|The only certainty is that nothing is certain. - Pliny the Elder|
RFE/RL NEWSLINE Vol. 3, No. 187, Part II, 24 September 1999
___________________________________________________________ RFE/RL NEWSLINE Vol. 3, No. 187, Part II, 24 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 * EU URGES BELARUS TO FIND DISAPPEARED OPPOSITIONIST * SOLANA REJECTS INDEPENDENCE FOR KOSOVA * DJINDJIC SAYS OPPOSITION PROTESTS WILL END IF SUPPORT CONTINUES TO WANE xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx EAST-CENTRAL EUROPE EU URGES BELARUS TO FIND DISAPPEARED OPPOSITIONIST. The EU on 23 September issued a statement calling on the Belarusian authorities to find opposition politician Viktar Hanchar, who disappeared along with a friend last week. The Belarusian Interior Ministry said the same day that the Prosecutor- General's Office has instigated criminal proceedings with regard to Hanchar's disappearance and suspects premeditated murder. The office opened a similar case on 21 September in connection with the disappearance of former Interior Minister Yury Zakharanka in May. The Interior Ministry also reported that former National Bank chairwoman Tamara Vinnikava, who disappeared in April while under house arrest, is abroad, but her precise whereabouts are unknown. JM BELARUS TO IMPORT 1.5 MILLION TONS OF GRAIN THIS YEAR. Deputy Premier Alyaksandr Papkou on 23 September said Belarus will have to import some 1.5 million tons of grain this year at an estimated cost of $100 million, Belapan reported. Papkou added that Kazakhstan and Russian regions such as Volgograd, Krasnodar, and Stavropol are expected to deliver grain to Belarus. JM UKRAINIAN PARLIAMENT ACCUSES PRESIDENT OF DICTATORSHIP. The parliament on 23 September approved a statement accusing President Leonid Kuchma of creating a dictatorship in the country ahead of the 31 October presidential elections, AP and ITAR-TASS reported. The parliament claims that the authorities are helping the incumbent president to secure his re-election, saying that the government is virtually neglecting its functions and has transformed itself into Kuchma's "campaign headquarters." JM MOLDOVAN PRIME MINISTER IN ESTONIA. Wrapped up his Baltic tour, Ion Sturza was in Estonia on 23-24 September. Following his meeting with Prime Minister Mart Laar, Sturza praised Estonia's reforms, which, he noted, have "proceeded much faster in Estonia than in Moldova and we are very much interested in the Estonian experience," BNS reported. The two prime ministers also signed a cooperation agreement on fighting crime. Estonian Foreign Minister Toomas Hendrik Ilves discussed the Transdniester situation with Sturza, calling on Russian forces to withdraw from Moldovan territory. MH NEARLY 200,000 NON-CITIZENS ELIGIBLE TO VOTE IN ESTONIAN LOCAL ELECTIONS. The Estonian Electoral Commission announced that for the 17 October local elections, registered voters number 1,058,818, of whom 194,525 are non-citizens. Estonian law allows anyone 18 and over who has a permanent residence permit to vote in local elections. In Tallinn, the nearly 90,000 non-citizen voters account for some 28 percent of the total electorate, BNS reported. In the northeastern Ida-Viru county, there are 66,113 citizens and 74,263 non-citizens on the election rolls. MH LATVIA ISSUES EUROBOND. Latvia on 23 September issued 75 million euros ($78.74 million) worth of bonds that have an 6.25 percent annual interest rate. The bonds, which will mature in May 2004, were placed through Credit Suisse First Boston, according to BNS. According to Latvian officials, the terms of this bond issue are the same as those for the 150 million euro bond issue in May of this year. The funds from the issue are to be used to plug a gap in the budget caused by the failure to privatize the Latvian Shipping Company (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 16 September 1999). MH LITHUANIA TO REPLACE IGNALINA? Amid growing debate over the government's plan to shut down the first unit of the controversial Ignalina Nuclear Power Plant (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 9 September 1999), a high-ranking member of the ruling Conservative Party has suggested Lithuania replace Ignalina with another nuclear plant, BNS reported. The Conservative Party's parliamentary faction has approved a plan whereby the second unit at Ignalina will be decommissioned in 2010. Deputy parliamentary speaker Andrius Kubilius said the party may supplement the current draft plans with the new proposal, but he added that if the debates prove to be "too stormy" the faction will abandon the plan and concentrate on the shutdown of Ingalina's first unit. JC POLISH PARLIAMENT REDUCES RESTRICTIONS ON ECONOMIC ACTIVITY. The parliament on 