A senior member of the Slovak government met his Russian counterpart today in a rare high-level contact between a member state of The European Union and a country that the EU seeks to isolate.

The Foreign Minister of Slovakia Juray Blanard had conversations with him Sergey Lavrov of Russia on the sidelines of a diplomatic forum in Turkey, it was announced by the countries in question.

The meeting, one of the few between senior European and Russian officials since Moscow’s 2022 invasion of Ukraine, was immediately criticized by Slovak opposition parties.

Slovak Prime Minister Robert Fičo, who has opposed sending government military aid to Ukraine, said the meeting “was an example of our balanced and sovereign foreign policy”. The Minister of Defense of Slovakia Robert Kalinak he had met yesterday, Friday, with his American counterpart Lloyd Austin.

Ficho also said that Blanard and Lavrov talked about the possibilities of holding a peace summit for Ukraine in Switzerland.

Blanard said in a statement that he reiterated Slovakia’s position that the conflict between Ukraine and Russia has no military solution and called for peace talks.

He added that during their meeting, which took place at Russia’s request, he told Lavrov that Slovakia’s position is based on respect for the principles of international law, such as territorial integrity and sovereignty.

Blanard also stated that the Slovakia she is against the creation of an “iron curtain” between Russia and the EU.

The Russian Foreign Ministry said in a statement that the two sides discussed issues, including Ukraine, and that Russia “confirmed that it is ready to restore relations with Slovakia.”

Fico returned to power after winning last year’s election promising to end state military aid to Ukraine and has made pro-Russian statements in the past, while also criticizing sanctions against Moscow.

In his first comments during today’s meeting, Lavrov said Russia prefers to work with countries such as Slovakia or Hungary, which “prioritize” national interests even if joining the EU or NATO “creates some challenges.”

“In this regard, we appreciate even more the ability of Prime Minister Fitzgerald and his government to have their own opinion on the situation in the world,” Lavrov said, according to the Russian Foreign Ministry.