President’s Office Refutes SNS Head Danko’s Claims regarding Pope’s Visit

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SNS leader Andrej Danko (photo by TASR)

Bratislava, August 3 (TASR) – The President’s Office on Tuesday objected to “misleading” claims made by head of the extra-parliamentary Slovak National Party (SNS) Andrej Danko, who claims in a video posted on Facebook that President Zuzana Caputova had proposed to Pope Francis to stop at the notoriously poor Roma borough of Lunik IX in Kosice during his upcoming visit to Slovakia.

“The President’s Office has participated in the preparation of the Pope’s visit, but it’s been only responsible for the agenda concerning his visit to the Presidential Palace, where the official welcoming ceremony, as well as his meeting with political, diplomatic and other figures are set to take place,” explained the president’s spokesman Martin Strizinec.

According to the spokesman, it’s the Episcopal Conference of Slovakia and the Holy See who are responsible for the programme of Pope Francis’ four-day visit to the country. As for the fact that the Pope is set to pay a visit to Lunik IX borough, Strizinec noted that Pope Francis has been known from the beginning of his pontificate to routinely visit the peripheries of cities and meet people who live there.

“That’s why he decided to visit the Kosice borough of Lunik IX, where he will meet the local Roma community and appreciate the activities of the local Salesians, who’ve been working there for a long time and have intimate knowledge of the everyday problems of local inhabitants,” said Strizinec.

At the same time, the spokesman, on behalf of the President’s Office, expressed his disappointment with the fact that the noble intention of the Holy Father is being misused in a political battle for publicity and, moreover, to mislead and manipulate public opinion.

In the video on Facebook, Danko claims that it was Caputova who included the stop at Lunik IX on the Pope’s itinerary, criticising her for choosing this particular destination instead of sites featuring Slovak traditions and historical values. In his opinion, the President aims to show him “problems” and politically misuse the matter.

Pope Francis is set to visit Slovakia on September 12-15. Besides Bratislava, he’ll also visit Kosice, Presov and Sastin-Straze (Trnava region).