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Senator Ben Nighthorse Campbell, Chairman
Rep. Christopher H. Smith, Co-Chairman
For Immediate Release
June 11, 2002


(Washington) - United States Helsinki Commission Co-Chairman Rep. Christopher H. Smith (R-NJ) today in a meeting with political leaders from Slovakia praised their country’s democratic reform process which has occurred over the past four years.

“The Slovak Government has jump-started Slovakia’s economic and democratic transition, and I am hopeful that Slovakia will stay the course and build on these achievements,” Smith said.

Co-Chairman Smith met Tuesday morning with Pavol Hrusovsky, Deputy Speaker of the Slovak Parliament and Chair of the Christian Democratic Movement; Bela Bugar, Deputy Speaker of the Slovak Parliament and Chair of the Hungarian Coalition Party; and Jan Figel, Deputy Foreign Minister and Deputy Chair of Christian Democratic Movement.

“I commend the government for preparing draft anti-discrimination legislation that, if adopted and implemented, would provide remedies for Roma who experience race discrimination,” continued Mr. Smith. “This legislation is an extremely important step forward that illustrates Slovakia’s potential leadership on anti-discrimination issues. Most importantly, it will be a concrete sign of the government’s commitment to ensure equality of opportunity for Roma. I urged the Deputy Speakers to give this draft expeditious consideration before the summer recess.”

Mr. Smith and the Slovak delegation also discussed Slovakia’s contribution to international peacekeeping efforts in the Balkans and anticipated contributions in Afghanistan.

“We are increasingly looking to countries from Central and Eastern Europe to play a leadership role on human rights issues at international fora,” said Smith. “Because these countries have experienced repression in recent years, they bring an important perspective on how to deal with it. I hope Slovakia will continue to be an active partner with the United States as we seek to advance our common values.”

The United States Helsinki Commission, an independent federal agency, by law monitors and encourages progress in implementing provisions of the Helsinki Accords. The Commission, created in 1976, is composed of nine Senators, nine Representatives and one official each from the Departments of State, Defense and Commerce.
Media Contact: Ben Anderson
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