By Martin Kelly
The friendship between the Czech Republic and Slovakia is “better than ever” since they both became independent says Slovakia’s Deputy Prime Minister, who noted both countries are doing “really well.”
In the interview with BBC Scotland to mark the 20th anniversary of their independence, Miroslav Lajcak reflected on the two countries’ ability to work together to ensure speedy negotiations on independence, and on the prosperous friendship that the two countries have enjoyed since then.
Mr Lajcak admitted that the early days were not easy but told interviewer Glenn Campbell that the union between them made it impossible to have an economic model that suited the two.
“That was one of the reasons why Czechoslovakia split, because the structure of the economy between the Czech Republic and Slovakia was different and therefor it was quite difficult to find one model of economic reform that would fit both parts of the country.” he said.
Despite early hurdles, the Deputy Prime Minister said Slovakia was doing “really well”, he also praised relations with his country’s former Union partners and added: “Right now everybody understands that we have been a success story.”
On the question of an independent Scotland’s status within the EU, Mr Lajcak refused to be drawn into the debate, insisting “It’s not for us to judge.” Asked in terms of “new countries”, he said that there was no clear answer but that it would be a political decision made by all the member states.
Slovakia has been one of Europe’s success stories since its independence, enjoying one of the fastest growth rates in the EU, large increases in foreign investment, and a very strong recovery from the global financial and economic crisis.
Commenting, SNP MSP Dr Aileen McLeod said:
“Becoming independent has allowed Slovakia to take the best decisions for their own economy and Government – and consequently they have seen strong economic growth, rising foreign investment and a productive friendship with their neighbour the Czech Republic.
“The shared values and history of Scotland and the rest of the UK would continue after independence as part of a social union – but the key difference is that both countries would be able to take the decisions that are right for them.”
In a comment on the simmering Euroscepticism engulfing the Westminster Government, Mr Lajcak also said: “I am not convinced by the debate going on in the UK right now because I don’t think it’s fully based on facts, and I think that your economy, your businesses, should speak out more loudly. I have absolutely no doubts that the best for the UK is to stay in the European Union.”
Dr McLeod added:
“David Cameron’s pandering to Tory Eurosceptics is being noticed across Europe and in Washington, and we have had warnings this week that the value of Sterling will be affected.
“It is crystal clear where the real threat to Scotland’s EU membership comes from. Only a Yes vote in 2014 can ensure that Scotland is not dragged down as Westminster turns away from our European partners.”