“The resolution to designate Russia as a terrorist state is an act of solidarity and would place Slovenia on the right side of history. This is a test of the moral compass,” Slovenian Democratic Party (Slovenska demokratska stranka – SDS) President Janez Janša pointed out at Thursday’s extraordinary session of the National Assembly, the main topic of which was the discussion of the SDS party’s proposal for a resolution on the classification of Russia as a state sponsor of terrorism. The resolution has already been adopted by many Member States of the European Union, and in November of last year, the European Parliament also adopted it – however, the left-wing Slovenian MPs did not support it at the time. When it was adopted, the European Parliament also called on EU countries to follow suit. However, the Slovenian National Assembly did not vote on the proposal, which was already rejected by the National Assembly’s Committee on Foreign Policy last week.
Last Wednesday, the Committee on Foreign Policy of the Slovenian National Assembly had already voted on the proposal to designate Russia as a state sponsor of terrorism, but the resolution was rejected. The proposers wanted our country to support the victims of aggression and to express our condemnation of Russia’s attacks on the civilian population and on civilian and energy infrastructure. This is a clear attempt to achieve political objectives by intimidating civilians, which shows compliance with terrorist methodology. Slovenia would thus show its full support for the Ukrainian people as they “defend their homeland while fighting for the universal values of freedom and democracy.”
“The resolution to designate Russia as a terrorist state is an act of solidarity and would place Slovenia on the right side of history. This is a test of the moral compass. This session is a remedial test for all those who voted against the resolution. There is not just a military mission going on in Ukraine, what is going on there has elements of genocide, crimes against humanity and elements of international terrorism, and the resolution lists these elements, but the fact is that there are no differences of opinion on this in the whole civilised world. What is happening there is happening in front of the eyes of the world public,” said Janez Janša, who pointed out that Slovenia was the only Member State to reject the resolution.
Opinions on the adoption of the resolution were divided, with Janša calling them “empty excuses,” as if condemning the Russian Federation as a terrorist state would condemn the entire Russian nation. “We heard these words after some citizens of this Russian nation protested in Prešeren Square and demanded that Russia be declared a state that supports international terrorism,” Janša explained, adding that with this resolution, the SDS party is also condemning the part of the Russian nation that supports Putin’s aggression – “This is a fact”, he was clear. Janša called on all those who voted against the resolution to reconsider their decision, because in this case, we are talking about aggression against an independent state, “the aggressor is using the methods of international terrorism in full view of the whole world, methods that he has already used more covertly, in part, within his own country,” Janša explained, using the example of Chechnya. He pointed out that the international public turned a blind eye at the time, and because there were no sanctions, Russia can now afford to do what the public has seen it doing.
Then the Minister of Foreign Affairs Tanja Fajon took the floor, who stressed that Slovenia had been an ally of Ukraine from the very beginning and would remain so in the future, but added that the resolution proposed by the SDS party has no basis, and that the government did not agree with the assertion that the Russian people were also responsible for the actions of the Russian regime and that the blame was not collective but individual. She stressed that the leadership must be punished, but that this was not possible with the proposed resolution, which had no legal basis.
MP Franc Breznik: I see a great ignorance or denial on the part of the Foreign Minister when it comes to these matters in the last 20 years
The floor was later given to SDS MP Franc Breznik, who began by repeating the statement and words of Charles Michel, President of the European Council, who, in his opening address at one of the meetings last March, stated that “Russian aggression is simply and clearly geopolitical terrorism.” He also quoted two other statements by two EU representatives who agreed that Russian aggression is terrorism, and he gave some examples in his explanation. In his words, the Slovenian Democratic Party was responding to the state of the Parliamentary Assembly of Europe, to the resolution adopted by a large majority in November 2022, which highlighted not only the actions in Ukraine but also in other neighbouring territories and the victims of the regime.
Later in the debate, Breznik revealed the real reasons why the members of the ruling coalition are unable to support the resolution. He began by saying that Slovenia is facing the dilemma of whether to follow the values set out by the fathers of the European Union, namely; Adenauer, Monnet, Schuman and de Gasperi, or the values of Tito and failed Communism. He pointed out that the values of the coalition MPs were still centred on the previous regime, otherwise they would have condemned the terrorist acts of the late Janez Zemljarič, but they did not, and they are thus also unable to condemn Russian state terrorism.
“It is a question of protecting one form of state terrorism and another form of state terrorism. Both of them stem from the so-called third totalitarianism. Here is the problem. Here lies the embarrassment of the MPs,” Breznik was critical. “The problem is, if you have your political godfathers in a regime that encouraged state terrorism and kept them in power, […] then you always have reservations,” he was clear.
