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East: Transition Nations Press Review

  • Don Hill



Prague, 23 March 1999 (RFE/RL) -- Lively internal criticism runs like a thread through recent excerpts from the press of the transition nations.

CZECH REPUBLIC

MLADA FRONTA DNES: Debate on deputy chairmen legitimate

In the Czech Republic, Mlada Fronta Dnes commentator Jiri Leschtina writes that a party rival of Prime Minister Milos Zeman is challenging Zeman on what the newspaper calls the "inflated bureaucratic model" he has created. Leschtina writes: "It was Zeman himself who insisted on creating the posts of deputy chairmen not burdened with any real responsibilities. Therefore, the appeal by his party rival, Stanislav Gross, for a debate on whether the posts of deputy chairmen without portfolio should be abolished is quite legitimate."

LIDOVE NOVINY: Opposition parties must respect changes in the constitution

Lidove Noviny says in an editorial that Czech politicians must surrender the notion that the Czech Republic can remain solidly sovereign and still surrender some sovereignty to the European Union. The newspaper says: "The sentence in the Czech constitution that the Czech Republic is a sovereign and democratic state with the rule of law is probably a formal obstacle obstructing entry into the European Union."

The editorial says: "The Social Democrats' proposal to delete the word sovereign touched off dramatic opposition by the Civic Democratic Party (ODS) and the Freedom Union." Lidove Noviny said other countries have had to revise their constitutions so that EU law can supersede domestic law. The newspaper says: "If the two opposition parties do not want to respect this, their manifestos should not include anything about the Czech Republic's EU entry."

POLAND

RZECZPOSPOLITA: Minorities rights must be upheld

In Poland, the daily Rzeczpospolita calls for adoption of a bill of rights for minorities. The newspaper comments: "Approval of (minorities' rights) to use their national languages and (to observe their own traditions) can only strengthen the ties of the minorities with Poland."

Rzeczpospolita says: "Poland has been a motherland for centuries not only for Poles but also for Ukrainians, Lithuanians, Belarussians, Germans, Jews, Tatars and Armenians. Each of these contributed considerably to Polish history and culture."

SLOVAKIA

SLOVENSKA REPUBLIKA: The government has created a new center of totalitarianism

In Slovakia, the daily Slovenska Republika -- which supports the HZDS party of former Prime Minister Vladimir Meciar -- denounces the current government's proposal to reduce state subsidies for the Slovak culture organization Matica Slovenska, which had become a center for Slovak ultra-nationalism under Meciar's government. Slovenska Republika says: "My Slovak nation! You find yourself amidst a new center of totalitarianism." The paper continues: "The police state attacks the essence of nationhood by spitting on the sacred foundations of democracy, by violating laws, in this case, by not respecting the law on Matica Slovenska."

Slovenska Republika calls a proposed 36 percent reduction of Matica Slovenska's state subsidy "a liquidation budget" and says that attacks on Matica "always come hand in hand with outbursts of well-developed totalitarianism."

BULGARIA

SEGA: We must turn to the rules of the real market

In Bulgaria, commentator Koljo Paramov writes in Sega daily that the government's half-steps toward a market economy have failed just as socialism did. He writes: "The situation in the Bulgarian economy in the spring of 1999 is surprisingly almost the same as in the spring of 1989 (when) the experiment with socialism collapsed. What is coming to an end in 1999 is the big experiment called Bulgaria -- 'big' because it has lasted long enough, 'Bulgaria' because it concerns all of us, 'experiment' because we have tried just about everything. Our country remains without economic power because of this experiment."

The commentary continues: "Now we realize that the model is not working. We dont have money and cant escape the reality. We must turn to the rules of the real market."

PARI: What is needed is a will for a change

Former President Zhelju Zhelev contributes this commentary to Pari daily: "I was unpleasantly surprised that (Prime Minister Ivan Kostov) wants to put the blame on Europe (for Bulgaria's failure to win an invitation to join the EU). Of course, Bulgaria has to defend its national interests. Our country should not behave like a beggar at the door of Europe. But if you read (Kostov's recent) interview, you have the feeling its goal was to put the entire blame on Europe. Which is not true. What have we done? Just take a look at our public toilets. What are we expecting? For Europe to come and to clean them up? Look at our roads, which are full of potholes. You dont need big money to get these things fixed. What is needed is a will for a change."

