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RFE/RL NEWSLINE Vol. 3, No. 212, Part II, 1 November 1999
___________________________________________________________ RFE/RL NEWSLINE Vol. 3, No. 212, Part II, 1 November 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 * INCUMBENT, COMMUNIST LEADER TO COMPETE IN RUNOFF FOR UKRAINIAN PRESIDENCY * SOCIAL DEMOCRATIC CANDIDATE AHEAD IN FIRST ROUND OF MACEDONIAN ELECTIONS * TWO OPPOSITION PARTIES WITHDRAW FROM ANTI-MILSOEVIC STREET PROTESTS End Note: ALBANIA'S PRIME MINISTER CALLS IT QUITS xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx EAST-CENTRAL EUROPE INCUMBENT, COMMUNIST LEADER TO COMPETE IN RUNOFF FOR UKRAINIAN PRESIDENCY. Ukrainian President Leonid Kuchma and Communist Party leader Petro Symonenko finished first and second, respectively, in Ukraine's presidential vote on 31 October and will face each other in a runoff in two weeks, AP reported on 1 November. With 96 percent of the votes counted, Kuchma gained 36.36 percent backing and Symonenko 22.32 percent. Oleksandr Moroz, head of Ukraine's Socialist Party, came third with 11.29 percent of the vote, slightly ahead of radical leftist Natalya Vitrenko (11.05 percent). Former Premier Yevhen Marchuk placed fifth with 8.06 percent, the Central Election Commission reported. Voter turnout was reported at 70-75 percent, an increase over the 1994 ballot. Voters in the largely nationalist western half of the country tended to favor Kuchma, while voters in the east voted for Symonenko and other leftist candidates. PB CANDIDATES COMPLAIN OF ELECTION VIOLATIONS. The organizations of several candidates reported violations of election regulations and dirty tricks on 31 October, AP reported. The UNIAN news agency reported that in the eastern coal mining city of Donetsk, a leaflet was distributed claiming that Kuchma had died of a heart attack and had been replaced by a double so that his "criminal entourage" would remain in power. Although election advertisements and commercials are banned 24 hours before the vote, the state-run UT-2 television channel on 31 October showed footage of a Kuchma speech that was followed by a message that read "Vote for your Future." In the runup to the election, Kuchma is said to have received more coverage in the electronic media than the 12 other candidates together. PB LUKASHENKA WARNS OSCE AFTER ORGANIZATION CRITICIZES BELARUS. Belarusian President Alyaksandr Lukashenka on 30 October warned the OSCE not to accuse his country of human rights violations at an official summit in Istanbul in November, Reuters reported, citing Interfax. Lukashenka was reported to have told the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly's group for Belarus: "I warn those who try to depict Belarus as an outcast and prevent it from taking part in the summit. The response by the Belarusian side will be adequate." He did not elaborate. Adrian Severin, the head of the OSCE's group for Belarus, said after a meeting with Lukashenka that he is "deeply concerned over the marked deterioration of the human rights situation in Belarus" since the group's last visit in July. He added that he is disturbed that some of the people he spoke to during earlier visits "are now in prison..., in exile or in hiding, or have disappeared." PB BELARUSIAN POPULAR FRONT ELECTS NEW LEADER. The Belarusian Popular Front, the country's main opposition party, has elected Vintsuk Vyachorka as its new leader, AP reported on 30 October. Vyachorka replaces Zyanon Pazynak, who had held the post for more than a decade. Pazynak fled the country in 1996 and was granted political asylum in the U.S. Vyachorka said that "Lukashenka is ready to give up our independence, and we must resist not in theory but in practice." Vyachorka's election ends a leadership crisis in the party after a meeting in August resulted in a disputed and inconclusive vote. PB BELARUSIAN OPPOSITION DEFIES BAN ON MARCHES. Some 200 members of Belarusian opposition parties on 31 October ignored a state ban on processions and marched to a Soviet-era execution site, AP reported. Several hundred other people joined the marchers at the Kuropaty mass grave just outside Minsk. Minsk city officials had banned the march this year. According to the opposition Belarus Popular Front, 10 people were arrested before the march