Andrej Kiska openly about Robert Fico

Andrej Kiska openly about Robert Fico
Andrej Kiska openly about Robert Fico

Andrej Kiska was the Slovak president from 2014 to 2019. In office, he experienced only two prime ministers, Robert Fico and Peter Pellegrini. The first of them is now the Prime Minister, the second of them can become the President. In an open interview for Aktuálně.cz, Kiska describes what kind of trap Fico prepared for him and how his close advisers persuaded him to take a step that would ensure Fico’s end in politics.

Less than five years ago, you ended your post as Slovak president. Since then, have you ever regretted not being able to get involved in politics?

He didn’t regret it, quite the opposite. I was glad that President Zuzana Čaputová took over the office from me, of whom I am very proud. I may have disagreed with her on small things at times, but we are all different.

What did you disagree about?

They are details, moments when I might have performed differently. We have different personalities and characters, but she fulfilled her role excellently. She had to perform her role in a difficult period of the war in Ukraine, inflation and covid.

Rather, I always told myself that it was good that I was no longer there. I often felt sorry for Čaput. When I was president, I had extremists, neo-fascists and Fico against me. In addition to them, the president also had Igor Matovič against her.

Andrej Kiska is an entrepreneur, philanthropist and former politician. In the years 2014 to 2019, he was the Slovak president.

Kiska studied at the Faculty of Electrical Engineering of the Slovak Technical University in Bratislava. He then worked as a designer. Shortly after the Velvet Revolution, he left for the United States, from where he returned to Slovakia after a year and a half. He then worked as an entrepreneur for over 15 years. In 1996, he co-founded the installment company Tatracredit, which he briefly led. Ten years later, he co-founded the non-profit organization Good Angel, which helps families in difficult life situations.

In 2012, he decided to run for Slovak president and ended his work in a non-profit organization. In the 2014 presidential election, he defeated his opponent Robert Fico in the second round and became head of state. After the end of his mandate five years later, he founded the Za lidi political party, which joined the coalition government of Igor Matovič after the 2020 elections. Kiska quit politics in the same year due to health reasons. He returned to the non-profit organization Good Angel.

Photo: Matej Slávik/Economy

So you don’t miss politics?

No, I never wanted to be a politician. About twelve years ago, I wrote in a book that I would not be a politician. I worked in the non-profit Good Angel and I saw how children die needlessly in our country, what kind of corruption and bad social system we have. That whipped me and something broke in my head. I told myself that I would go to the dirt. Even Mahatma Gandhi said that if you really want to change something in the country, sooner or later you have to enter politics anyway.

Your presidency was accompanied by major disputes with Prime Minister Fico. He often attacked you, as well as Čaputová. When Fico is prime minister, does he always try to outdo every president?

If Pellegrini, who tries to accommodate him as much as possible and is even servile to his demands, becomes president, Fico will not be aggressive. He started to go against me as soon as he understood that I was very popular even among his constituents and that I took the liberty of criticizing his work and his ministers. He clearly assessed that he had to lower the president’s credibility.

With my successor, however, he has already switched to practices bordering on the mafia. When I spoke of Slovakia as a mafia state years ago, time has shown that I was right. We learned about records from Marian Kočner’s Threem application, which revealed the connection of crime to the highest levels of politics. Then there was another period with Igor Matovič, towards whom I have many reservations, but he really tried to fight corruption. Mafia ties to politics were then refined.

And will it return under Fitz’s current government again?

I recently caught Fitz’s statement to Čaputová, when he said that if the president is not careful, she will end up like Andrej Kiska. This is a mafia threat because it says: “Mrs. President, we don’t care if you have done nothing wrong. We will find something and bring you to justice. (Last autumn, on the day when Fico announced that he would take over the government for the fourth time, the former Slovak president Kiska received a conditional sentence from the Poprad court. He was convicted of tax fraud together with the manager of his family company, Eduard Kučkovský. They appealed on the spot and the verdict is not final, note ed.)

There was also mafia sending of empty cartridge cases. Such practices make me a little cold. He indicated that they are ready to abuse the state, the police, the prosecutor’s office, and all the branches of the state in order to put people who are uncomfortable for them into very difficult situations.

Has Fico ever threatened you directly?

No, he is unfortunately a very experienced and capable politician. The worst combination is when an evil person is also capable. He would never do that and he was well aware that I could use it against him. Even though he tried to do business with me and wanted to get to the post of President of the Constitutional Court in exchange for stopping criminal prosecution against me, he made his request through Pellegrini. Fico was more or less silent at the meeting and only Pellegrini spoke. Only when the ice was broken a little, he came to me and said: “You know, let’s forgive each other old sins.” I just thought, “Sure.”

