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Hungary

Yearbook 1999

Hungary. On March 12, Hungary joined the NATO military alliance together with Poland and the Czech Republic. Almost two weeks later, NATO launched bombing of Yugoslavia to force its army to leave Kosovo. As the only NATO country with a border with Yugoslavia, Hungary was placed in a very sensitive situation. Prime Minister Viktor Orban explained that the country was not prepared to participate in any ground operation led by NATO in Yugoslavia. Nor was it intended to allow such an attack to originate in Hungarian territory. However, NATO's plan to use Hungarian airspace and its airports was allowed. But according to surveys, a clear majority of Hungarians were against this. There was also widespread concern that the more than 300,000 strong Hungarian minority in the North Yugoslav province of Vojvodina would be hit by NATO bombs. Several of the Hungarians there fled to Hungary in fear of Serbian reprisals following NATO's attack. Hungary also ended in diplomatic conflict with the Russian Federation after a Russian convoy with humanitarian aid to Serbia was stopped by Hungarian border guards who refused to pass through tankers with oil. For this, Hungary received praise from NATO for showing "absolute loyalty".

1999 Hungary

According to Countryaah official website, the war also created domestic political problems when the second leader of one of the coalition's parties declared that it was conceivable that Vojvodina would become an independent state. The other government rushed to dismiss the claim of fear that it might interfere with NATO's strategy. The opposition, for its part, said that the statement risked provoking attacks on ethnic Hungarians in Vojvodina and other neighboring countries.

The frosty relations between Hungary and Slovakia thawed somewhat through an agreement in September, when the two countries decided to jointly rebuild a bridge across the Danube border that has been razed since the Second World War.

At the end of the year, the opposition was very critical of the center-right government's plans to have, on New Year's Day 2000, reclaim an old royal crown as a symbol of the Hungarian state and move it from a museum to parliament. The Crown has belonged to King Stefan I, Hungary's national saint. The critics said that the proposal was reminiscent of a "crown cult" that existed during World War II's Hitler-allied Hungarian regime.

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