|It is easier to love humanity than to love one's neighbor. - Eric Hoffer|
RFE/RL NEWSLINE Vol. 3, No. 201, Part II, 14 October 1999
___________________________________________________________ RFE/RL NEWSLINE Vol. 3, No. 201, Part II, 14 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 * CZECH FOREIGN MINISTER SAYS EU REPORT IS 'WAKE-UP CALL' * THUGS ATTACK PROTESTERS IN BELGRADE * CONTROVERSY SURROUNDS OIL DELIVERIES TO SERBIA End Note: EU UNVEILS NEW APPROACH TO EASTWARD ENLARGEMENT xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx EAST-CENTRAL EUROPE CZECH FOREIGN MINISTER SAYS EU REPORT IS 'WAKE-UP CALL'... Jan Kavan on 13 October said that sharp criticism of the Czech Republic in the EU's annual report on candidate countries' preparations for membership, which was released the same day (see "End Note"), is a "wake-up call." He said "hard work is still ahead and we shall have to speed up" but added that Prague's goal of integration in 2003 is "not unrealistic," CTK reported. The report is highly critical of the parliament's slowness in passing legislation bringing Czech laws into line with those of the EU. The report says the Czech Republic must step up the fight against organized crime, including corruption. It is critical of the situation of the Romany minority in general and the wall fencing off that minority in Usti nad Labem in particular (see also item below). MS ...WHILE SLOVENIAN PRESS SOBERED BY EU REPORT. Major Slovenian dailies on 14 October agree that the EU's report gives their country little to be happy about, the Croatian news agency Hina concluded. They agree that the report shows that their country did not perform as well in the "European regatta" as many had expected. Ljubljana's "Dnevnik" writes that the governing coalition has not been sufficiently attentive to meeting EU requirements and has been too slow in bringing legislation into line with EU standards. PM HUNGARIAN FOREIGN MINISTER CALLS EU REPORT 'POSITIVE'... Janos Martonyi noted that the EU annual report on Hungary is "generally positive" and the critical remarks in it reflect the main tasks outlined in the country's national program. He noted, however, that Hungary and EU Commission differ on time frames set for fulfilling some of those tasks. The report considers both Hungary and Poland to be the economic leaders among the 13 countries aspiring to the EU. With regard to Poland, however, the commission criticized the pace of bringing Polish legislation into line with EU standards. The commission also pointed to Poland's unsatisfactory progress in combating corruption and smuggling, implementing privatization, and restructuring its coal mining and metallurgy sectors. MSZ/JM ...AS DOES ESTONIAN DIPLOMAT. The European Commission Mission head in Estonia, Ambassador Arhi Palosuo, said that "the tone of the entire report is good," "Postimees" reported. The report commends both Estonia's economic performance, despite the Russian crisis, and its harmonization with EU legislation. At the same time, it criticizes the stricter new language law, administrative efficiency, corruption, protection of intellectual property, and policies toward the agriculture and fishing sectors. MH LATVIA, LITHUANIA HAIL DECISION TO START MEMBERSHIP TALKS. Responding to the news that the EU will start membership talks with another six candidate countries (see "End Note"), Latvian Foreign Minister Indulis Berzins said that the report on Latvia was among the best of the six and that he expects the talks to end in 2003 and membership to be achieved in 2005, BNS reported. Lithuanian President Valdas Adamkus also praised the report, which he said signals the "nation's progress," ELTA added. MH SLOVAK LEADERS WELCOME EU DECISION... President Rudolf Schuster on 13 October said he is glad that the EU Commission has "objectively [assessed] Slovakia's development and its results in meeting EU criteria," SITA and CTK reported. Prime Minister Mikulas Dzurinda said the report gives Slovakia "new motivation" to establish a viable functioning market, as demanded by the EU, "no matter how painful that may be." Pavol Hamzik, deputy premier in charge of relations with the EU, said the commission's report is "the first concrete result" of the government's foreign policy," AP reported. MS ...ROMANIAN PRESIDENT CALLS IT 'POSITIVE SIGNAL'... Emil Constantinescu, speaking in Iasi on 13 October, said the EU decision to include Romania among those countries with which negotiations will begin is "a positive signal, with beneficial effects for our country." Constantinescu said the government will have to "demonstrate it is able to continue reforms" aimed at improving conditions in orphanages and ensuring economic stability--both of which were mentioned by the EU as a precondition for membership talks. He said the government has already sent a letter to the EU detailing its intention to improve conditions in orphanages. MS ...AND BULGARIAN PREMIER SAYS SOFIA ACHIEVING ITS AIM. Ivan Kostov on 13 October said in Plodviv that Bulgaria is "witnessing the achievement of our aim--to be put on a track of our own and be included" among the countries that will conduct talks on full EU membership, BTA