Gunter Verheugen, the European Commission member in charge of EU enlargement, told Slovak Parliamentary Speaker Jozef Migaš on November 2 that accession negotiations with Slovakia could open as soon as early in the year 2000.
In Bratislava for a two day visit, Verheugen promised that the European Council would follow the recommendations of the European Commission (EC) in this matter. The EC recently produced a positive report on Slovakia that many foreign policy professionals expect will lead to Slovakia's being asked to join accession talks at the EU summit in Helsinki this December.
Verheugen stressed that Slovakia must continue in the transformation of its economy, whether it joins the EU or not. Migaš told his guest that to comply with all EU requirements, the Slovak parliament will have to pass about 240 laws by the year 2002.
The Speaker of Parliament also underscored the need to prepare Slovak citizens for membership of Slovakia in the EU and ascribed an important role in this process to the government and all parliamentary parties.
Verheugen communicated his full understanding of Slovakia's integration ambitions, and said that if Slovakia begins accession negotiations with the EU at the beginning of next year, it can be proud of its accomplishment.