Who Is Robert Fico, the Prime Minister of Slovakia?

Robert Fico, 59, has performed a pivotal function in Slovakian politics within the years because it gained independence in 1993 and has served as prime minister longer than every other chief.

The nation gained independence after the so-called Velvet Revolution, a sequence of standard and nonviolent protests in 1989 in opposition to the Communist Celebration in what was at the moment nonetheless Czechoslovakia.

Mr. Fico, who had been a Communist Celebration member whereas it was in energy, based the Smer get together within the late Nineties and commenced the primary of his three phrases as prime minister in 2006, serving for 4 years earlier than going into opposition after his coalition misplaced an election. Slovakia is a landlocked nation of round 5 million individuals.

The Smer get together, which began out on the political left however has more and more embraced right-wing views on immigration and cultural points, has ruled as a part of a coalition. A lot of the worldwide deal with Mr. Fico’s management in recent times has centered on his ties to President Vladimir Putin of Russia and to Prime Minister Viktor Orban of Hungary, Slovakia’s southern neighbor.

Mr. Fico returned to energy in 2012 however resigned as prime minister in July 2018 following mass demonstrations over the homicide of a journalist, Jan Kuciak, and his fiancée, Martina Kusnirova, who had been uncovering authorities corruption. The protests, which rocked the nation, had been the biggest seen for the reason that Velvet Revolution; demonstrators demanded the resignation of the federal government and new elections.

Slovakia ranks excessive in unbiased assessments of press freedom, however the protesters had additionally sought deeper adjustments within the nation Mr. Fico had overseen.

He returned to energy in an election final fall, forming a coalition authorities after securing round 23 % of the vote, having campaigned in opposition to sanctions that had been imposed on Russia after its full-scale invasion of Ukraine started in February 2022. Not one spherical of the nation’s ammunition needs to be despatched to Ukraine, he had advised voters.

That stance, in a rustic the place pro-Russian sentiment had traditionally been important, nervous E.U. leaders in Brussels, who stated they feared that Slovakia may kind a pro-Russian alliance with Mr. Orban and, probably, Italy’s chief, Georgia Meloni, that may impede help for Ukraine within the European Union. On the time, it was additionally seen as an indication of the obvious erosion of the pro-Ukrainian bloc that Europe had shaped after the invasion.

Slovakia’s navy contributions to Ukraine had been negligible in contrast with nations corresponding to the USA and Britain. However final 12 months it grew to become one in all a number of European Union nations on Ukraine’s borders to dam imports of its grain, fearing that it may undermine Slovakia’s farmers.

In April, an ally of Mr. Fico, Peter Pellegrini, gained a vote to develop into Slovakia’s president. The place is essentially ceremonial, however analysts stated the victory strengthened the grip of political forces pleasant to Russia in Central Europe, on condition that Mr. Pellegrini opposed offering navy and monetary support to Ukraine.

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