quoted Foreign Ministry spokesman Vit Kurfurst as saying Deputy Foreign Minister Karel Kovanda had handed over "an emphatic protest against the tone of (Mečiar's) remarks" and demanded the issue be addressed by the Slovak cabinet. On Thursday, Mečiar targeted Havel, his wife Dagmar and Prime Minister Václav Klaus with rude jokes in a speech to supporters. A recording of the speech was repeatedly played on Czech television stations on Friday. "The Czechs are going to issue a new bank note," Mečiar told a regular monthly meeting of his populist Movement for a Democratic Slovakia (HZDS). "On one side it will have a picture of Vashek (Havel) and Dashka (Mrs Havel) in bed," Mečiar said to laughter. Vashek and Dasha are diminutives of the names Václav and Dagmar. "The other side will show Klaus and the (Czech) crown up his arse," Mečiar said in a reference to the weakening of the Czech crown earlier this week as a result of the political crisis in the neighbouring Czech Republic. Neither Havel nor Klaus were willing to comment on Mečiar's statements during separate, unrelated news conferences on Friday. Mečiar also described as a putsch the events which led to the fall of the Klaus government in late November over a party funding row. "If a (new) government emerges from this coup I will not negotiate with any putschist premier," Mečiar said. Mečiar said he would be willing to support Klaus as he had good experience in cooperation with him. Between March and September 1994, after Mečiar was forced to resign following a parliamentary vote of no confidence, Klaus refused to talk to the then so-called temporary government of Prime Minister Jozef Moravčík. Mečiar said then he also had been ousted in a putsch. Mečiar's three-party government has frequently been criticised in the West for backsliding on democratic reform. Slovakia and the Czech Republic, which split in 1993, remain important trading partners and are still in dispute over dividing some property of the former Czechoslovak federation. In April, Bratislava recalled its ambassador to Prague over alleged remarks by Havel about Mečiar. According to Slovak media reports, Havel called Mečiar "paranoid" in an interview with the French daily Le Figaro. Havel's office declined to comment at the time.