News



DATE=4/13/98
TYPE=CORRESPONDENT REPORT
NUMBER=2-229553
TITLE=CZECH / NATO (L ONLY)
BYLINE=ART CHIMES
DATELINE=PRAGUE
CONTENT=
VOICED AT: 

INTRO:  THE CZECH REPUBLIC'S PARLIAMENT IS TO MEET TUESDAY TO 
VOTE ON THE COUNTRY'S PROPOSED MEMBERSHIP IN NATO.  V-O-A 
CORRESPONDENT ART CHIMES IN PRAGUE REPORTS THE OUTCOME IS  NOT  
MUCH IN DOUBT.

TEXT:  MOST CZECH POLITICAL PARTIES SUPPORT NATO MEMBERSHIP, SO 
PARLIAMENT WILL ALMOST CERTAINLY ENDORSE THE TREATY. 

ONLY THE COMMUNISTS AND THE RIGHT-WING REPUBLICAN PARTY OPPOSE 
NATO MEMBERSHIP.  THE LEFTIST SOCIAL DEMOCRATS HAD BEEN CALLING 
FOR A PUBLIC REFERENDUM, BUT THEY HAVE SINCE CHANGED THEIR MIND.

ACCORDING TO THE LATEST POLLS, CZECH CITIZENS ALSO SUPPORT NATO 
MEMBERSHIP, BUT  NOT  OVERWHELMINGLY.  RECENT SURVEYS DIFFER, BUT
SUGGEST SUPPORT IS AROUND 60 PERCENT.

IN THE TWO OTHER CANDIDATE COUNTRIES, POLAND AND HUNGARY, POPULAR
SUPPORT IS HIGHER.  IN ALL THREE THE REASONS FOR BACKING NATO 
MEMBERSHIP ARE SIMILAR -- SECURITY IN AN UNCERTAIN WORLD, AND THE
INTANGIBLE APPEAL OF BEING PART OF A MAJOR WESTERN INSTITUTION 
AFTER THE TRAUMA OF WORLD WAR TWO FOLLOWED BY FOUR DECADES OF 
COMMUNIST RULE.

BUT NATO EXPANSION HAS ITS SHARE OF CRITICS, TOO .  OPPONENTS 
CITE THE COST OF MEMBERSHIP -- INCLUDING THE SUBSTANTIAL 
UPGRADING OF MILITARY TRAINING AND EQUIPMENT -- AS ONE REASON  
NOT  TO JOIN.  ALSO, THEY SAY THAT WITH THE COLLAPSE OF THE 
SOVIET UNION, NATO IS A COLD WAR RELIC WHOSE ENLARGEMENT COULD BE
A PROVOCATION. 

NATO WAS CREATED IN 1949 AS A MUTUAL DEFENSE AGREEMENT AMONG 
DEMOCRACIES IN WESTERN EUROPE AND NORTH AMERICA.  ITS 16 CURRENT 
MEMBERS -- AND ANY THAT JOIN IN THE FUTURE -- AGREE TO REGARD AN 
ATTACK ON ONE AS AN ATTACK ON ALL.

BECAUSE THE NATO ORGANIZATION IS BASED ON A TREATY, ALL CURRENT 
AS WELL AS PROSPECTIVE MEMBERS MUST RATIFY THE EXPANSION.  
SEVERAL HAVE ALREADY DONE SO.  A VOTE IN THE U-S SENATE IS 
EXPECTED LATER THIS MONTH.  (SIGNED)

NEB/ART/JWH

13-Apr-98 6:04 AM EDT (1004 UTC)
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Source: Voice of America
.