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RFE/RL NEWSLINE Vol. 3, No. 211, Part II, 29 October 1999
___________________________________________________________ RFE/RL NEWSLINE Vol. 3, No. 211, Part II, 29 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 * LITHUANIAN PRESIDENT CONSIDERS CALLING EARLY ELECTIONS * MACEDONIA TO ELECT A PRESIDENT * MONTENEGRO ADOPTS LAW ON CITIZENSHIP xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx EAST-CENTRAL EUROPE EXILED BELARUSIAN SPEAKER CALLS ON WEST TO PRESSURE MOSCOW. Syamyon Sharetski, the speaker of Belarus's dissolved Supreme Soviet, said in Copenhagen on 28 October that Western countries must pressure Russia to cease supporting Belarusian President Alyaksandr Lukashenka, AP reported. Sharetski, who lives in exile in Lithuania, said that if a union between Belarus and Russia comes to fruition, Lukashenka will be elected president of the new entity. Commenting on the rousing reception Lukashenka received after an address to the Russian State Duma earlier this week (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 27 October 1999), Sharetski called the Belarusian president a "brilliant demagogue" whose populist message of "taking all from the rich and giving everything to the poor" resonates well in the Duma, most of whose members "want to reestablish the Soviet Union." Sharetski met with Danish officials in Copenhagen and said he is working on "getting Belarus back on track to democracy." PB U.S. AMBASSADOR RESPONDS TO LUKASHENKA'S ANTI-AMERICAN STATEMENTS. Daniel Speckhard, the U.S. ambassador to Belarus, said on 28 October that the Belarusian government is responsible for human rights abuses as well as for the country's "worsening relations with all Western countries and its self-imposed isolation," Belapan reported. Speckhard was responding to Lukashenka's comments at a CIS youth conference in Minsk the previous day in which he accused the U.S. of sucking money out of Russia and other former Soviet republics and of not respecting Belarusian traditions and "ancient civilization." Speaking of the U.S., Lukashenka had also commented "its history goes back [only] 300 years, when all of those riff-raff from Europe moved there." Speckhard said he is convinced that Belarusians will not fall for the Belarusian government's "Cold War tactics." He added that it is time for Belarus to join "the family of democratic nations," release "political detainees," and stop harassing opposition parties, NGOs, and the media. PB UKRAINE DISMISSES LUKASHENKA CRITICISM. President Leonid Kuchma's office on 27 October dismissed charges by Belarusian President Lukashenka that Kyiv is yielding to U.S. pressure, AP reported. Kuchma spokesman Oleksandr Martyenko said "the relations between the Ukraine and the U.S. are those of two civilized nations. Nobody has exerted any pressure [on anyone]." Lukashenka said in Moscow that Washington offered Kuchma financial support in exchange for a meeting between him and Belarusian opposition leader Syamyon Sharetski. Lukashenka said the secret meeting took place earlier this month, but Kuchma denies there was such a meeting. Lukashenka added that "Ukraine is looking to the West and aspires to join NATO. It is practically isolated from us and conducts pro-Western policies." PB TOP CANDIDATES FOR UKRAINIAN PRESIDENCY TRADE JABS. Ukrainian President Kuchma said on 28 October that "there is no significant difference between" his two closest rivals for the presidency, Petro Symonenko and Natalia Vitrenko, AP reported. Kuchma said they "both profess the same ideology, which is dangerous for the country." Symonenko, the leader of the Communist Party, asked "why is the present-day dictatorship of bandits better than the upcoming dictatorship of the proletariat?" Vitrenko advocates Marxist economics and wants to break relations with the IMF. Symonenko and Vitrenko are expected to battle for second place behind Kuchma in the 31 October vote. If none of the 13 candidates gets 50 percent of the vote, then a run off election will be held the following week. PB UKRAINIAN CURRENCY SLIDES AGAINST DOLLAR. The hryvnya fell to about 4.85 to the dollar on 28 October from 4.7 the previous day, AP reported. Central Bank head Viktor Yushchenko said the loss in value is due to "negative political expectations" on the eve of the presidential election. The latest slide brings the rate outside of the Central Bank's trading corridor for this year, which was set at between 3.4 and 4.6 hryvnya to the dollar. PB TALLINN COALITION AGREEMENT SIGNED. The three parties of the national ruling coalition and People's Trust, which represents