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Hungarian FM: Treatment of Slovak Opposition “Warrants Close Attention” by Robert Semonsen

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Hungarian FM: Treatment of Slovak Opposition “Warrants Close Attention”

Hungarian Foreign Minister Péter Szijjártó has expressed concern over recent events which have seen Slovakia’s National Criminal Agency (NAKA) launch what may be politically-motivated criminal proceedings against Robert Fico, the former prime minister and the outspoken leader of the anti-establishment opposition party.

Robert Fico, along with his former interior minister Robert Kalinak, now face up to ten years in prison after they were charged last week with abuse of office and setting up and supporting a criminal group, charges which Fico—the leader of the socially conservative, economically nationalist SMER-SD party—insists is a clear-cut case of “political revenge” and an attempt to “liquidate the political opposition,” Euronews reports.

Szijjártó, while speaking with the Hungarian news agency Magyar Távirati Iroda (MTI) on Saturday, noted that the Hungarian government is attentively following the “unusual events” unfolding in Slovakia, adding that efforts underway to put the opposition leader behind bars “warrants closer attention than usual.”  

Fico, for his part, has denied any wrongdoing, describing the allegations leveled against him and his former interior minister as baseless. Over the weekend, during a press conference in Bratislava broadcast on the TA3 news channel, the former prime minister took aim at his country’s leadership, arguing that “today’s Slovak society is not democratic, Slovakia is not a state governed by the rule of law,” but an “American province.”

The former prime minister’s biting criticism didn’t end there, however, as he went on to describe Slovakia as a country ruled by criminals, insisting that President Zuzana Caputová is an American woman” who serves the interests of Washington.

It isnot Hungary or Poland, but Slovakia is the ulcer on the body of Europe,” Fico continued, claiming that the Slovakian government seeks to eliminate all dissenting voices by imprisoning the leader of the strongest opposition party. Fico then slammed Igor Matovič, who serves dual roles as deputy prime minister and finance minister, and Daniel Lipšice, head of the Special Prosecutor’s Office (NSP), describing both men as fascists and as criminals. 

The former prime minister, never one to hold back his contrarian views, caused a stir last month when he compared the arrival of NATO soldiers in Slovakia to the “welcoming of the Wehrmacht,” and characterized the Russia-Ukraine war as “a conflict between the United States and Russia.”

Fico, described by the mainstream press as a ‘left-wing nationalist,’ twice served as Slovakia’s prime minister, first from 2006 to 2010 and again from 2012 to 2018. During his tenure, he deviated from Slovakia’s long-held pro-NATO, Western-focused political orientation—a trend that began in 1998. Alternatively, the prime minister, at the time, worked to increase cooperation with non-EU countries like Serbia and Russia, often speaking of the need for “Slavonic solidarity.” 

Presently, Fico’s party, SMER-Sociálna Demokracia (Direction – Social Democracy), has 26 MPs in Slovakia’s 150-seat unicameral legislature, making it the largest opposition party in the country by a considerable margin.

Robert Semonsen is a political journalist based in Central Europe. His work has been featured in various English-language news outlets in Europe and the Americas. He has an educational background in biological and medical science. His Twitter handle is @R_Semonsen.