|The only certainty is that nothing is certain. - Pliny the Elder|
RFE/RL NEWSLINE Vol. 3, No. 152, Part II, 6 August 1999
________________________________________________________ RFE/RL NEWSLINE Vol. 3, No. 152, Part II, 6 August 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 * UKRAINE STRUGGLES TO AVOID DEFAULT ON LOANS * MONTENEGRO UNVEILS PLAN FOR FUTURE TIES WITH SERBIA * AHTISAARI CALLS FOR KFOR TO TAKE CHARGE OF SECURITY xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx EAST-CENTRAL EUROPE BELARUSIAN OFFICIAL CRITICIZES CIS EXECUTIVE SECRETARY. Syarhey Posakhau, Belarus's permanent representative to the CIS, told journalists in Minsk on 5 August that CIS Executive Secretary Yurii Yarov is unwilling to tackle urgent problems facing his secretariat, including the energy crisis and falling trade turnover between CIS countries. According to Posakhau, Yarov's current duties are "issuing, filing, and storing pieces of paper," Interfax reported. JM LUKASHENKA CALLS BELARUSIAN POPULAR FRONT 'DESTROYERS.' Belarusian President Alyaksandr Lukashenka said on 5 August that the recent congress of the opposition Belarusian Popular Front (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 2 and 3 August 1999) gathered "destroyers" who "are ready to turn [Belarus] upside down," Belarusian Television reported. He added that he will "most likely" have the records of the congress published ad verbatim. If people could listen to the congress, their "ears would close up [out of fear]," Lukashenka noted. JM UKRAINE STRUGGLES TO AVOID DEFAULT ON LOANS. The Finance Ministry on 5 August said some 50 percent of its Eurobonds sold through the U.S. Merrill Lynch bank have been converted into new Eurobonds maturing in February 2001. Ukraine sold some $400 million in T-bills through Merrill Lynch in 1997 and was to have redeemed them last September. It needs around $3.5 million to service debts by the end of 2000, but the National Bank has only $1.3 million and is dependent on the IMF's $2.6 billion loan program. A government delegation will visit MF headquarters in Washington next week to seek new loans. "We have agreed on some questions but others demand an elaboration of positions and wordings," AP quoted Deputy Premier Serhiy Tyhypko as saying. Ukraine is counting on receiving some $180 million in IMF credit this month. JM UKRAINIAN NUCLEAR POWER WORKERS WARN OF SECTOR'S 'BANKRUPTCY.' The union representing workers employed by the state-run Enerhoatom nuclear power company issued a statement on 5 August warning that the atomic energy industry is in a critical state. "An unbalanced tax policy has brought highly profitable nuclear power plants to the verge of bankruptcy," AP quoted the statement as saying. The document also noted that the industry lacks money to pay on time for nuclear fuel supplies from Russia, thus casting doubt on the "readiness of some reactors to be operational during the fall-winter season." JM ESTONIA HAS HIGHEST AVERAGE WAGE, PENSION IN BALTICS. LETA reported on 5 August that in the first quarter of 1999, the average monthly wage in Estonia was $290.90, while it was $257.98 in Lithuania and $229.43 in Latvia. Compared with the first quarter of 1998, Lithuanian wages increased by 13.6 percent, while Estonian and Latvian wages were up 11.5 percent and 7.8 percent, respectively. Estonia recorded the average monthly pension at $110.20, followed by Latvia at $94.39 and Lithuania at $77.07. Compared with pensions in the first quarter of 1998, Estonia registered an increase of 29.5 percent, followed by Latvia (21 percent) and Lithuania (12.9 percent). MH ESTONIAN INTERIOR MINISTER SAYS CORRUPTION 'BIGGEST PROBLEM.' In an interview published in the 6 August "Eesti Paevaleht," Juri Mois said corruption is the "most dangerous" problem in the fight against crime. At the same time, he noted that that the fight against organized crime and violent crimes has been more successful, adding that street crime is "not a big problem," Mois said "we need to give the police greater operational freedom" and close loopholes in criminal legislation. MH LATVIAN PARLIAMENT ADOPTS AMENDMENTS TO PENSIONS LAW... Lawmakers on 5 August approved the controversial amendments to the law on pensions by a vote of 51 to 36. The amendments stirred controversy among trade unions and pensioners as they gradually raise the retirement age from 57.5 years old for women and 60 for men to 62 for both by 2006. The amendments also stipulate that working pensioners will lose benefits