Slovak president intervenes in Sputnik V crisis, foreign minister resigns – World

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© Associated Press

Slovak Foreign Minister Ivan Korcok

Slovak Foreign Minister Ivan Korcok has resigned over weeks of scandal in Igor Matovic’s four-party government.

The crisis in the government began after information that Matovic did not coordinate the purchase of Russian vaccines against coronavirus “Sputnik V”. Matovic admitted the possibility of retiring if it would help resolve the crisis.

The Party of Freedom and Solidarity, which nominated Korchok, demanded that a new prime minister come to power and form a cabinet with the same parties. Korchok is the sixth minister to be withdraws from the post.

Hours before Korchok’s resignation, President Zuzana Chaputova intervened in the crisis. She called on Matovic, with whom there have been other disputes over the coronavirus crisis in recent months, to resign.

“It is inevitable that the prime minister will allow his resignation to allow agreement between the coalition partners to renovate the cabinet,” she said in a televised address.

Slovak President Zuzana Chaputova

© Associated Press

Slovak President Zuzana Chaputova

In principle, Matovic does not rejects the possibility of resignation. Among the conditions he sets, however, is to get a ministerial post in the future cabinet. Another controversial demand is the withdrawal of some of his fierce opponents in the coalition.

Scandal at a difficult time

“Sputnik V” is not approved by the European Medicines Agency (EMA). This did not stop Hungary from getting doses of it and thus helping its vaccination campaign, which also relies heavily on a Chinese product (another was approved yesterday). The EMA called on the bloc’s countries not to play “Russian roulette” this month by buying Sputnik before the agency has investigated it and given permission.

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The controversy erupted at a time when the country was hit hard by the new wave of the coronavirus pandemic and was among the countries with the most deaths per capita in recent weeks.

Matovic came to power last year on the crest of a wave of discontent after the murder of investigative journalist Jan Kuciak. He vowed to eradicate corruption and the links between politics, justice, police and business. However, his coalition partners point to his style of governing as confrontational and chaotic.

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