Slovak Prime Minister Robert Fico in critical condition after assassination attempt

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16th May 2024 – (Bratislava) Slovak Prime Minister Robert Fico remains in critical condition and is undergoing surgery following an assassination attempt, announced Slovak Deputy Prime Minister and Defence Minister Robert Kalinak on Wednesday evening.

The attack, classified as an assassination, involved a gunman who fired five shots, according to Slovak Interior Minister Matus Sutaj Estok. He confirmed that the attack was “politically motivated.”

The incident occurred on Wednesday afternoon after Fico attended a government meeting in Handlova, a town located approximately 150 km northeast of the capital. The 71-year-old suspect was apprehended at the scene, and the area in front of the Culture House in Handlova has been cordoned off by the police.

Following the shooting, both domestic and international politicians expressed condemnation of the attack.

Slovak president-elect Peter Pellegrini, set to assume office in June, described the incident as an unprecedented threat to Slovak democracy. Taking to social media, Pellegrini expressed his horror at the consequences that hatred towards differing political opinions can bring. He emphasised the importance of democratic and legal means to express disagreement in Slovakia, warning against resorting to violence, which undermines three decades of progress.

Slovak President Zuzana Caputova conveyed her shock at the “horrific and malicious” attack, stressing that it targeted not only an individual but also the principles of democracy.

Speaking at a press briefing in Parliament, Parliamentary Vice-Chair Peter Ziga, who has temporarily assumed the powers of the House chair, echoed these sentiments. He condemned the armed attack, seeing it as an assault on the core values of Slovak democracy. Ziga emphasised the need to resolve political conflicts through dialogue and denounced the use of violence in politics.

The international community also expressed its outrage over the incident. UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres strongly condemned the “shocking attack” against the Slovak prime minister, as stated by his office on Wednesday. Secretary-General of NATO Jens Stoltenberg expressed his shock and dismay at the shooting.

Ursula von der Leyen, President of the European Commission, declared that such acts of violence have no place in society and undermine democracy, which she referred to as our most precious common good. European Council President Charles Michel echoed her sentiments, emphasising that violence and attacks can never be justified.

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz condemned the “cowardly attack,” emphasising that violence should have no place in European politics. French President Emmanuel Macron expressed his shock at the shooting and strongly denounced it. Latvian President Edgars Rinkevics asserted that violence is entirely unacceptable, regardless of political or other differences.