President Rudolf Schuster on Slovakia's emerging role in Europe
Just over ten years ago their countries split in decisively cool fashion - today political relations seem better than ever between the Czechs and the Slovaks. With Slovak President Rudolf Schuster on his first state visit to the Czech Republic since the election of President Vaclav Klaus, there is once again an emphasis on common goals and co-operation between both governments. To lead their respective countries into the EU; to find common ground within NATO; to deepen social, political, and economic ties. What about Slovakia in its own right? Radio Prague's David Vaughan caught up with the Slovak president a few days ago to discuss Slovakia's newly emerging role in Europe, as well as to ask how Mr Schuster saw recent European division over the US-led war on Iraq.
Do you see a possibility of playing a role as a bridge to the East?
Do you see any space for more clearly-defined, institutionalised co-operation between the states of Central Europe?
"I think it is very important to co-operate closer, but to use experience practically. When I look, for example, at Slovakia before '98 was criticised for a deficit of democracy, minority problems, and in a short time this was solved. So, we have to think about this for other countries that are on their way to the EU too, that we have to give them experience not do the same mistakes we have. I am thinking of Romania, Bulgaria, the former Yugoslav countries too. They first have to co-operate together, to find a way. And terms of an official group, I think maybe Visegrad is the way."