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).