Feb 2, 2023
EU Diplomats Warn on Slovakia’s Opposition as Election Nears
(Bloomberg) -- Senior European diplomats raised concerns over Slovakia’s opposition after meeting former Prime Minister Robert Fico, who is seeking a return to power in an early election this September.
Fico, who leads the opposition Smer party, has vowed to halt weapons deliveries to Ukraine and has made headlines with increasingly strident anti-US and anti-European Union rhetoric.
The UK ambassador to Slovakia, Nigel Baker, welcomed the meeting with Fico as a channel for dialog, though took issue with comments by “some” Smer party officials who he said “repeatedly spread misinformation” about Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and weapons deliveries.
“Such statements do not help trust in sincere bilateral relationships and break long-built partnerships,” Baker said in a statement on Facebook.
The French embassy also issued a statement, saying ambassadors expressed “concerns over the foreign policy orientation” of Smer, reinforcing EU and NATO support for Ukraine.
Fico, a three-time premier who was forced to step down in 2018 after the murder of a journalist investigating corruption, has seen support for his center-left party rebound from record lows eight months before the eastern EU member state holds an early election.
Fico has lashed out at Prime Minister Eduard Heger’s government, accusing it of aiding Ukrainians more than Slovaks as they face a bruising cost-of-living crisis. Polls show the rhetoric, as well as Fico’s assertion that Russian sanctions are hurting the country’s economy, is gaining traction.
Heger’s governing coalition collapsed in December over sustained infighting over spending. Lawmakers announced a Sept. 30 election date this week.
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