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Newsline - June 8, 1999




G-8 KOSOVA TALKS DEADLOCKED...

Foreign ministers of the G-8 countries, meeting in Bonn on 7 June, failed to agree on a draft UN Security Council resolution on ending the Kosova crisis. "Izvestiya" reported the next day that Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov "de facto presented NATO with an ultimatum: Until the moment that NATO ends its bombing [of targets in Yugoslavia], Moscow will block the adoption of the Security Council resolution." Unnamed diplomats, however, told AP and dpa that the talks were suspended to allow Ivanov time to consult with Moscow over sticking points. CNN on 8 June quoted unspecified Russian media as reporting that Ivanov tried to meet with President Boris Yeltsin on 7 June but that Yeltsin was "indisposed." A presidential spokesman denied the report. FS

...OVER NATO'S ROLE, CEASE-FIRE TIMING, WAR CRIMES

The unnamed diplomats also told AP in Bonn on 7 June that Russian and Western diplomats disagreed over whether a peace force would be under NATO or UN command and whether its role would be peacekeeping or peace-enforcement. Other points of disagreement included the timing of a cease-fire in relation to the withdrawal of Serbian forces and whether the UN resolution must mention that Yugoslav leaders have been charged with war crimes. FS

YELTSIN WANTS TO CONTINUE NEGOTIATIONS

Russian President Yeltsin told his U.S. counterpart, Bill Clinton, by telephone on 7 June that he will instruct Ivanov to work quickly to resolve the remaining problems, National Security Council spokesman David Leavy told AP in Washington. State Department spokesman James Rubin said the Western allies will not accept a peacekeeping mission under UN control, calling that position "our red line." Meanwhile in Bonn, German Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer said he is "optimistic" that the G-8 foreign ministers will agree to a final text at their meeting on 8 June in Cologne. He stressed that they have already agreed to 17 out of 20 points in the draft. He did not elaborate. Meanwhile, Finnish President Martti Ahtisaari, who is the EU's special envoy to Yugoslavia, arrived in Beijing on 8 June to seek Chinese backing for the resolution. FS

ZYUGANOV WANTS CHERNOMYRDIN SACKED

Russian Communist Party leader Gennadii Zyuganov told Interfax on 7 June that his party is preparing a State Duma resolution urging Yeltsin to sack Viktor Chernomyrdin as his special envoy to Yugoslavia. Zyuganov said that Chernomyrdin "has gone from special representative to special destroyer," claiming that his peace plan will lead to a "further breakup" of Yugoslavia. Meanwhile, Chernomyrdin adviser Valentin Sergeev said in Moscow that "any talk" about the collapse of the talks is "unjustified and counterproductive." Meanwhile, Vladimir Ryzhkov, the head of the Our Home Is Russia (NDR) faction, charged NATO with acting "in a destructive way." He added that as soon as a "political agreement is reached, the [Western] military kill it." Yabloko member Vladimir Lukin, who is chairman of the Duma's International Affairs Committee, similarly charged NATO with being "actively engaged in arm-twisting at the talks," ITAR-TASS reported. FS

PREMIER FAILS TO PERSUADE DUMA LEADERS TO BACK IMF BILLS...

After a meeting between Prime Minister Sergei Stepashin and Duma faction leaders on 7 June, NDR faction leader Ryzhkov told reporters that his faction will not support some of the draft legislation submitted by the government in accordance with its agreement with the IMF. Yabloko leader Grigorii Yavlinskii said his faction "can support a considerable number of the draft laws, but we will not support all draft legislation connected with rise in gasoline and alcohol prices and other such measures." The same day, leader of the largest faction, Communist Party head Zyuganov, said that his group will vote against the bulk of the economic legislation package. Stepashin will address the Duma on 9 June, when it is scheduled to consider a number of tax measures, including a bill that would impose a new tax on gasoline stations (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 7 June 1999). JAC

...THREATENS TO IMPOSE CEILING ON GASOLINE PRICES

According to Russian agencies, Stepashin told Duma leaders that a strict moratorium on further increases in fuel prices and railroad tariffs should be imposed by the end of the year and that companies that raise refined product prices will have their access to export outlets cut off. A number of regions have reported rising gasoline prices (see "RFE/RL Russian Federation Report,"19 May 1999). For example, in the Republic of Bashkortostan, prices of gasoline have risen an average of 7-9 percent since 15 May, Interfax-Eurasia reported on 7 June. JAC

CABINET OFFICIALS DUTIES OUTLINED...

