Vol. 1, No. 52, 13 June1997
EAST EUROPEAN REACTIONS TO CLINTON'S NATO ANNOUNCEMENT. Following U.S.
Clinton's announcement on 12 June that only the Czech Republic, Poland, and
Hungary should be included in the first round of NATO expansion, Czech Foreign
Minister Josef Zieleniec said "this is a historic moment for the Czech
Republic." Zieleniec, who spoke on arrival in Ljubljana, said NATO should
remain open to new members after the first wave of expansion. He mentioned as
prospective members in the second wave Slovakia, Slovenia, Romania, and the
Baltic States. Hungarian Foreign Ministry spokesman Gabor Szentivanyi called
the announcement a "major step," saying it strengthens Hungarian expectations
that the NATO summit in Madrid next month will formally invite Hungary to
join. Polish officials said they were happy about the U.S. support and called
on NATO also to embrace other East European countries to increase security in
the region. Slovenian Foreign Minister Zoran Thaler said his country will
continue to push for early membership, despite the U.S. position. Romanian
Foreign Minister Adrian Severin commented that Washington's decision does not
serve U.S. interests in Eastern Europe.
SCREENING PANEL URGES HUNGARIAN SOCIALIST DEPUTY TO RESIGN. A panel of
screening parliamentary deputies to determine whether they actively
collaborated with the Communist security services have called on Judit Csehak
to resign as a socialist deputy, Hungarian media reported. The panel said that
unless she does so within 30 days, it will make public its findings. Csehak,
who was a deputy premier in the last communist government and a member of the
party's Politburo, said recently that she does not intend to resign her seat
(see "RFE/RL Newsline," 12 May 1997). In other news, Zsolt Sejmen, a deputy of
the opposition Christian Democratic Party, will run against incumbent leader
Gyoergy Giczy at the party's national conference scheduled for 21 June. Janos
Latorcai, a long-time rival of Giczy's, has decided to withdraw from the race,
according to "Magyar Hirlap."
Corruption among State Officials in Eastern Europe
by Joel Blocker
A conference in Prague of justice ministers from the Council of Europe'
member states ended on 11 June with an appeal for greater support for the
international community's fight against growing corruption and organized
crime. In a final declaration, the ministers emphasized that corruption among
state officials poses an increasing threat to the rule of law, democracy, and
human rights. They noted this is particularly true of the 16 Council member
states from Eastern Europe and the former republics of the Soviet Union that
joined the organization after 1989.
Reports and speeches by several Eastern European ministers reflect grea
awareness of the moral corrosion and subversion of democratic values currently
posed by widespread corruption in former Communist states.
In their reports to the conference, both Czech Justice Minister Vlasta
Parkanova --who chaired the proceedings-- and her Hungarian counterpart, Pal
Vastagh, underlined the trans-national character of crime and corruption in
former Communist states. Parkanova said that corruption was now a serious
problem in the Czech Republic extending not only into many areas of public
administration but also into the political and law-enforcement communities.
Vastagh said the same problem existed in his country, noting that some
corruptive practices that had developed under Communist rule continued to
flourish in post-Communist Hungary. He commented candidly that "at the time of
the change of [the Hungarian] regime, it was believed corruption would no
longer pose a big problem in an emerging market economy, since the reasons for
it would have ceased to exist. This expectation, unfortunately, proved to be
The bluntest comments about widespread corruption in Eastern Europe, ho
came from Ukraine's Justice Minister Serhiy Holovaty. Holovaty told the
conference that the spread of corruption and organized crime in Ukraine and
other former Soviet republics threatens "to undermine the fragile foundations
of their emerging civil societies." Former Soviet elites in those countries,
he said, "continue to cling to power. Having wielded tremendous administrative
control over the lives and activities of their citizens [under Communism], the
members of the 'nomenklatura' are now the virtually uncontrolled arbiters of
the distribution and use of state property.... Today, because of the absence
of accountability within hierarchical power structures, the scope for fraud,
corruption, and self-aggrandizement is broad, to put it mildly. The
nomenklatura is not interested in serious economic and administrative reform
because its members profit handsomely from the existing unregulated
Holovaty found that in the former Soviet republics, the link between
organized crime and corruption--a phenomenon noted by most speakers at the
meeting--has a "special character." He defined that character as follows: "The
distinction between organized crime and certain aspects of government activity
is often indistinguishable." As a result, he argues, there is an "increasing
institutionalization of corruption, enormous losses of revenue to state
budgets, retardation of the development of the private sector, the
monopolization of certain aspects of economic activity, and pervasive unjust
The same point was made, but far more diplomatically, by the chief Coun
Europe official at the meeting, Deputy Secretary-General Peter Leuprecht. He
told the meeting that the Council's four-year-old drive to aid international
efforts at combating corruption has been considerably hampered by some member
governments making verbal, rather than real, commitments to its efforts. At a
press conference at the end of the two-day meeting, Leuprecht said that what
is lacking in those states is "political will." Asked by the author to define
the reasons for the absence of such will, he replied: "the penetration of
criminal organizations in government."
Leuprecht and many other participants said they are convinced that the
concrete proposals agreed upon by the ministers for increasing intra-European
and international cooperation in combating crime and corruption will be
adopted at the Council of Europe's second summit meeting in October. But
neither he nor many of the Eastern ministers present at the meeting were
optimistic about stemming crime and corruption in Eastern Europe, and
particularly in the former Soviet republics, without a complete transformation
of their societies and public attitudes. That goal, they stressed, will not be
achieved in the foreseeable future.
The author is a senior correspondent for RFE/RL.
Copyright (c) 1997 RFE/RL, Inc.
All rights reserved.