Office of the Government
Prime Minister Andrej Babiš received the Slovak Prime Minister Igor Matovič on Wednesday 3 June 2020 during his first official visit to the Czech Republic. The main themes of the call were cooperation on the issue of the reopening of the common borders, a resolution of the effects of the covid-19 epidemic and the mutual relations of both states. As part of the EU agenda, both prime ministers also discussed the multi-year financial framework and further cooperation of the Visegrád states.
During the meeting in Kramář’s Villa, Prime Minister Babiš thanked the Slovak Prime Minister Matovič for coming on an official visit to the Czech Republic in spite of the current difficult situation, thereby maintaining the tradition that the first official foreign trip of a new prime minister is taken to the other country of the former joined state. “We were together for 75 years and of course those connections are very close, not only interpersonal, but also familial,” Andrej Babiš commented.
One of the main themes of the meeting was the easing of the measures at the borders. As a surprise for the citizens of their countries, the prime ministers both came with the agreement that the free movement of Czech and Slovak citizens will apply on the common borders starting from midnight on Wednesday.
“I think that we are extremely interested in that. On one hand, Slovakia is our second-largest export country after Germany. And then there is tourism, because Slovakia is the second-largest destination for our citizens following Croatia. I think that 720 thousand citizens visit Slovakia annually and roughly the same number of Slovaks also comes to us. It is more than 700 thousand and it is increasing every year. And that is good,” the Czech Prime Minister commented. The opening of the common border is both a signal of a return to normalcy following the covid-19 epidemic, according to Babiš, but also an essential element for mutual aid specifically in the area of tourism, which was hit very hard by the effects of the coronavirus.
Another theme was the cooperation between the Czech Republic and Slovakia. The prime ministers agreed on the continuation of the traditional joint meetings of the Czech and Slovak governments, for example. The next meeting will be held by Slovakia and, according to Slovak Prime Minister Igor Matovič it will be held symbolically in Slovak Paradise.
“We also talked about the automotive industry. Slovakia, in fact, has four car manufacturers, we have three, so it is a big theme and we, of course, have a lot of common matters and cooperation that await us,” noted Andrej Babiš.
The prime ministers agreed that in addition to bilateral cooperation, they would cooperate in successful cooperation as part of regional platforms, including primarily the V4. Last, but not least, they also discussed current European themes, primarily the proposal to strengthen the multi-year financial framework and the recovery plan, which they discussed yesterday through a videoconference in the V4 format with the Chairman of the European Council, Charles Michel.
“It was a very good visit and we will be meeting again on 11 June in Lednice, where the first physical summit of V4 prime ministers will be held following the coronavirus, where we will be discussing even more together about the upcoming European Council summit, which should be on 19 June,” Prime Minister Babiš remarked.
Prime Minister Andrej Babiš last visited the Slovak Republic in February, when he participated in the discussion in the Hospodářské Noviny Club. The last joint meeting of the Czech and Slovak governments was held in November 2019 in Valtice.
Autor: Office of the Government