Fico to journalist: We are not on the same level

Prime minister accuses a public-service broadcaster of waging a campaign against the government, calling the radio host an “opposition journalist”.

PM Fico on May 25. PM Fico on May 25. (Source: TASR)

Prime Minister Robert Fico continues to attack journalists. In the Saturday noon talk show of the public-service radio RTVS he repeatedly raised his voice against the show’s presenter Branislav Dobšinský who was asking questions about the allegations of suspicious practices connected with the preparation of the Slovak EU presidency at the Foreign Ministry, which were voiced by a former ministry official Zuzana Hlávková.

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“Excuse me, you are the journalist of the Slovak Radio and I am the prime minister, so do not interrupt me when I’m speaking. Please respect that. We are not in a pub here, you are not an opposition politician, we are not on the same level here,” the prime minister told the host of the show as he accused him of lacking neutrality and serving the interests of the opposition.

Referring to his statements from a few days before, when he labelled some journalists “dirty anti-Slovak prostitutes”, Fico on Saturday specified that he meant some tabloid journalists, journalists from Denník N and Sme dailies and journalists from the public-service television and radio.

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“I stand by the words I said, because there are media, some media owners and journalists who have the purpose to go against the government, against Slovakia, and harm the interests of this country,” Fico said. The prime minister pointed to the fact that Slovakia ranked 12th in the freedom of media worldwide, but the media “abuse this freedom”. He noted that in 2012-2016 his Smer was the only party in the government and “could have taken measures, but we did not because we value the freedom that the media have in Slovakia”.

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Fico insisted that the media violate the law because they do not publish correction requests, they publish one-sided unchecked information, and they do not ask the other side for reaction.

“You violate the law, because you do not inform but rather make politics and create some picture in this country,” the prime minister said. Fico, who was the only guest of the show on Saturday November 26, reproached Dobšinský for not asking him more about the draft state budget currently discussed in the parliament, and about the successes of the Slovak presidency.

“I am the prime minister, I should have talked about the state budget rather than some bubble that one miss created with some interview,” Fico said and accused Dobšinský of being an “opposition journalist”. With regard to Hlávková’s allegations, Fico repeated that Foreign Minister Miroslav Lajčák had his full trust, that no law has been violated and nothing was overpriced.

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