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Slovakia: President Calls NATO, Election Referendums

Bratislava, 13 March 1997 (RFE/RL) - Slovak President Michal Kovac has called two crucial referendums -- on NATO membership and direct presidential elections -- to be held together on May 23 and 24.

The NATO referendum concerns a decision on whether the country should, or should not, join the North Atlantic Treaty Organization.

The other one would be a vote on a constitutional change to allow the president to be elected by a direct popular vote.

The referendum on NATO membership was approved by parliament last month and has three questions. They are whether voters favor NATO membership, support the deployment of nuclear weapons on Slovak territory and whether they support allowing foreign military bases on Slovak soil.

Kovac says he advocates a "yes" vote on both measures.

Kovac's term of office expires next spring. Elections to a new parliament, which would elect a president under the present constitution, will only be held in the autumn.