Slovakia shares US worries on Iraq

During a visit to Athens a few days ago, Slovakia’s Deputy Foreign Minister Ivan Korcok drew attention to what he said was an «already existing divide» in Europe regarding support for US policy in Iraq, even before Poland, the Czech Republic and Hungary signed a declaration along with eight European Union member states supporting Bush’s policy. Slovakia – which with nine other states in Eastern Europe signed a joint declaration in Vilnius, Lithuania on Wednesday backing the US – is in favor of the transatlantic relationship. Korcok said that in the end European nationals will remain faithful to that relationship, despite the split – provoked chiefly by the refusal of Germany and France to support the US on this issue. Moreover, Korcok maintains that a «desire for unity and for a bridging of differences – firstly between Europeans and then between Europeans and Americans,» was the common motive of the eight states who signed the declaration backing US policy on Iraq. «We are aware of the concerns of the French and the Germans, but I believe it would be too simplistic to restrict the whole debate to war. The question is whether the fruitless tactic of the last 12 years – that is the adoption of resolutions which Saddam Hussein refuses to comply with – will continue to be applied,» Korcok said, emphasizing that his country does not only share US concerns but also those of Britain. However, to avoid any misunderstandings, he stresses that Slovakia continues to hope for a peaceful settlement to the Iraqi crisis, with the United Nations Security Council as the sole decision-maker. «No one wants war, but if attempts to find a political solution fail, the inevitable alternative is that of ‘other means’.» In any case, Slovakia «has no problem» with Germany – a fervent supporter of the country’s accession to NATO and the EU with which Bratislava continues to maintain political and cultural ties. Ahead of the signing of an EU accession treaty in Athens on April 16, Korcok said he is looking forward to Greece’s support and guidance so that «everything can be finished on schedule.» He added that he was sure Greece would play a significant role in the Convention of Europe.