BRATISLAVA, June 9 /TASS/. Slovakia is one of the very few European Union countries, which has been calling for the restoration of normal relations between Russia and the European Union, which came to a halt two years ago, Vyacheslav Timchenko, who heads a group of friendship with Slovakia at the Russian Federation Council upper house of parliament, told TASS on Thursday.
Timchenko is leading a 28-member Russian parliamentary delegation to Slovakia. It will help preparing a visit of a Slovak parliamentary delegation to Russia slated for autumn.
"Despite external pressure, Slovakia is consistently stressing the need of lifting the EU-imposed anti-Russian sanctions as soon as possible," Timchenko went on to say.
"All our partners - in the Slovak parliament, representatives of the municipal authorities and ordinary people whom we met - stressed the need of doing that," the Russian lawmaker said.
Andrej Danko, the speaker of the National Council of the Slovak Republic, also called for restoring contacts with Russia at all levels, including a political one.
Timchenko believes that Slovakia is setting a good example to other EU member states of how to develop mutually beneficial cooperation with Russia. The two countries, according to Timchenko, are expanding inter-parliamentary ties. Parliamentarians from both countries have increased the number of reciprocal visits. For example, Russian parliamentary delegations have visited Bratislava, the capital of the Slovak Republic, twice over the past two months.
"Russian-Slovak groups of friendship are stepping up work in our parliaments. It is noteworthy that 53 out of 150 deputies of the Slovak National Council (parliament) elected on March 5 are members of the groups of friendship with Russia. This fact speaks for itself and indicates the republic’s interest in strengthening friendship with Russia," Timchenko stressed.
The Russian parliamentary delegation took part in the first meeting of Russian and Slovak twin towns and regions, which maintain partnership ties.
"This meeting can be called historical. It is taking place in the atmosphere of growing reciprocal interest of regions in both countries to develop cooperation with each other. Representatives of 23 Russian regions are taking part in it," Timchenko added.
"It was not accidental that Slovakia was chosen as the venue for the forum. This country heartedly supports Russia - all the participants in the forum said that. Our meeting is, in fact, reviving the good tradition of friendly interaction among cities and regions lost over the past decades," the Russian lawmaker said.
The forum, which kicked off on Wednesday, will last for four days. Its plenary meeting has been held. Now, the Russian delegates will visit Slovak regions where they will stay until Saturday and will discuss plans and concrete projects for inter-regional cooperation.
The town of Vidnoye in the Moscow region is a good example of how Russian towns and regions can develop cooperation with towns and regions in foreign countries. This populated locality has established twin relations with several towns in the European Union and Asia. "Now, it will develop the same kind of relations with friends in Slovakia. This is one of the main results of our visit," Timchenko said.
"Inter-regional cooperation and the expansion of inter-regional partnership is the most positive form of developing friendly ties between Russia and Slovakia," the head of the Russian parliamentary delegation concluded.