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RFE/RL NEWSLINE Vol 3, No. 89, Part II, 7 May 1999
________________________________________________________ RFE/RL NEWSLINE Vol 3, No. 89, Part II, 7 May 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 * KLAUS REJECTS EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT'S CRITICISM OF TEMELIN * RUGOVA LEAVES KEY QUESTIONS UNANSWERED * NATO TO STRENGTHEN FORCES IN BALKANS xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx EAST-CENTRAL EUROPE LUKASHENKA SEES NO NEED FOR RUSSIAN MILITARY BASES IN BELARUS. Belarusian President Alyaksandr on 6 May said he sees no need to build Russian military bases in Belarus since Belarus is a friendly country and its army will also defend Russia if need be, ITAR-TASS and Interfax reported. Lukashenka noted that "the latest events in the world prove the need for modernizing [our] national armed forces", adding that Russia's contribution to this modernization would be desirable. He complained that Russia does not pay for weapons imported from Belarus but it remembers "when we build up a debt for their natural gas and then there is a hue and cry throughout the media," Interfax quoted him as saying. JM KUCHMA REAFFIRMS TIES WITH RUSSIA. "There is not and will never be any severance with Russia, which is a traditional partner of Ukraine," President Leonid Kuchma said in Sevastopol on 6 May at a ceremony dedicated to Victory Day and the 55th anniversary of Sevastopol's liberation from the Nazis, UNIAN reported. Russian Defense Minister Igor Sergeev delivered Russian President Boris Yeltsin's message to the people of Sevastopol, describing the city as a bonding link between Ukraine and Russia. JM CRIMEAN TATARS MARCH TO DEMAND MORE RIGHTS. Crimean Tatars on 6 May began a march on the Crimean capital, Sevastopol, to demand more rights for their ethnic minority, AP reported. Some 170 people set out from Kerch to Simferopol to cover the 190-kilometer route to the capital. Tatars from six other towns are expected to leave for Sevastopol on foot over the next several days and to convene there on 18 May to mark the 55th anniversary of the deportation of Crimean Tatars to Central Asia. After the demonstration, the Tatars are planning to set up a tent camp in front of Crimea's government and parliament headquarters and begin negotiations with the authorities. JM UKRAINIAN LAWMAKERS ACCUSE CENTRAL BANK OF MISUSING RESERVES. Viktor Suslov, head of a parliamentary investigative commission, said on 6 May that his commission has examined the National Bank's activities since last October and found that currency reserves were misused. According to the findings, Ukraine's Central Bank has failed to return some $85 million from a Cypriot bank account. The commission also alleges that the bank illegally transferred part of its reserves to Russia's National Reserves Bank. "If I were [National Bank Chairman] Viktor Yushchenko, I would resign," AP quoted Suslov as saying. Yushchenko has denied the allegations. JM MERI RECOMMENDS REORGANIZATION OF OSCE MISSION. Writing in "Postimees" on 6 May, Estonian President Lennart Meri argued that the OSCE mission in Estonia has achieved its aims and should be reorganized into an education center that would "continue to help Estonia overcome the burden of its Soviet past." The president proposed that such a center could help educate the young "in preventing conflicts." At the same time, he stressed that this is not an attack on the OSCE as an institution and that his proposal is up for discussion. OSCE High Commissioner on National Minorities Max van der Stoel is to meet with Meri in Tallinn on 7 May to discuss the OSCE's concerns over language law provisions requiring elected officials to be proficient in Estonian, an RFE/RL correspondent in Tallinn reported. JC IMF AGAIN WARNS CUTS IN ESTONIAN BUDGET INSUFFICIENT. One day after the Estonian government approved a negative supplementary budget reducing the volume of the budget by 1.03 billion kroons (some $70 million), the IMF repeated its position that cuts of at least 2 billion kroons are needed (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 4 and 5 May 1999), ETA reported on 6 May. A representative of the fund urged the government to take resolute measures to curb public sector spending in Estonia, which, he said, has increased too quickly. He noted that such spending will account for 42 percent of GDP this year even after the planned 1.3 billion kroons cut, according to BNS. The parliament is expected to vote on the supplementary budget next month. JC WORLD BANK GRANTS LATVIA LOAN FOR EDUCATION PROJECTS. The World Bank has approved a loan to Latvia for education projects worth $31 million, the bulk of which will help