|History is made out of the failures and heroism of each insignificant moment. - Franz Kafka|
RFE/RL NEWSLINE Vol. 3, No. 133, Part II, 12 July 1999
________________________________________________________ RFE/RL NEWSLINE Vol. 3, No. 133, Part II, 12 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 xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx Headlines, Part II * ANOTHER BELARUSIAN OFFICIAL SEEKS ASYLUM ABROAD * KOSOVA SERB LEADERS 'END COOPERATION' WITH NATO, UN * THOUSANDS PROTEST IN KIKINDA xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx EAST-CENTRAL EUROPE ANOTHER BELARUSIAN OFFICIAL SEEKS ASYLUM ABROAD. Lieutenant-Colonel Alyaksandr Datsiy, former chief editor of the Belarusian Interior Ministry's "Na strazhe," has asked for political asylum in "one of the democratic countries of Europe," RFE/RL's Belarusian Service reported on 9 July. In a telephone conversation with RFE/RL, Datsiy said he was pressured by Belarusian special services to acknowledge that he illegally sponsored the opposition activities of former Interior Minister Yury Zakharanka, who disappeared in Minsk in early May under unexplained circumstances. Datsiy added that the authorities threatened to bring him to trial and sentence him for financial offenses unless he confessed to his ties with Zakharanka. JM LUKASHENKA SAYS BELARUS-RUSSIA UNION MUST HAVE PRESIDENT. In an interview with "Die Woche" on 9 July, Belarusian President Alyaksandr Lukashenka said the planned Belarus-Russia union must have the posts of president and vice president as well as a government. According to Lukashenka, as things currently stand, the union's presidency should be assumed by Russian President Boris Yeltsin, while the Belarusian president should become the vice president. Lukashenka added that he will not agree to a different model for the distribution of power within the union. He said that Russian ruble may become the union's single currency if Russia shows its readiness to develop the union while "taking into account the proposals of the Belarusian side," Belapan reported. JM SCHROEDER, KUCHMA FAIL TO AGREE ON CHORNOBYL. At a meeting in Kyiv on 9 July, German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder and Ukrainian President Leonid Kuchma failed to reach agreement on the closure of the Chornobyl nuclear power plant. Schroeder was unable to persuade Kuchma to accept Western support for developing conventional power plants in exchange for the Chornobyl shutdown in 2000 (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 9 July 1999). Kuchma said later that Chornobyl will be closed only after nuclear reactors in Rivne and Khmelnytskyy are completed to compensate for the power loss. Schroeder said Germany will take no decision on financial aid for Ukraine until September, when the European Bank of Reconstruction and Development is to decide whether to finance the completion of the two reactors. JM UKRAINIAN PARLIAMENT BANS SALE OF TELECOMMUNICATIONS GIANT. Ukrainian legislators on 9 July voted by 235 to 23 to reject a bill that would have sanctioned the privatization of more than 25 percent of Ukrtelekom, which employs some 130,000 people, while ensuring that the state retains a majority stake in the company. The parliament said there is no need to privatize Ukrtelekom since the company is operating at a profit. Kuchma criticized the decision as a political move, adding that proceeds from the sale would have been used to pay off wage and pension arrears. JM BALTIC PRIME MINISTERS MEET IN PALANGA... Prime Ministers Mart Laar (Estonia), Vilis Kristopans (Latvia), and Rolandas Paksas (Lithuania) met in the Lithuanian coastal resort of Palanga on 9 July under the auspices of the Baltic Council of Ministers. Among the topics discussed were NATO and EU enlargement, joint energy issues, commerce and trade concerns, and the Via Baltica transport link. Laar stressed that Estonia supports the beginning of EU accession negotiations for Latvia and Lithuania, ETA reported. At the same time, Latvian Prime Minister Kristopans stressed support for Baltic free trade, saying Riga would work to lift the barriers against it. "The two other sides have been critical of Latvia since it imposed an import tariff on pork (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 