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Slovak ambassador pans ‘hysteria’ and ‘populism’

"[The EU] is not an authoritarian regime; it is not an illiberal autocracy which you can’t reform. This is a system which evolves, and it is evolving into a success story," the ambassador of Slovakia to Hungary, Rastislav Káčer, said in an interview on the current challenges facing the EU and the Visegrád Four (V4) group.

Ambassador Rastislav Káčer (photo: GLOBSEC).

The ambassador recently gave an interview to Visegrad Insight, a journal of analysis and opinion led by editors from the Visegrád Group of countries, in which he expressed in detail his views on several current issues facing European countries. While he did not refer specifically to the Hungarian government or its policies, he made clear his differences of opinion on certain issues and how they should be handled.

On the issue of illegal migration, and of homegrown terrorists in Europe, Káčer admitted that there is a real problem.

"We think that the problem of homegrown terrorists in Europe is a real problem that we all need to deal with.  On the other hand, we don’t think that one should build hysteria around these issues," the ambassador said.

Káčer warned against thinking in terms of simple solutions, arguing that the problems need to be approached "calmly and efficiently."

"There is a whole set of very practical measures, but the last thing we need is populism and cheap fixes associated with such ideology because those fixes don’t really exist," he said. "And populism will only unleash the devil – the devil of nationalism and xenophobia. And once it’s unleashed it’s very hard to get him back on chain."

Káčer also referred to views interpreting the V4 as Central and Eastern Europe uniting against the West.

"This would be a complete tragedy and misconception, a completely distorted, false perception," he said. "We will never accept a situation where we are positioned against the EU. We are part of the EU and Visegrád. The membership of Visegrád, for us, was only a vehicle for better integration in the EU, nothing else."

"There will be no policies which Slovakia will support which would help to create any new dividing lines within the EU. We don’t want this, and we will not support it," he added.

Another challenge that Europe has to face is the actions taken by Russia to create an imbalance between NATO and EU allies.

"The aim of this disinformation campaign is to loosen up European integration and to create a lack of trust in the system on which it is all based," Káčer argued. "These, or similar, tactics have been used before, not only for political purposes but also for commercial campaigns. I think the technique is called ‘merchandise of doubt’." He added that the aim of this technique is to weaken people’s dedication to values which are beyond NATO and the EU.

No less a danger is the massive wave of fake news, which Káčer sees as a form of "warfare."

"We should name it, label it as hostile activity and contract against it. We should not let democracy be killed by its own weapons because it can lead to illiberal and intolerant systems," he argued.

Ambassador Káčer concluded by issuing a call "to bring personal responsibility back into politics, and "not tolerate things which go against the substance of democracy in our European world."

Rastislav Káčer has been ambassador to Hungary for four years. Prior to this, he held several high-ranking diplomatic and domestic positions; he was Slovakiaʼs ambassador to the United States and secretary of state at the Slovak Ministry of Defense responsible for the negotiation and accession process of Slovakia to NATO.