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Pro-Kremlin Party Victory in Slovakia Elections Raises Concerns for EU Unity on Ukraine
In a surprising election outcome, Slovakia's pro-Kremlin SMER party led by Robert Fico won, raising concerns about EU unity on Ukraine and implications for the Kosovo-Serbia dialogue.
Bratislava, Slovakia, THE FRONTLINER - In a surprising turn of events, Slovakia's pro-Kremlin party, the populist SMER, led by the former Prime Minister Robert Fico, emerged as the winner of the recent elections, securing 22.9% of the vote, according to preliminary results released by Slovakia's Statistical Office. The outcome, which exceeded expectations, has significant implications for Slovakia's foreign policy, particularly concerning its stance on Ukraine and its relationship with the European Union (EU).
Fico's SMER party's victory has raised concerns within the EU and NATO due to his pro-Russia sentiments, potentially challenging the unity in Ukraine. The liberal and pro-Ukrainian Progressive Slovakia (PS) party won 17.9% of the vote, while the moderate-left Hlas party, led by a former SMER member, secured 14.7%, positioning itself as a potential kingmaker in the coalition negotiations.
Slovak President Zuzana Čaputová stated before the elections that she would invite the leader of the strongest party, Fico, to form the government, indicating the possibility of SMER returning to power. Fico's victory is expected to reshape Slovakia's foreign policy, particularly in the context of its support for Ukraine and its relationship with the EU and NATO.
Notably, Fico's victory comes against the backdrop of concerns over disinformation and the influence of social media, with the European Commission's top digital affairs official, Věra Jourová, labelling the election as a "test case" for countering Russian propaganda in Slovakia.
The implications of Fico's return to power are significant. Slovakia, a member of both NATO and the EU, has been a staunch supporter of Ukraine, donating military equipment and advocating for tough EU sanctions against Russia. However, Fico, known for his close ties with Hungary's Prime Minister Viktor Orbán, has been critical of the EU and blamed "Ukrainian Nazis and fascists" for provoking Russia's President Vladimir Putin, echoing the false narrative used by Putin to justify his invasion of Ukraine.
Of particular concern is Fico's potential collaboration with Orbán, which could lead to joint efforts aimed at creating obstacles for the EU in matters related to Ukraine and other policies. Additionally, if Poland's Law and Justice party wins its third term in the upcoming Polish parliamentary elections, this alignment of EU troublemakers could further challenge EU unity.
Furthermore, Fico's victory has implications for the ongoing Kosovo-Serbia dialogue, sponsored by the EU and led by the EU Envoy Miroslav Lajcak, who himself belongs to Fico's pro-Russian SMER party. This alignment raises questions about the EU's ability to mediate effectively in the region, given the potential influence of a party with strong pro-Kremlin sentiments.
The election outcome has also highlighted divisions within Slovak society, with polls indicating that a significant portion of the population shares Fico's pro-Russia sentiments and scepticism towards the United States, Slovakia's long-term ally. These sentiments could further complicate Slovakia's foreign relations and cooperation within international alliances.
As coalition negotiations unfold in the coming weeks, Slovakia's direction in foreign policy, particularly concerning Ukraine and its relationship with the EU and NATO, remains uncertain. The international community closely watches these developments, aware of the potential ramifications for regional stability and EU unity on critical issues such as the conflict in Ukraine.