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Friday, December 2, 2022

Janez Janša for the Polish media: The war in Ukraine can be a historic opportunity to strengthen the geopolitical position of Central Europe

By: Domen Mezeg / Nova24tv

“I am afraid that we will find ourselves in a situation where there will be more pressure on Ukraine to give up its territory than on Russia to withdraw from the occupied territories. The German and French elites do not see a different solution for Ukraine,” Janez Janša told the Polish media.

We are publishing a summary of the interview conducted for Polish media by journalist Goran Andrijanić (a Croat living in Poland) in Karpacz at the last Economic Forum. The main topic of conversation was the war in the east of the continent, which is still going on. He was interested in how former Prime Minister Janez Janša assessed the EU’s reaction to this war, or to Russia’s aggression against Ukraine. “The question of the policy of the European Union and its main countries towards the war in Ukraine is an open question at this point,” he explained in the introduction, adding that European policy can turn in different directions. At the same time, he reminded that in the first days of the war, besides Poland, there were only a handful of countries that believed in the survival of Ukraine.

According to him, most European countries believed that Ukraine would cease to exist in a week or two. Many European political leaders were preparing for Moscow’s victory and a quick agreement with the Russian side. Even major intelligence services predicted a tragedy for Ukraine. Despite such assessments, it became clear that Ukraine will stand, after the government and Volodymyr Zelensky remained in the capital. More concrete political aid and support to Ukraine began only with the visit of the four in Kyiv, in the initial period of the invasion of Ukraine (Janez Janša, Mateusz Morawiecki, Petr Fiala, and Jarosław Kaczyński). After that, Ukraine received a proposal for the status of a candidate for EU membership.

In all of this, according to Janša, the decision of the Ukrainian political leadership and the nation to fight was key, and the visit to Kyiv was above all a demonstration of support for this resolute policy. “As a result, support for Ukraine in the European West also grew.” According to him, this was evidenced by both public political gatherings and the departure of Western journalists to war zones. As a result, the world learned about the atrocities committed by the occupier in the occupied territories. And Western countries have slowly joined Poland in taking a more assertive stance towards Ukraine. “For Ukrainians, our arrival was a big deal. Everything we saw confirmed what we heard before: Kyiv will never fall. It is a city of three million people, ready for defence. It cannot be occupied.”

France and Germany are not honest about the future of Ukraine

“Life in Kyiv went on; people were determined to fight. From the conversation with the officials, we clearly understood that they wanted to fight and that they knew what was happening,” Janša summarised his memories from Kyiv. Now, according to him, the key question is whether Europe still believes in the future of Ukraine. The official position is favourable to Ukraine. However, it is clear that France and Germany are not sincere about this. Both countries are eagerly awaiting a ceasefire. And in such a situation, pressure would begin to grow on the Ukrainian side (not on Russia) to give up part of the territory in favour of Russia (to withdraw from the occupied territories). “The German and French elites see no other solution for Ukraine,” explained the former Prime Minister. One of the reasons for this is the fear because Russia has nuclear weapons.

Another reason is the presence of Russian financial resources in European structures, both economic and political. At the same time, he reminds that many European politicians were also members of the boards of Russian companies. It is a process that, according to Janša, has been going on for many years and has serious consequences. The case also shows the enormous credulity of Europeans in relation to Russia. The fact that Europe became dependent on Russian energy sources was the result of a conscious political decision, Janša also believes. We feel the consequences of such a policy today. In the resulting situation, when Moscow blamed Kyiv (in 2006, Russia cut off the gas for the first time), the Russians proposed a gas pipeline that would bypass Ukraine, and the Germans accepted the proposal. In France and Germany, they are able to partially reflect on the mistakes made, but it is still too early to talk about a completely new policy towards Russia.

In Germany, there has not yet been a serious mental shift in relation to Russia, but the steadfastness of the United States gives hope

As the former Prime Minister explains, the strongest German parties – the SPD and the CDU/CSU – have not yet experienced a key mental shift in this area, but the fact that a debate is taking place in German society regarding the burning issue is positive. There has been strong criticism of excessive leniency towards Moscow. “It is the result of pressure from below, from the people, because they see what is happening in Ukraine.” There are also questions about the political implications. It took a long time and a lot of pressure for former Prime Minister Gerhard Schröder to leave his position on the board of Russian companies. And the question is whether he has completely distanced himself from Russia in this respect. The key country currently supporting Ukraine is the USA. That is why Poland should not be afraid of being alone in support. The US has a direct influence on the politics of Western countries, which instils optimism.

