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RFE/RL NEWSLINE Vol. 3, No. 178, Part II, 13 September 1999
___________________________________________________________ RFE/RL NEWSLINE Vol. 3, No. 178, Part II, 13 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 * KUCHMA APPEALS NOT TO CREATE 'PAPER CURTAIN' IN EUROPE * KFOR WARNS OF SERBIAN DESTABILIZATION OF KOSOVA * LIVE AMMUNITION USED IN MITROVICA CLASHES END NOTE: Giving Yalta A New Meaning xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx EAST-CENTRAL EUROPE LUKASHENKA DECREES RESTRICTIONS ON RALLIES. Belarusian President Alyaksandr Lukashenka has issued a decree "on measures to prevent emergencies during mass events." According to Belarusian Television, the decree was prompted by the 30 May stampede in a metro passageway in Minsk, which claimed 53 lives. The document prohibits holding rallies less than 200 meters away from metro stations and bans the sale of alcohol and beer within a 500 meter perimeter of a rally. The decree does not apply to official events organized on state holidays. According to Belarusian oppositionists, the decree intends to restrict opposition actions planned for this fall. Human rights activist Ales Byalatski told RFE/RL's Belarusian Service that the authorities may now designate remote places on the outskirts of Belarusian cities for opposition protest actions. JM BELARUSIAN POPULAR FRONT TO RECONVENE CONGRESS IN OCTOBER. The Belarusian Popular Front (BNF) Board on 11 September decided to reconvene the BNF sixth congress on 30-31 October after the previous one failed to elect a BNF leadership on 1 August (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 2 and 3 August 1999). The board rejected a proposal by exiled BNF leader Zyanon Paznyak to divide the BNF into two allied organizations--a public movement and a political party--and hold their conventions separately. The session also invalidated Paznyak's directives to dismiss Lyavon Barshcheuski from the position of BNF acting chairman and to hold a separate congress of the BNF Party. However, some members of the BNF Board refused to register at the session and claimed that it lacked a quorum to adopt decisions. JM KUCHMA APPEALS NOT TO CREATE 'PAPER CURTAIN' IN EUROPE. The 10-11 September Yalta conference of 22 Baltic and Black Sea states ended with a common pledge to promote regional cooperation and to build a Europe without dividing lines. Ukrainian President Leonid Kuchma, who hosted the Yalta forum, appealed for attendants not to create a "Paper Curtain" of travel restrictions between the EU and the rest of Europe in place of the "Iron Curtain." "We are convinced that visa and other restrictions should not become an insurmountable obstacle for free movement of law-abiding citizens of the states aspiring for European integration," Kuchma said. (see also "End Note"). JM UKRAINIAN NATIONAL BANK CALM OVER RECENT HRYVNYA FALL. Last week the hryvnya left the previously established exchange corridor of 3.4 to 4.6 to $1 and was traded at 4.65-4.7 to $1, Ukrainian Television reported on 12 September. Commercial bank and currency dealers explain the hryvnya's fall by speculative demand for hard currency in expectation of the hryvnya's devaluation. They claim that the hryvnya will continue to fall unless the National Bank (NBU) intervenes on the currency market. However, NBU press secretary Dmytro Rikberg said last week that "there will be no interference" on the part of the bank and that the situation will stabilize in the next few days once Ukraine has received foreign credits. JM MERI MEETS WITH ESTONIANS IN CRIMEA. Estonian President Lennart Meri, in Crimea for the Yalta Summit, on 10 September travelled to the town of Alupka to meet with ethnic Estonians settled there. President Meri invited members of the community to visit Estonia and to help strengthen the ties between Estonia and Ukraine. The Crimean Estonian Society, however, told Meri that they faced difficulty in obtaining visas to visit Estonia. The society also plans to open an Estonian-language school in the town of Krasnodarka, according to BNS. Estonians have been living in Crimea since the 1860s. While in Crimea for the summit, Meri also met with Georgian President Eduard Shevardnadze and Bulgarian President Petar Stoyanov. MH LITHUANIAN PREMIER IN FRANCE. Prime Minister Rolandas Paksas made a three-day visit to France on 8-10 September. His French counterpart, Lionel Jospin, told Paksas that France supports Lithuania's EU and NATO aspirations. Paksas and French European Affairs Minister Pierre Moscovici discussed Lithuania's EU integration bid, including issues concerning nuclear power and several recent EU actions against Lithuania for dumping. Moscovici also stated French support for Lithuania's desire to begin accession negotiations with the EU. During a meeting with Laurent Fabius, the speaker of the French National Assembly, Paksas restated that