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RFE/RL NEWSLINE

RFE/RL NEWSLINE Vol 3, No. 65, Part II, 2 April 1999


________________________________________________________
RFE/RL NEWSLINE Vol 3, No. 65, Part II, 2 April 1999

A daily report of developments in Eastern and
Southeastern Europe, Russia, the Caucasus and Central
Asia prepared by the staff of Radio Free Europe/Radio
Liberty.

This is Part II, a compilation of news concerning
Central, Eastern, and Southeastern Europe.  Part I
covers Russia, Transcaucasia and Central Asia and is
distributed simultaneously as a second document.  Back
issues of RFE/RL NewsLine and the OMRI Daily Digest are
online at RFE/RL's Web site:
http://www.rferl.org/newsline

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Headlines, Part II

* BELARUS SUSPENDS CONTACTS WITH NATO

* SERBS STEP UP DEPORTATIONS

* BRITAIN: MILOSEVIC PREPARING COUP IN MONTENEGRO

End Note: NATO'S EMBRACE OF FORMER ENEMIES
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EAST-CENTRAL EUROPE

BELARUS SUSPENDS CONTACTS WITH NATO. Foreign Ministry
spokesman Mikalay Barysevich said on 1 April that
Belarus has recalled its permanent mission from NATO
headquarters in Brussels and will suspend its
participation in the Partnership for Peace program. In
response to NATO's air strikes against Yugoslavia,
Belarus has broken off bilateral contacts with the U.S.
and other NATO members. It has also evacuated 18 of the
19 Belarusian observers from the OSCE monitoring mission
in Kosova. JM

OSCE, U.S. URGE BELARUS TO FREE OPPOSITION LEADER. OSCE
Chairman Knut Vollebaek on 1 April called on Belarus to
immediately release former Prime Minister Mikhail
Chyhir, who is a candidate in the alternative
presidential elections (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 1 April
1999). Vollebaek said Chyhir's arrest is an "unjustified
political maneuver against the opposition, designed to
quash its presidential election efforts." U.S. State
Department spokesman James Rubin on 31 March expressed
"deep concern" over the situation in Belarus. He urged
Minsk to release Chyhir and appealed to the Belarusian
authorities to start a "constructive and equal dialogue"
with the opposition. JM

RUKH APPOINTS ACTING CHAIRMAN. Following the death of
Vyacheslav Chornovil in a car accident (see "RFE/RL
Newsline," 26 March 1999), former Foreign Minister
Hennadiy Udovenko has been appointed acting chairman of
the Popular Rukh of Ukraine, Ukrainian Television
reported on 31 March. Udovenko, who is Rukh's candidate
in the upcoming presidential elections, was granted a
Rukh membership card at the same time as his election,
since until now he has had no party affiliation. UNIAN
reported that Udovenko was also elected leader of the
Rukh parliamentary caucus. Meanwhile, a group that split
away from Rukh and is led by Yuriy Kostenko (see "RFE/RL
Newsline," 1 March 1999) has announced it will sue the
Justice Ministry for its decision to recognize the
Udovenko-led Rukh as the only legitimate successor to
the party originally set up by Chornovil. JM

TURKMENISTAN SUPPLIES GAS TO UKRAINE, DESPITE DEBT.
Berdymurad Redzhepov, head of the Turkmenneftegaz state
company, told ITAR-TASS on 1 April that Turkmenistan
will continue gas deliveries to Ukraine, despite the
latter's growing debt. The contract between Ukraine and
Turkmenistan envisages the delivery of 20 billion cubic
meters of gas in 1999. Redzhepov was speaking in
response to Ukrainian Prime Minister Valeriy
Pustovoytenko's announcement that Ukraine may suspend
its Turkmen gas imports because it cannot afford them
(see "RFE/RL Newsline," 31 March 1999). JM

