May 23. 2024. 7:42

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Slovaks rally behind arms fundraiser for Ukraine, defying Fico’s government


To support the Czech initiative to aid Ukraine, which the Slovak government refused to join, Slovak organisations launched a fundraising campaign called “Ammunition for Ukraine,” which raised over €700,000 in just two days.

Despite more than 20 countries joining the Czech global initiative to purchase ammunition for Kyiv, the Slovak government decided not to take part as it claims the conflict “does not have a military solution” and “sending weapons to Ukraine is only prolonging the war.”

However, Slovaks, who disagree with the government’s stance, have taken matters into their own hands by launching a fundraising campaign to join the Czech initiative instead of their officials.

“We cannot accept the fact that our government refuses to aid our neighbour. Let us prove that Slovakia is not cowardly and stands on the right side of history with a civic fundraising for ammunition. Let’s help Ukraine despite our pro-Russian government,” the organisers wrote on the fundraising’s official website, launched on Tuesday.

The fundraising campaign results from the combined efforts of several organisations and activists with years of experience helping Ukraine, including Mier Ukrajine, Darček pre Putina, Donio, and All4Ukraine.

Many public figures have also backed the campaign, including the almost 100-year-old Otto Šimko, a former partisan and prisoner of the German occupiers during the Second World War.

“It was impossible to negotiate with the aggressors; they had to be defeated. This experience from World War II also applies to Ukraine,” Šimko says in the video supporting the initiative.

The fundraiser was also backed by former foreign minister and pro-Western diplomat Ivan Korčok, who lost to Peter Pellegrini in the final round of the presidential race on 6 April.

“Why did I support this collection? It’s simple. Our closest neighbour was attacked; he is defending himself, and that is not possible without armaments. The war can end immediately – when Russia stops its aggression. Supporting Ukraine is not prolonging the war, it is supporting the existence of a neighbour,” Korčok wrote on social media.

In contrast, government officials commenting on the initiative are not so keen.

Labour and Employment Minister Erik Tomá (Hlas) said he would “probably not contribute” to fundraising.

“We all want peace as quickly as possible,” he said, adding that sending ammunition to Ukraine “does not mean a quick peace.”

Environment Minister Tomáš Taraba (for SNS) said he will not support the fundraising, telling journalists, “Go to Ukraine, take a submachine gun, who are you moralising?”

After one journalist replied he had indeed reported from Ukraine, the minister advised him to “sell his apartment and all the property and contribute to the fundraising himself.”

Slovaks have raised money to help Kyiv several times in the past and have already purchased ambulances, a mine-clearing vehicle and an armoured reconnaissance vehicle for the war-torn country.

(Natália Silenská | Euractiv.sk)

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