|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. 157, Part II, 13 August 1999
________________________________________________________ RFE/RL NEWSLINE Vol. 3, No. 157, Part II, 13 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 * POLISH CABINET DIVIDED OVER COAL MINING REFORM * THACI PROPOSES APPOINTING PROVISIONAL LEGISLATURE * MILOSEVIC RESHUFFLES YUGOSLAV CABINET End Note: DEPENDING ON FOREIGN INVESTMENT xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx EAST-CENTRAL EUROPE WORLD BANK SAYS BELARUS LOSING TIME ON REFORM. Serhiy Kulyk, the World Bank's permanent representative in Minsk, told journalists on 12 August that the "time credit" for implementing necessary market reforms in Belarus is shrinking, Belapan reported. Commenting on his meeting with Belarusian Premier Syarhey Linh this week, Kulyk said he informed Linh about the World Bank's stance on cooperation with Belarus. According to Kulyk, the bank will finance various projects only after the government has liberalized its monetary and pricing policies. Kulyk also noted that Belarus's social policy needs to be reoriented toward a "targeted support" approach since many of the state's social expenditures seem unjustified. He added, however, that the bank does not intend to dictate what economic course Belarus must adopt. JM LUKASHENKA SAYS STEPASHIN'S OUSTER NOT AFFECTING INTEGRATION. Belarusian President Alyaksandr Lukashenka told journalists on 12 July that the dismissal of Sergei Stepashin's cabinet will not change the pace of Belarusian-Russian integration. "The departure of Stepashin and the arrival of Putin does not mean that we have come to a halt in this process. It is being continued, let us say, as sluggishly as it has been continued so far," Lukashenka commented. He also noted that Russia rejected the "radical" Belarusian proposal for a Belarusian-Russian state and suggested its own, more moderate version. "Therefore I said: 'Let it be what Russia proposes,'" Belarusian Television quoted Lukashenka as saying. JM UKRAINE'S FOREIGN TRADE DECREASES. The State Statistics Committee on 12 July reported that Ukraine's foreign trade from January-June fell to $10.8 billion, down 24.6 percent compared with the same period last year. Foreign investment in the first six months of 1999 totaled $265 million, down 48.8 percent on the same period in 1998. The committee also said that Ukraine's population had declined from 52.04 million at the end of 1991 to 49.89 million as of 1 July 1999. JM YET ANOTHER HOPEFUL TO JOIN UKRAINIAN PRESIDENTIAL POLL. The Supreme Court on 12 August ordered that Vitaliy Kononov, leader of the Green Party, be registered as a presidential candidate, UNIAN reported. The Central Electoral Commission had refused to register Kononov, saying that only 974,527 signatures on the lists supporting his candidacy were genuine. If the commission complies with the order, Kononov will become the 14th presidential hopeful. JM RUSSIAN CITIZEN IN ESTONIA ENDS HUNGER STRIKE. Eduard Shaumyan ended his hunger strike on 12 August following a three-day protest outside the Russian Embassy in Tallinn (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 10 August 1999). Shaumyan said that the Russian Citizens Union had asked him to stop and that he himself had realized he "could no longer continue" fasting, BNS reported. On 11 August, Shaumyan and three fellow protestors were taken into police custody for several hours after the Russian Embassy telephoned with the authorities, according to Shaumyan. Oleg Morozov, meanwhile, is continuing his hunger strike, after a medical check revealed him to be in satisfactory health. He is due to fast until 18 August, when his 20-day prison sentence for violating immigration laws ends. MH ESTONIAN MINISTRIES DISAGREE OVER DUTY-FREE. According to press reports. the Foreign and Transport Ministries disagree over whether to request a transition period for the abolition of duty-free shopping when Estonia joins the EU. The Foreign Ministry on 12 August stressed that Estonia will not seek a transition period and suggested it would be "difficult to expect such a concession" since EU members had acrimoniously fought over its abolition, BNS reported. However, Transport Minister Toivo Jurgenson said Estonia should seek a transition period for duty-free shopping, otherwise Estonian shipping lines would be threatened. MH POLISH CABINET DIVIDED OVER COAL MINING REFORM. The Council of Ministers Economics Committee (KERM) on 12 August rejected the Economics Ministry's changes to the coal mining restructuring plan adopted by the Polish government last year. The ministry proposes delaying the payment of coal industry debts and giving the sector more time to become profitable again. The KERM, however, wants to speed up laying off miners and reducing coal production. "This means firing 50,000 people by 2000, while there is no money for social cushions," Deputy Economics Minister Janusz Szlazak commented. He pledged