Canadian foreign minister visits Slovakia, talks Russia

Canada is concerned about Russian actions in Ukraine and the illegal occupation of Crimea, Canadian Foreign Minister John Baird said on April 23 in Bratislava as he attended the opening of a new plant of the Canadian car-parts manufacturer Martinrea in nearby Svätý Jur.

Canada is concerned about Russian actions in Ukraine and the illegal occupation of Crimea, Canadian Foreign Minister John Baird said on April 23 in Bratislava as he attended the opening of a new plant of the Canadian car-parts manufacturer Martinrea in nearby Svätý Jur.

Baird, who is in the midst of touring central and eastern European countries, was received on the same day by his Slovak counterpart, Foreign Minister Miroslav Lajčák.

Baird noted that the crisis in Ukraine has dragged on for longer than expected, and therefore the international community must send a clear signal that it can’t continue like this. “We recently signed a series of sanctions and we might adopt some more. If Russia doesn’t comply with the recent agreement from Geneva, other steps will follow, there should be no doubt about it,” Baird said, as quoted by the TASR newswire.

Lajčák added that sanctions are not a preferred solution for Slovakia, but a necessary reaction to the situation. He pointed out that the EU has already approved two sets of sanctions and is now discussing the third round - with extremely serious economic impacts. “We are doing everything possible to avoid it, but at the same time we are preparing for the situation where it will be necessary to impose such sanctions,” Lajčák said. “Slovakia is part of the EU in both good and bad times. If such a decision is adopted, we will participate.”

Baird also confirmed that Canada, home to some 1.2 million people of Ukrainian descent, wants to help stabilise and strengthen the Ukrainian economy. Therefore, it will contribute $220 million to the financial support of Ukraine provided by the International Monetary Fund (IMF).

In an interview for the Sme daily, Baid said that NATO is prepared for a conflict with Russia and that people should not underestimate the alliance’s ability to abide by its principles. According to him, what is occurring now in the east of Ukraine notably resembles the first phase of earlier events in Crimea.

(Source: TASR, Sme)
Compiled by Zuzana Vilikovská from press reports
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