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Friday, May 24, 2024

Return to the times of non-alignment

By: Dr Matevž Tomšič

For some time, it seemed that foreign policy was one of the few areas where there would be no radical shift under the current government compared to the direction of its predecessor. Thus, we were expected to witness a certain continuity, as is typical for countries with a long tradition, where there are certain constants in international relations adhered to by every government regardless of its ideological profile and political orientation.

Therefore, Golob’s government continued with a firm pro-Ukrainian orientation in relation to the war in Ukraine, which meant a decisive condemnation of Russian aggression and a commitment to support the attacked country. It did so despite strong pro-Russian sentiments, which are particularly alive in the circles of its supporters. Let’s remember the petitions launched by some of the most influential people of the Slovenian left, led by former President of the country Milan Kučan. They demanded a “more balanced” approach to the war, which in translation meant advocating for greater favour towards Putin’s dictatorial regime. However, Slovenia remained on the common line advocated by the European Union, namely, in line with the alliance with Ukraine.

But the turn came later, with the (new) crisis in the Middle East, which followed the massacre of Israeli civilians by members of the Palestinian Islamist movement Hamas at the beginning of last October. As expected, this was followed by a large-scale Israeli offensive on Gaza with the aim of destroying this terrorist organisation.

THROUGH THE IDEOLOGY OF YUGOSLAV COMMUNISM, THE JEWISH STATE WAS PERCEIVED AS PART OF THE “IMPERIALIST” WEST. AND IT IS TREATED AS SUCH BY THE LEVICA PARTY, WHICH IS THE MOST EXTREME PART OF THE CURRENT GOVERNMENT COALITION, AND WITH IT ALSO A LARGE PART OF THE LEFTIST CIVIL SOCIETY – THE ONE THAT HELPED BRING THE CURRENT GOVERNING SET TO POWER.

The Slovenian government, however, condemned the Hamas attack, similarly to the governments of other Western countries. However, it soon became clear how strongly anti-Israeli sentiments are still rooted in the circles of the Slovenian left. This stems from the Yugoslav times, when the then country advocated a policy of non-alignment, which in practice meant linking to more or less dictatorial regimes from the Third World, including those in the Middle Eastern Arab countries, to which Israel is the main enemy. Through the ideology of Yugoslav Communism, the Jewish state was perceived as part of the “imperialist” West and treated as such by the Levica party, which is the most extreme part of the current government coalition, and with it also a large part of the left-wing civil society – the one that helped the current ruling group to bring to power.

The entire government also succumbed to these sentiments. It began to take more and more pronounced positions on the Palestinian side. The most obvious expression of this is the initiative to recognise an independent Palestine. Here, Slovenia connected with three other European countries – Spain, Ireland, and Malta. But apparently, they are quite isolated within the European Union. It is true that a few countries of the old continent already recognised it in the past, but these were mostly then communist countries (among them Yugoslavia).

Probably quite a few Slovenians who remember their efforts for independence sympathise with such an initiative. But there are no conditions for the recognition of a Palestinian state. If this were to happen now, it would act as a reward for terrorist violence. It would appear that doing so pays off. And let’s ask ourselves what this independent country would look like. We would probably expect – according to European standards – that it has a democratically elected government. But if free elections were held there, those who caused the current crisis – that is, Hamas – would almost certainly win. We must not be blinded: this enjoys the support of most Palestinians. In this way, we would get a country with terrorists in power, which would represent a permanent threat to the near and far surroundings.

With such international political initiatives, Golob’s government is pushing Slovenia away from the so-called core Europe. On the contrary, it returns it to the times of non-alignment, to the society of those who have very little in common with Western civilisation.

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