Russian speakers, signed a cooperation agreement giving the two groups a majority of seats in the Tallinn City Council (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 25 October 1999). The new council voted by 33 to 31 to appoint Rein Voog of the Reform Party as council chairman, thereby ousting Edgar Savisaar from that post, "Postimees" reported. The coalition earlier had named Interior Minister Juri Mois of the Pro Patria Union as its candidate for Tallinn mayor. MH FAILED LATVIAN BANK RENEWED. Pirma Latvijas Komercbanka (PLKB) began operations on 26 October. PLKB is the successor to Rigas Komercbanka, which was declared insolvent earlier this year (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 24 March 1999). Officials said that on the first day of operations there were more deposits than withdrawals, LETA and BNS reported. MH LITHUANIA'S ACTING GOVERNMENT TO ACCEPT WILLIAMS OFFER. The acting government has approved the final documents detailing the sale to U.S.-based Williams International of a 33 percent stake in the Lithuanian oil sector complex, ELTA reported. The cabinet on 29 October voted to authorize acting Minister of Government Reform and Municipal Affairs Sigitas Kaktys and acting Transportation Minister Rimantas Didziokas to sign the contracts on shares, investments, and management on behalf of the government. Kaktys, who headed the negotiating team over the last week, said that Williams had made concessions to Lithuania during the final day of negotiations, lowering Lithuania's financial commitments by $9 million and extending the term for payments. AB LITHUANIAN PRESIDENT CONSIDERS CALLING EARLY ELECTIONS. In a televised speech to the nation, Valdas Adamkus said that if the parliament fails to form a stable government, it may be advisable to hold early national elections, possibly at the same time as the local elections next March, ELTA reported on 28 October. Adamkus the previous day accepted the resignation of Prime Minister Rolandas Paksas, who had refused to sign the Williams contracts, and re-appointed Minister of Social Welfare Irena Degutiene as acting premier. Degutiene served as interim prime minister six months ago when the Conservative government of Gediminas Vagnorius resigned. Adamkus is expected to nominate a new premier on 29 October. Degutiene is a leading candidate for the post. AB POLISH PRIME MINISTER SUSPENDS ECONOMIC ADVISER. Jerzy Buzek sent his economic adviser, Jerzy Kropiwnicki, "on holiday" on 28 October after he made gloomy economic forecasts that caused the country's currency to drop sharply, AP reported, citing PAP. Kropiwnicki had predicted the previous day that Poland's inflation rate this year will be higher than the government forecast of 8.1 percent and that the current account deficit will be nearly double its level last year. His comments caused the zloty to fall to a two-year low of 4.22 to the dollar, about 2.37 percent below the parity rate set by the Central Bank. Finance Minister Leszek Balcerowicz said Kropiwnicki was spreading "black propaganda" and "tendentious and exaggerated statements." The row increases tensions between members of the ruling coalition. Balcerowicz and his Freedom Union, which is a member of the coalition, have called for Kropiwnicki to be sacked. PB POLISH FARMS TO MEET EU STANDARDS IN FOUR YEARS. Agriculture Minister Artur Balazs said on 27 October that Polish farms will be restructured to meet EU standards by 2003, Reuters reported. Balazs said the government will be able to downsize the number of farms from the current 2 million to some 800,000 by that time. Nearly one-quarter of Poland's workforce is tied to loss-making agriculture enterprises, by far the highest share among prospective EU members. The EU says it would cost some 4.2 billion euros ($4.5 billion) annually to extend current EU subsidies to Polish farmers. PB CZECH DEPUTY PREMIER RESIGNS. Egon Lansky, deputy premier in charge of foreign affairs and security, will tender his resignation as soon as he is discharged from the hospital, Prime Minister Milos Zeman told journalists on 28 October, after informing President Vaclav Havel of Lansky's decision. Zeman did not mention any reason for Lansky's departure from the cabinet, CTK reported. He has been increasingly criticized by the media and the opposition for the poor performance of the Czech Republic in meeting EU integration conditions and for having opened an illegal bank account in Austria. Also on 28 October, Zeman said that if the Civic Democratic Party (ODS) withdraws from the "opposition agreement," he will immediately start talks with the Christian Democratic Party and