Fico: Smer Isn’t One-use Party, It Won’t Let Be Intimidated

Smer-SD chairman Robert Fico (stock photo by TASR)

Casta-Papiernicka, April 26 (TASR) – The main governing party Smer-SD isn’t for one use, as has been evident from the fact that it has managed to overcome many crises and come back on the scene, former prime minister and party chairman Robert Fico said at a Smer-SD working congress in Casta-Papiernicka (Bratislava region) on Thursday evening.

Fico in his speech repeatedly lambasted the media, Opposition, civic activists and President Andrej Kiska.

“We aren’t going away. We’ll mobilise and we won’t let be intimidated. We’ll fight for pushing our social views through. We won’t allow any amateurs with their naive economic notions to endanger the social standing of the public. We’re ready with our social policies to fight again for life and decent prospects for Slovak people,” said Fico.

The former prime minister announced salary hikes in the public sector in the next two years.

“We want to increase significantly the minimum wage, salaries in the public sector, and salaries of teachers and nurses. We represent a social alternative for Slovakia and we guarantee that [Slovakia] will approach the EU average in terms of living standards,” said Fico, adding that he wants to get Slovakia to 85 percent of the EU average by the end of 2020, while the country stands at 78-79 percent at the moment.

The former three-times prime minister recalled several measures introduced by his governments, including increases in the minimum wage and free rail travelling for students and pensioners, apart from achievements in notable reductions in unemployment (5.55 percent at the moment).

Commenting on his resignation as prime minister after public protests following the murders of journalist Jan Kuciak and his girlfriend, Fico said that it wasn’t a display of weakness, but rather responsibility towards fellow-coalition party Most-Hid. It was considering to leave the Government, a move that would have resulted in an early general election and chaos orchestrated by Opposition leaders Richard Sulik (SaS), Igor Matovic (OLaNO) and Boris Kollar (We Are Family), said Fico, who was immediately rewarded by an applause.

Fico further said that he fully trusts his successor as prime minister Peter Pellegrini. “Peter has my full trust and he can fully focus on the agenda of prime minister,” said Fico, adding that he’ll devote himself to the running of the party and go among people to listen to their problems.

The former prime minister devoted a large part of his speech to criticism of the media, Opposition, President Kiska and civic activists. “I reject a situation with three activists attempting to dictate nominations for interior minister to the strongest party,” said Fico, slamming further Kiska for what he viewed as the latter’s undue interference with the setting up of Pellegrini’s Government.

Kiska in March refused to appoint Pellegrini’s first nomination for interior minister, Jozef Raz. He later accepted the nomination of Tomas Drucker, a hitherto health minister, who stepped down as interior minister one month later, however, eventually to be replaced by former minister Robert Kalinak’s associate Denisa Sakova. Kalinak resigned along with Fico during the government crisis following mass rallies in March.