Slovakia is ready to enter the Schengen Zone, Austrian Interior Minister Günther Platter (centre) said during his visit to the modernised Slovak-Ukrainian border crossing at Vyšné Nemecké.
A year ago, Platter was one of the biggest critics of Slovakia's preparedness for entering the border-free zone. But this month, he said Slovakia is well prepared and fulfills the requirements.
The Schengen zone would guarantee Slovakia one of the main advantages of the European Union - the free movement of its citizens across the borders of other member countries - as of January 1, 2008.
On October 8, during a visit to the border crossing at Vyšné Nemecké, Platter signed a memorandum of understanding between Austria and Slovakia, the SITA newswire wrote. His Slovak counterpart, Robert Kaliňák, signed the memorandum for the Slovak side.
In the memorandum, the two countries committed themselves to creating common security strategies, developing more intensive shared plans for the eastern border of the EU, carrying out of important shared security activities, and the intensifying their exchange of information.
Platter said the cooperation with Slovakia has been excellent so far. Kaliňák expressed gratitude for the active aid and cooperation of other EU countries, and particularly Austria.
"We were successful in part thanks to Austrian experts who spent weeks on the eastern border," Kaliňák told SITA.
It cost Slovakia about Sk3.5 billion (€104.2 million) to bring in the measures to make it ready for the Schengen zone, and technical equipment for the eastern EU border with Ukraine cost more than Sk1 billion.
The EU's Council of Ministers is expected to decide on the entry of candidates to the Schengen zone over November 8 and 9.
"As far as Slovakia is concerned, my evaluation is highly positive," Platter said.
15. Oct 2007 at 0:00 | From press reports