Europe

Tough call for Slovakia's EU presidency?

EU and Slovakia flag Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Slovakia is about to assume the rotating presidency of the EU

As Slovakia prepares to assume the rotating presidency of the EU on 1 July, Slovak media looks at the challenges the country faces in tackling the fallout from Brexit.

Slovak Prime Minister Robert Fico has suggested holding an informal summit in the capital, Bratislava, in September, to give leaders of the remaining EU countries a chance to consider the future of the union.

A "post-Brexit crisis summit", the news website euraktiv.sk calls it, saying that its theme will be "Whither the EU?" and will aim to articulate "a new vision" for the bloc as it prepares for the UK's departure.

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Image caption Mr Fico believes that Slovakia can help the EU take stock of where it is going

It recalls that Mr Fico told the European Council meeting in Brussels earlier this week that anyone who believes that after Brexit "we can just offer the European public more of the same is making a big mistake".

According to Euraktiv.sk, if the summit takes place, it will be the first EU summit to be held outside Brussels since 2010 and the tone could be set by Central and Eastern European countries that joined the bloc in 2004.

Diplomatic manoeuvres

Slovak Foreign Minister Miroslav Lajcak has already taken part in post-Brexit talks with his counterparts from the Visegrad 4 group (Czech Republic, Slovakia, Poland and Hungary) which were held in the Czech capital, Prague, on Monday. The meeting was also attended by the French and German foreign ministers.

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Image caption The Slovak foreign minister's tweet from the Visegrad 4 meeting in Prague

The day after the Prague meeting, Mr Lajcak visited London for talks with his British opposite number Philip Hammond. Slovak daily Pravda points out that Mr Lajcak was the first EU minister to visit London after the Brexit vote.

According to the paper, Mr Lajcak believes that Slovakia's experience in handling a "divorce" - it became an independent state in 1993 after having been part of Czechoslovakia - might now stand it in good stead.

'Main issue'

However, Slovak media are in no doubt about the scale of the task facing the country.

"The presidency is beginning to haunt Fico," news website aktualne.sk declares.

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Image caption Foreign Minister Miroslav Lajcak has already been involved in intense post-Brexit diplomacy

The Slovak presidency will be "all about Brexit," Michaela Terenzani predicts in the English-language Slovak Spectator.

And the junior partner in Slovakia's coalition government, the mixed Slovak-Hungarian Most-Hid (Bridge) party, posted a statement on its Facebook page saying that "Britain's decision completely changes the Slovak presidency, it becomes the number one issue… It is extremely important that Slovakia rises to the challenge of this presidency, for never before has a presiding country faced such a tough task".

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