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IN SHORTS

NATO petition has 130,000 signatures

ABOUT 130,000 Slovaks have signed a petition demanding a referendum on Slovakia's NATO membership, representing one-third of the 350,000 signatures needed for a vote to be called by the president.

"Our initiative has grown into a civil movement and our goal to collect the required number of signatures by mid-March at the latest appears realistic," said Eduard Chmelár, chairman of the petition committee of the civil initiative for the referendum February 5.

The collection of signatures started in early January.

Chmelár says that although the government has so far spent Sk110 million (2.6 million euro) on a campaign to drum up support for Slovakia's NATO membership, opinion polls show that public support of NATO membership is actually decreasing.

"This indicates that citizens want to express their opinion on NATO membership in a referendum. People do not want any more political propaganda," said Chmelar.

Most of the citizens who have signed the petition live in the districts of Prešov, Trenčín, and Žilina.

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