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RFE/RL NEWSLINE Vol. 3, No. 183, Part II, 20 September 1999
___________________________________________________________ RFE/RL NEWSLINE Vol. 3, No. 183, Part II, 20 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 * LUKASHENKA ACCUSES WEST OF 'PROVOCATIONS' AGAINST BELARUS * UCK OFFICIALS BALK ON DEMILITARIZATION * AVRAMOVIC URGES MILOSEVIC, MILUTINOVIC TO RESIGN xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx EAST-CENTRAL EUROPE LUKASHENKA ACCUSES WEST OF 'PROVOCATIONS' AGAINST BELARUS. U.S. Ambassador to Belarus Daniel Speckhard on 17 September expressed concern over the disappearance of Belarusian oppositionist Viktar Hanchar (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 17 September 1999). French envoy to Minsk Bernard Fossier noted that Hanchar's disappearance may "torpedo" the dialogue between the opposition and the authorities in Belarus, according to Belapan. Belarusian President Alyaksandr Lukashenka said the following day that "some politicians" tend to destabilize the situation in Belarus by resorting to "various provocations" and by claiming that Belarus is a totalitarian state where people disappear without trace, Belarusian Television reported. "I would ask the West to look for [those disappeared people] in the West before making loud statements," Lukashenka added. JM IMF SAYS BELARUS MUST IMPLEMENT REFORM TO COUNT ON MONEY. IMF spokeswoman Kathleen White on 17 September said Belarus will have to lower inflation, liberalize its economy, and implement structural reforms before applying for IMF financial assistance, Reuters reported. White was responding to Belarusian National Bank Chairman Pyotr Prakapovich's announcement last week that Belarus will "insist and demand" that the IMF lend it $230 million. Prakapovich had said Minsk will ask for the money under emergency and stand-by loan programs because of this year's poor harvest and other problems. JM UKRAINIAN PARLIAMENT RAISES MINIMUM PENSION. The parliament on 17 September voted 299 to eight to approve raising the minimum pension from the current 24.9 hryvni ($5.4) to 55 hryvni, AP reported. Given President Leonid Kuchma's repeated vetoes of several pension increases, the parliament's 17 September decision seems to be yet another example of the confrontation between the legislature and the government ahead of the 31 October presidential elections. State Pension Fund head Borys Zaychuk commented that his fund, whose annual revenues total 13 billion hryvni, will not be able to find the additional 9.7 billion hryvni needed to pay for the increase. JM UKRAINE, KAZAKHSTAN SIGN DEALS ON OIL, GAS SUPPLIES. Talks between Ukrainian President Leonid Kuchma and his Kazakh counterpart, Nursultan Nazarbaev, on 17-18 September resulted in the signing of several protocols on cooperation in the oil and gas sectors and a 10-year cooperation agreement (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 17 September 1999), the "Eastern Economic Daily" reported on 20 September. Ukraine wants Kazakhstan to supply 5 billion cubic meters of gas next year so that Kyiv is less dependent on gas supplies from Russia and Turkmenistan. Kazakhstan agreed to supply 1.5 million tons of oil to Ukraine by the end of this year. JM BALTIC TRANSPORT MINISTERS PLEDGE FURTHER COOPERATION. Transport ministers Toivo Jurgenson (Estonia), Anatolijs Gorbunovs (Latvia) and Rimantas Didziokas (Lithuania) met on 16-17 September in the Latvian port city of Ventspils. The three ministers pledged continued cooperation in transport and fuel taxation as well as in the "Via Baltica" transport link, LETA reported. MH POLAND, GERMANY, DENMARK INAUGURATE JOINT NATO CORPS. NATO's Multinational Corps Northeast, which is made up of three divisions from Poland, Germany, and Denmark, has begun operations at its headquarters in Szczecin, northwestern Poland. Polish President Aleksander Kwasniewski said at the corps' official inauguration on 18 September that the event signals the "true beginning" of Poland's activities in NATO. "The corps' creation does not mean we are building new walls. Europe cannot end at the eastern border of Poland," German Defense Minister Rudolf Scharping said in Szczecin. The corps, commanded by a Danish general, will specialize in NATO peacekeeping and rescue missions. JM SOLIDARITY LEADER SAYS 'POSITIVE RESULTS' OF REFORM SOON EVIDENT. Solidarity leader Marian Krzaklewski told some 100,000 workers at a rally in Czestochowa on 19 September that Poland will soon see "positive results from the reforms and new programs" implemented by the current Solidarity-led coalition, Polish media reported. According to Krzaklewski, the movement has again been attacked by an "anti-Solidarity