President Andrej Kiska, Prime Minister Robert Fico, and Speaker of Parliament Andrej Danko signed on October 23 a joint statement on European Union issues, the country’s security and its NATO membership.
In a statement constituting an exception in his usual habits, Fico commented that “we remained a pro-European island in the region”, as a reaction to results of the recent Czech general election, the Denník N daily wrote.
The meeting of the three officials at Bratislava Castle was something of a surprise, accoring to Denník N, as just recently, Fico criticised Kiska for his tax issues and his insufficient support for government in its foreign policy.
Uniting the quarrelling officials
“We don’t always have to be of the same opinion in domestic politics, but we have to show that in strategic issues, we stick together,” Kiska said, adding that Slovak ministers must be heard from more.
Kiska, Fico and Danko agreed that they wanted to clearly communicate the pro-European and pro-Atlantic orientation of Slovakia, as well as towards their citizens, while also supporting the Slovakia’s integration into the EU core. They signed a document pointing to the worsening security in Europe, the growth of extremism and populism, migration and financial crisis or lack of trust in EU institutions. The EU has no alternative though, according to them, and for general security, cohesion and solidarity within NATO is also important.
“I’m very pleased that the three of us have agreed on and prepared a joint statement on EU issues, our security and NATO membership,” the president said, as quoted by the TASR newswire. “It’s important for our country because it concerns people’s lives, the future of our country and public security. I consider it to be of the utmost importance that the three of us will always and on every occasion confirm the direction of our country as well as the values and alliances to which Slovakia has adhered.”
It is the duty of the three to show citizens, and convince them that Slovakia can be a self-confident, influential and prospering country only within a strong and cohesive EU, Kiska noted, adding that the voices against integration are growing stronger, while anti-EU policy has become part of political campaigns, here as well as in surrounding countries.
“We cannot automatically rely on the support of public opinion, either. We have to be honest and frank with people and always strive for their support in our decisions,” he summed up, as quoted by TASR.
Kiska also stressed the need for the transparent modernisation of army – which may be a hint directed at Andrej Danko and his SNS party, which is protracting the replacement of old MiG-29 fighter planes for newer types.
How to show unity
The president further proposed to Danko and Fico for the three of them to meet before every important EU and NATO summit.
“We have to show our people that when it comes to the country’s strategic interests we stick together,” said Kiska, as quoted by TASR.
Slovak ministers should speak more about current EU issues, such as creating a joint European Public Prosecutor’s Office, completing the single market or banking union, the president added.
“We’re a respected country that has shown that it’s capable of managing complicated processes,” Fico said, as quoted by TASR. “We’ve demonstrated sovereignty in the issues of migration and double standards in food quality, and we also want to demonstrate it when it comes to drafting the EU budget. We’ve become a certain pro-European island in central Europe, and I want to maintain this orientation, as nothing suits Slovakia better than European integration.”