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INTERVIEW WITH FOREIGN POLICY SPECIALIST IVO SAMSON

Foreign Ministry apologizing for government

The Slovak Spectator (TSS): Do the recent developments in Slovakia's foreign policy indicate any major change in substance?

Ivo Samson (IS):There has been no major change in foreign policy, but there has been a considerable change in style. The Government Office is taking over foreign policy initiatives, leaving the Foreign Ministry to explain them and apologize for them afterwards. This is a step backward from the previous government.


TSS: How do you think the diplomatic community interpreted the prime minister's presence at the celebration of the Cuban revolution on January 11?

IS:It could only be interpreted in one way - compared to other new EU democracies, Slovakia is much more open to Cuba's communist dictatorship. It probably confirmed fears in the EU and the US that given that the [Slovak] government is composed largely of former communists, it will simply not be able to resist [keeping alive] ties to former allied regimes.


TSS: According to former Foreign Minister Eduard Kukan, Fico's foreign policy is damaging Slovakia's interests. Do you agree?

IS: [Fico's] foreign policy initiatives have so far only damaged the prediction that after the 2006 general elections, Slovakia would maintain continuity in foreign policy. Only time will tell whether this new direction in foreign policy will also damage Slovakia's interests.


TSS: Are you surprised at Fico's approach to foreign policy? What situation does it put the Foreign Ministry in?

IS: I'm surprised not so much at the prime minister's approach as at the fact that it has not been criticized within the ruling coalition. Fico's approach was visible in his statements on foreign policy long before the elections, such as on the deployment of Slovak unit in Iraq back in 2003.

As for the Foreign Ministry's position, Minister Ján Kubiš was expected to guarantee continuity in foreign policy, but it seems he has little influence on the foreign policy agenda at the Government Office.


- Martina Jurinová

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