Fico issues conditions for cabinet cooperation

OPPOSITION Smer leader Robert Fico, who won the June 17 elections and is now trying to form a government, has revealed the conditions under which his party will agree to work with any potential partners.

Fico said on June 20 that his party would insist on bringing in a lower VAT band, increasing tax deductions for low-income earners or introducing graduated taxation, and slapping higher taxes on banks, monopolies and financial institutions. He said he would not work with any party that did not agree to these conditions.

The Smer leader also issued a public promise that the rights of Slovakia’s minorities would continue to be respected even if the far-right Slovak National Party became part of the government.

Fico repeated that he would respect the January 1, 2009 deadline that has been set for adopting the euro currency. "Our duty is to observe the Maastricht criteria [for adopting the euro]", he said.

However, he conceded that if adopting the euro meant harming people’s interests, he would be in favour of pushing back the deadline.

Asked how he would handle the problems that might arise if he formed a government with the SNS and Vladimír Mečiar’s HZDS, Fico said “we’ll figure out how to cross that river when we come to it.”

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