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RFE/RL NEWSLINE Vol. 3, No. 181, Part II, 16 September 1999
___________________________________________________________ RFE/RL NEWSLINE Vol. 3, No. 181, Part II, 16 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 * FORMER SLOVAK PREMIER PROMISES COMEBACK * MONTENEGRO: NO SIGN OF COMPROMISE FROM MILOSEVIC * SESELJ'S PARTY MAY FACE BAN IN BOSNIA xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx EAST-CENTRAL EUROPE LUKASHENKA CANCELS HARVEST FESTIVALS. Following a 15 September cabinet meeting devoted to the situation in the agricultural sector, Belarusian President Alyaksandr Lukashenka has decided to cancel the national harvest festival in Shklou and all oblast harvest festivals, Belarusian Television reported. The station cited no reason for this decision. Belarusian media reported earlier that this year's harvest totaled some 3.7 million tons, far below the projected target of 6 million tons. JM DIASPORA CALLS FOR AID TO BELARUS TO DEPEND ON HUMAN RIGHTS. On 15 September in New York, a session of the Presidium of the Belarusian Democratic Republic Council, which represents the Belarusian diaspora in the West, adopted an appeal "On Financial Assistance to the Republic of Belarus," RFE/RL's Belarusian Service reported. The forum urged Western governments and international financial organizations to make financial assistance to Belarus conditional on the country's compliance with international human rights standards, the release of political prisoners, and the return to the rule of law. JM UKRAINIAN PARLIAMENT OVERRIDES PRESIDENT'S VETO ON BUDGET BILL. Lawmakers have overridden President Leonid Kuchma's veto on a bill introducing amendments to the 2000 budget, the "Eastern Economic Daily" reported on 16 September. The amendments, adopted by the parliament in June, provided for additional allocations to pay wage arrears to teachers, finance the agricultural sector, and increase the financing of the presidential elections. The parliament also rejected a presidential bill on additional sources of revenues to pay wage and pension arrears as "overtly populist." Kuchma proposed state-owned assets such as non-arable land, sanatoriums, spas, and hotels be sold to raise funds for this purpose. JM ALL ESTONIAN SOLDIERS TO BE INSURED. Defense Minister Juri Luik announced on 15 September that all Estonian military personnel will be insured. The Defense Ministry's 2000 budget for next year has allocated more than 3 million kroons ($200,000) for this purpose, BNS reported. The ministry will soon announce a tender for the insurance policy package, Estonian media reported. MH LASCO CONFUSION FORCES LATVIA TO ISSUE EUROBOND. The government announced on 15 September that it will issue bonds for 75 million euros ($77.9 million) in October. Finance Minister Edmunds Krastins explained that the "delay in privatization matters" means expected revenues will not be forthcoming for an indefinite period, LETA reported. The proceeds from the sale of the Latvian Shipping Company (LASCO) are included for spending in the 1999 budget, but intra-coalition disputes have held up the sale (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 18 June and 18 August 1999). Meanwhile, the decision to issue the bonds in October is reportedly to offset any possible disruptions in the global financial market due to the so-called millennium bug. MH VILNIUS TO HOST CONFERENCE ON IGNALINA SHUTDOWN. Lithuanian Economics Minister Eugenijus Maldeikis told journalists on 15 September that an international donors conference will take place in Vilnius this fall on the shutdown of the Ignalina nuclear power plant. ELTA reported that the initial scheme to fund the shutdown foresees the EU covering about half of the costs for the first unit at Ignalina. The government recently announced that it will close that unit in 2005 (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 9 September 1999). Maldeikis also said that the EU will issue grants worth 200 million euros ($209 million) over the next decade to finance the closure of the first unit and will provide possibly some 10 million euros for further safety improvements at Ignalina. Experts believe that closing the first unit will cost some 10 billion litas ($2.5 billion), excluding compensating the town of Visaginas, where most of Ignalina's employees live, for its ensuing losses. MH POLAND, RUSSIA DIFFER OVER 1939 SOVIET INVASION. Russia's Foreign Ministry on 14 September issued a statement saying the Soviet invasion of Poland on 17 September 1939 was "dictated not so much by the wish to gain new territories as by the need to protect our own country," PAP reported. The ministry took issue with the comparison of the Soviet invasion to Nazi Germany's attack on Poland on 1 September 1939. It also accused "certain circles in Poland" of politicizing the issue in order to claim reparations. Poland's Foreign Ministry responded on 15 September by saying that the Soviet annexation of