The former Slovak Prime Minister Robert Fico has urged Czech politicians to respect the sovereignty and democratic process of Slovakia following recent remarks from high-profile political figures expressing concern over the trajectory Slovakia could take should Fico return to office.
Fico, the head of the Slovak opposition party, Direction – Slovak Social Democracy (Smer-SD), issued a response to the comments made by Czech President Petr Pavel and Foreign Minister Jan Lipavský, which he posted on his social media platforms.
“First it was the President of the Czech Republic, P. Pavel, who expressed concern about developments in the Slovak Republic. Then, Foreign Minister of the Czech Republic, J. Lipavský, from the progressive Pirate party, declared that my possible return to the post of Prime Minister of the Slovak Republic is something that is very necessary to watch closely,” wrote Fico.
“I would like to ask all Czech politicians not to be persuaded into this dirty work and not to interfere in the affairs of the Slovak Republic,” said the leader of the opposition.
Slovaks head to the polls on Sept. 30 to elect members of the National Council, and recent polling shows Fico’s Smer party would at present become the largest party in Slovakia.
Fico has rumbled the Western establishment with his nationalistic, populist appeal, with critics drawing similarities with Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán.
The liberal European elite are concerned that an electoral victory for Fico’s party could see a change in approach towards Slovakia’s support for Ukraine, with the former Slovak prime minister making no bones about his plans to withdraw support for Ukraine; he has also vowed to stop military aid to the country and move closer to the position of Hungary should he return to office.
“It’s a blatant support of killings without results,” Fico said at a press briefing earlier this month about more tank deliveries from Western allies to Kyiv.
Fico praised Orbán’s reelection in April last year, telling reporters, “Viktor Orban puts Hungary’s interests first in his policies and has not allowed the country to be dragged into the conflict in Ukraine.”
Czech Foreign Minister Lipavský discussed Fico’s potential return to office last week on the Czech TV program Otázky Václav Moravec. He expressed his hope that Fico’s stance on Ukraine is just “pre-election rhetoric, and he will back down from these completely outrageous statements.”
President Pavel also expressed his concern about the political situation in Slovakia in February during an EU debate in Prague.
Slovakia is currently awaiting early elections following the fall of Eduard Heger’s government last December when the lower house of the Slovak parliament passed a vote of no confidence. The country is currently being run under the authority of President Zuzana Čaputová.