Slovak Prime Minister Robert Fico has vowed to challenge the consensus in Brussels
The EU’s backing of Ukraine, sanctions on Russia, and “fanatic” environmental policies are “destructive for Europe,” yet Brussels does not tolerate discussion of these issues, Slovak Prime Minister Robert Fico said on Saturday.
“If we can’t tell the truth at the Brussels table that, for example, anti-Russian sanctions didn’t work, that further destruction of Ukraine and killing Ukrainians is going nowhere, that the fanatic implementation of the Green Deal is killing our economies, that 20 thousand casualties in the Gaza Strip cannot be overlooked just because Israel causes them, we are on a slippery slope that can be not only politically, but also economically destructive for Europe,” Fico wrote in a post on Facebook.
The Slovak PM has cut off his own country’s military aid to Kiev and vowed to block Brussels’ next sanctions package if it includes an embargo on Russian nuclear fuel. While Fico did not veto the European Council’s decision on Thursday to open accession talks with Ukraine, he has dismissed the vote as “a political decision that has nothing to do with reality,” and asserted that Kiev “is absolutely unprepared to open the negotiations.”
Fico’s position on Ukraine’s membership bid is at odds with that of most EU leaders, who hailed Thursday’s decision as “a breakthrough” and “a clear signal of support” for Kiev, in the words of Irish Prime Minister Leo Varadkar and German Chancellor Olaf Scholz.
Apart from Fico, Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban has been the EU’s staunchest critic of the bloc’s sanctions policy and its push to admit Ukraine. Orban has referred to Ukraine as “one of the most corrupt countries in the world,” and called the bloc’s leaders “senseless and irrational” for opening membership talks with a country involved in an active conflict, with an economy entirely dependent on foreign aid to function.
Before the conflict in Ukraine began, Orban regularly clashed with the EU over his hardline immigration policies. Earlier this year he accused Brussels of “raping” Hungary and Poland by introducing legislation that he said would “relocate migrants to Hungary by force.”
“I respect every politician who can sovereignly stand up for the interests of his own nation, because today in Europe discussion is more of an exception than a rule,” Fico wrote on Facebook. “And Viktor Orban is the exception.”
The Slovak leader said that he would take a similar approach when negotiating with the bloc’s officials, and would not seek to “collect personal praise from the West.”
Fico’s position on the fighting in Ukraine was a key factor behind his party’s suspension from its European parliamentary faction, the Party of European Socialists, in October. Responding to the suspension, Fico declared that “if our exclusion from the international party is to be a price for pursuing a genuine left-wing agenda in Slovakia and voicing sovereign opinions, we are prepared to pay such a price.”
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