US embassy cable - 04BRATISLAVA149

AMBASSADOR MEETS WITH OPPOSITION LEADER FICO

Identifier: 04BRATISLAVA149
Wikileaks: View 04BRATISLAVA149 at Wikileaks.org
Origin: Embassy Bratislava
Created: 2004-02-13 09:56:00
Classification: CONFIDENTIAL
Tags: PGOV LO ELECTIONS
Redacted: This cable was not redacted by Wikileaks.
This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.

C O N F I D E N T I A L BRATISLAVA 000149 
 
SIPDIS 
 
 
E.O. 12958: DECL: 02/03/2014 
TAGS: PGOV, LO, ELECTIONS 
SUBJECT: AMBASSADOR MEETS WITH OPPOSITION LEADER FICO 
 
 
CLASSIFIED BY: AMB. RONALD WEISER FOR REASONS 1.4 B AND D 
 
1.  (U) ROBERT FICO, CHAIRMAN OF SMER, MET WITH THE 
AMBASSADOR ON FEBRUARY 2.  THEY DISCUSSED A WIDE VARIETY OF 
    TOPICS RANGING FROM THE UPCOMING PRESIDENTIAL ELECTIONS TO 
THE REFERENDUM ON EARLY ELECTIONS TO COALITION POLITICS. 
 
SMER TO SUPPORT SCHUSTER IN THE FINAL HOUR 
------------------------------------------ 
 
2.  (C) FICO TOLD THE AMBASSADOR THAT MOST MEMBERS OF SMER 
SUPPORT PRESIDENT SCHUSTER IN THE UPCOMING PRESIDENTIAL 
ELECTIONS, THOUGH SOME DID SUPPORT HZD LEADER IVAN 
GASPAROVIC.  FICO SAID THAT HIS PARTY WILL ANNOUNCE ITS 
SUPPORT FOR SCHUSTER JUST PRIOR TO THE FIRST ROUND OF 
ELECTIONS TO BE HELD ON APRIL 3.  FICO ADDED THAT WHILE 
GASPAROVIC IS AN INTERESTING CANDIDATE AND SHARES SOME OF 
SMER'S VIEWS, THE PARTY WILL NOT SUPPORT A CANDIDATE THAT HAS 
LITTLE CHANCE TO MAKE IT INTO THE SECOND ROUND.  IN A RECENT 
MEETING BETWEEN FICO AND SCHUSTER, FICO SUGGESTED TO THE 
PRESIDENT THAT HIS OPPONENTS WILL TRY TO USE HIS AGE--AT 70 
SCHUSTER IS THE OLDEST CANDIDATE IN THE RACE--AGAINST HIM AND 
THAT TO COUNTER THESE CHARGES, SCHUSTER SHOULD TALK OPENLY 
ABOUT HIS HEALTH AND VITALITY.  (NOTE:  IN AN ARTICLE IN SME 
ON FEBRUARY 2, THE PRESIDENT SAID THAT HE WAS HEALTHIER NOW 
THAN BEFORE HIS SURGERY IN JUNE 2000 THAT NEARLY KILLED HIM, 
AND THAT HE PLAYS TENNIS REGULARLY.)  FICO SAID THAT SMER 
WOULD NOT OFFER SUPPORT TO FOREIGN MINISTER KUKAN OR FORMER 
PRIME MINISTER MECIAR IN THEIR BIDS FOR PRESIDENCY.  FICO 
PROJECTED THAT TWO OF THE FOLLOWING THREE CANDIDATES WOULD 
MAKE IT INTO THE SECOND ROUND:  KUKAN, SCHUSTER, OR MECIAR. 
 
REFERENDUM WILL BE SUCCESSFUL 
----------------------------- 
 
    3.  (C) FICO PREDICTED THAT THE REFERENDUM ON EARLY 
ELECTIONS, WHICH SCHUSTER CONFIRMED IN HIS MEETING WITH FICO 
WILL BE HELD ON APRIL 3, WILL BE SUCCESSFUL.  FICO ESTIMATED 
THAT 65 PERCENT OF THE ELECTORATE WILL TURN OUT FOR THE 
PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION AND THEREFORE HE THOUGHT THAT THE 
REFERENDUM WOULD GET AT LEAST THE 51 PERCENT OF THE REQUIRED 
PARTICIPATION TO MAKE THE REFERENDUM VALID.  HE WAS CONFIDENT 
THAT THE MAJORITY OF THOSE VOTING WOULD FAVOR EARLY 
ELECTIONS.  FICO ADDED THAT LEADERS FROM ANO, THE CHRISTIAN 
DEMOCRATS (KDH), AND THE HUNGARIAN COALITION PARTY (SMK) 
WOULD SUPPORT THE CALL FOR EARLY ELECTIONS IN PARLIAMENT IF 
THE REFERENDUM WAS VALID. 
 
WORKING WITH FREE FORUM 
----------------------- 
 
4.  (C) WHEN ASKED ABOUT THE POSSIBILITY OF WORKING WITH IVAN 
SIMKO'S FREE FORUM, FICO REPLIED THAT SIMKO HAS INDICATED 
THAT HIS PARTY MAY SUPPORT SMER-GENERATED CALLS FOR VOTES OF 
NO CONFIDENCE IN FINANCE MINISTER IVAN MIKLOS AND ECONOMY 
MINISTER PAVOL RUSKO.  FICO ADDED THAT HE EXPECTS TO WORK 
WITH SIMKO IN PASSING THE LAWS ON CONFLICT OF INTEREST AND 
PROPERTY DISCLOSURE.  FICO OPINED THAT SIMKO HAD MISSED HIS 
OPPORTUNITY TO BECOME A VIABLE THREAT TO PRIME MINISTER 
DZURINDA AND THE SLOVAK DEMOCRATIC AND CHRISTIAN UNION 
(SDKU).  FICO CRITICIZED SIMKO'S EXPLANATION TO THE PUBLIC 
THAT FREE FORUM SUPPORTED THE GOVERNMENT PROGRAM BUT IT DID 
NOT SUPPORT DZURINDA, SUGGESTING THAT THE AVERAGE SLOVAK 
FOUND THIS EXPLANATION TO BE CONFUSING.  (NOTE:  IN A LATER 
MEETING WITH SIMKO, HE INDICATED TO THE AMBASSADOR THAT HE 
WOULD SUPPORT A NO CONFIDENCE VOTE ON RUSKO BUT NOT MIKLOS 
    UNLESS THE FINANCE MINISTER MAKES A MAJOR MISTAKE OR UNLESS 
THE ALLEGATIONS FICO MADE AGAINST MIKLOS ARE PROVEN TRUE.) 
 
COMMENT 
------- 
 
5.  (C) FICO HAS BECOME MUCH MORE POLISHED IN HIS MEETINGS 
WITH THE AMBASSADOR.  HIS VIEWS ON THE PRESIDENTIAL ELECTIONS 
AND IVAN SIMKO ARE REALISTIC.  HOWEVER, SOME OF FICO'S OTHER 
STATEMENTS CONFLICT WITH WHAT EMBOFFS HAVE HEARD FROM OTHER 
SOURCES.  NONE OF OUR INTERLOCUTORS IN ANO, KDH, OR SMK HAVE 
SAID THEY WOULD SUPPORT EARLY ELECTIONS.  FICO TOLD THE 
AMBASSADOR THAT HE IS LOOKING FORWARD TO A TRIP TO WASHINGTON 
THIS SPRING. 
 
 
WEISER 
 
NNNN 

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