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Annual Review Conference on Slovak Foreign Policy for 2017 takes place at Foreign Affairs Ministry

Annual Review Conference on Slovak Foreign Policy for 2017 takes place at Foreign Affairs Ministry

12.4.2018

The Ministry of Foreign and European Affairs of the Slovak Republic held its Annual Review Conference on Foreign and European Policy of the Slovak Republic for the year 2017 on Wednesday, 11 April 2018. This event that the ministry organizes annually in cooperation with the Slovak Society for Foreign Policy has contributed to building a tradition of regularly taking stock of foreign and European priorities both at the political and expert level and, at the same time, has created room for discussion about its further direction. 


 
In his introductory remarks, Miroslav Lajčák, Minister of Foreign and European Affairs of the Slovak Republic, greeted the participants of the 18th year of the conference and called for an open, realistic and critical discussion. Next, Peter Pellegrini, Prime Minister of the Slovak Republic, delivered his speech in which he clearly confirmed Slovakia’s pro-European and pro-Atlantic course, recognized the work of the foreign ministry in the past year and highly appreciated the work of Minister Lajčák as the President of the 72nd Session of the UN General Assembly. Discussion panels followed, focusing on 25 years of foreign policy in the era of independent Slovakia and on the priorities, tools and communication within the diplomatic agenda. The first panel offered speeches by three former ministers of foreign affairs, Pavol Demeš, Pavol Hamžík and Eduard Kukan who referred to the complicated start of the Slovak foreign service and also to several challenges in the 25-year process of  diplomacy, assessing their own part in it. They all agreed that despite an uneasy process Slovakia managed to catch up and maybe even get ahead of its neighbouring countries with regards to the depth of its Euro-Atlantic integration.  


 
In the second panel, representatives of the Ministry of Foreign and European Affairs of the Slovak Republic, Ministry of Defence of the Slovak Republic as well as NGO experts presented their views on the drafting of national strategic documents, on the ministerial integration in the area of security and defence as part of PESCO, the future of the EU in the context of Brexit, and Slovakia’s presidency over the OSCE as well as on the need to communicate more effectively with the public. The third panel focused on specific tools that the Slovak foreign service has been using, with main attention paid to development cooperation, and cultural, public and economic diplomacy as traditional communication channels. The panellists concluded that their relevance have been increasing and the ministry should keep up with covering the trend, explaining their use appropriately. With regard to these efforts, the academic community, non-governmental and non-profit organizations, as well as the general public are irreplaceable partners to the state. 


 
In his closing remarks, Miroslav Lajčák summed up the outcomes of the conference concluding that “… in these turbulent times, full of paradoxes, we shall seek support in the pillars on which our foreign policy was built and has brought us success”. Lajčák considers effective multilateralism the most powerful tool to be used in international relations. “We are really facing serious global challenges and megatrends which are ever more complex. Their solution calls for an effort on the part of the whole international community,” stated the minister while marking Slovakia’s firm place in a strong EU as another pillar of Slovak foreign policy which provides us with, by means of economic power, rules that are adhered to, examples set in relation to the quality of life and political cohesion, a possibility to have influence over global rules. He equally named Slovakia’s membership in NATO and good neighbourhood relations as important factors, underlining Slovakia’s presidency in the Visegrad group. As he accentuated at the end of his concluding remarks, the task of our diplomacy will be to communicate to partners “even more clearly and more intensely” Slovakia’s pro-European trajectory.