|The trouble with being punctual is that nobody's there to appreciate it. - Franklin P. Jones|
RFE/RL NEWSLINE Vol. 3, No. 177, Part II, 10 September 1999
___________________________________________________________ RFE/RL NEWSLINE Vol. 3, No. 177, Part II, 10 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 Russian Media Empires V (In English and Russian) http://www.rferl.org/nca/special/rumedia5/index.html A pre-election analysis of media owned by Russian government and business entities. xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx Headlines, Part II * LUKASHENKA PLEDGES TO KEEP TRANQUILLITY 'BY ALL MEANS' * HAVEL WITHDRAWS THREAT TO QUIT * MILOSEVIC PARTY: SERBIA WILL NOT INVADE KOSOVA xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx EAST-CENTRAL EUROPE LUKASHENKA PLEDGES TO KEEP TRANQUILLITY 'BY ALL MEANS.' "All the law enforcement bodies [in Belarus] are on alert," President Alyaksandr Lukashenka said on 9 September, commenting on the Moscow blast (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 9 September 1999). He added that the alert is connected not only with the situation in Russia. "There is no need to walk the streets, to roar, to shout, and to demand," Lukashenka said, referring to a trade union protest planned for 30 September (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 30 August 1999). According to him, the protest is organized not by workers but by the "trade union functionaries" who have lost their "slice of bread." Lukashenka noted that he is watching over and controlling the situation in Belarus "in the most rigorous way," and pledged to maintain the "peace and accord in our country by all means." JM BELARUS SAYS UKRAINIAN RECALL OF INVITATION TO YALTA 'UNFRIENDLY.' The Belarusian Foreign Ministry said on 9 September that Ukraine had made an "inconsistent" and "unfriendly" step by revoking an invitation to Belarus for the Yalta international conference on 10-11 September. According to the ministry, Ukraine took this step because Minsk has "difficulties" in its relations with the EU. However, the ministry added, neither the EU nor the OSCE have discussed the list of Yalta conference participants with Ukraine, therefore Kyiv canceled Belarus's invitation completely on its own. The same day, UNIAN quoted Andriy Veselovskyy from Ukraine's Foreign Ministry as saying that Ukraine never issued an invitation to Belarus to participate in the Yalta forum. JM BELARUSIAN OPPOSITION CAN'T AGREE ON DELEGATION FOR TALKS. Belarusian opposition parties on 9 September failed to approve a delegation for the planned OSCE-mediated negotiations with the authorities, Belapan and RFE/RL's Belarusian Service reported. The difficulty lies in the fact that nine opposition parties are seeking to be represented in a six-member delegation. JM UKRAINE HOSTS SUMMIT OF BLACK SEA, BALTIC STATES. On 10-11 September in Yalta, Ukraine is hosting a forum titled "The Baltic-Black Sea Cooperation: Toward an Integrated Europe of the 21st Century Without Dividing Lines." The forum will feature a summit of presidents and senior officials from 22 countries of the Baltic-Black Sea region and a scientific conference of some 150 representatives from international organizations, including NATO, the EU, the OSCE, and the Council of Europe. "The summit aims to establish a new kind of political and economic relationship between northern and southern European countries," presidential spokesman Oleksandr Martynenko said on 9 September. "Europe was divided in Yalta once. Our main dream is that this should never happen again," President Leonid Kuchma said earlier this week. Commentators say Kuchma also hopes for a show of regional support to his re-election bid. JM UKRAINE'S RUKH LAWMAKERS PROTEST SOVIET-ERA SYMBOLS. Some 40 deputies from the two rival factions of the Popular Rukh walked out of a parliamentary session on 9 September to protest the rejection of their proposal to remove Soviet-era symbols from the parliament building. The walkout appeared to be the first demonstration of unity between Rukh legislators after the organization split into two factions earlier this year and nominated two presidential candidates. JM LATVIAN PREMIER VISITS ESTONIA. Latvian Prime Minister Andris Skele made a one-day visit to Estonia on 9 September to meet with Estonian Prime Minister Mart Laar in the village of Karksi-Nuia. The two reaffirmed their mutual support for EU and NATO integration, and Laar also reiterated Estonia's desire to see Latvia begin accession negotiations with the EU. Bilateral relations and cooperation featured prominently in the talks, especially trade issues. Skele confirmed that the Latvian government will consider removing the unilaterally-imposed tariff on pork, which Estonia and Lithuania have deemed as a breach of the Baltic Free Trade Agreement (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 28 May 1999), BNS reported. MH LITHUANIAN COURT RULES AGAINST NEW MEDICAL TESTS FOR LILEIKIS. The Vilnius District Court rejected on 9 September a prosecution motion for a new medical evaluation of war crimes suspect Aleksandras Lileikis. Lithuanian prosecutors filed the motion under pressure from the U.S. Justice Department and the head of the Special Investigations Department, Eli Rosenbaum, who accused Lileikis of faking his illness, BNS reported. The judiciary panel ruled that there are no legal grounds to order a new examination, as Rosenbaum did not add pertinent new information to the case to compel the medical retest, ELTA added. On 10 September, the same court ruled to suspend the trial indefinitely. MH LITHUANIA GDP FORECAST REVISED. The Lithuanian Finance Ministry revised downward its 1999 GDP forecast, now predicting growth of only 0.3 percent. The last revision given was 1.3 percent growth for the year. At the same time, the yearly rate of inflation is expected to remain at 2.2 percent. The most drastic revision came in industrial production, with a dramatic downgrade to a 4.2 percent decline compared to the last forecast of a 3.6 percent rise. Finally, the trade deficit for this year is expected to reach 16.4 percent of GDP. The ministry also predicted GDP to grow by 3.8, 4.9, and 4.2 percent in the next three years. MH SOLIDARITY LEADER SAYS NO CHANGE OF PRIME MINISTER. Marian Krzaklewski, who heads both the Solidarity trade union and the coalition Solidarity Electoral Action (AWS), said on 9 September that the AWS will not consider changing the prime minister before the 2001 parliamentary elections. "We will start thinking who should be prime minister if we win [in those elections]," PAP quoted Krzaklewski as saying. Krzaklewski was responding to recent comments that Poland needs a cabinet reshuffle, including the replacement of Premier Jerzy Buzek (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 9 September 1999). JM POLAND'S INSTITUTE FOR SECRET SERVICE FILES ELECTS CHAIRMAN. The 11-member Council of the National Remembrance Institute on 9 September elected AWS-backed Andrzej Grajewski as its chairman. The institute, which is yet to elect its president, will grant access to Communist-era secret police files to people about whom police gathered information. The institute needs at least 50 million zlotys ($12.5 million) a year to operate, but the 1999 budget has no money for it because the spending plan was approved before the law that created the institute. Secret Service Minister Janusz Palubicki promised that the 2000 budget will allocate funds for the institute. According to parliamentary speaker Maciej Plazynski, it will take about one year before people will be able to look at their files. JM CZECH PRESIDENT WITHDRAWS THREAT TO QUIT. Vaclav Havel on 9 September said he will not resign if the Social Democratic Party and the Civic Democratic Party succeed in garnering the necessary parliamentary majority to curtail presidential prerogatives. In an interview with the dailies "Bohemia" and "Vecernik Praha," Havel said that he cannot, however, see how he will carry out his presidential duties if the constitutional amendment is passed, CTK reported. Havel threatened last month to resign if the change is implemented (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 30 August 1999). MS CZECH SOCIALIST POLITICIANS CRITICIZE GOVERNMENT... Stanislav Gross, leader of the Social Democratic Party (CSSD) parliamentary group in the Chamber of Deputies, told the daily "Pravo" on 8 September that the cabinet headed by Milos Zeman "is procrastinating in fulfilling some of its pre- election promises," CTK reported. Gross said that some promises are difficult to implement due to the country's economic state, but other promises could have been implemented and "the continued hesitation to do so drives me mad." He said that Zeman is "a born democrat" who prefers to take decisions by consensus but sometimes "it is necessary to end the discussions...Zeman should sometimes bang on the table and end talk that leads nowhere." CSSD Deputy Chairman Zdenek Skromach on the same day told CTK that Zeman must "reconsider" the work of those ministers whom he himself assessed as "mediocre" last July. MS ...BUT ZEMAN REJECTS CRITICISM. Zeman on 9 September said that "only Neanderthals bang on the table, if they have one. A democratic party must be run democratically," CTK reported. He said that he had already given some ministers a "yellow card" and will "issue a red one" when he has reason enough to do so. Zeman also rejected criticism by Havel, who said that it was "surprising" that although former Foreign Minister Josef Zieleniec has been accused by Zeman and present Foreign Minister Jan Kavan of bribing journalists, no one has produced proof to substantiate the allegations. It