Slovakia a pro-European island in its region, Fico says

Slovak Prime Minister Robert Fico during the press conference at the end of the Summit on Equal Quality of Products for All at the Bratislava Castle in Bratislava, Slovakia, 13 October 2017. [Jakub Gavlak/EPA/EFE]

Slovakia’s prime minister, president and parliament speaker pledged yesterday (23 October) to keep to a pro-European path, a day after its Czech neighbours became the latest central European ex-Communists to elect a populist taking a hard line on the EU.

Czech billionaire Andrej Babiš’s ANO party won the vote that punished traditional parties. Babiš said on Saturday his party was pro-European but he is cool to adopting the euro single currency and resists deeper integration in the EU.

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Czech President Milos Zeman said yesterday (22 October) he would name Andrej Babiš prime minister, but the tycoon leader of the anti-establishment ANO party may struggle to find coalition partners despite his emphatic election win.

With the election of Babiš, the Czechs join the Poles and Hungarians in electing leaders who emphasise national interest and say they are sceptical of greater integration with Europe. Far right parties critical of Brussels have also scored successes in recent weeks in Austria and Germany, notably in Germany’s former Communist east.

“I never dared to comment on the domestic political situations in other countries, but I am glad that Slovakia has become a pro-European island in this region,” Slovakia’s Prime Minister Robert Fico said on Monday.

He said it was unintentional but apt timing that the pro-EU foreign policy declaration, which he backed along with President Andrej Kiska and parliament’s Speaker Andrej Danko, appeared on the morning after the Czech vote.

In power for nine of the past 11 years, Fico has clashed with Brussels himself on many occasions. But he also likes to boast that he increased Slovakia’s clout by bringing it into the euro zone in 2009 when its richer Czech neighbours kept their own currency.

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Challenging the EU’s political correctness, Slovak Prime Minister Robert Fico said he will not allow a large Muslim community in his country. Fico’s anti-immigration rhetoric has boosted his Direction-Social Democracy party (SMER-SD) ahead of the 5 March elections.

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The European Union is committing a “ritual suicide” with its migration policy, Slovak Prime Minister Robert Fico said today (26 January), urging the 28-member bloc to stop the inflow of migrants fast.

In recent months, since the election of Emmanuel Macron in France gave a boost to pro-Europeans across the bloc, he has embraced the EU more ardently, saying he aims to steer into a “core” Europe, even if neighbours want to stay on the fringes.

Fico, too, is battling a rise in anti-EU sentiment in his country of 5.4 million. But Slovakia, with a small economy driven by exports of cars and electronics to other EU states, has more to lose from alienating Brussels than its bigger and more self-sufficient neighbours.

Bratislava is one of the candidates to host the European Medicines Agency (EMA). A decision is expected in November.

Relocation of UK agencies to be decided by Eurovision-style vote

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