Interview with Prime Minister Janez Janša for Indian television channel WION TV (World is One News)
- Former Prime Minister Janez Janša (2020 - 2022)
Today, Prime Minister Janez Janša gave an interview for the Indian television. He spoke about Slovenia's preparation for the Presidency of the Council of the European Union, the priorities during the presidency, the fight against the COVID-19 epidemic, the importance of vaccination in creating a 'new normal', the importance of integration between democratic and sovereign countries and the role of India in this process, the attitude towards China and the atmosphere in Slovenia after the end of the epidemic.
In the interview on WION TV with host Palki Sharma Upadhyay, Prime Minister Janez Janša talked about Slovenia's preparations for the Presidency of the Council of the European Union, and said that the problems that Europe was facing and that everyone would have to deal with are the result of the epidemic. "The key words for the period after the epidemic are recovery and reconstruction." In the Prime Minister's opinion, the European Union has adopted an ambitious economic recovery plan based on its own financial resources and apart from capacity-building this is one of the priorities of the Slovenian presidency. He went on to say that we are in the midst of discussions about the future of Europe as the Conference on the Future of Europe started several weeks ago and a major part of the Conference will coincide with the Slovenian Presidency of the Council of the European Union. On this issue, the Slovenian Prime Minister expressed his hope that Slovenia would be capable of managing the tasks ahead and that the circumstances would allow for actual in-person meetings and not only audio/video conferencing.
The discussion also focused on the epidemic and vaccination. Prime Minister Janša emphasised that we have now reached the point in Europe where the available quantities of vaccines have started to exceed demand, and that assuring an adequate vaccine supply was absolutely essential to preparing for new variants of the virus and to providing sufficient vaccination coverage of the population. He described the development of a range of vaccines against COVID-19 in one year as a miracle, given that in the past it typically took ten or more years to develop vaccines and assessed the use of joint contracts with suppliers as positive, even though some of them failed to fulfil their contractual obligations. Despite this, for smaller member states the common approach proved to be more successful. In this way, Europe will also be able to contribute much more to other countries.
In the interview, Prime Minister Janša emphasised that Slovenia is currently celebrating the 30th anniversary of its independence and unity and that during all these 30 years it has been striving for democratisation. He pointed out that 30 years ago we were dreaming about Europe and that the quality of life had improved considerably over these years and that in a few days Slovenia will hold the Presidency of the Council of the EU for the second time.
The Slovenian Prime Minister and his host also touched upon the issue of the Slovenian Press Agency. Prime Minister Janša pointed out that the Government had passed a decree on the public service provided by the Slovenian Press Agency which specifies the method of the Agency's financing. He expressed surprise at the fact that news about this had reached India. In the interview he also spoke about the freedom of speech and the freedom of the media. He pointed out that the freedom of speech has priority over the freedom of the media and that media freedom is at a very high level in Slovenia. In his opinion the Twitter social network also contributes to the freedom of expression. As regards the protests that take place in Slovenia every Friday, Prime Minister Janša said that they also took place during the epidemic, that they were directed against masks, vaccination and other measures and did not contribute to curbing the epidemic. On the annulment of the procedure and the non-appointment of European Delegated Prosecutors he explained that this is a non-binding form of cooperation and a free decision of Slovenia, that mistakes had been made and that Slovenia would resolve them shortly.
The Prime Minister also touched on the need for integration between free and democratic countries and also discussed countries with authoritarian regimes. He mentioned the European Union's attitude towards China, stressing that Europe has not done enough to stem the growing threat from China. If free and democratic countries are strong in their relation to China and maintain their values, they can cooperate peacefully with China, which, however, must know where the boundaries lie. "I am not against economic cooperation with China, but I am against 'crossing the boundaries'." He said that in the European Union there is talk of strategic autonomy. When the epidemic began, everything that was needed was produced in China, not in Europe. "Europe is building capacity to produce personal protective equipment, critical medical equipment, vaccines, and everything that is urgently needed in a crisis so that it will not be dependent on other parts of the world." He also said that the European Union had put its economic interests before its values, and that this trend should be reversed and values should come first. "We must focus on the future and should not forget our values while doing so."
Cybersecurity is another of the priorities for the next six months. "We need to prepare countries for modern civilisation, cyberattacks that may do more damage than conventional weapons." The discussion on this has started, he felt, but we are not yet where we should be. Despite this, he remains optimistic that the situation in this area will change in the next few years and the boundaries will be clearly defined. After that, real negotiations with China can begin, which is crucial for securing world peace.
In 'the democratic bloc', the United States is the most important country, but in his view, we are not facing the same situation as during the Cold War. Back then the US was strong enough to deal with nuclear and other threats on its own. The situation today is different; changes are only possible through the joint efforts of the US, the EU, India, Japan, Australia and other democratic countries. He believes that this is where India can play a key role. "We need a flexible alliance that India is also part of." Negotiations between the European Union and India continue; this is not just about their economic interests but also about their strategic interests. In this regard, he mentioned the informal meeting of the European Council and the EU–India Summit, which took place in Porto, Portugal, in May at which European leaders and the Indian Prime Minister exchanged views on key foreign policy topics.
At the end of the interview for the Indian television channel, he touched on the digital COVID certificate, which will facilitate the free movement of citizens within the European Union as well as arrivals from other countries. Arrivals will be possible from all other countries that use standards similar to those we use in the fight against the COVID-19 epidemic (vaccination, testing and a digital certificate that confirms this). In closing, he spoke about the end of the epidemic in Slovenia, stating that the public mood was good, that vaccine dose shipments were increasing, that Slovenia was preparing for the 30th anniversary of its independence, that summer was on the way and people are getting ready to go on holiday, and that the Government had passed an intervention act that included issuing citizens with vouchers they can spend on tourism and cultural services.