Slovakia `Ignored' as NATO Grows
Barber, Ben, The Washington Times (Washington, DC)
The president of the Slovak parliament yesterday complained that his 3 1/2-year-old country has been dropped from the short list of candidates for NATO membership.
"Originally, Slovakia was among the four countries in the first rank" of former Soviet-bloc nations expected to be invited to join the NATO alliance, said Ivan Gasparovic in a meeting with editors and reporters of The Washington Times.
"But recently, Slovakia is usually left out."
Instead, U.S. government and congressional officials speak of Poland, Hungary and the Czech Republic as most likely to be the first to join NATO.
"This has been the main purpose of my visit," said Mr. Gasparovic, who met in New York with bank and nongovernmental organization officials and in Washington with Deputy Secretary of State Strobe Talbott.
The Slovak parliament leader also met with Rep. Benjamin Gilman, New York Republican and chairman of the House International Relations Committee, and with members of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.
House GOP sources said a bill moving through Congress that urges the administration to speed up NATO expansion has dropped Slovakia from the top group because of concerns that include:
* Threats to press freedom by government control over broadcasting.
* Privatization that has placed state industries in the hands of government supporters.
* The shelving of an investigation into the kidnapping of the son of President Michal Kovac, who is feuding with Prime Minister Vladimir Meciar. …