In a series of decrees issued on 8 June, Prime Minister Stepashin detailed the responsibilities of top cabinet officials. First Deputy Prime Minister Nikolai Aksenenko will oversee the so-called "real" sector of the economy, including energy, construction, and transportation, as well as the work of the ministries dealing with anti-monopoly policy, transportation, fuel, and railways. He will also fill in for Stepashin when the latter is absent. First Deputy Prime Minister Viktor Khristenko will manage budget and tax policy and oversee the Ministries of Finance, Economics, State Property, Tax, and Trade, ITAR-TASS reported. Deputy Prime Minister Ilya Klebanov will direct the work of the Ministries for Atomic Energy and Science, Deputy Prime Minister Vladimir Shcherbak the Ministries for Agriculture and Natural Resources, and Deputy Prime Minister Valentina Matvienko, the Ministries for Labor, Health, Education, and Culture. JAC

...AS MISMATCH WITH EXPERIENCE ASSERTED

Prime Minister Stepashin also reappointed Georgii Tal chief of the Federal Bankruptcy Service on 7 June. The next day, President Yeltsin signed a decree creating a new Ministry for Sport and Tourism, ITAR-TASS reported. In its analysis of the cabinet appointments, "Komsomolskaya pravda" noted on 5 June that there is a mismatch between appointees' experience and expertise and their current duties. For example, First Deputy Prime Minister Khristenko, who "is a skillful specialist in budgetary relations with the regions," is in charge of macroeconomics. Mikhail Zadornov, presidential envoy to international financial institutions, is an expert in budgetary affairs, while Finance Minister Mikhail Kasyanov, who oversaw debt negotiations with foreign creditors, will now tackle budgetary matters. JAC

LUZHKOV TO FACE NEW CHALLENGE ON POLITICAL FRONT...

The emergence of former Prime Minister Sergei Kirienko as a possible candidate in the Moscow mayoral elections has added fuel to media speculation that the Kremlin is waging a campaign against Moscow Mayor and likely presidential contender Yurii Luzhkov. On 7 June, Luzhkov responded to Kirienko's critical remarks about the management of Moscow City in an 5 June interview with "Nezavisimaya gazeta" by threatening to sue the former premier for slander. Kirienko said that "it is not customary to talk about how contracts are distributed in Moscow and how effectively the Moscow bureaucracy is working when not even the smallest problem can be resolved without a bribe." According to "Kommersant-Vlast" on 1 June, Kirienko "has been entrusted with the propagandistic element" of revealing Luzhkov's failures as mayor. JAC

...AND ECONOMIC ONE, TOO?

"Kommersant-Vlast" also predicts that those of the "mayor's enemies" with the requisite economic leverage will re-register large taxpayers outside Moscow and increase demands on city agencies to transfer tax monies to the federal government in a more timely fashion. In this way, the city of Moscow, which is facing a crush of payments to foreign creditors, will have to declare a default (see "RFE/RL Russian Federation Report," 5 May 1999). JAC

VOLOSHIN CONFIRMS STEPASHIN'S PRESIDENTIAL AMBITIONS

In an interview with "Izvestiya" on 8 June, chief of the presidential administration Aleksandr Voloshin said that he believes Prime Minister Stepashin is a possible successor to President Yeltsin. "A man who becomes prime minister a year before the elections must have presidential ambitions," Voloshin continued. Voloshin also denied media reports about the alleged influence of Sibneft head Roman Abramovich on Kremlin decisions, saying that Abramovich appears at the Kremlin "very rarely." In an article on 4 June, "Kommersant- Daily" alleged that President Yeltsin's plans for retirement include heading a new federation formed on the basis of Russia and Belarus. JAC

EES PLANNING COMPUTER SHOPPING SPREE BEFORE 2000

Russia's electricity giant, Unified Energy Systems, revealed on 7 June that it needs to replace 15,000-17,000 of its 50,000 computers because of anticipated problems stemming from the so-called millennium computer bug, ITAR-TASS reported. Deputy chairman of the company's board, Aleksandr Remezov, told reporters that the company needs to spend $15 million on the purchase of new computers and new software. As an additional precaution before the new year, the company plans to conduct training sessions at all nuclear power plants to prepare their personnel for possible breakdowns if the Y2K problem is not solved completely. JAC

RUSSIAN, BULGARIAN PREMIERS PRAISE BILATERAL RELATIONS

Following their meeting in Moscow on 7 June, Stepashin and Ivan Kostov told reporters that there are no "political differences" between their two countries, while Stepashin stressed the need to begin implementing "concrete economic projects," Russian agencies reported. Bilateral annual trade has halved during the past three years, plummeting from $2.5 billion to $1.2 billion in 1998, which Kostov, in talks with Russian industrialists, attributed to frequent changes in trade regulations. With regard to Kosova, Stepashin urged Bulgaria to play a more active role in settling the conflict: "You should put things in order in the Balkans on your own," he commented, adding that "this is more efficient and less painful." Among the documents signed during Kostov's visit-- his first to Moscow since becoming premier in 1997--were an intergovernmental agreement on cooperation in the fight against illegal financial transactions and a memorandum on cooperation between the two countries' Justice Ministries. JC

HE WHO GAVE IS TAKING AWAY

U.S. financier George Soros announced on 7 June that he is planning to slash funding for a science education program that issues grants to professors and students at high schools and universities across Russia. He explained that move by saying the Russian government failed to meet its commitment to contribute to financing the program. According to Interfax, Soros is considering a number of new programs in Russia, which is one of the reasons why funding will be cut. Under the new programs, major regional Russian libraries will be automated and a 100-volume edition of the best works of Russian literature published, according to ITAR-TASS. In an interview with "Kommersant-Daily" on 5 June, Nikolai Karpov, a member of the Russian Academy of Sciences, reported that Russia is losing most of its young scientists through emigration to the U.S. and Canada. JAC