Lithuania's desire to join NATO is not directed at another country. MH WIESENTHAL CENTER LAMBASTS LITHUANIA. The director of the Simon Wiesenthal Center in Israel, Efraim Zuroff, called Lithuania an "ultimate haven" for Nazi war criminals, BNS reported. This comes as a Vilnius District Court rejected a prosecution motion to re-examine the health of war crimes suspect Aleksandras Lileikis, and subsequently suspended the trial (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 10 September 1999). Zuroff added, "I have no doubt that this unfortunate decision will only increase and speed up the return to Lithuania of numerous Lithuanian Nazi murderers living abroad who fear prosecution in their lands of current residence." Zuroff called for Lithuanian authorities to re-examine the case, saying that it would "prove once and for all [Lithuania has] nothing to hide in this regard." MH POLISH PREMIER PROMISES CABINET RESHUFFLE IN TWO WEEKS. Following a leadership meeting of the ruling coalition of the Solidarity Electoral Action-Freedom Union on 10 September, Premier Jerzy Buzek said decisions on a government reshuffle will be taken within the next two weeks. Leszek Miller, head of the opposition Left Democratic Alliance, said the same day that his party backs early parliamentary elections, adding that a cabinet reconstruction will not change the current situation. Jaroslaw Kalinowski, head of the opposition Peasant Party, said on 12 September that the government should either change its economic policy or agree to early elections. A poll in early September revealed that 71 percent of Poles negatively assess the performance of Buzek's cabinet and 58 percent disapprove of Buzek himself. JM CZECH SOCIALISTS APPROVE CURTAILING PRESIDENTIAL POWERS. The leadership of the ruling Social Democratic Party (CSSD) on 12 September approved the constitutional amendments proposed by the Civic Democratic Party (ODS) on curtailing the prerogatives of the president. The amendments will be forwarded to the parliament in the next few days. CSSD deputy chairwoman Petra Buzkova said on Czech television on 12 September that she opposes the amendment that makes possible the removal of the president from office if he is unable to carry out his constitutionally-stipulated duties for six months. MS EU COMMISSIONER SAYS CZECHS MAY NOT ACCEDE IN NEXT WAVE. In an interview with the German weekly "Der Spiegel," EU commissioner in charge of enlargement Guenter Verheugen says the Czech Republic might fail to be included in the next wave of EU expansion, CTK reported on 12 September. Verheugen says this may be due to the previous Czech cabinet which "did not take the talks with the EU very seriously." MS CZECH POLITICIANS CONDEMN AD CALLING FOR KLAUS'S 'REMOVAL.' President Vaclav Havel on 10 September said an ad published by "Annonce" daily editor Josef Kudlacek on 8 September, which promised a reward of five million crowns (about $145,000) to "the person who will remove [ODS chairman Vaclav] Klaus from the political scene" was "beyond the limits of what is admissible" and demonstrated the "drop in the general level of morality that I have been criticizing for a long time," CTK reported. Prime Minister Milos Zeman commented that "Kudlacek belongs partly in the mad house and partly in prison, and if possible in both institutions." He also called on the police to investigate the case. A police spokeswoman on the same day said Kudlacek will not be charged because he denies the ad called for the physical liquidation of Klaus and says it was only intended to call for his removal from politics. MS SLOVAK CHRISTIAN DEMOCRATS DECLARE INDEPENDENCE FROM SDK. The Executive Council of the Christian Democratic Movement (KDH) on 12 September decided that the KDH will run under its own name in the 2002 parliamentary elections or in alliance with other parties, SITA and CTK reported. KDH chairman Jan Carnogursky said the decision "ends the discussion about the relationship between the KDH and the Slovak Democratic Coalition (SDK)." Premier Mikulas Dzurinda, who is also SDK chairman, told the council that he sees the future relationship between the two political entities as one of "a political union or a confederation [of parties]." But he admitted that the current legislation makes no provision for such a "confederation" to be able to run. KDH deputy chairman Pavol Hrusovsky told journalists after the meeting that the party will "no longer be distracted by scuffles" between the parties that make up the SDK. MS SLOVAK SUPREME COURT UPHOLDS DECISION ON LEXA. The Supreme Court on 10 September rejected an appeal by Justice Minister Jan Carnogursky against a July decision of a Bratislava court to free from detention former Slovak Intelligence Service chief Vladimir Lexa, SITA and CTK reported. Lexa is being investigated on suspicion of abusing public office, participation in the kidnapping of former President Michal Kovac's son