Slovakia’s Fico appointed prime minister for fourth time

(Reuters) -Leftist leader Robert Fico was appointed Slovakia’s prime minister on Wednesday for the fourth time, after pledging in his election campaign to end military support for Ukraine and criticising sanctions on Russia.

President Zuzana Caputova appointed Fico and his cabinet after his SMER-SSD party won the Sept. 30 election and formed a coalition with the centre-left HLAS and nationalist SNS parties.

Fico quit as prime minister in 2018 amid mass public protests against corruption after a journalist was murdered.

This time, he campaigned heavily on pledges to end Slovak official military aid to Ukraine, make foreign policy independent of EU partners and the U.S., and get tough on keeping out migrants seeking to make it to western Europe.

Both Ukraine and migration may be among topics at an EU summit on Thursday and Friday that Fico will attend.

Fico has also spoken out against political liberalism, the activities of non-governmental organisations, and more rights for transgender people.

He has praised neighbouring Hungary’s leader Viktor Orban as a politician defending his country’s interests, and could make alliances with Orban where their interests meet.

While railing against Brussels and the United States, Fico has repeatedly said that he has no intention to take the country of 5.5 million people out of the EU or the U.S.-led NATO military alliance.

(Reporting by Jan Lopatka in Prague; Editing by Toby Chopra and Kevin Liffey)