|A host is like general: calamities often reveal his genius. - Horace|
RFE/RL NEWSLINE Vol. 3, No. 197, Part II, 8 October 1999
___________________________________________________________ RFE/RL NEWSLINE Vol. 3, No. 197, Part II, 8 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 PRESIDENT GIVES CABINET THREE MONTHS TO IMPROVE RECORD * SLOVAKIA'S MECIAR RESUMES PUBLIC RALLIES * SERBIAN OPPOSITION AGREES ON EARLY ELECTION TERMS End Note: TEN YEARS ON: ECONOMIC VISION STILL NOT A REALITY xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx EAST-CENTRAL EUROPE BELARUSIAN PRESIDENT GIVES CABINET THREE MONTHS TO IMPROVE RECORD. At a 7 October cabinet session, Alyaksandr Lukashenka harshly criticized the government for its "unsystematic approach to economic policy as well as inconsistency and half-heartedness in dealing with key socio-economic issues," Belapan reported. According to the president, in the first eight months of this year Belarus failed to meet all targets in all key socio-economic spheres except for industrial output, consumer goods output, housing construction, and consumer services. "Twenty one percent of industrial enterprises have no working capital, almost 36 percent have working capitals below the [required] norm. In essence, these enterprises have no future," Belarusian Television quoted Lukashenka as saying. Lukashenka gave the cabinet three months to improve its record. JM EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT URGES BELARUS TO ENTER DEMOCRATIC PATH. The European Parliament on 7 October adopted a resolution urging Minsk to embark on a path of democratic political and economic reforms and to observe European human rights standards. The resolution appeals to the Belarusian authorities to clarify the recent disappearance of prominent Belarusian oppositionists and guarantee freedom of the press and freedom of expression. It also calls on Lukashenka to allow free and fair presidential elections in 1999 and parliamentary elections in 2000. The European Parliament also stressed that it ceased to recognize Lukashenka's presidential powers after 20 July 1999. JM UKRAINE, UZBEKISTAN SIGN ECONOMIC COOPERATION DEAL. On 7 October in Kyiv, Ukrainian President Leonid Kuchma and his Uzbek counterpart, Islam Karimov, signed an agreement on economic cooperation for the period 1999-2008, Interfax reported. Ukraine and Uzbekistan expect to increase their trade turnover by 20 percent this year. Uzbekistan confirmed its intention to export cotton in exchange for Ukrainian industrial products, in particular, ferrous alloys and steel. At a news conference the same day, Kuchma and Karimov expressed their concern over Russia's reluctance to sign a package of documents related to the creation of a CIS free trade zone as of 1 January 2001. JM TALLINN CITY APPROVES BUDGET REDUCTION. Meeting for the last time before the 17 October local elections, the Tallinn City Council on 7 October approved a 101.8 million kroons ($7 million) reduction in its 1999 budget. The large opposition faction of the Reform Party abstained, saying the cuts are not large enough. The party's Tallinn mayoral candidate, Rein Voog, commented that "the Tallinn budget deficit at the end of the year could reach 30 million kroons, if not more," adding that "Tallinn is on the verge of a financial disaster," "Postimees" reported. Before the cut, the 1999 Tallinn budget stood at 2.36 billion kroons. MH LITHUANIANS TRUST PRESIDENT, OPPOSITION PARTIES AHEAD. In a poll released by Baltijos Tyrimai/Gallup released on 7 October, Lithuanians expressed trust in the presidency more than in any government institution. The presidency held the trust of 72 percent of respondents, followed by the state government (45 percent) and local government (44 percent). Only 20 percent expressed confidence in the parliament. The same poll also revealed that the opposition Center Union continues to top the popularity ratings, with 15.8 percent support. It is followed by the leftist opposition Lithuanian Democratic Labor Party (8.7 percent) and the ruling Conservative Party (7.8 percent). MH POLISH PARLIAMENT TO WORK ON PROPERTY RESTITUTION BILL. The parliament on 7 October rejected an opposition Polish Peasant Party (PSL) motion to hold a referendum on property restitution. It then voted against another motion rejecting the government-prepared property restitution bill in the first reading and sent it to a parliamentary committee for consideration. Under the proposed bill, Polish citizens seeking compensation for property seized by the communist regime from 1939-1962 can obtain 50 percent of those assets in either the property itself or in shares in privatized enterprises. The PSL has announced it will launch a petition drive for a referendum on the issue. No fewer than 500,000 citizens must sign such a petition. JM POLAND REJECTS