- The Washington Times - Thursday, November 14, 2002

A little miracle
One of the leaders of Hungary's conservative opposition party is hoping for a miracle but not for the next election.
Zsolt Nemeth of the Hungarian Civic Party yesterday predicted his party will take back the government from the ruling ex-communist Socialist Party in 2006. Then he will hope for the miracle.
"The miracle would be that a party is re-elected in Hungary," he told editors and reporters at The Washington Times. "In Central Europe, this is the rule: The political pendulum swings from left to right and back."
Slovakia is the only Central European nation that has re-elected a government since the fall of communism, he said.
The Hungarian Socialists won 178 seats in the 386-seat parliament in the April elections. They rule in a coalition with the Alliance of Free Democrats, which holds 20 seats. The Hungarian Civic Party won 164 seats, and the Hungarian Democratic Forum holds 24.
Because of proportional representation, the opposition claimed nearly half of the committee chairmanships, and Mr. Nemeth heads the foreign relations panel.
He said the nearly equal division between left and right is a sign of maturity for Hungarian politics.
"This is a stable, bipolar political system," he said.
Mr. Nemeth is in Washington this week on behalf of his party chief, former Prime Minister Viktor Orban, who received the Reagan-Truman award from the Victims of Communism organization.
He complained that his party is frequently portrayed in the international press as an extremist group hostile toward immigration and said The Times is one of the few papers that has reported objectively about his party.
"The international media has a left-liberal bias," he said. "We take this for granted."

Fixing Bolivia
Bolivian President Gonzalo Sanchez de Lozada yesterday pledged to dig his country out of its crippling debt burden and help the Andean region increase trade with the United States.
Mr. Sanchez de Lozada told financiers and diplomats at the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) that his new government will "do all it can do to help Bolivia improve economically."
He appealed for help from the IDB and the World Bank and also promised to work to help the neighboring countries of Colombia, Ecuador and Peru increase their exports to the United States, our correspondent Vance Whitfield reports.
Bolivia, one of South America's poorest countries, has a foreign debt of about $5 billion, more than half of its gross domestic product.
"The only constant element that has been stable in Bolivia has been its democracy for the last 20 years," Mr. Sanchez de Lozada said.

Baltic Stingers
The U.S. ambassador to Lithuania yesterday praised the Baltic nation after it signed an agreement to purchase $31 million worth of U.S. anti-aircraft missiles.
"In this area, and in so many other areas, Lithuania continues to lead he way among NATO-aspirant countries," Ambassador John Tefft said.
Lithuania is one of seven Eastern and Central European countries expected to join the trans-Atlantic alliance at this month's NATO summit in the Czech Republic.
Lithuanian Defense Minister Linas Linkevicius signed the deal on behalf of his government for the purchase of 60 Stinger missiles, related equipment and training.
"What we are doing here lays the foundation for our activities once we are invited [to join NATO]," he told reporters.
He said Lithuania plans to develop a modern anti-aircraft unit to meet NATO standards by 2006.
"These will be NATO forces, but located in Lithuania and directly involved in our own national defense," he said.

Garza confirmed
The Senate this week confirmed Texas railroad commissioner Antonio Garza Jr. to serve as ambassador to Mexico.
Mr. Garza is a close friend of President Bush and served as Texas secretary of state when Mr. Bush was governor. He frequently traveled with Mr. Bush on official trips to Mexico.
Mr. Garza, in his confirmation hearings, said he believes illegal immigrants working in the United States should be able to earn guest-worker status. Mr. Bush has endorsed a similar proposal.

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