GEORGIAN FOREIGN MINISTER IN UKRAINE. During his three-
day state visit to Kyiv from 30 March to 1 April, Irakli
Menagharishvili met with his Ukrainian counterpart,
Borys Tarasyuk, President Leonid Kuchma, parliamentary
speaker Oleksandr Tkachenko, and Premier Pustovoytenko,
ITAR-TASS and Caucasus Press reported. Topics discussed
included implementation of previously signed agreements
on expanding bilateral relations, the TRACECA transport
corridor, and the transportation of Caspian oil to
international markets via the Odessa-Brody pipeline.
Menagharishvili described the Ukrainian export route for
Caspian oil as the most realistic one, Ukrainian
Television reported on 31 March. Special focus was also
given to expanding cooperation within the GUAM alignment
(Georgia, Ukraine, Azerbaijan, and Moldova). Georgia has
advocated developing a free trade agreement and economic
security system between the four GUAM countries,
Caucasus Press reported on 30 March. LF

ANTI-NATO PICKETS CONTINUE IN TALLINN, RIGA. An
estimated 200 ethnic Russian youths took part in an
unsanctioned rally outside the U.S. embassy in Tallinn
on 1 April, ETA reported. Police blocked access to the
embassy, and the protestors retreated from the area.
Meanwhile, a smaller group continued its protests
outside the U.S. embassy in Riga. Most members of that
group are elderly ethnic Russians, LETA reported. JC

LATVIAN GDP GREW 3.6 PERCENT LAST YEAR. Quoting the head
of the Central Statistical Office, "Diena" reported on 1
April that GDP grew by 3.6 percent in Latvia last year.
Original forecasts had put that figure at 4-6 percent,
but following the August economic crisis in Russia, GDP
sank by 11.9 percent in the fourth quarter. The Ministry
of Finance predicts growth at 2 percent this year, while
the Bank of Latvia puts the figure at 3 percent. Also on
1 April, following a meeting with the president,
premier, and parliamentary chairman, Foreign Minister
Valdis Birkavs announced that his ministry will inform
international institutions about Russia's unfair trade
practices against Latvia in the banking sector as well
as with regard to customs and railway tariffs, LETA
reported. JC

LITHUANIAN PRESIDENT NOMINATES OMBUDSMAN... Valdas
Adamkus on 1 April issued a decree nominating Audrius
Rudys, a financial consultant and a member of the Social
Democratic Party, for the post of ombudsman, LETA
reported. Adamkus said he decided on Rudys for the post
after meeting with representatives of the parliamentary
factions. The ruling Conservatives have expressed their
opposition to Rudys's nomination on the grounds of his
party membership. Under Lithuanian law, an official must
cease to be a member of a party on taking up a position
within the State Control Department. JC

...TO MEET WITH LANDSBERGIS. Adamkus is scheduled to
meet with parliamentary chairman Vytautas Landsbergis on
2 April to discuss the political situation in the
country, ELTA reported. Originally, a meeting between
the president, the parliamentary chairman, and Premier
Gediminas Vagnorius was planned, at the initiative of
Landsbergis. The Lithuanian news agency quoted a
spokesman for Vagnorius as saying that the premier would
not attend the meeting because there had been no such
arrangement between himself and the president. Officials
from the President's Office, meanwhile, told BNS that
plans for the three-way meeting have been shelved for
the time being and that Adamkus doubts whether such a
"get-together" would be "constructive" under present
circumstances. JC

POLES SUE GERMANY FOR TIME SPENT IN NAZI CAMPS. Some
22,000 Poles have filed a nearly 2 billion mark ($1.1
billion) lawsuit against the Federal Republic of Germany
for time spent by them in Nazi concentration camps
during World War II, dpa reported on 1 April. Dieter
Wissgott, a German lawyer representing the claimants,
said he expects a quick decision. "We are demanding that
the justice system take action and do something that the
legislative branch has failed to do," he commented. The
2 April "Rzeczpospolita" reported that Polish lawyers
doubt whether a German court will support the claim.
Under Germany's 1956 compensation law, Polish nationals
are excluded from those entitled to compensation and
1969 is set as the deadline for filing compensation
claims. JM

NEARLY HALF OF ALL POLES SUPPORT NATO'S STRIKES IN
YUGOSLAVIA. According to a poll held by the CBOS center
in late March, 48 percent of Poles believe that NATO's
intervention in Yugoslavia is justified, while 36
percent oppose it and 16 percent are undecided. However,
only 32 percent of the respondents said Polish troops
should take part in the intervention, while 54 percent
were opposed to such participation. JM