starting the year 2000 if their wages exceed twice the pension level. Several hundred people have staged demonstrations in Riga recently to protest the amendments, LETA reported. Also on 5 August, the opposition collected signatures from more than one-third of the 100 deputies in order to postpone the promulgation of the amendments by two months. A referendum on the amendments will be held if 10 percent of the population supports such a vote. MH ...APPROVES BUDGET AMENDMENTS. The same day, lawmakers also approved amendments to the 1999 budget cutting spending by 64.4 million lats ($109 million) to take into account a shortfall in expected revenues of 93.1 million lats. The total spending for 1999 is now 1.4 billion lats. The parliament also approved state involvement in the revitalization of the failed Rigas Komercbanka, proposing that 1 million lats be earmarked for that purpose. And deputies voted in favor of increasing the excises on fuel oil, tobacco, and alcohol as well as raising the gambling tax. MH POLAND TO HAVE LARGER BUDGET DEFICIT THAN EXPECTED? By the end of July, the budget deficit had reached some 96 percent of the government target for 1999, PAP reported. However, Finance Minister Leszek Balcerowicz told Polish Radio on 5 August that this year's budget targets will be met if the cabinet observes "appropriate budget discipline." Meanwhile, Wieslawa Ziolkowska, a member of the Monetary Policy Council, said the risk of a deficit in the entire public sector is more dangerous than a state budget deficit slightly larger than planned. The state budget accounts for only 52 percent of all public funds, the remainder being accounted for by local government and health and other funds. According to Ziolkowska, the public sector deficit is a time bomb planted by the government when it introduced several systemic reforms at the same time. JM CZECH SENATORS SUBMIT BILL ON MEMORIAL TO OPPRESSED. Twelve Senators on 5 August submitted a bill on the construction in Prague of a Memorial to the Times of Oppression. The center would apply to the period 1939- 1989 and would gather documentation, to be made available via the Internet, on the periods of fascist occupation and communist rule. It would be located on the site of a former monument to Stalin. MS SLOVAK POLITICIAN CALLS FOR COALITION SOLIDARITY. Justice Minister Jan Carnogursky on 5 August told CTK that Slovakia's national interests must come before party interests and that the time "is not ripe" for changing the premier. Carnogursky, who heads the Christian Democratic Party (KDH), is considered a rival of Prime Minister Mikulas Dzurinda for the leadership of the Slovak Democratic Coalition (SDK). The coalition was set up last year by five parties, including the KDH. Carnogursky said Slovakia must "present itself as a stable, democratic, and pro-European country" to succeed in its EU accession bid. He added the KDH will take a "neutral stand" on the demand of the Hungarian Democratic Coalition to reshuffle the cabinet because "changing a few ministers would be seen abroad as a normal step" and would not damage the country's image. MS SLOVAK PARLIAMENTARY CHAIRMAN ON RELATIONS WITH RUSSIA. Jozef Migas, in an interview with ITAR-TASS on 4 August, said that he is opposed to the "ideologization" of relations with Russia, which "are now stable and not burdened by any problems." Migas, who is expected to visit Russia in the early fall, said the "intensification of relations with Russia, above all in the economic field, is one of the most important priorities for us." Migas also said Russia "was, is, and will remain a great power that exerts great influence on international developments," adding that he is "certain" its present economic difficulties will be surmounted. MS HUNGARY'S SMALLHOLDERS REJECT FIDESZ CANDIDATE FOR PRESIDENCY. During unofficial talks with the junior coalition Independent Smallholders' Party, the major coalition party, FIDESZ, has proposed Ferenc Madl, former minister of culture in Jozsef Antall's government, as the parties' joint candidate for president. "Nepszava" reported on 6 August that the Smallholders rejected the proposal and said they continue to consider party chairman Jozsef Torgyan as their candidate. Under a coalition agreement, the Smallholders are to nominate a joint candidate for president. In other news, FIDESZ has offered one seat on its National Board and another on its Steering Board to the Christian Democratic Federation, which was formed by former members of the