in 1995, theft, blackmail, and violation of financial regulations. MS SLOVAK ROMANY PARTIES AGREE ON UNIFICATION. Representatives of 14 out of 15 registered Romany associations and political parties, meeting in Kosice on 11 September, agreed to set up a Council of the Coalition of Romany Parties and to meet again in 30 days to approve setting up a single Romany political representation, CTK reported. The chairman of the Party of Democratic Unity of Roma, Jan Conka, was elected chairman of the council. A spokesman for the council said that the unification was necessary as Roma felt deceived by both the SDK and by the previously ruling Movement for a Democratic Slovakia. He said the Romany coalition will run its own candidates in 2002 and expects to get as many as 300,000 votes. The delegates criticized Premier Dzurinda and called for the resignation of Pal Csaky, deputy premier in charge of human rights and minority issues. Csaky's resignation was also demanded by representatives attending the International Romany Congress in Bratislava on 10 September, SITA reported. MS HUNGARY CELEBRATES BORDER OPENING ANNIVERSARY. Austrian, German and Hungarian leaders on 10 September attended a commemorative session of the parliament in Budapest that marked the 10th anniversary of the day when Hungary opened its border to Austria. Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban called the free passage of tens of thousands of East German citizens to Austria "a turning point in European history." German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder said he "brought the gratitude of the German people," who will never forget the deed that "made German reunification possible." MSZ SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE KFOR WARNS OF SERBIAN DESTABILIZATION OF KOSOVA. A spokesman for NATO peacekeepers said in Prishtina on 12 September that KFOR troops have recently seen several dozen Serbian paramilitaries in the province. The Serbs wore dark uniforms and "insignia patches of a kind we haven't seen before." The spokesman said that the paramilitaries clandestinely entered the province, which all Serbian forces were to have left in June. He added that the Serbs have decided on "some planned activities to destabilize the situation [in Kosova]. These are orchestrated, planned activities." The spokesman gave as an example the recent clash between Serbian gunmen and Russian peacekeepers, Reuters reported (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 7 June 1999). Several Serbian hard-line politicians and some military officials have suggested in recent weeks that Serbia will reintroduce its security forces if KFOR fails to protect Serbian civilians. A spokesman for Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic, however, explicitly ruled out armed intervention by Belgrade (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 10 September 1999). PM LIVE AMMUNITION USED IN MITROVICA CLASHES. Hospital staff told AFP that eight out of a total of 150 people hurt in clashes in Mitrovica on 10 September were hit by bullets (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 10 September 1999). They did not elaborate on the ethnic background of the victims. French KFOR troops fired only tear gas and stun grenades during the clashes, meaning that the live ammunition came from the Serbs, the ethnic Albanians, or both. Several hundred ethnic Albanian protesters held a rally outside UN headquarters in Mitrovica on 12 September, demanding that KFOR take measures to ensure the return of ethnic Albanian residents to the northern part of the town. Local UN Administrator Sir Martin Garrod promised the protesters that "Mitrovica will not be a divided city," an RFE/RL South Slavic Service correspondent reported. FS KOSOVARS PROTEST ARREST OF UCK LEADER. About 2,000 ethnic Albanians gathered outside UN offices in Gjakova on 12 September to protest against the arrest of an unnamed local Kosova Liberation Army (UCK) commander, AP reported. KFOR recently arrested the man on unspecified criminal charges. Elsewhere, unidentified attackers fired shots at a Russian checkpoint but no casualties were reported. FS CEKU PLEDGES TO BEAT DEMILITARIZATION DEADLINE... General Agim Ceku, who is the chief of the UCK's general staff, told Reuters in Prishtina on 11 September that the UCK will complete its disarmament by 16 September, three days before the official demilitarization deadline. Ceku added: "Up until 19 September, there are 10,000 mobilized UCK [soldiers]. After that date there are none...including me." Ceku stressed that the UCK commanders firmly back the demilitarization. He added that recent attacks on Serbs and Roma are by criminals wearing UCK uniforms and by others who wrongly claim to be members of the UCK. He stressed: "If we had all those people with us who now say they are UCK, we would not have needed the help of the international community to liberate