to submit his own proposal for changes to the plan while bypassing the KERM. Solidarity said the same day that it will demand the dismissal of the cabinet if the KERM's proposal is implemented. JM POLISH POLICE CLASH WITH PROTESTING FARMERS. Police on 12 August used force and rubber bullets to remove 400 farmers from the governor's office in Olsztyn, northeastern Poland. The farmers, mainly from the radical Self-Defense farmers union, blocked the office and demanded that the government start intervention procurement of wheat, "Gazeta Wyborcza" reported. Thirteen policemen and six farmers were injured in the clash. JM WITNESS REFUSES TO TESTIFY IN CZECH INVESTIGATION OF 1968 TREASON. Vasil Bilak, former secretary-general of the Slovak Communist Party, has refused to testify in the investigation into Karel Hoffman's role in the August 1968 events, CTK reported on 12 August. That investigation was launched by the Czech Office for the Investigation of the Crimes of Communism. Hoffman, who at the time of the Warsaw Pact invasion of Czechoslovakia was a member of the Czechoslovak Communist Party Central Committee, is suspected of high treason in collusion with a foreign power for having ordered television and radio broadcasts to be switched off on the night of 20-21 August 1968. Bilak's lawyer in Bratislava told CTK that his client has "exercised his constitutional right not to testify," adding that Bilak knows Hoffman to be "an honest person who would have never damaged the interests of the former Czechoslovakia." MS SLOVAK PRESIDENT APPOINTS NEW TRANSPORT MINISTER. Rudolf Schuster on 12 August appointed Josef Macejko to succeed Gabriel Palacka as transportation minister, SITA reported. The same day, Deputy Transportation Minister Frantisek Kurej resigned. The Prime Minister's Office had earlier established that Kurej was responsible for irregularities in the privatization tender of Slovak Telcom. That tender was one of the factors that led to Palacka's resignation (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 10 and 11 August 1999). Meanwhile, Christian Democratic Party (KDH) chairman Jan Carnogursky, who was one of Palacka's harshest critics, said that although Macejko is a KDH member, the party was not consulted about the appointment and will take no responsibility for it. MS SLOVAK PARTY RUSHES TO CHAIRMAN MECIAR'S DEFENSE. The Movement for a Democratic Slovakia (HZDS) on 12 August said it is "outraged" by chief investigator Jaroslav Ivor's statement that HZDS chairman Vladimir Meciar might be asked to testify in the investigation into the 1995 abduction of former President Michal Kovac's son. HZDS spokesman Marian Kardos said Meciar has already said he had nothing to do with the abduction. MS SLOVAK FOREIGN MINISTER OPTIMISTIC ON JOINING EU 'FAST-TRACK' GROUP. Eduard Kukan on 12 August said he is optimistic about Slovakia's chances of soon joining the "fast track" group of EU candidates. Kukan said the recent law on the use of minority languages in contacts with the authorities has improved the country's prospects, SITA reported. He pointed out that EU member countries differ on their view of EU enlargement. Some are of the opinion that Slovakia, Latvia, and Lithuania must join the "fast track" group, while others argue this would create a "dividing line" that leaves out Romania and Bulgaria. A way out of this dilemma, he argued, might be to "lift the status" of all candidates and let economic performance decide which countries join. MS HUNGARIAN OFFICIAL PRESENTS VOJVODINA AUTONOMY PLAN. Tibor Szabo, chairman of the Office for Hungarians Beyond Borders, told MTI on 12 August that during his current visit to Washington, he presented a plan for Vojvodina's autonomy to Steve Flanagan, special assistant to the president and senior adviser on Central and East European affairs on the National Security Council. Szabo said the government in Budapest "fully supports" the plan, which was worked out by six Hungarian organizations from the region, but acknowledged that Washington "has not made any decision to support the idea of autonomy for Vojvodina." He said that Flanagan promised the plan will be "carefully scrutinized." Later the same day, Szabo told a forum of U.S. citizens of Hungarian origin in Washington that the U.S. has "shown interest" in the idea of autonomy. MS HUNGARY LEADS FIELD IN CAPITAL INFLOW. Hungary is leading the field in per capita inflow of foreign capital, "Vilaggazdasag" reported on 12 August, citing figures recently published by the OECD. Between 1990 and 1998, capital worth some $17.193 billion flowed into the country, putting Hungary ahead of the Czech Republic, South Korea, Ireland, and Japan. Poland is ahead in terms of total volume with $23 billion, but on a per capita basis Hungary, which has a population of 10 million, ranks higher, MTI reported. MS U.S. SURVEY SAYS TOO MANY COMMANDERS IN HUNGARIAN ARMY. According to a U.S. survey commissioned by the Defense Ministry, the Hungarian