Slovakia orients neither on Russia nor on the West, according to a recent poll carried out by the Slovak Atlantic Commission (SAC), the Central European Policy Institute (CEPI) and the Focus pollster:
The poll showed that more than one half of respondents wants to be “in the middle” of the West and the East (51.8 percent). While 23.1 percent of respondents want to be part of the West, 12.3 percent want to be part of the East.
“We have been dealing with an increasing impact of Russian propaganda on not only Slovakia, but also Europe for about a year,” analyst Milan Nič of CEPI said when explaining the reason for such a poll ….He explained that the main aim was to find out whether there is space for such propaganda and how vulnerable Slovak society is. The poll focused on the approach of Slovaks to institutions like NATO and the European Union, but also alternative media like Slobodný Vysielač and Zem a Vek, whose representatives have already met with the Russian embassy to discuss potential cooperation.
While Slovakia is unquestionably a consolidated democracy, corruption, cronyism and illiberal politics remain significant, if not dominant, features of the status quo, Freedom House’s Nations in Transit 2016 noted.
The growth of illiberal political forces – partly funded by Russia – this week prompted Slovakia’s President Andrej Kiska to use a major regional foreign policy and security forum as a platform to speak out against the rising tide of populism and political extremism, which preys on the fears of the population and demonizes ‘the other’.
Twenty-five years after the founding of the Visegrád Group, the Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland, and Slovakia have become the building blocks of a Europe that is more nationalistic and more inward looking than at any other time in the past two decades, Freedom House adds:
Political leaders also exploited the crisis to strengthen their populist appeal, disregarding fundamental humanitarian principles and the ideals of democratic pluralism for short-term partisan gain. Hungary’s ruling Fidesz party and Slovakia’s Smer experienced an upsurge in opinion surveys, and the crisis dominated political discourse in both countries. RTWT