Remarks With Slovak Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Miroslav Lajcak After Their Meeting

John Kerry
Secretary of State
Treaty Room
Washington, DC
March 20, 2014

SECRETARY KERRY: Fabulous. Thank you. Good morning, everybody. It’s my pleasure to welcome Miroslav Lajcak, the foreign minister of Slovakia here, and to wish him happy birthday.


SECRETARY KERRY: He’s a ripe old – say his age. I’m not going to burn him. But he’s much younger than I am. So I’m very jealous.

Slovakia is a very trusted partner of the United States and a NATO member. And they have been strong on the subject of Ukraine, they have stood with us and the rest of the world in speaking out against the illegal annexation of Crimea, the unconstitutional – contrary to the constitution of Ukraine, contrary to international law, and Slovakia, obviously, feels this very powerfully for historical reasons. They have been an important partner in terms of evolution of democracy and their market and their engagement within Europe – a trusted EU partner as well. And we’re very, very happy to welcome them.

They’ve also been on the front lines with us in Afghanistan and elsewhere, so we’re grateful for the friendship. We’re grateful for their strength as a small but strong nation, and a proud nation that’s willing to stand up and be counted as we stand up for the international order that has been in place since World War II. We need to live by that order, and I think Slovakia understands full well, given its history, how important this moment is. Welcome.

FOREIGN MINISTER LAJCAK: Thank you very much. Good morning ladies and gentlemen. It’s really a pleasure and honor for me to be in Washington, DC today and to have the chance to meet with Secretary Kerry and to discuss a wide range of issues – Ukraine, obviously, being the focus of our attention. For Slovakia, Ukraine is extremely important. It’s our neighbor. We have many contacts with Ukraine – people to people, political, energy, and other contacts. Therefore we are very sensitive to everything that is happening there. International law has been violated. This is not acceptable, and we must (inaudible) and we are being very active in our national capacity, as part of the Visegrad 4, but also as members of the European Union and NATO, so this will be – very much the main subject of our discussions.

But there are other issues – EU, NATO, Afghanistan, Western Balkans, Eastern Partnership, and also our bilateral relations which are excellent and we are very happy about.

Thank you very much.

SECRETARY KERRY: Thanks, Miroslav. Thank you.

QUESTION: Mr. Secretary, what if Russia invades eastern Ukraine?

SECRETARY KERRY: We’re going to be – have a chance to talk about all of this in the next couple of days as we go to Europe for the meetings in The Hague, and we’ll have a lot of chance to share some thoughts with all of you about it. And I will be, I think, meeting on the side of that with the foreign minister of Russia. So hopefully – we’ll see where we are at that point in time. I think the White House will have an announcement later today.