Bratislava, April 3 (TASR) – Slovakia has shown solidarity with the United Kingdom in connection with the nerve agent attack on former Russian spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter, and when it comes to an appropriate response to this act the country is behaving responsibly, Foreign and European Affairs Minister Miroslav Lajcak (a Smer-SD nominee) said in an interview with Hospodarske Noviny daily.
According to Lajcak, it would be unfortunate if the international community’s response was reduced only to the number of expelled Russian diplomats by particular countries. “This isn’t a race. We’re being responsible and deliberate. No one can say that we aren’t showing solidarity, and no one can say we aren’t taking action,” the minister told HN.
He explained that Slovakia has expressed solidarity by unambiguously condemning the attack, and the country’s representatives have signed both the EU and NATO statements, with these measures and declarations being adopted unanimously. “We’re taking seriously and are analysing the additional requirement to consider the possibility of expelling [the diplomats],” said the head of Slovak diplomacy, adding that this is an open matter and that there is still an investigation by the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) into the nerve agent that was used in the attack, as well as other investigations.
As the first step, Slovakia summoned the Russian ambassador to Slovakia, and subsequently the Government agreed with Lajcak’s recommendation to call Slovakia’s ambassador from Moscow for consultation. Lajcak says that this is a serious act. “It shouldn’t be underestimated. Slovakia doesn’t use this step frequently. It’s extraordinary and we’re doing it for the first time in relation to the Russian Federation,” he stressed.
Lajcak explained that calling a diplomat for consultation is perceived in diplomacy as a very serious tool; it’s a diplomatic instrument that governments decide to use in situations where they want to express dissatisfaction with the state of relations. The strength of this step is in the gesture, said the minister. “Expelling a diplomat is a strike with a fist and calling an ambassador is a lifted finger,” he pointed out.