army has too many colonels and lieutenant-colonels and too few non- commissioned officers, MTI reported on 12 August, citing the daily "Magyar Nemzet." The survey said that under the current system, there is no guarantee that promotion is based on performance or educational achievement. MS SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE THACI PROPOSES APPOINTING PROVISIONAL LEGISLATURE. Kosova Liberation Army (UCK) leader Hashim Thaci told Vienna's "Die Presse" of 13 August that Kosova must have laws that meet international standards before elections can take place. He argued that a "consultative and executive" body for all Kosovars could function as a provisional legislature to pass the laws, but he did not elaborate. Thaci added that a future elected parliament will have to approve legislation passed by that body for those laws to remain valid. He again criticized the UN civil courts for using the Yugoslav and Serbian penal and civil codes, which he had earlier called "undemocratic laws." FS KOSOVAR ALBANIANS HOLD MORE PROTESTS AGAINST RUSSIAN PEACEKEEPERS. About 2,000 ethnic Albanians demonstrated against Russian peacekeepers in Kamenica on 12 August. The protesters jeered at and beat on vehicles of Russian KFOR soldiers. No other incidents were reported. A Russian soldier told Reuters that "we just try to endure it, turn our head away sometimes. We've got used to this. It happens every day. It's mostly kids, not many adults." Organizers denied they were from the UCK and identified themselves as members of a local "council of civic-minded Albanians." FS BRITISH KFOR INJURE TWO ALBANIAN CRIMINALS AFTER CAR CHASE. British soldiers arrested four ethnic Albanians and injured two of them in a shoot-out following a car chase near Vernica on 12 August. A fifth escaped. The four are suspected of having intimidated local Serbs. The soldiers said that they had advance warning that ethnic Albanians would launch an attack on local Serbs that day. FS KOSOVAR STUDENT LEADER HELD IN SERBIAN PRISON. The Serbian authorities continue to hold some 2,270 ethnic Albanians in several prisons in Serbia, the Institute for War and Peace Reporting's "Balkan Crisis Report" noted on 10 August. Another 1,500 Kosovars are missing and presumed imprisoned. Among the imprisoned are Albin Kurti, a well-known Prishtina University student leader and pacifist. He became radicalized during the Serbian crackdown of 1998 and served as press spokesman for senior nationalist politician Adem Demaci, who was the UCK's political representative. Also imprisoned is human rights activist Flora Brovina. Her son told "Balkan Crisis Report" that she has become partly paralyzed while in detention. Officials of the International Committee of the Red Cross have frequently expressed regret that the June peace agreement did not oblige Serbian authorities to release or provide information about Kosovars held in Serbian jails. PM MILOSEVIC RESHUFFLES YUGOSLAV CABINET. Prime Minister Momir Bulatovic on 12 August removed Deputy Prime Minister Zoran Lilic and seven ministers from the cabinet. Bulatovic announced the appointment of two new deputy prime ministers and 11 ministers. Vojislav Seselj's xenophobic Serbian Radical Party has five of the new posts. Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic's Socialists received three, as did his wife's hard-line United Yugoslav Left (JUL). The small Serbian People's Party of Montenegro was given one of the new posts. Cedomir Mirkovic, who is a minister without portfolio, belongs to a small party called New Democracy (ND). A party spokesman said that the ND has called for Milosevic to resign and that Mirkovic has "excluded himself" from the party by accepting a cabinet post, "Danas" reported. PM HARD-LINERS CONSOLIDATE POSITION IN BELGRADE. All members of the incoming and outgoing Yugoslav governments are on a Western list of 308 top officials barred from receiving Western visas, Reuters reported on 12 August. Ever since Milosevic lost Kosova in June, observers have expected a cabinet reshuffle aimed at reinforcing the position of the hard-liners. This is the first time that the Radicals have served in the Yugoslav cabinet. Goran Matic, who is the new information secretary, belongs to JUL and is known for his outspoken criticism of the non-state media. The ousted Lilic recently called for Serbia to learn to "speak the language" of the international community (see "RFE/RL Balkan Report," 10 August 1999). He now becomes an adviser to Milosevic on foreign economic relations. PM DEMOCRATIC PARTY SLAMS YUGOSLAV CABINET. The opposition Democrats said in a statement in Belgrade on 12 August that the new cabinet represents "nothing new and nothing good.... With this move, the regime has sent several messages. To the world it is saying 'forget about any cooperation with Yugoslavia,' and to its citizens it is saying that they will face a difficult winter and further impoverishment, without heating and electricity," Reuters