CZECH FOREIGN MINISTER 'WARNS' PRAGUE AMBASSADOR TO
NATO...Jan Kavan has "warned" ambassador to NATO Karel
Kovanda in connection with the latter's criticism of
statements made by Czech politicians on the NATO air
strikes (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 1 April 1999). Foreign
Ministry spokesman Ales Pospisil told CTK on 1 April
that Kavan "reminded Kovanda" that he is a state
official who "has to represent the government's
interests." The ambassador "accepted the warning that
his remaining in post would be untenable if a similar
incident occurs in the future," Pospisil added. MS

...WHLE HAVEL COMMENTS ON REPRIMAND. President Vaclav
Havel on 1 April said he considers the incident
involving Kovanda as "solved by the reprimand" and that
Kovanda "acted disloyally" when he first informed the
public, rather than the government, about criticism at
NATO headquarters of the Czech Republic's position, CTK
reported. Havel added, however, that "a civil servant
cannot be denied the right to freedom of expression."
Speaking after a meeting with Milos Zeman, Havel said he
and the premier have "identical positions" on the
strikes, which, he said, "must prevent violence and a
humanitarian catastrophe and bring the sides back to the
negotiating table." Zeman said in the parliament on 1
April that NATO is a democratic institution and not a
"Warsaw Pact" requiring "monolithism." NATO is "not
opposed to the expression of varied opinions," Zeman
said in response to opposition criticism of the
cabinet's position on the strikes. MS

GOVERNMENT INVESTIGATING REPORTS ON TAMARA ANTI-RADAR
SYSTEM IN YUGOSLAVIA. Defense Ministry spokesman Milan
Repka told CTK on 1 April that the ministry is trying to
trace dozens of "surplus" Tamara anti-aircraft systems,
following a German report that the Yugoslavs are using
that system against NATO aircraft. Repka said the
ministry was not able to verify whether such systems
have been re-exported by countries that bought them.
Before 1990, the system was exported to Warsaw Pact
countries. A former employee of Tesla, which produced
Tamara, told CTK that if the system is in Yugoslavia, it
can be operated only by Russian experts trained in the
Czech Republic. MS

SLOVAKIA, GREECE WANT END TO NATO STRIKES. Visiting
Slovak Deputy Prime Minister Pavol Hamzik and Greek
Foreign Minister George Papandreou told journalists in
Athens on 1 April that their countries have a similar
view on the necessity to put an end to NATO air strikes
and find a political solution acceptable to both sides
involved in the Kosova conflict, AP reported. Hamzik
said that people "are perishing irrespective of whether
bombs are being dropped on Serbs or Kosovar Albanians"
and that "military operations are only speeding up
ethnic cleansing in Kosova." MS

HUNGARIAN EMBASSY IN BELGRADE 'SUSPENDS ACTIVITY' AFTER
ATTACKS. Foreign Ministry spokesman Gabor Horvath on 1
April said the Hungarian embassy in Belgrade has
"suspended activities" and evacuated the two technicians
who stayed behind after diplomats were withdrawn earlier
this week. Earlier that day, a group of about 50 people
attacked the embassy, smashing windows, damaging the
facade, and threatening personnel. The ministry has
filed a protest with the Yugoslav embassy in Budapest.
MSZ

SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE

SERBS STEP UP DEPORTATIONS. Serbian forces continue to
"systematically empty Prishtina at gunpoint," the BBC
reported on 2 April. The previous day, Serbs sent
thousands of refugees to the Macedonian border after
packing them into at least two trains. Serbian officials
took from the deportees money as well as passports and
other documents proving Yugoslav citizenship. In Geneva,
a spokeswoman for the United Nations High Commissioner
for Refugees said on 2 April that the situation has
reached "nightmare proportions." She noted that 40,000
Kosovars arrived on the Macedonian frontier the previous
day alone. She stressed that "people were...crammed onto
the trains like sardines." PM

REFUGEES FLOOD INTO ALBANIA. More than 22,000 refugees
crossed the border into Albania on 1 April, bringing the
total there to more than 120,000, representatives of the
UNHCR told Reuters in Tirana. A lack of transport has
slowed down plans to ease the chaotic situation in the
remote town of Kukes, which is swollen with 90,000
refugees. An OSCE spokesman said that "we urgently need
200 trucks to move these people elsewhere." To date, the
government has transported some 40,000 refugees out of
the border region aboard requisitioned buses. Deputy
Prime Minister Ilir Meta warned that "the overall number
[of refugees] will climb to 200,000 if things go on at
this rate." He added that aid and equipment is too slow
in arriving in the area. Meanwhile, some 700 refugees
arrived in Shkodra from Montenegro, Albanian public
television reported. FS

