Ljubljana related

30 Aug 2022, 12:01 PM

STA, 29 August 2022 - Prime Minister Robert Golob and European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen exchanged views on topical EU challenges, including the situation on the electricity market, as they met over working lunch on the sidelines of the Bled Strategic Forum (BSF) on Monday. 

Discussing the situation on the electricity market, where prices have skyrocketted in recent days, the pair agreed that voluntary gas saving and solidarity will be crucial in the coming months.

They also pointed to the need for the EU to remain ambitious in diversifying its energy supply and in the green transition, Golob's office said in a statement.

A changed geopolitical situation in Europe and the EU enlargement to the Western Balkans were also on the agenda, in particular Bosnia-Herzegovina's accession process.

Speaking to the press after the meeting, Golob said "a number of measures were discussed that must be taken, from very short-term ones to long-term measures that will last for years".

He hailed what he termed a "very open dialogue with the Commission", and said that Slovenia could and would contribute a lot in searching for solutions.

These solutions involve "protecting Europe's energy sector and energy companies from the speculative attacks that have been taking place over the past week", he said.

Von der Leyen, who also met with President Borut Pahor as part of her attendance of the BSF, meanwhile tweeted she had had "very good exchanges" with both officials.

"We discussed the importance of further strengthening ties with our Western Balkans partners and of tackling the situation on energy markets and security of supply," she added.

This was Golob and von der Leyen's second meeting since the Slovenian prime minister travelled to Brussels in June, the same month his government took office.

30 Jun 2022, 13:12 PM

STA, 30 June 2022 - Slovenia will receive EUR 1.49 billion in grants from the EU post-Covid recovery mechanism, which is almost EUR 286 million less than the initial allocation, show recalculations by the European Commission. The lower amount is a result of more favourable economic trends in 2020 and 2021 than originally estimated.

Just shy of EUR 1.78 billion was first earmarked for Slovenia under the EUR 672.5 billion European Recovery and Resilience Mechanism that is part of the EUR 750 billion Recovery Fund.

The calculation of these funds was based mainly on the size of population, GDP per capita compared to the EU average, and the average unemployment rate in 2015-2019 in relation to the EU average.

In addition to these criteria, the calculation for the allocation of 30% of the final amount also took into account the fall in GDP in real terms in 2020 and the overall real terms decline in economic activity in 2020-2021.

Regarding this segment, the regulation took into account the Commission's autumn 2020 economic forecast, but also provided for new recalculations for EU member states based on final data. The deadline for publishing the new figures was today.

In the Covid year 2020, Slovenia recorded a decline of "merely 4.2%" in GDP, and a 8.1% growth in 2021. Meanwhile, Brussels forecast in November 2020 that Slovenia would suffer a 7.1% GDP decrease and a 5.1% growth in 2021.

The actual situation was thus significantly better, and since the Slovenian economy fared better during the Covid crisis, with increased public spending and government stimulus measures, the country will now receive less in recovery grants.

Up to EUR 3.2 billion in loans are available to Slovenia in addition to these grants as part of the mechanism, under which the Commission borrows on behalf of member states and then allocates the funds to them, either through loans or grants. This ceiling is calculated as 6.8% of gross national income in 2019.

Same as other member states, Slovenia prepared the National Recovery and Resilience Plan based on this mechanism. The roadmap was approved at EU level a year ago, and the country envisaged EUR 2.5 billion to fund programmes and projects, including the entire quota of the grants allocated and EUR 705 million in loans.

Due to a lower grant allocation, the country will now have to make up the gap with loans. Even before the latest developments, the new government coalition said that it will strive to make use of the entire spectrum of possible funds through changes to the national plan. It has until the end of August 2023 to amend the plan.

Slovenia already received EUR 231 million in advance funding from the Commission for the implementation of the recovery plan last September, and is expected to apply for the first instalment of the grants of just over EUR 57 million by the end of this month.

22 Jun 2022, 10:09 AM

STA, 21 June 2022 - The parliamentary EU and foreign affairs committees outlined on Tuesday Slovenia's foreign policy for the future. Following the closed session, Prime Minister Robert Golob said Bosnia-Herzegovina should get immediate EU candidate status and that Slovenia would help Ukraine with demining in the future.

Talking to the press, Golob said that the proposal for Ukraine and Moldova to become EU candidate countries was a clear message to the two countries that they can count on EU membership. He believes that Bosnia-Herzegovina deserves to receive the same message from the EU Summit this week.

