Credit: Petr Pavel, via Facebook

Czech Leaders Congratulate Pellegrini, Stressing Good Czech-Slovak Relations

Czech Prime Minister Petr Fiala (ODS) yesterday congratulated Peter Pellegrini on his victory in the Slovak presidential election, writing on social media that he believes in the further development of excellent and deep relations between the Czech Republic and Slovakia.

Czech Foreign Minister Jan Lipavsky (Pirates) said he believed that Pellegrini (Hlas-SD) would fully support Czech-Slovak cooperation in his new position, and would guarantee Slovakia’s firm anchorage in European and transatlantic structures.

President Petr Pavel, during a three-day visit to Rwanda, said he believed that he and Pellegrini would build on the tradition of exceptionally good neighbourly relations, and said he was looking forward to constructive cooperation.

“Slovak voters have decided, it is of course their sovereign decision,” Pavel told journalists in Rwanda. “We have no choice but to respect it, congratulate the winner of the election and express our hope that Peter Pellegrini will build on the excellent relations we have with [incumbent President] Zuzana Caputova at the presidential level. On my part, I will do my utmost for that.”

Pavel also invited Pellegrini to pay an official visit to the Czech Republic after his inauguration as president, the Czech Presidential Office said in a press release today. Pellegrini has indicated that his first foreign trip will be to Prague, as is traditional.

On behalf of Pavel, Pellegrini was congratulated by the Czech ambassador to Slovakia, Rudolf Jindrak, at his campaign headquarters on Saturday night.

According to Seznam Zpravy, the Czech Republic was the first country to congratulate the newly elected president.

There is currently disagreement between Prague and Bratislava on some foreign policy issues. Among other things, they have different positions on the war in Ukraine and support for the invaded state. In early March, the Czech cabinet cancelled a planned joint meeting of the two countries’ governments, which met with criticism from, among others, Slovak PM Robert Fico (Smer-SD). Pellegrini also opposed the decision, saying the Czech Republic should not put itself in the role of an older brother towards Slovakia.

Andrej Babis, former Czech PM and chairman of the opposition ANO, wrote on social media that he predicts improving relations between the Czech Republic and Slovakia under the leadership of Pellegrini, who he endorsed during the campaign. He also said that the Slovaks had made a good choice, and would have a proud president who would always defend their interests in the world and stand up for all citizens.

“Congratulations to the whole of Slovakia on the election of Pellegrini as president!” Babis wrote.

Czech European Affairs Minister Martin Dvorak (STAN) wrote on social media that the election was not as dramatic as expected. “Let’s congratulate the freely and democratically elected next president and wish Slovakia no more dramas in the years to come. And may all future Slovak elections also be free and democratic,” he said.

In her congratulatory message, Czech parliamentary speaker and chair of TOP 09, Marketa Pekarova Adamova, wished Pellegrini every success in his work for Slovakia. “I also want to praise his opponent, Ivan Korcok, who ran a decent, fair and transparent campaign based on a positive offer.”

Senate Speaker Milos Vystrcil (ODS) said he believed that promoting the traditional very close relations between the Czech Republic and Slovakia would be a common priority, in a congratulatory message on social media.

Some politicians from the governing ODS linked the result of the vote to fears of destabilisation in the EU. According to MEP Jiri Pospisil (TOP 09), the election confirmed that Slovakia is gradually becoming another Trojan horse of Russian President Vladimir Putin in the EU, following the path of Hungary.

“I feel very sorry for all those Slovaks who wanted to follow a different path today… the path of democracy and freedom,” he said in a social media post.

ODS senator Miroslava Nemcova wrote that she did not believe Pellegrini could separate himself from the policies of Prime Minister Fico, who has been strengthened by the result. “There will be even harsher attacks on the judicial system, the public media. We will be surprised. And Russia will intensify its effort to destabilise parts of the European Union and our country,” Nemcova wrote.

Deputy PM and Pirate leader Ivan Bartos said in a statement available to CTK that although the Pirates are not in agreement with the new head of the Slovak state on issues such as the war in Ukraine or the need for the independence of the media and courts, the election was a decision of the Slovaks. The Pirates respect it and are ready to cooperate on everything that is beneficial for Czech citizens, Bartos said.

Pellegrini won nearly 1.4 million votes in the election. He described this as satisfaction after everything that had befallen him during the campaign. The Slovak government need not worry about the Presidential Palace becoming an institution detrimental to the government, he said. His rival in Saturday’s election runoff, career diplomat Ivan Korcok, backed by the opposition, received about 1.23 million votes.

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