the Freedom Union on forming a new coalition. MS CZECH PREMIER SAYS ODS WANTS TO SHARE GOVERNMENT'S SUCCESS. Addressing a 28 October gala dinner organized by his Social Democratic Party to mark the 81st anniversary of the foundation of Czechoslovakia, Zeman said that his cabinet has managed to gradually help the country emerge from its crisis and that having witnessed this accomplishment, the ODS now wants to share the success. "Those who helped rob the country are now offering to take part in further privatization. Those hit by the [government's] clean-hands anti-corruption campaign are saying they would like to improve the legal system," Zeman remarked. MS CZECH PRESIDENT SEES COUNTRY AT A CROSSROADS.' President Vaclav Havel on 28 October said that on the 81st anniversary of the foundation of Czechoslovakia, the Czech Republic is "at a historical crossroads" where it will have to choose between "assuming its share of responsibility for Europe, the world, and its civilization" or "taking care of ourselves alone." Havel said the first option is one of "responsible participation in improving the world," while the second amounts to "building walls from concrete or [to] visa requirements, import surcharges and quotes, and a ban on evil foreigners buying houses here." MS SLOVAK GOVERNMENT 'TECHNICALLY INITIALS' AGREEMENT WITH VATICAN. Foreign Minister Eduard Kukan on 27 October told journalists that the government has "technically initialed" an agreement with the Vatican. He said the text of the agreement has not been finalized but "specific points" could be still negotiated. He said the government will not make public the text of the agreement before it is discussed with the Holy See because of "ethics and correctness toward the partner," CTK and SITA reported. President Rudolf Schuster on 28 October left for a two-day visit to Italy and the Vatican. MS FORMER SLOVAK PREMIER REJECTS POLICE SUMMONS. Vladimir Meciar has twice failed to respond to a subpoena to answer questions about the abduction of former President Michal Kovac's son in 1995, CTK reported on 28 October, citing the daily "Slovenska Republika." The daily said a Bratislava police leader has asked police officials to "draw up alternative plans for bringing Meciar [in] to answer questions." MS GERMANY SEARCHES FOR STASI MONEY IN HUNGARY. A German government commission is searching for some 3-4 billion German marks allegedly laundered in Hungary in the late 1980s by the East German secret services (Stasi), "Vilaggazdasag" reported on 27 October. In 1991, the Hungarian National Bank stopped opening anonymous accounts, and Stasi funds were transferred to secret accounts of newly emerging private banks, a member of the commission told reporters. Hungarian Finance Ministry State Secretary Mihaly Varga said both his ministry and the government will aid the commission's investigation, which is expected to be completed within six months. MSZ SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE MACEDONIA TO ELECT A PRESIDENT... Voters go to the polls on 31 October in the first round of voting to elect Macedonia's second president since independence in 1991. If, as expected, none of the six candidates wins a majority, a second round will take place on 14 November. Incumbent Kiro Gligorov is not running for re-election. He is the first of the post- communist heads of state in the Yugoslav successor states to leave office. Moreover, his is the only one of those republics to win independence from Belgrade peacefully. Known as "the old fox," Gligorov is widely credited with having kept his country out of regional conflicts. He also sought to establish good relations with neighboring states without, however, drawing too close to any of them. In recent months, he has been involved in acrimonious public disputes with the center-right government of Prime Minister Ljubco Georgievski, who has been in office for almost one year. Gligorov is close to the opposition Social Democrats, who held power until Georgievski and his allies defeated them in a campaign that emphasized promoting free markets and ending corruption. PM ...BUT WHO WILL IT BE? The two leading contenders for the presidency are Vasil Tupurkovski of the multi-ethnic Democratic Alternative and Boris Trajkovski of Georgievski's Internal Macedonian Revolutionary Organization (VMRO), Reuters reported on 28 October. Both parties belong to the governing coalition and were long expected to field a joint candidate, namely Tupurkovski. But continuing rivalries within the coalition and poor performances by some of Tupurkovski's ministers in the cabinet led VMRO to decide to go it alone. Both