Prime Minister Janez Janša was a guest on the Sky News’ The News Hour, talking to host Nick Quraishi about the efforts to stop the war in Ukraine and strengthen the security in Europe.
In answer to Mr Quraishi’s first question, the Prime Minister said that in view of the events we have been following in recent days, we could use the words “war criminal” for the Russian President Putin. “I used these words as soon as we saw what had happened in Bucha on Sunday, after that massacre. These are war crimes and there are no other words strong enough to describe these atrocities,” said the Prime Minister.
Russia claims that it is not responsible for the attacks, but Prime Minister Janša said that, as far as he was following the events, Russia at first confirmed the attack but when it saw its results, it started to blame Ukraine. “This is not the first time they have done this. No one believes them,” said the Prime Minister. He continued by saying: “When I saw these attacks, my first thought was that we saw something similar almost 30 years ago, when we were attacked by the Yugoslav communist army in Slovenia, Vukovar, Sarajevo. Since then, we have somehow forgotten that this can happen again. It is difficult to describe these events with words and we really must do everything to help Ukrainians to defend themselves. Until we manage to help them, we might, unfortunately, be faced with such scenes every day,” said the Prime Minister. “I haven’t thought that we would see the images of such atrocities in 2022. Thirty years ago we also didn’t believe that something like that was possible. These are atrocities committed by the Russian army, which in its ideology is similar to the army whose victims we were,” added the Prime Minister. According to him, what we are seeing today in Ukraine is also a result of neglecting the events and processes taking place in Russia since the dissolution of the Soviet Union and the fall of the Berlin Wall. “We believed that democracy would work as a magic tool, that the situation would settle down, that the market economy and democracy would be implemented, but obviously this hasn’t happened. Now that we’re assessing the results, we also have to see the mistakes that have been made, not only on the Russian side, but also on our side,” the Prime Minister said.
The Prime Minister added: “When I’m speaking about us, I’m speaking mainly of the European Union, the West or the side that won the Cold War. After winning the Cold War, some kind of programme, as was implemented in Nazi Germany after its defeat, in different circumstances, of course, should have been implemented for the former Soviet Union or Soviet bloc, and before accepting Russia to the institutions of the civilised world, some kind of decommunisation should have happened. This obviously didn’t happen and now we are paying the price,” said the Slovenian Prime Minister, adding that after this war we will have to fix things that were not fixed on time.
“For the thousands who are dying it’s, of course, too late to change things from 30 years ago. For all those, however, who will face the end of the conflict and peace treaties and who will decide what they sign, it will be important to consider what they are signing, for example a treaty guaranteeing Ukraine peace or territorial integrity. They will probably think twice before signing something like the Budapest Memorandum in 1994, when Ukraine abandoned nuclear weapons and received international guarantees for its safety. Now we see that these were shallow words,” said the Prime Minister. He also said that when he travelled to Kyiv as a member of the first foreign delegation with the Polish and Czech prime ministers, they had a very frank discussion with the Ukraine leadership. They described how such shallow words make them feel.” He said that when speaking about fixing the situation after this war, after this conflict, he is speaking about not repeating the same mistakes and not leaving our work half unfinished.