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RFE/RL NEWSLINE Vol. 3, No. 143, Part II, 26 July 1999
________________________________________________________ RFE/RL NEWSLINE Vol. 3, No. 143, Part II, 26 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 * BELARUSIAN OPPOSITION LEADER FLEES TO LITHUANIA * SERBIAN CIVILIANS MASSACRED IN KOSOVA * ROMANIAN, HUNGARIAN PREMIERS DISCUSS OUTSTANDING ISSUES xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx EAST-CENTRAL EUROPE BELARUSIAN OPPOSITION LEADER FLEES TO LITHUANIA. Syamyon Sharetski, speaker of the opposition Supreme Soviet, fled to Lithuania last week, fearing for his safety after the end of President Alyaksandr Lukashenka's legitimate term on 20 July. Sharetski's colleagues from the Supreme Soviet had said he should now be regarded as the legitimate head of state (see "RFE/RL's Newsline," 22 July 1999). Sharetski told the Vilnius-based "Respublika" on 26 July that he wants to avoid a confrontation with Lukashenka and "evaluate the current situation." Sharetski also called on Lukashenka to enter into talks with the opposition and honor the constitution. "We have only one plan--to eliminate...dictatorship and [restore] democracy.... We do not want to go to Russia, if Lukashenka wants it, let him take his possessions and go," Reuters quoted Sharetski as telling "Respublika." JM BELARUSIAN INDEPENDENT NEWSPAPER FACES HEAVY FINE. A Minsk court on 22-23 July heard a case brought by the Belarusian Council of Judges and Judge Nadzeya Chmara against the independent newspaper "Belorusskaya delovaya gazeta," RFE/RL's Belarusian Service reported on 23 July. The claimants accuse the newspaper of biased coverage of the trial of Vasil Staravoytau, which was chaired by Chmara, and demand 11 billion Belarusian rubles ($41,400 according to the official exchange rate) in compensation. The newspaper erroneously reported that Chmara had no computer in the court when drawing up her verdict on Staravoytau. An RFE/RL Minsk correspondent reported that under current economic circumstances in Belarus, such a fine is "astronomical" and, if imposed, will most likely result in the closure of the newspaper. JM UKRAINE, RUSSIA STAGE FIRST JOINT NAVY PARADE SINCE 1991. Ukraine joined Russia's annual celebration of Black Sea Fleet Day, 25 July, for the first time since the country gained independence in 1991. Ukrainian President Leonid Kuchma and Moscow Mayor Yurii Luzhkov attended a joint navy parade in Sevastopol. Luzhkov stressed his view that Sevastopol belongs to Russia, adding that the issue "sooner or later will be resolved as history and justice demands," AP reported. Following a meeting with Luzhkov the same day, Kuchma said "Sevastopol is and will remain Ukrainian, I do not have any disputes on the matter with anyone," ITAR-TASS reported. JM EU PRAISES UKRAINIAN PRESIDENT... "Let me take this opportunity to express my personal admiration for the leadership of President Kuchma and the concrete achievements of Ukraine in the past five years," Reuters quoted Finnish Prime Minister Paavo Lipponen, who now presides over the EU, as saying in Kyiv on 23 July. An EU delegation led by Lipponen signed agreements on oil transport and on nuclear safety and research. Lipponen pledged up to 150 million euros ($143 million) to strengthen Ukraine's banking and financial systems. He also said the EU may provide funds to complete the construction of two nuclear reactors in Ukraine. JM ...WHILE UKRAINIAN SPEAKER SLAMS HIM. Parliamentary speaker Oleksandr Tkachenko, a major candidate in the October presidential race, has accused President Kuchma of harboring authoritarian plans and causing the economic and social collapse of Ukraine. "The years of the current president will be remembered in history as the epoch of political cynicism, lack of action, irresponsibility, and a downfall of the entire social life," Tkachenko said in Cherkasy on 23 July, according to AP. Kuchma's leftist rivals have recently begun publicizing the idea that Kuchma may introduce a state of emergency in order to call off the presidential elections. Tkachenko mentioned the acute fuel crisis, price hikes, and a possible devaluation of the hryvnya as probable reasons for a state of emergency in the country. JM EU CRITICIZES ESTONIAN POLICE, CUSTOMS. "Postimees" on 24 July reported that in an interim report about Estonia's development in interior affairs, the European Commission focused its criticism on the police and customs. The report states that those two areas are effective only if officers are "qualified, motivated, well-paid and well-equipped." Other targets of criticism in the report include passport security, various police prefectures, as well as Estonia's visa-free regime with Bulgaria. In conclusion the report suggests that without improvement, "it is doubtful that Estonia can quickly become an EU member." The Estonian Interior Ministry said the EU has a good understanding of the situation in Estonia but that its report, while objective, included some factual errors and was at times vague. MH POLISH PARLIAMENT ELECTS BOARD TO EXAMINE SECRET FILES. The parliament on 24 July elected 