Bratislava, Slovakia – As the war in Ukraine enters its eighth week, echoes of the French presidential election can be heard in Central Europe as well.
During a debate held earlier this week on French television, the spokesman for the far-right National Rally party Julien Odoul claimed that Slovakia could count among their allies should Marine Le Pen be elected as president.
The comment was made in response to a question by Nathalie Loiseau, a French MEP and former Minister for European Affairs under Macron, inquiring which allies would the far-right leader have in Europe should she win the second round of the election next week.
Slovakia’s Prime Minister Eduard Heger was quick to dismiss the claim and slammed – without explicitly naming her – Ms. Le Pen for her ties with Russia and President Vladimir Putin.
“In memory of our fellow citizens who suffered during the Soviet occupation in 1968 and of those who suffer from Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, the Slovak government does not consider allies far-right politicians, homegrown or from EU countries, who act as Russian agents and claim a country loses if it is a member of the EU”, he wrote on Twitter.
Marine Le Pen’s National Rally party has increased ties with Slovakia’s Sme Rodina party and its leader Boris Kollar over the past few years, including during a visit to Bratislava ahead of the 2019 European Parliament elections.
Although the movement is indeed part of the ruling coalition and Kollar himself holds the post of National Council speaker, the party only holds two relatively minor ministerial positions in the current cabinet and has 17 MPs in the 150-seat lower house of Parliament.
After coming second (23%) in the first round of the French presidential election, Marine Le Pen will be facing-off with incumbent Emmanuel Macron in the second round on April 24.
Most polls show Macron with a narrow lead over his opponent, who has faced criticism at home and abroad for her close ties with the Kremlin amidst the ongoing invasion of Ukraine.