Miroslav Lajčák

Miroslav Lajčák is a Slovak politician and diplomat, former Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Slovak Republic. In addition, Lajčak also served as President of the United Nations General Assembly for the 72nd session from 2017 until 2018.


Education and private life

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. As a student, he was required 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.
Apart from his native Slovak, Lajčák is fluent in English, German, Russian, Bulgarian and Serbo-Croatian.
He is married to Jarmila Lajčáková-Hargašová, a Slovak TV news presenter. They have two daughters.

Diplomatic career (1988-2005)

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, with competence also on Albania and the Republic of Macedonia.

Supervisor of Montenegro's independence referendum (2005)

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

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

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. He was soon acclaimed as "person of the year" by both Banja Luka-based Nezavisne novine and Sarajevo-based Dnevni Avaz dailies.
Lajčák acted in 2007–09 in line with a moderately strong role of the OHR ; 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.
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. 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 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. Lajčák also removed RS police officials deemed complicit in war crimes. Upon instructions of Solana, Lajčák contented himself of cosmetic changes to bring to an end the police reform saga, 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, citing “frustrations” with the office ; he claimed that Bonn powers prevented Bosnia and Herzegovina from addressing its issues.
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.

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

From 26 January 2009 until July 2010, Lajčák served as Minister of Foreign Affairs in Robert Fico's First Cabinet.
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.
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.
In June 2012, Lajčák visited Milorad Dodik in Banja Luka. 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." They met in Banja Luka again in November 2016.
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.
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.
In 2016 Lajčák called on the EU to abandon its “ideological” approach to Russia and ease sanctions.
In October 2018 he received an honorary Ph.D. from Moscow's MGIMO, where he had graduated in 1987.
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.
In November 2018 Lajcak lambasted as “anti-democratic” the proposed Kosovo/Serbia land swap and cautioned against the regional repercussions of such a proposal. In the same month, Slovakia abstained on Kosovo's membership in Interpol.
Since 2019, Lajčák has been serving on the Transatlantic Task Force of the German Marshall Fund and the Bundeskanzler-Helmut-Schmidt-Stiftung, co-chaired by Karen Donfried and Wolfgang Ischinger.
In September 2019, Lajčák received an honorary Ph.D. by Bosnian Croat leader Dragan Covic at the University of Mostar. He also repeated Bosnian Croat lines concerning the lack of legitimacy as a Croat of Bosnian Presidency member Zeljko Komsic.
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 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.
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.” The meeting was criticized for not including the Bosniak side. “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.
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)

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.

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

In June 2016, Slovakia took over the Presidency of the EU Council. 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."
In November 2016, following revelations by a whistleblower, Transparency International Slovakia accused Lajčák of dubious procurement contracts during the Slovak EU Council Presidency.
During the 2016 Slovak Presidency, the Council of the European Union did not agree on conclusions on EU enlargement; the "conclusions of the Presidency" which were issued instead of the usual Council conclusions were criticized for their wording and lack of legal value.

Candidacy for United Nations Secretary-General

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; 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,

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

Lajčák also served as 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.

OSCE Chairperson-in-Office (2019)

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. During his tenure, Lajčák visited 15 OSCE field presences 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, June, and September 2019, as well as US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo in April 2019. 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.

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

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.

Other activities