28 May 1999)." The prime ministers also agreed that all three countries will raise defense spending to 2 percent of GDP within a few years. MH ...LATVIA, LITHUANIA SIGN MARITIME BORDER DEAL. At the same meeting, Kristopans and Paksas signed the long- delayed treaty on the Latvian-Lithuanian maritime border. ELTA reported that the agreement, which took over five years to be completed, establishes the territorial seas of the two countries up to Sweden's fishing zone. Although some officials hinted that the agreement was a compromise one, Lithuanian negotiators called it "fair for both sides." The disagreement over the maritime border has been acrimonious at times, with the two countries fighting over rights to oil deposits in the contentious area. The parliaments of both countries must still ratify the treaty. MH BALTIC, NORDIC DEFENSE MINISTERS IN OSLO. Defense ministers from the Baltic and Nordic countries gathered in Oslo on 9-10 July to discuss regional cooperation and KFOR's deployment in Kosova. U.S. Secretary of Defense William Cohen, who also attended the meeting, stressed the need for good relations with Russia. However, AP reported that Cohen, despite praising the Baltic States' progress in defense and minority policies, gave no assurances or timetables with regard to possible NATO entry, saying "it's too early to tell how this will unfold." MH POLISH NURSES OBTAIN PAY HIKE, SUSPEND PROTEST. The Nurses and Midwives Trade Union and the Health and Labor Ministries have signed an agreement on a pay increase equal to 2 percent above the inflation rate, ending a 52-day protest by the nurses. Under the 11 July agreement, the pay increase will be backdated to 1 April and implemented by the end of August. The hike will be financed by hospital managements, whose debts incurred by paying wage increases and bonuses last year have been forgiven by the government. The cabinet will also ask the hospital managements to reduce the number of medical workers to be laid off. JM CZECH PARLIAMENT APPROVES NEW CITIZENSHIP LAW. The Chamber of Deputies on 9 July approved a bill allowing citizens of the former Czechoslovakia who emigrated under communist rule to apply for Czech citizenship. The bill must still be approved by the Senate. The law allows former emigres to hold dual citizenship and makes it easier for Slovak citizens who have lived in the Czech Republic since the 1993 split to acquire Czech citizenship, Reuters reported. MS SLOVAK PARLIAMENT APPROVES MINORITY LANGUAGE LAW. The parliament on 10 July approved the government bill on the use of minority languages in contacts with the authorities, CTK reported. The vote was 70 to 18 with one abstention. The Hungarian Coalition Party (SMK) voted against the bill, while the opposition Movement for a Democratic Slovakia (HZDS) and the Slovak National Party boycotted the ballot. SMK parliamentary group chairman Gyula Bardos said his party will have to "re-evaluate" its further participation in the ruling coalition. The SMK wanted the bill to be extended to culture, education, the media, and the courts. It also wanted the law to permit the use of minority languages in contacts with the authorities in localities where minorities make up 10 percent of the population, rather than 20 percent, as stipulated by the approved bill. MS SLOVAK PRESIDENT SAYS ROMA MUST HELP FIND SOLUTION TO INTEGRATION PROBLEM. Rudolf Schuster on 9 July said in Presov that solving the problem of Romany integration is not possible without the Romas' participation, CTK reported. He said the Czech Republic can help Slovakia solve this matter, which is why he discussed last week with his Czech counterpart, Vaclav Havel, the involvement of Romany organizations in seeking to solve the problem. Schuster also said that if the opposition's alleged participation in organizing the recent mass exodus of Roma to Finland were confirmed, oppositionists would have gone "beyond the limit of what is acceptable in political life." Also on 9 July, the Finnish ombudsman for foreigners, Antti Seppaelae, told CTK that no Rom who has applied for political asylum has a chance of being granted that status. MS SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE KOSOVA SERB LEADERS 'END COOPERATION' WITH NATO, UN. Serbian