|Man's yesterday may ne'er be like his morrow; Naught may endure but Mutability. - Percy Shelley|
RFE/RL NEWSLINE Vol. 3, No. 129, Part II, 2 July 1999
___________________________________________________________ RFE/RL NEWSLINE Vol. 3, No. 129, Part II, 2 July 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 ***** Note to Readers: "RFE/RL Newsline" will not appear on 5 and 6 July, which are public holidays in the Czech Republic. ***** xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx Headlines, Part II * BELARUSIAN OFFICIALS DISAPPOINTED WITH UNION TREATY DRAFT * NATO TROOPS ARREST YUGOSLAV SOLDIERS * UN CALLS FOR END TO VIOLENCE xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx EAST-CENTRAL EUROPE BELARUSIAN OFFICIALS DISAPPOINTED WITH UNION TREATY DRAFT. On 1 July in Minsk, Belarusian and Russian legislators discussed a union treaty draft prepared by expert commissions from both countries. According to RFE/RL's Belarusian Service, the Belarusian side was disappointed with the document. Mikhail Sazonau, Belarusian presidential aide, said Belarus urged Russia to introduce a union presidency and supranational bodies with extensive powers, but Russia declined the proposal. Belarusian Deputy Foreign Minister Valyantsin Vyalichka commented that the draft treaty stipulates the creation of a "union of two states, not a single union state." The Minsk forum also discussed holding referendums on the unification of the two countries. According to Russian lawmakers, such a referendum could be held in Russia no sooner than March 2000. Belarusian Central Electoral Commission head Lidziya Yarmoshina declared that Belarus is ready to hold a unification referendum at any time. JM UKRAINIAN PARLIAMENT AGREES TO SEND PEACEKEEPERS TO KOSOVA... The Supreme Council on 1 July passed a resolution on Ukraine's participation in the peacekeeping operation in Yugoslavia, ITAR-TASS reported. According to the resolution, the government is obliged to submit a proposal on the issue to the president, following consultations with the UN, the Yugoslav government, and participants in the peacekeeping operation. That proposal is to include information about the responsibilities of the Ukrainian contingent, its numerical strength, and its weaponry. The resolution says Ukrainian peacekeepers cannot be under NATO command. It also stipulates that the cost of their operation is to be met "by those who unleashed the criminal war in Yugoslavia and did colossal damage to this country and its people." JM ...URGES KUCHMA TO OUST INTERIOR MINISTER, SECURITY SERVICE CHIEF... In a non-binding resolution the same day, the Supreme Council urged the president to dismiss Interior Minister Yuriy Kravchenko and Security Service chief Leonid Derkach. Lawmakers approved the resolution by a vote of 250 to 19 after a parliamentary commission had accused the two officials of assisting President Leonid Kuchma in his re- election campaign. "Factory and institution chiefs, often facing the threat of dismissal, have forced their subordinates to collect signatures or sign in support of the current head of state," AP quoted commission head Oleksandr Yelyashkevych as saying. JM ...FAILS TO OVERRIDE KUCHMA'S VETO ON MINIMUM PENSION RISE. The parliament on 1 July failed to override Kuchma's veto of the bill increasing the minimum pension from 16.6 hryvni ($4.2) to 55 hryvni, which was passed in May. Kuchma argued that the Pension Fund can muster only half of the some 26 billion hryvni needed annually to finance the increase. JM KUCHMA QUESTIONS EU STRATEGY FOR UKRAINE. At the Central and Eastern Europe Economic Forum in Salzburg on 1 July, Leonid Kuchma criticized the EU for failing to adequately support reform in Ukraine, the "Eastern Economic Daily" reported. Asked about Western assistance to Ukraine, Kuchma replied: "In fact there is none.... Could you explain the strategy of the EU toward Ukraine? When we ask such a question, we don't understand the answer." Kuchma also complained that the EU advises him to emulate Poland's reform effort without providing "massive debt relief" to Ukraine, as it did to Poland. JM TALLINN APPROVES CONTROVERSIAL LOAN. The Tallinn City Council on 1 July approved a supplementary budget that includes a 130 million kroons ($8.6 million) loan. The supplementary budget, passed by a 33 to 15 vote, totals 100.8 million kroons. The opposition in Tallinn, which forms the governing majority in the national parliament, accused the coalition running Tallinn of using the budget issue for the October local elections campaign. The opposition stressed that the loan may endanger Tallinn's credit rating and cause a budget crisis, BNS reported. The opposition, protesting