Fico lashes out at minorities, accusing them of ‘blackmail’

Minorities, whether they are Roma, “opinion” minorities or other ethnicities, should stop “blackmailing” Slovakia, according to Prime Minister Robert Fico. He was speaking during a celebration of the 150th anniversary of the state-sponsored cultural organisation Matica Slovenská, the SITA newswire reported on February 26.

Minorities, whether they are Roma, “opinion” minorities or other ethnicities, should stop “blackmailing” Slovakia, according to Prime Minister Robert Fico. He was speaking during a celebration of the 150th anniversary of the state-sponsored cultural organisation Matica Slovenská, the SITA newswire reported on February 26.

Fico said that it is becoming a tradition for minorities in Slovakia to be seen with outstretched hands demanding something, but without any responsibility to the state and with what he called “minimum cultivation of civic virtues”.

“This has to change,” Fico said, as quoted by SITA. “We did not establish our independent state preferentially for minorities, although we respect them, but mainly for the Slovak statehood nation. It is still valid that the state is national and society civic. The tendency when the problems of minorities are deliberately protruded to the fore everywhere at the expense of Slovak statehood nation is weird.”

Fico referred to what he called the “irreplaceable role” of Matica Slovenská in the history of Slovakia, saying that it not only did it “save Slovaks from extinction”, but “literally resuscitated the nation”, the TASR newswire wrote.

The premier strongly criticised the media for reporting critically about Matica Slovenská.

“They are tabloiding its efforts [i.e. reporting on its efforts in a tabloid style], leaving out of consideration what really matters – Matica’s unique [role in] Slovakia’s moral revival,” said Fico. “Matica teaches us to pursue unstinting patriotism, because where such patriotism is lacking, extremism flourishes. Where there is no morality, fashion appears, but it doesn’t last.”

Fico’s speech prompted criticism from representatives of parties representing Slovakia’s Hungarian-speaking population, which makes up around 10 percent of the country’s total population. According to the extra-parliamentary Party of Hungarian Community (SMK), Fico was seeking to undermine minorities, SITA wrote.

“Fico is openly announcing building the national state, by which he again showed where he sees the place of minorities in Slovakia,” said SMK leader József Berényi, as quoted by SITA, adding that for Fico’s Smer party first place belongs to the Slovak nation as the owners of the country, while minorities belong to the category of subordinates.

Rudolf Chmel of the opposition Most-Híd party said that by making such a speech Fico had returned the definition of the state to the ethno-nationalism which distinguished the 1990s governments of former prime minister Vladimír Mečiar.

“He again creates two categories of citizens – Slovaks and non-Slovaks – and the latter allegedly only stretch out their hands and demand [things],” Chmel told SITA, adding that Fico is only “legitimating the nationalists and neo-fascists not only in Matica Slovenská” and is blocking the positive development of relations with minorities.

Sources: SITA, TASR

Compiled by Radka Minarechová from press reports
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