosnias." PM UCK SENTENCES TWO SERBIAN JOURNALISTS. The Kosova Liberation Army (UCK) issued a statement on 1 November saying that a guerrilla military court has sentenced two journalists from Serbia's state-run Tanjug news agency to 60 days' imprisonment. The two men, who disappeared in mid-October, received the sentences for "violation and disregard of [unspecified] rules on civilian and military organization" laid down by the UCK (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 20 October 1998). The statement added that the two can appeal their sentences but did not say where or to whom. PM KOSOVARS NOT BOUND BY MILOSEVIC-HOLBROOKE PACT. Unnamed Western diplomats told Reuters in Prishtina on 1 November that the Serbian forces and UCK are testing the limits of the interim settlement in Kosova. The diplomats said that the Serbs have reentered unspecified areas they are supposed to have left and replaced stationary road checkpoints with mobile ones, instead of removing the checkpoints entirely. The UCK has gradually returned to areas that the Serbs forced them to leave in recent weeks. The guerrillas, who did not participate in either set of talks, do not feel bound either by the pact in October between Milosevic and U.S. special envoy Richard Holbrooke or by the follow-up agreement between the Yugoslav president and NATO officials. In Prishtina on 31 October, Kosovar shadow-state President Ibrahim Rugova said that the Kosovars have not agreed to any settlement on Kosova, RFE/RL's South Slavic Service reported. PM BERGER STRESSES DEMOCRATIZATION OF SERBIA. U.S. National Security Adviser Sandy Berger said in Washington on 30 October that the U.S. government will continue to support what he called "the democratic forces in Serbia." He added that the democratization of Serbia is vital to the long-term stability of the Balkans. In Belgrade the following day, Serbia's Independent Union of Journalists appealed in a statement to individuals and organizations at home and abroad to support the independent media, which have been closed or are under pressure because of the recent media law (see "RFE/RL Bosnia Report," 29 October 1998). The journalists stressed that the law is unconstitutional, while the authorities responded by urging the journalists to "respect the rule of law," the BBC reported. PM DJUKANOVIC BLASTS 'SERBIAN HEGEMONISM.' Montenegrin President Milo Djukanovic said in Podgorica on 1 November that his republic's integrity is under threat from Belgrade's "Serbian hegemonism" and from Milosevic's allies within Montenegro, an RFE/RL correspondent reported from Podgorica. Djukanovic charged that the federal authorities do not consult his government or the public when making important decisions on Kosova and other issues. He was speaking at the convention of the governing Democratic Socialist Party, which elected him party president. PM ARGENTINA EXTRADITES NADA SAKIC. Accused war criminal Nada Sakic arrived in Frankfurt, Germany, on a flight from Buenos Aires to Croatia on 2 November. Argentine authorities had extradited her the previous day. She will face trial for war crimes in connection with her activities at concentration camps run by the pro-Axis Ustasha regime during World War II (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 27 July 1998). Argentine authorities earlier extradited her husband, Dinko Sakic, to Croatia to face similar charges. An Argentine judge told Reuters that the departure of Nada Sakic concludes what he called "perhaps the most important extradition from Argentina in history." PM INTERNATIONAL LEADERS URGE ALBANIA TO CONTINUE REFORMS... Officials from 25 countries attending a development conference in Tirana on 30 October issued a joint statement urging "the government...to take concrete measures to restore law and order throughout the country [and protect] private investments and foreign personnel." They pledged continued support but added that "the government should...assure an appropriate climate for private business activity," stressing in particular the need to fight corruption and smuggling as well as to reform public administration and the judiciary. Western European Union representatives said they are considering whether to increase the duties of their multinational police contingent in Albania, which has been training Albanian police officers since 1997. Austrian Foreign Minister and current EU presidency chair Wolfgang Schuessel said the domestic situation has "dramatically improved" since the appointment of Prime Minister Pandeli Majko's government last month, but he added that security continues to raise concerns. The EU has given Albania $830 million since 1990. FS ...CALLS ON OPPOSITION NOT TO BOYCOTT REFERENDUM. OSCE Chairman Bronislaw Geremek told the conference that the opposition Democratic Party should end its boycott of the parliament and participate in the 22 November referendum on a new constitution. Geremek stressed that "one has to respect the rules of democracy," AP reported. The Democrats have said they will boycott the referendum (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 30 October 1998). Greek European Affairs Minister George Papandreou said that "the opposition has chosen the road of isolation," adding that the boycott will not stop the "process of democratization and development of Albania." He proposed setting up an Institute for Democracy to educate a new generation of politicians. The next day, the Democratic Party issued a statement claiming that the conference participants called attention to "the complete failure of the Socialist government...[and] openly denounced [it] as a government of corruption." FS BUCHAREST MAYORAL ELECTIONS STILL UNDECIDED. The results of the 1 November repeated ballot show that a run-off will be held on 8 November between National Peasant Party Christian Democratic candidate Viorel Lis (44.6 percent) and Sorin Oprescu, the candidate of the Party of Social Democracy in Romania (27 percent). Turnout was 36.2 percent, only slightly higher than in the ballot recently invalidated because of insufficient voter participation. Meanwhile, Cluj Mayor Gheorghe Funar on 30 October said he will accept the offer of Greater Romania Party chairman Corneliu Vadim Tudor to become the party's secretary-general, RFE/RL's Bucharest bureau reported. MS NEW 'ULTIMATUM' IN ROMANIAN COALITION BICKERING. Democratic Party leader Petre Roman says his formation has given an "ultimatum" to its coalition partners. The Democrats threaten to reconsider their participation in the coalition by the spring if reform steps are not implemented by then, Romanian Television reported on 1 November. Meanwhile, chief IMF representative for Romania Poul Thompsen and his designated successor, Emmanuel Zervudakis, have arrived in Bucharest to discuss resuming IMF loans to Romania. But figures released on 31 October by the Central Statistics Board show that the Romanian economy continues to worsen. MS MOLDOVAN PREMIER ENDS MOSCOW VISIT. Visiting Premier Ion Ciubuc and his Russian counterpart, Yevgenii Primakov, said in a statement on 30 October that they have agreed to "speed up preparations for signing a program on economic cooperation" for the years 1999-2000, Infotag and ITAR-TASS reported. Within this framework, particular attention will be paid to partly clearing Moldova's debt to Russia and the gas company Gazprom by barter. The statement also said the withdrawal of Russian troops from Moldovan territory will "continue as the necessary conditions [for it] are created." Russia and Moldova will "continue efforts envisaging a political settlement of the Transdniester conflict," including granting a "special status" to the region while preserving the "independence and territorial integrity of the Republic of Moldova." MS BULGARIA PROTESTS MACEDONIAN BAN ON SOFIA JOURNALISTS. Angel Dimitrov, Bulgarian ambassador to Macedonia, has protested Macedonia's refusal to allow two Bulgarian journalists to enter the country to cover the second round of the Macedonian general elections, AP reported on 1 November. Marinela Mircheva, a state radio journalist, and Antoaneta Maskrachka of "24 Chasa" were denied entry although Bulgaria says both had the necessary accreditation. Dimitrov said the move may indicate Macedonian Prime Minister Branco Crvenkovski's intention to "block relations with Bulgaria if [his government] remains in power." Bulgarian media have reported that Crvenkovski is "waging a wild anti- Bulgarian campaign" and accuses the opposition of being ready to "sell off Macedonian interests" to Bulgaria. MS xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx Copyright (c) 1998 RFE/RL, Inc. 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