|If you are not allowed to laugh in heaven, I don't want to go there. - Martin Luther|
RFE/RL NEWSLINE Vol 3, No. 2, Part II, 5 January 1999
________________________________________________________ RFE/RL NEWSLINE Vol 3, No. 2, Part II, 5 January 1999 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 * DISPUTE OVER PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDACY IN SLOVAK RULING COALITION * DJUKANOVIC CALLS FOR MILOSEVIC'S 'ISOLATION' * ROMANIAN GOVERNMENT REJECTS MINERS' DEMANDS End Note: A REVOLUTION OF FALLING EXPECTATIONS xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx EAST-CENTRAL EUROPE UKRAINIAN CABINET TO DRAW UP ADMINISTRATION REFORM DECREE. Ukrainian Prime Minister Valeriy Pustovoytenko has ordered his cabinet to prepare by 6 January a draft decree that would cut the number of ministries and increase the government's efficiency, AP and ITAR-TASS reported on 4 January. Pustovoytenko said the planned cuts may affect 30 percent of government officials. The cabinet's step is seen as a response to the IMF's criticism of Ukraine's bureaucratic system of government. Radical administrative reform is an IMF requirement for the resumption of a suspended $2.2 billion loan. JM OPPOSITION SAYS BELARUSIAN-LANGUAGE EDUCATION IN DECLINE. Aleh Trusau, deputy chairman of the Belarusian Language Society, told RFE/RL's Belarusian Service that in 1998, the government did "everything possible to destroy the Belarusian-language education system." According to Trusau, there are no schools with Belarusian as the instruction language in Mahilyou and Pinsk, while in Minsk the proportion of first-graders instructed in Belarusian has fallen to 4.5 percent. At the same time, Trusau noted that the "opposition to total Russification is increasing," particularly among young people. He said his society has recently opened 15 branches in raions and several at "major Belarusian plants. Thus, we can also see another trend--the people's respect for the Belarusian language has remarkably increased. This trend is also demonstrated by the persecution of both our organization and individual members by the authorities," Trusau commented. JM ESTONIAN GOVERNMENT TO APPEAL TO EU OVER SHIPPING ROW? The cabinet on 4 January discussed appealing to the EU to rule on the legal aspect of the boycott by Finnish dockworkers of vessels belonging to the Estonian Shipping Company (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 21 December 1998), ETA reported. Danish dockworkers at the port of Arhus joined that boycott several days after it began. The Estonian Foreign Ministry argues that the Finnish and Danish trade union action violates the association agreement between Estonia and the EU. Government spokesman Daniel Vaarik said that the government intends to clarify all aspects of the shipping row. JC ESTONIAN-RUSSIAN WATER TALKS MAY RESUME NEXT WEEK. The municipal authorities of Ivangorod will seek to continue talks next week with the Estonian water company Narva Vesi on resuming water supplies to the Russian border town and the treatment of its sewage, Antonina Kostitsyna of the Ivangorod authorities told BNS on 4 January. Several days ago, Narva Vesi cut off water supplies to Ivangorod, which owes the company some $1.4 million (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 4 January 1999). Kostitsyna said that Ivangorod officials will be meeting with regional leaders to discuss possible ways of paying Ivangorod's debt to Narva Vesi. JC LATVIAN PREMIER SAYS NO IMMINENT EXPANSION OF RULING COALITION. Vilis Kristopans told journalists on 4 January that no decisions about expanding the coalition government or appointing the state minister for forestry are expected to be taken soon, BNS reported. "I will not invite a state minister [to join the government] until the agriculture minister is approved," Kristopans said. The premier has nominated Peteris Salkazanovs of the Social Democratic Party as agriculture minister, but the Fatherland and Freedom Party opposes the Social Democrats' participation in the government and has postponed taking a final decision on the issue until 23 January. Under the coalition agreement, there must be consensus among coalition partners on inviting other parties to participate in the government. JC LITHUANIAN PRESIDENT DELAYS FORMING 'LUSTRATION' COMMISSION. Valdas Adamkus will delay forming a commission provided for by the law banning former KGB agents from holding government office and working in various private-sector jobs (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 4 January 1999), BNS reported on 4 January. Under the law, which was vetoed by Adamkus last year but went into force on I January, the president is to form a commission