|Change is always powerful. Let your hook be always cast. In the pool where you least expect it, will be a fish. - Ovid|
RFE/RL NEWSLINE Vol. 3, No. 134, Part II, 13 July 1999
________________________________________________________ RFE/RL NEWSLINE Vol. 3, No. 134, Part II, 13 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 * LATVIA'S SKELE NAMED CANDIDATE FOR PREMIER * VIOLENT PROTEST IN VALJEVO * LANDSLIDES, FLOODS CLAIM VICTIMS IN ROMANIA, HUNGARY End Note: LUCINSCHI BABA AND THE MOLDOVAN PARLIAMENTY DEPUTIES xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx EAST-CENTRAL EUROPE BELARUSIAN POLICE REPORTS ON SUCCESSFUL RETURN OF LOANS. According to the Interior Ministry's press service, law enforcement agencies have successfully carried out President Alyaksandr Lukashenka's order earlier this year to ensure outstanding loans are paid to the state, RFE/RL's Belarusian Service reported on 12 July. The operation resulted in the repayment of 833 billion Belarusian rubles ($3.2 million), $17 million, and DM3 million ($1.55 million) as well as in the large-scale confiscation of property. The police arrested 73 businessmen and are looking for another 148 who have not paid their debts. According to confidential information received by an RFE/RL Minsk correspondent from police officers, the authorities resorted to arrests without warrants and imprisonment without trial in order to pressure debtors. JM A DOZEN PARTIES SUPPORT UKRAINIAN PRESIDENT'S RE- ELECTION BID. Twelve democratically-oriented parties issued a statement on 10 July expressing support for Ukrainian President Leonid Kuchma on the fifth anniversary of his presidency, RFE/RL's Ukrainian Service reported. The statement noted that during the last five years, Ukraine has established itself as a state recognized by the world community. It added that "only Leonid Kuchma will be able to secure the further consistent implementation of reforms." The statement was signed by, among others, the Agrarian Party, the Liberal Party, the Popular Democratic Party, and the Party of Muslims of Ukraine. JM UKRAINE STILL SEEKING TO POSTPONE PAYMENT TO ING BARINGS. Ukraine and the Dutch-based bank ING Barings are continuing negotiations on Kiev's redemption of an overdue $155 million bond. The 9 June deadline was extended to 9 July, but the two sides have not yet agreed on a payment scheme. Ukraine has proposed to pay off only 20 percent and convert the rest into three-year bonds. As of last week, Ukraine had $1.3 billion in hard-currency reserves, but the government wants to save those funds for other debt payments that are due later this year and in 2000. JM MORE PRESIDENTIAL HOPEFULS IN UKRAINE SUBMIT NECESSARY SIGNATURES. The Central Electoral Commission has registered former Prime Minister Yevhen Marchuk as a presidential candidate in the 31 October elections, after incumbent President Kuchma and Petro Symonenko. Marchuk submitted more than 1.6 million signatures supporting his signature, of which the commission accepted 1.37 million as valid. According to AP, 11 other presidential candidates had supplied the necessary signatures by the 12 July deadline. JM LATVIA'S SKELE NAMED CANDIDATE FOR PREMIER. Former Prime Minister and leader of the People's Party Andris Skele on 12 July was asked by President Vaira Vike-Freiberga to form the next government. Earlier, the three largest parties in the parliament--the People's Party, For Fatherland and Freedom, and Latvia's Way--announced they will cooperate to form a new cabinet. Together, the three parties hold 62 seats out of 100. The New Party, the junior member of Vilis Kristopans's government, has expressed its willingness to cooperate and join the new government, while the Social Democratic Workers' Party announced it will remain in constructive opposition. MH POLISH FARMERS SAY CABINET FAILING TO IMPLEMENT AGREEMENTS. Trade union activists have accused the government of failing to meet obligations to which it had agreed in February and May, following farmers' protests, PAP reported on 12 July. The activists said the government has done nothing to introduce permanent measures to regulate the agricultural market. In their opinion, government intervention on the pork market is insufficient, while the price for livestock is too low and does not guarantee profits from such sales. Agricultural Minister Artur Balazs responded that the cabinet does not have enough funds to take the measures demanded by the farmers. Deputy Finance Minister