Vol. 1, No. 86, 1 August 1997
HUNGARY ALLOCATES $78 MILLION FOR EU, NATO PREPARATIONS
IN 1998. "Magyar Hirlap" reported on 1 August that the 1998 budget
includes a separate section allocating 14.9 billion forints ($78 million)
to cover the costs of preparations for EU and NATO membership.
Gusztav Bager, a department head at the Finance Ministry, said the
amount represents 2 percent of the total budget. Analysts estimate
that 60 percent of the allocated amount will be spent toward EU
admission and the remainder toward NATO membership. In addition,
individual ministries will allocate funds from their budgets to deal
with accession issues.
ROMANIAN FOREIGN MINISTER RESPONDS TO CLUJ MAYOR. Adrian
Severin on 31 July accused Cluj Mayor Gheorghe Funar of pursuing
"separatist" and "segregationist" policies in Cluj, Radio Bucharest
reported. He said Funar's recent statements are likely to create
"tension and confusion" and to "seriously harm" Romania's interests.
Severin also said Hungary has expressed concern about the mayor's
actions opposing the hoisting of the Hungarian flag at the Cluj
consulate. But he added that Budapest does not view those
developments as endangering bilateral relations or as in any way
reflecting "Romanian state policy or the feelings of the Romanian
people." Also on 31 July, Funar addressed another open letter to
Severin reiterating claims that hoisting the flag was illegal and that
the Hungarian national emblem represents "Greater Hungary" since
one of its six symbols is the Hungarian crest of Transylvania.
WALKING THE MOLDOVAN TIGHTROPE
by Michael Shafir
More than a few eyebrows must have been raised when
Moldovan Foreign Minister Valeriu Pasat paid a two-day visit to
Romania on 24-25 July and agreed with his Romanian counterpart,
Victor Babiuc, to set up a "joint peacekeeping unit."
That agreement follows a recent pattern triggered in part by
the efforts of would-be NATO members to "prove" to the West that
their militaries can be "providers of security, not merely security
consumers" (as Romanian officials recently put it) and to
demonstrate that territorial disputes with neighbors are being
resolved. While reaching an agreement to set up joint peacekeeping
units has evidently become a rite of passage for NATO candidacy, it
has seldom been followed up in practice. A Hungarian-Romanian
peacekeeping unit has been in the offing for more than half a year,
and there has also been talk about setting up Romanian-Ukrainian
and Romanian-Polish units. More recently, Bulgaria followed suit
when it decided to set up a joint peace-keeping unit with
But while the Romanians are clearly still hoping to gain entry
to NATO in a second wave of expansion, the question to be asked is
why the Moldovans would be keen on such a unit. President Petru
Lucinschi has repeatedly emphasized that Moldova intends to keep
its neutrality and that NATO membership can be considered only
sometime in the distant future, following Moldova's integration into
the EU (which is clearly far from being imminent). The question is all
the more relevant given that Transdniester separatists cite the
"danger" of Moldova's reunification with Romania as the main reason
for pursuing independence. Why should Chisinau, then, wish to
provide Tiraspol with additional ammunition? While it is true that
both Babiuc and Pasat stressed that the envisaged unit will not be
deployed in the Transdniester, such statements are unlikely to
convince Igor Smirnov's supporters.
Viewed from this angle, Pasat's expressed interest in the
purchase of PUMA helicopters produced in Romania under U.S.
license seems to have verged on irresponsibility. It was also unclear
why such intentions were made public. Furthermore, the 24 July
agreement states that Moldovan officers would receive instruction at
Romanian military establishments. Moldovan Chief of Staff Gen.
Vladimir Dontu, who accompanied Pasat to the Romanian capital,
explained that the Moldovan officer corps could not be trained in
Russia because Moscow conditioned such collaboration on
participation in the CIS collective security system, to which Moldova
does not belong. He added, however, that problems may arise with
the plan to have officers trained in Romania because Moldovans do
not have sufficient command of Romanian.
The Moldovans' seemingly strange behavior was soon
explained, however. Shortly after Pasat's visit, it transpired that the
"Bucharest show" was a smoke screen designed to pre-empt criticism
of a real policy departure being prepared by the Chisinau
government and likely to enrage the pro-unification opposition. No
sooner had Pasat returned from Bucharest than he left on another
visit, this time to Moscow. And it was "not a coincidence" (as "Pravda"
used to write) that he reached there two agreements (one of which is
still to be signed at deputy premier level) that seemed carbon-copies
of those concluded in Bucharest.
There was one significant difference, however: Russian, not
Romanian, troops are stationed on Moldova's territory. Nothing was
said about the significance of the agreements for Moldova's non-
integration in the CIS collective-security structures. But while Pasat
was still in Moscow, an announcement was made in Chisinau that a
CIS summit in the Moldovan capital in early fall was "under
consideration." That nothing Pasat and Dontu did or said in Bucharest
was "coincidental" was demonstrated at the end of the visit to
Moscow, when it was revealed that Moldova was studying the
possibility of purchasing Russian-made helicopters.
The agreements reached in Moscow provide for the instruction
of Moldovan officers at Russian military establishments (where they
apparently will have no communication problems) and for joint
military maneuvers of "peacekeeping forces." The first such
maneuvers are to be held in Moldova in October. The location has not
yet been specified, but it is a safe bet that it will not be in the
Transdniester. To hold maneuvers on that territory would infringe on
what Tiraspol regards as its "sovereignty," which, such as it is, would
not exist without the continued presence of the Russian troops.
While in Moscow, Pasat discussed with Premier Viktor
Chernomyrdin the withdrawal of the Russian troops and the
ratification by Russia of the basic treaty with Chisinau. The
agreement on the withdrawal dates back to 1994 and that on the
basic treaty to 1992. This, in itself, says volumes about Chisinau's
recent show of tightrope-walking. While such a feat may be taken for
skillful diplomacy, the origins of the metaphor should not be
forgotten -- namely, the circus.
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