Kyiv, July 11, 2016. On July 1, Slovakia began its presidency in the EU Council of Ministers. It will last six months. Among the priorities of its presidency are the European aspirations of Ukraine. However, Slovakia is one of the most unknown neighbors of Ukraine. Most Slovaks perceive our country rather pessimistically in the light of the armed conflict, delayed reforms and myths about Ukraine, rooted in the Slovak consciousness. This was stated by Maryna Vorotnyuk, Invited lecturer, Comenius University in Bratislava (Slovak Republic), at a debate at Ukraine Crisis Media Center. According to her, it is difficult to attribute Slovakia to Ukraine’s friends or foes. On the one hand, there is the pro-Russian position of Prime Minister Robert Fico, and on the other – the pro-Ukrainian President Andrej Kiska. The results of the March elections to the Hungarian parliament are rather favorable for Ukraine, because now the government includes not only Fico’s party. Along with the nationalist party that promotes “Slavic brotherhood” there is the Slovak-Hungarian party, which supports Ukraine’s European aspirations and its membership in NATO.
Juraj Siváček, Ambassador of Slovak Republic to Ukraine (TBC), said that the priorities of his country’s relations with Ukraine are support to “Ukraine after the Maidan,” stable neighbors with predictable behavior, favorable security situation. According to the Ambassador, Slovakia is interested in Ukraine’s advancement, in successful implementation of reforms. However, it must show some results. “If Ukraine wants to look better in the eyes of Slovakia, it must develop its communicative strategy. It is necessary to carry out some work with the Slovaks in Slovakia. To say that this is only Russian propaganda is also wrong. There are still security issues, smuggling, doing business in Ukraine and the scale of corruption,” he said. Yet, according to the Ambassador, a lot of people in Slovakia have a positive attitude to Ukrainians, there is some compassion. He also stressed the necessity to develop educational exchanges between the countries. “We should strive for a common future with everyone: with Ukraine, but also with Russia. As well as your country, we maintain diplomatic relations with it. We have economic interests there, as well as your rich people have businesses there,” noted Juraj Siváček.
“The internal political discussion in Slovakia, which was especially noticeable before the elections in March this year, hardly touched upon the subject of the Russian-Ukrainian conflict. None of the parties built their platform on it. This theme is not so sensitive,” says Oksana Dramaretska, Deputy Director of the Second European Directorate Department, Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine. She stressed that the main thing is what Slovakia does internationally. This includes support for Ukraine’s membership in the EU. Slovakia is also curator of NATO trust fund on demining. In the energy sector, 2/3 of gas reverse to Ukraine is through the Slovak pipeline. There are plans to increase capacity. Also, they consider Ukraine’s participation in the project «East ring»: gas hub, which would link interconnectors from north to south.