Hrnko: Sebej’s Take on Foreign Policy Too Black-and-white, Russia No Villain

SNS vice-chairman, and defense and security committee chair Anton Hrnko. (Stock photo by TASR)

Bratislava, November 18 (TASR) – It was with considerable surprise that representatives of coalition Slovak National Party (SNS) learnt about negative statements by some political “apparatchiks” concerning parliamentary chair Andrej Danko’s (SNS) speech recently delivered at Russian State Duma, SNS vice-chair Anton Hrnko told TASR on Saturday.

Hrnko was referring particularly to parliamentary Foreign Affairs Committee chair Frantisek Sebej of fellow coalition Most-Hid party, who, according to SNS, sees foreign policy through too black-and-white lens.

Earlier in the day, on RTVS Saturday Dialogues talk show, Sebej criticised Danko’s speech as running counter to Slovakia’s foreign policy orientation and called Danko’s visit to Russia a mistake. “He shouldn’t have delivered any speech nor make any such visit. I don’t know about any other delegation from EU that would have visited Duma after the Crimea annexation,” claimed Sebej, who believes that Danko’s address hasn’t served the interests of Slovakia.

In his response, Hrnko pointed out that the Slovak Republic set a number of specific foreign policy goals at the moment of its founding in 1993. “The most important of these were the effort to join EU and NATO and maintaining good relations with all crucial powers and important states in the world. The foreign policy of SNS is anchored in this principle and also based on it were the parliamentary chair’s decision to accept the invitation to visit the Russian Federation and the drafting of his speech,” he said.

According to Hrnko, the critics of Danko’s speech forget about the fact that Slovakia is a sovereign state and pursues its own foreign affairs interests. “Inflammatory anti-Russian campaign, which paints Russia and its top representatives as bete noire and the root of all evil that has ever bedevilled Europe and the world, certainly doesn’t fall into that category. The initiators of this campaign usurped the position of being the only righteous party and, precisely in the spirit of old Slavic idiom, they behold even a tiny mote in the eye of another while they are ignorant of a beam in their own eye [another version of ‘the pot calling the kettle black’ – ed.note].

Hrnko points out that Slovakia is not a world power and can’t afford the luxury of ignoring old friends in its effort to win favour of new ones. “And the new friends can’t act like small children on the playground, attaching the condition of cancelling all other friendships in order to maintain theirs,” he claimed. “Slovakia and the Slovak nation are eternally grateful to the Russian nation not only for the liberation from the fascist occupation but also for the fact that we saw a hope in strong Russia of acquiring our own sovereign statehood during the era of national oppression [in Austria-Hungary monarchy in late 19th century/early 20th century – ed.note].” Therefore, Hrnko views the participation of Slovak politicians in Russophobic campaigns as nothing but them hoisting Slovakia with their own petard.

Hrnko also voiced reassurances that Danko champions constructive and responsible foreign policies. “Europe has many options which way to go. When addressing the State Duma, Andrej Danko was assuming that no one has an interest in being incinerated in a thermonuclear inferno. Peace is the only way for Europe to ensure prosperity and security for its people. And we’re convinced that this cannot be achieved without a strong Russia. In this we are responsible and this prompted Andrej Danko to become the first ever Slovak politician to accept the invitation and address the State Duma.”

According to Sebej, everything Danko mentioned in his speech was a total hogwash. “What Slavic solidarity? The one that enables Russians to kill people in Ukraine? The host, Russian State Duma chair Vyacheslav Volodin has been on sanctions list following the Crimea annexation, and I fail to understand how Slovak constitutional officials can let themselves be hosted by a person who is the target of sanctions,” claimed Sebej.

The parliamentary committee chair doesn’t care whether SNS as Most-Hid’s coalition partner will complain about Sebej’s criticism. “I don’t give a damn. This matter is so serious that I consider it my duty to say this aloud.”