News



DATE=4/14/98
TYPE=CORRESPONDENT REPORT
NUMBER=2-229614
TITLE=CZECH / NATO (L)
BYLINE=ART CHIMES
DATELINE=PRAGUE
CONTENT=
VOICED AT: 

INTRO:  THE PARLIAMENT IN THE CZECH REPUBLIC HAS OPENED DEBATE ON
NATO ENLARGEMENT.  V-O-A CENTRAL EUROPE CORRESPONDENT ART CHIMES 
REPORTS FROM  PRAGUE.

TEXT:  FREQUENT OPINION SURVEYS HAVE MEASURED THE CZECH PUBLIC'S 
SUPPORT FOR NATO MEMBERSHIP, BUT THE VOTE IN PARLIAMENT IS THE 
ONE THAT COUNTS.

APPROVAL OF THE NATO TREATY IS EXPECTED BY A WIDE MARGIN.  ONLY 
THE COMMUNISTS AND THE RIGHT-WING REPUBLICAN PARTY OPPOSE THE 
TREATY, WHICH WOULD MAKE THE CZECH REPUBLIC, POLAND AND HUNGARY 
THE FIRST POST-COMMUNIST COUNTRIES TO JOIN THE ALLIANCE.

SURVEYS INDICATE THE CZECH PUBLIC ALSO SUPPORTS NATO MEMBERSHIP, 
BUT BY A SMALLER MARGIN THAN CITIZENS OF THE TWO OTHER CANDIDATE 
COUNTRIES.  THE LATEST POLLS HERE INDICATE SUPPORT RUNNING AT 
ABOUT 60-PERCENT.

SUPPORTERS SAY THAT AFTER FOUR DECADES OF COMMUNIST RULE, WHICH 
FOLLOWED NAZI DOMINATION IN WORLD WAR TWO, THE COUNTRY NEEDS THE 
PROTECTION OF ITS STRONG NEIGHBORS TO THE WEST.  TROUBLES IN THE 
BALKANS, THEY SAY, SHOW THAT EUROPE IS STILL A DANGEROUS PLACE.  

THE POINT WAS MADE AT A PRO-NATO RALLY JUST BEFORE PARLIAMENT 
CONVENED.  IN THE SQUARE IN FRONT OF PRAGUE CASTLE WERE GATHERED 
SOVIET AND NAZI TANKS, TRUCKS, AND OTHER ARMY VEHICLES, MANNED BY
ACTORS IN UNIFORM.

AN ORGANIZER OF THE DEMONSTRATION -- FILM PRODUCER VACLAV MARHOUL
-- SAID THE ORGANIZERS DO  NOT  EXPECT TO CHANGE ANY VOTES IN 
PARLIAMENT.  THEY JUST WANT TO REMIND PEOPLE WHAT'S AT STAKE.

                   ///  MARHOUL ACTUALITY  ///

         TWO TIMES IN OUR HISTORY, TWO TIMES THOSE OCCUPATION 
         ARMIES CROSSED OUR BORDER, THEY CAME HERE AND THEY KILL 
         CZECH PEOPLE.  AND WE WOULD LIKE TO REFRESH THE MEMORY 
         OF THE PEOPLE HERE.

                     ///  END ACTUALITY  ///

BUT OPPONENTS SAY THAT WITH THE END OF THE COLD WAR, THE ALLIANCE
IS  NO  LONGER NEEDED, AND ITS EXPANSION COULD BE SEEN AS A 
PROVOCATION IN MOSCOW.  THEY ALSO SAY THE COST WILL BE TOO HIGH 
-- INCLUDING UPGRADING MILITARY EQUIPMENT AND TRAINING.  

NATO WAS FORMED 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/KL

14-Apr-98 3:10 PM EDT (1910 UTC)
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Source: Voice of America
.