|The trouble with being punctual is that nobody's there to appreciate it. - Franklin P. Jones|
RFE/RL NEWSLINE Vol. 3, No. 186, Part II, 23 September 1999
___________________________________________________________ RFE/RL NEWSLINE Vol. 3, No. 186, Part II, 23 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 * UKRAINIAN PARLIAMENT MOVES TO EXCLUDE KUCHMA FROM ELECTION RACE * SERBIAN OPPOSITION PROTESTS DWINDLING * SERBIAN LEADERS IN KOSOVA RESIGN FROM COUNCIL OVER NEW CORPS End Note: LITHUANIA'S PRESIDENT ADAMKUS LOOKS BACK, FORWARD xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx EAST-CENTRAL EUROPE BELARUSIAN PRESIDENT DECREES 1999 BUDGET ADJUSTMENT. Alyaksandr Lukashenka has decreed changing the 1999 budget to increase revenues by 99.9 trillion Belarusian rubles ($348 million, according to the official exchange rate), Belapan reported on 22 September. Under the decree, the budget deficit is raised by 10.7 trillion rubles, up from 33.5 trillion rubles. The decree explains the need for the adjustment by citing "deviations from the planned macro- economic parameters as well as from [planned] revenues and expenditures in the national, oblast, and Minsk City budgets." JM BELARUS REPORTS CONTINUED ECONOMIC GROWTH. According to the Ministry of Statistics and Analysis, Belarus's GDP in January-August rose 1.5 percent compared with the same period last year. Industrial output increased by 6.6 percent and agricultural output fell by 10.2 percent. Consumer prices rose 111.1 percent, while real incomes fell by 3 percent. JM UKRAINIAN PARLIAMENT MOVES TO EXCLUDE KUCHMA FROM ELECTION RACE. The Supreme Council on 22 September voted 286 to 12 to approve speaker Oleksandr Tkachenko's motion urging the Central Electoral Commission to ban President Leonid Kuchma from seeking re-election. The parliament cited alleged violations by Kuchma of the presidential election law. However, the motion is not expected to have any consequences for Kuchma because the election law does not specify how to remove registered candidates from the race. Kuchma commented that the parliament's decision was a result of his competitors' "hysteria and fear" of losing the vote, according to AP. All except one of Kuchma's 14 rivals are lawmakers. JM UKRAINE, BULGARIA, ROMANIA APPEAL FOR EU HELP TO CLEAR DANUBE OF DEBRIS. The transport ministers of Ukraine, Bulgaria, and Romania have appealed to the EU for financial aid to clear the River Danube of debris left by NATO air strikes against Yugoslavia. The debris has brought the Danube fleets of the three countries to a virtual standstill. Ukraine claims $70 million and Bulgaria $100 million in trade losses due to the suspension of navigation on the Danube. Romanian ship owners say they have had to lay off some 3,000 workers and have lost $90 billion, according to AP. JM MOLDOVAN PREMIER IN LATVIA. Ion Sturza continued his Baltic tour on 22 September by visiting Latvia, where he met with Premier Andris Skele. The two leaders signed agreements on investments promotion and protection as well as on shipping Moldovan goods via Latvian ports, LETA reported. The main topic of Sturza's various meetings, including with Transport Minister Anatolijs Gorbunovs and Economics Minister Vladimirs Makarovs, was bilateral trade. MH CRISIS BREWING WITHIN LITHUANIAN RULING PARTY OVER IGNALINA? A crisis appears to be developing within the ruling Conservative Party over the closure of controversial Ignalina nuclear power plant. Former Prime Minister Gediminas Vagnorius is currently lobbying to keep the first unit open, saying the shutdown plan is "hasty and groundless," ELTA reported. Recently, the government of Rolandas Paksas approved an energy strategy for 2000-2005, which calls for the shutdown of the first unit by 2005 (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 9 September 1999). Parliamentary deputy speaker Andrius Kubilius, also a member of the Conservative Party, supports the plan and has called for a "pragmatic" discussion on the shutdown. MH LITHUANIAN PRESIDENT VOWS TO PROSECUTE WAR CRIMINALS. Valdas Adamkus has reaffirmed Lithuania's commitment to prosecuting war criminals. Commemorating the 55th anniversary of the Vilnius ghetto massacre on 23 September, Adamkus repeated that Lithuania "firmly supports the further prosecution of those who participated in Nazi war crimes," Reuters reported. With regard to the suspension of the trial of accused war criminal Aleksandras Lileikis (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 10 September 1999), Adamkus insisted that it "should not be interpreted in any way as a weakening of the Lithuanian government's resolve to bring those who are guilty of such crimes to justice." The suspension has drawn criticism from Israel and the Simon Wiesenthal Center. MH POLISH PREMIER OUTLINES PRIORITIES FOR NEXT TWO YEARS. Jerzy