Rafal Zagorny said the agricultural sector will receive more money if Poland is granted EU aid funds next year. "The EU will not give a single ecu for the development of Polish agriculture," radical farmers' leader Andrzej Lepper remarked, calling Poland's EU entry a "catastrophe." JM CZECH REPUBLIC TO SPEED UP PASSAGE OF EU LEGISLATION. Deputy Prime Minister Egon Lansky on 12 July said the government will ask the parliament to approve measures on speeding up the passage of legislation related to EU integration, Reuters reported. Lansky said that according to the government proposal, such laws will be approved after one, instead of three readings, thereby reducing the time required for approval from months to weeks, CTK reported. Lansky spoke after meeting with EU envoy to Prague Ramiro Cibrian. The Czech Republic was criticized last year by the EU for falling behind in bringing its legislation into line with that of the union. MS CZECH ROMANY FAMILY RECEIVES ASYLUM IN FRANCE. A four- member Romany family from the Czech Republic has received political asylum in France on 12 July, CTK reported. On 9 July, five Czech Roma requested political asylum in Finland. The agency said that Finnish authorities fear an influx of Czech Roma similar to the one of Roma from Slovakia., which prompted Helsinki to suspend visa-free entry for Slovak citizens. MS EUROPEAN COMMISSION WELCOMES SLOVAK MINORITY LANGUAGE LAW. European Commission spokesman Nico Wegter told journalists on 12 July that the commission welcomes the law on the use of ethnic minority languages in contacts with the authorities, which the Slovak parliament passed on 10 July. Wegter said he will not comment on the content of the law, adding that the commission's experts must first study it. He also refused to comment on why the Hungarian Coalition Party did not support the bill in the parliament, CTK reported. MS UNCLARITY OVER KRAJCI, LEXA CASES. Jaroslav Ivor, chief investigator at the Prosecutor-General's Office, on 12 July told journalists that the criminal case against former Interior Minister Gustav Krajci and the investigation of former Slovak Counter-Intelligence chief Ivan Lexa are proceeding. Ivor thus contradicted Justice Minister Jan Carnogursky, who recently said following a Constitutional Court ruling that has been leaked to the press, the criminal case and the investigation have been stopped (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 9 July 1999). That ruling says Prime Minister Mikulas Dzurinda's annulment of the amnesty granted by his predecessor to Krajci and Lexa was unconstitutional. Ivor said the ruling cannot apply retroactively and is only to serve as a "guideline" for similar cases in the future. He added that the Constitutional Court ruled that the amnesty of both men granted by former Premier Vladimir Meciar was also unconstitutional. MS COHEN URGES MORE DEFENSE SPENDING IN HUNGARY. U.S. Defense Secretary William Cohen said in Budapest on 12 July that his country expects Hungary to honor its commitments resulting from NATO membership, which include increasing defense spending to 1.81 percent of GDP. Prime Minister Viktor Orban told Cohen that the issue of Vojvodina should be included in a special and separate chapter of a Balkan stability pact. Cohen noted that "ethnic hatred similar to that experienced in Kosova has no roots in Vojvodina." He added that the province "could become an outstanding example of non- violent assertion of minority interests." MSZ HUNGARY CRITICIZES SLOVAK LANGUAGE LAW. Foreign Ministry State Secretary Zsolt Nemeth on 12 July said that Slovakia's recently adopted minority language law (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 12 July 1999) will hinder the development of Hungarian-Slovak relations, Hungarian media reported. He said the law is unacceptable to Slovakia's Hungarian Coalition Party. Nemeth added that he trusts the Slovak cabinet will find a way to make "appropriate corrections" that will meet the provisions of the Hungarian-Slovak basic treaty as well as European norms. MSZ SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE VIOLENT PROTEST IN VALJEVO. At least 4,000 people followed maverick local artist Bogoljub Arsenijevic in storming the Valjevo town hall on 12 July. Police quickly evicted the intruders. Some four people were taken to hospital as a result of the violence. Arsenijevic told the crowd that "the international community should not try [Yugoslav President Slobodan] Milosevic. We