began. As many as tens of thousands of people were killed at Kuropaty in Communist purges during the 1930s, according to some estimates. PB ESTONIAN SUPREME COURT RULES ON KALLAS TRIAL. The Estonian Supreme Court on 29 October ruled that a lower court reconsider part of its verdict of not guilty handed down to Finance Minister Siim Kallas back (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 16 March 1999). While the Supreme Court upheld nearly all the points of acquittal, it sent back to the Tallinn City Court the point "concerning the presentation of false information," BNS reported. Previously, Kallas had been acquitted at various judicial levels of all charges stemming from a $10 million money-laundering scandal. MH LITHUANIAN PRESIDENT NOMINATES NEW PRIME MINISTER. ELTA reported on 29 October that Valdas Adamkus has named first deputy parliamentary speaker, Andrius Kubilius, 42, as prime minister. Earlier, acting Prime Minister Irena Degutiene had declined an offer from the president to take over the premiership. Kubilius was first elected to the parliament in 1992 and became first deputy speaker when the Conservative Party won the majority of seats in 1996. The parliament is expected to vote on his nomination on 2 November. AB LITHUANIA-U.S. OIL DEAL CONCLUDED. The Lithuanian government and U.S.-based Williams International signed a contract giving a 33 percent interest in the Mazeikiu Nafta oil complex to the U.S. company, thereby concluding more than 18 months of controversial negotiations, ELTA reported on 29 October. The Lithuanian government appears to have succeeded in extracting slightly more favorable terms from Williams International. The U.S. company has transferred to Mazeikiu Nafta $150 million, half of which is payment for the shares and the other half a loan. The Lithuanian government, meanwhile, has transferred the first $75 million tranche of a loan to the oil complex to cover its working capital shortfall. Under the deal, the government will either loan, refinance, or extend long-term loans to Mazeikiu Nafta totaling $344 million, including $179 million in earlier government loans. Together, Williams and the government will provide $550 million for the reconstruction of the oil refinery over the next two to three years. Lithuania's share of that total was put at $118 million. AB GERMANY SUPPLANTS U.S. AS TOP INVESTOR IN POLAND. German firms invested some $5.1 million in Poland last year, thereby becoming the largest foreign investor in that country for the first time, dpa reported on 31 October. The U.S. was the largest investor in Poland the previous year. Germany is also Poland's largest trade partner, with 36.7 percent of all Polish exports in the first eight months of 1999 going to the country's Western neighbor. German products accounted for some 25.5 percent of all imports to Poland during the same period. Bogdan Wyznikiewicz, an analyst at the Polish Institute of Market Economy Research, said that the Polish economy is greatly influenced by trends in the German economy, and that a 1 percent growth in Germany's gross national product means an increase of several percentage points in Polish exports. PB SLOVAK PRESIDENT DISCUSSES VATICAN TREATY WITH POPE. Returning from Italy on 30 October, President Rudolf Schuster told journalists that he discussed with Pope John Paul II the pending treaty between Slovakia and the Vatican, SITA reported. Schuster said the treaty could be ready for ratification within two months. He added that he expects the parliament to approve the treaty "in a couple of months" and will not debate it for five years, as was the case in Poland. Schuster also said he had invited the pope and Italian President Carlo Azeglio Ciampi to visit Slovakia. MS SLOVAK FINANCE MINISTER SURVIVES NO-CONFIDENCE VOTE. The parliament on 29 October voted 71 to 47 with one abstention against a resolution expressing no confidence in Finance Minister Brigitta Schmognerova, SITA reported. The draft resolution was submitted by 47 deputies from the opposition Movement for a Democratic Slovakia who accused Schmognerova of poor management of the ministry she heads. Also on 29 October, Robert Fico, who has recently left the junior coalition Party of the Democratic Left, registered his new political party, Smer (Direction). He told journalists that