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OECD invite spurs EU, NATO hopes

Slovak officials have said that they will now redouble their efforts to join the European Union and NATO after being invited to join the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD).
Deputy Prime Minister for Integration Pavol Hamžík told The Slovak Spectator July 31 that after the invitation on July 28, Slovakia had become "a trustworthy partner again".
"It [the OECD's invitation] is a historical decision for Slovakia and we've waited so long for it. We are now closer to entry to the EU and to NATO. It will make things [in negotiating entry] a lot easier, I believe," the deputy premier said.


Deputy Prime Minister for Integration Pavol Hamžík said that the OECD invite would redouble Slovakia's bids to join the EU and NATO.
photo: TASR

Slovak officials have said that they will now redouble their efforts to join the European Union and NATO after being invited to join the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD).

Deputy Prime Minister for Integration Pavol Hamžík told The Slovak Spectator July 31 that after the invitation on July 28, Slovakia had become "a trustworthy partner again".

"It [the OECD's invitation] is a historical decision for Slovakia and we've waited so long for it. We are now closer to entry to the EU and to NATO. It will make things [in negotiating entry] a lot easier, I believe," the deputy premier said.

"We have increased our efforts towards integration since the government came to power [in 1998] and have made progress on the EU. We are expecting to again push forward with those efforts," he added.

Slovakia is currently in a group of six 'second wave' countries in negotiations on joining the European Union, but is pushing to be moved up to the 'first wave' group of countries which includes its neighbours Hungary, Poland and the Czech Republic. It is also expecting to be invited to join NATO at its next enlargement round in 2002.

"NATO is now much more of a probability, and we are firmly on the list of probable countries to join at the next enlargement in 2002. We are counting on an invitation to join then," said Hamžík.

The European Union, for its part, has been quick to congratulate Mikuláš Dzurinda's coalition cabinet and its implementation of reform packages in securing the OECD invitation. EC spokesman Rejo Kempinnen said that the move would give a huge boost to the country's standing in Brussels.

However, he warned that the OECD's decision would have no bearing on any decision the EC would make on Slovakia's EU entry.

Deputy Prime Minister for the Economy Ivan Mikloš swiftly thanked the US and the EU's largest member, Germany, for their support for Slovakia in its efforts to join the OECD. Hamžík said that this support was a crucial indicator for future help on the road to NATO and EU membership.

"We are very pleased with the support we got from other OECD members. All the member states of NATO and the EU must have been watching us as we negotiated on the OECD, and must have been thinking about us and our other integration efforts," he said.

"The support and the decision is reassuring, because it shows that we are not only accepted again, but that Slovakia is seen as a partner [in further integration]."

Slovak Defence Minister Pavol Kanis also agreed that the OECD decision would be a step forward in Slovakia's efforts to join NATO. Speaking in Washington after meeting US defence officials, he said that the rest of the government's present term would be devoted to "intense" efforts to gain entry to both NATO and the EU.

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