|Absence makes the heart grow fonder. -|
RFE/RL NEWSLINE Vol 3, No. 23, Part II, 3 February 1999
________________________________________________________ RFE/RL NEWSLINE Vol 3, No. 23, Part II, 3 February 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 * TALKS WITH POLISH FARMERS STALLED * HILL SAYS BELGRADE MUST ACCEPT SELF-RULE FOR KOSOVA * ROMANIAN INTERIOR MINISTER ORDERS NEW INQUIRY INTO MINERS' MARCH End Note: MILOSEVIC'S CRACKDOWN ON UNIVERSITIES xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx EAST-CENTRAL EUROPE UKRAINIAN FOREIGN MINISTER PRAISES EU, NATO ENLARGEMENT. Borys Tarasyuk said in London on 2 February that the expansion of NATO and the EU to embrace Eastern European countries--including Ukraine--would create a "double bulwark" of democracy and freedom in Europe, an RFE/RL correspondent reported. Tarasyuk, on a three-day visit to Britain, made his comments at the Royal Institute of International Affairs. He said Kyiv's long-term goal is to attain EU membership and that enlargement of the union is a positive process toward creating a "common European home." Tarasyuk said NATO will continue to play a pivotal role in maintaining security and stability in Europe and that Kyiv regards the alliance's enlargement as an expansion of democracy and stability in Europe. He said there is popular support in Ukraine for closer ties with the West. PB UKRAINIAN PREMIER IN WASHINGTON FOR LOAN TALKS. Valeriy Pustovoytenko held talks with U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright on 2 February to discuss bilateral issues, an RFE/RL correspondent in Washington reported. Albright reportedly told Pustovoytenko that Kyiv must quickly step up economic reforms in order to continue receiving loans from the IMF. She also discussed outstanding disputes in Ukraine involving aggrieved U.S. businesses and warned that failure to resolve them could result in a drastic cut in U.S. assistance to Ukraine. Pustovoytenko met later with IMF Managing Director Michel Camdessus to review the continuation of the next tranche of Ukraine's three-year loan. Pustovoytenko also held talks with World Bank President James Wolfensohn on loan programs for 14 projects. PB IMF DELEGATION ARRIVES IN MINSK. Members of an IMF delegation began arriving in Minsk on 2 February to review the financial situation in Belarus, an RFE/RL correspondent reported. A spokesman for the IMF said the group will monitor the country's progress in initiating measures necessary for Belarus to request an emergency loan from the IMF following losses sustained as a result of reduced exports to Russia. The IMF has refrained from granting Minsk any loans for many years because of the government's lack of interest in reform. In other news, the Belarusian Ministry of Statistics and Analysis reported that consumer prices increased by 17.4 percent in the first three weeks of January. PB GOVERNMENT'S CENTRAL ELECTION COMMISSION SAYS PARALLEL BODY ILLEGAL. Lidiya Yermoshina, the chairman of the government's Central Election Commission, said on 2 February that any such commission formed by the banned 13th Supreme Soviet is illegal, Belapan reported. Yermoshina said that since "this agency was set up illegally, no documents it may publish can be regarded as...having any legal effect." She added that according to the law on presidential elections, no commission can be set up specifically for a presidential election. Viktor Gonchar, a deputy of the 13th Supreme Soviet, which has been banned by the government but is recognized as the legitimate parliament by Western countries, is the head of the parallel commission. PB RUSSIA TO ABOLISH DOUBLE CUSTOMS DUTIES ON ESTONIAN IMPORTS? "Aripaev" on 2 February reported that Russia may soon abolish the double customs duties imposed on imports from Estonia, according to ETA. The daily asserted that Russian Deputy Prime Minister Vadim Gustov wants to scrap those duties in order to boost trade between Estonia and neighboring Russian regions. It also quotes him as saying that the situation of ethnic Russians living in Estonia will improve only when Moscow and Tallinn have "normal economic relations." JC LATVIAN GOVERNMENT ADOPTS REGULATIONS IMPLEMENTING CITIZENSHIP LAW. The cabinet on 2 February adopted regulations required for the implementation of amendments to the citizenship law that went into force on 1 January, BNS and "Diena" reported. The regulations govern the process whereby parents of stateless children born in Latvia after 21 August 1991 can apply for those children to be granted Latvian citizenship. The government also adopted regulations governing the process of dealing with naturalization applications. The Naturalization Department reports that since the removal of the "naturalization windows" last fall, it has received 3,337 applications from citizens wishing to be naturalized, according to "Diena." JC MOSCOW, LUKOIL DENY HALTING OIL SUPPLIES TO LITHUANIA. Russian government spokesman Igor Schegolev, speaking to ITAR-TASS on 2 February, denied that Moscow has ordered any cuts in crude oil deliveries to Lithuania. He added that neither the Russian