Coalition representatives speaking on RTVS’s programme ‘O 5 Minut 12’ (Five Minutes to Twelve) on Sunday said that they view Slovakia’s stance and its diplomatic approach in the case of Russian ex-spy Sergei Skripal, who was poisoned with a nerve agent in Great Britain in March, as correct and considered, but Opposition MPs said on the same show that the official steps taken were incorrect or even the worst possible.
Parliamentary European affairs committee head Lubos Blaha (Smer-SD) claimed that although the western powers wanted Slovakia to expel Russian diplomats, they failed to submit evidence demonstrating Russia’s guilt. “It can’t work like this that Big Brother from beyond the ocean orders something and we automatically switch our brains off,” stated Blaha, who also pointed to other EU-member states. “Some of them expelled Russian diplomats, while others, such as Austria, have done nothing at all,” he stressed. “We’ve chosen the golden mean,” said Blaha, alluding to the withdrawal of the Slovak ambassador from Moscow.
Conversely, parliamentary European affairs committee vice-chair Martin Klus (Freedom and Solidarity/SaS) thinks that the Russians were the only ones who had a motive. Therefore, Slovakia should have taken more resolute action. “The Allies were asking us for help, but our reaction was insufficient and late, especially when Slovakia was mentioned by then Russians as one of the countries from where [the nerve agent] Novichok might have come. Even though they apologised, a democratic country must react to this,” stressed Klus.
Parliamentary foreign affairs committee vice-chair Jaroslav Paska (Slovak National Party/SNS) stated that although the lethal nerve agent Novichok comes from the former Soviet Union, other countries do have it as well. “Everybody knows that Novichok was also produced in Uzbekistan, where the Americans took whole labs and technology from,” he said. “So, it’s not enough to say that the substance was developed in Russia, but also whether it was imported from Russia and if it was used by the Russians,” stated Paska. He believes that Slovak diplomacy reacted correctly, and he stressed the need to wait for the results of a further investigation.
Parliamentary defence and security committee member Milan Krajniak (We Are Family) is convinced of the opposite. “Our diplomacy reacted to the Skripal case in the worst possible way,” he said. “Either we don’t trust the Russians, and then we should expel Russian diplomats, or we do trust them, and then there’s no need to withdraw our ambassador from Moscow,” he stressed.
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