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Lajčák talks future plansForeign Minister committed to new human rights strategy, Afghanistan mission
10 Feb 2014 Benjamin Cunningham Politics & Society
FOREIGN Minister Miroslav Lajčák has served in diplomatic posts in Moscow, Tokyo and Belgrade. From 2007 to 2009 he was High Representative/EU Special Representative for Bosnia and Herzegovina, the position created by the Dayton Accords that ended the Bosnia War, which is meant to aid the country in its transition to a functioning democratic state. This is his second stint as foreign minister. He recently sat down to talk about developments in Slovak foreign policy and his plans for the future.
The Slovak Spectator (TSS): You are in charge of drafting the country’s human rights strategy. This process has been delayed. Why?
TSS: What is the difference?
The moment we started, we were overwhelmed by a massive, emotional and aggressive reaction [as the discussion turned to rights for LGBTI persons]. Why would I insist on a deadline which is voluntary, ignoring the atmosphere in society? I would rather extend the process six months to give us time to discuss. Otherwise it feels like something is being cooked up behind closed doors.
Rumours have been spread, which are lies, saying we are going to destroy traditional families, traditional values. Twenty years into Slovakia’s independence, we want to reflect on what we have, where we stand in relation to our international commitments and the protection of vulnerable groups. It’s not a law, it’s a strategy. In a way it’s a mirror.
TSS: What will you include in the document?
There is a need for a cultivated discussion of issues on which there are different views. Obviously the LGBTI discussion represents that biggest level of polarisation in society. The Roma issues are of course something that needs our attention. We are not going to let anybody use the strategy to impose the view of one group of people on another. There are also other groups of vulnerable people, elderly, children and disabled people.
TSS: At the end of 2013, you went to Iran to negotiate the return of the last of two Slovaks held by the Iranians over allegations of espionage. What did you offer in exchange?
Iran, with the new leadership, is showing a new face. We also managed to have these guys avoid being formally charged with violating the law.
TSS: There are some 200 Slovak soldiers in Afghanistan. Two were killed just after Christmas and another earlier last year. What is your plan for the future?
TSS: But is there something in Slovakia’s national interest about being there?
TSS: There are rumours you are a candidate for other jobs. UN Secretary General is one, European Commissioner is another, possibly prime minister if Prime Minister Robert Fico wins presidential elections in March. So, are you interested?
TSS: And you have no interest being prime minister starting next month?
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