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Slovakian president urges region to pursue EU goals

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Andrzej Duda, Zuzana Caputova

Polish President Andrzej Duda, right, and Slovakian President Zuzana Caputova, left, attend a military welcome ceremony at the presidential Palace in Warsaw, Poland, Monday, July 15, 2019. Caputova is staying for an official visit in Poland. (AP Photo/Czarek Sokolowski)

WARSAW, Poland (AP) — Slovakia’s president on Monday urged Central Europe to continue to pursue EU goals, while deploring the fact that the region will have no representative among the EU’s top leaders.

Slovakian President Zuzana Caputova spoke Monday during a visit to Warsaw, where she met Polish President Andrzej Duda and Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki for talks on challenges facing the EU, on security and relations with Russia, as well as regional matters.

Caputova said it was “not a good result” that none of the EU leaders in the new term will come from the Visegrad Group, or V4,that is comprised of Poland, Slovakia, The Czech Republic and Hungary. The group has been critical of many EU actions, including on accepting migrants. It stymied the candidacy of socialist Frans Timmermans to be the new head of the EU Commission.

Caputova urged better European integration for the Visegrad Group and the pursuit of joint European goals. She said Slovakia’s integration with its EU partners is the closest among the V4 nations, adding that she hopes Slovakia’s Maros Sefcovic will remain in his post as EU energy commissioner.

With Duda she discussed changes to the judiciary under Poland’s right-wing government and in particular the new disciplinary body that watches over the judges, which has drawn criticism from the EU.

She said it was important that such body serve as a “good mirror” and is free from political pressure.

Caputova, who took her office last month as Slovakia’s first female president, spoke in favor of good relations with Russia, on condition it respects international law.

She was clearly referring to Moscow’s annexation of Crimea from Ukraine and its support for armed separatists in eastern Ukraine.

Copyright 2019 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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