BRATISLAVA. Restoring European economy and strengthening the EU and NATO through enlargement are the foreign policy aims the new Slovak Prime Minister Robert Fico has set for his government. “Slovakia remains pro-European. We truly believe in the European project,” said Mr. Fico in his opening speech at the GLOBSEC conference in Bratislava, which became the first forum for the new Slovak government to present its foreign policy goals for the following four years. Mr. Fico stated that Slovakia is no longer a new EU member, but it is at the cornerstone of the European integration. “Slovakia should be the engine of the European integration in the region.”
As Mr. Fico said, his government will first of all concentrate on the restoration of the European economy by implementing responsible economic policy, bringing down the budget deficit and approving the EU plan for the fiscal union. “Slovakia will work closely with its EU partners and NATO allies and will follow mature and responsible foreign policy,” said Mr. Fico. He emphasized the need for Slovakia to cooperate closely with its neighbours within the Visegrad group and outlined the plan for launching the project of the EU-V4 battle group by 2016 which would be at the disposal of both the EU and NATO. “Why the Visegrad group cannot be at the forefront of the smart defence,” asked Mr. Fico, determined to improve ‘pooling’ and ‘sharing’ opportunities in order to use the narrow defense budget more effectively. This is the topic he also wishes to consult with his partners before the May summit of the Alliance in Chicago.
Transatlantic cooperation remains one of the crucial pillars of the Slovak foreign policy and as Mr. Fico said, Slovakia wants to welcome new allies in NATO by 2016. He also emphasized Slovakia’s commitment to NATO’s mission in Afghanistan, where Slovakia is willing to “share the burden” and remain present “as long as necessary.”
Slovakia also remains traditionally committed to the Euro-Atlantic integration of the Balkans and of the Eastern partnership countries. “We believe that Croatia’s accession to the EU will not be the end, but the beginning of the enlargement to the Balkans. Because Balkans is Europe,” said Fico at GLOBSEC. Mr. Fico’s opening speech was followed by hundreds of international guests from 47countries. The seventh annual forum organized by the Slovak Atlantic Commission continues until Saturday and it will further address topics of the European economic crisis, the Arab spring, NATO plans in Afghanistan or the EU and NATO enlargement.