Bratislava, November 22 (TASR) – The sanctions against Russia over the conflict in Ukraine are nonsensical and should be scrapped, Slovak Prime Minister Robert Fico stated at a conference entitled ‘Visegrad Four and the Future of the EU’ at Comenius University in Bratislava on Tuesday.
“On the other hand, what are the options for the prime minister of an EU-member country? We’re arguing very clearly against the sanctions. For whose benefit are the sanctions, considering that bilateral trade between Slovakia and Russia has fallen by 30 percent over the past year or two? For whom and how do they serve? Has Russia’s attitude towards Ukraine changed due to the sanctions? It hasn’t. A really important framework [for resolving the conflict] has been provided by the Minsk Agreements. The sanctions make no sense, but the EU must remain united at the end of the day. You can say ‘I don’t like it, I protest’, but you shouldn’t go against the majority opinion and eventually also the EU’s unity,” said Fico.
In a debate with students, Fico also addressed the election of Donald Trump for president in the USA. “What do we have to do with who has been elected president by the USA? It’s the sovereign right of voters in any country. If certain statements from Donald Trump’s campaign are fulfilled, then there could be a new quality of relations between the USA and Russia, for example. These relations are tense at the moment and nobody is benefiting from that. We need more balance,” said Fico, adding that Trump’s election could also provide an opportunity for the EU to grow as a global player and get involved in solving several conflicts.
Concerning Britain’s planned exit from the EU, Fico praised the remaining 27 EU countries’ current stance. “This means no talks before the Article 50 is signed, no individual talks with Britain, no policy leading to Britain keeping only good things. If the British want access to the European market, then it will only be under the conditions of preserving the four fundamental freedoms which the EU won’t negotiate,” said Fico in reference to the free movement of goods, workforce, services and capital.
The Slovak premier expects that the EU-Britain divorce will be painful. “The biggest defeat would be if Britain were the winner in the talks, because this would serve as an example for others to think similarly. The EU must emerge more successful from the talks than Britain,” added Fico.