RUSSIA is not happy with the level to which its relations with the European Union and NATO have sunk.

"They're aware that the situation is not good," Foreign Minister Miroslav Lajčák told the TASR newswire shortly before his return from Moscow on May 19, where he met with his Russian counterpart, Sergey Lavrov, to discuss current relations between the EU and Russia as well as the situation in Ukraine, including the question of gas supply to and through Slovakia.

The dialogue and cooperation between Moscow, Brussels and NATO is frozen at the moment, according to Lajčák, with Lavrov claiming that a discussion will be necessary on future relations after things return to normal [following the ongoing Ukrainian crisis].

"We know why this situation has emerged. However, only after we tackle the issue of Ukraine, de-escalate the situation and kick-start the political process - for which we need Russia - will we have the scope to talk about what our relations should look like," said Lajčák, as quoted by TASR.

The ministers noted that the international community faces a serious challenge in finding a political solution to this crisis and agreed that it is in the interest of all parties involved to ease the tension and give diplomacy a chance for a peaceful settlement of the conflict, which has been ongoing since November.

Lajčák expressed his belief that the presidential elections in Ukraine set for May 25 are essential for restoring the legitimacy of the Ukrainian government and for stabilising the situation in the country. It is therefore crucial, according to him, to create conditions for these elections to be carried out in accordance with European standards.

After meeting Lavrov, Lajčák also unofficially met with Russian Vice-premier Dmitry Rogozin, who co-chairs the Slovak-Russian Intergovernmental Commission for Economic and Scientific Cooperation. Both agreed to postpone the meeting of the commission, which was previously scheduled to take place in Slovakia next month.

The decision comes after Thursday, May 15, when the opposition called on Prime Minister Robert Fico to prevent Rogozin from visiting Slovakia, as he has been put on the sanctions lists of the EU and the US. His assets abroad have been frozen and he is banned from visiting EU countries.

The chief of Slovak diplomacy expressed satisfaction with the talks in Moscow, which, according to him, were not easy but useful all the same.

"The talks helped to sort of bridge the two worlds in which we live. We operate with one set of information, whereas Russia is in contact with a different set of information," he told TASR, adding that every problem at hand needs to be addressed with the use of communication and, as a representative of an EU and NATO member country, he had the opportunity to discuss matters directly.

Fico views the content of the negotiations between the two foreign affairs ministers as confirmation of the Slovak government's foreign policy, which prefers dialogue and peaceful political solutions.

"The Slovak Republic is and wants to be a trustworthy member to EU and NATO. At the same time, though, Slovakia has an interest in fair relations with non-members as well. The Slovak Government repeatedly and in cooperation with the EU is taking a clear stance on the Ukrainian situation and also tackled the sensitive issue of the reverse gas flow to the satisfaction of all parties involved," Fico wrote in an official statement, as quoted by TASR.


Source: TASR

Compiled by Michaela Terenzani from press reports.
The Slovak Spectator cannot vouch for the accuracy of the information
presented in its Flash News postings.