ALBANIA CALLS FOR HELP. Prime Minister Pandeli Majko
told local representatives of the IMF, the World Bank,
and the EU in Tirana on 1 April that his country needs
urgent help to support its trade balance. He warned that
the humanitarian catastrophe will turn into an economic
and financial crisis unless the international community
gives Albania financial support. Meanwhile, 16 planes
loaded with aid supplies arrived at Tirana airport at
the beginning of a major international air supply
operation. French Cooperation Minister Charles Jossein
promised to send four or five planeloads daily. An
Italian navy supply vessel laden with water-carrying
trucks and military field kitchens arrived in Durres,
Reuters reported. Sweden sent a plane loaded with
blankets, tents, and cans of drinking water. In Seattle,
William Gates Sr., who is the father of Microsoft's Bill
Gates, said that their family's foundation will donate
$1.5 million for Kosovar refugee relief. FS

BRITAIN: MILOSEVIC PREPARING COUP IN MONTENEGRO. British
Foreign Secretary Robin Cook said in London on 1 April
that Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic should not
try to destabilize the Montenegrin government of
President Milo Djukanovic: "Milosevic should know now
not to create trouble in Montenegro. He already is in
enough trouble himself. He does not have the resources
or the time to fight on another front. Do not think of
trying to open up another front in Montenegro." In
Washington, State Department spokesman James Rubin said:
"A Belgrade takeover in Montenegro would destroy the
most credible and potent democratic force in the Federal
Republic of Yugoslavia and have negative implications
throughout the region." The next day in London, a
Defense Ministry spokesman said: "We have evidence to
show that he is preparing a coup against Montenegro."
Milosevic recently replaced the top army commander in
Montenegro, where rumors of a coup have been rife for
some time (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 1 April 1999). PM

CLINTON TELLS MILOSEVIC TO RELEASE SOLDIERS. President
Bill Clinton on 1 April called on Milosevic to release
the three captured U.S. soldiers immediately. A Defense
Department spokesman said that the Yugoslav authorities
should treat the three as prisoners of war under the
terms of the Geneva Convention. He objected to plans of
the Yugoslav military to try the three before a military
court on 2 April, which he called a "kangaroo court."
Defense Secretary William Cohen said "there should not
be a trial. They should be entitled to have the Red
Cross or some other organization visit them. I think
it's very clear from the photographs at least one has
been beaten." Serbian officials say the three were
captured on 31 March on Serbian territory and may be
tried for espionage, which can carry the death penalty.
NATO officials maintain that the three were 2 miles
inside Macedonian territory. PM

DID VILLAGERS PLAY ROLE IN CAPTURE? Many of the people
who live in the area of Macedonia where NATO says the
three U.S. soldiers were captured are either ethnic
Serbs or pro-Serbian Macedonian nationalists, AP
reported on 1 April. Other soldiers told the news agency
that many of these locals often threw stones at or
showed other unfriendly attitudes toward U.S. military
vehicles after they recently were repainted from the
white of the former UN peacekeeping mission to a
military green. PM

MILOSEVIC 'HOSTS' RUGOVA. Serbian state-run television
reported on 1 April that "Milosevic has received
[Kosovar leader] Ibrahim Rugova in Belgrade. They
discussed the problems in [Kosova]. They came to a joint
stand on a mutual commitment to a political process and
[agreed] that problems can be resolved successfully and
in the long-term only through political means." The
footage also showed a document with both men's
signatures. It is unclear what is in the text. Serbian
police have been holding Rugova under "protection" in
Prishtina. PM

ALBANIAN GOVERNMENT, UCK DENOUNCE MEETING. A government
spokesman told Reuters on 1 April in Tirana that "if
Rugova has held this meeting of his own free will, then
he has acted in an irresponsible manner." But President
Rexhep Meidani said he has doubts that the meeting was
"genuine," adding that "it is hard to believe" that
Rugova would have met Milosevic unless he were under
duress. Kosova Liberation Army (UCK) leader Hashim Thaci
told public television in Tirana that Rugova's
participation in a meeting with Milosevic, if voluntary,
was tantamount to "treason." Thaci also said the UCK is
close to putting together a new Kosovar "government" in
which he will be prime minister. FS