both the budget and the privatization of Tallinn's Central Market, filed a no confidence motion in City Council Chairman Edgar Savisaar of the Center Party. "Eesti Paevaleht" reported that the motion, signed by 22 members of the opposition, needs 33 votes among the 64 council members to pass. MH GREEK PRESIDENT VISITS LITHUANIA. Constantinos Stephanopoulos began his three-day state visit to Lithuania on 30 June. Lithuanian President Valdas Adamkus met with him one day later to discuss bilateral ties, Lithuania's integration into the EU and NATO, and the Kosova crisis. Bilateral economic ties featured high on the agenda. An agreement on the readmission of illegal migrants was signed by the deputy foreign ministers of both countries, as well as a cooperation agreement between the Kaunas and Thessaloniki regions. MH LITHUANIA, POLAND FAIL TO SOLVE MINORITY ISSUES. At meetings in Warsaw on 29-30 June, delegations from Lithuania and Poland failed to reach agreement on issues related to minorities in their respective countries. Head of the delegation and director of Lithuania's National Minorities' Department Remigijus Motuzas told BNS that "issues of national minorities should be solved on the basis of parity, but the problem is that the Poles seem to be more concerned for its nationals living outside the country than for the situation of national minorities inside Poland." He added that no resolution was found to any of the contentious issues, including the spelling of names in official documents and the controversial border troop base in the Polish town of Punsk, inhabited by mostly Lithuanians. MH POLAND ARRESTS ANOTHER OFFICER ON SOVIET SPY CHARGES. Polish military authorities have arrested a high-ranking officer in the Polish armed forces on charges of spying for the Soviet KGB. Captain Jerzy Kwiecinski, spokesman of the Regional Military Prosecutor's Office in Warsaw, said the investigation into the espionage case was launched on the basis of evidence collected by the Military Intelligence Services and the State Protection Office. Kwiecinski added that the arrest was not connected with the case of two retired officers detained in May on charges of spying for the former USSR (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 7 May 1999). JM RUSSIA APOLOGIZES TO POLAND FOR VIOLATING AIRSPACE. The Russian Foreign Ministry has apologized for the violation of Poland's airspace by four helicopters of the Baltic Sea Fleet last month (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 30 June 1999), ITAR-TASS reported on 1 July. The Russian ministry said the helicopters, which performed training flights, were unarmed and entered Poland's airspace because "the pilots temporarily lost their visual references." JM POLISH LEFT-WING OPPOSITION PARTY ELECTS LEADER. The new Democratic Left Alliance (SLD) on 1 July elected Leszek Miller its leader. Miller will be SLD leader until a party congress this fall. Earlier, Miller was chairman of the disbanded Social Democracy of the Polish Republic (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 17 May 1999). JM CZECH PARLIAMENT CRITICIZES GOVERNMENT, FOLLOWING PROGRESS REPORT. The Chamber of Deputies has passed a resolution saying that "the government's activities do not benefit the Czech Republic," CTK reported on 2 July. The resolution was proposed by deputies of the Christian Democratic Party and the Freedom Union. The chamber, however, rejected a resolution, proposed by deputies from the same formations, calling on the cabinet to resign. One day earlier, Prime Minister Milos Zeman said in a speech in the chamber evaluating the performance of his cabinet after one year in power that the government's domestic policy priority is decentralization and ensuring social stability, CTK reported. With regard to foreign policy, he said priorities are accession to the EU, adding that "isolationism" is "a dangerous policy that could back-fire." Zeman said this does not mean, however, giving up the "defense of national interests"; rather, it means a "struggle against some EU bureaucrats" who "block rather than speed up genuine European integration." MS SLOVAK DEFENSE MINISTER DENIES BUGGING ALLEGATIONS. Pavol Kanis on 1 July denied that the Slovak military intelligence service bugged the Nafta Gbely oil company, which is at the center of an ongoing privatization scandal, CTK reported. Kanis was responding to reports in the media that he submitted to the Coalition Council tapes proving that National Property Fund (FNM) chief Ludovit Kanik was involved in the sale of Nafta Gbely to the U.S. Cinergy company. He did, however, confirm that classified materials on the affair included taped telephone