President, Premier and House Chair Call for Public Debate on Future of EU

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House Chair Boris Kollar (L), President Zuzana Caputova, Prime Minister Eduard Heger and Foreign Affairs Minister Ivan Korcok at a press conference on the future of Europe on May 9, 2021 (photo by TASR)

Bratislava, May 9 (TASR) – The three top constitutional officials along with chief of Slovak diplomacy Ivan Korcok (SaS nominee) opened on Sunday the Conference on the Future of Europe, a pan-European project aimed to debate with the citizens the benefits, challenges and future orientation of Europe.

The event was launched at the Bratislava Castle symbolically on the Europe Day.

President Zuzana Caputova sees in the conference an opportunity for the people to speak their mind on what kind of Europe they want and are willing to embrace. “The European Union doesn’t hinge on any single leader or a single ideology. We are the ones who define it. It’s a space for cooperation and democratic values,” she said, adding that the cooperation enables the drawing of membership’s benefits but also calls for solidarity in addressing the shared challenges.

House Chair Boris Kollar (We Are Family) underlined that citizens must be an inseparable part of and in the centre of every future change in the EU. “They must feel that the Union hasn’t forgotten about them and that it can address issues of their everyday lives in its policies,” stated Kollar, while declaring Parliament’s interest in participating in all activities linked with the Conference.

Prime Minister Eduard Heger (OLaNO) declared that the European future can be built successfully on a broad democratic dialogue with the public. “Europe is characterised by broad democratic discussion with the public and the seeking of consensus. That’s something on which we can continue building the European future successfully,” he stated.

In his speech, Heger accentuated the courage of the Government to adopt reforms, particularly in the form of the recovery plan. He voiced hope that the EU will continue to be a good place to live for both current and future generations.

The top three constitutional officials passed a joint statement, in which they declared that the “European Union is the best living space for a successful, prosperous and secure Slovakia even today”. They invited the public to a discussion on the future shape of Europe and stated their commitment to introduce the dialogue also to the level of villages, towns, regions and communities.

“Our goal is not to turn the Conference into an ode to the perfect EU,” said chief of Slovak diplomacy Ivan Korcok (SaS nominee). He added that the EU is far from perfect and claimed that the Conference organisers are interested to hear every opinion in a constructive debate. Those wishing to criticise should be also prepared to offer alternative solutions, however.

Korcok conceded that 17 years into Slovakia’s membership in the EU, the discussion has been limited only to the benefits that Slovakia enjoys from it. “It’s about time to start giving a thought to the EU not being only a one-way street,” he said, adding that Slovaks need to realise that they’re part of the project and should bring their own opinions to the table and be aware of their responsibility.