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RFE/RL Newsline, Vol. 3, No. 164, 99-08-24

Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty: Newsline Directory - Previous Article - Next Article

From: Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty <http://www.rferl.org>

RFE/RL NEWSLINE

Vol. 3, No. 164, 24 August 1999


CONTENTS

[A] TRANSCAUCASUS AND CENTRAL ASIA

  • [01] GEORGIAN, RUSSIAN DEFENSE MINISTERS MEET
  • [02] KAZAKH PRESIDENT MEETS WITH SOUTH KOREAN, JAPANESE DIPLOMATS
  • [03] TOP OIL OFFICIAL FIRED IN KAZAKHSTAN
  • [04] KYRGYZ DEFENSE MINISTER SACKED AS TROOPS BATTLE GUERRILLAS
  • [05] KYRGYZ NEWSPAPER EDITOR ARRESTED
  • [06] TAJIKISTAN HOSTS FRUITLESS AFGHAN TALKS
  • [07] UZBEKISTAN RELEASES JAILED CHRISTIANS
  • [08] HOSTAGES TAKEN, RELEASED IN UZBEKISTAN

  • [B] SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE

  • [09] RUSSIAN-ALBANIAN STANDOFF CONTINUES IN RAHOVEC
  • [10] KFOR'S JACKSON BACKS RUSSIANS...
  • [11] ...CONFIRMS UCK DEMILITARIZATION ON SCHEDULE
  • [12] SERBIAN WAR CRIMES SUSPECTS TO BE TRIED IN PRIZREN
  • [13] DID SERBIAN FORCES USE SARIN GAS IN KOSOVA?
  • [14] ANNAN APPOINTS NEW DEPUTY SPECIAL REPRESENTATIVE FOR
  • [15] MAJKO WANTS ALBANIANS TO MAKE DONATIONS FOR KOSOVA-
  • [16] DJINDJIC SAYS MILOSEVIC RULE WILL LEAD TO CHAOS
  • [17] ARE SOME MILOSEVIC BACKERS ABANDONING HIM?
  • [18] UN EXPERTS CAUTIOUS ON SERBIAN CHARGES OF ENVIRONMENTAL
  • [19] PRESUMED SREBRENICA VICTIMS EXHUMED FROM MASS GRAVE
  • [20] CROATIAN MINISTER TELLS VETERANS NOT TO MAKE POLICY
  • [21] ROMANIAN PREMIER WARNS PARLIAMENTARY DEPUTIES...
  • [22] ...DISMISSES RUMORS ON QUITTING
  • [23] ROMANIA TO CHANGE TAXATION SYSTEM
  • [24] RUN-OFF IN GAGAUZ-YERI ELECTIONS
  • [25] MOLDOVAN PRESIDENT READY TO COMPROMISE ON PRESIDENTIAL

  • [C] END NOTE

  • [26] WHEN FOUR TIMES FIVE MIGHT EQUAL ZERO

  • [A] TRANSCAUCASUS AND CENTRAL ASIA

    [01] GEORGIAN, RUSSIAN DEFENSE MINISTERS MEET

    David Tevzadze held

    "consultative" talks in Moscow on 23 August with his Russian

    counterpart, Igor Sergeev, Russian agencies reported. The

    main topics of discussion were bilateral cooperation, the

    Russian peacekeeping force deployed in Abkhazia under a CIS

    mandate, and the future of the four Russian military bases in

    Georgia. Georgian parliamentary deputies have repeatedly

    demanded the closure of two of those facilities. A further

    bone of contention between the two sides are the conditions

    for Moscow's return to Georgian jurisdiction of 44 buildings

    previously used by Russian troops (see "RFE/RL Caucasus

    Report," Vol. 2, No. 25, 25 June 1999). LF

    [02] KAZAKH PRESIDENT MEETS WITH SOUTH KOREAN, JAPANESE DIPLOMATS

    Nursultan Nazarbaev met with South Korea's ambassador Lee Yen

    Minh in Astana on 23 August to discuss bilateral trade and

    economic ties, RFE/RL's Kazakh Service reported. It is

    unclear whether the alleged sale by Kazakhstan of MiGs to

    North Korea was also on the agenda. Nazarbaev held talks the

    same day with visiting senior Japanese diplomat Takemi Keizo

    on the ecological situation at the former nuclear testing

    ground at Semipalatinsk, RFE/RL's Kazakh Service reported.

