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Šebej: Bush-Putin summit to put Slovakia on map

THE BRATISLAVA summit between Presidents George Bush and Vladimir Putin is a unique publicity opportunity for Slovakia as it takes centre stage in world politics on February 24, a senior foreign affairs analyst said February 19.

Speaking on Radio Express, Frantisek Šebej said the heavy concentration of global media in Bratislava during the event would repay many times over the money spent on preparations for the event, the TASR news service reported.

The Slovak government has earmarked Sk300 million (€7.7 million) for the visit of the US and Russian presidents. "The summit is worth it," he said on the programme, Bez rešpektu.

Among topics to be debated is worry over democracy in Russia, Šebej said. "The term 'managed democracy' implies that Russia is basically becoming an authoritarian state, a fact disconcerting Americans because it means that Russia can alter its foreign policy agenda," he said.

On domestic issues, Šebej thinks Slovak leaders will bring up the issue of changing the US visa regime towards
Slovaks, which is maintained by Americans for fear of illegal labour arriving in the country.

According to Šebej, the visa regime for Slovakia and other new European Union members could be cancelled within two or three years.

This is because Slovakia's per capita income is expected to rise to a point where Slovaks will have no need to seek illegal work in the US.

Compiled by Spectator staff from press reports

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