Smer will be a "pragmatic" party, characterized by "professionalism" rather than the prevailing "emotionalism, politicking, disputing and personal attacks," CTK and SITA reported. MS HUNGARY WOULD CONSIDER DEPLOYMENT OF NUCLEAR WEAPONS IN EMERGENCY SITUATIONS. Prime Minister Viktor Orban, who is currently on a visit to Canada, said that in an "emergency situation" he would consider allowing NATO nuclear weapons to be deployed on Hungarian territory, "Nepszabadsag" reported on 30 October, citing Canada's "The Globe and Mail." Orban said there is no doubt that the alliance needs such weapons "because of the uncertainties around the future of Russia." Laszlo Kovacs, chairman of the opposition Socialist Party, said Hungary had received assurances that joining NATO would not require the stationing of nuclear weapons on its soil. "If Orban wanted to alarm Hungarian citizens and provoke Russia, then he has succeeded," Kovacs added. The deployment of nuclear weapons would require a two-thirds majority vote in the parliament. MSZ SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE SOCIAL DEMOCRATIC CANDIDATE AHEAD IN FIRST ROUND OF MACEDONIAN ELECTIONS. Early results from the 31 October Macedonian presidential elections show that Social Democratic candidate Tito Petkovski and Deputy Foreign Minister Boris Trajkovski will advance to the second round, Reuters reported on 1 November. With neither of the two leading candidates likely to win 50 percent of the vote, a second round of voting will probably be held on 14 November. Early returns showed Petkovski with 340,000 votes, Trajkovski with 214,000 votes, and a third candidate, Vasil Tupurkovski, with 158,000 votes. Voter turnout was reported to be relatively high. Trajkovski ran on the Internal Macedonian Revolutionary Organization's (VMRO) ticket, while Tupurkovski was the Democratic Alternative's candidate. Both parties are members of the governing coalition. VG VIOLENT INCIDENTS REPORTED DURING MACEDONIAN VOTING. At least three incidents of violence were reported during Macedonia's 31 October presidential election. A representative of the Social Democrats said one of the party's activists was shot in the leg in the town of Kumanovo during a fight with a representative of the governing coalition. Other violent incidents were reported in the villages of Morane and Velesta. Meanwhile, various parties have accused one another of violating electoral rules that forbid campaigning on election day. VG TWO OPPOSITION PARTIES WITHDRAW FROM ANTI-MILOSEVIC STREET PROTESTS. Opposition leaders Mile Isakov and Nenad Canak on 29 October announced their intention to withdraw from daily street protests against Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic, Reuters reported. Isakov said the daily protests are wasting energy without providing a "plan." Canak added that the opposition should search for other ways of opposing Milosevic. "The point is not to hold rallies but to participate in the toppling of Milosevic's regime," he said. VG SOME 10,000 ATTEND ANTI-MILOSEVIC DEMONSTRATION IN CACAK. About 10,000 people protested against Milosevic in the town of Cacak on 29 October. Cacak is considered to be an opposition stronghold and the turnout was regarded as relatively high amid dwindling attendance at opposition rallies in other cities. Some key opposition leaders, including Zoran Djindjic, addressed the rally. VG YUGOSLAV OPPOSITION REPRESENTATIVES FLY TO U.S. A group of Yugoslav opposition leaders flew to Washington, D.C., in a bid to convince Bill Clinton's administration to ease economic sanctions against the country. Slobodan Vuksanovic, the deputy head of the opposition Democratic Party, said the U.S. should "establish a distinction between Milosevic's regime and the citizens," AP reported. VG NATO COMMANDER CONDEMNS ATTACK ON SERBIAN CONVOY. NATO's commander in Kosova, General Klaus Reinhardt, said on 30 October he is "furious" at a recent attack by some 1,500 ethnic Albanians on a convoy of 155 Serbs (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 29 October 1999). Reinhardt said he believes the attack was spontaneous and noted that measures are being taken to increase the security of ethnic Serbs in Kosova. VG ETHNIC CROATS EVACUATED FROM KOSOVA. Almost 300 ethnic Croats have been evacuated from Kosova to Zagreb, AP