government nor the Fuel Ministry could take such a move because oil supplies are "strictly stipulated by agreements between [Lithuania's Mazeikiai Nafta] refinery and Russian oil companies." The same day, a LUKoil representative told the news agency that the Lithuanian authorities' accusations against the Russian oil company are "groundless." He said that according to his information, all the Russian oil intended for delivery to Mazeikiai Nafta in the first quarter of this year--a total of 150,000 tons--has been "fully pumped." Earlier, the Lithuanian Foreign Ministry had requested an explanation as to why Russian supplies of crude have been halted (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 2 February 1999). JC BALTIC WAVES RADIO RECEIVES FIRST FUNDING. The founders of the independent radio station Baltic Waves have received some 200,000 litas ($50,000) in funding from the British Westminster Foundation for Democracy, ELTA and BNS reported on 2 February. Based in Lithuania, the station is a non-governmental non-profit institution that intends to broadcast news programs for the Belarusian and Russian minorities in Lithuania. It will be heard on short-wave frequencies in Kaliningrad Oblast, Belarus, and all three Baltic States. JC TALKS WITH POLISH FARMERS STALLED. The Polish government on 3 February appealed to protesting farmers to end their blockades of roads so that negotiations on ending the strike can resume, AP reported. Andrzej Lepper, the leader of the striking farmers, halted negotiations with Labor Minister Longin Komolowski and Agriculture Minister Jacek Janiszewski the previous day when government officials refused to guarantee immunity from prosecution for protesting farmers. Police said some 20 major roads and 60 local ones are still blockaded. Farmers also want their debts written off and higher prices for agricultural products. PB BRITAIN TELLS POLAND TO HALT COAL EXPORTS. The British Department of Trade and Industry asked the Polish government to stop exporting subsidized coal to the U.K., PAP reported on 2 February. British Energy Minister John Battle said the previous day that "unsubsidized mining jobs in the UK must not be threatened by coal exports from the massively indebted industry of another country." A spokesman for the department said coal exports to Britain have increased in recent months because of increased subsidies by the Polish government. PB HAVEL CONCERNED OVER INTELLIGENCE AFFAIR... Czech President Vaclav Havel told a news conference in Prague on 2 February that he is concerned about the government's recent sudden dismissal of the head of the counter-intelligence service (BIS), Karel Vulterin (see RFE/RL Newsline," 28 January 1999). Havel called the sacking "very serious" and "a terrible blow" to the Czech Republic's reputation at a time when the country is about to join NATO. He said that the Czech intelligence services have enjoyed considerable prestige in the West because, as he put it, "they have a position in areas where the secret services of large democracies do not have access." This recognition, Havel says, has resulted in political benefits for the Czech Republic and was a factor in its being invited to join NATO in the first wave of expansion. The circumstances surrounding Vulterin's dismissal have become a topic of heated debate among politicians and in the media. JN/PM ...CRITICIZES POLITICIANS. Havel told the same press conference, which marked the first anniversary of his current term in office, that the former conservative government of Vaclav Klaus is to blame for many problems because of its "ideological fundamentalism." Havel suggested that the current Social Democratic government is more flexible. He nonetheless criticized the government for its handling of relations with the Roman Catholic Church (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 2 February 1999). Havel said he would prefer a majority government to the present minority one, and he suggested that all parties except the Communists should consider playing a role in forming a broader-based cabinet, "Lidove noviny" reported. Elsewhere, the daily "Slovo" wrote that Havel has become too involved in domestic politics "and no longer stands above political parties." PM DZURINDA OUTLINES HOPES FOR CZECH-SLOVAK TIES. Slovak Prime Minister Mikulas Dzurinda told "Mlada fronta Dnes" in Davos on 2 February that he not only expects but counts on support from Prague to promote Slovakia's integration into Euro-Atlantic structures. He regretted that Slovakia has fallen far behind Poland, Hungary, and the Czech Republic in their common quest for membership in the EU and NATO. The prime minister stressed that Slovak membership in the EU would work to the advantage of the Czech Republic. He commented that "Slovak-Czech relations can be as close as our history and way of life are close." Illegal immigration and drug-trafficking are problems the two countries can work on solving together, he said, adding that student exchanges should be increased and the question of dual citizenship solved in the near future. PM KUKAN SAYS SLOVAKIA MUST