|It is easier to love humanity than to love one's neighbor. - Eric Hoffer|
RFE/RL NEWSLINE Vol. 3, No. 173, Part II, 6 September 1999
___________________________________________________________ RFE/RL NEWSLINE Vol. 3, No. 173, Part II, 6 September 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 * WORLD BANK APPROVES $100 MILLION LOAN TO UKRAINE * VIOLENCE CONTINUES THROUGHOUT KOSOVA * SERBIAN 'CITIZENS' PARLIAMENTS' LINK UP xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx EAST-CENTRAL EUROPE BELARUSIAN OPPOSITION PICKETS RUSSIAN EMBASSY OVER INTEGRATION. Some 20 members of the Belarusian Popular Front (BNF) picketed the Russian Embassy in Minsk for four days last week, protesting official Minsk's integration policy. "The Belarusians have made their choice and do not want to return to the Eurasian empire anymore. There is no place in Russia for Belarusian culture and spirituality in general," the protesters said in a petition to the Russian government. In another petition, the BNF urged the U.S. government not to allow the "incorporation" of Belarus into Russia. "A loss of our independence would lead to disastrous consequences in the center of Europe," the document warned. JM WORLD BANK APPROVES $100 MILLION LOAN TO UKRAINE. The World Bank has approved a $100 million loan to Ukraine, which is to be released this week as part of a $300 million aid package, Ukrainian Television reported on 4 September. Prime Minister Valeriy Pustovoytenko said the cabinet will use the loan to pay off some wage and pension arrears. The World Bank's decision is a good news for Ukraine ahead of the 7 September IMF meeting to decide on a $180 million tranche of a $2.6 billion loan program to Ukraine. JM SLOVAK FOREIGN MINISTER IN KYIV. Eduard Kukan was in Kyiv last week to meet with his Ukrainian counterpart, Borys Tarasyuk, and President Leonid Kuchma, Ukrainian and Slovak media reported. Both sides agreed to hold an "honest competition" for the one temporary position on the UN Security Council in 2000-2001. Kukan said both sides are also interested in ending the "trade and economic stagnation" between their countries. The two leaders agreed to set up a working group to examine the Slovak plan to introduce visa requirements for Ukrainians visiting Slovakia. Bratislava has taken no decision on this issue, but Kukan commented that Slovakia's visa policy must be harmonized with EU norms. JM UKRAINIAN INDEPENDENT TELEVISION SUED FOR TAX EVASION. The State Tax Administration has sued the independent television station STB for evading taxes, overestimating its expenses, and concealing incomes, AP and the "Eastern Economic Daily" reported. According to the tax administration, STB paid 19,000 hryvni ($4,200) in taxes on advertisement income in June, instead of some 1 million hryvni. STB denies these accusations, saying tax inspectors have incorrectly calculated its income. It claims that both the tax inspections and the freezing of its bank account (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 30 August 1999)are intended to put pressure on the station ahead of the presidential election. JM KUCHMA'S MAJOR RIVAL TO RECEIVE MEDICAL TREATMENT IN GERMANY. Former speaker Oleksandr Moroz, a major candidate in the 31 October presidential elections, has left for Germany to undergo medical treatment, Moroz's election staff reported on 3 September. Ukrainian media reported that Moroz is suffering from kidney problems. JM GERMAN FOREIGN MINISTER MEETS BALTIC COUNTERPARTS. Joschka Fischer met with his Baltic counterparts--Toomas Hendrik Ilves (Estonia), Indulis Berzins (Latvia), and Algirdas Saudargas (Lithuania)--on 3 September in Tallinn. Their talks focused on EU enlargement, and Fischer reaffirmed Germany's support to the EU bids of all three countries, ETA reported. With regard to Latvia and Lithuania being included in the fast-track group for EU membership, Fischer said he "hopes the EU's December summit in Helsinki will bring the awaited result." In addition, Fischer stressed Germany's support for NATO's open-door policy. Bilateral meetings were also held between Fischer and the three Baltic ministers. MH