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RFE/RL NEWSLINE Vol. 3, No. 175, Part II, 8 September 1999
___________________________________________________________ RFE/RL NEWSLINE Vol. 3, No. 175, Part II, 8 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 * IMF APPROVES RELEASE OF $184 MILLION TRANCHE TO UKRAINE * SERBIAN GENERAL THREATENS TO RETAKE KOSOVA BY FORCE * OSCE OPENS POLICE ACADEMY IN KOSOVA End Note: TRANSYLVANIA'S 'COSI FAN TUTTE' xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx EAST-CENTRAL EUROPE RUSSIA'S PUTIN IN BELARUS TO DISCUSS INTEGRATION. Russian Premier Vladimir Putin arrived in Minsk on 8 September to chair a session of the Belarus-Russian Union Executive Committee. "Regardless of any domestic problems in Russia and regardless of who heads the government, Russia's policy toward Belarus remains unchanged," Belapan quoted Putin as saying on his arrival. It is expected that Putin will discuss economic integration issues with Premier Syarhey Linh and a draft union treaty with President Alyaksandr Lukashenka. JM IMF APPROVES RELEASE OF $184 MILLION TRANCHE TO UKRAINE. The IMF on 7 September approved the release of an $184 million tranche to Ukraine after the fund completed its third review of the country's economic policy under a three-year $2.6 billion loan program, dpa reported. IMF First Deputy Managing Director Stanley Fischer commented that the IMF Board of Directors noted that so far in 1999 macroeconomic developments have exceeded expectations and that fiscal adjustment has been encouraging. Meanwhile, National Bank head Viktor Yushchenko said Ukraine will be able to pay off its mounting foreign debts in 2000 provided the parliament approves a deficit-free budget and the IMF continues its financial aid. JM UKRAINIAN PARLIAMENTARY SPEAKER BLASTS KUCHMA. Opening the parliament's fall session on 7 September, speaker Oleksandr Tkachenko accused President Leonid Kuchma of using improper measures against his rivals ahead of the 31 October presidential ballot. "The government has grown into the incumbent's campaign headquarters," Tkachenko said, adding that regional authorities were told to work for Kuchma's re- election. The media, he continued, are used by the government to spread "false information" about other candidates. During its current session, the parliament intends to consider 490 draft laws, including the 2000 draft budget as well as budget and tax codes. Since 13 presidential candidates are parliamentary deputies, it is widely expected that the session will be turbulent. JM LATVIAN PRESIDENT IN LITHUANIA. Vaira Vike-Freiberga paid a two-day visit to Lithuania on 6-7 September. She met with Lithuanian President Valdas Adamkus to discuss EU and NATO integration as well as bilateral ties. The two presidents voiced the hope that the EU will begin accession negotiations with their countries. They also discussed the lagging maritime border agreement between Latvia and Lithuania (see below), but ELTA noted that the controversial Butinge oil terminal did not feature in the talks. Vike-Freiberga also met with Lithuanian Prime Minister Rolandas Paksas and Foreign Minister Algirdas Saudargas. MH LATVIAN-LITHUANIAN MARITIME BORDER PACT IN TROUBLE? The Latvian parliament's Economic Committee has voted against ratification of the Latvian-Lithuanian maritime border treaty, BNS reported on 7 September. ELTA noted that the committee argued the agreement is not in Latvia's economic interests. Latvian President Vike-Freiberga regretted the unfortunate timing of the decision, which was made while she was in Lithuania, but voiced optimism that agreement will soon be reached. Lithuanian President Adamkus noted that the lack of an agreement on the issue is the only thing overshadowing relations between Latvia and Lithuania," BNS reported. Latvian Foreign Minister Indulis Berzins and a large number of Latvian lawmakers also expressed their support for the border treaty, which was signed earlier this summer in Palanga (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 12 July 1999). MH POLAND'S LEFTIST TRADE UNIONS WANTS CHANGE OF CABINET. The National Trade Union Alliance (OPZZ), Solidarity's left-wing rival, has called on all those dissatisfied with Jerzy Buzek's cabinet to take part in