should try him and punish him for what he did to the Serbian people over the past 10 years," Reuters quoted him as saying. Arsenijevic also called on his followers to storm the local offices of Milosevic's Socialist Party of Serbia and stay there "until we hear that Milosevic is dead." The United Yugoslav Left, which is headed by Milosevic's wife, Mira Markovic, issued a statement accusing the protesters of trying to "create a jungle here." The protest in Valjevo was the second spontaneous one in a Serbian provincial town in approximately one week (see "RFR/RL Newsline," 7 July 1999). PM WHICH WAY FOR OPPOSITION TO MILOSEVIC? BBC Television on 13 July showed footage from the previous day of Arsenijevic kicking in glass at the Valjevo town hall ahead of his followers. The footage also showed the artist vandalizing the town council's meeting room. A BBC reporter in Belgrade said that the spontaneous and violent nature of the Valjevo protest suggests how potentially explosive the situation in Serbia is. Serbian Renewal Movement leader Vuk Draskovic, who recently served in Milosevic's government, said that he wants a "constitutional" end to Milosevic's rule. He added, however, that he will soon take part in street protests, which he has not done this year. Elsewhere in Belgrade, spokesmen for the anti-Milosevic petition drive said that they have collected well over 100,000 signatures, despite the police's efforts to prevent them from doing so. In Vranje, some 500 army reservists continued their protest to demand back pay. PM CLARK: MILOSEVIC BODES ILL FOR KOSOVA PEACE. NATO Supreme Commander Europe General Wesley Clark said in Milan on 12 July that if Milosevic "remains in power and in control, there will be strong internal pressures to violate the demilitarization agreement [for Kosova], to be prepared for the worst possible outcome: a return of Serb efforts directed against Albanians" in the province. The general added: "I encourage the growing demonstrations by the people of Serbia to hold Mr. Milosevic accountable. He is the source of their problems and should be removed from office," Reuters reported. PM COHEN WARNS OF CONTINUED DANGER IN KOSOVA. U.S. Secretary of Defense William Cohen said in Budapest on 12 July that "the situation in [Kosova] remains dangerous. It is likely to remain dangerous for some time to come by virtue of the tensions, the passions that are running very high. It's all the more important that the remaining forces that are to be contributed to KFOR arrive there as soon as possible." He added that KFOR will "remain neutral and balanced" in its dealings with the rival ethnic communities. Kosova, he stressed is "still a very dangerous environment and all of the forces there must be prepared to encounter that kind of danger." PM SERBS, ALBANIANS WORK IN REOPENED PRISHTINA CITY HALL. J. F. Carter, who heads the UN's civilian administration in Kosova, officially reopened the Prishtina city hall on 12 July. He called the move "a step in the return to normality." Two "municipal co-presidents" (mayors) head an administration consisting of 80 ethnic Albanians and 60 Serbs. One mayor is the Serb Zvonimir Stevic, while the other is the ethnic Albanian Mexhid Syla. AP reported that tensions between the respective Serbian and ethnic Albanian groups of municipal workers were evident. PM RED CROSS RECEIVES LISTS OF KOSOVARS IN SERBIAN JAILS. The Serbian Justice Ministry on 12 July handed to officials from the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC)a list containing the names of 1,438 Kosovars currently held in Serbian jails. An ICRC spokesman told an RFE/RL South Slavic Service correspondent in Prishtina that earlier this month, Serbian officials handed over another list containing 481 names. He added that ICRC representatives have so far visited 381 imprisoned ethnic Albanians and are still seeking confirmation about missing people who are not on the lists. UN Human Rights Commissioner Mary Robinson recently estimated that up to 5,000 Kosovars are still in Serbian prisons. FS LDK OFFICIAL URGES QUICK UNIFICATION OF KOSOVARS. Melazim Krasniqi, who is a senior official of the Democratic League of Kosova (LDK), told RFE/RL's South Slavic Service on 12 July that "I do not know what the real reasons are why [LDK leader Ibrahim] Rugova does not return to his homeland. I believe that he should be here and [help] unite the [various] Kosovar political groups.... I am also concerned that Rugova has...covered himself