PRAGUE, Sept 4 Slovakia will strive to soften
proposed European sanctions against Russia relating to exports
of dual-use items and financial markets to protect its economy,
Prime Minister Robert Fico said on Thursday.
The EU has said it is considering new sanctions against
Russia to punish Moscow for sending troops into eastern Ukraine.
Russia denies it has troops inside Ukraine.
The sanctions would target four sectors, including defence,
dual use goods and finance.
Governments should make a decision on the final shape of the
package by Friday, with ambassadors meeting before then to hone
Fico, centre-left leader of the NATO member country which
has maintained relations with Russia, has long been opposed to
sanctions, though Slovakia has refrained from vetoing any EU
He said on Thursday the government instructed its EU
ambassador to protest against specific parts of the sanctions
package relating to financial markets and exports of goods that
may have military as well as civilian use.
"We have said we have the appetite to veto concrete
sanctions or a concrete part of sanctions," Fico told a news
conference in Bratislava.
"Most member states will certainly want to adopt sanctions.
We do not want to infringe the EU's unity but we will defend our
economic interests very strongly."
Specifically, Slovakia opposes banning access of Russian
banks to syndicated loans because, Fico said, it may endanger
hypothetical recapitalisation needs of Russian banks'
subsidiaries in the EU by their parent firms - such as Sberbank
and its subsidiary in Slovakia.
On dual-use items, Fico said Slovakia wanted to remove some
goods from the sanctions list and opposed banning shipments to
Fico said his position was similar to the Czech Republic
which said it would try to alter the proposed sanctions as well
to protect exports of industrial goods.
He said Slovakia had been helping Ukraine, notably by
upgrading a pipeline to allow natural gas shipments to Ukraine
from the west, a project completed this week.
(Reporting by Jan Lopatka; Editing by Toby Chopra)