|The mind is not a vessel to be filled, but a fire to be ignited. - Plutarch|
RFE/RL NEWSLINE Vol. 3, No. 179, Part II, 14 September 1999
___________________________________________________________ RFE/RL NEWSLINE Vol. 3, No. 179, Part II, 14 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 * SLOVAKIA'S MECIAR CALLS FOR CIVIL DISOBEDIENCE * ARE SERBIAN POLICE ACTIVE IN KOSOVA? * HUNGARIAN CHRISTIAN UNIVERSITY INAUGURATED IN ROMANIA End Note: BETWEEN THE BIBLE AND THE TRADEMARK xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx EAST-CENTRAL EUROPE BELARUS TIGHTENS SECURITY AFTER MOSCOW BLAST... The Interior Ministry on 13 September said it has taken special measures to protect Belarusian citizens in connection with the growing number of terrorist attacks in Russia. According to Belarusian Television, the police and Interior Ministry troops are concentrating on maintaining order and guaranteeing security at recreation areas and enterprises as well as on public transportation. JM ...AS DOES UKRAINE. President Leonid Kuchma on 13 September signed a directive providing for measures to strengthen "public security and guard technically dangerous facilities." Kuchma appealed to citizens to take in their stride any inconveniences they may experience in crossing the state border or participating in public events. JM UKRAINIAN CABINET APPROVES 2000 DRAFT BUDGET. The government has approved a 2000 draft state budget that provides for revenues totaling 37.4 billion hryvni (some $8 billion). The government expects to gain 2.5 billion hryvni from the privatization of state property. A list of enterprises designated for sale in 2000 was submitted earlier to the parliament. JM MINIMUM WAGE TO BE RAISED IN ESTONIA. The government and representatives of trade unions and employers signed an agreement on 13 September raising the minimum monthly wage from the current 1,250 kroons ($83) to 1,400 kroons as of January 2000. The agreement also establishes the minimum annual tax-free income at 9,600 kroons as of 200, compared with the current 6,000 kroons, and foresees that figure rising to 12,000 kroons in 2001. MH LATVIAN-LITHUANIAN MARITIME BORDER PACT BACK ON TRACK? While the Latvian parliament's Economics Committee rejected the Latvian-Lithuanian maritime border treaty last week (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 8 September 1999), its Foreign Affairs Committee approved the treaty on 13 September. The vote was six to two with two abstentions and one member failing to vote, BNS reported. Most experts predict that the debate over the impact of the treaty will continue in the Latvian parliament itself. Latvian fishermen, meanwhile, have said they will block ports if the treaty is ratified. MH LARGE MILITARY EXERCISE BEGINS IN LITHUANIA. The "Amber Hope '99" peacekeeping exercises began on 13 September on the Rukla training site. The exercises bring together more than 1,000 servicemen from Lithuania, Poland, Denmark, Germany, and Romania. The Lithuanian-Polish peacekeeping battalion (LITPOLBAT) is also participating in the maneuvers. MH POLISH LEFTIST LEADER WARNS AGAINST 'SOCIAL EXPLOSION.' Leszek Miller, leader of the opposition Democratic Left Alliance (SLD), said on 13 September that the "feeling of helplessness and frustration" among Poles may result in a "large-scale conflict and social explosion," PAP reported. Miller criticized Jerzy Buzek's cabinet, saying its biggest fault was the "violent slowdown of economic growth." Miller stressed the need to hold early parliamentary elections (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 13 September 1999). He also noted that the SLD, which was formally registered as a political party in April, has more than 34,000 members, one-third of whom are under 30. JM EU COMMISSIONER'S INTERVIEW ON CZECH REPUBLIC DISTORTED. CTK on 13 September said a summary of EU commissioner Guenter Verheugen's interview with "Der Spiegel" that was distributed by the magazine the previous day distorted the commissioner's statement (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 13 September 1999). In the interview, Verheugen says that "no one knows whether admission [to the EU] will be implemented in groups" and that "at the moment, all [countries seeking membership] still have an equal chance." He also said that Vaclav Klaus's cabinet "did not take the talks with the EU very seriously" and behaved "as if the EU were approaching the Czech Republic and not vice-versa." That cabinet "did not want fully-fledged membership" but "a free-trade zone" At the same time, Verheugen noted that the minority government of Milos Zeman "really wants