an anti-government demonstration in Warsaw on 24 September (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 6 September and 27 August 1999). According to the OPZZ, the government "has exhausted the possibilities of ruling and is in a state of permanent crisis." The alliance also criticized the government's proposals for changing the tax rates as well as its property restitution bill and 2000 budget draft. "This government will not change itself--so let us change the government," the OPZZ urged. JM PREMIER FORESEES DIFFICULT NEGOTIATIONS ON POLAND'S EU BID. Jerzy Buzek told the parliament on 8 September that the country is ready for "tough" negotiations on joining the EU by 2003, AP reported. Buzek said that by the end of November, Poland will complete all the required 30 reports on various issues regarding EU membership, and he stressed that the 2003 entry date is attainable. According to Buzek, his parliamentary address launched a nationwide dialogue on EU entry. That dialogue will conclude with a referendum, presumably in 2002. JM POLISH CABINET AGREES TO RESTRUCTURE STATE RAILWAY. Transport Minister Tadeusz Syryjczyk said on 7 September that the government has approved a plan to restructure the state-owned railway (PKP), Poland's largest employer. Under that plan, the PKP will be divided into a company responsible for the trains and another for the tracks. Strategic investors will be required for both companies. "Rzeczpospolita" said some 59,000 workers out of the 204,000 currently employed by the PKP may be laid off by 2003. The plan also provides for severance payments of up to 30,000 zlotys ($7,500) for those who lose their jobs. JM CZECH EU NEGOTIATOR SAYS ENTRY IN 2003 STILL POSSIBLE. After meeting with European Commission chief negotiator Francois Lamoureux in Prague on 7 September, Deputy Foreign Minister Pavel Telicka said he expects the commission's October report to be "critical" of the Czech Republic. Telicka said the target accession date 2003 is "ambitious" but "not unrealistic," CTK reported. He added that it is "not enough" to pass laws in line with EU legislation but also to implement them. The commission, he said, is interested to see how the courts will apply the laws on protecting intellectual property and combating corruption as well as anti-monopoly legislation. MS CZECH POLICEMAN INVOLVED IN RACIST INCIDENT. A police cadet is to be dismissed and faces a prison term for requesting donations to "exterminate Gypsies", CTK and AP reported. The drunken cadet tried to collect the money in a cafe in Novy Jicin, 350 kilometers east of Prague, on 4 September. A local policeman who said he would not support racists suffered brain concussion after the cadet attacked him. On 7 September, Romany representatives at a meeting with OSCE officials in Vienna threatened another mass exodus if persecution of Romany minorities in European countries is not ended. Czech Romany activist Ondrej Gina said the planned construction of a wall in Usti nad Labem will "become an impulse for further migration" and signals that "we are not welcome in the Czech Republic." MS HUNGARIAN DAILY'S STAFF COMPLAIN ABOUT POLICE QUESTIONING. Andras Banki, chief editor of "Vilaggazdasag," and two of his staff members have filed a complaint with the Prosecutor- General's Office after police questioned them for several hours on 7 September on suspicion of disclosing banking secrets. Last week, the newspaper published a list of Postabank's "'VIP account holders" (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 3 September 1999). The three journalists told police that the list was mailed by an unidentified person. MSZ SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE SERBIAN GENERAL THREATENS TO RETAKE KOSOVA BY FORCE. General Vladimir Lazarevic told the independent weekly "Nedeljni Telegraf" of 8 September that "the refusal of the international community to fulfill its obligations according to the [Kosova peace] agreement [leads the Serbian authorities to conclude] that we will have to retake our territory by force." He added that NATO has turned Kosova into an "occupation zone," AP reported. "This state has a right to protect its own territory and people. We are ready," the general stressed. Lazarevic noted that the army is "constantly deliberating its reengagement" in the province and is only "awaiting for the appropriate command" from the authorities. PM EXPLOSIONS ROCK U.S. SECTOR IN KOSOVA. A NATO spokesman said in Prishtina on 8 September that two persons were killed and four injured in a "series of explosions" in the Gjilan area the previous night. He did not specify the nationality of the victims, AP reported. PM ATTACKERS TRY TO BLOW UP CHAPEL IN KOSOVA. A Serbian Orthodox school chapel in Prizren was damaged by unidentified attackers who exploded five antitank mines on 6 September, Reuters reported. The attackers had placed a total of 20 mines around the chapel but 15 did not explode. In Vushtrri, a French soldiers stopped a man from setting fire to a church. The arsonist then shot at the soldier, slightly injuring him before fleeing. The church was only slightly damaged. In eastern Kosova, Russian KFOR soldiers found a Serbian man who had been shot dead on his tractor. And near Peja, unidentified attackers threw a grenade at a Serbian house. No one was injured. FS OSCE OPENS POLICE ACADEMY IN KOSOVA. Sven Fredrikson, the Danish chief of the international police force in Kosova, inaugurated the Kosova police academy in Vushtrri on 7 September. The academy will be directed by Steve Bennett, a former U.S. marine. The first 200 cadets are 166 Albanians, 26 Serbs, and eight members of other ethnic communities. Forty of the students are women. Only one Serb attended the opening ceremony, "The New York Times" reported. There were 19,000 applicants for positions at the academy. The academy will eventually train between 3,500 and 4,000 police officers. Fredrikson told the students: "You must understand that without justice for everyone there will not be justice for anyone. You are the future, you'll protect the weak and innocent." FS DJINDJIC SEEKS PROTECTION FOR KOSOVA SERBS. Serbian Democratic Party leader Zoran Djindjic said during a visit to Bucharest on 7 September that the international community must take steps to protect Serbs living in Kosova and to enable refugees to return. He added: "It is not safe to be in [Kosova] now as non-Albanian citizen. We expect the international community to take the initiative to bring back 200,000 Serbs to [the province] to have a multi-ethnic, not an ethnically-cleansed [Kosova], this time done by the Albanian side," Reuters reported. Djindjic stressed that NATO does not need more troops but rather "a different kind of involvement." He did not elaborate. PM AVDEEV MEETS MILOSEVIC... Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Aleksandr Avdeev met with Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic in Belgrade on 7 September, AP reported. Milosevic's office issued a statement after the meeting saying that "Russia supports Yugoslavia in its principled efforts and condemns violations of the UN Security Council resolution [on Kosova].... The greatest threat to a political solution...and the stabilization of relations in the region is the unhindered continuation of crimes by Albanian bandit groups." The statement also called on KFOR to combat "terrorism, lawlessness, and crime" and urged an end to the "ethnic cleansing" of Serbs in Kosova. Milosevic is wanted by the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia for masterminding war crimes in Kosova. Avdeev is the highest-ranking foreign official to meet with Milosevic since the end of the Kosova war. FS ...AND SESELJ. Avdeev also met with ultranationalist Serbian Deputy Prime Minister Vojislav Seselj in Belgrade on 7 September. AP quoted Tanjug as saying that the two had a "lengthy and friendly discussion" and condemned "efforts by some Western countries to create an international protectorate" in Kosova. Avdeev told ITAR-TASS after the meetings that "we voiced the need to draw lessons from the [Kosova] tragedy. It would be a pity if politicians are the last to do that." FS SERBIAN UNIONS CALL FOR GENERAL STRIKE. A spokesman for the Association of Independent Trade Unions said in Belgrade on 7 September that it will launch a general strike in conjunction with the mass protests slated for 21 September in Belgrade and 20 other cities and towns. The spokesman urged "artists, scholars, self-employed people, and unemployed persons" to