Kosova." FS ...AND URGES CREATION OF KOSOVA CORPS. General Ceku also told Reuters that he expects the international community to establish a Kosova Corps (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 3 September 1999) despite Russian objections. He stressed that the corps will assist KFOR in case of emergencies and disasters and that it "will not be armed in any way to endanger someone else." Meanwhile, Zoran Andjelkovic, who was Serbia's governor of Kosova until the deployment of KFOR, told the state-run Tanjug news agency that including "some members of the terrorist UCK into a civilian force [in Kosova] would be a direct violation of [UN Resolution 1244]." Meanwhile, General Vladimir Lazarevic, who was a commander in Kosova during the war, claimed in an interview with Radio B2-92 that the UCK has "handed over some antiquated...weapons [to peacekeepers] but obtained, under KFOR guidance, new heavy weaponry." He did not provide evidence of his claim. FS KOUCHNER: MORE SERBS IN KOSOVA THAN BELIEVED. Bernard Kouchner, who is the UN's administrator for Kosova, told the UN Security Council in New York on 11 September that the province's current population includes 1.4 million Albanians, 97,000 Serbs, and 73,000 members of other ethnic groups, including Turks, Roma, Bosnian Muslims, and others. Most recent estimates had put the number of Serbs left in Kosova at no more than 30,000. In Belgrade, Tanjug called Kouchner's report "vague [and] highly generalized," adding that "without a good knowledge of the province, one would not be able to understand what he was talking about." In New York, U.S. Ambassador to the UN Richard Holbrooke called Kouchner's presentation "brilliant," adding that "Dr. Kouchner is the right man in the right place at the right time," Reuters reported. PM MONTENEGRO PLANS 'MARKA' AS DINAR SLIDES. U.S. Professor Steve Hanke, who is the advisor on currency policy to Montenegrin President Milo Djukanovic, said in Podgorica on 12 September that the result of upcoming talks between Serbian and Montenegrin leaders will determine whether Montenegro adopts its own currency. Hanke noted that the planned monetary unit would be called the marka, backed 100 percent by German mark reserves, and pegged to the German currency at one-to-one. On Montenegrin black markets, the Yugoslav dinar recently fell to 14 to the German mark. In Belgrade, Deputy Prime Minister Dragan Tomic said that "all rumors of alleged devaluation [of the dinar] come from the black market and those who are trying to take money from gullible people," Reuters reported. The official exchange rate is six dinars to the mark. The mark has been the unofficial currency throughout the former Yugoslavia for decades. Bosnia's successful new currency is closely linked to it. PM SERBIAN OPPOSITION, MONTENEGRIN AUTHORITIES MOVING CLOSER? Serbian Democratic Party leader Zoran Djindjic told Montenegrin television on 12 September that he, other opposition leaders, and unnamed Montenegrin officials will soon issue a joint political declaration. The text will deal with promoting democracy in Yugoslavia and redefining the relations between Belgrade and Podgorica. Djukanovic met in the Montenegrin capital on 11 September with Djindjic and several other opposition leaders, including Nenad Canak, Mile Isakov, Jozsef Kasza, Rasim Ljajic, Rade Veljanovski, and Branislav Kovacevic, RFE/RL's South Slavic Service reported. Djindjic spent several weeks in Montenegro during the NATO air strikes in the spring, saying that he feared arrest (or worse) in Serbia. Several opposition leaders are frequent visitors to Montenegro, but they and Djukanovic have not gone beyond vague declarations in their public remarks. Western countries have urged Montenegrin and Serbian opponents of Milosevic to work together for democratization. PM SERBIAN COURT FINES OPPOSITION PAPER. A court in Cacak on 11 September fined the "Cacanski Glas" $13,500 for publishing an article suggesting that Nikola Pavicevic, who is a local official in charge of monitoring financial transactions, with "shady dealings." The court decision came on the basis of a year-old media law that gives the authorities the power to take tough measures against offending journalists and their employers. Another recent court decision fined "Cacanski Glas" $22,600 on the basis of a private lawsuit by Pavicevic, AP reported. A spokesman for the paper said that the article merely reported charges made by Vuk Draskovic's Serbian Renewal Party (SPO) against the official. The SPO did not send anyone to testify on the paper's behalf in court. The Serbian regime--like its counterpart in Croatia--frequently makes use of lawsuits and fines to intimidate or bankrupt the opposition media. PM IN THE WINNERS' CIRCLE. Milosevic received ousted Bosnian Serb President Nikola Poplasen in Belgrade on 10 September. Also present was Momcilo Krajisnik, who is the former Serbian representative on