Orthodox Archbishop Artemije and Kosova Serb political leader Momcilo Trajkovic said in a statement on 11 July that the Kosova Serbian leadership will "cease cooperation [with the UN and NATO] as long as violence continues" against Serbs in the province, the "Financial Times" reported. The Serbian leaders stressed they will not participate in UN Special Representative Sergio Vieira de Mello's multi-ethnic "transitional council" until the security situation improves. Artemije and Trajkovic appealed to U.S. President Bill Clinton to receive a delegation representing the Serbs of Kosova. In Prishtina, a UN spokesman said that he agrees that the "level of violence is too high" but added that the statement nonetheless came as a "surprise," Reuters reported. The spokesmen added that the statement "doesn't seem to be a recipe for trying to improve the situation." PM RUSSIAN TROOPS MOVE INTO KOSOVA ZONES. Advance troops of the Russian contingent moved into Kamenica in the U.S. sector and Malisheva in the German sector of Kosova on 11 July. Over the weekend, hundreds more Russian troops arrived at Prishtina airport. In Rahovec, near Malisheva, about 3,000 ethnic Albanian protesters continued demonstrations against the deployment of the Russians (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 9 July 1999). In Malisheva, ethnic Albanian children gathered around a Russian armored personnel carrier with about 10 soldiers and chanted, "UCK, UCK" in reference to the Kosova Liberation Army. A "Financial Times" correspondent noted that some of the Russian troops were "waving the distinctive Serbian three-fingered salute." No further incidents were reported. FS U.S. TROOPS ARREST GUNMEN IN GJILAN. U.S. peacekeepers arrested 11 unidentified people on 10 July in Gjilan, a KFOR spokesman told AFP in Prishtina the next day. In one incident, unknown gunmen fired shots in the vicinity of a patrol that was investigating a grenade attack on an apartment building. The soldiers arrested four men and two women as they came out of the building and another five men nearby. The peacekeepers later discovered a dead body inside the building and a wounded person. The peacekeepers also found several weapons, including five rifles, seven pistols, and ammunition. In a separate incident, U.S. troops fired at gunmen who had earlier fired shots out of their car. No one was reported injured in the incident. FS ARBOUR INVESTIGATES KOSOVA WAR CRIMES IN REGION. Louise Arbour, who is the chief prosecutor of the Hague-based war crimes tribunal, arrived in Tirana on 11 July to discuss the ongoing Kosova war crimes investigation with her Albanian colleagues. The Albanian government has set up a special group of legal investigators who over the past two months have interviewed refugees in Albania to gather testimony from witnesses and victims of war crimes. Albanian officials have pledged to hand over all evidence to the tribunal. Arbour is scheduled to fly to Skopje on 12 July and will subsequently visit Kosova. FS HUGE MASS GRAVE IN KOSOVA? A NATO spokesman said in Prishtina on 9 July that KFOR troops have sealed off a site near Ljubenic, in western Kosova, so that forensics experts from the Hague-based war crimes tribunal can investigate reports of a mass grave there. Local ethnic Albanian villagers recently told KFOR troops that in April Serbian forces systematically killed and buried some 350 Kosovars there. The villagers stressed that the killings had no military justification because the UCK was not strong in that area. If the reports prove true, the mass grave would be the largest one found to date in Kosova, Reuters reported. PM ALBANIAN VILLAGERS LOOT REFUGEE CAMP. An Albanian was killed on 10 July during a shoot-out between police and a crowd that attacked and looted an Italian-run refugee camp near Vlora, Reuters reported. An Albanian soldier was injured during the shootout. The crowd surrounded and looted the camp after the last refugees left for Kosova and Italian officials turned over the camp to the Albanian authorities. An unnamed eyewitness said that "the situation was completely out of control because armed men fired from all sides and the police could do nothing." He added that the crowds took everything "except the field hospital, which the