Prime Minister Fico Won’t Okay Ratification of Istanbul Convention

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Smer-SD chairman Robert Fico. (Stock photo by TASR)

Bratislava, February 22 (TASR) – Prime Minister Robert Fico (Smer-SD) won’t grant his consent for the Government to ratify the Council of Europe Convention on preventing and combating violence against women and domestic violence if there are obvious and legitimate discrepancies between the content of the Istanbul Convention and Slovakia’s constitutional definition of marriage as a union between a man and a woman, TASR learnt on Thursday.

Fico also claimed on Thursday that this is a joint stance held by all three parties in the governing coalition.

“As long as I’m the prime minister and concerns regarding the interpretation of controversial provisions of the Istanbul Convention aren’t addressed, as long as full accord of the provisions of the Istanbul Convention – in particular regarding the definition of marriage as a union between a man and woman – isn’t achieved, I will never give consent to submit this agreement for ratification. Let me repeat this: never ever,” said Fico at a press briefing held at the Government Office.

Fico added that he accepts a commitment to implement every single useful provision of the Istanbul Convention that isn’t yet anchored in Slovak domestic law. “As 98-99 percent of the convention’s provisions are useful, I also accept a commitment to compare these provisions with Slovak law, and if we feel that Slovak legal practice is less suitable than the international one, we’ll instantly pass all the necessary and relevant legislative changes to ensure that the protection of women, as far as violence, abuse and terrorising goes, will be principally in harmony with the European level,” he said.

Slovakia joined the Istanbul Convention in 2011 under the government of Iveta Radicova (2010-12), but it hasn’t ratified it yet. According to Fico, the Government maintains the right not to ratify. He added that Europe can use the agreement to defend itself from the danger posed by migration, but no measures flying in the face of people’s sensibilities and beliefs in individual member states can be passed.

Fico pointed out that the coalition finds unacceptable provisions dealing with stereotypes and gender equality in the context of rooting out the so-called traditional roles of men and women in the family. “This invites concerns. We can’t pass something at the international level that would be in violation of the Slovak Constitution,” he declared.