President’s farewell message in Brussels: We are European Union

President Andrej Kiska visited Brussels as part of a series of farewell visits before the end of his term of office. On Tuesday he met with the President of the European Commission, Jean-Claude Juncker and the President of the European Council, Donald Tusk. He also met with Slovak diplomats representing Slovakia in the European Union and NATO.

Press conference after his meeting with Jean-Claude Juncker:

“We are commemorating 15 years since we joined the European Union and 30 years since our victory over Communism. In that time our country has undergone many changes and you know that whenever we talk about how we should think about the European Union, about what is causing the rise in extremism and populism, I always repeat that the European Union isn’t the problem. The European Union is the solution.

The challenges that our world is currently facing, such as climate change, migration, terrorism and economic growth are too big for any country, even the largest, to deal with alone. Membership of a fantastic project like the European Union is the right way to tackle such problems.

There is a rising wave of extremism and populism. We saw it recently in the presidential elections in Slovakia and it is visible across Europe in the campaigning for the elections to the European Parliament. A lot of the accusations thrown at Brussels are absolutely untrue. I would like to tell our citizens at home that Brussels is also Slovakia. Here in Brussels there are hundreds of people representing the voice of Slovakia. Every decision taken in Brussels is also a decision of Slovakia. We sometimes seem to forget this at home. In many countries, when things go right, the local government takes credit. Whenever something goes wrong, they put the blame on Brussels.

One of the topics in my discussions with President Juncker was the Visegrad Four. Visegrad Four politicians have sometimes misused the platform to promote their own egotistical interests, which have nothing to do with the Visegrad Four as such. I told President Juncker that the first round of the presidential elections in our country had sent a very good signal. The top two candidates are both ready to speak in favour of clear pro-European and pro-Atlantic positions. Many countries might envy the fact that the second round of our election will be contested by two real democratic candidates.

In conclusion. This visit to Brussels also has a personal dimension for me because I am saying my goodbyes before the end of my term as president of the Slovak Republic. I have always stood firmly by the values of the European Union and NATO, and our country’s place in these institutions. I would therefore like to thank Jean-Claude, the European Commission and all the institutions working here in Brussels for their support for Slovakia. We are allies, we are all in the same boat and we all have our part in one wonderful project.