Minister of Foreign and European Affairs of the Slovak Republic Ivan Korčok apologised for the Slovak Prime Minister’s bad joke about the “promised Zakarpattia” in exchange for a Russian vaccine.
“Today, I’ve talked to my Ukrainian colleague, Minister of Foreign Affairs Dmytro Kuleba. I apologised to him for the inappropriate statements about Ukraine made by Prime Minister of the Slovak Republic Igor Matovič,” Korčok posted on Facebook.
The Slovak Foreign Minister added that the incident was particularly unpleasant against the background of the recent conversation about the further development of bilateral relations.
The day before, the Prime Minister of Slovakia stated that he had promised Russia the Ukrainian region of Zakarpattia in exchange for a coronavirus vaccine. Later, he clarified that he had been joking and assured that he had promised nothing to Russians.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine immediately reacted to those words with a protest, saying that such “jokes” are especially insulting to Ukraine in the context of Russian aggression and occupation of Crimea and a part of Donbas.
“Regardless of motives, genre or context, the statements by the head of the Slovak government, which directly touch upon the territorial integrity of Ukraine, are categorically unacceptable and negatively affect the friendly and good-neighborly atmosphere of Ukraine-Slovakia relations,” the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine stated.
Igor Matovič personally apologised for his words. In his publication on Twitter, the Prime Minister stressed that Slovakia’s position on Ukraine’s territorial integrity has always been very clear, and respect for international law is a must.
“Apologies to all Ukrainians for my inappropriate reaction which could undermine their just efforts,” Matovič wrote.
In his publication, he also tagged President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelensky and Minister of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine Dmytro Kuleba and wrote “Slovakia is your friend.”