SNS says hardliner Le Pen to visit Slovakia

The far-right Slovak National Party (SNS) on April 1 said it has invited Jean-Marie Le Pen, the leader of its French counterpart the National Front, to visit Bratislava this spring. SNS Chairman Ján Slota said the SNS was trying to arrange talks between Le Pen and government and parliamentary officials. "A date [for the visit] has not yet been set but the visit itself certainly was...We will try to arrange meetings at the (top) level," Slota said. "We would like to discuss the creation of an association, or community, of nationally-oriented [political] parties of Europe,"Slota, whose party is a member of Slovakia's ruling coalition, told Radio Twist. He added that Le Pen was expected to visit sometime near the end of April or early in May.
Slota attended the congress of Le Pen's National Front party in Strasbourg over the March 28-29 weekend which was convened to elect party leaders and plot strategy for gaining a foothold in parliament in France's March 1998 general elections.


SNS's Ján Slota awaits a trip by Jean-Marie Le Pen.
Ján Kuchta

The far-right Slovak National Party (SNS) on April 1 said it has invited Jean-Marie Le Pen, the leader of its French counterpart the National Front, to visit Bratislava this spring.

SNS Chairman Ján Slota said the SNS was trying to arrange talks between Le Pen and government and parliamentary officials. "A date [for the visit] has not yet been set but the visit itself certainly was...We will try to arrange meetings at the (top) level," Slota said.

"We would like to discuss the creation of an association, or community, of nationally-oriented [political] parties of Europe,"Slota, whose party is a member of Slovakia's ruling coalition, told Radio Twist. He added that Le Pen was expected to visit sometime near the end of April or early in May.

Slota attended the congress of Le Pen's National Front party in Strasbourg over the March 28-29 weekend which was convened to elect party leaders and plot strategy for gaining a foothold in parliament in France's March 1998 general elections. The Front now has no seats in parliament despite Le Pen's 15 percent showing in a 1995 presidential poll.

At the National Front congress, Le Pen urged European far-rightists to join forces and launched work on a battle plan for the 1998 elections while an estimated 40,000 anti-Front protesters marched in protest of his racial policies.

"I saw blacks making a huge noise banging drums on the main square [of Strasbourg]," Slota said, relaying what he saw at the congress. "I saw broken shop-windows...drunk blacks and Arabs and a couple of anti-socials. Those Frenchmen who were at the congress were democrats while those in the looted stores...were far away from democracy."

Slovak opposition politicians reacted immediately to Slota's remarks, vowing protest marches if Le Pen were to visit Bratislava. "It is all the worse that the SNS is a member of the ruling coalition and in a democratic Europe this can create the impression that Le Pen's politics are aceptable to the Slovak government," said Peter Zajac, vice chairman of the Democratic Party (DS). "We will intitiate actions to demonstrate publicly our stance on this matter," he added. Slota, an anti-EU hardliner, is also against Slovakia's joining the west European-American military alliance NATO.

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