reported. Milosevic, for his part, told the new government that "our aim is to continue successfully with the process of current reforms, contribute to an accelerated pace of economic development and increase productivity and living standards." PM GENERAL PERISIC SAYS MILOSEVIC MUST GO. Former General Momcilo Perisic told a Belgrade press conference on 12 August that the first goal of his new Movement for a Democratic Serbia is to oust Milosevic (see "RFE/RL Balkan Report," 10 August 1999). He stressed that Milosevic "has made Serbia's territory shrink and its people die." The current leadership has "no more right whatsoever to represent us and lead us," Perisic added. He argued that the opposition has "not done much to change things." For that reason, he continued, he founded his own "political movement" instead of joining an existing one. When a reporter asked the former general about his role in the shelling of the Croatian port of Zadar in 1991, Perisic responded that he was "defending a still existing country against rebels." A Croatian court has sentenced him to 20 years in prison in conjunction with the shelling. Many Bosnians regard him as a war criminal for his role in the shelling of Mostar in the 1992-1995 war. PM SERBIAN PENSIONERS STAGE PROTEST. Some 1,000 retired persons demonstrated in Belgrade on 12 August to protest their low living standards and to demand Milosevic's resignation. A spokesman for the group called on pensioners to join the opposition's anti-Milosevic gathering in Belgrade on 19 August, RFE/RL's South Slavic Service reported. PM VOJVODINA'S HUNGARIANS TO SET UP PROVISIONAL COUNCIL. A Provisional Council of Hungarians in Vojvodina will be formed on 20 August, Hungarian media reported on 13 August. The council is to be set up on the basis of the three-pronged autonomy concept drawn up by six of the region's Hungarian organizations, according to Laszlo Jozsa, deputy chairman of the Vojvodina Hungarian Federation (VMSZ). It will have 54 members representing the federal, republican, and provincial parliaments and one-fifth of its members will be local council representatives. The VMSZ has informed Hungarian Foreign Minister Janos Martonyi of its intentions, but the Hungarian cabinet has not responded to the announcement, Jozsa said. MS CROATIAN SERBIAN LEADER BLASTS 'LYNCHING.' Milorad Pupovac, who is a key leader of Croatia's Serbian minority, said in Zagreb on 12 August that the recent killing of Djuro Mutic was deliberate and ethnically motivated, "Novi List" reported (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 12 August 1999). Pupovac noted that no Croatian authority ever accused Mutic of crimes against Croats during the 1991-1995 conflict. The Serbian leader stressed that "everyone in Croatia should be concerned" if Mutic's "lynching" was part of a campaign to expel Serbs from Croatia. He did not elaborate, except to say that the killing was probably the work of more than a few people. PM UNHCR PAYS MACEDONIA $4.4 MILLION FOR REFUGEE ACCOMMODATION. UNHCR and Macedonian government officials signed an agreement on 12 August whereby the UNHCR will pay Macedonia $4.4 million for expenses the country incurred during this year's refugee crisis. The Macedonian government will receive $1.2 million immediately and the rest in installments. Additional UNHCR assistance to Macedonia includes 13 jeeps and unspecified quantities of radio and fire-fighting equipment. A UNHCR spokesman stressed that the UNHCR usually does not compensate host countries but makes exceptions in some cases. Macedonia took in a total of 360,000 refugees from Kosova. FS FIRST MODERN MOVIE HOUSE OPENS IN ALBANIA. Culture Minister Edi Rama opened the first modern movie house in Albania on 12 August, dpa reported. Rama stressed that the opening of the movie house, jointly financed by a private investor and the government, "is a very important event in the cultural and social life of the country." An unclear privatization policy and the absence of government support led to the closure of more than 300 communist-era movie houses throughout Albania since 1991. Many became bingo halls, and only one cinema remained in the capital, showing primarily pornography. FS ALBANIAN LEGISLATIVE REFORM MINISTER RESIGNS. Arben Imami resigned on 12 August "for personal reasons," dpa reported. According to earlier press reports, Imami plans to study law in the U.S. He played a leading role in drafting Albania's post-communist constitution. FS MOLDOVAN PRISONER IN TRANSDNIESTER ACCUSES PRESIDENT LUCINSCHI. Andrei Ivantoc, a member of the "Ilascu group" imprisoned in the Transdniester since 1992, has accused President Petru Lucinschi and Ion Sturza's cabinet of neglecting the fate of the group. In a 29 July letter that only recently reached Chisinau, Ivantoc said he has been on a hunger strike for 77 days, has lost half of his body weight, and is convinced he will die, RFE/RL's Chisinau bureau reported. He explained that