Interview for RT (Russia Today)
Ljubljana, 8.5.2010 | interview
Natalia Novikova (Host):Ahead of the anniversary of the victory over Nazi Germany many European leaders are planning to attend celebrations in Moscow. To understand a little better about how the role of the Red Army is perceived in modern day Europe I’m now joined by the President of Slovenia Mr Danilo Türk, Mr Türk thank you very much for speaking to us on RT. Slovenia is among many European countries that have been occupied by the Nazi Germany during World War II and ahead of the 65th anniversary of the fall of the Nazi regime some states are beginning to rewrite history, undermining role of the Red Army in the World War II. Have you noticed this tendency?
President of the Republic of Slovenia, Dr Danilo Türk: Certainly. I have noticed the tendency to rewrite history. And this is not surprising because history is constantly being interpreted and reinterpreted. But for Slovenia there are certain things, which are very clear. Slovenia was occupied during World War II by both Nazi Germany and Fascist Italy. It was divided into two parts and each of them was illegally annexed to the respective Fascist or Nazi state. So for us World War II was a matter of life and death as a nation. We had a strong liberation movement and towards the end of the war the liberation movement in Slovenia, which was part of the larger liberation front of the entire Yugoslavia, led by Marshal Tito at that time, was able to liberate the vast majority of our territory on our own. The Yugoslav liberation force, the army, which emerged during World War II was one of the more stronger parts of the alliance against Nazism and Fascism. And of course it cooperated with the Red Army and small parts of Yugoslavia, including a small part of Slovenia, were liberated by the Red Army and we are grateful to the Red Army for the liberation contribution.
Natalia Novikova: Mr Türk, what was the role of the Red Army in your view in the road liberation of Europe?
Dr Danilo Türk: It was critical. It is clear that Soviet Union was the most affected country during World War II. It was attacked by Hitler’s armies and carried the main burden of the entire war effort on the side of the alliance of anti-Hitler forces. So it’s quite clear that the sacrifices were enormous and that the contribution the Red Army made to the liberation of Europe was historical. There was nothing comparable to that in the history of World War II and I think that deservedly this year at the time of the 65th anniversary of the capitulation of Nazi Germany entire Europe respects and expresses its respect for the contribution that Red Army and Soviet Union made to the liberation of Europe.
Natalia Novikova: Do you think there are still signs of Nazism in some European states like Estonia and Latvia for example where we have seen SS veterans parades this year?
Dr Danilo Türk: There are elements of Nazi ideology everywhere. They are not equally strong or equally relevant or equally rooted in domestic political cultures. But they exist. And they have to be combated. Therefore it is very important that the entire public opinion is mobilised against them. We are talking now a few days after the 1st May celebrations, which in some European countries were characterised and partly spoiled by the rallies of Nazis and we have to be against that. We have to be very strongly against any form of revival of Nazi ideology, irrespective how small it looks.
Natalia Novikova: And as Russia and the United States have recently signed a new Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty agreeing to significantly reduce their nuclear arsenals. Would you want to see other European nuclear powers following their example?
Dr Danilo Türk: Yes, certainly I do. But I would like to enlarge your question. I think that United States and Russia made an important step towards a broader programme of disarmament or arms control reform in Europe. We have to see not only nuclear arms but also conventional forces. The time has come to look at the European agreement on conventional forces (Treaty on Conventional Armed Forces in Europe) and establish a new partnership within the entire European space – from Atlantic to Vladivostok, from Vancouver to Vladivostok. The entire area has to be covered by that. And I think that right now we have a unique historic opportunity to make further steps, therefore I also welcome the proposal made by President Medvedev a few months ago when he proposed a new agreement, a new security treaty for this entire area. I’m not sure whether the agreement can be finally adopted in the form in which it was proposed but the important thing is that the initiative is there. And there are many other ideas, which are now coming to the fore, and they are becoming more and more realistic because the recent agreement on reduction of strategic nuclear weapons has created a new environment in which we can more seriously and with a greater prospect of success discuss all other security issues. This is historically important.
Natalia Novikova: NATO’s Secretary General Mr Rasmussen recently suggested that Russia should be involved in building an antimissile defence shield in Europe. Do you support that idea and do you think the shield is needed in the first place?
Dr Danilo Türk: Well, these are two questions. One can obviously discuss the question of whether the shield is needed. But let us assume that all those who participate in such discussions come to that conclusion – that yes, it is after all better to have a nuclear shield than not to have one. I think in that case, obviously, it would be very good if this is an integrated system and system, which integrates NATO and Russian potential into a comprehensive whole, including the territory of Russia. There should be installations in all the relevant territories, including the Russian territory. That would generate a new spirit of partnership. So I think that the initiative of the NATO Secretary General is a very welcome one.
Natalia Novikova: Slovenia was the first former Yugoslav republic to recognise the independence of Kosovo. Why are you not rushing to recognise the independence of South Ossetia and Abkhazia?
Dr Danilo Türk: Well, these are different situations. Kosovo was in a state of humanitarian disaster in 1998 and 1999 when it was also subject of an international military action and the subsequent international regime, which has fully internationalised the area of Kosovo and has developed new set of actual circumstances on the ground, which were leading towards its independence, the independence of Kosovo. Now, we have taken note of that development and have recognised the independence of Kosovo and we are committed to independence of Kosovo because we believe that for the future independence of Kosovo is an element of security in a region. So we favour that. And of course we were very carefully in assessing the circumstances, the legal aspects and so on. We would like the OSCE mechanisms to work and to figure out what kind of security arrangements are necessary for the future and how to stabilise the Caucasus. We believe that Caucasus region as a whole requires careful attention and the solution of a variety of so-called frozen conflicts. And then I think within that context, within the context of solution of frozen conflicts of the Caucasus we can then find appropriate solutions for Abkhazia and South Ossetia as well.
Natalia Novikova: The latest economic crisis in Greece spread fears in Europe that it might be on a verge of another economic turmoil. What’s your take on financial climate in the EU at the moment and should we expect a domino effect?
Dr Danilo Türk: Certainly not. I don’t believe that the domino effect is likely. Now all the efforts have to be focused on dealing with the situation in Greece. The European Union has done its part. It has also involved International Monetary Fund and I think that that’s very good and very important. I think the role of the International Monetary Fund should be adequate, which means that it should grow and that European Union should take advantage of the mechanisms that exist only in the International Monetary Fund for dealing with such situations.
Natalia Novikova: Slovenia and Russia are partners in onshore section of the South Stream project, the project that is meant to boost gas supplies from Russia to the European consumers. Do you think together with Nord Stream it will ensure total energy security for European consumers?
Dr Danilo Türk: Well, it will certainly be a major contribution to the energy security and I would like to say that obviously one has to look for the energy sources where they are. And they are largely in Russia. So Russia is a critically important strategic and energy partner of Europe. I believe that what is needed now is a kind of a multilateral framework, which would bind together all these different projects. Now, Slovenia and Ljubljana is now becoming a seat of the energy regulators of European Union. We shall be hosting an international agency, an EU agency in Ljubljana. So, obviously, we are interested in energy issues beyond our own energy needs. We have a feeling of being a part of the European debate on energy. So, multilateral arrangements for dealing with energy are necessary. We have been working too much on an ad hoc basis so far. And that was necessary. Also in the whole process of preparation on the
South Stream there was a need for bilateral agreements. But as we move forward and as a comprehensive system of energy supplies is being built we would need also a multilateral framework so that all the involved countries will be active and that we will be able together to manage our energy security for the future.
Natalia Novikova: Thank you very much, Mr President, for talking to us in RT.
Dr Danilo Türk: My pleasure.