Italians had donated to the Vlora hospital a day earlier." The camp had modern toilets, spacious tents, and electrical wiring. FS SHOOT-OUT AT AUSTRIAN CAMP. In Shkodra on 9 July, Austrian troops shot and wounded two out of four Albanians who drove up to the Austrian refugee camp and began firing with automatic rifles, AP reported. An Austrian Red Cross spokesman said that the attack was apparently linked to fights among rival clans. FS THOUSANDS PROTEST IN KIKINDA. More than 4,000 people attended a rally in the eastern Vojvodina town of Kikinda on 11 July to demand the resignation of Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic. Over the weekend, dozens of army reservists protested in Vranje to demand back pay. On 10 July, some 1,500 anti-Milosevic demonstrators gathered in Leskovac (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 9 July 1999). On 9 July, the town councils of Nis and Sombor passed resolutions calling on Milosevic to resign. In Novi Sad, university students held a protest meeting. They later issued a statement calling on the federal president to go because of "10 years of failed policies" and appealing to the Serbian Orthodox Church and Yugoslav Army to support the opposition, RFE/RL's South Slavic Service reported. PM DJINDJIC SAYS PROTESTS TO GROW. Serbian opposition Democratic Party leader Zoran Djindjic told Reuters in Belgrade on 9 July that the strategy of his anti- Milosevic coalition Alliance for Change "is to organize protests in the 15 to 20 largest cities in Serbia during the next 15 to 20 days. Our goal is daily protests throughout the country. By mid-August, we should be able to stage the biggest protest, [which will be] in Belgrade" (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 9 July 1999). Djindjic added that a transitional government of experts could take office in the interim between Milosevic's resignation and the holding of new elections. The opposition leader suggested that former Central Bank Governor Dragoslav Avramovic would be an excellent candidate to head an interim government. PM OPPOSITION ACTIVIST SENTENCED. The Democratic Party said in a statement on 11 July that Goran Vesic, who is a party activist and member of the Belgrade City Council, was sentenced by a military court in Uzice "in secret to two years in prison for failing to respond to a military call-up notice and for high treason." The statement said that the sentence was designed to intimidate Vesic from taking part in opposition activities. The text added that military courts have launched proceedings against 12,000 men in Montenegro for allegedly failing to respond to call-up notices. One leading Belgrade lawyer noted that similar cases are pending against a total of 23,000 male Yugoslav citizens, RFE/RL's South Slavic Service reported. As for Vesic himself, he denied that he was ever drafted into a reserve unit or had received a call-up notice, AP reported. PM SREBRENICA SURVIVORS PROTEST. Several thousand mainly Muslim women and children who survived the 1995 Serbian conquest of Srebrenica demonstrated in Sarajevo on 11 July to mark the fourth anniversary of the capture of the eastern Bosnian town. The survivors demanded that the international community take action to clarify the fate of the missing 8,000 Srebrenica males, who are widely believed to have been massacred in the largest single atrocity in Europe since the end of World War II. PM WESTENDORP TELLS BOSNIAN MAYOR TO RESIGN. The international community's Carlos Westendorp called on Sanski Most Mayor Mehmed Alagic to resign or take a leave of absence until corruption charges against him are cleared up, RFE/RL's South Slavic Service reported on 9 July. Westendorp also called on the town council of Sanski Most to lift Alagic's immunity from prosecution. Alagic was a prominent Muslim general during the 1992- 1995 war. Corruption is endemic throughout Bosnia and is the largest obstacle to reviving the economy. PM SLOVENIA, ROMANIA AGREE, DISAGREE. Romanian Prime Minister Radu Vasile and his host, Janez Drnovsek, said in Ljubljana on 9 July that NATO should admit several countries of southeastern Europe to the alliance. Vasile mentioned Romania, Slovenia, and Bulgaria by name, Reuters reported. Drnovsek did not specify which countries NATO