that would consider lifting the restrictions for some former KGB employees. Adamkus's spokeswoman, Violeta Gaizauskaite, stressed that the law does not set a deadline for setting up the commission, adding that it "makes more sense" to wait until the Constitutional Court rules on the constitutionality of the new legislation. Such a ruling is expected next month. JC POLAND'S HEALTH REFORM STARTS AMID CONFUSION, PROTESTS. Polish Radio reported that there was "one huge, big muddle" caused by a "crowd of disoriented patients" at a Warsaw health clinic on 4 January, the first day that Poland's health reform was implemented. Under the health reform law, every patient can choose doctors, clinics, or hospitals for treatment. The National Union of Doctors has sent a letter to the prime minister accusing the ruling coalition of "burying the hope of an improvement" in the country's health service and of "devaluing the work of doctors." Meanwhile, anesthetists continued their protest on 4 January by tendering mass resignations and refusing to assist at operations, excluding emergencies. They are demanding that their new job contracts, which are required under the health reform, be signed by themselves, not by the hospitals for which they work. JM MORE PROTESTS IN POLAND. The Federation of Light Industry Trade Unions has launched a nationwide protest, Polish Television reported on 4 January. Trade unionists demand that the government draw up a restructuring program for their sector and that the parliament debate their problems. Meanwhile, 10 coal miners' trade unions (excluding Solidarity) have announced that they intend to appeal the mining restructuring law to the Constitutional Court. The unions claim that the four- year wage freeze in the mining industry violates the constitution. And the Federation of Polish State Railroad Trade Unions has taken the recently adopted law on pensions to the Constitutional Court, arguing that the legislation contravenes the principles of social justice by giving preferential treatments to high earners. JM KLAUS SILENT ON NEW ALLEGATIONS OVER PRIVATIZATION BRIBE. Former Czech Premier Vaclav Klaus, leader of the opposition Civic Democratic Party (ODS), told the private radio station Frecvence 1 on 4 January that he has "nothing to say" on the alleged 1995 bribes paid by the Dutch KPN telecommunication company to the ODS and the Civic Democratic Alliance for the acquisition of a 27 percent stake in the STP Telcom company, CTK reported. "Someone is still cooking this old soup, which is really far too old and without any spice," Klaus said. Dutch Television reported on 3 January that KPN had bribed the two parties, paying 12-18 million guldens ($6.4- 9.5 million). Dutch deputies asked the government in The Hague to comment on the allegations, because the state was a majority owner in KPN in 1995. MS DISPUTE OVER PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDACY IN SLOVAK RULING COALITION. Rudolf Schuster, chairman of the Party of Civic Understanding (SOP) and mayor of Kosice, has dismissed as "laughable, shameful, and untrue" allegations that he has secured the backing of the ruling coalition for his presidential candidacy through "blackmail," CTK reported on 4 January. Schuster was responding to a call by Vladimir Palko of the Slovak Democratic Coalition (SDK) to explain the "immoral deals" through which his candidacy won the coalition's backing. As part of the coalition agreement, the SOP gave up a ministerial post and the coalition agreed to support Schuster's candidacy, but the deal was criticized by the Christian Democrats and the Democratic Union, which are both senior partners in the five-party SDK. Schuster said the objections are part of the SDK's internal disputes and he has "nothing to explain" to Palko. MS FORMER SLOVAK OFFICIALS TO BE INDICTED? Interior Minister Ladislav Pittner on 4 January said several ministers in the former cabinet of Vladimir Meciar may be charged with plotting the 1995 kidnapping of former President Michal Kovac's son, CTK reported. While in opposition, Pittner headed an independent commission that investigated the kidnapping. He said the commission's findings have now been confirmed. The commission accused the former head of Slovak counter- intelligence (SIS), Ivan Lexa, of attempting to destroy evidence on the kidnapping. It also said the Interior Ministry and the Prosecutor-General's Office were involved in hiding evidence. Pittner added that "concrete charges" will soon be brought against officials who blocked the referendum on NATO and direct presidential elections in 1996 as well as against those involved in the murder of Robert Remias, an SIS agent who admitted participation in the kidnapping of