reported. President Petar Stoyanov, speaking in Turgovishte, said he believes Bulgaria will be in the position to fulfill the conditions set by the EU for starting accession talks. He said it is necessary to find a way "acceptable to both the Bulgarian national interest and the EU" for closing down the nuclear reactors at Kozloduy. And he said he is "not worried" about the country's progress in economic reform, because the IMF has given it "a very positive estimate." MS BELARUSIAN INDEPENDENT TRADE UNION DENIED REGISTRATION. The Justice Ministry has refused to register the Belarusian Independent Industrial Trade Union Association, which unites two trade unions representing workers in the machine-building and electronic industries, Belapan reported on 13 October. The ministry gave no reason for its decision. Association leaders Alyaksandr Bukhvostau and Henadz Fyadynich believe that the move is the government's revenge for the association's independent stance and its many anti-government protest actions. JM PRICE OF BREAD GOES UP IN BELARUS. Belapan reported on 12 October that the price of bread has recently risen by 2-30 percent, depending on quality and type. The authorities noted that the hike results from the increased price of flour and energy. Despite the hike, they noted, state bakeries are still incurring losses. A 1 kilogram loaf of rye bread currently costs 30,400 rubles ($0.1), while its production cost is 68,000. Belarusian commentators say the hike in bread prices may also be caused by this year's poor harvest. Belarus is currently seeking to buy some 2 million tons of grain abroad. JM UKRAINE'S MOROZ WARNS OF ASSASSINATION PLOT AGAINST HIM... Presidential candidate Oleksandr Moroz on 13 October said unknown assailants are plotting to kill him during a campaign trip this week, AP reported. According to Moroz, he received a warning about the alleged attack from a regional branch of the Ukrainian Security Service and another one from his electoral headquarters. "This is a yet another attempt to create an artificial stir around this candidate," President Leonid Kuchma commented on a regional television station the same day. JM ...FAILS TO GET AIR TIME ON UKRAINIAN TELEVISION. National Television Company head Vadym Dolhanov told Interfax on 13 October that the previous day Moroz and some 50 supporters, including parliamentary deputies, entered the company building to demand that Moroz be given air time. Moroz reportedly wanted to speak about the allegation that one of his election campaign organizers is involved in the attempt on the life of Natalya Vitrenko. The parliament on 12 October adopted a resolution demanding that the television company grant Moroz air time so that he can present his version of the attack on Vitrenko. Dolhanov said he will not obey the parliamentary resolution because the activities of Ukraine's media are regulated solely by laws. JM UKRAINE TO PAY PART OF RUSSIAN ENERGY DEBT WITH BOMBERS. Ukrainian Defense Minister Oleksandr Kuzmuk and his Russian counterpart, Igor Sergeev, have signed a schedule for delivering 11 Ukrainian strategic bombers to Russia as part of Ukrainian payments for energy debts, AP reported on 13 October. Ukraine will send eight Tu-160 and three Tu-95MS machines to Russia. Ukrainian First Deputy Premier Anatoliy Kinakh said the deal will allow Ukraine to cut its energy debts to Russia by $275 million by the end of this year. He did not specify the price of each bomber. JM ESTONIAN PARLIAMENT ADOPTS IMPORT TARIFFS. Lawmakers on 13 October approved the government-sponsored import tariffs (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 29 September 1999). The measures are to go into force at the beginning of next year. The tariffs will be imposed on various agricultural products from countries with which Estonia has no free trade agreement. MH LITHUANIAN PRESIDENT SIGNS OIL AMENDMENTS... President Valdas Adamkus on 12 October signed the controversial package of amendments under which U.S.-based Williams International is to take a majority stake in Mazeikiai Oil (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 6 October 1999). The opposition had asked the president not to approve the changes and threatened a court challenge. Meanwhile, the director of Mazeikiai Oil, Vidmantas Macevicius, has been sacked for poor performance, ELTA reported. MH ...WHILE OIL SHIPMENTS RESUME. ELTA also reported that a LUKoil representative in Lithuania confirmed that the shipment of crude oil to the Mazeikiai Oil refinery has resumed. The Russian Embassy in Vilnius has criticized press coverage over the issue, adding that no bilateral agreements "have been concluded between Russia and Lithuania that would bind Russia to supply oil." MH CENTRAL BANK DELAYS LITAS REPEGGING PLAN. The Lithuanian Central Bank on 13 October announced that it plans to repeg the litas to the euro in the latter half of 2001. This would replace the current plan of adopting a dollar/euro basket in 2000, according to ELTA. The Central Bank stressed that there will be no devaluation of the currency now or during the repegging. MH CZECH PREMIER, OPPOSITION LEADER, END TALK INCONCLUSIVELY. Prime Minster Milos Zeman