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Respekt: Fico’s Moscow visit sent Slovak foreign policy into chaos

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Prague, June 8 (CTK) – Chaos in Slovakia’s foreign policy is the major result of Prime Minister Robert Fico’s recent visit to Russia, Martin M.Simecka writes in the latest issue of the Czech weekly Respekt out yesterday.
He writes that the world media did not even register Fico’s visit to Moscow last week. Their disinterest corresponds to the negligible weight of the country whose geopolitical orientation is more and more unclear. The greater confusion it caused in Slovakia and also in the Czech Republic.
Fico met Putin shortly after the Russian state television broadcast a propaganda document on the Soviet invasion of former Czechoslovakia in August 1968 to crush the communist-led reform movement, referred to as Prague Spring, Simecka writes.
The document provoked strong reactions by the Czech government, the Slovak Foreign Ministry and Slovak President Andrej Kiska, but Fico did not mention it in Moscow at all, Simecka writes.
He writes that Fico did not even take up the list of 89 European personalities who have recently been barred from entering Russia and which drew a sharp reaction of the EU, Simecka writes.
On the contrary, Fico stressed that there exist no historical or current disputes between Slovakia and Russia and he criticised the sanctions the EU imposed against Russia over its annexation of Crimea and its policy on eastern Ukraine, Simecka writes.
He writes that a mere two days after Fico’s departure from Moscow, pro-Russian separatists launched a new offensive despite the valid ceasefire, which will probably lead to an extension of the sanctions.
Paradoxically, Slovakia is in practice loyal to the EU and it complied with its request and reversed the flow of gas from the western to the eastern direction, by which it largely helped Ukraine gain sufficient supplies of gas and resist the Kremlin’s blackmail, Simecka writes.
He writes that the Slovak Defence Ministry has started massively buying U.S. military equipment which makes the Slovak armed forces compatible with NATO.
Fico’s pro-Russian rhetoric as well as gestures partially reflect his sincere sympathy for Russian President Vladimir Putin, but the main reason is an attempt to win over Putin in connection with the construction of gas pipelines to Europe, Simecka writes.
He writes that Putin plans to build a gas pipeline to Europe via Turkey and circumvent Ukraine, which would strip Slovakia of big revenues from the transit of gas, Simecka writes.
Fico brought to Moscow scenarios that would still bring profit to Slovakia, but Putin promised him nothing, which may have also been due to that Fico cannot guarantee that he will be the prime minister after next year’s general election, too, Simecka writes.
Fico’s Smer-Social Democracy party, which formed a one-colour government after the general election in 2012 and which has a majority in parliament, has been losing voter preferences in consequence of several scandals. That is why Fico could not guarantee to Putin that he will be the prime minister after the election, too, Simecka writes.
It was also due to the forthcoming elections that Fico’s Moscow visit earned him sharp criticism of Slovak media and the opposition, Simecka writes.

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