renovate school buildings, an RFE/RL correspondent in Washington reported on 6 May. It will be repayable over 15 years and carries a three-year grace period. The bank noted that it has committed $300 million to Latvia since the country joined the institution in 1992. JC SLOVENIAN PRESIDENT IN VILNIUS. On the second day of his official visit to Lithuania, Milan Kucan met with parliamentary chairman Vytautas Landsbergis, with whom he reportedly exchanged views on the role of post-Soviet countries in contemporary Europe, ELTA reported on 6 May. The previous day, Kucan held talks with Lithuanian President Valdas Adamkus. Emerging from that meeting, Adamkus told journalists that he had been given assurances that Slovenia will support Lithuania's bid to join the EU and NATO. Slovenia is one of the "fast- track" candidates for EU membership. JC TWO POLISH OFFICERS ARRESTED OVER SUSPECTED ESPIONAGE. Two Polish retired colonels have been arrested on charges of spying for the USSR and Russia, Polish media reported on 6 May. Commenting on a spy investigation launched last week (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 5 May 1999), Premier Jerzy Buzek said three officers are involved: two retired ones and another who is still working but holds no important post. "Rzeczpospolita" reported that the detained officers worked in regional branches of Poland's military intelligence service. The "Zycie" daily, which first publicized the spy case, said that after uncovering the spies, the Polish intelligence service moved them to less important posts outside Warsaw and kept them under observation to see how Russian intelligence operates. However, when Poland joined NATO on 12 March, the arrests were unavoidable. "Zycie" added that the three spied for "ideological reasons." JM POLISH PARLIAMENT REJECTS BAN ON ADVERTISING FOR CHILDREN. By a vote of 221 to 177 with seven abstentions, the parliament on 7 May failed to override the presidential veto on a bill banning radio and television advertising targeted at children, Reuters reported. The vote divided the ruling coalition, with the Freedom Union (UW) teaming up with the opposition Democratic Left Alliance to reject the ban. Deputies from the Solidarity Electoral Action, the UW's coalition partner, had propose the prohibition. JM FIRST LUSTRATION STATEMENT CONTESTED IN POLAND. Prosecutor Boguslaw Nizienski has sent to the Lustration Court the first application to question an official suspected of having made a false statement on collaboration with the Communist-era secret services, Polish Radio reported on 6 May. The identity of the official has not been disclosed. Under Poland's lustration law, anyone found guilty of lying in his/her lustration statement will be barred from holding public office for 10 years. JM KLAUS REJECTS EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT'S CRITICISM OF TEMELIN. Czech parliamentary speaker Vaclav Klaus said on 6 May that the European Parliament's criticism of the unfinished Temelin nuclear power plant is unacceptable, CTK reported. Klaus said Temelin is "certainly much more modern than the overwhelming majority of nuclear power plants now used in [Western] Europe." He said it is an "incredible, unprecedented thing" for the parliament to "meddle" in the affair. The parliament approved a resolution earlier the same day that called for alternatives to completing the plant, which is a hybrid of Soviet and Western designs. Josef Kreuter, the Czech EU ambassador, said the resolution was based on "a number of half-truths and downright untruths." He added that he had never heard "such a load of lies and deliberate misinterpretations." PB CZECHS LOSING CONFIDENCE IN GOVERNMENT'S ECONOMIC POLICIES. A poll released on 6 May showed that 59 percent of respondents no longer believe that the ruling Social Democrats can solve the country's economic problems, CTK reported. Only 14 percent said they still have faith in the government's economic policies while the rest were undecided. Some 55 percent of those polled said their standard of living is worse today than it was one year ago. The poll was taken by the STEM polling agency. PB SLOVAK PREMIER WANTS EU MEMBERSHIP BY 2006 AT LATEST. Mikulas Dzurinda said that he expects Slovakia to enter the EU between 2003 and 2006, CTK reported on 6 May. In an interview with the French economic daily "La Tribune," Dzurinda also said he believes Slovakia will be admitted to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development late this year or early in 2000. He said Slovakia is making the effort "to get to the level of its neighbors soon." In other news, the first group of ethnic Albanian refugees from Kosova arrived in Bratislava on 5 May. About 90 people, mostly women