Slovakia Report



Slovakia’s successes with WGAs have been few and far between. Conceptually, a WGA is nearly invisible, save a passing and somewhat incongruous reference in the National Security Strategy (National Council of the Slovak Republic 2005b) and a limited application of inter-agency coordination to the act of deploying civilian experts overseas. Institutional coordination does take place (e.g. in the aforementioned case of civilian experts or when decisions on crisis-management participation come up in the National Security Council), but it rarely produces a WGA effect. Top-down pressure from ministers or other senior officials for departments to approach crisis management in a comprehensive fashion is basically nonexistent. Those successes that have been scored (e.g. the shift from contributing armed forces exclusively to deploying policy and civilian defence experts as well, though not necessarily alongside each other in the same missions) have resulted from individual initiative, EU nudging or budgetary pressures (e.g. when the MoD leaned on the MFA to start sending its own experts to missions in order to lighten the load on the defence budget).
One area in which Slovakia performs particularly poorly (and regrettably always has) is in aligning its trade activities with the other tools of a WGA. Indeed, it has managed to deploy all of its other resources – soldiers, police officers, civilian defence experts, diplomats, aid workers – in crisis management abroad (even if not always all on the same missions and admittedly often only in symbolic amounts), but the trade bit has eluded Slovakia almost completely. There are two main reasons for this: First, the country does not have very many companies or entrepreneurs with the resources and mindset to invest in risky locations – which are, by definition, the places to which the EU tends to deploy crisis-management missions. Diplomats and defence officials struggle to find the right business counterparts, and the government does not have the option of leaning on managers of state- owned companies to participate. The fact is that, with the narrow exception of slices of the defence industry, Slovakia has privatised virtually all other sectors of the economy.
The second reason why business remains impervious to opportunities that may present themselves in the framework of Slovak crisis-management missions abroad is the low level of trust in government. Public procurement, in particular, has seen a number of corruption scandals. As a result, the business community has come to think of the public sector as self-serving and crooked. This mainly concerns tenders within Slovakia’s borders, but public-private interaction abroad has not always gone well either. In fact, stories circulate within the business community about diplomats who exact a percentage of the profits in exchange for helping Slovak companies place their products or services on foreign markets – the latter being part of diplomats’ job description. As a result, few companies are willing to participate in WGAs out of fear that their reputation will suffer.
Back to Top