Election24: Kubis: President Should Unite, Not Compete with Political Opponents

Election24: Kubis: President Should Unite, Not Compete with Political Opponents
Presidential candidate Jan Kubis (photo by TASR)

Bratislava, March 12 (TASR) - The main role of the president isn't to compete with the government or to be a counterweight to it. On the contrary, the president should coordinate the workings of state bodies and work with the government and parliament, presidential candidate Jan Kubis has stressed in an interview for TASR. The former high-ranking diplomat in UN structures and ex-foreign minister also explained his position on bolstering the country's security and support for Ukraine and presented his opinion on changing the electoral system in Slovakia. This interview with Kubis forms part of a series of interviews with candidates for the post of Slovak president.

-What do you view as the most important role of the Slovak president? And is there possibly among the powers of the president one that you wouldn't plan to use?-

The Constitution isn't a menu in a canteen, all its provisions are important and should be used. But it's probably no coincidence that the introductory article on the powers of the president, Article 101/1, states that the president represents the Slovak Republic externally and internally and ensures that the constitutional bodies function properly via his or her decisions.

-Some political parties have spoken about the need for a change in the electoral system? Is this change needed? Would you sign off a change in the electoral system?-

Changing the electoral system to bring governance closer to the public is sensible and necessary. I would support launching a debate on this issue with a view to drafting an appropriate bill. I would decide whether to sign it after the debate and the drafting.

-What is your attitude towards Slovakia's membership of NATO and the EU? We've been members of these organisations for 20 years.-

Slovakia's membership of the EU and NATO is essential for our future, development and security. After all, we know from historical experience that states that form part of the value framework represented by the EU and NATO are states that are prosperous, that are developing, and that are able to cooperate not only in those communities, but also in a broader, global dimension. For me, our membership of the EU and NATO is a guarantee of a peaceful, successful and solid future for Slovakia, based on respect for human rights, building a modern society and bolstering the rule of law.

-The president of the Slovak Republic also holds the post of commander of the armed forces. What is your stance on financing the army, its modernisation and strengthening, also in view of what's happening east of Slovakia's borders?-

I consider bolstering the security and defence of the Slovak Republic and its ability to face internal and external crises to be indispensable, as well as bolstering the crisis management system and support for its components - the army, the police, firefighters, rescue workers and cooperation with local governments.

-What is your opinion of aid to Ukraine? Do you support Ukraine's membership of the EU? The Union has approved the launch of accession negotiations.-

First of all, I won't accept at any cost Russia's aggression against Ukraine, the violation of its territorial integrity and attempts to dictate what kind of state Ukraine should be. Nor do I agree with war. During my diplomatic missions, I have seen at first hand how terrible war is, what it's like to have a military conflict raging around you and to worry about whether you will survive. That is among the reasons why it's unacceptable for me to resolve disputes by force, by forceful means. From this point of view, it's essential to support Ukraine in all its efforts to defend itself and to preserve its sovereignty and territorial integrity in every way, by all available means. At the same time, I must say that, in the long term, I don't see war as a means of ending this conflict. Ways must be sought towards a peaceful and just settlement. The Slovak Republic could contribute to this. After all, the incumbent Slovak government is also talking about the need for peaceful negotiations. It would therefore be good if, in cooperation with our European partners, views on how to achieve peace were generated and clarified. I also think it's important that we should look for opportunities to become active participants in such a political solution. As for the question of Ukraine's membership of the EU, I think we have given ourselves an answer via the launched accession negotiations with Ukraine. It will undoubtedly be a long and difficult process. The changes that need to take place in Ukraine are big and deep. I see potential for Slovakia to contribute in this, as it isn't so long since we ourselves went through this integration process. We can share experience with Ukraine on how to face challenges and overcome obstacles in this process.

-Should the president be a counterbalance to the government? Why?-

In the Constitution of the Slovak Republic, in the section concerning presidential powers and roles, nowhere will you find words about balancing, counterbalancing, or that the president should compete with the government. On the contrary, one of the president's key constitutional powers is to harmonise how constitutional bodies operate. And this presupposes cooperation with both the government and parliament. Without this cooperation, based on full respect for constitutional principles and laws, things can't work. The perception of the president's mission as a counterweight to the executive rather smacks of an attempt to politicise the office of president and to drag the president into a political struggle. This, however, should take place elsewhere - between political parties, in parliament, or in a society-wide debate. The office of the president should, above all, bring entities together, even political adversaries, to seek common ground on issues of concern to the public, to defuse confrontation, aggression and tension in society. After all, logically, if presidents label themselves as an opponent and counterweight to the government, they'll only contribute towards deepening divisions and dividing the public into two irreconcilable camps, losing the ability to reconcile society. However, even someone who is perceived as an explicitly pro-government candidate can't realistically do this.

A total of 11 candidates are running for the presidential post in this year's election. They are: Andrej Danko, Patrik Dubovsky, Krisztian Forro, Stefan Harabin, Ivan Korcok, Marian Kotleba, Jan Kubis, Igor Matovic, Milan Nahlik, Peter Pellegrini and Robert Svec.

NOTE: TASR has asked all 11 presidential candidates for interviews.