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NEWS BRIEFS

Dzurinda desribes communism at Georgetown U.

Prime Minister Mikuláš Dzurinda delivered a short speech at Georgetown University in Washington D.C. on November 8. Dzurinda was on a two-day visit to the US with Czech Prime Minister Miloš Zeman to mark the 10th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall and the Velvet Revolution.

In his speech, given in English, Dzurinda said that communism in central and eastern Europe fell because it did not trust private ownership and because its ideology was based on hatred rather than love. Since the fall, he said, the former eastern-bloc countries have made significant progress. "We live in a state respecting the rules of law, in a country where everybody is free to pursue his or her happiness," he said.

Dzurinda also commented on the peaceful 1993 division of the former Czechoslovak Federation and the "above-standard relations" the former national partners now enjoy. "We split in 1993 to join again in an integrating Europe as stronger and sovereign countries," he said.

On the US trip, Dzurinda met US President Bill Clinton briefly, for the second time in two months, and held negotiations with representatives of US Steel regarding the American firm's interest in Slovakia's largest industrial company, steelmaker VSŽ. The Slovak delegation also held talks with the Bell Atlantic company, owner of a 20% stake in Slovak mobile network operator EuroTel. Zeman and Dzurinda then had a working lunch with US Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, who praised Slovakia's handling of minority issues.

Dzurinda said the visit signified that US-Slovak relations are at their best since Slovakia's 1993 split with the Czech Republic. The Prime Minister also emphasised that Slovakia is determined to join NATO and the OECD. "We expect an invitation from the OECD in the first half of next year," he said.

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