From Isolation to Integration: Internal and External Factors of Democratic Change in Slovakia
On 1 May 2004, Slovakia became a new member state of the European Union, together with seven other countries of the former Communist Europe as well as Malta and Cyprus. Yet only six years earlier, representatives of the European Union had expressed serious doubts and reservations about the commitment of the Slovak government to respect even basic procedural aspects of democracy. Lack of respect for political rights of the parliamentary opposition, violation of civic and ethnic minority rights, negligence of the country’s Constitutional Court and thwarting of the referendum by the Ministry of Interior were the most frequently quoted reasons for exclusion of the country from negotiations on early accession to EU and NATO in late 1997. Yet Slovakia had not been excluded completely: no political sanctions had been imposed and a formal inclusion into the second ‘Luxembourg’ group of EU candidate countries had been granted. Moreover, within less than a decade, Slovakia was able to catch up with its neighbours (Bilčík, 2001) and not only became a full member of the NATO in early 2004, but also successfully concluded rather difficult negotiations on the EU accession and entered the EU in the same year. Clearly, Slovakia has undergone a process of transition to democracy that has been characterized by many twists and turns as well as difficulties, where the former semi-authoritarian political forces in control of the government were replaced by a government adhering to the basic principles of democracy.
KeywordsEurope Assure Exter Culmination Bilin
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