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RFE/RL NEWSLINE Vol 3, No. 76, Part II, 20 April 1999
________________________________________________________ RFE/RL NEWSLINE Vol 3, No. 76, Part II, 20 April 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 * EBRD POSTPONES DECISION ON NUCLEAR INDUSTRY LOANS TO UKRAINE * VEDRINE: BELGRADE'S PERMISSION NOT NEEDED FOR KOSOVA FORCE * HAS YUGOSLAV ARMY STARTED ETHNIC CLEANSING IN MONTENEGRO? xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx EAST-CENTRAL EUROPE EBRD POSTPONES DECISION ON NUCLEAR INDUSTRY LOANS TO UKRAINE. The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) has postponed a decision on whether to finance the completion of two nuclear reactors in Ukraine to compensate Kyiv for energy loss following the expected closure of the Chornobyl power plant. EBRD Deputy Chairman Charles Frank said that while the cost of finishing the two reactors, located in Khmelnytskyy and Rivne, meets bank criteria, Ukraine must also meet international nuclear safety requirements and reduce barter payments for electricity before receiving an EBRD loan, an RFE/RL correspondent in London reported. Frank added that other criteria include the "real privatization" of energy distribution firms and the availability of financing from other institutions. JM PUSTOVOYTENKO PREDICTS FINANCIAL STABILITY FOR 1999. Ukrainian Premier Valeriy Pustovoytenko told journalists on 19 April that the hryvnya exchange rate will remain stable at some 4 hryvni to $1 this year, the "Eastern Economist Daily" reported. Pustovoytenko confirmed that Ukraine will meet its 1999 macroeconomic targets. He added that inflation in the first quarter of 1999 stood at 3.5 percent, while the budget deficit and credit rates were also kept within projected limits. However, Pustovoytenko also noted that from January to March, the state budget was able to collect only 15.9 percent of planned revenues. JM UKRAINE, SWITZERLAND TO COOPERATE IN COMBATING CRIME. Ukrainian Prosecutor-General Mykhaylo Potebenko and his Swiss counterpart, Carla del Ponte, met in Kyiv on 19 April to sign an agreement on fighting organized crime and money-laundering. "We have prepared this agreement in a fairly short time, thanks to the joint investigation we're already conducting," Del Ponte commented, referring to the Ukrainian-Swiss probe into former Premier Pavlo Lazarenko. "Switzerland has a developed banking system which certain scoundrels from Ukraine use to hide their illegal revenues," AP quoted Potebenko as saying. JM BELARUSIAN GAYS HOLD FIRST EVER PUBLIC PROTEST. One dozen gay and lesbian rights activists demonstrated in Minsk on 19 April to protest the authorities' refusal to register their organization, the Belarusian League of Sexual Minorities, RFE/RL's Belarusian Service reported. This was the first ever public demonstration by sexual minorities in Belarus. Gay movement leader Edvard Tarletski told RFE/RL that the Belarusian authorities are guided by Soviet stereotypes in their unwillingness to recognize the existence of a "nontraditional sexual orientation" in Belarus. Tarletski added that the demonstrators also wanted to protest a recent seminar organized by the Belarusian Exarchate of the Russian Orthodox Church at which some participants called homosexuals "servants of the devil" and proposed punishing them by electrocution. JM EBRD GRANTS ESTONIA LOANS FOR AIRPORT, RAIL DEVELOPMENT. The EBRD has granted Estonia a $7 million loan aimed at helping Tallinn Airport modernize its passenger terminal. The 14-year-loan, guaranteed by the Estonian government, complements a $9 million loan from the European Investment Bank and a grant of some $2 million from the EU's PHARE program. Another EBRD loan worth nearly $15 million is aimed at creating a more efficient railway network. A similar loan was granted by the European Investment Bank for track renewal, while Estonia has already received a $5 million grant from the PHARE program for rail projects, an RFE/RL correspondent in London reported on 19 April. JC ESTONIA'S RUSSIAN PARTIES TO FORM ELECTORAL ALLIANCE. In an interview published in the 20 April issue of "Postimees," Sergei Ivanov of the United People's Party spoke about the intention of the country's Russian parties to form an alliance for this fall's local elections, ETA reported. According to Ivanov, the People's Trust alliance will first set up a branch in Tallinn, followed by others throughout the country. A 17 April meeting in the capital was attended by representatives