Central European Time Zone UTC+01:00
Capital City Bratislava
National Day 1 January
A STRONG ADVOCATE of Slovakia’s European and Transatlantic orientation, while supporting freedom, democracy and human rights, Slovakia’s new Ambassador accredited to the Court of St James’s His Excellency Róbert Ondrejcsák, PhD is a public figure and opinion-maker in his country. He arrived in the UK in late December last year with his wife Maryna and their daughter.
Dr Ondrejcsák has worked in international relations for almost 25 years, moving between Slovakia’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Ministry of Defence and the world of academia and think-tanks. He’s been a lecturer at Comenius University and Matej Bel University in Slovakia (and various other universities worldwide) on international security studies, geopolitics and European and Transatlantic security architecture.
In 2016, he founded STRATPOL in Bratislava, a think-tank focusing on international relations and security, particularly on strategic communication and propaganda, as well as traditional issues related to European security, NATO and Eastern Europe. “STRATPOL established partnerships in Ukraine and Georgia to assist with reforms, and also plays an active role in foreign policy and security related discussions in Slovakia and Central Europe. I am grateful that after my move to the Ministry my colleagues pushed the agenda forward and made STRATPOL a relevant think-tank in the wider region.”
This wealth of experience in security and defence, supplemented by his serving (twice) as Slovakia’s State Secretary for the Ministry of Defence (2010-12 and 2016-20) stands him on steady ground for this new posting. “The UK and Slovakia are close allies in security and defence fields, both in NATO and bilaterally. As a State Secretary I used to have close working relationships with Her Majesty’s Ambassadors to Slovakia, as well as other British representatives. We see the UK as one of the cornerstones of European security, and Slovakia and the UK are close partners with regards to values-based foreign policy, human rights and democracy. Brexit does not change that perception. I am convinced this multi-level relationship built during my time in office will continue to develop and grow.”
Dr Ondrejcsák declares that “to be Slovakia’s Ambassador to London is definitely the peak of my professional career. My absolute priority is to strengthen Slovakia’s image in the eyes of British stakeholders, as a like-minded country that can provide valuable partnerships, especially in our niche-capabilities and experience.” Offering the 100,000-plus Slovak community in the UK “the highest level of assistance is also a top priority. Many Slovaks in the UK are working as highly skilled specialists in academia, finance, business or community workers, so they are an important part of our nexus. I would like to use their potential to build solid UK-Slovak relationships.”
In the run up to COP26, the climate agenda “is one of the most important issues to be addressed in multinational framework. After all,” he continues, “no country is able to handle it alone. Global issues need global answers. We welcome the UK’s strong leadership of COP26 and we would like to see as ambitious an agenda as possible. Slovakia considers itself as a regional leader in Central Europe on climate, and we will be happy to contribute to the success of COP26.”
The pandemic has affected his work life dramatically. “We fully understand the need for restrictions, and indeed, Slovakia has introduced a similar set of measures.” The Ambassador has observed “the impressive progress the UK has made in its vaccination programme,” and looks forward to meeting his colleagues from other embassies and the FCDO in person.
What does Dr Ondrejcsák think are Slovakia’s greatest diplomatic challenges? “After the fall of communism in 1989 and independence in 1993, we walked a hard but successful path of transition, democratisation and economic reform. Today, our biggest challenge is to project stability and wealth towards our neighbouring regions. We need to contribute to their transition and support their integration into the EU and NATO. Slovakia, and indeed the whole of Europe, cannot be stable, secure and prosperous without it.” So too, he highlights the importance of keeping institutions like the EU and NATO relevant, well-functioning and efficient, as they are important for “well-being, civilisational progress and security.” And he notes the significance of maintaining Central Europe “as a zone of democracy and human rights.”
A keen reader of classical literature and history, he believes his love of travelling significantly influenced his choice of career. “World gastronomy is also close to my heart (and stomach!) and in Slovakia I run a blog on the beautifully rich world of wines.”
During his career, Dr Ondrejcsák has “been fortunate to have a lot of memorable moments. I have been lucky to work in excellent places and with excellent people, and together we have achieved many important milestones. But the reception of my credentials from Slovakia’s President, Zuzana Čaputová, last year, in my new capacity of Slovakia’s Ambassador to the Court of St James’s was very special.”