As Fico Fights For Life, Orban Frets Over Fate of Key Ally

(Bloomberg) -- Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban said he has found himself more isolated within the European Union after an assassination attempt incapacitated his Slovak ally.

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Slovak Premier Robert Fico’s injuries remained life-threatening even as his condition stabilized since being shot on Wednesday. A medical team is scheduled to convene Monday to discuss his treatment, according to a hospital spokesperson in the central city of Banska Bystrica, where he is in intensive care. Doctors may also discuss Fico’s transport to Bratislava, local media reported.

The first assassination attempt on a European leader in more than 20 years has sent shockwaves through one of the continent’s most polarized countries. Fico’s return to power last year as a force of opposition to EU institutions in Brussels and his Russia-friendly stance made him a rare ally for Orban, a perennial dissenter who has sought to push back against against military aid to Ukraine.

“Robert Fico is fighting for his life right now,” Orban said in an interview with state radio Friday. “If we go beyond the human element and look at it from a political viewpoint it’s a major loss for Hungary.”

Peter Pellegrini, a Fico coalition ally who is set to take office as president next month, said late on Thursday that he met the premier briefly at the hospital. “He remembers everything, and he was surprised at how quickly it happened,” Pellegrini said on TV.

The authorities said the attack was an act of a “lone wolf” assailant driven by political animus.

Read more: Slovak Premier in Critical Condition as Leaders Trade Blame

The Slovak prime minister will be away from his office at a crucial time before elections for European Parliament next month, Orban said. He portrayed the attack against Fico as part of Europe’s polarization over the question of the war in Ukraine, adding that he’s seeking new allies within the bloc over the issue.

Orban, who is unexpectedly facing a new challenger in Hungarian politics just weeks before the election, has used the war in neighboring Ukraine as his main campaign theme. He stuck to that line in his comments on Fico, trying to pin blame on his opponents in domestic and EU politics.

“It’s not unjustified to link the assassination attempt with the war,” Orban said.

(Updates with latest on Fico’s medical condition in second paragraph)

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