Andrej Danko: I will not renounce Russia

I have done more for Slovakia-USA relations than any other public official, the Slovak speaker of parliament added.

Speaker Andrej Danko with Chairman of Russia's State Duma Vyacheslav Volodin in Moscow.Speaker Andrej Danko with Chairman of Russia's State Duma Vyacheslav Volodin in Moscow. (Source: FB Andrej Danko - predseda SNS)

Speaker of Parliament Andrej Danko (SNS) travelled to Russia the day after US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo visited Bratislava.

While Slovak officials were convincing Pompeo that Slovakia is the USA's reliable partner, Danko went to Moscow to meet Vyacheslav Volodin, chairman of Russia's State Duma. Volodin was put on the US sanctions list in 2014 when Crimea was annexed by Russia.

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"As I always say, it is necessary to maintain relations with the West, as well as the East," Danko wrote on his Facebook profile.

Despite criticism coming from opposition parties, he does not consider his business trip to Russia as a stop on Slovakia's political path.

Read also: Danko acts outside the official foreign policy line Read more 

"I have done a bit more for these relations [Slovak-US] than all those who met with Mr Pompeo," Danko replied to the critics, as quoted by the TASR newswire.

Danko undermines Slovakia's position

Parties Progresívne Slovensko (Progressive Slovakia) and Spolu (Together) have condemned Danko's trip to Russia.

"The speaker of parliament undermines Slovakia's placement in the EU, which guarantees us our prosperity as well as security, and drags us to the East," said Vladimír Bilčík of Spolu, as quoted in a press release.

Slovak citizens do not deserve politicians who do not care about the good of Slovakia, added Michal Šimečka, one of the candidates for the European Parliament election, supported by the coalition created by Progressive Slovakia and Spolu.

Danko, meanwhile, explained his trip by pointing out that Germans, the French as well as Americans are outrunning each other to make business deals with Russia.

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Russia means business

"I will not renounce the topic of Russia," Danko said, as quoted by TASR. "Where else should our business society go to, where else should they be seeking the market?"

He is convinced that Russia is a place where the Slovak business community should operate and gain experience.

"Thanks to a good relationship with Russia, we also have the door open in economic cooperation with Asian countries," he wrote on Facebook.

Danko wants to take several Slovak companies to Russia in April or May to create new business contacts, the SITA newswire reported.

Danko's dream

Read also: Parliamentary Speaker Andrej Danko is not obliged to explain Russia speech Read more 

During his visit to Moscow and Sochi, where he also met with Russia's Foreign Affairs Minister Sergei Lavrov, Danko expressed his hope that Bratislava would host the meeting of all chairmen of parliaments from Europe, Asia and Russia.

"I am still hoping the sanctions will end and Bratislava will host all leaders of Euro-Asian parliaments," Danko wrote on Facebook. "It is my main dream."

Cyber security

Danko and Volodin also talked about cyber security, cooperation between the Slovak and Russian parliaments and the digital space. It is impossible to exclude Russia from the talks on cyber security, Danko said.

"I am grateful for what Russia does for us, also at the international level," he added, as quoted by SITA. He described his trip as fruitful.

Slovakia's speaker of parliament also accepted invitations to attend celebrations of the end of WWII on May 9 in Russia as well as the international parliamentary forum in June.

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