Slovakia becomes NATO member

PM MIKULÁŠ Dzurinda stood in the courtyard of the White House for the first time on March 29 as the leader of a NATO member country. US President George Bush received Dzurinda along with the prime ministers of Slovenia, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Bulgaria, and Romania.

These seven countries received an invitation to join NATO in 2002.

Dzurinda said that Slovakia was becoming a member of a family of states that will be given a maximum level of protection and defence, the daily SME wrote.

The prime ministers deposited the ratification documents with the US Department of State.

Tomas Valasek, the director of the Brussels headquarters of the Washington-based Center for Security Information, said that the act of depositing the document has brought no fundamental change for Slovakia, which has been behaving as a NATO member for several years.

Slovakia could have become a NATO member much sooner if it had met political criteria and the former government of Vladimír Mečiar had had the trust of the alliance in 1997. At that time Mečiar claimed that Slovakia was left out based on an agreement between the US and Russia. The US resolutely rejected Mečiar's words, the daily wrote.

The Slovak Communist Party continues to object to the country's membership.

Ján Čarnogurský, the head of the Christian Democratic Movement and a former justice minister, said that Slovakia's entry to NATO is disadvantageous as the alliance is falling apart. He also fears that NATO would drag Slovakia into international conflicts, SME wrote.

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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