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NATO chief 'appalled' by shooting of Slovak premier

Anadolu Agency WORLD
Published May 16,2024

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg on Thursday said he is "appalled" by the shooting of Slovakia's prime minister a day ago.

"We are all appalled by the shooting of Prime Minister Robert Fico," Stoltenberg said in his opening remarks at the Military Committee in Chiefs of Defense meeting.

He said he worked with Fico for almost 20 years as colleagues when they were both prime ministers years ago.

"It violates every idea of democracy," he said regarding the shooting. "In democracies, we can disagree, we can have different opinions, but violence is absolutely unacceptable."

"So our thoughts are with the Prime Minister Robert Fico, his family and the people of Slovakia," he added.

Fico remains in critical condition following an assassination attempt that unfolded Wednesday in the town of Handlova.

The prime minister was shot multiple times while engaging with supporters outside a cultural center after a government meeting.

Defense Minister Robert Kalinak on Thursday said doctors spent the night "fighting for his life."

A 71-year-old suspect is currently in custody, though authorities are still piecing together the motive behind the attack.

The meeting in Brussels was chaired by NATO Military Committee Chairman Adm. Rob Bauer and was attended by the chiefs of staff of 32 member states and Stoltenberg. It is the last time Stoltenberg will take part in the session before his term ends later this year.

Topics to be discussed include support for Ukraine and NATO's transformation path, including putting more troops on higher readiness, capability building and development, and more collective defense exercises and training.

Bauer, in his opening remarks, said: "If (allies) faced with a choice between meeting the NATO capability targets or supporting Ukraine … should support Ukraine. Stocks can and will be replenished. Lives lost, are lost forever."

Kaynak: AA_ING