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|+ - ||RFE/RL NEWSLINE - 13 May 1997 (mind)
Vol. 1, No. 29, 13 May 1997
HUNGARIAN PREMIER WANTS GRAND COALITION. Gyula
Horn says an anti-extremist grand coalition should be
formed after next year's parliamentary elections, when the
country will face the decision on joining NATO and the EU,
Reuters reported. Horn told journalists that "four or five
parties will be represented in the next parliament and
inter-party squabbling should be subordinated to the
interests of the country." The agency said polls show that
Horn's Socialist Party and its coalition ally, the Free
Democrats, have lost much of their electoral backing as a
result of the government's austerity policy. They now trail
the opposition Smallholders Party and the Young
Democrats. Horn said non-extremist parties should be
"aware of one another" and take into consideration
"Hungary's image abroad."
HUNGARIAN CHRISTIAN DEMOCRATS POSTPONE
DECISION ON TWO-PARTY COALITION. Christian
Democratic People's Party (KDNP) leaders say Hungarian
Democratic Forum President Sandor Lezsak's proposal
calling for the two parties to form a joint parliamentary
faction is untimely, Hungarian dailies report today. At a
KDNP faction meeting yesterday, faction leader Tamas
Isepy said an electoral alliance of only two parties would
limit the opposition's chances in the 1998 parliamentary
elections. The final decision on the proposal will be made
at the faction's next meeting, scheduled for later this
NATO LAUNCHES EXERCISE IN MACEDONIA. Some 1,000
soldiers from nine countries began a five-day NATO-
sponsored military exercise in central Macedonia
yesterday. Operation Savior simulates a chemical disaster
caused by an earthquake. NATO-member participants are
Italy, Greece, Turkey, and the U.S.. Soldiers from Albania,
Bulgaria, Slovenia, Romania, and Macedonia are taking part
within NATO's Partnership for Peace program. Hungary,
Poland, and the Czech Republic, all of which are expected to
be included in NATO's first wave of eastward expansion,
have sent observers. This is the first multinational military
exercise to be held in Macedonia.
CLUJ MAYOR LAYS DOWN CONDITIONS FOR
HUNGARIAN PRESIDENT'S VISIT. Gheorghe Funar says he
will picket a visit planned later this month by Hungarian
President Arpad Goencz unless the guest agrees to
renounce what Funar says are irredentist claims to
Romanian territory, Romanian and Hungarian media report.
Funar said Goencz made those claims in a book on
Transylvania which he wrote a few years ago. Funar is also
objecting to the planned opening of the Hungarian
consulate in Cluj during Goencz's visit. Last week, Funar,
who was dismissed in March as leader of the Party of
Romanian National Unity, wrote to President Emil
Constantinescu to protest the visit.
Copyright (c) 1997 RFE/RL, Inc.
All rights reserved.
|+ - ||RFE/RL NEWSLINE - 14 May 1997 (mind)
Vol. 1, No. 30, 14 May 1997
ESTONIAN PRESIDENT IN BUDAPEST. Lennart Meri met
with his Hungarian counterpart, Arpad Goncz, in the
Hungarian capital yesterday to discuss the promotion of
business and cultural ties, Estonian and Hungarian media
reported. The two leaders underscored the need to sign
agreements on protecting investments and avoiding
double taxation. Meri and Goncz also pledged to support
each other's aspirations to join the EU and NATO.
Addressing the Hungarian parliament, Meri stressed that
aspiring members of the EU and NATO want to be
"providers, not simply consumers, of security." This is the
first visit to Hungary by an Estonian head of state since the
Baltic State regained independence in 1990.
EASTERN EUROPE'S HEALTH IN CRISIS
by Kitty McKinsey
An epidemic is sweeping Eastern Europe. Citizens of
the former communist countries--especially middle-aged
men--are dying in staggering numbers from cardiovascular
diseases, lung cancer, and cirrhosis of the liver. In most of
these countries, life expectancy is dropping sharply
because of the rise of diseases that are largely
preventable and mostly self-induced.
A few figures illustrate the catastrophic situation in
Eastern Europe. According to the World Bank and the World
Health Organization, in Hungary the prevalence of cancer in
males is the highest ever recorded in the world. Also in
Hungary, where every fifth male is considered to be an
alcoholic, the rate of cirrhosis of the liver is 14 times that
of Sweden, which also has a reputation for heavy drinking.
In Poland, lung cancer kills half of all Polish men who die
before reaching 65. In both Bulgaria and Romania, life
expectancy at birth has been declining since 1989.
The trend began some years ago but has become more
pronounced in most of these countries since the collapse
of communism in 1989 and the transition to market
economies. In fact, the marked decline in life expectancy,
especially in countries like Hungary and Russia, caused the
British magazine The Economist to ask in an article last
year, "Is capitalism lethal?"
On the contrary, say experts on health in the region.
They argue that the epidemic of chronic diseases is a
legacy of the communist system, which made huge strides
in controlling infectious diseases like tuberculosis but
failed to address the more recent causes of killer
diseases, namely, individual lifestyles. Bad habits--such as
excessive smoking, drinking, and unhealthy diet--persist
in most countries of the region.
Experts point out that the former communist
countries face a double burden of having to fight an
explosion of disease with less money. The public health
establishment in former communist countries is still
struggling to recover from the collapse of the command
economy and the switch to the market. The public health
systems and the medical establishments can no longer
count on government subsidies, and some countries--like
Bulgaria--are facing gaps in basic medical services.
The root of the problem lies in the approach of the
communist system to health care. As in many other fields,
the communists stressed quantity over quality. Emphasis
was placed on providing ever more hospital beds and
training ever more doctors. Little regard was paid to the
overall state of health of the population. The surviving old
system is largely ineffective in combating modern
diseases caused by unhealthy lifestyles. The challenge now
for the former communist countries is to treat the huge
numbers of sick people with funds that are no longer
increasing or, in many cases, are decreasing.
Most of the countries in Eastern Europe have come to
understand that they can no longer afford the large health
system that they have had. However, so far, little has been
done in most Eastern European countries toward effective
restructuring of the system or toward making the switch
from preferring quality over quantity in the provision of
Observers say that Eastern European countries must
take major steps toward disease prevention and health
education--banning cigarette smoking, getting people to
exercise more, encouraging healthier diets--with money
saved by cutting hospital beds and laying off some doctors.
But such a program has proven difficult to sell to the public
and especially to doctors who would lose their jobs.
Experts agree that the reform of the region's health-care
systems is likely to a very long process.
Copyright (c) 1997 RFE/RL, Inc.
All rights reserved.