A two-day Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) ministers' meeting on May 28-29 in Paris produced an announcement that Slovakia will be its 30th - and last for the foreseeable future - member.
However, this good news was tainted in that Slovakia has still not met the OECD's criteria and another delay is in the offing - and another examination by OECD experts, the date of which is as yet unknown. Slovakia has been applying to get into this club of the world's most developed economies for six years, originally as part of the former Czechoslovakia.
Juraj Sipko, director of the Finance Ministry's international relations department, said there are still problems to be ironed out with the Financial Act, Securities Act and Banking Act. "They are in various stages of approval and reworking at the moment," he said.
As if Slovakia needed another rebuff in the wake of the botched referendum, it has failed to keep pace with the admission timetable established by the Czech Republic, Hungary and Poland, who had been admitted in rough six-month intervals beginning at the end of 1995, with Poland entering in late 1996.
The most recent ministers' meeting, chaired by France's Minister of Economy and Finance, Jean Arthuis, had been expected by officials at both the finance and economy ministries to specify a date.
Now, according to a Wall Street Journal report on May 29, Slovakia's admission will take place "hopefully before the end of this year," the newspaper wrote.
Sipko declined to comment on dates, but said that the Slovak Joint Committee of International Investments and Multinational Enterprises (CII/CME), which is negotiating with the OECD, will meet again June 26.
Having been critical of the lack of transparency of the privatization process in Slovakia, among other things, the OECD is reported to be taking a breather before considering any new applications from countries such as Argentina, Chile, Israel and several East European countries such as Lithuania, Latvia or Estonia. In the interim, Arthuis is reported by the Journal as saying that the OECD plans on completing a process of internal rationalization and belt- tightening before considering further expansion.
Having signed a major partnership agreement with NATO in Paris earlier the same week, Russia now also has a special accord with the OECD and will become a candidate for accession after completing an overhaul of its economic system. A special liaison committee to review cooperation and monitor the process of Russian economic reforms has been set up.
Serving as a forum for debate and monitoring a range of economic policy areas, the OECD has traditionally been a 24-member organization but has added South Korea and Mexico along with three of Slovakia's neighbors in the past three years. Slovakia was pushed to the back of the queue because the former Czechoslovak Federation's momentum in the application process was inherited by the Czech Republic.
5. Jun 1997 at 0:00 | Terry Moran