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West may punish Slovakia for electing Ukraine-skeptic president – PM

Robert Fico said he wouldn’t be surprised if the EU cuts funding to the country after the victory of Social Democrat Peter Pellegrini

The EU may look for ways to punish Slovakia following the victory of Ukraine-skeptic Peter Pellegrini in the country’s presidential elections, Prime Minister Robert Fico has warned.

The Social Democrat politician is set to become president after defeating pro-Western liberal candidate Ivan Korczok, who had called for more military and financial support for Kiev.

Pellegrini officially won 53% of the vote while Korczok, a former minister for foreign affairs, trailed on 46%. In his victory speech, Pellegrini called for hostilities in Ukraine to be stopped as soon as possible.

“It is an absolute tragedy to support… a conflict that has not brought any results in two years,” while leaving tens of thousands dead, the president-elect said.

While congratulating the new president on his victory, Fico warned that Slovakia must now take into account “the possible punishment of the West for electing Peter Pellegrini, and not Ivan Korczok, who would not have hesitated to send Slovak battalions to Ukraine.”

The prime minister recalled that, following the victory of his Social Democrat party in the parliamentary elections in Slovakia last year, instead of receiving congratulations from the EU, the group was expelled from the Party of European Socialists due to its position on Ukraine.

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“I would not be surprised if the European Commission, purely for political reasons and because of the results of the presidential elections, suspended payments to us from [EU] funds,” Fico said.

During his election campaign, Pellegrini repeatedly stated that the Ukraine conflict must be resolved through peaceful means. He has opposed sending any further military aid to Kiev, arguing that Ukraine would not be able to defeat Russia on the battlefield, and that further weapon shipments would only lead to the unnecessary deaths of thousands of soldiers and civilians.

The incoming president has also described the West’s sanctions on Russia as ineffective and against the interests of Slovakia. Pellegrini has opposed Ukraine’s membership in NATO but is open to Kiev becoming part of the EU. He has said, however, that the country must first meet all the necessary requirements to join the bloc.

He has indicated that Slovakia would remain aligned with the EU and NATO under his leadership, but the country must also take a more independent position on the global stage.

 

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