Kovac's son. MS SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE DJUKANOVIC CALLS FOR MILOSEVIC'S 'ISOLATION'Š Montenegrin President Milo Djukanovic told the Hamburg- based weekly "Der Spiegel" of 4 January that the international community must "isolate" Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic and cease giving him "domestic political legitimacy" by treating him as a legitimate negotiating partner. The Montenegrin president said that Washington's recent acknowledgement that Milosevic is the main problem in the Balkans "has come far too late. The international community has been fooled by his tricks for yearsŠ. [He is] one of the people responsible for the problem in Bosnia." Djukanovic promised to pull Montenegrin troops out of the Yugoslav army if Milosevic uses the military against NATO's rapid reaction force in Kosova. The Montenegrin leader added, however, that he believes Milosevic is "bluffing" when he threatens action against the force. But he warned that Milosevic may soon incite violence in Montenegro because he "needs [the republic] as a new trouble spot. He governs by stirring up conflicts." PM ŠSEEKS 'DEMOCRATIZATION' FOR YUGOSLAVIA. President Djukanovic stressed that the Yugoslav federation "is not working" but added that the solution is democratization and not Montenegro's or Kosova's succession from the federation. He noted that neither the Montenegrin people nor the international community favor Montenegrin independence or "any additional dramaŠin the Balkans." Djukanovic added that Podgorica nonetheless will "defend its own interestsŠby conducting its own financial policy" if Milosevic "sets off inflation by illegally printing dinars." Referring to Kosova, the Montenegrin leader called for "wide-ranging autonomy linked to the Yugoslav federation for the Albanian minority in SerbiaŠunder international mediation and guarantee." He opposed any "new state territories" in Kosova and added, "I am a firm opponent of any form of secession. That would cause new regional problems. What would happen if states were set up in the Balkans on the basis of ethnicity [alone]?" PM UCK AGREES TO MEETING ON JOINT PLATFORM. Adem Demaci, who is the chief political representative for the Kosova Liberation Army (UCK), told Albanian Prime Minister Pandeli Majko in Tirana on 4 January that UCK representatives agree to meet with unnamed other Kosovar leaders to work out a joint strategy for negotiations with the international community and the Serbs. Majko urged his guest to ensure that the Kosovars "finally speak with a single voice" (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 22 December 1998). The Albanian government issued a statement on 5 January noting that a joint platform "is the first necessary step to unite Kosova's political potential. Time is running out for Kosova to show one face to the international community and to eliminate unnecessary competition among political factions." PM IS UCK OPEN TO COMPROMISE? The guerrillas published a statement in the Prishtina daily "Koha Ditore" on 4 January saying that "Kosova should have a position of an undisputed territorial entityŠfully independent from the jurisdiction of Serbia and Yugoslavia." The text added that the current U.S. draft proposal for an interim political settlement is unacceptable because it "offers the [ethnic] Albanians much less than was given to the Serbs in Bosnia" under the Dayton agreement. Observers suggested that this formulation could indicate that the UCK is willing to discuss what some regional media call the "Republika Srpska model" as an interim solution for Kosova. According to this model, the Kosovars would have as much control over their affairs as the Bosnian Serbs do over theirs. Yugoslavia would thus formally remain a single, unified country--as does Bosnia--but the Kosovars would maintain with Belgrade only the limited ties that the Bosnian Serbs have with the joint government in Sarajevo. PM U.S. WARNS THAT 'TIME IS RUNNING OUT.' Referring to the situation in Kosova, State Department spokesman James Rubin said on 4 January: "We think both sides need to understand that there is not that much time left for a negotiated solution which can give the legitimate rights to the peopleŠand protect the national interests of the Serbs before we face the prospect of renewed and very dangerous conflict this spring." Rubin added that "the current security environment" in Kosova is "of concern" but not sufficiently dangerous to prompt NATO to consider evacuating the unarmed OSCE civilian monitors in the province. PM HAGUE GIVES SARAJEVO GREEN LIGHT TO TRY ABDIC. A spokesman for the Hague-based war crimes tribunal said on 4 January that the court agrees that evidence