Lithuanians To Seek Compromise Formula on Monday
MOSCOW (AP) _ Lithuanian lawmakers rejected Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev’s demand that the republic suspend its declaration of independence but planned to offer a compromise, spokesmen said Sunday.
In Estonia, anti-independence forces planned strikes at major government- owne d enterprises on Monday, but it was not clear how much support they could muster. Similiar strike calls last summer interrupted work at only a few dozen businesses in the Estonian capital of Tallinn.
Opponents of independence in Latvia, the third Baltic republic, met in Riga, the capital, to form an alliance. The Soviet army newspaper Red Star said the group included Communists loyal to Moscow, military representatives and law enforcement organizations.
All three Baltic republics were forcibly annexed by the Soviet Union 50 years ago and now are in various stages of trying to break free of Moscow’s control.
Gorbachev says the Baltic moves toward independence violate the Soviet constitution. Lithuania has pushed the hardest, and he has halted oil and natural gas shipments to that republic as part of an economic embargo.
Lithuanian legislators agreed late Saturday to reject Gorbachev’s demand that they suspend their March 11 independence declaration because it would mean accepting Soviet control over Lithuania, legislator Zigmas Vaisvilas said Sunday.
No formal vote was taken on the issue, and the lawmakers planned to reconvene Monday to draft a counterproposal, said Victoras Balmusas, a parliamentary spokesman.
During the debate, Communist legislator Eduardas Vilkas proposed offering Gorbachev a deal that would suspend or cancel the March 11 declaration of independence in exchange for an end to Moscow’s economic blockade of Lithuania, a promise not to use force and removal of some Soviet troops, Vaisvilas said.
But most lawmakers agreed that tampering with the declaration would be wrong, Vaisvilas said. That was in line with the advice of Lithuanian Prime Minister Kazimiera Prunskiene, who met with Gorbachev on Thursday night in Moscow.
Parliament ordered a committee to work out other compromise proposals to offer Moscow, Vaisvilas said.
Gorbachev’s had refused for two months to meet with Lithuanian leaders. But he relented after the republic offered to suspend some measures relating to the implementation of independence - not the actual declaration - in exchange for negotiations.
Lithuanian leaders said Gorbachev’s decision to see Mrs. Prunskiene may have been influenced by the fact that she was meeting the following day with Secretary of State James A. Baker III. Baker was in Moscow to settle the agenda for the superpower summit at the end of May in Washington.
″It’s very clear Gorbachev wanted to show President Bush before the summit that he has started negotiations and he is not demanding the same things as in the beginning,″ Vailvilas said.
Baker told a news conference Saturday night that the United States was ″encouraged″ by the fact that the two met, but said results remain to be seen.
In the Lithuanian capital, Vilnius, independence supporters kept a vigil outside the parliament building through the weekend to guard it from pro- Soviet demonstrators, reports said Sunday.
Lithuanian radio, monitored by the British Broadcasting Corp., said the activists sought to prevent a repeat of incidents in Latvia and Estonia, where opponents of independence tried to storm government buildings last week.
In another development, the Estonian news agency ETA said Sunday that Lithuanian, Latvia, Czechoslovak and Polish lawmakers met near Tallinn, the Estonian capital, and recommended that the Baltic states be added to the 35- nation of Conference on Security and Cooperation in Europe, which produced the Helsinki Accords in 1975.
However, the delegates were not formally representing their respective governments, so the move was mainly symbolic.
″We are not against the Soviet Union, but it must admit the right to self- determination for everybody,″ ETA quoted Polish senator Tadeusz Klopotowski as saying.