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Hungary/Romania: Council Officials Meeting Presidents Today

Prague, 26 May 1997 (RFE/RL) - The Council of Europe's two highest officials are due to have discussions later today in Bucharest with the presidents of Romania and Hungary.

Council Secretary General Daniel Tarschys and Leni Fischer, president of the organizations's Parliamentary Assembly, will hold what Council officials call a "four-way meeting" with Emil Constantinescu and Arpad Goncz.

The two Council officials will be also be received separately by Constantinescu.

Council officials tell our correspondent that the meeting with the two presidents, announced over the weekend, is intended to convey the organization's belief that Goncz's visit to Romania constitutes an important step toward democratic stability in Europe.

Goncz arrived in Bucharest yesterday on the first official visit by a Hungarian president to Romania in two decades. Romania's President Constantinescu told Goncz that relations between their two countries, long strained, are now a "model" for others.

Journalists quoted Constantinescu as saying the present relations would have been "inconceivable" a few years ago. He said he wanted to discuss with Goncz a plan to increase security by links among Romania, Hungary and Austria. Goncz said Budapest will do all it can for Romania to be included in the first wave of acceptances into NATO and the European Union.

U.S. Congressman Tom Lantos, who is also visiting, gave the two leaders a message from President Bill Clinton, praising Goncz's "historic" visit.

Meanwhile, the Romanian government's representative in the Transylvanian city of Cluj banned any anti-Hungarian demonstrations there this weekend.

The nationalist mayor of Cluj, Gheorghe Funar, as well as the anti-Hungarian "Romanian Cradle" organization, had planned to organize protests to coincide with the visit by Goncz. Funar send a letter of protest against the decision to Prime Minister Ciorbea.

In a related development, the Romanian government announced that it is about to submit to parliament a legal amendment which will allow national minorities to use their mother tongue in addressing local government authorities in places where they make up more than 20 percent of the population. This has long been one of the demands of The Hungarian Democratic Alliance of Romania, the organization representing the interests of most of Romania's ethnic Hungarians. It is now a member of the ruling coalition.