Vol. 1, No. 58, 23 June1997
HUNGARY, VATICAN SIGN AGREEMENT. Vatican Secretary of State Cardinal Angelo
Sodano and visiting Hungarian Prime Minister Gyula Horn on 20 June signed an
agreement on property restitution to, and financing the activities of, the
Roman Catholic Church in Hungary. According to the pact, the state will return
to the Church, or pay it compensation for, buildings and property seized under
communism. Sodano said the signing of the agreement "may serve as an example
to other post-communist countries," Hungarian media reported. Hungary's junior
coalition party, the Free Democrats, criticized the agreement for singling out
one religion for support and for giving Roman Catholic schools the same status
as state institutions. The Vatican denied that the pact gives a privileged
status to the Catholic Church over Hungary's non-Catholic believers, who are
mostly Protestants and Jews.
HUNGARIAN OPPOSITION PARTY RE-ELECTS LEADER. The national council of the
Christian Democratic People's Party (KDNP) on 21 June re-elected incumbent
Gyoergy Giczy as party chairman, Hungarian media reported. Giczy received 133
votes, while Zsolt Semjen garnered 102. Giczy's re-election ends a heated
debate within the KDNP that began in May following a Supreme Court decision to
annul the results of the KDNP's December 1996 contest for leadership (see
"RFE/RL Newsline," 5 May 1997). Giczy called for an end to factions within the
party and urged the KDNP to bring about a "genuine change of regime." Semjen
remarked that the 43% of the vote he gained indicates that his moderate policy
has considerable support in the party.
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