|He that breaks a thing to find out what it is has left the path of wisdom. - J.R. Tolkien|
RFE/RL NEWSLINE Vol. 3, No. 147, Part II, 30 July 1999
________________________________________________________ RFE/RL NEWSLINE Vol. 3, No. 147, Part II, 30 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 EX-PREMIER TO REMAIN IN JAIL FOR ANOTHER TWO MONTHS * CROATIAN GOVERNMENT REJECTS HAGUE COURT'S CHARGES AGAINST TUDJMAN * SERBIAN MINISTER ADMITS LOSS OF KOSOVA xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx EAST-CENTRAL EUROPE BELARUSIAN EX-PREMIER TO REMAIN IN JAIL FOR ANOTHER TWO MONTHS. The Prosecutor-General's Office has extended the detention of former Prime Minister Mikhail Chyhir by another two months, until the end of September, Belapan reported on 29 July. Chyhir was arrested on 30 April on charges of "grand larceny" in connection with a loan to a Canadian firm that he approved in 1994 in his capacity as a bank head. Chyhir's wife told the agency that, apart from the Canadian loan issue, there have been "no new episodes" in the criminal investigation against her husband. Meanwhile, Belarusian human rights and opposition activists have set up a nationwide committee to fight for Chyhir's release. JM MINSK UNHAPPY ABOUT BELARUSIAN OPPOSITION LEADER'S STAY IN VILNIUS. At a meeting with Lithuanian Foreign Minister Algirdas Saudargas on 29 July, Belarusian Ambassador to Lithuania Uladzimir Harkun voiced Minsk's dissatisfaction with the "circumstances" surrounding Belarusian Supreme Soviet Chairman Syamyon Sharetski's stay in Vilnius (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 29 July 1999), BNS reported. Saudargas assured Harkun that Lithuania wants to continue developing good-neighborly relations with Belarus. Belarusian Foreign Ministry spokesman Mikalay Barysevich said the same day that Sharetski's stay in Vilnius is regarded by Minsk as a "private trip." JM TWO MORE UKRAINIAN PRESIDENTIAL HOPEFULS REGISTERED. The Central Electoral Commission has registered two more candidates to vie for the Ukrainian presidency, bringing the total so far to eight. The new candidates are Natalya Vitrenko, chairwoman of the Progressive Socialist Party, and former Environmental Minister Yuriy Kostenko, leader of one of the two splinter groups of the Rukh party. JM CLARK IN LATVIA. NATO Supreme Commander Europe General Wesley Clark, during his visit to Latvia on 28-29 July, met with President Vaira Vike-Freiberga, Prime Minister Andris Skele, Foreign Minister Indulis Berzins, Defense Minister Girts Valdis Kristovskis, and armed forces Commander Colonel Raimonds Graube. Clark told the press that NATO is "happy with the progress Latvia has achieved," BNS reported. At a press conference Clark surprised Defense Minister Kristovskis when he said "there are no pre-conditions of a military nature for the countries wishing to join NATO." Kristovskis immediately queried that statement, which Clark reconfirmed, adding that the last round of NATO enlargement "did not take into account pre-conditions of a military nature." MH POLAND'S SOLIDARITY COALITION DISTRIBUTES VOTING POWER AMONG PARTNERS. The National Council of the ruling Solidarity Electoral Action (AWS), meeting in Gdansk on 29 July, announced that 25 percent of the votes on the council will go to the Solidarity trade union, 23 percent to the Solidarity Electoral Action Social Movement, and 16 percent each to the Christian National Union, the Conservative Peasant Party, and the Center- Accord Party of Christian Democrats. The remaining 4 percent of the votes will be divided later among the AWS's smaller groups. The council elected Marian Krzaklewski as AWS chairman. Krzaklewski is also chairman of the Solidarity trade union. JM CZECH SENATE PASSES ANTI-FORGERY LAW... The Senate on 29 July approved a government-sponsored bill aimed at cracking down on the import and export of imitations of brand products, CTK reported. The law enables custom officials to destroy goods declared as forgeries by a court of law and to impose a fine of up to 20 million crowns ($577,200). The law is in line with EU legislation. The Senate also approved the new citizenship law, which allows former emigres to hold dual citizenship and facilitates the citizenship process for Slovaks living in the Czech Republic since the 1993 split. Both bills were approved by the Chamber of Deputies on 9 July. MS HUNGARIAN PREMIER LAUDS U.S. SENATE COMMITTEE RESOLUTION ON VOJVODINA... Viktor Orban said on 29 July before departing for the Sarajevo summit on Balkan reconstruction that it is "a major success" for Hungarian diplomacy to have