ARMENIAN DEFENSE MINISTER TO BE NAMED NEW PREMIER

President Robert Kocharian on 10 June will formally name Vazgen Sargsian to head the new government, RFE/RL's Yerevan bureau reported on 8 June, quoting an unnamed senior government source. Kocharian will sign the appropriate decree immediately following the election at the opening session of the new parliament of the parliamentary speaker. The most likely candidate for that post is former Armenian Communist Party First Secretary Karen Demirchian, who, together with Sargsian, leads the Miasnutyun alliance. The alliance has a majority in the new parliament. LF

ABKHAZ, GEORGIAN DELEGATIONS MEET IN ISTANBUL

Representatives of the government of Georgia and that of the country's breakaway Black Sea region of Abkhazia began consultations in Istanbul on 7 June aimed at kickstarting the deadlocked peace process. Since late last year, the two sides having been trying to reach agreement on two documents, one on the non-resumption of hostilities and the other dealing with both the repatriation to Abkhazia of an estimated 200,000 Georgian displaced persons who fled during the 1992- 1993 war and measures to revive the region's economy. Speaking in Tbilisi on 7 June, Georgian President Eduard Shevardnadze said that if it proves impossible to arrive at a peace settlement through diplomatic means, Tbilisi will consider other, unspecified measures. Abkhaz President Vladislav Ardzinba told the Istanbul meeting that Shevardnadze's comparison between the Abkhaz and Kosova conflicts is inappropriate, given that it was the Georgian army that began the war by invading Abkhazia in 1992. LF

TURKEY GRANTS GEORGIA FUNDS FOR ARMY MODERNIZATION

Major- General Serafetddin Elci, who is head of the Financial Department of the Turkish armed forces General Staff, and Georgian Deputy Defense Minister Grigol Katamadze signed an agreement in Tbilisi on 7 June under which Ankara will grant Georgia $1.7 million in 1999 toward modernizing its armed forces, ITAR-TASS and Caucasus Press reported. Part of those funds will be allocated to the Georgian Frontier Guard Service. Last year, Turkey granted Georgia $5.5 million for defense purposes. Turkey will also assist Georgia in organizing multinational maneuvers in 2001 within the framework of NATO's Partnership for Peace program. LF

PRO-PRESIDENTIAL PARTY CRITICIZES KAZAKH GOVERNMENT

Leading members of the OTAN (Fatherland) party, including parliamentary speaker Marat Ospanov, issued a statement on 7 June castigating the government for failing to protect domestic industry, stem rising unemployment, and pay pensions and social allowances on time, Reuters and Interfax reported. The statement said that as a result of its "incompetent actions," the present government has forfeited public support. It called on parliamentary deputies to vote no confidence in the present cabinet, RFE/RL's Kazakh Service reported. Prime Minister Nurlan Balghymbaev responded by characterizing the problems facing his government as the legacy of the policies pursued by former Premier Sergei Tereschenko, who now heads OTAN. LF

KAZAKHSTAN FACES BUDGET CUTS

Prime Minister Balghymbaev on 7 June presented to the lower house of parliament plans for cutting budget spending in 1999 by more than 18 billion tenge ($151 million), ITAR-TASS and Interfax reported. Revenues are to be revised downward by 11.5 billion tenge. Balghymbaev said that the decrease in revenues is the result of falling exports to the country's most important trading partners, especially Russia, and lower prices for oil and metals on world markets. LF

ANOTHER PROTEST DEMONSTRATION IN KYRGYZSTAN...

Some 50 people picketed the regional administration building in the northern Kyrgyz town of Talas on 7 June to protest deteriorating living conditions and delays in paying wages and pensions, RFE/RL's Bishkek bureau reported. The same day, the lower house of the parliament began considering government-proposed amendments to the Law on Pensions and Social Guarantees, which would double the minimum salary from 100 soms ($2.3) to 200 soms. Deputies rejected that proposal as inadequate, noting that the minimum per capita subsistence level is 950 soms. LF

...AS BISHKEK YOUTH DEMAND OWN PARLIAMENTARY CONSTITUENCY

Meeting on 5 June with President Askar Akaev, representatives of young people engaged in building their own homes on the outskirts of Bishkek suggested creating a new constituency to enable them to vote for a parliamentary deputy to represent their interests, RFE/RL's Bishkek bureau reported. They complained that the district where they live is without roads, running water, electricity, or public transport to the city center. The district is home to some 100,000 young people from rural areas, 80 percent of whom are unemployed. Akaev promised that a government commission will be formed to address the problem. In 1990, homeless residents of Bishkek founded the first informal political organization in the then Kirghiz SSR. LF