SURPRISING SECOND QUARTER RESULT FOR ESTONIA. Estonia's GDP in the second quarter of 1999 fell by 2.4 percent, according to preliminary data from the Statistical Department. That figure came as a surprise since most analysts had predicted a drop of 3-4 percent. After the release of this latest data, analysts quickly explained that Estonia has turned around its economy following the Russian economic collapse. "It seems that the bottom has been reached and the figures will start improving," Jelena Normak, an analyst with Uhispank, was quoted by ETA as saying. First quarter GDP dropped by 5.6 percent. MH PRIVATIZATION OF LATVIAN SHIPPING COMPANY STALLS AGAIN. Economics Minister Vladimirs Makarovs has blasted the draft privatisation conditions for the Latvian Shipping Company. Accusing the Latvian Privatisation Agency of producing a document full of errors, Makarovs said "the question is [whether] this is negligence or purposeful action so the regulations don't work," BNS reported. Immediately the Privatisation Agency delayed the review of the sell-off. Agency head Janis Naglis noted that this postponement will jeopardize the completion of the shipping company's privatization this year. MH GERMANY CHANCELLOR BACKS POLAND'S 'AMBITIOUS' EU ENTRY BID. Gerhard Schroeder said in Warsaw on 3 September that Poland's goal to join the EU in 2003 is "ambitious" but that Germany will do everything possible to make this date a reality. Schroeder, meeting with Premier Jerzy Buzek and President Aleksander Kwasniewski, voiced his "sorrow and shame" over Nazi Germany's attack on Poland 60 years ago. JM POLISH FARMERS MARK HARVEST FESTIVAL, ANNOUNCE PROTEST. Some 100,000 farmers attended this year's harvest festival at the Jasna Gora shrine in Czestochowa on 5 September. Premier Jerzy Buzek told the farmers that the government's "pact for the countryside" currently being drawn up "augurs a good future for agriculture." Meanwhile, radical farmers' leader Andrzej Lepper said the previous day that he expects 100,000 people to take part in a demonstration scheduled in Warsaw for 24 September. "This is not a question of changing the government or reconstructing it, this is a question of changing [the country's] social and economic policy," he noted. JM CZECH OPPOSITION LEADER ADVISES PREMIER TO SEEK 'TREATMENT.' Responding to Prime Minister Milos Zeman's 3 September statement, Freedom Union Deputy Chairman Karel Kuehnl said that if the premier fails to apologize to his party, the public will conclude that the premier "normally lies, is afraid to face the consequences of his own words, and therefore shows a great deal of political cowardice." In such a case, Kuehnl said, one way out for Zeman would be to resign in order to "undergo certain treatment." Zeman said in his 3 September statement that he suspects the Freedom Union to be behind the so-called Bamberg affair (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 1 September 1999). Zeman told journalists that his suspicions are based on the fact that at the time the affair was publicized, Freedom Union leader Jan Ruml was interior minister, CTK reported. MS SLOVAKIA, ROMANIA RULE OUT TERRITORIAL AUTONOMY FOR ETHNIC MINORITIES. Romanian Premier Radu Vasile said on 3 September during a three-day visit to Slovakia said there are "many similarities" between the two countries' policies toward national minorities. He noted that both Romania and Slovakia recently approved laws making possible the use of minority languages in contacts with the authorities. And he said that "Romania, just like Slovakia, does not accept the possibility of allowing territorial autonomy" for ethnic minorities, Radio Twist reported. Also on 3 September, Vasile and his Slovak counterpart, Mikulas Dzurinda, signed an agreement on cooperation in tourism. The Romanian premier said he is dissatisfied with the level of bilateral trade and, in particular, with Romania's deficit in trade with Slovakia. He suggested that the deficit could be balanced by deliveries of Romanian-made ARO cars, Radio Bucharest and SITA reported. MS OSCE COMMISSIONER LAUDS SLOVAK MINORITY LANGUAGE LAW. At the end of his two-day