At the Newsletter’s request, Ambassador Tod Sedgwick has contributed the following update on Slovak developments and U.S.-Slovak cooperation:
Slovakia’s role as a security provider has climbed steeply in the past year given the dramatic events in Ukraine.
Slovakia is playing a pivotal role in annually providing up to 14.6 billion cubic meters of natural gas to Ukraine through reverse flow on the eastern border. In recent times, Ukraine has been receiving more gas from Slovakia than from Russia. Through its current leadership in the V4, Slovakia is also sharing with Ukraine its transitional experience of becoming an economically successful country with strong democratic pillars. It’s also sharing its expertise in energy efficiency with the goal of reducing the gas demand in Ukraine.
In April, Slovakia is hosting a conference in Kosice to promote trade between Ukraine and Slovakia, which will be a beneficial consequence of the association agreement Ukraine signed with the EU.
US-Slovak relations continue to strengthen. We hope to conclude soon a Foreign Military Sales contract with Slovakia to purchase some Sikorsky helicopters, which will further modernize the Slovak military and make it more interoperable with NATO.
Moreover, in a recent meeting with Prime Minister Fico, I thanked him for his initiative in seeking legislation to fight corruption, reform the judiciary and open the legislative process to more sunshine. I offered to both the prime minister and Speaker of the Parliament Peter Pellegrini our assistance where desired in developing the government’s proposals. Speaker Pellegrini is expected to lead a delegation of members of the Slovak Parliament to the U.S. later this year.
Foreign Minister Lajcak, who is highly regarded on the world stage, recently has had productive meetings primarily on Ukraine with Vice President Joe Biden, Secretary of State John Kerry and National Security Adviser Susan Rice.
Secretary of State Kerry recently presented Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Interior Robert Kalinak with a special award for cooperation in counter-terrorism and border security
Finally, let me stress how valuable and important the work is that the Friends of Slovakia do in funding scholarships for Slovak students in the U.S. There is no better way to strengthen our relations with Slovakia than sending Slovaks to study in the U.S. and learn about our way of life. My heartfelt thanks to all of you for your good work. If your travels take you to Slovakia, please let me know.
All the best,
Ambassador Theodore Sedgwick