Motion to declare Russia sponsor of terrorism voted down
The parliamentary Foreign Policy Committee has voted down a proposal tabled by the opposition Democrats (SDS) to pass a resolution whereby Slovenia would declare Russia a state sponsor of terrorism. A similar resolution was passed by the European Parliament in November.
Instead of the resolution, the committee unanimously carried on 7 March the coalition-sponsored conclusions condemning the Russian war of aggression and calling on the government to continue to provide aid and assistance to Ukraine.
It also called on the government to continue to advocate for a comprehensive, just and lasting peace, and backed the government's efforts in support of independent investigation of war crimes in Ukraine in order to bring those responsible to justice.
The SDS argued that by adopting the resolution, Slovenia would condemn Russia's attacks on Ukrainian civilians, civilian buildings and key energy infrastructure. These are an obvious attempt to achieve political goals by intimidating the civilian population and as such match terrorist methods, the party said.
By passing the resolution, "we would show our support for the Ukrainian nation that is displaying incredible courage in defending its homeland and fighting for the universal values of freedom and democracy, and at the same time condemn the Russian invasion," the party said.
The result of the vote on the Foreign Policy Committee had been expected; the ruling coalition rejected the proposal as soon as it was tabled. Foreign Minister Tanja Fajon said any initiative to put Russia on a list of countries sponsoring terrorism would be tantamount to punishing the entire Russian nation.
Addressing the committee, Foreign Ministry State Secretary Samuel Žbogar reiterated the government's support for Ukraine's independence, sovereignty and territorial integrity, and condemnation of Russian aggression in the strongest terms.
"We express our political support in the EU, NATO, the UN and other international organisations," Žbogar said, adding that Ukraine recognised and appreciated Slovenia's solidarity and assistance. He pledged for Slovenia to continue to provide Ukraine with all-round assistance in the future.
He said there was no category or list of countries that support terrorism in either European or Slovenian legislation. Only seven EU member states have adopted such resolutions so far and even the US, which has a legal basis to do so, has not adopted such a resolution, he said.
Žbogar argued that declaring Russia a state sponsor of terrorism would in legal terms lead to a reduction of Russia's responsibility, because it would reclassify its actions from the most serious international crime, that is aggression, to the lower category of terrorism.
The coalition MPs echoed the government's position, while the opposition called the Foreign Ministry's policy "lukewarm". Former Foreign Minister Anže Logar (SDS) argued that diplomatic pressure on Russia should be stepped up just like sanctions.
Jernej Vrtovec from the New Slovenia (NSi) maintained the resolution should have been adopted because the current government had been sending too many ambiguous statements about the war in Ukraine. He wondered which side Slovenia was on, adding that dialogue with Russia was impossible at this time.
SDS leader Janez Janša drew parallels with the 1991 war in Slovenia; Slovenia was attacked by a similarly organised army with the same symbols as the one now attacking Ukraine. "Whatever the vote will be, it will be noticed both in Kyiv and in Moscow," he said.
The proposed resolution is an expression of solidarity and could help correct "a bad impression", he said, referring to a letter in which several prominent figures, including former President Milan Kučan, called for an end to the war in Ukraine.
Vojko Volk, a state secretary in the prime minister's office, rejected the allegation that statements by government officials were ambiguous. He said the actions of the current government placed Slovenia among the top supporters of Ukraine.