eastern Poland in 1939 bore the "hallmarks of aggression," as defined in the London Convention of 1933, to which the USSR was a signatory. The Polish ministry added that Polish-Russian relations "cannot be built on a denial of historical truths." JM CZECH PREMIER HAILS ECONOMIC PERFORMANCE. "We have fulfilled our promise and have taken the country out of the [economic] crisis," Prime Minister Milos Zeman told "Lidove noviny" on 15 September. He was responding to data released by the Central Statistics Office, according to which GDP in the second quarter of 1999 grew by 0.3 percent. Zeman said that this is "the happiest day" since his Social Democratic Party took over power one year ago. "Until now I and the entire cabinet were like a pilot approaching the earth in a falling plane. Now the pilot sees blue skies," CTK reported him as commenting. MS BAHAMAS REINTRODUCE VISA REQUIREMENT FOR CZECHS. The Bahamas on 15 September announced the re-introduction of a visa requirement for Czech citizens. A spokeswoman for the Bahamas embassy in London told CTK that the Bahamas have unilaterally abolished visa requirements for a number of countries but the requirements have been re-introduced for the Czech Republic, as well as Hungary, Poland, Slovakia, and Russia, because those countries did not reciprocate. In late August the Bahamas, a member of the Commonwealth, introduced visa requirements for Slovaks. It explained that the step was in line with similar measures introduced by the U.K., which last year introduced the requirement for Slovak citizens to halt an influx of Roma seeking asylum there. MS FORMER SLOVAK PREMIER PROMISES COMEBACK. "After last year's election, I firmly intended not to return to politics, but since the new government has made a lot of blunders, an increasing number of people want my return," Vladimir Meciar told the Austrian daily "Die Presse" on 15 September. He said that early elections are very likely and that in the meantime, social unrest cannot be ruled out because the government's economic policies are "disastrous," CTK reported. MS SLOVAK POLITICIAN TO SET UP NEW PARTY. Robert Fico, whom the polls show to be the most popular politician in Slovakia, announced on 15 September he is leaving the Democratic Left Party and will set up a new political formation, CTK reported. He said that until the new party is established, he will be an independent deputy in the parliament. His departure does not affect the government parliamentary majority, which now has 92 out of 150 deputies belonging to the ruling four-party coalition. MS MONTENEGRO PRESIDENT IN HUNGARY. Prime Minister Viktor Orban on 15 September told visiting Montenegro President Milo Djukanovic that Hungary would like to see Montenegro join the OSCE and the Council of Europe, Hungarian media reported. Djukanovic said Montenegro continues to rely on Hungarian political and economic help. He said that the efforts of the Vojvodina ethnic Hungarian minority to gain autonomy are "legitimate." "I believe we have a common enemy, the last anti-democratic and dictatorial regime in Europe, which not only wants to strangle the autonomy of Vojvodina but also totally ignores Montenegro," Djukanovic said in reference to the regime of Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic. MS SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE MONTENEGRO: NO SIGN OF COMPROMISE FROM MILOSEVIC. Montenegrin Prime Minister Filip Vujanovic said in Paris on 15 September that his government has received "no sign that [Yugoslav] President Slobodan Milosevic is ready for talks about [Montenegro's] demand for more autonomy within the Yugoslav federation," RFE/RL's South Slavic Service reported. Meanwhile in Budapest, Montenegrin President Milo Djukanovic charged that Milosevic is bent on destabilizing Montenegro and replacing the current government with "puppets." Djukanovic added that outsiders should not pin too great hopes on the Serbian opposition, noting that only the Serbs can bring democracy to Serbia. He told his hosts that Montenegro will seek admission to the OSCE and the Council of Europe, even though it is not an independent country, the "Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung" reported. He also said that Malev and Montenegro Airlines will begin flights between Budapest and Podgorica in October. PM UN INTERVIEWS CANDIDATES FOR KOSOVA CORPS. The UN's International Organization for Migration (IOM) on 15 September began interviewing applicants for positions in the Kosova Corps, a UN spokeswoman told an RFE/RL South Slavic Service correspondent in Prishtina. The IOM has so far registered over 10,700 applicants, most of them former Kosova Liberation Army (UCK) fighters. The Kosova Corps will have a staff of 5,000, including 2,000 reservists. KFOR spokesman Ole Irgens said the corps will not be a military or defense force, nor will it be in charge of implementing the law or maintaining public order and security. FS KFOR GENERAL SAYS KOSOVA IS DEVELOPING 'VERY