should take. Vasile also stressed the need to develop "quadripartite cooperation between Italy, France, Slovenia, and Romania." Drnovsek responded, however, that the proposal is not sufficiently clear because it does not specify the concrete role that each country would play in the group of four countries, Radio Bucharest reported. PM ROMANIAN PARTIES BRACING FOR EARLY ELECTIONS? The Romanian National Party (PNR) on 10 July announced it will start negotiations with the Party of Romanian National Unity (PUNR) on setting up an alliance for the 2000 local elections and on a "possible merger of the two formations," RFE/RL's Bucharest bureau reported. The next day, however, PUNR leader Valeriu Tabara said that his party does not envisage any electoral alliance and that any party that wants to join the PUNR would have to merge with it rather than vice versa. The PNR also elected former Romanian Intelligence Service chief Virgil Magureanu as its first deputy chairman to replace Mihai Berca, who left the party on 22 April to become deputy chairman of the Alliance for Romania Party. Also on 9 July, the nationalist Vatra romaneasca organization said it will begin negotiations with the Party of Social Democracy in Romania on forming an electoral alliance. MS MOLDOVAN DEPUTY PARLIAMENTARY CHAIRMAN DISMISSED. Valeriu Matei, leader of the Party of Democratic Forces (PFD), was dismissed as deputy parliamentary chairman on 9 July by a vote of 59 to four, RFE/RL's Chisinau bureau reported. The Party of Moldovan Communists (PCM) had demanded his dismissal, accusing him of corruption. Apart from the PCM, deputies from the Christian Democratic Popular Front (FPCD) and the pro-presidential For a Democratic and Prosperous Moldova Bloc voted for Matei's ouster. The PFD and the Democratic Convention of Moldova (CDM) did not participate in the vote. In an interview with RFE/RL on 10 July, Matei said he was "a victim" of "communist machinations" and President Petru Lucinschi's "scenarios for destabilizing the [ruling] Alliance for Democracy and Reform (ADR)" and for "introducing an authoritarian regime." MS MOLDOVAN PROSECUTOR-GENERAL RESIGNS... Prosecutor- General Valeriu Catana resigned on 9 July, parliamentary speaker Dumitru Diacov announced the same day. His resignation came after the activities of the Prosecutor General's Office were criticized in an 8 July report to the legislature by the Committee for National Security and Public Order and after the demand by PFCD leader Iurie Rosca that Diacov tender his resignation because he was allegedly covering up Catana's links with the underworld. Catana resigned without waiting for the house to vote on whether to dismiss him, RFE/RL's Chisinau bureau reported. MS ...AS DEMANDS FOR PARLIAMENTARY CHAIRMAN'S RESIGNATION GROW. CDM parliamentary group leader Mircea Snegur on 9 July told journalists that Diacov "has no moral right" to remain in his post, RFE/RL's Chisinau bureau reported. The former Moldovan president said that the CDR will demand Diacov's resignation "even if this means the breakup of the [ruling] ADR." Parliamentary deputy chairman and FPCD leader Iurie Rosca, repeating his earlier demand for Diacov's resignation, said the speaker must depart as soon as possible. He added, that he doubted Diacov would do so "of his own accord." MS GREEK, DUTCH CONSORTIUM BUYS MAJORITY STAKE IN BULGARIAN TELCOM. Bulgaria on 9 July sold a 51 percent stake in the state-owned Telcom company to a consortium of the Greek OTE and the Dutch KPN NV. The consortium paid $502 million for that stake and another $8 million for shares owned by a manager- employee Telcom association. The consortium will also invest $200 million in the company. BTA reported that this is the largest privatization sell-off in Bulgaria since 1989. Also on 9 July, Privatization Agency executive director Zahari Zhelyazkov said in a report on the agency's activities over the last six months that 80 percent of the state-owned companies slashed for privatization or liquidation this year have been sold off or closed. The private sector now accounts for more than 65 percent of the country's GNP, he said. MS xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx Copyright (c) 1999 RFE/RL, Inc. 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