News round-up

31 March - 7 April 1997

NATO's Solana: there will be no second-class membership

NATO's Secretary-General, Javier Solana, has responded to Polish fears that the alliance would only offer second-class membership to new European members to appease Russian opposition to expansion plans. After a meeting last week with Polish President Alexander Kwasniewski, Mr Solana stressed that "there won't be any second class members" as NATO expands into formerly Soviet territories.

The Secretary-General also said the Helsinki summit between US leader Bill Clinton and Russian President Boris Yeltsin boosted optimism over the relationship between NATO and Russia, as well as the possibilities of reaching an accord between the two before a NATO summit in July launches its expansion project.

Slovakia accuses Hungary of causing dam dispute

Slovakia has accused Hungary of causing a long-running dispute over a hydroelectric power project on the River Danube by failing to honour legal commitments under a bilateral treaty.

Foreign ministry lawyer Peter Tomka told the International Court of Justice that Hungary had invoked environmental concerns to obscure legal issues at the heart of the dispute. He said the case primarily concerned Hungary's failure to carry out its obligation under a 1977 treaty.

Hungary completely pulled out of the project to build a dam in 1992, claiming that it would cause environmental damage. Slovakia is seeking damages from Hungary.

Czech Republic's Claus hits out at economy critics

Premier Vaclav Klaus has rebuffed criticism of the Czech Republic's economy, following his budgets slide into a sharp deficit in February. He described media complaints as simplified and biased, and accused the media of presenting selective, one-sided economic data while ignoring more favourable indicators.

Gale winds kill six in Poland

At least six people were killed when gale winds of up to 75 MPH hit several parts of Poland, uprooting trees and tearing roofs from buildings. The gale also knocked out power and telephone lines.

Wax effigies of Stalin and Khrushchev displayed in Prague

Wax figures of former Soviet leaders Joseph Stalin and Nikita Khrushchev went on display at the Prague Wax Museum in the Czech Republic last week. The owner of the museum purchased the two wax figures for about $7,000 each from Russia.

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