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RFE/RL NEWSLINE Vol. 3, No. 196, Part II, 7 October 1999
___________________________________________________________ RFE/RL NEWSLINE Vol. 3, No. 196, Part II, 7 October 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 AUTHORITIES CONTINUE TO PUT PRESSURE ON INDEPENDENT MEDIA * LITHUANIAN PARLIAMENT APPROVES PARTIAL IGNALINA SHUTDOWN * VOJVODINA MARKS ANNIVERSARY OF 'YOGURT REVOLUTION' End Note: A TIME FOR SERGEANTS xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx EAST-CENTRAL EUROPE BELARUSIAN AUTHORITIES CONTINUE TO PUT PRESSURE ON INDEPENDENT MEDIA. Minsk tax inspectors have requested that the State Press Committee close the independent weekly "Belaruskaya maladzyozhnaya," Belapan and RFE/RL's Belarusian Service reported on 6 October. According to those inspectors, the weekly's editorial office is not located at the official address that it registered with the committee, which, they said, violates the press law. Tatsyana Melnichuk, chief editor of "Belaruskaya maladzyozhnaya," said she was told in a private conversation with a tax inspector that there is "an instruction from the top" to close down the weekly. "Belaruskaya maladzyozhnaya" appeared in 1994 and was run by radio journalists after the authorities closed down the radio station of the same name. JM PACE LAYS DOWN CONDITIONS FOR READMISSION OF BELARUS. Wolfgang Behrendt, rapporteur of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe for Belarus, said in Minsk on 6 October that Belarus can regain its special guest status in the PACE only after fulfilling three conditions. According to Behrendt, Belarus must hold free and democratic parliamentary elections in 2000, increase the powers of the parliament, and improve its human rights record. Behrendt said the election code currently discussed in Belarus's National Assembly must be improved, and he offered help from Strasbourg experts. Behrendt also expressed concern over the disappearance of prominent oppositionists in Belarus. "How was this possible in a country where state control over all the spheres of public life is so extremely strong?" RFE/RL's Belarusian Service quoted him as saying. JM UKRAINE'S VITRENKO CONFIDENT SHE'LL REACH RUNOFF AGAINST KUCHMA. In her first news conference since the 2 October grenade attack, presidential candidate Natalya Vitrenko said in Kyiv on 6 October that she hopes to defeat President Leonid Kuchma in the second round of the presidential elections, scheduled for 14 November. "I know that in the final stage I will have a fierce fight with Leonid Kuchma," she noted, having dismissed the other candidates as "weak politicians." Vitrenko said she does not accuse anybody of staging the attempt on her life, but she added that "practically" all other candidates are interested in removing her from the political arena. JM PACE SAYS UKRAINIAN PRESIDENTIAL RACE 'NOT FULLY OPEN OR FAIR.' Anne Severinsen, PACE rapporteur for Ukraine, said at a meeting with parliamentary speaker Oleksandr Tkachenko in Kyiv on 6 October that the presidential campaign in Ukraine "has so far not been fully open or fair," Interfax reported. Severinsen cited threats to presidential candidates and journalists, administration interference in the election campaign, and unequal media access for candidates. She asked President Kuchma "to guarantee freedom of the press" in Ukraine and, in particular, to ban tax inspectors from investigating media outlets until after the presidential ballot. Kuchma's spokesman Oleksandr Martynenko said the PACE's recommendation will be carefully studied, but he dismissed the monitor's conclusions as superficial, Reuters reported. JM UKRAINIAN PARLIAMENT ASKS VOTERS TO MAKE 'ONLY RIGHT CHOICE' ON 31 OCTOBER. The Supreme Council on 6 October appealed to the Ukrainian people to make the "only right choice" in the 31 October presidential ballot. That choice, they said, is one of "your conscience and reason." The appeal accused Kuchma and his entourage of violating the principle of equal possibilities for all candidates in the campaign and of monopolizing the state-controlled media. Ukraine's economy is "a ruin on which only a handful of oligarchs and state officials flourish...thanks to preferences granted to them by the president," it added. JM LITHUANIAN PARLIAMENT APPROVES PARTIAL IGNALINA SHUTDOWN. The Lithuanian parliament on 5 October approved the government's energy strategy for 2000-2005, which calls for the closure of the first unit at the Ignalina Nuclear Power Plant by 2005. The measure, which passed by a 63 to 31 vote, is conditional on foreign assistance, Reuters reported. During the heated session, former Premier Gediminas Vagnorius called for the document to be further revised to ensure foreign funding support for the shutdown before setting a timetable, but the measure was defeated. The next energy strategy, due in 2004, will deal with the fate of the second unit at Ignalina. The implementation plan for the 2000-2005 strategy will be submitted in March 2000, according to BNS. MH LITHUANIAN ECONOMICS MINISTER EXPLAINS IRANIAN OIL STORY. Under pressure from the media, the parliament, and