and children, will be moved to a humanitarian center in Gabcikovo, about 50 kilometers from the capital. PB SLOVAKIA, CZECH REPUBLIC WANT TO MAINTAIN CUSTOMS UNION. Czech Deputy Foreign Minister Pavel Telicka said in Bratislava on 6 May that he expects "long and intensive" talks with the EU on the fate of the Czech-Slovak customs union, CTK reported. Telicka, the Czech Republic's chief negotiator with the EU, said Prague wants to maintain the customs union with Bratislava while "fully integrating into the EU's internal market, even if the two countries enter the EU at different times." Telicka held talks in Bratislava with his Slovak counterpart, Jan Figel. The two discussed the upcoming Visegrad summit, scheduled for 14 May, and agreed that the grouping should evolve into a group similar to the Benelux. PB COUNCIL OF EUROPE'S ANNIVERSARY MARKED IN BUDAPEST. Ceremonies marking the 50th anniversary of the Council of Europe began in Budapest on 6 May, with representatives from 41 countries taking part, AP reported. Hungarian Premier Viktor Orban gave the opening address to delegates at the parliament building. Lord Russell-Johnston, president of the Parliamentary Assembly, said "the tragedy of Kosova should serve as a painful reminder of what happens when values are forgotten and nationalist hatred allowed to dominate." The council was the idea of British Premier Winston Churchill, who envisaged that the "free nations of Europe could assert their shared values of human rights, democracy, and the rule of law." Kosova is expected to be the main topic during the two-day meeting. PB SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE RUGOVA LEAVES KEY QUESTIONS UNANSWERED. Kosovar leader Ibrahim Rugova spoke to the press in Rome for three minutes on 6 May (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 6 May 1999). Standing next to Prime Minister Massimo D'Alema and Foreign Minister Lamberto Dini, Rugova said that international peace-keeping forces, including NATO and others, must be deployed in Kosova. Moreover, he demanded the immediate withdrawal of Serbian forces from Kosova. Rugova avoided saying whether he supports the NATO bombing campaign or whether meetings he had with Serb leaders during his five weeks of house arrest were held under duress, AP noted. ANSA quoted him as saying: "I am for peace and non-violent resistance.... The entire Kosova population, including the Kosova Liberation Army (UCK), is in favor of a peaceful, political solution." He also thanked Italy for "all its efforts and solidarity with the refugees," and he extended special thanks to Don Vincenzo Paglia of the Roman Catholic Sant'Egidio organization, which helped mediate Rugova's release. FS UCK LEADERS WANT CLARIFICATION. UCK official Visa Reka told RFE/RL from Tirana on 6 May that the guerrillas' "provisional government of Kosova demands that [Rugova] openly declare...his position on the NATO air strikes on Yugoslav targets [and his position towards] the provisional government of Kosova." Reka also said that "we expect a full explanation from Rugova about what happened to him during the time when he was a hostage in Belgrade." The UCK's provisional government of Hashim Thaci and the shadow-state government of Rugova's Democratic League of Kosova do not recognize each other (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 4 May 1999). Adnan Merovci, a close colleague of Rugova's, told RFE/RL that Rugova "still holds the same position that he always had." He added that "you as journalists know that Rugova is not a person who participates much in polemics...or speculations." FS ALBANIAN GOVERNMENT SUSPECTS MILOSEVIC PROPAGANDA MOVE. Pellumb Xhufi, who is an assistant to Foreign Minister Paskal Milo, told RFE/RL from Tirana on 6 May that "the liberation of Rugova is, no doubt, something that we welcome." He added, however, that "on the very day that Rugova was released, the criminal regime of [Yugoslav President Slobodan] Milosevic continued its [ethnic cleansing] campaign in Kosova. [The release] was a calculated gesture, like all other gestures and actions of Milosevic, with which he tries to divide the international community." He added that Milosevic hopes "to create an environment" in which the international community will agree to "half-measures." Information Minister Musa Ulqini told an RFE/RL correspondent in Tirana that he "will be happy to hear Rugova's opinions from his own mouth." FS NATO TO STRENGTHEN FORCES IN BALKANS... The U.S. will soon send an additional 176 aircraft to join in NATO's efforts in southeastern Europe, bringing the total number of U.S. aircraft in the region to more than 800, AP reported on 6 May. In Bonn the next day, the Bundestag voted to send 1,000 German soldiers