and Vaclav Klaus, leader of the main opposition Civic Democratic Party, failed on 13 October to reach an agreement on the future of the minority Social Democratic (CSSD) government but did agree to continue talks next week, Reuters reported. Klaus refused to disclose to journalists his demands but said that "at least" a large cabinet reshuffle must take place. He added that he cannot guarantee that his party will support in the parliament the government's 2000 budget draft. Zeman said the CSSD is "more optimistic" than the ODS about the country's economic and political situation. MS ANTI-ROMA WALL IN USTI NAD LABEM COMPLETED. In what a local observer described as "a speed record in Czech construction history," the wall in Usti nad Labem separating Romany and other residents was completed on 13 October, Reuters reported. Police guarded the builders, while the presidential office in Prague launched an official complaint against the town's police on grounds that they had restricted the free movement of residents by forcing Roma to stay in their homes. Also on 13 October, the Chamber of Deputies revoked the town council's decision to build the wall. However, some deputies voiced doubt over whether that decision is binding on the council. Council members later said they will take the case to the Constitutional Court, CTK reported. MS SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE THUGS ATTACK PROTESTERS IN BELGRADE. Goran Svilanovic, who heads the Civic Alliance of Serbia, told RFE/RL's South Slavic Service on 13 October that "some 20 criminals who work for the police" injured at least five anti-government protesters in Belgrade. The thugs arrived at the scene in cars and attacked the demonstrators with sticks. The violence was not as "serious" as that used by police against protesters two weeks earlier, Reuters reported (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 1 October 1999). Nonetheless, the opposition Alliance for Change decided on security grounds to cancel protests slated for the following day in the Novi Beograd and Slavija districts of the capital. PM BELGRADE POLICE 'CHECK OUT' ALBANIANS. An unnamed official in the large Novi Beograd district, which is controlled by Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic's Socialists, said that local officials will "check in detail all [ethnic] Albanian residents and tenants in apartment blocs there." AP quoted him on 13 October as saying that "the reason is to prevent bombing attacks such as the recent ones in Moscow, where explosive devices were planted in apartment buildings. We thought that perhaps our Albanian neighbors, under orders from the [former Kosova Liberation Army], could begin such attacks." He added that "many" local ethnic Albanian males were absent from their Belgrade flats during the NATO air strikes in the spring. "I do not wish to speculate whether they were then trained in terrorist or subversive activities. [But] it is our goal to remove everything undesirable," he concluded. PM SERBIAN OPPOSITION READY WITH ELECTION PROPOSAL. Opposition parties have concluded their agreement on conditions for early elections and will announce those conditions on 14 October, the Frankfurt-based Serbian daily "Vesti" reported the same day (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 8 October 1999). Democratic Party spokesman Zoran Sami said that in future talks with the government, the opposition will insist on a maximum of eight electoral districts. He added that the opposition has worked out a formula for electing legislators from Kosova, but he did not elaborate. Sami noted that the number of legislators elected in each district in Serbia will depend on the number of voters casting their ballots there. The long-standing opposition demands for changes in electoral and media laws, for revising electoral lists, and for a rigorous monitoring system remain unchanged, he added. PM NIS MAYOR SAYS MILOSEVIC CANNOT STOP OIL DELIVERIES. Zoran Zivkovic, who is the mayor of Nis, said that "there is no legal way for anyone, not even...Milosevic, to prevent" the EU's planned deliveries of $5 million worth of fuel oil to opposition-controlled Nis and Pirot (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 12 October 1999). He insisted that the opposition has "created a system to prevent even a single litre of oil from falling into [government or criminal] hands," Reuters reported. PM CONTROVERSY SURROUNDS OIL DELIVERIES TO SERBIA. Several Serbian opposition politicians have criticized the EU's decision to deliver oil to only Nis and Pirot as "politically motivated," Reuters reported on 13 October. Cacak Mayor Velimir Ilic said that his town was unfairly excluded from the program. The Belgrade regime has denounced the shipments as interference in Serbia's internal affairs. The U.S. State Department has warned that the oil could easily fall into the wrong hands. An EU spokesman said in Brussels on 13 October that the program has a "political element," but he did not elaborate. In Belgrade, Alliance for Change leader Veran Batic argued that the opposition's relations with the EU are "excellent." He referred to some opposition leaders' recent boycott