RUSSIAN ALLEGATION OF SUPPORTING CHECHNYA. Polish Foreign Ministry spokesman Pawel Dobrowolski on 7 October rejected Russian accusations that Poland supports "unconstitutional forces in the North Caucasus." Dobrowolski said Poland shares the EU's view on the Chechnya conflict. Dobrowolski was responding to comment by his Russian counterpart, Vladimir Rakhmanin, who had said the same day that Poland "gave shelter to the so-called representatives from the Republic of Ichkeria, the Poland-Chechnya committees, and similar structures," according to ITAR-TASS. JM CZECH, SLOVAK PREMIERS PLEDGE TO COMPLETE FEDERAL PROPERTY DIVISION. Prime Minster Milos Zeman and visiting Slovak Premier Mikulas Dzurinda pledged in a joint statement on 7 October to complete the division of former federal property by 24 November, TASR and CTK reported. As an immediate step toward that end, they agreed on an exchange of shares in the Czech Komercni banka and the Slovak Vseobecna uverova banka. An accord on that exchange is to be signed by the heads of the two countries' National Property Funds on 8 October. Zeman and Dzurinda said they want to intensify cooperation in order to promote both their countries' integration into the EU. MS CZECHS ASK WHEN EU TALKS WILL END. Czech Foreign Minister Jan Kavan told Reuters on 7 October that the Czech Republic is urging the EU to set a target date for concluding accession talks with the leading candidates. Kavan spoke after a meeting with EU commissioner for enlargement Guenter Verheugen. He said that a target date "will motivate people in the candidate countries" as well as provide "a strong argument against the Euro-skeptics", who believe the EU is "just paying lip service to enlargement." Verheugen told journalists that "we really want the Czech Republic to become a member as soon as possible." MS EU OFFICIAL SAYS ROMA 'NOT SLOVAK PROBLEM.' Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe Chairman Lord Russell- Johnston on 7 October told journalists in Bratislava that the Council of Europe "can and must" play "a significant role" in solving the Romany problem because the problem is "not Slovakia's, but Europe's." He said finding a solution "will not be easy and will demand a great deal of money, patience, and time," CTK and SITA reported. Russell-Johnston met with President Rudolf Schuster and parliamentary chairman Jozef Migas. He said the Romany problem will not play a significant role in Slovakia's accession to the EU and added that Bratislava "has already entered the corridor to the EU." MS SLOVAKIA'S MECIAR RESUMES PUBLIC RALLIES. Former Prime Minister Vladimir Meciar told a cheering crowd of supporters in Banska Bystrica on 7 October that early elections will be held "by 2000 at the latest." He said disaffection will spread and return to power his Movement for a Democratic Slovakia. After returning to head the government, he said, he will immediately resume the construction of highways and housing. "There is money," he said, "but one has to know how to get it," SITA and CTK reported. This was Meciar's first rally since August 1998. MS HUNGARY DOWNPLAYS RECONCILIATION PARK CONTROVERSY. Hungarian Foreign Ministry State Secretary Zsolt Nemeth told National TV on 7 October that Romanian nationalists who heckled a Hungarian minister and other speakers in the Romanian town of Arad (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 6 and 7 October 1999) have not harmed bilateral ties. He said that the attempts by several dozen to disrupt the ceremony was not a "diplomatic affair" but rather a "psychiatric problem." Hungary is grateful to the Romanian government for returning the statue of the executed generals to the Hungarian community, Nemeth said. However, he blamed local police for failing to keep demonstrators at an appropriate distance. MSZ SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE SERBIAN OPPOSITION AGREES ON EARLY ELECTION TERMS. Representatives of the main opposition parties agreed in Belgrade on 7 October on conditions for early elections. They will finalize their decisions as early as 14 October and send their conditions to the government for its agreement. The demands include a revision of the media and election laws. The opposition wants a proportional voting system, revised voting lists, and the presence of foreign and domestic poll watchers. The opposition agreed not to form a coalition with any of the parties currently in the government, an aide to the Serbian Renewal Movement's leader Vuk Draskovic noted. A Democratic Party spokesman called the agreement the "best contribution to the fight against [Yugoslav President Slobodan] Milosevic's regime," Reuters reported. The EU has recently placed considerable pressure on the opposition to unite and oust Milosevic. EU foreign ministers have invited 32 opposition leaders to a meeting in Luxembourg