Vol. 2, No. 8, 14 January 1998
HUNGARIAN LEFTIST FORCES SIGN ELECTION PACT. The
governing Socialist Party (MSZP) on 13 January signed an
election cooperation agreement with the Social Democratic
Party (MSZDP) and the Agrarian Alliance, Hungarian media
reported. The Agrarian Alliance will not field its own
candidates in the next elections, but four of its members will be
included on the Socialist national list. The MSZP and MSZDP will
run independently but will not campaign against each other.
Prime Minister and MSZP chairman Gyula Horn described the
unity of left-wing forces as an important goal, while MSZDP
chairman Laszlo Kapolyi said his party would like to see the
Left remain in power. MSZ
HUNGARIAN DEFENSE MINISTER MEETS NATO
COMMANDER. Wesley Clark, the supreme commander of
NATO forces in Europe, has urged Hungarian Defense Minister
Gyorgy Keleti to prepare the Hungarian military for NATO
accession, Hungarian media reported. The two men met in
Mons, Belgium, on 13 January. The alliance expects the
Hungarian military to improve soldiers' command of English,
familiarize them with NATO standards and regulations, and
improve the level of training. MSZ
U.S.-BALTIC CHARTER: MILESTONE ON WAY TO WEST
by Sonia Winter
The presidents of Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania arrived in
Washington on 13 January to begin three days of highly visible
meetings and ceremonies marking the start of a new chapter in
their relations with the U.S.
The high point will be on 16 January at the White House
with the signing of a U.S.-Baltic Charter of Partnership, which
pledges U.S. support for the integration of the three Baltic
nations into Western institutions, including NATO.
From the U.S. perspective, the document marks the true
beginning of normal state-to-state relations and the end of the
long journey of the Baltic States from the 1940 Soviet
occupation, through the declaration of independence, and
recovery from Soviet dominion in the first half of the 1990s, to
genuine sovereignty and continuing democratization in the
closing years of the decade.
But for many in Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania, the
charter, which took a year to complete, is only another step
forward on their way West--one that falls short of initial high
State Department spokesman James Rubin on 13 January
articulated what the charter does, as well as what it does not
do. He thereby pinpointed the quiet controversy, kept out of
the public eye during the negotiations.
The charter, Rubin said, sets a framework for
development of U.S.-Baltic relations and is a clear statement of
U.S. support for "Baltic integration into European and
transatlantic institutions." He noted that "the U.S. welcomes and
supports Baltic aspirations to join NATO." But he also said "the
charter is not a security guarantee" and "does not commit the
U.S. to [supporting] Baltic membership."
He emphasized that "the charter in fact reaffirms U.S.
policy that aspirants can become members only as they prove
themselves able and willing to assume the responsibilities and
obligations of membership."
Although Estonia is generally recognized by experts as
being as able and willing as other successful NATO candidates,
Baltic leaders have had to accept their exclusion from plans for
the first round of NATO expansion, which was confined to
Poland, Hungary, and the Czech Republic, Moreover, the Baltics
may also miss out on a second round of NATO enlargement,
expected after 1999. Washington sources say U.S. officials have
advised the Baltic governments they will not be able to join
NATO anytime soon.
When asked about Baltic membership, the stock reply of
U.S. and NATO officials is that enlargement must take into
account the interests of the whole alliance and not weaken it in
any way. In other words, U.S. and NATO officials say concern
about Russia's opposition is a looming factor in consideration of
Baltic membership in the alliance.
Rubin said the U.S. has briefed Russia on the Baltic
charter--which seems designed in part to soothe Russian
sensitivities regarding the Baltic States--but hastry. But Lithuanian
sources say President-elect
Valdas Adamkus may reaffirm the Partnership Charter when
he makes his first trip to the U.S. as president. Adamkus is to
be inaugurated into office in late February.
The author is a Washington-based RFE/RL correspondent.
Copyright (c) 1998 RFE/RL, Inc.
All rights reserved.