23 September passed a law reducing to seven the number of sectors in which licenses are required, PAP reported. These are minerals and explosives; arms, ammunition, and military know-how; fuel and energy; protection of property and persons; transport and air services; toll highway construction and maintenance; and radio and television broadcasting. The same day, the parliament introduced an amendment to the pension law whereby the social security agency will be able to borrow $1 billion from the state treasury to pay pensions and credits the agency drew earlier to stay afloat. JM POLISH STRETCH OF YAMAL-EUROPE PIPELINE OPENED. Gazprom head Rem Vyakhirev on 23 September participated in the inauguration of the 682-kilometer Polish stretch of the Yamal-Europe gas pipeline, PAP reported. According to Vyakhirev, the pipeline will carry up to 40 million cubic meters of gas a day by the end of this year. The EuRoPol Gaz company, which is 48 percent owned by Gazprom, financed the pipeline project in Poland. JM CZECH PREMIER RESPONDS TO BLAIR'S LETTER ON ROMA. Milos Zeman on 23 September said he has responded to a letter from British Prime Minister Tony Blair regarding the exodus of hundreds of Czech Roma to the U.K., CTK reported. In his letter, Blair indicated that Britain may have to introduce a visa restriction for Czechs if the situation is not resolved in the near future. Zeman described the letter as a "friendly warning" and said he responded with a letter detailing a list of government measures aimed at dealing with the situation. A record number of Czech Roma left the country for Britain in August. In other news, an official from the Council of Europe told CTK on 23 September that the council has submitted its analysis of the Czech Republic's press bill to Zeman's government. The report, which has not been officially released, is reportedly critical of certain provisions of that bill. VG CZECH DEPUTY PARLIAMENTARY CHAIRMAN OFFERS TO RESIGN. Stanislav Gross has asked the Social Democrats (CSSD) for a vote of confidence in his capacity as deputy chairman of the Czech Chamber of Deputies and as chairman of the CSSD parliamentary group, Czech media reported. Gross was responding to accusations in the media that he allowed a private company to pay for his cell phone. Many observers in the media view the affair as part of an internal power struggle within the governing Social Democratic Party. VG GERMAN OFFICIAL LINKS SLOVAK NUCLEAR DECISION TO EU ACCESSION. German Foreign Ministry State Secretary Wolfgang Ischinger told Slovak President Rudolf Schuster that Bratislava's decisions regarding nuclear energy could be "crucial" in the country's attempts to join the EU, Slovak media reported on 23 September. The comments were related to reports that the Slovak government intends to shut down the first reactor of the Jaslovske Bohunice nuclear power plant in 2006 and the second in 2008 (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 22 September 1999). Schuster said the issue has been analyzed by "experts" and should not be "politicized." VG HUNGARY DELAYS DUTCH MILITARY EXERCISE. The Hungarian parliamentary Defense Committee announced on 23 September that 10 Dutch F-16 fighter aircraft must obtain special parliamentary approval for cross-border military exercises in Hungary and Slovenia, according to a Hungarian radio report cited by the BBC. Earlier, the Hungarian Defense Ministry had agreed to allow the planes to conduct a seven-day exercise in the country but had made no mention of flights into Slovenian air space. As a result, the Defense Committee called for a special parliamentary vote on the issue for 27 September. Ferenc Juhasz, a Socialist Party member of the committee, blamed the Defense Ministry for the confusion. VG SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE SOLANA REJECTS INDEPENDENCE FOR KOSOVA... NATO Secretary- General Javier Solana said on 23 September that ethnic Albanians in Kosova will have to give up any plans for establishing independence from Belgrade, AP reported. Solana, speaking in Washington, said a "shifting of borders" in Yugoslavia could lead to fragmentation elsewhere in the Balkans and perhaps even in Russia. Solana, who will leave his post on 6 October, said he is confident that there will be "moral reconstruction" in Kosova but that "it will take time to cure the many wounds." Solana said the war waged by NATO in Kosova "changed the history of Europe." He added that the only disappointment of his tenure was that Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic is still in power. PB ...WHILE THACI ADVISER PREDICTS SOVEREIGNTY IN 10 YEARS. Sabri Kicmari, an adviser to Kosovar Albanian leader Hashim Thaci, said on 23 September that Kosova