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Prime Minister Janez Janša discusses Russian aggression against Ukraine in an interview for Bloomberg TV

  • Former Prime Minister Janez Janša (2020 - 2022)

Prime Minister Janez Janša today, on the margins of the informal meeting of the European Council, gave an interview for Bloomberg TV, in which he spoke primarily about the war in Ukraine.

Journalist Maria Tadeo first asked the Prime Minister whether the Russian attack on the maternity hospital in Mariupol could be considered a war crime. "It is a war crime, which is very clear, although Russia is denying it. We have seen such horrifying pictures in recent history in Vukovar, in Sarajevo, and the same denying and the same propaganda, but we must not tolerate this. We have to do much more than we have been doing," said the Prime Minister.

According to Mr Janša, the discussion on the importing of energy products from Russia is on the table and there is no question whether the ban on imports will happen, the question is when it will happen. Our proposal is that this is done as soon as possible. "We must stop the importing of energy products from Russia into the EU as soon as possible. We know that we will suffer for a certain period, but we need to do it as quickly as possible. Europe is prepared for this situation and is also strong enough to stabilise. Russia is not in a position to blackmail us in the long term," said the Prime Minister.

"We have to be aware that we are already paying the price for these developments. The prices of natural gas are skyrocketing and this money actually goes to Gazprom. So we are buying weapons for Russians who then shell towns like Mariupol," said the Prime Minister. He added that Europe had waited too long as regards natural gas supply. "The stocks of natural gas in EU territory are greater than Russia would like them to be. The Russians have been slowly reducing the stocks in the last month in preparation for war. This was a clear sign that something was happening. Winter is now behind us and the main problem regarding the import of gas from Russia is how to prepare for the next winter," said the Prime Minister, adding that he believes that we have enough time for this, as the EU has its own resources. "Of course, it will not be easy, but together we can do it," he assessed, adding that the situation in Slovenia is not much different than in Germany, Hungary, Slovakia or Bulgaria. "No one can do this alone. But together we can manage it," he was clear.

On the future of Ukraine in the EU, the Prime Minister said that there were two issues on the table in this respect. One is the issue of supporting the Ukrainian struggle, Ukrainian independence and Ukrainian territorial integrity, as well as of helping Ukrainians in the humanitarian crisis by taking in refugees and providing technical assistance. "On these issues, the message is strong: no country is against it," the Prime Minister said. As regards Ukraine’s European perspective and Ukraine’s full EU membership, however, the Prime Minister explained that there are some differences of opinion between EU leaders, as some of them are demanding that we send a strong political message and accept Ukraine into the EU by way of a political declaration, while other colleagues are still insisting on following the procedures, as if there were "no storm upon us".

Asked whether Russian President Vladimir Putin wants to re-establish the Soviet Union, the Prime Minister responded that Putin was walking that path at great speed. "It is not a question of what Putin wants to do in the future, because he is already doing it now," the Prime Minister said.  "We need to understand that he will go as far as possible, especially if he manages to take over Ukraine, which is the fourth richest country in terms of natural resources and is therefore more than just a territory and a few million people," said Prime Minister Janša. According to the Prime Minister, a specific question should be addressed to President Putin: "You have been president for more than 20 years, and a president of a very rich country at that, but after all this time, the average salary in Russia is still €600. Why have you not created a country that would be more attractive to Ukrainians than the European Union? You have had every opportunity, and now you have sent tanks over to Ukraine," the Prime Minister said.   "We have been watching the Ukrainian struggle for the last 15 days and the fact is that Ukraine will continue to fight. Putin’s strategic goal of taking over Ukraine, changing the government and changing the country will not be achieved. At some point, he will have to start negotiating, and at that time it will be up to the West to remain firm and stand by the sanctions it has adopted and not to give in just because Putin wants to negotiate," concluded the Prime Minister.