the government, Eugenijus Maldeikis explained on 6 October that his comments about purchasing Iranian crude oil have been "blown out of proportion," BNS reported. Maldeikis had suggested that Lithuania will discuss crude purchases from Iran(see "RFE/RL Newsline," 6 October 1999). He explained that there have been no negotiations, just an "elementary general discussion." Foreign Minister Algirdas Saudargas, apparently caught off guard by the comments on Iran, stressed that Lithuania has not held and will not be holding talks with Iran over crude purchases. The parliamentary Foreign Affairs Committee is also calling for an inquiry into Maldeikis's comments. MH POLISH COALITION CONTINUE TO DISCUSS CABINET CHANGES. The Solidarity Electoral Action (AWS) and the Freedom Union are continuing talks on the restructuring of Jerzy Buzek's cabinet, PAP reported on 6 October. AWS leader Marian Krzaklewski said the coalition will continue in office until its term ends in 2001 and added he does not believe there will be early parliamentary elections. Krzaklewski also said the coalition has considered several options for a cabinet reshuffle but did not discuss a change of the prime minister. Meanwhile, a September survey by the OBOP polling agency showed that 68 percent of respondents believe Poland has taken a "wrong turn." A late September survey by the CBOS polling agency said Jerzy Buzek's cabinet has only 16 percent support, down from 24 percent in July. JM CZECH ROMA CONTINUE PROTEST IN USTI NAD LABEM. Romany protesters from Usti nad Labem and other Czech towns continued their protest on 6 October against the construction of the wall that would separate Roma from other residents, CTK reported. Ondrej Gina, spokesman for the association of Romany regional representatives, said the Roma intend to take their case to the Constitutional Court. He also said that they are advised on legal matters by the Budapest-based Center for Romany Rights. Gina said he has received a fax from former South African President Nelson Mandela, which he considers to be "great encouragement." The Novy Bor Cultural Union of Roma issued a statement demanding that the parliament use "all constitutional means" to stop the construction of the fence. Otherwise, the statement said, "hundreds of Roma" will travel to the site and "violate the law." MS CZECH PRESIDENT ADDRESSES HOLOCAUST CONFERENCE. "Czech skinheads who shout Nazi slogans do not realize that if Nazism had prevailed, they would not exist," Vaclav Havel told a conference on the Jewish and Romany Holocaust in Prague on 6 October. Havel said that "whoever denies the past or casts doubt on it, be it an American neo-Nazi, a member of the German Witiko-Bund, or a Czech skinhead, is equally dangerous to democracy." Karel Holomek, chairman of the Association of Moravian Roma, said the Romany Holocaust remains "relatively unknown" both because the communist regime's policy was assimilationist and because of a "deep- rooted aversion toward Roma in Czech society, which refuses to admit that Roma suffered owing to their cultural difference during World War II." MS U.S. FIRST LADY IN SLOVAKIA. Hillary Rodham Clinton met with President Rudolf Schuster and Prime Minister Mikulas Dzurinda in Bratislava on 6 October, AP reported. Clinton encouraged the government to continue to work for the improvement of the situation of the country's national minorities. She said that by signing an agreement with Hungary on reconstructing the bridge linking the two countries over the River Danube, "you are making a statement about the world Slovakia wants to be part of." MS SLOVAKIA APPROVES PLAN FOR JOINING NATO. The government on 6 October approved the National Program for NATO Accession, which is based on the Membership Action Plan approved by NATO at its summit in Washington earlier this year. Foreign Minister Eduard Kukan told journalists that Slovakia "is interested in becoming a NATO member as soon as possible." He added that U.S. President Bill Clinton promised Dzurinda that Slovakia's accession could take place by 2001. Jan Figel and Jozef Pivarci, state secretaries in the Foreign and Defense Ministries, are to submit the plan to NATO headquarters in Brussels on 11 October and NATO is to assess it by March, CTK reported. MS HUNGARIAN PARTIES WITHDRAW FROM BY-ELECTIONS. Istvan Csurka, chairman of the extreme-right Hungarian Justice and Life Party (MIEP), announced on 6 October that his party is withdrawing its candidates for the local by-elections in Szekesfehervar and Siofok in order to benefit the "national side." MIEP spokesman Bela Gyori said the party had not received a request for support from the governing coalition, but he added that MIEP supporters "will know for whom to vote on 10 October." Prime Minister Viktor Orban, chairman of FIDESZ, and Ibolya David, chairwoman of the Democratic Forum (MDF), have agreed that the MDF-People's Party candidate in Szekesfehervar will step down in order to benefit the FIDESZ- Smallholders' candidate. MSZ SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE VOJVODINA MARKS ANNIVERSARY OF 'YOGURT REVOLUTION.' As many as 8,000 protesters gathered in Novi Sad