Slovak Relations with
the Czech Republic,
Post-independence Slovakia's policy toward central and Eastern Europe has focused primarily on Hungary, the Czech Republic, and Poland, its nearest neighbors, and also on Romania. While Slovakia has had some serious problems with Hungary and the Czech Republic, inherited from the past, its relations with Romania and Poland for the most part have been friendly and cooperative. Romania was always a logical friend of Slovakia because of shared difficulties with Hungary regarding treatment of Hungarian minorities. Poland has been consistently sympathetic to Slovak efforts to join NATO and participate as an equal partner in the so-called Visegrad grouping of central European countries that has been meeting periodically since the early 1990s to discuss and address problems of concern to the northern area of Eastern Europe. All four countries are eager to discourage Slovakia from seeking intimacy with post-Communist Russia, which appears bent on trying to restore some of the influence it had in central and Eastern Europe in the Soviet era.
Underlying Slovakia's policy toward its neighbors in central and Eastern Europe are considerations of security, trade, and political legitimacy. Slovakia wants friends in the region with which it can cooperate to assure the permanence of its independence. It also wants to continue and expand the extensive trade links it had developed with its neighbors during the Communist era and on which its economic growth and well-being depend. Moreover, the Slovak government's legitimacy at home is strengthened by good relations with its well-established, influential, and comparatively well-off neighbors in Central Europe.