supplied by the Sarajevo authorities is sufficient "to justify the arrest [of Bihac pocket kingpin Fikret Abdic] and the case proceeding further." A spokesman for Muslim leader Alija Izetbegovic, who is a long-standing political rival of the controversial Abdic, said that Abdic committed "grave breaches of international law through the inhumane treatment of civilians and war prisoners and through the forced mobilizations" of civilians during the 1992-1995 conflict. Abdic, who maintained good relations with the Serbian and Croatian armies during the conflict, is widely believed to be living under government protection in Croatia. Under a 1996 international agreement, authorities in Bosnia may proceed with war crimes cases only with the approval of The Hague. PM TUDJMAN DEFENDS HIS WEALTH. Croatian President Franjo Tudjman said in Zagreb on 31 December that some $140,000 held by his wife in Zagrebacka Banka are his "life savings" and income from "50 years of work and 30 published books" (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 24 November 1998). He added that unspecified "claims that I or my family possess billions and billions are pure lies..[and] attempts to compromise Croatia's freedom and democracy." He shrugged off recent opinion polls that suggest his Croatian Democratic Community is rapidly losing electoral support. He called the surveys "something made up at someone's desk." Tudjman added that Croatia is "still better off than all former communist countries except Slovenia," Reuters quoted him as saying. PM ALBANIAN INSTITUTE WARNS OF 'BRAIN LOSS.' The Tirana- based Center for Economic and Social Studies published a study on 31 December showing that 31.5 percent of all university teachers and researchers working in Albania in 1990 have permanently left the country since then. Meanwhile, a poll among 251 academics showed that 63.35 percent are likewise planning to leave. Ilir Gedeshi, who heads the center, warned that "teachers, engineers, scholars, artists all seem to have lost hope of leading a normal life in Albania," dpa reported. Since 1991, 23 percent of academic emigrants have gone to the U.S., 19 percent to Greece, and 18 percent to Italy. Smaller numbers went to France, Germany, or Austria. Most scholars left for countries in which they had previously done post-graduate work. Gedeshi said that most emigrants do not find work in their professions, adding that in Albania "we do not have a brain drain, but a brain loss." FS ROMANIAN GOVERNMENT REJECTS MINERS' DEMANDS... Government spokesman Razvan Popescu on 4 January said that the cabinet "rejects the politics of force" of the Jiu Valley miners and will not "conduct a dialogue" with them in view of their "ultimatum." Popescu also said that the striking miners will not receive wages for the days on which they strike. Trade and Industry Minister Radu Berceanu said he will not come to Petrosani, as demanded by the miners, but is ready to receive a nine- member delegation, on condition that Jiu Valley miners' leader Miron Cozma is not part of that group, RFE/RL's Bucharest bureau reported. Berceanu added that meeting the demands of the striking miners would cost $500 million, while the losses of the Jiu Valley mining company in the last eight years amount to some $2 billion. MS ...AS MINERS CONTINUE STRIKE. Some 2,500 striking miners demonstrated in Petrosani on 4 January, shouting anti- government slogans. Cozma said Berceanu's estimation of the cost of meeting the miners' demands is a "lie" and proves he must be dismissed. Berceanu's dismissal is included on the list of demands that a delegation representing all miners' unions handed to him on 4 January. Cozma added that if the authorities refuse to let the miners travel to Bucharest by train, they will do so by bus or march on the capital from the valley. The Ministry of Interior announced it will "categorically oppose" the miners' intention to descend on Bucharest if Premier Radu Vasile or Berceanu do not travel to Petrosani by 5 January. The ministry said it "will not tolerate any act posing a threat to order and peace." MS BULGARIAN POLICE FIGHT ANTIQUITIES THEFT. Colonel Kiril Radev, chief of the police department fighting organized crime, (CSBOP), says antiquities worth nearly $1 billion were prevented from being smuggled to the West last year, an RFE/RL correspondent in Sofia reported. A source familiar with the activity of the CSBOP (who requested anonymity) told RFE/RL that since 1985, some 25,000 antiquities have been discovered at the border. The source said that according to estimates, this is only about 30 percent of the antiquities that were intended for smuggling to the West, where they are sold to private collectors and to