ARMENIA

ARAVOT: Voters do not take interest in the contents of laws

In Armenia, the newspaper Aravot editorializes that Armenian citizens are too provincial in examining the positions of candidates for the National Assembly ahead of elections scheduled for May. The newspaper says: "Our citizens view the National Assembly elections in such a way as if they will be electing local community chiefs who must repair roads, collect garbage on time and distribute humanitarian aid." Aravot continues: "For example, nobody would care about a candidate's pledge to curtail the value-added tax by two percent or increase government expenditure by three percent. Voters do not take interest in which laws one or another candidate promises to have enacted."

RUSSIA

PARLAMENNTSKAYA GAZETA: Adamov celebrated his first anniversary as minister with a large international scandal

In Russia, Parlamenntskaya Gazeta reports that the chief of the Atomic Energy Ministry is selling off Russian nuclear property to low bidders "for a song" in what constitutes an "international scandal." The paper charges that the cost to Russia is greater than a thousand million U.S. dollars.

A commentary by Andrei Sharov in Parlamenntskaya Gazeta says: "While (Prime Minister) Yevgeny Primakov is racking his brain over the problem of squeezing another $4.6 billion out the IMF, certain members of his cabinet are losing a sum equal to one-fourth of the yet-to-be-acquired tranche." The paper blames the Atomic Energy Ministry and ministry chief Yevgeny Adamov. The paper writes: "We told our readers Adamov celebrated his first anniversary as minister with a large international scandal."

LATVIA

DIENA: When will a clear state attitude be formulated toward the events of World War Two?

In Latvia, Diena comments on Latvia's adoption of March 16 as a holiday devoted to recognition of the nation's military veterans. The date is controversial because March 16, 1943, was the day that the Latvian Legion within the German armed forces was founded. Diena says: "Referring to the scandalous character of March 16, a question emerges: When will a clear state attitude be formulated toward the events of World War Two? It is therefore extremely important to emphasize that a major part of Latvian society during the (war) took part in a non-violent resistance movement against both Soviet and also German occupation, promoting the idea of independence restoration."

NEATKARIGA: Every country has its bloody history

On the same topic, the newspaper Neatkariga says: "Every country has its bloody history. Attempts to explain it from Latvia's point of view would require the whole state budget of several years. Therefore, the marking of March 16 as an official holiday was absurd."

ESTONIA

POSTIMEES: It would be a waste of time to nominate Savisaar as a prime minister

In Estonia, Postimees dissects efforts to form a new government following last weekend's elections. The paper says: "It is strange that the Center Party, which criticized reformists and called them their ideological polar opposites, is ready now to form a coalition with them."

Postimees says: "Considering the results of the parliamentary vote, it would be a waste of time to nominate (Center Party leader Edgar) Savisaar as a prime minister candidate. That would only postpone solving the problems that the new government faces."

KYRGYZSTAN

VECHERNY BISHKEKE: Do we need a cabinet of ministers if only one person has the right to make a last and final decision?

In Kyrgyzstan, parliament deputy Daniyar Esenov writes in Vecherny Bishkeke about what he calls "self-delusion" in the high reaches of Kyrgyzstan's government. Usenov says: "We have already become accustomed to statements from the highest tribunes that all kinds of reforms are being advanced. But I see that the living conditions of most Kyrgyzstan citizens have worsened (after) eight years of reforms." He writes: "By now, I consider the agricultural sector has been destroyed completely due to incompetence."

He continues: "Does our tiny country need three high court organizations -- the Court of Arbitration, the Supreme Court and the Constitutional Court? And also a [state] Judicial Department? But there is only one vice prime minister in the cabinet. And do we need a cabinet of ministers if, in any case, only one person has the right to make a last and final decision?"

TATARSTAN

REPUBLIKA TATARSTAN: Tatarstan now has a new opportunity to strengthen its independence from Russia

In Tatarstan, Dina Gelmanova -- writing in Republika Tatarstan -- comments on Tatarstan's need to assert its independence from Russia, its language and the Cyrillic alphabet. She writes: "This must be a general expression of the issue concerning the transition of the Tatar language into the Latin alphabet. This problem was again discussed during parliament hearings in the State Council."

She continues: "Scientists, writers and the public have been discussing this matter starting from 1989. (It must be) acknowledged that Cyrillic does not respond to the sound system of the Tatar language, that it is hard to implement Tatar in its current spelling in computer and information technologies."

She adds: "These are the ideas expressed during the meeting. Tatarstan now has a new opportunity to strengthen its independence from Russia, i.e. from Cyrillic. There are more Tatars living outside Russia than in Russia. They read in the Latin alphabet. And transition into Latin graphics will lead to the uniting of the nation."

(The Transitions Nations Press Review is compiled from contributions from RFE/RL broadcast services.)

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