Slovakia president rejects nomination of opponent of climate change policy as environment minister

By The Associated Press

BRATISLAVA, Slovakia (AP) — Slovakia’s president announced Thursday that she is postponing the appointment of a new Cabinet following last month’s parliamentary election because she cannot accept the nomination of a person who doesn’t believe in the threat of climate change as environment minister.

Liberal President Zuzana Caputova said Rudolf Huliak, who was nominated by the ultranationalist and pro-Russian Slovak National Party, could not ensure the proper functioning of the ministry because he opposes the government’s long-term environmental policies and Slovakia’s international obligations.

“A candidate who has not recognized the scientific consensus on climate change and asserts no real climate crisis exists cannot be in charge and represent a ministry whose main role is the protection of nature, landscape and the Earth’s climate system,” Caputova said in a statement.

She also mentioned Huliak’s advocacy of violence against environmentalists as a reason not to swear him in. Huliak, the mayor of the town of Ocova in central Slovakia, has also attacked LGBT+ people, the European Union and expressed pro-Russian views.

The Slovak National Party said Thursday it was not ready to accept the president’s request that it nominate someone else.

Huliak is the most controversial of the Cabinet candidates presented to the president by former populist Prime Minister Robert Fico, whose leftist Smer, or Direction, party won the most seats in the Sept. 30 parliamentary election.

Fico’s party won 42 seats in the 150-seat Parliament after campaigning on a pro-Russian and anti-American platform. He has vowed to withdraw Slovakia’s military support for Ukraine.

He needed coalition partners to form a parliamentary majority and signed a deal with the leftist Hlas, or Voice, party and the Slovak National Party to govern together.

The deal gives Smer the post of the prime minister and six other Cabinet ministers, opening the way for Fico to serve as Slovakia’s head of government for the fourth time.

Hlas will get seven Cabinet ministers, while the Slovak National Party will have three.

Caputova has been president since winning a 2019 election.

The Associated Press

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