calls. A lawyer representing the FNM accused the military intelligence service, which is controlled by the Defense Ministry, of having bugged the FNM leadership. In other news, the parliament on 30 June approved the dispatch of 40 army engineers to join the KFOR peacekeeping troops in Kosova, AP reported, citing the daily "Sme." MS ORBAN PROMISES CHANGE IN HOLOCAUST COMPENSATION. Prime Minster Viktor Orban said in the parliament on 1 July that he agrees with Peter Tordai, president of the Federation of Hungarian Jewish Communities (MAZSIHISZ), and with Chief Rabbi Jozsef Schweitzer that the 30,000 forint ($125) compensation granted by the government to survivors of the Holocaust and their and relatives is "indeed insulting." Orban pledged that a solution will be found within a year and asked MAZSIHISZ to make suggestions for amending the existing law, Hungarian media reported. Orban also said t he agrees with Schweitzer that existing legislation on racial incitement has proved difficult to apply and must be amended. He said it is "unacceptable" for neo-Nazi groups to parade around Buda Castle without hindrance, arguing it is necessary to "discourage" such behavior. MS SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE NATO TROOPS ARREST YUGOSLAV SOLDIERS. A spokesman for British KFOR peacekeepers said in Prishtina on 2 July that KFOR recently arrested five Yugoslav army soldiers and six suspected members of the paramilitary police near Kosova's northern border with Serbia proper. The armed men were in Kosova in violation of the peace agreement, under which all Serbian forcers should have withdrawn from the province. The armed Serbs told KFOR that they were part of a border patrol unit. The previous day, U.S. Brigadier General John Craddock said that KFOR's mission "is not going to be a quick fix. There are still too many acts of violence. There are still too many homes burning at night," AP reported. PM UN CALLS FOR END TO VIOLENCE. UN Special Representative Sergio Vieira de Mello told a press conference in Prishtina on 2 July that the situation "has stabilized at a fairly high level of insecurity in certain parts of [Kosova,] and this cannot be allowed to persist. Every effort must be made...for the [Kosovar and Serbian] leaderships to contribute to the reduction of tensions." He added that he hopes to set up a multi-ethnic "transitional council" next week. Vieira de Mello stressed that he wants the council's members "to agree on a strong statement and possibly to deliver it together, condemning all forms of violence and appealing to all communities for restraint." PM GANGS TERRORIZE PRISHTINA. "Gangs rule on the streets of Prishtina [and] are becoming an increasing headache for British soldiers trying to restore peace," "The Daily Telegraph" reported on 2 July. The newspaper goes on to describe the young men as "the violent underclass from [Kosova] and Albania intent on profiting from the chaos." Some of the men work in well-organized gangs, while others are "free-lancers." Their victims include ethnic Albanians as well as Serbs. The daily quoted several ethnic Albanians as saying that they live in fear of the gangs and that they are pleased when they learn that KFOR has arrested one or more of the toughs. The role of the Kosova Liberation Army (UCK) in relation to the gangs is ambiguous, the newspaper noted. An additional source of difficulties is the presence of numerous displaced rural Kosovars, whose homes have been destroyed and who come to Prishtina seeking to occupy flats. PM VOLLEBAEK OUTLINES KOSOVA POLICE RECRUITMENT. OSCE Chairman Knut Vollebaek said in Vienna on 1 July that the 700-member OSCE mission to Kosova will recruit and train the 3,000 local members of a planned 6,000-strong, internationally supervised police force (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 1 July 1999). The additional 3,000 policemen will be from other countries. Vollebaek added that "to create a real democracy...we have to recruit [policemen] from as broad a sector as possible.... Of course, we should not have people charged with criminal activity. We have to create a secure environment and then we have to establish trust in these policemen. [Therefore,] we will have to recruit from environments, groups that have been hostile to each other." Vollebaek also said that he has appointed U.S. diplomat Robert Barry, who now heads the OSCE mission in Bosnia, to coordinate OSCE efforts in the entire Balkans. FS UNHCR LAUNCHES REPATRIATION OF KOSOVARS FROM ALBANIA. The Albanian government and the UNHCR on 1 July began to repatriate the remaining 170,000 Kosovar refugees living in Albania. An RFE/RL South Slavic Service correspondent