Minister indicates state might help business hit by war in Ukraine

Podlehnik – Economy Minister Zdravko Počivalšek has indicated businesses hit by the war in Ukraine and sanctions against Russia might get state aid if that should prove necessary, but said it would be premature to talk of any concrete plans.

“The situation over Ukraine and Russia is difficult, for several reasons,” the minister said on Wednesday during a visit to the north-east of the country, pointing to direct and indirect damage.

“Our volume of trade with the Russian Federation in 2020 was 1.35 billion and with Ukraine it was just below EUR 300 million and the damage done now is two-fold,” he said.

“There’s direct damage to companies that cannot go to Ukraine logistically or to Russia because of the sanctions. On the other side, our economy is part of European flows and the EU is again a strong partner of those two countries.”

Počivalšek repeated that the relevant companies had been forewarned to get ready for potential sanctions and most did, “but fact is we cannot expect quick solutions due to the scale of the conflict”.

Asked by the STA how the state could help mitigate the consequences sustained by Slovenian companies, he said it was too early too talk of concrete plans until the impact was analysed and the figures were available.

“Not all industries will be affected by sanctions – at least not the pharmaceutical – ” so analysis was needed and potential aid would go in several directions.

“First of all, given the scale of this conflict, the story will have to be worked out in such a way that they will have to orient themselves towards some more stable markets in the long term.”

He added that “nothing has happened yet at the moment, the damage is only starting to be done”.

Počivalšek would not “speculate” about proposals for Slovenia to build a liquefied natural gas terminal in Istria, but said he would “support any solution that will make it possible to disperse our energy dependence on one country alone”.

He also said the country’s energy supplies were solid at the moment.

Referring to high energy prices, he indicated the state might intervene again if necessary. “As of this moment there is no need yet,” he said. Meanwhile, he does not expect disruption to food supplies.