of an EU foreign ministers' meeting as a "minor glitch." PM ROBERTSON DEFENDS OIL DELIVERIES. NATO Secretary-General George Robertson said in Brussels on 14 October that Western countries are justified in using fuel oil deliveries for political purposes. He stressed that it is necessary to show Serbs that "there is a welcome for them in this European family of democratic nations, and there are benefits for them individually and collectively as well as benefits for the whole region, if they reject the regime of Milosevic." Robertson added that "the majority of the people in that country are good and decent people.... We have got to use every means at our disposal to get that message over. The Federal Republic of Yugoslavia is not Milosevic, Milosevic is not Yugoslavia," Reuters reported. PM BELGRADE PROVOKING EU? The Yugoslav government on 13 October named Sinisa Zaric as consul in Milan, Italy. Zaric is one of 308 prominent Yugoslav officials banned by the EU from receiving an entry visa. He is currently the director of the Belgrade Trade Fair. PM GERMAN FOREIGN MINISTER CALLS FOR KOSOVA 'TRUTH COMMISSION.' Joschka Fischer said in Copenhagen on 13 October that Kosova will need a "truth commission" on the South African model to promote inter-ethnic reconciliation. He noted that "there is a complete segregation between [ethnic] Albanians and Serbs" in the province. And he argued that it is difficult to envision the two peoples living together again. In Prishtina, NATO commander General Klaus Reinhardt told the private news agency Beta that the Serbs and Albanians should do as the Germans did after World War II and orient themselves toward a new life and the future. PM MORE THAN 400 MASS GRAVES IDENTIFIED IN KOSOVA. A spokesman for the Hague-based war crimes tribunal said in that Dutch city on 13 October that international forensics experts have found more than 400 mass graves in the province. Some 68 experts are currently working there in five groups. They hope to have completed investigations of 150 sites by the end of October. PM CARDINAL BLASTS CROATIAN GOVERNMENT 'INTERFERENCE.' Bosnian Cardinal Vinko Puljic, who is the only serving ethnic Croatian cardinal in the Balkans, called "unacceptable" a recent attempt by Croatian government representative Vice Vukojevic to decide who could participate in a commemorative Mass for a Croatian emigre in Paris. Puljic made the remarks at the European Bishops' Synod meeting in Rome, "Oslobodjenje" reported on 14 October. The 10 October Mass was in connection with the reburial in Croatia of an anti- communist journalist. PM SERBIAN LEGISLATORS APPEAL TO TUDJMAN. The three ethnic Serbian legislators in the Croatian parliament wrote President Franjo Tudjman on 13 October to ask him to block legislation that would reduce from three to one the number of legislative seats reserved for Serbs. Jovan Bamburac, Vojislav Stanimirovic, and Milorad Pupovac wrote that it is "illogical" to reduce the number of seats for Serbs in the wake of the successful reintegration of Serbian-held eastern Slavonia and the beginning of the return of ethnic Serbian refugees, RFE/RL's South Slavic Service reported. PM DUBROVNIK HOTELS ON THE BLOCK. The Croatian government will soon begin taking bids from interested buyers around the world for 19 Dubrovnik hotels that belonged to the defunct Dubrovacka Banka, RFE/RL's South Slavic Service reported on 13 October. Andronico Luksic, who is a Chilean of Croatian origin, has already obtained a 71 percent stake in the Hotel Argentina in the Dalmatian resort town. He previously took control of the Atlas tourist agency. PM ROMANIAN COALITION PATCHES UP DISAGREEMENTS--FOR NOW. Meeting on 13 October, the leaders of the governing coalition said they have managed to "clarify malfunctions" in the way the alliance works, and they expressed full support for the economic reforms envisaged by the cabinet. The coalition leaders said the special Senate commissions (see "RFE/RL Newsline, 12 October 1999) will hear testimony not only from the heads of the ministries they are investigating but also from "other ministers." Thereafter, a decision will to be taken on whether the investigation is still "warranted." The Democratic Party stressed at the meeting that its members are not opposed to the law on land restitution sponsored by the National Peasant Party Christian Democratic and currently under debate in the Senate, RFE/RL's Bucharest bureau reported. MS END NOTE EU UNVEILS NEW APPROACH TO EASTWARD ENLARGEMENT By Breffni O'Rourke The EU on 13 October announced a radically new approach to the process of enlargement into Central and Eastern Europe. At the core of the new strategy is the decision to recommend the start of negotiations next year with another six countries: Slovakia, Latvia, Lithuania, Romania, and Bulgaria as well as Malta. These countries, regarded as the group of less advanced candidates for membership, will therefore join the six so-called first wave countries-- Poland, Hungary, the Czech Republic, Estonia, Slovenia, and Cyprus--which have already opened negotiations with Brussels. In this way, the union will no longer distinguish between first-wave and other candidate