Fico, whom you criticize so much, would not be prime minister today. Haven’t you ever thought that if you did send him to court, he wouldn’t be a politician with the main decision-making power in the state again today?

Even my close advisers at the time begged me to do it, so that we would have peace from him. But the President of the Constitutional Court is the fourth highest position in the state and for twelve years. The Constitutional Court decides on the basic functioning of the state. For a man who ran a mafia state and did so much evil in our country to guard the country’s constitutionality? That never. Life is about compromises and it’s not black and white. But there are certain values ​​and principles that one should never betray. And I was firmly convinced that I would never put it there.

You’ve been through a lot with Fic. What was the most difficult thing for you in dealing with him?

Fico is a technologist of power and a very experienced person. It has two faces. When he came to a meeting with me, he tried to be more friendly and sense where he could “trade politics”. The ordinary politicians we meet operate on the principle: “I’ll give you something, you give me something, and we’ll live side by side. It doesn’t matter what happens next.”

It’s great to see Fico’s current support for Pellegrini. Pellegrini had bad relations with him. Fico called him a traitor, spoke very badly of him, but still they so-called trade. Fico promised Pellegrini that he would support him in the presidential elections and he, in return, would support him in forming a government coalition. Such deals are common in politics.

So they tried to make similar agreements with you?

When I was dealing with Fic, I was very careful to see if there was some kind of hook that he would use to catch me in the topics on which we agree. I was always on the lookout for something he wanted to use against me. One of the feints came when Fitz’s Minister of the Interior, Robert Kaliňák, asked me to use a government plane for flights from Poprad to Bratislava. It wasn’t used and they argued that pilots needed to fly. And I jumped at them because it had its own logic. Later, I was reported in the newspapers as a depraved president who misused a government plane.

The current head of parliament, Pellegrini, broke up with Fic after 2020 and created his own party, Hlas. Why did he decide to return to Fico and go into a coalition with him?

I honestly thought she would never go out with him again. During Pellegrini’s reign, I had the feeling that he could stand up to Fico. He returned it by cursing him and attacking his personal life. Therefore, I got the impression that they would never sit at the same table again. Unfortunately, politics is the art of the possible, and Fico masters the techniques of politics brilliantly.

So if Pellegrini becomes president, will he serve the government?

He praised the current foreign minister for taking a photo with his Russian counterpart, Sergei Lavrov, or personally voting for an amendment to the criminal code that included shortening the statute of limitations for rape. He went to visit Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán to win over Hungarian voters. He cheated on values ​​that I would never cheat on. If he has already done it, I have absolutely no certainty that he will not violate the values ​​again as soon as Slovakia finds itself in a crisis situation.

When you watch Robert Fico today, has he changed over the years?

On the surface he appears to have hardened, but fundamentally he remains the same power technologist he was. But two things happened. First, when I met him as president, I noticed that he envied Viktor Orbán’s control of the media. In Slovakia, we had independent newspapers and television. Today we see that Fico is trying to get closer to Orbán. And then his pro-Russian statements, which many are surprised by today, are important.

They obviously don’t surprise you.

After the murder of journalist Ján Kuciak and his fiancee, Fico fell to the bottom. Then he started to get up again, but his supporters jumped to Pellegrini’s side. They got rid of Fico, they had enough of him. Fico knows today that he will not get back those he disappointed. He has to lure the rest of those who are left to him, i.e. neo-fascists, extremists and ultra-leftists. That is why he is now chasing fascist, pro-Russian and communist voters and is riding the wave of pro-Russian speeches about not giving Ukraine a single weapon. With Fico, as with other populist politicians, it is completely irrelevant what he believes in, because he will say what the voters need to hear.

When I traveled around the European Union as president and he as prime minister, it was as if I had never met a more pro-European person than Fico. But then there were celebrations of the Slovak National Uprising at home, where he got up in front of people and started thundering against the European Union in such a way that I was ashamed. This is the schizophrenia of populist politicians. Even though they are convinced that the country is better off in the EU and with allies, so that they are in power, they talk differently. They will easily claim how the EU is bad and Russia is good.

In a few days, it will be clear about the new Slovak president. What will the second round of elections decide?

I believe that we can once again have a good president of whom we will be proud, i.e. Ivan Korčok. It will decide if die-hard Fics and Harabinos will go to vote and what kind of dirt they will pull on Korčok. The elections turned out in the first round, which was won by Korčok, much more pleasantly than we all expected. From Fico’s statements, it is clear that Pellegrini doesn’t need much after all. He will rather throw dirt on Korčok than passionately root for Pellegrini. The third candidate from the first round, Štefan Harabin, is an exotic, and we do not know if his voters will even be willing to vote in the second round. For me, the ideal scenario is that they stay at home.

The article is in Czech

Tags: Andrej Kiska openly Robert Fico


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