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Slovakia: NATO Hopes Live On

Bratislava, 28 April 1997 (RFE/RL) - The Slovak Foreign Ministry says that Slovakia remains hopeful about its prospects of joining NATO, despite U.S. criticism last week.

Ministry spokesman Ivan Korcok said that Slovak officials deny the general criticism that says Slovakia will not be a democratic state.

He was speaking in Bratislava following the return yesterday of Slovak Foreign Affairs Minister Pavol Hamzik from a four-day visit to the United States.

Korcok said Slovak officials were disappointed by remarks by U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright that were critical of Slovakia. But, he said, the officials remain hopeful about joining NATO.

He said that Slovakia is aware it must improve in the area of human rights, but needs more time to rise to the standards of older democracies. He said its shortcomings should not bar it from entry into Western institutions.