virus." This time, he said, that virus is nurtured by "our errors and our lack of faith" as well as by a "blockade on media information about our activities." JM PROVINCIAL GOVERNOR LIFTS BAN ON PROTEST IN WARSAW. Mazowsze Province Governor Antoni Pietkiewicz on 17 September lifted a ban on a trade union demonstration that some 100,000 people are expected to attend on 24 September (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 15 September 1999). Warsaw Mayor Pawel Piskorski had earlier banned the demonstration, arguing that it would paralyze the city. JM CZECH COMMUNISTS READY TO RETURN TO POWER. An opinion poll conducted by STEM shows the Communist Party of Bohemia and Moravia (KSCM) closing the gap with the Civic Democratic Party (ODS), CTK reported on 17 September. The KSCM is backed by 20.5 percent of the electorate, and if elections were held now, it would gain 52 mandates in the Chamber of Deputies, just two mandates fewer than the ODS, which received 20.9 percent support. The ruling Social Democratic Party is backed by only 15 percent. The findings are in line with a poll released one day earlier by the Institute for Social Research. On 16 September KSCM leader Miroslav Grebenicek said his party expects to win the next parliamentary elections. He said the KSCM "would be glad to take over a country whose economic state would be at least as good as [how] it was left in 1989." MS CZECH PREMIER CONCEDES TANK SALE TO YEMEN. Responding to journalists' questions on 17 September, Prime Minister Milos Zeman said the government decided two days earlier to sell Soviet-made T-54 and T-55 tanks to Yemen, CTK reported. He refused to provide any other details and said in response to another question that he "knows nothing" about Yemen's intention to re-export the tanks to a third country. Petr Necas, chairman of the Chamber of Deputies' Defense and Security Committee and a member of the ODS, criticized Zeman for refusing to provide details of the deal, saying Yemen may not be the end destination of the tanks. He said that recently Poland has also sold tanks to Yemen, which then resold them to Sudan. MS CZECH PRESIDENT IN SLOVAKIA. Vaclav Havel, paying his first official visit to Slovakia, told his Slovak counterpart, Rudolf Schuster, that the days of "strained relations" are over and ties between the two countries will continue to improve. Havel said that the Czech Republic could learn from Slovakia's strong civil society, CTK and SITA reported on 17 September. The two presidents said the problem of the division of former federal property will probably be resolved by year's end. Visiting Kosice on 18 September, Havel said that Slovakia might be admitted to the EU ahead of the Czech Republic. He also said he is heartened to see Kosice's multi- ethnic population, commenting that "when I am sick of the Czech political stage, I will come to be recomforted [sic] in this friendly town." MS SLOVAK PARLIAMENT SAVES EXTREMIST LEADER FROM PROSECUTION. The parliament on 17 September voted 42 to 19 with 17 abstentions against lifting the parliamentary immunity of Slovak National Party leader Jan Slota, SITA reported. Police requested Slota's immunity to be lifted on suspicion of incitement to ethnic and racial hatred. In a speech earlier this year, Slota called on Slovaks to "level Budapest to the ground" and insulted members of the country's Roma community, saying he would never consent to having Roma defined as an ethnic minority because they "are just Gypsies who steal, rob, and pilfer." MS HUNGARIAN JOURNALISTS TO PROTEST PLANNED TV DISMISSALS. The Press Correspondents' Club announced on 18 September that it will stage a protest against the pending dismissals of more that 500 employees of Hungarian Television (MTV). The statement said the 23 September rally will be staged to defend the freedom of the press against the appointment of "political commissars." MTV chairman Laszlo Zsolt Szabo confirmed that a total of 1,000 staff will be laid off in two phases. The cuts will result in a saving of 2.8 billion forints ($11 million) next year, he explained. The opposition Socialist Party said a "political purge" is taking place at MTV, saying the reorganization is aimed at serving the interests of the governing parties. MSZ SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE UCK OFFICIALS BALK ON DEMILITARIZATION. The leaders of the Kosova Liberation Army (UCK) on 20 September failed to agree with NATO and UN officials on the future of the demilitarized force and extended the demilitarization deadline by two days, AFP reported. UCK political leader Hashim Thaci said after all-night meetings with General Mike Jackson, the commander of NATO's peacekeeping force, that "the process of demilitarization