Assassination bid on Slovak PM sends shock waves - GulfToday

Assassination bid on Slovak PM sends shock waves

A person is detained after shooting incident of Slovak PM Robert Fico. Reuters

A person is detained after shooting incident of Slovak PM Robert Fico. Reuters

Slovakia Prime Minister Robert Fico, who was shot at four times by a man on Wednesday, is reported to be critical but stable by the doctors. Slovakia and the rest of Europe have been numbed by the assassination bid on an elected political leader, something that has not happened in Europe for a long time.

Fico had undergone a five-hour surgery at the F.D. Roosevelt University Hospital at Banska Bystrica. President-elect and Fico’s political ally Peter Pellegrini, who visited Fico at the hospital said, “He is able to speak but only a few sentences and then he is truly tired because he is on some medication.”

But Fico’s political colleagues are not sure whether Fico would be able to recover fully from the attack. Pellegrini had also appealed for the European Parliament election campaign to be stopped as Slovakia faces a serious situation, and that it is time for national unity and consensus. Leaders, including US President Joe Biden and Russian President Vladimir Putin, condemned the attack on Fico.

Interior Minister Matus Sutaj Estok said that the man who attacked Fico was a “lone wolf” and he had no connection with any organisation. His name has not been revealed but according to the police the 71-year-old was a security guard at a shopping mall and he has published three books of poetry. And he is a critic of the government, for its Ukraine policy, the plan to dismantle the office of special prosecutor meant to probe corruption cases in high places, and the bid to reform the public broadcaster. Interior Minister Estok said, “This is a lone wolf who had radicalised himself in the latest period after the presidential election (in April).”

It is to be remembered that Fico is a left-of-centre politician, who had served as prime minister and also sat in the opposition before winning the election to be prime minister again. He is also seen as being soft on Russia. He has called for an end to sanctions against Russia and he wanted a halt to supply of arms to Ukraine.

Elections in east Europeans countries in the last three decades have brought in political parties of different ideological hues into power. There have been the fiercely nationalist parties, the parties with left leanings and the pro-West parties favouring liberal democratic culture with an emphasis on human rights. The differences between the political parties have been sharp, and street protests, strikes have been a common sight. But there has been no anarchic violence. No one resorted to violence to express disagreement. But there is serious concern all over Europe that there is simmering discontent in the European countries, and that societies are getting polarised.

There is an invisible dividing line between the Western European states and the East European states. The East European countries are not willing to reconcile with the idea of meeting the liberal democratic norms of Western Europe which underlie the European Union. The East European countries appreciate the economic advantages of the EU but they are not willing to yield to the Western style of individual freedoms, and also surrender national sovereignty to the EU bureaucrats at Brussels.

It is one of the reasons that the United Kingdom opted to leave EU. This is indeed a serious fault-line, and it would be necessary for the EU advocates to show lesser zeal in spreading their democratic agenda. The East European countries are imbibing democratic values but they cannot be pushed around and they cannot be told to fall in line. The clash of political cultures on the two sides needs to be resolved with tact and subtlety. Neither side should rock the boat because the economic benefits of EU are too precious to be thrown away.

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