eorge Robertson:
People in Slovakia need to go into the elections with their eyes wide open.
People who consider NATO to be a militaristic organization unmindful of democracy, should check out this Robertson explanation of why his organization has run afoul of the corrupt three-time prime minister:
NATO has bound itself to respect democratic values, ethnic tolerance, good relations with neighbors as well as a system of independent judiciary and a free economy.
The West's attempt to lean on the Slovak electorate is nothing new, and it is (I believe) wrong. I covered Meciar from November 1992 to January '94, for UPI and Prognosis (the only thing I have online is this color piece from the October 1994 elections), and while he is certainly a thuggish and demagogic character who most likely stole his own commie-era secret police file, he is no dictator, no Lukashenko, no Tudjman, and Slovakia has stumbled along toward democracy both with and without him. He'll campaign in the conservative countryside, while his intellectualish opponents are busy at Bratislava cocktail parties sniffing about the dumb old people who vote for him. Yeah, he was an ex-boxer, but he was also an active anti-communist in the late '60s, for which he was banished to a job shoveling coal in a remote factory. He has a magnetic effect on the people of Slovakia – think Papandreou in Greece – and he'll probably woo one-third of the electorate for as long as he's not in jail. Those people will only embrace him more when they see hostile outsiders trying to tell them who to vote for. Slovakia's a young, immature country, and it probably will take a few steps back if Meciar is able to form a governing coalition (which is hardly a given), but he won't be reverting to Communism any time soon, regardless of what you will read in the next months. However, if the increasingly nationalist Fidesz party in Hungary wins that country's coming elections, and forms a coalition with the Greater Hungary wackos, tensions with a neighboring Meciar government could boil. In that case, we can only be thankful that Hungary is a member of NATO, which insisted on finishing off most of the two countries' border and minority disputes before the Magyars could join.

Posted by at February 19, 2002 02:26 PM
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