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Slovak President says Chance Needed to Gain Western Acceptance

Salzburg, July 9 (RFE/RL) -- Slovak President Michel Kovac says his country will have to make some changes, if it wants to gain membership in Western institutions such as NATO and the E.U.

Speaking to reporters in Salzburg today, Kovac said he was worried the current political in-fighting could have a negative impact on Slovakia's bid for membership and its economy. But he said he believed there was a new awareness among members of the government coalition that recent international criticism concerning Slovakia was, as he put it, "justified."

As a result, Kovac said the coalition has promised to make certain adjustments. He said these would include admitting the opposition to the Council of Radio and Television and to various positions within the security services and parliamentary committees.

Kovac also said he thought reform was possible, even if the current tensions with Prime Minister Vladimir Meciar continued. He said everyone knows that measures which would improve Slovakia's image in the eyes of the world can only be undertaken with cooperation by all parties.

Kovac's remarks came in a news conference with reporters on the sidelines of the first Central and East European Economic Summit. The final plenary, scheduled to focus on further developing Central and Eastern European markets, starts this evening.