Bratislava, March 28 (TASR) – Slovakia will call back home its ambassador to Russia for consultation, announced Foreign and European Affairs Minister Miroslav Lajcak (a Smer-SD nominee) after Wednesday’s Government meeting, adding that this is a serious diplomatic act.
“Today I’ve used the Security Council session as well as the Government session to give information about the latest developments, and I can tell you that at this point the Government has agreed with my recommendation that we should call home our ambassador to the Russian Federation for consultation as the next step” said the minister in response to the case of poisoned former Russian spy Sergei Skripal in the United Kingdom.
Lajcak explained that this is a serious diplomatic act. “Over the 25 years [of Slovakia’s independent state], we’ve never called back home our ambassador in Moscow for consultation,” he stated, adding that such a measure wasn’t adopted at the level of the Foreign Affairs Ministry but at the political level. According to Lajcak, it hasn’t been decided for how long ambassador Peter Priputen will be away from Moscow. “We’ll evaluate that. At this moment, it’s for an indefinite period,” he stated.
The head of the ministry stressed that Slovakia is “seriously” assessing the additional demand by the British that allied countries should, in their individual capacity, expel undeclared Russian intelligence officers. Answering the question of whether the expulsion of Russian diplomats is being hindered in the coalition by the Slovak National Party (SNS) and its chairman, Lajcak said: “You’re saying something I haven’t said. I, as a loyal civil servant, won’t embark on such speculations,” he said.
Nineteen European Union countries have decided so far to expel Russian diplomats or have declared that they will do so, while nine EU countries haven’t made such a step, or have announced that they won’t make it.
“The process is continuing. I’m meeting with the SIS [Slovak Intelligence Service] director on this matter this afternoon to be briefed on their findings. The process is open and we’ll act further, or we’re ready to act further after evaluating the relevant information,” said Lajcak. “We don’t have a time horizon, nor do I think we should have one; this isn’t a race,” added Lajcak.
According to the foreign affairs minister, the Slovak Republic “strongly and totally condemns and has condemned the use of a chemical agent against civilians, moreover in the territory of the European Union”.
“We’ve responded to this through our national declaration, and we were also part of the decisions taken on EU soil, namely the statement from the foreign ministers, as well as the statement from leaders on Friday (March 23). Likewise, two decisions were also adopted with our participation in NATO,” said Lajcak.