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Shmyhal meets Fico in Uzhhorod, says Slovakia will not block EU aid for Ukraine

by Elsa Court and The Kyiv Independent news desk January 24, 2024 2:51 PM 2 min read
Slovak Prime Minister Robert Fico and Ukrainian Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal in Uzhhorod, Ukraine, on Jan. 24, 2024.
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Slovak Prime Minister Robert Fico met his Ukrainian counterpart Denys Shmyhal in Uzhhorod, where they discussed the relations between their countries and signed a joint statement on bilateral relations, Shmyhal reported on Jan. 24.  

Elected in September on a populist, Ukraine-skeptic platform, Fico halted arms supplies from Slovakia's military stocks and repeatedly criticized both defense assistance for Ukraine and sanctions against Russia.

According to Shmyhal, Fico agreed Slovakia will support the EU's Ukraine Facility, a long-term funding program designed to support Ukraine by allocating up to 50 billion euros ($55 billion) to Kyiv from 2024 to 2027.

Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban was the only European leader to veto the Ukraine Facility at an EU summit in December. A decision to provide the financial aid package is expected to be discussed during the European Council summit on Feb. 1.

Fico is close to Orban and his Fidesz party, and said on Jan. 14, following talks with Orban that he agrees with Budapest's position that the EU should not finance the package from the EU's common budget.

The same day, Orban said that relations between the two countries were at a "high point" and that both are "unhappy about Brussels' initiatives for a super state."

"Despite the disagreement, we intend to form a policy of 'new pragmatism' with the Government of Slovakia, which will benefit both states," Shmyhal said.

Shmyhal also said he was "sure that today's meeting will open a new page in our relations," shortly before the two signed the joint statement.  

"Prime Minister Fico assured me of his full support for Ukraine's European integration aspirations," Shmyhal said. Fico has previously said that he does not oppose Ukraine's membership in the EU if Kyiv meets all criteria for accession.

Shymhal also said that Fico agreed his government would not block Ukrainian attempts to buy weapons or equipment from Slovak businesses.

While Fico stopped government arms supplies weapons to Ukraine after coming to power, he said that he would not hinder arms sales from Slovak companies to Ukraine.

According to Ukrinform, Shymhal said at a press conference in Uzhhorod that Fico agreed to cooperate with Ukraine by supplying engineering equipment that will be used to construct defensive lines.

Slovakia will therefore send Ukraine armored excavators and demining equipment, Shmyhal said.  

According to the Slovak government, Fico is set to travel to Germany to meet Chancellor Olaf Scholz in the afternoon of Jan. 24.

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