Miroslav Lajčák

Miroslav Lajčák (born 20 March 1963 in Poprad) is a Slovak politician and diplomat, former Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Slovak Republic.[1] In addition, Lajčak also served as President of the United Nations General Assembly for the 72nd session from 2017 until 2018.[2]

Miroslav Lajčák
Miroslav Lajcak 2014 (11981540724).jpg
President of the United Nations General Assembly
In office
12 September 2017 – 19 September 2018
Preceded byPeter Thomson
Succeeded byMaría Fernanda Espinosa
9th and 11th Minister of Foreign Affairs
In office
4 April 2012 – 20 March 2020
Prime MinisterRobert Fico
Peter Pellegrini
Preceded byMikuláš Dzurinda
Succeeded byIvan Korčok
In office
26 January 2009 – 8 July 2010
Prime MinisterRobert Fico
Preceded byJán Kubiš
Succeeded byMikuláš Dzurinda
Chair of the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe
In office
1 January 2019 – 1 January 2020
Preceded byEnzo Moavero Milanesi
Succeeded byEdi Rama
High Representative for Bosnia and Herzegovina
In office
1 July 2007 – 28 February 2009
Preceded byChristian Schwarz-Schilling
Succeeded byValentin Inzko
European Union Special Representative for Bosnia and Herzegovina
In office
1 July 2007 – 28 February 2009
Preceded byChristian Schwarz-Schilling
Succeeded byValentin Inzko
Personal details
Born (1963-03-20) 20 March 1963 (age 57)
Poprad, Czechoslovakia
(now Slovakia)
Political partyCommunist Party (1983-1990)
Direction - Social Democracy (Non-member)
Spouse(s)Jarmila Hargašová
Children2
Alma materComenius University
Moscow State Institute of International Relations
Signature

He served as the European Union Special Representative for Bosnia and Herzegovina and as High Representative for Bosnia and Herzegovina as well.

BiographyEdit

Education and private lifeEdit

Lajčák attended primary school in Stará Ľubovňa. In 1977 his family moved to Bratislava, where he enrolled in grammar school on Bilíková Street. He finished the final year of his secondary education at grammar school in Banská Štiavnica. Later he studied law at the Comenius University in Bratislava for a year before he obtained a master's degree in international relations from the Moscow State Institute of International Relations (MGIMO). As a student, he was required[citation needed] to join the Communist Party of Czechoslovakia. He also studied at the George C. Marshall European Center for Security Studies in Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Germany. In October 2018, he was awarded the title of Honorary Doctor of the Moscow State Institute of International Relations.[3]

Apart from his native Slovak, Lajčák is fluent in English, German, Russian, Bulgarian and Serbo-Croatian.[3]

He is married to Jarmila Lajčáková-Hargašová, a Slovak TV news presenter. They have two daughters.[4]

Diplomatic career (1988-2005)Edit

A member of the Communist Party, Lajčák joined the Czechoslovak foreign ministry in 1988. Between 1991 and 1993 Lajčák was posted to the Czechoslovak and subsequently Slovak embassy in Moscow. He was Slovakia's ambassador to Japan between 1994 and 1998. Between 1993 and 1994, he served as the chef de cabinet of Slovakia's then Foreign Minister and later Prime Minister, Jozef Moravčík. Between 2001 and 2005, Lajčák was based in Belgrade as Slovakia's Ambassador to the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia (later Serbia and Montenegro), with competence also on Albania and the Republic of Macedonia.

Supervisor of Montenegro's independence referendum (2005)Edit

In 2005 the EU diplomacy chief Javier Solana called Lajčák to supervise the 2006 Montenegrin independence referendum, which was narrowly approved.[5] Serbs and Montenegrins remember him as a tough though fair negotiator.

