Kiska: Slovakia Should Focus on Consistency in Foreign Policy

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President Kiska speaking at the 17th Annual Conference on Slovakia's Foreign and European Policy in Bratislava (photo by TASR)

Bratislava, March 16 (TASR) – In terms of its foreign policy, Slovakia this year has to focus on consistency in its stances, public support for strategic interests and on coming together instead of moving farther apart vis-a-vis the EU, stated Slovak President Andrej Kiska on Thursday.

Speaking at the 17th Annual Conference on Slovakia’s Foreign and European Policy, which is taking place in Bratislava on Thursday, Kiska called on Slovak leaders to focus on building confidence in the basic pillars and values of Slovakia’s foreign policy orientation. “If we manage to do this, we won’t have to convince anyone that Slovakia certainly belongs to the core of European integration. We’ll also successfully overcome the period of insecurity and we’ll contribute towards a more stable and secure Europe as well as the world,” said the president.

At the conference, which is traditionally aimed at assessing Slovak foreign policy, Kiska praised all of those who contributed towards Slovakia’s successful Presidency of the Council of the EU in the second half of 2016. Moreover, the head of state stressed the importance of development aid carried out by Slovakia mainly via NGOs. More should be done in this area, stated Kiska, as “we are a successful and modern country that is expected to do so”.

Kiska further noted that partly due to a higher degree of uncertainty in the world, a broad internal political consensus on Slovakia’s direction no longer exits. The president therefore sees two scenarios: “Either vulgar pragmatism will win, in other words nationalism and selfishness, and then we’ll all experience hard times and our foreign policy will have very limited possibilities or, alternatively, we’ll strengthen our loyalty to common values.”

According to Kiska, many of the current issues result from a thoughtful hybrid war that relies on the country’s inability to openly and effectively defend its values. The Slovak president described information warfare on the part of Kremlin propaganda as one of the serious threats for the country and its foreign policy. “Unfortunately, Slovakia and its official security forces do very little against hybrid warfare and targeted propaganda. They do almost nothing,” he said, noting that it’s irresponsible.

The head of state further criticised the fact that even though Slovakia officially has a pro-European and pro-NATO Government, perhaps even half of Parliament has a very lax approach, and certain MPs even an alternative approach, towards the official line of Slovakia’s foreign policy. He also pointed out that the Slovak Cabinet often sends confusing signals. According to the president, Slovakia at the moment needs to articulate the interests of its foreign policy more precisely and more clearly and the country also has to stick to its priorities and not question them.
“[It’s n
ecessary to] speak the same language both at behind-closed-door sessions with European partners and to people in public. To speak in the same way both in Bratislava and in Brussels. Schizophrenic communication, different at home and different abroad, ends up questioning our credibility and undermining our foreign policy,” said Kiska, explaining that such an attitude not only weakens the country’s position vis-a-vis its partners abroad but also vis-a-vis the people in living in Slovakia.