reported on 31 October. The ethnic Croats say they had suffered harassment in Kosova. VG MONTENEGRO TO START USING GERMAN MARK. Montenegrin Deputy Prime Minister Novak Kilibarda on 1 November confirmed reports that Montenegro would introduce the German mark as its second currency on 2 November. "Vjesti" had reported that Montenegrins would start receiving their salaries and pensions on that day. The change is viewed as a first step toward the introduction of a separate Montenegrin currency (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 29 October 1999). The decision must still be formally approved by the Montenegrin parliament. Yugoslav officials on 29 October had dismissed Montenegro's stated aim to introduce its own currency. VG BOSNIAN CROAT WAR CRIMES SUSPECT REFUSING TREATMENT. Mladen Naletilic is rejecting any further treatment at a Zagreb hospital following recent heart surgery, AP reported. Doctors at the hospital say Naletilic's heart surgery was a success but added that another operation is urgently needed. Naletilic has been indicted on 17 counts of war crimes during the 1992-1995 war in Bosnia-Herzegovina. Doctors have assigned him to a psychological team, hoping that it will persuade him to undergo more surgery. The war crimes tribunal in The Hague on 28 October accused the Croatian government of stalling in handing over Naletilic as well as documents to be used as evidence in the case. The international community view the Naletilic case as a litmus test of Croatia's willingness to cooperate with the tribunal. VG INVESTIGATION CONTINUES INTO CAR BOMB ATTACK ON BOSNIAN SERB JOURNALIST. Bosnian Serb journalist and publisher Zeljko Kopanja has had both his legs amputated after being seriously injured in a car bomb explosion on 22 October (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 22 October 1999), AP reported on 29 October. Experts from the UN international police force in Bosnia- Herzegovina have reportedly recommended that the wrecked car be investigated by Scotland Yard. Kopanja's newspaper "Nezavisne Novine" recently ran a series of articles on war criminals. Several newspapers and magazines from the Serbian as well as Muslim and Croatian parts of the country have run front-page headlines demanding an investigation into the assassination attempt. VG GERMAN CHANCELLOR PRAISES LEADERSHIP OF JOINT PRESIDENCY IN BOSNIA-HERZEGOVINA. Gerhard Schroeder on 29 October said he is pleased to find "common views" among the visiting members of the joint presidency of Bosnia-Herzegovina, dpa reported. He said the three leaders, Ante Jelavic, Alija Izetbegovic, and Zivko Radisic, expressed a strong desire for their country to be admitted to the Council of Europe. The German leader noted that Bosnia will have to undertake reforms before being admitted to the organization. VG NUMBER OF U.S. TROOPS IN BOSNIA-HERZEGOVINA TO BE REDUCED. NATO officials announced on 30 October that the number of U.S. troops taking part in the NATO-led peacekeeping force in Bosnia-Herzegovina will be reduced by 30 percent by next April. Major General James Campbell, commander of Multinational Division North, said the cut is part of an overall NATO plan to reduce the number of troops in the country, resulting from an improvement in local security conditions. VG CROATIAN LAWMAKERS PASS ELECTION LAW. The lower house of the Croatian legislature on 29 October passed a controversial new election law, Reuters reported. The law, which was proposed by the governing Croatian Democratic Community (HDZ), guarantees representation to the diaspora in December's parliamentary elections (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 27 October 1999). Croats living abroad tend to be pro-HDZ. The EU has criticized the law, saying it "calls into question the government's commitment to free and fair elections." VG NEW ALBANIAN CABINET SWORN IN. Key figures from the previous government have retained their posts in the cabinet of newly appointed Prime Minister Ilir Meta, which was sworn into office on 29 October. The defense, interior, foreign affairs, and finance ministers of the previous cabinet have all retained their posts. The newcomers include Deputy Prime Minister Makbule Ceco, Kastriot Islami as minister of economic cooperation, Bashkim Fino as minister of local government, and State