International High Representative for Bosnia and Herzegovina (2007-2009)Edit

On 30 June 2007. Solana again chose Lajčák to succeed to Christian Schwarz-Schilling as the double-hatted High Representative for Bosnia and Herzegovina/EU Special Representative for Bosnia and Herzegovina (OHR/EUSR).[6] He was soon acclaimed as "person of the year" by both Banja Luka-based Nezavisne novine[7] and Sarajevo-based Dnevni Avaz[8] dailies. Lajčák acted in 2007–09 in line with a moderately strong role of the OHR (using Bonn powers more than Schwarz-Schilling but less than Paddy Ashdown); critics of the international supervision of Bosnia and Herzegovina, including David Chandler, pointed to his "authoritarian stance" as responsible for creating a further crisis by trying to impose major institutional change and alter the Dayton peace agreement framework without domestic ownership or legitimacy.[9] Lajčák is deemed to have achieved results on the ground but at the price of endangering the credibility of EU conditionality by accepting merely cosmetic legal changes. The reasons behind his sudden departure from BiH in January 2009 also remain unclear.

Lajčák did resort to the use of the Bonn Powers in the crisis related to the 2007 Law on the Council of Ministers, which caused a showdown with Milorad Dodik’s SNSD.[10] The law, aimed at revising decision-making procedures to make the BiH government less prone to blockages, triggered the resignation of the Bosnian prime minister Nikola Spiric (SNSD) and withdrawal of Bosnian Serbs from state institutions. The OHR then published an “authentic interpretation” of the law, claiming that it did not intend to change the composition of the Council of Ministers.[11] Lajčák also removed RS police officials deemed complicit in war crimes.[12] Upon instructions of Solana,[13] Lajčák contented himself of cosmetic changes to bring to an end the police reform saga,[14] leading to the signature of the Stabilisation and Association Agreement between Bosnia and Herzegovina and the EU in June 2008, despite claims that the EU had lost his credibility by lowering the bar which had been set by Paddy Ashdown in 2005. Lajčák suddenly announced his departure in January 2009,[15] citing “frustrations” with the office (“I don’t want to be the rider of a dead horse”);[16] he claimed that Bonn powers prevented Bosnia and Herzegovina from addressing its issues.[17] In August 2008, Lajčák asked BiH Presidency member Zeljko Komsic to “explain” his congratulations to Croatia on the Day of Victory, due to the different vision of operation Oluja in Republika Srpska and Croatia.[18]

Minister of Foreign Affairs of Slovakia (2009-2010, 2012-2020)Edit

 
Lajčák (right) with US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo in February 2019

From 26 January 2009 until July 2010, Lajčák served as Minister of Foreign Affairs in Robert Fico's First Cabinet.[19]

From December 2010 to April 2012 Lajčák served as Managing Director for Russia, Eastern Neighbourhood and the Western Balkans in the EU's External Action Service.[20]

In April 2012 Lajčák was appointed again, as an independent, to the post of foreign minister and deputy prime minister in Robert Fico's Second Cabinet.[21]

In June 2012, Lajčák visited Milorad Dodik in Banja Luka.[22] After the 2014 Bosnian general election, he encouraged Dodik's SNSD party to enter the government coalition, despite having lost the Presidency seat, claiming that "new authorities must have legitimacy."[23] They met in Banja Luka again in November 2016.[24]

At the height of the Crimea Crisis, in May 2014, he visited Moscow and met with the Russian foreign minister Lavrov and deputy prime minister Dmitry Rogozin, whose name Slovak diplomats had previously unsuccessfully tried to erase from the EU sanctions list. Rogozin and Lajčák were co-chairs of a joint Slovak-Russian cooperation body.[25]

In November 2015 Lajčák's Slovakia voted against Kosovo's membership in UNESCO. Lajčák later explained that Slovakia wanted Belgrade and Pristina to interpret it as a message, that the international community expects parties to submit such proposals on the basis of mutual agreement and consent. "Our interest is to strengthen the dialogue. One of the reasons why we took a negative attitude is that the issue was not the subject of the dialogue and we are afraid it could worsen it," he added.[26]

In 2016 Lajčák called on the EU to abandon its “ideological” approach to Russia and ease sanctions.[27] In October 2018 he received an honorary Ph.D. from Moscow's MGIMO, where he had graduated in 1987.[28]

