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Slovakia: President Disagrees With Premier Over NATO

Bratislava, 1 April 1997 (RFE/RL) -- Slovak President Michal Kovac has distanced himself from statements by Prime minister Vladimir Meciar that the United States and Russia have agreed that Slovakia should not be invited to NATO membership talks.

In a statement issued today Kovac says that he has received a different view from the countless talks he has had with representatives of NATO countries and from his personal talks with U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright. Kovac said it is quite clear that "Slovakia will decide on its fate itself by the extent to which it is capable of putting the principles of democracy into practice, as they are respected by NATO members."

According to Kovac, the path to NATO does not lead, in his words "via lies and misleading the public." Meciar talked about the alleged agreements at a rally on March 21. A week later he claimed that Albright had told him last July that Slovakia would not be accepted into NATO.