By: Davorin Kopše
In the international arena, we are witnessing the greatest, worst, and widest world tensions since the Cold War. Europeans are following this in the broadest sense, especially in relation to the United States, Russia, and China. Complications between the US and Russia, on the other hand, between China and the US, and the artificial alliance between Russia and China are also important. All combinations are intertwined with ideological and economic interests, and history and resentment are also strong factors.
In the thirty years of independence, Slovenia can boast of important achievements. Compared to the previous country, we have greatly increased our gross domestic product, and by about 50 billion we are far ahead of all the countries that were once Yugoslav republics. And not just per capita, but absolutely. Independence was therefore the right decision, where it was a matter of realising the centuries-old dream of Slovenes to write their own judgments. To make a dream come true, you always must wake up first, but we see that there are those who are still sound asleep or at least napping.
During its independence, Slovenia joined important international integrations, which it assessed as cultivating the same values as Slovenes. The goals of these organisations are noble, maintain world balance and peace, guarantee human rights and general development, the aim of which is to make life permanently easier for people. The most important such organisations are certainly the United Nations (UN), the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OECD), the European Union (EU), and NATO.
Perhaps we are most directly, and above all, most visibly marked by membership in the latter two. There is no Slovene who would not know that we are members of the EU and the NATO military alliance. We held referendums to join the two, which confirmed the legitimacy of the decision with a high percentage. After many years of agony within the two Yugoslavias, where we have suffered because of our historical past and a different sentimental soul, we have joined new connections. We joined the military alliance with our own army, and Slovenia decides in the pact on an equal and independent basis.
NATO has not yet disappointed us, although some would like to hang various wrong decisions on it and demand its exit. These are the ones who do not understand that this is not an offensive organisation, but it is built specifically for defence tasks, which it also successfully carries out. Within NATO, we are ready to defend our values and development gains with military force, which is an inalienable right.
It is these rights that Russia is trying to take away from Ukraine, which wants to become a member of NATO. Russia believes that NATO enlargement threatens it but let me remind you of what has already been said, NATO is a defence organisation. It only threatens attackers. So, if Russia does not attack, it is in no way threatened. At least not from NATO. But Russia has a tendency to expand its territory and its direct influence. It proved this by occupying Crimea and supporting Russian separatists in the Donetsk region of Ukraine, where Russian minorities resisted official authorities with copious Russian help. Similar to what happened in the 1990s in Croatia and Bosnia and Herzegovina.
Outline of world events in the spheres of interests
I cannot go into details at this point, but if we walk around the world, we come across many interests caused by various international players. Here, it seems that Europe, as many times in history, is not united, but on the contrary. The strong interests of individual countries, especially Germany and France, are often visible. In this context, we may soon have to worry about NATO, where it will not be possible to make decisions in the light of this fact. Slovenians have not entered such Europe and NATO, so we must strive to stop these trends.
Over the last decade, Europe has begun to resist the leading role of the United States, which has been a stabiliser of world peace and balance of power, at least since its entry into World War II. On the one hand, individual EU countries are giving in to authoritarian Russia out of economic interests, and on the other hand, the EU has not been able to conclude a trade agreement with the US that would bring the most to the EU economy, households, and individuals.
Former US President Donald Trump has not given in to the mighty China, which some claim is rising to the world throne. Now, the US is weaker than China. Trump knew that a strong China with its political system is a threat to the world because it does not respect human rights and does not respect the basic rules of fair competition in economic development. From plagiarism of industrial products, they have moved to the mode of cyber intrusions and the theft of patents, which allows them to rapidly develop further. Its economic growth has been accelerated by over-intensive globalisation. The relocation of production to China has benefited them and the rest of the developed world its dependence.
As China grows stronger, Russia has become very attached to it. Through its markets, it amortises the damage caused by economic sanctions from the United States and parts of the EU. China is becoming increasingly influential in Russia also because of capital takeovers. They are increasingly present in Russian companies and energy giants. Without this, Russia would economically have been on its knees long ago, which would have meant significantly less military power.
By strengthening its economic and military power, China can afford to cause tensions in the Far East, and Russia on the borders of its European neighbours. However, it should be borne in mind that on a global scale, China’s threat in the Pacific is much greater than Russia’s threat to Europe. China, above all, has an appetite to dominate, so it is trying to weaken South Korea by supporting North Korea, and it has no settled territorial issues with Japan. These are also strongly present in Taiwan, which is in a way part of China’s territory, but Taiwan still has all its own attributes of the country.
The Taiwan issue is historically quite complex. The Chinese Qing dynasty simply annexed it to China, and for a time it de jure even fell under Japan, which lost it as a loser in World War II. Taiwan is a self-governing unit that officially has the attributes of a state within China and a high degree of independence. It has its own legislation, its own president (presidential system) and its own currency, so we can safely label it as a state. Taiwan experienced an economic boom in the 1960s (the so-called economic miracle), and it was then that China’s appetites for full annexation or unitary rule began to increase.
The big question is what would have happened in the Far East if the naval forces of the United States, Canada, Australia, as well as England and New Zealand had not been present in the Pacific for decades. They have been conducting the largest military exercises in the world RIMPAC – Rome of the Pacific Exercise (naval exercises in the Pacific) every year for years. Nowadays, however, one must be aware that wars are not limited to a certain territory but affect practically the whole world.
An initiative to strengthen cooperation with Taiwan
Everything I wrote was also aimed at clarifying my view of the recent interview of Slovenian Prime Minister Janez Janša for Indian television, where he stated, among other things: “If they decide freely, without coercion, military intervention, extortion or strategic fraud, as is currently happening in Hong Kong, that they would like to be part of China, we will support them in that. But if the Taiwanese people want to live independently, we will support them in that as well.”
This is the central sentence, which mainly disturbed the Slovenian opposition KUL, and many media came to its aid. Chinese politics, which I briefly described above and is undemocratic, responded with a brief statement that it did not like this. Logically, it did not. So what, even freedom-minded people and advocates of values that guarantee human rights do not like China’s politics.
The statement is completely in line with the Slovenian and foreign policy orientation of the EU, which many unfortunately do not understand. It is especially characteristic of the uninitiated that they immediately jump into the air with criticism, but later, as a rule, it turns out that Janša is far ahead of them in terms of thinking, approach, and implementation of politics. In this case, too, it will undoubtedly be so. About three months ago, the EU supported enhanced cooperation with Taiwan. The Prime Minister’s announcement of the opening of a Slovenian representation in Taiwan is therefore fully in line with the policy and goals of the EU and Slovenia. More than half of the other Member States already have such representations.
The media reported that just days after the interview, some companies lost business with China, but no one said which one. What if after the interview, those companies that wanted to do business with China came forward, but they failed, and the interview came in handy to justify their failures? They may be revealed soon, but no doubt this is mostly just another empty politically motivated pomp.
Davorin Kopše is a war veteran for Slovenia, a candidate for MEP and an active citizen.