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Legislature Declares Support For Lithuania

May 3, 1990

BUDAPEST, Hungary (AP) _ Hungary’s new freely elected parliament Thursday declared its support for Lithuania, and the leader of a center-right party began trying to form the first non-Communist government in four decades.

At a historic session of parliament, Interim President Arpad Goencz nominated Jozsef Antall, who heads the largest faction in parliament, as premier-designate and asked him to form a government.

Antall said he hoped to forge a coalition before the end of the month.

″I will try to lead the country out of this difficult situation,″ he said.

The new government will be saddled with a $21 billion foreign debt - the largest per capita debt in Eastern Europe - double-digit inflation, rising unemployment and resultant growing social tensions.

″I appeal for confidence so that we can form Hungary’s first coalition government,″ Antall said.

If Antall succeeds in building a center-right coalition, it will have a simple majority of 229 seats. But it would lack the two-thirds majority needed for major constitutional changes.

The government of Premier Miklos Nemeth offered its resignation Wednesday but will stay on as a caretaker government until the new Cabinet takes charge. Goencz, who was jailed for six years after the 1956 anti-Communist uprising, was elected interim president by the house Wednesday.

The new government would be Hungary’s first non-Communist government in 43 years.

Deputies from half a dozen parties fill the legislature, and the former Communists have been relegated to a minor opposition role with only 33 seats in the 394-seat body.

Antall’s party, the Hungarian Democratic Forum, had been conducting coalition talks with the like-minded Independent Smallholders and the Christian Democrats. They have 44 and 21 seats respectively.

Antall told a news conference after his nomination that the first task of his government would be to strengthen international ties, to better relations with the United States and Western Europe and to keep ″correct″ relations with the Soviet Union.

He said he also hoped to accelerate the withdrawal of Soviet troops from Hungarian territory. The two countries have agreed on the complete withdrawal of the Red Army by June of next year.

The Soviet presence in Hungary is largely associated with Soviet tanks that crushed the 1956 anti-Communist uprising.

On Wednesday, the house adopted a motion formally declaring the revolt a revolution and freedom fight. The Communists for decades had condemned it as a ″counterrevolution.″

The motion on Lithuania was added to the agenda just before the session ended. Ever since Moscow began imposing economic sanctions against Lithuania, Hungarians have compared it to 1956, when other countries stood by as their revolution was crushed.

″We deem unacceptable the use of coercive measures and all steps that can hinder the realization of the right of the Lithuanian people to self- determination,″ the text said. ″We hereby express our solidarity with the Lithuanian people and its endeavors to attain self-determination.″

The resolution urged the Kremlin to begin negotiations with Lithuanian leaders to ensure their right to self-determination and ″preservation of political stability of the Soviet Union and of international security.″

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