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NGOs call for democratic solidarity in foreign policy

IN ITS programme statement the new Slovak government has expressed willingness to pursue "trustworthy, responsible and balanced foreign policy" in order to build upon all the previous achievements in this field.

IN ITS programme statement the new Slovak government has expressed willingness to pursue "trustworthy, responsible and balanced foreign policy" in order to build upon all the previous achievements in this field.

A group of NGOs that includes the Institute for Public Affairs think tank, People in Peril, Slovak Foreign Policy Association, Pontis Foundation, and others, have made a call for the new government to continue in the positive trend that started under the previous government earning Slovakia respect from its international peers.

"We subscribe to the modern tradition of close cooperation between the NGO sector and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, which has contributed significantly to the increase of active Slovak engagement in international affairs in recent years," wrote the NGOs' representatives in a statement sent to The Slovak Spectator.

"We feel ready and would welcome continuity in this joint work, which has been based on principles of solidarity and shared responsibility for global development, and on a common view of Slovak long-term interests, such as spreading European values, democracy and freedom around the world, strengthening respect for human rights, and fulfilling international commitments for poverty eradication."

According to the NGOs it is not clear if the new government is committed to continuing in this direction. Therefore, the group has expressed several concerns.

"We hope that the new government will not depart from the existing national consensus on the Slovak democratic forces in the foreign policy field. This consensus includes support for promotion of democracy, human rights and civic society, support for countries in crisis and dictatorships, such as in Belarus, Cuba, Ukraine, Iraq, Afghanistan, and others, where our NGOs pursue their activities," reads the statement.

The NGOs also noted that Slovakia's support for further enlargement of the EU "deserved more attention in the cabinet programme than just two short, general sentences".

"The new Slovak government should clearly explain which means of strengthening security and stability of the Western Balkans it considers the best, from the Slovak national interest viewpoint," reads the statement.

The proclaimed cabinet's interest "to activate relations with the Russian Federation (RF)" should not limit the right of Slovakia as a sovereign state and member of the EU to express its opinion and reservation about human rights abuses in the Russian territory, believe the NGOs.

"Activating relations with the RF should also not lead to the weakening of Slovak support toward democracy and civil society development in Ukraine and Belarus," wrote the NGOs.

- Martina Jurinová

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