Fico: Unlike Great Britain, We Know What We Want

Slovak Prime Minister Robert Fico in front of the Bratislava Castle

Bratislava, September 16 (TASR) – Negotiations with Great Britain after its referendum on leaving the EU must lead to a state that will clearly show that it’s beneficial to be a member of the Union, said Prime Minister Robert Fico after the informal summit of 27 EU leaders in Bratislava on Friday.

“We can achieve this. In contrast to the UK, we know what we want. Our stance is clear and it will be used immediately after triggering the Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty,” said Fico, adding that the EU wants to keep its good relations with the United Kingdom.

According to Fico, however, the Union rejects the policy that someone will cherry pick. “If someone is interested in the EU benefits, it has to guarantee all the freedoms that are important for the EU,” he said, referring to the four basic EU freedoms – free movements of goods, workers, services and capital. The Slovak premier added that there are some 70,000 Slovaks working in the UK.

“I can’t help the feeling that the talks on the mutual settlement of relations could lead to the creation of a second class of worker in the future. I feel at least for the V4 countries that this is the crucial point for us in terms of negotiations. We can’t allow the outcome of the British referendum to lead to the fact that our people would have a second-class status in the UK only because it (the UK) wants to meet the political goals and ambitions stirred up by this referendum,” said Fico in reference to how highly charged the issue of immigration in the UK. He also added that in this point the stance of the Visegrad Four/V4 (Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland, Slovakia) countries will be uncompromising.

European Council President Donald Tusk noted that Brexit wasn’t the main topic of the Bratislava summit. “We confirmed our stance on the fact that until Article 50 is submitted, no negotiations will begin,” said Tusk. He added that it isn’t aimed against the UK but “we have to protect the interests of the EU.”

Tusk also interpreted the UK’s message that the aforementioned article won’t be triggered before January-February 2017. “We have to respect that,” said the Council president.