of a dozen or so political parties and organizations. The Russian Party in Estonia, which failed to agree with the United People's Party about running on a joint list for last month's parliamentary elections, was not among the dozen. Whereas only citizens can vote in Estonia's parliamentary elections, all permanent residents can take part in elections to local government agencies. According to "Postimees," some 240,000 non-citizens are eligible to vote in the fall ballot. JC LATVIAN PREMIER CALLS FOR CHANGES TO DRAFT LANGUAGE LAW. Vilis Kristopans has called for changes to the bill on the state language, whose third and final reading is scheduled for next month, LETA and BNS reported on 19 April. Stressing that the legislation must be compatible with Latvia's international obligations, the premier addressed the provision regulating the use of the state language in the private sector. According to Kristopans, state interference in the private sector is permissible only if the interests of society, such as the national security, territorial integrity, or public safety, demand it. He added that the regulations on language use must not affect free enterprise and argued that stricter provisions should apply only to those companies in which the state has at least a 50 percent stake. Kristopans's proposals come on the heels of a letter from OSCE High Commissioner on National Minorities Max van der Stoel ("RFE/RL Newsline," 19 April 1999). JC LITHUANIAN PRESIDENT EXPRESSES NO CONFIDENCE IN PREMIER. In a speech broadcast simultaneously by all six Lithuanian television stations on 19 April, President Valdas Adamkus announced that he has no confidence in Prime Minister Gediminas Vagnorius and urged the ruling parliamentary majority to debate forming a new government, ELTA reported. Strongly criticizing Vagnorius's approach toward government, Adamkus suggested that the premier is returning the country to Soviet-style rule. He reproached Vagnorius for failing to work in a constructive manner and implement the government program. And he also accused him of seeking to limit the authority and prerogatives of the head of state. Earlier the same day, the government issued a statement calling Adamkus a "usurper," as evidenced by his "aspiration to assume part of the government's duties and functions," BNS reported. The statement noted that the cabinet is currently holding discussions on what powers could be handed to the president, along with the concomitant responsibilities. JC GAZPROM HALVES SUPPLIES TO LITHUANIA. According to an official of the gas company Lietuvos Dujos, Russia's Gazprom has cut Lithuania's natural gas supplies by 50 percent owing to unpaid bills, an RFE/RL correspondent in Vilnius reported. The outstanding debts were due to have been paid on 1 April. Lietuvos Dujos lost some $5 million last year and expects to continue to lose money in 1999. JC POLAND ACCEPTS KOSOVA REFUGEES, REJECTS CRITICISM. Poland took in some 380 Kosova refugees on 19 April in a continued effort to fulfill its pledge to receive 1,000 Kosovars. Defense Minister Janusz Onyszkiewicz rejected recent criticism by a U.S. newspaper and a U.S. congressman that NATO's new members--Poland, the Czech Republic, and Hungary--do not show involvement in NATO's military campaign in Yugoslavia. Onyszkiewicz said Warsaw has offered to open Polish airports for NATO refueling planes and set aside its remaining budget reserves for Kosova-related spending. Onyszkiewicz added that Poland is unlikely to be able to participate in a possible NATO ground campaign. "I am afraid [the cost of our participation] would surpass our financial abilities," Reuters quoted Onyszkiewicz as saying. JM CZECH GOVERNMENT APPROVES NATO REQUEST TO USE AIRPORTS. The government said on 19 April that NATO planes are free to use the country's airports during its bombing campaign of Yugoslavia, CTK reported. The decision still must gain parliamentary approval. A spokeswoman for the country's airport authority said a NATO delegation visited Prague's Ruzyne airport the same day and is to visit Ostrava's Mosnov airport on 20 April. She said these two civilian airports must be used because Czech military airfields are too small to accommodate NATO refueling aircraft. PB SLOVAK FOREIGN MINISTER VISITING CZECH REPUBLIC. Eduard Kukan praised Czech support for Bratislava's efforts to join NATO during a one-day visit to Prague on 19 April, CTK reported. Kukan said after talks with Czech President Vaclav Havel that he hopes NATO participants at the upcoming