will be up to the Supreme Inspection Office or a court of justice to establish whether the bribery charges are legitimate, Zeman said. MS SLOVAK COALITION TORN BY CONFLICT AGAIN. The Democratic Party on 9 September called for the resignation of Economy Minister Ludovit Cernat, a close ally of Prime Minister Mikulas Dzurinda, SITA reported. The Democrats accuse Cernak of failing to annul an agreement between the SE utility, which produces electricity, and Devin Banka, whereby the bank will take over clearing Russia's outstanding debt to Slovakia. The Democratic Party says the tender announced by the SE lacked transparency and that Devin Banka won it without granting other bidders enough time to enter. The Democrats also said they will not support the cabinet proposal to dismiss National Property Fund chief Ludovit Kanik and his deputy, Ladislav Sklenar, in connection with the Nafta Gbely privatization affair. MS SLOVAKIA TO DRAW UP NUCLEAR PLANT CLOSURE PLAN. Economy Ministry spokeswoman Alica Durianova told Reuters on 9 September that the government will draw up by the end of September a "final plan" for the closure of the Jaslovske Bohunice nuclear plant. She said that the cabinet will examine several possibilities, including the problem of compensation from the EU. The statement follows European Commission chief negotiator Francois Lamoureux's declaration one day earlier in Bratislava that the closing of the plant is the only impediment still hindering the opening of EU accession talks with Bratislava (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 8 September 1999). MS SLOVAK PARLIAMENT BEGINS DEBATE ON NAZISM VICTIMS COMPENSATION. The parliament on 8 September sent to a committee the government-sponsored bill on compensation to Nazi concentration camps inmates, CTK reported. Under the bill, survivors of those camps are to receive 2,500 crowns ($60) for each month spent in the camps, while descendants of those who perished there will receive a one-time payment of 100,000 crowns. The bill was criticized by the Jewish community because it does not cover those who had to hide during the Holocaust. Justice Minister Jan Carnogursky said in the parliament that for "financial reasons" the government decided to compensate only those "who suffered most." He said that calculations show that the bill will cost 200 million crowns, whereas if others were included the costs will rise to 800 million. MS HUNGARIAN PREMIER SLAMS EU. In a 10 September interview with the German daily "Der Tagesspiegel," Prime Minister Viktor Orban says the EU has been telling the former communist countries in east-central Europe "just five more years [to admission] ever since 1990," MTI reported. He says Hungary's admission to NATO is due mainly to the U.S. and it is time that the EU "puts an end to shifting us between NATO and the EU." Orban says the EU has been treating Hungary "correctly" as "a negotiating partner" but "that does not mean it is treating us as a partner with equal rights." He says the decision to admit Hungary, Poland, and the Czech Republic "could have been made years ago." MS HUNGARIANS CALL OFF AUSCHWITZ EXHIBITION. Following the protests of the Federation of Jewish Communities in Hungary (MAZSIHISZ) against the distorted reflection of anti-Semitism in the country's history in a planned Auschwitz exhibition, the government has decided to cancel the exhibition, Reuters reported on 9 September. MAZSIHISZ official Gusztav Zoltai said the same day on Hungarian television that the country's Jewish communities do not want to see the project halted, but "to see it done right" (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 9 September 1999). MS SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE MILOSEVIC PARTY: SERBIA WILL NOT INVADE KOSOVA. Ivica Dacic, who is spokesman for Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic's Socialist Party of Serbia, said in Belgrade on 9 September that the government will not intervene militarily in Kosova, the Frankfurt-based Serbian daily "Vesti" reported (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 8 September 1999). Dacic stressed that Serbia will observe its responsibilities under UN Security Council Resolution 1244. The Serbian authorities are confident that KFOR will eventually leave the province. In the meantime, no one should make the mistake of thinking that Serbia has turned its back on Kosova, he concluded. PM MITROVICA CLASH LEAVES ONE DEAD. One ethnic Albanian died and three were injured in clashes between Albanians and Serbs in the divided town of Mitrovica on 9 September, a KFOR spokesman said the following day. (Reuters reported from Mitrovica that 68 ethnic Albanians had been hurt.) Some 15 French soldiers and police were also injured as they tried to separate the two groups. A KFOR spokesman said that it is not clear