1. (C) Representatives of the MFA and MOD told DCM and emboffs October 19 that there was strong pressure from some EU countries to lift the arms embargo on China and added that Slovakia believed a strengthened EU Code of Conduct would only allow responsible exports (Refs A and B). DCM stressed that would send the wrong message on human rights and expressed concern that lifting the China arms embargo could result in European materiel being aimed at the U.S. military in the Taiwan Straits.
2. (C) DCM expressed concern about the potential exports of Lethal Military Equipment (LME) to state sponsors of terrorism such as Libya. Such sales would hamper the Global War on Terrorism and, consequently, Foreign Military Financing (FMF) and International Military Education and Training (IMET) funds could be withheld from countries that sell LME to these states. MFA and MOD representatives expressed disappointment, noting that many EU states that did not receive FMF or IMET assistance could export LME to Libya without reprisal.
HZDS and Smer Welcome High-Level Belarusian Delegation; Encourage Slovak Engagement
3. (U) Stefan Stefanec (HZDS), head of the Trencin Regional Government, met November 2-3 with Konstanstsin Piachko, Deputy Governor of Brestska region, and Henadzi Prarouski, General Director of the Belarusian Chamber of Commerce. According to press reports, Stefanec said they agreed to avoid political discussions, since &this is not a concern of regional politicians.8 Smer MP Pavol Paska said Slovakia could find more suitable partners for cultural exchanges but added that, &democratic structures exist in Belarus.8 Smer,s leader, Robert Fico, made an official visit to Belarus last year saying he was opening doors for Slovak business. HZDS MP Dusan Jarjabek acknowledged the lack of a free press in Belarus, but &this should not preclude holding talks on economic issues, for example.8
4. (SBU) Robert Kalinak, Chairman of the Parliamentary Defense and Security Committee and SMER MP, told emboffs October 27 that Slovakia should not isolate Belarus because of Lukashenko. Slovakia should encourage business, promote cultural exchanges, and attempt to engage the Belarusian citizens. The international community isolated Slovakia under communism as well and it ended up hurting the citizens instead of the government. FM Eduard Kukan declared Lukashenko,s manipulation of the election &very bad.8 The MFA is providing assistance to Belarusian civil society through a grant to the Pontis Foundation, a Slovak NGO.
Slovak Relations with Ukraine Not Dependent Upon Elections
5. (SBU) DCM and emboffs October 19 also raised the Ukrainian democracy issue. MFA and MOD interlocutors emphasized Slovakia,s strategic relationship with Ukraine will not change drastically after the presidential elections. They noted that whoever won the election would face the same pressures from Moscow and it was unrealistic to expect an instant change in Ukraine. They said carrots must accompany the sticks for democracy and market development to take hold.
New Ambassador-at-Large for Terrorism
6. (SBU) Peter Zsoldos, former Slovak Ambassador to the Persian Gulf states, described his newly created position as Slovak Ambassador-at-Large for Terrorism. His exact responsibilities are still unclear as the MFA continues to reorganize. A rough S/CT equivalent, Zsoldos will report directly to the Foreign Minister and direct all aspects of MFA counterterrorism cooperation. Zsoldos has noted repeatedly his interest in training opportunities in the U.S. or elsewhere. Helping him clarify his role and best practices in counter-terror operations would be useful.
Surprise Recall Attempt of KDH Cabinet Members Fails; KDH Withdraws from Regional Cooperation with HZDS
7. (U) Near the end of the parliamentary session November 1,
Vladimir Meciar,s party, Movement for a Democratic Slovakia (HZDS), changed its recent &cooperative mood.8 Katarina Tothova (HZDS) proposed a vote of confidence in Education Minister Martin Fronc (KDH). Coalition MPs were not present in sufficient number to prevent this move, which may have required fewer votes than a no-confidence vote. (Note: The constitution distinguishes between votes of confidence and votes of no confidence. Votes of confidence usually are used to confirm new ministers, although the constitution does not state this is the only time it can be used. Tothova sought a negative vote of confidence on Minister Fronc. In theory, this would require 76 MPs to support the minister for him to keep his post. A No-Confidence vote would require 76 MPs (parliamentary majority) to support the recall. Justice Minister Daniel Lipsic referred the issue to the Constitutional Court.) Speaker of Parliament Pavol Hrusovsky (KDH) postponed the confidence vote until the next day on disputable legal grounds. HZDS tried to recall Hrusovsky November 2 in response, although both recall moves failed.
8. (U) KDH,s national board October 23 gave its regional structures authority to form ethnic Slovak coalitions to defeat regional governments currently dominated by the Hungarian coalition (SMK), especially in the Nitra region (septel). Hrusovsky announced KDH would not hold talks with HZDS at any level, including regional and local levels. SDKU and ANO will continue to cooperate with HZDS against SMK regional governments. WEISER