Ljubljana – PM Janez Janša said that the EU should ensure to Ukraine the prospect of full EU membership as soon as possible, as he addressed the press on Thursday afternoon to speak about developments in the wake of Russia’s aggression on Ukraine following a government session on the Ukraine situation and before tonight’s EU summit.
He said the letter he and his Polish counterpart Mateusz Morawiecki had addressed to the EU and the European Council, in which they called for Ukraine’s EU accession by 2030, had been endorsed by several EU prime ministers last night and today.
Weapons and the army or the will to defend one’s homeland is not enough, what is also important is the morale to give the will to win, which is why Janša and Morawiecki had sent the letter to the EU to ensure to Ukraine a prospect of full EU membership in a swift procedure.
Janša said they will try to convince EU enlargement sceptics at tonight’s summit “that the time has run out for long reflections, that the geostrategic situation is different now, that we have awaken into a different world and Europe, and that we need brave decisions”.
Wearing a blue-yellow tie in the colours of Ukrainian flag at the news conference, he said that “history over the past two decades has taught us that if the EU doesn’t expand, if the space of freedom and democracy doesn’t expand, somebody else does”.
He believes that what the world and Europe need is a political agreement that would give Ukraine but also Moldova, Georgia and Western Balkan countries the hope of promptly joining the EU. However, “this hope is of course realistic only if Ukraine manages to defend itself.”
Ukrainian counterpart Denis Shmygal told Janša during their phone call earlier in the day the goal of Russian’s attack was to replace the elected government and president with a pro-Russian puppet government.
Shmygal also told Janša that Ukraine was fighting and needed help, said Janša, adding that providing Ukraine help was by far the most important thing in the short-term.
Janša’s visit to Kyiv scheduled for today and tomorrow has not been cancelled but only postponed due to the EU summit and the security situation. “It’s very likely that it won’t be possible tomorrow.”
Turning to sanctions against Russia that had already been adopted and those that are being prepared, Janša said they were no piece of cake.
While economic sanctions usually hurt both sides, it is totally clear that in this case Russia will be the loser in the medium term.
He stressed the sanctions are not targeting the Russian people but the “unreasonable, reckless, aggressive policy” of the current Russian authorities.
According to Janša, the current level of unity at the levels of EU and NATO is unprecedented. “Those in the Kremlin who have further exposed their goals with this aggressive move had it all wrong.”
He also said that “a decision is maturing in the EU that we have to become independent of Russian energy”.
What is more, “one has also realised that in such times we need a real military power to be able to protect the area of democracy and freedom within the EU and NATO”.
The government assessed the level of direct threat to Slovenia as it met today over the situation in Ukraine.
The assessment is that there is no direct threat for military clashes in Slovenia, so the level of combat readiness of the Slovenian army has not been raised.
However, the country has introduced certain staff to be on duty so that if necessary, further measures could be taken “in real time”.
There is a chance of cyber attacks, of which managers of critical infrastructure have been notified, while individuals as users of mobile telephony are also vulnerable, Janša warned.
The government decided to inform the parliamentary defence and foreign policy committees of its decisions and assessments as soon as possible.
Slovenian citizens currently in Ukraine are safe and in contact with the embassy there, and there is no information that anyone has gone missing or has been wounded.
There are also some Slovenian businessmen there, and the government is trying to get in contact with those it has not contacted yet. “We’re working on it so that no Slovenian citizens is forgotten in this situation.”
Recalling that 30 years ago the Slovenians were in a similar situation, he said “we know how the Ukrainians feel, so our expressions of solidarity come from the heart”.