reported from Tirana that most refugees travel from central and southern Albania by train to the northern village of Mjeda, where the UNHCR has set up a transit center. Busses and trucks provided by the Albanian government and NATO leave from there to cities in Kosova. UNHCR officials estimate that up to 2,000 refugees will pass through the Mjeda center every day in the coming weeks. NATO troops accompany the refugees on their return trips to Kosova. Elderly people and the handicapped will be transported by helicopter. Around 250,000 Kosovars have already returned home from Albania on their own. FS ROMA REFUGEES FROM KOSOVA FLEE TO ITALY. A fishing boat carrying about 250 Kosovar Roma from Montenegro landed on Italy's southern shore on 1 July. The new arrivals included more than 100 children. Another ship carrying 500 Romany refugees arrived in Italy on 29 June. The Italian coast guard brought both ships to the port of Bari. Many Roma say they fear reprisals by ethnic Albanians, who often charge that the Roma collaborated with the Serbian forces during the recent crackdown. FS CLARK CALLS MILOSEVIC 'FORMIDABLE POWER.' NATO Supreme Commander Europe General Wesley Clark told a Senate hearing in Washington on 1 July that the Serbian "opposition is fragmented and weak and traumatized by a decade of Milosevic maneuvering against them" (see Part I). The general added that "Milosevic retains formidable power in Yugoslavia, and he's an expert in dividing the opposition." Clark noted that the Yugoslav president continues to pose a threat to the Montenegrin leadership. The general stressed that Milosevic is "stubborn" and is seeking to "relegitimize himself" in Serbian politics despite his recent loss of control over Kosova, the "International Herald Tribune" reported. PM PENSIONERS PROTEST IN BELGRADE. Several hundred pensioners demonstrated on 1 July to remand the payment of back pensions and the doubling of the size of pensions. The older Serbs also called for Milosevic to resign. PM POLICE ARREST OPPOSITION MEMBERS. Serbian police in Novi Sad on 1 July arrested four members of the opposition League of Social Democrats of Vojvodina who were passing out leaflets calling on people to join an opposition demonstration in Uzice slated for 2 July, RFE/RL's South Slavic Service reported. The protest is organized by the Alliance for Change, which recently held a demonstration in Cacak (see "RFE/RL Balkan Report," 2 July 1999). PM YUGOSLAV ARMY ISSUES WARRANT FOR DJINDJIC. Representatives of the Office of the Military Prosecutor issued a formal request to the Military Court on 1 July to launch proceedings against Democratic Party leader Zoran Djindjic. The charge is that Djindjic did not respond to a call-up notice during the recent crisis in Kosova. The opposition leader instead went into hiding in Montenegro. PM MONTENEGRO TO HAND OVER WAR CRIMINALS. President Milo Djukanovic said in Niksic on 1 July that his government will send to The Hague any persons indicted by the tribunal who are found on Montenegrin territory. He added that Milosevic's policies are "xenophobic" and have led Serbia into isolation and self-destruction. Djukanovic stressed that Podgorica does not recognize the current federal parliament or government. PM CROATIA CHARGES YUGOSLAVIA BEFORE HAGUE COURT. The Croatian government agreed in a closed session on 1 July to charge Yugoslavia with "aggression and genocide" before the UN's International Court of Justice in The Hague. The charges stem from the 1991-1995 war. Bosnia filed similar charges against Yugoslavia several years ago, RFE/RL's South Slavic Service reported. PM PASSENGER TRAIN LINKS SARAJEVO TO PLOCE. After an interruption of seven years, a passenger train arrived in Ploce from Sarajevo on 1 July. Earlier. goods transport between the Bosnian capital and its natural outlet on the Adriatic were restored. Bosnia's rights to use the Croatian port's facilities have been the subject of years of disputes between Sarajevo and Zagreb. In related news, Bosnian Foreign Minister Jadranko Prlic said in Sarajevo that the two countries will sign an agreement delimiting their joint frontier on 7 July. PM DISUINITY AND UNITY IN BOSNIA. The Bosnian federal parliament adopted a new law governing radio and television on 1 July, despite strong objections from the Croatian Democratic Community (HDZ). The HDZ is expected to block passage of the measure in the federal House of Nations, which is the second house of the parliament, in the near future, RFE/RL's South Slavic Service reported. "Oslobodjenje" wrote on 2 July that the international community's Carlos Westendorp has indicated that he will enact the measure by decree if the