of the main ethnic Albanian parties are running a candidate, but their voters are likely to come exclusively from the Albanian minority, which represents only about one-quarter of the population. Trajkovski, Tupurkovski, and the Social Democrats' Tito Petkovski have all sought to court the Albanian vote. Most parties agree on the need for economic development, European integration, and ethnic harmony. PM MONTENEGRO ADOPTS LAW ON CITIZENSHIP... The parliament in Podgorica passed a law on Montenegrin citizenship on 28 October. The new legislation recognizes a separate Montenegrin citizenship distinct from that of Yugoslavia or Serbia. Deputies loyal to Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic walked out of the session, saying that the law is separatist. Pro-independence Liberals also quit the meeting, charging that the legislation does not go far enough to restore full independence, AP reported. PM ...PREPARES TO INTRODUCE GERMAN MARK. President Milo Djukanovic said in Podgorica on 28 October that Montenegro is ready to introduce the German mark as a parallel currency to the Yugoslav dinar (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 25 October 1999). He stressed that while Montenegro does not want to destabilize Yugoslavia or the region, the government is obliged to protect its citizens against growing inflation in Serbia. PM DODIK BLASTS BELGRADE OVER CURRENCY CHARGE. Republika Srpska caretaker Prime Minister Milorad Dodik told Belgrade's "Danas" of 29 October that Yugoslav Information Minister Goran Matic is trying to deceive his own people. Matic recently charged that with Western backing, the Republika Srpska has sought to destabilize the Yugoslav dinar by "flooding" Serbia with forged dinar banknotes. Dodik commented that people forge only strong currencies, not the inflation-plagued dinar. He added that the source of Serbia's economic woes is its own regime, whose policies constitute an "economic war" against Serbs in both Serbia and Bosnia. PM PETRITSCH INTRODUCES DECREES ON BOSNIAN PROPERTY. The international community's Wolfgang Petritsch issued several decrees on 28 October enabling Bosnian refugees and displaced persons to reclaim their property in either half of the republic. He called the decision a "watershed," "Oslobodjenje" reported. Observers note that a major problem preventing people from going home is that other people are squatting in their flats and houses. Local nationalists often back the squatters in their claim to the property in an effort to consolidate the results of "ethnic cleansing." PM PARTIES REGISTER FOR BOSNIAN VOTE. Officials of the OSCE, which organizes elections in Bosnia-Herzegovina, said in Sarajevo on 28 October that 73 parties and 17 independent candidates have registered for the local elections slated for April 2000, dpa reported. PM CROATIAN PRESIDENT IN THE VATICAN. Franjo Tudjman opened an exhibition of Croatian religious art in the Vatican on 28 October (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 15 October 1999). PM META ACCEPTS ALBANIAN PREMIERSHIP. President Rexhep Meidani named Deputy Prime Minister Ilir Meta to head the new government following the recent resignation of Meta's ally Pandeli Majko (see "RFE/RL Balkan Report," 29 October 1999). Meta said that he "will do the impossible to work for a better life for Albanian citizens." He noted that he will retain Interior Minister Spartak Poci, who has cracked down on gangs, particularly in the north. PM CONVOY OF SERBS ATTACKED IN KOSOVA. Some 1,500 ethnic Albanians blocked and ransacked a convoy of 155 Serbs in Peja on 27 October, injuring at least 18. A Dutch KFOR commander said that some of the Serbs would "certainly" have been killed if peacekeepers had not intervened. The Serbs were en route from their isolated settlement near Rahovec to Montenegro. They continued on their way after the incident. UN, KFOR, and Serbian officials condemned the attack. Serbian spokesmen said in Belgrade that the incident shows that KFOR is unable to protect Kosova's Serbian population. PM AIR CORRIDOR TO KOSOVA TO REOPEN. The Macedonian authorities on 28 October approved a request by NATO and the EU to reopen an air corridor to civilian flights to Kosova (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 15 October 1999). PM SERBIAN OPPOSITION AGREES TO STICK TOGETHER. Representatives of 15 opposition parties agreed in Belgrade on 28 October to work together "before, during, and after" any future elections, RFE/RL's South Slavic Service reported. The single largest opposition party, which is Vuk Draskovic's Serbian Renewal Movement, did not sign the