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SMER’S ROBERT FICO COMMENTS ON RADIČOVÁ’S FIRST YEAR

“Ready for the elections as never before”

“REGULATION policy wouldn’t allow such a rise in prices and there wouldn’t be such an inflation rate,” said Robert Fico, former prime minister and leader of Smer, the biggest opposition party, in an interview with the Sme daily exactly one year after the current cabinet of Iveta Radičová took power, published by the newspaper on July 9.

“REGULATION policy wouldn’t allow such a rise in prices and there wouldn’t be such an inflation rate,” said Robert Fico, former prime minister and leader of Smer, the biggest opposition party, in an interview with the Sme daily exactly one year after the current cabinet of Iveta Radičová took power, published by the newspaper on July 9.

When comparing his term as prime minister to that of Radičová, Fico said that despite the economic and financial crisis his government was able to secure the highest economic growth and that growth was still very high when he passed the government of the country to Radičová.

“This government, the best one and the most beautiful one according to you [Sme], in fact has [resulted in] a drop in real wages,” Fico charged. “That’s the first conclusion. The second conclusion is that this government doesn’t pay any attention to rising prices at all.”

Fico also argued that the rising popularity of Smer in recent polls is evidence that his policies were successful. He said there was no other political party in Europe that had a level of 29-percent support when he was in office and that after a four-year rule including the period of the economic crisis and even with having “complicated partners” the party’s popularity has gone up by 5 percentage points.

“This is the real picture of Smer’s politics,” Fico told Sme. “You can talk about disappointment in relation to SNS [the Slovak National Party] and HZDS [the Movement for a Democratic Slovakia] but not to Smer.”

Fico refused to make clear in the interview how his party’s MPs will vote on a second loan to Greece but did repeat his previous statement that his party will vote in favour only if there is a consensus among all the political parties. The governing coalition has been unable to reach an internal agreement on its approach to a second loan to Greece because one of its members, Freedom and Solidarity (SaS) party, has refused its support.

“There are politicians who tried to abuse the topic of Greece before the elections and also afterwards,” Fico said. “These same people are today fighting with each other, some say yes and some say no. We know what the euro is about, we introduced it. We know how important it is for Slovakia and how important it is to protect Slovakia in the European space. Smer only repeats one thing – it will not solve Radičová’s problem.”

Fico stated that the recent election of Jozef Čentéš as general prosecutor was not based on an appropriate secret ballot, as parliament voted using rules in a law which had been suspended by the Constitutional Court, adding that he believes it was a flagrant infringement and ignorance of the Constitutional Court’s decision.

“The ruling coalition has elected its political nominee who will obey them,” Fico added.

When asked about his future plans as an elected official, Fico said he is not thinking right now about whether to seek a return as prime minister or whether he will consider running in the presidential election.

“It’s 2011 and tomorrow morning I want to go for a swim and for a run,” he said, adding that 2014 will be the year for elections, both parliamentary and presidential, and he will adjust to the situation of the moment.

“I will surely not go into the presidential election if Smer is showing signs as a strong party that can form the government,” Fico said. “I guarantee the stability of Smer, which is great. Smer will be as ready for the elections as never before.”

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