Prime Minister Jüri Ratas met with Slovakian Prime Minister Robert Fico in Bratislava on Monday to present the priorities of the upcoming Estonian presidency of the Council of the European Union and hear Slovakia's views on issues of importance to the EU.
According to Ratas, Estonia has strong bilateral relations with Slovakia, particularly in the field of digital technology. "I am pleased that Slovakia has been a constructive partner in promoting digital technology, something that is very close to our hearts," Ratas said according to a government press release.
"Slovakia handed over the rotating presidency [of the EU] only six months before the beginning of the Estonian presidency," he noted. "The main challenges, both globally and concerning the European continent, are the same." Slovakia's recent experience recent presidency experience is very valuable to Estonia, he added.
Commenting on the future of Europe, Ratas said that the Bratislava summit during the Slovakian presidency was the start of the road toward restoring citizens' confidence in the EU and its core values as it was the roadmap approved in Bratislava that focused on citizens' major concerns — security, growth and migration. "Following the Bratislava summit, EU leaders signed the Rome Declaration, demonstrating the Union's strengths and will to cooperate," he recalled.
"The main priority of Estonia as the EU presidency is to ensure that Europe continues to stand united and determined," stressed the Estonian prime minister.
"Unity and balance are reflected in the messages of the Estonian presidency," said Ratas. "What Europe needs most at this time is unity in words and actions, values and ideas. We need to strike a balance between openness and privacy, new and well-established solutions, individual and common interests and create a peaceful and free future for Europe and all Europeans. The Estonian presidency could break the pessimism of citizens and demonstrate that Europe is open, democratic, forward-looking and united."
The head of government of the incoming EU presidency typically visits a number of member states beforehand in order to present and promote the priorities and program of their country's presidency and discuss opportunities for closer cooperation. On this trip, Ratas has visited Slovakia and Hungary and will visit the Czech Republic, Slovenia and Romania.
Ratas is scheduled to return to Estonia on Wednesday afternoon.
Editor: Aili Vahtla