countries. Turkey is now also acknowledged as a formal candidate but is not yet admitted to negotiations, on the grounds that key criteria are not yet met. In the new negotiations, each country will progress toward meeting membership requirements at its own individual pace, a principle called "differentiation." The new accession strategy bears the stamp of the EU's first commissioner for enlargement, Guenter Verheugen of Germany. Verheugen says the strategy is aimed at balancing two potentially conflicting objectives: namely speed of accession and quality of preparation. He says speed is essential because of the expectations of the candidates, while quality is vital because the EU does not want "partial members" but new members with full rights and responsibilities. Verheugen also brought more clarity to the vexed question of when new members will be admitted. The report welcomes the fact that some applicants have already set their own target dates and says that the EU Commission will recommend that the EU summit in Helsinki in December commit the EU to be ready to decide from 2002 about the accession of candidates that fulfil the necessary criteria. Among the individual countries that were not included in the first wave, the progress report names Slovakia as having made good progress during the year, both in terms of democratization and economic reform. However, it says that Slovakia does not yet have a fully functioning market mechanism and in addition needs to do more to implement policy decisions and legislation on administration and the judiciary. The head of the EU integration section of the Slovak Foreign Ministry, Jan Kuderjavy, told RFE/RL that "this kind of relatively positive evaluation was badly needed [in Slovakia] and now I think everybody can see that the effort that was employed throughout the whole year, since our [reform] government was established last autumn, is bringing already first fruits." Lithuania, like Slovakia, is not yet regarded as having a full market economy, and in addition is seen as sluggish in adapting its legislation to fit EU norms. Fellow Baltic State Latvia needs to devote serious attention to general public administration and judicial reform but has made good economic progress in the last year. Estonia, which is also doing well economically and is one of the first-wave countries, needs to ensure that its language legislation is implemented in such a way as to comply with international standards. Turning to Bulgaria and Romania, the report finds that neither country met economic criteria. Bulgaria continues to make significant progress and shows sustained effort but started from a very low level. Romania has, at best, stabilized as compared with last year, the report argues. In the case of both those countries, the EU Commission has set conditions before membership negotiations can begin. For Bulgaria, those conditions stipulate that it must continue to make economic reform progress and must decide by the end of this year on an acceptable closure date for the risky nuclear reactors at Kozloduy. For Romania, the terms are that it, too, must make continued economic progress, and in view of the large number of orphans in the country it must implement reform of child-care institutions. The deputy head of Romania's diplomatic mission in Brussels, Viorel Ardeleanu, told RFE/RL that his country will work hard to meet the conditions so that negotiations can begin. He praised the EU's new approach, saying that "the main thing is that all six countries are invited to start negotiations in 2000.... This is an extraordinary signal for the political class and in general for the whole society in Romania." Turkey, with its long-strained relations with the EU, is a special case. The report recommends that Turkey be made a formal candidate, thereby giving it the prospect of eventual EU membership. But at the same time, the EU declines to open negotiations with Turkey and in this context points to failings of democratization in that country. The commission urges Ankara to undertake specific steps. These include enhancing domestic political dialogue, with particular reference to improving human rights, revising the way it handles EU financial assistance, and developing a national program for adjusting its legislation to EU norms. As for the west Balkans, the EU report recommends that EU leaders confirm the prospect of eventual membership for the former Yugoslav states and Albania. But it says that in addition to meeting the usual criteria, those countries will have to recognize one another's borders, settle all issues relating to national minorities, and pursue economic integration in a regional framework. Looking further afield, the report notes that relations with Russia, Ukraine, the Caucasus states and the Maghreb countries of North Africa are of strategic importance to the EU. They should go beyond trade and assistance programs and include issues such as the fight against organized crime, drug trafficking, and migration and environmental policies. The author is an RFE/RL correspondent based in Prague. 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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