THE Slovak parliament approved Slovakia's first postwar constitution on Tuesday night, marking another step toward the breakup of the Czechoslovak federation.
"This constitution has many fathers," Slovak Prime Minister Vladimir Meciar said after the vote. "It is a clear signal sent abroad of our democracy."
After three months of rocky negotiations, Mr. Meciar and his Czech counterpart Vaclav Klaus reached an accord yesterday that described which laws are necessary to divide the 70-year-old Federation of Czechs and Slovaks. They set Jan. 1, 1993, as the date the Czech and Slovak Federal Republic will officially split into two independent nations.
Meciar explained major deadlines and goals in the agreement during a break in the talks:
* September to mid-October: Laws on the dissolution of the Czech and Slovak Federal Republic, the manner of property division, and the rights of secession will be adopted. Also, the principles of agreements on future coexistence between the new nations will be determined.
* November: Laws are to be passed in the two republics.
* December: Any discrepancies that may arise will be rectified. The Czech Republic and the Slovak Republic, will be recognized as of Jan. 1, 1993.
This agreement is expected to be signed by leaders sometime this week.
The Hungarian coalition, composed of deputies representing Hungarian Christian Democrats and Coexistence, cast the only votes against the new constitution. (Hungarians press ethnic rights, below.)
The deputies had all their proposed modifications to the constitution rejected, and in response, they walked out of the session.
"Despite our will to understand, this draft of the constitution is unacceptable to us," a coalition representative said.
Mr. Meciar hopes that the new Slovak constitution will take effect by Oct. 1, but insists that the federal Constitution also will be honored until Jan. 1.
During the session, Parliament sent a telegram to Alexander Dubcek, the most popular candidate for president of the new Slovak nation. Mr. Dubcek was injured in a car accident Tuesday morning in the Moravian town of Humpoled, about 70 miles southeast of Prague.
In talks that began Aug. 26, the two leaders agreed on laws to carve up federally owned property, and on how joint currency and defense would be arranged. The common currency will share a fixed exchange rate to prevent worsening of the Slovak economy. The agreement also stipulates common customs linking the two new nations. The laws are expected to be approved in federal parliament by the end of November without opposition.
Meciar, who has been vague about the meaning of Slovakian sovereignty called for a quick, painless divorce. "If all the bodies in the federation and both republics do not work intensively on the transformation of the federation into some other form of coexistence, spontaneous developments may set in and we wouldn't be able to keep them under control."