TAJIK OPPOSITION SEEKS TO BRIDGE RIFT WITH GOVERNMENT

The United Tajik Opposition will create a working group headed by National Reconciliation Commission member Muhammad Sharif Himmatzoda to discuss conditions for renewing cooperation with the government on implementation of the 1997 peace agreement, Interfax and Reuters reported. UTO leader Said Abdullo Nuri said he anticipates that the working group will make its proposals within five or six days. The opposition suspended its work in the National Reconciliation Commission two weeks ago to protest the government's failure to implement key points of the 1997 peace agreement, including the release of 93 imprisoned opposition fighters and the appointment of opposition nominees to 30 percent of all national and local government posts (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 25 May 1999). LF

TAJIKISTAN, CHINA DISCUSS TRADE, BORDER DEMARCATION

Visiting Dushanbe on 6-7 June, Chinese Deputy Premier Qian Qichen met with Tajik First Deputy Prime Minister Khodja Akbar Turadjonzoda and President Imomali Rakhmonov. The talks focused on measures to expand bilateral trade and economic relations, including Tajikistan's accession to the agreement between China, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, and Pakistan on the transit of goods. They also dealt with outstanding points of disagreement in a draft document demarcating the frontier between the two countries. Rakhmonov and Qian discussed regional security and the situation in Afghanistan, on which their views proved "almost identical," according to presidential spokesman Zafar Saidov. The two sides also signed an intergovernmental agreement whereby China will grant Tajikistan 10 million yuan (about $1.2 million) in humanitarian aid. LF




DRAFT BELARUS-RUSSIA UNION TREATY DOES NOT ENVISION PRESIDENCY

Working commissions have agreed on a final draft of the Belarusian-Russian union treaty, RFE/RL's Belarusian Service reported on 7 June. Alyaksandr Kozyr, head of the International Affairs Commission in the Belarusian Chamber of Representatives, told RFE/RL that the draft treaty stipulates the creation of a "soft confederation," whereby both countries preserve their sovereign state functions and supranational bodies will be of an advisory character. The document does not provide for the posts of president or vice president of the union. Rather, the union is to be governed by a body consisting of the presidents, prime ministers, and parliamentary heads of the two countries. A union parliamentary assembly will be formed from deputies delegated by each parliament. JM

KUCHMA'S RIVAL COMPLAINS OF OBSTACLES IN PRESIDENTIAL CAMPAIGN

Oleksandr Moroz, head of the Ukrainian Socialist Party and a presidential hopeful, has accused the authorities of blocking his presidential campaign, AP reported on 7 June. Moroz said the Central Electoral Committee is refusing to give him forms to collect the required signatures supporting his candidacy. "We are facing a deliberate and planned campaign aimed at preventing my participation in the elections," the agency quoted Moroz as saying. The same day, the Supreme Court began considering Moroz's complaint that he has received only 110,000 forms, instead of the necessary 260,000. "I know that the strategy of Kuchma's present team is to prevent me from registering [as a presidential candidate]," Moroz told the 5 June "Zerkalo nedeli." JM

TURKMENISTAN PRESSES UKRAINE TO REPAY GAS DEBT

Turkmenistan is demanding that Ukraine either pay its debt for gas supplies in 1998, totaling $120 million, or restructure the sum into a "sovereign debt," the "Eastern Economic Daily" reported on 8 June. Turkmen sources estimate that Ukraine's debt for gas supplies in 1999 so far exceeds $300 million, while the total debt for Turkmen gas received by the end of 1998 stands at $450 million. Turkmenistan halted gas supplies to Ukraine last month. JM

ESTONIAN INTERIOR MINISTER CALLS FOR EASING RESIDENCE PERMIT RULES

Juri Mois told U.S. Ambassador to Estonia Melissa Wells on 7 June that the regulations for issuing residence permits should be eased. According to BNS, the minister called for the normalization of the country's demographic situation and a less rigorous permit application process. He also emphasized the need to remove bureaucratic problems in the application process. MH

LATVIAN PARLIAMENT CALLS EXTRAORDINARY SESSION

The Presidium of the Latvian parliament called for an extraordinary session to be held on 16 June to debate the language law. For Fatherland and Freedom (TB), a member of the ruling coalition, sponsored the motion, which was supported by most members of the non-coalition People's Party and some of the Social Democratic Workers' Party, BNS quoted TB deputy Juris Dobelis as saying. The People's Party had originally come up with the idea, which the TB had supported. However, as backing an opposition motion constitutes a violation of the coalition agreement, the TB itself officially introduced the motion. President Guntis Ulmanis appears to support the measure, saying "I think the parliament has all the cards in [its] hands to adopt the law before the summer recess," according to BNS. MH

LITHUANIAN PRESIDENT SIGNS CONTROVERSIAL OIL AMENDMENTS

Valdas Adamkus on 7 June signed the controversial amendments allowing Lithuania to sell the majority stake of its oil industry. The parliament passed the motion after a heated debate. Only the former ruling coalition of the Conservative Party and Christian Democratic Party supported the motion (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 4 June 1999). Opposition politicians called on the president to veto the amendments, saying that otherwise they will challenge them in the Constitutional Court. MH

LITHUANIA TO SUE FOR EMBASSY BUILDINGS?

