Yearbook of Slovakia’s Foreign Policy 2010
This is only for the second time in the history of this edition, that the Yearbook assesses a year which saw a complete political power shift and thus an exchange of those who make and decide on foreign policy. It was an election year, a year of foreign policy accent shift, and a year of institutional and personnel changes (not only) at the Foreign Ministry. For the first time, the leader of the strongest coalition party became the Foreign Minister; a person with the real political power to move our foreign policy (and not only in the institutional or financial sense) a step (leap) forward. One can only hope that the current Government will also have the political will to do so. The first few post-election months have, however, already provided some indications. First of all, the integration of the diplomatic service, discussed often since 1993, became reality in 2010 and represents an important milestone in the future realization of our foreign policy.
Progress was also achieved in strained neighborhood relations. Despite a complicated bilateral agenda, many open issues and rather different approaches, an open confrontation with Hungary was replaced with an unemotional and calm (sometimes even too calm) dialogue supplemented by European solutions. Slovakia’s new “leadership” also changed its stance toward our only neighbor being in a different international regime. It is very positive that our Government came to the understanding that irrespective of the political leadership, supporting the integration process of Ukraine into the EU is a part of our own policy of overcoming regional disparities within Slovakia and thus it is in our state’s interest.
Progress was also made in regional cooperation in the field of natural gas supply security (sadly, once again we only resolved to risk-prevention measures after it had happened, but better late than never). It is a new and positive phenomenon in our cooperation with V4 partners and Austria. From Slovakia’s perspective, regional cooperation in energy mainly solves our problem.
The loan to Greece along with the European Financial Stability Mechanism, were important issues before as well as after the elections. As of yet, we do not know the answers to gradually emerging questions, but we know that it is in our interest to have a stable currency and a stable euro zone with satisfied citizens. It is therefore crucial to answer the following question first: “Which decisions will contribute to the long-term stability of our currency, the euro.”
A significant improvement was also achieved under the former leadership in relations between NGOs and the Ministry, when the NGDO Platform chair and the Foreign Minister signed a Memorandum of understanding in May 2010. It is only good that continuity is clearly visible in this direction after the elections.
A positive signal was sent – not only to Europe, but to the entire world – by the determination of our representatives not to celebrate the anniversaries of totalitarian/ authoritarian regimes which violate basic human rights. We must also appreciate the principal position of our diplomacy on awarding the Nobel Prize to a Chinese dissident, on the release of Myanmar’s political prisoners, and the clear position on the Belarusian regime’s repression of its own citizens.
These (and many other) events of the (entire) year 2010 are addressed in what is now the 12th Yearbook – whether in an assessment of our performance and promotion of our goals or interests in the international environment, an analysis of the realization of priority foreign policy goals, or in an evaluation of the efficiency and effectiveness of instruments for their realization. Obviously, the book only offers an analytical assessment within the natural limits of the publication of this kind, covering not all the fields and regions in which our foreign policy was visible or active.