If Slovakia definitively fails to approve the Euro rescue funds, it will nevertheless return to being the “black hole of Europe”. Nor will this happen even ifRobert Fico returns to power after the fall of the Radičová government, no matter what this fully-fledged successor toex-PM Vladimír Mečiar gets up to – which is almost anything.

Unlike during the authoritarian Mečiar era [the populist leader governed with 2 short interruptions from 1991 to 1998], when Slovakia seceded from the Czechs, we are now members of NATO and the European Union. So long as we remain so – which is no eternal certainty – Western democracies will not be able to tackle either the development of Slovakia’s domestic politics nor its foreign policy orientation simply by ignoring it and following what actually goes on here from a distance, and with minimal interest.

All the same, this does not mean that we could not very easily disappear into a kind of isolated twilight zone – a country whose leaders take part in EU and NATO meetings, but are only there to make up the numbers, of no sincere interest to anyone.

A swing back towards the east

Cooperation will be restricted to the necessary minimum. Slovaks will not be invited to bilateral negotiations in democratic countries, not even to negociations with their neighbours; they will not discuss significant investments with investors from democratic countries who, apart from bringing capital here, would also be bringing along advanced technologies and more serious ways of doing business.

However, if the standing of Slovakia does come to this, it will only be indirectly due to parliament having rejected an increased contribution to the euro bailout funds. It will come to this should the fall of Radičová and a return to a Fico government end that short episode of pro-Western orientation and democratic development that Slovakia has recently enjoyed.

Foreign policy will swing back towards the east, which has always tugged at Fico’s heart, and will lead to consequences that his previous government had just begun to work on – curbs to democracy, freedom of speech, legal certainties, oppressed minorities and free enterprise.

Translated from the Slovak by Anton Baer