"This is the first time that the European Commission did not use a technocratic approach," Golob also said. Today, Foreign Minister Tanja Fajon also advocated this course of action for Bosnia-Herzegovina at the foreign affairs ministerial in Luxembourg.

Last week immediate candidate status for Bosnia was proposed by President Borut Pahor in a letter to EU Council President Charles Michel, while Golob advocated for it during his first visit to Brussels as PM, when he met with Commission President Ursula von der Leyen and Michel.

The two committees approved today a decision advising the EU Council to perform an in-depth discussion on the Western Balkans when in session later this week.

Moreover, some 20 MEPs appealed to EU Parliament President Roberta Metsola to support the proposal. The move was spearheaded by MEP Matjaž Nemec (S&D/SD), who succeeded Fajon in EU Parliament when she became foreign minister some three weeks ago.

Nemec expressed belief that Metsola will convey a clear message of support for immediate candidate status for Bosnia at the EU Summit. Apart from him, the appeal was also signed by Slovenian MEPs Milan Brglez (S&D/SD), Irena Joveva and Klemen Grošelj (both Liberals/LMŠ) and Franc Bogovič (EPP/SLS).

The two parliamentary bodies also discussed Slovenia's approach to aid for Ukraine, with Golob saying that Ukraine was currently most interested in Slovenia's demining capabilities.

"We have already promised this type of help. This way we meet the interests of Ukraine and are not forcing upon them what they do not need. If they request something that is in our power to do and it makes sense, we will provide more help."

Touching on Slovenia's decision to send armoured vehicles to Ukraine, he said the decision was made by the previous government and that it had not been a solo action by Slovenia but a coordinated effort by allies.

Meanwhile, opposition New Slovenia (NSi) MP Janez Žakelj said the government had not made clear its position on the war in Ukraine.

He also said the government was inconsistent in its stance toward defence spending. "At home, we're talking about drones and guerrilla warfare and in the EU we support increase in defence investments and battalion group formation, which was already advocated by the previous government."

20 Jun 2022, 11:24 AM

STA, 19 June 2022 - Slovenia has produced a proposal to grant Bosnia-Herzegovina EU candidate status as early as at the EU summit next week. Foreign Minister Tanja Fajon will present it to her EU counterparts on Monday at a session of the Foreign Affairs Council in Luxembourg.

The proposal obtained by the STA shows that Bosnia would be awarded the status at the 23-24 June summit, which will be attended by PM Robert Golob.

Golob suggested during his Brussels visit earlier this week that he will propose awarding Bosnia-Herzegovina the candidate status.

Under the proposal, Bosnia would have to adopt the laws set out in the political agreement reached by Bosnian political parties at talks in Brussels a week ago before accession talks could start.

These are the law on the High Judicial and Prosecutorial Council, the law on courts, the law on prevention of conflict of interest and the law on public procurement.

Once these laws enter into force, negotiating chapters 23 on justice and fundamental rights and 24 on justice, freedom and security could be open.

The other negotiating chapters would be opened once Bosnia has met the criteria set out in the Brussels agreement in the area of elections and other relevant areas.

As sources at the EU told the STA, Minister Fajon will, if she gets the opportunity, present the proposal at Monday's meeting of EU foreign ministers.

President Borut Pahor has been recently actively advocating granting Bosnia the candidate status.

This week, he outlined the initiative in a letter to European Council President Charles Michel, while he is expected to seek support for it at the Three Seas initiative summit in Latvia on Monday.

17 Jun 2022, 09:09 AM

STA, 16 June 2022 - Prime Minister Robert Golob expressed Slovenia's support for granting Ukraine status of a candidate for membership of the EU as he met European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen in Brussels on Thursday. He underscored the significance of the EU's unity in response to the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

"I expressed Slovenia's support for Ukraine to get candidate status. We confirmed this at the government session yesterday and I made this very clear," Golob told reporters after his meeting with von der Leyen.

Golob expects the Commission to give a positive opinion on granting Ukraine EU candidate status as it announces its position on Friday.

He acknowledged that Ukraine, Georgia and Moldova are under direct threat. "But things can turn around quickly and sometimes it's better to act preventively. In Slovenia, we believe the Western Balkans is a region that deserves a strong and ambitious European policy," he said.

He said Slovenia did not link the process of granting EU candidate status to Ukraine, Georgia and Moldova to the Western Balkans. However, "we would not want the region to be overlooked," said Golob, who is in Brussels on his first official trip abroad since his government was sworn in on 1 June.