full-fledged integration." MS SLOVAKIA'S MECIAR CALLS FOR CIVIL DISOBEDIENCE. Former Prime Minister Vladimir Meciar, in an interview with the private VTV television on 12 September, called on Slovaks to start staging "protests, strikes, and rallies" to bring about a change of the political situation in the country, CTK and SITA reported. He said the ultimate goal of these protests should be early elections by June. Meciar added that his Movement for a Democratic Slovakia will play a "leading role" in organizing these protests and will transform itself by June into "a people's party" that he "will lead in the elections, if chosen to do so by it." MS SLOVAK HUNGARIAN LEADER WANTS BENES DECREES ABOLISHED. Hungarian Coalition Party (SMK) honorary chairman Miklos Duray, in an interview with SITA on 13 September, said that as a member of the ruling coalition, the SMK strives to "remove all undemocratic elements" from Slovak politics, including the Benes decrees. Duray was responding to Czech Premier Milos Zeman's statement that the Benes decrees have "faded away." He said the SMK will not raise the issue in the cabinet because the coalition agreement does not mention it. However, if a petition garnered enough support, the cabinet would have to deal with it, he noted. MS SLOVAK DEPUTY PREMIER AGAIN ATTACKS DZURINDA ALLY. Ivan Miklos, deputy premier in charge of the economy, has again criticized Economy Minister Ludovit Cernak, a close ally of the premier, for the way his ministry handled the tender in which the SE utility company chose Devin Banka to clear part of Russia's debt to Slovakia (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 10 September 1999). Miklos told journalists that the cabinet agreed that responsibility for the irregularities rests with the economy minister. He added that Cernak told the cabinet he will accept whatever decision Miklos takes with regard to the affair, SITA reported on 13 September. MS SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE ARE SERBIAN POLICE ACTIVE IN KOSOVA? NATO'S Supreme Commander Europe General Wesley Clark told an RFE/RL South Slavic Service correspondent in Prishtina on 13 September that "one of the Serbian assailants...who was killed by the Russian forces [near Gjilan on 6 September] was carrying a [Serbian Interior Ministry] ID card" (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 7 September 1999). Clark added that another of the dead was wearing a "paramilitary uniform." He said that "we cannot permit this" and that he is "increasingly concerned by the evidence that we see of organized Serbian efforts to cause a little bit of disruption here and there and to bring increasing pressure on this fragile community.... There is an obligation [on Belgrade's part] that these Serbian forces are out [and] are going to stay out." He indicated that at a later date, KFOR will discuss the possible return of some unspecified Serbian "personnel" to clear minefields, protect monuments, or monitor border crossings. FS CLARK: KOSOVA CORPS NOT A MILITARY ORGANIZATION. General Clark told an RFE/RL South Slavic Service correspondent in Prishtina on 13 September that the planned Kosova Corps will be an exclusively civilian body that will undertake humanitarian and emergency tasks and reconstruction efforts. Clark stressed that the Kosova Liberation Army (UCK) has accepted that arrangement (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 13 September 1999). Following a visit to the UCK's general staff, Clark said he expects the UCK to meet its demilitarization deadline on 19 September. The NATO commander visited Russian troops in Malisheva and praised their role in KFOR. Clark met briefly with Britain's Prince Charles, who visited British troops and spoke with UN Special Representative Bernard Kouchner. FS EU FOREIGN MINISTERS CALL FOR END OF VIOLENCE IN KOSOVA... The EU foreign ministers, meeting in Brussels on 13 September, denounced any form of violence in Kosova and expressed concern that many Serbs and other minorities have recently left the region, an RFE/RL South Slavic Service correspondent reported from the Belgian capital. The ministers stressed that all refugees must be able to return to their homes, regardless of their ethnic or religious origin. They said that the UN civilian administration must develop a complete institutional framework as soon as possible, and they pledged to assist in the reconstruction of the region through the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development. The ministers also said they expect the demilitarization of the UCK to be completed by 19 September. And they expressed