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Slovakia: Parliament Convenes; Gaulieder Case On Agenda

Bratislava, 29 September 1997 (RFE/RL) - Slovakia's Parliament reconvenes tomorrow, and the mandate of an ousted parliament deputy will be one of the main items on the agenda.

During two opposition-called special parliamentary sessions in August on the status of Frantisek Gaulieder members of the ruling coalition parties boycotted debate.

Gaulieder was thrown out of parliament in December, after he broke ranks with Prime Minister Vladimir Meciar's ruling HZDS coalition party.

During Meciar's previous tenure as Prime Minister in 1994, parliament voted no-confidence, and the Meciar government fell. Upon his return to the post, Meciar insisted all HZDS party candidates sign loyalty oaths, before the last elections. Defection -- under the oath -- meant a member was compelled to resign his or her seat, and pay back a portion of campaign expenses.

Gaulieder, who reports say was one of the first candidates to sign such a loyalty oath, was ousted, after he chose to vote with the opposition

Although Slovakia's Highest Constitutional Court this year voted to reinstate Gaulieder, parliament has yet to take action.

Slovakia has been widely criticized in the West over the Gaulieder case, specifically, and for Bratislava's failure to meet Western European standards of respect for the rights of ethnic minorities, and economic and political reform.

Our Bratislava correspondent quotes political observers who say it is unlikely that coalition parliamentary members will return Gaulieder to parliament, but both opposition and ruling coalition deputies want to resolve the issue.

Parliament Chairman Ivan Gasparovic has said another controversial issue will also be considered during this session: ethnic minority language use.