BRATISLAVA (SITA) The Slovak Parliament started its 39th session by listening to the speeches of presidential candidates on January 29, 1998. Slovak Democratic Coalition's Štefan Markuš told deputies that he is coming from an environment that influenced him mainly by its critical view of events in Slovakia. He also raised the question of whether a Slovak politician needs to be ambitious today and pondered over how far a politician should go in his ambitions. He also revealed the roots of his own ambitions that, according to Markuš, would be aimed at seeing Slovakia "turn into a civil society as a possible form of democracy adjusted to the character of all our citizens taking into consideration basic conditions of Slovakia." Markuš is also certain that those who rule should keep minimizing damage while they bring changes to society. He also referred to Slovakia's historical and cultural heritage that also might serve as a wellspring for his ambitions. Markuš pointed out stagnating relations with neighboring countries and stressed that Slovakia should not start a dialogue with Europe if it has not settled conflicts with its neighbors. Markuš said the "painful social problems of Slovakia" will be the third source of his ambitions because the human dimension of the society has often been forgotten. He concluded his speech with the notion that the future of Central Europe is embedded in unity. Markuš was born in 1936 in Nyiregyhaza (Hungary). He graduated from the Department of Technical and Nuclear Physics of the Technical University in Prague. He worked at the Slovak Academy of Science's Institute of Machine Mechanics until 1967, later he worked at the Institute of Materials and Mechanics at the SAV, first as scientific employee and latter as its director. He is the chairman of the Slovak Helsinki Committee, spokesman of the Forum of Slovak Intelligentsia, member of the committee of the Slovak Association the Club of Rome, and a member of the Helsinki Civic Association. He is the author of many publications. Party of the Democratic Left candidate Juraj Hraško told parliamentary deputies that he as then parliamentary deputy voted for the declaration on Slovakia's independence and its Constitution; however, he pointed out that Slovakia's independence cannot be perceived as a goal in itself for "it is only a tool." Hraško suggested he would make a link to everything positive that state representatives have created in past. He says he is certain that if Slovakia will behave wisely, it not only will survive the political-economic dictate of the world economy's globalization, but also will profit from it. He suggested the if he is elected as a president, he would try to bring the hostile political groupings closer to each other, which would not mean a general pardon or a general condemnation. Hraško is a former Communist party member where, as he says, he was only as a regular member. He entered politics in 1992 as an SDL deputy. In Moravcik's Cabinet he was given the post of environment minister. Candidate of the United Party of Labor Augustín Kurek told parliamentary deputies that the presidential office would be always open for them. He said his nomination is just natural for a party that advocates the interests of workers, for workers could nominate only their representative. Kurek is certain that even more developed countries can come and learn from us. He wants to push for the peaceful life of workers. Kurek is 36 years old and the chair of the Bratislava Trade Union of City Mass Transportation Drivers.