Nationalists in Slovak government criticize Fico for supporting Ukraine at EU summit

The leader of the pro-Russian Slovak National Party, a member of Slovakia’s government coalition, has criticized Prime Minister Robert Fico’s support for the conclusions of the European Council summit in late October.

The EU leaders’ summit on October 27, as at previous meetings, reaffirmed its intention to “provide strong financial, economic, humanitarian, military and diplomatic support to Ukraine and its people for as long as necessary.” Representatives of all member states endorsed this statement.

Prime Minister Robert Fico also said at the summit that he was ready to join the EU’s €50 billion financial assistance to Ukraine if its conditions are met, including guarantees to avoid corruption and opportunities for Slovak companies. The leader of the Slovak National Party, Andrej Danko, criticized his coalition partner.

“I do not agree with the fact that Robert Fico supported this. In the text, you can see military support, but he made it clear that we reject military aid,” Danko said in an interview with Hospodárske noviny, adding that he would convey his position to Fico.

Participation in the government with nationalists led to the expulsion of Fico’s SMER party from the Party of European Socialists. Now, Danko says he wants to try his hand at next year’s EU parliamentary elections, as he is unsure of the new government’s longevity.

Danko also criticizes the government actions of ministers from Hlas, another coalition party. He is unhappy with the new Education Minister Tomáš Drucker, who has gone on record as saying that “NGOs in schools are not a problem.”

But the nationalists are pushing for a Russian-style law that would label organizations receiving funding from abroad as “foreign agents.”

Earlier, Danko’s party had already caused a stir during the formation of the government when their candidate for Environment Minister, Rudolf Gulyak, was rejected by President Zuzana Čaputová because of his climate change denials and threats against activists. The nationalists then conceded and introduced a new candidate, Tomáš Taraba, who said he did not consider humans the greatest threat to nature.

Previously, Slovak nationalists had won only one seat in the European Parliament. In 2009, Jaroslav Paška became their first MEP and joined the Europe of Freedom and Democracy group, which no longer exists.

During the electoral campaign and in the first two days of the new Slovak government’s work, its head, Robert Fico, made several anti-Ukrainian statements. Fico repeatedly said that he would halt military aid for Ukraine.

After becoming Prime Minister, he announced the termination of military support for Ukraine. Fico’s controversial statement was when he referred to Ukraine as “the most corrupt country in the world,” which, in his opinion, is why there is no reason to continue financial support for Kyiv.

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