who fired the shots that hit the Albanians. A NATO official noted that Serbian paramilitaries are present in northern Mitrovica. Meanwhile in Prishtina, a KFOR spokesman confirmed that the elderly woman shot by members of the Kosova Liberation Army (UCK) in Suhareka recently was a Rom (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 9 September 1999). PM UCK CLAIMS SOLE ROLE IN KOSOVA MILITARY. General Agim Ceku, who is the UCK's chief-of-staff, said in Prishtina on 9 September that NATO has an obligation to the UCK because of the role the guerrillas played in the recent conflict. He added: "Based on the agreements on the demilitarization [of the UCK], the transformation will continue toward creating some institutions in Kosova. The basis for this is the contribution that the UCK made to the war, a contribution that the international community must respect." Ceku stressed that the UCK "will be the only foundation on which the institutions of Kosova will be created." He said these institutions will include a "defense unit" of at least 5,000 members to deal with natural disasters and "defend [the ethnic Albanians] from aggression," AP reported (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 9 September 1999). A NATO official said that the "tasks and forms [of the new force] have yet to be discussed." Russian officials have called the continuation of the UCK in any form "unacceptable." PM SERBIAN COURTS INDICT KOSOVARS FOR 'TERRORISM.' On 9 September, Serbian authorities in Leskovac and Pozarevac indicted one and 13 ethnic Albanians, respectively, for "terrorism." The authorities charged that the 14 were members of the UCK. The Red Cross previously confirmed that more than 2,000 Kosovars are being held in Serbian prisons (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 13 August 1999). Among them is student leader Albin Kurti. The June agreement that ended the conflict did not require Belgrade to free prisoners or provide information about them. PM SERBIAN POLICE AGAIN BLOCK REFUGEE MARCH ON BELGRADE... For the second day in a row, Serbian police on 9 September prevented some 400 to 700 homeless Serbian refugees from Kosova from marching on Belgrade (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 9 September 1999). The refugees ignored police roadblocks in Kraljevo but were finally stopped in Cacak, some 30 kilometers to the north. Milan Nenadovic, who is the government's deputy commissioner for refugees, told the refugees that their lack of shelter is a "problem caused by NATO bombs," London's "The Guardian" reported. He told the refugees: "You are in no position to make any demands." In Belgrade, the opposition Democratic Party charged in a statement that Milosevic's regime finds the refugees to be an embarrassing reminder of his failed policies. The next day, Nenadovic told AP that the refugees have agreed to split up into smaller groups and accept accomodation in Uzice and Pozega. PM ...AS WELL AS FOOD ON MONTENEGRIN BORDER. Serbian police are also maintaining a "total blockade" of the border with Montenegro at Kolovrat. They turn back shipments of food, even those that have been paid for, "Vesti" reported on 10 September, quoting unnamed local sources. PM MORE MASS GRAVES IN KOSOVA, BOSNIA. Austrian forensics experts are excavating a site at Kotina near the Macedonian border, AP reported on 9 September. Some 22 ethnic Albanian males whom Serbian forces gunned down in March are believed to be buried there. In Sarajevo, a UN forensics teams has unearthed a mass grave at an undisclosed location in northeast Bosnia. A UN spokeswoman said that the grave contains the remains of about 60 people killed after the fall of Srebrenica to Serbian forces in July 1995. PM SFOR GUARDS RETURNING MUSLIMS. An unspecified number of NATO peacekeepers arrived in Kula Fazlagica, near Gacko, on 9 September to protect 50 returning Muslim residents. The Muslims have been shelled and subjected to gunfire in recent days (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 9 September 1999). PM NO SFOR GUARANTEES FOR SRPSKA. Bosnian Serb army representatives took part in a meeting with SFOR and Bosnian federation military officials in Sarajevo on 9 September (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 9 September 1999). The officers from the Republika Srpska attended the meeting even though NATO would not give them the guarantees they demanded of immunity from arrest for war crimes. A SFOR spokesman said that such guarantees can come only from the Hague-based war crimes tribunal, RFE/RL's South Slavic Service reported. PM MUSLIMS DEMAND RECOGNITION IN CROATIA. Spokesmen for the Party of Democratic Action (SDA) said in Zagreb on 9 September that members of Croatia's Muslim population may boycott the upcoming parliamentary elections unless they receive the status of a legally recognized