Fico: Slovakia Will Become Face and Voice of European Union

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A session of the Solidarity and Development Council in Bratislava on Monday (photo by TASR)

Bratislava, February 22 (TASR) – Slovakia will become the human face and voice of the European Union as of July 2016, said Prime Minister Robert Fico after a session of the Solidarity and Development Council on the country’s upcoming Presidency of the EU.

Slovakia will have to spend around €70 million on the presidency. The council dealt with Slovakia’s priorities as well as possible problems.

“The Slovak public should know that Slovakia will become the face and voice of the EU as of July 1, 2016. We’d like to use this opportunity to educate our people more about the EU, to better grasp the meaning of this institution, how it works, how it functions, what its joys and sorrows are. We want to communicate like humans,” emphasised Fico.

Fico added that Slovakia will represent all 28 EU-member states and will coordinate the debate in the case of differing opinions to achieve particular decisions, actions and measures. It will become a link between member states and EU institutions.

Slovak chief of diplomacy Miroslav Lajcak said that after three-and-a-half years of preparations, Slovakia is finally near the presidency. The Cabinet should pass a document concerning points of departure on Wednesday.

“We’re focusing on five areas: economic growth, strengthening the internal market, energy, migration and enlargement and external relations. This is the framework, but the precise priorities will be approved by the Government in June. We’ll respond to current events,” explained Lajcak.

Fico pointed to four issues that might influence Slovakia’s programme – Greece’s financial crisis, the Nord Stream 2 project, a ‘Brexit’ (British withdrawal from the European Union) and security threats connected to migration and the situation in Ukraine and Syria. “Such a tough role can only be handled by a strong government,” added Fico.

The premier is convinced that ordinary people will be able to feel Slovakia’s presidency as well. For instance, via changes in EU budget allocations. “Being a presiding country gives us a certain advantage to gain more benefits,” emphasised Fico.

Lajcak stated that Slovakia receives a net amount of €1.67 billion annually from the EU, while the presidency will cost the country only €70 million. “We’ll be at the helm. It isn’t about primitive structuring of one’s own interests, but we’ll also show if we’re a functioning state and if we’re capable of looking for common ground. We can make a strong name or enormous opprobrium for ourselves,” said Lajcak.