The Slovak prime minister, Robert Fico, has blamed the country’s opposition for fostering the “hatred” that led to his assassination attempt in his first appearance since he was seriously wounded in a shooting three weeks ago.

In a pre-recorded speech posted on Facebook on Wednesday, in the run-up to the European elections, Fico described the shooter as an “activist of the Slovak opposition … a messenger of evil and political hatred that the politically unsuccessful and frustrated opposition has fanned to unmanageable proportions”.

“The opposition will have to think about this. If it continues as it is now, the horror of 15 May, which you all had the opportunity to see practically live, will continue and there will be more victims,” he added in a 14-minute speech posted on Facebook.

Seemingly in good shape, Fico promised to be back at work at the end of June or beginning of July, and said he felt “no hatred” towards his attacker. “I forgive him,” he said, adding that he planned no legal action against the assailant.

Fico has been recovering from multiple wounds after being shot in the abdomen as he greeted supporters on 15 May in the town of Handlová, about 140km (85 miles) north-east of the capital, Bratislava.

Slovakian police have identified the suspect as 71-year-old Juraj Cintula, an erratic pensioner and amateur poet who criticised Fico’s policies.

At the time of the shooting, the country’s interior minister described Cintula as a “lone wolf” who was not affiliated with any political groups, but had recently become radicalised. But Fico in his video message contradicted his minister, saying he did not believe the shooter was just a “lone madman”.

Fico on Wednesday also repeated his earlier views of Russia’s war on Ukraine and other issues that sharply differ from the European mainstream.

Last month’s shooting of the divisive populist leader occurred amid deep political frictions in Slovakia, as Fico’s critics accused him of going against the country’s democratic institutions.

The incident also highlighted what officials and many Slovaks believe to be a broader symptom of the country’s polarised and violent political environment.

After the assassination attempt, observers speculated as to whether Fico would choose the path of further division or whether surviving the shooting would spur him to soften his combative approach.

Journalists in the country have expressed fear that the shooting could lead to even more polarisation and a crackdown on independent voices.

Fico’s address on Wednesday appears to indicate that the Slovakian is eager to double down on his previous policies before the European elections, in which his Smer party and the main opposition, Progressive Slovakia, are locked in a tight race.

Associated Press contributed to this report