Pellegrini Bemoans Division of Slovak Society in New Year Speech

Prime Minister Peter Pellegrini. (Photo by TASR)

Bratislava, January 1 (TASR) – Slovakia experienced a “test of democratic maturity” in 2018, said Prime Minister Peter Pellegrini (Smer-SD) in his New Year speech on Tuesday, at the same time pointing to what he described as division in society and the need for cooperation in order to deal with future challenges.

Pellegrini pointed to the murders of investigative journalist Jan Kuciak and his fiancée Martina Kusnirova in February of last year, stating that “mature statesmanlike decisions” were made in the wake of the double murder to “return political stability to Slovakia”.

The prime minister, who took up office after the resignation of Robert Fico (Smer-SD) a few weeks after the murders, lamented that the tragedy has produced division in society and that it’s become “almost impossible to find themes in some areas that would connect us”.

“The ability to name success in a single language has been lost,” said Pellegrini, going on to warn against what he called the destruction of public trust in the state, a situation that, according to him, nurtures extremism.

The prime minister stressed that Slovakia is currently experiencing its best times ever in economic terms, with the lowest unemployment rate since the country gained independence 26 years ago (5 percent) and a balanced state budget. He went on to highlight some of the Government’s new social measures, including free lunches for schoolchildren, an increase in the salaries of civil servants by 10 percent as of January, and investments in health care. He said that the Government is also preparing increases to parental benefits and an extension of maternity leave as part of a larger effort to make Slovakia a social, friendly and secure state.