SLOVAKIA has toughened border checks and safety measures in Bratislava's heart ahead of the spring session of the NATO Parliamentary Assembly from May 28 to June 1.
Just a day before the start of the session, police found two plastic bags with explosives under a waste bin at the Fajnorove riverside near the Slovak Philharmonic Orchestra where the event, featuring 352 delegates from 44 countries, is being held.
Never in its history has Slovakia experienced such a concentration of world politicians. The largest delegations come from the United States, Germany, Russia, France, and Great Britain.
According to Interior Ministry Spokesman Boris Ažaltovič, a citizen warned the police about the bags, which contained five 100-gramme industrial explosives of Czechoslovak production (Permonex 19) and Pentrit explosives. Police sources claim that the bomb was not fully active.
To calm worries, Ažaltovič said that 1,000 policemen were watching over the safety of the participants and the public while an additional 3,000 policemen were on alert in the case of emergency.
The country's intelligence service has warned of potential attacks and the border police have a list of 2,000 unwanted persons compiled with the assistance of Interpol and Europol, the news wire SITA wrote.
Last week Robert Kaliňák, the head of the parliamentary committee for security and defence, warned that a 10,000-strong anti-NATO rally was being planned for Bratislava.
The Czechoslovak Anarchist Federation said that it was not preparing any protests for the session.
Interior Minister Vladimír Palko said that police had undergone special training to protect assembly participants against protesters and terrorists.
The event will feature parliamentary deputies from NATO member and associated countries, as well as observers from 11 other countries. Bratislava expects about 800 participants, including the NATO secretary general and top assembly representatives.
Vladimír Šimko, spokesman of the Slovak Intelligence Service (SIS), said that the service had delivered information on the explosives to the police. Šimko said that the SIS is monitoring different extremist groups that could disturb the meeting.
However, Ažaltovič declined to speculate whether the explosives had anything to do with the NATO assembly, the news wire TASR wrote.
The police had previously searched Fajnorovo nábrežie and adjacent streets several times after receiving such information from the SIS, but they had not found anything.
Ažaltovič was unable to explain how the two bags of explosives could be brought, despite checks, so close to the scene of the NATO session.
28. May 2004 at 0:00 | Beata Balogová