their concern about several thousand people who disappeared during the war and whose fate remains unknown. FS ...PLEDGE TO PROMOTE DEMOCRACY IN SERBIA. The same day, the EU foreign ministers expressed their willingness to support democratic forces in Serbia, particularly in cities governed by parties that oppose the regime of Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic, an RFE/RL South Slavic Service correspondent reported. The ministers issued a statement saying that "the time has come to establish formal contacts with the representatives of democratic forces in Serbia and Montenegro." They agreed to invite opposition representatives to Brussels to discuss how to provide energy to towns with anti-Milosevic mayors and pledged to "make sure that the regime will not benefit from EU action in favor of the population," Reuters reported. Meanwhile, Bodo Hombach, who is coordinator of the EU's stability pact for Southeastern Europe, submitted his first report to the foreign ministers. FS SERBIAN ECONOMISTS: GOVERNMENT CAUSING MONETARY INSTABILITY. Mladjan Dinkic, who is the spokesman for the G-17 group of independent economists, said in Belgrade on 13 September that the recent drop in the value of the dinar was caused by the government's printing money without adequate hard-currency reserves to back it up (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 13 September 1999). Dinkic added that he expects the inflation rate for 1999 to reach 70 percent by the end of December, RFE/RL's South Slavic Service reported. PM UN ENVIRONMENT TEAM WARNS OF 'HOT SPOTS' IN SERBIA. Finland's Pekka Haavisto, who heads the UN Environment Team's Balkan Task Force, said in Belgrade on 13 September that NATO bombing of Serbian targets in the spring did not in itself cause "any ecological catastrophe," AP reported. He noted that there are nonetheless two "hot spots" in industrial areas that should be cleaned up soon lest pollution spread. He cited unspecified "toxic waste" at the Kragujevac automobile plant and mercury and other pollutants in a canal near the Pancevo petrochemical works. It is unclear whether the environmental damage was caused or exacerbated by the bombings or if it occurred before the air attacks began. PM CROATIA GOES TO THE HAGUE. Justice Minister Zvonimir Separovic presented Croatia's case against Yugoslavia to the Hague-based war crimes tribunal on 13 September. Zagreb has accused Belgrade of genocide against Croats in the course of the 1991-1995 war. An RFE/RL correspondent quoted a Yugoslav lawyer at the tribunal as saying that Belgrade will file similar charges against Zagreb. PM TUDJMAN PLEDGES FIGHT AGAINST CORRUPTION. Croatian President Franjo Tudjman said at the opening of the Zagreb Trade Fair on 13 September that Croatia is coming out of a recession. He added that the economic situation remains "complex but not dramatic," RFE/RL's South Slavic Service reported. The president lambasted crime and corruption, pledging a "merciless" struggle against those who break the law. PM NGOS SEEK BAN ON CROATIAN RIGHTIST PARTY. The Croatian Helsinki Committee and the Croatian Movement for Democracy and Social Justice called on the parliament and the state Prosecutor's Office to launch proceedings to ban the right- wing Croatian Party of Historical Rights (HSP), an RFE/RL correspondent reported from Zagreb on 13 September. Representatives of the two human rights groups wrote that the HSP's leader Ante Djapic recently urged the army to stage a coup if the government extradites any Croatian generals to The Hague (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 8 September 1999). The rights groups listed additional charges against Djapic, whom they accused of glorifying the pro-Axis World War II regime of Ante Pavelic and of openly opposing rights for ethnic minorities. PM ALBANIAN POLICE ARREST WAR LORD. Police arrested Nehat "The General" Kulla in Elbasan on 12 September, AP reported. During a raid on his bunker-like home, police discovered a large arms cache, including explosives, machine guns, and mortars. While serving a prison sentence for murder in March 1997, Kulla escaped from prison during the anarchy that swept the country. He went on to become a folk hero in a northern Tirana suburb, where he maintained a relatively high degree of public order. The Supreme Court subsequently overturned his original conviction. At one time, Kulla drove an army vehicle with government number plates, which suggests he had powerful friends. He enjoys popularity among many poor residents of Tirana because of his reputation of helping them when asked. FS ALBANIAN GOVERNMENT