Parties welcoming of Ukrainian refugees

Ljubljana – All but one parliamentary party welcomed Slovenia’s offer to accept Ukrainian refugees, although there was some scepticism whether the country has the capacity or would even need to take in between 180,000 and 200,000 as suggested by Interior Minister Aleš Hojs. The opposition also raised unequal treatment of refugees depending on their origin.

Danijel Krivec, the head of the MPs of the ruling Democratic Party (SDS), said the number 200,000 was “quite an exaggeration”. It was more likely the country would take in 20,000 refugees, also because other countries have expressed willingness to take refugees.

Similarly, Gregor Perič, a fellow coalition member from Concretely, described 200,000 as the maximum number of refugees “Slovenia could cope with in a certain period”. He too believes a lower figure is likely more realistic.

The centre-left opposition hailed Slovenia’s solidarity and readiness to help refugees even as Marjan Šarec, the leader of the LMŠ party, was doubtful Slovenia is in fact capable of taking such a number.

By contrast, Matjaž Han, the leader of the deputy group of the Social Democrats (SD), believes the figure might even be too small if the situation in Ukraine does not de-escalate.

“If there’s need to take in 200,000 people fleeing war, as they have fled war from Afghanistan and Syria, it’s right Slovenia should accept them,” said Matej T. Vatovec of the Left and SAB leader Alenka Bratušek concurred.

Meanwhile, Zmago Jelinčič the leader of the National Party (SNS), said it was irrational to pledge such a figure in advance, arguing Slovenia was already burdened by refugees from African and Arab countries and an extra 200,000 would bring down the country’s economy.

The centre-left parties accused the government of duplicity for differentiating between the refugees fleeing Ukraine and those who had fled Afghanistan and Syria in the past.

Krivec said it was not possible to make differences between refugees on general but specific circumstances had to be looked upon objectively. He said this time the structure was different as it was mainly women and children who fled.

Perič noted a difference between refugees and economic migrants. He also believes that the EU and Slovenia will respond much differently now than in the 2015 refugee crisis as they have learnt a lot since then.

The centre-left also berated PM Janez Janša for appealing for a protest in support of Ukraine, which they believe demonstrates the government’s double standards given its past opposition to anti-government protests.

A rally in support of Ukraine is perfectly legitimate, but “Janša is the last person to be calling for this gathering considering he had been suppressing the right to assembly for two years”, said Šarec.

Janja Sluga of the group of non-affiliated MPs doubts the honesty of Janša’s intentions, but rather sees the invitation as an attempt to divert the attention away “from the government’s mistakes ahead of the election”.

Krivec said the rally was not being organised by the SDS, as he noted that similar rallies are being held across Europe. “Attention must be drawn to this and the issue made clear in people’s minds, to prepare in some way for other consequences if this conflict does not de-escalate,” he said.