CATCH UP. Slovak Foreign Minister Eduard Kukan said in Bonn on 2 February that the only reason why his country was not included in the first wave of NATO membership was political. By this, he meant that Western countries did not regard the regime of former Prime Minister Vladimir Meciar sufficiently democratic for membership in Euro-Atlantic structures. Kukan argued that the Slovak army is just as good as its Polish, Czech, or Hungarian counterparts but that Slovakia must now make extra efforts to overcome the negative image abroad bequeathed by Meciar. Kukan stressed that the task of catching up has often proved "frustrating," the "Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung" quoted him as saying. German Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer told Kukan that Slovak citizens' claims against Germany dating from World War II will be considered on an individual rather than collective basis, "Sme" reported. PM PALESTINIAN AUTHORITY MINISTER VISITS HUNGARY. Nabil Ali Saat, minister of planning and cooperation for the Palestinian Authority, met with Hungarian Foreign Minister Janos Martonyi and Economic Minister Attila Chikan on 2 February in Budapest to discuss boosting ties. Martonyi told Hungarian media that Hungary wants to become one of the Palestinian Authority's donor countries. Saat expressed the hope that the two countries will represent a bridge between the EU and the Arab world. He added that Palestinian Authority President Yasser Arafat would like to visit Hungary. MSZ SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE HILL SAYS BELGRADE MUST ACCEPT SELF-RULE FOR KOSOVA. U.S. envoy Chris Hill told the BBC on 3 February that the Serbian authorities "have got to accept the idea that there will be self-rule [in Kosova].... They've tried to rule it directly from Belgrade. It doesn't work. They're going to have to accept [autonomy]." Hill added: "We do not have independence on the table. What this is, is an interim accord.... It talks about a status for...the next three years. It talks about building institutions that are essential to people's lives and it doesn't prejudice what might be done...after the three years.... Frankly speaking we would be giving [the people of Kosova] a lot of autonomy and a lot of ability to run their own lives," which would include broad rights for all ethnic minorities. Observers noted that the ethnic Albanians are unlikely to approve any agreement that does not include the option of independence at some point in the future. PM REFUGEE WAVE IN KOSOVA. Some 45,000 persons fled their homes in the troubled province during January 1999, a spokesman for the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees said in Geneva on 2 February. He added that all together there are 210,000 displaced persons within Kosova, 60,000 refugees from Kosova in neighboring regions including Albania, and 100,000 in Western Europe. The spokesman added that some 20 percent of Kosova's prewar population have become displaced persons or refugees since Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic launched a crackdown in early 1998. PM UCK AGREES TO TALKS? Jakup Krasniqi, who is a spokesman for the Kosova Liberation Army (UCK), said in Prishtina on 2 February that the guerrillas are "certainly ready to go to [peace talks at] Rambouillet" on 6 February, as demanded by the international community (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 2 February 1999). He stressed, however, that only the UCK has the right to speak for the Kosovars because the guerrillas "fight and make sacrifices for Kosova." Elsewhere, Adem Demaci, who is the political spokesman for the UCK, said that he will not attend the talks and advised the UCK general staff to do likewise. He stressed that the talks will amount to "capitulation" because independence will not be on the agenda. Demaci added, however, that this is his personal opinion and that others should go if they wish, "Shekulli" quoted him as saying. PM/FS ALBANIAN FOREIGN MINISTER CALLS ON UCK TO JOIN TALKS. At a meeting in Tirana on 2 February with his Belgian counterpart, Eric Deryche, Paskal Milo called on the UCK to attend talks at Rambouillet. Milo stressed that "all ethnic Albanian [political groups] must take part in the meeting...not only to express their views, but also to show that the Albanians are not against dialogue." Deryche argued that any failure of UCK representatives to attend the talks would be a "fatal mistake." He stressed that Milosevic would exploit such a mistake at the negotiations, "Gazeta Shqiptare" reported. FS WASHINGTON WARNS BELGRADE. State Department spokesman James Rubin on 2 February welcomed Krasniqi's announcement that the UCK will go to Rambouillet. Rubin added that "we are awaiting the decision of the Serb side as to whether to attend these talks. NATO has indicated there will be swift and serious consequences if the Serbs do not make that decision." Elsewhere, CIA chief George Tenet said that the situation on the ground in Kosova is "near collapse." He added that "a NATO force would be an indispensable component in trying to