visit to Slovakia, OSCE Commissioner on National Minorities Max van der Stoel told journalists that the new Slovak law on the use of minority languages in contacts with the authorities is "a considerable step forward" and is likely to improve relations between ethnic minorities and the Slovak majority, SITA reported. Van der Stoel heard complaints about the law's shortcomings from Hungarian Coalition Party leader Bela Bugar, while Movement for a Democratic Slovakia Chairman Vladimir Meciar criticized the legislation, saying the law gives minorities wider rights than elsewhere and encourages Hungarian "irredentism." Van der Stoel also discussed the situation of the Roma minority with Prime Minister Dzurinda and Pal Csaky, deputy premier in charge of minority affairs. MS SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE VIOLENCE CONTINUES THROUGHOUT KOSOVA. Unidentified attackers fired a rocket-propelled grenade at a truck on a road near Mitrovica on 5 September, killing the ethnic Albanian driver and injuring a woman, AP reported. The previous day, attackers fired a similar grenade at a city bus near Gjilan, injuring two ethnic Albanians. Unidentified people killed three Serbs in the village of Musutisht, near Prishtina. In Peja, unidentified attackers fired anti-tank rockets at the building of the Serbian Orthodox Patriarchate but missed their target. In Dobrotin, south of Prishtina, other unidentified persons fired seven mortar rounds into an unspecified neighborhood. On 3 September, a young ethnic Serb was killed in an explosion in Prishtina, while five ethnic Albanians, including three children, were injured in the apparent attack. The Serb who died was known locally for his good relations with ethnic Albanians, Reuters reported. FS KOUCHNER CALLS ON KOSOVA CITIZENS TO 'BREAK THE LAW OF SILENCE.' UN Special Representative Bernard Kouchner said in Prishtina on 4 September that "we will not accept the return of blind violence against innocent people." He called on all citizens to "break the law of silence" by coming forward with information leading to the arrest of criminals. General Agim Ceku, who heads the Kosova Liberation Army's (UCK) General Staff, also condemned the attack in Prishtina, Reuters reported. FS KOSOVA SERB LEADER WANTS KOUCHNER TO GO. Momcilo Trajkovic told the Belgrade daily "Blic" of 5 September that Kouchner should leave Kosova. Trajkovic, who along with Serbian Orthodox Archbishop Artemije is one of the top leaders of Kosova's Serbian minority, said Kouchner's unspecified "conduct and decisions excluded the Serbian side from any form of cooperation and joint work," AP reported. Trajkovic did not say whether he will withdraw from Kouchner's civilian advisory council. PM COMMANDER SAYS UCK MUST ADJUST TO PEACETIME. General Ceku told 3,000 mourners in Negrovc on 5 September that "we have finished our first mission, the liberation of Kosova. Our second mission is for life in freedom and for the independence of Kosova, but now we must bring ourselves into line with new [peacetime] conditions," AP reported. He was speaking at a graveside reburial ceremony for 34 civilians and 17 UCK fighters killed during the recent conflict. In Washington, Senator Joseph Biden said that KFOR and the UCK are close to a "face-saving" agreement that will transform the guerrillas into a civilian service organization, AP reported (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 3 September 1999). PM KFOR FINDS LARGE ARMS CACHE NEAR ALBANIAN BORDER. KFOR soldiers found an arms cache containing 250 Kalashnikov rifles, 50 heavy machine guns, as well as other arms and ammunition near Rogova on 3 September, AP reported. The village is located about 10 kilometers from the Albanian border. A KFOR spokesman did not disclose details about the origin of the weapons. FS VOJVODINA LEADER CHALLENGES DRASKOVIC TO DEBATE. Nenad Canak, who heads the League of Social Democrats of Vojvodina (LSV), said in Novi Sad that he wants to debate with Serbian Renewal Movement leader Vuk Draskovic on television, "Danas" reported on 6 September. Canak said that Draskovic has frequently made unsubstantiated