    Japan is a major participant in a UN-funded program to clean

    up the territory adjacent to the site and will host an

    international conference on that problem next month. LF

    [03] TOP OIL OFFICIAL FIRED IN KAZAKHSTAN

    President Nazarbaev

    fired KazakhOil State Oil Company President Nurlan Qapparov

    on 23 August for "exceeding his authority in deciding

    important strategic issues," AP reported. Qapparov's deputy,

    Uzaqbay Qarabalin, was appointed acting president. Also on 23

    August, Foreign Minister Kasymzhomart Toqaev confirmed that

    in order to plug an anticipated budget shortfall next year,

    Astana may be constrained to sell part of its 25 percent

    stake in the Tengizchevroil joint venture, which is

    developing the vast Tengiz oilfield, according to Interfax. A

    spokesman for Russia's LUKoil told Interfax on 20 August that

    his company is interested in increasing the 5 percent stake

    in Tengizchevroil owned by the U.S.-Russian joint venture

    LukArco. LF

    [04] KYRGYZ DEFENSE MINISTER SACKED AS TROOPS BATTLE GUERRILLAS

    President Askar Akaev sacked Defense Minister Myrzakan

    Subanov on 24 August and appointed Chief of Staff General

    Nurdin Chomoev to replace him, RFE/RL's Bishkek bureau

    reported. Late on 23 August, Kyrgyz forces attacked the group

    of guerrillas who took hostage Kyrgyz Interior Ministry

    forces commander Major-General Anarbek Shamkeev and four

    Japanese geologists in southern Kyrgyzstan earlier that day.

    According to unconfirmed reports, both sides incurred

    casualties during that fighting. A second group of guerrillas

    has seized control of two more villages, raising the number

    under their control to four. Parliamentary deputy Dosbol Nur

    Uulu told RFE/RL's Bishkek bureau that the guerrillas'

    strength exceeds 200. In Dushanbe, Tajik Security Council

    Secretary Amirkul Azimov told Interfax that the guerrillas

    are loyal to ethnic Uzbek field commander Djuma Namangani,

    who refused to comply with the deadline to disarm issued by

    Tajikistan's National Reconciliation Commission. That

    deadline expired last month. LF

    [05] KYRGYZ NEWSPAPER EDITOR ARRESTED

    Aleksandr Kim, editor of

    the independent and outspoken daily "Vechernii Bishkek," has

    been arrested on charges of tax evasion, ITAR-TASS reported

    on 24 August. LF

    [06] TAJIKISTAN HOSTS FRUITLESS AFGHAN TALKS

    Representatives of

    Afghanistan's ruling Taliban movement and opposition Northern

    Alliance met for a second round of Pakistan-mediated talks in

    Dushanbe on 23 August, AP and ITAR-TASS reported. As at the

    18 August round, no agreement was reached on adopting

    proposals made by Pakistan as a basis for ending the civil

    war. The North Alliance reportedly argued that Pakistan is

    incapable of acting as a disinterested mediator and called on

    Islamabad to stop interfering in the conflict, withdraw its

    forces from Afghanistan, and end its support for the Taliban.

    LF

    [07] UZBEKISTAN RELEASES JAILED CHRISTIANS

    Under an as yet

    unpublished decree signed by President Islam Karimov on 20

    August, one Jehovah's Witness and all five known Christians

    imprisoned in Uzbekistan have been freed, Keston News Service

    reported on 23 August. Three of the five were Pentecostalists

    serving sentences of 10-15 years. The Uzbek authorities are

    also reportedly preparing to register several local Baptist

    and Pentecostalist congregations. Observers believe the

    gesture of leniency is intended to improve the country's

    image before the U.S. State Department presents to Congress

    on 1 September its annual assessment of religious freedom

    worldwide. LF

    [08] HOSTAGES TAKEN, RELEASED IN UZBEKISTAN

    Unidentified

    guerrillas seized control of a meteorological station in

    eastern Uzbekistan on 23 August, ITAR-TASS reported. The

    guerrillas released the staff of the facility and five local

    tourists after robbing them of documents, money, clothing,

    and food and fuel supplies. LF


    [B] SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE

    [09] RUSSIAN-ALBANIAN STANDOFF CONTINUES IN RAHOVEC

    Hundreds of

    ethnic Albanians continued to block roads leading to Rahovec

    on 24 August, thereby preventing Russian peacekeepers from

    entering that town (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 23 August 1999).