pact. Elsewhere, Serbian Deputy Prime Minister Vojislav Seselj said that the governing parties will also maintain a united front whenever elections are held. PM MILOSEVIC PRAISES RAMSEY CLARK. Former U.S. Attorney General Ramsey Clark met with Milosevic in Belgrade on 28 October. The Serbian leader called his guest "brave, objective, and moral" for his opposition to NATO's recent bombing campaign against Serbia, AP reported. Very few Westerners have called on Milosevic since May, when the Hague-based war crimes tribunal indicted him for atrocities committed in Kosova. PM DEL PONTE WANTS BIG FISH. Carla del Ponte, who is the Hague tribunal's new chief prosecutor, said in Prishtina on 28 October that her priority will be to bring top-ranking war criminals to justice. These include Milosevic, Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic, and Bosnian Serb General Ratko Mladic, she added. She noted that Milosevic may face charges in addition to those for which he has already been indicted. In The Hague, a court spokesman said that Serbia, Croatia, and the Republika Srpska have failed to deliver a total of 35 indicted war criminals to the tribunal. PM EU TO GIVE ROMANIA LARGE GRANTS. EU commissioner for enlargement Guenter Verheugen said in Bucharest on 28 October that the union will provide Romania with 600 million euros ($636 million) annually until 2006 to upgrade transport, environment, agriculture, and rural development programs. Verheugen, who met with President Emil Constantinescu and Chamber of Deputies Chairman Ion Diaconescu, said the EU wants to see consensus among Romanian parties on joining the union, RFE/RL's Bucharest bureau reported. The government the same day approved Romania's National Development Plan, which is to be submitted to the EU by the end of the month. MS ROMANIAN PRESIDENT SLAMS OPPOSITION LEADER. In a statement released on 28 October, Constantinescu said that Party of Social Democracy in Romania Deputy Chairman Adrian Nastase's recent criticism of the government's decision to raise wages for employees of the Defense and Internal Affairs Ministries is "demagogic." Nastase had said the decision is a "bribe paid ahead of the electoral campaign for the use of [police] truncheons." The Defense Ministry also criticized Nastase, who responded that he was not insulting "those in uniform" but the "demagogy that characterizes the discourse of those in power." MS ROMANIAN STUDENTS PROTEST. Thousands of students marched in Bucharest and other cities on 27 and 28 November demanding higher grants and better living conditions on campus, RFE/RL's Romanian service reported. The students said they have decided to go on strike for "an unlimited period." MS RUSSIAN CONTINGENT IN TRANSDNIESTER DESTROYS ARSENAL. Russian troops in the Transdniester on 27 October destroyed several tons of ammunition that had belonged to the former 14th army stationed in the separatist region, ITAR-TASS and BASA-press reported. General Valerii Yevnevich, who commands the Russian contingent in the breakaway region, told journalists that the destruction of the ammunition was stipulated in an agreement with Tiraspol that had been reached "with the assistance of Prime Minister Vladimir Putin." ITAR-TASS cited Yevnevich as saying that the withdrawal of the remaining arsenal "will take up to six years" and require "400 special trains" that will transit Ukraine. Romanian Radio reported on 28 October that Putin has invited Transdniestrian leader Igor Smirnov to Moscow for talks. MS BULGARIA, EU TO NEGOTIATE CLOSING KOZLODUY. The Bulgarian government on 28 October announced it will begin negotiations with the EU on a plan to shut down the aging Kozloduy nuclear plant, AP reported. The agency said that under the government plan, Bulgaria wants to leave the two newer reactors functioning until the two older ones have been decommissioned. BTA reported the same day that parliamentary Energy Committee Chairman Kiril Ermenkov said that the older units must not be closed before 2003, while the newer ones must operate until 2008-2010. Ermenkov said that the EU proposal that the older units be closed in 2001 and the newer ones the following year is "unacceptable." MS xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx Copyright (c) 1999 RFE/RL, Inc. All rights reserved. xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx HOW TO SUBSCRIBE Send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org with the word subscribe as the subject of the message. HOW TO UNSUBSCRIBE Send an email to email@example.com with the word unsubscribe as the subject of the message. 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