Slovakia's new president calls on EU's eastern bloc to respect rule of law
Slovakia's new president called on the Visegrad group of eastern EU member states on Thursday (July 11) to protect the rule of law to avoid being seen as "weakening the European Union", signalling a possible rift within a bloc that often acts together.
After meeting with Hungarian President Janos Ader, Slovak President Zuzana Caputova said cooperation in the Visegrad group comprising Poland, Hungary, Slovakia and the Czech Republic should be based on common values.
Without naming names, Caputova - who took office last month - took aim at Hungary and Poland, the two eastern member states often in conflict with the EU over rule of law concerns.
She told a news conference that the four countries' cooperation should be based on values including "rule of law, democracy and freedom".
Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban and Poland's ruling Law and Justice (PiS) party have tightened controls on courts and judges, media and academics, as well as non-governmental groups.
Caputova also dismissed allegations by some pro-government Hungarian media that she was an agent working for Hungarian-born, U.S.-based billionaire George Soros as "lies".
Orban's government has been waging a campaign against Soros - who promotes liberal causes through his charities - for years.
Ader, an ally of Orban, sought to play down a rift, saying Hungary and Slovakia could differ on issues in the coming years.