04/21/2021 | Press release | Distributed by Public on 04/22/2021 13:35
'The European perspective of the Western Balkans countries belongs among Slovakia's foreign policy priorities. A dynamic accession process and a trustworthy enlargement policy are in our interest. The fact that in some countries we can see a continuing trend toward the rise of nationalism, a moving further away from European values and a weakening of the reform processes should be a wake-up call for us. Albania as well as Northern Macedonia have met all the requirements to start the accession negotiations. Now is the right time to make progress in the talks.'
This was stated by the State Secretary of the Slovak Foreign and European Affairs Ministry, Martin Klus, on Tuesday, 20 April 2021 in Bratislava, during a video conference of the EU European Affairs ministers and state secretaries. The online talks during the time of the COVID-19 pandemic measures are a substitute for the regular meeting of the General Affairs Council (GAC).
At the beginning of the virtual session, the partners discussed the state of the rule of law in Germany, Ireland, Greece, Spain and France, based on the 2020 Rule of Law Report by the European Commission. This topic constitutes a part of the agenda of the talks once a year during every Presidency of the Council of the EU, where it always takes up five concrete member states. The General Affairs Council (GAC) also again devoted time to the evaluation of the current state of relations between the European Union and the United Kingdom, especially in relation to the Withdrawal Agreement, the Protocol on Ireland/Northern Ireland and the ratification of the Trade and Cooperation Agreement.
'From the point of view of Slovakia, it is necessary to fully comply with and carry out the Protocol on Ireland/Northern Ireland and at the same time protect the integrity of the internal market. We also see the point with launching a cooperation between the EU and the United Kingdom in foreign and security policy,' stated the Slovak Foreign and European Affairs State Secretary, Martin Klus, in this regard.
The current state of the coordination of measures in the joint fight against the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic has already been a traditional topic of the video conference of the European Affairs ministers and state secretaries of the EU member countries.
'The trust of the Union's citizens in some vaccines including those that have already been registered for the European market is starting to be more and more shaken. However, I'm convinced that if we communicate more with our citizens and proceed in compliance with the recommendations of the European Medical Agency (EMA), based on scientific facts, we will succeed in restoring the confidence of our citizens,' emphasized Klus.
He also expressed his thanks to the member states that have shown solidarity with Slovakia in the form of more vaccine supplies, and at the same time he welcomed the progress made in the preparation to implement digital green certificates that will temporarily facilitate the free movement of persons in the EU while minimizing the current health risk.
During the online talks, Portugal's Presidency in the Council of the EU provided information to the representatives of the member states about the current state of the enlargement agenda. According to the State Secretary of the diplomacy ministry of the Slovak Republic, Martin Klus, 'it is in the interest of the citizens of Slovakia that the common European scope of freedom and democracy that represents the EU becomes larger and grows with more countries. This will provide a perspective for improving the quality of life for the local inhabitants, and the freedoms and opportunities for our citizens, whether in economy, culture or education, will also expand.'
He added that we must approach the candidates for the membership in the European Union in a fair, trustworthy way, based on clearly stated criteria.
The end of the April session of the General Affairs Council (GAC) was also devoted to the evaluation of the current state of preparations for the Conference on the Future of Europe. The Slovak Foreign and European Affairs State Secretary, Klus, expressed his appreciation for the progress achieved so far and also welcomed the recent launch of the multilingual digital platform that will not only increase the interest of the citizens of the European Union about this project but will also engage them in a discussion about our joint European future.