Europe is now operating in a new paradigm where Ukraine should be offered a “special track” toward integration, Slovakia’s Prime Minister Eduard Heger said on Sunday. 

Slovakia pushes for ‘special track’ for Ukraine toward joining EU

In an interview with POLITICO, the Slovak leader deplored Russia’s bombing of civilians in Ukraine and pushed for creating a new type of pathway toward EU membership especially for Kyiv. 

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy made a public appeal over the weekend on EU accession, declaring that now is a “crucial moment” to decide on Ukraine’s membership, after Russian President Vladimir Putin invaded the country on Thursday.

Slovakia — which shares a border with Ukraine — is advocating for Kyiv’s EU plea to be taken seriously. 

“On Thursday morning, we woke up to a new world,” Heger said. Europe, according to the Slovak leader, now needs to give Kyiv a “signal.”

“They fight for themselves, they fight for us — they fight for freedom,” Heger said of Ukrainians. “We have to realize that they are protecting our system, our values and we have to be together with them. So there is no time to hesitate on this,” he said.

The Slovak prime minister argued that a new approach to European integration should be adopted when it comes to Ukraine. There should be a “totally new track” for a country that has gone through a war and “wants to be part of Europe,” he said. 

This approach could also include aid in reconstructing Ukraine, Heger argued.  

“We have to help them to get on their feet, and we have to come up with new tools,” he said, while floating the idea of a recovery fund for Ukraine. 

Pointing to Russian targeting of Ukrainian infrastructure in its invasion, Heger noted that “there will be so much investment needed to put the country into the shape where they were a week ago,” adding that he expects a “hunger for reforms” in Ukraine “like never before.” 

At the same time, the Slovak leader said his country is open to discussing further sanctions on Russia. 

“We have to be open to speak of everything that will stop Putin,” he said. 

Over the weekend, Slovakia approved new assistance to Ukraine, including ammunition. Heger has also offered Bratislava as a possible venue for peace talks. 

“The immediate priority,” the prime minister said, “is to have peace in Ukraine.”

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