Buzek has unveiled his government's plan for the next two years, listing as priorities internal security, job creation, improving the situation in the agricultural sector, and stepping up efforts to join the EU. In a televised address to the nation on 22 September, Buzek said 1999 has been a difficult year that saw the introduction of four major reforms. "I am aware of all the mistakes we have made--we want to correct them," Buzek pledged. He rejected demands from the leftist opposition that his government resign and early elections be held. "Those who want early elections do not offer anything in exchange," he noted, adding that the left-wing government, which lost the 1997 elections, steered clear of tough but necessary reforms because it was afraid of becoming unpopular. JM CZECH REPUBLIC SUPPORTS BALTS' NATO ENTRY BID. President Vaclav Havel on 22 September told visiting Latvian parliamentary chairman Janis Straume that the Baltic States have the "full support" of the Czech Republic in their quest to join NATO, CTK reported. MS POPULAR POLITICIAN SUPPORTS DEMAND FOR CZECH MINISTER'S RESIGNATION. Petra Buzkova, deputy chairwoman of the ruling Social Democratic Party (CSSD) said on 21 September that she supports the Central Bohemian CSSD Committee's demand that Deputy Prime Minister Egon Lansky resign from the cabinet (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 21 September 1999). Buzkova, who in opinion polls is rated as the most popular CSSD politician, told Czech Radio that local CSSD branches have the right to asses the performance of party ministers and to exercise an influence on the cabinet lineup. She said she will support the demand for Lansky's dismissal if he does not resign of his own free will, CTK reported. But Lansky told Prime television that he will resign only if Prime Minister Milos Zeman asks him to. MS AUSTRIA 'DISAPPOINTED' BY SLOVAK NUCLEAR PLANT DECISION. Eduard Kukan has informed Austrian Foreign Ministry State Secretary Benita Ferrer-Waldner about the Slovak government's decision to shut down the nuclear power plant at Jaslovske Bohunice, CTK reported on 22 September, citing the Austrian APA agency (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 17 September 1999). Kukan, who is attending the UN General Assembly in New York, told Ferrer-Waldner that the first reactor will be closed in 2006 and the second in 2008. The Austrian diplomat said Vienna takes note of the decision "with disappointment." "This is not what we expected," she commented. MS COUNCIL OF EUROPE REPORT REFERS TO HUNGARIAN EXTREMISTS. An appendix to a Council of Europe report notes that two extremist parties have been represented in the Hungarian parliament since 1998, Hungarian media reported on 23 September. The Hungarian Justice and Life Party (MIEP) is referred to as a "xenophobic, anti-Semitic party" that opposes NATO membership, while the ruling coalition Independent Smallholders' Party is described as "Catholic, conservative, xenophobic and anti-Western." MIEP Chairman Istvan Csurka said he considers the appendix "a private letter" commissioned by "Slovak, Romanian, and Serbian elements that would very much like to ruin Hungary's reputation." MSZ HUNGARIAN, ROMANIAN FOREIGN MINISTERS MEET. Janos Martonyi told his Romanian counterpart, Andrei Plesu, in New York on 22 September that he is satisfied with the Romanian cabinet's denouncement of Cluj Mayor Gheorghe Funar's recent attacks on the new Hungarian consul general in Romania, Laszlo Alfoldi (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 17 September 1999). Plesu told Martonyi that the Romanian government will soon earmark space for a proposed Romanian-Hungarian "reconciliation park." MSZ SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE SERBIAN OPPOSITION PROTESTS DWINDLING... Far fewer people turned out on the second day of opposition protests against the government of Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic, Reuters and AP reported. A crowd estimated at 6,000-10,000 demonstrated in Belgrade on 22 September, compared with the 20,000 who protested on the previous day. Only about one- third of the 10,000 people who protested on the first day in Novi Sad showed up on the second day--a pattern repeated in most of the nearly 20 cities in which protests were organized. Zoran Djindjic, a leader of the movement Alliance for Change, said the opposition is "doomed" if Serbs "do not find the energy" to attend the protests. PB ...AS PRO-GOVERNMENT MEDIA ATTACK DEMONSTRATIONS. State- controlled media have been deriding the opposition movement. Tanjug called the coalition "NATO mercenaries" who want to "create chaos [and] provoke upheavals and clashes." The state-run daily "Politika" said that all the opposition does is "deliver empty promises for a handful of dollars donated by