11 members of the National Remembrance Institute board, which will oversee making secret police files accessible to the victims of Poland's communist-era repression. Under the law on secret police files, the institute is also empowered to launch investigations into Nazi and Stalinist crimes in Poland. The members of the board, which is composed of historians and judges, were proposed by the ruling Solidarity Electoral Action (four members) and Freedom Union (two members), the opposition Peasant Party (two members), the Democratic Left Alliance (one member), and the National Judiciary Council (two members). JM CZECH INTELLECTUALS CALL FOR NATIONAL DIALOGUE. Some 200 intellectuals, including academic, business, and religious leaders, made a public appeal on 23 July for dialogue on the country's political, social, and economic problems, Reuters and CTK reported. The document, entitled "Impulse '99," is reminiscent of Charter '77's appeal for a dialogue with the then communist regime. It says the Czech Republic is "headed in a direction that may stifle hope for a rapid integration into European structures and lead to a further decline in the economic, legal, social, and moral spheres." It also calls on politicians to end "the power games" and "confrontational behavior" that have "caused many Czechs to lose faith in democracy." MS SLOVAK POLICE TO QUESTION MECIAR ON KOVAC'S SON ABDUCTION. Chief investigator Jaroslav Ivor on 23 July said Slovak police want to question former Premier Vladimir Meciar about his involvement in the 1995 abduction of former President Michal Kovac's son, CTK reported. Ivor said that it depends on the evidence gathered whether Meciar will be investigated "as a suspect." For now, Ivor noted, he will be questioned "as a witness." Ivor was responding to an interview published by the weekly "Plus 7 dni" with former Slovak Deputy Counter-Intelligence chief Jaroslav Svechota. Svechota said that the abduction was "not entirely" carried out at the initiative of his former chief, Ivan Lexa, and that in his opinion, Meciar "masterminded the abduction." Svechota, who has admitted participation in the abduction, has asked to be amnestied on grounds of ill health. MS U.S. REPORT HIGHLIGHTS SHORTCOMINGS OF HUNGARIAN MILITARY. A study of the Hungarian armed forces by the U.S. company Cubic Applications Inc. outlines numerous shortcomings and suggests ways of modernizing the forces, "Magyar Hirlap" reported 24 July. The study notes that there are still too many senior officers and too few NCOs. It says that armor-piercing artillery used by land forces is virtually ineffective, while radar and air defense systems are well below standard. And it recommends the gradual withdrawal of MiG-21s, noting that other air force equipment is out of date. MS SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE SERBIAN CIVILIANS MASSACRED IN KOSOVA. Unknown persons with automatic weapons killed 14 Serbian farmers as they were bringing in the harvest near Gracko, southwest of Prishtina, on 23 July. The UN's Bernard Kouchner, KFOR's General Sir Mike Jackson, and the Kosova Liberation Army's (UCK) Hashim Thaci condemned the killings. KFOR and the Hague-based war crimes tribunal are investigating the massacre, which is the largest single atrocity against Serbs since KFOR arrived in June. It is unclear whether the killings were an act of revenge for the murders of more than 40 ethnic Albanians at nearby Recak in January. Representatives of the UN and KFOR said in Prishtina that they fear the incident could lead to a renewed cycle of violence that could destabilize the fragile peace in Kosova, the BBC reported on 26 July. PM JACKSON PLEDGES ACTION TO FIND KILLERS. General Jackson told a news conference in Prishtina on 25 July that the massacre "overshadows everything at the moment. The investigation is ongoing.... I have made some adjustments to troop concentrations and efforts. There will be some increase in [road] checkpoints." He stressed that he will do everything necessary "to stamp out criminal behavior." Jackson added that it is unclear whether the killings are an isolated incident or "part of something more sinister." He and Kouchner said that all inhabitants of Kosova must leave behind the "cycle of hostility" if they want to become part of the modern and democratic world and achieve prosperity. Kouchner stressed that "our mission must go on [even though] the murderers sought to stop us." PM SERBS PREPARE FOR FUNERALS. Several local Serbs in Gracko told reporters on 25 July that the Serbian population there is frightened. One said in an interview with AP: "We have yet to decide what to do. It is difficult to do anything if you fear for your life." Kosova Serb political leader Momcilo Trajkovic added that "people have lost confidence in KFOR, and it will be very difficult to rebuild it." Some villagers said that local Serbs had asked KFOR for protection prior to the killings, the BBC reported on 26 July. KFOR spokesmen said in Prishtina that autopsies on the 14 bodies are continuing and that the funeral that was planned for 26 July will have to be postponed. UN officials on 25 July indefinitely postponed a meeting of the joint transitional council slated for the following day after Serbian representatives said that they would be busy with preparations for the funeral and would not attend the meeting. PM BELGRADE WANTS TO RETURN FORCES, CUSTOMS OFFICERS TO KOSOVA. Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic said in Belgrade on 24 July that KFOR and the UN civilian administration are responsible for failing to protect the 14 villagers, RFE/RL's South Slavic Service reported. He added that he wants the UN Security Council to allow an unspecified number of Serbian police to return to Kosova. The following day, Vladislav Jovanovic, who is Belgrade's chief representative at the UN, requested an urgent meeting of the Security Council to discuss the killings. He demanded that the council allow the "forces of the Yugoslav army and police, as well as customs officials" to return to Kosova (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 21 July 1999). The June agreement between NATO and Belgrade envisages the eventual return of several hundred Serbian troops, police, and border guards to Kosova but leaves the timing for the UN to decide. PM SERBIAN RESERVISTS LAUNCH HUNGER STRIKE. Nine reservists began a hunger strike near the headquarters of the Third Army in Nis on 26 July to reinforce their demands that the government pay their back wages immediately. Spokesman Miodrag Stankovic said the previous night: "All those who want to see a Serbian soldier turn to hunger strike to prevent his family from starving tomorrow should be ashamed," Reuters reported. PM OPPOSITION WARNS SERBIAN GENERALS TO STAY OUT OF POLITICS. The Social Democratic Party said in a statement in Belgrade on 25 July that "any attempt to use the Yugoslav army to suppress popular discontent would be a suicidal act and...the end of the army." Social Democratic leader Vuk Obradovic, who is a former general, said that opposition demands that Milosevic resign are "perfectly legal and democratic" and do not constitute "an attempt to take power by force," as pro- Milosevic Generals Dragoljub Ojdanic and Nebojsa Pavkovic recently alleged. Also in Belgrade, Democratic Party leader Zoran Djindjic said that unnamed senior generals have recently "violated the constitution and put themselves in the service of one man, thereby alienating themselves from the people and the rest of the army." PM BELGRADE STUDENTS PROTEST MILOSEVIC RULE. Members of the student opposition group "Otpor" (Resistance) scattered leaflets from rooftops in downtown Belgrade on 23 July in which they called for opposition to the regime led by Milosevic and his wife, Mira Markovic. The students dubbed their protest "End of JUL-y," a reference to the United Yugoslav Left (JUL), which is Markovic's party. Later that day, approximately 5,000 persons attended a rally in Sombor of the Alliance for Change. The following night, some 25,000 turned out for a meeting called by Vuk Draskovic's Serbian Renewal Movement in Nis. PM ALBANIAN PRESIDENT MODIFIES CALL FOR KOSOVA INDPENDENCE. President Rexhep Meidani told "Koha Jone" of 25 July that "the autonomy of Kosova or conversion of the province into a new unit [within Yugoslavia] with the same [republican] status as Montenegro might be [eventually] realized in the framework of European integration." He stressed that "European and Euro- Atlantic integration" will at some unspecified future date reduce the role of international borders to "geographic symbols," dpa reported. Albanian leaders usually say that the only political solution for Kosova is independence. Observers note that Tirana is seeking extensive development aid from the international community, which opposes independence for the province. In Tirana on 23 July, the group of aid donors known as Friends of Albania said in a statement that the Albanian authorities must improve law and order if they want more foreign investment, Reuters reported. PM SCHROEDER PLEDGES AID FOR MACEDONIA. German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder said in Skopje on 23 July that Macedonia "behaved perfectly" during the recent crisis in Kosova. He stressed that "it has shown solidarity and therefore it deserves solidarity" when international leaders discuss the Balkan stability pact in Sarajevo on 30 July. PM NO SUPPORT FOR SANDZAK AUTONOMY? Rasim Ljajic, who heads the Sandzak Coalition, said that calls for autonomy made by his political rival Sulejman Ugljanin are "unrealistic," "Danas" reported on 26 July. Ljajic argued that the international community pays no attention to Sandzak and that the leaders of the 240,000 ethnic Muslims are divided among themselves. Ljajic stressed that the Muslims should support democratic forces within Serbia and Montenegro rather than seek regional autonomy for themselves. PM REHN WARNS OF BOOMING CRIME IN BOSNIA. Elizabeth Rehn, who is the outgoing UN representative in Bosnia, said in New York on 23 July that Bosnia is becoming an "El Dorado of organized crime." She noted that many judges are corrupt, prosecutors afraid, and witnesses intimidated. Rehn added that criminals have recently brought more than 1,000 women as