Slovakia and the future of EU-US relations

Slovak Foreign Policy Association
Since 26 January 2009, Slovakia has a new Foreign Minister. Following his appointment by UN Secretary-General, Ban Ki-moon, former Foreign Minister Ján Kubiš left for Geneva to head the “United Nations Economic Commission for Europe” and he was replaced by Miroslav Lajčák, former high representative and EU special representative for Bosnia and Herzegovina. In his remarks on debates at the 45th “Munich Security Conference”, Foreign Minister Lajčák underlined the importance of EU-US relations whereby he stressed that the new US administration would expect a more active European Union in resolving the world’s problems. According to Slovakia’s Foreign Minister, the new US administration would place greater emphasis on partnership with the EU than its predecessor. Lajčák perceives the US under Obama as more keen to communicate with problematic partners, such as Russia or even Iran.[1] The global economic financial crisis will certainly test the endurance of the transatlantic partnership. In addition, Slovakia’s geographic priorities of foreign policy – the EU’s Eastern neighborhood and the Western Balkans – are going to necessitate transatlantic cooperation and joint EU-US solutions, especially in light of the recent crisis with deliveries of natural gas from Russia via Ukraine and in light of potentially explosive situation in both Bosnia and Herzegovina and in Kosovo. Afghanistan remains the top priority in terms of Slovakia’s physical and material contribution to US-European military cooperation. In a public interview Lajčák reiterated Slovakia’s commitment to doubling the number of its soldiers in Afghanistan by June 2009.[2] According to Defense Minister Jaroslav Baška, Slovakia plans to have 280 soldiers, including fighting units, in Afghanistan by 2010.[3]

[1] TASR: “Lajčák: USA očakávajú aktívnejšiu úlohu EÚ pri riešení svetových problémov”, 11 February 2009.

[2] Mirek Tóda: “S Ficom si vo všetkom rozumiem”, Sme, 16 February 2009.

[3] Miroslav Kern/Veronika Šutková: “Na vojakov číha najnebezpečnejšia misia”, Sme, 25 April 2008.