First appeared at Sputnik

The European Union would be better off focusing on European interests rather than those of the United States, Branislav Fabry, a law and social sciences expert at Comenius University in Bratislava, Slovakia, said in an interview with Sputnik.

Former Czech president Vaclav Klaus recently said that amid the growing pressure from Brussels on the East European countries to admit more migrants, it was now time for the Czech Republic to think about leaving the EU.

When asked if Slovakia too should send a similar signal to Brussels, Branislav Fabry said that while considering such an exit small countries like Slovakia should have in mind an alternative course of development, because otherwise this warning would  not be taken seriously.

“After leaving the EU Slovakia would find itself sandwiched between a pro-Western Ukraine and the EU countries and would hardly be able to pursue an independent policy. This would also complicate its relations with the US,” Fabry told Sputnik Czech.

He added that exiting the EU would automatically end the country’s membership in NATO, whose policy towards Russia, and its actions in the Middle East are a major reason for the ongoing crisis in Europe.

“In any case, Slovakia should start thinking about the scenarios of its future progress,” Branislav Fabry noted.

Speaking about the pressure Brussels is using against some of the EU members to do things that contradict their cultural and historical traditions, he said that detached as the EU establishment is from reality, some EU countries tend to use their criticism of Brussels to justify their own failure to tackle the problems they are supposed to deal with.

“The problem of Brussels is that it is trying to impose its decisions on others, while the problem of some EU member-states is their refusal to look for compromises. As for the Visegrad Four, they should be more active in proposing their own solutions to European problems and more decisively stand by their position in relations with the EU and the US,” Fabry continued.

He also said that important as the current migrant crisis is for the future of the European Union, there are other problems, such as the debt crisis and the search for a new economic model, that need to be addressed.

“It is imperative for European politicians to find new impulses to justify the EU’s existence. A better identification of European interests different from those of the US could be one such impulse. After the British referendum and Donald Trump’s election in the US, many in Europe started to realize how different the US interests are from those of the EU,” he emphasized.

When asked whether the Visegrad Four could become an alternative to the EU, he said that he didn’t think so.

“The Visegrad Four cannot be an alternative to the EU simply because there are less people living there than in Italy alone, and also because its combined GDP is a mere half of what they have in Italy. Moreover, the unresolved disputes still existing between Slovakia and Hungary and different foreign policy priorities, included vis-à-vis Brussels, could seriously hamper coordination within the V4,” Branislav Fabry concluded.

More than half of German and Italian citizens, as well as almost two thirds of Britons think that at least one country will withdraw from the European Union in the coming years, an Ifop poll for Sputnik showed Thursday.

Fifty-two percent of German respondents and 57 percent of respondents from Italy, along with 64 percent of Britons said that at least one EU member state could leave the 28-nation bloc in next several years, the survey showed.

Founded in 1991, the Visegrad Group, also known as the Visegrad Four, or V4, comprises the Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland and Slovakia for the purposes of furthering their European integration, as well as for advancing military, economic and energy cooperation with one another.

All four members of the Visegrad Group joined the European Union on May 1, 2004.

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