prostitutes into Bosnia from foreign countries, including Serbia, Romania, Moldova, Russia, Ukraine, and Kazakhstan, Reuters reported. Observers note that there are strong links between military leaders, politicians, and criminals among each of Bosnia' three main ethnic groups. During the 1992-1995 war, criminals cooperated with one another across front lines. PM BULGARIA, ALBANIA, MACEDONIA PROPOSE BALKAN RECONSTRUCTION PROJECTS. The foreign ministers of Bulgaria, Albania, and Macedonia, meeting in Sofia on 25 July, agreed to propose joint economic projects to the 30 July Sarajevo summit on Balkan reconstruction, an RFE/RL correspondent in Sofia reported. Nadezhda Mihailova, Paskal Milo, and Alexandar Dimitrov said the joint projects will make their countries more attractive to foreign investors. One of the key projects is the construction of an East-West transport corridor linking Bulgaria's Black Sea port of Burgas with the Albanian Adriatic port of Vlore. The three ministers also stressed the importance of NATO's continued presence in the Balkans to ensure regional stability. MS ROMANIAN, HUNGARIAN PREMIERS DISCUSS OUTSTANDING ISSUES... Radu Vasile and Viktor Orban, meeting in Targu Mures on 23 July for "informal talks," agreed that ethnic conflicts in the region must be quickly eliminated. With regard to the envisaged Hungarian- language state university in Romania, Vasile said the "constitutional obstacles" for setting it up have been removed and the problem is now a "technical" one. The next day, however, Vasile said in Cluj that the university cannot be established during the current parliamentary session because of "procedural difficulties." Vasile also told Orban on 23 July that the restitution of Church property confiscated by the communist regime will be provided for either in a law passed by the parliament or in an emergency government regulation. Some 195 buildings will be returned, RFE/RL's Bucharest bureau quoted him as saying. MS ...WHILE ORBAN SAYS HE WANTS 'RESOLUTE STEPS.' Addressing the traditional Balvanyos Free Summer University in Baile Tusnad on 24 July, Orban complained that the Hungarian government must "time and again raise the same issues" with the Romanian cabinet, in particular the Hungarian-language university and the restitution of Church property. He said that his cabinet will "not make concessions" on the problems faced by Hungarians living outside Hungary and that the restitution of Church property is linked to "safeguarding the Magyar minority's identity." He said Romania has made a "few nice gestures" but added he expects "resolute steps." Orban also said that it is up to the Hungarian Democratic Federation of Romania (UDMR) to decide what policies best serve the interests of Romania's ethnic Hungarians. Since the UDMR supports the setting up of the university, he said, his government will also "not give up supporting it." MS SEPARATISTS PLUNGE MOLDOVAN CAPITAL INTO THREE-DAY BLACK OUT. Electricity supplies from the Cuciurgan power plant in the separatist Transdniester region were restored on 24 July, following negotiations between Moldovan Deputy Premier Alexandru Muravschi and separatist deputy leader Viktor Sinev, RFE/RL's Chisinau bureau reported. The three-day black out heavily disrupted public transportation and water supplies as well as forcing shops and businesses to close. The separatists said the restoration of supplies is "temporary" and stressed they are insisting on the immediate payment of $12 million out of the $31 million that Chisinau owes Tiraspol for electricity deliveries. Prime Minister Ion Sturza on 23 July said in the parliament that the separatists' move is politically motivated and that Moldova must increase supplies from Romania and Ukraine. MS RUSSIA READY TO WITHDRAW TROOPS, ARSENAL FROM MOLDOVA. Russia is ready to carry out the stage-by-stage withdrawal of its troops and military equipment from the Transdniester, in accordance with a timetable proposed by the OSCE, ITAR-TASS reported on 24 July, citing the Russian Foreign Ministry. The statement was released after a meeting in Moscow earlier last week of Russian Foreign Ministry and OSCE experts. It added that Moscow has provided the OSCE with "full information" on the amount, the operational state, and the storage conditions of stocks stationed in the region. MS BULGARIA OFFERS TRANSIT CORRIDOR AGREEMENT TO RUSSIA, FINLAND. Bulgaria on 23 July offered Russia and Finland a draft agreement on the transit of their KFOR peacekeeping forces. The draft is similar to that under which NATO peacekeepers are already transiting Bulgarian territory to Kosova. Russia last week said it has renounced its request for transit corridors in view of "unacceptable" Bulgarian demands but unnamed Russian officials quoted by AP on 23 July welcomed the Bulgarian initiative. MS xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx Copyright (c) 1999 RFE/RL, Inc. All rights reserved. xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx HOW TO SUBSCRIBE Send an email to email@example.com with the word subscribe as the subject of the message. 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