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RFE/RL NEWSLINE Vol. 3, No. 188, Part II, 27 September 1999
___________________________________________________________ RFE/RL NEWSLINE Vol. 3, No. 188, Part II, 27 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 * BELARUSIAN POPULAR FRONT ACTIVISTS FORM NEW PARTY * ANTI-MILOSEVIC DEMONSTRATIONS PICK UP STEAM * SOLANA URGES RECONCILIATION, ENDORSES CORPS xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx EAST-CENTRAL EUROPE BELARUSIAN POPULAR FRONT ACTIVISTS FORM NEW PARTY. Activists of the Belarusian Popular Front (BNF) who support BNF exiled leader Zyanon Paznyak held a congress in Minsk on 26 September, Belapan reported. Delegates formed a Conservative Christian Party of the BNF and elected Zyanon Paznyak as its leader. The congress reflects the deepening split within the BNF, the most influential opposition group in Belarus. Another BNF faction, which is grouped around Lyavon Barshcheuski and Vintsuk Vyachorka, plans to elect its leadership on 30-31 October (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 13 September 1999). JM BELARUSIAN OPPOSITION NEWSPAPER FINED. A Minsk court ordered the opposition newspaper "Naviny" and one of its editors to pay 15 billion Belarusian rubles ($52,000) in damages to State Security Secretary Viktar Sheyman, Belapan reported on 24 September. "Naviny" published an article earlier this month saying that Sheyman had built a luxurious house and risen from the rank of major to major general in five years. Sheyman denied both allegations and filed a libel suit against "Naviny." "We do not have such money. We will have to close our newspaper, and that's what the authorities are striving for," "Naviny" deputy chief editor Mikalay Khalezin commented. According to Khalezin, "Naviny" make a $2,700 profit each month. JM UKRAINE OFFERS TO PAY FOR RUSSIAN GAS WITH SHIPS. Ukrainian President Leonid Kuchma said on 26 September that Ukraine plans to pay for Russian gas supplies with newly constructed ships, ITAR-TASS reported. Kuchma was attending the launching of a river-to-sea dry-cargo ship built at a cost of $7 million for Russia's Gazprom. Ukraine imports from Russia some 70 percent of the gas it requires and currently owes that country some $1.8 billion for gas supplies. JM UKRAINIAN SPEAKER UPBEAT ABOUT PROSPECTS IN PRESIDENTIAL RACE. Parliamentary speaker Oleksandr Tkachenko has said he expects to be proposed as the single presidential candidate from among his election alliance with Yevhen Marchuk, Oleksandr Moroz, and Volodymyr Oliynyk, Interfax reported on 25 September. Tkachenko added that the Communist Party may also support his candidacy. "I think we will win. I think I've have done a lot in this state," the news agency quoted him as saying. Tkachenko noted that he had left the Communist Party when it was banned, but he stressed that he remains a "worthy son of the Communist Party" even if he is now a member of the Peasant Party, which he founded. "I think that by 31 October we will find the courage [with Communist Party leader Petro Symonenko] to acknowledge that today we have no right to work separately," Tkachenko said. JM RUSSIA ISSUES REPORT ON BALTICS. In a report issued on 24 September, the Russian Foreign Policy and Defense Policy Working Group stressed that the Baltic States will always be included in the zone of Russia's vital interest, ITAR-TASS and LETA reported. The report stated that bilateral relations with each of those countries are slowly improving. It also suggested that the "anti-Russian policy" of the Balts is "amounting to nothing," just like their bid to gain entry into the EU. Finally, the report noted that the "prospect of Latvia, Lithuania, and Estonia joining NATO" may deal a serious blow to "Russian-Western and Russian-Baltic relations in particular." MH POLISH UNIONISTS DEMAND GOVERNMENT OUSTER. Some 35,000 people marched in Warsaw on 24 September to protest the government's socio-economic policies and demand the resignation of Jerzy Buzek's cabinet and new parliamentary elections. The left- wing National Trade Union Alliance and farmers' unions, which organized the rally, had predicted that 100,000 people would take part. The organizers later issued a statement saying that unless the ruling coalition meets their demands, the trade union will resort to all legal means of protest, including a general strike. JM CENTRAL EUROPEAN RIGHT-WINGERS PLEDGE COOPERATION. Leaders of right-wing parties from 11 Central European countries met in Gdansk on 24-25 September, pledging to boost mutual cooperation, Polish media reported. The delegates established a Warsaw-based Secretariat of the Center-Right