Ljubljana – President Borut Pahor said the Russian aggression against Ukraine has confirmed the need for Slovenia to have a highly trained and professional army, as he addressed via video call Slovenian soldiers serving in missions abroad alongside Defence Minister Marjan Šarec on Wednesday.
Pahor, supreme commander of the Slovenian Armed Forces, said this is the first time that the videoconference with troops serving abroad is being held amid a war in Europe.
“Slovenia has already condemned the war in Ukraine and is trying to shorten it with sanctions. We’re working for peace, which has to be just peace”, he said.
“We must not let Ukraine down, because that would be to let down our values … and in this way we would indirectly and perhaps even directly endanger ourselves.”
The commanders of the Slovenian contingents meanwhile reported about the different security risks in international operations and missions where they are serving, assessing that all contingents are adequately equipped and trained for the tasks they have, which they carry out smoothly.
High security risks were highlighted in Iraq and Mali, in particular due to the unstable political situation, terrorism and the risk of coups d’état.
The situation is stable in Bosnia-Herzegovina, but could soon deteriorate due to the upcoming anniversary of the Srebrenica genocide and October’s general elections.
All commanders pointed out that the war in Ukraine had led to increased attention and caution on the part of the troops.
Both President Pahor and Minister Šarec stressed the role of such videoconferences with the troops in international operations and missions, which have been held twice a year for a decade. They are an opportunity for commanders to report on the situation on the ground, the tasks of the contingents, and their equipment and training.
“You are doing an extremely important job in maintaining peace, security and stability in all the areas where you operate,” Šarec said.
Pahor thanked the soldiers for their professional and dedicated work, which has earned the Slovenian army a high reputation in the international community.
He is particularly happy that during the two decades of Slovenian troops’ deployments abroad, soldiers have always returned home safe and sound.
Slovenian soldiers were first sent abroad in 1997, to the humanitarian operation Alba in Albania.
Currently, nearly 300 troops are serving in international operations and missions in Bosnia, Kosovo, Serbia, Mali, Lebanon, Syria, Italy, Iraq, Latvia and Slovakia.