General John Shalikashvili (middle) on the heels of William Perry's visit, met with Slovak officials to discuss U.S. - Slovak military cooperation.
He commented that "everything is going all right" in Slovakia from a military point of view, and he confirmed Perry's satisfaction with Slovakia's bilateral relationship with the U.S., as well its armed forces' participation in the Partnership for Peace.
However, he said that he stressed in his talks with the Slovak Chief of Staff General Jozef Tuchyna, as well as President Michal Kováč, Prime Minister Vladimír Mečiar, and Defense Minister Ján Sitek, that the present members of NATO "are certainly not yet at the stage of enlargement."
Tuchyna said that in his talks with Shalikashvili he had "confirmed [Slovakia's] orientation toward the Partnership for Peace and our integration to NATO."
Shalikashvili also acknowledged Perry's emphasis on the necessity of strong democratic institutions tolerant of diverse views, as well as the need to strengthen market economies. He clarified his task, however, saying, "While [Perry] spoke of the issue of good relations with neighbors, I am here to discuss ... the military-to-military and defense-to-defense side." Concerning Slovakia's progress toward democracy, Tuchyna commented, "Mr. Perry never talked about what was wrong. Mr. Perry said that it was necessary to continue on the track of democracy."
Asked how much he thought Slovakia is lagging behind the Czech Republic, Shalikashvili said that he "would not characterize [Slovakia] as lagging," adding, "I think measured against the standard, both are very much at the top." He added, "This is not a competition, rather it is an effort to ensure that the notion of interoperability, compatibility between our armed forces, between the armed forces of a partner country and NATO increase and improve. By that measure, this relationship is going very well."
Support of Slovakia's progress toward membership in NATO is not shared by all political actors in Slovakia, however. Ján Slota, chairman of the Slovak National Party, expressed opposition to Slovakia's membership in NATO. "Slovakia should not enter any military association and should remain neutral. The extensive expansion of NATO destabilizes Europe. Slovakia will be a friend of both Russia and the West."
Sergei Jastrzembsky, Russian Ambassador to Slovakia, said in an interview with Slovenská Republika that Shalikashvili's talk of NATO's attempt to maintain good relations with Russia are only a "propagandistic bow" to Russia.
13. Oct 1995 at 0:00 | Emily Hage