The presidency can be looked at with a feeling of satisfaction; and this fact is not based on subjective evaluations, but mainly on responses from abroad, Foreign Affairs Minister Miroslav Lajčák told the TASR newswire on December 29. “It was flawless in terms of organisation and protocol. It was highly professional, and we did well also from the political point of view,” said Lajčák, adding that these evaluations came from impartial observers.
“Slovakia proved to be an honourable mediator that really tried to move the European agenda forward wherever it was possible to agree on something,” he added, noting that even in hindsight he would not change the priorities that were set for the presidency.
The Slovak chief of diplomacy considers the Bratislava summit held on September 16 and the Bratislava process to be the most visible results of the presidency. Concerning specific results for the people, Lajčák mentioned significant progress in eliminating roaming and geo-blocking; as well as the agreement on the EU budget for 2017.
He does not agree with the evaluation of Slovak MEP Ivan Štefanec (now extra-parliamentary Christian Democratic Movement/KDH) who, in his assessment of the Slovak presidency, described the migration crisis as a failure of Interior Minister Robert Kaliňák. “I think that it’s the kind of diagnosis according to which when I’m an opposition MP, my party’s interests are more important than the interests of the state,” he commented. “The issue of migration is difficult, complex and challenging. A significant success of our presidency is that during it, precisely on October 6, the European Border and Coast Guard was launched.”
Lajčák also mentioned the proposal for effective solidarity as well. He added that EU leaders really appreciated the fact that even though Slovakia’s stance on the migration issue differed from most other EU countries, the presiding country played the constructive role of an honourable mediator regarding this matter.
Government proxy evaluates presidency
The list of achievements is long and satisfactory and the country will now return to national positions, but enriched in the experience of presiding over the Council of EU, state secretary at the Foreign Ministry and Government Proxy for Slovak Presidency of the EU Council, Ivan Korčok, said in an interview for the Pravda daily. Hefurther explained that it is crucial for every member state and its top representatives to “walk in EU’s shoes” to be able to understand its problems, ups and downs.
Among economic positives, the government proxy named the increase and prolongation of the investment fund – to €500 billion; the achieved agreement on the budget (with the exception of Italy), and averting the budgetary stopgap. The ratification of the Paris Climate Deal is a huge achievement, too, as well as progress in the digital economy.
Korčok added, though, that a certain distance is needed for unbiased evaluation and for more detailed elaboration and assessment. He mentioned the Brexit vote as an unprecedented circumstance for the Slovak presidency that started on June 1, Pravda wrote on December 30.
30. Dec 2016 at 12:30 | Compiled by Spectator staff