Minister Prec Zogaj, AP reported. Meta said his government will focus on restoring public order, fighting illegal drug trafficking, and economic development (see also "End Note"). VG EU COMMISSIONER PROPOSES MONITORING OF ROMANIA'S ECONOMIC PERFORMANCE. Guenter Verheugen, EU commissioner in charge of enlargement, has sent a letter to Prime Minister Radu Vasile proposing that the IMF, the World Bank and the EU draft a medium-term strategy for economic development and set up a body to monitor the plan's implementation, Romanian media reported on 31 October. Vasile has not responded to the proposal, but Deputy Premier Vasile Stoica rejected it, saying that the monitoring of Romania's economic performance would make sense only after the IMF approves the disbursement of the second tranche of the $547 million stand-by loan approved in August. IMF official Thomas Dowson was quoted by Romanian Radio as refusing to confirm reports that the fund is ready to agree that Romania borrow $100 million on the international financial market to cover its budget deficit. Earlier, it had insisted that the country borrow $470 million for that purpose. MS ANOTHER ANTONESCU STATUE TO BE ERECTED IN ROMANIA. The Cluj local council has approved Mayor Gheorghe Funar's proposal that a statue to Romania's wartime leader and convicted war criminal, Marshal Ion Antonescu be erected, "Romania libera" reported on 1 November. On 11 previous occasions, the council has rejected such a proposal. Its change of mind comes after Funar presented a "political compromise" whereby statues of National Liberal Party leader Ion C. Bratianu, National Peasant Party leader Iuliu Maniu, and King Ferdinand will also be erected. The compromise proposal was backed by representatives of two parties on the local council and opposed only by the Hungarian Democratic Federation of Romania and the Alliance for Romania. On 30 October, Greater Romania Party leader Corneliu Vadim Tudor laid a wreath at Antonescu's statue in Slobozia. MS GAZPROM CUTS ENERGY SUPPLIES TO MOLDOVA. As of 1 November, Gazprom will cut its energy supplies to Moldova by 40 percent, Infotag reported on 29 October. The same day, Gazprom Deputy Chairmen Aleksander Pushkin and Vasilii Fadeev handed over to Moldovan government representatives a letter from Gazprom Chairman Rem Vyakhirev saying that Moldova has failed to pay on time for current gas deliveries and reduce its outstanding debt. Fadeev said that negotiations are under way on restructuring the Moldovan debt, which Moldovan officials say now totals $489 million. Of that sum, $310 million is owed by Tiraspol. An additional $277 million is due in fines for overdue payments. Flux reported that energy supplies from Romania and Ukraine will be diverted to Chisinau to avoid plunging the capital into darkness but that this will cause serious problems in the countryside. MS BULGARIAN GOVERNMENT APPROVES DRAFT BUDGET. The government on 28 October approved a draft 2000 budget providing for 4 percent GDP growth, a deficit equal to 2.3 percent of GDP, and an annual inflation rate of 2.8 percent, BTA reported. Finance Minister Muravei Radev said that 15,000 people employed in the government administration will be laid off in 2000 to reduce budget expenditures. Wages in the public sector are to increase by 5 percent, while the minimum wage will increase by 8 percent and pensions by 13 percent. MS BULGARIAN TURKISH PARTY BOYCOTTS MAYORAL INAUGURATION. The Movement for Rights and Freedoms (DPS) on 29 October boycotted the opening session of the newly elected local council in Kurdzhali, BTA and AP reported. The DPS claims 3,000 ballots were incorrectly declared invalid by the electoral commission. It has appealed to the local court to order a recount. The DPS lost its majority on the local council and also lost the town's mayoralty to a candidate representing the ruling Union of Democratic Forces. On 29 October, Prime Minister Ivan Kostov denied in the parliament that he called the DPS "a curse for Bulgaria." MS END NOTE ALBANIA'S PRIME MINISTER CALLS IT QUITS by Fabian Schmidt Prime Minister Pandeli Majko announced his resignation on 26 October. His successor, Ilir Meta, is likely to continue his reformist policies but will be in a more vulnerable position, facing interference by influential Socialist Party leader and former