ALBANIAN PREMIER SUGGESTS INDEPENDENCE FOR KOSOVA. Majko
told Reuters on 1 April that independence from
Yugoslavia has become a serious option for Kosova in
response to "one of the most radical ethnic cleansings
that the world has ever seen." He stressed that "this is
an option that can be discussed very clearly now." Asked
if Albania will support the UCK, he said "we will
support people who are suffering genocide. " FS

U.S. EXTENDS GUARANTEES TO CROATIA. Foreign Minister
Mate Granic said in Bonn on 1 April that unnamed U.S.
officials gave him guarantees of NATO support if the
conflict in Kosova spreads elsewhere in the region,
RFE/RL's South Slavic Service reported. During that same
recent trip to Washington, Secretary of State Madeleine
Albright told Granic that Croatia must reform its
election law if it wants to join NATO's Partnership for
Peace Program. Granic replied that he hopes that the
government and the opposition can agree on new
legislation within six weeks, "Novi List" reported. PM

ROMANIAN FOREIGN MINISTER ON KOSOVA CONFLICT. Andrei
Plesu told RFE/RL on 1 April that as a result of the
NATO intervention in Kosova, "we can expect...changes in
international law that will see us enter the next
millennium with a different legal background and a
different political philosophy than the one in place
today." Greek Defense Minster Akis Tsochatzopoulos told
journalists that in talks with his Romanian counterpart,
Victor Babiuc, there was agreement that the crisis in
Kosova necessitates a political solution guaranteeing
autonomy within existing borders and that military
intervention "cannot provide a lasting solution." Babiuc
said both sides "support the NATO action aimed at
stopping ethnic cleansing" and "ending the humanitarian
catastrophe we are now facing." Also on 1 April, the
government decided to grant Macedonia $600,000 in aid
for the Kosova refugees. MS

MOLDOVAN COMMUNISTS BLOCK PARLIAMENT RESOLUTION ON
KOSOVA. A special all-party parliamentary commission set
up to formulate a declaration on the Kosova conflict
failed to reach agreement on 1 April, RFE/RL's Chisinau
bureau reported. Vasile Nedelciuc, who was the
commission representative of the Party of Moldovan
Communists, opposed including in the draft a section
expressing "regret" that the Yugoslavs had "rejected the
peace accords, despite the efforts of the international
community" to persuade them to do so. MS

NATO OFFICIAL VISITS BULGARIA, ROMANIA. General Rupert
Smith, deputy commander of NATO's Allied Forces in
Europe, met with President Petar Stoyanov and Defense
Minister Georgi Ananiev in Sofia on 1 April, BTA
reported. Smith told Stoyanov that incidents such as the
landing on Bulgarian territory of two NATO missiles,
"will not reoccur." He and Ananiev agreed to "exchange
operative information" on NATO's actions to avoid the
recurrence of such incidents and to dispatch for this
purpose two liaison officers to the Bulgarian air staff.
Also on 1 April, Smith met in Bucharest with Defense
Minister Victor Babiuc, with whom he "exchanged views on
the present situation in Kosova," and with chief of
staff General Constantin Degeratu, Mediafax reported. MS

KOZLODUY INCREASES PRECAUTIONS AGAINST DEBRIS FROM
SERBIA. Kozloduy nuclear plant director Krasimir Nikolov
on 1 April said a floating barrier has been installed in
the River Danube to divert any possible oil slicks and
other debris from the nuclear plant, Reuters reported.
The cooling system of the plant's reactors use Danube
water, while Serbia's main oil terminals are at
Belgrade's industrial suburb of Pancevo. That area has
been targeted in several NATO bombardments and cruise-
missile strikes. MS

