BUDAPEST, Hungary -- Parliament, in a stormy session, refused Tuesday to authorize further investigation into the sale of 10,000 Soviet-made assault rifles to the Yugoslav Republic of Croatia.
The chamber, reacting to the growing political crisis that has strained relations with Yugoslavia, defeated two motions by the opposition Alliance of Free Democrats and the Federation of Young Democrats to create a six-party ad hoc committee for a more detailed probe of the arms deal.
A third motion was also defeated that would have established parliamentary control over arms sales to neighboring countries. It was submitted by Free Democrat Ferenc Koszegh.
On a 181-104 vote with six abstentions, the chamber endorsed a joint report submitted last week by the Defense and Foreign Affairs committees that touched on the arms deal.
The vote came after four hours of debate opened with an address by Prime Minister Jozsef Antall, a member of the ruling Democratic Forum.
He told parliament a note was sent to Prime Minister Ante Markovitz expressing the government's 'regret' for not having properly informed the Yugoslav federal government about the sale last October of 10,000 Kalashnikov semi-automatic assault rifles.
The note said Hungary guaranteed 'no such incident would happen in the future' and said Hungary wanted to maintain 'good relations with a friendly Yugoslavia' while at the same time maintaining friendly links with its six republics.
The arms sale was first reported by Belgrade television, and initially the Hungarian government denied any knowledge of it. Later, however, it was revealed that Foreign Minister Geza Jeszenszky and Interior Minister Peter Boross knew about the deal. The Free Democrats have demanded their resignation.