ELECTIONS 2002

US tests diplomatic limits

A WESTERN diplomat on September 21 criticised the US administration's diplomatic drive to influence the possible makeup of the Slovak government ahead of weekend elections.
Not only had the US said a return of former Slovak leader Vladimír Mečiar and his HZDS party to power could prevent the country from joining Nato in November, but US Ambassador to Slovakia Ronald Weiser also recently advised some government parties not to cooperate with the HZD splinter party of Mečiar defectors following elections.

A WESTERN diplomat on September 21 criticised the US administration's diplomatic drive to influence the possible makeup of the Slovak government ahead of weekend elections.

Not only had the US said a return of former Slovak leader Vladimír Mečiar and his HZDS party to power could prevent the country from joining Nato in November, but US Ambassador to Slovakia Ronald Weiser also recently advised some government parties not to cooperate with the HZD splinter party of Mečiar defectors following elections.

"That was going a bit too far, and might have been counter-productive," the diplomat said, arguing that Weiser's initiative might have slowed the implosion of the HZDS, a party the West regards as an untrustworthy partner.

In the elections, the HZDS recorded its worst result ever, at 19.5 per cent, while the HZD failed to enter parliament, taking only 3.28 per cent.

When asked about his HZD message, Weiser took a full 30 seconds to reflect before answering: "I think the focus should be on parties that will be in the next parliament."

Mečiar and HZD leader Ivan Gašparovič have never regretted a thwarted referendum on Nato expansion in 1997 under their government which was among the main reasons Slovakia was dropped from early Nato and EU accession.

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