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Parliamentary committees discuss Ukraine

SLOVAKIA respects the territorial integrity of Ukraine, condemns the actions of the Russian Federation that violate these principles, and lends support to the European Union’s sanctions against Russia, Foreign Affairs Minister Miroslav Lajčák said. He was speaking following a joint parliamentary foreign affairs and European affairs committees’ session on September 17 convened by the opposition.

SLOVAKIA respects the territorial integrity of Ukraine, condemns the actions of the Russian Federation that violate these principles, and lends support to the European Union’s sanctions against Russia, Foreign Affairs Minister Miroslav Lajčák said. He was speaking following a joint parliamentary foreign affairs and European affairs committees’ session on September 17 convened by the opposition.

The session will continue on September 18 when it is expected that the committees will pass the resolution and submit it to parliament, the TASR newswire reported.

The opposition summoned the special session because it believes the government should take a more resolute stance against Russia with respect to the Ukrainian crisis, TASR wrote.

“Of course, we discussed the sanctions,” Lajčák said, as quoted by TASR. “Slovakia belongs among the most vulnerable countries due to our energy and security dependence on Russia. Hence, logically, we respond to the sanctions in a different way.”

The minister added that it is actions and not the strong rhetoric of some countries that must be scrutinised. Some countries verbally condemned Russia, but then concluded multi-million contracts with it, he said. The minister also stressed that Slovakia has acted fairly and called on the EU to also be fair in its foreign policies towards its members.

“We should suffer the impact of the sanctions together,” the minister added, as quoted by TASR. “We refuse to become the stick someone will use to beat [Russian President Vladimir] Putin on his head, while being the only one to bear the costs. Every country pursues and defends its state interests and that’s what Slovakia must do, too.”

According to the minister, Slovakia always has and will promote the territorial integrity of Ukraine.

“This is a conflict between two countries that are both close to us,” Lajčák said, as quoted by TASR. “It would be a mistake to view it through the prism of who is with Putin and who is with [Ukrainian President Petro] Poroshenko. I do not want Ukrainians to feel that the Slovak nation turned its back on them.”

He pointed to the reverse gas flow to Ukraine, saying that it significantly contributes to the energy security of Ukraine.

“Slovak solidarity is visible and appreciated,” the minister stressed, as quoted by TASR. “Our interest is in having a stable and prosperous Ukraine. It will always be our neighbour and thus we have to help. History will remember who provided aid and who turned their back.”

Former two-time prime minister and foreign affairs minister Mikuláš Dzurinda of the Slovak Democratic and Christian Union (SDKÚ) sees the conflict as being rooted in the fact that Ukraine chose to orient itself towards the West, and Russia retaliated.

“This needs to be told to Slovak citizens first and foremost,” Dzurinda said, as quoted by TASR. “It is not a conspiracy of the CIA against Russia, but the decision of citizens on Maidan [Square].”

Dzurinda added that Russia reacts aggressively because it is attempting to maintain its position of global power.

The politician also rejected the statement of Prime Minister Robert Fico, according to whom the Ukrainian crisis is about a geopolitical rivalry between Russia and the United States.

“It is a challenge of Russia directed against the West – a test of strength to show how far Russia can go,” Dzurinda continued. “The West has never forced Ukraine to join EU and NATO. On the contrary, there is evidence that Russia actively attempted to include Ukraine in the Eurasian Customs Union. The West would have accepted that, however; but it refuses to accept Ukraine being a member of both.”

Dzurinda also said he does not criticise the Slovak government for giving consent to the EU sanctions against Russia. He, however, criticised the statement Fico made one day after the sanctions were approved, saying that it “damages the good reputation of Slovakia abroad”. Dzurinda also asked Fico “not to lie that Ukraine is in turmoil and falling apart”, adding that it “aids only the aggressors that wish to see the country collapse”.

Fico’s stance was defended by Smer MP Ľuboš Blaha, who said that the PM “has a right to voice an opinion”.

“Adopting a position of a toady is not right for Slovakia,” Blaha said, as quoted by TASR. “Slovakia is mature and has the right to speak its mind.”

He accused Dzurinda of dishonesty, saying that he cannot possibly believe that this is not a conflict between the West and Russia.

“It is a power struggle,” Blaha continued. “Today’s Ukraine is broken and Dzurinda is likely the only person on the planet who believes Ukraine will be a functioning state in the following years.”

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.

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