Fico Sees Sanctions against Russia as Pointless and Not Leading to Anything

Slovak Prime Minister Robert Fico (photo by TASR)

Brussels, October 21 (TASR) – The EU’s sanctions against Russia are pointless and don’t work, stated Slovak Prime Minister Robert Fico after the EU summit in Brussels on Friday.

Summarising Brussels’s deliberations on foreign relations, Fico said that the leaders focused mainly on the situation in Ukraine and Syria. In this context, the Slovak prime minister repeated that sanctions against Russia are pointless, which was confirmed also by other premiers at the summit. According to Fico, these premiers agreed that sanctions have seriously damaged the economies of their countries.
He added that Slovakia and Russia’s mutual trade has decreased by 30 percent, but he also admitted that this wasn’t only due to the sanctions, even though they have affected the bilateral trade to a certain extent.

“I’m wondering whether it makes sense when we’re imposing sanctions against each other when the attitude of the penalised (country) towards the topics for which it’s being punished doesn’t change at all,” said Fico, referring to the fact that the EU sanctions against Moscow regarding Ukraine haven’t changed Russia’s attitude on the matter.

However, Fico pointed out that the unity of the EU comes first at the moment and he isn’t a politician who wants to destroy this unity, and therefore he will support the Union’s united stance concerning the sanctions.

Regarding Ukraine, the Slovak premier criticised the double standards of Europeans when on the one hand the EU wants to help Ukraine and on the other it is drafting projects, such as Nord Stream 2, that would deprive Ukraine of at least €3 billion per year.

According to Fico, the events in Syria represent a chance for the EU to act as a decisive player, especially at a time when the USA is bound by the upcoming presidential election, when the UN Security Council is “dysfunctional” and when Russia is engaging in the Syrian conflict.

“We can’t take our hands from it,” he said, adding that the conclusions of the EU Council are calling for the strict punishment of people who commit war crimes and violate international law, and there is also the EU’s commitment to monitor the situation in Aleppo (Syria), where attacks on civilians victims are taking place.

When asked how he perceives the EU Council’s conclusions, according to which Russia, as one of the allies of the Syrian Government that stand behind the attacks in Aleppo, has been found responsible as well, Fico stated that it is a ‘curious situation’. It is due to the fact that an international fight against terrorism and the Islamic State is not possible without Russia’s participation, and in this fight there are dead civilians and collateral damage on all sides.

“It’s difficult to say whether a country participating in the fight against terrorism should be sanctioned for it,” said Fico.