Lithuanian parliamentary chairman Vytautas Landsbergis has said that the government should sue to reclaim embassy buildings taken over by Russia. The buildings in question, located in Paris and Rome, fell into Soviet hands after the illegal annexation of Lithuania and the other two Baltic States by the USSR. Despite both Italy and France's adhering to the "non- recognition" policy, the embassy buildings were turned over and transformed into Soviet diplomatic buildings. After the collapse of the USSR, Russia "inherited" the buildings. Landsbergis introduced a parliamentary resolution calling for the legal action, according to BNS. MH

POLISH DEPUTY MINISTER RESIGNS BEFORE LUSTRATION VERDICT

Deputy Transport Minister Krzysztof Luks tendered his resignation on 7 June in connection with his lustration statement, which was questioned by the lustration prosecutor, "Gazeta Wyborcza" reported. Luks denied that he had collaborated with communist-era secret services, adding that "he has nothing to reproach himself for and is calmly waiting for a [lustration] court verdict." Luks explained that he resigned in order not to make "any trouble for his party," the Freedom Union. Prime Minister Jerzy Buzek has accepted Luks's resignation. Also on 7 June, Pope John Paul II visited Torun, the birthplace of Nicolaus Copernicus, and praised the astronomer's "On the Movement of Heavenly Bodies." That book was denounced by Vatican in 1616 and removed from the list of forbidden publications only in 1822. JM

CZECH PREMIER WANTS NATO TO PROTECT SERBS FROM 'UCK TERRORISM'

Milos Zeman told journalists in Plzen on 7 June that an international force must enter Kosova "as soon as possible" once Serbian troops leave the province in order to "protect Kosovo Serbs from possible terror by the Kosovo Liberation Army (UCK)." Zeman said no one has yet addressed this problem and that his view of the UCK is "not very kind." "Just as we condemned Serb terrorism against the Kosovo Albanians, there is now a real threat of UCK terror against the local Serbs," CTK quoted him as saying. MS

U.S. EMBASSY CRITICIZES CZECH POLICE FOR POOR PROTECTION

In a statement released on 7 June, the U.S. embassy in Prague said it "regrets" that Czech police were able to intervene only some 30 minutes after demonstrators attacked its building last weekend (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 7 June 1999)," CTK reported. However, the embassy said it was "deeply grateful" to members of police forces who tried to protect the building "at the risk of their health." The statement said that the U.S. "supports freedom of expression in democratic societies" but argued that "mob wild rioting is a perverse abuse" of that freedom. Deputy Foreign Minister Hynek Kmonicek told the U.S. charge d'affaires that his ministry is "sorry" for the attack. Meanwhile, Czech officials said they plan to prosecute 25 people who threw stones that broke the embassy's windows, AP reported. MS

FORMER SIS OFFICIAL RELEASED FROM DETENTION

Jaroslav Svechota, the former Slovak Intelligence Service (SIS) official who confessed to involvement in the abduction of former President Michal Kovac's son (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 4 June 1999), has been released from detention, Interior Minister Ladislav Pittner told CTK on 7 June. Pittner said Svechota "should be pardoned" by Prime Minister Mikulas Dzurinda, who has that prerogative until President-elect Rudolf Schuster is sworn in next week. Pittner also said Svichota has "in a way confirmed" suspicions that former Premier Vladimir Meciar was involved in the abduction. He added that it is not, however, Svichota's testimony but rather that of former SIS chief Ivan Lexa that will be "decisive" in establishing who ordered the kidnapping. Lexa, who is in detention, is denying any involvement and refusing to provide testimony. MS

SLOVAK DEPUTY DISSENTING FROM RULING COALITION

Robert Fico, a parliamentary deputy of the junior coalition Democratic Left Party, says Slovak politicians must spare the public "political circuses" and follow "a policy of bread." In an interview with the Czech daily "Hospodarske noviny" on 7 June, Fico said such "circuses" include the envisaged language law and the scandals surrounding Lexa and former Interior Minister Gustav Krejci. He added that the ruling coalition is showing "arrogance" toward the parliamentary minority and is still using "revenge arguments" in its political discourse. MS

HUNGARY BACKS CONTINUED NATO ACTION IN YUGOSLAVIA

Foreign Ministry State Secretary Zsolt Nemeth told NATO Deputy Secretary-General Klaus-Peter Klaiber in Brussels on 7 June that NATO must push through its Kosova peace plan because Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic has "repeatedly misled the international community in recent years." Nemeth said Hungary has offered to contribute a 260-strong police unit to a possible peacekeeping force in Kosova. In other news, President Arpad Goncz proposed to U.S. Defense Secretary William Cohen during a visit to the Pentagon on 8 June that Budapest become the "center for the reconstruction" of southeastern Europe. MSZ




