Slovakia's way to EU and NATO open after general elections

General election in Slovakia, photo: CTK

The victory of centre-right parties in the weekend's general election in Slovakia has boosted the country's chances of EU and NATO accession, although ex-Prime Minister Vladimir Meciar's Movement for Democratic Slovakia at the start of the campaign originally looked like it would have a chance of retaking power - Meciar eventually gained 19.5 percent of the vote. But even a majority in votes will not be enough for the isolated politician to form a coalition. Prior to the elections, EU and NATO diplomats had warned that the return by nationalist-oriented Meciar would kill Slovakia's accession bids. But with the current Prime Minister Mikulas Dzurinda's Slovak Democratic and Christian Union gaining 15 percent of the vote and thanks to the gains of his centre-right coalition partners, Slovakia's way to Europe appears to be open now. Alena Skodova reports.

General election in Slovakia, photo: CTK
In the Czech Republic, the results of last weekend's elections in neighbouring Slovakia are viewed mostly positively. President Vaclav Havel, currently on a visit to the United States, said the results proved that Slovakia was able to create a coalition of democratic parties, which would lead the country to the EU and NATO. Prime Minister Vladimir Spidla said he had expected such an outcome. "It was just a normal election in a normal country, which will enable Slovakia to form a new cabinet," he commented on the elections in the Czech Republic's former federal partner. For political analyst Vaclav Zak, though, the election results came as a surprise:

"Yes, I think it was a big surprise, all pre-election opinion polls showed that the results would be different, so I think this is an excellent result, it is possible to form a reform government with a slight margin, but still a right-wing reform government."

And can Mr. Meciar's party be a part of a possible coalition government when his party practically won the elections but Mr. Meciar is a highly unacceptable person for the EU and NATO?

"No, the last development is that a coalition with two margin MPs has already been formed and the Slovak president Mr. Suster said that he would appoint the Prime Minister a person who will give him the majority in parliament. So I think that it's clear, it's very probable that Mr. Dzurinda will be the Prime Minister and that he will continue in his office."

And what will the situation be like in parliament?

"There is 150 MPs in parliament and the government coalition will have 78 MPs."

Czech politicians mostly welcome the results, might there be any changes in Czech-Slovak relations?

"I don't think so, I think that there were close connections between the Social Democratic government even under Prime Minister Zeman and Mr. Dzurinda, so I think the situation will continue."

Do you think that the new Slovak government, a pro-reform, pro-NATO and pro-EU government, can lead their country towards EU and NATO memberships?

"You know, the last few rounds of negotiations will be very, very difficult and I personally am not convinced that the EU will be enlarged in two-year's time, but Slovakia will very probably be accepted by NATO at its autumn conference in Prague, on the situation with the EU I'm more skeptical."