The Slovenia Times

Slovenian prime minister visits Ukraine

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky (left) and Slovenian Prime Minister Robert Golob (right) at a ceremony marking a year since the liberation of Bucha. Photo: Nebojša Tejić/STA

Slovenian Prime Minister Robert Golob paid an unannounced visit to Ukraine on 31 March, his first to the war-torn country. Talks with President Volodymyr Zelensky and Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal focused on Slovenia's potential participation in the post-war reconstruction of Ukraine and the country's progress towards EU and NATO membership.

Golob told Zelensky that Slovenia was interested in participating in the recovery of Ukraine, especially Kharkiv province. Kharkiv and Slovenia's second largest city of Maribor have been twinned since 2012, and the building housing the Slovenian consulate there was destroyed by a Russian rocket in the very first days of the attack on Ukraine.

Discussing Ukraine's progress in the expected accession to the EU and NATO, Golob said "Slovenia welcomes the European Council's decision to grant the candidate status to Ukraine." This is an important signal to the Ukrainian people that the Russian aggression would not stop their hope of living in a free and democratic world, he said.

Golob also met Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal to express full support for the Ukrainian political leadership and solidarity with the Ukrainian nation. He thanked Ukraine for supporting Slovenia's bid to become a non-permanent member of the UN Security Council in 2024-2025.

The prime minister attended alongside Croatian Prime Minister Andrej Plenković, Slovak Prime Minister Eduard Heger and Moldovan President Maia Sandu a ceremony in Bucha commemorating the civilian victims of the war on the first anniversary of the city's liberation.

He said that innocent people had been brutalised by Russian forces and that war must not be an excuse for lawlessness and impunity.

"It is not easy to be in this place. Hearing about what happened here is one thing, but to actually be here and feel it is another. And when you experience that, you think about a lot of things," Golob said, delivering part of his speech in Ukrainian.

While this is Golob's first visit to Ukraine, other senior Slovenian officials have been there in recent months, most recently Defence Minister Marjan Šarec in November and Foreign Minister Tanja Fajon last summer.

Soon after the invasion Janez Janša, prime minister at the time, went to Kyiv with the prime ministers of Czechia and Poland for what was the first visit by senior western officials after the start of the war.

Slovenia has repeatedly said it will assist Ukraine in any way and as long as possible. Government data shows the country has so far secured almost EUR 30 million in aid, ranging from humanitarian and material assistance to direct aid to Ukrainian refugees in Slovenia.

Additionally, Slovenia has donated 35 M80A infantry fighting vehicles and 28 upgraded M-55S tanks, along with some ammunition, equipment that Ukraine has already put to use. It will shortly join the joint procurement of ammunition agreed by EU member states and Norway.

Just today Slovenia donated a mobile laboratory for water testing, which enables analysis of water within 24 hours in terms of its suitability for drinking and washing.


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