In October 2018, he threatened to freeze relations with Vietnam over the case of a Vietnamese businessman who was kidnapped by Vietnamese agents and smuggled back home through Slovakia.[29]

In November 2018 Lajcak lambasted as “anti-democratic” the proposed Kosovo/Serbia land swap and cautioned against the regional repercussions of such a proposal.[30] In the same month, Slovakia abstained on Kosovo's membership in Interpol.[31]

Since 2019, Lajčák has been serving on the Transatlantic Task Force of the German Marshall Fund and the Bundeskanzler-Helmut-Schmidt-Stiftung (BKHS), co-chaired by Karen Donfried and Wolfgang Ischinger.[32]

In September 2019, Lajčák received an honorary Ph.D. by Bosnian Croat leader Dragan Covic at the University of Mostar.[33] He also repeated Bosnian Croat lines concerning the lack of legitimacy as a Croat of Bosnian Presidency member Zeljko Komsic.[34]

Following the adoption by the Croatian Parliament of a “Resolution on the Position of Croats in BiH and the European Way of BiH”, Lajčák did not join three ex-OHR (Paddy Ashdown, Christian Schwarz-Schilling, Carl Bildt) who co-signed a letter denouncing the interference of Croatia in the domestic affairs of Bosnia and Herzegovina; rather, he commented that Bosnian Croats should be made to feel equal.[35]

Between the EU-facilitated 5 August political agreement and the December breakthrough on a new SNSD-led government, on 27 Oct 2019, Lajčák invited both Milorad Dodik and Dragan Covic to Bratislava for “international mediation.”[36] The meeting was criticized for not including the Bosniak side.[37] “Lajcak lost the trust of Bosnian public with these biased moves and discredited himself,” underlined the then caretaker prime minister of Bosnia and Herzegovina Denis Zvizdic himself.[38]

In March 2020, following the 2020 Slovak parliamentary election, Lajčák lost his place as Foreign Minister.

EEAS Managing Director for Russia, Eastern Neighbourhood and the Western Balkans (2010-2012)Edit

From 2010 to 2012, Lajčák helped shape the newly formed diplomatic service of the European Union, the European External Action Service, as its Managing Director for Europe and Central Asia. In addition, he also served as the EU ́s Chief Negotiator for the Ukraine–European Union Association Agreement and Moldova–European Union Association Agreement, as well as the EU Representative for the “5+2 Talks” on the Transnistrian Settlement Process.[39]

Slovak Republic Presidency of the Council of the EU (2016)Edit

In June 2016, Slovakia took over the Presidency of the EU Council.[40] In his speech presenting the priorities for the Slovak Presidency Lajčák said "Today, we call the EU our home, the euro our currency and Schengen our area. The Presidency is the culmination of our integration journey. We are at the core of Europe. And we are grateful for that because we were given a lot. It´s time to give back."[41]

In November 2016, following revelations by a whistleblower, Transparency International Slovakia accused Lajčák of dubious procurement contracts during the Slovak EU Council Presidency.[42][43]

During the 2016 Slovak Presidency, the Council of the European Union did not agree on conclusions on EU enlargement; the "conclusions of the Presidency"[44] which were issued instead of the usual Council conclusions were criticized for their wording and lack of legal value.[45]

Candidacy for United Nations Secretary-GeneralEdit

From May 2016, Lajčák was one official candidate for the Eastern European Group to succeed to Ban Ki-moon during the 2016 United Nations Secretary-General selection;[46] he received two "discourage" votes from the 5 permanent members of the UN Security Council and was not elected.