Slovenia does not intend to set any conditions for Ukraine to be granted candidate status, he said.

He underscored the need for EU's unity in its response to the Russian aggression against Ukraine. The unity already exists with regard to the need to support Ukraine and the inadmissibility of Russian's invasion.

"We need to work on this. Everything else is but nuances," Golob said about differing views on response to Russia's aggression emerging in Europe. One set of positions advocates starting peace talks as soon as possible, with the other warning against yielding to Russia.

In Slovenia positions differ as well and two groups of prominent figures addressed each their own letter to the government to present their views. The positions will be discussed in parliament.

Golob said talks were the only way out of the conflict. "Every war ends at the negotiating table. Peace talks don't mean conceding victory to the aggressor," he said.

Speaking about Slovenia's continued support for Ukraine, he said Ukrainian Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal had not asked him about weapons as they talked on Wednesday, but whether Slovenia could help in demining.

"Let's help where we can help and where help is wanted, and that is our position," he said. He also mentioned assistance by way of taking in refugees, patients and providing humanitarian aid.

He also discussed the matter with European Commissioner for Crisis Management Janez Lenarčič. In a Twitter post, Lenarčič welcomed "the reaffirmation of Slovenia's commitment to the fundamental values and the core EU".

Golob told reporters that the 24 April election marked an important turning point in Slovenia's foreign policy. "For us, Europe comes first. Slovenia has always been a core EU country and will remain so. And that is our basic message," he said.

Golob will conclude his first visit to EU institutions on Friday with a meeting with European Council President Charles Michel. In the morning, he is scheduled to meet representatives of the Renew political group in the European Parliament.

08 Jun 2022, 08:28 AM

STA, 7 June 2022 - Deputy Speaker of the Ukrainian Parliament Olena Kondratiuk thanked Slovenia for its support for Ukraine as she addressed the press with Foreign Minister Tanja Fajon in Ljubljana on Tuesday. Fajon said Slovenia would also support Ukraine in its EU accession efforts and announced the Slovenian ambassador would return to Kyiv next Tuesday.

Fajon expressed her full support for Ukraine, stressed that Slovenia condemned Russia's aggression and also called for an independent international investigation into human rights violations in Ukraine.

She added that Kondratiuk and her had discussed the process of Ukraine's accession to the EU as well.

"Slovenia supports a clear European perspective for Ukraine, but in this process we need to preserve the sensitivity of the EU enlargement process itself and the membership perspective of the Western Balkan countries," Fajon said.

She added that the road would not be easy, but the minister and Kondratiuk pledged to "do everything we can to help Ukraine on the path to EU membership".

Fajon added that the ministry had this week set up a special task force to provide assistance and support to Ukraine in various areas.

She announced that Slovenian Ambassador to Ukraine Tomaž Mencin, who retreated to Rzeszow, Poland, at the start of the Russian invasion, would return to Kyiv on Tuesday.

Kondratiuk thanked Slovenia for all its assistance - humanitarian, military and economic - and for its clear condemnation of the Russian aggression.

She said the talks had been positive and congratulated Fajon and the new Slovenian government on their electoral success.

She stressed that obtaining EU candidate status was of utmost importance for Ukraine and thanked Slovenia for its support.

The speaker also said that Ukraine supported the accession of the Western Balkan countries to the EU, as in her view any enlargement of the bloc was positive.

Kondratiuk noted Ukraine was aware that a lot of hard work and a long path lay ahead when it comes to becoming a full fledged EU member.

However, Ukraine is ready - it has completed two questionnaires with the European Commission, which was satisfied with the responses, she said.

I can confirm that Ukraine has met 65% of the requirements for EU candidate status, Kondratiuk added.

Brussels and some member states have warned there can be no shortcuts to joining the EU. Some Western Balkan countries have been waiting for candidate status for years.

Kondratiuk argued that candidate status for Ukraine would be an important victory against Russian President Vladimir Putin and a demonstration of united support for Ukraine's EU accession.

She stressed that Ukraine did not negate the efforts of the Western Balkan countries to join the EU, but Ukraine would "walk its own path".

Fajon added she was aware of the great symbolic importance of the candidate status for Ukraine. "We will work towards Slovenia supporting candidate status as soon as possible, but meeting the criteria and benchmarks of course remains crucial," the foreign minister said.

