EDUARD Kukan, Slovak Foreign Minister and a candidate for next year's presidential elections officially started his campaign for the post on July 7. Kukan talked to The Slovak Spectator on the occasion, explaining the values and visions he would bring to the office if elected.
Kukan, currently the most popular presidential candidate according to various public opinion polls, said that, if elected, he wants to encourage Slovaks to be more optimistic, but also to defend Slovakia's national interests in the international arena.
Within his campaign, Kukan wants to approach ordinary people in restaurants and bars and serve beer at half price during his "happy hours".
The Slovak Spectator (TSS): According to surveys you have consistently scored best as a presidential candidate. Does it encourage you?
Eduard Kukan (EK): The results of surveys are encouraging and they confirm that my decision to run is supported by a considerable part of the general public. But I do not intend to just "ride" on this wave of public trust. I have already started and will continue to run an active campaign.
TSS: Many observers dubbed the last presidential elections in 1999 as a vote for the "lesser evil", with people deciding between controversial former prime minister Vladimír Mečiar and Rudolf Schuster, neither of whom had been perceived as an ideal choice for various reasons. What do you think the upcoming presidential elections will be about?
EK: The presidential election term overlaps with our entry into the EU and NATO. We will find ourselves in a new position and Slovakia will need a head of state able to defend our interests abroad, which also requires skills and experience in moving in and understanding the diplomatic environment.
We need a president who understands Slovakia and its problems, someone who is able to work with the government and parliament, and who can encourage our people. There is a large amount of dormant energy and we are not always able to make use of it because we do not trust ourselves.
TSS: You are a member of Prime Minister Mikuláš Dzurinda's top team and inseparably connected with the PM's ruling SDKÚ. Do you think that your links with the party could turn out to be a drawback for you in the race?
EK: The president must stand above politics but that does not mean that he should be apolitical. In my opinion it would be quite naive to imagine that a person untouched by politics, a person without any political opinion, could become president.
A president must have the courage to resist temptation. The role model of my generation, former US president John F Kennedy, formulated three such temptations - the temptation of seeing things from a particular political view, the temptation to always soothe public opinion, and finally the temptation to accommodate the interests of pressure groups. I recognise these temptations and have the courage to face them.
I think that people already know me well enough to trust that if I am elected, I will not only end my membership in the SDKÚ formally, but that I really will act above politics.
14. Jul 2003 at 0:00 | Martina Pisárová