Vol. 1, No. 80, 24 July 1997
HUNGARY ESTABLISHES COMMISSION AGAINST SEX
DISCRIMINATION. An eight-member government commission was
established on 23 July to guarantee equal opportunities for women,
Hungarian media reported. Minister of Labor Peter Kiss said that
although sex discrimination is illegal in Hungary, women still earn
10-15 percent less than men employed in the same positions. He said
two-thirds of women in the country work in so-called "female
positions." Some 30 million forints ($160,000) will be budgeted this
year to overcome poverty among and violence against women and to
improve social and health care for women, he said. In other news,
statistics released on 23 June by the Interior Ministry show crime
rose 10 percent in the first half of 1997, compared with the same
period last year. Interior Minister Gabor Kuncze told a press
conference that, in particular, international crime is causing concern.
HUNGARIAN CONSULATE REOPENS IN CLUJ. The Hungarian consulate
in Cluj, which was closed by communist dictator Nicolae Ceausescu in
1988, was reopened on 23 July. The ceremony was attended by
Hungarian Foreign Minister Laszlo Kovacs and his Romanian
counterpart, Adrian Severin, an RFE/RL correspondent in Cluj
reported. Kovacs said the occasion marks the "end of the epoch of
artificial incitement to inter-ethnic conflict." Severin said it showed a
"return to normalcy." Gheorghe Funar, the extreme nationalist mayor
of Cluj, boycotted the ceremony and announced that the local council
is on vacation and has "more important priorities" than finding a
location for the consulate, which is using temporary premises. Funar
also said the hoisting of the Hungarian flag outside the consulate
would infringe on the Romanian constitution. Severin responded by
saying foreign policy in not made by local mayors.
BILINGUAL SIGNS REINSTALLED IN TARGU MURES. The bilingual
Hungarian-Romanian signs recently dismantled in Targu Mures (see
"RFE/RL Newsline," 21 July 1997) were reinstalled on 23 July on the
order of Mayor Imre Fodor, despite the opposition of the local prefect
Dorin Florea. Florea was overruled by the government's secretary,
Remus Opris, who said there was no need for the local council to
approve the move. Opris said ethnic Hungarians make up 52 percent
of the town's population, far more than the 20 percent stipulated in
the government ordinance allowing bilingual signs. The anti-
Hungarian "Romanian Cradle" organization, which painted over the
bilingual signs in the colors of the Romanian flag, protested the
decision. The Party of Romanian National Unity, the chauvinist
Greater Romania Party, and the Party of Social Democracy in Romania
are collecting signatures in support of Fodor's dismissal.
by Michael Mihalka
The European Commission recommended on 15 July that the Czech
Republic, Hungary, Poland, Slovenia, and Estonia join Cyprus in
beginning accession talks with the EU. The EU would have preferred
to set its house in order before proceeding with enlargement. But the
8 July announcement of NATO expansion dictated both the timing
and the selection of candidates for the current wave of EU
The EU set three main criteria for beginning accession talks: political,
which meant stable institutions that guarantee democracy, the rule
of law, human rights, and the protection of minorities; economic,
which meant a functioning market economy that can withstand
competitive pressure from other EU countries; and the ability to take
on the obligations of membership--in particular, implementing the
common law ("acquis communitaire") of the EU. Of the 10 Central
European applicants, the Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Poland,
and Slovenia were regarded as capable of meeting the criteria in the
mid-term, while Bulgaria, Latvia, Lithuania, Romania, and Slovakia
were not. Turkey, which first applied for associate membership in
1963, was again give the cold shoulder.
Of the latter group, only Slovakia was considered to meet the
economic criteria and have the ability to take on the common law.
But it failed to make the first wave because of the instability of its
institutions and shortcomings in the functioning of its democracy.
Vladimir Drozda of the Slovak Social Democratic Party said on 16 July
that Meciar's government has betrayed the historical interests of
Slovakia by proving incapable of guaranteeing integration into NATO
and the EU.
The EU Commission argued that Latvia and Lithuania had met the
political criteria but did not yet have competitive market economies.
In the case of Bulgaria and Romania, the recent changes of
government in both countries meant they were well on their way to
meeting the political criteria. But neither country was judged to have
an economy capable of withstanding international market pressures.
Romanian Minister for European Integration Alexandru Herlea
admitted that his country "cannot afford now to accede to the
European Union." Nevertheless, Bucharest argued that the EU summit
in December in Luxembourg should agree to start accession talks
with all candidate countries and not just those singled out by the
The EU had hoped to resolve its institutional and policy problems
before proceeding with enlargement. At the Amsterdam summit in
June, it failed to do either. Now enlargement will prove the engine
for EU reform.
The small states within the EU had wanted to exclude both Estonia
and Slovenia from the first wave of accession talks to avoid
triggering the institutional reform that would weaken their power.
The Amsterdam summit had called for yet another intergovernment
conference to deal with institutional reform if enlargement led to an
EU composed of more than 20 states. Excluding Estonia and Slovenia
would have left the enlarged EU with 19 members. Unfortunately for
the small states, both Estonia and Slovenia met the criteria. And
perhaps just as important, both had been left out of NATO
NATO had excluded the Baltic States from the first wave of its
enlargement partly because it did not want to antagonize Russia. But
while opposing NATO enlargement, Russia has not raised any
objections to other states joining the EU. On 15 July, Russian Foreign
Ministry spokesman Gennadii Tarasov said that Russia actively
supported the Baltic States' membership in the EU. The Scandinavian
countries had actively championed their cause with regard to both
NATO and the EU.
Slovenia and Romania had made the short list for NATO enlargement,
having received the support of nine of the 16 members. However,
the U.S. had insisted that the first wave of enlargement be restricted
to the Czech Republic, Hungary, and Poland. Slovenia was left out of
NATO enlargement partly because of concerns that its military
contribution to NATO would be limited. But in the economic sphere,
Slovenia has been a sterling performer with a GNP per capita almost
on par with that of Greece. The states that had pushed for Slovenia's
NATO candidacy also ensured that it would be in the first wave of EU
enlargement, despite the objections of the smaller states.
By contrast, Romania remains a backward country economically.
Even Romania's own ministers admitted that Romania was more
qualified to join NATO than the EU. The proportion of the labor force
in the agricultural sector, some 24 percent, is a good indicator of
Romanian economic backwardness. Corresponding figures for Austria,
the Czech Republic, and Hungary are 8 percent, 11 percent, and 15
percent, respectively. According to the World Bank, Romanian GNP
per capita has not increased since 1970.
With some 27 percent of its labor force in agriculture, Poland will
bring a backward agricultural sector into the EU. Some studies have
suggested that extending membership to Poland and other Central
European states could double the amount of money that the EU pays
for agricultural support through its Common Agricultural Policy. In
addition, the EU will need to rethink its so-called structural funds,
which go to poorer areas within the EU. Germany has insisted that
those funds not be increased, while Spain is demanding that they not
be cut. Since the prospective new members are all poorer than
current ones, funds will have to be redistributed.
The author teaches at the George C. Marshall European Center for
Security Studies, Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Germany.
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