Slovakia summons Russian envoy over criticism of Crimea op-ed
The Slovak Foreign Affairs Ministry summoned Alexej Fedotov, the Russian Ambassador to Slovakia, on March 7 due to an open letter published on the Facebook profile of the Russian Embassy in Slovakia.
The General director of the political section of the ministry, Marián Jakubócy, stressed during the meeting that “it is unacceptable for the embassy to publicly comment on and evaluate a representative of a country, in this case the state secretary of the Defence Ministry”, Spectaror.sme.sk reports citing the ministry's statement.
Earlier, the Russian Embassy in Slovakia has sent a note verbale to Slovakia's Foreign Affairs Ministry in response to the op-ed written by State Secretary of the Defence Ministry Róbert Ondrejcsák (Most-Híd) concerning the fifth anniversary of the start of military conflict in Ukraine.
The piece, titled "Five Years since Crimea: The War in Europe is not taboo", was published in the Sme daily on February 26.
"Technically speaking, Russia carried out a military operation against Ukraine in February 2014, first on the Crimean peninsula. It invaded Crimea by using military force and subsequently annexed it," Ondrejcsák wrote.
When commenting on the note, Jakubócy said that these attitudes are not the official position of the Slovak government.
At the same time, from the point of view of protecting Slovakia’s security interests, it is very alarming that the basic principles of international law were violated by the annexation of part of the Ukrainian territory to Russia based on an illegitimate and illegal referendum in Crimea and Sevastopol, according to the statement.
Slovakia respects the principle of indivisibility of state borders and the observation of international law. In this respect, Slovakia supports the sovereignty of Ukraine and its integrity within internationally approved borders, Jakubócy confirmed.
At the end of the meeting, Jakubócy handed a note verbale from Slovakia to Fedotov, the ministry wrote in the statement.
After the embassy published its response on Facebook, Ondrejcsák wrote that Slovakia is a confident, free and democratic EU member state as well as a member state of NATO.
"I am the official representative of Slovakia, state secretary at the Defence Ministry of the Slovak Republic, not of the Russian Federation," he wrote. Therefore, he formulated his opinions in accordance with Slovakia's interests and statements in the published op-ed.
"Fortunately, we do not live in the times before 1989 when the Russian/Soviet Embassy dictated who could say, or write, what in Slovakia," Ondrejcsák claimed on Facebook.