epa10540742 Slovakia's Prime Minister Eduard Heger speaks at a press conference at the end of an EU Summit in Brussels, Belgium, 24 March 2023 EPA-EFE/OLIVIER HOSLET


Prime Minister of Slovakia steps down amid EU subsidy scandal


Eduard Heger has stepped down as prime minister of Slovakia following an EU funding scandal.

Heger was serving as Slovakia’s caretaker prime minister but was left with few options after agriculture minister Samuel Vlčan was forced out as the result of a scandal involving €1.4 million euro in EU subsidies received by his recycling company.

The EU funds granted to Vlčan’s company, Reko Recycling, were destined for landfill revitalisation. The subsidy decision was made by the government’s environment ministry, which claimed it did not know who the company belonged to.

The National Crime Agency is reported top be looking into the matter.

The scandal also led to the resignation of foreign minister Rastislav Káčer.

Slovakia has been in political turmoil for a while, and Heger was leading an interim government after his own four-party coalition collapsed because of infighting in December last year. Despite this, Heger was put in charge of a caretaker administration until the elections.

A technical government is die to be appointed on May 15. This will be headed by Ludovit Odor, the deputy head of National Bank of Slovakia. In September, parliamentary elections will be held.

Polls indicate that the political crisis has benefited the pro-Russia Socialist Smer party under the leadership of Robert Fico. The latest Ipsos poll from April puts Smer ahead, with almost 17 per cent of the votes. Hlas, a rival socialist party with an ambivalent stance on Russia, follows with 16,2 per cent. Eduard Heger’s new centre-right party, Demokrati is polling at 3,6 per cent.

survey in September showed the majority of people in Slovakia would welcome a military victory of Russia. Slovakia has long been one of the most pro-Russian countries in the EU, alongside Bulgaria.

Smer party leader Robert Fico is known for his pro-Russian stances. Fico blames high inflation on sanctions against Russia. Russia was the main supplier of gas and oil to Slovakia before the war.

Fico claims that Slovakian sovereignty is being threatened by pressure from Nato and the EU to support Ukraine.

Speaking before Heger’s announcement, Fico had said that he would end Slovakia’s arms supply to Ukraine if elected to lead the next government.

Fico was prime minister in the past, but had to resign in 2018 amid nationwide anti-corruption protests, triggered by the murder of a couple, a journalist and his fiancée.