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Russia Sanctions not in Interests of Slovakia and Czech Republic — Slovak PM

Slovak Prime Minister thanked his Czech counterpart for his "courageous stance" on the sanctions issue

PRAGUE, March 13 (TASS) Sanctions imposed by Western nations on Russia over the crisis in Ukraine "are not in the interests of Slovakia and the Czech republic", Slovak Prime Minister Robert Fico said on Friday.

Addressing a congress of the Czech Social Democratic Party in Prague, Fico noted unanimity of opinion among the Slovak and Czech authorities on sanctions against Russia. While urging European politicians to ease off on existing restrictions, Prague and Bratislava are pursuing their own national interests, he said.

"We should protect our national interests - the interests of the Czech Republic and Slovakia. And we have managed this," Fico said. He also thanked his Czech counterpart Bohuslav Sobotka, the leader of the Social Democratic Party, for his "courageous stance" on the sanctions issue.

The Slovak premier recalled that "both the Czech and the Slovak governments spoke out against certain economic restrictions, the European Union planned to impose on Moscow".

EU governments on Friday decided to prolong sanctions on a list of Ukrainian and Russian individuals and companies accused of "undermining Ukraine's sovereignty, territorial integrity and independence", the European Council said.

The asset freezes and travel bans on 150 people and 37 organizations were extended for a further six months, until September 15, it said, adding that details would be published in the EU's Official Journal on Saturday.

The decision was a formality after EU foreign ministers agreed in late January to extend the sanctions against Ukrainian and Russian individuals and companies, saying they were responsible for the conflict in Ukraine.

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