Both within the G7 and NATO, the French and Germans do not dare to dispute the pro-Ukraine positions on Ukraine, among other reasons, because they would be acting contrary to the mood of their voters. The key question, according to Janša, is what will happen in the spring of next year. High energy prices mean a huge burden, and it is already possible to hear opinions that soon there will be no money for aid to Ukraine and Kyiv, because it should be easier to prepare Ukraine for a compromise. He points out that these are not publicly expressed opinions, but they always exist and have an impact on the situation. At the same time, Janša reminded that EU aid comes to Ukraine with delays of several months. German arms deliveries are also telling, which is further evidence of hypocrisy. Recently, there was even a protest in the Czech Republic when people demanded a change in foreign policy in relation to Moscow. Janša admitted that it is similar in Slovenia.

Rapid democratisation of Russia is possible only with the military defeat of Moscow, which is crucial for Europe.

Even in Slovenia, there are a large number of pro-Russian politicians and activists who have been silent for months, but have now decided to respond, which, according to Janša, is not a coincidence. It is obvious that it is a coordinated operation, which is likely to intensify in the winter months. But it has long been clear that Vladimir Putin’s invasion is not going according to plan. Otherwise, Putin would have already offered certain conditions for a cease-fire, and Ukraine would be under great pressure, as everyone wants the war to end.

Janša went on to talk about the Ukrainian counter-offensive. In case of success, according to him, this has enormous military, political and moral significance, both for Ukraine and for Russia. “All those in Russia and in the West who believed in a Russian victory yesterday are no longer so certain today. And Ukrainian victories have a great impact on the strategic course of the war.”

Janša is also convinced that German Prime Minister Olaf Scholz/official Germany, who is talking about a “Putin” and not a “Russian” war, is making a big strategic mistake. It is a statement that is simply not true. If nobody supported Putin, they would not be fighting for him. Janša also supports the idea of banning the issuance of visas to Russian citizens, as it can also have an impact on internal events in Russia. It is a measure that can particularly affect influential and wealthy Russians. Rapid democratisation of Russia is possible only in the event of a military defeat of Moscow, as Adolf Hitler was already defeated. This is unlikely to happen, so decades of gradual transformation of Russian society are expected. Janša: “The first condition for starting this process is for the Russians to lose Ukraine in a direct and clear way, so that the Russian citizens would understand that the aggression was the wrong way.”

The war in Ukraine is an excellent opportunity to strengthen the geopolitical position of Central European countries

“This is very important for Europe,” he is still convinced, because we cannot live in constant fear of a Russian attack. That is why, in his opinion, the statement that Ukraine is actually fighting for the future of the European continent is completely accurate. On the other hand, Putin would not stop after a possible victory in Ukraine, but Russia is not economically strong enough to continue to finance the march to the West. A Russian victory would be devastating for the Russian population in the long run. The key is that Russia is defeated in this situation, reminded Janša. “However, it is necessary to specify the matter. We know there is another factor – nuclear weapons.” The key is therefore the advance of Ukrainian forces and a ceasefire on the Russian side, which is why Ukraine needs financial and military aid, it needs 3-5 billion euros per month. Current aid is not sufficient. In this, the EU does not see the sacrifice of Poland, which at the same time accepted millions of refugees. But the opposite is happening – it is trying to squeeze it financially.

As the Slovenian leader of the opposition reminded in the interview, it is an integral part of the ideological war of the leftists, which is gnawing at the Union from the inside. War is a strategic threat to the whole of Europe. Without this culture war, there would be no war in Ukraine at all. Without it, Europe would react much more decisively to the Russian threat. At the same time, Janša said that in recent years the EU has been more concerned with Poland and Hungary than with the real danger – Russia. It is also a matter of double standards. “The same solutions are understood as threatening in some countries, but not in others.” A certain problem in the east of the continent (the Visegrad community) is the Hungarian position in relation to Putin and Russia. It is a dispute with Kyiv regarding the Hungarian minority in Ukraine. Hungary provides humanitarian aid to Ukraine, accepts refugees, and does not block sanctions against Russia. It is true, however, that it does not provide military aid to Ukraine, which is now crucial. The war in Ukraine can be a historic opportunity to strengthen the geopolitical position of the Central European countries, so a more coordinated agreement on the pressing issue between them would be crucial. Janša believes that a foreign policy agreement in the Visegrad Group is still possible.

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