The Slovak Spectator paid a visit to three-time former Slovak Prime Minister Vladimír Mečiar on October 3 at his Bratislava HZDS party headquarters. The full text of the interview will be published nest week.
The Slovak Spectator: If the west continues to reject you as a potential ally, what consequences could it have for Slovakia?
Vladimír Mečiar: The West has to ask itself what it is trying to achieve. If it's integration, we're all for that. If it's values, we're for that as well. If it's internal [Slovak political] stability, how should that be achieved? How can we force people to accept political representatives they don't want?
I've spent a lot of time studying the history of [Ancient] Rome. The main reason it lasted for a thousand years was that they [Roman rulers] never took [conquered] peoples' religions away, and they always let them elect those representatives who had a real influence on the people. Rome always tried to find a way to [work with] these representatives, and thus ensured that the system would be stable.
As far as the [West's] speculation and doubts go, I don't think this is a permanent issue but rather a temporary one. Many things will be explained and reviewed, and anyway, Slovakia is here for good on the map of Europe. I think we should have been accepted into Nato in 1999. It was in our interest, and would have been good for Nato too. Nobody can want a corridor in the middle of Europe dividing Nato into northern and southern parts, especially because you have [neutral] Austria and Switzerland in the same region.
I also think we should be accepted to the European Union (EU). I'm very concerned with this talk of two groups, of [Slovakia being accepted to the EU in the second group together with] Romania and Bulgaria.
And finally, the [democratic western] system is based on civic principles. Why then, in Slovakia, should our people not have the right to freely choose their elected representatives like the rest of the world? Why should we be punished for our choices? If my personal approach was not so based on civic principles, I could come to some conclusions here.
There's one saying which I remember from my youth - if you're afraid of something unknown, touch it. That means those who comment and reject [Mečiar and his HZDS party] would be better off if they were open to explanations, and had the will to understand them. Whatever the West's attitude towards us will be, we will never change our priorities and goals. We will not change our orientation whether or not we are part of the [next] government. Western democracies also go through changes, and the same is true of us. The views of the HZDS five years ago are not the views of the party today.
8. Oct 2001 at 0:00