ALBRIGHT BRINGS KOSOVAR RIVALS TOGETHER

U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright met in Cologne on 8 June with the rival Kosovar leaders Hashim Thaci from the Kosova Liberation Army (UCK), Ibrahim Rugova of the Democratic League of Kosova, and Rexhep Qosja of the United Democratic Movement of Kosova. It was the first meeting between Rugova and the other two Kosovar leaders since the Rambouillet talks in March. Albright said later at a joint press conference with Thaci that "these representatives of the [Kosovar] political leadership have told me without any ambiguity that they will meet the key commitments made at Rambouillet." She added that the four discussed plans to set up a civilian administration in Kosova "under a special representative of UN Secretary- General Kofi Annan," Reuters reported. FS

THACI SAYS UCK WILL NOT ATTACK RETREATING SERBS

Thaci said at the press conference with Albright in Cologne on 8 June that "the UCK very soon will declare that it will refrain from attacking any retreating Serbian forces." Albright confirmed that she received the same message from Thaci during their earlier meeting. Thaci also promised that the UCK will "give up its military functions" once an international peacekeeping force moves into Kosova. Albright said "the [UCK] will demilitarize and enter into a process of transformation [into becoming primarily a political organization. Kosova's] political leaders will, I hope, cooperate to make [Kosova] truly democratic." FS

UNHCR: SITUATION INSIDE KOSOVA DETERIORATING

A spokeswoman for the UNHCR said in Skopje on 8 June that recently arrived refugees report an upsurge in fighting between Serbian forces and the UCK. She did not say where the refugees have come from. The spokeswoman added: "We are getting stories of people being bused repeatedly to the border only to be turned around and sent back where they came from. Many, many people trying to get out are being prevented by Serb authorities and by the increased fighting," Reuters reported. PM

SERBIAN POLICE INTRODUCE NEW TORTURE REGIMEN

In Kukes, recently arrived refugees told aid workers that Serbian police "have come up with a new mix of brutality and bureaucracy" to torture Kosovar males in Mitrovica prison, Reuters reported on 8 June. Police "call in Serbian boys as young as 12 years old to beat and humiliate [Kosovars] for five days before dumping them at the border with Albania." The police also force the Kosovars to sign statements in which they "confess" to being terrorists, "as if [the police] could one day use these documents to keep [the Kosovars] from ever returning home," the news agency continued. Aid workers said that they have no idea why the Serbian police have introduced this program of "sadism sealed with red tape." Some recently arrived refugees added that new prisoners arrive at Mitrovica as soon as others are released. PM

BELGRADE WANTS TO MONITOR RETURNEES

A Foreign Ministry spokesman said in Belgrade on 8 June that Serbian border police and customs officials must remain in Kosova in order to ensure that only legitimate refugees come back once a peace settlement is concluded. He stressed that the Serbian authorities must keep out "people from Albania proper...including those separatists and terrorists who are active over there and will come and start chasing Serbs," Reuters reported. PM

SERBIAN FORCES SHELL MACEDONIAN VILLAGE

Some 30 mortar shells hit the ethnic Albanian village of Jazince on the border with Kosova in northwestern Macedonia on 7 June, Reuters reported. Some buildings were damaged but no one was injured. One local man told reporters that the Serbian forces "like to play games with us, to kill Albanians." In recent weeks, many Kosovars have illegally crossed into Macedonia in the Jazince area. In Taipei the following day, Prime Minister Ljubco Georgievski played down the shelling incident, adding "this is the first time [Serbian forces have shelled a Macedonian village].... I believe this is no big threat to our national security because there are 16,000 NATO soldiers to help keep stability in Macedonia and the number will increase in the near future." PM

SERBIAN ARTILLERY HITS TARGETS DEEP INSIDE ALBANIA

Serbian forces fired seven artillery shells about 25 kilometers into northern Albania on 8 June, an OSCE spokesman told Reuters. The shells hit a village near Bajram Curri, but no casualties were reported. The previous day, two U.S. B-52 aircraft bombed Serbian artillery positions inside Kosova after the artillery fired numerous shells into Albania. FS

ALBANIA'S MEIDANI URGES NATO TO CONTINUE BOMBING

President Rexhep Meidani on 7 June urged NATO to intensify its bombing campaign and force Milosevic to implement the peace agreement. Meidani argued that "this language is the only language...Milosevic's regime understands." He told Reuters that the failure of the Kumanovo talks between NATO and Yugoslav generals was "predictable" and that it is likely that further meetings will also produce nothing. Foreign Ministry spokesman Sokol Gjoka told an RFE/RL correspondent that "this is not the first time that the Belgrade government has tried to back out of agreements it signed earlier under pressure of the international community." He added that Milosevic "is trying to gain time and carry out his [war] aims." FS

MONTENEGRO SEEKS TO BAR RETREATING SERBIAN FORCES

An unnamed "senior government figure" told Reuters in Podgorica on 7 June that the Montenegrin authorities have "asked NATO not to allow Serbian forces [leaving Kosova] to come through here. There is no need for that--they can go directly to Serbia without setting foot here." The Montenegrin authorities have frequently said that they fear that Milosevic will try to stage a coup in order to take control of their mountainous republic. PM

THREAT TO MILOSEVIC 'FROM THE BOTTOM'?