Kondratiuk was also received by President Borut Pahor, National Assembly Speaker Urška Klakočar Zupančič and National Council President Alojz Kovšca, and met with members of the parliament's foreign policy, EU affairs and defence committees.

Klakočar Zupančič said in a statement after the meeting that Slovenia was united in its support for Ukraine and condemnation of Russian aggression in the country, noting that Slovenia had received many refugees from Ukraine and provided humanitarian aid.

The pair also discussed Ukraine's efforts to join the EU, with Kondratiuk once again thanking Slovenia for all the assistance and support, noting that Ukraine wanted and strived to gain the candidate status at the upcoming EU summit at the end of June.

The deputy speaker of the Ukrainian Parliament noted the declaration of the Slovenian parliament officially condemning the Russian aggression in Ukraine.

She said she had proposed to Klakočar Zupančič that a new, similar resolution be passed to "condemn the genocide committed by Russia against the Ukrainian people", which has already been done by several countries.

Kondratiuk again asked for military support and other forms of assistance, in particular Slovenia's expert support in rebuilding Ukraine's infrastructure after the war ends. She also invited the Slovenian parliamentary speaker to visit Ukraine.

28 Apr 2022, 16:18 PM

STA, 28 April 2022 - Eight Slovenian cities applied for the European Commission's Climate-Neutral and Smart Cities 2030 Mission, and three of them, Ljubljana, Kranj and Velenje, have been chosen to participate in the project, featuring in total 100 cities.

Ajdovščina, Izola, Maribor, Nova Gorica and Ormož also applied from Slovenia but they were not chosen. Due to the high level of interest - 377 cities wanted to participate - support would also be offered to those that were not selected.

In addition to cities from the EU, the Commission has selected 12 more cities from the countries linked to the EU's Horizon Europe research and innovation project.

The project will receive EUR 360 million in 2022-2023 through the Horizon Europe programme. Promoting alternative fuel vehicles, public transport, car sharing and green roofs, it will encourage the participants to become climate neutral by 2030.

The Commission finds it important to encourage the cities to work together to help others become climate neutral by 2050 given the significant carbon footprint of urban areas.

Learn more about the project

14 Apr 2022, 14:26 PM

STA, 14 April 2022 - Parties standing for seats in parliament in the 24 April election largely support the EU's enlargement to the Western Balkans, but are more reserved when it comes to NATO expansion. They all declare support for the rule of law in the EU and part of them favour deepening the bloc's integration but disagree weather Slovenia is part of the core EU.

Unlike incumbent ruling coalition parties, which see Slovenia as part of the core Europe, most of the current centre-left opposition parties blame the government for removing Slovenia from that core, a process they say should be reversed, as some others, such as the Left or the National Party (SNS), say it has never been part of that core.

The parties have very different ideas as to the areas the EU should deepen its integration, with the SNS standing out in opposing any further integration or even enlargement of the EU or NATO and even arguing Slovenia should quit NATO.

The Freedom Movement advocates deepening European integration in various fields in a bid to increase the Europeans' prosperity. The party also supports stepping up the process to integrate Western Balkan countries and Eastern Europe into the EU. It advocates NATO's expansion to the partner countries and enhancing Slovenia's role in the alliance.

Likewise, EU and NATO enlargement is advocated by the ruling coalition parties. The Democrats (SDS) would have NATO invite democratic countries in the vicinity which want to join and which share the same values. The party believes the EU's integration should deepen in cyber security, healthcare, defence and military technology, humanitarian aid, migration and climate change.

Its coalition partner, New Slovenia (NSi) supports the EU's enlargement to Western Balkan countries and Ukraine when they meet the requirements, and NATO's enlargement on condition the countries meet the criteria and take a sovereign decision to join. They say decisions on the EU's foreign and security policy should be taken by qualified majority.

The Connecting Slovenia alliance, which also includes the ruling coalition party Concretely, supports all forms of cooperation between EU member states that enhance the bond among them. They see healthcare and development of the energy network and food security as areas where integration should be upgraded. They say enlargement to the Western Balkans is in the EU's geostrategic interest and believe NATO is pursuing a responsible enlargement policy.

The Left stands out among the four-centre left opposition parties as being staunchly opposed to NATO enlargement. The party would like to see the EU's integration to deepen over social and worker rights and tax policy, and the legal framework in support of solidarity and equality. They do not think EU enlargement should be an end in itself, but say the EU needs reform that is not based solely on the free movement of goods and capital.

