‘Don’t interfere in our democracy!’ – Slovak election favorite Fico warns Czech president

FILE - Leader of the SMER-Social Democracy party Robert Fico addresses the media during a press conference. (AP Photo/Petr David Josek, File)
By Thomas Brooke
3 Min Read

Former Slovak Prime Minister Robert Fico has accused Czech President Petr Pavel of interfering in the upcoming Slovak elections after he made disparaging remarks about Fico’s opposition party to journalists during the annual meeting of the U.N. General Assembly.

Pavel told the press in New York that relations between Czechia and Slovakia would worsen if Fico returned to power, and accused the former Slovak leader of holding views akin to Russian propaganda.

“These are things that, if he were to be elected and gain confidence, would somewhat strain the relationship between us,” Pavel said.

Fico, whose SMER-SSD party currently leads the polls ahead of Saturday’s vote, has vowed to halt Slovak arms supplies to Ukraine and holds a view more aligned with pro-peace advocates such as Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán than other NATO members continuing to arm Kyiv.

He has also been skeptical of Ukraine’s proposed EU membership, at least in the immediacy, calling it a far-off prospect due to the ongoing conflict and accusations of corruption and democratic backsliding in the war-torn country.

“We are convinced it is illusory to deal with this question at a time when a sharp military conflict goes on in Ukraine. We all know for example that Ukraine belongs among the most corrupt countries in the world and the existing government regime is far from democratic standards,” Fico has said regarding Ukraine’s accession to the European Union during the election campaign.

In response to the Czech president’s remarks, Fico published a video on his Facebook page urging Pavel not to interfere in Slovak democracy.

“Dear Mr. President of the Czech Republic P. Pavel, do not break good relations between our nations just because Slovak social democracy and a large part of the Slovak population have a different, sovereign opinion on the war in Ukraine!” he said.

“I am against the further arming of Ukraine because prolonging the conflict only leads to unnecessary and huge loss of human life,” he added, calling for immediate peace talks.

Fico is widely tipped to return to power following this weekend’s election, with his SMER-SSD party regularly polling as the largest party in the parliament at 20 percent, narrowly beating the liberal Progresívne Slovensko in second at 17 percent.

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