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Faculty of Social Studies

Department of Political Science

Department of International Relations and European Studies

Monica Dobrovolny

UČO 268175

A Comparison of Czech and Slovak Foreign Policies towards the United States and Russia from 1993 to 2008

Master Thesis in European Politics

Supervisor: doc. PhDr. Břetislav Dančák, Ph.D. Brno 2008

I, Monica Dobrovolny, hereby sign and certify that this work is of my own efforts and of the cited resources


Brno, Spring semester 2009


This work will compare the similarities and differences in the foreign policies of the Czech and Slovak Republics towards the United States and Russia since the “Velvet Divorce” in 1993. In general, the Czech Republic focused on a “Return to Europe” and integration into NATO and EU structures. On the other hand, Slovakia missed the first round of enlargement in both organizations and maintained close ties with Russia. This work begins by briefly describing Czech and Slovak governments since the elections in 1992. Then it focuses on the main issues that surrounded bilateral relations between both countries and the USA and Russia, as well as their development. Next, it applies the foreign policy ideologies of Atlanticism, Europeanism, Internationalism and Autonomism to the different governments that were in power during the 1993-2008 period, and compares which of the four viewpoints dominated foreign policy relations in the Czech and Slovak Republics. Lastly, it focuses on energy security and the effect energy dependence has on the bilateral relations with Russia. This work concludes that both elected governments and their interpretations of international relations, and energy dependency play a significant role in shaping the bilateral relations with Russia and consequently the USA.

Keywords: foreign policy, Czech Republic, Slovak Republic, USA, Russia, Atlanticism, Europeanism, Internationalism, Autonomism, energy security, energy dependency.


I. Introduction 5

II. Czech Governments Since 1992 8

III. Slovak Governments since 1992 10

IV. Bilateral Relations with the United States 12

Czech-US Relations 12

Slovak-US Relations 17

V. Bilateral Relations with Russia 21

Czech-Russian relations 21

Slovak-Russian Relations 27

VI. Ideologies in Foreign Policy 32

Atlanticism, Europeanism, Internationalism or Autonomism 32

Atlanticism vs. Autonomism 33

Europeanism vs. Atlanticism 42

Atlanticism vs. Europeanism 56

VII. Energy Security 66

VIII. Conclusion 82

IX. Bibliography 85

Sources: 85

Articles from magazines, journals: 87

IX. BIBLIOGRAPHY…………………………………………………………….87

  1. Introduction

In 1993, after almost 50 years of marriage, the Czech and Slovak Republics decided to go it alone and divorced. The resulting two independent states had to redefine their foreign policies to reflect a number of changes. Geopolitically, the Czech Republic shifted towards the West. It is now bordered only by stable countries and it is ethnically homogenous. Slovakia moved geopolitically towards the East, bordered with the politically unstable Ukraine, and had to deal with several problems such as the construction of the Gabčíkov-Nagymaros dam and the Hungarian minority issue were now left to the Slovaks. Additionally, both countries faced similar foreign policy challenges. The bipolar international system had collapsed. The dissolution of the Warsaw Pact and the Council of Mutual Economic Development (Comecon) in 1991 meant reformulating security and economic policies. Despite the cultural and social similarity of the two countries, their approach towards solving these issues as well as bilateral relations with the United States of America and the Russian Federation, vastly differed. The Czech Republic turned its focus on the West and worked towards integration into the European Union (EU) and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO). Slovakia maintained more positive ties with Russia and was refused membership in the first round of enlargement into the EU and NATO. The main obstacle to membership was that Slovakia had not demonstrated a political will to support democracy in practice.1 Slovakia eventually gained membership in both these organizations but, in general, its pro-Russian trend has continued. This paper will argue that the Atlanticist tendency of the Czech Republic and pro-Russian approach of Slovakia is a result of two interrelating factors: elected governments and energy security. In the first section of this paper, I will briefly describe the Czech and Slovak governments since their elections in 1992. Then, I will compare the bilateral relations of the governments towards the USA and Russia and its application to the ideologies of Atlanticism, Europeanism, Internationalism and Autonomism. In the second part of the paper I will examine the different approaches of the Czech and Slovak Republics towards energy security issues and its result on the foreign policy orientation of the countries.

