WHETHER Czechoslovakia splits into two states or not will most likely be determined by the outcome of elections in June.
Vladimir Meciar, by far the most popular politician in Slovakia, is likely to emerge at the top of the heap after the elections and be an influential force in shaping the country's future.
In an interview with the Monitor, he spelled out his concept of a "loose confederation" between the Czech and Slovak republics.
First, he said, Slovakia should decide whether to join the Czech republic after a split, when Slovakia has achieved sovereignty. He believes the best solution is a loose confederation of sovereign republics in which the Czechs and Slovaks have a common market, a single currency, a joint defense and foreign policy, and common protection of human and civil rights.
Slovakia should be recognized under international law, Mr. Meciar says, although political analysts say this would not work with a joint Czech and Slovak foreign policy and representation.
Meciar favors a referendum on the future of Slovakia, but not until after the elections. The Slovaks should not be asked whether they want a common state with the Czechs or not, as President Vaclav Havel proposes, Meciar argues. "This is the wrong question."
Because there are many possible arrangements, he explains, people should be asked what type they want. He proposes that people choose between five configurations.
His timetable is to establish Slovak sovereignty by the end of this year, a referendum in the beginning of next year, and the whole process arranged by the end of next year.