Slovakian PM Robert Fico makes first public appearance since assassination attempt

Slovakia's prime minister has appeared in public for the first time since an assassination attempt left him fighting for his life.

Robert Fico was shot four times at close range in mid-May in what prosecutors have described as a terrorist attack.

Speaking from a podium at a castle ruins dating back 11 centuries, Mr Fico hit out at progressive ideologies he said were "spreading like cancer" and hurting the country.

"I don't want Slovakia to be among the countries that make a caricature of Western civilization," he said.

Mr Fico's leftist-nationalist government has quickly shifted policy since taking power last September, including changing some criminal laws and halting military aid to Ukraine.

Opposition parties have battled his government over the changes while the European Union has watched for any damage to rule of law or media freedoms.

His would-be assassin, a man identified as 71-year-old Juraj C, said he had wanted to hurt Mr Fico, but not kill him, over policy disagreements, according to court papers.

The four-time leftist prime minister was shot on 15 May when he greeted supporters at a government meeting in the town of Handlova, leaving him needing hours of surgery.

He has been recovering at home since the end of May.

Mr Fico has faced criticism for views leaning towards Russia, while his foreign minister has met his Russian counterpart.

In his speech, the prime minister reiterated a call for peace talks between Ukraine and Russia.

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He added he would have joined Hungary's Prime Minister Viktor Orban on his controversial trip - which he called a "peace mission" - to Moscow on Friday, if his health allowed.

"There are not enough, I repeat, not enough peace talks, peace initiatives," he said.