Week in Slovakia: PM speaks up

Week in Slovakia: PM speaks up

1. EU countries elect their representatives in the European Parliament. 2. Prime Minister Robert Fico addresses the public for the first time since the assassination attempt 3. Slovakia hit by storms and rising level of the Danube.

On Thursday, the Netherlands was the first EU member country to hold European elections, on Friday, Ireland and Czech Republic followed. By Sunday, the election will have been held in every single EU member state. Slovakia holds the election today, on Saturday and elects 15 Members of the European Parliament, one more than in the previous years. The results will be available on Sunday evening.

On Wednesday, Prime Minister Robert Fico addressed the Slovak citizens for the first time since the assassination attempt in Handlová on May 15. He posted a 14-minute video on his social media, in which he praised the medical team of doctors in the hospital where he was treated, calling the attacker the messenger of evil and blaming the opposition media and NGOs for the attack. The opposition has refused this and criticised the PM for his words.

Fico said he forgives the attacker and does not plan to pursue any legal action against him. The Prime Minister announced that he could return to the office by the end of June.

The coalition is preparing several legislative measures in reaction to the incident. Upcoming security measures reacting to the assassination attempt should be the topic of the government session next week, the Interior Minister announced.

Police have intercepted information about a possible attack on the Rainbow Pride that will be organised in Bratislava in late July. According to Interior Minister, the security forces are ready to ensure the security of the event.

This week, Slovakia saw warnings against storms, with firefighters having to react to several cases in the eastern part of Slovakia that was hit by an intense supercell thunderstorm. At the same time, torrential rain and strong winds occurred, causing some damage locally. The level of the Danube River also rose, leading to restrictions for ships. As of Friday morning, the level is slowly decreasing, but meteorologists warn that heavy rains in German can cause further rising of the level.

Employees of the private TV broadcaster Markíza will not enter into a strike, but they remain on strike alert. The management of the broadcaster has accepted all demands in the end. However, it was preceded by a conflict after the management shared differing information internally and with the media. Employees of the broadcaster went on strike alert after the management cancelled a popular political discussion programme after its host criticised management and its attempt to censor media during live broadcasts. Employees of the public service broadcaster RTVS will go on a warning strike on Monday.

The coalition parties have still not agreed on the name of the new chair of the parliament. Andrej Danko, the head of the smallest coalition party is interested in the position and supported by the Smer-SD party, according to Hlas-SD party, the position of the parliamentary chair belongs to them, as was agreed after the election last autumn. The decision should be made next week.

On Thursday, President Zuzana Čaputová attended the celebrations of 80th anniversary of the Normandy landings in France, the D-Day, what was the largest air, airborne and naval invasion in history, one of the turning points in the World War II that helped defeat Nazi Germany. One of the fallen soldiers in this operation was of Slovak descent.

Slovakia is the only member state of the World Health Organization that did not adopt the package of revised articles of the International Health Regulations. The member states of the WHO at the World Health Assembly in Geneva adopted the revised package without a vote. According to the Health Ministry, there was not enough time to study the changes adopted during the meeting in detail.

Slovakia will agree with the proposal by NATO Secretary-General to have the allies commit to provide Ukraine with at least €40 billion annually, on one condition, says Foreign Minister Juraj Blanár. The condition is that the money can be used also for non-lethal systems, like de-mining. The Foreign Minister said after the end of the informal meeting of NATO foreign ministers last week.

Internationally prosecuted Slovak extremist Daniel Bombic, known online under the nickname Danny Kollar, has been banned permanently on his YouTube channel losing, almost 80 000 subscribers, but also a source of income. Daniel Bombic faces prosecution in the Slovak Republic for extremism, dangerous persecution, defamation and online harassment. Well-known politicians have appeared on his channel, including Interior Minister Matúš Šutaj Eštok.

Education Minister Tomas Drucker visited the headquarters of Meta during his foreign trip to the United States, with an eye towards bolstering social networks security and protection of children and students in the digital domain, Representatives of the ministry and Meta agreed on closer cooperation and the forming of a working group slated to meet in Bratislava.

The Supreme Audit Office warns that Slovakia draws funds from the recovery plan insufficiently, having so far spent only 7 percent of the total resource. It recommends better management. If Slovakia fails to use the funds, it will lose them. The Health Ministry is the worst performer.

Slovakia owes over 100 million euros to suppliers of medical supplies. Many companies are therefore considering leaving the Slovak market, which could negatively affect planned operations, making the waiting times even longer. The European Commission has repeatedly called on Slovakia to respect the directive on combating late payments. It eventually sued Slovakia for breaching it. The Health Ministry reacted by sending hospitals financial aid.

The number of unemployed people fell significantly in the first quarter of 2024. Seven regions in the Slovak Republic recorded a year-on-year decrease in unemployment, the only exception being the Bratislava Region. The unemployment rate has reached a historical minimum since 1994. At the same time, the average nominal monthly salary in Slovakia grew by 5.6 percent year-on-year, adjusted to inflation, amounting to almost 1,500 euros.

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Martin Bednárik

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