Slovakia's soldiers are home again from Iraq after three years. The reasons for their return are notorious. Robert Fico has always wanted to bring them home, and has said he regards the US war on Iraq as "absolutely unjust".
However, in bringing them home, Fico was not quite doing everything he promised. Slovakia's mission in Iraq is not over, as 11 officers, de-mining equipment and the Slovak flag have been left behind. This leaves Fico open to criticism both from those who opposed the war, as well as from those who opposed the withdrawal.
Nevertheless, Fico didn't have a lot of choice, and in many ways handled the matter more fairly than his predecessor, Mikuláš Dzurinda, who sent Slovak soldiers to Iraq on the basis of a UN Security Council resolution, even though no UN mandate ever existed.
Later, the government said the US military strike on Iraq was necessary to prevent the spread of weapons of mass destruction, even though diplomatic and political pressure had been working. Finally, even after all coalition countries began debating their Iraq strategy, the Dzurinda government kept silent and awaited further orders.
The removal of the Slovak troops from Iraq is neither shameful nor irresponsible. Slovakia remains a respected ally that discharges its responsibilities, although it has ceased to do anything beyond the call of duty - things that, in the past, later proved to be far less necessary than claimed.
Pravda, February 26
5. Mar 2007 at 0:00