to assist in constructing refugee camps and other humanitarian work in Albania and Macedonia. In February, it voted to send 6,000 soldiers to Italy and Macedonia as part of NATO's efforts in the region. During the night of 6-7 May, allied aircraft pounded targets in Nis, which is Serbia's third-largest city. Serbian media reported that there were casualties and that fire-fighters worked several hours to put out blazes at oil storage facilities. NATO aircraft also hit a bridge on the Belgrade-Bucharest railway line. PM ...CLAIMS GAINS AGAINST YUGOSLAV MILITARY. Spokesmen for the Atlantic alliance said in Brussels on 6 May that NATO air strikes in recent weeks have left Serbian forces in Kosova cut off from the rest of Serbia and without one-fifth of their tanks and heavy weapons. They added that Serbian forces are increasingly demoralized and have hidden much of their remaining equipment lest it be attacked. The "Financial Times" the next day quoted several British military experts as saying that NATO has not yet been able to turn the tide on the ground and halt ethnic cleansing. One expert stressed that NATO will need to consider sending in ground troops and arming the UCK if it wants to achieve its aims in the province. He added that the Serbs are hiding troops and equipment because this is in keeping with the Yugoslav army's tradition, dating back more than 50 years, of using guerrilla tactics to resist a stronger enemy. PM MACEDONIAN BORDER 'OPEN' BUT NO ONE IS CROSSING. Kris Janowski, who is a spokesman for the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, said in Geneva on 7 May that the Macedonian authorities have assured the UNHCR that the border to Kosova is open (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 6 May 1999). He added, however, that UNHCR personnel on the border report that no refugees from Kosova are waiting at the frontier to cross into Macedonia. Janowski said that "it is not clear why they're not crossing. We don't know whether the problem is on the Serbian side or the Macedonian side." "The Chicago Tribune" quoted unnamed UNHCR officials at Blace, Macedonia, as saying that the Serbian authorities in recent days have provided additional train and bus transportation in a major effort aimed at expelling ethnic Albanians from Kosova. The officials added that "as many as half a million" may be expelled "in the next several days." PM MACEDONIA REMAINS TENSE. Macedonian authorities told UNHCR officials on 6 May that the international community must take out of Macedonia each day as many ethnic Albanian refugees as arrive in the country during that period. Zarko Jordanoski, who is the editor of the independent daily "Dnevnik," told "The Chicago Tribune" on 7 May that the "invasion [of Kosovar Albanians] is equivalent to the United States being flooded by 20 million Mexicans." The BBC reported that Macedonian soldiers and police have recently used "threats and intimidation" in ethnic Albanian villages to discourage locals from taking Kosovar refugees into their homes. Nearly half of the refugees live in private homes. Arben Xhaferi, who chairs the ethnic Albanian party that is part of the governing coalition, said that the government nearly collapsed on at least one occasion over the issue of Macedonia's taking in refugees from Kosova. He did not elaborate. PM VATICAN: FIRST MAJOR ATROCITY AGAINST ROMAN CATHOLICS. Vatican Radio reported from Tirana on 7 May that Serbian forces recently killed some 200 Kosovar civilians at an unnamed village. The broadcast noted that Serbian forces have not previously conducted mass killings in Roman Catholic ethnic Albanian communities. There has been no independent confirmation of the report. PM MILOSEVIC HITS AT DOMESTIC OPPOSITION. Serbian state-run television (RTS) on 6 May accused opposition politicians Zoran Djindjic and former General Vuk Obradovic of betraying their country by supporting the NATO bombing campaign in order to further their own respective political careers (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 6 May 1999). The broadcast also accused Obradovic of espionage, AP reported. The hard-line United Yugoslav Left, which is headed by Mira Markovic, who is also Milosevic's wife, said in a statement about the two men: "The public should be informed about anything they do against their country, and then let the people try them." The statement was read on RTS news. PM OBRADOVIC: SERBIA NEEDS PEACE. Former General Obradovic told the private Beta news agency on 6 May that Milosevic is conducting a "pogrom" against those who disagree with him. Obradovic told the "Sueddeutsche Zeitung" that the Serbian government must "save" the country by agreeing to admit an international peace- keeping force to