the joint Bosnian presidency. Serbian Deputy Information Minister Miodrag Popovic denied that Milosevic was trying to reinstate Poplasen. The minister added: "we are not in the business of installing and removing governments around the world. Some other people are," Reuters reported. In Banja Luka, caretaker Prime Minister Milorad Dodik said that "we are waiting for Poplasen to come back from Belgrade to take his official car." Last week, Dodik and SFOR took away Poplasen's office, bodyguards, telephones, and cars (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 7 September 1999). PM IMF TEAM REVIEWS ROMANIAN PERFORMANCE. An IMF expert team led by the fund's chief negotiator for Romania, Emmanuel Zervoudakis, met with Finance Minister Decebal Traian Remes on 10 September, RFE/RL's Bucharest bureau reported. The team is reviewing Romania's economic performance to establish whether it qualifies for receiving the second tranche of a stand-by agreement approved earlier this year. Budget expenditure in the first eight months of 1999 was 40 percent higher than expected, throwing doubts of Bucharest's ability to restrict its deficit to 3.9 percent of the GDP, as conveyed with the fund. MS ROMANIAN PREMIER CALLS ON PARTIES TO 'ISOLATE' OPPOSITION. Prime Minister Radu Vasile, in an interview with the BBC on 12 September, proposed to all parties in the ruling coalition to pledge that they will not join a coalition with the Party of Social Democracy in Romania (PDSR) after the 2000 parliamentary elections, Romanian radio reported. If the pledge is implemented, he said, the PDSR will not be able to form a government even if it were returned as the largest party in the parliament by the ballot. Vasile said he "hopes this will solve the dilemma" of those of his party colleagues who attacked him last month for saying that the National Peasant Party Christian Democratic (PNTCD) should consider entering a coalition with the PDSR after next year's elections. He also said that he "does not rule out" leaving the PNTCD if the opposition against him in the party persists. MS ROMANIAN COURT DECLINES COMPETENCE TO RULE ON OUTLAWING EXTREMIST PARTY. Bucharest's Appeals Court on 10 September ruled that it is not competent to decide whether the Greater Romania Party (PRM) should be outlawed and sent the case to the Constitutional Court, RFE/RL's Bucharest bureau reported. The Justice Ministry, the Association of Romanian Lawyers for the Defense of Human Rights, the Assistance Center for Non- Governmental Organizations, and the Party of Democratic Solidarity requested that the PRM be outlawed on the grounds of violating constitutional provisions forbidding racial incitement. They cited an article published in the PRM weekly "Romania Mare" in August 1998 inciting discrimination against ethnic Hungarians and Roma. MS ROMANIAN PATRIARCH SENDS PROTEST LETTER TO PREMIER. Patriarch Teoctist on 10 September protested in a letter to Premier Vasile against the government's decision not to grant the Romanian Orthodox Church the status of "National Church," RFE/RL's Bucharest bureau reported (based on an erroneous report by Romanian Radio and Television, "RFE/RL Newsline" on 10 September reported that the status had been granted). Teoctist said the government was "denying the Orthodox Church the status that has been obtained through nearly 2,000 years of Christian life." MS OSCE EXPECTS PROGRESS IN TRANSDNIESTER NEGOTIATIONS. The OSCE mission head in Moldova, William Hill, said on 10 September that he expects the negotiations between Chisinau and Tiraspol--set to resume this week--to yield progress, Infotag reported. He told journalists that OSCE experts will go to Transdniester to establish the necessary financial assistance for the evacuation of the Russian arsenal or its liquidation there. He said that contrary to reports in the media, he has not received any official Transdniester warning that the experts will not be allowed to come to Tiraspol. Hill also said that the OSCE will not react to media reports that Russia has demanded a military base for its contingent in the Transdniester as this is a matter for Russian-Moldovan bilateral relations, but added that the OSCE "advocates prompt, complete, and orderly withdrawal of Russian troops and their weapons." MS BULGARIA, UKRAINE, CRITICIZE ROMANIAN BLOCKADE ON DANUBE. Meeting in Yalta at the Black Sea-Baltic summit conference on 11 September, Transportation Minister Wilhelm Kraus and his Ukrainian counterpart Ivan Dankievich said they consider the Romanian blockade against Serbian vessels on the Danube River (see "RFE/RL Newsline, 10 September 1999) to be "uncivilized." Kraus told journalists that it is possible to find "an efficient mechanism to force the Serb authorities to reconsider their decision to set up artificial obstacles to free navigation" on the river. He also said that Bulgaria, Romania, and Ukraine will hold a trilateral meeting on 21-22 