Romania, Hungary to Sign Pact Ending Decades of Animosity: Treaty Could Ease Entry into NATO, European Union

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Romania and Hungary will end more than a century of hostility Monday by signing a treaty to protect minorities and recognize each other's borders.

The treaty, to be signed in Timisoara, Romania, will clear one of the obstacles blocking admission of the two former Soviet bloc nations into the European Union and NATO, said Romanian Ambassador Mircea Dan Geoana.

"The previous Hungarian government, before 1994, put priority on supporting the ethnic Hungarians in Romania and less on joint integration in Europe and with neighboring countries," Mr. Geoana said in an interview yesterday.

He recalled that former Hungarian Prime Minister Peter Boross, whose conservative coalition was defeated in 1994 by Socialist Gyula Horn, had called himself the leader of 15 million Hungarians - the 10 million in Hungary and 5 million expatriates.

Fear of ethnic conflict in Central Europe has been one of the biggest obstacles to membership in NATO and the EU for both Romania and Hungary.

While the Czechs and Slovaks separated peacefully in the "Velvet Divorce" in 1992, ethnic separation in Yugoslavia led to war in Bosnia, Croatia and Serbia.

"The new government in Hungary is totally changed," Mr. Geoana said. "It still tries to be supportive of the ethnic groups in neighboring countries but puts emphasis on developing good, friendly relations with its neighbors."

Hungary alarmed several of its neighbors in July when, along with Hungarian representatives from surrounding countries, it signed a declaration that appeared to call for "self-government and autonomy" for those minorities. …