Croats defeat it in the House of Nations. Elsewhere, representatives of Bosnia's Muslim, Serbian, and Croatian handball teams agreed in Sarajevo on 1 July to play in a "joint league" next season, RFE/RL's South Slavic Service reported. PM ZANI RIDES AGAIN. The notorious southern Albanian gang leader Myrteza Caushi "Zani" was injured in a shootout between rival gangs in Vlora on 1 July, Reuters reported. Police then tried to arrest Zani in the hospital, but he managed to escape. Three men were killed and three wounded in the shootout, but it remains unclear what triggered the confrontation. A court in Tirana ordered Zani's release from prison on 22 March 1999. He had been in jail since 1997 awaiting trial on charges ranging from robbery to murder. Witnesses declined to testify at his trial, however, and the court o sentenced him only for illegal arms possession (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 23 March 1999). Zani played a key role in the 1997 armed uprising in southern Albania. FS ROMANIAN OFFICIALS REASSURED ON TRIANON TREATY. On returning from a visit to the U.S., Defense Minister Victor Babiuc said Washington is "not preoccupied with the prospect of Romania's federalization." Babiuc said that at a meeting with Defense Secretary William Cohen, he had raised the issue of the statement attributed to NATO Supreme Commander Europe General Wesley Clark suggesting that the 1920 Trianon Treaty is outdated. Babiuc said he was reassured that the position of the U.S. "remains that expressed by President Bill Clinton, namely that existing European borders must not be changed and borders must not be modified according to ethnic criteria," Mediafax reported on 1 July. One day earlier, U.S. ambassador to Bucharest James Rosapepe told Romanian Radio that Clark's statement has been "misinterpreted"(see "RFE/RL Newsline," 28 and 29 June 1999). MS ROMANIA, RUSSIA AGREE TO 'RE-LAUNCH' RELATIONS. Meeting at the annual Central and East European Economic Forum in Salzburg, Austria on 1 July, Romanian President Emil Constantinescu and Russian Prime Minister Sergei Stepashin agreed to "re-launch economic and political relations" between the two countries, an RFE/RL correspondent in Salzburg reported. They stressed that "urgent measures" are needed to redress Romania's balance of trade with Russia. Bucharest imports $1 billion worth of Russian goods and exports goods totaling $80 million to Russia. Stepashin pledged to clear Russia's $22 million debt to Bucharest by deliveries of Russian machinery. MS MOLDOVAN PARLIAMENT, PRESIDENT ON COLLISION COURSE. The parliament on 2 July approved a decision stating that referendums cannot take place within less than two years of one another. The decision virtually nullifies President Petru Lucinschi's intention to submit to a referendum in the immediate future the issue of changing to a presidential system, since a non-binding referendum took place in May 1999. On 1 July, Lucinschi signed a decree on setting up the commission whose task is to make recommendations for changing the present system into a presidential one, RFE/RL Chisinau bureau reported. Under the decree, the commission was to present its findings within one month, following which the change would have had to be either approved by a two-thirds parliamentary majority or submitted to a plebiscite. MS MOLDOVAN PREMIER PRESENTS 'HUNDRED DAY RECORD.' Presenting the 100-day record of his cabinet to the parliament on 1 July, Ion Sturza said that "if circumstances are favorable," GDP in 1999 may "drop by only 5-7 percent," RFE/RL's Chisinau bureau reported. Sturza forecast an inflation rate of 25 percent and a deficit totaling 3 percent of the GDP. He said that in 1998, GDP dropped by 8.6 percent, in comparison with the previous year, and inflation was 18.3 percent. Among the main achievements of his cabinet, he counted the resumption of relations with the IMF and the World Bank. He also said that Moldova has paid two-thirds of the $230 million debt due for payment this year. MS BULGARIA OFFERS TO BE UZBEKISTAN'S 'GATE TO EUROPE.' Erkin Khalilov, chairman of the Uzbek parliament, told his Bulgarian counterpart, Yordan Sokolov, in Sofia on 1 July that Uzbekistan regards ties with Bulgaria as a "priority," because of that country's geographical location, namely on the "shortest route [for Uzbekistan] to Europe." Prime Minister Ivan Kostov told Khalilov that the Black Sea ports of Varna and Burgas may become "Uzbekistan's gate to Europe," BTA reported. Khalilov said that when TRACECA (Europe- Caucasus-Asia Transport Corridor) is developed, his country will indeed use Varna and Burgas. 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