The Week Ahead: Hungary faces hardline revolt

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The Independent Online
THE rumbling faction fight in Hungary's biggest ruling party, the Democratic Forum, shows every sign of exploding into a messy split when hardline nationalists hold a demonstration on Friday against a recent accord with Ukraine. The demonstration in Budapest is expected to mark a new high-water mark in the rising tide of Hungarian nationalism.

The right-wing populist leader within the HDF, Istvan Csurka, objects to a friendship treaty approved last week under which Hungary renounces its territorial claim to the Transcarpathia region of Ukraine, which was acquired from Hungary by the Soviet Union.

Mr Csurka complains that the treaty amounts to a betrayal of the interests of 200,000 ethnic Hungarians living in the region. His critics accuse him of harbouring romantic dreams of a 'Great Hungary', taking in lands lost to neighbours over the last 100 years. Mr Csurka, who has long been at loggerheads with the HDF leadership, has led 28 MPs to form 'Hungarian Justice', a breakaway irredentist faction in parliament which runs the risk of being expelled from the HDF for its extreme views. Should this happen, the conservative ruling coalition would lose its majority and fall.

It is a year since the Rio summit on the environment, and Thursday is the deadline by which countries must sign the Biodiversity Treaty set up there. Signatories must list, monitor and protect endangered plant and animal species. President Bill Clinton says the US will sign - a boost for the green campaigners and an important volte-face from George Bush's grudging approach to environmental matters when president.

Other green initiatives this week include the imposition of tighter rules on the disposal of household waste in ecologically aware Germany. From tomorrow, all non-degradable material in Germany must be burnt rather than dumped. What, one wonders, about all those hydrocarbons floating up to the ozone layer? Also from tomorrow, the EC eco-label scheme gets under way. A large number of products must display a label detailing their 'green-ness'. The proposed eco-labelling has been widely criticised by environmental groups as not being strict enough.

A constituent assembly convenes in Moscow on Saturday to consider President Boris Yeltsin's constitutional reforms. The assembly will consist of two delegates from each of Russia's 88 regions and republics plus presidential appointees, representatives of parties, local government, trade unions, business and the academy of sciences. The proposed constitution would empower the president to dissolve parliament, appoint a cabinet and introduce a state of emergency. The posts of vice- president and speaker would be abolished. Mr Yeltsin hopes discussions will be completed within 10 days.

President Francois Mitterrand and his Gaullist Prime Minister, Edouard Balladur, try to paper over their political differences on Tuesday and Wednesday when they meet the German Chancellor Helmut Kohl for one of their regular summit meetings in the eastern French town of Beaune. Mr Kohl has dealt with a French 'cohabitation' government before, when Jacques Chirac was prime minister in the 1980s and says privately that he feels an old hand at it. The two countries will try to iron out differences on Yugoslavia, Gatt and the Schengen Agreement on free movement within nine EC states.

The crisis in former Yugoslavia will be on the mind of the Foreign Secretary, Douglas Hurd, who meets the French Foreign Minister, Alain Juppe, in Paris tomorrow before touring Eastern Europe until Friday. Mr Hurd will visit Romania, Bulgaria and the Macedonian Republic to discuss ways of making UN sanctions effective.

Leaders of the African National Congress and the South African government meet near Johannesburg on Wednesday and Thursday and are expected to announce the date for multi-party elections. The ANC has been champing at the bit for a date to be set, and says it will unilaterally announce an election date if agreement is not reached.

If you feel up to a bizarre challenge, Friday is the last chance to enter the competition run by the Iranian magazine Kayhan Havai for the best caricature of the writer Salman Rushdie who is under a death threat for his novel The Satanic Verses. The winner collects pounds 10,000 in gold coins.