DENIES EXISTENCE OF 'DEATH SQUADS.' A spokesman for the Public Order Ministry on 10 September denied recent allegations by the opposition daily "Albania" that the government has eliminated suspected criminals recently by using "death squads," dpa reported. The spokesman said that "such squads do not exist. The police fight crime only by legal means." "Albania" quoted unnamed police officials as saying the squads are composed of experienced policemen who have executed several well-known gang leaders. The daily alleged that the government set up the squads after courts repeatedly released gang leaders for "lack of evidence." FS ALBANIAN PREMIER ORDERS TOP OFFICIALS TO DECLARE WEALTH. Pandeli Majko issued an order in Tirana on 10 September obliging all high-ranking government officials, including the heads of ministerial departments, to declare their personal wealth. Those officials must also declare their families' assets and the sources of this wealth. The measure is designed to curb rampant corruption, dpa reported. FS ROMANIAN RULING PARTY LEADER CRITICIZES PREMIER. Responding to Prime Minister Radu Vasile's threat to leave the National Peasant Party Christian Democratic (PNTCD) if criticism against him in the party does not end (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 13 September 1999), PNTCD leader Ion Diaconescu said that "criticism is common in a democracy," RFE/RL's Bucharest bureau reported on 13 September. He added that the threat "demonstrates that [Vasile's] allegiance to the party's political ideas is circumstantial and interest-serving." MS HUNGARIAN CHRISTIAN UNIVERSITY INAUGURATED IN ROMANIA. Reformed Church Bishop Laszlo Toekes inaugurated the Partium Christian University for ethnic Hungarians in Oradea on 11 September, Romanian Radio reported. The university will comprise both religious and non-religious faculties and will have some 700 students. It is to be funded by private donations and the Hungarian government. Asked by Romanian Television to respond to the opening of the new university, Education Minister Andrei Marga said he "knows nothing" about it. MS JEWISH CEMETERY DESECRATED IN ROMANIA. Unknown perpetrators recently desecrated two tombstones in the Galati Jewish cemetery, Romanian Television reported on 13 September. The same day, "Cotidianul" reported that a cross was erected by followers of Iron Guard leader Corneliu Zelea Codreanu at Tancabesti, where the Romanian fascist leader was assassinated in 1938 on the order of King Carol II. MS KOSOVA MERCENARIES RECRUITED IN MOLDOVA? Stefan Uratu, chairman of the Moldovan Helsinki Committee on Human Rights, told journalists on 13 September that Moldovan mercenaries were recruited during the Kosova crisis and sent to fight on the side of the Yugoslav army. He said he has information on at least 20 cases of veterans of the Afghanistan war fighting with Yugoslav troops. The mercenaries, he noted, were paid $2,000 a month, Flux reported. Uratu also said that mercenaries from the Transdniester are being recruited to fight in "military conflicts in Russia" and that, according to unidentified sources, "some Transdniestrians" were involved in the recent terrorist acts in Moscow. MS MACEDONIAN DEFENSE MINISTER IN BULGARIA. Nikola Kljusev told journalists in Plodviv on 12 September that "there are many positive results" in relations between Bulgaria and Macedonia and "there is no reason why these relations should not continue developing in this direction," BTA reported. Kljusev was attending the inauguration of the Multinational Peace Force Southeastern Europe. He said that by the end of this month, Macedonia will receive from Bulgaria a second shipment of decommissioned military equipment. A final shipment is expected within a month or two. Visiting the military academy in Veliko Turnovo, northern Bulgaria, on 13 September, Macedonian Chief of Staff General Trajce Krstevski said the common aim of both armies was NATO membership and that the Macedonian military wished to "learn from the Bulgarian experience on military reform." MS END NOTE BETWEEN THE BIBLE AND THE TRADEMARK By Michael Shafir Slovak Prime Minister Mikulas Dzurinda's announcement early last week that he is returning to the ranks of the Christian Democratic Movement (KDH) surprised many observers. Interpretations of that move ranged from the "biblical" to the "post-modern." According to "Pravda," society was witnessing the "Return of the Prodigal Son," whereas the more skeptical "Sme" predicted that the premier was about to launch a "Fight for KDH Trademark". Both head-lines appeared on 8 September and both were right, each in its own