Vol 1, No. 69, 9 July 1997
RUSSIAN OFFICIALS REPEAT OPPOSITION TO NATO EXPANSION. Following NATO's
decision on 8 July to extend invitations to the Czech Republic, Hungary, and
Poland to join the alliance, Russian officials repeated that Moscow is
strongly opposed to NATO's plan to admit new members. Speaking in Moscow,
Foreign Minister Yevgenii Primakov again said Russia considers NATO expansion
"perhaps the biggest mistake since the end of the Cold War," Russian news
agencies reported. Deputy Prime Minister Valerii Serov, who is heading the
Russian delegation in Madrid, also confirmed that Russia has not altered its
stance against NATO enlargement. Meanwhile, former Security Council Secretary
Aleksandr Lebed told Interfax that he is not concerned about NATO expansion.
Lebed argued that the Baltic States are unlikely ever to become NATO members.
He added that "the rich and well-fed will never threaten the poor and the
NATO INVITES CZECH REPUBLIC, HUNGARY, POLAND TO JOIN. NATO leaders invited
Czech Republic, Hungary, and Poland to join the Western alliance at a historic
summit in Madrid on 8 July. NATO leaders rejected a strong appeal from France,
Italy, and other states to also extend invitations to Romania and Slovenia.
But a communique said NATO will review the enlargement process in 1999 and
that the door remains open for former Communist states to join in the future.
The statement specifically mentioned Romania and Slovenia and also praised the
"progress achieved towards greater stability and cooperation" by the Baltic
States. U.S. President Bill Clinton hailed NATO's decision as the "dawn of a
new Europe" that is undivided, democratic, and peaceful. U.S. Defense
Secretary William Cohen said NATO will send officials to the three states to
devise plans for upgrading their infrastructures, communications, and other
systems to enable them to become full members of the alliance.
CZECH, HUNGARIAN, POLISH LEADERS WELCOME NATO DECISION. The Czech
Hungary, and Poland welcomed with "deepest satisfaction" the invitation to
become members of NATO. Czech President Vaclav Havel, flanked by Polish
President Aleksandr Kwasniewski and Hungarian Premier Guyla Horn, read a
statement to reporters in Madrid just minutes after NATO Secretary-General
Javier Solana announced the 16 NATO countries had decided to take in the three
new members. The Central European statement said the move is in recognition of
the "tremendous efforts" undertaken by their societies following the collapse
of communism in 1989. The leaders said they are very proud that the
transformations of their political and economic systems have made them
eligible for NATO membership. Havel also said the three hope that the
parliaments of the 16 NATO countries will ratify their accession in time for
them to become full members by April 1999, the 50th anniversary of the
founding of the alliance.
BALTIC REACTION TO NATO DECISION. Estonian Ambassador to NATO Juri Luik
expressed satisfaction over the mention of the Baltic States in the
communique, according to ETA. "This is just what we needed," he commented.
RFE/RL's Latvian service reported that Janis Jurkans, the former Latvian
foreign minister and a current member of the parliamentary Foreign Affairs
Committee, said the decision to invite just three countries to join came as no
surprise to Latvia, which, he stressed, is still not prepared for such a step
either military or economically. BNS reported that Lithuanian diplomats
expressed cautious optimism, saying that "in theory, a stronger declaration
could have been expected, but even such a compromise is not bad." Presidents
Lennart Meri (Estonia), Guntis Ulmanis (Latvia), and Algirdas Brazauskas
(Lithuania) are due to meet with their Czech, Hungarian, and Polish
counterparts in Madrid on 9 July.
HUNGARIAN PARLIAMENT APPROVES JUDICIAL REFORM. Lawmakers on 8 July approved
bill on judicial reform and amendments to the penal code, Hungarian media
reported. A new court of appeal. and a National Judicial Council guaranteeing
the independence of courts from the government are to be set up. Under the
penal code amendments, eligibility for parole for those serving life sentences
is to be considerably more difficult; in some cases, a minimum of 30 years in
prison will have to be served. In addition, car theft will be more strictly
punished. Also on 8 July, the parliament approved a bill transforming the
state-owned MTI news agency into a share-holding company. The chairman of MTI
is to be appointed by the prime minister from among recommendations submitted
by the company's Owners' Advisory Council.
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