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Hungary: NATO Referendum Still Slated For Next Month

Budapest, 17 October 1997 (RFE/RL) - Hungarian Prime Minister Gyula Horn says the government intends to put only a NATO referendum on nationwide balloting planned for November 16.

Major opposition parties have been pressing for the referendum also to address their proposed ban on foreign ownership of Hungarian farmland. But Horn said at a news conference in Budapest today that could dampen Hungary's chances of integration in Europe.

Horn said the government will ask Parliament next week that the second part of the referendum, the question on land, be dropped.

The parliamentary vote will require a two-thirds majority for passage. The socialist-liberal coalition has a comfortable 72 percent majority in the House.

The opposition parties all favor Hungary joining NATO, a move opposed only by the communists, by the nationalist extreme right and small pacifist groups.

Voters will be asked to respond to the question: "Do you agree that the Hungarian Republic should ensure the country's defense by joining NATO?"