Robert Fico, the leader of Slovakia’s left-wing Smer party, has said that he would rather see his outfit thrown out of the European Parliament’s Socialist (S&D) group than support Ukraine in its struggle against Russia.
Fico’s comments come after Smer emerged victorious in Slovakia’s general election on September 30, his stance, accused of being pro-Russian seemingly not putting off the electorate.
Since winning, Fico has become the centre of criticism in Brussels, with the head of the Party of European Socialists (PES) – under which the S&D group sits – threatening to exorcise Smer from the organisation if it does not change its stance.
“PES supports Ukraine and we expect our member parties to continue supporting Ukraine,” party chairman Stefan Löfven said, adding that if Fico’s “rhetoric continues, and starts to be implemented in a government”, he would work to see Smer expelled.
The Smer leader has not taken kindly to the remarks, accusing Löfven of “blackmail” and of speaking in a way that was “undemocratic and authoritarian”.
“Either we say what the USA wants, or they’ll expel us,” he said. “The PES chairman scrupulously adheres to the philosophy that who is for peace is a warmonger and who is in favour of war and killing is a peace activist.”
He added that his party had no intention of backing down on its alleged anti-Ukraine stance, accusing the rest of PES of not taking a true left-wing approach to the issue.
“If our exclusion from the international party is to be a price for pursuing a genuine left-wing agenda in Slovakia and voicing sovereign opinions, we are prepared to pay such a price,” he added.
The former Slovak PM and leader of the SMER party Robert Fico scored an election victory against the findings of an exit poll which had put him behind on Saturday evening. https://t.co/T3nHg4WkQd
— Brussels Signal (@brusselssignal) October 1, 2023
The S&D group’s political rivals have been making hay out of the fiasco, with the leader of the EPP Manfred Weber coming out to condemn the man earlier in the week starting October 2.
Weber compared Fico to Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán, whose Fidesz party ended up being booted from the German politician’s political group for being too right-wing.
“Whenever we listen to Fico it sounds like Orbán,” the EPP boss said, insisting that the Socialists should now be looking to get rid of Fico in the same way.
“What I am asking is a clarification process on the Socialists’ side, what are they doing now with their own family member?”
President of the European Council Charles Michel is optimistic about Ukraine’s European Union prospects and said it could join the bloc in seven years. https://t.co/HhM9J2MR3Q
— Brussels Signal (@brusselssignal) October 4, 2023