on 11 October, the Frankfurt-based Serbian daily "Vesti" reported on 7 October. PM PROTESTS CONTINUE IN SERBIA. A total of 40,000 people turned out in 15 municipalities on 7 October to demand Milosevic's resignation. The demonstrations passed without incident but were far smaller than the organizers in the opposition Alliance for Change had hoped. The opposition nonetheless intends to continue the daily protests, RFE/RL's South Slavic Service reported on 8 October. PM SERBIAN REGIME DENIES ROLE IN DRASKOVIC ACCIDENT. Ivica Dacic, who is a spokesman for Milosevic's Socialist Party of Serbia (SPS), said in Belgrade on 7 October that the recent mysterious traffic accident involving Draskovic is a "police matter" without any political significance (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 7 October 1999). Dacic told reporters that they should direct questions about any "assassination attempt on Vuk to those who had a motive to carry one out, and that is not the Socialist Party." AP reported that "the accident has prompted a furious Draskovic to radicalize his so far relatively moderate stance toward Milosevic's regime and pledge to crush it." PM OFFICIAL'S DEFAMATION CASE AGAINST SERBIAN OPPOSITION POSTPONED. Belgrade Judge Sladjana Bojovic has postponed until 23 November a defamation case against 11 opposition leaders to "give them more time to prepare their defense." An opposition lawyer told Reuters on 7 October that he expects the case to be dismissed. Two days earlier, Serbian Deputy Premier Milovan Bojic filed suit against 11 leaders of the Alliance for Change (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 6 October 1999). Bojic complained that he had been ridiculed at a mock trial held at a Belgrade demonstration. PM ETHNIC ALBANIANS DEMAND ACCESS TO MITROVICA MINES. Some 1,000 ethnic Albanian miners took part in a protest at the Stari Trg precious metals mine near Mitrovica on 7 October, AP reported. They want to return to their jobs in the mine, which KFOR took over in June. An unspecified number of Serbs continue to work there to keep equipment functioning. Xhafer Nuli, president of the Independent Miners' Union, told the protesters: "We want to live from our work and from our sweat and by our own wages, we don't want to live from humanitarian aid. " Another miner said: "I gave more than 20 years of my life in this mine and for it, so we are ready even to die for our mine. We have to feed our families." Meanwhile, 1,500 ethnic Albanians protested outside the UN offices in Mitrovica, demanding access to schools and the hospital in the northern part of the city, RFE/RL's South Slavic Service reported. FS REINHARDT SAYS HE HAS NO IMMEDIATE SOLUTION FOR MITROVICA. German General Klaus Reinhardt told AP on 7 October that "I think it would be very arrogant...to come up and offer a solution [to the conflict between ethnic Serbs and Albanians over Mitrovica].... I cannot offer a solution right now, which will work in the future." Reinhardt takes over command of KFOR from General Sir Mike Jackson on 8 October, marking a change of the KFOR command from NATO's Allied Rapid Reaction Corps to Allied Land Forces Central Europe. Reinhardt stressed that "I'm here to help in Kosova...to rebuild for a better future, and this is the mission I have." FS KFOR ARRESTS SUSPECTED WAR CRIMINAL. A KFOR spokesman told AP that Dutch and German KFOR troops arrested a war crimes suspect in Prizren on 7 October. The spokesman identified neither the man nor his nationality. The International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia has indicted the suspect on charges of murder and other atrocities committed in the Rahovec area between April and June. FS WORLD BANK APPROVES $60 MILLION FOR KOSOVA RECONSTRUCTION. World Bank officials told dpa in Washington on 7 October that the bank's executive board has approved $60 million over the next 18 months to support reconstruction and economic recovery in Kosova. The official added that the bank will coordinate international aid with the European Commission and other donors, provide economic policy advice to the UN mission and local authorities, and assist with project design in the reconstruction effort. He underlined that the World Bank itself will provide direct limited financial aid on "a highly selective basis." FS U.K. CALLS FOR CRACKDOWN ON KOSOVA MAFIAS. A Foreign Office spokesman said in London on 7 October that failure to deal with organized crime in Kosova could undermine efforts aimed at promoting democracy and stability. He added that Foreign Secretary Robin Cook will present concrete proposals in Luxembourg aimed at combating mafia-like structures in the province. PM ALBANIAN GOVERNMENT SETS UP ANTI-CORRUPTION COMMISSION. The government on 7 October set up a commission charged with fighting corruption "at all government