The Slovenian ambassador to the European Council’s soft-touch approach to Russia is causing waves within the KULMUN community, especially in the wake of the EU’s stringent sanction regime against the superpower. In this candid interview, Asrthi Srinivasan reveals Slovenia’s solution to the Ukrainian crisis, and the next steps for Europe…
So, let’s get straight to the point: what is the position of the Republic of Slovenia on the Russian-Ukrainian crisis?
Having been in a similar situation in the past, we have been similarly trying to work out with the similar war-like situation, when people were similarly giving up their lives. It has been quite a high level of fidelity, and it has not ever been a nice picture. Very sadly, it actually was civilians who have paid the price for this. It has been a political war, Slovenia really paid the price for it—we saw how people really paid the price for it. And, now we see that in Ukraine it is not the same thing. Now, I think it is the time for the European Council to ensure that Ukraine is safe. We believe that the dignified integrity of Ukraine is what’s important right now.
Do you feel that Slovenia is under threat from Russian Federation in the current state of affairs?
I think the way that Russia has been behaving presently has put everybody under threat. I mean, we do know that any peace treaty that has been crossed, the reason why we had the G7, the G8, and if The Hague declaration is not going to be kept by, it is of no use. And, it is exactly what Russia has done—not exactly kept its word. But, we want this relationship to be a working, good relationship. Nobody wants a war. We have been through wars in the past, and whether it is Russia or another country, we need to ensure that stable peace is created and sustained. We do realise that at the end of the day it is what makes people happy. And, if it is something we are to overcome, then we have to ensure it is done. It is not about Russia; it is about making the world work.
But as we remember, Russia annexed Crimean Peninsula in 2014. What position should the European Council take on this, in your opinion?
Presently, I think the European countries should consider withdrawing the sanctions on Russia. I would strongly recommend it. That is actually a major support for Russia economically, and if we would withdraw them, I think, it will make the difference politically.
What sort of difference would it make then? What would it show them?
I believe the trade in Russia has been hit by the sanctions, I mean, it hit both sides—as they still have the sanctions on the European Union. If we would withdraw sanctions, it will actually say ‘okay!’, you know? It will sound apologising.
Are you against sanctions in general then, or you think they did not give the effect you expected?
Giving them sanctions will not be effective, we definitely need to withdraw it. Ukraine already does not have gas from Russia, which in a way puts the economy at stake. It is not exactly the way it should work. Two major continents should be functioning. We have to be welcoming and have to be peaceful. It is not to be done militarily. People have to sit down, and we have to talk.
Do you think there is a place for Ukraine among the European nations?
Yes, it is an equally important country for us, the EU definitely wants to support it in totality, and I think every country will put in everything it can in order to help to rebuild its economy, to give them the feel of being empowered. It needs to feel that it is strong, and that it is part of the European Union, and I think we would definitely lend a hand in any way possible.
Do you think that Ukraine will find its place among the European nations?
I believe so. Definitely, it is just a matter of time, and as I said, it is the matter of working together. It will happen inevitably.
Don’t you think that the Russian reaction will be even more angry than it was then in the Ukrainian revolution of 2014 (Euromaidan)?
We hope that it will not happen, it will hopefully happen in a much more positive way. Right now, we just hope that Russia will not take any more action. But, from the current experience, we know that it is exactly the way not to do things. The world has reacted to Russia. Hopefully, they got the point, and it will not happen again.
That wraps up the first interview of the week. Stay tuned for more insight from delegates throughout the conference.