President-elect of Slovakia urges immediate end to Ukraine conflict

The hostilities have only brought misery and death over the past two years, Slovakia’s Peter Pellegrini says 

The Ukraine conflict has accomplished nothing but tens of thousands of deaths and must be resolved as soon as possible, Slovakian President-elect Peter Pellegrini has said.

Pellegrini, who is currently serving as the speaker of the national parliament, won the presidential election on Saturday, receiving 53% of the vote. His rival, ex-Foreign Minister Ivan Korcok, who has been described as a pro-Western candidate, received around 47%. Pellegrini is an ally of Prime Minister Robert Fico, who opposes sending weapons to Ukraine.

In an interview with Ta3 broadcaster on Sunday, the president-elect stressed that “the killing [in Ukraine] should be stopped immediately and then action should be taken.” 

He added that “it is an absolute tragedy to support… a conflict that has not brought any results in two years” while leaving tens of thousands dead. At the same time, Pellegrini condemned Russia’s military operation against Kiev, calling Moscow the “aggressor.”

He also stressed that while Slovakia will remain aligned with the EU and NATO, it will seek to be more independent on the global stage.

The president-elect also rejected the idea that his campaign was based on fearmongering, telling local media that, on the contrary, he wanted to reassure his fellow citizens that they will not have to go to war. He added that he would “rather listen to the Holy Father in the Vatican than French President [Emmanuel] Macron” when it comes to ideas for resolving the conflict between Moscow and Kiev.

In March, Pope Francis urged Ukraine to start peace talks with Russia, saying it is important to have “the courage of the white flag” – an appeal that was vehemently rejected in Kiev. Macron has taken a more hardline approach. At one point, he said that deploying NATO troops to Ukraine cannot be ruled out, while describing Moscow as an “adversary.”

Russia maintains that it is open to talks with Kiev; however, Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelensky signed a decree banning negotiations with the current leadership in Moscow after four former Ukrainian territories voted overwhelmingly to join Russia in the autumn of 2022. 

Last month, however, Zelensky suggested that a return to Ukraine’s 1991 borders is no longer a precondition for negotiations with Russia, insisting instead that the territory it lost in 2022 must be restored.