The Slovak Spectator (TSS): When the Fico government came to power, there were fears of a change in the direction of foreign policy, even though the appointment of Ján Kubiš, an experienced diplomat, as foreign minister was seen as a positive sign. Have those fears been confirmed?
Ivo Samson (IS):They have not been completely confirmed, as so far the foreign minister identifies only very cautiously with the policies of the Government Office. However, fears that Slovak foreign policy would not continue in the same direction have been confirmed.
The results of this discontinuity include the isolation of the largest ruling party, Smer, as well as the foreign policy initiatives of the Cabinet Office. The Foreign Ministry indirectly criticizes some of these initiatives, yet it still has not distanced itself from the PM's most controversial activities.
TSS: Under the previous government Slovakia was considered a close ally of the US, which often earned the Dzurinda government criticism from the opposition, including Smer. Has Slovakia since become a less ardent US ally?
IS: Under the previous government, Slovakia acted pragmatically towards the US. The country needed the support of the US in order to enter NATO, and NATO entry was considered a pre-condition for entry into the EU. At the moment, ideology is outweighing the constructive pragmatism of the previous government. The Slovak government is trying to see how far the EU will let it go.
TSS: How does Slovakia's decision to withdraw its troops from Iraq affect issues such as getting the visa requirement to the US dropped? How sensitive is the US to the Fico government's recent actions, and could they have any impact on Slovak-US relations?
IS:Slovakia would probably not be in a good position with the US on the visa issue even if the withdrawal had not taken place. The foreign policies of countries that want the visa regime waived is only one of the criteria evaluated. For instance, although the Czech Republic is willing to help establish a missile defence shield, the US Embassy in the Czech Republic let the Czechs know that this gesture would not have any impact on the decision-making process in the US regarding the cancellation of the visa requirement for Czech nationals.
- Martina Jurinová
29. Jan 2007 at 0:00