Among other issues, Lajčák, in his candidacy for UN Secretary-General, addressed the issue of sexual exploitation and abuse by UN peacekeepers,[47][48][49]

President of the United Nations General Assembly (2017-2018)Edit

Lajčák also served as President of the 72nd Session of the UN General Assembly from 2017 to 2018 where he advocated for dialogue, strengthening multilateralism and the need to serve all people. He was the first president to publish his financial disclosure summary.[50]

OSCE Chairperson-in-Office (2019)Edit

In 2019, Lajčák was particularly active in East and South-East Europe as Chairperson-in-office of the OSCE. Slovakia's OSCE Chairmanship focused on people, dialogue and stability.[51] During his tenure, Lajčák visited 15 OSCE field presences[52] to highlight the OSCE's important work on the ground, and held high-level talks with interlocutors in the OSCE region, including Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov in February,[53] June,[54] and September 2019[55], as well as US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo in April 2019.[56] Ahead of the 26th OSCE Ministerial Council, Lajčák shared his Bratislava Appeal, an informal initiative addressed to foreign ministers from across the OSCE area arguing for more support to the OSCE and multilateralism.[57]

EU Special Representative for the Serbia-Kosovo Dialogue (2020)Edit

On 3 April 2020, Lajčák was appointed by the EU Council as EU Special Representative for the Belgrade-Pristina Dialogue and other Western Balkan regional issues. His 12-months mandate includes the tasks to achieve comprehensive normalization of the relations between Serbia and Kosovo, improve good neighborly relations and reconciliation between partners in the Western Balkans, helping them overcome the legacy of the past, and contribute to the consistency and effectiveness of EU action in the Western Balkans.[58]