charges against an alliance of opposition parties to which the LSV belongs. Canak called for the debate to take place on Studio B Television, "which is the only open and independent" television station. That station belongs to Draskovic. PM DRASKOVIC DENIES MEETING WITH RULING PARTIES. Draskovic said in Kragujevac that he has not met recently with any representatives of the ruling parties, "Danas" reported on 6 September. He said that unspecified charges that he has met with officials close to Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic are aimed at discrediting the opposition. Such charges, he added, only serve the interests of the regime. Observers note that many opposition supporters suspect that Draskovic has struck a secret agreement with Milosevic to support early elections. Most opposition parties oppose elections as long as Milosevic remains in power. PM SERBIAN 'CITIZENS' PARLIAMENTS' LINK UP. Representatives of at least nine self-declared opposition "popular assemblies" from different parts of Serbia held the first meeting of the Citizens' Parliament of Serbia in Cacak on 4 September, the Frankfurt-based Serbian daily "Vesti" reported. The new body will work to promote human rights and aid victims of repression. Spokesman Nebojsa Popov said that the new organization "is not a forum that passes resolutions and laws, nor is it a substitute for political parities, NGOs, local governments, or coordinating bodies. [Instead,] the Citizens' Parliament is the embryo of the most important democratic institution, namely the public." PM EU BACKING FOR OPPOSITION'S IDEALS, NOT POLITICIANS. EU foreign ministers agreed in Saariselka, Finland, on 4 September to support "the democratic values [that the Serbian opposition] represents," Finland's Tarja Halonen said. She stressed, however, that the EU does not support individual opposition politicians. She added that "elections in the present unsatisfactory conditions will not necessarily change anything" in Serbia. The ministers agreed on a document that encourages "constructive dialogue between Serbia and Montenegro" and does not endorse Montenegrin independence. Prior to the meeting, the EU lifted the embargo on oil deliveries and commercial flights to Montenegro and Kosova. All sanctions on Serbia remain in place. Germany's Joschka Fischer said in Saariselka: "As long as murderers are in power in Belgrade, how can there be a dialogue? The longer Milosevic remains in power, the more damage he will leave behind," AP reported. PM MONTENEGRO WELCOMES LIFTING OF SANCTIONS. Economics Minister Vojin Djukanovic told "Vesti" of 6 September that the lifting of sanctions will mean "fewer problems" for Montenegro. He called the EU's decision a vindication for Montenegro's policies. Djukanovic added that the decision is also a rebuke to Milosevic and his allies in Montenegro. PM HIGH-RANKING RUSSIAN DELEGATION VISITS BELGRADE. A Russian government delegation, headed by Deputy Prime Minister Aleksandr Avdeev and senior diplomat Boris Mayorskii, arrived in Belgrade on 5 September, AP reported. Avdeev and Mayorskii have scheduled talks with government officials and opposition leaders. Unidentified diplomatic sources told Interfax that the two will meet with Milosevic and unspecified "warlords." They also plan to hold talks with Draskovic and have a telephone conversation with Montenegrin President Milo Djukanovic. Avdeev and Mayorskii do not plan to visit Kosova. FS KLEIN: UN LOST NO MONEY IN BOSNIAN CORRUPTION. Jacques Klein, who is the UN's chief representative in Bosnia, said in Sarajevo on 5 September that the world organization did not lose any money in a recent Bosnian banking scandal (see "RFE/RL Bosnian Report," 24 August 1999). He stressed that the UN's bank is in New York and that UN agencies working in Bosnia closely monitor their finances, RFE/RL's South Slavic Service reported. Elsewhere, World Bank President James Wolfensohn sent a letter to the Bosnian government saying that the bank's programs will continue to stress the return of refugees to their former homes. PM SLOVENIAN TRUCKERS BLOCK ROADS. Some 450 truck drivers blocked roads linking