The Social Democrats (SD) and Marjan Šarec List (LMŠ) advocate a strong and united EU with the former advocating enhancing strategic autonomy in the common security and defence policy and the latter favouring the EU's phased confederal development and arguing the EU should distance itself from illiberal policies.

The two parties, along with their partner Alenka Bratušek Party (SAB), support speeding up EU enlargement to the Western Balkans, with the SD and LMŠ also explicitly mentioning Ukraine and the SD noting the need for a clear timetable for the Western Balkans and a long-term European perspective for Ukraine. The parties also support NATO enlargement, but the LMŠ does not deem it realistic in the mid-term and the SD says it must be well thought-through.

The SAB is in favour of a common European security policy and a single European control of external border surveillance.

All the parties vocally supported the need to respect the rule of law, but the SNS and several conservative non-parliamentary parties oppose procedures taken against Hungary and Poland. The NSi called for building a new bridge of trust and dialogue between Western and Eastern Europe over the rule of law.

Our Land, the party of the former Agriculture Minister Aleksandra Pivec, says they support EU values, but oppose political action taken against individual countries over their political beliefs. They say Poland was welcoming refugees from Ukraine just as the EU took action against the country.

The SNS made the same argument while going a step further by saying Hungary and Poland were not answerable to Brussels bureaucrats.

Judging by their answers to STA queries, perhaps the strongest advocates of a comprehensive deepening of integration and even federalisation of the EU, complete with a social and fiscal union, are the Pirate Party and the green party Vesna, both non-parliamentary parties.

17 Mar 2022, 09:49 AM

STA, 16 March 2022 - Prime Minister Janez Janša has reiterated that the EU must offer Ukraine a fast track to EU membership, telling BBC World Service radio on Wednesday that this is a strategic decision.

"We have to accept the challenge, we have to stop pretending that this is a normal situation and we need 15 years of negotiations and bickering about small issues. This is a strategic decision," he said.

For Ukraine EU membership represents a security guarantees framework. "They need some institutional guarantees and if the EU is is that for them, we have to respect it," he said, adding that "the hot potato is on the EU table".

Janša was speaking to the BBC after he made a surprise trip to Kyiv yesterday along with the Polish and Czech prime ministers.

He said the discussion with the Ukrainian leadership was about "real issues" such as sanctions, humanitarian and technical aid, and also military help.

Asked whether they were able to offer solid military help, he said a lot of help had been offered so far, but not all offers have been fulfilled yet. "But the time is of the essence ... We discussed very concretely how to increase the speed of delivery."

He also said people were happy to see the officials travelling to Kyiv because during the last three weeks people were mostly going the opposite way, including ambassadors of EU countries.

"Now we have to somehow turn the trend and our first proposal ... when we returned from Kyiv this morning was that the EU has to send its representative back to Kyiv to have there somebody who can represent us physically," he said.

Asked what should happen to Russian President Vladimir Putin, he said that if Putin was prepared to negotiate, "he will have influence over what will happen with him in the future."

And if Russian forces withdraw, sanctions will be lifted. "The faster the withdrawal, the faster the lifting of sanctions."

11 Mar 2022, 12:04 PM

STA, 10 March 2022 - Prime Minister Janez Janša has said the EU summit in Versailles should commit to Ukraine being guaranteed membership of the bloc similarly as the leaders did for the Western Balkan countries at the Thessaloniki summit in 2003. EU leaders should also pledge to do everything in their power for this to happen as soon as possible.

Similarly as in the case of the commitment to end the EU's reliance on Russian energy, Janša said Slovenia was against talking of one year or the other in debate on Ukraine's application for membership, arguing that promises what would happen in then years meant nothing to the Ukrainians.

Considering the draft statement, EU leaders are to pledge continued political, financial, material and humanitarian aid to Ukraine but are unlikely to give the country any clear guarantees over its membership of the EU that Ukraine wants.

The leaders are to reaffirm the wording from the EU-Ukraine Association Agreement that came into effect in September 2017 and that makes only a vague reference to membership: "The EU acknowledges the European aspirations of Ukraine and welcomes its European choice."

The EU leaders are to note that a few days ago EU member states called on the European Commission to draw up an opinion on Ukraine's membership application in record time. Pending this opinion, and without further delay, the member states will further enhance the ties and deepen the partnership, reads the draft statement.

Asked how far EU leaders could realistically go on the issue of Ukraine's EU membership, given the weak language in the draft statement, Janša said there were several drafts and they were changing, but that even that was a big improvement on the positions two weeks ago that it should not be mentioned at all.