Other activitiesEdit

See alsoEdit

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ (www.aglo.sk), AGLO solutions. "Members of the Government - Úrad vlády SR". www.vlada.gov.sk.
  2. ^ "President of the 72nd Session - General Assembly of the United Nations". www.un.org.
  3. ^ a b http://www.setimes.com/cocoon/setimes/xhtml/en_GB/infoBios/setimes/resource_centre/bio-archive/lajcak_miroslav
  4. ^ CV, MSV.sk
  5. ^ EU wins Montenegro's support for its referendum formula, published on 2006/02/27.
  6. ^ http://www.auswaertiges-amt.de/diplo/de/Laenderinformationen/Slowakei/090310-AntrittsbesuchAM,navCtx=31296.html
  7. ^ "Lajčák is person of the year in Bosnia" (in Slovak). SME. December 16, 2007. Retrieved 2008-04-25. Article in Nezavisne novine: [1]
  8. ^ "Lajčák person of the year again" (in Slovak). SME. December 29, 2007. Retrieved 2008-04-25.
  9. ^ Chandler, David (November 20, 2007). "Response: The high representative for Bosnia still runs it like a feudal fiefdom" – via www.theguardian.com.
  10. ^ McEvoy, p. 152
  11. ^ McEvoy, p. 145
  12. ^ Lamont
  13. ^ Petersen
  14. ^ Koneska
  15. ^ Disenchanted Potentate
  16. ^ Ivo Komsic alleged that Lajčák had been involved in corrupt deals regarding the sale of agricultural and forestry machines by a Slovak company in Republika Srpska (cf. Patria; Patria); the Slovak embassy denied such claims as "misleading statements and senseless accusations" (cf Oslobodjenje
  17. ^ "I am opposing any view that the success of the high representative is being measured just by counting how many times he used his Bonn powers. I disagree with that. I said a number of times that every time the Bonn powers are used, each time local politicians use the powers of the high representative to paper over their own activities, it only prolongs a state of irresponsibility. It postpones a time that has to come -- the time when Bosnia-Herzegovina has to stand on its own feet." RFE/RL
  18. ^ Jutarnji List
  19. ^ http://www.consilium.europa.eu/showPage.aspx?id=1293&lang=en
  20. ^ "European Commission - PRESS RELEASES - Press release - EU High Representative Catherine Ashton appoints two Managing Directors for the External Action Service". europa.eu.
  21. ^ Slovak Foreign Policy After the 2012 Elections: What To Expect, published on 2012/05/09.
  22. ^ BiH Dayton Project
  23. ^ Analiziraj
  24. ^ press conference
  25. ^ EurActiv
  26. ^ B92
  27. ^ EU Observer
  28. ^ MGIMO
  29. ^ Tatiana Jancarikova (October 20, 2018), Slovakia threatens to freeze relations with Vietnam over kidnapping case Reuters.
  30. ^ Balkan Insight
  31. ^ Milan Nic in Armakolas, Ker-Lindsay
  32. ^ The German Marshall Fund and Bundeskanzler-Helmut-Schmidt-Stiftung Launch “Transatlantic Task Force” Setting Path Forward for U.S.-Europe Relations German Marshall Fund, press release of December 12, 2019.
  33. ^ Patria
  34. ^ "Th.e election of Zeljko Komsic as a member of the BiH Presidency is in line with the letter, but not the spirit of the Dayton Constitution, because he was elected by the votes of the non-Croat population and Croats in BiH do not feel they have their president or a member of the Presidency." Patria; Brotnjo
  35. ^ “I think it is to the detriment of Croats living in BiH to politicize their issue and use it for any obstacles. I think we should all work to make them feel equal, to feel that they have their political representation and that they do not have the problems that they obviously have. I think we should work that way because this kind of communication only makes the situation worse,” Lajcak said. Brotnjo; Total-Croatia-News
  36. ^ MZV.sk
  37. ^ N1
  38. ^ N1
  39. ^ https://ec.europa.eu/commission/presscorner/detail/en/MEMO_10_679
  40. ^ Priorities of the Slovak EU Council Presidency 2016
  41. ^ Speech presenting priorities of Slovak EU Council Presidency
  42. ^ "How I Left the Ministry of Foreign Affairs due to Dubious Procurement Contracts > Transparency International Slovensko". Transparency International Slovensko. November 30, 2016.
  43. ^ Gabrizova, Zuzana (November 22, 2016). "Transparency International looks into Slovak Presidency accounting".
  44. ^ EU Council - Presidency conclusions Dec 2016
  45. ^ East Journal
  46. ^ "Slovak Foreign Minister Eyes UN Sec Gen Post". Archived from the original on 2013-09-27.
  47. ^ Laville, Sandra (18 January 2016). "UN whistleblower who exposed sexual abuse by peacekeepers is exonerated". the Guardian.
  48. ^ https://www.un.org/pga/70/wp-content/uploads/sites/10/2016/01/Secretary-General-Election-Vision-Statement_Slovakia-2-June.pdf
  49. ^ When asked in his informal dialogues how peacekeeping operations could be strengthened, he said that there have been "three independent reviews that produced a number of recommendations that were turned into concrete resolutions of the Security Council, of the General Assembly, and now we have to implement." He has also consistently stressed the importance of a zero-tolerance policy for sexual exploitation and assault by peacekeepers, with every question asked in the informal dialogues. Lajčák believes that "It is only with zero-tolerance that the people can trust the United Nations." "Miroslav Lajčák (Slovak Republic) - Informal dialogue for the position of the next UN Secretary-General". United Nations Web TV.
  50. ^ Sewell Chan (May 11, 2018), Macau Tycoon Gets 4 Years in Prison for Bribing U.N. Diplomats New York Times.
  51. ^ Programme of the 2019 Slovak OSCE Chairmanship
  52. ^ Recap of Slovak OSCE Chair | visit to 15 field operations
  53. ^ Tass
  54. ^ MZV.sk
  55. ^ MZV.sk
  56. ^ OSCE Chair Lajčák meets with Secretary of State Pompeo | October 2019
  57. ^ Bratislava Appeal
  58. ^ EU Council, 3 April 2020
  59. ^ Members European Council on Foreign Relations.

External linksEdit

Diplomatic posts
Preceded by
Christian Schwarz-Schilling
High Representative for Bosnia and Herzegovina
2007–2009
Succeeded by
Valentin Inzko
Preceded by
Peter Thomson
President of the United Nations General Assembly
2017–present
Succeeded by
María Fernanda Espinosa
Political offices
Preceded by
Ján Kubiš
Minister of Foreign Affairs
2009–2010
Succeeded by
Mikuláš Dzurinda
Preceded by
Mikuláš Dzurinda
Minister of Foreign Affairs
2012–2020
Succeeded by
Ivan Korčok