Neither the politically "servile" army leadership nor the divided opposition constitutes the chief political threat to Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic, the "Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung" wrote on 8 June. If there is any serious challenge to the Yugoslav leader from inside the political establishment, it comes from Montenegrin President Milo Djukanovic, the daily continued. The principal threat to Milosevic comes "from below," namely from ordinary soldiers who have deserted their units in Kosova and from ordinary citizens who have come to realize that 12 years of Milosevic's rule have meant four lost wars and much destruction. The newspaper notes that Milosevic's hold on the provinces has weakened over the years, and that most small- and medium-sized cities are governed by the opposition. PM

SOUTH AFRICA: MILOSEVIC 'NOT WELCOME'

Officials of the South African Foreign Ministry have informed the Yugoslav embassy in Pretoria and the domestic press that Milosevic "will not be welcome" at the inauguration of President Thabo Mbeki, which is slated for 16 June. The South African officials noted that the government is legally obliged to arrest Milosevic and deport him to The Netherlands because the Hague-based war crimes tribunal recently indicted him, the "Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung" noted on 8 June. In London, "The Sunday Times" recently reported that Milosevic's son Mirko has transferred nearly $3 million to bank accounts in South Africa in preparation for a move by the Milosevic family to that country. Observers note that Serbian business interests in South Africa have grown in recent years. PM

BOSNIAN SERB WAR CRIMES SUSPECT FLOWN TO HAGUE

NATO peacekeepers arrested Dragan Kulundzija near Prijedor on 7 June and sent him to The Hague. The war crimes tribunal indicted him in 1995 for having allegedly killed, tortured, or sexually abused Muslim and Croatian prisoners while he was a commander at the Keraterm concentration camp in 1992. Kulundzija is also charged with "unlawfully seizing and imprisoning" people and holding them under "inhumane conditions." PM

MUSLIMS, SERBS ELECT GOVERNING BODY IN SREBRENICA

The 42- member Srebrenica town council elected a government consisting of nine Muslims, nine Serbs, and a Muslim chairman on 7 June, Reuters reported. Ambassador Robert Barry, who heads the OSCE's mission to Bosnia, called Srebrenica "perhaps the most symbolically important town" in that state. He added that "if reconciliation can occur here in Srebrenica, it can occur anywhere in Bosnia." Bosnian Serb forces seized Srebrenica in 1995 and subsequently killed possibly up to 7,000 of its Muslim inhabitants, primarily males. The killings have been widely described as the largest single atrocity in Europe since the end of World War II. Srebrenica is now located in the Republika Srpska. Former residents living in various parts of Bosnia elected the current town council in 1997. The 24 council members who are Muslims continue to live in Muslim-held territory. PM

ROMANIAN COURT REHABILITATES FORMER TOP COMMUNIST SPY

The Supreme Court on 7 June quashed two death sentences handed down to Lieutenant-General Ion Mihai Pacepa, former deputy chief of the communist secret police's Foreign Intelligence Department. Pacepa was sentenced by a military tribunal after his defection to the U.S. in 1978. The sentences had been appealed by the Prosecutor-General's Office on grounds of "inconclusive evidence." Pacepa's lawyer told the court that his client had been sentenced for "high treason" while he had "only betrayed the secrets of the Ceausescu clan, which was at the helm of the country at the time," RFE/RL's Bucharest bureau reported. Observers say the annulment of the sentences is part of Romania's effort to improve its chances of being admitted to NATO. MS

ALBRIGHT POSTPONES ROMANIAN VISIT

A Foreign Ministry spokesman on 7 June said U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright has postponed a short visit planned for the next day because of the Kosova crisis. Also on 7 June, President Emil Constantinescu discussed with Prime Minister Radu Vasile Romania's participation in the reconstruction of Yugoslavia. Constantinescu recently said Romania could help with exports of cement, metallurgical products, and electricity, whose supply exceeds demand on the Romanian market. MS

PRELIMINARY RESULTS OF MOLDOVAN LOCAL ELECTIONS RUN-OFFS RELEASED

The Central Electoral Commission on 7 June announced that the preliminary results of the local election run-offs held one day earlier show that independent candidates are leading the field in mayoral races, having gained 19.1 percent. Of the political parties taking part in the election, the Bloc of Communists, Agrarians, and Socialists led the field with 12.1 percent, followed by the Democratic Convention of Moldova (7.3 percent), the Centrist Alliance (9.4 percent ) and the Party of Democratic Forces (5.1 percent). All other political formations scored 2 percent or less. MS

MOLDOVAN PRESIDENT RESPONDS TO PARLIAMENTARY RESOLUTION

Presidential spokesman Anatol Golea told journalists on 7 June that President Petru Lucinschi views the parliamentary resolution accusing him of breaching the constitution as "an attempt to exercise pressure on the Constitutional Court" (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 7 June 1999). The court has yet to rule on the legality of the 23 May non-binding referendum. In other news, Flux reported that Ukraine will not renew electricity supplies to Moldova as long as the government in Chisinau persists in refusing to offer state guarantees that it will pay off its $16.2 million debt by the end of 1999. Citing a government official in charge of energy supplies, the agency said that since Romania and the Transdniester are unable to cover Moldova's consumption needs, electricity shortages are likely to continue. MS




NATO WANTS MORE THAN WORDS FROM HUNGARY


by Michael J. Jordan

Ask the average Hungarian about history, and he'll likely recount the centuries of suffering at the hands of foreign invaders. Thus when Hungary joined NATO on 12 March, it seemed motivated less by the desire to join the "winning" side of the Cold War than by the wish for a future of guaranteed security.

