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Slovakia: Domestic Problems Responsible For NATO Failure

Salzburg, 11 July 1997 (RFE/RL) - Slovak President Michal Kovac said today internal domestic problems and NOT political infighting led to the country's failed bid for NATO membership.

Our correspondent reports Kovac addressed reporters on the sidelines of the third and final day of the Central and Eastern European Economic Summit in Salzburg, Austria. He said Slovakia suffered from a lack of democratic principles and rule of law and that it was these problems, among others, that ruled Slovakia out.

Kovac also said Prime Minister Vladimir Meciar failed to demonstrate clearly and unambiguously Slovakia's genuine interest in NATO membership. Looking ahead, Kovac said Slovakia's problems could best be resolved by its citizens in the next round of parliamentary elections. Kovac said other democratic countries suffering similar conflicts had found such resolution through the ballot box.

Kovac added that he had NO reason to believe resolution would come from political consensus between the government and the opposition.

Yesterday, Kovac told a plenary session that he regretted NATO's decision NOT to accept Slovakia's bid for membership, but that he welcomed the resolution as a whole. He also voiced concern that being turned down for membership could discourage foreign investors at a time when Slovakia especially needs foreign capital.