summit in Washington will "evaluate objectively the new political reality that has emerged in Slovakia." Kukan also held talks with Defense Minister Vladimir Vetchy and Foreign Minister Jan Kavan. In other news, Vladimir Zelezny, the head of the Czech Republic's leading television station, TV NOVA, has been fired by shareholders who accused him of abusing his position. PB DZURINDA IN VIENNA. Slovak Prime Minister Mikulas Dzurinda held talks in Vienna on 19 April with Austrian President Thomas Klestil, TASR reported. Their talks focused on bilateral relations, the crisis in Kosova, and the sending of humanitarian aid to the refugees there. Klestil said he is "pleased" with the progress made by the Slovak government in preparing the country for integration into Western European structures. Dzurinda said Bratislava will speed up privatization and will have to amend the privatization law so that it does not violate various provisions of the constitution. PB HUNGARY'S SOCIALISTS OPPOSE USE OF GROUND FORCES IN KOSOVO. The opposition Hungarian Socialist Party (MSZP) supports the government's NATO commitments but opposes the participation of Hungarian troops in any ground operation against Yugoslavia, party chairman Laszlo Kovacs told Hungarian media on 19 April. The MSZP also insists that no troops be sent into Yugoslavia from Hungarian territory, he said. Kovacs accused the government of failing to respond to concerns expressed by the public and said that Prime Minister Viktor Orban's recent statement supporting an increase in NATO attacks endangered the situation of ethnic Hungarians in Vojvodina. In other news, the Defense Ministry has received reports that support for Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic has grown among ethnic Hungarians in Vojvodina since last week's bombing in Subotica, "Magyar Hirlap" reported. MSZ SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE VEDRINE: BELGRADE'S PERMISSION NOT NEEDED FOR KOSOVA FORCE. French Foreign Minister Hubert Vedrine told the "International Herald Tribune" of 20 April that the "UN Security Council has powers to impose solutions, even against the will of a sovereign state." He added that the international community will deploy ground forces to Kosova only within the context of a political settlement. Vedrine noted that "our general goal, shared by all the Western countries, including the Russians...is to see ex-Yugoslavia come into line with European norms and become democratic. That means a change of regime in Serbia.... Someday, the people of Serbia will have a place in Europe, but right now they have developed a mood of paranoia, which existed before the [NATO] airstrikes but has worsened," the foreign minister concluded. PM COOK: SERBIA TO LOSE CONTROL OF KOSOVA. British Foreign Secretary Robin Cook said in London on 19 April that "the sheer scale of the brutality directed from Belgrade against the Kosovar Albanians" makes an international administration of Kosova necessary once the Serbian forces leave. Cook suggested that the UN or EU could take over the administration of Kosova from the Serbian authorities, dpa reported. He added that he is making information on "multiple atrocities" and their perpetrators available to the Hague-based war crimes tribunal. PM HAS YUGOSLAV ARMY STARTED ETHNIC CLEANSING IN MONTENEGRO? Deputy Prime Minister Dragisa Burzan said on 19 April that the government is investigating reports that the previous night members of the Yugoslav army forced ethnic Albanians to abandon between one and three villages near Rozaje, along the border with Kosova. Burzan told Reuters that the government does not want "people to move out of the area," which is home to many ethnic Albanians and Muslims. More than 400 people from three villages told AP in Rozaje that Yugoslav soldiers expelled them from their villages amid great physical and verbal abuse. Also in that area, unidentified gunmen recently killed six Kosovar refugees, including a 70- year-old woman and a 13-year-old boy, Reuters added. And in Podgorica, Prime Minister Filip Vujanovic warned the army not to arrest Deputy Prime Minister Novak Kilibarda (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 19 April 1999). PM YUGOSLAVIA CLOSES ALBANIAN BORDER. The renewed influx of almost 40,000 refugees into northern Albania over the weekend ended when Serbian forces suddenly closed the border on 19 April (see "RFE/RL Newsline" 19 April 1999). Only 30 or so refugees arrived in Kukes that day, VOA's Albanian Service reported. Nearby, Serbian