museums. On 4 January, Hungarian customs officials seized hundreds of ancient coins while searching the car of a Bulgarian seeking to enter Austria, MTI reported. MS END NOTE A REVOLUTION OF FALLING EXPECTATIONS By Paul Goble Buffeted by the difficulties they experienced in 1998, ever fewer people in the post-Soviet states expect their situation to be significantly better in 1999. Indeed, polls taken across the region suggest that many there would now agree with Ukrainian President Leonid Kuchma who said last week that there is no reason to think that 1999 will be any easier for his country than 1998 was. This shift from optimism to pessimism is now so widespread that it constitutes a veritable revolution of falling expectations, one that may have just as many serious political and economic consequences as the more familiar revolution of rising expectations has had elsewhere. Revolutions of rising expectations occur when people begin to expect more owing to improvements in their lives. And such optimistic attitudes sometimes lead them to make demands that neither the economic nor the political system is able to meet. That frequently results in a crisis that can lead either to the transformation of these systems or to the demobilization of the groups making such demands. But in either case, optimism that goes beyond the capacity of the country to cope can create instability. A revolution of falling expectations--such as the one that appears to be starting in some post-Soviet states--can be equally destabilizing but in very different and unexpected ways. Some observers have suggested that declining expectations by leaders and peoples in the post-Soviet states not only represent a new form of realism on the part of both but also give elites in these countries new opportunities to move toward democracy and the free market. Certainly, popular and political recognition of the difficulties involved in the transition from communism is a more realistic stance than the often starry-eyed optimism that characterized the immediate post-communist period and that Western governments in fact promoted. And it is obviously true that leaders have more room to maneuver when they are not under pressure from populations that expect and even demand that tomorrow be better than today. At the same time, there are three compelling reasons why such a view of what has been called "the new realism" in these countries is likely too rosy and why the revolution of falling expectations taking place there may have some potentially frightening consequences. First, populations that believe that tomorrow will not be better than today and may even be worse have few reasons to seek leadership from political or economic elites. Not only does that make it more difficult for such elites to generate the kind of authority they need to make changes for the better, but it also means that these elites may be tempted to defend their own interests by force or at the expense of those of the population as a whole. Second, when senior political leaders come to share the pessimism of the population, they are unlikely to be willing or able to take the risks necessary to help their countries escape from current difficulties. And that unwillingness is likely in many cases to reinforce the pessimism of the population and the other problems such pessimism entails. And third, when both populations and their leaders become so pessimistic, the former are likely to be ever more willing to listen to those who would blame someone for their problems, and the latter are likely to be ever more willing to participate in such scapegoating. That helps explain the rise of anti-Semitism and growing antagonism toward those viewed as outsiders -- such as the North Caucasians in Russia -- in several of these countries. It also helps explain why ever more people and governments in these states are becoming more hostile to the West. Such attitudes and the actions prompted by them will make it more difficult for these countries to move toward democracy and the free market or to integrate into the international community. But while revolutions of rising expectations do not last forever, neither do revolutions of falling expectations. Both can end either when conditions finally begin to improve or, more often, when leaders seek to spread their own optimism to the population of their countries. The role of leaders may be particularly important. To paraphrase U.S. President Franklin Roosevelt, who came to office in the depths of the Great Depression, the only thing to be pessimistic about in this region is the spread of pessimism to so many. 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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