Slovakia’s Prime Minster Expresses Forgiveness for ‘The Stranger Who Shot Me’

Wim De Gent
By Wim De Gent
June 6, 2024Europe
Slovakia’s Prime Minster Expresses Forgiveness for ‘The Stranger Who Shot Me’
Slovakia's Prime Minister Robert Fico walks during the European Council summit at the EU headquarters in Brussels, Belgium, on April 18, 2024. (Kenzo Tribouillard/AFP via Getty Images)

Slovakian Prime Minister Robert Fico spoke publicly for the first time after surviving an assassination attempt in the central Slovak town of Handlova on May 15.

In a video posted on Facebook, the 59-year-old thanked the staff at Roosevelt Hospital in Banska Bystrica for saving his life and said he hoped to be back at work starting next month.

“It’s time for me to make the first move, and that is forgiveness,” Mr. Fico said. “I feel no hatred towards the stranger who shot me.”

The prime minister said he was not seeking any legal action against his assailant.

“In the end, it is evident that he was only a messenger of evil and political hatred, which the politically unsuccessful and frustrated opposition in Slovakia has been fostering to unmanageable proportions.”

NTD Photo
Rescue workers take Slovak Prime Minister Robert Fico, who was shot and injured, to a hospital in the town of Banska Bystrica, central Slovakia, on May 15, 2024. (Jan Kroslak/TASR via AP)

The Internationally Unpopular PM

Mr. Fico was elected for the third time non-consecutively as Slovakia’s prime minister in October last year, after running a campaign that criticized Western support for the war in Ukraine—a stance that inevitably got him branded an ally of Russian President Vladimir Putin.

The prime minister mentioned “major democracies” have been displeased with his political decisions throughout his long career, mentioning specifically his refusal to bomb Belgrade during the Kosovo war; his decision to withdraw troops from Iraq; his blocking the EU’s mandatory migrant quotas; his rejection of the proposal to abolish the right of veto for EU member states; and, last but not least, his refusal to provide military aid to Ukraine.

“I have always relied on the basic political right to a different opinion, and I principally disagree with the single correct opinion policy that some major Western democracies are aggressively promoting today,” Mr. Fico said.

He said that the international demand of uniformity of opinion reached an extreme when Russia invaded Ukraine. According to Mr. Fico, the only tolerated opinion within EU and NATO is that the war in Ukraine “must continue at any cost in order to weaken the Russian Federation.”

“Anyone who does not identify with this single mandatory opinion is immediately labeled as a Russian agent, and internationally politically marginalized,” he said. “It’s a cruel observation, but the right to a different opinion has ceased to exist in the EU.”

The flags of the European Union’s member countries are displayed at the European Parliament in Strasbourg, France, on Feb. 7, 2024. (Frederick Florin/AFP via Getty Images)

Opposition Antagonism

Mr. Fico said that the previous government, which ruled from 2020 to 2023, fully submitted to international demands in spite of national interests, including shipping the country’s military stockpiles to Ukraine, compromising national defense capabilities.

In return for complying with international demands, “the Slovakian government could do as it pleased,” Mr. Fico continued. He reproached the EU and other Western countries for remaining indifferent over the prior government’s alleged legal abuses aimed at eliminating political opposition.

“No one, neither in the EU nor from the representatives of large individual Western countries, even inquired about the death of the lawyer Krivocenko, General Lucansky, and about the demonstrably manipulated criminal proceedings,” he said.

According to Mr. Fico, the opposition’s attacks against elected officials continued after the election—without a word of scrutiny from the media, the EU, and NATO.

“Violent and hateful excesses against legitimate governmental power are tolerated at the international level without any comment.”

NTD did not get an immediate reply from EU officials regarding these allegations.

Mr. Fico said he had been fearing for a while that it was “only a matter of time” before the cultivated political hatred would have lethal consequences.

“I spoke about it publicly in the media and at press conferences, I said it to all EU and NATO ambassadors in Slovakia.”

Emergency workers walk among debris
Amid the Russian invasion of Ukraine, emergency workers walk among debris in front of a residential building damaged as a result of a missile attack in Kharkiv, on May 14, 2024. (Roman Pilipey/AFP via Getty Images)

Future Prospects

Still, the recovering prime minister believed some good may come of the assassination attempt on his life, which was condemned by the United States, the EU, and international leaders.

“People were allowed to see with their own eyes what horrors can happen when one is unable to respect and democratically compete with a different opinion,” Mr. Fico said, although he feared more victims will fall if the situation continues as it is now.

“The opposition will have to think about this.”

He again thanked the hospital staff that saved his life and expressed his gratitude for the many expressions of support.

“I believe that society will calm down and that we will meet soon in a meaningful and peaceful manner. All the best and let’s keep our fingers crossed.”

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