support the strike, "Danas" reported. In Serbian usage, a general strike usually means a series of work stoppages rather than an attempt to shut down all businesses. PM LEADING SERBIAN BANKER WARNS OF INFLATION. Dragoslav Avramovic said in Belgrade on 7 September that the authorities' recent decision to raise the prices of 700 consumer items by some 30 to 40 percent could lead to a renewal of the hyperinflation that he stopped when he headed the National Bank in 1994. Avramovic noted that the system he put in place "was based on low wages and low prices of staples and electricity. Now this has been disrupted," "Danas" reported. PM BOSNIAN SERB OFFICERS TO GO ABROAD ONLY WITH GUARANTEE. Manojlo Milovanovic, who is the Republika Srpska's defense minister, said in Banja Luka that Bosnian Serb officers may travel abroad only if they have written guarantees from SFOR and the Hague-based war crimes tribunal that they will not be arrested for war crimes, RFE/RL's South Slavic Service reported on 7 September (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 7 September 1999). He added that the court's policy of indicting persons in secret is against "international practice" and unduly makes innocent persons feel insecure, the Frankfurt-based Serbian daily "Vesti" reported. Milovanovic stressed that the recent arrest of General Momir Talic in Austria for war crimes will not affect "very much" the Bosnian Serb army's relations with SFOR. PM CROATIAN NGO WANTS LEGAL MEASURES AGAINST RIGHTIST LEADER. The Croatian Helsinki Committee for Human Rights has sent a letter to Prosecutor-General Berislav Zivkovic calling on him to take legal measures against right-wing politician Ante Djapic for allegedly urging the army to stage a coup if the government extradites any Croatian generals to The Hague, RFE/RL's South Slavic Service reported on 7 September. Opposition politician Vlado Gotovac has also called for legal measures against Djapic. In Vojnic, Djapic denied that he urged the army to stage a coup. He said that he only sought to protect "persons who helped create the Croatian state." He suggested his critics are unpatriotic, "Novi List" reported on 8 September. PM BERISHA CHARGES INVESTIGATORS WITH DESTROYING EVIDENCE ON HAJDARI KILLING Opposition Democratic Party leader Sali Berisha on 7 September accused unspecified investigators of destroying evidence about the killing of Democratic legislator Azem Hajdari on 14 September 1998, an RFE/RL South Slavic Service correspondent reported from Tirana. Berisha also said that several witnesses have left Albania to avoid giving testimony and that others involved in the murder have been killed recently. He intimated that the government is trying to eliminate possible witnesses, but he did not elaborate. Berisha has repeatedly turned down calls from investigators to testify in the Hajdari investigation. FS SERBIAN OPPOSITION LEADER IN ROMANIA. Serbian Democratic Party leader Djindjic and Petre Roman, leader of Romania's Democratic Party, have signed a cooperation agreement between their respective parties, RFE/RL's Bucharest bureau reported on 7 September. Djindjic agreed with President Emil Constantinescu to "establish permanent contacts" between the Serbian opposition and "Romanian authorities." Prime Minister Radu Vasile told Djindjic that Romania would "welcome a process of coagulation--not necessarily unification--to increase the efficiency" of the Serbian opposition and that the "first condition for solving Yugoslavia's problem is the change of the Milosevic regime." Vasile also said that Romania is "worried by certain [Hungarian] declarations about the situation of the Magyar minority in Vojvodina." He said Romania "can by no means agree to modifications of borders." MS ROMANIAN PRESIDENT CONVENES MEETING OF PARLIAMENTARY PARTIES. Constantinescu has called for a meeting of parliamentary parties to discuss ways of overcoming differences over the restitution laws being debated in the Chamber of Deputies and the Senate, RFE/RL's Bucharest bureau. The meeting is to take place on 9 September. Party of Social Democracy in Romania chairman Ion Iliescu has also called for such a meeting. Meanwhile, data released by the National Statistics Commission on 7 September shows Romania's GDP in the