Slovakia sees ‘business’ opportunities in Ukraine’s reconstruction
Slovakia’s new government programme confirmed the intention to block some critical EU reforms under discussion, such as on migration or foreign policy, while simultaneously emphasising “business opportunities” for Slovak companies in reconstructing Ukraine.
According to the programme put forward by Prime Minister Robert Fico, the Slovak government sees Ukraine mainly as a business opportunity, specifically “an opportunity for the development of Slovakia, especially our eastern regions”, promising to use mainly European money in this effort.
In this context, the programme also highlights the opportunities for Slovak companies. The Office of the Deputy Prime Minister should, therefore, first analyse the activities to date and then prepare a “roadmap for the next steps”.
The government wants to present “concrete initiatives” that would help involve key Slovak actors in stabilising and subsequent reconstruction of Ukraine as soon as possible and allocate financial resources for them at the national level.
Known for his pro-Russia stance, Fico said in October that he would support “brutal financial aid” to Ukraine if given guarantees the money will not be misappropriated and some will be used to renew border infrastructure and support Slovak companies involved in the reconstruction.
“Ukraine is one of the most corrupt countries in the world, and we make its brutal financial support conditional on guarantees that European money (including Slovak money) will not be misappropriated,” Fico said of the €50 billion budget injection to Ukraine.
Against the migration pact
In response to the EU’s planned migration pact, in which member states must pay €20,000 for every migrant they refuse to host, Fico’s manifesto includes refusing any obligation ‘to pay any punitive payments on behalf of such migrants’.
The European Commission proposed a new migration pact in September 2020, and currently, the file is awaiting final negotiations between EU lawmakers, which should be finalised before February 2024.
Leading MEP Juan Fernando Lopez Aguilar recently warned that the EU House would block the entire proposal if EU ministers continue cutting the proposal “into pieces”.
At the EU Council level, Slovakia’s previous technocrat governments abstained during the vote on the migration file.
Rejecting abolition of veto in foreign matters
Moreover, the programme also included the most critical language of Fico’s government so far.
In 2012, the Fico government claimed in its programme that it wanted to “support and promote efforts for the sustainable development of Europe” and in 2016, even contributed to “the development of a stable and prosperous EU”.
However, the latest document explains that “many decisions of the (EU) authorities and apparatus provoke public disapproval in Slovakia.”
On foreign policy, the manifesto also rejects the abolition of the veto, a Germany-led proposal pushed forward last May and supported by another eight member states.
The program considers initiatives that would limit the need to obtain the consent of all members of the Union to be “weakening the position of individual member states.”
Most EU member states, especially smaller ones, doubt the proposal.
Yet, during a TV debate on Saturday, Foreign Minister Juraj Blanár said Slovakia wants to see an impact study of the 12th sanctions package against Russia and that it is categorically against banning Russian nuclear fuel.
(Barbara Zmušková | Euractiv.sk – Edited by Sarantis Michalopoulos)