will be independent in 10 years, dpa reported. Speaking on Berlin radio, Kicmari said he is "sure that the majority of Kosova citizens will opt for independence." He said a return of some Serbian soldiers to the province, as mandated in the June peace agreement, is unacceptable. And he argued that Thaci could be viewed as the next prime minister of Kosova. "The Washington Post" reported on 24 September that many senior U.S. officials have dropped their opposition to Kosova breaking away from Yugoslavia, seeing such a development as inevitable. State Department spokesman James Rubin, however, said "we have always said we do not support independence for Kosova." PB SERBS VOW TO FORM THEIR OWN 'DEFENSE CORPS.' Kosovar Serb leader Momcilo Trajkovic said on 24 September that Serbs will demand that they be allowed to set up five cantons within Kosova and establish their own militia if the newly created Kosova Protection Corps is allowed to exist, AP reported. Trajkovic said the cantons will be formed in part of Prishtina and its surroundings, in northern Mitrovice, southeastern Gjilan, western Peje, and in the south of the province. He said his boycott of the interim Serb-Albanian council will end only if NATO and the UN agree to those demands. Trajkovic's plan to set up cantons based on ethnicity was dismissed by UN and NATO officials in Kosova several weeks ago. PB DJINDJIC SAYS OPPOSITION PROTESTS WILL END IF SUPPORT CONTINUES TO WANE. After the second straight day of declining support, Serbian opposition leader Zoran Djindjic said the campaign to oust Yugoslav President Milosevic will end unless more people join the demonstrations, Reuters reported. An initial crowd of some 400 increased to about 5,000 in Belgrade for the third rally on 23 September. That was about half the number who had protested the previous day. Protests organized by the coalition Alliance for Change in other towns and cities were also smaller than on previous days. Djindjic said "Belgraders have yet to realize that Milosevic's regime took away our freedom, our future." Alliance for Change coordinator Vladan Batic said the turnout was low at the start of the 1996 winter protests as well but that those rallies quickly turned into mass demonstrations. In a separate rally, some 2,000 high school students demonstrated against a ban on travelling abroad imposed by the education minister for "security reasons." PB YUGOSLAV MILITARY HOLDS EXERCISES NEAR KOSOVA. The Yugoslav army held military exercises on 23 September near its southern province of Kosova, Reuters reported. Colonel- General Nebojsa Pavkovic, the commander of Yugoslavia's Third Army, said after the exercises that Belgrade will not recognize the formation of the Kosova Protection Corps. He called the civilian force a "deceit and farce." PB COUNCIL OF EUROPE TO HELP GET MONEY TO REBUILD BRIDGES. The Council of Europe has unanimously adopted a Hungarian proposal to request financing from the EU to rebuild the destroyed bridges in Novi Sad, Hungarian Radio reported on 23 September. The proposal would allocate some $14 million for the reconstruction of the three bridges, which were wrecked during the NATO bombing campaign. PB MONTENEGRO TO DRAFT ITS OWN TRADE, CUSTOMS POLICIES. Deputy Premier Asim Telalevic announced on 24 September that Montenegro will begin drafting a trade policy independent of Belgrade, dpa reported. Telalevic said the republic will have to eventually draw up customs and trade regulations because of Serbian threats to block shipments for food and other goods to Montenegro. Montenegro has threatened to introduce its own currency and to even hold a referendum on independence if Belgrade does not agree to revise the relationship between the Serbian and Montenegrin republics. PB MACEDONIA FREES NORWEGIAN PEACEKEEPER. Macedonia has released a Norwegian soldier who was detained last month for his part in a car crash that killed Macedonian Minister without Portfolio Radovan Stojkovski, his wife, and daughter, Reuters reported on 23 September. His release ends a bitter battle between Skopje and Oslo, which claimed that as a member of NATO, the soldier could be tried for wrongdoing only in his home country. A NATO spokesman in Macedonia said the soldier will stand trial in Norway for charges associated with the accident. The NATO vehicle was reportedly travelling on the wrong side of the road when it struck the minister's car. The incident outraged many Macedonians who are wary of NATO's presence in their country. NATO still has several thousand troops in Macedonia. PB MACEDONIAN FOREIGN MINISTER ASKS THAT PROMISES BE KEPT. Aleksandar Dimitrov has urged the international community to fulfill the financial and political pledges it made to Macedonia