the future status of Vojvodina on the summit's agenda. Orban was responding to a 28 July U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee resolution saying that President Bill Clinton should "express deep concern" over reports about threats against and intimidation of ethnic Hungarians in the province. The same resolution called on the secretary of state to "regularly monitor" the situation of ethnic Hungarians in Vojvodina and said negotiations on Kosova's future status must also establish "satisfactory guarantees" for the rights of ethnic minorities in Vojvodina, "including consultations with elected leaders [from the province] about their proposals for self- administration," Hungarian media reported. MS ...WHILE U.S. AMBASSADOR TO HUNGARY SAYS RESOLUTION IS NOT ON THAT PROVINCE. In an interview with Hungarian Radio on 29 July, Peter Tufo explained that the Senate committee's resolution did not deal with Vojvodina but with the democratization of Yugoslavia as a whole. He said the paragraph on the province was introduced to emphasize recognition of the "interest of the Vojvodina people in [a possible measure] of autonomy." But he said that the resolution does not deal with Hungarian proposals for "three-pronged" autonomy for the region's ethnic Hungarians. He also said that "one must wait and see" what issues will be raised in Sarajevo "and in what context." MS SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE CROATIAN GOVERNMENT REJECTS HAGUE COURT'S CHARGES AGAINST TUDJMAN. The Croatian government on 29 July denied that President Franjo Tudjman and other top Croatian officials were responsible for atrocities in central Bosnia in 1993 (see "RFER/RL Balkan Report," 27 July 1999). The government statement charged that recent remarks by a Hague tribunal prosecutor on Croatia's alleged involvement in the Bosnian conflict are incorrect and politically motivated. Elsewhere, Justice Minister Zvonimir Separovic said "we reject all insinuations against President Tudjman." Separovic added that his ministry is continuing negotiations with the court over documents regarding Croatian military operations in Krajina in 1995 (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 21 July 1999). PM BALKAN SUMMIT OPENS IN SARAJEVO. Heads of state or government from 39 countries and representatives of 17 international organizations meet in the Bosnian capital on 30 July to discuss Balkan reconstruction. The previous day, a smaller group of leaders from Slovenia, Hungary, Croatia, Romania, Bulgaria, Macedonia, Turkey, Albania, and Montenegro heard an appeal by Finnish President Martti Ahtisaari to put an end to old hatreds and work together for a better future. Ahtisaari, whose country holds the rotating EU chair, warned that "the ability of countries within the region to cooperate and establish good neighborly relations...will be an important criterion for evaluating their prospects of full integration with the EU," the "Financial Times" reported. He added that "the EU and NATO will not look favorably at anyone dashing headlong towards Brussels without even a backward glance" at their neighbors. The daily noted that this is a criticism of Slovenia. In separate remarks, EU aid coordinator Bodo Hombach stressed the need to formulate and implement practical programs. PM ATTENTION FOCUSES ON SUMMIT'S 'EMPTY CHAIR.' U.S. National Security Adviser Sandy Berger said in Washington on 28 July that Serbia will be the only Balkan country not represented by its leaders at the summit. He stressed that Serbia cannot take part in international reconstruction efforts as long as Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic remains in office. The conference organizers invited as guests respected Serbian banker Dragoslav Avramovic and several opposition leaders, including Zoran Djindjic and Nenad Canak, RFE/RL's South Slavic Service reported on 29 July. When questioned by a BBC reporter the following day, Avramovic refused to say whether he thinks the organizers are justified in excluding Milosevic's representatives. Avramovic stressed that the conference will not deal with concrete proposals and that therefore it is unimportant whether Belgrade's representatives attend (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 28 July 1999). PM SUMMIT NOT TO CONDEMN MILOSEVIC? "The Daily Telegraph" reported on 30 July that "a row between Russia and the NATO countries...frustrated [U.K.