Prime Minister Janša: European leaders are united in our commitment to support and help Ukraine
- Former Prime Minister Janez Janša (2020 - 2022)
European leaders are continuing the informal meeting of the European Council, where the main topics of discussion are the situation in Ukraine and how to strengthen European sovereignty, reduce dependencies, and design a new growth and investment model.
"We need investments to achieve a strategically autonomous EU, which must become a reality," said Prime Minister Janez Janša upon his arrival to the informal meeting, adding that mostly political decisions and commitments are being adopted today. Regarding the war in Ukraine, the Prime Minister said that certain priorities have definitely changed and that, in these new circumstances, it would also be possible to transfer some funds from the RRF fund.
When asked why the leaders were unable to reach an agreement on Ukraine’s EU membership, the Prime Minister said that some European colleagues were focusing on procedures, as if there was no war in Ukraine and as if we were in the golden age of the EU, when 10 new Member States joined the EU. "But today is a new world. In the past two weeks, the war has changed everything, including us, but not enough," he said. He went on to say that Europe was united in its commitment to support Ukraine, to help the refugees, to provide humanitarian aid and military assistance, where "efforts will be increased". On the topic of Ukraine’s EU membership, the Prime Minister said that the leaders had overcome many differences of opinion in the course of discussions but that there was a large discrepancy between the great majority, which included Slovenia, that wanted to send a strong political message to Ukraine, and those who gave priority to procedures. The Prime Minister believes that this message will become a reality at the next European Council meeting or sooner or later, "even though we regret it has not happened already".
"But the situation on the territory of Ukraine and everything that will happen in the coming weeks will do a lot in making the people who are now talking about long procedures realise the importance of EU’s soft power, which will be definitive in the end. If Mr Putin had done more in the last 20 years and more as President and Prime Minister of Russia to make Russia more appealing, perhaps Ukrainians would want to move closer to Russia instead of the EU. But stopping this Ukrainian desire with tanks in the 21st century is completely unacceptable," said the Prime Minister.
"Everything that gives the Ukrainians a stronger hope to hold out and fight naturally has an effect on the course of the war. This war will stop once Ukraine is strong enough to stop the advancing Russian forces. Only then will there be a ceasefire and serious negotiations and a solution that may be an acceptable compromise for everyone. But not before that," said the Prime Minister. He went on to say that "if you listened to the statements of the Russian Minister of Foreign Affairs, Russia is officially denying attacking Ukraine in the first place. As long as someone has that view, it is impossible to expect any serious negotiations or progress towards peace. We are still far from that. Serious negotiations will happen when Ukraine stops the advance of Russian forces and when it is able to better defend its airspace – I am talking about the sky over Ukraine, Russia does not have the authority to make decisions on that – and only then will it be the diplomats turn to speak," said the Prime Minister, adding that what we are seeing now is deception by the Russian Federation to gain time so that their units can reach certain tactical military targets.
He also stressed that it is not the EU that can close its airspace, but that it is a matter of discussions that must take place within NATO. "The airspace over a country can be shut down by someone doing it from the outside using interceptor aircraft, or by giving the country that has sovereignty over that space the means to provide effective anti-aircraft defence. The Ukrainians have some of that, and they are also getting help. But when it comes to the very form of this airspace protection, there are many different modalities. It may be just a humanitarian matter of limited duration, but it may also be the sovereign control of this airspace, to which every sovereign state has the right," said the Prime Minister, adding that for the time being talks are going in the direction of Ukraine becoming strong enough to protect the major settlements from air and ballistic attacks. "If you observe the situation, Russia is making very limited use of state-of-the-art aircraft because it is afraid of losing them, as these cost close to EUR 100 million and any loss of them would weaken Russia’s military power," said the Prime Minister, who also assessed that there was seemingly some Soviet-era mentality in the Kremlin," where they think they have to stand up against everything, even if no one is threatening them." The Prime Minister was also of the opinion that Russian President Putin and Russia are threatened by the possibility of a normal free society being created where governments and presidents change over time and where people want to live in peace, prosperity and freedom.
Last but not least, Prime Minister Janša also spoke about double standards for refugees, i.e. those from Ukraine and those from non-European countries. "There has been a lot of discussion about this, but I think there is no dilemma after what we’ve heard yesterday. We all see that women and children are fleeing Ukraine, and we have heard that they make up to 90% of all refugees, and that among them there are none who fall in the category of economic migrants who take advantage of the plight of others to put their interests first. In the case of refugees from Ukraine, this division of who is a migrant and who is a refugee does not exist in Europe. All countries are recording 100% support to help refugees, which is good because I fear that not only a few million, but 10 to 15 million refugees will be on European soil in the coming weeks if the war does not stop," said the Prime Minister.
With regard to a possible new package of sanctions against Russia, the Prime Minister said that the list of sanctions is very long and that the number of sanctions has not yet been exhausted, but that it is difficult to say what else will be put on this list because most of these sanctions are also coordinated across the Atlantic and with other countries. However, according to the Prime Minister, the fact that 141 countries voted in favour of condemning the Russian aggression against Ukraine at the UN General Assembly and only four supported it says a lot in itself.