Slovakia's presidential election: A choice between Russia, West

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Al Jazeera :
This week’s televised debate among Slovakia’s nine presidential candidates often sounded as though it was taking place in Moscow.
“As president, I want to extricate Slovakia from the dungeon of nations that is the European Union,” declared Milan Nahlik, a policeman who unsuccessfully ran for parliament four years ago.
“As president, I would vote for the lifting of sanctions against Russia, because they are contrary to international law,” said Stefan Harabin, a former Supreme Court judge and third most popular candidate, echoing Russian arguments that sanctions needed to be approved by the UN Security Council.
“Mr Harabin, you are directly responsible for the large and forceful manner in which we handed over our national sovereignty to Brussels. And today you act as if you had nothing to do with it,” shot back Marian Kotleba, a neo-Nazi candidate trailing in the polls.
He was referring to Harabin’s erstwhile support for the Lisbon Treaty, which empowered the European Union to sign international treaties on members’ behalf, but fell short of a greater aspiration, to introduce majority voting on defence and foreign affairs, thus preserving member states’ power to veto decisions.
Loss of national sovereignty on external relations was a fear leading candidate and former premier Peter Pellegrini played off as well. “Pellegrini pulled out a carefully prepared insidious lie and a story about how Germany and France will order that Slovakia must “assemble our fully armed soldiers at the railway station” for deployment to Ukraine and “no one will ask us,” wrote journalist Tomas Bella at the independent newspaper Dennik N.
Pellegrini, who leads the Hlas party, a splinter group of the ruling Smer party of Prime Minister Robert Fico and now in coalition with it, has styled himself as the pro-peace candidate, repeating Pope Francis’s recent controversial statement, “You have to find the courage to raise the white flag.”
In Slovakia, the president’s role is largely ceremonial.
However, as the official commander in chief of the armed forces, the president can declare war and mobilise, declare martial law, and return a law for parliament to reconsider. He or she can also appoint and recall judges including Supreme Court justices, demand reports from the government on specific areas, or call a referendum on a policy issue.
The lone pro-Western voice in the field and the only candidate supporting Ukraine’s fight against Russia’s invasion, was that of former foreign minister Ivan Korcok, who places a close second to Pellegrini in opinion polls. “Peace in Ukraine can be tomorrow, and it will be when the Kremlin regime headed by President Putin stops killing innocents and destroying the entire country. Peace cannot be capitulation,” Korcok said.

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