levels." It issued a statement saying that the commission will be headed by Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Government Coordination Ilir Meta and include the ministers of finance, public order, justice, and economy, dpa reported. The commission will receive foreign-expert advice from the Friends of Albania, a group of foreign donors and diplomats sponsored by the OSCE. The OSCE office in Tirana issued a statement saying that the commission is "indispensable for Albania to participate fully in and benefit from the evolving aspects of the Stability Pact in Southeast Europe." FS OSCE CALLS FOR INVESTIGATION OF ATTACK ON MUSLIM IN SREBRENICA. A spokesman for the OSCE said in Sarajevo on 7 October that his organization demands a "swift and credible investigation" by the Srebrenica authorities and Republika Srpska police into the stabbing of a Muslim official in the Srebrenica municipal building the previous day, Reuters reported. Two masked men beat and stabbed Munib Hasanovic, who works for the government of the formerly mainly Muslim town, which fell to Serbian forces in July 1995. A spokeswoman for the international community's Wolfgang Petritsch said that Hasanovic recently received death threats but there is no "evidence that this has a political background," AP reported. Some Muslim officials work three days a week in Srebrenica but continue to live with their families on Muslim-controlled territory. PM CROATIAN SERBS SEEK POLITICAL GUARANTEES. Milorad Pupovac, who is a political leader of Croatia's small Serbian minority, said in Zagreb on 7 October that representatives of the Serbian community have written to top government and opposition officials asking them to clarify their respective stands on the Serbs' political rights. Pupovac stressed that the Serbs will not accept any reduction in the rights that current legislation guarantees them, RFE/RL's South Slavic Service reported. PM ROMANIAN DEPUTY PREMIER SAYS NO DECISION TAKEN ON ARAD HUNGARIAN MONUMENT. Deputy Premier Valeriu Stoica told journalists on 7 October that there is "futile and tendentious agitation" over the monument honoring the 13 Hungarian generals executed in 1849. Stoica said the government's decision to set up a "park of historical reconciliation" in Arad does not specify which monuments are to be displayed there. Whether the monument honoring the generals is included, he said, depends "on the recommendations that will be made by architects and artists." MS POLL CONFIRMS ROMANIAN OPPOSITION LEADS THE FIELD. An opinion poll conducted by Metromedia Transilvania confirms that the PDSR is well ahead in party preferences, RFE/RL's Bucharest bureau reported on 7 October. The PDSR received 37 percent backing. That is more than the combined support for all members of the ruling coalition: Democratic Convention of Romania (22 percent), the Democratic Party (8 percent) and the Hungarian Democratic Federation of Romania (5 percent). The opposition Alliance for Romania (APR) received 16 percent and the Greater Romania Party (PRM) 7 percent. PDSR chairman Ion Iliescu is leading the field among presidential candidates (34 percent), followed by APR chairman Teodor Melescanu (21 percent), incumbent President Emil Constantinescu (17 percent), PRM leader Corneliu Vadim Tudor (7 percent), and former Premier Theodor Stolojan and Democratic Party leader Petre Roman (5 percent each). MS MOLDOVA, RUSSIA AGREE ON BARTER PAYMENT FOR GAS DELIVERIES. Moldova will supply agricultural produce to Russia in part payment for Russian gas deliveries, ITAR-TASS reported on 7 October. The agreement was concluded in Chisinau by experts from the two countries' Agriculture Ministries. Moldova is to deliver goods worth $100 million. Its debt for Russian gas deliveries totals $700 million. MS BULGARIAN MAYORAL CANDIDATE BADLY BEATEN. Vesselin Dinkov, Varna regional governor and the Union of Democratic Forces' (SDS) mayoral candidate in the 16 October local elections, was badly beaten in front of his house on 6 October, BTA reported the next day, citing several media reports. According to "Trud," the attack was an assassination attempt carried out "by the mafia, which has declared war on the state." The same daily reported that the incumbent Socialist Party mayor of one of the districts in the town of Pernik has received death threats by telephone and his office has been burgled. In Bourgas, red paint has been splashed on the billboards of an independent candidate. And "24 Chasa" and "Demokratsiya" reported on 6 October that three blasts, believed to aim at intimidating the SDS mayoral candidate, occurred in Devin. MS END NOTE TEN YEARS ON: ECONOMIC VISION STILL NOT A REALITY By Breffni O'Rourke Visions, by their very nature, are hard to sustain. When the Berlin Wall fell 10 years ago, heralding a new era in Europe, much of the world