on 6 October to mark the 11th anniversary of the seizure of power in Vojvodina by supporters of Serbian leader Slobodan Milosevic. In 1988, pro-Milosevic demonstrators threw pots of yogurt at government buildings, but 11 years later protesters lit candles to honor victims of Milosevic's rule. Vojvodina opposition leader Nenad Canak told the crowd: "We cannot escape from Milosevic because he is not human, he is pollution," Reuters reported. Elsewhere, some 5,000 anti- Milosevic demonstrators turned out in Belgrade, as did a few hundred people in Cacak and Pancevo. PM DRASKOVIC BLASTS MILOSEVIC'S 'EVIL EMPIRE.' The Serbian Renewal Movement's (SPO) leader Vuk Draskovic said in Belgrade on 6 October that Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic's rule is "an empire of evil, which causes only death and has destroyed everything," AP reported. The SPO leader spoke at the funeral of three of his aides, who died recently in a mysterious traffic accident. Draskovic has called the accident an "assassination attempt" against him that was organized by the authorities (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 6 October 1999). Elsewhere, SPO officials said the police are planning to issue a report saying that the unidentified driver of the truck that caused the accident did so in an attempt to pass another vehicle. Draskovic has charged that the driver deliberately swerved into his lane for no apparent reason. Finally, the state-run Tanjug news agency reported that police have detained Draskovic aide Vladimir Nikolic in custody on charges of "revealing official secrets." Nikolic is a former employee of the secret service. PM DJUKANOVIC: 'NO ORDINARY ACCIDENT.' Montenegrin President Milo Djukanovic said he does "not want to add to the tensions" in Serbia by commenting on Draskovic's accident, London's "The Independent" reported on 7 October. He stressed nonetheless that it "was no ordinary traffic accident if the leader of the most important opposition party...barely survives a car crash at this very sensitive political moment." PM DRASKOVIC KEY TO OPPOSITION SUCCESS? Many observers in Belgrade believe that opposition protests are unlikely to become large enough to threaten Milosevic's hold on power unless Draskovic joins them, VOA's Serbian Service reported on 7 October. The previous day, Social Democratic leader Vuk Obradovic appealed to Draskovic to take part in the protests and thereby help transform them into an expression of the will "of the entire nation." The SPO leader had previously criticized the demonstrations as ineffective. VOA added that some observers expect former General Momcilo Perisic, who heads the Movement for Democratic Serbia, to soon join the opposition's protests (see "RFE/RL Balkan Report," 10 August 1999). PM SERBIAN OPPOSITION LEADER HOPES FOR FUEL DELIVERIES. Mladjan Dinkic, who is a spokesman for the opposition G-17 group of economists, said in Belgrade on 6 October that foreign ministers of Finland, France, and Germany support his call for winter fuel deliveries to Serbia. The G-17's "energy for democracy" program calls for private firms to deliver fuel to Serbian cities and towns under independent supervision. The program would involve all municipalities, regardless of whether they are controlled by the opposition or by Milosevic. EU foreign ministers are slated to vote on 11 October on a Greek and Dutch proposal to provide winter fuel to Serbia. PM VOLLEBAEK CONDEMNS ETHNIC CLASHES IN MITROVICA... OSCE Chairman Knut Vollebaek, speaking to students at the Vushtrri police academy on 6 October, condemned an incident the previous day near Mitrovica in which ethnic Albanians attacked Serbs (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 6 October 1999). Vollebaek stressed that "security for each and every citizen is basic if we want to rebuild society.... I'm also happy that we have some representatives of minorities [in the police force]," AP reported. There are about a dozen Serbs among the 176 police students. Vollebaek added that he will urge ethnic Albanian political leaders "to have a very clear stand when it comes to the atrocities now committed against Serbs. I think that is unacceptable." At least one Serb was killed and 26 people injured in the violence, including 15 peacekeepers and 11 Serbs. The private Serbian news agency Beta noted that three Serbs are still reported missing since the incident. FS ...AS DOES JACKSON. KFOR commander General Sir Mike Jackson told Reuters on 6 October that the Mitrovica violence "was an appalling incident.... As far as I can work out, a group of civilians attacked another group of civilians, completely unprovoked, which ended in a very ugly scene." He concluded: "It does tell me that, I'm afraid, ethnic hatred is still just below the surface, which is a shame. But it's a fact." Meanwhile, an unidentified man threw a hand grenade into a shop in Vitina, injuring two Serbs, according to Beta. And KFOR arrested three uniformed members of the Kosova Protection Corps on 5 October, who "threatened" unspecified people in the Prishtina hospital, AP reported. FS BOSNIAN MILITARY COMMITTEE NAMES REPRESENTATIVES. Members