Democracy? Slovakia’s decision to send jets to Ukraine rejected by majority of Slovaks

The will of the Slovak people is being subverted by a government that some argue should not even be legally able to send weapons to Ukraine

editor: REMIX NEWS
author: John Cody
SLIAC, SLOVAKIA - AUGUST 3, 2019: Slovak Air Force Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-29AS Fulcrum fighter jet display at SIAF Slovak International Air Fest 2019.

Slovakia’s interim government decided to send its entire fleet of 13 MiG-29 fighter jets to Ukraine. However, not only is the majority of the Slovak population opposed to this decision, but an interim government that was ousted after a no-confidence vote only currently holds power as a “caretaker” government.

Polling from Ipsos shows 60 percent of Slovaks are opposed to sending weapons to Ukraine, and of that, more than a third, 37 percent, were of the opinion that the arms transfers would prolong the war. Only a quarter of Slovaks support the transfer of military equipment to the Ukrainians.

Similar results were also found in polls by Hungarian think tank Századvég in January and February, which showed that a clear majority of the Slovak population — 61 percent — oppose arms transfers to Ukraine, with only 31 percent in favor.

FILE – Slovak Air Force MiG-29 goes through a water gate during an airshow in Malacky, Slovakia, Saturday, Aug. 27, 2022. (AP Photo/Petr David Josek,File)

There are still debates in Slovakia about whether the interim government can even supply arms to a belligerent. According to the Slovak constitution, a caretaker government is not permitted to pass laws regarding essential international affairs. And yet, this has not stopped the caretaker cabinet from doing exactly that.

Considering these facts, it is perhaps unsurprising that Slovak respondents are overall dissatisfied with the way their government has handled the Russian-Ukrainian conflict. It has also raised questions about the legitimacy of the Slovak government.

In its defense, the Slovak leadership says the previous government promised the jets, and the issue was discussed by the parliamentary Defense and Foreign Affairs Committee, where a panel of constitutional lawyers was asked whether the weapons could be legally sent to Ukraine.

The government says the panel agreed that it was legal to send the jets to Ukraine, but Defense Minister Yaroslav Nad said he would prefer not to make the actual opinions public. He stated that the information was too sensitive to publish, as former Prime Minister Robert Fico, who remains staunchly opposed to sending weapons to Ukraine, said he would put up billboards with the names of the lawyers who drafted the expert opinions.

Critics contend that the move should have been interpreted by the country’s Constitutional Court; however, the court’s decision was likely to have been negative, which meant the government assembled a panel of “experts” to get the decision it wanted.

Slovakia’s deeper integration with NATO and closer cooperation with U.S. interests has long been rejected by the Slovak population. As Remix News reported last year, “According to a recent public survey, over 64% of Slovaks are against hosting U.S. troops and military bases on their territory, although some 53 percent of the citizens are still for the country’s NATO membership. Per another poll, 77 percent are supportive of providing humanitarian aid to Ukrainians. However, when asked if they would agree with hard sanctions against Russia even if it meant the lowering of their own living standards, only 32.8 percent of Slovaks would want to go along with such plans, while 33.1 percent would oppose them.”

Since then, Slovakia’s liberal interim government has only stepped up arms supplies to Ukraine against the will of the Slovak population. In the meantime, Slovaks are increasingly turning against the government. The latest polling gives Smer-SD party leader Robert Fico 18 percent of the vote, making his Smer-SD the strongest party in Slovakia and placing Fico in the lead position to become prime minister. Fico, a longtime ally of Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán, has vowed to halt weapons deliveries to Ukraine.

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