bring some solution" in the troubled province. He cautioned, however, that the task of peacekeeping would be more difficult than in Bosnia. "There's a real threat out there and we'll have to be very careful," he commented. PM MONTENEGRO TO BACK NATO. President Milo Djukanovic said in Podgorica on 2 February that his republic will "provide support" for NATO should it eventually station troops in Kosova, RFE/RL's South Slavic Service reported. He added that Montenegro will not take part in the Rambouillet meetings unless its interests become adversely affected by the course of the discussions. In that case, he added, Montenegro would be ready to "go to New York and claim its seat in the United Nations." Djukanovic has repeatedly said that Montenegro favors broad autonomy for Kosova but cannot accept that it become a third republic equal to Montenegro within the Yugoslav federation. PM CHINA TO BLOCK PEACE-KEEPING MISSION? A Chinese diplomat told the UN Security Council on 2 February that Beijing "cannot be responsible" for any diplomatic consequences if Macedonia goes ahead with plans to establish full relations with Taiwan (see "RFE/RL Balkan Report," 3 February 1999). Observers suggested that Beijing may be planning to block the continuation of the UN peace- keeping mission in Macedonia, known as UNPREDEP, AP reported. PM WIESENTHAL CENTER CALLS FOR PROSECUTION OF NADA SAKIC. Efraim Zuroff of the Simon Wiesenthal Center's Jerusalem office told RFE/RL on 2 February that Belgrade should press charges against Nada Sakic for atrocities she allegedly committed at a Croatian concentration camp during World War II. He criticized a Croatian decision to drop charges against Sakic and free her from prison (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 2 February 1999). PM OSCE, COUNCIL OF EUROPE CAUTION ALBANIA OVER HAJDARI LAW. Legal experts of the OSCE and the Council of Europe issued a joint declaration in Tirana on 2 February warning that a draft law providing for an "independent investigation" into the killing of opposition legislator Azem Hajdari violates Albania's constitution and penal code (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 27 January 1999). The OSCE offered to send a group of foreign prosecutors to Albania to assist current Albanian investigators and monitor their work, "Shekulli" reported on 3 February. Democratic Party experts prepared the draft in January following an earlier agreement between Prime Minister Pandeli Majko and Democratic Party leader Sali Berisha. Meanwhile, Berisha said that the government must stop what he called "violations of democracy..., political killings, and cooperation with organized crime" before the Democrats agree to end their boycott of the parliament. FS ROMANIAN INTERIOR MINISTER ORDERS NEW INQUIRY INTO MINERS' MARCH. At his first press conference since taking office, newly appointed Interior Minister Constantin Dudu Ionescu said he has ordered another inquiry to determine who was responsible for the failure of police to halt the coal miners' march last month. According to Romanian Radio, Ionescu described a preliminary report on the events as "insufficient." He also said that there is no evidence so far to substantiate claims that the five-day march constituted an "attempted coup." Ionescu replaced Gavril Dejeu, who resigned over his failure to prevent the march from taking place. DI MOLDOVAN PRESIDENT ASKS FOR MORE POWERS TO RESOLVE GOVERNMENT CRISIS. Addressing the opening of the parliament's spring session, Petru Lucinschi on 3 February asked that his prerogatives be extended to enable him to resolve the current government crisis, an RFE/RL correspondent in Chisinau reported. Lucinschi criticized the idea of another coalition cabinet based on the loose Alliance for Democracy and Reforms (ADR). The same day, the parliament unanimously accepted the resignation of Premier Ion Ciubuc and his government, and the ADR failed to agree on designating Nicolae Andronic to take over from Ciubuc. Andronic's candidature was proposed by the Democratic Convention of Moldova (CDM), despite the opposition of one of its members, the pro-Romanian Christian Democratic Popular Front. CDM co-chairman Mircea Snegur responded by announcing his resignation as ADR leader. DI BULGARIAN MINORITIES CALL FOR RATIFICATION OF FRAMEWORK CONVENTION. Some 40 NGOs have addressed an appeal to Bulgarian parliament speaker Yordan Sokolov calling for the National Assembly to ratify the Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities, Groong reported on 2 February. The appeal was issued on 28 January and signed by representatives of Bulgaria's Roma, Armenian, Macedonian, and Wallachian minorities as well as religious organizations and civic NGOs. LF END NOTE MILOSEVIC'S CRACKDOWN ON UNIVERSITIES by Andrej Krickovic In the past few months, Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic and his political allies have organized a crackdown on the Serbian university system. That move has gone hand in hand with Milosevic's campaign against the independent media, although it has received far less attention in the