national minority. The spokesmen said that there are about 45,000 Muslims in Croatia, or about 1 percent of the total population. Observers note that it is difficult to see what the boycott would achieve, except to play into the hands of the governing Croatian Democratic Community. PM ALBANIAN RED CROSS INCREASES PROGRAMS FOR THE POOR. The Albanian Red Cross has stepped up efforts to provide food aid to poor families in Albania. The chairman of the Red Cross office in Albania, Shyqyri Subashi, told Reuters on 8 September that his organization has distributed 23,000 food parcels to Albanian citizens since January. The Red Cross plans to give out a total of 90,000 packages by the end of the year. Such programs thus reach about 3 percent of Albania's population. FS ROMANIA RETALIATES AGAINST YUGOSLAVIA ON DANUBE RIVER. Transportation Minister Traian Basescu on 9 September announced that Romania will block all Yugoslav ships anchored in the Black Sea port of Constanta and will prohibit Yugoslav vessels from sailing to Constanta on the Danube-Black Sea channel. The measure is being taken in retaliation for Yugoslavia's blocking of Romanian vessels near Novi Sad and prohibition on Romanian vessels to the Dunav-Tisa-Dunav bypass of the Danube River, which is blocked by wrecks of bridges destroyed by NATO air strikes, RFE/RL's Bucharest bureau reported. Earlier on 9 September, Bulgarian Transportation Minister Wilhelm Kraus proposed a trilateral Bulgarian-Romanian-Ukrainian meeting to discuss introducing reciprocal steps against Yugoslavia, BTA reported. MS COMPROMISE REACHED ON ROMANIAN RESTITUTION LAWS. Following a meeting of leaders of parliamentary parties with President Emil Constantinescu on 9 September, presidential spokesman Razvan Popescu said that opinions "have been bridged" and that the ongoing parliamentary debates on restitution will now be "a lot easier." He said the participants agreed on a three-week deadline for the Senate to end debates on the restitution of property confiscated by the communists and incorporated in the state farms, following which the senate is to begin debates on the law on restitution or compensation for real estate that has already been approved by the Chamber of Deputies, Romanian Radio reported. MS ORTHODOX CHURCH TO BE 'NATIONAL CHURCH' IN ROMANIA. The government on 9 September approved a draft bill on religious cults and religious freedom. The bill stipulates that the Romanian Orthodox Church is the country's "National Church," Romanian radio reported. A spokesman for the Romanian Patriarchate said the stipulation does not grant any privileges to the Orthodox Church and only reflects the fact that this is "the Church of the majority of this nation." MS HUNGARY TO FINANCE UNIVERSITY IN ROMANIA. Tibor Szabo, chairman of the Office for Hungarians Beyond Borders, said in Cluj on 10 September that Hungary will contribute 2 billion forint ($8.3 million) for the financing of a Hungarian- language private university in Romania, Mediafax reported. Szabo said that it has not yet been decided in what Transylvanian locality the university is to be set up, adding, however, that Cluj is "an important recipient of allocations" offered by the Hungarian government. MS MOLDOVAN PRESIDENT OPTIMISTIC ON TRANSDNIESTER CONFLICT. President Petru Lucinschi on 9 September told the OSCE mission chief to Moldova, William Hill, that he is optimistic about finding a solution to the dispute with the Transdniester separatists, Infotag reported. Lucinschi said that the accords reached at the Kyiv July summit stipulate that the conflict must be settled on the principle of a single state, with a single economic, legal, and defense structure and that the dialogue must now proceed on that basis. During his visit to Moscow earlier this month, he said, the possibility of setting up a Russian base in the Transdniester was not discussed, as this would be contrary to the constitutional provision that Moldova is a neutral state. He said that the Russian leadership confirmed its backing of settling the dispute with the separatists by granting Transdniester a special status "within an indivisible Moldova." MS FOREIGN INVESTMENT IN BULGARIA BELOW EXPECTATIONS. Total direct foreign investment in the first half of 1999 amounts to $320.8 million, almost half of the expected $600 million, BTA reported on 9 September, citing Foreign Investment Agency chairman Ilian Vasiliev. Vasiliev said that compared to 1998, direct foreign investment was 30 percent higher. He said that the agency still hopes that by end of 1999, the total figure will be $1.2 billion. Germany is the leading investor in Bulgaria, followed by Cyprus, the U.K., and Ireland. Most of the investments (50 percent) are concentrated in Sofia. 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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