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A Wide Range of Signatories From the Left and the Right Rejected Kučan’s Initiative: Peace Can Only Be Achieved by Supporting Ukrainian Defence!

After a group of prominent intellectuals and politicians, which – unsurprisingly – also included Milan Kučan, called on the current Prime Minister to “form a reasonable position on the war in Ukraine,” thus indirectly calling for “disarmament of Ukraine,” this initiative has been destroyed by the letter of an even larger group of intellectuals with various political views, which was addressed to Prime Minister Robert Golob and Minister of Foreign Affairs, Tanja Fajon. In their open letter, the signatories called for the exact opposite than the other group – namely, they believe that Ukraine’s resistance must be supported with all possible means.

After a group of left-wing intellectuals, gathered around the last head of the Communist Party of Slovenia and the first President of our country, Milan Kučan, sent a letter to the government, urging it to rethink its stance on the war in Ukraine, an even larger group of intellectuals with different worldviews responded to the letter in question with its own letter. The latter, unlike the former, believe that we should support Ukraine by all means possible. While the leftists assessed that Ukraine’s territorial integrity was not possible and that a path has to be found where both sides could win, the other group advocates for a different position, calling for the condemnation of Russian crimes and a consensus in the Slovenian and European public that Russia’s attack on Ukraine is unacceptable, as they believe that peace must contain at least the basic features of justice. They are calling for support for the Ukrainian resistance with all necessary means.

In an open letter to the Prime Minister, Robert Golob, and Minister of Foreign Affairs, Tanja Fajon, the wide range of signatories summed up their views on recent developments in Ukraine in eight points. They strongly condemned the Russian regime and, unlike the signatories of the other letter, made it clear that they do not believe disarmament is a reasonable solution. They believe that peace can only be achieved with “strong support for the Ukrainian defence.”

We are publishing the letter in its entirety below:

“1. We are pleased that there is a broad consensus in the Slovenian and European public on the unacceptability of the unprovoked and brutal attack by the Russian Federation on the sovereign, internationally recognised state of Ukraine. We are pleased that we have succeeded in uniting in condemnation of the atrocities committed by the Russian regime against Ukrainians. In these times of dark skies for Slovenia, Europe and the world, we are reassured by the fact that we largely agree that the killing of children and the helpless, the barbaric sieges we once observed in horror when they happened in Bosnia and Herzegovina and Croatia, the starvation, shooting and destruction of once flourishing towns and villages, the attacking of civilian buildings, persecuting or even deporting people from their homes, looting and burning food supplies, demolishing cultural monuments and, ultimately, the unilateral annexations have no place in modern Europe and deserve unconditional condemnation. What we also have in common is the desire for the suffering to end as soon as possible, and for peace to prevail. And it is on this common consensus that the policy that Slovenia should defend in international forums must be built.