so-called "moderate wing" of the Christian Democratic Party. MSZ SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE MONTENEGRO UNVEILS PLAN FOR FUTURE TIES WITH SERBIA. The Montenegrin government approved a detailed plan on 5 August that would abolish the Yugoslav federation and recast Podgorica-Belgrade relations as a loose association of two sovereign states. The Montenegrin parliament is slated to approve the measure "soon," RFE/RL's South Slavic Service reported. It is unclear if the government intends the proposal as a basis for negotiations with Belgrade or as a "take-it-or-leave-it" proposition. Top Montenegrin officials said recently that they will hold a referendum on independence if the Serbian authorities do not respond to the proposal by late September. PM MONTENEGRIN PROPOSAL PUTS POWER IN REPUBLICS. The plan calls for establishing a "Union of Montenegro and Serbia" with a unicameral legislature in which Montenegro and Serbia would have equal representation, BETA reported on 5 August. The cabinet would have a maximum of six ministries with small staffs, while each republic would, in effect, have its own foreign policy and army, which would be loosely coordinated with those of the other. Both sides would have to agree to broad joint foreign- and economic-policy goals, which would center on integration with Euro-Atlantic structures. Each republic would have economic independence and the right to introduce its own currency. Any joint currency would have to be freely convertible. And each republic would have a veto on joint decisions, including the election of the union's president and any declaration of war. PM U.S. GIVES MONTENGRIN PROPOSAL CAUTIOUS BACKING. State Department spokesman James P. Rubin said in Washington on 5 August that the Montenegrin proposal is a "measured and rational approach to political and economic reform." He added that "we think that they should continue to work within Yugoslavia to ensure their rights are protected." PM LESKOVAC TELEVISION EDITOR FREED. Ivan Novkovic left the Leskovac jail on 5 August after completing a 30-day sentence for broadcasting a call for an anti-Milosevic demonstration (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 8 July 1999). He told a rally of some 4,000 people after his release from prison that he does not regret broadcasting the appeal, which led to a series of large demonstrations. Novkovic added that he hopes similar anti-Milosevic protests will take place in all Serbian towns. PM RESERVISTS TO TAKE HUNGER STRIKE TO BELGRADE. A spokesman for 10 army reservists staging a hunger strike in Nis said on 5 August that they will continue their 10-day-old protest in Belgrade "next week." The spokesman added that the only response they have had from the authorities was a police threat to remove them from the city center. The reservists demand back pay for their recent service in Kosova. PM SERBIAN INTERIOR MINISTER WARNS OPPOSITION. Vlajko Stojiljkovic said in Kraljevo on 5 August that KFOR troops have failed to protect Serbian civilians in Kosova. He charged that this failure constitutes a violation of their mandate, the Belgrade daily "Politika" reported. Stojiljkovic accused unnamed "outside factors" of using domestic "traitors and hooligan elements, in other words, allies of NATO" to undermine Serbia's economy, security, and political life. He warned that the security forces will not allow efforts to "destabilize" Serbia to continue. The minister did not elaborate. PM YUGOSLAV AUTHORITIES MOVE AGAINST PRIVATE RADIO. Federal Telecommunications Ministry officials on 5 August informed the management of opposition leader Vuk Draskovic's Belgrade-based Studio B Television that Studio B faces legal action if it continues to allow the private radio station B2-92 to use one of its frequencies (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 4 August 1999). The ministry officials stressed that only Studio B has the legal right to broadcast on that frequency. A spokesman for Studio B said that B2-92 will continue to use the frequency under a new name that will include the term "Studio B," VOA's Croatian Service reported. PM YUGOSLAV ARMY DROPS CHARGES AGAINST DJINDJIC. On 5 August, the Yugoslav army prosecutor's office dropped charges of draft-dodging against Democratic Party leader Zoran Djindjic (see "RFE/RL. Newsline," 29 July 1999). The opposition politician said that the decision shows that the army is not willing to let the Milosevic regime use it for political purposes. PM