their foreign mentors." Independent news agency Beta also reported on 22 September that there is no sign that the Association of Free and Independent Unions' call for a general strike the previous day was heeded. PB MONTENEGRIN PRESIDENT SAYS MILOSEVIC MAY PROVOKE ANOTHER CRISIS. Milo Djukanovic said in Strasbourg on 22 September that he "cannot rule out" the possibility of Yugoslav President Milosevic's initiating a crisis in Yugoslavia, Belgrade-based Radio B2-92 reported. Djukanovic, who gave an interview to the radio station one day before he is to address the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, said such a crisis could take the form of using force against demonstrators in Serbia, attempting to gain control of Montenegro, forcibly suppressing a referendum there, or even sending troops into Kosova. Djukanovic said that the international community would defend both Kosova and Montenegro in the face of such an attack. He blamed Milosevic for the current situation in Kosova, saying "Milosevic's whip always resulted in a backlash for his own people." PB MEDIA WATCHDOG PROTESTS CONFISCATION OF WEEKLY. The media watch group Reporters sans Frontieres sent a letter to Serbian Interior Minister Vlajko Stojiljkovic on 22 September protesting the seizure of the latest issue of the independent weekly "Reporter" as it was being transported from Bosnia- Herzegovina into Serbia (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 22 September 1999), Beta reported. The letter urged that the impounded copies of the weekly be released immediately and that Belgrade allow future issues of the publication and other Bosnian Serb press to be sold freely in Serbia. PB SERBIAN LEADERS IN KOSOVA RESIGN FROM COUNCIL OVER NEW CORPS. Serbian Resistance Movement chairman Momcilo Trajkovic and Prizren Bishop Artemije on 22 September resigned from the multiethnic Kosova Transitional Council to protest the formation of the Kosova Protection Corps, Beta reported. Trajkovic said "the international community wants to solve Kosovo's problems on an ethnic basis, and by forming this Kosovo Corps, it's over for [a] multiethnic Kosovo." Trajkovic and Bishop Artemije were seen as influential moderate leaders of the Serbian community in Kosova. Bernard Kouchner, the head of the UN Mission in Kosova, said "they did not refuse to cooperate and we will remain in everyday contact.... We need them." He said time is needed to establish trust between the Serbian and ethnic Albanian communities. PB NATO COUNTRIES DEFEND CREATION OF CORPS. The foreign ministers of Britain, France, Italy, Germany, and the U.S. defended the decision to transform the Kosova Liberation Army (UCK) into the civilian protection force for Kosova, AP reported on 22 September. During a press conference at the UN in New York, U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright said she thought it is "quite remarkable" that ethnic Albanians have been handing in weapons. She said it is "very hard to ask people to give up their weapons and not give them something in exchange." But at a rally for the corps in Skenderaj, at which many people were still wearing their UCK uniforms, former UCK political leader Hashim Thaci told onlookers, many of whom were armed, that "this force will guard and protect every foot of Kosova." PB UN TRIBUNAL SAYS THOUSANDS EXHUMED FROM MASS GRAVES. The UN Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia said on 22 September that war crimes investigators have recovered thousands of bodies from some 150 mass graves in Kosova and that more are exhumed each day, Reuters reported. Tribunal spokeswoman Kelly Moore said there are still some 350 suspected mass grave sites to investigate. She added that more charges of genocide will be filed for crimes committed in Kosova. Meanwhile in that republic, one Turkish soldier was killed and five German peacekeepers were injured in separate incidents on 22 September. PB U.S. OFFICIAL WARNS CROATIA OVER STANCE ON TRIBUNAL. A U.S. government official said on 22 September that Croatia's economy has a real opportunity to "revive" if Zagreb cooperates with the UN war crimes tribunal at The Hague and extradites an indicted suspect, AP reported. But David Aaron, U.S. undersecretary for commerce, added that if Croatia does not hand over Mladen Naletilic to the tribunal, its economy could suffer "extremely negative" consequences. Aaron made his comments in Zagreb at the end of a tour of Balkan states. He did not elaborate. The U.S. is the largest foreign investor in Croatia. Naletilic is in custody in Zagreb and is awaiting a verdict on an appeal he made to the Croatian Supreme Court to block his extradition to The Hague. Local newspapers claim the U.S. has given Croatia two weeks to hand over Naletilic. PB IZETBEGOVIC CRITICIZES PEACEKEEPERS. Alija Izetbegovic, the