Ukrainian diplomacy has questionable success on Hungarian, Slovak tracks
There has been no official response from Kyiv to Orban and Putin's handshake in China
- Difficult discussions and unpleasant statements by some leaders of neighboring countries at the European Council meeting on the continuation of financial and military support for Ukraine should not have been a cause for panic in Ukrainian society.
- The behavior of Orban and Fico has its own logical and pragmatic justification.
- Orban speaks Brussels' language, and right now he is trying to bargain for the unfreezing of the "Hungarian funds" that resulted from systemic violations of democratic principles by the Hungarian authorities, according to the EU capital. He boasts to Europe about his contacts with Putin and China, and declares that he is blocking aid to Ukraine and sanctions against Russia. Orban obviously does not want to change his domestic policy, remaining an outspoken pragmatist and maximizing the potential of the foreign policy track.
In this context, it is significant that, despite the threats from Budapest, the discussion did not result in any changes to the European Council's conclusions on Ukraine.
- For Fico, the first meeting of the European Council after winning the election is a great opportunity to prove to his voters that he is committed to his election promises, at least at the beginning of his government. Loud declarations directly to the leaders of the EU institutions and member states should appeal to the Slovak voters of Fico's party.
“Now, EU bureaucrats and heavyweights have time until the next European Council meeting in December to try to "correct" Slovakia's position on both the financial support package for Ukraine and compliance with the EU's common position on foreign policy and defense.”
As in the case of Budapest, we should be prepared for Bratislava's pragmatic, sometimes cynical position. However, this should not be a cause for panic, as long as Kyiv demonstrates maximum pragmatism and reasoning in its dialogue with difficult and uncomfortable partners.
- We also have to believe in the power of European unity and solidarity with Ukraine and the ability of European partners to "push" on issues that contradict the values and strategic interests of the EU.
At the same time, the effectiveness of Ukraine's diplomacy on the Hungarian and now Slovak tracks raises many questions. There is still no Ambassador of Ukraine to Hungary. Our ambassador to Slovakia is also passive. Official Kyiv did not react properly to the handshake between Orban and Putin in China. The silence of foreign policy strategists regarding the Fico government's intentions to violate the bilateral and multilateral declarations of support for Ukraine, which were made at the time and loudly publicized, in terms of at least providing weapons and financial assistance, is also surprising. It turned out that the practice of multiplying purely political declarations with EU and NATO countries in 2019-2021 was more of a show-off and image decision that was virtually unguaranteed against a change of government in the partner countries.
The examples of Slovakia and Hungary once again prove the value of systematic, multi-level and deep diplomacy, rather than a declarative one-off series. I hope that this lesson will be taken into account in the preparation and conclusion of so-called bilateral security agreements. By the way, Slovakia once announced that it would join the list of states with which Ukraine should conclude such agreements. Diplomacy should not be showy, but effective!
About the author: Kostyantyn Yelisieiev, Ukrainian diplomat. Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of Ukraine.
The editors do not always share the views expressed by the blog authors.