Bratislava, February 7 (TASR) – Some of the public statements made by the Government have created the impression that Slovakia has two contradicting foreign affairs policies, parliamentary foreign affairs committee chair Frantisek Sebej (Most-Hid) has told TASR in his evaluation of the outgoing Cabinet’s 2012-16 term in office.
“There’s one policy, carried out rationally and stoically by the Foreign and European Affairs Ministry, and another one represented by the rhetoric of Prime Minister Robert Fico,” said Sebej.
Sebej thinks that the Foreign Affairs Ministry is headed in a professional fashion and that stances adopted by Slovak diplomacy on fundamental issues don’t leave much room for criticism.
The foreign committee chair also views in a positive light the selection of state secretaries. He called the previous duo of Peter Javorcik and Peter Burian and the incumbent Igor Slobodnik and Ivan Korcok the best that Slovak diplomacy has to offer. “This applies also to a positive evaluation of preparations for Slovakia’s EU Presidency, scheduled to start as of July 1. I think that Slovakia will be well prepared, although much depends on post-election developments,” claimed Sebej.
Sebej believes that the Foreign Affairs Ministry has handled the Ukrainian conflict well. On the other hand, he pointed to some statements addressed to Kiev by Prime Minister Robert Fico, which he finds downright insulting to Ukrainians, although Slovakia was providing aid to its eastern neighbour with reverse gas flows.
“In a number of cases the prime minister managed to overshadow the good impression made by Slovakia’s foreign affairs with his deeds and statements that damaged the reputation of the country in the eyes of partner countries,” underlined Sebej.
In this context, Sebej pointed to, for instance, Fico’s decision to attend celebrations to mark the 70th anniversary of the end of WWII in Moscow. “He wound up there in the company of central Asian dictators and the Chinese President [Xi Jinping]. And, of course, in the company of [Russian President] Vladimir Putin, who turned the festivities into a propaganda celebration of his regime.”
Fico also contributed in a significant manner to a negative impression with his statements on migrants, which Sebej evaluated as needless, misleading and outright false at times. In Sebej’s view, the complaint filed by Slovakia against the EU’s mandatory migrant resettlement quotas represents an ill-advised diplomatic failure.
“It’s legitimate to disagree with the quotas, but lodging a complaint with zero odds of success only works to damage the country’s reputation. However, it’s the behaviour of the entire Visegrad Four group [the Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland and Slovakia] that’s problematic here, not just Slovakia’s. The Foreign Affairs Ministry failed to smooth the edges on this one before the public, which, truth be told, was next to impossible anyway,” said Sebej.