    The roadblock includes a long line of trucks, buses,

    tractors, and other vehicles. Dutch peacekeepers are

    scheduled to begin mediation between Russian officers and the

    Albanian protesters later in the day, AP reported. The

    protesters reject the deployment of Russian soldiers,

    claiming that Russian mercenaries committed atrocities in

    that area in March and April. The protesters also say they

    fear Russian KFOR will protect Serbian paramilitaries who are

    allegedly hiding in the Serb-dominated quarter of Rahovec. FS

    [10] KFOR'S JACKSON BACKS RUSSIANS...

    KFOR commander General

    Sir Mike Jackson told Reuters in Prishtina on 23 August

    that the Russians are "doing a good job" in all the

    areas of Kosova that they currently patrol. He added

    that the Rahovec protests are "no more than a bump in

    the road." Elsewhere, Colonel-General Georgii Shpak, who

    is commander of Russian paratroop units, told Interfax

    in Moscow that "we have a peacekeeping mission in

    [Rahovec] and we will carry it out." FS

    [11] ...CONFIRMS UCK DEMILITARIZATION ON SCHEDULE

    At a joint

    press conference with General Agim Ceku, who is the

    chief of the Kosova Liberation Army's (UCK) General

    Staff, in Prishtina on 23 August, Jackson confirmed that

    the UCK handed in all its heavy weapons, all long-

    barreled weapons, and 60 per cent of all automatic small

    arms by 19 August, an RFE/RL South Slavic Service

    correspondent reported. That day marked the end of the

    second phase of the UCK's demilitarization. Jackson

    stressed that the UCK must now concentrate on

    transforming itself into a non-military group. The UCK

    has committed itself to completing its demilitarization

    by 19 September. FS

    [12] SERBIAN WAR CRIMES SUSPECTS TO BE TRIED IN PRIZREN

    Three Serbs arrested on suspicion of war crimes by KFOR

    peacekeeping troops in Rahovec on 20 August will stand

    trial at a District Court in Prizren, rather than in The

    Hague, Reuters reported. UN Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK)

    spokeswoman Nadia Younes said, however, that "although

    this will be a domestic war crimes trial, the [tribunal]

    takes great interest in this case. [This is] because the

    events in [Rahovec] are related to the indictment of

    [Yugoslav President Slobodan] Milosevic." Tribunal

    officials told Reuters on 23 August that they support

    the arrest and trial of suspected war criminals in local

    courts so long as the judiciary is "mature and

    democratic enough" to ensure that individuals receive a

    fair trial. FS

    [13] DID SERBIAN FORCES USE SARIN GAS IN KOSOVA?

    London's "The

    Daily Telegraph" reported on 24 August that "the Serbs used

    Sarin nerve gas against ethnic Albanians before NATO

    intervened" in Kosova. A UN expert told "Jane's Defence

    Weekly" recently that Serbian forces used the gas against the

    Kosovar Albanians "since the early nineties.... The attacks

    affected some 4,000 people, including children," the London

    daily reported. Observers note that Kosovar spokesmen have

    long charged that the Serbian forces used poison gas against

    ethnic Albanians. Outside experts have confirmed that poisons

    were used in several incidents, but not that Sarin gas was

    one of the toxins involved. PM

    [14] ANNAN APPOINTS NEW DEPUTY SPECIAL REPRESENTATIVE FOR

    KOSOVA

    UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan appointed German

    environmental expert Tom Koenigs as deputy special

    representative in Kosova in charge of civil

    administration, on 23 August, AP reported. Koenigs, who

    is a member of the Green Party and a close colleague of

    Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer, will replace Dominique

    Vian of France, who is leaving after only two months in

    office. Koenigs will be one of four deputies to UN

    Special Representative Bernard Kouchner. Since 1989,

    Koenigs has been the head of the Environmental

    Protection Department of Frankfurt, which also includes

    responsibility for sewage management, the fire

    department, and energy supplies. Between 1993 and 1997,

    he was treasurer of Frankfurt. AP noted that he has a

    reputation as a tough administrator focusing on

    increasing the efficiency of public services and

    modernizing the city administration. FS

    [15] MAJKO WANTS ALBANIANS TO MAKE DONATIONS FOR KOSOVA-

    ALBANIAN HIGHWAY

    Prime Minister Pandeli Majko called on

    the Albanian people on 23 August to donate money for a

    highway linking Durres with Prishtina, an RFE/RL South

    Slavic Service correspondent reported. Majko said in

    Tirana that "the Albanian government has decided that

    the construction of a road linking Tirana with Prishtina

    is one of its strategic priorities. That road will serve

    both ethnic Albanian entities in the Balkans.... It will

    serve the faster movement of goods, people, capital, and

    culture." Majko called the plan "a gigantic challenge

    for our nation" but stressed that "together we...can

    achieve wonders for our joint future.... This will be

    the Albanians' road and we Albanians will build it... We

    shall ask for help from our international partners, but

    initially we should demonstrate that we are able to help

    ourselves." FS

    [16] DJINDJIC SAYS MILOSEVIC RULE WILL LEAD TO CHAOS

    Democratic

    Party leader Zoran Djindjic told AP in Belgrade on 23 August

    that Serbia will face serious problems if Milosevic remains

    in office much longer. Djindjic stressed that if the

    president "does not go by the end of October, we will have a

    humanitarian catastrophe and social unrest by hungry people."