had a common vision: namely, that the countries of the crumbling Marxist sphere would join the Western community in enjoying political freedoms and economic prosperity based on market mechanisms. During the following decade, the dream of democracy has been largely fulfilled--with some exceptions--in a vast arc of territory stretching from the Baltic to the Black Sea. Economic well-being, however, has proved more elusive, and the revitalization of Central and Eastern Europe is still an unfinished story. The transition to market economies has not been easy, and the relative success or lack of success of individual countries reflects a mix of complicated factors. Only Poland among the transition states has lifted its economic prosperity well above the level of 1989. Polish per capita incomes this year are expected to reach about 130 percent of 1989 levels. At the other end of the spectrum, Ukraine, with a stalled reform process, has seen people's incomes plummet to half the levels of 1989. Because Poland opted for radical reforms, the simple conclusion might be that the so-called "big bang" method produces the best results, despite its high social costs. Hungary, too, has successfully opted for a radical course, but Slovenia, Slovakia, and the Czech Republic have income levels equal to or greater than that of Hungary--about 100 percent of their 1989 levels--and have chosen more gradualist paths. A senior economist with the Paris-based Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), Val Koromzay, told RFE/RL that the real lesson of the last decade lies not in a choice between big bang or gradualism. Rather, the lesson is that the essential factor is coherent reform. He says time has been reasonably forgiving of countries that have been slower or faster. Those that got into trouble did so because they backtracked away from reform, owing to political opposition or perceived hardship. Poland, Koromzay argued, was "always moving in the same direction and despite numerous changes of government, I think one can see clearly a thread of continuity, a direction." Romania, by contrast, has lacked this sense of purpose, and its political will has faded, Koromzay argued. Nervous governments have sought to spare the population the pain of restructuring, he noted, but instead they have condemned the people to the continuation of miserable living standards with little prospect of improvement. "In Romania from the beginning there was this terrible concern about hardships that transition would cause," he commented. "Every time they came to a hard decision, for instance on tightening budget constraints on enterprises, too often they blinked. And that in turn...made their macro- economic policies incoherent." With regard to Bulgaria, Koromzay said that it wasted the early years of transition under non-reformist governments. Its industrial production is still one-third less than it was in 1989, but recently there has been fresh momentum under reformist Prime Minister Ivan Kostov. Koromzay noted that this is encouraging: Bulgaria, he commented, "did not get its act together for a number of years. But it shows on the one hand how costly it is to delay, but on the other hand that if you can get your act together even at a rather late date, the possibilities for breaking out of a very bad situation continue to exist." Progress across the transition region is needed soon, because after a decade of profound change, people are weary. In the Czech Republic, opinion polls show growing support for the Communists among frustrated voters. Similarly in eastern Germany, recent state elections show strong support for the former Communists. And in Poland, populist-nationalist trends opposed to reform are evident. Another expert in the region's transition process, Giovanni Cornia of the United Nations University in Helsinki, told RFE/RL that democracy "with falling incomes and rising mortality is not a particularly attractive type of democracy." Cornia also advanced a theory to explain, at least in part, why some countries have done better than others: the countries that are succeeding today are those that have a better-developed institutional framework, dating in part from before the communist era. In other words, those countries of Central Europe that were traditionally more institutionally advanced than, say, their neighbors in the Balkans, are the ones that will lead the race back into the market economy today. That historical advantage has also helped countries like Poland, Hungary, and the Czech Republic gain places as front- runners for membership of an expanded European Union. In turn, Cornia says, the hope of entering the EU has been a powerful motivation. The author is a Prague-based RFE/RL correspondent. 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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