with a disturbing silence." Krasniqi stressed that "the LDK must face the new realities in Kosova, and it cannot do so with an old mentality.... The membership demands concrete actions and clear positions toward current problems.... If it fails to [meet the challenge], the LDK [may face] very severe [internal] divisions." FS THACI CONDEMNS SERBIAN WALK-OUT. Kosova Liberation Army (UCK) leader Hashim Thaci on 12 July condemned a decision by local Serbs to stop cooperating with Kosovar Albanians and international organizations (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 12 July 1999), Reuters reported. Thaci appealed to the Serbs to reverse their decision, saying that "my wish is that these people do not continue Milosevic's game of boycott, a game which is not in the interests of...the Serbian people themselves.... I believe that this was a rash decision...and I hope that these people will realize there is a new reality and new life" in Kosova. Thaci also said: "I have no comment on why Rugova has not come back. It is his personal decision but it's not a smart one.... He must realize that no one can hold Kosova to ransom." FS MORE ALBANIAN REFUGEE CAMPS LOOTED. An RFE/RL South Slavic Service correspondent reported from Tirana on 12 July that Albanian villagers looted a refugee camp near Peshkopi the previous day. The camp previously accommodated about 3,000 refugees. Unidentified persons also looted a camp in the village of Shtoj near Shkodra. The incidents follow the raid on the Italian camp in Vlora on 10 July (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 12 July 1999). Most refugees had left the camps before the villagers began plundering them. The correspondent reports, however, that refugees remaining in Albania now fear that their accommodations could also become the scene of uncontrolled looting and robbery. Meanwhile, NATO soldiers have begun to reinforce security around remaining camps. FS YUGOSLAV ARMY DENIES TROOP INCREASE IN MONTENEGRO. The Yugoslav Army said in a press statement in Belgrade on 12 July that recent comments by several top NATO officials that the army has raised its troop levels in Montenegro are "propaganda-style fabrications and allegations." The statement added that NATO is deliberately circulating false reports about alleged tensions within Montenegro and between Podgorica and Belgrade in order to mask NATO's own "destructive intentions toward our fatherland." PM KLEIN TO REPLACE REHN IN BOSNIA. Jacques Klein, who is currently a deputy to the international community's High Representative Carlos Westendorp in Bosnia, will soon replace Elizabeth Rehn as the UN's chief representative in that country, RFE/RL's South Slavic Service reported from Sarajevo on 12 July. Rehn will return to her political career in Finland. PM CROATIA GETS FIRST NATIONAL INDEPENDENT TV STATION. Zagreb-based Nova TV received a license on 12 July, thereby becoming Croatia's first nationwide private television broadcaster. Nova's main share-holders include Europa Press Holding, which also owns the independent daily "Jutarnji list" and the weekly "Globus." Another main share-holder is "Vecernji list," which is close to the governing Croatian Democratic Community (HDZ). The top managers of the station will be veteran broadcasters Miroslav Lilic and Tomislav Marcinko, "Jutarnji list" reported. State-run television is currently the only nationwide television broadcaster and is widely regarded as a mouthpiece of the HDZ. PM CROATIAN RAILWAY WORKERS DEFEND RIGHT TO STRIKE. Locomotive drivers halted railway traffic across Croatia for half an hour on 12 July to defend their right to strike, RFE/RL's South Slavic Service reported. The railway management has taken the drivers' union to court in conjunction with a strike in April. Union spokesmen say that management has gone to court in the hope of deterring future strikes. Strikes are not unusual at the loss-making state-run railway. PM LANDSLIDES, FLOODS CLAIM VICTIMS IN ROMANIA, HUNGARY. At least 13 people were killed and 23 injured in a landslide caused by heavy rain and floods near a dam on the Raul Mare River in the Retezat mountains in western Romania. Romanian Radio reported on 13 July that one person drowned in Cluj County. Prime Minister Radu Vasile met with cabinet members to examine ways of helping victims and coordinating rescue works. Heavy rains are expected to continue in western Romania. Reuters reported that at least six people were killed as the result