Prime Minister Fatos Nano. In resigning, Majko drew the consequences of his defeat in the vote for Socialist Party leader at a congress in early October. His rival, Nano, beat him by a small margin in that ballot. Majko's resignation nonetheless came as a surprise, since he initially had pledged to continue as premier, despite his defeat in the party leadership vote. He had argued that he still enjoys considerable support from within the party and especially among Socialist legislators. But during the days that followed, Nano increased pressure on Majko, whom he had harshly attacked in the past for his conciliatory political approach. Nano, along with Democratic leader Sali Berisha, carries the most responsibility for the polarization of political life between the Socialists and Democrats. Not surprisingly, he is considerably less willing than Majko to cooperate with the Democrats and has repeatedly criticized Majko for maintaining contacts with opposition politicians. Majko's approach, however, appealed to many voters who are sick of the polarization that has dominated Albanian politics throughout most of the 1990s. After the congress, Nano challenged the election of 36 members of the 116-strong Steering Committee, most of them Majko supporters, because they received less than 50 percent of the vote. Under party statutes, all members of the Steering Committee must be elected with more than 50 percent of the vote. Nonetheless, many Albanian political observers and journalists regarded Nano's initiative as an attempt to remove Majko's supporters from the committee and to strengthen his position vis-a-vis the government. Some observers pointed out that Nano did not call run-off votes at party congresses in 1992 and 1996, when he was firmly in charge and the candidates were all loyal to him Subsequently, Majko and another 66 members of the Steering Committee boycotted the ballot on 22 October in Tirana, arguing that Nano was aiming to change the balance of power in the committee. In the end, 73 percent of the deputies to the congress took part in the run-off vote, indicating that Nano remains able to mobilize large parts of the party's rank-and-file. The "Albanian Daily News" noted that "the session showed the undisputed authority of Nano in the party." By the same token, the session showed that the position of the 31-year-old former prime minister remains precarious among his fellow Socialists. Nano failed, however, to get his loyalists elected at the expense of Majko's. The delegates approved the controversial election of the 36 in a vote that appears to have been a compromise between Majko's backers and Nano's supporters. Delegates seemed to have realized that the two rival wings need each other. While Nano's supporters within the party are more numerous than Majko's, the latter's appeal to the public is stronger than that of the combative Nano. Majko, nonetheless, realized that his ability to make policy beyond the reach of the powerful Nano had been considerably limited as a result of the congress and therefore opted to resign. Majko's resignation, however, does not mean that the conservative wing of the Socialist Party has taken over the government. "Koha Ditore" on 27 October noted that new Premier Meta is clearly from Majko's reformist wing within the party. Meta was deputy prime minister under Majko and is also the head of the Socialist Youth Forum, known as the Eurosocialists. But he will have a more difficult task ahead of him than did Majko before the party congress. Nano is now clearly the most powerful party leader and is likely to repeatedly challenge the government on general policy questions. The resignation of Majko marks the third major government reshuffle since the Socialists came to power in 1997. The opposition is likely to revive its calls for new elections, but the Socialists are unlikely to agree to an early vote, fearing this would severely hamper the government's reform plans shortly after the Kosova war and possibly reduce their two-thirds majority in the parliament. Meta will now have to prove that he can continue the work of the government without becoming involved in politically motivated disruptions. xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx Copyright (c) 1999 RFE/RL, Inc. 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