The result of the NATO referendum will not only show our society's opinions, but also unfortunately the strong emotions and moods we are in. It seems that we have not yet learned how to use this democratic tool, since the only referendum staged since 1989 was disregarded by the citizens.
The result of a referendum is regarded as the will of the people which overcomes the obstacles of parliament not being able to solve the real issues in society. If someone decides to put a referendum into motion, citizens should not be left wondering with their mouths agape about what is being asked, whether about a single question or four of them. Referenda should be decided rationally. Nobody should get upset if I say that it seems that those who initiated the referendum are busy doing something "more important."
NATO is an important political and security institution empowered especially by its decision-making system - consensus. It is by agreement from all member states on any issue that secures the progress of this organization. Each country has its own opinions on different issues. The alliance's enlargement is certainly a crucial event, if not a landmark one.
NATO is about to accept members who were former "enemies." These new members will gain status as equal partners, not as vassals. Not only do the candidates need to prepare but also the alliance itself, for this historic moment. This undoubtedly is a complicated and demanding process for all involved.
It's no secret that NATO's most influential and largest member states have already picked their favorites - the Czech Republic, Poland and Hungary. For the favorites to be so positive about their position has been a great advantage. But how have some of the favorites benefited from this advantage?
In the Czech Republic, which was a decent country in transition has become a dwarf agitated by economic cramps of insolvency, over-employment, social protests, bank bankruptcies, illegal activities by top bank executives, poor results by the whole free market and an industry partly managed by the state. It seems that the Czechs were not able to take advantage of their acquired status in either economics or in politics.
And despite evident discrepancies between proclamations and acts, the Czech Republic remains highly favored by some states. One cannot help but wonder why there are not objections about advantages that are actually not deserved; perhaps it is simply a case of double standards. Slovakia and other nations are also capable of "objective" analysis. In the end, double standards usually come back to haunt those who used them.
The pursuit of NATO membership is more complicated for Slovakia than for the Czech Republic. I do not believe that the reason why Slovakia may not be in the first group is because of a worse economic or political situation, nor Russia's proclaimed support of Slovakia's neutrality. Slovakia's integration and its active involvement in European security structures are just part of the rightful development of the continent. "Rightful" development is hardly desired by anyone else in Europe.
Ferdinand Tisovič is a columnist for the Slovak daily Slovenská Republika. He wrote this article in Slovak.
This piece was translated by Lucia Šefranková
8. May 1997 at 0:00 | Ferdinand Tisovič