MOSCOW, October 11. /TASS/. /TASS/. The main criteria for developing relations between Slovakia and Russia are economic and energy interests, Slovak Foreign Minister Miroslav Lajcak said in an interview published by Bratislava's Pravda newspaper on Wednesday.
"The main components [of Slovak-Russian relations] are economy and energy," Lajcak said. "After imposing sanctions [on Russia], we witnessed a a considerable decline [in cooperation] but last year our trade turnover grew by 22%, and 20% more Russian tourists visited Slovakia," he added.
The prospects for expanding economic and trade cooperation will be discussed next week at the session of the Russian-Slovak inter-governmental commission, the foreign minister noted adding that the Slovak delegation will be led by Minister of Economy Peter Ziga.
Slovakia is concerned with plans to implement the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline project, Lajcak continued. "We feel that there is geopolitics there and do not want it to mean weakening EU energy security and independence. It is crucial for Slovakia to maintain [Russian gas] transit through our territory and Ukrainian territory," he said.
Addressing the issue of sanctions, Lajcak said that "we know why the EU imposed sanctions [on Russia]." "We also know what conditions need to be fulfilled in order to lift the sanctions. Slovakia is a loyal member of the European Union. We think of sanctions as political instruments, not politics itself," he added.
The foreign minister also expressed his concerns with growing international tensions. "Dialgoue with global players, such as Russia, should continue. This is the best way to resolve problems," he stressed.