He said they had spoken today with the leaders of most of the Ukrainian parliamentary parties, and he noted the remarkable unity among the Ukrainian people and politics. "Today is a very important day and I hope that the EU summit will be in tune with the times, which have changed drastically in the last two weeks," he stressed.

Asked how likely it was for the EU to offer Ukraine an Association Agreement plus, Janša said that amidst war the Ukrainian Symphony Orchestra played the European anthem in Kyiv's central square on Wednesday, and European flags were flying on many buildings shelled by the Russian army. "In Ukraine they are also fighting for Europe," he added.

He said that today they had also spoken with Petro Poroshenko, the former Ukrainian president, who he said was 100% behind the current President Volodymyr Zelenskyy despite being his political opponent.

Poroshenko said something worth considering, namely that a Ukrainian pilot in an old Mig-29 is doing more at the moment to defend European democracy than ten state-of-the-art F16s in a hangar, Janša said.

"The consequences of what happens in Ukraine will shape the years and decades to come in the EU and the rest of the world," said Janša, adding that the Australian PM had told him recently they were closely following developments in Ukraine, as it would depend on those how China would act in the Pacific.

The Versailles statement, to be adopted by EU leaders this weekend, is in Janša's view a strong document that sets out a political framework for the EU's real strategic autonomy, not only in energy, but also in food security and defence. There are few meetings and political documents of such importance, he said.

EU could offset cost of sanctions with seized Russian assets

STA, 10 March 2022 - Arriving for an EU summit in Versailles on Thursday, Prime Minister Janez Janša said an idea was taking shape in the EU to establish a fund to pool the money from frozen accounts of Russian oligarchs and state institutions. The funds would be used to repay the damage sustained by member states due to sanctions imposed on Russia.

Asked about Slovenia's position in the debate on compensation for the cost of sanctions in EU member states, Janša said that as far as Slovenian companies were concerned the Economy Ministry was working on solutions and had been in continuous contact with the affected companies.

When it comes to the European level and threats from Russia, he said the idea was being formed to set up a fund at European level to which the money currently frozen in the accounts of Russian oligarchs or state institutions would flow, and that it would simply be used to pay for the damage.

He regretted this was happening but said that "the one who started aggression must realise that there are two ends to every stick".

Asked whether there was any estimate of the damage suffered by Slovenia this far, the prime minister said that unlike the widely held belief by the public in Slovenia, Russia was not Slovenia's strategic economic partner and Slovenia had larger volumes of goods trade with at least 20 smaller countries.

He did say that any market loss was unnecessary, expressing the hope that the Russian nation, who contributed a lot to the European civilisation through history, would muster the strength to elect leaders who would not jeopardise others.

Commenting on rising food prices, Janša said these were only partly a result of the war in Ukraine and partly of higher energy prices, which had been rising even before Russia's aggression on Ukraine.

However, he said the EU had attained more than 80% food self-sufficiency through the common agricultural policy, which meant there could be shortages of some foodstuffs, but Europe would not go hungry.

Slovenia has recently also made great effort in this direction and has commodity reserves for turbulent times. "There may not be ten types of croissants on the table, but we will not go hungry," he said.

However, rising prices were a reminder that agriculture should be given appropriate attention.

Janša urges EU get rid of Russian energy ASAP

STA, 10 March 2022 - Slovenian Prime Minister Janez Janša called for the EU to end its reliance on Russian energy as soon as possible as he arrived for an EU summit in Versailles on Thursday. He condemned what he described as a series of crimes against humanity committed by Russia in Ukraine.

Asked by reporters how the EU would respond to the Russian bombardment of the maternity ward in Mariupol and whether time had come to ban imports of Russian gas and oil, Janša said it was not just the hospital's bombardment but a series of crimes against humanity in Russian aggression on Ukraine.

He said an important decision that should be adopted by the EU was to exclude Russian energy products as soon as possible. He said Slovenia was not advocating setting any date, but merely the commitment that this should be done as soon as possible. "Talking about that happening in ten year's time is an insult to those who are dying in the war," he said.

The step is not simple but if the EU joins forces it has some stockpiles for turbulent times and then this can be done in a time when it can still affect Russia's positions on Ukraine, he said.

Earlier, as he arrived at a meeting of the European People's Party held ahead of the EU summit, Janša said that Russia was committing war crimes in Ukraine. "Anyone can see that it is against all conventions," he said as quoted by Reuters.

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