Romania Seals Borders Over Protests
ROMANIA closed its border crossings yesterday with Hungary and Yugoslavia, amid reports of a military crackdown on demonstrators in the city of Timisoara, protesting the rule of hard-line Communist leader Nicolae Ceausescu. Hungarian radio reported in Budapest that Timisoara, about 30 miles from the Hungarian border, had been sealed off by troops with tanks and other armored vehicles. It quoted witnesses as saying many people were wounded during the clashes, without giving any figures, and there had been many arrests. Zoltan Kiraly, an independent member of Parliament in Budapest, told the Hungarian legislature the situation was similar in the city of Arad.Skip to next paragraph
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The unrest in Timisoara began Saturday after demonstrators formed a human chain to prevent officials from evicting the Rev. Laszlo Toekes, an ethnic Hungarian clergyman, from his church in the city. The Yugoslav Tanjug news agency said police had used firearms and water guns in a clash Sunday night with demonstrators who shouted slogans against Mr. Ceausescu and other Romanian leaders. It said Army units were also used to quell the demonstration.
Ceausescu was reported to have left the country on a state visit to Iran early yesterday. His wife Elena, the second most powerful person in the country, stayed behind. In an interview with the Tehran Times before leaving, Ceausescu said changes currently sweeping Eastern Europe should not bring a return to capitalism.
To the northwest in Czechoslovakia, about 100,000 people marched through Prague on Sunday, chanting support for opposition leader Vaclav Havel as president. Communist Party chief Karel Urbanek said his party probably will try to form a coalition with other parties before free elections planned next year, an official newspaper reported yesterday. The government announced Sunday that Prime Minister Marian Calfa and Foreign Minister Jiri Dienstbier would travel to Moscow this week for talks with Soviet officials.
In East Germany, the Communists, resigned to sharing power until the country's first free elections in May, met yesterday with more than a dozen opposition groupson how the nation should be run in the interim. The so-called ``round-table'' talks brought together the country's various political parties, social organizations, and fledgling pro-democracy movements. The meeting came a day after the Communist Party concluded an emergency congress in which it embraced a multiparty system and changed its name to the Socialist Unity Party of Germany-Party of Democratic Socialism.
West German President Richard von Weis"acker met Sunday with East German Prime Minister Hans Modrow in Potsdam as East Germany announced reforms in its internal security system designed to prevent violations of civil liberties. Also, Mr. Modrow said Sunday that his government was interested in establishing ties with Israel.
In neighboring Poland, parliament yesterday debated a wide-ranging package to transform the state-run economy to a market system, taking up first the government budget that cuts off public subsidies for most goods and services. The Solidarity-led government introduced the legislation to break up state monopolies and turn industry over to the private sector on Sunday.