Andrej Kiska – keeping calm about the Hungarian minority

If we should name one label most attributed to Andrej Kiska by media, it would probably be “politically inexperienced”, in both positive and negative sense. On one hand, people do not know much about his political positions and that is why they may lack a reason to vote for him. On the other, some of them claim that it is better to vote for a candidate from whom they do not know what to expect rather than for the current Prime Minister Robert Fico, from whom they do have some expectations, but mostly not very good ones.

Certain “mysteriousness” is applicable also when speaking about Kiska’s attitudes relating to his perception of nation and national identity. Answering a questionnaire by a Slovak daily “Pravda” he took a rather vague stance towards a possible federalization of the European Union, although he agreed that it is advantageous for Slovakia to be a member of the EU as well as NATO. Neither did he provide a clear position on the issue of separation of church and state.

As for the issue of rising nationalism in Slovak politics, Kiska seems to downplay it a little. Although in an on-line interview with the readers of “Pravda” he said that he would not politically cooperate with Marián Kotleba, on the other hand he stated that according to his opinion people in the region of Banská Bystrica voted for Marián Kotleba in last year’s elections not out of extremist motives but rather as a result of their frustration and dissatisfaction with the overall situation in Slovakia. In a response to another reader of “Pravda” he said that he thought that Slovak people should be able to acquire a double citizenship, regardless of their state of residence.

When asked by another Slovak daily, “Žilinský večerník”, Kiska offered a new perspective on the issue of Hungarian minority living on Slovak territory, suggesting that people living in the particular areas do not have any conflicts and what those people want is just to be able to speak their mother language, keep their traditions and do not have to worry about politicians playing the “Hungarian card” every time before elections. One of the unsuccessful presidential candidates in the first round Gyula Bárdos who was supported by the Party of Hungarian Community (Strana maďarskej komunity, SMK) stated that his possible support for Kiska depended from Kiska’s opinions on the issue of minorities. In the first round of the election Bárdos gained approximately 5 % of the votes which means that mobilizing his supporters in favour of Kiska could have an influence on the final result. However, at the time of publication of this article Kiska had not yet provided any statement on that, except for declaring his willingness to remain independent and not have any obligations to political parties. In a television debate Kiska showed that he did not share Robert Fico’s opinions about recognition of Kosovo’s independence and its possible consequences for Slovakia, relating to the Hungarian minority in the South of the country. He pointed to the fact that Kosovo’s independence meant an end to a war conflict which no way is a case for Hungarians in Slovakia, who mostly consider Slovakia to be the state where they want to live.

What Kiska sees as one of the biggest problems of Slovakia is the issue of Roma minority. He constantly points to the need of a targeted approach to its solving and inadmissibility of discrimination based on ethnic origin..