international press. Both moves are related to Milosevic's Kosova policy and are intended to stifle even the smallest voice of dissent in the country. While the international community is shifting its policy toward removing Milosevic, and while he again faces the threat of NATO air strikes, his grip on power in Serbia may be stronger than ever. The crackdown on the Serbian university system began in June with the introduction of a new university law giving the minister of education the power to appoint and dismiss deans and professors as well as to dictate faculty policy. The new law was pushed through Serbia's legislature by the so called ruling coalition of "national reconciliation," which brings together Slobodan Milosevic's Serbian Socialist Party (SPS), the ultra leftist Yugoslav United Left (JUL) of Milosevic's wife, Mirjana Markovic, and the ultra nationalist Serbian Radical Party (SRS) of Vojislav Seselj The law was ostensibly designed to de-politicize academic life at the universities. But in reality, it has stripped the university system of any autonomy it once had. Professors who refuse to take a loyalty oath, which is provided for in the new law, or who belonged to opposition political parties have been fired and replaced by unqualified SPS, SRS, and JUL loyalists. The curriculum has been changed to conform with the ruling parties' anti-Western world view. Russian is again the chief language at the linguistics faculty, while Croatian and Bosnian authors have been dropped from the teaching timetables of the literature faculty. Shakespeare has been relegated to the Germanic languages faculty, and Albanian has been classified a Romance language. Initial resistance to the new law has met with intensified repression. Private security guards have been hired by the administration to terrorize recalcitrant students and faculty members. Student protesters have been arrested, and Boris Karajic, the leader of the student resistance organization movement Otpor [Resistance], was badly beaten by unidentified assailants last month after giving testimony to the Helsinki Committee. In the past, university students and professors have been in the vanguard of opposition to Milosevic's regime. During the winter of 1996-1997, students at Belgrade University led the protest movement that drew hundreds of thousands of people to the streets of Belgrade each day and threatened to shake the very foundations of the Milosevic regime. As a result of those protests, Milosevic was forced to hand over power in Serbia's largest cities to the opposition. The crackdown on the university system has been accompanied the draconian restrictions on the free press. Both intensified in the wake of the Milosevic- Holbrooke agreement on Kosova in October 1998, which many saw as a defeat for Serbian interests and which may have cost Milosevic his most ardent nationalist supporters. The economy is also on the verge of collapse, and a showdown with separatist politicians in Montenegro looms. Faced with increasing international pressure and with the complete economic, political, and moral bankruptcy of his Kosova policy, Milosevic is determined to ensure that there is no repeat of the 1996-1997 events. Professors are organizing an Alternative Academic Education Network (AAOM) as an independent alternative to the deteriorating state higher education institutions. Otpor has also intensified its activities in recent weeks; and a new wave of protest actions is planned for this month. So far such protests have failed to draw the kind of support that they did several years ago. Most faculties have accepted the new law, while resistance has been shown mainly by the Philosophy and Electrical Engineering faculties in Belgrade. Throughout the country there is a general apathy toward politics; moreover, the organized opposition is weak and regarded by many as opportunistic. Vuk Draskovic of the Serbian Renewal Movement (SPO), a longtime Milosevic opponent and one of the leaders of the 1996-1997 protests, has recently formed a coalition with Milosevic's SPS in the federal parliament and joined the federal government. The handful of liberal parties, which are not ready to cut deals with Milosevic, remain divided and small. As fighting in Kosova intensifies and as grisly incidents such as the massacre at Recak come to light, the international community has begun to single out the Milosevic regime as the main obstacle to peace and stability in the region. Working toward the overthrow of that regime may be on the new agenda of at least some in the international community. But with an impotent opposition, an apathetic and disillusioned population, and growing pressure on the most die-hard opponents of the regime--namely the universities and the independent press--the Milosevic regime may be able to withstand even the most intense pressure the international community can muster. The author is a freelance journalist based in Zagreb. xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx Copyright (c) 1999 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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