The President in Brussels: I believe Slovakia’s future lies in a united and strong EU
The President of the Slovak Republic Zuzana Čaputová said on Tuesday in Brussels that she cares greatly that Slovakia becomes a self-confident, responsible and constructive member of the European Union.
President Čaputová visited Brussels on Tuesday as part of her second official trip after taking office. At a joint press conference with Jean-Claude Juncker, President of the European Commission (EC), she repeated the words from her inaugural address, according to which she sees the EU as an area of common values.
“I think that the Slovak Republic’s future lies in a united and strong European Union,” she said, adding that she cares greatly that Slovakia becomes a “self-confident, responsible and constructive member of the EU”, which, in her opinion, also entails co-responsibility for the future of the Union.
The President sees today’s Slovakia as a result of successful integration. Čaputová recalled her priorities: justice and law enforcement, environmental challenges, including climate change and social justice. “I believe that these topics are not purely national, but each of them has certain common European solutions on which we should work together,” she added.
The president, in her words, also welcomes the goal of carbon neutrality, which the Slovak Republic committed to last week.
In her talk with the president of the European Commission, the President also covered the situation in the Visegrad Four (V4). According to Čaputová, relations with the V4 countries are very important for Slovakia. The President, in this regard, expressed the wish that “the V4 should contribute to common solutions and not be perceived as a source of problems”.
Juncker congratulated Čaputová for winning the March presidential elections. “It is a victory for her personally, but also for Slovakia and the whole of Europe,” he said, adding that Slovaks had the possibility to choose between two pro-European candidates.
Juncker commented that the Slovak Republic has been a member of the EU for 15 years now. Slovakia has, according to Juncker, had to implement complicated reforms, significantly transform its society and economy, and has gained a lot since its accession. In this regard, he mentioned the increase in GDP per capita, economic growth and the unemployment level. “This success is, among other things, a result of contributions from the European structural funds that Slovakia has received,” Juncker said. At the same time, he expressed pride in the progress that Slovakia has made, and recalled the Slovak Presidency of the EU Council in 2016, during which the Bratislava Declaration was adopted.
Juncker also stated that he is “very glad that the seat of the European Labour Authority will be in Bratislava”.
“The fight against corruption and rights for all also are an important argument”, which he said were crucial topics of Čaputová’s pre-election campaign.
On Tuesday the President, in the framework of the second round of her state visits she has made since taking office, was received by King Philip of Belgium, she visited the Permanent Delegation of the Slovak Republic to NATO and the Permanent Representation of the Slovak Republic at the EU, and met with NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg and EC Vice-President Maroš Šefčovič.
The President of the Slovak Republic Zuzana Čaputová rounded off her first official visit to Brussels by meeting Slovak compatriots. After being received by King Philip, visiting NATO headquarters and meetings at the European Commission, the President was greeted by more than 220 Slovaks and Czechs working in Brussels, who took the opportunity of a personal meeting with questions for the president, as part of the platform “From the Tatras to Schuman”.
In her opening address, the President thanked Slovaks living in Brussels for everything they are doing for Slovakia at the EU institutions. In her words, she has sought during official meetings in Brussels “to send a signal that will reassure our partners that we are a country that sees its place in the European Union”, and which, she added, wants to be a reliable partner capable of cooperation, constructive dialogue, help in seeking solutions and also has the courage and openness to speak up if important values are violated.
The compatriots had prepared for the President a broad series of questions, ranging from the possibility to vote in presidential and European elections also when abroad, through to Slovakia’s role in the Visegrad Four (V4), which currently does not have the “best reputation” in Brussels, to the possibility of her attending EU summits, the current threat of misinformation and fake reports, the Roma issue, and abuse of power by authorities, constitutional changes, climate change issues, and the need for strengthening the role of women in society.
The hour’s space reserved for the more official part of questions and answers transformed into informal discussions and photographing, while the President did not forget to thank the organisers for this meeting and also accepted an offer for a joint photo with the team of volunteers who were responsible for preparing the event.
Asked by TASR about what she took away from her personal meeting with Slovaks at the EU capital, the President reiterated that she must thank them for the great work that they are doing.
“On the one hand, I thank them for putting on this event, though I thank them, too, for their encouragement,” she said, referring to the dozens of positive and encouraging words she received on the Tuesday evening.
The platform From the Tatras to Schuman is a non-profit association bringing together Slovaks and Czechs living in Brussels via discussions with inspiring persons.