WELL.' Major- General Pierre Giuseppe Giovanetti, who is the deputy head of KFOR, told an RFE/RL South Slavic Service correspondent in Tirana on 15 September that "the general situation in Kosova is going very well. Going very well means that the level of incidents have decreased [considerably]. We are sure that we [will see] a big improvement in the near future." Giovanetti added that KFOR expects the UCK to meet its demilitarization deadline of 19 September. Referring to recent threats by Yugoslav Army General Vladimir Lazarevic to retake Kosova by force, Giovanetti said the Yugoslav Army is "not a threat to NATO" (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 8 September 1999). He explained that the June military-technical agreement between NATO and the Yugoslav authorities envisages the return of several hundred Serbian police to Kosova, but he pointed out that this is not going to happen until "the atmosphere permits." FS KFOR DISCOVER WEAPONS CACHES. A KFOR official said in Prishtina on 15 September that the peacekeeping troops raided homes in various regions of Kosova that day and confiscated arms, explosives, and ammunition, RFE/RL's South Slavic Service reported. U.S. soldiers arrested three Serbs near Gjilan, who were in possession of "large amounts" of weapons. In Shtrpce, Polish soldiers arrested another Serb in possession of arms and a Serbian paramilitary police uniform. Meanwhile, "The Daily Telegraph" on 16 September quoted an unnamed high-ranking NATO official as saying that UCK commanders are seeking ways of keeping some of the organization intact and are "squirreling away" some of its guns. FS BRITISH RAILWAY WORKERS SEND HUMANITARIAN TRAIN TO KOSOVA. The Train of Events charity, a group of still active and retired British railway workers, have loaded a train with humanitarian aid for Kosova. Representatives of the organization told Reuters on 15 September that it will be "the first time" that a train runs directly from Britain to the former Yugoslavia. The "Train for Life" is scheduled to leave Britain on 17 September. It will carry 800 tons of aid, including supplies to equip a school. The train's three locomotives will be donated to the UN Mission in Kosova to help deliver winter housing materials. FS REFUGEES FROM PRESEVO LAUNCH HUNGER STRIKE IN MACEDONIA. Ethnic Albanian refugees from the Serbian town of Presevo recently began a hunger strike in the refugee camp of Cegrane, near Gostivar, an RFE/RL South Slavic Service correspondent reported on 15 September. The refugees demand that either they be transferred to third countries while the UNHCR prepares their return to Presevo or the UNHCR opens a refugee camp for them in Kosova. UNHCR spokesman Bujar Idrizi said "the UNHCR cannot organize their return to...Presevo, because it cannot guarantee their security there." On 14 September, the Macedonian government ruled that residency permits of all refugees will expire on 28 September. Idrizi, however, said that "the UNHCR will negotiate with the Macedonian government [and demand] that all refugees who cannot return now to their homes will have their residency rights extended." FS CLARK DEFENDS WAR RECORD. NATO's Supreme Commander Europe General Wesley Clark told NATO ambassadors that the alliance's spring bombing campaign was highly effective. He argued that pilots hit 181 Serbian tanks, of which 93 were destroyed. A diplomat who attended the closed-door presentation in Brussels on 15 September told Reuters that Clark delivered an "impressive report. [He and his staff] clearly applied very rigorous accounting standards" in determining how effective the air strikes were. Reuters suggested that Clark's presentation was intended to counter Yugoslav claims that NATO destroyed only 13 Serbian tanks during the bombing campaign. PM KARADZIC REPORT JUST 'PROPAGANDA?' A spokesman for the international community's Wolfgang Petritsch said in Sarajevo on 15 September that a Muslim daily's recent report of a public appearance by indicted war criminal Radovan Karadzic is "incorrect," Reuters reported (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 15 September 1999). The spokesman suggested that Sarajevo's "Dnevni avaz" had published the story as "propaganda" to show that the international community has grossly neglected the task of catching war criminals and bringing them to justice. Mensur Osmovic, who is the editor-in-chief of "Avaz," told the news agency that he stands by his story. He stressed that "this is not about propaganda." PM SESELJ'S PARTY MAY FACE BAN IN BOSNIA. Republika Srpska Prime Minister Milorad Dodik has drawn up legal measures to ban Serbian Deputy Prime Minister Vojislav Seselj's Radical Party from the Bosnian Serb entity, the Frankfurt-based Serbian daily "Vesti" reported on 16 September. Dodik is only waiting for an "opportune moment" to make the ban public, an unnamed "high official of the international community" told "Vesti." The ban would also remove 11 Radicals from the parliament. It is