Why pro-Russian Fico changed his stance on Ukraine

Friday, 12 April 2024 —

On 11 April, Slovakia's Prime Minister Robert Fico made several statements friendly towards Ukraine following the Ukrainian-Slovak intergovernmental consultations.

Ukraine has heard similar words from many foreign leaders.

This time though they came from a politician known for his anti-Ukrainian and pro-Russian statements.

Read more about the shift in tone from openly pro-Russian Slovakia's leader towards Ukraine and the reasons why in the article by Yurii Panchenko, a European Pravda's editor – Fico chooses "peace" with Ukraine: How agreement with Slovakia was achieved and how long it will last.


It has been the second consultations between the heads of the Ukrainian and Slovak governments since last year's change of power in Slovakia.

The first meeting took place in Uzhgorod on 24 January. Back then, it looked like Fico deliberately tried to disrupt the meeting.

It had been preceded by his openly anti-Ukrainian statements.

Despite such unfavourable starting conditions, the first round of negotiations went quite constructively. As European Pravda's sources in the negotiating group from the Ukrainian side noted, Fico directly acknowledged at the closed part of the negotiations that his scandalous statements were addressed to the domestic audience, while he himself was ready for constructive relations.

However, ignoring the anti-Ukrainian outbursts of the Slovak government was increasingly difficult.

The presidential elections in Slovakia ended on 6 April. The Ukrainian issue was key in the propaganda of pro-government candidate Peter Pellegrini between the first and second rounds.

The end of the electoral cycle in Slovakia gave hope for some progress in negotiations, which made the current consultations, held just five days after the elections, important.

The meeting on 11 April to some extent justified these expectations.

Among the agreements reached are a new international railroad route between Kyiv and Košice by the end of the year and the development of the Chop – Čierna nad Tisou cross-border railway route.

According to the Ukrainian prime minister, the Slovak government is ready to assist Ukraine in demining.

Equally important was the tone of Fico's statements.

"Slovakia wants to be a good, friendly neighbour to Ukraine. We want to show solidarity with you in the misfortune that you are fighting," he said, without naming the reason for this "misfortune."

Also, according to him, Slovakia will participate in the inauguration Summit for Peace in Switzerland.

And as for Ukraine's EU accession, Slovakia will not create obstacles to it.

The overall impression of his statements has turned out to be quite positive.

What was the reason for such a shift in the Slovak stance?

Firstly, the electoral cycle has ended. Secondly, the Slovak prime minister faces very difficult negotiations with the European Commission, related to Bratislava's plans to adopt highly controversial amendments to laws on public broadcasting and NGOs.

"An expected conflict with European institutions and the possible freezing of financial assistance are at stake," says Alexander Duleba, an expert at the Slovak Foreign Policy Association.

Robert Fico needs to avoid creating additional points of tension, including Ukraine. So, for some time, Bratislava will be interested in good (at least, constructive) relations with Kyiv.

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