AHTISAARI CALLS FOR KFOR TO TAKE CHARGE OF SECURITY. Finnish President Martti Ahtisaari, who helped broker the Kosova peace settlement, said in Helsinki on 6 August that KFOR and not civilian police should assume responsibility for security in the province. He added: "I fear the role of the international police has not been fully thought out. They are perhaps needed when [local] police are retrained...and in monitoring the [local] police," Reuters reported. The president concluded: "That 3,000 or 3,100 police should keep order in the country is not of this world. [Keeping order] requires close cooperation between KFOR and the international police." Foreign governments have contributed fewer police than expected to the international police force. PM SERBIAN HUMAN RIGHTS ACTIVIST SAYS PARAMILITARIES WERE ATTACHED TO REGULAR UNITS... Natasa Kandic of the Humanitarian Law Fund (FHP) told Reuters in Belgrade on 5 August that most of the killings in Kosova were carried out by paramilitary units "established by orders from a very high level" and attached to regular forces. "Their task was to expel people from villages, and to kill," she said, adding that they included Bulgarian and Russian mercenaries. Kandic called on Serbs to "start talking about responsibility, to support the UN war crimes tribunal, and the investigation and punishment not just of perpetrators, but also those responsible at a high level, starting with Milosevic." The FHP was the only Serbian NGO to investigate Serbian war crimes during the conflict, RFE/RL's South Slavic Service noted. FS ...WARNS OF ALBANIAN 'CULTURE OF BLOOD FEUDS.' Kandic on 5 August also urged the Kosovar Albanians to "face up" to the wave of revenge killings of Serbs since June. She added that the revenge attacks are rooted in the Albanian "culture of blood feuds" and warned that if left unchecked they could "spiral out of control." Kandic stressed that "this is not revenge in the usual sense--'you robbed me, I'll rob you.' Nothing like this happened in the wars in Croatia and Bosnia. It is part of the Albanian mentality." She urged "new discussion" of the problems, adding that "otherwise it will go on till the last minority [in Kosova] is eliminated." FS RUGOVA, THACI MEET WITH KOUCHNER. Ibrahim Rugova, the leader of the moderate Democratic League of Kosova (LDK), met on 4 August with the Kosova Liberation Army's (UCK) Hashim Thaci in the residence of UN Special Representative Bernard Kouchner in Prishtina, an RFE/RL South Slavic Service correspondent reported. The three discussed the situation in Kosova and forms of possible cooperation between the rival Kosovar political groups and the UN civilian administration. Bilal Sherifi, who is the head of Thaci's UCK-backed provisional government, told RFE/RL on 5 August that "the two sides discussed the agreement signed [by the Kosovar Albanian delegates] in Rambouillet about the creation of the provisional government.... Both sides agreed to create a joint commission to administer financial resources that have been collected by the fund administered by [the LDK's shadow-state Prime Minister Bujar] Bukoshi." FS LDK JOINS TRANSITIONAL COUNCIL. LDK officials told an RFE/RL correspondent in Prishtina on 5 August that they have appointed their representatives to the UN's transitional council, following their meeting with Kouchner. Kosovar Albanians, Serbs, and small ethnic minorities are represented on the council, along with representatives of the international community. Rugova and LDK senior leader Fatmir Sejdiu will represent the LDK. Mark Krasniqi of the Christian Democratic Party of Kosova will also participate in the council. On 16 July, the first meeting of the transitional council took place, but Rugova refused to attend it, arguing that smaller shadow-state political parties must also be represented. FS TAIWAN FREEZES KOSOVA AID AFTER CANCELING PREMIER'S VISIT. A spokesman for Taiwanese Prime Minister Vincent Siew said in Taipei on 5 August that Taiwan will "re- evaluate" a planned $300 million donation to Kosova. The announcement came after NATO notified Siew the previous day that it "cannot guarantee his security" in the region during a planned visit, dpa reported. The spokesman stressed that the donation can be made only "after we have made contacts with and gained understanding of the region." Siew had planned to visit Kosova on 5 August after his visit to Macedonia, together with a 160-strong business delegation (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 