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Slovak president gives mandate to Fico to form new government

Robert Fico with the president.
Robert Fico with the president. Copyright Vaclav Salek/AP
Copyright Vaclav Salek/AP
By Euronews with AFP
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Slovakia’s president on Monday asked the leader of the winning party in the country’s parliamentary election to try to form a coalition government.

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On Monday, the Slovakian president entrusted the formation of the new government to the populist Robert Fico, who opposes military aid to Ukraine and is considered to be pro-Russian, with Bratislava accusing Moscow of "inadmissible interference" in Saturday's elections.

Mr Fico's party, Smer-SD, won 23% of the vote, ahead of the centrist Progressive Slovakia party (PS, 18%), in Saturday's elections.

On Monday, Slovakia accused Russia of "interfering" in Saturday's parliamentary elections and summoned a Russian diplomat following statements by the head of Russian foreign intelligence, who spoke of Washington "interfering" in Slovak domestic politics.

The Slovak Foreign Ministry protested against Sergei Narychkin's statements, which called "into question the integrity of free and democratic elections in Slovakia" and described them as "inadmissible interference by the Russian Federation in the electoral process" in Slovakia.

The Russian embassy in Bratislava denied any interference on Monday. "Unlike some of Slovakia's current allies, we do not interfere in the internal affairs of other countries and we do not engage in regime change," the embassy said, quoted by Russian news agencies.

"I understand that the election results are associated with various concerns for many people", said President Zuzana Caputova, herself a former SP official.

However, "the task of the head of state is to respect the results of democratic elections", she argued.

During the campaign, Mr Fico, 59, vowed that Slovakia would no longer send "a single bullet of ammunition" to Ukraine and called for better relations with Russia.

Olivier Matthys/Copyright 2017 The AP. All rights reserved.
Slovakia's Prime Minister Robert Fico waves as he arrives for an EU summit in Brussels on Friday, Oct. 20, 2017.Olivier Matthys/Copyright 2017 The AP. All rights reserved.

The former prime minister recently declared that "the war in Ukraine began in 2014 when Ukrainian fascists killed civilian victims of Russian nationality", echoing unproven Russian claims.

On Sunday, he said that his country of 5.4 million inhabitants had "more important problems" than aid to Ukraine, despite the fact that Slovakia, a member of the EU and NATO, has until now been a major European donor to Ukraine as a proportion of its GDP.

"We believe that Ukraine is a huge tragedy for everyone. If the Smer is given the task of forming a cabinet (...), we will do our best to organise peace talks as soon as possible", Mr Fico told the press.

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