The Week Ahead: Hungary seeks shelter

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The Independent Online
HUNGARY is scared of being sucked into the civil war in Bosnia and wants to shelter under the protective umbrella of Nato while the war lasts.

When Hungary's Foreign Minister, Geza Jeszenszky, visits Nato headquarters in Brussels today demanding some form of security guarantee - troops, anti-aircraft missiles or a promise for Nato to come to Hungary's aid in the event of attack - both sides will have to step delicately.

Hungary has felt vulnerable since October when it allowed Nato surveillance planes to monitor Bosnian airspace from over Hungary. It fears an attack on its nuclear power station near the border with Serbia, and reprisals against 400,000 ethnic Hungarians in Serbia. Mr Jeszenszky worries that if the West decides to bomb Bosnian Serbs, then Nato's Awacs over Hungary will be guiding the bombing runs. MPs in Budapest warn they would insist on security guarantees before allowing this to happen.

Nato is unwilling to offer any protection to Eastern European countries eager to join the alliance and has told Hungary it will have to be satisfied with that offered by the UN Charter. Nato thinks the risk of an attack on Hungary is minimal and that giving missiles or guarantees could act as a provocation to Belgrade just as Serbia is apparently supporting Western efforts to end the war. It could also upset Russia and strengthen hardliners in Moscow, Nato argues.

Russia itself is looking forward to a UN Security Council foreign ministers' meeting in New York on Friday to discuss the proliferation of UN peace- keeping operations. The meeting, called by Russia, will be chaired by the Russian Foreign Minister, Andrei Kozyrev. Russia's ambassador to the UN, Yuli Vorontsov, says the finances of UN peace-keeping forces are in crisis.

The US and the Europeans are apprehensive because they know it will be difficult to avoid talking about the war in Bosnia-Herzegovina. They fear the meeting may expose embarrassing policy differences and that non-aligned states may press for military intervention.

The German Finance Minister, Theo Waigel, who is also chairman of Bavaria's Christian Social Union (CSU), makes an intervention of his own today when he pleads with his party leaders not to back their favoured candidate, Edmund Stoiber, as Bavarian premier.

Mr Waigel regards Mr Stoiber as too right wing, but local leaders of the CSU, the sister party of Bonn's ruling Christian Democrats, welcome his hard line on immigration and crime. They think this is how to stop voters drifting to the far-right Republican party.

The signs are that tomorrow's second Danish referendum on the Maastricht treaty on European union may this time deliver a 'yes' vote. The Spanish general election campaign opens formally on Friday with a rally in a Valencia bullring addressed by Felipe Gonzalez, the Socialist Prime Minister, who for the first time in more than 10 years is worried about losing.

There is more nervousness about the elections in Cambodia which start on Sunday for five days. They are the first multi-party polls after more than 20 years of war and revolution, but the boycott by the Khmer Rouge throws the whole UN-orchestrated exercise into doubt.

The third round of Sino-British talks on Hong Kong opens in Peking on Friday until Sunday. As before, the focus will be on proposals to introduce democratic reforms in future elections to Hong Kong's legislature in 1994 and 1995.

Europe's biggest gypsy festival, the Camargue, opens in Les Saintes-Maries-de-la-Mer, Provence, on Sunday, the day on which the Monaco Grand Prix takes place in Monte Carlo. Elizabeth Taylor hosts a gala benefit evening in Cannes on Thursday, to promote safe sex, for those who can afford it: tickets cost dollars 5,000.