Slovakia's Prime Minister makes first public appearance since May 15 shooting

Slovakia's Prime Minister makes first public appearance since May 15 shooting

Slovakia's Prime Minister Robert Fico has made his first public appearance since he was shot on May 15 in an apparent assassination attempt.

He spoke at an event at Devín Castle in the capital Bratislava to mark Saint Cyril and Methodius Day, a national holiday in Slovakia to commemorate the day the two Christian missionaries arrived in what was then Moravia.

He made only one reference to his shooting, referring to it only as an "unfortunate event", and used his speech largely to talk about the need to build a barrier against progressivism which he said is spreading "like a cancer".

"They are ideologies that are damaging this country. They are ideologies that were created perhaps only the day before yesterday. I do not want Slovakia to be one of the countries that make a caricature of Western civilisation. We are a proud nation," he said.

He also used his speech to caution against the war in Ukraine spiralling into a broader regional conflict.

"If we do not do something in the coming days and months, the situation that is developing in Ukraine could get out of hand and we could see an uncontrolled war," he warned.

Robert Fico speaks at Devín Castle in the capital Bratislava to mark Saint Cyril and Methodius Day, July 5, 2024
Robert Fico speaks at Devín Castle in the capital Bratislava to mark Saint Cyril and Methodius Day, July 5, 2024 - Screenshot from EBU video EBU 2024_10243667

Handlová shooting

The 59-year-old populist prime minister was shot in the abdomen at close range as he greeted supporters following a government meeting in Handlová on 15 May.

Videos showed him approach people gathered at barricades and reach out to shake hands as a man stepped forward, extended his arm and fired five rounds before being tackled and arrested.

Fico underwent a five-hour surgery to treat multiple wounds he suffered in the shooting, followed by another two-hour surgery two days later to remove dead tissue from his gunshot wounds.

In late May, he was airlifted from the hospital in Banská Bystrica to the capital, Bratislava, where he was nursed at home.

Fico has since said he forgave his attacker and felt "no hatred towards the stranger who shot me".

"I will not take any active legal action against him or seek damage compensation. I forgive him and let him sort out what he did and why he did it in his own head," he said.

In early June, Slovakia's Deputy Prime Minister Robert Kaliňák, who also serves as minister of defence in Fico's government, said Fico's condition was gradually improving but that he would likely have permanent health issues.