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Senator Ben Nighthorse Campbell, Co-Chairman
Rep. Christopher H. Smith, Co-Chairman
For Immediate Release
www.csce.gov
March 12, 2003

HELSINKI COMMISSION CO-CHAIRMAN SMITH
MEETS WITH SLOVAK DEPUTY FOREIGN MINISTER

Praises Slovak Leadership in International Affairs;
Delivers Letter to Slovak Prime Minister on Coerced Sterilization


(Washington) - United States Helsinki Commission Co-Chairman Rep. Christopher H. Smith (R-NJ) praised Slovakia’s leadership in international affairs in a meeting Tuesday with Slovak Deputy Foreign Minister Ivan Korcok. Their discussion touched on issues of international security, trans-Atlantic cooperation, and U.S. business investment in Slovakia. Smith reiterated his strong support for Slovakia’s admission to NATO.

“I am deeply grateful for the tremendous support Slovakia has given to the United States, and to the world, in the war against terrorism,” said Smith. “Slovakia has really played a leadership role in meeting the common challenges our countries face today.”

At the meeting, Smith handed over a letter signed by nine Members of the Helsinki Commission concerning coerced sterilization of Romani women in Slovakia. Addressed to Slovak Prime Minister Mikulas Dzurinda, the letter was signed by Helsinki Commission Co-Chairman Senator Ben Nighthorse Campbell (R-CO) and Co-Chairman Rep. Christopher H. Smith (R-NJ), Commissioners Rep. Steny H. Hoyer (D-MD), Rep. Joseph R. Pitts (R-PA), Rep. Benjamin L. Cardin (D-MD), Rep. Louise McIntosh Slaughter (D-NY), Rep. Robert B. Aderholt (R-AL), Rep. Alcee L. Hastings (D-FL) and Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-NY).

“I hope the Slovak Government will aggressively pursue this issue and take every possible step to stop coerced sterilization,” said Smith. “It is also imperative that the government ensure that there is no retaliation against those who report or otherwise exercise their right to free speech on coerced sterilization.”

Slovakia has about 750 personnel deployed worldwide on NATO- and UN-led peace support operations, including in Kosovo, as well as an engineering unit in Afghanistan. In late February, Slovakia deployed a nuclear, biological and chemical unit to Kuwait.

The full text of the letter on the coerced sterilization of Romani women is located on the Helsinki Commission's Internet web site at www.csce.gov.

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
202.225.1901
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