he went on a hunger strike to protest the Tiraspol authorities' "systematic mistreatment" of the group. Ivantoc added that Lucinschi "cynically used" the Ilascu group's ordeals in his 1996 electoral campaign and later wrote to Ilascu saying he hopes to see him in Chisinau "by Christmas 2001." Ivantoc argued that Lucinschi "would probably like to use [the group] once more in his 2000 presidential campaign." MS BULGARIAN DEPUTY PREMIER ROBBED BY BODYGUARD. Bulgarian police on 12 August said they have arrested Chief Sergeant Kiril Alexandrov of the National Bodyguard Service for theft, AP reported. Alexandrov admitted stealing the equivalent of $120 from the apartment of Deputy Premier Evgeni Bakardzhiev, to whom he had been assigned. That amount equals the average monthly salary in Bulgaria. MS END NOTE DEPENDING ON FOREIGN INVESTMENT By Paul Goble Post-communist countries that have relied on foreign investment to power their economic recovery frequently find themselves in difficulty when investors turn away. More serious, those that have been able to show relatively high rates of growth in the past as a result of such investment sometimes have allowed that achievement to justify avoiding the hard choices necessary to make growth self-sustaining on the basis of domestic production. That is what appears to be happening in Estonia, a country whose economic performance over the last eight years has been among the best of the post-communist world but one that now faces declining rates of growth and rising unemployment. Last week, Kersti Kaljulaid, economics adviser to the country's prime minister, said Estonia needs dramatically higher rates of foreign investment if it is to escape from a mounting economic crisis. That is because its domestic economy is still too weak to power a recovery, she said. But more important, as Kaljulaid herself acknowledged, "foreign investment has been this economy's main motor for years.... Even though the economy went into a standstill last year, we still saw record levels" of outside investment. Now, however, outside investment may be about to fall as well. The IMF recently refused to back additional investment there and other investors may follow suit. If that happens, Estonia, which has been on the fast track toward EU membership, could find itself in both economic and political difficulties. Because of Estonia's favorable geographic location and its business-friendly government, foreign investment earlier flowed into the country at impressive rates. A few years ago, for example, foreign investment in Estonia was equal to or even greater than that in the Russian Federation, a country that has a population 100 times larger. That pattern allowed Estonia to post economic figures far better than most post-Soviet states. But it also lulled some in the Estonian government to conclude that the good times, powered by outside investment, would continue without interruption. Some Estonian leaders, however, had called attention to such overreliance on foreign investment. In a speech earlier this year, for example, President Lennart Meri pointedly asked "Where is Estonia's Nokia?" in a reference to the Finnish electronics firm that has contributed so much to Estonia's economic expansion. Meri's speech sparked a debate in Estonia's media over whether and when Estonia could develop an industrial base that would drive its economy forward even when foreign investment slowed. Some participants in that discussion suggested that Estonia should rely on its geographic position to become a bridge between Russia and the West and earn its way as a trading center. But other Estonians objected that such a strategy would leave Tallinn at the mercy of the vagaries of Moscow politics. Others suggested that Estonia should develop its traditional industries, including fishing and food processing. But their arguments brought the response that such industries would not be sufficient to support high rates of growth for long. And still others said that Estonia should exploit its remarkably extensive computer network to become an information center for northern Europe. But again there were replies that such a strategy would not be sufficient, given the lead that West Europeans now have in that area. As a result, this debate petered out with no answer to Meri's question or a broader discussion on the needs for domestic entrepreneurism. However, the current economic crisis, which was brought on by levels of foreign investment that are no longer sufficient to power growth, seems certain to reopen these discussions. Whether Estonia can find an answer--its own Nokia, in other words--remains very much an open question. But unless it does, Estonia and Estonians are likely to find themselves far more dependent on the international economy than they would like and thus far less independent as a state than they clearly want. 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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