during the Kosova crisis, an RFE/RL correspondent reported on 23 September. Addressing the UN General Assembly in New York, Dimitrov said that the consequences of the conflict are still being felt and that financial support from the international community is "indispensable" in order for the country's economy to recover. Dimitrov said the best guarantee for security in the Balkans would be to admit more countries in the region to the EU and NATO. In other news, Macedonia rejected appeals to allow some 450 Roma to cross the border from Kosova. The Roma said they are seeking to escape attacks by ethnic Albanians. PB PETRITSCH TO SET UP ANTI-CORRUPTION BODY. Wolfgang Petritsch, the international community's high representative to Bosnia- Herzegovina, said he will form a Anti-Corruption and Transparency Group to help combat fraud, Reuters reported on 23 September. Petritsch said such a body would "provide a significant boost in our fight against corruption." "The New York Times" reported last month that some 20 percent of the $5.1 billion aid given to Bosnia has been embezzled or lost through corruption. In other news, Robert Barry, the head of the OSCE mission in Bosnia, said that Republika Srpska Vice President Mirko Sarovic should take over the post of president in line with the republic's constitution. He made his comments in Banja Luka after meeting with Republika Srpska Premier Milorad Dodik. PB ALBANIA PRAISES NATO FOR ENDING 'GENOCIDE.' In an address to the UN General Assembly on 23 September, President Rexhep Meidani expressed Albania's gratitude to NATO for ending the Serbian "genocide: of ethnic Albanians in Kosova, AP reported. Meidani said the principles of the UN charter were upheld because the alliance's air strikes ended an "unprecedented genocide" by Serbian forces. He said "we welcome the international community for having...shown its firm will to condemn and to take effective measures to put an end to crimes perpetrated against a defenseless population." PB GERMAN CHANCELLOR URGES ROMANIA TO CONTINUE REFORMS. Gerhard Schroeder on 24 September said his country will support Romania's efforts to join the EU, but he added that Bucharest must continue to implement tough reforms. Schroeder, who is on a two-day visit to Romania, also thanked the country for its support of the NATO bombing campaign in Yugoslavia earlier this year. The German chancellor insisted that Romania is part of a "comprehensive accession process" to the EU that includes all candidates for membership. But he added that "if and when" Romania accedes to the EU depends on the country's "own economic progress," Reuters reported. VG ROMANIA SECURES BORDER. Romanian Interior Minister Constantin Dudu Ionescu on 23 September said his country has met EU targets for securing its borders, Reuters reported. Under an agreement with the EU, Romania pledged to reform its border guard system. However, Ionescu voiced discontent at what he described as the EU's failure to disburse 20 million euros ($20.8 million) to Romania to pay for logistics related to securing the border. He said the EU has given the country only 10.5 million euros for the project. VG JOINT ROMANIAN-MOLDOVAN PEACEKEEPING BATTALION DISCUSSED. Romanian Defense Minister Victor Babiuc and his Moldovan counterpart, Boris Gamurar, discussed the creation of a joint peacekeeping battalion during a 23 September meeting in Chisinau, according to a Rompres report cited by the BBC. Babiuc said Romania is ready for the creation of such a battalion. Moldpres reported that the two sides also talked about the possibility of creating a larger battalion involving Polish and Ukrainian troops as well. Gamurar stressed that Romania has agreed to allow Moldovan military personnel to undergo training in Romania, Rompres reported. VG BULGARIAN PREMIER REASSURED AFTER TALKS WITH SCHROEDER. Ivan Kostov said he has more confidence in the implementation of the Balkan Stability Pact following talks with German Chancellor Schroeder in Sofia on 23 September, an RFE/RL correspondent reported. Kostov said Schroeder assured him that the pact will be implemented without delay, including measures related to the resumption of river trade on the Danube. However, Schroeder did not promise any direct financial aid to Bulgaria with regard to this issue. Sofia claims it lost some $100 million in trade revenue after NATO bombed bridges on the river during the campaign in Yugoslavia earlier this year. Schroeder also stressed that Bulgaria has made "very large strides" in its reform process, and he pledged German support for the country's efforts to join the EU, BTA reported on 23 September. VG 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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