It was cruel irony when on 24 March, just 12 days after Hungary's induction, NATO launched its first air strikes against Yugoslavia. Hungary was de facto at war with its southern neighbor. More than two months later, the Hungarians, to their consternation, find themselves being dragged deeper into the war. While the public generally supports the NATO air campaign and the free use of Hungarian air space, recent opinion polls show a solid two-thirds of the public opposes any attack from Hungarian soil. An even larger number resist the possible use of Hungarian troops in either a ground offensive or peacekeeping mission.

But the public outcry falls on deaf ears in Brussels and Washington. With NATO prodding Hungary to meet its alliance obligations, while dangling the carrot of a significant role in post-war reconstruction of the Balkans - the Hungarian leadership consented to the first launch of fighter aircraft from Hungarian air bases. Last month, 20 of 24 U.S. Marine F/A-18 Hornets arrived in southern Hungary. Equipped with laser-guided bombs, the Hornets began flying combat missions on 28 May.

Turkey, another NATO member, was more enthusiastic about granting access to its bases last month. If no peace agreement is forthcoming, missions from there may begin this month, although Turkish aircraft are already flying missions out of Italy. These are the latest steps in what NATO officials describe as an intensified assault on the regime of Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic. Hungarians officials are lending their support to the stepped-up air campaign. "This is exactly the kind of NATO we wanted to join 10 years ago, one that stands for a certain set of values," said Foreign Minister Janos Martonyi, as he inspected the F-18s last month. "And now, NATO is fighting to defend those values."

Meanwhile, the mood among Hungarians has turned fatalistic. This is especially evident in Taszar, the small village adjacent to the air base where the NATO aircraft are stationed. The base has also served as the staging ground for NATO's peacekeeping mission in Bosnia since late 1995. "We never wanted them here, but nobody asks what the simple people want," says retired truck driver Laszlo Kalmar, as an F-18 roars overhead. "More and more people around here are talking about World War III."

While Mr. Kalmar and others in Taszar fear they may now be targets for Yugoslav missiles, there is no denying the strategic value of Hungary in NATO's military operation. Hungary is the only NATO member that borders Yugoslavia (it is, in fact, an island within the alliance in that it borders no other NATO state). Its proximity to Belgrade, the Yugoslav capital (100 miles away), and other key cities makes NATO aircraft in Hungary more "deployable" if quick action were needed. And were NATO to invade with ground forces, the flat terrain and short distance between Hungary and Belgrade is vastly more appealing than the rugged mountains that separate Kosova from both Macedonia and Albania.

For now, at least, Hungary will host only aircraft. Taszar is also awaiting as many as 18 A-10 Warthog aircraft, "tankbusters" that could do low-flying dirty work against Serbian forces on the ground in Kosova. These would be used instead of the 22 Apache attack helicopters now based in Albania, which U.S. President Bill Clinton recently described as too "risky" to use against the Serbs.

NATO officials say the launch of combat missions from Hungary and Turkey would serve two purposes: it relieves the workload at NATO's base in Aviano, Italy, and opens up two new fronts against Milosevic.

Elsewhere, NATO aspirants Romania and Bulgaria, both next door to Yugoslavia, are allowing free use of their air space. But Greece, which sympathizes with its Orthodox Christian brethren, the Serbs, has been the only NATO member to refuse use of its air space. Hungary has signed on, but with deep reservations about how that move will affect the 350,000 ethnic Hungarians living in Vojvodina, the northern province of Yugoslavia that was Hungarian territory until a post-World War I treaty.

Vojvodina may indeed become a more central issue as the search for a settlement to the Kosova conflict continues. Both Vojvodina and Kosova had autonomy within the old Yugoslavia until Milosevic abolished it in 1989. Hungarians on either side of the border fear that if a peace resolution for Kosova fails to address Vojvodina's status, as the Dayton peace deal in 1995 failed to address Kosova, the seeds may be sown for a future Balkan conflict.

If anything, recent comments by right-wing Hungarian politicians have only inflamed the situation. One ultra- nationalist lawmaker, Istvan Csurka, pushes for Hungary to protect the Hungarian minority with a border "revision" that would annex parts of Vojvodina. And Zsolt Lanyi, the chairman of the parliament's Defense Committee, went so far as to suggest "statehood" for both Vojvodina and Kosova.

Many observers denounced the statements. "It is untimely," said Gernot Erler, deputy parliamentary leader of Germany's ruling Social Democratic Party, "because it reinforces the Serbian nationalist belief that the world cooperates in order to disintegrate Yugoslavia." The author is a Budapest-based freelance journalist (michaeljjordan@csi.com).


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