-led] attempts...to secure a [final resolution] insisting on an end to the Milosevic regime before any aid can flow to Serbia." The text will simply "call on the people of Serbia to embrace democratic change," the daily reported. An unnamed diplomat told the newspaper that "this [formulation] is woolly even by the standards of international organizations." PM SKEPTICISM SURROUNDS SUMMIT. Also on 30 July, "The Daily Telegraph" noted that many experts are skeptical whether the summit will go beyond "wordy exhortations" and lead to any practical results. The daily reported that unnamed "senior officials from Britain, France, and Finland, which is organizing the summit, say the whole affair is a waste of time." It also quoted an unnamed diplomat as saying that the "Germans dreamt up this thing, got [U.S. President Bill] Clinton to agree, and then dumped it into the lap of the Finns. It's too soon [after the Kosova crisis] and too vague, and the Bosnian government is such a shambles that it doesn't deserve a summit." PM KOSOVARS CHEER 'MOTHER' ALBRIGHT. Some 2,000 ethnic Albanians welcomed U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright in Prishtina on 29 July. Members of the crowd cheered her as "nona," or mother, a term ethnic Albanians often reserve for the late Mother Teresa. Albright told the Kosovars that she hopes that "never again will people with guns come in the night, never again will houses and villages be burned, and never again will there be massacres and mass graves," AP reported. She met with the Kosova Liberation Army's (UCK) Hashim Thaci, with representatives of Ibrahim Rugova's Democratic League of Kosova (LDK), and with local Serbian leaders Momcilo Trajkovic and Serbian Orthodox Archbishop Artemije. Some 200 pro-Milosevic demonstrators heckled both her and Artemije after their meeting. PM RUGOVA RETURNS TO KOSOVA. LDK leader Ibrahim Rugova arrived without fanfare at Prishtina airport on 30 July. He later told AP that he and his family will stay in the province (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 29 July 1999). PM UCK DENIES POWER-GRAB IN KOSOVA. The "International Herald Tribune" reported on 30 July that the UCK has taken power in much of Kosova by setting up government bodies in a "fait accompli." The UN's fledgling civilian administration has not yet extended its authority to many places outside Prishtina, the "Financial Times" added. Thaci told the London-based daily that the UCK "did not exploit the vacuum, which already existed. It took on an obligation to bring back normality and order. If we had not acted, there would have been anarchy ruling Kosova." Observers note that the Kosova peace agreement gives the UN exclusive control over civilian administration. PM SERBIAN MINISTER ADMITS LOSS OF KOSOVA. Serbian Deputy Prime Minister Ratko Markovic said that the June peace agreement meant that "Kosova was taken from Serbia," the Belgrade weekly "NIN" reported on 29 July. He compared Serbia's agreement on the loss of the province to the decision of an injured person to have a leg or arm amputated in order to save his life. Observers note this is the first time that a top-ranking Belgrade official has publicly admitted that Serbia lost Kosova as a result of the recent conflict. Officials generally claim that Serbia won the war because Kosova legally remains part of Serbia and because the administration there is in the hands of the UN, not of NATO or the UCK. PM MONTNEGRO GIVES SERBIA SEPTEMBER DEADLINE. Montenegrin Foreign Minister Branko Perovic told AP at the Sarajevo summit on 29 July that his government will hold a referendum on independence unless the Belgrade authorities agree to changes in the rules governing the Yugoslav federation by early to mid-September. Elsewhere, Montenegrin Prime Minister Filip Vujanovic told the Belgrade daily "Blic" of 30 July that Milosevic must resign. Vujanovic stressed that "the country has no future with a president like Milosevic." The previous day, Vujanovic told the Madrid daily "El Pais" that there is no danger of a pro-Milosevic coup in Montenegro. He said that opposition by "our citizens, state bodies, and the international community" would block any coup attempt. PM MONTENEGRIN RAILWAYS CHIEF SAYS SERBIA BLOCKING KEY PROJECT. Rajko Medenica, who heads Montenegrin Railways, said in Podgorica on 29 July that the Belgrade authorities are "deliberately blocking" Montenegrin proposals to revive traffic along the Belgrade-Bar railway line. The Montenegrin authorities want to quickly restore transportation along the bomb-damaged line by introducing a combination of rail and bus connections, RFE/RL's South Slavic Service reported. The communist authorities built the line linking Belgrade to the coast in the 1980s at great expense. It involves many