Although many different factors play a role in shaping foreign policy this paper is focused on executive governments. Kořan summarized the functions of executive governments in the Czech Republic. According to the Czech Constitution, the president and government are the most important actors in the formation of foreign policy. The president is responsible for external representation of the state, negotiation and ratification of international treaties, chief command of the armed forces, receiving heads of foreign diplomatic corpses and the commission and retirement of Czech diplomatic corpses. However, the president needs a countersignature of the prime minister or the specific ministry in charge after which the government is responsible for that decision and the basic “day-to-day foreign policy conduct.”2 Under Article 102 of the Slovak Constitution, the responsibilities and duties of the Slovak president are similar to those of the Czech Republic and under Article 119, the Slovak government

“decides collectively on…international treaties entered into by the Slovak Republic (and) crucial issues in…international affairs.”3

Foreign policy is often an area of conflict among political parties and each party gives priority to different issues. Consequently, the party in power directs the aims and defines the role of the country in international relations. Between 1993 and 2008, in the Czech and Slovak Republics, each government had their own interpretation of the international sphere, and based on their interpretations developed different foreign policy goals. The process of transition to democracy also played a role in shaping their foreign policies. Buyukakinci described the different set of political elite which emerged in each country after the “Velvet Divorce”. The Czech Republic was strongly represented in the West by former dissident turned President, Václav Havel. Czech politicians aimed to limit the role of the state and Prime Minister Klaus focused on quickly initiating free market reforms. On the other hand, Slovakia did not have a similar personality popular in Western media as Havel. Prime Minister Vladimír Mečiar favoured a strong role of the state, controls on democratization and slower economic reforms.4

Drulák, Kořan and Růžička have categorized the main ideological trends in Czech foreign policy as: Atlanticism, Europeanism, Internationalism and Autonomism. Each trend emphasizes different issues in international relations. Atlanticism stresses trans-Atlantic relations and focuses on developing relations with the USA and strengthening NATO. The alliance is considered a community based on common transatlantic values, while the EU is perceived in terms of its economic benefits. Russia is seen as a potential threat and emphasis is put on the political dimension instead of economics. Atlantists are careful that Czech foreign policy is not in conflict with American foreign policy. Europeanists represent the exact opposite of the Atlantist stance. They are half-hearted in their enthusiasm towards the USA and often even oppose its foreign policy. The EU is more than just about the economic benefits, and Europeanists aim to strengthen Europe and its political integration. Concerning Russia, the view is pragmatic and the aim is to improve economic relations. Internationalists consider each the EU and transatlantic relations to be equally important as both can support liberal-democratic principles, socio-economic developments and provide a framework for security. Internationalists also encourage human rights, which is not a focus of either the Atlantists or Europeanists. Lastly, Autonomists consider as the most important goal in foreign policy protecting the sovereignty of the state and worry about threats to sovereignty by the EU and NATO. 5

Energy security and economics play a dominant role in the political strategies of Russia and are imperative to any analysis of bilateral relations with the country. Larsson considers the instruments of Russian energy policy to be supply interruptions, the threat of supply interruptions, pricing policy, exploiting energy debts and the take-overs of energy companies.6 Russia has used these tactics in its energy policy around 55 times. Out of these, over 30 can be considered politically motivated.7

The availability of natural resources in a country influences the development of foreign policies. The Czech and Slovak Republics are not countries rich in natural resources and for this reason trade is an important issue in their foreign policy and their economy. Each country has formed a distinct approach to solving the energy security question in their foreign policies. Miller has grouped the Czech Republic into a category of Central European countries called “strategic thinkers”, who complement US interests by working to decrease the Russian energy monopoly in Europe and diversify their energy sources.8 In the past, the Czech Republic has generally considered Russia an unreliable business partner.9 Conversely, Slovakia belongs to a group called “commercial opportunists” which means it does not attempt to diversify away from Russian energy sources.10 Instead, the Slovak Republic offers itself up as a strategic partner for Russian state owned energy companies in order to reap as many economic benefits as possible. Contrary to the Czech stance, in 2007, Slovak Prime Minister Robert Fico stated, “we believe that Russia is a reliable, promising partner in energy supplies...”11

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