  1. However, realising the desire for peace under the current circumstances is proving to be an extremely difficult task that requires truly sensible action. This is not just because the aggressor is currently unwilling to abandon its destructive plans and expansionist ambitions. If peace is to be truly lasting and concrete, it must carry at least the basic features of justice. Otherwise, it will sooner or later turn out to be just a pause before a new attack or even the type of peace that we see in cemeteries.
  2. In order for peace to be just, it is first and foremost necessary to listen to those who have been arbitrarily and brutally deprived of peace. In the case in question, these are the citizens of Ukraine. If, at the beginning of the unprovoked Russian attack, they had decided by themselves that the best way to protect their country, its future and human and natural resources would be by not resisting the too powerful force and just waiting for better times in silence, then we should have accepted their decision without disagreement and belittling. However, they decided otherwise.
    We assume that they also chose the decisive and armed resistance because the enemy and the ideology which they were forced to face on the 24th of February of this year are not actually new. They are not only tightening their grip on the territory of Ukraine, but they also deny the Ukrainian national identity and culture, as well as the nation’s right to exist independently. They deny the right of Ukrainians to decide their own destiny, and they belittle the Ukrainian language, ruining it by often using vocabulary and actions that we know all too well from our history, and of which the recently deceased writer Boris Pahor often reminded us in his writing. In the territories that have already landed under Russian occupation, from Crimea to the Kherson district, this has fully been confirmed. Since the Ukrainian people as a community have decided to defend the existence of their country and identity with weapons, we believe that their choice is binding even when considering the appropriate conduct of Slovenian foreign policy. If we would decide otherwise, we would be agreeing with the logic of imperialism and denying the values on the basis of which Slovenia gained its independence. We believe that it is not possible to credibly condemn Russia’s aggression against Ukraine and, at the same time, make moves that would lead to the weakening of the Ukrainian resistance as a basis for a just and lasting peace.
  3. This means that we must support the Ukrainian resistance with all the means that we, as a member of the world community of states, have at our disposal. Also because the regime of the Russian Federation has already grossly violated the principle of the inviolability of state borders in the past, which has been the pillar of European and world order after the Second World War. The fact that the brutal violation of the territorial integrity of Georgia and Ukraine, together with the tacit the facto abolition of Belarus’ independence, passed without any serious consequences for the Russian Federation not only set a dangerous precedent but also served – not for the first time in modern European history – as an incentive for a frontal attack. It is therefore inadmissible for foreign countries to agree to trade with the territory of the attacked country in the name of “peace for our time.” In the past, Slovenia itself has been a victim of expansionist scandals and genocidal policies of regimes in its neighbourhood. This is one of the reasons why it is in the vital interest of our country to pledge all its reputation and influence to oppose a return to the “Munich format” of negotiations, where the affected country is waiting for a decision to be made by the self-proclaimed political superpowers. The failure of the “agreements” from Minsk proves to us that such a format does not lead to stability or peace, but only serves to justify violations of the international law and leads to further aggression.
  4. It can, of course, also be argued that the attitude of the Western countries, which were considered the winners of the Cold War, towards the Russian Federation, which had to face the loss of a great empire and the uncertain fate of many compatriots in other parts of the failed Soviet Union, has not always been appropriate and respectful of the sensibilities of the Russian public and nation in the last three decades. But it would be wrong to just accept the interpretations of the current Russian ruling regime about the feeling of being threatened by the expansion of the Euro-Atlantic ties to Eastern Europe as the drive for its irrational decisions. We must not forget that the desire of Ukrainians to become members of the European Union stems from the same aspirations that Slovenia had before its accession in 2004, as well as other post-communist countries. And in light of the recent months, the pursuit of an alliance membership, which would likely be able to deter Ukraine’s stronger neighbour from its desire to attack, is not only perfectly reasonable, but also very relevant.
  5. In light of the developments over the last two decades, it should be noted that the nature of the Russian regime is a key factor in encouraging countries in its neighbourhood to integrate as quickly and thoroughly as possible into transnational alliances located further west. Even before the frontal attack on Ukraine, it became clear that the Russian regime does not recognise the subjectivity of the Ukrainian people and state. Thus, in the area it considers to be in its sphere of influence, it does not tolerate autonomous political and social development in individual countries. In the regime’s eyes, Ukraine’s “sin” is not so much the separation from Russia but more the departure from the undemocratic model that prevails in it. The ability of Ukraine and other Russian neighbours to choose their own path to the future must not be less important than the security concerns of the Russian public, if it can even express them credibly at any given time, in a language and actions worthy of a peaceful community of countries.
  6. Finally, Slovenia, like other European countries, must support Ukraine’s resistance to Russian aggression on the basis of its own fundamental interests. It is clear from the official statements by Vladimir Putin and other prominent representatives of the Russian regime that they are not questioning “only” Ukraine’s statehood, but the entire European system, which resulted from the democratisation process in the Soviet Union under Mikhail Gorbachev. Therefore, it would be naïve to think that concession when it comes to Ukraine would stop the revisionist intentions of the Russian regime. Past experience shows us that this is much more likely to only encourage them further. The substantial resources that the Russian regime has invested in financing undemocratic forces in Europe and elsewhere over the past decade – even as the two largest countries in the EU sought an agreement that would satisfy Russia’s foreign policy interests in Ukraine, albeit at the cost of international law – testify that destabilising the European project is as important of a goal for the official Kremlin as the territorial expansion of the former Soviet and Russian empires.
  7. In view of the above, we insist that a sensible policy towards Russian aggression against Ukraine requires a persistent effort for peace, which, in our view, can only be achieved with loyal and determined support for the Ukrainian defence chosen by Ukrainians at the outbreak of war. We also believe that the search for lasting peace must come from unwavering respect for the sovereign and democratically expressed will of the Ukrainian people.”

The signatories of the open letter addressed to the Prime Minister of the Republic of Slovenia and the Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Slovenia are:
Luka Lisjak Gabrijelčič
, Aleš Maver, Frane Adam, Gorazd Andrejč, Matej Avbelj, Samo Bardutzky, Aleš Berger, Bojan Brezigar, Miro Cerar, Milan Dekleva, Jasmin B. Frelih, Pavle Gantar, Boris Golec, Gregor Golobič, Tamara Griesser Pečar, Igor Guardiancich, Roman Jakič, Ivo Jevnikar, Janez Juhant, Janez Kopač, Miha Kosovel, Attila Kovács, Primož Lubej, Marko Marinčič, David Movrin, Andrej Naterer, Jurij Perovšek, Rajko Pirnat, Renato Podbersič, Alenka Puhar, Renata Salecl, Brane Senegačnik, Branko Soban, Mitja Steinbacher, Dejan Steinbuch, Janez Stergar, Rok Stergar, Simona Škrabec, Ivan J. Štuhec, Janez Šušteršič, Žiga Turk, Uroš Urbas, Peter Verovšek, Gregor Virant, Peter Vodopivec, Janja Vollmaier Lubej, Taja Vovk van Gaal, Simon Zupan, Andreja Žižek Urbas, Lilijana Žnidaršič Golec.

Tanja Brkić

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