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Mikulas Dzurinda

Mikuláš Dzurinda was appointed Slovakia's prime minister for the first time in October 1998 after having led a strong election campaign of five opposition parties united into the Slovak Democratic Coalition (SDK) that managed to defeat the government of authoritarian ex-premier Vladimír Mečiar at the polls.

Under Mikuláš Dzurinda's leadership the Slovak Republic managed to re-enter integration processes and registered a political comeback in relations both with the European Union and trans-Atlantic economic and political structures. The success of the reforms put through by his Cabinet was best reflected in Slovakia's entry into the OECD in September 2000, completion of accession negotiations with the European Union and the entry of a major American investor, US Steel, into the Slovak market. The US Steel investment came with a pledge to invest more than a billion dollars here over the next decade.

The reformist course of Mikuláš Dzurinda's policies was confirmed by a mandate, he was given by electors in the 2002 general election to form his second government. It was also a year when the NATO Prague Summit in November decided on Slovakia's invitation to join NATO; and the country also completed accession talks with the EU at the Copenhagen Summit in December, thus launching its ratification process.

Mikuláš Dzurinda entered Slovak politics as one of the founding members of the Christian Democratic Movement (KDH), a conservative political party officially constituted in 1990. The first democratic general election in the former Czechoslovakia was in 1990, and he was appointed Deputy Minister of Transportation and Posts of the Slovak Government in 1991. In 1992 he was elected as a member of the Slovak National Council (parliament), or MP, and worked as a member of the Committee for Budget and Finance. At the time of the split of the federal republic and the establishment of the independent Slovakia (1993), he was KDH Deputy Chairman (economy). During the tenure of Jozef Moravčík as Prime Minister (March-October 1994) Dzurinda was Slovak Minister of Transportation, Posts and Public Works. Following the general election in 1994, he returned to the opposition benches in Parliament.

In response to the restrictive Election Act prepared and approved by Mečiar's government in 1997, five opposition parties (KDH, Democratic Party/DS, Democratic Union/DU, Social Democratic Party of Slovakia/SDSS and the Slovak Green Party/SZS) formed the Slovak Democratic Coalition (SDK). Mikuláš Dzurinda became its spokesman, and later, on July 4, 1998, its chairman. In January 2000 he founded a new political party, the Slovak Democratic and Christian Union (SDKU), which he has chaired since. In an intra-party election in March 2002, SDKU members confirmed his leading position and following the September 2002 general election he was given the opportunity to again form the Slovak government. The Hungarian Coalition Party (SMK), KDH and New Citizens Alliance (ANO) have joined the SDKU in the ruling coalition.

Mikuláš Dzurinda has lectured at American and European universities, and to both experts and public audiences. He is a strong advocate of trans-Atlantic ties. He has met and talked personally to leading foreign politicians, including U.S. presidents Bill Clinton and George Bush, German Chancellor Gerhard Schröder, British Prime Minister Tony Blair, European Commission President Romano Prodi, NATO Secretary General Lord George Robertson, and several influential American senators and congressmen. Under his leadership, the Visegrad Four - an informal co-operative grouping of the Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland and Slovakia - was revived and gained new stimuli.

Mikuláš Dzurinda was born on February 4, 1955, in the eastern Slovak village of Spišský Štvrtok. He graduated from the College of Transport and Communications in Žilina in 1979. In 1988 he completed his post-graduate scientific research there and was awarded a Candidate of Sciences (CSc) degree. He worked for the Transport Research Institute (VÚD) in Žilina as an economic analyst (1979-1988). Later he was an information technology section director with the regional directorate of Czechoslovak State Railways (ČSD) in Bratislava (1988-1990).

Mikuláš Dzurinda is a keen marathoner. He has taken part in the International Peace Marathon (MMM) in Košice 13 times, he ran the Lesser Carpathians Marathon (in 1986 in his personal best of 2 hours, 54 minutes and 57 seconds) and in 1996 the Rajec Marathon. In 2001, as Slovakia's premier he took part in the famous New York City Marathon, completing the 42.195-km course in 3 hours, 42 minutes. On April 13, 2003 he run his second foreign marathon, held in London. He mended his final time at 3 hours 36 minutes.

Mikuláš Dzurinda is married with two daughters. He also speaks English and French.

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