    He added that there will also be "further territorial

    disintegration" if Montenegro declares independence in

    response to Milosevic's refusal to quit. The opposition

    leader argued that each unsuccessful attempt by the

    opposition to unseat Milosevic has been followed by war.

    Djindjic rejected charges by Milosevic's backers and the

    Serbian Renewal Movement's Vuk Draskovic that his policies

    will lead to "civil war" (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 23 August

    1999), saying such accusations are "communist-style

    intimidation." PM

    [17] ARE SOME MILOSEVIC BACKERS ABANDONING HIM?

    Alliance for

    Change leader Vladan Batic said in Belgrade on 23 August that

    Milosevic's supporters will not fight a "civil war" for him.

    Batic added that some key Milosevic backers have recently

    contacted U.S. special envoy Robert Gelbard (see "RFE/RL

    Newsline," 14 July 1999). Batic said those individuals

    include prominent businessman Bogoljub Karic, Deputy Prime

    Minister Ratko Markovic, economics adviser Zoran Lilic, and

    others, RFE/RL's South Slavic Service reported. Batic

    stressed that Milosevic must resign and a transitional

    government must replace the present one. PM

    [18] UN EXPERTS CAUTIOUS ON SERBIAN CHARGES OF ENVIRONMENTAL

    DAMAGE

    Pekka Haavisto, who is chairman of the United Nations

    Environmental Program's (UNEP) Balkans Task Force, said in

    Belgrade on 23 August that he and his colleagues are

    continuing their investigation into environmental damage in

    Serbia as a result of the recent NATO air strikes. The team

    arrived several weeks ago to look for the presence of a wide

    variety of chemicals and other toxic waste in the

    environment. In response to Serbian charges that the air

    strikes led to radioactive fallout because some of the bombs

    allegedly contained depleted uranium, Haavisto said his team

    will proceed according to scientific evidence and not be

    swayed by "rumors." The experts expect to complete a

    preliminary study in September. They will then decide what to

    do next, Reuters reported. Officials of UNEP and NATO

    maintain that NATO used depleted uranium only in shells fired

    at tanks in Kosova and not in missiles or bombs used against

    Serbia proper. PM

    [19] PRESUMED SREBRENICA VICTIMS EXHUMED FROM MASS GRAVE

    Representatives of the Muslim Commission for Missing Persons

    completed the exhumation of 23 persons from a mass grave near

    the Serbian-held town of Zvornik on 23 August, "Oslobodjenje"

    reported. The experts believe that the bodies are those of

    some of the 7,000 missing persons from Srebrenica (see

    "RFE/RL Newsline," 11 August 1999). The forensic team will

    resume work in September. Survivors say that up to 1,000

    Srebrenica victims may be buried in mass graves in that area.

    PM

    [20] CROATIAN MINISTER TELLS VETERANS NOT TO MAKE POLICY

    Foreign

    Minister Mate Granic said in Zagreb on 23 August that

    Dubrovnik-area war veterans who recently blocked the border

    crossing to Trebinje should desist from such protests in the

    interest of promoting good relations with Bosnia (see "RFE/RL

    Newsline," 23 August 1999). He urged the veterans to let the

    Hague-based war crimes tribunal deal with Serbs who committed

    atrocities during the 1991 shelling of Dubrovnik, including

    former Trebinje Mayor Bozidar Vucurevic. Obrad Gazda, who is

    that town's current mayor, told Rijeka's "Novi List" that the

    people of Trebinje have nothing to apologize for. He stressed

    that the former Yugoslav army alone is responsible for the

    shelling. PM

    [21] ROMANIAN PREMIER WARNS PARLIAMENTARY DEPUTIES...

