Slovak Opposition Leader Says Zelensky ‘Lies on a Daily Basis’, Boycotts Ukrainian Prez’s Speech
15:12 GMT 10.05.2022 (Updated: 15:18 GMT 10.05.2022)
© Photo : YouTube / SMEUkrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky speaks before Slovakia's parliament. Tuesday 10 May 2022.
© Photo : YouTube / SME
The Ukrainian president spoke to Slovakia’s parliament by video link on Tuesday, telling lawmakers that if Russian troops weren’t “stopped” in Ukraine, “they will come everywhere they can, including to the territory of Slovakia”.
Slovak Smer-Social Democracy Party leader Robert Fico has followed through with his promise to boycott Volodymyr Zelensky’s speech to parliament.
In a press conference in Bratislava a day before the speech, Fico indicated that he would not attend, saying he would not listen to someone who “lies on a daily basis”.
The politician, who served as prime minister between 2006 until 2010 and then again from 2012 to 2018, accused Zelensky of harming Slovakia’s national interests, and stressed that a suspension of Russian energy supplies would “grossly damage” the country’s national interests.
Slovakia has spent years buying excess gas from Russia and selling it to Ukraine, allowing Kiev to conform with its pledge "not to buy Russian gas" while earning Bratislava a tidy profit.
Other Smer lawmakers also boycotted Zelensky’s speech, with MP Ladislav Kamenicky telling reporters he would not take part in the “masquerade” in parliament on Tuesday.
Slovak Foreign Minister Ivan Korcok called Smer’s boycott of the speech "cowardly and indecent", and vowed that Bratislava would support Kiev’s ambitions to join the European Union.
8 April 2022, 16:03 GMT
In his speech, Zelensky thanked Slovakia for its assistance and moral “solidarity” with Ukrainians, and tried to tie the situation in Ukraine today with the 1968 Warsaw Pact intervention of Czechoslovakia to topple a reformist government. “Friends of Ukraine have shown solidarity and have helped make sure Russia would not be able to repeat the year 1968”, Zelensky said.
Over the past two months, Slovakia has sent some 2.2 million gallons of petrol, 570,000 gallons of jet fuel, a Soviet-made S-300 air defence system, and other air defence and anti-tank equipment to Ukraine. The S-300 was reportedly destroyed in a Russian air strike shortly after entering Ukraine, although officials in Bratislava have contested these claims.
Despite this support, Slovakia has joined Austria and Hungary in rejecting a proposed EU ban on Russian energy, citing the lack of alternatives to reliable, affordable Russian-sourced oil and gas.
Robert Fico has long been a critic of the EU and NATO’s confrontational approach toward Russia. In 2014, the politician slammed EU sanctions against Russia as a “threat to the Slovak economy”. This past March, a group of Slovak MEPs charged him with “the spread of Kremlin propaganda” after Fico likened the arrival of NATO troops in Slovakia to “welcoming of the Wehrmacht” during World War II and characterised the Ukraine crisis as “a conflict between the United States and Russia”.