Pro-Russian Minister of Culture, Defence Minister with Issues, Neutral Ministry of Foreign Affairs: Everything About Slovakia's New Government

Thursday, 19 October 2023

Slovakia has begun forming its new government based on a pro-Russian coalition.

Even though the leader of Smer-SD and Prime Minister candidate, Robert Fico, has already submitted a list of future ministers to President Zuzana Čaputová, only the surnames of some of them have been officially announced.

The coalition of Smer-SD, Voice of Peter Pellegrini and the Slovak National Party (SNP) of Andrej Danko, have named their candidates. There are some controversial figures.

You can read more in the article by Yurii Panchenko, the EuroPravda editor – Slovakia Prepares for pro-Russian Government: What to Expect from New Leadership of Ukraine's Neighbouring Country.

According to the coalition agreement signed by Smer-SD, Voice, and SNP, the first two parties will receive seven ministerial portfolios each, while the third party will only have three.

Additionally, according to the agreement, Robert Fico is set to become the prime minister, and Peter Pellegrini will be the Speaker.

However, Alexander Duleba, an analyst from the Slovak Foreign Policy Association (SFPA), interprets this agreement as more complex.

"By forming this coalition, Pellegrini agreed to the dissolution of his party. Voice can now be forgotten – they will be fully integrated into Smer-SD, from which they withdrew three years ago. Instead, Pellegrini will receive a personal bonus. He will be the sole candidate from the new coalition in the presidential elections, which will take place early next year," he explains.

Voice and SNP have already presented their ministerial candidates. While there are no particular issues with the candidates from Voice, the candidates from the Danko's party raise concerns.

For example, the Minister of Culture in Slovakia could be one of the country's most prominent pro-Russian propagandists.

However, the most crucial ministerial positions (at least for Ukraine) went to the Smer-SD quota. However, Fico has not yet disclosed his nominees.

Crucially important will be who Fico nominates for the position of foreign affairs minister.

Initially, there was information about the possible return of Miroslav Lajcak to the ministerial position (probably the best option for Ukraine).

Then Slovak media reported that Marek Echtok, a former Slovak ambassador to France and son-in-law of Fico's right-hand man Vladimir Fajčák, might become the head of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

However, it later became clear that the position of foreign affairs minister was the only one left unfilled in President Čaputová's list. According to the media, this means that Fico will hold both the positions of prime minister and foreign affairs minister for a certain period.

However, the "surprises" from Fico didn't end there.

The position of the Defence Minister (also very important for Ukraine) is being considered for Robert Kaliňák. He is an extremely toxic figure against whom several criminal cases are currently open.

This toxicity allows President Čaputová to intervene in the situation.

A source close to the President of Slovakia notes that active negotiations are underway to remove the controversial figures. This is why both Fico and Čaputová are avoiding comments on future ministers.

No matter how much the President cleans up the government, it is likely to be different from the previous one, which was pro-European. As one of the first steps of the new government, it announced the creation of a law to regulate the work of non-governmental organisations, similar to how the third sector is dealt with in Russia and Hungary.

This best characterises what to expect from the new government, whether controversial ministers are included or not.

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