Slovakia and Eastern Partnership and the future of EU and NATO enlargements

Slovakia has welcomed the launch of the Eastern Partnership Initiative by Poland and Sweden in June 2008 and the subsequent elaboration of the Eastern Partnership by the European Commission in December 2008. However, the experience with the gas crisis when Russia stopped its deliveries of natural gas due to a conflict with the Ukraine has made Slovakia’s diplomacy more lukewarm to Ukraine’s ambitions to achieve ultimately both EU and NATO memberships. Most Slovak governing politicians and the Slovak public blamed the Ukraine for the crisis with deliveries of natural gas.[1] In a public radio discussion, political director general of the Foreign Ministry, Igor Slobodník, questioned whether “the strategic culture of this country [Ukraine] has reached the state when it could be a reliable and responsible ally in this moment in 2009 and the answer is unclear.”[2] While Slovakia’s official position vis-à-vis Ukraine has not changed and Slovakia actively supports Kyïv’s ambitions to work more closely with the EU and NATO (for example, Slovakia’s embassy in Kyïv serves as the contact point for NATO),[3] Slobodník underlined that Slovakia would be more critical in its evaluation of Ukraine’s ability to digest Slovakia’s technical assistance to this country. In short Slovakia is likely to be more demanding in relation to the Ukraine since Ukraine’s credibility has suffered as a consequence of the recent gas crisis.

Apart from the Ukraine, there is no public discussion of EU relations with Georgia or other ENP countries. Although Slovakia’s politicians have generally been less outspoken about prospects for enlarging the EU and NATO with the exception of Croatia (plus Albania due to join NATO), with new Foreign Minister Lajčák who returned to Slovakia as the former high representative and EU special representative for Bosnia and Herzegovina we can expect a greater public emphasis on EU relations with countries of the Western Balkans.

 

 

 

[1] SITA: “Slováci dávajú krízu za vinu Ukrajine”, 8 February 2009.
[2] See Slovak Radio: “Sobotné dialógy”, 7 March 2009, available at: http://www.slovakradio.sk/ (last access: 18 March 2009).
[3] See: http://www.nato.int/structur/oip/all-co_p.pdf (last access: 18 March 2009).