Slovaks more US sceptical than the average European

Only 16 percent of Slovaks would like to see United States as a leader on the international stage. The European average is 36%. This surprising conclusion comes from a survey called Transatlantic Trends. which looks at relations between Europe and the United States. So why are Slovaks so suspicious of the US as a global leader? Michal Groch spoke to Ivo Samson, a senior research analyst from the Slovak foreign policy association.

Groch: Why is there such a gap.

Samson: "I believe it is a natural development because Slovakia together with other eastern European countries was highly pro-American after the beginning of the 90's and in the time NATO was enlarged, which means the end of the 90's and the beginning of the new millennium. The popularity of United states was extremely high here. According to the physical law of pendulum, this popularity is going back, but obviously it will come back to some center between two extremes of this pendulum in the next years. "

Slovaks are very positive towards the EU, but in spite of that they support the EU as a whole, they can't comment on the concrete steps of the European Union. Why is it so?

"I believe that the EU compared to NATO is a very complicated institution, which involves issues only minimum of population is involved in. For this reason, the positive opinion of the EU has been perceived as the EU being a provider of a better material life, especially being a provider for jobs abroad, and being a possibility and opportunity for earning more money. So the EU has been perceived in Slovakia more or less in the consumer's way."

There is also a big difference between how Slovaks view recent developments in the Russian Federation and how Europeans view the Russian Federation. For example only 30% of Slovaks are concerned over the lack of democracy in Russia, whereas in Europe it is almost 60%. Why do you think Slovaks don't have any major concern for democracy, but they are more concerned over the energy security and energy supplies from Russia?

"I would attribute it to several factors. The first, if you compare Central and Eastern Europe with Western Europe, there is still this perception of Russia as the former union, as the crucial, main, bipolar rival of the west. On the other side, even in Central and Eastern Europe, we can see deep differences between, for example, Poland and Slovakia. This is due to the fact that for some nations in Central, Eastern Europe and especially for the Poles, the Russians are something like an arch enemy. Something which is coded in their historical thinking, which can be seen partly in Hungary, partly in Czech Republic, but not in Slovakia. Traditionally there were not any anti-Russian feelings expressed in the past. That's the first side of this coin. The second is that Slovakia definitely depends heavily on Russian raw materials. It's clear that Slovaks must see Russia as a very important economic partner and don't care much about the development in Russia."