Support for Ukraine’s fight at Ljubljana rally

Ljubljana – The second rally in support of Ukraine in two days was held in Ljubljana on Wednesday with senior government officials condemning Russia’s aggression and highlighting that Ukraine was fighting not just for itself but for freedom and democracy throughout Europe.

The rally was organised by the Ljubljana-Kyiv Cultural Association, the Ukrainian diaspora and Ukraine’s embassy and featured speeches by Prime Minister Janez Janša, deputy prime ministers Matej Tonin and Zdravko Počivalšek, National Council President Alojz Kovšca, and Ukrainian Ambassador Mykhailo Brodovych.

Ambassador Brodovych said Russian President Vladimir Putin wanted to punish Ukraine and its people for their Euro-Atlantic aspirations and desire to be part of the European family as he vowed that Ukrainians will “fight and defend our homeland”.

He also thanked the people of Slovenia and the government for “determination, patriotism and support.”

Prime Minister Janez Janša said that soldiers as well as civilians were dying in Ukraine fighting “not only for freedom, democracy and a European future, but for survival.”

He praised the bravery of Ukrainians standing up to Russian tanks with their bare hands and drew parallels with Slovenia’s independence war.

“When Slovenians saw and felt that we are united and brave, we knew we would succeed. But we still remember the tensions, threats and victims. This is why we know how the Ukrainians feel, hence the solidarity with them.”

The prime minister singled out Ukrainian ore deposits, nuclear energy and fertile land as the reasons why Russia has attacked. He is convinced that those who think Putin should be appeased “have learnt nothing from history.”

If Putin captures Ukraine, Georgia, Moldova and Baltic countries will be next, and perhaps other parts of Europe as well, he said.

Defence Minister Tonin similarly said that Ukraine’s survival would mark the survival of freedom and democracy. “Every day that the Ukrainian people persevere, we are closer to victory and peace.”

According to Economy Minister Počivalšek, Slovenians know, perhaps better than some other nations, that there is only one way – for the whole world to unite and stop the rampage. “I’m very glad that we are united in the EU,” he said.

Slovenia’s unity was also highlighted by Kovšca, who said Europe was “determined to defend the freedom of the world.” It will pay the price in the form of higher energy prices, but “we will not let the dominoes of freedom and democracy fall.”

Yevgeny Goreshnyk of the Ljubljana-Kyiv Cultural Association stressed that Ukraine wanted to become a member of the EU and thanked Slovenia, in particular Janša for his advocacy of Ukraine’s EU membership.

A statement by Ukrainian Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal was read and in it he mentioned yesterday’s destruction of the Slovenian consulate in Kharkiv. “Dear Janez, we will rebuild it together as a EU family. We are ready,” he said.

The rally followed a similar gathering in Ljubljana yesterday that was organised by over thirty civil society organisations.