soldiers and Albanian border guards exchanged gunfire on 19 April at Dobruna, Reuters added. FS WHY HAVE YUGOSLAV AUTHORITIES CLOSED THE BORDERS? Kris Janowski, who is spokesman for the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), said in Geneva on 19 April that the Yugoslav authorities have closed most, if not all, of the border crossings out of Kosova and forced the displaced persons back into the interior of the province. He added that "it all sounds fairly ominous and we don't know to what end they're doing it." Janowski stressed that the refugees "are being forcibly prevented from leaving." In Brussels, a NATO spokesman said that up to 250,000 displaced persons may be on the road inside Kosova, the "Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung" reported. PM ALBANIA MOVES REFUGEES OUT OF BORDER REGION. Relief workers in Kukes have speeded up the transfer of refugees to other parts of Albania to the rate of 10,000 a day, Reuters reported on 19 April. More than 130,000 refugees remained in generally squalid conditions in the northern town. Officials in Tirana said they have drawn up plans for a military helicopter airlift of refugees to central and southern Albania. Many refugees have resisted moving out of Kukes in the hope of returning to Kosova soon. A UNHCR official there noted that an estimated total of 15,000 families fled in tractor-drawn carts. He added that "these people are especially attached to their tractors [and] will never leave them behind." He added that the UNHCR plans to create a special camp for them near Kukes. FS UCK CAPTURES RUSSIAN IN KOSOVA. Kosova Liberation Army (UCK) fighters captured three Yugoslav army soldiers, including one Russian citizen, inside Kosova last week, an UCK spokesman told AP in Tirana on 19 April. He said that the UCK plans to turn them over to NATO officials. The three apparently belonged to the same unit as another Yugoslav army officer, whom the rebels captured last week near Junik. The UCK turned the officer over to the Albanian authorities, which transferred him to U.S. custody. U.S. officials have declared the officer a prisoner of war. Yugoslav forces continue to hold three U.S. soldiers whom they captured on 31 March near the Yugoslav-Macedonian border. FS KOSOVAR AIDE: MILOSEVIC USED RUGOVA. Adnan Merovci, who is Kosovar leader Ibrahim Rugova's chief of protocol, said in Skopje on 19 April that Rugova held his two recent meetings with Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic under duress (see "RFE/RL Balkan Report," 14 April 1999). Merovci, whom the Yugoslav authorities recently allowed to leave Prishtina for Macedonia, stressed that Rugova believes that air strikes against Serbian targets should end only after Serbian forces leave Kosova and the refugees return home under international protection, RFE/RL's South Slavic Service reported. PM U.S. SEEKING OIL CUT-OFF FOR YUGOSLAVIA. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright has recently appealed to foreign ministers of several unnamed European governments to support a "cut-off" of shipments of refined oil to Yugoslavia in order to deny oil to the army, AP reported on 20 April. She noted in Washington the previous day that Croatia has already closed its pipeline to Yugoslavia. A State Department spokesman said that Albright hopes that ships en route to Yugoslav ports could be stopped and searched at sea, but the spokesman did not use the term "blockade." Elsewhere, U.S. diplomats called on foreign governments not to allow the shipment of oil to Yugoslavia. Meanwhile in Paris, unnamed French officials said they doubt whether an oil cut-off is possible under international law without a declaration of war. They added that the EU and countries bordering Yugoslavia should "find a formula" to regulate the flow of oil supplies to Yugoslavia. PM CLINTON WANTS $6 BILLION FOR KOSOVA. President Bill Clinton asked Congress on 19 April to approve $6 billion to support the U.S. military involvement in the Kosova crisis and to increase aid to Kosovar refugees. He stressed that "there are literally lives hanging in the balance." PM MACEDONIA ON VERGE OF 'CATASTROPHE.' Foreign Minister Aleksandar Dimitrov said in Vienna on 19 April that "our economy, society, and state are on the brink of a catastrophe," "Die Presse" reported. He noted that Macedonia has already admitted 140,000 refugees even though it is willing to allow only 20,000 to stay. He warned that the massive influx of Kosovars threatens to upset the balance between the