RADIO FREE EUROPE/RADIO LIBERTY, PRAGUE, CZECH REPUBLIC
RFE/RL NEWSLINE 3 February 2000
HUNGARY OPPOSES EU STANCE ON AUSTRIA. Hungary does not plan
to join the EU in introducing sanctions against Austria if
Haider's far-right Freedom Party joins the government,
Foreign Minister Janos Martonyi told reporters on 2 February.
At the same time, Hungary "shares the concerns" of EU
countries but continues to believe that the program of the
Austrian government and its political actions will be the
decisive factors, he added. Prime Minister Viktor Orban
expressed "surprise" at the EU's stance, saying that the
union has "marked out boundaries that contradict the will of
some Austrian citizens." Istvan Csurka, chairman of the far-
right Hungarian Justice and Life Party, said it is "a joy"
for his party to witness Haider's success (see also "End
Note" below). MSZ
HUNGARIAN DEMOCRATIC FORUM FORMS NEW RIGHT-WING UNION.
Democratic Forum Chairwoman Ibolya David on 2 February
announced a union of moderate right-wing forces to be called
the Right Hand of Peace 2000. The new formation is composed
of the Democratic Forum, the Democratic People's Party, the
Entrepreneurs' Party, and Deputy State Secretary Zsolt Semjen
of the Christian Democratic Federation. The group's aim is to
create a moderate centrist force and bring about a new
political style, David said. People's Party Chairwoman
Erzsebet Pusztai said Hungarians "have been disillusioned by
politics owing to the unduly sharp tone" prevailing on the
political scene. MSZ
WILL THE 'HAIDER SYNDROME' SPREAD EASTWARD?
By Michael Shafir
"Official Romania" has joined the EU in warning about
the negative impact the presence in the new government of
Joerg Haider's far-right Austrian Freedom Party might have on
the union as a whole. In Paris on 31 January, Foreign
Minister Petre Roman backed the position of his French
counterpart, Hubert Vedrine, that Haider offers "demagogic
and populist solutions" that "can bring nothing to Austria's
citizens." Two days later, when Austrian Ambassador to
Bucharest Karl Vetter von der Lille presented Roman with the
program agreed on by the Freedom Party and outgoing Foreign
Minister Wolfgang Schuessel's People's Party (in what
appeared to signal a campaign to respond to international
criticism of the government about to emerge), Roman reminded
the ambassador of a "distinction" Haider recently made in one
of his xenophobic outbursts. In Austria, the nationalist
leader said, "there are two kinds of immigrants--Romanian
pickpockets and others."
Thus "official Romania" has echoed concern expressed
elsewhere in East Central Europe, though by no means with
equal force. While Czech President Vaclav Havel vehemently
condemned Haider and what his party stands for, the Czech
Foreign Ministry was "more diplomatic" in its reaction, as
indeed were statements from both Bratislava and Budapest. In
Warsaw, Prime Minister Jerzy Buzek said his country is
"disturbed" by the "Austrian situation" and that Poland's
"tragic experience in the 20th century" makes it "very
sensitive" to "extremist views." He commented that his
country's concern also stems from the fact that Haider is
known to be opposed to the EU's eastward expansion. Indeed,
this appears to be precisely the reason why "official"
Hungary and Slovakia have been more subdued in voicing their
concern. After all, as a EU member, Austria has "veto power"
over deciding which countries can become new members.
But observers are advised to pay attention to
"unofficial" reactions as well. In Romania, the emerging
Popular Party, headed by former Prime Minster Radu Vasile, is
reportedly contemplating a merger with the Romanian Right
Party. Vasile has been expelled from the National Peasant
Party Christian Democratic (PNTCD) and 10 of his supporters
who are deputies or senators left the party in late January.
Vasile seems interested in being able to register his new
formation as soon as possible to compete in the elections
scheduled for the end of the year. The merger with the
Romanian Right would be a short-cut toward achieving that
end. Reportedly, the intention is to first implement the
merger and then change the party's name.
In Vienna, Schuessel, driven by the credo that the "end
justifies the means," is attempting to make the Freedom Party
into a "respectable" democratic party, which it obviously is
not. In Romania, a similar situation existed when the Party
of Social Democracy in Romania, led by former President Ion
Iliescu, joined forces with the extremist Greater Romania
Party (PRM), the Party of Romanian National Unity (PUNR), and
the Socialist Labor Party. Now, however, Vasile seems ready
to go one step further, making a neo-fascist partyIt should
be carefully watched.0 what the Germans would call
The Romanian Right is led by Cornel Brahas, a former
informer of the Ceausescu secret police, and by Ion Coja, a
Holocaust denier and apologist for the fascist Iron Guard.
The party was formed in 1993 under the name of the Party of
National Right. Its founder, journalist Radu Sorescu, who
embraced wholly the "ethnocratic" doctrines of inter-war
writer and philosopher Nichifor Crainic, resigned as leader
in 1994 and was replaced by Aurelian Pavelescu, who recruited
Brahas after the latter had been expelled from the PUNR.
Because Brahas was a parliamentary deputy at the time, the
party was briefly represented in Romania's former
But Brahas was soon accused by his new friends of having
embezzled election campaign funds and was expelled in 1996.
Soon thereafter he set up his own Romanian Right Party, which
Coja joined in December 1997. A "political migrant," Coja had
represented in the parliament first Iliescu's formation, then
the PUNR, and finally the Democratic Agrarian Party, all the
while being a deputy chairman of the extreme nationalist
Vatra romaneasca, an alleged "cultural" organization. He is
also known to have close ties with the neo-Iron Guard "nests"
headed by Serban Suru.
That the PNTCD had "fundamentalists" within its ranks
whose views were not far removed from those of the extreme
right was by no means unique. A senator representing that
party last year called on the house to observe a minute's
silence in memory of Marshal Ion Antonescu, who was executed
as a war criminal in 1946-- back in 1991, another senator,
from Iliescu's party, had issued a similar call. In
Timisoara, where the mayor is a member of the PNTCD, a street
was named after the marshal last year. But the PNTCD as a
whole is not an extremist formation, and Vasile was believed
to have belonged to its "pragmatist," anti-fundamentalist
A Romanian proverb quoted by Iliescu to explain his
alliance with the PRM says that one "may be the devil's
brother in order to cross the bridge". The devil, however,
has often proved to have used his "brother" to cross the
bridge and then toss the latter into the river. And that
lesson is not limited to Romania alone.
In Hungary, Justice and Life Party leader Istvan Csurka
is an admirer of Haider but lately has been courted by the
ruling FIDESZ. In Slovakia, the old-new alliance of Vladimir
Meciar's Movement for a Democratic Slovakia and the Haider-
admirers from the Slovak National Party is being re-launched
with a vengeance. Against the backdrop of the Schuessel-
Haider alliance, that pattern may emerge elsewhere in East
Central Europe and should be carefully watched.
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