    Before the

    parliament convened in an extraordinary session on 23 August,

    Radu Vasile urged parliamentary deputies to pass the

    government-proposed legislation on restitution of real estate

    and agricultural land to former owners or their heirs. Vasile

    said that if they fail to do so by September, the government

    will legislate such restitution by emergency regulation,

    RFE/RL's Bucharest bureau reported. The opposition Party of

    Social Democracy in Romania is threatening to boycott the

    debate on procedural grounds. It also says government-

    proposed restitution will increase the budget deficit by $50

    billion. MS

    [22] ...DISMISSES RUMORS ON QUITTING

    Vasile dismissed rumors

    recently reported in the media that he intends to resign and

    accept an offer from the World Bank. He said that no such

    offer has been made and that if it were, he would turn it

    down. On 20 August, Education Minister Andrei Marga, whom the

    media tips as a possible successor to Vasile, told

    journalists that the National Peasant Party Christian

    Democratic (PNTCD) needs to "urgently embark on [developing

    a] strategy of reconstruction," Mediafax reported. Marga said

    that reconstruction can take place at "a doctrinary, an

    organizational, and a personal" level and that he believes he

    "has solutions" for all three levels. He added that he does

    not intend to run for a party leadership post but would

    "think the offer over" if it were made to him. MS

    [23] ROMANIA TO CHANGE TAXATION SYSTEM

    The government on 23

    August approved a regulation changing the taxation system.

    Under the new system, Romanians will be taxed on "global

    income," which will include wages and earnings deriving from

    any other sources of income, either in Romania or abroad. The

    government also decided that the pensions and incomes of

    farmers are not to be taxed in the future. RFE/RL's Bucharest

    bureau reported. MS

    [24] RUN-OFF IN GAGAUZ-YERI ELECTIONS

    A run-off will take place

    on 5 September between incumbent Gagauz-Yeri Autonomous

    Region Governor Georgii Tabunschik, who placed second (20.6

    percent) in the 22 August elections in the region, and

    Moldovan Deputy Foreign Affairs Minister Dimitrii Croitor,

    who came first with 21.5 percent of the vote, RFE/RL's

    Chisinau bureau reported. Turnout was 55.1 percent. Run-offs

    will also be held in 25 of the 35 constituencies where

    candidates for the People's Assembly were elected for the

    first time since 1994, when the region gained autonomous

    status, using a single-seat majority system. Tabunschik, who

    has virtually introduced a system resembling the one

    President Petru Lucinschi favors for the whole of Moldova,

    has a good chance of being re-elected. MS

    [25] MOLDOVAN PRESIDENT READY TO COMPROMISE ON PRESIDENTIAL

    SYSTEM?

    Presidential spokesman Anatol Golea told journalists

    on 23 August that Lucinschi is "ready to discuss various

    variants on amending the constitution." He said Lucinschi has

    initiated the debate on amending the basic law in order to

    get feed-back from citizens and international organizations

    and is "ready to discuss any constructive proposals." Golea

    said that "unfortunately, many representatives of parties are

    rejecting the draft [proposed by the presidential commission]

    without having even read it." In response to a question,

    Golea said the president regards the draft submitted by 38

    deputies on instituting a full-fledged parliamentary system

    as "an attempt to monopolize public [opinion] and ignore

    people's will freely expressed in the [non-binding]

    referendum of 23 May." MS


    [C] END NOTE

    [26] WHEN FOUR TIMES FIVE MIGHT EQUAL ZERO

    by Michael Shafir

    Some 300 days after the four-party ruling Slovak

    coalition took over the helm, the cracks in that coalition

    are threatening the country's political stability. The

    presence of a "Romanian syndrome" of decision-making

    paralysis, mutual accusations among the coalition partners,

    and political cronyism is beyond dispute.

    Mikulas Dzurinda's cabinet was formed by four

    formations--the Slovak Democratic Coalition (SDK), the Party

    of Civic Understanding (SOP), the reformed-communist Party of

    the Democratic Left (SDL), and the Hungarian Coalition (SMK)-

    -most of which have different social, economic, and political

    priorities.

    Like the SDK, the SMK is a political product of former

    Prime Minister Vladimir Meciar's midwifery. To circumvent an

    electoral law that raised the parliamentary hurdle for

    political alliances, three parties representing ethnic

    Hungarians merged to form the SMK before the 1998 elections.

    But unlike the SDK, the SMK currently shows few cracks. The

    cementing force is the coalition partners' failure to fulfill

    promises made before the elections. As in Romania, where the

    unity of the Hungarian Democratic Federation of Romania is

    safeguarded by the struggle of its many wings and various

    ideological views on how to enforce ethnic Hungarian demands

    its on coalition partners, the SMK is already threatening to

    "review" its participation in the coalition.

