The Slovenia Times

Political Overview



Cerar discusses US-Slovenia ties, Western Balkans in Washington

On 14 December 2018, Foreign Minister Miro Cerar met US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and National Security Adviser John Bolton, in Washington, for talks focusing on the relationship between the two countries and the Western Balkans. Cerar also presented Slovenia's position on the implementation of the border arbitration award.

Cerar and Bolton noted the good cooperation between the countries, expressing mutual interest for the cooperation to continue in the future. According to Cerar, the Americans continue to appreciate Slovenia's insights into the Western Balkan region and have been opening the door to Slovenian officials in Washington since independence.

Cerar briefed both Bolton and Pompeo on Slovenia's position on the border arbitration award. "I explained that Croatia was in fact in breach of international and European law in failing to implement the award," he said, adding that he also told them that neutrality was not enough when international law was at stake. "Secretary of State Pompeo appreciated my clearly setting out our view and I believe the issue had not been presented to him this clearly before. Going back to talks wouldn't be productive, Croatia's ignoring international law is very bad for the whole Western Balkan region," said Cerar.

Cerar and Pompeo also discussed the issues that Slovenia has a relevant position on; the EU, relations with Russia, the Western Balkans and the relationship between the US and Slovenia. Cerar stressed the importance of EU accession for countries in the Western Balkans as soon as they meet the necessary conditions, while he labelled US presence in the region at the political level as very welcome. "It is in the interest of Europe and Slovenia and probably also our allies in the US to include this region into transatlantic integration as soon as possible because of security, stability and also because of geostrategic influences coming from outside the EU," Cerar said.

Pompeo and Cerar agreed business links should be enhanced, while Cerar said that the US did not consider Slovenia's relations with Russia problematic. Speaking to Slovenian reporters in Washington after the talks, Cerar was confident that his visit opened a new chapter in US-Slovenia relations. He invited Pompeo to visit Slovenia, saying that President Borut Pahor hosting the Three Seas Initiative next year would make a good opportunity.
Cerar was the first Slovenian foreign minister to visit the State Department since 2010.


Washington, US: Slovenian Foreign Minister Miro Cerar meets US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo (Photo: Robi Poredoš/STA)


Šarec not very optimistic about the prospects of Brexit deal

Slovenian Prime Minister Marjan Šarec said after the EU summit in Brussels on 14 December 2018 that he was not very optimistic about the possibility of the Brexit deal being confirmed in the British parliament.

We have done our job, we have done everything in our power and now it is up to the UK to make a decision, he said, adding that "I don't know what else we could have done to convince them". Šarec was also asked to comment on the statement by British Prime Minister Theresa May that she expected talks in the coming days on additional assurances to ease the reservations regarding the controversial Irish backstop. He said that May's acts were "strange and somewhat hard to understand" and added that she did not know how to say clearly what she actually wanted. According to Šarec, the next stop is the vote in the British parliament. If British MPs decide not to endorse the Brexit deal, there is only one option left - the UK leaving the EU without a deal, he added. The Slovenian prime minister said it was hard for 27 countries to make adjustments to please one country, that the British had decided to leave the EU and now they wanted to make the rest of the EU the victims. We cannot allow this, we cannot do ourselves a disservice, added Šarec, who described the debate as fruitless.

New income tax scheme bringing NGOs around EUR 6m more in 2019

Ljubljana, 15 December 2018 - Slovenian NGOs can look forward to an estimated EUR 6.35m in additional funding in 2019, as a result of having become entitled to the undistributed amounts in the scheme allowing taxpayers to allocate 0.5% of their personal income tax to an organisation of their choosing.

The 0.5% scheme was introduced in 2007 and allows taxpayers to select one or several political parties, trade unions or organisations benefitting society in fields such as the environment, culture, sports etc. as the direct beneficiaries of a share of their income tax. Last year, a total of EUR 9.6m could have been distributed in this way but the final figure was EUR 4.6m, with the rest ending up in the state budget without preferential allocation. In line with changes to the law on NGOs passed last March, the beneficiaries of the undistributed funds will be NGOs. The funds will be channelled in to a special fund managed by the Public Administration Ministry, which will distribute the money through calls for applications. According to Finance Ministry estimates, the additional funding available to NGOs in 2019, as a result of the change, will amount to EUR 6.35m.


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