Ljubljana – The main priority of Slovenia’s energy and foreign policies under current circumstances must be efforts to secure natural gas supplies for the next winter, Robert Golob, the head of the Freedom Movement party, said on Wednesday. Since energy supply has become a matter of national security, the focus should be on renewable energy sources, he noted.
In addition to the economy, energy is the area where Slovenia feels the most direct fallout due to Russia’s attack on Ukraine, Golob, who is considered the main rival of Prime Minister Janez Janša in the coming April election, said at today’s press conference in Ljubljana.
“According to our calculations, which I’m sure are very accurate, the direct extra cost that Slovenia will have to pay for the import of energy products (…) solely due to the aggression and the increase in energy prices will be almost EUR 2 billion per year,” he said.
Natural gas accounts for the largest part of this cost, he added, as Slovenia has no strategic reserves in this field. The country is completely dependent on imports both when it comes to natural gas and oil, but regarding the latter, it at least has stocks that would last 90 days and can intervene in the market and regulate prices, he noted.
Taking action to provide enough supply of natural gas in the future is not just a matter of energy policy but also of foreign policy since not even a country as big as Germany can tackle this alone. Slovenia should join concerted efforts to address this, he said.
Golob believes that Slovenia “completely unwisely” abandoned Algerian gas in the past and failed to take advantage of the fact that there is an LNG terminal on Croatia’s island of Krk.
He called on the government to take measures to ensure natural gas supply for the next winter and make Slovenia self-sufficient in energy and food. Even when peace is established in Ukraine, which he thinks is not likely to happen soon, energy prices and supplies will remain on the current level due to risks.
Slovenia would have to follow the example set by Germany and acknowledge that energy supply has become a matter of national security. As a result, it should cut red tape and step up the deployment of sustainable energy, he said.
He believes that Slovenia should better capitalise on the Krk terminal and seek opportunities for supply via Italy, while at the same time strive to reduce gas consumption.
Golob also noted that according to opinion polls, a fifth of the electorate had confidence in his party. He announced that he would stand as a candidate in the 24 April election in Ljubljana alongside nuclear safety expert Miroslav Gregorič and Tereza Novak, the head of the Slovenian Philanthropy.
Golob expects that recovery and the government’s response to the humanitarian, energy and economic crises that are looming will be among the themes of the election campaign. Novak thinks that Slovenia should set up a unified aid system to help refugees and come up with a plan to include migrants and refugees in demographic policy. Gregorič meanwhile said that nuclear safety authorities were closely monitoring developments in Ukraine and that all contingency plans were in place in case of escalation.
His party condemned Russia’s aggression against Ukraine and welcomed the resolution on the situation in Ukraine that was adopted by the parliament today. Their basic principle and the one they call on all political stakeholders to uphold remains the search for a solution and to establish peace.
The Freedom Movement expects that the parliamentary Foreign Policy Committee will soon adopt a clear position urging all politicians to refrain from any actions or statements that would lead to an escalation of the war.