Slavic Macedonian majority and the 23 percent ethnic Albanian minority. Dimitrov argued that Macedonian authorities have been admitting refugees only slowly because the authorities must be certain that the people in question, most of whom have no documents, are really refugees. PM U.S. SUSPENDS PROGRAM FOR BOSNIAN FEDERAL ARMY. Robert Gelbard, who is U.S. special envoy for the former Yugoslavia, said in Zagreb on 19 April that he is suspending the $100 million "train-and-equip" program for the mainly Croatian and Muslim Bosnian federal army in the wake of recent "antagonistic...stupid and dangerous speeches" by top Croatian generals. Gelbard stressed that Croatian General Ljubo Cesic-Rojs and Herzegovinian Croatian General Stanko Sopta made "intolerable" remarks regarding Muslims at a Herzegovinian Croatian military ceremony. Gelbard also noted that the Muslim and Herzegovinian Croatian military leaderships have failed to truly integrate their forces, "Oslobodjenje" reported. He also stressed that Croatia must respect the Dayton agreement and no longer allow ethnic Croats in Bosnia-Herzegovina to vote in Croatian elections, "Jutarnji list" noted. PM ROMANIA TO CONSIDER GRANTING NATO AIR SPACE. Romanian political and military leaders are to meet on 20 April to discuss a NATO request for unlimited use of the country's air space, Reuters reported. A spokesman for President Emil Constantinescu said he will chair a meeting of the country's Supreme Defense Council. The four-party coalition government will also consider the request, which will require parliamentary approval. The leftist opposition Party of Social Democracy said in a statement that it "does not want Romania to be dragged into a dangerous military adventure" and asked that a joint session of the parliament be convened to discuss NATO's request. PB ROMANIAN WORKERS PROTEST POOR CONDITIONS. Thousands of Romanian workers went on a two-hour nationwide strike on 19 April to protest declining living standards, AP reported. Romania's four major trade unions organized the strike, which paralyzed public transportation in several cities and towns. The unions warned that an all- out strike will be called for 26 April if demands for better social programs and lower prices for food are not met. The government has been negotiating with the unions and said some of the problems may be resolved if Bucharest receives a $450 million loan from the IMF. Christian Popa, the vice governor of the National Bank of Romania, said in London that the government expects the loan to be signed by 21 April at the latest, an RFE/RL correspondent in the British capital reported. PB NEW ROMANIAN POLITICAL PARTY ESTABLISHED. Ion Diaconescu said on 19 April that the formation two days earlier of the Christian Democratic National Alliance (ANCD), whose members broke away from his National Peasant Party Christian Democratic (PNTCD), comes at an inopportune time for the country. Diaconescu said the new party has been formed for personal reasons and that its aim is to damage the PNTCD, Rompres reported. Former Premier Victor Ciorbea is the president of the ANCD. He previously served as vice president of the PNTCD. PB BULGARIAN LEADERS AGREE TO NATO REQUEST FOR AIR CORRIDOR. President Petar Stoyanov, Premier Ivan Kostov, and parliamentary speaker Yordan Sokolov said on 19 April that they will ask the parliament to approve a NATO request to use Bulgarian air space for strikes against Yugoslavia, Reuters reported. After meeting with legislative leaders, Kostov said the government will seek a "positive response" from the parliament. He said that refusing to grant the air corridor to the alliance would mean prolonging the crisis and excluding Bulgaria from European integration. Kostov is to go to Brussels to explain the conditions and to ask for security guarantees. Some 50,000 ethnic Bulgarians live in Yugoslavia, and opinion polls in Bulgaria show that a majority of the people are against NATO air strikes. PB BULGARIAN GOVERNMENT APPROVES MILITARY AID TO MACEDONIA. Bulgarian Defense Minister Georgi Ananiev said in Sofia that the government has approved an agreement granting military aid to Macedonia, BTA reported on 18 April. The first shipment of aid, to be delivered one month after the agreement is approved by the Bulgarian parliament, would include 94 T-55 tanks, 108 M-30 howitzers, and ammunition worth $3.5 million. PB xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx Copyright (c) 1999 RFE/RL, Inc. 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