EU convention draws Slovakia into debate on Union future

LAST week's "historic" national European Union accession convention has resulted in a warning from President Rudolf Schuster to politicians.
Schuster said that that Slovaks would not forgive their representatives if the country's EU bid failed. "Our presence in the European Union will be a historical end to the cold war and the relics of world wars one and two," he added.
Deputy Prime Minister for European Integration, Mária Kadlečíková, says she is still angling for the best possible deal with the Union, but has sharply criticised the funding outlines of the EU enlargement process recently publicised by the European Commission. She said the European Commission "is not behaving generously towards us" and suggested that the Visegrad Group - the Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland and Slovakia - form a united front.

LAST week's "historic" national European Union accession convention has resulted in a warning from President Rudolf Schuster to politicians.

Schuster said that that Slovaks would not forgive their representatives if the country's EU bid failed. "Our presence in the European Union will be a historical end to the cold war and the relics of world wars one and two," he added.

Deputy Prime Minister for European Integration, Mária Kadlečíková, says she is still angling for the best possible deal with the Union, but has sharply criticised the funding outlines of the EU enlargement process recently publicised by the European Commission. She said the European Commission "is not behaving generously towards us" and suggested that the Visegrad Group - the Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland and Slovakia - form a united front.

The convention, which took place in Bratislava March 5, ran parallel to a series of talks in Brussels where EU hopefuls were invited to join discussions about the Union's future. The next full convention is in mid-March.

Foreign Affairs Minister Eduard Kukan said that the opportunity for candidate countries to speak about the future of Europe at the European Convention in Brussels was a historical chance. "For the first time Slovakia is getting involved in shaping the future European Union," he said.

The discussion at the National Convention in Bratislava involved representatives of the government, political parties, the academic community, churches, civil associations, and municipal and regional governments.

Minister Kukan said the debate had helped to form basic Slovak attitudes, and that among its further tasks would be to extend the discussion on the future Europe with reference to domestic concerns.

Slovakia's main negotiator with the European Union, Ján Figeľ, said he believed that elections scheduled for September would be a turning point, but said the results should not harm Slovakia's efforts to integrate into the European Union.

Figeľ, who represents Slovakia in the European Convention on the Future of Europe, hopes that by its second meeting, all open questions will be resolved, including candidate countries' participation in the European presidium, the convention's commissions and bodies responsible for shaping analytical and preparatory materials, and also in the submission of documents in their own languages.

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