way. Which is another way of saying that both were equally wrong. The "biblical" interpretation is "past-oriented," as political scientists might be inclined to say. It refers to Dzurinda's repeated declarations that it is "out of question" that the Slovak Democratic Coalition (SDK) be dismembered into its five "mother parties"--the KDH, the Social Democratic Party, the Democratic Union, the Democratic Party, and the Green Party. Dzurinda, in fact, appears to have been defeated by KDH leader Jan Carnogursky, whose advocacy of the SDK as a loose alliance of the five "mother parties" seems to have been accepted by a humiliated premier. On learning of Dzurinda's move, Carnogursky said it shows that "in Slovakia it is not possible to make politics without the KDH and that all attempts to liquidate the KDH, under whatever pretext, are bound to fail." Carnogursky's deputy, Vladimir Palko, appeared to add insult to injury, commenting that Dzurinda and the other SDK officials who followed him back into the ranks of the KDH, "had to make a choice between sacrificing their vision or their political future, and they decided to sacrifice the vision." But did they really? The "future-oriented" or "trademark" interpretation begs to disagree. Its proponents are likely to admit that Dzurinda has been unable to defeat his adversary but are no less likely to remind those willing to listen of the old adage "if you can't beat them, join them." Or rather, "re-join them," in Dzurinda's particular case. The premier, according to this interpretation, is bound to launch a struggle to unseat Carnogursky. Unable to change the KDH "from without," Dzurinda will question his old-new party's policies "from within." And what he has in mind is no less than the transformation of the KDH from a "traditional" Christian-Democratic party with limited voter appeal into a modern formation able to appeal to much larger segments of the electorate. There are several factors supporting this interpretation. On making his "return announcement," Dzurinda said on 6 September that his decision was prompted, among other things, by his desire to "halt the decreasing popularity" of the KDH. He added that the party "needs a new political agenda." What that agenda will be Dzurinda failed to specify. But it is noteworthy that when Carnogursky voted against a coalition agreement on education because he wanted religious teaching to be backed by state support, Dzurinda was unable to remove him as justice minister. Should he be able to undermine Carnogursky's position from within the KDH, things might look different next time. No less important, Dzurinda retains his position as SDK chairman. At first glance, this may appear a disadvantage, since the KDH statutes prevent SDK officials from seeking leadership positions in the party. Dzurinda told journalists at his 6 September press conference that it is "too early" to say whether this provision will be changed. The timing is interesting. As in Hamlet's soliloquy deploring the fact that "The time is out of joint; O cursed spite/That ever I was born to set it right," Dzurinda's "too early" does not rule out "setting right" the course of the KDH in the not too distant future. His return to the party, he said, is aimed at changing the party's "orientation" to ensure that "it would not attempt to disengage from the SDK too much." As for challenging Carnogursky himself, it was, of course, "too early" to decide. Which is another way of saying that the decision has, in fact, been taken. A "post-modern" scenario in Shakespearean costume, then? This is how Carnogursky read it. Following Dzurinda's return, he said, the party was likely to witness " a noble struggle" between two opinions on the movement's future. The struggle (or is it a battle?) seemed to have been over by 12 September, when the KDH's Executive Council decided that in the 2002 parliamentary elections the party will run either independently or in an election coalition. All observers agreed that this will be the death blow for the SDK and for Dzurinda personally. "Pravda" summed it up under the caption "Return to your grave, SDK." If one is to believe these observers, Dzurinda has turned into a Yorick searching for his own skull. Yet the premier vowed to "take arms" and pursue the struggle. One thing is certain: no Shakespearean play is known to end with two kings ruling over the same kingdom. The question is which of the two, Dzurinda or Carnogursky, will prove willing to "trade his KDH kingdom" for a horse. For now, Carnogursky has kept the KDH's coat of arms all to himself. 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