Vol. 1, No. 42, 30 May1997
ALBRIGHT ON POTENTIAL NEW NATO MEMBERS. At the meeting of NATO foreign
ministers in Sintra, Portugal, on 29 May, U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine
Albright said candidates to join NATO expansion would have to "meet the
highest possible standards before they are invited to join" and that NATO's
enlargement was "not a scholarship program." Observers interpret this
statement as meaning the U.S. wants the first invitations to join the alliance
to be restricted to the Czech Republic, Hungary, and Poland. The statement is
also seen as a rebuff to attempts by France, Italy, and Spain to have Romania
and Slovenia included in the first wave of enlargement. Diplomatic sources
said French President Jacques Chirac may be unwilling to compromise on the
demand that a European country be put in charge of NATO's southern European
command if Paris fails to secure Romania's admittance to the organization. The
report also said the U.S. views Slovenia as being militarily too weak to join
NATO now, though it is strongly backed by Italy. Consultations on new NATO
members will continue until the July Madrid summit.
HUNGARY TO ALLOW LAND SALES TO COMPANIES. Prime Minister Gyula Horn said a
draft bill approved by the government on 29 May will allow companies to buy
land, overturning a 1994 law stipulating that only private individuals can
purchase land, Hungarian media report. The draft would not allow direct
foreign land ownership but would permit Hungarian-based firms that are
part-owned by foreigners to purchase land. Horn said that the draft was in
accordance with EU membership requirements, a key foreign-policy objective for
Hungary. Opposition members and farmers' associations accuse the government of
intending "to sell off" Hungarian territory to foreigners. Meanwhile,
high-ranking EU official Michael Bursich announced in Nyiregyhaza that the
union is granting ECU 40 million for regional development in Hungary.
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