Slovakia - Foreign policy

The primary goals of the Dzurinda administration in foreign policy are to end its international isolation and to integrate the country into European and North Atlantic economic, political, and security structures. The first priorities, in this respect, have been to meet the conditions for membership in the European Union (EU) and North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO). Membership in the EU was initially delayed because Slovakia was found to be the only country in Central Europe that lacked those democratic institutions needed to protect its ethnic minorities. Foreign Minister Eduard Kukan responded by introducing legislation intended to foster the languages of minority groups, return multilingual report cards to schools, and initiate measures to improve relations with Hungary and the Czech Republic. In April 1999, the government opened Slovakia's air space for NATO planes. Upon reevaluation in October 1999, the European Union recommended to begin negotiations with Slovakia, with Slovak hopes that membership will be complete in 2004. To that end, an amazing program of reforms has been outlined by the government and the administration expects to have approximately 1,200 staff members dedicated to dealing with issues of EU integration by the end of 2004. In December 2002, the EU extended an official invitation to Slovakia to join the body. Dzurinda signed the EU Accession Treaty on 16 April 2003 and Slovakia will then proceed through the process of ratification. "We will erase the division lines that have separated Europe since Yalta," said Dzurinda, referring to the end of WWII.

In September 2000, Slovakia gained membership in the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD).

In 1999, at the suggestion of Defense Minister Pavol Kanis, the government began considering new security treaties with Poland, Hungary, and the Czech Republic— three Central European countries who had joined NATO that year. In February 1999, the premiers of Hungary and Slovakia signed a protocol on implementation of the Slovak Hungarian Agreement. By October 1999, the prime ministers from all four countries met in the Slovak resort Tatranska Javorina, coordinating efforts to combat organized crime and international money laundering. Together the four nations have formed an informal cooperative called the Visegrad Four. In November 2002, NATO formally invited Slovakia to join the organization.

In May 2001, Dzurinda and Slovakia served as host for the highly regarded international conference, "New European Democracies: Leadership and Responsibility." The conference was attended by the prime ministers of several countries including Albania, Bulgaria, Croatia, Estonia, Macedonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Romania, and Slovenia. Their objective was to discuss and issue a statement of cooperation to encourage the role of each respective country in accomplishing the vision of a free and united Europe.

In early 2003, Czech and Slovak troops specializing in combating nuclear, chemical, and biological weapons were stationed in Kuwait in the event Iraq would use such weapons against the U.S.-led coalition and its allies in the war with Iraq. The Czech and Slovak troops were not deployed in forward combat areas, but were assigned to provide continuous monitoring and response to any chemical or biological attack.

Slovakia was one of the original members of the Central European Free Trade Agreement (CEFTA). Slovakia is a member of the United Nations, the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) and the World Trade Organization (WTO).

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