“For the sake of what is right, Slovenia should take the side of those countries that adopted the resolution,” said an MP from the New Slovenia party (Nova Slovenija – Nsi), Jernej Vrtovec, who explained that the NSi party shares the opinion of the SDS party regarding Russia’s implementation of terrorism against Ukraine. He also recalled that more than 30 years ago, Slovenia also had a similar fate to that of Ukraine today, “it was attacked, aggression took place, human rights were violated, which is why it is even more difficult for me to understand the behaviour of some representatives of the authorities and, on the other hand, of certain individuals for whom Russia is an intimate option,” said Vrtovec. “In the Social Democrats party (Socialni Demokrati – SD), we have been condemning the military aggression against Ukraine since its beginning,” said Damjan Zrim, SD MP. As he explained, for them, this is an attack on international law.
The Freedom Movement MP: ‘Russophile’ is not an insult to me
“Instead of focusing on the common good, we are once again fighting windmills and dealing with enemies who are not here,” commented Lena Grgurević, a Freedom Movement (Gibanje svoboda) MP, who apparently does not consider the resolution important enough. She said, among other things, that the position of the government of the Republic of Slovenia was clear enough and that the resolution was not even supported by the USA, which has the legal basis for it, so she saw no reason to bother with it at all. “I hope I will not be labelled a Russophile,” Grgurević said, explaining that even if this were the case, it would not be an insult to her.
Dr Anže Logar also took the floor, recalling the sad story of a Ukrainian electrician who lost his life in the war. While he certainly supports the position of many who condemn Russia’s aggression against Ukraine, he asked the Slovenian government a question about the excuse for not adopting the resolution, saying that there is no legal basis for it. “Since the adoption of this resolution by the European Parliament, has the Government or the Foreign Ministry prepared or at least started to prepare a legal framework for listing Russia and other countries as terrorist states?” asked Logar, demanding a clear answer as to whether they intend to do so.
The Coalition side, while admitting unequivocally that Russia is the aggressor and Ukraine the victim of the attack, then gave arguments or excuses as to why they would not vote in favour of the resolution. The Speaker of the National Assembly, Urška Klakočar Zupančič, thus sought parallels between the Kremlin regime and the former reformist government of Janez Janša, which earned her the indulgent smiles of her fellow Members of Parliament. There was also the argument, as there which had also been mentioned in the Committee on Foreign Affairs before, that they did not want to condemn all peaceful Russians, to which Janša replied that the resolution did not condemn them, but condemned those who supported aggression.
The resolution did not initially pass the vote in the Committee
As SDS President Janez Janša pointed out at the meeting of the Committee, the decision will not go unnoticed abroad, not even in Kyiv and Moscow. And indeed, it did not. The online media have already reported on this move by the Robert Golob government. Labelling Russia a supporter of terrorism would show that we support international law, said diplomat and former ambassador to the USA, Tone Kajzer. “It seems to me that it would be appropriate for Slovenia to join the parliaments of Poland, Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia in supporting this resolution, and it would thus show, as it did with the visit of then Prime Minister Janez Janša to Kyiv, that we support international law and condemn the violations and crimes committed by the aggressor. The latter is also important in terms of Western countries showing the regime in Russia that crimes will not go unpunished.”
A resolution would help the government resolve its embarrassment
Anže Logar said at the meeting of the Committee that “the EU’s actions in response to Russian aggression show an escalation of diplomatic pressure, as it has already adopted several sanctions packages. It would therefore be a good idea for Slovenia to follow this escalation of pressure and clearly identify Russia as a terrorist state.” Janez Janša said that the resolution was an expression of solidarity with a suffering nation. “We wanted to help resolve the embarrassment of the slip-up in our attitude towards Russia and its aggression. The resolution itself was not drafted for domestic political reasons, but it is possible that it will be rejected for those reasons. Before voting on the adoption of the resolution on the designation of Russia as a terrorist state, just ask yourself who will be happy if the resolution is adopted and who will be happy if the resolution is rejected.”
The coalition had already rejected the proposal in advance
The coalition had already rejected the draft of the resolution in advance. Foreign Minister Tanja Fajon said after the tabling of the motion that any initiative to include Russia on the list of state sponsors of terrorism was a punishment for the entire Russian nation. Prime Minister Robert Golob said that there had been many condemnations of Russian aggression by Slovenia, and there was no need for new political declarations.
A resolution describing Russia as a state sponsor of terrorism and a state using terrorist means was adopted by the European Parliament last November, which also called on EU countries to do likewise. So far, six EU Member States have followed suit.