of landslides caused by floods in Hungary. Three persons were buried in a wine cellar in Siklos, south of Budapest, and three drowned in Heves County, in northwestern Hungary. In Bulgaria, floods caused heavy damage in two villages near the town of Montana, north of Sofia. MS MOSCOW-HELD ROMANIAN TREASURE UNDER CE EXAMINATION. Takis Hadjidemetriou, special rapporteur for the Council of Europe's Cultural Commission, met in Bucharest on 12 July with members of the Senate's National Security and Foreign Policy Commissions to discuss Romanian treasure held in Moscow since World War I, RFE/RL's Bucharest bureau reported. AP said that Hadjidemetriou will study Romanian archives and report to the council, which has recommended that member countries return illegally-held foreign patrimony. The treasure is one of the main bones of contention hindering the signing of the treaty between the two countries. MS MOLDOVAN PRESIDENT DENIES INVOLVEMENT IN PARLIAMENTARY CRISIS. Presidential spokesman Anatol Golea on 12 July "categorically" denied that President Petru Lucinschi played any role in the parliamentary crisis triggered by the dismissal of Party of Democratic Forces (PDF) leader Valeriu Matei from the post of deputy parliamentary chairman, RFE/RL's Chisinau bureau reported. Golea said that the crisis was "a purely internal affair" of the legislature and that Lucinschi hopes the stalemate will be solved "as soon as possible" to avoid "undesirable consequences for all of [Moldovan] society." He also denied that Lucinschi may exploit the crisis as "an argument for promoting a presidential system" (see End Note below). MS PDF SAYS IT WILL NOT LEAVE MOLDOVAN RULING COALITION. In a statement released on 12 July, the parliamentary group of the PDF said the party does not intend to leave the ruling Alliance for Democracy (ADR) in retaliation for Matei's dismissal. PFD deputy Vasile Soimaru told journalists the same day that the present parliamentary crisis has "demonstrated" that a new majority can "easily be formed" by the Party of Moldovan Communists' 40 deputies and the 12 deputies representing the pro- presidential For a Democratic and Prosperous Moldova Bloc. The PFD, Soimaru said, believes that only if the party stays in the ADR can Moldova's "integration into European structures" be safeguarded. MS IMF SAYS BULGARIA MAKING PROGRESS. The head of the IMF mission in Bulgaria on 12 July said that Bulgaria is making "satisfactory economic progress," despite the effects of the Kosova crisis, AFP reported. Juha Kahkonen said that because of the impact of the Kosova conflict on Bulgaria's economy, economic growth is likely to be less than was forecast at the start of 1999. He said that exports have fallen, which, he argued, could affect the current account of the balance of payments. Kahkonen predicted that Bulgaria's budget deficit will total some 5.5 percent of GDP this year and that the economy will grow by 1.5 percent, instead of the 3.7 percent growth predicted at the start of the year. However, the IMF expects that in 2000 economic growth will total 4-5 percent and inflation will be less than 2 percent, he said. MS END NOTE LUCINSCHI BABA AND THE MOLDOVAN PARLIAMENTARY DEPUTIES by Michael Shafir No political system is totally immune to corruption and nepotism. But when these maladies become the rule, rather than the exception, one faces what political scientists call "systemic entropy." In systems making the transition from authoritarianism to democracy, the risk of entropy is higher than in "established democracies": while such democracies deal with corruption and nepotism by applying the rule of law, transitional systems may be faced with a situation where the authority of those making the law (the parliament), those applying it (the executive), and those adjudicating it (the judiciary) is questioned because those institutions lack credibility. Credibility may be acquired through the historical experience of those granting it (a factor often absent in "transitional systems"), but this is not a lasting factor unless it is quickly complemented by proof of more immediate experience. Conversely, the lack of credibility can be the outcome of some psychological factors, but by and large it exists when those called upon to rule are not up to the task. In democratic systems, the instrument through which credibility is supposed to be restored is changing the powers that be through elections or changing some systemic elements that induced entropy--for