September to discuss the Serbian measures, as well as possibilities to finance clearing the wreckage of bridges destroyed by NATO air strikes, BTA reported. MS MULTINATIONAL PEACE FORCE HEADQUARTERS INAUGURATED IN BULGARIA. At the inauguration of the headquarters of the Multinational Peace Force in Southeastern Europe at Plodviv on 11 September, President Petar Stoyanov said that he is confident that "the day will come when Serbia and other republics of former Yugoslavia will join the peace force," BTA reported. The 3,000-strong peace force includes ground forces from Albania, Bulgaria, Greece, Italy, Macedonia, Romania, and Turkey. MS END NOTE Giving Yalta A New Meaning By Paul Goble Yalta, the place where Moscow and the West divided Eastern Europe in 1945, is now the symbol of the new and independent role the countries between Russia and Germany and the Baltic and Black Seas hope to play in the future. On 10-11 September, 14 presidents and other senior officials from these and adjoining countries met there to promote cooperation among themselves, to denounce the emergence of any new dividing lines in Europe, and to demand that no decisions about them be taken without them. This, the third international conference in a series launched in Vilnius in 1997, represented the latest and most dramatic effort by these countries to repudiate the great power politics that dominated thinking at the Yalta conference in 1945. At that first Yalta conference, Soviet leader Josef Stalin, U.S. President Franklin Roosevelt, and British Prime Minister Winston Churchill effectively created new spheres of influence in Europe without consulting any of the nations thus affected. From that decision, one that has many precedents in European and world history, many once independent and proud peoples were consigned to Soviet rule for nearly half a century. And none of those affected has ever forgotten or forgiven either that meeting or its results. Now, and largely as a result of the efforts of these nations themselves, they are once again in a position to be the active subjects of history rather than its mere objects. And thus virtually all of the leaders there echoed in one way or the other the words of Ukrainian Foreign Minister Borys Tarasyuk who said that " Yalta-99 has done away with the spirit of Yalta-45." But that celebratory spirit was undercut not only by the tight security arrangements surrounding the meeting but also by expressions of genuine concern about whether the goals of Yalta II, as some of the leaders described it, were likely to be achieved anytime soon. Ukrainian President Leonid Kuchma, the host of this year's meeting, pointedly appealed to the European Union not to create a new "paper curtain" of travel restrictions in place to the now-collapsed "Iron Curtain" of the Cold War. Such restrictions on the "free movement of law-abiding citizens of states aspiring for European integration," Kuchma suggested, could effectively divide the continent in ways that would make it difficult, if not impossible, for states once submerged in the Soviet empire to recover. Then, Estonian President Lennart Meri called attention to one of the problems that many of the other leaders only alluded to. While the countries of this region are now the subjects of history, he said, "none of us are simply subjects." As a result, the Baltic leader continued, his country and its neighbors "remain its objects as well, driven hither and yon by larger forces and larger states." Because of that, Meri said, the countries of this region cannot take anything for granted but must work together to defend their interests. And finally, in words that confirmed both the fears and the appeals of Meri and the others, the Russian representative at the Yalta meeting used the occasion to oppose the expansion of a Western institution that many of the countries in this region hope to join. Speaking on 10 September, Russian First Deputy Prime Minister Viktor Khristenko argued that "NATO's further expansion--including the Baltic states--would lead to the creation of new division lines and would in no case assist in the consolidation of security." Khristenko's appeal in itself reflects the continuing view of many in Moscow that it and no one else should play the dominant role in this region, a role that Stalin believed the West had ratified at the first Yalta conference. But at the same time, Khristenko made these comments in a city that is now part of an independent Ukraine and to an audience consisting of leaders of countries who have either gained or regained their independence from Moscow. And that fact demonstrates more clearly than anything else just how much the world has changed since 1945 and how significant Yalta II in fact was, both as a symbol of those changes and as an expression of hope for the future. 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. 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