complex engineering projects through difficult territory. Critics at the time charged that the government built it as a concession to greater Serbian nationalism. PM ROMANIAN PREMIER CRITICIZES IMF. In an interview with Reuters on 29 July, Radu Vasile accused the IMF of using "double standards" and of constantly imposing new conditions on Romania for the resumption of lending. Vasile said Romania is being treated differently from Russia or Ukraine and has been "put in the same basket with Pakistan." He said he is ready to lead the National Peasant Party Christian Democratic into the next elections only if he is elected chairman of the party, noting that he is also willing to form a coalition with leftist parties. The electorate has turned to those parties, he commented, because it is disillusioned with other formations. Bickering among the coalition partners has made matters worse, according to Vasile. MS ROMANIAN GOVERNMENT SHUTS DOWN STATE-OWNED BANK. In compliance with one of the IMF's demands, the government on 29 July decided to close down Bancorex, which over the years has issued $1.2 billion in non-performing loans. The bank will be merged into the Romanian Commercial Bank. The government also decided to instruct the Prosecutor-General's Office to open an investigation to find out who is responsible for the bank's "disastrous performance." Meanwhile, Romania is encountering difficulties in meeting the IMF's demand to secure $350 million in loans from private international lenders. Credit Suisse First Boston, which earlier offered a $200 million loan at a 12 percent interest rate, is now demanding an interest rate of 17 percent, Mediafax reported. MS HUNGARIAN FOREIGN MINISTER IN ROMANIA. Janos Martonyi, who is on a three-day visit to Romania, told his counterpart, Andrei Plesu, that during the Kosova crisis, Romania behaved like a "real NATO member" and thus considerably enhanced its chances of integration into Euro-Atlantic structures. The two ministers said the crisis has had a "positive effect" on Romanian- Hungarian relations. Martonyi also met with Defense Minister Victor Babiuc, whom he informed that Budapest wants to open a consulate in Miercurea Ciuc. Babiuc said that in his opinion the two consulates in Cluj and Constanta adequately cover Hungary's consular needs but that the request will be examined as a "good-will gesture." MS MOLDOVAN PARLIAMENT APPOINTS NEW PROSECUTOR-GENERAL. The parliament on 29 July voted to accept the resignation of Prosecutor-General Valeriu Catana (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 9 July 1999) and to appoint Mircea Iuga as his successor, RFE/RL's Chisinau bureau reported. Until now, Iuga has served as a judge at the Supreme Court. MS MOLDOVAN COMMISSION DRAFTS CONSTITUTIONAL CHANGE PROPOSAL. The presidential commission on amending the constitution has ended its work and will publish its proposals on 2 August, BASA-press reported. The commission envisages a "radical growth" of presidential prerogatives and a "drastic reduction" of the legislature's, the agency reported, citing commission secretary Raisa Grecu. The cabinet is to be subordinated to the president, rather than to the parliament, and will be entitled to legislate. The president will have the prerogative of dissolving the parliament. The draft also envisages reducing the number of deputies from present 101 to 71 and changing the electoral system. Also, the president is to be elected for five years, instead of the current four. MS CZECH DEFENSE MINISTER IN BULGARIA. Vladimir Vetchy, who is on a two-day visit to Sofia, met with his Bulgarian counterpart, Georgi Ananiev, on 29 July to discuss NATO enlargement, BTA and CTK reported. Vetchy said Prague supports NATO's "open-door policy" in general, but he added that it gives priority to Slovakia's candidacy for membership in the alliance. He stressed that candidates need to draw up a clear military-reform program as well as five-year and 10-year programs for its implementation. Vetchy and Ananiev also discussed the situation in Kosova, agreeing that the region must be given autonomy but must remain within Yugoslavia's borders. MS xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx Copyright (c) 1999 RFE/RL, Inc. All rights reserved. xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx HOW TO SUBSCRIBE Send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org with the word subscribe as the subject of the message. HOW TO UNSUBSCRIBE Send an email to email@example.com with the word unsubscribe as the subject of the message. 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