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Slovakia: Hungary Believes It Will Prevail In Dam Case

Bratislava, 2 May 1997 (RFE/RL) - Hungarian officials believe they will prevail in the Gabcikovo dam case, now before the International Court in the Hague.

"We think we have made our case well and have good legal arguments," a Hungarian Foreign Ministry official said. The official spoke with our correspondent in Bratislava this week.

Slovakia and Hungary has each presented its case in arguments before the Court last month. Court judges, in an unprecedented visit to a site, traveled to Hungary and Slovakia at the beginning of April, and are now deliberating.

A decision from the Hague could come within six months, officials say.

The Gabcikovo-Nagymaros hydro-electric project began in the late 1980's, as officials from the former Czechoslovakia and Hungary jointly agreed to build a hydro-electric power station. But, when a section of the Danube River was diverted, the Hungarians complained, citing environmental concerns. Hungary withdrew from the project and filed a complaint with the International Court in 1992. Slovakia assumed responsibility for the project after the split into the Czech Republic and Slovakia.

This week, a Hungarian official told RFE/RL that Budapest would like the Court to decide Slovakia's action was "one-sided," illegal, and that the border was changed as a result.

Asked about monetary compensation, the Hungarian official said that would be the subject of further negotation between the sides, after the Court hands down a decision.

Attempts to settle the issue out of court this year, before hearings began in the Hague, failed.