Parties of Central Europe, a foundation to support rightist forces in the countries of the former Soviet bloc, and a tribunal to judge communist crimes. They also announced that a conference of the Central European right-wing parties will be held each year. JM EU MEMBERSHIP CANDIDATES MEET. The chief negotiators for the six countries that have been invited to fast-track EU accession talks met in Prague on 23 and 24 September, CTK reported. The Estonian chief negotiator dismissed fears that the acceptance of new members from Eastern Europe would trigger mass emigration to the West. His comments were supported by the other negotiators. Such meetings have been held among EU membership candidates since 1997. VG CZECH PRESIDENT, JUDGES WARN AGAINST CONSTITUTIONAL CHANGES. Vaclav Havel on 25 September said that the package of constitutional changes being drawn up by the country's two largest parties will paralyze the state apparatus for months, CTK reported. Constitutional Court Chairman Zdenek Kessler and Supreme Court Chairwoman Eliska Wagnerova have also criticized the proposed changes, suggesting that they are politically motivated, "Mlada fronta Dnes" reported on 27 September. The changes, which the Czech Social Democratic Party and the Civic Democratic Party are working on, aim at reducing presidential powers in granting amnesties, appointing board members to the Czech National Bank, and naming Supreme Court judges. VG SLOVAK WORKERS STAGE PROTEST. Some 40,000 Slovak workers staged a demonstration in downtown Bratislava on 25 September, the news agency TKE reported. The Slovak Trade Unions Confederation (KOZ), which organized the demonstration, submitted a list of 20 demands to the government. Those demands include calls for pay rises, lower taxes, and more jobs. KOZ chairman Ivan Saktor said the unions will take "stronger action" if the government does not respond. Finance Minister Brigita Schmognerova, the only minister to address the rally, told the demonstrators that the government cannot afford to fulfill all their demands. While the rally was billed as an independent, union-organized event, several demonstrators shouted slogans supporting former Prime Minister Vladimir Meciar, "Mlada fronta Dnes" reported. VG COUNCIL OF EUROPE DROPS DEBATE ON 'EXTREMIST' PARTIES. Hungarian Independent Smallholders' Party representative Geza Pokol has expressed satisfaction that the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe decided to drop a debate on a report about extremist parties from its 24 September meeting agenda, Hungarian Radio reported. An expert report commissioned by the council had applied the term "extremist" to the Smallholders' Party, which is a member of the Hungarian government coalition (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 23 September 1999). The assembly dropped the debate because the term "extremist party" had not been defined in the report. VG HUNGARIAN BY-ELECTIONS CONSIDERED INVALID. By-elections in the central Hungarian towns of Szekesfehervar and Siofok on 26 September have both been declared invalid owing to low turnout, according to an MTI report cited by the BBC. Both towns will hold another round of voting in two weeks. In the 26 September vote, the Hungarian Socialist Party was leading in both towns. VG RUSSIANS HOPE TO BUILD MIG-29 REPAIR CENTER IN HUNGARY. A delegation from Russia's MAPO, which manufactures MiG-29s, was in Hungary last week for talks on the establishment of a maintenance center in the country, according to a 24 September MTI report cited by the BBC. The delegation also discussed the possibility of selling spare parts or even new aircraft to Hungary in exchange for payment in forints or agricultural products. VG SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE ANTI-MILOSEVIC DEMONSTRATIONS PICK UP STEAM. Tens of thousands of Serbs took part in opposition protests on 26 September calling for the resignation of Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic, Reuters reported. A crowd estimated at 50,000 marched through the streets of Belgrade on the sixth consecutive day of protests, which are organized by the Alliance for Change. The previous day, 55,000 marchers were reported. Vladan Batic, the alliance's coordinator, said the protest movement has "clearly gained momentum." Momcilo Persic, a former Yugoslav army general sacked by Milosevic, said on 24 September that he will mobilize the "70 percent of the population [that] is angry but doesn't want to join the opposition." Demonstrations attended by several thousand people were also reported in other Serbian towns and cities. Observers point out that the nearly three months of mass demonstrations