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Hungary: President Calls For Regional Amity

Prague, 4 August 1997 (RFE/RL) - Hungarian President Arpad Goncz says the Hungarian state regards as insignificant an attempt last week by a Romanian city official to block the raising of the Hungarian flag over a Hungarian consulate.

At a press conference Saturday at the headquarters of RFE/RL during what he said is a private visit to Prague, Goncz said Hungary also has what he called "extreme nationalists." Responding to questioners from across Eastern and Central Europe, Goncz called for friendship and cooperation in the region.

He reiterated Hungary's support for Romania's eventual accession to NATO and said his government will do everything in its power to bring Slovakia into position to join NATO and the European Union. He said he also supports NATO-Ukrainian cooperation, in part to bolster Ukraine's independence as a sovereign state.

Goncz said Hungary's eagerness to become part of Western institutions such as NATO and the EU is unlikely to change regardless of the outcome of national elections scheduled for May of next year. He said this policy is supported by all seven major political parties and by the people.

The Hungarian president was in Prague to speak at commencement ceremonies at Charles University for 113 students attending a three-week symposium of the American Institute on Political and Economic Studies.

(See related story: Romania/Hungary: Analysis From Washington--Managing NATO Enlargement)