RADIO FREE EUROPE/RADIO LIBERTY, PRAGUE, CZECH REPUBLIC
RFE/RL NEWSLINE 24 January 2000
ORBAN OPPOSES TORGYAN'S NOMINATION FOR PRESIDENT. Prime
Minister and FIDESZ chairman Viktor Orban said on 21 January
"it would be better if Jozsef Torgyan remained as chairman of
the Independent Smallholder's Party (FKGP) than if he were
nominated to the post of president of the republic,"
Hungarian media reported. Attila Bank, FKGP parliamentary
group leader, replied by saying that Torgyan's nomination to
that post is "not subject to any bargain," since a coalition
agreement between the FKGP and FIDESZ gives the FKGP the
right to nominate the candidate for president. MSZ
MORE SPIES IN HUNGARY THAN BEFORE NATO MEMBERSHIP. Secret
Services Minister Laszlo Kover said there are more spies at
work in Hungary than before the country joined NATO in March
1999, "Vilaggazdasag" reported on 24 January. He said the
secret services were not taken by surprise since they knew
that Hungary's NATO membership represents a challenge to the
interests of certain large powers and several regional
states. In other news, Kover launched a complaint against the
prosecutor-general's decision to terminate criminal
proceedings against journalist Laszlo Juszt (see "RFE/RL
Newsline," 12 January 2000). Juszt was accused of divulging
state secrets last May when he published data on the FIDESZ
surveillance case. MSZ
BALKAN LEADERS CALL FOR MORE EFFECTIVE SANCTIONS AGAINST
YUGOSLAVIA. The leaders of seven states bordering Yugoslavia
on 22 January called for UN sanctions against Belgrade to be
made more effective at a summit meeting in the Bulgarian town
of Hissar. The meeting was attended by the leaders of
Hungary, Romania, Bulgaria, Macedonia, Bosnia-Herzegovina,
and Albania as well as high-ranking EU and NATO
representatives. Bulgarian Prime Minister Ivan Kostov said
the sanctions are "hitting ordinary people" while having
little effect on Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic. He
added that the poor states in the region are also being hit
by the sanctions. VG
Slovak Premier Announces Controversial New Party
By Jolyon Naegele
On 16 January, Slovak Prime Minister Mikulas Dzurinda
held a secret three-hour meeting in his office with several
government ministers and deputies at which 11 of those
present signed a declaration on forming a new political
party--the Slovak Democratic and Christian Union (SDKU).
Dzurinda announced the declaration the following day. No
date has been set for the formal establishment of the new
Dzurinda says he envisions the party as the eventual
successor to the ruling Slovak Democratic Coalition (SDK) in
parliamentary elections in 2002.
"The new political party will clearly carry on according
to the ideals of the SDK, regardless of how it was formed,"
he said. "Its ideals are very clear: first of all to continue
to integrate democratic forces in the country. It is apparent
that the next parliamentary elections will decide once and
for all about Slovak membership in the EU. At the same time,
it upholds the goal of concluding all reform processes."
The SDK was formed two years ago by five opposition
parties: three right-wing parties (the Democratic Party, the
Democratic Union and the Christian Democratic Movement) and
two left-of-center parties (the Social Democrats and the
The formula proved successful in winning parliamentary
elections in 1998 and ending the populist rule of Prime
Minister Vladimir Meciar. The vote put the SDK in power with
three other parties (the post-Communist Party of the
Democratic Left, the populist Party of Civic Understanding,
and a coalition of ethnic Hungarian parties). Meciar's
downfall and Slovakia's return to democratic practices
resulted in a rapid turnaround in the attitudes of NATO and
the European Union toward Slovakia. Both bodies now fully
support Slovakia's integration.
The 11 signatories say they oppose breaking up the SDK
right away because that would violate the trust of the
voters. But they say that, over the longer term, the new SDKU
will promote the integration of reform forces in Slovakia and
better serve the needs of voters.
In addition to Dzurinda, the founding members of the
SDKU include Deputy Prime Minister Ivan Simko, and the
ministers of foreign affairs (Eduard Kukan), interior
(Ladislav Pittner), culture (Milan Knazko), health (Tibor
Sagat), and transportation, post and telecommunications
One of those at the founding meeting who did not sign
the declaration was Jan Figel of the Democratic Party, a
state secretary at the Foreign Ministry.
Figel says Slovakia already has too many political
parties. He says what the country needs are fewer
functionaries and a greater interest in citizens' needs. He
told reporters in Bratislava that integrating Slovakia into
European structures cannot succeed as long as the country is
splintered and individual and group interests prevail over
those of society as a whole.
No one from the Democratic Party has signed the
declaration. But the Christian Democratic Movement (KDH),
Dzurinda's original party, is split, with nine of its MPs
opposing the new party, three having signed the new party's
declaration, and three expected to support it. KDH Chairman
and Justice Minister Jan Carnogursky was among the first to
criticize formation of the new party.
"It is with regret that the KDH takes note of the
declaration by Mikulas Dzurinda and the other signatories
announcing the foundation of a new political party, SDKU,"
Carnogursky said. "This step further splinters the right in
Slovakia. For the second time in the 10 years of its
existence, the KDH is splintered. This declaration
unilaterally ends the SDK's existence without even informing
the parent parties in advance. It also unilaterally ends the
negotiations on reorganizing relations between the SDK and
its parent parties."
Nevertheless, Carnogursky did pledge to continue to
support both the government and Prime Minister Dzurinda. The
prime minister, for his part, says he intends to resign
shortly from Carnogursky's party.
As Carnogursky suggests, the SDK faction in parliament
appears to be on the verge of an institutional split.
Deputies loyal to SDK want to draw up an agreement on
cooperation with those who back SDKU.
One curious footnote is that the location of the meeting
where the declaration was drawn up (Dzurinda's office)
remained secret for two days, apparently due to ethical
questions over the suitability of the prime minister's office
as a site for founding a political party.
For its part, Meciar's Movement for a Democratic
Slovakia (HZDS) describes the SDKU as signaling SDK's
disintegration and in HZDS's view "confirming once and for
all that SDK was a matter of electoral fraud toward the
citizens, with a single goal: to place parties in parliament
which the voters had already ruled out."
The HZDS is reiterating its call for early elections,
this time on the grounds that as a result of the
establishment of SDKU, the SDK has lost the legitimacy of its
mandate in parliament.
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