in Belgrade in 1996-1997 also began with small crowds. PB YUGOSLAV MINISTER SAYS OPPOSITION WORKING FOR WEST. Yugoslav Information Minister Goran Matic said on Yugoslav television on 26 September that the opposition Alliance for Change's aim is to "destroy Yugoslavia and take from it whatever they like," Belgrade's B2-92 reported. Matic said the problem is that "our citizens are being discreetly talked into acting...in someone else's interests." He added that opposition leader Zoran Djinjdjic is a NATO ally. The state news agency Tanjug said on 26 September that the opposition are "traitors" and "NATO lackeys," and it labeled the street protests a "fiasco." PB DRASKOVIC MEETS WITH BOSNIAN SERB LEADERS. Serbian opposition leader Vuk Draskovic met with Bosnian Serb Premier Milorad Dodik in Banja Luka on 24 September, AP reported. Draskovic said there is only hope for Serbia if President "Milosevic and his regime is removed." Dodik said he shares Draskovic's views, noting that the democratization of Serbia would be in the best interest of Bosnian Serbs. Draskovic said he has the same goal as the Alliance for Change but disagrees "on how to achieve it." Draskovic has refused to take part in the alliance's nationwide street protests. PB SERBS ARRESTED BY NATO FOR SUSPECTED INVOLVEMENT IN ATTROCITIES. The NATO peacekeeping force in Kosova (KFOR) has detained four Serbs suspected of committing crimes against ethnic Albanians, AP reported on 26 September. The four were in a convoy of Serbs driving toward the town of Rahovec. The same day, a member of the new Kosova Protection Corps was shot and killed in front of the corps' headquarters in Prishtina. In the U.S. sector two days earlier, one person was killed and four injured when a tractor carrying 12 Serbs was ambushed near Kamenice. And three other Serbs were injured by a bomb in Gracanice, just outside Prishtina. PB SOLANA URGES RECONCILIATION, ENDORSES CORPS. NATO Secretary- General Javier Solana said on 27 September that political leaders in Kosova must rebuild ethnic relations and will be held responsible unless they "stop the violence and hatred." Solana, on a visit to Prishtina, said he approves of the controversial Kosova Protection Corps, saying "it will not be a political force and it certainly will not be an army." He held talks on 26 September with Kosovar Serb official Momcilo Trajkovic and Oliver Ivanovic, the self-proclaimed mayor of the divided town of Mitrovice, who are demanding the formation of Serbian cantons and a similar protection force for Serbs. In the Serbian town of Obrenovac, Yugoslav army General Nebojsa Pavkovic said the multiethnic Kosova collapsed with the formation of the corps. He remarked that he believes Yugoslav forces will return to the province when the UN Security Council mandate expires. PB CROATIAN FOREIGN MINISTER CRITICIZES WAR CRIMES TRIBUNAL. Mate Granic said in an address to the 54th UN General Assembly on 26 September that the war crimes tribunal in The Hague is "ignoring" atrocities committed against Croats during the wars of Yugoslav succession, AP reported. Granic said the indictments do not "reflect the true nature and scope of war crimes committed by different sides in the conflict." He said some 14,000 Croats died in the conflicts between 1991 and 1995. Granic added that Croatia has taken numerous steps to aid the tribunal in its work. Zagreb has been criticized for not fully cooperating with the tribunal in the handing over of indicted suspects. PB IZETBEGOVIC IN MID-EAST. The Muslim member of the Bosnian presidency, Alija Izetbegovic, arrived in Tehran on 26 September on a state visit, the Iranian news agency IRNA reported. Izetbegovic, who is to meet with Iranian President Mohammad Khatami, said he appreciated Iran's diplomatic and humanitarian support for Bosnia-Herzegovina. Izetbegovic, who also visited Kuwait, Turkey, and Saudi Arabia, has been sharply criticized by Ante Jelavic and Zivko Radisic, the Croatian and Serbian members of the Bosnian presidency, for not informing them that he was to make the trip. The Sarajevo weekly "Slobodna Bosna" reported that Izetbegovic is in bad health and that the real purpose of his visit is to receive secret medical treatment in Saudi Arabia. Izetbegovic suffered a heart attack in 1996. PB DJINDJIC SEEKS SUPPORT IN MACEDONIA. Serbian opposition leader Zoran Djindjic met with Macedonian President Kiro Gligorov in Skopje on 24 September, AP reported. Djindjic said the two discussed a "new Balkans policy concept" that would focus on democratization, economic development, and demilitarization as a means of reducing the chance of further conflicts. He said "our generation can halt