Ljubljana with Koper, Nova Gorica, and Maribor on 6 September. They demand back wages and improved working conditions. The drivers also want the government to take measures to end what they call corruption in issuing permits to take goods abroad, AP reported. PM FORMER ROMANIAN PREMIER TO RUN FOR PRESIDENT. Victor Ciorbea, chairman of the Christian Democratic National Alliance (ANCD), announced on 4 September that he will run for president in 2000, RFE/RL's Bucharest bureau reported. He said the decision was taken earlier by his party's National Executive Bureau and will be submitted to the ANCD congress in November. MS CONTROVERSIAL ROMANIAN POLITICIAN LEAVES PARTY CHAIRMANSHIP. Viorel Catarama on 4 September announced he is "withdrawing" from the position of National Romanian Party (PNR) chairman. Catarama said his decision was prompted by the desire to avoid "tarnishing" the party's image in the wake of the developments surrounding the Elvila International company, which he heads. Elvila International failed to pay back loans granted by the recently liquidated Bancorex. Former Romanian Intelligence service chief Virgil Magureanu has been appointed acting PNR chairman. Magureanu said he will not run for the chairmanship at the extraordinary PNR congress that will be called to elect a new party leader. Meanwhile, PNR leader Ion Menciu was detained a few days earlier under suspicion of participating in an arms-smuggling ring led by Shimon Naor, an Israeli businessman of Romanian origin. MS MOLDOVAN PARTY PROPOSES 'COMPROMISE' ON PRESIDENTIAL SYSTEM. The formerly pro-presidential For a Democratic and Prosperous Moldova Bloc (PMDP) has proposed a "compromise" between introducing a presidential system, as intended by President Petru Lucinschi, and a parliamentary system, as advocated by Lucinschi's opponents. Under the PMDP's proposal, which was made public on 3 September, the president would be granted the power to appoint the ministers of foreign affairs, interior, and defense. The procedure for dissolving the parliament would be simplified and new elections called within 40 days, instead of three months, as is currently stipulated. At the same time, the proposal includes some measures aimed at strengthening the role of the legislature and the government vis-a-vis the president, RFE/RL's Chisinau bureau reported. MS SUSPECT IN BULGARIAN PREMIER'S MURDER EXTRADITED. Bulgarian businessman Angel Vasilev, who is suspected of having ordered the murder of former Prime Minister Andrei Lukanov in October 1996, was extradited from the Czech Republic on 3 September, BTA and CTK reported (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 16 August 1999). AFP cited the Bulgarian daily "Standart" as reporting that Vasiliev is suspected of having hired Lukanov's assassins for $100,000. Vasiliev's construction company was part of the Orion group, which Bulgarian prosecutors suspect of having misappropriated funds from several banks. In 1996, Lukanov, who had been premier for six months in 1990, denounced his own Socialist Party in the parliament for giving Orion preferential treatment in contracts. At that time, Orion was close to then Premier Zhan Videnov. Vasiliev left Bulgaria in 1998, after his company ran up a $5.6 million debt to a bank that later went bankrupt. MS BULGARIAN PROSECUTOR DENIES OPPOSITION DEPUTY BEATEN IN DETENTION. Hristo Angelov has denied that Euro-Left deputy Tsvetelin Kanchev was beaten up by police in his Sofia prison cell. Angelov told Bulgarian Radio on 3 September that Kanchev mutilated himself while in custody and was taken to a military hospital, where doctors established that he did not require treatment. Kanchev's parliamentary immunity was lifted in late July on suspicion of extortion, robbery, and battery (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 2 August 1999). Euro-Left deputy Georgi Dilkov-Lorda earlier told BTA that Kanchev had been badly beaten and that medical experts suspect brain concussion and groin injury. MS xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx Copyright (c) 1999 RFE/RL, Inc. 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