is still ongoing." UN Mission chief Bernard Kouchner joined the talks early on 20 September. Thaci and UCK military leader Agim Ceku reportedly object to a NATO plan to transform the UCK into an unarmed 5,000-strong Kosova Corps to assist in humanitarian and rescue missions, and they want the new organization to be the basis of a new armed force for Kosova. AP reported that the two sides also disagree over the number of weapons to be given to the Kosova Corps, the right to wear UCK insignias, and control over positions within the corps. PB THACI CRITICIZES KOUCHNER, CALLS FOR INDEPENDENCE AT UN. UCK political leader Thaci has accused Kouchner of not consulting with Kosovar Albanians but says he is not calling for the UN mission chief to resign, AP reported. Thaci, who was in New York on 19 September for meetings with UN officials, said "what we are asking for is cooperation. We are not asking for a king." He noted that all of Kouchner's "negative positions" could be improved. UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan cited a busy schedule when explaining why he did not meet with Thaci, who instead held talks with an assistant to Annan and with U.S. Ambassador to the UN Richard Holbrooke. Thaci also insisted that Kosova must eventually become independent and should have some representation at the UN. Annan said such a request ran contrary to UN resolution 1244 and would not be possible "for the foreseeable future." PB UCK HOLDS PARADES THROUGHOUT KOSOVA. Tens of thousands of people turned out for a parade of UCK soldiers on 18 September in anticipation of a farewell ahead of the deadline for the force to disarm and disband, Reuters reported. UCK military leader Ceku and commander Sulejman Selimi led the parade through downtown Prishtina to the sports stadium, where UCK leaders gave speeches to supporters. Political leader Thaci said he is sure the international community "will respect the democratic right for self-declaration and a referendum [on independence]." Similar events were held in Peje and in Rznic, where UCK fighters handed over Kalashnikov rifles to Italian peacekeepers on 20 September to symbolize the demilitarization. NATO officials said more than 10,000 weapons have been turned in by the UCK. PB SERBIAN OPPOSITION LEADER CALLS FOR UN OFFICIALS TO RESIGN. Vladan Batic, the coordinator of the Alliance for Change opposition movement in Serbia, called on the UN mission chief Kouchner and Kosova Stabilization Force (KFOR) officials to resign because of their failure to protect the Serbian population of Kosova, Beta news agency reported on 19 September. Batic said Kosova used to be "the cradle of the Serbian people, but today it is their grave." In an open letter to KFOR, Batic said that instead of protection, Serbs are being offered reservations as safe havens. He also criticized UN officials for supporting UCK leaders instead of "liberal, democratically-oriented [ethnic] Albanian politicians." PB AVRAMOVIC URGES MILOSEVIC, MILUTINOVIC TO RESIGN... Former National Bank Governor Dragoslav Avramovic said on 18 September that Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic and Serbian President Milan Milutinovic must resign since they are a "major obstacle for the future integration of Yugoslavia into the world community," AP reported, citing the Belgrade radio station B2-92. Avramovic said he knows that Milosevic, being a "smart and responsible person, has enough strength to step down." Avramovic curbed hyperinflation in late 1993 as head of the Yugoslav National Bank and was an ally of Milosevic. He is frequently mentioned as a possible head of an interim government for Yugoslavia. Zoran Djindic, a leader of the Alliance for Change opposition movement, said on the same day that daily protests in 16 Serbian cities against Milosevic will begin on 21 September and should begin having an impact by November. PB ...AS DRASKOVIC SWINGS BACK TOWARD OPPOSITION. Vuk Draskovic, the leader of the Serbian Renewal Movement, said on 19 September that his party will take part in protests against the government only if Milosevic refuses to agree on early elections, AP reported. Draskovic said the opposition, led by the Alliance for Change, would have to draw up a document calling for early elections and present an ultimatum to Milosevic. Draskovic, who served earlier this year in Milosevic's government, opposes installing an interim government before early elections. PB HIGH COMMISSIONER SACKS BOSNIAN OFFICIALS. Wolfgang Petritsch, the international community's newly installed top official in Bosnia-Herzegovina, dismissed two top Bosnian Croat officials for obstructing the peace process, Reuters reported on 17 September. Bosnian Croat Stipo Babic was sacked as justice minister