Muslim member of the Bosnian-Herzegovinian presidency, said on 21 September in Kuwait City that the NATO peacekeepers in Bosnia are ineffective, the Kuna news agency reported. Izetbegovic said the situation is Bosnia is negatively affected by the "presence of leading criminals who are at large but cannot be caught." He said it would be better if NATO forces were "more active" in detaining them. Izetbegovic left Kuwait the following day for an official visit to Turkey. In other news, Rajko Vasic, a member of the Bosnian Serb government of Premier Milorad Dodik, denied a report by the Onasa news service that Dodic recently met with Yugoslav President Milosevic (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 21 September 1999). PG GERMAN CHANCELLOR PLEDGES SUPPORT FOR ALBANIA. Visiting Albania on 22 September, Gerhard Schroeder thanked Albanian Premier Pandeli Majko for the government's support during the war in Kosova and pledged that Germany will aid Tirana in securing an association agreement with the EU, Reuters reported. Schroeder said that because of Albania's "stabilizing" role during the Kosova conflict, it has "the right to enjoy the solidarity of Europe." He said this means that an EU association agreement will be reached "as soon as possible." Schroeder, the first German chancellor to visit Albania, praised the government's fight against corruption and lawlessness and said winning such a fight "is important" in attracting foreign investment. Majko told Schroeder that Germany has played an important role in the history of Albania. Germany is Albania's second-largest donor country. PB ILIESCU, PDSR CONTINUE TO LEAD IN ROMANIAN POLL. Former President Ion Iliescu and his Party of Social Democracy in Romania (PDSR) top a public opinion poll conducted in early September by the Center for Public Opinion and Market Research. Both Iliescu and the PDSR are backed by 40 percent of the electorate, well ahead of President Emil Constantinescu (17 percent) and the Democratic Convention of Romania (CDR, 21 percent). The findings are in line with a survey conducted by the same institute in June. The September poll also shows former Foreign Minister Teodor Melescanu with 14 percent backing, followed by Greater Romania Party (PRM) leader Corneliu Vadim Tudor (9 percent). The extremist PRM is third in party preferences, with 9 percent support. Nearly half of those polled (48 percent), however, were either undecided or did not respond, Mediafax reported. MS IMF AGREES TO HIGHER ROMANIAN BUDGET DEFICIT. The IMF has agreed to a deficit of 4.1 percent of GDP this year, instead of 3.9 percent as previously agreed. The chief IMF negotiator for Romania, Emmanuel Zervoudakis, made that announcement at the end of his visit to Romania on 22 September, Mediafax reported. Zervoudakis said the higher deficit is a result of budgetary allocations for orphanages. He said that during its fact-finding mission over the previous two weeks, the fund established that the program agreed on earlier this year with the Romanian authorities has been "by and large implemented within its established parameters." He added that some positive developments have been noted as a result of reducing the current account deficit. On the other hand, inflation has been higher than planned and the economic decline steeper than envisaged. Zervoudakis said Romania will have to borrow $470 million from international financial lenders to cover its budgetary deficit. MS MOLDOVA TO RENOUNCE WEAPONS SHARE IN TRANSDNIESTER ARSENAL? At talks with Russian President Boris Yeltsin in Moscow earlier this month, Moldovan President Petru Lucinschi proposed that Chisinau renounce its share of the Russian arsenal deployed in Transdniester and in return have its debt for deliveries of Russian natural gas written off, Infotag reported on 22 September, citing the Russian daily "Izvestiya." MS COUNCIL OF EUROPE APPROVES BULGARIAN LOCAL ELECTION LAW. Amendments to Bulgaria's local election law are "not inconsistent" with the European Charter on Local Self Government, the Council of Europe's Congress of Local and Regional Authorities of Europe said in a note to the Bulgarian parliament, BTA reported on 22 September. The opposition Socialist Party had requested that the council rule on the amendments after the Constitutional Court refused last month to deem them unconstitutional. MS BULGARIAN PRESIDENT DENIES OFFERING U.S. MILITARY BASES. Petar Stoyanov has dismissed reports in the media that Bulgarian officials recently conducted talks with the U.S. on setting up military bases on Bulgarian territory, BTA reported on 22 September. However, Stoyanov remarked that "we must not approach this problem shyly [sic] if Bulgaria wishes to prove its orientation toward NATO." He said that the devastating earthquake in Turkey has destroyed a large