first six month of 1999 dropped by 3.9 percent compared with same period last year. Foreign investment since 1990 totals $5.77 billion. The figure includes direct foreign investment, portfolio investments, investments in private companies, as well as privatization contracts not yet finalized. Holland is Romania's largest investor, with $658 million. MS ROMANIAN OPPOSITION PARTY LOSES PARLIAMENTARY GROUP STATUS. Party of Romanian National Unity (PUNR) Senator Iustin Tambozie announced on 6 September that he is leaving the PUNR and becoming an independent senator. That move deprives the PUNR of its parliamentary group status and consequently of representation in the chamber's Permanent Bureau. Tambozie is the third PUNR senator to leave the formation since the 1996 elections (see also "End Note" below). MS MOLDOVAN COMMUNISTS ATTACK PARLIAMENTARY CHAIRMAN OVER OFFICIAL LANGUAGE. In a 7 September statement, the Party of Moldovan Communists (PCM) said parliamentary chairman Dumitru Diacov is "provoking a new explosion of passions" over the issue of changing the country's official language. The PCM also accused him of "destabilizing" the country. On 31 August, Moldova's Language Day, Diacov called for amending the constitution to change the designation of the country's official language from "Moldovan" to Romanian. The PCM says Diacov's proposal is a "new harsh attack by the pseudo- democrats on the ethnic and linguistic singularity of the Moldovan people [aimed at] undermining its self- determination...and promoting Romanianization and [Moldovan- Romanian] unionism," Infotag reported. MS BULGARIA RESPONDS TO BLOCKING OF ROMANIAN DANUBE. Dimiter Stanchev, executive director of the Bulgarian River Shipping Corporation, said on 7 September in the River Danube port of Russe that Serbia's obstruction of traffic on the river must be punished by "sanctions that match their steps." Stanchev said the Romanian protests launched one day earlier are "logical" but "there are other ways to bring international pressure" on Serbia. He said that if Romanian claims that the Serbian authorities are letting only Russian and Ukrainian ships navigate a canal around Novi Sad are substantiated, Bulgarian ports should introduce "licensing requirements" for Serbian vessels, BTA reported. MS ZHIVKOV GETS MEMORIAL PLAQUE IN BULGARIAN HOMETOWN. Local officials in Pravets, some 50 kilometers north of Sofia, marked the birthday of former communist dictator Todor Zhivkov on 7 September by unveiling a memorial plaque and naming a central square after him. Members of Zhivkov's family attended the ceremony. Zhivkov died last year aged 87. MS END NOTE TRANSYLVANIA'S 'COSI FAN TUTTE' By Michael Shafir Parliamentary and presidential elections in Romania are not due until the fall of 2000, but the electoral campaign has already begun. Democratic Party Chairman Petre Roman announced his candidacy for the presidency in mid-August in the Transylvanian town of Targu Mures, and his party simultaneously launched its "Message to Transylvania." Introducing that manifesto, Roman called for cooperation between the region's ethnic minorities and the Romanian majority, which he said is now possible because "no one questions Romania's territorial integrity today." But visiting the headquarters of the Targu Mures garrison, Roman professed that the officer corps' concern about an alleged attempt to bring about "Transylvania's destabilization" had made a big impression on him. Those familiar with the Democratic Party chairman's double-talk were hardly surprised. The specter of the "destabilization attempt" was raised by Adrian Nastase, first deputy chairman of the opposition Party of Social Democracy in Romania (PDSR). In mid-July, Nastase told journalists in Cluj, Transylvania's capital, that an "explosive situation" might develop in Transylvania this fall against the background of the country's "increasing economic, political and social vulnerability." He claimed to have "information" on the plans of the "Magyar revisionists" to create such a situation. Later, he called on the Romanian Intelligence Service to investigate and make public the plots allegedly under way. But Roman and Nastase were not the only ones ready to play the Romanian nationalist card in Transylvania. In