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Slovakia: President Warns That Democracy Is Endangered

Bratislava 11 December 1996 (RFE/RL) -- Slovak President Michal Kovac delivered a highly critical annual state of the nation address today, warning that the government of Prime Minister Vladimir Meciar is driving Slovakia into international isolation.

In his clearest warning to date, Kovac said Slovakia was in danger of being excluded from the first group of new countries to be accepted into the European Union (EU) and NATO. He said Meciar's policies had "tangibly weakened" democracy over the past two years.

Kovac spoke to a half-empty parliament chamber, as all but two deputies from Meciar's ruling Movement For a Democratic Slovakia (HZDS), walked out. State television also ignored the address.

Kovac criticized the state media for disseminating "disinformation." He said Meciar's government had turned the police force and justice system into mere "executors of the political will of the ruling coalition." Kovac also condemned the government for its recent moves to oust a deputy who quit the ruling party. Kovac also attacked the government's privatization methods, accusing the government of distributing millions of dollars' worth of assets to its political allies.

Kovac has been imbroiled in a long-standing political battle with Meciar and his ruling coalition, which has repeatedly tried to drive him from power.