U.S. military base there and that "it is possible [that] U.S. warships [will] take shelter in Bulgarian ports, if the U.S. navy command makes [such] a request." MS END NOTE LITHUANIA'S PRESIDENT ADAMKUS LOOKS BACK, FORWARD by Breffni O'Rourke It's a big step from being a worker in a Chicago automobile factory to becoming the head of state of Lithuania. But Valdas Adamkus has managed such a leap in the course of a lifetime marked by sharp contrasts. In fact, it could be said that his life reflects the kaleidoscope of events in the Baltics over most of this century. Born in Kaunas in 1926, when Lithuania and neighboring Estonia and Latvia were independent, the young Adamkus was caught up in the tragedies of the Soviet annexation and the German occupation. A teenage resistance member during the war years, he and his family fled westward in 1944. Five years later, in 1949, they emigrated to the U.S., where Adamkus began working at the Chicago auto plant and then went on to study civil engineering. In the early 1970s, Adamkus joined the new U.S. Environment Protection Agency, eventually becoming U.S. coordinator for the Baltic states on environmental protection. Adamkus then rose through the U.S. federal civil service, before returning to his homeland to contest Lithuania's 1998 presidential election. He won that ballot by a narrow margin and has managed to steadily increase his popularity since then. This week, Adamkus paid his first state visit to the Czech Republic for talks with President Vaclav Havel and other Czech leaders. While in Prague he visited RFE/RL's headquarters, where he spoke to foreign and domestic journalists. Asked about how the time he spent in the U.S. impacted on his political thinking, Adamkus said that "50 years is almost a lifetime for the grown individual, and I have to say that definitely I grew up within a democratic society, with democratic principles. Like I said, democracy cannot be learned from books, and I feel I am part of that system, part of the principles and thinking." On the broader theme of democratization, Adamkus spoke of his pleasure at the slow but steady transformation in social consciousness now taking place in Lithuania. He said the whole country seems to be striving toward accepting individual responsibility, the new philosophy so different from that of the last half-century: "What really is delightful is that the attitude, philosophy, and outlook among the people is changing, especially I would say among the younger generation. What is disappointing for me is that these changes, in terms of the economy, in terms of improving standards of living for people, are not happening as rapidly as I would like." Turning to foreign policy issues, Adamkus noted that Lithuania's geo-political situation is very sensitive and its policy based on the EU's guidelines of recognizing states but not becoming internally involved in them. He said Lithuania is strongly committed to good working relations with its eastern neighbors, Russia and Belarus. Asked specifically about ties with Belarus, Adamkus replied: "I believe there is a very warm feeling [on the part of Lithuanians] toward the people of Belarus, but the difficulty we have right now is the very uncertain situation as to whom we should speak to, because the [Belarusian] people are divided on that issue. Legally they say that the present regime does not represent actually the people, it represents only the government, the bureaucracy. And of course this is not for us to decide; that's what makes things very difficult". Turning to the issue of Lithuania's integration into Western structures, the president expressed confidence in prospects for joining both the EU and NATO. He said he believes there are good prospects that at its Helsinki summit in December, the EU will invite Lithuania to begin formal membership negotiations. He played down Lithuania's dispute with the union over the timetable for closure of the Ignalina nuclear power plant, which the EU considers unsafe. He said there is a common European understanding of the need for safety in nuclear power issues. As for NATO, he said he believes that barring unexpected developments, Lithuania will become a member early next century. Commenting that all signs are positive, he noted that Lithuania is already playing a supporting role in international peacekeeping operations, such as in Kosova. xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx Copyright (c) 1999 RFE/RL, Inc. All rights reserved. xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx HOW TO SUBSCRIBE Send an email to email@example.com with the word subscribe as the subject of the message. HOW TO UNSUBSCRIBE Send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org with the word unsubscribe as the subject of the message. 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