Kosova. The force's mandate would have a fixed expiration date and be limited to that province. He stressed that Serbia has nothing to fear from a peace agreement that clearly respects the country's territorial integrity. He suggested that Serbia should not have to withdraw all its forces from Kosova and that it should be allowed to keep at least border troops there. The former general added that Milosevic will have no choice but to leave office soon "because of what he has done and because of what the country has lived through under his rule." PM MONTENEGRO PREPARES FOR SHOWDOWN. President Milo Djukanovic said in Podgorica on 7 May that Milosevic was unwise to provoke NATO air strikes. Djukanovic stressed that Montenegro cannot remain in the Yugoslav federation as long as Belgrade continues its present policies at home and abroad. Djukanovic added that Milosevic "will continue to undermine democracy" as long as he is in power. From Cetinje, "The Daily Telegraph" reported that well-organized, armed "vigilantes" opposed to union with Serbia have recently prevented the Yugoslav army from inducting local males into the armed forces. Bozidar Bogdanovic of the Free Montenegro organization told the London-based daily that his organization has 15,000 members, including 200 who are "training in the mountains" under the supervision of former Yugoslav army officers. PM HAGUE COURT MAKES LANDMARK RULING. On 6 May, the Hague- based war crimes tribunal sentenced Zlatko Aleksovski to two-and-a-half years in prison for violating "laws and customs of war" against Muslim prisoners when he was commander of a Bosnian Croat prison camp in 1993. He has already spent two years and 10 months in prison, both before and during his trial, and is now a free man. The court also ruled that the Muslim-Croat conflict was an internal one and not subject to the Geneva Convention that governs international conflicts. The ruling effectively means that the Croatian authorities in Zagreb cannot be indicted or tried in The Hague for their alleged role in the 1993 Croat-Muslim war in Bosnia-Herzegovina. PM POPE JOHN PAUL ARRIVES IN BUCHAREST. Romanian Orthodox Patriarch Teoctist and President Emil Constantinescu greeted Pope John Paul II on 7 May as he arrived in Bucharest for the first papal visit to a predominantly Orthodox country since the Churches split in 1054, an RFE/RL correspondent in Bucharest reported. Pope John Paul said he trusts his visit will "continue healing wounds" which occurred in relations between the Catholic and Orthodox Churches during the past 50 years. This was a reference to the estimated 2,000 Greek Catholic churches that were taken and given to the Orthodox Church. The Greek Catholics have been trying unsuccessfully to have the churches returned to them. Greek Catholics recognize the Pope's authority but use an eastern rite liturgy. Hundreds of thousands of people are expected to see the pope during his three-day visit. PB ROMANIA BANS SALE OF OIL TO YUGOSLAVIA. The Romanian government approved a law on 6 May that will ban the sale or supplying of crude oil or gasoline to Yugoslavia, Reuters reported. A government spokeswoman said the restriction applies to planes and ships as well as to Romanians living outside the country. This effectively outlaws the practice of motorists driving to Yugoslavia and selling the gas in their car for a profit, something that thousands of Romanians have been doing for the past several weeks. PB NATO TO SET UP AIR DEFENSES IN ROMANIA. Romanian Defense Minister Victor Babiuc said on 7 May that NATO will set up anti-aircraft defense systems in Romania to protect NATO planes using the country's air space in its bombing campaign against Yugoslavia, AFP reported. The Romanian parliament voted two weeks ago to allow NATO full access to its air space and airports. PB BULGARIAN OFFICIALS ACCUSE RUSSIAN AGENCY OF FALSE REPORTS. Colonel-General Mikho Mikhov, the chief of the staff of the Bulgarian Army, denied an allegation made by ITAR-TASS that NATO aircraft used Bulgarian air space to launch attacks against Yugoslavia, BTA reported on 6 May. Two ITAR-TASS correspondents reported the previous day that NATO planes used Bulgarian air space to conduct bombing raids in southern Serbia. Lieutenant-General Stefan Popov, chief of air force headquarters, said on national radio that "the allegations are untrue." Two days earlier, the Bulgarian parliament approved an agreement with NATO allowing it limited use of Bulgarian air space (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 5 May 1999). PB xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx Copyright (c) 1999 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. 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