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Slovaks will need no passports to travel EU

SLOVAKS will travel EU member countries with only their citizen's identification cards and not passports, Slovak Interior Minister Vladimír Palko said.

Palko said that Slovakia is ready to let in all EU citizens with identification cards, the news wire TASR reported.

"And reciprocally, our citizens will enjoy the same right when entering the other member countries," said Palko, who was attending the talks of EU ministers in Brussels on February 19.

Although France raised several objections, Palko believes the issue will be settled by May 1, the date of the EU's largest enlargement to date.

Slovakia will not automatically become a member of the Schengen territory after joining the EU. For instance, people crossing the Slovak-Austrian border will be checked for identity until the new Schengen Information System (SIS II) is introduced.

Brussels expects the system to be up and running by the end of 2006, which means that Slovakia could enter Schengen as of January 1, 2007.

Another condition is strengthened protection of the EU's external borders - in Slovakia's case, the border with Ukraine. Palko said a full complement of 459 police officers is ready to being operation there as of May 1.

He criticised the EU for late provision of money from the Schengen transition fund. The €47.8 million allocated to Slovakia through the fund should be available in May.

Compiled by Beata Balogová from press reports
The Slovak Spectator cannot vouch for the accuracy of the information presented in its Flash News postings.

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