“Economic recovery after aggression is not actually all that difficult; what is more difficult are the memories of the atrocities and the search for answers to the questions of why something happened,” the President of the Slovenian Democratic Party, Janez Janša, said, among other things, at the economic forum in Poland.
Between the 6th and the 8th of September, the President of the Slovenian Democratic Party (Slovenska demokratska stranka – SDS), Janez Janša, is attending the 31st Economic Forum in Karpacz, Poland. The Forum, which is traditionally held in early September, is the largest conference in Central and Eastern Europe, attracting more than four thousand political, economic and social leaders from more than 60 countries in Europe, Asia and the Americas every year. The Forum’s mission is to create a favourable climate for the development of political and economic cooperation between European Union Member States and their neighbours.
On Wednesday, the President of the SDS party took part in a debate entitled: “Europe in the Face of New Challenges.”
“I believe that on the 24th of February 2022, Europe changed due to Russia’s aggression against Ukraine. The vast majority of the European population did not notice this change, but from that date onward, Europe has been trying to find answers to this challenge,” the SDS party President said in his opening remarks. He assessed that in many areas, the first European response had been successful, “more than I expected it to be.” “When the Russian aggression against Ukraine began, only a few of us among the 27 European leaders were convinced that Ukraine would fight back, defend itself, and survive,” said the President of the SDS party, pointing out who the three prime ministers were who first ventured to Kyiv after the start of the Russian aggression, adding that some of his European colleagues did not share the same conviction when the aggression began. “When some of us suggested that we should give Ukraine all the help we could, both moral and political, and make sure it joined the European Union, one of our colleagues, who is not from a small country, asked what we were talking about. He said that we do not even know whether Ukraine will still exist in a week’s time and that we cannot talk about something that may not exist in a week’s time. Someone else, also from a bigger country, said that a solution would have to be found for Russia, whatever happens with Ukraine,” the former Prime Minister remembered the discussions at the European Council.
European leaders on the payroll of Russian companies
“Today, we are talking about concrete responses to the challenges and after the European public’s reaction to the Russian aggression – just remember all of the rallies in support of Ukraine – the European institutions are on the side of Ukraine,” the President of the SDS party said. With this, he added that when we talk about concrete responses to these challenges, we also see a long road of compromises. “The European response is a compromise. But it is not enough. It could have been different,” said the SDS party President. He also recalled the Slovenian experience of independence, adding that even in a situation where Yugoslavia had collapsed, the European powers could have done more, which would have meant fewer deaths and fewer refugees, “but the European Union is a union of compromises.” He also pointed out that if the EU did not have democracy, if it did not have the influence of the media, support for Ukraine would be much lower today. “Of course, today we are far from what we could have done for Ukraine, but much more has been done than we expected at the very beginning,” said the former Prime Minister, also underlining the important role of Poland.
When asked whether we are facing a difficult winter full of discontent because of high energy prices and about what will follow after that, SDS President Janez Janša said that at the moment, the more important question is what will happen in the next few weeks, not what will come after winter. “Not all European countries are in the same situation when it comes to Russian energy products,” said Janša, noting that the question at the moment is also what Putin will do after the prolonged aggression against Ukraine. “What is important for Europe, above all, is that it continues to help Ukraine with arms,” said the SDS party President.
When asked whether he was surprised by the level of corruption that had been uncovered in the wake of the aggression against Ukraine, he replied that everyone was surprised by the level of corruption, including him. “It was a surprise to see how many former and current European politicians are or were members of the boards of some large Russian energy companies. There were also some who you would never expect to sit there,” said the President of the SDS party.
Answers will have to be found as to why the war happened
On the reconstruction of Ukraine after the aggression, the SDS President said that it is difficult to make plans for the future at a time when you are still fighting, when people are still dying on the battlefields and when you are in danger. “Economic recovery after aggression is not actually all that difficult; what is more difficult are the memories of the atrocities and the search for answers to the questions of why something happened,” Janša said. He also recalled that on his way to Kyiv in March, when the vast majority of European politicians did not believe that Ukraine would survive, the OECD Secretary-General called him and told him that plans were already being drawn up to rebuild Ukraine after the war. He also spoke about the reconstruction of Croatia and other countries in the Balkans after the war in the 1990s.
Janša believes that the future of the European Union lies not in a European federation but in a European Union of nations. “If the integration is pushed in the direction of a federation, the EU will collapse,” the former Prime Minister said, pointing out that in such a case, the Treaty would also have to be amended, but there will certainly be no consensus on this. “For some governments, this is an easy issue because they play the politics of compromise and think that if they can just vote on some issues, all the problems will disappear. But this is not true; new problems will arise,” said the former Prime Minister. He added that those who did not understand why Brexit happened also do not understand Europe.
When asked who should take responsibility for the situation in which the European Union finds itself in relation to Russia, Janša replied that Europe had been confronted with many warnings over the past decades that have been ignored. “Many bad decisions have been made by the West, and there has also been a lot of naivety. Do I think Russia will change? It will, but only when there is a real transition. But at the moment, I do not see any signs of that yet, so there is still a long struggle ahead of them,” concluded the President of the SDS party, Janša.