the process of Balkan suffering." In other news, Greece's state airlines Olympic announced it has resumed twice-weekly flights from Athens to Skopje owing to increased bilateral ties. The two countries are locked in a dispute over the official name of Macedonia, which is the same as that of a neighboring region in Greece. PB MONTENEGRINS SPLIT ON INDEPENDENCE. A poll released in the Montenegrin capital of Podgorica on 24 September showed that 44 percent of the respondents would vote for independence while 39 percent would back remaining part of Yugoslavia, ITAR-TASS reported. The survey polled 1,000 people throughout Montenegro and was taken by the Damar polling center. Sixty percent said there is a need to revise relations with Serbia. Only 8 percent supported Yugoslav President Milosevic. In other news, Serbian Trade Minister Zoran Krasic said on 24 September that "Montenegro has just made another step toward secession," in reference to Podgorica's declaration the previous day that it is setting up its own customs and trade regime (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 24 September 1999). PB ALBANIA AGREES WITH OSCE ON CORRUPTION BATTLE. The Albanian government and the OSCE agreed on 24 September to wage a joint campaign against widespread corruption in the country, dpa reported. Albanian Deputy Premier Ilir Meta said "corruption poses a great danger to the future development of Albania." The OSCE commented that foreign experts will be involved in organizing and monitoring the Albanian government's progress in the fight against corruption. It added that the project is "indispensable for Albania to participate fully in and benefit from the evolving aspects of the stability pact for southeastern Europe." PB ROMANIAN MINERS CALL OFF HUNGER STRIKE. A group of 162 miners from the town of Lupeni called off their hunger strike on 24 September after the government promised them jobs, an RFE/RL correspondent reported. The miners had been fasting for three weeks and were threatening to commit collective suicide. Two years ago, they quit their jobs when the government promised them compensation as well as new employment. However, the miners were told recently that they no longer have a right to such payments. VG ROMANIAN CABINET PASSES BILL TO AMEND CRIMINAL CODE. The government has passed a bill designed to bring the country's criminal code closer into line with EU norms, according to a 24 September Rompres report cited by the BBC. Among other things, the bill scraps provisions in the current criminal code that outlaw homosexual relations. Justice Ministry State Secretary Gheorghe Mocuta added that the new bill also makes sexual harassment illegal. VG HUNGARIAN-ROMANIAN MEMORIAL PLANNED. Hungarian Justice Minister Ibolya David said on 25 September that Bucharest has agreed to create a memorial park in the western Romanian city of Arad to mark Hungary and Romania's "historical reconciliation," Hungarian media reported. The two countries will split the cost of setting up the park, which will include an obelisk honoring the executed generals of the 1848-1849 War of Independence. The Hungarian and Romanian prime ministers are to lay the foundation stone for the obelisk on 6 October. VG NEW GOVERNOR OF GAGAUZ-YERI INAUGURATED. Dumitru Croitoru, the newly elected governor of the Gagauz-Yeri Autonomous Republic in Moldova, was sworn into office on 24 September, Infotag reported. Croitoru took the oath of office in three languages--Gagauz, Romanian, and Russian. The new governor promised to support market-oriented reforms. Croitoru won 61 percent of the vote in the 5 September gubernatorial elections (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 7 September 1999). VG BULGARIA, U.S. AGREE ON MILITARY COOPERATION. Bulgaria and the U.S. are preparing a draft agreement to increase military cooperation, Reuters reported on 24 September. Bulgarian government spokesman Nikolai Stoyanov said the agreement will create a framework for providing U.S. troops with supplies in exchange for payment. U.S. officials denied Bulgarian media reports that the draft agreement is a plan for the creation of U.S. military bases in Bulgaria. Both Bulgarian and U.S. officials also denied Russian media reports that they are discussing the establishment of a satellite facility for spying on Russia. Nevertheless, Bulgarian Prime Minister Ivan Kostov on 24 September said his government is studying the possibility of setting up NATO bases within the country, according to a BTA report cited by the BBC. VG xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx Copyright (c) 1999 RFE/RL, Inc. 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