April 19. 2024. 8:16

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Slovenia keen to take part in Ukraine reconstruction

Slovenia expressed an interest in participating in the post-war reconstruction of Ukraine as Prime Minister Robert Golob was in the country on Friday in what was his first visit to Ukraine.

Post-war reconstruction was a significant item on the agenda of talks with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy and Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal, and specific areas of interest have already been identified.

Speaking to Slovenian media, Golob stressed Slovenia was particularly interested in the post-war recovery of Kharkiv province and the city of Izium, which had been picked among several potential cities.

“Bucha was on the list too, but we soon learned that the city is already in the middle of the process of reconstruction. The Ukrainians then proposed that we focus on Kharkiv province,” he said.

Another argument in favour of the region is that Kharkiv and Maribor, Slovenia’s second-largest cities, are twin cities and that the building housing the Slovenian consulate there was destroyed by a Russian rocket in the very first days of the attack on Ukraine.

“We support their wish to bring post-war reconstruction as close as possible to the places that were occupied and are most in need of it,” Golob added.

Several Slovenian companies have already expressed interest in participating in post-war reconstruction, including the rebuilding of hospitals and schools.

“We want our companies to be directly involved in the reconstruction of Ukraine. So rather than just sending money, we want to activate companies that can launch certain projects,” he stressed.

In addition to post-war reconstruction, Slovenia wants to help Ukraine with de-mining. “The Ukrainians have big problems due to landmines, for example now at planting time, when many fields are inaccessible or dangerous,” Golob said.

He announced that Ukraine would in future set up its de-mining agency, with one member on the agency’s board being an expert from Slovenia.

Slovenia has extensive de-mining experience through ITF Enhancing Human Security, a de-mining fund set up in 1998 that has conducted de-mining activities across Southeast Europe as well as in Lebanon and Azerbaijan.

(Sebastijan R. Maček | sta.si)