5 August 1999). FS MACEDONIA LIFTS FEE FOR RELIEF TRUCKS. A UNHCR spokesman said in Geneva on 6 August that the Macedonian authorities have agreed to lift a $348 per-truck inspection fee for UNHCR relief vehicles bound for Kosova (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 4 August 1999). The spokesman added that "aid trucks will start rolling this morning." At least 90 aid trucks are waiting in Skopje alone. PM ALBANIAN SPECIAL POLICE TAKE CONTROL OF DURRES PORT. Prime Minister Pandeli Majko on 5 August ordered special police troops to take control of the main port of Durres to stem corruption and smuggling, RFE/RL's South Slavic Service reported. Majko stressed that local police have proven unable to deal with highly organized and well- armed criminals. FS IMF APPROVES ROMANIAN STAND-BY LOAN. The IMF executive board on 5 August approved the $547 million stand-by loan on which the Romanian government and the IMF had agreed in April. The loan will be disbursed over eight months and the first $73 million tranche released immediately, Reuters reported. IMF First Deputy Managing Director Stanley Fischer said that Romania must continue efforts to obtain credits from international private lenders. Fischer added that the full implementation of the government's program would "mark a major step forward in Romania's quest for financial stability and establish the basis for sustainable growth." Under the approved loan, Romania is aiming at an inflation rate of some 40 percent, a decline in output of no more than 3.5 percent, and a consolidated deficit not exceeding 3.7 percent of GDP in 1999. MS HUNGARIAN LEADER IN ROMANIA URGES CHURCH PROPERTY RESTITUTION. Bela Marko, chairman of the Hungarian Democratic Federation of Romania (UDMR), sent a letter to President Emil Constantinescu, Prime Minister Radu Vasile, and Justice Minister Valeriu Stoica on 5 August urging the restitution of Church property confiscated by the Communists. Marko says the UDMR cannot comprehend why the restitution of such property is not included in a bill on the restitution of real estate currently being debated by the parliament, Mediafax reported. MS MOLDOVAN PRESIDENT'S CONSTITUTIONAL INITIATIVE MEETS MORE CRITICISM. Party of Democratic Forces leader Valeriu Matei told journalists in Chisinau on 5 August that the presidential drive to change the constitutional system is aimed at "setting up a dictatorship." He warned that if the drive is successful, President Petru Lucinschi will extend his mandate, following the examples of Belarus and Kazakhstan. Parliamentary chairman Dumitru Diacov said that the presidential commission draft on changing the constitution was "a surprise for the deputies," RFE/RL's Chisinau bureau reported. He argued that the draft is an "anti- democratic document" that violates the principle of the separation of powers. Meanwhile, 38 deputies on 5 August asked the Constitutional Court to rule on the constitutionality of a draft law initiated by them. The draft envisages curtailing presidential powers and introducing a full-fledged parliamentary system in Moldova. MS TRANSDNIESTRIAN LEADER WARNS AGAINST ATTEMPT TO EVACUATE RUSSIAN ARSENAL. "The Russian arsenal in Transdniester belongs to the Transdniestrians and only to them. We have just temporarily lent it to Russian troops," Transdniester Supreme Soviet Deputy Chairman Vladimir Atamanyuk said in an interview with Infotag on 4 August. Atamanyuk added that "if Russia attempts to withdraw the military equipment by force, the Transdniestrians will foil the attempt by lying on the rail tracks." MS BULGARIAN GOVERNMENT APPROVES DEFENSE INDUSTRY BUY-OUT. The government on 5 August approved the sale of the Arsenal military industrial enterprise to an employee- management company. The company, called Arsenal 2000, will acquire a 51 percent stake in the enterprise for $2.1 million. Under existing legislation, the company's debts to the state budget will be written off, Privatization Agency chief Zachary Zhelyazkov told journalists in Sofia. The cabinet also approved the sale of the Elatsite-Med copper-producing enterprise to another employee-management company. The latter is to pay 10 million leva (some $5.5 million) for a 79 percent stake in the enterprise, BTA reported. 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. HOW TO UNSUBSCRIBE Send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org with the word unsubscribe as the subject of the message. 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