Voinovich Praises Government For Its Work - Cleveland 19 News Cleveland, OH

Voinovich Praises Government For Its Work

BRATISLAVA, Slovakia (AP) - U.S. Senator George Voinovich (pictured, right) praised the Slovak government on Thursday for its work that brought this central European country closer to membership in NATO, a top foreign policy goal.

Voinovich, R-Ohio, in Slovakia for a one-day visit, noted that it was the leadership of Prime Minister Mikulas Dzurinda that have put Slovakia in "a good position to be considered for admission to NATO" at a November summit in Prague, Czech Republic.

However, Voinovich said it was important for this country of 5.4 million to continue on this path and not to turn to forces that ruled in the country before.

Slovakia failed to join NATO along with the three former communist countries in 1999 as its former leadership was viewed by Western officials as lacking commitment to democracy and the rule of law.

The former authoritarian Prime Minister Vladimir Meciar's party is leading in polls ahead of September parliamentary elections.

Even though he's in the lead, his chances to form a government seem limited, as none of the other parties have so far expressed a willingness to form a coalition with him.

Voinovich said Slovaks should understand that if the country was to return to its past policies it might be difficult to meet its foreign policy goals of joining NATO and the European Union.

(Copyright 2002 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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