Blair's dilemma

BRITISH Prime Minister Tony Blair is to visit Slovakia for the first time this evening on a brief 13-hour stopover before he flies on to Prague.

In the lead-up to the visit, political analysts speculated on whether Blair might show any signs of support for the country's government or opposition. Slovaks head to the polls for early elections on June 17.

According to the Hospodárske noviny daily, Blair supports the reforms and the pro-Western foreign policy of the current right-wing administration of Mikuláš Dzurinda. Blair himself has been trying to push through an ambitious education and health care reform program in Great Britain.

On the other hand, as a Labour politician and an adherent of the "third way" ideology, Blair would seem to have much in common with Slovakia's most popular opposition politician, Robert Fico of the social democratic Smer party.

According to Ivo Samson of the Slovak Foreign Policy Association, Blair regards Dzurinda above all as an ally "on an issue in Great Britain that concerns him the most at the moment - the engagement of British troops in Iraq".

Blair is also positive about Slovakia's ongoing reforms. "He has praised them and expects them to produce positive results," Samson said.

Dzurinda's Slovak Democratic and Christian Union (SDKÚ) returned the compliments. "In domestic policy we especially appreciate his reform of the education system, and in European policy his campaign for reform of the EU," SDKÚ spokesman Martin Maťko said.

Analysts agree, however, that Slovak politicians cannot expect Blair to give any clear political signals to voters ahead of general elections in Slovakia, unlike in 2002 when EU and US officials were frank about the consequences of a return to power by former PM Vladimír Mečiar.

"I don't think he will interfere in the local pre-election fight. He has never done that," said Jan Zielonka, a political analyst with Oxford University.

Compiled by Martina Jurinová from press reports
The Slovak Spectator cannot vouch for the accuracy of the information presented in its Flash News postings.

The processing of personal data is subject to our Privacy Policy and the Cookie Policy. Before submitting your e-mail address, please make sure to acquaint yourself with these documents.

Top stories

I was in the frontline because it reflected what I felt inside

One of the leaders of the 1989 student movement, Anton Popovič, remembers the fall of the totalitarian regime.

November 21 gathering of students at the Comenius University in Bratislava.

The Velvet Revolution embodies a peaceful change

Professor Ľubica Lacinová remembers her life before and after 1989.

A total of 11 hand-written large-format banners are placed on the facade of the Esterházy Palace of the Slovak National Gallery (SNG)in Bratislava in November 2019. They were created by Tomáš Gažovič as part of a digital project entitled Time-Description 1989 (Čas-opis 1989) and dedicated to the 30th anniversary of the Velvet Revolution

Slovaks live better now than before 1989, statistics show

But many people still yield to myths about the communist regime and nostalgia.

The range of products at shops during the previous regime was significantly smaller than it is today.

Government announces a state mourning for the victims of the crash near Nitra

Flags will be raised at half-mast between 8:00 and 20:00.

A black flag was raised in front of the Government's Office.