END NOTE

NATO'S EMBRACE OF FORMER ENEMIES

by Michael J. Jordan

	In the shadowy world of espionage, there is no fool-
proof system for preventing the betrayal of an Aldrich
Ames, Julius and Ethel Rosenberg, or, now, allegedly, of
Los Alamos scientist Wen Ho Lee, who has been accused of
leaking nuclear-warheads research to China. Such a
system would require the technology to read an
individual's thoughts.
	 So it was with a leap of faith last month that
NATO--which stared down the Soviet Union during 40 years
of the Cold War--admitted three ex-Soviet satellites as
new members: Hungary, Poland, and the Czech Republic.
This strategic embrace of former enemies, one decade
after the collapse of Communism, means that the three
countries' military and political elite are now privy to
NATO's deepest, darkest secrets. And though these
countries have purged most of their hard-line Communist
officials, their historical ties and geographic location
make them perhaps more vulnerable to infiltration than,
say, some NATO officials.
	Many Warsaw Pact military officers were trained in
places like Moscow and Kyiv. Trade relations at that
time were cozy with countries such as Iraq, Iran, and
Libya. Not surprisingly, then, when NATO officials speak
privately of "hostile" intelligence agencies, they
identify three regions--Russia, the Middle East, and the
Balkans--as the primary threats.
	 "There's still the residue of contacts and
relationships between Central Europe and those parts of
the world," said one NATO official in Budapest. "You can
presume that if Russia, for example, wished to seize
classified NATO material, it might be easier to do it
here than, say, in London or Paris."
	But there is a second side to this coin, says Tamas
Wachsler, a state secretary at the Hungarian Ministry of
Defense. "While these countries know us, we also know
them and their tactics," said Wachsler. "So from this
standpoint, NATO shouldn't view us as a deficit, but as
an asset."
	Today, much of what was once secret is now easily
accessible on the Internet. Yet the most sensitive NATO
data continue to be those on the alliance's weapons of
mass destruction, air-defense system, storage depots of
fuel and ammunition, and communication and
transportation systems.
	So despite their new status as "full and equal"
partners of NATO, the Central Europeans will learn NATO
secrets in line with the "need-to-know" principle. And
under instructions from NATO, each newcomer has taken
both legal and practical steps in recent months to do
what it can to prevent classified material from falling
into the wrong hands.
	According to NATO specifications, all three
established new systems for the handling of classified
material--such as secure telephone lines and storage
facilities--and a screening process for those who will
have access to such material. Candidates submit to a
rigorous questionnaire and interviews. These probe for
potential liabilities like family, financial, or
psychological problems that might expose the candidate
to bribery or blackmail.
	But after six years of intensive cooperation, NATO
officials already seemed satisfied with their new
partners. "It's like a marriage," said another Western
officer in Budapest.
"Hopefully, from that first day you have the same level
of trust, and it continues to grow.... If the trust and
confidence weren't there, they never would have been
invited to join."
	 When it the time comes to keep a NATO secret,
national pride will be at stake, according Lt. Gen.
Lajos Urban, the number two in Hungary's armed forces.
"We want to be seen as contributing to NATO's strength
and trusted as a new military ally," said Urban, who was
trained in Moscow during the communist era and in London
and Rome since 1989.
	A further motivation is to avoid the national
humiliation that befell France last November, when it
was revealed that a French major working at NATO
headquarters in Brussels had passed along to Serbia
NATO's plans for military strikes in Kosova.
	So, if even longtime NATO allies are vulnerable,
what about the Central Europeans, who continue to
unearth their share of skeletons? Polish Prime Minister
Jozef Oleksy, for example, resigned in January 1996 amid
charges he had been a long-time spy for the Soviet KGB.
The case was ultimately dropped for lack of evidence.
	Another issue is the fate of those Hungarian, Czech
and Polish agents who for years operated covertly in the
West. Are they still active, or have they found new
employers? Either way, it seems accepted as a given.
	"You think there aren't American agents in Paris or
French agents in London? Everybody still needs good
intelligence," said a third NATO official. "Why should
they stop? It's completely natural to want to confirm
information you receive. Yes, we're allies and partners,
but in other areas we're also competitors."
	The NATO neophytes will be under pressure not only
to meet NATO's expectations but to perform well enough
to enable a second wave of expansion eastward. "NATO has
never rejected an alliance member," said one of the NATO
officials in Budapest. "But if a member brought the
alliance into ill-repute or dragged it down, there's no
reason why we wouldn't."

The author is a U.S. journalist based in Budapest
(michaeljjordan@csi.com).

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