Slovakia is considering diplomatic measures against Vietnam, its traditional friend, over the alleged latter’s use of Slovakia’s airplane to take back Mr. Trinh Xuan Thanh, former chairman of state-run PetroVietnam Construction Corporation (PVC). Slovakia has been alleging that Mr. Thanh was abducted in Berlin by the Vietnamese intelligence services, which took him with the plane thereafter.
Slovak Prime Minister Peter Pellegrini, on 2nd Oct, expressed his anger in the Pravda Daily, saying, “Should our suspicion be confirmed that a Vietnamese delegation misused a visit to Slovakia in order to abduct one of its citizen, this will have serious diplomatic consequences.”
The Vietnam issued an international arrest warrant against Mr. Thanh over illegal acts during his chairmanship at PVC, after he had fled to Berlin to seek political asylum. Several Western media suggest that the capture of him in Berlin on 23rd July 2017 came in a day before hearing for the asylum status. According to German prosecutors, Vietnamese intelligence services drove Mr. Thanh to Slovakia, where stayed the Vietnamese delegation headed by Public Security Minister To Lam. The delegation took Mr. Thanh to Moscow via Polish airspace on the 26th July by a Slovakia-provided airplane, and then, changing the plane to Vietnamese one, brought him back to Hanoi on the 28th.
Slovakia is highly frustrated with Vietnam’s denial over the use of their airplane for the abduction purpose. In the meeting with Vietnamese Deputy Prime Minister cum Foreign Minister, Pham Binh Minh on 26th September in New York, Slovakian Foreign Minister Miroslav Lajcak was reported to warn, “any misleading explanation will have consequences for bilateral relations and Slovakia is willing to take an action based on the EU’s interests.”
“Action based on the EU’s interests” is reportedly indicating that against the EU-Vietnam Free Trade Agreement, which was concluded in December 2015, but yet to be ratified. Mr. Thanh’s abduction has already caused Germany to suspend the strategic relationship with Vietnam, saying their sovereignty was violated. If Vietnam, in complete denial of the abduction allegation, doesn’t ease Germany and Slovakia’s anger, ratification of the EVFTA expected next year may further delay.
(Akihide Mori, Vietnam watcher)