By: Nejc Brence
At the end of January, the Slovenian media scene was shaken by the news that two Russian spies or members of the Russian intelligence service had been arrested in Ljubljana. It is an undoubted success of the Slovenian Security Intelligence Agency, regardless of whether the arrest took place after obtaining information only within Sova, or whether the information came from one of the foreign agencies. The second, much more likely option proves that Sova has gained in professionalism and trust in recent years. However, the public disclosure of this case certainly did damage in this area and consequently threatened our national security. This is important because it was only one of the so-called sleepless cells in Slovenia. The largest cell, which unfortunately actively supports the Russian Federation in its crimes, is located on Gregorčičeva Street.
On Tuesday, March 7th, 2023, the members of the parliamentary committee for foreign policy discussed The Proposal for a resolution of the National Assembly of the Republic of Slovenia on the classification of the Russian Federation among countries that support terrorism. The proposal was submitted to the parliamentary procedure by the SDS Parliamentary Group, at the initiative of the European Parliament, which already adopted a similar resolution last year. At that time, the European Parliament called the Russian Federation a supporter of terrorism with a huge majority – 494 in favour, 58 against, 44 abstentions. Only the most outspoken Russophiles did not vote for the proposal, among whom, unfortunately, there were also Slovenian MEPs – Matjaž Nemec and Milan Brglez from SD (abstained) and Irena Joveva and Klemen Grošelj from Svoboda (did not vote).
If, on the European floor, the members of Golob’s coalition are still somehow holding back on directly opposing the resolution with such broad support, they are more sincere at home. Despite the fact that the Slovenian political left always has a mouth full of words about human rights, when it comes to voting on them, they always fail the exam. They also did this with this resolution, which was 5 pages long, but can be narrowed down to 5 basic questions:
- As a nation that fought for independence and freedom on its own territory 32 years ago, will we also support the Ukrainians?
- Does the Republic of Slovenia sincerely support the struggle of the Ukrainian nation for freedom and territorial integrity of Ukraine?
- Will we help Ukraine, which defends the rest of Europe on its territory from Russian imperialist policy, with military equipment and political, humanitarian, and economic aid?
- Do we clearly condemn Putin’s terrorist regime and its crimes committed on Ukrainian territory and support their trial at the International Court of Justice?
- Are we on the side of Ukraine or on the side of Putin?
Only the SDS Parliamentary Group answered YES to the first four questions and voted FOR the resolution. In the parliamentary groups Svoboda, Social Democrats, and Levica, they answered NO and voted AGAINST, while in Nova Slovenia they ran away before the vote. Regarding the positions of the parties on the fifth question, you can answer for yourself based on the parliamentary vote.
However, the vote on the resolution is not a fleeting matter, as pro-Russian politics on the Slovenian left already has a long beard and is firmly anchored in Slovenian foreign policy. For example: former foreign minister Karl Erjavec visited Moscow 11 times during Cerar’s government as foreign minister, and Washington not even once. Due to its good relations with Putin’s regime, Slovenia even offered itself as a mediator between the EU and Russia in 2014, when Russia annexed Crimea. The country within the European Union therefore wanted to place itself between the EU and the Russian aggressor, who occupied the Ukrainian peninsula of Crimea. For an outside observer, such an idea is a shock, but for the Slovenian public, it is unfortunately already something completely normal.
Many Slovenian politicians from the left-wing political pole also adorn themselves with bloody medals pinned to their chests by the war criminal Putin. Among the more prominent is the mayor of our capital, Ljubljana. He received the Order of Friendship, and last year, already at the time of Russia’s aggression against Ukraine, he declared this medal “a sign of hope for peace in the world”. Ljubljana, despite all the twisted crimes of the Russian Federation in its history, and especially in recent years, remains a sister city with Moscow. In mockery of all the victims and Ukrainian families who fled to Ljubljana due to the horrors of the war.
Today, the most servile and active Russian cell in Slovenia is located at Gregorčičeva Street 20. According to the government’s foreign policy, Slovenia remains one of Putin’s very few allies in the world, which is why they are apparently already described in the Kremlin as “Nashi lyudi na Gregorchicheva” (our people on Gregorčičeva).
At the top of this cell sits Robert Golob, who was already known as a Russophile during his career as an energy tycoon. In an interview with Primorske novice in 2016, when asked if it was a big shame that Slovenia did not get the vice-president of the European Commission for the Energy Union, he answered that it was, because it was a clash between two blocs of EU members, and the anti-Russian bloc won. He added that the failure was not due to the presentation of the then-candidate Alenka Bratušek, but the fact that they wanted to put a person in the position with unfriendly words towards Russia, which is why he is disappointed. He obviously wanted the pro-Russian bloc led by Slovenia to win the battle.
Today is no different. Before the meeting of the European Council with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, Golob made it clear that Slovenia would not provide additional aid to Ukraine. In light of this, he also commented on the previously described resolution, which he called “unnecessary and inappropriate”. In translation: Slovenian Prime Minister Robert Golob said that prosecuting Russian war crimes is unnecessary and inappropriate. It is a sad reality of Slovenian foreign policy under the current government, which with its words tramples on human rights, denies them to the Ukrainian people, and indirectly takes the side of the Russian aggressor.
Slovenian foreign policy has taken a 180-degree turn once again with the current government. Former Prime Minister Janez Janša, together with his Polish and Czech colleagues, started the path of decisive support for Ukraine at the beginning of the Putin regime’s aggression against Ukraine. Their visit to Kyiv was described by many world media as historic and very important, because Ukraine realised then that it was not alone on the battlefield. Tanja Fajon, today’s foreign minister and European Member of Parliament at the time, could not accept that and said during the visit that it was a farce. German Chancellor Olaf Scholz, who comes from the same political group as Fajon, also put her on the wrong side of history, as he welcomed the leaders’ visit at the time.
And the government remains on the wrong side of history even today. Members of the government coalition sign pamphlets in which they reject aid to Ukraine and equate it with the Russian aggressor and reject resolutions that would put Slovenia on the side of the victim of military aggression from the Kremlin. Now this Slovenian Russophile foreign policy is also perceived abroad, and they urge us to say “do svidaniya” to the Russian sleepless cell “Nashi lyudi na Gregorchicheva” and send them to where they belong. To the dustbin of political history.