example, some provisions in the constitution. The deficiency of the former solution is that it can require considerable time, while the latter may mean "throwing away the democratic baby" with the bath water. Last week, a typical situation of entropy emerged in Moldova. On 9 July, the parliament dismissed one of its deputy chairmen, Party of Democratic Forces (PFD) leader Valeriu Matei. Matei had long been accused by the opposition Party of Moldovan Communists (PCM) of corruption, an accusation that appears not totally unfounded. Earlier this year, a tribunal in Chisinau ordered him to pay General Nicolae Alexe, chief of the government's Department for Fighting Crime, the equivalent of 100 monthly wages. The tribunal had found Matei guilty of insulting Alexe during a search of the premises of a dubious commercial company with which Matei was linked. The ruling Alliance for Democracy and Reforms (ADR) repeatedly postponed voting on the Communists' demand to dismiss Matei from his parliamentary position. Since the PFD is a member of the unstable ADR, few political observers were surprised by that delay. All of a sudden, however, Matei's coalition colleagues from the pro- presidential For a Democratic and Prosperous Moldova Bloc (PMPD) were ready to join the Communists, and the legislature dismissed him by a vote of 59 to four during the evening of 9 July. The Christian Democratic Popular Front (FPCD)--a party that since March, when it failed to obtain the portfolios it wanted in Ion Sturza's cabinet, has been unable to make up its mind whether it is in the coalition or out--also supported the motion. The other ADR component, the Democratic Convention of Moldova (CDM), did not participate in the vote, to protest what happened in the parliament earlier that day. That earlier development may partly explain the twist leading to Matei's dismissal. On 8 July, the legislature began debating a report by its Committee for National Security and Public Order. Among other things, the report criticized the activities of Prosecutor- General Valeriu Catana, who had long been accused by FPCD leader Iurie Rosca of covering up the illicit activities of parliamentary chairman Dumitru Diacov. Again, the accusation may not have been entirely unfounded. Shortly after being named prosecutor-general earlier this year, Catana had appointed Diacov's brother, Ion, as Chisinau's top prosecutor. Whether this was "merely" a case of nepotism or whether Rosca's 8 July statement denouncing Diacov's "Mafioso activities" was based on insider's knowledge is hard to say. Nonetheless, as late as 8 July the communists were demanding that the committee's report be debated in the house. But rather than permit such a development, Diacov announced that Catana had tendered his resignation. In line with Moldovan legislation, Catana's departure should have been debated and then approved by the parliament. But Diacov proposed that a resolution be adopted merely "taking note" of the resignation. The resolution passed with the support of the PCM, as well as that of Diacov's own PMPD. It was at this point that former President Mircea Snegur's CDM walked out of the meeting, thus missing the vote on Matei's dismissal. But Snegur then joined Rosca in demanding the dismissal of Diacov as parliamentary chairman. The PCM's action is not hard to explain. By joining forces with Diacov and his supporters, the party seems very close to writing the ADR's obituary. But a lot more happened on the eventful day of 9 July. First, all those throwing punches in the Moldovan parliamentary arena seem to have knocked one another out. Not even the PCM has emerged untainted, for the electorate is unlikely to forget that the Communists' attack on Matei was triggered by Matei's denunciation of the son of PCM leader Vladimir Voronin for his involvement in seemingly illicit business activities. With entropy looming large, President Petru Lucinschi's argument for curtailing the powers of the parliament and instituting a presidential system can only gain ground. Lucinschi finds himself in the fortunate position of an Ali Baba whose path to the treasure has been opened by the thieves who guarded it. But as Aladdin put it, "Who will change old lamps for new ones?" Or, in other words: Will a presidential system fare any better? This is first in a series of two articles. xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx Copyright (c) 1999 RFE/RL, Inc. 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