"I would not agree, as the head of the Slovak government, with the placing of radar or rockets in Slovakia," said Robert Fico in Prague on January 24, thereby sending a clear signal not only to Bratislava but also to Washington and Moscow as well. Two things are significant about the prime minister's demonstrative standpoint on the anti-missile systems of an ally: first, the standpoint itself, and second, the fact that it was demonstratively expressed.
Fico's main argument for rejecting US rockets goes as follows: "Given that I do not regard this system as either a contribution or a detriment to security, I have no reason to agree with it". On the other hand, Slovakia's diplomatic corps has a different opinion, and regards the steps taken by the US, the Czech Republic and Poland as "aimed at increasing security in Europe and the entire trans-Atlantic environment". If the PM believes that the building of a system that destroys intercontinental ballistic missiles "changes nothing", and that this is a sufficient reason to reject it, then it is clear that he needed very little reason to disagree indeed.
The Americans are building the system because the situation is changing, and in a dangerous way. Taylor Dinerman, an independent US expert, has said that by the time the system is up and functioning, apart from North Korea there will be six or seven other unstable regimes with ballistic nuclear weapons. Dinerman believes that the shield formed by the radar in the Czech Republic and the rocket system in Poland will not eliminate all threats, but it will offer the US and Europe at least some form of protection.
The flippancy with which the prime minister rejected the agenda of a NATO ally was certainly noted in Washington, and must also have made a major splash in Moscow. Russia, which in the beginning asked only that the anti-missile system be transparent, is now talking about a threat to the balance of power and the risk of a new arms race. The Kremlin will certainly not have failed to notice that the prime minister of a Central European country has rejected a system that he was not require to comment on at all.
Robert Fico said in Prague that we in Slovakia will have to get used to the fact that he has his own opinions. The problem is not that these opinions are his own, but that they are suspect, and flaunted in a very strange way.
Sme, January 25
29. Jan 2007 at 0:00