“We do not play games with Georgia”
05 June, 2014
“We do not play games with Georgia”
A frank Interview with chargé d’affaires of the Slovak Republic Mr. Rudolf Michalka

Recently, the Embassy of the Slovak Republic to Georgia was opened by the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Slovakia Mr. Miroslav Lajcak. “Georgian Journal” hopes that bilateral links will be even more successful now that the chargé d’affaires Rudolf Michalka is very optimistically disposed, having plenty of plans in mind.

G.J: Why has the Embassy of Slovakia been opened in Georgia?

R.M: Georgia, like other Eastern Partnership
countries, is the focus of Slovakia. Along with Moldova, it stands at the top of this list. It is in our biggest interest that Georgia follows the European way and that one day Georgia becomes an EU and NATO member country. We try to be very active to achieve these goals. Slovakia has a system of development aid called Slovak aid. One of my main tasks is to develop various projects starting from EUR 5,000 up to EUR 100,000.We aim to boost local economy development. We have already assisted one school in Saguramo with EUR 5,000. The second thing is the economic cooperation between our two countries. I want to make economic cooperation more effective and find business partners. The turnover is quite small. We want to increase both the export and import.
Besides that, we would like to share our experience about entry into the EU. Like Georgia, Slovakia is a small country. Twenty years ago, we were like Ukraine, maybe at a slightly higher level. Nowadays, from an economic point of view, we stand higher than Ukraine. As for democracy, we are definitely ahead. By stating so, I want to stress that the EU path brought us great success. To be a part of Europe means to be in the club of the most developed countries of the world.

G.J: How long can the period from becoming an associated member to a full EU member last for?

R.M. It is individual. Slovakia and Georgia have a very different geopolitical situation. One thing I can tell you is that if you are willing to do all your homework on time, I believe that Europe will not have any reason to postpone your entry. Nobody can tell you when your admission will take place, but we can tell you what it takes - it takes time, it takes effort and a lot of willpower.

G.J: What will actually change after entering the EU?

R.M: That is a good question. If it were to be tomorrow, I could tell you that you would not feel any change. Entry into the EU is a long run. The previous years are actually the time for big economic and social changes as well as your mindset. What I am telling is that the day of entering is not that important. What matters is how well you do your homework, which is for you and not for the EU. The Georgian government does it to improve the lives of the Georgians lives and not for the EU. We do not want a poor country, neither an unstable state, or a country we believe is not compatible with our values.

G.J: Stability, it is quite the dream for Georgia. How feasible is it for Georgia to do all the homework while its territorial integrity is compromised? Will NATO and the EU help us in this direction now that similar messages were voiced about reciprocal activeness during NATO week several months ago?

R.M: We call it a million dollar question of (smiles). You are the first non-NATO member country to participate in foreign miss¬ions, NATO appreciates this very much. You are a reliable country for the Alliance. We will support Georgia at the Wales NATO Summit as much as we can. But, it is a collective decision and I cannot prejudge it. I believe that in the end we will find a solution that would be good for both NATO and Georgia. Believe me; we do not play games with Georgia.

G.J: Why has the Embassy of Slovakia been opened in Georgia?

R.M: Georgia, like other Eastern Partnership countries, is the focus of Slovakia. Along with Moldova, it stands at the top of this list. It is in our biggest interest that Georgia follows the European way and that one day Georgia becomes an EU and NATO member country. We try to be very active to achieve these goals. Slovakia has a system of development aid called Slovak aid. One of my main tasks is to develop various projects starting from EUR 5,000 up to EUR 100,000.We aim to boost local economy development. We have already assisted one school in Saguramo with EUR 5,000. The second thing is the economic cooperation between our two countries. I want to make economic cooperation more effective and find business partners. The turnover is quite small. We want to increase both the export and import.
Besides that, we would like to share our experience about entry into the EU. Like Georgia, Slovakia is a small country. Twenty years ago, we were like Ukraine, maybe at a slightly higher level. Nowadays, from an economic point of view, we stand higher than Ukraine. As for democracy, we are definitely ahead. By stating so, I want to stress that the EU path brought us great success. To be a part of Europe means to be in the club of the most developed countries of the world.

G.J: How long can the period from becoming an associated member to a full EU member last for?

R.M. It is individual. Slovakia and Georgia have a very different geo-political situation. One thing I can tell you is that if you are willing to do all your homework on time, I believe that Europe will not have any reason to postpone your entry. Nobody can tell you when your admission will take place, but we can tell you what it takes - it takes time, it takes effort and a lot of willpower.

G.J: What will actually change after entering the EU?

R.M: That is a good question. If it were to be tomorrow, I could tell you that you would not feel any change. Entry into the EU is a long run. The previous years are actually the time for big economic and social changes as well as your mindset. What I am telling is that the day of entering is not that important. What matters is how well you do your homework, which is for you and not for the EU. The Georgian government does it to improve the lives of the Georgians lives and not for the EU. We do not want a poor country, neither an unstable state, or a country we believe is not compatible with our values.

G.J: Stability, it is quite the dream for Georgia. How feasible is it for Georgia to do all the homework while its territorial integrity is compromised? Will NATO and the EU help us in this direction now that similar messages were voiced about reciprocal activeness during NATO week several months ago?

R.M: We call it a million dollar question of (smiles). You are the first non-NATO member country to participate in foreign missions, NATO appreciates this very much. You are a reliable country for the Alliance. We will support Georgia at the Wales NATO Summit as much as we can. But, it is a collective decision and I cannot pre-judge it. I believe that in the end we will find a solution that would be good for both NATO and Georgia. Believe me; we do not play games with Georgia.

G.J: Nobody knows when we will receive full membership, but what we do know is that we will sign the Association Agreement and DCFTA (Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Area). What will this actually give us?

R.M: This will bring certain stability to Georgia. The fact that Georgia will be a more democratic, more open society means that it will become less probable that Georgia is pushed back into authoritarianism and turmoil. And of course, more welfare. You have a good ground for being optimistic, because out of all the South Caucasian countries this is the most successful story. You are not there yet, but you are definitely on the good way.
We want countries that share our values. Why should a family have a problem child? And, I do not think that only you have to learn from us but we also have to learn from you. Every single country brought something very special to the EU. We – 27 nations - are all different. Tolerance is that we wish to promote and which keeps us together. How close do you think an Irish peasant is to an intellectual from Greece – how many values do they share? (Smiles). The European continent has not seen a war except for the Balkans and now they are already knocking on the EU door. So, that is how we eliminate the tensions, though they are still partly there.

G.J: A little bit about your informal impressions.

R.M: I came here from Ankara where I was the Deputy Head of Mission. I like the nature very much, but this season disappointed me as I am a good skier and there was no snow this year. I am afraid that I will fall in love with this country very soon because there are so many places to see, observe and travel. As you know, we have a namesake Racha that is the municipality of Bratislava (Note: Racha is one of the mountainous regions of western Georgia). I am planning to work on signing an agreement between our two Rachas.

P.S. The famous Georgian movie “Racha – My Love” tells the story of how a young Georgian man from Racha falls in love with a young lady from the Slovak Racha. A picture of love and friendship between two people.


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