AN INTERVIEW WITH PRIME MINISTER OF HUNGARY PETER MEDDIESI IN THE WAKE OF FIRST VISIT TO MOSCOW IN SEVEN YEARS

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AN INTERVIEW WITH PRIME MINISTER OF HUNGARY PETER MEDDIESI IN THE WAKE OF FIRST VISIT TO MOSCOW IN SEVEN YEARS

Izvestia, December 24, 2002, pp. 1-2

Question: How would you evaluate your meeting with President Vladimir Putin?

Peter Meddiesi: The conversation was fine, right from the very beginning when the president said that he recognized the attitude of the new government of Hungary and its intention to build new relations with Russia.

Question: Unlike the previous government, you and your Cabinet plan to restore relations with Moscow. Do you think it possible, at least in the nearest future? The “Nepsabadsag” wrote that “A breakthrough is unlikely”, because of the numerous problems between Moscow and Budapest having accumulated over the 1990’s.

Peter Meddiesi: I see it in a different light. Contacts made in the Soviet era are not to be restored. It was a different regime and a different world then. I was stunned by all the changes I saw in Moscow. I would like my compatriots to see them too.

Question: Would you say that Eastern Europe countries’ dislike of Russia and Moscow is dwindling, and that emotions are giving way to pragmatism?

Peter Meddiesi: I do not think that mind and emotions are antagonists. Mind says that Russia is a vast and dynamically evolving market, where numerous changes are taking place. These days, we are dealing with circumstances and conditions having nothing to do with the Soviet past, the source of all dislike in the first place. There is a rational attitude towards businesses and partners, but it does not define everything. There should be contacts on a deeper level, more personal ones. Why can two men not meet and drink a glass of some Hungarian wine? Or even vodka? And the conversation will flow. Two hundred businessmen, half of them Hungarians and the other half Russians, met at a dinner yesterday. I did not have anything to tell them, I merely had to bring them together.

Question: How will the question of Russian debts to Hungary be solved? The sum total of the debt amounted to $1.7 billion, and Hungary received half of the sum as MIG-29 aircraft back in 1993. How will Russia pay the other half now?

Peter Meddiesi: The rest of the debt amounts to only $260 million. Not so much. The president and I decided that the subject would be closed in the near future. I would prefer cash of course. We will discuss all the rest.

ZELIMKHAN YANDARBIYEV’S ARCHIVES FOUND

Izvestia, December 24, 2002, p. 2

The operation in Starye Atagi (Grozny district of Chechnya) began on December 9. It was the first operation of this sort mounted mostly by Chechen OMON. Chechen police officers have detained over 20 men already but the operation proceeded without any serious incidents. The first casualty was reported on Sunday, when two unidentified men wounded a policeman.

Chechen Interior Minister Ruslan Tsakayev: On December 21, in one of the buildings of the household that had belonged to ex-president Zelimkhan Yandarbiyev one of our men discovered a hiding place in the concrete floor. There were eight video tapes, blank passports, documents of the parliament of the unrecognized republic, samples of Chechen banknotes the separatists wanted printed somewhere and put into circulation…

Police officers also found a map that belonged to the military commissar of Ichkeria, Yandarbiyev’s papers, a letter from ex-president of Georgia Zviad Gamsakhurdia, and Wahhabi literature.

Ilya Shabalkin, a spokesman for regional operational headquarters of the counter-terrorism operation, says that the OMON officers were alerted to the presence of the archives by one of the locals. The villager informed the military, who decided to turn over the operation to the Chechen police.

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