Slovakia’s two-time former prime minister Robert Fico, whose SMER party won parliamentary elections Saturday, said he will do everything he can to ensure peace talks between Russia and Ukraine start as soon as possible.
Fico failed to secure enough votes to govern on his own but will have a chance to become prime minister again when coalition talks begin.
He’s known for his pro-Russia stance and his suggestion of peace talks is unlikely to be welcomed in Ukraine, which does not want to engage in any negotiations that would mean ceding territory to Russia.
Asked about his stance on Ukraine, Fico said: “I will constrain myself to one sentence: Slovakia and people in Slovakia have bigger problems than Ukraine.”
“Ukraine is a huge tragedy, for everyone. If SMER is asked to form a government … I will do everything, also within the European Union, to see peace talks begin as soon as possible,” he said.
“More killing is not going to help anyone. You know our opinion. I’d rather spend 10 years negotiating peace and compromises, than let people kill each other for 10 more years and then end up where we are now. We are not changing our stance as a peace party.”
Some context: Slovakia, an eastern European nation of about 5.5 million people, was going to the polls to choose its fifth prime minister in four years after seeing a series of shaky coalition governments.
A SMER-led government could have serious consequences for the region. Slovakia is a member of both NATO and the European Union, was among the handful of European countries pushing for tough EU sanctions against Russia and has donated a large amount of military equipment to Ukraine.
But this will likely change under Fico, who has blamed “Ukrainian Nazis and fascists” for provoking Russia’s President Vladimir Putin into launching the invasion, repeating the false narrative Putin has used to justify his invasion.