Slovak parliament confirms government promising to halt Ukraine military aid

Slovakia’s parliament confirmed Prime Minister Robert Fico’s government on Tuesday, backing a policy agenda that promises to halt state military aid to Ukraine, slowly reduce budget deficits and impose a new bank tax.

Fico won an election in September on a campaign that took aim at critical media, Western partners and liberal policies, and was appointed prime minister for the fourth time by President Zuzana Caputova on Oct. 25.

Fico’s governing coalition combines his leftist, socially conservative SMER-SSD party with a smaller leftist party and a small nationalist party.

The coalition adopted its policy programme last week, and parliament supported it in a vote of confidence on Tuesday.

The programme promises a special tax on banking profits and measures to cut interest rates on mortgages. Special levies will be designed for excessive profits in other unspecified sectors.

It aims for a reduction of the general government deficit amounting to 0.5% of GDP in 2024. The country is facing the euro zone’s biggest deficit estimated at almost 7% of GDP this year.

The programme also incorporated Fico’s campaign pledge to halt Slovakia’s official military aid to Ukraine as its neighbour battles Russia’s invasion and to seek a cessation of hostilities, while recognising Ukraine’s international borders.

It also reiterated opposition to an end of national veto rights of European Union member states, or a move towards majority voting in more areas.

The opposition voted against the programme, citing Fico’s attacks on independent media and dismissals of high police officials which had investigated members of the new ruling coalition for graft. REUTERS