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Last Updated: Thursday, 12 February, 2004, 12:39 GMT
Hungary protest over radar peak
By Nick Thorpe
BBC, Budapest

A standoff has developed between the Hungarian authorities and environmental activists trying to prevent the construction of a new Nato radar station.

Protestors are blocking tracks leading to the Zengo mountain peak in southern Hungary, where tree-felling was due to begin on Wednesday.

Protests on the mountain
The protesters blocked roads to the site
Hungarian and international environmental protection groups have appealed to Nato Secretary-General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer not to build the radar station on the Zengo Mountain.

Activists have occupied the approach roads leading to the peak since dawn on Wednesday and prevented the planned felling of trees.

Forestry workers employed by a private company which won the contract from the ministry of defence were politely turned back at barricades.

There has been no attempt by police so far to physically remove the protesters.

Nature threat

Hungary joined Nato five years ago and has been criticised by alliance officials for not contributing enough.

Three new radar stations are due to be built in Hungary by September 2006, including the one on Zengo, at a cost of more than $100m 53m), mostly covered by Nato.

The Zengo peak is in rolling, thickly-wooded hills in southern Hungary, near the city of Pecs.

The environmentalists claim the radar station would harm the natural environment.

The ministry of defence says it is necessary, both for Hungary's national defence and to fulfil Nato commitments. It says the station will have a minimal impact on the surrounding region.




SEE ALSO:
Slovenia eyes Hungarian fighters
28 Nov 03  |  Europe
Hungary on brink of EU
09 Apr 03  |  Europe
Nato expansion moves closer
26 Mar 03  |  Europe
Putin unconvinced over Nato
22 Nov 02  |  Europe
Country profile: Hungary
16 Dec 03  |  Country profiles
Timeline: Hungary
24 Jan 04  |  Country profiles


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