Comment by the Information and Press Department on Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov’s working visit to Slovakia
Sergey Lavrov will pay a working visit to Bratislava on April 3-4 at the invitation of the Minister for Foreign and European Affairs of the Slovak Republic, Miroslav Lajcak. The visit is timed to coincide with the 70th anniversary of the liberation of the Slovak capital by the Red Army.
During Sergey Lavrov’s meetings with President of Slovakia Andrej Kiska, Prime Minister Robert Fico, President of the National Council Peter Pellegrini and talks with Miroslav Lajcak a substantive exchange of opinions will take place on the state and prospects of the development of Russian-Slovak relations and the plans for future political contacts.
The two foreign ministers will discuss the priority issues of the European and international agenda on many aspects of which Russia and Slovakia have similar or identical views. These include the situation in Ukraine and the role of the OSCE in the implementation of the Minsk agreements of February 12, 2015, Russia-EU relations, the situation in the Middle East and in the Balkans, and plans for further interaction within international organisations.
Cultural and humanitarian cooperation, which has deep roots and good prospects, especially considering the linguistic affinity of the two nations, will also be discussed.
In the context of the forthcoming Victory anniversary, great importance will be attached to counteracting attempts to revise the results of World War II and fostering bilateral interaction in commemorating the war memorial sphere. Russia highly appreciates the respect and attention that mark the attitude of the people of Slovakia to the memory of the Soviet soldiers and officers who died to liberate their country, and is grateful for the careful tending of military graves and memorials. There are 12 major military memorial cemeteries, 34 common graves and 140 individual graves on the territory of the Slovak Republic, which are the resting place for 60,659 Soviet servicemen. In 2014 an office of the Russian Defence Ministry dealing with this issue was opened at the Russian Embassy in Slovakia. The bilateral Intergovernmental Commission for Tending the Graves of Servicemen and Civilian Victims of the War is taking constructive efforts. Sergey Lavrov will take part, jointly with the Slovak leaders, in the events at the memorial complex for the Soviet soldiers on Slavin Hill marking the anniversary of the liberation of Bratislava by the Red Army. A Victory Spring gala concert will be given in Bratislava on April 17 by young soloists of the Mariinsky Theatre and the St. Petersburg State Symphony Orchestra conducted by People’s Artist of Russia Sergey Stadler devoted to the 70th anniversary of the Liberation of Slovakia from Nazism.
For more than two decades, Russian-Slovak relations (January 1, 2013 marked the 20th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations) have been based on trust and mutual understanding, and a readiness to interact on the basis of pragmatism and respect for each other’s interests.
Over the past year Moscow was visited by the President of the National Council of Slovakia, and twice by the Ministers of Foreign Affairs and Economics. On August 29, 2014, Russian Defence Minister Sergey Shoigu visited Banska Bystrica to take part in the celebrations of the 70th anniversary of the Slovak national uprising. In October 2014, Russian Minister of Culture Vladimir Medinsky visited Bratislava for an unveiling of a memorial plaque for Russian Emperor Peter the Great on the building of the Slovak National Museum.
The upcoming Russian-Slovak talks will focus on the challenges of upgrading the quality of trade and economic cooperation, invigorating existing bilateral mechanisms to promote joint priority projects in investment, infrastructure and other areas. Considering this, and the fact that bilateral trade in 2014 had dropped by 14% to $8.06 billion, effective interaction within the Intergovernmental Commission for Economic, Scientific and Technical Cooperation, which is due to hold a regular meeting in Bratislava in the spring of this year takes on added significance. The co-chairs of the intergovernmental commission are Russian Minister of Industry and Trade Denis Manturov and Slovak Minister of Economy Pavol Pavlis.
The two sides attach great significance to the activities of the Russian-Slovak Business Council, which is doing a great deal to promote interregional cooperation. Its last meeting held in Moscow on December 5, 2014 involved the heads of several Russian regions. The next meeting is to be held in Bratislava in mid-April.
April 3, 2015