of the Herceg-Bosna canton, and Borivoje Malbasic was fired from his position as the head of the town of Drvar's municipal council. Petritsch said implementation of the Dayton accords is "especially poor" in Herceg-Bosna and "certain offenders and notorious suspects appear to be immune from prosecution, while minorities are extensively discriminated against." Malbasic was removed for failing to convene regular sessions of the council. Drvar was Serb-dominated before it was captured by Croatian forces in 1995 and has been the scene of violence between Croats and Serbian returnees. PB SRPSKA'S RULING COALITION WANTS PRESIDENTIAL ELECTIONS. The Western-leaning Bosnian Serb Sloga (Unity) coalition will ask the OSCE to hold a presidential election if Republika Srpska Vice President Mirko Sarovic refuses to accept the presidency, Reuters reported on 19 September, citing "Oslobodjenje." Srpska President Nikola Poplasen was sacked by former High Commissioner for Bosnia Carlos Westendorp in March for obstructing implementation of the Dayton peace agreement. He has refused to recognize the dismissal. In other news, Russia's upper house of parliament, the Federation Council, has approved extending the mandate of the 1,400 Russian troops serving in Bosnia. They will remain there until 31 July. PB POPE VISITS SLOVENIA. John Paul II, on a one-day visit to Slovenia on 19 September, denounced rampant nationalism in the Balkans and urged Slovenians to build peace in Europe, AP reported. At a mass for some 100,000 people in Maribor, the pontiff decried the nationalism evident during World War II as well as during the wars of Yugoslav succession. He also beatified 19th century bishop Anton Martin Slomsek, the first Slovene to be honored in this way. The pope met with President Milan Kucan and representatives of the Serbian minority in Slovenia. The Catholic Church and the Slovenian government have recently been at odds over property restitution and religious education in schools. PB ROMANIA'S HUNGARIANS DISAGREE ON PRIVATE UNIVERSITY. The Hungarian Democratic Federation of Romania's Consultative Council on 17 September announced that the private Hungarian university about to be set up with Budapest's assistance will be based in Cluj and have branches in Oradea, Targu Mures, Brasov, Sfantu Gheorghe, Timisoara, and other Transylvanian towns. The council thereby overruled the party's honorary chairman, Bishop Laszlo Tokes, who had said that the university will be a religious one based in Oradea. The council also said that the setting up of the private university does not mean that the demand for a state university offering instruction in Hungarian will be renounced. MS ROMANIA'S FORMER MONARCH CLAIMS BACK PROPERTY. Former King Michael, whose Romanian citizenship was restored in 1997, has started legal proceedings to reclaim properties confiscated by the communist regime, RFE/RL's Bucharest bureau reported on 17 September. AP quoted Simona Mezincescu, a close friend of the royal household, as saying that the former monarch wants the properties back in order to stay in them when he visits Romania because "hotels are too expensive." MS ROMANIA SAYS LAND MINES AD WAS 'MISTAKE.' The National Defense Ministry on 18 September said that an advertisement showing outlawed anti-personnel land mines was a "mistake." The advertisement was run by the Romtehnica state-owned arms manufacturer at an international arms fair in the U.K. The ministry said that those responsible for including the advertisement in the catalogue distributed at the fair have been punished, RFE/RL's Bucharest bureau reported. The British Ministry of Defense has called for an investigation into the incident. MS BULGARIA, EU DISCUSS CLOSURE OF KOZLODUY UNITS. Meeting with an EU delegation on 17 September, Bulgarian officials offered three options for the early closure of four controversial nuclear reactors at the Kozloduy plant, Reuters reported, quoting Ivan Shilyashki, chief of Bulgaria's energy agency. This is the first time that Bulgaria has shown readiness to close the reactors earlier than planned. The EU has long been demanding early closure and, in return, might allocate funding for alternative energy projects. Reuters also quoted Metodi Konstantinov, a member of the Bulgarian negotiating team, as telling journalists that the three options envisaged the closure of the four reactors one, two, or three years earlier than the time frame set by the government. According to the parliament's energy strategy, reactors one and two are to be shut down in 2004-2005 and reactors three and four in 2208 and 2010. MS xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx Copyright (c) 1999 RFE/RL, Inc. 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