of the Standing Committee for Military Questions agreed in Sarajevo on 6 October that a Muslim will be Bosnia's military attache in Washington. They also decided that a Serb will be the chief military representative to NATO and a Croat will hold a similar position at the OSCE headquarters in Vienna. The committee also agreed to set up an unspecified number of working groups to draw up by the end of October concrete plans on security and on demilitarization, RFE/RL's South Slavic Service Reported. PM BAN ON HARD-LINE BOSNIAN SERB PARTY IN THE OFFING? The OSCE and the office of the international community's Wolfgang Petritsch issued a joint statement in Sarajevo on 6 October threatening to bar the Bosnian branch of Vojislav Seselj's Serbian Radical Party (SRS) from taking part in local elections in 2000. The statement said the ban will come into effect unless the SRS drops three prominent hard-liners from its leadership. They are Nikola Poplasen, Mirko Blagojevic, and Ognjen Tadic. In response, the SRS issued a statement, signed by Poplasen, calling the decision "fascist." PM KLEIN PLANS JOINT BORDER POLICE. Jacques Klein, who is the UN's chief representative in Bosnia, spoke with Bosnian Serb leaders in Banja Luka on 6 October about establishing a joint border police force. That body would include police from both the Republika Srpska and the mainly Croatian and Muslim federation. Its first task would be to take charge of police work at Sarajevo airport, RFE/RL's South Slavic Service reported. It is unclear when the force would begin work. PM CROATIAN WEEKLY SUES NATIONALIST LEADER. Ivo Pukanic, who is editor-in-chief of the independent weekly "Nacional," told Reuters in Zagreb on 6 October that his newspaper is suing right-wing politician Anto Djapic (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 8 September 1999). Pukanic charged that Djapic has threatened his publication and other independent media with physical violence. PM ALBANIA'S MAJKO REJECTS CRITICISM BY PREDECESSOR. Prime Minister Pandeli Majko, speaking at a Socialist Party gathering in Tirana on 5 October, dismissed party leader Fatos Nano's recent criticism of his efforts to achieve a reconciliation with the opposition. Majko argued that "it was necessary to reach out [to the opposition] at a time when the Serbs were preparing the massacre [of the Kosovar Albanians]," the "Albanian Daily News" reported on 7 October. He argued that the Socialists must be open to contacts with "a constructive opposition that knows and respects state institutions and constitutional laws." And he added that Nano's "accusations create a spiral of uncertainty, verbal violence, lack of confidence, and suspicion that targets...solidarity" within the Socialist Party. Majko will challenge Nano for the party leadership at the party's 9 October congress. FS ALBANIA, ITALY PLEDGE BETTER COOPERATION. Albanian Foreign Minister Paskal Milo and his Italian counterpart, Lamberto Dini, pledged in Rome on 5 October to launch several joint regional projects within the framework of the Balkan Stability Pact, the "Albanian Daily News" reported on 7 October. Both countries will present proposals for those projects at an upcoming donors conference in Bari. One key proposal will be the construction of an east-west "corridor" linking the port of Durres via Macedonia with Bulgarian Black Sea ports and Istanbul. The corridor includes improved telecommunications, road and railway links, and oil and gas pipelines. The ministers also agreed to create a permanent working group to coordinate their efforts in promoting political, economic, and social development and strengthening public order. FS NO FOUNDATION STONE LAID AT 'RECONCILIATION PARK' IN ROMANIA. The 6 October ceremony at which the foundation stone of the Romanian-Hungarian reconciliation park was to have been laid was cancelled without explanation. The same day, a Hungarian delegation headed by Justice Minister Ibolya David attended a Mass in memory of the 13 generals executed by Austria in 1848; later, they laid wreaths at an obelisk commemorating the generals. The delegation was heckled by some 100 Greater Romania Party sympathizers, who shouted obscenities and called for the death of Reformed Bishop Laszlo Toekes, an RFE/RL correspondent in Arad reported. Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Simona Miculescu said the ministry considers "the manipulation of national sentiment for the purpose of building political capital irresponsible." She said relations between the two countries are "irreversibly good" and must not be influenced by "fear of historical shadows or the shadows [cast by] statues." MS ROMANIA SLAMS ABKHAZIA 'ELECTIONS.' Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Miculescu said on 6 October that Romania is "worried" about the recent presdidential elections and referendum in "the separatist province of Abkhazia, [which is] an integral part of Georgia, a sovereign and independent state with which Romania has friendly and good neighborly relations," Mediafax reported (see also Part 1). Miculescu said Romania is joining "the international community in refusing to recognize the independence of the so-called Abkhaz Republic." MS ROMANIAN DEFENSE MINISTER IN FRANCE. Victor Babiuc met in Paris on 6 October with his French counterpart, Alain Richard, and with representatives of the French military industries, Mediafax reported. Richard noted that France's Thomson company is collaborating with Romania's Aerostar aircraft company in the production of military and civilian planes and that the Eurocopter firm is interested in the privatization of the Brasov-based IAR-Ghimbav aircraft company A deal with Bell Helicopter Textron on privatizing IAR-Ghimbav was called off earlier this year. Also on 6 October, Chief of Staff General Constantin Degeratu and British Ambassador to Bucharest Richard Ralph signed a military agreement for the year 2000, which Degeratu called "the most comprehensive military program Romania shares with a NATO member country," AP reported. MS FORMER BULGARIAN KING DONATES PART OF RETURNED PROPERTY. Former King Simeon II on 6 October donated a park on the outskirts of Sofia to the city's municipality in a "sign of appreciation for the [recent] restitution of property nationalized by the communists," AP reported, citing BTA. The former monarch asked that the park, which includes a small castle, be named after his grandfather, King Ferdinand, who ruled from 1896 to 1918. MS END NOTE A TIME FOR SERGEANTS By Paul Goble A new and important figure is appearing in the armies of the three Baltic States, one who is likely to prove more important for those countries' integration into NATO and the West than any of the declarations by political figures east or west. That figure is the professional non-commissioned officer, the well-trained and career sergeant or corporal, on whom Western militaries have long depended but who seldom existed in the militaries of the former Warsaw Pact. And nowhere is the rise of this new class of leaders anymore obvious or impressive than at the Rukla Training Area of the Lithuanian defense forces. Located approximately 100 kilometers west of Vilnius, Rukla now serves as the headquarters both for the training of new soldiers and for the seasoning of non-commissioned officers prepared by the Non-Commissioned Officer School in the nearby city of Kaunas. Operating in accordance with Western standards in terms of facilities and of training and doctrine, the Rukla Training Area prepared more than 1,000 new Lithuanian soldiers during the past year and is scheduled to expand to train up to 4,000 a year in the future. No one can visit the site without being struck by the quality of the facilities themselves--many of the buildings and much of the equipment surpass what is found in countries that have been members of NATO for many years. But even more important is the shift in attitudes between officers and soldiers, a change that commanders there and in Vilnius suggest reflect the ever-expanding role of sergeants in this training enterprise and throughout the Lithuanian army. In the view of these commanders, the professional sergeants and other non-commissioned officers, many of whom are competing for permanent positions and a large percentage of whom are women, play three key roles. Each of those roles is more important than pay grades might suggest. First, they perform many of the jobs that junior officers had to do in Soviet-style armies, thereby allowing the latter to be leaders rather than operators. Second, these sergeants and corporals represent an element of continuity, passing on military traditions to soldiers even as officers are shifted from one billet to another. They thus promote the professionalization of both the soldiers under them and the officers under whom they serve. And third, the sergeants help transform the image of soldiers among officers and of officers among soldiers, thus serving as a brake against the kind of hazing that was all too common in Soviet-era armies. This is almost certainly their most important contribution. Precisely because they are professionals, well-trained and often better paid than some junior officers, the non- commissioned officers enjoy remarkable respect from the men and women they lead and thus guarantee that officers respect not only themselves but the soldiers. That shift in attitudes has had a profound impact on the nature of the Lithuanian defense forces. In the past, few Lithuanians saw the military as a profession to be pursued and military rank as a status to be envied. Instead, in a hangover from the Soviet period, until relatively recently many people saw military service as something to be avoided precisely because officers could be counted on to make life miserable for conscripts. Now these attitudes have changed, less because of declarations by senior government officials and military commanders than because of the day-to-day work of sergeants and corporals. Consequently, it may well be the sergeants rather than the generals who will improve the prospects for the inclusion of Lithuania and its Baltic neighbors not only into the world of modern Western militaries but into NATO as well. 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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