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Czechs, Slovaks Reach Compromise

FEDERAL DISPUTE

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CZECHOSLOVAKIA has, for the time being, settled a question of the division of power, which threatened to split the country in two. A compromise bill defining the character of the federation - including the division of power between the Czech and Slovak republics and the federal government - was passed by the Federal Parliament late Wednesday.

Almost six months of debate came to a head last Monday, when an impending constitutional crisis brought President Vaclav Havel before Parliament to demand exceptional powers.

Warning deputies of the immediate risk of disintegration of the state, Mr. Havel called for the establishment of a constitutional court and a law providing for referendums to determine citizens' will if representative bodies reach deadlock. He also said he would submit a bill temporarily increasing specific presidential powers.

The crisis arose when the Slovak National Council announced that it would declare the sovereignty of the republics' laws over those of the whole Czechoslovak federation if a version of the bill amended by the Czech republic's National Council was passed by the Federal Parliament.

The president's decision to intervene was a response to what Deputy Prime Minister Pazel Rychetsky calls ``an anomalous legal situation.''

``Our legal code does not have such a thing as a state of emergency. We have no procedures for resolving serious conflicts,'' he says.

Havel's appeal to Parliament was an unusual deployment of his charisma and moral stature. Calling on deputies to assume not just their present responsibilities but those of years to come, he warned, ``If we allowed this [disintegration], ... future generations would curse us and the world declare us insane.''

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