RECENT developments in Ukraine and the shooting down of the Malaysian civilian aircraft resonated at the meeting of the European Union’s foreign ministers, held on July 22 in Brussels.

“We concurred that the top priorities at the moment are the need to ensure a dignified process of identification of bodies and their return to home states; unimpeded and full access to the crash site and an objective investigation into the circumstances of the crash,” Slovakia’s Foreign Affairs Minister Miroslav Lajčák said, as quoted by the TASR newswire.

The ministers declared that the case of the downed MH-17 flight represents a tragic peak in the developments in eastern Ukraine over the past months, during which a number of Ukrainian aircraft were shot down.

The ministerial council claimed emphatically that such attacks need to stop and called upon Russia to use its influence on the insurgents to secure access to the crash site and to allow for an independent investigation. Furthermore, the ministers called upon Russia not to allow the Russo-Ukrainian border to be used for supplying weapons and ammunition as well as the arrival of militants.

“If these conditions and expectations, as defined by EU leaders, are not met, the EU is ready to embrace further sanctions,” said Lajčák, as quoted by TASR.

He added, however, that Slovakia does not belong among those countries engaging in ill-advised shouting of “hurray, let’s apply sanctions”. The country supports all measures to de-escalate the situation in Ukraine, stop the civil war and prevent further civilian losses. Any potential sanctions, however, need to be assessed in terms of their negative impact on the EU and its members, Lajčák stressed.

“Slovakia is ready to be part of the European decision to apply further sanctions but, as I already said today, everyone needs to shoulder their part of their negative impact,” the minister added. “This means we should not make rash decisions.”

According to Lajčák, Slovakia is “not obsessed with sanctions” and any such measures must not be a goal in themselves but only a means to resolve the situation in Ukraine.

He conceded, though, that if political talks fail and one of the parties does not honour the commitments agreed upon at international negotiations, then the EU has no choice but to resort to sanctions.

Source: TASR

Compiled by Radka Minarechová from press reports

The Slovak Spectator cannot vouch for the accuracy of the information presented in its Flash News postings.