: Slovakia calls to rethink sanctions on Russia

10:52 Jul. 1, 2016

Slovakia calls to rethink sanctions on Russia

Slovakia's Foreign Minister Miroslav Lajcak shakes hand with his Russian counterpart Sergey Lavrov after a press conference in Moscow, Russia, May 19, 2014 (AP Photo)

Bratislava assumes EU presidency on July 1 amid Brexit, refugee crisis and ongoing Russian aggression in Ukraine

On July 1 the EU six-months rotating presidency was assumed by Slovakia, the country has already declared the intention to review European sanction policy on Russia.

On 30 June Slovakia's Foreign Minister Miroslav Lajcak told journalists in Bratislava, that the EU needs to reconsider its relations with Moscow

"We need to redefine relationships and put it on realistic ground," Lajcak was quoted as saying by EUobserver online newspaper.

He underlined that EU needed "a new kind of partnership" with Russia.

"I propose we treat Russia like a strategic reality, whenever we can, on issues we can," he said, adding that "without Russia we are unable to solve a number of local problems".

"Russia is a fact, it is a global player," he added.

Read also Poroshenko expects sanctions against Russia will continue despite Brexit

EU leaders are set to discuss their Russia policy in October but an informal meeting of foreign ministers in September will be "a good platform" to start, the Slovak minister said.

Before the next decision, EU states should evaluate if sanctions bring them closer to their goals, Lajcak said.

"It's not credible to extend sanctions every six months without discussion," he said. "No-one should be afraid of discussion."

Meanwhile a EUobserver source in the Slovak government dismissed the views that Slovakia was against the sanctions.

The source said Slovakia would just organise the discussion at ministerial level, because the EU's goal was to change Russia's political position on Ukraine, but that had not happened.

Earlier this year, Slovak Prime Minister Robert Fico said "the sooner [sanctions] are removed, the better".

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