Bratislava/Riga, November 6 (TASR correspondent) – Bratislava has great opportunities for constructing a cargo airport, and Chinese investors have shown a great deal of interest in this, stated Slovak Prime Minister Robert Fico after the meeting of Heads of Government of the Central and Eastern European (CEE) countries and China in the Latvian capital Riga on Saturday.
Fico said once again that he isn’t expecting the privatisation of Bratislava airport. “I’m speaking about the construction of an entirely new part of the airport that would focus on air cargo,” he said.
Possibilities for expanding Slovakia’s main airport and looking for a strategic partner for this have been discussed in Slovakia for some time. A few days ago this issue was brought up by Transport, Construction and Regional Development Minister Arpad Ersek (Most-Hid).
According to Fico, regarding an air connection with China, there is a relatively large amount of pressure from CEE countries to create a direct link with the most populous country in the world. “We welcome the fact that there is a direct connection [from Beijing] to Prague and Budapest. We propose creating a triangle of Beijing-Prague-Bratislava. We’re working on this proposal,” said the Slovak prime minister.
However, his Chinese counterpart Li Keqiang pointed out that in terms of flight options, Beijing’s capacity is exhausted. As a result, a new airport is being built in the Chinese capital. Fico said that China also recommends that CEE countries when searching for new air routes should focus on other regions of the country, given that China is a large country with a huge population.
Moreover, the Slovak premier highlighted the growing interest among Chinese people in tourism. According to him, there’s a need to address the issue of issuing visas as far as tourism is concerned. “Nowadays, we’re issuing them only in Beijing. We also have to discuss where else in China it would be possible to provide visas.”
Regarding the interests of Chinese investors in Slovak companies, Fico admitted that there has been much speculation concerning U.S. Steel in Kosice lately. “Our stance is that we would prefer it if the American investor remained in Kosice. That would be the best solution for everybody,” said Fico.