    In the first place, Agriculture Minister Pavol Koncos of

    the SDL refused to appoint an SMK party member as head of the

    Slovak Land Fund, ignoring what the SMK claims was a "verbal

    agreement" whereby it withdrew its demand for the agriculture

    portfolio. The SMK is suspected by the SDL--not to mention

    the opposition Movement for a Democratic Slovakia (HZDS) and

    the xenophobic Slovak National Party--of intending to use the

    land fund to restitute to ethnic Hungarians land confiscated

    under the Benes decrees. Second, the SMK is dissatisfied with

    the law on the use of minority languages in contact with

    official authorities, which it considers too restrictive.

    Passed by the parliament on 10 July, that law was mainly the

    brainchild of Deputy Premier in charge of legislation Lubomir

    Fogas of the SDL. Not surprisingly, Slovak media reported

    that the SMK is demanding the dismissal of both Koncos and

    Fogas.

    Set up on the eve of the 1998 elections by five center-

    right parties that, like the SMK, aimed at circumventing

    Meciar's new electoral law, the SDK is the major coalition

    partner. It is also the party most affected by the Romanian

    "coalition of coalitions" syndrome. The five "mother parties"

    of the SDK--the Christian Democratic Movement, or KDH, the

    Social Democratic Party, the Democratic Union, the Democratic

    Party, and the Green Party--agreed before the elections to

    separate again after the ballot. Following the ballot,

    however, Dzurinda opposed dismembering the SDK.

    That stance put Dzurinda on a collision course with KDH

    leader, Justice Minister, and former Premier Jan Carnogursky,

    who, understandably, objected to seeing Dzurinda, a former

    KDH member, becoming the dominant personality in Slovak

    politics. But the Democratic Union and the Democratic Party

    have also advocated--though less emphatically than

    Carnogursky-- a return to a looser alliance formed by the

    "mother parties." Dzurinda says that option is "out of the

    question."

    Carnogursky has led the campaign that ended on 9 August

    with the ousting of former Transportation Minister Gabriel

    Palacka, Dzurinda's most loyal minister. Palacka's ties with

    Dzurinda date back to their employment in the Czechoslovak

    railways company and were strengthened when he became the SDK

    treasurer. The premier was very disturbed about the forced

    departure of Palacka, who was held responsible for

    irregularities in appointments at the ministry and

    privatization tenders supervised by it. He openly attacked

    Carnogursky, admonishing him for causing "government

    instability."

    Nor is Palacka the only ally of Dzurinda to have come

    under criticism. Economy Minister Ludovit Cernak, who managed

    the premier's 1998 electoral campaign, has been linked to the

    privatization scandal caused by businessman Vladimir Poor's

    sale of his shares in the Nafta Gbely refinery to the

    Cincinnati-based Cinergy Company. Whereas Carnogursky and the

    media blamed the deal on Cernak, Dzurinda deflected the blame

    on National Property Fund (FNM) chief Ludovit Kanik and his

    deputy, Ladislav Sklenar, demanding that both resign. He was

    able to have the government approve a resolution calling for

    their resignation but failed to have the parliament endorse

    it. Carnogursky and, above all, the Democratic Party, which

    had nominated Kanik, came to the FNM chief's defense. All of

    which made Czech journalist Peter Schultz wonder, in an

    article published in the 16 July "Lidove noviny," whether

    Dzurinda was not promoting a sort of "Meciarism without

    Meciar" by defending his own cronies and attacking those of

    his adversaries.

    Dzurinda's conflict with the Democratic Party may have

    serious consequences. The most ardent promoter of the long-

    due economic reforms is Privatization Minister Ivan Miklos,

    who is a member of that party. Should his party leave the

    coalition, Dzurinda might find himself surrounded by strange

    bedfellows. The SDL, true to its origins, is refusing to back

    the Miklos-sponsored bill on the privatization of large

    state-owned companies, insisting that the state keep a

    majority stake in energy and gas distributors as well as a 34

    percent stake in banks. The Romanian parallel is once more

    striking, but in Romania it is the Democratic Party that

    plays a role like that of the SDL in Slovakia.

    Meanwhile, the HZDS is hinting that the SDL and the SOP

    may leave the coalition and help Meciar return to power. Is

    Dzurinda's four-party coalition multiplied by the SDK's five-

    party "coalition of coalitions" about to result in zero?

    24-08-99


    Reprinted with permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty
    URL: http://www.rferl.org


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