unclear whether new parliamentary elections would be necessary as a result. U.S. Ambassador to the UN Richard Holbrooke recently called for a ban on the Radicals and on Karadzic's Serbian Democratic Party on the grounds that they propagate ethnic hatred, which is banned under the 1995 Dayton peace agreement. PM ALBANIA'S NANO BLASTS MAJKO FOR SUPPORTING BUKOSHI'S FIGHTERS... Former Prime Minister Fatos Nano has accused his successor, Pandeli Majko, of having allowed the Armed Forces of the Republic of Kosova (FARK) of Kosovar shadow-state Prime Minister Bujar Bukoshi to smuggle arms through Albania before and during the recent Kosova conflict. Nano made the remarks in a speech to supporters in Fier on 15 September, an RFE/RL South Slavic Service correspondent reported. Nano said that Majko allowed FARK to train on Albanian territory. The former premier charged that Majko did so even though he knew that FARK was involved in arms smuggling and in an armed uprising by the Albanian opposition one year ago (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 14 September 1998). FS ...WHILE SOCIALIST PARTY TO LOOK INTO ALLEGATIONS. Gramoz Ruci, who heads the Socialist faction in the parliament, told an RFE/RL South Slavic Service correspondent on 15 September that legislators will discuss Nano's allegations at a special session. He pledged that "if there is such information, the Socialist Party structures will respond in an appropriate way." Jolos Beja, who is a Socialist deputy from Fier and head of the parliamentary commission dealing with emergency aid for Kosova, said that "Nano [must] give the National Information Service (SHIK) the documents that prove his charges." FS BUCHAREST COURT DENIES REGISTRATION TO FORMER PREMIER'S PARTY. Former Prime Minister Victor Ciorbea on 15 September said that the decision of the Bucharest Appeals Court the previous day to refuse registration to his National Christian Democratic Alliance (ANCD) is "illegal, unconstitutional, and undemocratic," RFE/RL's Bucharest bureau reported. The court upheld an appeal by the Prosecutor-General's Office and the National Peasant Party Christian Democratic (PNTCD) against the party's registration on grounds that its emblem too closely resembles that of the PNTCD (from which the ANCD split in April) and on several procedural grounds. The Bucharest Tribunal, which decided to grant registration on 28 July, is to review the registration application once the ANCD has dealt with the objections raised against it. Ciorbea appealed to President Emil Constantinescu, saying he must seek to stop political intervention in the judiciary. MS ROMANIA DENIES INTENTION TO IMPOSE VISA REQUIREMENT ON MOLDOVANS. Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Simona Miculescu said reports in the Moldovan press that Romania intends to impose visa requirements for Moldovan citizens are "speculation" aimed at "creating tension between the citizens of the two states," Flux reported on 15 September. She noted that both countries are striving for integration into the EU, which "means that in the future they will both be part of the Schengen agreements." Miculescu added that the process of integration is "long and complex" and involves "certain regulations on border crossing." She added, however, that Romania's "political will" is to have "privileged relations" with Moldova, meaning that "there will be no restrictions on traffic between the two banks of the River Prut." MS KAZAKHSTAN'S PRESIDENT IN BULGARIA. Nursultan Nazarbaev and his Bulgarian counterpart, Petar Stoyanov, meeting in Sofia on 15 September, signed seven bilateral agreements and a declaration on promoting cooperation and friendship, BTA reported. The declaration notes the "strategic importance" of the TRACECA project, which will provide access for the countries of Central Asia and the Caucasus to the trans- European and trans-Asian transport networks, and of the Interstate Oil and Gas Transport to Europe Program (INOGATE). Nazarbaev said his country is ready to compete with OPEC countries in supplying crude oil to Europe if pipelines between Bulgaria and other Balkan countries are built. Premier Ivan Kostov told journalists that Nazarbaev showed "great interest" in the planned Bourgas-Alexandropolis pipeline project, but "I was surprised to learn that I was the first one to have told him about it," he added. MS IMF RELEASES TRANCHE TO BULGARIA. The IMF on 15 September released a $72 million tranche of its three-year $860 million stand-by credit to Bulgaria, an RFE/RL correspondent in Washington reported. IMF First Deputy Managing Director Stanley Fischer said the fund's executive board noted that the Kosova crisis has had an impact on Bulgaria and that the closure of inefficient state enterprises has entailed new social costs for the country. Fischer said the IMF is urging Bulgaria to complete its privatization program. MS 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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