early June, President Emil Constantinescu--the likely presidential candidate of the ruling National Peasant Party Christian Democratic (PNTCD) and the Democratic Convention of Romania (CDR--rushed to respond to a document of unclear origin in which a handful of "Transylvanian intellectuals" demanded autonomy for the region. As "guarantor of the constitution", Constantinescu said, he would never agree to "separatist ideas." The fact that this statement was also made in Targu Mures is no coincidence. Transylvania has become the main testing ground for the arsenal likely to be used by political competitors in election year 2000. There are several reasons for this development. First, the PDSR is well aware that it lost the 1996 elections to a great extent owing to its unpopularity in Transylvania. The CDR won almost the entire western and central parts of Romania in 1996. Now leading in opinion polls, the main opposition party would strengthen its position overall if it were able to turn the tables on its main competitors-- particularly the PNTCD--in what was their bastion. Second, the PNTCD has made it easier for the PDSR to do just that by showing signs of disintegration at the local level. Former Prime Minister Victor Ciorbea, himself a Transylvanian, split the party in April, when he set up the National Christian Democratic Alliance (ANCD). The Boila brothers, two pillars of the Transylvanian PNTCD, who for many years dominated the important Cluj branch of the party, joined Ciorbea in the ANCD, while Ciorbea recently announced he will run for president in 2000. Third, the PDSR is also trying to pick up where the Party of Romanian National Unity (PUNR) left off. Polls indicate that the PUNR, whose strength in the Romanian parliament fell from 7.7 percent in 1992 to 4.4 percent in 1996, may fail to pass the electoral hurdle in 2000. Once the darling of Romanian nationalists in Transylvania, the PUNR is a regional party par excellence. Even more than the PNTCD, however, the PUNR has suffered from political schisms. Following his dismissal as PUNR leader in February 1997, Cluj extreme nationalist Mayor Gheorghe Funar in April 1998 set up a rival Party of Romanian Unity Alliance (PAUR), only to join the Greater Romania Party (PRM) as its secretary-general in November. Those members of the PAUR who did not follow Funar into the PRM recently joined the PDSR. More important, Vatra romaneasca (Romanian cradle) leaders also joined that party, securing for themselves a place on the PDSR lists for the 2000 parliamentary elections. Vatra romaneasca, which, claims to be a "cultural organization," played a major role in provoking the inter-ethnic clashes in Targu Mures in March 1990. Mihaila Cofariu, the Romanian "hero" of those clashes, who was badly beaten by ethnic Hungarians and was later recruited into the PRM, attended a recent PDSR meeting in Bucharest as guest of honor. PRM leader Corneliu Vadim Tudor immediately protested the PDSR's co-opting Cofariu, which he dubbed an "Abduction from the Seraglio." Threatening to retaliate, Tudor said that many PDSR sympathizers are knocking on his party's door. It is not an "abduction" that is being staged in Transylvania, however. Rather, with most Romanian parties trying to court nationalism, it is "Cosi fan tutte." The Romanian National Party (PNR), which took the name of a 19th century forerunner of the PNTCD in Transylvania, is obviously targeting the same nationalist-inclined Romanian electorate as are other parties. Former Romanian Intelligence Service chief Virgil Magureanu, the party's acting chairman and a Romanian Transylvanian, is believed to have masterminded the Targu Mures riots. Headed by former Foreign Minister Teodor Melescanu-- whose diplomatic career often put him at the center of Romanian-Hungarian disputes both under communist leader Nicolae Ceausescu and his successor, Ion Iliescu--the Alliance for Romania is also attempting to score points using anti-Hungarian rhetoric taken from the nationalists' verbal arsenal. That this arsenal is old-fashioned speaks volumes about the paucity of political discourse in Romania 10 years after the country began its "transition." 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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