Brussels – Slovenia has the capacity to accommodate between 180,000 and 200,000 refugees from Ukraine, Interior Minister Aleš Hojs said on Sunday. “At least this is what we have discussed in the past few days,” he told the press after an informal session of the EU’s interior ministers on Sunday.
Hojs noted that the figure is based on experience from the Yugoslav wars in the early 1990s, when Slovenia hosted more than 300,000 refugees from the Yugoslav republics.
The minister later clarified on Twitter that such a high figure would only be possible in the event of a “complete exodus from Ukraine, which is not likely.”
Realistically, the actual number will therefore be “lower by a factor of ten or more” and would be determined in agreement with other EU members.
Slovenia has expressed willingness to take in Ukrainian refugees since the start of the Russian invasion but had not put forward any specific figures.
Hojs said Slovenia would “take care of them to the best of our abilities” given that they come from the immediate neighbourhood.
The government today activated emergency phone numbers where those interested in offering assistance can turn. It expects several dozen calls in the first hours, whereupon the number could rise significantly.
European Commission figures show more than 300,000 Ukrainian refugees have already entered the EU, the majority entering through Poland.
At the meeting Slovenia also endorsed the first ever activation of the 2001 directive on temporary protection in the event of a mass influx of displaced persons.
While the directive is slightly outdated, its activation is exceptionally important and Slovenia has already initiated all activities associated with this directive such as preparing accommodation for refugees, Hojs said.
One thing the directive makes possible is to relocate refugees between member states. The ministers did not discuss specific figures today but Hojs said this would “not be problematic for Slovenia” since it is willing to accept significantly more refugees than an EU deal would require.
The minister also called for stricter visa sanctions against Russia. “Until each individual Russian citizen feels what a mad president they have, a mass movement against the authoritarian system will not have arisen.
Another issue on the agenda today was the risk of hybrid attacks. Slovenia has so far not detected major hybrid threats but Hojs said all the competent services were fully prepared to prevent attacks on Slovenian infrastructure to the maximum possible extent.
Asked whether Slovenia was also willing to supply arms to Ukraine, the minister said the government had already adopted a decree to that effect but this was confidential information that the public was not privy to.