Slovakia since Independence: A Struggle for Democracy

By Minton F. Goldman | Go to book overview

6
Slovakia between the
West and Russia

Post-independence Slovakia seeks legitimacy, security, and trade in relations with the Western democracies and Russia. Above all else it fears international isolation now that administrative links with the Czechs have been severed.

The political leaders of post-independence Slovakia have not agreed on how best to reach out to the major powers on both sides. Prime Minister Meciar favored a balanced approach to both the West and Russia, enabling Slovakia to act as a kind of bridge between them. He wanted Slovakia to maintain political, economic, cultural, and strategic ties with the West after years of alliance with the former Soviet Union, even if it risked antagonizing the West. Other leaders, such as former foreign ministers Milan Knazko, Jozef Moravcik, and Pavol Hamzik and President Michal Kovac, favor giving priority to the integration of Slovakia with the West. Opposed to them were Meciar's highly nationalistic and somewhat anti-Western coalition partners, the Slovak National Party (SNP) and the Association of Slovak Workers (ASW), which favored Slovak friendship and cooperation with the Kremlin to the extent of jeopardizing Slovakia's chances of joining the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) and the European Union (EU).

Under these circumstances, in the mid-and late 1990s, Slovak foreign policy often was contradictory and unpredictable. While Meciar lobbied the West for Slovak membership in NATO and the EU, he also sought cooperation and friendship with Russia in political, economic, and military areas. Moreover, when he tried to cultivate one side, he displeased the other, with each trying to get him to assign it the priority he had been trying not to create.

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